<![CDATA[NBC New York - Top Stories]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.comen-usWed, 25 May 2016 05:37:29 -0400Wed, 25 May 2016 05:37:29 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Man Smashes Cop Cars on Wild Drive From Grandma's: Police]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 23:49:54 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/wild+drive+linden+cop+cars+smashed.jpg

A 27-year-old man is facing charges after allegedly smashing into several cars -- including police cars -- during a wild drive from his grandmother's house in New Jersey to the nearby police station, and back to his grandmother's, police say.

James Wnek, who arrived from Arizona several days ago to stay with his grandmother in Linden, took off in an SUV from her house Tuesday afternoon, immediately crashing into her empty car as he drove off, police said. 

He headed to the police station a few blocks away, entering the garage through the exit and driving the wrong way up the ramp, according to police. 

Wnek smashed into the police garage entrance, and when officers ran out to check out the commotion, he proceeded out of the garage and careened his way back to his grandmother's.

That's where he smashed into a police car stationed outside the house and jumped out of the car, police say and video shows. He jumped across his neighbor's fence and ran through the lawn before finally being apprehended and taken into custody.

That neighbor watched the takedown from his front steps.

"He jumped out of his vehicle, over my fence,' said Pat Cerra. "They all had guns pointed at him, right here." 

Remarkably, no civilian was hurt in the entire ordeal, even as the school nearby had just let out. 

"I'm glad he didn't come down our street because there are a lot of children out playing," said neighbor Deborah Barto. 

Two officers were mildly injured when Wnek deployed pepper spray on them while he was being taken into custody, police said. Three cars were hit, including the police car at the station, a civilian SUV and the police car parked outside the man's grandmother's house. 

A motive wasn't clear, and police couldn't immediately speak to his mental state. 

Wnek's grandmother said he is a "nice boy." 

"Two years, I didn't see him," she said. "He come to see me because I was old and tired and he wanted to see the grandma." 

Wnek is currently being evaluated at a local hospital and will face charges, police said. 

Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[I-Team: Confessions of an Uber Driver]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 23:45:34 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/UBER+1.jpg

One day before the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission proposed new limits on driver hours, the I-Team used a hidden camera to see how long Uber and Lyft drivers really spend behind the wheel.

The drivers did not know they were being recorded and their candid responses suggest sleep often takes a back seat to profit.

"Some people, they don’t sleep. They sleep in the car," said one Uber driver who had no idea he was being recorded.

Another driver said he worked all seven days last week. He struggled to recall just how many hours that added up to.

"Seventy. Seventy-one? Seventy-five hours," he estimated.

With fierce competition and downward pressure on fares, some ride-share drivers said they simply have to work longer to make the same pay.

But recent accidents are putting the risks of long driving hours into more serious focus. Last November, for example, 88-year-old Luisa Rosario was hit and killed by a yellow cab driver on a 16-hour shift, according to police. 

The I-Team reached out to Uber and Lyft, two of the biggest ride-share companies in New York, to ask how they limit fatigued and drowsy driving.

Uber did not respond by the deadline for this article, but in the past the company has pledged to warn and even suspend some drivers who repeatedly drive for more than 12 hours in a 24-hour period.

Despite the pledge, one driver said it was easy to game the Uber's system.

"If you work 15 to 20 hours, they don’t care," he said on hidden camera. "They’ll let you keep driving, they don’t care.”

Chelsea Wilson, a Lyft spokeswoman, said safety is the company's top priority.

"We currently do have time limits on the platform - for every 14 hours a driver is in driver mode, whether they are consecutive or not, a driver will need to take a 6-hour break," Wilson wrote in an email to the I-Team.

In late June, the TLC will formally consider a proposal to limit all drivers -- black car, yellow cab, green cab, and ride-share -- to 12 hours of driving in a 24-hour period and 72 hours of driving in a week. There would be a $75 fine for first-time offenders and 15-day suspensions for repeat offenders.

The number of black cars on city streets has increased, partly because of the huge popularity of Uber and Lyft, and the number of accidents has increased along with it. Between the summer of 2014 and last year, crashes involving TLC-licensed vehicles were up nearly 25 percent, from 2,800 to 3,200. 

But former TLC commissioner David Yassky cautioned that most TLC drivers are safe and skilled, and that the statistics should be kept in perspective. 

“The number of collisions that a taxi or for-hire car gets into in a year is much less than a private vehicle, per mile driven," said Yassky, who supports the TLC proposal that aims to combat drowsy driving. 

<![CDATA[Top Tri-State News Photos]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 17:40:59 -0400 Read more here.]]> Read more here.]]> http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/isis-suspect-color-0524.jpg The best news images from around the tri-state.

Photo Credit: U.S. Attorney's Office ]]>
<![CDATA[Man Possibly Abducted at Gunpoint by Group: NYPD]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 02:55:34 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/van+possible+abduction.jpg

A man was possibly abducted at gunpoint by a group of men and taken away in a minivan, the NYPD said.

Police responded to a report of an assault and abduction just before 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Middletown-Pelham Bay section of the Bronx.

A news reporter told responding officers that an unknown man, in his late teens or early 20s, was seen being abducted at gunpoint on Gillespie Avenue, between La Salle and Waterbury avenues.

The reporter said the man was assaulted and then forced into a silver Chrysler Town & Country minivan by four men, according to police.

The minivan, which is believed to be a model year 2005-2007, was last seen traveling northbound on Gillespie Avenue and turning east onto Dudley Avenue.

Police said the report has weight even though no one has been reported missing.

The NYPD asks anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.

<![CDATA[Man Pushes Woman to Ground, Tries to Rape Her in Park Slope: NYPD]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 02:21:12 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/203*120/Brooklyn+attempted+rape.jpg

A man grabbed a woman on a Brooklyn street and tried to rape her before taking off in a car, police said.

The 21-year-old woman was walking on Second Street, between Seventh and Eighth avenues, in Park Slope on Sunday morning when the man came up from behind her at 4:30 a.m.

The man grabbed her and touched her genitals over her underwear. He then pushed her to the ground and pulled off her underwear.

Police said the man attempted to rape the woman but she yelled for help and fought him off.

He ran away to a dark-colored, four-door Acura and took off west down Second Street.

Police didn’t say if the woman was injured during the attempted rape.

The suspect is believed to be between 20 and 25-years-old.

The NYPD asks anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.

<![CDATA[Family Pleads for Help After Father Is Executed on NYC Street]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 00:34:25 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/family+pleads+after+man%27s+death1.jpg

A Bronx family is pleading for help finding the suspects who shot and killed a father of three as he was parked outside a corner deli.

"I hope that they catch who did it, I hope that his daughters can have closure," said Abraham Martinez, the grieving brother of Jose Ingles. "I think they need it the most." 

Ingles, 37, was shot in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx on May 4. Police say surveillance footage shows Ingles double parking his van outside of a corner deli, and a woman gets out to go to the deli. Moments later, two men come up to Ingles' vehicle, one on each side, and the suspect on the driver's side then opens fire on him. 

The two men are seen running away on foot just before the woman leaves the store and also takes off. 

Police released a sketch of a suspect in the shooting and spoke to the woman in the video, but no arrest has been made. 

Martinez recalled talking to his brother days before the murder.

"I would have always loved to have said as sincerely as I could, that 'I love you,' if I knew it was going to be the last time I was going to talk to him," he said. 

Ingles was laid to rest days after the murder. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS. 

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<![CDATA[DOJ to Seek Death Penalty in Charleston Church Shooting]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 17:38:28 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/184*120/odio1.jpg

The Department of Justice will seek the death penalty against accused church shooter Dylann Roof, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Tuesday.

Lynch said in a statement that her department came to that decision after a "rigorous review process," NBC News reports.

"The nature of the alleged crime and the resulting harm compelled this decision," she said.

Roof, 22, will stand trial for the massacre of nine people last June at the historically black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. He was charged with nine counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.

Photo Credit: Charleston County Sheriff's Office via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Queens Bank: Most Safe Deposit Boxes Weren't Breached in Weekend Robbery]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 19:06:50 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/queens+bank+hole+in+roof.jpg

Managers of a Queens bank say they expect to know by the end of the week how many safe deposit boxes were opened by thieves who cut a hole in the building's roof to pull off the heist.

"The exact number of boxes that were breached, and who they belonged to, is still being determined," Maspeth Federal Savings managers explained in a statement issued Tuesday.

"As we work with the authorities to identify the customers, we will call them to set up appointments at their earliest convenience."

The robbers, wanted in connection to possibly ten heists, cut a hole in the roof of the Rego Park bank over the weekend, police said. The theft was reported Monday morning.

The thieves apparently built a small enclosure made out of wood to shield themselves while making the hole. They also cut a hole in bank's fence to make their escape and cut the security cameras to the bank before breaching the roof, police said.

Bank management said Tuesday that most of the safe deposit boxes weren't breached.

The said they expect to gain access to the vault as soon as law enforcement completes their investigation.

"We are hopeful these investigations will be finished by the end of this week," they said.

All of the boxes are insured, they added.

"Once the customers with affected boxes have reviewed what was stolen, we plan to work with them and our insurance company to help file claims," they said.

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Quaint Bronx Neighborhood Wants to Muzzle NYPD Shooting Range]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 02:57:07 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/206*120/52416NYPDguns.JPG

When Barbara Dolensek sits on her porch to read the newspaper, she sometimes feels as though she's living in a war-torn country.

"When the bombing happens, you want to be indoors," she said. "My dogs get terrified."

Dolensek lives on City Island, a small neighborhood in the Bronx on Long Island Sound.

The explosions and gunfire she hears originate across the sound in Pelham Bay Park, where NYPD officers practice their marksmanship at a shooting range called Rodman's Neck.

"It's very unpleasant," Dolensek told NBC 4 New York. "And the guns are louder now."

She said she knows area residents who have had windows broken by the explosions. One resident fell off a ladder when it shook from a detonation, she said.

For several years, residents have asked the city to install sound barriers.

An NYPD spokesperson said renovations are planned at the gun range. Improvements will include "ballistic sidewalls" and other changes to reduce the noise.

City Council member James Vacca said the noise problem has been studied for years, yet there's no allocation in the city budget to abate the noise.

"We got zero in the budget," he said. "No money, no allocation whatsoever and I'm furious and my neighborhood is furious."

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Students Jump Out Back of Bus Seconds Before Fire Erupts]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 04:47:05 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/school+bus+fire+nj.jpg

A group of New Jersey high school students narrowly avoided being caught in a dangerous blaze when the bus they were riding to school erupted in flames. 

School bus driver Jose Rodriguez says he sensed trouble with his vehicle as the engine stalled on the road Monday. He quickly pulled over and ordered the students out. Moments later, the bus was engulfed in fire.  

"I said 'Get out, kids, get out,'" Rodriguez said Tuesday. "And within seconds, it took over." 

Rodriguez was driving around 20 students from Paramus High School when the bus started sputtering. With 20 years of experience as a bus driver and a trained mechanic, he didn't hesitate to get the students out in front of East Brook Middle School. 

"I thought it was going to blow up because there was a lot of smoke and it was right where the engine was," said Kyle Kaiser, 16. 

"Someone opened the back door and we started jumping out the back," said Stephanie Kravitz, 15. "It was kind of scary, if we didn't get off in time."

Rodriguez ran out with a fire extinguisher as the students jumped out the rear exit door. Dozens of gallons of diesel fuel added to the fire. 

"I think it could have been really dangerous," Kravitz said. "We are lucky no one got hurt." 

There are 20 grateful families along Rodriguez's bus route three miles north of Paramus High School, thankful that their children made it home safe.

The bus manager said the bus that caught fire was just inspected last week. Rodriguez was happy to be back driving his route — in a different bus — on Tuesday. 

"The kids got to the school safe. I'm not a hero, anyone could have done it," Rodriguez said. 

Photo Credit: Provided to NBC 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Cop With Mob Ties Accused of Running Prostitution Business]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 19:11:42 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/nypd4.JPG

An NYPD officer with ties to the Gambino crime family has been accused of running a high-end prostitution enterprise where escorts charged as much as $2,000 an hour for their services.

Michael Rizzi, who retired from the NYPD on disability in 2000, was arrested Tuesday on charges including promoting prostitution and money laundering after authorities tied him to 58 prostitution websites, according to a criminal complaint filed Friday.

His attorney, Javier Solano, denies the allegations.

"You will see my client was very clear this was a straight-up legitimate legal service and business," Solano said.

According to the complaint, Rizzi registered the the websites 2012 and 2013 and built them out to include 25 to 30 photos of women in various states of undress along with "donation" prices and "VIP Model" sections. He allegedly set up "booking" phone lines for people looking to hire prostitutes.

The complaint alleged that Rizzi -- who often signed emails as "Bruce" -- accepted applications from women hoping to work for him over email and set up in-person interviews at hotels.

In one instance where a woman said she didn't want to meet in person, Rizzi allegedly responded "I'm sorry darling, google 'escorts in nyc' im number one for a reason... I get the most business, my girls make the most money, my clients are the wealthiest people in the world. I will never send a model I haven't interviewed."

He added, "You will be handling cash and credit card receipts I need to know who I am working with like any other girls I hire. Been doing this 10 years never a problem."

Women who worked in Rizzi's prostitution business charged anywhere between $400 and $2,000 per hour for either services, according to the complaint. When a john requested a woman's services, Rizzi's bookers would text them with information on where they should go and what name they should go by. 

The complaint alleges that in one instance, a john hired three prostitutes for a night for $25,000, with the price including sex and cocaine. The john allegedly told investigators that he gave Rizzi's company his credit card and ID for payment. 

Rizzi is described by law enforcement sources as a Gambino crime family associate, whose wife is the niece of Gambino capo Sonny Giuliano.

According to the complaint, he pleaded guilty to promoting gambling in 2009 and paid a fine for the misdemeanor offense. 

Rizzi was arrested by Homeland Security Investigations and NYPD officers, officials said. His wife put up their Brooklyn home to bail her husband out, but he was arrested again after leaving court on gun charges. 

Solano said the gun is "probably rusted and doesn't even work."

<![CDATA[NYC Teen Locked in Fridge: 'Don't Know Who To Watch My Back From']]> Wed, 25 May 2016 00:01:07 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/208*120/51716food.jpg

A Manhattan high school student who was locked in a refrigerator by classmates told NBC 4 New York on Tuesday "I don't know who to watch my back from."

The 16-year-old boy, who asked not to be identified, was locked in the commercial fridge at Food and Finance High School on West 50th Street on May 6.

Three students were arrested after the incident, and students at the school said last week that it was a prank. But the boy who was locked in the fridge said he doesn't see it that way and that he's been ostracized since the incident.

"I feel like it's me against everybody at this point," he said. 

The boy said no teacher was in the classroom when fellow students locked him in the fridge. He said they then pounded on the door with large chef's knives and threatened to kill him.

"They're real knives," he said. "I was thinking, 'What if they opened the door and they really wanted to kill me?'" 

He added, "It was was pitch black, I just started freaking out."

After about 10 minutes, the boy said he called his mother. She in turn called the school. The boy was let out and three of the students were later arrested. 

The boy missed several days of school after the ordeal and said that he can't sleep because he fears retaliation. He also said his doctor diagnosed him with post-traumatic stress disorder and that students and teachers have mocked him.

"There are faculty that will say to me, 'Stay frosty,'" he said. "They think it's a joke. It's not a joke."

The boy's mother told NBC 4 New York she was outraged that students had access to chef's knives without supervision. She also said the Department of Education initially tried to downplay the incident, claiming students didn't have weapons because the knives are tools.

"Children were in danger if children were running around with knives and no supervision," the boy's mother said. "There was imminent danger."

The DOE again maintained that there were no weapons involved on Tuesday , however. 

"The safety and security of students and staff is our top priority. The school followed protocol in responding to an incident that was reported and the students involved were disciplined appropriately," the DOE said in a statement.

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[NYC Drivers Call Foul Over Towing Practices]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 00:01:53 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/illegal+tow+truck+tactics.jpg

I-Team cameras captured a tow truck that swooped in and moved a woman’s minivan after she parked it in a 7-Eleven in Brooklyn to go to the bathroom, pulling the vehicle away in less than 66 seconds.

“I had to go to the restroom,” said Xing Feng.

Feng is just one of the many people who have say they have fallen victim to predatory towing practices in New York City. Last year, the city received 1,400 complaints from people who felt like they were illegally towed from private parking lots.

Feng’s car was towed last week after she stopped at the convenience store on Coney Island Avenue. She said she got a coffee at the store but went across the street because it didn’t have a restaurant. She was gone for less than five minutes, but her van was gone when she came back.

She called the number on a tow sign in the lot, and the tow truck returned with her van still onboard. 

“He told me I have to pay $217, cash. He wouldn’t take a check,” said Feng.

The Custom Towing driver declined to give his name, but told the I-Team that he was charging Feng for the tow and a charge to return her car to her. He called it a "consensual tow."

The company that moved Feng’s car might have New York City’s rules about towing. Though drivers can’t leave a private lot even for a minute without facing the risk of being towed, the companies that move the cars have to follow specific rules.

For one, every tow must be authorized by the owner or the manager of the store – and it’s not clear if Custom Towing did in this case. Tow truck drivers also have to bring the car to their towing yard at a cost of $125. The city says they can’t charge extra to drive the car back.

If the driver returns to the parking lot while the tow truck is in the lot, they can only charge $65. And they have to accept at least two credit cards and provide receipts. But that’s not the experience that many people – including Feng -- said they have had.

Nick Farajian says a Custom Towing truck ruined the bumper of his brand new Lexus, which has cost him $6,000 to replace.

“He said that I wasn't parked properly, i said that's fine, give me a ticket but don't break my car," he said.

Farajian had gone inside the same 7-Eleven to buy water. He said that within minutes he walked out and saw his Lexus SUV on the end of a Custom Towing truck. He watched as the car came loose and fell in the middle of the busy street. Then, to add insult to injury, Farajian said the tow truck driver charged him $230 to have his car returned.

Vinny Torre and his wife Lemonia, were fed up with what they saw and started a Facebook page for people to share their horror stories and exchange information.

“People are getting double-charged, threatened for cash, and you see people crying for their car,” said Vinny Torre of Brooklyn, “It’s not right.”

According to the Department of Consumer Affairs which regulates tow truck companies, Custom Towing has 88 complaints on file, for practices like overcharging, demanding cash, not giving receipts, and damaging cars.

Because there are so many complaints against Custom Towing, city officials are taking action. The DCA has notified the company that their licenses will not be renewed if they cannot dispute the allegations.

"For those who don't follow the rules,” explained acting DCA commissioner Alba Pico, “it's a way for them to make quick money and take advantage of consumers."

Custom Towing and 7-Eleven both declined to comment to NBC 4 New York.

If you feel like you’ve been improperly towed, you can call 311 or file a complaint online with the department of consumer affairs. It’s important to keep all your receipts if you have them. Consumer affairs can try to get you your money back.

<![CDATA[3 Stabbed in Long Island Park Day After Machete Attack: PD]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 04:25:11 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/li+park+stabbing+2.jpg

Three teenagers were stabbed in a Long Island park on Tuesday evening, not far from Monday's bloody ambush in another park that left three more teens injured, according to police.

The Rev. Days basketball court at Morgan Days Park in suburban Rockville Centre was blocked off with crime scene tape Tuesday night, hours after the three 19-years-olds were stabbed at 6:28 p.m., Nassau County police said. 

Just before the stabbing, a bald man in his 20s with tattoos on his arms walked up to the three victims as they played basketball on the court, police said. The man pulled a ski mask over his face and then tried to fight one of the victims. When the other two came over to help their friend, the bald man pulled out a black and silver-colored knife and stabbed all of them. 

The three 19-year-olds were taken to South Nassau Communities Hospital following the stabbing. Police said their injuries were non-life-threatening. 

The motive behind the attack was not known. 

But Tuesday's stabbing was less than two miles away from a stabbing in a Hempstead park only a day before. Three teens were stabbed, one of them critically, by a gang of youths armed with a knife and machete in that attack. 

A law enforcement source said there were at least six attackers Monday and all were believed to be members of the MS-13 gang.

It's unclear if the two stabbings are related, but with two incidents in just as many days, residents here are worried. 

"I'm shocked that something like this could occur," one man said. "This violence is getting out of hand and people need to put a stop to it."

Both of the parks are places where kids and teens go to have fun and play recreational sports, especially as the weather warms up. But for the second day in a row child's play has turned to violence. 

There has been no word of arrests in either stabbing. 

<![CDATA[NYC Man Accused of Trying to Join ISIS]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 22:45:24 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/EXCLUSIVE+ISIS+ARREST+PHOTOS+WITH+WATERMARK+052416+-+01000819_W.jpg

A Bronx man was arrested early Tuesday after he allegedly tried to join ISIS and later helped an undercover informant who he thought was trying to join the terrorist organization, according to a criminal complaint.

Sajmir Alimehmeti, 22, was arrested in the Bronx by the Joint Terrorism Task Force and is charged with providing material support to a terrorist organization, according to a complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

"Alimehmeti is charged today with actions that show a clear intention to support a terrorist organization that is hell-bent on murder and mayhem," said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

According to the complaint, he tried to travel to the Middle East to join ISIS on two occassions in 2014 but was blocked each time by British authorities. Then, this year, he allegedly tried to help an undercover informant who claimed to be attempting to join the organization. 

The complaint alleges that Alimehmeti first traveled to the United Kingdom in October of 2014 in an attempt to continue on to the Middle East but was denied entry to the country when British authorities at Manchester Airport found nunchucks and camouflage clothing in his luggage.

He tried again that December, according to the complaint, and was again stopped in the United Kingdom after British authorities at Heathrow Airport in London found images of ISIS and improvised explosive devices on his cellphone.

"As alleged, Alimehmeti continued his quest to support ISIL’s deadly terrorist agenda, after being denied entry into Europe with a bag full of military gear," said NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton. "When he returned home, to the Bronx, he allegedly turned to helping others join the terrorist organization as he built his own arsenal of weapons."

Alerted by UK authorities, the FBI went to work, introducing Alimehmeti to undercover law enforcement informants who posed as ISIS recruits interested in traveling to Syria, according to court papers.

A year after the second attempt, Alimehmeti tried to get a new passport and claimed he had lost his old one, according to the complaint. But he allegedly told undercover agents that he already had $2,500 to travel to Syria but needed to get a new passport in a different name because his had rejection stamps from the United Kingdom and was "already in the system."

Late last year and earlier this year, Alimehmeti began communicating with undercover agents, according to the complaint. When meeting with the agents, the man allegedly expressed interest in joining ISIS, telling one who he thought was set to head overseas, "I'm ready f---ing go with you, man...You know I would... I'm done with this place."

He then bought that informant a phone to be used overseas and allegedly talked about "apps" that would encrypt his communications. He also bought two informants boots to use while fighting with ISIS at a sporting-goods store in Manhattan. The complaint also alleges that Alimehmeti also took one of the agents to John F. Kennedy Airport so the agent could fly to join ISIS.

According to the complaint, Alimehmeti played two ISIS-produced music videos that depicted prisoners being beheaded for the undercover agents. He allegedly told the agents that the videos helped him stay motivated while exercising.

Photos from the complaint show him posing in his Bronx apartment with what appears to be an ISIS flag. He also allegedly bought knives, steel-knuckled gloves, a pocket chainsaw, handcuffs and masks, and had MP3 files containing lectures by former al-Qaida official Anwar al-Awlaki.

The court papers said Alimehmeti told the undercover contacts he and his brother "had our own plan" to travel from Albania to Syria but that his brother had been arrested in Albania.

In a footnote, the FBI said in court papers that Alimehmeti's brother was arrested on weapons and assault charges in Albania last August.

At his initial court appearance Tuesday, Alimehmeti, who's also facing fraud-related charges, remained silent and stared at his feet as his team of public defense lawyers asked the judge to set bail at $200,000.

Defense lawyers Sylvie Levine and Sabrina Shroff insisted that Alimehmeti wasn't being charged for criminal action, but instead "conversation that was consistently prompted by undercover law enforcement."

But prosecutor Brendan Quigley said Alimehmeti's "repeated support for ISIS shows that he's both a flight risk and a risk to the safety of the public." 

He also pointed to Alimehmeti's past arrests dating back to 2010, including robbery, assault, forcible touching and public lewdness. Alimehmeti has served probation and a year in jail for the crimes. 

The judge, Gabriel Gorenstein, acknowledged the defense attorneys' claims that Alimehmeti was being charged without ever acting on his intentions, but said that “those aren’t the charges,” and that his willingness to join and support a known terror organization was enough to keep him locked away.

Alimehmeti is scheduled to appear again in court on June 7. 

More than a half dozen individuals have been arrested since mid-2015 by the task force in New York and New Jersey on similar charges.

The investigation was conducted by the Joint Terrorism Task Force, comprised largely of FBI agents and NYPD detectives, and the NYPD's Intelligence Division.

Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY
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<![CDATA[Man Wrestles Gun Away from Robber, Shoots Him: NYPD]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 18:32:14 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/robbery+victim+fights+back.jpg

A Bronx man fought back when an armed man tried to rob him, wrestling the gun away from his attacker and shooting him, police say. 

The gunman tried to rob the 22-year-old victim at home on East 220th Street in Williamsbridge Tuesday afternoon, according to police. There was some sort of struggle, and the victim managed to the gun away from the robber.

He then shot the robber, also 22, police said. 

The shot robber was taken to Jacobi Hospital. It's not clear if he and the victim knew each other. 

Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY/Carolina]]>
<![CDATA[Crews Respond to Gas Main Break in New Jersey]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 18:14:32 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/gas-main-break-0524.jpg

Emergency crews responded to a gas main break in New Jersey Tuesday afternoon.

The gas main rupture was reported at about 5:15 p.m. in Paterson, according to authorities. 

Chopper 4 footage showed crews working near the scene at Memorial Drive and Broadway. Crews appear to be burning off excess gas at the scene of the rupture.

No injuries have been reported, and it doesn't appear that any businesses were damaged.

It's not clear what caused the break. 

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[American ISIS Defector's Unsealed Case Details Escape]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 18:07:57 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/IS-AP_539830332381.jpg

A judge has unsealed the case against an American ISIS defector whose identity is still hidden, NBC News reported.

The 27-year-old former Columbia University student, who is identified as Mo, spoke with NBC News last week — with the permission of prosecutors — about why he signed up with the terror group, the violence he saw and his desperate escape. Prosecutors acquiesced to revealing the defector's information after the interview.

Among other things, the case file details Mo's initial contact with the FBI in 2014. He told the FBI, "I just want to get back home. All I want is this extraction, complete exoneration thereafter and have everything back to normal with me and my family…Please help me get back home."

FBI officials have told NBC News that Mo pleaded guilty to two terrorism charges that carry between 10 and 25 years in prison — though he could get less because of his ongoing cooperation.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Teens Escorted to Prom in State Trooper Car]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 05:13:09 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/teenprom.jpg

An accident on the road to prom could have spelled disaster for two New Jersey high school seniors, but the two troopers who responded to the scene stepped in to get the boys to the dance in time. 

Edward Fengya and Reno D’Agostini, students at MATES-Ocean County Vocational Technical School, were headed to prom in a car borrowed from Fengya's mom on Friday, May 6 when they got into an accident, according to New Jersey State Police. The car careened off the Garden State Parkway, hit a utility pole and became disabled.

Troopers Chris Jones and Charles Garrison responded to the crash, along with Fegya’s mom. The teens were a bit shaken up, according to the troopers, but neither was injured. 

But they still needed to find a way to get to prom. 

Jones stepped up and offered to take the teens to prom in their trooper car. 

After pulling up to the yacht club on Long Beach Island, Jones walked up to the door with Genfya and D'Agostini and jokingly asked the chaperone, "Hey, do these two belong to you?"

Jones shook the teens’ hands, and the students entered the prom safely and with a new experience to talk about.

New Jersey State Police said the boys' mothers were "quite impressed" with the troopers, and added, "So are we." 

Photo Credit: Alison Carroll]]>
<![CDATA[Students Honored for Anti-Bullying Campaigns]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 19:14:38 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/School-Bus-AP_090807039970.jpg

More than 600 students from New York City, New Jersey, Long Island and Westchester were recognized at an Anti-Defamation League ceremony Tuesday for combating bullying in public schools. 

The "No Place for Hate ceremony" was held at NYU's Skirball Center for Performing Arts and recognized students who have started LGBT groups and other initiatives. 

Other students were honored for starting social media campaigns, including Instagram accounts, to further the discussion of diversity.

Griffin Cubero credits the campaign with helping her fit as transgender at Queens High School for Sciences

"Without No Place for Hate I don't think that community would have existed for me and I don't know if I would have had the courage to come out," she said. "I don't know if I would have had the courage to transition. I just really don't think I would be here today."

Many campaigns involve social media.

"When it's student-led, it seems to have a ripple effect," said Artis Jordan, a teacher at Freehold Township High School in New Jersey.

<![CDATA[1 WTC Observation Deck Celebrates 1st Anniversary]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 16:51:09 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/WTC_thumbnail-sn.jpg The One World Trade Center observation deck opened one year ago Tuesday. ]]> <![CDATA[Neighbors Ask Town to Crack Down on Rutgers Students' Party-House]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 05:01:05 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/197*120/52416partygoers.JPG

A weekend graduation party at a house on the edge of Rutgers campus has neighbors riled about behavior better suited for a remake of "Animal House."

Piscataway Mayor Brian Wahler told News 4 New York that the city is looking into the complaints and whether the property owner has allowed numerous rowdy parties at the house.

"I hope they have a very good attorney," the mayor quipped.

Neighbors say the parties are loud and attract large numbers of people. Neighboring lawns are used as restrooms, they said.

"These are outdoor, illegal, open-invitation concerts that are promoted via social media," said John Urbaniak, who lives in the neighborhood.

The mayor noted that as Rutgers grows, more and more homes are being rented to students. And investors see student rentals as lucrative arrangements, he said.

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Family Health Care Costs Have Tripled Since '01: Analysis]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 16:44:53 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/160*120/HEALTH_GettyImages-544488581.jpg

The costs of providing health care to an average American family surpassed $25,000 for the first time in 2016 — even as the rate of health cost increases slowed to a record low, a new analysis revealed Tuesday.

CNBC reports that the $25,826 in health-care costs for a typical family of four covered by an employer-sponsored "preferred provider plan" is $1,155 higher than last year, and triple what it cost to provide health care for the same family in 2001, the first year that Milliman Medical Index analysis was done.

And it's the 11th consecutive year that the total dollar increase in the average family's health-care costs exceeded $1,110, the actuarial services firm noted in releasing the index.

A significant cost driver identified by the index was the rapid growth in what health plans and insured people are paying for prescription drugs.

Photo Credit: Caiaimage/Chris Cross via Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Long Island Town Sees 2nd Water Main Break in a Week]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 17:32:59 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/oceanside+water+main+break+5+24.jpg

A Long Island town is cleaning up after its second water main in about a week. 

American Water says an eight-inch cast iron main broke at Lawrence and Virginia avenues in Oceanside, flooding streets in the neighborhood.

The water main break is contained, and crews are now working to clear water from the road. 

Fifteen homes are without water, but they haven't been evacuated or damaged, the utility says. Bottled water is being offered to families without working water in the meantime.  

It's not clear what caused the main, which is about 60 years old, to break. It does not pose any health risks to residents, American Water says. 

Last Monday, a water main break in a different section of Oceanside forced evacuations as water rushed the street. One homeowner had to be rescued in a raft, and her family's home was damaged. 

<![CDATA[Flatbush Zombies Rapper Ticketed for Smoking Marijuana in Manhattan]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 15:08:52 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/flatbush+zombies.jpg

A musician from the Brooklyn-based rap group Flatbush Zombies was cuffed and ticketed for smoking marijuana in Manhattan on Monday, police said.

Demetri Simms, 26, who goes by the stage name "Meechy Darko," was allegedly seen by officers smoking a lit marijuana joint near Spring and Mott streets at about 4:15 p.m.

Simms was arrested, charged with criminal possession of marijuana, unlawful possession of marijuana and given a desk appearance ticket, police said.

The Flatbush Zombies are an independent hip-hop group who recently released their debut album, "3001: A Laced Odyssey."

The group, backed by house band The Roots, performed the song "Bounce" on "The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon" on Friday.

A publicist for the group refused to comment.

Photo Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP]]>
<![CDATA[How Well Can You Spell? National Spelling Bee Knockout Words]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 13:24:25 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_854384059073.jpg

Stichomythia. Guetapens. Laodicean. 

Those hard-to-pronounce words have also spelled victory for some of the country's most lexical students: champions of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. 

But for the rest of the 200-plus students who participate in the spell-fest each year, the highfalutin vocabulary words prove more vexing. See with this quiz if you could have outspelled the studious contestants who made it to the finalist round. All the words featured in the quiz knocked out participants in recent years. 

And for those who want to continue to play along from home, this year's competition will take place from May 24 to May 26 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. 

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Thief Stole Shoes From Praying Man at NYC Mosque: Police]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 13:22:55 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Mosque+Shoe+Stealer.jpg

A thief snuck into a Brooklyn mosque while a man was praying and stole his shoes, police said.

The victim was praying inside the mosque on State Street near Clinton Street at about 5:45 p.m. on May 10 when his shoes were stolen, authorities said. 

The suspect is described as an adult man. He is still at large, police said.

Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS. 

Photo Credit: NYPD]]>
<![CDATA[Boy, 7, May Have Been Among 6 Who Stabbed 3 Teens: Source]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 18:00:43 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/stabbing-ny-hempstead-0524.jpg

One of the six attackers who stabbed three teenagers at a Long Island park Monday afternoon might have been as young as 7 years old, a law enforcement source told NBC 4 New York. 

The child was among the suspected gang members, some of whom might have also been Hempstead High School students, who attacked the teens with a machete and knife at Hempstead Lake State Park on Monday afternoon, officials said.

A group of teens who were attacked were walking on a trail alongside softball and lacrosse fields at Hempstead Lake State Park when they were set on by the suspects, thought to be members of the violent MS-13 street gang, according to sources.

Three teens were stabbed multiple times; one victim was critically injured. School officials said that at least one of the teens was a Hempstead High School student.

The suspects fled afterward, and there haven't been any reports of arrests.

The Hempstead Union Free School District said Tuesday it was ramping up security at the high school after the attack.

"As a precaution, the school district has indefinitely beefed up its security presence in and around the high school and is offering special guidance and grief counseling to students who may have known any of the victims," the district said in a statement. 

The suspects fled the area. There weren't any reports of arrests.

The park frequently hosts recreational youth leagues, and one softball coach arrived Monday to find the area swarmed by police.

But NBC 4 New York learned Tuesday that there were no state parks police at the park at the time of the attack. The department's police union said that officers had been diverted to Jones Beach for an incident there.

"We have warned the state about under-staffing for many years," the union said in a statement. "If the 2 officers had been at Hempstead state park this would likely not have happened."

A spokesman for New York State Parks said state park police are investigating the stabbings, with help from state police and local police. He added that state park police have increased patrols at Hempstead Lake State Park. 

<![CDATA[TSA Replaces Head of Security as Airport Lines Grow]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 22:34:53 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-74969380.jpg

The Transportation Security Administration on Monday replaced its head of security and created a centralized incident command team, moving dramatically to address the issue of long airport lines.

Kelly Hoggan, the agency's assistant administrator for security operations since 2013, will be replaced by Darby LaJoye, TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger said in an internal memo obtained by NBC News.

LaJoye, a deputy assistant TSA administrator, was previously a top security official at two of the world's busiest airports: Los Angeles International Airport and JFK in New York.

Hoggan, who has been the focus of congressional inquiries into staffing and pay decisions, was reassigned to new duties, Neffenger said.

The appointment is part of a series of moves that Neffenger has taken since hundreds of passengers were stranded in security lines as their planes took off at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport earlier this month.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Off-Duty NYPD Cop Crashes into Car on L.I.E, Killing 2: Sources]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 20:01:52 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/52416crashed.JPG

Two people were killed when they got out of their disabled car on the Long Island Expressway and were hit by an SUV driven by an off-duty NYPD officer, police said Tuesday.

A 20-year-old man and 18-year-old woman died in the accident, which occurred at about 11 p.m. Monday in Old Westbury, Nassau County police said. The identities of the victims haven't been disclosed by police.

Two passengers inside the disabled BMW were injured, as well as the driver of the SUV, investigators said. Information about the extent of their injuries wasn't available.

Nassau Police said the BMW was going westbound on the L.I.E. when it hit a guardrail and was thrown across the lanes into the other side and slammed into a divider.

The car became disabled and its lights shut down, police said. All four occupants of the car got out, and as they were standing outside the vehicle, a 2016 GMC Yukon came around the curve, going westbound in the high-occupancy-vehicle lane.

It slammed into the BMW, as well as the driver of the vehicle, who was from Queens, and the 18-year-old passenger, who was visiting from upstate, police said. 

The other two passengers of the vehicle, as well as the driver of the SUV, had minor injuries. 

The highway was closed for four hours as police investigated. 

Law enforcement sources said the GMC driver is an off-duty NYPD patrolman who's been on the job since 2005. 

No charges have been filed in connection with the crash. The sources said no criminality was involved. 

Jonathan Dienst contributed to this report. 

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[2 FBI Agents Shot, Suspect Dead]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 14:59:08 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Park+Forest+Final.png

Two FBI agents were shot Tuesday morning while attempting to serve a warrant to a man who was later found dead in his south suburban Chicago home.

The Cook County medical examiner's office identified the suspect as 50-year-old Melvin Toran. Court records show Toran had a long criminal history, including a conviction for murder in 1986.

He was paroled from prison on Feb. 18, 2013, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections.

SWAT teams were seen swarming Toran's home on Rich Court in Park Forest around 8:30 a.m. Multiple neighbors told NBC 5 they noticed the police activity as early as 6 a.m.

FBI special agent Garrett H. Croon said two agents suffered non-life threatening gunshot wounds during the attempted arrest of Toran, who was later found dead in his home. 

The commotion caused Park Forest-Chicago Heights School District 163 to delay their start time until 9:15 a.m., temporarily requesting parents to keep their children indoors and home from school while the FBI activity was ongoing.

One neighbor seemed surprised to find that Toran was a wanted man, saying that he "seemed nice" and had always been seen walking his dog.

Toran was a high-ranking gang member, according to the Chicago Tribune. The FBI was reportedly trying to arrest him on narcotics trafficking charges after Toran allegedly sold heroin to an undercover agent.

Toran's manner of death has not been released.

Photo Credit: Illinois Department of Corrections
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