FBI looking for information regarding laser strikes on Cleveland police, MetroHealth helicopters

Posted at 11:57 AM, Jul 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-12 17:50:03-04

FBI and Cleveland Police are looking for tips on the person, who pointed lasers at helicopters last week.

Officials said the lasers were pointed at a Cleveland Police helicopter and a MetroHealth life flight helicopter.

Both of the laser strikes happened on July 4 at about 10:15 p.m. from the 3000 block of West 31st Street in Cleveland. 

“It's just your basic, every day laser pointer,” said Vicki Anderson, FBI Spokesperson.

The pilots of the two helicopters were blinded by lasers.

“A lot of people play with those lasers, and play with the cats,” said Anderson, “It's like 2cm big, when you pointed it at the ground, but when you pointed up at an airplane or helicopter, it actually expands.”

Anderson said the light can expand, as much as 6 feet in diameter in the air.

“Some people may think, ‘oh, look at how far this can shine, up in the sky,’ and then there's other people that are just malicious and are doing it on purpose,” she said.

A regular laser point can temporarily flash blind a pilot. While most people have to pay a fine or get around 12 to 18 months behind bars, Anderson said there was a case where a man was sentenced to more than a decade in prison for pointing his laser at a helicopter.

“Because he was doing it repeatedly with malicious intent,” said Anderson.

Cleveland Police told News 5 they are questioning a man, who was found with the laser in his hand, when officers showed up to the scene. However, no charges have been filed, because they do not have enough evidence to prove he was the one, pointing the laser at the helicopter.



FBI investigates laser incidents at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport

FBI investigating a string of laser strikes on pilots landing at Cleveland Hopkins airport

If anyone has any information please call the Cleveland Division of the FBI at 216-522-1400.  Tips can remain anonymous and reward money is available for the successful identification and prosecution of the individual(s) responsible for these laser strikes.

Under 18 USC 39 (A), whoever knowingly aims the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States, or at the flight path of such an aircraft, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned.   Under 49 USC Section 46301 (a) (5) (A), the FAA may seek a maximum civil penalty of $11,000 per violation for aiming a laser at an aircraft in violation of C.F.R. Section 91.11.