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Man Arrested for Shining Laser at Pilot

For Immediate Release : Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office
Release Number: 23-223



Man Arrested for Shining Laser at Pilot

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office has arrested a man for shining a laser at a HCSO helicopter that was in flight.

On December 6, 2023, at 4:24 a.m., a HCSO helicopter was struck by a bright green laser multiple times while doing surveillance in Brandon. Within minutes, patrol deputies were able to arrest William Long Lee, 56, on a felony charge of Misuse of Laser Lighting Device.

"Shining a laser at a pilot or aircraft is extremely dangerous and illegal," said Sheriff Chad Chronister. "Pointing a laser can distract or temporarily blind the pilot. The light can often spread so much that a pilot cannot avoid it. This irresponsible behavior posed an imminent threat to the safety of our pilot and tactical flight deputy."

This is HCSO's second arrest for Misuse of Laser Lighting Device in the last two weeks. HCSO asks the community never to shine a laser into the sky or at an aircraft. The consequences could be deadly.

In 2022, there were 9,457 reported laser strikes to the FAA.