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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Search Warrant Reveals Genesse Moreno Was Behind Shooting at Joel Osteen’s Megachurch

Court records revealed Monday that the woman allegedly behind a shooting at Joel Osteen’s megachurch in Houston was Genesse Moreno, a 36-year-old who had a string of previous arrests that included assault, drug, and weapons charges.

Moreno, who records show previously identified as Jeffrey Escalante, according to The Houston Chronicle, was shot dead by two off-duty law enforcement officers after she entered Lakewood Church with an AR-15-style rifle during a service on Sunday afternoon, authorities said.

Two others were injured in an exchange of gunfire, authorities said, including a boy that’s believed to be around five years old. He was listed as being in critical condition on Sunday. A representative for the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office told the Chronicle that the child was not expected to survive.

A second victim, a 56-year-old man, was hospitalized with a gunshot wound to the leg. He was listed as stable on Sunday afternoon.

Cop cars sit outside Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, with their emergency lights on.

Lakewood Church has approximately 45,000 attendees per week, the congregation says on its website.

Reuters/Callaghan O’Hare

Authorities said shots rang out around 1:50 p.m. local time. A motive has not been released by police as of Monday afternoon.

The Chronicle reported that Moreno had a lengthy rap sheet that went back as far as 2005, with charges that included assault, forgery, marijuana possession, theft, evading and unlawful carrying of a weapon.

Police said as many as 12 shots were fired inside the church, though they didn’t specify how many came from Moreno. Audio of the gunfire was picked up on a livestream the church was airing from its Spanish-language service.

Overnight, federal and state law enforcement raided a home that was connected to Moreno, local news outlets reported.

The shooting rattled the church community at Lakewood, with Osteen struggling to find the words to describe the horror felt by those in the service, adding that there likely would have been more victims had shots been fired during the church’s 11 a.m. service rather than in-between events. The church says on its website that it has approximately 46,000 in-person attendees per week.

“We’re going to stay strong,” he said in a news conference Sunday. “We’re going to continue to move forward. There are forces of evil. The forces that are for us, the forces of God are stronger than that.”

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