Flight crew says suspect shot at Tampa police helicopter

Tampa, Florida -- A Tampa Police flight crew reportedly dodged gun fire from a suspect on the ground early this morning.

The pilot said it was the mounted camera and his fellow flight crew member who captured the suspect shooting at them while they were hovering over a scene.

"A call went out for shots heard," police pilot Mark McCann said.

Then it was shots seen as Thomas Hearld allegedly opened fire toward them.

"We see him point the gun, on the video you see the muzzle flare."

Technical Flight Officer Chris Shepard described it as a shock. "A shock -- never happened to me before," he said.

The crew is used to things like pursuits, searches, and rescues. "The helicopter saves lives, street officers, and civilian lives."

But this isn't the first time a Bay area crew's been threatened. Last weekend, the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office says a teenager pointed a laser at its helicopter crew.

"When you shine a laser, you can blind the pilot and blind pilots don't fly helicopters very well," said McCann.

Shepard said, "It could be devastating. This is not a game."

The video is being withheld, because this is an ongoing investigation.


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