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Lakewood Church shooting: AR-15 had ‘Palestine’ sticker, antisemitic writings recovered, police say

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A sticker saying “Palestine” was on the AR-15 rifle a woman used to open fire at celebrity pastor Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston, injuring two, according to police

Some antisemitic writings have been recovered, but a motive behind the Sunday afternoon shooting has not been determined, according to police.

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

ABC affiliate KTRK via Reuters

When the suspect, 36-year-old Genesse Ivonne Moreno, entered the church, she was accompanied by her 7-year-old son, and she opened fire with the AR-15 at 1:55 p.m., police said.

Two off-duty officers fired back, striking the suspect, police said. She 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 surround the area after a shooting incident at television evangelist Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church in Houston, Feb. 11, 2024.

Law enforcement surround the area after a shooting incident at television evangelist Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston, Feb. 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 Houston field office, stressed that the “number of casualties and victims would have been much higher” without the off-duty officers’ “heroic” actions.

Authorities said they believe Moreno acted alone. She also had with her a second gun: a .22-caliber rifle.

Moreno allegedly threatened that she had a bomb, police said. Officials searched her 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 officials determined “there is no risk of exposure to any chemical or product,” stressing that the substances were all benign, common products.

Moreno has a number of arrests on her record, which investigators are reviewing, a law enforcement official said.

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

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

Callaghan O’hare/Reuters

The shooting unfolded shortly before the church’s 2 p.m. Spanish language service was set to begin.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said in a statement, “I will not make any assumptions because information continues to come in as to what motivated the shooter, but I am asking that the investigation look into whether it was a hate crime, given the shooting took place at an all-Spanish service.”

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

“Our community is devastated by today’s events and grateful for the swift actions of law enforcement,” Osteen wrote on social media. “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 said “Palestine,” per police, not “Free Palestine.”

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