<![CDATA[NBC New York - National & International News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/national-international http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com en-us Thu, 05 Mar 2015 03:19:28 -0500 Thu, 05 Mar 2015 03:19:28 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Man Pleads Guilty of Enticing Teen]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 22:35:52 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/miguel+torres.jpg

A Waterbury church leader has pleaded guilty to federal charges after he persuaded a 14-year-old to send him sexually explicit photos and videos, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Miguel Torres, 55, met the girl through his wife's youth group at the Iglesia Cristiana Fuente de Agua Viva Church in Waterbury. According to the warrant for his arrest, Torres told the teen he would be her mentor.

Federal prosecutors said Torres swapped cellphone numbers with the teen and started asking her for sexually explicit photos and videos in June 2013. The conversations turned graphic, and both sent each other sexual images.

Torres told the teen he had "engaged in sexual conduct with other girls" in an effort to make her more comfortable, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

The criminal complaint also alleges the two had sexual contact in church.

"I met him in the hallway," the teen told authorities, according to court paperwork. "Miguel came close to me and started... kissing me."

The teen's mother discovered the text messages in August 2013 and called the police, according to the arrest warrant.

Torres pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to one count of enticing a minor. He will be sentenced May 27 and could face anywhere from 10 years to life in prison. Torres could also be ordered to pay a $250,000 fine.

The church pastor declined to comment on the case at the time of Torres' arrest.



Photo Credit: Waterbury Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Bad Gas Leaves Drivers Stranded]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 22:32:08 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/south+windsor+valero.JPG

Drivers who filled their tanks at a particular Valero station in South Windsor, Conn., founds themselves stranded on the side of the road Wednesday, thanks to an apparent bad batch of gas.

South Windsor police said they were called out to help drivers whose cars broke down after filling up at a Valero station on Sullivan Avenue.

It's not clear just how many cars were affected or exactly what was wrong with the gas. Drivers speculate there may have been water mixed in and said the gas station is reimbursing them for money spent Wednesday.

An employee working at the Valero station Wednesday night declined to comment on the incident and would not say whether the gas station will compensate affected customers.

Police said the gas station has been in business for a long time and they don't believe there was any criminal intent.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Top News Photos of the Week]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 07:45:25 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP172633451372.jpg View weekly updates on the very best photos in domestic and foreign news.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Identity Thief Filled Out Tax Return Before Me, Victim Says]]> Fri, 27 Feb 2015 19:58:14 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/484588011.jpg

Virginia mom of three Brooke Taheri opted to spend her Valentine’s Day working on her taxes, never imagining the holiday could get any less romantic.

Then she discovered her identity had been stolen.

“You get that sinking feeling in your stomach,” said Taheri, 37, of Fairfax County, describing the moment she realized something was wrong.

Tax-related identity theft is a growing concern, according to the Internal Revenue Service, which named it as one of its “dirty dozen” tax scams of 2015.

“Preventing and detecting identity theft and refund fraud remains a top priority for the IRS," the government agency said in a statement. "We have added and strengthened protections in our systems, and we continue to make important progress in stoping identity theft and other fradulent refunds."

Last year, the IRS initiated 1,063 identity theft-related investigations and the Federal Trade Commission reported receiving 109,063 complaints about tax-related identity theft, according to the IRS website.

Taheri found out she was a victim when she tried to e-file her taxes and got a notice saying the IRS already received her forms.

“I was livid and completely frustrated,” Taheri said.

Yet submitting your tax return is the only way to uncover the distressing news before the tax season's deadline hits.

Credit card companies continually monitor customers’ behavior, making it easier for them to pick up on any unusual activity. The IRS, however, only connects with taxpayers once a year. Fraudsters typically file early, beating taxpayers to the punch and making it difficult for the IRS to detect discrepancies against employers’ information, which the government agency receives in late spring.

Since many Americans have yet to file their returns this tax season, it is too early to tell how many others are victims of tax-related identity theft although the majority should not be affected.

About 1.5 million taxpayers received Identity Protection PINs, a six-digit unique number, by the IRS last year as part of a pilot program. The agency provided them with the extra security measure to all identity theft victims, including those whose data was compromised in schemes unrelated to their taxes.

The IRS also offered the PINs to another 1.7 million taxpayers whose accounts signaled they could be victims.

Filing early is one recommendation, but that didn’t prevent Taheri from experiencing a “very labor intensive” aftermath.

“Thus far I’ve spent over four hours on music hold with different federal and local government agencies and then once I talk to people it’s been another hour and a half,” she said.

Taheri filed a police report, contacted the IRS and the FTC, and checked with the Social Security Administration and other agencies to determine if her information had been used illegally, she said. And she still had to file her taxes, but now she must submit a paper copy along with an identity theft affidavit so the IRS can conduct its investigation, she said.

Updating your passwords and usernames regularly, and monitoring your credit report are a few other steps taxpayers should take to avoid identity theft, according to resources available on the FTC and IRS websites. Another suggestion: Don’t give your personal information when it is not required of you or through unsecure channels.

Taheri, who works in finance, admonished herself for failing to set up identity theft protection earlier.  She said she has now signed up for it. Taheri is also keeping a close eye on her credit reports and planning how she’ll avoid this in the future.

“As soon as I get my W-2s and tax information, I will be filing as early as I physically can,” she said. “I will be the first to file.”

And after a headache-filled Valentine's day, Taheri — who wasn't expecting a big hoopla — was finally able to celebrate with her family.

"By the time I got off all the phone calls, I think we got carry-out."



Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Beagle Puppy Rescued From Burning Apartment]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 21:06:52 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Duke-Dog-Rescued-Fire-St-Albans.jpg

A 1-year-old beagle mix is recovering at a New York City animal clinic after being rescued from a burning apartment in Queens, officials say.

The dog, named Duke, was taken to BluePearl Veterinary Partners after the fire at his home in St. Albans Tuesday, the clinic said.

The dog’s fur was matted with soot, but he wasn’t burned. Firefighters were initially not able to find the pup's owner, but later located the owner in the hospital.

“When we saw the dog, he was covered with soot and he was shaking,” said Det. Tara Cuccias. “It was clear that he was in distress.”

The NYPD took the dog over to BluePearl, where it is being treated for exposure to carbon monoxide. Veterinarians are using a special mask to pump oxygen into Duke’s lungs.

The pet charity Frankie’s Friends is paying for Duke’s care, which BluePearl estimates at about $6,000. Donations can be made at the group’s website.

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<![CDATA[CT Responders Shovel Victim's Roof]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 21:01:22 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/manchester+scott+drive+shoveling.jpg

Emergency responders in Manchester made every effort to save a man who suffered a heart attack while shoveling Tuesday morning. He didn't make it, so they did the only thing left to do and finished the job.

Miroslaw Dabrowski, 57, collapsed while shoveling his roof on Scott Drive around 9:45 a.m. Tuesday, Manchester Fire Chief David Billings said.

Police arrived first and climbed onto the roof to perform CPR. Firefighters took over, using an automatic CPR device to administer chest compressions while they put Dabrowski on a back board and lowered him to the ground, Billings said.

They tried to resuscitate Dabrowski on the way to the hospital, but he couldn't be saved.

Billings said emergency responders can feel helpless when a life is lost, so they went back to Scott Drive and did the only thing they could: finished shoveling Dabrowski's roof while his family was at the hospital.

They felt compelled to help and knew it would be the last thing on the family's mind when they returned home, according to Billings.

He said Dabrowski leaves behind a wife and large family.



Photo Credit: Manchester Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Cops Hurt in Skid Row Scuffle: LAPD]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 20:58:15 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/186*120/03-04-15_Skid-Row-Scuffle.JPG

Two police officers were hurt in a struggle with a homeless man after he attacked a TV cameraman on Los Angeles’ Skid Row Wednesday, authorities said.

A KTTV cameraman was filming outside the Midnight Mission around noon when the homeless man assaulted him, according to an officer with LAPD’s media relations section.

At least one witness said the man bit an officer on the arm.

Officers tried to subdue the man, and during the confrontation, the man reached for an officer's holstered gun, according to police spokesman Officer Jack Richter.

Two officers received minor injuries in the scuffle, but police were able to subdue the man with a Taser, the LAPD said.

The man was uncooperative and would not immediately give his name to police after his arrest.



Photo Credit: KNBC]]>
<![CDATA[Mom Who Jumped With Baby Charged]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 20:49:06 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/tlmd_patricia_shurig.jpg

A mother has been indicted in the attempted murder of her infant daughter after jumping into ocean from a jetty with the young girl, prosecutors in Atlantic County, New Jersey said.

Patricia Shurig, 24, was indicted on Tuesday in the incident that happened in Atlantic City on the evening of Oct. 26, 2014. Authorities said she leapt off a rock jetty on the Atlantic City Inlet holding her one-month-old daughter, Krishna.

Witnesses called 911 and rushed to pull them from the water. Krishna was not breathing, but was revived after the good Samaritans performed CPR.

Shurig's sister, Amanda Husta, told NBC10 last year Shurig was suffering from postpartum depression but did not indicate she planned to harm the child.

"I don't want people to think poorly of her because of her mental illness," said Husta. "I definitely want them to be understanding of the situation."

Police previously charged the mother with Aggravated Assault. She is out on $100,000 full cash bail.

If convicted, Shurig could face a maximum of 30 years in prison.

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<![CDATA[Kids Can't Sled on Capitol Hill]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 19:28:01 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/20150304+Sledding.jpg

Despite a request from D.C.'s congresswoman, there will be no sledding on Capitol Hill during the snowstorm expected to sock the D.C. area tomorrow.

The Capitol Police Board issued a statement late Wednesday that said it would not grant Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton's request to allow sledding.

In a statement, Frank Larkin, chairman of the Capitol Police Board, said, "for security reasons, the Capitol grounds are not your typical neighborhood hill or playground."

The statement also said it was the job of Capitol Police to protect the Capitol grounds from being damaged. And, read the statement, sledding isn't that safe, anyway.

"According to recent media reports, at least 20,000 sledding injuries occur in the U.S. each year," Larkin's statement read.

Wednesday, Norton had asked for a one-time waiver of the ban.

"This could be the last snowstorm the D.C. area gets this winter, and may be one of the best for sledding in years," Norton said in a statement. "Children and their parents should able to enjoy sledding on one of the best hills in the city.

"Have a heart, Mr. Larkin," Norton wrote, "a kid’s heart, that is.”

Playing on Capitol Hill in the snow is a goal of many kids in the District. During a late February snow, News4's Tom Sherwood got tweets from a skier who managed to hang on the Hill long enough to capture a video. That same skier later tweeted Tom that a "sad boy" had just been turned away from the tempting, pristine powder.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Homeless Man Stole Bridge Light: PD]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 21:39:14 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Zakim+Bridge+Light.jpg

A homeless man stole aircraft warning lights from Boston's Zakim Bridge and left them at historical sites around the city, state police said Wednesday.

Clifford W. Beckford, 34, who was arrested Tuesday evening, has been charged with breaking and entering, larceny, receiving stolen property, malicious destruction of property, committing injury to a bridge and defacement of property.

Massachusetts State Policesay they began investigating after Beckford stole a red beacon — measuring 18 inches in diameter and 3 feet tall and weighing at least 60 pounds — around 9 p.m. on Feb. 3.

Beckford allegedly walked up a ramp to reach the Zakim Bridge, broke into the bridge's south tower, climbed a ladder to the top and took the beacon. Police say he then came down the ladder and left the beacon in the snow bank on the side of I-93, went to his car parked nearby, drove to the side, put it in his car and drove away.

Beckford, who police say lives out of his car, was arrested near a relative's Melrose home, but police still had to find the beacon.

Authorities say their investigation led them to the Warren Tavern in Charlestown, the state's oldest tavern, which counts famous figures such as George Washington and Paul Revere as past customers.

State troopers went to the tavern and, after speaking with the manager, found the beacon in the establishment's cellar. Beckford had left the beacon outside the tavern recently, and an employee took it inside without knowing what it was, authorities said.

This wasn't Beckford's first time stealing a Zakim Bridge airplane warning beacon, state police say their investigation showed.

He stole another beacon sometime in the early 2000s during the bridge's construction, when the beacon was property of an electrical contractor and was never reported stolen, police said.

As state police investigated further, they found that the beacon stolen in the 2000s was recently left at the office of The Bostonian Society, which currently operates out of the Old State House Museum in Boston, another historical site in the city.

Police say neither the Warren Tavern, The Bostonian Society nor the Old State House Museum knew where the beacons had come from and were not involved in the thefts.

Information on a lawyer for Beckford was not immediately available.

Beckford was arraigned Wednesday and was ordered to undergo a 20-day mental health evaluation. 



Photo Credit: Massachusetts State Police]]>
<![CDATA[Tinder Charging Age-Based Fee for New Update]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 16:58:23 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/140411-tinder-dating-app-mn-1310_6f284758e68894d5f153e1d324a00965.nbcnews-fp-1360-600.jpg

If you are over 30, finding love on Tinder is going to be more expensive.

The dating app has released a new premium version that includes new features to help people connect, but the cost of the update depends on the user’s age.

Users in America over 30 will pay $19.99 per month, while users under 30 will pay $9.99.

Tinder said in a statement that the fees are not out of the ordinary for subscription services.

"Lots of products offer differentiated price tiers by age, like Spotify does for students, for example," said spokesperson Rosette Pambakian. "Tinder is no different; during our testing we’ve learned, not surprisingly, that younger users are just as excited about TinderPlus, but are more budget constrained, and need a lower price to pull the trigger."

The premium version also comes with two new features: “Rewind” allows people to undo "left swipes," or rejections of other users, while “Passport” also allows the ability to change geographic locations, meaning you can try to connect with people in different countries.

The update also now limits the number of “likes,” or right swipes a person can make within a certain time frame. 

Tinder wouldn't say how many people use the app, but an unnamed person told the New York Times late last year that it has managed to draw 50 million monthly users.

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<![CDATA[Watch this "Machine Gun" Laser Mosquitos in Slow-Mo]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 17:30:44 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/NC_mosquitozapper0304001_1500x845.jpg New high-tech bug zapper identifies certain types of mosquitoes, then shoots them out of the air with low-power lasers.]]> <![CDATA[Man Arrested Over Dead Dogs Photo]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 16:52:56 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Conatser-with-FB.jpg

A volunteer fireman in North Texas was arrested Wednesday on two felony counts of animal cruelty after he posted a picture on Facebook of two dead dogs with a message to neighbors saying he had warned them to keep them away from his property, police said.

Tim Conatser, 20, of Royse City, turned himself in and remained in the Hunt County jail Wednesday morning, said Constable Terry Jones.

A jail supervisor said his bond is $5,000.

The Hunt County District Attorney wasn't available Wednesday morning to discuss the charges.

The photo on Conatser's Facebook account showed two dogs, apparently shot to death, with the message, "Somebody didn't put any truth my warning. Keep your damn dogs on your property."

Conatser was suspended from the Union Valley Volunteer Fire Department amid an online uproar over the post.

The Union Valley Fire Department's Facebook page says Conatser has been removed from the volunteer fire department's roster.

Information on an attorney for Conatser wasn't immediately available.



Photo Credit: Facebook/Hunt County Jail]]>
<![CDATA[What You Didn't Know About Daylight Saving Time]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 14:50:12 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/daylight-saving-time.jpg

It's almost time to spring forward.

When you go to bed on Saturday night, or early Sunday, don’t forget to turn your clock forward an hour - the change takes place at 2 a.m. on March 8.

Yes, that means you'll lose an hour of your weekend shut-eye. But the change will also result in some extra sunlight into the evening as spring approaches.

In observance of daylight saving time, here are some things you may not have known about this event.

It Has an Impact on Your Health

Switching in and out of daylight saving can disturb people’s sleeping routines, making them more restless at night, according to U.S. News and World Report. However, morning people tend to be less bothered by the changes. Studies have shown that during the first week of daylight saving time, a spike in heart attacks takes place. Some experts suggest, according to the report, that the loss of an hour’s rest may make people more vulnerable to an attack. Nonetheless, when people get an extra hour in the fall, the incidents of heart attacks are less than usual.

Don't Trust Your Phone

Don't depend on your phone to automatically switch the time. In 2013, iPhone customers experienced a daylight saving time bug. Some users saw two different times displayed on their calendar app, which was apparently caused by a change that moved daylight saving time back a week in 2007. In 2010, iPhones had another problem in which the phones did not correctly change alarm schedules when daylight saving time ended, causing some European iPhone users to wake up late for work, while Australians were woken up early.

Not Everyone is a Fan of DST

Hawaii and Arizona, along with U.S. territories Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and the Virgin Islands did not turn forward their clocks last spring. Utah wants to get rid of the time switch, too. More than 40 percent of respondents to a November 2014 Rasmussen Reports poll said they saw no need for the clock changes.

It Has a Founding Father History

The notion of daylight saving time was introduced by none other than one our founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, according to NASA. The idea was to take advantage of daylight hours by moving the clock backward in the fall and forward in the spring.

Presidents Love Daylight Saving Time Laws

Daylight saving time has been used throughout most of the U.S., Canada and Europe since World War I, but it wasn’t until 1966 that President Lyndon B. Johnson decided to implement a law stating that daylight saving time would begin the last Sunday of April and end on the last Sunday of October every year. The law allows some states to opt-out.

In 2005, President George W. Bush extended the daylight saving time for an extra four weeks through an energy bill policy. Since 2007, Daylight Saving Time begins on the second Sunday of March and ends on the first Sunday of November.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Boston Bombing Trial: What to Know]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 17:04:46 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/TLMD-tsarnaev-maraton-boston-sketch-jane-collins.JPG

Nearly two years after bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring more than 260 others, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is going on trial in the city, accused of making the bombs with his brother and detonating them in a crowd of spectators cheering on the runners.

Tsarnaev, who has pleaded not guilty, faces the death penalty if found guilty of some of the charges.

Who is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev?
Tsarnaev, 21, is an ethnic Chechen who came to the United States about a decade ago. His family, parents Anzor and Zubeidat, his brother, Tamerlan, and two sisters settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

He was well liked at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, where he was captain of the wrestling team and took honors classes, and he was enrolled at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed after the bombings during a shootout with police, after he received gunshot wounds and was apparently run over by his brother.

The charges he faces

Tsarnaev faces a 30-count indictment that includes 17 charges that carry the death penalty. He is accused of improvising bombs from pressure cookers, explosive power and shrapnel, and detonating them at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Among the charges: conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death, possession and use of firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence resulting in death and malicious destruction of property resulting in personal injury and death.

Dodging the death penalty?

A prominent addition to Tsarnaev’s defense lawyer is Judy Clarke, a defense attorney noted for keeping her clients off death row.

Her infamous clients have included Ted Kaczynski, known as the Unabomber; Susan Smith, the mother who drowned her two children; Jared Loughner, responsible for killing six people and injuring then-U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords; and Eric Rudolph, the Olympic Park bomber. All received life sentences.

Clark, a staunch opponent of the death penalty, knew at a young age that she wanted to be a lawyer, according to a profile by The Associated Press. She told an audience at Loyola Law School in 2013 that many people charged with capital crimes have suffered severe trauma.

"They're looking into the lens of life in prison in a box," she said. "Our job is to provide them with a reason to live."

Courthouse protests

Supporters of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could be outside the federal courthouse in Boston protesting throughout the trial — over the objections of his lawyers. Tsarnaev’s defense team had argued that he would be unfairly associated with their outrageous conspiracy theories and wanted them kept a reasonable distance away.

“Survivors, jurors, witnesses, and members of the public must be able to attend court without being assaulted by inflammatory accusations from any source,” the lawyers wrote. “If they cannot, the fairness of the defendant’s trial is likely to be gravely harmed.’’

But U.S. District Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. ruled against them, though he gave no written explanation for his decision.

Tsarnaev's supporters include the mother-in-law of Ibragim Todashev, a friend of Tsarnaev’s brother, Tamerlan, who was shot and killed in Florida while being questioned by law enforcement officials. Elena Teyer traveled to Boston in December to shout encouragement to Tsarnaev during one of his court appearances.

Some of the protestors insist that the bombings were the result of a government conspiracy, and that Tsarnaev was framed with flimsy evidence.

Unhappy in Boston

Tsarnaev’s lawyers have tried repeatedly to move the trial out of Boston, arguing that it would be impossible to find an impartial jury in a city so affected by the bombings, but O’Toole has rejected all of their requests.

The lawyers appealed to a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston, but on Feb. 28, a divided panel rejected their petition.

The majority wrote that Tsarnaev had not met the well-established standards for the court to intervene. The dissenting judge wrote that the media coverage had been unparalleled in American legal history, making the idea that Tsarnaev would receive a fair and impartial trial absurd.


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<![CDATA["It's Just So Low": Prosthetic Leg Stolen From Paralympic Hopeful]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 14:46:16 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/0303-2015-BladeLeg.jpg

A United States Paralympic hopeful is asking the public for help in finding his running blade — a prosthetic leg he said was stolen from his car in San Francisco.

Ranjit Steiner woke up on his birthday Tuesday morning to discover thieves smashed his car window on Cesar Chavez between Mission and Valencia streets, and took his laptop and his leg.

"It's just so low," Steiner said. "You never think anybody would take something like that."

Steiner, who runs for City College of San Francisco, needs the leg to continue his training. He is a hopeful for the 2016 Paralympics in Brazil after placing third in the 200 at nationals last year. By sheer coincidence, a San Francisco police officer found a $7,000 prosthetic leg with a brown lace-up shoe last week at Eighth and Market streets.

"For me, that's my way of life," Steiner said. "The most exciting part of my day is when I get to go to track practice."

Prosthetist Garrett Hurley, who co-owns the prosthetic clinic that employs Steiner, said the stolen leg will not benefit the thief.

"The value it has for Ranjit far exceeds anything that anybody could get for it on the black market," Hurley said. "I mean, we're talking 100-fold."

The leg, or running blade, has yellow stripes. Steiner said the thieves also stole his backup blade.

The prosthetic legs are expensive and specific to Steiner's body.

"Two blades and then a knee and a socket comes out to $30,000," Steiner said.

Steiner is now hoping the public will give him a birthday present by helping him find his running blade and continue his dream.

"Right now, I'm just waiting for that and then I'll continue my season whenever the time comes," he said.

Steiner's next meet on his road to hopefully making the Olympic team is scheduled for this weekend.



Photo Credit: Ranjit Steiner]]>
<![CDATA[Protesters Few, Crush of Media as Trial Begins]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 11:36:22 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Screen+Shot+2015-03-04+at+10.09.41+AM.jpg

The trial of the Boston bombing suspect got underway Wednesday morning with a crush of media and a lone protester outside the Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston.

Joe Kebartas stood before the proceedings began with a sign reading “Death penalty is murder.”

“The government should not be in the business of putting people to death,” he said before slipping away.

Security was tight with a blockade on Northern Avenue and a bomb-sniffing police dog along the barricade holding back journalists from as far as Russia and France. The U.S. Coast Guard was patrolling Boston Harbor behind the courthouse.

Survivors of the April 2013 bombings arrived by Massport buses, normally used to shuttle travelers to Logan International Airport, and were taken into the courthouse through the back.

The federal death penalty trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 21, begins nearly two years after two bombs exploded seconds apart at the finish of the Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring more than 260 others. He is accused of detonating them with his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed afterward in a shoot-out with police. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was later found hiding in a boat.

The courtroom was crowded with relatives of victims and of Tsarnaev and others. When Tsarnaev walked across the courtroom shortly after 9 a.m. some of the survivors stared intently.

Jury selection took nearly two months, with Tsarnaev’s legal team arguing repeatedly that it would be impossible for their client to receive a fair trial in Boston.

In opening statements, his lawyers are expected to portray him as an impressionable 21-year-old in the sway of his older, radicalized brother. He followed the 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s lead, the lawyers hope to show.

The prosecution counters that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was as much a participant as his brother.

Alysha Palumbo contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Kaitlin Flanigan
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<![CDATA[Florida Woman Tossed Baby From Car During Traffic Stop: Police]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 13:58:18 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/babytosswindow.jpg

A Florida woman accused of throwing her baby out of her car during a traffic stop told a judge "OK, I need a break anyway" after she was ordered to stay away from her child on Tuesday.

Monique Shawntell Miller, of Opa Locka, was ordered held on $7,500 bond during her Tuesday court appearance. In addition to throwing the child, police said the 34-year-old yelled expletives, kicked a police car door and hit an officer in the head after she was stopped in Miami for a traffic infraction.

Police say Miller initially refused to stop, but eventually stopped her car on 163rd Street and Biscayne. A passenger in the car allegedly fled the scene.

Police say Miller became aggressive towards the officer and began to yell expletives. Miller then threw her baby, who was sitting on her lap, out of the car.

The officer was able to grab the baby.

After a struggle, police arrested Miller. According to the report, Miller kicked the police door as she was being arrested which then hit the officer in the head.

Miller stated that prior to the incident, she'd been receiving child care assistance from relatives.

In addition to the order to stay away from her child, the judge ordered Miller to take any and all prescribed medications.

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<![CDATA[Plague-Carrying Flea Found on NYC Rats: Study]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 09:41:42 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/101214rats.jpg

The type of flea that spread the bubonic plague across Europe in the 1300s, killing millions of people, lives in NYC, according to a study published in a medical journal.

Cornell University researchers trapped 133 rats in five different locations across the city. They then euthanized the rodents and killed the insects living on them using a vapor. Combing through the rats’ fur, they found 6.500 parasites, including the tropical rat mite, the spine rat louse, the spiny rat mite and the now infamous oriental rat flea, according to the Journal of Medical Entomology study.

Among those parasites was the oriental rat flea, which is believed to have caused the Black Death pandemic in Europe centuries ago, according to the researchers.

New Yorkers can breathe a sigh of relief, however. The report said rats in the city no longer carry the disease. But some rats do carry Bartonella, a bacterium that causes fever and flu-like symptoms. 

Diseases are spread from rats to humans via flea bites, which involve the flea regurgitating its gut matter into a human's bloodstream.

The parasite survey shows that more research is needed to determine the danger posed by rats, Matthew Frye, the study’s co-author, told The Verge.

Although such parasite surveys have been possible since the early 1900s, none have been conducted in the city since the 1920s.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Thousands of Bassinets, Cradles Recalled Due to Suffocation Risk]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 11:46:13 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/bassinet-recall.jpg

Fall and suffocation hazards prompted the recall of thousands of two-in-one bassinets.

Dream on Me recalled nearly 13,000 two-in-one bassinet to cradle products after learning that the wire supports on the sides can disconnect and cause the fabric sides to lower, leaving infants susceptible to falling out or suffocation.

The company issued the recalled after receiving a report of one such incident. No injuries were reported.

The bassinet to cradle was sold nationwide from May 2012 to October 2014 at Amazon.com, Walmart.com, Wayfair.com, ToysRUs.com and Kohls.com.

Consumers should stop using the product and contact Dream on Me for a free repair.

For More Information:

www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2015/Dream-on-Me-Recalls-2-in-1-Bassinet-to-Cradle/



Photo Credit: US Consumer Product Safety Commission]]>
<![CDATA[Suspect in Md. Shootings in Custody]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 23:53:40 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/0304-young.jpg

Police recalled the D.C. sniper shootings that terrorized the region for more than three weeks in October 2002 in discussing the arrest of a suspect in a series of shots fired incidents that started last week, but they credited strong police work for making a quick arrest after Tuesday's incidents on the Intercounty Connector and near the NSA at Fort Meade.

“As soon as we learned the possibility these might be linked, we kicked into overdrive,” Anne Arundel County Police Chief Timothy Altomare said Wednesday afternoon.

Hong Young, 35, of Beltsville, Maryland, is charged with attempted first-degree murder and other charges in the shootings in Anne Arundel, Prince George's and Howard counties. From 2012 until his resignation in May 2014, Young worked as a correctional officer at a Jessup facility, according to Maryland Secretary of Public Safety Stephen Moyer. Nothing significant was found in his file, Moyer said.

Young has no terror-related ties, a federal official told NBC Justice Correspondent Pete Williams. The suspect suffers from mental health issues, Williams reported. He is hospitalized in police custody and is cooperating with detectives, Anne Arundel County Police spokesman Lt. T.J. Smith said.

Investigators spent hours searching Young's home Wednesday, where they recovered 10 weapons, including a pistol, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Police said Young owned all of the weapons legally.

In the earliest shooting, a man was grazed by a bullet outside a shopping center in Hanover, Maryland, Feb. 24. The 61-year-old victim stopped at the Costco at Arundel Mills to get gas about 7:30 a.m. when a man drove up next to him and began firing shots, hitting the victim's vehicle several times.

In the wake of the shooting, Anne Arundel County Police released surveillance video of a Lincoln Town Car as a possible suspect vehicle.

Two shootings were reported Monday. At 2:50 a.m., officers went to the parking lot of a Walmart in Laurel for a report of several shots heard, but no injuries or damages were discovered. Two hours later, Howard County Police contacted Anne Arundel County detectives about shots fired at the movie theater at the Columbia Mall. Investigators found bullet holes in the front glass and shell casings. No one was injured. 

Then Tuesday about 3 p.m., a tree service truck with two men inside was struck by bullets on the Maryland Intercounty Connector (ICC) near Interstate 95. The shots were likely fired from nearby woods. One man was injured by shattered glass. He was taken to a hospital and has since been released. The other man found a bullet fragment in his clothes but was not hurt.

“We have two folks who were put in mortal fear of their lives,” Altomare said.

About 6 p.m., shots were fired, striking a building near the headquarters of the National Security Association at Fort Meade. U.S. Park Police investigated a report of shots fired near the headquarters of the National Security Agency.

A police spokesperson said the NSA was investigating damage to one of its buildings that appeared to be from gunshots. No one was injured. U.S. Park Police closed down sections of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway for their investigation Tuesday evening.

After the ICC shooting, all investigating police agencies decided all forensics would go to Prince George's County Police, Prince George's Police Chief Mark Magaw said. Police linked the cases at Costco, Columbia Mall, ICC and NSA.

"My investigators worked all night to link these cases forensically," Magaw said.

They believe the Walmart incident is related.

About 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, two Anne Arundel County Police officers on supplemental patrol in response to the shots fired incidents saw a car that fit the description of the suspect vehicle from Feb. 24. They stopped it near the Costco on Arundel Mills Circle, near the site of the original shooting. Officers found .380-caliber shell casings and a .380-caliber semi-automatic handgun in the car and took Young, the lone occupant of the car, into custody. The handgun was registered to Young.

Young is also charged with first- and second-degree assault, use of a firearm in a violent felony crime, handgun in vehicle, and reckless endangerment.

The FBI and U.S. Park Police also investigated the shootings.

"Most of us here were probably aware of events 15 years ago, give or take, with the D.C. sniper case," Altomare said.

In October 2002, 10 people were killed and three were wounded in shootings in Virginia, Maryland and D.C. Lee Boyd Malvo was sentenced to life without parole. His accomplice, John Allen Muhammad was executed by Virginia in 2009.


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<![CDATA[Brothers Accused of Sex Slavery]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 23:35:50 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/030315+Tavarus+Ballard+Bogacski+Thomas.jpg

Two South Florida brothers were behind bars Tuesday accused of forcing a 16-year-old girl to have sex with nearly two dozen men a night, authorities said.

Bogacski Thomas and Tavarus Ballard, both 24, are facing charges including human trafficking, lewd or lascivious battery on a child between 12 and 16 and deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution.

Both were being held without bond Tuesday and it was unknown if they have attorneys.

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle held a news conference to announce the arrests and said it's one of the worst cases she's seen.

"It's unspeakable. It's inexplicable, and it's horrifying," Fernandez Rundle said.

According to an arrest affidavit obtained by NBC 6, Thomas and Ballard met their victim on January 9th. She ran away from her home after a fight with her mom. The State Attorney says the brothers preyed on her vulnerability and used her to make money. The money collected would pay for their hotel, food and drugs — drugs that they forced the teen to take.

"She, to them, was nothing more than a walking machine," Fernandez Rundle said. "No dignity, not a human being, not a young girl, a cash machine. That's how these predators look at them."

According to investigators, Thomas and Ballard told the 16-year-old she had to have sex with men in order to pay for hotels and for them to eat. They would force the girl to work the areas of Campbell Drive and Krome Avenue, and 64th Street and South Dixie Highway

"That is a man every 30 minutes from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. at night. Only to repeat itself the next day and the next day," Fernandez Rundle said.

To keep the teen in check and under control, the suspects provided her with ecstacy, cocaine and marijuana. They would also put drugs in her food and lace her cigarettes, authorities said.

"Every time she tried to escape they would beat her up, grab her back," Fernandez Rundle said. "In one case they picked her broken body up and took her back up into the motel."

The details on how the case broke are still being put together. But the suspects are looking at life felonies under the Florida's new human trafficking laws. That also means they cannot bond out of jail.



Photo Credit: Miami-Dade Corrections]]>
<![CDATA[911 Butt-Dial Prompts Drug Arrests]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 21:10:56 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/Marijuana+Generic1.jpg

Scores of pot plants were seized and three people were arrested after one of them accidentally "butt-dialed" 911 and a dispatcher overheard their incriminating conversation about drugs, sheriff’s officials say.

The call came in at about 11:30 p.m. Monday when a deputy pulled over to have lunch in his marked patrol car close to an Alpine house.

When three men inside noticed the car, they started talking about drugs, about items needed to make butane honey oil and about wanting to hurt the deputy.

Unbeknownst to them, one of the three had accidentally “butt dialed” 911, according to San Diego County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Jan Caldwell. A dispatcher, trying to find out if there was an emergency, overheard their whole conversation.

Deputies found out where the call was coming from and searched the home, where they discovered 93 marijuana plants.

They arrested 35-year-old Mark Stuhr, 32-year-old Kristopher Kondly and 38-year-old Christian Feugere on suspicion of marijuana cultivation and possession, possession of a controlled substance and probation violation.



Photo Credit: File - Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sayreville Gets New Coach After Hazing Scandal]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 04:19:14 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/sayreville+high+school+football+team+coach1.jpg

The Sayreville, New Jersey, board of education has moved to put its troubled 2014 high school football season behind it Tuesday night by naming a new head football coach to replace George Najjar, who last week was demoted to teaching phys ed classes at an elementary school.

Christopher Beagan, currently the head coach at Monroe New Jersey High School for the past nine years, will be paid a salary of $82,553 a year as a phys ed and health teacher, a stipend of $12,051 as coach, and a stipend of $5,573 as strength and conditioning coach.

Superintendent Dr. Richard Labbe said at the meeting Tuesday the board has found "the absolute best candidate" out of 45 candidates to lead the Sayreville Bombers next season. 

Najjar lost his two decades-long job as head coach after a hazing and sexual assault scandal last fall abruptly ended the football season.

Seven students were arrested and faced juvenile charges for sexual acts against other players in the unsupervised locker room.

After Labbe announced earlier this year that he would allow the championship football program to resume next fall, he began an immediate search for a replacement for Najjar, who was first suspended before being reassigned to Dwight D. Eisenhower Elementary School.

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<![CDATA[Teen: Teacher Called Me "Rag Head"]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 22:39:58 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/030315+rag+head+taliban+wardani.jpg

The father of a South Florida high school student is demanding the firing of a teacher who he says called his Muslim son a "rag head Taliban."

Youssef Wardani, the father of 14-year-old Deyab-Houssein Wardani, appeared before the Broward School board Tuesday to demand the firing of Maria Valdes, his son's teacher at Cypress Bay High School.

"As a parent, I should not have to deal with this," Wardani said. "I should not have to spend my time in front of them and what should have been done from day one," he said.

Wardani said his son walked into Valdes' French class on Feb. 2 wearing a hoodie after gym class. "Here comes the rag head Taliban," Valdes said, according to Wardani.

"My teacher called me a rag head Taliban," the teen told NBC 6 Tuesday. "I was a bit shocked and disappointed she called me that. But first off, she was my favorite teacher, and I would never have expected that from her."

The family is Muslim. After he found out about it a few days later, Wardani reported it to the school's principal.

Broward County Public Schools spokesperson released a statement saying the incident is under investigation.

"Broward County Public Schools respects and values the diversity of our students, families and communities," the statement read. "This situation is being taken seriously; the District launched an immediate investigation into the matter and will be bringing forward, to the next School Board in March, a recommendation for disciplinary action regarding this situation."

The teen said it has affected him in class.

"Class has been very awkward. I feel I always get a bad vibe from her as if she doesn't want me to be there anymore," he said.

"I can assure you we take it very seriously," Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie said. "I wake up every day thinking about this, it is a priority item I have to resolve."

Wardani has started a Facebook page called "Our son is NOT a "Rag Head Taliban" which has received hundreds of likes.

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<![CDATA["Sniper" Killer Wants New Trial]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 19:27:13 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Eddie-Ray-Routh.jpg

Attorneys for Eddie Ray Routh filed a motion, on Tuesday, for a new trial after Routh was found guilty in the murders of "American Sniper" author and former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield.

Routh's attorney Wendy St. John also filed an appeal to overturn his conviction on Feb. 24.

No date has been set to hear either motion filed Tuesday.

Because the state did not seek the death penalty, Routh, 27, received an automatic life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Routh’s defense claimed he was insane at the time of the crime and unable to tell right from wrong. Experts testifying for the state said former US Marine Routh did not have post-traumatic stress as he claimed in the past because they never saw combat and did not have suffer serious trauma.


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<![CDATA[Little League Whistleblower Arrest]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 20:45:37 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/chris+janes.jpg

The rival Little League coach whose accusations cost Chicago's Jackie Robinson West their U.S. championship title was arrested early Tuesday after police say he chased a stranger into her home.

Chris Janes, the vice president of the Evergreen Park Athletic Association, told NBC Chicago he "doesn't remember" what happened but thinks he simply went to the wrong home after having a few too many drinks.

"I did something really stupid, and I feel awful," he said.

Police say Janes chased the woman, who said she had never met him, into her home and began banging on her door after she pulled into her driveway, police said.

The woman said Janes shouted into the home asking for her husband to come out and fight him, then ran down the street, Capt. Peter Donovan said.

Janes was charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct, assault and resisting and obstructing a police officer. He was ticketed for public intoxication and using vulgar and threatening language.

His car was located on the woman’s block, police said, but he denied using it.

Janes was thrust into the spotlight of the Jackie Robinson West controversy after he filed the initial complaint that the team violated residency rules and alleged they used top suburban players to boost their roster.

Earlier this year, the team was stripped of their U.S. Championship Title following an investigation from Little League International. Janes later became the target of criticism, even saying he received death threats from upset fans.

"It was evident to us that there was some wrongdoing and there's rules in place," Janes said. "As tough as it must have been for Little League, they needed to hold these guys accountable for breaking the rules."



Photo Credit: Evergreen Park Police]]>
<![CDATA[Confession Out in Teacher Killing]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 22:09:42 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/tlmd_chism_maestra_colleen_ritze.jpg

A judge on Tuesday granted a defense motion suppressing some of the evidence in the case of a Massachusetts teenager charged with raping and killing his high school math teacher in 2013.

Among that evidence is an alleged confession Philip Chism gave to Danvers Police after the killing, as well as certain cell phone evidence police had gathered as a result of that interview.

Additional motions seeking to suppress statements made to Topsfield Police as well as evidence seized at Danvers High School and from Chism's pockets and backpack were denied by the judge.

Chism, now 16, is charged with murder as an adult in the October 2013 slaying of Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer. Chism was 14 at the time.

Superior Court Judge David Lowy said in his ruling that the videotape of the Danvers interview makes it "readily apparent" that Chism's mother wanted an attorney present with her son during questioning.

"Despite this desire, the officers persisted in initiating a conversation and reminded her of a previous desire to find out what happened that night," Lowy said in his ruling. 

The judge said he isn't convinced beyond a resonable doubt that Chism was paying attention to the Miranda warnings to the extent that he could have waived his Miranda rights. While Chism's statements were made voluntarily, Lowy said they must be suppressed because she cannot find beyond a reasonable doubt that Chism "knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waived his Miranda rights."

Lowy also ruled that Chism's cell phone and the victim's cell phone, which were found by police outside Hollywood Hits, should not be allowed at trial because they were discovered as a result of the police interview with Chism conducted at the Danvers police station.

"The police were only made aware of the location of the cell phones from their interview of the defendant," the judge wrote. "Since the defendant's statements during the interview at the Danvers interview must be suppressed and the Commonwealth has not argued an alternative theory of admissibility, the cell phones must be suppressed."

The family of Ritzer released a statement Tuesday afternoon saying in part, "We respect the court ruling and we are confident that law enforcement acted responsibly and lawfully. We are also confident in the ability of the District Attorney's Office to successfully prosecute the individual charged with this horrific crime so that justice is served for Colleen and our family."

Necn legal analyst Randy Chapman says tossing some evidence won't make or break the case. 

“There’s still substantial evidence about his culpability. They have videotape, they have him in possession of the murder weapon,” Chapman explained. “It’s not going to result in the case being crippled."



Photo Credit: FILE]]>
<![CDATA[LA Protesters March on Police HQ]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 18:01:46 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/03-03-2015-skid-row-99+%283%29.jpg

Protesters gathered Tuesday morning at the site where officers shot and killed a homeless man on Skid Row, then marched to the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters for a police commission meeting attended by Chief Charlie Beck.

A rally involving LA Community Action Network and Skid Row community members began at about 8 a.m. near Sixth and San Pedro streets, where flowers, notes and other items were left at a memorial for the slain man, known to others on Skid Row as "Africa." Protesters carried signs that read, "Stop Modern Day Lynchings," "End the Police State" and "End the Safer Cities Initiative," a community policing program.

Another sign read, "Body Cameras Won't Stop Police Murders," referring to the body cameras worn by two officers involved in Sunday's fatal confrontation.

The crowd of more than 150 people gathered on the plaza in front of police headquarters before similar sentiments were expressed during nearly two hours of public comments at a regularly scheduled police commission meeting.  Speakers included community activists, a flag-draped man in a Batman mask and people living on Skid Row.

One speaker repeatedly blew a whistle and demanded the commission, "Wake up! Wake up!"

At a news conference after the commission meeting, Beck acknowledged the anger among those who spoke at Tuesday's commission meeting.

"The group today was pretty irate," Beck said.

The protests are part of the backlash after Sunday's fatal shooting of a man who had been staying in a tent in the downtown Los Angeles neighborhood. The man, who was the subject of a 911 call robbery report, tried to reach for an officer's holstered weapon during a struggle that began after he refused to comply with police commands, Chief Beck said.

"Don't take an officer's gun," one speaker said at the commission meeting. "If a person attempts to take a police officer's gun, it will not end up well. My condolences go out to the family of Africa, but let this investigation take its course."

Beck said Tuesday morning that investigators are still looking to speak with more witnesses. He refused to confirm the identity of the man who was killed and said that information would come from the coroner's office.

At a Monday news conference, Beck cited several screengrabs obtained from witness videos that he said show the man attempting to "forcibly grab" one of the officer's guns. He also said an officer in the video said "He has my gun" several times before three other officers opened fire in what the chief described as an "extreme tragedy."

Two Los Angeles Police Department officers involved in Sunday's altercation that led to the fatal shooting were wearing body cameras, providing police with another video for review in the department investigation, Beck said Monday. Investigators also plan to review video from the camera system at the Mission,  where officers responding to the robbery report encountered the man in 500 block of South San Pedro Street.

The man can be seen on a bystander's video recording swinging his arms as officers approach. The man repeatedly refused to comply with officers' commands and a stun gun had "little effect," Beck said.

"While on the ground, the suspect and officers struggled over one of the officer's handguns and then an officer-involved shooting occurred," the LAPD said in a statement.

At least five rounds were fired, police said.

The subject died at the scene. Two officers suffered minor injuries.

Some people who live in the area said they believe police are at least partially responsible for what transpired.

"You can't tell me five officers can't take down one man. What about police training?" One homeless man told NBC4 Monday. "I think they treated him like they normally treat homeless people on Skid Row, with disrespect, with harassment."

Chief Beck said Monday the officer's involved in the Skid Row shooting are well trained.



Photo Credit: Toni Guinyard, KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Isla Vista Families Sue Sheriff]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 19:23:56 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/180*120/vigils+isla+vista+493689285_10+%289%29.jpg

The families of three young men stabbed to death in last year's Isla Vista massacre are suing the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department and the apartment housing company, saying they never fully investigated gunman Elliot Rodger as a threat despite a slew of red flags.

Rodger killed UC Santa Barbara students David Wang, 20, James Hong, 20, and George Chen, 19, in the apartment he shared with two of them, before he began a rampage that left three other students dead and over a dozen hurt across the seaside town of Isla Vista on May 23, 2014. All three went to high schools in either Fremont or San Jose in the Bay Area.

"Deliberate killing of innocent life is the lowest of all lows and the darkest of all evils," Wang's mother Kelly said Tuesday. "It should be crushed with no excuse."

The victims' families are suing the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department for negligence and violation of due process over several incidents, including when deputies didn't search Rodger's apartment during an April 30, 2014, wellness check after being flagged by a health worker about a series of disturbing videos he posted on YouTube.

At the time deputies showed up to the apartment, Rodger had a cache of weapons and ammunition in his room, according to the suit. After the wellness check, Rodger wrote in a manifesto that if deputies had searched his room, "that would have ended everything," the lawsuit says.

The department previously admitted last year that deputies had known about Rodger's YouTube videos but had not watched them. Deputies who responded to the check found him "shy, timid and polite" and had him call his mother to tell her he was OK before leaving him.

Deputies asked Rodger about the disturbing videos he had posted online, which Rodger said were a way for him to express himself after having trouble "fitting in socially in Isla Vista," but they did not, view the videos.

"There (were) many stages along the way that this could've been prevented," Wang's attorney Todd Becker said.

The sheriff's department said Tuesday it would not comment on the pending litigation.

The lawsuit also claims that Capri Apartments, which primarily houses UCSB and Santa Barbara Community College students, failed to warn the roommates of Rodger's dangerous tendencies, especially given that he had earlier conflicts with several others who lived with him in the complex.

The suit says that after all the "bizarre behavior," Capri didn't investigate Rodger or do a background check before assigning Hong and Wang to live with him.

"Virtually all of the content Rodger had posted online was easily discoverable with simple Google searches of his name," the lawsuit states.

According to the lawsuit, in August 2011, Rodger confronted his two Hispanic then-roommates, whom he "considered 'rowdy, inferior, pig-faced thugs,'" insulting them and telling them he was superior. Rodger went to the leasing manager and "explained everything that happened," and he later sign a lease for another, larger apartment, the suit says.

The next month, Rodger moved in with a new roommate, with whom he eventually developed a "hostile" relationship, according to the lawsuit.

In September 2012, Capri management heard Rodger throwing a "wild tantrum" and thrashing furniture with a "wooden practice sword," and the complex later assigned new roommates to live with him, according to the lawsuit.

During the time Rodger lived at the complex, he purchased weapons under his own name and posted threatening rants on the Internet, as well as complained to a Capri neighbor that he "was going to kill" himself and a group of students who upset him at a party, according to the lawsuit.

Capri declined to comment to NBC4.

On May 23, 2014, Rodger emailed his family and therapist his manifesto, and uploaded a video to YouTube titled "Elliot Rodger's Retribution" that outlined his attack plan.

Rodger then stabbed to death his two roommates and their friend, then opened fire on the busy college town of Isla Vista where he killed three more students and himself.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>