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Van Nuys man gets 25 years in prison for shooting LAPD helicopter

A 20-year-old man was sentenced to 25 years in prison Wednesday after pleading no contest to shooting at a Los Angeles police helicopter over Van Nuys and forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing.

Danny Anthony Lopez was 18 at the time of the shooting in April 2011, when he admitted opening fire on the Los Angeles police helicopter, hitting its fuel tank.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Martin Herscovitz handed down the sentence after Lopez pleaded no contest in August to two counts of assault on a peace officer with a semiautomatic firearm, said Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael Blake with the Crimes Against Peace Officers unit.

Lopez admitted opening fire on the police helicopter, striking the fuel tank and forcing it to make an emergency landing at Van Nuys Airport. No one was injured in the incident near Saticoy Street and Densmore Avenue.

The helicopter was responding to a call at the time of the shooting. LAPD investigators were able to quickly determine where the shot came from, and Lopez was arrested about an hour later. Lopez was taken into custody after being subdued by family members.

In exchange for Lopez's plea, prosecutors dropped charges of attempted murder of a peace officer, one count of shooting at an occupied aircraft and one count of carrying a loaded firearm as part of a street gang.

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-- Richard Winton
Follow Richard Winton (@LACrimes) on Twitter and Google+
 
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