<![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, 30 Jul 2014 08:07:22 -0500 Wed, 30 Jul 2014 08:07:22 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[UCLA Flooded After Water Main Break]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 07:44:30 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/224*120/UCLA+flood+july+29+gadi.JPG

Crews were working through the night to repair a massive water main break that sent up to 10 million gallons of water gushing for nearly four hours onto Sunset Boulevard and the University of California, Los Angeles campus Tuesday afternoon.

A 93-year-old, 30-inch diameter water main ruptured and blew open a 15-foot sinkhole about 3:30 p.m. in the 10600 block of West Sunset Boulevard, officials said. The cause of the break was being investigated.

"Unfortunately, UCLA was the sink for this water source," said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block.

Officials were expected to provide an update with the latest information on the water main break and flooding Wednesday at 7 a.m.

The gusher stranded cars, a bus and drivers in several feet of swiftly rising water and mud. While there were no injuries, a Los Angeles Fire Department swift-water team rescued five people who were stranded in the flooding, including one who was swept under his car.

"They were able to keep his head above water and be able get him out," LA Fire Capt. Jaime Moore said.

Officials said Sunset Boulevard near the campus would remain closed between Veteran and Beverly Glen all of Wednesday.

"There's almost no chance that any portion of Sunset Boulevard around UCLA will be open," said Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz, during an evening news conference Tuesday. "Do what you can to avoid it. Find some other route."

Officials said 10 million gallons of water was lost in the gusher, equivalent to about 200,000 baths, according to the US Geological Survey. The utility serves more than 500 million gallons a day to its customers throughout LA.

Water flow through the pipe when it was in proper working order was about 75,000 gallons per minute, LADWP officials said.

The riveted-steel water main carries water to the area from the Upper Stone Canyon Reservoir.

Getting the water shut off completely took approximately three and half hours.

"We were just scrambling, we were trying to get our crews here. It's not the easiest place to get to at rush hour," LADWP Asst. GM Jim McDaniel said.

Most of the damages Tuesday occurred at UCLA.

Two parking structures and two buildings were damaged, including UCLA's recently renovated Pauley Pavilion, the site for UCLA men's and women's basketball, volleyball and women's gymnastics. Water covered the basketball court. The John Wooden recreation center was also damaged.

Hundreds of people were stranded Tuesday night, unable to access their cars trapped in the damaged parking structures. Firefighters searched 200 cars and deployed two swift water rescue teams looking for trapped motorists. Cars on the lower level of Parking Lot 7 were submerged in three-and-a-half feet of water.

Mud and water also covered the university's Drake Stadium -- a track-and-field facility -- along with the nearby intramural athletic field.

UCLA officials were expected to assess the total damages after they finish pumping water out of the buildings, Block said.

"We have a lot of damage assessment to do in the next couple of days but, we’ll do it, and we're bruins and we’ll get back on our feet," UCLA representative Tod Tamberg said.

Even as firefighters urged people to stay away from the area on Tuesday, the spectacle drew students, attending fall orientation, to the water. Some skimboarded and swam in it. Two students sat in water up to their chests on a stairwell as if it was a hot tub.

Water cascaded down steps into an underground parking structure and pooled as high as five feet.

Students trudged through knee-deep water as they walked across campus.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is out of state on vacation, said he was "closely monitoring the situation" and in contact with DWP, police and fire officials, along with UCLA, "to make sure we are leading a closely coordinated response."

Water service was briefly interrupted for some residents near the break, but it was restored quickly, DWP officials said.

The flood comes in the wake of a statewide ban on public water waste as California officials approved fines of up to $500 a day for violators earlier this month.

Jane Yamamoto contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Gadi Schwartz]]>
<![CDATA[Kennedy Cousin Skakel to Return to Court in 1975 Murder Case ]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 06:58:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/michael+skakel+released+bond.jpg

Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel will appear in Stamford Superior Court on Wednesday to face the state's appeal of a ruling nearly a year ago that allowed his release from prison, pending a new trial in the case of the 1975 murder of Greenwich neighbor Martha Moxley. 

Last October, after serving more than 11 years in jail for his 2002 conviction in Moxley's murder, a judge ruled that Skakel's former trial attorney failed to adequately represent him in 2002 and granted him a new trial. After posting bail, he walked free from prison last November.

The state is hoping a judge will reverse that decision. If the judge doesn't rule in their favor, Skakel will get a new trial. His attorneys are fighting to keep him a free man.

The Greenwich Times reported that Skakel's defense is also filing motions to bar audio tapes Skakel made for a memoir from being used in future court proceedings. The audio tapes were meant as a resource for ghost writer Richard Hoffman to pen Skakel's book, "Dead Man Talking: A Kennedy Cousin Comes Clean," the newspaper reported.

Skakel's criminal defense attorney, Stephan Seeger told NBC's Ron Mott that he's ready to prove his client is innocent.

"And that's something that the public needs to know. And I think that if the public learns more about the evidence we have especially more approximate evidence that people will start to change their mind about what happened in this case," he told NBC.

The full interview with Skakel's attorney will air on NBC's "Today" show this morning.

Skakel's hearing is expected to start at 2 p.m.

]]>
<![CDATA[Maryland Woman to Become U.S. Citizen on Her 100th Birthday]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 07:57:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Maria+Ward+and+Leticia+Munoz.jpg

Four generations of family will join Donatila Leticia Munoz Orantes at the Baltimore office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Wednesday, celebrating not only her citizenship, but also her 100th birthday.

“I can’t have a better blessing than having my mother live a hundred years,” said her daughter, Maria Ward.

Munoz will become the oldest Maryland resident to naturalize since the former Immigration and Naturalization’s immigration services were placed with USCIS in 2003. Why now, after almost three decades in the United States? Munoz told News4’s Kristin Wright she wants to vote.

The seamstress was born in Nicaragua in 1914 and spent most of her life in El Salvador before joining her daughter in the U.S. in 1987, Wright reported. She helped care for the grandchildren and made clothes for family, including for occasions like first communion, weddings and graduations.

In 1987, naturalization wasn’t an option for Munoz because she doesn’t speak English, a requirement that drops at age 80.

Now, the Germantown resident looks forward to casting her first ballot in November.



Photo Credit: NBCWashington.com]]>
<![CDATA[Funeral Set for Caseworker Shot by Patient at Pa. Health Facility ]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 07:40:29 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/194*120/Theresa+Hunt+Thumb+Welnnes+Center+Shooting.JPG

Friends and family will gather Wednesday night to remember the dedicated caseworker who died when investigators say one of her patients opened fire inside a Pennsylvania wellness center.

Delaware County authorities say that Richard Plotts shot and killed Theresa Hunt Thursday afternoon during a medical visit at the Sister Marie Lenahan Wellness Center located on the Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital campus along Lansdowne Avenue.

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan said that Plotts, 49, was upset about Mercy-Fitzgerald Hospital's ban on guns when he held Dr. Lee Silverman and Hunt hostage. Plotts then fired a .32 caliber revolver, killing Hunt, who was his caseworker, and grazing the physician in the head, officials said.

Silverman used his own gun to return fire and injure Plotts but it was too late for Hunt -- who was described as a beloved sister and aunt.

"We feel like we lost a family member," said Hunt's neighbor Marge LaBrum. "When we used to say to her, 'Theresa, how do you take care of them when they're mentally ill and could hurt you?' she said 'It's a chance I have to take because I have to take care of them.'"

Hunt's funeral is set for Wednesday starting with visitation at 6 p.m. at John Stretch Funeral Home on Eagle Road in Havertown, Pennsylvania.

Following the funeral, Hunt will be buried at Riverview Cemetery in Hancock, New York on Friday. The family asked that donations be made to the Community Care Program at Mercy Fitzgerald or Philadelphia's Horizon House.

Plotts remains in custody and has yet to be arraigned. Police still do not know how the convicted felon with a history of mental health problems obtained the weapon he used in the shooting.

Plotts, whose past includes time in mental health facility and guilty verdicts for disorderly conduct and firearms violations, and guilty pleas to assault and forgery charges, faces 10 counts related to the wellness center shooting including first-degree murder, criminal homicide, aggravated assault, weapons and related charges. Authorities have yet to set an arraignment date.



Photo Credit: Family Photo]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Accused of Stabbing Classmate Hours Before Prom Due in Court]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 06:46:06 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/chris+plaskon+in+court+2.jpg

A Connecticut teen accused of stabbing his classmate to death at a Milford high school hours before the prom is due in court on Wednesday.

Christopher Plaskon, 17, is accused of stabbing and killing Maren Sanchez, also 16, inside Jonathan Law High School in April in an attack some students said might have been motivated by anger that she would not go to the prom with him. He pleaded not guilty in June.

Plaskon, who has been charged as an adult with murder, waived a trial by jury and his case will insted go before a three-judge panel.

His defense team said has said it is considering a mental health defense and believe that a three-judge panel might handle that better.

Plaskon is being held at Manson Youth Training Institute, a correctional facility in Cheshire for boys and young men between the ages of 12 and 19.

Police have said Plaskon was spotted just moments after the April 25 stabbing with blood on his hands and clothing. "I did it. Just arrest me," he told authorities, according to police paperwork released. Police said they recovered a knife in the hallway, not far from where Sanchez was attacked.

The medical examiner concluded that Sanchez died of stab wounds to the torso and neck. Her death was ruled a homicide.

Defense attorney Richard Meehan said in an e-mail that Plaskon will be in court with his uncle, who has been appointed his guardian. He said did not offer further comment on the defense efforts.

 

]]>
<![CDATA[UCLA Students Deal With "Knee-Deep" Water on Campus]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 07:41:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/ucla-flooding-10.jpg

A carnivalesque atmosphere took place at UCLA on Tuesday afternoon as a 30-inch water main busted a 15-foot hole in a street, sending millions of gallons of water rushing onto campus and nearby roads and stranding hundreds of people whose cars were parked in water-damaged parking structures.

Photos on social media showed students sitting in chest-high water in a flooded stairwell as if it was a hot tub, playing in ankle-deep water and walking with their pants rolled up as crews worked to cap the 93-year-old water pipe.

"It was crazy, cars are flooded, people are stuck here," said one student, who left a campus book store to go skimboarding on a flooded field.

The rising water prevented some students from getting to their dorms, cars and classes. Firefighters provided escorts in some of the more heavily flooded areas.

"I was knee-deep in water, I had to take my shoes off even though they still got soaked," said another student, Aaliyah Ricks."I almost slipped a couple of times."

Firefighters performed five rescue operations, the Los Angeles Fire Department said. No injuries were reported.

"Trying to get the cars out was very hectic, it took a long time," said Doug Waters, a third-year economics student. "It was not like a flash flood and it rose immediately, it was more...slowly rising."

The ruptured water main released 9 million gallons of fresh water in the first two hours, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said.

UCLA student Natalie Bautista and her family were unable to get to their family minivan parked in Parking Structure 7 Tuesday night. Her mother Lidia drover from San Bernardino to see her daughter and normally parks in a different structure, but wanted to be close to Pauley Pavilion Tuesday.

"Oh my gosh I just want to go home now," Lidia said.

Bautista's family is staying with her in her Westwood apartment Tuesday night.

The water main was shut down slowly and gradually to prevent shock to the system and further damage.

The surrounding neighborhood was also affected.

"I have no water, and nor do my neighbors. I called a few of them to see what's going on," said Barbara Dobkin, who lives in a neighborhood just west of UCLA.

Water was restored to nearby residents by Tuesday evening.

Details about what caused the water main break were not immediately clear.

]]>
<![CDATA[Man Discovers Dad's Killer Coaching Youth Baseball]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 06:40:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Joey_John_Matthews-2.jpeg

A Chicago man is seeking answers after learning that one of the men who beat his father to death in 1988 was coaching youth baseball in his neighborhood.

Joey Mathews, of Hegewisch, was 4 years old when his father -- Chicago Police officer John Mathews -- was beaten to death by several men in 1988.

Mathews learned in June that one of those men, Dean Chavez, was coaching in the local Babe Ruth Baseball program.

He says the league did not do a proper background check and tried to brush the matter under the rug when he brought it up.

He says both he and his mother sent emails to Hegewisch baseball officials asking that Chavez be removed, but was told he's a good coach who didn't compromise the safety of the children.

"These kids are learning life lessons from a murderer," Mathews said.

Chavez, who served 11 years in jail, was fired after Mathews said he approached national league officials.

"One of things you did when he became an adult was kill a guy with a baseball bat. Now he wants to coach baseball? It's absolutely insane," Mathews said.

Mathews is seeking the dismissal of the league's five board members, and for the local and national Babe Ruth bylaws to be changed so it doesn't happen again.

The bylaws currently only cover potential coaches convicted of a sexual offense or an offense against a minor, according to Mathews.

The league will host a meeting Wednesday evening in Hegewisch to address the matter which Mathews says has opened up old wounds for his mother.

"No one should have to live through this twice," Mathews said.

Chavez and league officials did not return requests for comment.

]]>
<![CDATA[Jackie Robinson's Relative Dies in South LA Fire]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 05:50:55 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/BurnedHome_0729.jpg

The brother-in-law of baseball great Jackie Robinson was found dead inside a Los Angeles home with pack rat conditions where firefighters were battling a blaze, officials said Tuesday.

Ray Isum, 90, was pulled from the burning Exposition Park home and later determined to be dead, according to the fire department. 

Family friend Jerome Thompson said Isum had lived in the house his entire life.

Thompson said Isum was a "beautiful person" who always let neighbors know his relation to Robinson.

The single-story home in the 1500 block of West 36th Place was in pack rat-like conditions and did not have any working smoke alarms, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Now when you look at the risk factors in today’s fire, you have a 90-year-old male whose living in a single family residence and they say he doesn't have mobility issues, but at 90 years old it’s not very easy for people just to run out of a house when it’s on fire," said fire department spokesman Capt. Jaime Moore.

"Now, add to that the fact that there is an excessive amount of storage - which compromised the firefighters ability to get in and anybody’s ability to get out - and on top of that you put the fact that there were no smoke alarms evident, you have a lot of risk factors in this fire," Moore said.

One firefighter was injured while battling the fire and suffered burns to his leg. His injuries are not life threatening.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. The man's death is the 16th at a residential fire since the beginning of the year.

]]>
<![CDATA[What to Know About the Immigration Crisis]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 16:35:07 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/450883216.jpg

The news that thousands of unaccompanied children are crossing the U.S. border is just making headlines, but the surge has been happening for months, even years. President Obama is asking Congress for $3.7 billion to tackle the issue, which has become a flashpoint in the debate over immigration.

The number of children has overwhelmed the U.S. immigration system, which faces a backlog of hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants, according to The Associated Press.

President Barack Obama says that violent crime is driving migrants north, while Republicans blame Obama’s policies, saying they have given migrants an incentive to come.

Here’s what you should know about the crisis.

How Many Kids Are Trying to Cross the Border Alone

Since October, more than 57,000 children have been caught traversing the U.S.-Mexico border without an adult. That’s more than double the number in 2012 and triple the number in 2011, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The U.S. Border Patrol was already noticing an increase in children coming up from Central America in the fall of 2011. Most of the apprehended children are between 14 and 18-years-old, according to the Women's Refugee Commission.

Three-fourths of the kids caught since October have traveled over 1,000 miles — by car, train, raft and foot — from the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. The rest are from neighboring Mexico, according to Border Patrol data.

Making the trek is uncertain and dangerous. Smugglers, or coyotes, charge up to $10,000 for each child, according to The Associated Press. These smugglers may take the children’s money and run, or worse, assault or traffic them. The journey is also physically challenging, with dense forests, dry deserts and rugged mountains along the way. One stretch of land in Texas is referred to as the "killing fields."

Migrant children aren't just traveling to the U.S. All of Central America is seeing an increase. Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Belize jointly documented a 712 percent increase in the number of people seeking asylum from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, according to the Washington Office on Latin America.

Why They Left Central America

The mass migration is chiefly caused by three things: gang-related violence, poverty and rumors that migrant children will be welcomed to the U.S. if they make it to the border.

Violence. A good portion of the drug trade is now in Central America and plenty of gangs capitalize on this. Incompetent police forces do little to stop them. Children are actively recruited as "foot soldiers" for cartels. These gangs give children an ultimatum: work in the drug trade or face death. Honduras’ homicide rate was 90 killed per 100,000 people in 2012. That’s the worst in the world and six times the global average. Guatemala and El Salvador aren't far behind.

Gangs run rampant in these countries, and many children find themselves in the crossfire. It is not uncommon for children to arrive at hospitals riddled with bullets. Fifty-eight percent of children migrating north are motivated by violent conditions in their home country, according to a report by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Trust in the police is low in the children's countries of origin. In many places, gangs and police are intertwined. "You never know who is who," several migrant children told the Immigration Policy Center.

Poverty. Nearly two-thirds of the Honduran population lives below the poverty line, according to UNICEF. One in three infants is malnourished, and most kids in rural areas will only get four years of schooling on average. Guatemala's poverty rate is 26 percent. In El Salvador 17 percent of the population is living on less than $2 a day, according to the World Bank.

Rumors. The recent surge may have its roots in rumors that a change in U.S. immigration policy means any child who crosses the border can stay. This is a false belief, according to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. Children who arrived after 2007 are not eligible for deferred deportations or a path to citizenship. A Border Patrol report that was leaked in June says families' misconception that they will obtain "permisos" when they arrive in the U.S. is driving most migration, according to Vox.com. They believe "permisos" means work permit, but it's actually a notice to appear in immigration court.

• Family. Over a third of Central American children who traveled to the U.S. alone were looking to reunite with one or both parents. It is common for relatives to send children north to reunite with family members, who also have questionable legal status, according to a report by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

What Caused the Crisis

In addition to the violence and poverty in Central America, some have said the U.S. government is at the root of the influx, particularly policies put forth by the last two presidents.

Obama's order. Republicans have blamed the Obama administration for the rumors, saying that poor policy and communication has led migrants to believe they can stay, according to the Los Angeles Times. They say the president has been weak at enforcing border policy and that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was authored by the Obama administration in 2012 and gives some undocumented migrants temporary legal status, has given Central American families a false hope.

Bush's law. A bipartisan law that President George W. Bush signed in 2008, known as the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, seeks to combat sex trafficking by granting protections to children traveling alone from countries that are not Mexico or Canada. Under the law, unaccompanied children can’t be hastily sent back and are instead allowed an immigration hearing and must be handed over to the Department of Health and Human Services. The Obama administration said the law is partly to blame for the crisis, according to The New York Times. The White House and Republicans are both looking for ways to adjust the law's requirements to make it easier for children to be returned to their home countries.

Where the Migrants Arrive and What Happens When They Get Here

The crisis is happening all along the United States’ Southwest border. The greatest number of migrants are entering through southern Texas, where there has been a 178 percent change in the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border from 2013 to 2014, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Border patrol agents in Texas are overwhelmed and facilities are brimming with migrant children.

The city of Murrieta, California, made national headlines after protesters blocked buses carrying undocumented children and families to immigration processing facilities in Southern California. Overcrowded facilities in Texas looked to ease the burden by sending some migrants there. About 140 migrants ended up in San Diego.

More recently demonstrators on both sides were out in Oracle, Arizona, waiting for unaccompanied children they thought were about to be transferred to a camp there. The children never arrived though anti-immigration protestors briefly halted a bus carrying other children from a YMCA, according to The Associated Press. The Sycamore Canyon Academy in Oracle told NBC News that it had been asked by the federal government to provide shelter temporarily for a small number of children.

When migrant children are apprehended by Customs and Border Protection they are held in a detention center — usually a sterile place that resembles a warehouse. They will remain there until they are transferred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement's Division of Children Services (ORR/DCS). These facilities range from group homes to juvenile detention centers that are locked and surrounded by barbed wire.

Children stay at ORR/DCS facilities for an average of 55 days while authorities attempt to locate a parent or guardian. If none can be found, the child remains in DCS custody for the entirety of her immigration case. Ultimately, she will either end up with her parents or foster parents in the U.S. or be sent back to the country she came from.

What's Being Done About the Influx of People

More cash. The White House is asking Congress for more than $3.7 billion to address the wave of migration. Most of that cash would go to the Department of Health and Human Services, while Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection would also get a share. Almost $300 million would go towards efforts to “repatriate and reintegrate migrants to Central America.” The request must pass both houses of Congress, though, and it's not clear how, or whether, the GOP-led House will vote.

More shelters. Immigration officials are scrambling to find more shelter space for new arrivals. Dallas County in Texas agreed to shelter 2,000 children if the federal government foots the bill. Hospitals and schools no longer in use are among the buildings that could possibly house the children.

Foster care. Organizations and families in parts of Texas and the Southwest are taking up kids, particularly those who have no family in the U.S. or no safe places to return to in their home countries.

Programs in Central America. The Obama administration has earmarked $300 million for programs in Central America to boost the quality of life of people and address the underlying root causes that are driving migration. It hopes to do this by improving economic and security conditions and helping migrants reintegrate into their communities instead of returning north.

Ad campaigns. U.S. officials are trying to counter the flow of migrants with a Spanish-language ad campaign that looks to frighten them from coming in the first place. The ads warn that smugglers are criminals who could subject migrants to violence, sexual assault, sex trafficking or forced labor.

Border security. Some in Congress, especially Republicans, have said the focus should be on strengthening border security. Texas Gov. Rick Perry told a congressional committee that unaccompanied kids should be deported immediately to show the U.S. is serious about enforcement. Advocates for migrants have criticized the Obama administration, saying that future funding should go to ensuring migrant children with legitimate claims of asylum see their day in court, not border security.

What's Next

As protests continue and politicians try to figure out the best way to tackle the crisis, migrant children keep pouring in. The Obama administration expects the number of migrant children arriving in the U.S. to rise to 90,000 by September 2014. While visiting Texas, President Obama urged Congress to approve the $3.7 billion he asked for to help deal with the surge.

A first group of about 40 undocumented immigrants, including children, were returned to Honduras from New Mexico, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The group had been staying at a temporary detention center. Homeland Security officials told NBC News that the flight was just the start of deportations. "We expect additional migrants will be returned to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador in the coming days and weeks," one official said.

Meanwhile Las Vegas became the latest city to announce that its police department would no longer honor requests from federal officials to detain undocumented immigrants without a court order or arrest warrant. It joins Philadelphia, Chicago, Newark, N.J., and nearly all major urban centers in California.

Officials at the United Nations want many of the people fleeing Central America to be treated as refugees displaced by armed conflict. This designation would increase pressure on the U.S. and Mexico to accept tens of thousands of people currently ineligible for asylum, according to The Associated Press.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Water Main Break Floods Twitter]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 20:45:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/217*120/ucla-flooding-9.jpg

UCLA students took to social media to share their horror, amazement and even humor as a massive water main break left their campus underwater Tuesday.

"Damn it, L.A. Don't you know California is in a drought?" Kristen Shilton tweeted.

"At least UCLA has a waterfront view?" Mike Roe joked.

"Not worried about the water still flooding out of the sinkhole. I'm worried about what everything's gonna look like after the water clears," Twitter user UCLA_Nation wrote.

"We're practically underwater right now. You can hardly even recognize parts of Campus," they added.

One athlete tweeted that the flood had provided a welcome break from a workout, tweeting, "UCLA flooding saved us from doing 300s."

Scroll down to see more of the tweets, and some of the amazing images users shared.

 

 

 

Live Blog Sunset Blvd. Water Main Break
 

]]>
<![CDATA[Alleged Carjacker's Mom Turns Down $110K Reward]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 05:57:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Tioga+Carjacking+Killing+Rosa.jpg

The mother of an alleged carjacker charged with running down three children with a stolen SUV was offered a $110,000 reward for turning her son over to police, but turned the money down, officials tell NBC10.

Police sources and 19-year-old Jonathan Rosa's attorney, Christopher Warren, tell NBC10's Lu Ann Cahn that the man's mother was the person responsible for helping police crack the murder and sexual assault case.

Warren says homicide detectives interviewed Rosa on Saturday after tracking him through his cell phone. The phone was left at the scene of the crash at Germantown and Allegheny Avenues and found by a witness.

The police questioning came a day after he and 23-year-old Cornelius Crawford allegedly carjacked a realtor, sexually assaulted the woman and then sped off with her inside, authorities say. The men lost control of the SUV at the intersection and plowed through a family selling fruit on the corner, police said. The crash killed three siblings, critically injured their mother and a family friend. The realtor was also hurt after the vehicle slammed into a tree.

However, detectives released Rosa after their initial questioning because he said his phone had been stolen, according to Warren. Police had no reason to hold the teen, who did not have a record, the attorney added.

"I don't blame the police for letting him go because he was the last person on Earth you'd think would be involved in this," Warren said.

But after the teen returned home and spoke with his mother, she took him back to police on Sunday to turn himself in. Hours later, Crawford was arrested. By Monday, both men were charged.

"His mom had heard that he had been picked up for questioning and she sat down there and she started talking and by Sunday morning they had the pictures of the three kids in the papers. He saw that, lost it and decided to do the right thing," Warren said.

Homicide Capt. James Clark tells NBC10 that Rosa's mother was offered the $110,000 reward -- one of the largest in the city's history. But Clark said the woman told detectives she wanted nothing to do with the money.

The final decision on who will get the reward lies with Mayor Michael Nutter's office. Detectives will provide the mayor's office with all tipsters' information and then city officials will handle handing out the cash.

Rosa is now under suicide watch in a city prison, sources say. He and Crawford were denied bail and are awaiting a preliminary hearing.



Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Funeral for Victims of Philadelphia Carjacking to Take Place Monday]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 07:03:15 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Carjacking+run+down+Victims+tioga.jpg

A funeral will be held next Monday for the three children who were killed during a carjacking hit-and-run. The announcement was made by family members during a vigil and memorial Tuesday night that was held at the exact same spot where the fatal crash occurred. 

Joseph Thomas Reed, 10, his sister Keiearra Williams, 15, and brother Terrence Moore, 7, were struck and killed Friday when a carjacked SUV plowed into a fruit stand where they were volunteering on a street corner on Germantown and Allegheny Avenues.

The children's mother, 34-year-old Keisha Williams, was critically injured while their neighbor, 65-year-old Thelma Brown, broke an ankle. Family members say Williams, who remains in a coma, still doesn't know that her children were killed.

"There were so many questions that we have no answers to," said Cassandra Alexander, a cousin of the victims. "Our tears seem to never end. Our hearts are completely broken."

The chant of "we are one" and prayers were heard during the rally. The family members of the victims asked that those prayers be repeated by everyone who attended.

"We can't believe this is our new reality," Alexander said. "A nightmare that just won't end. We just can't grasp it."

The crowd also called for change in their community.

"It's time for us to say enough is enough," said Tyema Sanchez, a member of Handbags 4 Peace, a local community group. "We have to start governing our neighborhoods!"

As the rally ended, family and friends released balloons in memory of the three young victims.

"We are humbled by all of your love and support," Alexander said. "Please keep our family in your prayers."

During the rally, family members confirmed that the funeral for the children will take place on Monday at 11 a.m. at the Seventh Day Adventist Church at 16th and Oxford Streets. Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams also announced that NBA legend and former Philadelphia 76er Charles Barkley offered to pay for the funeral expenses.

The two suspects in the deadly carjacking and crash - Cornelius Crawford, 23, and Jonathan Rosa, 19 - were charged Monday with second-degree murder, robbery, carjacking, sexual assault and other offenses. On Tuesday investigators revealed that Rosa's own mother brought her son back to police after they questioned and released him earlier in the weekend.



Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[4 Charged in USC Student's Killing]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 22:12:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/usc+student+xinran+ji1.JPG

Four people were charged with capital murder on Tuesday in the beating death of a 24-year-old USC graduate student, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Jonathan DelCarmen, 19, Andrew Garcia, 18, Alberto Ochoa, 17, and Alejandra Guerrero, 16, are charged with one count each of murder with the special circumstance of murder during an attempted robbery, prosecutors said.

Capital murder charges make Garcia and DelCarmen eligible for the death penalty. Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek that penalty.

Ochoa and Guerrero, who were charged as adults, face life in prison without the possibility of parole, DA's officials said. They are not eligible for the death penalty because they are under 18.

Garcia, Ochoa and Guerrero are also each charged with using a dangerous weapon -- a bat -- to attack Xinran Ji, officials said.

The attack happened July 24 when Ji, an engineering graduate student, was walking home from an off-campus study group about 12:45 a.m. near 29th Street and Orchard Avenue, Los Angeles police said.

Ji was beaten and struck in the head with a bat before he walked back to his apartment in the 1200 block of West 30th Street, leaving a trail of blood, police said.

Ji's roommate found his body about 7 a.m., police said.

After the attack near USC, the suspects allegedly drove to Dockweiler Beach where they allegedly robbed a man and woman. The man managed to escape and flagged down police, officials said.

LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said during a press conference on Monday that the suspects had done "unspeakable things" that "shocked everyone in the department."

Garcia, Ochoa and Guerrero are also charged with second-degree robbery, attempted second-degree robbery and assault with a deadly weapon -- a bat -- in the second incident, DA's officials said.

USC officials said a memorial service was planned for later this week when Ji's parents arrive to the US.

In a statement that was read outside court by a family friend, the victim's parents, Songbo Ji and Jinhui Du, said they are "extremely angry about this horrific act of violence."

"The only thing in our mind is our son. We want to see him. We would be extremely grateful to the U.S. if they can help us to get visas," the man's parents said in the written statement, noting that they have been forced to cancel airline tickets several times because of delays in obtaining their visas.

The victim's parents added that they "do not want to see another incident like this" and said they "hope that USC can enhance security and guarantee the safety of USC students."

Ji's killing marked the second deadly attack on USC graduate students from China in recent years.

Ying Wu and Ming Qu -- who were also engineering students and were both 23 years old -- were shot to death April 11, 2012, as they sat in a double-parked car on a rainy night in the 2700 block of Raymond Avenue, near the USC campus.

One of two men charged in their killings pleaded guilty Feb. 5 to a pair of first-degree murder charges and admitted the special circumstance allegations of murder during the commission of a robbery and multiple murders, along with an allegation of personally using and discharging a firearm.

Bryan Barnes, then 21, was immediately sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, sparing him a potential death sentence. Co-defendant Javier Bolden, 21, is still awaiting trial in connection with the killings.

City News Service contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Xinran Ji/LinkedIn]]>
<![CDATA[NYC Elevator Attack Caught on Video]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 06:03:38 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/elevator+robbery+bk.jpg

Police are looking for two men they say followed an 18-year-old woman into a Brooklyn apartment building elevator, then punched and kicked her before running away with her purse.

The robbers followed the woman into her Midwood building after 9:30 p.m. Sunday, video shows, and then into the elevator. The woman appears to try to get off the elevator, only to be stopped by the men, who drag her out by her hair, throw her to the floor, then punch and kick her repeatedly. 

They then run out of the building with her purse, and one of the suspects tosses the bag as they flee.

The victim was treated for bruising around the eyes at Coney Island Hospital. 

Records show felony assaults are up year over year in the 70th Precinct, where the assault took place: there were 160 reports of assaults in the last year, compared to 141 at this time last year.

Robberies, however, are down: there were 157 reported in the last year compared to 178 at this time last year.

Anyone with information about the suspects is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS. 

-- Gus Rosendale contributed to this report

]]>
<![CDATA[Long Island Mom Stabbed 20 Times by Boyfriend: DA]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 05:23:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/monica+lino+charles+pray.jpg

Prosecutors say a Long Island man stabbed his girlfriend more than 20 times during a fight at her home.

Charles Pray of Bay Shore was being held without bail Tuesday. He is charged with second-degree murder.

Police say Monica Lino was found dead Sunday in her home in Farmingville.

The 34-year-old Pray, who worked as a cook and had a minor criminal record, gave a videotaped confession to detectives. But defense attorney Steven Politi told reporters his client had been attacked by Lino, and says Pray suffered stab wounds to his hand, arms and upper torso.

Lino's neighbors didn't buy it. They say the 36-year-old mother of two was recovering from a motorcycle crash that left her incapacitated for days.

"She was on crutches, she was all messed up," said Carolyn Hughes, a tenant of Lino. "She couldn't even defend herself if she wanted to." 

Hughes said Pray had been seeing Lino for about two months.

Lino's 9- and 12-year-old children were not at home; they have been spending the summer with family in Portugal, relatives said.

A Volkswagen Jetta registered to Lino was found by Suffolk County homicide detectives in Merrick, more than 35 miles from her home.

Her aunt wept outside court Tuesday after hearing how her niece died. 

"I'm very upset. They killed my niece," she said. 

 -- Greg Cergol contributed to this report. 

]]>
<![CDATA[Man in Md. Steals $2.8M in Carts From Postal Service]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 04:37:38 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tlmd_gavel_shutterstock_120159574.jpg

A Maryland man admitted stealing more than 2,000 aluminum carts from the U.S. Postal Service, which cost more than $2.8 million to replace.

Roland Michael Muir, 57, of Glen Burnie, pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing the metal "over-the-road" containers from two bulk mail centers in Capitol Heights.

Another man, 52-year-old Aaron Kevin Howard, accompanied Muir during the thefts, which typically happened between midnight and 2 a.m., officials said.

Muir worked for a private mailer company in Baltimore and drove his employer's box truck to the mail centers to steal the containers and take them to a warehouse where the men used spray paint to cover the U.S. Postal Service labels, authorities said.

Over a span of four years they sold the carts to metal recyclers at scrap value for $323,175 in cash, authorities said.

The case highlights the financial strain metal thefts place on businesses that is often passed on to the county's residents, Anne Arundel County Police Chief Kevin Davis said.

"Many citizens across Anne Arundel County and the region are unaware of the impact that metal thefts have on our community," he said.

Howard pleaded not guilty to his charges in May and is scheduled for trial in September.

Muir faces five years in prison for the conspiracy charge and 10 years in prison for a theft charge. His sentencing his scheduled for October.

It’s not immediately clear if Muir has an attorney.

]]>
<![CDATA[Family of Man Killed in Sucker-Punch Attack Stunned by Suspect's Charge]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 06:12:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/212*120/Ildefonso+Romero.JPG

A grieving Bronx family is stunned that the teen accused of sucker-punching their father and husband is being charged with a misdemeanor that could result in the suspect doing less than a year in jail.

Ildefonso Romero Jr. died days after a teenage boy allegedly sucker-punched him outside his home on Thieriot Avenue in Soundview on June 21. Witnesses said Romero had been protecting a girl from local teens who were apparently causing trouble in the street, and one of the teens punched Romero.

Romero fell and hit his head on the curb, and his son found him unconscious on the ground.

"I'm holding his hand and I'm looking at him and asking him, you know, 'Papi, wake up, Papi, get up,' and he wouldn't respond," said Noel Romero, the victim's son.

Ildefonso Romero's wife Jenny Guevarez said tearfully, "I kept on calling his name so he could wake up."

Romero died June 24.

Police arrested a 17-year-old, and though prosecutors believe he caused Romero's death, the Bronx district attorney's office has charged him with misdemeanor assault, which means he could end up serving less than a year if he's convicted.

"This guy kills my father and he's only gonna serve a year in jail? What kind of justice is that?" asked Noel Romero.

"A slap on the wrist, it's not fair," added Jennifer Perez, the victim's daughter.

The district attorney's office wouldn't comment other than to say the evidence didn't warrant additional charges. Sources familiar with the case say the district attorney believes there was no recklessness or intent to cause serious bodily harm.

Attorney information for the suspect wasn't immediately available.

Romero's family says the charge doesn't amount to justice for a man who raised five children, was two years shy of retiring from his job at Lincoln Hospital and was killed days before turning 60 and celebrating 34 years of marriage.

"I was planning his 60th birthday," said Guevarez. "A surprise party, and the surprise was for us. In one second, they took his life away."

Local officials are asking the district attorney's office to upgrade the charges, and are also drafting legislation that would make it mandatory for similar one-punch crimes to result in more jail time.

]]>
<![CDATA[2-Year-Old Double Amputee Still "Got It" After Viral Success]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 04:05:04 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/new-KAYDEN_KINKLE1_t580.jpg

When 2-year-old Kayden Kinckle took his first steps on prosthetic legs, he didn’t want help.

“I got it, I got it, I got it,” Kayden said with each step. A YouTube video documenting the milestone for the Englewood, New Jersey, kid's family and friends has since been viewed more than 800,000 times. 

His parents say he has always been this confident despite doctors' doubts. 

"If he wants something, he will get it and that could be good sometimes and bad sometimes," Kayden's father, Kevin Kinckle, told NBC. "He's always been a warrior." 

Kayden was diagnosed in utereo with omphalocelea, a birth defect in the abdominal wall that causes an infant’s intestines, liver and some other organs to grow outside the body. Kayden also had a band wrapped around his legs in the womb — causing deformities that required him to have his left leg and right foot amputated in January. One out of 7,000 children are born with opmhalocelea, and nearly half of all babies born with opmhalocelea also have other birth defects, according to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. 

The numbers of children living without limbs are unclear because of doctor's confidentiality agreements, according to the Amputee Coalition. Nearly 2 million people across the United States have limb loss.

Kayden's mother Nikki Kinckle said doctors had advised her to consider whether to carry her baby to term. She said the suggestion didn't make her angry, because it was a "fact" that her baby would face serious challenges. 

"The nurse asked me if my house was wheelchair-accessible, and that was hard," Nikki said.

The proud parents have received a volley of messages online from people who have been inspired by Kayden's can-do attitude and charisma. NFL athlete Michael Vick shared Kayden’s video with the caption, “Luke 1:37- For with God nothing shall be impossible… 'I got it, I got it' lol.” Vick's post contributed to the video going viral around the Fourth of July. Messages of support have included those from other amputees, cancer patients and people who are paralyzed, his mother said. 

Kayden still uses his walker but insists on independence, his father said. The fiery 2-year-old is antsy to stay off the couch. He crawls "very well" without his prosthetics and loves playing basketball with his parents. Kayden even tries to teach his 9-month-old sister, Cherish, how to crawl. After the surgery in January, Kayden still didn't slow down.

"The day after the surgery, he was shooting baskets with me and his mother," Kevin Kinckle said.

The family continues to raise money on GoFundMe.com, which had $73,839 donations as of July 29. The family's first goal was $50,000 to cover past medical expenses such as the surgery and his first pair of prosthetics. After Kayden's viral video success, the couple pushed the goal to $500,000.

"We were made aware that prosthetics are an ongoing thing for life, physical therapy is once a week. He may need more walkers or crutches as he gets olders and his weight changes," Kevin Kinckle said. "We need to adjust as he grows and as technology grows we want the top-of-the-line stuff for him."

The couple talks about Kayden's future all the time. They feel Kayden has proven that he can do anything.

"He is a face of adversity," Kevin Kinckle said. "Whatever he wants to do, we are confident he can do it, whether it's a lawyer or doctor or athlete." 



Photo Credit: Nikki and Kevin Kinckle]]>
<![CDATA[CA Vet's Roommate Guilty of Murder]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 17:57:14 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ramosmissing.jpg

Jurors on Tuesday convicted a Southern California man of second-degree murder in the slaying of his former roommate, an Army veteran and Cal State Fullerton student with whom prosecutors said he was desperately in love.

Kwang Choi "KC" Joy, 55, was found guilty in the death of 36-year-old Maribel Ramos, whose body was found badly decomposed near Modjeska Canyon in the Santa Ana Mountains last year.

Joy's sentencing was scheduled for Sept. 12. He faces 15 years to life in state prison.

Prosecutors said Joy got surgery to make his eyes look younger, paid to take Ramos on a cruise, and panicked when she told him to move out of their apartment when he couldn't pay the rent.

"Maribel was his life, and the opportunity for him to be with the love of his life was coming to an end," Orange County Deputy District Attorney Scott Simmons told the jury last week.

Ramos was last seen through surveillance footage, dropping off a rent check for her apartment in Orange on May 2, 2013, officials said.

She got into an argument earlier that day with Joy over rent, prosecutors said. They contended that the fighting, and Ramos' demand that Joy move out, led to her slaying.

When Ramos disappeared, Joy told NBC4 that Ramos was his "only family."

"She's my best friend, and I want her to come back," he said.

Her decomposed body was found later that month near Modjeska Canyon in the Santa Ana Mountains, prosecutors said. Her cause of death has remained unknown.

Eleven days before her disappearance, Ramos made a 911 call, saying she was "afraid" after an argument with Joy.

Earlier in the trial, Simmons showed video of Joy walking into a public library. His search history there showed that he looked up how long it takes for a human body to decay, and the location where Ramos' body was later found, prosecutors said.



Photo Credit: Orange Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Feeling the Pain of Lightning Strikes, Again and Again]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 07:38:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/72814+Lightning.jpg

Jeryll Hadley and a friend were trying to set up a tent over a campfire along California’s Gualala River 25 years ago, their hands on the metal center pole, when lightning struck the tree next to them, throwing them about 30 feet apart.

Both still standing, they looked at each other and he said, “’I think we’ve been zapped,’” she said. “The only thing I remembered during the event was my left hand, the one on the pole, was neon blue.”

“Of course I heard the loud noise, but it just felt like an implosion, very strange,” she said. “But other than that I didn’t feel anything and we went on through our camping trip.” 

Hadley, 67, of Ukiah, California, was left with burn marks on her throat and forehead, she said. Only later did she start having terrible pains in her shoulders, short-term memory loss, and a new anger that once led her to throw a wooden salt shaker at her first husband.

“That is not me,” she said.

On Sunday, a 20-year-old man from Los Angeles, Nick Fagnano, was killed and eight others hospitalized after a rare lightning storm on the beach in Venice.

“Those people that got hit, their life is going to be much different, I hate to say,” said Sandra Hardy, another California woman who survived a lightning strike. “It isn’t a one-time event.”

Sixteen people have been killed by lightning across the United States this year, according to the National Weather Service. Six of the deaths were in Florida, two in Colorado, and the others in Texas, New Mexico, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Mississippi and Georgia.

About 10 percent of those who are struck die. Survivors, who primarily suffer from an injury to the nervous system, can have symptoms ranging from mild confusion and dizziness to long-term problems processing new information, chronic pain form nerve damage and depression.

Hadley did not start attributing her symptoms to the lightning strike until attending a conference with survivors. She is now on medication for her anger, sometimes garbles her speech and said that a doctor once compared her experience to an electric lobotomy. On the other hand, all symptoms of polycystic kidney disease that she had have disappeared, she said.

“For the most part I’m living a normal life,” she said.

Last year was a record low for lightning fatalities. Twenty-three people died, fewer than in any other year on record, data from the National Weather Service showed. That contrasted with the 432 people killed in 1943, the deadliest year.

Officials attribute the drop to a variety of factors, from better lightning protection to fewer corded phones to more awareness among emergency medical providers and advances in medical treatment. CPR and defibrillators are keeping people alive, said John Jensenius, a lightning safety specialist with the National Weather Service.

"We feel very glad that we've brought the number down but there's still many people out there that are unnecessarily either killed or injured by lightning," Jensenius said. "If they would just simply follow the simple guidelines, if you hear thunder you need to be inside, the simple saying, 'When thunder roars, go indoors,' there would be many more lives that would be saved and fewer injuries."

More than 9,200 people have been killed by lightning in the United States since 1940, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration began keeping records, NBC News reported. In the last 30 years, there have been 51 deaths on average each year.

The ground current is what kills or injures most people, Jensenius said.

"When lightning strikes a point, it doesn't disappear deep into the ground, it spreads out along the ground surface," he said.

Hardy, now 70, was driving home from California’s Mammoth Mountain in June 1998, when she got caught in a heavy rainstorm in Owens Valley.

“I could see the lightning strikes coming down on the ground, coming straight down, it was a heavy, heavy rainstorm, so I took off my watch, took off my glasses, I took the collar off my dog,” she said.

A lightning strike hit power lines at the side of the road and her car, she said.

“It just paralyzed me,” she said. “It killed the engine to the car and the car just rolled off to the side and I couldn’t really move or anything and a motorist came up behind me right away and he’s pounding on my door to open up the door.”

Hardy, who was a facilities manager for the Los Angeles County schools, could barely talk or remember how to get home and her kidneys were hurting her, she said.

“From that day on my body started to deteriorate,” she said.

Hardy, of Manhattan Beach, developed problems with her hearing, her vision, her bladder, her memory and by October of 2002, had acute symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.

Her dog survived a year, but died after developing tumors, she said.

“The myth that you’re safe in a car, it should be corrected,” she said. “It’s not going to kill you but you’re not safe.”

The conference that Hadley attended was organized by Steve Marshburn, who was himself struck in 1969 in Swansboro, North Carolina, when lightning hit the drive-through window of the bank where he worked. He was sitting inside and it broke his back, he said. Other injuries became evident over the years, he said.

At the time there was little information for lightning strike survivors, but since then he has formed a group, Lightning Strike and Electric Shock Survivors.

“There is help out there,” he said.

 



Photo Credit: Joey]]>
<![CDATA[2 Killed in Convertible Crash]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 12:09:07 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/randolph+nj+crash+2+killed.jpg

Two New Jersey high school football players riding in the back of a friend's Mustang convertible were killed in a crash in Randolph Saturday, authorities say. 

Jack Timmerman and Calvin Verduga, who were about to enter their senior year at Randolph High School, were riding in the back of the new car when the driver crashed near on Ironia Road around 1:30 p.m., according to the Morris County prosecutor's office.

The driver and a front-seat passenger survived. 

Friends said Monday that the driver got his license last month and had only been driving the car for a few days prior to the accident. It's not clear what caused the crash, but teens gathered at the crash site said they believed the driver was speeding. 

Timmerman's girlfriend said he often told friends to slow down.

"I know that he doesn't like fast driving. Never has," said Kerry Eberly, in tears as she wore a necklace bearing his name. 

Timmerman's last words to Eberly, whom he'd been dating since eighth grade, came in a text message just before the crash: "Driving in a roofless convertible." 

The school district's superintendent opened Randolph High School Monday to make counseling services available to students. 

"Our entire school community is in mourning and our thoughts are most certainly with the families and friends of the two students, beloved by so many," Superintendent David Browne said in a statement. 

Grieving friends gathered at the crash site Monday and left photos and messages for Timmerman and Verduga. 

Football teammate Brad Davis said, "They always cared for everyone and they always wanted our school to come together as one."

"Everyone had a different connection with them," added friend Jacqueline Zolla. "I don't know how this will work when school starts. It's going to be really hard." 

]]>
<![CDATA[Women OK After Train Rolls Over Them]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 11:35:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/indiana-railroad.jpg 7/29/14: An engineer thought he killed two people who dropped down on the tracks right in front of his train, but in what some are calling a miracle, they survived. Reporter David MacAnally from NBC station WTHR in Indianapolis reports.

Photo Credit: WTHR Indianapolis]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Caught in Rip Current After Saving Friends: Witnesses]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 10:45:05 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/214*120/paul+alimoren+drowning+victim.PNG

A Southern California teen who drowned Saturday was trying to save two friends from a dangerous rip current when he was swept out to sea, witnesses said.

Eighteen-year-old Pomona resident Paul Alimoren was on a beach trip in the state of Washington when he and seven other members of a church group were caught in a rip current while swimming in Ocean Shores around 8 p.m.

According to police, five of the members reached the shore relatively easily. Two others suffered exhaustion and possible ingestion of sea water.

Witnesses said Alimoren helped two of his friends to shore before being swept out again. He was last seen around 8:30 p.m. Saturday, about a half a mile south of where he first entered the water, police said.

Emergency crews searched the area for several hours Saturday and Sunday, but were not able to find Alimoren. As of Sunday afternoon, Alimoren was declared dead and the rescue effort has now become a recovery effort, according to the Facebook page of Philip Alimoren, Paul Alimoren’s brother.

"On behalf of my family, I thank you for your prayers and thoughts concerning this trying time," Philip Alimoren said in a Facebook post. "My brother has touched lives, and I can say that he died serving His Savior on the mission field."

As of Monday evening, the body of Paul Alimoren had not been recovered.

According to Paul Alimoren’s Facebook page, he began studying at Cal State Fullerton last August. 

Ocean Shores is approximately 130 miles from Seattle. According to Ocean Shores Police, it had been a few years since there was a drowning in the area.

Ryan Bourgard contributed to this report.

 

]]>
<![CDATA[House Hearing on Flight MH17 Crash, Ukraine]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 09:26:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/452717876.jpg

The House Committee on Foreign Affairs is holding a hearing on the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and the escalating crisis in Ukraine. Check out a livestream.

Get More at NBC News

 



Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Idea to Improve Airport Security Could Pay $15,000]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 11:25:34 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/01-tsalede1.jpg

Got an idea on how to speed up security checkpoints at U.S. airports?  If so, that idea could be worth as much as $15,000.

The Transportation Security Administration is offering an award for the best plan to improve the TSA's PreCheck program.

Due to the expanding roster of approved passengers, a new plan is needed to expedite the screening process for low-risk passengers.

The challenge is to create a modeling concept that can form the basis of a plan and design by the deadline, Aug. 15.  The best submission is guaranteed at least $2,500 but could be worth as much as $15,000.

So far, 441 people have already submitted ideas.

Current employees of the TSA are prohibited from taking part.

Read more here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Murder Charges in Philly Carjacking]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 13:58:15 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Tioga+Carjacking-Suspects.jpg

LATEST COVERAGE: Accused Carjackers Charged With Murdering Kids With SUV Held Without Bail; One on Suicide Watch, Sources Say


Two "bastards," bent on robbing a realtor, are facing murder charges for carjacking and sexually assaulting the woman before running down a family selling fruit on a Philadelphia sidewalk, city law enforcement officials say. Three children, all siblings, were killed.

Jonathan Rosa, 19, and Cornelius Crawford, 23, face 15 charges each including three counts of 2nd Degree Murder, Carjacking, Kidnapping and Involuntary Deviant Sexual Assault for the alleged Friday morning crime.

“I want to personally thank Commissioner Ramsey, Captain Clark, all the men and women of the Philadelphia Police Department for their exceptional work in bringing these two bastards to justice," Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said. "All Philadelphians were moved to tears by this crime."

Homicide Capt. James Clark said Crawford and Rosa wanted to commit a robbery when they forced the real estate agent into her white Toyota SUV at gunpoint at 6th and Cumberland Streets around 11 a.m. on Friday. They then took off. Inside the truck, the realtor was sexually assaulted as the suspects sped through the streets of the Tioga section of North Philadelphia.

(Officials have identified the agent, but it is NBC10's policy not to name the victims of sexual assault.)

Then about 10 minutes later, one of the SUV's tires blew, causing vehicle to careen out of control at the busy intersection of Germantown and Allegheny Avenues, Clark said. The vehicle jumped the curb and slammed directly into the family as they stood at their fruit stand.

Joseph Thomas Reed, 10, died on the sidewalk. His sister Keiearra Williams, 15, and brother Terrence Moore, 7, passed away at area hospitals, police said. Their mother, 34-year-old Keisha Williams, suffered severe injuries and remains hospitalized -- unaware her children have died.

A family friend, 65-year-old Thelma Brown, was also hit and broke her ankle, officials said.

The group were selling the fruit to help their church raise money to build a playground at the site where the crash happened.

The SUV then skidded across the grass and slammed into a tree. Clark said Crawford and Rosa then jumped out and ran. Inside the SUV, remained the carjacking victim. She was also critically hurt, police said.

A witness to the crash found Rosa's cell phone at the crash scene and turned it over to detectives. Clark said that evidence helped lead investigators to the men.

Both men were taken into custody on Sunday. Crawford has a long criminal history and was recently released from prison following a robbery conviction, prosecutors said. He was found hiding behind a home along the 2900 block of N. 6th Street by U.S. Marshals and detectives. Rosa turned himself in to the Homicide Unit alongside his mother and pastor.

Rosa's attorney, Christopher Warren, says his client is cooperating with detectives to try and "atone" for the crash, the attorney said.

"He turned himself in, and he is doing everything in his power to try and atone for what happened last Friday," Warren said. "Quite frankly, he's having an extremely difficult time getting over the image of that 15-year-old girl coming over the hood of the car."

A post on Rosa's Facebook page from 8:15 a.m. on Friday said "Good and evil two sides fighting for dominance." Later that evening, at 9:42 p.m., Rosa's mother Amanda wrote on his page: "Please pray for Jonathan my son."

Josue Rosa, the man's uncle, tells NBC10.com his nephew is a good kid, without a criminal record, who had just taken a test to join the U.S. Marines. He believes the 19-year-old was pressured by the other suspect to take part in the carjacking.

"I don’t want my nephew to do life in prison. If he was involved, alright. Don’t give my nephew life in prison. He’s not a bad kid. He's not the one who was driving," he said.

Clark had less empathy for the teen and his alleged co-conspirator.

"What they did was indefensible and unforgivable, so whatever remorse they might have does not bring back the children," he said.

City officials thanked the public for helping to find the two men and for offering support to the victims. DA Williams said former NBA and Philadelphia 76ers star Charles Barkley called him to say he wanted to pay for the three children's funeral.

Should the two men be found guilty of the accused crimes at the maximum sentencing, they face three consecutive life terms in prison plus another 89 years.


Contact Vince Lattanzio at 610.668.5532, vince.lattanzio@nbcuni.com or follow @VinceLattanzio on Twitter.



Photo Credit: Philadelphia Police]]>
<![CDATA[4 Face Murder Charges in California Student's Fatal Attack]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 10:18:37 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/usc+student+xinran+ji1.JPG

Two men and two minors face murder charges in connection with the fatal beating and robbery of a Chinese University of Southern California grad student as he walked home late at night after leaving an off-campus study group, police said Monday.

Police said 19-year-old Jonathan DelCarmen and 18-year-old Andrew Garcia, along with two minors, had gone on a crime spree and targeted Xinran Ji early Thursday morning.

Ji was hit with a blunt object, police said. No further details were made available about how he died.

LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said the alleged assailants had done "unspeakable things" that "shocked everyone in the department."

The suspects were arrested hours later in Dockweiler Beach after allegedly committing a separate robbery, Smith said. Officers who were searching for the vehicle connected the suspects with both crimes.

DelCarmen was booked on suspicion of murder, while the other three were booked on suspicion of murder, assault with a deadly weapon and robbery.

Smith said the charges would carry special circumstances of homicide during the commission of a robbery, which could make the suspects eligible for the death penalty.

The names of the two minors, a 17-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl, were not released because of their ages.

A 14-year-old girl was being questioned in Ji's death and held in connection with the Dockweiler Beach robbery, police said.

Ji, a 24-year-old electrical engineering student who loved photography, cycling and badminton, was found dead in his apartment about a block away from campus by a roommate Thursday morning. Hours earlier, he was attacked near 29th Street and Orchard Avenue. Police said he left a trail of blood.

USC officials said a memorial service was planned for later this week when Ji's parents arrived to the U.S.

"We are confident that the investigation will lead to the appropriate punishment of those who committed this heinous act," USC said in a statement. "We continue to grieve deeply as a community for Xinran, his family and his friends."

While students question the university's security, USC and LAPD have stepped up patrols in the area since the 2012 murders of two Chinese graduate students who were shot to death as they sat in their car off campus.



Photo Credit: Xinran Ji/LinkedIn]]>
<![CDATA[Barkley to Pay for 3 Kids' Funeral]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 11:48:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Carjacking+run+down+Victims+tioga.jpg

NBA legend and former Philadelphia 76er Charles Barkley has offered to pay for the funerals of three young siblings killed after a carjacking went awry in the city last week, according to District Attorney Seth Williams.

Ten-year-old Joseph Thomas Reed, his 15-year-old sister Keiearra Williams and their 7-year-old brother Terrence Moore were struck and killed Friday when a carjacked SUV plowed into the church-run fruit stand where they were volunteering on a street corner in the Tioga section of the city.

The children's mother, 34-year-old Keisha Williams, was critically injured, and their 65-year-old neighbor Thelma Brown broke an ankle.

Barkley confirmed his intentions to NBC10.com on Tuesday, but declined to comment further saying he did not want to take attention away from the victims.

The children had all been selling fruit as church volunteers to raise money for a community park at the corner of Germantown and Allegheny Avenues. Eagles Wings Evangelistic Church used the fruit stand on that corner to raise money for the park.

The image of the children's bodies flying into the air scarred witnesses.

"I heard the bang," said church member Jesse Bridges, who described just barely escaping being hit and seeing the three children lying on the ground. "I was spared, but I'm still affected by it. I'm just broken up by it."

At the time of the crash, Bridges swept sidewalk garbage just feet away from the impact.

The Eagles Wings church has just 12 members, but Pastor Lola Blount considers the deceased children members of the congregation because they are regular volunteers, according to Bridges.

The close-knit church family, which worships out of a row home in the 3400 block of 17th Street, plans to open a bank account later this week to help the family.

"People are afraid to collect money in this neighborhood. They are afraid they may get robbed if the word gets out -- that's how the neighborhood is," said Bridges.

A funeral for the victims will likely take place on Monday, according to neighbors and a city councilman.

The two suspects in the deadly carjacking and crash – Cornelius Crawford, 23, and Jonathan Rosa, 19 – were charged Monday with second-degree murder, robbery, carjacking, sexual assault and other counts.

Williams praised Philadelphia police for bringing "these bastards to justice" in the deadly carjacking.

Both suspects lived in the same neighborhood where they are accused of tragically plowing into the crowd, and they had met just a week before the carjacking.

An attorney for Rosa said his teen client wanted to atone for his involvement.


Contact Sarah Glover at 610-668-5580, sarah.glover@nbcuni.com or follow @skyphoto on Twitter.



Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Calif. Gives Prizes for Dirty Cars]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 22:33:07 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/203*120/Dirty+Car.jpg

Ventura County water officials may have a prize for drivers who skip the car wash this month.

Over the month of July, Ventura County water is hosting a dirty car contest to send a messy message about water usage across the state.

California is currently in the midst of a withering drought, resulting in state officials urging citizens to cut back on their water usage. But in May, water usage actually went up by one percent, prompting state water officials to approve fines of up to $500 a day for people who waste water on landscaping, washing vehicles and other outdoor uses.

Drivers are encouraged to post a picture of their car on Ventura Water's Facebook page, and the three vehicles with the most dirt, and the most likes, at the end of the month will be rewarded by a complete car detail.

A free car wash is also being offered to the top two dirty car pictures every week.

Water conservation officials in the county have branded July "Don’'t Wash Your Car" month to educate car owners on the way to save water while keeping your car clean.

Officials say taking a car to a professional car washing operation can save up to 100 gallons of water over home washing.

Additionally, officials say commercial car washers often recycle the water they use.

While spring rains helped increase water levels, those gains have been limited by some of the warmest summer months on record, officials said.

Ventura Mayor Cheryl Heitmann has gotten into her ride grimy, she said she hasn't washed her car since June.

"Here in Ventura this is exactly the right kind of community to do this, people get engaged in what we're doing and really want to help," she said.

The dirty car contest ends on July 30, the same night as a planned community forum to teach residents how they can better conserve.

John Cádiz Klemack contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Courtney Lindberg]]>
<![CDATA[SoCal Island Off-Limits Over Bombs]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 21:05:05 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/222*120/San+Miguel+Island.jpg

An island off the Southern California coast could be closed for a year as the U.S. Navy investigates whether unexploded bombs remain on the the island.

The island, owned by the U.S. Department of Defense, has been closed to the public since April.

The last record of unexploded ordnance found on the island was in the 1980s, but recent discoveries of metal objects in public areas were a concern, Kimberly Gearhart, a spokeswoman for Naval Base Ventura County.

"We don’t know exactly what things were done over there and we don’t know what was cleaned up," Gearhart said. "The responsible thing to do is to asses the risk before we let the public enjoy the island."

San Miguel was in an active bomb testing range from World War II through to the 1970s, and officials are concerned that unexploded ordnance still remains on some parts of the island.

Gearhart said the island’s closure was prompted by incomplete records indicating clean-up efforts after weapons testing ended.

Officials started looking into the records after a request by the National Park Service to expand recreational opportunities on the island.

Gearhart said the Navy is currently securing funds for the first phase of risk assessment, which involves going through archival records and photography. This $400,000 effort will be funded through the Navy, Gearhart said.

This initial overview will take up to 15 months. If no live ordnance is found, Gearhart said the Navy will reopen the island for limited public use. San Miguel is part of the Channel Island chain about 70 miles west of Ventura.

If officials find dangerous material, the island could be closed for another year.

"The Navy is dedicated to the conservation of our national resources, of which the Channel Islands are a unique and critical piece," said Capt. Larry Vasquez, the base’s commanding officer, in a statement. "But the safety and wellbeing of (park service) personnel and those who visit San Miguel Island are our highest concern."

The news comes as at least two politicians are pushing for the Navy to complete their review quickly.

"The anticipated 1,500 visitors and 500 campers who visit the island each year are losing out on a cherished experience of the natural and cultural beauty unique to our National Park system," said Congresswomen Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, and Julia Brownley, D-Oak Park, sent a letter to Vasquez. "Reduced visitation to (San Miguel) is also harming our local economy by taking away business from local touring companies."



Photo Credit: Kevin Moore/National Park Service]]>
<![CDATA["Incredible Character": Venice Lightning Strike Victim]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 03:00:54 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/218*120/Nick+Family+Photo+7.JPG

A 20-year-old man in Southern California who died after being struck by lightning at Venice Beach Sunday afternoon is being remembered by his family as a "remarkable young man of incredible character."

Nick Fagnano had stepped into the water to wash off the sand before leaving the beach when lightning struck, family members said. He was taken to Marina Del Rey Hospital where he later died, coroner’s officials said.

"It was that one moment when he happened to be in the water at the wrong time," said Fagnano's uncle, Dennis Shanahan. "It's a huge loss for all of us."

The Los Angeles native graduated from Notre Dame High School in 2012 where he was a pitcher for the baseball team, family members said. Fagnano continued playing when he attended Santa Barbara City College.

"Everyone was proud of him, everyone thanked him, he was just the happiest kid ever," former baseball teammate and friend Payton Milone said.

"(He was) very kind-hearted, affected people," Milone said. "He did nothing wrong, said nothing wrong, he was the kid in our group of friends that always emphasized doing the good thing instead of the bad. It's just...it's unreal."

Fagnano's former baseball coach at Notre Dame said the school and team was "devastated."

"Anyone who taught or coached Nick would say he was one of the sweetest kids you could ever meet," Tim Dill said.

After finishing up some general education requirements at Santa Monica College, Fagnano was accepted to USC where he planned to attend in fall.

"Nick was a remarkable young man of incredible character," said Shanahan. "The three most important things to him in life were his faith, family and friends."

In a statement Monday, Fagnano was described as a "bright light" in the world.

"Nick was the friendliest young man you'd ever meet. He was an only child. The kind of kid every parent would want their son to grow up to be. Hard-working, ambitious, and truly kind-hearted. Always happy. Great sense of humor. He had many friends, but was also very close with his mom, dad and extended family," the statement read in part.

Shanahan, a weathercaster in Sacramento, said he saw the news reports of the fatal lightning strike before learning that the victim was a family member.

"Parents can cherish every moment they have with their kids. Just hug their kids tighter," Shanahan said. "You just never know."

Seven others were hospitalized after the lightning strike, including one with critical injuries.

A swimmer who was released from the hospital Sunday night said he doesn't remember the lightning strike, but recalls being rescued by friends from the water after suddenly losing consciousness.

"The next thing you know I was struggling to get my head back above the water," said the swimmer, who identified himself only as Paul. "Thank God they were brave enough to just jump in and not hesitate."

"I understand one person didn't make it. I just want to say that my thoughts go out to that person's family," Paul added.

Gadi Schwartz contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Fagnano Family]]>