Arundel man charged in laser incident

THE BALTIMORE SUN

A regional task force has found that terrorism was not the motive in a New Year's Eve incident in which someone pointed a high-powered laser at an Anne Arundel County police helicopter that was conducting a low-flying search.

This week, Anne Arundel County police arrested Edward W. Pannell, 38, of the 300 block of Eva Ave. in Linthicum and charged him with two counts each of reckless endangerment and using a laser pointer in a harassing manner, said county police spokesman Lt. Joseph E. Jordan.

Police say the incident occurred as county officers were tracking a person who fled a serious auto accident near Magothy Bridge Road in Pasadena.

Jordan said the pilot and co-pilot of the helicopter were forced to end their search after their vision was impaired by an intense green light.

Officers searched the area for the person responsible and arrested Pannell.

No one was injured, but Jordan said that shining a laser at an aircraft could have catastrophic results because the intense beams can cause temporary vision problems for pilots.

"Obviously, he didn't understand the risk involved," Jordan said. "It's very, very dangerous to distract the pilot, even for a second."

Jordan said county police delayed charging Pannell until the case could be reviewed by the Baltimore Joint Terrorism Task Force, a group that includes members of the Maryland State Police and the FBI.

Baltimore FBI spokesman Barry Maddox said yesterday that the task force could find no link between the case and any terrorist group or activities.

The incident occurred two days after a man pointed a green laser at a Cessna Citation jet as it approached a New Jersey airport.

In that instance, police arrested David Banach, 38, of Parsippany, N.J.

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