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Houston police are investigating an incident that was caught on video of a mixed-race couple being confronted by a white woman during their baby’s birthday photo shoot in an upscale neighborhood.
Kelyn and Isaiah Allen said they were having professional photos taken of their 11-month-old daughter about 5:30 p.m. Feb. 16 in Broadacres, near Houston's Museum District, when they were approached by a white woman who yelled at them and told them to stay off the grass on the esplanade.
Other photographers were also using the path on the esplanade, the couple said.
Kelyn Allen, who is black, uploaded to Facebook a video her husband recorded during the incident that has been viewed more than 2.6 million times.
In her post, Kelyn Allen said that the white woman, identified by local media outlets as Franci Neely, ex-wife of Houston Astros owner Jim Crane, emerged barefoot from a Jaguar convertible carrying a cellphone and her dog, which she later released unleashed.
"In the midst of her shouting, I immediately and calmly asked her to restrain her dog as it made a beeline for the baby and it was coming dangerously close to my child," Kelyn Allen wrote. "I actually crouched next to the baby and put my hand out to try to shoo this strange dog away."
Neely refused to restrain her dog, the couple said, allegedly telling them that "she can do whatever she wants." She passed other photographers as she approached the multiethnic couple and their photographer, they said.
The couple's photographer approached Neely to try to defuse the situation, the baby's mother said.
Neely allegedly told the photographer that she brought “these” people into “her” neighborhood.
“At this point, the lady stomps toward my baby and starts aggressively trying to remove the props placed around her, startling me," Kelyn Allen wrote, adding that the baby started to scream and crawl away from Neely. “This did not deter her and she continued — my husband and the photographer quickly approached her to block her from doing this, and at this point, I started to shout at the lady about her aggression upsetting my child.”
Kelyn Allen on Tuesday told NBC News that her lawyer had advised her not to discuss the incident beyond her Facebook post.
Her husband, Isaiah Allen, filed a complaint with police in which he alleged the woman approached his family "and physically assaulted him." He stated the woman also "screamed at him and his wife and verbally harassed them," according to the complaint.
The video has caused some to speculate whether race played a factor.
The Houston Police Department told NBC News on Tuesday that its major assaults division is investigating the incident. The Police Department said it was not releasing the woman's name because no charges had been filed.
Neely could not immediately be reached for comment but has issued an apology.
“A week ago, I let my emotions overtake my better self,” she said in a video posted to YouTube on Saturday. “And I apologize from the bottom of my heart. To my family, friends, neighbors and fellow Houstonians, I ask for forgiveness and understanding. I love Houston and ask that we come together to heal, and I extend my hand in friendship.”
The area has been a destination for photographers and their subjects for years because of its photogenic landscape. The city of Houston has said that the esplanades are public, but according to local media reports, the Broadacres Homeowners Association has argued that while the streets and brick sidewalks are owned by the city, the grass is owned by the Broadacres Trust.