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US: Pilot's video & research helps FBI find & convict Chicago-area man

A pilot’s videotaped research helped the FBI find a laser pointer in a door-to-door search, in the Chicago suburb of Brookfield. The pointer’s owner, Jason G. Heeringa was arrested in 2010. On July 12 2011 the 29-year-old pleaded guilty in a plea bargain arrangement to misdemeanor counts of aggravated assault and battery.

Two years probation, $250 fine and 240 hours of community service

Essential to the conviction was a video analysis done by a pilot who had been illuminated multiple times by Heeringa.

The case began April 4 2010 when J.J. Guerra was first illuminated by a laser near Chicago’s Midway Airport. Because of this incident, he put a video camera in his cockpit. On June 16 2010 he captured green flashes from an area northwest of Midway:

Later on the ground, Guerra used Google Earth to determine landmarks. He posted a video on YouTube showing his results. In the video, an area of about 50 homes is highlighted as the “Approximate Laser Location”:

Armed with this information, the FBI conducted a door-to-door search. At one home they were told a resident had a laser pointer. The resident -- Heeringa -- was questioned and admitted aiming at aircraft. On April 4 2011, he was charged with 14 counts of aggravated assault based on seven incidents with two counts each. As noted above, on July 12 2011 he pleaded guilty and was sentenced.

Heeringa’s house (A) is located about 5 miles
from Midway International Airport.

From the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark: July 15 2011 story about the sentence; April 5 2011 story about the pilot’s video and Heeringa’s sentencing. The video can be viewed via both stories. It is also available directly from YouTube.