Man could face felony charges for shining laser at police helicopter

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A 22-year-old 4S Ranch man faces possible felony
charges for allegedly endangering a law enforcement helicopter crew by shining
a laser at the aircraft as it flew above his home late at night, a sheriff's
official reported Wednesday.

The two deputies were patrolling over the neighborhood near Rancho
Bernardo when the intense light began flashing on and around the chopper about
10:30 p.m. Tuesday, Lt. Todd Richardson said.

Fortunately, the laser beam did not directly hit the windows of the
helicopter, according to Richardson.

“This type of incident can fully incapacitate an aircraft flight crew,
causing permanent injury to the pilots and loss of control of the aircraft,”
he said.

The deputies notified the Poway Sheriff's Station, which sent patrol
cars to the location from which the laser had emanated.

The sheriff's flight crew directed the ground units to a home in the
16000 block of Dove Canyon Road, where they contacted a man who matched the
description of the person the airborne deputies had seen shining the light into
the air.

Deputies questioned the man and forwarded their findings this morning to
the District Attorney's Office, which will likely file criminal charges in
the case, Richardson said.

The lieutenant declined to release the name of the suspect because he
had not yet been arrested.

Shining lasers at aircraft is a highly hazardous act that has caused air
crashes and ended the flying careers of pilots due to eye damage, according
to Richardson. The crime has become increasingly common in recent years, he
said.

“It's an epidemic across the country. … I don't think (perpetrators)
appreciate the severity of how dangerous it is,” the lieutenant said. “It's
no different than if you shoot at us. It's that serious.”

Categories: KUSI