The shooter who opened fire Sunday at a Texas megachurch had purchased the firearm legally despite a criminal record and a history of mental illness.
The Lakewood church is led by prominent evangelical Christian pastor Joel Osteen.
Police identified the shooter as Genesse Ivonne Moreno, the Associated Press reported. Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said Moreno had “a documented mental health history,” The New York Times reported. Moreno was previously placed in emergency detention for a mental health emergency in 2016, according to the AP.
Moreno’s mother-in-law said Moreno was taking medication for schizophrenia, according to a Facebook post.
Although Moreno has also been arrested several times since 2005, including on weapons offenses in 2022, as of December 2023, Moreno was still able to legally purchase the AR-15 rifle used in Sunday’s shooting.
Moreno also carried a .22 caliber rifle but did not use it in the shooting. It is unclear where Moreno purchased the firearms.
Moreno was shot and killed at the scene by off-duty police officers.
Neighbors in Conroe, Texas, the town about an hour from Houston where Moreno lived, said the 36-year-old had previously harassed them, threatened them and brandished guns, NBC News reported. Several Conroe residents held a news conference Monday, saying Moreno frequently terrorized the neighborhood but police did not intervene.
“No one should have died. No one should have been hurt. This should have been fixed years ago, and here we are again,” said Jill, the neighborhood association president, who did not give her last name at the news conference.
Another neighbor, identified as Heather, told NBC that Moreno threatened her with a handgun in July 2022 after yelling at her while she was watering her grass. Heather said local police documented the incident as a threat but did nothing further. “We are told: “See something, say something. “Well, we see things, we say things…and Conroe PD doesn’t help us,” Heather told NBC.
“I don’t want to criticize them, but help us. Please,” she added, referring to the police.
On Sunday afternoon, Moreno entered the Lakewood church wearing a trench coat and armed with an AR-15 and began shooting. Two off-duty police officers, who were providing security at the church, returned fire and killed Moreno.
Moreno’s seven-year-old son was present during the shooting and suffered a gunshot wound to the head. The child is in critical condition.
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