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Charges filed after DPS helicopter hit by laser

HOUSTON – A Houston man is facing federal charges stemming from a June incident involving a laser pointer being aimed at a Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter.

Court records show the incident happened in June, but an indictment wasn’t handed down until the end of August.

Court records read Bryan Aldana was arrested this week and released on bond after pleading not guilty. KPRC tried to speak with Aldana at an address listed on his driver’s license but did not receive a response. A woman stating she was a family member of Aldana’s later called KPRC and said she would pass the request along to him.

A call to his attorney has also not yet been returned. DPS officials also declined comment, citing the ongoing investigation and that the case is being handled by the FBI.

The FBI is in charge of investigating incidents of lasers targeting aircraft. The problem became so rampant, the Bureau launched an initiative four years ago to crackdown on these incidents.

Just in the first six months of this year, the Federal Aviation Administration logged 2,797 reported incidents nationwide, 314 were reported in Texas, with 75 reported in Houston.

“It's not a joke, it's not funny, it's a federal crime,” said Christina Garza, spokesperson for the FBI’s Houston office.

Garza could not comment on the current case, but said a lot of people don't realize what can happen when a laser pointer hits the inside of a cockpit.

“It might be a small little point of light to you, but once it's projected onto an aircraft it becomes a blinding light,” said Garza. “God forbid that something terrible happens and that plane crashes.”

Garza said something else people don't consider -- if you're caught aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft, the penalty is up to five years in federal prison.

“A lot of them do think it's funny, they think it's a joke, they want to see how far that laser can go,” said Garza.