UPDATE: Associated Press is reporting a woman in a trench coat opened fire with a long gun inside celebrity pastor Joel Osteen’s megachurch in Texas before being gunned down by two off-duty officers who confronted her.
The incident sent worshippers rushing from the building between busy Sunday services, authorities said.
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Police said the woman entered the church with a 5-year-old boy shortly before 2 p.m. The woman began shooting, as officers at the scene “engaged” her and the woman was killed. The 5-year-old was hit in the exchange of gunfire and critically injured, although no immediate details were released on how the confrontation unfolded.
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said it was not clear whether the child was struck by the off-duty officers who returned fire. He said a 57-year-old man also was shot and wounded.
The child was in critical condition at a children’s hospital, while the man was stable at a different hospital with a hip wound.
The slain woman was not immediately identified, and her motive wasn’t clear.
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’s televised sermons reach about 100 countries.
It was not clear where Osteen was at the time of the incident. But he joined police at a news conference afterward and said the church is “devastated.” He added that the shooting could have been much worse if it had happened during the larger 11 a.m. service.
“This is an on-going, active scene. Please avoid the area. Additional information will be provided as it is available,” police said.
Texas authorities say a child between ages 5 to 8 was shot and the suspect who fired shots inside Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church on Sunday afternoon is down.
Lakewood Church confirmed reports of “shots fired,” saying on X, “There is an active situation involving shots fired at Lakewood. Law enforcement is on the scene. That is all the information we have at this time. Please pray for Lakewood and our community.”
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez also posted about the incident, saying the possible shooter appeared to be down.
In a statement Sunday afternoon, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said, “Our hearts are with those impacted by today’s tragic shooting and the entire Lakewood Church community in Houston. Places of worship are sacred.”
A Lakewood parishioner at the scene told CNN affiliate KPRC he was inside the church waiting for the Spanish language service to start when he heard multiple shots fired. The man was then instructed by a church usher to run, he told KPRC.
— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) February 11, 2024
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