A commercial airliner flying over the Lancaster City area of the Antelope Valley (LA Co.) last night, Thursday, September 3, 2015, reported to air traffic controllers that their cockpit was illuminated several times by a powerful green laser light. The situation created a potentially dangerous and challenging situation for the pilot, and was reported to have caused temporary visual impairment.
The concerned pilot notified air traffic controllers of the incident, who then notified the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station. Station dispatchers relayed the information to the pilot of the Law Enforcement Airborne Platform System (LEAPS), a fixed wing airplane, who is assigned to aerial patrol in the city of Lancaster.
The LEAPS airplane, provided by the city of Lancaster and the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station, enhances community protection and public safety. It is used to assist field deputies in coordinating calls for service and responding to emergencies, and can provide critical and timely information to patrol deputies on the ground.
The LEAPS pilot began immediately searching for the source of the obstruction and spotted the green laser light. Almost immediately, the cockpit of the LEAPS airplane was illuminated several times with the powerful light, causing distraction and temporary visual impairment to the pilot.
The pilot directed Lancaster Sheriff’s Station patrol units to the area on the ground where the light was emanating from. The patrol deputies converged on the area and began checking the neighborhood.
The subsequent investigation by the deputies on the ground led to a residence in the 42000 block of 30th Street East where a 27-year old male, and resident of Lancaster, was detained. After further investigation, he was ultimately arrested on a charges of discharging a laser at an aircraft, 247.5 PC California Penal Code. He is being held at Lancaster Sheriff’s Station in lieu of $25,000.00 bail.
Deputies recovered a high-powered laser pointing device at the scene.
If you see someone point a laser at an aircraft, Call 9-1-1.
You could save the lives of the flight crew and also the people on the ground.
Pointing a Laser at Aircraft is a Crime! For the safety of the pilots and people on the ground, the public is asked to be aware of this public safety threat and If You See Someone Point A Laser at Aircraft, Call 9-1-1.
Recent laser strike incidents and arrests in the past few years involving the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department include:
09/03/15: Lancaster City area: Arrested Suspect, M/27 of Lancaster.
08/11/15: Agoura Hills area: Arrested Suspects Christopher Cooper MW/31 of Lake Elsinore and Tangelina Meredith FW/33 of San Juan Capistrano
07/26/15: Walnut Park area: Arrested Suspect Fernando Del Real MH/28 of Walnut Park
07/10/15: West Valinda area: Arrested Suspect Jaime Castro MH/26 of West Valinda
05/03/15: Canyon Country area: Juvenile of Canyon Country Detained
02/18/15: East LA area: Arrested Suspect Gabriel Miranda MH/44 of Los Angeles
02/05/15: Gardena area: Arrested Suspects Jose Cortez MH/39, Diego Cortescoranado MH/28, Lucio Luna MH/23, and Enrique Gomez/MH/19 all of Gardena
05/26/14: Montebello area: Arrested Suspect Richard Garcia MH/22 of Monterey Park
04/30/14: Palmdale area: Arrested Suspect Danny Gonzalez MH/23 of Palmdale
03/28/14: Huntington Park area: Arrested Suspect Franklin Villadares MH/31 of Huntington Park
03/23/14: East LA area: Juvenile of Los Angeles Detained
03/10/14: Bellflower area: Arrested Suspect Zein Himdan MH/20 of Bellflower
01/05/14: East LA area: Arrested Suspect Ricardo Ganivet MH/38
11/17/13: East LA area: Arrested Suspect George Elali MO/32 of Los Angeles. FBI successfully indicted him with the US Attorney
11/09/12: West Covina area: Arrested Suspect Jesus Luna MH/27 of Los Angeles
09/06/12: North Hollywood area: S Arrested Suspect Isias Gonzalez MH/26 of Denver, Co. Indicted and Convicted of Federal Charges
04/18/12: Valencia area: Arrested Suspect Chad Martinez MH/25 of Valencia
12/22/11: Lakewood area: Juvenile of Long Beach Detained
09/23/11: Compton area: Arrested Suspect Kimberly Rogers FW/29 of Compton
04/26/11: Pico Rivera area: Juvenile of Los Alamitos Detained
12/16/10: Pico Rivera area: Juvenile of Pico Rivera Detained
12/11/10: La Puente area: Arrested Suspect Alejandro Chavez MH/23 of La Puente
08/22/10: Monterey Park area: Arrested Suspect Brian Anthony Wheeler MW/43 of Monterey Park
05/23/10: South Los Angeles Unincorporated area: Arrested Suspect Steve Urquizo MH/22 of Los Angeles
The FAA can impose a civil fine of $11,000.00 per laser strike on suspects (regardless of the outcome of the criminal case), under CFR 91.11.