Austin man charged in laser pointing incident

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A 25-year-old Austin man will be in Federal Court Thursday after officials say he pointed a laser pointer at an Austin Police helicopter last February.

Gabriel Soza Ruedas, Jr., could be sentenced to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if found guilty of the charge of aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft.

According to information from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, an Austin Police helicopter was on approach to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport when it was illuminated by Ruedas’ LASER pointer.

“Shining a laser at aircraft can temporarily blind a pilot which could result in the loss of aircraft control and human life. This case should serve as a warning to others who engage in this dangerous criminal activity. The FBI will continue to investigate and pursue prosecution of offenders who threaten aviation safety,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office reports laser strike incidents are on the rise since the FBI and FAA began tracking them in 2005. In 2013, there were a total of 3,960 laser strikes reported.

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