It was 7 p.m. and getting dark outside when I hit the bell. Kimberly Brooks came to the door and flicked on the porch light, then switched it back off and turned away. Unsure what to do, I stood there for a minute then buzzed again.
This time, the husband came. John Brooks strode across the living room, passing a naked toddler and swinging a handgun. He opened the door, the pistol out in front of him. I raised my arms and introduced myself as a reporter for the Press.
“I-I-I didn’t mean to scare you,” I said.
“You don’t scare me,” he said.
This week’s cover story is about families such as the Brookses who unknowingly bought houses on toxic land, then became pariahs in their own neighborhood for complaining and seeking retribution.
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It takes place in Woodwind Lakes, a large upscale subdivision built atop an old oil and gas field in northwest Houston. Parts of Woodwind Lakes are so contaminated they are currently being evaluated for the federal and state Superfund programs.
The story shows how key state regulatory agencies failed to ensure public safety. And it features small-fry county officials who used their clout to settle petty disputes and punish enemies.
But, mostly, it’s about neighbors behaving badly.
Woodwind Lakes is marketed as “an exquisite waterfront and wooded community similar to The Woodlands and close-in to most everything.” It’s also a community where neighbors spread vicious lies and greet unwelcome guests at gunpoint. -- Todd Spivak