Man Accused Of Pointing Laser Beam Into Cockpits Of Several Planes At LaGuardia Airport, Injuring Pilots

Because there isn’t already enough to worry about when piloting a giant piece of metal flying in the sky, law enforcement in New York say they busted a man accused of shining a powerful laser beam into the cockpits of several aircraft at LaGuardia Airport, injuring the eyes of three pilots.

The Federal Aviation Administration alerted police at LGA to the laser beam aimed into cockpits of several planes taking off and landing, as well as a New York Police Department helicopter last night, reports the New York Times.

That was enough to injure the eyes of three pilots, including the two NYPD officers in the helicopter, authorities said, prompting them to seek medical care after the incident.

Police were able to track the beam of light to its source in an apartment in the South Bronx, and were invited inside. After seeing a device on top of the refrigerator labeled “Laser 303” and “Danger,” 36-year-old man then “admitted to officers that he is the owner of the laser and did use it that evening,” according to a statement from the NYPD.

He was arrested and charged with two counts of assault on a police officer, three counts of felony assault, reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon.

Things are getting so dangerous in the skies that the Federal Bureau of Investigation launched a program last year, offering up $10,000 in rewards for information on people targeting planes with lasers.

In New York alone, laser episodes went from 52 in 2010 to 99 in 2013, with officials saying that pilots and their crews were injured in many of those instances.

“Interfering with a flight crew is a federal crime. So, the FBI has looked into these laser incidents over the last several years,” said Richard Kolko, special agent with the FBI in June. “We’ve located some of them. Several of them have been prosecuted.”

Bronx Man Is Charged in La Guardia Airport Laser Case [New York Times]