Shots fired at Kansas City drone stir privacy debate

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A man testing out the drone he got for Christmas had to call 911 Thursday when he says a neighbor started shooting at it. But when Kansas City police arrived, he says they told him he was the one in the wrong.

Chris Van Meerhaeghe got the hot Christmas item, sure to be taking flight somewhere near you as people unwrap their drones this weekend, a little early.

“I’ve been flying around my house for probably four days, it’s hard to put it down it’s a lot of fun,” he said.

For the real estate photographer it’s more than just a toy. He plans to use it to for his business, but first he needed to take some test flights around the neighborhood.

But as he took flight Thursday around noon, one Carriage Hill Estates neighbor apparently wasn’t happy about it.

“I’m just trying to learn to fly off the instrument panels and seeing what my range is and that’s when the guy started shooting at my drone,” Van Meerhaeghe said.

He hit the record button, and circled around the neighborhood to see where the shots were coming from.

“I was shocked and I was scared. Fifteen seconds later he pulls down here and he was making threats,” he said.

No one was home when we went to speak to the neighbor. The video doesn’t clearly show what the man was doing. Van Meerhaeghe says that only goes to prove his point that people flying drones aren’t necessarily trying to invade your privacy.

“Okay, I’m at 110-feet and I still can’t recognize us, I’m at 36-feet and I still can’t make out any facial expressions,” he demonstrated.

Even though police told him the man fired an airsoft gun, Van Meerhaeghe says the incident will be back of his mind each time he uses his new gift.

“It makes me aware of my surroundings. I’ll check with the agents and make sure the people talk to their neighbors and say, 'hey, we may have a photographer over here with a drone flying around,' because I sure don’t want to come out and get in a confrontation with anybody,” he said.

No one was charged, but Van Meerhaeghe says cops told him he could be charged for flying a drone illegally in Kansas City.

FOX 4 is still trying to verify those claims, but spokespersons for both the Kansas City Police Department and City of Kansas City said Friday that the drone under your tree is legal to fly in Kansas City, but there are some FAA regulations. Click here for more information.