Joel Ostend church shooting: female gunman with 5 year old boy shot dead, 2 injured including 57 year old man and boy at Lakewood Church in Houston. Multiple gunshots. Mass shooting averted. No known motive.
A female shooter armed with a long rifle, who entered the Lakewood Church in Houston where congregants of famed preacher and pastor, Joel Osteen gather was shot dead by off duty police officers on Sunday.
The un-identifed woman, said to be between 30-35 is alleged to have entered the property wearing a trench coat, carrying a backpack and holding the hand of a five year old boy and fired off several gunshots.
Witnesses say she was claimed to have a bomb in her backpack and was spraying an unknown substance on the church’s ground.
Church shooter was previously committed & involved in bitter child custody dispute w/ Jewish husband
The shooting at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church today…. A good guy with a gun stopped a bad woman today. Praying for the families involved. pic.twitter.com/Pf7TRMJ8Re
— James Owen (@realjamesowen1) February 11, 2024
Female gunman fired off rounds before taken down by off duty cops
The female suspect was shot and killed by two off-duty officers. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene NBCDFW reported.
Two victims had been taken to the hospital. A 5-year-old- boy is in critical condition and a 57-year-old male is being treated for a hip injury after being shot in the leg.
Several off-duty officers were at the church at the time of the shooting and were able to take the suspect down before she could claim any lives, Troy Finner, Houston Police Chief told news reporters.
‘Both officers … engaged, striking the female,’ Finner said. ‘She’s deceased here on the scene. Unfortunately, a 5-year-old kid was hit and is in critical condition at our local hospital,’
It remained unclear whether the 57 year old was shot at the hands of the female gunman or responding off duty police.
The shooting happened circa 1.30pm, with the shooting taking place in between services, following a previous 11am church service.
Mass shooting averted?
The female suspect claimed to have a bomb, but no explosives were found by officers, the chief told media.
‘She had a long gun and it could’ve been a lot worse,’ Finner said during the press conference.
Multiple Law enforcement agencies are on-site collaborating on the investigation and will remain on the scene for the next several hours, media reported.
Pastor Joel Osteen spoke during the press conference as well, noting the incident took place in between services at the megachurch.
‘I can only imagine what would have happened if this happened during the 11:00 service,’ Osteen said. ‘She could have done much worse damage.’
Witnesses said they heard multiple gunshots about the time the church’s 2 p.m. Spanish language service was set to begin.
Christina Rodriguez, who was inside the church, told media 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.
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.’
One witness said he heard around 30 gunshots as he ran out of the church with his daughters. Authorities have not confirmed any details.
People stood outside the building as authorities evacuated the church. Officials later announced a reunification center had been set up at a nearby gym for people to find their loved ones.
Authorities believe the episode was an isolated incident, and they are conducting a deeper investigation to make sure no one else is inside the church.
Lakewood Church, founded by Joel and Delores Osteen, is among the largest congregations in the country, averaging about 45,000 attendees per week, according to its website.