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Palmetto man arrested for shining a laser at Manatee County sheriff’s helicopter

Manatee County

A Palmetto man was arrested for shining a laser light at a sheriff’s helicopter on Wednesday.

Just after 9:30 p.m., the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office helicopter flew over the Palms at Riviera Dunes Apartment building off of Haben Boulevard when suddenly, a laser was aimed into the cockpit.

The pilot quickly spotted three people on a balcony and in the video, one man is shining the laser.

“Its obvious that some people don’t stop and think about just what can happen by doing that,” said MCSO spokesman Randy Warren.

Officials say when a laser pointer hits a windshield, the glass diffuses the light. It can temporarily blind the pilot, potentially hurt the pilot’s eyesight and it could put the crew in danger.

“Very dangerous, it’s a very irresponsible thing for anybody to do,” said Warren. 

The pilot gave the location and within minutes, deputies arrived and 22-year-old Vladimir Altman was arrested.

Altman was surprised and claimed he didn’t know it was a sheriff’s helicopter.

“They were a little scared when deputies arrived,” said Warren.

But this is no minor offense. Altman was charged with a felony.

Not only could he face fines, he could face time in prison.

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