<![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 Tue, 02 Sep 2014 20:43:11 -0500 Tue, 02 Sep 2014 20:43:11 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Cause of Fatal House Explosion Unknown]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 20:28:12 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Ethel-Davison1.jpg

It's still unclear what caused a house explosion that killed one resident and damaged three homes Monday in Streator, located southwest of Chicago.

Tim Davison said his mother, 82-year-old Ethel Davison, was killed when the house on the 300 block of Court Street exploded at about 11:30 p.m.

He says he did what he could to save her.

"All I can remember is smelling the smoke and seeing the flames," Davison said. "I went into the fire to try and locate my mom. The roof had collapsed on where she sleeps."

Two other homes nearby were damaged by fire resulting from the blast, including Rodney Robinson's house who lives next door.

"It's just horrible, we have nothing left. Everything was paid for, everything that we worked for is all gone," Robinson said.

Kathy Lankhier lives near the scene and said she could feel the explosion throughout her house.

“[My] couch shook and it shook really bad,” she said. “I went to the front door and there were huge flames ... The house was black and you could not see the house. [The fire] then went automatically to the next house.”

The victim's granddaughter, Brenda Dibrizzi, couldn't contain her emotions when she was told her grandmother was gone.

"She was wonderful, she so caring and loving. She was such a good Christian, she wasn't ready to die," Dibrizzi said.

Officials from the Illinois State Fire Marshal's Office and a gas company were investigating the explosion, but do not believe foul play was involved.

Nicor was on scene and turned off the gas to three homes, but officials would not confirm it was a gas leak that caused the explosion.

Three firefighters injured in the fire were treated and released from a local hospital.

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<![CDATA[Trucker Charged in Fatal I-55 Crash Was Partially Blind]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 20:41:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Espinal-Quiroz.jpg

A truck driver charged with killing five people in a July crash on Interstate 55 had just been granted a renewed permit by the federal government, allowing him to drive commercial trucks across the country even though he was completely blind in one eye, NBC 5 Investigates has learned.

Now the family of one of the crash victims is asking a local congressman to review the federal program that allows visually-impaired truck drivers on interstate highways.

Francisco Espinal-Quiroz, 51, of Leesburg, Indiana, was indicted last week on 15 counts of reckless homicide - along with additional charges that he falsified his work hours -- after the July 21 chain-reaction crash near Arsenal Road in Channahon. Will County prosecutors claim Espinal-Quiroz was speeding through a construction zone, he failed to keep a proper lookout for vehicles and that he "had physical conditions that limited his ability to drive safely."

Espinal-Quiroz is completely blind in his right eye, due to an injury in 1984.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) -- the division of the U.S. Department of Transportation which regulates commercial trucking -- has several programs that allow drivers with certain physical or medical issues to operate trucks and drive them across state lines, as long as they can pass certain fitness tests and standards.

One such program is the Vision Exemption Program, which the FMCSA says is for "drivers with a vision deficiency in one eye who have demonstrated at least three years of safe driving experience operating a commercial motor vehicle [within the state] where they received their license." A driver who can meet a series of specific safety criteria can get a waiver, or exemption, from the government, which allows them to drive commercial trucks from state to state. The exemption must be renewed every two years.


An FMSCA spokesman says that there are currently about 2,500 interstate commercial truck drivers operating with these vision exemptions, nationwide.

Government records show that Espinal-Quiroz was granted his first vision waiver in 2006, and regularly got it renewed every two years. His most recent renewal went in to effect on July 20, 2014 -- just one day before the accident on Interstate 55.

"The agency [FMCSA] is doing an experiment on public highways with people's lives," says Henry Jasny, Vice President and General Counsel for Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, a Washington D.C.-based group that has been critical of the vision waiver process. Jasny says the FMCSA needs to create tougher standards for visually-impaired truck drivers so that fewer exemptions are granted.

Specifically, Jasny argues that a truck driver should have no worse than 20/40 vision in his or her bad eye -- which would prohibit drivers such as Espinal-Quiroz from ever getting the federally-issued waiver. Currently, drivers must submit evidence that the vision in their "better eye" meets certain federal requirements, and that the condition that affects the bad eye is stable.

Espinal-Quiroz's most recent waiver-renewal was published in the Federal Register this past June, along with the names of 35 other truck drivers who were requesting renewal for vision waivers. The FMCSA routinely posts these names in the Federal Register about a month in advance, in order to allow the public to comment on the process. Once that process is complete, the waivers go in to effect.

Now the family of one of the July 21 victims wants their local congressman to push for a review of the FMCSA's Vision Exemption Program.

Joliet attorney Frank Andreano represents the family of 48-year-old Ulrike Blopleh, who was killed in the crash while driving home with three of her four children after a day of picking blueberries. Andreano has written to U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger requesting an investigation into how Espinal-Quiroz was able to get a renewal of his vision waiver.

"Renewals are being granted without the disclosures mandated by [the law]," Andreano writes, "and without a set criteria for the granting of vision exceptions ... It remains unclear how the Agency made the determination that Espinal could operate safely."

In addition, Andreano and the Blopleh family have filed civil suit against Espinal-Quiroz, as has the family of Vicky L. Palaciocs, 54, another victim of the crash.

In early August the FMCSA suspended the operating authority for Espinal Trucking, the Indiana-based company owned by Espinal-Quiroz, which consisted of just the single truck that he was driving on the day of the crash. According to the FMCSA their suspension was for "failing to cooperate in an investigation of the carrier's compliance with federal safety regulations," and had nothing to do with Espinal-Quoroz's vision waiver.
 

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<![CDATA[Illinois Army Vet Among First Seeking Medical Marijuana ]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 19:56:12 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Jim_Champion.jpg

Army veteran Jim Champion is among the first Illinoisans to sign up for a state program allowing the legal purchase of medical marijuana.

People with last names beginning with letters A through L were allowed to sign up starting Tuesday for a medical marijuana card, with everyone else able to apply on Nov. 1.

Champion, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, was among those who went to Springfield to lobby lawmakers to pass the bill.

"I felt vindicated. I felt wow, they were listening to me," Champion said.

Champion was diagnosed with MS in his 20s, and since then, his condition had steadily worsened. He says one day a relative suggested he try smoking marijuana to ease the effects of the disease.

"It would relax my muscles and my muscles wouldn't tremor, so if they don't tremor then I wouldn't have pain," Champion said.

Champion says for several years his wife, Sandy, had to find illegal ways to buy the marijuana.

"You can't call the police and say, 'Yea, my wife wants to buy some marijuana, can you go check on her for me,'" Champion said.

Now he's hoping he can soon go to a dispensary to get what he needs, whether it's edible food laced with marijuana, or marijuana cigarettes, which he says helps him most.

People who qualify for a medical marijuana card won't be able to get the drug until at least spring.

Illinois' medical marijuana law is considered one of the most restrictive in the nation with a maximum number of 21 cultivation centers allowed in the state. State bureaucrats have yet to approve and license the growers and sellers.

Under the law, adopted by lawmakers in 2013, patients must have a prescription from their physician and get a background check. The state must respond to a completed application within 30 days.

"I did my fingerprinting and background check last week and we got that out of the way and they haven't arrested me yet," Champion said.

Sheila Porter, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health, says the agency was expecting the number of applicants to run into the thousands over the next four months.

Last week, officials posted application forms for aspiring medical marijuana businesses. The period to submit them for a limited number of permits opens on Sept. 8 and runs through Sept. 22.
 

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<![CDATA[Rauner Admits Belonging to $140,000 Wine Club]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 18:42:35 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/rauner+wine+club.jpg

As Governor Pat Quinn begins what many are calling a campaign stunt – living on minimum wage for a week – his opponent, Republican Bruce Rauner, admits he is a member of a wine club that costs $140,000 to join.

A picture in Sunday’s Chicago Tribune showing Rauner and Mayor Rahm Emanuel together in Montana four years ago shows Emanuel holding a bottle of wine from the Napa Valley Reserve, a private winery that Rauner refused to confirm to the Tribune that he was a member.

However NBC 5 asked Rauner today if he belongs to the wine club to which he said, “I have many investments, I’m a member of many clubs."

When asked if that's a yes, he confirmed, "Ah, yes.” Rauner said Emanuel’s visit to his 23,000-acre Montana ranch “is old news. We’ve worked together for years.” 

The Quinn campaign and other media outlets quickly pounced. The Washington Post story published a story titled “Bruce Rauner spends more on wine than average Illinois households spend on everything.”

At the same time, former Congressman Joe Walsh tweeted: “You know Quinn is in trouble when the national media is attacking Rauner’s wealth.”



Photo Credit: NBCChicago.com]]>
<![CDATA[Chicagoans Pull for Joan Rivers' Recovery]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 17:05:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/rivers-98726631.jpg

As entertainer Joan Rivers fights for her life in a New York hospital, many Chicagoans who've met and worked with the comic are praying she pulls through.

Rivers' family confirmed Tuesday that Rivers is on life support after going into cardiac arrest last week during a procedure at a doctor's office.

Bill Rancic's wife, Guiliana, cohosts "Fashion Police" with Rivers on E!, and he spoke to NBC 5 about her condition Tuesday.

"We've been praying and keeping Joan and Melissa in our prayers. Joan's been like a second mother to Giuliana, a mentor and they work together. Fingers crossed that everything is going to be OK," Rancic said.

Rivers was in Chicago a few weeks ago speaking at the Standard Club. Guests at the event say she was on her feet for more than two hours fielding questions about her new book.

"She was entertaining," Standard Club president Alison Pure-Slovin said. "She didn't miss a beat. It was hard to understand that a woman her age was standing there entertaining us the way that she did."

Rivers was also in the area last spring, performing standup for a fundraiser in Deerfield.

"She was just hysterical. Everybody was falling off their chairs the whole night," said Emily Israel Hoffman of the Renee Israel Foundation. "I said I don't think I'm as spunky and as witty and have as much energy as she does. She's unbelievable."

Rivers remains in stable, yet critical, condition.



Photo Credit: Getty Images for Tribeca Film Fe]]>
<![CDATA[SW Airlines Flight to Chicago Diverted After Medical Emergency]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 19:05:29 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/southwest+airlines+plane+0303.jpg

A Southwest Airlines flight from Denver to Chicago was diverted Tuesday afternoon due to a medical emergency.

The airline said flight no. 467 was diverted to Omaha, Nebraska, after a woman became unresponsive during the flight.

An airline spokeswoman said the flight crew, along with assistance from medical professionals on board, provided care until the flight landed.

"Paramedics met the airplane and transported the customer to a local hospital in Omaha," said spokeswoman Emily Samuels.

The plane then continued to Chicago and landed safely at Midway Airport about an hour and a half behind schedule, officials said. It was originally scheduled to land at 2:15 p.m.

The passenger’s condition was not immediately known.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Doc Cured of Ebola Thought He'd Die]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 17:50:23 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Lauer+Brantly+Interview+090214.jpg

Dr. Kent Brantly, the American doctor who contracted Ebola while working with relief organization Samaritan's Purse in Liberia, told NBC in an exclusive interview that he felt like he was about to die when he was isolated in a Liberian hospital.

"I said to the nurse who was taking care of me, 'I'm sick. I have no reserve. And I don't know how long I can keep this up,'" the Fort Worth doctor told Matt Lauer in Asheville, North Carolina, where his family has been living in seclusion since he left an Atlanta hospital almost two weeks ago.

A portion of the interview, Brantly's first ever, was airing Tuesday on "Nightly News," and another portion will air Wednesday morning on the "Today" show. The full report will air in an hour-long NBC News primetime special on Friday.

"I said, 'I don't know how you're going to breathe for me when I quit breathing,'" Brantly recalled telling the nurse in Liberia. "'Cause that was the reality. I thought, 'I— I'm not gonna be able to continue breathing this way.' And they had no way to breathe for me if I had to quit breathing."

Brantly's wife Amber, who lived with her husband and children in Liberia, and the doctors who treated him at Emory University Hospital have also spoken with Lauer, and NBC News cameras had exclusive access to the isolation room where Brantly was treated.

Amber described to Lauer how scared she had felt when she found out her husband had contracted Ebola.

"I knew what was coming," she said. "I knew how it ends. I knew how everyone had ended up so far."

Brantly was flown out of Liberia a month ago after contracting Ebola in July. He was isolated and spent three weeks being treated at Emory University Hospital before he was declared cured and discharged on what he called "a miraculous day."

Aid worker Nancy Writebol, 59, was also flown to Emory Hospital for treatment in early August and was quietly released several days before Brantly, also cured of the potentially deadly disease.

On Tuesday, NBC News reported another American missionary doctor has tested positive for Ebola, the aid group SIM USA said. The doctor was treating obstetric patients at ELWA hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, though not in the hospital’s isolation unit, NBC News reported.



Photo Credit: TODAY Show]]>
<![CDATA[Garrett Popcorn Sued Over "Chicago Mix"]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 15:14:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/246*120/garretts+edit.jpg

Chicagoans who are fans of Garrett Popcorn won’t be calling one of the gourmet popcorn shop’s most popular mixes the “Chicago Mix” anymore.

The popcorn icon is among three companies targeted in lawsuits from Candyland Inc., a St. Paul-based company that filed federal trademark infringement lawsuits last month.

The suit alleges the companies have wrongly branded their popcorn confections Chicago Mix, which the company trademarked in 1992.

Also named in the suits are Waukegan-based Cornfields Inc. and O-ke-doke popcorn maker Snyder’s-Lance Inc.

In the suit, Candyland claims it requested the companies stop using the name, but none did.

“It’s the larger companies that don’t want to,” said Candyland Co-Owner Brenda Lamb. “They’re the ones we’re having issues with.”

Garrett Popcorn, owned by CaramelCrisp LLC, says it is currently changing the name of its Chicago Mix to Garrett Mix, a process they say they started before the lawsuit was filed.

“Garrett Popcorn Shops is expanding into new markets and proactively started transitioning away from calling its world famous CheeseCorn and CaramelCrisp flavor ‘Chicago Mix’ to the more ownable ‘Garrett Mix,’” the company said in a statement. “And this transition began prior to any lawsuit due to countless brands now using the Chicago Mix name on what Garrett Popcorn Shops feels is a product vastly inferior to ours. These are mostly pre-packed brands found in supermarkets and drug stores. No matter the name – no one in the world delivers Handcrafted Happiness the way we do.”

The shop’s website now features their trademarked “Garrett Mix” where Chicago Mix once was.

While Garrett’s recipe includes caramel and cheese popcorn, Candyland’s Chicago Mix adds in traditionally seasoned popcorn.

Lamb said it’s not the recipe that’s the problem, it’s the name.

“It’s a matter of they’re taking a name," she said. "They’re using a name that they shouldn’t be because we’re the ones that have it federally trademarked."

As for why the Minnesota company chose to name the signature mix after Chicago, Lamb said it was more of a marketing strategy, calling Chicago the “popcorn capital of the U.S.”

“I didn’t know it was going to be a problem,” she said. “If you called it St. Paul or Minneapolis people out of state might not have paid attention. I thought it would be much more noticed when I put the name on it.”

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<![CDATA[Blackhawks Favorites to Win Third Stanley Cup in 6 Years]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 14:52:19 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/489686805.jpg

The Chicago Blackhawks made a couple of additions in the offseason, most notably center Brad Richards, and it appears that betting services are taking notice of the team.

According to Bodog, the Blackhawks are the favorites to win the Stanley Cup championship in 2015, sporting 13-to-2 odds of winning a third title in six years. The Los Angeles Kings, who have two of the last three Stanley Cups and beat the Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final in June, are second on the list at 9-to-1.

Rounding out the top five are the Boston Bruins (10/1), the Anaheim Ducks (12/1) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (12/1). The St. Louis Blues also have 12-to-1 odds, and the Blackhawks’ Central Division rival Minnesota Wild have a 16-to-1 shot of winning the championship.

The Blackhawks are also 7-to-4 favorites to win the Central Division, edging out the Blues in that category, and they are 7-to-2 favorites to win the Western Conference championship.

For those with an appetite for living dangerously, there are four teams who share the distinction of being the biggest long shots to win the Cup, as the Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Florida Panthers and Nashville Predators are all 75-to-1 underdogs to hoist the trophy.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[North Coast Music Festival 2014 ]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 15:39:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/NCMF_2014_blurb.jpg The North Coast Music Festival, officially dubbed as "Summer's Last Stand," took over Union Park over Labor Day Weekend.

Photo Credit: NickiButkusPhotography.com]]>
<![CDATA[Durbin Narrowly Leads Oberweis in Poll]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 14:12:39 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/dick+durbin+2014.jpg

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat seeking a fourth term in office, has a slight lead over Republican challenger Jim Oberweis, according to a new Chicago Sun-Times/We Ask America poll.

Asked whom they'd vote for if the U.S. Senate election were held now, 47.8 percent of 1,054 poll-takers backed Durbin while 40.5 percent chose Oberweis. The seven-point gap, as narrow as it's been, represents growing support for the GOP dairy magnate, who recently went negative in his campaign to unseat the Democratic incumbent.

Meanwhile, Libertarian candidate Sharon Hansen snagged 4.1 percent of the vote. Nearly 8 percent were undecided on the three options.

Responding to the results, Durbin spokesman Ron Holmes tells Ward Room: "Our internal numbers show a larger gap; however, as we approach Election Day we're going to keep working hard to share Sen. Durbin's message of a fair shot for everyday Illinoisans. Despite the flaws of the Sun-Times poll, one thing is clear: perennial candidate Jim Oberweis is significantly behind in the polls because of his radical tea party agenda."

Oberweis, a state senator from west suburban Chicago, has previously staged unsuccessful bids for the U.S. Senate (wherein Durbin is the second-most powerful Democrat) in the early aughties followed by failed campaigns for Illinois governor and U.S. representative in 2006 and 2008, respectively. He was elected to his Springfield post in 2012.

Durbin led Oberweis by double digits in polling earlier this year but the gap has since tightened, with a July New York Times survey showing Oberweis trailing Durbin by eight percentage points. The Paper of Record predicted a slim GOP victory in the Senate, which is currently led by Democrats 55-45.

Here in Illinois, Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican rival Bruce Rauner are engaged in a close race for Springfield's highest office that has pollsters increasingly tipping the balance of November's election toward Rauner. The embattled Quinn is fending off a formidable campaign by the Winnetka venture capitalist amid the unfolding patronage scandal at the Illinois Department of Transportation and state and federal probes into his botched anti-violence program.

Oberweis, who may well be benefitting from Rauner's momentum, commissioned a poll of his own and released the results Tuesday, touting a six-point margin. He's blasted Durbin as a "career politician" and released radio spots linking the senator to the IRS email controversy and comparing him to Richard Nixon.

Over the weekend Oberweis won an endorsement from Bishop Larry Trotter of Chicago's Sweet Holy Spirit Church while Durbin was endorsed by the AFL-CIO.

According to the Sun-Times/We Ask America poll, a 60 percent majority said they were less likely to vote for a politician who had long served in Washington. In Durbin's favor, 54.4 percent said they were less likely to vote for a candidate who had previously waged multiple unsuccessful campaigns for public office.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jenny McCarthy, Donnie Wahlberg Wed in St. Charles]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 12:07:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Jenny_Mccarthy_donnie.jpg

St. Charles residents got a glimpse of Hollywood over the weekend as Jenny McCarthy and Donnie Wahlberg secretly tied the knot at the iconic Hotel Baker Sunday.

The couple wed Sunday amid family and friends, McCarthy’s publicist, Brad Cafarelli, and hotel representative Rowena Salas confirmed.

Rumors of the wedding started stirring after the pair was spotted at the hotel Saturday, despite several news reports that the former co-host on “The View” and her “Wahlburgers” star fiancé were to wed in New York.

It's the second marriage for both 45-year-old Wahlberg and 41-year-old Mccarthy.

A crowd gathered outside the hotel Saturday hoping to catch a glimpse of the stars.

One fan said a waiter brought dessert out to the waiting fans.

Several of the couple’s family and friends, including Wahlberg’s mother and brother Paul along with former New Kids on the Block bandmates Jordan Knight and Danny Wood, were spotted around the town Saturday and a film crew appearing to be from the show “Wahlburgers” was seen in front of the hotel, according to the Courier-News.

Amid reports of tensions between the pair and Wahlberg’s celeb brother Mark, the younger brother tweeted a congratulatory message Saturday and apologized in an Instagram video for not being able to attend the ceremony.

Mark Wahlberg and his family were celebrating his daughter Ella's 11th birthday Saturday, he said in the video.

Sherrie Shepherd also posted about the wedding on social media, sharing a picture on Instagram.

"Catching an early morning flight to @jennyannmccarthy and @donniewahlberg's wedding," the caption read. "What a beautiful day to join as one before God! Congrats to two beautiful people!"

McCarthy, a South Side Chicago native and former Playboy bunny, announced her engagement on “The View” earlier this year.

McCarthy told how Wahlberg, star of CBS' "Blue Bloods" and a member of New Kids on the Block, proposed to her with the help of her son Evan.



Photo Credit: Kane County Chronicle ]]>
<![CDATA[Opinion: Quinn’s Empty Minimum Wage Gesture ]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 16:58:45 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP158506660731+copy.jpg
As part of a national conversation about inequality and the potential for raising the minimum wage, it’s become something of a trend for politicians of all stripes to try living on poverty wages for a while.

In February, a group of Minnesota lawmakers tried to live on a minimum wage budget for a week.
 
In July, three Democratic politicians—Reps. Tim Ryan of Ohio, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois and former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland—restricted themselves to $77 for food, transportation and day-to-day expenses for an entire week. 
 
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, U.S. Senator Cory Booker, Broward County Commissioner Martin Kiar and State Senator Dwight Bullard of Florida and others have tried to live on some form of the minimum wage in an effort to highlight the challenges America’s poor face without an increase in wages.
 
And now, here comes Illinois governor Pat Quinn. On Sunday, he announced he would limit his spending on food and other expenses for the next week to $79—how much someone working full time for minimum wage in this state has to spend after housing, transportation and taxes.
 
That’s a nice gesture on Gov. Quinn’s part. Too bad it's not enough.
 
There’s little doubt that for someone making minimum wage—whether it’s the national minimum of $7.25 an hour or Illinois’ minimum of $8.25—living on less than a hundred dollars or so a week is near impossible.
 
It’s a lesson former Gov. Ted Strickland and others learned the hard way when they tried to place themselves in the shoes of America’s poorest citizens.
 
For Strickland, his budget of $77 ran out before the week was through. Rep Ryan had to make a dinner one night out of “a couple cans of sardines and a bag of crackers from a convenience store.” Cory Booker’s attempt to live on the equivalent of food stamps meant he had $4.32 a day to pay for all of his meals and beverages.
 
Anyone who spends even a minute thinking about what it means to live on $15,080 for a year of working full-time at minimum wage understands it’s basically impossible, whether they want to admit it to themselves or not.
 
So Quinn’s attempt at consciousness-raising, much like the efforts of other politicians, is unlikely to enlighten anyone not already committed to keeping the minimum wage at a level no one can live on.
 
Worse, the move runs the risk of distorting or obscuring the reality faced every day by those who work for the lowest legal wage possible. That’s because no matter how difficult Pat Quinn’s week may be when he tries to live on a few dollars a day, in the end, it’s likely he’ll suffer absolutely no long-term negative effects from his week-long experiment.
 
That’s certainly not true for someone who actually lives on the minimum wage. In fact, living in poverty is often nothing more than one long struggle to avoid homelessness, unemployment, hunger, malnutrition, health crises, poor academic outcomes, mental health challenges and more.
 
It’s no secret Quinn has made raising the minimum wage in Illinois a centerpiece of his tough re-election campaign against Republican Bruce Rauner. And, despite the ongoing political controversy, raising the minimum wage happens to poll surprisingly well among a wide range of voters.
 
Yet, fixing poverty in Illinois or across the country takes a lot more than simply forgoing eating out or taking taxis for a week. It takes a sustained, committed effort that combines smart public policy, a fair distribution of resources, effective social services that help those in need and the commitment of citizens, neighborhoods, politicians, business and the like to ensure those in danger of falling through the cracks get the help the need to succeed.
 
By dipping in his toe to see how the other half lives, politicians like Quinn are in danger of practicing a political version of “slum tourism”: experiencing poverty from the position of knowing that no matter what happens during your visit, you’ll be okay in the end.
 
Quinn’s move may end up generating a lot of positive headlines, and maybe even a boost for his political campaign.
 
But it’s no way to make a real difference in the life of even one person suffering the hardships of living on minimum wage. 

That takes vision and commitment and hard work. Not gimmicks.  



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Jury Selection Begins in Murder of Indian Head Park Teen]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 20:31:29 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/kelli+O%27Laughlin+suspect+new.jpg

Jury selection begins Tuesday in the murder trial of a man charged with violently stabbing a 14-year-old girl after she found him robbing her southwest suburban home.

John Wilson is accused of stabbing Kelli O'Laughlin in her Indian Head Park home in the 6300 block of Keokuk Road in 2011. The Chicago man, whose attorney said battled with mental illness for years, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and residential burglary charges after he was arrested following a manhunt after the murder.

A psychiatric evaluation was ordered in 2012, and later that year, Judge John Hynes ruled Wilson was fit to stand trial.

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said Wilson allegedly forced entry into the O'Laughlin home with a rock placed into a knit cap. The cap was left behind with blood on it and found by police, Alvarez said.

In detailing the charges against Wilson, Alvarez said he allegedly stabbed O'Laughlin multiple times with an 8-inch carving knife from her own kitchen. The girl was found by her mother stabbed in the back, neck and chest, Alvarez said.

The house was found ransacked, and a bowl of coins, O'Laughlin's cell phone and an iPod Touch were stolen.

The intial investigation revealed O'Laughlin's cell phone was used to send text messages of "taunting and disturbing nature" to her family within hours of the murder. Wilson was apprehended on Chicago's South Side, Alvarez confirmed.

"There are really no words to describe how horrific this is," Alvarez said at the time.

Alvarez said Wilson hailed a cab and hitched a ride to the Orange Line stop at Midway International Airport after O'Laughlin's death. He paid with various coins stolen from the victim's home, she said.

Records show Wilson had six previous convictions, including aggravated vehicular hijacking, aggravated battery of a peace officer with a firearm, selling a stolen vehicle and controlled substance charges. He was on parole from the Pontiac Correctional Facility where he served eight years of an 11-year sentence for robbery of a school or place of worship when the girl was stabbed.

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<![CDATA[Man Charged in Shooting After Suburban Soccer Match]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 12:01:28 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/gonzalez+cc+shooting.jpg

A Chicago man was charged in a shooting at suburban soccer field where hundreds of people were attending a soccer match over Labor Day weekend.

Around 5:15 p.m. Sunday, a shooting was reported near 147th Street and Ridgeland Avenue in Oak Forest at a Cook County Forest Preserve soccer field. About 2,000 people were gathered for a soccer match at the field, officials said.

When the game ended a man fired a gun, injuring a 47-year-old man from Harvey, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s office.

The victim was taken to an area hospital where he was treated for non-life threatening injuries and was later released, officials said.

The shooter, who police identified as 33-year-old Luis Gonzalez, allegedly tried to flee the scene in another person’s vehicle, but was stopped by Oak Forest Police.

Gonzalez, of the 5500 block of South Kolin Avenue in Chicago, was charged with aggravated battery with a firearm, reckless discharge of a firearm and vehicular invasion, according to police.

Gonzalez is expected to appear in bond court Tuesday, police said.



Photo Credit: Cook County Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[CPS Students Head Back to School Tuesday]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 13:30:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/safe+passage+generic+2.jpg

More than 400,000 Chicago Public Schools students head back to classrooms Tuesday for the first day of the 2014-15 academic year, many of them traveling along expanded Safe Passage routes.

An additional 100 workers will be on the streets assisting at a total of 120 schools -- 27 more than last year.

Gov. Pat Quinn last week pledged another $10 million in state funds to add 600 more workers to the program. Started in 2009, the Safe Passage program dispatches trained safety monitors to high-crime areas in the city's south and west sides to help children commute to and from class.

"The Safe Passage program has proven to be a successful way to improve attendance, increase safety and boost learning in our classrooms," Quinn said in a statement announcing the added funding. "With this state investment, we can reach even more schools and help ensure safe passage for more students."

Students who take Chicago Transit Authority buses and trains will do so free-of-charge on Tuesday.
The progam provided more than 147,000 free rides to students last year, according to the transit agency.

Students are also eligible to buy a discounted fare for $0.75 throughout the year to ride weekdays between 5:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m., the CTA said. Last school year, students took roughly 25 million rides using the discount.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett welcomed students at William Penn Elementary School, at 1616 South Avers Avenue.

"We start this school year with an ever-improving graduation rate, hitting the record high in Chicago at nearly 70 percent, a record-high ACT score, record-high national test scores and record attendence, and that does not come easy," Emanuel said.



Photo Credit: NBCChicago.com]]>
<![CDATA[3 Killed, 35 Wounded in Holiday Weekend Shootings]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 10:04:27 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/LABOR+DAY+FINAL+VIOLENCE.jpg

Editor's Note: NBC Chicago included shootings that took place between 6 p.m. Friday and 12 a.m. Tuesday in the holiday weekend violence report.

A 29-year-old man was shot and killed Sunday night, becoming the third person to die in Chicago shootings over Labor Day weekend.

The victim and another man were shot by individuals in a vehicle in the 7400 block of North Ridge Sunday at around 8:45 p.m., police say. One of victims was pronounced dead at a local hospital. The other was listed in stable condition.

The weekend's first homicide took place late Friday night in the city's Back of the Yards neighborhood.

A 36-year-old man was found on the sidewalk around 10:45 p.m. in the 5400 block of South Damen Avenue with gunshot wounds to the head and thigh. He was transported to John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County where he was pronounced dead, according to authorities.

A 34-year-old man died less than five hours after he was shot on the city's South Side Saturday morning.

The man was shot in the abdomen in the 10900 block of South Racine Avenue and was transported to Stroger Hospital in critical condition.

The Cook County Medical Examiner's office confirmed the man, identified as Darius Sept, was later pronounced dead at 5:41 a.m. at Advocate Christ Medical Center.

At least 35 people were wounded by gunfire throughout the city as of 4 p.m. Monday.

  • Around 3:15 p.m. Saturday, a 31-year-old man was shot in the 10000 block of South Perry Avenue. The man was sitting in a vehicle parked on the street when a man walked up and opened fire. The victim was shot in the head and taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in stable condition.
  • Around 11:10 p.m., a 29-year-old man was shot at a block party in the 3600 block of West 56th Place in the West Elsdon neighborhood, police said. The man told police he was outside at the party when he "heard shots and felt pain." The man was transported to Advocate Christ Medical Center in good condition with a gunshot wound to the leg.
  • About 30 minutes earlier, a 20-year-old man was shot during a physical altercation in the 5900 block of South Mozart Street in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood. The man was fighting with another man when he was shot in the leg, police said. He was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in good condition. 
  • Just before 1 a.m. Sunday, police said a 34-year-old man was shot in the arm at outside of a house party in the 6800 block of South Loomis Boulevard. The man was approached by an armed offender who then opened fire, striking him in the arm, police said. The victim was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in stable condition.
  • Around 1:40 a.m., a 20-year-old man was shot in the chest during a robbery at a party in the 1000 block of North Monitor Avenue. Police said the man told officers he was at a party when someone walked up with a handgun and announced a robbery. When the victim fought the offender he was shot in the chest. The victim was taken to West Suburban Medical Center in serious condition.
  • Just before 2 a.m., two people were shot in the 6700 block of South Ada Street. A 20-year-old woman was shot in the foot and taken to Holy Cross Hospital in stable condition. A 21-year-old woman was shot in both legs and taken to Mercy Hospital where she was also listed in stable condition. Police said the victims were outside at a block party with a group of people when someone fired into the group.
  • A 26-year-old man was shot around 2:30 a.m. in the 100 block of North Wood Street in the West Town neighborhood, police said. The man was shot in the leg while exiting his vehicle and was taken to Stroger Hospital in stable condition, according to authorities.
  • A few minutes after 3 a.m., a 20-year-old man was shot in the 8800 block of South Burley Avenue. Police said the man was shot in the right arm and taken to Trinity Hospital in good condition, but details surrounding the shooting weren't immediately available.
  • Just after 4 a.m., police said two women were shot leaving a party with a group of people in the 11700 block of South La Salle Street in the West Pullman neighborhood. A 56-year-old woman and a 52-year-old woman were both shot in their legs and were taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in stable condition. The pair told police they were standing outside a residence on the block after leaving a party with a group of people when someone walked up and opened fire.
  • Around 5:25 a.m., a 20-year-old man was shot when a man walked up to him and opened fire in the 7800 block of South Constance Avenue. The victim was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in stable condition with a gunshot wound to the upper back.
  • Just after 6 a.m., a 43-year-old man was shot in the arm, leg and lower back in the 8000 block of South Merrill Avenue and taken in serious condition to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Details surrounding the shooting were not immediately available.
  • Around 4:20 p.m., a 20-year-old woman was shot in the hand in the 800 block of West 95th Street while riding in a vehicle. Someone walked up and fired shots in the vehicle she was a passenger in, police said. The driver of the vehicle left the scene and the woman tried to to drive away but struck a CTA bus. The bus driver was taken with minor injuries to an unknown hospital. The 20-year-old was taken to Little Company of Mary Hospital in stable condition, police said.
  • Just after 5 p.m. Sunday, two people were shot in the city's Rogers Park neighborhood. A 28-year-old man and a 29-year-old woman were shot in the 1300 block of West Morse Avenue. The pair were walking on the block when they said they heard shots and felt pain. The man was suffered a graze wound to the head and was in stable condition at St. Francis Hospital. The woman was shot in the chest and listed in critical condition also at St. Francis Hospital. It was not clear if they were the intended victims.
  • At about 8:20 p.m. a 54-year-old man was shot in the 5700 block of South Keeler. He was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in good condition. Details surrounding the shooting were not immediately available.
  • Just before 9 p.m., two men were shot in the Rogers Park neighborhood, marking the second shooting in the neighborhood Sunday evening. The men, whose ages were not immediately known, were shot in the 7400 block of North Ridge Avenue. One man was shot in the leg and was taken to Illinois Masonic Medical Center in serious condition. The other was shot in the abdomen, shoulder and leg and was taken to Saint Francis Hospital where his condition had been stabilized.
  • Around 9:15 p.m. Sunday, a male and female were both shot in what's believed to be a domestic-related incident in the 9500 block of Oglesby Avenue. The 51-year-old male was transported to a local hospital with multiple gunshot wounds. The woman was also hospitalized with a gunshot wound to her arm.
  • A 15-year-old girl was injured in a drive-by shooting in Englewood at about 1 a.m. Monday. Police say she was speaking with friends at the mouth of an alley when someone started shooting in their direction. The victim suffered a gunshot wound to the leg.
  • A man and a teenager sitting on a porch in the 4300 block of West 25th Place were shot by two individuals who exited a car and approached the victims. The 17-year-old male suffered wounds to the back and chest and the 22-year-old male suffered multiple wounds to the back and chest. Both were listed in critical condition.
  • Around 4:10 p.m., a 19-year-old man was walking in the 600 block of East 133rd Street when he heard gunshots and realized he had been shot in the leg, police said. The teen suffered two gunshot wounds to the leg and was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in stable condition.
  • Just before 9 p.m. Monday, a 21-year-old man was shot in the 2400 block of North Lamon Avenue. Police said the man was standing outside when he heard shots and realized he had been shot in the buttocks and thigh. He was taken to Illinois Masonic Medical Center in stable condition.

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<![CDATA[Blackhawks Player Evaluations: Michal Rozsival ]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 15:53:00 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/482809317.jpg

With the calendar flipping to September, we are feverishly trying to finish our player evaluations of the 2013-14 Chicago Blackhawks. What did they do right? What did they do wrong? What can they improve upon for next season?

We will continue our evaluations with a player who could be on the trading block as the team attempts to get under the NHL salary cap, as Michal Rozsival takes his turn on the big stage.

The Good:

The Blackhawks have made it a point of using Rozsival sparingly during the regular season and then riding him hard in the postseason over the past two years, and at least in his 42 regular season games this time around, he did well. His offensive numbers weren’t great, with only one goal and seven assists in those 42 games, but he did a good job of keeping shots from getting on net, and he seemed to find some good chemistry with Nick Leddy on the third pairing.

The Bad:

While only generating eight points while leading the team in offensive zone starts (43.8% of Rozsival’s shifts began in the offensive zone) isn’t ideal, that wasn’t our biggest beef with Rozsival’s performance in 2013-14. What was worse was his playoff performance, as he struggled to be effective on either end of the ice.

That poor quality of play was most evident in the second round when the Blackhawks were battling the Minnesota Wild. Whether it was poor positioning, slow skating, or an unwillingness to engage on offense, Rozsival looked completely out of sorts in the middle portion of that series, and Joel Quenneville seemed to lose faith in him for the remainder of the playoffs as a result.

If the Blackhawks are going to rely on Rozsival to play in the postseason again, they are going to need him to do a much better job of playing his position. Leddy isn’t a bad defender, but he is much better when he’s able to jump up on the play, and Rozsival not playing well effectively puts an anchor around the youngster’s waist.

Best Game of 2013-14:

On February 5 against the Anaheim Ducks, Rozsival not only set his season high for ice time, playing 23:47 in the game, but he also picked up an assist and was a plus-2 as the Hawks won a tough road battle. He also played well in the Stadium Series game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Soldier Field, but it was his performance in Anaheim that was probably his best work.

Outlook for 2014-15:

With only one year remaining on his contract, Rozsival could end up being a cap casualty as the Blackhawks try to get below the NHL salary cap before the season begins. Johnny Oduya is also on that list, and if the Swede ends up getting shipped out, Rozsival could see some action alongside Niklas Hjalmarsson on the second line.

The more likely scenario is that Rozsival would remain on the third line, with Leddy and possibly David Rundblad getting a chance to skate on the second pairing. Rozsival has simply proven to be too effective in more sheltered minutes for the Blackhawks, and Quenneville would be silly not to utilize him in that way.

Whatever the case may be, it would seem that Rozsival will get more playing time this season if he remains with the team. Sheldon Brookbank won't be brought back by the team according to various reports, and even though Rundblad is in the fold, Quenneville has shown he trusts the veteran Rozsival more. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Politicians Hit Parade Circuit for Labor Day]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 15:26:37 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Rauner_parade.jpg 9/1/2014: Labor Day was anything but a day off for some politicians working for votes at area parades.]]> <![CDATA[Snoop Dogg Crashes Chicago Hindu Wedding]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 20:11:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Snoop_Dogg_wedding.jpg

Rapper Snoop Dogg provided the memory of a lifetime for a Chicago bride and groom when he crashed their wedding photo on Sunday.

Photographer Chris Seibel was taking Joseph and Neesha Ghadiali's pictures at the Hard Rock Hotel when the hip-hop star walked through the lobby with his entourage. But it was the groom's mother who convinced him to take quick action.

"She said, 'Chris, do whatever you can to get a picture," Seibel said.

Seibel risked getting squashed by men he described as the "biggest security guards I've ever seen in my life" and approached the rapper to ask for a photo.

"He said, 'Absolutely, man.' He was so cool and calm," Seibel said.

As it turned out, it was the bride and groom who needed the coaxing.

"They were standing like 5 feet away from him, like they were afraid to get close, and I was like, 'C'mon, it's Snoop Dogg!" Seibel said.

"He was so tall!" Neesha Ghadiali told NBC 5 Monday before she and her new husband headed on their honeymoon.

Seibel snapped a few photos and was even more surprised by what happened next.

"He took his phone out of his pocket and was like, 'Hey dog, can you take a couple of photos for me?'" Seibel said.

The cell phone photos ended up on Snoop Dogg's Twitter and Instagram feeds with the caption "Jus got married."

"My friends are keeping us updated constantly us on the 'like' and comments, so it's kind of nice," Neesha Ghadiali siad.

The rapper headlined the North Coast Festival Sunday night.

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<![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[Suspected "No Boundaries Bandit" Charged]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 18:12:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Rodrigo-Medeillin.jpg

Cicero police arrested a man Sunday they believe is the so-called "No Boundaries Bandit" responsible for robbing 12 banks in the city and suburbs.

Authorities say Rodrigo Medellin, 31, was taken into custody at around 3 p.m. Sunday after officers tracked him to the town of Broadview in the area of Roosevelt Road and 18th Avenue.

The suspect was arrested after a short vehicle and foot chase and was in possession of a firearm, according to police. He's being interviewed by Cicero the FBI and charges are pending, according to police.

The "No Boundaries Bandit" nickname refers to the wide geographical area covered by the robberies.

The man is suspected of robbing five Chicago banks and seven in the suburbs, most recently in west suburban River Forest, according to the FBI.

Medellin was charged with multiple counts of armed robbery, including felony aggravated assault to a police officer, felony aggravated fleeing and eluding police and felony aggravated unlawful use of a weapon by a felon.

Investigators say Cicero Police immediately recognized Medellin as a suspect when his image was publicized.

Medellin is suspected of robbing the following banks:

 

  • Aug. 21, 2:08 p.m. at BMO Harris, 9101 Cermak in Riverside
  • Aug. 15, 6 p.m. at Chase Bank, 100 W. North Ave. in Northlake
  • Aug. 11, 1:17 p.m. at Park Federal Savings, 5400 S. Pulaski
  • July 16, 2:35 p.m. at Popular Bank, 1700 W. Lake in Melrose Park
  • June 25, 4:50 p.m. at TCF Bank, 5320 S. Pulaski
  • June 24, 5:06 p.m. at Chase Bank, 1700 N. Wells
  • June 19, 4:33 p.m. at Charter One, 4001 South Harlem in Stickney
  • June 11, 3:13 p.m. at Washington Federal Bank, 2869 S. Archer
  • Jun. 6, 4:50 p.m. at PNC Bank, 6650 W. Cermak in Berwyn
  • May 27, 1:27 p.m. at TCF Bank, 6315 W. 55th
  • May 16, 5:14 p.m. at PNC Bank, 4900 W. 87th St. in Burbank.

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<![CDATA[Bears Sign Frey, Bellamy to Practice Squad ]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 11:25:15 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*122/454307874.jpg

The Chicago Bears have been busy putting some finishing touches on their 53-man roster ahead of Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills, but GM Phil Emery took care of another piece of business on Monday as the team finalized their 10-man practice squad.

The Bears went defense-heavy on the squad, signing six players from defensive positions. They signed three cornerbacks to bolster their depth at that position, with Isaiah Frey, Al Louis-Jean, and Terrance Mitchell all getting contracts. They also made sure to have some insurance on the defensive line, with defensive tackles Brandon Dunn and Roy Philon being added to the squad.

Undrafted free agent linebacker DeDe Lattimore was also signed to the squad.

On the offensive side of things, the Bears signed a pair of wide receivers, with Josh Bellamy and Rashad Ross, a receiver out of Arizona State, both getting contracts. Taylor Boggs, who was one of the final roster cuts, was kept on the practice squad, and guard Ryan Groy was as well.

One notable omission from the practice squad was running back Jordan Lynch, who was one of the team’s first cuts when they began paring down the roster from 75 to 53 players. Lynch ran into some tough competition for a spot on the team, as Marc Trestman and Emery decided to keep four running backs instead of the usual three. With Shaun Draughn and Senorise Perry both being retained, the Bears didn’t have need for another running back on the practice squad, and so Lynch was kept off.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tammy Duckworth Announces She's Pregnant ]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 18:32:28 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Tammy+Duckworth.jpg

U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth says she's pregnant and expecting a baby girl in early December.

"I am so thrilled that I'm gonna be a mother here in just-- four months," Rep. Duckworth said to NBC's TODAY, the first time the Illinois representative has talked about her pregnancy on camera.

The Iraq veteran and double amputee is a Democrat from Hoffman Estates.

Duckworth's announcement was part of a segment about four amputees from the Iraq War who have recently had babies or are pregnant.

Duckworth says the women were there for her during her greatest trauma, when she lost both legs after her helicopter was shot down in Iraq in 2004. The 46-year-old says the women will now be together for their "greatest joy."

"We went through many cycles of IUI and all the different varieties of IVF," Duckworth said. "Being in the job that I have, it was really hard to keep it, you know, very quiet."

Duckworth is running for re-election on Nov. 4. She faces Republican Larry Kaifesh of Carpentersville, a fellow veteran.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs Celebrate Jackie Robinson West on Labor Day]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 18:24:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/JRW_cubs_locker_room.jpg

Jackie Robinson West got some Cubbie love Monday.

The U.S. Little League World Series champions were the special guests of the Chicago Cubs as they kicked off a 6-game homestand against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Manager Darrold Butler threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the game and the team led the 7th inning stretch from the field.

"They are doing great. Handling all of the attention very well," Butler said of his players.

"I like all the attention, so I'm going to go with it until it is all over," player Trey Hondras said.

"It feels good. It felt really good when they invited into their locker room," player Marquis Jackson said.

The Cubs wore the Little League team's Jackie Robinson West jerseys and caps during warm-ups. The uniforms will be auctioned off at Cubs.com with the proceeds benefiting the little league team.

The Chicago White Sox honored the team Saturday with a special pre-game celebration.

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<![CDATA[Firefighters Battle Blaze in Evanston]]> Sun, 31 Aug 2014 19:45:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/212*120/evanston+north+shore+fire.jpg

Firefighters battled a large blaze in suburban Evanston late Sunday afternoon.

Large clouds of black smoke and flames were seen shooting into the sky from North Shore Towing at 2527 Oakton St. just after 4 p.m. Sunday, officials said.

Fire officials said several cars were on fire and Oakton Street was shut down between Dodge and McCormick.

Firefighters managed to get the blaze under control quickly but were still battling the flames about an hour later.

Several area fire agencies were called to the scene and were expected to remain at the scene for “some time,” officials said.

The blaze took place near a popular strip mall and Home Depot in the area.

“I saw black smoke when I came outside and I heard like little explosions like ‘boom, boom,’” said Home Depot employee Junior Wright. “It’s burning my eyes a little bit still.”

The blaze caused a power outage at the Home Depot and prompted a precautionary evacuation of the building, according to employee Robert Saucedo.

“There was a potential for a catastrophe,” Saucedo said. “It’s Labor Day weekend so we had a lot of people shopping in our store.”

Saucedo, who works in the flooring department, said the flames could be seen hitting fencing by the store.

“It was pretty intense,” he said.

Seven departments responded to the blaze and the city had to increase water pressure so firefighters could use master streams. 

Officials said no injuries were reported and the cause of the fire had not been determined as of 5:30 p.m. Sunday.



Photo Credit: Phil Berman]]>
<![CDATA[Blackhawks Player Evaluations: Antti Raanta ]]> Sun, 31 Aug 2014 16:01:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/452324639.jpg

With training camp just three weeks away, we are continuing our look at the player evaluations for the 2013-14 Chicago Blackhawks. What did they do right? What did they do wrong? What can they improve upon for next season?

We continue those evaluations today and turn our attention to the goal crease, as back-up goaltender Antti Raanta checks in.

The Good:

Raanta was put in an awkward situation early on in the season when Corey Crawford and Nikolai Khabibulin both went down with injuries, but despite a few hiccups, he largely persevered. Through one stretch of five games, Raanta allowed an average of two goals per contest and helped the Hawks to win a tough road game against the Coyotes and two games over playoff teams, beating the Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars.

As the month of December wore on, Raanta had several more quality appearances, with two victories over the Los Angeles Kings and a splendid 27-save performance against the Nashville Predators adorning his resume. His rebound control was good, his technique was on point, and perhaps most importantly of all, he allowed the team to continue their strong play even without their two top goaltenders in the fold.

It was that last bit that convinced the Blackhawks to keep him in the fold as the back-up for the rest of the season, and likely what earned him a contract extension with the team in June.

The Bad:

Unfortunately for Raanta, the season didn’t end for him in December, and he struggled in a big way in limited action the rest of the way. Whether it’s the fact that he wasn’t sharp because of a lack of playing time or because teams asserted more pressure on him, Raanta had several dud performances in the closing weeks of the season, including allowing five goals to the Ottawa Senators in a 5-3 loss on March 28.

While earlier in the season his rebound control was crisp, later on he started to look sluggish in the blue paint and seemed to lack the speed in moving across the crease that he had shown when he firsts was called up to the NHL.

Best Game of 2013-14:

Without question, Raanta’s first career shutout against the Kings on December 30 was when he was at his peak. In that game, he stopped all 26 shots he faced, and the Blackhawks held on for a tightly-contested 1-0 victory over the team that would ultimately eliminate them from the playoffs nearly five months later.

Outlook for 2014-15:

Despite his new deal with the Blackhawks, Raanta isn’t going to get more than 20 starts or so unless Crawford suffers another injury. With a new six-year contract and some solid playoff performances in his back pocket, Crawford is still the guy in Chicago, and while Joel Quenneville does occasionally like to go with the hot hand, Crawford will have a lot of leash before the coach would yank him from the starting spot.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Police Give CPS Students Back-to-School Haircuts]]> Sun, 31 Aug 2014 16:11:03 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/208*120/police+haircut+cps.jpg

Families made an unusual trip to the 6th District Police Station in Chicago Sunday—to get back-to-school haircuts.

Chicago police teamed up with barbers in the city’s Gresham neighborhood to provide free haircuts for Chicago Public Schools students.

“I just moved up here from Wisconsin state,” said Lataura Griffin. “It was right up the alley and right on time.”

Griffin said the event was helpful for her and her children as she prepares to send her kids to new schools.

It's the third year the station, located at 7808 S. Halsted, has held the event and officials said it has grown each year. Officials report that 195 students received haircuts and over 250 school supply boxes were handed out.

“I’m going to miss my hair,” said student Keshun Spence.

The students were able to eat grilled hot dogs at the event and were sent home with a backpack full of school supplies.

Police say the event gives them an opportunity to form a positive relationship with young people in the community.

“That way we can get our message out,” said Chicago Police Officer Maurice Thigpen. “No guns, anti-violence, anti-drugs, anti-gangs…and if we can start that message getting out earlier in the year, when school starts, then maybe these kids get the message to stay out of gangs and don’t pick up the guns.”

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<![CDATA[Storms Could Dampen Labor Day Plans]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 10:00:35 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/raingeneric.jpg

Storms threaten to dampen Labor Day plans in the Chicago area Monday.

Following a warm and dry Sunday, the holiday is forecast to start out wet and rainy with the potential for severe weather.

Rain is expected to move into the area during the morning and afternoon hours ahead of a cold front.

Virtually all of Illinois is in the “slight risk” category for severe weather, according to the National Weather Service.

NBC 5's Andy Avalos says it's not likely to be an all-day rain, with periodic storms expected.

Storms that do develop could produce gusty winds, hail and heavy rain.

The NWS warns that heavy rainfall could lead to some localized flooding.

The high temperature Monday is forecast to be around 83 degrees.

The chance for storms remains to the southeast and northern Indiana Monday night, with storm chances diminishing toward Tuesay morning.

Wednesday is expected to stay dry but more rain returns to the forecast for the end of the week.



Photo Credit: Christopher Furlong]]>
<![CDATA[Report: Jenny McCarthy, Donnie Wahlberg Wedding in St. Charles]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 09:49:34 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Jenny_Mccarthy_donnie.jpg

Despite several reports that Jenny McCarthy and Donnie Wahlberg would be saying their vows in New York this weekend, it appears the couple is staying at an iconic hotel in suburban St. Charles.

The Courier-News reports that the former co-host on “The View” and her “Wahlburgers” star fiancé were spotted at the historic Hotel Baker this weekend and were reportedly scheduled to wed there Sunday.

A crowd gathered outside the hotel Saturday hoping to catch a glimpse of the stars.

One fan said a waiter brought dessert out to the waiting fans.

Several of the couple’s family and friends, including Wahlberg’s mother and brother Paul along with former New Kids on the Block bandmates Jordan Knight and Danny Wood, were spotted around the town Saturday and a film crew appearing to be from the show “Wahlburgers” was seen in front of the hotel, according to the Courier-News.

While it remained unclear which day the couple was getting married, Donnie Wahlberg’s brother and fellow actor Mark Wahlberg tweeted a congratulatory message to the couple Saturday and posted a video to Instagram apologizing for not being able to attend the event.

Mark Wahlberg and his family were celebrating his daughter Ella's 11th birthday Saturday, he said in the video.

Sherrie Shepherd also posted about the wedding on social media, sharing a picture on Instagram.

"Catching an early morning flight to @jennyannmccarthy and @donniewahlberg's wedding," the caption read. "What a beautiful day to join as one before God! Congrats to two beautiful people!"

The hotel did not immediately return calls requesting confirmation of the wedding, but it has been the site of several famed weddings in the past.

According to the hotel’s website, many famous people have stayed there over the years, including Louis Armstrong, John F. Kennedy, Billy Graham and Gerald Ford.

McCarthy, a South Side Chicago native and former Playboy bunny, announced her engagement on “The View” earlier this year.

McCarthy told how Wahlberg, star of CBS' "Blue Bloods" and a member of New Kids on the Block, proposed to her with the help of her son Evan.

McCarthy’s publicist could not be reached for comment.



Photo Credit: Kane County Chronicle ]]>
<![CDATA[Man Dies After Being Beaten, Run Over in Little Village]]> Sun, 31 Aug 2014 18:29:39 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ambulancegeneric.jpg

A 23-year-old man died after he was beaten and run over by a car in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood Sunday, police said.

The man was involved in a physical altercation just after 5:30 a.m. in the 4100 block of West 26th Street, according to authorities.

He and another man were fighting when that man got into a vehicle, made a u-turn and ran the victim over, police said.

The victim was killed in the attack, according to Chicago Police News Affairs Officer Jose Estrada. The Cook County Medical Examiner's office could not immediately confirm the death.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kendricks, Funchess Should Have Bears Taking Notice]]> Sun, 31 Aug 2014 12:59:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/209*120/454378782.jpg

The 2015 NFL draft is still eight months away or so, and we don’t even know where it will be held. Regardless of these minor details, we here at Grizzly Detail would like to start a new series this weekend, in which we profile players who could be on the radar for the Chicago Bears when they go to make their draft selections next year.

TE Devin Funchess, University of Michigan

Martellus Bennett will still be under contract for two more years with the Bears after the 2014 season, but like the Cincinnati Bengals did in drafting Tyler Eifert, the Bears could choose to go younger and more athletic with a highly-drafted tight end in the draft.

On Saturday against Appalachian State, Funchess snared seven receptions for 95 yards and three touchdowns as the Wolverines blitzed the Mountaineers by a score of 52-14. He has all the requisite athleticism to be a high first round pick a la Eric Ebron, who was drafted 10th overall by the Detroit Lions in 2014, but with a bumper crop of players at other positions, he could be a guy that the Bears could snare near the middle of the round.

LB Erik Kendricks, UCLA

Another position of need for the Bears has got to be the linebacker spot, as Jon Bostic continues to underwhelm and Lance Briggs and DJ Williams continue to age.

Kendricks had a fantastic game on Saturday for the Bruins against the University of Virginia, forcing a fumble and snaring an interception that he returned for a touchdown in UCLA’s season opening victory. One of the elements that Bears fans would most love about Kendricks is his nose for stopping run plays, something that largely eludes players like Bostic and Shea McClellin. His patient approach in the secondary and his blinding closing speed were on full display against Virginia, and he racked up tackles and big hits in the process.

His pass coverage abilities aren’t fully developed yet, but his aggressiveness does show up there as well. With Virginia trying to move the ball downfield, Kendricks sank low in coverage and jumped the receiver’s route on a pass attempt by Greyson Lambert, and in the blink of an eye he returned the pick 37 yards for a score.

That ability to read passes, diagnose runs, and most importantly of all, move aggressively to make plays, will surely make him a desirable commodity in the draft, and the Bears’ front seven would be lucky to have a playmaker like Kendricks.

S Jalen Mills, LSU

While a lot of the credit for LSU’s comeback 28-24 victory over the Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday will go to head coach Les Miles’ willingness to gamble, it was the play of Mills that really set the tone for the fourth quarter surge.

With 11 minutes to go in the game and his team trailing, Mills went out in pass coverage and made a perfect read on a pass by Tanner McEvoy. He grabbed an over-the-shoulder interception to get his team the ball back, and just three plays later the Tigers scored what would ultimately be the game-winning touchdown.

Mills wasn’t done yet, however. On Wisconsin’s next drive, the Tigers dialed up a delayed blitz on a 3rd-and-10 play, and when Mills got a free release around the edge, McEvoy was forced to unload a hasty pass. Ronald Martin ended up intercepting it, and yet another Badger drive stalled out.

That kind of speed and athleticism required for pass coverage and the pass rush are both great to see in a safety, and Mills’ performance set the tone for the rest of the LSU defense as they buckled down in the late stages of the game. Imagining a player like him next to Brock Vereen in the Bears’ secondary in coming years should be enough to put a grin on the face of even the most battle-hardened fan.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Grizzly Detail's NFL Preview: AFC South ]]> Sun, 31 Aug 2014 12:56:35 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/488824603.jpg

The NFL season is just four days away, and Grizzly Detail will be going through our predictions for each of the NFL’s eight divisions, as well as our picks for the Super Bowl and the various awards available after the campaign.

We’ve already gone through the other three divisions that the Bears will play against this season, so we’ll finish our look at the AFC today with our AFC South predictions. Just how good will Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts be? Can the Houston Texans go from worst to first?

Indianapolis Colts: 11-5

The Colts are a team poised for a massive season, thanks to an offense that may only trail the Denver Broncos in terms of sheer potency. Luck is one of the best quarterbacks in the league, and he could make another huge step forward this season. Having wide receivers like Reggie Wayne and TY Hilton is going to be a big help, as will Hakeem Nicks as another receiving option.

The real wild card on their offense will be running back Trent Richardson. If he can find the form he had during his rookie season with the Cleveland Browns, then the Colts are going to be impossible to stop. If he more closely resembles his sophomore form, then they could struggle.

The Colts also have some questions on defense, with a shoddy pass rush limiting their all-around grade. Cornerbacks Greg Toler and Vontae Davis are both going to have to step up their game to make up for that inability to generate pressure, but if they can, then they should be able to once again win the division title.

Houston Texans: 10-6

The Texans finished 2-14 last season, but a lot of that had to do with bad luck and some preposterously bad quarterback play. Matt Schaub is now an Oakland Raider, and Gary Kubiak is no longer patrolling the sidelines.

Former Penn State coach Bill O’Brien has taken over the team, and he will be looking to utilize a lot of fresh faces to turn things around. None of those players will be more critical to the success of the Texans than first overall pick Jadeveon Clowney, who will join JJ Watt to form one of the most frightening pass rushing tandems in the NFL. Add in linebackers Brian Cushing and Whitney Mercilus to that mix, and Houston’s defense is going to be a pain for the rest of the division.

The big question with the Texans surrounds their offense. Can Ryan Fitzpatrick utilize weapons like Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins effectively? Can Arian Foster stay on the field? Will the Texans miss Ben Tate? All of these questions are going to need to be answered as the season wears on, but as you can see from our predicted record for the Texans, we have confidence in O’Brien and company to get the job done.

Tennessee Titans: 8-8

The Titans are a team in transition, with new players all over their lineup and a division that is growing tougher every season.

The focal point of their season will undoubtedly be quarterback Jake Locker, who is playing for a new contract with the team. He does have some good weapons to throw to in Kendall Wright and Nate Washington (Justin Hunter could also be a fantasy sleeper if you’re looking for help on the waiver wire), but can Shonn Greene and Bishop Sankey provide the kind of rushing attack that will keep some of the pressure off of Locker?

The other big question for the Titans will be whether or not they can improve their defense. Their pass defense was 11th in the NFL last season, but their rushing defense was an anemic 20th in the league, surrendering 112.2 yards per game on the ground. They’ll need improved performances from their front seven in order to reverse that trend, but it’s unclear whether or not they can expect that kind of boost in fortunes.

Jacksonville Jaguars: 4-12

The Jaguars are a team that seems to be in a perpetual state of transition. This season will be no different, as Chad Henne keeps the starting quarterback slot warm as Blake Bortles gets familiar with the expectations of the NFL. Wide receiver Marqise Lee will also have some big shoes to fill, as Justin Blackmon misses yet more time because of suspension.

One big acquisition that could pay dividends for the Jaguars is running back Toby Gerhart. He could very well rack up carries at a rate higher than any other back in the NFL, and if he can take some of the pressure off of Henne, then the Jags’ offense should function better than it did last season.

On defense, the Jaguars have a couple of interesting components, including strong safety Johnathan Cyprien and middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, but they’ll need to make a big leap forward to really make any improvement on their dismal 2013 record.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Man Dies After Being Pulled From Lake Michigan]]> Sun, 31 Aug 2014 12:00:04 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/216*120/lake+michigan+drown+8-31.jpg

A 49-year-old man died after being rescued from Lake Michigan on Chicago's North Side Sunday morning, police said.

The man was swimming in the 5200 block of North Simonds Drive near Foster Beach when he "experienced trouble" and went under, according to Chicago Police News Affairs Officer Jose Estrada.

A witness called 911 and Chicago Fire Department crews pulled the man out of the water around 8:30 a.m.

“Witnesses saw a person go into the water and submerge,” said Deputy District Chief Ron Dorneker with the Marine and Dive Operations.

Fire crews located the man at the bottom of the lake in about 10 feet of water, Dorneker said.

He was taken in critical condition to Weiss Memorial Hospital, where was pronounced dead, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office.

His name with withheld Sunday morning pending family notification.

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<![CDATA[Cops: Homeless Man Beaten to Death in Chicago]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 10:16:01 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tlmd_police_tape_lights_generic_thumbnail.jpg

A homeless man in Chicago was beaten to death on the city’s Northwest Side Saturday night, police said.

The man was in an alley in the 1900 block of North Ridgeway Avenue in the city’s Logan Square neighborhood when two men exited a vehicle and began beating him, police said.

The men beat the victim’s head and body with their hands and feet, according to Chicago Police News Affairs Officer Jose Estrada.

The man was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said.

The Cook County Medical Examiner's office identified the man as 57-year-old Ernesto Garcia.

Police said the man appeared to be homeless.

"Regardless of whether he was homeless or not he's still human," said community activist Andrew Holmes. "A lot of these assaults that been taking place beating the homeless go unreported and the reason they go unreported is because they figure nobody cares, but we care, I care and we're just trying to find the individuals that beat this guy to death."

Holmes was patrolling the area Sunday afternoon hoping to find witnesses or see if surveillance cameras may have captured footage of the suspects.

"Each and every day someone is always picking on the homeless," Holmes said. "If they try to defend themselves they get jumped on, they get beat, they get assaulted... it shouldn't have gone this far."

Area residents say the attack was surprising for the community.

"It was so close to home," said Enrique Ruiz. "I thought nothing like this would happen around here."

Many in the area said Garcia frequently slept in the alley and was friendly those who lived nearby.

"People around here liked him," said resident George Bermudez. "He was really nice. I was shocked. I just said hi to him in the a.m., I didn't know someone I knew was going to die."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

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<![CDATA[2 Dead, 30 Wounded in Holiday Weekend Shootings]]> Sun, 31 Aug 2014 22:16:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Violence+8-31+edit.png

At least two people have been killed and 30 others wounded in Chicago amid a long Labor Day weekend.

The weekend's first homicide took place late Friday night in the city's Back of the Yards neighborhood.

A 36-year-old man was found on the sidewalk around 10:45 p.m. in the 5400 block of South Damen Avenue with gunshot wounds to the head and thigh. He was transported to John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County where he was pronounced dead, according to authorities.

A 34-year-old man died less than five hours after he was shot on the city's South Side Saturday morning.

The man was shot in the abdomen in the 10900 block of South Racine Avenue and was transported to Stroger Hospital in critical condition.

The Cook County Medical Examiner's office confirmed the man, identified as Darius Sept, was later pronounced dead at 5:41 a.m. at Advocate Christ Medical Center.

Several shootings occurred during barbecues and block parties throughout the city Saturday and Sunday as 21 people were wounded.

  • Around 3:15 p.m. Saturday, a 31-year-old man was shot in the 10000 block of South Perry Avenue. The man was sitting in a vehicle parked on the street when a man walked up and opened fire. The victim was shot in the head and taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in stable condition.
  • Around 11:10 p.m., a 29-year-old man was shot at a block party in the 3600 block of West 56th Place in the West Elsdon neighborhood, police said. The man told police he was outside at the party when he "heard shots and felt pain." The man was transported to Advocate Christ Medical Center in good condition with a gunshot wound to the leg.
  • About 30 minutes earlier, a 20-year-old man was shot during a physical altercation in the 5900 block of South Mozart Street in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood. The man was fighting with another man when he was shot in the leg, police said. He was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in good condition. 
  • Just before 1 a.m. Sunday, police said a 34-year-old man was shot in the arm at outside of a house party in the 6800 block of South Loomis Boulevard. The man was approached by an armed offender who then opened fire, striking him in the arm, police said. The victim was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in stable condition.
  • Around 1:40 a.m., a 20-year-old man was shot in the chest during a robbery at a party in the 1000 block of North Monitor Avenue. Police said the man told officers he was at a party when someone walked up with a handgun and announced a robbery. When the victim fought the offender he was shot in the chest. The victim was taken to West Suburban Medical Center in serious condition.
  • Just before 2 a.m., two people were shot in the 6700 block of South Ada Street. A 20-year-old woman was shot in the foot and taken to Holy Cross Hospital in stable condition. A 21-year-old woman was shot in both legs and taken to Mercy Hospital where she was also listed in stable condition. Police said the victims were outside at a block party with a group of people when someone fired into the group.
  • A 26-year-old man was shot around 2:30 a.m. in the 100 block of North Wood Street in the West Town neighborhood, police said. The man was shot in the leg while exiting his vehicle and was taken to Stroger Hospital in stable condition, according to authorities.
  • A few minutes after 3 a.m., a 20-year-old man was shot in the 8800 block of South Burley Avenue. Police said the man was shot in the right arm and taken to Trinity Hospital in good condition, but details surrounding the shooting weren't immediately available.
  • Just after 4 a.m., police said two women were shot leaving a party with a group of people in the 11700 block of South La Salle Street in the West Pullman neighborhood. A 56-year-old woman and a 52-year-old woman were both shot in their legs and were taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in stable condition. The pair told police they were standing outside a residence on the block after leaving a party with a group of people when someone walked up and opened fire.
  • Around 5:25 a.m., a 20-year-old man was shot when a man walked up to him and opened fire in the 7800 block of South Constance Avenue. The victim was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in stable condition with a gunshot wound to the upper back.
  • Just after 6 a.m., a 43-year-old man was shot in the arm, leg and lower back in the 8000 block of South Merrill Avenue and taken in serious condition to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Details surrounding the shooting were not immediately available.
  • Around 4:20 p.m., a 20-year-old woman was shot in the hand in the 800 block of West 95th Street while riding in a vehicle. Someone walked up and fired shots in the vehicle she was a passenger in, police said. The driver of the vehicle left the scene and the woman tried to to drive away but struck a CTA bus. The bus driver was taken with minor injuries to an unknown hospital. The 20-year-old was taken to Little Company of Mary Hospital in stable condition, police said.
  • Just after 5 p.m. Sunday, two people were shot in the city's Rogers Park neighborhood. A 28-year-old man and a 29-year-old woman were shot in the 1300 block of West Morse Avenue. The pair were walking on the block when they said they heard shots and felt pain. The man was suffered a graze wound to the head and was in stable condition at St. Francis Hospital. The woman was shot in the chest and listed in critical condition also at St. Francis Hospital. It was not clear if they were the intended victims.
  • At about 8:20 p.m. a 54-year-old man was shot in the 5700 block of South Keeler. He was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in good condition. Details surrounding the shooting were not immediately available.
  • Just before 9 p.m., two men were shot in the Rogers Park neighborhood, marking the second shooting in the neighborhood Sunday evening. The men, whose ages were not immediately known, were shot in the 7400 block of North Ridge Avenue. One man was shot in the leg and was taken to Illinois Masonic Medical Center in serious condition. The other was shot in the abdomen, shoulder and leg and was taken to Saint Francis Hospital where his condition had been stabilized.
  • Around 9:15 p.m., two people were shot near 95th Street and Oglesby Avenue. Police could not immediately confirm details surrounding the shooting.

At least 9 others were wounded in shootings since Friday evening.

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<![CDATA["Several Family Members" Found Dead in Suburban Home]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 07:00:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/216*120/elmhurst+2.jpg

An elderly couple and their two adult children were found shot to death Saturday in a home in west suburban Elmhurst, police said.

Joan Stack and Francis Stack, both 82, as well as Francis Stack Jr., 48, and Mary Stack, 57, were killed, officials said. A longtime neighbor described the children as disabled and their mother as ailing.

All four were shot in the head, the DuPage County Coroner's office said Sunday, citing preliminary information. Officials said Francis Stack had committed suicide and the other three were killed, and a death investigation is ongoing.

All four victims had visible gunshot wounds, and a weapon was recovered from the scene, police said.

Few details were released surrounding the deaths, but police at a news conference Saturday said officers were conducting a well-being check at a home in the 600 block of Chatam just before 7 p.m. when they discovered the victims dead inside the home. 

Longtime neighbor Pete Sterchele described the victims were an elderly couple and their two disabled children.

"[Frank] was in a very difficult situation," said Sterchele. "Two severely handicapped children, his wife with cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. She was bed-ridden, the children had to be looked over 24 hours a day and Frank was losing mobility."

Police do not believe there is any immediate threat to the community, according to Elmhurst Police Chief Michael Ruth.

Neighbors told NBC Chicago they saw armed police officers approaching the home Saturday evening.

Many in the community were shocked by the incident.

"They were great people," said neighbor Al Watson. "I mean, if you had a problem, you come over ,talk to [Frank], he could help you with about anything."

The Detective Section of the Elmhurst Police Department is investigating the incident, police said.

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<![CDATA[White Sox Honor JRW at U.S. Cellular Field]]> Sun, 31 Aug 2014 09:16:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/194*120/454397510.jpg

The celebration for the Jackie Robinson West All-Stars in Chicago continued this weekend as the little leaguers stepped out onto U.S. Cellular Field with the Chicago White Sox.

The team stood alongside the White Sox for a special pregame celebration honoring their success in the Little League World Series.

"It just takes your breath away," said Annie Haley, President of Jackie Robinson West. "Heavenly."

All eyes were on the young players as they took a lap around the bases, slapping hands with the professionals.

"I'm real happy," said player Trey Hondras. "It's real exciting."

Each player received an autographed White Sox jersey with their number and a backpack stuffed with school supplies and a copy of "Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season.".

"I think it's important for the kids to realize how happy everybody is for them," said White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.

Chicago White Sox Charities also presented the team with a $20,000 donation. Sox officials also announced that the team's Little League World Series U.S. Championship will be commemorated with a special plaque at U.S. Cellular Field to be unveiled during the 2015 season.

Earlier Saturday, JRW got the royal treatment at a breakfast of champions hosted by the Rainbow PUSH Coalition alongside their former opponent and fellow little league star Mo'ne Davis from Philadelphia. 

"Thanks for inviting me to celebrate with the team," she said. "Just thank you."

The team is also expected to be honored by the Chicago Cubs on Monday and will visit Disney World next weekend. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>