A Sacramento-area man will is heading to federal prison with a three-year sentence for pointing a high-powered laser into the cockpit of a police helicopter, while the unit patroled his neigborhood, CBS13 reports.
The Sacramento County Sheriff's helicopter was searching for a suspect who had shined a green laser at a Southwest Airlines flight that was landing at the Sacramento International Airport two hours earlier.
Pointing lasers at aircraft is extremely dangerous, and the pilot who was targeted by Balltazar Valladares, 30, said the incidents happen often in the Sacramento area.
"My partner and I get hit about twice a week," pilot Jeff Weblun tells CBS13. "When it hits the window of the [helicopter], not only does the Plexiglass window magnify the beam, but it refracts it. You have a beam that may just be small in diameter, but now it illuminates the entire cockpit and it not only takes away your night vision but it can potentially damage your eyes."