New Yorker arrested after shining lasers at planes

Aiming a black tubular laser at aircraft flying over New York on Monday could have jeopardized the pilots’ safety, according to authorities.

A laser beam

A laser beam Image by Andrew "FastLizard4" Ada / CC BY 2.0

The type used had such a powerful beam that was strong enough to injure the eyes of four pilots, including two police officers in a NYPD helicopter. When police were alerted to the danger of the beam flashing across the cockpits of a number of commercial planes taking off and landing from nearby La Guardia Airport, the officers in the helicopter saw that it was coming from an apartment on Coddington Ave in the Bronx, said the police.

The New York Times reports that when they went to the apartment, they were let in by a woman. Immediately they saw a device on the refrigerator labelled “Laser 303” and “Danger.” They questioned a man, Frank J. Egan, 36, the woman’s son, and he told the officer that the laser was his. Egan was then arrested and charged with several offences including two counts of assault on a police officer, three counts of felony assault, reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon.

The Times reports that he appeared in the Bronx Criminal Court for arraignment on Tuesday where he was released on $5,000 cash or $15,000 bond. Mr. Egan’s lawyer, Francis J. O’Reilly, said that his client “vehemently denies” the accusations.

A laser expert and a former professor of engineering at the University of Pennsylvania Samuel M. Goldwasser, said it was only a matter of time before a pilot is hit by a laser light, panics and loses control. Reports of lasers being pointed at aircraft has climbed to 3,690 in 2013 from 283 in 2003.

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