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Man Says He Pointed Lasers At Planes At LaGuardia Airport, Not Friend Charged

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- After a Bronx man was charged with pointing a laser that police said injured several pilots' eyes at LaGuardia Airport, a family friend has claimed responsibility in a surprising courtroom turn.

It unfolded Friday at a court date for Frank Egan, who was arrested earlier this week on assault on a police officer, reckless endangerment and other charges.

Police said they found a device labeled "Laser 303″ on a refrigerator of his apartment and had said Egan admitted using the laser Monday night, but Egan denied it.

They said two police officers operating a helicopter assigned to the Aviation Unit sustained injuries to their eyes. The pilot of an Air Canada flight also suffered injuries, police said.

Egan was jailed for two days, after officers in a police helicopter tracked the source of the beam to his mother's apartment.

"The light actually hit us in the eye, so we were able to tell where it was coming from," Royston Charles, NYPD Aviation Unit said.

As CBS2's Lou Young reported, Egan was in the apartment, but so was Eddy Balaguer.

The friend, Balaguer, 54, came to court with Egan. Balaguer admitted having aimed the laser pointer at the police helicopter.

Balaguer told the court Egan was asleep in a bedroom when he pointed the laser, and said he let Egan take the fall because of his past.

Balaguer has been to jail 3 times already for drugs and assault. He hasn't been charged, at least as of yet. But he was taken into custody for having skipped court in a marijuana-possession case.

"Our concern was to get this individual, because we did not want this to continue," Det. Richard Mordarella, NYPD Aviation Unit, explained.

He and Egan are due back in court April 17. It should be clearer then who will ultimately be prosecuted.

A source at the DA's office said charges against Egan could be dropped next month when the investigation is complete.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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