HOUSTON, TEXAS – A tragic shooting at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church on Sunday left a young boy critically injured and the shooter dead at the scene. The shooter was identified as 36-year-old Genesse Ivonne Moreno, who was later killed by off-duty officers providing security at the church.
Authorities revealed that Moreno’s son was the victim of the shooting, sustaining a critical gunshot wound to the head. The motive behind the shooting remains unclear, although it was disclosed that Moreno had a history of mental illness and had been under emergency detention in 2016.
Moreno used an AR-style rifle during the shooting before being confronted by off-duty officers. The gunman was wearing a trenchcoat and backpack when he entered the church armed with the long rifle, as described by Houston Police Chief Troy Finner during a news conference on Sunday.
The off-duty officers, including a Houston police officer and a Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agent, engaged the shooter in a firefight, resulting in Moreno’s death. Despite claims from the shooter about the presence of a bomb, a search found no explosives. Nonetheless, authorities praised the quick response of the officers in neutralizing the threat.
In the aftermath of the incident, questions remained about how the young boy was struck by gunfire. He was taken to a Houston children’s hospital for treatment, while Finner declined to speculate on whether the child was hit by the officers’ return fire.
Joel Osteen, the celebrity pastor of Lakewood Church, has not publicly addressed the shooting incident. The church has grown significantly under Osteen’s leadership and is one of the largest megachurches in the United States, regularly attended by thousands of worshippers each week. The tragic events have cast a shadow over the renowned church, raising concerns about security and the well-being of its congregants.