Gunfire In River Oaks

The "safest backyard in America" erupts in gunfire, explosions as Mayor Parker and police chief dine

Safest backyard in U.S. erupts in gunfire, explosions as mayor dines

7 Brooke Krenzelok and Ed Lem at the True Blue Gala October 2013
Brooke Krenzelok tries her hand at SWAT team weapons with  Ed Lem at the True Blue Gala. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
13 Tilman Fertitta, from left, Charles McClelland and Mayor Annise Parker at the True Blue Gala October 2013
Tilman Fertitta, from left, Police Chief Charles McClelland and Mayor Annise Parker at the True Blue Gala benefiting the Houston Police Foundation. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
25 fireworks at the True Blue Gala October 2013
Fireworks light up River Oaks during the Houston Police Foundation True Blue Gala. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
15 Laura Ward, left, with Lisa and Robert Miller at the True Blue Gala October 2013
Dinner chair Laura Ward, left, with honorary chairs Lisa and Robert Miller at the True Blue Gala. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
22 The venue in the Fertitta's back yard at the True Blue Gala October 2013
The "safest backyard in the nation" where 100 officers joined the Houston Police Foundtaion True Blue Gala. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
23 Tilman Fertitta, from left, Blayne Fertitta, Paige Fertitta and Blake Fertitta at the True Blue Gala October 2013
Tilman Fertitta, from left, Blayne Fertitta, Paige Fertitta and Blake Fertitta at the Houston Police Foundation True Blue Gala. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
5 Gregg and Jo Lynn Falgout at the True Blue Gala October 2013
Gregg and Jo Lynn Falgout at the Houston Police Foundation True Blue Gala. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
8 Paul Sommerville and Kristina Hornberger at the True Blue Gala October 2013
Paul Sommerville and Kristina Hornberger at the Houston Police Foundation True Blue Gala. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
2 Laura and Dave Ward at the True Blue Gala October 2013
Laura Ward and Dave Ward, both emcee and board member, at the Houston Police Foundation True Blue Gala. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
12 Cal and Hannah McNair, from left, Monica Hartland and John Blaisdell at the True Blue Gala October 2013
Cal and Hannah McNair, from left, Monica Hartland and John Blaisdell at the True Blue Gala. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
31 Lisa Malosky and Don Friedell at the True Blue Gala October 2013
Lisa Malosky and Don Friedell at the True Blue Gala. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
19 Police action at the True Blue Gala October 2013
Police capture a "robbery suspect" at the Houston Police Foundation True Blue Gala. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
11 Gary Becker and Kellie Letsos at the True Blue Gala October 2013
Gary Becker and Kellie Letsos at the True Blue Gala. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
6 Keith and Alice Mosing, from left, and Jerry and Lisa Simon at the True Blue Gala October 2013
Keith and Alice Mosing, from left, and Jerry and Lisa Simon at the True Blue Gala. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
10 Brad Marks and Joanna Hartland Marks at the True Blue Gala October 2013
Brad Marks and Joanna Hartland Marks at the True Blue Gala. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
29 Kolja and Myla Rockov, from left, Hayden Rockov and Roxanne Rockov at the True Blue Gala October 2013
Kolja and Myla Rockov, from left, Hayden Rockov and Roxanne Rockov at the True Blue Gala. Photo by © Michelle Watson/CatchLightGroup.com
7 Brooke Krenzelok and Ed Lem at the True Blue Gala October 2013
13 Tilman Fertitta, from left, Charles McClelland and Mayor Annise Parker at the True Blue Gala October 2013
25 fireworks at the True Blue Gala October 2013
15 Laura Ward, left, with Lisa and Robert Miller at the True Blue Gala October 2013
22 The venue in the Fertitta's back yard at the True Blue Gala October 2013
23 Tilman Fertitta, from left, Blayne Fertitta, Paige Fertitta and Blake Fertitta at the True Blue Gala October 2013
5 Gregg and Jo Lynn Falgout at the True Blue Gala October 2013
8 Paul Sommerville and Kristina Hornberger at the True Blue Gala October 2013
2 Laura and Dave Ward at the True Blue Gala October 2013
12 Cal and Hannah McNair, from left, Monica Hartland and John Blaisdell at the True Blue Gala October 2013
31 Lisa Malosky and Don Friedell at the True Blue Gala October 2013
19 Police action at the True Blue Gala October 2013
11 Gary Becker and Kellie Letsos at the True Blue Gala October 2013
6 Keith and Alice Mosing, from left, and Jerry and Lisa Simon at the True Blue Gala October 2013
10 Brad Marks and Joanna Hartland Marks at the True Blue Gala October 2013
29 Kolja and Myla Rockov, from left, Hayden Rockov and Roxanne Rockov at the True Blue Gala October 2013

It almost never happens that the tranquil and highly-secured neighborhood of River Oaks encounters a blast of gunshots, bombs exploding and scores of police on the move — except that one night each fall when Paige and Tilman Fertitta open the expansive grounds of their home for the Houston Police Foundation "True Blue" fundraiser. And that explains the hullabaloo that had River Oaks residents, at least temporarily, on edge last week.

Dozens of police cruisers with light bars and headlights flashing blindingly lined Willowick, pointing the way for the 650 guests that swarmed over the Fertitta backyard for the outdoor soiree that each year delivers an edgy police demonstration. The glamorous, resort-style surroundings were juxtaposed once again with the presence of 100 armed policemen including those from the K9 detail, the bomb squad, the dive team and the mounted patrol.

"The mayor does a good job of giving us what we need.  But there are some things that would be nice to have." 

Seated at the table where honoree Mayor Annise Parker and Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland took it all in, one dinner guest remarked, "This has to be the safest backyard in the nation." Indeed. That was until the serene setting was disrupted by the staged burglary as it erupted with gun fire (blanks), bombs, police dogs, lots of shouting, a perp in the pool and choppers overhead.

It was all in good fun on the evening that raised $650,000 for the Houston Police Foundation, which fills in HPD needs where city dollars might fall short. So it was no small thanks delivered by the mayor, the chief and party host Tilman, who chairs the foundation board. "The mayor does a good job of giving us what we need," McClelland told the gathering. "But there are some things that would be nice to have." 
 
Tilman pulled out the stops for this event, raising it back up to previous year's standards with elegant decor and endless servings of amazing fare — representing the best of the Landry's — served generously from buffet tables. The Tex-Mex from Cadillac Bar had guests swooning as did the grilled lobster, the boiled shrimp and all the other remarkable plates, not to mention the flowing margaritas and the generous wine pours.
 
Channel 13 news anchor Dave Ward emceed the evening for which entertainment included the lively sounds of David Caceres.
 
Among supporters who could try their shot with Taser guns, test their alcohol consumption in the DWI van, inspect SWAT team weapons and the like were Edna Meyer-Nelson, Hannah and Cal McNair, Kristina and Paul Somerville, Alice and Keith Mosing, Jo Lynn and Gregg Falgout, Ilene Allen and Doug Vrooman, Ellie and Michael Francisco, Wayne Smith and Denny Lyons and Gary Becker and Kellie Letsos.