Man arrested for aiming laser at sheriff's helicopter - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Man arrested for aiming laser at sheriff's helicopter

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LA MESA (CBS 8) - A La Mesa man is behind bars Saturday, accused of pointing a laser at a sheriff's helicopter.

Authorities say those who target aircraft with lasers should know that it's not only extremely dangerous, it's a federal crime.

A laser beam shining from the ground up into a cockpit is a serious safety hazard to flight operations. The beam can be almost blinding, distracting pilots and impairing their vision.

A 34-year-old man is accused of aiming a green laser at a sheriff's ASTREA helicopter on patrol over La Mesa just after midnight. A tactical officer positioned the chopper to get a fix on where the laser beam was coming from and using a forward looking Infrared they pinpoint the location. It was coming from a balcony at an apartment complex in the 5300 block of Baltimore Avenue.

That suspect is Fernando Arrollado. He was booked into central jail for five counts of suspicion of discharging a laser light at an aircraft.

According to the FBI's website, laser attacks have increased dramatically in recent years as laser devices have become cheaper and widely available to the public. In March, a FBI post stated California consistently leads the nation in reports of laser attacks on aircraft, with more than 500 of the nearly 3,500 nationwide laser attacks reported in 2012.

Last year, President Obama signed legislation a law, making it a federal crime to aim the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft.

The offense carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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