Skip to comments.Orange County Man Convicted Of Federal Charges For Shooting Laser At Commercial Aircraft
Posted on 04/27/2009 1:30:36 AM PDT by Cindy
LOS ANGELES, CAA resident of Orange has been found guilty of willfully interfering with aircraft pilots for intentionally shooting a laser at two commercial airliners that were on approach to John Wayne Airport.
Dana Christian Welch, 37, was convicted yesterday afternoon of two felony counts, each of which carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.
The evidence presented at trial showed that Welch intentionally aimed a handheld laser at two Boeing 7-series jet airplanes that were preparing to land at John Wayne Airport on the night of May 21, 2008. The first plane, a United Airlines jet, was carrying more than 180 passengers and crew members. The second plane, operated by Alaska Airlines, was carrying more than 80 people. Welch's green laser beam entered the cockpit of the United plane, striking a pilot in the eye and causing the pilot to experience flash blindness. Welch also pointed the green laser beam into the cockpit of the Alaska plane, causing one pilot to duck under a glare shield extending from the dashboard in the cockpit and the other pilot to delay a critical turn necessary to land the plane. After he was arrested the next day, Welch admitted that he had pointed the green laser at two planes and a law enforcement helicopter that had been dispatched to investigate the incidents.
The jury that convicted Welch of shooting the laser at the United and Alaska flights acquitted him of charges that he attempted to interfere with the operators of the helicopter and a Delta Airlines flight.
While several people across the United States have pleaded guilty to federal charges of pointing lasers at aircraft, Welch is the first person in the nation to be convicted at trial of interfering with aircraft pilots by shooting lasers at their planes.
Welch is scheduled to be sentenced by Senior United States District Judge Robert J. Timlin on September 15.
With powerful technology making its way into the hands of the general public, everyone must realize that there are responsibilities associated with the use of devices than can have an impact on public safety, said United States Attorney Thomas P. OBrien. Mr. Welch ignored those responsibilities and put at risk the lives of hundreds of people.
Salvador Hernandez, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI in Los Angeles, stated: This conviction should make clear to those contemplating the targeting of cockpits with lasers that such behavior is not only dangerous, but criminal, with serious consequences attached. Pilots with the Costa Mesa Police Department and officers with the Orange Police Department should be commended for their quick response leading to this arrest. The successful federal prosecution of Welch was the result of the coordinated efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Orange Police Department, the Costa Mesa Police Department, and personnel with United Airlines, Alaska Airlines and Delta Airlines.
??? Why the 5 month delay in sentencing?
I can only speculate and my speculative opinion is it’s probably a scheduling issue.
I for the life of me don’t understand how they catch people doing this. Does anyone have any insight on how they catch people pointing lasers at ac?
I don’t know and if I knew; I wouldn’t post it.
Lasers emit a high frequency light. It is easy to detect and pinpoint the source with a laser detector.
“I dont know and if I knew; I wouldnt post it.”
Why not? It is not top secret. Besides, it might deter someone from trying.
My theory is that you have to be standing in a very select number of places to be able to shine a laser at a pilot.
The pilots call it in, the airport police go to the vacant lot at the end of the runway and arrest the perp.
It looks like he compounded malice with stupidity. He also shined his laser at a police helicopter that went to see what was happening. (Not that he could tell it was police helicopter.) The cops saw him shining the laser, had night vision equipment, and dispatched ground units while they kept him in sight.
I enjoy mucking about with lasers and other forms of potentially dangerous technology as much as the next fellow, which is why I think the judge should throw the book at this guy. Aiming a laser at an airliner is either increadibly stupid or evil. Either way, throw the book at him.
I would guess that these idiots would point the laser to the plane from their backyard. I’m sure every square inch of mother earth is being recorded by satellites from above and they just look at the beam where it contacts the ground and there you go you have the backyard of the subject.
Next time go down the block right!
My BIL is a helicopter pilot for a police department in Orange County. Lasers are a problem because they temporarily blind the pilot...if the pilot is in a crucial maneuver when that happens then something wicked can happen. IMO this guy is just one that got caught and they are spanking him accordingly.
such behavior is not only dangerous, but criminal and stupid the guy is 37 years old ah the california people never grow up.
I hope he gets the maximum for this.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.