A man who pointed a green laser at an aircraft belonging to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) and who later told deputies that he “wanted to go to jail” was arrested on a variety of charges, including possession of marijuana and methamphetamine, and pointing a laser light at a pilot.
HCSO Public Relations Manager Denise Moloney said that Deputy Pilot Roy McLaughlin and Tactical Flight Officer (TFO) B.J. Hart were conducting a proactive patrol flight in Air-1 near Commercial Way and County Line Road in Spring Hill around 2 a.m. on Jan. 7 when a green laser light struck the aircraft.
Hart used the aircraft’s technology to determine that the laser had been pointed at the helicopter by someone located behind the Circle K convenience store at 16200 County Line Road, Spring Hill, in Pasco County.
While Hart directed patrol deputies to that location, the suspect continued to fire the laser at the aircraft.
The suspect fled the area on an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), but Hart was able to spot the suspect, later identified as 47-year-old David Dean, when he attempted to hide in a cluster of trees.
HCSO patrol deputies and deputies from the PASCO County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO), who also responded to the scene, located Dean on Shady Hills Road, just south of Fridge Tree Drive.
Dean initially denied training the laser on the aircraft and told deputies that a man on a bicycle was responsible for doing it.
Just before his arrest, deputies searched Dean and found a baggie containing a crystal-like substance that field tested positive for the presence of methamphetamine in the pocket of his jacket.
Near the ATV, they also found a backpack belonging to Dean that contained a laser that displayed a green light. They also found a substance that field tested positive for marijuana.
When deputies asked Dean about the laser, he said he was “just messing around.” He also told them that he wanted to be taken to jail.
Deputies arrested Dean and booked him into the Pasco County Detention Center on charges of pointing a laser light at a driver or pilot, possession of marijuana, and possession of a controlled substance.
The case is pending.