08/01/2006

Man arrested for shining laser pointer at N.Y. police helicopter

The Associated Press

NEW YORK- A 19-year-old man was arrested for shining a laser pointer at a police helicopter returning from an assignment near the Brooklyn Bridge, authorities said Tuesday.

The bright green laser beamed into the cockpit from the ground at Dyker Beach Park in Brooklyn late Monday night, temporarily blinding the officers, said Melissa Klein, an NYPD spokesman.

Police arrested Anthony Pepe of Brooklyn a short time later, and charged him with reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon, Klein said.

There have been similar incidents in New Jersey recently.

In December, a Paterson, N.J., man was charged with shining a laser pointer into the cockpit of a hovering news helicopter. Pedro Vega, 36, was charged with a variety of offenses, including interference with transportation and assault, for beaming the laser pointer into the cockpit of a WNBC television helicopter while it hovered about 1,000 feet away while covering a traffic accident.

And in November, David W. Banach, 39, of Parsippany, N.J., who had flashed a laser pointer at a commercial airplane, pleaded guilty to violating a section of the USA Patriot Act involving interfering with pilots of a passenger aircraft. The crew aboard the charter flight from Boca Raton, Fla., said the laser temporarily blinded two pilots, and they could not see their flight instruments.

Vega and Pepe were not charged with violating the Patriot Act because their alleged crimes were not committed against a commercial aircraft.

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