Videos Show Exchange of Gunfire at Houston Megachurch

Videos Show Exchange of Gunfire at Houston Megachurch

Just before unleashing gunfire with an assault-style rifle within the foyer of a Houston megachurch earlier this month, Genesse Ivonne Moreno engaged in a poignant moment with her 7-year-old son. Surveillance and body-camera footage, released by the Houston Police Department on Monday, revealed the chilling sequence of events. Moreno, accompanied by her son, stepped out of her SUV and opened a rear passenger door, beckoning her child to follow her into the church.

Subsequently, amidst the deafening eruption of gunfire within the church, the footage captured the harrowing sight of the young boy standing in an alcove, his hands pressed tightly against his ears. At one instance, he reached up toward Moreno, seemingly seeking comfort amid the chaos. Tragically, he was later seen lying motionless on the carpeted hallway floor after sustaining a gunshot wound to the head.

While the videos offered a clearer glimpse into the events of the February 11 shooting at Lakewood Church, led by televangelist Joel Osteen, crucial details remained undisclosed. Notably, the footage did not capture the moment the boy was struck by gunfire, leaving uncertainties regarding the identity of the shooter. As of the release of the footage, the child remained hospitalized in critical condition.

Assistant Chief Keith Seafous of the Houston Police Department noted that there were lapses in the activation of body cameras by some officers during the incident. Despite this, the footage depicted several armed officers present within the hallway at the onset of the shooting, with off-duty law enforcement officers reportedly providing security to the church. Two of these officers, one from the Houston Police Department and another from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, ultimately discharged their firearms during the altercation.

The footage illustrated Moreno’s arrival at the church premises just before 2 p.m., as an English-language service concluded and a Spanish service commenced. Walking hand in hand with her son, Moreno proceeded into the building unhindered, concealing a rifle under a trench coat and another within a backpack. As she attempted to access the sanctuary, she was confronted by an off-duty Houston police officer working as church security, leading to an exchange of gunfire.

The intensity of the gunfire reverberated through the expansive hallway as Moreno and the officers exchanged shots. Despite warnings to disarm, Moreno, at one point, made assertions about a bomb in her possession, further escalating the tension. However, subsequent investigations revealed no evidence of an explosive device.

In the aftermath of the shooting, aside from the grievous injury to Moreno’s son, a bystander from the church sustained a gunshot wound to the hip. However, he was discharged from the hospital following treatment. Amidst the unfolding tragedy, questions lingered regarding Moreno’s motive for targeting the prominent megachurch. Her troubled history, including past encounters with law enforcement and mental health struggles, added layers of complexity to the disturbing incident. Nonetheless, amidst the chaos, the blame for the child’s critical injury was directed not towards the officers involved but towards state child welfare officials, as highlighted by the child’s paternal grandmother.