Man charged with pointing laser at helicopter calls it 'horrible, horrible mistake'

Connor Brow
Connor Brow

A Gamber man charged with shining a green laser at a Maryland State Police helicopter says he takes full responsibility for his actions and is relieved no one was seriously injured.

Connor Grant Brown, 30, of the 1200 block of Canterbury Drive, was charged with one count each of obstructing and hindering, reckless endangerment and using a laser pointer on an aircraft. He was released on his own recognizance Monday and is expected to appear in court on March 24, according to electronic court records.


In addition to those charges, Brown could also face federal charges. Both troopers have returned to work already, state police spokeswoman Elena Russo said.

While taking part in the investigation, the cockpit of the aircraft was struck by a green laser approximately eight times.

Brown said that what he did was wrong and no reasoning can explain what he called a "horrible, horrible mistake."


"If someone had gotten hurt, I don't know what I would do with myself," he said.

Brown told troopers that he was awakened by a buzzing sound. He went outside with his father to see what it was, but they couldn't tell, according to a statement of probable cause.

Brown said they used a flashlight, but the object was too far away. It had a red spinning light and made little noise, so he didn't think it was a helicopter. There are teenagers in the neighborhoods who have drones and he thought maybe one was flying too close to the house, he said.

According to the statement, Brown told troopers that the aircraft flew over the residence every minute, at some points shaking the windows. He told them he grabbed a small green-light laser from his closet and shined it at the aircraft to signal to the operator to stop flying so close to the house, according to the statement.

Sgt. Gregg Lantz, one of the troopers in the helicopter, described the laser beam as "a really big green flash."

"It's extremely bright. It lit up the inside of the helicopter," Lantz told the Times.

He's had about 12 other run-ins with lasers, but what made it different was the power of the laser. In most cases, he was dealing with a 25-milliwatt laser. The one allegedly used by Brown was 100 milliwatts, Lantz said.

Brown said the laser he used can be bought on the internet for $20. He bought it to play around and point out stars, he said.

Green laser pointers have the potential to cause eye damage, according to a 2010 study from the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The study looked at three 10-milliwatt green laser pointers that a person could buy for $15. When testing each laser output, they found that a green laser pointer could produce 10 times the amount of invisible light as green light, an issue because invisible light can cause optical damage even if a person can't see it.

The study said damage could be caused with a 10-milliwatt green laser pointer. The one allegedly used by Brown is suspected of having 10 times that power.

Lantz said he experienced spots on his vision after the laser hit the helicopter, as if he had just looked at the sun. While most sun spots disappear in a few blinks, the spots from the laser did not. He also experienced minor pain that he described to be similar to windburn.

The pilot said his vision was sandy, Lantz said.


The laser hit the helicopter's side, so Lantz and the pilot weren't looking directly at it. In order to avoid a direct hit, they flew the helicopter in orbits around Brown's residence to keep the laser to the side of the helicopter, Lantz said. The helicopter was hit by the laser about eight times, according to the statement of probable cause.

Lantz was not sure why Brown did not hear any noise, adding that the helicopter is really loud.

"You can hear it from miles and miles," he said.

While Brown said there was a possibility he was drowsy when he used the laser, he told the Times there was no excuse for what he did.

The aircraft flew closer while he was pointing the laser at it, and Brown said he then realized it was a helicopter. Then the police showed up.

"As soon as they showed up and told me what I did, my heart sank in my chest," he said.

Brown said he apologizes to everyone involved and that he never meant to hurt anyone.

"From start to finish, what I did was wrong," he said.



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