SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) — A 55-year-old man has been arrested after he allegedly flew a drone over both the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders games on Sunday and dropped a load of anti-media leaflets.
Santa Clara authorities have identified the man as Tracy Mapes.
According to investigators, Mapes piloted his drone over Levi’s Stadium during the second quarter of the 49ers-Seattle game and released a load of pamphlets.
He then quickly landed the drone, loaded it up and drove over to Oakland. He flew a similar mission over the Raiders-Broncos game.
Santa Clara Police Lt. Dan Moreno said Mapes was arrested in Oakland after authorities spotted a drone over that city’s stadium shortly after the Santa Clara flight.
Moreno said after Mapes was apprehended he defended the illegal action as a form of free speech.
“It was something about free speech and his belief that television stations are corrupt,” Moreno said.
The air space over a stadium is restricted by law and drone pilots are prohibited from flying the device in that area.
“If one of them were to crash, the blades are sharp — we certainly don’t want them hitting the crowd or the players,” Moreno told the San Francisco Chronicle. “It’s kind of up to the abilities of the drone operators, and there is no way of knowing if they know what they are doing. A stadium is not a good place to fly a drone.”
Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies were all investigating the incident.