Video of Lakewood Church shooting shows officer praying for life of 7-year-old Samuel Moreno

Officer Garcia of the Houston Police Department prays for Samuel Moreno-Carranza, the 7-year-old son of late Lakewood Church shooter Genesse Moreno moments after he was shot in the head on February 11, 2024.
Officer Garcia of the Houston Police Department prays for Samuel Moreno-Carranza, the 7-year-old son of late Lakewood Church shooter Genesse Moreno moments after he was shot in the head on February 11, 2024. | YouTube/HPD Critical Incidents

Edited video footage released by the Houston Police Department of the fatal shooting of 36-year-old Lakewood Church shooter Genesse Moreno on Feb. 11 shows an officer praying for Moreno’s 7-year-old son who was shot in the head. 

Through their YouTube channel on Tuesday, HPD released several videos recorded on Lakewood Church security cameras and body cameras worn by police officers who responded to the shooting. The videos provide a variety of angles showing how the shooting unfolded and the different reactions of officers responding at the scene. 

“We are releasing body-worn camera video of the shooting incident at Lakewood Church on February 11. Our hearts are heavy as 7-year-old Samuel Moreno continues to fight for his life. No child should ever be placed in that position. He needs our support and prayers,” HPD Chief Troy Finner said in a statement on Facebook with the release of the video footage from the shooting.

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“We realize the video of this shooting may be unsettling to members of the community. HPD is releasing it as part of our commitment to release critical incident videos within 30 days.

“While we know there are unanswered questions, this is still an active investigation. We will continue to work with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to thoroughly examine all aspects of this incident,” he said. “Our partnership with religious institutions remains a priority. We will continue to work to enhance safety so that all who gather can do so safely and without fear.”

In one police body camera video lasting nearly 6.5 minutes, Moreno, who was walking back-and-forth erratically and shooting her weapon at officers, tells police she is going to blow up the church after her son is shot in the head and believes he is dead. 

“I will blow up this whole f— place. You killed my son,” she told officers.

"Stand down. I have a bomb. I have a f— bomb. Stay calm. All I need is help. All I need is help," she continued. "I need help, that’s all. I just need help. There’s a bomb in this bag. Stop shooting." 

Police previously stated that they recovered two guns 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 repeatedly fired at the officers.

In the video, Moreno was instructed to put the weapon down multiple times, but she shouted off camera, “I won’t. The bomb is going to go off.”

In the 26-minute video compilation, Moreno is seen charging down a hallway and shooting her gun at officers before setting it down next to her backpack and pulling items out of a zipped compartment. She then picks the gun back up, aims it, and lays it back down on the floor next to her backpack. Again, she rifles through the bag where she claims to have a bomb and throws an object on the ground before standing back up and pacing the floor with something in her hands before she's shot (5:43-7:32 minute mark). 

When she was shot by an officer the rifle was on the floor near her. Moreno made a labored attempt to get up and made what appeared to be a motion toward the gun. More shots are fired at her until she is slumped over and no longer moving.

Separate video footage from the body camera of a female officer identified as Garcia shows her offering up prayers for herself and Moreno’s son, 7-year-old Samuel Moreno-Carranza, as the shooting unfolded.

Garcia is shown first standing in conversation with colleagues when people start running as shots ring out.

"Why are people running?" she asked before praying “Father God ... Father God, just be with us."

For what seems like a long spell in the video, she then takes cover in an enclosed stairwell with another female officer who, at one point, said her body camera wasn’t working in an anxious tone.

"We need to go. We need to get closer. Father God. God," Garcia said.

"Come on. Come on. We need to approach. Father God, just be with us. Forgive us our sins," Garcia prayed.

As she moves closer to the scene, Garcia finds Samuel wounded and unconscious and appears moved by what she sees.

“Father God, please bring him close to you," Garcia said. "You're good, you're good, you're good, it's OK."

In an interview with KHOU11, Katherine Schweit, who created the FBI's active shooter response program, praised the response of the police officers.

"It was gripping to listen to the officer asking God to guide them and knowing that she needed to move forward as fast as she could," she said. "The frightening part that is the reality you see in that video footage is that she doesn't know what she's going to face."

Schweit said the decision by the police to take out Moreno saved lives.

"They're having to make split-second decisions and I think they did a great job to do that," she said.

"When you're in the heat of it, your objective is to try to get to the shooter and neutralize the shooter," Schweit explained. "And then you have to pick up the pieces afterwards and that poor little boy is part of those messy parts." 

Lakewood Church Pastor Joel Osteen called the shooting a “pure act of evil” in an email sent to members Tuesday, according to Click 2 Houston.

“As each new Sunday comes to pass, our church family finds more confidence, and our faith only grows stronger. You are Lakewood Church. Your steadfastness and resolve to be a source of healing to our church family and the community around us has amazed us,” Osteen said.

“In the days ahead, may we lean on each other for support and draw strength from the unshakable foundation of our faith. Let us cling to the promise that God ‘works all things together for the good of those who love Him’ (Romans 8:28), trusting that even in the midst of this tragic event, He is working out His perfect plan.”

In the surveillance video from Lakewood Church, Moreno can be seen frantically pulling her son, Samuel, back and forth. He's then seen covering his ears with his hands at the sound of the gunfire and frantically reaching out to his mother for comfort.

Moreno’s mother-in-law, Walli Carranza, previously said she wasn’t sure why Moreno chose to attack the church but speculated that her former daughter-in-law’s mental health struggles, coupled with a custody battle over her son, contributed to what happened.

Carranza also stated that her former daughter-in-law worshiped at Lakewood Church and told The Associated Press that during a custody battle between her son, Enrique Carranza, and Moreno over her grandson, her attorney sent emails to Lakewood Church in 2020 and 2021 asking for help. The request was made based on a belief that Moreno’s mother was a member of the church.

Don Iloff, a Lakewood Church spokesperson, told the AP that their records show Moreno only attended the church “sporadically” for a couple of years, and beyond 2022, they have no record of her attendance.

He further noted that while they are still looking, they haven’t found any records showing Moreno’s mother attended services at the megachurch or receipt of any emails from Carranza’s attorney.

Iloff added that the extent of the help they could have offered to Moreno would have been limited to spiritual and biblical counseling.

“If we had reached out and [Moreno] had accepted counseling, then we definitely would have been more than happy to provide that,” Iloff said.

The custody battle over their son started in Harris County, Texas, but ended in Montgomery County. Enrique Carranza was granted custody of his son in Harris County, but a new trial in Montgomery County awarded custody to Moreno, even though the boy’s paternal grandmother had asked a judge to appoint her as temporary conservator after pointing out that Moreno had schizophrenia and didn’t always take her prescribed medication.

In his testimony to a Harris County judge, Enrique Carranza said he wasn't told about the birth of his son until a month after he was born, and Moreno had “told the hospital that (he) was dead.”

In documents filed in Montgomery County, Walli Carranza said Moreno and her mother “knowingly and intentionally harmed” Samuel by “lying” to authorities for reasons hard to understand “even by the pastoral staff of Joel Osteen’s church,” which is where Moreno’s mother claimed to be a member.

Early Friday, she shared an update about herself and Samuel on Facebook, writing in part that she planned to "draft the letter to Governor Abbott asking him ... to appoint an outside agency or consultant to investigate how Samuel was not afforded the protection by those charged with protecting innocent children from harm."

She added: "Sam is now entering the very long road towards life. For the first 10 days Sam had to just survive. Now he must choose every single day to live more fully. He can now be sat up on my lap with his body braced between mine and the Physical Therapist.....and with the PT holding his head steady. In that position I read him a story and sing to him."

On Sunday, Walli Carranza expressed relief that her grandson doesn’t remember anything about the shooting.

“Samuel Carranza smiled today! Two weeks ago, was he excited to be getting dressed up in his Sunday best? Two weeks ago, as he was driving in his car seat, did he and his mother talk about going to his abuela's church or did Genèse tell him he was being led to the slaughter?” she asked in a post on Facebook.

“The blessing.... the only blessing of that most horrific day is that all the parts of his brain that would remember it, or her are gone. He is a tableau blanche; a clean slate,” she said.

“And today, as I was preparing his ‘ship’ for yet another ‘voyage to Japan’ (land of cameras) where his ‘paparazzi’ are waiting to get his photograph and see what the well-dressed are wearing this Spring in Houston, and as I tucked Nes, the tiger of miracles, under his arm, he looked up and smiled…”

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

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