Laser incident interfered with search for Lubbock murder suspect

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Sherryol Elton Clack mug 720

Sherryol Elton Clack, 42, of Lubbock took a plea deal on Friday for Aiming a Laser Pointer at an Aircraft. 

The plea deal included new details about the case.

New court records said the DPS helicopter was flying over the 3500 block of 42nd Street, “to assist the Texas Anti-Gang Unit and the United States Marshals Service with apprehending a suspect wanted for murder.”

“The green laser … struck the pilot in the right eye, causing the pilot temporary blindness,” court records said. “The DPS helicopter pilot was unable to monitor the helicopter’s engine parameters and flight instruments due to his temporary blindness.” 

“The DPS helicopter had to abort the mission and it climbed to a position where it could locate the person aiming the laser at the DPS helicopter.”

Police on the ground located Clack who admitted he had the laser.  He told officials he did not mean to harm anyone and said he acted out of stupidity.

On the night it happened, Clack was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor.  He was able to post bond and get out of jail.  It was only later that a much more serious federal charge was filed. 

Federal records did not say which murder suspect was the subject of the helicopter search, but Arthur Manahan was located and arrested the next day. 

If a judge approves the plea deal, Clack will be sentenced at a later date to no more than five years in prison. 

Related Story: Lubbock man indicted for pointing laser at DPS aircraft

The following is a portion of court records filed on Friday. 

3. On November 1, 2018, at about 9:19 p.m., Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter N40TX (“DPS helicopter”) was flying in Lubbock, Texas, to assist the Texas Anti-Gang Unit and the United States Marshals Service with apprehending a suspect wanted for murder. Shortly after leaving the airport, at about 9:23 p.m., the cockpit of the DPS helicopter was illuminated with a green laser. The green laser continued to illuminate the DPS helicopter and struck the pilot in the right eye, causing the pilot temporary blindness. The DPS helicopter pilot was unable to monitor the helicopter’s engine parameters and flight instruments due to his temporary blindness. The DPS helicopter had to abort the mission and it climbed to a position where it could locate the person aiming the laser at the DPS helicopter. 

4. The DPS helicopter pilot and tactical flight officer were able to identify the person aiming the green laser at the DPS helicopter and told officers with the Lubbock Police Department (LPD) that the individual was in front of the residence at 3513 42nd Street, Lubbock, Texas. LPD officers responded to that address and found Sherryol Elton Clack, Jr., and another individual outside the residence. The LPD officer asked Clack if he had a laser pointer in his possession. Clack told the LPD officer that he did and gave the officer permission to remove the laser pointer from Clack’s front right pocket. The LPD officer removed a laser pointer from Clack’s frosts right pocket and found that it emitted a green laser beam. The LPD officers placed Clack under arrest. 

5. On November 14, 2018, agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) interviewed Clack. Clack stated that his friend had bought a laser pointer online and brought it over to Clack’s house. The friend told Clack that the laser pointer would reach the moon so Clack decided to aim the laser pointer at a helicopter that was flying in the area. Clack stated that it was his idea to aim the beam of the laser pointer at the DPS helicopter and he did so out of “stupidity.” Clack said that he didn’t intend to harm anyone. 

6. The pilot of the DPS helicopter suffered throbbing pain in his right eye alter being struck by the laser and that pain continued for approximately two days.

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