Megachurch Shooter Had History of Mental Illness, Brought Son to Attack

Houston, Texas – The tragic shooting at a Texas megachurch on Sunday revealed a harrowing story of mental illness, family disputes, and religious violence. The shooter, identified as Genesse Ivonne Moreno, entered Lakewood Church with her young son and opened fire, sparking a gun battle with two off-duty officers. The incident left worshippers scrambling for safety and the son critically wounded. Moreno’s history of mental illness, along with her antisemitic writings and the purchase of an AR-style rifle, raised questions about her motives and access to firearms.

Authorities revealed that Moreno had a history of mental illness and had been placed under emergency detention in 2016. The attack, which occurred between church services, highlighted the vulnerabilities in security measures at the megachurch, where 45,000 people gather weekly. The presence of off-duty officers on the premises and their swift response likely prevented a larger tragedy, as the violence remained confined to a church hallway and did not spill into the main sanctuary.

Investigators found antisemitic writings and a “Palestine” sticker on the buttstock of the rifle, shedding light on a possible motive tied to Moreno’s former in-laws, who are Jewish. The shooting also brought attention to Moreno’s legal issues, including previous arrests and a contentious divorce and child custody battle. Court records revealed a troubled history marked by criminal charges and a 180-day jail sentence for assault.

The shooter’s actions and aggressive behavior raised concerns about her access to firearms and the consequences of potential inadequacies in the system that allowed her to legally purchase the rifle used in the attack. The tragic incident also highlighted the importance of mental health support and intervention, as well as the need for heightened security measures to protect worshippers and prevent future acts of violence in religious spaces.

The violence deeply affected the tight-knit community of worshippers at Lakewood Church, instilling fear and uncertainty among its members. The incident also drew attention to the church’s prominent leader, Pastor Joel Osteen, and his global influence through televised services and best-selling books. Osteen’s leadership and the church’s rapid growth added layers of complexity to the story, generating widespread interest and concern about the safety of worshippers amidst the rising threats of violence in religious institutions.