Man Faces Felony Charge After Pointing Laser at Sheriff’s Office Helicopter
WEEKI WACHEE – Pointing a laser at a Hernando County Sheriff’s Office Helicopter landed one man behind bars Saturday and he could face up to 5-years in prison, and a $5,000 fine.
According to sources, the HCSO Air Unit responded to help search for a missing 9-year-old boy, in the area of Cortez Blvd and Darts Street. After the child was located, the pilot reported that someone was pointing a laser at him from a nearby residence. The pilot was able to pinpoint the exact location of the source and directed deputies to the residence. Within a few minutes of the incident, deputies located and arrested 35-year-old Eric Dale Harper of 8029 Darts Street.
Harper is charged with a third-degree felony, under a Florida Statute that prohibits pointing lasers at pilots. Harper was booked into the Hernando County Jail and remains behind bars on a $5,000 bond.
Harper is no stranger to law enforcement. In 2015, Harper was found guilty of poaching, after he was found in possession of a deer carcass and antlers out of season. Harper has also faced charges of burglary, drug possession, battery, and DUI.
If a person is convicted on Federal charges, they could face up to a $250,000 fine and 5-years in prison.
A similar incident occurred in 2010, when then, 23-year-old Louis Amalfitano pointed a laser at an HCSO Air Unit. Amalfitano later pled guilty to the charged and completed a pre-trial intervention program.
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