A man from Indiana appeared in U.S. District Court in St. Louis Tuesday on a federal charge accusing him of temporarily blinding pilots of a Metro Air Support Unit helicopter in February.
Jason Foster, 47, was indicted March 8 on one count of aiming a laser at an aircraft, and arrested May 31 in Indiana. He pleaded not guilty to the charge Tuesday.
Foster’s indictment says the incident occurred on February 21. A court filing says the pilots were actively involved in an investigation at the time, and the laser temporarily blinded them.
David Gammil, 44, was also indicted in March, and accused of pointing a laser at the helicopter on February 23. He has also pleaded not guilty.
The charge carries a penalty of up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both.
Lasers can blind pilots, and aviation authorities say the incidents are on the rise, with almost 9,500 reported to the Federal Aviation Administration in 2022.
Charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The case was investigated by the St. Charles County Police Department and the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Colleen Lang is prosecuting the case.