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Lakewood Church shooting was ‘predictable and preventable,’ suspect’s former mother-in-law says

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(HOUSTON) — The former mother-in-law of the woman accused of opening fire at celebrity pastor Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church told ABC News she thinks the shooting was “predictable and preventable.”

Walli Carranza, who identifies herself on Facebook as a rabbi, opened up about her former daughter-in-law Genesse Moreno’s mental health issues and noted, “Despite the fact she had schizophrenia, she was allowed to own guns.”

When news broke of a shooting at Lakewood Church in Houston on Sunday, Carranza said her heart sank.

She said the details describing the female shooter and a young boy sounded eerily similar to her former daughter-in-law and grandson, motivating her to call the Houston police Sunday evening to ask for a welfare check.

On Monday morning, Carranza said the police called her back and confirmed her worst fears: Moreno, 36, had opened fire in the church, and she was shot and killed by officers, according to police.

Carranza’s 7-year-old grandson, Sam, was shot in the head and remains in the hospital in critical condition, according to authorities.

A man believed to be a parishioner was also shot in the incident and has since been released from the hospital, police said.

It was not clear if Sam and the parishioner were shot by Moreno or if they were struck by officers’ gunfire.

A motive remains under investigation. Police are delving into the background of Moreno, who has a well-documented history of mental health issues and a criminal record, according to an ABC News review of documents and records.

“This was predictable and preventable,” Carranza said. “I did reach out to, at one point, to [the] Joel Osteen church asking for help for a mother and for intervention, as I would expect anyone to reach out to me if one of my congregants was in a situation that needs my intervention. And that’s what I needed from him. I needed their team, and I don’t know what they did. I don’t know if they were able to.”

Carranza told ABC News that when she first met Moreno, the young woman wore a hijab and said she practiced Islam. But she said when Moreno and Carranza’s son, Quito, found out they were pregnant, Quito was adamant about raising their son around the Jewish faith.

Carranza said Moreno’s mother was a parishioner of Lakewood Church and often attended the Spanish-language service, which was set to start around the time of the shooting.

“There was a very contentious relationship between she and her mother,” Carranza said. “Her mom told us … she was afraid of Genesse.”

Carranza said Moreno was diagnosed with schizophrenia and on medication periodically. She said once Moreno was pregnant, she stopped taking the medication and her mental health took a turn for the worse.

Carranza said her grandson was born prematurely. She said Moreno had drugs in her system and “Sam was born drug-exposed,” so Child Protective Services “was involved in this case from the beginning.”

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services told ABC News it’s not able to release specifics on the case because its investigations are confidential.

Even though Moreno was on the radar of the government and law enforcement, Carranza said she felt the system was failing to help her family.

Carranza recalled one terrifying moment while living in Colorado when her then-3-year-old grandson handed her a gun from Moreno’s diaper bag.

“I secured it, took Sam, went to the police station and turned it in,” she said.

Carranza said she planned to visit her grandson in the hospital Tuesday afternoon and sing songs by his beside.

“He’ll know that I’m there. He’ll know that it’s the same voice he heard in the neonatal intensive care unit singing to him,” she said “I think the tremendous guilt that any grandparent or parent feels where they haven’t been able to protect the child from something so horrific has to be set aside when you’re in the room with the child, so that all they feel is the hopefulness.”

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