Fresno man sentenced for shooting laser at CHP plane

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Monday, November 3, 2014

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- According to court documents, the CHP plane was hit up to 50 times by a powerful green laser pointer.

Andrew Zarate, 20, of Fresno was sentenced to one year in prison and two years of supervised release on Friday after he was convicted of pointing a powerful green laser at a CHP plane. Co-defendant David Walter, 22, of Fresno was sentenced in September to 18 months in prison.

The laser attacks resulted in the pilot suffering from temporary blindness, forcing the plane to break away from a burglary in progress at a Fresno middle school.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, in 2013, there were 3,960 reported incidents nationwide of laser strikes on aircraft cockpits. The Fresno Yosemite International Airport reported the highest number of laser illuminations followed by the airports in Bakersfield and Sacramento. This year, there have been 115 laser strikes per month in this district, with Fresno leading in the number of reported laser incidents.

The case was the result of an investigation by the FBI's Fresno Office, California Highway Patrol, and Fresno Police Department.

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