Clearwater man accused of pointing laser at Pinellas sheriff helicopter

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A Clearwater man faces felony charges after deputies said he used a laser pointer on a Pinellas County Sheriff's Office helicopter.

Investigators said the helicopter was checking out a controlled fire on a residential property in unincorporated Clearwater around 2:30 a.m. Sunday. The aircraft circled the area while waiting for patrol units on the ground to determine the fire was not a threat.

That's when the sheriff's office said someone standing in a nearby backyard shined a red laser device three times at the helicopter.

Deputies in the aircraft reported the location to patrol units, who showed up at the home of 48-year-old Brian Harting.

According to the sheriff's office, Harting admitted to pointing the laser at the helicopter and claimed he was not aware it was illegal.

Deputies found Harting's laser, which had a warning sticker on it that said "Never aim at aircraft."

Deputies arrested Harting and charged him with felony Misuse of a Laser Lighting Device. He is being held on $25,000 bond.  He had previously been released from jail Feb. 10 after posting bond on a heroin possession charge.  

Watch video from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office of the incident below: