<![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 Sat, 22 Nov 2014 10:07:31 -0800 Sat, 22 Nov 2014 10:07:31 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Ex-Marine Confesses to Killing Wife]]> Sat, 22 Nov 2014 06:37:36 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/caleb-crew-andrea.jpg

A former Marine who pled guilty to strangling his wife and dumping her body in a river, confessed to the murder in a chilling recorded interview with two detectives. For the first time outside the courtroom, Caleb Crew's confession can be heard in the audio-taped police interview obtained by News4.

"You're going to feel better when you get this off your chest."
"It's obviously painful she's gone. Just walk us though it."
"Take a deep breath and walk us through it. I know you can do it."

Over and over, in calm, measured voices, Fairfax County, Virginia, detectives Chris Flanagan and Eric Deane turned to those phrases to try to get Crew to tell the truth. Their interview was conducted on Aug. 10, 2013 two days after Crew called 911 to report his wife Andrea missing.

Crew pleaded guilty to murder just last month, the confession a powerful piece of evidence that would have been critical at trial.

In the taped interview, the detectives talk with Crew for nearly two hours, urging him to come clean. He finally gets emotional and begins to provide chilling details about why and how he killed his wife.

Crew tells detectives the couple had gone to court on Aug. 8, 2013 where a previous domestic violence charge against him was dropped. On the way home they argued, and Crew stopped his Jeep in a parking lot. Andrea then threatened to call 911.

Crew tells detectives what happened next:

"I took the phone. I grabbed her out of her chair. She only weights 112 pounds. I grabbed her throat and strangled her in the back seat."

A detective asked whether Crew spoke to his wife.

"First thing I said, 'Goodbye.' I knew once I went down that path I couldn't go back. She said, 'Please Caleb.' I started crying but I couldn't stop," said Crew.

He then tells detectives, though he wife lay lifeless in the SUV, he checked and found a pulse. So he took off the tie he'd worn to court and wrapped it around Andrea's neck.

"Tightly?" asks one detective.
Crew: "Yeah"
Detective: "Why?"
Crew: "To finish the job."

Later that night Crew strapped a backpack filled with weights to his wife's body and threw her in the Occoquon River.

"What was the purpose of the backpack?" asked detectives.
"To take her to the bottom," replied Crew.
"Did you think there was still hope you could get away with it," asked the detective.
"Yeah, that's what I was thinking at the time," said Crew.

Crew tells detectives his biggest immediate worry was the couple's two young daughters, one just 11 months old and still breastfeeding.

"I was thinking, I don't know how else I'll live life after this. I don't want to mess up the girls' lives, of course, I already had. And thinking I have to cover it up," said Crew.

The cover-up lasted just two days until the police interview and Crew's confession. Crew is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 9. One of the most recent filings in his court file -- a certificate of completion for the anger management class at the jail.

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<![CDATA[Family of Man Shot by NYPD Rallies]]> Sat, 22 Nov 2014 07:54:47 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Pink-Houses-Accidental-Shooting-NY-Gurley-Inset.jpg

The family of a man who authorities say was accidentally shot by police as he walked in a dimly lit stairwell at a Brooklyn housing project appeared at a rally to protest his death on Saturday.

Akai Gurley's 2-year-old daughter and the child's mother appeared with the Rev. Al Sharpton at the rally in Harlem on Saturday morning, as did Gurley's aunt.

"The issue of police going up dark stairwells with their guns drawn and their safety off is at the center of this ... case," Sharpton said. "We have raised this question over and over again. ... It is a matter of police policy."

Gurley, 28, was unarmed when probationary officer Peter Liang accidentally discharged his weapon in the stairwell Thursday night, according to Police Commissioner Bill Bratton.

Liang has been placed on modified duty. He and another officer, both with less than 18 months on the force, were part of a violence reduction overtime detail on vertical patrol, conducting floor-by-floor sweeps of the Louis H. Pink Houses in East New York at around 11 p.m.

They had gone to the eighth floor, the top floor, via elevator to check the roof when they noticed that there were no lights in the stairwell leading to the roof, Bratton said Friday. Given the location and lack of light, Liang drew his weapon and a flashlight for safety reasons, Bratton said. The other officer kept his service weapon holstered.

As the officers were entering the eighth-floor landing, Gurley emerged on the seventh-floor landing. He heard a noise and turned square to look up at the two officers a floor above him, a law enforcement source said. That's when Liang, who had his gun in his left hand and his flashlight in his right, fired accidentally, hitting Gurley 11 feet below him.

Bratton said no words were exchanged.

"All indications are this was an accidental discharge," Bratton said, calling the shooting "an unfortunate tragedy."

Community leaders blasted the NYPD and called for immediate reform.

"We should not have rookies, inexperienced police officers who are frightened of us, doing vertical patrols," said former councilman and incoming assemblyman Charles Barron.

Councilman Jumaane Williams called the shooting an example of a "an overly zealous ethos for excessive force" within the NYPD.

He added in a statement: "Why were two probationary officers put on patrol in a 'high crime' area with no veteran officer to assist? Why was the officer's gun drawn with no safety before entering a vertical patrol? And most importantly, why is another unarmed black man dead at the hands of a police officer?"

Bratton said Gurley and his girlfriend apparently had opted to take the stairs because they didn't want to wait for the elevator, and law enforcement officials say she was a flight of stairs or so ahead of him at the time of the shooting. She didn't see the officer's gun fire.

Gurley stumbled down to his girlfriend on the fifth floor after being shot, and she ran to a fourth-floor apartment to ask for help and called 911, a law enforcement source said. She was given a towel to put pressure on Gurley's chest as she waited for paramedics to arrive.

Liang and the other officer, who initially walked out of the staircase onto the eighth floor, soon realized someone had been shot, and went down to the fifth floor to attempt to render aid, the source said.

Gurley was pronounced dead at a hospital. Gurley, who has multiple previous arrests on robbery and other charges, was not armed when he was shot, authorities said. He lived in Red Hook.

Mayor de Blasio called his death a "tragic mistake."

The Brooklyn district attorney's office and the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau are investigating. The New York City Housing Authority said it was cooperating.

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson called the shooting "deeply troubling."

"Many questions must be answered, including whether, as reported, the lights in the hallway were out for a number of days, and how this tragedy actually occurred," Thompson said in a statement.

Authorities have interviewed the second officer and Gurley's girlfriend, but have not yet spoken to Liang. The district attorney's office will determine whether it will file criminal charges after interviewing Liang. Then internal affairs officers can question him, a standard policy.

Both officers were taken to the hospital for ringing in their ears, according to the NYPD. The housing project they were assigned to patrol has seen several serious crimes over the last month, including two robberies and two assaults. Two people were killed there this year, Bratton said.

Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said in a statement that the Pink Houses are among the city's most dangerous projects.

"Dimly lit stairways and dilapidated conditions create fertile ground for violent crime while the constant presence of illegal firearms creates a dangerous and highly volatile environment for police officers and residents alike," Lynch said. "Only time and a thorough investigation will tell us what transpired in this case."

Neighbors expressed concern during a candlelight vigil held for Gurley Friday night, chanting "Bratton must go."

Seventh-floor resident Dashwan Lopez said the lights in the hallway had been out for days before they were finally repaired Friday, prompting questions over whether Liang would have even drawn his gun if the lights had been on.

In Lopez's mind, "it could be better managed by housing, but it's still not an excuse to discharge your weapon without knowing what's going on," he said.

The shooting comes as the department is changing how rookie cops are used fresh out of the academy to give them more training and time with more senior officers.

Bratton is implementing a program that pairs less experienced officers with veteran officers on vertical and other patrols, but the program has had to be rolled out over time due to staffing constraints, law enforcement officials said.

Sharpton runs the National Action Network and is a talk-show host on MSNBC, which is owned by WNBC's parent company, NBCUniversal.

--Lori Bordonaro and Brynn Gingras contributed to this report.

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<![CDATA[Stranger's Photo Washed Up in Sandy]]> Sat, 22 Nov 2014 09:56:36 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/sandy+wedding+photo+copy.jpg

A vintage wedding photograph that washed up in front of a Long Island woman's house after Hurricane Sandy is being reunited with its owner.

Leah Welsh said that after appearing on NBC 4 New York and elsewhere to share the story of her quest to find the photograph's owner, she was contacted by the family of the woman in the black-and-white photo.

Welsh arranged to return the photo to the woman, who lives in the same Massapequa neighborhood as Welsh, on Saturday.

The Massapequa resident initially found the photograph about two years ago in a pile of debris on her front lawn. The image shows a woman in a dress pinning a flower onto a man's tuxedo.

"I called my husband over and I said, 'Can you believe that I just found a picture? And look at the condition of it, it's perfect,'" said Welsh.

Welsh doesn't know who the two people pictured are, but it's clear the photo captured a special moment, possibly of a daughter putting a boutonniere on her father on her wedding day.

Welsh noted how apparent it was the two were happy.

"Just the smiles on their faces and the love you can see between them," she said.

"It actually brought tears to my eyes because... I couldn't believe that I found it," she added.

Welsh tried her best to find the owners but had no luck. Two years later, she dug up the photo again in another effort to locate the owners.

"Sandy was a huge devastation for a lot of people, and you can replace materialistic items and personal belongings, but a picture is really special," she said.

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<![CDATA[Man Gets Death Penalty in Murder of Ex-Girlfriend]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 23:58:45 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/11-21-14-tyrone-harts-mug.JPG

A man who shot his former girlfriend and lit her on fire in front of her children was sentenced to death Friday, prosecutors said.

In February 2011, Tyrone Harts, 41, killed Brandi Morales in the Los Angeles-area home she shared with her six children. Officials said Harts had previously lived there, but the couple had split up several weeks before.

On the night of the murder, police said he called the house and spoke to her children, telling one of them to leave the sliding glass door unlocked.

Morales’ two oldest children were awakened by their mother’s screams on Feb. 21, prompting the oldest boy to grab a kitchen knife and go to her room, officials said. Harts shot at the boy, who ran away while the other four children woke up. At the time of the murder, Morales' children ranged in age from 6 to 15.

The four younger children saw their mother lit on fire and attempted to put out the fire with cups of water, police said.

Police and fire officials arrived and Morales was pronounced dead on the scene. She suffered first and second-degree burns over more than half of her body, officials said.

Last month, Harts was convicted of one count each of murder and attempted murder, five counts of child endangerment and one count of being a felon in possession of a handgun, according to a news release from the Riverside County District Attorney’s office. The jury also found a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait, making Harts eligible for the death penalty.

The same jury Friday sentenced him to death. He is ordered to be formally sentenced on Jan. 30.



Photo Credit: Moreno Valley Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Company Unveils Electronically-Powered Skates]]> Sat, 22 Nov 2014 02:38:25 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/1121-2014-RocketSkates.jpg

Forget walking or rollerblading — how about rocket skating?

California-based company Acton has developed electronically-powered skates that can propel the wearer the wearer up to 12 miles per hour — no pushing required.

Founders said the idea was inspired by "Iron Man," "Inspector Gadget" and "The Jetsons."

"The idea of just being able to slide around the urban environment is very exciting," said Peter Treadway, co-founder of Acton. "It's kind of like a magic carpet for your feet."

The skates were released this week and sell for $500 a pair.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[AA Plane Damaged by Bus in Atlanta]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 22:19:05 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/aaplanedamage.JPG

An American Airlines plane was damaged Friday evening after landing in Atlanta from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

Flight 232 was parked at its gate at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport when a bus crashed into one of its wings.

Nobody was injured in the collision, but passengers who were still on board at the time described the impact.

"You could absolutely feel it," said passenger Jim Carlough, of Plano. "It was a good jolt."

Carlough, who was traveling with his wife, Lori, to a wedding in Atlanta, said flight attendants then told passengers, "obviously we have a problem. We need everyone to quickly deplane."

A statement from an airline spokesperson said the return flight from Atlanta to DFW was canceled, and passengers would be re-accommodated.



Photo Credit: Jim Carlough]]>
<![CDATA[Extreme Weather Photos: Buffalo Area Snowfall]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 07:04:09 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP674770050814.jpg Take a look at some of the most extreme weather systems throughout the world.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Buffalo Bills Hitch Rides Aboard Snowmobiles]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 17:53:34 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/KRAIG+URBIK1.JPG

Up to seven feet of snow wasn't going to stop the Buffalo Bills from flying out to Detroit for Monday’s game against the Jets — even if some players needed a novel way to get to the Bills’ stadium and a bus to the airport.

“Just texted with a Bills player who was picked up on a snowmobile to head to his game,” tweeted Albert Breer, national reporter for the NFL Network. “So in 10 years of covering the NFL, that’s a first.”

The game was supposed to have been played in Buffalo on Sunday, but was moved to Detroit because of the deadly storm.

The blizzard dropped 85 inches of snow on Buffalo, enough to bury Snookie, Jim Kelly and even Yao Ming.

On The MMQB, Peter King describes the planning that went into the "snowmobile rescues."

"I have covered the NFL for 30 years, and I must say I have never heard an NFL executive say he hoped a snowmobile would come up big for his team in advance of a game with big playoff implications," he wrote.



Photo Credit: EMILY URBIK
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<![CDATA[Lost Kitten Wanders 2,300 Miles]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:32:14 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Maine+Kitten+Thumb.jpg

How did a kitten travel all the way from New Mexico to Maine? It's a mystery to her owner and the shelter where she's been staying.

According to the Animal Refuge League in Westbrook, "Spice" was put inside a duffel bag and someone dropped her off at a thrift shop in Portland. A shopper found the bag and brought Spice home for a few days before bringing her to the shelter.

At the shelter, they scanned for a microchip and discovered not only did Spice have an owner, but her home was over 2,000 miles away in New Mexico!

According to Jeana Roth at the Animal Refuge League, "We were in disbelief when we called the microchip company and they told us. They were in disbelief too to see a cat from New Mexico came to Maine in just five days."

Spice apparently escaped from her house on Halloween when her owner was opening
the door to trick or treaters. How she managed to get from there to Maine, no one has any idea.

The kitten's owner doesn't have the money to pay for Spice to return to New Mexico, but another pet owner is stepping up to help.

Jon Ayers is the CEO of Idexx. The company makes pet testing kits and Ayers has several shelter cats at home. He has offered to pay to send Spice back home and as soon as she recovers from a small cold she will travel with a shelter employee back to New Mexico to be reunited with her owner.



Photo Credit: NECN]]>
<![CDATA[Boy Started Deadly Fire: Officials]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 13:58:00 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/202*120/caribou1.jpg

A fire that killed a family of four in Caribou, Maine, was started by a 3-year-old boy who was among the fatalities, officials announced Friday.

The Maine Fire Marshal's Office determined that young Trenton Delisle started the blaze by setting items on fire in the living room of the family's mobile home.

The boy was among three children who died in the fire, along with 2-year-old twins Mason and Madison Delisle.

All three children were taken to Cary Medical Center and pronounced dead.

Their mother, 28-year-old Norma Skidgel, died at the scene of the fire.

Skidgel's sister, Amy Bouchard, and her two sons also lived in the home. Earlier, Bouchard said she had put out a fire that started after a bible was put in the kitchen's stove.

Bouchard said she left to bring her son to a bus stop and found the home on fire.

"Juvenile firestarters are a huge problem in Maine and there are resources available throughout the state to counsel, educate and treat children fascinated by fire," Maine Fire Marshal Joe Thomas said in a statement released the Maine Department of Public Safety statement. "Help is available throughout Maine. All you have to do is ask."

Between 2001 and 2011, 2,531 fires were started by children in Maine, according to Thomas. These fires resulted in 14 deaths and 115 injuries.

NECN will have more as this story develops.



Photo Credit: Maine Department of Public Safety]]>
<![CDATA[$139M Settlement Reached in School Sex Abuse Case]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 18:41:31 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/miramonte112912.jpg

A settlement in the long-fought Miramonte sex abuse civil case has officially been accepted by both sides, with Los Angeles Unified School District paying a record $139 million to more than 70 victims of sexual abuse.

Each child will receive about $1.7 million, according to counsel for the plaintiffs. The total will be $139,250,000, according to the district.

The case was to be the first trial of lawsuits stemming from the sex abuse scandal at Miramonte Elementary School.

Attorneys for LAUSD and former students of teacher Mark Berndt have been meeting all week in an effort to reach a settlement.

Berndt was sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading no contest to 23 counts of lewd conduct with a child between 2005 and 2010.

"In 2012, the school district shared in the shock and disgust upon learning of the misconduct committed by one of its teachers at Miramonte Elementary School," a statement issued by the district reads. "Even though the school district didn’t know about Mr. Berndt’s behavior, we have an obligation to protect the students we serve. We are truly sorry that these students had their trust violated by this sick individual."

Read the full statement and fact sheet here.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Shepard Wiley had been urging the attorneys to try to resolve the case without a trial. But with no settlement in place, jury selection began Monday.

The lawsuit involves former Miramonte students, with dozens of other cases still pending.

The district has already settled more than 60 claims for about $30 million over the abuse. This settlement will mostly end all current litigation stemming from the Berndt case, the district said in its statement.

Earlier in the week, attorney Luis Carrillo, who represents some of the Miramonte students and their families, said he wanted to take the case to trial.

"We're anxious. We want to get in front of a jury, a representative jury so that the community can see 30 years of abuse," he said.

Attorneys contended the district should be held responsible for Berndt's actions. They allege district officials were aware of complaints about his behavior for years.

Superintendent Ramon Cortines said in a statement the settlement struck a balance between sparing the students the pain of a trial and the financial burden to the district.

"Throughout this case, we have shared in the pain felt by these children, their families and the community," he said. "Each day, we are responsible for the safety of more than 600,000 students. There is a sacred trust put in us to protect the children we serve."

Cortines said Berndt went to "extreme lengths to hide his conduct" and "the only way we can have the safest schools is through partnerships with parents and the community."

Read Cortines' full statement here.

Since the Miramonte scandal broke with the arrest of Berndt, the district has been putting aside a reserve fund in anticipation of any pay out.

The district hopes to recoup the settlement through its insurance company.

Sheriff's officials said the investigation of Berndt began when a film processor turned over more than 40 photographs of children in a classroom, with their eyes blindfolded and mouths covered in tape.

Some of the pictures showed Berndt with his arm around the children or with his hand over their mouths, according to the Sheriff's Department.

A sheriff's sergeant said some of the photographs "depicted girls with what appeared to be a blue plastic spoon, filled with an unknown clear/white liquid substance, up to their mouths as if they were going to ingest the substance."

Some photos also showed children with a large roach on their faces, sheriff's officials said.

Sheriff's officials said detectives found a blue plastic spoon and an empty container in the trash in Berndt's classroom.

Both items tested positive for semen, officials said. DNA testing matched it to Berndt, according to the Sheriff's Department.

It took an arsenal of attorneys to represent the 82 children benefiting from the latest settlement.

Despite the settlement, there are still lingering doubts and resentment.

Plaintiff attorney John Manly blasted LAUSD's Office of General Counsel and said "every dirty trick" the attorneys representing them used was approved by the office.

He said the expert witnesses the district hired for the case were prepared to make arguments that the case was not "sexual" in nature, using examples of a parent using semen as nourishment for a starving family.

"Board members should hang their heads in shame," Manly said. "They never even showed up to a mediation, never met with a client, never asked to meet them. They don't know a single child's name."

School board members Monica Ratliff and Tamar Galatzan declined to comment. Other board members did not return calls seeking comment.

"If you don't care enough about children to step up and say what's happening, you ought not be there," Manly said.

At least two board members are up for re-election next year.

Brian Claypool, who also represented some of the students, pointed to what he called the years of neglect by the school district.

"He should've been fired in 1983," he said, discussing a handwritten letter Berndt sent to the Miramonte principal at the time after an incident in which he allegedly flashed his genitals to students.

The note read: "I did learn one thing for sure! Not to take the kids to the museum while wearing baggy shorts! Thanks again, Mark."

"How in the world can LAUSD tell the community they didn't know about Mark Berndt?" Claypool said. "They flat out knew."

Claypool said what attorneys for the plaintiffs have done over the last two and a half years is their own investigation into the way LAUSD handles child abuse perpetrators and victims.

But Manly said what might be water under the bridge now that there's a settlement, is more reason for the public to press the district to make changes from the top.

"The public needs to make sure that the truth gets to these people," Manly said.

Plaintiffs Attorney Andrew Zeytuntsyan said the children and the parents can "start the healing process by putting this mess behind them."

"More than anything, it's for the good of the children," said the parent of one of the victims in Spanish outside Miramonte Friday. "No money in the world can clean that stain."

Patrick Healy and Kelly Goff contributed to this report.

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<![CDATA[Window Washer Survives 11-Story Fall From SF Building]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 23:38:04 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/SF-WINDOW-WASHER-CHOPPER-RAW-SD---14451915.jpg

A window washer fell screaming about 11 stories from the top of the Sterling Bank and Trust building in San Francisco Friday, landing on a car in the middle of a busy street, police and witnesses said.

The man suffered critical injuries, but he was conscious, and the driver was not injured, police said.

San Francisco Police Lt. Ed Del Carlo said the worker was getting ready to work when he "fell off the apparatus" and landed on a car about 10 a.m. after falling from the building at 400 Montgomery Street, near the intersection with California Street. The roof of the car, a green Toyota Camry, was smashed in, and the rear windshield shattered.

"The driver didn't know what happened," Del Carlo said.

The driver, Mohammad Alcozai, at first thought it was a bicyclist who accidently hit his car. But when he got out of his car, Alcozai said he couldn't believe what he saw.

"Somebody said they fell off the roof and I look and said, 'Oh my God,'" he said. "And when I see my car it was flat -- only my spot was OK."

Alcozai quickly ran to the man's aid.

"He was shaking pretty bad. He was shaking and wasn't able to talk," Alcozai said. "He was breathing hard."

The window washer, who has not been identified by police, was taken to San Francisco General Hospital where he remained in critical condition late Friday afternoon. Cal/OSHA spokeswoman Julia Bernstein said the man suffered a broken arm and injuries to his side. He was with a partner, who was not hurt. Bernstein said a safety engineer was on scene, trying to determine what happened.

The intersection of Montgomery and California was closed to traffic for several hours as police investigated.

Sam Hartwell, who was on his way to a meeting, saw some of what happened: "I saw a blue streak out of the corner of my eye," and then that "streak" hit a car with a great "thud." Soon afterward, Hartwell realized that "streak" was a person.

Hartwell and about 20 other people ran to the man, who was on his back. The man was lucid, though he was bleeding.

"He understood we were with him,'' Hartwell said.

The fire department says a paramedic was at the scene within five minutes of the first 911 call, but it took 10 minutes from the time of the call for an ambulance to arrive.

The bystanders, who included a nurse, put clothing on the man as they waited for the ambulance.

Hartwell said of his reaction, "It was utter, immediate shock. How do you react to something like that?''

The window washer worked for Century Window Cleaners of Concord, which has been fined for safety violations in the past. A complaint from 2008 resulted in a $2,700 settlement. The state ordered the company to train and “supervise the use of equipment and safety devices to insure that safe working practices are observed.”

NBC Bay Area contacted the company for comment, but the man who answered the phone declined. The company's website states it carries a $5 million worker compensation insurance policy and a $5 million general liability insurance policy.

The fall comes about two weeks after two window washers were stranded on top of the World Trade Center in New York City. On Nov. 12, two workers were rescued in dramatic fashion after scaffolding collapsed.

Last month in Irvine, California, two window washers stuck for hours near the top of a 19-story high-rise were pulled to safety by members of a search-and-rescue team.

Window cleaning is one of the safer industries, according to Stefan Bright, the safety director for the International Window Cleaners Association based in Zanesville, Ohio.

Among the 15,000 to 20,000 professional cleaners working on high-rises each year, there are typically fewer than three fatalities a year, he said.

While figures for window washers specifically were not available, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that seven workers in the janitorial or cleaning professions died as a result of on-the-job injuries sustained while working with scaffolding from 2011 to 2013.

The Associated Press and NBC Universal's Noreen O'Donnell and Torey Van Oot contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area chopper
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<![CDATA[Casino Worker Took Up-Skirt Videos, Had Child Porn: Cops]]> Sat, 22 Nov 2014 07:45:55 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/mohegan+sun+casino+generic.jpg

A former Mohegan Sun employee is facing charges after downloading child pornography and recording videos up the skirts of women in the casino cafeteria, according to Connecticut state police.

Police said James Johnson, 62, of Groton, attached a small camera to his shoe and stood behind female employees in the casino's cafeteria, pointing the camera up their skirts.

Authorities said the women had no knowledge of the camera or the videos Johnson was taking. According to Mohegan Sun President and CEO Bobby Soper, an employee caught on and reported Johnson to casino security in April.

"Our surveillance was able to research it further and, based on investigation of facts, we were able to detect what went on," Soper explained. "On property, it wasn't that long, what was happening. Off property, it could have been going on for a longer period of time."

Mohegan sun officials said Johnson worked in the employee cafeteria and did not have any contact with patrons while on the job.

Investigators searched Johnson's home on Litton Avenue in Groton, where they discovered up-skirt videos and child pornography files on his electronic devices, according to state police.

Johnson turned himself in on Friday and was charged with four counts of voyeurism, four counts of disorderly conduct, third-degree possession of child pornography and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence.

Soper said authorities have no reason to believe any casino-goers were exposed to Johnson or his camera. Johnson was terminated as soon as the investigation wrapped up and charges were filed, according to Soper.

"The casino is probably one of the safest places you can be. With thousands of cameras here, an incredible amount of security officers, it's the worst place to commit a crime," said Soper. "Whether you're doing it in the front of the house, or in this case, in the back of the house, there's a very good chance you're going to get caught."

Johnson was released after posting $10,000 bond and is due in court Dec. 4. Information on an attorney for Johnson was not immediately available.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Stranger's Photo Washed Up in Sandy]]> Sat, 22 Nov 2014 07:59:49 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/sandy+wedding+photo+copy.jpg

When Hurricane Sandy hit Massapequa two years ago, so much was lost but at least one special thing survived all the destruction.

Inside a pile of debris on her front lawn, homeowner Leah Welsh found a vintage black-and-white photo showing a woman in a dress pinning a flower onto a man's tuxedo.

"I called my husband over and I said, 'Can you believe that I just found a picture? And look at the condition of it, it's perfect,'" said Welsh.

The picture is from a different time. Welsh does not know who the two people pictured are, but it's clear the photo captured a special moment.

"I think this is a photo of daughter putting a boutonniere on her father on her wedding day," she said.

She noted how apparent it was the two were happy.

"Just the smiles on their faces and the love you can see between them," she said.

"It actually brought tears to my eyes because... I couldn't believe that I found it," she added.

Welsh tried her best to find the owners but had no luck. Two years later, she dug up the photo again in another effort to locate the owners.

"Sandy was a huge devastation for a lot of people, and you can replace materialistic items and personal belongings, but a picture is really special," she said.

There was a promising development after her interview with NBC 4 New York late Friday: Welsh said she got an email from someone saying they were related to the people in the photo. She's hoping this may finally be her chance to return the photo to its rightful owners.

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<![CDATA[Cop Shoots, Kills Unarmed Man in Stairwell: NYPD]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 20:30:48 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Pink-Houses-Accidental-Shooting-NY-Gurley-Inset.jpg

A probationary NYPD officer is being placed on modified duty after he apparently accidentally shot and killed an unarmed 28-year-old man in a dimly lit stairwell while on foot patrol at a Brooklyn housing project late Thursday, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Friday.

The officer, Peter Liang, and another officer, both with less than 18 months on the force, were part of a violence reduction overtime detail on vertical patrol, which is when police conduct floor-by-floor sweeps of a building, at the Louis H. Pink Houses in East New York around 11 p.m.

They had gone to the eighth floor, the top floor, via elevator to check the roof when they noticed that there were no lights in the stairwell leading to the roof, Bratton said. Given the location and lack of light, Liang drew his weapon and a flashlight for safety reasons, Bratton said. The other officer kept his service weapon holstered.

As the officers were entering the eighth-floor landing, Akai Gurley emerged on the seventh-floor landing. He heard a noise and turned square to look up at the two officers a floor above him, a law enforcement source said. That's when Liang, who had his gun in his left hand and his flashlight in his right, fired accidentally, hitting Gurley 11 feet below him.

Bratton said no words were exchanged.

"All indications are this was an accidental discharge," Bratton said, calling the shooting "an unfortunate tragedy."

Bratton said Gurley and his girlfriend apparently had opted to take the stairs because they didn't want to wait for the elevator, and law enforcement officials say the girlfriend was a flight of stairs or so ahead of him at the time of the shooting. She didn't see the officer's gun fire.

Gurley stumbled down to his girlfriend on the fifth floor after being shot, and she ran to a fourth-floor apartment to ask for help and called 911, a law enforcement source said. She was given a towel to put pressure on Gurley's chest as she waited for paramedics to arrive. 

Liang and the other officer, who initially walked out of the staircase onto the eighth floor, soon realized someone had been shot, and went down to the fifth floor to attempt to render aid, the source said. 

Gurley was pronounced dead at a hospital. Gurley, who has multiple previous arrests on robbery and other charges, was not armed when he was shot, authorities said. He lives in Red Hook and has a 2-year-old daughter, though it's not clear where the child lives. Gurley's mother lives in Florida.

Mayor de Blasio called his death a "tragic mistake."

The Brooklyn district attorney's office and the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau are investigating. The New York City Housing Authority said it was cooperating. 

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson called the shooting "deeply troubling."

"Many questions must be answered, including whether, as reported, the lights in the hallway were out for a number of days, and how this tragedy actually occurred," Thompson said in a statement.

Authorities have interviewed the second officer and Gurley's girlfriend, but have not yet spoken to Liang. The district attorney's office will determine whether it will file criminal charges after interviewing Liang. Then internal affairs officers can question him, a standard policy. 

Both officers were taken to the hospital for ringing in their ears, according to the NYPD. The housing project they were assigned to patrol has seen several serious crimes over the last month, including two robberies and two assaults. Two people were killed there this year, Bratton said.

Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said in a statement that the Pink Houses are among the city's most dangerous projects.

"Dimly lit stairways and dilapidated conditions create fertile ground for violent crime while the constant presence of illegal firearms creates a dangerous and highly volatile environment for police officers and residents alike," Lynch said. "Only time and a thorough investigation will tell us what transpired in this case."

Community leaders blasted the NYPD and called for immediate reform. 

"We should not have rookies, inexperienced police officers who are frightened of us, doing vertical patrols," said former councilman and incoming assemblyman Charles Barron. 

Councilman Jumaane Williams called the shooting an example of a "an overly zealous ethos for excessive force" within the NYPD. 

He added in a statement: "Why were two probationary officers put on patrol in a 'high crime' area with no veteran officer to assist? Why was the officer's gun drawn with no safety before entering a vertical patrol? And most importantly, why is another unarmed black man dead at the hands of a police officer?"

Neighbors echoed the concerns during a candlelight vigil held for Gurley Friday night, chanting "Bratton must go."

Seventh-floor resident Dashwan Lopez said the lights in the hallway had been out for days before they were finally repaired Friday, prompting questions over whether Liang would have even drawn his gun if the lights had been on. 

In Lopez's mind, "it could be better managed by housing, but it's still not an excuse to discharge your weapon without knowing what's going on," he said. 

The shooting comes as the department is changing how rookie cops are used fresh out of the academy to give them more training and time with more senior officers.

Bratton is implementing a program that pairs less experienced officers with veteran officers on vertical and other patrol, but the program has had to be a roll-out process rather than an immediate overhaul due to staffing constraints, law enforcement officials said.

The Rev. Al Sharpton is planning a community protest alongside Gurley's family on Saturday. Sharpton runs the National Action Network and is a talk-show host on MSNBC, which is owned by WNBC's parent company, NBCUniversal.

Lori Bordonaro and Brynn Gingras contributed to this report.  

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<![CDATA[FSU Shooter Heard Voices]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 23:51:30 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/myronmay112014.jpg

Police have described, Myron May, the gunman who opened fire inside a library at Florida State University Thursday morning as in a “state of crisis.”

Team 6 Investigator Dan Krauth has obtained reports from New Mexico, where May lived, that paint a picture of delusional man on prescription medications and who had been admitted to the hospital a short time ago for a full mental health evaluation.

May, who was born in Dayton, Ohio, moved to Florida as a teenager, police said. He graduated from FSU in 2005 and later from Texas Tech Law School in 2009, police said. He only recently moved back to Florida from New Mexico.

According to Dona Ana County's District Attorney Mark D'Antonio, May was briefly employed at his office as an Associate Trial Attorney after having worked in Las Cruces as an Assistant Public defender. May resigned his position abruptly on October 6, 2014.

"[May] was an effective Prosecutor who was deeply commited to his work and serving the public while employed at our office," D'Antonio said in a statement.

While he worked there, two police reports from the past two months showed that he thought he was being watched.

On October 7, reports showed he went to his ex-girlfriend’s house and told her police placed cameras in his home and car. Police said he handed a piece of his car to her because he thought there was a camera inside.

In a separate report from September 7, May told police he could hear voices “coming through the wall” of his home. Police described May as “in a state of crisis.”

May’s ex-girlfriend told police that his mental condition was getting worse and that he was staying up for four to five days at a time without sleeping.

Police are currently searching for May’s car and cell phone trying to determine what happened in the three weeks since he moved to Florida that led up to the Florida State library shooting.

On his Facebook page, which has since come down, May frequently posted biblical verses and said that he feared the government was watching him. His last post on Tuesday was quoting Matthew 5:3 and read, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”



Photo Credit: NBC 6]]>
<![CDATA[Woman With Gun Arrested Near W.H.]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 14:35:52 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/April+Debois+sketch+Bill+Hennessy+20141121_163224.jpg

A 23-year-old woman was arrested for allegedly carrying an unregistered 9 mm handgun near the White House late Thursday evening. 

April Debois of Mount Morris, Michigan, is charged with carrying a pistol without a license and will remain in custody until a preliminary hearing Monday morning.

Debois was participating in a demonstration along the north fence line of the White House when a plainclothes Secret Service officer observed the firearm holstered on the front of her hip and informed another Secret Service officer, who was monitoring the demonstration.

A U.S. Park Police officer searched Debois and found several rounds of ammunition in her jacket, according to charging documents.

Debois was charged with possession of an unregistered firearm, possession of unregistered ammunition and carrying a pistol without a license.

Debois was in the company of another person who was not arrested, according to a Secret Service official.

Debois has not been cooperative in interviews, that official said.

Her arrest came less than two days after an Iowa man was arrested. R.J. Kapheim, 43, had weapons in his car and claimed that President Obama called him directly and asked him to go to the White House, authorities said. Kapheim has pleaded not guilty to unlawful possession of a rifle.

The Secret Service has been under scrutiny since a Texas Army veteran, Omar Gonzalez, leapt over a White House fence on Sept. 19 and charged into the White House. Gonzalez made it all the way into the East Room before he was tackled, thanks to a string of Secret Service failures detailed in an internal review released last week.



Photo Credit: Bill Hennessy]]>
<![CDATA[Dramatic Photos: Ferguson on Edge Ahead of Grand Jury Decision ]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 10:07:39 -0800 > on November 19, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.]]> > on November 19, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.]]> http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/459278128.jpg The nation awaits a grand jury decision on whether police officer Darren Wilson will be indicted over the fatal shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The Oct. 9. shooting triggered riots and protests in the St. Louis suburb while spurring a debate in America about race relations, police brutality and civil rights.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Man Arrested at WH With Gun in Car]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 11:54:21 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/1119-white-house.jpg

A man who was arrested after officers found weapons in his car near the White House earlier this week has reached a plea agreement with prosecutors.

R.J. Kapheim, 41, is expected to plead to at least one misdemeanor when he's back in court Monday morning. News4's Mark Segraves was in court Friday as the two sides told a superior court judge they had a deal; because of a scheduling conflict, a judge has not yet heard the plea agreement.

Kapheim had a loaded rifle, a 6-inch blade and 37 rounds of ammunition in his car at 16th Street and Constitution Avenue NW on Wednesday afternoon. According to court documents, he approached a Secret Service officer just before 1 p.m. and said the President had called him and invited him to the White House.

Kapheim was arrested for having an unregistered firearm.

A day and a half after his arrest, a Michigan woman was also taken into custody outside the White House.

April Lenhart, 23, was participating in a demonstration along the north fence line of the White House when two plain clothes agents saw a holstered gun on her hip. She was arrested and charged with possession of an unregistered firearm, possession of unregistered ammunition and carrying a pistol without a license.

The Secret Service has been under scrutiny since a Texas Army veteran, Omar Gonzalez, leapt over a White House fence Sept. 19 and charged into the White House.

Gonzalez made it way all the way into the East Room before he was tackled, due to a string of Secret Service failures detailed in an internal review out last week.

]]>
<![CDATA[Ferguson Nervously Awaits Grand Jury Decision]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 13:46:46 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/AP97239833739.jpg A decision on whether Ferguson, Missouri Police Officer Darren Wilson, who is white, will be indicted for the Aug. 9 shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who is black, has the St. Louis suburb frozen in anxiety. (Nov. 18)]]> <![CDATA[Cable Tech Assaulted Customers]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 06:04:28 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Photo+Malave.jpg

A former New Jersey cable technician has been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting two women in their homes while he was on the job, prosecutors say. 

Jonathan Malave, 31, of Towaco, is accused of sexually assaulting a 60-year-old woman in her Ridgefield Park home in July and a 71-year-old woman in her Fairview home in August, the Bergen County prosecutor said Thursday.

Malave was working as a service technician for Time Warner Cable at the time, the prosecutor's office said. The company, which had conducted a background check on Malave before hiring him, said Malave was terminated from the job in September, but it's not clear if it was related to the sexual assault investigation. 

The company said it's cooperating with law enforcement in their investigation.

Authorities learned of the alleged sex assaults when the 71-year-old victim contacted police recently. An ensuing investigation led them to the other alleged victim, the prosecutor's office said. 

Malave was charged with one count of second-degree sexual assault and two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual contact. He remains in Bergen County Jail on $250,000 bail.

Attorney information wasn't immediately available. 



Photo Credit: Bergen County Prosecutor]]>
<![CDATA[4 Killed in Maine Mobile Home Fire]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 20:32:45 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/202*120/caribou1.jpg

A mother and her three young children were killed in a mobile home fire in Caribou, Maine on Thursday morning.

The Maine State Fire Marshal's Office said the fire was reported around 7 a.m. at the Westgate Mobile Home Park. A team of fire marshal investigators and inspectors have begun working to determine the cause of the blaze.

Caribou firefighters entered the burning mobile home and removed the victims from a back bedroom. The three children - 3-year-old Trenton Delisle and 2-year-old twins Mason and Madison Delisle - were taken to Cary Medical Center in Caribou, where they were later pronounced dead. Their mother, 28-year-old Norma Skidgel, died at the scene.

Their bodies will be transported to the State Medical Examiner's Office in Augusta for autopsies, which are expected to be performed on Friday.

Skidgel's sister Amy Bouchard and her two sons also lived in the mobile home. Bouchard and one of her sons left the home a short time before the fire to go to a bus stop, and the dwelling was on fire when she returned. Her other son had spent the night elsewhere. Bouchard is being treated for smoke inhalation, as she attempted to gain entry to to home.

Inspectors found a smoke detector inside the mobile home, but the batteries had been removed. It isn't clear yet if there were other smoke detectors that were working.

Officials said the mobile home park is located on the city's outskirts, about four miles from Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge. The small park consists of three rows of trailers in a sparsely populated, rural area.

Public safety officials said this is the deadliest fire in modern times in Caribou. It also comes only a few weeks after six people died at a fire in an apartment building in Portland.

Twenty-five people have died in fires this year in the state, the most in 21 years. Fires killed 27 in 1993.

In light of the recent fire deaths, State Fire Marshal Joe Thomas said Maine residents need to make sure their homes have working smoke detectors, and that families review and practice fire escape plans.



Photo Credit: Maine Department of Public Safety]]>
<![CDATA[2 Arrested in Child Porn Scheme]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 14:57:33 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/hurst-suspects.jpg

Police in Hurst, Texas, said they arrested two men on charges of possession of child pornography, one of whom is a 17-year-old who an arrest affidavit indicates was enrolled in an elementary school as a sixth grader to "recruit potential victims."

Randy Ray Wesson, 28, and Ricardo Javid Lugo, 17, were taken into police custody following a tip from The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. A search warrant was issued for a home in Fort Worth, where police said they seized a large amount of evidence of child pornography.

The investigation also revealed that Lugo was enrolled at Hurst Hills Elementary School in Hurst as a 12-year-old in the sixth grade.

Wesson, Lugo Arrested

NBC 5 obtained Lugo's arrest affidavit on Thursday, in which detectives said Wesson "confessed that police would find approximately 42,000 child pornography images on his computer, thumb drive, phone and SD cards." Police said Wesson also admitted to sexually abusing more than 100 children between the ages of 7 and 14.

Court documents state that Wesson said he met Lugo on Instagram and drove to El Paso to pick him up. Wesson claims the two had a sexual relationship.

NBC 5 asked Wesson's parents about the incident, but they declined to comment.

During a search of Lugo’s phone, authorities said they found images of "children at school, dated Aug. 25 through 26, 2014," but court documents don’t make it clear whether they’re illegal images.

Documents also state a video on Lugo’s cell phone dated Aug. 31, 2014, shows Lugo spanking a child who appeared in a previous photograph taken at school.

Lugo’s arrest affidavit also stated that messages on the phone between Wesson and Lugo "indicate that Ricardo Lugo is recruiting possible victims from school for himself and Randy. Ricardo tells Randy about seeing one of the kids' penis. He also talks about telling other kids not to tell and having to follow them home to see where they live.”

The affidavit also indicates that authorities tracked Lugo’s mother to El Paso, where she said he went missing six months ago.

Lugo Enrolled in Elementary School

Police said Lugo's enrollment at Hurst Hills was supported by counterfeit documents presented to the school. According to Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District spokeswoman Judy Ramos, the staff at Hurst Hills followed all procedures regarding enrollment when the student was enrolled in August.

"There was no indication that the student’s records were forged or that the student was too old to attend elementary school," she said. "The student’s behavior at school also did not raise any concerns."

Ramos also said in a news release sent to NBC 5 that Wesson posed as Lugo's father.

Parents of the sixth graders enrolled at the school have been personally contacted, according to the district, and a letter was sent home to the parents of all of the students enrolled at the school. The letter encourages parents to talk with their children, but it is also clear they don't know how many victims there are and if any of them are from the school.

“It’s kind of scary,” said Wale Aridegbe, whose son is in second grade at Hurst Hills. “I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.”

“My one concern is, is this a one-time thing? This one bad person that got into the school?” said Danny Scott, whose son is in fourth grade at the school. “Or is there more to this?”

School administrators have been working with police and still aren't sure how Lugo fooled them for three months.

“We looked at the document when the former student was enrolled, Ramos said. "They looked like other birth certificates and other immunization records."

Wesson's neighbors said they never suspected anything strange.

“Man, that would have never crossed my mind of something like that,” said neighbor Arturo Castrellon.

Homeland Security Intervenes

Officials with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said they had Wesson into federal custody Friday morning. His case will be turned over to the U.S. Attorney for federal prosecution, they said.

Wesson was being held on charges of possession with intent to promote child pornography, the sale/display of harmful materials and tampering with government record. His bond was set at $3 million.

Lugo is being held on possession of child pornography and his bond was set at $250,000.

Police said they are concerned these men had contact with additional child victims and asked that anyone concerned call Hurst Police at 817-788-7146.

NBC 5's Todd L. Davis contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Hurst Police Dept.
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<![CDATA[Crowds Swarm DTLA to Rally for Missing Mexican Students]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 06:26:40 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/209*120/11-20-14-Downtown+LA+Protest+Mexican+Students.JPG

Crowds of protesters swarmed the streets of downtown Los Angeles Thursday night as they marched to the Mexican Consulate-General to call for the removal of Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto and demand justice for a group of missing college students.

Hundreds of marchers could be heard chanting and counting to 43 — the number of Mexican students who were last seen alive Sept. 26 in the city of Iguala, when police reportedly attacked a group of student protesters, killing six people and taking away dozens of students.

One protester on a loudspeaker announced that the Los Angeles Police Department would give the crowds one hour to protest in front of MacArthur Park.

The protest comes after Mexico's Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam recently offered evidence of hundreds of charred fragments of bone and teeth fished from a river but admitted it would be difficult to extract DNA to confirm identities of the victims.

Mass protests were also expected in parts of Mexico Thursday in response to alleged political corruption in the disappearances.



Photo Credit: Gadi Schwartz]]>
<![CDATA[Man Arrested Outside WH Claimed Appointment With Obama]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 18:46:09 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/RJ+Kapheim+Sketch.jpg

A man arrested with weapons in his car outside the White House Wednesday afternoon told the Secret Service the president called him directly and asked him to go to the White House, according to the police report.

R.J. Kapheim, 43, pleaded not guilty Thursday afternoon to one count of unlawful possession of a rifle. The judge ordered him held until a hearing at 9 a.m. Friday.

Kapheim approached a Secret Service officer just before 1 p.m. Wednesday and said he had an appointment with President Barack Obama, authorities said. The officer checked his ID and determined he did not have an appointment.

Kapheim insisted President Obama had called him and began shaking his head, according to the police report. The officer called for backup to check on Kapheim's welfare. They asked him if they could check his car and he agreed.

As Secret Service walked Kapheim to his car at 16th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, he told them he had a weapon in the car, authorities said. The barrel could be seen sticking up from the backseat, a position from which it could be reached from the front seat.

Officers found the .30-30 rifle was loaded with six rounds of ammunition. Another 36 rounds and a 6-inch fixed blade also were found in the car, according to the police report.

There's no indication Kapheim made any threats.

Kapheim told police he drove to D.C. from Davenport, Iowa, where he reportedly works as an inventor.

Court records from Iowa show Kapheim was charged with several traffic violations over the years, and in 2012, he changed his name from "Rachael" to "R.J." to make it easier to get a job.

The arrest came just as Secret Service Acting Director Joseph Clancy was testifying in Congress about low morale he said has contributed to high-profile oversights by agents recently.

The agency has been under scrutiny since a Texas Army veteran, Omar Gonzalez, leapt over a White House fence on Sept. 19 and charged into the White House. Gonzalez made it way all the way into the East Room before he was tackled, thanks to a string of Secret Service failures detailed in an internal review out last week.



Photo Credit: Bill Hennessy]]>
<![CDATA[More Dramatic Photos Emerge From Deadly NY Snowstorm]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 12:05:06 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/459243082.jpg

The Buffalo area in Western New York was bracing for 3 more feet of snow after being pounded by a severe weather system for a third day that may leave some areas with nearly 8 feet on the ground when it's all done.

The storm has been blamed for at least thirteen deaths, NBC News reported.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday morning that no more motorists were stranded on streets, but described a "massive problem" of hundreds of abandoned cars still on the roads.

The Buffalo Bills were scheduled to host an NFL game Sunday against the New York Jets, however 4 feet of snow fell on the team's stadium in Orchard Park. It was announced Thursday that the game would be held Monday night in Detroit.

Cuomo had said it would be "impractical" to hold the game at the Bills' stadium.

More dramatic photos from the snowstorm have emerged:



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Gun Sales Surge Ahead Of Ferguson Decision]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 13:43:16 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP304649388325.jpg Some St. Louis gun dealers have been doing brisk business, particularly among first-time buyers, who are awaiting a grand jury's decision on whether to indict the white police officer who fatally shot an 18-year-old black man back. (Nov. 19)]]> <![CDATA[FSU Gunman Was in "State of Crisis:" Police]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 07:30:14 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/fsupresser13pm.jpg

Police said the gunman who opened fire inside a library at Florida State University early Thursday was in a "state of crisis" at the time of the shooting.

The gunman who was shot dead by police was identified by law enforcement officials as Myron May, a lawyer who graduated from the school.

Police said May injured three students before being shot dead at the Strozier Library. Two of the wounded students were admitted to Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare hospital and the third was treated and released at the scene, police and a hospital spokeswoman confirmed.

At a news conference Thursday afternoon, police said May was struggling psychologically and emotionally. May feared government targeting and expressed these concerns in his journal, police said. Yet, police said it was unknown why May attacked or why he targeted Strozier library.

May, who was born in Dayton, Ohio, moved to Florida as a teenager, police said. He graduated from FSU in 2005 and later from Texas Tech Law School in 2009, police said. After practicing law in Texas and New Mexico, May moved back to Florida just three weeks ago, police said.

Police said May had two previous encounters with law enforcement. In 2002, he was suspected of using marijuana, and in 2003 he was the victim of a vehicle burglary, police said.

At a news conference Thursday morning, police called the shooting an "isolated incident" and said May had acted alone.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he hoped to visit the victims at the hospital later Thursday and said authorities were still investigating the shooting.

"We still have a lot of questions that are unanswered," Scott told reporters at a news conference.

Amid the chaos, students immediately took to social media with messages of concern and prayers.

“Please say a prayer for us. We’re stuck in a library with a shooter in the building,” tweeted a person whose profile says he’s a student at FSU.

Another tweet came from the father of a FSU student who took a screen shot of her text message to him, stating, “There’s a man with a gun in the library. I love you.”

Jason Derfuss, a 21-year-old humanities student at FSU told NBC News  his backpack full of books stopped a bullet from hitting him during the rampage. Derfuss only realized hours later the gunman had tried to shoot him after he discovered a bullet lodged in "The Oxford Context of Wyclif’s Thought."

"There is no way I should be alive," Derfuss told NBC News. "Literally, those books saved my life."

The campus scare began when police at Florida State University responded to a "dangerous situation" at the library around 12:30 a.m. ET Thursday, as a witness reported gunshots. A campus telephone alert urged people to take shelter in a nearby building and stay away from "doors and windows."

When officers arrived, they commanded May to drop his weapon, Tallahassee Police Department spokesman David Northway said. Police said May was using a .380 semi-automatic handgun and had additional ammunition in his pockets. May fired a round at police, who responded with shots, killing the suspect, police said.

Officers searched the area and found three victims suffering from gunshot wounds, police said.

According to officials, May never made it past library security and only shot from the library lobby. One victim was shot in the library lobby and the two others were shot outside the lobby area, police said.

All three victims were immediately given treatment, police said. Two victims were taken to Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare hospital. One was in critical condition and the other was in stable condition, officials said.

One of the victims was identified as Nathan Scott, according to a statement released by the hospital. Scott was shot in the leg and is recovering with the support of his family who has asked for privacy at this time, the hospital said.

Police said the library was packed with between 300 and 400 students at the time of the shooting.

Steven Dawson, 19, a freshman biology major said he was studying on the library's third floor at the time of the incident. Dawson told NBC News that shortly after 12:30 a.m. ET someone started shouting about a gunmen in the building. "Everyone just dropped everything and started running," Dawson said.

The university announced on Twitter early Thursday that the lockdown had been lifted and the area was secured. 

FSU President John Thrasher said there will be increased security measures and a greater law enforcement presence on campus Thursday.

"The Florida State University community is extremely saddened by the shootings that took place early this morning at Strozier Library, in the very heart of campus, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of all those who have been affected," Thrasher said in a statement.

Classes were canceled for Thursday but the campus will be open, the university announced. Strozier Library will be closed until further notice. Meanwhile, students were gathering for prayer vigils on campus throughout the day.

Thrasher said counseling would be provided for students, faculty and staff.

"The three students who have been injured are our highest priority followed by the needs of our greater university community," Thrasher said. "We will do everything possible to assist with their recovery."




Photo Credit: NBC 6
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<![CDATA[Crazed Groundhog Torments NH Man]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 05:02:42 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/groundhog+hampton+new+hampshire.jpg

A crazed groundhog chased a New Hampshire man and tried to scratch and bite its way into his home, one day after another wild animal attacked a dog just miles away.

The groundhog that's been on Gary McGrath's Hampton property for more than a year, suddenly turned on him.

"He got so close I could give him a boot and I did," McGrath said.

He then chased McGrath into his garage, and then into his house.

"Thank goodness no one has a video of me being chased by a groundhog, that would have been very comical," McGrath said chuckling.

But no one was laughing when McGrath went back outside to finish his yard work, and the critter went crazy, again. McGrath ran back in through his front door, called police, and then snapped some photos of the animal trying to get into the house.

"His teeth were going a mile a minute, he was scratching and trying to bite through the siding," McGrath said.

When he and his wife went to go warn neighbors, they learned the groundhog had tormented another family earlier in the day.

"They told us their dog was attacked by the same animal just going crazy," McGrath explained.

The groundhog attacked the animal control officer when he showed up, forcing the ACO to kill the animal in the front yard.

This comes just one day after a coyote attacked a dog and his owner in Greenland, less than ten miles away.

"It's unusual to see animals this aggressive in this time frame," said New Hampshire Fish and Game Lt. Michael Eastman.

Wildlife officials believe both animals were sick, possibly rabid.

"It's a fatal virus and there is no known cure for it," Lt. Eastman said. "That's why we take it so seriously."

McGrath admits this is one groundhog day, he never wants to relive. Especially, when his three grandkids are visiting.

"It could have been a bad situation if they were out there at the time," McGrath said. "We're very fortunate."

Wildlife officials are taking this opportunity to warn families that no matter how cute wild animals may seem, don't approach them, certainly don't feed them, and if they act out of the ordinary call your local authorities. 

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<![CDATA[2 Kids Killed in Shooting at New Jersey Home]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 03:42:07 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/burlington+shooting.jpg

A boy and a girl were killed and a woman and another boy were critically wounded in a shooting at a house in New Jersey where nine family members live together, police say.

Police found the four victims with gunshot wounds while responding to a call at the Holly Park Drive home in Tabernacle at about 9 a.m. Thursday. The shooting was called in by a family member.

The victims were found in the same room of the house, officials said.

Two of the children were pronounced dead at the scene. Police said the children in the home range from middle school-age to early high school-age, but the ages of the killed victims were unknown.

The woman and boy who survived were taken to the hospital in critical condition; the woman, identified as 44-year-old Jeaninne LePage, had been shot in the head, according to police. 

Authorities declined to say if a weapon was recovered.

State police said they are not looking for a suspect. The children's father was not home at the time of the shooting and his whereabouts are under investigation.

The four other people who live in the home have been accounted for. 

Few neighbors seemed to know much about the families, but one suggested there may have been cause for concern.

"There were two instances over the summer, maybe a few more, where with the windows open I thought I heard some arguing," said Bob Langan. "Sounded like some sort of domestic dispute, I didn't know definitely what it was." 

Kim Kniffen said she was "shocked" to hear about the deadly shootings.

State police said first troopers and responders to arrive at the scene were going through psychological counseling. 

"We've dealth with a big tragedy here," said Captain Stephen Jones. "The whole community has been dealing with a huge tragedy." 

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<![CDATA[Car Lands on Mercedes-Benz at Dealership]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 09:05:29 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/11-20-2014-dealership-crash.jpg

A driver who crashed off a Southern California freeway Thursday morning and onto a car in the lot of a Mercedes-Benz dealership was arrested after running from the scene, according to authorities.

The crash occurred off the eastbound 101 Freeway in the Calabasas area. The driver crashed over the side of the freeway and into a row of cars at the dealership.

The driver ran from the site of the crash, but was later taken into custody near what appeared to be another car dealership. It was not immediately clear whether the driver of the black sedan was injured.

Aerial video showed the car on top of the heavily damaged hood of a Mercedes-Benz.
 



Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Holder Urges Peace Ahead of Ferguson Decision]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 13:37:39 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/Holder-Ferg-Protection.jpg As the nation awaits a Missouri grand jury decision whether to charge the officer who shot unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown, Attorney General Eric Holder is making a plea to the public to maintain peace. (Nov. 21)]]> <![CDATA[Suspect Caught by Cop on Horseback]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 12:06:40 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/mounted+cop+newark+chase.jpg

Authorities say an armed suspect was chased down by an officer on horseback after a shooting in downtown Newark.

The victim was being treated at University Hospital for "serious injuries" after being shot around 5 p.m. Wednesday in the area of Mulberry Street and Center Street, near the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, according to Newark police.

Authorities say the shooting suspect tried to flee on foot immediately after the shooting, but was quickly apprehended by the equestrian officer, Eric Schroeder, a 13-year veteran on the force.

A weapon was recovered at the scene. 

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<![CDATA[Children Killed in Fire at Property With Past Violations]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 23:45:31 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/11-20-2014-fire-san-bernardino-fatal.jpg

A young sister and brother died Thursday after they hid behind a couch during a fire at what authorities described as a property with a history of code violations in San Bernardino.

Their father also was badly burned in the blaze, which started at around 3 a.m. in the 200 block of West 14th Street, said San Bernardino Fire Department Engineer Rodd Mascis. Firefighters extinguished the two-alarm fire in about 20 minutes and pulled the three victims from the burned apartment.

"Fire was coming out of the windows, as well as heavy, heavy smoke," Mascis said. "They can hear somebody inside as soon as they made access up to that second story apartment."

After the father was rescued, firefighters went back inside and found the children huddled together behind a couch. Both were unresponsive as firefighters carried them from the home.

"They were not breathing, they were not moving," said neighbor Sunny Williams, who called 911.

The 6-year-old girl, identified as Candra Leetch, and her 2-year-old brother died at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center. Neighbors said that the father had taken his pregnant partner to the hospital earlier in the day.

Candra was a student at Lincoln Elementary School where she lit up a classroom, said the school's principal, Kevin Goodly.

"She was a bright little girl," Goodly said. "Great smile."

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

Authorities told NBC4 the property has a history of code violations and police had last visited the apartment earlier this month.

And the San Bernardino City Professional Firefighters, the union, said in a statement that city budget cuts may have hampered the fire response and possibly played a role in the deaths.

The most recent violations at the property included an unsafe heater and inadequate lighting, according to the San Bernardino Police Department. Property owners claimed they attempted to evict the tenants, but said they did not comply, police said.

A man who identified himself as the injured victim's nephew, who was visiting from Texas, told NBC4 the family often turned on an oven to stay warm.

"They say it could have been an electrical problem or a problem with the stove," said the man, who asked to be identified only as Josh.

Building code compliance officers were at the location Thursday morning.

"We have had ongoing code issues at that property since 2009," said San Bernardino Police Lt. Rich Lawhead. "We have two active cases with numerous violations. The property had basically been abandoned by the owner and the people just remain there not paying any rent."

Arlene Gonzales, whose boyfriend is the apartment block's property manager, went to the blaze after a worker at the property told them about the fire.

"The two kids were very good kids, very loving, very happy kids every day," Gonzales said. "Mother and father, very good parents. We always seen them every day (the) kids. Every day they would meet us and greet us at the door. It's just a tragedy ... what happened this morning."

And she was left in shock when she saw the children and the adult being pulled out of the building.

"It was terrible, a terrible thing to see." Gonzales said.

NBC4's Jonathan Lloyd contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Toni Guinyard, KNBC-TV
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<![CDATA[Bank Exec Found Dead in Tub: NYPD]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 04:01:26 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/tlmd_police_tape_lights_generic1.jpg

Police are investigating the death of a Citigroup manager who was found in his Manhattan apartment bathtub with this throat cut.

Police say 42-year-old Shawn Miller was discovered Tuesday afternoon by his doorman at his Greenwich Village apartment after a friend asked to check on him. He was found with a slash wound on his neck in his bathtub.

Authorities say there was no sign of forced entry and no weapon found. The medical examiner's office will determine the cause of death.

Miller was managing director of the environment and social risk management team at Citigroup, Inc.

A spokeswoman for the New York-based company said in a statement the company was deeply saddened and thoughts were with his family.

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<![CDATA[City Council Race Ends in Tie]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 09:25:46 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Padilla-McCann-Chula-Vista2.jpg

The razor-thin race for a Chula Vista City Council seat has ended in a tie, two weeks after Election Day, San Diego County officials say.

John McCann and Steve Padilla each won 18,450 votes for the District 1 seat, according to Wednesday's last tally from the San Diego County Registrar of Voters. The registrar reports there aren't any other provisional ballots left to be counted that could break that tie.

Ultimately, it will be up to the city of Chula Vista to determine who takes the seat.

Padilla said his campaign is pleased with the results from the provisional ballots.

“We’re just focused on making sure every vote is counted,” Padilla said.

However, McCann told NBC 7 on Wednesday he believes what he called "dirty politics" played a role.

“We had over 900-point lead and every day it seems to continuously vanish. Obviously it raises some questions,” McCann told NBC 7.

The registrar's office will begin making sure all the votes are accurately counted ahead of the Dec. 2 deadline for certifying results.

While Chula Vista is be the second-largest city in San Diego County, the city council race came down to the narrowest of margins as the final 1,000 county-wide provisional ballots were counted Wednesday.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

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<![CDATA[Traveling Nurse Accused of Abuse]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 07:55:48 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/kline+mugshot.jpg

A Falls Church, Virginia, man is accused of sexually abusing female patients at D.C.-area hospitals while providing care for them as a nurse.

According to court documents obtained by News4, 37-year-old Jared Nathan Kline, a traveling nurse, is facing three sexual abuse charges stemming from incidents at D.C. hospitals, and is also accused of similar behavior at a Prince George’s County, Maryland, hospital.

All four victims reported they were disoriented from severe pain or semi-conscious when the abuse allegedly occurred.

A woman receiving treatment for asthma at United Medical Center in late August 2014 reported her nurse, later identified as Kline, intentionally rubbed her hands against his erect penis while he checked her vitals.

She says that later that day, the same nurse began massaging her underneath her hospital gown. She told police she was scared and pretended to be asleep during the incident. She told police the nurse went on to kiss her and touch her face until someone else entered the room.

When she was discharged from the hospital, she got a text message from the nurse saying she had left behind a makeup bag. She met the nurse outside the hospital for the bag, and he later texted her, "Anytime [sic] love, get better."

She told police she hadn't given her phone number to Kline, and was "upset" he had contacted her in the first place.

After the woman came forward, police realized Kline was a suspect in two other D.C. sex assaults -- one in May 2013, and another in December 2013.

In the May 2013 incident, a woman reported she was sexually assaulted by an emergency room nurse named Jared at the George Washington University Hospital when she was treated for a migraine headache. While receiving treatment, the woman said her nurse gave her a blanket, then "proceeded to pat and grope [her] buttocks."

She said he returned to her room several times later that evening, and rubbed the back of her hand against his erect penis as he was checking her IV.

When interviewed by police, he said her hand touched him "in places that it should not have," that he’s a "pretty lucky white guy," and that because he’s "well-endowed, it is possible her hand could have touched his penis and may have mistakenly believed he was aroused."

The woman texted her boyfriend about the incident, saying she wanted to leave the exam room, calling her nurse's behavior "creepy."

Seven months later, another woman accused Kline of rubbing his penis against her hand at least three times while she was receiving treatment for intoxication at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

In addition to the three incidents at D.C. hospitals, Kline is also accused conducting an inappropriate chest examination of a 22-year-old patient at Bowie Health Center in Maryland last January. 

D.C. police said Kline likely had more victims.

"We do believe that it's possible he had sexually abused other patients," George Kucik with D.C. police said. "They may not have been aware of it or understood what was going on."

Kline was released on bond Wednesday, and is required to stay away from his alleged victims. His lawyer hasn't released a statement, but told News4 several times he has no comment.

Kline's neighbor Karen Parelhoff told News4, "I'm a nurse myself. It's a huge breach of the trust that people place in your hands when you take care of them."

GW Hospital officials said they're committed to the well-being of their patients.

"In matters such as this, our practice is to act swiftly and responsibly in collaboration with law enforcement and regulatory agencies," Lyndsay Meyer with GW Hospital said Wednesday.

MedStar Washington Hospital Center officials said they're aware of Kline's arrest but unable to comment at this time, though they said they're fully cooperating with local police.

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<![CDATA[Several Arrests In Ferguson, Missouri]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 13:36:00 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP657574183975.jpg Ferguson police officers arrested a few protesters outside of police headquarters late Wednesday. A grand jury is deciding if a white Ferguson police officer should face criminal charges in the fatal shooting of a black 18-year-old. (Nov. 20)]]>