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Laser strike at police helicopter, man arrested at home instantly

Jan 11, 2024

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GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Gwinnett County Police released video from their aviation unit that shows the moment the cockpit of their helicopter took a laser strike on a recent night patrol operation.

It happened on Saturday night as the chopper was up over Duluth near I-85. At first, the green laser is faint and hard to spot off in the distance but once the crew see it, they zoom in to the area. Within seconds, the video shows the cockpit take a direct hit inside the cockpit.

"This is very dangerous and I don't think people know the magnitude of it," explained Gwinnett Police Department's Master Police Officer Hideshi Valle. "It could cause a pilot or the ones operating the cockpit to actually have an accident."

As soon as the crew in the chopper saw where the laser light was coming from, they quickly used technology on board to track down the suspect within seconds. Here is what the laser looked like when it was first spotted.

After police initially spotted the laser from a distance away, they were then struck with the green laser in the cockpit of the helicopter. A snapshot of what that looks like is illustrated in the photo below.

That technology is vital for pilots in the air who are able to quickly identify where the crime is coming from to let police officers down on the ground know where the suspect is.

"The technology that they have is an asset that we have in the police department that is able to narrow down to a specific location," Master Officer Valle explained.

The technology allows the crew in the chopper to zoom in so close, you can actually see the heat signature of the suspect. The technology also allows the actual numeric of the house pop up on their screen. This is how the chopper was able to relay to officers where to go which helped in making the arrest.

Check out what the helicopter pilots actually saw wen they zoomed in. The figure highlighted in white just above the roof of the home is the suspect.

"The gentleman that pointed the laser was found with the laser and he was apprehended on-scene," Master Officer Valle said.

Master Officer Valle explained this video should raise awareness on why no one should be shining a laser at their helicopters or any aircraft for that matter.

She said it not only puts the pilots and crew on board in danger, but also citizens on the ground. The light can be so blinding it could cause a critical error in the air that brings down the aircraft which could create catastrophic damage.

"In general, I don't believe that citizens know the magnitude or the impact of the actions when pointing a laser at an aviation unit or a plane in general," Master Officer Valle said. "And we're just trying to bring awareness because this is a could be a very serious or even deadly incident."

The photo below shows just how a laser can blind a pilot and potentially cause them to make a move in the cockpit that could be deadly to them and those on the ground.

The 26-year-old suspect was charged by Gwinnett County Police with laser use against an aircraft -- a felony.

>>Take a look at the full video below:

>>Take a look at the full video below: