Lakewood church services resume after shooting

Service resumed at Lakewood Church in Houston a week after a shooting left the assailant dead. Image by Simaah from Pixabay
Service resumed at Lakewood Church in Houston a week after a shooting left the assailant dead. Image by Simaah from Pixabay

Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Services resumed at Lakewood Church in Houston on Sunday, a week after a woman armed with a rifle opened fire in the megachurch.

The shooter, who was accompanied by her 7-year-old son, was killed by police in self-defense. Pastor Joel Osteen addressed the tragedy during the service Sunday morning at the nation's third-largest church against the backdrop of a large security presence.


"Our God is still on the throne. Our God is still in control. I love that, you know, no weapon formed against us is gonna prosper," Osteen said to cheers during the first service of the morning, which was live streamed. "God's got us covered."

Genesse Ivonne Moreno, 36, began shooting upon walking into Lakewood Church between services on Feb. 11. Moreno, wearing a trench coat, wounded a 47-year-old man before turning the weapon toward law enforcement officers, who shot and killed her in self-defense, authorities said. The 7-year-old boy was inadvertently struck in the head.


Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said it remains unclear who fired the shot that injured the child, who remained hospitalized in critical condition on Sunday.

Finner said police are still reviewing video of the incident, which will help determine who injured the child. "If our officer or if an agent, or whomever, shot that kid, I put that responsibility square[ly] on that suspect for bringing that kid in this tragic event," Finner said Sunday.

The church on Sunday was filled with attendees for what was labeled a "special service of healing, prayer and unity." Some wore shirts emblazoned with the phrase "Lakewood Strong." Joel and Victoria Osteen thanked the parishioners for returning. Joel Osteen was visibly emotional and said he hadn't planned on crying as he walked onto the stage.

"You know what? It's not tears of sadness, it's tears of gratefulness for what God has done for us," Osteen said. The pastor later prayed for Moreno, referring to her as "the deceased woman," as well as for Moreno's family.

"Lord, I just ask that you ... heal the hurts in that family," he said.

Investigators are still trying to determine Moreno's motive in last week's shooting, including whether her mental health issues or a recent argument with her ex-husband's family could have played a role.


Walli Carranza, Moreno's mother-in-law, wrote Thursday on Facebook that her daughter had a history of mental health challenges but was allowed to own a gun anyway.

The child, who Carranza said went into cardiac arrest multiple times, has lost "a portion of his frontal lobe," according to the Facebook post. "Half of his right skull has to be surgically removed during two surgeries done in less than 24 hours," she wrote.

Osteen was grateful that the incident happened between services and not during one of the busiest times of the day, which he said limited casualties.

"I can only imagine if it would have happened during the 11 o'clock service," Osteen said last Sunday.

During his first sermon at Lakewood Church since the shooting, Osteen said he never dreamed such an incident would happen at the church started by his parents 65 years ago.

"I just never, never thought we'd be dealing with this," he said.

He thanked the church's security team, which flanked the stage Sunday as Osteen delivered his first message since the shooting.

"I feel safe, stay with us a minute there," he said light-heartedly, "Let me preach like this from now on," while the congregation laughed before Osteen started a group prayer with joined hands.


Video surveillance is likely to be released within 30 days, according to police.

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