Houston, Texas – A shooting incident at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston resulted in a 5-year-old child and a man being injured, while a woman was killed after she opened fire inside the church, according to local police. The violence occurred during a Sunday service, just as the 2 p.m. Spanish service was about to begin.
Two off-duty law enforcement officers, a Houston police officer and an agent with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, intervened and shot the woman, who had entered the church armed with a long rifle. The woman, believed to be around 30-35 years old, was wearing a trench coat and a backpack at the time of the attack.
Lakewood Church, with a capacity of 16,000 people, has seen significant growth over the past 25 years under Joel Osteen’s leadership. The popular church was formerly an arena for the NBA’s Houston Rockets. During the incident, a 57-year-old man who was not connected to the shooter was also injured and seeking treatment at a hospital.
The woman had reportedly threatened she “had a bomb,” but authorities found no explosives after searching her vehicle and backpack. She was also observed spraying some type of substance on the ground, as mentioned by the police chief during a news conference. The identity of the assailant has not yet been disclosed.
In response to the incident, Houston Mayor John Whitmire expressed his regret, acknowledging that the violence occurred while people were preparing to practice their faith and others were looking forward to the Super Bowl encounter between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs.
Expressions of sympathy and support came from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who stated that “Our hearts are with those impacted by today’s tragic shooting and the entire Lakewood Church community in Houston. Places of worship are sacred.” The governor added that he has been in contact with local and state officials to provide assistance to the community affected by the shooting.
The White House has also taken note of the incident and is working to obtain more details. A parishioner who was inside the church during the shooting reported hearing multiple shots fired. Authorities have not yet confirmed the exact number of shots fired.
The violent incident, which occurred in between church services, has prompted a comprehensive investigation into the shooting. Both law enforcement officers who engaged with the shooter have been placed on administrative leave as the probe progresses. The timing of the incident, during a time with fewer people in the church, likely prevented further injuries and damage, according to Osteen, the church’s pastor.