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I bet this guy really regrets shooting down his neighbor's drone

I bet this guy really regrets shooting down his neighbor's drone
image courtesy of shutterstock

Drones are a divisive issue in this country. Some people love them, and some people want to shoot them out of the sky. If you're part of the latter group, I suggest you let cooler heads prevail. Otherwise, you could end up like this California man who now owes his neighbor hundreds of dollars after pumping the man's drone full of buckshot.

Last fall, Eric Joe took his homemade drone copter out for a spin over his parents' property in Modesto, California. After a few minutes of flying, Joe heard a loud bang and watched his hexacopter fall out of the sky. It turns out Joe's neighbor Brett McBay told his son to shoot the drone down with 12-gauge shotgun.

Joe claimed that McBay said: "I thought it was a CIA surveillance device." No matter the reason, the drone pilot wanted to resolve this encounter quickly and civilly ("I didn't want to get argumentative with a guy with a shotgun," Joe said). He went back inside and inspected the aircraft. It wouldn't be flying again. Later that evening, the two men exchanged e-mails.

Joe expected McBay to cover the costs of fixing his damaged drone. Boy was he wrong.

Joe itemized the cost of the destroyed pieces of the drone and asked McBay to reimburse him for the damage, which amounted to $700. But, the neighbor wasn't cooperative.

It was nice to meet you and your son. I wish it could have been under different circumstances, but I have to give credit to the McBay school of marksmanship. Still, I'm pretty bummed that I just built this hexacopter only to have it shot down. Also, it was a little disconcerting to know that the spread of the birdshot/buckshot was in my direction. In any case, I had a chance to test the components of the downed hexacopter. Good news is that the more expensive components (on the inside of the frame) are in tact. Stuff on the outside of the frame took the most damage.

McBay argued that he should only be liable for half the cost.

With all do [sic] respect $700 dollars seems excessive. Perhaps in SF it's normal for folks to have drones hovering over their property but we live in the country for privacy. I will be willing to split the cost with you but next time let us know your testing surveillance equipment in our area. I'll drop a check of [sic] this afternoon.

Joe responded by indicating that his drone never flew over the neighbor's property, and was not a surveillance device because it didn't have a camera attached. He also noted that this isn't the first time the McBays had fired gun shots in the direction of his family's home.

I'm sorry, but I must insist on full payment for equipment you damaged, as you shot it when it was above my property. The aircraft's GPS data positions it clearly above our orchard. Additionally, the hexacopter crashed next to our driveway, ~203 feet (per Google Maps) from the dirt road that separates our respective properties.

I also dispute your characterization that I was "testing surveillance equipment." There was no camera on the hexacopter, and had a camera been mounted, the price for repairs would have been an extra $300. Just as you asked me to give the courtesy of notifying you of my flying activities, I also ask you the courtesy of not shooting live ammunition in our direction. This is the third time discharge from your firearms has hit our house and property. The first incident left a bullet hole in the door by our garage. The second incident occurred last Thanksgiving when birdshot from your skeet shooting activities rained into our backyard. The third, of course, being what we're currently discussing.

I'm hoping to resolve this in a civil manner. An entirely new rig would have cost $1500. Instead, I'm just asking that you pay for what you broke. Let me know if you wish to discuss further.

Joe and his attorney eventually sued McBay for damages in the Stanislaus County Court Small Claims Division. Despite McBay's arguments, the court found in favor of Joe in the amount of $850. McBay has yet to pay up.

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Source: Ars Technica
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