<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - National & International News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/national-international http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Thu, 26 Feb 2015 16:40:48 -0800 Thu, 26 Feb 2015 16:40:48 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[No Charges "at This Time" in Metrolink Crash]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 14:37:58 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/knbc-jose-alejandro-sanchez-ramirez.jpg

The driver whose truck was struck by a commuter train after he left it at a Southern California rail crossing, resulting in a crash that injured nearly 30 people, will not face charges at this time, according to the Ventura County District Attorney's office.

The announcement came Thursday when Jose Alejandro Sanchez Ramirez, 54, of Yuma, Arizona, was scheduled to be arraigned. He was taken into custody after the crash, which critically injured four people, Tuesday before dawn on the Ventura County Line tracks between Camarillo and Oxnard, about 65 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

Prosecutors released a statement indicating that they are waiting for results of the crash investigation before making a decision.

"The ongoing investigation of this matter is complex and involves numerous local and federal agencies including the District Attorney’s Office, Oxnard Police Department, and the National Traffic Safety Board," the DA's office said in a statement. "The District Attorney must await the completion of this investigation before making a formal filing decision.  While charges will not be filed at this time, the arrest of Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez by the Oxnard Police Department was clearly appropriate and lawful."

Sanchez Ramirez was released from custody Thursday, according to his attorney. He had been in custody since his arrest Tuesday about 45 minutes after the crash on suspicion of hit-and-run after he was found about a mile away from the derailment that left his burned truck mangled and three train cars on their sides.

His attorney said Wednesday that Sanchez Ramirez accidentally drove onto the tracks and made the situation worse by continuing forward in an attempt to gathered enough momentum to get the wide pickup over the rails. He also used his high-beam headlights in an effort to warn the oncoming Metrolink commuter train, which was bound for Los Angeles.

The heavy duty Ford F-450 truck, towing a trailer, straddled the tracks and Sanchez Ramirez could not back up because he was towing a trailer, attorney Ron Bamieh said. When his efforts to move the truck failed, he ran for help, Bamieh said.

But federal investigators who arrived in Oxnard Wednesday said the truck was not stuck on the tracks in the sense that it had bottomed out at the crossing. Investigators have not ruled out that the truck was somehow stranded and will attempt to determine why it traveled 80 feet down the tracks and remained there with its parking brake engaged.

"I don't think anybody would put a car or truck on... railroad tracks and not try to get it off if there's an approaching train," Sumwalt said.

Police claim Sanchez Ramirez did not call 911 and made no immediate effort to call for assistance. Authorities would not discuss drug and alcohol test results, but Bamieh said he was told there was no sign Ramirez was impaired.

"When someone goes through a huge trauma like that and not only thinking they almost died, but they think other people are dead and you don't know what to do and you're confused... what is a normal reaction to such an event?" Bamieh said.

Ramirez had a drunken driving conviction in Arizona in 1998 and a pair of traffic citations. Bamieh said the citations were minor and the DUI was too old to be relevant to the current circumstances.

A commuter train's on-board camera captured the fiery crash and might help investigators with effort to piece together the events that led to the derailment. The video, taken from the outward-facing camera on the front car of the Metrolink train, was sent back to the Washington home of the National Transportation Safety Board for analysis, board member Robert Sumwalt said.
 



Photo Credit: Oxnard Police Department]]>
<![CDATA["Spring Forward": Apple Watch Expected at March Event]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 12:52:31 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/APPLE10.jpg

Could it be time for the Apple Watch's big debut?

In its typical mysterious style, Apple announced on Thursday it will hold a “special event” on March 9, in San Francisco. While the Cupertino company didn't mention the watch - it never publicly identifies the subjects of its much-ballyhooed unveilings - it did use a time pun in its sparsely written invitation, colored in pastels.

"Spring Forward," reads the text for the invitation-only event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco, which kicks off at 10 a.m.

Bolstering the watch theory, the company bought 12 pages of ads in Vogue magazine to tout its new Apple Watch, which is set to be released in April. The ad features three versions of the new smartwatch: the leather standard model, the rubber Sport , and the high-end Edition, all in glossy print ads.

And keen industry observers, including TechRadar, MacRumors and the Wall Street Journal predict that soon most everyone who wants one will be walking around with a new Apple wearable on their wrist.



Photo Credit: Apple invitation]]>
<![CDATA[Dogs Poisoned by Purina: Lawsuit]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 15:05:50 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/EllaRemo.JPG

It started with a phone call from his wife: We’re out of dog food.

So Frank Lucido of Discovery Bay went to the store and bought a bag of Purina’s Beneful kibble style dog foods around Christmas. His dogs loved it.

But three weeks after eating it, his eight-year-old English bulldog Dozer is dead. And his 11-year-old Labrador named Remo and 4-year-old German Shepherd named Nella are still recovering from kidney failure, lethargy and diarrhea.

“I feel very strongly there’s a definite situation with this dog food,” Lucido said Thursday in an interview. “The doctor said the dog had been poisoned. The dogs are part of the family. It’s been real rough.”

Lucido sued Nestle Purina PetCare Company Feb. 5 in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California alleging the dog food contains propylene glycol, which it says is an animal toxin used in automobile antifreeze, and mycotoxins, a group of toxins produced by fungus that occurs in grains. The suit asks for unspecified damages and to make sure Purina's products are "safe for dogs."

Lucido alleges that in the past four years there have been more than 3,000 complaints online about dogs becoming ill or dying after eating Beneful, having shown “consistent symptoms,” including stomach and related internal bleeding, liver malfunction or failure, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, weight loss, seizures and kidney failure. The complaints about Beneful report symptoms that are consistent with mycotoxin poisoning, according to the suit.

Since he filed the suit, which has gotten national media coverage, one of Lucido’s attorneys, Michael Ram of San Francisco, said at least 1,000 have come forward complaining about similar situations. The suit is seeking class-action status.

"I have never had a flood of calls and emails who said, 'The same thing happened to me.' The phone is literally ringing off the hook," Ram said.

Purina said in a statement regarding Lucido’s suit that “there are no quality issues with Beneful,” and said dog owners could continue feeding it to their dogs without any concern.

“Like other pet foods, Beneful is occasionally the subject of social media-driven misinformation,” the company said in its statement. “On-line postings often contain false, unsupported and misleading allegations that cause undue concern and confusion for our Beneful customers.”

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of propylene glycol as an additive in human food and animal feed, and Purina screens its grain to prevent mycotoxins from getting into its products, spokesman Keith Schopp said.

The FDA has not issued any warnings about Beneful kibble-style dog food. In a statement, the FDA said it does not comment on pending litigation.

Jennifer Dooren, a spokeswoman, declined to comment to the Associated Press on whether the FDA were investigating the food.

The results of toxicology testing on Lucido’s English Bulldog, Dozer, who died, are pending, according to the lawsuit.

The suit asks the court to expand the case to include other dog owners whose dogs were sickened or died. It asks for unspecified damages and restitution, although it says the claims exceed $5 million.

In recent years, Beneful has faced two lawsuits that were dismissed by the courts, according to Purina’s statement.

However, in a lawsuit settled in May, Purina and Waggin’ Train LLC agreed to create a $6.5 million fund to compensate pet owners who claimed their pets were sickened after eating China-made jerky treats.

At the time, FDA officials said the pet treats were linked to more than 1,000 deaths in dogs and more than 4,800 complaints of animal illness. Three humans were sickened after eating the treats.

For now, Lucido just wants to stop this from happening to anyone else.

“I’ve been trusting Purina for a long time,” he said. “ Purina Puppy Chow is what you fed your dog. But this is a situation people should not have to go through.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Courtesy of Frank Lucido
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<![CDATA[Road Rage Karma? Video Convicts Man]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 14:44:12 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Road-Rage-conviction-3.jpg

A San Diego man was convicted Wednesday of a violent road rage attack in part because of video he recorded on his own cell phone.

Jurors convicted Thomas Sikes, 56, of assault causing great bodily injury and elder abuse for an April 30 fight in an El Cajon parking lot.

Prosecutors characterized Sikes as a “violent bully who can’t control his anger” and presented the recording Sikes took of his confrontation with 76-year-old Ron Tornocello in a CVS Pharmacy parking lot.

“This is the a—hole that is driving here, came in here and ran through this parking lot,” Sikes says on the video as he's sitting behind the wheel of his own car in the parking lot.

Sikes continues recording as he walks up to Tornocello's car and asks him, "Do you have anything to say about your driving habit?”

A short surveillance clip released by officials shows Sikes walking across the parking lot, approaching the victim’s parked car and opening the driver's side door.

Tornocello was sitting behind the wheel of his car just outside the pharmacy's doors. He can be heard explaining to Sikes how his wife was being moved from a rehab center.

“You're going to be in a rehabilitation center in a minute,” Sikes warned.

That's when things got heated.

On the video shown to jurors in Sikes' trial Wednesday, Tornocello flipped off Sikes.

Then, as a CVS employee providing play-by-play to a 911 dispatcher described, Sikes threw a punch.

Tornocello, an Army veteran, was hospitalized for several days and required two facial reconstructive surgeries including one to repair his left eye.

A defense attorney argued his client had acted in self-defense and that it was Tornocello who first kicked Sikes in the groin.

Jurors rejected that argument and convicted Sikes on all counts. He'll face nine years in prison when he's sentenced. 


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<![CDATA[Icy Rivers, Snowy Aerials and More Spectacular Winter Sights]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 10:00:15 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/cold-weather-stock-AP762702700725.jpg

The winter just keeps on coming as storms continue to blast the eastern United States with snow and frigid temperatures that have turned landmarks like New York's Hudson River and Niagara Falls into icy wonderlands.

Here are dramatic visuals and even some odd stories like the "Loo-cy" toilet plow that we've come across amid the extreme cold.

NBC 4 New York shot this chopper video of ice floating on the Hudson River in New York City.

A drone over Niagara Falls captured this stunning view of the iced over landmark.

One Massachusetts town, Somerville, hired a company to shoot video from drones high above the city. The footage will be used to help clear snow from roofs that could be in danger of collapsing. 

In Rockville, Maryland, a man attached a plow to a motorized toilet to help clear snow.

One of the most dramatic visuals from the storm has been a geyser at Letchworth State Park in upstate New York that froze over. It became a five-story tall "ice volcano."

How long would you guess it took to freeze a T-shirt in freezing temperatures?

In Frederick, Maryland, Bradley Stelzer made a time-lapse video of a 12-inch-tall wine bottle getting covered by snow. He shot the video with his iPad Air between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Feb. 21.

If you don't have a sled, sometimes, a bucket will do in Texas.

Here's a look at other dramatic images of extreme weather since the year began.



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Congressman Seeks Medal of Honor for "American Sniper" Chris Kyle]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 10:23:10 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/kyle-memorial.jpg

A Texas congressman is pushing to grant the highest military honor to "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle.

Rep. Roger Williams, a Republican, introduced on Thursday the "Chris Kyle Medal of Honor Act," which would authorize and request President Barack Obama to posthumously award the Medal of Honor to Kyle for acts of valor during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“Chris gave the ultimate sacrifice and served his nation with distinction and bravery while saving countless American lives,” Williams said in a statement obtained by NBC News. “There is no doubt that this true American hero is worthy of our nation’s highest military honor."

Williams' office staff has been in contact with Kyle's family, who is aware of the plan.

"While the Medal of Honor will not bring back a husband, father, son and a model Texan, we owe Chris Kyle and his family a great deal of gratitude for his relentless devotion to his country," Williams said.

Kyle, a Navy SEAL, served four tours in Iraq and is credited with the most confirmed kills in U.S. military history. A film based on his book, which is in theaters now, was nominated for an Academy Award. 

Kyle and friend Chad Littlefield were shot and killed by Marine Eddie Ray Routh at a Texas shooting range in February 2013. Routh was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison for the killings earlier this week. 

The Medal of Honor has been awarded 3,507 times since its first presentation in 1863.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Dog Chewed Off Paw to Free Himself: Prosecutors]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 13:07:49 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/177*120/11-14-14_Rocky-Amputation.JPG

A flea-ridden, year-old dog was allegedly so neglected in an Orange County backyard that he had to chew off part of one leg to free himself from being entangled, said prosecutors who are accusing the dog's owner of animal abuse.

Samer Samir Ibrahim, 23, was scheduled to appear in court Thursday, accused of ignoring his dog, Rocky, in his Westminster backyard for six days in November, while Rocky's back right foot became entangled, prosecutors said Wednesday.

With blood flow cut off to the dog's leg, the 11-month-old German Shepherd chewed off about five inches of the entangled leg to free himself, according to the Orange County District Attorney's office.

Animal shelter staff reported Ibrahim to police when he brought the dog in for treatment — Ibrahim allegedly first tried to clean Rocky's leg with antiseptic wipes and covered the wound with a sock, prosecutors said.

"We removed the bandage and it was definitely a hard thing to see — he had essentially just chewed off most of his foot," said Dr. Maria Bromme, of Alicia Pet Care Center in Mission Viejo, where Rocky eventually underwent surgery.

The leg wound isn't the only complaint prosecutors had over how Ibrahim cared for Rocky. They allege that Rocky was kept in the backyard, where he caught fleas and weighed significantly less than other German shepherds.

Ibrahim faces a maximum charge of one year in jail if he's convicted of the misdemeanor counts he's facing of animal abuse and keeping an animal without proper care, according to the DA's office. He is in court Thursday to enter his plea in the case.

Rocky had the rest of his right leg amputated and has been adopted by a new family.



Photo Credit: Sean Browning]]>
<![CDATA[Eagles Acho Taking Va. Teen to Prom]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 13:45:32 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/228*120/2015-02-26_1345.png

A Loudoun County, Virginia, teen got the surprise of a lifetime Friday when Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Emmanuel Acho agreed to take her to prom.

Back in January, Hannah Delmonte reached out to Acho on Instagram and asked if he would take her to prom if she got 2,000 retweets on Twitter, Comcast SportsNet Philly reports. But Acho upped the ante -- Delmonte had to reach 10,000 retweets.

And she did.

Delmonte's post received over 17,000 retweets, far surpassing her goal.

Acho dropped by Woodgrove High School in Purcellville on Friday and surprised Delmonte with a customized Eagles jersey with the number 15 and the word "prom" written across the back.

Acho also plans to play piano and sing Delmonte a song on the night of the prom, according to Comcast SportsNet Philly. Prom is scheduled for May 9, according to the school's calendar.

Check out her priceless reaction in the video above.



Photo Credit: Comcast SportsNet Philly
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<![CDATA[Support Staff Overhear a Lot: Study]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 10:55:31 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/janitor_generic_getty.jpg

In the office, knowledge is power.

A new survey suggests that many company employees' jobs could be on the line, all because members of the support staff have overheard some incriminating conversations.

The Chicago-based career services site CareerBuilder conducted a national online survey through Harris Poll and asked 500 support staff employees about the conversations they have overheard. Those in the survey identified themselves as custodians, janitors, mailroom attendants, security guards, receptionists, facilities maintenance workers, housekeepers, administrative assistants and maintenance workers.

The results showed a staggering 11 percent of support staff workers have stumbled upon information that could cause someone to be fired, and 53 percent have overheard confidential conversations at work. The information leakage also comes from pieces of evidence left out in the open or in the trash can.

The people included in the survey also offered anecdotes about the things they have found or overheard. More than half of them -- 62 percent -- have heard other employees complaining about the boss or their co-workers. Others have picked up on conversations with more personal themes, like romantic relationships between co-workers (20 percent) or setting up another co-worker for failure (11 percent).

Among the snippets of personal information and incriminating evidence found in the trash -- or even in full view on a desk -- were a list of employee salaries, a photo of a partially dressed co-worker, an old love letter from one co-worker to another, a predetermination request for a breast augmentation procedure, a pregnancy test, a letter from the boss's mistress and a full set of keys for the entire facility.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Snowy Roof Collapse Risks: What You Should Know]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 15:23:02 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP854408341820.jpg

A month of relentless storms packing dense snow and heavy winds has left homeowners scrambling to stave off the risk of a roof collapse and prompted warnings on how to avoid one.

Yet more snow Wednesday morning pushed Boston past the 100-inch mark for the season, putting it within 8 inches of becoming the snowiest winter on record. And as the snow piled up this February, already the snowiest month in Boston history, so did the dangers to buildings.

More than 160 roofs have collapsed or faced imminent collapse since Feb. 9 in Massachusetts alone, the epicenter of this season's roof collapse epidemic, a Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency spokesman told NECN Wednesday. Most years see none. And New Hampshire has seen 10 collapses this year, the latest on Tuesday night, a spokesman for New Hampshire's agency said.

It's not just the amount of snow this month that's proven such a danger to roofs during this month's storms, experts say. It's the fierce winds that have piled it in drifts on roofs, along with the density of this particular snow — and the fact that it still hasn't had a chance to begin to melt.

"The snow has drifted in incredible amounts," explained structural engineer Tony Coviello, the principal at Summit Engineering in Portsmouth.

Those drifts can make it tough for homeowners to see how much snow has accumulated, and can create uneven snow loads on roofs, which can prove a problem, especially for older homes. "Only new buildings are really designed for drifting snow," Coviello added.

The snow that has been dumped on much of the region this month has been particularly dense snow, too, he added. He said that in Portsmouth, one foot of snow from the recent storms weighs as much as 20 pounds per square foot (PSF) — far heavier than typical snow, which can weigh as little as a third of that.

The snow isn't going away, either.

"We've had no melt-off," MEMA spokesman Peter Judge explained. "In a given year, you're going to have a couple of days. We haven't even had many sunny days, let alone warm days."

That stubborn, drifting, heavy snow poses a number of risks to roofs, a collapse being by far the most serious. But short of a collapse, heavy snow on a home's sloped roof can cause ice dams and leaks, and on a building with a flat roof, it can block heating units and cause their motors to burn out.

Here's what you need to know about the risk of a roof collapse, and what you can do about it.

TAKE STOCK OF YOUR ROOF

Homeowners should inspect their roofs from all sides for snow — not just the front, Coviello said, since the front could be clear while the back might be covered in snow drifts.

"If you look at your roof and one side looks clear, go around and check the other side. See if it's different over there," he advised.

Renters concerned about heavy snow on their roofs should ask their property managers if they've had anybody come to inspect the roof, and otherwise they should contact building inspectors, he said.

ROOF COLLAPSE WARNING SIGNS

Look for visual cues that your roof might be straining under the weight of the snow — like new cracks in walls or beams, sagging roof steel and bends in metal supports, MEMA advises.

New or severe roof leaks could be red flags, also, and be sure to listen for creaking, cracking or popping sounds or for doors that pop open on their own.

If your building's sprinkler heads are suddenly pushed down below the ceiling tiles or pipes along the ceiling appear bowed, those could signal the possibility of a collapse, too. So can doors or windows that are suddenly tough to open.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO

"In general, what I tell my friends is that if you have over 2 feet of snow on your roof, remove it," Coviello advised, though he cautioned that his tip was a rule of thumb and that the amount of snow a roof can handle varies.

Use a snow rake to remove heavy snow from a pitched roof, starting from the edge and working your way in. Snow rakes are generally available from most hardware stores.

It's best to shave the snow down to just a few inches, instead of scraping it completely clean and risking damage to roof shingles. While you're at it, clear your gutters and drains, and remove large icicles hanging over doorways and walkways.

AVOIDING THE RISKS

Homeowners should remove snow from their sloped roofs from the safety of the ground — not only to avoid adding weight to an already strained roof, but also to avoid the risk of a potentially deadly fall.

In Massachusetts this week, one man died after he fell through a skylight while clearing a roof in Canton, and a teen was seriously injured in Westwood in a similar accident. Numerous other people have died or been hurt in other snow-related falls from roofs across the region this season.

"Don't go up there yourself," Coviello stressed. "Get a roof rake; hire a general contractor."

When you clear your roof, be sure to wear goggles and proper protective gear, and keep ladders and other tools away from utility wires so you don't electrocute yourself. Plastic snow rakes are preferable to metal — they carry less risk should they hit a utility line, and they're less likely to damage roofs.

Remember, too, that as you begin to clear your roof, you could risk triggering an avalanche, warned Michael Todd, a spokesman for the New Hampshire Department of Safety. Make sure your ladder placement is safe and you're wearing a harness, he said.

WHOM YOU SHOULD CONSULT

"If you have any doubts about the safety of your roof or of your house, you should get an engineer in," Todd advises. And if you think your roof may be about to collapse, leave the building and contact your local building inspector and a professional engineer immediately, Coviello adds.

If you aren't in fear of an imminent collapse, you can also contact your local building or fire department with general questions about your roof, MEMA adds.

Boston residents can also contact the city's Inspectional Services Department with questions about snow removal at 617-635-5300, or call the mayor's 24-hour hotline at 617-635-4500.

Be discriminating if you're hiring a roofing contractor to repair your roof. Massachusetts residents should beware of roofing scams and look to hire licensed contractors with local references, roofing credentials, insurance and written manufacturer and labor warranties, officials say, while New Hampshire residents should insist on recent references and be sure contractors are insured, Coviello and Todd say.

WHAT COMES NEXT

For homeowners, the need for vigilance doesn't end once the snow has been removed. After clearing the snow off the roof, Coviello advises homeowners to check their attics for cracks or broken rafters and, if necessary, to hire somebody to fix them or reinforce the roof.

Barring that, he said, a home's roof might be in the clear.

"If you think you've escaped any problems and you've removed the snow, then count your blessings — and let's hope spring comes soon."



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Aide Stole From Preschoolers?]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 10:00:22 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Rosa-Rios-Lead.jpg

A New Jersey school bus aide was arrested after she allegedly stole bagged lunches and money from dozens of preschool students.

Rosa Rios, 33, of Millville, New Jersey, was arrested Friday and charged with robbery and theft. Rios worked as a bus aide for the Sheppard Bus Service.

A Millville Police Officer said she was looking over surveillance footage from a school bus in the company back on Feb. 4 while investigating whether money was stolen from the bus driver. She then spotted Rios on camera going through the students’ backpacks, police said. In all, Rios stole lunch money and bagged lunches from 29 kids between the ages of three and five, according to investigators.

Police said the thefts took place between the beginning of January and the beginning of February.

Rios is currently being held in Cumberland County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail. Police also said she no longer works at Sheppard Bus Service and the company is working with them to obtain more surveillance footage.
 



Photo Credit: Cumberland County Jail ]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Arrested in Hate Crime Misidentified as Suspect, Charges Dropped: NYPD]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 11:57:24 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/145th+street+station.jpg

A New York City Department of Social Services worker who had been charged with assault as a hate crime after law enforcement sources said she allegedly grabbed a woman by the hair at a Manhattan subway station, threw her into a pole and made racial remarks has been cleared of wrongdoing, and police say her arrest stemmed from a witness misidentifying her at the scene. 

The arrest of the 43-year-old woman in connection with the attack inside the 145th Street A-C-B-D station around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday has been voided, the NYPD said Thursday afternoon.

The reversal came about 12 hours after the NYPD announced her arrest on hate crime charges. 

It's not clear how police realized her arrest was based on misinformation, nor is it known if they have another suspect in the case. 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Mexico Wants Probe of Texas Slaying]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 08:16:52 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/119818994.jpg

The Mexican government on Wednesday demanded an investigation into the shooting death of an unarmed undocumented immigrant last week by a Grapevine, Texas, police officer, calling the killing a "disproportionate use of lethal force."

Rubén García Villalpando, a native of Mexico’s Durango state, died early Saturday after Officer Robert Clark shot him twice in the chest.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs deeply condemns the death of 31-year-old Mexican national Rubén García Villalpando," the Mexican government stated in an official letter to the police departments of Grapevine, Euless and the Tarrant County District Attorney's office.

The statement called the shooting a "disproportionate use of lethal force that results in the unnecessary loss of life and erodes the trust that should exist between the authorities and the communities in which they operate."

The shooting happened at about 7 p.m. on Friday night, Feb. 20, immediately following a high-speed chase on Texas State Highway 121 that began in Grapevine, but ended in Euless.

Police said Clark, a member of the Grapevine Police Department since May 2014, responded to an alarm at a building in the 3500 block of William D. Tate Avenue.

After investigating the alarm, and communicating over the police radio that he believed it to be a false alarm, Clark drove through the parking lot and noticed García Villalpando's car stopped in the entrance on the lot's west side, police said.

Clark activated his red and blue emergency lights, according to Grapevine police, but García Villalpando drove out of the parking lot and entered the southbound service road of Highway 121.

Clark then activated his siren and communicated by radio he was in pursuit, police said, as García Villalpando's car entered Highway 121 at a high rate of speed.

Dash camera video shows García Villalpando "weaving through and around the heavy traffic and driving on the shoulder of the highway attempting to evade Officer Clark," according to the official timeline of events released by the Grapevine Police Department.

Once García Villalpando eventually stopped on the shoulder of the Cheek Sparger Road exit, Clark "gives verbal commands to Mr. Villalpando to keep his hands out of his car," police noted.

García Villalpando approached Clark and ignored repeated instructions to stop, according to police. The dash-cam video shows Villalpando raise his hands and put them on his head, while continuing to walk towards the officer, police said. 

Villalpando was shot twice and was flown to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, where he later died.

Clark has been placed on routine administrative leave. Police are investigating the shooting.

Police has shown the dash camera video to several members of García Villalpando's family and their attorneys.

"Much, much worse than Ferguson," said Attorney Domingo Garcia, referring to the officer-involved shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, in Ferguson, Missouri last summer. "This is an absolute cold-blooded murder by a man wearing a badge and a uniform."

Both Attorney Garcia, who has viewed the video, along with activist Carlos Quintanilla acknowledged that Garcia Villalpando was wrong to run from the officer, and to approach the officer despite his commands to stop.

"But at the same time, you do not shoot an unarmed man with his hands on his head," Garcia told NBCDFW.

"He didn't lunge at the officer. He wasn't aggressive at the officer, he had no arms toward the officer, he had no weapons and yet the officer shot him twice," Quintanilla said.

Family members have stated they want to know why Clark did not approach Garcia Villalpando and cuff him if he was a suspect in a crime, or why the officer did not use a TASER instead of a pistol.

In a statement to NBC DFW, a Grapevine police spokesperson said that their officers are not issued TASERs.

Garcia Villalpando leaves behind a wife, Martha, and four young children.

"As his wife, I'm suffering," Martha Garcia said, in Spanish, outside of her husband's funeral Wednesday. "But my kids aren't going to have their father. I want justice for my children," Garcia said, wiping away tears.

Wednesday night, Euless police - the department handling the investigation of the shooting - acknowledged receipt of the letter from the Mexican consulate.

"We have received a letter from the consulate. We have a meeting scheduled with them in the morning," Lt. Eric Starnes said. "As for the video, we are still taking statements from witnesses and have more scheduled through this weekend. Release of the video has a strong potential to affect witness testimony and for that reason I do not have an answer as to when it will be released."

The fatal police shooting comes 10 days after police in Pasco, Washington, fatally shot another Mexican immigrant, Antonio Zambrano Montes, sparking street protests.

The following is taken directly from the Grapevine police timeline of the shooting: 

Mr. Villalpando gets out of the car with his hands up and stands outside his car, while Officer Clark commands him to stop. Officer Clark gives him further commands to not move.

Mr. Villalpando, contrary to clear instructions, walks toward Officer Clark while Clark is repeatedly telling him to stop. The video shows Mr. Villalpando raising his hands and/or placing them on his head, while continuing to walk towards Officer Clark. This continues as Mr. Villalpando walks to the front bumper of Officer Clark's patrol vehicle, off camera view.

Officer Clark continues to tell Mr. Villalpando to get to the back of the car. Two shots are then heard. Officer Clark notifies dispatch that "shots were fired" and he requests paramedics.

Garcia Villalpando was flown to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, where he later died.



Photo Credit: Getty Images/Flickr RF]]>
<![CDATA[Dead Dogs Facebook Photo Probed]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 08:16:30 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dogs+Killed+022515.jpg

A North Texas volunteer firefighter is under criminal investigation after authorities say he posted a picture of two dead dogs on Facebook along with a message to his neighbors that he had warned them to keep the animals away from his house.

The photo on Hunt County volunteer firefighter Tim Conatser's Facebook account showed the two dogs, apparently shot to death, along with the warning: "Somebody didn't put any truth my warning. Keep your damn dogs on your property."

Conatser could not be reached for comment.

The Union Valley Volunteer Fire Department's chief Edward Ragsdale said he suspended Conatser after he learned of the Facebook post.

"This is an individual that's a volunteer with our department,” Ragsdale said. "We can't be responsible for his actions when he's off duty."

Still, the chief said, the tiny department was getting bombarded on social media with angry messages -- even death threats -- from around the world.

"We've had I don't know how many hits," he said. "We've had (them) from as far away as England, Portugal, Canada, every state in the union."

Hunt County Constable Terry Jones said his office has launched a criminal investigation based on the Facebook post.

He said he did not know who owned the dogs and added that nobody had filed a complaint.

News of the Facebook post spread quickly in Hunt County, where many people were critical.

"I don't think you should have put that on social media, and the way he made it sound is horrible," said Brittany Clark, who works at a Royse City insurance office.



Photo Credit: Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[9 Stunning Aerial Photographs of Frozen NYC]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 12:55:36 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/nyFrozenAerials-AP_926042771706.jpg See stunning aerial photographs of a frozen New York City. A wide swath of the country was shivering in freezing, record-breaking temperatures while other areas were expecting more winter precipitation this week.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Teen, Dad Arrested on Sex Assault, Child Porn Charges]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 06:16:53 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/dad+son+arrest+child+porn.jpg

A New Jersey father was arrested on child porn charges after police executed a search warrant at his home in a sexual assault investigation involving his teenage son, prosecutors say. 

Richard Stoldt, 58, and James Stoldt, 19, were arrested after the search at their Midland Park home in Bergen County Tuesday.

Prosecutors had been investigating James Stoldt for an alleged sexual assault of a now 14-year-old girl. According to the Bergen County prosecutor's office, James Stoldt assaulted the girl when she was 13, but she only recently disclosed to a friend what happened. 

The friend contacted police, who in turn interviewed the girl and then went to arrest James Stoldt, prosecutors said.

When authorities executed a search warrant at his home, they seized computers that allegedly revealed that both James Stoldt and his father Richard were each accessing child pornography independently. 

James Stoldt was arrested on sex assault and child endangerment charges, while Richard Stoldt, a software engineer, was arrested on a charge of child endangerment. 

The teen was remanded to Bergen County Jail on $125,000 bail and Richard Stoldt was released on his own recognizance. 

Attorney information wasn’t available. A person who picked up the phone at the number listed for the residence hung up when asked for a comment.

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<![CDATA[Texas Mother Arrested for Pulling Gun on Student]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 05:27:33 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/alvarez1.jpg

A Texas mother has been arrested after police say she pulled a gun on a student.

According to officials with the Pasadena Independent School District, two female students were fighting at a park near Pasadena High School Tuesday when one of the girl's mothers took out a gun.

Pasadena ISD police arrived at the scene and arrested Viridiana Alvarez, charging her with aggravated assault.

The district sent out a letter to parents Wednesday regarding the incident.

The fight was recorded on someone's cell phone.

Houston NBC affiliate, KPRC, contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Pasadena Police Dept.]]>
<![CDATA[Man Shocked at $452 Uber Charge for 12-Mile Ride]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 04:59:14 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/0225-2015-UberBill.jpg

A South Bay man is asking ride-sharing service Uber to reduce his fare after he was charged $452 for a 30-minute, 12-mile ride.

Rafael Hernandez, a San Jose, California, resident, used the Uber service Saturday after the San Jose Sharks game at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara. He said he opted for Uber, knowing surge pricing was in effect, due to the light rail being overcrowded.

"I was in shock," Hernandez said after seeing how much he owed.

Hernandez reached out to Uber asking for a price reduction. A representative suggested to always get a fare estimate and wait for surge pricing to end.

"The Uber app was created to give riders a safe, reliable option to move around town at the tap of a button," the company said in a statement. "Dynamic pricing makes it possible for Uber to meet that same standard for reliability, even during times of high-demand."

Hernandez said Uber may be reliable, but it's not reasonable. He adds that he no longer plans to use the service.

"I would recommend to not use Uber at big event because that's what I did -- and I learned the hard way," Hernandez said.

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<![CDATA[Top News Photos of the Week]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 05:13:48 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/bratton-islamic-state-presser-AP_617894346352.jpg View weekly updates on the very best photos in domestic and foreign news.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Child Left in Cold Car]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 22:07:20 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Mirella-Rodriguez.jpg

A mother was arrested after she allegedly left her 1-year-old child alone in the car during a freezing cold night in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Mirella Rodriguez, 23, parked on the 800 block of St. John Street in Allentown Tuesday. Police say the mother of three took her 2-year-old child inside a barbershop to get a haircut but left her sleeping 1-year-old baby inside her vehicle unattended.  At the time it was about 20 degrees in Allentown with a wind chill of 9 degrees and her car was not running, investigators said.

An Allentown Parking Authority officer saw the baby alone in the car and police were called to the scene. Investigators say the baby was inside the car for about 45 minutes before police arrived.

Rodriguez was arrested Tuesday night and charged with endangering the welfare of a child. The child, who police say is doing fine, was placed in the custody of her grandfather.

NBC10 visited Rodriguez’s home Wednesday to get her side of the story. She did not want to speak with us however. Rodriguez’s father, who did not want to be identified, defended his daughter, calling her a caring and diligent mother who made a mistake.

“She should be charged with stupidity,” he said.

Rodriguez also defended herself on her Facebook page.

“Anybody who knows me personally knows I’m a great mother and would never purposely harm my child,” she said.  “I'm all about my children and working. For those of you who don’t know me just know they blew the whole story out of proportion. If you've been involved with the cops you know first-hand how they are.”
 

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<![CDATA[Conn. Man Gave Iran Secrets: Feds]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 19:15:42 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/F-22+jet.jpg

A former Manchester resident pleaded guilty in federal court to stealing military secrets and trying to send them to Iran, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Mozaffar Khazaee, 60, entered the guilty plea Wednesday in Hartford and will face up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

Federal prosecutors said Khazaee leaked military secrets to Iran while working for U.S. defense contractors between 2009 and 2013.

“While employed with U.S. defense contractors, Mozaffar Khazaee stole sensitive, proprietary and controlled technology to send it to Iran,” U.S. Attorney Dierdre Daly said in a statement Wednesday. “The illegal export of our military technology compromises U.S. national security and reduces the advantages our armed forces currently possess.”

According to the U.S. attorney's office, in November and December 2009, Khazaee sent an email to someone in Iran containing classified information about the U.S. Joint Strike Fighter Program.

“Some of these are very controlled… and I am taking [a] big risk. Again please after downloading these two Power Point files delete everything immediately,” he allegedly wrote.

Khazaee also wrote in multiple other letters that “as lead engineer in these projects I have learned some of the key technique[s] that could be transferred to our own industry and universities.”

He added that he was “looking for an opportunity to work in Iran, and… transferring my skill and knowledge to my nation,” prosecutors said.

According to the U.S. attorney’s office, Khazaee sent a shipment intended for Iran from Connecticut to Long Beach, California in November 2013.

Insides were thousands of sensitive manuals and documents pertaining to military jet engines, which Kazaee was not authorized to give out.

He was arrested at Newark Liberty International Airport while trying to board a flight for Iran on Jan. 9, 2014. Prosecutors said Khazaee had more sensitive information in his luggage.

Khazaee will be sentenced May 20.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Driver "Did Best He Could" to Free Truck in Train Crash]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 14:47:07 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/knbc-jose-alejandro-sanchez-ramirez.jpg

The lawyer for the truck driver arrested in the Southern California commuter train crash said his client "did the best he could" to free his truck from the tracks and run for help in the moments before the train barreled into it and derailed injuring 28 people.

Attorney Ron Bamieh said his client, Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez, made a wrong turn onto railroad tracks in farmland in Ventura County and got stuck.

"Unfortunately, Mr. Sanchez misperceived the railroad tracks to be the road," Bamieh said during a Wednesday news conference. "The (truck) became entangled on those tracks. He tried his best to get it off the tracks. Unfortunately, he was unable to do that."

Sanchez-Ramirez, 54, of Yuma, Arizona, is in jail on charges of felony hit-and-run in connection with the pre-dawn collision Tuesday in Oxnard, about 65 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

Oxnard Assistant Police Chief Jason Benites said Tuesday that Sanchez-Ramirez abandoned the commercial truck and was found about 1 1/2 miles away in apparent distress.

Ventura County prosecutors were reviewing the case to determine whether to file charges.

Bamieh said it was an unfortunate accident, that the intersection in question has been long known as a problem and that city officials had been raising money to build a bridge to prevent crashes there.

He said his client, whose Ford F-450 pickup with trailer carrying mechanical equipment for harvest machinery, was driving Tuesday morning to familiarize himself with his work route, a day before he was set to do a job in Oxnard.

He had driven from Yuma on Monday and arrived in Southern California that night, the lawyer said.

As he was stuck on the tracks, he hit his high beams to warn the oncoming train. He tried to push his two-ton truck off the tracks but couldn't. He ran away to save his own life, his attorney said.

"His first reaction was to find help on foot," Bamieh said. "He did the best he could and that's all he could do."



Photo Credit: Oxnard Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[3 Men Charged in Plot to Join ISIS]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 10:37:43 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/bratton-islamic-state-presser-AP_617894346352.jpg

Three Brooklyn men who allegedly plotted to travel to Syria to join ISIS and posted online messages about planting a bomb on Coney Island and shooting police officers were taken into custody during FBI terror raids Wednesday, authorities said.

The men, 24- and 30-year-old Uzbekistan citizens and a 19-year-old Kazakhstan citizen who all lived in Brooklyn, allegedly planned to return to New York to commit a domestic act of terror if they failed to join the group overseas, law enforcement officials said.

The youngest man, identified in a criminal complaint as Akhror Saidakhmetov, allegedly posted on an Uzbek-language website in the last six months that he would buy a machine gun and shoot police officers and FBI agents if his plan to join ISIS was thwarted. In August, 24-year-old suspect Abdurasul Hasanofvich Juraboev posted on the board that he would kill President Obama if ISIS asked him to and asked for help getting weapons, according to the complaint.

He also said he would plant a bomb on Coney Island if the terror group asked, the complaint said. 

Law enforcement officials say any potential homegrown threat was aspirational, not operational, but authorities moved in because they believed the suspects' plans to travel abroad were imminent and their alleged intent to join ISIS real. Agents had been tracking the men for about eight months.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the suspects made statements that indicated their intent to carry out a domestic attack -- specifically by attacking police officers -- if they couldn't join ISIS.

“This is real," the police commissioner said. "This is the concern about the lone wolf inspired to act without ever going to the Mideast -- or the concern of once they get to the Mideast, acquire fighting skills, capabilities and then attempting to return to the country."

Court documents highlight the extent of the suspects' alleged intentions. In a recorded conversation in January, Saidakhmetov told an FBI informant he would "just go and buy a machine gun, AK-47, go out and shoot all police," if he could not get travel documents to Syria, according to the complaint.

"We will go and purchase one handgun ... then go and shoot one police officer. Boom ... Then, we will take his gun, bullets and a bulletproof vest ... then, we will do the same with a couple of others. Then we will go to the FBI headquarters, kill the FBI people," Saidakhmetov said, according to the complaint. 

Saidakhmetov was arrested early Wednesday at John F. Kennedy International Airport, where he was attempting to board a flight to Istanbul. Juraboev had already bought a plane ticket to Istanbul from New York and was scheduled to leave March 29. According to the complaint, the 30-year-old suspect Abror Habibov, operated a domestic support network that helped fund Saidakhmetov's efforts to join ISIS abroad. Habibov operates kiosks that sell kitchenware and repair mobile phones in retail malls in several states; he employed Saidakhmetov last fall and winter.

Last week, Saidakhmetov called his mother to ask for his passport, and when she asked him where he was going, he said, "If a person has a chance to join Islamic State and does not go there, on judgment day he will be asked why, and that it is a sin to live in the land of infidels," according to the complaint. Around the same time, federal agents observed Saidakhmetov and Habibov arrive at a Coney Island Avenue travel agency. That was when Saidakhmetov bought the ticket to Istanbul. 

Frank Cakir, the travel agent who sold Saidakhmetov the ticket, said the 19-year-old seemed young, "like a kid, not even an adult." Cakir said the suspect spoke English well and seemed calm. He only spent five to 10 minutes in the travel agency and bought a ticket to Istanbul on Ukraine Airlines. Federal officials say Habibov waited outside for Saidakhmetov and the two left in a car together. 

Cakir said there was "nothing unusual about him." He said he was shocked to learn the young man was allegedly trying to join ISIS, and that his hands hadn't stopped shaking. 

All three suspects have been charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a terror group, officials said. Juraboev and Saidakhmetov appeared in Brooklyn court later Wednesday, and were each ordered held without bail, with U.S. Attorney Douglas Pravda arguing that the suspects "present a flight risk and pose a threat to the community." 

Habibov had an additional court appearance in Florida. If convicted, each man faces up to 15 years in prison.

Saidakhmetov's attorney says his client was a "young, innocent kid." Juraboev's attorney didn't comment.

"We all take the threat of ISIS very seriously The vigilance levels that we maintain every day are our best shield," Mayor de Blasio said. "We are going to continue to deepen our anti-terrorism capacity. A lot of what we are trying to do is not only making sure we have the number of officers on anti-terror duty that we need, the training, the equipment, but that we are constantly deepening our relationship with communities all over the city so that there is a flow of information."

The mayor referred questions about the Brooklyn investigation to the FBI.

“The defendants looked to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, by flying to Turkey in a vain attempt to evade detection. And several of the defendants planned to commit acts of terror here—in America—if they could not travel, to include killing FBI agents," FBI Assistant Director in Charge Diego Rodriguez said in a statement. " The defendants violated the true tenants of their faith in pursuit of their radical, violent agenda. We rely on help from the community, the public and religious leaders to be mindful of those who could be radicalized. We cannot do this alone.”

The Brooklyn arrests come about a month after an audio recording purportedly released by ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani urged supporters to carry out lone wolf attacks. The message was posted on Twitter and jihadi forums. Intelligence analysts said the recording, which praised recent attacks in France, Australia, Canada and Belgium, appeared to be authentic, NBC News reported.

In September, members of online ISIS message boards encouraged similar "lone wolf" attacks on Times Square and other high-profile locations around the U.S. using homemade explosives. Bratton said at the time there was no credible information pointing to any terror plot against the city, though security was stepped up as a precautionary measure.

The NYPD routinely enhances security based on threats or terror acts overseas, but the additional measures are in line with standard police procedure and not a response to a specific threat.

Such potential "lone wolf" threats as the ones mentioned in the purported January ISIS recording were a particular focus of a November NYPD counterterrorism conference, and Bratton said the department is investing more time and resources in monitoring extremist-influenced websites and social media.

In September, federal authorities in upstate New York charged a Rochester-area man with terror-related charges after they say he alleged tried to buy guns to support ISIS and boasted about wanting to kill American soldiers.

ISIS is notorious for using message boards and social media to lure recruits. Authorities are continuing to look for three missing London schoolgirls believed to have left home to join the terror group; authorities believe they have already crossed into Syria.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for killing several American hostages, including journalists James Foley, Steven Sotloff and aid worker Peter Kassig. Another captive American, 26-year-old aid worker Kayla Mueller, was confirmed dead on Feb. 10, four days after ISIS claimed she had been killed in an airstrike in Syria. 

-Pete Williams and Michael George contributed to this report



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Chicago Mayoral Runoff Heats Up]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 16:38:00 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Emanuel-Garcia.jpg

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and rival Jesus "Chuy" Garcia kicked off part two of the campaign early Wednesday morning, heading out to greet voters just hours after election results sparked an unprecedented runoff. 

Emanuel, who fell short of the 50-percent-plus-one support he needed to win a second term outright in Tuesday's municipal election, tweeted a photo of himself, coffee in hand, greeting voters at the 95th Street Red Line stop. 

"It's a warm reception after the election but my goal is to earn people's support," Emanuel told WVON after his appearance. "And I did it this morning and I'm going to continue to be throughout the city at every L stop, grocery store and meet the voters and talking to them about the choices we have to make and do you have the plan and perseverance to make progress in this city throughout every neighborhood."

Garcia, meanwhile, told reporters that he was feeling good as he started the day at the Brown Line Merchandise Mart stop. 

"All along we had said that people in Chicago, especially neighborhoods, wanted change," he told NBC 5 in an interview. "They felt left behind, they felt like special interests had had their way for too long and they had something to say and they said it yesterday,"

He said he looks forward to continuing his campaign to connect with a diverse cross-section of Chicago voters. 

"We campaigned throughout the city of Chicago that we truly embraced the multi-racial, multi-ethnic type of coalition that's required to effectively govern and include everyone in the city of Chicago," he said.

While Emanuel lead by double digits in the polls on Tuesday, the runoff result was seen as a victory for Garcia and the Chicago Teachers Union and progressives that backed his bid against the powerful incumbent. Emanuel, a former congressman and White House chief of staff, spent millions on his bid to win a second term as the mayor of the nation's third most populous city, blanketing the airwaves and calling on President Barack Obama for help on the campaign trail.

But those efforts failed to give him the boost he needed to win over enough voters to secure a second term while avoiding going head-to-head against Garcia in a second round of balloting. The April 7 election will mark the first time since the city changed its election process in the 1990s that an incumbent mayor has been forced into a runoff race. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[2-Year-Old Son of NFL Long Snapper Sings National Anthem]]> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 02:48:08 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/AP828165311104.jpg

Forget football! The 2-year-old son of Cincinnati Bengals' long snapper showed he is ready for the stage when he belted out the National Anthem at a high school basketball game.

The NFL player, Clark Harris, held son Trent's hand as he led him to the court for the tot's performance.

Decked out in a blazer and with hair reminiscent of his father's mane, Trent sang in front of a packed gym ahead of a matchup between the Southern Regional High School and Pinelands Regional High School boys' basketball teams.

Clark's wife and proud mom, Jessica, posted Trent's rendition to YouTube, captioning the video: "My sons first performance!! ... I'm so proud!!!" 

Watch the full video below.



Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
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<![CDATA[Pup Found in Suitcase Can Now Walk]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 19:10:28 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/fraggle+pit+bull+recovery+1.jpg

The starving dog found inside a zipped suitcase outside a Bronx apartment building is showing signs of recovery at the animal hospital where he's being treated, officials say. 

The 3-year-old pit bull mix, since named Fraggle, was so badly malnourished and in poor health that doctors had to administer life-saving medical treatment after he was found in the Melrose Housing Development at 700 Morris Ave. on Jan. 22. 

One month later, Fraggle has started to eat on his own and can even walk small distances without help, according to the ASPCA. 

It's a miraculous recovery given that he was perilously close to death when he was found, according to ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Group Senior Director Howard Lawrence.

"Fraggle would likely not have survived much longer in the suitcase given his fragile state," said Lawrence. "This was a deliberate and callous act of cruelty that deserve justice."  

Fraggle will continue to recover at the ASPCA Hospital. In the meantime, a reward of $22,000 is still being offered by both the ASPCA and the NYPD for information leading an arrest and conviction in the case.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS. 

nyc, malnourished pitbull puppy bronx, puppy in suitcase, pit bull puppy suitcase, nypd finds pit bull puppy suitcase

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<![CDATA[Neighbors Want Swastika Display Out]]> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 13:43:25 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/KCRA_Swatztika_UCDavis1.jpg

A man in the Sacramento area won't take down the swastika displays outside of his house despite vocal opposition from neighbors and a national anti-hate group.

Large swastikas dotting Israeli and American flags were spotted draped over the front of the home at 3805 Moddison Avenue in Sacramento's River Park neighborhood, according to NBC affiliate KCRA.

A structure of what appears to be a man in Army green holding his hands up, along with a Palestinian flag, also dot the display. Christmas lights are strung over the display so that it's highly visible at night. 

Seth Brysk, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League in San Francisco, told NBC Bay Area that displaying an Isaeli flag with a swastika likely implies that the homeowner is comparing staunch Israel supporters to Nazis. He called the display "repugnant."

"Such a gratuitous and offensive display of swastikas has no place in Sacramento or anywhere else," Brysk said, adding that while the consitution guarantees freedom of speech and expression there is no place for "bigoted and anti-Semitic expressions like these."

Residents of the River Park neighborhood told KCRA on Tuesday that they’ve asked the unidentified homeowner to take down the swastikas. But the homeowner refused and called the flags his art, the news station reported. The homeowner also refused to speak with KCRA about why he had swastikas in front of his house. 

Separate public displays involving anti-Jewish imagery have been posted recently in the nearby city of Davis, though for seemingly different reasons.

On Jan 30, a Jewish fraternity at UC Davis was vandalized with swastikas.

A week prior, at a separate Jewish organization on the UC Davis campus, a janitor found anti-Jewish graffiti in a toilet stall. The city of Davis police department is investigating both incidents as hate crimes.



Photo Credit: KCRA]]>
<![CDATA[Weeks-Old Baby Missing in Calif.]]> Tue, 24 Feb 2015 12:46:00 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Yolo+Missing+Baby.jpg

A weeks-old baby was found dead Wednesday morning in a Northern California body of water, according to Yolo County sheriff's officials, who identified him as the missing 20-day-old Justice Rees.

Sheriff's Capt. Larry Cecchettini said Justice was found just before 10 a.m. after crews from across the state had been searching for him along the Ridge Cut Slough, a wetlands area found along an ocean bay, at the junction of the Sacramento River in Knight's Landing. Justice had been reported missing since Monday.

In an interview with the Sacramento Bee, Cecchettini said "it's too early to tell if there was foul play." He also told the paper there was no evidence to suggest it was a homicide.

Police from all over California had been searching for Justice in Knight’s Landing, according to Woodland Police Capt. Dale Johnson, after the baby's mother called 911 in a panic about 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Johnson told NBC Bay Area Wednesday that the baby's mother, 23-year-old Samantha Green, was also considered missing for a time. She turned up late Tuesday afternoon in the town of Knight's Landing, on a levee road near the Sycamore Slough along the Sacramento River.

Johnson said she was "distraught and disheveled consistent with someone that had come from the slough." She also had some injuries, and she was taken to the hospital for treatment and evaluation, Johnson said.

He said authorities don't know why she appeared without the baby, or what brought her to Knight's Landing — a Northern California town with a population of about 995 people. As far as he knows, she has no known links to that town, although she has family nearby in Woodland, which is about 10 miles away.

Green's sister, Aissa Green, asked for privacy on her Facebook page around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday. 

"I have seen some very upsetting comments circulating as well as many assumptions," she wrote. "And it's only making things harder."

Right now, she wrote, "we are focused on the search for Baby Justice."

Various police agencies had helped to look for the boy, including search and rescue crews from Marin County, according to Sheriff's Lt. Doug Pittman.

The Yolo County Sheriff asked the California Office of Emergency Services for help, and authorities in Contra Costa, Alameda, Sonoma and Napa counties were also asked to assist, mostly to send search dogs.

NBC Bay Area's Jodi Hernandez contributed to this report.


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