Man Accused of Pointing Laser at Helicopter

RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, Calif. -- A 20-year-old Rancho Santa Margarita man was in jail Friday on suspicion of repeatedly pointing a laser beam at an Orange County Sheriff's Department helicopter pilot on routine patrol.

Mitchell Cruz Re was arrested Thursday night, after the pilot reported that he was distracted while flying by a laser beam aimed at the cockpit, said Jim Amormino of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

The pilot was able to determine where the beam was coming from, and deputies went to the Villa La Paz apartment complex where they arrested Re and recovered the laser, Amormino said.

Re was also booked on suspicion of possessing methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia, Amormino said.

No one was injured, but a laser beam can cause temporary blindness, making it extremely dangerous when pointed at someone piloting an aircraft, he said.

According to an Orange County Sheriff's Web site, Re is being held on $20,000 bail and due at the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach on Tuesday.

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