Off-duty cops stop, kill female shooter at Joel Osteen’s megachurch in Texas

12 February 2024 - 07:50 By Gabriella Borter
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Television evangelist Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church is seen in an aerial view after a shooting incident in Houston, Texas, on February 112024 in a still image from video.
Television evangelist Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church is seen in an aerial view after a shooting incident in Houston, Texas, on February 112024 in a still image from video.
Image: Courtesy ABC affiliate KTRK via REUTERS

Two off-duty law enforcement officers in Houston took down a woman who opened fire on Sunday at Lakewood Church, one of the largest evangelical churches in the US led by televangelist Joel Osteen, police said.

A woman in her early 30s entered the megachurch shortly before 2pm local time,  armed with a long rifle and accompanied by a child around five years old, and started firing, Houston police chief Troy Finner told reporters on Sunday.

Two off-duty officers, one a Texas alcoholic beverage commission agent and the other a Houston police officer, killed the shooter before she could kill anyone inside the church, which was preparing to host a Spanish-language service, Finner said.

Two people were injured, including the child who was with the shooter, he said.

Officials said they were working to understand the child's relation to the shooter and the shooter's motive. Finner said he was not sure who shot the child in the crossfire.

The child was taken to Texas Children's Hospital and was in a critical condition, officials said. A man in his 50s sustained a non-critical leg injury and was also being treated at a local hospital.

"She had a long gun, and it could have been a lot worse," Finner said.

The woman had threatened that she had a bomb, prompting authorities to search her backpack and vehicle, Finner said. They found no explosives.

Most mass shootings in the US are carried out by men, making the apparent Houston attempt a rare case. The US Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center , which studies all forms of targeted violence including mass casualty attacks, found in a 2023 report that 96% of mass attackers from 2016 to 2020 were male.

Television evangelist Joel Osteen at a news conference with law enforcement officials at his Lakewood Church after the shooting incident in Houston in a still image from video.
Television evangelist Joel Osteen at a news conference with law enforcement officials at his Lakewood Church after the shooting incident in Houston in a still image from video.
Image: ABC affiliate KTRK

"Our hearts are with those impacted by today’s tragic shooting and the entire Lakewood Church community in Houston," said Texas governor Greg Abbott.

Lakewood Church, which seats around 16,000 people, is led by Osteen and his wife and co-pastor Victoria Osteen.

Osteen is one of the wealthiest and most popular pastors and prosperity gospel preachers in the USs. According to the church's website, his media broadcasts, podcasts and radio programming reach millions of US households and audiences worldwide.

"We don't understand why these things happen, but God is in control," Osteen told reporters on Sunday.

"We're going to stay strong. We're going to continue to move forward."

The Houston church, located in the former sports arena for the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association, accommodates more than 40,000 worshipers over a weekend.

Reuters


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