Police in Houston, Texas have identified the shooter who opened fire at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church on Sunday as Genesse Ivonne Moreno, an immigrant from El Salvador with a lengthy criminal history. She previously used the name Jeffrey Escalante Moreno, prompting some reports that she identified as a transgender individual. Law enforcement officials did not refer to her as such during a press conference on Monday, however.
Two people were hit by the gunman — a 57-year-old man and a seven-year-old boy who accompanied the shooter — after she opened fire just after 2 p.m. on Sunday. Off-duty police officers who were present at the scene engaged the shooter and returned fire.
She was ultimately pronounced dead at the scene.
The child — who has been identified as Moreno’s son — is not expected to survive, though he remains in critical condition at an area hospital, a Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office spokesperson told the Houston Chronicle.
According to investigators, Hassig arrived at the church accompanied by the child just before Spanish mass was set to begin. She was dressed in a black trench coat and was armed with a semiautomatic rifle, which she pointed at officers before she was shot and killed.
Christopher Hassig, commander of Houston Police Department Homicide Division, identified Moreno as female during the press conference and confirmed that she has a history of using both male and female aliases. “She utilized both male and female names, but through all of our investigation through this point, talking with individuals, interview, documents, Houston Police Department reports, she has been identified this entire time as female. She, her,” he said.
Hassig also confirmed that investigators uncovered “some antisemitic writings” but noted that investigators have yet to identify an official motive. Preliminary reporting also indicated that the rifle used by Moreno had “Free Palestine” written on it, though investigators have since clarified that it was just “Palestine.”
Moreno, 36, had a lengthy criminal history that included arrests for assault on a police officer, theft, forgery and evading arrest. She initially immigrated to the country from El Salvador, though it unclear if she did so legally or illegally at this time.
Members of the FBI, the Texas Rangers, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and the Conroe and Houston Police Departments are investigating a property in Conroe, located north of Houston, that is believed to have been Moreno’s residence, local outlet KPRC reported.
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