WINNIPEG — A possible prank? It's no laughing matter: one man is facing serious charges after a laser beam landed straight in a police helicopter pilot's eyes.

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This article was published 10/3/2011 (3921 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Winnipeg Police Service helicopter.

WAYNE.GLOWACKI@FREEPRESS.MB.CA

The Winnipeg Police Service helicopter.

WINNIPEG — A possible prank? It's no laughing matter: one man is facing serious charges after a laser beam landed straight in a police helicopter pilot's eyes.

Just after midnight early this morning, the police helicopter was buzzing near Portage Avenue and Broadway, when a bright green light from a laser pointer shot into the cockpit. The beam struck the pilot in the eyes.

Although the light continued pointing at the helicopter for a few minutes, police spokeswoman Const. Natalie Aitken said, the pilot took evasive action.

The team then tracked the source of the beam to a yard in the 200 block of Toronto Street, and notified police on the ground.

Within five minutes of the light striking the copter, a 26-year-old man had been arrested. Police recovered a laser pointer, which Aitken suggested may have been one of the stronger kind sometimes used by astronomers.

The man is facing an assault with a weapon charge, with the possibility of more charges being laid under the Aeronautics Act.

Aitken stressed that even if meant as a prank, shining a laser pointer or other bright light at an aircraft can have "catastrophic" consequences by blinding or distracting flight crew.