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Press Release

Blythe man indicted for firing on helicopter during federal law enforcement operation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Georgia
Aircraft used during ATF search as part of Operation Gunsmoke

AUGUSTA, GA:  A Blythe man has been indicted on federal charges that he shot a helicopter being used in support of a law enforcement operation.

Terry Kielisch, 55, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of Assaulting a Person Assisting an Officer of the United States, Damaging an Aircraft, Use of a Firearm During and in Relation to a Crime of Violence, and Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.

The charges in the five-count indictment carry sentences of 10 years to life in prison, along with substantial fines.

According to court documents in the case, Kielisch is accused of firing at and striking a Georgia State Patrol helicopter piloted by a GSP trooper and with a Richmond County Sheriff’s Office investigator as a passenger on March 12. The aircraft was providing support for Operation Gunsmoke, a sweep of defendants accused of drug trafficking and illegal firearms possession in Georgia and South Carolina, coordinated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Kielisch was not a target in the operation, and while the helicopter was damaged, neither the pilot nor the passenger were injured.

“This assault had potentially deadly consequences for the officers conducting their law enforcement duties,” said U.S. Attorney Bobby L. Christine. “Our office will vigorously prosecute anyone who would harm or attempt to harm the professionals who protect our communities.”

The case was investigated by the ATF, the Georgia State Patrol and the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, and is being prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hank Syms Jr. and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Marchman. 

A criminal indictment contain only charges; defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


Barry L. Paschal, Public Affairs Officer (Contractor): 912-652-4422

Updated July 15, 2019

Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 68-19