Police Identify Shooter Who Opened Fire At Joel Osteen’s Megachurch In Houston



Emergency vehicles line the feeder road outside Lakewood Church during a reported active shooter event, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024, in Houston. (Kirk Sides/Houston Chronicle via AP)
Emergency vehicles line the feeder road outside Lakewood Church during a reported active shooter event, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024, in Houston. (Kirk Sides/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Elizabeth Volberding
12:15 PM – Monday, February 12, 2024

The shooter who opened fire at Pastor Joel Osteen’s megachurch in Houston, Texas, has been identified by law enforcement as 36-year-old Genesee Ivonne Moreno.

On Sunday at approximately 2:00 p.m., the transgender female gunman walked into the Lakewood Church with “Free Palestine” written on their AR-15. According to reports, Moreno was wearing a trench coat and a backpack and was accompanied by a seven-year-old boy who has been confirmed to have been the shooter’s biological son.

According to detectives in the Montgomery County warrant obtained by the Houston Police Department, Moreno entered Lakewood Church, the third largest megachurch in the U.S., and then shot and injured a man with an AR-15 rifle. 

Moreno then aimed the gun at security guards who weren’t on duty. Before more harm could be done, Moreno was soon shot by two law enforcement officers and died due to the wounds sustained.

The male victim, who was identified to be a 57-year-old, and the seven-year-old boy who was with the Moreno, were both struck by gunfire at some point during the shooting. It’s unclear if the victims were struck by shots fired by the responding officers or by bullets from the suspect’s gun.

According to the police, the child, was transported in critical condition to Texas Children’s Hospital.  

In addition, the warrant stated that Moreno claimed to have a bomb before being killed. In order to investigate Moreno’s motive and intentions for the shooting, detectives sought a warrant for a Conroe address linked to Moreno.

Later, Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña verified that no explosives had been discovered during the search of the shooters personal items and vehicle.

“Right now, I can safely say that we have not found anything that is of concern to our community or to this location, but we’re going to take our time to ensure that we look at every aspect,” Peña stated in a press conference on Sunday.

“It’s traumatic not only for our community but it’s certainly traumatic for the officers who had to take a life and we worry about their mental health as well, so our prayers are with them,” he added.

According to the press, the shooter identified as transgender and was originally born with the name “Jeffrey Escalante” in El Salvador before eventually changing it to Genesee Ivonne Moreno. Sources have also claimed that Moreno had an extensive criminal background.

Except for the shooter, no other deaths are currently listed as a result of the incident. A local hospital provided treatment to a man who had been shot in the leg. As of Monday morning, the seven-year-old is currently in critical condition.

Additionally, no information has been released regarding the shooter’s possible motivation.

Pastor Joel Osteen, 60, who is an ambassador of the megachurch, made a statement to the press regarding the incident. He mentioned that the tragedy “could have been worse” if the shooting had occurred during the earlier Sunday morning service, in which many more people attended.

“We don’t understand why these things happen, but we know God’s in control,” Osteen said.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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