Deputies follow along on Twitter, bust Oregon party


by Erica Heartquist, KGW Staff

Posted on April 15, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 15 at 10:19 AM

SALEM, Ore. -- A secluded party in the woods for 19-year-old Nathaniel Gray's birthday. At least, that's what the attendees thought it would be.

But what the underage partiers involved may not have realized was that deputies were using social media just like they were - to spread the word.

The party was planned for almost two weeks and became known as #ProjectNat on Twitter, named after the movie "Project X," in which high school kids throw an out-of-control birthday party to try and make names for themselves.

Deputies said they found out about the party Friday and tried to use social media to break it up.

"We're not attacking teenagers. It's about bringing our children home safely and making sure they're out making responsible choices," said Sgt. Chris Baldridge with the Marion County Sheriff's Office. "That is the bottom line."

The sheriff's office then sent a tweet directly to Gray, warning he could be arrested if he had the party.

Gray replied that he was not responsible for the party.

Deputies said they tracked the party to a park outside Salem and broke it up before it really began. Baldridge said they found alcohol, a bonfire, a stage and about two dozen kids. 

Gray was arrested on several misdemeanor charges, including giving alcohol to a minor and disorderly conduct.

Monday night, Gray agreed to talk only to KGW, but wanted to bring his own recorder to record the conversation as well.

"Whoever showed up, they showed up. What they brought was not on me," he said. "I was found. I was not intoxicated. I had nothing in my car, so pretty much, they [sheriff's deputies] can say whatever they want."

When asked if he was surprised with how quickly the whole thing spread on social media, and that the sheriff's office was following along on Twitter, Gray shrugged his shoulders and said, "What can you do? That's the Internet, I guess."

Gray maintained that he did not provide alcohol to anyone. He's scheduled to appear in a Marion County court to face the misdemeanor charges against him on Friday, May 9.