A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use

News: Non-aviation incidents

This webpage has a chronological list of selected laser pointer incidents that are NOT related to aviation. We also have news pages for aviation incidents, and for all other laser pointer news (includes overall statistics about incidents, new laws and regulations, and safety warnings and publications). In addition, the What’s new at the website page lists major changes, updates, and additions to LaserPointerSafety.com.

We sometimes add older news items; since the list is chronological, items new to this page won’t always appear at the top. You may want to scroll down to see if there are new items since the last time you visited.


US: Laser pointer harassing San Diego families

An unknown person has been aiming a laser pointer at homes in the “upscale, affluent” Mission Hills neighborhood of San Diego, Calif.

A January 25 2018 news report said one resident keeps a “laser log” of the incidents, which can go on for several minutes. The resident said it happened five times in the past two weeks.

Police have been involved in trying to find the perpetrator.

While the green laser light’s location can clearly be seen and photographed, the location is the common-area hallway of an apartment building. No specific person has been identified.

Pic 2018-01-26 at 2.15.24 PM squashed80pct
Pic 2018-01-26 at 2.18.57 PM squashed80pct

According to the news report, “[s]hining a laser into another person’s eyes in California is a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to 30 days in jail.”

From 10news.com

India: UPDATED - 200+ students have eye problems after New Years Eve laser light show

Students at a laser show in India had symptoms of eye irritation. Below is a story from The News Minute about the show.

After the “read more” link are more stories, plus speculation that the cause might be ultraviolet light, or chemical irritation from fog or smoke.

NYE laser show leaves 200 students in Andhra with eye irritation

The children's eyes began watering and had turned red when they got up the next morning.

Around 40 students of a private school in Andhra Pradesh's Parvathipuram village in Vizianagaram district had to be given medical treatment, after their eyes began to swell on Monday morning [January 1 2018].

The 40 students, along with 200 others, began complaining of irritation and pain in their eyes, after they were reportedly exposed to lights and lasers during a show, as part of the school's New Year's Eve celebrations.

The children's eyes began watering, and had turned red when they got up the next morning.

As the children began complaining, worried parents staged a protest and demanded answers from the school.

Following this, doctors rushed to the school and administered first-aid, before assuring those who had gathered, that the kids would not lose eyesight.

“We prescribed eye drops and ointment for the affected children,” a doctor told the
Times of India.

Meanwhile, Vizianagaram district Collector Vivek Yadav was informed of the incident, and directed the Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) of Parvathipuram, P Sudarsan Dora, to visit the school along with Mandal Educational Officer P Krishna Murthy.

Circle Inspector G Rambabu also visited the school along with the officials, and spoke to the children, to collect more details regarding the case. Further details are awaited.

Click the “read more” link to see additional updated stories, plus speculation on the possible cause.     Click to read more...

US: Lasers pointed at drivers at car "sideshows" in Oakland

Police helicopter footage taken in December 2017 shows spectators at an Oakland (Calif.) car “sideshow” aiming laser pointers at drivers. This is hazardous since the automotive stunts performed at sideshows include doughnuts (tight circles with spectators close by) and ghost riding (climbing out of the car while it is moving).

Laser sideshow Oakland 2
Screenshot from a California Highway Patrol video that shows laser pointers being aimed at drivers, at spectators, and at a police helicopter monitoring a sideshow.

A California Highway Patrol officer noted multiple hazards, from eye injury to blinding vehicle operators: “So, if a laser got in the eyes of a sideshow participant, it is going to cause temporary blindness, permanent eye damage. It could cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle itself. If he loses control, it is going to hit multiple people at once and cause mass injuries…. The lasers could cause temporary blindness for the pilot, could cause the pilot to alter their course, and it could cause the helicopter to crash.”

During the same time period in December 2017, there was also a report of multiple laser strikes on airplanes landing at Oakland International Airport (story here).

From KRON TV and East Bay Times

UK: Teen in Luton attacked by laser light; eyes injured

A teenager from Luton, about 30 miles northwest of London, was injured by two boys, between 12 and 14 years old, who aimed a laser pen into the teen’s eyes from a distance.

According to a news story, “the boy sustained damage to his eyes and required hospital treatment.” A police spokesperson called the injuries “serious.”

Police were asking for help in finding the perpetrators of the December 4 2017 incident

From Luton Today

Scotland: Laser pen aimed at lifeboat on training exercise

A lifeboat crew on a training exercise in the Cromarty Firth was illuminated by green laser light, possibly from a moving vehicle, on December 11 2017.

None of the seven crew members were reported to be injured or affected by the light.

According to a news story, “Last year the Port of Cromarty Firth also complained to police after laser pens were shone into the waters of the firth. One worker had to receive medical treatment when a pen was shone directly into his eyes.”

From the North Star News

Israel: Attacks on motorists include laser pointer aimed at driver

A “wave of Arab terror attacks” in Judea and Samaria included stones and Molotov cocktails thrown at vehicles, and a report of a driver having “a laser pointer being pointed at her face in an attempt to impair her ability to drive.”

The news account did not seem to indicate that the laser usage was more widespread or organized.

From Arutz Sheva Israel International News

US: Officer in car said to have burned cornea from "inadvertent" laser pointer incident

A police officer in College Place, Washington was driving when he was illuminated by a laser pointer. Officer Bill Kelly had a burning sensation in his left eye and went to St. Mary’s Hospital. He was “released with a small burn of his cornea.”

The incident happened on November 26 2017. A College Place resident later confessed to using the laser pointer. The 43-year-old woman said she “inadvertently” aimed the laser at the officer. Police said the laser was “Class III.”

The unnamed woman may be charged with unlawful discharge of a laser at a law enforcement officer in the performance of their duty, a Class C felony which has a punishment of up to five years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

College Place Wa laser pointer class III
The laser pointer

College Place WA laser pointer label
Close-up of the laser pointer label

From MyColumbiaBasin.com.

Note from LaserPointerSafety.com: Visible light travels through the clear cornea — it is not absorbed by corneal tissue. It is essentially impossible for a handheld laser’s visible light to be able to cause corneal damage to a moving target many yards away. While certain green lasers can also emit infrared light, it is extremely unlikely that the IR was strong enough to cause damage under the specified conditions. When corneal damage is seen after an unwanted laser pointer exposure, this is due to the person rubbing their eyes too vigorously. More information on evaluating laser injuries is here.

Greece: Protesters use laser against police

During protests in Greece, laser beams were aimed at police. The photo below is from a gallery of protest photos.

Greece protester laser beam police Nov 2017

The protests marked the 44th anniversary of a 1973 student uprising against the military dictatorship.

Reuters photo from Telesur

Australia: Laser aimed at motorists including police officer

From a November 13 2017 Mackay (Queensland) police crime listing:

Motorists impeded by green laser light, Mount Pleasant

Three motorists, including one police officer, were travelling on Mackay Bucasia Road (Mount Pleasant area) when their eye-sight has been impeded by the deliberate shining of a green laser light from a near-by residence situated on the eastern side of the roadway.

The incident involving the police officer occurred at approximately 9:26pm on November 11 as the officer was travelling in a marked police car, travelling in-bound towards Mackay. The officer’s eye-sight was impeded twice by the shining of the green laser light. Police had received two reports of a similar nature from other motorists in the same time frame.

Despite patrols conducted on foot and by vehicle the address where the green laser light was activated from was not identified at the time. Police are conducting further investigations. Any one who may have information linked to these incidents is encouraged to contact the Mackay police station on 0749 683 444 or you can call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 any time of the day and provide information anonymously. The police reference number is QP1701988362.

Actions such as these have the ability to temporarily effect the eye-sight of the driver of a vehicle – which can potentially create life endangering circumstances

Scotland: Teen arrested for aiming laser pen at busses

A 14-year-old boy was charged with shining a laser pen at busses in Dundee, on November 3 2017.

A report will be sent to the Youth Justice Assessor.

The managing director of one of the busses involved said “…to shine a laser into the eyes of someone who is driving a bus is unbelievably reckless. The lives of our drivers, passengers and other road users are potentially put at risk during this sort of incident, as the person behind the wheel is temporarily blinded.”

From the Scottish Sun

UK: 12-year-old has permanent eye damage from reflected laser pointer beam

A 12-year-old boy from Market Harborough, Leicestershire, received permanent eye damage from the reflected beam of a green laser he aimed at a window. Carlo Chiriatti had purchased the laser while on an overseas vacation.

An optometrist who examined the boy said “It was clear after taking a close look at Carlo’s eyes that he had suffered some sort of damage. I could see there were slight burns to the surface of the eye [cornea] and the retina, the light sensitive tissue at the back of the eye, had been damaged.”

According to the optometrist, the boy is likely to need glasses when he is older due to the “irreversible” damage.

Carlo’s mother said “I had no idea laser pens could do so much damage to the eyes. If we had known, we’d never have let him buy one. The damage was slight when it was detected so Carlo hadn’t complained of any issues, but thank goodness it got picked up when it did.”

From the Leicester Mercury and the Express

Scotland: Teen left with impaired vision after classmate aims laser pen at her

A 13-year-old girl suffered a permanent eye injury after a classmate aimed a laser pointer at her at close range, while on a school bus headed to Fortrose Academy, about 6 miles northeast of Inverness.

On September 12 2017, a boy turned around and aimed the laser at the girl’s face. She covered her face but he deliberately aimed at her eyes. When she arrived at school, the girl told her teacher that her eye was sore and blurry. It remained that way throughout the day.

She went to an emergency center that night, and an ophthalmologist the next day. The prognosis was that there was no physical damage and her vision should improve.

About a week later, a local optician examined her and said there was damage to her peripheral vision on the left side, and it was likely to be permanent.

The girl’s father told The Press and Journal, “I was angry. I was shocked on Saturday, I was hoping it would get better. My daughter was upset. It has knocked her confidence. What I’m really bothered about is the availability of these pens. These laser pens are a danger and people should be aware. I’m intending to write to local MSPs and the MP about it. I don’t think any children should be able to buy them. You can buy them in supermarkets and on Amazon – I don’t think that’s right. I think the legislation has to be changed.”

A survey of UK ophthalmologists reported more than 150 incidents of eye injuries involving laser pointers since 2013, the vast majority of these involving children.

From an October 12 2017 article in The Press and Journal

UK: Laser scientist and baby victims of laser attack

A physicist who uses lasers in his research was targeted by a red laser, as he held his baby daughter in his arms, at his home. The attack did not seem to be specifically aiming for Dr. Ventislav Valev, but did drive home to him the need for better education and labeling for laser pointers.

The undated attack was discussed in an October 9 2017 press release from Dr. Valev’s institution, the University of Bath. The goal of the press release was to warn the public about laser pointers which may seem safe but are too powerful and/or emit infrared light in addition to visible light.

Dr. Valev and colleagues tested laser pointers at the university, and found the potentially unsafe conditions.

As part of the press release, Dr. Valev related a laser pointer attack that occurred in his home. He said his daughter was asleep at the time so no light entered her closed eyes. Dr. Valev said “… I got only momentarily dazed, but suddenly everything became red. I was thinking that perhaps I was experiencing a medical condition, but my wife saw someone shining a pointer at me from outside our home.”

Click the “read more” link to read the entire press release.     Click to read more...

US: Orlando man shot by police after brandishing laser pointer

An Orlando man bring served an arrest warrant aimed a laser pointer and threw a knife at police, who shot and killed him.

The October 6 2017 incident began when Roberto Callejas, 35, told his family he was waiting for the officers to arrive, and that he had a bomb. While it was later found that Callejas did not have any explosives, he did have two knives and a laser pointer.

When police arrived with a warrant for armed trespassing, Callejas put a knife to his throat. Police tased him. He fell to the ground, then came back up and aimed what police thought was a laser gun sight at them. Officers shot him. Callejas fell again, and again came back up; this time he tried to throw a knife at the police. Officers shot once more and killed him.

According to an Orlando Police spokesperson, Callejas had threatened police before. Police Chief John Mina said “To me it seems he wanted to die at the hands of police.”

Note: This comes on the heels of a similar September 2017 incident where a 31-year-old Bronx man refused to put down a knife and a toy gun with an integral laser pointer. The man was shot and killed after he aimed the toy gun/laser pointer at officers, according to the police account.

From the Orlando Sentinel

UK: Teen aims green laser into policeman's eye

A 16-year-old was charged with suspicion of assaulting a police officer, after allegedly shining a green laser into the policeman’s eye as he was driving.

The incident happened September 28 2017 in Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire.

From the Gazette

US: Calif. teacher loses credentials for, among other things, shining laser pointer in students' eyes

A special education teacher in the Ontario-Montclair (Calif.) School District had his teaching credentials revoked in December 2016, for abusing his students including an allegation that he shined a laser pointer in students’ eyes.

Carlos Cameron Duncan was said to have been aggressive to his students at Euclid Elementary School, to have verbally abused them, and to have used physical force, among other charges. He resigned March 8 2016. His credential revocation was reconsidered and sustained in April 2017.

There was no indication of any claim of injury from the laser pointer shining.

From a September 30 2017 article in the Daily Bulletin

US: Man fined $106 for possession and improper use of laser pointer

36-year-old Aubrey Elmore from Cave Springs, Arkansas “was fined $106 for possession and improper use of [a] laser pointer,” according to the Joplin, Missouri Municipal Court log.

Analysis from LaserPointerSafety.com: There is a Joplin city ordinance, dating from 1999, that makes it illegal to annoy, harass or injure a person or animal. It also is illegal for a person under 18 to possess a laser pointer. It is not known how it would be illegal for a 36-year-old to possess a laser pointer.

From the Joplin Globe

US: NYPD video shows man killed for aiming fake gun laser pointer at officers

On September 6 2016, New York City Police Department officers fatally shot a man who they say aimed an imitation gun with a laser pointer at them. Killed was 31-year-old college student Miguel Richards.

Police released four videos from officers’ body-worn cameras, showing how the incident progressed. A detailed look at the laser light seen in videos is below. First though, a summary of the incident.

The fatal incident

Police had been called by Richards’ landlord because Richards had not been seen for a few days. Confronted by two police officers in his Bronx apartment bedroom, Richards stood motionless and silent throughout most of the incident. He had a knife in one hand and the toy gun behind his back.

Miguel Richards toy gun laser pointer NYPD video frame 926

Body-worn video shows the scene.

Police asked him dozens of times to drop the knife and put his hands up. After about 10 minutes, they noticed the gun.

An officer told Richards “"Drop that gun, dude. Drop that gun. I don't want to shoot you if you've got a fake gun in your hand. You hear me? But I will shoot you if that's a real gun."

Two additional officers then arrived; one pulled out a stun gun. Richards appeared to raise his arm and aim the laser pointer towards the officers. The officer with the stun gun fired. After a few seconds, and a possible second laser “shot” from Richards, a second officer fired nine bullets, a third officer fired seven bullets, and the fourth officer did not fire.

Richards died at the scene.

Miguel Richards toy gun laser pointer floor

The imitation pistol with laser pointer lies at the scene; NYPD photo.

Click to

UK: Ambulance driver temporarily blinded by green laser

The driver of a North West Ambulance Service vehicle was temporarily blinded by a green laser shone in her eye, as she was driving to help a patient who was having trouble breathing. The ambulance driver said “everything went black” and she had to pull to the side of the road.

She was treated at a hospital for “extreme burning pain.” She recovered with no lasting damage.

The laser attack happened in Carlisle, Cumbria around September 13 2017. It was not clear from news reports whether the ambulance driver was delayed in reaching the patient, or whether another ambulance was sent.

From BBC News

UK: "Gang" of pre-teens aiming laser at passing motorists

A group of eight to ten youths, aged around 10-12 years old, aimed a green laser pointer at motorists on August 2 2017 in Keresley, which is about five miles north of Coventry.

Passers-by saw the youths — described as a “gang” in a news report — and reported them to a passing member of the Bedworth Safer Neighborhood Team. An officer from the team said SNT is investigating the “potentially very dangerous” pranks. The officer also said “I would ask parents if these were their children to have a serious word with them.”

Anyone with information is asked to call 101 or the confidential Crimestoppers hotline, 0800 555 111.

From the Coventry Telegraph

US: California man arrested for aiming a laser pointer (on a gun?) at people

A 30-year-old man was arrested July 18 2017 for aiming a laser pointer “at people passing Potrero Circle and Lawler Ranch Parkway” in Suisun City, California. It was not clear from press reports if pedestrians or vehicles were being targeted.

A caller had reported to police that a man had “something attached to a laser that appeared to be a firearm.” Police arrested Jose M. Padilla as he was leaving the area in a van.

Padilla had been arrested July 10 2017 on a firearms charge. He was not to possess firearms or ammunition. When arrested on July 18, ammunition was found in the van.

He was charged with two misdemeanors: suspicion of violating a firearms emergency protective order, and suspicion of pointing a laser pointer with the intent to cause a person to fear harm.

From the Daily Republic and The Reporter

Israel: Palestinian girl playing with laser pointer beaten by Israeli forces

The Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that Israeli soldiers physically assaulted a 17-year-old Palestinian girl in Hebron on the evening of June 28 2017 while she was playing with a laser pointer with friends. She was taken to the hospital after suffering from bruises across her body.

News reports did not say how the laser pointer was linked to the beating. (For example, whether the girl was aiming it at the soldiers.)

From Wafa and the Ma’an News Agency

US: Multilple laser pointer attacks on Chesapeake Bay ships

The U.S. Coast Guard reported that multiple ships in the Chesapeake Bay had a laser aimed at them in April and early May 2017. The laser light came from an area between Drum Point and Cove Point in St. Marys County, Maryland:

Laser Chesapeake Bay

The following is from a Coast Guard press release dated May 4 2017:

The Coast Guard is investigating multiple laser strikes during the past month aimed at commercial vessels transiting the Chesapeake Bay and warns the public of this dangerous act.

Four incidences occurred early Wednesday morning between midnight and 3 a.m., involving the motor vessels Salome, Bulk Spain, and AM Annaba. Additionally, a pilot vessel was lased as it was on its way back to the pilot launch.

Three other incidents occurred: Monday around 2 a.m., involving the motor vessel Hoegh Osaka; Sunday at 4 a.m., and involved the cruise ship Carnival Pride and another April 7 at approximately 1 a.m., involving the motor vessel Maersk Kolkata.

During all incidents, the laser light was described as steady, powerful and somewhat painful to the eyes. The reporting source believes the laser originated in the area between Drum Point and Cove Point, and lasted for approximately 15 minutes.

“Laser lights, and other bright lights can be a hazard to navigation,” said Lt. Trish Elliston, Coast Guard Sector Maryland-National Capitol Region. “The most likely scenario is the laser would blind or distract a pilot which would prevent the pilot from seeing a smaller vessel. This could cause a collision or other serious incident in the shipping channel.”

The Laser Safety Act, makes it a misdemeanor to knowingly and willfully cause or attempt to cause bodily injury by shining, pointing, or focusing the beam of a laser pointer on an individual operating a motor vehicle, vessel, or aircraft. The penalty is a maximum 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.

The Coast Guard is working with state and local law enforcement along with Chesapeake Bay Pilots to investigate the incidents. Anyone with information leading to the whereabouts of the individual, or individuals, involved are asked to contact the Coast Guard Sector Maryland-National Capital Region Command Center at 410-576-2525 or via email at cgis-baltimore@uscg.mil.

US: Illinois man charged with aiming laser pointer at officer

Clinton N. Sanders, 33, of Gillespie, Illinois (about 38 miles NE of Saint Louis, Missouri) has been charged with aggravated battery and disorderly conduct with a laser pointer in connection with an April 28 2017 incident in which he allegedly picked an officer up off the ground in a bear hug and aimed an operating laser pointer at the officer.

From “Court News” in the Macoupin (IL) County Enquirer-Democrat

UK: Man assaulted with laser pen, falls, requires surgery

A man in his 40s, who was walking his dog in Weymouth, Dorset, was assaulted by another man who aimed a green laser pen into the dog’s eyes. This “caused the dog to bolt forward and aggravated an existing back injury the victim had received.” The victim fell down, and the attacker then aimed the laser into the man’s eyes.

Police said that the victim “is likely to have to undergo surgery to repair damage caused to his back following this incident.”

The attack happened at about 9:20 pm on April 23 2017. Police did not release details until May 4.

From the Dorset Echo

US: Apple employees' vision affected by prototype laser device

An Apple Inc. employee reported “discomfort” after a laser was flashed in her eye several times on February 21 2017. Another employee on March 2 reported eye pain. This is according to an April 14 “Environment Health and Safety” contractor report that was leaked to the tech blog Gizmodo.

The document lists over 70 incidents. The two which involve prototype hardware that includes, or appears to include, laser light are:

  • “After BT4 user study, user advised study lead, that she experienced discomfort in her eye and said she was able to see the laser flash at several points during the study. Study lead referred her to optometrist and secured prototype unit for analysis.”
  • “Employee reported eye pain after working with new prototype, thought it may be associated with use. He noticed that the security seal on the magenta (outer) case had been broken and had thought the unit may have been tampered with.”

Gizmodo wrote that “a source inside Apple speculated that this [March 2] injury may have something to do with an augmented reality product Apple may be testing, something like glasses with an overhead display.”

Another tech blog, SlashGear, speculated on how Apple might be using lasers in or near eyes: “There are several possibilities as to how the lasers mentioned in one of the incident reports might be involved in that, depending on the technologies Apple is using. For instance, laser projection – where graphics are created directly on the eye using a system of targeted laser light – has been used by several companies wanting to make a daylight-visible UI. Another alternative, and possibly a more likely one, is laser eye-tracking. That relies on using lasers to monitor eye movement in real-time, so that the wearer’s direction of gaze can be calculated. Such a system would be able to figure out what the user was looking at and potentially control a user-interface that way.”

From Gizmodo and SlashGear

US: Man charged with assault for aiming laser at state trooper who was driving

On April 14 2017, a Michigan State Police trooper driving on his way to a crash had a laser aimed at him. The trooper’s partner was able to identify a male suspect who was taken into custody.

On April 17 state police announced that Jonathan Edward Rayner was arrested and a laser pointer was retrieved. Rayner had been a passenger in another car on the highway. The 32-year-old man was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, and with “assaulting-resisting-obstructing a police officer.” Both assault charges are felonies. The maximum penalty is four years in prison on the dangerous weapon charge, and 20 years in prison for assaulting a police officer.

Jonathan Edward Rayner laser
Jonathan Edward Rayner

The incident happened on eastbound Interstate 94 in Wayne County at about 8 pm. The trooper was taken to a hospital “with vision problems and headache.” Later that day, state police tweeted “His vision has returned and he has been cleared. Other than a serious headache he should be back to work.”

From two tweets by Michigan State Police Metro Detroit, as initially reported in
ClickOnDetroit.com. Announcement of the suspect’s name and the charges from the Detroit News, Fox 2 Detroit and the Morning Sun. Thanks to David Bothner for bringing this to our attention.

Canada: Laser pointer aimed into home; police lecture offender

Police were called to a home in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan on January 25 2017, where someone was aiming a laser pointer into the home. “They found the offending laser pointer operator and advised him about approved uses of laser pointers.”

From a “Daily police calls” column in the Moose Jaw Times Herald

US: $13,241 in fines, 15 days in jail for Washington state man who aimed at a ferry

On December 27 2016 the U.S. Coast Guard assessed a civil penalty of $9,500 against Mark Raden, 27, for “interfering with the safe operation of a vessel” by aiming a blue laser at a Washington state ferry on October 22 2015. One of the ferry’s officers was said to have burns on his eyelid.

Raden also pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment in Island County Superior Court. He was ordered to serve 15 days in jail, perform 240 hours of community service, pay $3,740.89 in restitution to the master and chief mate, and serve 24 months probation.

On April 26 2016, the Coast Guard issued a civil penalty of $100,000 against Raden. According to a Coast Guard press release at the time, “Coast Guard officials are seeking civil penalties for violation of a safety and security zone as well as interference with the safe operation of the Tokitae [ferry] while it transited between Mukilteo and Clinton [in Washington state]. The final civil penalty amount [which turned out to be $9,500] will be determined by a Coast Guard Hearing Officer in Arlington, Va.”

A Coast Guard spokesperson told Cyrus Farivar of Ars Technica "Originally there were multiple charges that brought the maximum amount to $100,000 [as] referenced in the original [press] release. Ultimately the hearing officer has the final say and chose to only pursue the one charge for 'interfering with the safe operation of a vessel' and assessed a fine of $9,500."

Raden has previously been in trouble for misusing a laser. In July 2015, Raden and his friend Dillon Reisman, 27, were aiming a laser into house windows in Langley, Washington, in order to “cause alarm to anyone trying to sleep.” When confronted by police, Raden repeatedly aimed the laser beam into an officer’s face. Felony charges were not filed until November 18 2015.

In yet another incident, police said Raden was accused of using a laser and acid as weapons.

From the Chronicle, the San Juan Islander and Ars Technica. The original LaserPointerSafety.com story about the incident is here; an updated story with news about Raden’s arrest and the Coast Guard penalty is here. Additional details of Raden’s previous run-ins over misusing lasers can be found in an April 11 2016 HeraldNet story.

US: Man charged with using laser pointer to lure feral cats into dog attack

A witness reported a man and his pit bull dog were “terrorizing” feral cats on Digital Drive. The man would use a laser pointer to lure the cats out from a dark corner so that his dog could attack the felines. The disturbance was reported 11:10 p.m. December 4 2016.

From the December 8 2016 “Police blotter” report in the Morgan Hill (Calif.) Times

US: Man charged with pointing laser at two Va. police officers

A man was charged for shining a laser on two Fairfax County (Va.) Police Department officers on December 6 2016.

Just after 2 a.m., two officers, dressed in full uniform, responded to the 12200 block of Water Elm Lane for a report of concern for a garage door that was left partially open. As they waited outside a home to speak to someone, one officer noticed a red laser pointed directly at them. Not knowing the source or purpose of the light, both officers took cover.

They saw the suspect standing on an apartment balcony nearby, in the 4400 block of Milroy Way. They went to the apartment and identified the suspect, who was cooperative. Officers determined the device was a small laser pointer.

Johnny A. Tela, 24, of Centreville, was issued a summons for pointing a laser at a law-enforcement officer (Va State code 18.2-57.01).

From a Fairfax County Police Department news story

Mexico: Laser aimed at NFL quarterback during game

A green laser was aimed multiple times at the helmet and face of Houston Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler, during a National Football League game played November 21 2016 in Mexico City. Here are two photos taken of the same play, from different vantage points:

Brock Osweiler laser 02

Brock Osweiler laser 01

The first incident happened near the end of the second quarter of play. When the game resumed after halftime, the laser was again aimed onto the field about two minutes into the third quarter, on running back Lamar Miller:

Lamar Miller laser 01

According to analyst John Harris of HoustonTexans.com, “The Texans security spent nearly the entire first half trying to find the culprit in the North end zone. There were state and city police in that end zone for most of the rest of the half. I don’t know if they ever found anyone….”

After the game, Osweiler was asked about the laser interference: “There were multiple times I saw a green laser coming from the stands. There were a couple of times it definitely hit me in the eye. And it was very noticeable…. Certainly, having a laser zoomed in on your eyeball definitely affects how you play.”

Click to

Korea: "Anti-fan" said to attack singer with laser pointer during concert

Singer Jung Chaeyeon of girl group I.O.I had an apparent laser pointer aimed at her face and into her eye during a televised performance on October 26 2016. She continued to sing and appeared to be unfazed and unhurt by the light.

The incident occurred on MBC Music’s “Show Champion” television show. Video shows a brief, approximately 5-second period when a relatively dim light can be seen on Chaeyeon’s face:

Pic 2016-10-31 at 2.43.12 AM

Pic 2016-10-31 at 2.42.14 AM

An alleged screenshot on Koreaboo.com (below, top images) shows a brighter dot that is yellow with red glowing edges. However, the dot appears to be photoshopped since a video screenshot of the same moment captured by LaserPointerSafety.com shows a dimmer dot (below, bottom images):

Jung Chaeyeon laser Koreaboo screenshot
Jung Chaeyeon laser Koreaboo closeup
From Koreaboo.com; oval added on Koreaboo version. Closeup on bottom.

Jung Chaeyeon laser LPS screenshot
Jung Chaeyeon laser LPS closeup
Video capture at 00:28. Closeup on bottom.

The original video is here (light spot appears from approximately 00:25 to 00:30):

The Google-translated headline on a story from Korean website Dispatch.co.kr is “ ‘Fans rage, threatening safety’ … jeongchaeyeon laser beam terrorism”

According to Koreaboo.com, the alleged laser pointer came from an “anti-fan.” This is a concept where people who dislike celebrities will take negative actions against the celebrity or their fans. For example, one girl group member, Gan Mi-Yeon, received “scores of ‘fan mail’ filled with razors … along with pictures of her with her eyes taken out or letters written in blood.” In 2000, a boy band member was given a soda injected with bleach; his mother happened to drink it and was hospitalized.

Article in English from Koreaboo.com. Original article from Dispatch.co.kr, English translation from Google. Anti-fan information from the Ask A Korean blog.

US: Multi-car crash due to laser being aimed at driver

A woman driving on Interstate 5 in Oregon was dazzled by a green laser beam aimed by the driver of another car. This led to a three-car crash causing body damage to the vehicles. There were no reported injuries due to the crash or the laser light.

The accident occurred at about 5:30 am on October 25 2016. Miranda Senters, 18, was driving her new car, bought one week prior, when the driver in front of her aimed a green laser beam over his shoulder towards her. Senters told KGW News “I just kept going back and forth a little bit, trying to keep out of the light.” The laser driver then went behind Senters’ car and aimed into the rear-view mirror: “…he’s shining it from the back of me into my eyes and I couldn’t see.”

Senters tried to get away but the other driver weaved in and out of lanes to keep up with her. While trying to avoid the light, Senters swerved to the shoulder and spun out. The other car crashed into her. A third driver hit a barrier when trying to avoid the stopped vehicles.

The laser car, an older Honda Civic, left the scene. In an Instagram post, state police asked the public to help them find the Civic.

laser car crash Oregon i-5 I5 Senter
State police photo showing Senters’ car with driver side damage, at the scene on Interstate 5.

Senters later told KPTV “He had a little laser and was trying to get it through my front window. I went blind because a green laser light — like my eyes still hurt from that, I can still see it…. I don’t understand how it’s a joke. It could have killed me.”

From KGW and KPTV. Thank you to George Palikaras for bringing this to our attention.

Note from LaserPointerSafety.com: This is the first well-documented case we’re aware of where a laser pointer aimed at a driver directly caused a crash. There was a fatal crash in 1998 which was partially blamed on a laser pointer, and an indirect reference to a three-car accident in 1999. There have also been a number of near-accidents and other car-related laser incidents which are listed here.

Scotland: Woman attacked by teens with laser pen, blinded in one eye

A 33-year-old woman was blinded in one eye by a laser pen during an attack by two boys who were about 14 or 15 years old.

She was walking on a road, under a railway bridge, in Clydebank when the incident took place at about 10 pm on September 10 2016. The exact nature of the attack — whether money was demanded or if the lasing was random — was not described in news accounts.

The woman was taken to a hospital about 4 miles away. She later reported the assault to the police. News about the attack was not released until a week later.

News reports quoted a Police Scotland spokesperson as saying, “This was a completely unprovoked and senseless attack on this woman, which has left her blind in one eye. The youths responsible must be caught as soon as possible. To point a laser pen at someone is highly irresponsible. Extensive inquiries are ongoing to trace the two boys, with officers carrying out inquiries in the local area and studying CCTV footage to identify them.”

The attack comes just a few days after a man was arrested for aiming a laser pen at a Police Scotland helicopter in Clydebank on September 5 2016.

From BBC News and Glasgow Evening Times

US: College football referee asks fans to stop shooting laser beams onto field

During a September 16 2016 college football game in Houston between rivals Rice and Baylor, someone in the stands shone a green laser beam onto the field.

Pic 2016-09-17 at 10.30.14 AM

The referee stopped the game and, using the public address system, faced the crowd and said “Ladies and gentlemen, please refrain from shooting lasers onto the field. Thank you.”

A video of the laser beam, and the referee’s announcement, can be seen here.

From USA Today and SB Nation

US: Teen points beam from laser "gun" into officer's eyes

A teenager pointed a laser “gun” at a Northport, NY police officer’s face. The incident happened at 9:45 pm on September 10 2016. The 17-year-old was arrested about 21 hours later, and was charged with second-degree menacing and second-degree harassment.

Northport Police Chief Bill Ricca told LaserPointerSafety.com that the laser beam went into the officer’s face and eyes. The officer was temporarily blinded. He did not feel discomfort, but did go to an eye doctor for an exam which showed no ill effects.

Ricca said that the situation could have been much worse: “If the laser was aimed at the cop’s chest so the cop could see what was going on, I’m sure he might have shot at the kid. We would have had a real bad incident.”

Pic 2016-09-15 at 3.10.06 PM
The laser “gun” used in the incident.

Pic 2016-09-15 at 3.22.30 PM
An Internet search of similar “laser pointer guns” turns up a similar
lighter costing about $7.00.

From Northport Patch and a September 16 2016 phone interview with Chief Bill Ricca

US: Family robbed by men who threatened them with a laser pointer

At about 1 am on September 13 2016, a family was robbed in a Tulsa, Oklahoma, convenience store parking lot by three men. One of them aimed a laser pointer at the father and demanded cash and purses. The family turned over the items and the men left.

A news story states “It’s not clear if the men had any weapons.”

From NewsOn6.com

US: Disorderly man aims laser pointer at police officer

A disorderly man was arrested in New Castle, Indiana, for aiming a red laser pointer at a police officer.

At about 4:35 am on September 11 2016, city police were called to a tavern where 57-year-old David Roginski was trying to enter — although the tavern was closed. He shouted at officers, flipped a lit cigarette at them, then pointed the laser at an officer while hiding behind a traffic light box.

He was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and with directing a laser pointer at a public safety officer. Each charge could result in a jail sentence of up to 180 days. (On September 13, he was separately charged with auto theft, stemming from allegedly stealing a vehicle on September 7. Roginski has had multiple past run-ins with the law, as well.)

From the Star Press and the Courier-Times

US: Study examines four laser-caused eye injuries in children, at one medical practice

A study in the October 2016 journal Pediatrics described four cases where children had laser-related eye injuries, all being presented at a single clinical practice within a two-year period. The authors call this “[t]o our knowledge, the largest reported case series of laser pointer-induced retinal damage in the pediatric population in a developed country to date.”

In a separate interview, one of the authors, ophthalmologist Dr. David Almeida, said these cases are “happening more frequently…. It was previously thought this was a one-in-a-million event. It's still probably a rare-to-uncommon reaction, but it's not a never reaction.”

All four children had foveal laser burns. Three of the children had potentially permanent vision loss. These are the cases:

  • A 12-year-old boy looked into a green laser pointer for about a minute. He had decreased central vision in both eyes, with 20/20 vision in one eye and 20/30 in another. His vision and macular condition was found to be unchanged after 7 months.
  • A 16-year-old teenager similarly had central vision loss in both eyes, after playing with a green laser pointer for about 30 seconds. He was first examined three days after the exposure, scars and atrophy were found on the retina. Two weeks later his vision has worsened. Visual acuity was 20/40 in both eyes with no improvement.
  • A 9-year-old boy looked at the reflection of a green laser pointer in a mirror (essentially the same as a direct beam) for an unknown length of time. His vision was 20/50. He was treated with 1% prednisolone three times a day for two weeks. His vision improved to 20/30, but he still had “persistent abnormalities of the photoreceptors.”
  • A 12-year-old boy looked into a red laser pointer for about 15 seconds. He had central vision loss, and 20/70 vision. He was given an injection of bevacizumab, which gradually improved his vision and symptoms. After 1 year, he had 20/20 vision.

The authors noted that laser pointers are more available, that users may not be aware of the dangers, and that some users may use pointers improperly.

Visible lasers less than 5 milliwatts (the U.S. legal standard for a laser to be marketed as a “pointer”) are considered to be generally safe due to the bright light reflex, which causes a person to blink and turn away from a bright light. So one question is why these children were injured by laser pointers.

One reason, according to the authors, is that “children increase their chance to retinal injury by staring at the laser beam without blinking or averting the eye for a prolonged duration.”

Another possible cause is that “the labeling of the power output of a laser point may be different from the device’s actual specifications.” They referred to a study of 122 laser pointers, where 90% of green pointers and 44% of red pointers were above the 5 milliwatt U.S. legal limit.

The study said that treatment options were “limited and also controversial.” Use of corticosteroids has shown “mixed results.” It may be enough to observe a patient over time, since many injuries will stabilize.

The authors recommended that laser pointer hazards “should be communicated to health professionals, school teachers, and guardians in an attempt to raise the public awareness of this emerging public health issue. Unsupervised use of these laser pointer devices among children should be discouraged, and there is a need for legislation to limit these devices in the pediatric population.”

From Retinal Injury Secondary to Laser Pointers in Pediatric Patients, Kunyong Xu, Eric K. Chin, Polly A. Quiram, John B. Davies, D. Wilkin Parke III and David R.P. Almeida, in Pediatrics; originally published online September 1, 2016; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2016-1188. A general interest article summarizing the study, with additional comments from Almeida and another ophthalmologist, is at HealthDay.com. The abstract of the Pediatrics article is below; click the “Read More…” link.

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US: Laser pointer sale gone bad escalates to airsoft gun, then real gun

On August 19 2016, a group of men having alcoholic drinks in a Mill Creek (Washington) park discussed the sale of a laser pointer to one of the group. An argument broke out over the exchange of money.

The seller pulled out an airsoft gun, but one of the other men pulled out a .40 caliber pistol. The seller ran away, but was shot by the man with the pistol. The bullet impacted on a metal flashlight in the seller’s backpack, possibly saving his life.

Flashlight laser bullet
The flashlight that took the bullet impact

The shooter was arrested on charges of attempted murder.

From Q13Fox.com

Sweden: Two teens playing Pokemon Go assaulted by laser-wielding couple in pig masks

Two teenagers playing the game “Pokemon Go” on August 12 2016 at around 10 p.m. in Insjön, a small Swedish town of 2,150 inhabitants, came across a couple wearing rubber pig masks. The couple yelled at the teens and waved a green laser at them. One of the teens was lased in the face but the light did not go into an eye. The teens ran off.

The pig-headed couple then went to a local landmark, a large water wheel on Highway 70, where they had sex. This caused a traffic jam.

Police were looking for the pair, since the green laser beam could cause serious eye damage. They may also face sexual harassment charges for the public sex.

From the Daily Mail and The Local. Article in Swedish from Dalarnas Tidnigar; English translation here.

Ukraine: Russia claimed to use laser to burn border guards' retinas

A Ukrainian official said that Russian forces “tested their laser weapons on our soldiers.” Three border guards had retinal burns that damaged their central vision. The guards had been using binoculars and monocles, which could help focus laser light into a more concentrated spot on the retina.

This was the first report of Russian use of a laser to blind, which is prohibited by the United Nations “Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons”. The protocol bans the use of “laser weapons specifically designed, as their sole combat function or as one of their combat functions, to cause permanent blindness to unenhanced vision, that is to the naked eye or to the eye with corrective eyesight devices.”

From Ukraine Today; original story from Interfax-Ukraine

Australia: NSW man avoids conviction for shining laser pointer in public place

A man who owned a laser pointer for two days, was arrested after aiming it on an administration building in the Wollongong (New South Wales) train station.

On May 21 2016 Anthony Vella, 20, was trying out a laser pointer purchased as a gift for him by his brother, to see how far the light was visible. Two transport command police officers saw the laser being used, and charged Vella with using a laser pointer in a public place. They also confiscated the pointer. In testing, they noted that the laser dot was “clearly visible” on a wall 500 meters away.

On July 26 2016 Vella pleaded guilty. His lawyer said Vella was not aware that use of a laser pointer in a public place was illegal.

The judge ruled that Vella broke the law but did not record a criminal conviction due to Vella’s prior good character and lack of malicious intent.

From the Illawarra Mercury

UK: Woman sentenced for illegal laser imports that injured boy's eyesight

A 47-year-old Surrey woman was sentenced in mid-July 2016 to 240 hours of community service for illegally importing 300 over-powered lasers. One of the lasers was sold for £6 (USD $9) at a school Christmas fair and subsequently caused an eye injury to a seven-year-old boy.

Lynsey McClure had imported the lasers from a Chinese supplier who said they complied with U.K. regulations limiting laser pens to 1 milliwatt of power. Her brother, who was not charged, sold them in a stall during a school fair in December 2015. The headmaster asked her brother to stop selling the laser, but he continued.

Lynsey McClure laser
Lynsey McClure

Jonathan Marshall, 7, purchased one of the lasers. It was later found to have an output of 127 milliwatts.

His mother said Jonathan was playing with it at home when the beam went into his eye for “a fraction of a second.” He has a retinal burn which interferes with his vision.

McClure pleaded guilty to nine product safety and consumer protection violations, including selling an unsafe product and failing to disclose the power of the laser.

The case appears to be the first where a person has been prosecuted for an illegal laser sale that led to an injury.

From the Sunday Times (subscription required to read the entire article) and the JC.com

US: Laser aimed at officers during St. Paul protests

St. Paul, Minnesota police tweeted on July 9 2016 “Person with laser sight pointing it at officers.” This occurred during widespread protests in over a dozen U.S. cities, after two black men were killed by officers on July 5 and 6. (The most violent reaction occurred in Dallas on July 7 when a black Army reservist killed five officers, injured eight more, and injured two spectators.)

On July 9 in Philadelphia, CBSPhilly reported that a person was arrested for aiming a laser at a police helicopter after the protest. WHYY Newsworks said that a man was “briefly detained by officers after he used a powerful flashlight to point at the helicopter overhead. Because no illegal laser-pointers were used, he was sent away with a citation for disorderly conduct….” It is not known if these two reports referred to the same incident.

A Google search as of July 11 did not turn up any additional instances where lasers were used in or around protests.

US: UPDATED - Wash. state man charged with lasing ferry; ordered to pay $100,000 fine

27-year-old Mark Raden was alleged to have injured two ferry captains with a nominal 1-watt blue handheld laser. The captains were temporarily blinded and had eye irritation after the October 22 2015 incident. On April 1 2016, Raden was charged with two counts of third-degree assault. If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

The almost six-month delay was due in part because the crime took place in waters between jurisdictions, making it more complex to determine who would prosecute.

Raden has previously been in trouble for misusing a laser. In July 2015, Raden and his friend Dillon Reisman, 27, were aiming a laser into house windows in Langley, Washington, in order to “cause alarm to anyone trying to sleep.” When confronted by police, Raden repeatedly aimed the laser beam into an officer’s face. Felony charges were not filed until November 18 2015.

In yet another incident, police said Raden was accused of using a laser and acid as weapons.

From MyNorthwest.com

UPDATED - May 2 2016: The U.S. Coast Guard issued a civil penalty of $100,000 against Raden on April 26 2016. According to a Coast Guard press release, “Coast Guard officials are seeking civil penalties for violation of a safety and security zone as well as interference with the safe operation of the Tokitae while it transited between Mukilteo and Clinton. The final civil penalty amount will be determined by a Coast Guard Hearing Officer in Arlington, Va.” The text of the press release is below (click on the “Read More…” link).

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US: Fan banned from basketball arenas for aiming laser at player

A Houston Rockets player had a laser pointer aimed at him, during a January 4 2016 National Basketball Association game against the Utah Jazz. The player, James Harden, pointed to the stands.

Laser NBA Rockets Jazz Harden 00

The perpetrator was found and was ejected from the arena:

Laser NBA Rockets Jazz Harden

He was later banned from NBA arenas for a year.

After the game, Harden said “Some guy was lasering me. I saw it the first time and I thought it was a picture being taken. I went to the foul line again and it happened again. The referee [Tom Washington] caught it before I did. That’s the first time that happened to me.”

Two days later, Harden told ESPN “That's just disrespectful, not just to a basketball player, anybody. Whoever that guy was he wouldn't want to be lasered in the face, so that was disrespectful. It's not my call [on the fan being banned], I'm just trying not to get blind."

From the Houston Chronicle, SB Nation and USA Today

Israel: Protesters aiming laser pointers at drivers

Palestinian protesters aimed laser pointers at Israeli drivers, to temporarily blind them, according to a December 28 2015 news report.

The attacks happened at least three times on different routes in the West Bank.

An earlier report, from November 5 2014, describes an attack:

The [Jewish] driver reports that an Arab motorist came up next to his car, and used a laser to try and blind him and cause him to lose control of the vehicle.

"He came up next to me and aimed the laser at my face for several long seconds," the driver told Arutz Sheva.

"He tried to divert my view from the road so that I would crash. By a miracle I managed to escape...it's clear that he tried to kill me," reported the driver.

From the Algemeiner (2015) and Arutz Sheva