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Houston, TX - Suspected Shooter, Genesse Ivonne Moreno, Shot Dead After Opening Fire in Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church

Houston, TX - Suspected Shooter, Genesse Ivonne Moreno, Shot Dead After Opening Fire in Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church
Published: February 15, 2024
By: Darla Medina
Last Updated on February 15, 2024

Gunwoman Opens Fire Inside Joel Osteen's Megachurch, Leaving Two Injured

A shocking incident unfolded on Sunday, February 11, 2024,  as a woman clad in a trenchcoat entered Lakewood Church, accompanied by a 5-year-old boy, and opened fire with a long rifle, causing panic and chaos among the worshippers according to AP News. The megachurch, led by celebrity pastor Joel Osteen, was moments away from commencing its 2 p.m. Spanish service when the violence erupted at Lakewood Church, located at 3700 Southwest Fwy, Houston, TX 77027.

ABC 13 reported the suspected shooter, identified as 36-year-old Genesse Ivonne Moreno, entered the enormous Lakewood Church wearing a trenchcoat and backpack, armed with a long rifle with her son. As the service was about to commence, Moreno opened fire inside the church, leading to a tense standoff with law enforcement.

Two off-duty officers, one from the Houston Police Department and another from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, confronted Moreno and exchanged gunfire, bravely putting their lives at risk. Witnesses reported hearing multiple gunshots, prompting screams and panic among the churchgoers.

Thanks to the swift response of the off-duty officers, the situation was contained, preventing further loss of life. However, a man in his 50s and Moreno's 7-year-old son were both injured during the shootout. The young boy sustained a gunshot wound to the head and remained in critical condition at a Houston children's hospital.

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner expressed his outrage at the suspect, stating that Moreno had put the child's life in danger. Finner also revealed that Moreno claimed to have a bomb and possessed materials consistent with the manufacture of explosive devices, but subsequent investigations found no explosives or hazardous materials at the scene.

The Lakewood Church, known for its massive 16,000-person capacity and regular attendance of 45,000 people per week, is one of the largest megachurches in the United States. Pastor Joel Osteen expressed his devastation over the incident, offering prayers for the victims, the suspect, and their families. It was unclear where Osteen was at the time of the shooting.

According to a 49-page report obtained by ABC13, Conroe Police Department had been called to Moreno's address 20 times over the past five years due to her erratic behavior and alleged threats. Moreno's ex-mother-in-law revealed that she suffered from schizophrenia, shedding light on her mental health struggles. The report also revealed that Moreno had made several calls to the police, expressing paranoia about neighbors stalking her and accusing her ex-husband of posing as an FBI agent. However, police responses to these incidents did not result in any arrests or mental health interventions. They have also discovered antisemitic writings and a "Palestine" sticker on Moreno's rifle, leading them to describe the shooter as a "lone wolf" not associated with any larger extremist group.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott expressed condolences to the Lakewood Church community and those affected by the tragic shooting, emphasizing the sanctity of places of worship.

As the investigation continues, authorities are working to piece together the events leading up to this harrowing incident and understand the full extent of Moreno's motivations and actions. The community mourns the senseless violence that unfolded within the walls of their place of worship, and they vow to remain strong and united in the face of adversity.

Anjali Nigam
Hello, I’m attorney Anjali Nigam. If you or a loved one is a survivor of a similar accident, I’d be happy to discuss your legal options. Call for a free consultation, it would be my honor to help you.
(888) 997-3792

Seeking Justice and Compensation After a Devastating Church Shooting

In the aftermath of a devastating shooting at Joel Osteen's megachurch, victims and their families are left grappling with the emotional and legal repercussions. To shed light on the potential options for seeking justice following such a tragic incident, we sat down with Anjali Nigam, an experienced violent crimes attorney based in Texas. In this interview, Nigam provides valuable insights into the civil case possibilities, discussing premises liability claims and negligence claims against those that may be held accountable. Join us as we explore the legal avenues available to victims and their families following a church shooting.

Editor Darla Medina (DM):  Thank you for joining us, Anjali.

Anjali Nigam, Esq. (AN): Thank you for having me, Darla. It's a difficult time for the victims and their families, and it's important to understand the legal avenues available to anyone that endures such a tragedy.

DM: Absolutely, Anjali. In a situation like this, where a mass shooting occurs at a place of worship, what are some of the potential civil claims that victims and their families could pursue?

AN: When it comes to incidents like this, victims and their families may have several legal options. One potential avenue is filing a premises liability claim against the church if it can be shown that they failed to provide adequate security measures or ignored previous warning signs. Additionally, victims may consider pursuing a negligence claim against the shooter if evidence suggests that they acted negligently or recklessly.

DM: Can you elaborate on the premises liability claim? What would need to be proven in such a case?

AN: In a premises liability claim, the victims and their families would need to demonstrate that the church had a duty to provide a safe environment for its congregants and that this duty was breached. This could involve showing that the church failed to implement proper security measures or neglected to address previous incidents or threats. It is crucial to establish that the church could have reasonably foreseen the potential for harm and yet failed to take adequate precautions.

DM: Could the actions of the police department be potentially held accountable for failing to take action if the shooter had a history of threats or erratic behavior?

AN: In certain circumstances, if it can be established that the police department had prior knowledge of the shooter's erratic behavior, threats, or mental health issues and failed to take appropriate action, there could be grounds to hold them accountable. This could potentially involve claims of negligence or a failure to provide adequate protection to the community. However, it's crucial to thoroughly investigate the specific facts and circumstances surrounding the police department's response and consult with legal experts to determine the viability of such claims.

DM: That's informative, Anjali. In terms of potential compensation, what types of damages could victims and their families seek in a civil case?

AN: In a civil case, victims and their families may seek various types of damages, including medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, pain and suffering, emotional distress, lost wages, and in the unfortunate event of a fatality, wrongful death damages. The specific damages sought would depend on the circumstances of each individual case.

DM: Thank you for providing us with valuable insights, Anjali. Is there anything else you would like to add for our readers?

AN: It's important for victims and their families to seek legal counsel promptly to understand their rights and explore the available legal options. A qualified attorney can guide them through the complex process and help them pursue the justice and compensation they deserve.

DM: Thank you once again, Anjali, for sharing your expertise with us during this difficult time. We appreciate your insights.

AN: It was my pleasure, Darla. My thoughts are with the victims and their families during this challenging period.


ABC 13

AP News


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Darla Medina
About Darla Medina
Editor: Darla is a content writer with a focus on the legal field. She covers cases of sexual abuse, drunk driving, and preventable violent crime for the Legal Herald. Contact Darla: This article was fact checked prior to publishing by this author to ensure compliance with our rigorous editorial standards. We will only use authoritative sources. Our values compel us to provide only trustworthy information. If you find an error, please contact us.
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