FBI called over 2 laser beam cases at pipeline protest site

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – Authorities in southern North Dakota say the FBI has been contacted after a laser beam was aimed twice at an aircraft doing surveillance of an ongoing oil pipeline protest.

The Morton County Sheriff’s Office on Monday said a pilot reported a laser beam entering the cockpit and leaving him temporarily blind Wednesday. Then, on Sunday, the pilot was able to look away in time to avoid the laser.

Morton County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Donnell Preskey says the North Dakota Highway Patrol was flying the state plane.

Directing a laser at an airplane is a federal offense.

Protesters have disrupted construction of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline that’s designed to carry North Dakota crude to Illinois.

Construction has been temporarily shut down until a federal court hearing. A federal judge on Monday pushed the hearing to Sept. 8.