KVUE — FBI agents arrested 25-year-old Gabriel Soza Ruedas, Jr. in Austin on Thursday for allegedly pointing a laser at an aircraft flying overhead, according to a press release from the United States Attorney's Office.
It is considered a federal crime to aim a laser pointer at an aircraft, according to a reform act that President Obama signed in 2012. On Wednesday, federal officials filed a criminal complaint charging Ruedas with violating that provision.
The complaint alleges that on February 15, 2014, Ruedas knowingly aimed the beam of a laser pointer multiple times at an APD helicopter that was about to land at the Austin airport.
"Laser strikes can pose serious risks to flight crews, passengers, and even individuals on the ground. They are a serious public safety hazard and will be treated as such by law enforcement officials," United States Attorney Robert Pitman said.
Upon conviction, Ruedas faces up to five years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine.
"Shining a laser at aircraft can temporarily blind a pilot which could result in the loss of aircraft control and human life. This case should serve as a warning to others who engage in this dangerous criminal activity. The FBI will continue to investigate and pursue prosecution of offenders who threaten aviation safety," said Christopher Combs, the FBI special agent in charge.
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