By Juan A. Lozano, The Associated Press on February 11, 2024.
HOUSTON (AP) – A Texas sheriff said Sunday that a shooter was down after a shooting at the Houston megachurch of celebrity pastor Joel Osteen on Sunday afternoon.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez did not immediately provide more details in his post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. Lakewood Church had earlier posted on social media there was an “active situation involving shots fired” at one of the largest megachurches in the U.S during its typically busy Sunday services.
A news conference was scheduled for later Sunday by police and other law enforcement agencies.
Worshippers could be seen leaving the building as authorities evacuated the church, and authorities said they were continuing to methodically search the building as a precaution. About 45,000 people attend weekly services at Lakewood.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below
A heavy presence of police surrounded the Houston megachurch of celebrity pastor Joel Osteen on Sunday after shots were fired, and worshippers could be seen streaming outside the building during a busy day of weekend services.
Lakewood Church posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that there was an “active situation involving shots fired” at the church. Harris County Sheriff posted on the platform that the “shooter is down” but did not provide further details.
Witnesses told reporters that they heard multiple gunshots about the time the church’s 2 p.m. Spanish language service was set to begin.
Christina Rodriguez, who was inside the church, told Houston television station KTRK that she “started screaming, “˜There’s a shooter, there’s a shooter,'” and then she and others ran to the backside of a library inside the building, then stood in a stairway before they were told it was safe to leave.
A news conference was scheduled by police for Sunday afternoon.
People stood outside the building as authorities evacuated the church. Officials later announced a reunification center had been set up at a nearby gym for people to find their loved ones.
About 45,000 people attend weekly services at Lakewood, making it the third largest megachurch in the U.S., according to the Hartford Institute for Religion Research. Osteen’s televised sermons reach about 100 countries.