A federal judge sentenced a Fresno man to six months in prison for aiming a laser pointer at a Fresno police helicopter in March 2015.
Johnny Quenga, 29, also faces three years of supervised release in connection with the crime. Two police officers and a citizen were injured in a collision as the officers, in a patrol car, were investigating the March 5 incident.
According to federal officials, Quenga repeatedly struck the Air 1 helicopter with a powerful green laser attached to an airsoft rifle. The pilot and another officer aboard experienced visual interference, flash blindness, after-imaging and headaches. Quenga pleaded guilty in October. He was sentenced Tuesday.
The car crash took place as the officers were northbound on Blackstone Avenue and crossing Herndon Avenue when they were broadsided by a westbound Toyota 4Runner that hit the passenger side of the patrol car. It took firefighters more than 20 minutes to get both officers out of the car. The officer in the passenger seat sustained a broken femur and hip as well as back injuries and a collapsed lung. The driver sustained a concussion, broken teeth and injuries to his legs, arms and back.
Police arrested Quenga, 28, on San Pablo Avenue in Pinedale.
In the federal judicial district that includes the central San Joaquin Valley, federal officials reported that in 2015, there were 214 incidents involving lasers pointed at aircraft.