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HomeGeneralOff-Duty Police Officers Kill Female Shooter in Texas Church

Off-Duty Police Officers Kill Female Shooter in Texas Church

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 Pastor Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church in Houston
Source: ABC News/YouTube

Tragedy recently struck celebrity pastor Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston. An altercation between the off-duty police officers and a female assailant ended in the death of the assailant, leaving two victims injured.

The 36-year-old suspect, Genesse Ivonne Moreno, entered the megachurch premises just before 2 pm, accompanied by her 5-year-old son. She came in wielding a long gun (AR-15 rifle) and opened fire in the church before she was gunned down by security. 

Unfortunately, her son was shot in the shootout and, according to police, was “fighting for his life.” Houston Police Chief Troy Finner also confirmed that an innocent 57-year-old man was also struck by gunfire but was currently in stable condition. However, it’s not sure who shot the boy.

According to police reports, Moreno arrived at the west side of the building in a white vehicle at about 1:53 pm. Upon arrival, she waved her weapon at an unarmed security guard, who subsequently allowed her entry. She then proceeded to open fire in the church’s hallway at approximately 1:55 pm.

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ALSO READ: Tennessee Authorities Continue Search of Man Suspected of Shooting Sheriff’s Deputy

During the exchange of gunfire, officials reported that multiple rounds were discharged before Moreno was “neutralized” and pronounced dead at 14:07. The unfortunate incident occurred just moments before the scheduled start of the 2 pm — Spanish language service. 

The church was having a live stream when the first gunshot went off. Pastor Jorge Basave, who was conducting the livestream, initially continued with the recording to show calm amidst the chaos. “I was worried my fear would be contagious,” he said.

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The incident would have been more gruesome if the Spanish language service had begun. “I can only imagine what would have happened if this happened during the 11:00 service,” pastor Osteen said. “She could have done much worse damage.”

According to investigations, the attacker had “Palestine” inscribed on the butt of her rifle, coupled with other antisemitic writings. However, the motive behind the attack remains unclear. When asked if the responding officers shot the child, the police chief told reporters he didn’t know. “If it was, unfortunately, and that female suspect put that baby in danger, I’m gonna put that blame on her,” Finner stated.

ALSO READ: Sheriff’s Office Arrests 11-Year-Old for Bringing Loaded Gun to School

The suspect also claimed to have had a bomb on her. However, no explosives were found by law enforcement at the scene. “She had a long gun, and it could’ve been a lot worse,” Finner said during a press conference.

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Officials disclosed to Monday’s news conference that the assailant had a documented history of mental health challenges. She had been subjected to an emergency detention order back in 2016. Also, according to public records, Moreno had a long history of arrests and convictions ranging from assault, drug-related offenses and weapons charges.

Moreover, Moreno was known to use multiple aliases, including Jeffery Escalante, and was listed as both male and female in official records. Law enforcement, in their briefing, described Moreno as a Hispanic female.

Investigators continue to probe Moreno’s ties to the church. However, local television station KHOU reported that Moreno’s mother was a member of Lakewood Church. Additionally, the news outlet suggested that staff at the church may have been involved in Moreno’s contentious divorce and child custody proceedings. It could be a revenge mission.

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