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Federal charge filed against man accused of aiming laser at Pasco sheriff's helicopter

Ryan Fluke is accused of aiming a laser pointer at a helicopter that was assisting Pasco County deputies on Dec. 5, 2017, temporarily blinding the pilot. [Pasco County Sheriff's Office]
Ryan Fluke is accused of aiming a laser pointer at a helicopter that was assisting Pasco County deputies on Dec. 5, 2017, temporarily blinding the pilot. [Pasco County Sheriff's Office]
Published Jan. 30, 2018

TAMPA — Federal authorities have opened a criminal case against a Pasco County man accused of shining a laser in December at sheriff's pilots who responded by landing their helicopter and making an arrest.

Ryan Fluke, 27, of Port Richey, appeared in federal court Monday on a charge of aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft, punishable by up to five years in prison.

A judge released him on a $10,000 bond into the custody of his mother, according to records filed Tuesday.

He was initially arrested Dec. 5 by the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, after an aviation unit reported a blinding red flash of light from the ground.

"I got a guy lasering us pretty bad," co-pilot Stephen Bowman said in a cockpit video later made public.

A federal grand jury indicted Fluke on Jan. 24. He has pleaded not guilty to a similar charge in state court.