Two Orange County men faced federal charges after allegedly pointing lasers at law enforcement helicopters in separate incidents, the FBI announced Thursday.
Brett Wayne Parkins, 42, of Huntington Beach, was arrested Wednesday in connection with a July 25 incident in which he allegedly aimed the beam of a laser at a Huntington Beach police helicopter, officials said.
He is scheduled to appear in federal court Thursday and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
In a separate case, Eric Jayson Suarez, 47, of Santa Ana, allegedly pointed a laser at an Orange County Sheriff’s Department helicopter on April 3, according to an indictment returned by a federal grand jury. He was arrested on Oct. 13.
A week later, prosecutors filed a plea agreement with Suarez and he agreed to plead guilty to the charge. He will formally enter his guilty plea this month and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, officials said. Currently, Suarez remains in custody without bail.
Intentionally aiming lasers at aircraft is against the law and is a safety threat to pilots, officials reminded residents.
Laser strikes increased last year, despite a lower number of air traffic operations, the FBI noted, citing the Federal Aviation Administration.
The FAA reported 6,852 laser incidents in 2020, up from 6,136 the previous year. The agency noted it’s the highest reported number of incidents since 2016.