Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the Cleveland Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), for the Northern District of Ohio, in conjunction with Calvin Williams, Chief of Cleveland Division of Police, are seeking information regarding two recent laser strikes, one against a Cleveland Division of Police Helicopter and one against a MetroHealth Life helicopter.
Both of these laser strikes occurred on July 4, 2017 at approximately 10:15 p.m from the 3000 block of West 31st Street, Cleveland, Ohio.
The main hazard for aviation is that pilots can be distracted or temporarily flashblinded by the light from a laser beam. The light often is a large light at aviation distances, unlike the tiny dot a laser makes at close range. Individuals often do not realize that traveling over hundreds of feet a tiny 2 centimeter laser beam spreads to become approximately 6 feet of light that can block a pilot’s vision. Most laser strike incidents reported occur at flights under 10,000 feet with the highest percentage being altitudes under 6,000 feet.
Laser strikes are investigated by local and federal law enforcement. Under 18 USC 39 (A), whoever knowingly aims the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States, or at the flight path of such an aircraft, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned. Under 49 USC Section 46301 (a) (5) (A), the FAA may seek a maximum civil penalty of $11,000 per violation for aiming a laser at an aircraft in violation of C.F.R. Section 91.11.
The FBI and our law enforcement partners are asking the public if they have any knowledge of the laser strikes that occurred last week. If anyone has any information please call the Cleveland Division of the FBI at 216-522-1400. Tips can remain anonymous and reward money is available for the successful identification and prosecution of the individual(s) responsible for these laser strikes.