Tragedy struck on Sunday, February 11, 2024, as a woman from El Salvador, Genesse Ivonne Moreno, opened fire at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood church in Texas. The suspect was ultimately killed by two off-duty officers at the scene.
During the incident, a 7-year-old child who accompanied Moreno to the church was critically injured and identified as her son. Additionally, a 57-year-old man was also injured and received treatment at a nearby hospital.
Further details about the suspect were revealed by the Houston Police Department (HPD) during a press conference. It was disclosed that Genesse Ivonne Moreno had a lengthy criminal history dating back to 2005.
There were social media allegations that Moreno was transgender, as she used an alias, Jeffrey Escalante. However, HPD clarified that their investigation concluded she identified as a female.
According to NBC News, records show that Moreno had been arrested at least six times since 2005 for various crimes, including forgery, assault on a police officer, and unlawful carrying of a weapon. Authorities also noted her documented mental health history and stated that she had been placed under an emergency detention order by HPD in 2016.
Inside Moreno’s vehicle, authorities discovered “some antisemitic writings.” It is believed that this may have stemmed from her contentious relationship with her ex-husband’s Jewish family.
The weapon used in the shooting was identified as an AR-15 rifle, with a Palestine sticker on it. Authorities are currently investigating the significance of this detail. Additionally, a .22 caliber rifle was found in Moreno’s possession.
The ex-mother-in-law of the suspect, Rabbi Walli Carranza, posted on Facebook, stating that her grandson, Samuel Moreno-Carranza, had suffered a gunshot wound to the brain and was in critical condition at Texas Children’s Hospital. Carranza emphasized that the shooting had nothing to do with Judaism or Islam but was a result of Moreno’s severe mental illness.
Carranza expressed frustration with child protective services, as they had refused to remove her grandson from his mother’s care despite her diagnosed mental illness. She called for understanding and support for families dealing with mental illness, emphasizing that it is a genuine illness that requires protection and care.
As the investigation into this tragic incident continues, the community mourns the loss and prays for the recovery of the injured child.