CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The attorney for a local teenager charged with pointing a laser at a CMPD helicopter says the alleged crime was a stupid mistake and the teen meant no harm.
Authorities call it a serious and growing problem. The FBI recently announced $10,000 rewards to help catch people who commit the crime.
19 year-old Smith Hayden Brundage is charged with two counts of use of a laser device toward an aircraft, which is a violation of both state and federal law, police say.
Brundage's attorney, Joe Ledford, says Brundage was fishing with friends Tuesday night, brought a green laser pointer with him and wanted to see if the light could reach a CMPD helicopter flying overhead near Camp Steward Road.
It did. Two people were inside the helicopter.
"Just an incredibly, incredibly dumb thing to do," Ledford said
Laser lights can cause eye damage, temporarily blind pilots, light up cockpits, create glare, wipe out night vision goggles and put pilots and passengers at risk.
"I don't believe for a moment that this young man was doing anything other than trying to determine if his laser pointer could reach out far enough to get to the helicopter," Ledford said.
"It was an incredibly poor exercise in judgment because if you put yourself in the position of those people in an airplane or helicopter, they don't know that's hitting them. It does create a potentially dangerous situation, but I can assure you he and his family are taking this very seriously."
There were 68 laser incidents last year in North Carolina, 22 so far this year including at least seven in Charlotte.
The website "Laser Pointer Forums" says they're tired of these of reports, and something bad is going to happen.
Ledford says Brundage is a good kid who told his parents and they called police.
He faces possible prosecution or a fine as consequences.
"He's ready to face up to those," Ledford said.
Ledford says none of Brundage's friends did anything wrong and had nothing to do with pointing the laser.
He is due in court Thursday.