Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Sunday, July 12, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Day 78° Clear
News >  Spokane

Police say man pointed laser at helicopter, facing felony charge

UPDATED: Thu., Feb. 21, 2019

Spokane County Sheriff’s deputies on Wednesday arrested a man on suspicion of shining a laser pointer at a law enforcement helicopter flying over Spokane Valley.

The pilots of the helicopter identified the address, and at 10:30 p.m. when deputies knocked on the door of the house, at the 300 block of Dishman-Mica Road, Janson L. McElfish, 41, was holding the laser pointer in his hand, according to a news release.

McElfish said he was playing with the laser outside and pointing it at trees. He moved the laser toward the top of a tree and accidentally pointed it at “something in the air and then pointed it at an aircraft flying overhead,” the news release stated.

He said he didn’t think it would reach the helicopter.

McElfish faces one charge of unlawful discharge of a laser, a felony.

“Pointing a laser at any aircraft is a felony under Washington State law, and anyone caught committing this extremely dangerous act will be arrested and potentially even face federal charges,” the news release stated.

McElfish was released from Spokane County Jail as of Thursday, according to jail records.

Pointing lasers at helicopters isn’t new for the sheriff’s office. A man was arrested in 2016, also for pointing a laser at a helicopter in Spokane Valley.

Local journalism is essential.

The journalists of The Spokesman-Review are a part of the community. They live here. They work here. They care. You can help keep local journalism strong right now with your contribution. Thank you.

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.

Swedish Thoracic Surgery: Partners in patient care

 (Courtesy Bergman Draper Oslund Udo)

Matt Bergman knows the pain and anger that patients with mesothelioma feel.