‘Free Palestine’ written on gun in shooting at Lakewood Church, but motive a mystery: Sources

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“Free Palestine” was written on the gun belonging to a woman who opened fire at celebrity pastor Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation.

However, a motive behind the Sunday afternoon shooting has not been determined. Sources said investigators are feverishly going through the social media and writings belonging to the suspect, who is believed to be Genesse Ivonne Moreno, 36, according to law enforcement sources.

Detectives believe Moreno fired as many as 12 shots, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation.

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 Moreno entered the church, she was accompanied by a child aged 4 or 5, Houston police chief Troy Finner said.

The suspect opened fire with a rifle, and two off-duty officers fired back, striking and killing her, Finner said.

The child was also shot and has been hospitalized in critical condition, Finner said. It’s not clear who shot the child or the relationship between the child and shooter, police said.

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 in the leg, Finner said.

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.

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.”

“We all stand with the Lakewood congregation as they recover from this terrifying day and with the young child and adult who are known to have been hurt in the shooting,” Hidalgo added.

“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.”

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