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Cops: Brookhaven party with nearly 400 broken up over pandemic violations

A Brookhaven home where Suffolk police said a

A Brookhaven home where Suffolk police said a party with up to 400 people expected was broken up early Monday.   Credit: Google Earth

A planned party in Brookhaven with up to 500 attendees was broken up over violations of pandemic restrictions before it could start, as hundreds descended on the neighborhood, Suffolk's police chief said Tuesday.

Between 300 and 400 people amassed early Monday morning at 51 Hawkins Lane, a 5,000-square-foot home on a 10-acre property on a dead-end street, said Suffolk County Police Chief of Department Stuart Cameron.

"We were able to break this party up — quite a lot of people were still in their cars — so we reduced their opportunity to expose themselves to each other, which, I think was great. I think we kind of averted a real potential superspreader event," he said.

The owner of the home rented it to a New Jersey resident who was planning to host the party, Cameron said.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, at a coronavirus news conference Tuesday, said, "We have seen this before, and we have responded before."

Since spring, when New York State banned most large gatherings, there have been occasional parties held in violation of pandemic restrictions meant to halt the spread of the deadly coronavirus and broken up by the police. In September, Nassau police broke up a giant "pop-up" house party in East Meadow publicized as being at a "secret location." And the next month, Suffolk police broke up a party with 200 to 300 people in Farmingville, following multiple complaints to 911.

What made the Brookhaven party different, Bellone said, was that "the host of the party was not the homeowner, but it was somebody who had rented the home on Airbnb and was using the home to host this mass gathering."

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Cameron said the department found out about the party from 911 calls about 12:25 a.m. Monday that reported suspicious cars with some racing, others "bumper to bumper on the street with more cars coming."

Officers wound up being on the scene for close to four hours, he said.

"Clearly, there’s no question that an event like this is a public health issue," Cameron said, adding that whoever threw the party, once the person is identified, would be criminally prosecuted, including, potentially, with a nuisance charge and for violating the public health law, with possible civil fines up to $15,000.

"You cannot come in from out of state and not be bound by the restrictions," he said, adding, though, that the partygoers dispersed when asked.

"The attendees were very cooperative. We told them that they had to leave, we were not given a hard time by anyone," Cameron said. "It was just a logistical challenge to move that many vehicles and that many people out of a dead-end street in a tight residential community."

The homeowner could not be reached for comment. An article in 2014 about the owner, rapper Kid Panic, said the home, built in the form of a castle, had been featured in magazine, television and music video shoots. The home has appeared on Animal Planet’s "It’s Me or the Dog."

With Vera Chinese

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