A boater near Venice, Louisiana, was arrested on Friday after allegedly shooting a weapon at Coast Guard members who responded to a distress call, officials say.
The Coast Guard responded Thursday to a distress signal from a 40-foot sailboat that was “about 75 miles south of Southwest Pass, Louisiana,” according to a Saturday news release. The Coast Guard dispatched a helicopter with a crew to assist the boater in distress.
But when authorities arrived at the scene, the person “pointed what appeared to be a gun at the helicopter,” the statement said. “The crew heard objects hitting the aircraft and immediately left the scene due to aircraft and crew safety concerns.”
The Coast Guard crew returned to New Orleans Air Force Station and found the helicopter had been shot down, the statement said.
The boater was finally arrested Friday “without incident” when agents from the FBI and the Coast Guard Investigative Service returned in a fixed-wing aircraft and a response boat, the statement said. The Coast Guard did not name the boater or specify the charges.
“Safety of life was our number one priority during this difficult incident,” Lt. Phillip VanderWeit, spokesman for the Eighth Coast Guard District, said in the statement. “Thanks to the professional and skillful work of our teams and our inter-agency 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 fully investigate this incident,” the statement said.
Venice, Louisiana is west of the Mississippi River, about 75 miles south of New Orleans.