A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use
News: Non-aviation incidents
This webpage has a chronological list of selected laser pointer incidents that are NOT related to aviation. We also have news pages for aviation incidents, and for all other laser pointer news (includes overall statistics about incidents, new laws and regulations, and safety warnings and publications). In addition, the What’s new at the website page lists major changes, updates, and additions to LaserPointerSafety.com.
We sometimes add older news items; since the list is chronological, items new to this page won’t always appear at the top. You may want to scroll down to see if there are new items since the last time you visited.
The officer was wearing safety glasses and was not harmed.
A laser pointer was found on 19-year-old Amina T. Mussa McCaskill. She admitted aiming at the officer.
Amina T. Mussa McCaskill
She was charged on November 6 with one count of felony second-degree riot.
More than 600 people were arrested after protesters blocked the Interstate highway.
From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune
US: Pennsylvania man charged with repeatedly assaulting police officers with a laser during protests
When approached to be arrested, the man tried to incite a crowd to assist him. He later gave false information to the police.
Pedro Junior Velasquez is charged with seven felonies and dix misdemeanors, including aggravated assault and resisting arrest.
Pedro Junior Velasquez
Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
One hundred fifty people called for abolition of the university police department. "This Halloween protest was more aggressive than those by previous Northwestern protest groups. According to information from City Manager Erika Storlie, members of the group came with umbrellas, fireworks, spray-paint cans and laser pointers. Some threw rocks or lit fireworks in the direction of police officers; others shined the laser pointers in the eyes of the officers." From a November 1 2020 story in the Evanston RoundTable.
A laser was pointed at a U.S. Park Police helicopter during protests in front of the Fourth District police station. Also, Washington, DC police said "one of their officers was injured when a protester shone a laser in his eyes" on October 28. From a November 1 2020 story from FOX5.
San Diego, California
38-year-old Stephen Glenn McLeod aimed a laser at a San Diego Police Department helicopter multiple times, during a protest on August 28 2020. He was arraigned October 20 on a federal felony charge which has a penalty of up to five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine. His next court date is November 20. From an October 20 2020 story from NBC San Diego.
San Diego, California
24-year-old Rudy Alvarez was charged with aiming a laser at a San Diego Police Department helicopter during a large demonstration in the Hillcrest area of San Diego, on June 6 2020. The crew said the light impeded their ability to safety operate the helicopter. From a June 10 2020 press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of California.
Beginning in June 2020, there were many protests in Portland with significant use of lasers. A general internet search will find these. LaserPointerSafety.com has focused on stories about alleged eye injuries (most were temporary flashblindness; none were permanent) and about arrests. Searching for the tag Portland will find the LaserPointerSafety.com stories.
The Dutchess County (NY) Sheriff's Office received a call at 1 am about a laser being aimed at cars. A detective sent to investigate and search for the suspicious vehicle had a laser beam aimed into his face and eyes. He turned on his lights and pursued the car, which drove away at high speed in a "reckless manner."
The suspicious car pulled over. One person was charged with second degree reckless endangerment. The driver was charged with reckless driving and other traffic infractions.
The Sheriff's Office put out a call for any persons who were targeted by the suspect.
The unnamed teen initially had vision loss for several minutes due to flashblindness (looking into a bright light).
Five months later the boy went to an Ohio State University ophthalmologist due to continually-blurred vision with partial loss of vision in his right eye. Vision tests showed his left eye vision was normal. But if looking at text with his right eye, a single letter would be missing. When using only his left eye, or when using both eyes together, he could see the missing letter.
A standard clinical exam showed lesions in both eyes that were diagnosed as lesions in the macula, the area within the retina that we use for our central vision. The macula has the most and densest packing of light-detecting cones.
Tests done six months after the first doctor visit showed "marked improvement" in both eyes.
Further analysis was done with a custom-built adaptive optics optical coherence tomography scanning laser ophthalmoscope that is only one of five in the United States. This gives a very high-resolution view of the retina — much better than the human eye or more conventional retinal imaging techniques.
The AO-OCT-SLO image taken 11 months after the laser exposure showed damage to some of the macular cones. The ophthalmologist said "There's just nothing left there. The affected areas are devoid of cones."
AO-OCT-SLO image of lesions A through E with small sites of cone loss (B, C, and D) in the teen's right eye. Each white dot is an individual cone cell, which is about 1/20th the width of a human hair. There are around six to seven million cones in the retina. Lesions A and E are about as wide as two hairs; lesions B-D are less than the width of a hair. Image source: Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. / Ohio State University
Another AO-OCT-SLO image taken nine months later showed the lesions decreased in size, from 3.7% to 23.8% compared to the first image. "However, the longer-term prognosis is likely permanent scarring," according to the report.
Original report in Retinal Cases & Brief Reports, summarized in an Ohio State News story. Other stories about this appeared in Science Alert and Interesting Engineering,
Bryan Michael Kelley
The following is from a news article issued by the Portland Police Bureau:
On September 3, 2020, Portland Police Bureau detectives arrested 36 year old Bryan Michael Kelley, and served a search warrant at his residence, during an investigation into criminal activity he was alleged to be involved in near City Hall, last week.
During the evening of August 25, 2020, a group of people gathered in Shemanski Park, in downtown Portland, and walked to City Hall. Within minutes of arriving, people within the group began committing crimes in and around City Hall.
Among those in the crowd that night was Mr. Kelley. Members of the Portland Police Bureau Rapid Response Team (RRT) responded to City Hall to restore order. At least one member of RRT realized that Mr. Kelley had repeatedly directed a laser into the RRT member's eyes, causing injury. Eventually, members of RRT were able to locate and arrest Mr. Kelley near Southwest 4th Avenue and Southwest Jefferson Street. He was found to be in possession of a laser (photo).
Silver laser device, next to phone to show scale. See this story for more information about this model of laser.
Click to read more...
Detectives later tested the laser by pointing it at a piece of cardboard, which caused the cardboard to burn. Such lasers can be purchased online and are usually accompanied by warnings about harm they can cause, especially to the eyes. https://youtu.be/dcR_xkpOuNQ
According to court documents, at approximately 10:00 p.m. on June 13, 2020, a civil disturbance was declared when a crowd gathered around the Multnomah County Justice Center in downtown Portland. A Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officer watching the crowd from the roof of the Justice Center observed two individuals, one later identified as Reuland, allegedly standing in the middle of the street and repeatedly hitting several officers in the face with high-powered lasers.
The officer moved to a lower floor and was able to photograph Reuland. The officer kept track of Reuland as the crowd was dispersed. In the early morning hours of June 14, 2020, Reuland joined a group of individuals marching from the Justice Center to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s personal residence. Reuland was observed shining a laser at the Mayor’s residence and at other homes in the neighborhood. The officer who originally spotted Reuland with the laser, tracked his location until Reuland was contacted by other officers and taken into custody for assaulting a public safety officer. He was later released by state authorities.
On September 4, 2020, U.S. Marshals Service deputies arrested Reuland at his residence in northwest Portland.
US: 113 federal agents in Portland said to be injured by protesters' lasers; none were permanently blinded
All officers recovered their sight, according to deputy director Ken Cuccinelli, speaking on August 4 2020. This appears to include the "three officers who currently have eye injuries and [who] may not recover sight." This statement was said on July 21 2020 by a Federal Protective Services official. (FPS is a division of DHS.) Some persons who repeated this, such as the White House press secretary and the Attorney General, repeated the "may not" qualifier, while others — generally news or commentators — said flatly that officers were permanently blinded.
Cuccinelli said "We've had a number of officers who have days-long blindness. So far they've all come back, if you will. But you also get what's called flash blindness … where you can't quite see your entire field of vision for a period." [As explained below, flash blindness is not an "eye injury" and should not have been included in the total of 113 "eye injuries.]
Cuccinelli told the Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution that protesters began aiming at police from closer distances. Since laser beams spread out, this reduces the spread and thus increases the hazard potential. Protesters do this, he said, so police cannot identify suspects.
Click to read more...
Cuccinelli demonstrated what he called a "commercial grade" laser by aiming it into his hand and saying it got hot within a second or two. He said such a laser could be purchased on Amazon.com.
Claims of eye injuries
Officers were attempting to defend the building. "When [Federal Protective Service] officers responded to put out these fires, glass bottles were thrown and lasers – which can cause permanent blindness – were shined in their eyes. We have three officers who currently have eye injuries and they may not recover sight in those eyes from those laser attacks," said FPS Deputy Director of Operations Richard Cline.
The assertion was repeated on July 24 by White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany: "….tragically, three federal officers were likely left permanently blinded by the rioters using lasers pointed directly into their eyes." On July 28, Attorney General William P. Barr, testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, wrote in his prepared remarks that "A number of federal officers have been injured, including … three who have suffered serious eye injuries and may be permanently blind."
Some news sources and commentators stated flatly that the officers are permanently blind. Lost or ignored was the fact that there was only one official statement on the prognosis ("they currently have eye injuries and they may not recover sight").
Reporters noted red, green and purple laser beams aimed at officers through the courthouse doors. At least one person may be charged. According to the Associated Press, "[c]ourt papers in a federal case against a man accused of shining a laser in the eyes of Federal Protective Service agents show that Portland police turned him over to U.S. authorities after federal officers identified him." ProPublica reported that the charging documents said an agent "reported seeing spots in his eyes for 15 minutes after the laser attack. [As of November 9 2020, LaserPointerSafety,com is aware of two cases against individuals, one from June 2020 and one from August 2020.]
Force authorized against laser attacks
In response, Customs and Border Protection has authorized the use of "less-lethal force" against protesters with lasers. CBP said in a memo that pepper spray balls or beanbag shotguns are allowed because lasers aimed at eyes or through camera lenses are "remarkably dangerous because of their concentrated energy."
Protesters using lasers would first be issued a verbal warning. Then CBP agents targeted would decide whether less-lethal force is justified. The calculation should be based on the crime committed and the level of danger.
“Officers/agents are authorized by law to use objectively reasonable force to effect the arrest and protect against harm to the officer/agent or others,” wrote Charles A. Bishop, who oversees the agency’s law enforcement compliance directorate. “Officers/agents should consider all reasonable tools, tactics and equipment to cease an assault with a handheld laser in accordance with CBP Use of Force Policy and U.S. constitutional standards.”
Bishop said without a threat of serious bodily injury or death, “CBP does not recognize the threat of handheld visible lasers as one that would require a deadly force response.”
Eyewear purchased to defend against lasers
To defend themselves the Federal Protective Service is buying 1,000 pairs of Stingerhawk FT-2 Laser Protective Eyewear from Revision Military. In its sole-source contract document dated July 10 2020, FPS said "readily accessible and affordable" lasers can cause dark spots, hazy vision, headaches or retinal bleeding. The contract also noted that Seattle police officers who used laser-resistant glasses "expressed that they were very effective."
From Fox News (initial blinding report), the New York Post (White House statement), Politico (AG Barr statement), the Associated Press via MSN (court papers), ProPublica (15 minutes of spots), the Washington Times (CBP response), Williamette Week (FPS eyewear)
For more information, see the page Laser use during protests and LaserPointerSafety.com news articles about non-laser eye injuries during protests.
UPDATE AUGUST 4 2020: The three officers said to possibly have permanent blindness appear to be OK, with their sight recovered. In Senate testimony, a Department of Homeland Security official said there were 113 eye injuries to federal officers in Portland, and "[s]o far they've all kind of come back". The Federal Protective Service is part of DHS, so the official's statement would have included the three injured officers.
Ng Kai-nam testified he picked up four hitchhikers going to a demonstration. He told them to leave their bags in the car, and that he did not realize there were items defined as weapons in the bags.
The acting principal magistrate ruled that Ng knew the protesters had prohibited weapons, but found him not guilty since prosecutors were unable to prove if he knew the nature of the weapons.
From the South China Morning Post
Kwok Fu-wah was said to have aimed the lasers "out of impulse". The incident interfered with police duties but there were no injuries reported.
He was originally charged with possessing offensive weapons in a public place which is punishable by imprisonment. However, prosecutors allowed him to plead guilty to "a diminished charge of similar nature" resulting in the lesser sentence of community service. The principal magistrate noted Kwok had a good background and was sorry for his actions.
His two laser pointers were examined by police, who said the "two devices could cause ocular damage if the eyes were directly exposed to the laser beam within 60 meters [200 feet]."
From the South China Morning Post
COMMENTARY FROM LASERPOINTERSAFETY.COM
The 60 meter "ocular damage" distance probably refers to the laser's Nominal Ocular Hazard Distance. For a handheld laser with a typical beam of 1 milliradian beam spread, this corresponds to a laser of roughly 70 milliwatts. (The laser color would not be a factor in injury, only the power and divergence.)
In many countries the legal limit for a laser pointer is 1 mW; in the U.S. pointers of up to 5 mW are allowed to be sold.
A NOHD of 60 meters does not mean that injury will occur at that distance. As explained elsewhere, there is a safety or reduction factor built into the NOHD. At around 20 meters (66 feet), a 70 mW 1 mrad beam with a nominal 1/4 second exposure could cause the smallest detectable change in the retina about half the time, under laboratory conditions. Beyond 20 meters the chance of injury becomes even less until at the 60 meter NOHD it is considered an allowable exposure.
A one-quarter second exposure is used in the laser safety field for cases of accidental or unwanted beams. A person will blink, move or otherwise avoid eye exposure the laser light within that time.
The distance from Kwok to the police officers was not stated in the article.
Suspect Arrested After Pointing Laser Pointer At Officer
On July 16th, 2020, around 8:40 a.m., a LAPD police officer in full uniform was in the area of 2nd St. and San Pedro when he felt a burning sensation in his eye. The officer believed the burning sensation may have been caused by a laser pointer. He was able to locate the suspect, 45-year-old Douglas Meyer, on a balcony in a nearby building. Additional officers went to the building and took Meyer into custody. Meyer was booked for Assault with a Deadly Weapon on a Police Officer, booking #5973501.
The officer began to experience nausea, vomiting, an intense headache, and blurred vision. He has received initial medical treatment, but will require follow up treatment with a specialist due to the seriousness of the sustained injury and symptoms.
UPDATE November 11 2020: An officer with the Los Angeles Police Department said he lost vision in his right eye, suffers migraines and has had trouble balancing for at least two months after having a laser aimed at his eye on July 16 2020.
Officer Kyle Rice was on a call in the Little Tokyo area of downtown Los Angeles when someone unrelated to the call aimed a laser from a fourth-floor balcony of an apartment building. He told NBC Los Angeles he felt his right eye was on fire.
A 45-year-old suspect was arrested and later released from jail. As of September 10 2020, no charges were filed as the L.A. District Attorney's office said it did not have evidence in the case.
Due to his symptoms, Rice cannot drive. He is seeing eye specialists and neurologists, and does not yet know if the injury is permanent.
On September 4 2020 the LAPD police chief sent a memo to officers telling them to "adjust their vision away from the laser", and that laser eye protection would be provided. The memo noted "The use of a laser itself shall not presumptively constitute a threat that justifies an officer's use of deadly force" (emphasis in the original). The memo added that "If confronted with a laser, personnel shall utilize concepts found in Use of Force, Tactics Directive 16, Tactical De-escalation Techniques."
From NBC Los Angeles
In November 2019 the unnamed teenager was the first protester to be found guilty of carrying a laser pointer as an offensive weapon. He was sentenced to a rehabilitation center for three months.
During his May 2020 appeal, defense counsel said the laser pointer could have been used peacefully to point at buildings and draw attention. Counsel further said there was no evidence the teen had used the pointer, and that he had been cooperative with police.
However, the appeals judge agreed with prosecutors at the November 2019 trial. They said the teen was wearing protest gear including a helmet and he must have intended to use it to inflict harm or discomfort upon others. The judge also noted the teen did not present evidence or testify to contradict the prosecutors' claims.
The judge also said that using laser pointers on buildings for peaceful protest was "a fanciful notion".
A government expert testified that the laser device could cause harm if it were pointed at the human eye within a distance of 36 meters (118 feet).
From the South China Morning Post
COMMENTARY FROM LASERPOINTERSAFETY.COM
The 36 meter "ocular damage" distance probably refers to the laser's Nominal Ocular Hazard Distance. For a handheld laser with a typical beam of 1 milliradian beam spread, this corresponds to a laser of roughly 25 milliwatts. (The laser color would not be a factor in injury, only the power and divergence.)
In many countries the legal limit for a laser pointer is 1 mW; in the U.S. pointers of up to 5 mW are allowed to be sold.
A NOHD of 36 meters does not mean that injury will occur at that distance. As explained elsewhere, there is a safety or reduction factor built into the NOHD. At around 12 meters (39 feet), a 25 mW 1 mrad beam with a nominal 1/4 second exposure could cause the smallest detectable change in the retina about half the time, under laboratory conditions. Beyond 12 meters the chance of injury becomes even less until at the 36 meter NOHD it is considered an allowable exposure.
A one-quarter second exposure is used in the laser safety field for cases of accidental or unwanted beams. A person will blink, move or otherwise avoid eye exposure the laser light within that time.
The man lased a California Highway Patrol car, lighting up the interior and temporarily blinding both officers in the car. One was able to provide a description of the laser-targeting vehicle to a CHP unit further ahead. The car was stopped and the driver was questioned. CHP said "He was in fact the person responsible for the laser strike and [was placed] under arrest. A search of the vehicle located a high-power green laser pen which had been used.
From KPIX CBS
It was sold to a classmate of Breen who brought it to St Kevin's College on May 25 2012. Another classmate accidentally aimed the laser's green beam at Breen while a teacher was out of the classroom. Breen immediately felt a "burning sensation." At hospital he was told his retina was burned. Breen has a permanent spot in the center of his right eye, removing about 10 percent of his vision and requiring him to wear glasses.
Breen sued the school, St Kevin's and the laser pen distributor, Syncron.
Justice Michael Hanna found that the school had no responsibility. He said the teacher was entitled to be out of the classroom on necessary business, and if the school was aware of the laser it would have taken action.
Breen's suit said the laser pen was more powerful than allowed by EU directives and thus was dangerous. The judge agreed, noting it should not have been offered for sale, and that Syncron was entirely responsible for Breen's injury. Syncron did not appear in court and did not defend itself.
It is not known if Breen will be able to collect the judgement from Syncron as they are no longer trading.
From Herald.ie and the Irish Times (March 4 2020 article about the lawsuit, March 5 2020 article about the judge's decision and award)
Commentary from LaserPointerSafety.com: This is the first case we are aware of where a civil suit has been brought against a laser pointer distributor or manufacturer for an eye injury. There have been cases where government agencies have taken administrative or criminal action against illegal imports.
Ben Leech told the Regina Leader Post that the light "was super bright, but it only was pointing at my face for around a second, so it didn’t do too much damage or anything. It was just kind of a shock to see it." The exposure left white spot afterimages for a few seconds. There was no permanent damage.
Four frames in quick succession from a dashcam video showing the laser beam on the pavement, hood, windshield, and in the air. The video is at YouTube.
Leech could not identify the car so he did not report it to the Regina Police Service. An RPS spokesperson said they were not previously aware of automobile drivers being targeted by lasers, although it has happened to aircraft in the area.
From the Regina Leader Post, February 15 2020
Both men lived in a Fort Myers (Florida) apartment complex, in units identically numbered "102". Ryan Modell, 32, had been heavily drinking on March 19 to celebrate a new job. At about 2:30 am on March 20, Modell — wearing only shorts— knocked on the door of 46-year-old Steve Taylor, in a different unit 102.
Taylor got his 10 mm Glock handgun and answered the door. He told Modell he had the wrong unit, but to Taylor, the intoxicated Modell didn't respond and appeared drugged. Taylor said he pointed the gun at Modell, warning him not to approach, but Modell charged.
Taylor closed the door, injuring Modell's toe. Taylor's wife called police. Taylor went outside and found Modell hosing off his bloody toe. Taylor aimed the gun at Modell and turned on the laser pointer aiming device. That is when Modell sprayed water, made threats and charged.
Mark O'Mara, a lawyer for Modell's father, said Modell had an understandable reaction for a person who thought he was about to be shot. He said "If you put a laser on my chest, there is one of two things I am going to do: duck and run, or kill you."
Taylor says he fired when Modell was within two feet; O'Mara says evidence indicates it was several feet back.
The 2016 case became controversial due to Florida's "stand your ground" law being used. In January 2020, O'Mara asked Florida's governor to appoint a special prosecutor to reinvestigate the shooting, and wants Taylor charged with second-degree murder.
Noah Bigham aimed a 9mm handgun which had a built-in laser pointer sight at his lifelong friend Hunter Cooper's eyes, to distract him during a game. Bigham pulled the trigger, firing the gun and killing his 15-year-old Cooper.
He was arrested and was charged as a juvenile with reckless homicide, a third-degree felony if committed by an adult.
Bigham's attorney called the killing "unintentional": "“The home, unfortunately, had complete access to handguns. It is my understanding the juveniles were able to have about unfettered access to firearms. This is what happens when you have firearms accessible. It’s just awful."
A police detective declined to say whether it was an accident: “We definitely can’t acknowledge an accidental shooting. We’re treating it as any shooting would be, at this point. In any investigation like this, you can’t rule anything out.”
From the Columbus Dispatch
They have been protesting the Lebanese government's limit on cash withdrawals from banks and ATMs, with the country on the brink of economic collapse. Riots have broken out where banks and ATMs are attacked.
There was no additional information regarding laser use or misuse during the protests — just the photo.
From the Daily Mail
Bryant lived in Combs, Arkansas, next to a group of people who would shine red, blue and green laser light into his windows at night, and into his face as he tried to sleep in a recliner in his living room. Bryant reported the laser harassment to police for a few months prior to the August 8 2018 shooting. He also reported loud music, loose dogs, and the possibility his neighbors were making methamphetamine.
During an altercation on August 8 2018, one of the alleged harassers, 30-year-old Samuel Scott Hicks threatened to shoot Bryant, according to Bryant's lawyer. Hicks bend down to pick up something off the ground. Bryant saw something in Hicks' hand and thought it was a shotgun, but Hicks apparently picked up a silver-colored laser pointer, which was later found at the scene. Bryant thought it was a gun and shot Hicks, killing him.
At trial in September 2019, a prosecutor disputed Bryant's account of laser harassment. He said Hicks had a new laser pointer that he was playing with, but he did not point it at Bryant's house.
On September 13 2019, after two hours of deliberation a jury decided Bryant shot in self-defense and found him not guilty.
Bryant's troubles were not over as Hicks' estate filed a wrongful death civil lawsuit on September 3 2019. It is not known if the suit was dropped after Bryant's acquittal.
From Arkansas Online (articles on the civil suit, the start of the trial, and after the jury acquitted) and 40/29 News
On three occasions between August 11 and September 2 2019, a man wearing a ski mask aimed the red laser at victims. On one occasion, he shot twice into the air and shouted "You think this is a game? I'm a real killer out here, I'll do this."
Police are looking for the suspect.
From 11 Alive
Protests against increased Chinese control of Hong Kong began in March and April 2019. On June 21, lasers were aimed at police officers' eyes.
The use of lasers increased dramatically after the August 6 2019, arrest of 20-year-old Hong Kong Baptist University student union president Keith Fong for having 10 laser pointers. (According to the South China Morning Post, laser pointers are readily available for less than HK $100 [USD $13].) Fong claimed he purchased them for stargazing. Persons around him chanted "release him" but police arrested him for "possession of offensive weapons.”
Police said that laser pointers are not prohibited in Hong Kong, but if they are used in an attack or are intended for use in an attack, then they are considered offensive weapons. During an August 7 2019 press conference, Li Kwai-wah, Superintendent of the Organized Crime and Triad Bureau said “…many of our colleagues have been injured by these items. And sensors in some of our video cameras were damaged. So we strongly believe that these items, which are capable of hurting people and destroying things, are indeed ‘offensive weapons.’” Police then demonstrated how the blue beam from a pointer taken from Fong could cause black ink on a newspaper to begin smoking at a range of about 20 inches.
Fong’s arrest set off demonstrations and a rally to demand his release. Critics of the police arrest said Fong’s laser pointers were legal unless they were actually being used to attack. The protests were marked by widespread use of laser pointers. At one point, a protester held up a newspaper and dozens of lasers were shined on it, without affecting the paper. (This was to show how laser beams as used in demonstrations — at distances much longer than 20 inches and handheld onto uncooperative targets — would not have the same effect as holding a beam steady on an unmoving target at close range.)
Studio Incendo via Wikipedia, cc-by-2.0
Protesters also aimed their laser pointers at the dome of the Hong Kong Space Museum, creating a "laser show" that may have been a takeoff on the nightly "Symphony of Lights" show around Hong Kong's harbor.
Protesters at the Hong Kong Science Museum. Studio Incendo via Wikipedia, cc-by-2.0
Hong Kong Symphony of Lights laser show, presented nightly at 8 pm by the Hong Kong Tourism Board.
According to Wikipedia, during the laser pointer protest "some chanted slogans like 'laser pointer revolution' and joked 'Is the building on fire yet?' They hoped to show support to Fong and voice condemnation of his arrest by police, and to show that laser pointers are neither offensive weapons nor effective enough to cause a fire." A writer tweeted that the mood was festive: "This is the joyous, comedic side of [the protests] I’ve been missing amid the miasma of tear gas. Tonight was something we all needed: no tears, no blood, just laughter, song, and dance.”
Fong was released on August 8 2019, after being detained for two days.
Use of laser pointers continued in subsequent protests. For example, on August 10 a female flight attendant, Kwok Lai-fan, 28, was arrested for assaulting a police officer using a laser pointer.
On August 13, during demonstrations that closed Hong Kong airport, a person was beaten by protesters. According to Global Times, "the rioters began assaulting him by cuffing his hands behind his back, splashing water on his head and pointing laser beams into his face. He was denied medical help for hours until being rescued at around 10:40pm by Hong Kong police."
On August 14, lasers were aimed at a police station in the Sham Shui Po area of Kowloon. Police responded by firing tear gas to disperse the group.
On November 7, a 16-year-old boy was the first person convicted of possessing a laser pointer at the protests. During the trial, an expert testified that a laser pointer could injure eyes depending on the distance to the victim and the length of time the laser was in the victim's eyes. The judge said the boy's use of the pointer "was meant to harm the eyes of police officers, causing them discomfort." He ruled the pointer was not inherently an offensive weapon, but could become one depending on the circumstances and intent. On or around November 26, the unnamed teen was sentenced to attend a rehabilitation center where he will serve a short custodial sentence and receive work training and counseling.
For more photos and information, see the page "Laser use during protests"
From Vice News (Aug. 8 2019 story about "All-Night Laser Party"), South China Morning Post (Aug. 7 story, "Hongkongers rally to demand release of student arrested over possession of laser pens"; Aug. 8 story, "Laser pointer as 'weapon', explained"; Aug. 12 story, Flight attendant, audio technician and security guard among those arrested during another weekend of Hong Kong protests; Nov. 7 story "Boy, 16, is first to be convicted of possessing laser pointer at Hong Kong protests"), CBC News (Aug. 11 story, "Hong Kong protesters use laser pointers to deter police, scramble facial recognition"), Infosurhoy (Aug. 13 story, "Hong Kong protesters gather for 'laser show' rally"), Washington Post (Aug. 14 story, "After airport mayhem, Hong Kong protesters face tipping point in battle for hearts and minds"), Global Times (Aug. 14 story, "Netizens furious over rioters' assault of mainland passenger at HK airport"), Wikipedia article on "2019 Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests" accessed August 14 2019, Hong Kong Free Press (Nov. 26 story, "Hong Kong court sends 16-year-old to rehab for carrying laser pointer, hiking pole and modified umbrella at demo")
On May 20 2020, the 16-year-old boy mentioned above (Nov. 7 2019) lost his appeal. The judge concluded the lower court was correct to characterize his carrying a laser pointer as an "offensive weapon" under Hong Kong law.
On July 23 2020, a man was sentenced to 100 hours of community service for aiming laser beams at a police station near his house. The beams were not related to the protests; we are reporting it here since he was originally charged with violating a Hong Kong law stating that lasers are offensive weapons.
On July 24 2020, a man was acquitted of a charge of possessing offensive weapons including a baton and a laser pointer.
The Virginia Beach City Public Schools’ “Code of Student Conduct” prohibits weapons in school. It specifically addresses pointers: “When a laser pen is used to threaten, intimidate or injure, it is considered a weapon.”
The boy’s father, Paul Mulcahy, told LaserPointerSafety.com that his son only aimed a legal, low-powered laser pointer at lockers and the wall in Landstown Middle School. He said it was never used in an aggressive or potentially harmful manner. Mulcahy's account was not disputed by the school.
Mulcahy wrote “no kid should be suspended or expelled for having a cat toy at school…. A ‘spork’ from the cafeteria if used to threaten, intimidate or injure would be a more likely weapon than a 2 mW laser pointer.”
During an initial meeting on May 30, principal John Parkman told Mulcahy he was instructed to use a “Discipline Guidelines” document not available to parents, students or the public. The principal did email the father a page from the Discipline Guidelines about laser pointers which seemed to restate the Code of Conduct language. (The VBCPS Office of Student Leadership confirmed on June 11 that the Discipline Guidelines are "administration-only.")
At a second meeting on June 2, the principal said the VBCPS Office of Student Leadership decided the infraction was “Inappropriate Property” and there would be no further punishment or action beyond the two-week suspension that had already occurred.
The Code of Student Conduct defines inappropriate property as follows: “The unauthorized possession of use of any type of personal property, which disrupts the educational process, is prohibited. Specifically prohibited are electronic devices when they are not authorized or being used for academic purposes (including cell phones), lighters and other items deemed inappropriate….”
In the Discipline Guidelines, the recommended penalty for Inappropriate Property depends on the property. One option is a verbal warning or reprimand called “Level 1.” The penalty for the boy turned out to be Level 6, suspension 6-10 days. As stated above, Mulcahy had been told that expulsion was also possible. Expulsion is "Level 8," the highest punishment level.
On June 9, the school returned the laser pointer to Mulcahy.
Mulcahy says he has retained a lawyer and may take action against the principal and/or school board.
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On May 2 2019, around 8:40 pm, "an officer was driving northbound on Nutley Street when his vehicle was struck multiple times with a green laser pointer. A Fairfax County Police Officer also advised his vehicles had been struck by the laser pointer that night. A similar incident happened to another officer a few weeks before this incident."
From Tysons Reporter
On January 14 2019, Danielle Therese Emery, 49, was aiming a blue laser pointer into the sky. When police investigated, they found a car with a light bar with red and blue LED lights. Emery said she used the bar only to scare friends.
Emery sent the court a "heartfelt letter of admission and regret," and the court accepted that she was "probably not aware of the seriousness of the conduct in question."
Emery was sentenced with a community corrections order of 12 months. The standard conditions for such an order are "the offender must not commit any offence and must appear before the court if called upon during the term of the order." Additional conditions may be applied but were not mentioned in the news story about Emery.
From the Daily Liberal
There is no apparent reason for the attacks. Laser pointers were used "on many occasions". Security guards were on call in France, but were unable to stop the attacks.
Drivers refused to go to St-Louis because of the attacks. The shutdown came on May 2 2019 after a female tram driver was illuminated with a laser pointer, and went for medical treatment.
From The Local and (in German) Basler Zeitung
The men were arrested in September 2018 and were arraigned April 16 2019. Both were charged with assault with a weapon, and possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose. One of the men was also charged with a breach of undertaking or recognizance. Trial was set for June 5 2019.
No charges were levied against those involved with the laser pointer harassment.
From the Nanaimo News Bulletin (arraignment story and original story)
Congress leaders said the dot was from a laser, possibly mounted on a sniper gun. In a letter sent to Home Minister Rajnath Singh, they wrote "…A (green) laser was pointed at [Gandhi's] head, intermittently on at least seven separate occasions in a short period; including twice at his temple on the right side of the head…. A perusal of the video by various persons including former security personnel leads to a prima facie conclusion that this laser could emanate from a potential weapon such as a sniper gun."
The Ministry of Home Affairs countered that the light came from a cameraman's mobile phone. A MHA spokesperson said "The green light shown in the clipping was found to be that of a mobile phone used by the AICC [All India Congress Committee] photographer, who was videographing the impromptu press interaction of Shri Rahul Gandhi near the collectorate at Amethi. Director (SPG [Special Protection Group]) has also informed MHA that this position was conveyed to the personal staff of Shri Rahul Gandhi."
Still frame from 15 seconds into the interview video clip, with a green dot on Rahul Gandhi's head circled. The entire YouTube video can be seen here.
Congress Party leaders were especially concerned about security since Rahul Gandhi's grandmother and father, both former prime ministers of India, were both assassinated.
From Business Today and The Hindu
COMMENTARY FROM LASERPOINTERSAFETY.COM:
We are not aware of any mobile phones that come with green laser pointers. There is a iPhone accessory called iPin that fits into the audio jack, but this emits a low-power red beam.
The green dot only appears when there is a bright sun reflection in the camera lens. In the still frame above, a microphone logo cover is reflecting into the lens, at exactly the time the green dot appears. Here is another still frame with the same effect, from about 1:34 into the video clip. Once again, the dot corresponds with a bright reflection from the microphone logo cover.
The green dot, therefore seems to be caused by lens flare — internal reflections inside the camera lens. The camera sensor sees the lens flare dot, but there would be no dot "outside" in the real world or on Rahul Gandhi.
This may be what the MHA meant by "the light … was found to be that of a mobile phone," e.g. that the dot was internal to the phone's lens.
This is the second video we have seen from India where it was claimed lasers were being used, but the explanation turned out to be lens flare. The first case involved alleged laser harassment of an elephant.
In some cases, rocks or other objects were thrown at the firefighters or their equipment. In other cases, firefighters were verbally abused.
In two of the 68 cases, lasers were involved:
- On 30 September 2018, at 1837 hours whilst attending a fire in the open at Lonsdale Street, Bradford a group of youths threw fireworks onto the fire, verbally abused the crews and shone laser pens into their eyes.
- On 27th May 2018 at 2310 hours a laser pen was pointed at crews whilst they responded to an incident on The Crescent, Ravensthorpe. The occupier also became abusive and admitted causing the fire.
The complete list of 68 attacks was published in the Telegraph and Argus on February 16 2019.
An assistant chief of police, Francisco Garcia, said other officers from other agencies had also had lasers aimed at them in the past 30-45 days. He said it never happened before with direct hits in the eyes that caused damage.
Garcia said "This is just one of the many tactics the cartel and the criminal organizations will use to distract officers and get us away from a certain area to start illegally crossing contraband, drugs, people, everything, they cross."
He also noted concerns over whether the laser was stand-alone such as a pointer, or whether it is mounted on a weapon.
From ValleyCentral.com and KRGV.com
They felt "immediate discomfort and a burning sensation in their eyes" according to the police report. One of the officers had pain and headaches for the next two days, and was seen by an optometrist. There was no permanent injury to either officer.
Gamble-Mackesy was sentenced in Hamilton District Court on January 30 2019 to four years, three months in jail, and was also ordered not to drive for two years. Charges against him included injuring with intent to injure, threatening to kill, obstructing the course of justice, dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, failing to stop for police, and two charges of committing an act of criminal nuisance. It was not clear how much of his jail term, and how many of the charges, directly related to his laser attack on the police officers, and how many related to additional criminal actions he had taken such as strangling his domestic partner on May 26 2018, and attacking her again on June 8.
UPDATED January 20 2020: The judge's sentencing instructions listed the number of months of imprisonment for various charges:
1) Attempting to pervert the course of justice, 51 months (4 years, 3 months)
2) Disqualified driving, nine months
3) Dangerous driving, two months
4) Failing to stop, six months
5) Injuring with intent to injure, nine months
6) Criminal nuisance (shining a laser at police officers), nine months
7) Threatening to kill, nine months
8) Willfully attempting to pervert the course of justice (separate from #1), nine months.
The prison terms were to be served concurrently, not consecutively, for a total of 51 months of imprisonment.
The above helps show how the judge weighed the relative seriousness of the laser charge, compared with the other charges.
Thank you to Yung Chun-fai for providing the text of the sentencing report.
Police say the 38-year-old man aimed a laser pointer at the driver when he pulled alongside the bus that parked at a stop in Meguro Ward during July 2018. He was arrested for suspicion of assaulting the driver and obstructing public services.
The bus driver was unharmed but he felt that something was wrong with his eyes. He continued driving to the next stop before another driver took over.
The man left the scene at the time. But police identified him with security camera footage after receiving a report.
The man reportedly admitted to the charges.
Many similar incidents have been reported across Japan in recent years.
From NHK World-Japan
US: UPDATED - NFL quarterback targeted by laser pointer during game; fan eventually found and fined $500
KMBC reporter William Joy highlighted the green laser beam, seen here on the center of Tom Brady's helmet. The laser appeared to be around 4 inches wide, and danced on the quarterback's upper body — it was not held steady. Video by Turner Twyman.
According to Joy, the beam was on Brady's eyes and helmet at least three times during the game: "…once right after the muffed Julian Edelman punt call was overturned when Patriots retook possession, once on a completion to Chris Hogan, and once on a deep ball to Rob Gronkowski."
The NFL's security department was looking into the incident. As of January 23 2019, Kansas City police have not received a complaint but say they will investigate if a complaint is filed.
From the Washington Post, Boston Globe, musketfire.com and many other news sources. Sports Illustrated has an especially detailed look at the safety and legal issues around laser pointer misuse at NFL games. Thanks to Doug McCullough for bringing this to our attention.
COMMENTARY BY LASERPOINTERSAFETY.COM: Based on the brightness and size of the beam in the videos, it is highly unlikely that this had enough irradiance (power density) to cause harm to any person's eyes.
Light from a laser pointer can harm human eyes at close ranges; within a few yards or meters. But at the distances involved, from a person in the stands to a player on the field, light from a handheld laser pointer would spread out (as the video shows) and would not be steady enough to allow dangerous heat to build up in the eye. This goes for both visible green light, and any non-visible infrared light (some poorly-constructed green laser pointers also emit non-visible infrared light).
The worst effect would be glare or brief flashblindness, like when a camera flash goes off close to a person's face. Since Brady did not seem to notice, and others — national sportscasters and the two teams involved — also did not notice anything unusual at the time, the laser targeting did not seem to affect the outcome of the play or of the game.
LaserPointerSafety.com has more stories about lasers misused during sporting events.
UPDATED February 3 2019: ESPN reported that Kansas City Chiefs officials, using videotape and eyewitnesses, identified the person who aimed a laser at New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. The person has been banned for life from the Chiefs' stadium. The officials have asked the Kansas City district attorney to bring the strongest possible charges against the person, to act as a deterrent.
ESPN also reported that "…members of the military have reached out to Brady to inform him that the lasers shined near his face could cause irreversible eye damage."
From ESPN and many subsequent sources such as the Boston Herald and CBS Sports
UPDATED April 11 2019: Dwyan Morgan, 64, was identified as the man who aimed a laser at Tom Brady during the American Football Conference championship game on January 20 2019. He was cited with one count of disturbing the peace; the penalty is up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000. Morgan will appear in Jackson County Municipal Court on July 17.
According to Heavy.com, Morgan is an electrician from Lee's Summit, Missouri. The website also said that a younger male relative posted items on Facebook making light of the citation and Brady.
According to TMZ, "Sources connected to Morgan tell us ... his intention was never to hurt anyone, he was just trying to have fun and didn't expect things to blow up the way they did. We're also told Morgan was drinking before the laser incident...." TMZ also reported that "One source close to the Chiefs fan says he feels bad for embarrassing Chiefs Nation, but has no plans to apologize to the Patriots. In fact, we're told he still hates the Pats and Tom Brady ... passionately and will continue to root against them -- just not from Arrowhead [Stadium], because he's been banned."
From the Boston Herald, Heavy.com, TMZ, and a press release from the Jackson County Prosecutor
UPDATED May 13 2019: Dwyan Morgan told Inside Edition he did not intend to injure Tom Brady. Morgan said he was intoxicated and wanted to distract the quarterback. He said "I shouldn't have done it" but also said he is not gong to apologize to Brady or the Patriots football team. From Inside Edition
Dwyan Morgan recreates his aiming a laser pointer at Tom Brady, for the TV show Inside Edition
Dwyan Morgan and his 23-year-old son Colton both appear to be amused by Dwyan getting a misdemeanor citation for "Disturbing the peace by shining a laser pointer in the direction of Tom Brady during a football game."
In the October 25 2018 tweet, the company also said that "…our drivers have been advised if it happens again not to operate via Drongan."
Due to the lack of a possessive apostrophe, it was unclear whether one driver had been attacked, or if this occurred to multiple drivers.
A local paper contacted the company for more information, but they "declined to comment further." It is not known if the laser caused any eye effects or injuries.
From the Cumnock Chronicle
The injury occurred at approximately 5 pm local time on October 1 2018.
Ophthalmologists examined the guard's eye and diagnosed a laser-induced retinal injury.
According to the Ukrainian State Border Service, this was the seventh case of Russian-led forces using blinding lasers against Ukrainian troops since 2014. At least five of these injuries were not permanent: "all of the  affected troops have had their eyesight almost fully restored."
From the Kyiv Post, October 2 2018. An earlier Kyiv Post story March 29 2018 has a few additional details about earlier attacks. LaserPointerSafety.com also reprinted a May 28 2018 Kyiv Post story on the topic.
It notes that an 8-year-old boy playing with a laser pointer suffered irreversible retinal damage to his left eye.
The story says "such cases are not rare" at the Shanghai Xinshijie Eye Hospital.
It also says that a "study conducted by the national quality authority found 29.8 percent of children have had access to laser products, laser pointers being the most common." It is not known what other, non-pointer, laser products were included in the study.
According to the story, the "government has issued a warning to alert parents not to buy laser pointers as toys for their children, but they are still widely available in local stationery stores. Most laser pointers don’t come with safety alerts to warn of the dangers present." The story did not say whether this was a national, provincial or local government warning.
From Shine News (Shanghai Daily)
He was trapped for about an hour and was conscious during the rescue. He died after being transported by ambulance to a hospital.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will investigate the death.
From Boston 25 News
The RNLI launching authority said “This was an appalling, reckless attack on our crew. They were navigating in near total darkness. The laser could have permanently damaged any of the crew’s vision had it shone directly into their eyes. Not only could it have done serious harm to our volunteers, it might well have jeopardized the rescue mission and put other lives at risk.”
None of the crew were harmed. The lifeboat continued its search; the missing person was eventually found by a police helicopter.
Vanderpool told his story in June 2018, to try to warn others to be careful about laser pointers. He said “We watched Star Wars and they had laser guns so we really didn’t know how dangerous it was.”
While he still has unspecified damage, treatment helped to repair much of the damage.
According to a news story, “the Indiana Academy of Ophthalmology and the Indiana State Medical Association are working on a resolution to deal with the laser pointer issue. They hope to release their findings by the end of September .”
From RTV6 The Indy Channel
Commentary from LaserPointerSafety.com: Star Wars depicts lasers as weapons — not as toys. People die or are severely injured by the laser blasters and laser-like lightsabers. It is not clear how someone who watches Star Wars would not understand that lasers are dangerous — at least, as used in Star Wars.
“As a result of enquiries into the use of a laser pointer at the Ulverstone Basketball Stadium during the Northwest Thunder game Saturday 16 June 2018, a 13 year old youth has been cautioned under the provisions of the Youth Justice Act.
“This incident was reported to police by club representatives after a formal complaint was lodged with the South East Australian Basketball League (SEABL) on Monday. No further action will be taken.
“Members of the public are reminded that it is an offence to possess, carry or use a laser pointer in a public place without a lawful excuse.”
As reported in ForeignAffairs.co.nz and Mirage News
The most serious injury that the boy caused was a large hole in his macula, shown with the yellow arrows.
Two other areas of injury were not immediately visible in a funduscopic exam of the retina (photo A, using ordinary white light) but were clearly visible using fundus autofluorescence imaging (blue arrows in photo B, using a narrow wavelength of light). The round area to the left in both photos is the optic disc, a natural feature where the optic nerve begins — it is not laser damage.
The macula is where central vision occurs. The fact that the injury occurred in the macula indicates that the boy looked directly into the laser light with his left eye. Damage to the macula is serious as this area provides high resolution, color vision in the center of the visual field.
The injury reduced the boy’s vision to 20/100 in the injured left eye; his right eye remained at 20/20. The boy’s ophthalmologists felt the hole was too large and too much time had passed since the injury for surgery. (The doctors suspected that the boy had injured his eye at least a year earlier.) Because surgery might make things worse, causing a cataract without improving the macula, they “favored conservative management.”
There was no improvement in vision even 1 1/2 years after the injury was first presented to the ophthalmologists.
The power of the laser pointer, and other details of the incident, were not described in the one-paragraph report published June 21 2018. One of the authors told CNN the boy’s father “had bought the laser as a toy from a street merchant.”
From the New England Journal of Medicine (N Engl J Med 2018; 378:2420, DOI: 10.1056/NEJMicm1714488) Authors: Sofia Androudi, M.D., Ph.D., and Eleni Papageorgiou, M.D., Ph.D. Additional reporting by CNN. This story was picked up by many other news sites around the world.
The boy was playing with a classmate, trying to dodge the beam. At some point it hit the boy’s left eye. He felt a stinging sensation and became light sensitive.
During a routine eye exam two weeks later, a retinal burn was seen. The boy underwent photocoagulation treatment and will need regular follow-up exams to monitor the eye’s healing, but he did not suffer any vision loss, said Wu Pei-chang, director of the Department of Ophthalmology at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Kaohsiung (third-largest city in Taiwan).
From the Taipei Times
The California Highway Patrol received a number of calls from motorists who saw or were illuminated by the laser light.
James Gilbert Trujillo, 33, was arrested on suspicion of discharging a laser at an aircraft in the June 6 incident. He will appear in court June 11.
From the Victorville Daily Press and San Bernardino Sun. This news item was also filed under the Aviation incident news section.
On March 27 2018, Officer Dan Sells of the Lafayette (Indiana) Police Department was in a hospital conference room for a debriefing, along with two other officers and a dispatcher. Sells and another officer disarmed their Taser stun guns and began shining the Taser’s laser pointer (used for aiming) at the dispatcher.
Sells became distracted for a few minutes. He then picked up the Taser, intending to continue the laser pointer horseplay. However he forgot he had armed the Taser. When he pulled the trigger to turn on the laser pointer, the Taser fired, sending the electric prongs into the dispatcher’s foot.
He received a five-day suspension for unbecoming conduct, unsatisfactory performance, misuse of department equipment and misusing a weapon.
On May 30 2018 Sells agreed to a 10-day suspension for apparently unrelated charges (in a separate incident) of unbecoming conduct, unsatisfactory performance, and violating evidence-gathering procedures.
From the Journal & Courier
In the first case, the macular area of a boy’s eyes were damaged so that he could not see an object at 10 cm. The damage was confirmed by retinal examination.
In the second case, a 15-year-old high school student also has burns on his macular area, from when a classmate aimed a laser pen at him. He could only see objects within 50 cm, and there were scars consistent with those left by clinical lasers.
Both cases were reported by Xie Airui, an eye specialist at the Ineye Hospital of Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Both cases occurred between September 2017 and May 2018.
According to a May 31 2018 news story, laser pens have become popular with some schoolchildren in Chengdu. Many stationery shops sell them for prices between USD $0.80 and $31.00. in 2014 the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine warned consumers about laser pointer hazards. “But no market supervisors have taken up the matter in a serious way, according to Xu Bin, a lawyer in Chengdu.”
From China Daily via Ecns.cn
At least six Ukrainian servicemen deployed to the Donbas war zone have suffered serious eye damage from unidentified optical radiation devices used by Kremlin-backed militants on several occasions since 2016.
The military believes that the soldiers were likely targeted with blinding laser devices, which Russia brought to Donbas in order to test this new advanced technology in battlefield conditions. If independently confirmed, the usage of such weapons can be qualified as a war crime, according to international law.
Since the war’s outbreak in 2014, there have been at least three such incidents recorded by the State Border Service and the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.
On July 18, 2016, three Ukrainian border guards deployed to a forward checkpoint between the city of Maryinka just west of Russian-occupied Donetsk suffered severe eye injuries as they surveyed enemy territory in front of them through binoculars and monoculars.
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The shrine of Madhin Saheb was built in 1444 in Srinagar, a city in the Kashmir Valley. In the late 20th century, the shine was popular with locals and tourists. Sunni and Shia Muslims worshipped together inside the shrine. The article states:
The peace was, however, broken in 2002, after a rumour spread in Srinagar that some miracle had happened inside the shrine. The rumour spread like a wildfire and a number of people rushed to the shrine. Though there are different versions on the incident, the largely accepted one is that Shias claimed that the outer wall of the shrine had some blood spots on it and a “Shia flag was miraculously erected on the roof of the shrine, hence the entire monument belongs to them.”
“It was a mischief done by someone. The blood spots were actually a beam from a laser pointer, a trending device then used as a source of amusement,” says Ghulam Nabi, 62, who was among the hundreds of people present on the spot that day.
He says that soon after this act, riots broke out near the shrine and its adjoining areas leaving many people injured. “It was chaos all around. No one from either sect was ready to listen. It was only after tiresome efforts by police and civil administration that the situation was brought under control,” Nabi says. Following the incident, Department of Archives, Archeology & Museums sealed the shrine, and since then, entry to it is restricted.
The director of the Department of Archives was quoted as saying “Though there has been an improvement in the situation since the day it (shrine) was closed, we do not think that opening this shrine right now would be a reasonable decision. We respect the sentiments of people attached to the shrine, but we have to keep it shut till situation returns to normal. The monument will be opened one day. We see that happening soon, Insha-Allah.”
From the Kashmir Narrator
An April 12 2018 story says that although “[s]evere torture and unscientific handling” can cause problems, that laser pointers also may have been used recently by “a mysterious group with vested interests.”
According to the story, “There were complaints that light beams were shined continuously from a distance into the eyes of elephants paraded at the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram and some other local temples in Thiruvalla and Pathanamthitta. It was alleged that the jumbos turned restive and violent after being blinded with the high-powered laser pointer.”
The story includes a 47-second video clip of an elephant refusing to get onto a truck, while a dot moves around on and near the elephant.
COMMENTARY FROM LASERPOINTERSAFETY.COM
An analysis indicates that the moving dot is not from a laser, but is from lens flare — internal reflection in the camera lens of a bright light in the scene.
The screenshot below, from one second into the video, shows the dot circled in green, and a bright light circled in red.
As the video is played, the dot moves around. Its movements are correlated with the bright light. For example, when the elephant’s body blocks the light, the dot disappears. Because it is a reflection, it moves opposite to the light, and its movement also changes based on the tilt of the camera lens.
In addition, the dot appears yellow or white. This correlates with the light color. Yellow is very uncommon for laser pointers, while there are no “white” laser pointer beams. A green or red dot would indicate an actual laser.
While there may be other incidents of laser pointer misuse in Kerala, the moving dot in this particular video does not, in the view of LaserPointerSafety.com, show a laser dot or any actual (real-world) light on the elephant.
From Manorama Online