HOUSTON, Texas – Panic broke out at Lakewood Church in Houston when a woman opened fire with a long gun inside the megachurch during Sunday services. The incident resulted in the critical injury of a 5-year-old boy and a 57-year-old man, who was shot in the hip. The woman was then fatally shot by two off-duty officers who engaged her inside the church.
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner reported that the child was in critical condition after being taken to a hospital, while the injured man was in stable condition.
According to officials, the woman arrived at the church with the young child shortly before 2 p.m. and started shooting shortly thereafter. Both officers at the scene “engaged” and ultimately shot the woman, preventing further harm. Unfortunately, the child was hit during the altercation, although the details of the confrontation were not immediately released.
Lakewood Church, pastored by well-known figure Joel Osteen, is regularly attended by 45,000 people every week, making it the third-largest megachurch in the United States, according to the Hartford Institute for Religion Research. Osteen’s televised sermons reach about 100 countries, and the shooting took place between the church’s busy Sunday services.
During a news conference with authorities, Osteen expressed devastation over the incident, highlighting the potential for the situation to have been much worse had it occurred during the larger 11 a.m. service. Texas Governor Greg Abbott also issued a statement, expressing condolences for those affected by the shooting and emphasizing the sanctity of places of worship.
The shooting led to a large-scale response, with multiple police and fire trucks stationed near the church’s entrances, including a hazardous materials truck. Although there were reports of the woman having a bomb, no explosives were found upon searching her vehicle and backpack.
Witnesses at the scene reported hearing multiple gunshots before the start of the church’s 2 p.m. Spanish language service. Individuals inside the church described the ensuing chaos and panic as they fled to safety upon realizing that there was an active shooter in the building.
The devastating incident at Lakewood Church has left a profound impact on the community and raised questions about security measures in places of worship. As the investigation unfolds, it remains to be seen how the church and its worshippers will move forward from this traumatic event.