COLUMBUS (WCMH) — On the night of July 19, 2018, three different Columbus Police helicopters and a commercial aircraft on approach for a landing were all hit by a green laser.
Investigators were able to track the location of the laser and arrested 38-year-old Eugene Robinson. He was charged with multiple felony counts of interfering with the operation of an aircraft with a laser.
As part of a plea agreement, Robinson had to participate in a public service announcement about the dangers and potential penalties for pointing lasers at aircraft.
“I was handcuffed, arrested, fingerprinted, and taken to jail,” Robinson said on the video PSA. “I’m looking at 33 years of federal penitentiary time. I’d be 71. My life would be done.”
Detective Patrick Seaman said he saw the need for a public awareness campaign and pushed for Robinson’s participation.
“The vast majority of people that we’ve prosecuted and investigated for doing this don’t see it as a big deal,” Seaman said. “Almost all of them that we’ve interviewed admit it and they’re very remorseful when you lay out for them this is potentially what could happen and, oh, by the way, you’re getting charged with a second-degree felony and we could hit you with felony charges.”
Seaman said lasers have the potential to blind a pilot.
“Everybody knows you can get blinded if you look at a bright white light at night,” Seaman said. “A laser is that and magnified by a whole bunch of times.”