CBS2-Header-Logo WFAN 1010WINS WCBS tiny WLNYLogo

News

Epidemic Over Long Island: Yet More Incidents Of Laser-Pointing At Planes, Cops

Sun Country Airlines Jet, Suffolk Police Chopper Zapped; 3 Officers Injured
Laser

What a pilot sees when someone on the ground shines a laser into the cockpit. (Photo: CBS 2)

TRI-STATE NEWS HEADLINES

From our newsroom to your inbox weekday mornings at 9AM.
Sign Up

RONKONKOMA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – There continues to be danger in the sky above Long Island. Police are now investigating two more laser incidents.

On Tuesday the night, the crew of an international flight, in addition to responding police officers, was hit by blinding green laser beams, CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.

WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reports

Three Suffolk police pilots ended up in an emergency room after being on the wrong end of the lasers, police said. Sun Country Airlines Flight 8800 out of Reykjavik, Iceland, was on approach to John F. Kennedy International Airport at around 8:30 p.m. when at 12,000 feet over Brookhaven the pilots said they saw flashes of green laser beams.

“Our pilots began to search the area and they, too, were stuck by a beam from a laser,” said Capt. John Blosser of the Suffolk Police Aviation Bureau.

As for the police officers, “They, too, were struck from a bead from a laser, emanating somewhere from the Shirley, N.Y. area,” Blosser said, adding they were taken to the hospital “For possible eye damage, because headaches from the effect of having a laser hit them in the eye.”

Police searched a Shirley neighborhood, but made no arrests in what they called a troubling trend.

On Monday, a Sayville teen was arrested for pointing a laser at police boat. In addition, a 14-year-old is under investigation for allegedly shining a green laser into a Suffolk police chopper last month. A week before that a JetBlue flight experienced getting hit by lasers.

“We just got lasered up here,” a JetBlue pilot said, referring to the incident on July 26. “Two green, two green flashes into the cockpit.”

Last fall, six planes heading into LaGuardia Airport were targeted by lasers, CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey reported.  The frequency of incidents nationwide is stunning. In 2005, there were just 300 laser incidents, but that jumped to more than 2,800 in 2010, followed by a huge jump to almost 3,600 last year.

Anyone can buy or sell a laser pointer, but there are federal laws against aiming them at people and planes. The FBI said it is investigating the latest incident.

“We’re seeking the public’s help because somebody might have heard something or seen something. We want to find out who did this,” FBI spokesperson James Margolin said.

Earlier this month, Sen. Charles Schumer said he wants to require most pointers to be sold at a lower strength and restrict the sale of the most powerful lasers.

At Camera Concepts in Patchogue, the owner said he won’t sell laser pointers to just anyone. He said an astronomy teaching tool  is  being abused by Internet merchants who sell overpowered lasers, like the kind that pops balloons in videos seen YouTube.

“We are self-regulating. There is no law that stops me from selling this to a 5-year-old, technically,” Jeffrey Norwood said. “This is crazy. There’s no use for it except you want a big toy, a dangerous toy and, really, at that miliwatt, it’s a weapon.”

The Food and Drug Administration said it is cracking down on overpowered lasers — some are 100 times stronger than what police believe was used over Suffolk, but added even low-level lasers can cause damage.

Suffolk police called the lasers a new weapon being used against them and they are testing new devices to be fitted onto their night vision goggles to protect their pilots from laser beams.

Sun Country Airlines did not respond to CBS 2’s inquiries about their pilots.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below …