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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Alabama

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Jefferson County Man Charged with Aiming a Laser Pointer at Helicopter

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A federal grand jury today indicted a Jefferson County man for aiming the beam of a laser pointer at a helicopter, announced U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp, Jr.

A one-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court charges Gabriel Lopez Mathews, 26, of Pinson, with aiming the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft.  According to the indictment, on April 11, 2020, Mathews aimed the beam of a laser pointer at a helicopter operated by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.  

The maximum penalty for aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft is five years in prison.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case, along with the Jefferson County Sherriff’s Office and the Birmingham Police Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Baty is prosecuting the case.

An indictment contains only charges.  A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Updated January 27, 2021