Players and attendees at the U.S. Open are used to reminders that flying objects are around; usually, though, they come in the form of noise from planes taking off from nearby La Guardia airport. On Thursday, a flying object interrupted a match, but fortunately no one was injured when a drone crashed into the stands at Louis Armstrong Stadium.
On Friday, a high school science teacher was arrested and released for allegedly operating the device. Daniel Verley, 26, faces charges of reckless endangerment and has a court date set for Sept. 16, the Associated Press reports.
The incident occurred just before 8:30 p.m. during a second-round match between 26th-seeded Flavia Pennetta and Monica Niculescu. The drone flew over the court and landed in an unoccupied area of seating.
“No spectators were in the immediate area of the crash and there were no injuries,” the USTA said in a statement, adding that the police investigation was underway.
Neither Verley nor anyone representing him have commented on the matter and it remains unclear what the drone’s purpose was. The players, however, found it unnerving.
“A little bit scary, I have to say,” Pennetta said (via the AP) after the match. “With everything going on in the world … I thought, ‘Okay, it’s over.’ That’s how things happen.”
The match, which was in what would turn out to be its penultimate game, was paused while security and law enforcement personnel examined the drone, which had broken into a few pieces. Pennetta went on to defeat Niculescu 6-1, 6-4.
“The chair umpire just wanted to wait for an okay from the police to be able to continue,” Pennetta said, “even if, truthfully, I don’t think even they knew what it was.”
“If there had been spectators, it would have hit them and done a lot of damage,” Pennetta added.
This post has been updated.