ARIZONA NEWS

Arizona man arrested on 2 counts of aiming laser pointer at aircrafts used by sheriff’s department

Mar 20, 2024, 4:35 AM | Updated: 3:12 pm

Laser pointers aren't for airplanes, Tucson man learns...

Using a laser pointer on an airplane can temporarily blind the pilot, putting countless lives at risk. (File photo by Miguel Candela/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

(File photo by Miguel Candela/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

PHOENIX — A Tucson man was arrested after using a laser pointer on an aircraft in two separate incidences, officials announced on Tuesday.

Charles William Preston II, 53, targeted an aircraft used by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona.

Authorities arrested Preston on March 6. The arrest came after a grand jury returned a two-count indictment against him on Nov. 1, 2023, prosecutors said.

Tucson man accused of using laser pointers on aircrafts

Preston hasn’t been convicted, but if he is, he could face a maximum penalty of five years on prison, prosecutors said.

Aiming a laser pointer at a plane can also come with a $250,000 fine and up to three years of supervised release, the office said.

Laser beams pose a danger because they can distract pilots. Beams are often larger at long distances, so while a pointer can make a tiny dot at a close range, it can be inches wide at longer distances.

If the beam hits a plane’s windscreen, the glass may spread the light out even more, causing a glare or even temporary blindness caused by the flash, according to LaserPointerSafety.com.

The beam can even cause eye injuries to the pilots, who may be in charge of a plane with hundreds of passengers.

The investigation in this case was led by the FBI and the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona is handling the prosecution.

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Arizona man arrested on 2 counts of aiming laser pointer at aircrafts used by sheriff’s department