<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Tue, 02 Sep 2014 22:40:23 -0500 Tue, 02 Sep 2014 22:40:23 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Trucker Charged in Fatal I-55 Crash Was Partially Blind]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 22:07:02 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Espinal-Quiroz.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Someone who has monocular vision, has both depth perception issues and peripheral vision issues and driving an 80,000-pound vehicle, I think it calls into question, 'Can this person do it safely?'" Blopeh said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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<![CDATA[Woman Injured in O'Hare Bus Crash Files Suit]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 20:56:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/215*120/bus+crash+ohare.jpg

A woman injured in a bus crash near O’Hare International Airport last Friday morning is suing the bus company and the driver, alleging negligence was the cause of the crash that sent 13 people to area hospitals.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court by Talipha Charles. She alleges that Delaware Car Rental, Inc. and the driver -- identified as Queshonyas Eubanks -- were negligent.

The bus crashed into a median separating lanes to the arrival and departure terminals about 6:35 a.m. Aug. 29, sending 13 people to area hospitals, including an off-duty Chicago firefighter who stopped to help with the rescue.

The cause of the crash remained under investigation, but witnesses said the driver appeared to make no attempt to avoid the concrete barrier, according to previous reports.

Eubanks and Delaware Car Rental, the suit stated, “failed to brake in order to avoid a collision with a concrete barrier” and “failed to maintain the subject bus is a reasonably safe and road-ready condition.”

The extent of Charles’ injuries were not specified in the suit and her attorney could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

A representative from Delaware Car Rental also could not be reached.

The four-count suit seeks more than $200,000 in damages.



Photo Credit: Sky 5/NBCChicago]]>
<![CDATA[Wednesday's Forecast: Mostly Sunny]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 17:36:46 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Andy+Avalos+Updated.jpg

Wednesday: Mostly sunny, 85.

Wednesday night: Partly sunny, chance of showers and storms, 71.

Thursday: Partly sunny, chance of showers and storms early and late, 90.

Friday: Partly sunny, chance of showers and storms, 79.

Saturday: Partly sunny, 75.

Sunday: Mostly sunny, 76.

Monday: Mostly sunny, 78.

Tuesday: Partly sunny, chance of storms, 79.

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<![CDATA[Boy Saves Sister, 2, From Abduction]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 22:12:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/0902-rooney.jpg

A 14-year-old boy helped save his 2-year-old sister when a man tried to abduct her in Northern Virginia last weekend.

According to a news release from Prince William County police, the incident was reported around 6:40 p.m. in the 1400 block of Geraldine Court in Woodbridge Sunday. 

Police say a stranger picked up a 2-year-old girl who was playing with a group of children in the area and tried to walk away with her.

Her 14-year-old brother saw the man trying to take his sister, followed him and confronted him until the man let his little sister go. 

A witness then followed the accused abductor and called police. Shortly after, 26-year-old Patrick F. Rooney of Woodbridge was arrested and investigators say he was drunk. He's facing attempted abduction charges and is being held behind bars without bond.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

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

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

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

He says he did what he could to save her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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<![CDATA[North Coast Music Festival 2014 ]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 21:01:15 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/NCMF_2014_blurb.jpg The North Coast Music Festival, officially dubbed as "Summer's Last Stand," took over Union Park over Labor Day Weekend.

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

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

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

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

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

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



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Man, 74, Convicted of '80s Killings]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 18:14:12 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/samuellittlecourt011113.jpg

A 74-year-old man was convicted Tuesday of the serial murders of three women who were strangled to death and dumped in alleys in the Los Angeles area in the 1980s.

The third murder occurred almost exactly a quarter of a century ago today.

Samuel Little, who was in his late 40s when the crimes occurred, is facing life in prison without the possibility of parole. Jurors deliberated for about two hours before reaching the verdict.

Semen and other DNA from the victims' clothing matched Little's DNA profile so closely that, for at least two pieces of evidence, the chance of a random match was one in 450 quintillion, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman told jurors, according to City News Service.

He was accused of murdering three women between 1987 and 1989, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said.

A jury of seven women and five men deliberated just two hours before finding Little guilty of the first-degree murders of Carol Alford, 41, on or about July 13, 1987; Audrey Nelson, 35, on or about Aug. 14, 1989; and Guadalupe Apodaca, 46, on or about Sept. 3, 1989.

In April 2012, LAPD detectives were notified that a DNA match was obtained identifying Little as the suspect in Nelson’s murder. DNA matches also came back on the other two victims tying Little to their murders. All three victims were strangled to death.

Little's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Michael Pentz, questioned the evidence, and challenged the prosecutor's insistence that DNA proved his client's guilt, according to CNS.

Pentz told jurors that the DNA results would show "that Mr. Little had nothing to do with the homicides."

Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman said the victims were troubled and had lost their way. Drugs and prostitution made them vulnerable and easy targets for Little.

A grand jury indicted Little in April 2013 of the three murders with the special circumstance of multiple murders. Prosecutors chose not to seek the death penalty.

Little returns to court on Sept. 25 for sentencing.

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<![CDATA[$1.4B Fine for Fatal 2010 Gas Blast]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 20:39:03 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/bruno5.jpg

PG&E was hit Tuesday with $1.4 billion in penalties by the California Public Utilities Commission  for safety violations related to the 2010 gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno.

The new fines and penalties bring the total amount Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has been ordered to pay in the wake of the explosion -- which killed eight people and injured 66 others on Sept. 9, 2010 -- to more than $2 billion.

The CPUC said the figure reached by two administrative law judges over the San Bruno pipeline explosion reflected nearly 3,800 violations of state and federal law, regulations and standards by PG&E in the operation of its gas pipelines.

The penalty is meant to ``send a strong message to PG&E, and all other pipeline operators, that they must comply with mandated federal and state pipeline safety requirements, or face severe consequences,'' Timothy J. Sullivan, one of the two judges, wrote in the order.

The largest share -- $950 million -- of the penalty is a fine to be paid directly to the state. That amount drew objections from city officials in San Bruno, the utility and a private ratepayers-advocacy group that the overall penalty should be focused on spending for the safe operation of the aging pipeline network.

``We are accountable and fully accept that a penalty is appropriate,'' the utility said in a statement.

Asked whether PG&E would appeal, utility spokesman Greg Snapper said, ``We're reviewing the decision and believe that any penalty should go toward pipeline safety.''

The recommended penalty requires approval by members of the state utility board. PG&E and other parties in the case have 30 days to lodge an appeal.

The commission previously ordered PG&E to pay $635 million for pipeline modernization in the wake of the Sept. 9, 2010, blast in the suburb of San Francisco. The explosion destroyed more than three dozen homes and was California's deadliest utility disaster in decades.

The blast occurred when a 30-inch natural-gas transmission line installed in 1956 ruptured. At the time, survivors described the heat of the blast burning the back of their necks like a blowtorch as they ran away.

The $1.4 billion penalty also includes $400 million for pipeline improvements, and about $50 million to enhance pipeline safety. PG&E cannot recover any of the money from customers, including the earlier $635 million penalty, although a ratepayers' group called The Utility Reform Network maintained PG&E could raise rates in other rate cases to indirectly offset the penalty.

Sending $950 million to the state's general fund, with no strings attached, means it could be spent in any way the governor and Legislature see fit, said H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the state Department of Finance.

The public utility commission staff recommended in July that the utility pay at least $300 million in fines.

San Bruno city officials were just beginning to study Tuesday's decision but on first read believed the overall judgment fell short of what was needed to ensure PG&E upgraded pipeline safety as much as necessary, city manager Connie Jackson said.

San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane commends the record-setting penalty but said he is disappointed the decision does not include independent oversight to ensure the CPUC and PG&E Follow through on pipeline safety plans.

“We need a revamping,” Ruane said. “We’ve asked for an independent monitor to any future actions by the PUC and the utility – any utility – and a pipeline safety trust who in some way is overseeing that and implementing safer pipeline regulations going forward. So, it’s a very unfortunate situation.”

The mayor said the city is also upset the majority of the fine is going to the state’s general fund.

“This reflects, if you will, a payday for Gov. Jerry Brown, when we believe this money should be directed instead to a safer pipeline system,” Ruane said. “I call on the governor to see that these funds are reinvested for pipeline safety.”

The penalty was historic in terms of financial charges levied against utilities on safety violations, said Britt Strottman, a lawyer for San Bruno. However, ``a lot of the utilities do not cause the same amount of devastation and destruction that was a result of the PG&E explosion in San Bruno,'' Strottman said.

A 2011 investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board concluded the rupture occurred in a weak weld in a pipeline that PG&E records had shown as being smooth and unwelded. Among other safety failings, PG&E let 95 minutes go by before shutting off the natural gas that was fueling the fire, the federal investigators said.

That same 2011 federal investigation also faulted what it called the California Public Utilities Commission's weak oversight of the utility, which serves customers in the northern two-thirds of California.

The San Bruno blast prompted congressional hearings on pipeline safety and recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board and other government bodies that utilities intensify their oversight of decades-old natural gas lines.

This year, federal prosecutors separately indicted PG&E on 27 counts alleging the utility violated pipeline safety requirements.

PG&E faces additional fines of more than $1 billion if convicted of the federal charges, which are separate from the state financial penalties. PG&E has pleaded not guilty to the counts.

Separately, PG&E was hit with about 160 lawsuits from people who lost family members, suffered injuries or had property damage.   

 

Bay City News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[HIV Suspect to Stay Off Dating App]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 21:28:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/thomas+guerra+0902.jpg

A man accused of knowingly spreading HIV has been ordered by a judge to stay off dating sites, specifically the gay dating app Grindr.

Thomas Guerra, 29, has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor health and safety violation. The Imperial Beach man is accused of giving HIV to an ex-boyfriend after assuring the man he was HIV-negative.

Guerra stood silently behind his attorney in court on Tuesday as prosecutors filed an amended complaint, naming the communicable disease Guerra is accused of transmitting as HIV. 

The judge denied prosecutors' request to increase bail from $2,500 to $50,000, citing he had seen no evidence of additional victims or current online dating activity. However, the judge agreed to bar Guerra from using all dating websites, including Grindr.

According to court documents, Guerra assured the victim he was HIV-negative when they started dating in April 2013.

Guerra said he didn’t know about his infection when his partner contracted the virus, but the victim said he found text messages, videos and emails that proved Guerra knew he had HIV since 2007.

Another man who said he had been a former partner of Guerra’s told NBC 7 that Guerra would tell people he was HIV-negative, have sex with them and then brag about it.

Guerra faces a $1,000 fine and six months in jail if convicted. More charges could be filed against him as the investigation continues, according to the City Attorney’s Office.

Another readiness hearing is scheduled for Oct. 16. A jury trial is set to begin Nov. 13.
 



Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Michael Sam May Sign With Dallas Cowboys: Report]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 16:33:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP865141898162.jpg

Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team, is scheduled to undergo a physical exam with the Dallas Cowboys and could join the Cowboys' practice squad, according to NFL.com.

Sam was released Saturday by the St. Louis Rams, who drafted the defensive end in the seventh round of this year's NFL Draft.

Sam, who was named 2013 SEC defensive player of the year at Missouri, led the Rams with six tackles in last week's preseason loss to the Miami Dolphins and had 2.5 sacks in the preseason.

Sam is expected to be in Dallas on Wednesday, and if he passes the physical, he would be added to the team's practice squad, NFL.com reported, citing a team source.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rivers remains in stable, yet critical, condition.



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

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

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

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

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

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

The passenger’s condition was not immediately known.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Photo Credit: Cook County Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Snoop Dogg Crashes Chicago Hindu Wedding]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 20:11:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Snoop_Dogg_wedding.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The rapper headlined the North Coast Festival Sunday night.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Grizzly Detail's NFL Preview: NFC North ]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 11:49:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/176*120/tlmd_cutler_contrato_bears.JPG

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

With seven divisions already previewed, there’s only one left, and it’s the NFC North. Where will the Chicago Bears finish? Can they overtake the Green Bay Packers? It’s time to find out.

Green Bay Packers: 11-5

There are plenty of question marks about the Packers heading into this season, but with an offense that’s one of the most potent in the league and a defense that is underrated by many, we have them once again besting the Bears and finishing atop the NFC North.

Aaron Rodgers, who missed a good chunk of last season after breaking his collarbone on a hit by Shea McClellin, will be back at full strength to begin the year, and he’ll have plenty of weapons to play with. Wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are both back, and Jarret Boykin and Davante Adams both figure to get some serious touches as well. In the backfield, Eddie Lacy is a one-man wrecking crew, and he’ll be looking to prove his 2013 season wasn’t a fluke.

The Packers’ defense also got some new faces to go along with the familiar folks like Morgan Burnett and Clay Matthews, as former Bears defensive end Julius Peppers will play outside linebacker in the Packers’ 3-4 defense. The Packers also drafted safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix out of Alabama in the first round of May’s NFL Draft, and he could make a big impact in the team’s secondary.

Chicago Bears: 9-7

The Bears made some serious moves in the offseason to shore up their defense, and their offense is still intact after making some huge steps forward in 2013. Why do we have them picked to finish at just 9-7 this season?

Two words: their schedule.

While they may not have as tough a slog as the teams in the NFC West and AFC West this season, they have a ton of really tough games right off the bat, and we have them opening up the season at just 4-4 through the first eight weeks. Road games against the San Francisco 49’ers, Carolina Panthers, and New England Patriots will all be big challenges, and they have to hit the road against the Atlanta Falcons in that stretch as well.

Fortunately for Chicago, several things are working out in their favor. The back half of their schedule is loaded with home games, and contests against the defensively-deficient Dallas Cowboys and Lovie Smith-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers are both highly winnable. There are still some tough tests in those closing weeks, including a trip to Lambeau Field in Week 10 and a home tilt against the New Orleans Saints in Week 15, but if the Bears are going to make a push for the playoffs, they’ll have to do it during the final eight weeks of the campaign.

Detroit Lions: 8-8

The Lions have a pretty easy schedule to begin the year, with home games against the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills on the slate, but they have their fair share of tough competition as well. From Week 8 to Week 12, the Lions have a bye, one home game against the Miami Dolphins (whose run game will be a tough task for the Lions to stop), and three really tough road contests against the Falcons, Arizona Cardinals, and New England Patriots.

Matthew Stafford has some great weapons to work with in Calvin Johnson, Reggie Bush, and new draft pick Eric Ebron, but the Lions’ defense is what should ultimately prove to be their undoing. Their front four on that side of the ball are incredible, with Nick Fairley and N’damukong Suh forming the best defensive tackle tandem in the NFL, but their secondary is littered with question marks. Teams like the Bears and Packers are going to torch that group with their array of passing weapons, and that inability to stop the pass will hurt them as the season wears on.

Minnesota Vikings: 4-12

The Vikings are a team that’s in transition, and while they have some really good offensive weapons, they don’t seem to be quite ready to make the leap into NFL contention.

Their wide receiving tandem of Greg Jennings and Cordarelle Patterson is quite impressive, as is tight end Kyle Rudolph. Those three will work well with Teddy Bridgewater once he’s fully immersed in the NFL game, but with Matt Cassel at the helm, you can’t help but feel a whiff of missed opportunity about the whole thing.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Vikings will be trying to replace Jared Allen at the defensive end position, but they did get a great new linebacker through the draft in Anthony Barr. He’ll fit in nicely at strong side linebacker for the Vikes, and along with Chad Greenway should provide some nice play in the second layer of their defense.

The Vikings are a team that could end up far exceeding expectations this season, but we’re going to play it cautiously on them and pick them to finish in the running for the top overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Blackhawks Player Evaluations: Brandon Saad ]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 11:47:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/465827509.jpg

We’re just 17 days away from the start of Chicago Blackhawks’ training camp, and with that deadline approaching we are feverishly finishing off our 2013-14 Blackhawks player evaluations.

Today we look at the sophomore season of forward Brandon Saad, who showed some great growth on the defensive side of the ice and really has established himself as a player to watch on offense as well.

The Good:

The Blackhawks are a team that prides themselves on possessing the puck and keeping other teams from taking many shots, and in the case of Saad, he clearly takes that mantra to heart. Last season with the Blackhawks, the second-year player had a Fenwick For Percentage (shots taken versus shots allowed) of 58.1%, which was good for 10th in the NHL. That is an incredibly good number for a player whose just starting to find his legs in the NHL, and it shows that Saad has the potential to be a player like Marian Hossa when it comes to taking tons of shots and limiting the opposition from taking many.

In terms of his more traditional metrics, Saad still had a solid season. Despite bouncing around the lineup, he had 19 goals and 28 assists in 78 games, and even though his time on ice was down by about nine seconds per game, he was still able to get involved in both even strength and power play situations. He had nine total power play points on the season, with six assists and three goals to his credit.

The Bad:

There really isn’t a lot to criticize Saad for in terms of his performance last season, but toward the end of the regular season he did end up getting benched by Joel Quenneville, who said he wanted to “see more” out of the forward. Granted, there was plenty of outrage in the Blackhawks’ fan community about that insinuation, but it’s entirely possible that Quenneville thought that Saad wasn’t working as hard as he should be, and that perhaps exhaustion from the long season was at least partially to blame.

Best Game of 2013-14:

There are a ton of good games to choose from for Saad, whether it was his two goal performance against the Minnesota Wild in Game 2 of their second round series, or his three-point performance on opening night against the Washington Capitals, but for this post, we chose his Game 5 showcase against the Los Angeles Kings.

In that game, Saad had a goal and two assists, and was a plus-4 on the evening. His big night helped the Blackhawks to a double-overtime victory, and it kept them in a series that they had struggled in up until that point.

Outlook for 2014-15:

This season is going to be an interesting one for Saad, as he hits the final year of his entry level contract. He found some serious success in the postseason with Patrick Kane in 2014, so it wouldn’t be surprising at all if he opened the new season on a line alongside Kane and Brad Richards.

In the new year, we’ll be looking for Saad to take another step forward in his defensive play, and it would really help the Blackhawks if he could produce just a bit more on the power play. His speed and tenacity with the puck are great assets in those man-advantage situations, and even though there are other players like Kane and Jonathan Toews that are looked at as the stars of the team, having secondary guys like Saad is equally critical to success.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hawks Headlines: Brookbank Heads to Calgary ]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 11:46:45 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/171593127.jpg

In this Tuesday edition of Hawks Headlines, we take a look at one member of the Chicago Blackhawks who won’t be back with the team when they reconvene for training camp, which players are most valuable in a potential trade, and how the team’s players stack up from a fantasy hockey perspective.

-We start out with news from over the weekend, as it was revealed that defenseman Sheldon Brookbank will be heading to training camp on a tryout with the Calgary Flames. That likely means that David Rundblad will get a chance to back-up Michal Rozsival as the sixth defenseman on the roster, but it could also mean that guys like Klas Dahlbeck and Stephen Johns could have a chance to make the roster. [Chicago Tribune]

-The Blackhawks have some really talented players on their roster, but based on their contracts, skillsets, and scarcity of positional talent, which of them is the most valuable trading chip? Randy Holt begins to break that down in Part 1 of his trade value countdown. [Second City Hockey]

-Could the 2014-15 season be the best chance that the Blackhawks are going to have to win a Stanley Cup in the foreseeable future? It may very well be. [Blackhawk Up]

-The good folks at Comcast SportsNet have been doing profiles of the players who will make up this season’s Blackhawks, and in this edition, they discuss the skillset of defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson. [CSN Chicago]

-NHL released its official fantasy hockey ratings over the weekend, and there were a slew of Blackhawks players who were ranked really high on the list. [Lets Go Hawks]

-Finally, if you want to check out the full list of 275 players, you can see it here. [NHL.com]



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[What Will the Bears Do With Marquess Wilson? ]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 11:45:54 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*125/footballthrow.jpg

In this edition of Bears Bites, we take a look at what the team is planning to do with wide receiver Marquess Wilson, what Robbie Gould has to say about the upcoming season and his philanthropic work, and examine the question of which Bears quarterback was the best in team history.

-We start out with what the Bears are going to do with Wilson, who is still recovering from a fractured clavicle he sustained during training camp. The team could feasibly put him on injured reserve with the designation to return, meaning that he would miss eight games, but it’s unclear if they want him to miss half the season. [ESPN Chicago]

-What would Robbie Gould do if he could plan a perfect day in the city of Chicago? He answered that question and a lot more for Lucy Kaplan over the weekend. [Chicago Bears Huddle]

-Even though they weren’t playing against the top-tier talent of the Cleveland Browns’ defense, wide receiver Santonio Holmes showed enough pizzazz and skill on Thursday to warrant inclusion on the Bears’ roster, writes Matt Clapp. [Da Bear Necessities]

-The Bears’ defense is going into Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills not only trying to win their first contest of the season, but also to make a big statement about the state of their defense. [Daily Herald]

-After a couple of bad preseason games, fans have plenty of reasons to be skeptical of the Bears’ defense, but the team is confident they’ll bounce back. [Chicago Sun-Times]

-Who is the best quarterback in Bears history? Is it Jay Cutler? Or Jim McMahon? It’s neither, according to one intrepid columnist. [Chicago Tribune]

-Finally, the St. Louis Rams have opted not to include defensive end Michael Sam on their practice squad, but could the reigning SEC Player of the Year find himself a job somewhere else? [Shutdown Corner]



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Medellin is suspected of robbing the following banks:

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[AA Flight From LA to DFW Lands Due to Cracked Windshield]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 12:25:22 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/AA2488+cracked+windshield.jpg

An American Airlines flight headed for Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Monday immediately returned to Los Angeles International Airport after the cockpit windshield cracked.

Flight 2448 landed at LAX without incident and passengers boarded another plane for the trip to DFW.

The flight landed about 9:15 p.m., several hours later than originally planned.

"We were flying for about 20 minutes, and we just heard an announcement that the windshield cracked. The captain said in all his years of flying, he had never seen anything like it and that the safest thing to do was to turn around and go back to L.A.," said passenger Mark Denesuk.

A photo from passenger Glenn Kagan showed a series of cracks that covered the entire left side of the windshield in the cockpit of the Boeing 757.

"The captain and the crew were incredible. They were absolutely calm at all times. Never raised their voice. Never put fear in anybody. And the old adage is true, calm is contagious," said passenger Arthur Underman.

American Airlines spokesman Paul Flanagan said there were no injuries and the cause of the damage wasn't immediately known.



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

Jackie Robinson West got some Cubbie love Monday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Good:

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

The Bad:

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

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

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

Best Game of 2013-14:

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

Outlook for 2014-15:

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

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

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



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Politicians Hit Parade Circuit for Labor Day]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 15:26:37 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Rauner_parade.jpg 9/1/2014: Labor Day was anything but a day off for some politicians working for votes at area parades.]]> <![CDATA[2 Dead, 30 Wounded in Holiday Weekend Shootings]]> Sun, 31 Aug 2014 22:16:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Violence+8-31+edit.png

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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<![CDATA[Cousin Charged in Death of Girl, 5]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 17:46:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Angel-Lizandro-Sanches-Zenteno.jpg

Dallas police have arrested and charged a family member with capital murder in the killing of a young girl found dead inside a vacant apartment Sunday afternoon.

The body of 5-year-old Kathrine Alejandra Gonzalez was discovered inside an empty, ground-floor apartment at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Sontera Palms Apartments in northeast Dallas, police said.

On Monday, police said Gonzalez's cousin, 17-year-old Angel Lizandro Sanches-Zenteno, has been arrested and charged with capital murder in connection with the girl's death.

Gonzalez had been playing outside of her aunt and uncles apartment with her sisters when she disappeared. She, along with her brothers and sisters, were being watched by their aunt and uncle while her parents were at work.

Police said as soon as neighbors in the community realized the girl was missing, many of them were quick to assist in the search for the missing girl — even before police were called at about 11:30 a.m.  After officers arrived, many of the residents allowed officers to search their homes and cars for the missing child.

When police arrived, maintenance workers informed them there were a large number of vacant apartments at Sontera Palms. After obtaining a key, officers began what they described as a systematic search of all vacant units.  Officers eventually discovered the girl’s body inside a unit at the back of the complex, next door to Sanches-Zenteno's apartment.

Police said Monday that the Dallas County medical examiner said preliminary results of the autopsy indicate the girl's cause of death was strangulation.

A witness told police that he saw the girl walking with a person at about noon and that he had seen them together before the girl disappeared. That person in question, along with a number of other people, were taken to Dallas Police Headquarters for questioning.

The investigation into the girl's death is ongoing. The Dallas Police Department asked for anyone with information on this offense to contact detectives at 214-275-1300.

Sanches-Zenteno is being held in the Dallas jail with no bond. Jail records did not list an attorney.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Gunmen Force Workers Into Fridge]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 17:49:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/red+lobster+kendall.jpg

A pair of masked gunmen stormed a Red Lobster in Kendall, Florida, and closed several employees in a restaurant refrigerator before taking off with $500 cash.

Workers at the Red Lobster at 11550 Kendall Drive were closing up the restaurant around just before midnight on Sunday when police say two armed men, their faces covered with either shirts or skullies, walked through the front door.

The men ordered the employees to surrender their cell phones, then pistol-whipped shift manager Edith Olivares, 52, and demanded she open the restaurant's safe, according to police.

The masked men also kicked 24-year-old bartender Leron Reid several times, then forced the employees into the store's refrigerator and made off with the cash, police said.

Once the coast was clear, employees were able to open the refrigerator door and call police.

While Olivares sustained several lacerations to the head, she will recover.

Red Lobster's general manager Neil Anderson said he and his employees are grateful no one was killed in the robbery and called the robbers "cowards."

"They're cowards. It's really cowardly to hit a 52-year-old lady with a pistol," he said. "She's a valued employee. A fantastic employee."

“Our thoughts are with the employees who were impacted by this terrible crime. Their recovery, the safety of our Kendall team and local guests is our No. 1 priority," a Red Lobster spokeswoman said in a statement. "We have taken steps to increase security presence at this location and we are actively partnering with the police on their investigation."

In the meantime, the Kendall Red Lobster is back open for business.

Now police need the public's help in identifying the armed robbers. They are described as one man with a thin build and another with a heavy build, both in their 30s, between 5 feet 8 inches and and 5 feet 10 inches tall.

Anyone with information is urged to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS(8477).



Photo Credit: NBC 6 South Florida]]>
<![CDATA[Hiker Killed by Boulder in Md.]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 18:46:32 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/210*120/2014-09-01_1140.png

A hiker on Hermit Island in the Potomac River died Sunday after he was pinned under a large boulder, emergency officials said.

Rian Avarham Khalder, 25, had been hiking with his 14-year-old brother along the Potomac on the island near the Angler Inn boat ramp when he began to climb an area of rocks.

Some of the rocks gave way, Khalder fell and a large boulder came down on him, police said.

Montgomery County emergency services mounted a "technical rescue," including swift water boat teams. The rescue was made even more difficult as a line of severe storms moved through the area, forcing rescuers to shelter in place and wait for the storms to pass.

Khalder of Silver Spring, Maryland, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Stay with News4 and NBCWashington for more on this developing story.

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<![CDATA[Man Stabbed Mom to Death in NJ: PD]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 08:33:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ho+ho+kus+murder.jpg

Murder charges have been filed against a 24-year-old New Jersey man accused of stabbing and beating his mother to death.

Bail for Nicholas Piotti was set at $2 million. Prosecutors say he allegedly beat and stabbed his 63-year-old mother, Karen Piotti, killing her inside the home they shared in Ho-Ho-Kus. Her body was found early Monday.

Piotti was taken into police custody and was being evaluated at Bergen County Medical Center. Authorities say he had no "physical issues." 

Neighbors said the news has devastated those who knew the family.

"I only heard nice things about Nicholas," said Donna Cioffi. "I used to see him skateboarding up and down Powderhorn Road, like any other teenager would do. I never had any issues with him."

"It's just devastating to a hear a 24-year-old can take his mother's life," she said. "No matter what the situation or circumstance is, you have to believe there's something very wrong behind that. It's very, very unnerving."

Gerry Pearce said the death of Karen Piotti was incomprehensible.

"This neighborhood is unbelievably nice, quiet," he said. "You never hear anything like this happen here."  

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