<![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 Tue, 29 Jul 2014 22:09:43 -0700 Tue, 29 Jul 2014 22:09:43 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Heat on the Horizon: Roasted Chile Pepper Time]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 22:08:52 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/chile183701354.jpg

Leaves on the trees going crimson? Maybe they do, around early December, but not in great numbers.

People in turtleneck sweaters? Not so much, at least around Los Angeles, where a lighter cardigan trumps a bulkier pullover most days of the year.

Other traditional signs of autumn? Yeah, SoCal skips most of 'em, but there are a few telling hallmarks that speak of a new season on the way. And a major one, and majorly spicy one, is when the green chile shipments begin to arrive in the region.

That begins, in general, around early August, when the famous Hatch chile is ready for delivery and heat fans across the Southwest start their lookout for the chile-laden trucks.

They'll be arriving, via El Rey Farms, in La Puente starting on Saturday, Aug. 9. Several Saturdays are set to follow: Aug. 16 and 23, Sept. 6 and 13. The last load after that? The one expected on Sept. 15? That depends on Mother Nature, say the people behind El Rey.

C'mon, Mother Nature. Bring it.

Want to order a sack or two? You can, now, but best make some room in the freezer: They've got girth. But you'll totally be through with them by mid-October, right? After you make all of those enchiladas and chilaquiles and tamales and stews? The fiery gems go faster than we think they will, every dang year.

And we do indeed mean "fiery": mild, medium, hot, extra hot, and extra, extra hot. Oh yeah. Is this the year you go "extra, extra"?

El Rey Farms, which has land in the Hatch area, has been trucking the good stuff into Southern California since 1970. Can't get to the Land of Enchantment for your autumn heat? They'll bring it to you, or to La Puente High School, rather, come August.

So is this when autumn truly kicks off 'round these parts? Chile, that tasty harbinger of a Southern California fall.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UCLA Students Deal With Flooding on Campus]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 21:33:28 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/ucla-flooding-10.jpg

A carnivalesque atmosphere took place at UCLA on Tuesday afternoon as a 30-inch water main busted a 15-foot hole in a street, sending millions of gallons of water rushing onto campus and nearby roads.

Photos on social media showed students sitting in chest-high water in a flooded stairwell as if it was a hot tub, playing in ankle-deep water and walking with their pants rolled up as crews worked to cap the 93-year-old water pipe.

"It was crazy, cars are flooded, people are stuck here," said one student, who left a campus book store to go skimboarding on a flooded field.

The rising water prevented some students from getting to their dorms, cars and classes. Firefighters provided escorts in some of the more heavily flooded areas.

"I was knee-deep in water, I had to take my shoes off even though they still got soaked," said another student, Aaliyah Ricks."I almost slipped a couple of times."

Firefighters performed five rescue operations, the Los Angeles Fire Department said. No injuries were reported.

"Trying to get the cars out was very hectic, it took a long time," said Doug Waters, a third-year economics student. "It was not like a flash flood and it rose immediately, it was more...slowly rising."

The ruptured water main released 9 million gallons of fresh water in the first two hours, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said.

The water main was expected to be shut down slowly and gradually to prevent shock to the system and further damage.

The surrounding neighborhood was also affected.

"I have no water, and nor do my neighbors. I called a few of them to see what's going on," said Barbara Dobkin, who lives in a neighborhood just west of UCLA.

Details about what caused the water main break were not immediately clear.

<![CDATA[Teen Girl's 911 Call Helps Deputies Nab Burglars]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 19:52:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/police-lights-day-shutterstock_1430470361.jpg

A calm and quiet 14-year-old girl who called 911 from a bedroom closet helped Orange County sheriff's deputies nab two burglars who broke into her home, officials said Monday.

The teen was inside her house when two boys came inside through "several doors and windows" on July 21, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

"I think someone is in," the girl can be heard saying in the 911 call. "I'm hearing...doors and windows...I'm in a closet"

The dispatcher tells the girl that deputies are outside looking around her house.

"The police are outside?...If you go down the hall, the second door to the left...I'm just kind of scared to be honest," the teen said.

"One of the deputies is walking around your house trying to find a way to get in so he can get you out," the dispatcher responded.

"Should I go out?" she asks while she can be heard crying.

The dispatcher can be heard telling the girl a group of deputies and a police K-9 were on their way to get her.

"...Ok they're taking me outside. Should I hang up? Ok, thank you."

When deputies arrived, the burglars ran out the back door and jumped fences through the neighborhood, officials said.

Later on the 911 recording, a neighbor reports two men running onto her property.

"I'm cleaning my swimming pool, and two African-American guys come jumping over the wall," the witness said.

Police caught the two boys and arrested them in connection with residential burglary, authorities said. They were booked into Orange County Juvenile Hall.

Officials said the boys may have committed other thefts and burglaries in the area.

Anyone with additional information is asked to call the Orange County Sheriff's Department at 714-647-7060 or 714-647-7000.

Photo Credit: File Photo]]>
<![CDATA[911 Calls Reveal Panic After Venice Beach Lightning Strike]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 20:54:06 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/venice-beach-lightning-sand.jpg

Several 911 calls obtained by NBC4 Tuesday detail the frantic moments after a 20-year-old man was fatally struck by lightning at Venice Beach over the weekend.

"The lifeguard is performing CPR but we...we need an ambulance," the frantic caller said in the call. "Hurry."

The calls, released by the Los Angeles Fire Department, detail witness accounts of what happened on the beach after lightning touched down about 2:20 p.m. near the pier July 27.

Lifeguards also put in a call to dispatchers, but some confusion remained over where exactly the strike happened.

One of the 911 dispatchers could be heard asking another caller what the cross streets of the incident were.

"Driftwood and the beach, literally in the water ... I believe he was hit by lightning," the witness responded.

Nick Fagnano, 20, had stepped into the water to wash off the sand before leaving the beach when lightning struck, family members said. He was taken to Marina Del Rey Hospital where he later died, coroner’s officials said.

Fagnano was set to enter USC in the fall and was remembered by friends and family as a kind-hearted person who was "full of life."

"Wrong person to go," friend Payton Milone said. "I guess God had a different plan for him."

People who were on the sand as far as 50 yards away from the pier reported being shocked.

Thirteen people who were all in or near the water when the bolts touched down were checked out by firefighters at the scene. Eight of them were taken to hospitals, including seven adults and a 15-year-old, the LAFD said.

Photo Credit: @Venice311 via Twitter]]>
<![CDATA[Twitter Flooded With Photos After Water Main Break]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 18:45:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/217*120/ucla-flooding-9.jpg

UCLA students took to social media to share their horror, amazement and even humor as a massive water main break left their campus underwater Tuesday.

"Damn it, L.A. Don't you know California is in a drought?" Kristen Shilton tweeted.

"At least UCLA has a waterfront view?" Mike Roe joked.

"Not worried about the water still flooding out of the sinkhole. I'm worried about what everything's gonna look like after the water clears," Twitter user UCLA_Nation wrote.

"We're practically underwater right now. You can hardly even recognize parts of Campus," they added.

One athlete tweeted that the flood had provided a welcome break from a workout, tweeting, "UCLA flooding saved us from doing 300s."

Scroll down to see more of the tweets, and some of the amazing images users shared.




Live Blog Sunset Blvd. Water Main Break

<![CDATA[UCLA Water Main Break by the Numbers]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 20:56:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/217*120/ucla-flooding-9.jpg

A ruptured water main blew a 15-foot sinkhole in Sunset Boulevard near UCLA, flooding buildings on campus and stranding cars in several feet of water and mud.

30 inches: Size of water main.

75,000 gallons per minute: Amount of water flowing through gushing pipe.

13.5 million gallons: Amount of water lost as of 6:30 p.m.

8-10 Million: Number of gallons lost as of 8:30 p.m. 

Up to 30 feet: Height of geyser at its peak.

15-foot diameter: Size of sinkhole.

Nearly 3: Number of lanes sinkhole spanned.

1921: Year pipe built.

1929: Year UCLA's Westwood campus opened

93 Years: Age of pipe 

2009: Last major trunkline rupture at Coldwater Canyon break on a 62-inch pipe. 



<![CDATA[Geyser Floods UCLA Campus]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 18:05:14 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/220*120/UCLA+campus+flood+july29.JPG A water main rupture sent water rushing onto Sunset Boulevard, stranding drivers and flooding the UCLA campus on Tuesday, July 29, 2014.

Photo Credit: NewsChopper4]]>
<![CDATA[Water Main Break Floods UCLA Campus]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 22:08:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/224*120/UCLA+flood+july+29+gadi.JPG

Crews were expected to work through the night to repair a massive water main break that sent up to 10 million gallons of water gushing onto Sunset Boulevard and the University of California, Los Angeles campus Tuesday afternoon.

A 93 year old, 30-inch diameter water main ruptured and blew open a 15-foot sinkhole about 3:30 p.m. in the 10600 block of West Sunset Boulevard, officials said.

The gusher stranded cars, a bus and drivers in several feet of swiftly rising water and mud. While there were no injuries, a Los Angeles Fire Department swift-water team had to rescue five people who were stranded in the flooding.

"Unfortunately, UCLA was the sink for this water source," said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block.

Officials urged motorists to avoid driving Sunset Boulevard near the campus on Wednesday as officials make repairs.

"There's almost no chance that any portion of Sunset Boulevard around UCLA will be open," said Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz, during an evening news conference Tuesday. "So do what you can to avoid it. Find some other route."

Officials said 10 million gallons of water was lost in the gusher, equivalent to 200,000 baths, according to the US Geological Survey. The utility serves more than 500 million gallons a day to its customers throughout Los Angeles.

Water flow through the pipe when it was working was about 75,000 gallons per minute, LADWP officials said.

The break forced the shutdown of a stretch of the historic Sunset north of the campus. Firefighters checked some 200 vehicles to make sure no motorists were trapped.

Most of the damages occurred at UCLA. Two parking structures and two buildings were damaged, including UCLA's recently renovated Pauley Pavilion, the site for UCLA men's and women's basketball, volleyball and women's gymnastics. Water covered the basketball court.

Mud and water also covered the university's Drake Stadium -- a track-and-field facility -- along with the nearby intramural athletic field.

Even as firefighters urged people to stay away, the spectacle drew students to the water. Some skimboarded and swam in it. Two students sat in water up to their chests on a stairwell as if it was a hot tub.

Water cascaded down steps into an underground parking structure and pooled as high as five feet.

Students trudged through knee-deep water as they walked across campus.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is out of state on vacation, said he was "closely monitoring the situation" and in contact with DWP, police and fire officials, along with UCLA, "to make sure we are leading a closely coordinated response."

Water service was briefly interupted for some residents near the break, but water was restored quickly, DWP officials said.

The flood comes in the wake of a statewide ban on public water waste as California officials approved fines of up to $500 a day for violators earlier this month.

"Unfortunately we lost a lot of water, around 35,000 gallons a minute, which is not ideal in the worst drought in the city's history," Koretz said.

Photo Credit: Gadi Schwartz]]>
<![CDATA[Man Attacked by Squatter in Highland Home]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:14:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/siren3.jpg

A real estate investor who went to take a look at house he was thinking about buying was confronted and attacked by a squatter living in the home, officials said Tuesday.

The victim drove to a house in the 6900 block of Elm Street in Highland Monday night, and let himself into the home, which was supposed to be vacant.

As he walked around the residence, investigators said the victim was confronted by Nhieu Phung, who demanded the man’s keys. When he refused, Phung allegedly began hitting him repeatedly in the face.

The victim suffered severe injuries to his face before he was able to get away, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

Investigators believe Phung, who was recently released from prison as part of the realignment plan known as AB 109, was living in the vacant home and he was found by deputies hiding in a closet.

Phung was arrested on charges of battery and attempted carjacking and remains in custody at the West Valley Detention Center.

<![CDATA[Police Union Rallies, Demanding Higher Pay]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 14:42:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/LAPDUnion_0729.JPG

Hundreds of Los Angeles police officers filed into City Hall Tuesday, rallying to express their frustration with on-going contract negotiations.

Union leaders reached a tentative agreement with the city earlier this month, but the membership rejected the proposal.

The offer did not include a pay raise, and many officers have argued their compensation should be increased to be comparable to that of colleagues at other agencies. Also at issue is overtime pay, which for many years has been given as compensatory time off instead of cash.

"The lack of a raise was a slap in the face because there was not even an attempt to bring us up to the pay levels of the 14 other Southern California law enforcement agencies whose pay is higher than ours," Tyler Izen, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, told the City Council during its regularly scheduled meeting.

"This was not greed, this was the frustration of knowing you are among the best, yet paid among the least," Izen continued, to applause from the officers.

City leaders said they understand the officers’ exasperation, but their demands may not be fiscally possible.

"The city’s in a very difficult financial time right now," Councilman Mitch Englander said. "We’re looking at about a $250 million budget deficit going into next year perhaps. We’re looking at as we start going out of this recession that we don’t do it on the backs of Angelenos as well, but we want to make sure that we offer fair compensation, particularly to our first responders."

Union leaders said the problem is that LAPD officers are the lowest paid of any of the independent law enforcement police forces in the county, including the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The starting salary for entry-level officers without a college degree is $49,924. A rookie sheriff’s deputy with the same experience level can expect to earn $56,429 a year.

Currently, the two sides are working to negotiate a one-year contract.

<![CDATA[Teens Charged With Capital Murder in USC Student's Attack]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 20:12:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/usc+student+xinran+ji1.JPG

Four people were charged with capital murder on Tuesday in the beating death of a 24-year-old USC graduate student, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Jonathan DelCarmen, 19, Andrew Garcia, 18, Alberto Ochoa, 17, and Alejandra Guerrero, 16, are charged with one count each of murder with the special circumstance of murder during an attempted robbery, prosecutors said.

Capital murder charges make Garcia and DelCarmen eligible for the death penalty. Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek that penalty.

Ochoa and Guerrero, who were charged as adults, face life in prison without the possibility of parole, DA's officials said. They are not eligible for the death penalty because they are under 18.

Garcia, Ochoa and Guerrero are also each charged with using a dangerous weapon -- a bat -- to attack Xinran Ji, officials said.

The attack happened July 24 when Ji, an engineering graduate student, was walking home from an off-campus study group about 12:45 a.m. near 29th Street and Orchard Avenue, Los Angeles police said.

Ji was beaten and struck in the head with a bat before he walked back to his apartment in the 1200 block of West 30th Street, leaving a trail of blood, police said.

Ji's roommate found his body about 7 a.m., police said.

After the attack near USC, the suspects allegedly drove to Dockweiler Beach where they allegedly robbed a man and woman. The man managed to escape and flagged down police, officials said.

LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said during a press conference on Monday that the suspects had done "unspeakable things" that "shocked everyone in the department."

Garcia, Ochoa and Guerrero are also charged with second-degree robbery, attempted second-degree robbery and assault with a deadly weapon -- a bat -- in the second incident, DA's officials said.

USC officials said a memorial service was planned for later this week when Ji's parents arrive to the US.

In a statement that was read outside court by a family friend, the victim's parents, Songbo Ji and Jinhui Du, said they are "extremely angry about this horrific act of violence."

"The only thing in our mind is our son. We want to see him. We would be extremely grateful to the U.S. if they can help us to get visas," the man's parents said in the written statement, noting that they have been forced to cancel airline tickets several times because of delays in obtaining their visas.

The victim's parents added that they "do not want to see another incident like this" and said they "hope that USC can enhance security and guarantee the safety of USC students."

Ji's killing marked the second deadly attack on USC graduate students from China in recent years.

Ying Wu and Ming Qu -- who were also engineering students and were both 23 years old -- were shot to death April 11, 2012, as they sat in a double-parked car on a rainy night in the 2700 block of Raymond Avenue, near the USC campus.

One of two men charged in their killings pleaded guilty Feb. 5 to a pair of first-degree murder charges and admitted the special circumstance allegations of murder during the commission of a robbery and multiple murders, along with an allegation of personally using and discharging a firearm.

Bryan Barnes, then 21, was immediately sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, sparing him a potential death sentence. Co-defendant Javier Bolden, 21, is still awaiting trial in connection with the killings.

City News Service contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Xinran Ji/LinkedIn]]>
<![CDATA[Tobacco Sales Suspended at 14 LA Stores for Selling to Minors]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 13:12:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/smoke+free.png

In an effort to snuff out the sale of tobacco to minors in Los Angeles, city officials announced Tuesday that tobacco sales will be suspended at retailers who have broken the law.

LA City Attorney Mike Feuer announced 30-day tobacco sale suspensions at 14 stores which have sold tobacco products to minors twice within the last five years.

"Each of these retailers is in a half a mile of schools," Feuer said at a press conference Tuesday. "We're increasing the number of compliance checks on tobacco retailers by nearly 60 percent in the year to come."

Feuer detailed a pilot program being conducted at four middle schools where parents work with his to help identify problem retailers.

Along with the suspensions, LA City Councilmembers Mitch O'Farrell and Nury Martinez announced a motion meant to test the effectiveness of existing tobacco sale policies and enforcement procedures.

"Healthier communities is one of my top priorities," O'Farrell said in a statement. "I want to be sure we have the policy in place to protect young Angelenos and the right enforcement tools to make an impact."

California already has implemented control measures meant to keep tobacco sales to minors in check.

The Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement (STAKE) Act requires retailers to check identification for anyone who appears to be younger than 18 years old.

Additionally, the act requires signs that warn customers and workers that tobacco sales to underage children is illegal.

The penalties for selling tobacco to a minor in California range from $200 to $6,000, depending on how the case is prosecuted.

Ted Chen contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Gibbons and Glasses: A Fundraiser at San Antonio Winery]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 12:14:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/gibbonwinefundraiser.jpg

Though gibbons themselves probably take what they do and who they are quite seriously, we humans are very often tickled and definitely charmed by their famous "songs" -- they're incredibly vocal -- and their playtime and antics.

Thus the Gibbon Conservation Center of Santa Clarita gets it exactly right in the planning of its every-so-often fundraisers. Rather than doing something oh-so-serious and staid to raise awareness and money for the animal sanctuary, the center takes a lighthearted approach with its events.

Bingo? Yep, they've done it. Bowling for Gibbons? That was another lively way to give money to the small apes of the Santa Clarita Valley.

Wine-tasting? That's up next, and it has a very local twist: The Gibbon Conservation Center is taking it on the road to the San Antonio Winery downtown, LA's venerable and storied spot for sipping, tasting, and vino-rich history.

Nope, the gibbons won't be joining the wine party -- they'll chillax at home that day, back at the center -- but you can make for the winery on Sunday, Aug. 24 and lend a hand while trying wine. Music'll sound and appetizers shall be served and tours will be had and the cost? It's $48 plus a few bucks extra for a service fee.

Gibbon goodness, indeed, and there's a little more goodness to give: "15 percent of your purchase" at the winery goes to the Gibbon Conservation Center as well.

Call is a creative and satisfying way to help a beautiful animal. The gibbon's almost comical nature means its fundraisers almost require a little pizzazz, right? The bashes and the beasties are pretty simpatico here.

And you know you can tour the Santa Clarita sanctuary on the weekends? To hear that famous gibbon warbling? It's beyond memorable, so go. (No earplugs required.)

Photo Credit: Gibbon Conservation Center]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Roommate Convicted in Army Veteran's Death]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:57:14 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ramosmissing.jpg

Jurors on Tuesday convicted a Southern California man of second-degree murder in the slaying of his former roommate, an Army veteran and Cal State Fullerton student with whom prosecutors said he was desperately in love.

Kwang Choi "KC" Joy, 55, was found guilty in the death of 36-year-old Maribel Ramos, whose body was found badly decomposed near Modjeska Canyon in the Santa Ana Mountains last year.

Joy's sentencing was scheduled for Sept. 12. He faces 15 years to life in state prison.

Prosecutors said Joy got surgery to make his eyes look younger, paid to take Ramos on a cruise, and panicked when she told him to move out of their apartment when he couldn't pay the rent.

"Maribel was his life, and the opportunity for him to be with the love of his life was coming to an end," Orange County Deputy District Attorney Scott Simmons told the jury last week.

Ramos was last seen through surveillance footage, dropping off a rent check for her apartment in Orange on May 2, 2013, officials said.

She got into an argument earlier that day with Joy over rent, prosecutors said. They contended that the fighting, and Ramos' demand that Joy move out, led to her slaying.

When Ramos disappeared, Joy told NBC4 that Ramos was his "only family."

"She's my best friend, and I want her to come back," he said.

Her decomposed body was found later that month near Modjeska Canyon in the Santa Ana Mountains, prosecutors said. Her cause of death has remained unknown.

Eleven days before her disappearance, Ramos made a 911 call, saying she was "afraid" after an argument with Joy.

Earlier in the trial, Simmons showed video of Joy walking into a public library. His search history there showed that he looked up how long it takes for a human body to decay, and the location where Ramos' body was later found, prosecutors said.

Photo Credit: Orange Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Jackie Robinson's Relative Dies in South LA Fire]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 16:56:44 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/BurnedHome_0729.jpg

The brother-in-law of baseball great Jackie Robinson was found dead inside an Exposition Park home with pack rat conditions where firefighters were battling a blaze, officials said Tuesday.

Ray Isum, 90, was pulled from the burning home and later determined to be dead, according to the fire department. 

Family friend Jerome Thompson said Isum had lived in the house his entire life.

Thompson said Isum was a "beautiful person" who always let neighbors know his relation to Robinson.

The single-story home in the 1500 block of West 36th Place was in pack rat-like conditions and did not have any working smoke alarms, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

“Now when you look at the risk factors in today’s fire, you have a 90-year-old male whose living in a single family residence and they say he doesn't have mobility issues, but at 90 years old it’s not very easy for people just to run out of a house when it’s on fire," said fire department spokesman Capt. Jaime Moore.

"Now, add to that the fact that there is an excessive amount of storage - which compromised the firefighters ability to get in and anybody’s ability to get out - and on top of that you put the fact that there were no smoke alarms evident, you have a lot of risk factors in this fire," Moore said.

One firefighter was injured while battling the fire and suffered burns to his leg. His injuries are not life threatening.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. The man's death is the 16th at a residential fire since the beginning of the year.

<![CDATA[Suspect Arrested in Fatal Stabbing of Matt Barnes' Aunt]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:20:29 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/MICHAEL+WILLIAMS+BOOKING.jpg

Police in Northern California on Tuesday arrested a man suspected of killing the aunt of Los Angeles Clippers player Matt Barnes, officials said.

Michael Williams, 51, was arrested in Sacramento after a citizen tipped off police, Sacramento Police Officer Michele Gigante said.

Williams is accused of stabbing to death Matt Barnes' aunt on July 8, police said.

Barnes posted a photo on Instagram last week allegedly of Williams, begging for his fans and the public to help find him.

"Reposting this pic as I ask for your continued help to FIND THE MAN who brutally killed my aunt..." the post read.

The post continued: "Now I wanna thank ALL the people who have sent their prayers & condolences, my family & I really do appreciate the love & support from you guys!"

Sacramento police were expected to release a booking photo later Wednesday.

It was not immediately clear whether Williams had obtained a lawyer.

Photo Credit: Sacramento Police Department ]]>
<![CDATA[Burglars Target West San Fernando Valley]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 12:15:45 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/siren3.jpg

A burglary crew has targeted homes in the west San Fernando Valley in the last two weeks, police said Tuesday.

Since July 15, a number of houses in LAPD’s Topanga Division - which includes Canoga Park, West Hills, Winnetka and Woodland Hills - have been burglarized by what appears to be the same group of two to five men.

The men, believed to be between 18 and 25 years old, travel together and will often knock on the front door of the house to see if anyone is home before going to the backyard to enter the house. In a few instances, they have forced their way into the home through the front door.

Several witnesses reported seeing the suspects driving a white or silver Chevy Equinox SUV.

In a community alert, police asked residents to keep an eye out for suspicious behavior, especially in neighbor’s yards.

Anyone witnessing a burglary is asked to avoid engaging the burglars and to call 911. Anyone with information can call LAPD’s Topanga Division at 818-756-4800.

<![CDATA[Mars Rover Opportunity Sets Distance Record]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:29:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/169*120/PIA18404_Opportunity_Traverse_25mile_br.jpg

When it comes to out-of-this-world mileage figures, no vehicle can compete with Mars rover Opportunity.

The rover's odometer has reached 25.01 miles after a decade on Mars, marking an off-Earth distance record. The rover traveled about 160 feet over the weekend, enough to break the old record held by the Soviet Union's Lunokhod 2 rover.

Lunokhod 2 rover landed on Earth's moon in 1973 and drove 24.2 miles. That journey took just about five months.

Opportunity wasn't designed to cover great distances -- its original three-month mission required it to cover about 1 kilometer. That mission was completed in April 2004, but Opportunity  has continued to travel and examine ancient Martian environments over that past decade.

"This is so remarkable considering Opportunity was intended to drive about one kilometer and was never designed for distance," said Mars Exploration Rover Project Manager John Callas, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "But what is really important is not how many miles the rover has racked up, but how much exploration and discovery we have accomplished over that distance."

The next major landmark on Opportunity's Martian road trip is "Marathon Valley." The investigation site was so-named because if the rover makes it to the location, it will have traveled 26.2 miles -- the distance of a marathon.

In recognition of the Lunokhod 2 mission, the Opportunity rover team selected the name Lunokhod 2 for a crater near the site where Opportunity has been used to conduct research.

"The Lunokhod missions still stand as two signature accomplishments of what I think of as the first golden age of planetary exploration, the 1960s and '70s," said Steve Squyres of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and principal investigator for NASA's twin Mars rovers, Opportunity and Spirit. "We're in a second golden age now, and what we've tried to do on Mars with Spirit and Opportunity has been very much inspired by the accomplishments of the Lunokhod team on the moon so many years ago. It has been a real honor to follow in their historical wheel tracks."

Spirit landed at about the same time as Opportunity, but it became stuck in soft soil in May 2009 and has not been heard from since early 2010 -- long after it completed its 90-day mission.

Opportunity, Spirit and the larger rover Curiosity  -- which landed on Mars in August 2012 -- are essentially remote-controlled geology research vehicles that receive instructions from mission managers on Earth. Their missions involve exploring Mars' surface and collecting samples for researchers to study as they look for signs of past life.

Photo Credit: NASA]]>
<![CDATA[Magic: Scott Hiring Marks "Great Day" for Lakers Fans]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 13:58:55 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Hire-Byron-Scott.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers introduced former player Byron Scott Tuesday as the team's new head coach Tuesday morning during a news conference at which ex-teammates praised the organization for believing in the Southern California native.

The team announced the hiring, confirming several weekend news reports, in a post on the team's web site Monday night. Scott was formally introduced as the team's coach at a news conference Tuesday with team officials and former teammates at the Lakers' training center in El Segundo.

"This is a great day for all the former Lakers and Lakers fans all over the world," said former teammate Magic Johnson. "We're excited. We wish we could put on a uniform for you and help you."

The hiring marks an end to what General Manager Mitch Kupchak called "an extensive and thorough search" after the departure of coach Mike D'Antonio and the team's worst season since moving to Los Angeles in 1960.

"We're proud to welcome Byron back to the Lakers family as our next head coach," said Kupchak. "Byron has proven himself at the highest levels of the game as both a player and a coach in his almost 30 years of NBA experience. His leadership skills and track record for success make him the ideal person to lead this franchise forward."

Scott was the Lakers' starting guard on three championship teams in the 1980s. He takes over one of the NBA's most-storied franchises, which has been in decline since winning its 16th league title in 2010.

The Lakers' woes dropped to new lows last season when the injury-plagued team finished with the league's sixth-worst record at 27-55.

"I'm just thrilled to see my good friend and my running buddy back where he belongs," said Abdul-Jabbar. "Hopefully, this is the point where things start to turn around.

"It's great that LA takes care of its own."

Scott, the franchise's 25th head coach and a graduate of Morningside High School in Inglewood, comes back to LA after several coaching stints over 13 NBA seasons. He guided the New Jersey Nets to the NBA Finals in 2002, losing to  the Lakers, and 2003, losing to the San Antonio Spurs. He was selected as the  NBA's coach of the year for the 2007-2008 season when he was with the New  Orleans Hornets.

Scott's most recent coaching position was with the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team he coached from 2010-13.

"I am ecstatic to once again be a Laker and to have the opportunity to work alongside Mitch and the Buss family," said Scott. "I know firsthand what it takes to bring a championship to this city, and as someone who both grew up in LA and played the majority of my career here, I know how passionate and dedicated our fans are. I will give everything I have to fulfill the championship expectations that our supporters have for us, and that we have for ourselves."

Scott, 53, played 14 seasons in the NBA, 11 with the Lakers. In his final  season as a player, 1996-97, he was a teammate of Kobe Bryant, then a rookie. Bryant has expressed support for Scott.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pasadena Water Supply Shortage Plan in Effect]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 13:24:01 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/water-faucet-generic.jpg

The Pasadena City Council on Monday night declared a local  water emergency, establishing a 20-percent conservation goal and implementing  the city’s Level 1 Water Supply Shortage Plan, with mandatory water waste  restrictions effective immediately.

The Level 1 plan limits watering to three days per week in summer, one  day per week in winter and requires that leaks be repaired within 72 hours, in  addition to permanent water waste prohibitions.

Fines for repeat offenders can be up to $500 per violation for  residential customers, and up to $1,000 per violation for commercial accounts. In addition to fine, authorities also can install a water flow restrictor after the fifth violation or disconnect water service.

Pasadena Water and Power customers can report water waste by calling  (626) 744-8888 at any time or report online via the Pasadena Citizen Service  Center. Eight complaints had already been reported Tuesday morning, according to city officials.

"Pasadena already has restrictions in place and our customers have made  exemplary efforts to conserve," Pasadena Water and Power Chief Deputy General  Manager Eric Klinkner told City News Service. "However, Pasadena's water use has increased over the last few years  due to a lack of rain and the improving economy. Tonight's City Council vote  reiterates the significance of the drought and is a call to action for all of  our customers to step up their efforts to conserve our precious water  supplies."

The City Council approved Pasadena's Water Waste Prohibitions and Water  Supply Shortage Plans Ordinance in 2009. The key conservation measures in  effect for all Pasadena Water and Power water customers include:

  • Limiting outdoor watering to three days per week -- Tuesdays,  Thursdays and Saturdays -- during the summer months
  • Banning watering outdoors between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., except with a  hand-held container or hose with a shut-off nozzle
  • Banning watering during periods of rain
  • Requiring all water leaks to be fixed within 72 hours
  • Banning excessive water flow or runoff onto pavement, gutters or  ditches from watering or irrigating landscapes or vegetation of any kind
  • Banning washing down paved surfaces unless for safety or sanitation,  in which case a bucket, a hose with a shut-off nozzle, a cleaning machine that  recycles water or a low-volume/high-pressure water broom must be used
  • Prohibiting washing vehicles except by using a hand-held bucket or  similar container or hose equipped with a water shut-off nozzle


Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Caught in Rip Current After Saving Friends: Witnesses]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 08:45:05 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/paul+alimoren+drowning+victim.PNG

A Southern California teen who drowned Saturday was trying to save two friends from a dangerous rip current when he was swept out to sea, witnesses said.

Eighteen-year-old Pomona resident Paul Alimoren was on a beach trip in the state of Washington when he and seven other members of a church group were caught in a rip current while swimming in Ocean Shores around 8 p.m.

According to police, five of the members reached the shore relatively easily. Two others suffered exhaustion and possible ingestion of sea water.

Witnesses said Alimoren helped two of his friends to shore before being swept out again. He was last seen around 8:30 p.m. Saturday, about a half a mile south of where he first entered the water, police said.

Emergency crews searched the area for several hours Saturday and Sunday, but were not able to find Alimoren. As of Sunday afternoon, Alimoren was declared dead and the rescue effort has now become a recovery effort, according to the Facebook page of Philip Alimoren, Paul Alimoren’s brother.

"On behalf of my family, I thank you for your prayers and thoughts concerning this trying time," Philip Alimoren said in a Facebook post. "My brother has touched lives, and I can say that he died serving His Savior on the mission field."

As of Monday evening, the body of Paul Alimoren had not been recovered.

According to Paul Alimoren’s Facebook page, he began studying at Cal State Fullerton last August. 

Ocean Shores is approximately 130 miles from Seattle. According to Ocean Shores Police, it had been a few years since there was a drowning in the area.

Ryan Bourgard contributed to this report.


<![CDATA[Victim Identified in Fatal Koreatown Hit-and-Run]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 05:47:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ktown+hit-and-run+victim+javier+hernandez.PNG

Family members have identified the 54-year-old man who was fatally struck by a hit-and-run driver in Koreatown Monday morning.

Javier Hernandez was one three pedestrians who were hit around 6:30 a.m. at the intersection of Beverly Boulevard and Normandie Avenue after a driver ran a red light, hit two vehicles and then crashed into a group of pedestrians who were waiting at the bus stop, witnesses said.

Hernandez was killed and two others were critically injured. They remained hospitalized as of Monday night.

"He was very respectful, nice. He was never mean to anybody," Hernandez's niece Stella Martinez said. "He didn’t deserve to die like this."

According to Ulises Gaona, the two others struck by the hit-and-run driver were his aunt and uncle, who are brother and sister.

Benita Correa said the two injured victim are likely her neighbors.

"Every morning they come to take the bus here," Correa said. "They're nice people. They have families."

The driver of the white Ford F150 abandoned his vehicle at the scene and fled on foot.

He was described as a Hispanic man between 35 and 40 years old, about 5 feet 6 inches tall, with short dark hair. He was wearing a red shirt and black pants, police said.


<![CDATA[On Anniversary, Big Hopes for LA Hosting 2024 Games]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 21:55:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/lamc84rings.JPG

The torch that ignited Los Angeles' second Olympic games 30 years ago blazed again Thursday, and with it, the hope that the event would return to the City of Angels.

For Chris Robles, an Angeleno and mascot of the 1984 LA Olympics, it was a life-changing event and a moment of pride.

"It transformed me," said Robles, who donned the 80-pound "Sam the Eagle" costume in the middle of summer.

But not everyone was thrilled.

"Because of crime, because of gridlock," said David Simon, the president of the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games.

But when it was over, the surplus funds from the games helped establish LA84, which has expanded youth sports programs.

Some businessmen are looking ahead at LA hosting The Games in 2024.

"We have the infrastructure," Simon said. "We can do it."

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti is pushing for the Olympics to come back. Last week, he traveled to Colorado Springs to discuss with the U.S. Olympics Committee how America can present the strongest possible bid. If LA were to win the bid, it'd be the third time the city hosted The Games.

Boston, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. are also in the running. A decision on which city will win is not expected until early 2015, the organization said.

<![CDATA[Student: Dental School Took Bite Out of Future]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 06:21:22 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/dentalschool.JPG

A small trade school in Pasadena promised a road to a better future.

But many students feel like that road has ended in a dead end.

A student emailed NBC4 saying the school she attended on the campus had simply disappeared, before most students received credit for their coursework.

In April of 2012 friends Stella Hazerian and Jessica Paxton were walking similar paths professionally in jobs that met their bills but left both unfulfilled.

"It was either stick with retail for the next four to five years or do something with myself, do something with my life," Paxton said.

An advertisement for ICC, the International Career College was their fork-in-the-road moment.

Promising nine weeks of hands-on training to become certified dental assistants, for about $1,500, both women enrolled.

"We had about 100 or 110 students overall," said Uwe Gemba, an ICC educational consultant.

Gemba served as a supervisor. His wife, Alice, a board certified dentist, was an instructor.

Gemba said ICC was funded by the Velocity Investment Group, a Chinese-owned firm, with offices in Pasadena, and leased classroom space at near by William Carey International University.

"I had the task to build this school and that’s what I did," Gemba said. "The program was excellent. I thought, 'OK, I will be OK.

Gemba says the original plan was for ICC to move to this campus in Pomona, it was bought by the Chinese investment group that funded the trade school from the city of Pomona for $7 million in March of 2012.

By the summer of 2013, Gemba said, the investment group was having financial problems and stopped funding ICC without warning to anyone.

"It’s shocking, it’s surprising, it’s frustrating," he said.

When students showed up to get their dental assistant certifications, the school they attended was gone.

"I felt like I got ripped off."

So does Gemba.

"I’ve never had such an experience with anything and a broken promise of this kind," he said.

Gemba said he’s still owed $200,000. He said his wife had shut down her dental practice to teach at ICC and the lost income could cost them their home.

"This completely put us in deep dire straits," he said.

"I want my money back!" said Stella Hazarian.

State dental board officials said ICC was not a state-approved school. Their students aren’t eligible for tuition refund under California law.

And after attending classes twice a week, for 9 weeks, Paxton and Hazerian are trained to improve your smile, but it may be a while before they crack one themselves.

"We’ve worked so hard to get somewhere and then we don’t have anything to show for it," Paxton said.

NBC4 tried unsuccessfully to reach someone with Velocity Investment Group. Attorneys with the Securities and Exchange Commission confirm the owner of Velocity is in Hong Kong and is being sued by the SEC for allegedly running a Ponzi scheme.

<![CDATA[How to Protect Yourself From Lightning Strikes ]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 20:32:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/nb+lightning.jpg

Lightning strikes may cause immediate injury or delayed problems that can take a day or two to appear. Dr. Bruce has advice on how to protect yourself.

Injuries from lightning are caused by:

  • A direct hit or strike
  • A "splash" where the lightning bounces off an object, then hits you
  • Currents traveling through the ground
  • A shock wave traveling through the air

About 10 to 30 percent of people die from lightning strikes, but most recover. And while some people may look lifeless after a direct hit, many wake up soon after, highlighting the importance of CPR and immediate transportation to help.

Immediate injuries include:

  • Skin burns that may have the shape of flowers
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Cardiac arrest, but the heart will often start beating again on its own

A victim may look fine but have internal injuries, such as:

  • Internal burns that harm organs
  • Injuries in the ears or eyes
  • Memory problems or dizzIness, which may last for years

Dr. Bruce's prevention advice:

  • Sound travels slower than light, so when you see lightning, count the second until you hear thunder. If less than 30 seconds pass between light and sound, the lightning is close by, and you should seek shelter.
  • Avoid wet and high areas.
  • If you are near a lightning strike but feel fine, drink as many fluids as possible to prevent internal injuries.
  • If you have symptoms after seven days, see a doctor.
<![CDATA[4 Face Murder Charges in USC Student's Fatal Attack]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 08:18:37 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/usc+student+xinran+ji1.JPG

Two men and two minors face murder charges in connection with the fatal beating and robbery of a Chinese University of Southern California grad student as he walked home late at night after leaving an off-campus study group, police said Monday.

Police said 19-year-old Jonathan DelCarmen and 18-year-old Andrew Garcia, along with two minors, had gone on a crime spree and targeted Xinran Ji early Thursday morning.

Ji was hit with a blunt object, police said. No further details were made available about how he died.

LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said the alleged assailants had done "unspeakable things" that "shocked everyone in the department."

The suspects were arrested hours later in Dockweiler Beach after allegedly committing a separate robbery, Smith said. Officers who were searching for the vehicle connected the suspects with both crimes.

DelCarmen was booked on suspicion of murder, while the other three were booked on suspicion of murder, assault with a deadly weapon and robbery.

Smith said the charges would carry special circumstances of homicide during the commission of a robbery, which could make the suspects eligible for the death penalty.

The names of the two minors, a 17-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl, were not released because of their ages.

A 14-year-old girl was being questioned in Ji's death and held in connection with the Dockweiler Beach robbery, police said.

Ji, a 24-year-old electrical engineering student who loved photography, cycling and badminton, was found dead in his apartment about a block away from campus by a roommate Thursday morning. Hours earlier, he was attacked near 29th Street and Orchard Avenue. Police said he left a trail of blood.

USC officials said a memorial service was planned for later this week when Ji's parents arrived to the U.S.

"We are confident that the investigation will lead to the appropriate punishment of those who committed this heinous act," USC said in a statement. "We continue to grieve deeply as a community for Xinran, his family and his friends."

While students question the university's security, USC and LAPD have stepped up patrols in the area since the 2012 murders of two Chinese graduate students who were shot to death as they sat in their car off campus.

Photo Credit: Xinran Ji/LinkedIn]]>
<![CDATA[Feeling the Pain of Lightning Strikes, Again and Again]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 05:38:16 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/72814+Lightning.jpg

Jeryll Hadley and a friend were trying to set up a tent over a campfire along California’s Gualala River 25 years ago, their hands on the metal center pole, when lightning struck the tree next to them, throwing them about 30 feet apart.

Both still standing, they looked at each other and he said, “’I think we’ve been zapped,’” she said. “The only thing I remembered during the event was my left hand, the one on the pole, was neon blue.”

“Of course I heard the loud noise, but it just felt like an implosion, very strange,” she said. “But other than that I didn’t feel anything and we went on through our camping trip.” 

Hadley, 67, of Ukiah, California, was left with burn marks on her throat and forehead, she said. Only later did she start having terrible pains in her shoulders, short-term memory loss, and a new anger that once led her to throw a wooden salt shaker at her first husband.

“That is not me,” she said.

On Sunday, a 20-year-old man from Los Angeles, Nick Fagnano, was killed and eight others hospitalized after a rare lightning storm on the beach in Venice.

“Those people that got hit, their life is going to be much different, I hate to say,” said Sandra Hardy, another California woman who survived a lightning strike. “It isn’t a one-time event.”

Sixteen people have been killed by lightning across the United States this year, according to the National Weather Service. Six of the deaths were in Florida, two in Colorado, and the others in Texas, New Mexico, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Mississippi and Georgia.

About 10 percent of those who are struck die. Survivors, who primarily suffer from an injury to the nervous system, can have symptoms ranging from mild confusion and dizziness to long-term problems processing new information, chronic pain form nerve damage and depression.

Hadley did not start attributing her symptoms to the lightning strike until attending a conference with survivors. She is now on medication for her anger, sometimes garbles her speech and said that a doctor once compared her experience to an electric lobotomy. On the other hand, all symptoms of polycystic kidney disease that she had have disappeared, she said.

“For the most part I’m living a normal life,” she said.

Last year was a record low for lightning fatalities. Twenty-three people died, fewer than in any other year on record, data from the National Weather Service showed. That contrasted with the 432 people killed in 1943, the deadliest year.

Officials attribute the drop to a variety of factors, from better lightning protection to fewer corded phones to more awareness among emergency medical providers and advances in medical treatment. CPR and defibrillators are keeping people alive, said John Jensenius, a lightning safety specialist with the National Weather Service.

"We feel very glad that we've brought the number down but there's still many people out there that are unnecessarily either killed or injured by lightning," Jensenius said. "If they would just simply follow the simple guidelines, if you hear thunder you need to be inside, the simple saying, 'When thunder roars, go indoors,' there would be many more lives that would be saved and fewer injuries."

More than 9,200 people have been killed by lightning in the United States since 1940, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration began keeping records, NBC News reported. In the last 30 years, there have been 51 deaths on average each year.

The ground current is what kills or injures most people, Jensenius said.

"When lightning strikes a point, it doesn't disappear deep into the ground, it spreads out along the ground surface," he said.

Hardy, now 70, was driving home from California’s Mammoth Mountain in June 1998, when she got caught in a heavy rainstorm in Owens Valley.

“I could see the lightning strikes coming down on the ground, coming straight down, it was a heavy, heavy rainstorm, so I took off my watch, took off my glasses, I took the collar off my dog,” she said.

A lightning strike hit power lines at the side of the road and her car, she said.

“It just paralyzed me,” she said. “It killed the engine to the car and the car just rolled off to the side and I couldn’t really move or anything and a motorist came up behind me right away and he’s pounding on my door to open up the door.”

Hardy, who was a facilities manager for the Los Angeles County schools, could barely talk or remember how to get home and her kidneys were hurting her, she said.

“From that day on my body started to deteriorate,” she said.

Hardy, of Manhattan Beach, developed problems with her hearing, her vision, her bladder, her memory and by October of 2002, had acute symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.

Her dog survived a year, but died after developing tumors, she said.

“The myth that you’re safe in a car, it should be corrected,” she said. “It’s not going to kill you but you’re not safe.”

The conference that Hadley attended was organized by Steve Marshburn, who was himself struck in 1969 in Swansboro, North Carolina, when lightning hit the drive-through window of the bank where he worked. He was sitting inside and it broke his back, he said. Other injuries became evident over the years, he said.

At the time there was little information for lightning strike survivors, but since then he has formed a group, Lightning Strike and Electric Shock Survivors.

“There is help out there,” he said.


Photo Credit: Joey]]>
<![CDATA[OC Parents Accused of Leaving 3-Year-Old in Hot Car]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 20:58:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/hot-car-arrest-brea.jpg

A 3-year-old girl was recovering Monday after police found her inside a 104-degree car in an Orange County shopping mall parking lot one day earlier, officials said.

The toddler was found about 4:45 p.m. Sunday in a black Nissan Quest van parked outside the Brea Mall after someone saw her and called police, according to the Brea Police Department.

The girl was in the car about 15 to 20 minutes, police said.

Police told the girl to unlock the van, which she did just before they were about to break one of the windows. She was taken to a hospital and in good condition as of Monday.

"When you get somebody in that kind of heat, your body goes into a mode where it's trying to cool down and you become dehydrated very very quickly," Brea Police Lt. Bill Smyser said. "When the body becomes dehydrated, it basically starts shutting down, and that's when somebody can actually come into comatose or death."

The girl's mother, 33-year-old Ho Kim, and father, 35-year-old Tae Kim, both of Fullerton, were arrested in connection with felony child endangerment.

"Once they found out that and realized they left their child, they were in panic," Smyser said. "They were heartbroken."

The couple was released on bond, and the girl is with her relatives, Brea police said Monday.

An Orange County District Attorney's Office spokesman said Monday he did not know whether charges would be filed or if the couple has an attorney.

<![CDATA[San Miguel Island to Remain Closed for Another Year]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 19:05:05 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/222*120/San+Miguel+Island.jpg

An island off the Southern California coast could be closed for a year as the U.S. Navy investigates whether unexploded bombs remain on the the island.

The island, owned by the U.S. Department of Defense, has been closed to the public since April.

The last record of unexploded ordnance found on the island was in the 1980s, but recent discoveries of metal objects in public areas were a concern, Kimberly Gearhart, a spokeswoman for Naval Base Ventura County.

"We don’t know exactly what things were done over there and we don’t know what was cleaned up," Gearhart said. "The responsible thing to do is to asses the risk before we let the public enjoy the island."

San Miguel was in an active bomb testing range from World War II through to the 1970s, and officials are concerned that unexploded ordnance still remains on some parts of the island.

Gearhart said the island’s closure was prompted by incomplete records indicating clean-up efforts after weapons testing ended.

Officials started looking into the records after a request by the National Park Service to expand recreational opportunities on the island.

Gearhart said the Navy is currently securing funds for the first phase of risk assessment, which involves going through archival records and photography. This $400,000 effort will be funded through the Navy, Gearhart said.

This initial overview will take up to 15 months. If no live ordnance is found, Gearhart said the Navy will reopen the island for limited public use. San Miguel is part of the Channel Island chain about 70 miles west of Ventura.

If officials find dangerous material, the island could be closed for another year.

"The Navy is dedicated to the conservation of our national resources, of which the Channel Islands are a unique and critical piece," said Capt. Larry Vasquez, the base’s commanding officer, in a statement. "But the safety and wellbeing of (park service) personnel and those who visit San Miguel Island are our highest concern."

The news comes as at least two politicians are pushing for the Navy to complete their review quickly.

"The anticipated 1,500 visitors and 500 campers who visit the island each year are losing out on a cherished experience of the natural and cultural beauty unique to our National Park system," said Congresswomen Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, and Julia Brownley, D-Oak Park, sent a letter to Vasquez. "Reduced visitation to (San Miguel) is also harming our local economy by taking away business from local touring companies."

Photo Credit: Kevin Moore/National Park Service]]>
<![CDATA[Water Officials Reward Drivers in Dirty Car Challenge]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 20:33:07 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/203*120/Dirty+Car.jpg

Ventura County water officials may have a prize for drivers who skip the car wash this month.

Over the month of July, Ventura County water is hosting a dirty car contest to send a messy message about water usage across the state.

California is currently in the midst of a withering drought, resulting in state officials urging citizens to cut back on their water usage. But in May, water usage actually went up by one percent, prompting state water officials to approve fines of up to $500 a day for people who waste water on landscaping, washing vehicles and other outdoor uses.

Drivers are encouraged to post a picture of their car on Ventura Water's Facebook page, and the three vehicles with the most dirt, and the most likes, at the end of the month will be rewarded by a complete car detail.

A free car wash is also being offered to the top two dirty car pictures every week.

Water conservation officials in the county have branded July "Don’'t Wash Your Car" month to educate car owners on the way to save water while keeping your car clean.

Officials say taking a car to a professional car washing operation can save up to 100 gallons of water over home washing.

Additionally, officials say commercial car washers often recycle the water they use.

While spring rains helped increase water levels, those gains have been limited by some of the warmest summer months on record, officials said.

Ventura Mayor Cheryl Heitmann has gotten into her ride grimy, she said she hasn't washed her car since June.

"Here in Ventura this is exactly the right kind of community to do this, people get engaged in what we're doing and really want to help," she said.

The dirty car contest ends on July 30, the same night as a planned community forum to teach residents how they can better conserve.

John Cádiz Klemack contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Courtney Lindberg]]>
<![CDATA[Positive Plates: Heath's Dinnerware Exchange]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 12:22:36 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/heathhomeplate.JPG

Many a fine homegrown company is associated with California, and many of those are committed to making where we live a better place.

One such outfit? Heath Ceramics, which was founded in Sausalito by ceramist Edith Heath in 1948. The quality dishware line, which is famed for its hallmark sheen, its understated beauty, and solid heft, is still made in the Bay Area community. But you don't need to journey north to buy it: The Los Angeles showroom is located on Beverly Boulevard between Fairfax and La Brea avenues.

And come August each year, the Heath store kicks off its Home Plate Dinnerware Exchange Program in support of the Skid Row Housing Trust, the "non-profit permanent supportive housing provider in downtown LA."

How it works: Visit Heath Ceramics at any point from Aug. 1 through Aug. 31. Have dishware you'd like to donate with you -- bowls, plates, cups. Give to the store, and then get 25 percent off a corresponding piece of Heath dishware.

Donated a bowl? Get a discount on a Heath bowl. Donated a plate? Same deal.

Your donated dishes then go to the Skid Row trust, where they are given to "former homeless residents during four separate 'Dish Depot' days at the Trust's Star apartments, where residents can choose dish sets to take back to their new homes."

Over 16,000 pieces have been donated since the Home Plate exchange program started four years ago. And to celebrate the half-decade anniversary of the give-back, domestic-nice drive? Heath on Beverly will throw an opening night reception on Friday, Aug. 1.

Have a few bowls, need a few bowls, want to help out, and desire a discount on some classic California true-blue Heath? Here are the details. Want to attend the opening night? RSVP here.



Photo Credit: Heath Ceramics]]>
<![CDATA["Incredible Character": Venice Lightning Strike Victim]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 01:00:54 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/218*120/Nick+Family+Photo+7.JPG

A 20-year-old man in Southern California who died after being struck by lightning at Venice Beach Sunday afternoon is being remembered by his family as a "remarkable young man of incredible character."

Nick Fagnano had stepped into the water to wash off the sand before leaving the beach when lightning struck, family members said. He was taken to Marina Del Rey Hospital where he later died, coroner’s officials said.

"It was that one moment when he happened to be in the water at the wrong time," said Fagnano's uncle, Dennis Shanahan. "It's a huge loss for all of us."

The Los Angeles native graduated from Notre Dame High School in 2012 where he was a pitcher for the baseball team, family members said. Fagnano continued playing when he attended Santa Barbara City College.

"Everyone was proud of him, everyone thanked him, he was just the happiest kid ever," former baseball teammate and friend Payton Milone said.

"(He was) very kind-hearted, affected people," Milone said. "He did nothing wrong, said nothing wrong, he was the kid in our group of friends that always emphasized doing the good thing instead of the bad. It's just...it's unreal."

Fagnano's former baseball coach at Notre Dame said the school and team was "devastated."

"Anyone who taught or coached Nick would say he was one of the sweetest kids you could ever meet," Tim Dill said.

After finishing up some general education requirements at Santa Monica College, Fagnano was accepted to USC where he planned to attend in fall.

"Nick was a remarkable young man of incredible character," said Shanahan. "The three most important things to him in life were his faith, family and friends."

In a statement Monday, Fagnano was described as a "bright light" in the world.

"Nick was the friendliest young man you'd ever meet. He was an only child. The kind of kid every parent would want their son to grow up to be. Hard-working, ambitious, and truly kind-hearted. Always happy. Great sense of humor. He had many friends, but was also very close with his mom, dad and extended family," the statement read in part.

Shanahan, a weathercaster in Sacramento, said he saw the news reports of the fatal lightning strike before learning that the victim was a family member.

"Parents can cherish every moment they have with their kids. Just hug their kids tighter," Shanahan said. "You just never know."

Seven others were hospitalized after the lightning strike, including one with critical injuries.

A swimmer who was released from the hospital Sunday night said he doesn't remember the lightning strike, but recalls being rescued by friends from the water after suddenly losing consciousness.

"The next thing you know I was struggling to get my head back above the water," said the swimmer, who identified himself only as Paul. "Thank God they were brave enough to just jump in and not hesitate."

"I understand one person didn't make it. I just want to say that my thoughts go out to that person's family," Paul added.

Gadi Schwartz contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Fagnano Family]]>
<![CDATA[Bryman College Files for Bankruptcy, Closes Campuses]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 20:34:56 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/bryman+college+campus+crop+5.JPG

Bryman College students were demanding answers Monday after learning their school closed all of its campuses since filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy days earlier.

Bryman College Dean Christopher Finn said in a letter the college shuttered its 11 campuses and all employees lost their jobs.

"I am deeply saddened that Bryman College has closed and will be unable to continue your educational endeavor at this time," the statement read. "As stated by the (CEO) on July 25th, 2014, 'financial problems have reached a point that Biohealth College and Bryman College can no longer stay in business.'"

Students at the college's Los Angeles campus at Wilshire Boulevard crowded the hallways in confusion as Los Angeles police were seen arriving outside.

"Everybody's got questions, and we need them answered," one student shouted. "Not later, today. We need them answered today."

Some students said they received an email on Sunday telling them the school was closed.

"This is my life they're messing with," student Laura Montante said.

A mother of three studying to be a dental assistant, Karla Alvarado said she was supposed to graduate this week.

"I definitely don't want to be stuck with a federal loan, almost $10,000, if I didn't get what I went to school for," Alvarado said.

Representatives were at the campus Monday to address students about the closure, according to the statement.

"As I am aware that not every student situation is the same, we will do our best to assist everyone as needed," Finn's statement read. "All of the staff and faculty from our campus are saddened by the decision to close all Bryman College locations, but we are committed to assisting you the best we still can."

Staff members from the California Department of Consumer Affairs were also on Bryman and BioHealth college campuses Monday to help students with filling out applications for tuition recovery, getting their transcripts and financial aid documents, and providing information about how to get federal loans discharged.

"We were notified really late last week," said Cristina Valdivia with California Consumer Affairs, which oversees the private for-profit colleges. "A lot of times those credits are not transferrable."

For more information on what to do during a school closure, students can visit http://www.bppe.ca.gov/students/guide.shtml

<![CDATA[One Killed When Pickup Slams Into Pedestrians]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 13:30:09 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/koreatown+fatal+hit+and+run.jpg

Police were searching for a hit-and-run driver who ran a red light, hit two vehicles, crashed into a group of pedestrians Monday morning and killed one person in Koreatown.

The collision was reported at the intersection of Beverly Boulevard and Normandie Avenue, according to Katherine Main of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

A white Ford F150 pickup truck ran a red light and and landed on the sidewalk after hitting a gray sedan and a black BMW. One person was killed and several others were injured.

"This could happen to anybody," said Sgt. Gregory Hoyte, of the Los Angeles Police Department. "These people were just headed to work."

Fire officials said at least two other pedestrians were critically injured in the chain-reaction crash. Benita Correa said the two injured victim are likely her neighbors.

"Every morning they come to take the bus here," Correa said. "They're nice people. They have families."

Earlier reports indicated that the driver of the gray sedan was injured in the crash. Police later said she was not taken to a hospital and was at the scene of the crash.

Aerial footage showed several fire trucks at the scene.

The driver of the truck fled the area and was last seen near Beverly Boulevard and Mariposa Avenue, officials said. The other drivers remained at the scene.

He was described as a Hispanic man between 35 and 40 years old, about 5 feet 6 inches tall, with short dark hair. He was wearing a red shirt and black pants, police said.

NBC4's Oleevia Woo contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Toni Guinyard]]>
<![CDATA[Lightning Causes Outage in Manhattan Beach]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 06:09:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/manhattan+beach+power+outage+lightning.jpg

More than 1,300 customers were without power Monday morning after rare summer lightning took out a transformer in Manhattan Beach.

The transformer outage was reported just after 1:30 a.m. near Artesia and Aviation boulevards, according to Sgt. Beck of the Manhattan Beach Police Department.

The outage affected 1,366 customers. There were no reports of damage and traffic was not affected by the outage, police said.

In Hawthorne, police responded to mutliple calls about a tranformer explosion near Rosecrans Avenue up to Doty Avenue. There were no reports of damage or fire.

About 450 customers were without power after an equipment failure around 1:15 a.m., according to David Song of Edison. The outage was not a result of lightning, officials said.

The power had been restored by Tuesday morning.

Photo Credit: OnScene.TV]]>
<![CDATA[LAPD Patrol Car Runs Over, Kills Man Lying in Street]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 08:56:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/naked+man+lapd+patrol+car+crash.jpg

A Los Angeles police patrol car struck and killed a man Sunday night who was lying on his back in the street in the Jefferson Park area southwest of downtown Los Angeles.

The collision occurred near west Adams Boulevard and Buckingham Road around 10:20 p.m., according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Officers were responding to reports of a man running naked in the street.

Sirens were activated as officers searched for the man, but were turned off when he wasn't found. The man was lying flat on his back in the middle of the street when he was run over about three blocks away from where he was reportedly running around.

"Unfortunately before the officers could stop they ended up running over him and he was killed at the scene," said Det. Scott Walton. 

The man, who has not been identified, was between 40 and 60 years old, police said.

Two officers were in the patrol car at the time of the crash. Officials said they would be receiving psychological counseling due to the accident.

Streets were blocked off in the area as police investigated the crash.

<![CDATA["Like Scene Out of 'Jaws'": Chaos After Lightning Strike]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 08:05:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/venice-lightning-rescue.jpg

Beachgoers reported seeing a bright flash, hearing the sound of a loud explosion and witnessing the chaos that ensued along the coast during a fatal lightning strike in Venice on Sunday afternoon.

"It was the loudest thunder I've ever heard," said witness Joe Doro. "It was like a scene out of 'Jaws,' all the mothers were going in to grab their kids to drag them out of the water."

The lightning bolts touched down about 2:20 p.m. near the pier, the Los Angeles Fire Department said.

Eight people who were in and near the water were taken to the hospital, the LAFD tweeted, including a 20-year-old man who was later pronounced dead. Five other people were treated and released at the scene.

"You heard this crackle, this giant bolt up in the sky that I've never seen like that - and I'm from the Midwest, and we see lots of lightning," Doro said.

People who were on the sand as far as 50 yards away from the pier reported being shocked.

"I felt heat pressure on top of my head and just kind of an electric buzz through my body," said another witness.

Eric Amparan, who was playing volleyball when the lightning bolts touched down, said he saw a woman calling for her father, who had been pulled out of the water by rescuers and was apparently unconscious.

"She was crying and saying, 'Daddy, daddy, daddy,'" he said. When she overheard that her father was breathing, she said, "'Daddy, I love you,'" he added.

Alexandria Thompson, who tweets news on her Twitter account @Venice311, was at home near the beach when she inadvertently recorded the thunder.

"It actually sounded like there was debris falling," she said. "I mean it was the craziest thing I've ever heard."

Thompson headed for the beach, where county lifeguards and Los Angeles city firefighters were treating more than a dozen people.

<![CDATA[Exclusive: House, Car Torched in Fatal Lightning Storm ]]> Sun, 27 Jul 2014 19:23:02 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*213/redondo-beach-lightning-strike-1.jpg A house and car in a Redondo Beach neighborhood were damaged by lightning on Sunday, July 27, 2014, the same day that at least nine people were struck by lightning in other parts of Southern California, including a 20-year-old man at Venice Beach who later died at the hospital.

Photo Credit: Michael Brown]]>
<![CDATA[Lightning Strikes in Southland Cause Injuries]]> Sun, 27 Jul 2014 17:22:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/181*120/lightening+strike+Venice+311+4.jpg Brief periods of heavy rain and thunderstorms that touched down on areas of the Southland on Sunday, July 27, 2014, caused injuries in Venice and Avalon from lightning strikes.

Photo Credit: @Venice311]]>
<![CDATA[Venice Lightning Strike Victim ID'd]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 12:03:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/venice-beach-lightning-sand.jpg

A 20-year-old man who died in the hospital after being struck by lightning at Venice Beach on Sunday has been identified, officials said. Seven other beachgoers were also hospitalized, including one with critical injuries.

Nick Fagnano, of Los Angeles, died at Marina Del Rey Hospital, according to information provided from the hospital to the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office.

The victims were in or near the water next to the pier when the bolts touched down about 2:20 p.m., the Los Angeles Fire Department said.

"All of a sudden it was the loudest thunder I've ever heard. It was like a scene out of 'Jaws.' All the mothers were going into grab their kids to drag them out of the water," said witness Joe Doro.

Thirteen people who were all in or near the water when the bolts touched down were checked out by firefighters at the scene. Eight of them were taken to hospitals, including seven adults and a 15-year-old, the LAFD said.

A swimmer who was released from the hospital Sunday night said he doesn't remember the lightning strike, but recalls being rescued by friends from the water after suddenly losing consciousness.

"The next thing you know I was struggling to get my head back above the water," said the swimmer, who identified himself only as Paul. "Thank God they were brave enough to just jump in and not hesitate."

"I understand one person didn't make it. I just want to say that my thoughts go out to that person's family," Paul added.

A video taken at the scene shows the frantic moments when rescuers pulled another person who appeared to be unconscious out of the water.

A beachgoer who was about 50 yards away from the pier said he felt a jolt of electricity from his feet to the top of his head when the lightning struck.

"We all got up off the ground, and we were just amazed by what had happened," Eric Amparan said. "We saw some commotion by the waterline, and another person was struck by the lightning, and he was unconscious lying on the beach. The lifeguards were already there doing CPR on him."

Witnesses said the clap of thunder sounded like an explosion.

"A flash and simultaneously the loudest clap of thunder I’ve ever heard in my life, because it was so close. I thought it was like a bomb, almost," said witness Ned Walker.

On Santa Catalina Island, a 57-year-old man who was on an Avalon golf course was also struck by lightning. He was hospitalized in stable condition, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said. He was expected to survive.

In Redondo Beach, a home and car parked in its driveway in the 1600 block of Haynes Lane were damaged by a bolt of lightning. No one there was hurt.

As of 11 p.m. Sunday, hundreds of Southern California Edison customers in Redondo Beach were without power. The utility said it hopes to have power restored by 6 a.m. Monday.

The lightning strikes occurred as a thunderstorm hit the island, causing minor flooding and setting two small fires in the brushy backcountry that were quickly doused.

Monsoon conditions moving in from Arizona were expected to bring small amounts of rain -- up to a quarter-inch -- all throughout Los Angeles County through the evening, according to David Sweet, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

“There is that potential for brief heavy amounts,” Sweet said of the rain. “In most places it will be small.”

In Avalon, about two-thirds of an inch was recorded in about 30 minutes, weather officials said. One man was apparently injured in a lightning strike and minor flooding reported in the area, according to wire reports.

After a cloudy night, the sun was expected to be out again Monday. Temperatures were expected in the mid to upper 70s inland areas and 80s and 90s inland.

Weather officials said the rainfall was too localized to make any dent in the state's ongoing drought crisis.

Kate Larsen and Gadi Schwartz contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: @Venice311 via Twitter]]>
<![CDATA[Officers Beat Burglary Suspect in Surveillance Video]]> Sun, 27 Jul 2014 12:33:52 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/santa+ana+pd+video+copy.jpg

Santa Ana police officers are being accused of using excessive force after surveillance video emerged showing officers punching and using a baton on a burglary suspect who fled arrest.

Edgar Vargas Arzate, 27, fled from officers responding to a burglary call on June 20 and led police on a chase through backyards and private residences, officials said.

Police said officers caught up with Arzate around the 400 block of Sycamore Street and used force to take him into custody.

Video from a neighbor’s security cameras shows Arzate raising his hands and laying on the ground face-down after being confronted by police officers. An officer then comes to restrain the suspect, putting his knee on Arzate’s back and punching him repeatedly. Another officer is then seen hitting Arzate on the legs with what appears to be his police baton.

Arzate pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted burglary, battery on a peace officer, unlawful tampering of a vehicle and resisting a police officer, stemming from the arrest.

Police said they are conducting an internal investigation of the June 20 incident.

Court records show Arzate has prior convictions for burglary and possession of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to two years in state prison in 2006 for theft with a prior felony, buying or receiving a stolen vehicle and hit-and-run with property damage.

Photo Credit: Miriam Grajales]]>
<![CDATA[Tow Truck Driver Gunned Down After Car Repo]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 07:41:45 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/south+gate+shooting+copy.jpg

A tow truck driver who had just repossessed a car was shot and killed in the street after being chased by a vehicle across several cities in Los Angeles County early Sunday morning, sheriff's officials said.

The incident began when a shooting erupted around 3:30 a.m. near a 7-Eleven at Rosecrans and Atlantic avenues in the Compton area, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Investigators believe the tow truck driver, who was towing a white Dodger Caliber that had been repossessed, was the target in the shooting.

"We think it’s a repossession that has gone bad," said sheriff's Lt. Dave Dolson.

The driver made it to Firestone Boulevard and Rayo Avenue in South Gate before slamming into a vehicle going through the intersection, officials told NBC4.

When the tow truck driver got out of his vehicle, at least one person from a car chasing him shot at and killed him, officials said.

Witnesses reported hearing 10 to 12 rounds.

The victim was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead, Dolson said.

The tow truck driver was identified by friends as Steve Lawson of Bellflower. He was in his 40s. Friends said he was a husband and father.

Friends also said Lawson had recently started working at a new repossession company.

Authorities detained two people but it was unclear if they were connected to the case.

Homicide detectives were still on scene around 11 a.m. searching for clues of what led to the shooting.

The victim's daughter showed up at the crime scene at 7-Eleven. She said her father knew the dangers of his job.

Photo Credit: Jane Yamamoto]]>
<![CDATA[LAPD Officer Dies After Off-Duty Crash]]> Sun, 27 Jul 2014 02:21:14 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/lagenerics+lapd.jpg

A police officer who was injured in an off-duty crash earlier this week died Saturday, a Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman said.

Kathleen Talbot, a Rampart Station patrol officer, crashed early Thursday morning. Details surrounding the crash were unclear, but witnesses told radio station KHTS in Santa Clarita that Talbot's vehicle crossed the center line of Valencia Boulevard and crashed into a light pole.

Marty Siebe of Lebec witnessed the crash, and emailed KHTS to say that he "never saw her apply the brakes, and can only assume that she lost consciousness when she first began to drift."

An officer at the Rampart Station said the death was from natural causes.

"Hearts and prayers go out to the Talbot Family. You will be missed. #LAPD @LAPDRampart," Police Chief Charlie Beck tweeted Saturday.

In 2011, Talbot had been honored by LAPD for helping to save the life of an arrested person who had been trying to commit suicide inside a holding cell at the Rampart station, City News Service reported.

Police plan on releasing more information Monday.

Talbot's passing was the latest in a series of LAPD officer deaths this year.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[PM Forecast: More Sweltering Heat]]> Sat, 26 Jul 2014 21:51:28 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/140726-pm-wx_1200x675_312716355849.jpg Another day of sweltering heat is expected for parts of Southern California on Sunday. Some areas may see thunderstorms. Byron Miranda has the forecast for Saturday, July 26, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Byron Scott Coaching Lakers]]> Sat, 26 Jul 2014 22:36:05 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Hire-Byron-Scott.jpg

After three interviews, fan frustration, wild speculation and a drawn out coaching search that resulted in unbelievable rumors, the Los Angeles Lakers have reportedly agreed to terms with Byron Scott to become the team's head coach.

The deal is for four years and $17 million, ESPN Los Angeles reported.

The Lakers told NBC4 an announcement would be made when the deal was struck.

The calendar read April when Mike D’Antoni vacated the position, but the Lakers immediately made it clear that they were in no hurry to find a replacement. Nearly three months later, however, fans were losing patience and some NBA analysts were simply losing their heads.

In the week leading up to Scott being offered the Lakers’ coaching gig, ESPN’s Bill Simmons went on a national radio show and proclaimed that it was “obvious” that the Lakers were waiting around to see whether Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers would step away from that franchise’s toxic ownership situation.

Not for the first time, a baseless story about the Lakers found legs and garnered national media attention.

More likely, the Lakers’ front office maintained a consistent dialogue with Scott as it worked to fill out the Lakers’ roster. With a parade of Ed Davis, Jeremy Lin and Carlos Boozer contract signings and media presentations complete, the Lakers’ roster was all but set when news of Scott being offered the vacancy seeped through the cracks and onto the scrolling headlines at the bottom of the screen.

On Friday, ESPN was first to report that Scott and the Lakers were engaged in negotiations. The LA Daily News then reported that Scott was offered the position late Thursday night.

With the Lakers’ roster almost set—rookie Jordan Clarkson and swing man Wesley Johnson remain the only players not yet signed—the front office methodically moved forward from the roster to the coach. Scott, who was portrayed as the front runner for the months leading up to the announcement, finally received the expected phone call and appeared to move quickly to accept the position and begin negotiating terms.

Worth mentioning, ESPN's Ramona Shelburne earlier reported George Karl earned a great deal of consideration from the Lakers’ front office. Ultimately, Scott was the Lakers’ top choice, and they got their man.

Previously, Scott led the New Jersey Nets to the NBA Finals twice and received NBA Coach of the Year honors with the New Orleans Hornets. As a player, Scott was a notable member of the “Showtime” Lakers and won three championships in the 1980s.

In his final NBA season, Scott served as Kobe Bryant’s rookie mentor, and Bryant explicitly endorsed Scott when asked whether he would like to see the 53-year-old patrolling the sidelines at Staples Center.

With Scott agreeing terms, the Lakers now have a near complete roster and a head coach.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Caltrans to Build Bridge to Help Mountain Lions Mate]]> Sat, 26 Jul 2014 17:40:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/mountain+lion+722.jpg

California officials are planning to build a bridge over the 101 Freeway to help mountain lions that are looking for love in all the wrong places.

The California Department of Transportation announced on Saturday it is seeking $2 million from the federal government to construct the wildlife corridor in Agoura Hills that would allow mountain lions to cross the freeway to mate.

Biologists who have studied the cats for years said that being cut off from other mountain lions is causing in-breeding among the animals.

Caltrans' Los Angeles director Carrie Bowen said the bridge would also reduce the risk of collisions caused by wildlife trying to cross the 101.

Mountain lions have been killed crossing the 101 at Agoura Hills, most recently in October, according to City News Service.