A 33-year-old Michigan man could have ended up with a fine or jail time for pointing a laser at a police helicopter. For having swapped out the laser for a rifle, he ended up dead.
The gunman recently moved into a derelict home on Terry Street, north of Detroit’s downtown. He can be seen in newly released footage peering out a second-floor window just before 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, pointing a laser at a police helicopter, which had been patrolling the neighborhood.
“If the pilot had been blinded and crashed into this neighborhood, it would have been a lot worse,” 1st Lt. Mike Shaw, MSP, told WJBK. “Anybody that thinks that that’s a joke or you’re just trying to see what would happen, the potential there is bringing that aircraft down.”
Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft is a federal crime (18 U.S. Code § 39A) carrying a maximum penalty of five years in prison or a $250,000 fine.
According to the Michigan State Police, officers in the airborne unit notified Detroit Regional Communication Center that they were being hit by a green laser.
The man quickly swapped out the laser for bullets and made made his way outside.
“Now there’s somebody standing at the back door. Right now, they’re in the backyard,” the pilot said. “He actually might — he might be armed. He almost looks like he’s holding a long gun pointed at us right now. Yeah, he’s shooting at us right now. He’s firing rounds. He’s got a long gun, extended magazine.”
The gunman fired at the helicopter multiple times. Hot shell casings and muzzle flashes appear pronounced in the police footage owing to the helicopter camera’s thermal imaging.
The gunman then retreated inside and reportedly resumed firing at police from the second floor of the house.
Troopers from Metro South post responded, approaching the residence on foot, said police. The suspect reportedly turned his fire on them, but the troopers proved to be the better shots.
Neither the troopers nor the helicopter were hit in the incident. The suspect’s apparent last stand was final.
Shaw said, “The suspect was hit and went down. We had our emergency support team show up, and went up to approach the house. There were concerns because he was still armed and was laying there.”
KTXS reported that six firearms, including the one the suspect had used to fire on the police chopper, were found at the scene.
Shaw noted that they also found “ammunition stashes throughout the home as if it were set up for some type of ambush or security purposes or whatever.”
MSP noted that the two troopers involved in the incident have nine and two years of service experience respectively, and both are presently on leave.
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