Authorities have identified the man who flew a small drone over the park in front of the White House.
U.S. Park Police gave details Friday, saying that U.S. Secret Service officials detained Ryan MacDonald, 39, of Vacaville, Calif., after he flew a drone over Lafayette Square on Thursday afternoon.
The incident began just after 1 p.m. when Secret Service officers spotted the drone flying over the park, just north of the White House. MacDonald, who was operating the drone, was quickly located and taken into custody.
Lelani Woods, a spokeswoman with the park police, said the drone operator was standing on Pennsylvania Avenue, just north of the White House when he was located.
Secret Service members told him to land the drone and he did. The device was inspected and deemed safe, according to officials.
MacDonald was turned over to park police. He was later arrested and charged for violating a federal order, which prohibits flying unmanned aerial vehicles in the District and on federal lands. At the time he was taken into custody, officials did not release his identity.
MacDonald is expected in court in June.
In a photograph provided by officials, the drone appears to be a Parrot Bebop Drone. According to the product’s Web site, it is just under a foot long, about 11 inches wide and weighs less than a pound.
Roads were closed around the White House in the afternoon while police investigated.
A day before this incident, the Federal Aviation Administration had launched a campaign to remind people that everything within a 15-mile radius of Reagan National Airport is considered a “No Drone Zone.”
“Federal rules prohibit any aircraft from operating in the Flight Restricted Zone around our nation’s capital without specific approval,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement Wednesday. “That includes all unmanned aircraft.”
The FAA started the campaign a month after a Florida man piloted a gyrocopter to the lawn of the U.S. Capitol. That incident caused a major security scare as he breached Washington’s highly restricted airspace without anyone appearing to notice.
Last month, FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta said the gyrocopter appeared on the radar as a small dot that was overlooked by air traffic controllers.
“Anyone visiting the D.C. area should leave their drone at home,” Huerta said in a statement Wednesday.
Staff writers Mark Berman, Carol D. Leonning, Matthew McFarland and Julie Zauzmer contributed to this report.