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Man and child injured, armed suspect killed at Lakewood church shooting in Texas | Texas

A woman with a rifle was killed and a child seriously injured by two off-duty police officers Sunday at a megachurch run by prominent evangelical Christian pastor Joel Osteen in Houston, Texas. The police chief announced.

Troy Finner questioned whether the 5-year-old boy was shot in response by officers after a woman wearing a trench coat entered Lakewood Church in Osteen with the boy and began shooting shortly before 2 p.m. said it was unclear.

A 57-year-old man was also shot and injured, the police chief said. The child was in critical condition at a children’s hospital, while the man was in stable condition at another hospital with a wound to his hip.

of houston channel3now.com Reports said the woman entered the church claiming to have a bomb, but Finner later said a search of her car and backpack found no explosives.

Channel 3 Now reported that the second adult, a man, carrying a rifle was later seen evading authorities near a restaurant near the church.

Finner said two off-duty officers “engaged” the woman after she began firing, resulting in her death. He said unfortunately “a 5-year-old was hit,” but did not provide immediate details about how the conflict unfolded.

He praised the officers who quickly confronted the woman, adding: “She had a long gun and it could have been a lot worse.”

The shooting occurred during a church service at the third-largest megachurch in the United States, according to the Hartford Institute of Religion. Osteen’s televised sermons have reached approximately 100 countries.

It was not clear where Osteen was at the time. He joined police at a subsequent press conference and said the church was “in a state of destruction,” adding that the shooting could have been even worse if it had occurred during the mass 11 a.m. service. Ta. He prayed for the victims and the woman who did the shooting and her family.

“We’re going to continue to get stronger and continue to move forward,” Osteen said. “The power of evil exists, but the power for us, the power of God, is greater.”

A Twitter/X post from Lakewood Church initially said there was an “active situation involving gunfire” at the venue, which seats about 17,000 worshipers.

Local Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, 2:10 p.m. Said His office had received reports of possible shots fired in or around the church. Deputies from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, who provide special security at the church, were also there, Gonzalez said.

After about 15 minutes, Gonzalez posted an update He said the gunman was believed to have been shot by one of the deputies in the office.

Witnesses told reporters they heard multiple gunshots fired as a 2 p.m. Spanish-language service was scheduled to begin at the church.

One witness told Houston: ABC13 News Station She said she was in the choir room when she heard gunshots. “The whole church began praying and proclaiming the name of Jesus,” she said. “I thought, ‘This may be the last time I pray to glorify the name of Jesus, so let’s do this.'”

“I started screaming, ‘There’s a gunman, there’s a gunman,'” Christina Rodriguez, who was inside the church, told Houston television station KTRK. She and the others fled to the back of the building’s library and stood on the stairs before leaving until they were told it was safe.

Alan Guity, a longtime church member whose family is from Honduras and whose mother works as an usher, was resting in the church sanctuary before the 2 p.m. service when he heard gunshots.

“Boom, boom, boom, boom, and I screamed, ‘Mommy,'” he said.

The 35-year-old man ran to his mother and they both lay on the floor praying as gunshots continued. They remained there for about five minutes until someone told them it was safe to evacuate. Guiti said she prayed outside with her mother and tried to calm people down by singing in Spanish: Please touch my heart and mind. Move within me, Holy Spirit. ”

Guiti was one of many worshipers waiting to return to their cars Sunday night as police continued to search the building.

A video that appears to have broadcast the service, which captures the sound of gunfire and the show’s host’s stunned reaction, has been widely shared on social media.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a statement: [affected] Today’s tragic mass shooting and the entire Lakewood Church community in Houston. Places of worship are sacred. ”

Lakewood Church in Osteen is located in a complex that once hosted games for the Houston Rockets professional basketball team.of building Formerly known as Summit and then Compaq Center.

In total, approximately 45,000 people attend Lakewood’s various services each week.

The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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