<![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, 28 Mar 2015 05:21:38 -0700 Sat, 28 Mar 2015 05:21:38 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Actress Apologizes to Police After Profiling Claim]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 21:28:36 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/197*120/03-27-15_Racial-Profiling-Henson.JPG

After Glendale, California, police released a dashcam video that appeared to contradict claims by "Empire" star Taraji Henson that her son was racially profiled during a traffic stop, the actress apologized to the department on her Instagram account.

The dashcam video released by the Glendale Police Department seemed to contradict statements from Henson that her son was racially profiled by police during the Oct. 18 stop. She also said her son had been profiled by police at USC.

"I would like to publicly apologize to the officer and the Glendale Police Department," said the statement on Henson's Instagram. "A mother's job is not easy and neither is a police officer's. Sometimes as humans we overreact without gathering all of the facts. As a mother in this case I overreacted and for that I apologize. Thank you to that officer for being kind to my son. Love, Taraji P. Henson."

Henson's publicist called the department and confirmed that they post came from her, according to Glendale police.

Henson, an Emmy and Academy-award nominated actress, said in an interview with Uptown magazine released this week that her son was racially profiled by police in two different incidents, one in Glendale and one at USC.

The 40-minute video shows Henson’s son, Marcell Johnson, driving through a lit and flashing crosswalk with a woman walking in it. The officer pulls Johnson over and explains why he was stopped.

During the initial interaction, Johnson is asked if he has ever been arrested and if there is anything illegal in the car. Johnson discloses that there is marijuana in his backpack, and tells the officer that he has a medical marijuana prescription.

"I appreciate you being honest with me about the weed. I do appreciate that because I do smell weed," the officer said.

Later during the stop, Johnson also tells the office that he has Ritalin pills that he obtained from a friend in the car. Those are never found during a search of the car.

In the end, the officer issues Johnson a citation for the marijuana, and advises him that he can go to court with his proof of prescription and will then likely only have to pay a fine.

He tells Johnson that the marijuana citation is better than a ticket for illegally running through the crosswalk because it won’t have a lasting effect on his driving record.

"I am not going to give you a citation for running that yellow because that would actually put a moving violation on your driving license, and you are going to have to go to traffic school and all that stuff, so I am helping you by not giving you a violation on it. All I am going to do is take the weed from you," he said.

Johnson was also asked to take a field sobriety test because he admitted he had smoked marijuana two hours before the traffic stop. He passed the sobriety test.

Henson told Uptown magazine that her son was slated to attend USC but that he would now be attending Howard University in Washington, D.C. because she was concerned about the profiling.

The chief of USC's Department of Public Safety said in a statement Tuesday he was racially profiled as a teenager and was “deeply disturbed” to learn that Henson's son felt profiled because of his race.

"As someone who personally experienced racial profiling as a teenager, I have a stake in learning more about this incident and doing all I can to reach a just resolution," he said.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Glendale Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Boston Police Officer, Suspect Shot]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 05:17:04 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/BPD+Shooting+032715.jpg

A Boston Police officer is in critical condition after a shootout that followed a traffic stop in the city's Roxbury neighborhood Friday evening, police said.

The suspect was killed in the shooting on Humboldt Avenue after police returned fire. Police say two other suspects are in custody "on unrelated matters."

Officer John T. Moynihan, a 34-year-old who has been with the department since 2008, was transported to Boston Medical Center.

"One of the occupants of the pulled over motor vehicle came out, he turned, he fired, he shot one of our officers under the right eye," Boston Police Commissioner William Evans told reporters Friday.

The commissioner said Moynihan is a decorated military veteran and active in the department's Youth Violence Task Force.

MBTA officer Dic Donohue, who was injured in the manhunt after Boston Marathon bombings, confirms to necn that Moynihan helped rescue him back in 2013.

"The doctors are working hard on him," said Evans, who added that Moynihan is fighting for his life. "All our prayers are going out for him. I just ask for everyone's support in helping him pull through.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the officer injured tonight, his family and friends and the entire Boston Police Department during this difficult time," said Mayor Marty Walsh in a statement. "These acts of violence have no place in our neighborhoods. Our community is stronger than ever, and tonight, we are thankful for all of those who put their lives on the line every day to protect our city."

A woman who was apparently caught in the crossfire suffered a flesh wound.

"She's fine," said Evans, who went to visit her. "She's in good spirits, thank God."

Evans added that three officers were taken to Brigham and Women's Hospital for stress.

Anyone with information is asked to call 1 (800) 494-TIPS.

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

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA["Hero" Driver, Students Escape Burning Bus]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 02:32:04 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/03-27-2015-rsm-bus-fire.gif

A school bus driver helped about 35 students safely exit a burning bus Friday morning in front of an Orange County, California, school after flames spread from its engine area.

Two students were treated by firefighter-paramedics at the scene, but they did not suffer serious injuries, according to the Orange County Fire Authority.

The full size school bus' engine bay caught fire in front of Rancho Santa Margarita Intermediate School at about 8:15 a.m. Firefighters, who initially thought it might be a wildfire due to the amount of smoke, extinguished the fire about 15 minutes later.

The 20-year-old driver Lisa Sherrill, who declined an interview, did "an excellent job" of getting all the students off the bus safely, according to the OCFA.

And she was praised by her boss at the First Student Bus Company, which contracts with the school district. 
"Of course she's shaken up, (but) she's very happy things turned out as well as they did." manager Melvin Florence added.

A thick column of black smoke could be seen from around the school campus and in the surrounding neighborhood. Explosions were heard as the bus tires burst due to the heat and fire.

Daniel Grantham had just dropped his son off at the school when he looked in his rearview mirror and saw the smoke.

"I saw (smoke) coming from the direction of the school and that was my first worry," Grantham said. "I flipped around and pulled up right in front of the school where the bus was. It was burning when I got there.

"I've got to give kudos to the bus driver. The bus driver is the real hero."

Sherrill noticed smoke coming out of the engine area as she pulled up in front of the school, said Steve Concialdi, of the Orange County Fire Authority. She calmly helped the children, ages 12 to 14, off the bus before using a fire extinguisher to fight the fire.

"These are her kids -- she takes them to school every day," said Concialdi

The front of the bus sustained significant damage. A location manager for the bus company told NBC4 the buses are inspected every 45 days, but did not have information regarding information specific to the bus that burned.

"Our students were safely evacuated to the PE school area when the school bus fire was reported," Principal Rick Jameson said in a statement. "This is our normal evacuation procedure. We take school safety when it comes to the safety of students as well as staff. Three kids had some emotional suffering, mostly just panicking and hyperventilating, but nobody was injured. Those three students were released to their parents. We will continue with regular school schedule for today."

Photo Credit: Daniel Grantham]]>
<![CDATA[Long Beach Issues First Water-Waster Fine]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 15:21:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP223500730484.jpg

A business that continually violated four landscape irrigation violations earned the Long Beach Water Department's first water fine this week, the utility said Friday.

The business was charged $800 for the violations, identified through smart meter technology. It comes as California enters its fourth year of drought and the state plans to tighten water restrictions.

“California needs to take greater measures to ensure water conservation and that means moving into the enforcement stage of water restrictions,” said Harry Saltzgaver, president of the Board of Water Commissioners, in a statement.

Last week, California's water control board expanded water-use restrictions, requiring restaurants stop serving patrons water unless they ask for it and barring certain kinds of outdoor water uses. All but two percent of California was experiencing at least a moderate drought this week, affecting 37 million people, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Long Beach water didn't name the business that was cited. The city's water restrictions can be found here: www.lbwater.org/water-use-prohibitions

Photo Credit: Rich Pedroncelli/AP]]>
<![CDATA[PHOTOS: Piano Sits Atop SoCal Mountain]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 07:44:25 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/piano-hike-topanga-santa-monica.gif A working piano was discovered atop a two-mile hike in the Santa Monica Mountains

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV, Joel Cooke]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Shot at Bowling Alley, Crashes On Way to Hospital]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 05:00:10 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/siren3.jpg

A woman was shot at a bowling alley in Torrance early Saturday.

The victim was hit in the parking lot of Gable House Bowl on the 22000 block of Hawthorne Boulevard at around 12:45 a.m, a Torrance Police Department spokesman said.

The victim was put in car by a friend who tried to take her to the hospital, but it crashed within a half mile of the lot at the intersection of West Carson Street and Hawthorne Boulevard.

The woman was receiving emergency surgery for her gunshot wound.

Four people of interest were detained for questioning after being seen leaving the parking lot, however  no arrests have been made, police said.

It is unknown if the shooting was gang related , if the victim knew the suspects knew each other or what may have led up to the shooting.

<![CDATA[Pedestrian Killed in Crash on 10 Freeway]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 04:21:38 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/194*120/3-28-2015-FWFatal.jpg

A pedestrian was killed after being hit by a car on the 10 Freeway near downtown Los Angeles early Saturday.

Only one lane remained open after the person was struck by a Toyota at on the eastbound side at Vermont Avenue at around 2:25 a.m, a California Highway Patrol spokesman said.

The driver remained on the scene after the crash, while the victim died at the scene.

It is unknown what the pedestrian was doing on road or how they got there. It is unclear when the road will fully reopen.

Photo Credit: LoudLabs]]>
<![CDATA[Man Shot Dead at House Party in South LA]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 04:03:57 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/202*120/3-28-2015-PartyShooting.JPG

A man was shot dead at house party in South Los Angeles early Saturday.

The shooting happened at a house near the intersection of 52nd Street and Denker Avenue at around 12:30 a.m, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman said.

The victim died at the scene, and a  large group of people were interviewed at the scene by investigators.

It is unknown what led up to the shooting and the investigation is on-going

There is no suspect description at this time, and it is not yet known if the crime was gang related.

Photo Credit: LoudLabs]]>
<![CDATA[Rapper Allegedly Beat Up, Robbed T-Shirt Touts in OC]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 03:42:57 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/184*120/3-28-2015-RapperArrest.JPG

A rapper was arrested after allegedly beating up some T-shirt touts and robbing them outside an Orange County concert venue.

Harlem hip-hop favorite Immortal Technique was taken into custody after his sell-out show at The Observatory in Santa Ana Thursday night.

The 37-year-old, real name Felipe Coronel and his 40-year-old promoter Stephen McDaniel, were arrested after being identified as among a group of up to 12 men who allegedly took T-shirts, cash and cell phones from the touts.

"(When) officers got there and located the two victims who were just outside the Observatory property selling shirts that had the likeness of the rap artist on it," Cpl. Anthony Bertagna, of Santa Ana Police Department said.

Coronel and McDaniel were both arrested after the show was over.

"It was a sold out concert. Obviously the Officers didn't want to go in there, shut the concert down and then have additional issues," Cpl. Bertagna said.

Immortal Technique boasts a million social media followers and official T-shirts on his website sell for $20 each.

He was allegedly unhappy that he was not receiving any of the profits being made from the allegedly fake merchandize. 

After posting $50,000 bail he went back on tour. The case is now being handled by prosecutors.

Music fans at The Observatory had mixed feelings about the arrest.

"Celebrities do make a lot of money compared to the common person. I'm pretty sure the people selling this stuff come from a low income background," Jasmine Guillen said.

"Oh. I love Immortal Technique. He should get a profit then," Taylor Smith said.

<![CDATA[Teen Girl Violently Attacked by Skateboarders]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 02:20:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/220*120/3-27-15-Skateboard.JPG

Police sought up to 10 people in a brutal assault in which they used skateboards to attack a teen girl in a crime caught on cellphone video.

In the video the girl is attacked, hit in the head with a skateboard and then another person kicks her.

Armani Smith, an avid skateboarder, did not witness the attack but people who did were too scared to talk on camera.

"It's really upsetting. It's shocking," Smith said.

Police say it all started at the popular Venice skatepark.

By 9 p.m. Thursday, five victims -- three males and two females -- tried to run away from a group of people at the skatepark but they couldn't escape and were attacked in the street less than 100 yards from the park.

Police say some of the victims suffered serious injuries including cuts, bruises and a broken jaw.

Lt. Aaron Ponce from the LAPD's Pacific Division says detectives are reviewing video posted on social media to identify and track down the suspects. One  person is heard shouting at the victims, "Go back home."

Police are not classifying it as a gang crime, but say it may have been an argument about people not from the area hanging out at the skatepark.

Police plan to beef up patrols in the area this weekend.

<![CDATA[Vigils Held for Slain Calif. Cop]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 04:39:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/0327-2015-SJPD-vigil.jpg

The man who authorities said killed a San Jose police officer suffered from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, depression and alcoholism, according to his niece, Amber Golart.

Scott Dunham died from a gunshot wound suffered from a shootout with police late Tuesday that left veteran Officer Michael Johnson dead.

Golart attended a memorial for Johnson held late Friday on Senter Road. More than 100 people showed up to the vigil held near the scene of the fatal shooting.

"We are sorry for the loss of the officer. This is a tragic accident," Golart said. "No one meant for this to take place. But as a family, we feel like we're caught in the middle. We're mourning for the officer, but we're mourning for our uncle."

Golart added the last few days have been also hard for the Dunham family, especially knowing it was a loved one who took an officer's life. Dunham's family is calling Tuesday's incident suicide by cop.

Another memorial for Johnson was held Friday night in the courtyard at San Jose City Hall and was hosted by Star of David Ministries and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association.

“We have suffered a very devastating loss to our community, and we need to show officer Johnson’s family and the SJPD that we support them, “ said Kathleen Flynn, president of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association.

A formal memorial service for Johnson will be held April 2 at 11 a.m. at the SAP Center at San Jose

In addition, Owen Nolan, a former San Jose Shark who is a part owner of the Brittania Arms, is hosting a fundraiser April 2 at the restaurant, located at 5027 Almaden Expressway.

Also, the San Jose Police Officers’ Association is helping raise fund to provide financial assistance to his family.

The 38-year-old Johnson was killed on Tuesday when he arrived at an apartment building after a caller told 911 that Dunham was drunk and despondent and was threatening to harm his wife. When Johnson arrived, Dunham killed him from his balcony with a high-powered rifle.

Dunham's body was found Wednesday morning on the balcony. He had died of a gunshot wound, police said.

Checks can be mailed payable to the SJPOACF at: 1151 N. 4th St., San Jose, CA 95112 or online.

Lisa Fernandez contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Vigils, Fundraisers For Slain Officer]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 21:56:02 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/johnson17.jpg

Two vigils and two fundraisers are already in the works in memory of slain San Jose police Officer Michael Johnson, who was shot Tuesday night while responding to a suicidal man, who ended up killing him with a rifle.

In additional, the officer's formal memorial service will be held April 2 at 11 a.m. at the SAP Center at San Jose.

Before that, several events are also taking place:

The first memorial is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Friday in the 2600 block of Senter Road in San Jose, where Johnson was gunned down.

The second  is set for 8 p.m. on Friday in the courtyard at San Jose City Hall. Star of David Ministries and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association are hosting the memorial.

“We have suffered a very devastating loss to our community, and we need to show officer Johnson’s family and the SJPD that we support them, “ said Kathleen Flynn, president of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association.

In addition, Owen Nolan, a former San Jose Shark who is a part owner of the Brittania Arms, is hosting a April 2 at the restaurant, located at 5027 Almaden Expressway.

Also, the San Jose Police Officers’ Association is helping raise fund to provide financial assistance to his family.

In addition, CreaTV in San Jose is opening its studio from noon to 2 p.m. on Friday so that the community can share their thoughts on what Johnson's death means to them. The messages will be cablecast live on Silicon Valley Channel 30.

The 38-year-old Johnson was killed on Tuesday when he arrived at an apartment building after a caller told 911 that Scott Dunham was drunk and despondant and was threatening to harm his wife. When Johnson arrived, Dunham killed him from his balcony with a high-powered rifle.

Dunham's body was found Wednesday morning on the balcony. He had died of a gunshot wound, police said. But it's unclear whether the bullet was self-inflicted or whether he died during the police shootout.

Checks can be mailed payable to the SJPOACF at: 1151 N. 4th St., San Jose, CA 95112 or online.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Off-Duty Firefighter in Explosion ]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 18:29:55 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/mike+shepherd+east+village+fdny+hero.jpg

Off-duty FDNY firefighter Mike Shepherd didn't need to be in uniform to be a hero in the aftermath of the fiery East Village building explosion Thursday that leveled three buildings, injured about two dozen people and left two people missing. 

The Squad 41 firefighter is the man seen in widely viewed videos of the scene climbing up a fire escape to check for any possibly trapped residents inside 121 Second Ave. after the blast Thursday afternoon.

"I heard a loud explosion and I look down the block and I just started running toward the corner," he told reporters at an FDNY briefing Friday.

He helped to direct a woman down from the second-floor apartment on the fire escape.

Then "I just climbed it, started searching my way up from the second floor. Opened the window and looked in and the floor was collapsed," said Shepherd. He continued up to the third floor.

He didn't come down until he'd gotten all the way up to the top floor, and the danger to himself became all too real.

"I could feel the heat and the smoke, and I said, 'I gotta get outta here now,'" he said. "And I looked and I could see 9-truck coming and 33-engine, so I said, 'Worst case scenario, they'll have to put the bucket up and grab me."

Witness Troy Hinson recorded Shepherd climbing up the fire escape and told NBC News the crowd below was terrified as they watched. 

"You're kind of in awe at what this guy's doing but you're also kind of holding your breath and you're like, I don't want to see this guy die in front of me, but that was definitely going through my mind," he said. 

"Some people just react a certain way, and he just instinctively reacted to climb up there, and that guy is truly the hero," said Hinson. 

Shepherd said he thought of his family, his wife, son daughters and granddaughter -- but the third-generation firefighter knew he couldn't walk away without helping.

"Maybe it's just in your blood," he said. "But being a New Yorker, you're always willing to go out and help somebody, you know."

<![CDATA[Music Video Crew Behind Mystery Piano]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:03:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/03-27-2015-piano-santa-monica-1.gif

The hills were alive with the sound of music this week after hikers in search of sweeping views of Southern California were surprised to find a piano on a lookout in the Santa Monica Mountains.

The piano was discovered on top of Topanga Lookout, near Stunt Road in the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area.

Several photos posted to Instagram indicated the piano was hauled up Tuesday  to the ridgeline for a music video shoot involving Seatlle-based artist Rachel Wong. Wong was a finalist in Ford's 2012 "Gimme the Gig II" contest, according to her biography.

The photos showed the five-person crew using a rope to pull the piano up a narrow trail, part of a two-mile round trip hike with about 160 feet of elevation gain. They used a moving dolly on some parts of the rugged trail, a job that took about 45 minutes, said videographer Michael Froton.

Aerial video Thursday afternoon showed hikers playing the piano on the graffiti-covered concrete foundation of an old fire tower and taking pictures of the instrument with a dramatic natural backdrop.

"It shows how different we are," said hiker Nick Herron. "Where else do you hear about a piano on top of a ridge?"

A representative from the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy told NBC4 Thursday they were not aware of the piano. The agency said the land likely belongs to a water district.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Verdict in Silicon Valley Lawsuit]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 23:27:08 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/2015-03-27_14-03-11.jpg

A jury decided Friday that a prestigious venture capital firm did not discriminate or retaliate against a female employee in a case that debated gender imbalance and working conditions for women in Silicon Valley.

The jury in San Francisco reached the verdict after three days of deliberations in a lawsuit filed by Ellen Pao against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

The lawsuit claimed Pao was fired when she complained about discrimination at the firm.

Pao waved quickly to the jury as she left the courtroom after the verdict was announced.

"I have told my story and thousands of people have heard it. If I helped to level the playing field for women and minorities in venture capital, then the battle was worth it,'' she said, adding that she will return to her career, family and friends.

The verdict came after a judge ordered the panel to resume deliberations when a discrepancy was found in the initial vote count.

Jurors heard conflicting portraits of Pao during closing arguments. Her attorneys said she was an accomplished junior partner who was passed over for a promotion and fired because the firm used different standards to judge men and women.

Kleiner Perkins' attorney, Lynne Hermle, countered that Pao failed as an investor at the company and sued to get a big payout as she was being shown the door.

"It never occurred to me for a second that a careful and attentive jury like this would find either discrimination or retaliation and I'm glad to have been proven right about that,'' Hermle said.

Juror Steve Sammut said jurors thought Pao was driven and ambitious.

"We felt that she was someone who probably wouldn't take no for an answer and was pushing for her agenda,'' Sammut said.

In making their case during the five-week trial, Pao's attorneys said she was excluded from an all-male dinner at the home of Vice President Al Gore; received a book of erotic poetry from a partner; was asked to take notes like a secretary at a meeting; and subjected to talk about pornography aboard a private plane.

Juror Marshalette Ramsey, 41, said she believed Kleiner Perkins had discriminated and retaliated against Pao.

"We're all tasked to a certain standard of conduct, and in a case like this it brings to the forefront that something innocent isn't really innocent'' in the workplace, said Ramsey, a manager for the Bay Area Rapid Transit system. "I think Ellen Pao, if nothing else, opens all of our eyes to that.''

A study introduced as evidence during the trial showed that women are grossly underrepresented as partners in the venture capital sector. Industry consultants say the case has already sparked some technology and venture companies to re-examine their cultures and practices for potential gender bias.

During her testimony, Pao told jurors that her lawsuit was intended in part to create equal opportunities for women in the venture capital sector.

Hermle, however, accused Pao of having less altrusitic motives.

"The complaints of Ellen Pao were made for only one purpose: a huge payout for team Ellen,'' Hermle said in her closing argument.

Kleiner Perkins officials also said Pao was a chronic complainer who twisted facts and circumstances in her lawsuit and had a history of conflicts with colleagues that contributed to the decision to let her go.

The case included salacious testimony about Pao's affair with a male colleague that was intended to bolster her allegations of gender bias. Pao said the colleague pursued her relentlessly before the affair began, and that she broke it off when she learned he had lied about his wife leaving him.

Pao told jurors the colleague later retaliated by shutting her out of key emails and meetings, and Kleiner Perkins did nothing to stop him when she complained.

Testimony showed the colleague was later found to have harassed another female employee.

Hermle, however, showed the jury emails and text messages that seemed to contradict Pao's claims that the colleague hounded her into a relationship. In one email from 2006, after the affair began, Pao wrote that she was always looking out for the colleague _ "never stopped, never will.''

Jurors were asked to determine whether Kleiner Perkins discriminated against Pao because she is a woman; failed to take reasonable steps to prevent that discrimination; and retaliated against her after she complained about gender bias by failing to promote her and then firing her.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Massive Gator Spotted Again]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 15:10:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/gatoreatingturtle.jpg

The giant alligator spotted at an Englewood, Florida, golf course is back -- and this time, he's hungry.

The Myakka Pines Golf Course posted a new photo to Facebook Thursday of their famous resident -- a giant alligator affectionately known as "Goliath."

This time, Goliath is chowing down on a giant turtle.

"Sorta nasty to see, but it's the reality of wild animals," the club says on their Facebook page.

Mickie Zada, manager of the club, estimates that Goliath is at least 12 to 13 feet long.

The reptile earned his name after the club polled fans on Facebook on what they should name him.

The other choices were "Viral" and "Myakka Mike."

Photo Credit: Myakka Pines Golf Club ]]>
<![CDATA[Driver Surrenders After Police Pursuit]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 23:44:50 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/237*120/we+support+our+local+police+dept.jpg

The driver of a vehicle with a message on its rear window that read "We Support Our Local Police Dept" drove the wrong way in traffic and slammed into shopping carts in a parking lot before surrendering to authorities in Anaheim.

Police pursued the stolen car on Orange County freeways and city streets Friday afternoon near Disneyland, officials said. The pursuit began in Buena Park, said the California Highway Patrol.

The Toyota Corolla was rammed by a police car in a shopping center's parking lot, but evaded immediate capture. The vehicle slammed through shopping carts before exiting back onto the street.

After racing through red traffic lights and making a U-turn around a street median, the driver and passengers surrendered in the middle of a street just after 1 p.m.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Students Suffer Minor Injuries in Fireworks Explosion]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 21:20:04 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Ethan+Chase+Middle+School.jpeg

Five people were hospitalized after a student lit fireworks in a trash can Friday at a Riverside County middle school.

Thirteen other people suffered minor injuries in the explosion at Ethan Chase Middle School in Menifee, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.

"There was just such a huge explosion and everyone was, like, freaking out," said student Victoria Morales.

Morales said the blast happened while students were eating lunch in the quad area.

"It was, like, green," she said. "Like, there was smoke."

Startled by the loud boom, some students started running to try and get to safety.

"The first thing we thought it was a gunshot and we were very scared so we ran to the blacktop and just standing there waiting for teachers," said student Joshua Zabala.

Students who were close to the explosion complained about their hearing.

"They were complaining about ringing in their ears, some of them had severe headaches," said student David Gonzalez.

Within seconds of the blast, teachers got all students to safe locations and went into lockdown mood. The sheriff's hazardous device team arrived and made sure there was no other danger, since it wasn't immediately known that it was a firework.

"We have one student identified as detonating the firework," said Trevor Painton, assistant superintendent for the school district.

School administrators say the boy also had other fireworks that had not been detonated. They were confiscated and now that student is in serious trouble.

Photo Credit: marshmallow54_ on Instagram]]>
<![CDATA[Mother Dies, Child Remains Hospitalized After Fire]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 13:52:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/190*120/3-26-2015-LBFire.JPG

A mother hospitalized after a Long Beach apartment fire Thursday morning has died, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner's office.

Monica Del Rio, 47, and her 4-year-old daughter were hospitalized Thursday after the fire in the 1000 block of Stanley Avenue. Del Rio died Thursday afternoon and the girl remained hospitalized Friday in critical condition.

Two dogs also were found dead at the scene.

The fire broke out in the three-story complex just after 12 a.m., and was confined a single apartment on the top level. 

Firefighters found the mother and daughter inside a bedroom. Two other people who live in the apartment were not inside, fire officials said.

A neighbor rushed to the apartment when he saw flames from the balcony to the living room, he said.

Details regarding a cause were not available Friday morning.

Photo Credit: Southern Counties News]]>
<![CDATA[Autistic Boy Forced to Remove His Letter Jacket]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 10:40:25 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/LetterJacket.jpg A mother is outraged after her son's school forces him to remove a varsity letter jacket because special-needs athletes aren't allowed to wear the letters.]]> <![CDATA[Iconic Sea Otter Dies From Shark Bite]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 16:42:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/olive+sea+otter.jpg

A sea otter that was being tracked by researchers for more than six years was killed by a shark in Monterey, California, on Sunday.

Biologists found a large, jagged tooth from a white shark in the open wounds of the otter’s body, according to a news release from the California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). Shark bites are currently the leading cause of death of sea otters and have increased in the last five years.

The sea otter was first discovered by the CDFW back in 2009 after she was found on a beach in Monterey covered in oil, which would give her the name, “Olive the Oiled Otter.”

She was rehabilitated through the CDFW, the Marine Mammal Center, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and UC Santa Cruz Long Marine Lab. Olive spent her recovery in a pool of warm, softened fresh water. This method was being tested by researchers and helped bringing Olive’s coat and weight back to normal. Olive’s recovery became a point of interest to the public and gained her a Facebook page with more than 5,000 likes.

Because of Olive, researchers were able to develop the new washing method for sea otters. After her initial rescue in Feb. 2009, she was released into the wild in April with a very high frequency transmitter and colored flipper tags to keep track of her.

Scientists successfully captured her for a health evaluation in July 2012 in which she appeared very healthy -- and pregnant. Olive gave birth to three otter pups, which was a great contribution to the endangered sea otter population.

“She showed us that oiled sea otters can go on to live normal healthy lives, have healthy pups, be good mothers and then die of natural causes,” said David Jessup, a CDFW retired veterinarian who oversaw Olive’s recovery, in a news release.

Although shark bites are the leading cause of death in sea otters, CDFW wants people to remember that land and sea pollution is also a contributing factor. Fatalities in sea otters can be lowered if people take care of the habitats they live in.

Before her death, Olive was most recently seen on Feb. 15. Nearly 400 likes, shares and comments on Olive’s Facebook page expressed condolences for the sea otter’s lost life.

Photo Credit: "Olive" the Oiled Otter Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[ 3 Charged With Murder, Kidnap of Baby]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 14:59:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/eliza-de-la-cruz-bebe-asesinada-long-beach.jpg

Prosecutors filed charges Friday against three people accused of the January kidnapping and murder of a baby girl from Long Beach and the attempted murder of her mother, father and uncle.

Just three weeks old, Eliza De La Cruz was taken from her home by assailants who shot the three adults, none fatally, on Jan. 3, police have said. The infant's body was later found in a trash bin near the U.S.-Mexico border.

Giseleangelique Rene D'Milian, 47, of Thousands Oaks, was arrested with two alleged accomplices in connection with shooting and kidnapping, Long Beach police said Wednesday.

Originally scheduled to enter their pleas Friday, the group's arraignment was postponed until April 30. Attorneys for the defendendants didn't answer interview questions.

D'Milian is accused of orchestrating the attack in order to acquire two babies because she had told her boyfriend she was pregnant with twins, according to a statement from the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Prosecutors also suspect the three attempted on Feb. 6 to kill a woman and kidnap her four-month-old boy in an El Segundo motel, according to the statement.

Prosecutors planend to a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to set her bail at $5 million at a 1:30 p.m. hearing, the same amount they sought for the bail of Oceanside resident Anthony Ray McCall, 29.

They will ask for Todd Damon Boudreaux, 44, to be held on $1 million bail, according to the statement.

All three face life in prison if they are convicted on the charges filed Friday, the statement said.

Prosecutors did not indicate if charges would be filed against D'Milian's daughter, Charisse Shelton, who was also arrested on suspicion of allegedly assisting in the scheme after the fact.

NBC4's Kim Baldonado contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Swimmers Warned of Dangerous Surf as Heat Wave Grips SoCal]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 06:14:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/208*120/3-27-2015-BeachWarning.JPG

People hoping to take advantage of the heat wave gripping Southern California have been warned to take extra care at the beaches due to due to dangerous currents. 

Huge numbers are expected to flock to the coastline over the weekend as temperatures soar due to a high pressure system. But it is important to also be cautious, as there is a risk of dangerous rip currents and high waves.

"If you’re not an experienced swimmer stay out of the water,"  NBC4 meteorologist Crystal Egger said.

A beach hazard statement will be in effect in Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties from late tonight through Sunday afternoon.

"The warm March weather means great beach days for Spring Breakers, but there’s a warning along the coast," Egger said, "A long period South swell is bringing rough surf and sneaker waves to our local beaches.  Biggest waves are expected along South facing beaches through Sunday."

While the surf is dangerous, forecasters have said a stronger sea breeze is likely to develop Friday afternoon, making it slightly cooler than expected along the coast. Warmer weather is possible in the Antelope Valley.

Long Beach will reach into the high 80s Friday, and could break the record of 86, according to the National Weather Service.

More cooling is anticipated on Saturday as the system moves east, but temperatures ``still will be well above normal,'' the weather service said.

 The NWS urges SoCal residents planning to perform strenuous outdoor activities to wear light-colored, light-weight clothing and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of non-alcoholic fluids.

City News Service contributed to this report

<![CDATA[CEO Stabbed Wife, Killed Self]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 21:12:41 -0700 Credit: Courier-Post Online ]]> Credit: Courier-Post Online ]]> http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/John+Joyce+Sheridan+1200+x+675.jpg

A high-profile South Jersey hospital CEO stabbed his wife to death and then set fire to their bedroom in a bizarre murder-suicide, according to a report released Friday by investigators in Somerset County, New Jersey, nearly six months after their deaths.

The determination brought no closure to the couple's family, though, who called prosecutors' investigative work flawed and vowed to sue.

Firefighters found Cooper University Health System CEO John Sheridan Jr, 72, and his wife, Joyce, 69, in the burning master bedroom of their Montgomery Township, New Jersey home on Sept. 28, 2014.

The revered top executive stabbed his wife multiple times in the face and once in the chest, perforating her aorta, which ultimately caused her death, according to the investigation results released on Friday.

He then turned a knife on himself, doused the room with gasoline and set it ablaze, trapping them inside, police said.

"Somebody's tapping on the window," said a neighbor in a chilling call to 911 that morning. "Somebody's trying to get out." That person very well have been Sheridan's wife of 47 years.

Initially, it was reported that Joyce Sheridan was alive when she was found by firefighters inside the couple's bedroom, but following the six monthlong investigation, it was determined that the retired schoolteacher was dead before her husband set fire to the room.

The coroner ruled John Sheridan died of "sharp force injuries" to the neck and torso and smoke inhalation. His body was found underneath a heavy, burning wooden armoire which fell on him, breaking five of his ribs, according to investigators. A large carving knife, covered in Joyce's blood, and serrated bread knife were found near the bodies.

Investigators conducted 180 interviews during their probe. Some colleagues of John Sheridan said he seemed "withdrawn," "very upset" and "out of character" because of work-related issues in the days leading up to the deaths.

The Sheridans' sudden and violent deaths shocked colleagues, family and friends who regarded the couple as liked and seemingly happy.

Sheridan joined Cooper in 2005 and is credited with helping transform the health care system, including adding a cancer center and medical school. Mrs. Sheridan was a teacher at South Brunswick High School who had a passion for helping students in need. They were friends of governors and other politicians.

"The death of our parents has left a hole in our hearts and family that can never be filled," the family said in a statement following the discovery.

But Friday, the couple's four sons — Mark, Matt, Dan and Tim Sheridan — angrily blasted prosecutors' ruling calling it an "embarrassing bungling" of a murder investigation.

“From the outset we have said that no one wants answers about our parents’ deaths more than we do. The conclusion announced today fails to provide those answers," they said in a statement.

The men questioned several aspects of the investigation including how their father wound up under the heavy furniture after stabbing himself, why there was no motive for the suicide and why investigators failed to find the knife used to carry out the self-inflicted wounds.

Prosecutors admitted they could not locate the weapon, but did test a melted piece of metal on the bedroom floor. They couldn't, however, say if it was a knife that that melted in the fire.

The children went on to say county prosecutor Geoffrey Soriano told them he had "no idea what happened in that room." They also question the ruling out of foul play by an intruder.

"This conclusion seeks to convict our father based on little more than rank speculation," the men said. "We will be filing a lawsuit challenging the conclusion announced by investigators."

"We will not allow our father to be convicted based on guesswork resulting from an inadequate and incomplete investigation simply because he is not here to defend himself," they went on to say.

In a statement, Soriano called the family's loss unfathomable, but defended the ruling saying, "we stand confidently behind the results of this investigation which was completed in a very methodical and comprehensive fashion by a number enforcement agencies, including our State Medical Examiner's Office."

Photo Credit: Courier-Post Online]]>
<![CDATA[$250K Ferrari Totaled in Hollywood Street Race]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:02:02 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/3-27-2015-FerrariCrash.JPG

A $250,000 Ferrari was wrecked after crashing into the side of an apartment building during an alleged Hollywood street race with a Porsche.

The driver smashed his Ferrari 458 Italia into the side of the complex at the intersection of Van Ness Avenue and Franklin Averue at around 10:45 p.m. Thursday, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman said. 

The Porsche then stopped nearby, then the driver got out and got into an argument with the other man before speeding off.

The crash is being investigated as a hit-and-run. The Ferrari driver suffered minor injuries, and hurt his wrist. The building sustained minimal damage.

According to witnesses, the two men seemed to know each other, police said.

Photo Credit: LoudLabs]]>
<![CDATA[Adorable Zoo Babies: Andean Bear Cubs]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 06:33:02 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ZooBabyBear2.jpg See all the newest arrivals at zoos around the world. Baby lions, tigers and bears step into the spotlight.

Photo Credit: Connor Mallon/Smithsonian's National Zoo]]>
<![CDATA[Sea Lion Found in Mountain View]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 00:03:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/187*120/sealion15.JPG

An unexpected sight in Mountain View — a sea lion pup nicknamed "Glicker" was found stranded on a popular trail Wednesday, Mountain View police said.

Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority's Officer Morris rescued the pup from the Stevens Creek Trail with help from the Marine Mammal Center. Officials say sometimes marine mammals make their way deep into the San Francisco Bay, and then into creeks. A few years ago a porpoise was rescued from the San Tomas Aquino Creek in Santa Clara.

Hundreds of sick and starving sea lion pups are washing up on California beaches, and scientists say they don’t know when it will end. New numbers released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last week show that an unprecedented 1,800 California sea lions have been admitted to rehab facilities across the state this year.

If you want to see how Glicker is recovering, visit the Marine Mammal Center.

Photo Credit: Mountain View PD]]>
<![CDATA[Man Crashes Into Woman After Grocery Store Confrontation]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 09:10:59 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/tlmd_police_tape_lights_generic1.jpg

A grocery store confrontation Thursday evening ended when a man hit a woman with his car in the parking lot and took off, San Diego Police said.

The victim was at a store near College and University avenues at about 4 p.m. Thursday.

She told NBC 7 she and a friend were shopping and accidentally left a cell phone behind inside a grocery store hand-basket. A man picked up the basket and allegedly tried to keep the cell phone, she said.

The victim and her friend confronted the man in the store, got the phone back and left.

As the women got into their car, they noticed the man in the parking lot. He happened to be parked right next to the women and they got into a verbal confrontation once again.

The victim said that's when the man started hitting her with his fists. In an effort to flee the parking lot, he then got into his car and struck her.

Police said the woman was forced up onto the hood of the car upon impact. The suspect drove away and has not yet been arrested.

Police are investigating the incident as a hit-and-run.

The victim told NBC 7 she suffered contusions to her head as well as leg injuries, but will recover. She said the suspect was driving a green car and had tattoos on his chest.

The San Diego Police Department has not yet released a full description of the suspect or his vehicle.

<![CDATA[Vehicle Crashes Into Building, Severs Gas Line]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 09:09:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/stock-breaking-news-graphic-generic.jpg

A vehicle crashed into a South Los Angeles building, severing a gas line Friday morning, officials said.

People were being evacuated form the immediate area, in the 3200 block of West Jefferson Boulevard, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Passersby reported the smell of gas after the vehicle crashed into the building. The crash was reported shortly before 6 a.m., police said.

<![CDATA[3.6-Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Inland Empire]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 08:55:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*161/twentynine+palms+earthquake+did+you+feel+it.JPG

A magnitude-3.6 earthquake reportedly shook an area near Twentynine Palms in San Bernardino County Friday morning.

The USGS reported the shake, whose magnitude could be revised, at 8:36 a.m. Its epicenter was 14 miles south of Twentynine Palms and 17 miles northeast of Indio, and occurred at a dept of 2 kilometers.

A 4.1-magnitude quake hit Central California earlier Friday.

Photo Credit: USGS]]>
<![CDATA["Hospitality Ambassador" Beats Homeless Man: Video]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 08:13:27 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/0326-2015-Ambassador.jpg

A hospitality ambassador for the city of Berkeley was fired and his partner suspended after a video unearthed last week shows the employee - whose job it is to "create a more welcoming downtown" - beating a homeless man on the street.

Berkeley police had arrested the two homeless men, but ended up discovering the YouTube video this week , showing two ambassadors - identified in court documents as Jeffrey Bailey and Carmen Francois - on March 20 dressed in neon yellow caps and shirts telling two homeless people, Nathan Swor, 23, and James Cockereese, 29,  to move along and out of an alley behind the CVS on the corner of Shattuck Avenue and Bancroft Way.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that each homeless man pleaded no contest to a single count of misdemeanor battery. Both men were sentenced to probation, prosecutors said. The Alameda County District Attorney's Office is now reviewing the video and it's unclear what effect, if any, that will have on the homeless mens' legal fate.

The scene was captured by Bryan Hamilton, who filmed the event from a balcony above the street, posted the video on Sunday, according to Berkeleyside, which first reported the story.

As the pair of hospitality ambassadors approaches the pair of homeless men on the sidewalk, Cocklereese is seen yelling expletives at the ambassador, such as "Back the f--- up." Cocklereese then tells Bailey to get off his property - meaning the sidewalk.

That's when Bailey is seen grabing Cocklereese with his left arm, holding him to the ground, as he strikes him with his right hand 10 times as his female partner watches. Swor then picks up what looks like a pole and waves it at Bailey, who aggressively follows him down the alley. They shout at each other but no more punches are thrown.

"Clearly unacceptable and egregious behavior -- can't be tolerated," said Downtown Berkeley Association CEO John Caner, who fired Bailey and put his partner on suspension.

The ambassadors did tell their supervisors about the confrontation, but said it was self defense.

The nonprofit Downtown Berkeley Association said the Hospitality Ambassador program helps keep the streets clean, give tourists directions and respond to property owner calls about people trespassing on private property. The program was started in April 2012 and currently has 20 ambassadors, according to Block by Block, a program paid for by property owners.

After Berkeley police arrested the two homeless men on charges of assault with a deadly weapon and making threats against the ambassadors, they found the video on YouTube on Wednesday, and took it to the District Attorney for review. Neither homeless man is in custody, Berkeleyside reported.

The video has prompted authorities to increase training at the Ambassador Program. It will also review procedures for background checks.

NBC Bay Area's Lisa Fernandez contributed to this report.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Father of Ex-LAPD Officer Helped Son Escape: FBI]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 02:52:09 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/03-26-15_Solis-Mexico-Arrest.jpg

The father of ex-LAPD officer Henry Solis was arrested Thursday for allegedly helping his son evade authorities when he was wanted for the murder of a California man.

Victor Solis, 53, allegedly told investigators that he drove his son to El Paso and dropped him off at a bus station the day after the murder, but no longer knows where his son is.

But surveillance images released Thursday by the FBI show Victor and Henry Solis crossing the border into Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico from El Paso, Texas on March 14, the day after the murder.

"He is a former military member, so we are worried he may have survival skills," FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimller said, "He is very good with a weapon so we are very worried about what can happen next."

Victor Solis at some point returned to the U.S. Eimller said he has admitted to driving his son to El Paso.

Henry Solis, 27, is accused of murder in the fatal shooting of 23-year-old Salome Rodriguez Jr. in Pomona earlier this month after a fight. Solis allegedly chased Rodriguez after the altercation and shot him several times, killing him.

A $25,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of Solis, a former Marine and rookie LAPD officer. Solis had been with the LAPD since June 2014 and was terminated from the department after the murder charges were filed.

He should be considered armed and dangerous and a suicide risk, according to the FBI.

The elder Solis was arrested in Lancaster and appeared in federal court Thursday afternoon, where he waived his right to proceedings in Los Angeles. He is being transferred to El Paso.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Federal Bureau of Investigations]]>
<![CDATA[Magnitude-4.1 Earthquake Shakes Central CA]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 06:57:59 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/226*120/03-27-2015-coalinga-fresno-earthquake.JPG

A magnitude-4.1 earthquake was reported Friday morning in Fresno County.

The earthquake occurred at 6:30 a.m. about six miles north of the Central Valley community of Coalinga, 70 miles south of Fresno. Weak shaking was reported in Coalinga, Huron, Lemoore, Visalia and Santa Rosa.

There were no immediate reports of damage.

The quake was initially reported with a magnitude of 4.2, but later revised to 4.1.

The map below displays the largest earthquakes in California since 1900.

App Users: Click here to view map

Photo Credit: USGS]]>
<![CDATA["Missing" Art Student Reveals Why She Hid]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 16:43:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/200*120/3-16-15-sahray+barber+photo.JPG

A San Bernardino woman who went missing for 10 days earlier this month broke her silence Thursday, issuing a lengthy written statement.

In the statement, Sahray Barber, 22, described the days when she was missing, including her stay at two different hospitals in Los Angeles. She said in the statement that she was depressed and had decided to walk away from her life.

Police scoured the area for Barber, believing that she had been the victim of foul play. Some of her belongings were found in bushes near her apartment and she disappeared around the same time as a rash of attacks against women at the nearby Cal State San Bernardino campus.

Thursday morning, San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said he believed the department would seek to file charges for false statements that led them to believe the Art Institute of California student was the victim of a violent crime.

He estimated the overtime cost at least $24,000 and that on-duty officers, helicopter and other search-and-rescue costs meant the department spent much more. He didn't have an exact estimate.

While police searched for Barber, she had checked herself into a Los Angeles hospital, where she didn't give her correct name, Burguan said. Barber saw herself on TV but didn't reveal she was the woman being sought.

It was only after she was discharged to a shelter, where workers questioned Barber about her identity, that her family and police were alerted to her presence, according to Burguan.

Barber issued her statement on the condition that it be printed in full. The complete and unedited version is below:

I need to start by thanking everyone.

To my family and friends, the entire San Bernardino Police Department, any and all the government officials and organizations, and everyone that prayed and assisted in finding me. Thank you. Thank you so much for all the love and support, and all the time, effort and resources you put into brining me home. Most of all I need to thank God. I felt God’s protection and guidance the whole way, and I know I wouldn’t have made it unharmed through all I did without it. I ask for every ones forgiveness, most especially my wonderful family for all the worry and long nights I caused you, and all the amazing men, women, dogs and horses that searched for me through so many nights and days.

I was honestly shocked when I learned from S.B.P.D. personnel and my family all that had been done to locate me. I expected to be another missing person’s case and, having not planned to return, I’d chosen not to look back or pay any mind to any searches or investigations related to my disappearance. I never could have imagined any of this, just like I had no clue what the impact of my leaving would have on so many lives.

I have always striven to do my best in school. In High School, like a lot of people, I felt the all expectations and pressures that came with achieving and maintaining a high GPA. I graduated High School with Honors. Since I started my Associates in Graphic Design, I’ve had my share of easy and tough classes, and good and bad quarters, some of which I felt I barely made it through. I’d received some scary low grades in one quarter but I felt good going into my final quarter.
Really good actually, I felt I had a great recipe for a successful conclusion to my first leg of college.

Unfortunately, I tried to keep myself standing tall as I was hit by the various stresses, pressures, class deadlines, and life challenges I was inexperienced in such as: losing my vehicle in a traffic accident and having to rely on friends and family for transportation, my computer equipment and software needed to complete my assignments becoming inoperable and having a hard time keeping up with my class work as a result, and through all of this the ever looming portfolio show and end of my job.

By not reaching out to family or even school officials, I created a recipe for disaster. I was supposed to be graduating, but instead of having my perfect quarter, things fell apart. I was scared and it felt like the whole world was pressing down on me. Things got so bad that I didn’t know what to say or HOW to ask for help. I had dug a hole so deep, that I felt entirely hopeless. That Monday morning (March 9, 2015) when I reached the gate, I felt I needed to lighten my load. I didn’t intend on ever coming back or being found so I dropped my stuff over the wall and walked away with just a bit of cash. Eventually public transportation and God’s guidance took me to Los Angeles.

During the 10 days I was gone, God brought me in contact with many people in Los Angeles. I could feel his guidance and protection through them. Some of them were like angels, helping me stay alive, or teaching me the things God had brought me there to learn. To everyone I met in L.A. who helped me in even the smallest way whether you know it or not, I would like to thank you all very much as well.

The majority of my time in L.A. was spent in two different hospitals under a fictitious name. On the day I was released from the second hospital, I was blessed by making the acquaintance of another angel. She had no idea who I was, she just realized I wasn’t where I belonged and wanted to help me. She convinced me to open up to her and then to let her call my dad. She was like God’s messenger telling me my journey was complete and it was time to return home.

In closing, I know what I did was incredibly dumb and that I am only here by the grace of God. But I am not at all ashamed of what I did. I know that I did what I had to do, and went where I needed to be. Now I know I am back where I belong and I have a new appreciation for myself and for all of the amazing people that I have in my life. I have and am getting the help and support I need as I now work on getting my life back on track.

God Bless with Sincere Love and Many Thanks,

-Sahray Barber

Photo Credit: Stephen Barber]]>
<![CDATA[19 Hurt in NYC Building Explosion]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 14:06:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/east+village+fire+explosion.jpg

UPDATE: Improper Access to Gas Line Eyed as Cause of East Village Explosion

Investigators are looking into whether construction workers inside a sushi restaurant in the East Village may have accidentally hit a gas line, causing an explosion that injured 25 people and left two people missing, sparked a massive fire and caused three buildings to collapse, law enforcement sources tell NBC 4 New York.

The explosion inside 121 Second Ave., between East 7th Street and St. Marks Place, caused the buildings at 121, 123 and 119 to collapse after they became engulfed in flames, according to city officials. No. 125 was still burning early Friday morning.

The explosion injured 25 people, including four firefighters and one EMS worker. Two people are still unaccounted for, fire and police officials say.

The approximately 250 firefighters on the scene have managed to contain the 7-alarm fire to those four buildings, and are expected to stay "for a very long night," said Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro. 

"The initial impact appears to have been caused by plumbing and gas work that was occurring inside 121 Second Avenue," said Mayor de Blasio at a news conference Thursday evening.

Officials say four of the civilians were critically injured, and seven others had minor to non-life threatening injuries. Three others were evaluated on the scene and didn't need medical attention. 

The most critical patients have respiratory burn, according to officials, which is different from smoke inhalation and is caused by the inhalation of hot gas or burning particles that result in tissue damage to the respiratory system. 

Family members said Friday they were searching for 23-year-old Nicholas Figueroa, who was on a lunch date at the sushi restaurant during the blast and has not been heard from since. Concerned relatives or friends that believe someone else may be missing are urged to call 311.

There were no calls to either 911 or Con Ed reporting any type of gas leak or concerns before the explosion, de Blasio said.

However, shortly before the blast, Con Ed inspectors were at the site to evaluate work the building plumbers was doing in connection with a gas service upgrade, according to Con Ed President John McAvoy.

Con Ed said the restaurant was swapping a single gas meter for multiple gas meters as part of a renovation, but the work failed the inspection, partly because there was insufficient spacing for a new gas meter in the basement. The inspectors gave instructions on what changes were needed, then left. 

About an hour later, a worker who opened a door to a closed area of the kitchen smelled gas and tried to start an evacuation, according to a source close to the investigation. That's when the explosion occurred.

Huge flames were shooting out of the front of the buildings at the height of the blaze, and thick plumes of white smoke could be seen billowing from the structures in the tightly packed, business-heavy neighborhood.

The flames and smoke could be seen from at least 20 blocks north, and the smell of smoke was detected as far north as midtown, including at the NBC offices at Rockefeller Center.

People were seen laying on the ground in front of the restaurant, apparently unconscious, immediately following the explosion, multiple witnesses told NBC 4 New York.

A neighbor who lives on Second Avenue and East 7th Street told NBC 4 New York he was home when he heard a loud explosion that "shook everything."

"When I went outside, I saw people running and broken glass everywhere," said the neighbor, David Hollands. 

Others described hearing something like a bomb or a car crashing through a store. 

Hollands said the storefront at 121 Second Ave. was entirely blown out, with glass strewn over 200 feet. He said within two minutes, at least 20 fire trucks rushed to the scene.

Hollands' building and others nearby were evacuated, and firefighters continued to push back residents further away as the collapse danger zone expanded. 

Another witness, Lorne Colon, said he saw the "entire building explode" and that there were "definitely people inside the restaurant." 

"Within minutes, there were hundreds of people on the street," said Colon. 

A resident at 124 Second Ave. across the street, Larry Gregory, said he saw several people laying on the sidewalk in front the restaurant after the "loudest explosion I've ever heard in my life" and that others "were running around in a panic." 

Several people rushed to the buildings to help trapped or distressed residents, multiple witnesses said. One neighbor on the block and the manager of nearby Dallas BBQ restaurant separately recounted watching a civilian help a woman down from a fire escape on one of the collapsed buildings before firefighters arrived. One Twitter user also captured the rescue:

Gregory, the neighbor across the street, said acrid smoke was permeating the neighborhood in the aftermath of the explosion. 

Fire radio transmissions captured by Broadcastify.com reveal the collapse threat firefighters faced as they "made extremely dangerous searches" for people possibly trapped inside, according to Nigro. 

One radio dispatch could be heard: "All incoming units are advised not to enter the building at all. We're going to pull them out of the building and off the rooftop. All units responding to Box 436, remain outside the building. Do not respond." 

"The first two floors of 121 are totally collapsed. It's a five-story, non-fireproof building. We're totally involved with fire at this time," another dispatch stated minutes later. 

Con Edison were shutting down gas service in the area as a precaution. 

During the restaurant renovation at 121 Second Ave., gas service was supposed to be cut off, according to Con Ed officials, so investigators are now looking into what fueled the explosion. The utility said it was looking into whether gas complaints were filed there recently. 

The private contractors doing the work inside the restaurant have not been identified.

The Red Cross has set up a relief center for affected neighbors at PS 63, at 121 E. 23rd St. 

Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Joe Esposito said a crew will be working to get rid of as much debris from the explosion -- like the splintered wood, bricks and glass -- as quickly as possible. 

Esposito urged neighbors to keep their windows closed and to limit their time outside as much as possible. Those with respiratory or heart conditions should remain especially alert to conditions and seek medical attention immediately if they feel discomfort. 

An NYPD unit was seen setting up an air quality monitor at the scene. The health department said there was a rise in air pollutants that peaked at about 4 p.m. Thursday, but that number since declined to normal levels and wearing respirators or surgical masks was not necessary. Officials say the odor will linger in the area for a while, but it does not pose a risk to the public.

The explosion comes a week after the one-year anniversary of the East Harlem explosion that leveled two buildings and killed eight people. The blast also injured dozens of people and left many homeless for months. 

Since the 2014 explosion, the FDNY has been given a much greater role in responding to reports of possible gas leaks and New Yorkers are now encouraged to call 911 about gas leaks and odors rather than 311. 

The city will open a resident service center at the Tompkins Square Branch Library at 331 East 10th Street at 8 a.m. Friday.

<![CDATA[Captive Owl Video Sparks Outrage]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 16:35:49 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/vod-web-owl.jpg Florida Fish & Wildlife officers investigate a viral video showing man driving drunk with a federally protected Great Horned Owl in his car, then threatening to eat it. Brian Entin from NBC station WPTV reports.]]> <![CDATA[SoCal Sunrises and Sunsets]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 06:57:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/114480e90ecf4c128dda169bd07e7228.jpg Images of sunrises and sunsets from across the Southland. Send your image to isee@nbcla.com.

Photo Credit: Kari Kauppi]]>
<![CDATA[Gas Line Eyed in Explosion: Sources]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 19:35:52 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/The_Last_View.jpg

Authorities are investigating whether the gas line in a basement below a sushi restaurant was rigged in a possible gas-theft scheme, causing the leak that may have set off Thursday's fiery explosion in the East Village. Two dozen people were injured and two still are missing after the blast that leveled three buildings.

"There is a possibility here that the gas line was inappropriately accessed internally by people in the building," but officials need to get access to the wreckage to explore it further, Mayor de Blasio said during a press conference Friday. He wouldn't say more about why officials believe that's a possibility.

Sources familiar with the investigation tell NBC 4 New York that in August inspectors found the gas line in the basement rigged with a rubber hose to circumvent the Con Edison gas meter. Safety violations were registered and an immediate shut down was ordered until the problem was corrected, the sources said.

No one was charged with any wrongdoing at that time and the case was treated as a safety violation by inspectors, the sources said.  Investigators now want to know if a similar gas-theft scheme was being employed again. The investigation is in its beginning stages and nothing has been ruled out, the sources said. 

The contractors working on the Sushi Park restaurant did not have permits for gas work, the mayor said Friday.

The Manhattan District Attorney's office has joined the NYPD, fire marshals and building inspectors in the probe into the cause of the explosion that sparked a fire that could smolder for days in the rubble of three buildings that once occupied Second Avenue and E. 7th Street.

Firefighters were still working to put out hot spots Friday, Chopper 4 video over the scene shows, and rescue workers with K9 units were on the scene searching for the two missing people. Con Ed has shut off gas to 187 residential customers and 32 commercial customers in the area as the FDNY continues its recovery work. 

Inspectors with Con Ed had been to the East Village building to check on ongoing work to upgrade gas service. The utility said the work didn't pass inspection, so gas wasn't introduced to the line, and inspectors gave instructions and left at around 2:45 p.m. Con Ed said inspectors didn't smell any gas.

But at around 3 p.m., the sushi restaurant owner smelled gas and called the landlord, who then called a general contractor, Boyce said. No one called 911 or Con Ed, however, de Blasio said.

The contractor, Dilber Kukic, and the owner's son went into the basement and opened a door, and then the explosion happened, burning their faces, NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said.

"The whole area was shaking," said Moishe Perl, who works next door. "We couldn't imagine what was going on." 

The building had an existing gas line intended to serve the sushi restaurant; the work underway was to put in a bigger line to serve the entire building, Con Ed President Craig Ivey said. As for whether the apartments were getting gas from the existing line, "That's a great question," he said.

"We'll have to find out, through the investigation, what's going on there," he said.

Con Edison later added in a statement: "As we do in all cases when a customer is upgrading to a new gas service, we conducted careful inspections at 121 2nd Avenue. Our records show the work of the building's plumber failed two inspections, including the inspection our personnel conducted yesterday afternoon. At no time was use of the new service line authorized by Con Edison. That service was locked to ensure that it would not be used. The ground-floor restaurant was being served by its current, smaller gas service line."

Calls to the building owner were unanswered. The owner's son reached by phone in his hospital room declined to comment. The listed contractor did not return messages. A subcontractor hired to handle gas lines did not return calls for comment. 

City records show the contractor, Dilber Kukic, got a permit last June for plumbing, flooring, removing partition walls and other work at the building.

Kukic had tried to help people escape the explosion and had been helpful to authorities, Boyce said.

The contractor -- who's facing unrelated charges of bribing an undercover investigator posing as a housing inspector -- was injured in the blast declined through his lawyer to comment on the circumstances surrounding the explosion.

Kukic is a relatively minor player in a 50-person bribery case that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. and other authorities unveiled last month. They said city inspectors, landlords and contractors formed a network of graft that exchanged $450,000 in payoffs to get safety violations dismissed, procure phony eviction orders and get fast, favorable and sometimes nonexistent inspections.

Kukic is accused of paying $600 in cash to try to get housing violations dismissed at two upper Manhattan properties he owned. He has pleaded not guilty. 

Twenty-two people were injured in the blast, four critically, city officials said Friday. Among the injured were six firefighters. Patients with non-life threatening injuries were continuing to be treated and released from local hospitals.

Meanwhile, businesses and residents who occupied the three buildings that were destroyed are trying to pick up the pieces. Dozens of people and businesses were displaced at least temporarily by the blast. Eleven buildings were evacuated following the explosion, though NYPD officers allowed some residents to return briefly to their apartments Friday to grab a few items. 

Chelsea Blampied, who lived in one of the leveled buildings, said she'd stopped home to get a work file from her third-floor apartment when she heard and felt the blast. 

"I thought a plane crashed into my building. Glass was blown everywhere, and it was just so surreal," she said. 

"I just heard a really loud boom," recounted neighbor Justine Miller. "I could feel it in my chest." 

Neighbor Troy Hinson was walking to the sushi restaurant when it "literally blew up in front of my face," and said "it really felt like my internal organs were reverberating. It just feels like everything was shaking, including my teeth."

"You just don't know what hit you, it just feels like a sonic boom, there's no real other way to describe it," he said. 

Blampied left behind all her belongings and ran through smoke and debris down the stairs to safety as her building began to crumble. She's now staying with friends and is grateful she made it out alive. 

"It's so overwhelming. Everyone lost everything," she said. 

Gregory Dohdanowycz was in his top-floor apartment in the building next to where the blast happened. 

"I look out the window, and I see two buildings south of me, there's smoke rising from the windows and their roof windows," he said.

He only had time to grab his dog before running outside, and was overwhelmed by the horrific sights and sounds when he got outside. 

Neighbor Miller said: "There was blood on the ground. There were people laying up against buildings and other people trying to help them."

Actress Drea de Matteo is among the residents who lost her home and belongings in the explosion. She took to Instagram Thursday to share two dramatic photos of firefighters battling smoke and flames. "A hole where my NYC home of the last 22 years once stood," she wrote in one caption. "RIP 123 2nd Avenue." The photos appeared to be taken from a rooftop across the street.

Naya Jones, who spent the night at the YMCA after being told to leave her building near the blast site, went to the Tompkins Square Library Friday, where the Red Cross and other relief groups were offering financial assistance, food, vouchers and advocacy help. 

The Red Cross said it has helped more than 80 people since the blast and gave housing assistance to 30. The Standard Hotel is giving anyone displaced by the blaze three free nights of lodging. Sprint has also donated 25 cellphones. 

The ASPCA is also providing pet supplies for owners in the affected area.

"It's a small community," said Bohdanowycz. "I think everyone is trying to help out when something bad happens." 

Hinson, who's lived in the neighborhood four years, said, "I love the sense of community, and everybody comes together and helps each other out and is here for each other." 

Several long-standing businesses were also affected by the destruction. Pommes Frites, a favorite spot for fries, was destroyed by the blast, and the nearby Orpheum Theater had to cancel performances of the off-Broadway production of "Stomp."

Robert Seniuk, the chef at Stage restaurant across the street, is determined to get back to work.

"We open, we don't give up. This city is 24 hours," he said. 

Nevertheless, the frightening explosion has taken a toll on the psyche of New Yorkers everywhere.

"Yesterday was a very scary day. Now all I can do is think about the people who lost their homes and people who've been living here for decades," said neighbor Adam Mashaal. 

Hinson said he had stopped on the corner to say goodbye to his friend just before the sushi restaurant exploded.

"The fact that I was literally -- if I didn't stop and talk to my friend, I would possibly be in that building," he said. "That's kind of what's messing me up... All these crazy thoughts are going through your head after this happens, like, why me? Why am I safe, why is something again happening to me? It's just crazy. I'm having just a hard time processing it." 

Health officials say the air quality in the area has returned to normal levels and that short-term exposure to elevated particulate levels Thursday didn't pose a significant risk to the public. They say the smoke odor may linger, but isn't harmful. Still, those with respiratory or heart problems should remain extra vigilant. 

The explosion comes a week after the one-year anniversary of the East Harlem explosion that leveled two buildings and killed eight people. The blast also injured dozens of people and left many homeless for months.

Since the 2014 explosion, the FDNY has been given a much greater role in responding to reports of possible gas leaks and New Yorkers are now encouraged to call 911 about gas leaks and odors rather than 311.

Photo Credit: @The_Last_View/Twitter ]]>