NYPD examine a drone that crashed into the stands at Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Game, set, drone.
A city teacher was arrested after his little drone served up a big racket when he crashed the aerial object into the stands at the U.S. Open in Queens Thursday night, authorities and witnesses said.
Daniel Verley, 26, who teaches at the Academy of Innovative Technology in Brooklyn was charged with reckless endangerment, reckless operation of a drone and operating a drone outside the prescribed area for doing so after he crash landed the black four-propellered device into the Louis Armstrong Stadium stands at 8:28 p.m., police said.
The drone floated into the stadium from the east and buzzed diagonally through the air before slamming down into an unoccupied seating area, setting of a security scare, a spokesman for the United States Tennis Association said in a statement.
Players Monica Niculescu, 27, of Romania, and Flavia Pennetta, 33, of Italy, were in the middle of a heated volley in the second-to-last game of their second-round match when the echoing crash startled them both.
The players shot anxious glances at the chair umpire but played out the point.
“A little bit scary, I have to say,” said Pennetta, who went on to win the match 6-1, 6-4. “With everything going on in the world … I thought, ‘OK, it’s over.’ That’s how things happen.”
Security guards rushed to the device, which had partially shattered on impact. The game paused as authorities investigated.
The airborne intruder didn’t hit anyone on its way down and no injuries were reported in the incident, police said.
NYPD is conducting an ‘ongoing investigation.’
Luckily, the stadium, which has a seating capacity of 10,000 and was packed with fans earlier in the day, was sparsely filled during the late-night game.
“If there had been spectators, it would have hit them and done a lot of damage,” Pennetta said. “All of these (security measures), and then it comes in from above.”
A USTA source said authorities traced the drone to a marina on the opposite side of Citi Field and the arrest was made early Friday.
It was not the first encounter of the drone kind for Pennetta, who became Italy’s first top-10 singles player in 2009.
Last year, Daniel Feighry, 34, of Yonkers was arrested for piloting a drone just outside of the U.S. Open Grounds as Pennetta slugged it out with Serena Williams for a spot in the semi-finals.
That same year, authorities increased security at the event after the Al Qaeda-published “Inspire” magazine named the U.S. Open as a prime target for a car bomb attack. Spectators are screened before entering the event, which is flooded with both uniformed and plainclothes cops, and are only allowed to bring in one bag per person.
With News Wire Services
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