Woman killed after opening fire at Joel Osteen’s church in US

Two off-duty law enforcement officers in Houston took down a woman who opened fire on Sunday at Lakewood Church, one of the largest evangelical churches in the U.S. led by televangelist Joel Osteen. 

According to Houston Police Chief, Tory Finner, a woman in her early 30s entered the mega church, shortly before 2:00 pm local time, armed with a long rifle and accompanied by a child around 5 years old, and began firing. 

Two off-duty officers, one a Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agent and the other a Houston police officer, killed the shooter before she could kill anyone inside the church, which was preparing to host a Spanish-language service, Finner said.

Two people were injured, including the child who was with the shooter, Finner said. Officials said they were working to understand the child’s relation to the shooter and the shooter’s motive. 

Finner said he was not sure yet who shot the child in the crossfire, Reuters reports. 

The child was taken to Texas Children’s Hospital and was in critical condition, officials said. 

A man in his fifties sustained a non-critical leg injury and was also being treated at a local hospital.

“She had a long gun, and it could have been a lot worse,” Finner said.

The woman had threatened that she had a bomb, prompting authorities to search her backpack and vehicle, Finner said. They found no explosives.

“Our hearts are with those impacted by today’s tragic shooting and the entire Lakewood Church community in Houston,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a statement.

Lakewood Church, which seats some 16,000 people, is led by Osteen and his wife and co-pastor Victoria Osteen.

Joel Osteen is one of the wealthiest and most popular pastors and prosperity gospel preachers in the United States.

According to the church’s website, Osteen’s media broadcasts, podcasts and radio programming reach millions of U.S. households and audiences worldwide.

“We don’t understand why these things happen, but God’s in control,” Osteen told reporters on Sunday. “We’re going to stay strong. We’re going to continue to move forward.”

The Houston church, located in the former sports arena for the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association, accommodates over 40,000 worshipers over a weekend.