A Lehigh Acres man was arrested Friday after the sheriff’s office said he pointed a laser at their helicopter.
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office Aviation Unit was conducting patrol flights in the area when its crew saw a green laser light illuminating the interior of the helicopter. The pilot flew toward the direction of the laser, which led them to a home in the 2000 block of E. 8th St.
Deputies on the ground went to the home and arrest Miguel Jimenez, 45. He faces a third-degree felony charge of pointing a laser light at a pilot and remains in the Lee County Jail with a $5,000 bond.
The FBI says that while pointing a laser at a helicopter or plane may seem harmless, the opposite is true. It’s dangerous – both to those in the air and on the ground – and it’s a federal crime. Lasers can blind a pilot, which could lead to disaster.
“It’s very risky to point lasers at aircraft,” said FBI Special Agent Katie Hill. “Whether it’s a helicopter or a large commercial airliner, it’s very dangerous. It’s especially dangerous on takeoff and landing, which are critical times of the flight.”
The FAA reported 5,663 laser incidents in 2018, down from 6,754 in 2017 and 7,398 in 2016.
One incident reported in Pasco County in 2019 landed a man 21 months in federal prison.