Boater arrested for allegedly firing weapon at Coast Guard rescue helicopter

Published 7:15 am Sunday, September 18, 2022

NEW ORLEANS— Coast Guard Investigative Service arrested a boater near Venice, Louisiana, Friday who allegedly fired a weapon at a Coast Guard rescue helicopter.

Coast Guard Eighth District watchstanders initially received a distress signal early Thursday morning from an activated emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) belonging to a 40-foot sailing vessel approximately 75 miles south of Southwest Pass, Louisiana. Watchstanders coordinated the launch of a Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans MH-60 aircrew to respond.

Upon arriving on scene, the aircraft attempted to lower a radio down to the vessel and observed one person and two dogs aboard the vessel. The person then pointed what appeared to be a firearm at the helicopter. The aircrew heard objects striking the aircraft and immediately departed the scene due to aircraft and crew safety concerns. Upon  returning to Air Station New Orleans, the aircrew observed impacts to the helicopter rotors consistent with projectiles from a firearm.

The Coast Guard then dispatched a fixed-wing aircraft, a cutter with Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents aboard, and a 45-foot Response Boat- Medium (RB-M) boatcrew to track the vessel’s movement. Additionally, Coast Guard units remained in the vicinity of the vessel to ensure the protection of nearby mariners.

On Friday morning, the Coast Guard took the person into custody without incident. The person was successfully transported to Venice, Louisiana, and transferred to CGIS.

“Safety of life was our number one priority during this challenging incident,” said Lt. Phillip VanderWeit, spokesperson for the Eighth Coast Guard District. “Through the professional and skillful work of our crews and interagency partners, we were able to bring this incident to a peaceful resolution. The Coast Guard will continue to work across multiple levels of government to thoroughly investigate this incident.”

The incident remains under investigation.

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-USCG-