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‘Free Palestine’ Shooter At Joel Osteen’s Houston Megachurch Foiled By Good Guys With Guns

Without the intervention of off-duty officers, more of Lakewood’s tens of thousands of attendees could have fallen victim to a mass shooting.


Two armed, off-duty law enforcement officers stopped a woman toting a gun emblazoned with “Free Palestine” from shooting up televangelist Joel Osteen’s Houston megachurch on Sunday.

Thirty-six-year-old Genesse Ivonne Moreno, who also went by “Jeffrey Escalante,” entered Lakewood Church around 2 p.m. wearing a trench coat and backpack with a young boy and an AR-15, according to local reports. She immediately fired an estimated 12 shots.

An armed Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission officer and a Houston Police Department officer who served as campus security on the church’s busiest day quickly returned fire, an exchange captured on Lakewood’s afternoon Spanish service live stream.

Moreno was struck by the return fire and died on the scene. Both the child who accompanied Moreno and a 57-year-old bystander were also injured.

Before succumbing, Moreno doused the area around her with an unknown fluid and claimed to have an explosive, say police. Houston Police Chief Troy Finner confirmed that his bomb squad searched Moreno’s vehicle and person but did not find any incendiary devices.

It’s unclear exactly why Moreno targeted Lakewood. Harris County Judge Lina Hildalgo suggested in a statement posted to social media that the incident should be investigated as a “hate crime, given the shooting took place at an all-Spanish service.”

A “federal law enforcement source” reportedly told CNN that Moreno’s gun featured an anti-Israel statement, “Free Palestine.” That suggests the shooter could have targeted Lakewood for being a Christian organization that presumably supports the Jewish state.

Records show Moreno, was born in El Salvador, has a long criminal history including assault, forgery, theft, evading arrest, unlawful carry of a weapon, and more.

Quick On The Draw

It’s no secret that corporate media and Democrats use shootings to grab Americans’ guns. Seizing law-abiding citizens’ firearms, however, doesn’t stop evil people from using guns to commit crimes. It simply leaves grocery shoppers, movie theatergoers, and worshippers vulnerable if they ever encounter a shooter.

Proper use of a firearm in a threatening situation saves lives and limbs. The legal use of guns in self-defense situations like what happened at Lakewood on Sunday is estimated to thwart 2.5 million crimes a year.

Osteen noted that if the shooter, regardless of motive, had opened fire during the church’s 11 a.m. worship instead of “in between services” when security could easily locate the perpetrator, there would have been “a whole lot worse damage.” Finner commended the armed men for saving congregants from further harm and casualties because “they stepped up and they did their job.”

This isn’t the first time members of a Texas church have stopped shooters in their tracks. Retired reserve deputy sheriff and firearms instructor Jack Wilson, a 71-year-old volunteer for the West Freeway Church of Christ’s security team, shot and killed a man who opened fire during a worship service in 2019.

Without intervention from the off-duty officers, Lakewood, where tens of thousands attend numerous services, could have easily fallen victim to a mass shooting. The church’s foresight to organize a security team and not trample on worshippers’ constitutional right to carry, however, saved and will continue to save lives.

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