After hundreds of teens broke into a former NFL player's home and threw a damaging party, only a few returned on his invitation to clean it all up. YNN's Geoff Redick reports.
STEPHENTOWN, N.Y. -- It's not easy for Mikaela Byrnes to speak about the night of August 31st. Byrnes, 16, says she was one of approximately 300 teens who broke into the home of former NFL lineman Brian Holloway that night. The giant crowd threw an apparent underage drinking party riddled with drugs and caused at least $20,000 damage over the span of a few hours.
A nearly real-time photographic record of the party was progressively posted to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts by the various partygoers that night. It allowed Holloway to follow along from his second home in Florida, as his Stephentown house was torn apart.
Holloway set up a website a few days later and posting the photographs and evidence he had gathered online, including the social media account names of those involved. Since then, and especially over the past few days, Byrnes and several of her friends from the party have been the subject of ever-increasing scrutiny and threats across social media and other forms of media.
"I still feel like we're going to be harassed on Twitter," Byrnes commented to her friends Saturday, even as she wore work gloves and helped to clean the windows stained by the Labor Day weekend bash.
Only Byrnes and few of her friends responded to an invitation from Holloway himself, to attend a barbecue Saturday afternoon, speak with him personally and help to clean up the mess.
"But I guess we're not going to look as bad?" she commented, wiping a wet squeegee across the windows.
Whether that's true or not, a number of people at the barbecue told Byrnes she was at least doing the right thing by appearing at Holloway's request. Holloway thought so, too.
"I appreciate you guys being here," Holloway told three of the teens, standing with them outside his vandalized home. "I'll yell at you later, but now's not the time for that."
Holloway gave each teen a hug and told them that this first step towards healing was an important one. Then he asked them to keep an eye out for their friends, classmates and other fellow partygoers.
"They're carrying a lot of weight, right? That's bad," he said. "There's some that are scared, that are overwhelmed, that are frightened."
Holloway asked the teens to send out more social media messages, this time re-telling the experience they had helping to repair his home Saturday.
"You need to ferociously tweet about today," he said and the teens nodded.
Holloway hopes to meet with as many of the involved teenagers as he can and speak with them about the destructive nature of the party they threw. However, he's now facing a threatened lawsuit from some of the teenagers' parents, due to his re-posting their social media accounts and photos on his own website.
With international media attention now swirling around his story, Holloway told the small group Saturday that the most important thing currently was to handle that attention gracefully and repeatedly.
"Just talk to them and then all that stuff surrounding you will slowly go away," he said.