A 56-year-old man in Georgia will spend more than a decade behind bars after he pleaded guilty to shooting at a police helicopter, federal prosecutors announced Thursday.
Terry Kielisch was sentenced to 15 years in prison and ordered to pay $54,960 in restitution to cover the repair costs on a Georgia State Patrol helicopter that was searching for fugitives when Kielisch aimed his rifle at it in 2019, prosecutors said in a news release.
Kielisch wasn’t a target in that search — but he reportedly told law enforcement “he fired at the helicopter because he didn’t like it flying near his home,” the release says.
“When Terry Kielisch aimed and fired a high-powered rifle at a police helicopter, he callously endangered the lives of the officers aboard the aircraft and of any people on the ground,” U.S. Attorney Bobby L. Christine said in the release. “The resulting sentence appropriately reflects the senselessness of this attack.”
According to Thursday’s news release, Kielisch fired two shots at the helicopter using a .308-caliber rifle on March 12, 2019.
Kielish shot near the helicopter’s fuel lines, forcing the pilot to land, prosecutors said. No one was injured.
A Georgia State Police trooper was piloting the helicopter at the time, and a Richmond County Sheriff’s Office investigator was sitting in the passenger’s seat, prosecutors said.
The helicopter was being used as part of Operation Gunsmoke with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to search for fugitives “accused of drug trafficking and illegal firearms possession in Georgia and South Carolina,” the news release says.
Kielisch pleaded guilty in February to two counts of assaulting a person assisting an officer of the U.S. and one count of using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, The Macon Telegraph reported.