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‘Angry’ man accused of shooting at police helicopter after birthday party – WPXI

SANTA ANA, Calif. – A California man faces charges after authorities say he became angry at a 39th birthday party and shot at an Orange County Sheriff’s Office helicopter.

Justin Derek Jennings, 39, pleaded not guilty on Monday to attempting to damage, destroy or disable an aircraft. The judge ordered him held without bail.

The charges stem from an incident at Jennings’ March 9 birthday party when he allegedly began drinking “and became enraged,” the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said in a news release.

Family members began leaving the house where the party was being held “as his outburst intensified,” and then he pulled a rifle from a gun safe “and discharged an entire magazine of ammunition inside the house,” prosecutors say. Officials say the incident prompted the rest of Jennings’ family to flee and contact authorities.

Several Orange County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the incident, as well as a police helicopter that circled the area.

“Jennings then allegedly went to the second floor of the house and began firing his rifle into the air, only firing when he saw the helicopter,” prosecutors said. Citing court documents, they added that the shooting “continued intermittently for at least 20 minutes.”

Officials said Jennings surrendered to law enforcement after speaking with the deputy.

Authorities found two revolvers, two handguns, two firearms and ammunition in the home, including two magazines and a box of ammunition found on a couch near the window from which Jennings apparently fired, according to prosecutors. Bullet casings were found scattered on the floor.

It was not immediately clear what likely caused Jennings’ anger in March. On Monday, the judge set the trial to begin on August 5.

If convicted, Jennings could face a maximum of 20 years in prison.