Rifle-firing, bomb-threatening woman with child in tow goes on deadly rampage inside Joel Osteen’s megachurch service

Fatal gunshots sullied Sunday services after a rifle-firing, bomb-threatening woman with a child in tow began shooting inside Joel Osteen’s megachurch.

(Video: KHOU 11)

The famous Lakewood Church in southwest Houston became a crime scene Sunday after two off-duty officers intervened to prevent a potential massacre. Speaking from outside the converted former home of the Houston Rockets, law enforcement offered limited details on the suspect who was shot dead by security.

“She had a long gun, and it could have been worse. But they stepped up and did their job,” said Houston Police Chief Troy Finner who described the suspect who’d opened fire around 2 p.m. as a woman in her early to mid-30s wearing a trench coat and a backpack.

Authorities detailed that the woman had a child, said to be a five-year-old boy with her who, along with a 57-year-old man who was shot in the leg, was injured in the gunfire and transported to a local hospital in critical condition.

Finner addressed concerns it was the security guards’ shots to neutralize the threat that had harmed the child by asserting, “That female, that suspect, put that baby in danger. I’m going to put that blame on her.”

A look inside the church that has an average attendance of 45,000 weekly, according to the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, captured the panic as gunshots were heard somewhere within. Elsewhere, a live broadcast captured the incident as it developed.

“I turned around and started running with the rest of the people,” one woman told KHOU. “We hid about 10 adults in a closet and there was one child in there.”

Another witness told KTRK, “The whole church started praying and declaring Jesus’ name. I was like, ‘This might be the last time I get to pray, that I get to glorify the name of Jesus, so I’m going to do this.'”

The threat was not completely resolved after the suspect was put down as law enforcement reported the suspect had issued a bomb threat as well.

“Once she went down, officers reported back to us that she threatened that she had a bomb. So we searched her vehicle, our bomb squad, and also the backpack,” explained Finner. “No explosives were found, but she was also spraying some type of substance on the ground.”

In addition to speaking at the press conference, Osteen issued a statement on social media that read, “Our community is devastated by today’s events and grateful for the swift actions of law enforcement. May the healing hands of God touch the lives of everyone involved and provide comfort during this difficult time.”

“In the face of such darkness, we must hold onto our faith and remember evil will not prevail. God will guide us through the darkest of times. Together, we will rise above this tragedy and stand firm in our commitment to love and support one another,” he continued. “In times like these, our faith is tested, but it is also strengthened. We don’t always understand why things like this happen, but we know that God is in control. Please join me in continued prayer for healing and peace.”

Likewise, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) led an array of public officials in reaction as he wrote, “Our hearts are with those impacted by today’s tragic shooting and the entire Lakewood Church community in Houston. Places of worship are sacred. I have been in contact with Mayor Whitmire and offered the full support and resources of the State of Texas, including Department of Public Safety officers and Texas Rangers, to help this community and help bring swift justice to the criminal who committed this heinous act. Join Cecilia and me in praying for this community during this difficult time and for the brave men and women in blue who acted quickly to respond to this tragedy.”

Kevin Haggerty

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