Lakewood Church shooting update: Suspect’s neighbours share concerns as seven-year-old victim fights for life

Lakewood church shooter used rifle with ‘Palestine’ sticker, police say

Neighbours recalled the red flags they noticed about Genesse Moreno, the 36-year-old woman who opened fire inside Joel Osteen’s megachurch in Houston, Texas on Sunday.

Moreno, who has a lengthy criminal record and has gone by several male aliases, allegedly carried out the shooting using an AR-15 with the word “Palestine” across it, police said.

Several neighbors said Moreno harassed and threatened them for four years, with one claiming she had scrawled swastikas on her property and taunted her and her grandchildren many times.

Police said Moreno went into the Lakewood Church armed with the rifle and dressed in a trench coat and backpack. She had her 7-year-old son with her.

After she began shooting, two off-duty officers returned fire and she was pronounced deceased at the scene.

The child got caught in the exchange of gunfire and was struck in the head. He is in critical condition.

A 57-year-old man was also shot in the leg. He has been released from the hospital, police said.

Lakewood Church is one of the largest Christian churches in the US. Joel Osteen, its lead pastor, is one of the US’s most notable religious leaders.


Video shows Moreno loading her car before the attack

New videos obtained by ABC 13 show Genesse Moreno apparently preparing to commit the Lakewood Church shooting just hours before the violence began.

The videos, taken from a neighbour’s home CCTV camera in Conroe, a northern suburb of Houston, show Moreno loading up her car from inside her garage while using a blue tarp to conceal her work.

At one point, she can be seen walking around her car with a brown trench coat folded over her arm. Moreno reportedly wore a trench coat during the attack.

Genesse Moreno seen in CCTV footage from a neighbour, obtained by ABC 13

(ABC 13)

Lauren Io Dodds14 February 2024 04:35


Police called to Moreno’s home six times in three years

The Conroe Police Department says it received at least six calls for service to Moreno’s home over the past three years before the shooting.

The subjects of those calls spanned the gamut from welfare checks, through noise disturbances and loud music, to threats and harassment, according to KHOU-11.

However, the department did not give further details of the calls.

Io Dodds14 February 2024 03:41


What is Munchausen Syndrome by proxy?

One of the accusations made during Moreno’s divorce case is that she was deliberately making her own son sick in order to pretend that his illness was more serious than it was.

In medical circles, this is known as Munchausen Syndrome by proxy – also referred to as “factitious disorder imposed on another”.

“It is a psychiatric disorder in which the individual is fully cognisant of what they’re doing, but very deliberately induces illness,” Harvard Medical School professor Cathy Ayoub told Fox 26.

Clinical social worker Donna Boswell described such people as “operating with a great deal of deception and manipulation”.

According to one court document seen by Fox, nurses found “adult pills” in her son’s feeding tube on two occasions while he was in hospital.

The documents even claim that some medical professionals feared Moreno had intentionally caused her son to be born prematurely in order to induce health problems.

Io Dodds14 February 2024 02:58


Conroe police deny any failings in dealing with shooter

Officials in Conroe, Texas are still being tight-lipped about Sunday’s shooting and their past interactions with Moreno.

According to ABC-13, Conroe mayor Jody Czajkoski did not return requests for comment, and the Montgomery County district attorney’s office referred questions to police.

For their part, the Conroe Police Department said it had reviewed all prior dealings with or about Moreno and determined that it had acted correctly.

“The review revealed that Conroe police personnel handled the calls appropriately and according to law,” the department said.

“Nothing relayed to officers would give authority to arrest or require mental health emergency detention; nor would any of the information have been an indication that the suspect would commit such a heinous crime.

“The Conroe Police Department has no further information to share at this time. “

Io Dodds14 February 2024 02:24


‘She has the right to own 40 guns and we can’t do anything’

A Texas child services investigator bluntly told Moreno’s family that did not have the “bandwidth” or legal authority to handle her case, according to Ms Carranza’s affidavit.

My colleague Andrea Cavallier writes:

“The January 2020 incident with the open car door led to Moreno’s case being handed over to a high risk investigator from the Montgomery County Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS).

“But according to Ms Carranza, the investigator was less than helpful.

“’I have children who were set on fire by their parents, so I don’t have the bandwidth to handle the case of a mother who can’t remember to shut the back door,’ he allegedly said.

“‘I don’t know why they assigned this to me. Guns are legal in Texas, and you don’t have to have a license for them. She has the right to own 40 of them and we can’t do anything about it.’

“He then described meeting with Moreno at her mother’s house, only to find that the child was not present.

“‘She refused to tell us where she was living or with whom. So, we can’t tell you where [the child] is because she won’t tell us… we told her to bring him to the office tomorrow.’

“One week later, Moreno had still not reported to the DCFS office, and ’due to staffing shortages’ there was no follow-up. “

We’re attempting to contact the DCFS for comment.

Io Dodds14 February 2024 01:40


Moreno accused her family of hacking her online accounts

Genesse Moreno had accused her former mother-in-law Walli Carranza of spying on her by hacking into her online accounts, according to court documents seen by The Independent.

In an application for a protection order in July 2022, Moreno asked a court to ban Ms Carranza from contacting her or her child (Ms Carranza’s grandchild) in any way, or going within 200 yards of them, their house, or their school.

“Respondent is trying to make me have a nervous breakdown for me to reat due to my mental illness[.] Such could result within the spectrum of jail or mental hospital, thus her acquiring custody,” Moreno wrote.

The specific accusations are hard to credit. She claimed that the Carranza family were spying on her by hacking into a laundry list of her online accounts, and also appeared to claim that she received harassing text messages from FBI director Christopher Wray.

We don’t know Ms Carranza’s response to these claims, but both Ms Carranza and her son Enrique – Moreno’s ex-husband – have said in court documents that Moreno suffered from schizophrenia and paranoid delusions, and accused her of severe abuse towards the young child. Ms Carranza also told ABC-13 that she unsuccessfully attempted to get guardianship of the couple’s child.

Io Dodds14 February 2024 00:59


What we know about Moreno’s criminal past

My colleague Kelly Rissman has been digging through Moreno’s lengthy history of interactions with the law, which dates back nearly two decades before the shooting.

In 2009, she was arrested for assault causing bodily injury, and a year later she was arrested for forgery relating to a counterfeit $100 bill.

Meanwhile, the rifle she used to commit the shooting was legally purchased in December 2023 – even though she had been arrested for unlawfully carrying a weapon earlier that same year.

Io Dodds14 February 2024 00:26


Conservatives are increasingly blaming mass shootings on trans people

Conservatives’ embrace of debunked claims about Moreno being transgender is part of a gathering effort to blame LGBT+ people for gun violence in America.

Seizing on a number of recent shootings in which the alleged perpetrators appeared to be trans or non-binary, right-wing activists and influencers have increasingly begun to claim that trans people are a uniquely violent community.

“Per capita, is there a more violent group of people anywhere in the world than radicalised trans activists?” wrote Donald Trump Jr after the Iowa high school shooting last month.

There have been four recent shootings where there was evidence that a perpetrator was transgender or considering transition: in Aberdeen, Maryland in 2018; in Denver, Colorado in 2019; in Nashville, Tennessee in 2023; and in Iowa in January 2024.

Meanwhile, the Gun Violence Archive lists more than 4,400 mass shootings in the US since 2013, some of which have more than one perpetrator. Of those, less than ten were known to be transgender as of last March, representing 0.11 per cent of the whole.

A US Secret Service analysis of 173 mass casualty attacks gave a higher estimate, saying that 2 per cent of perpetrators had been trans men. By contrast, around 96 per cent were cisgender (or non-trans) men.

The number of trans people in the US is uncertain, with estimates commonly clustering around 0.5 to 0.6 per cent.

Io Dodds13 February 2024 23:50


No new details yet, say Houston police

We just got a new statement from the Houston Police Department, although it does not offer any new details.

“We continue to receive inquiries for more details and specifics in the investigation since yesterday’s news briefing,” the department said.

“We understand the desire to receive more information in case. At this time, no other details are being released as this complex investigation is ongoing and still in its early stages.”

Lauren Io Dodds13 February 2024 23:06


Ted Cruz shares debunked claim that Moreno was transgender

Conservative pundits, activists, and politicians have continued to spread the unfounded claim that Moreno was a transgender woman, even after it was kiboshed by police.

The Houston Police department said in a press conference on Monday afternoon that although Moreno had sometimes gone by the alias “Jeffrey Escalante”, she appeared to have always “identified as female”.

There is also no mention of a trans identity in Moreno’s divorce documents, and and police have confirmed that she was the biological mother of her son.

But that did not stop the likes of conservative crusader Chris Rufo, anti-LGBT+ activist Chaya Raichik, Donald Trump Jr, and even Texas senator Ted Cruz from latching onto the idea.

“Per capita, violent trans extremists have to have become the most violent group of people anywhere in the world,” said Don Jr on X, formerly Twitter, on Tuesday morning.

On Tuesday afternoon, nearly 12 hours after that conference, Mr Cruz shared one of Ms Raichik’s posts with an emoji of a man covering his face with one hand.

The claim appears to have originated from the left-leaning broadcaster MSNBC, which claimed on Monday morning before the press conference that Moreno was “a Hispanic transgender woman”.

Fox News followed that up with a headline claiming that Moreno “identified as [a] transgender woman”. Both outlets have now nixed that claim.

Io Dodds13 February 2024 22:52

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