Man admits shooting helicopter piloted by state trooper

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — A Georgia man told investigators he shot a helicopter piloted by a state trooper because he didn’t like it flying near his home, federal prosecutors said Friday.

Terry Kielisch, 56, fired at least two shots at the helicopter in March using a .308-caliber rifle, prosecutors said in a news release. Along with the trooper pilot, a Richmond County Sheriff’s Office investigator was riding as a passenger.

The helicopter was part of Operation Gunsmoke, coordinated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It sought people accused of drug trafficking and illegal gun possession in Georgia and South Carolina, prosecutors said.

Kielisch lives in Blythe, about 145 miles east of Atlanta, and wasn’t a target of the operation. The helicopter was hit near the fuel lines, causing an estimated $60,000 in damage, but no one was injured and it landed safely, prosecutors said.

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“This defendant’s dangerous actions callously threatened the lives of two law-enforcement officers, damaged public property and threatened the safety of all residents near the scene of this incident,” U.S. Attorney Bobby Christine said in the release. “We are fortunate that no one was injured in this senseless attack.”

Kielisch pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of assaulting a person assisting an officer of the United States and one count of using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, according to court documents.

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