Student News for Horizon Honors Secondary School

The Horizon Sun

Student News for Horizon Honors Secondary School

The Horizon Sun

Student News for Horizon Honors Secondary School

The Horizon Sun

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Shootout at Lakewood Church Leaves Two in Critical Condition

A church community has been left in devastation after a shooting.
Lakewood Church is the latest location of gun violence.
ABC News
Lakewood Church is the latest location of gun violence.

On the afternoon of Sunday, Feb. 11, a 36-year-old woman in a trench coat, named Genesse Ivonne Moreno, was  armed with an AR-15 rifle and accompanied by a seven year old boy (who is believed to be her son) and entered a Christian megachurch in Houston led by televangelist and pastor Joel Osteen. Moreno entered the church at 1:55 p.m. and began firing multiple rounds upon entering a hallway of the megachurch located on Houston’s busy Southwest Freeway. It is still unknown what her motives were. She also threatened that she had a bomb after spraying an unidentified substance on the ground. This prompted the two off-duty law enforcement officers, who were working at the church, to call the Houston Fire Department and hazmat units according to the Texas Tribune. They were on scene and responded to the threat. The two officers were caught in a shootout and killed the woman.

Unfortunately, the child was hit in the head by gunfire and is currently in critical condition at the hospital. The Texas Tribune states, another victim was a fifty-seven year old man later identified in the affidavit as Tom George Thomas, who police believe is not connected to the shootout. Thomas was wounded in the leg during the exchange of bullets. He is in a stabilized condition at the hospital as well.

When Moreno threatened that she had a bomb, officers searched through her backpack and her car finding nothing of the sort, according to CNN. The substance that was sprayed on the ground was benign. They did recover a 0.22 caliber rifle from Moreno’s backpack. Overnight, law enforcement officers from multiple agencies executed a search warrant of Moreno’s residence in Conroe, a city which is 40 miles north of Houston. The affidavit, who requested the search, wanted officers to find and seize any or all things that were related to the investigation.

Christopher Hassig, commander of the Houston Police Department’s homicide unit, stated that the police found some writings that were anti-Semitic that belonged to the shooter. The AR-15 rifle, the weapon that was used at the church, had a sticker that said “Palestine.” Officers believe that Moreno was involved in a dispute with her ex-husband and his family, some of whom are Jewish. This could have prompted her to perform this crime. Police say it is too early to tell the motive. Moreover, police found out that Moreno struggled with mental health and the Harris County court records show that she has an extensive criminal record dating back to 2005, according to ABC13. It is not clear how she obtained the two weapons, but the AR-15 was legally purchased in December of 2023. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, who is overseeing the case, requested that the investigation look into whether the incident was a hate crime.

Joel Osteen, known for his best-selling books and televangelism, led the Lakewood Church services on Sunday. He was devastated by the shootout. According to CNN, Osteen, speaking in a conference, said the shooting took place “in between services,” noting the timing of the incident likely helped prevent further injuries and damage. In another statement, he remarked what could have happened at the eleven o’clock service. Additionally, he thanked the first responders for their swift action and encouraged the community to hold to their faith.

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