Woman arrested after pointing laser at landing aircraft

A local resident was taken into custody Friday for allegedly aiming a laser pointer at several aircraft attempting to land at McAllen-Miller International Airport, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney Ryan Patrick.

A criminal complaint says Ruth Ann Hopp, 46, used the laser pointer on several airplanes during the landing portion of various flights, a point when it is most crucial for pilots to be alert.

Several pilots reported similar incidents, all involving a laser.

During Hopp’s initial appearance Monday morning, she was ordered temporarily into custody pending a detention hearing set for that afternoon.

If convicted, Hopp faces up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.

When the beams of a laser pointer strike an aircraft, the light can create a visual distraction, briefly blinding the pilot or causing long-term damage to the pilot’s eyes.

The FBI and Customs and Border Protection Air & Marine Branch conducted the investigation.