Boy Is Shot at Lakewood Church Led by Joel Osteen in Houston

18 days ago

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Boy Is Critically Wounded in Shooting at Houston Church Led by Joel Osteen

Lakewood Church - Figure 1
Photo The New York Times

A woman entered the Lakewood Church, a megachurch in Houston, with a rifle and opened fire, officials said. Off-duty officers shot and killed her.

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Child Critically Injured in Shooting at Houston MegachurchThe police said that a woman entered Lakewood Church, a Christian megachurch led by Joel Osteen, and opened fire. She was killed by off-duty police officers.

A female, approximately 30, 35 years old, entered the property on the west side here in the parking lot of Lakewood Church. She entered the building. She was armed with a long rifle, in a trench coat, with a backpack, accompanied by a small child, approximately 4 to 5 years old. Once she entered, at some point she began to fire. The officer and agent engaged, striking the female. She’s deceased here on the scene. Unfortunately, a 5-year-old kid was hit and is in critical condition at our local hospital. There was a 57-year-old man who didn’t have anything to do with it, I don’t think, was shot in the leg. He’s seeking treatment in the hospital. We’re going to stand strong. Again, I want to commend those officers. She had a long gun, and it could have been a lot worse. We’re devastated. I mean, we’ve been here 65 years — and to have somebody shooting in your church. But, you know, we don’t understand why these things happen, but we know God’s in control. And we’re going to pray for that little 5-year-old boy and pray for the lady that was deceased, her family and all, and the other gentleman. But, I don’t know, it’s just, I’m kind of in a fog. But, you know, just believe that, you know, we’re going to stay strong. We’re going to continue to move forward. And there are forces of evil, but the forces that are for us, the forces of God, are stronger than that.

The police said that a woman entered Lakewood Church, a Christian megachurch led by Joel Osteen, and opened fire. She was killed by off-duty police officers.CreditCredit...Callaghan O'Hare/Reuters

A boy was critically injured on Sunday afternoon after a woman opened fire at a Christian megachurch in Houston led by Joel Osteen, the televangelist and pastor, the authorities said.

At just before 2 p.m., the woman, holding a rifle, wearing a trench coat and carrying a backpack, entered Lakewood Church, among the largest congregations in the United States. She came with a boy of about 4 or 5 years old, Chief Troy Finner of the Houston Police Department said at a news conference on Sunday.

Two off-duty law enforcement officers who were working at the church on Sunday shot and killed the woman after she opened fire, Chief Finner said.

The boy was also shot, though it is unclear by whom. He was in critical condition at a hospital. A man in his 50s who was shot in the leg was hospitalized in stable condition, the chief said.

The woman, who was described by officials as being in her 30s, also threatened that she had a bomb, and appeared to have sprayed an unidentified substance on the ground, Chief Finner said. The authorities did not find any explosives, he said.

“She had a long gun and it could have been a lot worse,” he said. The motive for the shooting was unclear.

The shooting took place as a Spanish-language service was beginning. The church, which is attended each week by 45,000 people, draws an even larger audience for Mr. Osteen’s sermons online and on television.

Videos posted to the church’s social media appeared to show congregants standing and cheering earlier on Sunday as a band played onstage. Another showed Mr. Osteen, who is the son of Lakewood’s founder and took over the church in 1999, addressing congregants.

Mr. Osteen is one of the country’s best-known preachers in the prosperity gospel movement, which teaches that God materially rewards people who are faithful to him. His sermons are known for being simple, upbeat and bordering on self-help.

“I’m in a fog, but we’re going to stay strong,” Mr. Osteen said at the news conference. “There are forces of evil, but the forces of God are stronger than that.”

The church’s website said Sunday evening’s regularly scheduled online service had been canceled.

Del Davis, 71, and his wife, Denise, were inside the church and making their way out as Mr. Davis said he heard gunfire. An avid gun collector and retired paramedic, he said he could tell immediately they were gunshots.

“I know gunshots when I hear them,” he said. “And I could smell the gun smoke.”

He said he and his wife, who are volunteers at the church, fled as the crowds scattered. “It’s always full,” he said of the services at the church.

Another eyewitness told the television station KHOU that she was inside the church when she heard several gunshots and saw a person holding a firearm. She said she ran into a smaller room where she sheltered with about 10 other people, including a child.

“We were thankful,” the woman told KHOU. “It could have been worse.”

Ruth Graham contributed reporting.

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