TULSA, Okla. - A Tulsa man is charged with a federal crime after police say he targeted them with a laser.
Tulsa police said Carl Don Floyd, 42, pointed a laser into their helicopter while they were patrolling on Saturday. Floyd is facing up to five years in prison for doing it.
"It is an extremely serious event and people should never do that," said Tulsa police Officer David Shelby.
Shelby knows first-hand after it happened to him while he was patrolling the city in the Tulsa police helicopter on Saturday.
"The third strike hit me directly in the eyes as it came through the wind screen, the windshield of the aircraft," said Shelby.
Police arrested Floyd for the crime but they said he's not the only offender.
"We've seen a large increase in this happening," said Sgt. Nick Cory.
According to the FBI, just last year there were nearly 4,000 of these incidents reported across the country.
FOX23 went to Dong's Guns, Ammo and Reloading to find out why people buy these lasers.
"It's great for self-defense," said David Stone.
Many people attach them to their guns for a target and Stone said he even has one at home that he shines when playing with his cat.
Tulsa police say even the low-grade lasers can cause temporary and even permanent blindness.
"Some people might think it's just a laser, a toy, but it's a lot more serious than that," said Cory.
"When they're in looking at them we always remind them it's for shooting only, not for shining around," said Stone.
FOX23 learned locating people who shine lasers at aircrafts is difficult, but the FBI said it's so serious they'll offer up to a $10,000 reward in some cases, if you help them catch the person responsible.