Thermal teen accused of pointing laser at Sheriff Helicopter

Police arrest suspect Thursday night in Coachella after pilots reported the incident to units on the ground

POSTED: 07:54 AM PST Feb 15, 2013    UPDATED: 09:28 AM PST Feb 15, 2013 
Riverside County Sheriffs Department helicopter

A Thermal teenager was released from jail early Friday morning after police accused him of pointing a hand-held laser at a Riverside County Sheriff's Department helicopter.

No one was injured in the incident.

The helicopter was flying over Coachella at 8:00 p.m. Thursday to assist Indio police when the flight crew noticed a laser beam lighting up the aircraft's cockpit.

A statement from the sheriff's department said the helicopter crew directed ground units to a home on the 53100 block of Calle Los Hermanos in Coachella where officers found Christian Torres, 18, in possession of a laser device.

Officers arrested Torres and booked him into the Riverside County Jail in Indio on $25,000 bail.  He was charged with a felony count of pointing a laser at an aircraft.

A court date for Torres is set for April.

The sheriff's department said in it's statement, pointing a laser at an aircraft can temporarily blind the pilot and distract the flight crew.

Anyone with any information about this incident is urged to contact the Coachella Police Department, at (760) 863-8990, or they can call in anonymously at (760) 341-STOP (7867).