17-year-old arrested for pointing laser at Manatee County Sheriff's Office helicopter

A pilot was navigating above Manatee County in the sheriff's office helicopter when he noticed a green laser pointer aimed at the aircraft. 

The incident occurred Wednesday around 7:40 p.m. According to the agency, the helicopter was on patrol above 600 13th Street West when the laser was repeatedly flashed at the helicopter.

The pilot was able to report the source of the pointer and notified officers. Palmetto police met with the individual, a 17-year-old, who said he had a laser pointer and was pointing it at the aircraft, officials said.

He was detained and the laser pointer was confiscated, according to the sheriff's office.

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His parents were notified. The teen was arrested and taken to the Manatee Juvenile Detention Center.

He faces a felony charge of pointing a laser light at a pilot.

Pointing a laser at an aircraft is considered to be a federal crime. Anyone who fails to comply could face a penalty of up to $11,000 for each violation. 

According to the FAA, there were a total of 9,723 laser incidents in the U.S. in 2021. The year before that, a total of 6,852. Last year was the highest reported number of laser-pointing incidents ever.