On Sunday, 36-year-old Genessee Ivonne Moreno entered pastor Joel Osteen's megachurch in Houston, Texas, with a young boy and opened fire on congregants with an AR-15 with the words "Free Palestine" etched into the weapon. Moreno was able to get off a dozen shots, injuring a 57-year-old man, before being shot and killed by off-duty police officers. "Free Palestine" is often used by anti-Israel activists who want to see the elimination of Israel.
Moreno, originally hailing from El Salvador, had a long criminal history, including assaulting a police officer in 2009 and forgery in 2010. Moreno was born a biological man with the name Jeffrey Escalante and was seen wearing a trench coat and a backpack when he entered the church. He entered the building just before the 2 PM all-Spanish service with a five-year-old boy who was injured and is currently in critical condition at a local hospital. The child is not expected to survive, as reported by Fox News.
"I don't want to talk about her motivations because I don't know. Right?" Houston police chief Troy Finner explained following the shooting. "We may never know the full story. But the important message is we're going to stand together as a city. We're going to stand with this church today and the pastor to make sure that healing begins immediately."
The Houston Police Department, the Texas Rangers, the FBI, and other local authorities executed a search warrant for Moreno's property just north of Houston in the city of Conroe. Upon examining Moreno's social media history, he seemed to favor various left-wing causes, including supporting Bernie Sanders' presidential run in 2020.
Pastor Joel Osteen responded to the shooting at his Houston church, telling reporters that he was glad that the shooting took place between the 11 AM service and the 2 PM service. "I can only imagine if it would have happened during the 11 o'clock service," he said. "We don't understand why all these things happened, but we know God's in control."
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