A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use

US: Blue laser pointer said to injure ferry captain in Washington state

The captains of a Washington state ferry were each hit by blue laser light, aimed at them by a man in his twenties from a passing ferry. The October 22 2015 incident lasted about a minute, and resulted in eye injuries to one of the captains. Also, earlier that same evening, a motorcyclist on Whidbey Island had a blue laser aimed at him while going to the ferry terminal.

This map shows the ferries’ route. The map’s indicated positions of the ferries are from a later time and do NOT show their position during the laser incident.

Washington State ferries map

At about 8:30 pm, the ferry M/V Tokitae (shown below) was approaching the Clinton (Wash.) Ferry Terminal. The captains were at wheelhouses on opposite ends of the 362-foot-long ferry. The one piloting the vessel was hit first, and suffered injuries.

Washington State Ferry MV Tokitae 01

According to Washington State Ferries Port Captain Jay Mooney, the man had “third-degree burns on his eyelid and his vision is still not quite back at 100 percent.” (A first-degree burn occurs only on the surface of the skin. A third-degree burn “extends to all layers of the skin,” according to the Wikipedia “Burn” article.)

The blue laser beam came from the slightly smaller ferry M/V Kitsap, which was traveling in the opposite direction.

Washington State Ferry MV Kitsap 328ft

A Kitsap deckhand had seen two men with the laser, and reported it to a Washington State Patrol trooper after arrival at the terminal in Mukilteo. One man told the officer that “it was a new toy and he was shining it at the water and didn’t mean to shine it at the vessel,” according to a WSP spokesperson. The trooper confiscated the laser pointer, shown here:

Blue laser Washington state ferry

The spokesperson said “This is not a typical laser you’d see in a classroom or office setting.” She referenced the manufacturer’s packaging which says to use safety glasses, to not aim it at faces, and that it could light a match if held on target long enough.

A similar-looking laser sold by Lasers-Pointers.com is said to be 5000 mW (5 watts) and costs less than $200:

Lasers-Pointers dot com 5W blue laser

The two captains exposed to the laser light missed one day of work. The suspect who had the laser has not yet been charged, as of October 29 2015. Prosecutors are determining what charges would be appropriate.

UPDATED - November 9 2015: No arrests have yet been made and no charges have been filed, more than two weeks after a suspect was picked up. This is due in part to determining what jursidiction applied, since the laser incident took place on ferries in waters between different Washington state counties. Another difficulty was determining what charge to file. A KIRO radio story also noted the limitations of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates lasers. While FDA attempts to block some high-powered lasers, imports can get through. And, “there aren't any penalties for buying or owning those illegally high-powered devices, nor are there requirements for training for non-medical, non-industrial devices.” From MyNorthwest.com

UPDATED - April 18 2015: 27-year-old Mark Raden was charged with assault in the third degree, for aiming at the ferry captains. In addition, he has a previous history of run-ins with law enforcement over laser misuse. Details are here.

An analysis of the laser’s power and capabilities is below (click on the “read more” link).

From KOMO News, Q13Fox, the Kitsap Sun and Wikipedia. Ferry drawings and route map from Washington State Department of Transportation website. Laser pointer info from Lasers-Pointers.com.

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US: UPDATED - NFL fan banned from Detroit games, faces charge for aiming laser at football players

The NFL football fan who shined a green laser pointer beam at two players on October 5 2014, has been “banned indefinitely from attending all future events at Ford Field,” according to an October 9 press release from the Detroit Lions football team.

In addition, the person was charged with disorderly conduct by the Detroit City Prosecutor’s Office. This is a misdemeanor and would require payment of a small fine ($50, according to WSJM.com).

Finally, the Ford Field season ticket holder whose tickets were used by the laser-wielding person has had his tickets revoked for the remainder of the 2014 football season (e.g., five regular season home games).

In the October 9 press release, Detroit Lions president Tom Lewand wrote “[T]his occurrence was unique in that it could have affected the integrity of the game and more importantly could have jeopardized player safety.”

The Lions’ statement did not name the individual. Detroit city attorney Melvin Hollowell identified the person as a 17-year-old from the Detroit-area township of West Bloomfield, Michigan.

ESPN reported that the person was “Mark Beslach”, ABC News reported he was “Marko Beslach, a recent high-school graduate.”

Marko Beslach ABC News laser pointer Lions Bills Orton
The person identified as Marko Beslach by ABC News on its program “World News Tonight”


In a statement to the press, Lewand was asked if the season-ticket holder was the youth’s father. Lewand declined to give specifics but did say there was a close relationship between the laser perpetrator and the ticket holder.

A person with the account “Marko Beslach” tweeted before and after the game on October 5, about having a laser pointer and having used it on Buffalo Bills quarterback Kyle Orton. The tweet was later deleted, but not before a screenshot was recorded.

Lewand said the tweets were part of how they found the perpetrator: “I certainly don’t think he did himself any favors by talking about it.”

The Lions said that stadium security and operations staffs worked with team security, NFL security, and Detroit Police to find and penalize the perpetrator.

The ban will be implemented, according to Lewand, using technologies such as paperless ticketing, camera monitoring systems and identification processes. If the ban was violated, the person would be prosecuted for trespassing.

Lewand also noted that ticket holders who sell their tickets are responsible for the behavior of the buyers. The sellers could lose their rights to tickets if the buyer causes problems.

Laser pointers are banned from all 32 NFL stadiums.

From the Detroit Lions press release, ESPN, ABC News, WSJM.com and FOX Sports. For details about the original incident, and the initial reports about the Marko Beslach tweets, see this LaserPointerSafety.com story.

UPDATED - October 10 2014: News source MLive.com reported that the father of the laser-wielding youth has asked for police protection due to harassment from Buffalo Bills fans. Details are in this LaserPointerSafety.com story.

UPDATED - June 29 2015: Marko Beslach in November 2014 pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. He was fined $235, had to do 80 hours of community service, and was given a one-year suspended sentence. He will have his case reviewed November 23 2015. From the Detroit Free Press.

US: UPDATED - Laser aimed at NFL team quarterback, holder

Someone in the stands of an American football game aimed a laser pointer at players on October 5 2014.

The game was between the Buffalo Bills (visitors) and the Detroit Lions (home team). The laser pointer was aimed at Bills holder Colton Schmidt just before an unsuccessful 50-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter. Kicker Dan Carpenter was upset after the kick, talking to a referee until officials told him to return to the sideline. WIVB TV reported that the referee could be seen mouthing the words “No, I didn’t see it” to Carpenter.

In a post-game press conference, Bills coach Doug Marrone said the issue was resolved before the end of the game. He characterized the laser incident as less of a distraction and more of a motivator for Carpenter, who won the game with a successful 58-yard field goal with four seconds left to play.
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US: UPDATED - Utah man with laser pointer taped to fake gun is shot by police

A 32-year-old Utah man who brandished a homemade fake gun with a fake laser pointer “sight”, was shot July 10 2014 by a police officer. The man, Timothy James Peterson, survived and was charged with second-degree felony assault against a police officer, and misdemeanor counts of unlawful possession of a dangerous weapon and failure to stop at the command of law enforcement.

On July 7, Peterson made a Facebook post where he threatened to kill police, and referenced being shot by police. Three days later, West Jordan police officer Ian Adams was patrolling a shopping center and saw Peterson, who ran. During the chase, Peterson turned and drew an object that looked like a handgun. Adams shot Peterson twice, once in the legs and once in the buttocks.

The object was found to be a piece of bent metal with a taped-on laser pointer.
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World: UPDATED - Laser pointer may have affected World Cup goal; Algerian team fined USD $56,170

A Russian goalie, playing in a June 26 2014 World Cup match, had a laser pointer aimed on his face just before Algeria scored a game-tying goal that eliminated Russia from the competition.

Russian team manager Fabio Capello blamed the defeat on biased officiating and on the laser incident: “Our goalkeeper was affected by a laser 10 seconds before the goal. He was blinded by a laser, there are photos, films of it.... You can see that in the footage. This not an excuse, it is a fact. There was a laser. I have never come up with excuses to get by in my entire life.”

Russia Algeria laser pointer World Cup 01

Russia Algeria laser pointer World Cup 02
Two views of the laser on Russian goalie Igor Akinfeev.


In the 60th minute, after play had stopped for a free kick, a laser beam was repeatedly flashed in goalie Igor Akinfeev’s face. He stood up, and yelled and motioned at the referees to get them to try to stop the laser, as shown in the GIF animation below.

Russia Algeria laser pointer World Cup anim

Then, as play resumed, Akinfeev was again hit near his eye. He appeared to misjudge the ball’s flight, leaving the goal exposed:

Russia Algeria laser pointer World Cup anim 02


According to The Verge, “It’s difficult to tell quite how much Akinfeev was affected by the beam — the Russian doesn't blink or wince as it rakes across his face.”

The game took place at the Arena de Baixada, in Curitiba, Brazil. The final 1-1 score was not unexpected. For example, a preview published prior to the game by SportsKeeda foretold the 1-1 outcome: “Given that Algeria only need a draw to go through, they might not go out and attack in the second half, if the game is in the balance. Russia on the other hand, need to, but their misfiring attack is unlikely to score too many past Algeria. So expect a draw with Algeria going through and Russia going home. Predicted Scoreline: Algeria 1 – 1 Russia.”

FIFA, the world football governing body, in its publication Stadium Safety and Security Regulations recommends a ban on “Any item that could distract the players and/or officials, including laser pointers...” It is not known if the Arena de Baixada had such a ban in place or was actively searching all entrants for laser pointers.

From Fansided.com, Yahoo Sports, the Daily Mail, The Verge, SportsKeeda, and Larry Brown Sports.

UPDATED June 30 2014: The Algerian Football Union was fined 50,000 swiss francs (about USD $56,170) by FIFA, which has the power to fine clubs for their fans’ behavior. From the Voice of Russia.

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.

US: UPDATED - Teen arrested for lasing at Cardinals baseball game

A 17-year-old fan wielding a laser pointer at a major league baseball game was identified by a manager, and was arrested on a charge of “peace disturbance at an athletic event,” a misdemeanor. The Cardinals-Giants game took place August 6 2012 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri.

Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny saw a green dot on the pitcher’s mound in the bottom of the seventh inning. He saw the teen in a luxury suite near the first base line and mouthed “I see you” to him. The boy then aimed the laser over Matheny’s head. Security followed the teen and two of his friends as they tried to ditch the laser pointer in a trash can; it was later recovered. The boy was apprehended and spent a few hours in jail. The Cardinals will also take action against the owners of the suite where the teens sat.

Police said they would seek criminal charges against the unidentified teen.

Giants’ pitcher Shane Loux said he did not see the laser light, although a teammate said he saw green light on Loux’s face.

The Cardinals’ director of security said lasing a player can be dangerous because of the possibility of blinding and because “when you go into what's been going on in the country right now, it's totally irresponsible to pretend you've got laser sights on somebody."

From KMOV, Examiner.com, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

UPDATE August 8 2012: The teen was identified as Eric Bogard, a high-school student in Ladue, “the wealthiest inner-ring suburb of St. Louis” according to the city’s Wikipedia entry. Bogard’s lawyer said the laser was never directly pointed at anyone and that Bogard was part of “kids in the box acting foolish. Acting like kids.” The lawyer said Bogard “regrets his actions.”

Bogard was originally charged with disturbing the peace at an athletic event. This carries a fine of $25 to $500 and up to 30 days in jail. On August 8, he was also charged with violating the harassment section of a 1999 ordinance regulating laser use and possession. The section states “It shall be unlawful for any person to focus, point or shine laser beam directly or indirectly on another person or animal in such a manner as to harass, annoy or injure such person or animal.” This carries a fine of $50 to $500 and up to 90 days in jail. From Fox2Now, KSDK and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Eric Bogard laser
Eric Bogard, via Fox2Now


UPDATE 2, August 17 2012: The stadium suite was used by a Mercy Health System executive. She resigned her position after publicity about the incident, during which she was confrontational with stadium authorities. With regard to the teen, Eric Bogard, police say there is “no additional movement” in the case. From the Creve Coeur Patch.

US: UPDATED - Calif. woman arrested for pointing laser at fire engine

A woman was arrested for pointing a laser at a fire truck that was responding to a call, and then again as they returned to the fire house on June 30 2012. Irene Marie Levy, 31, of San Jacinto, California was charged with pointing a laser at a moving vehicle. She was also charged with violating her probation on a previous conviction of making fake bomb threats and interfering with emergency radio dispatches in 2010. Bail in the laser incident was set at $25,000.

There was no reason given for Levy’s use of the laser pointer against the driver of the fire truck.

Irene Levy laser
Irene Marie Levy


From KABC and the Press-Enterprise

UPDATE, NOVEMBER 2012: Levy was arrested on November 2 2012 for aiming a laser at a police cruiser, then at the sheriff’s department helicopter sent to investigate. More on this story is here.

France: UPDATED - Kanye West calls out concertgoer for hitting him with a laser

Kanye West interrupted a June 2 2012 concert in Paris to berate an audience member who shined a green laser at the singer.

In a fan video posted to YouTube, West began a song that used theatrical lasers (e.g., part of his show). A few seconds into the song, West abruptly stopped and pointed into the audience. He angrily said “You see this guy right here with the green laser? Don't f**k with everybody's show. This is not a fucking game.” The laser was apparently aimed at West again, who said “You're going to get f**ked up and kicked out, I don't want that sh*t. So chill the f**k out.” During the incident, the crowd booed the concert-disrupting laser.

From ABC News, Huffington Post, and other sources. Another YouTube video taken by a fan is here.

UPDATE June 12 2012: Kanye West similarly berated an audience member who threw a coin on stage during a June 9 concert in Dublin. West stopped in the middle of a song and said “Start again… I ain't trying to make excuses but y'all threw a f*cking coin up here and threw me all the way off. Don't throw that hard sh*t up here while I'm performing. Seriously. You f*cked it up for everybody, I was having a perfect show. Flawless victory. Don't throw no sh*t on the stage." From Ology.com.

US: UPDATED - San Diego harbor officers injured by laser

Two San Diego Harbor Police officers were injured by a green laser beam, while on routine patrol in Point Loma, at about 8:30 pm May 4 2012.

Officers Jennifer McMaster and Robert Twardy were patrolling near the Shelter Island Fishing Pier when both illuminated directly in their right eye. Twardy said “I noticed that I had a bright spot, like a residual flash that you kind of get when a camera flashes in your eye.” He suffered a “burning sensation”. Both officers were taken to UC San Diego Medical Center.

Twardy said that McMaster had a more direct hit, was in pain, and complained of blindness. She had possible burns to her retinas, and took time off to recover, according to the Los Angeles Times. She will make a full recovery, according to an NBC San Diego story. [See Update 1, at the bottom of this story after clicking the “Read More” link, for more medical information.]
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Canada: UPDATED - Laser beams aimed at police during St. Patrick's Day riot

During a riot in London, Ontario, fire crews and police were attacked with thrown objects, as well as police having laser beams aimed at their eyes.

The 5-hour confrontation began the evening of March 17 2012. St. Patrick’s Day parties “spilled into the street” in an area near Fanshawe College. The crowd grew to about 1,000 people. A brush fire was started, and a CTV news truck was set on fire. To slow fire crews, some persons threw beer bottles, bricks, wooden planks, tires, rim and other debris. In addition, said London’s police chief, “members of the crowd used laser pointers aimed at our officers’ eyes to try to disrupt our response.” A spectator said that the crowd, made up primarily of students, “wanted to egg on the police.”

Pic 2012-03-20 at 10.18.01 AM
A person aims a laser during the London, Ontario riot. From a photo gallery at
The Star.

Pic 2012-03-20 at 10.12.57 AM
From the
Toronto Sun. This is possibly the same laser beam; note glow from fire to the left, behind the officers.

The full extent of the laser misuse is not known. While the police chief indicated there were multiple lasers involved, the National Post said “One rioter attempted to blind the officers with a high-powered green laser.” Media reviewed by LaserPointerSafety.com found a single laser being used in each photo or video. Although some bystanders and police suffered minor injuries from thrown objects during the rioting, there were no reports of laser-caused eye effects or injuries. Eleven persons were arrested at the scene; charges included assaulting police. It is not known if any laser assault charges were brought.



In the video above, green laser light can be seen on a student, beginning at about 1:48. At 1:52, a single beam is shown being waved around at approximate head level. From 1:59 to 2:05, the beam is rapidly scanned towards stationary police officers who are monitoring the crowd. The beam in the video appears to come from the same person or area as shown in the photos above.

Similar riots occurred in the same area of Fleming Drive in 2007 and 2009, blamed on a high concentration of alcohol-fueled Fanshawe students. The 2012 riot is expected to cost London $100,000 in manpower and repair costs.

From CBC News, Globe and Mail, Toronto Sun, The Star, and the National Post. Thanks to Mathieu Gauthier for helping bring this to our attention.

UPDATED, April 20 2012: Thirty-eight people are facing a total of 85 charges in the incident, thus far. Brian Nuccitelli, 18, faces three charges including two relating to misuse of a laser pointer: “possessing a weapon dangerous to public peace” and “assaulting a police officer with a weapon”. Police said the pointer was aimed at officers’ faces. They said “one officer was injured and continues to receive medical attention as the result of the laser being directed at his eyes.” In addition to Nuccitelli, police are also looking for another person who aimed a laser at officers. From lfpress.com

US: UPDATED - Man showing laser sight to wife shoots, kills her

A man was demonstrating the laser sight on his AK-47 assault rifle to his wife when the gun fired, killing her. The death, apparently accidental, occurred on February 21 2012.

The Flagler County (FL) Sheriff’s Office said that William Merrill, 32, and his wife Stefanie were at their Palm Coast, Florida home in their master bathroom while their 3-year-old daughter was taking a bath. Merrill pointed the AK-47 at his wife to show her the laser’s beam. The two were talking about how bright the beam was when the gun fired once. Stefanie died at the scene.

Pic 2012-02-23 at 10.46.01 PM
William Merrill


On February 23, Merrill was arrested for manslaughter and for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He had been convicted in 2007 on grand theft and other charges.

From the Orlando Sentinel

UPDATED October 30 2012 - William Merrill was sentenced to 25 years in prison. The minimum he could have received was 10 years, and the maximum was 30 years.

The “possession of a firearm by a convicted felon” charge was dropped when Merrill pleaded guilty to the manslaughter charge. (He could have received up to 45 years if given the maximum under both charges.)

During trial the prosecutor said “I don’t believe, and it’s not our position that Mr. Merrill intentionally killed his wife that morning.” But, he said, Merrill’s actions were egregiously reckless and disregarded safety.

When pronouncing sentence, the judge noted that Merrill had a stash of over 20 firearms and he violated the most basic of firearm rules. The judge concluded that it did not matter if it was an accident, Merrill was guilty of killing his wife.

From FlaglerLive.com

UK: UPDATED - Train stops, driver goes to hospital, after laser pen attack

A train was forced to stop, and the driver was hospitalized, after a green laser pen was shone into his eyes. The February 9 2012 incident happened at 9:30 pm in the White City area, on the 8:41 pm First Great Western train from Bristol Temple Meads to Worcester Shrub Hill. The train stopped at Gloucester, where the driver was treated by paramedics and was taken to hospital. Passengers transferred to another train.

A police spokesman said the laser light “not
only distracted the driver and potentially damaged his eye, but it also could have had serious safety consequences for the passengers. The driver's attention was averted from his job of safely controlling the train…. He is currently awaiting the results of medical assessments on his eye and is in some degree of pain. We are hopeful he'll make a full recovery but, at this stage, he is in some discomfort."

Police are asking for assistance in finding two youths seen on a footbridge off Southfield Road in White City.

From this is Gloucestershire and BBC News Gloucestershire

UPDATE February 14 2012: The train driver “is recovering and should return to work next week”, according to a spokesperson for First Great Western quoted by BBC News Gloucestershire. The story also said that there had been six laser-train incidents on the FGW network from January 2011 through February 14 2012, and that the February 9 incident had the most serious impact on the driver.

World: Hobbyist injures self with 1 watt blue laser

A laser hobbyist was injured by a 1 watt 445 nanometer (blue) laser on December 6 2011. The injury required unspecified surgery, possibly removal of intraocular blood via needle. Two days after the surgery, the hobbyist reported a blurry dark circle in his central vision. His doctor told him he would always have a small off-center blind spot, and that his brain would “auto-correct” to fill in the spot.

(UPDATE March 14 2012: The hobbyist reported “I still have the blind spot, and was effectively told by the ophthalmologist that it would probably be there the rest of my life. That doesn't bother me TOO much, since it isn't very inhibiting.”)
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US: UPDATED - 5th grader suspended for shining laser pointer in class

A 10-year-old elementary school student was suspended for three days, for shining a laser pointer on a classroom white board. Two days were spent out of school, and one day in the principal’s office. In addition, she was required to take a violence-deterrence class.

Laser pointers are forbidden in schools under California Penal Code section 417.27(b): “No student shall possess a laser pointer on any elementary or secondary school premises unless possession of a laser pointer on the elementary or secondary school premises is for a valid instructional or other school-related purpose, including employment.”
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