Some people just aren't a fan of the way law enforcement uses surveillance drones.
And on Sunday, a man reportedly shot down and damaged a drone owned by the Lake County Sheriff's Office in Mount Dora, Florida, according to a report from the Orlando Sentinel. But he had a reason.
The 50-year old said he "thought it was trying to harass him," according to the affidavit from his arrest, the report says.
The man who shot down a drone with a rifle
The man, Wendell Goney, reportedly shot the drone out of the sky with his .22-caliber rifle before returning to the confines of his home, presumably satisfied that his bullets had caused the drone to burst into flames after slamming into a nearby structure on its way down. According to local law enforcement, the drone was there to look into a nearby burglary. Whether or not this is the case, it's important to note that this isn't Goney's first rodeo with the local law enforcement. The Sentinel says he was convicted of aggravated assault of a law officer in 2013. And, after blowing the drone out of the sky, the man now faces several additional charges, like possessing a firearm as a convicted felon, in addition to criminal mischief.
Deputies were in the neighborhood of Goney's home looking into the burglary call at roughly 6:30 AM EDT, when they deployed the drone to search through a lot. But then they heard two shots fired, after which the drone fell out of sight. They then called the fire department to deal with the fire while one of the deputies discovered Goney in his house a few blocks away. He admitted to using a .22-caliber rifle to take two pot-shots at the drone before going inside.
Drones may soon outnumber people willing to shoot them
The deputies then confiscated his weapon and arrested him that morning. In addition to his charges, he faces a $1,000 fine. As of writing, he's already booked into the Lake County Jail, where his bond stands at $16,500, and there are no records of a lawyer working his case. We can't say whether Goney was more concerned with taking out a police drone than staying out of jail, but future would-be dissidents may have a much harder time with drones soon. In April, researchers developed a new system to control a swarm of drones via augmented reality (AR) interface, according to a study shared on a preprint server.
The swarm will help firefighters control hazardous situations, but there are ethical implications to multiplying police or military power via AR-controlled drone swarms. "Our study was born from a partnership between the industrial company Humanitas Solutions Inc. and the research laboratory of computer graphics and virtual reality (LIRV) of Polytechnique Montréal directed by Professor Benoit Ozell," said study co-author Dany Naser Addin, in a TechXplore report. This means that if people like Goney want to launch a personal war on drones, they may soon be outnumbered not only by previous felonies on their record, but by the drones themselves.