Man arrested for allegedly using ‘high-powered’ laser to interfere with aircraft flying over Long Beach

A Long Beach man was arrested last week for allegedly using a “high-powered” laser to interfere with aircraft flying over the city, authorities said.

Mark Allen Barger, 46, was taken into custody and booked on one count of felony discharge of a laser at an occupied aircraft and violation of parole. Because Barger was found in violation of his parole, no bail was set.

Police say that for nearly a year, an unknown person, later identified as Barger, would anticipate the arrival of aircraft over the city and intentionally use a laser to point at its cockpit.

Over the last few weeks, officers and detectives investigated multiple incidents of a high-powered laser being used to interfere with Long Beach Police Department’s FOX helicopter, commercial airliners and private planes near Long Beach Airport, the LBPD said.

Video footage released by the LBPD shows the department’s helicopter flying over a residential area when a light beam appears to flash in its direction.

It was eventually discovered that the laser was coming from a general area 1500-1600 block of Silva Street, which is just north of Bixby Knolls.

On Jan. 18, LBPD detectives and FBI agents conducted an operation in which they observed Barger exit his home in the 1600 block of Silva Street and use a high-powered laser to point at the LBPD’s helicopter multiple times.

That’s when authorities took him into custody, police said, adding that pointing lasers at any aircraft is a serious offense, which can be subject to state or federal charges.

A motive is still under investigation, police said.

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Fernando Haro is the Long Beach Post's breaking news and public safety reporter.