California

Drone dumped swastika leaflets at Sac State. Suspect pilot now faces charges for NFL flights

Flyers allegedly dropped by Tracy Mapes on two NFL games in 2017, according to prosecutors. The flyers bear a similar resemblance to flyers purportedly dropped by Mapes over parts of Sacramento this year.
Flyers allegedly dropped by Tracy Mapes on two NFL games in 2017, according to prosecutors. The flyers bear a similar resemblance to flyers purportedly dropped by Mapes over parts of Sacramento this year. U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California

Tracy Mapes faces federal charges of violating national defense airspace nearly two years after his arrest in 2017 for steering a drone and dumping fliers over Bay Area football games.

The federal complaint was filed Tuesday in San Jose Federal Court, U.S. attorneys and the Department of Transportation announced in a joint statement on Wednesday. Mapes will stand before a federal magistrate June 4 in San Jose. He could face up to a year in federal custody and pay a maximum $100,000 fine.

The new charges come weeks after the North Highlands man allegedly dropped Nazi-themed fliers from drones over a Sacramento State university event and at Golden 1 Center.

Mapes, 56, of North Highlands sent drones over games at Levi’s Stadium and the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in November 2017, according to a federal affidavit, dropping a payload of fliers on the thousands of spectators below.

Drone Pilot Arrested
This Nov. 26, 2017, photo released by the Santa Clara Police Department shows Tracy Michael Mapes, 55, of Sacramento. Authorities say Mapes was arrested after using a drone to drop anti-media leaflets over crowds at NFL games in Santa Clara and Oakland and that federal, state and local officials are investigating. Santa Clara Police Department via AP

Both the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders hosted games the day of Mapes’ suspected mission, Nov. 26, 2017. Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara was the first target before Mapes allegedly trained the drone’s sights on the Raiders’ home field. San Francisco hosted the Seattle Seahawks that day.

Police officers and other first responders were honored for First Responder Appreciation Week at Levi’s Stadium..

Mapes was later arrested in Oakland after a sheriff’s deputy spotted the drone, The Bee reported at the time. Mapes was cited on misdemeanor charges in nearby Santa Clara County and released from custody. The drone was seized.

The airspace above the National Football League stadiums and within a three-mile radius is designated “national defense airspace” during NFL games under federal law. The airspace is designated as important to national security and aircraft are restricted from operating in the skies there.

The Tuesday federal filing comes out of an investigation by Transportation Department agents and just weeks after swastika-printed leaflets were dropped from above the annual “Bites at the Bridge” event on the Guy West Bridge, referring to the press as “the enemy,” and demanding that readers “stop the TV whore takeover!” The name “Tracy Mapes” was found printed on some of the fliers recovered at the event, along with a copyright symbol and the year 2018.

Sacramento State President Robert S. Nelsen strongly condemned the drone flier drop, saying the “spreading of such vile material is offensive and runs counter to the principles of inclusion and diversity practiced at Sac State,” vowing the acts would not “slow our march toward greater understanding and commitment to the rights and safety of our campus community.”

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