<![CDATA[NBC New York - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com en-us Tue, 03 Mar 2015 18:00:31 -0500 Tue, 03 Mar 2015 18:00:31 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Man Arrested in 2013 Beating Death of Transgender Woman]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 16:48:21 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/islan+nettles+death.jpg

A 24-year-old man has been arrested in the 2013 beating of a transgender woman who was attacked by a group of men in Harlem and died several days later.

James Dixon, of Brooklyn, faces manslaughter and felony assault charges in the Aug. 17, 2013 attack on 21-year-old Islan Nettles, who died of blunt impact injuries to the head five days later.

Nettles, who also went by Vaughn Nettles and Alon Nettles, was out that night with a friend, another transgender woman, when they met a group of men near 148th Street and Eighth Avenue, according to police.

The two groups began arguing, apparently after the men realized the victims were transgender, police said. One man made anti-gay remarks and a physical altercation ensued.

The victim was punched in the face and lapsed into a coma, police said. She spent several days on a ventilator before she died.

Hundreds rallied to denounce hate crimes against the gay and transgender communities after her death.

Nettles' mother, Delores Nettles, thanked supporters out one of the Harlem rallies and said, "I'm going to make sure this doesn't happen again."

It wasn't immediately clear if Dixon had an attorney.  

<![CDATA[Man Charged After Truck Sinks in Frozen River With Dog Inside]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 16:22:50 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/mayer+mug+inset.jpg

The man whose pickup truck cracked through the ice on a frozen New Jersey river and sank with his 2-year-old dog in the backseat, prompting an intensive multi-agency search, has been charged with criminal mischief and careless driving, New Jersey State Police said Tuesday.

Andrew Mayer, 27, is expected to face animal cruelty charges pending the outcome of an SPCA investigation, police said. 

Mayer allegedly drove out onto the frozen Toms River around 12:15 a.m. Sunday and started doing donuts. The truck's headlights and brake lights were visible from the shoreline at first; then they disappeared. The man's dog, Rollo, was trapped in the backseat of the truck when it went under.

By the time responders found the submerged vehicle, 10 hours later and 100 feet from shore, the young boxer mix was dead. A friend of Mayer who asked that NBC 4 New York not use his name said Mayer tried to get the dog out of the backseat before the truck crashed through the ice, but the dog was terrified -- and the vehicle sank so quickly.

"He would do anything for that dog, anything," the friend said. "That was his baby."

Mayer, who rents the basement of a home with his friend Daniel Joly, declined to talk to NBC 4 New York Monday. Police said Joly, who was a passenger in the truck at one point, told investigators he argued with Mayer about driving on the frozen river and got out of the vehicle.

Area police and firefighters searched for the truck and were joined by a helicopters dispatched by the Coast Guard and the New Jersey State Police. The multi-agency search cost "hundreds of thousands of dollars," a police source estimated.

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

Photo Credit: U.S. Coast Guard/Handout/NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Confession Out in Teacher Killing]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 17:55:54 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/tlmd_chism_maestra_colleen_ritze.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: FILE]]>
<![CDATA[LA Protesters March on Police HQ]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 17:30:48 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/03-03-2015-skid-row-99+%283%29.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At least five rounds were fired, police said.

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Toni Guinyard, KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[New Map Breaks Down Rent Affordability by Neighborhood]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 17:31:06 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/nyFrozenAerials-new-AP434501586867.jpg

New Yorkers are spending more and more of their paychecks on rent, with the city ranking far above most others in the U.S. when it comes to rent-to-income ratios, according to a new report.

Swelling rents, stagnant income growth and a limited number of rental units mean those living in the city will spend nearly 60 percent of their annual income on rent this year, a report by real estate website StreetEasy.com has found.

The city’s median asking rent is expected to reach $2,700 this year, but incomes can’t keep up — rent prices grew at almost twice the pace of income between 2000 and 2013, according to census data.

Rent affordability is often neighborhood specific, so StreetEasy.com analyzed affordability across the city’s five boroughs by measuring each neighborhood’s rent-to-income ratio, or how much of a household’s monthly income in that neighborhood goes to rent.

The lower an area’s rent-to-income ratio, the more affordable it's considered. So if a neighborhood’s rent-to-income ratio is 15 percent, that means people living there are spending 15 percent of their income on rent and the rest on living and savings. A rent-to-income ratio of 30 percent or lower is considered “affordable,” according to the report.

The rent load is worst in Brooklyn, where new renters can expect to spend 60 percent of their income on rent this year. The Bronx isn’t far behind at 52 percent, followed by Manhattan (48.8 percent), Queens (41.4 percent) and Staten Island (30.1 percent). StreetEasy created an interactive map that shows each neighborhood's rent-to-income ratio (below).

NYC has one of the most expensive rental markets in the country, and it’s no wonder. People flock to the city for its cultural amenities — but the rental vacancy is just 3.45 percent, meaning potential tenants have to fight each other for a place to live. This pushes up rents even higher, as landlords raise their asking prices.

The report found that the least affordable neighborhoods in the city are Manhattanville, with a rent-to-income ratio of 120.9 percent, Little Italy (109.7 percent) and Chinatown (107.2 percent).

Those findings don’t tell the whole story though, as high rents don’t necessarily equate to a high rent-to-income ratio. The study found that the highest rent-to-income ratios were often in gentrified neighborhoods, such as Harlem, Williamsburg and Bushwick, where the most cash-strapped residents face skyrocketing rental prices.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Isla Vista Families Sue Sheriff]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 17:43:11 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/180*120/vigils+isla+vista+493689285_10+%289%29.jpg

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

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

The victims' families are suing the the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department for negligence over the fact that deputies didn't search his apartment during an April 30, 2014, wellness check after being flagged by a health worker about a series of disturbing YouTube videos posted by Rodger.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Capri declined to comment to NBC4.

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

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

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[PHOTO: Car Smashes Through Cluck-U Restaurant in NJ]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 15:44:01 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/cluck+u.jpg

A car smashed through the storefront of a Cluck-U in a New Jersey strip mall Tuesday, scattering debris, shattered glass and broken chair pieces around the eatery and marking the second time in six years a vehicle has careened into the restaurant, authorities say.

Police say the vehicle, driven by a 71-year-old woman from Holmdel, plowed through the Cluck-U on Water Street in Red Bank shortly after noon.

A 37-year-old customer hurt his leg and an employee reported a hand injury, but both refused medical treatment at the scene, police said. It wasn't clear if the driver was taken to the hospital. 

No summonses have been issued, and the investigation is ongoing. 

In 2009, a Red Bank man was injured when his SUV crashed through the same shop. Last year, a car smashed into a sandwich store in the strip mall.

Owner Andrew Ilvento told The Two River Times, which has an office around the corner, that Tuesday's accident was the worst of the three.  

The building has been deemed structurally sound, police said, but the business will remain closed until repairs can be made. 

Photo Credit: The Two River Times]]>
<![CDATA[Window Washer Falls, Dies in Manhattan: NYPD]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 15:23:11 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/tribeca+window+washer+fall.jpg

A window washer who fell while cleaning a building in Tribeca has died at the hospital, police say.

The man fell from the building at Greenwich and Jay streets Tuesday afternoon and taken to NY Hospital Downtown, where he was pronounced dead. 

It's not clear how the window washer fell. 

<![CDATA[Plague-Carrying Flea Found on NYC Rats: Study]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 16:07:00 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/101214rats.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Domino's Worker Allegedly Used Cell to Record Employees in Bathroom]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 13:11:58 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Jonathan+Parra.jpg

A 19-year-old Long Island man has been arrested for allegedly recording at least two people using the employee restroom at the Domino's Pizza where he worked.

Jonathan Parra, of Uniondale, was charged Tuesday will unlawful surveillance.

Authorities allege he recorded a 20-year-old woman and a 51-year-old man separately using the restroom. The woman saw a cellphone sticking out of Parra's jacket pocket, which was hanging on a coat rack in the room, and told her manager.

The manager called police.

It wasn't clear if Parra had an attorney.

Photo Credit: Handout]]>
<![CDATA[Man Found Hiding in JetBlue Cockpit at JFK]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 17:52:55 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/jetblue+generic1.jpg

A flight passenger was found hiding inside the cockpit of a JetBlue airplane that landed in New York from the Dominican Republic early Tuesday after everyone else had gotten off the plane, authorities say.

The JetBlue ground crew found the 26-year-old New Jersey man hiding in the cockpit after the flight landed just before 2 a.m., according to the Port Authority. He was sitting by the window in the cockpit. 

The man was a passenger who failed to exit the plane after it landed, according to JetBlue. 

While he was being taken off the plane, the man opened an alarm door but he never made it through or got away from the airline workers escorting him off, authorities said. 

The man, who lives in Atlantic City, allegedly told the crew that a group of people was looking to "jump" him. 

He was taken to Jamaica Hospital for observation, then arrested and charged with trespassing. 

It wasn't clear how the man got into the cockpit unnoticed. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Brooklyn Teacher Accused of Attacking Student]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 14:42:13 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/HandCuffsGeneric_0727.jpg

A New York City teacher has been pulled from the classroom after he allegedly assaulted a student, officials say.

Sakeem Nelbett, a teacher at Middle School for Marketing and Legal Studies in Brooklyn, is charged with assault and acting in a manner injurious to a child, according to the NYPD.

The details of the assault aren't clear, but the city Department of Education has pulled Nelbett from the classroom.

“This alleged behavior is reprehensible,” said DOE spokeswoman Devora Kaye. “Mr. Nelbett has been removed from the classroom, and will remain far away from our students and schools."

Attorney information for Nelbett wasn't immediately available.

<![CDATA[The Top 10 Scams in NYC]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 15:19:35 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Summer-Scams-generic.jpg

As street savvy as most New Yorkers are, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a wealth of scammers trying to take advantage of those who work or live in the Big Apple.

From phone scams and fake job offers to faux kidnappings and tow-away schemes, the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs deals with about 21,000 complaints from consumers about cons, grifts and shady practices.

“Scams are ever-evolving as criminals prey and take advantage of consumers so remember the age-old adage -- if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” said DCA commissioner Julie Menin.

So with that in mind, the city says these are the top 10 scams every New Yorker should look out for:

1. Employment Agency Scams: Job offer sounds like it’s too good to be true? If someone purporting to be from an employment agency tries to charge you fees, then it probably is. The DCA says that scammers will take advantage of people looking for work by advertising jobs that don’t actually exist and will guarantee a job offer too early in the process. They may charge upfront fees or make you pay for training in order to get the job. To avoid being caught in the scam, only apply for jobs through licensed employment agencies and file complaints with 311 if you think you’re becoming the victim of a scam.

2. Towing Scams: While towing companies can hook your car if you park in a lot that is for customers only, they can’t pull it away and try to make you pay more than the city-mandated $62.50 to unhook the car in the lot or the $125 towing and storage fee if it’s pulled to the lot. The DCA says that some companies have been known to tow cars before a driver leaves a lot or have pulled a car around the corner to get people to pay above the legal towing rates.

3. Immigration Assistance Scams: If you need legal advice on immigration, the city says you should only go to an attorney or someone who works for an organization recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals. Notaries can’t give legal advice or draft legal papers.

4. Predatory Schools: New Yorkers looking into higher education should also be on the lookout for for-profit schools that aggressively recruit students for everything from air conditioning repair to cosmetology. They urge prospective students to do research about schools and get their class cancellation policies in writing.

5. Electronic Store Scams: Some electronics stores in the city have been known to try to pass off used or refurbished electronics as new, or try to sell extra warranties that may not be needed with a manufacturer’s original warranty. The city DCA urges shoppers to do research before buying a new gadget, and should make sure to go to electronics shops that have licenses.

6. Parking Ticket Scams:
Got an email that has an attachment and says it is from the Department of Finance? Don’t open it. Scammers have been sending emails purporting to contain attachments about parking tickets, but actually contain malware that can steal important information or lock your computer and require you to pay a fee. The city says you should delete emails that say they’re pertaining to city parking tickets.

7. ATM Skimmers: If you’re trying to withdraw cash from the ATM, keep an eye out for cameras and fake PIN pads. Thieves have been known to install skimmers on ATM machines that read your card’s information. Then, they use a hidden camera or false number pad to steal your PIN.

8. Phone Scams: If a caller pretends to be from a utility company, the IRS or a kidnapped family member, and then asks for payment from a Green Dot prepaid debit card, you’re being scammed, the city says. In another common scam making the rounds this tax season, callers will pose as IRS workers and will try to coax personal information out of you. In both cases, the city says you should hang up and avoid transferring money or giving away personal information.

9. Grandparent Scams: Older New Yorkers should be on the lookout for calls and emails in the middle of the night about their grandchildren being in dangers. Con artists pretend to be everything from gang members to hostage-takers to scare people into paying thousands of dollars. Police have urged potential victims to get in touch with their family members if they think they’re being scammed.

10. Rental Listing Scams: Finding the perfect apartment in New York City is already hard enough without con artists claiming to be real estate agents. The city says renters should be wary of renters who ask for payment before showing you an apartment or ask you to wire money in exchange for keys. 

<![CDATA[Icy Rain, Snow to Dog Tri-State for Next Few Days]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 17:13:38 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/snow+rain.jpg

The first of several rounds of freezing, wet weather expected to nag the tri-state area over the next few days, making travel cumbersome on roads and sidewalks, swirled into the region Tuesday afternoon, pelting midtown with freckle-sized snowflakes that moved sideways at times in the wind.

The precipitation is expected to change to an icy rain mix before midnight, Storm Team 4 says. It will be a quick-moving storm but could leave behind up to 5 inches of snow north of the city that will make roads slippery. The city and areas south could see 1 to 3 inches.

The accumulation comes on top of lingering snow and slush from Sunday's storm that froze amid plummeting temperatures Tuesday.

Wednesday will see cloudy skies and light rain showers. Alternate side parking is suspended. A bit more snow will arrive on Thursday, potentially mucking up commutes along the coasts of New York and New Jersey.

Less than a week into March, New York City has already seen 4.8 inches of snow, well above the average 3.6 inches that typically fall in Central Park for the month.

The snowiest March in the city was in 1896, when 30.5 inches fell in Central Park. The fifth snowiest March was in 1960, when 18.5 inches fell. Central Park would need to see another 14 inches this month to get March 2015 into the record books for the top five snowiest months of March, and with more snow on the way, the possibility is not out of the question, according to Storm Team 4.

The city is already substantially ahead of its average snow totals for the winter season. On average, Storm Team 4 says 21.5 inches of snow fall in Central Park over the course of the winter. This winter, 33.2 inches have fallen.  

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Burglar Stabs Homeowner in Thigh With Screwdriver: Cops]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 12:28:09 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/brick+nj+burglary.jpg

A screwdriver-wielding burglar wanted in an attack on a New Jersey homeowner is believed to be the same man who broke into two other homes nearby on the same day, police say. 

Surveillance video of the attack in Brick Township shows the suspect walking on the 56-year-old homeowner's property on Stephan Road before he encountered the homeowner, Jerry Flynn.

Flynn told NBC 4 New York Monday he returned home to see the suspect hiding in the bushes after he'd apparently broken in. 

"He tried to get off the property," he said. "I did my best to try to keep him from getting off the property," including getting into a fistfight with the suspect. 

The video shows Flynn chasing the suspect up and down the street, but when the man allegedly plunged a screwdriver into his thigh, Flynn said he knew it was time to back off.

Still, Flynn got into his truck to chase his attacker for several miles before he eventually lost him. 

Brick Township police believe the burglar also struck two other homes, including one on Burnt Tavern Road. 

According to Brick Police Chief Nils Bergquist, it's highly unusual for a burglar to strike three homes in the middle of the day on a weekend when people are likely to be home, and it's even more bizarre for one to attack a homeowner.

Flynn is recovering from his injury.

"It's a big puncture wound, and it hurts," he said. 

But he doesn't think the suspect got away unscathed, either.

"Let's just say he won't be brushing his teeth for awhile," he said. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact police. 

<![CDATA[Engineer in Los Angeles Train-Truck Collision Dies]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 16:12:25 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/3-3-15-Glenn+Steele+Metrolink+Engineer.jpg

A train engineer who was hospitalized after a Southern California commuter train derailed when it slammed into a truck on the tracks has died in the hospital, police said Tuesday.

The death of train engineer Glenn William Steele, 62, marks the first fatality in the Feb. 24 crash in which a Metrolink train struck a Ford F-450 truck, towing a trailer, on the Ventura County Line tracks and derailed, injuring 28.

"We are deeply saddened by the news," Oxnard Police Cmdr. Marty Meyer said in a statement. "And, we are concerned for those still recovering from this collision and their families."

The Metrolink train bound for Los Angeles struck the heavy duty pickup truck and trailer as it straddled the tracks. Three of the train's five cars toppled over.

Metrolink said in a statement that Steele, who was an employee of Amtrak, worked in the rail industry for over 40 years and was the longest tenured engineer among Metrolink operators.

"The entire Metrolink family is deeply saddened by the loss of this dedicated and hardworking railroader," said Sam Joumblat, Metrolink's interim CEO. "Everyone associated with Metrolink extends our most heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and co-workers. Our thoughts and prayers are with them all."

The driver who abandoned the pickup truck before it was hit by the train, 54-year-old Jose Alejandro Sanchez-Ramirez, will not face charges in the crash at this time, according to the Ventura County District Attorney's office.

His attorney said Sanchez-Ramirez accidentally drove onto the tracks and made the situation worse by continuing forward in an attempt to gather enough momentum to get the wide pickup over the rails. He also used his high-beam headlights in an effort to warn the oncoming Metrolink train.

Sanchez-Ramirez could not back up because his truck was towing a trailer, attorney Ron Bamieh said. When his efforts to move the truck failed, he ran for help, Bamieh said.

But federal investigators who arrived in Oxnard last week said the truck was not stuck on the tracks in the sense that it had bottomed out at the crossing. Investigators have not ruled out that the truck was somehow stranded and will attempt to determine why it traveled 80 feet down the tracks and remained there with its parking brake engaged.

A commuter train's onboard camera captured the fiery crash and might help investigators with effort to piece together the events that led to the derailment.

The video, taken from the outward-facing camera on the front car of the Metrolink train, was sent back to the Washington home of the National Transportation Safety Board for analysis, board member Robert Sumwalt said.

Editor's Note: Police identified the engineer as Glen Steele. The LA County Coroner's Office and DMV said the correct spelling is Glenn Steele.

Photo Credit: California DMV]]>
<![CDATA[Netanyahu: Iran, ISIS in a "Game of Thrones"]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 12:20:54 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000009659430_1200x675_407480899661.jpg Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during an address to Congress that Iran and ISIS are competing for "the crown of militant Islam," in what he called a "deadly game of thrones." ]]> <![CDATA[Masked Midtown Jeweler Thieves Made Hole in Building Lobby: Cops]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 12:16:33 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/jewelry+store+heist+newer+surveillance.jpg

Authorities are looking for three masked suspects who somehow made a hole in the lobby of a commercial building on Lexington Avenue, got into a jewelry store and stole a horde of valuables before fleeing.

Police say the gloved men robbed the Torino Jewelers shortly after 1 a.m. Monday, Feb. 23. They stole jewelry from wall displays and glass counters in a heist captured on surveillance video.

Cameras show one of the suspects, wearing black gloves, pawing around a display case on the wall with a flashlight in his mouth, grabbing valuables and putting them in a bag. Another suspect, wearing a helmet flashlight, is seen lifting jewelry from the glass counters.

No injuries were reported in the robbery. It wasn't clear what tools the thieves used to make the hole in the lobby. 

Anyone with information about the suspects is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.

Photo Credit: Handout]]>
<![CDATA[Actress' Ex Arrested in Alleged Kidnap, Rape of NYC Teen]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 10:20:49 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Buck-Wylde-Murphy-Arrest-0303.jpg

A former son-in-law of screen legends John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands has been arrested in California, accused of kidnapping and raping a 16-year-old New York City girl, authorities say.

Buck Wylde Murphy, the 49-year-old ex-husband of actress Xan Cassavetes, was arrested in a San Bernardino trailer last week after allegedly forcing the girl to fly across the country, then keeping her captive for five days, from Feb. 22 through Feb. 26, according to a criminal complaint and the private investigator who worked on the case. 

The Staten Island girl's mother reported her missing to police last Monday and hired a private investigator, Sean Crowley, to track her daughter down, Crowley told NBC 4 New York. 

The girl had been talking online with Murphy, who Crowley said reached out to her on social media. The complaint stated that Murphy stalked her since September 2014.

"She was in the chat rooms that many kids today use, and this individual began to befriend her as a 19-year-old," said Crowley.

Murphy allegedly sent the teen romantic song lyrics in an email that contained a virus that gathered information on the victim and her family, Crowley said. 

Murphy used that information to threaten to kill the girl and her family when she initially refused to fly to California, Crowley said. The girl then secretly flew to California on Sunday using a ticket he purchased for her. 

"He gave her very specific information about her family, that he would cause harm to them and kill them if she didn't get on that plane," said Crowley. 

The victim's mother contacted Crowley when she felt police didn't take her report seriously. Crowley told NBC 4 New York he conducted an intensive investigation into the teen's phone records and tracked her to San Bernardino.

Crowley contacted authorities there, and police moved in to raid Murphy's trailer in Apple Valley and arrest him Thursday night after the girl had been captive five days. The San Bernardino Sheriff's Department said he'd sexually assaulted the girl over the course of several days.

The teen was rescued and flown back to New York City. She's back home with her mother on Staten Island, according to Crowley.

Murphy is being held in San Bernardino on felony charges of kidnapping, rape and other sex assault of a child over 14 years, showing child porn to a minor, criminal threats and stalking. 

Bail has been set at $1 million; it's not clear if has an attorney. Arraignment has been rescheduled from Monday to Tuesday. 

Murphy was married to Xan Cassavetes for several years in the 1990s. Her father John Cassavetes starred in "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Dirty Dozen," and her mother Gena Rowlands in "Gloria," "A Woman Under the Influence" and "The Notebook." 

-- Gus Rosendale contributed to this report 

<![CDATA[Stallone Breaks Up Movie Set Fight]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 11:35:47 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Stallone-AP.jpg

Sylvester Stallone played peacemaker after a real life fight broke out during filming of the new Rocky movie “Creed” in Aston, Pennsylvania, Monday.

TMZ first reported a boxer/actor jumped out of the boxing ring while a scene was being filmed and attacked an actor who was playing his corner coach. Sources confirmed with NBC10 there was an altercation on the set and that Stallone helped break up the fight.


Sources said the fight was minor and no one was seriously injured. They have not yet revealed, however, what led to the fight.

Crews for the upcoming movie have been filming in several locations in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas.

The movie focuses on the grandson of Apollo Creed, the fictional rival of the famous Rocky Balboa, who is now working with Balboa to help become a boxing champion. It will be the seventh film in the "Rocky" franchise.

Along with Stallone, the film stars Michael B. Jordan, who will play Apollo’s grandson, and is directed by Ryan Coogler. Coogler’s first film, “Fruitvale Station,” garnered critical acclaim and also starred Jordan in the lead role as Oscar Grant, an Oakland man who was killed by a police officer.

“Creed” is scheduled to be released Nov. 25.

Here are pictures and video from the set:

Photo Credit: Associated Press/Rusty Kennedy]]>
<![CDATA[Boutique Bandits Strike Again, Hit High-End Wine Store in Nolita]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 10:25:16 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/wine+store+nolita.jpg

Police are searching for a pair of robbers who have stolen more than $2,000 in cash from businesses in lower Manhattan since January, and most recently knocked off a high-end wine store in Nolita.

Police say the suspects last robbed the Wine Therapy store on Elizabeth Street on Feb. 27. They showed a knife and got away with $1,000, police said.

One of the suspects is linked to at least six other robberies of boutique Manhattan stores between Jan. 21 and Feb. 23; the alleged conspirator is connected to the first robbery, at the Goldwater Boutique on East Seventh Street Jan. 21. and the most recent, seventh robbery in the pattern, police said.  

Authorities say the suspect linked to all of the robberies showed a knife and demanded money in each of them. In addition to the wine and boutique stores, he hit a bath and beauty shop in SoHo, two clothing stores in Nolita and a chocolate shop in the East Village.

Police said he made off with cash in all of the robberies except one.

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

Photo Credit: Handout]]>
<![CDATA[Man Steals $850 Worth of Rogaine From Store: Police]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 02:15:31 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/rogaine+thief.jpg

Police are looking for a man who they say stole $850 worth of Rogaine from a Long Island drug store earlier this year.

The man, pictured above, allegedly walked into a Walgreens on West Main Street in Smithtown on Jan. 31 and took the hair regrowth products from a display case.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS. 

Photo Credit: Suffolk County Crime Stoppers]]>
<![CDATA[Man, 73, Banned From Pet Ownership After Dead Dogs Found: Report]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 11:18:52 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Dog+Collar.JPG

An elderly New Jersey man has been banned from owning animals after his two pet beagles were found starved to death in plastic bags at his home, according to a report.

James Walker, who pleaded guilty to two counts of animal cruelty in February, was fined $1,500 and banned from animal ownership for life, reports the Asbury Park Press.

The paper reports the man’s beagles, 6-year-old Peanut and 7-year-old Mama, were found dead and emaciated inside a shed on his property in Long Branch.

A veterinarian determined the beagles died from lack of proper nutrition, the report said. 

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Victims Tied Up in Violent Auto Shop Armed Robbery: Police]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 03:16:54 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/police_generic21.jpg

Police are looking for two men in a violent armed robbery at a Long Island auto shop in which one victim was tied up with his belt and a phone cord.

The robbery happened Monday at 9 p.m. at an AutoZone in Freeport, police say.

Authorities say the suspects entered the shop and forced to male employees, 36 and 19, to the ground behind the counter and began to kick them. The suspects tied one victim up with duct tape and then ordered the second victim to open the safe before tying him up with his belt and a phone cord.

The suspects fled with an unknown amount of money.

No injuries were reported.

Anyone with information on the suspects is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-244-TIPS.

<![CDATA[Final Jury Chosen in Boston Bombing Trial]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 17:50:19 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP893081903628.jpg

There was palpable relief Tuesday for dozens of jurors excused from serving on the Boston Marathon bombing trial.

"Because I can go back and do my job and not worry about my job," dismissed juror Nancy Cederholm said.

"Personally I'm relieved because I don't have to be here for the next four months," said Hazel Grenham, another dismissed juror.

Twelve jurors and six alternates were seated after two months of jury selection; among them are are eight men and 10 women. It's a jury that will not only decide whether accused bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is guilty, since if he's convicted, they will have to vote on whether he should be put to death.

"I wouldn't want to pass judgment on somebody else, so I'm glad I didn't have to do that," dismissed juror Jim Frias said.

During initial questioning, three jurors seated said they believed 21-year-old Tsarnaev was guilty, while a fourth juror said "obviously he was involved in something" and a fifth juror said "my impression was he was certainly present that day, was part and parcel of it."

However, all have said they will keep an open mind.

Two jurors said they lean toward the death penalty, while two said they lean toward a life sentence, but all said they are open to either sentence.

Jurors who were excused weighed in on whether they thought Tsarnaev would be able to get a fair trial here in Boston.

"I don't know that a fair trial could have been held anywhere, perhaps the fairest trial would be here," Grenham said.

Opening statements are scheduled to start Wednesday at 9 a.m.

Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to all 30 charges against him. He's accused of planting two bombs near the finish line in April 2013, killing three people and injuring more than 260. He's also charged in the killing of MIT police officer Sean Collier days after the attack.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Management Company Won't Help Get Rid of Toxic Mold: Resident]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 00:04:39 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/black+mold.jpg

A family has been forced to vacate its Upper East Side apartment after experts found unsafe levels of airborne black mold in the home, and the family says the building’s management company is doing nothing to help fix the problem.

Resident Monica Iken says she is battling with Century Management to get rid of the mold that has left her two young daughters with headaches and forced her family to relocate.

Iken says the mold stems from a leak in one of the apartment’s bathrooms. The management company thought the leak was caused by rain water and let the leak fester for more than a year and a half, she says.

The leak eventually spread across the ceiling through half of her apartment, causing the molding to crack, she says.

When the management company finally tore open the bathroom, they saw the massive leak was coming from the upstairs apartment, Iken says. That’s when the mold became airborne and spread all over the apartment, according to test results Iken received from a mold expert.

"He said, ‘You have to get out,’” Iken said. “He couldn't believe the levels of the different spores we had floating around in the living room."

Iken, her husband, two daughters and the cats vacated their apartment nearly a month ago, but she says they are still waiting for Century Management to help them.

When Iken decided to take matters into her own hands to get rid of the mold, the management company wouldn't even let her do that, she says. Instead, the management company has told her they are waiting for their own mold expert to assess the situation.

NBC 4 New York reached out to Century Management which declined to comment.

Meanwhile, her daughters, who have complained of headaches, are being tested to see if the mold entered their blood stream.

“Right now my priority is getting my children home,” Iken said. “I want them to be home and I want them to be happy.” 

<![CDATA[2 Men Sought in Brooklyn Burglary: Police]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 01:33:56 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/bushwick+robbery.jpg

Police are looking for two men they say burglarized a Brooklyn home last month.

The burglary happened sometime between 6 p.m. on Feb. 20 and 7 a.m. on Feb 21 at a home on Putnam Avenue in Bushwick, according to police.

The suspects, pictured above, allegedly forced open the basement door and took five screw guns, a MacBook, an iPad, a shoulder purse and a black jacket.

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

Photo Credit: NYPD]]>
<![CDATA[Girl, 7, Missing From Bronx Foster Home Found Safe: Police]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 00:48:02 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/missing+7+yo.jpg

Police say a 7-year-old girl who was reported missing from her Bronx foster home has been found safe.

Jahnya Williams, who was reported missing from her home on 223rd Street in the Edenwald section of the Bronx, was found in good health, police said.

No further details were available.

Photo Credit: NYPD]]>
<![CDATA[Burglars Enter Jewelry Store Through Hole in Wall: NYPD]]> Mon, 02 Mar 2015 22:07:26 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/230*120/ues+jewelry+store+robbery.JPG

Three men in masks punctured a wall into an Upper East Side jewelry store from a neighboring building lobby and burglarized the shop, surveillance video released by police shows. 

Police say the men, wearing masks and gloves, got into the Torino Jewelry Store by making a hole in the lobby of 767 Lexington Ave. at about 1 a.m. Monday, Feb. 23. 

The suspects took jewelry from the wall displays and glass counters before running away. 

No one was hurt.

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

<![CDATA[Christie Sued for Records in $800K of Travel]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 10:33:18 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/chris+christie+travel.jpg

A New Jersey Watchdog reporter is suing Gov. Chris Christie for expense records of nearly $800,000 charged to American Express credit cards for the travel costs of the governor’s state police security detail.

Christie’s staff denied reporter Mark Lagerkvist’s Open Records Act request for monthly statements and related documents, saying that release of details on past charges could jeopardize the governor’s safety in the future.

A New Jersey Watchdog investigation found the travel expenses of the Executive Protection Unit are 18 times higher than when Christie took office. Last year, Christie traveled outside New Jersey on more than 100 days while visiting 36 states, Mexico and Canada.

"We have a governor with political ambitions, he's traveling a lot," said Lagerkvist.  "Are New Jersey taxpayers in effect subsidizing his political aspirations?"

The public records lawsuit was filed Friday in Mercer County Superior Court.

<![CDATA[Tsarnaev's 4th Venue Change Motion]]> Mon, 02 Mar 2015 20:13:22 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/TLMD-tsarnaev-maraton-boston-2.JPG

The United States District Court denied the fourth change of venue motion filed Monday by lawyers for the surviving accused Boston Marathon bomber, just days before opening statements are slated to begin in the trial.

In addition, the court denied the defense motion to dismiss Tsarnaev's indictment. 

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's lawyers argue in this motion and earlier motions have argued it isn't possible for their client to receive a fair trial in Boston. In this latest filing, they say that the voir dire of prospective jurors hasn't cured any presumptive prejudice in the case.

Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to planting two bombs near the Boston Marathon finish line in April 2013, killing three people and injuring more than 260 others. His older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed in a shooting between authorities days later in nearby Watertown.

Opening statements are slated to begin Wednesday at 9 a.m. 

Photo Credit: Art Lien]]>
<![CDATA[Hail Blankets SoCal Beach Shoreline]]> Mon, 02 Mar 2015 18:46:48 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/HuntingtonBeach_sm.jpg

The white stuff blanketing Southern California’s Huntington Beach on Monday was not powdery sand.

It was hail.

People of all shapes and sizes flocked to the beach to snap images of the white stuff covering the Orange County shoreline.

But Eric Boldt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said despite the Twitter frenzy of photos, this is not all that unusual.

“Any time a thunderstorm moves over and there’s a little bit of ice,” this phenomenon happens, he said. “For once, we’re having a normal winter precipitation.” He also insisted that it was hail dotting the beach, not snow.

Other parts of California saw weird weather over the weekend as well. In the Bay Area, it hailed in San Jose on Sunday, and even snowed a bit on the hillsides.

Boldt said that weather conditions should warm up by Tuesday.

Photo Credit: Sam Archaga, @SamArchaga
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