<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Southern California News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Mon, 01 Sep 2014 19:24:40 -0700 Mon, 01 Sep 2014 19:24:40 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Two Killed, One Wounded in Separate South LA Shootings]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 17:54:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/siren3.jpg

Officers in South LA on Monday went on a tactical alert after three people were shot -- two fatally -- in two incidents within an hour and less than a half mile apart, police said.

The modified tactical alert in the LAPD's South Bureau ordered officers to handle only radio calls and not write traffic tickets while the incidents were being investigated, said LAPD Officer Jane Kim.

Homicide investigators believe the incidents were possibly gang related, but no links had been made between the incidents.

Two people were fatally shot at 2:07 p.m. at West Florence and South Vermont avenues.

A second shooting left a person wounded at 3 p.m. at West 65th Street and Vermont Avenue.

<![CDATA[Teen Boys Found Safe After Being Reported Missing in Storm Drain]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 17:18:04 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/222*120/breaking+news+la+generic.jpg

Two boys were found in a storm drain after being reported missing in Oak Park, officials said.

Firefighters in Oak Park had been trying to locate two boys who apparently walked into a storm drain Monday afternoon and hadn't been seen since.

Crews were called out to Kanan Road and Tamarind Street, according to the Ventura County Fire Department.

<![CDATA["It Has to Go Home": Owner of World War II Book Sought]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 16:12:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/world+war+2+scrapbook.JPG

When Bill Krantz happened upon a battered book with broken binding during a long bike ride in Pasadena, he immediately knew he had found something precious.

In its pages, the real life story of a man, perhaps in his 90s, who fought in World War II. Black-and-white photos with handwritten captions give a glimpse into the life of a soldier more than 70 years ago.

“This is important for somebody,” Krantz said. “This is a lifetime of memories.”

That somebody is Albert Ortiz of Los Angeles, said Krantz and his wife, Martine Alter.

“It’s a little slice of history, it can’t be lost,” Alter said. “It has to go home.”

Within hours, the couple put up flyers and posted photos of the book on Craigslist, hoping to find Ortiz or someone related to him.

“Somebody’s whole war experience is in that book,” Krantz said.

As the couple waits for a possible bite, they have gently combed through the pages hoping to find clues as to where he might be.

“I hope this guy is still alive so that I can shake his hand,” Alter said.

The couple is asking anyone who knows Albert Ortiz to email Alter at M.Alter@sbcglobal.net.

<![CDATA[Solidarity Celebrated in Labor Day Parade]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 15:03:05 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/wilmington+labor+day+parade.JPG

American workers and an ever-growing immigrant workforce gathered to “promote solidarity” and cultural connections during the 35th annual Labor Day parade in Wilmington Monday morning.

The parade featured classic cars, marching bands, and several American and Mexican flags as the call for diversity in the workforce took center stage on Avalon Boulevard.

"We are like in the 1800s, when the immigrants were European. When they were German and Italian and Irish,” said Maria Elena Durazo of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. “Today, they're from all parts of the world.”

Latinos are making a large impact on today’s workforce, particularly in Southern California, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

"There's a lot of Latinos, the voter registration is a lot bigger than it used to be," said Val Macedo of the Laborers’ International Union.

Still, workers said along the parade route that their struggles are the same as they have always been.
"Right now too many people work too hard for too little. And that's why we're engaged in raising the minimum wage," Durazo said.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Monday a plan to raise the minimum wage to $13.25 by 2017.

<![CDATA[OC Residents Urged to Prepare for Disaster]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 18:53:26 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/emergency_preparedness.jpg

Orange County residents were urged to prepare for emergencies and disasters less than a week after Time magazine ranked the county as the second-most dangerous area in the United States when it comes to natural disasters.

September kicks off National Emergency Preparedness Month, and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department was calling on residents to be prepared since authorities wouldn’t be able to respond quickly to every emergency call.

“Getting to every person quickly following an emergency will simply not be possible -- especially if trees and power lines are down,” Lt. Jeff Hallock said in a statement. “The more people who are prepared for a disaster, the quicker the community will recover afterwards.”

The statement comes only a few days after Time magazine released “The Answers Issue,” which ranked more than 3,000 counties on safety from a natural disaster. Orange County was ranked No. 2 on the “Most Dangerous Counties” list.

Hallock said Monday that he was in the process of contacting the editor of the Time piece to discuss what he felt was "inaccurate methodology" used in the report's findings.

"I just think we have a responsibility to the people of Orange" to not give them a false sense of how dangerous the county is, Hallock said.

Time explains on their website how they came up with the ranking, using the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as their source of information.

“We tallied up every event in the contiguous United States that has caused death, property damage, injuries or crop damage in each county. Then we created a metric, called the disaster index, that is based on the average of each county’s events plus the events of its neighboring counties.

“For example, California’s Orange County’s disaster index is the sum of its events (120) and all its neighbors events (754) divided by the count of neighboring counties plus one (5). This gives Orange County a safety index of 174.8,” according to the website.

Back in Orange County, residents were told to follow simple steps to be prepared in the event of a disaster, including making a kit and making an emergency plan.

<![CDATA[Arson Suspect Found Holding Lighter at Fire: Sheriff]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 11:48:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/arson+fire+dana+point+lighter+1.jpg

A man arrested in connection with an Orange County fire was found holding a lighter inside the burning building, according to the sheriff's department.

The fire was reported early Sunday morning at the Dana Point Arts Plaza building in the 34100 block of Pacific Coast Highway. After hearing the sound of breaking glass, deputies located a 27-year-old Laguna Niguel man with the lighter inside the building, according to a news release from the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

The suspect was arrested on suspicion of arson and burglary. He was being held on $50,000 bond and a court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday.

About 50 Orange County Fire Authority firefighters responded to the fire, extinguished in about 30 minutes. There were no reports of injuries.

Photo Credit: OnScene]]>
<![CDATA[Deputy Hospitalized After 14 Freeway Rollover Crash]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 11:29:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/LA+County+Sheriff%27s+Deputy+Badge.PNG

A Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy was hospitalized Monday morning after a single-vehicle rollover crash in the Antelope Valley.

The deputy was responsive and speaking with other deputies after she was rescued from the patrol vehicle, according to the sheriff's department.

The crash was reported at about 4:30 a.m. on the 14 Freeway, southwest of Palmdale. The freeway was closed near the Santiago Road exit ramp for the crash investigation.

The deputy was returning to the Palmdale station after taking an inmate to a regional detention facility, City News Service reported. She was the only occupant in the vehicle at the time of the crash.

<![CDATA[Mayor: Minimum Wage Bump Would "Restore Dignity"]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 19:22:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/garcetti+immigration+web.PNG

Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a proposal to raise the Los Angeles minimum wage to $13.25 an hour and "restore dignity for all Angelenos" when he attended a Labor Day rally Monday in South Los Angeles.

Garcetti has been shopping a plan to business groups to raise the  minimum wage to $13.25 by 2017. The wage would go up by $1.25 the first year,  and $1.50 each of the following two years, after which it would be pegged to  the cost of living.

The minimum hourly wage in California is $9 and set to go up to $10 in  2016.

Los Angeles would be joining cities like New York, Chicago, San  Francisco and Oakland where minimum wage increases are being considered,  according to the National Employment Law Project, a group that advocates for  minimum wage increases. Seattle recently approved a measure to increase the minimum hourly wage  to $15 by 2017, while San Diego approved a wage that would rise to $11.50 an  hour by 2017.

The $13.25 per hour minimum wage that is expected to be pushed by  Garcetti would be among the highest in the nation, the group said.

The anticipated $13.25 proposal would still be less than the $15 minimum  hourly wage that is on the November ballot in San Francisco. The business and  labor community there agreed to put the issue to the voters, the group said.

Los Angeles business leaders voiced concern last week over the plan, but two major business groups have not taken official stances on the issue. Stuart Waldman, president of the Valley Industry and Commerce  Association, said the group's board members will listen to Garcetti's proposal before taking a position.

Waldman said last week the proposal would hurt some businesses and could  result in job loss.

Gary Toebben, president of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce,  said the feedback from members has "largely been one of concern about what  impact this will have on small businesses and nonprofits." Toebben said earlier that the recently instituted statewide hike of the  minimum wage to $9 and ultimately to $10 "will have less of an impact" than a  hike for an individual city.

The mayor's office would not confirm the specifics of the proposal, but  mayoral aide Jeff Millman issued a statement saying officials have been meeting  with business leaders, as well as "labor, community and faith leaders" to  talk about "ways to help L.A. families and our economy thrive."

<![CDATA[Music Ends, Cleanup Begins at Grand Park]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 09:15:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/grand+park+made+in+america+cleanup+monday.jpg

Cleanup crews moved into Grand Park early Monday after tens of thousands of music fans packed the downtown Los Angeles venue over the weekend during a two-day concert that featured John Mayer, Kanye West, Weezer, Iggy Azalea, Kendrick Lamar and Cypress Hill.

The Budweiser Made in America event, which featured about 30 solo  performers and bands, was touted by Mayor Eric Garcetti as a way to show it's  possible to throw a "great party right here in the heart of the city." Sunday's crowd of ticket holders was placed at 37,419, up from 34,374  Saturday, said Los Angeles police Officer J. Kim.

A total of 80 arrests or citations were reported Sunday, the concert's  second day, Kim said. There were three felony arrests, 10 involving misdemeanors and 67 citations that included 35 alcohol and traffic violations. Also Sunday, several people were treated for illness or injuries as temperatures climbed into the 90s.

Twenty-nine arrests were reported on Saturday, the first day of the  concert. In all, six people were arrested on Saturday for alleged felonies that were narcotics-related, according to Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Andy  Neiman. The other 23 were arrested for misdemeanors, primarily alcohol  offenses, according to Neiman.

Grand Park, the venue for the Made in America music festival, will  remain closed to the public until Tuesday while it is cleaned, authorities  said. Workers were taking down stages and equipment early Monday.

Philadelphia was the site of a sister festival that featured some of the  same performers. revious Made in America events held in Philadelphia generated about $10 million in local spending, according to event organizers, and would likely be  a $12 million boon to the Los Angeles economy, Garcetti said.

"We showed L.A. can do big things for our economy and people's  enjoyment," Garcetti said in a statement. "We want leading companies and event organizers to  know we're changing LA so it's not longer a place where red tape is allowed  to stand in the way of jobs, innovation and entertainment."

To reimburse costs to taxpayers, Live Nation agreed to pay $500,000 to  the city to cover policing and related services for the concert. Live Nation  also agreed to pay for any damage to public property. Live Nation also will pay $600,000 for the use of the county-owned Grand  Park, which is run by The Music Center.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[SoCal High School Retires Controversial Arab Mascot]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 08:50:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/arab-mascot-update.jpg

A Southern California high school has retired a controversial Arab mascot that prompted objections from an anti-discrimination group last year.

Coachella Valley High School's mascot, which appears as a sneering man with a scraggly beard, hooked nose and a headscarf, has been retired, the Desert Sun reported. School officials said the old mascot will be replaced by a stoic, neatly groomed man

A belly-dancing genie that often appears with the mascot during football games was also retired, according to the report.

The controversy began last November when a community member of Coachella Valley High School in Coachella, Calif., located just east of Palm Springs, brought the mascot to the attention of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.

After gathering opinions from the Arab-American community, many felt the mascot was demeaning and the group decided to act, said Abed A. Ayoub, the group's director of legal and policy affairs.

Ayoub wrote a letter to the district on Nov. 1 saying that cartoons, mugs and T-shirts of the mascot around the campus were examples of stereotyping, and should not be tolerated.

The committee said it approves of the new design, the Desert Sun reported.

A final resolution is expected to be announced publicly in the near future.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California

<![CDATA[Chino PD on "AK-47 Bandit": "We're Going to Get Him"]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 15:23:30 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/217*120/ak47bandit.jpg

Authorities say a man who used an assault rifle to rob a bank in Nebraska earlier this month matches the description of a prolific bank robber responsible for a slew of heists across the western United States.

The FBI says the Aug. 22 robbery of the First National Bank branch in southeast Nebraska may be the work of the so-called "AK-47 Bandit," who is suspected of shooting a Chino police officer during a heist in February 2012.

"He shot one of our officers. We're going to get him," said Chino Police Det. Carlos Dominguez.

The bandit went on to hit up banks in Northern California, Idaho and Washington. He was dubbed the "AK-47 Bandit" because of his penchant for carrying the assault rifle into his targeted banks.

The FBI has offered a $100,000 reward for tips leading to his arrest. Chino police have scheduled a news conference for Monday afternoon to discuss the case.

Investigators said he has told victims that he used to be an officer, and surveillance video shows him usually wearing tactical gear, a full-face ski mask and blue ballistic vest or green mesh vest marked "Sheriff."

The aggressive robber has been known to point the rifle at crying children.

Police came close to catching him in Chino, but he got away after shooting the officer, who was seriously hurt.

Chino police detectives have flown out to Nebraska to help in the investigation.

"We want to make everyone aware of how violent this man is," Dominguez said. "He is not afraid to pull the trigger, he has already shot a police officer. So anyone that gives him any resistance, he's not afraid to act."

After robbing the California Bank & Trust in Chino in 2012, the man is believed to have robbed a Vacaville Bank of the West on March 12, 2012. He may have also tried to rob a bank in Sacramento a few days earlier.

The “AK-47 Bandit” is described as a white male, 25 to 40 years old, about 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing between 180 and 200 pounds.

<![CDATA[UberCHOPPER Takes Flight in LA]]> Sun, 31 Aug 2014 22:14:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/229*120/uberchopper123.jpg

There may be a day, not too far in the future, when we pull out our iPhone 127C and call for the nearest spaceship in our neck of the galaxy, because we really, really need to hit that new plasma restaurant on Centauri 6.

But until then? The rideshare boom is very much terrestrial-based. Summon an automobile, get in, get out, all without defying gravity or sailing over traffic.

That all changed in a rather dramatic and visual way on Sunday, Aug. 31 when a helicopter began to transport riders to Malibu with the sole purpose of quaffing wine. Well, quaffing wine and hashtagging the heck out of their experience, socia media-style, because, yeah, they just took a helicopter to their next glass of wine.

It was no mere helicopter, though: It was UberCHOPPER, as in Uber, the car company that picks people up and drops them off, quickity-like, a titan in the new (newish?) share economy.

"For a while it said no chopper available, and then all of a sudden it said 11 minutes, so I clicked it and it said 'en route,' and I said, 'No, way!'" said one user.

Will there be UberCHOPPERs on every corner now, hovering while awaiting passengers? Well, no. It was a promotion, just on the final day in August.

UberCHOPPER wasn't, however, strictly like any other scenic helicopter ride. The experience required that you use an Uber app, which calls an UberBLACK -- a posher set of wheels, yep yep -- to wherever you happen to be standing while staring at your phone. "If an UberCHOPPER is available, we'll give you a call to confirm the details." The UberBLACK will eventually deliver you to a helipad.

And then? You're in a helicopter, headed for Malibu, to drink wine, eat cheese, pet animals, and go on a safari tour of the property.

Are you hearing a soft-rock '70s soundtrack over that visualization? The soaring-over-the-city part? A few bow-chickas thrown in, to lend your jaunt a touch of extravagance? Yeah, you're so visualizing this.

The cost: $1,500 (or $500 if you "split the fare," as Uber breaks it down).

The demand was high, Uber said.

No doubt about it: We'll be summoning spaceships soon. Mere months? Maybe.

Photo Credit: Uber]]>
<![CDATA[Fatal Crash Shuts Down Lanes of 5 Freeway in Castaic]]> Sun, 31 Aug 2014 20:47:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*128/LAgenerics+CHP+California+Highway+Patrol.jpg

A woman was killed and nine other people were injured a crash involving an overturned truck on the 5 Freeway in Castaic on Sunday.

The crash on the northbound 5 Freeway near Lake Hughes Road was reported around 2 p.m., according to the California Highway Patrol.

All northbound lanes were reopened after the crash shut down two lanes for hours.

Details of the crash were not being released.

The woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

An overturned truck blocked lanes after the collision involving three other vehicles.

A SigAlert was issued and the two right lanes of the freeway were expected to be closed for at least three hours for the crash investigation.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California

<![CDATA[No Stranded Boaters in Sinking Vessel Call]]> Sun, 31 Aug 2014 14:14:29 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lagenerics-1-a-breaking-news-la-generic-graphic-april2014.gif

A search for two stranded boaters off the coast of San Pedro was called off after initial reports were "found to be incorrect" and no patients were located Sunday afternoon.

Searchers were called out to the area of Point Fermin Lighthouse around 1:30 p.m., according to an alert from the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Officials tweeted after 2 p.m. that no one was found in distress and that rescue workers would be pulled off the search.

<![CDATA[Man Stabbed Outside 7-Eleven]]> Sun, 31 Aug 2014 12:10:18 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/siren3.jpg

A 45-year-old man was in stable condition after being stabbed during a robbery in the parking lot a San Bernardino County 7-Eleven early Sunday, officials said.

Officers responded around 5:30 a.m. to a report of a man stabbed in the 9400 block of Baseline Road, according to the Rancho Cucamonga Police Department.

The victim was found suffering from major stab wounds in the parking lot of a 7-Eleven convenience store. He was able to tell officers that he was stabbed during a robbery, police said.

The victim was taken to a hospital where he was listed in stable condition in the intensive care unit.

Detectives and bloodhounds searched the area but no arrests were made. Police believe two people were involved in the stabbing.

The first person was described as a man in his 20s, about 5 feet 6 inches tall, wearing a black hat, black jacket, blue jeans and black shoes. The second person was described as a man in his 20s, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, wearing a black hat, white tank top, black pants, green backpack and riding a “road-type” bicycle with a front tire with a white wall, officials said.

Police asked anyone with informationto call the Rancho Cucamonga Police Department at 909-477-2800, or call anonymously at 1-800-78-CRIME.

<![CDATA[OC Preschool Shuttered After Safety, Health Violations]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 07:50:00 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/Orange+County+Crescent+Avenue+preschool+shuttered.jpg

A Christian preschool was unexpectedly shuttered this weekend after racking up a slew of safety and health violations in Orange County.

Crescent Avenue Preschool in Buena Park has received nearly 40 citations from the Department of Social Services since 2011, including 18 that were deemed immediate health, safety, or personal rights violations.

Some parents of the 90 enrolled children were mailed a notification letter late last week, just a few days before Tuesday’s official start date. But some said they didn’t receive any notification. Now they are scrambling to find a new preschool while 11 teachers are forced to start searching for a new job.

“We just want our staff and we just want to make sure that parents are being told the truth and stand up for what’s right,” said Olimpia Castillo, a former teacher who worked at the school for 9 years.

A list of charges posted on the school’s front door offered more specifics on why it was closed.

“Between 2012 and 2014, there were numerous instances where teacher’s aides are supervising children without qualified teachers present. There have been several instances of children using the restroom without visual supervision and being left napping with no teachers present in the room," the statement read.

State officials also claimed that the school was not complying with background checks for its employees during the last three years.

"Between 2011 and 2014, numerous staff members have been allowed to work in the facility prior to their criminal record clearance being transferred or obtaining a criminal record clearance," according to the charges.

During three inspections since 2011, sign in/out sheets have been incomplete and don't correspond with the actual number of students at the school, according to the department.

As recently as last month, trash cans in classrooms "did not have secure lids and discarded food was left inaccessible to children in care," the complaint stated.

The school has been licensed since 1990 under the Crescent Avenue Church of the Nazarene.

A pastor for the church declined interview requests by NBC4.

At one point, angry parents who were protesting outside the school blocked the pastor from leaving the church parking lot in his pickup truck.

Others showed up in support.

“I saw the things that the state accused them of. They were not true,” said grandmother Elaine Lester.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California

Photo Credit: Reggie Kumar/NBC4]]>
<![CDATA[LAPD Sergeants in Omar Abrego Case ID'd]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 23:51:26 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/lagenerics+lapd.jpg

The Los Angeles Police Department has released the identity of two sergeants who got into a violent struggle with a man who died hours later.

Robert Calderon and Jeff Mares, who are assigned to the Newtown Division Gang Enforcement Detail, were involved in the altercation with 37-year-old Omar Abrego on Aug. 2, the LAPD said in a news release.

According to the LAPD, Abrego nearly struck a pedestrian as he drove erratically and sped in a white vehicle in South LA that evening. Abrego pulled over in the 6900 block of South Main Street and allegedly attempted to flee before being apprehended by the sergeants.

Abrego suffered a laceration during a physical altercation with the sergeants, the LAPD said. He was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead early the next morning.

One sergeant suffered a knee injury while the other fractured his hand, the LAPD said. Both were treated at a hospital and released.

Parallel probes into the incident were launched by the LAPD and the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, police said.

Abrego's encounter with the LAPD occurred about four blocks away from where gang enforcement officers fatally shot 25-year-old Ezell Ford after stopping him for questioning. Those officers were also identified.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Made in America Concertgoers Arrested]]> Sun, 31 Aug 2014 01:12:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/140830-made-in-america-concert-downtown-los-angeles.jpg

More than two dozen arrests were made on the first night of the two-day Made in America music festival attended by 34,000 at Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles, police said.

At least 29 people landed in handcuffs Saturday - including a private security guard for the alleged battery of a concertgoer - the Los Angeles Police Department said. Officials said most arrests were drug and alcohol related.

The LAPD and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department each had several hundred officers and deputies assigned to the festival and there were hundreds of private security personnel on hand as well, said LAPD Lt. Andrew Neiman said.

No major incidents were reported, although six people were taken to the hospital for heat-related ailments, authorities said.

The event was mostly peaceful.

"Here we're all united as one," said one concertgoer. "Music brings us together. We're here to have a good time, nothing else matters."

The concert features three stages and a lineup that includes Kanye West, Afrojack, Imagine Dragons, Kendrick Lamar, John Mayer and Iggy Azaela.

City News Service contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Kate Larsen (@KateNBCLA via Twitter)]]>
<![CDATA[San Joaquin Valley Hit Hard by Drought]]> Sun, 31 Aug 2014 19:41:38 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/467472193.jpg

In the rich farmland of the San Joaquin Valley it's summertime -- peak growing season for many crops. But every sunbaked, scorching day brings another test of water reserves in a region running on empty.

The dearth of irrigation water from rivers or reservoirs has forced growers in the valley 80 miles north of Los Angeles to rely almost entirely on water pumped from wells.
"I'm worried from a couple of standpoints," said grower Stuart Woolf, as he stood in a field of tomatoes at harvest time.  "One, I'm worried that we just flat run out of groundwater."
Some growers have already taken draconian steps to deal with the reality that they don't have enough water for all their crops. Near Fresno, Shawn Stevenson bulldozed a third of his orange grove.
"When these trees are gone they're not going to use any more water so I can put that water on another crop," Stevenson said.
In this third year of record drought, other growers have idled acreage for annual row crops.
"If this was a regular year, this would have been re-planted either to corn or to sorghum," said Tipton farmer Tom Barcellos,  as he showed a reporter a field he's fallowed  "either one of them would have been about 10 feet tall right at this point so we'd been walking here and you'd never see us."
Not far away, Vince and Pam Sola watched their almonds being harvested next door to a field they've left unplanted.  Permanent tree crops are different.  If you can't water them, you not only lose that year's income; you lose your investment.
"It's sad to see this land just lay there vacant," said Pam Sola, shrugging her shoulders as her husband finished her thought.
"Without surface water, we decided we had  to leave some land idle and divert the water to less acres," said Vince Sola.
It is a summer of crisis for the Solas, Barcellos, and Woolf, but the crisis is hardly unique to them, with the drought stressing agriculture in virtually the entire San Joaquin Valley.  
Its farming region stretches from the Tehachapi Mountains to Stockton, bounded by the Coast Range to the west and the Sierra Nevada to the east. Blessed with rich soil, an abundance of sun, but minimal rainfall even apart from drought years, the valley has relied for half a century on water imported from Northern California to become the nation's most productive growing region, known for its citrus and grapes. and increasingly for specialty tree crops such as almonds and pistachios, walnuts and cherries.
"This is an impact across the country," warned Barcellos.  "You look at the number of nuts and grapes -- everything that's on somebody's table sometime of the day comes from this valley."
Barcellos is primarily a dairyman in a corner of Tulare County that produces 12 percent of the nation's milk.  He worries about cows that need water every three hours, and rely on misters to avoid overheating in triple-digit temperatures.
"There is no surface water to buy here for this district," Barcellos laments, as he shows a reporter a bone-dry and dusty irrigation ditch that had been serving his farm for decades.  He wistfully recalls playing in the ditch water as a teenager, even water skiing as a buddy pulled him along with a tractor.  No more.
Since shortly after World War II, and with rare exceptions, the region farmed by Barcellos and the Solas has been able to rely on irrigation water from the federal Central Valley Project. The Bureau of Reclamation dammed the San Joaquin River, and diverted almost its entire flow into two irrigation canals for the eastside growers. A third canal, from the San Francisco Bay Delta to Mendota, was built for growers with rights to the San Joaquin River to replace the water no longer flowing downstream. Surplus water from the Delta Mendota Canal became available for growers including the Woolf Farm on the west side of the valley, and the region flourished, despite nagging concerns that in dry years, relying on junior rights, it would be the first to be cut off.
Statewide, agriculture takes an estimated three-quarters of the water California consumes. Farming is by far the state's largest single water user, dwarfing the amount city-dwellers use to boil their potatoes, brush their teeth, wash their clothes and water their yards.
Over the decades, periodic droughts have reduced or even interrupted deliveries, but nothing like this past year of drought, when only the holders of original, so-called "riparian" rights to the San Joaquin River received surface water; for other growers, the federal allocation was reduced to zero, leaving them almost entirely dependent on groundwater.
Not every farm has sufficient well capacity to serve all of its needs.  In some cases, wells have gone dry as the water table is drawn down. Even farms with adequate well water see profits decimated by the cost of purchasing the electrical power needed to pump deep-lying groundwater hundreds of feet to the surface.
This past week, the California state legislature took initial steps toward tracking and eventually regulating groundwater withdrawals, a level of regulation to which some farmers are resistant, but others are resigned.
"We have to be saved from ourselves," said Vince Sola.  "Otherwise we're just going to pump, pump, pump, and it will be all gone."
Using satellite technology, a new study by UC San Diego found 63 trillion gallons have been lost from the groundwater reserves of the western U.S. That's enough to cover all the land west of the Rockies in four inches of water, the authors noted.  As reserves drop, wells go dry, and drillers cannot keep up with the demand for drilling deeper.
"We're 12-13 months behind," said Steve Arthur of Arthur & Orum Well Drilling, as he watched his crew go down 600 feet for a new well to supply an almond grove outside Caruthers.  In another area to the north of Fresno, another grower had Arthur dig down 2,000 feet.  The water table is not yet that low, Arthur explained, but the grower wants reserve room as the groundwater is drawn down further.
Wells that deep cost as much as $750,000, Arthur said, not including the pump and other expenses before the well becomes operational.
It's deja vu.
Before the Central Valley Project and California's State Water Project, San Joaquin Valley growers relied almost exclusively on groundwater.  So much was pumped out, that the floor of the valley began dropping, or "subsiding," as  the weight of the ground above crushed the waterless Earth below.  By 1977, the ground near Mendota had subsided some 30 feet, according to a study by the U.S. Geological Survey.  
That subsidence has again reared its head is not disputed by growers.
"In some regions you can actually see the ground around the well site -- it looks like the well is growing -- it's coming out of the ground," said Woolf, explaining that in reality, the ground is dropping around the wellhead, exposing more of it.
To stetch their water, growers have been switching to more efficient irrigation techniques, including expensive drip systems.

It has also lead to unintended consequences.  Drip means that the mineral contaminants in groundwater are concentrated at the seed row.  Avoiding overwater also limits the water that in the past would have percolated through the soil to replenish the underground water table.

Where the drought is reducing crop yields may lead to higher prices -- but not necessarily for crops in competition with other regions, and the California drought impact at the grocery checkout stand so far has been minimal.
"If all you know is you go to the store and the food is there and it doesn't cost any more, then you don't seen the impact," Pam Sola said.
Growers hope it does not get to that point before they get assistance.  They are calling for the government water projects to build additional storage, so that more of the snowmelt and river runoff during wet years can be saved for drought years.
Some $2.7 billion would be dedicated to new storage if California voters approve the water bond that the legislature has placed on the November ballot.  Many growers think it should be more.
In addition, growers bristle at environmental conservation rulings and decisions that have placed limits on the amount of river water that can be withdrawn and delivered by the water projects for irrigation.
Some characterize the dispute as Farmer vs. Fish.
Of particular concern are the salmon that swim through the vast Delta where the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers reach the San Francisco Bay.  Salmon still spawn upstream in the Sacramento Rivers.  Federal rulings have effectively placed limits on water releases from upstream dams in order to insure that river temperatures remain cool enough for salmon to spawn.
Under a separate agreement to restore the salmon runs in the San Joaquin River, 17 percent of the average flow long diverted to irrigation canals will be again sent downstream for the fish.
The agreement does recognize the impact of periodic droughts.  This year, no water is being released into the San Joaquin River for restoration, according to  Monty Schmitt of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
That is not the only impact of the drought on environmental restoration.  It has also limited the amount of water for the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge in an area that once was periodically flooded by the San Joaquin River and was a natural wetland.  That ended when 19th century ranchers established grazing fields  and built levees to protect them.  
The value of maintaining wetlands and native grasslands became a goal of the US Dept. of the Interior after it became apparent that one of the worst natural disasters of the 20th century, the Oklahoma Dust Bowl, was enabled by the removal of native grasslands for farm crops  that could not be sustained during a drought.
Since the 1960's, some of the water delivered by the Delta Mendota Canal has gone to flooding
the Refuge every September.  This drought year,  the allocation has been reduced to 65 percent of normal, according to Karl Stromayer, Refuge Asst. Manager, and that will affect the habitat in this portion of what is known as the Pacific Flyway.
"When migratory birds get here, we have less food for them," Stromayer said.  
Ironically, during this drought summer there is now more water in the San Joaquin than there has been for decades, because it is being released to satisfy the riparian rights of downstream properties that for decades until this year had been served by the Delta Mendota Canal.
That water is being released from Friant Dam, rather than being diverted into the Friant-Kern canal, is the reason Barcellos and his fellow Tulare County growers are not receving any Central Valley project water this year.
Growers acknowledge the need to protect habitat, but challenged the benefits of how it has played out.  A longtime sore point for growers is a ruling that effectively limits how much freshwater can be
withdrawn from the Delta in order to protect a finger-size fish known as the Delta Smelt, an endangered, and therefore protected, species. 
Woolf observed the hand-wringing in Los Angeles in July when a water main failure sent 20 million gallons of water through the UCLA campus en route to storm sewers.
"Here this season over one 60 day period we sent 260 million gallons under the Golden Gate Bridge for a benefit nobody knows what it was," complained Woolf.
Environmental activists contend there are tangible benefits.
"It's very shortsighted to wipe out fisheries to get a little water now that does not benefit us in the longrun," said Kate Poole, senior attorney with the NRDC.
Regardless, the battle will continue to be fought in court.
The environmental issues have had less impact on farming regions in the Delta, and to the north in the Sacramento Valley, where growers rely on water districts with riparian rights to the Sacramento River, which delivers are more than the San Joaquin.  Growers in California's next largest agricultural region, the Imperial Valley near the Mexican border, import their water from the Colorado River, which has been less affected by the California drought. 
All with stakes in California's water supply worry about the effect of climate change adding to unpredictability.  But as it is, California's surface water resource has been frustratingly unpredictable since epic flooding overwhelmed the San Joaquin Valley's first generation of farmers back in the 19th Century after the Gold Rush.
It's been four decades since a drought as severe as the current one, but since 1977, not a decade has passed without a drought, and the one just 5 years ago triggered conservation responses still in place in many areas, including Los Angeles.
By the same token, every 4 years on average there is a rainy season wet enough to produce flooding.  The last one occurred in the winter of 2011, when reservoirs ran out of capacity and instead of banking water for summer during winter and spring, had to release it. 
"We never get an average amount of water," Schmitt said. "It's always too much or too little.  The key is:  how do we manage it so we will have vibrant agriculture industry, while also having a healthy river and community resource."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Man Killed in Whittier Shooting]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 14:40:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/siren3.jpg

A 34-year-old man was shot and killed in front of a home in Whittier Saturday afternoon.

Officers responded around noon to a report of a shooting in the 8000 block of Washington Avenue, according to Lt. Bryan Ellis of the Whittier Police Department.

The 34-year-old victim was found in front of a home and was taken to a hospital where he died around 1 p.m., Ellis said.

Police said it was unclear if the shooting was gang related. Detectives were at the scene collecting evidence around 2:30 p.m.

<![CDATA[Funeral Service Held for Ezell Ford]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 21:57:18 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/ezell+ford+funeral_.jpg

A funeral service was held Saturday for an unarmed man who was fatally shot by police in South Los Angeles as local activists called on witnesses to come forward in the case.

The First A.M.E. Church  hosted the service for 25-year-old Ezell Ford at 11 a.m. at 2270 S. Harvard Blvd.

"You’re so wonderful to think of and so hard to live without," said Ford's grandmother, Dorothy Clark.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who attended Michael Brown’s funeral service in St. Louis, was also at the ceremony held for Ford.

 "Ezell Ford didn’t deserve to die simply because he was mentally challenged," Waters said.


Ford was fatally shot August 11 after he allegedly struggled with two Los Angeles police officers assigned to the Newton Area Gang Enforcement Detail. Police said Ford reached for an officer’s gun when they opened fire.

Family members of Ford refute LAPD accounts, and local civil rights activists were expected to publicly call on witnesses to come forward during a press conference Saturday afternoon.

"LAPD officials insist they want a fair and impartial investigation in the Ford killing and this can only happen if eyewitnesses come forth," Hutchinson said in a statement. "Some witnesses dispute the LAPD version of how Ford was killed. So we will make that public appeal for them and other eyewitnesses to give testimony."

Ford’s family members said they are hoping for justice after their attorney files a wrongful death civil rights lawsuit against the LAPD late next month.

“This horrifying act these officers committed, murder by badge is murder nonetheless,” said Ford family attorney Steve Lerman.

The names of the officers involved in the shooting were released Thursday: Officers Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Vargas.

"The identification of the officers involved in the Ezell Ford slaying allows us to determine if the officers performance record and that includes discipline for any prior instances of or pattern of misconduct or involvement in other officer shootings," Hutchinson said in a statement Thursday, adding that Wampler was involved in a prior use of force civil lawsuit. "The report that one of the officers was the subject of a civil suit for force is of major significance. This could be major factor in the investigation to find whether excessive force was used in the Ford killing."

Wampler was named in a civil rights lawsuit filed three years ago that claimed he, along with other officers, entered a family's home without probable cause, the lawsuit stated.

Another civil rights group was expected to protest officer-involved killings during a demonstration in front of LAPD headquarters at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Photo Credit: Reggie Kumar]]>
<![CDATA[Federal Agent Accused of Kidnapping, Brandishing Gun]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 18:15:52 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/tlmd_police_generic_police_tape_police_lights_fishtown_722x406_2202385257.jpg

A drunken federal agent was arrested in Burbank after allegedly pulling out a handgun and telling someone to follow him early Wednesday.

Officers responded to a report of a person brandishing a gun around 12:30 a.m. in the 300 block of East Santa Anita Avenue, according to a news release from the Burbank Police Department.

The victim told police that they were ordered by a “very” intoxicated man armed with a gun to follow him. After following the man for a short period, the victim ran away and was able to escape, officials said.

Police searched the area and found Andrew Leconte around 1 a.m. near San Fernando Boulevard and Angeleno Avenue, less than one mile away.

Investigators later learned that Leconte is an agent with the United States Marshals Service.

Leconte was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and brandishing a firearm, police said. Burbank police were investigating the incident.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California

Photo Credit: NBC Chicago]]>
<![CDATA[Elderly Woman Drowns in Apartment Swimming Pool]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 06:42:03 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/palm+west+village+apartments.PNG

An elderly woman drowned in an apartment complex swimming pool in Anaheim Friday night, police said.

The woman was found submerged in a pool on the 600 block of Knott Avenue. She was taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.

The victim is believed to be in her 60s.

The cause of the drowning is under investigation. No foul play is suspected.

<![CDATA[Man in Stolen Vehicle Leads CHP on 35-Mile Pursuit]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 06:31:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/high+speed+pursuit.PNG

A man was placed under felony arrest after leading the California Highway Patrol on a 35-mile chase early Saturday morning.

The unidentified man in a tan pickup truck was seen weaving in and out of lanes on the southbound 5 Freeway near Magic Mountain Parkway around 2:30 a.m. A pursuit ensued. Around 3 a.m. the car collided with a vehicle on the southbound 170 Freeway near Oxnard Avenue. The pursuit then continued at speeds of over 100 miles per hour. Approximately 10 minutes later, the car collided with another vehicle on the southbound 101 Freeway near Hollywood Boulevard.

The pursuit continued until the car crashed into a guardrail on the southbound 110 Freeway near the 10 Freeway just before 3:15 a.m.

It is unclear if the man was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Police confirm that the vehicle the man was driving was stolen.

<![CDATA[Man Allegedly Carjacked, Run Over and Stabbed]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 10:31:45 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/carjacking+stabbing.JPG

A man who was allegedly run over by a car and stabbed several times after he was carjacked in Lancaster early Saturday morning was in critical condition.

Officials said the man was allegedly carjacked at a Chevron gas station near 4th Street East and Avenue L, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He was then allegedly driven to Firstview Street and Avenue K 8.

The victim then got out of the car and was allegedly ran over and stabbed several times in the chest. After interviewing the victim, officials believe one man is responsible.

The man was conscious when deputies arrived. He was taken to the hospital and he is expected to survive.

<![CDATA[Watch Live: NBC4 News at 5 and 6 P.M.]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 18:30:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/chuck-henry-carolyn-johnson-newscast-knbc.jpg

Android phone and tablet users can watch the livestream here.

We've launched our online livestreaming player so that you can follow along with our reporters and anchors during NBC4's on-air broadcasts.

The player above is a multiplatform tool. You can watch on your laptop at home, your computer at work and even your mobile phone.

Note: Live video will be available Monday through Friday during the 5 and 6 p.m. news.

Connect with NBC4 on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+. We're also in the iTunes App Store and Google Play store for Android devices.

Our anchors and reporters can be found on social media here.

And as always, we want to hear from you. If you have a story idea or feedback, email us at tips@nbcla.com.

<![CDATA[Rapper Arrested Hours Before "Made in America" Concert]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 10:41:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/rapper+nipsey+hussle+arrested.PNG

A rapper scheduled to perform at this weekend’s "Made in America" music festival in downtown Los Angeles posted bail after he was arrested Friday night during a police raid of a clothing store in Hyde Park.

Emmias Ashghedom, known by his stage name Nipsey Hussle, was arrested at Slauson Avenue Clothing on the 3400 block of West Slauson Avenue around 11:30 p.m.

According to the LAPD, officers had arrived at the location because of a probation complaint search. The man suspected of violating probation was taken into custody, as was Nipsey Hussle.

Nipsey Hussle was booked on charges of obstructing a peace officer, LAPD Lt. Julius Guay said.

Police said the rapper posted $13,000 bail. A court date was not given.

Nipsey Hussle was still expected to perform during the second day of the "Made in America" festival in Grand Park Sunday.

"I will be at my show in Reno today and also #MadeInAmericaFestival on Sunday," he tweeted Saturday morning.

<![CDATA[Family Blames Detained Immigrant's Death on Lack of Care]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 08:36:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/detainee+death+healy+98.JPG

Inadequate medical care led to the untimely death in federal custody of an undocumented immigrant facing deportation, according to a lawsuit filed on behalf of his two young children.

Roberto Aguilar Bautista was able to keep his Type 2 diabetes in check until he was arrested by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in February 2013, according to relatives and attorney James Segall-Gutierrez.

While held in downtown Los Angeles in the Metropolitan Detention Center, Bautista did not receive the proper medication or treatment, and his health quickly deteriorated, Segall-Gutierrez said.

Bautista suffered kidney damage, then a heart attack, and went blind. He was later transferred to other detention facilities, and was being held in Texas at the time of his March death at the age of 38, according to the allegations in the suit filed Friday in federal District Court.

A month before his death, Bautista wrote a letter from prison pleading for help, said Segall-Gutierrez, who provided NBC4 a copy translated from Spanish.

"I find myself in this new institution in Texas and they are not giving me proper medical attention for my health problems," Bautista's letter reads in part.

The defendants named in the suit include ICE, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and President Barack Obama. None have been served yet.

Obama "was responsible for assuring that the actions, conduct, policies, procedures, and customs of the...(other) defendants...complied with the Constitution of the United States," is the suit's explanation for his inclusion in the case.

Bautista was held by ICE for the initial two weeks before the US Marshals Service took custody and transferred him to the Metropolitan Detention Center, according to ICE spokesperson Virginia Kice.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons declined to comment on the specifics of Bautista's case, but a spokesman said bureau policy calls for proper medical care of custodies with health problems.

Bautista came to the U.S. from Jalisco, Mexico, and settled in Huntington Park, according to Maria Reynoso, his sister. She said he worked for a towing company and later as a car salesman.

Records reveal that Bautista was deported in 2005 after serving two years of a sentence for assault with a deadly weapon. A year later, while attempting to cross back into the US, he was detained at the border and returned to Mexico. Later he succeeded in reaching Huntington Park.

During the past eight years, Bautista met Nancy Luna, and they started a family. Their daughters, both born in the US and therefore US citizens, are now ages 6 and 4.

Bautista had no arrests during that time. What put him back on ICE's radar, spokesperson Kice said she did not know.

Family said Bautista had contacted immigration officials about attempting to legalize his residency status, and suspects suspects that may be what led to his arrest at his home.

However, legal residency would not be possible for a deported convict, Kice said. Two weeks after his arrest, the US Attorney filed a criminal charge.

Even those who have entered the United States illegally are entitled to the civil rights guaranteed under the US Constitution, Segal-Gutierrez said. The lawsuit also alleges that in failing to care of Bautista's health, US officials and agencies violated the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which in 1848 formalized relations between the USA and Mexico.

<![CDATA[$500K Arrest Warrant Out for "Girls Gone Wild" Founder]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 03:28:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/186*120/AP167577978467.jpg

"Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis had a $500,000 warrant for his arrest Friday after he skipped a scheduled appearance in court the same day, according to the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office.

Francis was scheduled to be arraigned Friday on charges from an incident in May, during which he allegedly disobeyed a court order to stay away from "Girls Gone Wild" headquarters as part of last year's bankruptcy filing, City Attorney Spokesman Frank Mateljan said.

During that incident, Francis allegedly got into a physical altercation with a trustee on the business and a security guard, Mateljan said.

Francis spent one night in jail and is accused of making criminal threats, trespassing and disobeying a court order, Mateljan said.

<![CDATA[Police Look For Assailants Who Left OC Man in Coma]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 20:42:28 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/175*120/08-29-14_Fullerton_Assaults.JPG

Fullerton police are looking for two suspects who allegedly assaulted three men last weekend along a popular street in downtown, leaving one victim in a coma.

According to police, three men were in the 100 block of North Harbor Boulevard outside of the Tuscany Bar downtown in the early morning hours of Aug. 23 when two other men accosted them.

All were leaving downtown’s busy bar scene when the chaos erupted.

“The primary suspect believed the victim made some sort of comment or advance toward his girlfriend. Shortly after those comments were made, a fight ensued between the victim group and the two suspects,” said Det. Jose Arana of the Fullerton Police Department.

When the fight broke out, and 26-year-old Irvin Ynfante was punched in the face and fell to the ground, hitting his head. He remains hospitalized and in a coma at a local hospital. One of Ynfante’s friends dislocated his shoulder and another sustained cuts and bruises.

The two men police believe started the fight fled the scene of the assault, and while surveillance video captured the chaotic scene, it did not record the actual assault. Arana said he believes multiple witnesses captured the incident and the suspects on cell phone video.

“Everybody tends to take photos and videos with their cell phones, so we are hoping somebody did take photos or videos of this incident.

Arana also said alcohol likely played a role in the altercation.

“At the time this incident took place, is where hundreds of people are exiting our downtown bar area, and hundreds of people are under the influence of alcohol - some are severely under the influence of alcohol. That’s extremely problematic,” he said.

The first suspect was described as a man about 6 feet tall, weighing about 210 pounds with a muscular build. He is in his mid-20s with brown, spiked hair. He was clean shaven, with light brown eyes and was wearing a white, long-sleeve, collared button-down shirt. Witnesses said he had a deep voice.

The second suspect was described as a man about 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighing about 180 pounds.He is also in his mid-20s, clean shaven with short black hair. Witnesses said he had a distinctive haircut with lines razored into the sides of his scalp. He was wearing a red T-shirt with lettering on it at the time of the incident.

The woman who was with them was described only as having blond hair and wearing a white tank top.

Friends and family of Ynfante have planned a vigil for Friday night, and have been by his side at the hospital.

“He’s a very good person, good son, good nephew, good brother,” said his aunt, Carmen Jara. “I’m very, very sad because it’s like my son. Running the same blood, it’s like my son.”

Anyone with information or video of the incident is asked to contact Det. Coffman at 714-738-5361.

<![CDATA[Man Poses as Undercover Officer, Rapes Woman: Police]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 18:17:45 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/guy+dietz+33+blue+bg.jpg

A manhunt came to an end Friday when police took a convicted sex offender into custody after he allegedly posed as an undercover police officer and forcibly raped a woman one day earlier, Torrance police said.

The victim called police about 3:45 p.m. Thursday after she met a man who idenfitied himself as Guy Dietz at a residence in Torrance, the Torrance Police Department said in a statement.

The woman told police Dietz said he was an undercover police officer and then forcibly raped her, the release stated.

After he ran away, police found Dietz's car near King City in Monterey County, where he allegedly led deputies on a pursuit into the city of Soledad and then jumped out of his car and fled, police said.

Torrance police and Monterey County sheriff's officials said he was taken into custody sometime Friday evening.

Police said Dietz is a convicted sex offender.

Anyone with additional information should call 310-618-5570 or their local police agency.

Photo Credit: Torrance Police Department ]]>
<![CDATA[Firefighters Discover Burning Body in Thousand Oaks]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 22:12:20 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/thousand+oaks+body+burned+39.JPG

Firefighters in Thousand Oaks discovered a body on fire outside of a house Friday afternoon, a spokesman said.

Capt. Mike Lindbery said firefighters responded to a call of a small fire outside of a house in the 3100 Foothill Road at 1:25 p.m.

When they arrived, they discovered that it was a body on fire. The gender and any other details are not yet known.

It is considered to be a suspicious death. Investigators are working to find out if anyone was at the residence where the body was found earlier in the day.

Ventura County Sheriff’s Department is investigating.

<![CDATA[Battering Ram Used in Search of Elderly Couple's Home: Lawyers]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 20:43:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/siren3.jpg

An elderly South Los Angeles couple is demanding that the Los Angeles Police Department fix up their home after they say it was damaged by a battering ram during a raid last Friday.

The incident started when detectives at LAPD's West LA Division traced blood left at a March burglary as belonging to 18-year-old Deshawn Johnson and raided his family home last Friday.

The home belongs to Warren Johnson, Deshawn's grandfather, and his wife. Deshawn's twin brother also lives in the home.

Johnson and his wife were not home at the time, but surveillance video inside the home captured much of what happened.

Police broke down the front door with guns drawn. Both Deshawn and his twin brother were taken outside of the house. It was what happened after that the Johnsons said went too far.

"They didn't look for nothing in here. They just tore it up because they had a search warrant," Warren Johnson said.

LAPD used a metal ram to break through three more doors at the house. During the search their home received structural damage and video cameras inside were “tampered with,” according to the Johnson's attorney Nana Gyamfi.

Responding officers were apparently trying to find a cell phone, computer and speaker box they believed Deshawn had in his possession. He was taken into custody and later released, Gyamfi said.

Police said they found a cell phone stolen during the burglary they were investigating.

Gyamfi alleged that officers moved and covered up the home’s surveillance camera during the search. In the video, officers could be seen "just hanging out," Gyamfi said.

Gyamfi said the Johnsons believe they were racially profiled and plan to file a claim with the city. They are demanding the house be repaired and that LAPD review its policy for executing search warrants.

An LAPD official, however, said the officers were doing their job. She said they were searching the home of a documented gang member and needed to check the house for their safety. 

"We needed to see if there were other suspects or other gang members inside. We also had a search warrant to search for evidence of the burglary," said Capt. Evangelyn Nathan of LAPD's West LA Division.

Nathan added that other family members told officers Deshawn had been stealing from his grandparents, and that officers asked the other family members present at the time of the raid if they were in possession of keys so that officers would not have to break down doors.

She said officers do not want to damage property.

Deshawn Johnson has been charged with burglary and is free on bail.

<![CDATA[LAPD Investigating USC Football Player]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 23:46:50 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/USC+Josh+Shaw.jpg

USC football player Josh Shaw is being investigated by LAPD for a possible domestic violence incident involving his girlfriend last weekend, a department spokesman confirmed Friday.

LAPD officers responded to a call to the Orsini apartment complex in downtown Los Angeles Saturday night, where both Shaw and his girlfriend live. Neighbors of Shaw’s girlfriend, who has not been identified, reported a woman’s screams coming from her apartment.

When officers arrived, there was no one home.

Officers gained access to the apartment and determined a window had been pried open. Shaw’s girlfriend returned to the house while officers were there. When asked if she knew anyone fitting the description of a man witnesses had seen jumping from her patio balcony, she named Shaw. A burglary report was taken that night, according to Commander Andrew Smith.

Shaw, a team co-captain, has been suspended indefinitely from the team after admitting he lied about how he injured his ankles the same night the burglary report was taken.

The school posted a blog article on its website Monday recounting how Shaw had jumped from a second story building in Palmdale to rescue a drowning nephew from a pool, sustaining two high-ankle sprains that would place him on the disabled list.

Questions and conflicting accounts almost immediately emerged and Shaw admitted Wednesday he had made up the story.

Shaw's girlfriend did not describe herself as a victim of domestic violence, but allegations emerged during the burglary investigation, Smith said. Shaw was interviewed regarding the burglary, but has not made himself available for a follow up interview regarding the domestic violence allegation.

"Officers interviewed him with respect to the burglary," Smith said. "However, we'd like to reinterview him to discuss a few more factors in this case. We haven't been able to do that."

Smith said officers want to speak with Shaw before concluding the investigation.

"The officers would like to conclude that investigation and they'd like to follow up on that and get as much information about that as they can before they submit it to the city attorney."

Shaw’s lawyer, Donald Etra, said the investigation was frivolous.

"There’s no there, there. Nothing criminal happened. He has already spoken with LAPD twice. That’s quite enough," he said. "His ankles are doing well. He's looking forward to a speedy recovery and he hopes to play ball soon."

USC's sports department declined to comment on the investigation.

Photo Credit: USC Athletics]]>
<![CDATA[Turf Replacement Rebates Available Across California]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 18:09:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/0714-2014-DroughtPond.jpg

Here are just some of the turf rebates available around California as water agencies try to encourage customers to replace grass with more drought-resistant plantings.
Atascadero Mutual Water Company
Turf conversion rebates of 25 cents per square foot available, up to $500 for single-family residences and up to $1,000 for multifamily residences and commercial properties. Convert existing areas of turf grass to drought‐tolerant plants, synthetic turf or permeable paving.  

Camrosa Water District

Turf removal rebates available for $2 or more per square foot removed.

City of American Canyon
Rebates of $2 per square foot of area that is replanted.

Crescenta Valley Water District

Rebates of up to $800 available for removing lawns and replacing turf grass with California native or drought-tolerant plants, mulch, synthetic turf or pervious hardscape. 

Desert Water Agency

Rebates available of $2 per square foot up to $3,000 for residential projects and $10,000 per project for commercial and public property.

Dublin San Ramon Services District

Rebates for single-family residences have been increased to a maximum $750 and for a non-residential or multi-family properties to a maximum $4,500.       

East Valley Water District

Rebates are available of up to $200, for water efficient landscaping that uses native plants, efficient irrigation systems and other landscaping elements that thrive using less water than traditional grass lawns.

El Toro Water District

Residential and small commercial customers are eligible for incentives of $2 or more per square foot of turf removed for qualifying projects.

Foothill Municipal Water District
Rebates available of up to $800 for removing lawns and replacing turf grass with California native or drought-tolerant plants, mulch, synthetic  turf, or pervious hardscape.

Irvine Ranch Water District

Rebates of $2 per square foot available for turf removal.  Synthetic turf is now eligible for funding.

Jurupa Community Services District
Rebates are available for $2 or more per square foot for turf removal. Synthetic turf is sometimes eligible.

Laguna Beach County Water District
Rebates of $3 per square foot available for turf removed for qualifying products.

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Rebates to replace turf have been doubled from $1 to $2 per square foot.

Monte Vista Water District

Rebates of $3 available per square foot of turf removed.
Moulton Niguel Water District

Rebates of $2 or more per square foot are available for turf removed for qualifying projects.
Newhall County Water District
Rebates of $2 per square foot for the removal of 500 to 2,500 square foot of living grass.

Olivenhain Community Services District

The San Diego County Water Authority’s program offers $1.50 per square foot.
Otay Water District
Rebates of $1.50 per square foot available to replace existing irrigated grass with water-wise plants.

Rancho California Water District                                                                                                               Rebates available of $2 per square foot of area that is replanted.

Santa Margarita Water District

Rebates of up to $2 per square foot available for lawn removal.

Scotts Valley Water District
Replace an irrigated lawn with low-water plants, native grass, mulch or wood chips, pervious hardscape such as gravel or stepping stones, swales, rain gardens, infiltration basins or some artificial turf for a credit of 50 cents per square foot of area of lawn replaced. 

Soquel Creek Water District

Replace existing, irrigated lawn with drought-tolerant plants or synthetic turf. Fifty percent of materials cost up to $1 per square foot.

Valley of the Moon Water District
Rebate up to 50 cents per square foot available, up to $550 for single-family homes.

Vandenberg Village Community Services District

Rebate of up to $2 per square foot available to replace turf up to a maximum of $1,000.

Western Municipal Water District
Rebates of $2 available per square foot of area that is replanted. Specific commercial customers can receive $5 per square foot to encourage landscape conversions at locations that can help lower regional water demand.

Zone 7 Water Agency
The rebate for a single-family residence has been increased to a maximum $750, and the rebate for a non-residential property or multi-family property has been increased to a maximum $4,500.    

Source: Association of California Water Agencies

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[First West Nile Fatality Reported in Los Angeles County]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 21:44:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/bb82f013a5e54a7cbed54729d2487f36.jpg

A man in his 60s died in the first West Nile fatality in Los Angeles County for 2014, health officials said Friday.

The San Fernando Valley man had pre-existing health conditions and was hospitalized at the time of his death, according to a news release from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

“Although most people bitten by a mosquito are not exposed to West Nile virus, some individuals may become infected with this disease and may experience symptoms that can last for months, or even years, such as fatigue, malaise, and depression,” said Jonathan E. Fielding, the county's director of public health.

Twenty people have been infected with West Nile in LA County so far this year, including three asymptomatic blood donors, officials said.

“Residents can greatly reduce their risk of mosquito bites by following some simple precautions, such as getting rid of pools of stagnant water around their homes, and using a repellent containing DEET when outdoors in mosquito prone areas, especially around dawn or dusk,” Fielding said.

Reported cases of West Nile in 2013 was among the highest numbers since 2004. More than 160 cases, including nine fatalities, were reported  during that period.

West Nile has been detected in 139 mosquito pools, 31 dead birds and 26 sentinel chickens located all across Los Angeles County.

A woman in Orange County, who also had underlying medical conditions, died of the virus last week.

<![CDATA[CeeLo Green Pleads No Contest to Drug Charge]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 13:38:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/453575360.jpg

Cee Lo Green has pleaded no contest to one felony count of furnishing ecstasy to a woman during a 2012 dinner in Los Angeles.

The Grammy-winning singer entered the plea during a brief court hearing on Friday. He also entered a special plea in which he maintained his innocence in the case.

Superior Court Judge Mark Young sentenced the 39-year-old singer to three years of formal probation. Young said Green, whose real name is Thomas DeCarlo Callaway, will be allowed to travel for work.

Green entered the plea just before a preliminary hearing, which would have disclosed potential evidence against him, was scheduled to begin.

Prosecutors rejected a rape charge against Green when he was charged with the felony drug charge in October 2013. His attorney Blair Berk has said Green had consensual sex with the woman he gave ecstasy to during the 2012 dinner.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[California Uproots Grassy Lawns]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 14:55:45 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP36505113488.jpg

Daniel and Joanne Azarnoff had the quintessential, grassy green lawn outside their house in the San Francisco Bay area -- until this bone-dry summer.

With the help of the Solano County Water Agency, they ripped up turf and replaced it with a mix of slate, stones, redwood mulch and drought-resistant plants more suitable to Rio Vista's Mediterranean climate.

“We did it because California has a drought, and we thought it would be a good way to reduce the amount of water which we use,” Daniel Azarnoff said.

Their decision is one California officials wish more residents would make. Communities and water agencies across the state have been paying to encourage homeowners and businesses to replace grass with more appropriate and less thirsty plants. Now, with California in its third year of a severe drought, the so-called “cash for grass” programs are bursting in popularity, if still small in size.

In the city of Long Beach, about 1,500 homeowners have taken advantage of the 4-year-old program there, which pays $3.50 per square foot — but that is out of the owners of about 60,000 single-family homes.

“A lot of people love their lawn,” said Joyce Barkley, the city’s water conservation specialist. “It’s a challenge.”

Instead of grass, Barkley tries to interest residents in sages, blue fescue, lion’s tail, lilacs, lavenders, olive trees and other drought-tolerant plantings.

The hope is that other homeowners will imitate the gardens made up of plants that thrive in Long Beach's annual 12 inches of rainfall, rather than lawns that need seven times that amount, Barkley said.

Water-greedy irrigation

In many ways, Californians do well conserving water, with most of the state's water going toward irrigating crops, said Hadley Arnold, executive director of the Arid Lands Institute at Woodbury University in Burbank.

One exception? Lawn irrigation. In Los Angeles, 54 percent of residential water consumption is used outdoors, according to the 2010 Urban Water Management Plan from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. Add in commercial, industrial, governmental and multi-family consumption and that number is 39 percent.

“Where we’re still water-greedy is irrigation,” she said. “You can irrigate with recycled water.”

At least 26 water agencies across the states are offering rebates, according to the Association of California Water Agencies. There has been a surge of interest this summer, said Lisa Lien-Mager, the association’s director of communications.

The number of requests for turf removal the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has received since January are nearly double the total number of requests over the last five years, the district says.

In July, it got requests to remove 2.5 million square feet of turf — the equivalent of 1,665 typical front yards, and up from 99,000 square feet in January.

The rise in requests from businesses was even more significant: 4.7 million square feet, or the equivalent of 82 football fields, up from 22,000 square feet.

In May, the district, a cooperative of cites and water agencies serving nearly 19 million people, doubled its rebates from $1 to $2 per square foot for consumers and businesses.

Nurturing wildlife, conserving resources

Water restrictions put in place as a result of the drought have left lots of dead lawns and have prompted homeowners to think about what to do with a much more limited water supply, said Bart O’Brien, director of the Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Berkeley.

“Everyone has taken water supply pretty much for granted until this unprecedented, longer, drier drought than we’ve had in historic times,” he said.

Gardeners are taking new interest in native California plants, which not only use less water but also can help sustain insects, birds, lizards and other wildlife that have become endangered by the loss of natural areas.

"Through the act of thoughtful gardening, we can make a rather significant difference," said Carol Bornstein, the director of the Nature Gardens at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

The Solano County Water Agency's program is four years old, but 65 percent of its 282 participants signed up in the last fiscal year, according to the agency. Since July, 56 projects have been completed. It pays $1 per square foot for up to 1,000 square feet for environmentally friendly landscaping.

"I think it's opening up a lot of people's eyes especially right now," said Lara Remitz, a landscape architecture student at the University of California, Davis, who has been working with the program. "It helps people understand that there is an issue with water."

But she has noticed that some homeowners still leave a patch of dirt that they plan to return to lawn if the drought eases.

"There's still a large resistance to the idea," she said.

In Rio Vista, the Azarnoffs are happy with their new landscaping. They had liked their lawn, but it was maintained by a sprinkler system, Daniel Azarnoff said. By switching to a drip system that targets only the plants, they are using much less water, he said.

“And it still looks very beautiful,” he said.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Daughter Arrested in Shooting Death of Elderly Mom]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 07:20:33 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/suspect+christine+reynolds.png

A woman has been arrested in the shooting death of her elderly mother in Orange County Thursday.

The shooting occurred just after 4 p.m. on the 11200 block of Wallingsford Road in unincorporated Rossmoor. When deputies arrived, they found a woman dead at the scene.

Christine Reynolds, 71, was detained on scene. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department confirms that the suspect is the daughter of the victim, 96-year-old Gretchen DeStafano.

Authorities said that it appeared the shooting stemmed from a domestic dispute, but no other details were released.

Reynolds was arrested and booked on charges of murder. She is being held on $1 million bail.

<![CDATA[Giant Rubber Duck Forced to Deflate]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 09:10:50 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/deflated+rubber+duck.PNG

The giant rubber duck that had been on display in Southern California since last week was deflated Thursday because of damaging winds.

Thousands have flocked to the Port of Los Angeles to view and photograph the 11-ton rubber duck, an art project by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman that has traveled worldwide and made stops in Japan, Brazil, Hong Kong and New Zealand, among other places.

The “World’s Largest Rubber Duck” made it’s Port of Los Angeles debut on Aug. 20 as part of the Tall Ships Festival. It was supposed to be on display only until Aug. 24, but because of its popularity, plans were made to keep the rubber duck on display until Sept. 6 as part of the Duck Days of Summer.

The rubber duck was transported to Banning’s Landing off the Wilmington coast Thursday, where it was supposed to be on display Thursday and Friday. Because of windy conditions, the duck was deflated and towed back to San Pedro. A 10-foot "baby" duck will still be on display in Wilmington Friday.

According to the Port of Los Angeles website, the duck will not be on display over Labor Day Weekend because it is “on holiday.” The duck is expected to be inflated again Tuesday and put back on display at the Downtown Harbor through Saturday.

Upcoming daily events centered around the giant duck include “Dress Like a Duck Day” and “Duck Dance Day.”

<![CDATA[High School Band Accused of Hazing During Initiation]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 07:21:06 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/DOWNEY+HIGH+SCHOOL.PNG

A Southern California high school band is facing allegations of hazing after a 14-year-old girl told her mother what she experienced during a band initiation.

Stephanie Hughes told NBC4 that her daughter, a student at Downey High School who did not want to be identified, was blindfolded “with what looked like a dirty sanitary napkin” as part of the initiation Monday. Hughes said her daughter’s wrists were taped up and she had to walk up stadium stairs blindfolded.

"That’s not funny and I don’t appreciate it," Hughes said. "I placed my child in the school district’s hands, in Downey High School hands, and I felt like nobody protected her."

A former band member and graduate of Downey High School said that initiations have happened before and parents were aware of the process, but said it was nothing as extreme as what Hughes’ daughter allegedly experienced.

Hughes said cell phone video was taken of the incident. She was shown the video by the principal when she went to the school Tuesday to remove her daughter from the school.

"I should have been notified and said, ‘hey as part of our camp, the kids like to play jokes and do such and such and such, would you allow her to do it,’ and I could have said no," Hughes said.

The school district’s Director of Student Affairs said there is no tolerance for any initiation, and that while an investigation into the incident continues, there have been no reports of bodily harm or injury.

"Normally you don't hear about these cases until somebody dies. She could have had a heart problem or a mental condition, that this just would have really, really been bad," Hughes said.

Prior to a prescheduled meeting, the school administration met with band members and their parents to discuss what allegedly happened Monday.

<![CDATA["It Was My Life": Lightning Strike Survivor Thanks Brave Daughter]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 07:21:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/bob+kilroy+lightning+strike+survivor.JPG

One month and one day after lightning struck Venice Beach and killed a 20-year-old, a Southern California man who survived tearfully thanked his teen daughter and the lifeguard who helped save his life.

Emily Kilroy and her dad, a part-time lifeguard, were in the surf just south of Venice Pier when they were jolted by the lightning that struck July 27.

"I was scared, honestly," 15-year-old Emily Kilroy said of the day she helped save her father. "I didn't know if he was OK, I didn't even know how I knew it was a lightning strike."

The strike temporarily stunned some lifeguards.

"My vision went white from the actual flash," lifeguard Benjamin Gottlieb said. "The whole tower shook, and my next thing I was looking at was everyone running out of the water."

Kilroy, too, said her mind blanked.

"I woke up underwater and I did not know what had happened," she said.

Then Kilroy saw her dad floating in the water unconscious.

"I have no recollection what happened after I was struck by lightning," said her father, Bob Kilroy.

Emily Kilroy grabbed him and yelled for the lifeguards.

"I'm very proud for her that she's got that kind of an instinct," Bob Kilroy said.

Bob Kilroy, a chiropractor and part-time lifeguard, was in no condition to save himself. The jolt had stopped his heart, and arriving lifeguards took over. His daughter prayed as Gottlieb began CPR.

"I could hear (his daughter's) voice in the back of my mind saying, 'Daddy stay here, daddy be OK,' and I just wanted that to happen, and I think we all heard that," Gottlieb said. "And when you blinked your eyes, Bob, that was...that was really amazing."

Bob Kilroy had long known Gottlieb and would wave to him almost every morning when going for a swim, but it was not until after his heart started beating again that Gottlieb realized who it was.

He needed five days of intensive care at UCLA, but one month later he's already itching to return to lifeguarding with a new appreciation for what it can mean.

"This time, it was my life, and the significance of it just came home to me in a whole new way," he said.

Now, his daughter wants to learn CPR.

"With all the work we put in to keep him here, he better stay," Emily Kilroy said. "So I'd like to help make sure of that."

<![CDATA[Cyrus' VMAs Date Turns Self in, Posts Bail ]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 07:05:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jesse-Helt+.jpg

The young homeless man who accompanied Miley Cyrus to the MTV Video Music Awards and who had been sought on an Oregon arrest warrant has turned himself in and posted bail, an Oregon official said Thursday night.

Jesse Helt, 22, turned himself in at the Polk County Jail in the Willamette Valley community of Dallas, Oregon, was booked on a probation violation warrant and then posted $2,500 bail, said Martin Silbernagel, director of Polk County Community Corrections .

Helt will be expected to appear before a judge in about two weeks, Silbernagel said in a telephone interview.

Court records show that Helt pleaded guilty to misdemeanor criminal mischief and criminal trespass several years ago after breaking into the apartment of a man he believed to be selling bad marijuana. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail and probation. The arrest warrant was issued in November 2011 after he violated probation.

Helt moved to Los Angeles and lived on the streets while trying to find work as a model.

He gained worldwide attention Sunday when Cyrus let him accept her award for video of the year. Helt, who met Cyrus through the Hollywood homeless center My Friend's Place, used the platform to call attention to the issue of youth homelessness.

"I am accepting this award on behalf of the 1.6 million runaways and homeless youth in the United States who are starving, lost, and scared for their lives right now," Helt said. "I know this because I am one of these people."

Cyrus selected the charity with help from her friend Trevor Neilson, the president of G2 Investment Group and co-founder of Global Philanthropy Group.

"Jesse Helt turned himself in tonight to Polk County authorities to address his outstanding legal issues," Neilson said in an email late Thursday. "Miley Cyrus will be assisting him with this process, and they both are committed to working to help the other 1.6 million youth who experience homelessness in America each year."

Jesse's mother, Linda Helt, said late Thursday that the past four days had been a whirlwind experience, and she confirmed that Cyrus has offered to help pay for her son's legal help.

"God gets the glory and she gets the credit," Helt said.

<![CDATA[Mother and Son Killed in Encino Condo Fire]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 13:45:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/encino+fire1.JPG

An elderly mother and her elderly son were killed and six others were injured when a fire broke out in an Encino condo complex Thursday night, fire officials said.

The fire was reported before 9 p.m. near Newcastle Avenue at a three-story condo building, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. When firefighters arrived on scene, they realized the condo was actually about a block away in the 5300 block of Lindley Avenue.

More than 100 firefighters knocked down the blaze by about 10 p.m., officials said.

One firefighter suffered a hand injury and was taken to the hospital in fair condition. Five people were taken to a hospital after suffering smoke inhalation.

Residents said they could hear yelling coming from the third floor of the building as flames burned above a woman who was trapped on a balcony.

"There was a lady on this side of the building going, 'Help, help, help,' and people are shouting to her, 'Please go out, come downstairs and go to alley or the street,'" the resident said. "She was like, 'I can't,' hallways all covered with smoke."

That woman was saved by firefighters, but two others were killed.

The victims were an elderly man and an elderly woman, who most likely died due to asphyxiation from smoke, officials said. The victims were a woman in her 90s and her son, who was in his 70s.

They were found in the thrid floor unit that was full engulfed in flames. Fire officials said that there was no indication that they tried to get out of the unit.

Officials said they were the 19th and 20th fire-related deaths in the city of Los Angeles this year. The cause of the fire was not immediately known.

“One of the most common threads we’re seeing in the 20 structure fire fatalities we’ve had this year is the lack of functional smoke alarms and elderly individuals," LAFD Capt. Jaime Moore said.

The building was equipped with a "pull system" fire alarm that was operational, but no one activated it, Moore said. Hard-wired smoke alarms were found in both the units and hallways, but did not appear to be functional.

"Just because you have a smoke alarm on the wall, doesn’t mean it’s going to work," Moore said. "Actually push the button and listen to that audible alarm.”

Firefighters plan to canvas the neighborhood Friday as part of the LAFD's Smoke Alarm Field Education Program, in which they distribute free smoke alarms and fire safety information. 

Toni Guinyard and Samia Khan contributed to this report.