Man indicted by federal grand jury for aiming laser pointer at helicopter
Dallas Tx - Four days before he turns 24, Steven Alexander Chavez Jr. was scooped up by federal authorities in Lubbock and charged with one count of aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft — in this case, a Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter. He was arrested today, three days after he was indicted by a federal grand jury in Dallas.
The incident that led to his arrest by FBI agents occurred at 1:07 the morning of Aug. 24, 2013, according to the DPS and Garland police, as the DPS chopper flew over Chavez’s house along the 1100 block of Alexandria Avenue in north Garland. According to the Garland police report, the pilot and tactical flight officer — the latter a Garland officer on loan to DPS — were greeted by a green laser light illuminating the cockpit. The incident was captured on video.
They flew over the house and saw three men in the backyard, at which point the Garland officer in the chopper directed officers on the ground to the address.
Initially, says the police report, the three men were reluctant to say who did it, but once they were told there was video, the report says, Chavez confessed. The officers left the house with the laser pointer and Chavez. The feds eventually intercepted the case as it was making its way to the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office.
If convicted, Chavez faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
Chavez was already looking at spending time behind bars before this week’s arrest: Dallas County court records show he was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving on Aug. 3, 2013, after two Richardson police officers found Chavez and a buddy passed out in a black Chevy Aveo that had crashed into an electrical pole along the N. Central Expressway service road. According to the probable cause affidavit, Chavez told the officer he had three 12-ounce Buds 90 minutes before he hopped in the car to drive to Garland. The problem was, Chavez couldn’t even remember where he’d been — either in Denton or downtown Dallas. When the officers asked if Chavez was having trouble remembering where he’d been or where he was going because he was drunk, Chavez reportedly responded, “Probably.”
The officers also discovered Chavez had a prior drunk-driving arrest and conviction in Lubbock, for which he’s served 120 days behind bars earlier in 2013.
The feds are taking so-called “laser strikes” very seriously: In June the FBI announced that it will pay up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest of anyone aiming a laser at an aircraft. Federal authorities say that in 2013, there were 90 such incidents in the Dallas division alone. One of those resulted in a 30-month federal prison sentence for Kenneth Santodomingo, who admitting to turning his laser pointer on a Dallas police helicopter flying overhead one night.
And as Garland police spokesman Joe Harn reminds, Sammy Ladymon of Garland was among the first to see his misdemeanor arrest turn into a federal offense — after he turned his laser pointer on an FBI pilot.
FBI Launches National Campaign to Address Laser Threat to Aircraft
Campaign Includes Up to $10,000 Reward
See here: http://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/fbi-launches-national-campaign-to-address-laser-threat-to-aircraft