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US: San Antonio man arrested for aiming laser at helicopter; pilot sees spots
Justin Shorey, 37, was arrested and charged with a Class A misdemeanor.
According to Fox News, in San Antonio there were 48 reports of lasers pointed at aircraft in 2016, 62 reports in 2017, and 74 reports from January through November 2018.
From Fox San Antonio. Thanks to Peter Smith and Leon McLin for bringing this to our attention.
UPDATE NOVEMBER 9 2020: Justin Shorey was sentenced to 51 months — over four years — in federal prison. After his term is complete, he will be placed on supervised release for an additional three years. From MySA.com. Details on his arrest, charges and sentencing are in the press release below from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Texas.
Schertz Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Pointing Laser at San Antonio Police Helicopter
In San Antonio today, a federal judge sentenced 39-year-old Justin John Shorey of Schertz, TX, to 51 months in federal prison after he pleaded guilty to aiming a laser pointer at a San Antonio Police Department helicopter, announced U.S. Attorney Gregg N. Sofer, FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs, San Antonio Division, and San Antonio Police Chief William McManus.
In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge David A. Ezra ordered that Shorey be placed on supervised release for a period of three years after completing his prison term.
On November 20, 2019, Shorey pleaded guilty to aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft. According to the factual basis filed in this case, on February 17, 2019, Shorey knowingly aimed the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft in flight. The San Antonio Police Department helicopter was flying just north of Highway 90 West, assisting in the search of a shooting suspect. When the laser beam made contact with the helicopter, it hit the pilot in the eyes affecting his ability to see and read his gauges.
At the time, the helicopter was flying in the path of the San Antonio International Airport, and Shorey’s actions endangered both civilian flights and the public on the ground. The pilot and his tactical officer onboard began a search for the laser suspect. Shorey admitted to aiming the laser at the aircraft once as it approached his location in the 2100 block of Hays Street in San Antonio and twice as it circled above him.
The pilot managed to land safely at the San Antonio International Airport. The injury to the pilot’s eyes caused by the defendant’s actions resulted in the pilot being unable to fly for a week.
“When aimed at an aircraft, the powerful beam of light from a hand-held laser can travel more than a mile and illuminate a cockpit, disorienting and temporarily blinding pilots. Lasing an aircraft represents a significant public safety threat, which endangers pilots, aircrew, passengers, and individuals on the ground, should an aircraft crash or require an emergency landing,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Combs. “This case should serve as a warning to others who engage in this dangerous criminal activity.”
“Actions such as lasering law enforcement helicopters are dangerous for the pilots assisting officers on the ground. I was glad to hear that the Department of Justice does not tolerate this behavior and held Mr. Shorey accountable for his actions,” stated San Antonio Police Chief McManus.
If you have information about a lasing incident, contact the San Antonio FBI at 210-225-6741. If you see someone pointing a laser at an aircraft, call the nearest local law enforcement agency immediately by dialing 911. Tips can also be submitted online at https://tips.fbi.gov.
The FBI and San Antonio Police Department conducted this investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark Roomberg and William R. Harris prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.