PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Police have arrested and charged a man with allegedly pointing a green laser at a Philadelphia police helicopter.
20-year-old Luis Martinez was arrested after the incident around 9:15 p.m. Sunday.
Authorities say a helicopter was searching a wooded area at Whitaker and Ruscomb Streets for a report of a woman screaming. That report was later determined to be unfounded.
While circling the area, police say the helicopter was repeatedly hit with a green laser, causing interference to the instruments and the vision of both officers inside the aircraft.
“It’s very dangerous,” says Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. “In fact, it’s a federal offense, FAA violation, but it can cause the pilot to lose control of the aircraft and actually crash.”
The officers attempted to elude the beam but were unsuccessful, so they used the helicopter’s spotlight to illuminate the area where the green beam was coming from.
Patrol officers responded to the 5200 block of Montour Street where they stopped Martinez and another man.
Police say the laser device was found on Martinez and he was taken into custody. He has been charged with aggravated assault, possessing an instrument in crime, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.
“We’ve had others, we’ve had people caught doing that sort of thing and we do prosecute to the fullest when we find people responsible,” Ramsey says. “That’s not child’s play, because it can cause very serious injury or death.”
Police say Martinez could also face federal charges.