Trio allegedly pointed laser at helicopter

A trio of incidents involving helicopters hit by laser pointers over the span of two months in Antioch and Pittsburg resulted in arrests each time, according to the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office.

A helicopter used by the sheriff’s office was struck by a green laser pointer on Sept. 18 and 26 in Antioch and Nov. 1 in Pittsburg, sheriff’s officials said Monday.

The three separate incidents all resulted in an arrest of individuals. Sheriff’s officials did not provide these suspects’ identities.

In each case, the suspects were pinpointed using the helicopter’s infrared and mapping technology, sheriff’s officials said. Local police then responded to the locations and arrested the suspects.

Discharging a laser at an aircraft is considered a federal crime, sheriff’s officials said. It can result in up to three years in prison or a $2,000 fine for offenders.

Sheriff’s officials said it creates a dangerous situation for pilots, who can become disoriented and lose their night vision for several minutes after being struck by a laser.

“Discharging a laser at an aircraft not only poses a danger to the those onboard the helicopter, but also those on the ground,” Lt. Jose Beltran of the sheriff’s office’s air support unit said in a statement.