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National News

‘Free Palestine’ written on gun in shooting at Lakewood Church, but motive a mystery: Sources

todayFebruary 12, 2024

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(NEW YORK) — “Free Palestine” was written on the gun belonging to a woman who opened fire at celebrity pastor Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation.

However, a motive behind the Sunday afternoon shooting has not been determined. Sources said investigators are feverishly going through the social media and writings belonging to the suspect, described as a woman between 30 and 35 years old.

Detectives believe the suspect fired as many as 12 shots, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation.

When the shooter entered the church, she was accompanied by a child aged 4 or 5, Houston police chief Troy Finner said.

The suspect opened fire with a long rifle, and two off-duty officers fired back, striking and killing her, Finner said.

The child was also shot and has been hospitalized in critical condition, Finner said. It’s not clear who shot the child or the relationship between the child and shooter, police said.

A man believed to be a parishioner was also shot in the leg, Finner said.

The suspect allegedly threatened that she had a bomb, police said. Officials searched her car and backpack but nothing was found. She also appeared to be spraying an unknown substance, authorities said.

Investigators are also actively reviewing a history of arrests, they believe, the shooter has on her record, a law enforcement official said.

The shooting unfolded shortly before the church’s 2 p.m. Spanish language service was set to begin.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said in a statement, “I will not make any assumptions because information continues to come in as to what motivated the shooter, but I am asking that the investigation look into whether it was a hate crime, given the shooting took place at an all-Spanish service.”

“We all stand with the Lakewood congregation as they recover from this terrifying day and with the young child and adult who are known to have been hurt in the shooting,” Hidalgo added.

“Our community is devastated by today’s events and grateful for the swift actions of law enforcement,” Osteen wrote on social media. “Please join me in continued prayer for healing and peace.”

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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Written by: ABC News

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