A woman bombarded a baby’s birthday photo shoot, ordering the family to leave her high-end neighborhood, and allegedly struck the father while he filmed the confrontation on his cellphone.
On Saturday, a Houston, Texas couple, Kelyn Alyssa and Isaiah Allen, visited a public esplanade to take professional photos of their 1-year-old daughter, one of several groups shooting on the stretch of land.
“About 35 minutes into our 1-hour shoot we heard a voice shouting in our direction — and when we turned to look it was this woman rolling up in her car, shouting through her window, “You are trampling the grass that WE pay for,'” Kelyn posted on Facebook.
Kelyn said the woman — whom local news reports including Houston news station KTRK has named as socialite Franci Neely, the ex-wife of Houston Astros baseball team owner Jim Crane — got out of a blue Jaguar barefoot, holding a small dog. “She marches towards us and upon arriving, takes a look at my 11 mth old daughter and releases her unleashed dog, who at the time could not walk and was sitting peacefully on the pathway,” wrote Kelyn.
The woman’s dog, Kelyn said, came “dangerously close” to Kelyn’s baby. “The lady begins shouting at us that we are on private property and that she will not restrain her dog because she can do whatever she wants there,” she wrote. “I told her if her dog damages my child I will be pressing charges and she takes out her phone, starting to record me, asking me if I was threatening her…”
Isaiah took video of Neely. “Shame on you,” the couple shouted when she walked away. When Kelyn said, “You brought your dog here to bite my child,” Neely returned.
“She is crazy,” said Neely, hitting Isaiah (or his phone) a few times. “Look at what you’re doing, this is my neighborhood,” she said. Then, to the photographer, “You have brought these people — you are crazy.”
Neely moved the couple’s photography props off the path, and Kelyn told her, “You are racist.” The woman returned to her car and threatened to call the police.
“When my husband spoke to a police officer following this craziness he confirmed what we already knew — we were doing nothing wrong because we were on public property,” Kelyn wrote on Facebook. “The photographers in the vicinity all approached us afterward completely appalled by this woman’s behavior, and confused as to why they weren’t targeted by her at all.”
John Cannon, a spokesperson from the Houston Police Department tells Yahoo Lifestyle that a report filed that evening by the family documents an “irate woman” between the ages of 55 and 60, yelling at them to leave the area, moving their belongings, and trying to knock Isaiah’s cellphone from his hands, striking his hand and arm. “At this time, no arrests have been made or charges filed,” Cannon said. The department has not released the suspect’s name.
Kelyn told Yahoo Lifestyle that her family is not making public comments, but said they will release a formal statement through their attorney “very soon.”
According to the Houston Chronicle, foot traffic along North Boulevard has upset the Broadacres Homeowners Association (HOA), which was mandated to remove 2017 signs prohibiting photo shoots. Broadacres president Cece Fowler told the Houston Chronicle that the HOA owns the grass.
A Houston Public Works spokesperson told Yahoo Lifestyle that the grass is maintained by the Broadacres Homeowners Association, but that the entire esplanade is owned by the city. “The esplanades of Broadacres are part of a public City of Houston right-of-way,” the spokesperson said in a statement to Yahoo Lifestyle. “The Broadacres Homeowners Association cannot block the esplanades from public use. Anyone with concerns about members of the public blocking a public right-of-way is asked to call 311.”
Neely told KTRK, “The Broadacres Homeowners Association invests lots of money paying to maintain the trees, grass and walkways in our neighborhood. The high volume of commercial photography damages the property that Broadacres HOA pays to maintain and interferes with dog walkers and others who merely want to walk under the pretty trees. We asked the commercial photographers to please stop.”
ANOTHER PHOTO SHOOT FIGHT: An @abc13houston viewer sent us this video of the same woman who confronted a family’s photo shoot this weekend. Why she told me she took aim at the camera at 10:00 p.m. https://t.co/aGueabb59j pic.twitter.com/aMCvvCHAXL
— Nick Natario (@NickABC13) February 19, 2019
“I am very sorry that I got upset on late Saturday afternoon,” wrote Neely. “Putting it in context, however: I saw three commercial photography shoots in one block at the same time, something that happens frequently. When I explained the situation to the first and third groups, they were respectful. The couple whose photo shoot obstructed the walkway was not. It’s hard to remain composed when confronted by shouted threats of lawsuits and false, inflammatory accusations.”
A KTRK journalist tweeted a video of Neely confronting another photographer several years ago on the path. “Do you pay to maintain this?” she asked the person filming. The man responded, “I pay taxes, yes,” whereupon Neely allegedly struck his cellphone. She told the station she “reacted” after the man “taunted her” about her neighborhood.
A Houston father named Mario Montemayor sent KTRK a video of his daughter and her friends in an altercation with a woman while taking photos for their 2018 spring prom. “If you are not gone in three minutes…” she warned the group. “I live here, you son of a b****.” KTRK wasn’t able to confirm whether the woman in the video was Neely.
Yahoo Lifestyle could not find contact information for Neely.
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