A woman wearing a trench coat was shot dead by two off-duty police officers after opening fire at a Texas church led by celebrity priest Joel Osteen.
Worshipers at the Lakewood megachurch in Houston ran for safety after violence broke out shortly before a 2 p.m. Spanish-language service Sunday.
Two people were injured in the shooting, including a five-year-old boy, still in critical condition, and a 57-year-old man, in stable condition and being treated for a hip injury.
The woman was shot by two officers from the Houston Police Department and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, who were providing security at the church.
She had told police she had a bomb, but authorities said no explosives were found during searches of her vehicle and backpack.
The child is believed to have been with the suspect, but police have not yet determined whether the two were related, or identified a possible motive.
Police Chief Troy Finner said the incident “could have been much worse” if the two officers had not “attacked” the woman when she opened fire.
“This woman, this suspect, put this baby in danger. I’m going to blame her,” he said.
Church member Alan Guity, 35, said he was resting inside the building when he heard gunshots. He said he lay on the ground with his mother and prayed until the gunfire stopped.
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The Lakewood church is the third largest in the United States, with a maximum capacity of 16,000 people, and regularly hosts 45,000 people each week, according to the Hartford Institute for Religion Research.
It is led by Osteen, one of the wealthiest and most popular prosperity gospel pastors and preachers in the United States, whose televised sermons reach about 100 countries.
“Our community is devastated by today’s events and grateful for the swift actions of law enforcement,” Osteen wrote in a statement on X. “May the healing hands of God touch the lives of everyone involved and bring comfort during this difficult time.
“In times like these, our faith is tested, but it is also strengthened. We don’t always understand why such things happen, but we know that God is in control.”