Church Shooting Investigation Uncovers Explosives, More Questions

Houston, Texas – Investigators are searching the suburban home of a woman killed by off-duty law enforcement officers after she opened fire in one of the largest evangelical megachurches in the country, causing panic in which a child and a worshiper were shot.

Genesse Moreno, 36, was armed with an AR-15 style rifle when she entered Lakewood Church before an afternoon Spanish-language service, according to police. The two off-duty officers, who were working security, confronted Moreno, who fired several rounds and indicated that she had a bomb. The officers returned fire, killing her and injuring a 56-year-old man in the hip and the 5-year-old boy who was with Moreno.

At the time of the shooting, Moreno had a backpack, yellow rope and substances consistent with the manufacture of explosive devices. Investigators searched Moreno’s house for evidence of a bomb hoax, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and/or possession of prohibited weapons, the warrant said. It wasn’t clear what the relationship was between Moreno and the injured child or what his condition was on Monday.

Moreno had previously been convicted or pleaded guilty in the Houston area to misdemeanor assault, fraud, and drug charges, records show. Some misdemeanor convictions bar people from legally buying guns in Texas, but it wasn’t immediately clear whether Moreno’s convictions would have. Moreno at times used a male first name, Jeffrey, and listed her sex as both male and female in records, and it was not clear whether Moreno identified as transgender.

Lakewood Church is home to Joel Osteen’s global ministry, a cavernous former basketball arena with nearly 45,000 worshipers weekly. The church was not holding in-person services on Monday, a staff member said. The motive behind Moreno’s actions remained unclear as investigators searched for more information. The injured child was taken to a hospital in critical condition while the community tried to make sense of the tragic incident that occurred within their place of worship.