A woman who opened fire inside pastor Joel Osteen’s Houston megachurch on Sunday was killed by two off-duty law enforcement officers, according to authorities.
A young boy who accompanied the rifle-toting woman into Lakewood Church at around 1:50 p.m. local time was in critical condition after being shot in the exchange of gunfire, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said at a news conference.
The child, believed to be around 5 years old, remained in critical condition on Sunday afternoon. It was not immediately clear who had fired the shot that had injured the boy, nor what his relationship to the woman was.
One other person, a 56-year-old man, was hospitalized with a gunshot wound to the leg. He was listed as stable on Sunday afternoon.
The woman was pronounced dead at the scene. Estimated to be between 30 and 35 years old, she was not immediately identified by authorities. Finner said that the woman had threatened she also “had a bomb,” but authorities searching her backpack and vehicle had been unable to locate any explosives.
Osteen also addressed the shooting at the news conference. “[Of] course, we’re devastated. We have been here 65 years; to have somebody shooting in your church....” he said, trailing off. “But [while] we don’t understand why these things happen, we know God is in control.”
The 60-year-old pastor went on to say that the community would be praying for the boy and the gun-toting woman.
“We’re going to stay strong,” Osteen continued. “We’re going to continue to move forward. There are forces of evil. The forces that are for us, the forces of God are stronger than that.”
Pastor Joel Osteen addresses media after shooting at Lakewood Church in Houston: "We don't understand why these things happen, but we know God's in control." https://t.co/rzYNp0xEmk pic.twitter.com/r2uDjli4Ey
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Osteen explained that the church had been transitioning between services when the shooting began. “I can only imagine if it would have happened during the 11 o’clock service,” he said.
A motive in the shooting was not immediately announced by police, and an investigation into the matter was ongoing on Sunday evening, with first responders remaining on the scene.
“There is an active situation involving shots fired at Lakewood. Law enforcement is on the scene,” Lakewood Church had earlier posted on X. “That is all the information we have at this time. Please pray for Lakewood and our community.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said in a statement that he and his wife were among those praying for Lakewood and its parishioners. “Our hearts are with those impacted by today’s tragic shooting in Houston,” he said. “Places of worship are sacred.”
Roughly 45,000 people attend weekly services at Lakewood, making it the third largest megachurch in the U.S., the Associated Press reported, citing the Hartford Institute for Religion Research.
“We worship together,” Finner said. “We cry together. But we rebuild together. This is a tragic day. Watch how we stand together. No suspect or suspects will tear down our city and our places of worship.”