Jewish grandmother says Lakewood shooter worshiped at megachurch

Blames CPS for shooting of 7-year-old grandson

Walli Carranza (pictured) says her 7-year-old grandson, Samuel Moreno-Carranza, the son of the late Lakewood Church shooter, Genesse Ivonne Moreno, is fighting for his life at Texas Children's Hospital after being shot in the head.
Walli Carranza (pictured) says her 7-year-old grandson, Samuel Moreno-Carranza, the son of the late Lakewood Church shooter, Genesse Ivonne Moreno, is fighting for his life at Texas Children's Hospital after being shot in the head. | Screenshot/KHOU11

Walli Carranza, a Jewish rabbi and former mother-in-law of late suspected Lakewood Church shooter, Genesse Ivonne Moreno, said she worshiped at the megachurch, and when news first broke about Sunday’s shooting, she had a suspicion that her former daughter-in-law was involved.

“I suspected last night that this could be my daughter-in-law,” Carranza, the lead rabbi at  Chesed Communaute Juive de L'Occitanie in Auch, France, told KHOU11 Monday.

The shootout between Moreno, 36, and two off-duty police officers left Carranza’s former daughter-in-law dead while her 7-year-old grandson, Samuel Moreno-Carranza, who was shot in the head, is fighting to stay alive at Texas Children's Hospital.

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Lakewood Church did not immediately respond to questions from The Christian Post about Moreno’s affiliation with the church, but Carranza stated that she worshiped at the Joel Osteen-led megachurch, and she wasn’t sure why she chose to attack the church. Carranza speculated that her former daughter-in-law’s mental health struggles coupled with a custody battle over her son contributed to what happened.

Houston Police Department
Houston Police Department

She said on Sunday she got a call that her grandson was at the church and her former daughter-in-law had opened fire. She did not say from whom she got the call.

“The fact that she wasn’t allowed to kill anyone else was a great blessing,” Carranza said. “She had a particular kind of schizophrenia that caused her to become violent. She threatened her husband’s life. She threatened mine. She threatened to kill her own son and we still couldn’t get intervention.”

In a recounting of the shooting at Lakewood Church, Houston Police Department's Commander of Homicide Christopher Hassig said at a press conference Monday that Moreno pulled up to the west side of the church building in a white vehicle at 1:53 p.m. on Sunday with her son in tow.

"She gets out of her white vehicle. She opens the door, pulls the 7-year-old child out of the backseat as well as a bag that is with her," he said.

Moreno then "confronts a security guard who lets her in along the west side of the building" at 1:55 p.m.

Moreno "immediately starts firing" after entering a hallway of the church.

The off-duty officers, who were working approved security jobs for the church, engaged Moreno in a gunfight. Moreno and the child are then brought down in a hail of bullets. Hassig said the child was shot once in the head but did not say who shot the child.

"Multiple rounds are fired by her at which point Officer Moreno of the Houston Police Department working an approved extra job at the location as well as TABC agent Herrera returned fire and the exchange is all there on the west side of the building," Hassig said.

"In the hallway, multiple shots are exchanged by all three. She eventually falls to the ground. The 7-year-old child falls to the ground as well from gunfire — one gunshot wound to the head."

Moreno was pronounced dead by Houston Fire Department personnel at 2:07 p.m. Hassig said, her son remains hospitalized in "critical condition."

Two weapons were recovered from the scene, including a .22 caliber rifle, which was not used in the shooting, and an AR-15 with a "Palestine" sticker, which Moreno fired at the officers.

In a statement on Facebook Monday, Carranza asked for prayers for her grandson and said even if the police officers are “found responsible” for shooting her grandson, she blames Moreno’s mental illness, Texas Child Protective Services, and the state’s laws that allowed her ex-daughter-in-law to have a gun for what happened to him.

“As we try to make sense of this completely preventable horror, we want to make three things absolutely clear. First, 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! But this is what happens when reckless and irresponsible reporting let's people with severe mental illness have an excuse for violence,” Carranza wrote.

“Second, no one may ever blame a police officer who carries out his or her rightful duty to save lives even if they are found responsible for shooting my grandson. The fault lies in a child protective services of Montgomery County and Harris County that refused to remove custody from a woman with known mental illness that was not being treated 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 continued. “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 U.S. Constitution any protection for gun ownership.”

The Houston Police Department confirmed on Monday that Moreno struggled with mental illness and had at least six prior arrests since 2005, including unlawful carrying of a weapon, which Moreno pleaded guilty to; evading arrest; and assault on a public official.

An ABC News review of documents and records connected to that history shows that she was previously married to Enrique Carranza III but divorced in 2022.

Moreno’s ex-husband described their relationship as turbulent and accused her of being “abusive.”

He said in an affidavit that they met in 2015 while working at Spaghetti Warehouse — a "family-friendly American-Italian restaurant” in downtown Houston, according to the restaurant's website.

"As soon as we married, my wife became abusive," Carranza III said in his affidavit. She was "a diagnosed schizophrenic, so daily it was a new battle or fight in her realm" he said, noting that he let her put him "through hell to appease her delusional thought pattern."

Moreno’s husband referred to her in the affidavit as "Jeffrey" and said she would "hit me with keys" and "cans of beans."

He mentioned that she once "ripped a layer of my eye out once" because of impatience with the "interview process" for a job prospect and that she "also stalked me, getting me fired from jobs." He also accused her of filing a fraudulent birth certificate for her son.

In her affidavit, Carranza stated that her son "has been reticent to file the criminal charges against his wife; now his former wife because, as she is not a U.S. citizen.” The mother-in-law's affidavit said, "as she already has had criminal convictions, she would likely be deported if convicted of the 3rd degree felony that stems from filing a fraudulent birth certificate.

“He told [Houston Police] detectives this is not what he wants for the woman he loved and married and the mother of his child. He wants her to live, he told police, where she can get quality mental healthcare. He doesn’t hate her; he hates her mental illness and her refusal to treat it."

Moreno argued in her filings that it was her ex-husband who was abusive to her and in a December 2021 affidavit filed under the name "Jeffrey Moreno-Carranza," she alleged that her ex-husband was "a convicted sex offender" and had "multiple" DWI charges.

She said during their marriage Carranza III “physically assaulted me on numerous occasions that made me fear for my safety and the safety of my son."

In March 2023, Carranza III was found guilty by a Florida jury of Failure to Comply with Sex Offender Requirements after having been previously convicted of Attempted Sexual Assault on a Child in Colorado.

"I have always been the primary caregiver for my son," Moreno said in her 2021 affidavit.

She argued that her ex-husband "has never cared" for their son "by himself and furthermore, he is not capable of caring for a child with special needs."

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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