Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa man accused of shining laser at police helicopter now federally charged

TAMPA —A man whose green laser caught the attention of a Tampa police helicopter crew in February now faces a federal criminal charge.

Jeremy Wayne Sumpter, 29, who lives in the central Tampa neighborhood of Riverside Heights, was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury on a charge of aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft.

Such conduct became a crime in 2012 when President Barack Obama signed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act. The law allows a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

This appears to be the first time federal authorities in Tampa have applied the law, intended to protect pilots from distractions and even temporary blindness while flying.

According to a Tampa police report, Sumpter admitted to the offense when questioned by officers and when one of the pilots, Officer Brian Gentry, arrived in his flight suit, Sumpter asked, "Were you the one in the helicopter?"

Earlier this month, police arrested Bradley Steffes of Brandon on a similar state court charge.

Tampa man accused of shining laser at police helicopter now federally charged 06/17/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 5:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. With home demolition, Pasco begins effort to alleviate Holiday Hills flooding

    Local Government

    PORT RICHEY — Year after year, from his front porch, Jeff Ward has watched yards flood and rivers form in the streets, carrying canoes instead of cars after heavy rain.

    An excavator clears rubble from a razed home in Holiday Hills.
  2. College World Series puts Florida Gators in elite company

    Blogs

    With Tuesday night's College World Series win, the Florida Gators put themselves in rare company.

    Florida celebrates after defeating LSU in Game 2 of the College World Series finals, Tuesday, in Omaha, Neb.
  3. Pinellas sees spike in infant deaths from unsafe sleeping, and advocates are concerned

    Health

    The reports from the Department of Children and Families are tragic: A Pinellas County mother falls asleep on a recliner during an early morning feeding and wakes to find one of her 3-month-old twins unresponsive. Another finds her 6-month-old daughter lying still, a blanket over her head. Another infant is found wedged …

    Advocates are looking to step up their public information efforts this year after reports show a spike in sleep-related infant deaths in Pinellas County. [iStockphoto.com]
  4. Kellyanne Conway warns of health care spin, but then delivers her own in Miami

    Blogs

    On the same day that Senate Republicans were forced to delay a vote on their healthcare legislation because not enough of them wanted to vote for it, White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway defended the bill in Miami.

    White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway is welcomed by state Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-District 105, at the Miami-Dade GOP’s Lincoln Day fundraiser on Tuesday night.