A raving anti-Semite from El Salvador marched into Joel Osteen’s Houston-area megachurch on Sunday and opened fire using a gun with a brand-new “Palestine” sticker on its stock. Two off-duty officers quickly returned fire and made quick and definitive work of the attacker.
While it is not yet entirely clear why the gender-bending pro-Palestinian shooter opened fire in the pro-Israel Christian church, there appears to be an effort under way to downplay the possibility that religious and political hatred were major factors and instead blame gun access.
Blaze News previously reported that Genesse Moreno, 36, bypassed a security guard and entered Lakewood Church with a 7-year-old child in tow just before the 2 p.m. Spanish-language service was scheduled to begin. Moreno, reportedly the child’s biological mother despite sometimes going by the name Jeffrey Escalante, was dressed in a trench coat and armed with an Anderson Manufacturing AR-15 rifle. She was also carrying a .22 caliber rifle in a duffel bag.
According to police, Moreno began firing inside the hallway on the west side of the church at 1:55 p.m., prompting a response from a 28-year-old off-duty Houston Police Department officer and a 38-year-old Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agent, who fatally shot her.
The child who accompanied Moreno inside the building was struck in the head by a bullet during the exchange. He remains in critical condition at Texas Children’s Hospital. Tom George Thomas, a 57-year-old volunteer at the church, took a bullet to the hip but has since been released from a hospital.
While certainly her last, this was not Moreno’s first run-in with the law.
Over the past two decades, Moreno has been slapped with charges for drug possession, assault, illegal possession of a weapon, resisting arrest, and forgery, reported CNN.
Houston Homicide Commander Christopher Hassig indicated that the gender-bending shooter was also temporarily detained in 2016 over mental health concerns and has a history of mental illness.
KHOU-TV reported that Moreno’s former mother-in-law, Rabbi Walli Carranza, claimed in court documents that the shooter had a diagnosis of schizophrenia and Munchausen by proxy; had harmed her child more than once; and had been the subject of multiple child protective services investigations.
The Houston Chronicle noted that Moreno lost custody of her son to her Jewish ex-husband at one point but apparently regained it in 2022.
Early in the investigation, police also indicated they had uncovered some of the shooter’s “anti-Semitic writings.”
Downplaying ideological motives
One of Moreno’s neighbors told KPRC-TV that she routinely threatened nearby residents with weapons. Extra to painting a swastika on a neighbor’s fence, she is alleged to have repeatedly made Nazi salutes in public.
Carranza told the New York Times that Moreno frequently targeted her Jewish in-laws with “very anti-Semitic” rants that “were very profane and … horrible.”
Despite acknowledging that her former daughter-in-law had been a practicing Muslim, Carranza stressed, “This has nothing to do with Islam. This ranting, I’m sure, was fueled by mental illness.”
The former mother-in-law appeared to suggest in a Monday Facebook statement that religious or political hatred were ultimately the “excuse” for Moreno’s attack.
“Although my former daughter-in-law raged against Israel and Jews in a pro Palestinian rant yesterday this has nothing to do with Judaism or Islam. Nothing,” wrote Carranza. “But this is what happens when reckless and irresponsible reporting lets people with severe mental illness have an excuse for violence.”
After highlighting a potential trigger for the violence, Carranza pinned blame on the Lone Star State for “not having strong red flag laws that would have prevented her from owning or possessing a gun. Let it be clear that the second amendment stops where the first amendment right to life begins and it’s time to remove from the US Constitution any protection for gun ownership.”
Various Democratic lawmakers, including state Reps. Ann Johnson and Gene Wu, have amplified the suggestion that red-flag legislation such as Texas House Bill 3057 “could have prevented this very incident,” reported the Chronicle.
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