<![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-usSun, 20 Aug 2017 21:50:40 -0700Sun, 20 Aug 2017 21:50:40 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Mourners Remember Father Killed Trying to Break Up Fight]]> Sat, 19 Aug 2017 00:43:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/8-18-17-Vigil.JPG

Mourners paid their respect Friday for a father killed while trying to break up a fight in Riverside.

Adam Valles, 29, was remembered as a peacemaker.

The young father, after a night out, came upon a brawl that was caught on cellphone video.

Friends said risked his own safety by stepping in to break it up.

"I told him, 'Adam don't go,'" said Alfredo Valverde, a friend. "And then he went. And then I went to him and said, 'Adam stop. He was walking away and someone hit him."

This newly released security footage shows the two men police are looking for. They attacked Valles, throwing him to the ground.

"I want him home with me," said Johana Cordova Valles, the victim's wife through tears. "He shouldn't have died like this."

Valles' family wore matching T-shirts to let everyone know who he was.

"He saved two people and I want them to know I miss him and I want him to come back," said Rosalie Valles, the victim's 8-year-old daughter.

They want other witnesses, some seen recording their own cellphone video, to come forward and help them find justice.

"What goes around, comes around," said Mike Valles, the victim's dad. "He's going to get his."

Added his wife: "My kids should not go without a father because of some idiot. I hope we catch him. Adam needs justice."

The descriptions of the attackers are vague.

But police believe they came from one the bars across the street.

One was wearing a black or dark shirt with skinny jeans. The other, wearing a light blue button up shirt and tan pants.

Investigators said they have received numerous tips but have not gotten any new videos that captured the brawl.

Anyone with information on the attack is urged to contact the Riverside Police Department at 951-354-2007.

If you would like to donate to a GoFundMe account set up to help Adam Valles' funeral costs, you may do so here. Note that GoFundMe deducts 7.9 percent of all funds raised in the form of platform and payment processing charges.

<![CDATA[3 Ways to See the Solar Eclipse Without Buying Glasses]]> Sun, 20 Aug 2017 21:30:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/shanna-eclipse-glasses.JPG

No glasses? No problem. NBC4 meteorologist Shanna Mendiola shows you three ways to see the solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, without buying eclipse glasses.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV ]]>
<![CDATA[TV Star Connecting Cancer Patients With Clinical Trials]]> Sun, 20 Aug 2017 20:57:01 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/170820-lc-lazarex.JPG

Fans of the HGTV show "Flip or Flop" may be familiar with the cancer battle of the show's host Tarek El Moussa. But what you may not know is how he is using his experience to help others. The reality TV star is connecting other cancer patients with life-saving clinical trials.

El Moussa has thousands of fans who watch his home renovation show on HGTV with his ex-wife Christine. In 2013, a registered nurse named Ryan Reade emailed to say she noticed a suspicious lump on his throat that she suspected could be thyroid cancer. El Moussa immediately got a biopsy - and she was right.

"Four hours later I woke up and Christine is staring down at me crying and I said "I have cancer right?' She said 'yeah.'"

He continued shooting his TV show even though he later found out he also had testicular cancer. Following numerous surgeries, he's now in remission and volunteering as an advocate for Lazarex Cancer Foundation - a San Francisco-based non-profit that connects end stage cancer patients with clinical trials that could save their lives - paying all expenses - including transportation to and from the trial - which is often in another state.

"At the very least we give them hope - but in many instances we're able to give them gifts of extended life, quality... and sometimes even remission," Lazarex founder Dana Dornsife said.

So when El Moussa found out his best friend and contractor on the show Frank Miller had an aggressive form of laryngeal cancer, he connected him with Lazarex and got him into a clinical trial that just might save his life.

"I was elated somebody cared - because most of my family is deceased," Miller said.

Miller has already been through 62 radiation treatments which left his throat scarred. El Moussa is documenting Miller's battle on social media - and the outpouring of love and support from fans is giving Miller inspiration to keep fighting.

"Tarek showed me how many people love and care and I was - wow... I'm gonna fight until there's no more left," Miller said.

Miller had to take a leave from the show while he's undergoing treatment, but his bond with El Moussa is still as strong as ever.

"I can't thank you enough. I love you as a brother. I love you," Miller said to El Moussa.

"Everything happens for a reason ... life is connected," El Moussa said. "I'm very happy about it."

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV ]]>
<![CDATA[Santa Rosa Firefighters Free Kitten Trapped in Car Engine]]> Sun, 20 Aug 2017 20:27:38 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/8-19-17_SR_Kitten_Car.JPG

Firefighters with the Santa Rosa Fire Department on Saturday pulled a kitten to safety after the feline became trapped in a car engine.

The successful rescue attempt occurred around 3 p.m. along Hendley Street, according to the fire department.

Footage from the scene captured two firefighters digging under the car's hood trying to find the feline. As the firefighters pried away, faint meows from the black kitten could be heard.

The kitten was eventually freed, but before it carried on, it posed for a few photos with its rescuers. 

Photo Credit: Santa Rosa Fire Department]]>
<![CDATA[The New York Times Receives Criticism After Boba Guys Piece]]> Sun, 20 Aug 2017 20:22:10 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-150575086.jpg

With the San Francisco company Boba Guys gaining a following on both coastlines, fans are justifiably protective of the beloved Boba tea spot. This became even more prevalent when The New York Times posted an article about the popular drink.

When first published, the piece was titled, “The Blobs in Your Tea? They’re Supposed to Be There.” It focused on the drink’s creation, highlighting the new Boba Guys location that opened up in New York City. From there, similar phrases continued throughout the article, describing the drink as “exotic” and something that is “embraced throughout the Far East.”

It did not take long for criticism to arise.

One Twitter user highlighted and posted screenshots of the offensive phrases, racking up over 400 likes. Anna Hezel, Senior Editor of the online magazine Taste, also pointed out the newspaper's culture-specific wording in her own satirical posts. Hezel targeted the normalcy of crushed avocados on toast, cheese stuffed pizza crust and the “blobs in Spaghetti” within American society.

The newspaper took notice of their readers' comments. One follower, Bo Hee Kim, shared his take and The New York Times published Kim’s comment in their apology statement: “It highlights otherness rather than uniqueness, defines familiarity through a nondiverse lens, and for me evokes the unpleasant feelings of being the kid in a nondiverse neighborhood bringing ‘weird’ lunches to school.”

The New York Times' Business Editor Ellen Pollock shared the organization’s remorse over the language and perspective the article used. The original piece has since been edited, removing the offensive phrases and titles.

Boba Guys’ co-founder Andrew Chau spoke to Eater San Francisco regarding the issue, noting that, “When people say the wrong s---, you gotta call them on it. But if they own up to it, you gotta make peace with their apology, too.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Report Released on Use of Police Force in State]]> Sun, 20 Aug 2017 20:11:52 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/police+force.JPG

For the first time, California now has a tally of how often police used force against civilians in 2016.

The state Attorney General’s office released the report using data supplied by 800 law enforcement agencies in California for the year 2016.

This year represents the first year of data collection and reporting, as required now by a new law. Use of force includes incidents that resulted in serious injury or death to either the civilian or the officer, as well as all incidents in which a gun was fired.

You can read the full report here.

According to the report, law enforcement agencies in the state reported 782 use of force incidents in 2016. Of those incidents, 328 involved the firing of a gun.

Out of the 832 civilians involved in those incidents, 530 were injured and 57 died--of the 1729 officers involved, 349 were injured, five officers died.

The reports also stated that 40 percent or 330 civilians involved in use-of-force incidents showed signs of having mental issues and most had signs of drug and alcohol use.

According to the report, 42 percent of those civilians involved in the incidents, were Hispanic, 30 percent were white, 20 percent black. More than 50 percent of the officers involved were white.

But the numbers might not be completely accurate, according to the report.

"While every effort was made to provide access to all law enforcement agencies, not all agencies reported. Additionally, there could be inconsistencies in reporting during the first year as training and outreach efforts are ongoing," the report stated.

NBC 7 reached out to the Attorney General’s office for raw data to determine the numbers for San Diego County but was told those numbers would be forthcoming.

NBC 7 was able to get some local numbers for use of deadly force on the District Attorney's website.

But according to the District Attorney's website, there were 13 deadly officer-involved shootings in the county--three involving San Diego Police, two involving El Cajon Police, and eight involving the San Diego Sheriff’s Department.

<![CDATA[Thousands Flocking to Oregon to View Solar Eclipse]]> Sun, 20 Aug 2017 19:50:06 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Thousands_Flocking_to_Oregon_to_View_Solar_Eclipse.jpg

Thousands of people are flocking to Salem, Oregon, to view the solar eclipse, forcing the city to get creative to accommodate the influx of visitors. Anthony Yanez reports for the NBC4 News at 6 on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.

<![CDATA[Ill. Slaying Was Part of Murder-Suicide Sex Fantasy: Prosecutors]]> Sun, 20 Aug 2017 15:28:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lathem+warren+mugs.png

Warning: Details in this story are graphic and may be disturbing to some readers.

Prosecutors alleged Sunday that the men charged in the "gruesome" stabbing death of a 26-year-old hairdresser committed the crime as part of a sexual fantasy of "killing others and then themselves."

A judge ordered former Northwestern University professor Wyndham Lathem, 43, and Oxford employee Andrew Warren, 56, held without bond after prosecutors detailed a pre-meditated attack they said the suspects plotted in an online chat room.

Authorities said Warren admitted that the two met on the internet and communicated about their shared fantasy for several months before Lathem paid for him to come to Chicago from England in late July to carry out their plan.

Prosecutors said Lathem picked Warren up at O’Hare Airport a few days prior to the brutal killing of Trenton H. James Cornell-Duranleau, who was found dead inside Lathem’s River North condo on July 27.

After Warren arrived in Chicago, the men "discussed who they would kill and when," authorities said, settling on Cornell-Duranleau, who was Lathem’s boyfriend, to be their first victim.

Prosecutors allege that the men ultimately planned to kill one another – with Warren shooting Lathem as he stabbed him – after committing several murders.

On July 26, authorities said Lathem rented a room for Warren at the Palomar Hotel, within walking distance of his home at the Grand Plaza Apartments, located at 540 N. State St.

Cornell-Duranleau arrived at Lathem’s residence that evening, according to police, who said the two were seen on surveillance video entering the building together.

After Cornell-Duranleau fell asleep, prosecutors said Lathem texted Warren "that it was time to kill" and to come to his apartment.

Surveillance footage captured Warren entering the lobby of Lathem’s building at around 4:30 a.m., officials said – roughly a half hour before witnesses told detectives that they heard "what sounded like a fight and screaming."

Once he arrived, Warren told investigators that he and Lathem conferred in the bathroom, where Lathem allegedly took a drywall knife out of its packaging before authorities said he handed Warren a cell phone, telling him to record the murder.

Prosecutors said Lathem then left the bathroom, entering the bedroom to repeatedly stab Cornell-Duranleau, who woke up and "began to scream and fight back."

Lathem called to Warren for help in controlling Cornell-Duranleau, authorities allege, at which point Warren placed his hand over the victim’s mouth, then struck him in the head with a heavy metal lamp.

Warren then went to get two kitchen knives, prosecutors said, and returned to join Lathem in continuing to stab the victim – using so much force that the blade of one of the knives broke.

Cornell-Duranleau was stabbed 70 times in total, prosecutors said the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office found.

According to prosecutors, the victim’s last words to his boyfriend and alleged killer were, "Wyndham, what are you doing?"

Authorities said Lathem and Warren then showered and attempted to clean up the scene before leaving the apartment at around 5:24 a.m., at which point they were once again seen on surveillance footage exiting the property together, according to police, who said they fled Chicago shortly thereafter.

The men rented a car and left an anonymous cash donation of $5,610 to the Howard Brown Health Center in Cornell-Duranleau’s name before driving to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, authorities allege.

That evening, Lathem donated another $1,000 in the victim’s name to the Lake Geneva Public Library, according to CPD Detective Commander Brendan Deenihan, who said he then requested to use the phone and anonymously called his apartment building, alerting security to check a residence on the 10th floor "because a crime may have been committed."

"What I can tell you is it was not domestic in nature like a husband-wife, or boyfriend-boyfriend, or a love triangle; that was not the motive," Deenihan said at a news conference on Sunday, before the suspects appeared in court. "It was a little bit more dark and disturbing, as far as I’m concerned."

Around 8:30 p.m., a doorman and Chicago police officers entered the apartment to discover the body of Cornell-Duranleau, who authorities said had been dead for more than 12 hours.

When the victim’s body was moved, he appeared to have been nearly decapitated, prosecutors said, and he had sustained multiple wounds that would have been mortal in and of themselves.

An autopsy found Cornell-Duranleau died of multiple sharp force injuries, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office, and his death was ruled a homicide. A toxicology report released Friday found that he had methamphetamine in his system at the time of his death.

Warren and Lathem fled, sparking a nine-day, nationwide manhunt, during which officials said Lathem sent a video message to friends and family members, allegedly apologizing for his involvement in the crime.

In the video, prosecutors said Lathem claimed "he is not the person people thought he was," admitting that Cornell-Duranleau trusted him completely and that he had "betrayed that trust."

Both men were taken into custody separately in northern California on Aug. 4. Warren was arrested in San Francisco, while Lathem later surrendered at the federal courthouse in Oakland after communicating with authorities, according to the U.S. Marshals office.

Once in custody, prosecutors said Warren confessed to plotting the murder-suicide fantasy, and admitted that there was a plan to kill another victim the morning after Cornell-Duranleau’s death – though he didn’t know if the person showed up at Lathem’s condo after they fled.

"I can only describe the course of events that lead to Mr. Duranleau’s murder as unquestionably tragic," Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Sunday, the day after Lathem and Warren were extradited to Chicago

Upon arrival, authorities said detectives interrogated the men, who were then formally charged with first-degree murder

Photo Credit: Chicago Police]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Acquire Curtis Granderson From Mets ]]> Sat, 19 Aug 2017 06:11:05 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/191*120/Granderson+traded+to+Dodgers.png

The Dodgers are definitely all-in.

The team with the best record in baseball added another piece to their championship puzzle on Friday when they acquired outfielder Curtis Granderson from the New York Mets for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

Just two years removed from the World Series, Granderson joins a Dodgers team that is looking to attend their first Fall Classic in 29 years.

The 36-year-old Granderson is batting .228 with 19 home runs and 52 RBI in 111 games with the Mets this season, but has been hitting better as of late. 

In his last 71 games, Granderson is batting .276 with 40 runs, 13 doubles, two triples, 16 home runs and 38 RBI.

Over the course of his career with the Tigers, Yankees, and Mets, the three-time All-Star is batting .254 with 312 home runs and 853 RBI.

Granderson can play all three outfield positions, and is expected to spell current center fielder Joc Pederson who has been struggling at the plate the last month.

Additionally, Granderson gives the Dodgers a true leadoff hitter and another veteran presence in the clubhouse. It will be interesting to see how the Dodgers use Granderson moving forward especially with rosters expand in a couple weeks for September call-ups.

The Dodgers could option Pederson down to Triple-A Oklahoma City for the final two weeks of the minor league season and recall him in September.

It's not a certainty that Granderson will play everyday either, especially with the return of Adrian Gonzalez moving rookie Cody Bellinger to the outfield.

The addition of Granderson will provide the already deep Dodgers roster with even more depth moving forward and into the postseason where Granderson as a.920 or higher OPS against right-handers Tanner Roark and Max Scherzer of the Nationals, and a 1.070 OPS against Jake Arrieta of the Cubs.

To make room for Granderson on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers designated right-hander Dylan Floro for assignment Floro was claimed off waivers from the Cubs on August 4, and appeared in three games with Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Below is the video of Granderson's final interview with the Mets. 

Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[After 57 Years, Barber Hangs Up His Shears]]> Fri, 18 Aug 2017 20:29:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/8-18-17-Barber.JPG

Paco Ruiz opened the doors to his barbershop in La Canada-Flintridge for the first time in 1960. He's moved locations once over the years, but that never stopped his loyal clientele from coming in every few weeks for another fresh cut.

Ruiz grew up in Santa Maria. As a child he worked in the strawberry fields with his mom and siblings. In grade school he started selling newspapers. After high school he joined the US Air Force where he started cutting hair for his airmen pals. He charged them 25-cents back then.

But 57 years after he greeted his first customer, Ruiz says he knows it's time to wind it all down.

"I'm not ready, but I have to," he says. "When you get our age, we do miss a few stop signs, thank God there's nobody crossing in front of us!"

The 84-year-old is known for his witty banter. But politics and religion - that's a no-no at Paco's Barbershop - where the candy chest is the same he's used since he opened, and so is the cash register!

Come November, though, Ruiz says he's closing shop. Nov. 18 will be his last day and he says the community is working to celebrate his career at the barbershop on Nov. 19.

"I keep telling my customers, I'm just grateful," he says, but adds that he knows it won't be easy to say goodbye.

"They gave us so much and it's getting to be a real tough situation," Ruiz says as he wipes away a tear.

Ruiz says he's watched kids who come in for a hair cut grow into adults and bring their own kids back in. He says the stories his customers have shared have helped him to grow as a human being.

"The families have raised their kids so beautifully," he says. "It's really an honor to know them."

But as his time in his career winds down, Ruiz says he's not ready to let go of the kindness this community has shown him.

"How do you say goodbye to people that treated you that way? It's rough. Damn rough. God really blessed me here."

Ruiz says he's looking forward to doing some more golfing in his retirement and adds that his best advice for others is to "keep moving." He says he hopes to volunteer a lot more now that he's got more time, too.

<![CDATA[Photos: Best Friends Meet at Clear the Shelters]]> Sat, 19 Aug 2017 17:27:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Web_Squirt_Dog_Adoption_1200x675_1028255811542.jpg NBC4 Southern California and Telemundo52 Los Angeles are teaming up with more than 60 local animal shelters and rescue organizations to help get pets adopted into loving homes.]]> <![CDATA[LA Sparkles at Glitter Run]]> Sun, 20 Aug 2017 14:57:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/glitter+run+thumbnail.jpg The streets of Los Angeles got a little more colorful than usual Sunday as thousands of people took part in the Glitter Run, a 5-kilometer run/walk along Hollywood Boulevard.

Photo Credit: Matthew Halla]]>
<![CDATA[Jerry Lewis: A Complicated King of Comedy]]> Sun, 20 Aug 2017 14:02:36 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/jerrylewiswinefeuerherd.jpg

In his “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”-inspired comedic master work, “The Nutty Professor,” Jerry Lewis gave fans two characters for the price of one: sweet, ineffectual scientist Julius Klemp and his chemically conjured alter ego, the obnoxious lounge singer and ladies’ man, Buddy Love.

But through his eight-decade career, Lewis, who died Sunday at age 91, presented many other sides of his personality as he spurred laughter, tears and even anger on the way to becoming a deceivingly complicated entertainment icon.

There was the manic man-child who propelled Lewis’ zany 1940s and 1950s buddy comedy hits with straight-man crooner Dean Martin (the best of the bunch include “Artists and Models” and “Sailor Beware”). There was the solo, would-be auteur who, with mixed success, attempted to transform himself into the Chaplin of his era (“The Bellboy” and “Cinderfella” rank among the standouts – just ask his many French fans).

There was the selfless, indefatigable humanitarian whose annual Labor Day TV telethons drew awareness  – and celebrities – to the battle against muscular dystrophy, raising about $2.5 billion on behalf of “Jerry’s Kids” over 44 years (Lewis lived up to the pledge he sang at the end of each installment: "You'll Never Walk Alone").

There was the Lewis who also could get serious on the big screen – no more so than in Martin Scorsese’s underrated 1982 gem “King of Comedy,” in which the actor portrayed a top comedian kidnapped by a deranged fan (Robert DeNiro).

Then there was the Lewis, who eventually became the cranky old man of comedy – foolishly declaring, variously, that women couldn’t or shouldn’t be funny.

Unlike Prof. Klemp, Lewis didn’t have to chug a secret formula to summon his multiple personalities – bouncing in latter-day stage and TV talk show appearances from the overgrown, rubber-faced kid yelling “Hey, Lady!” to singing schmaltzy songs designed to make his audience – and himself – shed a tear to occasionally letting his ego and blind spots get the better of him. 

For whatever faults he possessed, Lewis' influence is everywhere – from every buddy-comedy flick made since the 1950s to the careers of Jim Carrey and Eddie Murphy, who most folks probably think of these days when they hear the words “Nutty Professor.”

Still, it’s hard to beat the 1963 original, especially the climax when slick Buddy slowly turns back into the buck-toothed and bespectacled Julius, who delivers a speech by turns corny and devastating:

“I didn’t like being someone else,” Julius declares mid-transformation, his voice part whiny Klemp, part grating Buddy – and all Jerry Lewis. “At the same time, I’m very glad I was. Because I found out something I never knew: You might as well like yourself.

“Just think about all the time you’re going to have to spend with you.”

Fans around the word were lucky enough to spend time with Jerry Lewis in all his incarnations – through the heartfelt to the infuriating to the inspiring to the hilarious – during an at-times nutty, but ultimately unforgettable comedic journey.

Hester is Director of News Products and Projects at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of "Raising a Beatle Baby: How John, Paul, George and Ringo Helped us Come Together as a Family." Follow him on Twitter.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Joel Ryan]]>
<![CDATA[Hit-and-Run Arrest After Deadly Golf Cart Fall]]> Sun, 20 Aug 2017 13:08:17 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/scott+sempson.jpg

A 61-year-old man who was driving a golf cart when his passenger fell off and died of his injuries was arrested after fleeing the scene.

The incident occurred Friday around 10:40 p.m. when the 49-year-old victim, who was standing on the cart as Scott Sempson drove it northbound on Canyon Lake Drive at the intersection of Village Way Drive, fell and hit his head, sustaining "major injuries," the Canyon Lake Police Department said.

Sempson fled the scene before police arrived, but was arrested shortly thereafter and charged with felony hit-and-run, the department said.

It was not immediately clear if drugs or alcohol played a role in the accident.

Photo Credit: Canyon Lake Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Rescued After Plunging 75 Feet Off Cliff]]> Sun, 20 Aug 2017 09:37:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/cliff+rescue6.JPG

A woman plunged about 75 feet down a cliff after the car she was driving went over an embankment near Mount Baldy on Saturday.

Officers received a call around 10 p.m. and arrived to find a Toyota Corolla on top of a dirt berm near Mount Baldy Road and Shinn Road, the California Highway Patrol said. The passenger had called to report that the female driver had fallen down the cliff while trying to get out of the car.

Crews were able to rescue the woman and transport her to the hospital for non-life threatening injuries, the CHP said.

What led up to the crash was still under investigation.

Photo Credit: OnScene.TV]]>
<![CDATA[America Still in Turmoil a Year After Kaepernick's Protest]]> Sun, 20 Aug 2017 09:31:20 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/kaepernickfeuerherd.jpg

What started as a protest against police brutality has mushroomed a year later into a divisive debate over the future of a football player who refused to stand for the national anthem and now faces what his fans see as blackballing for speaking out in a country roiled by racial strife.

Supporters of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick demonstrated outside the Los Angeles Rams' Aug. 12 preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys, part of calls for boycotts of the upcoming NFL season. Film director Spike Lee is promoting a rally on his behalf.

On the opposing end of a wide range of opinions, some fans say Kaepernick shouldn't have sat or kneeled during the national anthem, while others argue the quarterback's lack of a job is more about his talent.

The once-rising star and Super Bowl quarterback has been unemployed since March, when he opted out of his contract and became a free agent who could sign with any team. At least three NFL clubs have openly discussed the idea of signing him, but the embattled quarterback has yet to sign a contract with training camps well underway.

Just weeks away from the regular season, he has become a symbol of the clash of celebrity, sports and social issues as more people —including players, fans, politicians, team owners and pundits — invoke his name to debate thorny issues of patriotism and race. Other prominent NFL players have sat out or demonstrated during anthems this preseason, one saying his decision was bolstered by a recent white supremacists' rally in Virginia that turned deadly.

"There's a lot going on inside people's hearts right now," said Dan Rascher, a sports business professor at the University of San Francisco. "This may have been a catalyst for that even though it's not about Colin Kaepernick, but about our country and who we are."

Other players who joined Kaepernick in protest are still employed. Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins pledged to continue his protests this season, tight end Martellus Bennett signed a free agent contract with the Green Bay Packers and linebacker Brandon Marshall stayed with the Denver Broncos even as he lost two endorsements for kneeling during the anthem.

Still, some fans say they believe Kaepernick has been passed up as punishment for his actions, which initially went unnoticed until the third preseason game last year.

The chorus gets louder every time a quarterback vacancy is filled on an NFL team, such as when the Miami Dolphins brought 34-year-old quarterback Jay Cutler out of a short-lived retirement to lead its franchise. Cutler was out of work — like Kaepernick, Robert Griffin III, and others — and planned to work as a television analyst before the Dolphins reunited him with coach Adam Gase.

"Either some owners and/or the NFL are punishing him for speaking out, or they've decided that it's best for business to sweep these valid issues under the rug in order not to upset fans who, in our opinion, don't have a valid reason to be upset about Colin Kaepernick being on their team," said Tim Clark, who is organizing boycotts of all 32 teams for the NFL's regular season opener.

Color of Change, an online civil rights organization, flooded Baltimore Ravens headquarters with telephone calls when the team didn't quickly sign him as it openly considered options to react to an injury. The Los Angeles chapter of the National Action Network, which demonstrated over the weekend, says it will boycott the Rams and Chargers games at Memorial Coliseum. A change.org petition calling for a season-long boycott of the NFL has collected more than 170,000 signatures.

"We understand the NFL is very important to you. We also understand the purpose of Colin Kaepernick's protest is FAR more important than any games you will ever watch," the petition said.

Elie Mystal, an editor at the "Above the Law" legal commentary website, agreed with the proposed boycotts.

"Kaepernick doesn't have a job because he spoke out about race," Mystal said. "That's the thing you're not allowed to do in our sporting culture and most of our popular culture, unless you're so over-the-top talented that they need you for winning."

Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch sat during the anthem while Rams defensive end Robert Quinn raised his right fist during Saturday's game between the two teams.

Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, Martellus Bennett's brother, sat during the singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" for the second straight week on Friday. He was joined by two teammates standing by him. Bennett said the death of a young woman protesting white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, underscored his decision.

"First of all, I want people to understand I love the military. My father was in the military. I love hot dogs like any other American. I love football like any other American, but I don't love segregation," he said. "I don't love riots. I don't love oppression. I don't love gender slander."

Some fans say Kaepernick has not been signed because he's had an inconsistent career. He played in the 2013 Super Bowl but faded in the seasons leading up to the protests, winning just three games in his last 19 starts.

He had two seasons where he was the starting quarterback for all 16 of his team's games, including the 2014 season that ended with San Francisco missing the playoffs. He suffered from a shoulder injury for half of 2015 and began the 2016 season as a backup, then started 11 games. The 49ers finished in last place for the second season in a row.

"Do these people (complaining) about Kaepernick going unsigned not understand that he sucks, and he's a liability/distraction?" tweeted Joe Patterson, a business management major at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.

Henry Schafer, executive vice president of Q Scores Marketing Evaluations, said Kaepernick's popularity has plummeted.

"He's very polarizing and much more in the consciences of the general population as well as sports fans and, creating, I would think, a pretty big dilemma for the NFL teams as to where he's going to go," Schafer said.

The fallout wasn't all negative: Kaepernick inspired a movement as high school athletes across the country kneeled during the anthem. Kaepernick had the 17th highest jersey sale in May and came in 39th in all merchandise from May through July 31. He's the only player in the top 50 in sales without a job.

Kaepernick, who is white and African-American, took a stand that was unpopular among many whites, which is what boxing great Muhammad Ali did when he refused to be drafted into military during the Vietnam war.

Ali was convicted of draft evasion, which was later overturned, banned from boxing and stripped of his heavyweight title.

It's uncertain how history will treat Kaepernick. But just as Ali was linked to the "black power" movement, Kaepernick has become linked with the Black Lives Matter movement, says Soyica Diggs Colbert, a Georgetown University professor who is writing a book on black movements.

"When we think about how Black Lives Matter as a political movement gets woven into sports," Kaepernick's certainly the key figure in that conversation, she said.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Butch Dill]]>
<![CDATA[Laguna Beach Prepares for 'Alt-Right' Rally, Counter-Protest]]> Sun, 20 Aug 2017 08:28:55 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/to+be+laguna+alt+right+protest.jpg

Police expressed confidence law and order will be maintained in Laguna Beach Sunday evening when an "alt-right" demonstration and counter protest are both planned at the popular Main Beach.

"We will not tolerate any violence or violations," said Police Chief Laura Farinella.

"Stand with Patriots Against Left Wing Bullies," proclaims an online posting for the America First! rally.

The rally was scheduled prior to the chaos and deadly violence that unfolded last weekend at the Unite the Right gathering that attracted white nationalists and other hate groups to Charlottesville, Virginia. With comments by President Trump failing to diffuse tensions, the timing has generated unease a continent away in a left-leaning community known for its art festivals and beaches that draw thousands of summer visitors.

"I'm fearful it will be a conflict," said Steve Craig, a Laguna Beach resident.

"I'm just in shock over what's happened to our country," said Yvette Kaplan, visiting from Pasadena. 

The rally Sunday is the latest in a series organized by so-called alt-right activist Johnny Benitez. The previous events each drew turnouts of fewer than a hundred, and did not attract formal counter protest.

"Every time this has happened has been peaceful," Benitez said. "If this event goes significantly different, it won't be the right-wing element that caused it."

"That's of course what they would say," responded Jessica Riegert, a school teacher who serves on the steering committee of the OC Democratic Socialists, which is planning the counter protest. "We aren't going to allow them to stand up and intimidate us as a community."

Confrontations have erupted in Orange County during a demonstration in favor of Trump Administration policies last March, and last summer during a Trump campaign event in Costa Mesa.

Benitez has become a polarizing figure for the "alt-right" community in Orange County. He blogs extensively on a variety of issues, often targeting undocumented immigrants, and the harm he attributes to them.

"This country is going downhill fast," Benitez says in one video posted on his Facebook page. "America First!"

Asked if, amid the current tensions, he would consider postponing Sunday's demonstration, Benitez said no, adding that his group would include "strong young men."

Police Chief Farinella said the department was preparing for a larger turnout than at the previous demonstrations Benitez has organized.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Car Doing Donuts Crashes Into Crowd in Bellflower]]> Sun, 20 Aug 2017 15:44:56 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/car+club+crash.JPG

A gathering of car aficionados turned terrifying when a car lost control and plowed into a group of bystanders Saturday night.

The car was illegally doing donuts at a K-Mart parking lot near the intersection of Rosecrans Avenue and McNab Avenue in Bellflower when it seemingly lost control and plowed into hundreds of onlookers, sending them scattering, said a spokesperson with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Lakewood station.

Video of the incident shows people hitting the car, but the crowd dispersed when police arrived. While no injuries were reported, those hit by the car may have transported themselves to the hospital, the spokesperson said.

The gathering was organized by The Big Bang Meets car club and originally began in Cerritos before moving to a Long Beach parking lot and then making its way to the K-Mart parking lot in Bellflower, the spokesperson said.

Lakewood sheriffs are now examining video of the inciident to "prosecute those involved." The car in question is described as a white Ford Mustang with a tan soft top roof.

Photo Credit: OC Hawk]]>
<![CDATA[NU Professor, Oxford Staffer Charged With 1st Degree Murder]]> Sun, 20 Aug 2017 12:03:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LathemWarren+Mugs+8-19.jpg

The former Northwestern University professor and Oxford employee accused in the "gruesome" stabbing death of a Chicago man late last month were formally charged with murder on Saturday, according to police.

Wyndham Lathem, 43, and Andrew Warren, 56, were extradited from northern California – where they surrendered on Aug. 4 after an eight-day, nationwide manhunt – to Chicago early Saturday.

Upon arrival, authorities said detectives interrogated the men, who were then formally charged with first-degree murder in connection with the killing of 26-year-old Trenton H. James Cornell-Duranleau.

Cornell-Duranleau, a hairstylist and Michigan native who moved to Chicago about a year ago, was found dead on July 27 inside Lathem’s condo in the city’s River North neighborhood, according to police.

Officials said Cornell-Duranleau was in a romantic relationship with Lathem, an associate professor of microbiology at Northwestern University's medical school. He was terminated by the university, where he had worked since 2007, after a warrant was issued for his arrest.

On the evening of July 27, a doorman at the Grand Plaza Apartments, located at 540 N. State St., received an anonymous phone call telling him to check a residence on the 10th floor “because a crime may have been committed,” CPD Detective Commander Brendan Deenihan said at a news conference Sunday.

Around 8:30 p.m., the doorman and Chicago police officers entered the apartment to discover the body of Cornell-Duranleau, who authorities said had been dead for more than 12 hours.

Cornell-Duranleau was stabbed more than 40 times, so “savagely murdered,” according to police, that the blade of one of the two knives believed to have been used in the attack was broken.

An autopsy found Cornell-Duranleau died of multiple sharp force injuries, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office, and his death was ruled a homicide. A toxicology report released Friday found that he had methamphetamine in his system at the time of his death.

Detectives spoke with witnesses who said they heard “what sounded like a fight and screaming” at around 5 a.m. that morning. Investigators later discovered that Lathem was staying at a hotel close to the apartment building, and was seen with the victim on surveillance video in the area the day before.

They also learned that Lathem picked up Warren, a senior treasury assistant at the University of Oxford who he met through the internet, at O’Hare International Airport several days before the killing, Deenihan said.

Warren and Lathem were seen on surveillance footage leaving the property after the incident, according to police, who said they fled Chicago shortly thereafter.

The men drove to Lake Geneva and donated $1,000 in Cornell-Duranleau’s name to the Lake Geneva Public Library, where Deenihan said Lathem was the one who made the anonymous call to the doorman alerting him of the crime.

Lathem also sent a video message to family members and friends after the killing, according to police, allegedly apologizing for his involvement in the crime.

Warren was arrested in San Francisco on Aug. 4, while Lathem surrendered at the federal courthouse in Oakland later that day after communicating with authorities, according to the U.S. Marshals office.

Police revealed a select few pieces of information Sunday, as the suspects were to appear in court in the afternoon, at which point the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office planned to address the charges and allegations against them in greater detail.

“What I can tell you is it was not domestic in nature like a husband, wife, or boyfriend, boyfriend, or a love triangle; that was not the motive,” Deenihan said. “It was a little bit more dark and disturbing, as far as I’m concerned.”

Lathem and Warren were scheduled to appear in bond court at 1 p.m.

Photo Credit: Chicago Police]]>
<![CDATA[First DC Corpse Flower Begins to Bloom; 2 More Ready]]> Sun, 20 Aug 2017 06:31:45 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/RBotanicalGarden.jpg

The first of three corpse flowers in Washington, D.C., started blooming late Saturday night, and two more of the stinky blossoms are still waiting to go.

Three corpse flowers, also called "the stinky plant," were predicted to reach peak bloom between Aug. 17 and 22 at the U.S. Botanical Garden. The plant's signature stench has been described as a combination of garlic, fish, diapers and rotting meat. Their scientific name is amorphophallus titanum.

"Not really something you'd want around dinner time," USBG plant curator Bill McLaughlin told NBC4 during another peak bloom in 2013.

The plant, native to tropical rainforests in Indonesia, doesn't follow a set schedule. They can take anywhere from years to decades to store enough energy to bloom. Once they're fully open, they’ll collapse between 24 and 48 hours later.

The flowers were first discovered in 1878. They hold the record for the world's largest unbranched inflorescence -- flower structure -- growing up to 12 feet tall. Each has one giant bud, made up of hundreds of tiny, stinky flowers. Their scent attracts carrion beetles and flies.

A corpse flower last bloomed in D.C. in 2016. Thirty-two corpse flowers bloomed around the world last year in the U.S., India, Australia and more, BBC reported.

You can watch the plants bloom in real time on the USBG's livestream here.

Photo Credit: United States Botanical Garden
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<![CDATA[Monuments Fight Heats Up in Capital of the Confederacy]]> Sun, 20 Aug 2017 04:56:16 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-112906040.jpg

As a wave of U.S. cities have moved to topple their Confederate statues in the wake of violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Richmond — which was once the capital of the Confederacy — could become the next flashpoint in the debate over what to do with its monuments.

In the heart of Richmond, five statues depicting Confederate figures line a two-mile stretch of Monument Avenue, NBC News reported. The monuments are of Robert E. Lee, J.E.B. Stuart, Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis and Matthew Fontaine Maury. 

On Wednesday, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney pointedly reversed course and announced that he felt the Confederate statues should be removed. The marked change came days after the deadly protest in Charlottesville, where a woman was killed and 19 others were injured after a driver slammed his car into counter-protesters as white nationalists rallied against the planned removal of a Confederate monument.

"I wish they had never been built," Stoney said in a statement, later adding, "These monuments should be part of our dark past and not of our bright future."

Photo Credit: Chuck Myers/MCT/Getty Images, file]]>
<![CDATA[Firefighters Douse Blaze Off Mullholland Drive]]> Sat, 19 Aug 2017 22:59:50 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/8-19-17-Fire.JPG

Firefighters battled a small blaze Saturday night on a hillside.

The fire was reported in the 8400 block of West Mulholland Drive in Studio City.

The fire was held in check at 1 acre.

<![CDATA[Fire in Yosemite National Park Forces Wawona Evacuation]]> Sat, 19 Aug 2017 22:31:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-178312467.jpg

Authorities have issued an evacuation order for the small town of Wawona as a week-old fire in Yosemite National Park grows and air quality in the area reaches a hazardous level.

The U.S. Forest Service says the fire grew to 2,903 acres, or 4 square miles, overnight due to winds from thunderstorms. Local authorities ordered those in Wawona to evacuate by 4 p.m. Saturday as air quality is expected to worsen.

The town, which has a population of 1,000 to 2,000 at any given time, is about 1 mile from the fire. The evacuation order includes the historic Big Trees Lodge, formerly known as the Wawona Hotel.

The fire has closed campgrounds and trails in the park since it began last Sunday. It's 10 percent contained.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Goff Outplays Carr, Rams Top Raiders 24-21]]> Sun, 20 Aug 2017 01:18:01 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Rams-vs-LA-Raiders-8-19-17.jpg

In Oakland, Jared Goff outplayed Derek Carr, as the Los Angles Rams' second-year quarterback played nearly a full half of football on Saturday night at the Oakland Coliseum.

Goff, who grew up in the Bay Area and attended the University of California at Berkeley, completed 16 of 20 passing attempts and recorded a touchdown to lead the Rams to a 17-14 lead before exiting the game. Carr did not exactly stink up the joint, though, as the two-time Pro-Bowl passer completed seven of his nine passes, including two touchdowns. However, Carr made one inadvisable throw that resulted in an interception, so Goff's passer rating was 116.7 to Carr's 113.0.

If Goff can out-duel or even play even with quarterbacks like Carr during the 2017 regular season, the Rams could well end up dramatically improving on their 4-12 record in 2016. Suffice to say, Goff looked confident, made good throws and truly only had one glaring error where he waited too long to release a long ball to an open receiver, and Khalil Mack broke a double team to record a big sack instead. Mack getting a sack is not exactly breaking news at this point, but at least the second year quarterback still managed to take care of the footbal on the error.

Saturday also turned out to be a day for debuts with the Raiders featuring Marshawn Lynch in silver and black for the first time and the Rams showing off new offensive weapon Sammy Watkins. Both players had minimal impact on the game, as Lynch only rushed the ball twice for 10 yards and Watkins only managed two receptions for eight yards, though Watkins probably should have caught a perfectly thrown long pass over the top by Goff. The Raiders' defensive back having a sneaky lock on Watkins' arm helped explain why the 2014 Orange Bowl MVP didn't come out on top on the play.

On the topic of receivers, Rams rookie Cooper Kupp continued to impress by scoring the Rams' first points for the second straight game. Along with having a terrificly fun name to repeat (Say "Cooper Kupp" out loud three times), Kupp displayed undeniable chemistry with Goff. Playing with the first string, Kupp left the game after making six receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown, as the third round pick out of Eastern Washington continued to show off his sticky hands.

While the developing chemistry between Goff and Kupp deserved its due attention, the most important positive signal for the upcoming Rams' season came via an impressive running performance from Todd Gurley II--finally.

On Saturday, Gurley suddenly looked like a Pro-Bowl running back again, after the 2015 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year struggled mightily during his sophomore season in 2016. The 23-year-old Baltimore native only played two drives but carried the ball eight times for 38 yards and a touchdown. Gurley averaged 4.8 yards per carry and helped the Rams' offensive balance on both drives. Gurley's tough running allowed for Goff to find Kupp wide open on a ball in the end zone.

That 4.8 yards per carry average for Gurley matched his regular season average during his standout rookie season with the Rams. In 2016, Gurley's numbers dropped to 3.2 yards per carry, so Saturday's performance had to be an encouraging sign that Gurley could be ready to rebound from his sophomore slump in a big way.

"Today, I wanted to focus really on just being patient," Gurley said in a team interview after he was done for the day. "Sometimes, I feel like I'm running a little too fast and miss things, so I was just trying to be patient."

For the Rams, backup quarterback Sean Mannion came out for the last drive of the first half and took over running the offense for the duration of the second half. The Raiders went to E.J. Manuel under center for a quarter and then put in Connor Cook to finish out the game.

Cook outplayed Manuel on the day, highlighted by an 11-play, 65-yard drive that concluded with a 17-yard touchdown pass to Johnny Holton. With the score, the Raiders took a 21-17 lead with only 6:30 remaining in the game.

Mannion and the Rams responded with a 13-play, 80-yard drive that concluded with a 20-yard touchdown reception by Josh Reynolds. With only 1:11 to play in the ball game,  the Rams got another stop, and that turned out to be the game winning drive.

The Rams claimed a 24-21 victory to go 2-0 for the 2017 NFL preseason.

Though Mannion did not look at his best on the night, the Rams' backup quarterback recorded 133 yards in the air, with 15 completions on 22 attempts and one (game-winning) touchdown.

Next, the Rams return home to host the new city rivals, the LA Chargers. The Rams and Chargers play at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Aug. 26 with a 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time kick-off.

Notes: Two-time All-Pro LA Rams defensive-end Aaron Donald continues to be a hold out due to contract reasons and did not feature on Saturday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Granderson Scores as Dodgers Shutout Tigers ]]> Sat, 19 Aug 2017 16:29:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/225*120/Granderson+scores+in+Dodgers+Debut.png

Happy Veterans Day!

Not quite, but a handful of veteran players provided most of the offense on Saturday as the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Detroit Tigers, 3-0, for their sixth win in a row. 

Curtis Granderson made his Dodger debut and scored the first turn of the game in the seventh inning.

Granderson was acquired by the Dodgers late Friday night, and has had a whirlwind few hours as he was told after last night's game in New York around 12:00AM EST that he had been traded to Los Angeles.

The 36-year-old veteran outfielder told reporters before the game on Saturday that he didn't get home and to sleep until around 3:00AM EST, and was on a flight headed to Detroit at 6:00AM EST.

When he arrived at the stadium, Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts told him he was starting in left field and batting fifth. 

Granderson made the most of his first game in Dodger blue, reaching base on an error by third baseman Nick Castellanos with two outs in the seventh before scoring on an RBI single by Adrian Gonzalez.

Fittingly, Gonzalez knocked in the game's first run in just his second day back to the team after missing the last two months on the disabled list with two herniated discs in his back.

Gonzalez is now just two hits shy of becoming just the seventh Dodger in Los Angeles franchise history to record 2,000 hits in their career.

It was a good old fashioned pitcher's duel for most of the game as Hyun-Jin Ryu and Michael Fulmer took turns tossing scoreless innings.

Ryu left the game first, and did not factor in the decision, surrendering just three hits with four walks and four strikeouts in five shutout innings.

Fulmer (10-11) was the hard-luck loser, allowing just one unearned run (thanks to the error by Castellanos), on three hits with two walks and six strikeouts in seven innings.

Justin Turner tacked on an insurance run in the top of the eighth with an RBI single that scored Chase Utley as the veterans did all the heavy lifting on Saturday.

Yasmani Grandal hit is 16th home run of the season when he took Tigers' closer Shane Greene deep in the top of the ninth inning.

Ross Stripling (3-4) earned the win, pitching two innings of scoreless relief, striking out four Tigers.

Brandon Morrow struck out the side in the eighth, reaching 100 MPH on the radar gun multiple times before paving the way for closer Kenley Jansen.

Jansen earned his 32nd save of the season and has recorded at least 30 saves in four consecutive seasons, the only closer in baseball to accomplish that feat.

Cody Bellinger was injured in the outfield in the sixth inning while catching a ball at the wall. He left the game in the top half of the seventh and was diagnosed with a right ankle sprain. He was listed by the team as day-to-day, but it is unlikely he starts on Sunday.

"It's swollen, but not too serious," Bellinger said of the ankle injury. "I thought I was closer to the wall, so I kinda jumped and hit a soft spot of dirt and rolled it a little bit. I just tried to walk it off and finish that inning. I came out for precautionary reasons."

The victory gave the Dodgers their 13th consecutive win against an American League team this season, tied with the Marlins for the longest streak in MLB history.

L.A. can set a new MLB record on Sunday against Justin Verlander in their last Interleague game of the 2017 season.

The shutout guarantees the Dodgers will win their 18th series since losing two-of-three to the Washington Nationals in June. The Dodgers are unbeaten in their last 21 series, going 18-0-3 over that span. Every other team in baseball has lost at least six series over the same span. 

The Dodgers are 26-5 since the All-Star Break, the best start to the second half in MLB history according to Elias Sports Bureau.

Up Next:

The Dodgers play their final Interleague game of the 2017 schedule on Sunday when they face former Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander. Kenta Maeda heads to the mound for the Dodgers with first pitch scheduled for 10:10AM PST.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Lon Horwedel]]>
<![CDATA[Thousands of Dogs Find 'Fur-Ever' Homes in SoCal]]> Sat, 19 Aug 2017 19:36:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/8-19-17-Squirt.JPG

It was love at first sight for Elizabeth Vroom. She saw the little black chihuahua at the shelter on Friday, and returned Saturday and adopted him.

"I have a new best son," she said, while cradling the doggy in her car at a shelter in Orange County participating in the "Clear the Shelters" event on Saturday. "He's my boy."

Thousands of pets found new homes at the third annual Clear the Shelters nationwide pet adoption drive which kicked off at 10 a.m.

Gloria Baca cried with her new cat at a shelter in Pasadena. She adopted the gray feline on Friday.

Her previous cat died two months ago.

"I treat it like a kid," she said through tears. "Animals are so beautiful."

The Jimenez and Eveler families went to a Riverside County shelter to adopt. They were in a raffle for a dog

But someone else got it, then backed out so they got the dog they wanted after all.

"I cried because I got him and I wanted him!" said Genieve Jimenez.

They are naming him Bolt.

Louise Moores, 24, walked into a shelter into a shelter in Long Beach and said, "I'm looking for a big furry cat."

She got the cat, Mufasa, a 24-pounder, and posed for a photo with the fluffy feline.

Joanna Lemus and her son Brandon Lopez, 7, adopted an 8-month old puppy at the Los Angeles City East Valley Animal Shelter. They named the small, curly-haired dog Peluche, which means stuffed animal in Spanish. 

Marshall, an 11-year-old Beagle mix, will settle into his new home in Carson. The family with two young children adopted the older dog at the Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA because they felt that age is just a number. 

At the same shelter, Tux, who stole our hearts after his Friday morning appearance on "Today in LA," also found a forever home.

The large black dog first captured our attention when NBC Los Angeles reporter Jonathan Gonzalez asked him for a sound byte early Friday morning. Tux responded with a bite of his own, and snagged the wind screen off Gonzalez's microphone.

On Saturday, Tux was recognized as "the dog that bit the microphone" and cheered after he walked out of the Pasadena Humane Society sporting a red bandana on a leash held by his new owner.

<![CDATA[NJ Teen Recalls Moments of Terror After Barcelona Attack]]> Sat, 19 Aug 2017 20:34:55 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Valeria-Syanchuk.jpg

Valeria Syanchuk should have been celebrating her 18th birthday on Thursday, but instead the Bergen County, New Jersey, resident took cover in a cafe with her mother and grandmother moments after a driver plowed into one of Spain’s most popular destinations.

What should have been a joyous celebration turned into hours of horror and uncertainty, she said. This was her first visit to Barcelona, and terrorism was not on her mind.

"I was panicking," she said. "People kept looking at us like something was wrong, and we had no idea what they were saying."

Witnesses described hordes of people running and screaming in the moments after the attack. One tourist from Argentina saw a 3-year-old boy die on the street. A brown stain is all that remains two days later.

Syanchuk and her family landed in Barcelona around 11 a.m. By that evening, the three women were tired from wandering the Gothic Quarter’s serpentine streets. Her grandmother asked if they could stop and rest somewhere. As they entered a cafe, the employees scrambled to shut the gates.

"Do they know what happened?" asked one employee to another, Syanchuk said.

The cafe workers explained they had received an alert from the Spanish government to remain inside because a terrorist attack was underway. Terrified, the employees wanted to get home and advised Syanchuk’s family to return to their hotel.

The women hurried through the maze-like streets, but police had the area on lockdown. The cafe was already closed and their hotel entrance was blocked. Instead, the women were forced to wait in the street as armed guards descended onto the area.

"We got lucky because my mother wanted to sit down," Alena Ansolis, Syanchuk’s mother, said. "We were heading back to the hotel. It happened right outside there."

Hours passed and the only information available was that the driver remained on the loose.

"I kept searching news and kept refreshing every couple of minutes," Syanchuk said. "You have no idea who these people are, if they’re standing right next to you."

When the immediate threat passed, Syanchuk and her family asked police to escort them back to the hotel. Since then, the three have stayed close together but decided to continue their journey through Europe. Syanchuk will be meeting relatives for the first time in Germany, and she doesn’t want to miss the opportunity to experience something positive after the events of this week.

"Walking down the street is so emotional," she said, adding that the increased police presence and outpouring of sympathy makes her family feel safer.

"I saw a man driving a garbage truck and he got out to put a rose on a memorial. Everyone has come together. It doesn’t matter who."

The streets of Las Ramblas are brimming with memorials dedicated to the 13 people who died and the more than 100 who were injured in Thursday’s attack. Tourists and residents continue to offer signs, flowers, candles and other mementos for the fallen.

An American from California was among those who died in Thursday's attack. Jared Tucker, 42, and Heidi Nunes-Tucker, 40, were celebrating a belated honeymoon with sangria when Tucker stopped for a bathroom break. A mere minute passed before chaos erupted in the streets, Nunes-Tucker told NBC

The dozen other fatalities included tourists from Canada, Belgium and Italy. A three-year-old Spanish boy also died. 

On Saturday, two days after the attack, dozens of taxis paraded into Las Ramblas bringing with them giant wreaths to place at a large memorial where the rampage first started. Some wept while they addressed a sea of onlookers.

"I am Muslim and these people don’t represent us," said one driver. "Criminals have attacked us, but true Muslims stand here with you today and always will."

After presenting the wreaths, these taxis paraded down Las Ramblas honking their horns and waving. Spectators clapped and sang, including Syanchuk, whose balcony faces one of the memorials.

"There are so many more people than when we first arrived," Syanchuk said. "People have been chanting and marching. I’ve never seen anything like it."

Photo Credit: Valeria Syanchuk
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<![CDATA[After Biting NBC4 Microphone, Tux the Dog Finds Forever Home]]> Sat, 19 Aug 2017 14:44:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/222*120/8-19-17-Tux-Heads-Home.jpg

Tux the dog, who stole our hearts after his Friday morning appearance on "Today in LA," has found a forever home.

The large black dog first captured our attention when NBC Los Angeles reporter Jonathan Gonzalez asked him for a sound byte early Friday morning. Tux responded with a bite of his own, and snagged the wind screen off Gonzalez's microphone. 

On Saturday, Tux was recognized as "the dog that bit the microphone" and cheered after he walked out of the Pasadena Humane Society sporting a red bandana on a leash held by his new owner.

"I saw him on the website, and I thought, I loved how he looked because he's black and his chest is super cute," his new owner said. "And then I saw him on the Instagram of the Pasadena Humane Society, and then I saw how he bit off the microphone, I thought it was the cutest thing ever."

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She said she thinks she'll keep his name, but will have to think about it.

"I'm happy that I'm taking him home," she said.

Tux is one of more than 50,000 pets adopted from more than 900 shelters across the nation in the NBC- and Telemundo-owned television stations' third-annual Clear the Shelters drive, which wraps up Saturday.

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Photo Credit: KNBC-TV
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<![CDATA[Bay Area Police Consider New Crowd Protection Strategies]]> Thu, 17 Aug 2017 23:01:38 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/8-5-17_Fremont_Festival_Barriers.jpg

For the second time in less than a week someone has driven into a crowd and turned a vehicle into a deadly weapon. It is prompting local law enforcement agencies to consider new strategies to help protect large groups of people.

In central Barcelona on Thursday, a van veered onto a promenade and barreled down a busy walkway, swerving back and forth as it mowed down pedestrians and turned a picturesque tourist destination into a bloody killing zone. Thirteen people were killed and 100 were injured, 15 of them seriously, in what authorities called a terrorist attack.

The incident follows chaos that erupted at white nationalist rally over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia. A 32-year-old woman was mowed down by a car as she protested the rally. Two Virginia state troopers also died in the crash of their helicopter, which was monitoring the rally.

In the Bay Area, there has been recent efforts to harden some so-called soft targets. Newly installed pollards at AT&T Park in San Francisco are just one example.

In Fremont, the police department purchased and is now using mobile car barriers. The barriers were used in the city's recent Festival of Arts.

And during the Warriors parade in Oakland, buses and other large vehicles were used to block intersections for security.

"Law enforcement and the intelligence community  needs as much and as many tools as they can get to stop this," Retired FBI Agent Rick Smith said.

Smith said police agencies here and abroad are having to be creative about how they prepare for large events and big crowds at popular places.

But the vehicle attack in Charlottesville has introduced a whole new dimension to crowd safety. How do police protect protesters, who are often moving from street to street?

That is something Smith says people in those groups need to plan for.

"Just be aware, this is a possibility," Smith said. "That's a pretty sad commentary of where we are today in this country. But you better be thinking about where you're going and what you're doing."

There are two alt-right protests planned for next weekend -- one in Berkeley and the other in San Francisco.

Berkeley police have yet to return calls on how they are preparing. A San Francisco police spokesperson says the department does not discuss operational plans.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>