Orange County man arrested at birthday party for shooting at police helicopter

A still from an OCSD training video shows an Orange County Sheriff’s Office helicopter.

Officials announced Monday that a 39-year-old Orange County man faces 20 years in federal prison after he reportedly fired at an Orange County Sheriff’s Office helicopter as his birthday party went badly.

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, Laguna Niguel resident Justin Derek Jennings and his family were celebrating his birthday on March 9 when the incident occurred.

“Jennings had allegedly been drinking and became enraged. As the outbreak intensified, family members present at the scene left the house,” we read in the statement. “After most of the family left, Jennings allegedly removed the rifle from the safe and discharged an entire magazine of ammunition inside the home. The rest of Jennings’ family fled and reported the incident to law enforcement.

OCSD deputies responded to the home and flew the department helicopter over the location.

That’s when prosecutors alleged that the 39-year-old fired sporadically at the helicopter from the second floor of his home as it circled the residence, adding that the sporadic shooting lasted for about 20 minutes.

Jennings eventually left the residence and surrendered to authorities.

“During a search of Jennings’ home, law enforcement confiscated two revolvers, two handguns and two rifles, as well as multiple rounds of ammunition,” prosecutors say. “Bullet casings were scattered across the floor, and law enforcement also seized two magazines and a box of ammunition that was located on the couch under the window from which Jennings allegedly fired.”

The Laguna Niguel resident was charged with one count of attempting to damage, destroy or disable an aircraft.

Jennings, who is being held without bail, is scheduled to go to trial in August.

Authorities said he could face a maximum of 20 years in federal prison if convicted of the charges.