Laser pointer lands Oakland pair in jail

Two Oakland men were arrested for shining a laser pointer at a California Highway Patrol helicopter while its crew was searching for a suspect in East Oakland on Saturday night, CHP officials said.

At about 11:15 p.m. Saturday, a CHP helicopter was assisting Oakland police with locating a suspect in the area of Seminary Avenue and Elizabeth Street, according to the CHP.

While overhead, the CHP helicopter was struck seven or eight times by a green laser-pointer from the sidewalk of Bancroft Avenue near Seminary Avenue, according to the CHP.

CHP officers who were already in the area quickly detained two suspects. Oakland residents Christian Palomino, 18, and Roy Montoya, 20, were arrested and a laser pointer was recovered in one of the suspect’s pocket, according to the CHP.

The pair is now facing multiple charges, including federal offenses, CHP officials said.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there were 3,960 “lasering” incidents nationwide in 2013, including 734 in California. CHP officials say that laser pointers reflect off the interior of the helicopter, turning the small beam into a large, extremely bright beam.

This can interfere not only with the helicopter crew’s ability to assist officers on the ground below, but can also disorient or temporarily blind the pilot and can be deadly, according to the CHP.

— Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News