South Carolina sheriff’s office asks residents not to ‘shoot’ at Chinese surveillance balloon

A high altitude balloon, which U.S. officials have speculated as a spy balloon from China, floats over Billings, Mont., on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. Another balloon was detected over Latin America on Friday evening. (Larry Mayer/The Billings Gazette via AP)

The sheriff’s office in York County, South Carolina, is imploring residents not to shoot at the Chinese surveillance balloon traveling over the U.S. after eyewitnesses in the region spotted the balloon Saturday.

“Yes, there are reports that the Chinese balloon is flying over our area at the moment,” the sheriff’s office said in a tweet. “It’s flying at 60,000+ feet. Don’t try to shoot it!! Your rifle rounds WILL NOT reach it. Be responsible. What goes up will come down, including your bullets.”

The balloon was first detected over Montana on Wednesday before moving toward the central U.S. into Kansas on Friday. A second balloon over Latin America was identified by the Pentagon Friday night.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed a scheduled trip to China Friday amid news of the first balloon. A State Department official said the conditions are “not right” for Blinken to proceed with the trip and noted that the balloon is a violation of international law and U.S. sovereignty. 

The level of threat posed by the balloons is still unknown, with some experts claiming that it poses a threat and others urging caution about overestimating the risk level.

Tags anthony blinken Antony Blinken China spy balloon Chinese spy balloon South Carolina

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