UPDATE: The shooter was fatally shot by off-duty police officers and later identified as Genesse Ivonne Moreno, 36, formerly known as Jeffrey Escalante from El Salvador. Read more.
Houston, TX. – Heavy police presence can be seen surrounding Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church after reports of an active shooter in southwest Houston on Sunday.
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office said deputies responded to a possible shooting at the megachurch near the Southwest Freeway shortly after 2 p.m.
ABC13 reported that the 2 p.m. Spanish-speaking service had just begun when chaos erupted. A witness told Eyewitness News that she heard several shots being fired while in the choir room.
“The whole church started praying and declaring Jesus’ name,” she said. “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.'”
Possible active shooter at Joel Osteen Lakewood Church!! 🙏🏿🙏🏿 pic.twitter.com/wHa5nr1YTk
— Van (@vanman_1000) February 11, 2024
Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said a possible suspect was shot by deputies. It is unclear if there is more than one suspect or if anyone has been detained.
ABC13 reported that crowds of people, including children, could be seen evacuating worship. Churchgoers are being taken to Lamar High School to reunite with families after several were separated amid the havoc.
One man said he heard 20 to 30 gunshots when he ran out of the megachurch with his three young daughters.
Authorities have not confirmed how many shots were fired or if there are any injuries.