Laser pointing suspect gets jail time

Gabriel Soza Ruedas Jr.

AUSTIN (KXAN) – The man who pleaded guilty to shining a Laser pointer at an Austin Police Department helicopter was sentenced to two years in jail and three years probation.

Gabriel Soza Ruedas Jr., 25, admitted to a United States Magistrate Judge that he knowingly aimed the laser at the helicopter as it was on approach to land at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

Court documents show the helicopter aborted its landing to investigate the source of the laser, and air traffic controllers issued a warning to other pilots about the incident as they attempted to land.

GOING IN-DEPTH // A National Problem

  • The FBI announced a national campaign in June to discourage people from pointing lasers at aircraft, even offering rewards of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest of individuals who commit the crime. Pointing a laser at an aircraft is a federal offense.
  • Four Texas cities, including Austin, were among the top 20 when it came to reports of laser strikes against aircraft.

The helicopter crew was able to relay location information to ground crews who apprehended Ruedas. The laser pointer was found in his pocket.

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