Two men have been arrested and charged with a series of what York Regional Police (YRP) called "laser attacks" on the police agency's Air2 helicopter.
The YRP said in a statement on Wednesday that police officers were hit with lasers in three separate incidents on three consecutive nights while flying over three parts of the Greater Toronto Area.
The YRP's statement said it remains unclear if the laser strikes are related, but they all happened between 11 p.m. and midnight.
Videos were released from the first two attacks to show how seriously they take these laser strikes, and they revealed they can locate people from the sky when they want to.
The first laser strike happened last Thursday around 11:25 p.m. when the Air2 helicopter was on general patrol over Rutherford Road and Islington Avenue in Vaughan, Ont. The pilot and tactical flight officer were "struck by a bright light source."
Crew members "engaged in safety measures" and directed police officers to a residence where they believed the laser was shot. Police found and arrested a 44-year-old man from Vaughan.
The suspect has been charged with mischief endangering life, endangering security of an aircraft in flight under the Aeronautics Act, and unlawfully projecting bright light into navigable airspace under the Canadian Aviation Regulation.
Another laser strike took place on Friday night around 11:55 p.m. when the Air2 helicopter was assisting with a break and enter investigation around Birchmount Road and Enterprise Boulevard in Markham, Ont. The Air2 helicopter was "hit multiple times by a laser."
The suspect was believed to be on a balcony of a hotel on Birchmount. Police officers went to the location and arrested a 52-year-old man from Markham. The suspect has been charged with mischief endangering life, endangering security of an aircraft in flight under the Aeronautics Act, unlawfully projecting bright light into navigable airspace under the Canadian Aviation Regulation, and obstructing police.
A third laser strike was on Saturday night around 11:30 p.m. while the Air2 helicopter was on general patrol near Jefferson Sideroad and Bathurst Street in Richmond Hill, Ont. The suspect has not been identified, and the investigation is ongoing.
The YRP said pointing lasers can hurt people’s eyes.
"York Regional Police reminds the public of the potential harm laser pointers can cause," said the YRP’s statement. "Health Canada warns that a split-second look into a laser pointer can result in a condition called flash blindness. This is similar to the effect you get during flash photography, where the image of the flash remains in your eyes for a few seconds, then fades away."
The YRP said pointing lasers can be more serious when they are directed at aircrafts flying over populated areas.
"Those who aim these pointers at aircraft are putting lives in danger, not only in the aircraft but on the ground, as there is a significant potential for harm to the pilot as well as the prospect of a crash," said the YRP.