ST. JAMES, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — There were tense moments in the skies over Long Island over the weekend, after a resident fired shots in his backyard and downed a drone.
That drone was being used by a volunteer group to search for a missing dog, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Monday.
The search is over for “Dezi.” The runaway pup returned Sunday to her relieved new owner.
“She is a very sweet dog and we’re glad to have her back,” Ashley Lang said.
But the tail wagging comes with head shaking over tempers flaring during the search. The volunteer group Lost Dog Search and Rescue used a registered drone to search from above. But suddenly …
“Alarms started going off on my control panel saying it’s flying upside down, you have no control,” said Teddy Hem of Lost Dog Search and Rescue.
Volunteer Hem traced it back to Rutherford Street in St. James and found out it had been shot down by a resident in the neighborhood.
CBS2’s Gusoff got a look at what’s left of the $1,400 drone.
Suffolk Police arrested 26-year-old Gerard Chasteen, who was charged with criminal mischief and prohibited use of a weapon for allegedly firing three shots from his yard.
“That’s one thing to want privacy, maybe call a cop, but to shoot a shotgun is a little extreme,” Lang said.
As drones become ubiquitous, run-ins like this are on the rise amid fears of snooping cameras. Yet police said the drone operator broke no laws.
“It is absolutely never acceptable to fire shots in a residential area. It’s extremely dangerous to fire shots at an elevated angle. The shots can travel long distances,” Suffolk County Police Chief Stuart Cameron said.
A drone pilot’s course at SUNY Famingdale covers the Federal Aviation Administration’s strict drone rules, but it’s not required of recreational users and doesn’t clearly address privacy.
“I don’t know of any laws that prevent a drone operator from flying a drone over someone’s house, as shocking as that may seem,” said Dr. Mike Canders of the Farmingdale College Aviation Center.
Canders said technology has outpaced the law.
“I’m worried about one of these devices striking an airliner and with disastrous results,” Canders said.
There was no comment from Chasteen, but his parents apologized.
Police say anyone with a drone complaint can call them. If there is no clear violation of local law like trespassing or eavesdropping, the case could be referred to the FAA.
Dezi is now microchipped and registered and the family said they will be installing an electric fence so that she doesn’t go missing again.