Man Facing Charges After Pointing Laser at Police Helicopter

Sully Police District — Our helicopter, Fairfax One, was returning to the hangar Saturday night when it was hit by a blue light laser three different times. The crew of the aircraft circled back to the area and was able to use the infrared camera in the helicopter to identify the vehicle where the laser came from. The laser was so strong it bounced off the equipment in the cockpit and temporarily affected the two flight officers. The helicopter crew directed officers on the ground to the vehicle. After an investigation, the driver, 45-year-old Carlos Zapata Rivero from Centreville, was charged with Shining a Light/Laser Pointer at an Aircraft, 5.1-22, a class 1 misdemeanor. The Federal Aviation Administration was contacted and a federal investigation will be conducted.

It is extremely dangerous to point a light or laser at any aircraft because it can temporarily blind the flight crew. You may think the light beam cannot reach the aircraft because you don’t see how far it travels, however it does. A laser can be easily traced back to where it came from and violators will be charged.