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.

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Paul Hammel
Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska state government and the state for decades. Previously with the Omaha World-Herald, Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha Sun, he is a member of the Omaha Press Club's Hall of Fame. He grows hops, brews homemade beer, plays bass guitar and basically loves traveling and writing about the state. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation.