<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:45:18 -0700 Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:45:18 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Mother Fatally Stabbed Over Parking Spot: Police]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 10:58:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/tlmd_handcuffs11.jpg

A 43-year-old mother was fatally stabbed in front of her adult children in a fight over a parking space at a popular Whittier swap meet last Friday, police said.

Whittier police arrested Reggie Cervantes, 22, and Brenda Rangel, 19, on suspicion of murder for their involvement in the death of Elizabeth Yanez on Oct. 17.

Officers responded around 9:30 p.m. to a report of a fight in the parking at the Santa Fe Springs Swap Meet. When they arrived, Yanez was found lying on the ground with several stab wounds to her neck and back, police said. She was taken to UCI Medical Center where she later died.

Investigators learned that Yanez was stabbed by a male and female during a dispute over a parking space. Police said Yanez’s 22- and 23-year-old children witnessed their mother being stabbed.

Detectives developed a possible suspect vehicle description and, after “obtaining crucial evidence” at the scene, were led to Cervantes and Rangel. They are being held on $1 million bond at the Los Angeles County Jail.

<![CDATA[A More Cautious Approach? Ebola Case Raises Quarantine Questions]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:33:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/tlmd_newark_hospital_ebola_st.jpg

The week’s outings included a coffee in one of Manhattan’s tourist-packed parks, a stop by a meatball shop and a subway ride to Brooklyn for an evening of bowling with friends.

But by Thursday, Craig Spencer was in an isolation unit at a New York City hospital, being treated for the potentially deadly Ebola virus as health officials and disease detectives worked to retrace the 33-year-old doctor’s steps and track down potential contacts.

City officials have praised the quick response to his illness and said Spencer, the city's first Ebola patient, followed all the proper steps to monitor his health and minimize exposure after returning from a Doctors Without Borders assignment in the West African nation of Guinea just one week ago.

Still, some public health experts are urging extra caution as more doctors and others potentially exposed to the virus return from the front lines of fighting the outbreak in West Africa.

Dr. Joseph McCormick, a professor at the University of Texas School of Public Health who has cared for Ebola patients, said while putting a large number of people in quarantine because of possible casual interaction “is not warranted,” as the virus can only be spread by contact with the bodily fluids of person with symptoms, some situations may merit more prudence.

“I would say that for somebody like a health provider like the physician who clearly was in direct contact with patients, I’m not sure that total quarantine is needed but I think a more cautious approach to traveling around the city probably would be warranted,” McCormick, a former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official who investigated the first Ebola epidemic, said. “We all have to balance our messages here.”

The safeguards followed by Spencer, recommended by the CDC and Doctors Without Borders, included taking his temperature twice daily, watching for fever and other symptoms during the virus’ 21-day incubation period. Living in New York, he was well within the recommended 4-hour radius of a hospital with isolation facilities. When his temperature hit 100.3 degrees Thursday morning, he called health officials and was quickly moved to Bellevue Hospital.

Still, at least one other relief group operating in West Africa has gone beyond the CDC recommendations in light of the heightened public concern following the infection of two nurses treating an Ebola patient at a Dallas hospital, including one who took flights to and from Ohio while she was self-monitoring for signs of the virus.

Samaritan’s Purse is mandating that employees who return from its efforts in Liberia undergo a “self-imposed, no-touch self sequestration” for 21 days that limits even physical contact with family members, according to Kendell Kauffeldt, the Christian international relief organization’s longtime country director in Liberia. Employees of the organization, which made headlines after its own Dr. Kent Brantly survived an infection, are also required to take their temperature four times a day, with the trigger for alerting officials set one degree lower than the CDC's level. They require returning staff, including three who are currently in the incubation period, stay within 90 minutes of an isolation facility for those three weeks.

Kauffeldt, who lived in Liberia for 10 years before returning to the United States with his family in August, stressed that Spencer took all the required steps and the potential of “anyone else becoming infected is almost zero because he followed the protocol.” He said the added precautions enacted for his own colleagues were simply meant to go even farther to ensure general public health, the safety of their employees and peace of mind.

“It was really just in reaction to the situations in Dallas and just recognizing that there is a level of uninformed fear, but we still as an organization have a responsibility to the general public to ensure we were doing everything possible for their safety and their health,’ he said.

The protocols for monitoring and protecting those workers will likely remain in the spotlight, as more are deployed to fight an outbreak that has sickened more than 10,000 since March. Demand for doctors is still high, and thousands have volunteered through an online portal USAID set up in early September to match qualified applicants with aid organizations.

Doctors, nurses and other medical aides are considered at the highest risk for contracting the virus because they deal with bodily fluids from the sickest of patients and the World Health Organization says an “unprecedented” number have been infected in this outbreak. In all, more than 440 health care workers have contracted Ebola and 244 have died as of Oct. 19, the WHO says. Six other American health workers — four who worked in Africa and two from a Dallas hospital that treated a patient from Liberia — contracted Ebola and recovered after receiving treatment in the U.S.

Both New York City Health Commissioner Mary Bassett and National Institute of Health’s Anthony Fauci, who cared for one of the Dallas nurses, suggested Friday that the federal guidelines for monitoring are the subject of active discussion.

Eden Wells, clinical associate professor of epidemiology and director of the Preventive Medicine Residency at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, said she would personally restrict her movements if she were returning from West Africa or had been caring for someone with Ebola. She stressed she did was not criticizing Spencer, who she noted followed the current protocols.

She she’d take the more cautious approach “not only just to reassure the public but it is also to aid public health epidemiologist disease detective, because the more contact that’s out there that has to be investigated because someone did leave the home really taxes the system.”

“Whether they’re sick or not sick what happens is any time a case like this happens there’s an incredible amount of resources undertaken to do the investigation to reassure everyone that there’s not then another case as a result of a contact,” she said.

Doctors Without Borders, which did not return multiple interview requests, said in a statement Friday that it will investigate how Spencer contracted the virus. But it acknowledged that even with its “Extremely strict procedures “ for staff, the “risk cannot be completely eliminated.”

"Tragically, as we struggle to bring the Ebola outbreak in West Africa under control, some members of our staff have not been spared," Executive Director Sophie Delaunay said in a statement."Our thoughts are with our colleague in his own struggle right now, and we sincerely hope for his quick and full recovery."

<![CDATA[Three Officers Shot, One Civilian Shot in Northern CA: CHP]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:32:16 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lagenerics-1-a-breaking-news-la-generic-graphic-april2014.gif

Three officers and one civilian have been shot in Sacramento and Placer counties by a man and woman who are heavily armed, according to the CHP.

There is an ongoing pursuit on Interstate 80 near the city of Auburn after reports of shots fired and that the truck sought in connection with the shooting of a Sacramento County deputy had been spotted, police told NBC affiliate KCRA 3.

The suspects were described as heavily armed and dangerous, according to the California Highway Patrol in Sacramento.

Refresh this page for updates.

<![CDATA[SoCal Sunrises and Sunsets]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 06:45:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/1728588d346f4f9fac7009b3f8376693.jpg Images of sunrises and sunsets from across the Southland. Send your image to isee@nbcla.com.

Photo Credit: Kathleen Wilhelm]]>
<![CDATA[Police Seek Masked Male in Attempted Sex Assault]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:10:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/simivalleypolicejpg.jpg

Simi Valley police were asking for the public’s help in finding a masked male who attempted to sexually assault a woman at her home Thursday afternoon.

A burglary and attempted sexual assault was reported in the 2300 block of Clover Street just before 2 p.m., according to the Simi Valley Police Department.

Investigators learned that a woman was home alone when a masked male confronted her and attempted to sexually assault her. The male fled before police arrived.

The woman's door was open at the time of the incident, police said.

"When you’re at home, it’s a good idea to keep your home secure," said Sgt. Craig Dungan.

Two K-9 units and a Ventura County Sheriff's helicopter were used in a search for the male, but he was not found.

Details about the male were sketchy, but authorities said he was about 6 feet tall and wore dark clothing at the time of the incident.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Det. David DelMarto at (805) 583-6218.

Photo Credit: Facebook/Simi Valley Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[CSUN Orders End to Pledge Activity]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 12:05:08 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/college+campus+generic.jpg

All fraternities and sororities at California State University, Northridge have been ordered to stop pledge activity following reports of a possible hazing incident, just seven weeks after a university investigation determined that hazing was involved in the July death of a CSUN freshman.

The possible hazing incident involves fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha, which has been placed on interim suspension by the school and on administrative suspension by its national headquarters. A student from the pledge class reported the possible case of hazing one week ago, according to school officials.

After the complaint, school officials questioned several other pledges and "more than one" described what the school considered possible hazing incidents. Vice president of student affairs William Watkins sent a letter to all sorority and fraternity presidents Thursday evening, a copy of which was posted on the school newspaper’s website, and in it ordered that "all pledge activities immediately cease and desist" and that "all pledging must immediately stop."

"CSUN takes hazing allegations extremely seriously, and we are deeply committed to protecting the health and safety of all students," Watkins wrote. "Following Armando Villa’s tragic death while on a fraternity-sponsored hike in the Angeles National Forest, CSUN reviewed all applicable policies and procedures to ensure that the university’s zero-tolerance policy on hazing is clearly understood and followed."

The school conducted training sessions with the sorority and fraternity community concerning expectations around pledge activities.

"Fortunately, one of our students came to us as a result of that training and reported to us concerning behavior that was occurring within the chapter pledge process," said William Watkins, CSUN dean of students.

In early September, CSUN officials announced that hazing contributed to the death of 19-year-old Pi Kappa Phi pledge Armando Villa (pictured below), who passed out in the Angeles National Forest during a hike in July and later died at the hospital. Following the internal investigation, that fraternity surrendered its CSUN chapter.

 "The report’s findings are deeply disturbing, and I will not turn a blind eye to any reports of hazing," CSUN President Dianne Harrison had said in a statement in September. "Hazing is stupid, senseless, dangerous and against the law in California. It is a vestige of a toxic way of thinking in which it was somehow okay to degrade, humiliate and potentially harm others. It has no place on this or any university campus, in any student club or organization, and it will not be tolerated."

In the statement issued Thursday, Watkins reiterated those thoughts, adding that it was “shocking and disappointing” that the alleged hazing would continue given that CSUN’s efforts to ensure a recruitment that “conforms to the university’s zero tolerance policy on hazing.”

According to the statement, any Greek organization that continues pledge activities will be suspended immediately and could be removed by the university.

President Harrison plans to address fraternity and sorority leaders to discuss expectations and changes, according to the statement.

"At this time, there will be no spring 2015 new member intake activity," the statement said.

As for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department investigation into Villa's death, authorities told NBC4 Friday that the department will be submitting its finding to the district attorney as early as next week. The district attorney's office would then consider whether criminal charges will be filed in the case.

NBC4's Jonathan Lloyd contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Crash Scatters 101 Fwy Divider Debris]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 08:40:17 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/10-24-2014-101-freeway-encino.jpg

Lanes were blocked on both sides of the 101 Freeway in the west San Fernando Valley Friday morning after a crash that left debris on the road.

Three lanes were closed on the eastbound side of the freeway and two westbound lanes were closed near White Oak Avenue. Aerial video showed damage to the concrete center divider that was struck by a vehicle.

Workers are attempting to clear the debris and make repairs. At least one vehicle was involved in the crash.

Details regarding injuries were not immediately available.

Refresh this page for updates.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Map: Where NYC Ebola Patient Went]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 12:45:33 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ebola+map.jpg
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<![CDATA[Despite Strict Protocol, Risks Remain for Ebola Doctors: Group]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 12:25:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/tlmd_newark_hospital_ebola_st.jpg

The medical and humanitarian organization that employed the New York doctor who tested positive for the Ebola virus said that the risk for staff returning from the front lines in West Africa can't be completely eliminated, even with "extremely strict procedures" to protect against the potentially deadly disease. 

Craig Spencer tested positive for the potentially deadly virus at New York's Bellevue Hospital on Thursday, six days after he arrived home from an Ebola assignment in Guinea with Doctors Without Borders.  He is the first Ebola case in New York City and the fourth diagnosed in the United States.

Doctors Without Borders, which is also known internationally as Médecins Sans Frontières, said the doctor who contracted the virus followed its guidelines for self-monitoring, which includes checking temperature twice a day and staying within four hours of a hospital with isolation facilities during a 21-day incubation period. He was admitted to the hospital on Thursday after reporting a fever of 100.3 degrees. 

"Extremely strict procedures are in place for staff dispatched to Ebola affected countries before, during, and after their assignments," Sophie Delaunay, executive director of MSF, said in a statement. "Despite the strict protocols, risk cannot be completely eliminated. However, close post-assignment monitoring allows for early detection of cases and for swift isolation and medical management."

The organization has launched a "thorough investigation" to identify how Spencer contracted Ebola.

More than 10,000 people have fallen ill with Ebola since the outbreak began in March, creating a dire need for international health workers in the West African countries that have been hardest hit. 

Spencer, 33, is one of more than 700 international staff Doctors Without Borders has sent to Ebola-stricken countries since March. Three international staff and 21 locally employed staff have fallen ill with the virus since that time, with 13 dying of the disease.

“Tragically, as we struggle to bring the Ebola outbreak in West Africa under control, some members of our staff have not been spared,” Delaunay said in the statement. “Our thoughts are with our colleague in his own struggle right now, and we sincerely hope for his quick and full recovery.”

Scores of other aid groups and health workers have stepped up as well. More than 3,700 people have signed up using an online portal USAID launched in early September to connect potential volunteers with aid organizations, said Lisa Hibbert-Simpson, press officer with USAID. Demand for more help hasn't slowed, she said.

“The need will exist until we have it under control," she said. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says health workers are among those facing the highest risk of contracting the virus, which is spread through contact with bodily fluids from a person who is already showing symptoms.

In late August, the World Health Organization called the "high proportion" of doctors, nurses and heath care workers infected "unprecedented." As of late October, the virus had sickened more than 440 health care workers worldwide, claiming the lives of 224.

Four American health workers and a freelance cameraman for NBC who fell ill after working in West Africa have recovered from Ebola after receiving treatment back in the United States. Two nurses in Dallas who contracted the virus while caring for a patient diagnosed there were also recently declared Ebola free. That patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, has been the only person to die of the virus in the U.S. so far.

Officials in New York have said the risk to the public is minimal given the timing of Spencer's symptoms and admission to the isolation unit.   They believe he had direct contact with fiancee and two friends, before going to the hospital. The three have been quarantined and are in good health, New York City's health commissioner said.

<![CDATA[Dallas Nurse Pham Ebola-Free]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:47:55 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP570888027428.jpg

Dallas nurse Nina Pham was declared free of Ebola and discharged from the hospital on Friday, just before she met with and hugged President Barack Obama in the Oval Office.

"I feel fortunate and blessed to be standing here today," Pham said in a brief statement outside the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, just before she headed to the White House. "I am on my way back to recovery, even as I reflect how many others have not been so fortunate."

Tests show that Pham, who contracted the virus while caring for the first patient diagnosed in the United States, has no more virus in her system, Dr. Anthony Fauci of NIH told reporters.

Pham thanked everyone who has been praying for her, and the medical workers who have been caring for her. "As a nurse, I have a special appreciation for the care I have received from so many," she said.

Pham, a nurse with Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, contracted Ebola while helping to care for Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S. She helped treat him from his first day in intensive care at until Oct. 7, the day before he died, NBC5 in Dallas reported.

Pham was flown via charter flight Oct. 16 to Frederick, Maryland's municipal airport and taken by ambulance to the Clinical Center, a hospital located on the grounds of the 312-acre NIH campus in Bethesda.

In her statement Friday, Pham thanked Dr. Kent Brantly, the first American to recover from Ebola, for the "selfless act" of donating his blood, and she asked people to pray with her for her colleague Amber Vinson and for just-diagnosed Dr. Craig Spencer.

In advance of Pham's arrival at NIH last week, Fauci, one of the most highly respected immunologists in the world, announced he would be her admitting physician.

On Friday, while wearing the colors of Pham's nursing school, Texas Christian, Fauci called her a "courageous and lovely person," saying that she also represents the nurses and healthcare workers who put themselves on the line caring for sick patients.

He said they did not administer any experimental drugs to Pham during her treatment at NIH.

Fauci said she was doing well in Texas, and continued to do well at NIH. "We both supported her, so I can't pinpoint in one patient, what was the turning point," he said.

Fauci said it was not possible to pinpoint whether Brantley's donation of plasma was critical in her recovery and that more research is needed.

He said Pham's youth and general health were likely other factors that likely helped, as was the fact that she entered a hospital that was able to give her intensive care early.

Fauci said that Pham communicated with her family via FaceTime during her treatment -- and that she taught him how to use the program, too.

"I gave her my cell phone number just in case I get lonely," he quipped.

Pham's dog, Bentley, tested negative for the virus, Dallas officials announced Wednesday. Dallas Animal Services have been caring for him in isolation. Officials said they'll run one more test before the end of a 21-day quarantine period Nov. 1.

Pham said Friday she plans to return home to Texas and looks forward to reuniting with Bentley.

Pham's Texas hospital said the decision to transfer her to NIH was made in consultation with Pham and her family, adding that many of the medical personnel who would have usually worked in the intensive care unit were themselves "sidelined" for monitoring.

In an emotional video recorded shortly before she left Texas, Pham is shown in her hospital room speaking with a doctor and another medical worker, telling them, "Come to Maryland, everybody!" and "I love you guys."

As medical workers prepared to transport Pham to Dallas' Love Field last week, her coworkers at Texas Health Presbyterian held up signs to encourage her.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Relatives Jump Off Roof of Burning Home, Family Dog Dies]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 10:42:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/milpitas+fire.jpg

Family members leapt from the roof of their Milpitas home Friday morning as a two-alarm fire ripped through the house, killing their dog.

A grandmother inside the home was taken to the hospital, and the dog died during the blaze, which was reported just before 3 a.m. in the 2200 block of Farmcrest Street, Milpitas Fire Battalion Chief Americo Silvi said.

Silvi said he isn't sure how many people jumped off the roof, but said he heard it was a "couple of them." A grandmother, mother and two children were inside the home at the time of the fire, which is under investigation.

Several homes in the area were evacuated, and in the hours that followed, neighbors were seen outside on the sidewalk.

A worried-looking woman and two young children boy were seen in pajamas, wrapped in blue blankets sitting on the grass.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area/Telemundo
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<![CDATA[High-Speed Pursuit Ends With PIT Maneuver ]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:19:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/10-24-14_chp+pursuit+pit+maneuver.jpg

A high-speed pursuit ended early Friday when officers performed a PIT maneuver on a small sedan attempting to flee in Huntington Park.

The driver of a dark colored Toyota refused to pull over for officers attempting a traffic stop around 1:30 a.m. in the South Los Angeles area, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The pursuit took officers through several cities, and at one point the driver traveled on the wrong side of the road. The chase ended in Huntington Park after pursuing officers performed a PIT maneuver.

Officers arrested the driver at the scene. CHP is handling the investigation.

Photo Credit: SoCal News]]>
<![CDATA[Motorcycle Lane Splitting Is Relatively Safe: Study ]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 08:23:17 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/motorcycle_generic.jpg

The controversial act of lane splitting – when a motorcycle rides between cars in freeway traffic – is safer than many think, a new study finds.

The seemingly risky move of weaving between lanes is against the law in every single state except California, to the ire of some drivers and the delight of motorcyclists.

"Those guys out there and girls out there occasionally splitting lanes are just looking for a disaster as far as I'm concerned,” one driver frankly said.

A state-commissioned UC Berkeley study looked at thousands of accident reports and found lane splitting is no more dangerous than riding a motorcycle in a marked lane.

But if a rider is traveling 10 miles per hour faster than traffic, the risk of a crash goes up.

New York Myke, owner of San Diego Harley-Davidson, hopes the study will ease public frustration over lane splitters.

He told NBC 7 he doesn’t like to see people rushing between cars going 60 or 70 mph because that gives all motorcyclists a bad name.

"We don't like to do it, but I’d rather do that than sit in traffic and take the chance some car five cars back hits the car in front of him or her and we eventually get tagged and knocked off or hurt,” said Myke.

The UC Berkeley study actually found lane splitters are less likely rear-ended but are more likely to rear-end others. The data also showed early morning and late afternoon rush hours are the times when lane splitters have a higher chance of getting into an accident.

Still, some think the maneuver is a bad idea because other drivers cannot be trusted.

“People are distracted, people are doing ten things when in the cars aside from focusing on the traffic around them,” said one woman who spoke with NBC 7.

Myke agreed, arguing UC Berkeley should do a study on texting and driving because “that’s the real killer.”

The study’s data will be shared with the California Highway Patrol, which this year began working on guidelines for lane-splitting. A more in-depth study of the practice is also in the works.

Photo Credit: clipart.com]]>
<![CDATA[Driver Speeding "In and Out of Traffic" Before Fatal Crash]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:13:32 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/10-24-2014-sunland-crash.jpg

A driver was arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder Friday after a fatal crash that occurred as he and another driver were seen weaving "in and out of traffic" at high speeds in Sunland, police said.

The male driver of a black Nissan 370Z was detained for his possible involvement in the crash early Friday morning, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. A female driver in her mid-30s was killed when her Infiniti G class vehicle struck a utility pole just after midnight in the 10100 block of Sunland Boulevard.

Luis Tapia, 28, of Sunland, was later arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder, Los Angeles police said. The driver "contributed to the cause" of the crash, police said.

"Two vehicles were observed traveling at a high rate of speed in and out of traffic, and unfortunately one of the vehicles lost control through one of the S-turns on Sunland Boulevard between La Canada Way and Whitman," LAPD Lt. Bill Bustos said.

The driver was trapped after the car sheared a telephone pole and the vehicle overturned. Firefighters attempted to extricate the woman and provide aid, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.

"We're not saying racing at this particular point, we don't know if those drivers were just driving fast.... Or if there was illegal street racing going on," Bustos said.

Tapia's bond was set at $1 million.

Sunland Boulevard was closed for hours as LAPD officers collected evidence at the scene. The road reopened to traffic just after 6 a.m.

NBC4's Jonathan Lloyd contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: OnSceneTV]]>
<![CDATA[Back-to-Back Quakes Strike Near Brea in Orange County]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 17:15:56 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/10-23-14-brea+quake.JPG

Two small earthquakes rattled Orange County Thursday afternoon.

A magnitude-2.8 quake struck 1 mile northeast of Brea at 3:34 p.m., and a 3.0 quake struck the same area at 3:35 p.m., according to USGS.

One NBC4 viewer in Buena Park described the quake as a "more of a push" than a jolt. A resident in Brea said she felt "a little shaking going on."

More than 300 people reported feeling the 3.0 quake on the USGS "Did You Feel It?" website.

No injuries or damage were reported.

Photo Credit: USGS]]>
<![CDATA[Catalytic Converter Thieves Target Silver Lake]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 20:10:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/10-23-catalyticconverters.JPG

A citywide rise in thefts of catalytic converters for scrap metal is particularly acute in the neighborhood of Silver Lake, according to Los Angeles police.

In two months, 35 catalytic converters have been reported stolen — one just this Monday, officials said.

Thieves take only a couple minutes using a portable hand saw to steal the car parts, which can be worth up to $300 due to the high content ratio of palladium, rhodium and platinum, said LAPD Detective Fernando Prieto.

Silver Lake is a hot spot for the thefts because of a high concentration of targeted cars such as the Honda Element, officials said.

Scrap yards and recycling centers are fueling the growing theft ring by paying top dollar for sawed-off catalytic converters, police said.

Officials advise people to park in a well-lit area, get a vehicle identification number etched on the catalytic converter and install a motion sensor or "cat clamp" on it.

The clamps cost between $100 and $700, but replacing a stolen converter can cost up to $3,000.

Popular cars targeted by converter thieves include the Chevy Cavalier, Pontiac Sunfire and Toyota Sequoia.

<![CDATA[Memorial Left For Boy Killed by Ice Cream Truck]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 14:51:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jamarion1.jpg

Mourners set down flowers, balloons and candles at a makeshift memorial on Thursday for a 7-year-old boy who was fatally struck by an ice cream truck while he was riding a motorized bike in South Los Angeles.

Jamarion Thomas was riding next to the vehicle when he fell Wednesday night. Police said the boy slipped as he was riding and fell underneath the truck near his home in the 200 block of 97th Street.

He was taken to hospital in grave condition after the apparent accident but later died, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Friends and family, meanwhile, grieved at a scene which included a bike which may have been the one ridden by the boy at the time of the incident.

A devestated neighbor, whose son was friends with Jamarion, said: "My baby been up running around, crying, and everything else, and I don't know what to tell him, because this is his first time going through this."

Family members wouldn't talk, but an uncle said Wednesday night he was in shock and didn't know how he was going to break the news to the boy's father.

The accident caused an angry crowd to attack the driver with bricks and sticks. Police said a knife was also possibly pulled during the melee. No arrests have been made.

The driver, who suffered bruises and was treated at the scene, was taken to a police station for his own safety.

Photo Credit: Family Photo]]>
<![CDATA[Decorative Contacts Can Cause Blindness: Officials]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 07:25:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP18289346253.jpg

Decorative contact lenses serve as the finishing touch to many Halloween costumes, but federal agencies warn that counterfeit products could result in serious injury and even permanent vision loss.

"You'd never buy a heart valve at a gas station and you should never buy a medical device like contact lenses at one either," said Dr. Jeffrey Hackleman, president of the Georgia Optometric Association. "… A lifetime of good vision is so much more important than a cheap Halloween accessory."

Graphic images of injuries sustained from counterfeit contact lenses can be found here.

Officials caution customers not to buy contacts from Halloween shops or other unauthorized distributors of contact lenses. Due to the health risks involved, it is illegal to purchase or sell contact lenses of any kind without a valid prescription.

As part of "Operation Double Vision," federal agencies are joining forces to seize counterfeit and illegally imported decorative contact lenses. Already, they have taken more than 750 pairs off the market in the LA area.

Medical experts advise consumers interested in buying decorative lenses to get an eye exam from a local doctor. Even those who believe they have perfect vision should obtain a prescription that includes the brand name, lens measurement and expiration date.

"Make no mistake, contact lenses are medical devices that should be prescribed by trained professionals," said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HIS) Los Angeles.

To be safe, don’t buy contacts from a vendor that does not require proof of a prescription.

Consumers should also follow directions for cleaning, disinfecting and wearing the lenses. Finally, consult an eye doctor immediately if there are any signs of infection.

"… Halloween is a fun and festive holiday, and nobody wants to see those celebrations end with a trip to the ER," Arnold said.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Is Photo Math App Bad News for Teachers? ]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 06:57:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/photo+math+app.JPG

An app called Photo Math boasts the ability to solve math problems with the click of a smartphone camera, prompting a new round of an old debate: how much should students use technology in the classroom?

With the app, users can simply hold their phone over a question and wait a few seconds as it makes the calculations. It then produces the answer and shows the steps to get there.

Photo Math offers help for those stuck on a particularly hard question, but it also presents an easy way to cheat.

One educator likened it to the issue of whether to let students use a calculator solve problems.

“When I first heard about (the app), I thought, ‘Oh my goodness.’ And then I thought, it’s always kind of been there, it’s just quicker and easier because of the speed of the internet,” said Dr. Jeffrey Theil, who works with staff and parents on Common Core standards for the Chula Vista Elementary School District.

He told NBC 7 with Common Core, students are asked to show their answers in multiple ways, so one would have to know how to ask the question to get an answer on the internet.

Siri, the virtual voice-controlled assistant on Apple products, can also be used at a math tool but was better with the simple questions, while Photo Math listed all the steps.

However, on Thursday, students in class were asked to do the problems in their heads by rearranging fractions.

While the app could crunch the numbers, it could not understand the intent of the questions, and the intent is what matters.

If students use it as a tool to help them with homework and not a short cut to get the answer, more access and quicker access can be a good thing.

“That number sense and fluency is really important,” said Theil, “and I don’t think you can get that through an app or googling that or whatever because we’re challenging your mind and what your mind can do mathematically.”

If the technology isn’t there yet to interpret the intent and multiple demands of the Common Core math curriculum, it will be.

And just like in the old days when we could look at the back of the textbook for answers, students need to be taught if they only use the internet as a short cut, they’re only cheating themselves.

Student Alexa Zumstein appreciates that concept, telling NBC 7 she likes doing equations mentally.

“Not only does it help me practice doing it in my head, it just feels a sense of accomplishment, like I just did 237 times 26 on my own and I got it right and I feel good,” she said.

<![CDATA[Driver Hits Woman, Child in Wheelchair]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 06:56:36 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/SDPD-generic-cars-0226.jpg

A driver running a red light hit a wheelchair carrying a woman and a girl, sending the child to the hospital Thursday evening, San Diego Police say.

The woman in wheelchair was holding an 8-year-old girl in her lap as she crossed 5400 Imperial Avenue at 54th Street in Valencia Park.

Police say the woman had a green light, but an 82-year-old female driver ran her red light and struck the wheelchair.

Falling to the ground, the girl hit her head and fractured her skull. She was taken to the hospital. The woman in the wheelchair complained of minor knee pain.

The SDPD traffic division is investigating this crash.

Check back here for details on this developing story.

<![CDATA[Girl Found Dead at Shelter: Cops]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 04:55:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/Generic+Police+Tape+Generic.JPG

A 4-year-old girl was found dead at a Queens homeless shelter and authorities are classifying her death as "suspicious," police say.

Police found the child, identified as Linayjah Meraldo, after responding to a call at the Briarwood Family Residence, a temporary housing shelter for homeless families on 134th Street, on Thursday. The little girl's four siblings were in school when she was found; the child's mother said she kept the girl home because she wasn't feeling well, according to a source familiar with the case.

There were no other adults living in the unit where the mother and children were staying.

The mother initially told police Meraldo was involved in a physical altercation with a sibling -- "a tousling thing," she called it, according to the source. The source said the mother later said the child had fallen, and that the version of events she told investigators kept changing.

The little girl was last seen in the 100-unit shelter Thursday morning, the source said. The child was active and nobody noticed bruises or other injuries, according to the source.

The family has lived at Briarwood for nearly a year.

The Department of Health and Human Services called Meraldo's death "terribly disturbing." The agency said in a statement it was working closely with police.

The child's death comes less than a week after a 3-year-old girl was found dead in a homeless shelter in Brooklyn. The medical examiner ruled her death a homicide, saying the girl died from blunt impact to her head and torso. Her 20-year-old stepfather was arrested on a murder charge.

After the Brooklyn girl's death, Mayor de Blasio called for a thorough investigation. 

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Man Fires 28 Times on Neighborhood]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 23:42:56 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/225*120/Assault+Rifle+Alton+Street+Shooting.JPG

A Northeast Philadelphia man fired an assault rifle at his neighbor more than two dozen times after an argument spiraled out of control Thursday night.

"The shooter fired multiple shots, unloaded his magazine, then reloaded the weapon," said Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small.

Not only was the 57-year-old neighbor hit multiple times but bullets -- police said at least 28 were fired -- also hit neighboring homes along the 8900 block Alton Street in the Bustleton section of the city.

Medics rushed a 57-year-old man from the scene to Einstein Medical Center in critical condition, according to Philadelphia Police.

"This victim stated who he was shot by," said Small.

Investigators said the incident began as an argument between the older man and a 26-year-old suspect around 7:30 p.m. in the rear driveway of the homes. At some point the suspect grabbed an assault rifle and began firing, police said.

At least 20 bullets hit two neighboring homes, said police. Officers checked on the residents inside and luckily no one was hit.

Police arrested the unidentified shooting suspect without incident and confiscated the rifle, said Small.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Who Is Craig Spencer, 1st New York Ebola Patient?]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 13:23:04 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/craig-spencer.jpg

New York City doctor Craig Spencer is the fourth person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States and the first in New York. He recently came back from treating Ebola patients in West Africa, and preliminarily tested positive for the Ebola virus at Bellevue Hospital on Thursday, Oct. 23. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the following day that he had contracted the potentially deadly disease.

He was in stable condition as of Oct. 24 and talking on the phone with extensively with family members, officials said.

Spencer is the fifth U.S. aid worker to contract the virus while working in West Africa. Dr. Kent Brantly, who recovered from Ebola earlier this year, issued a statement saying he is "grieved to hear about another health care worker contracting Ebola in West Africa.

"My prayers are with Dr. Spencer, his family and the crew taking care of him," he said in a statement released to NBC's "Today." "From everything I've read and heard about his circumstances, it sounds like New York has done everything right to contain this case."

Here's what we know so far about Spencer, his background, what he has done since coming back to the U.S. and the people with whom he may have come into contact.

Who is Craig Spencer?

Spencer, 33, is an emergency room doctor at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital's Columbia Medical Center campus in Upper Manhattan. He is a Detroit native who went to Wayne State University there and has family in that area.

He was volunteering with Doctors Without Borders in Guinea, one of the three West African nations experiencing an Ebola epidemic. He hasn't returned to work at NewYork-Presbyterian since returning to the U.S., the hospital said in a statement.

Spencer "went to an area of medical crisis to help a desperately underserved population," the hospital said in a statement. "He is a committed and responsible physician who always put his patients first."

Spencer also attended Columbia's University Mailman School of Public Health.

"Off to Guinea with Doctors Without Borders,'' he reportedly posted on Facebook on Sept. 18, along with a photo showing him dressed in protective gear. "Please support organizations that are sending support or personnel to West Africa, and help combat one of the worst public health and humanitarian disasters in recent history.''

Spencer left for West Africa via Brussels in mid-September, according to the Facebook page. He completed his assignment there on Oct. 12 and left on Oct. 14 via Europe. He arrived in the U.S. on Oct. 17 at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

When Did Spencer Test Positive for Ebola?

Spencer participated in the enhanced screening at JFK for all travelers returning from the West African nations affected by Ebola. He did not have fever or other Ebola symptoms.

While back in New York, Spencer checked his temperature twice daily, New York City’s health commissioner Mary Travis Bassett said at a Thursday evening media briefing. He began feeling sluggish on Oct. 21, but did not have any symptoms then. He felt well enough to go on a three-mile jog this week.

On Thursday morning, between 10 and 11 a.m. ET, Spencer reported coming down with a 100.3-degree fever and diarrhea and called 911, New York's Department of Health said. Officials corrected the number Friday morning after having first said in error that his temperature was 103 degrees.

He was transported from his apartment on West 147th Street in Hamilton Heights to Bellevue, one of eight New York state hospitals designated to treat Ebola patients, by a specially trained HAZ TAC unit wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). Spencer was placed in a special isolation unit at the hospital, where he's being cared for by the predesignated medical critical care team.

Doctors Without Borders said it was notified about Spencer's fever Thursday morning and immediately notified New York City health officials.

"We are fully prepared to handle Ebola," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Friday.

A blood sample was sent to the New York City Health Department laboratory, which is part of the Laboratory Response Network overseen by the CDC, for preliminary testing, and tested positive for Ebola. A CDC test confirmed he had contracted the disease.

What Has Spencer Done Since Returning From Africa? 

Bassett said Spencer spent most of his time in his apartment, limiting his contact with people, but he had gone on a three-mile jog, taken the A, 1 and L subway trains, went to a few food establishments, and visited the High Line elevated park in Manhattan.

He also took an Uber livery car to The Gutter bowling alley in Brooklyn Wednesday night, where he met some friends and bowled.

"At the time he was at the bowling alley, he had no fever," Bassett stressed.

Who May Have Been Affected?

Health officials have been tracing Spencer's contacts to identify anyone who may be at risk. Bassett said officials were aware of four people who came in contact with Spencer: his fiancee, two friends, and the Uber driver.

The fiancee and friends who have been in direct contact with Spencer have been quarantined and are in good health, she said. They weren't yet being tested for Ebola because they were showing no symptoms, she said.

The Uber driver was determined not to be at risk because he had no direct physical contact with Spencer.

“Our understanding is that very few people were in direct contact with him," Mayor de Blasio said Thursday.

What Happens Next?

Spencer's apartment was cordoned off and the Department of Health was giving out information to area residents Thursday night. The bowling alley has been closed as a precaution, and will be examined Friday.

The Gutter said in a Facebook post Thursday that it had talked with health department officials, who determined that other bowlers weren't at risk for contracting the disease.

Officials have Spencer's MetroCard to track where he's traveled. They said there's a "close to nil" chance anyone was exposed on the subway.

"There is no reason for New Yorkers to be alarmed," de Blasio said. "We've been preparing for months for the threat of Ebola with clear and strong protocols that were scrupulously followed in this instance."

A specially trained team determined earlier this week that Bellevue Hospital has been trained in proper protocols and is well prepared to handle Ebola patients, the CDC said.

Several members of the CDC's rapid response team were on their way to New York on Thursday night, and others were arrived Friday morning.

President Obama spoke Thursday night to de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo and offered the federal government's support, The Associated Press reported. He asked them to stay in close touch with Ron Klain, his "Ebola czar," as well as public health officials in Washington.

<![CDATA[Drought's New Ally: Quagga Mussel]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 05:20:55 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/196*120/10-24_2014-mussel-drought.jpg

Emerging from obscurity, a tiny freshwater creature that has been a pest to boaters and water system managers for the past seven years is now making the drought even more difficult in one area.

The invasive pest is the Quagga mussel, a shellfish smaller than your thumbnail, but so prolific at reproducing it can leave room for little else.

"They will clog intake pipes. They will clog valves," said Jim Green, water systems operations manager for the Metropolitan Water District.

Native to Central Asia, quagga somehow made their way to North America. In 2007 they were discovered in the Colorado River, a major source of water for the Southwest, distributed via a network of canals and reservoirs, virtually all of which have now become quagga infested.

The MWD now spends $3 to 5 million a year on Quagga maintenance, removing the mussels from water delivery systems, only to see them reappear.

"There's no way to eradicate them," Green lamented.

There's no evidence Quagga present any health hazard, and so far, MWD has been able to work around them.

But now, in this third year of drought, Quagga have become a factor in preventing — or at least delaying — Colorado River water from being delivered to one district that could use it to replenish rapidly dropping groundwater.

Affected is the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District, an MWD member that serves 18 cities and nearly a million residents in its 144-square mile service area.

It's a region that depends heavily on groundwater, historically replenished mainly by runoff from the San Gabriel Mountains, and to a lesser extent by imported water — both of which have been drastically reduced during this drought.

The water table, as measured at the designated key well for the San Gabriel's main basin, is now 17 feet below what is considered the minimum operating level, according to the office of the Watermaster for the Main San Gabriel Basin.

To make up for the lack of runoff, the Upper Valley District has sought to purchase 19,000 acre feet of water from MWD.

But so far this year it has received only 11,000, all from northern California via the state water project and its California Aqueduct, which so far has eluded Quagga contamination.

Dry conditions to the north have slashed the availability of water from the aqueduct.

As the region's largest wholesaler, MWD does not rely solely on the state water project.

It also imports water from the Colorado River, which so far has been less affected by the drought, and despite the Quagga issues, has made up for much of the cut in state water project deliveries.

The problem for the Upper San Gabriel Valley is how to get Colorado River water to spreading grounds for replenishment.

There is no direct connection to the Ben Lomond Spreading Grounds in Covina; the only existing link is via the San Dimas Wash, a county flood control channel.

But because the flood control system remains Quagga free — and Los Angeles County Public Works is bound by force of law to try to keep it that way — deliveries of water from the Colorado River have been prohibited in flood control channels.

There have been efforts to develop a workaround.

MWD has been working with the California Department of Water Resources on a protocol for chlorinating Colorado River water to kill Quagga and enable the water to be transported through uninfested systems.

The permit process to allow the San Dimas Wash to carry treated Colorado River water to the Ben Lomond spreading grounds is now in the public comment phase, Green said.

But Ben Lomond and an adjacent sister basin can offer only so much help.

Together, they have a storage capacity of no more than 5,000 acre feet, which would help, but represents only a fraction of the needed replenishment, according to Shane Chapman, general manager of the Upper District.

A few miles to the west of the Ben Lomond, the flood control system leads to the much larger basins along the San Gabriel River bed.

However, because there are locations along the route which never dry out and could allow Quagga to become established, even chlorinating would not be considered a sufficient safeguard, and Colorado River water could not be delivered.

Currently, Upper Valley receives 50 acre feet a week of state project water from MWD.

Even before Upper Valley's emergency resolution called on MWD to deliver more water, MWD had agreed to triple weekly deliveries to 150 acre feet, but only for the next month.

Availability of water will be re-evaluated at that point, Green said.

Upper Valley's Chapman sees a need for more, but thinks that will buy the district some time.

"What Metropolitan is doing for us today will allow us to eke through until we see how this winter develops," Chapman said.

As it is, retail water companies that pump groundwater have run into situations in which the water table is dropping below well intakes.

The San Gabriel Valley Water Company lowered the intakes for three of its wells, according to Dan Arrighi, water resources manager.

Increasing the number of wells is not seen as a solution.

"It's just a matter of getting water to the wells," Arrighi said.

Though he would welcome the availability of more water for replenishment, he does not second guess the precautions being taken to prevent the spread of the Quagga mussel, and does not think it would be wise to risk infestation in the San Gabriel Valley.

"Then how do you get rid of it?"

In an effort to stop the Quagga's spread, boaters have been required to wipe down their vessels, and have them inspected before being launched in uninfected lakes and reservoirs.

The move to stop the Quagga's advance even has a slogan: "Don't move a mussel!"

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Suspects ID'd in Teen's Brutal Murder 30 Years Ago]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 21:03:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/claire-hough-murder-1984_5.jpg

Thirty years after a teenager’s body was found on the sand at Torrey Pines State Beach, San Diego homicide investigators say they have identified two suspects in her killing, one of whom was a San Diego Police criminalist.

Claire Hough, 14, was the victim of a brutal murder on Friday, Aug. 24, 1984.

The teenager had been staying with her grandparents who lived near the beach.

When she was found by police officers, she had been beaten, strangled and stabbed, and one of her breasts had been severed.

Using DNA evidence collected at the scene, homicide investigators were able to identity two potential suspects in her murder in November 2012.

Detectives say they spent the following two years putting together a case for prosecution. They were preparing to make an arrest when on Tuesday, Oct. 21, Kevin Charles Brown was found dead at Cuyamaca State Park on Highway 79.

Brown, 62, worked as a criminalist for the San Diego Police Laboratory from 1982 to April 2002.

Homicide investigators say they do not believe Brown had any association with the murder investigation or the process of evidence.

His death has initially been ruled a suicide.

The second suspect, Ronald Clyde Tatro, died in a boating accident in 2011. Tatro was 40 years old at the time of the killing.

According to homicide investigators the two men were identified as suspects in the case through DNA analysis.

Anyone with information related to this incident is encouraged to call the San Diego Police Department’s Homicide Unit or Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477.


This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Mourners Leave Items for Slain 9-Year-Old Girl]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 21:02:06 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/190*120/10-23-2014-Ximena-Meza-anaheim-girl-shot-3.jpg Balloons, stuffed animals and other items were left outside the residences in memory of a 9-year-old girl who was shot to death while playing outside her Anaheim home.

Photo Credit: Family Photo]]>
<![CDATA[Race for Calif. Education's Top Spot]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 08:25:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/10-20-2014-torlakson-tuck-education-election.jpg

With the midterm elections less than two weeks away, an unlikely race is heating up — the one for the California Department of Education’s top spot.

Former president of Green Dot Public Charter School Marshall Tuck and incumbent Tom Torlakson are vying for the position of state superintendent of schools.

Both candidates are Democrats with strong backing behind them.

Torlakson has the support of mainstream Democratic Party officeholders and the California Teacher’s Association, which is spending heavily on TV and radio advertisements.

Tuck, meanwhile, is the renegade Democrat, who ran then-Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s partnership for L.A. schools to improve the most underperforming schools in the city’s poorest areas.

He’s drawn support from education reformers, high-tech executives and even Hollywood stars. Celebrities Joel McHale, Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell, for example, starred in a web ad with Tuck.

Tuck says he wants to evaluate teachers based on merit and rid the state of the seniority system.

"That’s a piece of policy that doesn’t make sense for kids," Tuck said.

Torlakson, on the other hand, supports the tenure system and touts accomplishment during his own tenure as state superintendent.

"Our graduation rate went up to 80 percent, the highest in the state’s history for our high schools," Torlakson said. "Our eighth grade reading scores in California are higher than reading scores in any other state in the nation."

And while the position doesn’t hold much power, the race for the state’s schools chief is being watched around the nation.

The most recent poll has Tuck leading 31 to 28.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Menifee City Councilman Arrested in Corruption Probe]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 23:31:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lagenerics-1-a-breaking-news-la-generic-graphic-april2014.gif

Menifee City Councilman Thomas Fuhrman was arrested at a city park on Wednesday by DA's investigators and faces charges in connection with conflicts of interest involving a business he owns, prosecutors said.

Fuhrman, 70, was arrested at Wheatfield Park in Menifee, said Riverside County District Attorney spokesman John Hall.

He faces eight counts -- one felony and seven misdemeanors -- including conflict of interest, using his official position to influence a governmental decision in which he knows he has a financial interest, and not having a business license, officials said.

The charges relate to his not having a business license to run businesses or hold events at the Wooden Nickel Ranch that he owns in Menifee and council votes relating to the business, Hall said.

He was booked into jail at the Southwest Detention Center.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated John Hall as being with the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office. He is with the Riverside County District Attorney's Office.

<![CDATA[$57,500 Reward Offered to Find 9-Year-Old Girl's Killer]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 08:24:22 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/190*120/10-23-2014-Ximena-Meza-anaheim-girl-shot-3.jpg

A more than $50,000 reward was being offered Thursday to find the killer of a 9-year-old girl who was was playing with her friends in front of her family's Anaheim home when she was fatally shot.

Ximena Meza was struck by at least one round outside the 2300 block of Greenacre Avenue (map) on Wednesday and later died at UC Irvine Medical Center. She would have been 10 next month.

Her father told NBC4 he heard gunfire before his daughter ran back to the residence bleeding from her side.

"She ran in there and she died in my arms. I just held her...I know she is with God right now," father William Meza said. "We don't have any idea about it. They were just playing right there. We just heard the shots -- three shots. She ran inside the apartment. When I grabbed her she was bleeding from the side.

"She was amazing -- awesome daughter. I just love her. She is an angel," Meza said.

No arrests had been reported Thursday. What began as a $5,000 reward for information in her killing reached $57,500 Thursday night with funding from the Anaheim Police Officers Association, the city of Anaheim, and the Orange County Attorney's Association.

Community members packed a recreation center Thursday night to demand justice for Ximena.

"I don't live in the area but this is my community. My son goes to the junior high. My kid goes to the school with the girl who was murdered," one resident said. "It upsets me."

Balloons, stuffed animals and other items were left outside the residence in memory of Ximena, the oldest of three sisters whose family moved to the neighborhood about three months ago. School excellence awards for math, language arts and other achievements also were placed at the site of the shooting.

One of the certificates called the fifth-grade student a "shining star."

"I'm not angry, I just have pain in my heart," grandfather Alonso Ortiz said.

The coroner's office identified the victim Thursday morning, hours after a 12-year-old boy discovered his playmate had been wounded by the gunfire. The two were among several children playing on the sidewalk in front of the apartments next to Brookhurst Park, police said.

"Her eyes were just like all rolled back," Hector Jiminez said.

Police were called to the neighborhood southwest of the 5 Freeway by witnesses who reported the sound of gunfire, said Anaheim Police Lt. Bob Dunn said.

Authorities are attempting to determine whether Ximena was caught in crossfire of a group of boys or men nearby.

"One male exited the white car and fired several rounds in the direction of a group of males," Anaheim Police Chief Raul Quezada said. "Ximena was struck with one of the rounds. Following the shooting, the male re-entered the vehicle and left."

"We have very limited information on any type of suspects. All we know is that there were some males involved. Whether that's more than one or six or more, we don't know," Dunn said.

Neighbors told NBC4 they have witnessed gang activity in a nearby park, but authorities have not confirmed whether the shooting involved gang members.

Anaheim Police believe potential witnesses at the park and apartment buildings nearby may provide them with additional information. Quezada said solving the case was the department's "number one priority."

"Innocent children shouldn't be dying so young," said neighbor Kimberly Rodriguez, who grew up in the neighborhood and left a stuffed animal with a flower at the site of the shooting. "It's just ridiculous.

"I can't imagine what (the family) is going through right now."

Ximena's aunt started a GoFundMe account at GoFundMe.com/g6n68k.

Beverly White contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Family Photo]]>
<![CDATA["Look at This Shiz": Gory Hospital Pic Draws Lawsuit]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 15:30:32 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/285*120/county+usc+medical+center.JPG

A blind woman is suing a man who allegedly published to the web a gory photo of the woman's suicide attempt.

Suffering a bout of depression two-and-a-half years ago, the woman had stabbed pencils into her eyes and alleges that a nurse at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center took a photo of her that made its way this July onto a shock site. Shock sites collect disturbing images.

The woman's name was not released in the suit, filed Monday, Oct. 20, to protect her privacy, which she claims was violated by the release of the picture.

"This graphic and horrifying picture was taken without the knowledge, consent, or permission of Jane Doe," the complaint says.

Joshua Shivers is accused of uploading the photo and taking credit for its popularity -- over 192,000 views -- by boasting on a social network "I finally made it in life!!! Please check out my shiz" and linking to the image.

Also named in the lawsuit are Shiver's mother, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center and 20 of its employees.

The woman says in the suit that she recovered from her suicide, learning Braille and enrolling in college. But the knowledge that the photo is being circulated and may make people she meets aware of her suicide attempt was "deeply hurtful and humiliating," according to the suit.

<![CDATA[Company Paid Workers $1.21 An Hour]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 11:47:49 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/1022-2014-EFI.jpg

A Bay Area tech company has been slapped with a fine and ordered to pay thousands of dollars in back wages after a United States Department of Labor investigation revealed the company paid workers $1.21 an hour.

The Labor Department said about eight employees of Fremont-based Electronics For Imaging were flown in from India and worked 120-hour weeks to help with the installation of computers at the company's headquarters. The employees were paid their regular hourly wage in Indian rupees, which translated to $1.21.

EFI, which posted third-quarter revenue of nearly $200 million, released the following statement on Thursday: "During this process we unintentionally overlooked laws that require even foreign employees to be paid based on local US standards."

Last year, another company, Bloom Energy in Sunnyvale, faced similar charges and was fined for underpaying employees from Mexico an hourly wage of $2.66.

Federal officials said both cases are particularly egregious, given the booming labor market and the wealth in Silicon Valley.

"It is certainly outrageous and unacceptable for employers here in Silicon Valley to bring workers and pay less than the minimum wage," said Alberto Raymond, an assistant district director for the United States Department of Labor.

EFI has been ordered to pay $40,000 in back wages to the employees. In addition, the company was hit with a $3,500 fine.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Four Hurt in Residential Fire in Victorville]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 16:48:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lagenerics-1-a-breaking-news-la-generic-graphic-april2014.gif

Four people were airlifted to a hospital Thursday after they were burned in a garage fire in Victorville, officials said.

The incident was reported at 1:18 p.m. in the 16500 block of Lariat Road, said Cindy Bachman, a spokeswoman with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

Three people suffered burns over 20 percent of their bodies. The fourth victim suffered minor injuries. The victims were male and female, all under age 21.

The fire started the garage and had been extinguished by residents by the time fire crews arrived, said Tracey Martinez, a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Fire Department.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Earlier reports said there were five victims, but authorities later corrected the number to four.

<![CDATA[LGBT Inmates Sue Over Alleged Jailhouse Mistreatment]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 22:15:05 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/LAgenerics+prison+bars+jail.jpg

Fifteen former and current inmates at a San Bernardino County Jail are suing the county and sheriff’s officials over what they say is systematic discrimination and uneven treatment based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

The complaint filed Wednesday in a federal court alleges that gay, bisexual and transgender inmates at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga are consistently abused, neglected and denied equal access to rehabilitation programs and work opportunities.

"At West Valley Detention Center in San Bernardino County, gay, bisexual and transgender people are punished twice: first for the crimes they committed and second for being gay, bisexual and transgender," said Brendan Hamme, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, which is co-representing the inmates with a Pasadena law firm.

A San Bernardino County spokesman said Thursday that officials had not been served with paperwork, and had no comment.

Officials at the jail systematically transfer and isolate inmates who identify themselves as gay, bisexual or transgender to an area they call the "Alternative Lifestyle Tank," under the guise of protecting the inmates' safety, Hamme said.

Attorneys argue that such treatment violates inmates’ rights to equal protection under the California Constitution and the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Six of the 15 plaintiffs — all of whom identify as GBT — are currently housed in the Rancho Cucamonga facility, while four are former inmates and five are housed in other facilities where they allege similar practices occur.

Hamme said the ACLU has received dozens of corroborating statements and complaints from current and former inmates.

The complaint alleges that GBT inmates are locked up in the "Alternative Lifestyle Tank" for more than 22 hours a day "without any security justification."

They also argue they’re routinely denied opportunities for work credits and rehabilitation programs that would help in reducing their sentences.

Some inmates add that they’ve been retaliated against by San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department officials after complaining about conditions.

"Jails are simply not Constitution-free zones," Hamme said. "We want West Valley Detention Center to change its practice. We want GBT inmates to have the same level of access to services as their non-GBT counterparts."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Arrest in Slayings of Father, 12-Year-Old son]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 21:43:20 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/photo199.JPG

A suspect was arrested Thursday morning in the slayings of a father and son in Riverside County, Hemet police said.

Family identified the victims as Deon Boyd, 44, and Deon Boyd, Jr., 12, whose family said moved from Compton to Hemet four years ago. They were found dead at their home Wednesday night.

The suspect was identified by Hemet police as Qualik Walton, 23, the stepson of Boyd, Sr., and half brother to Boyd, Jr., who lived at the home with the victims.

"He was a dedicated father, and he was a really good, obedient kid," said one family member, who didn't want to be identified. "They didn't deserve this brutal killing."

Police had been investigating the suspected double homicide at a residence on the 400 block of Winthrop Drive after Deon Boyd's sister discovered the bodies.

The first 911 call was received at 11:28 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 22, police said.

Investigators also impounded a vehicle believed to be related to the killings.

Below: Deon Boyd, Jr., 12, and his father, Deon Boyd, 44, were allegedly murdered at a residence in Hemet. Their bodies were found late in the evening Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014.

Photo Credit: Family photo]]>
<![CDATA[Man Arrested After SWAT Responds to Homemade Cannon]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 09:48:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/10-23-14_+swat+homemade+cannon.jpg

A man who was allegedly firing a homemade cannon east of Palmdale in an unincorporated area of Los Angeles County was taken into custody Thursday morning, SWAT officials said.

Investigators responded around 5 a.m. to reports of a man firing a cannon in the 34000 block of 175th Street East in the Llano area, about 25 miles east of Palmdale, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The man was arrested by responding authorities and the area was deemed safe, officials said.

It was unclear what, if anything, was being fired at. Sheriff's at the Palmdale Station were handling the investigation.

The incident did not affect traffic on Highway 138.

Photo Credit: Special Enforcement Bureau/Twitter]]>
<![CDATA["Horrible Scene": Boy Killed in Upland Hit-and-Run]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 01:46:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/10-23-14_isaiah+dobine+upland+hit+and+run.jpg

An 11-year-old boy was killed in a hit-and-run while walking to an Upland school Thursday morning in what was described by one witness as "the most horrible scene I've ever seen in my life."

The boy was walking to Cabrillo Elementary School around 8 a.m. when authorities said he was hit by a Jeep Cherokee, possibly a 2008 model, in the area of Arrow Highway and Benson Avenue.

Family members said the boy's name was Isaiah Dobine.

"How can you just leave a defenseless child there and go about your day?" the boy's grandmother, Tamara Strong, told NBC4.

Witness Benny Dorado told NBC4 that he was with Isaiah in the moments following the collision.

"I saw him laying there. It was the most horrible scene I’ve ever seen in my life," Dorado said. "He was a little boy ... I was holding his hand the entire time."

Dorado said Isaiah had a small orange Bible with him.

"I picked it up and I just held it in my hand, and the paramedics did their job and I held (the Bible) in my hand, and I was praying for him," Dorado said.

Upland police said the boy was treated at the scene and then taken to San Antonio Community Hospital where he later died from his injuries.

Dobine's family said knowing Isaiah had a strong faith is helping them cope with his loss.

"This young man was so in touch with God, you wouldn't believe," stepfather Vincent Vega said.

"Had he seen this on the news, Isaiah would go pray," Strong said. "He would pray that the Lord would bring peace to the family that was going through this. That's the type of boy my grandson was."

Upland police arrested Jason Fehr, 25, shown at right, in connection with the hit-and-run. 

"We're fairly confident we have the right guy," Upland Police Lt. Alan Ansara said.

Police were still looking into what caused the crash, including community concerns over a lack of crossing guards near Cabrillo Elementary School.

Family members started a memorial fund for Isaiah and asked anyone who wishes to donate to visit his YouCaring page at www.youcaring.com/shelton.

<![CDATA[Kat Von D Tattoo Parlor Location Struck by Fire]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 09:59:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/KatVonD1.jpg

A two-alarm fire damaged a West Hollywood strip mall Thursday morning where celebrity tattoo artist Kat Von D has a tattoo parlor, according to an Los Angeles County Fire official.

About 50 firefighters responded to the call of a commercial fire, made at 4:07 a.m. Thursday, at a four-unit strip mall on the 1200 block of North La Brea Avenue, LA County Fire Inspector Rick Flores said.

Von D has two units in the block’s only strip mall, including her parlor High Voltage, which was the subject of a reality show called LA Ink that ran for four seasons.

The blaze was knocked down at 4:33 a.m., Flores said, though he didn’t confirm damage to any specific units. No injuries were reported.

A phone line at High Voltage was busy during several calls Thursday morning after the fire.

It’s the same block where a stolen Tesla was split in half on impact with a light pole at the conclusion of a high-speed police pursuit this July.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>