Cops: Man Pointed Lasers at Planes at Florida Airport

Police charge man over incidents at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2020 7:06 AM CST

(Newser) – Police say a man at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport pointed a laser at planes trying to land—and in one case, the pilot of a small aircraft reports being temporarily blinded. When a helicopter from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office zeroed in on the man, he pointed the laser at that aircraft too, says the sheriff's office. (See video here.) Authorities later arrested 41-year-old Charlie James Chapman. The scariest moment involved a Cessna Skyhawk, whose pilot was practicing takeoffs and landings with another person aboard, reports the Herald-Tribune.

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The pilot says the laser beam temporarily blinded him, though he managed to land safely. He told authorities that his vision remained blurry even after landing. A United Airbus 320 also was struck by the man's laser. That jet has the capacity to carry 150 people, though it was unclear how many were aboard when the incident occurred Wednesday night. Chapman, who police say also threw rocks at their helicopter, is charged with pointing a laser at a pilot with injury, pointing a laser at a pilot without injury, and resisting arrest. Police haven't speculated about a motive. They say they found a laser pointer in his pocket during the arrest, per NBC News. (Read more lasers stories.)

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