Two 21-year-old men have been arrested and face up to five years in federal prison for aiming laser pointers at helicopters, the FBI says.
Joshua Nathaniel Vela and Jon David Lopez, both of Alice, will be arraigned Thursday in federal court, as the seriousness of the whole "being treated like terrorists" thing begins to settle in on them.
The FBI says the incident occurred December 27. It was especially funny because the guys pointed their lasers at Halo Flight helicopters, which are used for transporting victims. So not only were they (allegedly) able to endanger a pilot and a co-pilot, but also someone who might have been seriously injured!!
Once their no-doubt hysterical giggling was over, we'd have liked to see the look on their faces as they realized they had pointed their lasers not at a lumbering 747 that had no choice but to continue climbing up its takeoff path, but instead at a highly maneuverable aircraft that could keep them in sight as authorities were contacted.
Laser-pointing is something authorities are definitely interested in these days.
"In response to a growing number of incidents of pilots being distracted or even temporarily blinded by laser beams," the FBI says, "Congress passed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which specifically prohibits aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft."
Vela and Lopez each face up to five years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.