Mystery drone crashes into St. Louis law firm building

Brandie Piper & Elizabeth Matthews, KSDK 4:04 p.m. CDT May 8, 2014

ST. LOUIS – Police are investigating after a drone crashed in downtown St. Louis Monday afternoon.

Schron Jackson, a spokesperson for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, says Bike Unit officers responded to the Metropolitan Square building in the 200 block of North Broadway around 4 p.m. Monday after security officers called about a recovered article from a 30th floor balcony.

Jackson says the article is a DJI Phantom II Quadcopter, controlled through WiFi. It crashed into the building and landed on the balcony. Pieces of the drone were broken from the crash.

Police are now looking for the owner of the drone.

According to the FAA, civilians can have and operate drones, if you maintain a visual while flying and keep it under 400 feet above ground. The drone that crashed Monday hit the 30th floor of the 593-foot-tall building. It crashed into a floor that houses a law firm. Witnesses tell NewsChannel 5 an employee of the firm found the drone and called security.

Joshua Foster lives downtown St. Louis and doesn’t want to see a drone fly by his window that could potentially spy on him.

“It’s crazy that a drone actually hit this building and nobody knows where it came from?” he said. “That’s sickening.”

Drones are basically souped up remote controlled airplanes that can record video.

“We’ve got things flying around above us right here in Missouri in the middle of America,” said Foster.

St. Louis police now want to know who flew a drone. The mystery drone is controlled through WiFi connection and had a camera that rotates.

“What’s the point, it’s going back to privacy, and what’s the point of that, why would we need to fly drones,” said Carl Sword.

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson sees great potential in drones for police work he talked to NewsChannel 5 last summer.

“To help keep officers safe, to help keep the community safe,” said the chief. “For monitoring public space, things like the upcoming Fair St. Louis, baseball games for terrorist, suspicious activity.”

He is trying to get waiver from the FAA to use one for the police department.

Just last year the FAA grounded drones used by journalism students at University of Missouri. They were using them for news coverage, but the FAA ordered Mizzou to stop flying and get government authorization.

Police would like to talk to the owner of the drone if you have any information call Crimestoppers: 866-371-TIPS.

Here is a statement released by Drone Free St. Louis

The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (also known as UAVs or drones) has grown dramatically. Monday’s crash of a private drone is one of several dozen drone crashes that have been reported within the United States. Technology is moving faster than regulations. For example, the FAA has no regulations currently for drones that fly below 400 feet. There are inadequate regulations, either from private drones with a camera attached or from the future potential for widespread police surveillance. Much of this is happening so quickly that there is not time for informed consent or legal rulings. Knowing these facts, Drone Free St. Louis calls for public dialogue about the true risk and cost of domestic drones in St. Louis.


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