SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. --- Deputies arrested a man after he pointed a laser pointer at the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office Air 1 helicopter.
Brandon J. Neeser, 32, is suspected of pointing the laser at the chopper just before midnight on Saturday.
"When the laser lights hit the cockpit, it hits the glass and totally washes everything out," explained Capt. Dave Ellis on Monday. "They can't see any of their gages, they can't see the ground and it just completely blinds them."
Air 1 flight crews directed Spokane Valley patrol deputies to where he was standing on the back deck of a house. The deputies said they identified themselves and ordered Neeser to show his hands.
Instead of following the commands, according to SCSO, Neeser pulled his hand out of his pocket and pointed the red laser at the deputies. Officials said they could tell the laser was not attached to a gun thanks to the light from the helicopter.
Deputies said Neeser told them he “thought it would be funny” to point the laser at Air 1 and said he did not know it was a crime.
"We've also even had times where we're doing searches for missing children and we're actually getting hit by them and our flight crews have to leave the area," said Ellis. "Then we have to suspend the search, have the ground crews come out and try to locate them to tell them to knock it off."
Neeser was charged with two counts of unlawful discharge of a laser in the first degree, which is a felony.