A Kentucky man was charged with first degree criminal mischief and first degree wanton endangerment after shooting down an $1,800 drone that was flying over his neighborhood.
The man, William H. Merideth, said the drone was flying over his property when he used a shotgun to shoot down the remote controlled aircraft.
“Sunday afternoon, the kids – my girls – were out on the back deck, and the neighbors were out in their yard,” Merideth said to WDRB. “And they come in and said, ‘Dad, there’s a drone out here, flying over everybody’s yard.'”
“It was just hovering above our house and it stayed for a few moments and then she finally waved and it took off,” said neighbor Kim VanMeter.
Merideth said he waited until the drone, which he said was flying as low as 10 feet, was low enough to see under neighbor’s backyard porch canopies.
Merideth made it clear that he did not fire across his property line, only straight up into the air. The pilot of the drone confronted Merideth, but backed off once he realized Merideth was armed.
When the police showed up they arrested Merideth for basically firing a shotgun into the air in a residential area. The drone was returned to its operator by police.
“You know, when you’re in your own property, within a six-foot privacy fence, you have the expectation of privacy,” he said. “We don’t know if he was looking at the girls. We don’t know if he was looking for something to steal. To me, it was the same as trespassing.”
While many hobbyists fly drones for recreation and aerial photography, AMA (the hobby’s self-governing organization) rules as well as FAA rules prohibit flying model aircraft over spectators and in ways that could violate people’s privacy.