SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A Puerto Rican man has been arrested for allegedly aiming a laser pointer at a police helicopter during a security operation, the FBI said Monday.
The FBI identified the suspect as Christopher Jusino Rodriguez of the southern city of Ponce. They allege he aimed the laser light at a police helicopter during a June 19 operation at the Santiago Iglesias public housing complex.
Police say they saw a green light coming from an apartment balcony there and the hand-held pointer, also known as a laser pen, impeded the vision of officers in the helicopter. Officers on the ground were directed to the apartment and allegedly saw a man on a balcony with the device.
Officers who responded to the suspicious apartment allege that Jusino acknowledged pointing the laser at the helicopter. They said he allegedly retrieved the device from a trash can.
Jusino faces a maximum of five years in prison if convicted of aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft.
Laser pointers are legal and are commonly used in classrooms and conference rooms. But it's a felony to aim them at aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration has reported an increase in people pointing lasers at aircraft in recent years, including nearly 4,000 cases in 2013.
Earlier this year, the FBI announced a program aimed at deterring people from pointing lasers at aircraft and rewarding those who come forward with information about individuals who do it.
"Laser strikes on aircrafts put pilots and their passengers' lives in danger," said Carlos Cases, special agent-in-charge of the FBI's San Juan division.