Man charged after pointing laser at Fairfax Co. Police helicopter

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CHANTILLY, Va. - Fairfax County Police say they charged a man after he pointed a laser at their helicopter.

Police say on Saturday night, around 9:00 p.m., their helicopter, Fairfax One, was returning to the hangar when it was hit by a blue light laser three different times.

The crew of the aircraft circled back to the area and was able to use their infrared camera in the helicopter to identify the vehicle where the laser came from. Police say the crew directed officers on the ground to the vehicle responsible.

Police say the laser was so strong it bounced off the equipment in the cockpit and temporarily affected the two flight officers.

"They experienced a bright light and then later in their shift they experienced some headaches and some vision blur," says Captain Michael Wall with the Helicopter Division. "The flight officer in the backseat said specifically it hit the monitor right in front of him, made that really bright dazzle effect, and really kind of disoriented them for a period of time."

After an investigation, the driver was charged with Shining a Light/Laser Pointer at an Aircraft, a class 1 misdemeanor.

Police say the Federal Aviation Administration was contacted and a federal investigation will be conducted.

They are warning people that it is extremely dangerous to point a light or laser at any aircraft, because the light beam can reach the flgiht crew and it can temporarily blind them.

"I don’t know why somebody gets the idea that this is a good thing to do. but it’s extremely dangerous, and something we will prosecute because it’s extremely dangerous," says Captain Wall.

Police say a laser can be easily traced back to where it came from and violators will be charged.

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