Man arrested for allegedly aiming laser pointer at police helicopter

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by Catherine Holland

Video report by Steve Ryan

Posted on May 29, 2013 at 7:12 AM

Updated Wednesday, May 29 at 5:00 PM

Map: 37th Ave. & Tonopah
16th St. & Thomas

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PHOENIX -- Police arrested a man for allegedly aiming a laser pointer at a police helicopter and possibly a medical helicopter early Wednesday morning.

According to Phoenix Police Sgt. Tommy Thompson, investigators are looking into two separate incidents.

The first happened in the area northwest of 35th Avenue and Beardsley Road, just north of the Loop 101 Agua Fria Freeway.

Thompson said officers questioned a 29-year-old man about allegedly pointing a laser at a Phoenix police helicopter. They did not arrest him.

The second incident happened about two hours later in the neighborhood southeast of 16th Street and Thomas Road, which is in the vicinity of Phoenix Children's Hospital.

Officers arrested Ralph Rubi, 37, for pointing a laser at a Phoenix police helicopter and possibly medical helicopters landing at PCH.

Ruby is charged with three counts of endangerment, which is a class 6 felony.

"This seemingly harmless act is very dangerous for aircraft pilots and it is illegal. It carries with it significant federal fines if the suspect is convicted," Thompson said last March after another man was arrested for aiming a laser pointer at a police helicopter.

Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration have long been concerned with the increasing number of incidents in which people point lasers at aircraft.

FBI.gov

What appears as a dot of light on the ground can illuminate an entire cockpit, disorienting a pilot or causing temporary blindness.

The bright light of the laser can not only damage a pilot’s eyes, it can also temporarily blind him or her, forcing him or her to hand over control to a co-pilot or even abort a landing.

Dozens of people throughout the country and around the world have been arrested for pointing laser beams at cockpits, including several here in Arizona in the past few years.

Most of those incidents took place near airports as planes were taking off and landing.

See what a laser pointer looks like to a pilot

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