Thursday, February 22, 2024
HomeWorldAt Least 1 Shot at Houston Church Led by Joel Osteen

At Least 1 Shot at Houston Church Led by Joel Osteen

The Houston Police Department was responding on Sunday afternoon to reports of a shooting at a Christian megachurch in Houston that is led by the televangelist and pastor Joel Osteen, it said on social media.

The details were unclear, but at least one person, a child, appeared to have been shot, Constable Alan Rosen of Harris County said on X.

The shooter is believed to have been shot by law enforcement, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez of Harris County said on social media. “We continue to assist in a methodical/thorough search of the complex,” Sheriff Gonzalez said.

Just before 3 p.m., the church, which is among the largest congregations in the United States and attended each Sunday by thousands of people, described the episode as “an active situation involving shots fired.”

The shooting took place as the Spanish language service was beginning. Videos posted to the church’s social media appeared to show congregants standing and cheering earlier Sunday as a band played onstage. Another showed Mr. Osteen, whose weekly televised services reach millions of viewers, standing on the stage.

Neither he nor the church could not be immediately reached on Sunday.

Del Davis, 71, and his wife, Denise, were inside the church building, making their way out as Mr. Davis said he heard gunfire erupt. An avid gun collector and retired paramedic, he said he could tell immediately they were shots.

“I know gunshots when I hear them,” he said. “And I could smell the gun smoke.” He said he and his wife, who are volunteers at the church, fled as the crowds were scattering. “It’s always full,” he said of the services at the church.

Another eyewitness told the television station KHOU that she was inside the church when she heard several shots fired and saw a man who appeared to be in his 20s or 30s holding a pistol. She said she ran into a smaller room where she sheltered with about 10 other people, including a child.

“We were thankful,” the woman told KHOU. “It could have been worse.”

One TikTok livestream showed throngs of evacuated families and churchgoers milling about a grassy courtyard near the church. A collective chatter, mostly in Spanish, filled the air, pierced at times by the cries of restless young children. At one point, a group of women could be heard singing religious hymns.

Governor Greg Abbott of Texas said in a statement on Sunday that he had offered state resources to assist the community and to “help bring swift justice to the criminal who committed this heinous act.”

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