Police say man pointed laser at helicopter, facing felony charge

February 22, 2019 GMT

Spokane County Sheriff’s deputies on Wednesday arrested a man on suspicion of shining a laser pointer at a law enforcement helicopter flying over Spokane Valley.

The pilots of the helicopter identified the address, and at 10:30 p.m. when deputies knocked on the door of the house, at the 300 block of Dishman-Mica Road, Janson L. McElfish, 41, was holding the laser pointer in his hand, according to a news release.

McElfish said he was playing with the laser outside and pointing it at trees. He moved the laser toward the top of a tree and accidentally pointed it at “something in the air and then pointed it at an aircraft flying overhead,” the news release stated.

He said he didn’t think it would reach the helicopter.

McElfish faces one charge of unlawful discharge of a laser, a felony.

“Pointing a laser at any aircraft is a felony under Washington State law, and anyone caught committing this extremely dangerous act will be arrested and potentially even face federal charges,” the news release stated.

McElfish was released from Spokane County Jail as of Thursday, according to jail records.

Pointing lasers at helicopters isn’t new for the sheriff’s office. A man was arrested in 2016, also for pointing a laser at a helicopter in Spokane Valley.