HOUSTON, TX – A terrifying scene unfolded at Lakewood Church, led by Joel Osteen, in Houston, Texas, as a woman wielding a long rifle opened fire on the congregation before being shot dead by police. Two people, including a child, were wounded and are currently hospitalized.
The woman, described to be in her early 30s, entered the church carrying a rifle in broad daylight around 2 p.m. on Sunday. With her was a small child, four to five years old. Houston police reported that the woman started shooting immediately upon entering.
Responding to the threat, two off-duty officers present during the incident neutralized the shooter, who died at the scene. Reports confirm that the child accompanying the woman and an unrelated 57-year-old man were wounded during the gunfire. Both are now in hospitals receiving treatment, with the child said to be in critical condition.
As she fell, the woman threatened the officials, stating she had a bomb. Bomb squad investigators found no traces of explosives in her car or backpack and determined the threat to be unsubstantiated.
The frightful incident occurred right before the commencement of the 2 p.m. service primarily for Spanish-speaking worshippers. A panicked eyewitness revealed that shots were heard as she was in the choir room, inciting prayers amongst the congregation.
Lakewood Church, with a regular attendance of 45,000 people, was live-streaming when shots disrupted the preaching. People were seen evacuating after the incident began. The church’s management directed the congregants to the nearby Lifetime Fitness Center at 1 Healthy Way in the Greenway Plaza area as families separated due to the unexpected turmoil.
Video encapsulated the horrific moments with sounds of rapid gunfire and frantic worshippers fleeing the scene. A man told media he heard 20 to 30 shots when escaping the megachurch along with his three daughters.
Area residents and drivers were advised by the Houston Police Department to avoid the vicinity as investigations are ongoing. The Southwest Freeway feeder road near Edloe Street was closed as law enforcement continued assessments.
Community leaders, including pastor Joel Osteen and Texas Governor Greg Abbott, voiced their distress over the tragic incident and extended their support to the affected individuals and their families.