Sheriff investigating reports of laser pointers targeting local aircraft

Published 9:30 am Thursday, September 8, 2022

Vernon Parish Sheriff Sam Craft reported on Wednesday that his office is assisting Fort Polk personnel in an investigation into repeated incidents involving laser pointers and spotlights reportedly targeting aircraft flying through the local area.

According to Craft, his office first became involved in the investigation Tuesday morning when Fort Polk officials contacted VPSO at about 12:46 a.m. regarding an airplane that was traveling from Alexandria to DeRidder that had been hit with “a spotlight and a green laser.”

Once authorities obtained coordinates to the area of the incident, it was determined the incident occurred in the Providence area of the parish.

As the investigation got underway, Craft said Houston-area air traffic controllers reported two prior incidents within the past week that occurred in the same area involving lasers being pointed at aircraft.

“At the time of the incidents, the aircraft were traveling at an altitude of 28,000 and 30,000 feet when they were hit with the laser,” Craft said.

Pointing lasers or similar beams at aircraft is strictly prohibited by Federal law, and Craft said he is taking the matter very seriously. He said officials are now prepared to utilize advanced technology that will mark the exact incident location, should another incident occur, so that authorities may respond immediately.

Anyone convicted of engaging in such activity could face fines and up to five years in prison.

“The Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office will continue to work closely with Fort Polk officials and air traffic controllers in an effort to identify the person or persons responsible for these incidents so that they can be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Craft said.