The woman suspected of opening fire Sunday moments after walking into a Houston megachurch has been identified.
Genesse Moreno, 36, began shooting just before 2 p.m. at Lakewood Church, a megachurch founded by celebrity pastor Joel Osteen’s father. She was shot and killed after two off-duty officers returned fire minutes after gunshots first rang out. A 7-year-old boy, identified as Moreno’s son, and a man were also injured.
Shooter believed to have acted alone; motive remains unclear
Update 3:15 p.m. EST Feb. 12: Authorities confirmed that the gun Moreno used during Sunday’s shooting had the word “Palestine” on it, although it remained unclear whether the attack was politically motivated.
Officials said they uncovered antisemitic writings in their investigation of Moreno, although they cautioned that it is still too early in the investigation to determine whether that played any role in the shooting.
“We do want to stress that she acted alone,” Commander Christopher Hassig of the Houston Police Department said Monday. “We do believe this was what we term a ‘lone wolf, lone suspect’ situation. We do not believe this is part of a larger nexus. She is not part of a larger group or set of individuals. We believe that Genesse Moreno acted alone.”
Hassig said investigators also found that Moreno had a history of mental health issues and she was also in a dispute with her ex-husband and his family.
“Some of those individuals are Jewish, so we believe that might possibly be where all of this stems from,” Hassig said.
7-year-old critically injured in shooting was suspect’s son
Update 3:05 p.m. EST Feb. 12: The boy who was hospitalized Sunday after being critically injured in the shooting at Lakewood Church has been identified as Moreno’s son, Houston police Chief Troy Finner said Monday.
A spokesperson for the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office earlier told the Houston Chronicle that the child is not expected to survive his wounds.
Police said Moreno pulled the 7-year-old out of the back seat of the car she drove to Lakewood Church on Sunday. They entered the church just before 2 p.m., and she immediately opened fire, officials said.
Police confirm suspected shooter’s ID
Update 3 p.m. EST Feb. 12: Police confirmed at a news conference on Monday that the suspected shooter has been identified through a driver’s license as Genesse Moreno, 36.
Authorities said she brought a 7-year-old boy with her when she went to the west side of Lakewood Church on Sunday afternoon and opened fire in a hallway. Two off-duty officers who were working security at the church returned fire, killing her.
A man was injured in the shooting as was the 7-year-old boy. His relationship with Moreno was not immediately shared.
Earlier, the child had been identified as a 5-year-old.
Original report: In a search warrant obtained by KHOU and other news outlets, authorities identified the suspected shooter as Genesse Ivonne Moreno, 36. She died in a shootout with off-duty officers at the church, officials said.
The circumstances leading up to the shooting, which left a man and a child injured, remained unclear on Monday.
Authorities said Moreno opened fire at Lakewood Church after walking in with a rifle around 2 p.m. local time on Sunday. An unidentified source told CNN that the AR-15 she carried into the church had the words “Free Palestine” written on it, although it was not immediately clear whether the shooting was politically motivated.
A warrant was issued for a home connected to Moreno in Conroe after she claimed to have had a bomb on Sunday, the Houston Chronicle reported. In the warrant, officials said Moreno shot and injured a man with an AR-15 rifle before pointing the gun at off-duty officers who were working as security at the church. The officers shot and killed her, according to the Chronicle.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission confirmed Monday that one of its off-duty agents, identified as Adrian Herrera, was among the two officers who engaged the shooter on Sunday. Herrera, who has worked for TABC for about five years, was placed on paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation into the shooting.
“While we are still gathering the facts on what took place at Lakewood Church, I can say that I’m extremely proud of the quick response of our agent as well as the other law enforcement agents on the scene,” TABC Chairman Kevin Lilly said. “These officers likely prevented a much greater tragedy through their brave actions.”
A 5-year-old child brought to the church by Moreno was critically injured in Sunday’s shooting. On Monday, a spokesperson for the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office told the Chronicle that the child is not expected to survive their wounds.
The relationship between the child and Moreno remained unclear on Monday.
A man was also shot in the hip on Sunday. He was last listed in stable condition at a hospital.
Lakewood Church was founded by celebrity pastor Joel Osteen’s father in 1959. On Sunday, Osteen said he was “devastated” by the shooting.
“In the face of such darkness, we must hold onto our faith and remember evil will not prevail,” he said. “Together, we will rise above this tragedy and stand firm in our commitment to love and support one another.”
Authorities continue to investigate.
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