ST. LOUIS – A Lake St. Louis man is accused of pointing a laser at a Metro Air Support helicopter in the St. Louis area.

David Gammil, 44, was indicted in federal court last week on one count of aiming a laser at an aircraft. Gammil’s indictment alleges the incident occurred on Feb. 23.

The FBI and aviation authorities have warned that lasers can blind pilots. Such incidents are on the rise, as the Federal Aviation Administration reported nearly 10,000 last year, including dozens which resulted in reported injuries.

Gammil was arrested Wednesday and made his first appearance in court. He pleaded not guilty to the federal charge. If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison or $250,000 in fines.