What to Know
- Three people were arrested after police spent nearly five hours breaking up a party at a residence in Jackson Township Sunday, the local police department said.
- Police subsequently contacted the homeowner who allegedly told officers he had rented out the residence on AirBnB and was hosting a large party. The homeowner then left the area as an estimated 200 additional people arrived at the residence and the party began to expand, police said.
- As additional people continued to arrive, the crowd at the residence grew to more than 700 people. All of the on-duty Jackson Township police officers responded as the roads into the neighborhood were shut down because more party goers were still arriving, police said.
Three people were arrested after police spent nearly five hours breaking up a party at a residence in Jackson Township Sunday, the local police department said.
On Sunday, at around 8:30 p.m., officers responded to a residence located on Mill Pond Road in the Whispering Hill neighborhood on the report of a suspicious incident. When they arrived, officers spoke with numerous residents who claimed that a home on the street had been rented out to a group that was having a large party which was causing a disturbance and also appeared to be in violation of Gov. Phil Murphy's executive order pertaining to the number of attendees.
According to Jackson Township Police, officers monitored the area and observed a large crowd at the residence. Police subsequently contacted the homeowner who allegedly told officers he had rented out the residence on AirBnB and was hosting a large party. The homeowner then left the area as an estimated 200 additional people arrived at the residence and the party began to expand, police said.
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As additional people continued to arrive, the crowd at the residence grew to more than 700 people with over 100 vehicles parked in the area as police began receiving 911 calls from other homeowners reporting disturbances and trespassing, police said.
As the crowd grew, all of the on-duty Jackson Township police officers responded as the roads into the neighborhood were shut down because more party goers were still arriving, police said, adding that officers from the Freehold Police Department, Howell Police Department, Lakewood Police Department, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, Ocean County Sheriff’s Department and New Jersey State Police also responded to assist and clear the large crowd from the residence and direct traffic as people left the area.
During this time, the department received a 911 call from an Overlook Drive resident reporting that people who had left the Mill Pond Road party had broken into their residence and were damaging property, police said, adding that a family member of the caller who had been at the original party allegedly had invited a large group from the party back to the residence. Additional officers responded and the unwanted group was dispersed from this second residence.
It took until about 1 a.m. for the officers to clear the residences of the party attendees and all of the vehicles from the neighborhood without any further incidents.
The homeowner, who was identified as Yaakov Weiss, 40 and of Jackson, and party organizers Patience Guanue, 23, and Alicia Hinneh, 22, both of Newark, were issued summonses for violating the Governor’s Executive Order, according to police.
Attorney information for the homeowner and the party organizers was not immediately known.
In a statement, Airbnb said they "strongly condemn the reported behavior, which represents both a clear violation of Airbnb's community policies and a particularly serious abuse during this public health crisis." The home-sharing site also said it had deactivated the listing, and removed the party organizers from the platform.
For weeks, Murphy has been reminding the public to avoid parties and massive social gatherings in an effort to detain the spread of coronavirus.
During his Monday coronavirus press briefing, Murphy frustratingly commented, "C'mon folks! C'mon! By the way putting the health of police at risk here as well."
The governor ordered outdoor gatherings capped at 500 people because of the outbreak, with indoor gatherings limited to 25% of capacity or 100 people at most.
Murphy also went on to say that since the state is not allowing bars or indoor dining to reopen for the time being, these gatherings are being driven "underground."
"These are overwhelmingly gatherings of young people...but there is a big concern that a young person can get it and go home or go visit grandma and grandpa and pass this on unwillingly," Murphy said, adding that if one is going to gather, to gather outside, abide by social distancing norms and wear a mask.
Col. Pat Callahan, of the New Jersey State Police, shared similar thoughts.
"I do think the fact that bars and [indoor dining at] restaurants are closed then create this "underground situation" which is certainly not one that we want, because, to your point as well, young people, even if you are asymptomatic and your positive, the fact that you can transmit that to your family member is certainly one that concerns us," Callahan said.
This is not the first instance of wild parties with hundreds of attendees in New Jersey.
Last week, three individuals were also charged over a 400-person party that ended with two cops getting hit by a fleeing car.
Large gatherings have also been reported in neighboring New York. These scenes have prompted Gov. Andrew Cuomo to threaten rolling back on the state's reopening.