Drone Stalker Arrested: Canonsburg Man Accused of Harassing Teenage Girls

A 44-year-old man from Canonsburg, , has been arrested for allegedly using his drone to stalk and harass teenage girls in his neighborhood. Michael Francis Brackman faces multiple misdemeanor charges, including stalking, possession of an instrument of crime, harassment, and unlawful use of a manned aircraft, reports the Observer-Reporter.

Complaints and Investigation

Canonsburg began receiving complaints about Brackman's behavior last month.

Chief of Police Alex Coghill stated, “We got a couple general calls here and there, nothing that led us to believe was significant enough to say stalking and harassing was occurring. It was occurring, but it wasn't being reported on a daily basis.”

The investigation revealed that Brackman had been using his drone to follow a 13-year-old female neighbor since April 2023. The girl's mother claimed that on May 15, Brackman's drone hovered above her and her daughter in their backyard. Her boyfriend pointed an unloaded handgun at the drone, prompting it to leave. Shortly after, a letter was posted on their door, stating that it was a crime to point a gun at a drone.

Victim Accounts

The 13-year-old girl told investigators that Brackman's drone began following her anytime she went outside, whether she was jumping on her trampoline or going to the park with friends. She estimated that the drone followed her at least 80 to 90 times. When Brackman encountered the girl in person, he made uncomfortable comments, such as “How was your run, beautiful?”

Police discovered five additional cases involving juveniles during their investigation. In one incident, Brackman allegedly used his drone to take a picture of children playing with chalk in an alleyway and hung the picture at various spots around the neighborhood.

Impact on the Community

The incidents have caused fear and concern among the children and their parents.

According to the complaint, “Multiple juveniles changed their lifestyles and refused to play outside as often as usual. They reported they would run house to house in (an) effort to avoid being seen by the drone.”

Chief Coghill noted that while drone laws are relatively simple and vague, it becomes alarming when the drone is used to accomplish other purposes, such as stalking.

“This is the only report we have ever gotten where it was used to accomplish stalking,” Coghill said.

Legal Proceedings

Brackman was arraigned on Tuesday before District Judge James Saieva, who sent him to the County jail on a $10,000 bond. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 2 at 10:15 a.m.

DroneXL's Take

The arrest of Michael Francis Brackman highlights the potential for drones to be misused as tools for harassment and stalking. While drones have numerous beneficial applications, such as in photography, inspection, and delivery services, it is crucial that operators adhere to regulations and respect the privacy of others.

This incident serves as a reminder that the drone community must prioritize responsible and ethical use of these devices. Manufacturers and regulators should continue to develop and enforce guidelines to prevent the misuse of drones and protect the public from harassment and invasion of privacy.

As the popularity of drones continues to grow, it is essential that educational initiatives are put in place to ensure that operators understand their responsibilities and the consequences of misusing these powerful tools. By promoting a culture of responsibility and accountability within the drone community, we can help prevent incidents like the one in Canonsburg and ensure that drones continue to be a positive force for innovation and progress.

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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