A woman was killed in Texas’ Houston on Sunday after opening fire at a megachurch run by prominent evangelical Christian pastor Joel Osteen, the city’s police chief said. The incident happened on a day the majority of the US brimmed with anticipation for Super Bowl LVIII.
According to the police, a woman — in her early 30s and wearing a long trench coat, holding a long rifle and a backpack — entered the church, accompanied by a boy, believed to be about five years old, and started shooting.
Two persons were shot during the firing. Among them, a child aged about five is in critical condition while a 57-year-old man shot in the hip is stable, said the city police chief Troy Finnerl.
In a post on X late in the afternoon, Lakewood Church said there was an active shooter situation that included shots being fired and law enforcement arriving on the scene.
Two off-duty law enforcement officers, who were at the church when the shots were fired at 1.50 pm, responded her with their gunfires. In the shooting the woman was killed.
However, the woman’s identity has not yet been revealed.
If law enforcement gunfire is responsible for striking the child, Finner said “I’m going to put that blame on her” for putting the boy in danger.
At the press conference, Osteen said he would pray for both the victims and the shooter, saying he was grateful the shooting happened between services when fewer people were in the building.
The police believe the shooting was an isolated incident and there is no further danger to the public.
Attacker claims she had a bomb
The woman threatened that she had a bomb and sprayed an unknown substance as first responders arrived, the police chief said.
It is still not clear what the substance was, as fire department personnel arrived to investigate and clear the scene, he added.
The police checked a vehicle and backpack for possible explosives but none have been reported.
Houston Mayor John Whitmire lamented that the violence took place while people were preparing to practise their faith and others looked forward to the Super Bowl encounter between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs.
“We find ourselves gathered here to respond to this tragedy,” he said.
In a statement, Governor Greg Abbott said he offered “full support and resources of the State of Texas” to Whitmire “to help this community and help bring swift justice to the criminal who committed this crime”.
(With PTI inputs)