<![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 Fri, 31 Oct 2014 14:47:41 -0700 Fri, 31 Oct 2014 14:47:41 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Possible Heavy Rains Prompt OC Evacuation Advisory]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 14:14:54 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*213/8818529eed33408d9087060dd1c79fed.jpg

Officials in Orange County have issued an evacuation advisory ahead of possible heavy rains, flooding and mudlsides Friday night.

Only residents will be able to enter the affected area, homes east of 30311 Silverado Canyon Road in Cleveland National Forest, after 9 p.m., the according to a news release from the Orange County CEO and Sheriff.

The announcement cited a National Weather Service forecast that up to three inches of rain overnight, an amount that "could produce flooding and debris flows."

"Evacuation routes can quickly become impassable due to mud debris or flooding," it continued.

Sandbags are available for canyon residents at the OC Fire Authority's Station 14 at 29402 Silverado Canyon Road as well as at the intersection of Santiago Canyon and Modjeska Canyon roads.

The public information hotline, at 714-628-708, will be staffed starting at 3 p.m., according to the release.

Photo Credit: Renee Clements]]>
<![CDATA[WeHo Halloween Parade Street Closures]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:39:14 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/172*120/Capture14.JPG

More than 500,000 people are expected at the West Hollywood Halloween Costume Carnaval Friday night, but with Santa Monica Boulevard packed with costumed revelers, getting to the parade could be scary.

While the parade runs from about 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., the closures will stretch into Saturday morning.

Santa Monica Boulevard will be closed between North Doheny Drive and Croft Avenue through 6 a.m. Saturday, while San Vicente Boulevard between Santa Monica and Melrose Avenue won't open until 7 a.m., festival organizers say.

There will also be smaller closures along the route on streets and alleys adjacent to Santa Monica Boulevard, according to a Carnaval news release.

Parking permit restrictions are suspended in West Hollywood, but not in the bordering areas of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. Meters in West Hollywood will be enforced.

The city suggests eight public parking locations, each of which charge a $20 fee. The city's bus service is being rerouted to accomodate the parade.

Want to skip the traffic but not the parade? The Carnaval is streaming the 27-year-old event on YouTube.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA["Horror Nights" Verbal Abuse Claims Update]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:20:24 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/verbalabuse.JPG

The lawyer for two 13-year-old girls who were called “sluts,” “hookers,” or “whores” during “Halloween Horror Nights” earlier this month scheduled a news conference Friday to discuss the outcome of a meeting with Universal Studios executives.

Kayla Beals and Roxy Fisher said last week that they were hurt by the slurs captured in cellphone video.

The female "Horror Nights" employee heard on the cellphone video appears to be part of Universal's "Purge the Anarchy" attraction, part of its special "Halloween Horror Nights." Universal Studios and NBC4 are owned by Comcast.

The girls' lawyer, Gloria Allred, said previously that her clients wanted a face-to-face apology, and that they weren't seeking any compensation.

"We have no plan at this time to file a claim or to file a lawsuit," Allred said. "But we'd like them to do the right thing."

Universal Studios officials said in a statement that they "take these issues very seriously" and were looking into them.

"This conduct does not reflect our values or our guest communication guidelines," the statement read. "We are reaching out to those involved and will deal with the situation appropriately."

The groups met after last week's news conference.

<![CDATA[SpaceShipTwo Crashes in Mojave Desert]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 12:44:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/10-31-2014-spaceshiptwo-debris-3.jpg Space tourism rocket plane SpaceShipTwo crashed Friday Oct. 31 in the Mojave Desert north of Los Angeles.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Trigz Shooting Suspect Arrested, Held for $2M Bail]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:08:02 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/trigz_twitter.jpg

A suspect is under arrest in connection with the shooting death of a famous tattoo shop owner.

Thirty-one-year-old Robert Falcon, of Sylmar, was charged with one count of murder Thursday for allegedly shooting Sin City Tattoo owner Michael Pebly, also known as Trigz, after a fight at a North Hollywood business on Thursday, Oct. 9, according to a Los Angeles Police Department news release.

Falcon is being held on $2 million bail, the release said, following his arrest by North Hollywood LAPD detectives Tuesday.

Heavily tattooed and pierced, Trigz was known for his Pacoima tattoo shop an as a body modification model who worked on music videos with artists like Wiz Khalifa and Travis Barker.

"He had a lot to offer the world, just showing that you can't just look at people and just see the outside," friend Jon Lake told NBC4 earlier this month.

The LAPD release said Trigz and a man got in a fight at a business on Laurel Canyon Road in North Hollywood on Oct. 9. The fight apparently spilled outside, where Trigz's attacker pulled out a handgun and shot him.

The suspect fled, the LAPD said, while Trigz was found on the ground with a wound in his side.

The investigation is ongoing, according to the LAPD. They request that anyone with information call detectives at 818-623-4075 or 818-754-8451.

Photo Credit: Trigz/Twitter]]>
<![CDATA[1 Pilot Killed, 1 Injured in SpaceShipTwo Crash]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 14:43:54 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/10-31-2014-spaceshiptwo-debris-3.jpg

One crew member was killed and another suffered a "major injury" after Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo rocket plane, designed for suborbital commercial flights above the Earth, went down Friday during a test flight over the Mojave Desert in Southern California.

The test flight, in preparation for space tourism trips for which 700 customers have already paid up to $250,000, involved two crew members. Ground controllers lost contact with the crew shortly after the space tourism plane separated from a mothership that carries it to a height of about 50,000 feet, according to a Federal Aviation Administration statement.

One crew member was found dead in the vicinity of what authorities described as a widespread debris field. A second crew member was hospitalized, but details regarding a condition were not immediately available.

"At times like these, we recognize we engage in our craft freely," said Stuart Witt, CEO of Mojave Air and Space Port. "The test community is very small. We are human, and it hurts."

Crews found three distinct debris fields, indicating SpaceShipTwo broke apart mid-air, said Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood. A witness told The Associated Press the space tourism plane exploded over the desert after its rocket motor ignited.

Parts of the plane landed in the Cantil area, about 25 miles northeast of Mojave Air and Space Port and 95 miles north of Los Angeles. Aerial video showed several pieces of aircraft debris marked with the Virgin Galactic logo.

Witt and other members of the test flight team watched the test flight from the base of the control tower. He said he "detected nothing that appeared abnormal."

"During the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of SpaceShipTwo," according to Virgin Galactic. The "anomaly" occurred as the plane fired its rocket engine in flight, according to NBCNews.com. A tweet posted by Virgin Galactic's account Friday morning said, "#SpaceShipTwo has experienced an in-flight anomaly."

The tweet was posted just minutes after the plane, carried to 50,000 feet by a mothership called WhiteKnightTwo, began flying under rocket power, something the hybrid-rocket engine plane had not done in more than nine months, according to NBCNews.com. WhiteKnightTwo landed safety, according to Virgin Galactic.

Billionaire Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic's founder, had planned to be among those on the plane's first commercial voyage. Branson's company is considered a front-runner in the space tourism industry.

"Thoughts with all @virgingalactic & Scaled, thanks for all your messages of support. I'm flying to Mojave immediately to be with the team," Branson tweeted Friday afternoon.

Branson's tweet referred to Scaled Composites, Virgin Galactic's flight test partner.

Authorities did not comment with regard to a cause at a Friday afternoon news conference.

Virgin Galactic had switched the plane's fuel mixture since the last powered flight, NBCNews.com reported. The fuel change involved a switch from a rubber-based compound to plastic-based mix, NBCNews.com reported. Engineers were attempting to determine whether the new mix would boost engine performance.

Test flight officials said at a Friday news conference that the new fuel formulation had been tested many times on the ground.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Man Arrested on Suspicion of Following, Robbing Women]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 10:16:03 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/followhomerobber.JPG

Police arrested a man they believe robbed a 67-year-old woman after following her home from a bank in South Los Angeles nearly one month ago.

Dewayne Allen Taylor, 37, was arrested in connection with the Oct. 1 incident that was caught on camera at Union Bank near West Jefferson and Crenshaw boulevards, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

After surveying possible victims, Taylor allegedly followed the elderly woman to her home. Police said he waited for the woman to get out her car, greeted her as he passed by, then quickly turned around and pushed the victim to the ground and took her purse.

"I turned and he was already on my back. He said, 'This is a robbery,' then we start forcing for my purse," the victim told NBC4.

Before arresting Taylor, police said they believed the suspect could be connected to another strong-armed robbery less than a week prior to the Oct. 1 incident.

Taylor was arrested in the 1500 block of 48th Place and booked on a robbery charge. Detectives believe there are additional victims and were asking for the public's help in identifying them.

<![CDATA[Water Main Break Reported in Commerce]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 06:56:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/Capture13.JPG

LA County Fire responded to a water main break in the City of Commerce Friday morning at 5:15 a.m.

Part of Telegraph Road between Garfield Avenue and Washington Boulevard was flooded.

California Water Services said a crew was on scene, as were sheriff's deputies.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Brother of Water Main Crash Victim: "He Couldn't Move"]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 09:12:05 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/10-30-2014-water-main-rescue-cooper.jpg

The brother of a man in a critical condition after he crashed into an above ground water main in Riverside County said his sibling could not move as water filled his car.

Georg Schanz said 51-year-old Steve Strohm, who is in remission treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma, had blacked out at the wheel in Homeland on Wednesday as he headed home from an appointment with a doctor.

He was saved from drowning by a good Samaritan and a Riverside County Sheriff's deputy, who smashed a window and dragged him to safety.

"He just blacked out. He said I just remember water, there was all this water coming into my face. And he said he was struggling trying to get out, but it so powerful that he couldn't move," Schanz said, "I don't think you would ever imagine you are going to die on a road by drowning."

Schanz said his brother's first concern was his new car, which was badly damaged in the crash.

"Actually his first concern was the car. He just got that brand-new Mini Cooper in the summer. He was so excited because he loved it," Schanz said.

He also heaped praise on brave passer-by Tonya Feotossivea and the law officer who saved Strohm's life.

"There's no words I can put out there but thank you. I owe them my brother," Schanz said.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Rain, Snow, Wind in Halloween Forecast]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 09:25:54 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/rain+drops+rain+generic+wet+weather.jpg

Umbrellas and rain gear might be part of some trick-or-treaters' Halloween costumes as a Pacific storm brings rain, snow, high winds and possibly thunderstorms beginning Friday afternoon and lasting through Saturday in parts of Southern California.

The precipitation marks what could be the most significant rainfall for months in Southern California, part of a widespread area of the state that has been under "exceptional" drought conditions.

"There is some isolated drizzle expected for trick-or-treaters," said NBC4 forecaster Crystal Egger. "Most of this rain is going to fall while we're sleeping."

The NWS said a fast-moving cold front will spread rain along the Central Coast by midday Friday, then move south and reach Ventura and Los Angeles counties by evening. Most of the rain will arrive in Southern California after 10 p.m.

Showers will linger into Saturday morning. The showers could extend into Saturday afternoon on north-facing mountain slopes and stretch into early Sunday morning, according to the NWS.

Most areas will receive three or four hours of rain from the initial cold front before the precipitation turns to light showers. There also will be a "slight" chance of thunderstorms in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, according to the NWS, which said any thunderstorm will have the potential to pack heavy rain and small hail.

Rainfall amounts from Friday afternoon through Saturday are now expected to range between three quarters of an inch to 1 1/2 inches along the Central Coast, with up to two inches in northwestern San Luis Obispo County, but otherwise, most areas can expect between a quarter-inch and three quarters of an inch, with up to 1 inch in the San Gabriel Mountains, according to a NWS statement.

The storm also will trigger a drop in temperatures until Monday. By sunset at 6:01 p.m. Friday, temperatures will be in the mid-60s for coastal and valley communities.

The National Weather Service issued a warning to residents in the San Gabriel Valley below areas burned by the 1,992-acre Colby Fire in January. There is a potential for heavy downpours Friday night that could result in damaging mud and debris flows. The Glendora Police Department issued a "yellow alert" for the area Friday morning, encouraging homeowers to remove items that might be in a debris flow's path.

The snow level will be above 7,500 feet through Friday evening, then fall to between 6,500 and 7,000 feet by late Friday night and to between 6,000 and 6,500 feet by Saturday morning, the statement said. Between 2 and 4 inches of snow may accumulate in the San Gabriels at the  7,000-foot level and higher and 1 inch or less between 6,000 and 7,000 feet. The combination of snow and gusty high winds could prompt forecasters to issue a winter weather advisory for the San Gabriels.

Also expected as a result of this storm are strong winds. Southwest winds gusting to between 35 and 45 miles per hour are expected in the mountains of Ventura and Los Angeles counties and in the Antelope Valley Friday afternoon and evening, NWS forecasters said. By Saturday morning, the winds will turn to the northwest, with gusts of between 40 and 45 mph possible in the mountains  and the Antelope Valley.

The rains will be the first to fall over a wide area this season. Rain will combine with months of oil buildup to make paved surfaces dangerously slick, NWS forecasters warned, urging motorists to use extra caution.

The rain will do little to improve California's drought conditions, which will likely persist or intesify during what is historically the state's wet season. More than 58 percent of the state is under "exceptional" drought, the U.S. Drought Monitor's most severe category.

Southern California has not recorded significant rainfall since April. Similar dry spells throughout the state have led to critically low reservoir levels.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[App Maps Out Best Trick-or-Treating Spots]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 05:50:05 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/iphone_nextdoor+treat+map_2014_alt.jpg

As seasoned trick-or-treaters know, strategy is everything Halloween night.

You want a neighborhood with as many homes as possible giving out those king-sized candy bars. Get in, get out, get that sugar high.

"So if we can get the most bang for our buck with the closest house walking, then that just makes it a lot easier,” said Carlsbad resident Diana Hagerty, who will be spending Halloween with a 2-year-old.

The yards and costumes may be spooky, but for parents, there’s another layer of fear: their children’s safety.

The Nextdoor neighborhood app and website aims to spirit away some of that concern with its Treat Map.

Users can go on and say whether they are offering candy or if their place will be transformed into a haunted house. If the former, the app will place a little candy corn at the address; if the latter, a little, purple haunted house will pop up at the correct spot.

"This is something that when you go onto the map, only people who have been authenticated to live in your neighborhood can see, so you've built up a trust of your community," said Hagerty, an avid user of Nextdoor.

The app verifies neighbors by asking them for a credit card billing address, social security number or postcard sent to your address. That way, each user has to prove they actually live in the area.

So with the candy corns and haunted houses mapped out, parents can plan their routes ahead of time: a nifty time-saving tool if you want to be first to that cauldron of candy.

Hagerty said the app also helps residents keep an eye out for each other, especially if they’re listed as a no trick-or-treating spot.

“Or we've got some people who are across the street. They're not going to be there. We can watch out for them," she said.

Nextdoor only allows users to see participating homes directly in their neighborhood, but for those looking to venture into the eerie night, the app has its Trick-or-Treating Heat Map. It shows hot spots where many homes say they’re giving out the goods.

Photo Credit: Nextdoor]]>
<![CDATA[ Search in Monterey Park for Police Cruiser Shooter]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 05:19:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/221*120/MPark+Manhunt.JPG

A search was launched after a police cruiser was hit by gunfire in Monterey Park Thursday night.

The alleged gunman opened fire just before 10 p.m. at Monterey Park Police officers who had stopped in a 7-Eleven parking lot at the northeast corner of Garvey Avenue and New Avenue.

The cruiser was struck from behind by gunfire. The officers heard two shots and felt the impact on the back of the patrol car, though they did not see the shooter. They sped out of the parking lot to escape the alleged attack.

A two-and-a-half hour search was later launched, but despite the participation of SWAT officers and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the shooter still remains at large.

<![CDATA[15 People Arrested Following Fashion District Drug Bust]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 04:22:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/244*120/Drug+Bust1.JPG

Fifteen people have been arrested following a drug bust carried out in the Fashion District Thursday.

Los Angeles Police Department SWAT teams conducted the raid on two warehouses on the 1500 block of Paloma Street in downtown LA after obtaining a search warrant for marijuana cultivation.
The operation started at 3 p.m. and continued well into the night, with the investigation expected to conclude at 5 a.m. Friday.

<![CDATA[TSA Officer Who Survived LAX Attack Pursues "The Voice" Dream]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 12:07:04 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/170*120/TSA+singer.JPG

For many of the responding agencies, the anniversary of a gunman's 2013 shooting attack at Los Angeles International Airport is marked with remembrance of the victim who died and reflection on lessons for dealing with future emergencies.

A co-worker of slain TSA Officer Gerardo Hernandez discovered a personal insight: Life is uncertain -- you should not put off pursuing your dreams.

"It took me awhile to get over it and get my life together again," recalled Damien Lawson, who still works for the TSA, even while his singing skill is earning him recognition on the NBC program, "The Voice."

Lawson was stationed in LAX Terminal 3 on the second floor at the TSA screening checkpoint a year ago Nov. 1 when the attack occurred.

"I was just doing my regular job and I heard gunshots," Lawson recalled.

The sound came from the lobby below at the foot of the escalator, where Officer Hernandez was working near the terminal entrance. Moments after coming inside, the gunman pulled an assault rifle out of a bag and opened fire, multiple shots striking Hernandez and inflicting mortal wounds. Then the gunman headed upstairs.

"I remember I heard someone say, 'Get down!'" said Lawson.

TSA officers are not armed and no airport police were close by the checkpoint. When the gunman arrived on the upper level, travelers and TSA officers alike began running.

"I got out from under the table and ran and fell and got trampled," Lawson said.

To this day, he is grateful to fellow TSA officer James Speer, who was wounded, but able to pull Lawson back to his feet. Another TSA officer, Tony Grigsby, and passenger Brian Ludmer, a Calabasas high school teacher, also suffered wounds from which they have recovered.

Within five minutes, airport police cornered the suspect gunman, and took him down with gunfire. Paul Ciancia, 23, survived and is in custody awaiting trial. He was carrying a note indicated his intent to "kill TSA," it was alleged in a court filing.

"It's crazy that someone would come and want to kill TSA people," Lawson said.

It took Lawson two months to prepare himself mentally to return to work at LAX in other terminals, longer still before he was able to return to Terminal 3.

Especially at first, he found himself scanning the perimeter and looking over his shoulder.

"I'm more aware of my surroundings than I've ever been," he said.

A decade ago, Lawson had moved to Los Angeles from his native Louisiana to pursue a career in music and work for TSA awaiting his breakthrough. He joined the TSA chorus. It was chorus members who encouraged him to offer his voice in tribute to their fallen colleague, singing "I Believe I Can Fly" at the Hernandez public memorial service in the Los Angeles Sports Arena.

At a time of grief and mourning, it was emotionally challenging to perform.

"I thought I was probably not going to make it through," Lawson recalled, but he did.

Lawson had auditioned twice for "The Voice" without making the cut. It was in the months of contemplation after the attack that Lawson found his resolve to try again, and this time he made it.

"We're so proud of the fact he chased his dream and represents us so well," said Nico Melendez, a TSA spokesman.

In a matter of weeks, Lawsons's appearances on the program watched by millions each week have made him something of a celebrity in TSA checkpoint, often recognized by passengers on their way through screening.

"Aren't you on The Voice?" asked one traveler Thursday as she approached the screening station in
Terminal One where Lawson was assigned that shift.

"Let me shake your hand!" she gushed.

"Just last month nobody knew who I was. Now people walk up and say I've inspired them," said Lawson somewhat incredulously.

For him, the new phase of his life has been "a blessing," even though there are times when the
troubling recollections of the gunman's rampage come flooding back.

"I have no idea why he chose to do what he did," Lawson said. "I just wish he hadn't done it."

<![CDATA[Man Arrested for Alleged Sexual Assaults Since 1970s]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 21:03:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/223*120/10-30-daniel-montoya.JPG

Police in Long Beach have arrested a man they believe sexually assaulted several teenage boys starting in the 1970s, authorities said Thursday.

Daniel Montoya, 55, was arrested on Oct. 6 in Phoenix, Arizona in connection with assaults he allegedly committed while a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Long Beach, according to a news release from the Long Beach Police Department.

Detectives from Long Beach worked with Phoenix police.

Montoya pleaded guilty in 1986 to molesting two boys. He received three years probation, was ordered to attend psychotherapy treatment and was required to register as a sex offender, police said.

The latest victims were initially embarrassed by the incidents and did not report them, but recently felt compelled to report when Montoya called and asked about one victim's 8-year-old child.

Police said they started investigating Montoya in April. Authorities think there are more victims, and encourage them to come forward.

Montoya is in jail with bail set at $1.25 million.

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Long Beach Sexual Assault Investigation Detective Jennifer Kearns at 562-570-5514 or anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.

Photo Credit: Long Beach Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Police Find Mother of Toddlers Abandoned on Street]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 14:31:15 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/227*120/10-31-14-Long+Beach+Shenae+Irene+Dixon.jpg

Police on Friday located the mother of two toddlers who were found abandoned at a Long Beach intersection one day earlier after relatives helped identify the woman, officials said.

A 1-year-old boy named Kenneth and a 2-year-old boy named Sir Kingston were found unattended at Atlantic Avenue and 60th Street about 8:45 a.m. Thursday. Passer-by Amber Revels told NBC4 she discovered the toddlers wandering the streets and quickly alerted police.

On Friday morning, Long Beach police identified the toddlers' mother after speaking with relatives. The family members recognized the mother after hearing news reports about the missing boys.

The mother was identified as 23-year-old Shenae Irene Dixon (pictured, right). She was located "in good health" Friday afternoon and will be interviewed by detectives, police said.

Details about how the children ended up alone on a street were not immediately clear.

A woman identified as Mary Carter said she previously babysat the pair and believes they may have escaped from their home.

"The 2-year-old opened the door and was able to walk out, so I'm assuming that's probably what happened," Carter said.

The 1-year-old was wearing just a T-shirt and diaper while the other was wearing a T-shirt, shorts and sandals.

Both boys appear to be in good health, police said. Investigators questioned witnesses in the immediate area, but no one reported seeing anyone with the children or dropping them off.

"Typically (with) children of this age anyway we would have received a call from a frantic parent saying I've lost my 1- and 2-year-old. So far we've gotten nothing," said Sgt. Robert Woods of Long Beach Police Department.

All law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles County and five surrounding counties were notified and the boys were turned over to the Department of Children and Family Services, police said. Anyone with information about the children was urged to contact Long Beach police at 562-435-6711.

NBC4's Jonathan Lloyd and Toni Guinyard contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Long Beach Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Homicide Detectives Investigating Discovery of Body on Trail]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 18:07:18 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lagenerics-1-a-breaking-news-la-generic-graphic-april2014.gif

Homicide detectives were investigating the discovery of a body found on hiking trails in West Hills, officials said.

The body was found before 5 p.m. in the area of Vanowen Street and Valley Circle Boulevard in West Hills, said Los Angeles police Officer Jane Kim.

The address is near Bell Canyon Park.

Details were not immediately available.

<![CDATA[Altadena Fatal Shooting Victim Identified]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 02:06:29 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/204*120/Shooting+Victim.JPG

A man  shot and killed on the patio of an Altadena hamburger stand on Thursday has been identified.

Christopher Walker, 26, died after being gunned down on the patio outside Fair Oaks Burger at 2560 Fair Oaks Ave., at the intersection with Calaveras Street, in what is believed to have been a gang-related shooting.

The incident occurred about 4:30 p.m, with a man approaching and arguing with the victim before opening fire, striking him multiple times, according to the LA County Sheriff's Department.

His father Richard Walker, who works for NBC4, said his son's death was something he had feared ever since he got involved with street gangs.

"When he was 11-years-old he joined a gang and he's 26 now. So for the last 15 years I've dreaded this day, because we know where gangs lead to," Walker said, "When I saw the pastor drive up I knew something was wrong, I just didn't know quite what. I knew it was bad."

However he was glad he was able to repair his relationship with his son before his death.

"I said I was sorry for the way I reacted to him joining a gang, and that I loved him and we reconciled. A couple of years ago he moved back out here and he was working and we thought getting his life together, but there was still that pull on him," Walker said.

The victim was taken to Huntington Memorial Hospital for treatment following the attack, but succumbed to his injuries.

A dark gray four-door car with at least two people inside was seen leaving the area, headed east.

The 2500 block of Fair Oaks Avenue was closed to accommodate the shooting investigation.

<![CDATA[Clinical Trial Participants Fight for Compensation]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 21:32:38 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/10-30-mac-clinicaltrials.JPG

If you're a company and want someone to test your product, the best way to ensure they complete a clinical program is to pay them.

But the NBC I-Team was tipped that participants in some clinical trials have followed the rules, but have yet to see a dime.

A participant research firm in Northridge that promised people up to $1,500 to test out their health and nutritional supplements ended up not following through on those promises, participants told the NBC4 I-Team.

Yuddi Cho thought she might be lactose intolerant.

For Courtney Black, it's a skin ailment.

"I've had eczema my whole life," Black said.

Black and Cho both sought answers to their health issues as paid participants in clinical trials with StayWell Research.

The Northridge-based company tests health and nutritional supplements, and advertises compensation for completion of the trial between $200 and $1,500.

Kiry Peng is CEO of the Business Consumer Alliance, which investigates consumer complaints and helps negotiate settlements.

StayWell hit Peng's radar last June.

"They're not coming through and compensating these consumers after the trials have been completed," he said.

Cho said she's supposed to be paid $540 for the trial in which she took part, and has filed a complaint.

As a StayWell patient for six months, Cho kept a research diary, reporting every two weeks. Her trial ended in December 2013, and she received a check -- but still hasn't seen the money.

"I took it to the bank and it bounced. It bounced actually twice," Cho said.

Amira Rucker, StayWell clinical director, blames the issue on the company's growing pains.

"The intention is always there to pay them," Rucker said.

In 2012, StayWell research tested 100 patients, Rucker said. In 2014, that number's grown to 2,000 patients annually.

This year alone, StayWell Research reports paying $300,000 in patient compensation. But how much is still owed?

"For sure it's less than $300,000," Rucker said. "But in terms of the exact figure, I don't have that."

Black said after months of excuses from StayWell, the Business Consumer Alliance was able to negotiate her payment of $375 from the company, for her five-week trial.

"Its all about being fair," Black said. "If we're doing our part, why aren't they doing their part?"

Nine months after completing her trial, Cho's still surfing StayWell's website for news of its compensation plan -- hoping to get a check that won't bounce.

If you're planning on signing up for a clinical trial, NBC4 recommends doing research on the company to see if others have lodged complaints, finding out the time commitment and planned compensation, and checking with your doctor before taking anything that could adversely affect your health.

StayWell officials say they're addressing infrastructure issues so this doesn't happen again.

Photo Credit: James Wulff]]>
<![CDATA[Gas Prices Hit Four-Year Low]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 23:07:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/N6_PKG_MEDINA_GAS_PRICES_1200x675_350223427517.jpg

When gas prices dropped below $3 this week, the lowest in four years in Southern California, lines formed around the block for gas at an Arco in Downey with motorists eager to save a few bucks.

The Arco station seems to have spurred a trend, with twice as many gas stations in the LA area lowering their prices to $2.99 a gallon.

Gas prices are at their lowest since 2011. Gas is, on average, about $3.42 a gallon in LA, $3.35 in Orange County, and $3.04 nationwide.

"It’s always good news to have a little extra money in your pocket that you don’t have to spend at the gas station," said Marie Montgomery, a spokeswoman with the Automobile Club of Southern California. "Unfortunately, in California we've gotten too used to paying over $4 a gallon. I remember when people were saying, 'We'll never see national gas prices go below $3 a gallon again.' Tomorrow, this will probably happen."

And the cheap prices has led to a spike in demand from motorists.

"We average on a normal day maybe about a load, but right now we're averaging about maybe three loads a day." an Arco worker in Lakewood, which is charging $2.99 per gallon told NBC4.

And a driver said the last time he saw prices like they are currently was "before I was driving."

Gas price drops can be traced to a drop in crude oil prices.

There is no telling how long the steady decrease will continue, but winter gas blends are cheaper to produce.

<![CDATA[No Criminal Charges in Agoura High School Football Incident]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 21:10:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/181*120/lagenerics+classroom.jpg

No criminal charges will be filed against Agoura High School football players and coaches who allegedly were involved in an incident described as "sexual in nature" earlier this month, officials said.

The incident occurred Oct. 17 on a bus while the football team was on its way to a game.

Los Virgenes Unified School District Superintendent Dan Stepenosky said the incident was "highly inappropriate, to say the least."

All of the parties involved were male, according to Lieutenant Jennifer Seetoo of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Two football players and a coach were suspended in the wake of the incident, Stepenosky said.

Seetoo confirmed that the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department has dropped its investigation.

After speaking with students, deputies determined a crime did not occur. Deputies will continue to monitor the case should new information emerge.

The school district is continuing to conduct its own case, Stepenosky said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Defendant in Gabriel Fernandez Death Refuses Plea Deal]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 21:55:16 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/220*120/gabriel+fernandez.jpg

A man accused in the beating and torture death of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez has decided not to take a plea deal to murder charges, according to sources close to the case.
Isauro Aguirre has not agreed to the deal that calls for life in prison without the possibility of parole and no appeals, the sources told NBC4 Thursday. The plan was for Aguirre and his ex-girlfriend, Pearl Fernandez, Gabriel's mother, to plead guilty to first degree murder and torture charges with special circumstances, sources close to the case said last week.
The defendants have until a Dec. 3 court hearing to accept the deal or not and go to trial on murder charges. The plea deal was officially submitted in court on Thursday.

Gabriel was found barely breathing in his mother’s Palmdale apartment on May 22, 2013 and died just two days later. He showed signs of having been beaten, restrained, shot with a BB gun in the groin and other torture.

The day after he was discovered, Pearl Fernandez and Aguirre were arrested in connection with his torture death. They were charged with capital murder in the boy's death on May 28, 2013.

The case sparked a series of protests throughout the county through the summer, calling on county officials to reform child protective services in whose custody Gabriel was in.

Four social workers would be discharged in connection with the Fernandez case and a blue-ribbon panel released a scathing report, recommending changes to the way the county handles abused children.

In the criminal court case, testimony revealed that Gabriel was beat with bats and a club which knocked out his teeth. He was shot with a BB gun and pepper spray. He was whipped with the metal part of a belt over eight months.

Gabriel's maternal grandfather has filed a civil wrongful death lawsuit against the county and the DCFS.

Photo Credit: Family Photo]]>
<![CDATA[Hello Kitty Turns 40 With First Convention]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 06:19:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/221*120/Capture12.JPG

Hello Kitty is turning 40 this year, and she's celebrating in LA with a very big party.

The iconic character is having her first-ever official Hello Kitty Convention in Downtown LA Thursday through Sunday at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Hello Kitty Con 2014 features a tattoo shop, fashion exhibit, lectures, workshops and photo ops, according to press releases. Thousands of people are expected at the four-day festival, which his sold out.

Created 40 years ago as a characater for a coin purse, Hello Kitty has become an international celebrity, in what one anthropologist as called "pink globalization."

Recently revealed to be a girl -- not the bobtail cat many know her as -- Hello Kitty is having a moment in LA. Little Tokyo's Japanese American National Museum is holding a major retrospective of Hello Kitty-themed objects, while cafes and restaurants are stashing Hello Kitty pins for a city-wide scavanger hunt held through November 21.

Photo Credit: Bobbie Eng]]>
<![CDATA[LA Holds First-Ever Hello Kitty Convention ]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:19:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/hk51819877.jpg Hello Kitty's 40th anniversary commenced at the world's first Hello Kitty Convention in Downtown LA's Little Tokyo.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Deputy Traffic Stop Death Suspect Pleads Not Guilty]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 03:15:05 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/10-28-2014-deputy-ventura-kostiuchenko.jpg

The driver accused of striking and killing a Ventura County Sheriff's deputy in what authorities said was a DUI crash during a traffic stop on the 101 Freeway pleaded not guity to second degree murder at court in Ventura on Thursday.

Kevin Hogrefe, 25, of Camarillo, was charged with murder and felony hit and run after allegedly leaving the scene of the crash on the northbound 101 Freeway Tuesday morning. Deputy Eugene Kostiuchenko, 41, had just wrapped up a traffic stop on the side of the freeway and was returning to his patrol vehicle when he was struck.

Hogrefe had been taken into custody later Tuesday morning after a crash off the 101 Freeway in Camarillo. He was originally being held on $150,000 bond, but that was increased to $500,000.

Prosecutors decided to pursue a murder charge after he had been convicted of DUI in Nevada just months ago. They unprepared to release information on his blood alcohol level at this time.

Colleagues of Deputy Kostiuchenko, survived by his wife and two sons, described him as a "character" and "incredible man" who came to the United States from Ukraine to pursue his passion for law enforcement. He worked for the county's Emergency Preparedness Office.

Deputies who responded to Tuesday morning's traffic stop witnessed the fatal crash, which occurred during Kostiuchenko's regular 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift. The driver narrowly missed the responding deputies before striking Kostiuchenko, according to the sheriff's department.

The suspect has a prior DUI conviction in Nevada, according to the Ventura County Sheriff's Department.

Photo Credit: Ventura County Sheriff's Dept.
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[LA Celebrates Dia de los Muertos ]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 11:29:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/dia+de+los+muertos+1.PNG Dia de LosMuertos (Day of the Dead) is a two-day Mexican holiday beginning Monday Nov. 1.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Capital Murder Charge Filed in SWAT Officer Slaying]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 22:00:50 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lafile-pomona-swat-police-officer-shaun-diamond.jpg

A man accused of fatally shooting a Pomona SWAT officer during a warrant operation was charged with capital murder on Thursday, the same day a prayer vigil was planned for the law enforcement veteran.

Alleged shooter David Martinez, 36,  had his arraignment postponed to Nov. 13, and prosecutors were asking that he be held without bail, according to a statement from the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Lincoln Avenue Community Church was organizing the 6:30 p.m. vigil for Officer Shaun Diamond, 45, who was fatally shot in the back of the head during a motorcycle gang investigation Tuesday morning.

Martinez, who was arrested by officers following the shooting, was expected in court sometime Thursday for arraignment. Martinez, who has an extensive criminal history including arrests for domestic violence and assault with a deadly weapon, was being held on $4 million bail.

Diamond, a 16-year veteran, was shot in the back of the head almost immediately after "making entry" to the residence while serving a search warrant, sheriff’s officials said. He was taken to Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena Tuesday where he underwent surgery and was in the intensive care unit for several hours before he died.

Pomona officers did not shoot back at Martinez because the suspect’s father was in the line of fire, officials said. Martinez, who was the target of the warrant, was taken into custody unhurt.

Colleagues mourned the loss of Diamond, remembering him as a “top-notch guy.”

"He's just a wonderful human being," Pomona Police Lt Mike Keltner said.

Diamond’s mother, Joy Diamond, said her son was a dedicated public servant who “emanated trust.”

"He was just this great big guy and you just knew he was going to take care of business,” Joy Diamond said.

Funeral arrangements are pending. The vigil is set to take place at Mission Boulevard and Park Avenue.

Jonathan Lloyd contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Pomona Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Police: Two Men Cut Teenage Girl in Norwalk]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 11:33:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/10-30-14_whittier+teen+stabbing.jpg

A 16-year-old girl on her way to school was cut with a knife by two males in Whittier Thursay morning at 7:24 a.m. in an apparent attempted street robbery, police said.

The men approached the girl in a vehicle near the intersection of Colima and Telegraph roads, asked her something and cut her when she attempted to flee, according to an officer with the Norwalk Sheriff station.

The suspects fled in a black, four-door vehicle, officials said.

Refresh this page for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Raging Carport Fire Destroys Several Vehicles]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 19:05:17 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/10-30-14_orange+carport+fire.jpg

At least four vehicles were destroyed during a raging fire at a carport and apartment building in Orange early Thursday.

Firefighters responded around 4 a.m. to the blaze in the 500 block of South La Veta Park Circle, according to the City of Orange Fire Department.

The fire burned for about 15 minutes, melting and damaging 10 other  vehicles in a carport before spreading to a nearby apartment building. Firefighters sprayed water on the building to protect against the blaze but several unit windows shattered from the heat, fire officials said.

Residents were evacuated from the Villa Point Apartments  while firefighters extinguished the fire.

A fire investigator was called to the scene to determine the cause of the blaze.

Photo Credit: Southern Counties News]]>
<![CDATA[Plane Strikes Bird, Forced to Land at LAX ]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 09:43:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/tlmd_spirit1.jpg

A commercial jet that had departed from the Los Angeles International Airport was forced to circle the Los Angeles area for more than an hour and return to the runway after the plane struck at least one bird Wednesday night, LAX officials said.

The Fort Lauderdale-bound Spirit Airlines Flight 310 departed from LAX at 9 p.m. The pilot reported a bird strike and as a result, circled the LA area for about an hour and a half before landing safely at the airport, Spirit Airlines spokesperson Paul Berry said.

Passengers got off the plane and took another flight out at 1:51 a.m. Thursday morning and were expected to land in Fort Lauderdale at 9:36 a.m. local time.

No injuries were reported.

The plane was being inspected at LAX.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Security Guard Encounters Bear at Pet Grooming Shop]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 13:18:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/10-30-2014-lancaster-bear-rmg.jpg

A bear visited a Lancaster business district early Thursday in an early morning search for food in trash bins at a pet grooming store before using storm drains to head back toward the wilderness.

The black bear was reported near 15th Street West and West Avenue K in the northern Los Angeles County community in the Antelope Valley. A security guard patrolling the area responded to a report of someone knocking on the business' back door.

"I heard the noise so I know something's out there, but I don't want to meet it face to face," said Lupe Telles, who works in the area.

The security guard arrived to find the bear, which appeared to have a scratch by its eye, going through trash. Deputies arrived before the bear ran down a street and into a storm drain channel.

At about 5:45, the NBC4's crew in Lancaster caught the bear on video as it climbed an embankment above the channel.

Witnesses told NBC4 they think the bear has probably made previous visits. The bear has been seen searching for food at a homeless encampment.

One lifelong Lancaster resident said bears do not usually come "this far down" from nearby mountains.

California's black bear population is at about 25,000 to 30,000, with most living in mountain areas above 3,000 feet, according to what the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife calls conservative estimates. In 1982, the statewide bear population was estimated at between 10,000 and 15,000.

Less than 10 percent of the state's black bear population lives in the central western and southwestern California region, according to agency estimates. About half of the population resides in an area north and west of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Increased bear sightings -- and other wildlife -- might be partially attributed in recent years to the state's ongoing drought as animals are forced to search for food in areas outside their usual habitat, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. California has just finished its third-consecutive dry year with no end in sight to the dry spell.

Photo Credit: RMG]]>
<![CDATA[Arrest in Kidnapping, Pursuit After Car Runs Out of Fuel]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 02:33:07 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/Pursuit12.JPG

An armed kidnapper demanded ransom and forced a woman to drive a car with police in pursuit until the vehicle ran out of fuel on a Southern California freeway about 50 miles from the park where she was abducted, police said.

The pursuit began after Ivan Zamora, 24, allegedly kidnapped a couple at gunpoint and stole their car in Boyle Heights Thursday and ended in the Fontana area, officials said. The kidnapping victims were visiting Hollenbeck Park around 12:45 a.m. when they were approached by the attacker, who was armed with a semi-automatic handgun, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Zamora is said to have demanded one of the couple hand over their car keys before forcing them into the Volkswagen Beetle and driving to a 7-Eleven store, where the victims were ordered to call another couple that had been visiting the park. The second couple was robbed when they arrived at the store.

"We believe the suspect had knowledge that there were two couples at the park at the time of the original kidnap," said detective Gilbert Silva. "The second couple arrived believing that they were going to meet their friends to get away. That's when they were surprised by the suspect."

The subject took one of the female victims back to the car, forcing her to drive away with him as a passenger, police said. The kidnapped woman contacted her friends to say that the subject was demanding money for her release, information that was relayed to officers, police said.

"It was that telephone call that allowed us to actually locate where she was at that point," said Capt. Gary Lopez.

Officers started the pursuit after spotting the victim's car in the parking lot of a McDonalds restaurant on Caeser Chavez Avenue and Soto Street, LAPD Sgt. Edward Ortiz said. The chase ended in the Rancho Cucamonga area when the Volkswagen the victim was driving ran out of fuel on the 10 Freeway. The pursuit reached speeds around 80 mph, police said.

"You can just imagine how terrified they would be knowing that their suspect was armed they had no other choice to comply," said Silva.

The assailant was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping, carjacking and robbery. There is not a relationship between the suspect and the attacker, Sgt. Ortiz said.

The victim was taken to a police station. She did not appear to be injured.

NBC4's Jonathan Lloyd contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Livelabs]]>
<![CDATA[Bear Searches for Food at La Cañada Flintridge Home]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 09:44:49 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/La+Canada+bear.PNG

A large and hungry bear was caught on surveillance video rummaging through a La Cañada Flintridge family’s trash and eating their Halloween pumpkin on their porch.

The approximately 500-pound black bear targeted a home on the 1200 block of Flintridge Circle. The bear ripped off slats from the home’s fence, entered the Andersen family’s backyard and rummaged through the trash.

The bear then sauntered to the front of the home and waited for about 20 minutes before he picked up a pumpkin from the front porch and began eating it in a Winnie the Pooh-like fashion. 

"The bear sat down and made itself at home and started carving the pumpkin basically, scratching it, opened it up and ate out the seeds," homeowner Carol Andersen said.

Andersen told NBC4 the family plans on adding a candle and using the "carved" pumpkin as their Halloween jack-o-lantern.

After the bear sighting, Andersen’s neighbors are considering storing their trash cans inside their garages.

California's black bear population is at about 25,000 to 30,000, with most living in mountain areas above 3,000 feet, according to what the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife calls conservative estimates. In 1982, the statewide bear population was estimated at between 10,000 and 15,000.

Less than 10 percent of the state's black bear population lives in the central western and southwestern California region, according to agency estimates. About half of the population resides in an area north and west of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Increased bear sightings -- and other wildlife -- might be partially attributed in recent years to the state's ongoing drought as animals are forced to search for food in areas outside their usual habitat, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. California has just finished its third-consecutive dry year with no end in sight to the dry spell.

<![CDATA[Good Samaritan Rescues Man From Near-Drowning After Crash]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 06:21:04 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*126/Rescue27.JPG

A Good Samaritan helped a police officer save a man from drowning after his car crashed into a water main and began filling with water Wednesday.

The crash occurred when the driver of a 2009 Mini Cooper collided into an above ground water main at the corner of Sultanas Road and Highway 74 in the Riverside County town of Homeland.
According to witnesses, the driver had passed out at the wheel. Meanwhile, water was gushing into the car at a rapid speed.
"All I see he was drifting to the side. As I see him drifting I see he was asleep," said witness Buzzy McLoud, who said the driver had lost consciousness before veering off the road. 
Good Samaritan Tonya Feotossivea ran over to help when she saw the man was in danger of drowning.
"He was drowning the car. The water was going up, the water was going up. He was going to drown," Feotossivia said. "The cop busted the window and we dragged him out."
Feotossivia helped a Riverside County Sheriff's deputy drag the man from his vehicle to safety as water gushed all around them, getting blood on her hands in the process. She collapsed in tears at the side of the road as the adrenaline wore off and she was overcome by emotion.
The deputy did not want to be interviewed about his part of the rescue, only saying "it’s just my job, brother.” 
Other emergency services workers at the scene said without the heroic pair’s intervention, things could have turned out very differently.
"They saved his life. They got him out of the car, they risked their own lives getting in there. The guy would have drowned from the situation at hand,” Riverside County Fire Department’s Capt. Greg Turbeville said.
The victim was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment and is expected to make a good recovery.

Photo Credit: NBC4 News]]>
<![CDATA[Car in Police Pursuit Crashes Into Market]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 02:46:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/141029-car-int-building-south-la.jpg

A female motorist was hospitalized Wednesday when the car she was in crashed into a market after a short police pursuit in South Los Angeles, officials said.

The chase began at 8:25 p.m. when police tried to pull over the vehicle that had unmarked plates. It ended three minutes later when the car crashed into Big Saver Foods, at Slauson and Compton avenues, said LAPD Officer Sandra Infante.

The car crashed into the back of the store and no customers or employees were injured.

The car had been reported stolen, police said.

The female driver was taken to a hospital with minor injuries. She was the only occupant of the vehicle.

Sofia Pop contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[California's Historic Drought Takes Bite Out of Rice Harvest]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 19:26:15 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP554681538396.jpg

California's deepening drought is shrinking its rice harvest, and that's bad news for farmers, migratory birds and sushi lovers.

The $5 billion industry exports rice to more than 100 countries and specializes in premium grains used in risotto, paella and sushi. Nearly all U.S. sushi restaurants use medium-grain rice grown in the Sacramento Valley.

The rice harvest is just the latest victim of California's historic drought, which has sharply reduced crop production as it enters its fourth year.

With 95 percent of the state in "severe" to "exceptional" drought, farmers are leaving fields unplanted, cattle ranchers are reducing herds and almond growers are tearing out orchards.

California, the nation's second largest rice-growing state after Arkansas, usually produces more than five million pounds of rice and sells about half of it abroad.

But this year rice farmers only planted 420,000 acres — 25 percent less than last year — because of water restrictions, according to the California Rice Commission.

On a clear October day, farmer Mike DeWit watched as a giant combine harvester cut and threshed a field of rice plants, discharging the grain into a tractor-pulled wagon.

DeWit, who usually plants 1,000 acres of rice on his family farm in Woodland, outside Sacramento, said he only planted 700 acres this year because his water supply was cut by 30 percent.

So he idled one of his combine harvesters, and hired one less worker and one less tractor.

"I think it's the worst as far as the California rice industry is concerned on record," DeWit said. "One more dry year, and I think the impacts on California rice farmers will be devastating."

The reduced plantings also impact migratory birds and other wildlife that depend on flooded rice fields as habitat.

Every fall, millions of waterfowl fly south from Canada and Alaska to spend their winters in California's Central Valley.

After the fall harvest, farmers usually cover their fields with water to break down the rice stalks, creating wetlands habitat for millions of ducks and geese that can feed on uncollected grains and other plants.

"It is environmentally a very nice crop to have in the system. It mimics the natural system of a couple hundred years ago, when that area was wetlands," said Bruce Lindquist, a rice researcher at the University of California, Davis.

In a typical year, rice farms flood 250,000 to 300,000 acres in winter, but this year as few as 50,000 acres may be flooded because of water restrictions, according to the rice commission.

Conservationists are worried that waterfowl and shorebirds will be at greater risk for disease as they crowd together in fewer rice fields and wetlands.

"When you have less rice out there, the impacts are significant for our environment, our economy, for the farms as well," said Jim Rice, a rice commission spokesman.

This year, conservation groups are renting 14,000 acres from rice farmers and temporarily flooding them, turning the fields into "pop-up wetlands" for birds traveling along the Pacific Flyway.

The rice commission doesn't track prices, but Taro Arai, who runs eight Japanese restaurants in the Sacramento area, said he paid 8 percent more for rice this year and expects to pay even more next year.

Arai, "chief dreaming officer" of the Mikuni Restaurant Group, is concerned about the reduced supply and rising cost of California sushi rice, but he's reluctant to buy rice from outside the state.

So he's looking into growing and harvesting his own rice as he prepares to open more restaurants in Northern California.

"Sushi rice makes or breaks sushi for every restaurant in California or the United States," Arai said. "I hear the rumors there's a cheaper rice, but you want to eat high-quality California rice."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Pilot Killed in Military Plane Crash in Point Mugu Area]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 11:18:55 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/141029-point-mugu-military-plane-crash.jpg

The pilot of a military jet was killed when the aircraft crashed in a field in the Point Mugu area on Wednesday, the Ventura County Fire Department said.

The Hawker Hunter MK-58 came down about 5 p.m. just off Highway 1 and Hueneme Road, said Allen Kenitzer of the Federal Aviation Administration.

A witness told NBC4 that the jet just "nosed down" and described the scene as a "tremendous crash."

Responders located the pilot seat in the field with the deceased pilot belted in.

"They saw a parachute in the debris field. It is unknown whether he tried to eject or whether that was just part of the field,” Ventura Co. Fire Capt. Mike Lindberry said. 

The jet crashed about a mile short of the Naval base runway. 

The Ventura County Medical Examiner's office identified the pilot as 45-year-old Charles Rogers, of Utah.

Naval Base Ventura County spokeswoman Kimberly Gearhart said the single-seater jet was a contract aircraft that flew out of Point Mugu and was operated by the company ATAC. The Navy uses the aircraft for training missions as the enemy in mock aerial operations. The jet was returning from an offshore exercise when it went down. 

Both the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating, Kenitzer said.

"The investigation for this is going to be a lengthy one," Ventura Co. Sheriff's Capt. Don Aguilar said. 

Two and a half years ago, the pilot of another Hunter Hawker had been killed when it also went down on a training mission. A temporary grounding of the fleet was later lifted. It will be the responsibility of federal investigators to determine what went wrong in Wednesday's crash.

The name of the pilot who died in the crash is being withheld until his family is notified.

Willian Avila and Rosa Ordaz contributed to this report. 

<![CDATA[Election Mailers and Pamphlets 2014]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 22:06:45 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/198*120/2014+pro+Sheila+Kuehl+supervisor7.png Some of the many mailers and pamphlets sent to a mailbox near you this election season. ]]> <![CDATA[Missing Hemet Teen With Autism is Found]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 19:20:32 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lafile-dakarai-evans-hemet-teen-autism.jpg

A missing Hemet teen with autism has been found, family members said Wednesday.

Dakarai Evans, 16, disappeared Monday afternoon. The boy's mother, Sherrea Evans, said she was showering when her son quietly left their home at the corner of West Acacia Avenue and Kirbky Street in Hemet.

The boy was found late Wednesday afternoon.

David Evans said his son once wandered 15 miles until someone spotted him.

The father said Evans has autism, but is considered high-functioning.

"He doesn't understand that there's dangerous people out here," the teen's mother said.

Hemet police officers searched the area for the teen using blood hounds and a helicopter, but he was not found.

The family handed out fliers Wednesday, hoping to get leads on the teen's whereabouts.

Photo Credit: Hemet Police Department]]>
<![CDATA["Suge" Knight Arrested in Beverly Hills Robbery]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 02:46:09 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/suge-knight-katt-williams-split.jpg

Rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight and comedian Micah "Katt" Williams were arrested Wednesday for stealing a paparazzo's camera outside a Beverly Hills studio last month, authorities said.

Knight and Williams are charged with one count each of robbery. 

The two men are suspected of stealing the camera of independent celebrity photographer Leslie Redden on Sept. 5 outside a studio in Beverly Hills.

Police say Knight "orchestrated" the robbery in an alley off North Canon Drive.

"It was a strong arm robbery where a camera was forcefully removed from the photographer by Katt Williams. The victim in the matter did sustain injury in this case," Beverly Hills Police Lt. Lincoln Hoshino said.

Williams was arrested Wednesday morning after he arrived at an Inglewood court for arraignment in a separate assault case.

Knight, who was staying at a property off the Las Vegas Strip, was taken into custody on Wednesday by a task force of local police and the FBI, according to a statement from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

Las Vegas authorities made the arrest after they were advised by Beverly Hills police that a felony warrant for robbery had been issued for Knight.

He was booked at the Clark County Detention Center on warrants for being fugitive and driving on a suspended license, Las Vegas police said.

"Mr. Knight was unaware that there was any warrant," said Richard Schonfeld, Knight's attorney. "We will be addressing the circumstances in court."

If convicted, Knight, who has a prior conviction for assault with a deadly weapon, faces up to 30 years to life in state prison. Williams faces up to seven years in custody.

"Mr. Knight is kind of a magnet for trouble over time. Assault with a deadly weapon in his past, he’s a fugitive from justice, driving on a suspended license," NBC4 legal analyst Royal Oakes said. "As a result, if convicted of stealing a camera, he could go to prison for 30 years."

Oakes believes Knight and Williams' defense teams may also have a case.

“I would say this is a horrible misunderstanding. These paparazzo folks can be abusive and you can’t blame him for lashing out and trying to take the camera," Oakes said.

Knight, the former head of Death Row Records, was most recently made the news in August when he was one of three people wounded during an early morning shooting at a West Hollywood nightclub.

Williams is free on $75,000 bail. Knight is in Las Vegas awaiting extradition and considered a fugitive for crossing state lines. His bail is set at $1 million.  

Photo Credit: Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Off-Duty LAPD Officer Arrested in Lewd Act Case]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 12:22:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lagenerics-1-a-breaking-news-la-generic-graphic-april2014.gif

An off-duty LAPD officer faces a lewd act in public charge in connection with an indecent exposure arrest on a walking trail in Huntington Beach, authorities said.

Ryan Eric Galliher, 33, of Huntington Beach, was arrested on Thursday at 7:33 a.m. at Bolsa Chica Street, just south of Los Patos Avenue, officials said.

He was arrested while Huntington Beach police detectives were conducting surveillance as part of an investigation into reports of a male exposing himself over the last several months there, according to a press release from the Huntington Beach Police Department.

The incidents have occurred in the wetlands at the dead end of Bolsa Chica and involve several victims, police said.

Detectives saw the suspect commit a lewd act along an open pathway in the area.

There were no other victims in the area at the time besides the investigators.

The news shocked some Huntington Beach residents who use the trail.

Emily Sanders and her sister walk the trail almost every day.

"It is kind of an area that sometimes crime does take place -- just because it's secluded," Sanders said. "It's unfortunate, but he must need some help."

Holly Chandler, of Huntington Beach said it's fortunate that he was caught so he can't keep doing it to others.

"It's sad," she said. "There's obviously something going on."

Galliher was identified as an off-duty Los Angeles police officer assigned to the Southwest Division.

LAPD officials were notified and are cooperating in the investigation, Huntington Beach police said.

Police said they waited to release information about the arrest in order to give investigators time to conduct a follow-up investigation.

They have been working since his arrest contacting previous victims and attempting to identify additional victims.

Galliher was released from custody with a pending court date. He has been placed on administrative leave and assigned home pending the outcome of the investigation, LAPD officials said in a statement.

In addition to the criminal investigation, the LAPD initiated an administrative internal investigation.

Galliher was hired by the LAPD in November 2011 and was assigned to Southwest division patrol at the time of his arrest.

"It is appropriate that I reserve judgment on this matter until all of the facts have been gathered and the investigations have been completed," LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said in a statement. "However, let me be very clear, I will not tolerate any behavior that reflects negatively upon this department and tarnishes our relationship with our communities near or far."

Anyone that has any information or believes they are a victim of the suspect is asked to call the Huntington Beach police tip line at (714) 375-5066.

<![CDATA[Gunman Shot During Lawndale Standoff]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 02:50:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/141029-lawndale-gunman.jpg

A gunman was shot during a standoff with sheriff's deputies in Lawndale Wednesday afternoon, officials said.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said the man had died, but later issued a correction, saying that the gunman remained hospitalized in unknown condition.

The man, identified as 23-year-old Travis Herr, is expected to be okay. Herr faces charges of attempted murder on a peace officer.

Residents were evacuated as sheriff’s deputies responded to a 23-year-old man who barricaded himself inside a home with a gun.

There were multiple reports the man had fired a rifle at deputies.

Deputies were called to the area of 164th Street and Hawthorne Boulevard around 1 p.m., according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He was shot after he emerged from the house around 2:15 p.m.

He was treated at the scene before being taken to the hospital, where he was in stable condition.

It was not immediately known what led to the standoff.

Several area schools were placed on lockdown during the standoff.

<![CDATA[California Orders Risk-Based Ebola Quarantines]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 17:22:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/STANFORD-EBOLA-VO-okay---00002912.jpg

Anyone arriving in California from an area with an active Ebola outbreak and came into contact with someone who had the deadly virus must be quarantined for 21 days, the state’s Department of Public Health ordered Wednesday, the same day a Stanford doctor decided to put himself in voluntary quarantine after treating Ebola patients in Liberia.

Dr. Colin Bucks is healthy but will remain in isolation for a total of 21 days, San Mateo County health officials said. He is in isolation and avoiding all close contact with others, meaning he is not going to work at Stanford Medical Center, but he is allowed to leave his house to go jogging by himself.

Health officials said Bucks remains healthy, showing no signs of contracting the virus, and continues to take his temperature twice a day.

The California Department of Health released new regulations regarding the Ebola virus Wednesday morning.

How and where affected people will be quarantined will be left to each county’s public health officials, the order said. Anyone traveling from the affected areas will be initially screened by federal officials at the airport.

State officials are informed of anyone meeting the criteria threshold, and local departments will now be asked in turn asked to manage individual cases.

Observation, monitoring and possible restriction of travel and movement can be ordered.

“This tailored approach for each traveler, implemented through partnership between the California Department of Public Health and local health officers, respects the individual circumstances of each traveler while protecting and preserving the public health,” the agency said in a statement.

Currently, active areas include the West African countries of Guinea, Mali, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The order from Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the agency, also makes clear that failure to comply could result in misdemeanor criminal charges.

In Southern California, Riverside County's health department announced Tuesday that two people recently returned from West Africa but said they did not contact any patients and were being monitored for 21 days. They are considered low risk.

Orange County health officials are monitoring two recent travelers as well, according to the Orange County Register.

It’s critical to note, to date, there have been no reported cases of Ebola in California.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Man Arrested After Assaulting Woman He Met on Craigslist]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 15:55:03 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Craigslist-Robbery.jpg

A man accused of sexually assaulting three women he met through Craigslist may have attacked others in the community, Garden Grove police said.

The 31-year-old man, whose name has not yet been released by police, was arrested Tuesday after a woman reported that he assaulted her after she responded to an ad he had placed on the website seeking female companionship.

The two met in Garden Grove Monday night, and at some point during the evening he “engaged in an unwanted sexual act with the victim,” according to a statement.

Investigators say two other women have reported similar allegations against the same man, and believe there may be more victims.

Anyone who may have information, or who may have had a similar encounter in the area, is asked to call Investigator Steve Heine at 714-741-5422.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Tanker Strikes Overhead Sign on 210 Freeway]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 09:52:15 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/10-28-2014-tanker-crash-210-freeway.jpg

Lanes of the eastbound 210 Freeway were closed overnight in La Crescenta after a tanker  truck struck an overhead sign and left fuel and debris on the freeway.

The truck hauling empty tanks struck the sign at Pennsylvania Avenue at about 11 p.m. Tuesday and flipped over, according to the California Highway  Patrol. Fuel from the truck leaked onto the freeway, the CHP reported.

The eastbound side of the freeway was closed at Pennsylvania Avenue so  crews could clean up the spill and repair the overhead sign, the CHP reported. 

Two left lanes reopened early Wednesday. Other lanes reopened at about 7:30 a.m.

Photo Credit: RMG]]>
<![CDATA[SWAT Officer Shooting: "My Son Emanated Trust"]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 22:50:05 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/pomona+officer.jpg

The mother of a Pomona SWAT officer who died after he was struck by gunfire during a warrant operation described her son as a dedicated public servant who "emanated trust" and took care of whatever needed to be done.

Officer Shaun Diamond, 45, was pronounced dead overnight at a Pasadena hospital where he was admitted Tuesday in "extremely critical condition" after being shot during a motorcycle gang investigation Tuesday morning at a San Gabriel residence. Authorities announced early Wednesday that the 16-year veteran of law enforcement, who leaves behind a wife and two children, had died.

Police officers, deputies and other law enforcement personnel were outside the hospital Wednesday morning as Diamond's body was placed in a coroner's van. The procession continued on Huntington Drive, where other law enforcement and firefighting personnel stood in salute to honor a man whose mother described him as trustworthy, capable and caring.

"My son emanated trust," said Diamond's mother, Joy Diamond. "He was just this great big guy and you just knew he was going to take care of business.

"I'm lost."

Diamond always wanted to serve the community, which he did as a lifeguard before graduating from the policy academy. He wore the angel wings she gave him upon graduation on his uniform and often called -- sometimes at 3 a.m. -- to let her know he was all right, Joy Diamond said.

"The heart he gave away today -- pretty darned special," said Joy Diamond in reference to her son's organ donation.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Members of the department said they were touched by the outpouring of gratitude and support from other law enforcement agencies and the community.

"He's somebody that anybody would get along with," said Pomona Police Chief Paul J. Capraro during a news conference at the police station. "If you went steps from here, he worked the downtown area. If you went door-to-door and asked any of those people, they would tell you how they enjoyed working with him."

Capraro declined to answer questions about the SWAT operation and shooting, adding that the sheriff's department will handle the investigation. Diamond was shot just after 4 a.m. in the 100 block of San Marino Avenue while he was serving the search warrant as part of a multiple-location motorcycle gang investigation, police said.

Diamond was shot in the back of the head as he was "making entry" to the residence and was taken to Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena Tuesday where he underwent surgery and was in the intensive care unit for several hours before he died. Sheriff's department officials said he was met with gunfire almost immediately after making entry.

Alleged shooter David Martinez, 36, was arrested and being held in lieu of $4 million bail. Martinez has an extensive criminal history and is expected to be arraigned Thursday.

Other occupants were inside the home when the shooting happened. Pomona officers did not shoot back because Martinez's father was in the line of fire, according to authorities.

Diamond's mother, meanwhile, said she doesn't know if she'll ever be able to forgive her son's suspected killer.

"He killed my baby," she said, fighting back tears. "He's my child. And he'll never stop being my child."

The Pomona Police Officers' Association will be accepting donations on behalf of Diamond's family.

Pomona Police Officers' Association
174 W. McKinley Ave.
Pomona, CA 91767

Kim Baldonado contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Nurses Claim UC Hospitals Unprepared for Ebola]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 06:17:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/Ronald+Reagan+UCLA+Medical+Center.jpg

Registered nurses at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center are expected to hold a "speak out" Wednesday to voice concerns that the hospital is not properly equipped to deal with Ebola. 

The nurses believes that the UC hospitals that are now being promoted as priority hospitals for treating any potential Ebola patients in California are "far from prepared." A speak out is scheduled for 7 a.m. Wednesday at UCLA Medical Center.

The events have been organized by the California Nurses Association union and National Nurses United (NNU), which represent approximately 12,000 nurses. Similar speak outs were held at UC San Diego and UC San Francisco Tuesday.

Despite what nurses say, an official from the UC system went on the record Tuesday and said they are "far along" in their preparations, and measures are in place to deal with any cases.

Last week, officials said all five University of California medical centers are positioned to provide care for Californians with confirmed Ebola.

UCLA Registered Nurse Fong Chuu, who is a California Nurses Association board member, spoke out ahead of the event.

"Weeks after registered nurse, Nina Pham, was infected in Texas, the preparedness at our hospitals is still a work in progress. This is unacceptable," Chuu said.

The unions are calling for full-body hazmat suits that meet required standards for blood penetration, viral penetration and which leaves no skin exposed or unprotected, powered air purifying respirators with an assigned protection factor of at least 50 or higher, and at least two direct-care registered nurses caring for each Ebola patient.

They are also calling for extensive and continuous training for nursing personnel.

University of California health sciences and services head Dr. John Stobo insisted preparations were well under way. 

"We welcome constructive input from nurses, physicians and other staff as to how we might improve our preparedness," Stobo said.

NNU is demanding all hospitals implement the optimal standards in personal protective equipment and training protocols.

It is also calling on federal and state officials to mandate hospitals comply with the optimal protections for nurses, other frontline health workers, patients, and the general public.

"It is unconscionable that the hospitals do not have the optimal standards and protocols already in place to protect our caregivers," said RoseAnn DeMoro, NNU and CNA executive director.

Photo Credit: Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center]]>