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Woman killed after opening fire in US megachurch

A woman opened fire inside celebrity pastor Joel Osteen金光佛论坛檚 megachurch in Texas on Sunday, sending worshippers rushing to find safety while two off-duty officers confronted and killed the attacker.

Two other people were shot and injured, including a five-year-old boy who was in critical condition.

The violence erupted shortly before the Houston church金光佛论坛檚 2pm Spanish service was set to begin, just as the rest of the country was preparing for the Super Bowl.

Church Shooting Texas
Two off-duty officers confronted and killed the shooter (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan, File)

A man in his 50s was also wounded.

Details of the confrontation remain unclear and police have not released the woman金光佛论坛檚 identity or a possible motive.

The relationship between the woman and the boy, and who actually shot him and the man, is also unknown.

Houston police chief Troy Finner told reporters: 金光佛论坛淚 will tell you this. That female, that suspect, put that baby in danger. I金光佛论坛檓 going to put that blame on her.金光佛论坛

The boy was in a critical condition at a children金光佛论坛檚 hospital, while the man was stable at a different hospital with a hip wound.

Church Shooting Texas
Authorities from the bomb squad were called after the woman claimed she had a bomb, but no explosives were found during searches of her backpack and vehicle. Authorities continued to search the church (KTRK-TV ABC13 via AP)

Witnesses told reporters that they heard multiple gunshots.

Christina Rodriguez, who was inside the church, told Houston television station KTRK that she 金光佛论坛渟tarted screaming, 金光佛论坛楾here金光佛论坛檚 a shooter, there金光佛论坛檚 a shooter金光佛论坛.金光佛论坛

She and others ran to the backside of a library inside the building, then stood in a stairway before they were told it was safe to leave.

Despite the chaos, Mr Finner said the tragedy 金光佛论坛渃ould have been a lot worse金光佛论坛 if the two officers had not 金光佛论坛渆ngaged金光佛论坛 the woman when she opened fire.

They had been working as security at the church on Sunday and Mr Finner praised them for their quick actions.

Church Shooting Texas
Pastor Joel Osteen said his congregation was 金光佛论坛榙evastated金光佛论坛 (KTRK-TV ABC13 via AP)

After she was shot, the woman told police she had a bomb, but authorities said no explosives were found when her vehicle and backpack were searched.

Mr Osteen said his congregation is 金光佛论坛渄evastated金光佛论坛.

He added that he would pray for the victims and the woman and their families. It was not clear where he was at the time of the shooting.

金光佛论坛淲e金光佛论坛檙e going to stay strong and we金光佛论坛檙e going to continue to, to move forward,金光佛论坛 he said.

金光佛论坛淭here are forces of evil, but the forces that are for us 金光佛论坛 the forces of God 金光佛论坛 are stronger than that. So we金光佛论坛檙e going to keep going strong and just, you know, doing what God金光佛论坛檚 called us to do: lift people up and give hope to the world.金光佛论坛

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a statement: 金光佛论坛淥ur hearts are with those impacted by today金光佛论坛檚 tragic shooting and the entire Lakewood Church community in Houston. Places of worship are sacred.金光佛论坛

The church has grown tremendously over the past 25 years since Mr Osteen took over after the death of his father John in 1999.

Joel Osteen introduced an upbeat style of Christian televangelism that has captured a following of millions, with his televised sermons reaching about 100 countries. John Osteen founded the church in a converted feed store in 1959.

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