High-Tech Takedown: Stafford County Deputies Use Drone to Find, Arrest Suspected Gunman - NBC4 Washington

Julie Carey, David Culver and the News4 team covering where you live

High-Tech Takedown: Stafford County Deputies Use Drone to Find, Arrest Suspected Gunman

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    Deputies in Stafford County, Virginia, are now using drones in certain situations. News4's David Culver reports why the sheriff's office says it is a safer way for them to find suspects. (Published Friday, June 2, 2017)

    The future is now.

    Officers in Stafford County, Virginia, arrested a suspected gunman Thursday thanks to a drone.

    The hours-long manhunt started in western Stafford County near Fauquier County. The county sheriff's office said a man was shooting into a vehicle.

    When deputies arrived, he was no where in site.

    So, up went the drone.

    "It's feeding realtime information to this truck and then commanders, supervisors, tactical operators are able to view that information in realtime and make decisions that are beneficial to the community," Stafford County Sheriff's Office Lt. Ben Worcester told News4.

    The drone captured infrared images, which can help track a suspect's body heat.

    Eventually, the drone switched to its normal camera and one of the sheriff’s deputies spotted movement.

    "This was the first one that was kind of dynamic in nature where you can call it a manhunt. A person in question was fleeing the scene because they had committed a crime," Worcester said.

    Thanks to the eye in the sky, SWAT members knew where to go and what to expect and were able to safely arrest Jeffrey Owens.

    Stafford County Sheriff David Decatur said his office has four drones and the county has already seen success since launching its program at the start of the year.

    In March, SWAT members were ready to move in on a suspected meth maker's home, but the drone spotted children playing nearby.

    "The drone operators were able to relay that to our tactical operators in the woodline to let them know the potential concerns of the children," Dacatur said.

    Decatur said the drones also help deputies track down missing persons.

    "We have to quickly get there, and with the use of a drone we can use that technology to cover a large area very quickly and try to coordinate our ground efforts to try to locate the missing subject," Decatur said.