<![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 Fri, 09 Oct 2015 18:01:24 -0400 Fri, 09 Oct 2015 18:01:24 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Child Care Costs Exceed Rent in Many States]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 16:52:07 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-488834318.jpg

The high cost of sending your child to college weighs heavy on the minds of many parents, but a new study reveals another financial burden many Americans families are facing — unaffordable child care.

Child care costs for families with two children exceed rent in four out of five communities across the country, according to the Economic Policy Institute’s study “High Quality Child Care Is Out of Reach for Working Families.”

The EPI, a non-profit workers’ advocacy group, found that child care costs for two-child families range from about half as much as rent in San Francisco to nearly three times rent in Binghamton, New York.

The study’s authors, senior economist Elise Gould and research assistant Tanyell Cook, gauge the cost of child care across the country and illustrate the difficulties families have in meeting the costs.

What it takes to get by varies greatly across the country. A family of four living in New York, New York, must earn a median annual income of $98,722 to secure an adequate standard of living, according to the EPI’s calculations of a basic family budget. Yet, with the minimum wage in the state at $8.75 per hour, two full-time working parents only make $36,400 annually — assuming both parents works 40 hours per week, 52 weeks per year.

In Dallas, Texas, the annual income necessary to ensure a modest standard of living is $61,150 for a family of four. But with a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, the annual income for two full-time working parents falls short of securing an adequate standard of living by 50 percent.

This reality leaves few options for families, especially single mothers, with sparse financial resources.

The report points out that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that child care cost no more than 10 percent of a family’s income. But according to the EPI analysis, nowhere in the United States does infant care or child care for a 4-year-old cost less than 30 percent of a minimum-wage worker’s annual wages.

In fact, a large share of annual earnings from a full-time, full-year minimum-wage job must be devoted to child care. In California, that share is 63.5 percent for an infant while in Washington, D.C. — the highest in the nation at 102.6 percent — a minimum-wage workers is unable to bear the expense of child care. That percentage drops 8 to 20 points if your child is still is a toddler.

“The fact that child care is such a large part of families’ budgets underscores the need for a government solution,” Gould said in a press release. “It will take bold policy action to make high quality, dependable child care accessible to every family that needs it.”

But lower income families aren’t the only ones feeling the pinch of high-cost care.

The finding, published Tuesday, reveal child care costs for a 4-year-old exceed the average cost of in-state tuition at public 4-year institutions in 24 states, as well the nation’s capital. Infant care expenses, meanwhile, exceed the average in-state tuition for public colleges in 33 states and D.C.

“The high and rising cost of college tuition is well known,” Cooke said in the study’s press release. “But surprisingly, child care is an equally if not more onerous expense. In more than half the states, child care is a bigger expense than even in-state tuition at a 4-year public college.”


<![CDATA[Social Worker Facing Child Porn, Human Trafficking Charges]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 15:34:02 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/handcuffs-GettyImages-141810855.jpg

A Massachusetts social worker was arrested this week on human trafficking and child porn charges after he allegedly paid three teenage girls to send him naked pictures of themselves.

Rick Hall, 34, of Wakefield - the owner of North Shore Recovery Management in Reading - was arraigned Thursday in Woburn District Court on charges of human trafficking of a child under 18, enticement of a child by electronic communication, posing a child in a state of nudity and possession of child pornography. 

Bail was set at $100,000 cash, and Hall was ordered not to have contact with the victims, not to use the internet, not to work with or volunteer with anyone under the age of 18, and to surrender his passport.

Police said Hall had allegedly been communicating electronically with three 15-year-old girls who live out of state, and enticed them to exchange pornographic images of themselves in exchange for money.

Hall's social worker's license has been suspended by the Division of Professional Licensure pending an investigation and a hearing.

According to its website, North Shore Recovery Management helps manage substance abuse, psyciatric disorders and compulsive sexual behaviors, including the overuse of pornography and sex addiction. A message on the website says new patients are "not currently" being accepted.

"As a social worker, the defendant was mandated by statute to report any form of child abuse," Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said. "Instead, the defendant allegedly violated the ethical standards of his position by exploiting minors, and exchanged money for lewd photographs."

Reading Police Chief James Cormier called the allegations "extremely troubling," and urged all parents to closely monitor their children's activities ont he internet, including their social media accounts.

Hall is scheduled to return to court on Nov. 5.

It was not clear whether or not Hall has an attorney.

Photo Credit: FILE - Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Obama Weighs WH Moves on Gun Control]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 11:07:08 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_478772376784.jpg

As President Obama heads to Roseburg, Oregon, for meeting with families of the victims of last week's deadly shooting at Umpqua Community College, the White House is considering taking up the issue of gun control, NBC News reported. 

The administration is reconsidering a major gun control proposal that would establish new guidelines for who is legally defined as a licensed gun dealer and therefore required to conduct background checks on potential buyers, administration officials tell NBC News. The proposal would define anyone that sells more a certain number of guns each year "in the business" of selling guns and therefore subject to laws for gun dealers.

According to sources, the administration has considered 50 or 100 guns a year as the threshold to trigger these requirements, although they have not formally settled on a number.

In the wake of the Oregon shooting, the president pledged to have staff "scrub" existing gun laws in search of ways to push for reform.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[U.S. to End Syrian Rebel Training Program]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 11:16:26 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_572693972798.jpg

The Pentagon will announce Friday  the official end of its failed program to "train and equip" Syrian rebels and replace it with a far less ambitious program, NBC News reported.

The "training" part of the program — which managed to field only "four or five" Syrian rebels in the battle against ISIS in Syria at a cost of about $50 million — will be halted, according to senior defense officials.

Instead of combat training for the rebels, they will now be used as "enablers" to identify targets and call in airstrikes for U.S. and coalition warplanes.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[21 Years of Nobel Peace Laureates]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 07:19:01 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/nobel-lead-image.jpg The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, winner of the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize, joins a long list of laureates that includes President Barack Obama, Pakistani activist for female education Malala Yousafzai, former President Jimmy Carter and South Africa's anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela. Here is the list from the past 20 years. The first award dates back to 1901.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pilot in 'El Chapo' Prison Escape Arrested]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 12:03:40 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_393247238036.jpg

The pilot who flew drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán to freedom has been arrested, Mexico's attorney general announced Thursday, NBC News reported.

Arely Gomez Gonzalez said 23 government employees and 10 civilians had been detained in a quest for answers. It was not clear when the pilot was arrested.

Guzmán, the chief of the Sinaloa cartel, busted out of the maximum security prison Altiplano in July through a mile-long tunnel before being flown out of the reach of police. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Student Kills 1, Wounds 3 in Ariz. University Shooting]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 14:59:04 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Northern_Arizona_University_Shooting.jpg

One student was killed and three others wounded after a freshman at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff opened fire during a confrontation between two separate groups of students early Friday, police said.

The alleged gunman, who was identified as 18-year-old Steven Jones, was taken into custody at the scene “without further trouble," campus police chief Greg Fowler said. Jones was a pledge for Sigma Chi and was removed from the chapter’s pledge program after his arrest, the fraternity said in a statement.

The three victims, identified by the university as Nicholas Prato, Kyle Zientek and Nicholas Piring, are being treated at Flagstaff Medical Center. The deceased student is Colin Brough.

The shooting occurred outside Mountain View Hall dormitory, where most of the school's fraternity members live. Fowler said it's not clear what caused the confrontation. 

Classes will go on as scheduled on Friday, but “this is not going to be a normal day at NAU," said Rita Cheng, the university's president. "Our hearts are heavy." 

<![CDATA[Councilman Hit With Stun Gun, Arrested in Tx. Town Where Sandra Bland Arrested]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 17:52:50 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/209*120/waller+county+presser.jpg

A city councilman was hit with a Taser and arrested in the same Texas city where Sandra Bland was arrested during a seemingly routine traffic stop, authorities said Friday. 

Prairie View Councilman Jonathan Miller was stunned with a Taser after allegedly resisting arrest, according to a Prairie View Police Department statment released Friday. The timing of the arrest wasn't specified.

Asked about witness accounts that apparently indicate that Miller did not resist arrest, Police Chief Larry Johnson said during a press conference on Friday: "We will do a complete investigation, we’re looking at all the facts surrounding that incident."

Johnson said the arresting officer had approached a group of men who were in a location with narcotics are normally sold, part of her normal routine. Miller allegedly refused to step back from officers after repeatedly being told to do so, authorities said. He was stunned with a Taser after physically resisting arrest, according to a release from the police department. 

NBC affiliate KPRC reports that Miller was only asking why the men were being arrested, according to a witness.

Johnson also confirmed, when asked, that the arresting officer was involved in the Sandra Bland arrest, but did not say how. The arresting officer, a woman, has not been named.

Bland was arrested by Trooper Brian Encinia, with whom she got into an argument over a lit cigarette, according to dashcam video released after she died while in Waller County Jail. Her arrest prompted a range of investigations into her arrest and incarceration.

<![CDATA[Bike-Riding Dog Visits Pet Fair]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 16:51:42 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/pet+adoption+fair+raw+-+22472723.jpg

The Bay Area Pet Fair in San Rafael, California, got a special visit from a celebrity pet on Friday.

YouTube sensation Norman the Scooter Dog performed a few tricks at the pet fair, which is sponsored by Pet Food Express and runs until 5 p.m. Saturday.

The French sheep dog rode a bike and a scooter and also showed the crowd his newest skill: jump roping.

Norman traveled all the way from his home in Atlanta, Georgia, with his owners to bring publicity to the fair, which is the largest adoption event in California.

A total of $50 is donated to animal rescue funds every time a pet is adopted. For more information, check out the Bay Area Pet Fair's website.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Stolen Gun Used in Pair of Slayings]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 16:48:41 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/audrey-carey-steve-carter.jpg

The gun used to kill both a tantra yoga teacher hiking in Fairfax, California, and a Canadian tourist in San Francisco was stolen from a car parked near Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco police revealed in a news conference Friday.

And the motive for both homicides appears to be robbery, Cmdr. Toney Chaplin said - the first time a possible reason for the seemily bizarre and violent deaths on two innocent victims was revleaed.

Chaplin said the gun was stolen Sept. 30 from a lock box in the car, which had been parked in a residential neighborhood near the wharf. Chaplin said the driver accidentally left the car unlocked. The owner reported it stolen Oct. 1.

Two days later, on Oct. 3, Audrey Carey, 23, who lives near Montreal, Quebec, was found shot in the head in Golden Gate Park as thousands gathered nearby for the annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, according to police. She had been on a solo backpacking trip, Chaplin said, "doing what young people do." Her body was found in a wooded area. Carey's mother, through a statement, has asked for privacy. But Chaplin said that Carey's family is glad that suspects are behind bars. "They've endured a great tragedy," he said.

Then, on Monday, tantra yoga teacher Steve Carter, 67, was shot multiple times and killed while hiking with his dog on a popular trail in Fairfax, police said. Carter had recently moved from Middletown, California, to be with his wife, Lokita, as she sought breast cancer treatment at the Marin Cancer Institute. A memorial for Carter is scheduled for Halloween.

Authorities arrested drifters Sean Michael Angold, 24, Morrison Haze Lampley, 23, and Lila Scott Alligood, 18, in Portland, Oregon, on Wednesday. They were being held Friday morning at the Multnomah County jail without bail. Detectives tracked the three to Portland using the GPS tracking in Carter's stolen Jetta, which he left near the trail head before his hike. And Chaplin said on Friday that they also found some of Carey's personal belongings, including her camping gear, with the suspects, too.

Jail records show the three were booked on a Marin County warrant on charges of conspiracy to commit murder, murder and robbery. San Francisco police said the trio will also be arrested on charges of robbery and murder in connection with Carey's death. They could be extradited to the Bay Area next week.

The deaths mark the third high-profile homicide in which a stolen gun was used to kill an innocent victim in the Bay Area.

Kate Steinle was killed July 1 on Pier 14 in San Francisco with a gun stolen from the car of a federal Bureau of Land Management agent, whose vehicle was burglarized while the agent was doing business in San Francisco.

Photo Credit: San Francisco Police via Carey Family/Ecstatic Living Institute
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<![CDATA[Pregnant Woman Clings to Moving Stolen SUV]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 15:44:48 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-558948623.jpg

A man almost ran over his pregnant ex-girlfriend with her SUV that he allegedly stole from her, police said.

The cell phone video shows Jessica Alvarado, who is 32 weeks pregnant,  jump onto the moving SUV as it swerves from side to side.

Anthony Adan Escobedo, 33, was charged with assault after Alvardo clung to the hood of the car while he tried to drive away.

Alvarado was taken to the hospital with scrapes and bruises.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Cultura RF
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<![CDATA[Adorable Zoo Babies: Bei Bei the Panda]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 15:33:06 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/2015-10-05_1439_tweet_bt_PandaLove0575.jpg See all the newest arrivals at zoos around the world. Baby lions, tigers and bears step into the spotlight.

Photo Credit: Smithsonian's National Zoo Panda Cam]]>
<![CDATA[Bear in Funny Viral 'Human Walk' Video Has Sad Story]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 14:43:07 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Bear-Generic.jpg

New Jersey residents and a New York animal rescue are racing to try to help a bear with an injury so severe it can only walk on its hind legs like a human.

The bear, nicknamed "Pedals" by neighbors in Oak Ridge, has been seen wandering near homes upright over the last several months. The bear first gained notoriety after video of him trotting down a neighborhood street was posted on YouTube, but now, a year later, residents are beginning to become concerned that the bear, who appears to have lost weight and is often seen panting or foaming at the mouth, won't make it through the winter. 

"He was exhausted," Sabrina Pugsley, who started an online fundraiser for the bear, told NJ.com. "Seeing the bear on video is one thing but seeing him in person is another. It broke my heart seeing him in person and in that condition."

Some videos posted to social media and YouTube show the bear trotting through backyards without care for humans peering over their fences at the odd sight. Another shows Pedals struggling to walk on three of its four legs before giving up and assuming an upright position. A third video shows him lie down in the middle of a neighborhood street, apparently exhausted from walking in an unnatural position. 

Puglsey has raised more than $18,000 to send Pedals to the Orphaned Wildlife Center in Orange County, New York. The large refuge cares for bears and said in a Facebook post it would cost about that much to build an enclosure for Pedals to safely live in while he recovers.

The center said in another post it is worried about Pedal's weight going into the winter and that it has been talking with state wildlife officials about bringing the bear to their refuge.

"We don't feel this bear is of good enough weight going into winter, and we don't feel that it is a normal or natural situation for him to be coming into residential communities like this. It Is not a good situation for Pedals, or for the local community," the rescue said in a Facebook post.

Meanwhile, another concerned resident started an online petition calling on the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife to allow the rescue to capture Pedals and take him to the Orphaned Wildlife Center

NBC 4 New York has reached out to the Division of Fish and Wildlife about Pedals.

In a Facebook post on Oct. 2, the division said that wildlife officials had been monitoring the bear's movements since the initial video was published last year and that they didn't think moving the animal was the best course of action. 

"Fish and Wildlife bear biologists believe it is best not to intervene or make attempts to capture this bear. If the condition and health of the bear clearly deteriorates, then biologists from the Division of Fish and Wildlife will respond accordingly," the division said in the post. 

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Carson Defends Linking Gun Control to Holocaust]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 13:51:21 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_597656294333.jpg

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson defended his controversial statement in which he suggested that the Holocaust would have been "greatly diminished" if German Jews had been armed with guns.

“It is well known that in many places where tyranny has taken over, they first disarmed the people,” Carson said in an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s "Good Morning America.” “There’s a reason that they disarm people. They don’t just do it arbitrarily.”

Carson was asked Thursday by CNN's Wolf Blitzer about an excerpt from his book "A More Perfect Union," in which the retired neurosurgeon links the disarming on German citizens with the killing of 6 million Jews by Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime.

In his book, Carson says "the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed."

The Anti-Defamation League condemned Carson's comments, noting the "small number of personal firearms available to Germany's Jews in 1938 could in no way have stopped the totalitarian power of the Nazi German state."

"Ben Carson has a right to his views on gun control, but the notion that Hitler’s gun-control policy contributed to the Holocaust is historically inaccurate," National Director of the Anti-Defamation League Jonathan A. Greenblatt said in a statement. "When they had weapons, Jews could symbolically resist, as they did in the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and elsewhere, but they could not stop the Nazi genocide machine.

Greenblatt added that "Nazism and anti-Semitism," not gun control, caused the Holocaust.

Carson called the response by the Anti-Defamation League "total foolishness," adding that he'd be happy to discuss it "in depth" with anybody.

Earlier this week, Carson drew criticism by calling for potential victims of mass shootings to rush the attacker.

In an interview on Wednesday, Carson also offered a shaky explanation of his opposition to raising the debt ceiling, appearing to confuse the borrowing limit with the federal budget.

"Let me put it this way: if I were the president, I would not sign an increased budget. Absolutely would not do it. They would have to find a place to cut," Carson said in a radio interview on "Marketplace."

In a statement to NBC News, Carson later said, “critics have blown this way out of proportion” but does make clear that he understands "raising the debt ceiling is about paying for obligations the federal government has incurred.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Fan: 'I'm Hispanic...We Vote for Mr. Trump']]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 12:59:36 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_8630881865610-Trump.jpg

Donald Trump, who has called for mass deportation of undocumented immigrants but insisted that he loves Latinos, found an ecstatic Hispanic supporter at a rally in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Thursday.

Appearing at a campaign event at the Treasure Island hotel and casino on the Strip, the Republican presidential candidate called on a woman holding a copy of People magazine, where Trump was recently featured with his family.

The woman, who said she was from Colombia, jumped on stage and screamed when Trump led her to the microphone.

"Where you from?" Trump asked.

"I'm from Colombia. I'm Hispanic, and I vote for Mr. Trump. We vote for Mr. Trump," she said. "We love you, we love you, all the way to the White House.”

Trump smiled broadly and put his hands on her shoulders, then appeared to have placed his hands on the woman’s hips. He kissed her several times.

"I swear to you, I think she's totally beautiful and great, I never met her before, I swear," Trump said.

The Las Vegas Sun spoke to the woman, identified as Myriam Witcher, after the event. She told the paper she supports Trump’s stance on immigrants who come to the U.S illegally.

"He needs to send illegal [immigrants] out of the country. I came here legally," she told the Sun, "I'm Hispanic, Latina and I love me some Trump."

According to a NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo survey from Sept. 30, nearly three in four Latinos say they have a negative view of Trump.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Trooper Hailed for Saving Infant]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 14:25:24 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/180*120/State+Trooper.jpg

A New Jersey State Trooper is being hailed as a hero for helping save the life of an 8-month-old baby who was not breathing.

Trooper Benjamin Hockin responded to a home Oct. 3 after a 911 call for an unconscious and unresponsive infant.

Hockin arrived and retried an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) from his troop car, which patrol troopers often carry.

Once inside, Hockin checked 8-month-old Lila and found she was not breathing and had no detectable pulse. Relying on his training, he deployed the AED, administering one shock. Hockin began CPR and continued until EMS arrived. First responders administered a second shock before taking over CPR.

Lila was taken to Hunterdon County Medical Center, then transported to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she is doing well and expected to make a full recovery, according to police.

The doctors and paramedics involved have commended Hockin for his lifesaving efforts, which helped keep Lila alive until she received further treatment.

"Trooper Hockin’s quick and decisive actions are a credit to him and the New Jersey State Police," said Colonel Rick Fuentes, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. "There is nothing more rewarding or meaningful than to save a life. This is a memorable start to a bright and promising career."

Photo Credit: New Jersey State Police]]>
<![CDATA[Ebola Nurse Back in Hospital After 'Complication']]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 07:37:56 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/217*120/460991180.jpg

A British nurse who recovered from Ebola early this year was flown back to a secure hospital unit Friday after suffering "an unusual late complication of her illness," health officials said.
Pauline Cafferkey contracted the virus while working with a charity in Sierra Leone and was discharged from London's specialist Royal Free Hospital in January. But Friday she was flown to the Royal Free Hospital, which houses the U.K.'s only high-level isolation unit following the unspecified "complication." A spokesman for Scotland's NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde health authority confirmed to NBC News on Friday that Ebola had been detected in Cafferkey, but because the nurse had suffered the virus before this was "not a new infection."
Dr Emilia Crighton, director of public health at NHSGGC, said the risk to the public was "very low," but that officials were still following up with people Cafferkey had been in contact with, as a precaution. 

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hummer Rammed Through Hotel Wall in Family Dispute]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 14:55:20 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/10-09-2015-hummer-suv-crash-san-dimas.JPG

A man who was upset with family members repeatedly rammed his Hummer through the wall of a hotel in an attempt to break into their room, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Richard Melendez, 28, had been pounding on the San Dimas Extended Stay America Hotel room door, which led to a domestic disturbance call, the sheriff's department said. Melendez stopped knocking by the time deputies responded to the hotel lobby at about 1 a.m., but they arrived just in time to watch him crash a 2003 Hummer through the wall of the hotel, according to the sheriff's department.

Several guests came outside as the large sport utility vehicle struck the wall about six to 10 times before it stopped partially inside the hotel room. Guest Joey Clayton said there was an arugment before the crash.

"He bashed it into the room," Clayton said. "It was something about love. Something to do with love.

"It was quite spectacular."

Other guests were sleeping when the four-ton SUV slammed into the building.

"I was sleeping, and all of the sudden I heard this loud banging sound," said guest Mark Kuszewski. "I heard some girl screaming. I got up, went over to the window and here's this Hummer back over here pounded into the building."

Deputies later determined that the suspect's wife and four children, ages 1, 3, 5 and 6, were sleeping in a room across the hall from where the Hummer entered the three-story building.

"By some miracle, no one was injured," said Lt. Elisabeth Sachs.

Melendez, who was allegedly intoxicated and uncooperative with sheriff’s deputies, was subdued with a stun gun, the sheriff's department said in a statement. He was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and related charges at the San Dimas Station. Bail was set at $30,000.

Sheriff's Lt. Andy Berg told The Associated Press the suspect had not obtained a lawyer early Friday.

A building inspector was assessing the hotel damage Friday morning.

Guests who fled their rooms told deputies Melendez had a gun, but a gun was not found at the scene, deputies said.

Photo Credit: RMG]]>
<![CDATA[Military Dad Surprises Daughter]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 13:45:20 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/100915+pembroke+pines+soldier+reunited+with+daughter.jpg

An unsuspecting high school senior thought she was attending a school assembly Friday morning but instead walked right into an emotional, surprise reunion with her military father.

Kiana Jones, a senior at Somerset Academy High School in Pembroke Pines, Florida, believed her father would be coming home toward the end of October. Her dad, Army Lt. Col. Aaron Jones, said long separations are nothing new for the family.

"Our father-daughter bond is unique," Jones said of his only child just before the surprise reunion. "I've been in the military 18 years, so this is nothing new to her. She's pretty resilient when it comes to this, but I think today her emotions are going to show."

As the band played, students walked in holding a "welcome home" sign bearing Aaron Jones' name. Kiana Jones was in disbelief.

"When I saw his name, I was just like, 'Wait, wait like – Aaron Jones? Like, my dad?'" she told NBC 6. "It didn't make sense to me, but when I saw his boots, then I realized that he was actually here."

As her father entered the gymnasium, Kiana Jones ran to embrace him. The two hugged and cried as the band played, and the gym roared with applause and cheers.

Aaron Jones and school officials planned the reunion well in advance and managed to keep the surprise under wraps for months.

This was Aaron Jones' fifth deployment of his military career. For the past nine months, he's served in Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.

As a result, Aaron Jones missed his daughter's entire junior year, making Friday's reunion even more special.

"It's just, it's amazing," Kiana Jones said, wiping away tears of joy. "I'm just happy to have him home safe."

Aaron Jones is on reserve and said he doesn't expect to be heading anywhere anytime soon.

<![CDATA[Uber Sued Over Sex Assault Claims]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 12:40:03 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/uber-app-GettyImages-454509980.jpg

Two women from Massachusetts and South Carolina are suing Uber, accusing the ride-sharing service of neglect and fraud after they were allegedly sexually assaulted by Uber drivers in two separate incidents.

The unnamed women said Uber misled women by regularly marketing the company as a safe transportation option, then failing to appropriately screen its drivers, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in California.

The suit zeroes in on two incidents, including one in Boston, when an Uber driver allegedly attacked a woman. The second was reported in South Carolina. Representatives from Uber said the company worked with police in both states to help with the investigations.

It's not the first time drivers for the San Francisco-based company have been accused of misconduct.

A driver from California was arrested in June 2014 on suspicion of kidnapping a woman and bringing her from a nightclub to a motel room. Company officials said the driver was not logged into Uber's system and the ride was not arranged through Uber.

The next month, an Uber driver was arrested in Virginia after allegedly sexually assaulting a woman who had been drinking and passed out in his car. The driver was suspended, according to Uber.

Around the same time, a Philadelphia model accused of an Uber driver of punching her in the face during an argument over a traffic jam. Then, in September, a driver in San Francisco was accused of hitting a passenger with a hammer.

A driver from Boston was arrested on charges of rape, assault, kidnapping and battery last December after allegedly strangling and sexually assaulting a woman he had picked up in Cambridge. The district attorney's office said Uber was cooperative and helped police identify the driver.

As a result, the ride-sharing service implemented a new code of conduct detailing a "zero-tolerance policy" against "aggressive behavior," NBC News reported.

Ari Mason contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: FILE - Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Drone Flies Near Washington Monument; Operator Cited]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 11:26:31 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_222915703.jpg

A drone landed near the White House early Friday after its operator, a D.C. man, lost control of the device, U.S. Park Police said.

Around 1:20 Friday, the drone -- an F182 6 Axis Quadcopter -- was spotted flying near the Washington Monument, and Park Police and Secret Service officers responded to the area. 

Authorities say the operator apparently lost control of the drone, leading it to land on the Ellipse. Secret Service officers found it there, just inside the entrance at 16th Street and Constitution Avenue. 

Park Police identified the drone's operator as Howard Solomon III, of D.C. He was not arrested. They issued him a citation.

Secret Service officers turned over the drone to Park Police.

Flying any kind of unmanned aircraft or drone is illegal in D.C.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[8 Hurt in Auto Auction Crash]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 16:37:53 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/adesa.jpg

At least eight people were injured when a car plowed into a crowd at an auto auction on Friday morning in Framingham, Massachusetts.

It happened after 9:30 a.m. at an ADESA vehicle auction house at 63 Western Avenue, according to The MetroWest Daily News

Framingham police said the incident occurred inside the building, when a 78-year-old man who was driving a vehicle at the auction accidentally accelerated, striking eight people and five vehicles that were parked inside.

The driver, who was hired by the auction to help drive the cars and facilitate where they should be, also hit the car in front of him, which his wife was driving. The crash set off a chain reaction that resulted in several people being struck before the driver slammed into a cinder block, according to police.

Police said most of the injured people were not seriously hurt, but one was run over by a car and dragged. The victim was taken by medical helicopter to MetroWest Medical Center.

Although Framingham police say at least eight people were injured, MetroWest Medical Center's CEO, Barbara Doyle, told necn that medical staff were treating 10 patients in total, with six at the Framingham campus in stable condition, and four being treated at the Natick campus in good condition with minor injuries.

The driver was shaken but not injured. Police said his wife was hurt.

Auctions are still continuing at the venue.

Framingham police are investigating, but no charges have been filed.

<![CDATA[Five Killed in Gaza as Israeli-Palestinian Violence Worsens]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 11:51:20 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/AP_492751760989.jpg

Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian demonstrators along the Gaza border Friday, killing five of them, as a rash of stabbing attacks in Israel and the Palestinian territories, including the first apparent revenge attack by an Israeli, raised fears of wider unrest.

Recent days have seen a string of attacks by young Palestinians with no known links to armed groups who have targeted Israeli soldiers and civilians at random, complicating Israeli efforts to contain the violence, which has been linked to tensions over a sensitive Jerusalem holy site.

Gaza-based Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh applauded the recent Palestinian stabbing attacks across Israel at a speech in Gaza Friday morning and called the surge in violence an "Intifada" or uprising. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Judge Jails Domestic Abuse Victim]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 08:16:49 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/100915+domestic+abuse+victim+seminole+county+judge.jpg

A central Florida judge is under fire for sentencing an emotionally distraught domestic violence victim to three days in jail for failing to show up in court to testify against her alleged abuser.

A newly released video shows Seminole County Judge Jerri Collins harshly criticizing the victim in a July 30th contempt of court hearing. The victim was scheduled to testify in court against Myles Brennan, the father of her 1-year-old son, NBC News reported.

The victim had reportedly asked to drop charges against Brennan, who was arrested back in April for choking the victim and threatening her with a knife as she held their infant, according to officials.

Brennan was sentenced to 16 days in jail after pleading no contest to simple battery.

The woman claimed to have taken a domestic abuse class, then asked to drop the charges and wished to "move on" with her life, she says in court.

Still, Judge Collins demanded an explanation of her failure to appear.

The tearful woman is heard apologizing, claiming she had been dealing with depression, homelessness and anxiety since the abuse incident.

"You think you have anxiety now? You haven't seen anxiety," Judge Collins is heard saying.

Despite the woman's tearful plea, explaining that she is caring for the child alone, the judge found her in contempt of court and sentenced her to three days in the county jail. The decision was met with tears and a plea for mercy from the victim, but Judge Collins reaffirmed that she'd made her decision, and ordered the victim to "turn around" as she was handcuffed and led away.

Since the video surfaced, many have been critical of the judge's actions, saying that the harsh sentence served only to re-victimize the victim.

"I understand that the state wants to take criminals and get them off the streets, but you don't do it by re-victimizing a victim in this manner," Jeanne Gold - the CEO of SafeHouse, an organization that aids domestic abuse victims - told NBC News.

A spokesman for the circuit court that covers Seminole County told NBC News that they could not comment on "pending, or impending cases."

<![CDATA[Apple Pulls 'A Few' Apps Over Security Concerns]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 11:33:14 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-453248114.jpg

Apple said on Thursday that it had removed "a few" applications from its App Store, expressing its concern that the security of some users' personal data could be compromised in certain circumstances.

The company said the apps threatened users' security by installing certificates that can expose data to monitoring by third parties. The company did not specify the precise number of apps at issue.

Among the apps removed was Been Choice, which has attracted attention for its ability to block advertising in apps. 

"We are working closely with these developers to quickly get their apps back on the App Store, while ensuring customer privacy and security is not at risk," an Apple Spokeswoman said in a statement.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giant Pine Cone Crushes Vet's Skull]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 14:54:49 -0400 Note: personal information has been redacted from ID cards.]]> Note: personal information has been redacted from ID cards.]]> http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/seed-pod-lawsuit-LEAD-IMG.jpg

Navy veteran Sean Mace was visiting San Francisco during Fleet Week last October and had gotten what he thought was a great view to see the Blue Angels soaring across the sky.

He got to the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park at the Fort Mason Center early to secure his spot hours before the show. He read a book. And he fell asleep.

He woke up – the next day in a hospital – after a 16-pound pine cone, or seed pod, fell from a tree at the park, crushing his skull and causing him to have permanent brain damage, short-term memory loss and other cognitive issues.

“He still has a tremendous degree of anxiety,” Mace’s San Francisco attorney, Scott Johnson, told NBC Bay Area on Thursday. “He’s in constant fear of getting hit on the head. It’s like a bowling ball falling from the sky and hitting you on the head.”

Johnson filed a lawsuit on Mace's behalf Sept. 4 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, citing dangerous conditions of public property and negligence on the part of the U.S. Dept. of Interior, the National Park Service and the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park.

The suit seeks $5 million in damages and alleges the park should have known about the danger, and at least should have posted warning signs, which have since been put up on bright, orange fences around the property.

Mace was injured Oct. 12, 2014 while visiting the Bay Area from Washington state after being laid off as a heating and air-conditioning worker, according to Johnson and the lawsuit. He was 50 at the time and had served in the Navy for two years in the 1980s.

Johnson said Mace used his time off to see the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy’s flight demonstration squad, who are in town again this week performing aerobatics in the sky.

According to the lawsuit, Mace went to the park and sat under a grove of coniferous Araucaria bidwillii trees, also known as bunya pines or false monkey puzzle trees. The trees are not indigenous to San Francisco and were planted by park staff several decades ago. Their seed pods can grow 35 centimeters in diameter and exceed 40 pounds in weight.

At some point, a 16-pound seed pod fell on Mace's head.

Mace was rushed to San Francisco General Hospital, where he had an emergency craniotomy, and then a right hemicraniectormy, the lawsuit alleges, resulting in traumatic brain injury and “likely irreversible cognitive deficits.”

Mace is holding the park district responsible because there were no warnings posted about falling seed pods, no safety barricades and no netting, Johnson explained. Only afterward did park staff install safety barricades and signage, according to the lawsuit.

Johnson said appellate courts have found in the past other national parks are not immune to situations during which heavy snow causes tree branches to break or rockslides to fall, and that juries have decided who is at fault.

That’s what he’d like for his client, too. But Johnson did say in all his research, he’d never found a case involving a falling seed pod that had crushed a park visitor’s skull.

“I’ve not found another case that is factually similar,” Johnson said. “This is relatively novel."

Mace has moved back to Washington state and is being cared for by family and friends.

He also filed a formal claim against the entities named in the suit, which, according to Johnson, has “not been rejected, accepted or even acknowledged.”

Lynn Cullivan, spokesman for the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, said Thursday he had no comment on the pending litigation. Cullivan directed inquiries to the U.S. attorney's office, which did not immediately return requests for comment.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Scott L. Johnson, Esq.
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<![CDATA[Beauty Queen Sold Child Porn: Cops]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 09:58:36 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/230*120/10-8-15_Mrs_OC.JPG

A former Mrs. Orange County was in jail Thursday on suspicion of creating child pornography with a 4-year-old relative and selling it to a Marine stationed in Southern California, authorities said.

Meghan Breanna Alt, 25, of Irvine, is accused of sending sexually explicit images of a 4-year-old girl to the Marine in exchange for cash and gifts, according to Orange County sheriff's Lt. Jeff Hallock.

Alt won the Mrs. Orange County pageant last year and competed in the Mrs. California contest in June of 2014, Hallock said.

She was held in lieu of $100,000 bail. Alt, who was under surveillance, was arrested following a traffic stop in San Diego County on Wednesday, according to Hallock.

Alt is also suspected of advertising unspecified services online that sometimes led to her having sex with clients in exchange for money with her children present, Hallock said.

Alt, along with her husband and children, recently moved to Irvine. Former neighbors in San Clemente said they were surprised to learn about the child porn accusations involving Alt.

Hallock said Alt is involved in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in San Clemente and Irvine, where investigators believe she worked with young children as a volunteer.

Investigators said they are concerned there may be additional victims and asked the public to contact the Orange County Sheriff's Department if they have any information.

Alt is expected to appear in court Oct. 9. It's not clear if she has an attorney.

City News Service contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Immigration and Customs Enforcement]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Is 'Mass-Shooting Capital']]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 10:56:52 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/chicago-shooting-vigil-GettyImages-490593168.jpg

A new report declares an area of Chicago to be “America’s mass-shooting capital” and described it as more dangerous to live in than some of the world’s most murderous countries.

West Garfield Park, which has a population of 18,000, saw 21 murders in 2014, according to The Daily Beast’s report, making the homicide rate 116 per 100,000 people.

Honduras, the country that leads the world in homicides, has a homicide rate of 90, according to figures from the United Nations.

The Daily Beast also reports that the average annual income for West Garfield Park is $10,000, and 40 percent of households live below the poverty line.

Other Chicago neighborhoods were noted as dangerous in relation to other countries. West Englewood’s 2014 per capita homicide rate was 73.2, while Chatham’s was 58, according to The Daily Beast. Venezuela and Belize, the countries with the second and third highest 2014 per capita homicide rate, were 53.7 and 44.7 respectively.

According to a Chicago Tribune analysis, at least 2,300 people have been shot in the city so far this year, roughly 400 more than in the same period last year.

In August, the New York Times reported Chicago saw the sixth highest murder rate increase so far this year when compared with other U.S. cities. The report indicated the city had 294 murders by the end of August, a 20-percent increase from 2014. According to Chicago police data, that number rose to 349 as of Sept. 20, up 21 percent from the year before.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Celebrity Chef Had Sex With Boy, Made Child Porn: Feds]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 15:39:55 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/cafe+du+soleil+uws.JPG

Federal prosecutors are accusing a celebrity chef of producing and sharing child pornography after meeting a boy on a dating app and allegedly enticing him to engage in sex acts.

The 53-year-old Matthew Tivy, who owns Cafe du Soleil in New York City's Upper West Side and has appeared on the Food Network, was arrested after authorities found videos of him having sex with a Bronx teenager, prosecutors said. 

The boy was in junior high school between December and January when the alleged abuse happened, a criminal complaint states. 

Authorities found text messages between the victim and Tivy after the alleged sexual encounter, with Tivy allegedly writing: "That was really fun, even though you were very bad not to tell me how young you are, haha, but I don't mind!" 

The victim wrote back, "Oh, I thought I told you."

Tivy allegedly wrote, "I've been with a high school guy before, so it's cool." 

Tivy was arrested in his Morningside Heights home Thursday morning. His restaurant was open and operating Thursday night. Customers there called the allegations disturbing.

"It just makes me a little more cautious when it comes to bringing my young family members around," said Dameon August. 

Karen Anderson said, "It really is one of the lowest things you can do." 

Tivy's attorney Glenn Hardy says his client is innocent. When asked how he explains the text messages and video,

Hardy said, "That's something we have to investigate. He has no obligation to explain to me or the government what they're about, but that's something Matthew and I are going to work on." 

Tivy is also facing charges for allegedly having sex with a minor back in May. He's due back in court next month. 

<![CDATA[U.S. Pulls Aircraft Carrier Out of Persian Gulf]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 03:06:55 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP324470713137_opt.jpg

The USS Theodore Roosevelt exited the Persian Gulf for maintenance early Friday, leaving the key body of water without a U.S. aircraft carrier for the first time since 2007.
The temporary measure comes as Russia steps up its presence in the region to lend muscle to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Russian forces began bombing targets in Syria last week, drawing criticism from the U.S. and its allies, who say that Russia is mainly targeting rebels fighting Assad instead of ISIS.
The U.S., which is conducting its own airstrikes against ISIS, will still be able to launch its planes from Turkey, Qatar and other coalition nations that have entered the fight against the radical group.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Truck Crashes Over Capital Beltway Overpass, Killing Driver]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 16:42:25 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/2015-10-09_05381.jpg

A driver died after his tractor-trailer crashed over a Beltway overpass and onto the Suitland Parkway below.

The driver of the truck was travelling on the Outer Loop of the Beltway early Friday before losing control, Maryland State Police said. The truck went over the overpass and landed on Suitland Parkway.

Shortly before 5:45 a.m., Prince George's County Fire & EMS confirmed that the driver died.

No other vehicles were involved in the crash.

All outbound lanes of Suitland Parkway were shut down between Forestville Road and MD-4 (Pennsylvania Avenue) but had reopened as of about 4:30 p.m. The inbound lanes were closed two separate times in the wake of the crash.

There were no closures on the Beltway, but the Outer Loop exit ramp to Suitland Parkway was blocked.

The truck was carrying paper products.

Elsewhere in Maryland, all lanes of the Beltway's Outer Loop were closed at Branch Avenue in the wake of another crash, this one involving four vechicles. Two right lanes of the Outer Loop have since reopened there. There's no word on any injuries in that accident.

Stay with NBCWashington.com and News4 for the latest.

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<![CDATA[3 Suspects Linked to 2nd Killing]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 14:57:20 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/3-Suspects.jpg

The three suspects arrested in connection with the homicide of a popular tantra yoga teacher in Marin County in the Bay Area have been linked to the shooting death of Audrey Carey, a 23-year-old woman found dead in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.

San Francisco police said late Thursday the suspects were found to be in possession of Carey's personal property in Portland, Oregon when they were arrested Wednesday in the Marin County homicide. They will be charged with robbing and murdering Carey, a Canadian tourist who was traveling alone, according to San Francisco police.

Authorities have identified the suspects in both homicides as Sean Michael Angold, 24, Morrison Haze Lampley, 23, and Lila Scott Alligood, 18, none of whom has a permanent address. As of Friday morning, they were being held at the Multnomah County jail on no bail. Jail records show that they were booked on a Marin County warrant on charges of conspiracy to commit murder, murder and robbery.

They likely will be brought to the Bay Area next week to face charges of killing Steve Carter, 67, a tatran teacher who was out hiking in Fairfax on Monday evening when he was killed while walking his dog, Coco, who was also shot, according to the Marin County Sheriff's Office. 

The trio on Friday waived their rights to an extradition hearing and will be brought back, first to Marin County, and then to San Francisco, for arraignment.

San Francisco police initially said Carey was found dead with blunt force trauma to her head Saturday morning in Golden Gate Park. The medical examiner has since determined the blunt force trauma to be a gun shot wound, San Francisco Police Sgt. Michael Andraychak said.

Carey's death coincided with hundreds of thousands of visitors who visited the park on Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the city's 15th annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival.

Police have not said whether Carey attended the festival on Friday nor released any information on how she came to be in the park. But Andraychak said that when San Francisco police homicide inspectors learned of Carter's death, they quickly called Marin County authorities because of the similarities: The victims were both killed in wooded or park areas. Two inspectors from San Francisco flew to Portland to accompany Marin County detectives. On Friday, Esparza would not disclose what belongings of Carey's were found in Oregon, adding that police wanted to question the suspects.

Carey’s mother, Isabelle Tremblay, released a short statement this week to the Canadian media, the San Francisco Examiner reported.

“The family of Audrey Carey, who tragically died last Saturday while traveling in the San Francisco area, would like to thank the people who have expressed sympathy and support in the ordeal they are going through,” noted the statement, which was originally released in French. “Audrey was a young girl full of life and loved by all. The family now wishes to grieve in privacy and in private."

On Thursday, Marin County Sheriff's Lt. Doug Pittman said the motive for Carter's killing was largely a puzzle. None of the suspects had driver's licenses, or any type of real paper trail. A search on the Internet did not immediately turn up any social media accounts. No motive for Carey's homicide was readily apparent either.

Lampley was the only one of the three who had a criminal history that was easily found.

According to the Multnoma County Sheriff's Office, Lampley has a string of priors that include weapons and marijuana possession, buying alcohol for minors, criminal mischief and graffiti tagging. The other two had no record there, a records spokeswoman said.

In May, Lampley was charged in San Diego County with the unlawful selling or receiving of a stolen vehicle, a felony, and with stealing a dog, a misdemeanor. He pleaded guilty to the felony charge and was sentenced to 97 days in jail, but was released because he had served that amount while the case was pending, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The newspaper also reported that Lampley was arrested in Mountain View in July 2012 along with another man for allegedly carrying a concealed 5-inch knife.

And Santa Clara County court records reviewed by NBC Bay Area show Lampley was arrested in February 2011 for carrying a concealed 13-inch knife in Saratoga. Lampley told deputies that he was a transient that had been sleeping under a bridge near a Santa Clara light-rail station. And he told authorities that he had been carrying the knife to protect himself from “gangsters” that had been harassing him.

During a news conference, Pittman would not describe the three as "tweakers," when a reporter asked, but he did call them "three lost souls."

Photo Credit: Multnoma County Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[SeaWorld to Expand Orca Tanks]]> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 07:01:53 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/179*120/shamu_sea+world.jpg

The California Coastal Commission on Thursday approved a plan by SeaWorld San Diego to expand its killer whale tanks, but banned any future breeding of the whales.

The decision came as hundreds of animal welfare activists packed a meeting in Long Beach where the proposal was being considered.

The Commission decided to expand the theme park's $100 million Blue World Project, which would replace and expand two existing orca facilities with larger tanks, one containing 5.2 million gallons of water and another with 450,000 gallons.

About 420 people — both for and against the project — packed the meeting at the Long Beach Convention Center.

"SeaWorld is pure evil," said actress and project opponent Pamela Anderson outside the meeting. "It is absolutely ridiculous that it still exists and I'm hoping that every aquatic center closes down."

But SeaWorld spokesperson David Koontz said they are "disappointed" by the Coastal Commission's conditions placed on the project. It will cause them to carefully review and consider their options.

"Breeding is a natural, fundamental and important part of an animal’s life and depriving a social animal of the right to reproduce is inhumane,' Koontz said in a statement.

Activists were calling on the commission to vote down the project, saying the expansion of marine-mammal exhibits would only allow for even more breeding of orcas in captivity.

"SeaWorld's tanks, regardless of size, deny these highly intelligent animals the social bonds, open space, freedom, and stimulation that they would have in their natural ocean homes," said PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman in a news release.

SeaWorld staff said the proposed changes include a new habitat for killer whales with underwater, fast-water currents.

"It's really an exciting thing for the whales and for the people that visit SeaWorld as well," said John Riley, president of SeaWorld San Diego.

According to PETA, thousands of people have written to the California Coastal Commission in opposition to SeaWorld's plan.

The California Coastal Commission issued a report recommending the plan be approved with conditions.

Gordon Tokumatsu and Jason Kandel contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: adonayrealestate.com]]>