“Shoot it down?” Complaint came in 2 hours before blimp crash from farmer concerned for cattle

ERIN — Officials with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday, June 20th confirmed they received a complaint from a property owner, who asked whether he could “shoot down” a blimp that later crashed at the U.S. Open at Erin Hills.

Sheriff’s officials said on June 15th, shortly before 9:00 a.m., they received a complaint from a property owner near the private airstrip where the aircraft launched. During the original call, the complainant advised that the aircraft was scaring his cattle.  He also was concerned that the aircraft may be violating permits/regulations during its operation.

Near the end of the call, the complainant asked if he could “…shoot it down?”

The dispatcher advised no, and that a deputy was on his way to meet with him.  The question was asked in a sarcastic manner, but could be construed as a vague threat, sheriff’s officials said.

A deputy met with the man, advised him on his concerns and determined that he was not a threat to the aircraft.

Just over two hours later, the aircraft was seen in distress and crashed.

Investigators were almost immediately assigned to locate and interview the complainant from earlier in the morning.

He was located, and during a thorough interview, denied any involvement in the aircraft crash.

Through interviews, evidence at the crash site, witnesses and other information, there is no reason to believe this person was involved, in any way, with the aircraft crash, sheriff’s officials said.

Additionally, sheriff’s officials said there is no reason to believe foul play is involved with the crash of the aircraft.

If any new information develops, it will be investigated.

The NTSB’s investigation is ongoing.