Border protection chopper pilot hit in eye with laser during training exercise

BELLINGHAM. Wash. — One of two pilots flying a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Blackhawk helicopter was hurt when a laser was pointed at his eye in Bellingham Wednesday.

Deputies were called to the area of East Cliffside Drive around 9 p.m. The pilots said they were performing a series of training approaches at the airport when on their final two approaches, a laser was aimed at their cockpit.

The pilots said it was coming from the backyard of a home in the 3900 block of E Cliffside Dr.

A neighbor, who also saw the laser coming from a backyard, said it was pointed at the helicopter for a sustained time and told deputies they were certain of the address where it came from.

Deputies went to the home and spoke with a 34-year-old man. Police said he denied owning a laser or pointing one at a helicopter.

Deputies said the man changed his story when they discovered he had a laser pointer. He was arrested for investigation of first-degree unlawful discharge of a laser.

The pilot who was hit in the eye with the laser sought medical treatment.