Nashville city officials signaled an intent Tuesday to criminally prosecute the organizers of a large house party that brazenly violated public health orders intended to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
City Law Director Bob Cooper said violations of the city’s face mask mandate and gathering limitations could be punished as a Class-C misdemeanor and up to 30 days in jail. Cooper said law enforcement and city officials are investigating the house party and encouraged anyone with information that “might be useful to this investigation” to file a report on the city’s dedicated coronavirus website at asafenashville.com.
“If the investigation shows that the organizers of Saturday night’s event violated these orders, the district attorney’s office, in consultation with Metro legal, will pursue all available remedies,” Cooper said.
Photos and video show hundreds of people attended the “Fashion House” house party, held Saturday night on Fern Avenue in East Nashville. Attendees largely did not wear masks, and the home appears to have been so crowded that proper social distancing was essentially impossible. Nashville police said they shut down the party at about 1 a.m. but did not issue any citations for violations of public health orders.
FASHION HOUSE: Mayor’s office investigating crowded East Nashville house party
An ‘irresponsible act’
Mayor John Cooper described the party as an “irresponsible act with disregard for the health of our residents and the progress we’ve made (towards) reopening our local economy.”
The East Nashville property where the party occurred consists of three homes at a single address: 21 Fern Ave. The party primarily occurred at Unit B, which according to property records is owned by Goodlettsville dentist Dr. Jeff Mathews, but the party also spilled into Unit A, which is owned by Christopher “Shi” Eubank, vocalist for the band Savage After Midnight. The Fashion House Instagram account also links to Eubank’s Instagram account.
Neither Mathews nor Eubanks could be reached for comment. An attorney for Mathews declined to comment.
The mayor’s office said Monday The Fashion House is an active limited liability corporation operating a commercial businesses from 21 B Fern Ave., which is zoned for residential use only. The city has posted an order on the property demanding it halt improper operations.
The Fashion House’s business license, which was obtained in July and remained active as of Tuesday, lists another contact for the company as Leisa M. Foster of Munford, Tennessee. Foster declined comment when called on Tuesday.
‘Shocked and disappointed’
As the party drew scorn, at least one brand attempted to distance itself from the Fashion House. Picker’s Vodka, a Nashville distillery that was included in the event promotional material circulated online, issued a statement saying it was “not an official sponsor” and no one from the company attended the party. Picker’s said it gave approval for its mobile bars bearing its brand to be used for an “outdoor small, private event” without knowledge of the details of the house party.
“We were just as shocked and disappointed as the entire community when we saw online what took place,” the statement said.
The Fashion House also drew condemnation on Tuesday from Taylor Gentry, a local coronavirus survivor who is the daughter of Nashville criminal court clerk Howard Gentry and Nashville board of education member Sharon Dixon Gentry.
Taylor Gentry said she caught the virus in May after becoming complacent, and then appears to have passed the virus to her father. She shared her story as a warning to other young people — specifically partygoers — who are not taking the virus seriously.
“The party that happened last weekend was unacceptable,” Taylor Gentry said. “It shouldn’t have happened. And I know those were my peers in attendance. We know better.”
Brett Kelman is the health care reporter for The Tennessean. He can be reached at 615-259-8287 or at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @brettkelman.