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Houston, Texas – A shooting incident occurred at a megachurch in Houston on Sunday, February 11, 2024, leaving two people injured, including a 7-year-old child. The suspected shooter, identified as 36-year-old Genesse Ivonne Moreno, entered the church wearing a trench coat and backpack and armed with a long rifle. However, quick action from two off-duty officers, one from the Houston Police Department and the other from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, prevented further casualties at Joel Osteen’s  Lakewood Church located at 3700 Southwest Fwy, Houston, TX 77027.

Woman Opens Fire at Houston Megachurch

The shooting took place between services at the megachurch, which is known to attract around 45,000 attendees each week, making it the third-largest megachurch in the United States. According to Houston Police Chief Troy Finner, the violence could have been much worse if it had occurred during the larger 11 a.m. service. Witnesses reported hearing multiple gunshots, causing panic and chaos inside the church.

Brave Officers Confront the Church Shooter

The off-duty officers, who were present at the scene, bravely confronted the shooter and returned fire. They “held their ground in the face of rifle fire at point-blank range,” according to Kevin Lilly, chairman of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. Both officers have been placed on protocol-mandated administrative duty following the incident.

Before being shot and killed by the officers, the suspect claimed to have a bomb and was carrying materials consistent with the manufacture of explosive devices. However, authorities confirmed that no explosives or hazardous materials were found at the scene. A search warrant affidavit revealed that the suspect had a yellow rope and substances resembling a detonation cord. Houston Police Chief Troy Finner highlighted that the suspect’s actions put her 7-year-old son in danger. The child, who was with the suspect at the time of the incident, sustained a gunshot wound to the head and is currently in critical condition at a Houston children’s hospital.

Congregation Devastated After Church Shooting

The Lakewood Church community, led by pastor Joel Osteen, expressed deep shock and devastation following the shooting. Osteen assured his congregation that they would stay strong and continue to move forward. He emphasized the need to uplift people’s spirits and provide hope in the face of adversity.

Suspected Shooter Has History of Mental Illness and Disturbing Behavior

Authorities have revealed that Moreno had a history of mental illness, including being placed under emergency detention in 2016, but provided no further details.

According to ABC13, the Conroe Police Department had been called to Moreno’s address a staggering 20 times over the past five years, following complaints about her erratic behavior and alleged threats. However, neighbors claim that the police did not go beyond responding to these incidents and did not take any further action. One neighbor recounted an incident where Moreno tried to hit her with a car, while in a separate incident in 2022, Moreno reportedly pulled a gun on another neighbor. The calls made against Moreno included reports of her brandishing firearms and making offensive gestures. Despite these incidents, police found no evidence of a crime and did not intervene.

Houston Police Commander Chris Hassig revealed that Moreno sometimes used both male and female aliases, but investigators have determined that Moreno identified as female based on interviews and past police reports. Authorities are investigating a dispute involving Moreno and the family of Moreno’s ex-husband, which may have played a role in the shooting.

Investigation Underway to Determine Motive

Investigators are looking into a dispute involving Moreno and the family of her ex-husband. Moreno legally purchased the AR-15 style rifle used in the incident in December. Officials also discovered antisemitic writings by the shooter and noted a “Palestine” sticker on the rifle’s buttstock. Houston Police Commander Chris Hassig described Moreno as a “lone wolf” who was not acting as part of a larger group.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott expressed condolences to the victims and the Lakewood Church community, emphasizing the sanctity of places of worship.

Authorities are continuing their investigation into the incident to determine the full circumstances and motive behind the shooting at the Houston megachurch.

Seeking Justice and Compensation: Exploring Civil Cases After a Church Shooting

In the aftermath of a tragic shooting at a church, victims and their families often face immense physical, emotional, and financial hardships. While criminal justice serves to hold the perpetrator accountable, pursuing a civil case against liable parties can provide an avenue for seeking justice and compensation for those injured during the incident. In this exclusive interview, attorney Laurence Banville engages in a conversation with Marc Lenahan, an experienced Texas violent crimes attorney, to explore the legal options available to victims and their families in civil cases following a church shooting. Discover valuable insights into establishing liability, gathering evidence, and pursuing compensation in the wake of such devastating incidents.

Laurence Banville (LB): Thank you for joining us, Marc. In situations like this, what legal options do victims and their families have in pursuing a civil case?

Marc Lenahan, Esq. (ML): It’s a difficult time for the victims and their families, but pursuing a civil case can provide them with a means to seek justice and compensation. They may have grounds for a lawsuit against various parties, including the shooter, any organizations responsible for security, or entities that may have contributed to the incident.

LB: What factors would determine the liability of these parties?

ML: Liability can depend on several factors. For instance, if the church or organization failed to implement adequate security measures or failed to respond appropriately to previous threats or warning signs, they may be held partially responsible. Additionally, if it can be proven that the shooter obtained the firearm illegally or if there was negligence on the part of a gun store or seller, they could also be liable.

LB: How can victims and their families prove liability in a civil case?

ML: Establishing liability requires careful investigation and gathering evidence. This can involve reviewing security footage, interviewing witnesses, and consulting with experts who can assess the adequacy of security measures. It’s crucial to work with an experienced attorney who can guide victims and their families through the legal process and build a strong case.

LB: What types of compensation can victims and their families pursue in a civil case?

ML: Depending on the circumstances, victims may seek compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of income, and other damages resulting from the incident. Additionally, the families of those who lost their lives may pursue wrongful death claims to seek compensation for their loss.

LB: How long do victims and their families have to file a civil case?

ML: The timeframe for filing a civil case, known as the statute of limitations, varies from state to state. In Texas, for example, victims generally have two years from the date of the incident to file a personal injury claim. However, it’s crucial to consult with an attorney promptly to ensure compliance with the relevant deadlines.

LB: Thank you, Marc, for sharing your insights on this important matter.

Free Consultations for Tragic Church Shootings

If you or your loved ones have been affected by a church shooting and are considering pursuing a civil case, we encourage you to reach out to us for a free consultation. Our experienced team is here to provide compassionate support, guide you through the legal process, and fight for the justice and compensation you deserve. Remember, you don’t have to face this difficult journey alone – contact us today to discuss your case and take the first step towards healing and recovery.

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