Who is Genesse Moreno, The Non-Citizen Trans Palestinian Sympathizer? 

zefart / shutterstock.com
zefart / shutterstock.com

On Sunday, February 11, 2024, at approximately 1:53 p.m., 36-year-old Genesse Ivonne Moreno, a transgender woman previously known as Jeffrey Escalante, opened fire at Joel Osteen’s megachurch in Houston, Texas.  

Moreno, clad in a trench coat and accompanied by her 7-year-old son, brandished an AR-15 rifle adorned with a “Palestine” sticker, along with a 22-caliber rifle and a backpack. She claimed to have explosives with her as well, although none were discovered.  

On entering the church, she encountered two off-duty officers providing security for the building: Houston police officer Christopher Moreno (unrelated to the shooter) and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agent Adrian Herrera.  

In the ensuing exchange of gunfire, Moreno was fatally shot. Moreno’s son sustained a critical head injury from a gunshot and is currently hospitalized. Additionally, a 57-year-old man was wounded in the leg by a stray bullet but was treated and discharged from the hospital. 

Lakewood Church is a non-denominational evangelical megachurch. It ranks among the largest congregations in the United States, drawing approximately 45,000 worshippers weekly. Additionally, it airs a weekly television program that is accessible in 100 countries. 

Moreno had a lengthy criminal record dating back to 2005, including charges of assault, forgery, theft, evading arrest, and unlawful carrying of a weapon. Moreover, she grappled with mental health issues, notably schizophrenia and Munchausen syndrome by proxy. Her tumultuous divorce and custody dispute with ex-husband Enrique Carranza III, whose family had Jewish ancestry, compounded her troubles.  

Law enforcement has retrieved “antisemitic writings,” which they suspect may have influenced Moreno’s behavior, particularly given her hostile relationship with her ex-husband and his relatives. Chris Hassig, Commander of the Houston Police Department Homicide Division, explained, “We do believe that there was a familial dispute that has taken place between her ex-husband and her ex-husband’s family. And some of those individuals are of, are Jewish. So, we believe that that … might possibly be where all of this stems from.” 

Moreno’s ex-mother-in-law, Walli Carranza, who identifies herself as a rabbi, disagrees, saying that despite Moreno’s apparent antisemitic statements, “this has nothing to do with Judaism or Islam.” Carranza attributed Moreno’s actions to untreated mental illness and the absence of “strong red flag laws that would have prevented her from having a gun.” 

Moreno was previously married to Carranza after the couple met while working at the Spaghetti Warehouse in downtown Houston in 2015. Carranza claims that Moreno became abusive as soon as the couple was married, and he endured considerable hardship “to appease her delusional thought pattern.” 

Carranza detailed instances of physical abuse inflicted by his wife, whom he called “Jeffrey.” He recalled how she would strike him with keys and cans of beans and once gouged his eye during a physical altercation.  

In 2019, Carranza alleged that Moreno called the police twice while armed with a gun and holding their son. Even though he faced ongoing abuse at Moreno’s hands, Carranza hesitated to file charges against her because she was “not an American citizen” and would have been deported. 

In the divorce filings, Carranza expressed deep apprehension about Moreno’s ability to differentiate reality from fiction due to her schizophrenia. He described her as irrational, unstable, and physically harmful to their son, neglecting his medical needs. According to Carranza’s mother, Moreno insisted on keeping her son in diapers and dressed him in baby clothes, including girls’ clothing. 

Carranza’s mother noted that Moreno was a diagnosed schizophrenic who had been involuntarily committed to psychiatric facilities at least four times. Despite being diagnosed with schizophrenia and being warned by Child Protective Services not to possess firearms, Moreno boasted about having guns, raising concerns for Carranza’s safety and their son’s welfare. 

Moreno has employed “multiple aliases,” including “Jeffrey Escalante,” according to Hassig. While she has used “both male and female names” previously, documents show that Moreno has consistently been identified as female. 

The Lakewood Church shooting is a tragedy that checks numerous boxes, from the assailant being in the U.S. illegally to a repeated pattern of criminal behavior, rabid antisemitic views, mental illness, and gender confusion. For Moreno, it was a sad ending to a challenging life full of delusions encouraged by those who claimed to care the most about her.