Two men arrested for allegedly shining laser pointer at MNPD helicopter

The helicopter crew noticed a laser shining through the cockpit from separate locations on the same night.
Two men were apprehended at separate locations after the helicopter crew pointed out their locations to ground officers.
Published: May. 11, 2023 at 7:23 AM CDT|Updated: May. 11, 2023 at 10:09 AM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - The Metro Nashville Police Department’s Aviation Unit was flying over Madison on Wednesday night when the crew notice a green laser shining through the cockpit.

The helicopter was traveling at roughly 70 knots at a height of approximately 2,000 feet. It was carrying two civilian pilots and one tactical flight officer, according to the arrest report. The officer was able to quickly determine the source of the laser and directed ground units to a man entering a car and driving toward the Berkley Hills Apartments.

The helicopter crew noticed the laser continued to shine through their cockpit as the suspect was driving away, causing complete blindness at times, the report states.

MNPD said officers on the ground located the car at the apartment complex on Berkley Drive and encountered 19-year-old Hector Otoniel and two other individuals. The laser device was located in a bush in front of the vehicle, according to the arrest report.

Otoniel was interviewed and admitted to shining the laser at the MNPD helicopter, according to police. He was arrested and faces three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

The same helicopter was targeted with another laser pointer the same night, according to a separate arrest report. This time it happened while the helicopter flew over East Nashville. The crew observed the laser in the cockpit at least three times.

The source of the laser was quickly determined to be a man wearing a white shirt and red shorts, standing outside of an apartment at 141 Dellway Villa Drive, the report states. MNPD detectives on the ground converged in covert vehicles and found 25-year-old Jamale Strong still using the green laser.

While Strong was being taken into custody, he admitted to detectives that he did not know that it was illegal to shine a laser pointer at aircraft, according to police. He is also facing three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.