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Alleged laser flash at police helicopter leads to arrests

April 30, 2012|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com

Two men were arrested Friday after they allegedly flashed a red laser at a Glendale police helicopter, officials said.

Dylan Chavez, 18, of La Crescenta and Jason Phillips, 20, of Glendale were arrested just after 9:30 p.m. Friday on suspicion of discharging a laser at an aircraft.

The laser struck the aircrew three times, with each flash lasting three to four seconds following the helicopter’s flight pattern, according to Glendale police reports.

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The aircrew used an infrared camera to pinpoint the laser’s origin to a home backyard, where they spotted one of the men allegedly trying to hide behind a boat.

When officers on the ground arrived at the home, Chavez reportedly denied pointing the laser and claimed to be playing video games with Phillips at the time of the incident.

He also denied owning a laser and urged officers to search his home. That’s when officers found a cup containing pencils and a pen that doubled as a red laser, according to an incident report.

Phillips also denied pointing the laser at the helicopter, according to police.

Four laser-pointing incidents have occurred near Bob Hope Airport so far this year, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration. At the same time last year, pilots reported six laser incidents near the airport.

Laser flashers are now subject to a law signed by President Obama that makes such flashing incidents a federal crime. An 18-year-old North Hollywood man was recently charged under the statute for allegedly flashing a laser at a private plane on approach to the Burbank airfield March 29.

He is only the second person in the U.S. to be charged under the federal law, according to the FBI.

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