The former mother-in-law of the Lakewood Church shooter has slammed Texasgun laws and the state’s child protective services for failing her seven-year-old grandson, as he lies fighting for his life in hospital.
Moreno was fatally shot by two off-duty police officers who returned fire.
Her seven-year-old son was also caught in the crosshairs, and suffered a gunshot wound to the head.
Walli Carranza, Moreno’s former mother-in-law, has since taken to Facebook to speak about the “completely preventable horror” the family is now facing.
Houston Police officials said at a press conference on Monday that Moreno had a “documented mental health history” and had been placed under an emergency detention order by police in 2016.
Ms Carranza wrote that when Moreno had been “taking medication for schizophrenia,” she was a “very sweet and loving woman”.
The grandmother also refused to blame the two police officers who may have struck her grandson when they returned fire.
“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,” she wrote.
“The fault lies in a Child Protective Services of Montgomery County and Harris County which refused to remove custody from a woman with known mental illness who was not being treated and with the State of Texas for not having strong red flag laws that would have prevented (Moreno) from owning or possessing a gun.”
Police uncovered two weapons from the scene: the AR-15 that was used in the shooting as well as a .22 calibre rifle. Moreno didn’t fire the .22 rifle – it was recovered from her bag, police said.
Despite being arrested for a misdemeanour of unlawfully carrying a weapon in 2022, in December 2023 Moreno legally purchased the AR-15 rifle.
Ms Carranza also addressed another point raised by police. Authorities said they had “uncovered antisemitic writings” penned by Moreno. On top of this, police noted that there appeared to be a “familial dispute” between Moreno and her ex-husband’s family — some of whom are Jewish.
Police also said at Monday’s press conference that a sticker reading “Palestine” was stuck on the weapon used in the shooting.
Ms Carranza dismissed that this played a part.
“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!” Ms Carranza wrote.
“But this is what happens when reckless and irresponsible reporting lets people with severe mental illness have an excuse for violence.”
The grandmother signed off the Facebook post as Rabbi Willi Carranza.
Ms Carranza expanded on her claims when talking to KHOU. “She had a particular kind of schizophrenia that caused her to become violent,” she told the outlet. “She threatened her husband, my own son, and we still couldn’t get intervention.”
“We asked for help from CPS... We asked for help from police and received it many times but she was still allowed to own guns,” Ms Carranza continued.
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services spokesperson Melissa Lanford told The Indpendent in a statement: “Child Protective Services is investigating the shooting at Lakewood Church alongside law enforcement. At this time, DFPS cannot provide additional information because specific details of investigations are confidential according to law.”
The motive for the shooting has not yet been determined by police. In addition to a reported mental health history, Moreno also had a criminal history – dating from 2005 through 2022 – and she used several aliases including both male and female names, police said. However, “all the investigation to this point, she has been identified the entire time as female”, police said.
Interestingly, most of her arrests are listed under the name Jeffery Escalante — with the middle name Genesse.
The 2022 misdemeanour weapons charges, however, listed her as Genesse Moreno. Her driver’s license also used this name, police said.
Other outlets revealed that in March 2020, Moreno posted a screenshot of a letter from the megachurch thanking her for her donation. The Independent has not independently verified the post, as her social media accounts have been taken down, but has contacted the Houston Police Department.
The investigation is still ongoing. Police stressed that Moreno acted as a “lone wolf.”