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VIDEO: Duke catches laser-strike suspect on camera, leads to felony arrest

A 41-year-old man was arrested after discharging a laser at Duke 1 pilots as they patrolled over San Juan Capistrano Wednesday night.

Duke 1 video captures a man standing outside his car firing the laser at Duke multiple times while the helicopter was overhead at about 7:30 p.m. Jan. 10.

Pilots kept tabs on the man, guiding patrol deputies to his location as he drove toward the 5 freeway. The suspect was contacted by deputies and taken into custody without incident.  

Farhad Naghipour, 41, of Irvine, was arrested on suspicion of felony discharging a laser at an aircraft.

Although OCSD’s pilots are trained to avert their eyes and aircraft from a laser shot, as they did on Wednesday night, these devices pose a serious threat to pilots.  

Some may think these devices appear too small to have a significant impact on an aircraft thousands of feet in the air, but the infrared beam from even a small laser expands as the light projects into the sky.

If the laser shot hits the glass of an aircraft in just the right way, the light refracts, illuminating the inside of the aircraft and potentially disorienting the pilots. Or, if the laser hits the pilot at the right angle, the beam can cause retina damage, headaches, and flash-blindness.

Pointing these devices at an aircraft is a felony in California and became a federal offense in 2012, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, which tracks laser incidents across the country.

In March 2015, a man was sentenced to 14 years in prison after pointing a laser at a law enforcement helicopter in Fresno. The stiff penalty, officials said at the time, was handed down in an attempt to discourage others from engaging in the practice.