Authorities opened a federal investigation into the appearance of lasers repeatedly targeting a news helicopter Thursday in Denver, Colorado, amid ongoing protests.
Demonstrators have gathered for days in Denver protesting following the death of Minnesota resident George Floyd, killed by a police officer while unarmed.
“A spokesperson for the Denver Police Department confirms their helicopter, which was monitoring the protests, was also hit with a laser,” according to Fox 31.
Photojournalist Angel Rosado was inside the SkyFOX chopper when he saw the bright light. He said it was clear the person was aiming at them, adding that it appeared they were using both hands to direct the light.
“When these lasers hit your cockpit, it refracts, and it fills your entire cockpit with green light for a moment, kind of blinding light, for a moment,” Rosado explained.
Not long after the incident occurred, Denver police officers responded to the home in question then handed the case over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
“At this point, the FBI says it’s still gathering information, and no arrests have been made,” the Fox 31 report said.
Although lasers are legal, pointing one at an aircraft is a felony punishable by up to five years in jail, according to the FBI’s website.
“Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft is a serious matter and a violation of federal law,” Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division Ron Hosko said in 2014.
“It is important that people understand that this is a criminal act with potentially deadly repercussions,” he added.
In December 2019, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said illegal laser strikes on aircrafts increased every year.
“In 2017, the FAA received 6,754 reports of laser strikes on aircraft,” which was a 250 percent increase since the agency began tracking the incidents in 2010.
“I’m not mad at the person who did this, but it’s clear that you were doing this on purpose,” Rosado said, adding, “So please, please understand that I’m a real person. Let’s be good to each other, and please keep that laser away from us.”