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Lakewood Church shooter had history of schizophrenia, former mother-in-law says

Genesee Moreno
Fort Bend County Sheriff
Fort Bend County Sheriff
Genesee Moreno

Houston leaders, including Mayor John Whitmire, get updates at the scene of a shooting at Lakewood Church on Sunday, February 11, 2024.

The woman who opened fire inside Lakewood Church on Sunday afternoon took schizophrenia medication and had a history of mental illness, yet was still legally sold a firearm that was later recovered at the scene.

Genesse Ivonne Moreno, 36, exchanged gunfire with off-duty security officers after she entered the Lakewood Church building with two firearms around 2 p.m. on Sunday, breaching the west side entrance. She was quickly shot dead by officers, but two others were shot during the exchange, including her own 7-year-old son who arrived at the scene with her.

It was still unclear Tuesday who the victims were shot by. The boy remains hospitalized in critical condition. The second person, a male churchgoer in his 50s, was released from the hospital Monday.

Moreno’s former mother-in-law, Walli Carranza, said in a Facebook post that Moreno had been taking medication for schizophrenia, and “raged against Israel and Jews in a pro-Palestinian rant” Sunday before the shooting.

RELATED: Lakewood Church shooting: Houston police examine suspect's mental health, anti-Semitic writings

Carranza said the fault lies with local Child Protective Services for putting the boy in harm’s way after they refused to remove her grandson from Moreno’s custody after a 2022 divorce and the ugly custody battle that followed.

“…and with the state of Texas for not having strong red flag laws that would have prevented her from owning or possessing a gun,” she said in the Facebook post.

Houston police on Monday said Moreno used a legally purchased assault rifle with a "Palestine" sticker on the buttstock during the shooting. Anti-Semitic writings were also uncovered during the initial investigation, Chris Hassig, commander of Houston Police Department’s homicide division said. Officials are investigating how she was able to purchase the firearm.

"We do believe that there was a familial dispute that has taken place between her ex-husband and ex-husband's family, and some of those individuals are Jewish," Hassig said. "So we believe that might be where all of this stems from.”

Moreno had criminal records dating back to 2005, court documents show. In total, six cases involving charges against Moreno can be found from 2005 to 2011.

Moreno was placed under an emergency detention order by officers in 2016, and police said her history of mental illness was extensive.

She had been arrested in 2022 for unlawfully carrying a weapon and had former charges of forgery, theft and marijuana possession. She was ultimately convicted on the weapons charge, which is a misdemeanor.

RELATED: Lakewood Church shooting: Female shooter dead, young child and man injured at Houston megachurch

Moreno’s son, Samuel Moreno-Carranza has been in critical condition since the Sunday shooting, “fighting for his life,” police said Monday.

Moreno’s former husband, Enrique Carranza, had fought for custody of the child, but his efforts had gone unsuccessful after years of messy court feuds.

“But mental illness is real illness and when family members seek emergency protections they’re not doing so for their own sake but for the sake of the person who is ill… and to protect her child and society,” Walli Carranza said.

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Sarah Grunau