According to the article, video footage caught Charlie James Chapman Jr. pointing a laser at multiple aircraft and attempting to throw objects at them as well.
While a simple laser pointer may not seem like much of a threat, if it is powerful and happens to shine directly into a pilot’s eye, it can cause flash blindness and jeopardize the lives of everyone on board the aircraft.
One of the pilots was allegedly blinded temporarily by the laser light. He claims to have ongoing vision problems, including blurred vision, as a result of the laser being shined directly into his eye.
The release also states Chapman Jr. aimed a laser at a Manatee County Sheriff’s helicopter that was responding to the incident.
NBC News reported that when the police apprehended the 41-year-old, he made striking motions with a hammer, leading the arresting officers to use a taser on him.
“Chapman shot his laser pointer on a fixed wing plane four times and one time at the MCSO helicopter,” said a police officer at the scene.
Once the accused was apprehended, they found the laser pointer in his right front pocket.
People on social media had varying reactions to the news. The majority were shocked by Chapman’s actions until they saw he was from Florida, which prompted several “Florida man” jokes. A few people posted the famous GIF of Bugs Bunny sawing Florida off of the United States.
“They got nothing better to do than point lasers in the sky? Trying to cause a plane crash? People are idiots!” wrote one Twitter user.
“At some point the statement ‘A Florida man went about their day, doing nothing interesting’ will be a news story,” added another person.
“Sound like someone in need of a straitjacket. To do that is completely nuts,” a third individual tweeted.
Several users didn’t think his sentencing was harsh enough, considering he put the lives of every passenger on the airplane in danger.
“People who do this should be charged with attempted murder for each person onboard [sic] and sentenced accordingly,” wrote a fourth user.
The sheriff’s office reports that Chapman was taken to a Manatee County jail and has been charged with aggravated assault on an officer, along with multiple counts of pointing a laser and resisting arrest.