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Man gets sentenced for aiming laser at Metro helicopter | News

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Man gets sentenced for aiming laser at Metro helicopter

LAS VEGAS -- A Henderson man Tuesday received a two-year prison sentence for aiming a laser pointer at a Metro Police helicopter on six occasions earlier this year, Nevada's U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said.

James David Zipf, 30, pleaded guilty in June to one count of aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft. He was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Miranda Du and was permitted to self-report to prison by Dec. 30. He also must undergo mental health and substance abuse treatment.

Zipf admitted that just after midnight on Jan. 30, he aimed a blue laser four times at the helicopter from the second story window of a Green Valley house where he lived. Zipf also admitted that on the night of Feb. 3, he pointed the blue laser light two times at a police helicopter, causing one of the flight officers to experience a severe headache. 

Zipf also was convicted of pointing a similar blue laser at a police helicopter in Phoenix in 2011.

“In 2012, it became a federal felony offense to knowingly target an aircraft with a laser,” Bogden said. “This activity is extremely dangerous, and 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 Federal Aviation Administration began tracking laser strikes in 2005, statistics reflect a more than 1,100 percent increase in the deliberate targeting of aircraft by people with lasers. In 2013, there were 3,960 laser illumination incidents reported by pilots to federal authorities, an average of 10.8 incidents every night.

The case was investigated by the FBI and Metro Police, and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Yang.


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