<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - National & International News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/national-international http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Fri, 25 Jul 2014 08:15:03 -0700 Fri, 25 Jul 2014 08:15:03 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Church Member Behind Porcelain Dolls Outside Homes]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 08:00:18 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/209*120/San+Clemente+doll+4+%282%29.jpg

A Southern California woman who attends her Orange County community's church decided to clear out her doll collection and surprise her neighbors with the dolls, leaving some residents stumped and "disturbed" by a resemblance to some neighborhood children.

The slew of deliveries began July 16 with at least eight San Clemente families finding porcelain dolls on their doorsteps.

While residents said they felt creeped out and "disturbed" over fears someone was trying to scare the Talega neighborhood of San Clemente, investigators learned Thursday night that the woman's intentions were pure.

"The woman attended church with many of the impacted families," Orange County Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Hallock said.

The woman said she was clearing out an old doll collection and thought of some young girls in the neighborhood who might enjoy them, Hallock said.

It was not clear why the woman did not leave a note or tell the residents about the dolls.

Earlier Thursday, residents said they were afraid of the reason behind the toys.

"I'm actually thinking the worst, like someone creepy watching our children and I'm actually pretty scared about it," resident Mary Robin Baziak said. "(Someone) found a China doll on her stop that looked like her daughter."

"It's really creepy and disturbing. As a mom with a daughter, it freaks me out," another neighbor said. "Hopefully it's a prank and not someone with very bad motives."

Christina Cocca contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Hospital Shooting Suspect "Abusive"]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 07:51:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/191*120/RICHARD+PLOTTS.JPG

He's been called abusive by his ex-wife and crazy by his neighbors, and he's even served time for a Delaware bank robbery. But the latest crime Richard Plotts, 49, of Upper Darby, is accused of committing left his case worker dead, a doctor wounded and himself fighting for his life.

Police say Plotts opened fire Thursday in the psychiatric unit at the Sister Marie Lenahan Wellness Center in Darby, killing his 53-year-old case worker and wounding a doctor who fired back, critically injuring Plotts. He is in critical condition at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

"It doesn't surprise me at all," said former Crum Lynne neighbor Diane Clements. "He was a creep."

That's one of the nicer things said about Plotts.

His ex-wife, who asked to remain anonymous, told NBC10 her ex-husband was abusive, made threats on her life and acted violently toward her family.

"He was violent, physically and mentally," Plotts' ex said. "He has threatened to kill me. He's been violent to my family — parents, siblings — and he's just never been a very good person."

The couple's divorced was finalized in 1999, while Plotts served six years in prison for a Delaware bank robbery four years earlier.

While serving the remainder of his sentenced for the robbery -- three years supervised release -- he was arrested for possession of a firearm. His release was revoked and he was sent back to prison.

He was also arrested in the early 90s for trying to make a purchase at a John Wanamaker store with a stolen credit card, according to court records.

"He's a con artist," said his ex-wife. "He has psychiatric issues."

She did not elaborate on what those issues were, and details on his mental health were not immediately available.

"He was a goofball. He was crazy, and he had a girlfriend, and we used to hear him beating that girl up," Clements said.

Plotts was evicted from his home in the Kenneth House Apartments on West Chester Pike in Upper Darby about six months ago, according to a building maintenance man.

Cathy Nickels, his neighbor there, recalled the contentious way Plotts left after his eviction.

"As he was taken away in a van," she said, "he yelled, 'You haven't heard the end of me yet.'"

Photo Credit: Family Photo]]>
<![CDATA[Worker Stole Items From Military]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 07:27:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/James-Matthews.jpg

An employee at O’Hare International Airport was charged with theft after he allegedly stole items from military foot lockers that were meant to be shipped overseas.

James Matthews, 41, of Sauk Village, Illinois, was charged with two felony counts of theft, police announced early Friday.

Chicago police officers and the U.S. Postal Service Inspector saw Matthews taking mail, a military foot locker that contained a laptop, and other stolen items from flights to the post office just before 7 p.m. Wednesday, police said.

He is scheduled to appear in bond court Friday.

Photo Credit: Chicago Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Doctor in Psych Unit Shootout Released from Hospital]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 07:34:24 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/191*120/RICHARD+PLOTTS.JPG

The doctor shot during a gunfight with a psychiatric patient inside a Delaware County wellness center has been released from the hospital.

Dr. Lee Silverman told county investigators he acted in self defense when he returned fire at 49-year-old Richard Plotts inside a small, third floor office at Mercy-Fitzgerald Hospital's Sister Marie Lenahan Wellness Center in Darby, Pa. on Thursday afternoon.

Plotts, a patient of Silverman's psychiatric unit, had come to meet with the doctor along with his case worker, 53-year-old Theresa Hunt, when an argument broke out. Officials say Plotts then pulled out a gun and held both Silverman and Hunt hostage before opening fire.

Hunt was killed, officials said. Silverman was grazed in the head by bullets before grabbing his own pistol and shooting Plotts three times in the stomach and arm. Nearby doctors and case workers, who witnessed the standoff, then rushed into the room and wrestled the gun away from the suspect.

Both Silverman and Plotts were taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania's trauma center in Philadelphia. Silverman was released late Thursday night, according to the Delaware County District Attorney's Office.

Plotts, however, remains in critical, but stable condition after emergency surgery, officials said.

Detectives are still trying to piece together what sparked Plotts, who has a well-documented troubled past, to pull out a gun and fire.

Plotts' ex-wife, who spoke to NBC10.com on the condition of anonymity, described the man as an abusive con-artist who served time in prison for fraud and a bank robbery. Records show he also violated his parole several years ago by possessing a firearm. It is unclear how he obtained the weapon allegedly used in Thursday's shooting.

Photo Credit: Family Photo]]>
<![CDATA[Wanted Man Taunts Police Online, Gets Arrested the Next Day]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 08:14:33 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/roger+ray+ireland.jpg

An Edgewater, Maryland, man was arrested for violating his probation one day after he taunted Anne Arundel County officers on Facebook.

Anne Arundel County Police posted a picture of Roger Ray Ireland on their Facebook page Wednesday as part of the "Wanted Wednesday" campaign.

Shortly after the post was published, police say Ireland commented on his own mugshot, writing, "Y'all will never catch me..."

Well, it looks like they did.

After getting a few tips from the public, officers say Ireland was taken into custody during a traffic stop in South Baltimore on Thursday. 

"Social Media is a great tool for law enforcement and we appreciate our Social Media Sleuths," Police Chief Kevin Davis said in a release.  

<![CDATA[USC Graduate Student Found Dead After Attack]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:42:09 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/usc+student+xinran+ji1.JPG

A USC graduate student was found dead Thursday morning after he was attacked by three people as he walked home from an off-campus study group hours earlier, police said.

The 24-year-old student was attacked about 12:45 a.m. when he was "struck with an unknown blunt object," Los Angeles police said Thursday afternoon.

After the attack near 29th Street and Orchard Avenue, the student was able to walk home, leaving a trail of blood to his apartment about a block from the USC campus. His roommate found him dead inside about 7 a.m., police said.

He was identified by USC as Xinran Ji, whose family is in China. USC officials said they had spoken with the victim's family and they are making arrangements for them to travel to Los Angeles.

The campus community was on edge as they tried to figure out what happened to a fellow student.

"I live on the same floor that they found the body," one student said. "I still don't want to go back. I haven't been back to my apartment all day."

In a letter to the USC community, school officials said the engineering and graduate student died at his apartment north of the campus, near 30th Street and Vermont Avenue.

"Mr. Ji joined the school in the Fall of 2013 and was a beloved member of the Viterbi community and the Trojan Family," USC Dean Yannis C. Yortsos said in a statement. "As a Dean and Professor but also as a Viterbi parent, this news hits me very deeply."

School officials said there was no apparent threat to the campus community, but students were still concerned.

"It certainly raises questions about student safety," student Anshu Siripurapu said. "You're usually not out of, you know, eyesight of a private security officer, which is why it's shocking that this happened here and there haven't been any witnesses. It definitely has shaken my confidence a bit."

Police said they do not yet know a motive in the attack and are gathering security footage from the area. Investigators said they are searching for a dark colored compact sedan.

Robert Kovacik contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Xinran Ji/LinkedIn]]>
<![CDATA[What to Know About the Immigration Crisis]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 08:02:09 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/450883216.jpg

The news that thousands of unaccompanied children are crossing the U.S. border is just making headlines, but the surge has been happening for months, even years. President Obama is asking Congress for $3.7 billion to tackle the issue, which has become a flashpoint in the debate over immigration.

The number of children has overwhelmed the U.S. immigration system, which faces a backlog of hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants, according to The Associated Press.

President Barack Obama says that violent crime is driving migrants north, while Republicans blame Obama’s policies, saying they have given migrants an incentive to come.

Here’s what you should know about the crisis.

How Many Kids Are Trying to Cross the Border Alone

Since October, more than 57,000 children have been caught traversing the U.S.-Mexico border without an adult. That’s more than double the number in 2012 and triple the number in 2011, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The U.S. Border Patrol was already noticing an increase in children coming up from Central America in the fall of 2011. Most of the apprehended children are between 14 and 18-years-old, according to the Women's Refugee Commission.

Three-fourths of the kids caught since October have traveled over 1,000 miles — by car, train, raft and foot — from the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. The rest are from neighboring Mexico, according to Border Patrol data.

Making the trek is uncertain and dangerous. Smugglers, or coyotes, charge up to $10,000 for each child, according to The Associated Press. These smugglers may take the children’s money and run, or worse, assault or traffic them. The journey is also physically challenging, with dense forests, dry deserts and rugged mountains along the way. One stretch of land in Texas is referred to as the "killing fields."

Migrant children aren't just traveling to the U.S. All of Central America is seeing an increase. Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Belize jointly documented a 712 percent increase in the number of people seeking asylum from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, according to the Washington Office on Latin America.

Why They Left Central America

The mass migration is chiefly caused by three things: gang-related violence, poverty and rumors that migrant children will be welcomed to the U.S. if they make it to the border.

Violence. A good portion of the drug trade is now in Central America and plenty of gangs capitalize on this. Incompetent police forces do little to stop them. Children are actively recruited as "foot soldiers" for cartels. These gangs give children an ultimatum: work in the drug trade or face death. Honduras’ homicide rate was 90 killed per 100,000 people in 2012. That’s the worst in the world and six times the global average. Guatemala and El Salvador aren't far behind.

Gangs run rampant in these countries, and many children find themselves in the crossfire. It is not uncommon for children to arrive at hospitals riddled with bullets. Fifty-eight percent of children migrating north are motivated by violent conditions in their home country, according to a report by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Trust in the police is low in the children's countries of origin. In many places, gangs and police are intertwined. "You never know who is who," several migrant children told the Immigration Policy Center.

Poverty. Nearly two-thirds of the Honduran population lives below the poverty line, according to UNICEF. One in three infants is malnourished, and most kids in rural areas will only get four years of schooling on average. Guatemala's poverty rate is 26 percent. In El Salvador 17 percent of the population is living on less than $2 a day, according to the World Bank.

Rumors. The recent surge may have its roots in rumors that a change in U.S. immigration policy means any child who crosses the border can stay. This is a false belief, according to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. Children who arrived after 2007 are not eligible for deferred deportations or a path to citizenship. A Border Patrol report that was leaked in June says families' misconception that they will obtain "permisos" when they arrive in the U.S. is driving most migration, according to Vox.com. They believe "permisos" means work permit, but it's actually a notice to appear in immigration court.

• Family. Over a third of Central American children who traveled to the U.S. alone were looking to reunite with one or both parents. It is common for relatives to send children north to reunite with family members, who also have questionable legal status, according to a report by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

What Caused the Crisis

In addition to the violence and poverty in Central America, some have said the U.S. government is at the root of the influx, particularly policies put forth by the last two presidents.

Obama's order. Republicans have blamed the Obama administration for the rumors, saying that poor policy and communication has led migrants to believe they can stay, according to the Los Angeles Times. They say the president has been weak at enforcing border policy and that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was authored by the Obama administration in 2012 and gives some undocumented migrants temporary legal status, has given Central American families a false hope.

Bush's law. A bipartisan law that President George W. Bush signed in 2008, known as the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, seeks to combat sex trafficking by granting protections to children traveling alone from countries that are not Mexico or Canada. Under the law, unaccompanied children can’t be hastily sent back and are instead allowed an immigration hearing and must be handed over to the Department of Health and Human Services. The Obama administration said the law is partly to blame for the crisis, according to The New York Times. The White House and Republicans are both looking for ways to adjust the law's requirements to make it easier for children to be returned to their home countries.

Where the Migrants Arrive and What Happens When They Get Here

The crisis is happening all along the United States’ Southwest border. The greatest number of migrants are entering through southern Texas, where there has been a 178 percent change in the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border from 2013 to 2014, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Border patrol agents in Texas are overwhelmed and facilities are brimming with migrant children.

The city of Murrieta, California, made national headlines after protesters blocked buses carrying undocumented children and families to immigration processing facilities in Southern California. Overcrowded facilities in Texas looked to ease the burden by sending some migrants there. About 140 migrants ended up in San Diego.

More recently demonstrators on both sides were out in Oracle, Arizona, waiting for unaccompanied children they thought were about to be transferred to a camp there. The children never arrived though anti-immigration protestors briefly halted a bus carrying other children from a YMCA, according to The Associated Press. The Sycamore Canyon Academy in Oracle told NBC News that it had been asked by the federal government to provide shelter temporarily for a small number of children.

When migrant children are apprehended by Customs and Border Protection they are held in a detention center — usually a sterile place that resembles a warehouse. They will remain there until they are transferred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement's Division of Children Services (ORR/DCS). These facilities range from group homes to juvenile detention centers that are locked and surrounded by barbed wire.

Children stay at ORR/DCS facilities for an average of 55 days while authorities attempt to locate a parent or guardian. If none can be found, the child remains in DCS custody for the entirety of her immigration case. Ultimately, she will either end up with her parents or foster parents in the U.S. or be sent back to the country she came from.

What's Being Done About the Influx of People

More cash. The White House is asking Congress for more than $3.7 billion to address the wave of migration. Most of that cash would go to the Department of Health and Human Services, while Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection would also get a share. Almost $300 million would go towards efforts to “repatriate and reintegrate migrants to Central America.” The request must pass both houses of Congress, though, and it's not clear how, or whether, the GOP-led House will vote.

More shelters. Immigration officials are scrambling to find more shelter space for new arrivals. Dallas County in Texas agreed to shelter 2,000 children if the federal government foots the bill. Hospitals and schools no longer in use are among the buildings that could possibly house the children.

Foster care. Organizations and families in parts of Texas and the Southwest are taking up kids, particularly those who have no family in the U.S. or no safe places to return to in their home countries.

Programs in Central America. The Obama administration has earmarked $300 million for programs in Central America to boost the quality of life of people and address the underlying root causes that are driving migration. It hopes to do this by improving economic and security conditions and helping migrants reintegrate into their communities instead of returning north.

Ad campaigns. U.S. officials are trying to counter the flow of migrants with a Spanish-language ad campaign that looks to frighten them from coming in the first place. The ads warn that smugglers are criminals who could subject migrants to violence, sexual assault, sex trafficking or forced labor.

Border security. Some in Congress, especially Republicans, have said the focus should be on strengthening border security. Texas Gov. Rick Perry told a congressional committee that unaccompanied kids should be deported immediately to show the U.S. is serious about enforcement. Advocates for migrants have criticized the Obama administration, saying that future funding should go to ensuring migrant children with legitimate claims of asylum see their day in court, not border security.

What's Next

As protests continue and politicians try to figure out the best way to tackle the crisis, migrant children keep pouring in. The Obama administration expects the number of migrant children arriving in the U.S. to rise to 90,000 by September 2014. While visiting Texas, President Obama urged Congress to approve the $3.7 billion he asked for to help deal with the surge.

A first group of about 40 undocumented immigrants, including children, were returned to Honduras from New Mexico, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The group had been staying at a temporary detention center. Homeland Security officials told NBC News that the flight was just the start of deportations. "We expect additional migrants will be returned to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador in the coming days and weeks," one official said.

Meanwhile Las Vegas became the latest city to announce that its police department would no longer honor requests from federal officials to detain undocumented immigrants without a court order or arrest warrant. It joins Philadelphia, Chicago, Newark, N.J., and nearly all major urban centers in California.

Officials at the United Nations want many of the people fleeing Central America to be treated as refugees displaced by armed conflict. This designation would increase pressure on the U.S. and Mexico to accept tens of thousands of people currently ineligible for asylum, according to The Associated Press.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Women Convicted in Nightclub Beating Death]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 20:43:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/01-santaana.jpg

Two women were convicted of voluntary manslaughter Thursday in the beating death of a 23-year-old woman outside a Santa Ana nightclub.

Vanesa Tapia Zavala, 26, and Candace Marie Brito, 27, were also found guilty of assault with force to produce great bodily injury in Annie Hung "Kim" Pham's fatal beating, but were acquitted of felony second-degree murder.

They each face up to 11 years in prison.

The two are accused of killing Pham by kicking her in the head as she was on the ground fighting their friend outside the Crosby Restaurant and Nightclub on Jan. 19, officials said.

Friends of Pham told police that three women attacked her without provocation after the two groups bumped into each other outside the nightclub. Another witness said Pham instigated the fight by shouting obscenities and throwing the first punch after she and her friends bumped into another group exiting the bar.

Portions of the attack were captured on cellphone video as the victim's friends and a security guard unsuccessfully attempted to intervene, officials said.

Pham was hospitalized after the attack and taken off life support Jan. 21.


<![CDATA[Dead Intruder Who Said She Was Pregnant ID'd]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 05:43:45 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LB+Intruder+Female+Solo+2.jpg

Police on Thursday identified a suspected burglar who told a homeowner she was pregnant before he fatally shot her outside his home in Long Beach.

Tom Greer appeared to have no regret when he told NBC4 Wednesday night that he shot the woman twice in the back with his .22-caliber Smith and Wesson revolver as she was fleeing with a male accomplice.

The woman was identified as Andrea Miller, 28, from Long Beach. The male suspect was identified as Gus Adams, 26, of Long Beach. Adams was booked into jail on a robbery and murder charge, Long Beach police said in a press release.

"She says, 'Don't shoot me, I'm pregnant -- I'm going to have a baby.' And I shot her anyway," Greer said. "The lady didn't run as fast as the man so I shot her in the back twice, she's dead ... but he got away."

There was no immediate confirmation of the pregnancy, but the Los Angeles County coroner's office planned to perform an autopsy on the woman on Friday, said Ed Winter, of the coroner's office.

Long Beach police said they are investigating whether Greer should face charges for Tuesday night's shooting in the 3900 block of Country Club Drive.

Even though the woman was running away, Greer said he regards what he did as self-defense.

He said he arrived at home Tuesday night to find a couple in the middle of a late-night break-in when they attacked him.

"When I went in there, they tackled me," Greer told NBC4. "Both of them jumped up on top of me."

At one point, Miller stopped hitting Greer to help Adams break into a safe, police said.

While the suspects ransacked his home, Greer got his gun from another room, returned to confront them and fired his gun while they were still inside his house, police said.

Both suspects ran out, making off with items taken during the burglary. Greer followed them as they ran out and fired again.

Miller was struck by gunfire, fell in the alley, and died, authorities said. Adams got away, but was captured later.

The surviving suspect was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of residential burglary and murder, McDonnell said. The murder charge, which will be considered by the district attorney, is possible because Adams is accused of being involved in a felony that led to a death, McDonnell said. 

It was not immediately clear whether Adams hired an attorney.

Greer told detectives he believes the suspects broke into his home and stole cash and property three times before, police said. Greer's estranged wife, Dorothy, said on Thursday one of the burglaries happened while she was at home. She saw her jewelry stolen.

But she never expected such violence.

"It's scary," she said. "Either way it goes, it's scary. It was just a bad situation, all the way around."

Greer was treated at a hospital Wednesday for a severe shoulder and collarbone injury.

Photo Credit: Long Beach Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Man Mistakenly Shot at in Dorner Manhunt to Get $1.8M]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:42:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Perdue+Still.jpg

A Southern California man mistakenly shot at by police officers during the manhunt for a murderous ex-LAPD officer on a rampage last year will receive $1.8 million in a settlement with the city of Torrance.

David Perdue, 39, and his wife, of Redondo Beach, filed an excessive force lawsuit against the city in June 2013, alleging two Torrance police officers rammed their car into Perdue's truck and shot at him Feb. 7, 2013 while he was on his way to go surfing.

The settlement with the city of Torrance and Officers Brian McGee and Erin Sooper was reached last month, but the amount of the cash payout was confirmed Thursday by Torrance police Sgt. Chris Roosen.

"We are grateful to the city of Torrance and to the attorneys representing the city of Torrance for their consummate professionalism throughout these proceedings," said Robert Sheahen, Perdue's attorney.

None of the bullets struck the 39-year-old Perdue, who had previously been stopped and cleared by other officers, according to the lawsuit, which was filed after he failed to reach a settlement with the city.

Perdue says he suffered a concussion when his truck's airbag opened and has lingering physical and emotional problems as a result of what happened to him that day.

Authorities said that the ex-LAPD Officer, Christopher Dorner, killed four people --  a Riverside police officer, a San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy and the daughter of a former LAPD captain and her fiance -- during a rampage fueled by his anger over being fired from the Los Angeles force several years ago.

The disgruntled ex-cop's remains were found inside a burned-out Big Bear cabin after a shootout with law enforcement, culminating a nearly week-long manhunt for the fugitive.

<![CDATA[22-Year-Old Murders Mother: Police]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:40:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/orange+homicide+mug.jpg

A 22-year-old man in Orange, Connecticut, accused of murdering his own mother at their home Thursday afternoon has been arrested, police say.

Police say Timothy Granata killed his mother, Claudia Granata, 58, around 2 p.m. Thursday in their home on Wild Rose Drive. Police said family members called 911 to report the murder.

Emergency responders found Claudia Granata's body inside the house, and she was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. The state medical examiner will perform an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Timothy Granata was found near the home and was unarmed, police said. He was taken into custody and is being held overnight at police headquarters.

According to police, Timothy Granata lived at the home with his mother, father and two siblings.

The Yale School of Medicine Web site and other online records, including his LinkedIn page, list Dr. Attilio Granata, Timothy's father, as a professor who has spent 30 years teaching at the university and practicing medicine at hospitals along the shoreline.

A New York Times story published in 1984 to announce the marriage of Attilio and Dr. Claudia Dinan says both husband and wife graduated from the Yale School of Medicine. The couple married at Yale and said Claudia Granata would retain her maiden name professionally.

Timothy Granata charged with murder and is due in court tomorrow morning. His bond was set at $2 million.

Orange police and the State Police Central District Major Crime Squad are investigating. It's the first homicide in Orange since 1992.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com/Orange Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Husband Killed Rookie Cop, Burned Home in Cover-Up Attempt: Police]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:57:55 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LAURA-PEREZ3.jpg

A California man is in custody, accused in the death of his wife, who was a young mother and rookie Escondido Police officer.

According to Murrieta Police, Freddy Perez-Rodas told homicide investigators Thursday that he killed Officer Laura Perez and burned their home in an attempt to cover up the crime.

Hours earlier, firefighters arrived at the couple’s home on Grand Oaks Court for a house fire. It was just before 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and fire crews found no victims inside the home. When they responded to the fire, they did find Rodas, who reported that his wife was inside.

Fire investigators responded and "it was determined to be an arson immediately," said Murrietta Police Lt. Tony Conrad.

In addition to determining it was an arson, investigators discovered it was the same address connected to a missing person, 25-year-old Laura Perez.

Less than two hours later, homicide investigators arrested Perez-Rodas who had reported the house fire.

It was during questioning early Thursday that investigators learned the slain Escondido officer had been shot in the chest three times, her body moved to a storage locker in Moreno Valley.

Investigators were at All-Size Storage in Moreno Valley early Thursday morning and had closed off the business until 3 p.m.

Officials said that after Perez-Rodas led investigators to his wife’s body, he was booked on charges of murder, arson and child endangerment.

The couple has a 4-year-old child who was not injured, officials said.

Investigators also said they had recovered the weapon used in the alleged crime.

Laura Perez joined the Escondido Police Department in October 2013. The department had a flag-lowering ceremony in her honor Thursday evening.

Escondido Police Chief Craig Carter described Perez as "a wonderful officer who had a bright future."

"It's never an easy thing. We're going to be one day at a time, " Carter said. "I'm encouraging officers to remember we're here for the victim, which in this case is Laura. For every Laura, there's hundreds out there and we need to continue to do our job."

A department spokesperson said Perez' death is the first violent death of an Escondido police officer on the job or off duty.

Chief Carter will speak  at 1:30 p.m. Friday at the Escondido Police Fire and Headquarters in the community room. NBC 7 will live stream the news conference.

Download the free NBC 7 mobile app to get alerts for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 ]]>
<![CDATA[Patient Kills Case Worker: DA]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 05:21:14 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/226*120/mercy+fitzgerald+hospital+shooting+33.JPG

A female case worker was killed and a doctor shot when a psychiatric patient opened fire on them Thursday in a wellness center on the campus of a Delaware County, Pennsylvania, hospital, officials say.

Officials say that patient was then shot by the doctor, who returned fire from his own gun.

The shootout took place around 2:20 p.m. Thursday inside a doctor's office in the psychiatric unit at the Sister Marie Lenahan Wellness Center, officials say. The center is located along the 1500 block of Lansdowne Avenue in Darby, Pa. That's located across from Mercy-Fitzgerald hospital, on its campus.

The gunman, identified as Richard Plotts, of Upper Darby, had come to the unit with his caseworker, 53-year-old Theresa Hunt of Philadelphia, according to Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan. They then went behind closed doors in a doctor's third floor office when a confrontation occurred.

“A worker did confirm that he heard some loud arguing going on. They came in and they actually opened the door and saw him pointing a gun at the doctor. They did not notice the case worker at that point. They shut the door very quietly and one immediately called 911," Whelan said.

The DA said a short time went by and then gunfire erupted from Plotts' gun. Plotts has had run-ins with the doctor's and hospital staff in the past, Whelan said.

Both the doctor, identified as Dr. Lee Silverman, and the case worker were hit by the gunfire. The woman was fatally shot in the small office, and the doctor was grazed in the head, Whelan said.

Silverman also pulled out his weapon and fired upon the suspect, the preliminary investigation showed. Plotts was hit three times in the torso, Whelan said.

Other doctors and case workers then rushed into the room and tackled the man to the ground, wrestling with him for the weapon.

“We’re not exactly sure what had occurred and what might have precipitated this particular incident," Whelan said. "We do know the psychiatric connection, we have that concern, however we don’t know if there was another dispute that occurred inside that room that led to these shots being fired."

Both Plotts and Silverman were taken to the trauma center at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in nearby Philadelphia. The suspect is in surgery and is listed in critical condition, Whelan said. The doctor's condition has not been released.

Officials say a 911 call came in at 2:19 p.m. with the caller saying a doctor had been shot. The center and hospital was quickly placed on lockdown as police swarmed the campus.

Allen Williams was checking in his father for an X-ray on the center's ground floor when the shooting happened.

"As we were giving the information, they said the hospital is on lockdown and they locked out the doors. They told us to sneak out the back door," he said. “I was hoping everyone was going to get out safe."

Williams slowly led his father, who uses a walker, in a group of 15 people onto a grassy area outside the building. He says police kept them at the scene as they checked the building.

Police arrived within minutes and evacuated the entire wellness center as SWAT officers swept the building as a precaution.

The Sister Marie Lenahan Wellness Center has physician offices and offers outpatient services for ambulatory care, audiology, cardiac rehabilitation, radiology and hearing and balance, according to the health system's website.

Late Thursday night, Mercy Fitzgerald released this statement regarding the deadly shooting:

"We continue to pray for the victims and their families. As this is an ongoing investigation, we remain focused on working with the Delaware County Police Departments to understand fully the details of the event and to do all we can to assist those affected.

We are thankful for the responders to this incident, the many law enforcement professionals who are a part of the investigation, and the outpouring of support we have received from our community."

A large police presence from Yeadon, Haverford Township and other Delaware County law enforcement agencies remained at the scene for hours as the crime scene was processed.

Contact Vince Lattanzio at 610.668.5532, vince.lattanzio@nbcuni.com or follow @VinceLattanzio on Twitter.

<![CDATA[SUV Slams Boy on Bike Through Bronx Storefront]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:02:20 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/boy+on+bike+hit+suv.jpg

Surveillance video capturing a horrifying crash that sent a boy on his bicycle flying through a Bronx storefront has bolstered neighbors' calls for increased traffic safety measures in the area, and the city is promising changes.

Video of the May 10 crash obtained exclusively by NBC 4 New York shows a black SUV veering across a median near White Plains Road and Watson Avenue, slamming up onto the sidewalk and plowing the boy through the plate glass of a barber shop. (Warning: Video above may be shocking to some.)

The boy, 12-year-old Abraham Al-Saidi, recalled: "I got hit hard."

Abraham said he was in such shock and that "it didn't hurt that much because I didn't feel it, because it came right away."

It's not clear what caused the driver to go across the road so suddenly, whether she was going too fast or trying to make a U-turn.

Crossing guard Glady Valdez, who's worked at the nearby intersection for 20 years, says traffic in the area has always been "very dangerous." 

"Sometimes I fear for my life," she said. 

Mark Solomon, the barbershop owner who witnessed the crash, thinks the road is so dangerous because "everybody is trying to beat the light."

The city acknowledges that White Plains and Watson, just yards from where Abraham was hit, was identified as a "high-crash corridor with the amount of severe crashes and fatalities ranking in the top of 10 percent of all Bronx corridors." 

The city sent the local community board a poster highlighting eight fatalities, 27 severe injuries per mile and 230 total injuries on that stretch of road since 2007.

Under Mayor de Blasio's new Vision Zero traffic safety plan, the city has lowered the speed limit to 25 miles per hour and will add turning lanes this fall.

Abraham's lawyer said the changes, while set in motion some time ago, didn't come in time to protect the boy.

"It's always good to improve safety for the lives of the people in the neighborhood and the lives of the people in the city," said Micah Kwasnik. "Unfortunately, it's a little late." 

The boy's family has filed a notice of claim against the city.

<![CDATA[Boy, 3, Drowns in Staten Island Day Care Pool: Police]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 04:53:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/161*120/IMG-20140724-12257.jpg

A 3-year-old boy drowned in a pool at a Staten Island day care center Thursday, police say.

The boy somehow got into the above-ground pool in the backyard of the Mothers Byrd Day Care Center on Maple Parkway center in Mariners Harbor around 5:30 p.m., according to police. The day care center appears to be run out of a home.

Police sources said the gate leading to the pool was locked, and the child accessed the pool by climbing on top of boxes.

Emergency responders rushed the child, identified as Edward Harris, of Staten Island, to Richmond University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Neighbors said they were heartbroken by what appeared to be a tragic accident.

"It's summertime and everything, and for a kid to drown, it's scary," said Eduardo Tapia.

John Blanchard said, "You gotta watch your kids, especially these days. Anything can happen." 

State records show the day care center was first licensed in November 2007, and is registered to run through November 2015. It can hold up to 12 children from 6 weeks old to 12 years old.

It was last inspected in December 2013, and there are currently no uncorrected violations, records show. The day care is registered to Sherrie M. Byrd. No one answered at the phone number listed for Byrd, and the home was blocked off by police Thursday night.

-- Brynn Gingras contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Mother Drowns Trying to Save Boy]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 07:43:25 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/karen_wessel.jpg

An Illinois woman died Tuesday after trying to save a 9-year-old boy in a northern Wisconsin Lake.

Authorities say the victim, 47-year-old Karen Wessel, of Arlington Heights, was on vacation with her sister, a friend and four children in Star Lake when they decided to go for a swim.

Three of the boys swam across a channel to a sandbar, but when they started heading back, they got tired and started to struggle.

Wessel's sister, Janice Potocki, and her friend, Karen Altamore, swam out to assist two of the boys and swam back to shore. Potocki went back out to help the third boy, but Wessel also went out to assist when she noticed her sister getting tired.

Wessel swam underneath the boy to try to push him above the water's surface, but witnesses told authorities that after a short time, Wessel didn't come back up.  

A person in a pontoon boat rescued the boy from the water, but wasn't able to get to Wessel soon enough. Despite several efforts to perform CPR, she was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Potocki spoke to NBC 5 Wednesday night about her beloved sister who she calls a true hero.

"The world needs heroes, and I'm sorry it was my sister, but the world needs them," Potocki said.

Potocki said Star Lake was a familiar place that the family visited many times.

"That's where you went to unplug and disconnect and find yourself again, relax and realize what's truly important in life," Potocki said.

Wessel, a single mother of two, was active in the Arlington Heights School District 25.

Superintendent Lori D. Bein issued a statement saying they are "saddened" to hear about the tragedy.

"Karen Wessel has been known as a positively involved parent, volunteering at school and with the ABC/25 Foundation. I know the wonderful families and staff in Arlington Heights District 25 will offer whatever support the family and community need," Bein said.

Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

<![CDATA[Sick Boy Becomes Cop for a Day]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 19:35:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Adam-Broderson.jpg

One suburban Chicago police department had a new top cop on Wednesday.

Adam Broderson -- a 7-year-old boy with a heart defect -- was named sergeant by the Buffalo Grove Police Department for a day, and got to hang out with the other members of the force.

Adam dreams of one day growing up to be a police officer, but has already had to tough out several surgeries during his short life due to a rare heart condition that left him with only one working ventricle.

His day on the force was a surprise, and the young boy suited up for SWAT training, patrolled the village with his partner and even got to catch a bad guy in a simulated arrest.

He even got to train at the shooting range, which wasn't the favorite part of his day because of the noise.

The police department set up Adam's special day after seeing a letter he wrote in school.

Adam's parents say after suffering through three major heart surgeries, getting to live out his dream was the chance of a lifetime.

<![CDATA[Man Hanged Dog, Set House Fire: PD]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 19:24:22 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Fire-Generic.jpg

A New Jersey man allegedly involved in a domestic dispute hanged his family dog before setting fire to his home, police say.

The Press of Atlantic City reports that 29-year-old Janrv Bacolod is accused of using an accelerant and setting fire to several parts of his Holly Street home in Mays Landing last Friday.

Several cats inside the home were killed, according to The Press of AC.

Prior to setting the blaze, police say Bacolod hanged his dog.

Police records show that the suspect's estranged wife had a restraining order against him. They say he violated that order when he called her at work and threatened her.

Bacolod is being held on $100,000 bail, according to the paper.


Photo Credit: Associated Press]]>
<![CDATA[Obama Motorcade Delays Pregnant Woman]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 19:27:54 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/202*120/pregnant+woman+obama+motorcade+cedars+sinai.PNG

A pregnant woman was stopped from crossing a Los Angeles street Wednesday afternoon because the road was closed for President Barack Obama’s motorcade.

NBC4 anchor/reporter Robert Kovacik witnessed the woman take shelter at a bus stop bench on the south side of Third Street east of Robertson Boulevard and across from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

The pregnant woman was with her spouse at the time. Witnesses and two LAPD officers on scene said they believe the woman was in labor and told NBC4 an ambulance was called to the location as a precaution.

NBC4 talked to the woman on the scene, and she asked not to be shown on camera. She was out of breath and appeared to be in active labor.

Police on the scene tell NBC4 there were two medical emergencies during the president’s motorcade, the woman’s pregnancy and a man having post-surgical problems.

Kovacik shot video on his cellphone of the woman sitting at a bus stop bench and posted it to his Instagram account.

Read: Man Accused of Killing Daughter, Wife Found Nearly 20 Years Later Living With New Family

Kovacik questioned LAPD Sgt. Kurt Smith at the scene.

"As soon as we can, looks like the motorcade is coming through right about now," the LAPD officer responded. "We’ll be able to open it up for traffic and first we’ll thing we’ll try to get to will be an ambulance, but I can’t guarantee ... the time on that," the officer said.

Obama was in Los Angeles Wednesday afternoon for a 24-hour visit that included two political fundraisers and a speech at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College. Wednesday's fundraisers included a stop at the Hancock Park home of television producer Shonda Rhimes.

Several street closures were announced before the visit.

According to witness Carrie Clifford, the woman waited at least 30 minutes before she could cross the street, she told The Blaze. Clifford tweeted updates and pictures from the location, including: "Ironically, Obama is going to @shondarhimes. This could be #GreysAnatomy - woman in labor can't get to Cedars cuz of O."

The White House has not responded to a request for comment. A spokesman for the Secret Service said the incident is under investigation by the LAPD.

"The Secret Service works closely with state and local police counterparts in planning for and conducting motorcade movements of our protectees," Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said in an email. "It is always our policy to prepare for and facilitate medical emergencies, medical flights, ambulances etc. in the fastest and safest way possible."

NBC4's Jonathan Lloyd contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Robert Kovacik]]>
<![CDATA[Dramatic Photos: The Conflict in Gaza]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:30:59 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP15942191905.jpg The violence in Gaza between Israel and Hamas continues to escalate despite international calls for a cease-fire.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Soldier Breaks NYSE Gavel]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 13:50:16 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Ryan-Pitts-Opening-Bell.jpg Watch what happened when Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts marked the opening of Wall Street on Wednesday, July 23.]]> <![CDATA[President Obama Talks Middle Class at LA College]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 21:28:22 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/200*120/lax+obama+af+1.jpg

President Barack Obama focused on the economy, jobs and growing the middle class during a speech at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College on Thursday as he wrapped up a 24-hour visit to Los Angeles.

While speaking to the college-aged crowd, Obama took swipes at Congress for not helping middle-class Americans' quality of life.

"The hardest thing in politics is to change a stubborn status quo," Obama said.

Obama started his day at a fundraiser at the Brentwood home of Michael Rapino, the CEO of concert promotion behemoth Live Nation, according to City News Service. The cost for a ticket to the roundtable discussion was a hefty one, reaching $32,4000, the maximum allowable contribution to a national party in a calendar year.

Read: Obamas Buying $4.25 Million Home in California's Rancho Mirage: Report

Following the fundraiser, Obama made a surprise stop at Canter's Deli in the Fairfax area. There he met with four people who wrote him letters, according to the White House.

The president spoke at the  Los Angeles Trade-Technical College in South Los Angeles because it was awarded a Department of Labor skills training grant, which funds projects that train workers to obtain or upgrade employment in high-growth sectors.

Pro-immigration and pro-Palestinian groups were expected to protest outside the college campus, calling for an end to deportations of immigrants, the creation of a Palestinian state and for the U.S. to demand Israel end attacks on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Southern California is the last stop on Obama's three-day West Coast trip, which began Tuesday in Seattle. Obama began Wednesday in San Francisco, where he attended a morning fundraiser benefiting the House Majority Political Action Committee, before arriving at Los Angeles International Airport around 3 p.m.

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Once in LA, Obama stopped in Hancock Park at the home of television producer Shonda Rhimes for a DNC fundraising reception.

Obama is expected to head back to Washington, D.C. following after his speech. Until then, Southland residents could expect traffic delays.

Drivers were urged to avoid the following areas:

  • Beverly Boulevard and North Doheny Drive from 4 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Grand Avenue and West Washington Boulevard from 4 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Sunset Boulevard and Mandeville Canyon Road from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
  • Sunset Boulevard and Barrington Avenue from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Figueroa Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.


Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Accused Killer Found After 20 Years]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 11:49:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/honsch+family.jpg

Almost 20 years after the body of a 17-year-old girl was discovered behind a Connecticut shopping plaza, police have identified the slain teen and charged her father with murdering her and her mother.

Robert Honsch had moved to Dalton, Ohio, and was living under the name Tyree Honsch with his current wife and children, authorities said.

His daughter, Elizabeth Honsch, was found shot in the head near 593 Hartford Road in New Britain on Sept. 28, 1995. Her body had been wrapped in a sleeping bag and plastic trash bags, according to police.

The body of her mother, 53-year-old Marcia Honsch, was found eight days later, 40 miles away near the entrance to a state park in Tolland, Massachusetts. She had also been shot in the head and had been dead for a week when her body was discovered, according to police.

Both women were found without any identifying information and, until Wednesday, were known publicly only as Jane Doe. DNA testing revealed that they were related, and their names were released at a news conference on Wednesday.

Police said they have obtained arrest warrants charging 70-year-old Robert Honsch with murder in both Connecticut and Massachusetts.

He's in the custody of the Wayne County Sheriff's Department in Wooster, Ohio, and will be extradited to New England, authorities said.

The Honsch family was living in Brewster, New York, at the time of the murders. According to police, the Honsches "suddenly lost contact with all other family members" in October 1995, shortly after the bodies were found.

Police released pictures of the clothing and jewelry Elizabeth Honsch was wearing at the time of her death, along with facial reconstruction images.

Police began investigating the disappearance of the mother and daughter when relatives reported them missing in June.

The arrest warrants for Robert Honsch have been sealed and it's not clear why family members waited so long to report the women's disappearances.

Information on an attorney for Robert Honsch was not immediately available.

Photographs of Marcia, Elizabeth and Robert Honsch were released on Wednesday.

Elizabeth Honsch isn’t the only woman to be found dead on Hartford Road in New Britain.

In 2007, the bodies of three other women were discovered in the same area near the intersection of Route 9 and Hartford Road.

Two of the woman have been identified as Joyvaline “Joy” Martinez, of East Hartford, and Diane Cuzack of New Britain. Their deaths are also considered homicides but police have not said whether they're connected.

Photo Credit: New Britain Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Alligator Bites Man Fishing Golf Balls From Florida Lake]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:03:08 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/alligator+caught+in+weston.jpg

A Florida man fishing golf balls out of a lake around the Bonaventure Country Club in Weston encountered an especially difficult water hazard when an alligator bit him.

The victim, 51-year-old Stephen Martinez, of Pompano Beach, said the gator bit his hand and then kept trying to attack him. Martinez then got in a golf cart and drove to the golf course and told two employees of the course. It was the second time in five years that Martinez, an independent contractor who sells balls back to golf clubs, has been attacked on the job.

“I knew exactly what it was because a turtle can only bite so hard and when it snapped, it’s 2,000 pounds per square inch and I felt like I lost my hand,” Martinez said.

Martinez drove to the clubhouse to get help for his injury. The wounds were said to be superficial and Martinez said his wetsuit helped to stop the biting of the skin.

Martinez said was also attacked at a different course about five years ago, when an eight-foot aligator "locked on to me," leading to 12 puncture wounds. 

The initial call about the latest incident came into the Statewide Nuisance Alligator Program, SNAP. The center handles all of the call for alligator-related issues. A trapper came to the scene and was able to capture the 8-to-10-foot alligator.

As for Martinez, even as he clinched a blood-stained cast, he is ready to return to his job.

“I’m more likely to get cut by a shell, by glass, by turtle,” Martinez said. “Thank God the alligator let loose and I’m here today."

Photo Credit: Gilma Avalos/NBC 6 South Florida]]>
<![CDATA["She Best Be Dead": Homeowner Shoots, Kills Intruder ]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:07:07 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/long+beach+homeowner+4.JPG

A Long Beach homeowner has no regrets after shooting and killing a woman who said she was pregnant after he got into a confrontation with her and another man who were ransacking his sprawling home.

Tom Greer, an 80-year-old retiree, arrived to his upscale Bixby Knolls neighborhood Tuesday night to find a couple in the middle of a late-night break-in.

"When I went in there, they tackled me," Greer told NBC4 Wednesday. "Both of them jumped up on top of me."

The intruders, a man and woman, may have underestimated Greer, he said, as they ransacked his safe and yanked the door open right in front of him.

The intruders threw Greer to the ground, but they didn't know he'd gotten his .22-caliber Smith and Wesson revolver.

"I come back and they see me with a gun, and they run," he said.

The man escaped, but the woman fell after being struck by Greer's gunfire in an alley behind the house.

"She says, 'Don't shoot me, I'm pregnant! I'm going to have a baby!' And I shot her anyway," Greer said.

When asked what he saw happen to the woman after he fired shots, Greer responded: "She was dead. I shot her twice, she best be dead ... (The man) had run off and left her."

"I've never in my life shot anybody, killed anybody," Greer said.

Greer was being treated at the hospital Wednesday for a severe shoulder and collarbone injury, but he hoped to send a warning to the man who got away.

"I shot her so that's going to leave a message on his mind for the rest of his life," Greer said.

Long Beach police said they were investigating the incident. It was not immediately clear whether any charges would be filed against Greer for the shooting.

"Investigators have to look at both sides of this coin," said legal analyst Royal Oakes. "On the one hand a frail man in his 80s is being attacked in his own home by intruders, he has a right to self-defense. On the other hand, he did shoot a person who was trying to get away, so he wasn't in imminent danger himself and the law says you can't shoot somebody under those circumstances."

<![CDATA[Chikungunya: What You Need to Know]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 03:40:24 -0700 Aedes aegypti mosquito.]]> Aedes aegypti mosquito.]]> http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/181*120/tlmd_virus_mortales_03.jpg

A person caught the mosquito-borne virus chikungunya in the United States this month, health officials say — marking the first time mosquitoes in the U.S. are believed to have spread it.

Other cases of the illness, which is relatively new to the Americas, have been reported in travelers returning home to FloridaNew YorkTexas and elsewhere, often after trips to the Caribbean.

Here is some key information about chikungunya and the virus that causes it.

How do you get chikungunya? Mosquitoes transmit the virus between people. The two species usually responsible, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, bite mostly during the day. In the U.S., they are found in the Southeast and in some parts of the Southwest, though Aedes albopictus also is found up through the Mid-Atlantic and in the lower Midwest.

What are the symptoms? The most common symptoms are fever and joint pain, often in the hands and feet; also possible are muscle aches, headaches, joint swelling and a rash. Symptoms, which can be severe, usually begin three to seven days after a person is bitten. Most people feel better within a week, and death is rare, though joint pain can persist.

How do you treat chikungunya? There is no specific treatment and no vaccine. Medicines like ibuprofen, naproxen, paracetamol and acetaminophen can relieve fever and pain, though.

How do you avoid getting chikungunya? To protect yourself, try to avoid being bitten. Use air conditioning or window screens. Use insect repellant, and if possible, wear long sleeves and pants. Get rid of standing water, where mosquitoes can breed.

Who is most at risk for a severe case? Newborns exposed during delivery, people 65 and older and those with high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease are at the highest risk.

What does the name mean? It is derived from a word in the Kimakonde language, spoken in southern Tanzania, where the virus was first detected. It means to become contorted or bent, describing the stooped appearance of someone suffering from joint pain.

Where has it been reported? Outbreaks have occured in Africa, Asia and Europe and on the islands in the Indian and Pacific oceans. The first case transmitted in the Americas was reported in the Caribbean in late 2013.

How do you pronounce chikungunya? Like this: chik-en-gun-ye.

Source: Centers for Disease and Prevention, World Health Organization

Photo Credit: wikicommons]]>
<![CDATA[5-Alarm Fire Rips Through 5 Businesses in Long Island]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 01:55:10 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Fire-Nassau-County-NY.jpg

Arson squads are investigating after five businesses were destroyed when a raging fire ripped through a row of buildings on a Long Island street early Thursday, officials say. 

The fire broke out at a bar at Willis Avenue and Goodrich Street in Williston Park at about 2:45 a.m., fire officials say. The blaze spread quickly, jumping to four neighboring businesses and causing the bar's roof to collapse. 

Shortly after crews arrived, fire officials say there was a small explosion inside one of the buildings.

No injuries were been reported.

Crews from 13 towns responded to the fire, which sent billows of heavy, black smoke into the sky.

Firefighters worked for several hours in a mostly defensive operation before the five-alarm blaze was brought under control.

All of the buildings were unoccupied when the blaze broke out, officials say. No firefighters were injured.

Nassau County arson investigators are looking into the cause of the blaze.

<![CDATA[New NYPD Chokehold Video]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 11:51:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/nypd+chokehold+subway.JPG

A new video showing the arrest of an alleged Manhattan subway farebeater purports to show a police officer using a chokehold to subdue the suspect, a prohibited police tactic that's sparked outrage since a Staten Island man died after being put in a similar position last week.

The suspect was arrested at the 125th Street subway station on Lexington Avenue in East Harlem on July 14, just three days before Eric Garner of Staten Island died while in police custody.

Autopsy results are pending in Garner's death, which has sparked protests, a criminal probe and a warning by the Rev. Al Sharpton that Garner's family would explore asking for a federal civil rights investigation.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton has since promised that the police department would retrain its officers on the use of force. Department policy prohibits chokeholds during arrests.

In the video of the subway arrest, witnesses are heard shouting at the officers, "Why do you have to hit him?" as one cop punches the alleged fare evader, 23-year-old Ronald Johns, as he wraps his arm around Johns' neck.

The video was posted online by the Rev. Kelmy Rodriquez, who said he received it in an anonymous email. After posting that video, another witness sent him another video of the arrest.

Rodriquez told NBC 4 New York he believes the chokehold should not have been used but noted that the suspect was resisting arrest and said he understood if the officer felt threatened.

The NYPD said its internal affairs department is looking into the video. Johns has been charged with fare-dodging, criminal trespass and resisting arrest.

A funeral for Garner, who was 43, was held in Brooklyn Wednesday.

<![CDATA[Gruesome Details on Mortuary Bodies]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 11:27:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Johnson+Family+Mortuary1.jpg

Disturbing new details emerged Wednesday on the conditions of eight decaying bodies found in a Fort Worth funeral home with the release of arrest warrant affidavits for two of the mortuary's managers.

Police who went to the Johnson Family Mortuary July 15, weeks after the landlord had evicted the business owners, found a gruesome scene, warrants showed.

Officers found evidence of insect infestation, as well as fly pupa on or near the bodies, according to those documents. One corpse was mummified in a casket, while another that appeared mummified was wrapped only in a sheet and left on a coffee table.

Two more of the decaying corpses were of children, one skeletonized while another was melted to a container.

More corpses were found on gurneys, with bodily fluids draining onto the floor and into buckets placed underneath. A shop vacuum found nearby had apparently been used to try to remove some of the fluids. Other corpses were found in a garage area, where there was prevalent evidence of insect infestation. (Read the arrest warrant affidavit here.)

The warrants said that only one of the eight corpses found appeared to have been cared for properly and was not severely decomposed. That body was from a recent funeral and was being prepared to be shipped to Kenya.

The mortuary owners, 35-year-old Rachel Johnson and her husband, 39-year-old Dondre A. Johnson were both charged with seven counts of abuse of a corpse.  Rachel was arrested July 18, while Dondre surrendered to police at about 2 a.m. July 19.  Both were released after paying $10,500 bond each, or $1,500 for each count.

Investigators said they intentionally or knowingly treated seven corpses "in a seriously offensive manner, namely by retaining custody of and storing the human corpse in an unrefrigerated building instead of delivering the said human corpse for proper burial or cremation."

The seven corpses officials say were abused were identified as the following people:

  • Baby Girl Booker — DOB April 21, 2012 — DOD April 21, 2012
  • Karen Pearl Jones — DOB Nov. 8, 1958 — DOD March 25, 2014
  • Helen Jones — DOB Oct. 12, 1943 — DOD April 9, 2014
  • Boy Desiree Williams — DOB Unknown — DOD May 1, 2014
  • Deborah Whitney — DOB Unknown — DOD May 11, 2014
  • Victoria Vasquez — DOB — Aug. 25, 1961 — DOD June 9, 2014
  • Patricia Baptiste — DOB Unknown — DOD June 30, 2014

During a discussion with police July 15 outside of the mortuary, Dondre Johnson is quoted in the affidavit as saying he and his wife owned the funeral home but that she was in charge.

He added that the above conditions were not unusual, saying that bodies belong in a funeral home and that the bodies hadn't been there longer than four months. He told police he was not licensed by any state agency and that he merely owns the funeral home.

About an hour after talking with Dondre Johnson, police spoke with his wife Rachel. She told them that she holds a license through the state funeral commission and that she was in charge of the administrative functions of the business.

She told police she had been absent from the business due to recently giving birth but had been at the mortuary only a few days before. She admitted to police that she smelled a stench, but said she was unaware there were bodies inside the funeral home.

Rachel is quoted in the affidavit saying her husband is more about the "pomp and circumstance" and the "show" associated with conducting memorial services and that he was not very good at keeping up with the necessary administrative paperwork needed to properly bury and cremate corpses.

Abuse of a corpse, a Class A misdemeanor, is punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000 per count.

Family Plans Lawsuit After Grandmother Not Cremated

The pain runs deep for Maria Vasquez and her daughter, Elizabeth. Maria's mother, Victoria Vasquez, was never actually cremated, even though she passed away more than a month ago.

Police said her body was one of the seven left decomposing at the mortuary.

"To find out that these people were intentionally scamming us and lying to us [hurts]," said Elizabeth Vasquez.

Elizabeth's grandmother was finally cremated Wednesday morning through the generosity of another funeral home.

"This big sigh of relief came out," said Vasquez. "Just knowing for a matter of fact my grandmother's wish [to be cremated] is coming through, and I'm going to get my grandmother back [in the form of ashes]."

The Vasquez family said they are currently looking for an attorney, because they plan to file a lawsuit against the Johnson family.

NBC 5's Johnny Archer contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Testimony Ends in Trial Over $2B Clippers Sale]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 23:01:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Donald-Shelley-Sterling.jpg

Testimony ended Wednesday in the trial to determine whether Donald Sterling's estranged wife can sell the Los Angeles Clippers in a proposed $2 billion deal with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Shelly Sterling, who had testified early in the trial, was expected to be the final witness, but her husband's lawyers decided not to call her back to the stand.

Instead, the final day's only witness was Dr. Jeffrey Cummings,  who criticized aspects of the reports by the two doctors who determined Donald Sterling was "mentally incapacitated."  It was based on those determinations that Shelly Sterling assumed control of the family trust that owned the Clippers, and negotiated a $2 billion sale.

Most of his testimony drew objections from Shelly Sterling's attorneys, and the Judge Michael Levanas at one point  said he didn't see how it would help him reach a decision.

"It's exasperating because he should see that the reports of these people are based upon examinations conducted in circumstances which Dr. Cummings said he's never seen before," Donald Sterling's attorney Max Blecher said outside of court.

"The incompetency is just a ploy, a ruse, a distraction so they can get rid of Donald Sterling who didn't want to sell the team," Blecher asserted.

After the court session, another member of the Donald Sterling team suggested her motive is take control of more than her half share of the community property - including the Clippers - accumulated during their nearly 60 year marriage.

"She wants control of the entirety of the state," said attorney Bobby Samini.  "It will never happen."

Shelly Sterling has maintained she is acting in the best interests of the family trust, which Donald Sterling dissolved shortly after the sale was announced.

Her  attorneys rested their case Tuesday, finishing with testimony that the Clippers face oblivion if the team's censured owner keeps control of the franchise.

Clippers Interim CEO Richard Parsons testified on Tuesday that coach Doc Rivers said he will leave if Donald Sterling stays, as well as players and sponsors.

Parsons said he fears there would also be an exodus of key players, including team captain Chris Paul, who also is black and heads the NBA players union.

Parsons was about to give an account of his conversations with Paul but was stopped by an objection by an NBA lawyer who said it would be an invasion of privacy. The judge upheld the objection.

Judge Levanas asked attorneys to file briefs Thursday, and return for closing arguments at 10 a.m. Monday.

The judge sees three main issues:

  • Whether Shelly Sterling and the Family Trust followed the proper procedure to remove Donald Sterling as a Trustee.  Even if so, 
  • Can the sale proceed after the dissolution of the Trust? If that is also true,
  • Should the court issue an order that the sale can go forward without being delayed waiting for a decision on any appeal that might be filed?

The trial was full of emotion and drama, especially for a probate-court trial to determine technical legal and financial questions.

Most of the fireworks came from Donald Sterling, who shouted at attorneys for both sides, denounced the NBA and its commissioner for trying to oust him from the league over racist recordings, and at one point called Shelly Sterling a "pig" as she left the witness stand.

Donald Sterling also filed a new lawsuit against on Tuesday his wife, the NBA and league Commissioner Adam Silver that alleges fraud, breach of contract, unfair business practices and infliction of emotional distress. He claimed, among other things, that he was tricked into being examined by psychiatrists to establish whether he was mentally competent.

That suit indicated an injunction to block the sale might be sought, but did not indicate when, and outside court Wednesday, Donald Sterling's attorneys declined to be specific.  Samini said they have not decided for certain whether they will seek it.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: AP Images]]>
<![CDATA[Man Rips Hijab From Woman's Head in Hate Crime: Police ]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 11:51:57 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LB+hate+crime+suspect+july23.jpg

Long Beach police on Wednesday asked for the public's help to find a man who attacked a woman and ripped a hijab from her head in what is being called a hate crime.

The attack happened July 2 about 4:30 p.m. in the parking lot of a shopping center in the 4000 block of Atlantic Avenue, Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell said at a news conference Wednesday.

The victim was wearing a black hijab, a headscarf or cover worn by Muslim women to conceal their hair and neck, when she was loading shopping items into her car, McDonald said.

A man ran up behind her, cursed at her while referring to her hijab, and forcibly pulled and twisted the hijab, police said. He choked the woman, leaving bruises and scratches on her neck.

The man then walked down an alley near where the woman was parked and took the hijab with him, police said.

The fact that the man knew the word for the covering showed he had some knowledge of Muslim culture, McDonnell said.

The victim and her family are from Iraq, Muslim Public Affairs Council President Salam Al-Marayati said during the conference.

"It is ironic that they fled violence and persecution and civil strife there to have this woman subjected to violence here because of what she wore," Al-Marayati said. "It is our American duty to defend her and defend all women subjected to this kind of violence."

Because the attack happened in broad daylight in a busy shopping center, police are hoping witnesses will come forward.

Police said the incident appears to be isolated and is being investigated as a hate crime.

The attacker is described as a white man in his 30s about 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall with a thin build. He has short brown hair and brown eyes, a trimmed brown mustache and beard, and was last seen wearing a white buttoned shirt with black pants and possibly black shoes.

Anyone with information should call the Long Beach Police Department.

Photo Credit: Long Beach Police Department]]>
<![CDATA["Mom From Hell": Woman Charged After Son Walks Into Policing Center With 27 Bruises ]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 13:45:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Samantha-Starnes.jpg

A woman from suburban Philadelphia, who police have dubbed a "mom from hell," was arrested after her 11-year-old son walked into a policing center with 27 bruises and welts on his body.

The boy walked into the Upper Darby Community Policing Center on Tuesday badly injured, police said. He was met by Nashid Ali, a social worker who runs the center.

The boy claimed his mother, 39-year-old Samantha Starnes of Upper Darby, beat him with a belt inside their apartment on Radbourne Road on Sunday because he wasn’t doing his chores, Ali said.

According to the child, his mother then returned an hour later to beat him again, this time using her fists. As he spoke, Ali said he saw the welts and bruises on the boy’s arms, back and legs.

“He lifted up his shirt,” Ali said. “His back was worse than his arms.”

Ali called both his supervisor and police to report the alleged abuse.

“What surprised me was that number one, he came in by himself,” Ali said. “Number two, he was 11-years-old and number three, I knew it was serious because he was patient.”

Investigators said they counted a total of 27 bruises and welts on the boy’s body.

Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood only had one way to describe a mother accused of beating her son.

“We dubbed her around here as the mom from hell,” Chitwood said.

Police later found and arrested Starnes, charging her with assault and endangering the welfare of a child. She’s awaiting her preliminary hearing, unable to post bail. An attorney for Starnes is not listed on the docket and it is unclear if she obtained a lawyer.

Starnes’ neighbor, who did not want to be identified, said she often heard name-calling echoing through the walls of her apartment but was disgusted to learn about the abuse allegations.

“She really needs some help,” the neighbor said. “They shouldn’t let her a** out of jail, no offense. Keep her in jail.”

As for her son, officials with the Children and Youth Services are working with family members to develop a safety plan for the child.

Photo Credit: Upper Darby Police ]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Charged in Dismemberment Case]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 17:59:18 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Body-Found-Bay-Shore-LI-0724.jpg

A 42-year-old Brooklyn woman has been charged in the killing of a missing mother of four whose partially dismembered body was found in a parking lot on Long Island earlier this month, police say.

Leah Cuevas is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 27-year-old Chinelle Latoya Browne, who lived at the same Brooklyn address as the 42-year-old suspect. At her arraignment in Islip Thursday, the judge said Cuevas was "charged with the worst conduct a human can be charged with" and remanded her without bail. 

Cuevas, who has no criminal history, did not enter a plea and didn't speak to reporters as she was led to court.

Prosecutors say Cuevas and Browne had an argument about rent and utilities on July 4, and police were called to the Brownsville building. The following day, the women again got into an argument in the basement after Browne went down to do laundry, according to prosecutors. Browne was heard by neighbors yelling "No, Leah!" and "I'm sorry," and that was the last time she was seen or heard. 

Her mutilated torso was discovered in a weedy, vacant parking lot in Bay Shore early on July 8 by people going to the nearby Fire Island ferry. Prosecutors said the clothing on the torso matched the ones last seen worn by Browne when she had gone to the wash her clothing. 

A search warrant was executed at the Brownsville building on July 10, and investigators found blood splatter in Cuevas' apartment and hallway that belonged to Browne. 

A medical examiner has determined that Browne died of multiple stab wounds to the neck and torso. Prosecutors say she was killed in Brooklyn, and her dismembered remains were scattered on Long Island.

On July 17, a severed head was found on Boylston Street in Hempstead. On July 9, a homeowner found an arm with women's clothing attached to it in his front yard on Webb Avenue. The next day, someone else discovered another arm in their yard about a half-mile away, near Stewart Avenue and Cornell Street. 

Investigators are looking to see if a second person played a role in disposing the victim's body and planned to question Cuevas' husband about the case. 

Cuevas was arrested Wednesday by U.S. Marshals in Bay Shore, where was believed to be staying with her sister in a basement of a home.

Browne's family were in court Thursday during Cuevas' appearance. Her husband Dale Browne, who flew to New York from Guyana, said his wife had set out to the U.S. to try get citizenship and make a better life for their family. She had kissed their four young children goodbye when she left, and now he was facing the difficult task of explaining to them their mother was gone. 

"She wanted her family with her, and she did all that it took to do that," he said.

Browne's aunt Pauline Claxton said, "We love her. It's very difficult for us at this time. She means the world to us and her children and husband." 


<![CDATA[Dog Has "Worst" Matted Fur, Couldn't Walk: SPCA ]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 06:48:44 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/suffolk+dog+ziggy+1.jpg

A dog found in an abandoned Long Island home was brought in to an animal shelter with fur so thick and matted that the dog was barely able to walk, and authorities are searching for the person responsible for the animal's neglect.

The Shih Tzu-type dog, weighing about 11 pounds and estimated to be about 5 or 6 years old, was turned in to the Town of Babylon Animal Shelter on July 17, SPCA officials say. 

The man who brought the dog in said he found it in a house he knew to be abandoned, on South 7th Street in Lindenhurst. Neighbors in the area told authorities that the last tenants had moved out nearly a year ago. 

Shelter officials said it was the worst case of matting they'd ever seen on a dog, which has been nicknamed Ziggy. Nearly 4 pounds of knotted fur were shaved off, and the dog's overgrown nails were clipped. 

Ziggy will also have to go through extensive physical therapy to learn how to walk correctly again, officials say. The NY Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center in Farmingdale is providing the service pro bono. 

Anyone with information on the neglect of the dog is asked to contact the Suffolk County SPCA at 631-382-7722. 


<![CDATA[Mom, Daughter Die From Food Truck Explosion Injuries]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 16:20:36 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/food+truck+explosion+and+victims.jpg

A mother and daughter in Philadelphia, who were injured earlier this month after a propane tank attached to the back of their food truck exploded, have died from their injuries.

Jaylin Landaverry, 17, and her mother, 42-year-old Olga Galdernez both passed away, according to Landaverry’s brother and Galdernez’s son, Marco Hernandez. A family friend told NBC10 that Galdernez had been in a coma since the blast and succumbed to her injuries Sunday afternoon. Landaverry died Tuesday night around 7 p.m. from fluid in her lungs, the friend said.

"We have no words to express, right now, we're just really shocked at the fact that this happened. We never thought that she was going to pass away or Olga," said Yasmine Landaverry, Jaylin's cousin. "The way they died is really tragic for us."

Around 5:30 p.m. on July 1, the mother and daughter were working inside their food truck, La Parrillada Chapina, at 3rd Street and Wyoming Avenue when the 100-pound tank blew. The truck was equipped with two such tanks filled with gas.

Investigators believe propane vapor began leaking from one tank and filled the truck. A flame from the grill inside the mobile restaurant provided the spark, officials said. Witnesses told detectives they smelled gas before the blast.

The propane fueled a fireball that engulfed the truck, the street and surrounding sidewalks. One tank was blown 95 feet away into the backyard of a home nearby, police said. The truck was properly licensed to operate, officials said.

Philadelphia Police said eight other people were hurt when the tank exploded. The investigation is on-going.

Surveillance and cell phone cameras captured the explosion and its aftermath, showing victims laying on the ground and catching the screams of those injured -- difficult recordings for the family to see.

It's always going to haunt us," Yasmine said.

The woman described her cousin as a very smart girl who was on the honor roll at Little Flower Catholic High School. She said it was both Jaylin and Olga's dream to cook and that the family is devastated to know they're gone.

"We always had all these dreams...and to know that she's not going to be by my side anymore, it hurts," she said.

A prayer service and candlelight vigil were held Wednesday night for the mother and daughter. The prayer service was held at Little Flower Catholic High School on the 1000 block of W. Lycoming Street while the vigil was held near the site of the blast.

A funeral for the women will be held on Friday in Philadelphia. Their bodies will then be flown to Guatemala for burial.

PHOTO: Olga Galdemez, 42, and her 17-year-old daughter, Jaylin Landaverry, pictured two years ago at the girl's quinceanera.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com/Family Photo]]>