<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Sat, 31 Jan 2015 05:14:15 -0800 Sat, 31 Jan 2015 05:14:15 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Dog Rescued From Rain-Swollen LA River]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 00:44:50 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/200*120/1-30-15-lucky+the+dog+la+river+rescue+ground.JPG

The dog that was plucked out of the roiling Los Angeles River in a heroic afternoon aerial rescue put on a quite a show as it made its brief cameo for the waiting cameras Friday night.

The cute yellow dog nicknamed Lucky made a big splash Friday, discovered by someone at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank who called in about a dog paddling down the rain-swollen River.

The pup was swept at least three miles downriver and saved in Glendale, near the Golden State (5) Freeway overpass.

Los Angeles firefighters went to work in the air and NBC4 caught it all as firefighter John Terrusa was lowered into the river to pick up the soggy pooch.

"It was quite a team effort, quite a concert," Terrusa said.

As Terrusa and canine spun their way to safety dangling from a line on a chopper, several people gathered with firefighters along the river's banks to warm up the chilly doggy.

Lucky, a 7-year-old Shiba Inu who was not microchipped, is spending the night under doctor's care at a shelter in Eagle Rock. He will stay at a shelter for seven days, allowing enough time for his owner to come forward.

If no one comes forward, then the dog goes up for adoption and there's already one offer.

Terrusa is hoping this story has a happy ending.

"It is definitely a loved animal," Terrusa said. "It's just one of those things where I'm sure the dog just got out of somebody's yard and got in the wrong place, at the wrong time."

Asher Klein contributed to this story.

Photo Credit: Mark James]]>
<![CDATA[Teachers Fired Over Black History?]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 04:18:15 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000009322877_1200x675_391671875779.jpg

Three social studies teachers at a D.C. public charter school were fired for teaching black history lessons beyond what’s in the curriculum, students’ parents told News4.

"It's about the history of who we are and where we came from,” said Michelle Payne, whose son is in the eighth grade at Howard University Middle School of Math and Science.

Parents say it is unacceptable for a school located on the campus of a historically black university to stifle African-American history lessons.

"If you know your culture, if you know from whence you came, it tends to build your self-esteem," said Lateefah Bilal, a grandmother who heads Parents in Action, Howard Middle’s parent group.

D.C. Council Education Committee member Anita Bonds and Council member Brianne Nadeau are looking into the claims that the three teachers were fired for teaching too much black history.

Bonds' spokesman said the charter school board chairman declined to answer her questions Friday.

News4 reached out to school administrators and the D.C. Public Charter School Board several times this week. They promised to release a statement.

Parents said they are also upset because the teachers were fired and escorted out of the building in front of the kids.

<![CDATA[Thunderstorms Dump Heavy Rain on SoCal]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 17:11:37 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/209*120/1-30-15-thunderstorm+san+fernando+valley.JPG

Lightning, thunder and pounding rain were moving across parts of Southern California Friday afternoon.

The San Fernando Valley saw heavy rain and thunderstorms around 3 p.m., with some describing "buckets of rain" in North Hollywood.

Commuters in Santa Monica saw rain-slicked roads, and downtown LA saw "pouring rain."

In Toluca Lake, a dog was lost in the Los Angeles River and struggled to keep its head above water as it moved with the rushing rainwater toward Burbank. A firefighter swooped in from above and pulled it to safety.

Storms are expected to move south to the Basin and through the South Bay with isolated showers and heavy rain in some areas.

Photo Credit: Crystal Egger]]>
<![CDATA[Carjacking Pursuit Ends in Stun-Gun Arrest: Police]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 20:16:41 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/carjacking+stungun+arrest+pomona+la+verne.JPG

A driver being pursued by police crashed a stolen car into other vehicles, then was shot with a stun gun after carjacking a woman in Pomona Friday, police said.

The incident began at 1:45 p.m. in downtown Pomona, when a carjacker pulled a 55-year-old woman out of her Honda.

The man initially pulled over when Pomona police spotted the Honda, but then sped away, prompting the chase, police said.

Officers were joined by an Ontario police helicopter as the chase made its way into La Verne.

"The pursuit traveled through the residential area of La Verne, then south the area of B Street and Bonita Avenue in La Verne, where the suspect crashed into other vehicles," police said.

The suspect allegedly resisted officers attempts to take him into custody and was zapped with a Taser before he was arrested and taken to a hospital for examination before booking, police said.

Firefighters treated three people at the scene. One of them suffered chest trauma and was airlifted to hospital, according to Pomona police.

City News Service contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Looking for Bargains? Beware of Online Counterfeits ]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 20:27:25 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/207*120/1-30-15-counterfeit+goods.JPG

Looking for a bargain online? Beware: many products that appear to be authentic may be counterfeit.

Watch Randy Mac's full report on the NBC4 News at 5 and 6 p.m.

Upland resident Lori Noyes recently found out the hard way when she got an email promising deals on handbags. The email appeared to have been generated by popular designer Michael Kors.

“It said it was a special invitation, only a few hours, so I clicked on it, took a look around, it looked like his site," Noyes told NBC4's I-Team.

Seeing prices listed for less than half what she'd normally pay for a bag, she quickly typed in her credit card, and dropped $200.

“I knew something wasn’t quite right when I didn’t get an instant confirmation email,” Noyes said.

Turns out the email had linked Noyes to a site that wasn't what it seemed.

“I went into the account, saw that they were processing a payment to somebody in China," she said. "I thought wow, Lori, you’re an educated person, you should have known better!"

A few weeks later, she received three cheap-looking fakes.

"The weight of the chain is a dead giveaway," she complained, rattling the hollow-sounding chain. Another sign she'd gotten phony bags: three identical serial number tags were attached to three different models.

But it's not just about designer bags: the number of counterfeit products sold online is skyrocketing.

"Counterfeit razor blades, counterfeit converse tennis shoes, the levis in front of you are fake," said retired police officer Craig Crosby, as he pointed to a table filled with counterfeit products.

Crosby publishes "The Counterfeit Report," a website dedicated to educating consumers about the issue. He told NBC4 that counterfeit sales will reach $1.7 trillion in 2015, and that this criminal enterprise accounts for 10 percent of all goods worldwide.

But the impact can be more than financial -- using a fake product could harm your health.

"Let’s talk about fragrance," Crosby said. "Everyone will recognize the green Polo box. Lab tests done by the FBI (have) come back and found that there are antifreeze, urine, bacteria, cadmium, berilium and arsenic in the counterfeit products."

What makes it even more disturbing: the products Crosby showed the I-Team weren't sold through rogue cyber retailers, like Lori's fake purses.

"We purchase from Amazon, we purchase from eBay," said Crosby. "These are the websites we should have confidence in."

While Amazon and eBay warn their customers about the risk of counterfeit products — and insist they are on the lookout for fake products — according to Crosby, there's only one way to be sure what you're buying online is the real thing.

"You have to go to a manufacturer or go to an authorized retailer in order to get an authentic product," he said.

Lori Noyes says that's her plan, even if it means paying more for a purse next time around.

"If I lost $200, but taught someone else a lesson, I’m happy," Noyes said. "I’m thinking that I’ll be a lot more careful from now on."

Tips on spotting a counterfeit:

  • Poor stitching, crooked labels, more misspelled brand names
  • Overuse of certain words in online description, including "genuine," "real," or "authentic."
  • Flimsy packaging
  • An incredibly low price: as the old saying goes, "if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!"

For more information on how to spot counterfeit goods including office products, sports equipment, pet food, alcohol, tobacco, electronics and more, visit The Counterfeit Report.

Photo Credit: James Wulff]]>
<![CDATA[The 14 Most Heartbreaking Super Bowl Moments]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 12:11:53 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/edt-upsets.jpg The 49-year history of the Super Bowl has seen its fair share of shocking upsets, horrendous blunders and lopsided routs.

Photo Credit: NFL]]>
<![CDATA[Classmates Mourn Siblings Killed in Crash]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 00:17:28 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/1-30-15_Wilmington_Crash_Victims.JPG

Grief stricken classmates of siblings killed in a high-speed crash blocks away from school returned to classes on Friday, stunned and saddened by the tragedy.

Friends of 18-year-old Lexi Garcia and her 16-year-brother Eli, both students at Banning High School in Wilmington, hugged and consoled each other as they tried to come to grips with the tragedy.

"To know that just two people like randomly you see every day at school, just one day die in a car accident, is just too much to take in," said Henry Chavez, a student.

Inside the school, students scrawled personal messages and said goodbye to the victims on a message board. Others grieved at a makeshift memorial at the spot on Pacific Coast Highway where the Garcias where killed.

Alicia Escobedo, a friend, was too overcome with grief to talk. She said she was overwhelmed after she heard the news and called her mother to have her pick her up from school and take her home.

The siblings were in a red Honda on Thursday when it crashed. Surveillance video showed their car speeding next to a pickup truck shortly before the crash.

The Honda somehow wound up on the wrong side of the road and crashed into a van, police said.

Two passengers in the car were injured, including the sister of Monique Mares, who says her sister will be OK, but can't believe two of her friends are gone.

"I thank God that nothing really bad happened to her but my other two..." she said trailing off.

Police questioned one of the survivors of the crash at a hospital to try to determine if racing was a factor.

Friday night was supposed to be a special night for the siblings. The school was having its Winter Formal.

"We wanted to come here just to pay our respects before going to the party," said Paola Duarte, a friend.

The brother and sister were inseparable, friends said.

"They were good people," said Anthony Marin. "They shouldn't have been taken that early. They were two of the most outgoing students at Banning High School and they're going to be remembered for a while."

Family has set up a memorial fund for the Garcias here.

Hetty Chang contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Whittier Officer Hit by Car While Investigating Fatal Crash]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 18:25:46 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lagenerics-1-a-breaking-news-la-generic-graphic-april2014.gif

A Whittier police officer suffered minor injuries when he was hit by a car while he was investigating a fatal crash, officials said.

The officer suffered minor injuries. Details were developing.

<![CDATA[Man Killed Allegedly by Suge Knight Called "Great, Caring"]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 00:50:52 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/1-30-15-Terry_Carter.JPG

The businessman who was struck and killed allegedly by a rap mogul's vehicle is remembered as a successful entrepreneur and family man, who gave back to his community as a mentor and a foster parent.

Throughout the day Friday, a stream of extended family members and friends of Terry Carter,  many with tears, came to the his home in the Park Ladera neighborhood north of Inglewood.

"He was a great, caring, loyal, loving man," said daughter Crystal Carter, 28.

Added Avis Ridley-Thomas, a cousin and the wife of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas: "I can't even count the number of  people — of the number of children — he fostered and helped go to college."

At one point in the afternoon, a dozen came outside to speak of their loss.

Terry Carter was described as a "serial entrepreneur" whose business interests ranged from real estate to automobiles to music, including Heavyweight Records for which he partnered with rapper and businessman Ice Cube.

The alleged driver of the pickup that struck Carter is someone he knew: Death Row Records founder Marion "Suge" Knight, who left the scene, but later surrendered to authorities.

Knight was booked into jail on suspicion of murder.

Skipp Townsend, an activist, was in disbelief.

"They were close friends," he said. "I don't believe in my heart that Suge Knight would have ever wanted to hurt Terry Carter. I can't say that it's not true, but I say in my heart that I believe they were good friends."

Carter was in Compton Thursday in connection with filming for "Straight Outta Compton," a biopic based on the rap crew NWA that went shock waves when it burst onto the scene in the late 1980s.

According to family, Carter had been instrumental in arranging for production in Compton, where he grew up.

Knight was also in Compton.

He left the location of the film shoot after an altercation, according to Los Angeles Sheriff's Homicide Lt. John Corina.

Later, after filming wrapped, Knight drove into the parking lot of a nearby hamburger restaurant, where a second altercation occurred, with punches being thrown through the open driver's side window of Knight's pickup truck as he remained behind the wheel, Corina said.

It was an "attack" on Knight, said his attorney James Blatt.

As Knight backed up his truck, it struck and injured actor Cle Shaheed Sloan, 51, authorities said.

When Knight the drove forward, the truck struck and killed Carter, deputies said.

Blatt said these were accidents as Knight tried to escape.

Corina said there is evidence Knight deliberately ran into the individuals.

With investigation still underway, sheriff's officials have not yet gone to the Los Angeles District Attorney to seek the filing of any charges.

Members of Carter's family were reluctant to discuss Knight, 49, his previous dealings with Terry Carter, or what may have led to the encounter.  They pointedly did not refer to him as a friend.

"We don't have any comments about Suge Knight," said one woman who was identified simply as among those Carter and wife Lillian had raised in their home. "It's  about our family and what we're going through at this time."

Sloan's injuries were not life-threatening, and he was released from the hospital on Friday, according to his representative Jermaine Shelton.

Sloan is not yet prepared to comment publicly on what happened, Shelton said.

His film credits include 2001's "Training Day" with Denzel Washington, and the 2008 film, "Street Kings."

Sloan founded a nonprofit organization, Aktive, to work to reduce gang violence.

Carter was also lauded for his work in gang intervention. Avis Ridley Thomas said they had worked together.

She rejected any suggestion of Carter being involved in an attack on Knight.

"There's no reason to believe Terry would be involved in any violence at all," Ridley-Thomas said.

"I just want justice for my dad," said Crystal Carter.

Beverly White contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Community Rallies to Help Homeless Man Set on Fire]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 21:58:41 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/191*120/1-30-15-homeless+man+set+on+fire+ventura+beach.JPG

After two weeks with no arrests, the Ventura community is rallying for a homeless man who was doused in lighter fluid and set on fire on the beach of a quiet seaside town.

John Frazier has been recovering from his burn injuries after what some described as an unthinkable nightmare. Residents are still reeling from the news of that he was attacked while sleeping near the San Buenaventura State Beach just before 11 p.m. on Jan. 17.

"I can't imagine a human being setting another human being on fire, at all," Ventura resident Jim Shook said. "It's just incomprehensible."

A passerby and rescuer described flames as high as 5 to 6 feet to police, and helped put out the fire by throwing sand on him before calling 911, Ventura Police Department Sgt. Kenny Welch said last week.

Two weeks after the attack, those responsible are still at large. But a group of good Samaritans have come together to help the homeless man at a time when he needs it most.

"I cannot imagine, after everything he's been through, to go back to the streets," said Dawn Alexander, who started an online fundraiser for Frazier.

Although now living in Michigan, Alexander is a Ventura native who, once she heard about Frazier's ordeal, decided to do something and help the ailing man.

"It's not fair, he didn't deserve that, no one deserves that," Alexander said. "Even though I'm in Michigan, if something is laying on your heart to do something, you should go for it, it doesn't matter where you're at."

So far, the online fundraiser she created has received over $3,700 dollars in donations.

The goal is to provide Frazier with a safe environment once he's out of the hospital where he can continue to heal his wounds, not only physically, but also emotionally and spiritually.

"It really hurts my heart," resident Harriet Shook said. "It's a horrible, heinous crime and it deeply saddens me."

Ventura police are looking at forensic evidence in the case, while still searching for the three people seen in these surveillance photos who they say may have information that can help authorities.

"We're asking for those people in those photographs, or anyone else that may have seen anything in the area at the time to please contact us," Ventura Police Cmdr. Tom Higgins said.


"You would think that somebody would have come forward and that somebody would have seen it, especially in two weeks," Shook said.

Anyone who wishes to donate can visit the YouCaring fundraiser page.

Photo Credit: Scott Spiro]]>
<![CDATA[Father Abducts 3-Month-Old Girl]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 23:07:27 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/1-30-15-Abduct.JPG

Deputies sought the public's help on Friday to find a 28-year-old man who kidnapped his 3-month-old daughter.

The incident was reported before noon in the 800 block of East Palmdale Boulevard.

The suspect, Ellsworth Jerome Young, punched his girlfriend, causing a black eye, authorities said.

She ran into a check-cashing business to escape, leaving her 3-month-old in the car.

The suspect drove away with the child.

The victim claims the suspect has a black semi-auto pistol, and repeatedly forced her to commit sex acts as recently as Thursday.

Suspect fled north and was last reported in Bakersfield just before 6 p.m.

The vehicle is described as a blue 2004 Honda Element with a broken driver's side taillight and damage to the driver's door.

The vehicle has a Washington state license plate of AFD 9769.

<![CDATA[NBC4 Celebrates Black History Month ]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 20:54:36 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/1-30-15-Black+History+Month.JPG

NBC4 Southern California celebrates Black History Month throughout February with on-air programming, community events and philanthropic contributions throughout the Southland.

Beverly White, NBC4 reporter for more than 25 years, was selected by the City of Pasadena and the Jackie Robinson Community Center to serve as the 2015 Black History Month Parade Grand Marshal on February 21. She will also be honored at the city’s Black History Month dinner in advance of the parade and festival.

Be sure to tune in to NBC4 on Sunday, February 15 at 4:30pm for “Black History Month: Life Connected Special” featuring stories about African Americans living in Southern California.  Also look for a series of public service announcements airing all month celebrating Black History Month with NBC4 anchors and reporters.

The station is proud of its longstanding commitment to charities all year long, including causes that enrich the lives of African American families, seniors and veterans. Nonprofit organizations NBC4 supports include Brotherhood Crusade, Forgiving for Living, SRO Housing, Taste of Soul, United Negro College Fund, Young Visionaries Youth Leadership, and others.

Check the NBC4 Community Photo Gallery frequently for photos of the many places and events we support, including the station’s recent participation in the MLK Kingdom Day Parade.

Stay connected with us by tuning in to NBC4, at NBCLA.com or through the NBCLA mobile app for all breaking news and information.

<![CDATA[Police: "Fans Don't Let Fans Drive Drunk"]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 21:07:02 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/1-30-15-Super-Bowl-DUI.JPG

Dave George is promising free nonalcoholic drinks to designated drivers at his Breakaway Sports Lounge in Santa Ana on Super Bowl Sunday.

From the moment the coin is tossed until the clock runs out, you can have your choice of anything to drink at this bar — Coke, Sprite, Pepsi, ice tea.

George's bar is so sincere, its bartenders are giving away drinks for free.

"New Year's Eve everyone is celebrating, " he said. "Super Bowl, there's a winner and loser. You never know what you'll get. It's an open bag."

The bar is taking a sober approach to an event traditionally celebrated with friends and, in many cases, alcohol.

Every year, police try to stem the tide of DUIs by blitzing streets with extra patrols.

In Orange County this year, police are also sending a message — "Fans don't let fans drive drunk. Designate a driver on Super Bowl Sunday."

There is also a statewide push to ensure designated drivers are treated as VIPs. An app created by the California Office of Traffic Safety shows where all the freebies are located.

Kathryn Hamel, a Fullerton Police Department spokeswoman, said that at least 30 percent of collisions in the city are caused by impairment.

So Fullerton police will be out in force, working a saturation patrol downtown on Sunday.

Nationwide, officials say one person dies in a drunken driving crash every 52 minutes. More than half occur on weekends.

Some restaurants plan to ignore the Seahawks and Patriots.

But the game will be on at The Patio, where proprietors are prepping for a busy afternoon.

"We anticipate we'll be busier," said bartender Genevieve Sandoval. "Just pray for the best."

Police said the ultimate gridiron match up brings a different atmosphere to bars.

Isaac Arreola, of Anaheim, agrees.

"People get all riled up for this sport," he said. "It's something that really intensifies the situation."

Added Romeo Singh, of Orange: "When you get around friends, I feel like people drink, but I don't really approve of drinking and driving. I think that's bad."

Police in Huntington Beach issued their warning with a video. It shows an alleged drunken driver cruising the entire length of the pier this week.

He was arrested after he made a U-turn and headed back toward Pacific Coast Highway.

Huntington Beach police say the outcome of the game could play into bar fights so they'll be on patrol in cars and horseback downtown.

<![CDATA[Man Detained in Case of Body-Parts-Filled Suitcase]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 23:34:06 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/0130-2015-SFPD-suspect.jpg

San Francisco police have detained a person of interest in the case of a suitcase stuffed with body parts found in a downtown street earlier this week.

Officers on Friday night detained the man at the Sala Burton Manor apartment building, located at 430 Turk Street. Police confirm the man is the person of interest they have been looking for.

The man had a towel over his head when he was taken out of the apartment building and placed into a police car.

Police said at 7:26 p.m. they received a tip from an anonymous caller reporting the person of interest in a photo SFPD released Friday was staying at the apartment building.

Officers quickly responded to the area and detained the man and another person from the apartment, and took them to the Hall of Justice for questioning. Officials did not say why police detained the other person, who was later released.

The suitcase was found on 11th Street near Market, just one block from Twitter's headquarters, on Wednesday afternoon. Police then made another gruesome discovery shortly after when they uncovered more body parts within a three-block radius.

The San Francisco Chief Medical Examiner's office confirmed Friday the human body parts found in the suitcase in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood are those of an unidentified light-skinned male.

SFPD described the man in the surveillance picture as a man in his 50s to early 60s, 5'7" to 5'8", wearing a pinstripe baseball hat, blue and orange jacket and light blue jeans. Police say he might be a transient.

The surveillance photos don't show the suitcase. SFPD spokesperson Off. Albie Esparza said police will not be releasing pictures of the suitcase, but did not offer an explanation why.

"If anyone has any knowledge of who this person is, we ask him to contact police," Esparza said. "We are trying to determine what happened and was this body dumped. Did it happen nearby? Did it happen in San Francisco?"

SFPD spent Friday combing the neighborhood for more surveillance video and other evidence, Esparza said. "We want to make sure we thoroughly scour the area to make sure there's no other parts we may have missed," he said.

The Medical Examiner's office said that the California Department of Justice Bureau of Forensic Services DNA Laboratory will be assessing in the identification process of the body parts.

The case is currently under investigation with the cause and manner of death pending.

Photo Credit: Bryan Carmody
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Adults Can Relive Childhood at New Pasadena Arcade]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 18:56:45 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/1-30-15-Pasadena+Neon+Arcade.JPG

Adults will become children again Friday night at the opening of Pasadena's Neon Retro Arcade.

Visitors will take a "journey to the 80s and 90s," while playing over 40 classic arcade games and pinball machines, according to the Neon Retro Arcade website.

"Playing (arcade games) by yourself is one thing, but having, playing in a social environment like this is totally a different experience," said Mark Guenther, owner of the arcade in Old Town Pasadena.

The couple-owned business, which grew from a collection of old arcade games and arcade-themed parties, will charge a $10 dollar fee per hour that will allow visitors to play unlimited games.

Mia Mazadiego, Guenther's wife, said people wanted to experience the feeling they had when they were younger and growing up with the games.

"I think there's a lot of great memories of the past, it's really nice to relive them," Mazadiego said.

It's also nice for the parents and grandparents to take their children and grandchildren to show them how it was "back in the day," she said.

The arcade will be open during the week from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m., and from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Photo Credit: Rene Luna]]>
<![CDATA[Southern CA High School Band in Super Bowl Ad]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 20:28:33 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/209*120/1-30-15-Arcadia+Marching+Band+Super+Bowl.JPG

A Super Bowl commercial airing on Sunday will feature some familiar faces for Arcadia High School students.

The school's marching band was selected to appear in a commercial for the NFL after a search for marching bands was conducted by NFL producers, said Ryan Foran, the public information officer at Arcadia Unified School District. During the school shoot, the approximately 300 band students wore their uniforms and displayed signs.

"That was pretty cool," Foran said.

Chris Zaki, a snare drummer for the band, said the producers wanted him, "to scream and move your head and just play. Play loud."

The shoot about two weeks ago at the high school also included some of the band members' parents. Details regarding the ad were not available.

An estimated 186 millions viewers will see the ad during the game.

"They take instruction well. They work really hard and they're good kids," said Kevin Sherrill, co-director of the marching band.

It's not the first time the band has been in the Super Bowl spotlight. In 1967, the marching band performed at half time in the first Super Bowl in Los Angeles, Foran said.

The band also appeared at the 2005 inauguration event for President George W. Bush. Members have marched in several Rose Parades and performed at college bowl games.

Photo Credit: Dennis Lahti]]>
<![CDATA[Why the Patriots — or the Seahawks — Will Win]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 21:42:00 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/byllnbradee.jpg

Both the Seahawks and Patriots have won Super Bowls before. So who will win Super Bowl XLIX Sunday in Glendale, Arizona? A case can be made for both:

Why the Patriots could win

It’s a dynasty. New England has won three Super Bowls in the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era, which qualifies for as much of a dynasty as the NFL has right now. The coach and QB have come up big when it counts before, so they’ll find a way to win a fourth.

The “evil genius” factor. Belichick may not be well-liked these days (or maybe ever), but he’s found a way to reach five of these championship games and win three. The personnel has turned over and the staff has changed, but Belichick knows his Xs and Os and is known for figuring out ways to limit the effectiveness of his opponents’ best players. Certainly he’ll come up with something special to stop Marshawn Lynch and limit Russell Wilson’s impact as a runner.

LeGarrette Blount. Since the running back joined New England after his release by the Steelers in November, the Pats’ running game has had an explosive, workhorse ballcarrier to keep defenses honest. If the Seahawks defense spreads out and focuses its efforts on stopping tight end Rob Gronkowski or wideout Julian Edelman, Blount should be able to gash them with power runs.

Special teams superiority. Both teams are solid in all areas, but New England’s punt-return, kick coverage and field-goal blocking abilities are a tick better. One big play could be the difference.

Brady-to-Gronkowski. The passing combination may be the hardest to stop in the NFL when Gronk is healthy, and he’s been healthy and very productive.

Why the Seahawks could win 

Karma. The flip side to the “evil genius” factor. The Patriots have been caught bending the rules before, so the whole “Deflategate” scandal from the AFC Championship Game is just the latest chapter. Remember, the Patriots went into Super Bowl XLII in February 2008, trying to complete an undefeated season, when they were upset by the Giants -- after the whole “Spygate” controversy first surfaced. That was Karma I. This could be Karma II.

Pete Carroll. The Seattle head coach has managed to get his team to peak at the right time for two seasons now. The Seahawks play hard for him, and Carroll’s defense was No. 1 overall and No. 1 vs. the pass this season. After surviving a scare against Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game, all the mojo is on the side of Seattle's upbeat coach.

Kam Chancellor. The Seahawks’ All-Pro safety will be the man tasked with containing Gronkowski, and he seems ideally suited for the job. He’s big, strong and athletic and should be up to the task. If Seattle can take away Brady’s No. 1 target, the Pats will be playing with one hand tied behind their back.

Russell Wilson. The Seahawks’ young quarterback just wins. He’s not the best passer in the league -- until crunch time. Then he simply finds a way to make plays with his arm and his feet. He has a 6-1 playoff record, including five straight wins. In a meeting of the teams in 2012, Wilson led two late touchdown drives as the Seahawks pulled out a comeback victory.

Marshawn Lynch. If the Seahawks can get “Beast Mode” in gear early, they can control the game’s tempo. And it will help open up other avenues for the Seattle offense. Plus, after a week of Lynch vs. media shenanigans leading up to the game, wouldn’t it be perfect for Lynch to win the MVP award and get yet another chance to be interviewed on national TV? “I’m just here so I won't get fined… and to get my trophy.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ferret Rumors Swirl in Baby Mauling]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 17:17:12 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Child+Ferret+Attack+Parents+Fraim.jpg

Speculation about whether a trio of ferrets were responsible for the mauling of a 1-month-old girl in a Delaware County, Pennsylvania, home last week have been running rampant since the attack — but police are shooting down the rumors, saying clear evidence points to the ferrets.

Skyy Fraim was released from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia this week after undergoing emergency surgery following the Jan. 21 attack, police said on Friday. The girl’s nose and part of her cheek were eaten away, while her upper lip was shredded.

The baby’s mother, Jessica Benales, was upstairs using the restroom when the mauling happened. She came down to find at least one of the ferrets attacking the child and pulled the animal off the girl, who was strapped into a car seat on the floor of the family’s Darby home.

Benales, 24, and her 42-year-old fiancé, Burnie Fraim, told police they believed the ferrets somehow broke out of their mesh pen.

But despite the accounts by police and the child's parents of the mauling, some ferret owners and shelter operators told NBC10 the animals could not have inflicted such severe injuries on the child.

Others claimed a necropsy found no human tissue in the animal’s stomach — but necropsies were not performed on the ferrets, Delaware County Animal Control said, so that cannot be known. After the animals were euthanized, a rabies test was performed and came back negative.

A staffer said necropsies are hardly ever performed by the agency and were not in this case because the mother witnessed part of the attack.

Still, the necropsies are unnecessary, says Darby Police Chief Robert Smythe. There is clear evidence that the ferrets were responsible for the mauling, he told NBC10.

“I would refute what they are saying because of physical evidence that was inside the building and that was on the child’s face,” he said.

Skyy Fraim had puncture wounds on her head consistent with a ferret’s teeth and claws, Smythe said. Detectives looked at the family’s other pets and the possibility that a rodent was responsible, but those possibilities were ruled out. It also appeared the ferrets roamed the home, which authorities said was filthy, and broke into pet food.

Benales and Fraim, who have four other children age 5 or younger, have each been charged with five counts of child endangerment. The children have been removed from their parents' care and are currently with the Delaware County Children and Youth Services.

Authorities said the children and parents all have special needs and have been under the care of three social service agencies. 

In addition to the ferrets, the family had six cats and two turtles. Two dogs had previously been removed from the home.

Seven case workers were assigned to the family, Smythe said. He questioned how nothing had been done to improve the family’s quality of life and remove the animals.

“It’s a family in crisis,” he said. “I believe they’re people that have issues and problems and the system is not working.”

Prior to being charged, Fraim told NBC10 that he and his fiancé care for the children.

“We’re good parents. It’s just we made one mistake by leaving them alone. We regret it, and we blame ourselves for it,” he said. The 1-month-old will need to undergo several surgeries to repair the damage done in the attack, the father added.

Smythe said a district court judge disregarded a bail recommendation that included a psychological evaluation and instead released the couple on their own recognizance. They are barred from having contact with the children.

A court date has yet to be set in the case.

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

Photo Credit: NBC10/Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Transgender Woman Dies After Home Surgery: PD]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 12:17:01 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/Kaiser+Permanente+silicone+transgender.JPG

A transgender woman who attended a body-modification party in Orange County died as a result of an off-the-books procedure she received there, investigators said.

Santa Ana police say the woman checked herself into an Irvine hospital on Jan. 1 because she was having trouble breathing. Three weeks later, the 40-year-old was dead, and authorities believe the cause of death was an embolism from a silicone injection.

She "had been to a silicone injection party somewhere in Santa Ana. She had injections in her buttocks for cosmetic reasons," said Cpl. Anthony Bertagna, of the Santa Ana Police Department.

It's unclear what type of injections she received or how many, and police are still trying to notify her family.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department identified the victim Friday. NBC4 has not yet spoken with her family and is not publishing her name at this time. 

Tony Viramontes, who works with transgender men and women at the LGBT Center OC, said cosmetic surgery can help people feel comfortable in their bodies as part of the transition process. 

"They found happiness in seeing their body takes shape. They have hips and a full buttocks and they feel feminine," Viramontes said.

People in transition can sometimes go to great lengths to feel complete, Viramontes said. Parties like this one offer discounts and instant gratificiation.

"People are taking advantage of people looking to change their looks and it can lead to death," said Viramontes, who noted that there is a program to ensure medical procedures are done by licensed doctors.

The parties do come with a tremendous risk.

April Brown shared with NBC4 her story of getting butt injections three years ago, after she had her limbs amputated in emergency surgery to save her life.

The Los Angeles hair dresser suffered septic shock from industrial silicone injections, the kind sold in hardware stores.

Police are urging anyone who attended the December party where the victim received her injections to call them and explain what happened.

Photo Credit: Kevin Dahlgren]]>
<![CDATA[Choking Game: "The Horror Just Stops You Cold"]]> Sat, 31 Jan 2015 00:08:28 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/01-30-2015-choking-game.JPG

The videos are disturbing. A young girl in pink pajamas leans on another, cutting off her air supply until the girl collapses.

Link: Erik's Cause

A young boy in a public gym quietly slumps down against a wall. A teenager, alone in her room, chokes herself until she begins to twitch and gasp.

All of these are recent examples of videos posted online of kids playing "the choking game." The game goes by many names, including, the fainting game, pass out challenge, space monkey, California choke and maybe most appropriately, suffocation roulette.

The game has been around for generations, but with the proliferation of online videos, safety advocates worry there is more temptation than ever. Judy Rogg, a social worker, told NBC4 these videos encourage kids to dare others to "go further" with little regard for the risk involved.

"Kids think it's fun," she said. "Kids don't realize that it's dangerous."

The game cuts the oxygen to the brain, in the hopes of getting light headed, or a feeling of euphoria. But the high comes with great risks including broken bones, seizures and even death.

There is a long list of things parents warn their children about, and Rogg said "the choking game" should be part of that conversation. It is a conversation Rogg wishes she had with her own son. Erik was just 12 years old, when found him unresponsive, alone in their home, with a rope around his neck.

"This is important, as important to talk about with your kids as drugs and alcohol and sex," said Rogg. "The horror just stops you cold.

"I truly believe he did not intend to end his life. He had plans that evening, he had plans the next day, and he wasn’t going anywhere."

Erik was rushed to the hospital. While there, Judy explains that detectives told her they believed her son died from "the choking game."

It was the first time she had ever heard of it. Several days later, a classmate of Erik's came forward and told her Erik had learned the game at school on a Monday.

He died one day later.

Judy struggles with the loss every day. Her apartment celebrates his memory -- in one corner rests his skateboard. A collection of baseball bats are on a shelf and baby booties are tucked in the pocket of a handmade quilt.

Rogg has now developed an awareness program called "Erik's Cause."

"This is about saving other kids, that's Erik’s legacy, and that's the legacy that I want for my son right now," Rogg said.

Rogg insists if Erik knew the dangers, he never would have played the game.

"I would love to see this program in every health curriculum across the country."

Right now, only one district has taken up her program. Jennifer Wood, Director of Secondary Education for the Iron County School District in Cedar City Utah, said the choking game is a real problem.

"We've had four children die of this," Wood said.

San Bernardino Child Welfare Coordinator Earl Smith said he believes there have been choking deaths in the San Bernardino area. He is one of the first school administrators to advocate for a program like "Erik's Cause."

"As a teacher I actually heard students talking about it all of the time," Smith said. "We have to get the education out, not only to kids, but to parents."

There's a long list of topics teenagers are already warned about, including drugs, alcohol and texting while driving. Still, 17-year-old Roman Valentine said schools need to include warnings against the fleeting high of the choking game because it can be more dangerous than drugs.

"Weed isn't really good, but I mean, when do you really see deaths about that?"

Rogg continues to travel the country, talking to health professionals and school districts, hoping more of them will adopt her program. She said Erik always wanted to be of service and she feels his presence as she now tries to help others.

"He was really smart, and as one of his best friends said, 'Even smart strong kids can make dumb choices, with deadly consequences.'"

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Preschool Measles Case Triggers Rapid Response]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 14:39:40 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/Simi+Measles.JPG

A child was diagnosed with measles in Southern California this week, sending their preschool scrambling to screen other students.

More than 40 students and staff members at Little Explorers Preschool Academy in Simi Valley may have been exposed to the highly infectious virus, which is spreading throughout California and beyond.

California health officials have reported at least 81 measles cases since December, when several people who visited Disney theme parks in Anaheim came down with measles. The Simi Valley case is related to Disneyland as well, according to school officials, but some infections in the recent outbreak were contracted elsewhere.

The infected student is doing well, the school said, and screenings were quickly coordinated. Parents at Little Explorers Preschool Academy said they weren't worried that the classmate of their children, described as a toddler, was diagnosed with the highly infectious disease.

"I'm highly impressed with the school and actions that they took and steps they took to make sure everybody was OK," said Terry Richardson, a school grandparent.

The Ventura County school notified parents as soon as they learned that the student, who has not been named, was potentially exposed to the measles on Wednesday, Jan. 28, the school said in a statement. They are working with county health officials, already checking each student for immunity and vaccinating those who needed it.

"Our number one priority is the health and well being of our students," the statement said. "At the present time the child in quarantine is doing well and none of our other students are demonstrating any signs of the measles virus."

Photo Credit: Rene Luna]]>
<![CDATA[Human Remains in Suitcase Are From 1 Man: Medical Examiner]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 11:35:00 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/sfpd11.jpg

The San Francisco Chief Medical Examiner's office confirmed Friday the human body parts found in the suitcase in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood are those of an unidentified light-skinned male.

The Medical Examiner's office said that the California Department of Justice Bureau of Forensic Servicea DNA Laboratory will be assesting in the identification process.

The case is currently under investigation with the cause and manner of death pending.

Homicide investigators spent Thursday going door-to-door in SoMa looking for surveillance camera video that might show them who left the suitcase on the sidewalk. And they had some luck — one video showing a person pulling the suitcase was recovered from a Goodwill nearby. Police released those images Friday afternoon.

San Francisco police discovered a dismembered body when they opened the suitcase, found abandoned Wednesday on 11th Street near Market Street, a block from Twitter's headquarters. Police then made another gruesome discovery when they uncovered more body parts within a three-block radius.

Police spokeswoman Grace Gatpandan said investigators have a rough description of a suspect but aren't releasing additional details because the investigation is ongoing.

Police also said they have recovered at least one surveillance video from a Goodwill store from Wednesday showing a person with the suitcase.

"It just showed a person across the street pulling like a suit case, that's basically it,"  Gary Grellman of Goodwill Industries told NBC Bay Area. "Male or female, I couldn't tell. I think it's male."

Officers spent Thursday morning dumping trash cans and looking for body parts or anything that could be linked to the case.

Meanwhile, the discovery has left residents in the area startled and on edge.

"To find something like that, it's just real shocking to me," resident Miguel Valdez said.

NBC Bay Area's Riya Bhattacharjee and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Married CA Cops Sentenced 3 Years ]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 18:52:54 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/bryce+jennifer+charpentier.jpg

Two married San Diego Police officers convicted of drug sales and burglary charges were sentenced to three years in state prison in a downtown courtroom Friday.

Bryce Charpentier, 32, and Jennifer Charpentier, 41, admitted to selling and furnishing a narcotic substance, possession of a firearm by an addict, conspiracy to commit first-degree residential burglary, conspiracy to commit a crime and possession and sale of a controlled substance.

As a result, the two resigned from the SDPD in November. Jennifer also lost partial custody of her kids after her arrest.

In court Friday, Bryce was teary as he apologized to the department and his family. The prosecution, however, called him "manipulative."

In an attempt to argue against jail time, the defense said the two never used their authority status and witnesses did not know they were cops. They also said the two have gotten clean and are active in 12-step programs, and that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder contributed to their actions.

Prosecutors asked for maximum sentences for both, saying other officers who suffer addiction and PTSD don't start distribution labs.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said in a press conference following the sentencing that "no one is above the law."

"As police officers, their job was to protect the citizens of San Diego; not to victimize them," she said.

Both officers initially pleaded not guilty, but changed their pleas after new charges were filed against the couple, accusing them of stealing prescription medication from their parent, burglarizing a home while on the clock as officers and leading a distribution chain.

Bryce, a six-year veteran of the SDPD, and Jennifer, an 18-year veteran, were arrested in June during a San Diego County Sheriff’s Department narcotics investigation.

San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman also spoke out about the case saying, "It is reprehensible that these two former officers made the terrible decision to betray and discredit our badge and our profession."

Zimmerman said after the launch of the Sheriff's Department's investigation, she and her department cooperated fully and "the public trust is too important for anything less."

Sheriff Bill Gore joined Dumanis and Zimmerman at the press conference.

"I know I speak for everyone up here today when I say that we'd rather be up here for almost any other reason than to discuss the sentencing and prosecution of law enforcement officers," Gore said.

He said he thinks the collaborative efforts between SDPD and the sheriff's office were successful, adding, "It's been said that trust takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to repair."

Search warrants said Jennifer got seven different drugs in 71 prescriptions from seven separate doctors and then traveled to 17 pharmacies to fill them. Bryce went as far as Oakhurst near Yosemite to fill 79 prescriptions from six different doctors.

One victim was Jennifer's own mother. During a visit to their home, Bryce texted his wife he was coming back and pulling into the driveway. At that point, Jennifer texted she was taking her mother into the backyard, presumably to distract her while Bryce took prescription medication from her.

Before the couple's sentencing, Jennifer said she and her mom have worked things out and her mom wrote a letter to the court.

The judge said she gave probation serious consideration, but the case does not involve simple street corner drug sales, and denied the motion. However, the two are out of custody until Feb. 6 and will only serve 50 percent of their sentence on good behavior.

The couple was also ordered to pay $5,000 each in restitution.

This is a developing story. Check back here for updates.

Photo Credit: San Diego Police Dept. Yearbook]]>
<![CDATA[1 Injured in 210 Freeway Motorcycle Crash]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 15:22:38 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/210+Motorcycle+Crash.JPG

A motorcylce crash was blocking all lanes of the eastbound 210 Freeway in Glendora Friday afternoon, according to the California Highway Patrol.

A motorcycle hit the back of a vehicle at about 2:45 p.m. on the freeway near 57 Freeway, the CHP said.

One person was taken by helicopter to a trauma center, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said.

The roadway was cleared at 3:15 p.m., accoridng to the CHP.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[What Does the Disneyland Measles Outbreak Mean?]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 17:41:35 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/MEASLES1.JPG

The outbreak of measles at Disneyland in Orange County, California, has reignited the debate over the anti-vaccination movement, driven by parents who question whether vaccines are safe and and whether there is a connection to autism in particular.

Medical experts say the study showing such a link has been repeatedly discredited and other parents counter their children are being endangered by irresponsible behavior.

Arizona, meanwhile, is monitoring more than 1,000 people who might have been exposed as thousands begin arriving for the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Here’s what you should know.

How many people are affected?

Sixty-eight people have reported contracting measles as a result of the outbreak that began at Disneyland, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The majority of the children and adults who became ill either had not been inoculated or did not know if they had been, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

“This is not a problem of the measles vaccine not working,” she told reporters this week. “This is a problem of the measles vaccine not being used.”

Since 2000, measles has been eliminated in the United States, meaning it is no longer native to the country. But it can still be spread by someone infected elsewhere and the CDC is assuming that is what happened at Disneyland.

How widespread is measles?

Each year there are 20 million cases around the world, and 145,000 people die, according to the CDC. Other complications: encephalitis and pneumonia.

Last year, there were a record number of measles in the United States, 644 cases, up from a median of 60 a year over the previous decade. And this January a total of 84 cases in 14 states were reported, more than what was typical in an entire year.

Those numbers pale compared to the average number of cases reported each year before the vaccine became available: 549,000.

Is there reason to worry?

The CDC's Schuchat said the numbers for January were concerning.

"I want to do everything possible to prevent measles from getting a foothold in the United States and becoming endemic again," she said.

Dr. Stephen Morse, professor of epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, said he thought the country was a long way from returning to the high number of measles cases and other diseases.

"If enough people are not taking these vaccines, we will see a resurgence, but right now these are fairly small events," he said. "So I think the reason everyone pays attention to it in medical and public health communities is simply because this is not a trend you would like to see really going up."

How high are vaccination rates?

Immunization rates remain high despite the attention the measles outbreak is receiving. Among kindergartners enrolled in the 2013-2014 school year, the median vaccination coverage was 93 percent and higher for measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and chicken pox.

To provide what is called herd immunity -- to protect people who cannot be immunization and those for whom the vaccines are not effective -- experts recommend that between 90 and 95 percent of a community be fully inoculated. Health officials are worried about pockets of parents who are rejecting inoculation.

Morse said the control of a disease such as measles was hard won.

"When we actually had these diseases among us people feared them or at least really wanted a vaccine," he said. "Now of course we’re much more blasé, which is a mistake."

What is the reaction from parents worried about vaccines?

Barbara Loe Fisher, the president of the National Vaccine Information Center, a Virginia-based nonprofit that advocates allowing parents to choose whether to vaccinate their children, said that it was premature to point fingers at those who decided to forgo vaccines.

"There is no question that there is a tremendous amount of pressure being placed on parents who are making informed vaccine decisions for their children," she said. "I think this has gone way too far. The discussion has gotten very ugly, it has gotten extremely polarized and it's caused a lot of parents to be very afraid of doctors and public health officials."

Less than 1.8 percent of children attending kindergarten have vaccination exceptions, she noted. Less than 1 percent of children under the age of 3 are unvaccinated, she said.

What about other diseases?

Mumps, rubella, pertussis or whooping cough and chickenpox are among others that could also spike if parents continue to forgo vaccinations, experts say.

“This isn’t just a measles problem,” said Dr. Gregory A. Poland, the director of the Mayo Clinic Vaccine Research Group in Rochester, Minnesota. “This is a problem for any transmissible disease for which we have safe and effective vaccines that aren’t unfortunately used.”

Measles is especially contagious, but there have been other outbreaks. Mumps, for example, is no longer common in the United States, with only 229 cases reported in 2012 compared to 186,000 cases each year before the mumps vaccination program began in 1967. But in 2009-2010, there were two large outbreaks, according to the CDC: one among mostly Hasidic Jewish children in New York who were delaying immunization, and another among mostly school aged children in Guam.

<![CDATA[Cutting Class? New App Could Blow Your Cover]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 14:08:09 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/smart+phone+generic+.jpg

Want to see if your college student is skipping class? There’s an app for that.

For $200 a year, parents, professors and campus administrators can use Class120 to check to see if a student is in class at the scheduled time.

The minds behind the app, which was debuted by start-up Core Principle this month, say the accountability app could help students stay on track with their studies and prepare them for being punctual once they enter the workforce. But some students say it gives parents too much control over the lives of their adult children.

Jeff Whorley, founder and CEO of Core Principle, developed the app after a conversation he had with a college professor that left him thinking that if colleges treated all students the way they treat Division 1 athletes, whose attendance in class is closely monitored, then graduation levels would rise.

“If we could get students everywhere to attend at least 90 percent of their classes, over 80 percent would graduate,” Whorley told NBC Owned Television Stations.

The app tracks if the student is in class, and sends an alert to the student’s parent or teacher if they do not show up to class for two days in a row. Core Principle can also call the student directly if a parent or teacher does not feel comfortable contacting the student. The app must be downloaded by the student, and it can only be used to track if a student is in class, not at parties or other activities.

Still, some have criticized the app for being too controlling over students who should be treated like adults.

"I would probably be more annoyed than anything," Natalie Pike told NBC affiliate WTHR. "I would feel like my life is being pried into."

But Whorley argues that in the post-college world, a recent grad will face immediate consequences if they do not show up or even show up late to work. More students, he says, need to be treated with similar consequences by having a teacher or parent point out that they are late and help get back on track before the entire semester goes down the drain.

“We don’t think this app is anti-adult," Whorley said. "It’s an introduction to the real economy.”

The app has made recent headlines, with coverage in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. In the last four days alone, the start-up has seen a huge increase in traffic from parents in Europe and Asia looking to track their children who are studying abroad in the U.S., he said. So far the app is available for close to 2,000 college campuses across the country that the company has geomapped.

Whorley hopes that in the future this app can work to take class attendance.

“The future of taking attendance is Wi-Fi or GPS where a professor looks down at a piece of smart technology instead of calling roll," he said.

<![CDATA[NYC Cops Save Beaten Puppy in Snow]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 14:03:23 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/dog+beaten+arrest.jpg

A 43-year-old Bronx man was arrested for allegedly punching a 6-month-old pit bull and beating it with a shovel, then burying it in the snow so deep only its head was visible, authorities say.

Police responded to a 911 call about a dog being abused shortly before 3 a.m. Friday and found the pooch, which appears to be a pit bull, buried in the snow on 167th Street. Only its head was visible.

Officers pulled the pup out of the snow and saw signs of mistreatment and abuse. It apparently The dog, a female named Hennessy, was taken to the ASPCA in Manhattan for treatment.

About an hour later, police arrested Raul Cruz, who witnesses had identified as the alleged dog abuser, not far from where they rescued the pup.

He was charged with aggravated cruelty to animals and torturing, injuring or not feeding an animal. It wasn't clear if Cruz had an attorney.

Photo Credit: Handout]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Pediatric Nurse Pleads Guilty to Sex Acts with Newborn]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 13:42:43 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/MICHAEL+WILLIAM+LUTTS+Booking+Photo.JPG

A pediatric nurse accused of performing sex acts on two infants and videotaping them entered a guilty plea Thursday, the U.S. attorney said.

Michael William Lutts, 50, a former nurse, was arrested last August at his College Grove home and charged with sexual exploitation of a child.

Lutts pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual exploitation of a child and one count of distribution of child pornography. He admitted to 15 instances of photographing or videotaping the infants in "sexually explicit situations at both his home and his work place," the U.S. attorney said.

Lutts also agreed to give up his College area home, in which many of the crimes took place.

A federal grand jury indictment says around July 24, he took sexually explicit digital photos of an 11-month-old girl.

He then began performing lewd acts on his prematurely born, 2-month-old foster child on Aug. 4, 2014, the day Lutts received custody of him, officials say.

Investigators detail graphic incidents in court documents, alleging Lutts touched and manipulated the infant’s genitals while masturbating and filming the abuse.

Pictures show the hospital tag was still attached to the boy’s leg, according to a complaint. The FBI says the baby can be heard crying through many of the videos.

Agents started tracking Lutts because they believed he was a child pornography distributor. When they served a search warrant to his house, they say they found several hundred pornographic images and videos involving children.

“This is a deeply disturbing case,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “We will do everything in our power to protect our precious, defenseless children from sexual abuse and exploitation, especially at the hands of caregivers who are supposed to keep them safe .”

The foster child has since been placed in the care of Child Protective Services.

Kaiser Permanente said Lutts was terminated in September.

Two other men are accused of conspiring with Lutts. A federal indictment says Stephen Schaffner, an ex-counselor, directed Lutts to sexually abuse his foster child and send pictures to him.

Last week, Bartolomeo Baravella was arrested on suspicion of planning to kidnap a baby with Lutts. Baravella has been charged with possession of images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

“Though the FBI investigates many types of criminal investigations, it is particularly disturbing when the victims are sexually exploited children or infants," said FBI Special Agent in Eric S. Birnbaum. "When this type of sexual exploitation takes place, the FBI and our law enforcement partners will aggressively pursue those who would exploit and abuse children, and bring them to justice."

Lutts faces a maximum of 80 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced April 20.

Photo Credit: FBI]]>
<![CDATA[College Students Will Have a Harder Time Cutting Class ]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 13:04:25 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NC_attendanceapp0129001_1500x845__677564.jpg College students will have a much harder time trying to skip class now that parents and professors can track if they're in class or not. ]]> <![CDATA[Bomb Threat Prompts Two School Evacuations: Police]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 14:17:57 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/209*120/1-30-15-west+covina+south+hills+sign+1.JPG

Two West Covina schools were placed on lockdown and evacuated Friday afternoon after a bomb threat was reported, police said.

South Hills High School and Mesa Elementary School closed, with students evacuating to Barranca Elementary School, according to West Covina Police Department officials.

Roads around South Hills High School were also closed, police said.

Parents were told to pick up their children at Barranca Elementary School at 727 S. Barranca Avenue in Covina

The road surrounding South Hills High School were closed in connection with the bomb threat investigation until further notice, according to a police tweet.

Police were searching both schools soon after 2 p.m., officials said.

South Hills High School was in the news for two separate allegations of sexual contact with students this month, with two teachers and a part-time wrestling coach arrested.

Calls to school officials were not returned.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Lens Marks Vision Treatment Breakthrough]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 12:01:55 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/cataracts+eye+doctor.jpg

A new breakthrough lens that corrects nearsightedness, farsightedness, and reading vision in cataracts patients has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Melissa Crow is one of the first cataract patients to receive the new lens. Cataracts occur when the lens inside the eye becomes cloudy, but the new lens is used to replace that lens.

"With this lens, I don't have to compromise," said Crow.

Before undergoing surgery, Crow struggled to read. She described her vision as "blurry during the day and at night when I'm driving I notice that the lights reflect off of it and there’s a halo."

Dr. Kerry Assil, of the Assil Eye Institute, suggested the one-of-a-kind lens to cure Crow's cataracts and restore her full range of vision while eliminating the need for glasses. Crow did not even have to go to sleep for the procedure, which took less than an hour.

First, Assil numbed the eye, then he removed the cloudy lens. The new lens fit easily into the same spot in the eye.

"It has an envelope that we leave behind of the original lens and that envelope serves as a hammock to support the new synthetic lens," Assil said.

Just a few days later, Crow already noticed a major improvement in the quality of her eyesight.

"I was so excited. When I woke up that next morning, I could see 20/20 and it was amazing because I was used to getting up and just seeing a blur out of that eye and all of the sudden I was seeing print that I hadn’t seen in ages," Crow said.

Dr Bruce Says: This lens is not prescribed for near or far vision, which may be corrected by Lasik, or for reading vision, which affects everyone sooner or later. Its major use is as a replacement for cataract affected lenses but the added bonus is its ability to help with a wide range of vision problems.

<![CDATA[Missing Girl Could Be Traveling Across Country: LAPD]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 10:01:51 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/Lauren-Jackson-missing-Westchester-Georgia.jpg

A 14-year-old girl is missing from her South Los Angeles home and may be traveling across the country, police said.

Lauren Jackson's family reported her missing Thursday evening at 5:30 p.m., according to the Los Angeles Police Department. She may be traveling to Georgia or North Carolina, police said.

Jackson is 14 years old, 5-foot-10 and about 120 pounds, and lives in the 6700 block of 88th Street in Westchester, police said. She was last seen in a black shirt; floral pants; a puffy, pink jacket and red shoes.

Police ask anyone with information about Jackson's whereabouts to call 310-482-6445.

Photo Credit: Courtesy LAPD]]>
<![CDATA[Officers Search for Gunman in Koreatown]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 06:19:11 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/219*120/police_tape_crime_generic.jpg

Officers are searching a Koreatown neighborhood early Friday after a report of a shooting.

The search is near Third Street, west of Vermont Avenue. An LAPD tweet advised drivers to avoid the area due to the search.

The shooting victim, struck by a round in the leg, suffered minor injuries, according to police. One person is in custody in connection with the shooting, but officers are looking for a second individual.

A detailed description of the wanted subject was not available.

Refresh this page for updates.

<![CDATA[UC Davis Patient Tests Negative For Ebola]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 16:20:54 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ebola-uc-davis.jpg

A patient feared to have Ebola has tested negative for the deadly virus, California health officials confirmed Friday.

The patient was transferred to UC Davis Medical Center on Thursday after showing symptoms consistent with the virus. A test conducted by the Sacramento County Public Health Laboratory came back negative Thursday night.

The hospital reports the patient is in good condition.

There is no threat to the general public, officials said.

Test results also came back negative Friday afternoon for a second suspected Ebola patient at the UC Davis Medical Center. That patient, too, came from Sacramento. Public health administrators haven't said whether the cases, or the patients, are related.

The possible Ebola cases came to light on Thursday, the same day the World Health Organization reported Ebola cases in three of the worst-hit West African countries are at the lowest level in seven months.

Photo Credit: KCRA-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Accused McStay Killer Will Be His Own Attorney]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 20:22:47 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Mcstay-family-crop-2013.jpg

The man accused of murdering a Fallbrook family found buried in the desert requested to represent himself in court during an early hearing, claiming he only had six to eight months to live.

Charles Merritt, a former business partner of Joseph McStay, is accused of killing McStay along with Sunny McStay and the couple’s two boys in 2010.

Merritt said he wanted to represent himself for two reasons. He said he only has six to eight months to live due to congestive heart failure and could not afford his own attorney. The San Bernadino judge said Merritt could act as his own attorney.

He said he believes he can work around the clock to move the trail process along faster than his own attorney could. The judge offered a court-appointed attorney at no cost, but Merritt declined.

In a prior hearing, a San Bernadino judge denied a request to unseal search warrants in the case of a Fallbrook family found buried in the desert.

NBC 7 is one of 18 news organizations seeking release of search warrant documents related to the case against Merritt.

The judge would not unseal any portion of the search warrants the media requested, arguing that the release would impede on Merritt's right to a fair trial and would impede an ongoing investigation.

The judge said, however, that he was willing to revisit the case in the future. Some of those documents the media is requesting could be released after a preliminary hearing or sooner, the judge said, if the preliminary hearing is delayed.

The Fallbrook family was believed to have vanished. Family members and other volunteers searched for any sign of them, crime cable shows highlighted their story and an investigation was launched by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

It wasn’t until November 2013, that the family’s bodies were uncovered in Victorville.

The media argued in court that the public has a constitutional right to see search warrant documents and learn more about the investigation, now that Merritt has been arrested and formally charged with the crimes.

But prosecutors strongly disagreed in court. Deputy District Attorney Mark Vos argued the release of the documents could harm what that he characterizes as a continuing investigation and an “open murder case”, despite earlier statements by the San Bernardino Sheriff that Merritt is the only suspect in the case.

The judge set a status conference in two weeks for February 20. A pre preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 3 and a preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 7.

<![CDATA[WATCH: Seahawks Coach on What Richard Sherman Should Name His Baby]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 08:57:12 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/WNBC_000000005961142_1200x675_391459395811.jpg Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll joked that cornerback Richard Sherman should name his baby "Petey." Carroll was asked about the possibility of Sherman's pregnant girlfriend going into labor before the Super Bowl. The lighthearted moment came during a press conference with New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick on Friday, Jan. 30. ]]> <![CDATA[Breakfast of Super Bowl Champions]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 07:56:16 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/01-30-2015-super-bowl-roggin-breakfast.JPG NBC4's Fred Roggin joins some Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots fans for breakfast Friday Jan. 30, 2015 in Phoenix.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[New Arcade Features Retro Games]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 07:53:21 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/01-30-2015-space-invaders-arcade.JPG Mia Mazadiego and her husband Mark Guenther celebrate the early days of arcade video games like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and Centipede at Neon Retro Arcade. Adrian Arambulo reports for Today in LA on Friday Jan. 30, 2015.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Some Docs Snub Anti-Vaccine Parents]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 19:09:25 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Measles-vaccine-0116.jpg

Two cases of Disney-linked measles have been confirmed in Marin County, the health department said on Thursday, and both children were unvaccinated.

Their names and ages were not released, though the county health department said they are related. The infection occurred outside the county when they contracted the disease, Marin's Public Health Officer Dr. Matthew Willis and in this case, there is no need to bar other unvaccinated children from school. He confirmed that the cases are indeed linked to the Disney outbreak that was first reported in December.

The two children join the 91 and counting people who have confirmed and documented cases of measles in California as of Friday afternoon, according to the California Department of Public Health. Of those cases, 58 are epidemiologically linked to Disney, and the remaining cases have no known link to the Southern California Disney parks.

In the Bay Area, Alameda County has had six case of confirmed Disney-related measles. Also, on Friday, a preschooler was diagnosed with measles in Ventura County, stemming from a Disney park exposure. Three cases have been confirmed in San Mateo County.

Health officials on Friday also confirmed the first measles case in Solano County this year.

Though Marin Health and Human Services did not describe how old the people with measles are, the agency posted on its website that by law in California, unvaccinated children will be kept out of school for 21 days if there is a case on campus. But Willis said in this case, there was no need to do that because "there is no evidence for school-based exposure."

There are many people who choose not to vaccinate, citing a "personal belief" exemption. There are a high number of those people in highly educated Marin County, the Bay Area county with the highest vaccination exemption rate of 6.5 percent in 2014-15. However, Willis noted that the number of Marin parents choosing these exemptions has decreased by 18 percent since 2012. Nevada County in California has the highest personal-belief exemption rate with a 21 percent opt out rate, according to the Department of Health.

"I actually respect a parent's ability to choose in a variety of areas," Marin County Superintendent of Schools Jane Burke said on Friday. "However, I think we should take note of what they do in Sweden where it's a civic responsibility to be immunized because we indeed need to protect those unable to young infants and older people."

She said she is doing everything in her power to garner a "sea change" to educate people on the importance of vaccinations. She credited Kaiser Permanente for sending out robo calls to people in the community to remind them to get their shots.

Some doctors are refusing to see children whose parents won't get them vaccinated against the disease. 

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Richard Sherman's Dad Loves Life as LA Garbage Man]]> Fri, 30 Jan 2015 04:55:00 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/204*120/1-29-15-Richard+Sherman+Kevin+Sherman.JPG

He's had boots on the ground without fail for 20 straight years.

Day after day at the break of dawn, Kevin Sherman is on a mission to keep the streets of LA clean and provide for his family.

Growing up in Compton, the only goal for his children was education and to make sure they end up in a better position than he. And in 2010, his youngest son Richard graduated from Stanford, where he also played football.

You might know him: Richard Sherman, the dominant cornerback for Super Bowl-bound Seattle Seahawks, one of the best known and most outspoken players in the NFL.

The NFL's biggest trash talker received his most important life lessons from a canny trash man.

"Don't change for anybody," Kevin Sherman said. "Be yourself. Right, wrong, indifferent, nobody can never say you're not yourself."

Despite losing an eye in a teenage go-karting accident, he taught his kids to never quit, which is why the father of the star athlete is still hard at work and two years shy of retiring and earning a pension.

"My son is an NFL player, but I don't want my son taking care of me the rest of my life," he said.

All the while, Kevin Sherman remains in the background collecting memories — Super Bowl rings.

Photo Credit: Neil Torres]]>