HOUSTON – It was supposed to be a memorable moment for the parents of a soon-to-be 1-year-old girl, but the photo shoot to capture the milestone will be remembered for a different reason.
The Allen family said while taking pictures and 30 minutes into their photo shoot a woman, who KPRC2 has identified as Franci Neely, started to harass them. They also accused Neely of putting her hands on the father as he recorded the encounter.
“These were our first professional shots we have taken of the baby since she’s been born,” said Kelyn Allen, the mother. “It was something that was supposed to be very special for us, and I hate the fact that, when I look at these pictures, this is what I have to remember.”
Broadacres, which is near the Museum District, has become a popular spot for people to take pictures for weddings engagements, birthdays and other occasions, because of the beautiful landscape.
Isaiah Allen and his wife, Kelyn Allen, were excited about their daughter Anja’s first birthday and wanted to capture the moment with a photo shoot.
Initially, they had planned on taking pictures at Hermann Park, but it was too busy, so their photographer suggested Broadacres. It happened to be the same spot where the Allens had their engagement pictures taken, and they did not have a problem there in the past.
“It was pretty quiet. There were some other photographers taking pictures, people walking their dogs, couples, so it was pretty peaceful, pretty quiet,” Isaiah Allen said. “A lot of people said, 'Cute baby.' They were smiling, that sort of thing.”
But the Allen family said that all changed when Neely pulled up and approached them. They were repositioning some of the props when Neely drove up in a Jaguar.
The video shows Neely walk up to them barefoot, with a cellphone in her hand and carrying her Pomeranian.
“She’s yelling things like, “You’re trampling the grass, that we pay for, you need to leave,’ even though we were on the walkway talking the picture,” said Isaiah Allen. "She said, ‘You’re on private property. You need to get your stuff out now.' (She was) very aggressive, in our face. It was escalating to the point where my wife suggested I start recording.”
In the video, you can see Neely getting close to the family, while her dog was not on a leash.
“I also feel like she endangered my child by bringing the dog, I asked her to restrain her dog and she refused to do that and I thought she was endangering my child and clearly she didn’t pick up the dog until long after,” said Kelyn Allen.
Isaiah Allen said their child started crying, and as he recorded, Neely walked up to him and swatted the camera.
“I don’t know if she was trying to move my camera because she basically hit my hand, so I don’t know if she was trying to attack me, she did make contact with my hand, she never once said stop recording me,” explained Isaiah Allen.
The family also accused Neely of tampering with their balloons.
“She was talking to the photographer and said things like, 'You brought these people into our neighborhood, look what you’ve done,' so it’s pretty disgusting, you know, her conduct,” explained the father.
Photo shoots in the neighborhood have been a topic of discussion in the past by the Broadacres Home Owners Association, which had tried to ban photo shoots located on the North, South and West Boulevards, but in 2017 the city said the esplanades are in the right of way.
The Allen family said they did not know about the past drama.
“We had no idea that taking shots at that location was so contentious. I think had we known, I wouldn’t have gone. Our intention is never to offend anyone ... I think it wasn’t worth that,” said Kelyn Allen.
The Allen family called the police and filed a police report and plan to press charges.
In an effort to get her side of the story, KPRC2 went to Neely’s home, but the person who came to the door said they declined to comment.
The Allen family said they did not know Neely and were surprised by her behavior.
“We did not know who she was, we just thought she was a crazy lady who had nothing else better to do on a Saturday afternoon," said Isaiah Allen. “It doesn’t matter who you are, the golden rule is you should treat others how you want to treat you.”
Editor's note: KPRC2 originally blurred Neely's face because she has not been charged with a crime. After further editorial discussion, we have decided to unblur her face moving forward.