Wendell business owner regrets hosting event after sheriff shuts down sports arena

Wake County News

The Wake County sheriffs office is shutting down a sports arena for violating the states outdoor gathering restrictions.

The owner of Gooch Sports Arena tells CBS 17 that while he was not the organizer of the event, it was held on his property and he’s taking full responsibility.

Donal Gooch said, “I regret that I did the show.”

After months of not hosting any events at his ranch, Donal Gooch said he gave the thumbs up for a music event at his outdoor arena.

“It got out of hand but we handled it the best way we could. I had no idea about how many tickets were sold online,” Gooch said.

Gooch said as traffic started to back up, people were becoming upset they couldn’t get in. He said he feared thing could dangerous if he got in the way of people who were showing up with tickets in hand.

“About 10 o’clock, I thought this is not looking good but what can you do about it? There’s nothing you can do and we were putting people out for not wearing a mask,” said Gooch.

Gooch said he had security to enforce masks, sanitation stations and a germicide misting people overhead.

He thought the event was allowed after reading the governor’s proclamation encouraging celebrating Hispanic heritage month. Gooch said he the event’s promoter believed this event, a spanish language music event, would be exempted from the state’s gathering restriction of 50 people outdoors.

“It was a mistake in the way we read it and the way we understood it,” said Gooch.

In a statement the Wake County Sheriff’s Office:

“To ensure that the instructions were met, Sheriff Baker visited the area before the start of the event. The Sheriff spoke to a small group of attendees to reiterate the importance of wearing facemasks and using the handwashing stations provided throughout the grounds.

After Sheriff Baker left the area, the crowd grew larger in numbers. Deputies did respond to the area due to subsequent noise complaints from neighbors.

Sheriff Baker spoke with Mr. Gooch this morning and advised him that based on apparent violation of the Governor’s Order, any further events must be cancelled until the order allows appropriate conditions.”

“I promise you, you don’t want to deal with this,” said Gooch.

While social media videos show large crowds, Gooch said the cameras were angled to make the crowds look bigger than they actually were.

“I don’t want anybody to get sick. I gotta live with that now. I hope nobody contracted COVID-19,” said Gooch.

The Wake County Public Health Department said it is still too early to tell if there was any spread of COVID-19 at the event because of the virus’ 10 to 14 day incubation period.

“We see that people are getting tired but there are ways to go out and do that safely and that’s wearing your mask and staying sixfeet apart,” said. Dr. Nicole Mushonga, an epidemiologist with the county.

She encouraged attendees of this event to get free COVID-19 tests done if they are concerned about exposure or are feeling symptoms of illness.

Free drive-thru testing is available at the Sunnybrook Building at 2925 Holston Lane.

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