HOUSTON, TEXAS – A shooting at a popular Texas megachurch on Sunday afternoon left one woman dead and a young child in critical condition. The incident occurred at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church, located roughly 6 miles from downtown Houston. The shooter, estimated to be between 30 and 35 years old, entered the church with a long gun and a young child and opened fire, according to Houston Police Chief Troy Finner. Two off-duty officers engaged the shooter, resulting in her being shot and killed at the scene.
The young child, hit during the shooting, is currently in the hospital in critical condition. The circumstances surrounding the child’s injury are still unclear, and authorities have not released any details regarding the shooter’s motive or her relationship to the child who accompanied her. The church was in between services at the time of the shooting, and the incident took place just as the congregation was preparing to go into a Spanish service, Osteen said at a news conference.
The shooting marks the latest outbreak of gun violence in the US, occurring at a place of worship, adding to a series of incidents at locations once considered safe. Both officers who engaged with the shooter will be placed on administrative duty pending the investigation, and authorities are still investigating whether the shooter was politically motivated or acting as a disturbed individual.
The shooter also claimed to have had a bomb, but after authorities conducted a search of her vehicle and backpack, no explosives were found. The Houston Fire Department confirmed that there is no further danger to the public, and the shooting is believed to be an isolated incident. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has offered the full support and resources of the state to help the community, urging people to join him in praying for the community during this difficult time.
With a background in television production, Osteen took over his father’s church in 1999 and built a huge following, drawing 45,000 attendees to the church weekly. Witnesses described the sound of shots and screaming as erratic and terrifying, emphasizing the traumatic impact of the incident on the community and law enforcement involved. The shooting at such a well-known church has left many devastated and concerned, highlighting the ongoing issue of gun violence in the United States.
In conclusion, the incident at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church serves as a stark reminder of the prevalence of gun violence in American society, even in places that were once considered safe. The impact on the community and the individuals involved is deeply traumatic, underscoring the need for greater efforts to address the root causes of such incidents and prevent further tragedies.