RONKONKOMA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Charges may soon be lodged against a Long Island teen accused of aiming a laser into the cockpit of a police helicopter.
And now the FBI wants to know if the youth has pulled the dangerous stunt before, CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Thursday.
Two Suffolk County aviation officers were in the skies above Central Islip searching for a burglary suspect below when their cockpit was suddenly blasted with a green laser beam from a distance of a half-mile away.
WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reports
“It’s startling. Milliseconds go by until you realize you’ve just been lasered,” Officer Thomas Smith said.
The surprised officers made an immediate evasive maneuver, but continued to be hit multiple times. They were able to pinpoint the location of the laser to a street in Brentwood. Officers on the ground quickly located the 14-year-old suspect – who was not identified — and released him to the custody of his mother.
Suffolk Special Patrol Bureau Inspector Stuart Cameron explained why charges weren’t filed immediately.
“There’s no reason why we can’t take some tine and determine with feds and state level, consult with prosecutors and make a subsequent arrest. The immediate hazard has been removed,” Cameron told reporters, including WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall.
Now the feds want to determine if the youth may have pointed lasers at other aircraft, including JetBlue Flight 657 as it flew over the same skies the night of July 15. The following is the reaction in that cockpit as the light locked on the aircraft:
Pilot: “Yes sir. We just got lasered up here. Two green … two green flashes into the cockpit.”
The JetBlue pilot was stricken with a burned cornea, officials said. He transferred control to the co-pilot, who landed the aircraft safely at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
“It is blinding, temporarily, but the main concern for me was what was at the other end of the laser point, typically used as aiming devices?” said Thomas Daly, the dean of Dowling College’s School of Aviation.
Daly, who is also a veteran pilot, said he has been lasered. He called the latest episodes a crime, not an innocuous prank.”
The Federal Aviation Administration said the alarming crimes are dramatically increasing:
* 300 aircraft were lasered in 2005
* Last year the number of incidents rose to 3,000
The FBI said the investigation is continuing.
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