Pro-Palestinian message written on gun used at Joel Osteen church shooting

Genesse Ivonne Moreno, a.k.a. Jeffrey Escalante
Genesse Ivonne Moreno, a.k.a. Jeffrey Escalante

The gun used in Sunday’s shooting at Joel Osteen’s church in Texas reportedly had a pro-Palestinian message written on it, and the shooter has been identified as Genesse Ivonne Moreno, 36, an immigrant from El Salvador who has used male identities.

KHOU-TV in Houston reports “Moreno had a criminal history dating back to 2005, and previously identified as Jeffrey Escalante, according to a Texas Department of Public Safety records search. Prior arrests include failure to stop and give information, assault of a public servant, assault causing bodily injury, forgery, possession of marijuana, theft, evading arrest unlawful carrying weapon.”

ABC News reports “Palestine” was written on the long rifle belonging to a man dressed as a woman who opened fire at the Lakewood Church in Houston, according to a law-enforcement official briefed on the investigation.

“A motive behind the Sunday afternoon shooting has not been determined. Sources said investigators are feverishly going through the social media and writings belonging to the suspect,” the network indicated.

Pastor Joel Osteen reacts to a shooting at his Houston, Texas, church on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024.
Pastor Joel Osteen reacts to a shooting at his Houston, Texas, church on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024.

As WND reported Sunday, a suspect wearing a trench coat and packing a long rifle opened fire at the celebrity pastor’s megachurch while thousands of people were inside the facility.

The 7-year-old boy critically injured in the crossfire was the child the shooter brought to the church. He was shot in the head and is “fighting for his life,” Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said Monday.

Also injured by gunfire was a 57-year-old man who was shot in the leg. Officers killed the shooter at the scene.

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One woman who was reunited with her loved ones noted: “The worship team, they were singing when the incident happened.”

(Video screenshot)
The shooting suspect’s car outside Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said, “I will not make any assumptions because information continues to come in as to what motivated the shooter, but I am asking that the investigation look into whether it was a hate crime, given the shooting took place at an all-Spanish service.”

“We all stand with the Lakewood congregation as they recover from this terrifying day and with the young child and adult who are known to have been hurt in the shooting,” Hidalgo added.

“It could have been a lot worse,” Osteen told reporters. “We’re devastated.”

“We don’t understand why these thing happen, but we know God’s in control.”

“We’re gonna stay strong and we’re gonna continue to move forward. There are forces of evil but the forces that are for us, the forces of God, are stronger than that.”

“So we’re going to keep going strong and just, you know, doing what God’s called us to do, lift people up and give hope to the world again.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called the shooting “tragic.”

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“Our hearts are with those impacted by today’s tragic shooting and the entire Lakewood Church community in Houston,” Abbott said. “Places of worship are sacred.”

It was a much more peaceful scene earlier Sunday morning, as Lakewood Church posted photos of congregants coming to worship, along with the message: “In Scripture, Jesus fed the multitudes, gave sight to the blind, and raised the dead. Jesus still works miracles today, arranging divine connections to heal everything in your life.

“Welcome to Church this morning! We love seeing you all!”

Editor’s note: This story was updated to clarify the sticker on the shooter’s gun said “Palestine,” according to police, not “Free Palestine.”

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