A Florida man was indicted on federal charges Wednesday for shooting down a law enforcement drone that was being used to search for a burglar.
Wendell Goney, a convicted felon who was not allowed to have firearms, told authorities he did shoot down the drone because drones had been “harassing” him, prosecutors said. He also admitted that he could not lawfully possess a firearm after being convicted of at least 29 felonies over the years.
The incident happened on July 11 in the central Florida city of Mount Dora. The Lake County Sheriff’s Office was investigating a burglary at a 10-acre property there when deputies deployed a drone to assist with their search.
But shortly after deploying the device, the drone was shot down by gunfire from a neighboring property, authorities said. Deputies went to that property and met with Goney, who promptly confessed to using a .22-caliber rifle to shoot their drone, according to prosecutors.
The suspect was arrested on state charges the same day, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida also launched an investigation that led to this week’s grand jury indictment. He now faces federal charges of possessing a firearm as a convicted felon and destruction of aircraft.
If convicted, Goney could face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. Federal authorities also plan to seize his rifle and ammunition, they said.
Goney was being held on $16,500 bond Thursday, jail records show. Some of his recent arrests involved charges of burglary, burglary with battery and trespassing.