Jason A. Tobey, age 46, was sentenced to two years of probation and a $500 fine, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of the United States Attorney.

A Dunsmuir man who lives near the Mott Airport was found guilty last week of one count of threatening, intimidating, and interfering with a forest officer after threatening to shoot a firefighting helicopter out of the sky last year.

Jason A. Tobey, age 46, was sentenced to two years of probation and a $500 fine, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of the United States Attorney.

The verdict and sentence is the result of a one-day bench trial held on May 9 at the District Courthouse in Redding.

According to evidence presented at trial, in Sept. 2018, Tobey confronted a U.S. Forest Service employee multiple times threatening to shoot down helicopters that were assisting with efforts to fight the Delta Fire while it burned in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, according to the press release.

The Forest Service was using Mott Airport in Dunsmuir as a helibase in accordance with an agreement with the city and Siskiyou County. The helicopters were performing tasks such as infrared mapping to assist firefighters on the ground. Tobey lived adjacent to the airport and was angry about the helicopters’ flight path.

The Justice Department said Tobey told a Forest Service employee and a flight crew member that he was going to “shoot those [expletive referring to helicopters] out of the sky if I have to.” The following day Tobey returned to the airport gate after a helicopter landed and told the same Forest Service employee, “Did I not [expletive] make myself clear yesterday, or am I out of my [expletive] mind?”

Evidence at trial showed that pilots altered their preferred flight paths as a direct result of Tobey’s multiple threats. The judge rejected Tobey’s contention that his threats were protected by the First Amendment because threats to commit an unlawful act of violence like those made by Tobey are designed to intimidate and are not protected by the First Amendment, the release said.

Federal law prohibits threatening to damage, destroy, or disable any aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States with the apparent will and determination to carry out the threat, the release states.