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Lexington man arrested for aiming laser at police helicopter

By: Brittany Pelletz & Tim Johnston
By: Brittany Pelletz & Tim Johnston

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Shining a laser may not seem like a very threatening move, but shine it at an airplane or a helicopter, especially a police helicopter, and it can get you in serious trouble.

"The best analogy that I can use is it's kind of like looking at a welder's light without any eye protection," that's how Pat Murray, a retired police Sergeant described a laser's light when seen from above.

Murray is no stranger to the skies, either, he served as a helicopter pilot for the Lexington Police for many years, and he's been hit with a laser beam four times in his career.

"I never got hit directly," he clarified, but added, "We'd see the light bouncing around, inside the cockpit. When it hits that windscreen, it seems like it really magnifies it."

Saturday night a police chopper reported being hit with a laser three times while over a construction area near Boston Road. Officers tracked down the suspect, Steven French, who's a contracted security guard at that construction site near Winthrop and Man O'War. Police say French, 50, admitted to using the laser because he was bored.

What may startle some is this wasn't just a laser pen, French said he was testing the laser sight on his gun.

The Federal Aviation Administration has a video demonstrating the effects of a laser from inside a cockpit. The light can be very blinding.

"If the intensity of that laser is bright enough, it can cause temporary blindness to the pilot and the flight crew. It can cause permanent eye damage is the laser intensity is strong enough," explained Murray as to why it's so dangerous.

French has been charged with wanton endangerment.


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