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NYTimes
New York Times
17 Feb 2024
Edgar Sandoval


NextImg:7-Year-Old Son of Houston Church Shooter Still Struggling to Survive

A 7-year-old boy who was shot in the head when his mother opened fire at a Houston megachurch on Sunday has undergone at least two surgeries in 24 hours and “lost a major part of what makes us who we are,” his grandmother said in an update on Thursday.

The surgeries included removal of part of the frontal lobe of the brain and a portion of the skull, the grandmother, Walli Carranza, said in a post on Facebook. It included a jarring photo of the child from his hospital bed, where officials said he remained in critical condition. She said the boy was engaged in a “fight for life.”

Authorities said the boy, Samuel, was with his mother on Sunday when she entered the Lakewood Church in Houston, just after a service led by the televangelist Joel Osteen. The mother, Genesse Ivonne Moreno, opened fire with an AR-15 and was killed in a gunfight with two security guards, officials said. It is still unknown who fired the shots that struck Ms. Moreno’s son and injured a bystander, a 57-year-old man who has since been released from the hospital.

Interviews with people who know the family, police records, and legal documents from a divorce and custody battle filed by the child’s paternal relatives offered a window into Samuel’s troubled upbringing, beginning with his premature birth in 2016 when his mother was just six months pregnant.

His father, Enrique Carranza III, who is Ms. Carranza’s son, described him in the divorce case as a toddler who often hit and bit anyone who tried to touch him. Because he was kept inside most of the time, he did not see a bird or a tree until he turned three, his father told the court.

In a 74-page affidavit of her own, Ms. Carranza, who is a rabbi, wrote that her daughter-in-law had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and began to unravel after she stopped taking her medication during her pregnancy. She described Ms. Moreno after that as a detached parent who avoided eye contact with her son and referred to him as “the boy,” or “the child.”


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