A wild, wild wedding Where the West Begins

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on December 23, 2012 at 11:32 PM

Updated Sunday, Dec 23 at 11:58 PM

FORT WORTH — The evening was destined to be a night to remember, and for Brian Luenser, it’s something he’ll never forget.

“It was a massive response... biggest I’ve seen in my seven years downtown,” he said. “I didn’t know (the city) had that many police cars.”

Late Friday evening, dozens of Fort Worth officers converged on the Renaissance Worthington Hotel downtown for a large wedding celebration that, police say, had gotten wildly out of control.

Luenser, an amateur photographer, happened to be passing the hotel. Never far from his camera, he began snapping pictures — struck by the images of genteel wedding guests losing their composure.

“They were incredibly well-dressed... I saw Ferraris and things,” he pointed out. “Just a lot of evening gowns, fancy jewelry. It was really a high-end wedding, I would have thought.”

Police said the problems began when some of the guests among the 340 people inside started stealing liquor from the bars and breaking into fights.

Fort Worth officers J.W. Reynolds and D.W. Frazier were off-duty providing security for the wedding, but still in uniform. Tempers flared, Reynolds wrote in a report, when hotel management decided to cut off the flow of alcohol.

It was a move that prompted guests to angrily express their displeasure with hotel staff and the officers.

According to a police report, Edward McDonald, a 29-year-old guest from South Dakota, yelled, “I’m a white man. Who are these people to refuse to serve me liquor?”

Racial slurs followed, as did violence inside the hotel’s Grand Ballroom.

A relative of Edward McDonald, Martin McDonald, kneed a police officer. That officer then fired his Taser at the 32-year-old Benbrook man. Martin McDonald was arrested for assault on a public servant.

Edward McDonald was later arrested for making a terroristic threat.

Yet the violence continued.

Officers described a chaotic scene inside the upscale hotel. Intoxicated guests, reports claim, were throwing drinks and ice at police. Back-up officers were summoned. Dozens of people started screaming at arriving officers.

“Frazier and I both called for backup using our radios and held our ground,” Officer Reynolds wrote in his report. “During this time I was pushed, pulled and my watchband was torn from my wrist.”

Police felt so threatened that, at one point, officers formed a crowd control line in front of the hotel.

“It was like wedding people on one side, police on the other,” Luenser observed. "Kind of like a line in the sand; kind of like a riot, except everyone was dressed to the hilt.”

Eventually the crowd dispersed. Another man, Peter McNally, 24, from Georgia, was arrested for assault and public intoxication.

What remains unclear is how the young couple celebrating their wedding is handling being upstaged on their big night. News 8 was unable to reach them for comment.

Yet Luenser has trove of photos to offer them, if they’re interested.

“The pictures that I took, I don’t think are going to wind up in her scrapbook,” he said with a laugh. “They might end up in my scrapbook, but they’re not going to be in hers.”

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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