Father, son caught by surprise as drone shot out of sky

RUTHERFORD COUNTY, TN (WKRN) – A Rutherford County man flying a new drone with his 7-year-old son was caught by surprise when someone shot it down.

Gary Sammons told WKRN-TV he was flying the DJ I Phantom 4 Drone near his Rutherford County home last Saturday when the incident occurred.

Sammons said his son was watching the drone’s path on an iPad and asked him who people on the ground were. As he moved the drone closer and hovered, that’s when someone at a neighbor’s home fired several shots.

WKRN spoke with Bryon Brock, the owner of Vivid Aerial in Whites Creek where Sammons purchased the drone.

“When you watch someone point a gun, whether it’s on video or in front of you, it makes your subconscious mind think you are being shot at,” he said.

Despite its damaged propeller, Sammons was able to fly the drone safely back home.

“[It] puts that drone in a very dangerous predicament,” Brock said. “There is no telling where it can fall. If it falls into an oncoming car and causes a major accident or mass casualties the question is who is responsible.”

Brock told WKRN he had another customer who also had their drown shot down by a neighbor in Hendersonville three weeks ago.

“It’s a federal offense to shoot down an aircraft and the FAA has deemed the drone an aircraft,” he said.

Drone attorney, James Mackler with Frost Brown and Todd, is currently representing a drone operator who had his drone shot down in Kentucky.

According to Macker, the law is unclear to drones with respect to boundary between private property and federal airspace.

“What hasn’t happened yet is a court case directly applying aircraft laws to drones in these particular incidences,” he said. “Drones are considered aircrafts by the FAA/ We all have the right to privacy and we all have the right to protect our property, but we all need to be good neighbors and that applies to both drone operators and land owners, and if you see something you think is improper, the best approach is to call the police or the FAA, not to take your shotgun and take matters into your own hands.”

WKRN chose not to identify the man who shot at the drone in the most recent incident in Murfreesboro since he was not charged with a crime. The responding deputy could not identify a law that had been broken.

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