GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Michigan man has been arrested, accused of shining a laser pointer at a Michigan State Police helicopter over the weekend.
The incident happened Saturday night in Detroit. A 52-year-old man from Washtenaw County was caught on camera shining a green laser pointer at a patrol helicopter. The pilot alerted crews on the ground and led them to the site, a bar on Rosa Parks Boulevard.
Zooming in on the helicopter’s surveillance equipment, the airborne team was able to determine the man was wearing a top hat and a jacket. Officers quickly found him and placed him under arrest.
“It’s not often we see suspects walking around in top hats, but it did make him easy to identify,” 1st Lt. Mike Shaw said in a statement. “We can’t stress enough how dangerous it is to point lasers at any aircraft. We will continue to track down those who do this in order to keep our pilots safe.”
Video footage released by MSP shows the suspect shine the laser at the helicopter twice and then the suspect being apprehended by two officers.
The suspect was arrested and lodged at Detroit Correctional Center, waiting on what, if any criminal charges the Wayne County Prosecutor could bring.
As harmless as it may seem, MSP pilots say it can be a major problem.
“As it hits our cockpit windshield, it illuminates the entire cockpit and under either night-vision goggles or the naked eye, it can be blinding for a temporary time,” MSP pilot Sergeant Cole Martin told News 8 in June.
Martin said he has flown with MSP for three years and he has been hit by lasers 10 times, including an incident in Grand Rapids earlier this year. Federal Aviation Administration records show there were more than 9,400 laser incidents across the country in 2022.