Man detained in Burien for shining laser at King County sheriff's helicopter

FBI simulation shows the effect of a laser strike on a pilot. (KOMO photo)

BURIEN, Wash. - A 29-year-old man was taken into custody Tuesday night, accused of shining a laser at the King County Sheriff's Guardian One Helicopter and possibly other aircraft in the area, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The control tower at Sea-Tac Airport notified Guardian One at 9:34 p.m. that a green laser was being pointed at planes landing at the airport. The laser was reportedly coming from near the Burien Transit Center.

Guardian One flew to the area to try to the find the person with the laser. Within minutes, someone at the transit center pointed a green laser at the helicopter. That interrupted flight duties, and prevented the crew from looking outside the helicopter.

"We had our helicopter with a really good camera system and they were able to see exactly where it was coming from," said King County Sheriff's Sgt. Ryan Abbott.

The helicopter crew was then able to direct deputies on the ground to the transit center, where they found the man at a bus stop with the laser on him.

"He actually admitted to having the laser and shining it on the helicopter," said Sgt. Abbott.

The man was briefly taken into custody.

The man told deputies he was showing his friend his new laser and was "accidentally shining the laser near the airport," the Sheriff's Office says.

Deputies later released him, but detectives will now be looking at the case.

The Sheriff's Office said shining lasers at pilots is illegal and can be extremely dangerous.

"It can easily blind a pilot's eye, it can mess with their controls, but the main problem is we worry about it blinding the pilots," said Sgt. Abbott.

If you see any suspicious laser behavior, you can report in on the FAA’s website.

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