By Tom Momberg
After being advised by the Federal Aviation Administration that an individual was directing a laser at several aircraft as they took off and landed at LaGuardia Airport Monday evening, the NYPD dispatched an aviation unit to blanket the area in search of the source, the Police Department said.
While conducting their canvass in a helicopter, Detective Richard Mardarello and Officer Royston Charles, of the NYPD Aviation Unit, saw the green laser pointer coming from the window of an apartment unit at 2801 Coddington Ave., in the Bronx. The officers were able to precisely pinpoint the exact floor and window from which the laser was coming from, the department said.
After alerting the 45th Precinct in the Bronx, whose officers were able to conduct an investigation, later arriving at the door of Apt. 3 of the Coddington Avenue building, according to police.
The Bronx officers were invited inside the apartment by an elderly woman. Once inside, the investigating officers saw a small black cylindrical device on the top of the refrigerator labeled “Laser 303.”
Police then came across the woman’s 36-year-old son, who live in the apartment and after being questioned, said he had used the device that evening, the NYPD said in a release. Officers placed him under arrest and transported him to the precinct to be processed, the police said.
During their investigation, officers determined that an Air Canada pilot sustained injuries to his eyes, as did Mardarello and Charles. The commercial airliner pilot was treated for injuries at a Toronto hospital. The officers were treated for injuries and released from the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai. The investigation is still ongoing.
The Bronx man, Frank Egan, is alleged by police to have caused those injuries, the NYPD said.
Egan is being charged with two counts of assaulting a police officer, three counts of felony assault, two counts of menacing, three counts of reckless endangerment and three counts of criminal possession of a weapon, according to police sources.
The suspect was arraigned in Bronx Criminal Court Tuesday and was released on $5,000 bail or $15,000 bond, the NYPD said. Egan denied all the allegations, according to the police.
The legal power limit of laser pointers is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration at 5 milliwatts. The 303-milliwatt laser found in Egan’s apartment well exceeded that limit, the NYPD said.
Hundreds to thousands of complaints are filed every year, related to laser pointers being directed at aircraft in New York City.
Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomb