Shootout at Joel Osteen’s Houston megachurch leaves female gunman dead, two wounded, including child

Houston police said Sunday that an armed woman was gunned down by officers in a shootout at pastor Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church that left a child and a man wounded.

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said two off-duty officers shot and killed the woman shortly before 2 p.m. after she walked in with a long rifle while wearing a trenchcoat and a backpack.

The chief said a 5-year-old boy is in critical condition after being wounded during the shooting. It was unclear who shot the child, but Chief Finner said the child had accompanied the female shooter.

A 57-year-old man was also hit in the leg once the shooting erupted, police said. He was listed in stable condition with a hip wound.

No names were immediately released Sunday evening, not did officials say they had any leads on the shooter’s motive.

Chief Finner said he is going to “put the blame” on the woman for the boy being wounded during the shooting, even if it was officers’ gunfire that hit the child.

“She had a long gun, and it could have been a lot worse,” the chief said about what might’ve happened had the officers not fired on her.

Police said the woman, who was believed to be in her early 30s, also said to have a bomb. Officers found no evidence of explosives after searching her car and backpack, according to police.

Authorities are also investigating an unknown substance that was sprayed by the suspect at the scene.

The shooting took place right as Lakewood congregants were entering for a 2 p.m. Spanish service.

“Our hearts are with those impacted by today’s tragic shooting and the entire Lakewood Church community in Houston,” said Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. “Places of worship are sacred.”

The shooting occurred at the third-largest church in the U.S., which uses an arena that formerly had been the home of the NBA’s Houston Rockets. Lakewood typically hosts about 45,000 people at services every week, according to the Hartford Institute for Religion Research.

Mr. Osteen said the church is “devastated” and asked that people pray for the wounded and the dead woman. He didn’t say where he was at the time of the attack.

“We’re going to stay strong and we’re going to continue to, to move forward,” he said at a press conference after the city authorities spoke.

“There are forces of evil, but the forces that are for us — the forces of God — are stronger than that. So we’re going to keep going strong and just, you know, doing what God’s called us to do: lift people up and give hope to the world,” he said.

One of the officers who opened fire on the woman was with Houston police, and the other with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

A woman who witnessed the shooting told local ABC affiliate KTRK-TV that “the whole church started praying and declaring Jesus’ name” when shots rang out.

“I was like, ‘This might be the last time I get to pray, that I get to glorify the name of Jesus, so I’m going to do this,’” said the woman, whom the station didn’t identify.

• This article was based in part on wire service reports.

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