(KRON) — A Santa Rosa man was arrested Friday night for shining a laser at a Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office helicopter, officials said. Around 9:20 p.m., the helicopter was on air patrol assisting police with a nearby sideshow.
The pilot and tactical flight officer were blinded by a blue laser for several seconds coming from the area of West Avenue. As the helicopter attempted to locate the exact location of the blue laser, the crew was struck by a green laser coming from the area of Pebblecreek Drive, the sheriff’s office said.
The blue laser continued to strike the helicopter more times. Using a camera system, the crew was able to locate the source of the blue laser to the 2200 block of West Avenue. Deputies located Robert Stewart, a 59-year-old Santa Rosa resident, according to police.
He was found with suspected cocaine when police arrested him.
Shining a laser at an aircraft is a federal crime and can cause temporary blindness for pilots. The Federal Aviation Administration can issue fines of $11,000 for a single incident and up to $30,800 for multiple incidents, officials said.