Police investigate after drone buzzes near Space Needle

Police investigate after drone buzzes near Space Needle »Play Video
Image from video posted on YouTube, shot by a Phantom Vision quadcopter drone in Seattle, Wash. July 22, 2014.
SEATTLE - It was a tall order, but police were quick to react late Tuesday after receiving eyewitness reports of a drone flying near Seattle's world-famous Space Needle.

Space Needle security personnel called police just before 8:30 p.m. after several guests reported seeing a small drone buzzing the top of the iconic tourist attraction, and possibly crash into an observation deck window, said Jonah Spangenthal-Lee of the Seattle police.

Witnesses then said they saw the drone - described as a white, quad-propeller aircraft equipped with a camera - glide to a hotel two blocks east of the Needle, where it landed inside a fifth-floor room.

Police investigated but found no signs of damage to the top of the Space Needle.

Security staff pointed out the fifth-floor hotel room where the drone had landed, and officers went there and contacted a man inside. The man told police he’d just flown his drone past the Space Needle, but said he had not struck anything.

He then showed officers video he’d captured during the drone’s flight, which showed it hovering over the Space Needle’s observation deck as tourists waved. Nothing on the video indicated the drone had hit the Needle.

"They just advised him not to fly around the Space Needle," Det. Drew Fowler with Seattle Police said. "He's welcome to go fly it as much as he likes just as long as he stays within regulations."

The video captured by the drone was posted on YouTube Thursday afternoon but was removed by the user Thursday night.

"He showed us the video and it turns out it had not made contact with the Space Needle," Det. Fowler said.

The Dallas man told police he was on business with Amazon.com, visiting from out of state, and had recently purchased the DJI Phantom 2 drone at a hobby shop.

After a discussion with police about some of Seattle’s recent drone-related controversies, the man agreed not to fly his drone in public during his visit.