LEMOORE — A Lemoore man was arrested Thursday after police say he pointed a laser at a law enforcement airplane flying overhead.
Around 8:30 p.m., Lemoore Police Department officials said a Kings County law enforcement airplane was patrolling over the city of Lemoore when a small circular beam of green light was shone into the window on the pilot’s side of the aircraft.
Sheriff's officials said the laser illuminated the cockpit, blinding the flight crew for several seconds.
Officials said the pilot and tactical flight officer immediately put on protective glasses to protect their eyes from the possible laser beam.
Police said the pilot circled around the area of the 1100 block of West Bush Street in an attempt to locate the source of the green light. As he did this, they said the aircraft was hit numerous times by the laser beam.
Using onboard surveillance camera equipment, the tactical flight officer was able to direct Lemoore police officers to a house in the 1000 block of Oakdale Lane, officers said.
Lemoore officers said they arrived at the house and contacted several individuals in the driveway. One of the people, 39-year-old Victor Mena of Lemoore, admitted to shining the green laser at the airplane.
Officials said Mena told an officer that he thought the airplane was a drone that was flying illegally over residential areas.
Authorities said Mena was arrested and booked into the Kings County Jail on suspicion of one felony count of discharging a laser at an aircraft. His bail was set at $50,000.
Kings County Sheriff's Office officials said they take the crime of shining a laser at an aircraft very seriously because the intensity of a laser pointed at an aircraft blinds the flight crew and could result in the airplane crashing. A laser can also cause permanent damage to the eyes of those in the aircraft, they said.
The Sheriff's Office reminds all Kings County citizens that if anyone points a laser at an aircraft, they will be pursued and arrested. Additionally, deputies said all aircraft laser incidents are reported to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Police said neither the pilot nor the tactical flight officer were injured.