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US: Helicopter pilot lands; detains laser pointer suspect

Officers in a helicopter flying for the Pasco (Florida) County Sheriff’s Office were illuminated by laser light on December 5 2017. The pilot landed the aircraft in an empty parking lot, walked to the suspect’s home, and detained him.

Pilot Stephen Bowman was assisting with a situation involving a barricaded suspect, when he was hit by the laser at around 10:50 pm. Bowman told Bay News 9, “It blinded us temporarily for a couple of seconds — extremely painful. Once we came to, we saw a couple more flashes from the laser." Examination of video from the helicopter showed about 10 flashes.

Bowman began tracking the suspect. After landing the helicopter and going to the suspect’s home, there he detained Ryan Fluke, 27.

Bowman said Fluke was “a little confused”, asking where the helicopter was. Fluke also told Bowman he was doing it for fun. Fluke did not realize that lasers could travel a long distance (the helicopter was about 800 feet in the air). Fluke apologized to Bowman.

Fluke was charged with a third-degree felony, misuse of laser lighting devices. He had 12 previous arrests in Pasco County.

Ryan Fluke laser squashed80pct
Ryan Fluke

From the Bradenton Herald and ABC News, whose story includes police video of what the laser looked like from the air.