A 36-year-old Berkeley man has been charged with allegedly pointing a laser at an airplane.
Saul Martinez Castanon faces two misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct for his alleged actions. Castanon was arrested Thursday, June 22 after an Illinois State Police plane was targeted with a laser pointer.
State Police note that laser pointers have been a national issue for aviators for several years. When pointed into an aircraft cockpit, the light can temporarily blind pilots as they navigate airspace or land aircraft.
“Targeting aircraft with a laser pointer creates a safety threat that can put the lives of hundreds of passengers at risk,” said Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly. “Our ISP Air Operations did a phenomenal job identifying the source of the light and working with officers on the ground to arrest the suspect.”
At 9:45 p.m. Thursday ISP Air-6 troopers, a spotter and a pilot, were participating in Special Operations Group Operation Safe Drive. While in the air, they reported being contacted by a laser pointer from the ground. Troopers used the aircraft camera and identified a residential yard on the 1200 block of Sunnyside Drive in Berkeley as the likely source of the light.
Intelligence from the Federal Aviation Administration revealed several aircraft department from both Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports, including commercial aircraft carrying hundreds of passengers, reported the same issue from a similar geographic origin.
State Police Anti-Violence Enforcement Unit troopers on the ground and the Berkeley Police Department were alerted and arrived at the alleged residence where the laser originated and took Martinez Castanon into custody without incident.
The Berkeley man was charged with disorderly conduct (laser pointer vs. law enforcement officer) and disorderly conduct (laser pointer vs. aircraft).