ROBBINSDALE Minn. (KMSP) - The community gathered at Elim Lutheran Church in Robbinsdale to mourn the loss of three children killed in a Minneapolis house fire earlier this month. About a hundred people attended to pay their respects.
“Father we pray for the comfort of this family.”
Prayers recited before Taneisha Stewart-Thomas and her husband aimed to bring them peace.
“Console the hearts of this family and all the loved ones my God that came from far and near.”
Their children 7-year-old Latorious, 5-year-old Latoria, and 1-year-old Latorianna lost their lives during a house fire on the 2700 block of Penn Ave.
The fire apparently started by an oven used to heat the home.
This week police said contrary to what Taneisha initially told investigators she was not in the home when her children were killed.
The family's point of contact, Pastor Harding Smith took to the microphone, on what seemed an inappropriate and contradictory tangent and amid the tears of those grieving; he issued a defensive speech, insisting his character is under attack.
“I will not walk away from a family to save my good name.”
“We were never involved in the collection of money!”
“Six years as a pastor I have never put my name on any account to help a family until this family. We opened a go fund me account for three days not even one dollar came in.”
“I've had not had cable for 8 years because I can't afford it. 8 years! And God knows I like football.” Smith said.
Later Minneapolis firefighters who responded to the scene were acknowledged.
Ahead of remarks from Representative Keith Ellison
"No family should have to turn on the stove just to stay warm." Ellison said.
Pastor Smith says the mother of the children now has an attorney. According to Smith, a press conference may be held early next week where she's expected to share her side of the story. He originally informed reporters she would release a statement at the funeral.