Officers charge man accused of pointing laser at CMPD helicopter

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Snoopy is one of the most powerful tools in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s arsenal.

Police arrested a man accused of pointing a laser at their helicopter Tuesday night.

Authorities arrested Abrahan Romero after pilots noticed a green laser targeting them around 11 p.m. They said Romero was standing outside a vehicle, pointing the laser.

"There was an individual on the ground who felt compelled for some asinine reason to point a laser in their direction,” said CMPD spokesman Rob Tufano.

Officers on the ground were able to stop Romero near Choyce Avenue, close to Nations Ford Elementary School, and found a laser inside the car.

Shining a laser into the cockpit of an aircraft can temporarily blind a pilot, and pointing a laser at an aircraft is a felony.

"Night vision goggles will amplify ambient light, so when you get a laser, it's gonna blind you. It's absolutely gonna blind you,” said Chopper 9 pilot Andy Holt.

Holt has been flying chopper 9 for 22 years in Charlotte and said the threat from lasers is something you always have to think about.

"You can't see the gauges. It's a problem if you're talking about an airliner,” Holt said. “This is an aircraft with 200 passengers in the back."

The FAA said laser incidents are on the rise. Since January, there have been 3,052 cases in the United States, and 47 of those were in North Carolina and 19 cases were in Charlotte.

Many times suspects get away, but not Tuesday night.

"How many times do we have to say it, what's it gonna take, a tragedy for someone to get the picture,” Tufano said. “This is dangerous stuff."

Charlotte has worked with the FBI on dozens of cases since last year.

The FBI offers rewards up to $10,000 for information that helps arrest someone who does it.

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