According to multiple news reports and Franklin County (Ohio) Municipal Court Records, Rigoberto Canaca Escoto faces numerous charges for an illegal flight over the weekend at the Ohio State University vs University Maryland college football game.

Canaca Escoto, from Lawrenceville, Georgia, faces the following charges from the flight that occurred during a period when a Temporary Flight Restriction was in place over Ohio Stadium:

  • Unsafe operation of aircraft in a careless or reckless manner
  • Two counts of aircraft operation without a license
  • Inducing panic by committing an offense with reckless disregard
  • Disorderly conduct in a physically offensive condition

Several public safety authorities observed a drone flying from Lennox Town Center and making its way towards Ohio Stadium at approximately 12:20 p.m., shortly after the commencement of Ohio State’s game against Maryland. As the drone passed directly over the stadium, the NCAA officiating team decided to halt the game and evacuate the players from the field, as detailed in a criminal complaint filed with the Franklin County Municipal Court.

The drone then returned to Lennox Town Center. Officers from the Columbus Police counterterrorism unit, closely tailing the drone’s flight path, successfully located and identified Canaca Escoto. They instructed him to bring down his drone safely and detained him for further investigation, as documented in the court record.

Canaca Escoto told officers he purchased the drone from Best Buy the previous day, and he had no basic aerial safety knowledge or an FAA TRUST Certificate.  The detective noted in the criminal complaint that Rigoberto mentioned losing control of the aircraft for approximately three minutes while it was positioned over the densely populated stadium, thereby introducing an added risk of potential physical harm to all those present.

In similar incidents in Cincinnati, Dailon Dabney and Travis Lenhoff were each charged by a federal grand jury in September 2022 concerning separate illegal drone flights related to Cincinnati Bengals and Cincinnati Reds sporting events.

Both individuals entered guilty pleas in March. In August, Lenhoff received his sentence for flying a drone into the restricted zone at Great American Ball Park, which included a one-year probationary period. Dabney admitted to operating a drone within Paul Brown Stadium (now Paycor Stadium) during the NFL playoffs in January 2022.

In September, a federal judge imposed a one-year probationary sentence on Dabney and ordered him to complete 40 hours of community service as part of his sentence.

See Also-

Counter-UAS Stadium and Mass Gathering Resources on C-UAS Hub

Image Credit: Adobe Stock by coachwood)