If you're hoping to have a blowout party, advertising it on Twitter might not be your best option, especially if you intend to do it on county property and serve drinks to minors! Nathaniel Gray, 19, of Salem found that out the hard way after his ill thought out plan was busted up courtesy of the Marion County Sheriff's Office (MCSO). Mr. Gray was arrested for disorderly conduct, furnishing alcohol to a minor, offensive littering and providing a place for minors to consume alcohol. Fortunately, deputies were able to discover the location of the party and break it up before it got to out of control.
Marion County Sheriff's Office got several tips from their community partners that a huge party was being planned and that alcohol would be provided for minors. The only information provided was about the alcohol and that it was being "advertised" on Twitter under the hashtag #ProjectNat. A hashtag is a metadata tag that begins with the hashtag symbol ("#") followed by a word or unspaced phrase. On Twitter, it makes a type of category people can follow for further information on a subject.
Marion County Sheriff's Office started posting warnings about the party on Twitter and Facebook and eventually identified and contacted the organizer, Gray. On Twitter, #ProjectNat started trending and many users started arguing about the party continuing or if they should just stay away. Several users made rude and daring tweets to the Sheriff's Office Twitter account, @MCSOInTheKnow. At one point, they tweeted Gray directly by writing, "@beerisrad your actions could lead to your arrest. If you have questions about "Project Nat" please call the shift Sergeant @ 503-588-5032."
"We got there before it even got started," Sgt. Chris Baldridge told the Statesman Journal. "It worked out perfectly." There were a few early party goers and the organizer, Gray who was uncooperative according to the Sheriff's Office. Along with a defaced sign, they found alcohol. There were many Twitter mentions about "getting wasted" in the week prior to the party, so there was clearly a plan to serve alcohol. Ironically, the last tweets from Gray before his arrest were, "I do not condone or permit underage drinking," and "Since when did hype become illegal? Hmmm." Seems it was far more that "hype."
Perhaps one of the more disturbing plans for the party were two apparently scheduled fights, one between two girls and one between two boys. The girls seem to have a problem with each other over a boy according to their Twitter accounts. Both of the girls attend Central High School and one is active in Track there. There's no information on the boys yet. Tweets by Gray also indicated there would be marijuana at the party. The combination of drugs, alcohol and planned fighting could have easily led to a tragedy.
People that attended the party are claiming that one student had his neck broken and they are blaming law enforcement but the story has not be verified. The Gates Fire Department may end up charging Nathaniel Gray for the cost of putting out the bonfire that was burning at the party. "If we saved a couple of kids from not getting hurt tonight, it was absolutely worth it," Baldridge said. The warmer the weather gets, the more these massive outdoor parties occur. They're very common in the rural areas of Marion County in the late Spring/Summer.