Turlock man faces charges of hitting sheriff's, medical helicopters with laser beam

FBI points out dangers of lasers aimed at aircraft

Pointing lasers at aircraft is a federal crime.
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Pointing lasers at aircraft is a federal crime.

A Turlock man was indicted by a federal grand jury in Fresno on Thursday on two counts of hitting two helicopters with the beam of a laser pointer in October. Both were flying near the Modesto Airport.

According to court documents, Roger Shane John, 31, on the evening of Oct. 22 struck a Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department helicopter, Air 101, five to six times with a powerful green laser, causing visual interference and disrupting an air support response to a domestic violence call.

Around the same time, and in the general vicinity of the strikes to Air 101, John struck CalStar 12, an emergency medical helicopter, three to four times, says a news release by the Office of the U.S. Attorney.

The laser strikes occurred within the FAA-designated laser-free zone, which encompasses all flight operations at 2,000 feet and below, the news release says.

John is set to be arraigned Friday, Dec. 15, in federal court in Fresno. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

In early October, John was arrested by Ceres police on suspicion of vehicle theft, attempted receiving stolen property, false impersonation of another person, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Stanislaus County Superior Court records show he has prior convictions for crimes including domestic violence, identity theft, possession of a controlled substance for sale, being a felon in possession of a firearm and making threats with intent to terrorize.