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Mesa man accused of pointing laser at police helicopter

Phillip Merrell was arrested and faces multiple charges in connection with the incident that happened Saturday.
Credit: MCSO

MESA, Ariz. — A 30-year-old man has been arrested, accused of shining a laser pointer at a Mesa police helicopter. 

Police say on October 26 their air unit was flying in the area of Signal Butte Road and Southern Avenue when they reported that someone had pointed a green laser at them. 

Mesa police units on the ground were notified and later located and reportedly observed Phillip Merrell pointing the laser, according to a news release from the Mesa Police Department.

Through further investigation, police say they learned that Merrell had also pointed the laser at a commercial airliner from the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport the day before. 

There were reportedly also several other complaints from pilots saying someone in the area had been shining a laser at them.

According to court paperwork obtained by 12 News, Merrell told officers he didn't know that shining a laser at aircraft was illegal. 

Merrell has been charged with one count of pointing a laser at an occupied aircraft and one count of endangerment involving risk of imminent death, police say.