Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Sonoma County Man Arrested for Pointing a Laser at Helicopter and Possessing Cocaine

The following is a press release issued by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office. This has not been proven in a court of law and any individuals described should be presumed innocent until proven guilty:

Last night (9/1/23), the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Helicopter, Henry-One, was on air patrol over Santa Rosa, assisting the Santa Rosa Police Department and Sonoma County Patrol Deputies with numerous calls. At about 9:20 PM, while checking on possible sideshow activity in the area of Santa Rosa Avenue and Kawana Springs Road, the Pilot and Tactical Flight Officer were blinded by a high-power blue laser from West Avenue. The laser strike lasted several seconds. As Henry-One attempted to locate the source of the blue laser, the crew was struck by a green laser coming from the area of Pebblecreek Drive

While investigating the source of each laser, the blue laser struck the helicopter several more times. Using Henry-One’s onboard camera system, the crew was able to pinpoint the source of the blue laser to the 2200 block of West Avenue. Henry-One coordinated with deputies on the ground who responded to the area. While Henry-One was overhead, the subject pointed the blue laser at the helicopter two additional times. Deputies contacted 59-year-old Santa Rosa resident Robert Stewart. Stewart had suspected cocaine when he was arrested for pointing a laser at an aircraft. Stewart was booked for a felony violation of 247.5 PC (pointing a laser at an occupied aircraft) and 11350(a) HS (possession of a controlled substance).

While pointing a laser at an aircraft may seem harmless, it can impair the pilot’s ability to safely fly the aircraft and cause permanent damage to their eyes. Pointing a laser at an occupied aircraft is a violation of state law as well as federal law. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) can issue fines of $11,000 dollars for a single incident and up to $30,800 for multiple incidents.

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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
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