Suburban man aimed laser pointer at state police plane, officials say

Saul Martinez Castanon and a video frame recorded by a camera on the state police plane. | Illinois State Police

CHICAGO — A suburban Chicago man has been charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly aiming a laser pointer at an Illinois State Police aircraft from his yard.

The ISP plane was on patrol Thursday night when its crew “reported being contacted by a hand-held device that emits amplified light (laser pointer) from the ground,” according to a state police press release.

Troopers used the plane’s camera to pinpoint the address of the home where the laser light originated, the ISP said. Several aircraft, including commercial aircraft “carrying hundreds of passengers,” reported the same issue as they departed O’Hare and Midway airports.

Berkeley police and state troopers went to the address identified by the plane and arrested 36-year-old Saul Martinez Castanon.

ISP released a video recorded by the plane’s camera that shows a green light rising from the ground.

“These laser pointers have been a national issue for aviators for several years,” the ISP statement said. “When pointed into an aircraft cockpit, the light can temporarily blind pilots as they navigate busy airspace or land the aircraft.”

Martinez is charged with two counts of misdemeanor disorderly conduct.