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.