Texas Megachurch Shooter Had 'Free Palestine' Inscribed on Rifle

Law enforcement surround the area after a shooting incident at television evangelist Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, U.S. Feb. 11, 2024. REUTERS/Callaghan O’Hare
February 12, 2024

The perpetrator of a Sunday shooting at a Texas megachurch had "Free Palestine" written on her rifle, according to Monday reports.

A woman who entered Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church in Houston with an AR-15 and began firing had "Free Palestine" inscribed on the gun, CNN reported, citing a federal law enforcement source. Investigators have yet to determine whether she was politically motivated or disturbed.

With a young child accompanying her, the shooter entered the church, a converted Houston Rockets basketball arena, wearing a trench coat and backpack, Police Chief Troy Finner said. Staff were preparing for a Spanish service when the shooting took place, according to Osteen.

After the woman opened fire, two off-duty law enforcement officers intervened and shot her, killing her, said the police chief. The child with the woman received a gunshot wound from an unspecified party and is in critical condition, and a man at the church was hit in the leg, leading him to seek treatment at a hospital near the church.

Sunday's shooting comes as anti-Semitic incidents have risen amid Israel's war on Hamas in Gaza. Police in November arrested a Cornell University student who allegedly threatened to kill Jewish students at the school in a mass shooting. Days later, Indianapolis police arrested a woman they described as a "terrorist," who allegedly crashed her car into a building she thought was a Jewish school. The structure actually belonged to the Israelite School of Universal and Practical Knowledge, which the Anti-Defamation League has condemned as an anti-Semitic hate group.