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Former O'Fallon resident sentenced for pointing laser at police helicopter

Former O'Fallon resident sentenced for pointing laser at police helicopter

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A federal judge sentenced former O'Fallon resident Michael Brandon Smith, 36, to two years' probation, two months' home confinement and 40 hours of community service for pointing a laser at a police helicopter.

Smith appeared before U.S. District Judge Jean C. Hamilton Thursday morning after pleading guilty in November to one felony count of aiming the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft.

According to court documents, a St. Louis Metro Air Support police helicopter on routine patrol May 18, 2012, was dispatched about 10 p.m. in response to a call about a possible burglary at Ostmann Elementary School, 200 Meriwether Lewis Drive, and was struck several times by a green laser beam, affecting the vision of the pilot and observer. The helicopter proceeded toward the direction of the beam and was struck again.

The pilot and observer determined the beam came from a residence in the 2700 block of Red Cedar Parc Drive South in O'Fallon where they saw Smith standing in his driveway with a laser pointer in his hand. O'Fallon police responded and also saw a laser pointer in Smith's hand. He was arrested and the laser seized.

Smith allegedly told police he had been drinking and playing around with the laser and pointed it at the helicopter. The police observer in the helicopter reported he had short-term vision problems as a result of the laser strike.

The case was investigated by O'Fallon police and the FBI and handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Howard Marcus.

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