A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use

US: Man targets soccer player with laser; injures policeman during arrest

A 20-year-old man used a green laser pointer to harass persons playing soccer indoors in Naperville, Illinois, on December 22 2013. When confronted by an officer, Raul Marquez resisted arrest and injured the officer’s shoulder.

According to police, Marquez was causing a disturbance by shining a green laser in the eyes of persons at Players Indoor Sports Center. He was not on either team and police do not know why he was at the game. No injuries were reported by any of the targeted soccer players.

Marquez, a convicted burglar, was charged with felony resisting or obstructing a police officer causing injury and two counts of disorderly conduct/breach of peace.

From the Naperville Sun

UK: Football fan arrested after aiming laser at Chelsea manager

An unnamed man was reportedly arrested in West London for aiming a green laser pen at Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, and Chelsea players, during a December 11 2013 Champions League match with Steaua Bucharest.

The game was held in Chelsea’s home stadium at Stamford Bridge. The laser appeared to come from the “away” end of the stadium. An announcement was made, in English and Romanian, warning the fans to stop using the laser.

Ashley Cole laser
Chelsea player Ashley Cole has laser light aimed onto his face

The manager told reporters the laser did not unduly affect him: “I can’t worry about that during the game. I don’t know if it can create problems or not. But during the game I felt it a couple of times. I felt the green, I felt no pain.”

Chelsea went on to win the match 1-0.

From SuperSport, the London Evening Standard and VitalFootball.co.uk

US: Referee stops ACC championship football game due to laser pointer on quarterback

The Atlantic Coast Conference college football championship game on December 7 2013 was stopped briefly after a green laser pointer was aimed at the helmet of Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston.

The light, coming from the player’s left side, briefly hit his eye area. It probably did not enter his pupil due to the side angle. Here is an image captured from video.

Jameis Winston Florida quarterback laser pointer football 01

The laser was aimed primarily at his helmet:

Jameis Winston Florida quarterback laser pointer football 02

The referee stopped the game, announcing over the public address system “There is a laser being pointed on the field from the stands. It needs to be stopped with security please. Take a look at section 343.”

From CollegeSpun.com

Spain: Woman permanently injured by laser pointer bought in Shanghai

A 37-year-old Spanish woman lost 60% of her vision in one eye after playing with a laser pointer, according to an ophthalmologist from the Barraquer Clinic in Barcelona. She did not realize she had been injured until her vision deteriorated the next day.

The injury to her fovea is permanent. In a machine-translated statement, she said “All fuzzy horrors bothers me the light. I sense what I see on the screen, but I can not really read and, of course, I dare not drive.”

The clinic says this is the first case it has seen of permanent retinal damage by a laser pointer.

The woman’s husband purchased three lasers in a tourist area of Shanghai, for €30 (USD $40). One emitted a red beam, one a blue beam and one a green beam. The spower was said to be between 500 and 6,000 milliwatts (1/2 to 6 watts). There were no user warnings on the laser.

The clinic believes the laser was not aimed directly in the eye, but was probably reflected off an object. While the article and machine-translation are not clear, it is possible that one or more of the lasers used a diffraction grating to create multiple “stars”. The article discusses lasers that “allow decorative figures with the laser on the surface” and then quotes the victim as saying “Ours were beautiful: creating colorful stars in the sky.”

From LaVanguardia.com. Original article in Spanish here; Google machine translation into English here. Thanks to Jose-Maria Silvestre on the LinkedIn Laser Safety Professionals group for bringing this to our attention.

China: Man detained 5 days for aiming laser pointer at football fans, players and referees

A football fan repeatedly aimed a laser pointer, smuggled into Jinan Olympic Stadium, in the eyes of the opposing team’s fans and players, plus referees, during an October 30 2013 Chinese Super League game between Shandong Luneng and Beijing Guoan.

The man was caught by police, who said he would be held in custody five days.

From the Business Standard

Japan: Teen injured by LED pen "toy" held 40 seconds in his eye

NOTE: The injury described herein was NOT caused by a laser but by a light-emitting diode (LED). We are including it here because the measured power of 5 mW is similar to laser pointers, and because in mid-2013 the FDA proposed to regulate toys containing lasers. This case of an LED-caused injury may stimulate arguments on both sides. Additional discussion is in blue at the end of this story.

A December 2006 incident has come to our attention. A 15-year-old Japanese boy suffered a retinal injury and visual loss after deliberately looking into a 5 mW violet (410 nm) light emitting diode for a total of about 40 seconds. The LED was in a pen was sold as a toy called “Secret Pen”. The toy appears to consist of an LED light which can excite ink that is invisible under ordinary light but which fluoresces under ultraviolet and near-UV light. The 410 nm wavelength caused photochemical damage to the retina.

According to a 2011 paper in Retinal Cases & Brief Reports, the LED was aimed into the teen’s eye from a distance of about 1 cm. It was held there for about 20 seconds as he deliberately stared into the light. This exposure was repeated the next day. About two weeks later, decreased vision (20/50 on the Snellen scale) was noted in the right eye.
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Australia & Argentina: Rugby player tries to tune out laser distractions

A Canberra Times article discusses how Quantas Wallabies goalkicker Christian Lealiifano tries to tune out lasers aimed at or near him by opposing fans during rugby union matches.

The October 2 2013 article references an incident the previous week, where a New Zealand All Blacks player was given a second chance at a kick after being distracted by a laser pointer aimed by Argentine fans. According to the story, “the controversial practice [is] now associated almost exclusively with Argentine crowds.”

Lealiifano said “I don't really worry about it too much. I guess you have to try and block it out visually. I have a certain target on the ball that I look at and concentrate on the most, because that's my target area and striking zone. If the laser is around that area it might distract me, but if I stay focused on that, hopefully nothing else goes wrong.”

From the Canberra Times

US: College football player threatens officer with laser pointer; is arrested and suspended

Braxton Lane, a defensive back for the University of Cincinnati, was arrested September 29 2013 for threatening a police offer with a laser pointer.

At 5:00 am, police responded to a call at a house near the university. Lane, 22, got into a verbal dispute with an officer. He said he would shoot an officer and then aimed a laser pointer from a second-story window at the officer, who felt threatened by potential physical harm. The officer called for backup.

Pic 2013-09-30 at 6.29.04 PM

Lane was arrested, and the next day was released on $15,000 bond. A hearing on the charges of menacing and inducing panic was set for October 11. Lane, who had not yet played in any UC football games, was also suspended from the team indefinitely.

From WLWT.com and Fox19

Germany: Two teens attacked with laser pointer at school; eye damage noted

Two teenage students had a laser pointer’s beam deliberately and repeatedly aimed into their eyes while at school in Freudenstädt on September 23 2013. They both noticed vision problems and were examined by an eye doctor. One student had deteriorated visual acuity. The impact on the other student was not known and will be clarified by future studies.

The laser pointer had no markings so the power is unknown. This also will be studied so the strength of the beam is known.

According to police, the laser pointer attack was a dangerous assault. If there is also significant permanent damage to eyesight, a charge of aggravated assault may be considered.

From Schwarzwaelder-bote.de (original German version and Google machine translation into English)

US: "Criminal mischief" for Ohio man who aimed laser at neighbor's surveillance camera

A man in Barberton, Ohio was issued a court summons for criminal mischief on September 3 2013, for using a laser to damage a neighbor’s surveillance camera. On August 19 2013, the motion sensor on the camera was disabled by a laser beam that was pointed at it. On August 22, the neighbor showed police a video from the surveillance camera, identifying a suspect. Police talked with him and the man admitted aiming the laser at the camera. The case will be heard in Barberton Municipal Court.

From Ohio.com

Switzerland: 11 injured by lasers, including 3 policemen, at famed Zurich Street Parade

Eleven eye injuries due to lasers were reported during the August 10-11 2013 Street Parade in Zurich, which attracted 950,000 revelers.

Three policemen were among those reporting injuries. Two of the policemen were examined due to acute symptoms.

According to a spokesperson, this is the first time that laser “weapons” have been used in the Street Parade.

Partially as a result, within a few days a Swiss police association called for classification of higher-powered laser pointers as weapons.
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US: Coast Guard patrol boat hit by "blue, green laser" in Clearwater

From a U.S. Coast Guard press release dated August 11 2013:

Coast Guard boatcrew targeted with laser near Clearwater, Fla.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Sand Key was targeted with a laser from the shore approximately one mile southwest of Clearwater, Sunday [August 11 2013].

The station informed the station's watchstanders at 10:18 p.m., reporting the 25-foot Response Boat — Small boat crew experienced a three to four second blue, green laser burst while on patrol in the area. The entire crew experienced loss of night vision and half the crew received a direct hit from the laser.

The boat crew had to return to the station and receive eye exams.

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US: Angry teen aims laser at car, causing eye pain and flashblindness

A 19-year-old man was arrested August 2 2013 after he aimed a laser pointer at a car with five occupants, causing eye pain to one passenger and causing another to be temporarily blinded.

Trenton Demoor was angry because a coffee shop in Parkland, Washington refused him service at the drive-through window, because Demoor was on foot. He began screaming at employees. He then aimed a laser pointer at the car when the driver asked what the argument was about. Demoor yelled “You guys want to get shot?”, and then lased two of the passengers.

He was arrested on five counts of illegally discharging a laser and possession of methamphetamines. Bail was set at $30,000.

Switzerland: Train driver hit by laser beam, replaced; attacks increasingly common

The driver of an SBB (Schweizerische Bundesbahnen) intercity train traveling from Geneva to St. Gallen was flashed by a laser pointer in Thurgau. The train was stopped in Wil, St. Gallen, where passengers were told the engineer had been hit by a laser. A replacement engineer was brought in after a prolonged stoppage, to continue the journey.

An SBB spokesperson says in the past two years, laser attacks have been mounting. A spokesperson for St. Gallen police said such attacks also occur on helicopter pilots, and air rescue units have been equipped with laser eye protection goggles.

From 20 Minuten (original German text and Google-translated English text)

US: Motocross rider's brother said to aim laser pointer at rivals during race

A professional motocross organization issued fines totaling $15,500 plus additional penalties after the brother of competitor Mike Alessi was accused of aiming a green laser pointer into the eyes of his brother’s rivals just before a race began. The incident occurred July 20 2013 during the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, held in Washington state.

A video from the helmet cam of one of the targeted racers shows green flashes on his front visor, just before the starting gate drops. In addition, a photo taken at the same time shows a green glow above a distant spectator’s shoulder (circled in yellow below).

Pic 2013-07-31 at 5.52.25 PM

After the race, riders complained to MX Sports, the event organizer. Race personnel went through the crowd and soon found a retired pro racer with a green laser pointer in his hand.

Jeff Alessi initially denied the laser attack and tried to blame his girlfriend. A race official confiscated the laser and Alessi’s credentials which turned out to belong to his father. Later, an argument ensued which was captured on video, between Alessi and his father, and a journalist.

On July 22, MX Sports suspended Jeff Alessi’s eligibility and fined him $500. His father was suspended for the rest of the outdoor season. Alessi’s brother Mike, who competed in the disputed race, was fined $10,000 for the laser incident and $5,000 for transferring his father’s credentials to his brother.

The laser was described by MX Sports as “a powerful green laser pointer torch, capable of reaching considerable distance.”

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New Zealand: Store worker describes laser attack which caused stinging eyes, headache, dizziness

In a letter to the editor of the Taranaki (New Zealand) Daily News, a woman described the effects of laser light in her eyes. On July 20 2013, Therese Costello of Whalers Gate was in her store serving a customer when the passenger of a car outside, waiting at a light, aimed a laser beam at Costello. She said she “was left with stinging eyes, a very strong headache, [and] a constant state of dizziness for the next few hours.” She said she was still feeling the effects as she wrote the letter.

From Stuff.co.nz via Taranaki Daily News. The full text of the letter is below. Note: LaserPointerSafety.com is listing this incident as part of our coverage of non-aviation laser misuse; in this case, to give an idea of what it is like for someone to suffer a laser attack.
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Northern Ireland: Laser pens among items used to attack police during Belfast rioting

During a second day of rioting in Belfast, “officers were attacked by petrol bombs, fireworks, masonry, laser pens, and by a whole range of weapons and missiles”, according to a spokesperson for the Police Service of Northern Ireland. There were no serious injuries to the seven officers involved, and all remained on duty during the July 13 2013 unrest. 32 officers were injured the previous day; a Member of Parliament was taken to the hospital after being struck by a brick.

From the Irish Independent and the Guardian

UK: Bus driver treated at hospital after laser pen attack

A bus driver in South Shields, in the northeast of England, had a green laser pen aimed into his eyes by a youth standing with a group of teens by the roadside. The driver, temporarily dazzled, said it was like looking at a very bright lightbulb. According to police, “The driver’s vision is now improving after hospital treatment, however, this was a potentially dangerous situation and could have caused a crash.” The South Shields Police are investigating to find the perpetrator of the July 12 2013 attack.

From the Shields Gazette

Russia: Teen fatally stabbed for pointing laser at St. Petersburg man

A 17-year-old boarding school student was brutally stabbed to death by Vitaly Torsky, 38, after aiming a laser pointer directly at him. Torsky could receive up to 15 years in prison for the murder. It happened in early July 2013 on Leningrad Street, in the north of St. Petersburg.

From RIA Novosti

US: Teen awakened by burglar aiming laser gunsight at him

A 19-year-old youth was awakened in his Sandy Springs, Georgia, home by a burglar. On June 20 2013, the teen saw a red dot from a laser gunsight, a few feet away. The burglar shouted at him to go back to his room. A Sandy Springs police spokesperson said “From what he [the teen] said that laser pointer or that laser on the gun was pointing at him on the wall.”

No shots were fired. The burglar left with thousands of dollars in jewelry, driving away with an accomplice. Police are searching for the suspect.

From Fox30Jax.com

Iceland: Teen injures both eyes playing with 90 mW laser pointer

A 13-year-old Icelandic boy was “seriously” injured in both eyes after playing with a 90 milliwatt laser pointer purchased outside the country. He was said to have lost central vision in one eye.

The teen was treated at Landspitali University Hospital in Reykjavik. The head physician at the Department of Ophthalmology says the hospital has never seen such a severe case of laser pointer injury.
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Australia: AUS $400 fine for possessing laser pointer in public

A 24-year-old Orange, NSW man was fined AUS $400 on May 16 2013, for possessing a laser pointer in a public place.

On March 9 2013, Patrick Toohey was in a vehicle that was stopped for a random breath test. Police said they smelled cannabis and that Toohey and his four friends had bloodshot eyes, and thus searched the vehicle. The laser pointer was found in a bag. Toohey’s lawyer later said in court that Toohey had put the pointer in the bag “some time ago and had completely forgotten about it.” No cannabis was found, and the driver passed the breath test.

Toohey pleaded guilty to the laser pointer possession charge. During the sentencing phase on May 16, Toohey’s lawyer said his client was employed full-time and had been in a steady relationship for two years. He asked for leniency due to Toohey pleading guilty early in the case.

From the Central Western Daily

Australia: Lasers aimed at drivers; perpetrators warned

Green laser beams, thought to be from one or more youths, were aimed at truck drivers and at police following up on telephoned reports, in Boambee East, New South Wales on May 4 2013. The incidents occurred around 10:30 pm. Police warned that perpetrators could face a fine of up to AUS $5000 if they have lasers above 1 milliwatt in public without a valid reason.

From the Coffs Coast Advocate

US: Ohio 7th grader may be expelled for gun-shaped laser pointer

A 7th grade student in Huber Heights, Ohio was arrested April 23 2013 for bringing a laser pointer shaped like a realistic gun to Weisenborn Middle School. The unnamed 12- or 13-year-old boy pointed the “laser gun” at two other students who became frightened and told the principle. Police arrested the boy; he faces criminal charges in juvenile court. He also may be expelled due to violating the school district’s policies about weapons or look-alikes.

gun-shaped laser pointer
An example of a gun-shaped laser pointer. This particular unit emits a 100 mW beam and costs USD $68. An Internet search turns up a wide variety of gun-shaped novelty and toy laser pointers, including some that also have a lighter built in, and a gag pointer that shocks the user when they pull the trigger.

From WDTN.com

US: Man buys pointer at Dallas Walmart, immediately aims at officer and is arrested

The Dallas Observer blog relates a story of a man who purchased a red laser pointer at a Dallas area Walmart, and immediately aimed it at a uniformed Dallas police officer. The officer had “temporary blindness” according to the story. The man, identified only as “Mr. Evans” was arrested and given a ticket with a fine of up to $500. The incident occurred at 3:45 am on April 11 2013.

From the Dallas Observer. As of April 12 2013, LaserPointerSafety.com has not been able to find any other source for this story, including news articles and the Dallas Police Department website.

US: Man arrested for lasing a driver who suffers blurry vision

A driver had a laser beam aimed into his car about a dozen times, coming from another car. The beam hit the first driver’s inside rearview mirror and went into his right eye.

He contacted police, who were able to catch up with him and the other car. The first driver said he had blurry vision in his right eye and was going to follow up with his eye doctor.

The driver of the other car, Michael R. Fierke, 26, was found to have a “small package for a laser” on the front seat. Fierke was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

The incident occurred April 9 2013 in Downers Grove, Illinois, a village 22 miles west of Chicago.

From the Downers Grove Patch

US: Student charged with laser pointer assault at high school

On Feb. 27 2013, a youth was involved in a laser pointer incident at Brookfield (CT) High School. Around March 19 2013, he was formally charged in juvenile court with 3rd degree assault and with illegal use of a laser pointer. The name of the youth and details were not released.

From the Brookfield Patch

Canada: B.C. driver said to have possible eye damage from green laser

A woman driving in the left lane on Highway 1 in Abbotsford, B.C., reported that she was passed on the right side by a grayish Audi. The Audi pulled in front of her and a male passenger stood up through the sunroof, spat on the workman’s windshield, then sat down and aimed a green laser through the back window at the woman. The Audi then sped off.

The RCMP said the woman may have suffered unspecified eye damage in the February 27 2013 assault. They asked for the public’s assistance in finding the female driver and male passenger of the Audi.

From The Province

US: Man says laser aimed 1/4 mile away caused retinal injury

A San Francisco man says a laser beam aimed from a distance of 1/4 mile caused a permanent injury in his right eye in December 2012. He now uses a magnifying glass, and a computer keyboard with larger letters to do his job.

Tris Thomson laser eye injury

Tris Thomson of San Francisco was in the Mexican Riviera on a sailboat at sunset, when someone in an apartment building aimed a green laser at the boat. Thomson felt “a slight bit of pain in the eyeball. A little searing, like almost you get burnt real quickly or something,” he told KTVU TV, which reported that an “eye x-ray” showed a black blotch on his retina.

The news story quoted ophthalmologist Dr. Vineet Batra as saying that he “sees patients injured by laser pointers about once a month.”

From KTVU.com. For an analysis of this case by LaserPointerSafety.com, click the “Read More…” link. Thanks to Capt. Dan Hewett of the FDA/CDRH for bringing this to our attention, and to Greg Makhov of LSDI for assistance with the analysis.

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US: UPDATED - St. Louis teen given probation for Aug 2012 lasing of baseball players

A 17-year-old who aimed a laser at a St. Louis Cardinals baseball player and manager in an August 6 2012 incident, pleaded guilty on December 14 to disturbing the peace at an athletic event. As part of a plea agreement announced January 4 2013, Eric Bogard was sentenced to six months probation, 20 hours of community service, and paying $500 restitution to the Cardinals. If he remains on good behavior, his arrest record will be expunged; otherwise he would have a permanent record and could be jailed.

The plea agreement dropped a second charge of using a laser beam to harass or annoy another person. He could have been fined up to $500 and been jailed for between 30 and 90 days (sources differ as to the maximum sentence for this offense).

Bogard’s lawyer said his client made “an extreme error in judgement”. He also said that Bogard was not the person “who actually did most of the harassing [and] disturbing the peace.”

A St. Louis official said the plea agreement had been cleared with the baseball Cardinals.

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Additional information is at LaserPointerSafety.com’s original story. It includes an August 17 update about the resignation of the person who controlled the stadium suite where the laser pointer misuse originated.