Houston, Texas – A woman entered the megachurch of Joel Osteen in Houston, Texas, on Sunday and opened fire, claiming that she had a bomb before being shot and killed by off-duty officers working at the church. The incident left a young child hospitalized in critical condition after being struck by gunfire.
It was not immediately clear what the motive was behind the unidentified woman’s attack at Lakewood Church, according to Houston Police Chief Troy Finner. The church later took to social media, asking for prayers for the community.
The shooter, described as a 30-to-35-year-old woman, entered the church carrying a long rifle, wearing a trench coat, and with a backpack. Witnesses reported that she claimed to have a bomb in her backpack and sprayed an unknown substance on the church grounds.
The woman was accompanied by a 4-to-5-year-old boy, although their relation was not immediately clear. The shooting occurred near the time the Spanish language church service was set to begin, as stated by Finner during a press conference.
Law enforcement agencies responded to the shooting and started collaborating on the investigation, believing it to be an isolated incident. Two victims were hospitalized, including the young boy and a 57-year-old man who sustained a hip injury after being shot in the leg.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a statement regarding the tragic shooting, expressing support for the community and offering state resources to help bring the assailant to justice. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez mentioned that a deputy is believed to have shot the attacker.
Lakewood Church, founded by Joel and Delores Osteen, is one of the largest congregations in the country, with an average of 45,000 attendees per week, according to its website.