Blythe man admits to shooting at helicopter during federal law enforcement operation

Georgia News

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – A Blythe man pled guilty to federal charges for shooting a helicopter that was being used for a law enforcement operation.

56-year-old Terry Kielisch pled guilty in U.S. District Court on two counts of assaulting a person assisting an officer of the United States, and one count of use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

Kielisch could face up to a maximum of life in prison. There is no parole in the federal system.

“This defendant’s dangerous actions callously threatened the lives of two law-enforcement officers, damaged public property and threatened the safety of all residents near the scene of this incident. We are fortunate that no one was injured in this senseless attack.”

Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia

On March 12, 2019, Kielisch fired at least two shots with a .308 caliber rifle at the Georgia State Patrol helicopter flown by a GSP trooper, because he did not like the aircraft flying near his home. A Richmond County Sheriff’s Office investigator was a passenger. The helicopter was supporting Operation Gunsmoke, which is a sweep of those accused of drug trafficking and illegal firearms possession in Georgia and South Carolina. Operation Gunsmoke is coordinated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Kielisch was not a target of the operation.

The helicopter was struck near fuel lines, receiving around $60,000 in damage. Neither the pilot or the passenger were injured. The pilot was able to land the helicopter safely.

“An individual who will thoughtlessly endanger our law enforcement community will not be tolerated. ATF, along with our law enforcement partners, is committed to combating violent crime to protect our communities.”

Henry Countryman, Acting Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)

“The Georgia State Patrol is grateful the crew and those on the ground weren’t injured as a result of Kielisch’s careless actions. We are equally grateful to U.S. Attorney Christine for the swift resolution in this case.”

Lt. Stephanie L. Stallings, Public Information Director for the Georgia State Patrol

“Protecting our courageous and dedicated law enforcement officers is the sheriff’s greatest responsibility. “We are appreciative to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their prompt attention to these dangerous unprovoked actions.”

Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree.

This case was investigated by the GSP, ATF and the RCSO. It is being prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hank Syms Jr.

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