DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit police have arrested a man suspected of shining a high-powered laser at a Michigan State Police helicopter flying over the city Wednesday night.
That laser hit the tactical flight officer, who assists the pilot, in the eyes, sending him to the hospital.
“He experienced some temporary blindness, some headaches, some spottiness in his vision — so he’s going to be out for a couple of days or so,” said Michigan State Police First Lt. Michael Shaw.
Shaw says Detroit Police found the suspect still shining the laser. He was turned over to the FBI, and will face federal charges.
Shaw told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Zahra Huber that people don’t seem to understand how dangerous it is to aim lasers at aircraft.
“For us in law enforcement, our eyesight is a very critical part of our career. We need that to fly, we need that to drive our cars and to do everything,” Shaw said. “If he can no longer see or he gets to the point where he gets continuous headaches and he can’t operate — there goes his career.”
Shaw said he’s concerned that they’ve seen a definite increase in these “laser strikes” on aircraft. Not just on law enforcement planes, but also on commercial flights over Detroit Metro Airport.
“Some people just are dumb,”Shaw said. “They don’t realize the consequences of not only possibly causing a $5 million State Police aircraft to crash, the loss of life that’s involved. They think it’s kind of funny at the time until they’re actually doing time in a federal prison for that.”
“So, we’ll chase you down if we find out who you are,” he added. “We’ll lock you up and put you in jail.”
The suspect’s name in this case was not immediately released.