Port Richey Man Goes to Prison for Pointing Laser at Police Helicopter
The laser temporarily blinded the pilot and crew, according to the U.S. Attorney.
TAMPA – A Port Richey man was sentenced to almost two years in a federal prison after pleading guilty to pointing a laser at a police helicopter, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida said.
Ryan J. Fluke, 28, of Port Richey, was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for aiming a laser at a police helicopter. Fluke pleaded guilty Nov. 20.
According to court documents, the offense happened about 10: 50 p.m. Dec. 5, 2017, when a Pasco County Sheriff’s Office helicopter was dispatched to help other deputies during an encounter with a barricaded individual at a residence in Port Richey. The helicopter flew over the house where the man had barricaded himself.
As the helicopter was providing assistance for the deputies who were preparing to enter the home, Fluke aimed a laser pointer at the helicopter. The laser pointer caused a high-intensity red laser beam to enter the interior cockpit and the pilot’s line of sight, initially blinding and disorientating the crewmembers for several seconds, and making it hard to operate the aircraft.
At the time of the incident, the aircraft was flying low to the ground, over a heavily populated area. The aircraft was forced to abandon air support for the ground units.
This case was investigated by the FBI and the Pasco Sheriff’s Office.
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