Funeral for Children Drowned in Hudson Murder-Suicide Turns Into a Feud

Jean Pierre, the father of the three children who died when their mother drove their car into the Hudson River, and Datrice Armstrong, the mother of LaShanda Armstrong, both center, are escorted from the Alphonso E. Brown Funeral Home in Spring Valley, N.Y. after a service on Monday, April 25, 2011. LaShanda Armstrong, 25, loaded her four children into a minivan on April 12 after an argument with the father of the three youngest. She drove down a boat ramp in Newburgh into the river. The oldest child, 10-year-old La'Shaun Armstrong, crawled out a window and survived. (AP Photo/The Poughkeepsie Journal, Lee Ferris) Photo: Lee Ferris/AP2011

A shouting match erupted at the funeral yesterday for the three children drowned by their mother in the Hudson River, showcasing the emotional toll on the family after the tragedy that keeps bottoming out, in this case into pettiness. The feud started because the children's father, Jean Pierre, barred some relatives from the mother's side of the family from attending. Pierre gave the police a list of 80 names permitted entry to the invitation-only service for 5-year-old Landen, 2-year-old Lance, and 11-month-old Lainaina. Although eighteen relatives from Lashanda Armstrong's side of the family were on the list, the rest were blocked from mourning. Gwendolen Green, a nurse and cousin of the Armstrong's, whose son was excluded, shouted, "This side of the family matters, too! You know it's wrong!"

Outside the funeral home in Spring Valley, Rockland County, Green called out Pierre, who had quarreled with Armstrong the night she drove the van with her four children (her 10-year-old son Lashaun managed to escape) into the river, for his display of grief. Armstrong had fought with Pierre that night over his philandering and an order of protection that she had gotten against him. Green, who wore photo-buttons of the children said:

"He's carrying on so [much] in there, screaming and hollering. The guilt is filling him up . . .Treat the mother right! Don't abuse! Pay child support! You're supposed to take care of people when they're alive!"

Hudson tragedy: Everyone loses as family feud turns sad, solemn funeral into raucous shouting match [NYDN]
New angels anguish [NYP]