New Jersey Airbnb House Party with More Than 700 People Broken Up By Authorities
Three people have been charged with violating New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy's executive order limiting gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic after throwing a 700-person Airbnb house party in Jackson Township.
The homeowner, Yaakov Weiss, 40, and party organizers, Patience Guanue, 23, and Alicia Hinneh, 22, have all been charged after police spent almost five fours shutting down the mass gathering.
Captain Steven Laskiewicz of Jackson Police Department said in a Facebook post that officers first responded to Mill Pond Road in the Whispering Hill neighborhood around 8:30 p.m. on Sunday on report of a "suspicious incident."
Upon arrival, officers learned from neighbors that a house on the street had been rented out via Airbnb to host a party. Weiss, the homeowner, was contacted by police and confirmed he was hosting a party, but soon left his residence “when an estimated 200 additional people arrived at the residence.”
The party crowd then grew to an estimated 700 people with over 100 vehicles parked in the area, Laskiewicz said.
Police continued to receive 911 calls from neighbors reporting disturbances and trespassing. One caller even claimed that partygoers had broken into their home and were damaging property, but police later determined one of the caller’s family members had attended the party and invited the others inside.
Officers eventually decided to enter the residence and began to clear out the large crowd, which took until 1:00 a.m. with the help of various other police departments and the New Jersey State Police.
Weiss, Guanue and Hinneh were each issued summons by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office for violating Murphy's executive order, which currently mandates that all outdoor gatherings be less than 500 people and indoor gatherings have fewer than 100 people.
Guane and Hinneh did not immediately repsond to PEOPLE's request for comment. Representation for Weiss was not immediatley available to reach for comment.
Murphy, 62, expressed his outrage at the news of the 700-person party during his coronavirus news conference on Monday.
"Come on folks! Come on," the governor said. "That's needlessly putting men and women in uniform and their families at risk."
Airbnb spokesperson Ben Breit told CNN that the online rental company has removed both of the party organizers from its platform, as well as the listing for the NJ rental property.
"We 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," Breit said.
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