Thirty years. That’s how long 51-year-old Wendell Doyle Goney could spend in federal prison if he’s proven guilty. His crime? Destruction of a drone belonging to Lake County Sheriff’s Office in Florida and possessing a firearm as a convicted felon.
As DroneDJ readers may recall, the Sheriff’s Office drone was investigating a possible burglary at a 10-acre business property on July 11, 2021, when Goney opened gunfire at it in midair. The drone promptly dropped to the ground and blew up.
When deputies responded to the location of the gunfire, they confronted Goney, who acknowledged that he had just shot down the drone with a .22 caliber rifle. He claimed that drones had been “harassing” him.
Goney also admitted to the deputies that he could not lawfully possess a firearm – he has 29 prior felony convictions in Florida. As a convicted felon, Goney is prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition under federal law.
So now, a federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging Goney with possessing a firearm as a convicted felon and destruction of aircraft. If convicted of both counts, Goney faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison.
Further, the rifle and ammunition allegedly used in the commission of the offenses would also be forfeited.
Also read: Does your police department disclose why it’s flying drones? This one does
Drone shooting incidents are on the rise
It’s worth remembering that it’s against the law to shoot an airborne drone.
And you’d expect a government official to know that. But in August, a municipal commissioner in Tennessee grabbed a gun and shot at a drone above his property that annoyed him. He then refused to give the blasted aircraft back to its owner, and ended up with charges being filed against him.
Then, in September, a Pennsylvania homeowner allegedly shot down a DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone that was conducting power line inspections in his neighborhood. The drone operator told the police he lost contact with his craft after hearing multiple gunshots in the area. Officers checked residences and discovered the ill-fated drone in a trash can behind a house. When quizzed, the homeowner admitted to putting the drone in the garbage can but “did not want to discuss how it happened.”
Read more: Oh, snap: Watch a croc chomp on documentary crew’s DJI Mini 2 drone
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