Man federally indicted for pointing laser pointer at Spokane County Sheriff's Office helicopter

Feb. 12—A 42-year-old man was federally indicted after the Spokane County Sheriff's Office said he pointed a laser at their helicopter.

Johnny R. Blackstock, 42, is accused of aiming the laser in October at a Spokane Regional Air Support Unit helicopter on a regularly scheduled patrol flight.

"Pointing a laser at an aircraft can have life-threatening consequences. Spokane County Sheriff's Deputies protecting the community and first responders life-flighting a patient for medical help face extreme danger from actions like this," U.S. Attorney Vanessa Waldref, said in a statement.

The pilot and crew "received several strikes from a green laser," according to a statement from the sheriff's office at the time.

"A laser strike to any aircraft is extremely dangerous as the laser, at a minimum, distracts pilots/crews, can momentarily blind them, and can potentially cause permanent injury depending on its strength," the statement reads.

Investigators quickly located Blackstock in the area where the laser appeared to have originated. A laser was located in his pants pocket, according to the sheriff's office.

A Life Flight helicopter flying through the area also was targeted by Blackstock, the sheriff's office said.

He was initially charged in Spokane County Superior Court until the indictment came from United States District Court this month.