A park ranger in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park used a stun gun to subdue a visitor for flying an unmanned drone above a lava flow.
The Associated Press reports that the incident took place around 10 p.m. Sunday night near the Halema’uma’u Crater on Kilauea. Crowds had gathered to catch a spectacular view of lava rising in the caldera.
The suspect, identified as 35-year-old Travis Sanders, was flying a recreational drone above the lava flow when he was confronted by a park ranger, who allegedly asked Sanders three times to bring the craft down.
When Sanders refused and fled to the edge of the caldera, the ranger used a stun gun, or taser, to apprehend him.
“The suspect refused to identify himself and fled — not far from the edge of the caldera, which is more than 500 feet. The ranger deployed his taser to stop the fleeing suspect and then arrested the suspect for failure to comply with a lawful order and interferring with agency functions,” park spokeswoman Jessica Ferracane toldHawai’i News Now.
Sanders, however, told the news channel that the ranger overreacted. “A guy approached me in the dark and said, ‘Bring it down!’ and he was very angry. I had no idea he was a ranger. He sounded very angry, confrontational—like he wanted to fight—and I didn’t really want to stick around for it so I just told him, ‘I don’t have ID and I’m leaving.’
Park officials have launched an investigation into the incident. The law enforcement ranger was certified to carry a Taser.
Sanders has a July 22 court date. If convicted, he faces a potential sentence of six months in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.