UNITED STATES NEWS

Woman killed after she opened fire in Joel Osteen’s megachurch, boy with her shot, hospitalized

Feb 11, 2024, 2:25 PM | Updated: 11:06 pm

HOUSTON (AP) — A woman in a trenchcoat opened fire with a long gun Sunday inside celebrity pastor Joel Osteen’s megachurch in Texas, sending worshippers rushing to find safety while two off-duty officers confronted and killed the shooter. Two other people were shot and injured, including a 5-year-old boy who was in critical condition.

The violence erupted shortly before the Houston church’s 2 p.m. Spanish service was set to begin, just as the rest of the country was preparing for the Super Bowl. The woman entered the enormous Lakewood Church – a building with a 16,000-person capacity that was previously an arena for the NBA’s Houston Rockets — with the boy who was later hurt in the shootout with police. A man in his 50s was also wounded.

Details of the confrontation remain unclear in the hours after the tragedy, and police have not released the woman’s identity or a possible motive. It’s also unknown what relationship, if any, the woman had to the boy, and who actually shot him and the man.

“I will say this,” Houston Police Chief Troy Finner told reporters during a news conference outside the church. “That female, that suspect, put that baby in danger. I’m going to put that blame on her.”

The boy was in critical condition at a children’s hospital, while the man was stable at a different hospital with a hip wound.

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 said the violence could have been much worse if it had happened during the earlier, larger 11 a.m. service.

Witnesses told reporters that they heard multiple gunshots. 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.

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

“Boom, boom, boom, boom and I yelled, ‘Mom,’ ” he told The Associated Press.

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.”

Despite the chaos, Finner said the tragedy “could have been a lot worse” if the two officers had not “engaged” the woman when she opened fire. They had been working security at the church on Sunday, and Finner praised them for their quick actions.

The officers work for the Houston Police Department and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, respectively. Both have been placed on protocol-mandated administrative duty.

After she was shot, the woman told police that she had a bomb, but authorities said no explosives were found when her vehicle and backpack were searched. First responders continued to search the megachurch for hours afterwards.

Osteen said Sunday that his congregation is “devastated.” He added that he would pray for the victims and for the woman who did the shooting and their families. It was not clear where he was at the time of the shooting.

“We’re going to stay strong and we’re going to continue to, to move forward,” he said during the news conference with police. “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.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statement saying “our hearts are with those impacted by today’s tragic shooting and the entire Lakewood Church community in Houston. Places of worship are sacred.”

The church has grown tremendously over the past 25 years since Joel Osteen took over after his father’s death in 1999 and introduced an upbeat style of Christian televangelism that has captured a following of millions. His televised sermons reach about 100 countries. The elder Osteen founded the church in a converted feed store in 1959.

United States News

Associated Press

AT&T 2022 security breach hits nearly all cellular customers and landline accounts with contact

A security breach in 2022 compromised the data of nearly all of AT&T’s cellular customers, customers of mobile virtual network operators using AT&T’s wireless network, as well landline customers who interacted with those cellular numbers. So far it has found that the compromised data includes files containing AT&T records of calls and texts between May […]

5 minutes ago

FILE - Pedestrians approach JPMorgan Chase headquarters on Dec. 29, 2023, in New York. JP Morgan re...

Associated Press

JPMorgan Q2 profit rose 25% as bank cashed in holdings in Visa

NEW YORK (AP) — JPMorgan Chase’s profits jumped sharply in the second quarter as the bank cashed in billions of dollars of its holdings in Visa Inc. But the bank’s results were also helped by higher interest rates, as well as consumers who seemed to still want to spend, despite geopolitical and economic uncertainties. The […]

8 minutes ago

President Joe Biden speaks at a news conference Thursday July 11, 2024, on the final day of the NAT...

Associated Press

Biden pushes on ‘blue wall’ sprint with Michigan trip as he continues to make the case for candidacy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Four years ago, candidate Joe Biden stood before supporters at a Detroit high school, flanked by Kamala Harris and other rising Democratic stars, and called himself a bridge to the next generation of leaders. Biden, now a president seeking reelection, returns to the city Friday with many in his party now pleading […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

UN demands Russia immediately return Europe’s biggest nuclear plant to Ukraine

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution Thursday demanding that Russia urgently withdraw its military and personnel from Europe’s largest nuclear power plant and immediately return the facility to Ukraine. The resolution also reiterates the assembly’s demands for Russia to immediately “cease its aggression against Ukraine” and withdraw all troops, and […]

6 hours ago

President Joe Biden, joined by President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy, speaks during an event on ...

Associated Press

The NATO summit was about Ukraine and Biden. Here are some key things to know

WASHINGTON (AP) — NATO leaders met this week to celebrate the alliance’s 75th anniversary under the cloud of deep political uncertainty in its most powerful member — the United States. But even as questions swirled about President Joe Biden’s future and the implications of a possible return to the White House by NATO skeptic Donald […]

7 hours ago

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign rally in Raleigh, N.C., June. 28, 2024. It's been t...

Associated Press

Two weeks that imperiled Biden’s presidency left him on probation in the court of Democratic opinion

WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden’s tribulations were previewed in Hollywood days before he got on the debate stage. At a fundraiser organized by George Clooney and packed with luminaries including former President Barack Obama, Biden was a listless figure, perhaps merely jet-lagged after flying straight from Italy but clearly not the man they knew. Oh […]

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

Woman killed after she opened fire in Joel Osteen’s megachurch, boy with her shot, hospitalized