Minuteman claims assault by laser pointer

Report filed; police say investigation continues

Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2006

Shortly before 8 a.m. on Feb. 11, Stephen Schreiman was taking photographs of the day laborers who gather near Grace United Methodist Church in Gaithersburg.

Thirty minutes later, he said his eye hurt and he had a throbbing headache.

By noon, he was in the Gaithersburg police station, filing charges of simple assault against a man he claims aimed a laser pointer at him and his camera.

Schreiman, a Gaithersburg resident and president of Maryland’s weeks-old Minuteman Project chapter, has been sporadically monitoring the lot, taking photos of workers and those who hire them to then send to federal authorities.

He and the handful of Maryland residents so far recruited into the group, which is pressing for federal immigration policy reform, are also monitoring the county’s three existing day labor centers and other informal gathering spots.

Police have declined to release an incident report while the investigation is ongoing, but said that there was a previous incident that morning, when officers responded to an 8 a.m. call from day laborers complaining that there were ‘‘several white males taking their pictures and harassing them.”

Schreiman was unable to identify the man at the time, but now has two photographs from that morning showing what appears to be a man holding a small, shining red light in his hand. He said he gave the blurry photos to the police.

According to state law, ‘‘misuse of a laser pointer” is a misdemeanor that carries a fine not to exceed $500.

Gaithersburg police have dealt with a laser pointer assault once before. During the investigation of the Beltway snipers in 2002, a person who aimed a laser pointer at an officer was convicted of disorderly conduct.