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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A Lemon Grove man was charged Wednesday with aiming a laser pointer beam at a San Diego police helicopter during a police protest last weekend in Hillcrest.

Rudy Alvarez, 24, is accused of shining the laser at the SDPD chopper around 8:30 p.m. June 6 near the area of 500 University Avenue, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Over the next hour, he allegedly pointed the laser at the aircraft “multiple times” as he marched with protesters through downtown San Diego.

He was spotted around 9:45 p.m. near 600 G Street, wearing clothing that matched a description provided by officers in the helicopter, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which said investigators found a “high-powered gray metal laser pointer” in his pants pocket when they took him into custody.

“Aiming a laser pointer at or near an aircraft could cause distraction or blindness to a pilot and the consequences could be devastating,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “We support the constitutional rights of free speech and assembly, but it is our duty to protect the public and law enforcement from danger.”

Alvarez was arraigned on Wednesday and is due back in court June 23.