Two men have been charged in separate incidents involving hitting police helicopters with laser strikes.
According to York Regional Police, on Thursday, May 21, at approximately 11:25 pm, Air2 was flying over the area of Rutherford Road and Islington Avenue in Vaughan on general patrol when the pilot and tactical flight officer “were struck by a bright light source.”
Police say the “crew engaged in safety measures” and were able to direct officers to the location of the suspect outside of a residence on Ronan Crescent.
A 44-year-old man from Vaughan was arrested and charged with Mischief Endangering Life, Endanger Security of an Aircraft in Flight – Aeronautics Act, and Unlawfully Project Bright Light into Navigable Airspace- Canadian Aviation Regulation.
Additionally, on Friday, May 22, at approximately 11:55 pm, Air2 was in the area of Birchmount Road and Enterprise Boulevard in Markham, assisting on a break and enter investigation when they were hit multiple times by a laser.
Police say the suspect was believed to be on a balcony of a hotel located on Birchmount Road. Ground officers attended the location and arrested the 32-year-old suspect.
He faces similar charges as the 44-year-old Vaughan man.
A third incident occurred on Saturday, May 23, at approximately 11:30 pm, when Air2 was hit by a laser while on general patrol in the area of Bathurst Street and Jefferson Sideroad in Richmond Hill.
Police say the suspect has not yet been identified and the investigation is ongoing.
“York Regional Police reminds the public of the potential harm laser pointers can cause. Health Canada warns that a split-second look into a laser pointer can result in a condition called flash blindness,” reads a statement from police.
“This is similar to the effect you get during flash photography, where the image of the flash remains in your eyes for a few seconds, then fades away. However, for a pilot in control of an aircraft flying over populated areas, the consequences can be very serious. Those who aim these pointers at aircraft are putting lives in danger, not only in the aircraft but on the ground, as there is a significant potential for harm to the pilot as well as the prospect of a crash.”
Anyone with information on the unresolved incident is asked to contact the York Regional Police #2 District Criminal Investigations Bureau at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 7241, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.