HONOLULU (AP) — A ranger did what was necessary when he used a stun gun on a man flying a drone over a lake of lava, the National Park Service said.
Crowds have been flocking to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to watch a steadily rising lava lake at the summit of Kilauea volcano.
There were several hundred people at an outlook area at about 10 p.m. on Sunday when a ranger asked Travis Sanders three times to bring the drone down, park spokeswoman Jessica Ferracane told The Associated Press Tuesday. The ranger told Sanders flying an unmanned aircraft in a national park is prohibited.
Sanders eventually brought down the drone. "The ranger identified himself and approached the individual, who refused to identify himself," Ferracane said.
Because Sanders fled and was near the edge of the caldera rim — where there's a 500-foot drop — the ranger deployed a Taser, Ferracane said.
Sanders, 35, of Pahoa, Hawaii, was arrested and cited with interfering with agency functions and operating an aircraft on undesignated land. He was taken to a Hawaii County police cellblock where he spent the night and was released in the morning on $500 bond, Ferracane said.
He has a July 22 court date.
Sanders brought his family to the park to record the lava with his drone and didn't realize the man yelling at him to bring it down was a ranger, he told Hawaii News Now. "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," he told the Honolulu news station.
Randy Horne was setting up his camera and tripod at the overlook when he heard a commotion. He heard someone yell stop and when he turned around, he saw the ranger pull out a stun gun. He saw the weapon's "sparkly, glowing blue" wires attached to a man on the ground.
"I really didn't see there was any severe threat going on," Horne, of Honokaa, Hawaii, told the AP. "In my opinion, I thought it was a severe overreaction."
Horne watched as Sanders was handcuffed, checked by paramedics and then put into a police car.
The park service is investigating, Ferracane said. "He was described as being very unpredictable, belligerent," she said of Sanders. "The ranger felt he needed to be stopped for the safety of himself and others."
Information from: KGMB-TV
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.
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