Mon. Feb 26th, 2024
alert-–-texas-cops-shoot-dead-woman-armed-with-a-long-rifle-and-accompanied-by-a-‘small-child’-in-active-shooter-incident-at-joel-osteen’s-lakewood-church-in-houstonAlert – Texas cops shoot dead woman armed with a long rifle and accompanied by a ‘small child’ in active shooter incident at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston

A woman in a trench coat has shot up the Houston megachurch of celebrity pastor Joel Osteen – before being killed by two off-duty cops. 

The suspect entered the building with a five-year-old boy shortly before 2pm and the child was shot and critically injured. 

Police Chief Troy Finner said it was not clear whether the young child was struck by the officers – a 28-year-old Houston police officer and a 38-year-old agent with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission – who returned fire. Finner added a 57-year-old man was shot and wounded.

Finner said after the woman began shooting, both officers ‘engaged’ her and the woman was killed.

He praised the officers for quickly confronting the woman, adding, ‘She had a long gun, and it could have been a lot worse.’ 

Emergency vehicles line the feeder road outside Lakewood Church during a reported active shooter event

Emergency vehicles line the feeder road outside Lakewood Church during a reported active shooter event

A woman in a trenchcoat entered the Houston megachurch of celebrity pastor Joel Osteen and started shooting Sunday afternoon and was killed by two off-duty officers working security, police said

A woman in a trenchcoat entered the Houston megachurch of celebrity pastor Joel Osteen and started shooting Sunday afternoon and was killed by two off-duty officers working security, police said 

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said it was not clear whether the young child was struck by the off-duty officers who returned fire. He said a 57-year-old man also was shot and wounded

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said it was not clear whether the young child was struck by the off-duty officers who returned fire. He said a 57-year-old man also was shot and wounded 

The child was in critical condition after being taken to a hospital. The man who was wounded in his hip was stable.

The shooting happened between services at the megachurch that is regularly attended by 45,000 people every week, making it the third largest megachurch in the U.S., according to the Hartford Institute for Religion Research. Osteen´s televised sermons reach about 100 countries.

It was not clear where Osteen was at the time but he joined police at a news conference afterward and said the church is ‘devastated.’ 

But he added that the shooting could have been much worse if it had happened during the larger 11am service. 

He added he would pray for the victims and for the woman who did the shooting and their families.

‘We´re going to stay strong and we´re going to continue to, to move forward,’ Osteen said after authorities spoke. 

‘There are forces of evil, but the forces that are for us — the forces of God — are stronger than that. So we´re going to keep going strong and just, you know, doing what God´s called us to do: lift people up and give hope to the world.’

Witnesses told reporters that they heard multiple gunshots shortly before the church’s 2 p.m. Spanish language service was set to begin.

Carlos Gonzalez, a worship singer, hugs a fellow churchgoer after the shooting

Carlos Gonzalez, a worship singer, hugs a fellow churchgoer after the shooting

The shooter entered the Houston church with a 5-year-old boy shortly before 2 p.m. and the child was shot and critically injured

The shooter entered the Houston church with a 5-year-old boy shortly before 2 p.m. and the child was shot and critically injured 

The Harris County Sheriff's Office said officers responded to a possible shooting at the Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas , shortly after 2pm

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office said officers responded to a possible shooting at the Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas , shortly after 2pm

Osteen said the shooting could have been much worse if it had happened during the larger 11am service

Osteen said the shooting could have been much worse if it had happened during the larger 11am service 

Members of the Houston Police Bomb Squad respond to a shooting at Lakewood Church

Members of the Houston Police Bomb Squad respond to a shooting at Lakewood Church

Christina Rodriguez, who was inside the church, told Houston television station KTRK that she ‘started screaming, `There´s a shooter, there´s a shooter,´’ and then she and others ran to the backside of a library inside the building, then stood in a stairway before they were told it was safe to leave. 

People stood outside the building as authorities evacuated the church. 

Officials later announced a reunification center had been set up for people to find their loved ones, at a nearby fitness center.

Witness Paula Laverde said: ‘So there was one shot first and then there was a set of shots and then we started running and then there were multiple sets of shots, I can’t really count them, it was at least five times that they shot multiple times.’

Longtime church member Alan Guity, whose family is from Honduras, said he was resting inside the church´s sanctuary before the 2pm service as his mother was working as an usher when he heard gunshots.

‘Boom, boom, boom, boom and I yelled, `Mom,´’ he said.

The 35-year-old ran to his mother and they both laid flat on the floor and prayed as the gunfire continued. They remained there for about five minutes until someone told them it was safe to evacuate. 

Outside, Guity said, he and his mother tried to calm people down by worshiping and singing in Spanish, ‘Move in me, move in me. Touch my mind and my heart. Move within me Holy Spirit.’

Houston Police officers watch over displaced churchgoers outside Lakewood Church,

Houston Police officers watch over displaced churchgoers outside Lakewood Church,

Worshippers could be seen leaving the building as authorities evacuated the church before the news conference

Worshippers could be seen leaving the building as authorities evacuated the church before the news conference 

Officials announced a reunification center had been set up at a nearby gym for people to find their loved ones

Officials announced a reunification center had been set up at a nearby gym for people to find their loved ones 

At least 20 police and fire trucks were near one of the church´s entrances Sunday afternoon, including the fire department´s hazardous materials truck

At least 20 police and fire trucks were near one of the church´s entrances Sunday afternoon, including the fire department´s hazardous materials truck

Guity was among the many congregation members who waited Sunday evening to be allowed to return to their vehicles as police continued to search the building. The church is located in what used to be an arena where the NBA’s Houston Rockets used to play years ago.

The church said in a statement: ‘There is an active situation involving shots fired at Lakewood. Law enforcement is on the scene. That is all the information we have at this time. Please pray for Lakewood and our community.’ 

One witness said he heard around 30 gunshots as he ran out of the church with his daughters.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said ‘our hearts are with those impacted by today´s tragic shooting and the entire Lakewood Church community in Houston. Places of worship are sacred.’ 

At least 20 police and fire trucks were near one of the church´s entrances Sunday afternoon, including the fire department´s hazardous materials truck. 

Finner said it was reported that the woman had a bomb, but no explosives were found when her vehicle and backpack were searched. 

Worshippers could be seen leaving the building as authorities evacuated the church before the news conference. 

Officials announced a reunification center had been set up at a nearby gym for people to find their loved ones.

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