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FBI: 99 Aircraft Hit With Lasers In NYC Last Year

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

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

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Federal Bureau of Investigation is asking for the public’s help with an investigation into nearly 100 incidents of lasers being pointed at aircraft in the New York City area last year.

According to the FBI, there were 99 laser incidents reported by pilots in 2013. Twenty-four of those occurred at or near John F. Kennedy airport, while 63 happened at or near LaGuardia airport. It is unknown where the remaining incidents took place.

The most recent incident was reported the day after Christmas by a JetBlue pilot on approach to JFK. Officials said there were a total of seven incidents in the last week of 2013 alone.

The FBI said pilots often report periods of blindness or disorientation after a laser is pointed into the cockpit. The lasers can cause extended blurry vision or blindness, but can also result in a burnt retina and have the potential to down an aircraft, the agency said.

A large number of the incidents originate from Staten Island and the Glen Cove, Port Washington, Glenwood Landing areas of Nassau County.

Meanwhile, a federal criminal complaint was unsealed Thursday against a man accused of pointing a laser at a Westchester County police helicopter back in July.

The FBI said Philip Avery Putter twice pointed a high-powered laser pointer at the helicopter, temporarily blinding the pilot, as it flew over a crowd of 10,000 people at the 2013 Kensico Dam Fireworks show.

“Aiming a high-powered laser pointer at an aircraft is serious business; it can cause a deadly crash. The public should know that those who engage in such conduct are committing a federal crime,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said of the case.

Anyone with information about any of the incidents near JFK and LaGuardia is urged to call the FBI at 212-384-1000.

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