CLEARWATER (WWSB) - A man was arrested in Clearwater after allegedly illuminating an airborne Sheriff’s Office helicopter.
On Sun. Feb. 17, 2019 around 2:30 p.m. Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office helicopter was flying over Clearwater when they noticed a controlled fire located off Belleair road. After the aircraft circled around the area, they determined the fire was not a threat.
Deputies say 48-year-old Brian Harting of Clearwater shined a red laser lighting device at the aircraft three times, while the helicopter was still flying.
After patrol deputies located and spoke to Harting, he admitted to illuminating the helicopter with the laser lighting device and stated he was unaware it was illegal, according to a release from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
When deputies confiscated the laser, a warning sticker was on it which read “Never aim at aircraft.” Per Florida State Statute, it is a third degree felony for any person who knowingly and willfully shines, points, or focuses the beam of a laser lighting device on an individual operating a motor vehicle, vessel, or aircraft.
Harting was arrested and charged with felony Misuse of a Laser Lighting Device and transported to the Pinellas County Jail.