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Sheriff's Office: Man arrested for pointing laser at HCSO aircraft

The man told deputies he was "just messing around."
Credit: Hernando County Sheriff's Office

SPRING HILL, Fla. — Hernando County Sheriff's deputies arrested a man accused of pointing a green laser at a helicopter in the wee hours of Saturday morning.

Deputy Pilot Roy Mclaughlin and Tactical Flight Officer B.J. Hart of the Hernando County Sheriff's Office were conducting a proactive patrol flight in Air-1 at around 2 a.m. near Commercial Way and County Line Road in Spring Hill when the aircraft was struck by a green laser light, the sheriff's office said in a news release.

They were able to use aircraft technology to locate the person behind a Circle K convenience store on County Line Road firing the laser at them. Hart directed deputies on the ground to the person as they continued to shine the laser at the aircraft, authorities say. 

The person, later identified as David Dean, 47, fled the area on an ATV and attempted to hide in a cluster of trees. However, the technology aboard the aircraft was still able to see a subject's location.

Deputies located Dean and he was taken into custody. Upon being questioned, Dean denied firing the laser at the aircraft and blamed it on another person who was riding a bike nearby. 

"Hart confirmed that he never lost sight of the suspect, monitoring him continuously until patrol deputies arrived on scene," the sheriff's office said in a news release. 

Deputies conducted a search of Dean and found a baggie containing 8.5 grams of a crystal-like substance that tested positive for the presence of methamphetamine. A backpack was also discovered nearby that belonged to Dean, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office. Inside the bag, deputies found a laser light and a leafy green substance which was later determined to be cannabis.

The laser displayed a green light when deputies tested it. When they asked Dean about the laser, the sheriff's office said he told them he was "just messing around" and wanted to be taken to jail.

Dean was booked into the Pasco County Detention Center in Land O' Lakes. He is charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of marijuana and pointing a laser at a pilot. His bond was set at $5,000.

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