Local

Clovis man arrested after laser attack

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Valley man is in jail facing possible federal charges for shining a laser at a Fresno County Sheriff's helicopter.

Authorities say the pilot was flying a Fresno County Sheriff's helicopter when he radioed officers to report someone was pointing a laser at the aircraft. Clovis police say two deputies on "eagle-two" were searching for a man wanted for a domestic dispute when the incident happened. Authorities say they gave up the search to figure out where the laser came from.

The helicopter guided officers to the source of the red laser. Clovis Police say they arrested 21-year old Charles Mahafey near the Sierra Vista Mall.

The pilot says for a moment, he saw "stars" from the effect of the bright laser light.

"It's a safety issue for us. We do fly with night vision goggles and we're told that if we see the laser through the night vision goggles then it's supposed to be safe. But if they shine the laser into your eye then it could cause damage, so naturally when we got hit I deviated from the call so I could pinpoint the attack and basically find who was trying to attack us," said Dep. Johnny Reyes with the Fresno County Sheriff's Department.

The F.B.I. says lasers can blind pilots because the pin-point "dot" of the laser becomes larger over long distances and the light illuminates the entire cockpit.

Authorities are now contacting the F.B.I. to see if additional federal charges can be filed against the 21-year-old man.

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clovis, fresno county, local, linda mumma
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