LAKELAND, Fla. - A Lakeland man admitted pointing a laser at a Polk County Sheriff’s helicopter Sunday night as deputies were searching for a suicidal man.
Deputies were searching the Island Walk subdivision around 7:30 p.m. when a green laser light was directed at the helicopter, according to a report from the sheriff’s office.
The pilot became disoriented and the light was so intense that it disabled the crew’s night vision equipment.
The pilot had to break away from the search in order to fix his equipment, but was able to pinpoint the location of the laser to the home of 58-year-old Mark Hazlitt.
When deputies questioned Hazlitt, he admitted to shining the laser light at the helicopter because he was “tired of hearing it.”
Hazlitt was arrested and charged with misuse of a laser lighting device, a third degree felony.
"The laser used was strong enough to disrupt night vision devices, thus creating a very real danger to our air unit crew,” sheriff Grady Judd said. “He deliberately placed the lives of our pilot and flight observer in jeopardy, not to mention those on the ground searching for the endangered adult.”
The suicidal man fled the search area as deputies were relocating due to the helicopter’s inability to assist, deputies said.
He was later found and taken into protective custody.
©2007 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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