Bobby Brown leaves church as Whitney Houston's funeral begins
Bobby Brown was invited to the funeral of Whitney Houston on Saturday, but he left shortly after the "home going" service began, reportedly over a seating dispute.
Brown's invite was for him plus two guests, but he showed up with an entourage of nine, according to TMZ, which said the singer became upset when the entire party could not be seated. Sources told the website that Brown wanted to sit with his daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown.
[Updated at 1:25 p.m. Feb. 18: Brown's rep has released a statement indicating that he and his children were invited, seated by security and then asked to move three times. "I fail to understand why security treated my family this way and continue to ask us and no one else to move," he said in the statement, adding that he was prevented from attempting to see Bobbi Kristina.
"Security then prevented me from attempting to see my daughter Bobbi-Kristina. In light of the events, I gave a kiss to the casket of my ex-wife and departed as I refused to create a scene. My children are completely distraught over the events. This was a day to honor Whitney. I doubt Whitney would have wanted this to occur. I will continue to pay my respects to my ex-wife the best way I know how."]
Bobbi Kristina, Whitney Houston's only child, was seated in the front row of the New Hope Baptist Church, where speakers and singers repeatedly addressed her and Cissy Houston directly during the nearly four-hour service.
According to CNN, Brown had entered the church, gone up to the casket and was crying over his ex-wife, but left in an SUV about 10 minutes into the service. Sources told CNN he chose to leave when his entourage could not be accommodated inside the church.
Following the service, Jesse Jackson told CNN that he'd tried to get Brown to stay after the singer and several members of his entourage were asked to leave the front row. "That was a very difficult moment for all of us."
"It seems to me that they could have accommodated him better than they did," Jackson said.
Tweeting from outside the church, the Rev. Al Sharpton said, "I am at Whitney's funeral. I spoke with Bobby Brown trying to calm him down and not distract from the services. Today is about Whitney! I am going back in the services, I did my best out here. Can't tweet from inside the sanctuary, I hope the press will not distort the day."
After the service, Sharpton told CNN that Brown had shown nothing but respect, and asked that the singer be left alone.
Photo: Bobby Brown is escorted to a vehicle during the funeral of his ex-wife Whitney Houston in New Jersey on Saturday. Credit: Mel Evans / Associated Press