By Walt Hunter
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The FBI and Philadelphia Police are now working to find the suspect who flashed a laser beam at Chopper 3 HD Wednesday night as it flew over Northeast Philadelphia, endangering the pilot and cameraman aboard.
Fortunately, pilot Bret Berlinger says the beam, which could have blinded him and potentially led to a crash, did not contact him directly in his eyes. The suspect, who appeared to be activating the laser from a row home, fired four separate bursts of light toward the chopper.
Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Joseph Sullivan says the laser firing was not a prank but, in his words, “an attempt to bring down an aircraft.”
Sullivan credited cameraman Al Nugent with capturing rare video of the laser. While there have been many laser incidents nationwide, few, if any, have been caught on video because aircraft, unlike Chopper 3 HD, are not equipped with the same type of cameras.
Using their flying and photography skills, the crew of Chopper 3 HD, instead of flying away from the area, remained capturing video images of people, and homes, that they hope will lead investigators to a suspect. The suspect, facing federal charges, could face years in prison upon conviction.