<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Chicago News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Fri, 18 Apr 2014 09:09:47 -0500 Fri, 18 Apr 2014 09:09:47 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Boy, 12, Shot in Altgeld Gardens]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 06:39:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/bullet+generic_722.jpg

A 12-year-old boy was shot Thursday night in the Altgeld Gardens neighborhood on Chicago's far south side, officials said.

The boy was shot in the leg about 8:45 p.m. after he walked past two males in the 13100 block of South Corliss Avenue and then heard shots and felt pain, said police News Affairs Officer Amina Greer.

He was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he was listed in stable condition, Greer said.

No one was in custody early Friday morning.

Photo Credit: William Hook, Flickr]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Rescued After 90 Minutes Under Water]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 06:21:35 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mchenry-county-pond-1.jpg

A 15-year-old boy was alive but reportedly in critical condition late Thursday night after spending roughly 90 minutes under water.

First responders said they pulled the teen from a pond off Haligus Road in Woodstock, northwest of Chicago.

Firefighters said parts of the pond are 20 feet deep, but the boy was ultimately found in eight feet of water. He was pulled out at 10:37 p.m., officials said, more than 90 minutes after the initial call for help went out.

The teen was transported to Cetegra Hospital-McHenry. Citing privacy laws, hospital officials declined to release any information so it was unclear early Friday morning how the teen was doing.

Officials from the McHenry County Sheriff's Office were investigating how the teen ended up in the water.

<![CDATA[Suspect in Gym Hidden Camera Case Faces Child Porn Charges]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:47:18 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Landt_Wenckebach.jpg

Investigators say a search of the Waukegan home of a man charged in connection with placing a hidden camera at a Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin gym has turned up child porn.

Karl J. Landt, 36, and Melissa A. Wenckebach, 27, face 11 felony counts of Capture an Image of Nudity Without Consent after two cameras were discovered in the women's locker room at RecPlex earlier this month.

Police say the child porn was discovered among several computer memory devices found in Lundt's home during an April 8 search, but the child porn was not captured on the cameras at the Pleasant Prairie fitness facility.

Illinois authorities have issued a criminal warrant for Landt for Possession of Child Pornography. He is currently in custody.

Police say Wenckebach has confessed to placing the cameras inside the facility.

Investigators say three of the images found on the hidden camera files appear to be juvenile females.

<![CDATA[2014 Playoffs: Blackhawks Versus Blues]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 23:46:04 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/hawks_blues_1_blurb_2.jpg Hawks try to knock off their higher-seeded rivals in the first round.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tractor Theft Endangers Exotic Animal Shelter ]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 05:56:34 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/settlers_pond.jpg

A theft at a large suburban shelter has put hundreds of animals in danger.

Thieves broke into the Settler's Pond Animal Shelter and stole the large tractor used to feed 350 animals. It happened in Beecher, about 40 miles south of Chicago.

The animal shelter houses a wide range of animals, such as alpacas, emus and rare tortoises.

Feeding the animals on the 60-acre shelter is a 12-hour daily job, but that time has been doubled with the loss of the Kubota utility vehicle that was stolen from a barn on the property.

Now, shelter owner Aircolina Jonota and her team of volunteers are forced to do the work by hand.

"We would put a 100 gallon water in there ... now we're carrying buckets, running hoses. It'll be a long time before we get another Kubota," shelter owner Aircolina Jonota said. "They had bolt cutters that they cut the lock off and the chain, and opened the door, went in and stole the Kubota."

Jonota says Settler's Pond is unique because it rescues exotic animals, but now their mission is in danger of veering off track.

"It's going to be hard for a long while," Jonota said.

Jonota says another tractor was also stolen five years ago. Replacing it will cost $17,000, money they say they don't have.

The shelter has a donation page on its website at SettlersPondShelter.net.

<![CDATA[First Lady Welcomes CPS Students on College Visit]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:45:54 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/michelle+obama+cps+howard.jpg

First Lady Michelle Obama and rapper Bow Wow welcomed dozens of Chicago high schoolers to Howard University in Washington Thursday afternoon.

The First Lady joined the students on their college visit to promote the President’s “North Star” initiative, which aims to bring America’s proportion of college graduates back to the highest in the world by 2020.

Obama, a Princeton University and Harvard Law alum, toured dorm rooms and posed for a group photo with the juniors and seniors from Chicago Public high schools as Howard students shouted from dorm room windows.

Donning a maroon pant suit and black flats the First Lady showed her school spirit by waving a “Howard hand” and speaking to the students from a campus food court.

Bow Wow, formerly L’il Bow Wow, joined the First Lady Thursday to help moderate the students’ discussion.

"I'm very proud of you guys," Bow Wow said, after starting off by shouting out Chicago neighborhoods.

Obama pumped her fist when he said “South Side.”

The 27-year-old co-host of BET’s “106 & Park,” a weekday show on which the First Lady has appeared, didn’t attend college and instead pursued an entertainment career, according to his manager Bart Waters.

The First Lady commended Bow Wow, a child rapping prodigy, for his support for education and said she was "very proud of this young man.”

She then went on to encourage the students to go to college or pursue other higher education.

"While there's a lot of work that needs to be done on our end," she said, referring to government, philanthropy and other resources, "you don't have time to wait for everybody to fix the system."

CPS officials said 37 students were on the campus visit from 18 area schools.

“This has been the most phenomenal day of my life,” Pamela Mondane, 17, told Obama.

The senior at Whitney Young, Obama’s alma mater, said she intended to enroll at Howard University later this year.

<![CDATA[Indiana High School Goes Viral With Epic Lip Dub Video]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 20:13:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/218*120/avon+viral+lip+dub.jpg

An Indiana school’s “lip dub” video has gone viral.

The toe-tapping film showcases thousands of Avon High School students and staff who lip sync to a “danthology” of 68 pop songs, including hits from Justin Timberlake, Lorde and Taylor Swift. And they did it all in the name of charity.

“Avon High School Lip Dub 2014” was produced to drum up excitement for the school’s dance marathon event this weekend, hoping to raise money for James Whitcomb Riley Hospital for Children.

The more than six-minute video posted to YouTube Saturday has already garnered more than 150,000 views.

Produced and filmed by student Suketu Patel, the video showcases thousands of students from cheerleaders to athletes to musicians to art students, and it was all done in one take.

The video starts in the school cafeteria and travels through the halls as students and staff, dressed in spirited school attire, sing and dance in a choreographed routine, culminating in the school gymnasium where thousands of students cheer and celebrate.

The school hopes the video will encourage donations ahead of their Riley Dance Marathon Saturday.

Donations can be made here.

<![CDATA[Suit Filed Against Cops Accused of Lying On Stand]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 05:56:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Cops_camera_investigates.jpg

Five police officers, three from Chicago and two from Glenview, all accused of lying on the witness stand in a Glenview drug case faced new problems Thursday, as the man who was the target of their alleged lies filed suit against them in federal court.

The dramatic revelation that the five officers had allegedly lied during testimony has called into question dozens of other cases which the officers have pending. The Cook County State's Attorney's office will only say it is reviewing the matter, but privately, authorities are clearly concerned about a case which fell apart, when the officers were confronted with a video which contradicted their sworn testimony.

That moment came two weeks ago, when the officers, three from Chicago and two from Glenview, testified in the case of a drug suspect named Joseph Sperling.

"If it could happen to me, it could honestly happen to anybody," Sperling said Thursday. "I just happen to be one of the lucky few that has a video that proves they are wrong."

Lucky indeed. There is no dispute that Sperling had a bagful of marijuana on his back seat. The officers testified that they pulled Sperling over under the pretense of a traffic stop, asked for his license and insurance, allowed him to exit his vehicle and walk to the rear, then removed the bag. Only then, they said, did they arrest and cuff him.

But during the rebuttal case, Sperling's lawyer confronted one of the officers with dashboard video from her squad car, which clearly showed the officers approaching Sperling's car and immediately taking him out of the car and putting him in handcuffs. Only then did they begin searching, finding the bag in the back seat.

"In America, you have a right not to be searched unless there is probable cause," his attorney Jon Loevy said. "They can't just walk up to you, arrest you, and say maybe you've got drugs, maybe we'll find them!"

Indeed, when the bombshell revelation came in open court, prosecutors did not even attempt to clean up the mess. They offered no closing argument, and the judge immediately announced she was granting a defense motion to nullify the case.

"Obviously this is very outrageous conduct," she said. "State, I expect you to do something about this, and to talk to all the superiors involved in this case. All of the officers lied on the stand today!"

The Cook County State's Attorney confirms that an investigation is underway.

"I'm going to drive it home so that officers everywhere know that you can't just operate outside the law and say whatever you want and get away with it," Sperling said.

Minutes after filing a civil rights suit against the five officers, alleging a conspiracy, his lawyer conceded that had the officers played by the book, there was a good chance Sperling would have been convicted.

"If what they had said in court was true then there would have been probable cause, and Joe would have been sentenced to years in prison," Loevy said. But he noted, that is not what happened.

"If the police want to make a case proving drug crimes, proving responsibility, they have to follow the law," he said. "And they can't lie."

Among the officers was Chicago Sgt. James Padar, who recently made the rounds with his father, promoting a book, "On Being a Cop", about their father-son adventures on the Chicago Police Force. Padar also made headlines last year, when he was accused by a fellow officer of reneging on a home remodeling job. The officer said he did work on Padar's summer home, but the sergeant refused to pay him, saying he had falsified the officer's official city attendance records instead.

All five officers have been stripped of their police powers and placed on leave, pending investigations of the Glenview case.

<![CDATA[Hawks Fans Gear Up For Another Magical Run]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 18:54:38 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/blackhawks_dinosaur_field.jpg

With the Blackhawks getting ready to kick off the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs, Blackhawks nation is rallying for another championship run.

Hawks pride is on display outside The Field Museum, where a brachiosaurus skeleton was outfitted with a Jonathon Toews No. 19 jersey.

"There's a framework that the jersey actually hangs on, that they invented that they installed," said exhibition director Ray Leo.

Hockey fans -- and players -- are known to be a superstitious bunch, and players Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad made sure to get their playoff mullets.

"They're very superstitious guys, so it's one of those things that they'll continue on every year during the playoffs," barber Carmelo Preiti said.

"It's flowing a little better, kind of like Billy Ray Cyrus," Preiti said of Kane's 2014 mullet.

Hawks fan Ryan O'Rourke is getting into the spirit as well, getting his mullet on Thursday -- even though his friends chickened out.

"I'm gonna trim it every time they win a series," O'Rourke said.

<![CDATA[Benny the Bull Waves Flag Atop Willis Tower]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 18:34:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Benny_Willis_Flag.jpg Are you ready for the playoffs? Chicago Bulls mascot Benny the Bull waved the team's flag on top of the Willis Tower Wednesday. The stunt was shot by BullsTV and will be incorporated into the "Benny around Chicago" playoff themed video that will be shown in the arena.]]> <![CDATA[Missing Mother, Two Kids Found Safe]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 21:00:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Duignan-Family.jpg

Chicago police early Thursday afternoon said a mother who ran off with her two children were located in eastern Wisconsin and were unharmed.

"Family and investigators are enroute to their location to continue the investigation and reunite the children with their father," police said in an email.

The family was located in a van in a mall parking lot in Grand Chute, outside of Green Bay. 

It's unclear if charges will be sought against Jamie Duignan, who is a detective with the Chicago Police Department. Police earlier in the morning issued an abduction alert, saying Duignan left the family home with her two children, 11-year-old Daniel Duignan and his brother, 9-year-old Owen Duignan.

The boys' uncle, Patrick Duignan, said Jamie Duignan's husband is a sergeant with the force and said the couple has been talking seriously about getting a divorce. Patrick Duignan said he didn't believe the mother would harm the boys but said family members were worried and scared.

In their alert, police said they believed Jamie Duignan was driving driving a gray 2003 Honda Odyssey minivan with Illinois license plate number 5138379. A family dog, an Old English Bulldog resembling a boxer breed, was thought to be traveling in the vehicle, police said.

Officials did not issue an Amber Alert in this case. In Illinois, an alert may be issued when the  following criteria is met: 

  • Law enforcement must confirm a child has been abducted
  • The child must be under the age of 16 or have a proven mental or physical disability
  • Law enforcement must believe the child is in danger of serious bodily harm or death
  • There is enough descriptive information about the child, abductor, and/or suspect’s vehicle to believe an immediate broadcast alert will help

A Chicago Police Department spokesperson said officials with the Illinois State Police, which issues Amber Alerts in the state, did not believe this case met the criteria.

<![CDATA[CTA Announces Plans For Red Line Extension and Rehab]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 17:04:29 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/CTA+rendering+red+line.jpg

Red Line riders have something to look forward to in the coming years.

Chicago Transit Authority officials announced Thursday plans for rehabbing five North Side stations and building a long-awaited South Side extension. The projects are part of the first phase of the city's Red and Purple Modernization program.

The stations at Wilson, Lawrence, Argyle, Berwyn and Bryn Mawr were specified for the rehabilitation, which could begin as early as 2017. The five stations are among the oldest, having been built between 1908 and 1923.

The CTA also announced plans to build a Red-Purple Line bypass north of Belmont to eliminate delays and speed up train service where the Red, Purple and Brown Lines intersect.

On the South Side, the CTA plans to extend tracks for 5.3 miles and add four new Red Line stations south of 95th Street. Stops would be located at 103rd, 111th, 115th and 130th Streets, and up to 2,000 “Park and Ride” spaces would be added.

No date has been set to begin the construction of the new stations, but plans for the route have been narrowed down to three options. The first option is to build tracks parallel to the Union Pacific freight tracks from 98th Street to 130th Street. The second option is to build elevated tracks above Halsted Street. The final option is to build a bus-rapid transit route to 130th Street.

Last year, the CTA closed nine Red Line stops south of Roosevelt Road as part of the Red Line South Track Renewal Project. The $425 construction project repaired the crumbling tracks and reduced commute times.


Photo Credit: CTA]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Confections Make List of Nation's Top Cupcakes]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:07:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/cupcakes_generic.jpg

Add cupcakes to the list of Chicago foods ranked among the best in the nation.

Four city bakeries have made the Daily Meal’s list of “101 Best Cupcakes in America.”

Taking the lead for Chicago as no. 30 was the Loop’s gourmet cupcake shop Sugar Bliss Cake Boutique.

According to the Daily meal, Sugar Bliss Cake Boutique cupcakes are “more like an experience than just a dessert treat.”

Molly’s cupcakes in Lincoln Park ranked as no. 61 and Swirlz Cupcakes and West Town Bakery and Diner followed as no. 83 and 89.

Rankings were based on criteria that included menu variety, presentation, social media, online reviews, culinary value and variety.

Taking the top confection spot was Pink Cake Box in New Jersey, which snagged two other spots on the list.

Chicago also dominated the Daily Meal's list of America's top 25 doughnuts, and the 101 best pizzas in America.

Photo Credit: www.jupiterimages.com/unlimited]]>
<![CDATA[Blackhawks' Road to a Repeat Begins Thursday]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:53:20 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/blackhawks+blues+getty+2013.jpg

When it comes to teams like the Chicago Blackhawks who come into every season with high expectations, the regular season is nothing but a warm-up act for the postseason. For the Hawks, the real test begins now.

The team is down in St. Louis getting ready for the start of a playoff run that they hope will result in their second consecutive championship and third title in five seasons. Hoisting the Stanley Cup again would not only give the Hawks those impressive marks over the past several seasons, but would also make them the first repeat champions in the NHL since the Detroit Red Wings won back to back championships in 1997 and 1998.

In many ways, the gauntlet that the Hawks would have to travel through to get to that promised land is even tougher than it was last season. The Hawks had home ice advantage throughout the playoffs last year, and it ended up proving crucial as they closed out their first three series on United Center ice. They won’t have that luxury this year thanks to their third place finish in the Central Division, and starting off the postseason on the road against a team that went nearly an entire season without losing a game in regulation against a Central Division foe is going to be a daunting task.

Helping the Hawks as they prepare for a playoff run is the fact that they have gotten back both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane from injury. Both players missed the final games of the regular season, Toews with an upper body injury and Kane with a leg ailment, but both have been skating since last week and are expected to be in the lineup when the puck drops on Thursday night.

The infusion of talent into the lineup is going to have a ripple effect on the rest of the Hawks, as it will allow Joel Quenneville to tinker with his lines to the degree that he likes to do. Using the team’s full depth to his advantage, Quenneville will try to exploit some of the health issues that the Blues are having at the forward position, as TJ Oshie and Patrick Berglund will both be out of the lineup for St. Louis in Game 1 of the series.

Amping up the speed among his forwards and rolling four lines capable of scoring will make for an interesting challenge for a Blues team that has struggled to score goals lately, and if they can’t adjust quickly to the Hawks’ aggressive style, they could be in for a world of hurt once things get started.

All of that being said, the Hawks know that they don’t have the luxury of cruising into the playoffs on a tidal wave of momentum like they did last year. Chicago had basically steamrolled everyone in their path as they won the 2013 title, losing only seven games in regulation as they romped through the regular season. This season, the Hawks have struggled at times, including a three game losing streak in late March, but they will try to use that experience with adversity to their advantage as they begin the long and arduous slog through the Western Conference on Thursday night.

In all likelihood, this ride will be a bumpier one for the Hawks and their fans if the team is to repeat its successes from a season ago, but if one is being totally honest, playoff hockey is always a grind, so this year will be no exception.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Meet "The Voice" Contestant Tess Boyer]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:49:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/THE_VOICE_FOR_THE_WEB_14116732_1200x675_229468227815.jpg Tess Boyer hails from Glen Carbon, Il. She's competing on NBC's hit show "The Voice" this season and recently made the Top 12. NBC 5 spoke to her about her time on the show so far.]]> <![CDATA[Mayor Assembles Task Force for George Lucas Museum]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:41:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/george-lucas-r2d2.jpg

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has created a task force of community leaders to decide on a potential location for George Lucas' arts museum.

The 12-member team is tasked with determining a location that is easy to get to and large enough to host a museum comparable to the city's other major cultural institutions. In addition, the site must not require taxpayer dollars to pay for it.

The task force will accept public input before making recommendations by mid-May. The chosen location will compete against proposed locations in other cities, including San Francisco, where Lucas spent most of his life.

Members of the task force include community and cultural leaders, local development practitioners and urban planners, including:

  • Ted Beattie, president and CEO of the Shedd Aquarium
  • Lee Bey, special projects manager at the University of Chicago
  • Gia Biagi, chief of staff at the Chicago Park District
  • Michelle Boone, commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events
  • Gillian Darlow, chief executive officer of the Polk Bros. Foundation
  • Nilda Esparza, director of youth and cultural programming at Latinos Progresando
  • Jeanne Gang, founder and principal of Studio Gang Architects
  • Walter Massey, president of the School of the Art Institute
  • Jorge Ramirez, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor
  • Mary Ann Smith, former alderman of the 48th ward
  • Jackie Samuel, director of the New Communities Program at Claretian Associates
  • Kurt Summers, senior vice president of Grosvenor Capital Management

Star Wars creator George Lucas wants to create the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum to display his collection of Norman Rockwell paintings and Star Wars memorabilia. Lucas had his eye on Chicago to host the museum after discussions with leaders in San Francisco fell through.

The museum would feature an exhibit with props, costumes and designs from Lucas' films. Other exhibits would feature digital art and pieces from Lucas's private art collection, which includes modern masterpieces created by the likes of Norman Rockwell, Maxfield Parrish and N.C. Wyeth.

Lucas would pay the $300 million price tag for this museum out of his own pocket and would endow another $400 million to keep it running.

Lucas, 69, already has ties to Chicago. He and his wife, Mellody Hobson, in February donated $25 million to the University of Chicago. Hobson is the president of the Chicago firm Ariel Investments. The filmmaker last year donated another $25 million to After School Matters, the charity created by former Chicago first lady Maggie Daley.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LEGOLAND to Host Job Fair]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:51:22 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/LEGO-logo.jpg

If you’re looking for a job and have a love for LEGOs you might be in luck.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago is holding its first-ever job fair Tuesday.

Recruiters are looking for “outgoing and qualified individuals” for positions in model building, entertainment, admissions, retail and café.

“We’re looking for motivated individuals who are creative, have an appreciation for LEGO, enjoy working with our guests and can be a role model for the many children who visit the Center,” said Nick Miller, general manager of LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago.

Job fair attendees will have the opportunity to meet with a LEGOLAND Discover Center recruiter and applicants for the center’s model builder team will also take part in individual and group LEGO brick building challenges.

The event will be held from 7-9 p.m. at the center at 601 N. Martingale Rd. in Schaumburg.

<![CDATA[Emanuel Urges State to Pitch in $100M for Obama Library]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 11:15:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/rahm+obama.jpg

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is urging Illinois lawmakers to devote $100 million in state funds to help bring President Barack Obama's presidential museum and library to the city.

Emanuel spoke Thursday before the Illinois House's Executive Committee.
He says the money would make Chicago's bid for the library more competitive and that the investment would return dividends "well beyond" $100 million.
Emanuel also says the funding would be a fitting way to welcome Obama back to his hometown after his term is up.
Several sites — most on Chicago's South Side — want to become home to the library and museum. Hawaii and New York also are vying for it.
The $100 million for construction costs would be part of a new capital construction plan, which the Legislature must approve.


Photo Credit: flickr.com//whitehouse]]>
<![CDATA[Honoring Chicagoland's Fallen Heroes]]> Sat, 10 Nov 2012 20:11:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/american-flag1.jpg NBC Chicago salutes the men and women in the armed forces who have died in combat.

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Top Bears Draft Picks: #22 Devin Hester]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 10:32:06 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP103768767388_1.jpg

As the NFL Draft approaches, Grizzly Detail is counting down the Top 30 draft picks in Chicago Bears history. In order to qualify for this list, a player must have worn a Bears uniform for at least five seasons (sorry Rosevelt Colvin and Wilber Marshall), and players who were selected in lower rounds of the draft will have an advantage in this countdown.

We continue the countdown with the greatest kick returner in NFL history, as Devin Hester checks into our list in the #22 slot.

The Details:

Drafted in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft, Hester immediately burst onto the scene with the Bears and set about smashing records throughout the NFL. In his first season alone, Hester picked up five touchdown returns (three punts, two kick-offs), and transformed the Bears’ special teams unit from an asset into an explosive phase of the game.

Overall in his career with the Bears, Hester returned 13 punts for touchdowns and added five more kick-off returns for scores, including a career long 98-yarder during the 2011 season. He has since moved on to greener pastures with the Atlanta Falcons, but his legacy will remain strong for what he did during his tenure with the team that drafted him.

Career Highlights:

If there is any one moment in Hester’s career that will define him, it will be the kick-off return that opened Super Bowl XLI that will be remembered forever. His cut up the field to start the game against the Indianapolis Colts electrified the soaking wet crowd in Miami, and even though the joy was short-lived as the Bears went on to be trounced in the game, it was still a stirring reminder of the magic he was capable of.

Hester naturally had his share of bad moments in addition to those moments of glory. He never really stood out when he was playing defensive back for the Bears, the position at which he was drafted, and even when he transitioned to wide receiver later in his career, he didn’t fare much better. He did snare 14 touchdown grabs in 123 games, but his effectiveness was limited by poor route running and an inability to adjust to coverages that teams would throw at him.

It was ultimately that inability to stand out as a wide-out that led Marc Trestman to put Hester in strictly for return duties during the 2013 season, and likely was the reason why the team did not re-sign him when his contract expired. The move ruffled some feathers, including those of linebacker Lance Briggs, but the team simply couldn’t afford to keep a luxury item like Hester at the price that other teams were willing to pay for his services.

Our Reasoning:

As the only special teamer on this list, Hester certainly is worthy of the slot at which he ended up. He redefined the expectations for what a kick returner can do during his time with the team, and despite his failure to adjust effectively to the wide receiver position, he still managed to make a huge impact with the squad.

That being said, Hester would have ranked higher both if he had managed to play another position besides that of a return man AND if he had continued the stellar production that he put up in his first few years in the league. He was slowed considerably by the adjustments teams made when they were kicking (or more often, not kicking) to him, but the fact is that he lost a step after those first few seasons, and didn’t keep the closing speed that made him such a lethal weapon in the first place.


Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Madhouse Enforcer's First Round Playoff Predictions]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:56:51 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/game+5-7.jpg

After several days of pundits and fans getting themselves psyched up, the race for the Stanley Cup began in earnest on Wednesday night as the NHL playoffs started. 

Three different series begin on the postseason’s opening night, with the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning opening things up in the East. The Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins will also begin their series, as will the Dallas Stars and Anaheim Ducks.

With those series set to kick off, and the four more series that begin on Thursday night (including the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks), it seems like it’d be an appropriate time for us to make our full postseason picks, which will either be a brilliant display of prognostication or a wretched failure.

At any rate, we’ll all find out together when the puck drops Wednesday. Here they are:

Eastern Conference First Round:

Montreal Over Tampa Bay, Seven Games

Boston Over Detroit, Five Games

The 2-vs-3 matchup in the Atlantic Division is one of the most intriguing in the playoffs, with the upstart Lightning playing against a Canadiens team that many experts have questioned because of their lack of size all season long. We’re going to go with the Canadiens narrowly in this one, but it’s truly a coin flip series.

As for the Boston-Detroit series, the Bruins have been one of the hottest teams in the league, and the President’s Trophy champions shouldn’t have much of a problem with the Red Wings. Guys like Patrice Bergeron, David Krecji, and Zdeno Chara are eager to prove that they are the top dog in the league, and they should come out with a fire in their belly to start the postseason.

Pittsburgh Over Columbus, Six Games

Philadelphia Over New York, Six Games

Both of the playoff matchups in the Metropolitan Division have the potential to be excellent. The Blue Jackets are coming into the playoffs eager to prove that they aren’t a fluke, and the Penguins have a track record for not playing well on the defensive side of things once the bell rings. That being said, the Penguins have a lot to prove, and it’s hard to imagine that even the most motivated Blue Jacket team could knock them off.

As for the other series, the Flyers have a lot going for them despite not having home ice advantage in the series. Claude Giroux has been playing stellar hockey as of late, and with a strong supporting cast, they should be able to tame the Blue Shirts in the first round.

Western Conference First Round:

Colorado Over Minnesota, Seven Games

Chicago Over St. Louis, Six Games

One of the matchups that a lot of experts and fans have been picking as an upset has been the Colorado-Minnesota series, with the Wild getting a lot of love as they try to knock off the Central Division champions. We don’t really share that optimism, as Colorado’s athleticism and red-hot play as of late should carry the day…..but only by just enough.

In the other series, the Blues are looking like they’ll finally get healthy against the Hawks, but we’re still going to pick the defending champions in this series. The Hawks seem like they’ve finally figured out the way to beat the Blues, using their speed and puck possession while avoiding getting into a battle of physicality, and getting Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews back should give Chicago a significant boost.

Anaheim Over Dallas, Six Games

San Jose Over Los Angeles, Six Games

The Ducks are another team that plenty of people don’t think is for real, but against a team like the Stars, they should really shine. The motivation of trying to get Teemu Selanne one more Stanley Cup, and the fact they have two of the most dynamic scorers in the league in Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, should be enough to overcome Tyler Seguin and the upstart Stars.

In the other series, the Sharks have plenty to prove as they take on the 2012 Cup champions. They are a perennial underachiever in the postseason, but with incredible depth up the middle of the ice with guys like Logan Couture, Joe Thornton, and Joe Pavelski, the Sharks could be one of the most dangerous teams in the postseason, and we feel that they will show that in the first round.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Man Punched, Kicked Passenger on CTA Train: Police]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 10:53:59 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/skokie-cta-attack.jpg

A passenger on a Chicago Transit Authority Yellow Line train was knocked to the floor, punched and kicked after telling another to leave him alone, police said.

The incident happened Friday, March 28 but wasn't reported until early the following morning when the victim went to the hospital, police said.

According to authorities, a man got on Skokie Swift train with a purple and white bicycle at about 8:45 p.m. on March 28. He began yelling at other passengers and directed at least one comment to the victim.

The victim told the man with the bicycle to leave him alone, and that's when the man approached the passenger, grabbed his jacket and pulled it over his head before punching him. The attacker then knocked the victim to the floor and kicked him in the face, police said.

The victim suffered "severe bruising" and was taken to an area hospital as a result of the incident, police said.

Chicago police described the victim as a senior citizen but did not provide an exact age.

The attacker was described as an Asian man between 22 and 27 years of age. He stands about 5 feet, 4 inches and 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighs about 130 pounds, police said. He was wearing a blue baseball cap with a red iron cross logo on the front, a black jacket with logos on the upper sleeves of both arms and the letter "A"on the back of the jacket with an animal logo on the front, black jeans and black gym shoes, police said.

Anyone who can identify the attacker or has information about the incident is asked to call Skokie police at 847-982-5900.

<![CDATA[Lyons Residents Speak Out Following Police Cuts]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 09:11:51 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/220*120/lyons+police+cuts.jpg

Residents of a southwest Chicago suburb are speaking out after one-third of the area's police force was cut last week.

"I'm kind of appalled," said Lyons resident Cindy Mateck. "Let's say three cops are out and there is a domestic or something, they need more than one cop. It's really sad."

Seven police officers were cut last Friday following unsuccessful negotiation talks between the village and police union over raises, according to the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police.

"Concerning financial constraints, it was something that was necessary," said Mayor Christopher Getty. "We still believe our community will be safe."

According to Tamara Cummings with the Illinois FOP General Council, the cuts eliminated the detectives division along with all special units, leaving 16 officers for the area’s 10,000 residents.

“The majority [of officers cut] are experienced officers who’d been with the department for a while,” the Illinois FOP said in a statement. “One has nearly 10 years of experience. He and the others were let go without a severance package.”

In a village meeting Wednesday, some residents argued the board gave themselves raises and healthcare benefits at the expense of their safety and the safety of the officers.

"These cops are going to be on calls, who is going to back them up?" said resident Jodi Jaras.

Others, however, said they're confident with the board's decision. Former mayor Marie Vachata believes this will not affect safety in the area.

"I don't have a problem," she said. "I'm not afraid."

<![CDATA[Opponents of Flooding Prevention Plan Fear Contamination]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:56:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/211*120/investigates+water+pkg.png

A northern suburb’s plan to combat frequent flooding may wind up impacting its beaches and the source of drinking water for millions of people, according to opponents of a proposed tunnel project in Winnetka.

“The tunnel will pollute. Make no mistake about that,” said tunnel opponent Matt Wendt.

The proposed tunnel would send excessive storm water runoff down a 7900 foot pipeline along Willow Road and into Lake Michigan. The plan is expected to include a treatment mechanism designed to keep contaminants out of the lake.

However, Wendt and other residents who argue against the project said chemicals from lawns and streets would still manage to slip into Lake Michigan. They also fear the village’s water quality problems would be made even worse by the tunnel. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency determined four of the village’s beaches to be impaired last year due to high bacteria levels.

The Better Government Association is researching the issue and said it has ramifications all along the shore in communities that need to balance flood control and concerns about Lake Michigan.

“What Winnetka does to control their flooding is going to have an impact on not only its nearby neighbors but on all of us who use the lake,” said Brett Chase of the BGA.

While village leaders said the project would not go forward if strict water quality standards cannot be met, Winnetka is facing a major dilemma: what to do with emergency storm water runoff the next time a 100 year flood hits the area.

Major floods in 2008, 2011 and 2013 damaged buildings and flooded basements in parts of Winnetka.

“Eighteen inches of standing water represent sort of a life safety hazard for people,” tunnel supporter Christina Codo said. “You can’t get access to the streets.”

Storm water on the village’s east side already enters Lake Michigan through water outlets and natural streams. The village said it uses existing drainage infrastructure in the western part of Winnetka to keep as much runoff water flowing west as possible.

During severe storms, however, areas holding water runoff west of the village fill up fast.

The village has awarded a contract to the engineering firm MWH to provide design engineering and permitting services to move the project forward. The estimated cost of the tunnel project is $34.5 million.

“The village looked at a number of options to provide flood risk reduction, and the least costly and most feasible project to protect structures against flooding from large rain events is the proposed Willow Road Project,” wrote village manager Robert Bahan in an email to NBC 5 Investigates.

The project has the support of the Winnetka Homeowners Association (WHOA).

“This would more than help,” said WHOA co-manager Ann Dillon.

However, a slight majority of residents voted against the project in a March advisory referendum.

“This is a regional issue. The lake belongs to everybody and any pollution we put in the lake is going to Wilmette, to Evanston, to Chicago, to Calumet and on and on,” said opponent Debbie Ross.

Ross said the village and its residents should consider more environmentally-friendly options to prevent floods, such as permeable surfaces and additional green infrastructure.

Village leaders said the referendum vote would not end the project or relieve the Village Council of its statutory duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of thousands of residents.

“The Village has been working on the storm water program for several years, cannon further delay this important work and needs to continue to develop effective solutions to the flooding problem,” Bahan wrote.

The project is by no means a done deal.

Winnetka must go through a rigorous permitting process before tunnel construction could begin. The primary regulatory agencies that must approve the project include the Illinois EPA, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and the US Army Corp of Engineers.

“We want to make sure that as storm water is being managed on a quantity side that they’re also managing it from a quality standpoint,” said Marcia Willhite of the Illinois EPA.


<![CDATA[Chicago to Celebrate Record Store Day]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 19:36:20 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000006848322_1200x675_228809795505.jpg Chicago record stores are preparing for a rush of customers honoring Record Store Day Saturday. LeeAnn Trotter reports.]]> <![CDATA[Chicago Casino Plan Draws Support at Hearing]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 05:23:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/%5BNECN%5DCasino.jpg

A proposal for a state-owned Chicago casino won praise Wednesday from business groups and a warmer reception from a state regulatory board than past attempts to expand gambling, but the plan also drew criticism from downstate officials and the horse racing industry who said it would cheat them out of needed revenues and jobs.

The hearing in Chicago, which wasn't heated like public exchanges in other parts of Illinois, was the latest attempt to bolster gambling, but questions were also raised about support for the legislation in an election year where other major fiscal issues are pending. Previous bills approved by legislators were twice rejected by Gov. Pat Quinn largely over ethical concerns about corruption, and last year's bill calling for five casinos fizzled out after the Illinois Gaming Board scrutinized plans that would have allowed Chicago to have authority over a casino.

State Rep. Bob Rita, a Blue Island Democrat sponsoring the plans, said he wanted to gauge interest in a Chicago-only plan and give lawmakers options. Two proposals are on the table: One adds five casinos, including in Chicago, plus slots at racetracks. The other calls for a mega-casino in Chicago. In both plans, the Chicago casino would be state run, which Rita said was in response to past criticism.

Though neither Quinn nor Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel have weighed in recently, the board that regulates Illinois' 10 existing casinos highlighted the changes.
"There are certainly improvements," gaming board attorney Caleb Melamed told lawmakers. "This is a significantly different piece of legislation than previous years."
He voiced other concerns about the potential of saturating the market with other Chicago area casinos. He also questioned a state-run casino, a model that's unusual among other states. The Chicago Crime Commission objected to the structure, calling for an operator-owned model like other casinos and more protections against corruption. Chicago area pastors and anti-gambling groups also warned lawmakers of possible social costs on either plan, such as more people hooked on gambling.
"Casino gambling is really nothing more than an increased tax on those who can't afford it," said Matt Fitzgerald, senior pastor at St. Pauls United Church of Christ in Chicago.
Noticeably absent from Wednesday's hearing were Chicago city officials, even while chamber of commerce groups said a downtown Chicago casino — in either plan — would create jobs and benefit the economy with estimated revenues between $450 million to $950 million. The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and urban planners envisioned a Chicago casino as a draw for tourists and locals, with shopping and live shows. They said possible locations included the Congress Plaza Hotel, the top floors of a downtown Macy's department store or the James R. Thompson Center, which a state building.
"Chicago is an incredible prize for the gaming industry," said Kim Goluska, president of Chicago Consultants Studio Inc. "The revenues are going to be huge no matter what they are."
Still, Emanuel spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton said the mayor wouldn't address expanded gambling until the city solved its pension problem. State lawmakers have approved a partial fix to Chicago's pension problem, but Quinn hasn't indicated if he'll sign it. Quinn's spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said the Chicago Democrat hadn't seen the two gambling expansion plans.
Rita said he hadn't spoken to either Quinn or Emanuel about the proposals, but wanted to call his legislation for a vote before the end of May. He's said that the political climate in Springfield could be more favorable than last year when lawmakers were considering plans to address the pension system, which is the worst-funded in the nation. Quinn has since signed a pension law. Lawmakers are also looking for additional revenue sources in this election year as the temporary income tax increase rolls back next year and creates the potential for major budget cuts.
One of his current plans calls for a Chicago casino with up to 10,000 terminals that'll share revenues; Half would go to Chicago and the other half statewide for education and capital construction spending. The other plan would call for a 4,000 to 6,000-spot Chicago casino and smaller, 1,200-position ones in a suburb south of Chicago and the counties of Lake, Winnebago and Vermilion. It would also allow for slot machines at most horse racetracks. The second plan would also allow for revenue sharing.
The idea to separate out the Chicago casino has already drawn opposition from the Illinois' horse racing industry and mayors elsewhere, particularly in economically-depressed areas. They've argued for job creation with the five-casino proposal. The Illinois Casino Gaming Association, which represents most of the state's casinos, said it opposed both plans citing revenue drops over the years and market saturation.
<![CDATA[Boy, 12, Killed in Hit-and-Run with Semi in Whiting]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 11:27:15 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/angel-villafuerte.jpg

A 12-year-old boy was struck and killed by a semi Wednesday afternoon in an apparent hit-and-run in Whiting, Ind., according to authorities.

Police said two brothers were walking home from school when the 12-year-old boy attempted to cross a street near 119th Street and Indianapolis Boulevard.

Officials said his brother tried to stop him but the boy was hit by a semi, which authorities say did not stop.

"A car stopped in front of here right behind me and approached the young little boy and checked his pulse and when he checked his pulse the brother just broke down," said witness George Torres. "He just turned pale and couldn’t move."

The Lake County Coroner's office identified the boy as 12-year-old Angel Villafuerte, and said the cause of death was blunt force trauma from a motor vehicle accident.

According to Whiting Police Chief Stephen Miller, police managed to stop a flatbed semi a few miles from the scene and were inspecting the truck for evidence and questioning the driver.

"We got the description of the truck from the witnesses at the scene and squad officers from my department approximately three miles from here pulled over a vehicle matching that description," Miller said.

Miller said officials believe the driver did see the boy.

Indianapolis Boulevard was shut down Wednesday afternoon and Indiana State Police are investigating.

Villafuerte's death was the second fatal hit-and-run in northwest Indiana this week. A 13-year-old boy was killed in a hit-and-run in Gary on Sunday.

Malik Herron, 13, and another boy, Robert Davis, were walking on the 4900 block of Vermont Street on Saturday evening when a large dark-colored vehicle left the roadway and struck them. Herron was later pronounced dead and Davis was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Officials said a vehicle that may have something to do with the crash has been located.

<![CDATA[Wife of Man Killed After Swan Attack Files Suit]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 09:12:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Anthony-Hensley.jpg

The wife of a man who drowned after he was attacked by swan two years ago is suing his employer and the condo complex where the swan was kept.

The lawsuit filed Monday in Cook County Circuit Court on behalf of Amy Hensley claims a swan attack caused or contributed to the drowning of Anthony Hensley and names Bay Colony Drive condo complex, Hillcrest Property Management and Hensley’s employer Knox Swan and Dog, LLC.

A condominium association for a complex in the 9300 block of Bay Colony Drive in an unincorporated area of Cook County near Des Plaines contracted a company to keep the geese away from the area, and the method they used to keep the geese away was to bring a swan into a nearby pond, Cook County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Frank Bilecki explained.

Anthony Hensley of Villa Park worked for the company that brought the swan into the pond and he was in a kayak in the pond, apparently checking on the swan when, investigators believe, he either got too close to the swan or the swan’s nesting area, and the swan advanced toward him, Bilecki said.

Investigators from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration worked to determine if any safety violations contributed to Hensley's death. The agency ultimately cleared his employer, saying it found no violations.

The lawsuit claims the “presence of the mute swans on the premises rendered it unreasonably dangerous” and says the defendants “knew or should have known that mute swans are strongly territorial with a dangerous propensity to attack.”

<![CDATA[Catholics Prepare for Popes' Canonization in Rome]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:06:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000006847477_1200x675_228702787518.jpg Catholics around the world are gearing up for the April 27 canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII. Mary Ann Ahern reports.]]> <![CDATA[Chicago Congressman Heads to Ukraine]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 16:20:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/219*120/Mike-Quigley2-30307.jpg

Congressman Mike Quigley is headed to the chaos of Ukraine. The North Side congressman will be part of a delegation that leaves in the next few days.

Quigley's district is home to a large number of Ukrainian-Americans.

“It’s always been the role of the U.S to help,” Quigley said during an interview on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight that will air at 7 p.m.

Quigley said it is in the interest of the United States to become involved because the United Nations is stymied.

He cited economic sanctions employed by the U.S. against Russia in an attempt to make the government of Vladimir Putin cease further aggression into Ukraine. 

“I think the sanctions are starting to work,” Quigley said, “I think we let sanctions work as much as possible.”

Calling Putin an opportunist who will go as far as he can, Quigley said, “I think he’s [Putin] beginning to understand conflict is bad for business.”

However, critics of the Obama administration argue that harsh rhetoric and even sanctions will not alter Russia's course.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Police Officers Save Kids From Burning House]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:04:44 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chicago+hero+cops+tate+smith.jpg

Chicago Police officers Samantha Smith and Kevin Tate say they were just doing their job when they saved two children Tuesday night from a house fire in West Pullman.

"I don't feel like we're heroes," Smith told reporters Wednesday. "I just feel like God put us in that place."

"We had to figure out something to do to get the kids," Tate said.

The officers were patrolling the area at about 6:10 p.m. when they saw smoke in the 11600 block of South Michigan Avenue.

Jumping out of their car and running toward the home, Smith and Tate said they saw kids inside a two-story frame building pushing the glass out of a window to try and get out.

Tate, who has nine years on the force, said they stood under the window and urged an 8-year-old boy to jump into their arms.

"He was slightly hesitant but he got [himself] out of the window and then he kind of jumped straight out," Tate said.

The next catch was a little more awkward. Smith, who has 11 years on the force, said a 15-year-old "leaped" out of the window. Though the child wasn't injured, Smith hurt her arm. She said she's just glad the kids were OK.

"I feel great knowing that they were out safely and not one of them was injured at all," she said. "That's a blessing."

The Chicago Fire Department rescued an elderly resident from the home, and the officers assisted. The smoke was very heavy, and they couldn't get inside the home.

"You can't train for that. You hear voices and hear people that need help and you just have to do what you need to do."

Photo Credit: NBCChicago.com]]>
<![CDATA[Raw: Robots Pull Apart Package]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:20:28 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000006843652_1200x675_228601923561.jpg A portion of Chicago's Lake Shore Drive was shut down Wednesday afternoon because of a suspicious package. Watch as remote-controlled robots open the bag.]]> <![CDATA[Suspicious Package Shuts Down LSD]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 07:43:44 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/LSD+closed+package+new.jpg

An all-clear has been issued after Chicago Police shut down a portion of Lake Shore Drive Wednesday afternoon for a suspicious package found in the Uptown neighborhood.

North and southbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive were closed between Wilson and Foster avenues for more than an hour beginning around 1 p.m. Sky5 helicopter video of the scene showed vehicles being rerouted off the drive in both directions, causing major backups.

Police News Affairs said the package was discovered at Lawrence Avenue and Lake Shore Drive.

As of 2:20 p.m. southbound lanes were reopened. Northbound lanes were reopened about 10 minutes later.

Details weren't immediately known about the object, but remote-controlled robots were seen investigating and pulling apart a blue bag. Bomb and Arson units were on the scene.

Police confirmed the bag contained a sleeping bag.


Photo Credit: NBCChicago.com]]>