HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — Houston police chief Troy Finner said in an update on Monday afternoon that a 7-year-old child shot when a suspect opened fire as Lakewood Church attendees gathered for a Spanish-speaking service a day earlier is fighting for his life.
A 57-year-old man who was also shot has been released from the hospital.
Houston Mayor John Whitmire and Finner are giving an update on the investigation. You can watch that live in the video player above.
According to Whitmire, the mental health of the suspect, identified as 36-year-old Genesse Ivonne Moreno, played a role in the early investigation. First responders also worked overnight on the case.
The shooting has brought up concerns of safety at religious institutions. Whitmire said security will be enhanced around places of worship.
Original report is below
The person accused of firing rounds at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church on Sunday has been identified as Genesse Ivonne Moreno, a 36-year-old Hispanic female, according to a search warrant obtained by ABC13.
We’ve also learned a pro-Palestinian message was written on the gun used by Moreno, two sources briefed on the preliminary investigation told ABC News. Further detail about what exactly the message read was not released. The investigation into the motive of the shooting is still ongoing.
Two people, including a 7-year-old boy, were shot and are in the hospital after Sunday’s shooting, which happened just before a Spanish-language service, and could be heard on the church livestream.
Authorities said Moreno was killed by two off-duty officers.
It all unfolded as thousands of people were packed inside the megachurch.
An investigation is underway after a deadly shooting was reported at Lakewood Church near the Southwest Freeway in Houston, Texas.
Overnight, agents with the FBI, Texas Rangers, and ATF raided a Conroe home believed to be connected to Moreno. Video from the scene shows a large law enforcement presence.
Houston police said Moreno, who had a 7-year-old boy with her, walked inside Lakewood Church at 1:53 p.m. Sunday, wearing a trench coat and armed with a long rifle. She reportedly started shooting immediately.
A Houston police officer and a TABC agent who were working off-duty inside the church quickly returned fire, killing the woman.
As Moreno went down, officers reported that she threatened to have a bomb. Officers with the bomb squad searched her car and backpack and found no explosives.
The 7-year-old boy who was with the woman was shot. As of Monday morning, the child is in critical condition at an area hospital. A 57-year-old man was also shot in the leg.
Authorities said it’s unclear who fired the shots that hit the child and the man.
Detectives believe as many as 12 shots were fired, and investigators are actively reviewing a history of arrests Moreno has on her record.
ABC13 looked into Moreno’s criminal history and it dates back to 2005, with the latest case coming during the summer of 2022 in Fort Bend County.
- 10/24/2005 – Harris County: Failure to stop and give information, sentenced to 20 days in Harris County Jail
- 8/6/2009 – Harris County: Assault – bodily injury, sentenced to 180 days in Harris County Jail for kicking a detention officer
- 5/28/2010 – Harris County: Forgery, sentenced to two days in Harris County Jail for trying to use a counterfeit $100 bill
- 11/3/2010 – Harris County: Theft, sentenced to 30 days in Harris County Jail for stealing hats and makeup
- 12/5/2010 – Harris County: Evading, sentenced to 75 days in Harris County Jail
- 6/15/2022 – Fort Bend County: Unlawful carrying of a weapon, still an active case
“We don’t understand why these things happen, but we know that God is in control. We’re going to pray for that little 5-year-old boy, and pray for the lady that was deceased and her family and all, and the other gentleman,” Pastor Joel Osteen said. “Believe that we’re going to stay strong and we’re going to continue to move forward.”
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said patrols will be increased at places of worship across the City of Houston.
Panic spread quickly as people inside the church started running and trying to get to safety. Some managed to get outside the building, but could not leave because officers locked down several blocks surrounding the church.
It’s still unclear why the woman decided to walk inside Lakewood Church on Sunday and open fire. The investigation is ongoing.
Meanwhile, inside the building, others did what they could to try to hide.
Some people were stuck inside the church for hours — waiting for police to give an all clear. During the chaos, some parents were separated from their children, who were inside the church day care.
ABC13 reporter Charly Edsitty happened to be in the area running errands when the shooting happened. She spoke to a father and son who were leaving Lakewood as the shots were fired.
“I saw this lady running. She almost fell down the stairs. I told her, ‘Hey, you dropped something.’ She said something in Spanish that I couldn’t understand. And then I saw someone else running down the steps. That’s when I heard two gunshots,” the father said. “I was going towards my family and I heard another gunshot coming closer. So I was like ‘I can’t go up there now.'”
The witness was separated from other family members – who were not hurt — and had to wait until loved ones were able to leave the building.
According to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, one of its members was among the multiple commissioned peace officers who responded to the shooting.
TABC said Monday that Agent Adrian Herrera was working off-duty as a security officer at the church when Moreno opened fire. Herrera and another officer engaged Moreno and “neutralized the threat,” the agency said.
Per agency policy, Herrera is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the internal TABC investigation into the shooting.
Herrera has been with the agency for approximately five years.
Meanwhile, Lakewood says their community is devastated over what happened. They are scheduled to hold their usual Wednesday service online, with the next in-person service set for next Sunday.
Two people, including a 5-year-old boy who was with the suspect, are in the hospital. The woman accused of opening fire was shot and killed by two off-duty officers.
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