Deputy pilots nab laser-pointing man in Port Richey

PORT RICHEY, Fla. (WFLA) – It’s a first for a pair of Pasco County Sheriff’s Office helicopter pilots.

Blinded by a laser pointer, they landed the chopper and caught the guy who pointed it at them.

Tuesday night, while circling over a house with a man barricaded inside, the pilots aboard the Pasco sheriff’s chopper watched the back yard to make sure other deputies were safe.

That’s when the cockpit filled with red light.

“Blinded Tim, that was actually the pilot. Myself as a co-pilot, blinded us temporarily for a couple of seconds. Extremely painful. Once we came to, we saw a couple more flashes,” said Deputy Pilot Stephen Bowman.

Deputy Bowman noted at least 10 flashes from a laser pointer. The pair couldn’t look directly at the light source, so Deputy Bowman fired up their infrared camera.

He noted a man in a front yard walking to a mailbox. With units on the ground too busy to investigate, the chopper crew landed in a nearby parking lot.

Deputy Bowman ran five blocks and arrested 27-year old Ryan Fluke.

“That’s when he was a little confused on who I was. I explained that I was a deputy pilot for the sheriff’s office, and he wanted to know where my helicopter was at,” said Deputy Bowman.

Ryan Fluke is facing a felony charge. It’s not his first time in the clink.

He has numerous arrests in his jail record.

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