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Gym holds maskless Christmas party in private home — and now city officials are investigating

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There were at least two complaints about the gathering

Photo by Mamunur Rashid/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Officials in Durham, North Carolina, are investigating after learning a fitness studio held a Christmas party in a private residence last weekend during which at least two dozen people gathered without masks, which violates state and local COVID-19 restrictions, WRAL-TV reported.

What are the details?

Triangle Krav Maga posted photos of the party on Facebook, the station said, adding that it featured movies, pizza, "quality booze," a white elephant exchange and other games, and a sleepover for kids.

"Sure beats sitting at home in a mask, doesn't it?" a Facebook post noted about the event, which WRAL said was deleted Tuesday morning after the station began asking questions about the party.

TKM owners Molotov Mitchell and his wife, Dr. Greer Gunther, didn't return multiple requests for comment, the station reported.

But Mitchell posted the following on his Facebook page late Tuesday afternoon:

What did city officials have to say?

Durham officials are investigating the party after receiving at least two complaints about it, city spokeswoman Amy Blalock told the station, adding that the city attorney's office was preparing a letter to send out Tuesday afternoon notifying Mitchell and Gunther of the complaints and reminding them of existing restrictions.

North Carolina currently limits indoor gatherings to 10 people in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus, WRAL said, and people are required to wear masks whenever they're with those not in their household.

More from the station:

Krav Maga, which means "contact combat" in Hebrew, is a self-defense and fighting system developed for the Israeli Defense Forces that emphasizes aggression and simultaneous defensive and offensive maneuvers.

The gym, at 4911 S. Alston Ave., also has kickboxing and firearms classes and provides stuntman training, according to its website.

Mitchell's online bio states that he has taught hand-to-hand combat and weapons training. He also is a former columnist for the far-right news site WorldNetDaily, and he ran for state Senate in 2014 against Democrat Josh Stein, now North Carolina's attorney general.

WRAL added that Gunther is in the second year of a child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship at the Duke University School of Medicine, and that Duke officials didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

But the News & Observer reported that some social media posts noted a Duke University psychiatrist at the party and encouraged people to contact the university — and with that Duke health officials issued the following statement Tuesday to the paper:

"At Duke Health, we are steadfast in our support of state public health mandates to fight COVID-19. We expect all of our health care providers to comply with these orders and to live our Duke values, specifically our commitment to caring for our patients and each other. While we do not comment on specific personnel matters, we take employee conduct very seriously and potential transgressions are managed according to our institutional policies and procedures."
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