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Charges: Man shot down drone of guy trying to film chickens being 'slaughtered'

The suspect admitted to a sheriff's deputy that he shot the drone with a shotgun.

A 34-year-old man is accused of shooting down a drone of a person who was trying to film the slaughtering of chickens at a southern Minnesota facility. 

Travis Duane Winters of Butterfield, Minnesota, is charged via summons with first-degree damage to property and reckless discharge of a firearm within city limits, both felonies, in connection to the May 8 incident. 

According to court documents, a deputy with the Watonwan County Sheriff's Office was dispatched to Butterfield Foods, a chicken production company in Butterfield, Minnesota, for a disturbance. The victim said he was flying his drone over Butterfield Foods to capture images of chickens that were being "slaughtered" because of COVID-19. 

While the victim was sitting in his car, two people approached him and asked him what he was doing, documents say. A short time later his phone had a black screen and said "disconnected." 

The victim saw someone walking into Butterfield Foods with his drone. He followed them and heard him say, "I shot the drone," documents state. The person then left in a black pickup truck. 

The deputy located the driver, identified as Winters, who told the deputy that he shot the drone with a 12-gauge shotgun, according to the summons. 

The victim said the cost of a replacement for his drone was $1,880, the documents note.

According to Drone Life, the number of incidents where someone has shot down a drone has increased. The publication spoke with aviation attorney Jacob Tewes about these types of incidents, who said shooting down a drone is a federal crime because drones are aircraft, noting the space about people's homes and businesses falls under the jurisdiction of the FAA – it is not owned by the property owner. 

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