<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - National & International News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/national-international http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Wed, 27 Aug 2014 06:03:15 -0500 Wed, 27 Aug 2014 06:03:15 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Serial Stowaway Arrested in Phoenix]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 03:36:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/140826-marilyn-hartman-serial-stowaway-phoenix.jpg

The serial stowaway who got through airport security and boarded an LA-bound flight earlier this month was arrested in Arizona on Tuesday, less than two weeks after being released from jail early since violating her probation at LAX.

Marilyn Hartman, 62, was arrested at Sky Harbor Airport after being spotted loitering in the baggage claim area, Phoenix Police Sgt. Trent Crump said.

Hartman was spotted in the same airport Aug. 20 trying to enter a security checkpoint, Crump said.

Police first said Hartman was seen in the airport Aug. 14, but they corrected the date to Aug. 20. Officers gave her a trespass warning and removed her from the airport, police said.

A judge earlier this month ordered Hartman to serve 177 days in jail for wandering through LAX terminals on Aug. 7 after being told the previous day to "stay away from LAX" and placed on 24 months probation.

She was released Aug. 16 -- three days after being sentenced -- because of jail overcrowding, LA County sheriff's officials said.

Hartman was first arrested Aug. 4 at Los Angeles International Airport after Los Angeles police say she got through security at Mineta San Jose International Airport and boarded an LA-bound flight.

Hartman has previously breached security at San Francisco International Airport and has a history of trying to get on flights without a ticket, officials said. She had at least seven encounters with police at SFO and was arrested four times, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office.

Details about how Hartmen traveled to Arizona were not immediately clear.

Photo Credit: Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office]]>
<![CDATA[American ISIS Fighter Was Employed as Care Worker]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 05:24:15 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/184*120/Douglas-McCain-ISIS-fighter.jpg

The former San Diegan who was killed while fighting for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) once helped care for people with disabilities, his patient exclusively told NBC 7.

NBC News reported 33-year-old Douglas McCain died in a battle this weekend in Syria, according to the Free Syrian Army.

But that's not the Douglas San Diego resident Justin Filley, 38, knew.

"He was a genuine, funny, laid back person," said Filley of the man he describes as a really close friend.

For two years, McCain was employed to help take care of Filley who suffers from William’s Syndrome, a genetic condition that can lead to cardiovascular disease, developmental delays and learning disablilities.

“He was good at helping to make sure my bills were being paid and make sure I was safe,” Filley said.

NBC 7 has confirmed McCain attended San Diego City College. From his social media posts, it is hard to tell when he moved to the area, but it appears he has family in the area.

While in the city, he spent time in the Somali Community, though he was African American.

He was known at a mosque in El Cajon and reportedly converted to Islam in 2004.

"Sometimes he would get on the floor and pray," remembered Filley.

Posting under the name “Duale ThaSlaveofAllah,” McCain's social media posts turned from talk of basketball to telling a suspected ISIS member "I will be joining you guys soon."

Despite that transformation Filley, as well as McCain’s employer, says they didn’t notice his views become extreme, though they didn’t talk about religion.

Filley told NBC 7 McCain had a wife and daughter, and his manager said he unexpectedly left the area around March. Around that time, he reportedly left the U.S. for Turkey.

<![CDATA["Serial Killer" in SoCal Charged With Murder in Series of Shootings]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 02:49:51 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/140821-pacoima-fatal-shooting.jpg

A suspected "serial killer" from the San Fernando Valley was charged with murder and attempted murder Tuesday after randomly gunning down four people and wounding three others over five days, authorities said.

Alexander Hernandez, 34, was charged in the fatal shooting of a man in Pacoima on Thursday and the shooting of a couple in West Hollywood on Friday, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said.

Hernandez is not charged in the other attacks. Investigators said they were building a case to bring more charges against Hernandez.

"This man was and is a serial killer," said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Chief of Detectives Bill McSweeney.

Investigators said Hernandez was the sole suspect in a string of shootings that started Wednesday morning when a 42-year-old employee of the city of Glendale was struck by gunfire as she was getting off the 5 Freeway in Atwater Village. She suffered life-threatening injuries, police said.

The next morning, Hernandez allegedly shot and killed Gildardo Morales, 48, as the victim was driving his pickup truck to work in Pacoima.

On Friday night, Hernandez opened fire on a husband and wife who were in their pickup truck in West Hollywood, prosecutors said. The couple was able to flee uninjured.

The following day, Hernandez allegedly shot three dogs in Pacoima, killing two and injuring one.

On Sunday, three people, including two women waiting to go to church, were killed and several others were wounded in separate shootings that happened in a span of 55 minutes and within a 5-mile radius in the San Fernando Valley. The victims included a family of five who were all struck by gunfire as they drove to morning mass.

Hernandez was taken into custody later that night on an animal cruelty charge after an hours-long standoff with SWAT. Police said he was in possession of a pistol-grip shotgun that they believe was used in the attacks.

The gunman's tan or gold SUV was tied to the shootings, investigators said.

"This is an individual that was out randomly shooting people," said Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese of the Los Angeles Police Department. "As crazy as that sounds, that's what happened. I don’t know what his motive may have been."

Prosecutors said Hernandez, a documented gang member from Sylmar, is charged with one count of murder with the special circumstance of shooting at an occupied vehicle, two counts of attempted murder, one count of shooting at an occupied vehicle and three counts of animal cruelty.

He also is charged with two counts of discharge of a firearm with gross negligence, one count of possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of ammunition.

The special circumstance of a drive-by shooting could make Hernandez eligible for the death penalty, prosecutors said.

Hernandez is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday. He was jailed on a no-bail hold.

Albanese said more charges were expected against Hernandez as soon as the next several days.

It was not immediately clear if Hernandez had a lawyer.

<![CDATA[Parents Sue Day Care Accused of Duct Taping Child]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 22:53:03 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/galbraith-duct-tape-082614.jpg

A Parker County, Texas, day care accused of using duct tape to restrain two young boys in June is now being sued by one of the boys' parents.

"I feel like this should never happen to any child," said the boy's mother Kristi Galbraith.

"I was angry, I was shocked, I felt an extreme amount of guilt about how I could have chosen a place that would do this to my child," said Galbraith.

The lawsuit also claims one other child was left alone at Heart 2 Heart Montessori Academy in Willow Park and water was withheld from other children in an effort to reduce diaper changes.

"It's about sending a message to day care centers that this conduct, this behavior will not be tolerated," said the Galbraith's Dallas attorney Jeff Rasansky.

Heart 2 Heart Montessori Academy remains open but with fewer children in its care after many parents moved their children to other day cares.

Now, Willow Park police are close to wrapping up their investigation and expect to pursue criminal charges in the next week to 10 days.

"It will be presented to the grand jury and we will let them make a decision on whether or not there's sufficient grounds for a criminal case to be continued," said Willow Park Police Chief Brad Johnson.

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Child Care Licensing Division also expects to complete its investigation soon, perhaps even this week, according to spokeswoman Marissa Gonzales.

The Galbraiths say they have not yet been interviewed by state investigators.

"So we feel like it's our time to stand up and get some justice," said Kristi Galbraith.

The Heart 2 Heart Montessori Academy issued a statement after the incident promising to "cooperate fully with any investigation," but has not commented yet on these latest developments.

The mother of the second child who she claims was also restrained with duct tape told NBC 5 late Tuesday that she will meet with her attorney this week to go over her legal options.

NBC 5's Bianca Castro contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Galbraith Family Photo]]>
<![CDATA[Mom Begs For Son Missing in Israel]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 20:16:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/198*120/Aaron+Sofer+parents.jpg

In a voice that trembles, then breaks, Chulda Sofer pleads for help finding her son, Aaron, who went missing during a hike in the Jerusalem Forest – a long way from the home he shares with nine siblings in Lakewood, New Jersey.

“I want to thank everyone for all their help, but I ask you please, please, please — I beg of you, I beg you, please — if anyone sees any whereabouts of Aaron, please call the police immediately,” Chulda says, holding up a “missing” poster that shows her 23-year-old son, smiling in his traditional Orthodox Jewish clothing and black hat.

Aaron Sofer is an ultra-Orthodox yeshiva student pursuing his religious studies in Israel. He disappeared while hiking Friday in the Jerusalem Forest. He was there with a friend, and the two became separated while navigating a steep incline, the friend told police when he reported Aaron missing six hours later.

Sofer’s parents flew from New Jersey to Israel over the weekend to join the ongoing search, which has included hundreds of volunteers, K9s on the ground and helicopters overhead. Jerusalem Post reporter Daniel K. Eisenbud videotaped the emotional pleas from Sofer’s parents at Mount Herzl, which is the site of Israel’s national cemetery and also adjacent to the Jerusalem Forest.

Sofer's family fears he may have been kidnapped or attacked by Palestinian militants.The area where he disappeared is the same forest where Israeli extremists are accused of killing a Palestinian teenager in retaliation for the murders of three Israeli teens in June.

In the videotaped message, Aaron’s father, Moshe, thanks law enforcement agencies in both countries, including the FBI and Israeli police, for their help. “The police are working tirelessly on all fronts and all options are being strongly investigated," he says.

Back home in the Ocean County, New Jersey, town where Aaron grew up, two of his younger brothers made brief appeals today before attending a community prayer service.

“Just please bring back our brother. I’m talking on behalf of the whole family that’s in America. He’s my brother right over me. I just have one message: Please bring back my brother,” said Yaakov Sofer.

Aaron’s brother-in-law Yehuda Wicentowsky described the missing man as a very kind and nice person and asked the public to keep pressure on the governments involved in his search. The sentiment from a seasoned New York politician was not as diplomatic.

“There’s a sense that not enough was done from the very, very beginning,” said Dov Hikind, a New York City assemblyman. He called for the Israeli government to ramp up their efforts and treat the search for Sofer the same as they would for an Israeli soldier.

“Because we know what the Israeli government does when an Israeli soldier goes missing. Every resource in the world is put into it. And Aaron is a soldier," he said.

The Sofer family is offering 100,000 shekels, which is equivalent to about $28,000, for information that leads to Aaron’s whereabouts. They’ve launched a website – Search for Sofer – to help fund the search and reward.

Photo Credit: Daniel K. Eisenbud | Jerusalem Post]]>
<![CDATA[Surfer Dies After Being Pulled From Water in Malibu]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 05:29:22 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/215*120/surfpic.JPG

A surfer died after being pulled from the water unconscious near Surfrider Beach in Malibu as Hurricane Marie kicked up 7-foot waves and a high-surf advisory was in effect, officials said.

The incident happened at 11:20 a.m. near the Malibu Pier. The man, who was in his 50s, was unconscious when he was rescued from the water near the legendary pointbreak of Surfrider Beach.

"He was found unconscious," said Los Angeles County Lifeguard Capt. Tim McNulty. "I don't know if he suffered some sort of trauma or had some kind of medical issue."

Earlier, lifeguards responded to a swimmer-in-distress call in Palos Verdes. Rescuers pulled the swimmer out of the water and he was walking.

A big south swell coming from Baja California and stirred up from Hurricane Marie has been picking up through the day Tuesday, sending waves up to 2 feet overhead along some south-facing beaches in Southern California, forecasters said.

The big waves raised fears of flooding and powerful rip currents through Friday and created "extremely dangerous" conditions for swimmers and surfers, forecasters said.

The surf was expected to peak Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday, then slowly diminish but remain strong enough to meet high surf advisory criteria through Friday, the National Weather Service reported.

An NWS high surf advisory was posted from 10 a.m. today to 6 p.m. Friday in L.A. County.

McNulty said he hasn't seen an uptick in rescues on Tuesday, mostly because the beach crowds have thinned out due to school being back in session.

The news comes as several beaches along the Palos Verdes Peninsula, about 30 miles south of downtown LA, were expected to be closed until Friday because of big waves.

<![CDATA[Fake Police Officers Steal $100K]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 05:09:32 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/216*120/Philadelphia+Police+Car+Fishtown+Food+Distribution+Theft.JPG

Two armed men pretending to be police officers made off with $100,000 from a Philadelphia food distribution center and police believe the heist could be an inside job.

The whole theft at Kawa Foods along N Delaware Avenue in the city’s Fishtown neighborhood went down in just a matter of minutes.

Investigators said it began with a knock at the door around 2 a.m. The two men at the door identified themselves as police and wore police hats – one even carried a police badge.

"We can assure you these were not police officers," said Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small.

Three workers, including a male and a female business owner, were inside at the time. The owners opened the door and that’s when the attack began.

The armed men -- wearing surgical gloves and surgical masks --  put guns to each owner’s head and demanded, “the money,” according to investigators.

"They threatened to shoot them if they did not cooperate," said Small.

The suspects appeared to know where that “money” was kept because they went about 25 feet into the safe room and stole two bags of cash worth around $100,000, investigators said.

One of the men held the owners at gunpoint while the other stole the cash, Small said.

The men quickly left, but not before trying to cover their tracks.

“They then tried to tear some of the recording video equipment off the wall, which they did -- threw it to the ground – then they exited through the same door that they entered,” said Small.

The men then jumped into a dark-colored mid-2000s Chevrolet Trailblazer SUV and drove off west on Susquehanna Avenue.

Police said no one at the food warehouse, which distributes emergency food supplies and specialty foods, was hurt.

Investigators said despite the attempts to destroy video evidence that some surveillance video survived. Police hope that video will help them track down the suspects.

Investigators worked on the assumption that the robbers knew what they were looking for.

""It's dark, it's very convoluted back here," said Small. "There's always a possibility that somebody knew where they were going and knew where the money was inside this property."

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[More Quakes, Aftershocks Rock Napa]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 20:05:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/178*120/454081604_10.jpg

Five small quakes and aftershocks rumbled through wine country early Tuesday, days after the biggest earthquake in 25 years hit the Bay Area.

The shaking in the wee hours of the morning startled and concerned residents 75 miles away in Mountain View and in nearby Vallejo. Anna Solberg of Vallejo, five miles from the epicenters, said she felt her house shake "from left to right."

But that shaking was much gentler than what she felt in her home on Sunday, when a 6.0-magnitude quake rocked the same area around 3:20 a.m. That was the largest earthquake to impact the Bay Area since the 1989 magnitude-6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake.

"My first thought was 'Oh my gosh, another earthquake,''' she told NBC Bay Area by phone, adding that she had been in bed awake just as the quakes hit. "But I just heard felt one thud."

Still, she acknowledged she felt about "half as much" shaking Tuesday as she had felt Sunday.

The U.S. Geological Survey clocked a magnitude-3.9 temblor and three aftershocks striking between 5:30 a.m and 6 a.m. just a few miles from  American Canyon.

The aftershocks were reported at 2.7, 2.8 and 3.0 magnitudes. A fifth magnitude-2.5 aftershock hit four miles south of Napa at 10:56 a.m. An aftershock is a smaller earthquake following a large earthquake in the same region.

Despite the number of temblors – four in 90 minutes – there didn't seem any damage reports, according to Barry Martin, community outreach coordinator for Napa. He said crews would be going out again to check for any water line breaks and power outages.

The four aftershocks hit in the same general region where the South Napa earthquake struck Sunday, requiring hundreds of buildings to be red- and yellow-tagged, mostly in the heart of historic downtown Napa. A post office, library and a 141-room hotel were among more than 160 homes and buildings either deemed unsafe to occupy or enter.

Aftershocks are quite common, even expected.

"Anytime you have an earthquake, the probability of another earthquake goes up," Cecily Wolfe of the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program told NBC News.

Earthquakes tend to come in clusters. NBC News reported there is currently a 29 percent chance that a magnitude-5 or higher quake will hit in the next seven days, according to Northern California Seismic System (NCSS) probability report.

In fact, experts say that there is a 5 to 10 percent chance of something bigger than a 6.0-magnitude quake coming in the next week, according to the NCSS report.

NBC's Joe Fryer was staying in a hotel in Vallejo and awoke when he felt the first earthquake Tuesday.

"It was the strongest aftershock since the main earthquake hit," he said.

Sunday's South Napa earthquake hit along the West Napa Fault, the most seismically active of the faults, according to the USGS.

But as for John King, a Napa resident who was busy on Tuesday morning carting his damaged water heater to one of the city dumping spots, earthquakes are the price you pay for living in the Bay Area.

"It's a beautiful place to live," King said. "This is what goes with it. You get it together, and you move on."

 NBC Bay Area's Shelby Hansen and Bob Redell contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Man Dies After Becoming Trapped Underneath Boulder]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 04:00:57 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/Raymond+Police.jpg

A New Hampshire man was crushed to death as he tried to free a large boulder in his yard Monday night, according to Raymond police.

Police responded to the residence at Roy Street at 7:19 after the victim was discovered by his wife, who called 911.

The victim, Paul Comeau Jr., 47, had been working on removing the boulder from his yard over the past several months. He dug around the boulder in an attempt to free it.

Police say at one point the boulder became dislodged and pinned Comeau to the wall of the ditch.

The boulder was estimated to weigh around 6,000 pounds, and a tow truck was required to lift it off Comeau’s body. First responders to the scene said he was not conscious and not breathing. He was pronounced dead on the scene.

Photo Credit: Raymond Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Slain on Philly Basketball Court During Cookout]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 02:34:01 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Robert-Reid.jpg

A teenage boy was shot and killed on a basketball court during a neighborhood cookout in North Philadelphia Tuesday night.

Investigators say the victim, identified by loved ones as 17-year-old Robert Reid, was playing basketball at the Hartranft Rec Center on the 2400 block of North 9th Street around 8:40 p.m. A cookout with around 100 people was also taking place next to the court.

Suddenly, police say, an unidentified gunman fired ten shots. Reid was struck several times in the chest and head. Responding medics tried to revive the teen but were unable to. He was pronounced dead a short time later.

Witnesses told police they spotted another 17-year-old boy wearing a baseball cap and dark t-shirt, running down 8th Street moments after the shooting. Police suspect the fleeing teen was the shooter and that Reid was his intended target.

"We know that the shooter was in pretty close proximity to the victim," said Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small.

No one else was hurt during the shooting. Police are currently interviewing witnesses and reviewing surveillance video.

A referee during the game told NBC10 that Reid was a basketball player. He described Reid as a "great kid" who played at the Rec Center every day. The referee also said the goal of the rec center's basketball league is to get children and teens away from the violence in their neighborhood.

A family friend also told NBC10 Reid lived with his mother about two blocks away from the court.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Oldest Library in Danger of Closing]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 03:14:21 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Darby-Free-Library.jpg

For more than two centuries, the Darby Free Library has remained both a vital part of its community as well as a historical landmark. Built in 1743 by Quakers, it remains the oldest public library in the nation. But a financial crisis has left it in danger of shutting down by the end of the year.

Currently 60 percent of Darby residents and 1,500 people a month regularly use the library’s services.

“I use the computer,” said Kiarra Powell. “If I need any books, they help me find my books.”

Yet despite the community support, the library is in the midst of a financial crisis. Recent state cuts wiped out $50,000 in the library’s operating budget.

“Money is scarce here,” said Darby library board president Jay McCalla. “We’ve been able to stay afloat and keep our doors open by doing things we didn’t want to do: cutting back on the benefits to our employees, and cutting back on books that we were ordering.”

While the budget cuts keep coming, the bills continue to add up, including a $7,000 electric bill employees at the library say they’re unable to pay. Many local families who rely on the library for resources are concerned about the possible closure.

“I grew up here, to be honest,” Powell said. “This is kind of like family. Hearing that it could be getting shut down, it really affects me and my son.”

McCalla is hoping that doesn’t happen.

“It would be a crime to lose this unique resource that’s not just unique to Darby,” McCalla said. “No other community in America has this library, the oldest in the nation.”

McCalla says they may have to make a decision on whether or not to close the library sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

According to McCalla, state and federal officials can’t give them money to keep the library open. Instead, the money must come from the Darby Borough or those willing to lend a helping hand.

If you would like to donate or volunteer, visit the Darby Free Library website.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-HHS Official Guilty of Kid Porn]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 18:09:54 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tlmd_gavel_shutterstock_120159574.jpg

A former U.S. Department of Health and Human Services official was convicted Tuesday on child pornography charges, and could face up to life in prison when sentenced.

A jury found Timothy DeFoggi, 56, formerly of Germantown, Maryland, and the former acting director of cyber security for HHS, guilty on three counts, after a four-day trial in Nebraska federal court.

The most serious of those charges, of engaging in a child exploitation enterprise, alone carries a sentence of 20 years to life in prison, DeFoggi's lawyer John S. Berry Jr. said.

According to prosecutors, trial evidence showed that DeFoggi accessed and exchanged child porn from a specific website between March 2, 2012, and Dec. 8, 2012, when the FBI shut the website down.

Prosecutors said that he also exchanged messages with other members of the site to express his interest in rape and murder fantasies involving children, and that evidence showed that he suggested meeting another member in person to fulfill those fantasies.

DeFoggi is set to be sentenced Nov. 7.

Berry said he and his client were still deciding whether to move for a new trial.

The case, Berry said, raised "many interesting and complex issues," as well as questions about his client's Fourth Amendment rights with regard to searches of his home and computer.

"There was quite a bit of searching by the government, and one of the issues is whether those searches were in fact legal," Berry said. He said there were also questions as to whether evidence were admissible and whether it was sufficient to convict his client.

DeFoggi's conviction was part of an investigation by the Justice Department into three websites containing exploitative material involving children.

The administrator of all three sites was also convicted for engaging in a child pornography enterprise. DeFoggi's conviction is the sixth in the investigation.

--Additional reporting by Sam Schulz

<![CDATA[HP Recalls Computer Power Cords for Burn Hazard]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 00:47:55 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/20140826+PowerCord.jpg

Hewlett-Packard is recalling almost 5.6 million power cords in the U.S. for notebook computers because they can overheat and catch fire.

Two people have reported they suffered burns and 13 people have experienced minor property damage as a result of the overheating cords, HP said. HP has had 29 reports of the cords heating up or catching fire.

The power cords were distributed with HP and Compaq notebook and mini notebook computers and docking stations. The power cords are black and have an “LS-15” molded mark on the AC adapter end.

Customers should immediately stop using and unplug the recalled power cords and contact Hewlett-Packard to order a free replacement. Consumers can continue to use the computer on battery power.

The recall also covers almost 500,000 cords in Canada.

For more information on the recall, click here.

<![CDATA[Parents Demanding Answers From SJPD]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 23:50:05 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/0826-2014-DianaShowman.jpg

The parents of a San Jose woman killed by police after she allegedly threatened to kill her family are demanding answers and a full investigation by the district attorney's office.

Diana Showman, 19, was fatally shot by an officer outsider her home after coming out holding a black power drill. Police were responding to reports of a woman holding an "uzi-type weapon" in the Blossom Hill Road neighborhood.

"She liked movies, you know?" Jim Showman said of his daughter. "And I think a lot of times she would fantasize of something, and I almost think that's probably what occurred."

Police said Diana ignored demands from officers to put down the weapon. The woman was shot and killed when police said she pointed the weapon, later identified as a power drill, at officers. The incident was captured on cell phone video and both police and her parents are calling for a thorough investigation.

Family said Diana struggled with mental health issues. Her parents said trained officers should take that into consideration and not resort to lethal force.

"She was a good girl -- she had challenges, we loved her," said Vickie Showman, Diana's mother. I want the police to be more careful. I want them to be more compassionate."

Police in response said officers are sympathetic and point out many cops, including the one who shot Diana have training in dealing with the mentally ill.

But police said officers in this case had seconds to respond to Diana's actions.

"The events unfolded very quickly and very rapidly," San Jose Police Sgt. Heather Randol said. "And the officer had to react to a threat."

Diana's parents and their attorney, Steven Clark, are also upset that after the shooting they were taken away, isolated, and interviewed for hours.

"I finally got angry and opened the door and said, 'What your guys are doing is cruel. We didn't know if our daughter is alive. What has happened? You've told us nothing.'" Jim Showman said.

Vickie Showman said the police interviews felt like they were being treated as criminals.

"We were kept apart," she said. "We weren't taken to the hospital where my baby died alone."

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[11 Dogs Die in NJ Fire: Sources]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 04:29:32 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/elizabeth+nj+house+fire.jpg

A large fire ripped through a New Jersey home containing several animals, sending up a ball of fire and heavy black smoke before part of it collapsed under the heat, killing 11 dogs inside, officials say. 

It's not clear what sparked the devastating fire in Clifton Monday afternoon, though authorities don't consider it suspicious. 

"It seemed to progress pretty quickly, seemed to be happening in the back of the house," said neighbor Jenna Ricciardi. 

It appeared to start as smoke coming from an annex to the house, but the fire quickly took over, officials said. The roof later collapsed under the heat.

No people were inside at the time, but there were numerous animals in the house, which was operating as a pet day care, though health officials say there was no registered listing for a business at the address. 

The operators of Your Family Pet Sitters, Tom and Laura Kieffer, promote daily and long-term care for pets from Laura Kieffer's mother's home. 

"It's really hard because we care so much about those animals," said homeowner Joan Maso. 

Tom Kieffer said he loved the animals he watched as if they were his own, but neighbors wondered if the outcome could have been different had the business been properly registered and vetted.

"It bothers me to know there were 11 dogs in there, and if you're sitting for the dogs, then you have to have some kind of backup plan for an emergency," said Justine Paitchell.

Officials say the bodies of the 11 dogs were recovered from the fire, and two are still missing but presumed dead. Two cats are still missing and also believed dead. 

Two dogs made it out of the home safely. 

Fire investigators, the ASPCA and police were on the scene. Three firefighters were taken to the hospital for minor injuries, mainly heat exhaustion, officials said. 

<![CDATA[Marine Wife Murder Not Guilty Plea]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 22:25:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Christopher_Lee_Musgot_0816.JPG

A former Marine accused of having an affair with the 19-year-old wife of a fellow Marine pleaded not guilty Tuesday to murder charges in her death, officials said.

Former Marine Cpl. Christopher Lee, 24, was extradited from Alaska to Southern California and entered the not guilty plea in Joshua Tree Superior Court, according to the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office.

Lee is accused of murdering Erin Corwin, 19, his then-neighbor in Twentynine Palms, and disposing of her body in a 14-story abandoned mine shaft in the desert near Joshua Tree National Park, officials said.

The cause of Corwin's death has not been released, but an arrest warrant released last week said .22-caliber "fired cartridge casings and pieces of rebar" were found at the scene. They are similar to casings found in Lee's vehicle and residence, according to the warrant.

Lee was arrested in Anchorage, Alaska, a day after Corwin's body was found, ending a nearly eight-week search for the woman in 300 acres of desert.

Corwin and Lee, who is married, may have been having an affair that began February, and she may have been three months pregnant with his child when she disappeared on June 28, both Corwin's friend and Lee's neighbor told investigators, according to a search warrant.

Corwin told her husband, Marine Cpl. Jonathan Corwin, she was going to Joshua Tree National Park to look for hiking trails. He reported her missing the next day.

Two days after she disappeared, her car was found in Twentynine Palms.

<![CDATA[Burning Man Converges on Wal-Mart]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 15:50:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/burning-man-AP139188049693.jpg

Ah, Burning Man, the annual weeklong rave that draws thousands of free-thinkers to a remote spot in the Nevada desert. It's a festival so remote and bizarre that the only limit to free expression is imagination ... and that dust that always gets into the electronics.

Except when it rains.

That's when the "Burners" end up in the parking lot of the Reno Wal-Mart.

Turned back at the gate to the Black Rock Desert after rare showers on Monday turned the ancient lake bottom to a muddy quagmire, hundreds of "Burners'' were forced to overnight on the Wal-Mart blacktop. Nearly a hundred other RVs pulled into the parking lot of the Grand Sierra Resort casino, across the street.

"We're just trying to stay positive," said a woman from Oakland, California, who identified herself only as "Driftwood," and was hanging out with some first-timers from Texas. "Positivity can raise everything up."

Organizers announced after midnight that they could roll onto the lake. By midmorning Tuesday all but a few dozen of the RVs were back on the road again, and by most accounts, no worse for the wear.

"We'll make the best of things," said Aviva Mohilner, a former public relations specialist from Los Angeles making her third trip. "It always works out. Burners make it good."

One New York City man loading coolers into a U-Haul on his first voyage to the desert wilderness said he was in too much of a hurry to make it to the desert Tuesday to talk. But another New Yorker, Ben Zion, asked a reporter to take a picture of him and his eight friends from Israel, all anxious first-timers. The rain delay was actually good for them, he said: "We got to get some rest and a shower."

Cuong Huynh, a four-time Burner and IT specialist from San Diego, California, said he's usually more concerned about dusty wind storms than rain, which is why he keeps his cellphone in a plastic bag.

Last year, it rained just before the festival, packing all the dirt and keeping the dust down, he said.

"Rain is really good for us, just not while you're out there," he said.

Destin Gerek, an 11-year veteran, thinks the delay will add a spark to the gathering.

"All this pent-up energy," said Gerek, 36, who teaches Burning Man workshops on the "intersection of sexuality and pirituality."

Gerek grew up in New York City, lives in California and has toured 25 different countries. "In all my travels, Burning Man is utterly unique," he said. "Absolutely nothing compares."

That was the general consensus among Burners Monday night as many of the RVs, VW buses and truck's pulling trailers gathered at a makeshift staging area under the blinking pink casino lights twinkling through the night.

It wasn't entirely unlike the contraptions that light up the weeklong desert gathering, which began at San Francisco's Baker Beach in 1986 and now culminates in the Black Rock with the burning of a towering wooden effigy Labor Day weekend. A record 68,000 people attended last year.

Still, the Wal-Mart wasn't exactly what seekers of "paradise on the playa" had in mind while driving hundreds of miles to the counter-culture festival, which offers theme camps, art exhibits, all-night music and guerrilla theater, along with a decent dose of nudity and a bunch of other stuff that's just plain weird.

One camp this year is "Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust," where participants are invited to be photographed as they "strip naked, cover in Playa dust, paint cracks on the body and finalize with red hands to simulate a connection between oneself and the desert environment."

The journey's final hours, across a dry, perfectly flat lake bed that seems to stretch on forever, is usually part of the fun.

Unless, again, it rains, covering the clay-like surface with standing water that turns to mush under the wheels of a well-equipped "Burner" crew.

Barbara Quintanilla and Bill Sanchez, who drove up from Houston in an RV, said the delay was the least of their worries.

"We made a 2,000-mile trip and none of us had ever driven an RV before. It would only go 35 mph up hills,'' Sanchez said.

Jeff Cross of Orange County, California, said the brief detour hadn't deterred his group's enthusiasm.

"It's the best festival in the world," he said. "There's no cellphones, no internet, no money or corporate sponsors."

True enough, once they reach the desert.

But while they were stuck in Reno, the rain delay provided for one last consumer capitalist opportunity.

"We have a list of 27 things we need to get at Wal-Mart," Quintanilla said.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Hernandez Evidence to Be Tossed]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 20:41:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP296842589971.jpg

A Massachusetts judge has allowed some evidence to be suppressed in the murder trial of Aaron Hernandez, court documents show.

The former star Patriots tight end had asked the court to suppress the evidence — an iPhone, a Blackberry, an iPad and two iPad minis — which was obtained when his home was searched last June after the killing of Odin Lloyd.

Defense lawyers argued that that evidence was not part of the original search warrant and that a state trooper did not have the proper paperwork when he entered Hernandez's home.

Tuesday, the Bristol County Superior Court granted that motion, allowing that evidence to be thrown out.

Earlier this month, the court denied Hernandez's motion to exclude a digital video recorder, a hard drive and Hernandez's cell phone.

The hard drive allegedly contains files showing Hernandez holding the murder weapon and his movements around the time of the murder. The phone, according to prosecutors, had text messages Hernandez sent to Lloyd, as well as the former NFL star's alleged right hand man, Ernest Wallace, on the night of the killing.

Hernandez is charged with first-degree murder in the 2013 death of Lloyd. He is also charged with the murders of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in Boston in 2012.

The Bristol County District Attorney's Office told NECN Tuesday afternoon that it cannot comment on the case, due to an ongoing gag order.

NECN will have more as this story develops.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA["Millennial" Market Not Lovin' McDonald's: Report]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 13:51:11 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/McDonalds-Blitz-Box.jpg

It looks like millennials aren’t munching on McDonald’s as much as they used to.

Customers in their 20s and 30s are choosing to dine elsewhere, particularly at “fast-casual” restaurants like Chipotle and Five Guys, according to demographics reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The report indicates younger diners are seeking out healthier options and customizable menus, creating a hurdle for McDonald's as it grapples with one of its worst slumps in the last decade.

According to the data, the percentage of customers age 19 to 21 who visited McDonald’s monthly has fallen by 12.9 percentage points since 2011, and the percentage of customers age 22 to 37 visiting the chain in the same period stayed flat.

In turn, the percentage of customers in those age groups visiting fast-casual restaurants monthly during that same time period grew by 2.3 and 5.2 percentage points.

It’s a trend that the world’s largest hamburger chain has been trying to overcome after a reported global decline.

The Illinois-based chain reported earlier this month that a key sales figure fell 2.5 percent in July, due in part to persistent weakness in the U.S.

While the company attributes a 7.3 drop in an international unit encompassing Asia, the Middle East and Africa to a recent food safety scandal in China, changing food habits could be the culprit for the 3.2 percent drop in the U.S.

Chains like Chipotle, for instance, are gaining favor by touting more wholesome ingredients and the ability to customize food.

Last month, McDonald’s ranked last for burger taste in a Consumer Reports survey of 32,405 subscribers. Respondents in the survey continuously favored the so-called fast casual restaurants over some of the mega-chains like McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Burger King.

“Fast-casual dining in places like Chipotle and Panda Express lets the consumer guide the staff to prepare their meal just the way they like it,” said Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic, a food-service research and consulting firm that compiled the data for the Wall Street Journal.

McDonald’s is attempting to make waves in the younger market, once a prominent audience for the chain, by introducing healthier options and debuting apps and mobile pay options.

McDonald’s Global Chief Brand Officer Steve Easterbrook told the Wall Street Journal the millennial generation is “promiscuous in their brand loyalty,” making it more difficult to earn their loyalty. 

Easterbrook cited a wider range of choices for the shift in preference for younger generations.

The chain has also noted menu issues and cited financial struggles for lower-income customers as reasons for the U.S. drop.

McDonald's CEO Don Thompson said the company complicated its menu and slowed down service by introducing too many items too quickly. He said the company is working on getting the basics right — such as improving service.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[NJ Student Missing in Israel]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 09:47:19 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Aaron+Sofer+Facebook+picture.jpg

UPDATE: New Jersey lawmakers spoke about Aaron Sofer's disappearance at a Tuesday morning press conference.

Three days into the search for a New Jersey student missing in Israel, his family is asking for intervention from the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), according to the Jerusalem Post.

Aaron Sofer, 23, disappeared Friday while hiking in the Jerusalem Forest with a friend. The two became separated while making their way along a steep incline. Sofer has not been seen since and now his family and members of his community back home in Lakewood, New Jersey, fear he may have become a victim of the Gaza-Israeli conflict.

"Obviously, the concern that he may have been abducted is there because of the volatile events," said Meir Lichtenstein, a Lakewood committeeman and former mayor.

Several hours after Sofer disappeared, the Ocean County man's friend contacted police and filed a missing person report, according to the Jerusalem Post. Since then, hundreds of volunteers have aided police and rescue organizations in searching for Sofer, but so far there has been no sign of him and no indication of what happened to him.

"A physically, mentally and emotionally healthy young man does not go missing for 72 hours," family spokesman Dov Hirth told the Jerusalem Post on Monday.

"They've sent a whole set of K-9s into the area tonight and tomorrow they will start new search patterns," said Lichtenstein who spoke late Monday with officials in Israel.

Another teen with ties to Lakewood — 16-year-old Naftaly Frenkel — was kidnapped in the West Bank and killed this summer, along with two other Israeli teens. Frenkel's aunt lives in Lakewood, a community of about 100,000. The growing population of Orthodox Jews came together to support Frenkel's family.

The kidnapping and murders of the three teens was one of the key factors leading to the summer conflict.

Last month, Muhammad Abu Khdeir, a 16-year-old Palestinian boy, was kidnapped and killed in an alleged revenge attack. Abu Khdeir was beaten and burned to death in the same forest where Sofer is missing. Spokesman Dov Hirth said the family wants Israeli forces involved in the search for Sofer because of the Abu Khdeir killing and because of increased tension between Israelis and Palestinians.

"I don't know if they have any physical evidence that he [Sofer] was kidnapped," Lichtenstein said, explaining that the Jerusalem forest is bordered by both Jewish and Arab communities. "Three days is a pretty long time to be searching a relatively small area."

Sofer's family is in Israel now. Lakewood's mayor, Menashe P. Miller will be joined by other lawmakers on Tuesday at 10 a.m. for a news conference at Lakewood's Town Hall. They'll brief the community on the latest efforts by the U.S. and Israel to find Sofer.

Photo Credit: Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Stafffer Fired For Racist Caption]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 00:23:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Photo-Caption-Racial-Slurs.jpg

A controversial photo caption using racial slurs to describe a group of Asians led to the firing of an employee at a Philadelphia newspaper.

The caption was written underneath a photo published in the Philadelphia Public Record. The photo shows Councilman Mark Squilla posing with a group of Asians during a fundraiser at a Chinatown restaurant last week. Instead of their real names, the Asians were referred to as “C****y Winky,” “Dinky Doo” and “Me Too.”

The Public Record's publisher Jimmy Tayoun, 84, first issued a written apology in the paper.

“In our Aug. 21, 2014 issue an offensive slur was accidentally published in the Philadelphia Public Record,” Tayoun wrote. “This shocking lapse of professional conduct occurred contrary to our editorial directives and in no way reflects the views of our staff or our organization.”

Monday morning, Tayoun fired the staffer responsible for the caption, though he has not identified him. Tayoun also spoke to NBC10 about the controversy.

“He comes from a background where these are cute sayings,” Tayoun said. “The rest of us are to be chastised for not catching it.”

Kay Kyungsun Yu, an attorney and former head of the Philadelphia Human Rights Commission, says the caption is disrespectful and believes the paper should have acted more quickly.

“Does just firing one person address the issue of making sure that people have the right sensitivity?” Yu asked. “How could someone write these kinds of captions to begin with?”

NBC10 also reached out to Councilman Squilla, who demanded that Tayoun make a personal apology. Squilla also said his office is working with the Chinatown community to organize a meeting with Tayoun.

Tayoun, a former Philadelphia city councilman, has been at the center of controversy before.

He spent three years in prison for racketeering and tax evasion. Tayoun represented the first district, which includes Chinatown, when he served in city council.

While Tayoun admitted he wanted to “choke” the former staffer who wrote the caption when he first saw it, he also said he believes the controversy and interest in the story is dying down. Tayoun also says he’s apologized to anyone who was offended by the picture.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Dramatic Photos: Earthquake Wreaks Havoc in Napa]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 11:57:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP573502597763.jpg Here are some photos of damages resulting from the 6.0 magnitude earthquake that shook the Bay Area Sunday morning. The quake was centered near American Canyon in the North Bay.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Former FBI Director Injured in Vt. Car Crash]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 14:32:04 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Louie+Freeh.jpg

Former FBI Director Louie Freeh is being treated for serious injuries suffered from a car accident in Vermont, law enforcement said Monday.

According to Vermont State Police, Freeh has a broken leg, cuts on his head and other injuries after a car he was driving on Route 12 in Barnard crashed into a tree after he drove off the road, striking a mailbox and a row of shrubs.

Authorities say Freeh was taken by helicopter to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire to treat his injuries.

The crash is under investigation, but police say Freeh was wearing his seat belt at the time and that preliminary reports say alcohol and drugs didn't play a factor in the crash.

Freeh, 64, was FBI Director from 1993 to 2001.

In 2011, Freeh was hired by Penn State to investigate the handling of child sex abuse complaints involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, The Associated Press reported.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Dies in Texas]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 05:24:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/215*120/DEBRICK+11.jpg

An Irving, Texas, teenager died on Sunday, one day before starting his freshman year at Texas Tech University.

Dalton Debrick, 18, was found dead at a house in Lubbock not far from the Texas Tech campus about 9 a.m. Sunday, police said.

Officers had responded to a complaint about a loud party at the same house about midnight but left after giving a warning to keep it quiet.

Homicide detectives are investigating, but police have released few other details.

Debrick graduated from Nimitz High School in Irving a few months ago.

"It's all just speculation at this point," said his godmother, Laura Surles, of Palmer. “We're waiting to get the answers."

Debrick wanted to major in education and become a coach to teach young people about sports, Surles said.

She said he was popular in school and always showed his warm personality.

“He had a beautiful smile,” she said. “He was one in a million. He was a good kid."

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Napa Takes Stock of Quake Damage]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 06:42:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/CHOPPER-NAPA---15235118.jpg

Downtown Napa remained shuttered on Monday, one day after a 6.0 earthquake jolted the heart of California wine country, though power was restored to nearly all of those plunged into darkness by the strongest quake to rattle the region in 25 years.

"Overall, we've made very, very impressive progress," Napa City Manager Mike Parness said at a Monday news conference where a host of city leaders highlighted the damage and the efforts to clean up the damage in the aftermath of Sunday's big quake. "We've been in emergency mode...We hope by tomorrow we will be in recovery phase."

Residents, businesses and officials continued to take stock of the damages from the temblor, which sent hundreds to the hospital and left up to 100 homes and buildings uninhabitable. The damage included a fire at a Napa mobile home park, where three homes were destroyed.

And part of a 100-year-old church had to come down Monday because it was on the verge of collapsing. The church is directly across the street from an elementary school, so police and fire officials also decided to shut the road down just in case.

The earthquake, which struck for about 10 to 20 seconds at 3:20 a.m.  nine miles south of Napa, was the largest to shake the Bay Area since the 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta quake in 1989. Napa's fire chief said his team quashed 50 fires.

City Manager Mike Parness said Monday evening that "significant progress" was made Monday, including repairs to 30 water lines that had been reported leaking of a total of 90. Water service will be shut off for residents periodically as water lines are repaired, and Parness recommended that residents boil or run the water before using it after a shutoff.

All power has been restored to PG&E customers in Napa except in red-tagged buildings, Parness said. About 70,000 lost power immediately after the quake and 17,000 were still without power Sunday afternoon.

 As of Monday evening, inspections of Napa buildings damaged in the earthquake are about 75 percent complete, and a total of 70 buildings have now been declared uninhabitable, city officials said.

City officials have been conducting inspections throughout the day, and red-tagged an additional 21 buildings since this morning, Napa community development director Rick Tooker said at a news conference.

In 2009, Napa was ordered to retrofit 18 of its historical downtown buildings up to seismic code. Twelve had been, but six were not -- and three of those six suffered the worst damage.

In addition, more than 200 buildings have been yellow-tagged, meaning that residents and owners can return to clean and collect possessions but are unable to stay there for the time being, Tooker said.

In terms of injuries, a total of 208 patients were treated at Queen of the Valley Medical Center on Sunday, though only 17 were admitted, according to hospital president Walt Mickens. Most suffered cuts to their feet and cardiac conditions. One person suffered a cardiac emergency and was still in critical condition on Monday morning.

The most serious patient,  identified on Monday as 13-year-old Nicholas Dillon, was airlifted in in serious condition to UC Davis Hospital, after a chimney collapsed on top of him.  But his aunt, Carmen Rosales, told NBC Bay Area that the ordeal could have been worse. Her nephew, was having a sleepover on Saturday night, and quickly moved from the air mattress on which he was sleeping when he felt the first jolt. Soon afterward, the fireplace collapsed on the lower half of his body. X-rays show he suffered pelvic fractures, his aunt said, and there is no damage to his spine.

In a statement, the hospital said one person died on Sunday but doctors do not "believe this death was directly related to the earthquake." In addition, parents Connie Navarro and Angel Sanchez gave birth to a baby boy, Ismael Sanchez at 2:37 a.m. Sunday, just before the quake struck. The baby weighed in at 7 pounds, 10 ounces, the hospital reported.

An American Red Cross shelter was established Sunday at the Crosswalk Community Church at 2590 First St. and 15 people spent the night there that night, city officials said. Officials are expecting a similar number Monday night.

Damage was also reported at wineries and tasting rooms central to the region's famed wine industry, which has an estimated annual economic impact of $13 billion in Napa County alone. In nearby Vallejo, city leaders estimated the damage there cost about $5 million.

CoreLogic, which conducts natural hazard assessments, estimated the economic loss from from the quake in the region could range from $500 million to $1 billion.

The early morning wake-up call was shocking.

“We were just sleeping and all of a sudden there was enormous amount of noise and our bed started bouncing from side to side,” said Dandridge Marsh, 37, who works in the wine retail business and lives in Napa with his wife. “You could hear things falling down.”

There were at least 50 aftershocks reported following the big quake.

Street closures are continuing in the areas surrounding buildings at risk of collapse, but officials are working on building barricades surrounding those buildings so that portions of the streets can reopen.

All Napa Valley Unified School District schools were closed Monday to inspect for possible damage. Officials announced Monday afternoon public schools would be closed again on Tuesday. Napa Valley College did not suffer any major damage and will be open on Monday.

NBC Bay Area's Gonzalo Rojas, Jodi Hernandez, Marianne Favro, Shelby Hansen,  Bob Redell,  Riya Bhattacharjee and Geoffrey Eisler contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Dozens of Neglected Animals Rescued]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 08:38:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Emaciated_Horse_082014.jpg

Animal Services workers rescued 31 horses, three llamas, four miniature cattle, five geese and one dog from a San Diego County property over the weekend.

"You can see every rib on her," said Animal Services Deputy Director Dan DeSousa, talking about one of the mares. "Her spine is very very pronounced, her hip bones are very easily visible."

The animals were taken from a Valley Center property in the 28300 block of Hell Creek Road on Saturday. 

County officials say they've knonw about this livestock owner for years and have tried to ask the person to properly care for the animals. Workers even posted a warning on Aug. 16, giving the owner a chance to request a hearing to contest the animals’ seizure.

When no hearing request was filed, the county agency obtained a search warrant to rescue to the animals, according to the county.

Several horses were found to be very underweight, large animal veterinarians say, and one was pregnant. But the worst damage was done to their hooves.

“The primary issue with the majority of the livestock was a lack of hoof care,” said DeSousa. “Although easy to remedy, prolonged lack of hoof care in livestock is a painful condition that can lead to permanent and severe damage.”

The 31 horses have been taken to the county’s animal care facility in Bonita. The rest of the rescued animals are at a private ranch or the county’s Carlsbad location.

"They've all been getting excellent care, excellent food for the past couple days," said DeSousa, "but it's going to take weeks and weeks -- if not months -- to get these horses back up to weight."

The owner of the animals is not facing charges at this time. DeSousa says they are waiting for the equine veterinarian to finish examining each horse, and once that information is in hand, they will decide if charges will be filed.

A number of agencies helped in the rescue effort, including the volunteer Animal Response Team, the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA and the San Diego Sheriff’s Department.

Photo Credit: County News Center]]>
<![CDATA[Va. Town Repeals Fortunetelling Ban]]> Mon, 25 Aug 2014 21:12:22 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/crystal+ball+with+hands+722.jpg

The small Northern Virginia town of Front Royal voted Monday night to strike down a law banning magic arts and fortunetelling.

For decades, Front Royal has had a code listed among its ordinances that bans fortunetelling and the practice of magic arts. Understandably, the ban's legality and use of offensive terms like "gypsies" has come under fire.

More than 50 supporters and opponents showed up at a hearing earlier this month to voice their concerns, after a local tarot card reader was allegedly asked to stop practicing her craft because it violates city code.

Monday night, the town council voted 4-2 to repeal the ban.

Many Front Royal residents had wanted the ban to stay in place "out of fear" of harboring "Satanism," the Northern Virginia Daily reported.

Some residents, like Mary Stanford, thought striking down the law would bring chaos and crime to the small town. Stanford said she chose to live in Front Royal to keep her kids from these so-called temptations.

"These kinds of businesses do tend to attract, in part, a criminal element," Stanford said. "I don't like the idea of my kids walking down Main Street and having possibly criminal people lurking around."

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Stockbyte Silver]]>
<![CDATA[Starved Puppies Found at New Jersey Park]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 15:43:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/starved+pit+bulls+paterson.JPG

UPDATE: Starved Pup Dies Day After Rescue: Officials

Two severely emaciated dogs were found at a New Jersey park Monday morning, and authorities are looking for the person who apparently neglected, abused and dumped the puppies.

A jogger found the 6-month-old pit bull mixes at East Side Park in Paterson at about 5 a.m., according to officials. The pups should normally weigh about 50 pounds each, but they each barely hit 14 on the scale.

"This is an extreme, extreme case of neglect," said veterinarian Paul Sedlacek of the Animal Clinic of Morris Plains.

Animal control officials said it appears the young dogs had been starved for months and were likely days from death when they were dumped near the baseball fields.

When officers arrived, one of the dogs -- since named Bunny by hospital staff -- was seen standing over her litter mate, named Bugsy, apparently trying to comfort and protect him.

Bugsy still cannot stand, and vets are trying to help him recover. Both dogs are being fed, and hospital staff are working with Second Chance Pet Adoption to eventually find them a home.

"We see dogs running on the streets for a period of time that don't look this skinny," said Sedlacek. "I'm concerned, were they in someone's possession and not being fed before they were released?"

A $1,000 reward is being offered for information leading to who abused them.

"There's no such thing as bad animals in the world. There's bad people that allow it to happen," said John DeCando of Paterson Animal Control. "This has got to stop."

<![CDATA[Earthquake Warnings Worked: Experts]]> Mon, 25 Aug 2014 22:42:18 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/early-warning-ucb.jpg

University of California, Berkeley, scientists say an early-warning system gave them a 10-second alert when a 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck southwest of Napa early Sunday morning.

A video posted to YouTube shows the ShakeAlert countdown moments before the temblor was expected to be felt at the UC Berkeley Seismological Laboratory. It also sent a warning to users in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose, according to the video description.

The alert said light shaking was expected from an estimated magnitude-5.7 quake.

The early-warning system has yet to be fully funded for statewide deployment.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom told NBC Bay Area that the Napa Valley earthquake should serve to motivate California officials to make funding for the system a priority.

"It's crazy we're not funding it," Newsom said. "We have to fund it. I mean, we had a 10-second warning here, we can get up to 60 seconds (warning) most of the experts believe."

Newsom added that earthquake detection should be a top priority. He said he would like to see the Governor's Office take the issue more seriously.

"We have the technology," Newsom said. "We could provide at least a little bit of warning."

Serious policy conversations about early-detection technology are likely to take place in the coming weeks, but immediately, the state's focus will be on providing support to local first responders. Once the dust has cleared and the damage assessments have been filed, Newsom said he hopes California gets an early start on receiving early notice for the next big regional earthquake.

Richard Allen, director of the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory, said construction of the system along the West Coast would take around $38 million. The annual operational costs of the program would be roughly $16 million.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency estimates the average annual cost of earthquake damage in the U.S. is $4.4 billion.

Officials say the early warning system would be able to provide a few seconds to a minute of warning, depending on the person's distance from the epicenter of the earthquake.

The warning could come from many different sources including radio, television or smartphone applications.

UC Berkeley is hosting a conference on "Implementing Earthquake Alerts" in September to "address current challenges, lessons learned from systems currently in operation worldwide, and ultimately forge a path toward fulfillment of public early warning systems in the U.S. and around the world."

NBC Bay Area's Alyssa Goard contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: UC Berkeley Seismological Laboratory via YouTube]]>
<![CDATA[Ft. Lee Suicidal Soldier Dead]]> Mon, 25 Aug 2014 17:45:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/212*120/2014-08-25_0959.png

The soldier who shot herself at Fort Lee on Monday morning, prompting a temporary lockdown of the Army post, has died, U.S. military and law enforcement officials told NBC News.

Fort Lee officials say the shooting was reported at Combined Arms Support Command Headquarters, Building 5020 around 8:45 a.m. The woman entered the building "brandishing a small-caliber gun," which she reportedly turned on herself.

Fort Lee officials reported the "active shooter incident" around 10 a.m. Everyone inside the building was evacuated, and the post was placed on lockdown.

The woman locked herself inside a third floor office, throwing things around before putting the weapon to her head, said Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Lyons, a commanding general at Fort Lee.

The woman, who has only been identified by her rank of Sgt. 1st Class, was flown to an area hospital. Monday afternoon U.S. military officials said she had died.

Lyons said the victim has been in the Army for 14 years; she had been at Fort Lee for three years. She also spent 15 months in Iraq in 2007.

The last shooting on a military installation was reported in April, when an Iraq War veteran killed three people and injured 16 others at Fort Hood, Texas, before shooting himself. The shooter was identified was Ivan A. Lopez, 34.

Just weeks before the shooting at Fort Hood, a sailor was fatally shot at Naval Station Norfolk. Security forces on the base killed the male suspect shortly after aboard the guided-missile destroyer.

Last year, 12 people died when a government contractor began shooting inside the Navy Yard complex in Washington, D.C. Another four were injured. The gunman, a former Navy reservist identified as 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, was killed by officers.

Fort Lee is an Army post and headquarters of the U.S. Army's Combined Arms Support Command and a number of other defense training institutions. The daily population of Fort Lee averages about 34,000, including members of the military, their families and civilian contractors, according to the base’s Web site. It is the Army’s third largest training site, with as many as 70,000 troops spending time in its classrooms each year.

The base has grown enormously over the last decade as a result of base closings and its designation as a training base for military supply, maintenance, munitions and more, its Web site says.

Fort Lee is located about 25 miles south of Richmond, Virginia.

<![CDATA[9-Foot Croc Attacks Fla. Swimmer]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 05:11:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/crocodile+bite.jpg

A man was hospitalized after a 9-foot crocodile bit him in Coral Gables in the first reported crocodile attack in the United States.

Alejandro Jimenez was visiting friends at a home in the 1300 block of Lugo Avenue when he decided to go for a swim in the brackish water around 2:30 a.m. Sunday, police spokeswoman Kelly Denham said.

Crocodile attacks are unheard of in the U.S., according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which is investigating the incident.

FWC officials said the incident was even more rare because a second person was also bitten. Lissett Rendon, who was swimming alongside Jimenez, was bitten on the shoulder, but she managed to get away and swim to the dock.

"Our understanding [was] they were jumping in and out of the water," said FWC spokesman Jorge Pino. "Perhaps that attracted the attention of the crocodile."

Jimenez also managed to free himself from the crocodile, Denham said, but he suffered multiple lacerations to his arm, shoulder and back. His hand was shredded, exposing the tendons, and bite marks could be seen on the side of his torso.

Coral Gables Fire Rescue responded and took Jimenez to South Miami Hospital where he is now recovering.

The crocodile was reported to be between 8 and 9 feet long, weighs about 350 pounds, and hasn't been captured, officials said.

Neighbors said this crocodile, who they know as 'Poncho,' has visited their backyard canals for the last 10 years.

FWC officials said that there are clear warnings posted in the area that no swimming is allowed and to beware of crocodiles. While crocodiles are shy, reclusive animals, they do not differentiate between potential food sources, so officials warn to steer clear of bodies of water near dusk and dawn when crocodiles are more active.

The FWC is now trying to locate the crocodile that bit Jimenez and Rendon so it can be relocated. The crocodile will be taken somewhere that is properly licensed.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

Photo Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife and Conservation Commission]]>
<![CDATA[Random SoCal Shootings Suspect Held]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 02:15:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/barricade+sylmar+copy.jpg

Police have identified a suspect in connection with a series of random killings Sunday morning in the San Fernando Valley.

Alex Hernandez, 34, was arrested on an unrelated animal cruelty charge after an hours-long standoff with SWAT. He was accused of shooting and killing two dogs on a street a day earlier. Authorities took Hernandez into custody after a brief struggle at a home on Polk Street near Gladstone Avenue in Sylmar Sunday night.

He was being held on $1 million bail.

“The victims suffered from gunshot wounds from a shotgun and so they were linking both of them when they were writing a warrant for this individual,” said Officer Liliana Preciado of the LAPD.

Investigators consider Hernandez, a documented gang member, a suspect in three separate shootings, which left three people dead and four others wounded Sunday. Police connected the suspect to the cases after responding to the standoff and found a vehicle matching the description of the suspect's vehicle in the weekend shootings.

“The public can rest at ease at this point, there was no other suspect in this crime spree,” Preciado said. “We don't see any connections with any satanic rituals or any type of religious involvement at this point. Unfortunately it was just three random killings.”

Police were also looking into the possibility that Hernandez was involved in a car-to-car shooting in Atwater Village Wednesday that left a woman hospitalized and the fatal shooting of a man who was driving to work in Pacoima on Thursday.

The three people killed on Sunday were all found within a five mile radius, police said.

A man and two women were killed and four other people were wounded in shootings that happened in a span of 55 minutes and within a 5-mile radius in the San Fernando Valley early Sunday.

The first shooting happened at 5:50 a.m. when a 20-year-old woman was fatally shot in the 1400 block of Celis Street in San Fernando, Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Frank Preciado said.

The woman was with her parents and twin siblings on their way to early morning mass when someone came up and shot at them.

All five members of the family were struck by gunfire. Police said the twins were injured and the mother and father were in critical condition following the shooting.

The second shooting happened at 6:35 a.m. in the 13000 block of Borden Avenue in Sylmar. A man between 25 and 35 years old was shot dead while walking near the Sylmar Recreational Center.

Ten minutes later, a third shooting was reported in the 1200 block of Filmore Street in Pacoima. A Hispanic woman in her late 50s was shot in the head, police said.

Lolita Lopez contributed to this report.