Someone pointed a laser at a Philadelphia Police Department helicopter twice on Monday night from a Temple University dorm.
Police officers then photographed the building from which the laser came, and Lt. David Bonk tweeted out a picture of the dorm, tagging Temple University and Temple police in the process.
“Attention @TempleUniv student on top floor: pointing lasers at #TacAir is illegal,” Bonk, who was in the chopper, tweeted at 11:34 p.m. Monday.
“‘Lucky’for them it was #TacAir and not a medivac with a critical patient on board,” Bonk later tweeted about the incident.
Bonk also said via Twitter that the same person shot the laser twice at the helicopter.
Related link:Man charged with pointing laser at police helicopter
“We take this very seriously,” Lt. John Stanford of the Philadelphia Police Department said Tuesday. “It’s not a game.”
According to Stanford, officers in the TacAir helicopter did not actively investigate the incident because after the laser was shot at them, they could not identify the specific window that was the origin of the laser beam.
“Unfortunately last night, we weren’t able to loop around fast enough to grab the individual responsible for it,” Stanford said.”It’s not one of the things where you want to go in and start kicking down doors in thatbuilding.”
Temple released a statement to all residential students Tuesday regarding the incident.
“The use of laser pointers on aircraft can be dangerous for those in the air and on the ground. Anyone found responsible could face both criminal and university penalties,” the statement said. “Anyone with information about this is asked to contact Temple Police at 215-204-1234.”
The laser originated from Morgan Hall, a dorm that is home to mostly freshmen and some athletes.
If caught, the person who shot the laser would face federal prosecution, as pointing lasers at aircraft is a federal crime.
When lasers hit glass such as the windshield of airplane or helicopter cockpits, they refract and can fill an entire cockpit with light, possibly causing blindness in the pilot.
“We’ll definitely be trying to get the person who did it,” Stanford said. “You can kill the pilots. They can’t see; next thing, they clip something … you can also kill people on the ground if it crashes.”
The TacAir copter was on routine patrol on Monday evening, standing by to assist officers on street duty with its powerful spotlight, Stanford said.