Police responding to reported shooting at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston
Harris County Sheriff’s Office and Houston Police Department are responding to an active shooting scene at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston.
Authorities in Texas are reportedly searching a home on Monday in the Houston area for clues as to why a shooter opened fire inside Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church on Sunday afternoon before being killed by off-duty police officers at the scene.
The property in Conroe, where investigators believe the shooter lived, is being looked over by members of the FBI, the Texas Rangers, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and the Conroe and Houston Police Departments, according to KPRC. The shooter has not been publicly identified.
News of the search comes as witnesses are opening up about the chaos that erupted at the Houston megachurch shortly before its 2 p.m. Spanish service was set to begin yesterday.
Christina Rodriguez, who was inside the church, told 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.
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Harris County Sheriffs officers stand outside the Lakewood Church on Sunday, Feb. 11, in Houston following the shooting. (Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle via Getty Images)
Longtime church member Alan Guity, whose family is from Honduras, told The Associated Press that he was resting inside the church’s sanctuary 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.”
The shooter entered the church with a long rifle, wearing a backpack and a trench coat and accompanied by a “small child, approximately 4 to 5 years old,” Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said.
After the shooter opened fire, off-duty officers at the scene “engaged” the shooter and returned fire. The shooter was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police said that two people were injured – a 57-year-old man and the child that the shooter came with, who remains in critical condition at a children’s hospital.
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Emergency vehicles line the feeder road outside Lakewood Church as police responded to the shooting Sunday afternoon. (Kirk Sides/Houston Chronicle via AP)
During a press conference, Osteen thanked law enforcement and said that he was “devastated” by the shooting.
“We don’t understand why all these things happened, but we know God’s in control,” Osteen said.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called the shooting “tragic.”
“Our hearts are with those impacted by today’s tragic shooting and the entire Lakewood Church community in Houston,” Abbott said. “Places of worship are sacred.”
Houston Police officers watch over displaced churchgoers outside Lakewood Church on Sunday following the shooting. (Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle via AP)
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The motive for the shooting remains unclear.
Fox News’ Andrea Vacchiano and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Greg Norman is a reporter at Fox News Digital.