SITREP: Lakewood Church Shooting

BREAK DOWN

  • Date: February 11, 2024
  • Location: Lakewood Church, Houston, Texas
  • Fatalities: 1 (Gunman)
  • Injured: 2, including a child
  • Suspect: Genesse “Jefferey” Moreno, 36
  • Suspect Status: Deceased
  • Motive: Unconfirmed at this time

 

EVENTS

According to Houston Police, at approximately 1353 CST, the suspect pulled up to the Lakewood Church on the West side of the building. She then got out of her vehicle and retrieved a 7 year old child, identified as her biological son, and a large bag from back seat.  The suspect then entered the building after “confronting” an unarmed security guard at the door. According to authorities, the exchange with the guard took approximately a minute, where the suspect potentially pulled out a rifle and threatened the guard with it to gain access to the building.

At some point, the suspect claimed to have had an explosive device and was seen spraying an unknown substance outside of the church. Houston police would later confirm that no explosives were recovered at the scene and that the substance was “benign” and posed no exposure risks.

At approximately 1355 CST, the suspect began firing multiple rounds inside one of a hallway in the West side of building. At this time, off duty Houston Police officer Christopher Moreno and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agent Adrian Herrera, both of which were working as armed security for the church, began to exchange fire with the suspect, who had the child by her side, in the hallway. After several minutes of exchanging gunfire, the suspect was shot and killed. Likewise, the child was critically wounded by a gunshot wound to the head and is “fighting for his life.” Houston Police did not have further confirmation as to who shot the child. At some point in the exchange of fire, a 57 year old church goer was also wounded in the leg, but has since been released from the hospital.

At approximately 1407 CST, the suspect pronounced dead by Houston Fire Department.

The incident lasted roughly 12 minutes.

 

SUSPECT AND MOTIVE

Houston Police reported that the suspect was identified as Genesse Moreno by her drivers license at the scene. It was also acknowledged by Houston Police that Moreno, who is originally from El Salvador, also used the alias “Jeffery Escalante,” however, they stated that “through investigation up until this point, she has been identified as a female.”

Two weapons were recovered on scene: An Anderson Manufacturing AR-15 with a “Palestine” sticker on the stock and an unspecified Blue Line Solutions 22 caliber rifle.

Authorities also reported that “antisemitic writings” were uncovered at the scene, which potentially stemmed from an ongoing familial dispute with her ex-husband and his family, who are Jewish. The contents of the writings have not been made public.

As for a motive, Houston Police stated that it is “way too early” to establish one. Up until now, authorities have not found any links between the suspect and the church, nor a reason to target it specifically. Moreno is believed to have acted alone.

Moreno was previously know not authorities for mental health issues. Houston Police confirmed that she had been put under an emergency detention order by in 2016 for mental illness. Additionally records from the Texas Department of Public Safety show that Moreno also had prior criminal offenses over the last two decades, including possession of marijuana, assault, illegal possession of a weapon, resisting arrest and a forgery. When asked how she was able to obtain firearms with a weapons charge and mental health history, the FBI said it is still under investigation.

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