A Raleigh man was charged with flying a drone over the N.C. State Fair on Wednesday night, and Wake County sheriff’s investigators have obtained search warrants to cull through the video images the man made with the machine, according to Sheriff Donnie Harrison.
Matthew Allen Kenning, 38, of Shadow Creek Drive in Raleigh, was charged with one count of misdemeanor regulation of an unmanned aircraft system. “He did not have permission to fly the drone on state property,” Harrison said Thursday.
While talking with Kenning, deputies discovered that he had Adderall, an amphetamine used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other “unlabled pills,” Harrison said. That resulted in charges of simple possession of drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to the Wake County Clerk of Courts Office.
A background check revealed that Kenning is a registered sex offender, who was convicted in 2003 of an inappropriate sex act with a 15-year-old in Marion, Indiana. Kenning was sentenced to 3 years in prison.
Kenning was already in jail Thursday just after 6 p.m. when sheriff’s deputies also charged him being being a sex offender on child premises, according to an arrest warrant filed at the Wake County Magistrate’s Office. Investigators have accused Kenning of visiting a children’s playground on Sept. 11, according to the arrest warrant.
Kenning was booked into the Wake County jail Thursday at 12:41 a.m. under a $1,000 bail, a jail spokesman reported. He remained in custody late Thursday afternoon with an additional $50,000 added to his bail as a consequence of charges that he visited a playground, court records show.
Harrison said that after learning Kenning was a registered sex offender, the sheriff’s office obtained a search warrant to review the video data the drone collected at the Fair.
“He said he was collecting video to sell on YouTube to help pay for the drone,” Harrison said. “We want to see what was captured by the drone and consult with the district attorney. He said he wanted to sell aerial video of the fair. Right now, we don’t know what his intent was. It might have been lights, sounds and the Ferris wheel.”
A Trooper with the N.C. State Highway Patrol spotted the unmanned craft hovering above the Fair at about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. A sheriff’s deputy followed the direction that the drone was traveling and saw a man with some type of device around his neck bring the aircraft to the ground.
“We wanted to find the person controlling it pretty quickly because if it had crashed it could have hurt a lot of people,” Harrison said.
Kenning’s arrest marked the second time this week that a registered sex offender has been arrested at the State Fair. Tyrone Francie Szabo, 64, of Franklin County, who has been on the state’s sex offender registry since 2006, was arrested Tuesday and charged with posing as a state ride inspector to get into an area reserved for children’s rides.