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Sheriff's helicopter hit with laser in search for missing child

The Hernando County Sheriff's Office arrested a man for pointing a laser at a helicopter. (Hernando County Sheriff's Office)

A man is accused of pointing a laser at a sheriff's helicopter during a critical search for a missing child in Florida.

It happened Saturday night in Hernando County, minutes after the air crew spotted the missing child.

The sheriff's office said someone zapped the helicopter with the laser five times, interfering with the crew's ability to see and direct crews to the missing boy.

The crew had been using Forward Looking Infrared, or FLIR, and when a laser is viewed through that technology, it can be dangerous to people in the air and on the ground, the sheriff's office said.

After helping ground teams find the missing child, the helicopter crew then directed deputies to the source of the laser.

Deputies responded to a home in Weeki Wache and arrested a man who admitted to shining the laser at the air crew, according to the sheriff's office. The suspect, 35-year-old Eric D. Harper, told deputies, "I didn't know it was a crime, I'm sorry."

Authorities arrested Harper on a charge of pointing a laser light at driver or pilot. He's being held on a $5,000 bond.

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