RIVERSIDE – A Menifee man who allegedly flashed a laser into the cockpit of a Riverside County sheriff’s helicopter – temporarily blinding the crew – was charged today, Aug. 25, with maliciously discharging a light at an aircraft.
George Kevin Tucker, 56, was arrested Wednesday, Aug. 23, following a months-long Riverside County sheriff’s investigation.
Tucker pleaded not guilty to the felony offense during an arraignment before Superior Court Judge David Gunn, who scheduled a status hearing for Sept. 6 at the Riverside Hall of Justice.
The defendant is being held in lieu of $10,000 bail at the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta. According to sheriff’s Sgt. Patrick Carroll, the laser assault occurred on May 2.
Carroll said Tucker aimed a colored light into the helicopter as the crew was conducting surveillance shortly before midnight near the intersection of Murrieta Road and Sun City Boulevard in Menifee.
He said the pilot managed to maintain control of the chopper in spite of the blinding light.
Carroll said, “There were additional aircraft laser strikes” impacting aerial operations in the ensuing weeks. Tucker, however, has only been charged with the one offense.
Investigators were able to gather sufficient evidence to connect the defendant to the assault, culminating in a search warrant being served at his home on Interlechen Drive, where `”several laser devices” were seized, according to Carroll.
Tucker has no prior documented felony convictions in Riverside County.