Joel Osteen Says Houston Officials "Didn't Ask" To Keep Lakewood Church Open As Shelter

The pastor says authorities labeled his church a distribution center not a shelter to victims. 

Pastor Joel Osteen went on a press spree Wednesday (Aug. 30) in an effort to refute claims of turning away thousands of victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Speaking to CBS This Morning, Osteen changed his story several times to defend his stance in not opening Lakewood Church for victims. After sharing on Facebook that the church was open, video evidence from residents showed the church doors closed. With a plethora of supplies behind him, Osteen says his church was labeled a distribution center, not a shelter to victims.

"Our doors have always been open. We receive people even as soon as the water started receding," Osteen said. "We worked with the city constantly. The city set up a shelter about four miles from here that can house 10,000 people, showers, dormitories, kitchens, security, all that. They didn't need us as a shelter at that point. They wanted us to be a distribution center."

Osteen's church can seat up to 16,000 evacuees but Osteen says the church was flooded, which halted his plans to open immediately. He also repeated that the city never asked him leave his church open.

"This building flooded in 2001, the whole bottom floor. It would have been a safety concern at the start," Osteen added. "The issue is, we work with the city, they said, 'Let us be the shelter.' They said, go to the county, go to the city shelter. So, you know, somebody created a notion that, you know what, we're not open in time, but they're not sitting here seeing that the mayor is saying don't stay on the street – don't get on the streets, that this building is a safety issue. We're here to help people," he said.

Other areas surrounding Houston have welcomed evacuees like the The George R. Brown Convention Center, The Samuell Grand Recreation Center in east Dallas, the Walnut Hill Recreation Center on Midway Road, the Tommie Allen Recreation Center on Bonnie View Road, and the Samuell Grand Center on East Grand Avenue.

Osteen doubled down on his reasoning by slightly placing blame on the city authorities. "If you need a shelter we could have been a shelter from day one if they wanted that," Osteen said. "You just have to be here to see that, No. 1, the city runs the shelters, what they need us to do – they asked us for a distribution center and you see hundreds and thousands of volunteers came out."

He also didn't have a clear answer as to where the money he was raising for victims would essentially go.

"We'd be raising money for the victims here in Houston – I don't know how it all works – we're working with Samaritan's Purse and different ones, but we're gonna be here five years from now helping these people," Osteen said.

Hurricane Harvey made it's second landfall Wednesday morning near Cameron, La. after leaving Texas with 51.88 inches of water. Roughly 2,000 people have been rescued and 30 deaths have been reported.

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Jussie Smollett attends the 2018 Fox Network Upfront at Wollman Rink, Central Park on May 14, 2018 in New York City.
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Men Arrested In Jussie Smollett Attack Released From Custody Without Charge

The two men arrested and questioned by Chicago Police are no longer considered persons of interest in the Jussie Smollett attack. Olabijo and Abimbola Osundairo were released without charge “due to new evidence” in the case, police spokesperson Anthony Guglielmo said Friday (Feb. 15).

“The individuals questioned by police in the 'Empire' case have now been released without charging,” Guglielmo tweeted.

Authorities initially arrested the Osundairo brothers on battery charges. Guglielmo also added that  “investigators have additional work to complete.”

Case Update: Due to new evidence as a result of today's interrogations, the individuals questioned by police in the Empire case have now been released without charging and detectives have additional investigative work to complete. pic.twitter.com/Hswn1Qjgcy

— Anthony Guglielmi (@AJGuglielmi) February 16, 2019

Gloria Schmidt, an attorney for the brothers, told reporters that there are still a lot of “moving parts” in the case. “My guys are innocent of the charge and they're going home,” she said.

Smollett told authorities that he was attacked by two masked men who shouted racist and homophobic epithets before punching him, tying a nose around his neck and pouring bleach on him. He recounted the attack in an interview with Good Morning America Thursday (Feb. 14), telling anchor Robin Roberts that he fought back before the attackers fled.

Authorities raided the brothers home earlier in the week removing several items including bleach and rope.

Schmidt previously confirmed that the brothers worked with Smollett on Empire, and didn’t understand how they became “people of interest” in the case.

 

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Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid Reach Confidential Settlement With NFL In Collusion Case

Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid have reached a confidential settlement with the league Friday (Feb. 15). The agreement brings an end to their collusion lawsuit against the NFL more than a year after the legal bout began.

According to Yahoo Sports, the Kaepernick and Reid would only agreed to settle for a “lucrative financial agreement.” No other details about the terms of the settlement were released.

Kaepernick and Reid filed sued the NFL for collusion in October 2017. The league denied the allegations, but failed in their attempt to have the suit dismissed.

Attorneys Mark Geragos and Ben Meiselas said in a statement that Kaepernick and Reid have engaged in an “ongoing dialogue” with the NFL for the past “several months.”

“As a result of those discussions, the parties have decided to resolve the pending grievances,” the statement explains. “The resolution of this matter is subject to confidentiality agreement so there will be no further comment by any party.”

The NFL Players Association released a statement of support. “We are not privy to the details of the settlement, but support the decision by the players and their counsel,” the statement reads.

“We continuously supported Colin and Eric from the start of their protests, participated with their lawyers throughout their legal proceedings and were prepared to participate in the upcoming trial in pursuit of both truth and justice for what we believe the NFL and its clubs did to them. We are glad that Eric has earned a job and a new contract, and we continue to hope that Colin gets his opportunity as well.”

Jerry Jones, Bob McNair, Robert Craft and several other NFL owners and players were deposed in the case. Reid was recently signed to the Carolina Panthers. Kaepernick remains unsigned.

pic.twitter.com/5sdcGSuwvW

— Mark Geragos (@markgeragos) February 15, 2019

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Jussie Smollett attends the 2018 Fox Network Upfront at Wollman Rink, Central Park on May 14, 2018 in New York City.
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Potential Suspects Arrested In Connection To Jussie Smollett Attack

A new development has been made in the investigation surrounding the Jan. 29 attack on Empire actor, Jussie Smollett. The Chicago Police have arrested two "potential suspects" by the names of Olabinjo and Abimola Osundairo. The Nigerian brothers are United States citizens, one of which has been an extra on Fox's Empire.

"Detectives have probable cause that they may have been involved in alleged crime and we are working to corroborate the allegations and investigative timeline as our investigation continues," the police said in a statement to ABC News.

Evidence was found in the Osundairo brothers' Chicago apartment when the cops raided their home on Thursday (Feb. 14). Among the list of evidence found in their home were bottles of bleach, which was mentioned in Smollett's report. The two potential suspects were detained at Chicago O'Hare Airport Wednesday evening (Feb. 13) following a flight from Nigeria and their attorney Gloria Schmidt, has since spoken out to clear their names.

"When they first learned what happened to him, they were horrified. This is someone they know, someone that they work with, so they don't want to see somebody go through that," Schmidt said in a statement to the Chicago CBS station WBBM. "They really don't understand how [police] even got information that linked them to this horrific crime, but they're not guilty of it."

Smollett has had to deal with rumors surrounding the fact that his attack may have been "staged" or a "hoax" by the actor himself. The 36-year-old actor appeared on Good Morning America to clear up the hearsay.

"I have to acknowledge the lies, and the hate," Smollet said to Robin Roberts. "And it feels like if I had said it was a Muslim, or a Mexican, or someone black, I feel like the doubters would have supported me much more. A lot more, and that says a lot about the place that we are in our country right now."

The Chicago Police also released a statement of their own on Thursday evening (Feb. 14).

"While we haven't found any video documenting the alleged attack, there is also no evidence to say that this is a hoax," Chicago police said to ABC News. "The alleged victim is being cooperative at this time and continues to be treated as a victim, not a suspect."

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