A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use

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 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

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

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).

Click to read more...

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.

Click to read more...

US: Florida man points laser at motorists, arrested, found with marijuana up his rear

A 27-year-old man was arrested on April 5 2015 for aiming a laser beam at motorists as he was driven by his girlfriend around Ormond Beach, Florida. When asked why she was being pulled over, driver Brandie Tate, 28, said “Because Jesse was shining the laser light at people and I told him not to.” Passenger Jesse Roepcke told police he did not know it was illegal to shine the light at people and “he was just having fun.”

Police found a smoking device on Roepke that later tested positive for cannabis. During a strip search of Roepcke at the jail, “a bag of a green leafy substance that smelled like marijuana fell out of his rectum.”

Jesse Roepcke laser marijuana
Jesse Roepcke


Roepke was charged with pointing a laser at a driver or pilot, possession or use of narcotic paraphernalia, possession of marijuana, and smuggling contraband into a prison.

From ClickOrlando.com and WFTV.com

US: Florida man buys laser pointer; arrested hours later for aiming at motorists, officer

A Florida man was arrested for aiming a green laser pointer at motorists -- and eventually at a Daytona Beach Shores officer -- at about 12:30 am on June 16 2014. When told he had committed a felony, the man apologized to the officer, who accepted the apology. Nonetheless, Walter Nevarez, 22, of Lakeland, was charged with pointing a laser light at a driver or pilot.

Pic 2014-08-18 at 4.21.48 PM
Walter Nevarez


Nevarez had purchased the laser earlier in the evening. Riding as a passenger in his girlfriend’s car, he began aiming the laser at oncoming cars, including the officer’s car.

After later told a reporter for the Daytona Beach News-Journal that he did not know it was illegal to misuse a laser pointer. He said he had been pointing it at a treeline and did not intend it to shine it at anyone’s eyes.

A defense attorney quoted by the newspaper said “If you are going to criminalize the conduct or behavior, then the government needs to explain and make the public aware why their action poses a potential danger.”

From the Daytona Beach News-Journal

US: Man arrested for aiming laser at drivers

A 21-year-old was arrested February 26 2014 for aiming a green laser into cars the night before. The incidents occurred in Newton, Massachusetts.

The unnamed man was charged with disorderly conduct and with assault and battery. Although there were also two reports of a green laser being aimed from the Newton area at aircraft, the man was not charged or associated directly with those incidents.

A hearing is scheduled for March 25 in Newton District Court.

From the Boston Globe

US: Maine man aims fake gun with laser pointer at cars; is arrested

A 22-year-old Maine man was arrested January 11 2014 for aiming a replica gun, which emits a laser beam from the barrel, at passing motorists including a police officer.

Replica gun laser pointer
The replica gun, emitting a red laser beam, used to harass motorists.


The officer was on patrol in Kittery, a seaside town at the southern tip of Maine, when he saw a red laser beam in his cruiser. He then saw the beam on other vehicles as well.

The officer pulled up behind the car of Seth Christman, and arrested him. Christman was charged with criminal use of a laser pointer under Maine Title 17-A Sec. 1002-A. The Class D misdemeanor prohibits intentionally pointing a laser beam at a police officer or a “reasonable person” for the purpose of intimidating and attempting to harm.

Christman’s next hearing in York District Court is set for March 5 2014.

From SeacoastOnline

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: 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

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

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

US: Again, laser hits San Diego harbor officer who goes to hospital

For the second time in a month, a green laser pointer was aimed at a San Diego Harbor Police boat, sending an officer to the hospital. On May 23 2012, a young adult partying on the beach pointed a laser pointer at the boat, which was about 1/2 mile offshore. An officer was hit by a “powerful” beam. Ground units scaled down cliffs to apprehend the man. He said he did not realize the hazard and did not know he had done an illegal act. The man was issued a citation for intentionally lasing the boat.

A Harbor Police spokesperson told LaserPointerSafety.com “neither officer was injured in the latest incident” and “the laser used in this incident was much less powerful than the one used” in the May 4 2012 lasing, when two San Diego Harbor Police officers were taken to UC San Diego Medical Center after their boat was lased. One officer was said to have had a temporary injury in one eye.

2012-05 San Diego incident locations
Approximate locations of the lasers (green triangles) and Harbor Police boats (red squares).


From 10news.com

US: 21-year-old arrested for aiming a laser at an officer

A 21-year-old was arrested February 6 2012 for aiming a laser pointer at a police officer and a marked squad car in Canton, Ohio. Jeremy L. Wiser also had an outstanding warrant for failure to appear in court on a drug paraphernalia charge. He was also arrested for the outstanding warrant.

Bond was set at $240. He will appear in court on March 1.

From the Canton Daily Ledger

US: Maine man sentenced to 10 days for pointing laser gunsight at police

A 28-year-old man received a 10-day jail sentence on February 8 2012, for aiming a laser gunsight at a police officer. Moses Rollins pleaded guilty to reckless conduct and criminal use of a laser. The reckless conduct charge was deferred; if he complies with a one-year agreement, he will not be convicted. Rollins’ 10-day jail sentence for criminal use of a laser begins March 9.

On May 10 2011, police were called to a barn in New Sharon. They found two intoxicated men were firing shots for about an hour. One man came out and was arrested. The gunshots continued. At one point, a laser pointer was aimed at police and at a cruiser. After Rollins exited the barn and was arrested, police found a 30-30 rifle with an attached laser scope.

From the Sun Journal

US: Minor laser pointer incident in Concord NH Dunkin' Donuts

A 20-year-old Concord (NH) man was arrested January 6 2012 on a bench warrant and for “conduct involving laser pointers”. Stephen C. Hall was arrested at a Dunkin’ Donuts.

From Patch.com

Note from LaserPointerSafety.com: We monitor news reports of laser misuse. One reason for this is to try to get an idea of the relative rate of events such as harassment of the public and of sports figures, aiming at automobiles, aiming at airplanes, etc. We see relatively few reports such as the one above, but have listed it as part of this coverage.
.

US: Motorist pulls over after laser attack

27-year-old Ryan S. McManus was charged with reckless endangerment, after repeatedly pointing a green laser at another driver, who at one point “swerved out of his lane and had to pull to the side of the road to avoid crashing.” The harassed driver followed McManus and called 911.

The incident took place in the small town of Greece, New York, in Monroe County. McManus will appear in Greece Town Court on May 25.

From the
Fairport - East Rochester Post and WHEC.com

US: $5,000 and 30 months probation for aiming at barges, planes, copter

44-year-old Todd Manz pleaded guilty on May 20 2011 to lying to FBI agents about a drunken night of aiming 50 milliwatt handheld lasers at river barges, airplanes and a police helicopter. He was fined $5,000 and received 30 months probation. He could have received up to 2 1/2 years in prison.

Manz and two others, David Erminger, 28, and Matthew Mauck, 34, were arrested July 20 2010 in downtown Memphis, Tennessee. From news reports, it appears the most serious incident involved river barges. U.S. District Court Judge Jon McCalla told Manz “You’re pointing a laser at a tugboat with 40 barges and chemicals on it and you could sink the tow. You could kill people, take out the bridge... [The tugboat captains] thought they were being targeted by someone with a high-powered rifle.”

Erminger and Mauck have not yet been sentenced on charges of crimes of violence against maritime navigation and sabotage of aircraft. Government prosecutors will be recommending diversion, a more mild form of probation.

From the Memphis Commercial Appeal

UPDATE: On June 22 2011, Erminger and Mauck were placed on one-year diversion. The criminal charges against them will be erased as long as they stay out of trouble (no new charges) during the next year. From the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Australia: Man charged with selling, possessing laser pointers

A 29-year-old resident of Broken Hill, New South Wales, was arrested April 7 2011 after police found three laser pointers in a desk drawer in his home. He was charged with three counts of possession of a prohibited weapon, one count of advertising a prohibited weapon without stating that a permit was required, and one count of selling a prohibited weapon to an unauthorized buyer.

Police said that last December the man advertised a laser pointer for sale online, and sold it to a Sydney buyer in January. Inquiries then led to the April 7 arrest.

From the
Cowra Community News

US: 3 years in prison for injuring deputy

An Oregon man, Anton Strom, 24, was sentenced to three years in prison for causing permanent retinal scarring of a sheriff’s deputy’s left eye on July 17 2010. Strom aimed a “powerful, industrial grade” green laser pointer 423 feet across a parking lot at Deputy Glenn Howard, who now has a stronger corrective lens prescription in his left eye, and “his doctor said his vision may deteriorate further.”

Strom was charged with two counts of second-degree assault and one count of unlawful use of a weapon. He pled guilty to one second-degree assault count, as part of a plea bargain reducing his sentence from the minimum six years, to three years.

Howard testified that during the incident he feared for his life since lasers are often used on weapons. He “pulled his duty weapon and prepared to return fire.”

From OregonLive.com. Thanks to Daniel Hewett of the FDA for bringing this to our attention.

New Zealand: Youths suspected of lasering cars die trying to escape police

New Zealand police, responding to a report of a person shining a red laser beam onto motorists, saw a vehicle speed off. The police gave chase with lights and siren. Although the police ended the chase quickly, the car continued speeding, crashed into a power pole, and flipped over to land on its roof. Two 20-year-olds died in the crash, two other passengers were hospitalized, and the 20-year-old driver fled the scene on foot.

The incident took place in the Auckland suburb of Onehunga late on Friday September 17.

From the
New Zealand police report and the New Zealand Herald

UK: Youths sentenced for train attack

20-year-old Philip Pearse was sentenced to six months in a young offenders' institute, and an unnamed 16-year-old was made to serve 140 hours of community punishment, after shining red lasers at trains as they pulled into Newport station in South Wales. They were convicted on two charges of endangering the safety of railway passengers.

Drivers Michael Jonah and Timothy Reiffer suffered temporary blindness, but managed to bring their trains safely to a halt.

Cardiff Crown Court was told that the safety of hundreds of commuters was jeopardised and the cost of the disruption was put at £13,000.Click to read more...

US: Florida man aims laser at deputies, is shot dead

A Pinellas County Sheriff's deputy shot and killed a man who had been pointing a laser at a group of deputies early this morning [Feb. 4 2005], WTSP-10 News reports. Thomas Setzer, 24, was said to have aimed the laser from the second floor of an apartment building. The shooting occurred as the deputies went to the apartment to investigate.

Concerned they were being targeted by a laser-sighted weapon, a deputy trained a spotlight on a second-floor window at the adjacent Boardwalk Apartments, and the laser stopped. Then the beam appeared again, this time focusing on the deputies' bodies and tracking them as they walked.

Deputies drove to the apartments to investigate. Within minutes, the man they say pointed the laser was dead.
Click to read more...