Fairfax Police arrest 25-year-old for pointing laser at helicopter

Fairfax Police were able to capture video of an illegal laser pointer aimed at a police helicopter. 

It happened on March 11 in Lorton at about 11:25 p.m. A helicopter, called "Fairfax 1," was being used to assist Virginia State police in a search for a suspect who had run away from troopers. 

Officials said a 25-year-old man pointed the laser at the helicopter from a balcony apartment located in the 9200 block of Ashland Woods Lane.

"The entire cockpit turned into, for lack of a better term, a green disco ball," explained Andrew Edgerton, the chief pilot for the Fairfax County Police Helicopter Division. "I was momentarily blinded, and it was very disorienting."

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, laser strikes actually happen a lot — 6,852 laser strikes were reported to the agency in 2020, followed by 9,723 in 2021, and 9,457 in 2022.

Andrew Edgerton

During the Fairfax County incident, Edgerton said his crew had to fly away from the laser and temporarily stop searching for the initial Virginia State police suspect. Police said the 25-year-old man with the laser was ultimately arrested.


US Park Police confirm a laser was pointed at their helicopter during protests in DC this week

U.S. Park Police confirmed with FOX 5 that someone pointed a laser at their helicopter during protests earlier this week in front of the Fourth District Police Station in D.C. after a police-moped pursuit turned fatal last Friday.

"It’s a pretty serious thing that people are doing when you’re shining a laser and distracting pilots from their job," Edgerton said, adding that he’s been the victim of laser strikes while flying several times before.

Police arrested the 25-year-old man for interference with the operation of an aircraft. It is a federal crime to point a laser at an aircraft, as it poses a safety threat to pilots, according to the FAA.