ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KMOX) – An O’Fallon, Missouri man has pleaded guilty to charges that he pointed a laser at a police helicopter in May.
Michael Smith, 35, shone the light at a Metro St. Louis Air Support helicopter as its pilots searched for a burglar on Meriwether in St. Charles County. The green laser beam hit the glass of the helicopter, forcing its pilot to call off the search.
The helicopter then searched for the source of the laser and found it be in the 2700 block of Red Cedar Parc Drive South. Smith was seen standing in his driveway with the laser.
Smith later told officers that he had been drinking and “playing around with the laser” when he pointed it at the police helicopter.
Smith pleaded guilty to one felony county of aiming the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft and sentencing is scheduled for February. The charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
“Shining laser pointers at aircraft is not harmless. It is dangerous for pilots,”Acting Special Agent in Charge Tim Feeney of the FBI St. Louis Division said. “This case is among the first nationwide to be prosecuted under a new federal law that specifically says pointing a laser beam at an aircraft or its flight path is a federal felony.”