QUEENS — A drone operated by a city public school teacher crashed into the stands of the U.S. Open during a match Thursday, police said.
The drone was flying over Louis Armstrong Stadium from the east as Flavia Pennetta took on Monica Niculescu when it crashed into an empty section of the stands at 8:27 p.m., the U.S. Tennis Association said in a statement.
No one was injured and police detained 26-year-old Daniel Verley near the stadium.
Verley was charged a little after 1 a.m. with reckless endangerment, reckless operation of a drone and operating a drone outside of a designated area, an NYPD spokesman said.
"Many people operating unmanned aircraft are novices with little or no aviation experience and recklessly flying a drone near, over or into a tennis stadium or an airport or any other place where large groups of people assemble needlessly puts lives in danger," said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown in a statement. "Those who engage in conduct of this nature will be held legally accountable for their actions. They will not be treated as children — or as innocent hobbyists."
Pennetta went on to win the match 6-1, 6-4.
"A little bit scary, I have to say," Pennetta told the media after the incident, according to the AP.
"With everything going on in the world ... I thought, 'OK, it's over.' That's how things happen."
A neighbor said Velery, who lives in Jamaica, was a "regular neighborhood guy" who he had never seen flying a drone.
"I don't know if he knew the rules about drones," Damon Long, 39, said. "Whatever punishment he gets should be light."
He has not been suspended and the department will monitor the criminal case to decide if any disciplinary action is needed.
The teacher received a desk appearance ticket and is due in court on Sept. 16, according to the Queens District Attorney's Office.