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Neighbor shoots down drone near Robert Duvall’s property

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They might or might not have been from the National Enquirer, but two men flying a drone over the home of Fauquier County resident and Hollywood icon Robert Duvall learned a quick lesson in country living when the drone drifted over the home of Duvall's neighbor, Jennifer Youngman, a few weeks ago.

“I was cleaning my .410 gauge and .20 gauge on my front porch when I noticed them,” she recalled of the mid-June incident.

Youngman has been neighbors with Duvall for a few years, after Duvall moved into his current residence. She describes him as a very nice gentleman who appreciates the quietness of Fauquier County.

A longtime county resident, Youngman said the intruding pair quickly brought attention to themselves when they exited their SUV, parked in front of Duvall's residence.

“I put two and two together. They set up a card table and began flying it across the field. The cows were being disturbed, and I thought these might have been some of the same people who have been run off in the past,” she said.

Youngman said a series of burglaries in the area a few years ago, coupled with sightseers, has caused an increase in neighborhood awareness, as well as action by Duvall's security team.

She said the pair appeared to lose control of the drone as the wind picked up, pushing the drone over her pasture.

“They were going a little too fast and they went over my airspace. I had my .20-gauge there, so I put two 71/2 birdshot shells in it, and there you are.”

Youngman said the men began yelling at her, but fled in a black Range Rover when she threatened to call the police.

“They were kinda mad, but they knew to not come on my property,” she said.

“I have a bit of regret, I had small pieces of drone all over my pasture. It's already given me two flat tires on my tractor,” she noted.

Youngman said the incident has caused quite a stir in the northern part of the county where she lives, with rumors flying about the identities of the men amid speculation they were reporters for the gossip weekly National Enquirer or paparazzi hoping to obtain a photo of Duvall.

“We've had quite a few laughs in the neighborhood,” she said about the incident.

“We have people around here all the time, and he's a really nice man,” she said of Duvall and those seeking to bask in his celebrity. “But you have to respect other people's property.”

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(18) comments

kr1839

Ignore the little brownshirts and armchair lawyers. You have every right to protect your property and privacy. This lady put all of the papparazzi, perverts, and drone nerds on alert. Hover your drone over someone's property in Virginia and it will get blown out of the sky.

timberrjack

This women definitely committed a couple of felony's and hopefully she'll pay to replace the private property that she destroyed. The FAA regulates all airspace, even that which is below 500ft and firing a weapon into the air to destroy an aircraft (manned or unmanned) is a crime.

Comment deleted.
Ike Miller

Not offended in the least! I simply consider the source. BTW, even threatening to disable an aircraft is a multi-thousand dollar fine and up to five years in prison. Flying over your home, or anyone else's for that matter, is legal. Perhaps you could contact the FAA and request a "No Fly Zone" above your property might be a better move.

Ike Miller

To KR1839 - While I respect your right to comment, I do indeed take offense of your "telling" me what I'm thinking. Arrogance at it's finest! I fly for pleasure, follow the rules, and licensed by the FAA and insured by the AMA. I comply with all laws on the books concerning drones. I have NO interest in taking videos of other people's homes, families, poolside activities, etc. I shoot sunrises, sunsets and panorama of our beautiful county, and of my personal residence. I value MY privacy and other individuals' right to privacy. To assume that you, Sir must be RABID about Google Earth, police license plate scanning and other far more powerful surveillance tools happening daily! "These people" ? Don't dare question my patriotism, my fundamental beliefs in privacy and my intentions, or for that matter, other UAV operators. What's next, attacking private pilots ? Ultralight pilots? Motorized paraglide pilots ? I fly WELL above the tree line. At 200 + feet, it is impossible to make out minute details of STILL objects, much less people. I encourage you to invest in LEARNING about the positive capabilities of UAVs. You are welcome anytime to come see the technology for yourself! Then, maybe you can speak from experience.

kr1839

Be wary of people who declare the “right” to invade your privacy and property and claim that it is sanctioned by the "law". These same people, without hesitation, will also declare what rights you don't have. Ike thinks he has the “right” to come onto your private property by hovering his little drone over your house and then invading your privacy by taking pictures or streaming video of you and your family. And you “have no right” to do anything about it. Privacy and property rights, freedom from illegal searches and seizures, and other fundamental liberties that our country was founded upon mean nothing to these people.

roboknight

Most commenters are suggesting the FAA has control of airspace that likely belongs to you, at this time. Below 500 ft., Ms. Youngman was well within her rights in VA to prevent trespassing. While drones can certainly fly higher than 500 ft., it seems unlikely that the two gentleman in the SUV were flying that high, if, as Ms. Youngman claims, the drone was scaring cattle. And if you don't believe me, then as a previous, but inaccurate poster suggested, look it up:

In 1946, the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed that a landowner has a right to prevent “intrusions of airspace” just as he does invasions on the ground, and that he owned “at least as much of the space above the ground as he can occupy or use in connection with the land.” U.S. v. Causby, 328 U.S. 256 (1946).

Dave Webster

I disagree. It is debatable whether Ms. Youngman was within her rights. I am an attorney in Herndon and I can tell you the law is unsettled in this point. My advice to Ms. Youngman is to remain silent, make no comments to the media and if any law enforcement officials, whether state or federal, show up to her house answer no questions and state she wishes to speak to an attorney. I only hope the drone owners don't come back to file some kind of complaint. Dave Webster

roboknight

Attorney or no, it doesn't change that the Supreme Court currently would side with Ms. Youngman as far as airspace ownership below 500 ft (the 500 ft actually comes from the FAA, as it only regulates airspace above 500 ft). As far as drones being shot down within that zone, I don't believe VA has anything on the books yet covering drones in that airspace. I would agree with your advice not to talk to the police, or for that matter, a newspaper, regarding actions you might have taken against the drone, but I can't find anything in particular Ms. Youngman did that violates any statue in VA. Now if the two gentleman can produce evidence that they were flying within FAA airspace, then Ms. Youngman has violated a federal statute with penalties that could send her to jail as well as fine her, but I doubt anyone will see those two again for a while.

timberrjack

Does this mean that you assume that you have the right to open fire at a vehicle that is turning around in your driveway? If you do, you're going to jail for more than one crime. The FAA has authority over all airspace and shooting someone else's private property just for being near yours, over yours or even in your lawn is still a crime. If you shoot at anyone who is not posing a threat to your physical safety and has not entered your home, you'll be charged with felony assault and possible murder. If you shoot at private property, let's say a car, just because it's briefly entered your driveway, you'll be charged with not only destruction of property, but also with criminal endangerment.

Spyder3534

This article glorifies a violation of federal laws. The lady doesn't own the airspace, that's our national space controlled by the FAA. Fauquier.com should be careful when publishing incriminating quotes from people.

Ike Miller

The FAA controls the airspace over your home, farm or land. Federal statues in 18 USC 32 (look it up) specifically treat UAVs, (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) as aircraft, have developed specific rules for flying UAVs, including registering the UAV and the pilot, as well as specific guidelines for flying safely.

I have flown UAVs for several years, and have logged more than 50 hours of flight time. I am insured by the AMA, and am registered with the FAA per its rules. Whether the operators were actually trying to get a photograph of someone's property or otherwise flying legally, it is ILLEGAL to shoot at or shoot down an aircraft - period.

What Ms. Youngman did by shooting down a UAW is against Federal Law. Whether she was concerned about Mr. Duvall's privacy, worried about the UAV being used in a criminal manner, or upset that cattle were being scared is irrelevant to this "story".

It is my greatest hope that The Fauquier Times will polish up this story, present the facts about flying UAVs legally, and more importantly, present the legal side of this case.

Flattening tires from bits of a UAV? I seriously doubt this, based on my experience and understanding the tiny pieces used to build these aircraft.

I have great hopes for the reporting of news from the new owners of the Times. I sincerely hope that this article is not indicative of the journalism to come.

kr1839

Apparently some people are so scared out of their little knickers of guns (and no doubt anti-2nd amendment) that they are willing to spin and make excuses for people breaking the law and invading someone's property and privacy. Good job lady. I would have done the same thing. This was not intended to hurt anyone's wittle feelings.

ots

I am not condoning the operators behavior and I have noting against the second amendment. I am against people committing federal crimes by shooting an aircraft down. Shooting it down is not a solution to the problem it simply adds a second problem. While you may have done the same thing note that it is illegal. The FAA has stated it is illegal to shoot them down under 18 USC 32. The correct way to deal with the issue is not to grab you gun and start shooting. Rather ask them who they are and why they are there, ask them to leave, report them to the authorities, call the police, get the license plate of the SUV, pictures of the people. Don't take the law into you own hands. Don't go commit a crime yourself. She is now no better than they are. Are you really congratulating someone for breaking the law? What if the operator had a reason to be there or had be asked to make a video for the Duvall's (unlikely as they would not have run off after). The point is she didn't bother to find out she grabbed a gun and shot it down which is illegal. Unfortunately, if she had gotten evidence against them they could have gotten in alot of trouble but instead she chased them off and committed a crime herself. Its operators like that that create a bad images for UAS ('drones') wish she had done something to identify and catch them vs running them off and breaking the law.

timberrjack

Ots, you're completely right. She committed several felonies by firing a weapon like that into the sky, bringing down an aircraft. If she so much as shines a laser pointer at an aircraft, she'll be charge with up to a $5,000 fine. Next time, she'll do better if she simply takes a photograph of the gentlemen and reports them for something like voyeurism or a disturbing the peace, which is a crime. Now she's opened herself up to possible federal investigations for firearm misuse, firing at an aircraft in federal airspace and civil suits for destruction of private property.

It's just as reckless and illegal to shoot at a car that is turning around in your driveway.

wjhunter3

Note to editors: .410 (with a period) is a caliber, not a gauge like 20 (without the period).

ots

While the UAS 'drone' operator was most likely in the wrong flying over Duvall's property and appeared to be paparazzi it still gives the neighbor no right to shoot it down. Did the neighbor even ask them to leave or was her first reaction was to grab her gun which she just happened to be cleaning on the front porch and shoot it down? This article is simply glorifying the fact that she took the law into her own hands rather than doing the right thing and calling authorities. Unfortunately the way this article is written basically promotes the use of guns by citizens to shoot unmanned aircraft down which is not legal. Is any action being taken against Ms Youngman as she is publicly boasting about her illegal actions?

Ike Miller

Agreed and well written. Likely, the Sheriff's Office could have done very little, (unless other laws were broken by the operators) other than those persons trespassing by car or on foot, were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or flying in a manner that is clearly unsafe for people or property. A simple "warning" should have been sufficient!

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