A San Bernardino man was arrested Tuesday night for pointing a laser at a sheriff’s helicopter and striking the pilot

At 8:20 p.m., Aug. 4, while conducting an area check for a stolen vehicle, a San Bernardino County sheriff's helicopter was struck with a green, high-powered, laser beam. 

“The crew was flying in the foothill area north of 40th Street and Conejo Drive in the county area of San Bernardino when they were struck numerous times by the laser,” said press release. “On one of the strikes, the helicopter pilot was struck.”

The tactical flight officers were able to quickly locate the origin of the laser with a Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR). Arriving at 1292 E. 38th St., the flight officers located a subject, later identified as Tovar Martinez, 29, in the rear yard with another person.

Deputies detained TovarMartinez and quickly located the laser. TovarMartinez admitted to pointing the laser at the helicopter, knowing it was a police helicopter and also pointing the laser at the same helicopter the night prior, during a hoist operation in the area.

TovarMartinez was arrested and booked into the Central Detention Center under PC247.5 and is being held on $25,000 bail.

Numerous campaigns have been launched to discourage laser strikes on aircraft through public service announcements, billboards and press releases. The Federal Aviation Administration announced that they might impose civil penalties up to $11,000 for pointing a laser at an aircraft. The FBI also announced the ability to bring criminal charges for pointing a laser at an aircraft with penalties of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

If anyone has information about a laser strike or witness someone pointing a laser at an aircraft, call 911.