The suspect, a woman, reportedly entered the church armed with a long rifle, accompanied by a child of around four to five years of age.
The incident occurred at approximately 1:53 p.m., coinciding with the commencement of the Spanish language church service, as disclosed by Police Chief Troy Finner during a press briefing. The woman, donned in a trench coat and carrying a backpack, initiated the shooting, which was promptly responded to by off-duty officers present at the scene. The suspect was declared dead at the location.
The unfortunate event resulted in injuries to two individuals, including a 57-year-old man who sustained a gunshot wound to his leg. The child accompanying the shooter was also critically injured. In a chilling revelation, Finner disclosed that the woman had claimed to possess a bomb. "Once she went down, officers reported back to us that she threatened that she had a bomb," Finner elaborated. A thorough search of her vehicle and backpack by the bomb squad, however, did not yield any explosives. The woman was also reported to have sprayed an unidentified substance on the ground.
The police have classified the incident as an isolated event and reassured the public of no further threats. Joel Osteen, the senior pastor of Lakewood Church, expressed his devastation over the incident during the press conference. "We don't understand why all these things happened, but we know God's in control," Osteen stated, vowing to continue their mission of uplifting people and restoring hope.
The suspect's death was initially announced by Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez via social media. "Correction: shooter is down," Gonzalez posted, clarifying that the shots were fired by other agencies, not the Harris County Sheriff's Office deputies. Gonzalez had earlier reported possible shots fired at or around Lakewood Church, which was later confirmed by Texas police.
In the aftermath of the incident, the police advised individuals searching for missing family members to head to the family reunification location at Greenway Plaza's Life Time Fitness gym. Lakewood Church confirmed the shooting on social media, requesting prayers for the church and the community.
Governor Greg Abbott expressed his condolences in a press release sent to local outlets, labeling the incident as "tragic." "Our hearts are with those impacted by today’s tragic shooting and the entire Lakewood Church community in Houston," Abbott stated, emphasizing the sanctity of places of worship.