North Texas

Man Gets Six Months in Federal Prison for Aiming Laser Beam at DPS Helicopter

DPS chopper was investigating reports of laser strikes on commercial aircraft, officials say

A Johnson County man was sentenced to six months in federal prison for aiming a laser pointer at a Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter in July 2015.

Austin Lawrence Siferd, 24, of Cleburne, pleaded guilty earlier this year to an indictment charging one count of aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft.

The pilot of a DPS helicopter was able to follow the beam and direct Johnson County sheriff's deputies to a rural home in the 9000 block of County Road 604.

The night of the incident, the DPS chopper was responding to reports that several commercial aircraft had been hit with a laser in the area.

FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford confirmed in incidents reported in July 2015 involved two flights each from American Airlines and Envoy (formerly American Eagle) headed into Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, two Southwest Airlines flights headed into Dallas Love Field Airport and two FedEx cargo flights inbound to Fort Worth Alliance Airport.

A man is in jail after eight commercial airliners and a Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter were reportedly hit by a laser while flying over North Texas, the FAA says.

Lunsford said the planes were inbound over Johnson County when they were targeted by the laser. One plane was 11,000 feet in the air at the time.

Controllers were able to safely reroute the planes, and no crew members or passengers were injured.

Siferd does not face charges in those incidents.

Austin Lawrence Siferd, of Alvarado, was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of illumination of an aircraft by intense light after several commercials planes at DFW Airport and a DPS helicopter had to change paths to avoid a laser light.

Earlier this summer, federal judges handed out prison sentences ranging from eight months to two years for two men who targeted DPS helicopters with laser pointers in separate incidents.

In both cases, both men faced up to five years behind bars and a fine of up to $250,000.

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Siferd Laser Indict (Text)
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