Gunfire erupted at Joel Osteen‘s Lakewood megachurch between services on Sunday, Feb 11, 2024. The shooter was a female in her thirties, unnamed in the press, who entered the church shortly before the shooting happened accompanied by a child, who was around 5 years old.
Two off-duty police officers, working security at Osteens’ church in Houston, returned fire when the woman began shooting her long rifle around 2 p.m. that day, CBS News reported. Once hit, the suspect said she also had a bomb, but authorities say no explosives were found.
Responding to the incident, Joel Osteen said,
“Of course, we’re devastated. We don’t understand why these things happen … We’re going to stay strong and continue to move forward.”
via CBS News
Were there any survivors?
via Lakewood Church/Instagram
Reportedly, the suspected shooter died at the scene, shot and killed by the off-duty officers working security at Osteen’s Lakewood megachurch, where around 45,000 attend services each week. Those officers were then placed on administrative duty, following police policy. The young child who entered the church with the woman was also critically injured and treated at a nearby hospital. A 57-year-old congregate was shot in the leg and treated for his injuries.
In his comments after the tragic incident, Osteen added,
“We’re going to pray for the 5-year-old little boy, the lady who is deceased, and the other gentleman.”
via CBS News
What was the motive?
via KPRC 2 Click2Houston/YouTube
No motive was reported for the attack, and as of this report, it’s unclear what relationship the woman had with the child. According to ABC News, citing Houston law enforcement, “Free Palestine” was written on the barrel of the rifle.
In the aftermath, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said in a statement,
“I will not make any assumptions because information continues to come in as to what motivated the shooter, but I am asking that the investigation look into whether it was a hate crime, given the shooting took place at an all-Spanish service.”
via ABC News
Referring to the Lakewood attack, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a statement,
“Our hearts are with those impacted by today’s tragic shooting and the entire Lakewood Church community in Houston … Places of worship are sacred.”
via CBS News
Houston police chief Troy Finner said security at religious services would be heightened in the area. It’s unclear where Osteen was when the shooting happened. The New York Times says Osteen appeared at a Lakewood service earlier that day.