OAKLAND (KRON) — A man has been arrested for pointing a green laser at a California Highway Patrol helicopter monitoring an Oakland sideshow over the weekend, the CHP said.
The CHP says a green laser can temporarily blind the pilot if it hits his or her eyes.
The highway patrol says over the last several months, there has been an uptick in those green lasers being pointed at CHP aircraft.
And this time, the alleged culprit is behind bars.
“A laser will cause partial blindness, temporary blindness to the pilot, it will cause them to have spacial disorientation where they can lose control of the aircraft,” California Highway Patrol Officer Shaun Bouyea said.
The CHP says this happened again early Sunday morning at a sideshow near 54th Avenue and International in Oakland. The highway patrol says there were some 200 vehicles on hand, fireworks were shot into the air, and there were multiple reports of gunfire.
Then, at about 2:18 a.m., the CHP says someone shined a laser into the CHP chopper multiple times.
But this time, the CHP tracked the person with the laser and made an arrest.
“We’re waiting until they leave, and we are following them until they get to a safe location where we can arrest them,” Officer Bouyea said. “Sometimes you might see us. Other times not, but we’re there monitoring and we will have these people arrested.”
The suspect, 24-year-old Ponciano Bojorquez, was arrested on multiple counts of discharging a laser at an aircraft.
And while this is a violation of state law, Bojorquez could also face federal charges and fines.
“They could do several years in jail, and they could have an imposed fine of $11,000 per laser strike,” Officer Bouyea said.
The CHP is hoping once the public realizes the penalties are much stiffer for this type of activity compared to taking part in a sideshow, the number of laser incident will drop.
So far, the highway patrol says there have been five laser incidents involving CHP aircraft since Nov. 4 at the sideshows.
The suspect is in the Alameda County Jail in lieu of $110,000 bail.
He is expected to be arraigned on Tuesday.
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