May 24, 2019

Glendale Man Arrested on Federal Charges of Shooting Laser Pointer at Helicopter Operated by the City of Riverside

RIVERSIDE, CA—A Glendale man was arrested on Monday, May 20, 2019, on federal charges of intentionally aiming a laser pointer at a law enforcement helicopter.

Ronnie Ruben Kaplan, 35, of Glendale, was taken into custody without incident by special agents with the FBI who had been seeking his whereabouts for several months.

Kaplan was named in an indictment returned on November 14, 2018, by a federal grand jury in Riverside. The indictment alleges one count of aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft, a felony offense that carries a penalty of up to five years in federal prison.

On or about October 13th, 2015, Kaplan is alleged to have aimed the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft; namely, a helicopter owned by the city of Riverside and operated by pilots with the Riverside Police Department.

Following the alleged laser attack, law enforcement successfully tracked the source of the laser to a suspect identified as Kaplan.

Kaplan was in federal court on Monday afternoon for an initial appearance before a federal magistrate judge in Riverside and was granted bail.

The investigation into Kaplan was conducted by the Riverside Police Department and the FBI.

Reports of laser attacks have increased dramatically in the past decade as laser devices have become more affordable and widely available to the public. In addition, technology has improved the effectiveness of laser devices, resulting in an increase in the potential safety hazards for pilots operating aircraft, as well as their passengers and crew. Such safety hazards include temporary distraction and impaired vision, which is particularly dangerous during the critical takeoff or landing phase of flight. California consistently leads the nation in reports of laser attacks.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.