On Thursday, May 24th, at approximately 9:30 a.m., a Pasadena Police Officer was injured by a laser strike while flying over the City of San Gabriel. The helicopter crew was not wearing their protective eyewear at the time of the attack; however, they identified the suspect’s location and worked with San Gabriel Police ground units to contain the area. The suspect was arrested without incident. The flight crew landed safely at the Pasadena Heliport and the injured officer was taken to a local area hospital for evaluation.
At the time of his arrest the suspect, Rafael Juarez, Hispanic male 23, a San Gabriel Resident, was also in possession of a controlled substance, believed to be cocaine. Juarez was booked at the San Gabriel City Jail for discharging a laser at an aircraft and possession of a controlled substance.
“Laser assaults on public and private aircraft are becoming all too common throughout Southern California. Pointing a laser at an aircraft, while flying, is illegal and can have catastrophic consequences for aircrews and people on the ground. Fortunately, our police officers are very adept at catching individuals who commit aircraft assaults. The Pasadena Police Department will continue to aggressively investigate these cases and will make every effort to arrest the suspect(s),” said Chief Phillip L. Sanchez.
Violations for this type of offense are being prosecuted at the state and federal levels. The Federal Aviation Administration is now seeking civil penalties of up to $10,000 for each occurrence. The Pasadena Police Department would like to commend the San Gabriel Police Department for their quick action and professionalism throughout this investigation.
For More Information:
Lieutenant Michael Ingram: (626) 744-4606
Watch Commander: (626) 744-4620