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Clearwater Man Shined Laser at Sheriff’s Helicopter, Deputes Say

Brian Harting | Pinellas Sheriff | Arrests

He admitted to illuminating the helicopter with the laser but said he didn’t know it was illegal, Pinellas deputies said.

CLEARWATER – Deputies have accused a man of deliberately shining a laser at a Pinellas County sheriff’s helicopter.

Brian Harting, 48, who lives in the unincorporated Clearwater area, was charged with one count of Misuse of a Laser Lighting Device, a felony.

Deputies said that, about 2:24 a.m. Sunday (Feb. 17), a sheriff’s helicopter was airborne over unincorporated Clearwater when deputies inside spotted a controlled fire on the property of a home off Belleair Road. The aircraft circled the area while waiting for patrol units to arrive and make sure the fire was not a threat.

While the helicopter was in-flight, a man, later identified as Harting, who was standing in a backyard of a home southwest of the controlled fire, shined a red laser lighting device at the aircraft three times.

Patrol deputies were directed by the flight unit to the house where they spoke with Harting. Deputies said Harting admitted to illuminating the helicopter with the laser lighting device, but said he didn’t know it was illegal.

But, deputies said, the laser used by Harting had a warning sticker on it stating, “Never aim at aircraft.”

Under Florida law, it is a third degree felony for anyone who knowingly and willfully shines, points, or focuses the beam of a laser lighting device on an individual operating a motor vehicle, vessel, or aircraft.

Pinellas Sheriff | Crime | Arrests | Tampabay News

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Clearwater Man Shined Laser at Sheriff's Helicopter, Deputes Say
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Clearwater Man Shined Laser at Sheriff's Helicopter, Deputes Say
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He admitted to illuminating the helicopter with the laser but said he didn't know it was illegal, Pinellas deputies said.
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TB Reporter
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