Houston Church Shooter Previously Went By Male Name

The shooter opened fire at Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church.
HOUSTON, TEXAS - FEBRUARY 11: Emergency vehicles line the feeder road outside Lakewood Church during a reported active shooter event, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024, in Houston. (Kirk Sides/Houston Chronicle via Getty Images)
Kirk Sides/Houston Chronicle via Getty Images

A shooter who opened fire in a Texas megachurch over the weekend previously used a male name, law enforcement records show.

On Sunday afternoon, 36-year-old Genesse Ivonne Moreno* walked into Lakewood Church in Houston with a long gun and her young child and opened fire before being shot dead by law enforcement at the scene.

Moreno, a woman, previously identified as Jeffery Escalante, according to Texas Department of Public Safety records.

The shooter had a criminal history extending back nearly two decades to 2005 that included arrests for failure to stop and give information, assault of a detention officer, assault causing bodily injury, forgery with a counterfeit $100 bill, possession of marijuana, theft for stealing socks and cosmetics from a store, evading arrest, and unlawful carrying of a weapon.

A man, 57, was shot in the leg and later released from the hospital. Moreno’s 7-year-old son was also shot in the head and transported to the hospital in critical condition. It is not clear who fired the shot that injured the boy.

Police have not yet announced a motive for the shooting.

The shooter reportedly used an AR-15 with “Palestine” written on it.


Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said Moreno arrived at the church in a white vehicle and entered just before 2 p.m. wearing a trench coat and backpack.

After the shooter began to fire, two off-duty law enforcement officers confronted her, ultimately fatally shooting her.

Lakewood Church is led by high-profile evangelical pastor Joel Osteen and is located about six miles from downtown Houston.

Osteen said at a press conference that the shooting occurred while his church was “in between services.”

The police chief also said Moreno claimed to have a bomb. A bomb squad found no evidence of explosives during a search of the church and Moreno’s car and backpack. Moreno also sprayed a substance on the ground, the chief said.

Court records show that Moreno had a connection to Lakewood Church — her mother attended the megachurch, and according to her social media posts, the shooter may have attended as well.

In 2022, Moreno went through a divorce and child custody battle. During that battle, her former mother-in-law, Walli Carranza accused Moreno and her mother of keeping Moreno’s son away from his father. Carranza said in court records that she sought help from Lakewood Church staff, asking them about why Moreno and her mother were behaving this way.

Carranza claimed Moreno was diagnosed with schizophrenia and Munchausen by proxy. She also claimed her former daughter-in-law had been investigated by child protective services four times and was twice found to have harmed her son. Carranza also said Moreno pointed a gun at her ex-husband and kept an unlocked handgun in a diaper bag.

The former mother-in-law tried unsuccessfully to become the managing conservator of the child.

Moreno’s ex-husband is currently in prison in Florida for failing to register as a sex offender.

Some of the shooter’s ex-husband’s family are Jewish, and police said they found anti-Semitic writings connected with the shooter.

“This might possibly be where all this stems from,” Houston Homicide Commander Christopher Hassig said during press conference on Monday.

On Instagram, the shooter once posted about a donation she made to Lakewood Church, writing, “I will honor and bless my church.”

In other social media posts, she said she was the founder of a real-estate and financial services firm.

The shooting at Lakewood Church comes amid growing concern about recent mass shootings carried out by trans-identifying and “non-binary” shooters. One of the most prominent cases occurred last year when a woman who identified as a man entered a Christian school in Nashville and murdered three children and three adults before she was killed by responding police officers.

*Reports on mass shootings typically do not name the shooter under Daily Wire policy, but in this case, the shooter’s name is a vital part of law enforcement records and thus necessary to the clear reporting of this story. 

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