Suspect taken into custody following aircraft laser strikes in Phoenix

Nov 14, 2016, 4:04 PM
(Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo)
(Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo)

PHOENIX — Police have arrested a Phoenix man after he allegedly shined a large laser pointer in the direction of aircrafts at two local airports.

Officers from the Phoenix Police Air Support Unit began an investigation after several laser strikes on aircrafts were reported at Sky Harbor International and Deer Valley Regional airports.

Through a joint operation with Glendale police, officers witnessed the suspect point a laser at a helicopter flying nearby. The suspect, 57-year-old Lam Tran, was arrested by officers at his home on Saturday, during which he allegedly admitted his involvement in the crime.

“He stated that he was upset with aircraft noise in the area of his neighborhood and thought that that might be a way to, for lack of a better way to put it, protest that,” Phoenix Lt. Paul Taylor said. “Obviously we find that to be incredibly inappropriate and it’s a felony.”

Tran was charged with one count of felony endangerment.

When pointed at an aircraft, lasers can illuminate the entire flight deck, effectively blinding the pilot and crew. Interfering with the safe operation of an aircraft can have deadly consequences for both those in the plane and on the ground, according to Taylor.

Anyone who witnesses laser strikes in the direction of an aircraft is encouraged to contact local authorities.

KTAR’s Jeremy Foster contributed to this report.

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Suspect taken into custody following aircraft laser strikes in Phoenix