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    United States Attorney's Office
    Central District of California

    Thom Mrozek
    Public Affairs Officer

    (213) 894-6947
    thom.mrozek@usdoj.gov



    Return to the 2010 Press Release Index
    Release No. 10-019

    January 29, 2010

    COACHELLA VALLEY MAN ARRESTED ON FEDERAL CHARGES FOR SHOOTING LASER AT CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL HELICOPTER

     

    RIVERSIDE, California – A Cathedral City man was arrested this morning after being indicted on federal charges of willfully interfering with helicopter pilots by intentionally shooting a laser at a California Highway Patrol helicopter that was providing support during a suspected burglary call.

    Nathan Ramon Wells, 19, was arrested this morning on two felony counts – interference with an operator of an aircraft and attempted interference – each of which carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. Wells is expected to make his initial appearance this afternoon in United States District Court.

    On June 3, 2009, CHP officers in a helicopter were assisting Cathedral City Police Department investigators who had responded to a possible residential burglary call. While flying at an altitude of approximately 700, the cockpit of the helicopter suddenly illuminated with a bright green light, which cased both CHP officers to look away and alter their course. The helicopter crew determined that the source of the light was a vehicle, which they followed through Cathedral City. Police on the ground stopped the vehicle, which contained Wells, who was in possession of a laser device.

    An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

             The case against Wells is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which received assistance from the Cathedral City Police Department.

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    Release No. 10-019
    Return to the 2010 Press Release Index