AUTHORITIES ARRESTED a Santa Rosa man after tracking down the source of a high-power laser pointer that blinded a sheriff’s helicopter crew for several seconds last week.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office helicopter, Henry-One, was checking on a possible sideshow in the area of Santa Rosa Avenue and Kawana Springs Road about 9:20 p.m. Sept. 1 when a blue laser pointer was allegedly aimed at the aircraft.

Both the pilot and the tactical flight officer were blinded by the high-power beams, coming from West Avenue, according to the sheriff’s office.

The laser strike lasted several seconds and as the crew tried to pin down the source, a green laser pointer was aimed at them from the area of Pebblecreek Drive.

The blue laser allegedly struck the helicopter several more times and the crew was able to track the source to the 2200 block of West Avenue, using the helicopter’s onboard camera system.

Deputies on the ground were sent to the location and while Henry-One was overhead, the suspect pointed the blue laser at the helicopter two more times. Robert Stewart, 59, was found at the scene and allegedly had cocaine with him.

He was arrested on suspicion of pointing a laser at an occupied aircraft and possession of a controlled substance.

Authorities said that pointing a laser at an aircraft may impair the pilot’s ability to safely fly the aircraft and cause permanent damage to their eyes, and is a violation of state law as well as federal law. The Federal Aviation Administration can issue fines of $11,000 dollars for a single incident and up to $30,800 for multiple incidents.