Manatee County deputies arrest man pointing lasers at pilots

A man is behind bars after allegedly pointing a laser at planes landing at the Sarasota Bradenton Airport.

According to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, 41-year-old Charlie Chapman pointed a laser at their aviation unit as they investigated a complaint about a laser being pointed at airplanes. After locating the suspect on a forklift, the aviation unit directed deputies on the ground to him. 

Deputies said that's when Chapman grabbed a hammer and made a striking motion toward them, so they used a Taser to take him to the ground. Arresting deputies found a laser pointer in his pocket.      

Chapman was taken to Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, where he was cleared and taken to the Manatee County Jail. 

Investigators said they later learned that Chapman also shot his laser pointer on a fixed-wing plane four times and once at the MCSO helicopter. 

One of the pilots said of the plane said that the laser hit him directly in the eyes, causing temporary blindness. The pilot told detectives that he still felt his eyesight was blurry from the laser. 

Chapman faces charges of aggravated assault on an officer, pointing a laser at a pilot with injury, pointing a laser at a pilot without injury and resisting arrest with violence.