A small black drone hovered over Louis Armstrong Stadium during a US Open tennis match in New York Thursday night, before crashing into the stands and forcing play to be briefly interrupted. As the Associated Press reports, the drone crashed toward the end of a second round match between 26th-ranked Flavia Pennetta and Monica Niculescu. Daniel Verley, a 26-year-old teacher from Brooklyn, has been arrested for allegedly flying the drone. He faces charges of reckless endangerment and flying a drone outside of a legal area.
Play was interrupted between points as police examined the black drone, which broke into pieces after landing in an empty part of the stadium at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, New York. A spokesman for the US Tennis Association tells the AP that no one was injured in the incident, adding that no one has authorization to operate drones over the tennis center.
"I was a little bit scared, I have to say," Pennetta said afterward. "I mean, with all the things that happen now in the world, I'm imagining, 'Okay, it's a bomb.' That was my first reaction. I think it's normal to think something like that." The drone can be heard buzzing overhead with Pennetta serving at 5-3 in the second set, before crashing with a loud clang.
Drones have increasingly become a security concern at outdoor sports venues and other live events. In 2014, a drone carrying an Albanian nationalist flag interrupted a European Championship qualifying match between Albania and Serbia, sparking an on-field scuffle that forced the match to be abandoned.
Thursday's incident left both players startled, but Pennetta eventually regained her composure to serve out a 6-1, 6-4 win.
Update September 4th, 7:43AM ET: This article has been revised to include news of the suspect's arrest.