Suspect Located and Arrested After Pointing a Laser at Air 1
Spokane Valley Deputies worked with Spokane Regional Air Support Unit’s (SRASU) Air 1 flight crew members to locate a suspect who targeted the Air 1 with a green laser. The suspect was arrested for two felony counts of Unlawful Discharge of a Laser 1st Degree.
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 and fines.
On October 13, 2023, at approximately 7:55 pm, Spokane Regional Air Support Unit’s (SRASU) Air 1 was up on a regularly scheduled patrol flight when the pilot and crew received several strikes from a green laser on the ground near the area of N. Pines Road and E. Mansfield Avenue.
A laser strike to any aircraft is extremely dangerous as the laser, at a minimum, distracts pilots/crews, can momentarily blind them, and can potentially cause permanent injury depending on its strength.
NEVER point or target ANY aircraft with a laser.
Fortunately, the Air 1 flight crew was not incapacitated and guided Deputies on the ground to the male suspect, later identified as 42-year-old Johnny R. Blackstock, near N. Wilbur Road and E. Mansfield Avenue.
Blackstock was detained, advised of his rights, and declined to answer questions.
During the investigation of this incident, Deputies learned a Life Flight helicopter crew, transporting a patient through the same area, was also targeted and hit by a green laser approximately 15 minutes before the targeting of Air 1. Thankfully, the Life Flight crew successfully and safely completed their transport mission.
Blackstone was advised he was charged with two felony counts of Unlawful Discharge of a Laser 1st Degree. During a search of his person, a laser was located in his pants pocket.
Blackstone was transported and booked into the Spokane County Jail for two counts of Unlawful Discharge of a Laser 1st Degree. He remains in custody on these two charges and an unrelated felony charge of Harassment-Threat to Kill with a total bond set at $5,000 by Spokane County Superior Court Commissioner J. Stine.
Pointing/Aiming a laser at ANY aircraft is a felony crime in Washington State and, in addition, can be charged as a federal felony crime. This is an extremely dangerous and potentially life-threatening act to not only the flight crew but to people on the ground as well.
For additional information regarding Laser Strikes, please visit the Federal Aviation Administration webpage at https://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/lasers/laws.