A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use
Police were able to find the runner. At the time, he had thought that kids were playing around with a laser pointer. A detective said "He remembers the incident. He thought it was just some kids playing around with a laser pointer. So when I told him — and I actually showed him the video — he was shocked. He could not believe it.”
Police saw other social media with the same gun. They determined the owner was 19-year-old Traviance Polite Jr. They began surveillance to try and catch him with the gun.
They were not able to do so before an armed assault on April 6 2021. In a possible road rage incident, Polite fired twice from his car, over his pregnant girlfriend in the passenger seat, through the passenger window and into a neighboring car. The driver of that car was badly hurt and went to a hospital.
Traviance Polite Jr.
Polite was arrested the next day and provided police with a full confession to both crimes.
He charged with attempted second-degree murder, shooting from a vehicle, reckless display of a gun, carrying a concealed gun, and possession of a gun by a known delinquent.
Robert Harris, 76, was charged with one count of felony criminal mischief. According to police, the damage cost was $2,091 to a total of six cameras on the three buildings.
On February 2 2021 Harris began providing tours of Scientology's locations in Clearwater, which is the location for the spiritual headquarters of the church and for the largest single Church of Scientology. During the tour Harris would point out the various surveillance cameras on the Scientology buildings.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, after his arrest Harris said "he usually carries a laser in his pocket to point at things, especially the night sky. But he said he never intended to damage Scientology’s buildings and now wishes there were an easier way to resolve his felony charge. 'I’d be happy to pay for the damages and write a letter of apology.' "
From the Tampa Bay Times. More information on laser pointers' potential for damaging cameras is here.
Coast Guard seeks information after rescue crews lasered near Riviera Beach
MIAMI — Coast Guard Investigative Service agents are seeking information pertaining to a person or persons pointing a laser light on three separate occasions at Coast Guard rescue crews while underway near Singer Island.
Following the passing of the National Defense Authorization Act, it is a federal offense to point lasers at Coast Guard vessels and cause bodily injury to an officer. Offenders of this federal offense can receive up to $25,000 in civil penalty fines. Criminal penalties can face up to 25 years imprisonment.
It is a federal offense to direct laser pointers at aircraft under 18 U.S.C 39A and offenders can face up to five years imprisonment.
“Pointing a laser at any Coast Guard vessel or aircraft is extremely dangerous and a federal crime,” said Special Agent-in-Charge Zinna James, CGIS Southeast region. “We encourage anyone with information about these incidents to report then to the CGIS tips app.”
Anyone with information is encouraged to contact CGIS at https://www.p3tips.com/tipform.aspx?ID=878#
Both men lived in a Fort Myers (Florida) apartment complex, in units identically numbered "102". Ryan Modell, 32, had been heavily drinking on March 19 to celebrate a new job. At about 2:30 am on March 20, Modell — wearing only shorts— knocked on the door of 46-year-old Steve Taylor, in a different unit 102.
Taylor got his 10 mm Glock handgun and answered the door. He told Modell he had the wrong unit, but to Taylor, the intoxicated Modell didn't respond and appeared drugged. Taylor said he pointed the gun at Modell, warning him not to approach, but Modell charged.
Taylor closed the door, injuring Modell's toe. Taylor's wife called police. Taylor went outside and found Modell hosing off his bloody toe. Taylor aimed the gun at Modell and turned on the laser pointer aiming device. That is when Modell sprayed water, made threats and charged.
Mark O'Mara, a lawyer for Modell's father, said Modell had an understandable reaction for a person who thought he was about to be shot. He said "If you put a laser on my chest, there is one of two things I am going to do: duck and run, or kill you."
Taylor says he fired when Modell was within two feet; O'Mara says evidence indicates it was several feet back.
The 2016 case became controversial due to Florida's "stand your ground" law being used. In January 2020, O'Mara asked Florida's governor to appoint a special prosecutor to reinvestigate the shooting, and wants Taylor charged with second-degree murder.
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
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.”
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
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
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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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.
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.
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.
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