Fillmore/ Discharging a Laser at the Sheriff?s Air Unit
12/29/2011 11:30:00 AM
Nature of Incident:
Discharging a Laser at the Sheriff's Air Unit
600 Block of Fernglen Circle, Fillmore
Date & Time:
12-27-2011 @ 9:30 p.m.
Sheriff's Gang Unit / Aviation Unit
(S)uspects, (V)ictims, (W)itnesses (D)ecedent
City of Residence
On 12-27-2011, at approximately 8:40 p.m., Ventura County sheriff's deputies responded to a call of shots fired in the 500 block of Central Avenue in Fillmore. Sheriff's deputies requested the assistance of the Sheriff's Aviation Unit in an attempt to search for the gunman who fled from the scene of the shooting.
Members of the Sheriff's Aviation Unit launched Air Squad 9 from the Camarillo Airport to assist in the search for the gunman. Air Squad 9 was manned by a sheriff's pilot, sheriff's crew chief, and by a Ventura County firefighter/paramedic. When they arrived on the scene of the shooting, the crew of Air Squad 9 utilized night vision goggles to assist in the search for the gunman.
While conducting the search, the crew was subjected to a laser being directed at the helicopter. Laser beams directed at any aircraft in flight, specifically during nighttime operations where crewmembers are aided by night vision goggles, have the potential to put the safety of crewmembers at risk. When a laser beam is directed at a subject utilizing night vision goggles, the subject can experience serious eye damage, whiteout conditions and disorientation because the night vision goggles do not have the ability to compensate for higher levels of light generated by a laser beam. Discharging a laser at an aircraft is a felony.
The crew of Air Squad 9 continued their search for the gunman involved in the shooting when they were subjected to a laser being directed at the helicopter a second time. The crewmembers were able to pinpoint the house where the laser beam was coming from, but they were unable to make contact with the occupants at that time. As a result of the laser incident, the crew of Air Squad 9 could not safely complete the flight and had to return to the Camarillo Airport.
On 12-28-11, members of the Sheriff's Gang Unit began assisting in the investigation of the incident. They arrested Torrey Phillips at his residence in the 600 block of Fernglen Circle for an outstanding felony warrant. When Phillips was arrested, he was found to be in possession of a green laser pointer. As a result of their investigation, gang unit investigators found that Phillips pointed the laser beam at the sheriff's helicopter on two different occasions on 12-27-11 while the helicopter was assisting in the search for the gunman.
Phillips was booked into the Ventura County Jail for discharging a laser at an aircraft and for felony warrants.
Deputy Preparing Media Release:
Senior Deputy Eric Tennessen
Media Release Date:
Senior Deputy Eric Tennessen 677-8771
Captain Mike Aranda