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Clearwater man faces felony charge after pointing laser at airborne sheriff's helicopter

Posted at 3:31 PM, Feb 17, 2019

CLEARWATER, Fla. — A man in Clearwater is facing a felony charge after he was arrested for pointing a red laser light at an airborne Pinellas County Sheriff's helicopter early Sunday morning.

Brian Harting, 48, faces a felony charge for misuse of a laser lighting device. He told deputies he didn't know it was illegal.

Deputies say the laser they recovered from him had a sticker on it that said, "never aim at aircraft."

The sheriff's office says the helicopter was circling the area near Belleair Road around 2:30 a.m. when they saw a house fire. They continued circling while they waited for patrol units to arrive at the fire.

While they were airborne, they say Harting pointed the laser at the helicopter three times. The incident can be seen on video from the helicopter.

"It's a third degree felony for any person who knowingly and willfully shines, points, or focuses the beam of a laser lighting device on an individual operating a motor vehicle, vessel, or aircraft," according to the sheriff's office.

He was arrested and taken to the Pinellas County Jail without incident.