News and Press Releases

Virginia Beach Man Indicted for Lasering Naval Aircraft Near Naval Air Station Oceana

June 20, 2012

NORFOLK, Va. – Robert Bruce, Jr., 56, of Virginia Beach, Va. has been charged in a six-count indictment alleging that Bruce knowingly and recklessly aimed a laser pointer at Naval Aviators and their aircraft as they performed their official duties near Naval Air Station Oceana.

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Charles T. May Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Field Office Norfolk, made the announcement after the grand jury handed down the indictment.  Bruce was arrested on a federal arrest warrant related to these charges on June 13, 2012.

Bruce was charged with two counts of interference with flight crew, two counts of aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft, and two counts of assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers or employees.  If convicted, Bruce faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each of the interference with flight crew charges, a maximum penalty of five years in prison for each aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft charge, and a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison on each charge of assaulting, resisting or impeding federal officers.

The indictment alleges that on or about April 11, 2012 and June 5, 2012, Bruce shined a laser pointer at Naval Aircraft flying from Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Va. In February 2012, Congress passed 18 U.S.C. § 39A, which specifically prohibits aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft.  It is believed that the Eastern District of Virginia is the second jurisdiction to indict under this new offense.

This case was investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.  Special Assistant United States Attorney Christopher A. George is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty. 

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at or on


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