<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Chicago News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Tue, 21 Apr 2015 00:29:05 -0500 Tue, 21 Apr 2015 00:29:05 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Video Shows Mayor's SUV Going Wrong Way Down Street]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 22:55:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/rahm-emanuel52.jpg

Mayor Rahm Emanuel's motorcade has again been captured on camera running a red light, and in the latest incident the vehicle is seen traveling down the wrong way of the street for nearly a full city block.

Video of the incident, showing a timestamp of March 21, shows a mayoral vehicle passing through the intersection of North Cicero Avenue and West Washington Boulevard. The video was published by the Crime in Wrigleyville and Boystown website. 

Emanuel turned and walked away from reporters when he was asked about the video at a Monday press conference.

A second video from last month shows the mayor's SUV running another red light at Lake Shore Drive and Belmont Avenue.

A mayoral spokesperson said the fines from both incidents have been paid.

The mayor's vehicles have been recorded running red lights several times since the beginning of the year. In February, Emanuel said he personally pays the fines. 

"I always pay them," Emanuel told NBC Chicago in January. “Since there’s a tail car given, there are some instances where they can’t get through a light because they can’t get separated from the first car. That may be what happened but whatever it is I pay them, even though I’m not driving.”

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<![CDATA[Fan Hit in Back of Head by Foul Ball at Cubs Game]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 21:55:06 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/baseball+generic+pbj+rawlings.jpg

The Pittsburgh Pirates game against the Chicago Cubs was delayed 23 minutes Monday night after a female fan behind home plate was hit in the back of the head by a ball off the bat of Starlin Castro.

The Pirates said in a statement the woman was conscious and alert when she was taken out of the seating are on a stretcher. She gave a thumbs-up gesture to nearby fans before being taken to a hospital.

The woman was standing in the first row behind home plate with her back toward the field when Castro fouled a ball straight back against the protective screen. The ball was hit with such force that it struck the fan.

<![CDATA[Terminally Ill Girl Gets Wish Realized]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 20:49:34 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Brooklyn-Cooper.jpg A Southwest Side elementary school helped grant the wish of a kidnergartner. NBC Chicago's LeeAnn Trotter reports.]]> <![CDATA[Bishop Goedert: Cardinal George Passed Peacefully]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 20:33:45 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/goedert.jpg Those who were with Cardinal Francis George when he died last week said they were amazed at his stamina. NBC Chicago's Mary Ann Ahern reports.]]> <![CDATA[Cops Bust Up Alleged Fencing Operation]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 18:26:07 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/JJ-Food-Mart.jpg

Chicago-area police executed search warrants on two homes, a business and three banking institutions Monday in what investigators called a major fencing bust aimed at recovering thousands of dollars-worth of stolen merchandise.

Police arrested three people, seized more than $100,000 in cash, and recovered approximately $40,000 worth of stolen baby formula, razor blades, over-the-counter medications and other goods sold at stores like Target, CVS and Walgreens.

The River Forest Police Department organized the operation, which stretched from the suburbs to the city of Chicago. The Chicago Police Department, Illinois State Police, Cook County State’s Attorney, USDA and Department of Homeland Security provided assistance.

Security representatives from retail stores, including Walgreens, helped police recover evidence from the JJ Food Mart at 285 North Pulaski in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago.

"In their analysis this was one of the larger ones so it was a good one to take down," said Officer Ben Laird of the River Forest Police Department.

According to investigators, thieves who stole items from retail stores in the suburbs would bring their loot to the food mart. Police said the thieves would receive about ten to fifteen cents on the dollar for the goods.

"When they receive their money they usually are in the neighborhood where they purchase their narcotics and then use their narcotics and it’s a vicious cycle," said River Forest deputy police chief Jim O’Shea.

Police said alleged fencers avoid paying taxes on the stolen merchandise while turning big profits.

Laird said the store’s owners, who were arrested without incident at their respective homes in Bridgeview and Burbank, could face financial crime and wire fraud charges.

A JJ Food Mart employee arrested at the store declined to comment.

<![CDATA[Documents Reveal Byrd-Bennett Ties to Other Contractors]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 18:05:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/tlmd_brightcove_2067658930001_4175786487001_cps_barbara_byrd_bennett_investigacion_federal_escuelas_publicas_chicago_conflicto_interes.jpg

Embattled Chicago Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett has links to another private education firm which did business with the Chicago Public Schools, and in 2011, auditors in Detroit investigated still another potential conflict with one of the world’s largest textbook companies.

When she was hired as Chicago schools chief three years ago, Byrd-Bennett listed a company called Catapult Learning, where she said she was employed as Senior Advisor for Planning. Last September, Catapult was listed as one of 60 vendors on the receiving end of a three-year agreement to provide professional development services to the Chicago schools at a cost of $66 million. Byrd-Bennett was one of three signatories to that agreement.

A CPS spokesman noted that the Catapult agreement was competitively bid. And indeed, last week, School Board President David Vitale noted the challenge of navigating the procurement world for professionals who have been engaged in education for any significant period.

"Many of us have prior lives in which we’ve engaged with organizations with which we no longer have relationships, which can still provide quality service to the Chicago Public Schools," Vitale said. On her resume, Byrd-Bennett listed prior relationships with at least five such entities.

In Detroit, where she served as "academic auditor," officials commissioned an official audit to determine how federal funds were used on a trio of high-dollar contracts. As part of that investigation, it was determined that Byrd-Bennett had worked as a "superintendent in residency" at one of the vendors, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which she had not revealed on her financial disclosure documents. The Detroit schools had contracted with the company for a variety of services, listed as "managed instruction and professional development" as well as "supplemental textbooks," at a cost of $52.3 million.

According to the auditor’s report, in a section of her Financial Disclosure asking for sources of outside income, Byrd-Bennett wrote "not applicable as non-employee of DPS (Detroit Public Schools) on the advice of her attorney." 

A source in the Detroit Public Schools who asked that his name not be used said the investigators determined that no conflict existed because she was technically a contract employee and thus correct that she did not have to answer the conflict question.

The summary of the report added, "This individual was not involved in the contracting process, and there was no evidence of any undue pressure placed on those who were involved to award to any given vendor." But the auditors concluded that reforms were needed, and that any member refusing to comply with disclosure rules “should be excluded from the evaluation process.”

On Monday, CPS released an internal memo from interim schools chief Jesse Ruiz, calling for an outside firm to evaluate the process by which SUPES Academy received a $20 million no-bid contract to provide training for Chicago principals.

"Every dollar is critically needed in our classrooms and we need to ensure not a single penny is wasted," he wrote.

Ruiz said he was ordering a halt to sole-source contracts at the district, pending the findings of that audit, and had asked CPS legal counsel to prepare options to terminate the SUPES contract if any wrongdoing was found.

"As public servants, our highest priority is ensuring integrity and honesty in everything we do," Ruiz told staffers in the memo. "I hope these actions will make clear to both you and the public that we take this responsibility seriously."

Also Monday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel offered Byrd-Bennett qualified support. Hailing the work she had done in the district up to this point, he said, "Without a doubt, given the investigation, she needs to be focused on that."

<![CDATA[Teen's Twitter Wager on Derrick Rose Goes Viral]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 23:55:44 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/458331240.jpg

Gaashaan Yusuf was watching the Chicago Bulls take on the Milwaukee Bucks Saturday when he casually sent out a wager on Twitter.

“If Derrick Rose doesn’t get hurt during the 2015 NBA Playoffs, I’ll PayPal $10 to everyone who RTs this,” he wrote.

Little did he know by Monday afternoon the tweet would have garnered more than 4,600 retweets.

Approaching $50,000 in the hole quickly, he had no idea only 103 characters could get so costly.

“I just thought it would be funny, so I tweeted it as a joke,” Yusuf told NBC Chicago.

The 16-year-old is a junior at Attleboro High School in Massachusetts who likes to play basketball in his free time, and doesn’t have a part-time job.

He said he sends out up to 10 tweets a day and never thought this one would be different, but it started picking up traction quickly – especially after a few well-known athletes, like Eric Dunn, re-tweeted it to their thousands of followers.

“Some people actually thought that I was going to give them the money, so that’s another reason it went viral,” Yusuf told NBC Chicago. “It just exploded.”

Yusuf said he is trying the best he can with his 15 minutes of Twitter fame, and although he can’t manage to pay off his debt to social media he is planning on making a donation to After School Matters, the Chicago-based charity that Rose gave $1 million to last year.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bears Legend Doug Buffone Dies at 70 ]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 17:19:09 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/football-chi-obit.jpg

Chicago Bears legend Doug Buffone, who played in 186 games for the organization and is considered to be one of the greatest players to ever wear the team’s uniform, died Monday at the age of 70.

Police were called to Buffone’s Chicago home on Monday afternoon, where he was found unresponsive in bed. Police News Affairs said he was pronounced dead on the scene.

"Today is a sad day for Bears nation," Brian Urlacher tweeted. "We lost one of our greats. Doug Buffone will be missed."

"Sending our heartfelt condolences to family & friends of ex-#Bears LB Doug Buffone, who has passed away at age 70," the Chicago Bears tweeted.

Buffone, who is third on the Bears’ all-time list in games played, was a member of the Bears for his entire 14-year career, and he holds several records, including sacks in a season and most career interceptions by a linebacker. He was also the last active Bears player who played for the team with George Halas as the head coach.

Police were conducting a death invgestigation Monday afternoon.

Statement from Bears Chairman George McCaskey: 

"We are terribly saddened to hear of Doug’s passing. He will always be celebrated as one of the Bears greats for his contributions to his team and the fans who loved him. There was no one tougher on Sundays than Doug Buffone. And he proved it each week over his 14-year career, a tenure record he shared with another great, Bill George, for 33 seasons. His retirement ended a link to our founder as he was the last active player to play for George Halas."

"His special relationship with Bears fans continued beyond his playing days, first through founding the Bear Report and later as one of the pioneers and long-time contributors to Chicago’s first sports radio station, WSCR. It drove him nuts when we didn’t play well and we always appreciated that he wore his heart on his sleeve because we knew how much he cared. Doug’s passion for the game of football and the Chicago Bears was unmatched and he will be missed. Our prayers go out to his wife, Dana, and his children."

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<![CDATA[Bears Announce Training Camp Start Date ]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 14:21:38 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/178*120/120515762.jpg

The Chicago Bears have already begun voluntary workouts under new head coach John Fox, but on Monday the team announced when their formal training camp would begin this summer.

Training camp, which will once again take place at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, will begin on July 29 when all players are required to arrive on campus. The first practice of training camp will take place on July 30. The rest of the schedule will be released at a future date.

The Bears have been practicing in Bourbonnais since 2002 when they moved from their long-time home in Platteville, Wisconsin.

The team has resisted the trend in the NFL of moving training camp either to the team’s own facility, as the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals have done in recent years, or taking camp to an all-new location, as the Dallas Cowboys (Oxnard, California) and New Orleans Saints (The Greenbrier, West Virginia) have done.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chef Week Offers Discounted Fine Dining]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 15:08:22 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/204*120/RPM+Italian.png

Looking for fine-dining on a budget? Chicago Chef Week, which runs through Friday, can help with that.

More than 85 restaurants in the city and the suburbs are offering a $22 three-course lunch or a $44 four-course dinner. The annual event hopes to draw “bargain-hunting Chicagoans to try out the latest culinary hotspots and revisit old favorites.”

Although similar to Chicago Restaurant Week in terms of dining deals and prices, Chicago Chef Week is specifically geared towards celebrating the finest chef-driven restaurants in the area.

As opposed to Restaurant Week which takes place for two weeks in the winter, Chef Week happens annually in the spring over the course of five days and has roughly a third of participating restaurants.

Diners can place reservations at restaurants serving a multitude of cuisines.

Participating restaurants include RPM Italian in River North, Dove’s Luncheonette in Wicker Park, Lockwood in the Loop, Bread and Wine in Irving Park, Nana in the South Side and Bistro Bordeaux in Evanston.

For a full list of participating restaurants and menus, visit chicagochefweek.com.

Photo Credit: RPM Italian]]>
<![CDATA[Interim CPS CEO Makes Changes on First Day in Office]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 12:50:38 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Ruiz.jpg

The interim CEO of Chicago Public Schools revealed plans to terminate a multi-million no-bid contract “if any wrongdoing is found” by federal investigators.

The announcement came in an internal memo to CPS staff where Jesse Ruiz discussed his plans for his first day in office, following CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s leave of absence amid an investigation into a contract awarded to one of her former employers—SUPES Academy.

The memo, dated Saturday and distributed Monday, shows Ruiz plans to hire an outside firm to do an independent review of the organization’s contracting process.

“[The firm’s] task will be to evaluate the process by which the SUPES contract was approved, and whether reforms to the overall contracting process need to be made,” the letter read. “Every dollar is critically needed in our classrooms and we need to ensure not a single penny is wasted.”

Ruiz said he also plans to halt all sole-source contracts pending the findings of the independent audit.

“It is critical that the District maintain the public trust and I do not think we can initiate these contracts until we have independent verification that they adhere to the highest ethical standards,” the memo read.

CPS revealed Friday that subpoenas directed at three CPS officials had been issued in reference to the federal investigation.

Byrd-Bennett is a former employee of SUPES Academy, and investigators are looking into whether she received any kickbacks from a 2013, $20.5 million contract between CPS and the Wilmette-based firm.


Photo Credit: LinkedIn]]>
<![CDATA[Darling Named Starting Goaltender in Game 4]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 12:30:01 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/204*120/469860366.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks are one of several teams that have had to deal with goaltending controversies during the early stages of the playoffs, but theirs seems to be settled at this point as Scott Darling will return to the net for Game 4 against the Nashville Predators.

Darling, who made 42 saves and picked up a win in a Game 1 relief appearance, was named the starter before Game 3 of the series, replacing incumbent Corey Crawford. Darling made 35 saves as the Blackhawks knocked off the Predators by a 4-2 score on Sunday, giving themselves a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Coach Joel Quenneville, who made the decision to remove Crawford from the lineup after he gave up nine goals in his first two appearances in the series, said that the choice to stick with Darling for Game 4 was an “easy” one.

During the regular season, Darling appeared in 14 games for the Blackhawks, posting a 9-4-0 record with a .936 save percentage and a 1.94 goals against average. He was nominated for the NHL’s Bill Masterton Trophy as a result of his ascension to the Blackhawks’ roster after spending the past several years playing in leagues all across North America.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Biden to Speak on Sexual Violence at U of I Thursday]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 12:05:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000012027662_1200x675_430847043535.jpg Vice President Joe Biden will speak Thursday on the campus of University of Illinois about the White House prevention program called “It’s On Us.”]]> <![CDATA[Cardinal George Sends Letters Thanking Chicagoans Days Before His Death]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 11:42:57 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/George-Holy-Name.jpg

In his final days of battling cancer, Cardinal Francis George kept writing.

Shortly before his death, George finished writing a book and also wrote thank you letters to those who sent him well wishes.

Mary Beth Frystak with Our Lady of Victory Parish told the Chicago Sun-Times she received a letter from Cardinal George Saturday, the day after his death. She had handed him a note months ago and he wrote her saying he "appreciated her words."

Alderman Deb Mell posted on Twitter the letter she received Friday. It was a note thanking her for reaching out to the Cardinal during his health struggles. He told her, "I deeply regret that I have neither the time nor the physical stamina to respond personally to all of this correspondence, even as I reread it prayerfully and with gratitude in my heart."

George, who passed away at the age of 78 Friday after a years-long battle with cancer, even wrote to reporters who covered him closely over his 17 years as Archbishop of Chicago, sending personal notes to at least five reporters who followed him.

"I'm writing to offer you my deepest thanks for your interest in me and in my concerns during the seventeen years I ministered as Archbishop of Chicago, " he wrote. "Thank you as well for your many kindnesses to me."

George added he wanted to "express his gratitude" and went on to discuss a book he hoped to publish in the "near future."

He wrote that he intended to have his new book sent to the reporters as "soon as it is available."

Photo Credit: Natalie Martinez
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<![CDATA[Bloomingdale Trail Slated to Open June 6]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 16:07:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/229*120/bloomingdale+trail.jpg

The Bloomingdale Trail, a 2.7-mile trail that runs along Bloomingdale Avenue from Ridgeway Avenue to Ashland Avenue, will open on June 6 after nearly two years of construction, a city spokesperson announced Sunday.

The project broke ground in 2013 to turn an unused rail line into an elevated park and trail system on Chicago’s Northwest Side. The trail will connect the neighborhoods of Bucktown, Wicker Park, Logan Square, and Humboldt Park.

Renderings of the trail show a tree-lined running and biking path as well as seating and park space set above city streets.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office last year said the trail will be the centerpiece of The 606, a network of six ground-level parks connected to the trail, as well as an observatory, a wheel-friendly event plaza, educational programming, art installations, and other amenities. The term "606" uses the prefix of Chicago's zip code.

“The 606 is a transformative project that will turn an old railroad embankment into a recreational trail and park system on the northwest side, a major investment in green space that will benefit neighborhood residents and people throughout Chicago,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Through projects large and small, we are on track to make Chicago the first city to ensure that every child lives within a 10 minute walk to a park or playground.”

The project is more than a decade in the making, as it was officially called for in the City’s 2004 Logan Square Open Space Plan to add additional green space to one of the city’s most park-poor neighborhoods.

Photo Credit: City of Chicago]]>
<![CDATA[Kraft to Remove Synthetic Colors From Mac and Cheese]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 16:18:39 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/kraft-alt-AP1102090112555.jpg

The iconic mac and cheese in a blue box will start showing its true colors.

Northfield, Illinois-based, Kraft Foods announced Monday it will remove artificial preservatives and synthetic colors from its “Original Kraft Macaroni and Cheese” in the U.S. starting Jan. 2016.

Kraft will replace the synthetic colors currently used with natural sources such as paprika, annatto and turmeric, the company said. The company hopes the move will “delight consumers with on-trend updates to meet consumers’ changing lifestyles and needs.”

“[Families] told us they want to feel good about the foods they eat and serve their families, including everything from improved nutrition to simpler ingredients,” Triona Schmelter, vice president of marketing meals at Kraft, said in a statement. “They also told us they won’t compromise on the taste of their mac and cheese – and neither will we. That’s why we’ve been working tirelessly to find the right recipe that our fans will love.”

The company’s announcement comes on the heels of other changes in its mac and cheese recipes.

Kraft’s “Mac and Cheese Boxed Shapes” in the U.S. launched last year with six grams of whole grains per serving, reduced saturated fat by 25 percent, lowered sodium by 100 milligrams per serving and no synthetic colors. Most recently, artificial preservatives were removed from the same product this past year.

The company’s Canadian division, Kraft Dinner, will begin removing synthetic colors from its “Kraft Dinner Original” by the end of next year. Synthetic colors were removed from “Kraft Dinner Boxed Shapes” last year while its “Original” recipe reduced sodium by 19 percent since 2012.

“Listening, extensive research and continuous improvement have been part of the Kraft Mac and Cheese 75-year heritage,” Schmelter said. “From packaging like convenient ‘Cups’ to products like ‘Deluxe,’ ‘Organic’ and ‘Whole Grain’ to light prep instructions, we’ve innovated this iconic brand through the years to remain North America’s favorite mac and cheese.”

Kraft Foods made headlines last month when it recalled about 6.5 million boxes of original flavor "Kraft Macaroni and Cheese" and merged with H.J. Heinz Company.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Trucker Sentenced to Three Years After Fatal I-88 Crash]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 17:11:20 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/trucker.jpg

A trucker who was convicted of driving while fatigued and violating safety laws in connection with a fatal, fiery crash on Interstate 88 near Aurora in 2014 was sentenced to three years in prison Monday.

Renato Velasquez, 48, was found guilty of three out of four felonies brought against him during a bench trial in February after he crashed on the interstate, killing a tollway worker and injuring a state trooper who had pulled over on the side of the highway to help a stranded semi.

Velasquez was found guilty of failing to avoid a stationary emergency vehicle, driving more than 14 hours after a 10-hour rest period and driving while impaired by fatigue. He was not convicted on multiple counts of falsifying his log book after a judge threw out the charge, ruling the state could not prove he did it in Illinois.

Prosecutors said state tollway worker Vincent Petrella and Illinois State Trooper Douglas Balder were pulled over with their emergency lights flashing to help a stranded semi when Velasquez slammed into them. Petrella was killed and Balder was badly injured.

Velasquez, who was behind the wheel of a tractor trailer near Eola Road in west suburban Aurora, admitted he dozed off, according to prosecutors. They also allege he had worked 37 hours straight on just 3.5 hours of rest but lied about it in order to pick up more jobs.

"Simply put, Mr. Velasquez's decision to get behind the wheel of his truck while fatigued cost Vincent Petrella his life and severely injured Trooper Balder," DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin said. "Had Mr. Velasquez gotten the proper amount of rest before driving, Mr. Petrella would be alive today and Trooper Balder would not be looking at a life of pain and suffering."

Velasquez, who has been out on bond since the crash, is required to serve at least 50 percent of his sentence before being eligible for parole, according to officials.

<![CDATA[Ancient Shipwreck Spotted at Bottom of Lake Michigan]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 10:06:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000012026508_1200x675_430788675768.jpg A U.S. Coast Guard crew spotted a shipwreck during a routine helicopter patrol off the coast of Northern Lake Michigan. NBC Chicago’s Anthony Ponce reports.]]> <![CDATA[Ohio Police Rescue Caged Puppies Strapped to Van Roof]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 11:28:18 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000012026426_1200x675_430784579702.jpg A police dash-cam video shows officers rescuing four scared puppies from a cage strapped to the roof of a van traveling on an Ohio highway Friday. ]]> <![CDATA[Lilly Pulitzer Target Collection Sparks Shopping Frenzy]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 11:15:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/lilly+pulitzer+for+target.jpg

Lilly Pulitzer's highly anticipated Target collection debut led to disappointment for many shoppers.

For many fans, the Sunday release was filled more with long lines, empty racks and website problems than purchases of the colorfully printed products.

The much-hyped collection was slated to go on sale early Sunday morning, but some online users reported problems with Target’s website. On top of the extreme online traffic, stores across the nation saw large crowds and long lines, with some selling out entirely in just a few minutes.

By Sunday afternoon, Target said products online were nearly sold out.

Target said the response to the debut was “nothing short of remarkable” both online and in stores, but heavy traffic caused slowness on the site that resulted in “an inconsistent experience for our guests.”

The Minneapolis-based company apologized for any disappointment the website troubles caused, but noted the site did not crash. Instead, the company said it took the collection offline for 15-20 minutes to “manage traffic to the site.”

“We took several measures throughout the morning to manage the extreme traffic levels and make the collection accessible to our guests,” the company said in a statement.

The company said it does not plan to replenish the limited-edition collection’s products online or in stores, a move that left many customers disappointed.

The fan frenzy gave several stores a Black Friday feel and had many taking to Twitter using the hashtag #LillyPulitzerforTarget.

Target, which said it would not apologize for items selling out quickly, did address fan frustration as items appeared on eBay for increased prices.

"Seeing items on online auctions reinforces that this collaboration is resonating with customers," the company said in a statement. "Items are becoming collector's items. However, it's disheartening to Target as a brand. Target does these collaborations to make designers available to people at a great price. Putting items on EBay takes away from the entire spirit of the program."

Photo Credit: Target.com
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<![CDATA[Fire Tears Through Windy City Produce on NW Side]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 12:03:55 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/240*120/windy+city+produce+fire.jpg

A fire broke out at a small, family-owned grocery store on Chicago’s Northwest Side Monday morning.

Fire officials said the extra-alarm blaze at Windy City Produce began just after 3 a.m. and prompted a response from about 100 firefighters due to "dangerous" conditions.

Firefighters were at the scene for several hours battling flames and hotspots and returned later Monday morning after part of the fire rekindled. 

The fire was first reported by a resident in the area.

“I thought my mom burned some eggs but when I looked there was nobody outside and I see smoke coming out of the ceiling out of Windy City Produce,” said Coralisse Guilfu. “It was just smoke coming out of every seam of the store—smoke, smoke, smoke, smoke, smoke.”

The store includes a deli and meat market and is known for its selection of ethnic foods. Fire officials said it was not clear if the store would be able to reopen after the fire.

“It’s pretty badly damaged,” said District chief William Vogt.

Vogt said part of the building’s roof collapsed in the blaze.

No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire remained under investigation early Monday morning.

Officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were at the scene of the fire.

Property owner Chris Verveniotis said a security alarm went off around midnight and investigators believe the store was burglarized before the fire.

"They saw blowtorches," he said. "The safe was probably blow torched."

The fire caused $2 million in damage, but the store's owners said they hope to rebuild. 

"It's devastating," said Verveniotis. 

Area residents said the store, which has been there for nearly 35 years, is a staple in the Northwest Side community.

“This is a great place,” said resident Bryanna Delgado. “It’s really sad.”

Photo Credit: NBCChicago]]>
<![CDATA[Teen on Trial Aims to Give Trust Fund to Baby]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 10:38:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/heather+mack.jpg

The 4-week-old daughter of Heather Mack, a Chicago teen on trial in Bali in connection with her mother’s murder, is now at the center of a legal battle surrounding a $1.3 million trust fund.

Attorneys representing the infant announced plans Sunday to file court documents on behalf of her 19-year-old mother, who they say wants to give up a significant percentage of her trust fund to "guarantee her baby’s financial future."

"What ever [sic] your opinion of the adults in this case, I believe everyone would agree that the baby bears no culpability in this truly sad affair," Chicago attorney Vanessa Favia said in a statement.

The move comes after Mack claimed in court in February that her uncle denied her access to her trust fund. A Cook County judge has since approved the release of $150,000 to help pay for her defense and another $2,240 for living expenses. 

Mack’s attorneys said the teen and her child have been treated in a "humane and decent manner," but noted Balinese prisons require prisoners to pay for basic necessities like soap, toilet paper and quality food.

Mack gave birth to the baby, who she named Stella, in March while in jail. The child’s 21-year-old father, Tommy Schaefer, is also in Bali prison while on trial.

Schaefer and Mack, both from Chicago, are charged with deliberately murdering Sheila von Wiese-Mack, 62, whose badly beaten body was found last August in a suitcase in the trunk of a taxi outside an upscale hotel on Bali island.

"Now that the prosecution and defense have rested, Heather says she no longer wants to wait," Mack's attorney Michael Elkin said in a statement. "Heather wants Stella to be provided for, regardless of what people may think of her. She said, 'I just need to protect [Stella].'"

Prosecutors have asked the judges to find the defendants guilty of premeditated murder, which carries a maximum penalty of death, but have sought 15- and 18-year jail terms respectively for Mack and Schaefer.

Prosecutors claim that their evidence showed the couple deliberately plotted to kill von Wiese-Mack while vacationing on Bali, based on the testimony of witnesses and messages between the defendants.

They argued that Schaefer deliberately brought a metal fruit bowl when he came to the room at the St. Regis resort where Mack and her mother were staying. They said he then used the bowl to strike her, while Mack helped stuff her mother's body in the suitcase by sitting on it to enable Schaefer to close it.

The prosecutors said they decided to be lenient with Mack because she repeatedly expressed remorse and recently gave birth.

Both Mack’s and Schaefer’s lawyers insist the murder was not premeditated.

Schaefer testified that von Wiese-Mack was angry when she learned about her daughter's pregnancy and tried to strangle him, prompting him to strike her with the bowl.

The Indonesian Criminal Court will makes its rulings Tuesday. 

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<![CDATA[Three Stars: Saad Shines as Blackhawks Triumph ]]> Sun, 19 Apr 2015 18:25:36 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/blackhawks+three+stars.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks needed some great individual performances to succeed against the Nashville Predators on Sunday, and that’s exactly what they got as they picked up a 4-2 victory to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

We’ll have plenty of reaction to Game 3 on Monday here, but for now, we’ll focus on our "Three Stars" of the game.

Third Star: Marian Hossa

There have been times this season when the Blackhawks have been accused of taking things too lightly and not putting forth maximum effort, but if there was a player on the ice Sunday that took those ideas and put them firmly on their ear, it was Marian Hossa.

Hossa came out of the gate firing and never stopped in the game, racking up six shots on goal, dishing out two assists and registering two hits and two takeaways in 15:37 of ice time.

While the highlight reel play of the day from Hossa was his give-and-go with Jonathan Toews in the offensive zone prior to the captain’s second period goal, his stretch pass to Andrew Desjardins in the first period was perhaps even more impressive. With Nashville on a line change, Hossa saw an open seam through the neutral zone, and he put the pass right on the tape of Desjardins, who ultimately scored and gave the Blackhawks their first lead of the series.

Second Star: Brandon Saad

Speaking of players who had something to prove on Sunday, Saad came into the game with only one point in his last six games, but he quickly changed that in this contest as he scored what ultimately was the game-winning goal early in the second period.

On the play, Saad used a combination of smart stick work and raw speed to beat his opponents. Grabbing the puck in the defensive zone, Saad made a great play to work around Seth Jones at the blue line, and from there he was off to the races. Roman Josi eventually cut over to try to force Saad to shoot from a bad angle, but his speed and hands made the play happen as he ripped a shot past Pekka Rinne to give the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead.

If Saad is going to stay on the top line for the remainder of the postseason, then he is going to need to turn his opportunities into goals, and that’s exactly what he did on this excellent play.

First Star: Andrew Desjardins

There was some criticism before the game of Joel Quenneville’s decision to bench Teuvo Teravainen for Game 3, but the player who skated in his spot acquitted himself beautifully, as Desjardin racked up four shots on goal and scored his first goal as a Blackhawk in the victory.

While Desjardins’ quick follow-up to his first period shot resulted in a goal, he played a critical role in the Blackhawks’ late second period goal. On a possession that seemed like it lasted for hours, the Blackhawks poked and prodded at the Predators’ defense, and eventually they scored on a Brent Seabrook shot from the slot. The whole play was kicked off by a great play by Desjardins, who was upended as he came into the zone but still managed to control the puck and dish it off to a teammate before Nashville could clear it.

The goal he scored will get a lot of attention, but his strength on the puck and ability to keep plays alive really helped the Hawks in this instance, and it was great to see the team’s trade deadline acquisition have such a big impact on the game.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![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[White Sox Call Up Pitching Prospect Carlos Rodon]]> Sun, 19 Apr 2015 17:23:55 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/carlos+rodon+getty.jpg

The Chicago White Sox initially opted to send pitcher Carlos Rodon down to the minors so he could work on his change-up this spring, but on Sunday afternoon the team reversed course as they called up their top pitching prospect to the big league roster.

Rodon, who was selected with the third overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft, will start out in the bullpen for the White Sox according to reports, and the idea is that he will eventually join the starting rotation at some point in the near future, much like Mark Buehrle and Chris Sale did when they were first summoned to the big league club.

Rodon has only pitched in two games so far this season for the triple-A Charlotte Knights, posting a 3.60 ERA in 10 innings pitched. He has 13 strikeouts and just four walks so far on the campaign, and he has a 1-0 record in those starts.

The White Sox bullpen has been one of their weak points over the past few seasons, and even with some new names in the mix this year, they can still use some reinforcements. Pitchers like Zach Duke and Dan Jennings are still trying to find their form, but others like David Robertson have looked right at home on the South Side.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Blackhawks Knock Off Predators 4-2]]> Sun, 19 Apr 2015 19:49:20 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/hawks+celebrate+game+3.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks needed a strong effort on Sunday afternoon against the Nashville Predators, and that's exactly what they got as they picked up a 4-2 victory in Game 3 of the series. 

Brandon Saad, Andrew Desjardins, Brent Seabrook, and Jonathan Toews all scored goals for the Blackhawks in the victory. 

The Predators got a power play early in the game as Kimmo Timonen was whistled for interference, but the Blackhawks’ defense stayed strong and didn’t allow a single shot on goal. The Hawks seemed to get a nice boost of momentum from the kill, but Pekka Rinne stood tall and denied chances from Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews to keep things scoreless.

The Blackhawks continued to pound away at the Predators’ defense as the first period wore on, and with a little over five minutes to go in the frame they finally capitalized and took the lead. Brad Richards made an excellent pass down the ice to find a streaking Andrew Desjardins, and even though his initial shot was blocked down, he followed up and feathered a second shot between Rinne’s pads to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead.

Just 30 seconds later, the Predators came back down the ice and scored a goal of their own to tie things up. Some great puck movement by Nashville got the Chicago defense off-balance, and Mike Ribeiro ripped a one-timer from the middle of the slot past Darling to tie things up at 1-1.

Marian Hossa was sent off the ice after an ill-advised penalty late in the first period, but the Hawks managed to kill it off and seized momentum early in the second period with another goal. A stretch pass up the ice set everything up, and then Hossa and Jonathan Toews executed a perfect give and go near the blue line. Ultimately it was the captain who scored the goal as Toews rifled a shot just inside the far post to give the Hawk back the lead.

A mere 20 seconds later, the Predators scored again. Aaron Ekholm got the puck in the middle of the ice, and after his shot deflected off of Niklas Hjalmarsson, it evaded Scott Darling to make it a 2-2 contest.

The Blackhawks didn’t seem fazed by the quick tally by the visitors, and they scored again just four minutes into the period to regain the lead. Brandon Saad made an excellent play as he exploded past Seth Jones in the neutral zone, and before Roman Josi could get back to defend him, he ripped a shot past Rinne’s blocker to give the Blackhawks a 3-2 edge.

With about seven minutes remaining in the second period, the Blackhawks scored again to extend their lead. After some aggressive pressure and puck movement in the offensive zone, Toews circled around the net and feathered a pass out to Brent Seabrook in the slot. The defenseman ripped a shot toward the net, and with Andrew Shaw screening Rinne the puck trickled into the net to make it a 4-2 contest.

The third period got underway with little fanfare, as the Blackhawks settled into a defensive posture and the Predators struggled to get through the neutral zone. The Blackhawks picked up chances a few times during the first half of the frame, but Rinne was there to make a couple of key stops against the Hawks’ top line to maintain the two-goal deficit.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Female Inmate Found Dead in Indiana Jail]]> Sun, 19 Apr 2015 16:19:59 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/rachel+barnes.jpg

A female inmate was found dead in her jail cell in a northern Indiana facility early Sunday morning.

The woman was found unresponsive at about 1:30 a.m. in the La Porte County Jail, according to the La Porte County Sheriff's Office. A jail deputy first noticed something was amiss when he looked at a monitoring camera and noticed the woman was not moving.

Jail officials used CPR and an Automatic External Defibrillator on the inmate in an attempt to save her life, but they were unsuccessful, according to the sheriff's office.

The woman was later pronounced dead by the La Porte County Coroner's Office.

The inmate was identified as Rachel Barnes, 33, of Valparaiso, Ind.

Barnes was in a holding cell in the processing area of the jail, where she had been held since April 17 when she was first brought to the jail, authorities said. She was arrested after her car was found completely submerged in a pond, with Barnes sitting nearby.

Barnes was impaired by alcohol and possibly drugs, according to the sheriff's department, who tested her blood alcohol level following her arrest. She was being held at the jail in lieu of bond on a misdemeanor charge for driving while intoxicated.

The La Porte County Sheriff's Office continues to investigate the cause of death.

An autopsy is scheduled for April 20.

Photo Credit: La Porte County Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Video: Corgan, Noah Discuss Kris Bryant's Call-Up]]> Sun, 19 Apr 2015 14:48:44 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/kris+bryant+getty+2.jpg

Chicago Cubs phenom Kris Bryant reached base five times and collected the first two hits of his major league career on Saturday afternoon against the San Diego Padres, but as he played at Wrigley Field, one could be forgiven for reflecting on his journey to the historic ballpark.

In a video released Saturday, we see what Bryant was up to earlier in the season before the Cubs called him up. Celebrities like Billy Corgan and Joakim Noah make appearances as they discuss the expectations that Bryant is carrying with him in the big leagues:

Bryant was called up on Friday by the Cubs on the first day the team could do so while also gaining an extra year of service time before he can hit free agency.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Seattle Archbishop to Give Homily at Cardinal George's Funeral]]> Sun, 19 Apr 2015 15:32:35 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/George-Holy-Name.jpg

The archbishop of Seattle will give the homily at Cardinal Francis George's funeral Thursday at Holy Name Cathedral.

Multiple sources in the Archdiocese told NBC Chicago that Archbishop Peter Sartain was chosen for the role. Prior to becoming the archbishop of Seattle in 2010, he was the bishop of Joliet.

Archbishop Sartain is believed to be the cardinal's personal choice to succeed him, according to a tweet by Rocco Palmo, a Catholic commentator and founder of the Philadelphia-based blog "Whispers in the Loggia."

Pope Francis instead chose Archbishop Blase Cupich to succeed Cardinal George in 2014 after the cardinal retired due to his battle with cancer.

Archbishop Sartain was appointed by the Vatican and Pope Benedict XVI to investigate a nuns' group called the Leadership Conference of Women Religious over concerns that the nuns encouraged teachings that strayed from Catholic doctrine, particularly regarding birth control, sexuality and male-only priesthood.

The Vatican and Pope Francis quietly ended its investigation this week.

Cardinal George passed away Friday morning at the age of 78 after years of battling cancer.

Photo Credit: Natalie Martinez]]>
<![CDATA[Vermette in for Blackhawks vs. Predators Sunday]]> Sun, 19 Apr 2015 12:48:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/antoine+vermette+getty.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks will have at least one new face in the lineup on Sunday afternoon as center Antoine Vermette will make his first appearance of the postseason against the Nashville Predators.

Vermette, who was acquired at the trade deadline from the Arizona Coyotes, hasn’t played all that well for the Hawks so far in his tenure, but he could end up playing a pivotal role in Sunday’s contest. The Blackhawks are looking to get their offense going after only scoring two goals in a 6-2 loss to the Predators on Friday, and adding Vermette into the mix should mean more won face-offs and, ideally, more puck possession time for the home side.

The Blackhawks could also dress Andrew Desjardins for the game, but Joel Quenneville refused to confirm whether or not he would be in the lineup. He also wouldn’t say which player(s) would be removed from the lineup for the game, but the safe money at this point is that either Joakim Nordstrom or Teuvo Teravainen could be sitting out.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Three Keys to Game 3 Victory for Blackhawks]]> Sun, 19 Apr 2015 11:49:11 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/blackhawks+team+2+getty.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks will return to home ice for the first time this postseason as they take on the Nashville Predators Sunday afternoon, and there is a lot at stake in the game as both teams look to grab control of the series.

For the Predators, they will have to contend with the loss of their top defenseman, Shea Weber, who didn’t make the trip to Chicago for the game. They are also dealing with injuries at the center position, as Mike Fisher continues to struggle with an ailment. Both of those factors could leave them facing some tough obstacles in the game.

Even with those injuries, the Predators are a dangerous team that just knocked off the Blackhawks in emphatic fashion, so we’re taking a look at three Hawks players that need to step up in order for the team to win and wrest control of the series back from the Preds.

Duncan Keith

Keith has played well all season despite having to skate with players like Michal Rozsival, but it will be interesting to keep an eye on how he plays Sunday afternoon. He’s been playing a ton of difficult minutes so far in this series, and fatigue could end up playing a factor in his performance Sunday if Joel Quenneville continues to deploy his defensemen like he has so far in this series.

Brandon Saad

One game after the top two lines struggled for the Blackhawks, the top six forwards seemed to get things together well on Friday night as they combined to be a plus-39 in the Corsi statistic. Saad contributed with a plus-4 in the category, and even though he didn’t appear on the scoresheet, he still had a solid game overall.

Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, solid play from their top line won’t get the job done on Sunday. They’ll need their star forwards to take advantage of home ice, and that means making sure to take advantage of line matchups that will favor them for the first time in the series. Saad had only one point in his last six games, and he’ll need to up that total in order for Chicago to win.

Teuvo Teravainen

Teravainen is a player that has generally been a positive possession player even in limited time on the fourth line in recent weeks, but he had an off-game on Friday night, finishing with negative Corsi and Fenwick numbers. He didn’t even crack 11 minutes played in the contest.

If Teravainen is going to be at his best, he needs to play with more confidence and enthusiasm in this game. He is a player that has the skillset to make defenders miss and create scoring opportunities, and he’ll have to do that for the Hawks Sunday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs Fan Catches Foul Ball in Beer Cup, Then Chugs Beer]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 12:53:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/cubs+fan+beer+catch.jpg

A Chicago woman proved her Cubs fandom during Saturday's game when she caught a foul ball in her beer... and then chugged the beer with the ball still inside.

Krista Dotzenrod was caught on camera by Comcast Sportsnet catching a foul ball and holding it up to the sky before chugging her beer.

Dotzenrod told the Chicago Sun-Times she was drinking a Goose Island Green Line beer.

The Cubs were playing against the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field. When Dotzenrod caught the foul ball, they were ahead 6-2. The Padres surged to a tie later in the game, but the Cubs ultimately prevailed with a final score of 7-6.

Photo Credit: Comcast Sportsnet
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<![CDATA[Extra-Alarm Fire Destroys Mansion in Barrington Hills]]> Sun, 19 Apr 2015 10:21:00 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/barrington+hills+mansion+fire.jpg

An extra-alarm fire started by a burning tree branch destroyed a massive home in northwest suburban Barrington Hills Saturday evening. 

A neighbor told the (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald that the people renting the home were burning leaves when a tree branch ignited and fell onto the garage, sparking the blaze.

The 8,000- to 10,000-square-foot home was severely damaged.

Firefighters said the fire was difficult to put out because there were no fire hydrants in the neighborhood.

Photo Credit: Cynthia Daou]]>
<![CDATA[IceHogs Announce 2014-15 Award Winners]]> Sun, 19 Apr 2015 10:02:32 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/Ice+Hogs+Jersey+p1.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks are still active in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but their AHL team finished up its regular season on Saturday as the Rockford IceHogs fell to the Toronto Marlies by a 3-1 margin.

The IceHogs will be competing in the Calder Cup Playoffs, which begin next week, but on Saturday night the team announced their award winners for the 2014-15 season.

Team MVP honors went to goaltender Michael Leighton, who had five shutouts and racked up a 22-13-4 record for the team this season. He also had a 2.26 goals against average on the season, and he had a .921 save percentage on the year.

Defenseman Kyle Cumiskey, whom the Blackhawks recalled for the postseason run, won the team’s "Defenseman of the Year" award as he was recognized for his two goals and 18 assists on the campaign.

Here are the rest of the award winners for the IceHogs:

Rookie of the Year: Ville Pokka

Unsung Hero: Peter Regin

Heavy Hitter: Cody Bass

Most Improved Player: Phillip Danault

The IceHogs will open the postseason against the defending AHL champion Texas Stars on Friday in the Lone Star State. They will play Games 3, 4 and 5 of the series at the BMO Harris Bank Centre.

<![CDATA[Possible Rainy, Stormy Afternoon]]> Sun, 19 Apr 2015 09:36:06 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/rain+umbrellas+getty.jpg

The warm, pleasant week comes to an end Sunday afternoon.

Rain showers and a chance for an isolated thunderstorm or two are in the forecast through Sunday night. The rain is expected to move in from the south beginning at 2 or 3 p.m. and last for several hours, with heavy rainfall at times.

The Chicago area is not expected to endure severe weather, but some areas may experience thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening.

Temperatures will remain relatively warm on Sunday, with a high of 62 degrees, but the warm temperatures will drop off following the storm system. Some areas of Chicago may even see temperatures near 70 degrees before they start falling.

Spotty rain showers will continue overnight Sunday and into Monday morning, but most of the week will remain dry. A total of 0.5 to 1 inch of rain will likely fall by midday Monday.

The high temperature for Monday is 59 degrees, followed by temperatures in the mid-50s for the rest of the week.

The next chance for rain will be Tuesday afternoon.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>