Barrage of gunfire as officers confront Houston megachurch shooter and released body cam footage shows

HOUSTON (AP) — Body camera footage released by Houston police on Monday showed off-duty police officers with weapons drawn as they confronted a woman who opened fire at celebrity pastor Joel Osteen’s Houston megachurch earlier this month before she was gunned down.

The footage also showed blurred images of the shooter’s young son, who was brought to the church by his mother, and was injured in the gunfire. Officers could be heard urgently asking for medical help for the boy.

Houston police released footage from two of its officers who were working security at Lakewood Church as well as video from a Harris County Sheriff’s Office deputy. It showed officers crouching with handguns out amid the sounds of repeated, loud gunshots.

Footage from one body camera showed people chatting before suddenly jolting at the sound of the first gunshot. Confused, some began running and then rapid gunfire ensued. Bystanders could be seen taking cover in rooms and hallways as officers ran toward the sound of shots being fired.

Police say Genesse Moreno, 36, entered the church on Feb. 11 between Sunday services with her 7-year-old son and began firing an AR-style rifle. Moreno did not reach the main sanctuary and was killed after exchanging gunfire with two off-duty officers. Two people were wounded in the shooting, including Moreno’s young son. He was shot in the head and remains hospitalized.

Security camera video from Lakewood, also released Monday by police, showed Moreno arriving at the church in a white SUV and taking her son, Samuel, out of the back seat and walking toward the building. The woman was wearing a black shirt, striped pants, boots, and a loose-fitting tan-colored trench coat.

In the video footage, gunshots could be heard ringing throughout the church building as officers closed in on the source of the shooting.

“Put the weapon down, now,” an officer can be heard shouting before firing his weapon. Another officer cautioned, “she may have a bomb.”

Additional security video from the church, which didn’t have sound, showed the boy covering his ears after his mother walked off screen. She then came near him and he reached his arms out to her. She then walked off screen again. The boy appeared to be in a recessed doorway.

In the footage, Moreno could be heard saying, “you killed my son.” She later said, “Stand down, I have a bomb. I have a (expletive) bomb.” Gunfire could be heard as she talked.

Images of the child, seen wearing orange pants and a yellow shirt, were blurred after he was wounded in the shooting. Paramedics were summoned by multiple officers, who requested help after seeing the young boy laying face-up on the carpeted hallway.

“We have a kid that’s down, about three bullets to his head” one officer reported over his radio.

Houston police have not said who fired the shots that wounded the boy.

Later, an officer reported over the radio, “Shooter is down. Looks like she’s got something strapped to her chest.” Another officer requested the bomb squad. Although a blue backpack could be seen near her side as she was down, authorities later said no explosives were found.

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said in a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the footage “may be unsettling to members of the community.”

“While we know there are unanswered questions, this is still an active investigation,” Finner said. “We will continue to work with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to thoroughly examine all aspects of this incident.”

Police have told reporters that investigators were still trying to determine Moreno’s motive and learn more about how she obtained the AR-style rifle she used.

In posts on Facebook from last week, Walli Carranza, the boy’s grandmother, said that her grandson, Samuel, was breathing well on his own after doctors had removed a breathing tube. Carranza said Samuel has had six surgeries.

“Will he be able to have any semblance of a normal life? I have no idea,” Carranza wrote in a post on Saturday.

On Sunday, Carranza said Samuel had looked up at her and smiled.


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