A woman in a trench coat armed with a long rifle – and accompanied by a young child – entered pastor Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church on Sunday afternoon and began firing, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said.
Two off-duty law enforcement officers – a Houston police officer and an agent with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission – engaged and struck the woman, who died on the scene, Finner said. The woman was roughly 30-35 years old, the chief said.
“Unfortunately a 5-year-old kid was hit and is in critical condition at our local hospital,” he added. The incident unfolded just before 2 p.m., the chief said. It was unclear who fired the shot that struck the child, the chief said, or what the child’s relationship to the shooter was.
A 57-year-old man – who authorities don’t believe was connected to the incident – was shot in the leg and is seeking treatment at a hospital, Finner said.
“I want to commend those officers. She had a long gun and it could have been a lot worse,” Finner said. “But they stepped up and they did their job, and I want to thank them for that.” An investigation will take place into the shooting and both law enforcement officers will be placed on administrative leave while the probe is ongoing.
01:57 – Source: KPRC
Police chief explains what happened during shooting at Joel Osteen’s church
The woman had also threatened she “had a bomb,” but authorities searched her vehicle and a backpack she was wearing and found no explosives, Finner said. “She was also spraying some type of substance on the ground,” the chief added.
Lakewood Church – a megachurch about 6 miles from downtown Houston – confirmed reports of “shots fired,” earlier, saying on X, “There is an active situation involving shots fired at Lakewood. Law enforcement is on the scene. That is all the information we have at this time. Please pray for Lakewood and our community.”
Speaking during the news conference, Osteen, the pastor, said the shooting took place “in between services,” noting the timing of the incident likely helped prevent further injuries and damage.
“I can only imagine if it would have happened during the 11 o’clock service,” he said.
“So, you know, if there’s anything good of it … (it’s) that she didn’t get in there and do a whole lot worse damage,” Osteen said of the shooter.
In a statement Sunday afternoon, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said, “Our hearts are with those impacted by today’s tragic shooting and the entire Lakewood Church community in Houston. Places of worship are sacred.”
The governor added he has been in contact with local and state officials to “help this community and help bring swift justice to the criminal who committed this heinous act.”
A Lakewood parishioner at the scene told CNN affiliate KPRC he was inside the church waiting for the Spanish language service to start when he heard multiple shots fired. The man was then instructed by a church usher to run, he told KPRC. The service was slated to begin at 3:00 p.m. ET, according to the church website.
CNN has reached out to Houston police and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office for more information.
Lakewood Church, now located in what used to be a sports arena, was founded by Osteen’s father in the 1950s.
The White House is tracking the shooting and working to obtain more information, a White House official said.
CNN’s Aileen Graef and Sarah Dewberry contributed to this report.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
Amanda Smith is a dedicated U.S. correspondent with a passion for uncovering the stories that shape the nation. With a background in political science, she provides in-depth analysis and insightful commentary on domestic affairs, ensuring readers are well-informed about the latest developments across the United States.