Houston (USA): A woman who opened fire with a rifle inside the megachurch of famous Christian preacher Joel Osteen in Houston, Texas, was fatally shot by two off-duty officers on Sunday. Two other people, including a five-year-old boy, were injured in the shooting.
According to Houston Police Chief Troy Finner, the woman, who was in her 30s, entered the Lakewood Church with the boy around 1:50 pm, just before the start of the Spanish service. She claimed to have a bomb and began shooting randomly, hitting a 57-year-old man in the hip and the boy in the abdomen. The man was in stable condition, while the boy was in critical condition at a children’s hospital.
Finner said that two off-duty officers who were working as security guards at the church confronted the woman and exchanged gunfire with her. The woman was killed at the scene, while the officers were not injured. The woman’s identity and motive were not yet known, and it was unclear if she had any connection to the boy or the church.
Finner also said that the woman sprayed an unknown substance when the police arrived, which prompted the fire department to respond and decontaminate the area. He said the substance was being tested to determine what it was and if it posed any danger.
The shooting occurred between the church’s two main services, which attract thousands of worshippers every week. Lakewood Church is one of the largest megachurches in the US, with a seating capacity of 16,000. It was formerly an arena for the NBA’s Houston Rockets.
Osteen, who is known for his televised sermons and best-selling books, said he was grateful that the shooting did not happen during the earlier and larger 11 am service. He said he was praying for the victims and their families, and thanked the police and the church staff for their quick and courageous actions.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott also expressed his condolences and support to the Lakewood Church community, saying, “Our hearts are with those impacted by today’s tragic shooting and the entire Lakewood Church community in Houston.”