Garland Man Accused of Pointing Laser at FBI Plane

Arrest is first of its kind in North Texas

By Scott Gordon
|  Saturday, Jun 4, 2011  |  Updated 12:06 AM CDT
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For the first time in North Texas, someone has been arrested on suspicion of pointing a laser at an airplane.

Scott Gordon, NBCDFW.com

For the first time in North Texas, someone has been arrested on suspicion of pointing a laser at an airplane.

Photos and Videos

Number of Lasers Pointed at Planes Sharply Rise

Lasers have been pointed at airplanes 51 times so far this year in North Texas, far more than the 34 incidents in all of 2010.

Lasers Aimed at Plane Increase in North Texas

Reports of people pointing lasers at planes increased significantly last year in North Texas, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Wednesday.
More Photos and Videos

A Garland man was arrested Thursday night after he pointed a laser at the wrong plane -- an FBI aircraft that happened to be flying nearby, the FBI said.

The FBI pilot flew over Garland to investigate after other pilots complained about a bright light, said FBI Special Agent Mark White.

"He started directing law enforcement into where the laser was coming from," White said.

The first agent to arrive in the 1700 block of Park Circle saw the man with the laser still in his hand, pointing it at the federal plane which was circling overhead, he said.

Sammy Ladymon, 45, was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of illumination of aircraft by intense light. He faces up to a year in jail.

It was the first time someone was arrested in North Texas for pointing a laser at a plane.

The arrest came just one day after the Federal Aviation Administration warned of a rash of such incidents nationwide and announced an $11,000 civil fine for anyone caught aiming a laser at aircraft.

North Texas was No. 1 with 51 laser incidents reported so far this year -- far more than the 34 for all of last year.

The incident Thursday began at about 9:30 p.m. when a Southwest Airlines pilot reported that someone on the ground was aiming a laser at his jet, said FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford.

The plane was near Garland at 5,000 feet altitude preparing to land at Love Field.

Air traffic controllers alerted other planes in the area, including the FBI pilot.

Agents turned Ladymon over to Garland police officers, who booked him on state charges.

Garland police spokesman Joe Harn, a pilot himself, said pointing a laser at a plane could cause a crash.

"Why would somebody do something like that?" he asked. "It's dangerous, it's against the law, [and] it's just not good common sense to do something like that."

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