Home Las Vegas Press Releases 2014 Henderson Man Charged with Aiming Laser Pointer at Police Helicopter

Henderson Man Charged with Aiming Laser Pointer at Police Helicopter

U.S. Attorney’s Office February 19, 2014
  • District of Nevada (703) 388-6336

LAS VEGAS—A Henderson, Nevada man has been indicted by a federal grand jury for aiming a laser pointer at a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) helicopter on six occasions during January and February 2014, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.

James David Zipf, 30, is charged with six counts of aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft on January 30, January 31, February 3, February 7, February 8, and February 12, 2014 and is scheduled to appear before United States Magistrate Judge Nancy J. Koppe, at 3:00 p.m. today for an initial appearance and arraignment and plea. If convicted, Zipf faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on each count.

“Congress enacted a new federal statute in 2012 dealing with laser strikes, which makes it a felony to knowingly target an aircraft with a laser,” said U.S. Attorney Bogden. “We have partnered with our local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to catch individuals who are engaging in this dangerous behavior, which can disorient and temporarily blind a pilot. If you have information about a lasing incident or see someone pointing a laser at an aircraft, call your local FBI field office or dial 911.

Since the FBI and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began tracking laser strikes in 2005, statistics reflect a more than 1,100 percent increase in the deliberate targeting of aircraft by people with handheld lasers. In 2013, there were a total of 3,960 laser strikes reported—an average of almost 11 incidents per day.

This case is being investigated by the FBI and LVMPD, and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Yang.

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

- Related FBI.gov story: Protecting Aircraft from Lasers: New Program Offers Rewards for Information

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