The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office arrested Gene Alan Carpenter Friday on 14 counts of felony endangerment and one misdemeanor count of unlawful operation of an unmanned aircraft, according to the Associated Press.
In a press release, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office said the 54-year-old Prescott Valley native had endangered 14 aircraft and fire crews “with a substantial risk of imminent death or physical injury by flying an unmanned drone aircraft in the closed airspace above an active fire area.”
The sheriff’s office also indicated that they will be meeting with federal officials on Monday to discuss additional charges against Carpenter at the federal level. Last year, the Arizona Legislature passed a law, which Governor Doug Ducey signed, making it illegal for a drone to interfere with emergency or law-enforcement efforts.
And at the federal level, according to the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, 43 CFR 9212.1(f), it is illegal to resist or interfere with the efforts of firefighters while they are working to extinguish a fire.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, the investigation into the drone interference began on June 24, when a witness reported seeing a man standing next to a white van flying a drone over the wildfire. Sightings of the male subject were also reported on June 27 and again on June 28.
Based on the witness information, drone descriptions, and photos obtained from Carpenter’s website showing drone views of the Goodwin Fire, deputies began searching for him. Carpenter was arrested shortly thereafter and taken to the Camp Verde Detention Center where he remains in custody. Bond has not been set.