A man said he didn’t know his actions were illegal after he was arrested for pointing a laser at a sheriff’s helicopter in Weeki Wachee, an action that officials say impeded an ongoing operation.
The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office was using their helicopter and Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) to search for a missing 9-year-old child Saturday when deputies were interrupted by a laser light being aimed at the helicopter, according to the sheriff’s office.
Deputies had located the child and were giving updates to officials on the ground when the light hit the helicopter about five times. It interfered with the deputy’s ability to see and give the location of the child, according to the sheriff’s office.
Officials said it was also a danger to those in the helicopter and on the ground.
Deputies were able find the missing child. They were then directed to a home in the 8000 block of Darts Street in Weeki Wachee to find the person who pointed the laser.
When officials arrived, they spoke with Eric Harper, who admitted to shining the laser at the sheriff’s helicopter, according to the sheriff’s office.
“I didn’t know it was a crime, I’m sorry,” Harper reportedly told deputies.
Harper was charged with pointing a laser light at driver or pilot.