<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Top Stories]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.comen-usTue, 21 Feb 2017 09:00:51 -0800Tue, 21 Feb 2017 09:00:51 -0800NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Lost at Sea: Expert Diver Mysteriously Disappears]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 23:56:11 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/209*120/lostatsea-valker-022017.jpg

Laurel Silver-Valker's sons never worried about their mother scuba diving.

"It brought her peace," Alex Valker said

She was an educator from Tustin, and an experienced diver.

"She was a teacher at life. This whole place is a classroom for her," her son said.

On December 29, 2015, she was embarking on nearly her 1,000th dive.

It would be her last.

Laurel was lost at sea.

"It was a shock," her son Graham Valker said.

"When my father told me she was missing -- I no longer felt her, she was gone," Alex said.

Laurel went on a diving trip with Sundiver Express -- a regular. She sometimes volunteered as a crew member.

It was bright skies and calm seas as they left long beach headed to Ship Rock, the first dive site.

Attorney David Rose, defending Sundiver in a civil lawsuit, acknowledges the captain helped Laurel into the water.

"She watched her descend 15-20 feet. Laurel gave the thumbs up," Rose said.

That was the last time Laurel was seen alive.

The captain is responsible for everyone who steps onto their boat," said Jeffrey Salberg, attorney for Laurel's sons.

NBC4 obtained Coast Guard documents that confirm Laurel's name was not on the initial passenger roster.

It is the very same list used to make sure that all divers are out of the water and back on the boat.

It wasn't until the boat reached a second dive location that the crew noticed Laurel's gear was not on board and she was nowhere to be found.

"It didn't have to end this way," Salberg said. "The fact that they are still operating is a travesty."

Salberg points to another incident where a diver was stranded at sea.

The dive was run by a separate charter company but it was a Sundiver ship -- and a Sundiver captain.

Sundiver attorney's Rose says the charter rented the entire boat and was running the dive.

"It was their trip tour and roll call procedures. Since that incident - they don't do that anymore - the boat, the captain is responsible for making sure the roll calls are handled properly," Rose said.

Dan Carlock told the Today Show how he survived five hours drifting in the water before being rescued by Boy Scouts on a sailing trip.

"I was getting the chills...shivering a bit," he said on the program.

Laurel would not be so lucky.

When questioned by NBC4 who is responsible for Laurel's death, Sundiver's attorney responded: "Good question. Not my clients...I think it's an unfortunate accident."

Rose argues that diving is "inherently dangerous" and Laurel was in no shape to dive that day.

"She had a half hour sleep the night before - that is not conducive to a safe dive," he said.

Rose says she made multiple risky decisions.

"She was diving without any buoyancy vest that day," Rose said. "She was not diving with a buddy - and she was going deep and she had no surface signaling device."

Laurel suffered from fibromyalgia. Diving deep relieved her chronic pain.

"She had no pain when she was in the water," her son Graham said.

Laurel's body has never been recovered.

When asked if it would give her sons a sense of comfort if she was found, Graham said no.

"The ocean is her home," he said.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[SoCal Beauty After the Storms]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 07:23:53 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/knbc-beauty-storm-tn-2.jpg The sun is shining and skies are blue again in Southern California following a series of punishing storms.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Descanso Cherry Blossom: New Reservations]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 08:53:14 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/descansocherry2017_123.jpg

Spying your very first cherry blossom of the season can involve a bit of lovely luck. You have to be sauntering down the right lane, on the right day, with the right weather (nothing too stormy, so the buds stay on the branches), and, for the most part, you'll need to look up.

But when you do happen to see that delicate flower, all pink and white and here-today-y and gone-tomorrow-y, well, it's a slice of spring's-a-comin' magic. It's a slice many spring lovers are looking for each year at our larger botanical and public gardens, which are some of the locations a flower fan can count on, as far as finding cherry blossoms.

That, however, has made these gardens way popular. As in, WAY, as in no fooling around here, meaning this: Descanso Gardens has not only extended its very well-attended Cherry Blossom Festival to two weekends, but there's a new reservation system for securing your entry.

These bookings "must be made in advance," so don't drive to the La Cañada Flintridge flowerland without having secured a slot on the day you want to enjoy the blossoms and numerous blossom-based activities.

The 2017 dates? Just keep the first two weekends in March in mind, which is a cinch to remember, if you know that's when cherry blossoms generally like to do their stuff around Southern California. In other words, March 4, 5, 11, and 12 are your dates.

Cherry tree sales, origami, special nature walks, and special music performances highlighting traditional Japanese instruments are on the delightful docket.

So, again, the new things to remember: The biggest festival on the Descanso Gardens calendar is now two weekends, and you'll need to make a reservation ahead of time. 

Do so soon, for like a cherry blossom has a rather beautiful predictability — it will fall from the branch eventually — we can also predict this, given the popularity of past years: The festival will be booked, booked, booked.

We say "WAY" before and we certainly we're joking or being dramatic. This is a beloved blossom bash, and your way in, right now, is to book, right now.

Photo Credit: Descanso Gardens]]>
<![CDATA[Video Captures Dramatic Central Park Ice Plunge]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 07:40:41 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/central+park+ice+rescue+watermark.jpg

Dramatic video captured by a woman and her daughter shows the moments before and after a group of seven young people plunged through the ice on a pond in Central Park Monday. 

Lourdes Cuevas and her daughter Maia Ramirez, tourists from Paraguay, were taking a selfie as the group of kids, ranging in age from about 10 into the teens, climbed onto the ice-covered water on an unseasonably warm February holiday. Their photo shows the kids huddled on the ice behind them. 

Suddenly, the group was in the water. Footage exclusively obtained by NBC 4 New York shows them floundering about, some struggling madly to grip the crumbling edges of ice, others screaming, as they tried desperately to escape. 

Cuevas said one of the kids completely disappeared under water. 

Two skateboarders who happened to be nearby raced to their rescue, and by the time firefighters arrived at the park by 59th Street and Central Park South, the kids had been pulled out of the water, witnesses and officials said. Some of the children and teens were recovering from hypothermia-related injuries at Bellevue and two other area hospitals on Tuesday morning, officials said. 

The good Samaritans, Bennett Jonas and Ethan Turmbull, told reporters they saw the kids dancing on top of the ice, then suddenly plunging into the water. 

"I look over, I saw six heads just trying to get to the shore," said Jonas. "The back one was probably a good 20 yards from dry land." 

Jonas dived in as Turmbull stood by to grab them. 

"The last two at the end, the kid at the end was unconscious," said Turmbull. "[Jonas] got him out, he was kind of out of breath, and [Jonas] threw him to me. I just kind of minded him until he came to." 

Jonas, of San Clemente, California, who now lives in midtown, and Turmbull, of Sydney, Australia, say they happened to be in the right place at the right time. 

"I was in the park for a reason tonight," he said. "I could have been anywhere right now, but I was 100 yards away, from kids who were drowning." 

Photo Credit: Lourdes Cuevas and Maia Ramirez]]>
<![CDATA[Homeland Security Outlines Crackdown on Illegal Immigration]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 08:22:21 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Department+of+Homeland+Security+Headquarters+GettyImages-95655181.jpg

The Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday outlined how it will implement President Donald Trump's planned crackdown on people coming into and living in the United States without documentation, NBC News reported.

Secretary John Kelly released a pair of memos that end to the policy of releasing people caught at the border pending deportation hearings, the hiring of thousands more federal agents, having more judges and officers deal with asylum claims and speeding up removal proceedings for a greater number of people.

The memos also recommend that authorities prosecute parents who pay smugglers to bring their children into the United States, though that decisions will ultimately be made by federal prosecutors.

Kelly's memos are nearly identical to executive orders signed by Trump last month as part of his campaign promise to take a harder line on illegal immigration. The memos add detail on how the new priorities will be carried out by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Sunrise Tour With NewsChopper4]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 08:06:30 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/02-21-2017-surnise-newschopper4-downtown-la.JPG

NewsChopper4 captured a sliver of sunlight streaming through the clouds Tuesday Feb. 21, 2017.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Music Therapist Comforts Hospice Patients with Song]]> Sun, 19 Feb 2017 23:46:54 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/217*120/170219-lc-photo.JPG

Music can lift spirits, see people through tough times and foster connections with strangers. Nestled in the hills above Brentwood, one music therapist is taking that connection to a whole new level — using song to help care for terminally ill patients.

"We're working to increase their socialization, reducing their isolation, helping them to process any emotions that come with facing the end," said Levi Josefsson.

The 26-year-old music therapist at VITAS healthcare plays in a rock band by night, but he spends his days singing sweet lullabies to 86-year-old nun Mary Ellen Kowalski, a hospice patient at the Sisters of St. Joseph retirement home.

Josefsson said he knows from personal experience the healing power of music.

"Music has saved my life through many bouts of depression and coping with life in general," he said.

But the friendship between a handsome young rock 'n' roll singer and a feisty, retired nun wasn't a sure thing.

"I could turn over and take a nap instead of having this strange kid singing me a lullaby," Kowalski said.

In time, he won her over with his gentle touch and his love of the oldies, bringing back sweet memories of her youth in San Francisco.

"It really refreshes me, and of course when he does the San Francisco song ... forget it, I'm gone," she said.

And what could be sweeter than facing the end with a friend and a song.

To learn more about the VITAS Healthcare hospice program, visit www.vitas.com

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV ]]>
<![CDATA[Downed Trees From Storm Leave 21 Displaced]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 18:45:00 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Downed_Trees_From_Storm_Leave_21_Displaced_1200x675_881286723536.jpg

A downed tree in Westwood left 21 UCLA students homeless. John Cádiz Klemack reports for the NBC4 News at 5 on Monday, Feb. 20, 2017.

<![CDATA[Fellow Bandmates Mourn Slain Whittier Police Officer]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 01:50:36 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/197*120/keith-boyer-dummer-022017.PNG

Music was an escape for a veteran police officer who was slain in the line of duty, his fellow bandmates recalled.

Keith Boyer not only served the community in 25 years at the Whittier Police Department, he also played drums in a classic rock tribute and cover band that often performed for charity.

His bandmates at Mrs. Jones' Revenge was among the hundreds who mourned the fallen officer on Monday.

"We're still in shock," said Ron Adams, who plays bass in the band.

"We're still struggling to compose ourself, beat back the anger. This didn't need to happen."

Boyer and another officer were shot by a man who allegedly stole a vehicle and struck two other cars at a stop light, police said. Boyer was pronounced dead at the hospital. The other officer, Patrick Hazel, was in stable condition. The gunman was wounded after the police officers shot at him.

"He was responding to a traffic stop thinking he was going to help somebody in need in a traffic accident, and he was ambushed," Adams said.

Boyer's bandmates were worried that his work would take him away too soon.

"He's approaching retirement," said Terry Brown, who plays the keyboard and guitar. "I really hope he stays safe. I hope nothing gets to him before the end of his career."

Mrs. Jones' Revenge is based in Temecula and describes itself as "over 50 classic rock tribute bands rolled into one," according to its Facebook page.

Boyer was "irreplaceable," but bandmates believe he would have wanted them to carry on.

"One of the toughest things to grapple with today is that one of the best among us was stolen from our lives by one of the worst among us," said Jeff McNeal, lead vocalist.

Photo Credit: Facebook / Mrs. Jones' Revenge
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<![CDATA[Body Found in Glorietta Bay in Coronado: PD]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 23:29:48 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/02-20-17+Glorietta+Bay+body+found.JPG

A body was discovered in Glorietta Bay in Coronado Monday evening, Harbor Police confirmed.

According to police, the body was badly decomposed when it was found on a sandbar surrounded by water. 

The San Diego Police helicopter made the discovery while flying over the bay. But it took a few hours before authorities could confirm that it was a body.

"They saw what they thought may have been a body," said Harbor Police Lt. James Jordan. "And we didn't know until hours later that it was a body."

Jordon told NBC 7, the water was too shallow for police boats to get close to the body so divers were called out. 

At this time, it's unknown if it is a man or a woman, Jordan added.

"It's a mystery at this point how this person wound up there," Lt. Jordan said. "But we're confident the coroner will be able to determine what happened to this person."

The Medical Examiner's Office is investigating the cause of death.

No other information was available.

<![CDATA['Best of the Best': Whittier Officer Killed in Line of Duty]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 03:52:10 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/slainwhittierofficer-boyer.jpg

A 25-year veteran Whittier police officer was killed, and another officer and a gunman were wounded, in a shootout Monday morning, officials said.

"Officers respond to a call, and it seems like a simple traffic accident, and the next thing they know they’re in a gunfight," said Lt. John Corina of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

The officer was identified as Keith Boyer, a 25-year veteran officer, Whittier Mayor Joe Vinatieri confirmed to NBC4.

His daughter-in-law described him on Facebook as a hero who just wanted to make the world a better, safer place.

"I didn't think I had any tears left," said Whitter Police Chief Jeff A. Piper as he broke down weeping for his personal friend, Boyer.

About 8 a.m., Boyer and another male officer, later identified as Patrick Hazel, responded to a crash in the area of Colima Road and Mar Vista in Whittier, Southern California, where allegedly a driver of a stolen car had struck two other cars at a stop light, Corina said. 

When the officers arrived, they were told by the victims that the driver who had struck them was around the corner.

The officers approached the suspected gunman's car completely unaware that it was stolen. 

"When they get him out of the car, they go to pat him down for weapons, they can see he’s got tattoos all over his face and all over his neck," Corina said at a news conference. 

In the midst of a pat down, Corina said the man pulled out a gun and started shooting. The officers returned fire and wounded him.

Both officers were wearing bullet-proof vests, Corina said. Aerial images showed the shattered driver side window of a Whittier police vehicle and a rifle on the trunk of another car.

All three were rushed to the hospital, where Boyer was pronounced dead. Officer Hazel was in stable condition.

The identity of the shooter had not been released, but deputies said he was a known gang member. He was described by Corina only as a 26-year-old man who had been paroled approximately 10 days before the shootout.

He was in the intensive care unit of the hospital, Corina said. 

"I'm not going to speak about the suspect because frankly, I don't think he's worth speaking about," Piper said.

The suspected shooter was accused in a murder in East Los Angeles the morning of the fatal gunfight, Lt. Corina said at a news conference. The suspected shooter was accused of the murder of a relative before stealing a vehicle and crashing in Whittier, where he was approached by the officers. 

A procession held for Boyer showed a line of officers saluting as his vehicle rolled by, with many wiping away tears and embracing each other. 

"The senseless, cold-blooded killing of a Whittier Police officer today is a sad reminder of the dangerous risks that the men and women of law enforcement take every day in their mission to serve and protect communities in Southern California and across America. My thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of the slain and injured officers. I called Mayor Vinatieri this morning to express my condolences to the City of Whittier family, and to offer any assistance that Los Angeles can provide at this moment of grief. My hope is that everyone affected by this tragedy will find strength and peace in the midst of unthinkable heartbreak," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in a statement.

At a vigil held for Boyer, hundreds gathered with lit candles for a prayer service. 

Mayor Vinatieri and Whittier Police Chief Piper spoke to the crowd outside the station just after dusk.

Piper shed tears, telling the community, "you don't know how hard this is."

Boyer played the drums for Mrs. Jones' Revenge, a classic rock tribute and cover band that often performs for charity.

"One of the toughest things to grapple with today is that one of the best among us was stolen from our lives by one of the worst among us," said Jeff McNeal, lead vocalist.

Irene Moore and Michelle Valles contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Whittier Police Department
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<![CDATA['It's Heartbreaking': Mission Valley's Hidden Homeless]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 06:29:07 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Mission-Valley-generic-walking-trail.jpg

There’s a nearly invisible village right in the middle of San Diego. While people are shopping at Fashion Valley Mall, hundreds are living in the brush just steps away.

The latest numbers show 246 people live along the San Diego River--a 41 percent increase from last year.

"It's heartbreaking every time I come out here," said Rob Hutsel, Founder of The San Diego River Park Foundation.

Since 2001, his team has removed more than two million pounds of trash from the river. In Mission Valley, about 96 percent of the trash they find along the San Diego River is related to homelessness.

Hutsel added, "We've rescued people. Unfortunately we've found dead bodies when we've been doing this sort of thing. It's tragic that there are people out here."

As the piles of trash continue to grow, the number of people setting up nearly invisible camps does as well.

Dozens of encampments are among the brush just steps away from the Home Depot off Fairmount Avenue.

And while you're parking your car at Fashion Valley, many are living where you would least expect it. Most are camouflaged from the outside world, like 64-year old Vietnam veteran, Rick Primmer.

Primmer told NBC 7, he chooses to live along the river because it's safe.

"Street people will steal constantly from each other. People in the woods are basically roamers. We just leave everybody alone, and leave our little camps alone," he said.

Organizers remain stumped on how to combat the problem, as they work with the San Diego Police Department in conducting sweeps before major cleanups.

"All we want to do is clean up the river and make it healthy," Hutsel said. "And create parks and trails. But it's more complicated than that."

It is illegal for people to live along the river because much of the land is owned by the City of San Diego. Property owners also sign a letter of authorization, allowing San Diego Police to be on their property and make arrests at any time.

In January, police made 45 felony and misdemeanor arrests.

But they told NBC 7, if there's no crime being committed, their main priority is to provide resources to help get these people off the streets.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Out-of-Service Commuter Trains Collide Outside Philadelphia]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 08:33:23 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/236*120/Upper+Darby+69th+Street+SEPTA+Crash+MFL+4.JPG

An out-of-service SEPTA Market Frankford Line subway train crashed into two other trains at the 69th Street Terminal just outside Philadelphia Tuesday morning, critically injuring a train operator, injuring three others and knocking seven cars off the track during the busy rush hour.

Upper Darby Police asked commuters in a tweet to avoid the busy terminal after the three-train wreck on looping turnaround tracks, where trains turn around at the end of the line, around 8:30 a.m.

The wreck left the operator of the No. 57 train critically injured, SEPTA said. Another operator and two passengers suffered less serious injuries.

Two suffered head injuries and two suffered leg injuries, police said.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority said the trains were out of service at the time of the crash. The No. 57 train slammed into the back of the No. 67 train on the same track and the wreck then sideswiped a No. 51 train moving in the other direction on the other track, SEPTA said.

SkyForce10 footage showed one car tipped over at a 45-degree angle -- its wheels dislodged from the body of the train -- and six other cars partially off the track as crews responded.

A man who lives near the scene told NBC10 Philadelphia's Pamela Osborne he heard a loud noise and came outside to see the wrecked trains.

"I heard a big bang... I knew something big happened but I didn't know what until I got here and saw this mess," William Stamm (no relation to the author) said.

The wreck left the 69th Street stop out of service and could impact the afternoon rush as state officials and NTSB investigators look into the wreck, SEPTA said.

SEPTA used shuttle buses to get passengers from 69th Street to 63rd Street. Passengers could be seen boarding the buses around 9 a.m. the agency said to expect delays of up to 10 minutes on the line that runs from Upper Darby to the Frankford section of Northeast Philadelphia.

The crash impacted West Chester Pike, Market Street and Victory Avenue for EMS personnel, police said.

Investigators could be seen going in and out of the cars midday Tuesday. SEPTA said seven total cars wound up derailed.

The Market-Frankford Line is equipped with advanced signaling technology called Automatic Train Control, or ATC, which should prevent two moving trains from the same section of tracks, former SEPTA spokesman, and current NBC10 employee, Manny Smith said. A SEPTA headquarters dispatcher would also be controlling the line and giving permission to engineers to move into and out of the loop.

The systems in place ensure optimal turnaround times at the terminal since trains at peak hours arrive at least every four minutes, Smith said.

The max speed on the curve is 10 mph, SEPTA said.

The MFL Line has been operating with a bare minimum of cars due to under-body crack concerns.

This crash comes nearly two years after a deadly Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia's Frankford neighborhood.

Photo Credit: SkyForce10
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<![CDATA[Bodies of 74 Migrants Wash Ashore in Libya]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 04:52:35 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/migrants-wash-ashore-libya.jpg

Dozens of migrants have died in the Mediterranean Sea, the latest victims of the perilous route, NBC News reported.

Seventy-four bodies washed ashore in Libya, seen in photographs posted to Twitter by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Tuesday.

Migrants generally attempt crossing from Libya to Italy in flimsy inflatable boats loaded with small amounts of fuel, intended to get within reach of European rescue vessels in international waters. Last year, a record 181,000 migrants made the crossing.

Libyan coast guard spokesman Ayoub Gassim said more than 500 migrants were rescued at sea on Friday and Saturday. He said smugglers are starting to use larger rubber boats to pack in more migrants.

"This is going to be even more disastrous to the migrants," Gassim added.

Photo Credit: IFRC MENA]]>
<![CDATA[Police Search for Shooter Who Fired at Riverside Officers]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 03:34:02 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/police+line+generic+with+sirens.jpg

Authorities continued to search for a gunman who fired at Riverside police officers Monday night.

The officers responded to a suspicious vehicle call at around 11 p.m. in the 4000 block of MacArthur Road, said Officer Ryan Railsback of the Riverside Police Department.

The man was standing outside of the vehicle that had occupants inside of it, Railsback said. When the officers approached the man, he ran away and police followed him to a small side street at MacArthur Road and Garfield Street.

The man produced a handgun and fired shots toward officers, Railsback said. The officers fired back, but the gunman took off on foot.

The officers were not injured, Railsback said. It is unknown if the suspect was struck.

The occupants inside the vehicle stayed at the scene and were detained and being questioned by authorities, Railsback said.

SWAT agents, K-9's and police helicopters set up a wide, tactical perimeter and scoured the scene for the gunman.

This incident comes on the heels of the fatal shooting of Keith Boyer, a veteran officer with the Whittier Police Department who was killed in the line of duty while responding to a traffic stop Monday morning.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Whittier Gunman May Have Killed Cousin Hours Before: LASD]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 03:12:32 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/224*120/east-la-homicide-022017.PNG

The gang member suspected in the murder of a 25-year veteran of the Whittier Police Department may be responsible in the murder of his own cousin that happened hours before the officer shootout, authorities said.

The first homicide occurred before 5:30 a.m. Monday in the 1400 block of Volney Drive in East Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Ray Torres, 47, was gunned down in front of his house by his distant cousin, who is the man accused of fatally shooting Whittier police officer Keith Boyer hours later at Colima Road and Mar Vista in Whittier, authorities said.

The suspect, who was not yet publicly named by authorities, was believed to have fled the shooting scene in East Los Angeles in Torres' car before he crashed it in Whittier and got into a shootout with the officers, said Capt. Steve Katz with the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department.

Authorities said the suspect was a known gang member with an extensive criminal record. He was released from prison in April 2016 and was released early from jail eight days ago due to one of several California initiatives aimed a reducing overcrowding, authorities said. 

A small memorial was set up outside the garage unit where Torres lived. Relatives were outraged that the suspect was free at all.

"He's an animal. He belongs locked up," said Francine Rivera, Torres' aunt. "He's hurt my nephew, us, my sister, he's hurt those other people, the officers."

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV
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<![CDATA[Watch NBC4 News]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 23:35:34 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Live-News-lagenerics.jpg

Follow along with our reporters and anchors during NBC4's on-air broadcasts by watching our live stream.

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As always, we want to hear from you. If you have a story idea or feedback, email us at tips@nbcla.com.

<![CDATA[4 Americans Killed as Plane Crashes Into Australian Mall]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 21:12:13 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_17052006872002.jpg

Four Americans were among five people killed when a light plane crashed into the roof of a shopping mall in Melbourne, Australia, the U.S. State Department has confirmed. 

NBC News reported that the twin-turboprop Beechcraft King Air plane suffered engine failure and crashed into the mall near the end of the runway at Essendon Airport around 5 p.m. ET Monday (9 a.m. Tuesday local time). 

The assistant police commissioner for Victoria state said there were no fatalities other than those five people on board the aircraft. NBC Dallas-Fort Worth reports that two of the victims were from Texas.

"We extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all those who died in today's tragic crash," a State Department official told NBC News. "The U.S. Embassy and Consulate in Melbourne are working closely with local authorities. We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance to the families of the victims," the official added, without identifying the victims.

Photo Credit: Joe Castro/AAP Image via AP]]>
<![CDATA[Demonstrators Gather for 'Not My Presidents Day' Rally]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 18:44:51 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/257*120/170220-not-my-presidents-day.JPG

Several hundred people gathered in front of Los Angeles City Hall to express their opposition to President Donald Trump and take part in a `"Not My Presidents Day" rally. Lolita Lopez reports for the NBC4 News at 5 on Monday, Feb. 20, 2017.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV ]]>
<![CDATA[Bob Hope Airport, Then and Now]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 18:34:01 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*145/download+%283%29.jpg The Bob Hope Airport in Burbank will be re-branded as Hollywood Burbank Airport this summer in an effort to make it more recognizable to the public.

Photo Credit: Oviatt Library, California State University, Northridge]]>
<![CDATA[Free Today: Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Death Valley...]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 08:59:23 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/dvsunset1GettyImages-450421924+%282%29.jpg

The presidential past is full of facts and legends, from the very first official speech given by Lincoln — some history buff out there surely knows how many words it contained — to how many doors the White House contains.

So here's another set of numbers, and while this set is California-specific, it does relate to Presidents Day in 2017, which is on Monday, Feb. 20.

Okay, trivia mavens, answer this riddler: How many national parks and sites found within the Golden State charge an entrance fee? 

We won't make you wait: It's nearly a dozen, 11 in all, from Yosemite National Park to San Francisco Maritime National Park to Whiskeytown National Recreation Area.

The trivia round isn't done, though. What happens at fee-charging national parks, traditionally, since Presidents Day has a lot of tradition woven through, on the third Monday in February?

Ding ding ding. That's right: These parks waive admission. Presidents Day, like Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and National Parks Week, is a fee-free day at all of the national monuments, parks, and recreation areas that typically charge an entrance fee at the gate.

There are well over 100 of those, but, out of a nationwide system of 400-plus, they are not the majority.

So, where will you have an adventure on Feb. 20? A snowshoe walk is on the Yosemite calendar, in addition to several other family-oriented outings, while the famous pupfish of Death Valley are starting to make their springtime showing.

If you can't get to your go-to nature wonderland on the 20th of February, take heart: A full four fee-free days are just ahead in April, though, note, they don't arrive in two sets of two days: April 15 and 16 and April 22 and 23.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[National Love Your Pet Day]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 15:38:41 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/222*120/AnimalLoveLead_slumberkitty.jpg

Photo Credit: Frankie Gee]]>
<![CDATA[In Living Color: Meet the Pink Lady of Hollywood]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 05:53:35 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/pinkladythumbnail.jpg Kitten Kay Sera, whose name is a tribute to Doris Day's song "Que Sera, Sera," has made a living off of her passion for pink.]]> <![CDATA[Protesters Denounce Trump in 'Not My President' Rally ]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 17:41:18 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/protest-1.jpg Hundreds of protesters in Los Angeles began Presidents Day on Monday by denouncing the current administration of President Donald Trump in a series of "Not My President" rallies.

Photo Credit: Christine Schmidt]]>
<![CDATA[WB Tour: We Love Our Locals Deal]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 17:24:24 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/1WBTourHollywood_MidWest+Backlot+%281%29.jpg

If you regularly host out-of-towners, chances are as good as the Hollywood Sign is tall that they're checking out some of the area sites and attractions while you A) go to work and/or B) run errands and/or C) do the sorts of things you do every day, because you're not on vacation and have a long list of to-dos.

But, on occasion, a Southern Californian can get a mite jealous, and curious, when their guest returns from a day of sightseeing, full of trivia and tidbits to relay. Never fear, however, Hollywood mavens: There's often a Southern California resident ticket for that particular form of FOMO.

There shall be no fear of missing out, though, on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour. For over the next few months, the We Love Our Locals ticket deal will give cinema-loving, TV-watching SoCalers the chance to hop on the long-running tour at a discount.

A 20% discount, making a resident ticket $49.

As with so many resident deals at various destinations, the We Love Our Locals comes down to zip codes. If you write 90000 to 93599 as your return address on envelopes, you can nab that discount ticket. Just be sure to show identification, with your location, at will-call.

What's the tour cover? The backlot, yep. Costumes aplenty, like from the recent "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them." And stories of studio lore, movie stars, and how Warner Bros. has been a major silver-screen player for the better part of a century.

The end date of all of this local-focused lookie-loo-ing? The discount wraps the day before Memorial Day Weekend, so get to the sizable Burbank lot by Friday, May 26. Hold up, though: There are a number of block out dates, and the whole of April is included in that, and the latter part of March, so plan your visit accordingly.

Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Studio Tour]]>
<![CDATA[Why All the Heavy Rain This Winter?]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 16:39:39 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-642440320.jpg

If you’re wondering why we’re getting so much heavy rain in Southern California -- and the state for that matter -- it has everything to do with what’s called an Atmospheric River.

An atmospheric river is a long, narrow band of water vapor in the sky, usually 250-350 miles wide. On their own, they bring beneficial rain and increase the California snowpack. The rain forms because as the "river" makes land, the glide from sea level to the mountains lifts the moisture, condenses it and turns it into rain or snow. In a typical year these rivers account for 30-50 percent of the West Coast’s annual rainfall.

But this season has been anything but typical.

On Jan. 22, 2017, 2.67 inches of rain fell on downtown Los Angeles — that’s the most rain in one day since December 2010. And an all-time one day record rain of 3.97 inches fell on Long Beach, causing portions of 710 Freeway to be flooded with water. And, of course, we’ve seen what has been going on at the Oroville Dam.

We’ve seen historic flooding in the state because of a few unique factors. First, the amount of moisture in this winter’s atmospheric river has been equivalent to the average flow of water at the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Last week, a satellite image showed the entire atmospheric river from Japan to Northern California. If the water vapor has its origin near the Hawaiian Islands, it’s called a Pineapple Express. Second, since January the atmospheric river has stalled and focused mainly on the state of California. Last, the intensity of our storms has been enhanced by deep areas of low pressure and cold fronts moving though at the same time. It all makes for record-setting rain. But we have seen these patterns in the past.

The Great Flood of 1862 devastated Sacramento and Southern California. This atmospheric river stalled for 30 days and brought wave after wave of heavy rain.

And the devastating flood of 1938 killed dozens of people in Southern California and destroyed more than 7,000 homes. This event prompted the transformation of the LA River into a series of channels.

What makes atmospheric rivers hard to forecast from a seasonal perspective is they can arrive in El Niño, La Niña or neutral patterns. They are most common in significantly strong El Niño patterns. In 2016, atmospheric rivers brought record-setting rain to the Pacific Northwest and started the work getting Northern California out of a five-year drought.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Video Shows Man Strike Child With Belt 62 Times]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 07:19:03 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Childs_Brutal_Beating_Caught_on_Camera_1200x675_881229891597.jpg

A Texas man has been charged with child abuse after investigators said he hit a 7-year-old boy 62 times within five minutes.

The incident was witnessed by a bystander who called police, and was captured by a surveillance camera near the man's Houston apartment.

The incident was witnessed by a bystander who called police, and was captured by a surveillance camera near the man's Houston apartment, NBC affiliate KPRC reported

"He saw a vehicle pull up at one of our illegal dumping sites and saw a man get out of a car and take a young child out of the car and proceed to just beat him senselessly," said Harris County Constable Alan Rosen.

Investigators said Kordarell Williams, 27, used his hands and a belt to hit his girlfriend's 7-year-old son all over his body.

"He struck this child 62 times, put him in a headlock and knocked him over on numerous occasions with the blows," said Rosen.

Read more from KPRC

<![CDATA[75-Year-Old Woman Found 'Molded' to Chair in Living Room ]]> Tue, 21 Feb 2017 05:30:20 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NC_chairwoman0220_1920x1080.jpg

An Ohio woman is recovering after she was found "molded into" a chair she hadn't left for months.

Barbara Foster's left leg was amputated after she was removed from her Springfield Township home and taken to a nearby hospital, NBC affiliate WNWO reported

"It looked like a scene out of 'E.T.' to be honest with you, with so many hazmat suits that the fireman were working," said neighbor Robert Zolziak Jr.

Foster, 75, was found molded to a chair in her front living room, surrounded by fecal matter and urine. Police records indicate, a volunteer with Our Lady of Lourdes, who delivers food on a regular basis called 911 because Foster was not acting like herself. The volunteer also told police that foster has not moved from her living room chair since July of last year - he said he had gotten used to the home's foul odor.

Read more from WNWO

Photo Credit: WNWO]]>
<![CDATA[Free Monday: Los Angeles County Museum of Art]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 09:53:06 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lacmabrogan1322312.jpg

Stroll through most any gallery inside most any well-known museum and it won't be long before you spy a particular theme: weather.

Whether or not it is an Impressionist painting of a boat in a squall, or a proper portrait of a lady holding an umbrella against a light rain shower, weather, especially the inclement sort, seems to be a staple of the art scene.

And, of course, of the outside-the-museum scene, too. So while it may be notably damp, and even a little chill, on Monday, Feb. 20, you can still steal away inside a major museum, out of the raindrops, and enjoy a host of paintings, sculptures, and installations, all for free.

For Feb. 20 is Presidents Day, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art will enjoy a Target Free Holiday Monday, all day long, beginning at 11 in the morning.

What's that mean? It means this: Courtesy of Target, admission is waived on the holiday, for everyone. Do note that if there's a special exhibition, which requires a separate ticket, that is not included in the free admission. But all of the permanent exhibitions and galleries are open for your pay-nothing, oh-so-gratis enjoyment.

Also: Make some time to listen to "free Bavarian music by Hammerstein Musik Bavaria." The shows are at 12:30 and again at 2:45.

There's always a fun family vibe to the Target Free Holiday Monday, and Feb. 20 will continue that tradition with some kid-ready sketching.

And will you and the tots seek out some stormy, downpour-depicting paintings while strolling through the LACMA? Well, "Rain Room," the popular walk-through installation by Random International, is currently closed, though it is now part of the LACMA collection forever. 

So your best bet, to connect with the cooler weather, is to find some rainy scenes inside the galleries. No galoshes required.

Photo Credit: Brant Brogan]]>
<![CDATA[Grandmother Questions Spectrum Bill After TWC Takeover]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 17:52:11 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/rsz_cable_tv.jpg

Doesn't it make you mad when you can't make sense of your bill? You'll remember all the confusion when Frontier took over Verizon accounts in April.

One grandmother says her bill went up for the same services after Spectrum took over Time Warner. How can that be?

"It was very confusing," said 76-year-old Hannah Kuhn of Simi Valley.

When Spectrum took over Time Warner Cable last fall she spotted a price jump of $46.

"That's a big amount of money for people," she said.

She had a few questions for Spectrum customer service. When it didn't get solved, she called the NBC4 I-Team, like a lot of consumers noticing changes on their new Spectrum bills. Then Kuhn got a surprise: she says Spectrum shut her cable off.

"They gave me no explanation," she said.

Several calls later her service is back. But what's going on with those bills?

When you see a great deal for cable and Internet, that's a promotional price to reel in new customers. After 12 months, they have the right to jack up the cost to what they call regular price.

"In most cases the price won't change until the contract expires," said Steve McFarland of the Better Business Bureau.

McFarland says bills can be confusing, especially when you sign up for service over the phone. The BBB recommends you ask to record phone calls with your cable providers — but please note this is illegal to do unless you first get the customer service agent's permission.

"If you record your conversation and of course with their permission, in California you would need it, you can go back and stipulate those terms back to them," McFarland said.

After the I-Team got involved, Spectrum gave Kuhn one of its promotional rates, saying "the customers who contacted you had one-year promotions that expired."

Satisfied for now, Kuhn says she'll re-evaluate her cable service next year.

"It was a very strange experience, i don't hope to repeat it," she said.

<![CDATA[14-Year-Old Missing From San Fernando]]> Mon, 20 Feb 2017 13:26:51 -0800 //media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/missing-eliasrodriguez.jpg

The family of a 14-year-old boy was pleading for the public's help Monday after the teen went missing while leaving school Friday in San Fernando.

Elias Rodriguez was last seen leaving his school about 1 p.m. in the 1000 block of Arroyo Street, the Los Angeles Police Department said.

Rodriguez's family said he has not run away before, and it is not in his character to take off. 

His aunt said said he is a quiet boy who goes home to play his X-Box. 

Rodriguez was described as a 5-feet 4-inches tall, with brown hair and brown eyes, weighing approximately 100 pounds.

Detectives from the LAPD's Mission Station asked anyone with information regarding the boy's whereabouts to call them at 818-838-9800.

Photo Credit: Family of Elias Rodriguez]]>