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What you need to know: Joel Osteen’s TX Lakewood church shooting

HOUSTON (AP) — A shooter’s motive for open fire in famous pastor Joel Osteen’s megachurch The case remained unclear Monday as authorities searched the suspect’s home in suburban Houston and identified the weapon used in the attack as an AR-style rifle.

The Conroe, Texas, home is more than 50 miles north of the church in Lakewood, where Sunday’s shooting between busy services, worshipers rushed to find safety.

The shooter was identified as Genesse Ivonne Moreno, 36, according to an affidavit seeking a search warrant released by the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office. Police say Moreno was shot and killed by two off-duty security guards who were working security at the church, one of the largest megachurches in the United States.

Two other people were shot and injured, including the shooter’s young son, who entered the church with them.

Here’s what you need to know about the shooting:

HOW DID THE SHOOTING TAKE PLACE?

The sound of gunshots inside the huge churchwhich was once the home of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, surprised the faithful just before 2 p.m. Sunday, just as many people were preparing to watch the Super Bowl later.

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said at a news conference Sunday that the shooter entered the church wearing a trench coat and backpack and armed with a long gun.

Finner said the shooter entered the church with the young boy, but did not describe their relationship. The suspect began shooting and was confronted by two off-duty officers, a Houston police officer and a Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission officer, who returned fire.

Before being shot and killed, the suspect told police he had a bomb and was carrying “yellow-colored rope and substances consistent with making explosive devices, which appeared to be detonating cord.” , according to the search warrant affidavit. Finner said Sunday that a search found no explosives.

A woman holds her face as she waits with others outside Lakewood Church, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024, in Houston, after a reported shooting during a Spanish church service. (Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle via AP)

He and other authorities at the scene praised officers for taking down the shooter.

“It could have been worse,” Finner said. “But they stepped up and did their job.”

WHO ARE THE VICTIMS ?

Moreno’s son, who authorities described as 7 years old, was shot in the head and remained in critical condition Monday. The boy was initially described Sunday as 5 years old.

It’s unclear how the boy, who was taken to a Houston children’s hospital, was shot. When asked if the boy was shot by one of the off-duty officers who returned fire at the suspect, Finner said he didn’t want to speculate, but added, “This suspect put this baby in hazard.”

Authorities described the other victim as a man in his 50s who was injured in the hip.

HOW DID THE WORSHIPERS INSIDE REACT?

Alan Guity, whose family is originally from Honduras, has been a member of the church since 1998. He said he heard gunshots while resting in the church sanctuary while his mother worked as an usher.

“Boom, boom, boom, boom. And I screamed, ‘Mom,'” he said.

Guity, 35, said he ran toward his mother and they both lay on the ground as the gunfire continued. Guity said he and his mother prayed and stayed on the ground for about five minutes until someone told them it was safe to leave the building. As he was led outside, Guity could see that people were crying and looking for their loved ones.

Guity said he and his mother tried to calm people by worshiping and singing in Spanish: “Move inside me, move inside me.” Touch my mind and my heart. Move the Holy Spirit within me.

In this screenshot taken from video provided by KTRK-TV ABC13, Pastor Joel Osteen speaks to the media after a shooting at Lakewood Church in Houston on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024. (KTRK-TV ABC13 via AP)

In this screenshot taken from video provided by KTRK-TV ABC13, Pastor Joel Osteen speaks to the media after a shooting at Lakewood Church in Houston on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024. (KTRK-TV ABC13 via AP)

WHO IS Joel Osteen?

Osteen, 60, took over leadership of the Lakewood church after John Osteen, his father and the church’s founding pastor, died in 1999. The church grew significantly under Joel Osteen and is regularly attended by 45,000 people per week, making it the third largest megachurch in the United States, according to the Hartford Institute for Religion Research.

Osteen is a leader in what is known as the prosperity gospel, a belief that God wants his followers to be wealthy and healthy. He is the author of several best-selling books, including “Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living Your Fullest Potential.”

His televised services are broadcast in about 100 countries, and the renovation of his church arena cost nearly $100 million.

After Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston in 2017, Osteen opened his church to those seeking shelter after social media critics slammed the televangelist for not offering to house those in need.

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Associated Press reporter Paul J. Weber in Texas contributed to this report.

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