Although a sticker with the word “Palestine” was reportedly affixed to the AR-15 rifle used by a woman in a Texas shooting on Sunday at one of the country’s largest churches, the assailant’s motives so far remain a “mystery,” according to news reports.
Two off-duty police officers shot and killed Genesse Ivonne Moreno, 36, according to a copy of the search warrant obtained by the Houston Chronicle. She reportedly possessed a second gun. At this time, she is considered to have acted alone.
Lakewood Church in Houston, which has a capacity of 16,000, broadcasts its services to 200 million homes stateside and in six countries, per its website. Its longtime pastor, Joel Osteen, is also a best-selling author, and the church is the former arena of the Houston Rockets, a professional basketball team.
“Our community is devastated by today’s events and grateful for the swift actions of law enforcement,” the church posted on its website. “May the healing hands of God touch the lives of everyone involved and provide comfort during this difficult time.”
“In the face of such darkness, we must hold onto our faith and remember evil will not prevail,” Lakewood added. “In times like these, our faith is tested, but it is also strengthened. We don’t always understand why things like this happen, but we know that God is in control.”
A young boy between the ages of 5 and 7, who reportedly entered the church with Moreno, remains in critical condition after being struck by a bullet. A 57-year-old man, who was shot in the hip, is in stable condition, the Associated Press reported.
The shooting took place as a Spanish-language service was about to begin at the church. It is reportedly being considered as a hate crime.
Fox News reported that the shooter “has a lengthy criminal record and was born as a man—Jeffrey Escalante—from El Salvador.”
“A search warrant said Moreno pointed an AR-15 at the officers who then fired upon her and killed her in self-defense,” it added.