Saturday, January 25, 2020

He pointed a laser at airplanes landing at Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport (KSRQ) - they were not his only target

Charlie James Chapman Jr., 42

SARASOTA, Florida (WWSB) - Deputies have arrested 41-year-old Charlie Chapman Jr. after he allegedly pointed lasers at pilots as they attempted to land planes at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.

Airport police said two airplanes were struck by the laser as they landed.

The first was a Cessna 172 Skyhawk that was struck multiple times just before 7:30 p.m. The student pilot who was practicing at the time told deputies that the laser hit him directly in the eyes and caused temporary blindness and that he still felt that his eyesight was blurry from the laser.

The second pilot was hit less than an hour later, but this time, it was a commercial United plane that can carry 150 passengers.

“The affect of that laser light, hitting inside the cockpit and temporarily disorienting them or causing temporary vision impairment, which impedes upon their ability to safely land that aircraft,” said SRQ Airport Police Chief Ted Kohuth of how dangerous this can be.

Thankfully, both planes landed safely, but this is a severe issue that officials said is only becoming more frequent.

“Over the past few years there has been an uptick in the reports of individuals intentionally pointing a laser at an aircraft," explained Chief Kohuth. "During calendar year 2020, now we’re only a few weeks into calendar year 2020, we’ve had five reports, including the two last night of an aircraft being intentionally struck by a laser.”

Deputies said that they found Chapman in the 8200 block of 25th Court East in Sarasota. This location is a cinder block company within close proximity to the airport.

In helicopter video released by deputies, it appears Chapman also points the laser at the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) helicopter when they were searching for him. Deputies said after he pointed the laser at them, he then began throwing rocks into the air towards the helicopter.

According to deputies on the ground, when they made contact with Chapman, he grabbed a hammer and made a striking motion towards them. Deputies said they tased Chapman twice to stop him.

Reports from law enforcement state a laser pointer was found in his right pants pocket. Chapman was taken to the Lakewood Ranch Medical Center and after he was cleared, he was transported to the Manatee County Jail.

Deputies said they later learned that Chapman shot his laser pointer on a fixed wing plane four times and one time at the MCSO helicopter.

Chapman remains in the Manatee County Jail where deputies said he is being charged with aggravated assault on an officer, pointing laser at pilot with injury, pointing laser at pilot without injury, and resisting without violence.

Story and video ➤

A 42-year-old Manatee County man was arrested after he pointed a laser light at airplanes that were landing at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies, including those in the sheriff’s office helicopter, responded to the airport about 7:15 p.m. Wednesday. The suspect, later identified as Charlie James Chapman Jr., pointed the laser light at the helicopter, the sheriff’s office said.

Video shot from the helicopter shows the laser light hitting the chopper. Chapman is then seen picking something up from the ground — more than once — and making a throwing motion at the helicopter, according to the sheriff’s office.

Deputies on the ground were directed to Chapman’s location where he was arrested, but not without further incident.

Deputies say Chapman grabbed a hammer and “made a striking motion,” as they approached.

Chapman was struck with a taser, which put him on the ground. Deputies say they found the laser pointer in his pocket.

“One of the pilots advised that the laser hit him directly in the eyes, causing temporary blindness,” the sheriff’s office reported.

Chapman was booked into the Manatee County jail on charges of aggravated assault on an officer, pointing a laser at pilot with injury, pointing a laser at pilot without injury and resisting arrest without violence.

SRQ Police Chief Ted Kohuth sent out a prepared statement following the arrest, noting that a Cessna Skyhawk was struck multiple times by the laser between 7:25 p.m. and 8:17 p.m. as the pilot was practicing takeoff and landing.

Just before 9 p.m., an inbound United Airbus A320 reported an “intentional laser strike,” and described by the pilot as “intense.”

“Aiming a laser at an aircraft is a serious safety risk and violates state and federal law,” Kohuth said. “Many high-powered lasers can completely incapacitate pilots who are responsible to fly safely to their destinations and may be carrying hundreds of passengers.”

Story and video ➤


  1. This guy needs a girlfriend ... Prison type girlfriend. 25 year relationship would be great for him.

  2. Great restraint by the officers here ... I would have shot his stupid a## ..

  3. I've only been flying for 4 years and I've already been painted by green lasers 4 times - over Blythe, FFZ, just over the ridge from HND and last time just west of PAN - so I'd agree with the sentiment that this is an increasing problem.
    Maybe I'm just lucky.

  4. He needs to be permanently blinded by a laser. Nuff said.

  5. Call it what it is..., another third world half-human bent on bringing our country down to his cesspool of life. The best part is that he/it was using our technology to ruin normal life.

  6. Give this primate its due. It's able to stand up on it's hind legs and
    aim a laser with its fore-paws. It may well be able to croak some semblance of the English language, which might make it eligible for
    university acceptance in an affirmative-action doctorate program.

  7. Did meff rune his teef? LOL!

  8. Man, I thought dem gold plated teef.

  9. Some of these last comments display the true ills of our 'society' ... It is sad ... So much hate.