Toronto

Ajax teen arrested in laser incident

A 19-year-old man from Ajax, Ont., faces several charges Saturday after allegedly pointing a hand-held laser beam at an aircraft.

A 19-year-old man from Ajax, Ont., faces several charges Saturday after allegedly aiming a hand-held laser pointer at an aircraft.

Durham Region police said that the targeted aircraft was one of their helicopters.

Police said the helicopter was flying at an altitude of 365 meters over Ajax helping officers find a suspected drunk driver when they were hit with an intense green light from below.

Police said the pointer emitted a type of laser light that can burn through eyelids and blind people even if their eyes are closed.

The pilot had to take immediate evasive action to avoid the laser strikes, but the light followed the chopper.

The crew used an on-board infrared camera to pinpoint the location of the beam and found the suspect in the backyard of a house in Ajax.

Charges against Brendon Schownwald include obstructing police and endangering life under Canadian Aviation regulations.

Police say more and more people are using laser pointers lasers to distract pilots.

Pearson airport reports one to two incidents a week.

With files from the Canadian Press and Michelle Cheung

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