Spokane County Sheriff’s Office Air-2’s flight crew encountered two laser strikes while on patrol last night. Although distracted by the laser, thankfully the Air-2 flight crew was not incapacitated or suffer any injury. The suspect was arrested and booked into jail for a felony charge after Air-2 guided patrol Deputies to the suspect’s location.
On Wednesday, February 20, 2019, at approximately 10:30 p.m., Spokane County Sheriff’s Office Air-2’s flight crew encountered two laser strikes while on patrol over the Spokane Valley.
This is extremely dangerous as the laser at a minimum distracts pilots/crews, can momentarily blind them and can potentially cause permanent injury. NEVER point or target ANY aircraft with a laser.
Air-2 provided the location of the suspect, a residence in the 300 block of D. Dishman Mica Rd., to Spokane Valley Deputies. Deputies arrived at the location and contacted 41-year-old Janson L. McElfish who answered the door still holding the silver pen laser in his hand.
McElfish said he was playing outside with the laser and began pointing it at trees. As he moved the laser toward the top of a tree, he accidentally pointed it at something in the air and then pointed it at an aircraft flying overhead. He told Deputies he didn’t think it would reach the helicopter (Air-2) and admitted pointing it at Air-2 a second time a couple of minutes later.
McElfish was arrested, transported and booked into the Spokane County Jail for Unlawful Discharge of a Laser, 1st Degree, a felony.
Pointing a laser at ANY aircraft is a felony under Washington State law, and anyone caught committing this extremely dangerous act will be arrested and potentially even face federal charges.
For more information regarding this serious threat to aviation, watch this Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office video produced in association with Homeland Security and the FBI. https://youtu.be/2RrR0Tc1w90
Corporal Mark Gregory
Spokane County Sheriff’s Office
Spokane Valley Police Department
Public Information Officer