A Texas woman who opened fire at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church was accused of being a schizophrenic with Munchausen-by-proxy – but was still able to legally purchase the AR-15 she used to unleash horror on Sunday.
Gunwoman Genesse Ivonne Moreno, 36, had a lengthy criminal record going back to 2005, including charges of assault, weapons, marijuana possession and forgery charges. She also had a history of mental illness and was held in an emergency detention order in 2016, police said Monday.
They also revealed they found anti-Semitic writings and that Moreno appeared to have issues with Jewish relatives
‘We do believe that there was a familial dispute that has taken place between her ex-husband and her ex-husband’s family, some of whom are Jewish,’ police said in a press conference.
Moreno used several identities under both genders and it’s unclear what gender she identified as. However, police said on Monday she is believed to be the biological mother of the seven-year-old she brought into the church with her.
The shooter has been identified as Genesse Ivonne Moreno, 36, who previously used the name Jeffrey and has a lengthy criminal record going back to 2005. She is seen in 2022
Moreno was previously arrested for assault, weapons, marijuana possession and forgery charges
Seen in 2000
The gunwoman’s mom reportedly attended the Houston megachurch and its staff may have been questioned about the shooter during her contentious divorce battle, according to documents seen by KHOU11.
Court records from 2022 show that Moreno’s ex-mother-in-law Walli Carranza accused her and her mother of keeping the child away from his father Enrique Carranza, who is currently in jail in Florida for failing to register as a sex offender.
Carranza claimed Moreno had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and Munchausen by proxy – and that she was investigated by Child Protected Services four times and found to have harmed the child twice.
However, the mother-in-law did not show up to court, and a judge made Moreno the managing conservator of the boy, now fighting for his life after being shot in the head in the gunfight.
Despite the sordid history, Texas officials revealed on Monday that Moreno was able to legally purchase the assault rifle in December.
Police were seen outside Moreno’s home in Conroe, Texas, after the shooting
A harrowing video shows the moment worshippers at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church ran for cover as shots rang out in the Texas congregation
Moreno entered the megachurch with the seven-year-old boy just before a Spanish-language service was set to begin. She was wearing a trench coat and backpack, and carrying a yellow rope that ‘appeared to be a detonation cord.’
She sprayed ‘some type of substance on the ground’ and started firing before two off-duty cops who were working at the megachurch shot her dead, police said.
The child was also critically injured, and is not expected to survive the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office told the Houston Chronicle. Police said on Monday they believe she is the biological mother of the child, who was shot in the head.
A 57-year-old bystander was shot in the leg during gunfire exchange but is expected to recover.
Images from the scene of the shooting show the chaotic moment terrified congregants run to safety after hearing several shots fired.
Police Chief Troy Finner said it was not clear whether the young child was struck by the officers – a 28-year-old Houston police officer and a 38-year-old agent with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission – who returned fire.
Houston police and the FBI were seen searching a home in Conroe -about 50 minutes north of Lakewood Church – believed to be connected to the shooting on Sunday night.
Chief Finner said after the woman began shooting, both officers ‘engaged’ her and the woman was killed.
Moreno allegedly claimed she had a bomb, but officials did not find anything in her backback or car.
A woman in a trench coat entered the Houston megachurch of celebrity pastor Joel Osteen and started shooting Sunday afternoon and was killed by two off-duty officers working security, police said
Osteen said the shooting could have been much worse if it had happened during the larger 11am service
He praised the officers for quickly confronting the woman, adding, ‘She had a long gun, and it could have been a lot worse.’
The shooting happened between services at the megachurch that is regularly attended by 45,000 people every week, making it the third largest megachurch in the U.S., according to the Hartford Institute for Religion Research. Osteen´s televised sermons reach about 100 countries.
It was not clear where Osteen was at the time but he joined police at a news conference afterward and said the church is ‘devastated.’
But he added that the shooting could have been much worse if it had happened during the larger 11am service.
He added he would pray for the victims and for the woman who did the shooting and their families.
‘We´re going to stay strong and we´re going to continue to, to move forward,’ Osteen said after authorities spoke.
‘There are forces of evil, but the forces that are for us — the forces of God — are stronger than that. So we´re going to keep going strong and just, you know, doing what God´s called us to do: lift people up and give hope to the world.’
Witnesses told reporters that they heard multiple gunshots shortly before the church’s 2 p.m. Spanish language service was set to begin.
Carlos Gonzalez, a worship singer, hugs a fellow churchgoer after the shooting
The shooter entered the Houston church with a 5-year-old boy shortly before 2 p.m. and the child was shot and critically injured
The Harris County Sheriff’s Office said officers responded to a possible shooting at the Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas , shortly after 2pm
Members of the Houston Police Bomb Squad respond to a shooting at Lakewood Church
Christina Rodriguez, who was inside the church, told Houston television station KTRK that she ‘started screaming, `There´s a shooter, there´s a shooter,´’ and then she and others ran to the backside of a library inside the building, then stood in a stairway before they were told it was safe to leave.
People stood outside the building as authorities evacuated the church.
Officials later announced a reunification center had been set up for people to find their loved ones, at a nearby fitness center.
Witness Paula Laverde said: ‘So there was one shot first and then there was a set of shots and then we started running and then there were multiple sets of shots, I can’t really count them, it was at least five times that they shot multiple times.’
Longtime church member Alan Guity, whose family is from Honduras, said he was resting inside the church´s sanctuary before the 2pm service as his mother was working as an usher when he heard gunshots.
‘Boom, boom, boom, boom and I yelled, `Mom,´’ he said.
The 35-year-old ran to his mother and they both laid flat on the floor and prayed as the gunfire continued. They remained there for about five minutes until someone told them it was safe to evacuate.
Outside, Guity said, he and his mother tried to calm people down by worshiping and singing in Spanish, ‘Move in me, move in me. Touch my mind and my heart. Move within me Holy Spirit.’
Houston Police officers watch over displaced churchgoers outside Lakewood Church,
Worshippers could be seen leaving the building as authorities evacuated the church before the news conference
Officials announced a reunification center had been set up at a nearby gym for people to find their loved ones
At least 20 police and fire trucks were near one of the church´s entrances Sunday afternoon, including the fire department´s hazardous materials truck
Guity was among the many congregation members who waited Sunday evening to be allowed to return to their vehicles as police continued to search the building. The church is located in what used to be an arena where the NBA’s Houston Rockets used to play years ago.
The church said in a statement: ‘There is an active situation involving shots fired at Lakewood. Law enforcement is on the scene. That is all the information we have at this time. Please pray for Lakewood and our community.’
One witness said he heard around 30 gunshots as he ran out of the church with his daughters.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said ‘our hearts are with those impacted by today´s tragic shooting and the entire Lakewood Church community in Houston. Places of worship are sacred.’