<![CDATA[NBC New York - Top Stories]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.comen-usThu, 23 Feb 2017 20:14:50 -0500Thu, 23 Feb 2017 20:14:50 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[I-Team Gets Rare Access to Compounds of Private Militia]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 18:53:47 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/wallace+militia.jpg

A few hours away from New York City, weekend warriors are involved in what they call Patriot games. Members of the Pennsylvania State Militia (PSM) drill once a month in military-style maneuvers and weapons training. They are not members of the National Guard, which is a reserve military force of the U.S. Armed Forces.

The PSM is a private militia group. Private militia training is legal in most states as long as members don’t incite violence or civil unrest and follow local gun laws. New York state has an old law that puts restrictions on private militias operating in public. 

The PSM, which trains on various private compounds in northern Pennsylvania near the New York border, granted NBC 4 New York's I-Team rare access after months of negotiations.

The founder of the militia group, Staff Sgt. Michael Grove, said members were concerned about how they might be portrayed in the media. Some did not want to show their faces or give their real names. 

Grove said the group is preparing to be deployed to respond to any type of threat, whether it be a natural disaster or terrorism. 

“Whether it’s a hurricane or say it’s a riot. It only takes one storeowner to contact us and say, 'I don’t want my place burned down,'" he said. 

Grove said the group is not anti-government or political and that its goal is to supplement law enforcement. 

"I wouldn’t say we are right wing. I wouldn’t say we’re left wing. We’re just the guys in the middle," he said. 

The Southern Poverty Law Center tracks anti-government militia groups, identifying 165 in 2016. The PSM is not on their list. 

“There are a lot of militias we don’t list because they’re not governed by conspiracy theories," Ryan Lenz of the Southern Poverty Law Center said. "They’re not out there thinking the United Nations is going to jackboot its way into their backyards.” 

Many in the PSM have law enforcement or military backgrounds. Others are average Joes who fancy themselves as GI Joe. 

The two dozen members include a retail salesman, a welder, a college student and a professor. 

The professor told the I-Team he moved to Pennsylvania from New York City, where gun laws are much stricter. 

“In New York it’s almost a crime to do everything, it’s a crime to sit on a milk crate,” he said. “You need the militia around to make sure that the local area where we reside is being protected from the marauders and wolves of society.” 

A man who identified himself as Colonel Rokk said he taught martial arts in Brooklyn for most of his life and also recently moved to Pennsylvania. 

“I’m a martial arts teacher so I’m part of the 3 percent of the people who actually know how to defend themselves and other people with my hands or a weapon if necessary," he said. "We have like minds and skill sets." 

Grove said all members are required to have legal gun permits and attend monthly training drills. He also said they're all vetted carefully.

"We don’t want extremists in the PSM,” he said. “Extremists are the guys who give the militia a bad name.” 

The PSM is now actively recruiting new members.

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Cuomo Demands Schools Protect Trans Students After Rollback]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 19:44:41 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/176*120/2616cuomo.jpg

Gov. Cuomo issued a stern directive Thursday urging the state Department of Education to make it clear to all school districts that transgender students must be shielded from discrimination and harassment in the wake of the federal rollback of such protections. 

The letter was sent a day after the Trump administration withdrew protections for transgender students in public schools that allowed them to use bathrooms and facilities corresponding with their gender identities. 

Without the federal guidelines enacted during the Obama era, it's up to individual state and school districts to interpret the federal anti-discrimination law. Cuomo says the recent policy change won't alter the existing protections for transgender students such as the Dignity for All Student Act, which requires schools to guard students from discrimination or harassment based on gender.

"New York State schools must continue to enforce the law and protest transgender and gender non-conforming students," he said. "No student should be confused about their rights or fearful of losing these important protections."

The governor called the rollback "misguided" and said that federal legislators "seek to move this country backwards with the stroke of a pen."

He emphasized that regardless of one's religion, race, orientation or gender identity, there can be no confusion about the state's responsibility to enforce its protective laws.

"In New York, whether you are gay, straight or transgender, Muslim, Jewish or Christian, rich or poor, black or white or brown, we respect all people," he said. "We speak with a single voice: we do not and will not tolerate discrimination in the State of New York."

A rally sponsored by GLAAD and other organizations protesting Trump's rollback of federal protections for transgender people and students will be held at the Stonewall National Monument at 5:30 p.m. 

So far, over 1,300 people said they'll attend on the event's Facebook page and another 3,500 more said they were interested. Several state and city legislators are expected to attend tonight's rally on Christopher Street, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, City Councilman Ritchie Torres and Congressman Jerrold Nadler.

Several people spoke out against the federal lift on bathroom guidelines at an LGBTQ network press conference on Long Island Thursday afternoon. LGBT Network CEO David Kilmnick said that the action is a sign of the Trump administration's attempt to disenfranchise LGBT people and target the country's most vulnerable citizens. He urged New Yorkers to be vigilant and stand united.

"We have to be vigilant, have to stand together," he said. "We will continue to be a home and voice for the community. It's important to remember while we are here, we will also continue to stand for the LGBT community."

<![CDATA[Protesters Arrested Outside of New Jersey Immigration Detention Center]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 19:15:23 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/THOMPSON+ICE+RAID+RALLY+NJ+PKG+430P+-+00000511_WNBC_000000015191.jpg

Several demonstrators were arrested while protesting outside of an immigration detention center in New Jersey. Brian Thompson reports.

<![CDATA[Mild Weather May Mean Bad News For Allergy Sufferers]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 19:08:23 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/CERGOL+MILD+WEATHER+ALLERGIES+LI+PKG+5PM+-+00002223_WNBC_000000.jpg

Unexpected warm weather made for a great day, but could mean trouble for allergy sufferers. Greg Cergol reports.

<![CDATA[NJ Church Teaches Intervention in ICE Immigration Actions]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 19:50:54 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/THOMPSON+ICE+IMMIGRATION+CHURCH+TRAINING+NJ+PKG+6PM+-+00001327_.jpg

Immigration activists crowded into a Highland Park church meeting room to plot a resistance movement to federal enforcement actions aimed at undocumented immigrants. Brian Thompson reports.

<![CDATA[NYC Bus, Subway Delays Getting Worse: MTA]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 20:13:52 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/SIFF+MTA+BUS+SUBWAY+DELAYS+PKG+530+-+00000816_WNBC_000000015194.jpg

Delays on New York City busses and subway trains are getting worse, according to the MTA: in 2012, theree were about 28,000 delays per month -- but last year, there were 70,000 delays. That's an increase of 150 percent from four years ago. 

Acting MTA chairman Freddie Ferrer says relief is on the way later this year, in the form of R-179s. New subway cars that started arriving by truck in recent months and have been tested in recent weeks. They'll replace the old ones that break down on the A, C and J lines. The MTA says it also needs to overhaul the signal system, and some of that is scheduled to happen in the next five years. 

As for buses, the MTA acknowledges frequent gridlock has led to a dip in bus ridership. It's pledging multi-door entry and a MetroCard replacement to speed service. 

Andrew Siff reports.

<![CDATA[Elderly Man, 89, Killed in Hoarding Fire at NYC Apartment]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 19:50:34 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/207*120/COLLETTI+APARTMENT+FIRE+BX.jpg

Debris was tossed from the windows while firefighters battled a second floor apartment fire in the Bronx.

The 89-year-old man living inside was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. His first floor neighbor Leonard Kelly had no idea the senior lived amid so much stuff.

"He was lucky enough that it didn't reach our apartment," he said. "Sometimes you can't really look and say 'oh, he's got all this junk'. You don't really know what's going on in his head."

Bag after bag of accumulated belongings were loaded onto a truck in front of the Fenton Avenue building as more bundles of goods awaited disposal. Firefighters believe the man's escape was slowed by clutter and hampered their efforts.

"It makes the hallway small, it adds to the fireload," said the FDNY's Chief of Department James Leonard. "It makes it more difficult for the firefighters to get into the apartment to do their searches and to extinguish the fire."

An Upper West Side apartment went up in flames Wednesday as Firefighters tossed the couple's belongings onto the street below. One neighbor said she thought a movie was being filmed after she witnessed a mattress and piles of garbage tossed from the third-floor apartment. Neighbors told News 4 the elderly couple who lived inside were known hoarders.

New York City's most famous hoarders, the Collyer brothers, were found dead in their Harlem brownstone back in 1947, practically buried under 100 tons of stuff they collected.

Pedro Gonzalez describes his Fenton Avenue friend of 18 years as a collector, not a hoarder, though he never stepped inside his apartment.

"I remember him picking things up, and I would ask him, 'Spencer, what are you gonna do?' and he would say 'Oh, I'm going to fix it and then give it away'," he said.

<![CDATA[Man Allegedly Shoots Woman in Chest, Drives Her to Hospital]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 18:45:35 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/police+lights13.jpg

A New Jersey man allegedly shot a woman with a handgun, then took her and two children to a hospital following some sort of domestic incident, according to a criminal complaint filed in Harrison Municipal Court.

Police received a call about a loud domestic violence incident at the home of Victor Segastume Saturday night, according to a complaint filed by Harrison County Patrol officer Joseph Sloan, who was dispatched to the home with two other officers. When police arrived, they noticed a trail of blood coming from the home's outside stairs.

That's when the 25-year-old suspect packed the woman and two children into a car and sped off. Officers forced their way into the first-floor apartment, where they found a bullet hole, according to the complaint.

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Police found and seized Segastume's car at the Jersey City Medical Center. He was apprehended and detained by officers.

Before undergoing surgery, the victim told police that Segastume shot her, according to the complaint. 

Authorities classified the shooting as a domestic violence incident. The victim allegedly identified Segastume as family. Their exact relationship, and the relationship between him and the two children, is unknown.

Attorney information for the man was not immediately known.

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<![CDATA[ICE Detainee with Tumor Removed from Texas Hospital: Lawyer]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 18:55:41 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/041211+ICE+agent+generic.jpg

An undocumented woman in need of surgery to remove a brain tumor is being held at a North Texas Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center, Attorney Chris Hamilton said.

Sara Beltran Hernandez has been held at the Prairieland Detention Center in Alvarado since November 2015. 

She collapsed at the detention center this month after complaining of headaches, nosebleeds and memory loss, according to Hamilton. She was then transported to Texas Health Huguley Hospital in Burleson, where she was diagnosed with a brain tumor that requires surgery.

Hamilton claims his client was denied access to her other attorney and to vital medical attention while in ICE custody. 

Paralegal Melissa Zuniga says Beltran Hernandez has waited 13 days to have surgery and the lawyers in her asylum case are asking for a humane release to receive that care, The Associated Press reported.

According to AP, Zuniga says the woman's condition is worsening with nosebleeds, loss of memory and other symptoms increasing.

The 26-year-old fled her native El Salvador because of the violence there, Hamilton said. She came to the United States illegally but immediately sought asylum and surrendered to authorities.

Hamilton believes Beltran Hernandez was detained for not having proper documentation when she tried to go to New York City to be with family. Family members have also reportedly been trying to petition for her asylum.

A spokesperson for ICE said Beltran Hernandez was discharged from the hospital on Wednesday and was returned to the detention center.

In a statement to NBC Dallas-Fort Worth the agency said:

"ICE takes very seriously the health, safety and welfare of those in our care ... During [Beltran Hernandez's] stay at the hospital, ICE ensured that she was able to speak to her family and to her attorney by phone. Like all detainees in our care, Ms. Beltran will continue to have access to 24-hour emergency medical care and to any required specialized treatment at an outside facility."

Hamilton claims Beltran Hernandez was forcibly removed from the hospital and that she was bound somehow.

"She's in a lot of pain," Hamilton told NBC-DFW.

He also said a brain surgeon offered Wednesday night to help care for the woman.

Check back and refresh this page for the latest update. As this story is developing, elements may change.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fleeing Biker Tackled As He's About to Jump Off NYC Highway]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 19:22:07 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/dramatic+belt+parkway+chase.jpg

A dramatic police chase ended when a suspect fleeing police by foot on a Brooklyn highway was tackled just as he was about to jump off an overpass, Chopper 4 over the scene captured exclusively.

Police began pursuing two motorcyclists on the Belt Parkway during the evening rush hour, possibly starting at Cropsey Avenue off Belt Parkway in Bensonhurst. It's not clear why police were pursuing them.

Police dispatch recordings captured the officers' exchange during the chase: "I've got two wheels coming down, traveling westbound approaching Ocean Parkway." 

At around 68th Street on the Belt Parkway, in Bay Ridge, one of the motorcyclists bailed off his bike.

"They'll bail -- they're bailing off!" the police dispatch continues.

The biker began running through westbound traffic as cops followed him on foot, Chopper 4 shows. He jumped the divider and ran through eastbound traffic, heading straight for the concrete barrier to jump off the Bay Ridge Avenue overpass, video shows, likely a 30-foot drop.  

A man ran out of his car, swiftly tackled the biker and brought him to the ground. Officers immediately swarm the man, one with his gun drawn.

It's not clear if the person who tackled the suspect is an officer; he appeared to be wearing plainclothes and the vehicle he came out of was not a marked patrol car.

Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[Sessions: US to Continue Use of Privately Run Prisons ]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 18:48:26 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_17010580743939-session.jpg

Attorney General Jeff Sessions signaled Thursday his strong support for the federal government's continued use of private prisons, reversing an Obama administration directive to phase out their use. Stock prices of major private prison companies rose at the news.

Sessions issued a memo replacing one issued last August by Sally Yates, the deputy attorney general at the time.

That memo, which followed a harshly critical government audit of privately run prisons, directed the federal Bureau of Prisons to begin reducing and ultimately end its reliance on contract facilities. Yates, in her announcement, said private facilities have more safety and security problems than government-run ones and were less necessary given declines in the overall federal prison population.

But Sessions, in his memo, said Yates' directive went against longstanding Justice Department policy and practice and "impaired the Bureau's ability to meet the future needs of the federal correctional system." He said he was directing the BOP to "return to its previous approach."

The federal prison population — now just under 190,000 — has been dropping due in part to changes in federal sentencing policies over the last few years. Private prisons hold about 22,100 of these inmates, or 12 percent of the total population, the Justice Department has said.

Yet the federal prison population may increase again given Sessions' commitment to aggressive enforcement of drug and immigration laws, and his focus on combating violent crime. Thursday's memo likely sets the stage for a more expansive rollback of criminal justice policies enacted by the Obama administration Justice Department, including directives against seeking mandatory minimum punishments for nonviolent drug offenders.

The private prison industry has been a major contributor to Republican political campaigns, particularly in recent years. As a candidate, President Donald Trump said he supports the use of private prisons, and the shares of the major companies — including Geo Group and CoreCivic Co., formerly Corrections Corporation of America — jumped after the election amid anticipation that the incoming administration would again turn to them.

"I do think we can do a lot of privatizations and private prisons. It seems to work a lot better," Trump told MSNBC in March.

The federal government started to rely on private prisons in the late 1990s because of overcrowding. Many of the federal prison inmates in private facilities are foreign nationals who are being held on immigration offenses. The Yates policy did not extend to prisons used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which hold tens of thousands of immigrants awaiting deportation.

Immigration and human rights advocates have long complained about conditions in privately run prisons. An inspector general audit from last August said problems at private prisons in recent years included property damage, injuries and the death of a corrections officer.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[I-Team: Jail Doctor Says He Was Fired for Exposing Bad Care Behind Bars]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 15:43:05 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/glorioso+iteam.jpg

A health care firm that treats sick inmates at the Westchester County jail is under fire after a doctor accused the company of terminating him because he gave his honest medical opinion in court.

Dr. James Brill, a former physician at Colorado's Jefferson County Detention Center, says in December of 2014 he was called to testify in the case of an inmate who suffered a stroke behind bars. Brill testified he would have sent the inmate to the hospital hours earlier than medical staff actually did. Shortly after his testimony, Brill was fired.

"I got a phone call from somebody in the corporate office saying, 'You're terminated,'" said Brill. "Two hours following that testimony, my job was done."

Brill is now suing Correct Care Solutions, the jail medical firm in charge of both the Colorado detention center and the Westchester County Correctional Facility. He said firing him after he gave his honest medical opinion sends a chilling message to other health professionals working behind bars.

"If a company can do this to me it can do it to you. So it's totally unethical." said Brill.

Jim Cheney, a spokesman for CCS, declined to say why Brill was terminated, but pointed out that the physician was a subcontracted employee, inherited by CCS when the company acquired a previous medical provider called Correctional Healthcare Companies (CHC).

"Dr. Brill's contract to provide medical services at the Jefferson County, Colorado jail was concluded by its terms when responsible CHC personnel provided him with notice that the contract would conclude," Cheney wrote in an email to the I-Team. "That decision was not related in any manner to any testimony provided by Dr. Brill in an unrelated civil action."

Despite stressing that Brill worked as a subcontractor and not directly on CCS payroll, Cheney confirmed CCS took control of CHC before Brill was terminated.

"We were obviously a part of the process when he was let go," Cheney said in a phone call with the I-Team.

Brill's attorney, Mari Newman, says her client's experience -- getting dismissed after giving his honest medical opinion -- is reason for Westchester County to reconsider its relationship with CCS.

"It would be a profound mistake for New York to allow Correct Care Solutions to be in charge of the medical care at its detention facilities." Newman said.

But Cheney said the termination of a jail doctor in Colorado has nothing to do with inmate care in New York.

"The past relationship between Dr. Brill and CHC lacks any connection to the performance of medical services for the Westchester County Department," Cheney wrote.

Before the lawsuit in Colorado, Correct Care Solutions was already under fire for allegations of deficient care in Westchester County. In 2013, Rashad McNulty, a prisoner awaiting sentencing on a federal drug charge, died of a heart attack behind bars despite complaining of chest and stomach pains for 4 hours. The New York Commission of Correction concluded the death might have been prevented if CCS staff had simply sent McNulty to the hospital in a timely fashion.

Despite McNulty's death, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino has stood by CCS, renewing the company's deal to provide jail healthcare in 2015. Astorino did not respond to the I-Team's request for comment. Though they declined to comment on the McNulty case, both CCS and Westchester County, in their court filings, have denied McNulty was given deficient medical care.

<![CDATA[American Shot in Istanbul ID'd]]> Tue, 03 Jan 2017 00:20:01 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/William+Jacob+Raak_21997574.jpg

A Delaware business owner celebrating New Year's Eve in Istanbul said he survived a massacre at a nightclub there by playing dead after being shot in the leg. 

"I was shot on the ground," William Jacob Raak told NBC News. "He was walking on a bench above my head." 

Raak, who goes by the name Jake, said that he didn't move after being wounded. 

"I just let him shoot me," Raak said. "You just have to stay as calm as you can ... I took a bullet." 

The Islamic State group on Monday claimed responsibility for the attack at the Reina club which killed 39 people and wounded nearly 70. The group described Turkey as "the servant of the cross" and also suggested it was in retaliation for Turkish military offensives against ISIS, The Associated Press reported. 

Raak, who lives in Greenville and is originally from Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, was visiting Istanbul with his friends, his brother Michael told NBC10 Philadelphia. Raak is the only U.S. citizen confirmed to be injured in the shooting so far, according to the State Department. 

He was one of the estimated 600 people celebrating New Year’s at the popular nightclub around 1:15 a.m. Sunday -- getting bottle service in the VIP section -- when a man armed with a long-barreled weapon shot and killed a civilian and policeman, then entered the club and opened fire. 

"I was shot in the f****** leg man," Raak said while being carted off into an ambulance in a video obtained by NBC News. "These crazy people came in shooting everything!" 

Raak later calmly spoke from the hospital.

"Somebody said that there were shots fired and I initially did not believe it until I saw the gunman and he started shooting up the whole place," Raak told NBC News. 

Raak’s brother, Michael Raak, who lives in South Philadelphia, told NBC10 his brother had just celebrated his 35th birthday in Istanbul four days prior to the shooting. Michael received a phone call from his brother around 7:30 p.m. ET on New Year’s Eve after the attack took place. 

"We were setting up for New Year’s and then I got the phone call," Michael Raak said. 

Michael Raak told NBC10 his brother’s cellphone likely saved him from a more serious injury.

"When he got shot the bullet hit his phone," Michael told NBC10. "It went from his hip to his knee but the bullet didn’t hit any major arteries." 

Raak called himself "the luckiest person in the whole thing" considering he was surrounded by dying people.

Doctors removed the bullet, Raak said. 

Jake Raak was discharged from the hospital and returned home Monday evening.

"Everyone’s just happy he’s alive and getting home pretty quickly," Michael said. 

Raak’s friend, who is from Dubai, was also shot in the shoulder during the attack but is expected to recover.

Turkish police detained eight people in connection with the attack but continued to search for the gunman on Monday, the AP reported.  

Photo Credit: NBC News
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<![CDATA[Officer Shoots, Kills Himself in Bronx Home, Sources Say]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 15:17:48 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/officer+shooting.jpg

A law enforcement officer shot and killed himself in a Bronx home Thursday afternoon, sources familiar with the investigation tell NBC 4 New York.

Emergency crews responded to the scene at a Sedgwick Avenue co-op shortly after 2 p.m. It wasn't clear if the officer was a member of the NYPD or worked in corrections, but the sources said he was pronounced dead. 

He was off duty at the time, according to the sources. 

Chopper 4 showed an extensive emergency presence at the scene.

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Doctor Called 'Monster' Pleads Not Guilty to Sex Abuse]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 14:42:24 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/180*120/Gymnastic-doc-sexual-abuse.jpg

Toting a Bible, disgraced gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar appeared in court Thursday to plead not guilty to molesting young girls — the latest in a string of charges that led Michigan's top prosecutor to call him "a monster," NBC News reported. 

A judge ordered Nassar held without bond — a moot point since he is already locked up without bail on federal child pornography charges and a state charge that he repeatedly molested a family friend starting when she was 6 years old.

Wearing orange jail garb with his left hand shackled to his waist, Nassar gave only brief answers to the judge's questions at the first of two back-to-back arraignments in two counties on 22 counts of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree.

Photo Credit: David Eggert/AP Photo]]>
<![CDATA[Suspect's DNA Profile in NYC Google Worker Slaying Revealed]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 11:41:57 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/mass-runner-killed-0808.jpg

Authorities in Massachusetts say they now have a DNA profile of the person believed to have killed a 27-year-old New York City woman out running near her mother's Massachusetts home last summer.

Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early said the DNA profile shows the suspect is an athletic, light-skinned male and about 30 years old. He would have had scratches on his body following Vanessa Marcotte's Aug. 7 slaying.

The suspect is also Latino and had a shaved head based on witness descriptions, according to Early.

Marcotte, a New York City resident who worked as an account manager for Google, was in Princeton, Massachusetts, visiting her family that fateful weekend when she went on a jog, but never returned. Her body, which investigators say was naked and partially burned, was found in a remote and wooded area about a half mile away later that evening. Authorities say there were also signs she had struggled with her attacker.

State police announced in November they were searching for a dark SUV that had been parked on the side of the road where she was last seen in connection with her slaying.

Investigators have also received more than 1,300 tips to a dedicated tip line.

Meanwhile, her family spoke out days before Christmas, thanking the public for supporting them and announcing they had started a foundation in Marcotte's name that encourages her values of "giving back and volunteerism."

"Not a day goes by that we don't reflect on the enormity of her loss," Marcotte's uncle, Steven Therrien, said while reading a statement.

Marcotte's slaying came five days after a woman in Queens was murdered while on a run. Police have arrested 20-year-old Chanel Lewis after matching his DNA to samples found on 30-year-old Karina Vetrano, whom authorities said "ferociously" fought her attacker. However, police in New York and Massachusetts have added there is nothing connecting the Queens case to the case in Princeton.

Photo Credit: NECN / Handout]]>
<![CDATA[NY Zoo Giraffe Stream Banned for 'Nudity' Back After Outcry]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 13:34:47 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/giraffe8.jpg

YouTube has apparently restored an upstate New York zoo's livestream of a giraffe preparing to give birth that had been abruptly suspended Thursday after animal activists complained about "nudity and sexual content" in violation of the site's policy. 

More than 20 million had been viewing the cam, placed in the stall of “April” the giraffe at the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, in anticipation of the birth of her fourth calf. People from all over the world watched the long-necked animal slink gracefully around her hay-laden home, giddy with excitement.

Suddenly, shortly before 8 a.m., the stream stopped.

The Animal Adventure Park posted on Facebook that YouTube yanked the stream for "nudity & sexual content" and said "Animal Rights Extremists" were responsible.

The post was shared more than 6,200 times within an hour as thousands of commenters voiced frustration over "the miracle of life" being banned from YouTube. At least one person suggested the zoo put clothes on the giraffe. 

In a Facebook live addressing the controversy, the zoo's owner, Jordan Patch, said, "This is a perfect example of why we cannot have nice things."

Patch said it's OK that some animal activists don't agree with the zoo's decision to stream the birth, but that they were wrong to get YouTube to pull it.  

"This has pulled an educational tool away from tens of millions of individuals," he said.

A two-hour stream documenting part of the giraffe's labor was allowed to remain online, though the comment section was rife with angry users demanding YouTube restore the live video. By 9:45 a.m., it was back up -- and by 1:30 p.m., the giraffe was still swinging its tail comfortably, no sign the birth was imminent. 

YouTube didn't directly respond to the controversy, but clearly delineated policies on its site ask users to flag content they believe violates standards. The site has an appeals process in place for users, and if content is removed in error, YouTube works quickly to reinstate it.

Giraffes are pregnant for 15 months. Labor will last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. The calf will be about 150 pounds and 6 feet tall at birth and up and walking in about an hour. The zoo says it will hold a contest to name the calf.

Though it'll be 15-year-old April's fourth calf, it'll be a first for 5-year-old dad Oliver, the zoo says. 

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<![CDATA[NY Town Issues Warning Over 'Red Devil' Heroin]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 13:56:09 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/red+devil+heroin+warning.jpg

Police in one Westchester County town are warning residents about a potentially deadly batch of heroin making the rounds.

It wasn't clear if anyone had died from consuming the heroin, labeled "Red Devil," but Eastchester police said in a Facebook Post they were alerting the public "due to the ongoing health concerns regarding opioids and heroin." 

The warning comes a day after authorities took down a series of opiate distribution operations on Staten Island, arresting and charging a dozen people. Of them, nine face a variety of federal charges related to the distribution of heroin and oxycodone, while the rest face state charges. 

More than 100 people may have died on the island last year alone from drug overdoses, the prosecutor's office told the Staten Island Advance in January.

Photo Credit: Eastchester Police]]>
<![CDATA[Passengers Demand Answers After Intense Customs Check at JFK]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 19:11:51 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/CBPQuestioningJFKBridge.jpg

When Kelley Amadei disembarked from Delta Flight 1583 with her wife and son, she didn't expected to be greeted by two Customs and Border Protection agents standing at the jet bridge entrance.

As the plane taxied to the airport gate late Wednesday, Amadei felt like something wasn't right -- a flight attendant told passengers to have their travel documents ready for inspection before leaving the plane.

Once she and her family exited, the agent studied their identification cards, glancing between her and the ID before focusing his gaze on her 7-year-old son. She says she's never experienced anything like it before.

"It didn't feel normal. I've been on a million domestic flights, I didn't ever have that experience," she said. "He studied my ID for sure. I was checking because I was thinking maybe they were looking for someone in particular, but they didn't have a manifest in their hands that I could see so they were just checking IDs."

Passengers on the flight, which had originated in San Francisco, called the experience unnerving amid heightened tensions in recent times. They're demanding answers about CBP officers blocking the exit and checking IDs.

Amadei was so concerned about her experience, she doubled back to the gate to speak to the officers. 

"He said 'It's not for you to to worry about, we do it from time to time.' I said, 'I've been on a thousand flights, I used to travel three weeks out of the month. I never had it happen on a domestic flight and I've never had it happen on an international flight.' He just looked at me and said 'leave it alone.'"

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman said they were looking for a specific person Thursday afternoon. 

"This individual was ordered removed by an immigration judge," he said in a statement to News 4. "To assist our law enforcement partners, two CBP officers requested identification from those on the flight in order to help identify the individual. The individual was determined not to be on the flight."

The spokesman added that the CBP does this regularly, and that the process started after 9/11. He said this case was a little different because they didn't have a picture of who they were looking for, just a name.

A spokesperson for Delta didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Photo Credit: Matt O'Rourke]]>
<![CDATA[D'oh! Man Tries to Rob Closed Bank]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 14:38:18 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/fairfield+police+cruiser+generic.jpg

Police are looking for a man who tried to rob a Connecticut bank Wednesday afternoon, but ran off when he realized it was closed.

Employees were still inside the closed-up People's Bank in Fairfield when the man, wearing a mask and carrying a duffel bag, walked up to the front door shortly after 4 p.m., authorities say. He tried to open it, but it was locked.

The employees who were still inside saw him and he ran back to his car, fleeing toward I-95 southbound, according to police. 

There is no surveillance footage of the suspect at this time. Anyone with information about the attempted robbery is asked to call the Fairfield Police Department at (203) 254-4840.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Fake Cop Pulls Man Over Near Burger King, Tries to Get Cash]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 19:36:41 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/cop+impersonator2.jpg

Authorities are looking for a fake cop who pulled a man over near a New Jersey Burger King earlier this month and tried to get him to pay up for alleged outstanding summonses. 

Police say the suspect used a mounted blue and red interior light in his car to pull over the driver on River Road in New Milford shortly before 9 p.m. Feb. 4. The suspect, wearing a blue police-style shirt with an American flag patch, got out of his car and walked over to the victim. 

According to police, he asked for the victim's driver's license and registration and then told him he had unpaid summonses that could be paid to the suspect directly. The victim declined to pay and the suspect got back in his car and drove away, authorities said. 

He's described as being in his mid to late 20s, about 200 pounds and 5 feet 8 inches tall with short salt and pepper hair and facial stubble. Police released a composite sketch (above) of him based on the victim's description. They say the victim did not see a weapon on the suspect. 

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the New Milford Police Department at 201-261-1400. A Crime Stoppers reward will be given for any information leading to an arrest.

Photo Credit: Handout]]>
<![CDATA[White Nationalist Richard Spencer Kicked Out of CPAC]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 14:13:17 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/richardspencerfeuerherdII.jpg

Richard Spencer, the white nationalist who popularized the term "alt-right," was kicked out of the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday after holding an impromptu press conference in a hallway where the gathering is being held. 

"He is not welcome here," a spokesman for CPAC told NBC News.

Spencer said he was initially given credentials to attend the conference, but they were taken from him after he spoke to reporters in the hallway of the Maryland convention center. 

Spencer has espoused racist and anti-Semitic views, and reiterated those thoughts in a brief interview with NBC as he was leaving CPAC.

He told NBC race plays a major role in identity and that he believes whites are becoming a persecuted minority in the United States. 

Spencer also said he thinks CPAC attendees and younger conservatives would rather hear what he has to say, than listen to establishment Republicans. 

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[NJ Man Indicted for Allegedly Killing Woman's Dog in Kitchen]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 12:58:34 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/DogAbuseIndictment.jpg

A Seaside Heights man has been indicted in the killing of a dog in her owner's kitchen, officials from the Ocean County Prosecutor's office announced Thursday.

Nicholas Piccolino was indicted on one count of third-degree animal cruelty Thursday morning for causing serious bodily injury and death of a 10-year-old female Bichon Frise dog named Booshu, officials said. He faced charges of torment, torture and unnecessarily or cruelly beating a living animal resulting in their death.

Bail was set at $35,000 at the time of his arrest, officials said.

The Seaside Heights Police Department received a call about animal abuse at around 9:55 p.m. Aug. 19, 2016, officials said. Booshu's owner alleged that the 34-year-old, who was alone with the dog in the kitchen, caused the pooch's death.

Authorities said further investigation revealed that an upstairs neighbor heard several loud banging sounds and a dog yelping in the kitchen below during Piccolino's time alone with Booshu. That's when the neighbor alerted Booshu's owner that something was wrong with her dog.

Booshu's owner found her dead on the bathroom floor, officials said. Piccolino claimed that the dog "dirtied " herself in her crate and he had dropped her while he was cleaning her up.

The pooch was taken to Red Bank Animal Hospital, where she was pronounced dead on arrival. A necropsy revealed that Booshu suffered multiple blunt force injuries to her head and body that contributed to her death, authorities said.

Photo Credit: Ocean County Prosecutor's Office]]>
<![CDATA[$1 Million Powerball Ticket Sold in New York]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 12:31:43 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_17053701008433.jpg

Some lucky person bought a $1 million Powerball ticket from a 7-Eleven on Long Island.

The New York Lottery said the second-prize ticket was sold at the store on Montauk Highway in Center Moriches. Another $1 million ticket was sold in Rochester. The winners have yet to come forward.

More than 255,000 other people won smaller prizes in New York, the lotto said. A $1 million ticket was also sold in New Jersey -- at News Day on Mulberry Street in Newark -- but the winner spent an extra $1 to exercise the Powerplay option, which doubles the windfall to $2 million. Many smaller prizes were also won in Connecticut. 

The Powerball jackpot had climbed above $400 million for the first time in nearly three months ahead of Wednesday night's drawing. At least one jackpot-winning ticket was sold in Indiana. The winner has not been identified.

The winning numbers for the estimated $435 million pot were 10-13-28-52-61 and Powerball 2. It was the seventh-largest jackpot win in the game's history.

Indiana has the most jackpot winners in the nation, with 39. Missouri and Minnesota have the next most, with 31 and 22 respectively.

The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot are incredibly small, at one in 292.2 million. 

Powerball is played in 44 states, plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Elise Amendola]]>
<![CDATA[Ellen DeGeneres Surprises NYC Students With College Tuition]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 13:15:26 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/180*120/Rozman_20170222_14110_1904r.jpg

Ellen DeGeneres is known for surprising guests with extraordinary gifts. But on Thursday's show the beloved host raised the bar to a higher degree, doing something she has never done before.

DeGeneres and Walmart have gifted the graduating class of Brooklyn's Summit Academy Charter School four-year college scholarships to any State University of New York school.

The $1.6 million donation will cover the costs of tuition for 41 graduating seniors.

"Our mission is for them to go to college," Summit Academy Charter School Principal Cheryl Swift said. "Now they don't have any obstacles."

Students said they were shocked by the guesture, calling it "stunning" and a "once in a lifetime opportunity."

The school's founder Natasha Campbell first connected with DeGeneres earlier this month when she shared the school's inspirational story with the talk show host in a letter.

Campbell shared that Summit Academy Charter School is located in an impoverished neighborhood where only 4 percent of people in the community have college degrees.

Degeneres invited Campbell and Cheryl Lundy Swift, the school's principal, to share their story during a visit to the show and surprised the educators with $25,000 check from Walmart to help the school continue making a positive impact on their students and community. 

The school's mission is to have their students "attend, excel and graduate from college." Campbell revealed that the graduating class of 2017 is tracking for a 100 percent college acceptance rate.

"Their wildest dreams can be achieved," Campbell said of the donation.

Photo Credit: Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.
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<![CDATA[Transatlantic Flights Coming to NY's Stewart Airport in June]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 08:45:46 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/stewart+international+airport.jpg

Stewart International Airport in Orange County will begin offering transatlantic flights in June, the fourth regional airport to do so, under a new partnership with Norwegian Gov. Cuomo announced Thursday. 

Norwegian transatlantic flights with service to Ireland and Scotland start from the airport this summer under the following schedule: 


  • Edinburgh, Scotland: Daily flights begin June 15 for the summer season and operate through Oct. 28, then three times per week during the winter season beginning Oct. 29
  • Belfast, Northern Ireland: Flights three times per week during summer season from July 1 through Oct. 28, then twice weekly for the winter season beginning Oct. 29
  • Dublin, Ireland: Daily service begins July 1 and transitions to three times per week during the winter season on Oct. 29
  • Shannon, Ireland: Twice-weekly service begins on July 2. 


In addition to launching new international flights, Norwegian will open a base of operations at Stewart for its pilots and cabin crew, and will station Boeing 737-MAX aircraft at the airport. Cuomo said the partnership will create an estimated 230 jobs and generate $36 million in economy activity. 

Stewart, about 50 miles from Manhattan and less than an hour from northern New Jersey, served more than 275,000 passengers in 2016, but projections for 2017 are about 400,000 passengers with as many as 700,000 in 2018. The airport also will increase connectivity to Manhattan with additional buses offering direct service from the airport to the Port Authority Bus Terminal for just $18 each way, Cuomo said. 

"This exciting partnership will create new economic opportunities for Stewart Airport and the surrounding region and demonstrates the success of our efforts to transform airports across New York into 21st century hubs of commercial activity," the governor said in a statement. "With strategic investments in New York airports, we attract new jobs, businesses and opportunities and help grow local economies for generations to come."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Detective Allegedly Steals $3K in Cash From Evidence Room]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 12:58:10 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/gavel+and+book2.jpg

A New Jersey police officer has been charged with stealing thousands of dollars from the evidence room at the South Amboy Police Department.

Detective Matthew Barcheski was charged with theft and a related count of official misconduct for allegedly pocketing $3,000 in various amounts from the department's evidence storage room over a period of time, officials from the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office announced Thursday.

The 39-year-old has been a police officer with the department since 2005 and served as a member of the Middlesex County Special Operations Response team until recent times. Officials say he began his career as a Middlesex County Sheriff's Officer in 2003.

The investigation is active and ongoing.

Anyone with information regarding the theft is asked to call Detective Chiorello of the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office at 732-745-3848.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock Stock Image]]>
<![CDATA[Thousands Return Home as Flood Waters Recede in California]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 18:33:55 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-643917340.jpg

Thousands of people evacuated from a flood in San Jose, California, returned home Thursday amid warnings to be careful about hygiene and handling food that may have come into contact with flood water.

"The water is not safe," Mayor Sam Liccardo said. "There is contamination in this water and the contamination runs the gamut."

Officials also hoped to rescue more than two dozen horses from ranches if the water recedes enough.

About two-thirds of the 14,000 residents evacuated two days ago were being allowed to return home while 3,800 people remain under a mandatory evacuation order issued when a creek overflowed following heavy rains and sent waist-high water into neighborhoods.

Those who went home were sorting through waterlogged furniture, toys and clothing after the creek water carrying engine fuel and sewage swamped their homes.


Victor Chen, his two children, ages 8 and 10, and his wife evacuated Tuesday night and returned to their home on 21st Street earlier Wednesday.

"It's really tough to see. A home is all we worked for, and our family is all here," Chen, 42, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "And we had to leave it behind when the water was rising."

Toys, extra mattresses, a TV, bikes and clothing were all ruined after the garage, dining room and one of the children's bedrooms were flooded.

Liccardo acknowledged that the city failed to properly notify residents to evacuate during a flood emergency early Wednesday when some people said they got their first notice by seeing firefighters in boats in the neighborhood.

"If the first time a resident is aware that they need to get out of their home is when they see a firefighter in a boat, that's a failure," Liccardo said at a news conference. "We are assessing what happened in that failure."

Liccardo declined to go into detail, saying there would be time for reflection after the emergency was over.[[414642544, C]]

Evacuation orders were still in place on Oakland Road and Rock Springs areas. Part of the William Street Park area was cleared for reentry, according to the mayor's office.

Flood warnings were in place until Saturday because waterways were overtaxed, and another storm was forecast Sunday.

Meanwhile, officials have closed two evacuation centers set up for residents forced to leave their homes two days ago because of floods.

The centers were places where evacuated people could get food and water and rest. Two overnight shelters remained open and people there were trying to find out if they would be allowed to go home.[[414604004, C]]

A steady of stream of people, like resident Marnie Scharmer, stopped by the centers dropping off donations of clothing and toys for the children.

“My heart just goes out to the victims of the flooding, so last night my son and I went through our closets and grabbed what we could to help out,” Scharmer said.

The city began alerting residents of the flood situation on Tuesday via social and mainstream media and sending emergency alerts to those who had signed up for it, said city spokesman Dave Vossbrink.

When water levels changed dramatically overnight, they sent police and firefighters door-to-door during the dramatic overnight evacuation.

 "It was scary," said Irma Gonzalez, 59, whose two-story apartment complex is alongside the creek. She was awakened about 2:30 a.m. by police pounding on her door. "They were like, 'You've got to hurry up and go! Move it!'"[[414566793, C]]

Gonzalez spent the night at her sister's house and said she was thankful for the wakeup call and evacuation. "It's better than to wake up and have water coming in."

Several residents faulted the city for failing to provide proper warnings.

"The city dropped the ball on making sure that people were notified of the potential impact of this flood," said resident Jean-Marie White, whose house and backyard were flooded. "Nobody had any clue.''

Bob Benjamin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the water level in 30-mile long Coyote Creek reached a 100-year high during this week's storm.

Downpours in the past few weeks have saturated the once-drought-stricken region and wreaked havoc for residents. At least four people have died as a result of the storms throughout the state in the past week.

Assistant San Jose City Manager Dave Sykes said officials first became aware of the rising water late Tuesday when firefighters began evacuating about 400 people from a low-lying residential area.

City officials did not believe the waters would spread to other neighborhoods and did not expand the evacuation orders.

Coyote Creek flooded after Anderson Dam in Santa Clara County reached capacity during heavy weekend rains.[[414502333, C]]

Managers of the dam are taking advantage of a break in the storms to draw down the reservoir, which is supposed to be limited to 68 percent of capacity because of earthquake concerns but is now at 100 percent, said Jim Fiedler, a chief operating officer at the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

He said it could take nine weeks to bring it down to normal levels. Inspectors in 2010 discovered the dam is vulnerable to a major quake and $400 million is being spent to make it earthquake-proof by 2024.

[[414609174, C]]

AP writers Kristin J. Bender and Jocelyn Gecker in San Francisco, Scott Smith in Fresno and Amanda Lee Myers in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Carjacking Suspect on Lam Prompts NJ School Shelter in Place]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 11:06:38 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/20160928+Classroom+Generic.jpg

An attempted carjacking in Cliffside Park, New Jersey, prompted a shelter in place at public schools in the area Thursday morning, according to police and the district's superintendent. 

Police say the suspects remains at large following the 9:30 a.m. carjack attempt. 

Enhanced security protocols were implemented at nearby schools out of an abundance of caution, police said, adding that there was no imminent threat to students or faculty.

It wasn't clear how long the protocol would be in place. 

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / maroke]]>
<![CDATA[NJT Service Resumes After Fire Brings Most Trains to Halt]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 12:02:08 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Portal+Bridge+Fire+Activity.jpg

NJ Transit trains were rolling to and from the city again, albeit with nearly hour-long delays, Thursday after a 30-minute frenzy of suspensions stemming from an apparent fire near the Portal Bridge, the railway tweeted.

MidTown Direct trains were rerouted to Hoboken and service on the Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast and Raritan Valley lines was halted in both directions between New York and Newark Penn stations shortly before 10 a.m. as firefighters responded. By 10:15 a.m., NJ Transit tweeted service resumed. 

The nature of the issue wasn't clear, but NJ Transit tweeted that authorities were responding to some kind of fire near the span, which runs over the Hackensack River just west of Secaucus Junction. Amtrak, which owns the bridge, couldn't immediately be reached for comment. It wasn't clear if Amtrak was also affected.

Cross-honoring was in effect with NJ Transit buses, private carriers and PATH. 

Fire officials in Kearny said they expected to have details later Thursday.

Photo Credit: NBC News / John Makely]]>
<![CDATA[Treasury Secretary: Expect Tax Overhaul by August]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 10:21:01 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/632094848-Steve-Mnuchin-Senate-Hearing.jpg

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says he would like to see "very significant" tax reform passed before Congress’ August recess, CNBC reported.

In his first television interview since assuming office, Mnuchin told CNBC Thursday that he’s been working closely with leadership in the House and the Senate to get the ball rolling.

Mnuchin said the administration is mostly focused on a middle income tax cut — a pledge that President Donald Trump ran his campaign on. Trump has promised to release a tax plan in the coming weeks.

Mnuchin added that simplification for business is another focus of the administration’s, and said that he’s focused on canceling out any tax cuts for the wealthy with closed loopholes. He said the administration's tax plan should be judged by the economic growth it could create, rather than by the how much tax revenue drops.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Host of Documents Still Missing From White House Website]]> Thu, 23 Feb 2017 10:12:12 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/whitehouseatnightfeuerherd.jpg

Public-facing documents scrubbed from the White House's website shortly after President Donald Trump was inaugurated — including White House visitors' logs, waivers of ethics regulations and a host of other records — still haven't been replaced, fueling advocates' concerns about the new administration's transparency, NBC News reported.

During the first week of February, 31 databases — reporting legally mandated White House payroll reports to Congress, budget documents, White House visitor records and public response documents — were removed from the White House Open Data portal, the platform created to disclose information about 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and its operations.

The previous presence of the documents was confirmed through publicly available archived versions. Some of the data, preserved by the National Archives and Records Administration, are also available on the White House website of former President Barack Obama.

Photo Credit: Getty]]>