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Teen accused of pointing laser at jet

December 28, 2007|Mike Anton | Times Staff Writer

A teenager playing with a laser he got as a Christmas gift has been arrested on suspicion of pointing it at a commercial jet and a Newport Beach police helicopter, officials said Thursday.

It was the third arrest this week in Orange County involving lasers allegedly trained on aircraft.

Early Sunday, Garden Grove police arrested a 52-year-old man after the Federal Aviation Administration received a report from an airline pilot about a laser. When an Orange County Sheriff's Department helicopter went to investigate, the crew was hit in the eyes with a laser beam while flying 700 feet overhead.

"They said they had headaches and blurry vision for a couple of hours," said sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino. "People need to be educated about the dangers of these lasers. They could cause a helicopter to crash. They could even take down a commercial airliner."

Hours later, Orange police arrested a 19-year-old man on suspicion of training a laser at the same sheriff's helicopter.

"Every year around Christmastime, people get lasers as presents and we see this sort of thing," Amormino said. "We don't know if the intent is malicious . . . but it's against the law, and we intend to prosecute."

The 15-year-old Las Vegas boy arrested in Newport Beach on Christmas evening had just gotten his laser as a gift, authorities said.

The pilots of a SkyWest Airlines plane reported being targeted from a location in the city. When a Newport Beach police helicopter went to investigate, its crew was targeted as well, authorities said.

"They're not big at all," Newport Beach Police Sgt. Evan Sailor said of the laser devices. "But they're very powerful."

Sailor said the boy was charged with discharging a laser at an aircraft, a felony.


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