<![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 Sat, 23 Aug 2014 04:30:17 -0700 Sat, 23 Aug 2014 04:30:17 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Former Daycare Teacher Accused of Molesting 3-Year-Old]]> Mon, 11 Aug 2014 06:17:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/thomas+burke+pulver+lewd+acts+with+child+suspect.PNG

A former daycare teacher was arrested last week for allegedly engaging in lewd acts with a 3-year-old female family member in the La Mirada area, officials said.

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department is searching for any other possible victims of 36-year-old Thomas Burke Pulver, who, in addition to being employed as a day care teacher, was also a teacher in several Orange County locations.

Pulver was charged with eight felony counts and faces up to 15 years in prison. He is being held in lieu of $2.4 million bail.

Anyone who has a child that has had contact with Pulver or has any information about Pulver should contact their local law enforcement agency. Tips can be anonymously reported by calling LA Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS.

Photo Credit: Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department]]>
<![CDATA[College Student Arrested for Alleged False Bomb Report]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 20:00:03 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/jonathan+nicks.PNG

A 21-year-old man was arrested Friday afternoon for allegedly reporting a false bomb threat that shut down a community college for hours in Rancho Cucamonga Thursday.

Chaffey College student Jonathan Nicks said he saw a white man wearing a vest with anti-government slogans in possession of a bomb in his backpack.

"I seen the wiring, the different colors and as I made contact with the individual he grabbed his backpack... and he ran," Nicks had said Thursday.

Nicks said he ran to a classroom and told a teacher, who then called law enforcement. Within minutes school police placed all buildings on lockdown, keeping all students indoors.

Numerous law enforcement personnel arrived on campus, established a command post and conducted an extensive search of school. Officials searched the campus with high powered rifles and closed off all driveways leading into and out of the school, but no evidence of a threat was found.

A police investigation revealed that Nicks had provided false information to authorities. Nicks was then arrested for making a false bomb report.

<![CDATA[Colleagues, Friends Hold Vigil For Wounded Officer]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 20:54:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/gabriel+garcia+photo+84+blue+bg.JPG

Colleagues and community members gathered with solemn prayers for a miracle Friday night at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, where San Bernardino Police Officer Gabriel Garcia was rushed before daybreak after being shot in the head and upper body while on duty.

"His father is my direct supervisor, Captain Garcia,” said Lt. Tim Crocker outside the hospital in Colton. “Gabe Garcia is an outstanding officer. A field training officer."

Gabriel Garcia,31, a Beaumont resident, and his partner, an unnamed trainee, were fired on by a gunman, who was in turn killed by the trainee in the predawn hours Friday.

Colleagues and neighbors have stayed focused on Garcia, who was gravely injured and underwent surgery.

Garcia is now in a medically induced coma, according to the San Bernardino police chief.

"I feel so bad for him. I did pray the rosary for him, hear the Mass. Offer it for him too. He's a family man. He has a small child," said neighbor Maria Benavides.

Garcia and his trainee were met with automatic weapon fire on Garner Avenue at 2 a.m., after approaching six people possibly drinking beer.

The suspected shooter was identified as 38-year-old Alex Alvarado.

"He does have a fairly significant arrest record, but he was not on probation or parole at this time,” San Bernardino Police Chief Jarod Burquan said earlier Friday.

Neighbors and family members of Alvarado were also stunned by the violence and follow-up investigations, and questioned what could have been running through the man’s mind.

"All you saw was all the flashing lights of the guns going off, heard them. Guns going off. Cops telling him ‘Get down, get down.’ Drop his weapon," said Claudia Nava, a witness.

A cousin of Alex Alvarado worried his relative was suicidal because his mother is dying, undergoing treatment at the same hospital where Garcia’s supporters held vigil Friday.

"She's there at the Arrowhead, on life support, doing bad. Like I said, I don't know what he was thinking," said Albert Salazar.

Photo Credit: San Bernardino Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Man Killed in Shootout Had "Wild Side"]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 20:54:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/AlbertAlvardoSanbernardinoshootoutAug_22_2014.JPG

The man who was killed early Friday after a shootout with San Bernardino police that left an officer in critical condition was a "good worker" but had a "wild side," the man's former employer said.

Alex Alvarado, 38, was killed at 2 a.m. in San Bernardino, police said. The shootout started after Alvarado shot and critically wounded Officer Gabriel Garcia, who was in a medically induced coma Friday night, according to the Associated Press.

Before police held a vigil outside a hospital for Gacia, hoping he would make a full recovery, a former colleague and neighbors shed light on who Alvarado was.

"He was a good worker, knew what he was doing but had a bit of a wild side in him," said Mark Davis, a mechanic who employed Alvarado to paint cars.

Alvarado had gone through some recent hardships and had been having problems with his family and wife, a neighbor said. Alvarado had an arrest for a weapons violation, DUI grand theft, and assault with a deadly weapon, according to San Bernardino Superior Court records.

Alvarado was described by neighbors as semi-homeless since he broke up with his wife. He sometimes lived in a car and sometimes with a neighbor.

"He looked like he was so depressed yesterday, like he didn't want to live," said the neighbor, who only identified herself as Liz. "He was talking about his wife taking everything from him."

Alvarado opened fire on Garcia who stopped to question him while his rookie partner questioned five others, police said.

Alvarado was shot and killed by Garcia's partner, an unidentified rookie with only months on the job.

<![CDATA[Giant Rubber Duck Moved to World Cruise Terminal]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 18:06:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/web_adrian_duck_noon_1200x675_320252995851.jpg

The six-story tall floating rubber duckie drawing crowds from all over SoCal to the Port of LA in San Pedro has been moved to the World Cruise Terminal because it’s too popular, an event organizer said Friday.

So many people wanted to see the duck and take selfies with it that event workers moved the goliath waterfowl from where it was being kept near the Vincent Thomas Bridge.

The catch: now you have to pay the general admission fee at this weekend’s Tall Ships Festival to get close enough to snap those selfies.

The 11-ton duck - the work of a Dutch artist - is the headliner for the event, and has been cruising around the world, including traveling to Asia, Australia and South America before making it’s California stop.

The festival marked the duck’s first appearance on the West Coast.

In its new location, people will have more space to view the duck, said Craig Samborksi, the executive producer for the event.

Where the duck sat before, visitors could get a picture of the event’s largest attraction without joining the festival. In its new spot, the view from the road is obstructed, so curious onlookers will likely have to enter the festival to get a decent photo.

Now, event-goers must enter the festival, walk past the other participating ships and vendors before getting to the duck.

A smaller “baby” duck was moved to the Downtown Harbor. Live entertainment and more than 50 food vendors are featured in the festival.

Samborksi said the duck will continue to make appearances after the event ends Sunday, with additional details on where and when set to be released Sunday.

<![CDATA[Search Continues for Owner of Freeway Dog]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 12:35:48 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/08-21-14_Dog-Freeway-Rescue_13.JPG

Animal control officials were working Friday to find the owner of one very lucky dog, rescued from the 710 Freeway where she was running loose during rush hour traffic.

Compassionate drivers slowed down for the wayward pitbull mix, a nail biter for Southern Californians watching the rescue Thursday night during rush hour.

Drivers worked together to slow down and help corral the dog off to the side of the roadway, where she was rescued by local resident Andie Valerio, who got out of her car to rescue the exhausted pup.

"Just to save the dog I didn't want her to get hurt," Valerio said of what she was thinking during the rescue caught on camera.

At the Southeast Area Animal Control Authority shelter in Downey, animal control officer Robby Gochicoa said he’s been pamper the pooch that amazed LA drivers.

"This is the superstar, our freeway dog," he said Friday. The as-yet-unnamed dog was still a bit scared and uncomfortable, but very sweet. Gochicoa said her caretakers won't give her a new name quite yet, to avoid confusing her if her owner turns up.

"She is a runner though," Gochicoa said. "I can feel those muscles right here. Yes, she loves to run. I took her for a run this morning."

She was picked up from Valerio’s home last night, and was wearing a purple collar, but no tags or microchip. Gochicoa said she’d had a bath and a few treats. 

Animal control is hoping her owner might have seen the news coverage her freeway run received and come to claim her, but no one had arrived by Friday afternoon.

"Hopefully today we'll get a call of someone who's seen it on the news," he said.

The dog’s owner has three more days to claim her, and after they she'll be put up for adoption.

"It'll be a much happier ending if someone claims this dog, yes," Gochicoa said. "If not, this dog is so sweet we'll for sure find her a home."

<![CDATA[2 Dead, 3 Injured in Sylmar Crash]]> Mon, 11 Aug 2014 13:21:09 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/229*120/08-22-14_Sylmar-Fatal-Crash.JPG


Two people were killed and three people injured in a crash in Sylmar Friday night, officials said.


The accident happened on San Fernando Road, under the 5 Freeway, just south of the 14 Freeway around 8 p.m.

Police said a small black car, barely recognizable after what appears to have been a high-speed collision, may have been part of a street race before the crash.

A man who lives about 50 yards from the crash site said he didn't hear any screeching or skidding before or after the crash.

“It was loud, but it was dry. It was a big bang and that was it," Hector Castro said.

Witnesses said the black car was going south, possibly racing another silver car, when it lost control and smashed into silver minivan head-on.

Two of the three people inside the black car were killed, and the third person was taken to a hospital in critical condition after being extricated from the mangled car with the Jaws of Life. One of the other two victims was thrown from the vehicle.

Police said the car only seats two people.

Two people inside the minivan are being treated for moderate injuries.

"This is not a racetrack, these are surface streets. (There are) several elements, from grease, oil and other drivers driving the opposite direction, so these individuals are driving at a high rate of speed, lose control of their vehicle, cannot make the turn and they cause an accident," LAPD Sgt. Frank Preciado said at the scene.

Castro, the neighbor, said people often drive fast down the stretch of road.

"They go fast. Hopefully the city will do something, maybe put another light over there," he said.

Police expected the area of San Fernando Road at Gentili Ranch Road to be closed until very early Saturday morning.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California

<![CDATA[Community Colleges Could Offer Four-Year Degrees]]> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 07:31:32 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/181*120/lagenerics+classroom.jpg

California community colleges could soon offer bachelor’s degrees under a new proposed law.

The state assembly voted unanimously to move the bill forward Thursday, and it could soon land on the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown.

Under the proposal, community colleges wishing to offer four-year degrees would have to be in areas where there is a "demonstrated local workforce need."

"This is landmark legislation that is a game changer for California’s higher education system and our workforce preparedness," said State Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego, who authored the bill.

"SB 850 boosts the focus of our community colleges on job training now when California faces a major skills gap in our workforce."

Block said that in about 10 years, the state will require one million more adults to have four-year degrees. Currently, the community colleges are allowed to issue associates degrees and technical certificates. Students can then transfer to a four-year school to complete their bachelor's degrees.

The University of California and California State University systems are the only public systems currently allowed to offer four-year degrees.

"In cases where businesses, healthcare organizations, and other industries now require a bachelor's degree at their entry level, it is imperative that community colleges step forward to ensure the competitiveness of our students," said San Diego Community College Chancellor Dr. Constance Carroll in a statement.

"That is a win-win proposition for our students, for employers, and for the economy."

The bill would launch a pilot program that would allow 15 campuses in California would offer one type of baccalaureate degree starting Jan. 1.

Students who enroll must complete the degree program by 2023.

Community colleges in Los Angeles, San Diego and Napa Valley support the bill.

Twenty one other states already have four-year degree programs at the community college level, according to the bill.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Drivers Racking Up Violations on OC Toll Roads]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 20:14:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/oc+toll+booth.PNG

Three months after Orange County's toll roads adopted a cash-free payment system, drivers are still confused.

They're racking up over 17,000 violations a day on the county's 51 miles of toll roads, according to the Transportation Corridor Agency.

The agency closed cash-collecting toll booths on State Routes 73, 133, 241 and 261 in May, explaining that only 13 percent of drivers were paying in cash.

Instead of stopping to pay the toll on the road, drivers can use a FasTrak transponder or sign up for one of three different kinds of payment accounts on The Toll Roads website. The agency also has a mobile app for payments, and first-time payment violations can be forgiven if the driver pays the toll online within 48 hours, officials said.

The forgiveness period has been extended to the end of September.

Officials said they are trying to educate commuters on payments through advertising and public events.

"Most of it is, 'Okay, I drove your roads, what do I need to do?'" said Michael Kramen of the Transportation Corridor Agency.

But wait times at the agency's call-swamped customer service center are as long as 20 minutes and drivers are getting billed for the violations.

"They're not answering the phones," said customer Randy McHenry. "They say, 'We have a high call volume and we can't help you.'"

Driver Sarah Acosta got a bill for driving on State Route 241, which she said she doesn't remember doing. She was charged $60.49 for the violation and $2.99 for the original toll fee.

"It's a bit of a difference," Acosta said.

Acosta's violation was her second one. She pleaded her case to officials and said she got her fine reduced to $17.99 after agreeing to set up a FasTrak account.

Customer Harry Layman uses a FasTrak transponder and said cashless payments can be confusing.

"There's no people at the toll booths so if you're driving around and you're new to the area, I can understand that, but people who routinely break the rules, I don't understand that," Layman said. 

<![CDATA[Possible Data Breach at Cedars-Sinai]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 17:56:59 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/CR+Laptops+081114.jpg

Cedars-Sinai officials warned patients of possible data breach after a hospital-issued laptop computer was stolen.

Officials said in a press release that there was no indication that the laptop contained complete medical or billing records of any patient, but officials were alerting patients as a precaution.

"Cedars-Sinai takes the security of our patients' health information very seriously, and has multiple security safeguards in place to protect health information," said David Blake, Cedars-Sinai's chief privacy officer. "Even a potential data security incident on a single computer, as has occurred here, is not acceptable to us. We apologize to the people affected by this incident, and have taken actions to prevent any re-occurrence."

The laptop, which was used by the employee for troubleshooting software used for clinical laboratory reporting, was stolen along with personal items of the employee in a June 23 burglary at the employee's home.

The employee's duties included being available outside of normal business hours to troubleshoot software problems as they occurred, which is why the laptop was at the home.

The employee immediately notified Cedars-Sinai and the local police of the theft. The local police investigation is ongoing, no arrests have been made, and the laptop has not been recovered.

Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[Rip Tides, Large Waves Hit SoCal Beaches]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 17:24:30 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/lifeguardpic.JPG

A tropical storm is whipping up waters along the Pacific Ocean in Southern California and lifeguards were urging beachgoers to be careful when entering the surf as as dangerous riptides and large waves hit the coast.

Forecasters predicted waves up to 7 feet along some south facing beaches over the weekend in northern Los Angeles. On Friday, waves got up to head high in some areas.

It's good for surfers.

"I'm going to pray for surf tonight," surfer Mike Ventura said.

Others, not so much.

"I don't plan on going in the water," said Pauline Jefson, who's visiting from Minnesota.

Surf instructor Rudy Andrews knows that the southern swells churning up the high surf will also create powerful rip currents.

"Once you get in the water and the current takes you down, you you gotta get out," Andrews said.

Lifeguards in LA County have made over 7,000 rescues beaches since Memorial Day weekend, most were swimmers caught in rip currents.

"We really encourage everyone to swim near one of our open lifeguard towers," said Kyle Daniels, an LA County lifeguard.

Lifeguards advise that if you get caught in a rip current, don't panic or fight the current. Float out with it and swim parallel to the beach before swimming to shore.

<![CDATA[Firefighters Battle Brush Fire in Encino]]> Thu, 15 May 2014 13:49:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/224*120/08-22-14_Brush-Fire-Sepulveda.JPG

More than 100 firefighters battled a brush fire near the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area Friday afternoon.

The Los Angeles Fire Department fought the blaze both on the ground and in the air, dropping water on burning heavy brush, officials said. 

Aerial footage showed large plumes of smoke near the intersection of the 101 and 405 freeways.

The California Highway Patrol closed the Burbank Boulevard offramps from the northbound and southbound 405 Freeway for several hours.

Roughly eight to 10 acres burned, with two primary locations north and south of Burbank Boulevard near Woodley Avenue, LAFD said in an alert.

No structures were threatened and no injuries were been reported. The fire was reported just before 4 p.m. and was knocked down about 6:30 p.m.

<![CDATA[Mosquitoes Test Positive For West Nile Near Murrieta]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 17:24:30 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/183*120/west+nile.PNG

Mosquitoes from several Inland Empire areas have tested positive for the West Nile Virus, officials said Friday.

Insects collected from Murrieta, Temecula and Hemet tested positive for the virus, the Riverside County Department of Environmental Health said in a statement.

It is not unusual for mosquitoes in Riverside County to test positive for the virus during the summer months, but the agency urged area residents to take precautions against contact with the insects and to take steps to minimize conditions that allow them to breed.

The agency will step-up control and surveillance efforts to combat any potential infections.

Residents are urged to:

  • Use insect repellent or lemon eucalyptus oil on children under the age of three to deter mosquito bites.
  • Be aware and avoid outdoor activities during peak mosquito hours, which are generally dawn and dusk.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants to protect skin when outdoors.
  • Drain standing water, empty unused flower pots and pools.
  • Keep tight-fitting screens closed.

To report a mosquito problem in the area, call Riverside County Vector Control at 951-766-9454. 

<![CDATA[Firefighters Battle Encino Brush Fire]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 17:56:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/encino+fire+1.PNG More than 100 firefighters were battling a brush fire near the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area on Friday, Aug. 22, 2014.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Kidnapped Boyle Heights Toddler Found in Texas]]> Tue, 17 Jun 2014 11:42:33 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Edwin-Vargas-aa.jpg

A 2-year-old Boyle Heights boy who was kidnapped by his non-custodial father in May, triggering a statewide Amber Alert, has been found, officials said Friday.

Abraham Vargas, the father of Edwin Vargas, was arrested Thursday night in Texas and is being held in lieu of $1 million bail.

Edwin Vargas is currently in protective custody with the Texas Department of Children’s Services.

Abraham Vargas, 26, allegedly took the boy from the toddler’s mother, his ex-girlfriend, police said when he was kidnapped May 23.

The kidnapping happened while the mother was loading her son into her car in front of her apartment complex around 6:30 a.m. The boy’s mother had a restraining order against Abraham Vargas at the time of the abduction.

Vargas allegedly "came out of nowhere" and pushed his former girlfriend to the ground, officials said at the time.

Vargas had threatened several times before to take the little boy to Veracruz, Mexico after the couple broke up, the toddler's mother told police.

In June, a $50,000 reward was offered by the City of Los Angeles for the safe return of the boy.

During a press conference to announce the reward, LAPD officials also said Vargas was under investigation for possibly unlawful sex with a minor in a separate incident.

<![CDATA[Family of Critically Wounded Officer Prays for His Survival]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 20:33:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/gabriel+garcia+photo+84+blue+bg.JPG

The family of an officer shot and critically wounded early Friday held out hope that their loved one would pull through as he fights for his life in an intensive care unit at a San Bernardino hospital.

Officer Gabriel Garcia was in surgery for several hours this morning. He was shot during an encounter with a gunman who was subsequently killed by Garcia's partner at 2 a.m. in the city of San Bernardino.

Paramedics rushed Garcia, 31, to the emergency room at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton. He was taken into surgery for multiple life threatening bullet wounds to the upper body.

For those who know him best, including his brothers and sisters in blue, it is hard to even speak.

Garcia, who has been on the department for more than six years, was described as an exceptional member of the police force whose father is a respected captain.

The training officer is so trusted that he works nights in the most dangerous areas of the city.

San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said he is an outstanding young man.

"He has served this community proudly and he'll serve this community very well throughout his career," Burguan said.

In neighboring Beaumont, officers from the local police department guard his home as a sign of respect and security.

Neighbors say Garcia is a divorced dad who loves his little daughter more than anything.

They also say despite being a quiet neighbor who mostly keeps to himself, he has protected his neighborhood with the same passion he displays while wearing a badge.

"He's always looking out," said neighbor Elma, who gave no last name. "If anything goes wrong, he's always giving someone a call."

Delia Quintaniloa said she, too, holds out hope for a speedy recovery.

"Our hearts go out to the law enforcement community, the people that serve and protect us everyday," she said. "And especially, for him, for a quick recovery for him and his family."

View Full Story

Photo Credit: San Bernardino Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Dunkin' Donuts Opening: Santa Monica, You're Up First (and Soon)]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 18:05:26 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/dunkin11.jpg

The future is often described as "hazy." We can't see into it, we don't know what's to come, and we all need to cool our heels on the guessing/speculating/prognosticating.

But the future, at least Southern California's future, could definitely be described these days as "glaze-y," as in a delicious tasty glaze atop the perfect cake donut. The highly anticipated Dunkin' Donut "full expression" locations are on their way -- four in all -- with the first to open ahead of 2015, which was an early prediction from the Massachusetts-based company.

But dunk this official announcement in your coffee, SoCalers: The first regional shop throws the doors open at 5 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 2 at 1132 Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica. There shall ribbon-cutting. There shall be giveaways. The first 100 people to queue up get a special tote bag. Mascots Cuppy and Sprinkles'll be in the house.

And the first person in line? Hoo boy, prepare yourself: They'll nab free coffee for one year.

Seriously, is someone already lining up? Sunscreen and comfy chair and all? People are devoted to that brew, for sure.

"The new Santa Monica franchise will be operated by Gary Haar, an experienced Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins operator for more than 10 years, and his business partner Steve Silverstein," says the company.

Dunkin' Donuts made the official announcement on Friday, Aug. 22, which'll give enthusiasts, the curious, and locally based New Englanders a week-and-a-half to get stoked for the kremes, excited for jelly donuts, mad for muffins.

But people are pretty dang excited already. The doughnut-a-terium, which jumped into the pastry-making business back in 1950, has long been one of the food "gets" for the Golden State.

Fans wanted it to head west something fierce.

So hang tight, fans, because the future is glaze-y: Three more SoCal shops shall follow Santa Monica, in the months ahead, including outposts in Whittier, Downey, and Long Beach. Oh, and one in Modesto, too, so hello, friends up the 99.

Munchkins for the holidays, right? Who's with us on that? Donut devotees, near and far? Yep. The day of Dunkin' has arrived, SoCal.

<![CDATA[San Bernardino Marijuana Seizures]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 22:08:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/marijuana+grow+1.PNG Authorities in San Bernardino County on Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 and Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014 seized more than 5,500 marijuana plants at nine illegal grow operations.

Photo Credit: San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department]]>
<![CDATA[Thousands of Pot Plants Seized]]> Sat, 16 Aug 2014 21:31:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/marijuana+grow+1.PNG

More than 5,500 marijuana plants were seized and 14 people were arrested in connection with an illegal pot farm, officials said.

The seizure came from busts on Wednesday and Thursday from nine residences in unincorporated areas across the San Bernardino County, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department officials said.

Authorities seized up to 5,557 marijuana plants, about 170 pounds of processed marijuana, four firearms and a "large quantity" of Hydrocodone pills, which comes from codeine, the Sheriff's Department said in a statement.

The residences searched were in Joshua Tree, Landers, Bloomington and Helendale. They all had large-scale outdoor pot farms, officials said.

Some of the people arrested used fake medical marijuana recommendations as a front for their illegal cultivations, but the operations were "strictly for-profit," the Sheriff's Department said.

<![CDATA[Missing Marine Wife Murder Suspect to be Extradited]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 07:43:36 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Christopher_Lee_Musgot_0816.JPG

The man charged with the murder of 19-year-old Marine wife Erin Corwin has waived extradition from Alaska and will be returned to Southern California for his court hearings, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said Thursday.

Former Marine Cpl. Christopher Lee, 24, will be brought to San Bernardino County in the next couple of days, the sheriff's department said in a Tweet.

Lee is accused of murdering Corwin, his then-neighbor in Twentynine Palms, and disposing of her body in a 14-story abandoned mine shaft in the desert near Joshua Tree National Park, officials said.

He was arrested Sunday in Anchorage, Alaska a day after Corwin's body was found, ending a nearly eight-week search for the woman in 300 acres of nearby desert.

Lee initially did not waive his right to an extradition hearing, which could have delayed his return by four to six weeks, officials said.

Corwin and Lee, who is married, were possibly having an affair that began February, and she may have been three months pregnant with his child when she disappeared on June 28, both Corwin's friend and Lee's neighbor told investigators, according to a search warrant.

Corwin told her husband, Marine Cpl. Jonathan Corwin, she was going to Joshua Tree National Park to look for hiking trails. He reported her missing the next day.

Two days after she disappeared, her car was found in Twentynine Palms.

The cause of Corwin's death has not been released but an arrest warrant released Tuesday said .22-caliber "fired cartridge casings and pieces of rebar" were found at the scene.

They are similar to casings found in Lee's vehicle and residence, according to the warrant. 

<![CDATA[Experts Show Police Departments How to Diversify Ranks]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 06:36:05 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ferguson+courthouse+rogers.jpg

With the killing of an unarmed, black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, putting police departments under scrutiny, an expert on racial profiling says that the race of police officers tends not to make a difference on whether they use force.

“Blue is the most powerful color in terms of determining behavior," says Phillip Atiba Goff, a co-founder of the Center of Policing Equity at the University of California, Los Angeles, and an assistant professor of social psychology at the school.

Where race matters most is in the hierarchy of the force, among the officers who are in positions to make decisions, and to the community being policed, he said. Residents want to see themselves represented in the officers who make up their department.

The violence that erupted in Ferguson after the shooting of Michael Brown by a white police officer has drawn attention to the racial make-up of police departments versus the communities they serve and ways to change the imbalance. The police force of Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, is more than 90 percent white in a community that is 67 percent black.

Goff’s group was brought in to look at racial profiling and other issues in the St. Louis County police department in the spring — one of about 20 law enforcement agencies it has worked with. Among the others are some that have had well publicized troubles, including the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, whose deputies have twice accidentally killed innocent men in the last four months, and the Oakland Police Department, which has been under a federal court order to make reforms.

Richard Rosenfeld, a professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, said Ferguson did not fit the profile of a community where tensions, particularly between young black men and the police, would boil over into violence. It has pockets of economic disadvantage but also middle- and upper-income residents, and in fact has benefited from recent growth in the northern part of St. Louis County, he said.

There are "hundreds and hundreds" of communities like Ferguson across the country, Rosenfeld said.

His recommendation for those communities: get to work diversifying the police force immediately.

“That’s not a cure-all but is certainly a necessary first step to ease some of those tensions,” he said.

Growing Poverty in Suburbs

Recent economic progress aside, Ferguson’s unemployment rate rose from less than 5 percent in 2000 to more than 13 percent by 2012. Its poor population doubled, with about one in four living below the federal poverty line, according to Elizabeth Kneebone of the Brookings Institution. More poor residents now live in suburbs like Ferguson than in big cities or rural areas, a significant shift compared to 2000 when urban poor still outnumbered suburban poor, Kneebone noted in a research brief published in July.

“Suburbs often haven't developed the same infrastructure or safety net supports that cities have built up over decades for dealing with these issues,” she said. That fragmentation means many suburbs lack the staff and resources necessary to tackle the problem.

Goff's group tells police departments they have to devote resources to creating a more representative force, a step that can be difficult in a time of shrinking budgets.

"This is not something that’s going to happen overnight and it’s not something that’s just going to happen because you want it to," he said. "You’re going to have to devote money."  

Plus, he said, it is hard for police departments to attract candidates from communities with which police have had poor relations. Even after officers have been hired, retention can be difficult and burnout rates are higher.

“If you and your community feel there’s an organization that is set up to oppress you and your community, it’s very difficult for you then to decide, 'I’m going to feel good about going to work for them,'” he said.

Departments also have to consider how they are policing communities, he said. People tend to comply with the law when they see law enforcement officers behaving fairly and when they feel safe. If a community feels that it has been occupied, not policed, its resistance intensifies, he said.

A 1999 report, "Use of Force by Police," by the National Institute of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Statistics noted that the use of force appears to be unrelated to any officer's personal characteristics, such as age, gender and ethnicity. But the report cautioned that additional research was needed.

“If you’re involved in a use-of-force incident with an officer, it doesn’t make you feel any better if the person who is hitting you with a night stick is the same color as you,” Goff said.

A Problem of Trust

Victor Torres, a civil rights and criminal defense lawyer in San Diego, said he regularly gets calls from people who accuse police officers of misbehavior, from lying to physical assault.

“I think the problem is trust and when the police officers treat everyone like they’re at war with them, there’s not much trust,” said Torres, a director of the San Diego La Raza Lawyers Association. “You have to actually speak to the people when there’s not some crisis going on. You actually have to ask people questions instead of accusing them.”

To address racial profiling, San Diego's police chief is appearing in a public service announcement to ask possible victims to report problems. Torres applauded the video, but said that many people in the community believe they are discouraged from making complaints.

“It’s great that she’s making an effort but she needs to be accountable and let us know what happens to the reports,” he said.

Goff's group has worked with police departments to determine whether they are engaging in racial profiling, improve training, help commanders identify implicit bias and address issues of race and gender.

It is also creating the first national database of police behavior, including pedestrian stops, vehicle stops and use of force.

“What we’re trying to do is create a broader, big data approach so that there’s evidence-based approaches to social justice,” he said.

Photo Credit: Phil Rogers/NBCChicago.com]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Puig to Play on MLB All-Star Team in Japan]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 10:30:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/173*120/yp+face.jpg

Yasiel Puig might be brushing up on how to use chopsticks.

The Dodgers outfielder is among the first group of Major League all-stars named to the team that will travel to Japan for a five-game series against Japan’s National Team - "Samurai Japan" - in November.

He’ll be joined by Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners, Adam Jones from the Baltimore Orioles, and Albert Pujols of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Others will be named later, and I suspect a certain shaggy-haired, Cy-Young winning, Dodgers left-hander will be added to the squad. But, we'll have to wait and see. 

The team will be led by Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington.

The series started in 1908, and this year will mark the 36th time that big leaguers have traveled to Japan for exhibition games.

The last time MLB sent a team of all-stars was in 2006, which was also the first time the five-game format was used. The U.S. went 5-0. Shocker.

MLB also announced the schedule:

Tuesday, Nov. 11:       Exhibition Game vs. Hanshin Tigers/Yomiuri Giants at Koshien
Wednesday, Nov. 12:  Game #1 at Kyocera Dome, Osaka
Thursday, Nov. 13:      Travel Day
Friday, Nov. 14:          Game #2 at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo
Saturday, Nov. 15:      Game #3 at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo
Sunday, Nov. 16:        Game #4 at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo
Monday, Nov. 17:        Travel Day
Tuesday, Nov. 18:       Game #5 at Sapporo Dome, Sapporo
Wednesday, Nov. 19:  Travel Day
Thursday, Nov. 20:      Exhibition Game vs Team Japan, Okinawa

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Marine Animal Medical: Visit the Aquarium Care Center]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 10:22:52 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/molinaanimalcareaquarium.JPG

If you can recall visiting zoos and aquariums a few decades back, you likely remember a distinct dividing line between the animals you saw splashing in pools or snoozing on boulders and the care and feeding of those animals, those necessary daily duties that happened off-stage and tucked well behind-the-scenes.

That's changed, and is changing. Many "back walls" have been raised in a plethora of public-facing institutions, and animal parks are among the ones at the forefront of this movement. Look to the Walnut Creek Wildlife Hospital, which gives summer visitors a view to beastie check-ups, and the kitchen at the Santa Barbara Zoo, which provides visitors a peek at the residents' meals for the day.

The Molina Animal Care Center at the Aquarium of the Pacific is another such "open-wall" area. The center "provides enhanced healthcare to our animals as well as opportunities for our guests to view veterinary medicine in action." Quarantine areas, high-powered microscopes, x-ray technology, and other medical necessities fill out the 14,000-square-foot space, which debuted in 2010.

Interactive kiosks help visitors get up-to-speed on how marine animals are tended to in the center while a staffer explains a live procedure once every day. There are viewing windows, which may give you a view to "an otter getting its teeth cleaned."

That? We want to see. Like, a lot.

And just ahead for the Aquarium? The 5K Run/Walk on Saturday, Sept. 6 is a biggie, and takes in some of the pretty coastline around the institution. But, before that, two baby penguins, born behind-the-scenes, will make their waddly debut at the June Keyes Penguin Habitat on Wednesday, Aug. 27.

Photo Credit: Aquarium of the Pacific]]>
<![CDATA[Johnny Ramone Tribute: Hollywood Forever Ceremony]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 10:31:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/jr51996175.jpg

Hollywood Forever, that storied final resting place just north of Paramount Studios, is very much associated with the silver screen stars of yore, actors who glittered in movie houses nearly a century ago.

But the Santa Monica Boulevard landmark is not simply about remembering Rudolph Valentino and other luminaries of early cinema: A statue of one of music's biggest legends stands with his guitar in the peaceful place, a robust and vibrant reminder of the life of Johnny Ramone.

The punk rock icon succumbed to prostate cancer in September 2004, and while fans of The Ramones regularly visit his gravesite to flags, flowers, bottles of beer, and other tokens, a large-scale tribute is ahead, and just ahead of the 10th anniversary of his passing.

Linda Ramone remembers her husband alongside musician-filmmaker Rob Zombie, comedian Fred Armisen, Steve Jones of The Sex Pistols, Robby Krieger of The Doors, MC5's Wayne Kramer, and rocker Duff McKagan. The artists, and others, will join the Sunday, Aug. 24 tribute, which begins at 5 p.m.

A screening of Mr. Zombie's "The Devils Rejects" is part of the evening's memory-filled, art-celebratory evening. The musicians in attendance are expected to play some classic Ramones tunes, too, inside the property's Masonic Lodge (a simulcast will be screened for viewers in the cemetery).

Tickets? They're  $20 to $75. The beneficiary? The Johnny Ramone Foundation and Dr. David Agus of the USC Keck School of Medicine.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[New CA Bill Allows Dogs at Restaurants]]> Fri, 15 Aug 2014 01:45:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/051213+Cupcake+dog.jpg

Sit. Stay. Dine.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Thursday allowing dogs to dine with owners if seated in an outdoor section of a restaurant.

"It will soon be legal to take your beagle with you to dinner," Mariko Yamada, the assembly member who championed the bill, said in a statement. "I wish everyone ‘bone-appétit’."

But those who aren’t as dog-friendly don’t have to worry – the law doesn’t force restaurant owners to allow dogs in establishments.

Owners have discretion on whether a dog is allowed to dine alfresco, according to the bill.

"Amidst all the horrific and depressing news around us, I hope this bill helps make people a little happier, and businesses who wish to accommodate diners with dogs safe from being unnecessarily cited," Yamada wrote on her Facebook page.

The restaurant also must have an outdoor entrance that doesn’t require the pet to walk through the restaurant to get to the outdoor area.

Dogs will have to be on a leash and well behaved, and they can’t sit on chairs or benches.

The bill also says that wait staff cannot have direct contact with a dog or pet them, and if they do, they must sanitize their hands.

Pets cannot be in the same area where food is being prepared.

Though the bill applies to restaurants statewide, cities can still pass local regulations that ban pooches from restaurant patios.

"We can't wait to legally come to dinner with our human friends," a Facebook group supporting AB 1965 wrote.

The law goes into effect Jan. 1.

Sutter Brown, the first dog of California and Gov. Brown’s pooch, was not available for comment.

<![CDATA[Man Shot, Robbed of Bike at Metro Station]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 16:39:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/metro+gold+line+shooting+indiana+station.PNG

A man was shot and robbed of his bike at a Metro station in East LA just after midnight Friday morning.

The man, believed to be in his 30s, was at the Indiana Gold Line Station near Indiana Street and 2nd Street when a man and woman approached him and attempted to steal his beach cruiser, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The victim was shot and the man and woman fled the scene with the victim’s bicycle.

The victim was taken to the hospital. His condition is unknown.

All Metro Gold Line trains were shut down for investigation, but have since reopened.

Surveillance footage from the station is being reviewed.

<![CDATA["Exemplary" Officer in Critical Condition After Shootout]]> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 00:11:44 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/gabriel+garcia+photo+84+blue+bg.JPG

A San Bernardino police officer was in critical condition "fighting for his life" on Friday after being shot by a man who was subsequently killed by the officer's trainee partner in a gun battle, officials said.

Gabriel Garcia, 31, the son of a San Bernardino police captain, was out of emergency surgery Friday morning, with his family at his side, San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said.

"Not a lot of positive news on his prognosis," Burguan said.

Garcia was described as "exemplary in every sense of the word." Garcia, who has six years on the force, was recognized for his work with the San Bernardino Graffiti Task Force.

"Gabe is an outstanding officer, a great team member and a great man," Burguan said. "He has always displayed extreme professionalism and a great attitude towards his job, earning the utmost respect from fellow officers and the department as a whole."

Garcia was hit by bullets after 2 a.m. as he and his trainee partner pulled up to a group of about six people standing near a home in the 1900 block of North Garner Street.

The group had been at a nightclub and had been drinking alcohol, police said.

"Almost immediately, there were gunshots that rang out, and the first officer went down," police said in a statement.

The unidentified trainee officer, who had only been on patrol for about two months, got into a "protracted" gunbattle, the Police Chief said.

The suspected gunman, identified as Alex Alvarado, 38, was killed.

School police officers were the first ones to respond, but did not fire their weapons, police said.

Garcia was rushed to a hospital where he underwent emergency surgery. Garcia suffered two gunshot wounds to the upper body.

Burguan described Garcia as a very good police officer, who is well-respected by his peers and his supervisors.

"Has a great reputation for working hard and does very good police work," Jarrod said.

Police took five people into custody for questioning, despite earlier reports that six people were in custody.

Jonathan Contreras, 20, of San Bernardino, was arrested on suspicion of possession of an assault rifle and a sawed-off rifle, police said.

Orlando Cruz, 24, was arrested on unrelated traffic warrants. A third man was arrested on suspicion of possession of methamphetamine.

Two women were questioned and released.

Police said they recovered from the scene a revolver and an assault rifle with high-capacity magazines attached to it.

It is unclear which weapon was used to wound Garcia.

It is also unclear whether Garcia had fired any shots before being struck by gunfire.

It appeared there were at least 65 shell casings at the scene.

"We obviously had a pretty extensive scene. There were a lot of rounds at the scene," Burguan said.

Kevin LaBeach and Andrew Lopez contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: San Bernardino Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Suspect Tricks Cops, Claimed He Was Former STP Singer]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 08:39:07 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/scottweiland+-+14.jpg

A shoplifting suspect who identified himself as former Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland managed to mislead law enforcement for nearly four weeks and will likely face additional charges after police discovered he had lied about his identity.

Beverly Hills Police arrested a man at a Rite Aid drugstore on the 400 block of North Bedford Drive on July 26 after receiving a call about shoplifting. He identified himself as Weiland and was taken into custody on drug possession and burglary charges.

Police discovered Thursday that the man was not the former Stone Temple Pilot through an FBI fingerprint return. The man was then identified as 44-year-old Jason Michael Hurley. 

Weiland posted a video on his Facebook page Thursday in response to an article he read on TMZ that day that said he had been in jail for weeks.

"I just got done reading something interesting. A nice piece of fiction from TMZ saying I was in jail and have been. I’ve actually been touring, writing and recording my new album," Weiland said.

Weiland told his fans not to worry and that the report was a lie.

"TMZ, you’ll be hearing from my attorneys," Weiland said.

Police have requested that Hurley also be charged with furnishing false information to a peace officer.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California

Photo Credit: Alex Matthews]]>
<![CDATA[Bill Aims to Cut Red Tape for Mobile Retailers]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 13:15:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/259*120/08-21-16_Mobile-Retailers.JPG

Trying to make it as a local entrepreneur can already tough in Los Angeles, but for some who have taken their businesses on the road, it has become even more of a challenge.

A new proposal could let mobile vendors and retailers sell their goods without hassles.

Going from one city to another sometimes means even having to get a business license just for a particular location. So events like neighborhood and artisan markets are almost the only way mobile retailers who don’t sell food can get their products out there

“It really expands our audience because we are able to reach people who don't just shop downtown,” said Lindsey Vaniman of The Library Store.

The company’s quirky and mostly educational and all of these products are sold from a bright blue truck at those types of markets.

The Library Store is the mobile arm of The Library Foundation, a brick and mortar shop. Profits from sales go to LA City libraries.That is, if they aren’t caught up in red tape.

“We can't park on the streets and sell out of the trucks, so we have to be in a parking lot on private property or at an event,” said Christine Romero, also with The Library Store.

Unlike their food truck counterparts, there is no standard regulation for mobile retailers. A proposed state bill would allow for one rule to license and regulate these types of vendors and pop up retail shops across California.

For working mom Paula Carlotto who runs Alegria Bazaar, the legal changes would remove costly hurdles and give her more authority over her own business.

“You can reach more different places,” she said.

Vaniman, of The Library Store, seconded her opinion.

“It would be great to show up at a lunch time food truck meet up and sell for lunch,” she said.

Bill sponsors have admitted there has been some concern about having no flexibility under one regulation. So a consultant would may be hired to come up with a template cities can agree to.

The bill goes to the state senate for a vote next week.

<![CDATA[Strange Blue Creatures Wash Up on San Diego Beaches ]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 07:00:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/velella+velella.JPG

Thousands of mysterious, bright blue sea creatures washing up along California beaches have made their way to San Diego.

The sapphire-hued Velella velella, which look like tiny jellyfish, are floating ashore in Del Mar around 15th Street, just south of Power House Park.

Measuring about three inches, the invertebrates are known as “by-the-wind sailors” because part of their body resembles a sail sticking above the water.

Wind and ocean currents are bringing the Velella velella to our coast, Jenn Moffat with Birch Aquarium told NBC 7.

While they are related to jellyfish, their sting typically cannot be felt, so they’re harmless to humans.

Still, Moffat has a word of advice.

“Don't touch them unless you know for sure this is what you're dealing with,” She said. “They look very similar to Portuguese man-o'-war, and those have a pretty powerful punch as far as sting goes. So it's just really better to stay away from them and just look at them and let them be.”

Moffat said once the Velella velella make it to shore, they are dead or dying.

Nevertheless, their eye-catching color has raised the curiosity of beachgoers.

“I had no idea what it was,” said Tom McKissick. “I understand it's from the jellyfish family or something but it doesn't sting. So, it's a friendly jelly fish.”

Northern California was the first to see the sea creatures rolling in by the hundreds last month. Researchers say they feed on zooplankton and fish, and their natural predators are snails.

Photo Credit: Artie Ojeda]]>
<![CDATA[$780K in Meth Seized; 2 Arrested]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 18:20:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/228*120/methlede.JPG

Border Patrol agents in Southern California seized 78 pounds of vacuum-sealed methamphetamine hidden inside the body of a car stopped at a San Clemente checkpoint Thursday morning, officials said.

The bust occurred at 2 a.m. Thursday when a police dog alerted agents to the meth in a 2008 Chrysler Sebring that authorities had flagged into the checkpoint, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said in a press release.

A 33-year-old Mexican national and his passenger were arrested, officials said.

Agents searched the vehicle and found 19 vacuum-sealed packages of methamphetamines throughout the body of the car and inside the gas tank.

Tthe drugs had a value of $780,400, officials said.

The men booked into custody on suspicion of possession of meth with intent to distribute.

"Drug smugglers are unyielding in their attempts to bring illicit drugs into our country for sale within our communities," said David BeMiller, an agent in charge of the San Clemente checkpoint.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California

<![CDATA[$780K in Methamphetamine Seized]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 21:20:38 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/82114BorderPatrol+ArrestsTwoMen+on+I-5with780K+of+meth_4.JPG Border Patrol agents seized 78 pounds of vacuum-sealed methamphetamine hidden inside the body of a car attempting to pass through a San Clemente checkpoint Thursday Morning, officials said. ]]> <![CDATA[No Explosives Found After Chaffey College Lockdown]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 19:13:07 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/lapd+cruiser.jpg

An hours-long lockdown at Chaffey College ended late Thursday when police failed to find any explosives that had been earlier reported, investigators said.

Student Johnathan Nicks described the man he claims he saw acting suspiciously at a bus stop on the campus of Chaffey Community College.

"He was wearing anti-government apparel - vest patches on them, boots, he said. "We all get those feelings something's not right at this moment of time."

Nicks said he then saw the backpack the man was holding and immediately thought there could be a bomb inside.

"I seen the wiring, the different colors and as I made contact with the individual he grabbed his backpack... and he ran,” Nicks said.

Nicks said he ran to a classroom and told a teacher, who then called law enforcement. Within minutes school police placed all buildings on lockdown, keeping all students indoors.

"I was in my class and they just came in and said there was a bomb threat,” said student Jennifer Sedano.

But despite the lockdown, some students remained skeptical of the threat.

"You hear about this kind of stuff on the news all the time ,so I figured that's why we're so desensitized to it because there's constant bomb threats and school shootings, said Daniel De Guzman.

Thats exactly why law enforcement officers searched the campus with high powered rifles, officials said.

They closed off all of the driveways leading in and out of the school, checking each vehicle that left campus.

Nicks was glad extreme safety measures were taken because he believes the man he saw could be a threat of some kind.

"We have to be careful, we have to be aware of our surroundings," he said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bank of America to Pay Relief Credits]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 17:39:18 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/122853025.jpg

Bank of America has agreed to pay nearly $17 billion in a record settlement over its role in the 2008 mortgage meltdown.

The money includes penalties and consumer relief in the form of relief credits for homeowners, not cash reimbursements, the U.S. Department of Justice announced.

"Under the terms of this settlement, the bank has agreed to pay $7 billion in relief to struggling homeowners, borrowers and communities affected by the bank's conduct," said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

The settlement affects about 200,000 customers who are delinquent on their mortgages, a Bank of America spokesperson said. About one third of those customers are in California.

California will receive $800 million in the settlement, $300 million of which will reimburse CalPERS and CalSTRS pension funds, California Attorney General Kamala Harris said in a statement.

Some $500 million will be offered in relief credits, which function like loan forgiveness or debt reduction on a mortgage.

Bank of America will begin evaluating customers in October to determine who will qualify for relief credits. To be eligible, customers must live in the home and be delinquent on their mortgage or in imminent threat to default based on their ability to pay.

Customers whose mortgages are connected to Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae are not eligible for relief credits, as well as people whose homes have already been foreclosed on, Bank of America said.

The bank will evaluate eligibility for customers going through bankruptcy once a judge decides how their debts will be restructured.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Saves Dog Running in Freeway Traffic]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 16:39:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/08-21-14_Dog-Freeway-Rescue.JPG

A woman who braved getting out of her car during rush-hour traffic on Thursday rescued a pooch wandering a Southern California freeway.

Just after 6 p.m. a black dog could be seen zigging and zagging into lanes of the Long Beach (710) Freeway near Atlantic Avenue, causing motorists to slow down and try to corral the pooch.

At one point, a motorcyclist rode next to the dog, ushering it to the shoulder of the freeway.

The dog was in the far left lane of the freeway, dodging vehicles as it crossed to the shoulder.

Motorists turned on their emergency lights, working like a mobile fence, to keep the pooch corralled on the side of the freeway.

Andie Valerio pulled her car over and was able to rescue the dog, that had climbed an embankment.

"I turned my hazards on and I made sure she was kind of going towards the shoulder," Valerio said.

The female dog was scooped up by Valerio. The dog was wearing a collar, but did not have any tags.

"She's super sweet," Valerio said. "I was sitting with her the whole time and she just licked me and she was just sitting there on the floor, calm."

After Valerio coaxed the dog into her arms and got her off the freeway, she was turned over to the local animal shelter, which will assist in locating the owner or someone to adopt the dog.

<![CDATA[Woman Saves Dog on 710 Freeway ]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 20:33:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/08-21-14_Dog-Freeway-Rescue.JPG A woman got out of her car, walked up a freeway embankment and coaxed a dog into her arms after the dog had been wandering the freeway on Thursday.]]> <![CDATA[Lawsuit Halts Construction of Hollywood Target ]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 20:33:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/453903966.jpg

Opponents of a Target store being built on Sunset Boulevard and Western Avenue in Hollywood have succeeded in halting the construction of the department store. 

Two groups sued to halt the ongoing construction of the store, citing that the construction was the result of the city's tendency to make backroom deals and violate the law. 
"The half-built Target store is a monument to City Hall's contempt for the law," Attorney Robert Silverstein said in a statement. 
A Los Angeles Superior Court Judge ordered that construction be halted on grounds that the city granted illegal exceptions to the project. 
One of those violations included the authorization that the building was allowed to be as high as 74 feet, exceeding the 35-feet limit. 
The would-be Target sits on a corner in Hollywood that has become "forlorn" according to Los Angeles Councilman Mitch O'Farrell. 
"This unfortunate series of events throws the project in limbo and that is not good for anyone," O'Farrell said in a statement.  
Target said that they plan to open the store next year as scheduled and will seek to continue construction on the building. 
The department store spokeswoman, Kristen Emmos, did not say if the company would appeal the court ruling.  
"We must keep the project going so we can continue with the plan that includes local hiring of former homeless youth along with hundreds of other employment opportunities," O'Farrell said. 
City News Service contributed to this report

View Full Story

Photo Credit: Lucas Oleniuk/ Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Had 2 Dozen Previous Police Encounters: Sources]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 01:12:50 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/marlene-pinnock-nbc4-interview.jpg

When law enforcement encounters an individual who appears to be suicidal or pose a threat to others, that person can be committed for a 72 hour psychiatric evaluation, commonly known by its legal code, 5150.

Less well known is that if that person is deemed to remain at risk, the patient can continue to be hospitalized against his or her will, first for 14 days, then 30 days and even longer.

But the system does not always work as planned, and for years it appeared to fail Marlene Pinnock, the homeless woman who had struggled in obscurity until her high-profile encounter with a CHP officer, whose use of force against her on the shoulder of the Santa Monica Freeway was recorded by a cellphone camera.  

Afterwards, authorities committed Pinnock for a 5150 evaluation.  In the previous decade, Pinnock had been committed for at least 26 previous 5150 evlautions, NBC4 has learned from two sources familiar with her history of law enforcement encounters.

In several of the previous commitments, Pinnock approached vehicle traffic and expressed suicidal thoughts, according to the NBC4 sources.

Commitments under 5150 do not require court approval.  Further commitments under 5250 and other sections  can be challenged by the patient in Superior Court.  Those records, dealing as they do with personal mental health information, are not public.  NBC4 has not been able to determine if any of the previous commitments were extended, or whether Pinnock received any psychiatric treatment after those releases.

After the July 1 incident, Pinnock remained hospitalized for 34 days, according to her attorney Caree Harper, who declined to discussed the nature of the care on privacy grounds.  Pinnnock is now doing well, Harper said.

Harper focuses on the use of force, which she describes as excessive and unjustifiable.  On the video, Officer Daniel Andrew was seen striking Pinnock as he held her down.  He has been relieved of duty, and the CHP has asked the Los Angeles District Attorney to consider filing "potentially serious charges" against him.  Harper contends Pinnock's mental health history is less relevant in the current case than Officer Andrew's state of mind.

The goal of the mental health system is to encourage patients to seek voluntary treatment, according to Kathleen Piche, a licensed clinical social worker who serves as a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.  For those who do not, the involuntary commitment provisions are intended to provide a mechanism for protecting the individual, and society.

Countywide, there are approximately 64,000 commitments every year under 5150, Piche said. Countywide numbers for 14-day extensions under 5250 were not available, but figures for County-USC show 1,601 in 2010.  Since then the number of 5250 commitments has decreased, dropping to 390 in 2012, the most recent full year for which Piche was able to obtain statistics.

Current law has its roots in the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act (LPS) signed into law in 1967.  Some see need for further amendment.  Los Angeles County is in the process of implementing Laura's law, which enables courts in certain situations to order persons with serious mental illness "to accept treatment as a condition of living in the community," according to the Laura's Law home page.

Piche has served as a patient's advocate at hearings under LPS.  Whether to hold a patient against his or her will is a difficult decision, she said.

"There are limits," she said.  "It's walking a line between our civil liberties and--you know-- getting that person help.

<![CDATA[Chicken Caesar Salad Kits Recalled in California]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 22:49:16 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lagenerics-genericsla-nbc4-logo.jpg

A California company is recalling chicken Caesar salad kits because of listeria concerns.

Appa Fine Foods of Corona shipped the kits to Sam's Club stores for sale in its in-store cafes.

The kits are in 11-ounce clear plastic containers and were shipped in 6-and-a-half pound boxes.

The labels of the affected containers include the code "p-21-030" inside the USDA inspection mark.

There have been no reports of illnesses related to the recall.

<![CDATA[Device Helps Sinusitis Sufferers Breathe Easy]]> Fri, 15 Aug 2014 09:59:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/189*120/sinusitis+treatment+3.JPG

If you are having trouble breathing on a regular basis, don’t assume it’s just allergies.

One in seven people suffer from chronic sinusitis, a condition that is caused by inflation and the swelling of the sinuses. This can make is difficult to breathe, hard to sleep and result in facial pain and headaches.

"A lot of my patients who come in here aren’t sure that they even had a problem," said Dr. Farhad Sigari, a Los Angeles-based ear, nose and throat specialist.

The problem can be so severe that it requires surgery to be fixed. One common procedure is called a balloon sinuplasty. The doctor uses a small inflatable balloon to force open the sinuses, which can sometimes resolve the problem but doesn’t always work as planned.

"In the past, surgeons have struggled with how to maintain the quality and the health of the sinuses after the procedure," Sigari said. "Often there’s a lot of scarring that can occur due to the chronic inflammation and clots and not being able to keep the sinuses passages clean after the surgery."

To reduce those risks, Sigari is using a new device called Propel, a dissolvable implant that he inserts into the patient’s sinuses right after the surgery.

Once inside, the mesh springs open and pushes itself against the sinus walls, keeping the nasal passages open during the healing process. At the same time, the implant delivers a dose of steroids to the tissue in the nose, which can reduce inflammation and scarring during recovery.

"The beauty of it is that it stays in the nose. It does not really go in your system so it has a really low chance of causing any systemic side effects that people worry about with steroids," Sigari said.

The implant dissolves completely in three to four weeks. and the patient never feels the device. It also eliminates the need to pack the nose with gauze or other material after the surgery.

"It’s not for every patient that needs a sinus procedure, but for the patients that qualify, it is wonderful and it continues to help them move along get to the point where they can feel normal like everybody else," Sigari said.

Dr. Bruce's advice: Don’t assume your breathing problems are the result of allergies. Chronic sinusitis can be treated with medications and in some cases surgery. The problem can seriously impact your life and it will not go away without treatment. See a specialist if your suffering. A CT scan can determine if your sinuses are impacted and need more aggressive treatment.

<![CDATA[Rap Video Threat Keeps LAPD on Edge]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 23:58:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/217*120/ezellpic.JPG

Tensions have been running high since last week's LAPD shooting of Ezell Ford.

Now some of his family members have released a music video on social media which has police more concerned than usual about their own safety.

It's a music video that's touched off an alert to all Los Angeles police officers.

It features Ceebo Tha Rapper, who is also a cousin of Ezell Ford, who was shot and killed by LA police officers last week.

"He says, 'F the police,' which generally is not an endearing phrase," said Tyler Izen, the president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League. "And then everybody in there, while they're singing and chanting and dancing, simulate a pistol with their hands and they're pointing them at the camera. What is one to assume from that?"

The LA police union is assuming the video is calling for revenge on officers and that's why this alert went out, warning LA police to be on heightened alert.

"Because there's no discussion in that video about getting together and talking this out and trying to make sure in the future we don't lose lives," Izen said.

Ceebo said he was shocked LAPD issued an alert in response to this music video.

"There was never any intent to threaten any police or nothing. But I guess that's how they want to take it," he said.

He said the hand gestures were not intended to be threatening, and said he's simply an artist grieving his cousin.

"He walked slow. Took his time. Never talked to nobody. It was clear he wasn't a threat. I don't even understand where the stop came from," he said of his cousin's death.

Community leaders are calling for discussion.

"You have to have honest dialogue and there has to be transparency," said Earl Ofari Hutchinson, of the LA Urban Policy Roundtable.

On Tuesday, the LAPD held a community meeting about the Ford shooting.

It lasted for hours and was often tense, but it's dialogue the police union says it wants to see more of and less videos like this one.

They also want the public to know there are two sides and that their officers are human, too.

"Nobody wants to lose a loved one and I have great empathy for them," Izen said. "I can also say that the officers involved weren't interested in taking a life that night."

<![CDATA[LA's First-Ever Chief Data Officer Loves Hackers ]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 13:15:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Nemani+Capture.JPG

Mayor Eric Garcetti’s new hire has numbers on the brain, but luckily that’s his job.

A transplant from the tech world, 25-year-old Abhi Nemani hopes to bring his experience to bear as Los Angeles’ first chief data officer.

"I’m ready to hit the ground running," Nemani said. "It’s great to be directly inside the system helping to promote change."

The announcement Wednesday of the new position follows last year's relaunch of the open data DataLA website and reflects the mayor’s trends toward data-driven policy making.

Open data refers to information that is openly released to the public for use by anybody.

Nemani said he wants to use the website, which works as a central depository for numbers including employment rates, crime data and information on city services, to make a more effective government in Los Angeles.

"Oftentimes the city or communities have the data," Nemani said. "What’s needed is leadership to bring data and technology together effectively."

Los Angeles isn't the first city to help data become more useful to citizens.

In Chicago, a government-sponsored application gave residents the location of the nearest free flu shot to stave off the seasonal disease.

In New York, a group of number-crunchers devised a way to use massive amounts of property and inspection data to determine what properties in the city were most at risk of fires and other problems.

"I'm pleased that Abhi Nemani is joining my team to manage the collection of data citywide and create tools to use data that will help solve everyday challenges for our residents," Garcetti said in a statement.

Nemani is currently the only member of his staff, which is housed in the office of the Deputy Mayor of Budget and Innovation, but said this won’t stop him from tackling major problems, such as traffic and water usage that are especially prevalent in Southern California.

Nemani previously worked at Google and most recently served as co-executive director of the non-profit organization Code for America, but started his career in political organizations.

"I was always kind of the nerd in the room," Nemani said. "I found that the beauty of the Internet was that complex things could actually be made simple if you had the right tools."

In his position, the city’s new data chief said he hopes to put information in the hands and the hard drives of what he calls civically-minded "hackers" and experts who can create tools for fellow citizens to use.

"'Hacker' is not a bad word anymore," he said.

Nemani’s first day on the job is Sept. 2.

Photo Credit: Abhi Nemani]]>
<![CDATA[Police Seeking Torrance Pawn Shop Robber]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 15:34:15 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/pawn+shop+theft+web.jpg

Police on Thursday asked for the public’s help to find a man who stole $27,000 worth of jewelry from a Torrance pawn shop.

The robbery happened Aug. 15 at 10:30 a.m., the Torrance Police Department said in a news release.

Police said the man approached Big Store Pawn Shop at 1623 Cabrillo Ave. and shattered the display window, removed several trays of jewelry and fled south on Cabrillo Avenue into the Crest Bar parking lot.

The man is described as a black or Hispanic man in his early to mid 20s, around 6 feet tall with a thin build.

He was last seen wearing "California All-Diamond" black T-shirt, dark pants and dark shoes.

Anyone with information on the crime urged to contact the Torrance Police Department at 310-328-3456.

Photo Credit: Torrance Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[City Hall Protesters Demand "Drone-Free LAPD"]]> Fri, 06 Jun 2014 03:57:09 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/drone+free+lapd+4.JPG

Protesters gathered outside LA's city hall Thursday morning, chanting "drone-free LAPD" to demand a halt to what they called an LAPD plan to use drones to spy on citizens.

Demonstrators from the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition pushed up against the City Hall entrance, trying to get a meeting with LA Mayor Eric Garcetti over two silent, camera-equipped drones the police department has recently acquired.

"What's going to happen when they have a drone that you can't ever hear is around, that can come into close radius?" protester Jamie Garcia said. "What are they going to do with this data? They haven't told us."

LAPD got the state-of-the-art Draganflyer X-6 drones for free from the Seattle Police Department in May. Civil rights activists on Thursday said Seattle residents' protests over drone testing in their city got their mayor involved to stop the drone use. They hope they can get Garcetti to do the same.

LAPD spokesman Bruce Borihahn said a federal agency is storing the drones. He said he doesn't know the drones' capabilities.

"We're not even in possession of these things," Borihahn said.

Police will not use the drones in LA before a "lengthy approval process" by the civilian police commission, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and civil rights groups, Borihahn said.

Protesters said the Draganflyer website and videos posted by other police departments using the drones around the country show the devices are small, indetectable and much less expensive than the manned helicopters currently used by the LAPD.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California applauded the department's transparency about receiving the tool, but questioned whether its use outweighs the potential for invasion of privacy, Hector Villagra, the executive director of the ACLU of Southern California, said in a statement in June.

Beck has promised the public the drones would only be used in tactical situations such as manhunts and standoffs.

"The Los Angeles Police Department will never, ever give up public confidence for a piece of police equipment," he said in June.

<![CDATA[Shots Fired During Robbery at Jewelry Store]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 21:28:15 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/westminster+robbery+copy.jpg

Police were searching for at least two people who robbed a jewelry store in Westminster, then scattered after someone opened fire Thursday afternoon.

The robbery was reported around 12:25 p.m. at the Asian Garden Mall in the 9200 block of Bolsa Avenue, according to the Westminster Police Department.

Two men in black jackets and hoodies went straight for the expensive watches at the Tick Tock Luxury Boutique jewelry store, police said. They wore masks and had guns.

"They had a hammer and started smashing some of the display cases and attempted to steal some Rolex watches and other miscellaneous items," said Westminster Police Department spokeswoman Rachel Archambault. 

The robbers ran away after shots were fired, but authorities would not say how much they took with them. 

A witness said the robbers got away with a heavy-looking backpack.

All of the gun casings were found inside the store. Police said they are trying to determine whether the store owner or the robbers opened fire.

Police found blood spots in a nearby parking lot, where they believe the men escaped by getting into a dark-colored Chevy Express van. The van, which police said was stolen from Inglewood, was dumped a few blocks away.

Witness Lieu Tran saw the men getting into the van and told NBC4 through a translator that one of the men got caught on the door briefly in an "awkward" moment.

Police are now looking for another getaway vehicle, which they described as a silver or white minivan with black paper plates that have red writing on them. 

The jewelry store has been robbed in similar incidents in July 2012 and September 2013, police said. Each time, the store owner was able to get his gun and open fire. 

<![CDATA[Ice Bucket Challenge Changes Way Charities Operate]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 06:52:07 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP456444041631.jpg

Stars and everyday people are getting buckets of ice water dumped on their heads and those same people are throwing out challenges to people to donate to ALS.

Money that will help people like Kay Thomas, who was diagnosed with ALS 12 years ago. The disease has impacted her both physically and financially -- she has lost her motor functioning and her wheelchair costs $30,000.

"Unfortunately we are competing for somebody else's contribution -- that's the reality of charitable institutions," said Phil Thomas, Kay's husband.

Phil Thomas also serves as chairman and board director of the Golden West chapter of ALS.

"Not that much more is known about ALS than when Lou Gehrig made his speech 75 years ago at Yankee Stadium saying farewell," he said.

But that is changing, thanks to the ice bucket challenge that has taken social media by storm. In just three weeks, the challenge has raised $31.5 million. The same time last year the national non-profit raised just $1.7 million.

"The ALS association didn’t invent the bucket challenge and we have become it’s benefactor and we’re grateful to it," Phil Thomas said.

For Kay Thomas, the ice bucket challenge is a win-win situation.

"One of my missions has been to make everyone aware of ALS," she said.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Breastfeeding Rooms May Be Coming to LAX ]]> Wed, 04 Jun 2014 13:13:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/breastfeeding080611_722x406_2083916159.jpg

Traveling mothers who want to breastfeed in private may soon have an area at LAX just for them thanks to a bill heading for the California Assembly.

The state Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that would require Los Angeles International Airport to provide a private area for nursing moms with a space that has "at minimum, a chair and an electrical outlet."

San Francisco International Airport is currently the only airport in California that has breastfeeding areas, with a breastfeeding space in each terminal for traveling moms.

"We were thrilled to read about bill 1787. As nursing working moms we had firsthand experience with the challenges of nursing while traveling through airports or working outside the home," author Sascha wrote on Mamava.com, a blog dedicated to breastfeeding. "There is nothing more demoralizing than using a breast pump in a bathroom, or trying without success to nurse a distracted baby in a hectic public place."

Nearly 60 percent of women in California exclusively breastfeed for the first three months, but that number drops dramatically at six months to 27 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A factor that contributes to the drop off is lack of accommodation, according to BreastfeedLA.org.
State law says a woman has a right to breastfeed anywhere she is legally allowed to be.
Breastfeeding spaces would have to be ready by 2016.