PARKVILLE, Md. (April 18, 2011) Baltimore County Police charged a teenager last night after Maryland State Police pilots on a training mission were spotlighted by a laser beam while in flight.
The 13-year-old male was charged as a juvenile with reckless endangerment and laser pointer misuse. He was released to the custody of his parents.
Shortly after 8:30 p.m. yesterday, a Maryland State Police helicopter with two pilots and a flight paramedic on board was in-flight on a training mission over eastern Baltimore County when the cockpit was illuminated with a bright green flash of light. The light was held on the cockpit of the helicopter as it flew.
The light temporarily blinded both pilots. The pilots recovered their night vision while continuing to fly and were able to spot where the laser beam emanated from. A male, later identified as the suspect, was seen running into the house as the helicopter spotlight was used to illuminate the area of the home.
The State Police helicopter crew called Baltimore County Police from the air and stayed overhead while a county police unit was directed to the home. A Baltimore County police officer contacted the suspect and his parents. The officer also recovered the laser pointer.
Shining lasers at aircraft can have dangerous and even deadly consequences. A direct laser strike in the cockpit can cause temporary blindness and disorientation for the crew. This endangers not only people on the aircraft, but also people on the ground in the event a crash occurs.
The use of a laser to target in-flight aircraft is a very dangerous and irresponsible act, Major Mark Gibbons, Commander of the Maryland State Police Aviation Command said. While our flight crews are in the air serving and protecting our citizens, we will not have them jeopardized in this way. We intend to do everything possible to identify, apprehend, and prosecute those who endanger our flight crews, or any other aircraft flying in Maryland. I appreciate the assistance of the Baltimore County Police in our efforts to identify and charge the person responsible for last nights incident. We have similar partnerships across the state and are working with our allied law enforcement aviation units to address this serious issue. I urge parents whose children have laser pointers to remind them that engaging in this dangerous activity could lead to criminal charges.