Socialite Who Yelled at Family for Photo Shoot May Have History of Confrontations, Videos Show
The Texas socialite who yelled at a family for staging a 1-year-old birthday photo shoot on a sidewalk may have a history of such encounters.
Videos submitted to local Houston station KTRK appear to show the woman, identified as Franci Neely, challenging others along the same stretch of the Broadacres sidewalk, which is popular among photographers in the area.
In one video, the woman confronts a group of friends snapping prom photos.
"It is breaking a law to obstruct a walkway," the woman says in the video.
"What law?" replies the man filming.
They go back and forth a bit before the woman warns the group she'll call security if they're not gone in three minutes.
The incident allegedly took place in spring 2018, according to Mario Montemayor, who submitted the footage and whose daughter was among the group posing for photos.
"I still feel violated that someone could just come up to you," Montemayor told KTRK. "They didn't like where you were. It was a free space. It was disturbing. I don't think she committed a crime, but she was very rude."
Neely, a well-known socialite and the ex-wife of the owner of the Houston Astros baseball team, apologized after the footage emerged of her earlier this week shouting at the family celebrating their 1-year-old's birthday on Saturday. Kelyn and Isaiah Allen had laid out a blanket and set up balloons to capture their child's special day when Neely descended on them, upset that they had set up their props in the middle of the sidewalk.
Isaiah recorded the incident, during which Neely appears to strike his camera. “I’m still shocked, I’m still shaking,” he told KTRK afterward.
Neely was also caught on camera moving the child’s blanket from the sidewalk before heading back to her Jaguar convertible parked on the street.
She said she was sorry but explained that she had witnessed three commercial photo shoots that day and was frustrated they were blocking the walkways.
“I am very sorry that I got upset on late Saturday afternoon," Neely said in a statement. "... 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.”
In another incident, it appeared she confronted someone in the area when they were taking photos. In that incident from a couple years ago, Neely seemed to take aim at a man's cellphone. Video of that encounter was also submitted to KTRK after Saturday's incident.
"You pay to maintain this?" she asks.
The man replies that he pays taxes, so yes.
Asked about that incident by KTRK, Neely claimed the man taunted her.
The City of Houston confirmed that the sidewalks in question are public property, though the homeowners association is fighting the city, claiming the property was deeded to the group nearly a century ago.
"The esplanades of Broadacres are part of a public city of Houston right-of-way," the city said in a statement. "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 are asked to call 311."
Cece Fowler, president of the Broadacres Homeowners Association, said that frustrated residents are reaching their breaking point, even putting up signs at one point in 2017 in an effort to deter photographers from staging shoots there. But the city made them take them down, saying the group didn't have permission to ban photo shoots.
"We had to take a stand is what we basically had to do because people were going into people's gardens, standing on people's front steps and they felt that they could just take over the neighborhood," she told KTRK.