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FAA: News Helicopters Were Among More Than 20 Laser Strikes Reported Nationwide

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The helicopter pilots of three local news stations, including Chopper 2, were among more than 20 pilots who reported laser strikes around the country Wednesday night, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

Chopper 2 was flying over a scene late Wednesday afternoon in Brooklyn when CBS2's Joe Biermann saw a green laser bounce around several times inside the cockpit.

An NYPD helicopter responded.

"When we were looking there, we got lasered," Biermann said. "(At the same time), the NYPD was right next to us, so they hovered above the place – a green laser."

The pilots for the news helicopters of two other local stations, WNBC and WABC, also reported laser strikes Wednesday evening, according to the FAA.

The WNBC helicopter was hit around 5 p.m. near the Barclays Center and close to where Chopper 2 was hovering at the time.

The WABC helicopter was near Newark Liberty International Airport around 5:20 p.m. when its pilot was also struck, the FAA said.

Officers on the ground were able to track one of the lasers to the back of a building on the 900 block of Fulton Street in Brooklyn. That's where they arrested two men, though they have not yet been charged.

A third person was taken into custody in New Jersey.

Soon after the incidents in our area, the FAA said there were three more in Texas. Officials said jets at Dallas Love Field were hit by lasers while getting ready to land at the airport.

By late evening, pilots had reported laser strikes in multiple cities, including Oakland, Palm Springs, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, Albuquerque, Detroit and Sacramento as well as cities in Florida, Kentucky and Illinois, the FAA said.

Laser strikes were also reported by pilots in Ontario, Canada and San Juan, Puerto Rico, the FAA said.

No injuries were reported in any of the incidents.

Pointing a laser at an aircraft is a federal crime punishable by thousands of dollars in fines or even prison time. Last year, a California man was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Through Oct. 16 of this year, the FAA said there have been 17 laser strikes reported near Kennedy Airport, 65 near LaGuardia and 55 near Newark.

Around the country, the FAA said there have been more than 5,000 reports of aircraft hit by lasers so far this year.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has proposed a law that would ban the sale of green lasers, WCBS 880's Peter Haskell reported.

"Sooner or later, a pilot will be blinded, and sooner or later, there will be unnecessary tragedy and even death," Schumer said.

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