Charges laid after laser pointed at police helicopter
Published Tuesday, August 18, 2015 12:20PM EDT
A 19-year-old has been charged after a laser was pointed at a police helicopter as it flew over the City of Vaughan.
York Regional Police said the Air2 chopper was flying over the area of Highway 7 and Pine Valley Drive on Sunday, at approximately 1:30 a.m., at the time of the incident. The crew was assisting officers on the ground, who were responding to a call for a weapon in the area.
While searching for a suspect, the pilot and a tactical flight officer noticed a bright light shining in their direction. The light continued to shine on the crew, so the tactical officer used the camera system to find the source of the light.
The camera revealed three men standing next to a vehicle at the end of Jenna Court. One of the men was seen aiming at the helicopter with what appeared to be a gun with a laser pointer.
The crew called officers on the ground, who rushed to the location the suspects had been seen. Police said the man fled on foot, hopping a fence, throwing the object he'd been holding and attempting to hide in a wooded area. He was soon located by the canine unit and the officers in the air.
Police said the suspect was found with a pellet gun with a laser scope mounted on it.
Video of the incident captured by the Air2 chopper camera was posted online, and shows the suspect's attempt to escape. Officers can be seen following him into the wooded area. Later, an officer is seen picking up the pellet gun.
In a statement on Tuesday, police said that a 19-year-old had been charged with mischief endangering life, unlawfully engaging in behaviour that endangers an aircraft and projecting bright light into a navigable airspace.
In a statement released Tuesday, police reminded the public of the potential harm laser pointers can cause.
"Health Canada advises that a split-second look into a laser pointer can result in a condition called flash blindness," the statement said.
"Those who aim these pointers at aircraft are putting lives in danger, not only in the aircraft but on the ground. There is a serious potential harm to the pilot and the prospect of a crash."
Anyone with more information is asked to contact police at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 7441, or call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).
A still image from video shows three suspects in a laser pointing investigation in Vaughan, recorded Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015. (YouTube / York Regional Police)