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Man Shoots Down Private Spy Drone Over His Property, Get’s Charged With Gun Crime

Voyagerix /

Leave it to New Jersey to once again be on the wrong side of the gun debate.

In Lower Township, NJ, 32 year old Russell Percenti was arrested after shooting down his neighbors drone that was flying over his property taking photos.

It is bad enough that we have to suffer the Constitution shredding loss of privacy at the hands of the government, but now actively protecting high tech voyeurism when it trespasses on our very own property (500 feet above one’s property is acknowledged as that persons private air space) is a bitter pill indeed.  Not surprising such a miscarriage of justice is taking place in New Jersey.

Allegedly, the flyer of the helicopter drone was taking photos of a friend’s house that was under construction, but that shouldn’t negate the fact that he was flying over other people’s property with a camera attached to a spy drone.  If the, “I was only taking innocent pictures” excuse begins to hold weight, I can only imagine all the pedophiles and sexual deviants who were “accidentally” taking photos  the leaves changing colors that just happened to capture the inside of peoples windows.

And it wasn’t as if Percenti lived in downtown Manhattan and shot his shotgun in the middle of the city, Lower Township is a relatively rural area with farmlands and open spaces.  Considering the charges he faced were merely Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose and Criminal Mischief I would suspect that he shot his shotgun in a safe direction.  This is New Jersey after all and if the police had any cause to trump it up, no doubt they would have charged him with reckless endangerment, attempted murder and terrorism.

But no, this was simply a guy whose home was being trespassed by an unmanned drone taking photographs of who knows what.  Are we supposed to just allow robots free range over our property?  Trampling over the notion of private land and when they are attached with cameras, the notion of privacy itself?

Are we supposed to just welcome in a peeping Tom into our homes and have them take all the photos that they want?

I say the hell to that.  Just because some tech geek doled out some big bucks to get a pricey spy drone helicopter with attached hi-def camera does not mean they get to fly it around like they are some 4 year old on Christmas morning unaware and uncaring about their surroundings.  I’m glad that Percenti took that spy drone down with a shotgun blast.  The fact that he was able to also indicates how low that drone had to be over his property.

But, instead of chastising the drone owner (who ironically has been able to remain anonymous), Percenti’s shotgun was seized and he was arrested.  He is currently out on bail.

Unfortunately for Percenti, I don’t like his chances in New Jersey.

This is an issue bigger than the 2nd Amendment, this comes down to whether we have any claim to private property and by extension privacy to begin with.

Sure, the government has eminent domain and no qualms about spying on us…but does that now extend to every Tom Dick and Harry with too much time on their hands and a spy drone in their garage?

Until that is settled, I think it’s going to remain open season on spy drones…and I find myself ok with that.  I chalk this one up to a real tale of self defense.


  • roadking2000

    The government is great at punishing the innocent & enabling the guilty!

    • Bullets First

      Ain’t it the truth roadking. The current crop of Illegal immigrants get better health care for free than most Americans can afford. And if we don’t pay enough to the overlords of obamacare WE are penalized a tax.

  • Robert Lindsey

    Agree on this one. Why does anybody have right to spy on other peop[le on their own land. Unless they have increased the range of a shotgun, the drone had to be very low. More SS bullshit, anything to get people who want thir own rights.

    • Skyhawk95

      Drones are required by the FAA to fly at under 400ft and outside air traffic areas/lanes.

    • Morgon

      The pilot was demonstrably not ‘spying’ on anyone. There is a huge difference between aiming a camera directly at a person for the purposes of recording them, and a person being incidentally in a photograph that is otherwise legal to take.

  • Pam Dunn

    Somehow, I suspect that if he is convicted it would FAIL to stand up to an appeal once it got outside NJ that liberal hell hole.

  • a_browning

    This is case in point why Christy can not win the Republican nomination for president. No candidate that is anti gun like Christy can win big states like Texas. Yee Haw!

  • mjnellett

    Changing America may involve a temporary bloody fight, but to the people who get to see the TRAITORS in D.C. find their just reward at the end of a rope,…it will all be worth it.

    • Morgon

      What does this have to do with the story at hand?

  • Up Huff

    His defense is that the drone was attacking him by flying low over his property.. and he didn’t know it wasn’t armed. Besides, he just thought it was a skeet target.
    As for Governor Fats, if he wants to make himself REAL popular with the country, he should issue a Gubenatorial Pardon SHOULD the guy be convicted.

  • durabo

    Well, that IS the People’s Republic of New Jersey, isn’t it, where only the criminals are armed in addition to the Staats Polizei?

    • porkchop6209

      “The Lives Of Others”, great movie, about life behind the wall. Check it out, Netflix or Amazon, probably. And then tell me ain’t there already.

  • higgy01

    I would have done the same thing, especially in a rural area and with no permission asked or given. Illegal use of drones as this was, will become more and more prevalent in the future. Just remember, they do make good practice in prep for hunting birds.

    • Skyhawk95

      Even though it was not over your property you are okay with destroying somebody else’s property.

      • Bullets First

        No where in that article you linked to did it say where the drone was when it was shot down. Just because the pilot “claimed” he was taking photographs of his friends house does not indicate from what distance he was doing so. And with the MAXIMUM effective range of a shotgun shooting birdshot being about 40 yards I questions where this drone was when it was shot down.

        • Skyhawk95

          If the drone was shot down over Percenti’s property then he would have been the one to recover it; not the operator. Additionally, since RC drones use fixed focus lenses they tend to fly low over their target objective. So even if the drone was flying at 100 ft then the shooter could have been 70 ft (~ 23 yrd) from the aircraft and still feasibly knocked it down. Also since multiple shots were fired it is likely a lower altitude (or transition to lower altitude) increased the effective range of the Percenti’s weapon. Here is the what the operator displayed was captured by his drone:

          If the operator had been filming Percenti’s property then a typical wide-angle aerial camera (such as a GoPro) would have caught the firing on video. I know if I had film of someone taking down a drone I would post it because it would have to look really cool. However, the operator simply directed the police to direction from which he had heard the blasts and they discovered the weapon “inside the door” (although I am still curious why Percenti let them in without demanding a warrant ~ would have at least given him time to sanitize the area).

    • Randy Mitson

      “rural area” I’m sure Joanne Reagan Dance Studios just down the road doesn’t think shooting in their general direction is all that great. Nothing “Illegal” about the use of drones to photograph a friends building project. Don’t see how his privacy was violated in anyway and the response of the police to charge him and set bail pretty much says he’s a danger to the public.

  • Skyhawk95

    Folks, the facts are skewed here. The drone was not flying over the shooter’s (Russell Percenti) land/home, but over a house under construction owned by a friend of the drone’s owner. Percenti was placed under arrest and charged with possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and criminal mischief.


    Would you be okay with someone from across the street peppering your car with buckshot if you parked in your friend’s driveway while visiting? If you are WTH is wrong with you; however, if you are like most people with a little common sense you realize that support wild cannon’s like Percenti does nothing to secure the right of us gun owners.

    Also to claim you have the right to knock down any drone, because pedophiles and sex deviants might be using them would also be an argument to knock down airliners because a pedo deviant might be onboard with a really good camera. Or maybe you’ll just restrict it to light aircraft regardless if they are conducting flight training.

    Pick your battles and stop throwing your weight behind every moron who happens to own a shotgun.

    • Bullets First

      The facts are not skewed. If you were trying to link to the story you did in your other comment then No where in that article ydid it say where the drone was when it was shot down. Just because the pilot “claimed” he was taking photographs of his friends house does not indicate from what distance he was doing so. And with the MAXIMUM effective range of a shotgun shooting birdshot being about 40 yards I questions where this drone was when it was shot down.

      Further more, your first example is a hollow comparison. Because if the car across the street had a guy in it taking photos of my house or in my window then at the very least I would go over there (armed) and see what exactly was the issue.

      Also, if you are equating a light aircraft trainers to a hovering spy drone the size of an RC car taking pictures to a light aircraft trainer then I question whether you know what either of those things are.

      So yes, i think if a drone flies over your property you have the right to shoot it down. I also question whether the drone pilot had it JUST hovering over his friend’s house or did he take it for a joy ride and get it shot down.

      • porkchop6209

        Here you make reasoned, civil and rational debate points to stimulate intelligent conversation, I applaud you. I think the biggest point of contention here, as far as the article goes, is it gives the impression that the drone may have been flying/ hovering right around his house. We weren’t there, don’t know what happened, haven’t seen the video or an overlay to a GIS plot map, so clarification and not assuming are in order.
        Perhaps, also, the drone owner should have approached the landowner an explained his plans to avoid said confrontation and all, most likely, could have been avoided. My biggest question would have been “What’s an appropriate fee from a taxidermist to mount the thing?”
        And thanks for your CAP service, my son was in CAP and had loads of fun, learned a lot, got to fly a bunch and be involved in activities that he otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to. It is an invaluable and under appreciated organization/branch of the Air Force/ Civil Defense mechanism.

        • Morgon

          The pilot is under no legal obligation to ‘inform’ anyone of his intent, as long as he’s flying over public property (streets, parks, sidewalks) and not within any private boundary which he does not have permission. The shooter, as we can see by his arrest, was under a legal obligation not to let his paranoia get the best of him.

          There’s a lot of discussion about ‘buck or bird’. I’m not a hunter, but there are photos of the damaged quadcopter and propellors. Given a decent range (and the fact that the props are very thin), is it plausible that the shooter was using buckshot?

          • porkchop6209

            I neither said, nor implied, “legal obligation”, I meant common courtesy, something sorely lacking in today’s society. As in “Hi, I’m Joe Rotocopter, my buddy has the house back here that the construction is going on. He asked me to take some aerial pictures with my copter, I just wanted to let you know so if you saw it you’d know what was happening. Is that ok or is it a concern for you?” Voila’, most likely, problem solved, no big deal for either party, no law involved. Ok?

          • Morgon

            Alright, fair enough. Consider it carry-over from other discussions where everyone spouts off ‘invasion of privacy’ despite the story not fitting any legal definition of such.

            In any case, while I agree that common courtesy should be involved more in society as a whole, your argument could be applied in reverse. According to the pilot, there were two interactions with the neighbor: One when the neighbor very aggressively alleged that the quad was flying over his property (which, as far as all of the facts and claims we have, was not occurring); the other being when the shotgun was fired. Repeatedly, I’ll add.

            Do you think either of those were ‘common courtesy’? Besides, since you’re living in hindsight, I’d say it’s more likely that the neighbor certainly wouldn’t have ‘agreed’ to that. The pilot was doing nothing that any normal, rational person should have felt threatened by; especially not to that degree. In the event it made someone uncomfortable, they could have walked outside and asked the pilot what he was doing. THAT is common courtesy.

          • porkchop6209

            True. In previous posts I’ve neither defended the shooter nor justified what he did. I did, however, point out that none of us were there and knew what really occurred, therefore none of us was actually qualified to opine on the matter. If the flyer wasn’t crossing the shooter’s property, wasn’t near his dwelling or had really committed a transgression worthy of said reaction, then the shooter is totally at fault and should be punished. I suppose the courts will figure it out, though I’ve little to no confidence in them anymore either.

    • porkchop6209

      The Constitution explicitly prohibits the gov’t. from taking/destroying private property in the BoR and other sections except under very narrowly defined parameters, YET they now do it with aplomb! So………

  • Joe Blow

    I’m guessing the author is referring to eminent domain, not “imminent domain.”

    • porkchop6209

      Oh, it is “imminent”, because this administration/group is bent and determined to take it all, one way or the other.

    • Bullets First

      You’re right of course, auto spell checker run amok…but porkchop has a point too. It may just be a matter of time before the government just starts gobbling up all the land for itself.

      In the article I changed it to eminent yet a case could be made for imminent being a tongue in cheek reference to how this government sees its citizens’ property

  • Andy Grey

    I don’t think it’s so much that he destroyed the drone. The real question is when you shoot and miss or the bullet goes through he drone;
    Where does that bullet land? Firing bullets into the even in a sparsely populated area, probably not a good idea !
    However; You can use RF interference (or your hose if low enough) to bring one down. >:-)

    • Bullets First

      Great point Andy. Though if you have acres of land its probably a moot point. But yeah, knowing where your bullets will come down is definitely part of good gunsmenship.

    • glacialhills

      Bullets? really, you think he was shooting bullets huh…sigh,

      Out of his “assault 40 gauge shotgun”you know the all black one with the bayonet and pistol grip no less right? ya it MUST be illegal to have one of THOSE guns and to shoot up into the air, that’s why all those duck and goose hunters wait till the birds land in front of the target range backstop to open up on em.


  • Morgon

    Can anyone please cite any source or fact in which the pilot was directly over the shooter’s home or property? I’m all for the Second Amendment, and I’m all for protecting your privacy (which is more applicable to inside your home, rather than your yard), but this twisting of the story is dishonest.

    • Guest

      At some point it was close enough to take THIS picture. And the fact that it took THIS picture when all it was allegedly doing was taking pictures of a building under construction leaves me to think the pilot wasn’t being TOTALLY honest.

      • Morgon

        I’m not sure what picture you’re referring to, exactly. This one? (Via

        If so, you need to know how fisheye lenses work. The neighbor was not a target, and you can clearly see he was not flying over the neighbor’s property.

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  • Oliver St.John-Mollusc

    next time us a catapult

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