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Lakewood church shooting: AR-15 had ‘Palestine’ sticker, anti-Semitic writings recovered, police say

A sticker reading “Palestine” was on the AR-15 rifle that a woman used to open fire at celebrity pastor Joel Osteen’s Lakewood church in Houston, injuring two people, including her son, police said.

Some anti-Semitic writings were found, but the motive for Sunday afternoon’s shooting has not been determined, police said.

“We believe there was a domestic dispute between her ex-husband and her ex-husband’s family,” some of whom are Jewish, police said.

Carlos Gonzalez, a worship singer, hugs another worshiper after a shooting at television evangelist Joel Osteen’s Lakewood church in Houston, Texas, February 11, 2024.

Callaghan O’Hare/Reuters

The suspect, Genesse Ivonne Moreno, 36, entered the church with her 7-year-old son, and she may have pointed her gun at a security guard to force entry into the church, the police said. police.

Moreno opened fire with the AR-15 at 1:55 p.m., police said.

PHOTO: Evacuated parishioners react outside TV evangelist Joel Osteen's Lakewood church after a shooting in Houston, February 11, 2024, in a still image from video.

Evacuated parishioners react outside television evangelist Joel Osteen’s Lakewood church after a shooting in Houston, February 11, 2024, in a still image from a video.

ABC affiliate KTRK via Reuters

Two off-duty officers returned fire and struck the suspect, police said. He was pronounced dead at 2:07 p.m., police said.

The 7-year-old was shot in the head and is “fighting for his life” in critical condition, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said Monday.

PHOTO: Law enforcement surrounds the area after a shooting at TV evangelist Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church in Houston, February 11, 2024.

Law enforcement surrounds the area after a shooting at television evangelist Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston, February 11, 2024.

Callaghan O’hare/Reuters

A man believed to be a parishioner was also shot and has since been released from the hospital, Finner said.

Doug Williams, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Houston field office, noted that “the number of casualties would have been much higher” without the “heroic” actions of off-duty agents.

Authorities said they believed Moreno acted alone. She also had a second weapon with her: a .22 caliber rifle. The AR-15 was purchased legally, police said.

Police said the suspect had a “mental health history that is documented through us and through interviews with his family.” Police said she was placed under emergency detention by Houston police in 2016.

Moreno has a number of arrests under his belt, which investigators are reviewing, a law enforcement official said.

Moreno allegedly threatened to possess a bomb, police said. Authorities searched his car and backpack, but nothing was found. She also appeared to be spraying an unknown substance, authorities said.

Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña said Monday that authorities determined “there was no risk of exposure to any chemical or product,” noting that the substances were all common products and benign.

PHOTO: First responders gather at the scene after a shooting at TV evangelist Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church in Houston, February 11, 2024.

First responders gather at the scene after a shooting at television evangelist Joel Osteen’s Lakewood church in Houston, February 11, 2024.

Callaghan O’hare/Reuters

The shooting occurred shortly before the start of the 2 p.m. Spanish mass.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said in a statement: “I will not make any assumptions as information continues to come in about what motivated the shooter, but I am asking that the investigation examine whether he was a hate crime, given how long the shooting lasted. place for an entirely Spanish service.

Houston Mayor John Whitmire addressed the city’s “diverse community” on Monday, promising, “We’re going to provide you with protection.” He said security would be increased at churches, synagogues and mosques in Houston.

“Our community is devastated by today’s events and grateful for the quick actions of law enforcement,” Osteen wrote on social media Sunday. “Please join me in continued prayer for healing and peace.”

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect that the sticker on the shooter’s gun read “Palestine,” according to police, not “Free Palestine.”

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