coronavirus

Man Apologizes for Throwing Chicago House Party During Coronavirus

The homeowner was working a 24-hour shift as a first responder when her son threw a large gathering that went viral

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A man who threw a massive gathering despite a statewide stay-at-home order said he feels "remorseful" for throwing the party and is encouraging everyone who attended to get tested for coronavirus.

Janeal Wright, 26, said the party last weekend was intended to honor the lives of two friends gunned down by violence, but it quickly ballooned to a number he never anticipated.

"I feel very remorseful for the neighbors, you know, moreso my mother, you know I didn't want all the stress to be on her," Wright said.

Wright used his mother's home to host the event while she was at work, on a 24-hour shift as a first responder in Chicago.

"I was astounded when I saw the video," his mother told NBC 5 in an exclusive interview Tuesday.

Video from the party went viral, with Chicago's mayor condemning the event that violated the state's stay-at-home order. Wright's mother, who asked to remain anonymous because of her occupation, was also cited by police Monday over the gathering.

"I came home, my house was clean, nothing was out of place," she said. "And after that, some police came to my house and said, 'Were you aware that it was a party at your house?' And I was like, 'No, I wasn't aware.' And then they showed me the video."

Shocking video of an apparent house party in Chicago amid the coronavirus pandemic drew national attention and outrage from local leaders. Sandra Torres reports.

The woman said she was furious with her son because she hasn't seen her family in weeks in order to maintain social distancing due to risks associated with her job.

"I haven't seen my family in two months because I don't want.. because of my job I don't want to expose them to anything," she said. "So if I'm doing social distancing, then I most definitely don't condone this type of behavior."

Wright admitted he knew his mother would be at work at the time. He apparently deactivated the home’s video doorbell, so that his mother wouldn’t get notified of the increased activity at the house.

"With us being young, us being millennials, like the mayor said, we didn't really know how severe this was," he said. "It really hasn't been hitting home for us like that, but now I see the error of everything."

Chicago police say that officers were dispatched to the residence just after midnight Sunday morning.

Lightfoot blasted the partygoers, saying their reckless behavior in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic was "distressing." 

"They put themselves at risk, but not only that, every single person there who put themselves at risk puts the next person and the next person that they come into contact with at risk," she said. "That’s why, for me, that scene is so distressing."

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was asked a series of questions Monday about everything from playing Chicago baseball without fans to a viral video that showed a large weekend house party on the city’s West Side.

State Rep. LaShawn K. Ford said he disagreed with the decision to cite Wright's mother.

"I’m hoping that she is not penalized for something that her young children did," Ford had said earlier Monday.

Chicago police have advised the Chicago Department of Public Health about the incident, and the department plans to follow up on the incident to "ensure any health risks that could have arisen from this party are monitored and mitigated," according to a statement.

Those measures do not include testing party-goers, but they could still be tested if they begin showing symptoms of the virus.

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