Lincoln man arrested after laser strikes State Patrol helicopter

By: - March 13, 2023 5:46 pm

A Lincoln man was arrested on suspicion of striking the Nebraska State Patrol helicopter with a laser. (Courtesy of Nebraska State Patrol)

LINCOLN — State troopers have arrested a Lincoln man for striking  a Nebraska State Patrol helicopter with a laser multiple times Friday as it was in flight over the Capital City.

Pointing a laser at an aircraft is a federal offense, and any laser strike constitutes an in-flight emergency, a State Patrol spokesman said.

The incident occurred about 10 p.m. Friday,  after troopers launched the helicopter from the Lincoln Airport to assist the Lincoln Police Department.

Pilots reported a laser strike on the helicopter as it flew on the west side of Lincoln, then reported several more strikes while searching for the origin of the laser.

Eventually, the source was pinpointed as a person walking on a levee along Salt Creek, south of West O Street.

A 42-year-old Lincoln man was taken into custody and, according to the State Patrol, was found with a laser pointer in his possession.

He was lodged in the Lancaster County Jail for second-degree assault. The incident was reported to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site.

Paul Hammel
Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska Legislature and Nebraska state government for decades. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation, a member of the Nebraska Hop Growers and a volunteer caretaker of Irvingdale Park in Lincoln.