Two illegal Halloween parties attended by hundreds of revellers drinking and dancing inside warehouses were broken up by New York City authorities in Brooklyn and in the Bronx over consecutive nights this weekend.
Twenty-one people were arrested and more than 550 people were ordered to leave an illegal gathering at 1420 Seabury Avenue in the Bronx early Sunday morning.
Sheriff Joseph Fucito and his deputies were conducting surveillance outside the warehouse, located near Westchester Square, after receiving a tip and watched as dozens of people dressed in costumes entered the building through a rear entrance.
The officers heard loud music coming from inside the warehouse and moved in to bust the gathering at 1:30am.
Twenty-one people were arrested and more than 550 people were ordered to leave an illegal gathering at 1420 Seabury Avenue in the Bronx early Sunday morning (shown above)
The event featured two live DJs, a large walk-up bar, multiple bathrooms and a food truck set up in a parking lot. The property was not licensed to sell alcohol
Once inside, they say they found at least 557 attendees – many of whom were not wearing face coverings – crowded together and drinking.
Additionally, the event had two live DJs, a large ‘walk up’ bar, multiple bathrooms, and a food truck that had been set up in the loading dock.
Photos from inside the party match the sheriff’s office’s description of the event, with hundreds of revellers packed tightly together on the dance floor, in violation of social distancing protocol.
Deputies also found large amounts of alcohol at the bar and in a number of storage locations. The location was not licensed by the New York State Liquor Authority to serve or store any type of alcoholic beverages, officials said.
Police arrested 21 people who they say are responsible for organizing the event. They were charged for violating Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s executive orders that restrict nonessential gatherings during the coronavirus.
Fines for these types of violations can go from $1,000 to $15,000.
The apparent organizers, who haven’t been named, were later released after receiving criminal court appearance tickets and civil summonses.
One business, Abe V. Systems, was also charged with failure to comply with the NYC Health Code, failure to protect health and safety, and various Alcoholic Beverage Control laws.
A spokesperson for the company told the New York Times that they had rented the building out for a virtual event but only recently found out about the party.
Less than 24 hours earlier, a party in with nearly 400 people was broken up by city sheriffs in a Warehouse in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Sheriff Joseph Fucito and his deputies were conducting surveillance outside the warehouse, located near Westchester Square, after receiving a tip and watched as dozens of people dressed in costumes entered the building through a rear entrance
The officers heard loud music coming from inside the warehouse and moved in to bust the gathering at 1:30am
Less than 24 hours earlier, a party in with nearly 400 people was broken up by city sheriffs in a Warehouse in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (shown above)
When deputies arrived just after 1am, they discovered at least 387 people in attendance, which again violated the city’s large gatherings mandate.
Photos shared by the sheriff’s office showed guests standing shoulder-to-shoulder inside the warehouse, with only some wearing facemasks.
The event also featured Halloween decorations, a D.J. and three bars inside, the sheriff’s office said. Eight people and one business, Norman Kingsland LLC, face charges and fines in connection with the party.
Norman Kingsland LLC have been charged with failing to protect the health and safety of its guests. Additional charges also include hiring an unlicensed security guard, disorderly conduct, obstructing governmental administration, and resisting arrest.
City officials urged residents to avoid large gatherings and follow social distancing rules across the Halloween weekend, as the coronavirus continues to ravage across the state and country.
A spokesperson for Mayor de Blasio told The Times that the ‘vast majority of New Yorkers celebrated Halloween responsibly last night.’
He added: ‘Those who didn’t should probably think hard about how long they want this pandemic to last. As always, we’re grateful to the sheriff’s team for fighting to prevent a second wave.’
De Blasio was also questioned over the two events during his daily press briefing on Monday morning.
The mayor credited the sheriff’s office for their ‘outstanding job’ in uncovering and foiling the two events, and others like it in weeks prior.
He continued: ‘I think the story here in New York City , compared to a lot of the cities in the world, is that you’ve seen less of those events proportionately – that’s the good news. I think people here have taken the rules a lot more seriously here than in other places.
‘But you still need enforcement and consequences. They gave a number of summons, including the highest level summonses for $15,000. But what is done to help the folks there know that they need to get tested?
‘That’s an area we need to focus on going forward, making sure people know if they’re at the event – we’d like to think already that they know they shouldn’t be there – then they’re reminded how important it is to get tested,’ de Blasio continued.
The city’s health commissioner, Dr. Dave Chokshi, concurred, adding: ‘The most important thing is for anyone who has been at a large gathering it’s important to get tested immediately.
‘That’s important because it helps us ensure that anyone who has a positive test is isolated, so that interrupts the spread of the virus. But it also allows our contract tracing to commence for that exposure as well.’
When deputies arrived at the Brooklyn warehouse just after 1am Saturday, they discovered at least 387 people in attendance, which again violated the city’s large gatherings mandate
Gov. Cuomo’s office has reported that 177 restaurants, bars, and venues have been cited for violating the state’s COVID-19 protocols that restrict large indoor gatherings.
The two parties in Brooklyn and the Bronx speak to the challenge of keeping the spread of the coronavirus in check, particularly as winter approaches and people grow weary of social distancing rules.
De Blasio said Friday that the city’s infection rate was up to 1.56 percent, with Cuomo revealing Saturday the statewide positive COVID-19 rate was 1.53 percent.
While the latter figure is among the lowest in the country, both Cuomo and de Blasio have voiced concern that the numbers may rise, having already increased since the beginning of September where the city positivity rate was below one percent.
Outbreaks in Brooklyn and Queens last month raised concerns that the city, once the US epicentre, could be approaching a second wave of the virus.
Restrictions were ramped up in certain neighborhoods. And de Blasio said Friday the situation appeared to be stabilizing.
Sheriff Fucito said on Sunday that his office has responded to break up at least one large event every evening for the last three months.
‘Making a difference is a very hard thing to justify in law enforcement, you don’t know what you’ve deterred,’ he told the Times. ‘Maybe you deterred one event or two events.’
As of Monday, New York City has recorded more than 269,000 coronavirus cases and 24,013 deaths.
News of the Halloween parties came as the U.S. tracked record one-day totals for COVID-19 last week. Friday saw the country amass more than 90,000 cases.
Since the pandemic took hold in March, there have been 9.2 million cases of coronavirus reported, with more than 231,000 deaths.