A 5-year-old child is in critical condition and a female suspect is dead following a shooting at a Texas megachurch. Another victim, a man in his 50s, is in hospital in stable condition.
Police were called to Lakewood Church in the Houston, Tex., area just before 2 p.m. for reports of shots fired.
The church is the home of pastor and author Joel Osteen. Lakewood posted to X just before 3 p.m. saying "There is an active situation involving shots fired at Lakewood. Law enforcement is on the scene."
Troy Finner, chief of Houston's police department, says that several officers responded within minutes, and the suspect, an adult female, was killed in an exchange of gunfire.
Police believe the woman to be between the ages of 30 and 35. There's no other information available on the suspect or potential motive at this time, Finner says.
The church's X post stated that the church had no other information, and asked readers to pray for the church and community. The church's website says its evening service has been cancelled.
There is an active situation involving shots fired at Lakewood. Law enforcement is on the scene.— Lakewood Church (@lakewoodchurch) February 11, 2024
That is all the information we have at this time. Please pray for Lakewood and our community.
Suspect had small child, claimed to have bomb
A hurried press conference took place at 4:30 p.m. with police, fire, and church officials on hand. Houston's police chief Troy Finner says that at 1:53 p.m. a woman between the ages of 30 and 35 entered the building armed with a long gun, wearing a trench coat and backpack. Police say she was accompanied by a small child, around four or five years old.
The woman began to fire and two officers who were already on location responded and shot the victim. According to officers on site, after being struck the woman then threatened that she had a bomb and began to spray a substance. No explosives have been found at this time, according to police.
Police did not say if the suspect was pronounced deceased at the scene or hospital.
It's not clear if the injured child is the same child who was with the suspect, or another child who was at the church, and it's not clear if they were shot by the suspect or by police in crossfire.
Other children that were at the church were taken to a neighbouring building where they are currently being reunited with family, according to police.
"No suspects will tear down our city and our places of worship," the police chief said at the start of his comments.
Finner says that the police department will be increasing patrols around religious institutions in the area to ensure the safety of worshippers of all religions.
Osteen spoke briefly to the media and said that the church was between services at the time of the shooting, getting prepared for its Spanish afternoon service. He says that things may have been much worse if it took place when more people were on site.
"Of course, we're devastated," Osteen said. "We've been here 65 years and to have somebody shooting in your church, you know, we don't understand why these things happen, but we know God's in control. We're going to pray for the five-year-old little boy, pray for the lady that was deceased, and pray for her family and all, and the other gentleman."
Osteen described himself as still being in a fog given the situation.
Finner says that they believe the shooting was an isolated incident and there is no further threat to public safety at this time. He also says the police department will stand with the church and help them move forward in healing. You can watch the entire press conference below.
John Whitmire, Mayor of Houston, thanked the first responders for their quick response and encouraged the public to pray for the first responders and victims.