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Press Release

San Diego Man Charged with Aiming a Laser Pointer at Police Helicopter During a Protest

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of California


SAN DIEGO – An indictment was unsealed in federal court today charging San Diego resident Stephen Glenn McLeod with knowingly aiming the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft on August 28, 2020.

McLeod was arraigned in federal court today. At the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Shapiro told U.S. Magistrate Allison Goddard that McLeod is alleged to have pointed a laser pointer at a San Diego Police Department helicopter multiple times while participating in a protest on August 28, 2020.    

U.S. Magistrate Judge Goddard set a personal appearance bond of $35,000, guaranteed by two financial responsible adults.  The next hearing is scheduled for November 20, 2020 at 1:30 p.m. before U.S. District Court Judge Janis Sammartino.

“We support everyone’s right to peacefully assemble and protest.  Aiming a laser pointer at a police helicopter, however, is highly dangerous and a serious violation of federal law,”
said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer.

“When aimed at an aircraft, a beam of light from a handheld laser can illuminate a cockpit, disorienting and temporarily blinding the pilots,” said Suzanne Turner, Special Agent in Charge of FBI San Diego. “It's a federal felony that the FBI and our law enforcement partners take very seriously.”

DEFENDANT                                               Case Number 20CR3106JLS

Stephen Glenn McLeod                                                  Age: 38           San Diego


Aiming a Laser Pointer at an Aircraft – Title 18, United States Code, Section 39A

Maximum penalty: Five years in prison, $250,000 fine


San Diego Police Department

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Joint Terrorism Task Force

*The charges and allegations contained in an indictment or complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.



Assistant U.S. Attorneys John Parmley (619) 546-7957 and
Jonathan Shapiro (619) 546-8225

Updated October 21, 2020

Press Release Number: CAS20-1020-McLeod