HOUSTON – A woman wearing a trenchcoat and armed with a long rifle was fatally shot by law enforcement officers after allegedly opening fire at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church Sunday afternoon.
According to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, the reported shooting happened in the 3700 block of the Southwest Freeway, at Lakewood Church.
Joel Osteen, who cofounded Lakewood Church, said they were in between services, going into the Spanish service when the shooting started.
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said at 1:53 p.m., a female, approximately 30-35 years old entered on the west side of the property parking lot. She was armed with a long rifle, wearing a trench coat and a backpack, and accompanied by a 4 or 5-year-old child. Finner said she began to fire the gun after she entered.
Finner complimented the off-duty officers on the scene, who both quickly engaged with the female suspect.
“It could have been a lot worse,” said Finner. “They stepped up and did their job.”
The off-duty officers said the woman threatened to have a bomb after she was shot. Her vehicle and backpack were searched and no bomb was found. She died at the scene.
Finner said the child with the woman was hit and is in critical condition at Children’s Texas.
A 57-year-old man was also shot in the leg or hip and is being treated at the hospital.
Finner said they do not currently know the woman’s motivation and it is currently unknown how many shots she fired.
“Of course, we’re devastated. We don’t understand why these things happen,” Osteen said. “We’re going to pray for the 5-year-old little boy, the lady who is deceased and the other gentleman. We’re going to stay strong and continue to move forward.”
Gov. Greg Abbott said he has been in contact with Houston Mayor John Whitmire and offered the “full support and resources” of the state, including the Department of Public Safety and the Texas Rangers to “help bring swift justice to the criminal who committed this heinous act.”
“Our hearts are with those impacted by today’s tragic shooting and the entire Lakewood Church community in Houston,” Abbott said in a statement. “Places of worship are sacred.”
The two off-duty officers will be placed on administrative duty, as is standard when an officer-involved shooting occurs. Investigations into the shooting will be ongoing.
The female suspect has not been identified yet.
Finner said patrols will be increased in and around religious institutions.
Lakewood Church, founded by Joel and Delores Osteen, is among the largest congregations in the country, averaging about 45,000 attendees per week, according to its website.
This is a developing story.