Laser Suspect Chose the Wrong Target

By Lori Preuitt
|  Tuesday, Jan 25, 2011  |  Updated 12:11 PM PDT
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Laser Suspect Chose the Wrong Target

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A man who sells commercial lasers for a living has been arrested in El Cerrito, after shining one of his laser pointers at a CHP helicopter, momentarily incapacitating the pilot.

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San Jose police arrested a man Monday night for allegedly shining a laser at a small airplane and a police helicopter. 

The arrest comes one week after the FAA said Bay Area airports are among the worst when it comes to incidents of people on the ground pointing laser-like beams at aircraft.

Police said the suspect on Monday night first aimed the beam at a pilot who was landing at Reid Hillview and then did the same thing to the police helicopter who came out to investigate.

Dumb move for the suspect. Police were able to nab him with units on the ground within minutes.
 
Last year LAX topped the list of laser incidents with 108, according to the FAA. O'Hare was next, with 98, followed by airports in Phoenix and San Jose, both with 80.

Most of the incidents involve pilots in the midst of takeoffs or landings. Pointing lasers at cockpits can temporarily blind pilots or even permanently damage their eyesight. The FAA said in a few cases, pilots have had to relinquish control of their aircraft to another pilot.

These lasers are much more powerful than the laser pointers typically used by teachers. Stargazers use them at night to point to celestial objects. The introduction of green lasers, which are more powerful and more easily seen than red lasers, has also fueled sales.

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