<![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 Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:33:12 -0700 Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:33:12 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Cause of Fire Truck Crash Into Restaurant Probed]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:32:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/217*120/firetruckcrash1.JPG

Officials were expected to hold a press conference to talk about the fire truck crash that injured 15 people when it slammed into a Monterey Park restaurant.

The crash happened Wednesday at Lu's Dumpling House near Garfield and Emerson avenues.

Fifteen people were hurt, one critically. The truck went into the restaurant after hitting another fire truck responding to a fire.

Cellphone footage taken from inside the restaurant following the crash appeared to show a person trapped beneath the front of the engine.

The crews in both trucks were heading to the scene of a house fire in southern Monterey Park when the collision occurred, Monterey Park Fire Department Chief Jim Birrell said.

Six firefighters suffered minor to moderate injuries, and eight people had minor injuries, authorities said. Three firefighters from each agency involved were injured.

It was unclear what caused the vehicles to collide, said Officer Martin Vasquez of the California Highway Patrol, which is investigating the crash.

Photo Credit: NewsChopper4]]>
<![CDATA[Officers Search for FBI Fugitive After Pursuit]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:06:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/pursuit-suv-april17.jpg

A pursuit involving a sport utility vehicle driver wanted by the FBI -- possibly in connection with a kidnapping report -- ended Thursday in a downtown Los Angeles alley and prompted a police search that closed nearby streets.

It was not immediately clear how many occupants were in the vehicle or whether the subjects ran into a nearby building. No arrests have been reported.

The driver of the SUV swerved through traffic on busy downtown streets and raced through intersections before at least one person ran from the vehicle in the 800 block of South Broadway. Officers closed nearby streets for the investigation.

The subject was described as armed and dangerous, according to the LAPD. The FBI confirmed that the subject is wanted as part of a fugitive task force investigation.

The pursuit began at about 1 p.m. near Cesar Chavez Avenue after a detective attempted a traffic stop, police said. Aerial video showed at least 10 LAPD vehicles outside a Fashion District high-rise building near a construction site as the search continued into Thursday afternoon.

Refresh this page for updates and watch the NBC4 News at 5 p.m.

<![CDATA[LA Film Student Surprised With "Cash for Kindness"]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:19:38 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/ellen-cash-d1ZY39EG.jpg

A film student and aspiring actor was stunned to learn his act of kindness -- helping a stranger who had dropped an armful of items on a sidewalk -- would be rewarded with $1,000 in cash as part of a "Cash for Kindness" segment on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."

That stranger was actually Andy, a show correspondent who pretended to be on his way to perform at a party when he dropped magic act items all over the sidewalk. Peter, a York Film Academy LA student, stopped to help Andy in an act of kindness captured on video.

Peter was invited to be a guest on a taping for Thursday's show, where he received $500 for his kindess. He then received another $500 from Ellen after his surprised reaction.

Watch Peter's act of kindness above.

Video Credit: "The Ellen DeGeneres Show"

Photo Credit: The Ellen DeGeneres Show]]>
<![CDATA[No Bomb Threat in Exposition Park Area]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 11:27:00 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/web-expo-park.jpg

Authorities said a suspicious package in front of a post office in the Exposition Park area Thursday contained combustible Easter egg paraphernalia, but no bomb.

A suspicious package was reported to police Thursday morning in the 3500 block of South Vermont Avenue.

The LAPD bomb squad was called to the scene.

Aerial footage showed several people outside on the sidewalks near the area. 

<![CDATA[Sentences for City of Bell Officials]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 10:07:24 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/spaccia-sentence-bell.gif After stealing millions in public funds from the City of Bell, officials are being given prison sentences for their crimes. ]]> <![CDATA[911 Tapes of Fatal Bus Crash to be Released]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:50:03 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/217*120/AP619076443222.jpg

California Highway Patrol officials said they will release recordings of 911 calls made in the fiery Northern California bus crash that claimed 10 lives while en route to Humboldt State University last Thursday.

Five high school students and five adults were killed when a FedEx truck crossed a 60-foot median on Interstate 5 near Orland, sideswiped a couple’s Nissan Altima and a collided head-on with the charter bus.

CHP Capt. Todd Morrison said that investigators will conduct vehicle tests using a 2014 tour bus and a 2007 FedEx tractor-trailer truck to learn more about characteristics such as braking and visibility.

“We are hoping to learn how it happened so that we can identify what to do to prevent it from happening again,” Morrison said.

Investigators were also still interviewing passengers, witnesses and urging anyone with video of the crash to send it to authorities.

"We owe it to the families of the involved families and the victims of this tragic collision that we tell the story of what happened, and that we tell it as accurately as possible," Leal said.

All 10 victims in the crash had been identified, some by authorities and others by family, including a recently engaged couple, a college admissions counselor and the the drivers of the truck and bus.

Glenn County Sheriff-Coroner Larry Jones said most of the victims had been positively identified by his office, but their causes of death were being withhel pending toxicology testing.

"That can be several weeks out before we receieve all of that data from the labatory," Jones said.

Michael Myvette, 25-year-old Mattison Haywood, 26-year-old counselor Arthur Arzola, students Adrian Castro, 18, Marisa Serrato, 17, Denise Gomez, Ismael Jimenez , Jennifer Bonilla, bus driver Talalelei Taiao and FedEx driver Tim Evans were among those killed in the wreck.

The news conference is scheduled for 1 p.m. near the collision site.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[LAX Terminal Reopens After Bomb Threat Investigation]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:22:16 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/72351172_10.jpg

Part of Los Angeles International Airport was evacuated Thursday morning for a bomb threat investigation.

Details regarding the threat were not immediately available, but airport officials confirmed that the terminal was reopened at about 9 a.m.

The report involving an item in a bag was received at about 7:30 a.m. Authorities determined the items in the bag were not dangerous.

United and United Express operate out of LAX Terminal 7, located near the airport exit.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[1 Dead, 9 Hospitalized in Freeway Crash]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:58:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/van-crash-fontana-11.jpg

One person died and nine victims were hospitalized Thursday morning in a crash on a San Bernardino County freeway that sent a large passenger van into a drainage channel.

The deceased victim was ejected from one of several vehicles involved in the crash on the westbound 10 Freeway near Cedar Avenue in Fontana. Nine other people were hospitalized with injuries.

The van involved in the crash landed in a concrete drainage channel about 15 feet below the freeway, according to fire officials.

The van driver told California Highway Patrol officers he was traveling at about 65 mph when traffic in front of his vehicle slowed. He swerved to avoid the slowdown and the van struck a tree before it rolled into the ditch, CHP officers said.

  • Traffic Updates: Map

Three people suffered major injuries and six others suffered moderate injuries, according to the CHP. Some people in the van were not wearing seat belts.

<![CDATA[Above-Normal Temperatures Reduce CA Snowpack]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:22:16 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/221*120/drought-monitor-map-april17.gif

Temperatures 9 to 12 degrees above normal in California reduced an already low snowpack as drought conditions remained unchanged amid the state's dry spell, according to the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor.

The report (scroll down to view map) tracks drought conditions across the country. Drought Monitor

researchers use five categories to indicate drought intensity -- Abnormally Dry (D0), Moderate (D1), Severe (D2), Extreme (D3) and Exceptional (D4).

More than 95 percent of California remains in the D2 to D4 categories. Three months ago, nearly 90 percent of the state fell into those categories as communities struggle through a third-consecutive dry year.

Above-normal temperatures in the Sierra Nevada range were "detrimental" to the region's snowpack, according to the report. The snow melts as spring runoff, providing water for communities and farmers who depend on it during California's hot, dry summers.

"California lost half of the snow water equivalence (SWE) in a single week and there was little response to inflows into reservoirs," according to the Drought Monitor report.

The Sierra snowpack measured at 32 percent of normal earlier this month -- a time of year when it is supposed to be at its peak. The California Department of Water Resources measures the snowpack monthly during the wet season.

No significant rainfall is in the forecast with summer's hot, dry months ahead. A storm system might bring small amounts of rain to central and northern California next week.

<![CDATA[Two Overnight Arson Fires in South LA]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:37:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/burned+car1.JPG

Police continue to search for two men spotted leaving the scene of a string of arson fires that engulfed two vehicles in flames and burned brush behind a Home Depot Thursday morning in South LA.

The vehicles were set on fire near the intersection of West 60th and South Western Avenue at about 1:30 a.m., LAPD said. Minutes later, just three blocks away, the fire behind Home Depot was lit near the intersection of Slauson and Western Avenues.

The Los Angeles Fire Department is investigating whether these fires are related.

The fires destroyed three people's property. A homeless man, who goes by "Bikeman," lost his tent and bike workshop in the blaze behind Home Depot.

The owners of the two burned vehicles are shocked by what has happened.

"I'm upset," said Vanessa Barrios, whose pickup truck was burnt. "This is my community, my block. We can't be safe and it's really sad."

Police do not have any leads and are asking anyone with information to call their arson line at 213-893-9850.


<![CDATA[Sidewalk Repairs Begin in South LA ]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 04:37:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/damaged+sidewalk.JPG

An 80-year-old woman that was too afraid to leave her home for fear she might fall on her uneven sidewalk will soon have her wishes come true.

Councilman Bernard Parks and the Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative have teamed up to repair 130 of the worst sidewalks in his district.

The repairs began Wednesday, outside the South LA home of 80-year-old Helen Young where a sidewalk was made uneven by large tree roots.

“We wrote letters, letters and letters telling them that the roots were uprooting, you know, the sidewalks,” resident Helen Young said.

Councilman Parks hopes to repair upward of 400 sidewalks.

“It’s the number one complaint we get in the community,” Parks said.

Parks said that about 40 percent of the sidewalks in Los Angeles need repair and that fixing them would cost $1.5 billion.

That amount of money is not in the city budget, so Parks is using $350,000 in discretionary funds to hire private contractors to fix some of the worst sidewalks in his district.

"LANI is proud to be Council District 8's partner on this project and we commend Councilmember Parks for being a leader in increasing safety block by city block," said Veronica Hahni, Executive Director of Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative. "We look forward to working directly with homeowners to make the public right-of-way more accessible, usable and better for all."

Councilman Jose Huizar said last month that he would also use $250,000 in discretionary funds to repair the sidewalks in his district.

Councilman Joe Buscaino said a few hundred thousand dollars here and there won’t solve the Los Angeles problem. He is in support of a half-cent sales tax increase that would pay for streets and sidewalk repairs.

"What a great effort of creating 40, 000 jobs in a 15-year period and fixing streets and sidewalks," Buscaino said.

The City Council has until July 1 to decide whether to put the half-cent sales tax on the November ballot. If it is placed on the ballot, it will need to be passed by a two-thirds majority.

There are over 11,000 miles of sidewalk in the city. The 2014-15 budget includes $20 million to begin a sidewalk program under the management of the Bureau of Street Services.

<![CDATA[Griffith Park Mountain Lion "P-22" Found Sick]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 07:10:02 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/179*120/P22_Mange_Joanne_Medium.jpg

The 4-year-old mountain lion known as P-22 developed a sickness in late March that may have been caused by rat poisoning.

Scientists noticed that P-22, the mountain lion that has made Griffith Park home, looked sick and mangy during a routine recapture. The National Park Service periodically recaptures P-22 to replace batteries in his GPS tracking collar, which they use to study the animal.

P-22 had developed mange, and it’s possible it was due to rodenticide – secondary poisoning.

"Local residents may be putting out rat poison, trying to kill a rat, the rat eats the poison. Then say a coyote comes along, and the coyote eats the rat. And then maybe a mountain lion decides you know, theres not any deer around right now, I’m just gonna go ahead and eat this coyote," Kate Kuykendall of the National Park Service said. "So as the rat poison works its way up the food chain, the dose actually gets bigger and it can become more lethal."

Kuykendall added that the National Park Service had documented two other deaths of mountain lions from rat poison as well as coyotes and bobcats that have died directly from the poison.

"Rodenticide is a big problem not only in the city of LA but everywhere," City of LA Wildlife Specialist Gregory Randall said. "It weakens their immune system, makes them more susceptible to other illnesses. A number of them will contract mange. The mange itself may not often kill the animal but sometimes when they scratch at the mange, they open up wounds and get a secondary infection which will often lead to the death of the animal."

P-22 was treated by the scientists and has returned to Griffith Park.

Both Kuykendall and Randall said that P-22 is not a threat to residents of Griffith Park, and that his primary source of food is deer and rodents.

National Park Service will continue to monitor P-22. They track location and movement, as well as investigate his kill sites and monitor what he’s eating.

Photo Credit: National Park Service]]>
<![CDATA[Explosives Scare in Solvang]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 01:28:22 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/military+ordnance.jpg

Residents were allowed to return home around midnight Thursday after the discovery of a potentially explosive military device forced the evacuation of hundreds of homes and businesses in a Southern California tourist town Wednesday, authorities said.

Santa Barbara County sheriff's officials said the device, described as a military ordnance, was reported about 3:30 p.m. in the 1600 block of Copenhagen Drive in Solvang, a small city about 35 miles north of Santa Barbara.

About 500 to 700 homes and businesses in the immediate area received Reverse 911 calls ordering evacuations, sheriff's officials said.

The evacuation area was within a 1,500-foot radius of where the device was located. It included south of Laurel Avenue, west of Alisal Road, north of Birch Drive and east of 5th Street, sheriff's officials said.

Just after midnight, the Sheriff's Bomb Squad and Venderberg Air Force Base's Explosive Ordnance Disposal team removed the device and deemed it safe. The evacuation was lifted and residents were allowed to return to their homes.

<![CDATA[Fire Truck Crashes Into Dumpling Restaurant]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 05:35:54 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/190*120/06-firetruck.JPG The crash happened in Monterey Park on Wednesday, April 16, 2014.

Photo Credit: Gadi Schwartz/NBCLA]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers End Bad Season on Good Note]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 06:23:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/481662297.jpg

On Wednesday evening in San Antonio, the Los Angeles Lakers wrapped up the 2013-14 season with a win on the road against the best team in the NBA.

Sure, Tim Duncan did not play, and Tony Parker only played the first half, but the Lakers only had nine guys available to play. With the 113-100 win over the San Antonio Spurs, the Lakers finished with the sixth-worst record in the NBA and the worst season in the history of the franchise since moving to Los Angeles.

The 2013-14 Lakers finished with a mark of 27 wins and 55 losses.

For those fans already looking to the NBA draft lottery, the Lakers enter the ping pong contest with a 6.3 percent chance at the no. 1 overall pick.

The result of Wednesday’s game did not mean all that much, but it did show that the Lakers did not give up on the season until the final buzzer sounded on the final game. Considering most of the players did not have any guarantees on returning to LA next season, Wednesday was another example of the team playing unselfish team basketball.

Eight of the nine players who stepped onto the court scored in double digits for the Lakers.

Only three Laker players have guarantees to be back at the start of training camp: Kobe Bryant, Robert Sacre and Steve Nash. Of those three, Nash’s future is in question, as the Lakers have the ability to waive the 40-year-old point guard and stretch his contract across three years should they choose to do so.

Ultimately, only two Lakers—Bryant and Sacre—are truly guaranteed to be back at the start of the season, and Bryant was already vacationing in France before the final game of the season started.

Bryant seemingly detached himself from the team in the final months of the season, but he did take a moment to tweet out that this season was one to forget. The all-time great promised that next season would be “epic.”

Earlier in the day, news broke that Bryant was finally cleared to resume training once he returned from his vacation. Bryant is expected to be healthy and ready to go at the start of training camp.

Along with the uncertainty in the squad, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni was also in the spotlight, and the coach deserved credit for finishing the season strong. He kept his players engaged until the end in an unbelievably difficult season.

Entering the offseason, the Lakers have more questions than answers, but for one final night, the Lakers were winners again. Hopefully, the way this season ended carries into the 2014-15 season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Call For Change After Hit-And-Run Paralyzes Skateboarder]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 03:00:20 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/208*120/imes1.JPG

After a slew of tragic hit-and-run collisions this year, including one involving a popular skateboarder left paralyzed in Santa Monica, a recent bill has garnered recognition for its stringent cause to hunt down and hold fugitive drivers accountable.

The legislation in question, Assembly Bill 1532, seeks to add a driver’s license suspension to those convicted of hit and runs, including incidents in which injuries are deemed “minor.” Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) is the bill’s lead author and main sponsor.

"A violation," the bill reads, "would be a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for 6 months, or by a fine not exceeding $1,000, or by both, and the Department of Motor Vehicles would be required to immediately suspend the driver’s license of a convicted driver for 6 months."

The California Public Defenders Association (CPDA) has argued against the proposal. The group has said that under existing laws, charges have been appropriate -- no matter how major or minor injuries have been.

The bill comes during a year in which fatal and near-fatal hit and runs have skyrocketed. Most recently, skateboarder Ian Imes, 20, was struck by a driver at the intersection of 17th and Marine streets on April 5.

Officials from the Santa Monica Police Department said the suspect driver was either in a Buick Regal or Chevrolet Caprice -- both older models and possibly white. They have yet to be found.

Imes is recovering in a hospital, where doctors have said he might not walk again. A support group has launched on Facebook and the fundraising site Give Forward to collect donations for Imes’ already astronomical health bills.

"Tears of joy. He's breathing on his own," his mother told NBC4 Wednesday of her son, who is paralyzed from the waist down and unable to speak. "I said to my son that I was going to cry the day he walks again."

Shortly after Imes’ collision, mother Genevieve Ann Hall, 34, of Huntington Beach, was broadsided and killed in a separate hit-and-run crash on April 8.

She was riding her bike when a late-model Chevrolet Impala hit her and left her to die in the middle of the road near the busy intersection of Beach Boulevard and Utica Avenue. That driver has yet to be found, too.

The earlier quarter of 2014 also saw severe collisions, including March’s Santa Monica hit-and-run that left a mother dead and February’s mysterious Fontana fatality, among others.

Gatto has been toiling to take hit-and-run drivers off the road; he also passed AB 184, a bill that essentially gives officials more time to hunt down fleeing drivers. According to his website, there are nearly 20,000 hit-and-run incidents reported annually -- with 4,000 leading to injury or death.

After its proposal in January, the California Assembly’s Public Safety Committee voted 7-0 on March 11 in favor of AB 1532. It was then referred to the Assembly’s Transportation Committee, which voted 13-1 on March 24 in its favor.

The bill still has to pass in front of the Assembly’s Appropriations Committee and the full Assembly, as well as the state Senate and its committees later this year.

NBC4's Jane Yamamoto contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Hoppy Easter: Pasadena's Famous Bunny Museum]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 16:50:45 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/bunnymuseum123.jpg The long-eared home-based favorite has over 30,000 rabbit items.

Photo Credit: The Bunny Museum]]>
<![CDATA["Coward" Torched Elks Lodge, Official Says]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 09:14:15 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/san-pedro-elks-lodge-arson-investigators.jpg

A Los Angeles City Councilman on Wednesday vowed to hunt down and arrest the "coward" responsible for torching a beloved Southern California Elks Lodge.

At an afternoon press conference a day after the blaze ripped through the two-story structure in San Pedro, officials said the fire was arson, but offered few details on how investigators came to that conclusion.

 "We damn well know that this fire was set on purpose," said Councilman Joe Buscaino, who shared his personal connection with the lodge and identified himself as a member.

Interim Los Angeles Fire Chief James Featherstone said investigators determined Wednesday that the fire had been intentionally set to the landmark.

The lodge, located on a hillside, was engulfed in flames early Tuesday morning, causing the roof to completely collapse.

Officials said the severity of the fire has made the investigation difficult because evidence has been destroyed.

Firefighters were able to save a 109-year-old bible that has been part of ceremonies at the lodge, as well as several other items that officials said were irreplaceable.

Fifty employees were displaced by the blaze, Buscaino said.

Another fire was reported at the same location outside the building at 6 a.m. Sunday, raising concern.

The two fires were suspicious in nature, said Los Angeles Fire Battalion Chief Steve Ruda on Tuesday.

Ruda called the lodge an "iconic San Pedro landmark" that was "serving the people of San Pedro for over 100 years."

Exalted Ruler Jose Chavez said lodges from Hawaii to New York have called to lend support.

The San Pedro Elks Lodge had more than 2,300 members.

"We will rebuild the Elks," Buscaino said Wednesday. "It will be bigger and stronger than ever."

Dozens of events were scheduled to take place at the lodge, including Katrina Guerrero’s Aug. 9 wedding.

"We went and we just feel in love with it," Guerrero said.

Watching the venue burn down is "probably the worst feeling in the world," she said.

The lodge banquet manager, Sacha Bailey, said calls are pouring in from other facilities offering their space for the lodge’s clients.

"It's scramble time to make sure we can find them a space available," Bailey said.

Some 500 people had planned on attending a Sunday Easter brunch at the lodge, Bailey said. It may now happen at the venue's parking lot.

<![CDATA[15 Hurt When Fire Truck Crashes Into Restaurant]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:55:15 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/217*120/firetruckcrash1.JPG

Monterey Park's fire chief said during a news conference on Thursday that he had never seen an accident the magnitude of Wednesday's crash that left 15 people hurt when two fire trucks plowed into a restaurant.

"Ninety-nine percent of the time ... we don't have anything like this occur," said Monterey Park Fire Chief Jim Birrell.

Lu's Dumpling House owner Vivian Lu said a man was on the sidewalk when the 40,000-pound fire engine jumped the curb, pushing him as it slammed through her restaurant near Garfield and Emerson avenues about 3:25 p.m.

When the fire truck came to a stop, a man was found pinned beneath it.

Cellphone video captured the moment when a firefighter attempted to help the man under the front bumper of the engine. The victim was believed to be hospitalized in critical condition.

"A lot blood,” Lu said. ”I see a lot blood."

Lu said the impact of the crash also pushed a built-in cashier's table across the floor, sending a waitress into a wall and making the building unstable.

Six firefighters suffered minor to moderate injuries, and eight other people had minor injuries. One person was in critical condition. A total of 15 people were hurt.

"I see a few people sitting on the street and all this blood," Lu said.

The crash happened down the street from Garfield Medical Center, where many of the victims were being taken on foot by firefighters.

The crash occurred when a fire truck and a fire engine crashed while responding to a house on fire. Both trucks were blaring sirens and running lights, one truck from Montery Park Fire Department and the other from the Alhambra Fire Department. All firefighters on board were wearing ear protecting headsets to dampen the sirens noise.

"It is ear protection from the noise of your own sirens so they do diminish the sound from outside," Alhambra Fire Department Chief Bill Walker said.

Neighbors ended up helping put out the house fire that both departments were responding to at the time of the crash.

Photo Credit: NewsChopper4]]>
<![CDATA[Debate Heats Up Over Gray Wolf's Status]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:31:08 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/graywolfcrop.JPG

The California Fish and Game Commission postponed a decision Wednesday to decide if the gray wolf should be listed as a threatened or endangered species.

The decision not to take action came after three hours of testimony from clashing animal activists and ranchers.

"Wolves kill less than 0.0001 percent of the 1 billion head of cattle in this United States," said Kimberly Richard, of angelsprotectors.org, working to help gray wolves.

Ranchers see wolves as a threat to their livestock.

"The big game that the wolves will typically hunt isn't nearly as numerous here in California as it is in other states," said Mike Williams, of the Ventura Cattleman's Association.

An extermination campaign in the 1920s wiped out the wolves. However, a radio-collared lone wolf known as OR-7 made a 300-plus mile journey into California in 2011 marking the species’ first appearance in the state since 1924.

The lone wolf tracked into California has sparked an intense debate among those who seek to protect the species and those who oppose reintroducing it into the state.

Noah Greenwald of the Center for Biological Diversity admits that wolves can pose a danger to ranchers and their livestock, but said the "number lost to wolves is very small."

Greenwald, an advocate for providing legal protection to the once-native species, said that there are some things that ranchers can do to minimize the negative effects of wolves. Range riders patrolling the grounds, installation of fences or enclosures with flagger and making noise will deter the wolves from interfering with livestock.

Those arguing for protection of the gray wolf say that the species is beneficial to the ecosystem. But opponents belief the negatives outweigh the positives.

"Not only could ranchers not legally control wolves attacking their cattle, CESA (California Endangered Species Act) listing would mean a rancher cannot even peacefully chase a wolf off his property," said Kirk Wilbur, director of government relations for the California Cattlemen’s Association (CCA).

The CCA instead supports a wolf management plan that responds to the concerns of various stakeholders.

There is a pending proposal by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to remove federal protection for the wolves throughout much of the country. If the Fish and Game Commission decides to provide protection to the species, it would affect the recovery of wolves in California.

The commission could take up the vote again in the summer.

Photo Credit: Center for Biological Diversity ]]>
<![CDATA[Jay-Z Bringing Music Festival to Downtown LA]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 20:18:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/jayzgracetti.JPG

Rapper Jay-Z and Mayor Eric Garcetti announced details Wednesday for a two-day music festival set to take place over Labor Day weekend. Garcetti hails the "Budweiser Made in America" music festival, which will take place in downtown LA's Grand Park, as an economic boost for the city.

"On Labor Day weekend we are going to celebrate our golden state of mind right here in LA with a sellout crowd right on the steps of city hall and into Grand Park," Garcetti said. "The "Made in America Festival" will attract 50,000 fans Saturday and Sunday. Fans who will inject millions of dollars into the LA Economy."

The "Budweiser Made in America" music festival began in Philadelphia two years ago and helped generate $10 million for the city. Much of the proceeds from the LA festival will go to the local chapter of the United Way.

The 2013 lineup featured acts that spanned various genres, including Nine Inch Nails, Phoenix, Kendrick Lamar and Jay-Z himself.

"I had a vision of putting together a music festival that blurred the lines of genres that all walks of life and people could come to," Jay-Z said. "And it's in the city, not in a far off place you can't get to."

The festival has drawn criticism from Councilman Jose Huizar, who represents the downtown Los Angeles neighborhood that will host the event. Huizar has expressed concern about the impact of 50,000 visitors and street closures.

He has called on the city to hold off on issuing permits for the event until the council receives a report on potential public safety issues. The county-owned Grand Park is managed by the Music Center but must obtain street closure permits from the city, according to Huizar's office.

In a motion last month calling for the report, Huizar said "significant public safety and logistical concerns have been raised by various departments."

Grand Park has hosted large events in the past, including a Fourth of July fireworks show and a New Year's Eve party that drew over 20,000 people.

<![CDATA[Fire Burns Below Griffith Observatory]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:06:00 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/GPF3.JPG A small brush fire, reported at 2:30 a.m., burned less than one acre near the Griffith Observatory on April 16, 2014. Officials believe the fire may have started by someone who was cooking near the hillside.

Photo Credit: LLN]]>
<![CDATA[Fire Burns Hillside Below Griffith Observatory]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 08:33:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/griffith-park-fire-april2014.gif

Firefighters on narrow access roads extinguished a small brush fire Wednesday morning on a hillside below the Griffith Observatory.

The fire burned less than one acre near the Griffith Park landmark, but more than 40 firefighters battled the fire for more than one hour. The fire left behind a charred area between the Griffith Observatory and Greek Theater.

No injuries were reported.

The fire, reported at 2:30 a.m., was in an area accessed on narrow roads that could only be reached with smaller firefighting vehicles. Those vehicles have a limited water capacity, so crews had to make several re-filling trips.

The fire might have started by someone who was cooking near the location, but authorities could not confirm the cause. The park is open from 5 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and open fires are prohibited.

In May 2007, an 800-acre fire burned through the park and threatened the Observatory, site of several film scenes including climactic sequences from 1955's "Rebel Without a Cause."

Griffith Park includes more than 4,200 acres of wilderness and landscaped parkland.

Photo Credit: LLN]]>
<![CDATA[California Drought Driving Up Food Prices]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 05:31:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/0415-foodprices.jpg

A head of lettuce could go up as much as 62 cents, an avocado may increase by 35 cents and a pound of tomatoes appears to be headed for a 45-cent hike, according to a study that examined the effects of California's drought on food prices.

"It seems like they fluctuate a lot," shopper Benisa Berry said of food prices. "It seems like it's on sale one week and then you go the next day and it's like twice as much."

Carol Benevidez, of Windmill Farms in San Ramon, said the freeze in January combined with the unpredictable weather and drought are driving up prices.

"Customers are definitely going to see the cost increase and it's going to be across the board for everyone, from owners to customers unfortunately," Benevidez said.

A lime that used to sell for 33 cents is now 79 cents, and come summer Benevidez said more produce will be impacted by the state's lack of water including squash, lettuce and stone fruits like peaches and nectarines.

"We have gotten word from farmers that they either have to cut back on crops or just not plant at all," Benevidez said.

Grocers in response will have to import the produce, which comes at a cost.

"So we're paying over a $150 per box of limes and we're mainly only able to get those out of Mexico right now because we have nothing really here in California," Benevidez said.

Shoppers said they are now limiting their grocery lists to items they really need.

"You got to eat you know? So I just cut out some unnecessary things," shopper Susan Ni said. "Like what? Luxury things like cake, party things, drinks, all those things."

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Yasiel Puig's Controversial Journey From Cuba]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 07:23:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/177071265.jpg

The background of Los Angeles Dodgers right-fielder Yasiel Puig is making headlines after an article in Los Angeles Magazine alleges that the baseball player was smuggled into the United States by a drug cartel.

"Jesse Katz's article about Puig's path from Cuba to LA (is) filled with danger, extortion, drug money, death threats," sportscaster Petros Papdakis said on the "Petros & Money" radio show Tuesday.

The highly researched exposé, published Sunday, claims Puig was smuggled out of Cuba by a Mexican drug cartel that wanted a cut of Puig’s eventual multimillion dollar salary.

According to the article, a Miami-based air-conditioning repairman named Raul Pacheco funded the transportation of Puig to Mexico by the Los Zetas Mexican drug cartel in June 2012. The smugglers then held Puig in a hotel for weeks while trying to extract more money from Pacheco. The smugglers allegedly even threatened to mutilate Puig, and in turn jeopardize his baseball career, as part of the extortion.

"You have to somehow associate with unsavory people and be part of this criminal pipeline that’s going to deliver you," said Jesse Katz, the journalist who wrote the piece.

Katz said similar situation have happened before with other Cuban exiles.

Both the Dodgers and Major League Baseball would not comment on the allegations.

The LA Times’ Bill Plaschke suggested Tuesday that if the drug cartel is upset with a lack of payment, it could be a safety risk for the Dodgers.

LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck would not discuss specifics in terms of added security around Puig, but did say that the department works "very closely with the Dodgers and adjusts "deployment based on the needs."

Puig signed a 7-year contract with the Dodgers for $42 million.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Man Robbed of Google Glass on Venice Boardwalk]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 05:50:54 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/fb-04-14-2014-google-glass.jpg

A Venice man was traumatized after two thieves robbed him of his Google Glass Monday night.

The crime occurred near the Venice boardwalk just before 9 p.m. The victim was sitting on his patio working on his computer and wearing his Google Glass when a man terrorized him with a taser, according the victim’s roommate.

"A crazy guy with a taser ran up with an active taser and threatened him, so he threw his electronics at him," the victim’s roommate Sam Nicolosi said.

An LAPD lieutenant told NBC4 that taser robberies are rare, but not unusual for the area.

Google Glass, a high-priced eye wear that went on sale Tuesday as part of a special one-day sale to the public, costs approximately $1,500.

"If you have Google Glasses then yeah, like, I'm pretty sure anywhere you are someone's gonna rob you cause it's not an item you see everyday," Venice visitor Joshua Garnica said.

In addition to the Google Glass, the robbers also took the victim’s computer.

"He said his life wasn't worth the Google Glass, so he threw his electronics and ran in the house," the victim’s roommate said.

The two suspects have not been located.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Mother of Slain Woman Says GPS Monitoring Didn't Work]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:25:20 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jodi-mchelle-Pier-Estepp.jpg

The mother of a woman allegedly killed by two parolees who were wearing GPS ankle bracelets said Tuesday that the monitoring system should have prevented her daughter’s slaying.

"California is responsible for them, and evidently their system doesn’t work," Jodi Piere Estepp told NBC4.

But it was that GPS technology, police said, that helped investigators link the two sex offenders to the rapes and killings of Estepp’s daughter, Jarrae Nykkole Estepp, and at least three other women in Orange County.

Federal and state officials said the devices helped pinpoint the locations of suspects Steven Dean Gordon, 45, and Franc Cano, 27, after the crimes.

"Unfortunately, GPS monitoring cannot always deter crimes," a spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a statement. "It is a tool that shows us where a monitored offender has been and it can place them at the scene of a crime. A monitor has no way to detect whether a crime is being committed."

During a court hearing on March 17, Gordon requested that the GPS device be removed. His request was denied.

That court appearance took place four days after the body of 21-year-old Estepp was discovered on a conveyor belt at an Anaheim recycling plant.

The men are also accused of killing Kianna Jackson, 20, Josephine Monique Vargas, 34, and Martha Anaya, 28, who all went missing last fall in Santa Ana and had histories of prostitution.

Gordon and Cano made their first court appearance Tuesday morning. Estepp’s mother was at the courthouse hoping to look her daughter’s accused killers in the face. Instead, it pained her, she said.

"It made me sick to my stomach," she said. "A lot of anger came through."

The men's arraignment was postponed until May 19. Their charges include four felony counts of special circumstances murder and four felony counts of rape.

Newport Beach police are trying to determine if the 2013 death of another woman, Tina Huong, can be connected to the same two suspects. Her body was found face down on the sand. She also had a history of prostitution, investigators said.

Cano's public defender declined to comment Tuesday to the Associated Press. Gordon's attorney did not return a call Tuesday to the AP.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

<![CDATA[Man Found Burned, Bound Along Freeway Dies]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:06:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/204*120/freeway-burn-victim-605.jpg

A man who was found badly burned and partially bound along the 605 Freeway in the city of Industry on Tuesday has died, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said.

The man, whose identity is still unknown, was discovered by a driver around 1:30 p.m. near the transition road from the northbound 605 Freeway to the 60 Freeway, according to a Los Angeles County Fire Department dispatcher.

The man crawled out of a nearby riverbed wash and up onto the freeway, according Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators.

The man was burned all over his face and body. He was found naked with his hands and feet tied.

Investigators said that the man was assaulted prior to being burned and was not dumped in that location.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call the LA County Sheriff's Department's Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

Refresh this page for updates.

City News Service contributed to this report.


<![CDATA[Man Arrested After Knife Attack]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 20:08:18 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/jonathan-schmidt-lake-elsinore-attack.jpg

A man is facing charges of assault with a deadly weapon and battery after allegedly attacking several people at a Lake Elsinore business Sunday night, including one person who was cut with a knife while trying to break up the fight, police said.

Johnathan Schmidt, 29, was arrested in connection with the incident, which took place before 11:10 p.m. in the 31000 block of Riverside Drive, according to the Lake Elsinore Police Department.

Police said Schmidt attacked several people at the business and cut a person who tried to intervene. He then fled the area in a Ford Explorer.

Officers who were on patrol said they spotted the SUV and pulled the driver over near Grand Avenue and Bryant Street.

Police said Schmidt, a heavily tattooed resident of Lake Elsinore, was found in possession of a knife and arrested.

The person who was cut suffered non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

Photo Credit: Lake Elsinore Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Recruiter Who Died in Bus Crash Was Living Passion]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:17:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/01-artarzeola.JPG

Krystle Arzola says her husband was dedicated to helping young people get into college, especially those who would be the first in their families to attend, just as he was.

Art Arzola turned down an offer to fly to Humboldt State University so he could ride on the bus with 44 other high school students who were planning to visit the campus.

Arzola, 26, of Rancho Cucamonga, was one of the 10 who died in the head-on crash with a FedEx truck in the Northern California city of Orland.

“He said, ‘No, I want to be with these kids on this bus,’” his wife said. “That’s a long bus ride and I want to be with these kids.”

Messages from students her husband mentored are helping Krystle get through each day, along with her faith.

Krystle Arzola said her husband was living his life’s passion.

“His job was not to tell these students if they could go to college, it was to show them how to get there,” she said.

Added Arthur’s mother, Patricia Arzola: “That was his vision. He wanted to say, ‘Hey, you have a shot. You can do it, too.’

“This is a really tough time for everyone."

The young couple shared a strong faith. Her husband's final journal entry are notes from a church service he attended four days before he died.

“He wrote this in bold,” his wife said. “Storms don't last forever and remember that God will be with us throughout the storm."

Some $15,400 had been raised by Tuesday afternoon on the website gofundme to help pay for the funeral, set for Friday.

On Wednesday, mourners were planning a vigil at the University of La Verne Arzola, where Arzola was a graduate student.

<![CDATA[Multiple People Shot in South LA]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 03:57:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/south-la-shooting-april15.jpg

Multiple people were wounded when gunfire broke out in South Los Angeles on Tuesday, police said.

Police responded about 5:45 p.m. to a call of shots fired in the 4100 block of Palmyra Road, near the Santa Barbara Plaza Shopping Center, the Los Angeles Police Department said.

Less than 10 minutes later, another shooting was reported nearby at a fire station in the 4400 block of W. Coliseum Street, an official with the Los Angeles Fire Department said.

At least two people were taken to the hospital following the shootings, police said.

Initial reports indicated that up to three people had been shot.

Aerial footage showed a heavy police presence at both locations.

It was unclear whether the shootings were related.

Information about the shooter was not immediately available.

<![CDATA[Girl Evades Abduction By Ignoring Attacker]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 09:31:32 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/203*120/girlescape1.JPG

A father is thankful he taught his daughter to never talk to strangers after she boldly ignored a man who tried to pull her into his car last week.

Alexandra Smith, 13, was listening to music and walking toward La Mesa and Amethyst roads in Victorville April 10 when a man drove up beside her and tried to lure her into his car.

"(He said), 'Hey you, hey you, you know me, you remember me, I know you, get in the car, come on,'" Smith. "And I was like, 'No, I don't know you,' and I kept refusing."

The girl's father, Erik Hughes, warned her in the past what to do if this ever happened, and she followed his instructions.

"You've got to teach your kids no matter what age," Hughes told NBC4. "You know, teach them young. Don't get into a vehicle that you don't know."

He was surprised anyone would attempt such a brazen move in broad daylight, especially near an intersection where a daycare and elementary school are next to each other.

"It's a sad thing that we've got to deal with this," he said. "We've got to watch our kids 24/7."

The girl ran from the scene until she found an adult she recognized. They tried to find the car to get its license plate number, but the man was nowhere to be found.

The man’s vehicle was described as a 1990s-model Chevy Caprice or Toyota Corolla with black spray-painted rims.

Hughes is hoping someone recognizes the car and calls the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department.

"If he did it once, he’s going to do it again," he said.

San Bernardino County sheriff's investigators said they haven’t received any other reports of similar incidents.

Children and teens with cell phones should attempt to videotape or photograph anyone who approaches them with aggressive behavior, officials said.

"It’s another way of telling them, 'I know who you are,'" San Bernardino Sgt. Ken Lutz said. "Pull the cell phone out. Even if they can't turn the cell phone on, the suspect doesn't know that."

Parents were shaken in the area and on high alert since the incident took place last week.

"I will not let them walk home, I just prefer to pick them up," said a parent who asked to remain anonymous.

Officials are asking anyone who recognizes the vehicle to call the department at 760-245-4211.

<![CDATA[Teens Accused of Throwing Egg at Praying Woman]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 03:57:38 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/egg+teens.JPG

A group of teens is suspected of throwing eggs and shooting people with a paint gun in Southern California, and now officials are asking victims to come forward.

Three teenage boys were arrested Monday after a patrolling Lancaster sheriff’s sergeant witnessed one of them throw an egg at a homeless woman who was praying on a bench near Sierra Highway and Lancaster Boulevard, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Victim Kathleen Hurst was sitting on the curb with her head down when she felt something hit her in the chest.

"It felt like somebody hit me with a baseball," she said. "Seriously, if I had a heart problem, it probably could have killed me."

Hurst, who was once married for 24 years, became homeless two months ago. She said the pain of being hit with the egg was so intense, she's still store from the hit.

"I can't even touch my chest. It hurts," she said. "It's been hard. It's been one thing after another, and I always go, 'How much more can you ask of me Lord?'"

After Hurst was hit with the egg, the sergeant watched the attacker get into a Honda with two other 17-year-olds.

Although only one teen was witnessed throwing the egg, all three were booked on felony assault and conspiracy after officials found suspicious items in a car occupied by two of the teens.

Among those items were backpacks, another egg, a paint gun, a face mask and cell phone video of other attacks.

Officials said it was not clear whether the footage was of staged attacks or attacks in which people were victimized.

Anyone with information and victims who may have been attacked by the group are urged to call the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station at 661-948-8466.

<![CDATA[Pursuit Driver Ends Up in Car Wash Bay]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 19:51:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lapd-pursuit-car-wash.gif

A car involved in a police pursuit ended up in the bay of a car wash Tuesday morning after sideswiping several vehicles at an intersection south of downtown Los Angeles.

The pursuit began after a report of a stolen vehicle.

Aerial video showed at least one person transported to an ambulance and at least two other vehicles damaged at the intersection near 42nd Street and Central Avenue. Details regarding the woman's condition were not immediately available.

Two people were taken into custody, according to City News Service.

Photo Credit: NewsChopper4]]>
<![CDATA[Bouncer Says Patron Threw Cement Object at His Head]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 09:16:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/strip+club+bouncer.jpg

A bouncer at a Southwest Miami-Dade strip club said he was attacked while on the job.

The victim, who just wanted to go by the name Dwayne, said he was seriously injured after trying to break up a fight that started near the entrance of Extacy South at 23101 South Dixie Highway on March 7th.

"A fight take place inside the club and, you know, my job is to make sure everybody get home safe," said the bouncer.

Surveillance video obtained exclusively by NBC 6 shows an argument starting at the entrance of the club, formerly known as QT's.

"The guy tried to swing at me," Dwayne said. "Then I maced the guy. And while I'm following behind the guy that I maced, that's when the next guy came behind me and hit me, right on my face."

The man had thrown a heavy cement object at Dwayne's head an knocked him out.

"Next thing I know, all this bleeding, it was open wide. It's just crazy," Dwayne said.

Dwayne said he was left with a concussion, a skull fracture and a blood clot the size of a lemon. He is now recovering at home.

"Right now I'm suffering from all these headaches and it's just hard for me," he said.

Meanwhile, Miami-Dade Police are now looking for a man seen leaving the scene in the surveillance video. Dwayne said he's a regular at the club.

"All I'm asking for is justice, that's all," Dwayne said. "You know, right now I'm shedding tears because of how I feel."

The owner of the club was not available for comment.

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call Miami-Dade Crimestoppers at 305-471-TIPS (8477).

Photo Credit: NBC 6 South Florida]]>
<![CDATA[Caught on Video: Thieves Use Stolen Credit Cards]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 15:33:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/224*120/suspectscreditcards.JPG

Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying two people who are suspected of using stolen credit cards swiped from a man’s car in February.

The victim left his car unlocked and parked on the afternoon of Feb. 23, near Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley when the incident happened, according to a statement released by police. Upon returning to his car, he noticed his wallet was missing from the center console.

Within hours, surveillance video captured two subjects using the stolen credit cards at a gas station in Santa Ana and at a Walmart in Orange.

Officials ask if you recognize either of the individuals to contact Detective Dave Cabrera at 714-593-4495.

<![CDATA[Tax Day Deals: Find Your April 15 Pick-Me-Ups]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 12:57:17 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/196*120/sprinklestaxdaycupcake.jpg

What's the most communal day of the year at the post office?

Many might say the Friday before Christmas, when hordes of relatives descend, laden with packages, to make sure across-the-country tots get the in-demand toy.

But April 15 likely trumps even that special moment, as far as people visiting mailboxes for the Very Same Important Reason.

It can be stressy, in all meanings of the word, no doubt about it. But there are ways to de-knot those shoulders and add a smile to that face, once you've put the checkbook and envelopes and stamps away.  Why not head out for a...

FREE COOKIE: Swinging through the Third Street Promenade? Doubletree by Hilton is handing out gratis cookies in a "friendly competition" between "the nation's two most taxed cities" (the other would be Philadelphia). A sweepstakes, possible free hotel stays, and other potential goodies await.

FREE CURLY FRIES: If you want to talk about on-going tax day traditions of the salty-tastiest kind, start right here. Arby's always goes with the free curly fries giveaway come a certain day in the middle of April, so, yep, potato goodness shall reign after the post office. But do you go Horsey Sauce or ketchup? Decisions. (Oh, and you'll need a coupon, too.)

FREE CUPCAKE: Count on Sprinkles to be atop the timely zeitgeist. Buy one cupcake, whisper "tax day" during the transaction, and bag another. How loudly you want to whisper it, though, is really how much the people near you in line look like they might need a free cupcake, too. Use your discretion.

HALF-PRICE SLUSHIE: Sonic's got this one just right, timing-wise. Not only is the drive-in chain discounting its famous slushies by half in honor of tax day, but isn't the Ides of April kind of sort of the unofficial start of the pre-beginning of summer? Once taxes have wrapped? It all works.

TAX DAY COCKTAIL: A number of restaurants around town, including La Dolce Vita, Border Grill, and Plan Check, have April 15-only specials in the spirits department. That means discounts on beverages, like a dollar martini at La Dolce Vita, so make sure you have a driver to whisk you home (they may well be out at the mailboxes, too).

Photo Credit: Sprinkles]]>
<![CDATA[Year-Long Construction Project May Disrupt PCH Traffic]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 11:19:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/rsz_pchgenericc.jpg

The final component of a long-term construction project on Pacific Coast Highway began Tuesday, forcing a year-long closure of one southbound lane to upgrade the sewage system.

The $8 million construction project will take place weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and again from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Work will be performed from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. as needed on Saturdays. Work will not take place during the day on Sundays, according to a Los Angeles Department of Public Works document.

About 900 feet of a 48-inch diameter sewer line will be constructed. The project stretches from the City of Santa Monica’s Annenberg Beach House at 415 Pacific Coast Highway, and goes north to the privately-owned Beach Club at 201 Palisades Beach Road.

To prevent traffic congestion, the city will change the direction of one of the lanes depending on traffic peak requirements, LA Department of Public Works Spokesman Richard Lee said.

Cones and signage will direct drivers.

Number of lanes open during peak commute times:

  • 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. - Three southbound lanes and two northbound lanes
  • 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. - Two southbound lanes and two northbound lanes
  • 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. - Three northbound lanes and two southbound lanes
  • 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. - Two northbound lanes and one southbound lane

Lee said the city is not suggesting any specific alternate routes.

This low flow diversion project is phase II of a two-part upgrade to the Coastal Interceptor Relief Sewer. Phase I, which was completed in April 2013, installed 3,600 feet of sewer along PCH.

The new sewage system will divert urban runoff during year-round dry weather to a Hyperion Treatment Plant and expand sewer capacity.

Previously, the polluted water funneled directly into the Santa Monica Bay. Now, unpolluted water will flow into the bay in compliance with Environmental Protection Agency and Clean Water Act regulations.

Photo Credit: Whitney Irick ]]>
<![CDATA[Alhambra HS Evacuated After Natural Gas Report]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 14:05:04 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/students-alhambra-55.jpg

Students were evacuated Tuesday morning at Alhambra High School after a report of a natural gas odor on the campus in the western San Gabriel Valley.

Aerial video showed students gathered on an activity field outside the high school. There were no reports of injuries.

A hazardous materials team responded to the campus. The report was received at about 7 a.m.

The odor eventually dissipated, but the source could not be determined.

Refresh this page for updates.

<![CDATA[Images: San Pedro Elks Lodge Fire]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 08:51:55 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/55-san-pedro-fire-elks-bible-2.jpg A Bible was saved Tuesday April 15, 2014 from a fire at a San Pedro Elks Lodge.]]> <![CDATA[Southern California Blood Moon Images]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 13:21:59 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/abd52104319a45a08f8aac8c26b47edd.jpg Images of the Blood Moon over Southern California April 14, 2014]]> <![CDATA[Bible Saved From Fire at Elks Lodge]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 05:35:59 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/55-san-pedro-fire-elks-bible-2.jpg

A Bible that has been part of ceremonies at a Southern California Elks Lodge for more than 100 years and other items that have been part of the organization for decades were saved from a fire early Tuesday at the iconic building.

Firefighters responded to 1748 W. Cumbre Drive just after 2:50 a.m. The two-story building was fully engulfed in flames and the roof collapsed on the first floor around 3:30 a.m., according to officials. The fire was knocked down by 4:45 a.m.

The Bible, which was not damaged, is used during Elks Lodge ceremonies for the fraternal organization. It was one of several items firefighters brought out of the burned out building.

"I'm so elated that firefighters were able to save our lodge room and save this Bible," said Exalted Ruler Jose Chavez, who was in tears when firefighters handed him the Bible. "I've been holding this since 3 o'clock this morning."

The Bible has been signed by every Exalted Ruler, including Chavez, since 1905.

Battalion Chief Steve Ruda of the Los Angeles Fire Department called the structure an "iconic San Pedro landmark" that was "serving the people of San Pedro for over 100 years." The San Pedro Elks Lodge had more than 2,300 members.

"Anybody who lives in San Pedro has been here, for either a fundraiser, wedding, funeral, community fundraising event, said James Dimon, Elks Lodge trustee. "The lodge is the community and the community is the lodge."

The building a 37,000-square-foot two-story structure with a basement, located on a hillside. Ruda said the facility faced significant damage and that firefighters are saddened by the loss.

Firefighters were able to save what Ruda described as a ritual hall, where services and meetings are held.

"There was not total devastation here, we were able to save that particular part of the building and our hearts go out because everybody knows of this iconic building, (and) what they've done for the people of San Pedro," Ruda said.

No injuries have been reported.

There was a members-only meeting at the facility last night, but it's "hard to say" what the cause of the fire is just yet, according to Ruda.

Another fire was reported at the same location outside the building on Sunday at 6 a.m., raising concern.

"It is a little early to tell, however it is two fires close together that are of suspicious nature," Ruda said.

<![CDATA[Bus Crash Victim's Parents Mourn Daughter]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 03:35:15 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/bus-crash-victims-ismael-jimenez-denise-gomez.jpg

The parents of 18-year-old Denise Gomez can’t believe their little girl is gone.

"I think that this is a dream, like a nightmare and she’s gonna come tomorrow and knock on my door, and tell me, 'mom I'm here,'" Flor Gomez said.

The Animo Inglewood Charter High School senior died in Thursday’s bus crash in Orland, Calif. She and best friend Ismael Jimenez were among the five Los Angeles-area students killed when their tour bus was hit by a FedEx truck on the way to Humboldt State University.

Denise Gomez’s father told NBC4 that he wanted to take his daughter to the university himself.

"I said, 'no mija, you can’t go by yourself, we got to take you,' then she says, 'no Ismael is going with me so we are going to be fine dad, don’t worry,'" Ernesto Gomez said.

Denise’s parents said their daughter didn’t want her father to worry about the costs associated with taking a trip to the university so she opted to join the other students on the school-sponsored trip for low-income and first-generation college students.

"(Denise) loved the progress that came with hard work, and was determined to go to college to open new pathways for herself and her family," Green Dot Public Schools CEO Marco Petruzzi said in a statement.

Denise’s mother recalls her last attempted communication with her daughter.

"I sent her a message, please, please call me whenever you have a chance, are you already there," Flor Gomez said.

Denise’s mother found out about the bus crash about an hour later.

Denise’s best friend, Ismael Jimenez, is being hailed a hero after the crash. A student on the bus told school officials that Ismael "busted open a window at the front of the bus as it was filling with smoke and people were getting burned. He started lifting kids out in an effort to save them."

Denise’s parents believe their daughter was by her best friend’s side, helping him help others.
"they put other people first then them."

Both Denise and Ismael would have been the first people in their immediate families to attend college.

"There are no words that can truly express how devastated we are by this news. Our deepest sympathies and unwavering support go out to Denise and Ismael’s families, friends and loved ones," Petruzzi said in the statement.

Photo Credit: Twitter]]>
<![CDATA[Possible Abduction Attempts Reported at UC Riverside]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 05:41:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/181*120/ucr+riverside+campus.jpg

UC Riverside campus police are asking students to be vigilant after two female students reported separate possible kidnapping attempts that happened within two hours of each other.

About 6:30 p.m. Saturday, a student was walking on a path to Lothian Residence Hall near Big Springs Road when she passed by a man grabbing something from the trunk of a silver-colored car, police said. When the student looked back, the man was walking closely behind her holding a folded, dark blue bandana with a pattern on it.

The student panicked and threw a drink she was holding at the man and ran. She said she turned back and saw the man getting in his car and driving away.

About an hour later, another student said she was walking alone when she came across a silver-colored, four-door sedan blocking the same path to Lothian. When she tried to go around it, a man got out of the car and ran toward her, getting close enough to touch her as she fled, police said.

The student said she looked back and saw the man run back to the car and drive off.

Officers searched the area, but could not find the car.

The man was described as Asian, 20- to 30-years-old, about 5 feet 6 inches tall, with black hair and an oval-shaped face. He was wearing a white T-shirt and glasses.

Campus police said they are investigating the incidents as possible attempted abductions.

Anyone with information was urged to call campus police at 951-827-5222.

Photo Credit: UC Riverside]]>
<![CDATA[Parolees Raped, Killed While Wearing GPS Bracelets: Police]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 12:29:29 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/oc-serial-murders-suspects.jpg

Two parolees raped and killed at least four women in Orange County last year while wearing GPS ankle bracelets, police said Monday.

Franc Cano and Steven Dean Gordon, both registered sex offenders, wore the tracking devices and checked in with police every 30 days during the murders last October and November, Anaheim police Chief Raul Quezada said at an afternoon press conference.

The two men were each charged Monday with four felony counts of special circumstances murder and four felony counts of rape, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said.

Investigators got a break in the case when a woman's body was discovered on a conveyor belt at an Anaheim recycling plant on March 14. She was later identified as 21-year-old Jarrae Nykkole Estepp of Oklahoma.

The three other women had been reported missing from Santa Ana. They were identified as 20-year-old Kianna Jackson of Las Vegas, and Santa Ana residents Josephine Vargas, 34, and Martha Anaya, 28. Investigators were searching for their bodies.

Quezada said the women’s cases were tied together based on their lifestyle, location and pattern of behavior, including drug use and prostitution in Anaheim and Santa Ana.

Investigators were searching for additional victims. They're also looking into whether an unsolved murder near Costa Mesa last year is connected to the case.

"We are confident there is one additional victim, and possibly more," Quezada said.

Cano, 27, and Steven Dean Gordon, 45, who police said are both transients, were arrested Friday in Anaheim.

If convicted, they face life without the possibility of parole or the death penalty, Rackauckas said.

"Our hearts go out to the victims in this case," Rackauckas said. "Certainly, the families are all very distraught and concerned."

Herlinda Salcedo said police came to her home Saturday to inform her that her daughter Anaya, who disappeared in November 2013, was dead. Police also told her they had not found Anaya’s body.

Salcedo spent months searching for her daughter. The mother told NBC4 she has found closure.

A woman in an area of Santa Ana known for prostitution told NBC4’s Gadi Schwartz that she recognized Gordon, and that he was known to offer women rides in an RV where they could get high on crack cocaine.

“He was always offering rides,” said the woman, who did not want to be identified. “In a safe place, that’s priceless for some of these girls out here.”

Police are in possession of the RV. Arraignment on Tuesday was postponed to May 19.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Bus Driver Who Died Was Recent Grandmother]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 18:54:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/01-busdriverfixed.jpg

The bus driver who died along with nine others in a head-on collision in Northern California was a 53-year-old mother of two who recently had become a grandmother.

Talalelei Taiao died when a FedEx truck slammed into the bus she was driving as it carried high school students to a tour of a college.

She honked, braked and swerved to try to avoid the crash, passengers said.

"She was like, a very, very special girl," Sapina Tofi, a family friend, told NBC's Sacramento affiliate KCRA. "(She was) like a daughter to us. ... Her job was important, and the lives of the people on board -- that's very, very important to her."

Lealao-Taiao had just taken over on a shift in Sacramento after another driver had traveled from Los Angeles, the NTSB said.

The FedEx truck driver veered across the Interstate 5 median, sideswiped a sedan and collided with the bus. Dozens of injured students escaped through windows before the vehicles exploded into flames.

"I thought about (Lealao-Taiao's) kids -- her son and her daughter," Tofi said. "And I know she has a granddaughter.

"Every time when I watch the news and I see the accident, it breaks my heart. And I know that's what her husband is going through with his kids right now."

Lealao-Taiao is survived by two children and one grandson, a relative said.

"She just gave, that's how we know Tala," said family friend Temukisa Faalua. "She was always a giving person. We never know what God has planned for us. We never knew that Tala was (going to) leave this way."

<![CDATA[Yoga at the Chinese Theatre]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 19:18:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Chinese_756077.jpg

We put our feet to the ground in, well, just about every place we go.

But our hands? Our mitts tend to meet earth less often. Oh, maybe at a handstand convention, or a Twister tournament, or a chalk festival, should you need to outline your fingers for your artwork (we can only imagine you're drawing turkeys, if so).

All that said, Southern California is home to two prominent avenues for hands to spread upon the ground, fingers well-splayed. One? Yoga classes, which are plentiful and varied. And two? The TCL Chinese Theatre forecourt.

Now those two titans of SoCal living shall merge in one offbeat and planet-conscious happening. The forecourt of the Chinese Theatre is transforming into a yoga studio, for one evening only, in honor of Earth Day.

Downward-dogging on the handprints of Clark Gable and Rita Hayworth? It's happening on Tuesday, April 22.

Jahmelia Lindsay will do the instructing duties, Dasani'll do the gift-bagging duties, Lorna Jane is loaning the mats, and you? You just need to reserve a spot at info@chinesetheatres.com.

Cost to participate: free. Levels welcomed? All of 'em, so starters and advanced people, join in.

Two final questions: Whose handprints will your hands be in as you hold a plank? Hope it is a favorite stars. And two: Will yoga unitards outnumber hero costumes on the boulevard for a few hours? That sartorial showdown could be pretty spectacular.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Griffith Observatory "Blood Moon" Watch]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 07:27:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GriffithbyNight72370594.jpg

If you head up the hill once a month, to Griffith Observatory's free star parties, you know that you'll chat with astronomers and fans of the night sky about nebula, galaxies, clusters, and the glittery vast canopy overhead.

But eclipses are rarer, as is the memorably named "Blood Moon." Our lunar neighbor does not adhere to our terrestrial calendar, of course, and the late-hour April 14 sky show does not coincide with a free Griffith telescope party. 

Happy news, however: The sky-loving landmark kept late hours just the same in honor of the dramatic event.

Very late hours. The eclipse lasted into the wee smalls of Tuesday, April 15, and visitors were able to wander the building and roof to admire it (the Zeiss telescope was also open). The cafe kept late hours, and there were lawn telescopes, so you could score a look-see down on the grassy expanse.

The event wrapped at 2 a.m. so it was truly a late-nighter. And, yep: There was major attendance. How can people not be tempted by something called the Blood Moon? We're Hollywoodized, after all. It sounds like the start of an exciting adventure screenplay (only it's real).

Those who preffered to participate at home? They were able to, crowd-free: Griffith streamed the action through 3:40 a.m.

The penumbral eclipse kicked off at seven minutes to 10 p.m., local time.

Blood Moon! Let's do this, earth, sun, and lunar satellite.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Wife Recalls FedEx Driver as "My Everything"]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:17:38 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/199*120/01-evans.JPG

The wife of the FedEx big-rig driver who died in a head-on crash with a tour bus, killing nine others, remembered her husband on Monday as her best friend.

Candice Otto Evans paid tribute to her husband, Tim, a lifelong resident of the Sacramento area who had married his high school sweetheart, fathered two daughters and helped coach their soccer and softball teams.

"He was my best friend, my teammate, my rock, my partner in crime, my everything," Candice wrote on Facebook. "He was my saving grace. He saved me from myself. He believed in me when I couldn't and never ever let me fail."

He was the guy who "just stopped by to say hi," she wrote, "and had a way of making everyone feel happy."

"He was perfect for me, a gift from God and was taken too soon. I don't understand ... I never will, but I do know that because of his LOVE, I will go on and be a magnificent WARRIOR.

"RIP beautiful soulmate."

The crash happened Thursday when the truck crossed a grassy median on Interstate 5 in Orland.

The truck slammed into a bus carrying 44 Los Angeles-area high school students and three chaperones.

They were on a trip to Humboldt State University in Arcata.

As family and friends mourned their loved ones, investigators continued to probe the cause of the crash.

Investigators have found no evidence that Evans ever attempted evasive action or used his brakes.

Investigators have learned that 32-year-old FedEx driver had made a delivery to a town called Weed near the Oregon border, before taking on a new load.

He was returning home to Elk Grove where his wife awaited with their two young daughters.

Officials were seeking his cellphone records to try to learn more about his last 72 hours.

They were also interviewing passengers and the coach's owner, Silverado Stages of
San Luis Obispo, in Los Angeles.

Bonnie Duran -- a suburban Seattle resident who reported that the FedEx truck was on fire as it crossed the grass median, hit the Nissan Altima in which she and her husband were passengers, then smashed into the school bus -- also shot video after the crash that has been made available to the NTSB, said National Transportation Safety Board member Mark Rosekind.

Other witnesses have contradicted Duran's account of the FedEx big rig being on fire before the crash and Rosekind said, "There is no evidence of pre-impact fire located at the crash scene, in the center median or on the highway lanes."

Investigators will study video from a CHP cruiser to find out how survivors escaped through rows of emergency windows as smoke and flames filled the coach, Rosekind said.

The driver of the bus, meanwhile, was identified as Talalelei Taiao, a 53-year-old mother of two who recently had become a grandmother.

She honked, braked and swerved to try to avoid the crash, passengers said.

Photo Credit: NBCLA.com]]>