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Charlotte BofA manager watched in shock as drone sped straight to his 6th-floor window

A Bank of America audit manager said he watched in shock as a drone sped straight into his 6th-floor window in the bank’s uptown Charlotte building.

Brent Finnell said he was sitting at his window as he and a few co-workers watched the drone fly over an outdoor seating area about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday when the drone suddenly came right at him.

“It didn’t break the window,” Finnell told The Charlotte Observer in an email Friday, “but the building engineers came to inspect it later and noted some marks on the exterior.”

“After it struck the window, it fell straight down on to the seating area outside Starbucks and the Bank of America Plaza building and broke into multiple pieces,” he said.

Moments earlier, they’d watched the drone flying around but they never saw the pilot, he said.

“After no one came to claim the wreckage, Bank of America Plaza building security arrived about 10 minutes later and took the pieces with them,” Finnell told the Observer.

In a Facebook message to the drone operator an hour after the drone hit his window, Finnell said: “If you crashed your drone into my window at work today, it’s broken and with security. Thanks for the scare.”

Police on Thursday asked the public for help in identifying the pilot. CMPD says the person faces charges of reckless endangerment and damage to property, according to a police news release.

CMPD described him as a white male wearing a gray T-shirt, khaki cargo shorts, white socks and black boots.

Anyone with information is urged to call 911 or Crimestoppers at 704-334-1600.

On Friday, police asked drone owners to familiarize themselves with federal mandates regarding drones and drone safety tips at faa.gov/uas/ and with N.C. drone laws at https://bit.ly/2VFtTYT.

“If you are the person that was flying the drone around the other day, come talk to us,” CMPD Officer Blake Page said in a CMPD video tweet Friday. “We’ll walk through it with you.”

“Although it’s a lot of fun to fly these things around, there comes some responsibility with their operation, to make sure you’re doing it safely,” Page said. “Flying it around people, flying it around buildings, and especially at certain altitudes is not only not safe, but can also be illegal.”

The drone caused debris to fall, “but fortunately no one was injured,” according to the officer.

Since May, the FAA has required all hobby pilots —except commercial operators — to seek authorization to fly in controlled airspace, DroneRush reported. That includes areas such as uptown Charlotte that are within a few miles of an airport.

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Joe Marusak has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1989 covering the people, municipalities and major news events of the region, and was a news bureau editor for the paper. He currently reports on breaking news.
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