Incidents involving consumer drones are getting more and more frequent and will continue to do so as they get more affordable and more people start flying them. Let’s hope that most of the incidents are harmless and don’t involve firearms, unlike the case last November in Modesto, California.

Eric Joe was visiting his parents in Modesto and flying his homemade hexacopter drone (not pictured above) when he heard the sound of a 12-gauge shotgun discharge and saw his drone fall to the ground. The neighbor, Brett McBay, thought the drone was a CIA surveillance device and ordered his son to shoot it out of the sky – despite the fact that he was shooting in the direction of Joe and his parents’ property.

The two men exchanged emails regarding the event, in which Joe insisted that McBay pay him $700, which he estimated was the cost of damages. McBay agreed to pay half, calling the drone “surveillance equipment” (there was no camera whatsoever) and claiming that the drone was flying over his property (GPS data shows it was not).

As it turns out, this was the third time McBay and family have discharged firearms in the direction of the Joe family property, and one of those times actually left a bullet hole in their house. When negotiations went nowhere, Joe took McBay to Stanislaus County small claims court, where he won $850. McBay has yet to pay what he owes.

The lesson learned here is do not fly drones around trigger-happy folk.

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