Houston, TX – February 12, 2024
In a shocking incident that unfolded during Pastor Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church service on Sunday afternoon, a female shooter entered the renowned church premises, leading to a harrowing exchange of gunfire with off-duty authorities. The tragic incident resulted in the suspect’s death, two individuals injured, and chaos as worshippers scrambled for safety.
Houston Police Chief Troy Finner provided details, revealing that the suspect, described as a woman aged 30 to 35, entered Lakewood Church around 2 p.m. armed with a long rifle, wearing a trench coat, and carrying a backpack. Shockingly, she also had a 5-year-old child accompanying her. As the woman opened fire, an off-duty agent of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and an off-duty Houston Police Department officer returned fire, ultimately striking and killing the suspect.
Finner stated that multiple shots were fired, but the exact number remains unknown. The child brought into the church sustained critical injuries, while a 57-year-old man suffered a gunshot wound to the hip. Despite the chaos, Finner assured the public, stating, “No suspect or suspects will tear down our city,” and commended the collaboration of law enforcement agencies and first responders.
The suspect reportedly claimed to have a bomb and sprayed an unknown substance, but initial assessments found no evidence of an explosive device at the scene. Authorities have not disclosed a motive or the suspect’s identity.
Mayor John Whitmire emphasized that the incident appears to be an isolated one, stating, “At this time, it appears to be a lone actor.” The shooting occurred just before a Spanish-language service was set to begin at the megachurch, where Osteen and his wife minister to thousands in person and millions worldwide each week.
Witnesses inside the church described moments of terror as gunfire rang out. AndreinaRondón, present in the main sanctuary, recalled the fear and uncertainty as she sought safety with her sons, who were in separate youth programs within the church. Other parishioners were ushered into secure areas as police cleared each room.
The incident prompted an immediate response on social media, with Lakewood Church posting an update on the ongoing situation, urging the community to pray for the victims. Houston police declared the area an “ongoing, active scene” and requested the public to stay away.
Governor Abbott expressed condolences and pledged the full support of state resources to assist the community in the aftermath of the tragic shooting. As the investigation unfolds, the Lakewood Church community and the city of Houston grapple with the aftermath of this senseless act of violence.