Lakewood Church Shooter Had AR-15 and a ‘Detonation Cord’

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The person who opened fire at a megachurch in downtown Houston on Sunday was a 36-year-old woman who carried an AR-15 and had a yellow rope that “appeared to be a detonation cord” for a bomb, according to a search warrant for her home in Montgomery County.

The document provided new details of the shooting that rattled Lakewood Church, which is led by the televangelist Joel Osteen and is one of the largest congregations in the United States. The shooting ended quickly after the woman was shot and killed by off-duty police officers who had been hired to provide security.

The warrant identified the woman as Genesse Ivonne Moreno, who lived in Conroe, Texas, north of Houston. A boy who authorities have said is 4 or 5 years old and arrived with Ms. Moreno was wounded during the shooting. He was in critical condition on Monday. A man in the church was also wounded.

It remained unclear what connection the boy had to Ms. Moreno or what connection she had to Lakewood Church, where sermons by Mr. Osteen attract huge national audiences online and on television.

A motive for the shooting is also unclear. A reference to “Palestine” was handwritten on the rifle used in the attack, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation.

Before she was shot and killed by the off-duty officers, the shooter stated that she had a bomb, according to the warrant. The officers said she was carrying a yellow cord that “appeared to be a detonation cord” that was “consistent with the manufacture of explosive devices.” The officers opened fire after she pointed her weapon at them, according to the warrant.

The police searched the shooter’s one-story home in Conroe on Sunday night, according to a person familiar with the search. They were looking for firearms, computers and cellphones as well as materials used to make explosives or a “hoax bomb,” according to the warrant.

Officials said during a news conference on Sunday that despite her statements and the fact that she sprayed some sort of substance on the ground, the shooter did not have any explosives inside the church.

“She had a long gun and it could have been a lot worse,” said Chief Troy Finner of the Houston Police Department. According to the warrant, the woman shot one man, wounding him, but Chief Finner said the man did not “have anything to do with it.” It was not clear from the document whether the boy was shot by the woman, or by the off-duty officers as they confronted her.

The department planned to hold another news conference Monday afternoon.

A representative for the church, Don Iloff, said he did not believe the shooter was known to members and leadership of the church.

At a news conference after the shooting, a beaming Mr. Osteen said he intended to continue his mission of providing hope.

“We don’t understand why these things happen but we know God’s in control,” said Mr. Osteen, who tends to avoid wading into politics. “There are forces of evil but the forces that are for us, the forces of God are stronger than that.”

The shooting took place around 1:53 p.m. on Sunday, after an English-language service had ended and as a Spanish-language service was beginning. The church occupies a stadium-size building along a major highway that was the former home of the Houston Rockets basketball team. Services draw tens of thousands in-person, and many more watch online and on television.

The attacker drove to the church in a white car and entered the building wearing a trench coat and a backpack, Chief Finner said on Sunday. “Once she entered, at some point, she began to fire,” he said.

The two off-duty law enforcement officers who intervened included an officer from the Houston Police Department and an agent from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. Chief Finner said both were providing private security at the church.

Glenn Thrush and Victor Mather contributed reporting. Alain Delaquérière contributed research.



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