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Calif. man arrested for pointing laser at highway patrol plane

Calif. man arrested for pointing laser at highway patrol plane

Officials say CHP is investigating several reports of lasers hitting military and civilian aircraft over the past few days

Rosalio Ahumada
The Sacramento Bee

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Solano County sheriff’s deputies arrested a 33-year-old man suspected of pointing a blue laser at a pilot flying a California Highway Patrol airplane late Monday.

The CHP’s Golden Gate Division Air Operations posted a video of the laser strike on its Facebook page Tuesday. The video shows the blue laser hitting the plane and deputies apprehending the suspect.

The Solano County Sheriff’s Office on its Facebook page announced Tuesday that deputies arrested Christopher Larsen on felony charges related to intentionally interfering with CHP air operations.

Air-31 Struck by Laser

**CHP Airplane Struck by Blue Laser** Last night at approximately 10:50 pm, CHP Airplane Air-31 was heading to the Napa County Airport after completing a search when the crew was struck by a blue laser. The suspect pointed the laser directly at our aircraft striking our pilot in the eye. The pilot was able to maintain control of the aircraft due to the auto pilot being engaged. The Flight Officer directed the camera towards the direction of the strike as the suspect continues to strike the CHP aircraft. The Solano County Sheriff’s Office immediately responded and located the suspect at the location of the laser strikes. The deputies located the laser on the suspect. There have been several reports to the Travis Airforce Base Tower of military and civilian aircraft being struck by a laser over the last few days. Although it is unknown if this is the same suspect in those laser strikes, the Solano Sheriff Office is investigating. The Solano County Sheriff Office is the investigating agency in this case. The suspect was arrested for two felonies and booked into the Solano County Jail. The suspect could face federal charges along with FAA fines.

Posted by CHP – Golden Gate Division Air Operations on Tuesday, February 18, 2020

About 10:50 p.m. Monday, the CHP plane, Air-31, was heading to the Napa County Airport in Napa after completing a search, when the flight crew was struck by the blue laser.

CHP officials said the suspect pointed the laser directly at the aircraft, hitting a CHP pilot in the eye. The pilot maintained control of the aircraft after engaging the auto-pilot mechanism.

The flight officer then directed the plane’s camera to where the laser was coming from as the suspect continued to strike the aircraft with the laser, according to the CHP.

Sheriff’s deputies were notified and they quickly arrived at the origin of the laser strikes. The CHP said the deputies found the suspect in possession of the laser.

Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield has received several reports of lasers hitting military and civilian aircraft over the past few days. The CHP said it was unclear whether the suspect arrested Monday night is connected to other reported laser strikes the Solano County Sheriff’s Office is investigating.

Deputies arrested the suspect and booked him at Solano County Jail. The CHP said the suspect could face federal charges along with fines from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Many high-powered lasers can incapacitate pilots, according to warning on the FAA’s website. Last year, the FAA said 5,663 laser incidents in 2018 were down from 6,754 in 2017 and 7,398 in 2016, but the numbers showed that laser strikes remain a serious threat.


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