Man Accused of Pointing Laser at Hernando Sheriff’s Helicopter
He admitted flashing the laser at the helicopter but said he didn’t know it was a crime, Hernando sheriff’s deputies said.
HERNANDO COUNTY – A Weeki Wachee man is accused of pointing a laser light at a Hernando Sheriff’s Office helicopter.
Eric D. Harper, 35, of Weeki Wachee, was charged with one count of pointing a laser light at a driver or pilot.
The incident happened just before 9:30 p.m. Saturday while the helicopter was helping search for a missing 9-year-old child, according to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.
While searching for the missing child using forward looking infrared, Deputy Pilot Kyle Nugent and Tactical Flight Officer B.J. Hart were interrupted by a laser light being aimed directly at the helicopter. Hart said the laser light struck the helicopter about five times, interfering with his ability to see and provide updated locations on the missing child.
Hart and Nugent located the child a short time before the laser light incidents began. As Hart was directing ground units to the child, the laser light incidents began. The extremely bright light shining directly at the helicopter interfered with the investigation and was a danger to those on board the helicopter as well as those on the ground because any powerful laser source viewed from infrared and FLIR equipment can cause severe damage to the human eye.
Once ground units located the missing child, Hart directed other ground units to Darts Street in Weeki Wachee, the location of the person who was pointing the laser light at the helicopter.
Upon arrival, Deputy Keith McCabe contacted the resident, Harper, and asked if he had been outside moments earlier, shining a laser light at the helicopter. Harper admitted to shining the laser light at the helicopter and produced the “laser pen” that he used.
Harper told deputies, “I didn’t know it was a crime, I’m sorry.”
For information about the Hernando sheriff, go to hernandosheriff.org.
Hernando Sheriff | Crime | Laser | Helicopter | Arrests | Tampabay News
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