<![CDATA[NBC New York - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com en-us Wed, 26 Nov 2014 08:58:52 -0500 Wed, 26 Nov 2014 08:58:52 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Nor'easter to Muck Up Thanksgiving Travel With Slushy Snow]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 08:28:17 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Snowfall-Updated-Wednesday.jpg

A strong, swirling nor'easter is churning through the the tri-state, bringing enough snow and rain to the area to wreak havoc on one of the year's busiest travel days. 

Light rain began falling across most of the region Wednesday morning, Storm Team 4 says. Rain should be constant, if not heavy, for most of the region through the morning commute before dropping temperatures allow the precipitation to transition to snow or a wintry mix later in the morning.

Road conditions will begin to deteriorate as the snow falls, especially in the Hudson Valley and parts of northern New Jersey. Those areas could see anywhere between 4 and 10 inches of snow, with areas furthest north seeing the highest totals.

In New York City, western Nassau County and New Jersey counties immediately bordering the city, rain should be steady through most of the day and could transition to a slushy, wintry mix in the afternoon. A slushy 1 to 3 inches is expected in those areas.

The Jersey Shore and in the central and eastern portions of Long Island will see mostly rain. 

Mounting delays and cancellations are being reported at the region's airports ahead of the worst part of the storm, but more should be expected as the most intense parts of the system move in. FlightAware says more than 150 flights out of JFK, LaGuardia and Newark airports have been canceled and dozens of others have been delayed as travelers look to make Thanksgiving flights.

Drivers should expect conditions to worsen as the day progresses. New York's state alert system has warned drivers traveling on roads between New York City and Albany to exercise extra caution and has banned tandem trucks from I-87 between the two cities. All commercial trucks have also been banned on I-84 in the city. The New York City Sanitation Department also issued a snow alert for Wednesday.

New Jersey transit is cross-honoring tickets Wednesday. The Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North are both offering extra trains in the afternoon to help commuters get out of the city.

Dozens of school districts have also canceled classes Wednesday or plan to release students. 

The wintry storm is forecast to leave the area late Wednesday or early Thursday, Storm Team 4 says, making way for clear skies when the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade steps off from West 77th Street. The winds are expected to die down enough for the iconic giant balloons to float through the midtown route.

Highs Thursday are forecast to be in the low 40s before dropping into the 30s Friday. The weekend is forecast to be partly sunny with highs in the 40s. 

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<![CDATA[Ferguson Protests Continue Across U.S. for 2nd Day]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 08:51:28 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/459584294.jpg

Heated protests continued for a second night in response to a Missouri grand jury's decision not to indict the police officer who fatally shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown, with violence and arrests reported across the nation.

Police ordered protesters and media off Ferguson, Missouri, streets after largely peaceful demonstrations turned violent Tuesday evening when a police car was set on fire. Earlier in the evening, demonstrators swarmed the steps of the federal courthouse in St. Louis chanting, "You didn't indict! We shall fight!" The Associated Press reported.

At a news conference early Wednesday, St. Louis Police Chief Jon Belmar said 44 people were arrested in Ferguson, but added that "it was a much better night."

In New York City, police said 10 people were arrested as protesters gridlocked major streets, highways and bridges. Protesters blocked access to the Manhattan side of the Lincoln Tunnel, one of the city's major transit arteries, during rush hour Tuesday evening.

More than 500 protesters marched up Broadway and gathered peacefully in Times Square. They chanted "Hands up, don't shoot" and carried signs reading "We will not be silent." Around 200 protesters also gathered peacefully in nearby Newark, New Jersey.

In Philadelphia, demonstrators were already taking place at noon on Tuesday, with a group holding signs that read "Outraged! Where is Our Justice?" and "Don't Shop Black Friday." A group of about 500 later held a rally at Temple University and protested outside of a police headquarters, demanding that officers wear body cameras. 

Hundreds of activists in Chicago marched through Downtown after police ordered protesters to leave Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office, where they had been participating in a planned 28-hour sit-in. The group called on Emanuel to change what they said was a culture of racism within the Chicago Police Department.

Two people were arrested at a small protest outside the Miami-Dade Metro Justice building Tuesday, police said. A Miami jury deliberating the fate of a woman accused of killing her husband's business partner was dismissed early in anticipation of a protest at the Miami courthouse.

In Los Angeles, a few hundred protesters took to the streets, engaging police in a standoff at a freeway off-ramp and surrounding a Highway Patrol car in a tense scene in South Los Angeles. Police Chief Charlie Beck said earlier Tuesday that only three arrests were made in protests across LA on Monday.

"I know that this isn't over," Beck said. "This is a wound of the nation that will not heal immediately."

One of the largest protests nationwide was in Boston, where an estimated 1,400 protesters gathered near the Massachusetts Avenue Connector, NBC News reported. Police blocked a ramp leading to I-93 to prevent protesters from going on the highway. The demonstrations in Boston were peaceful overall, however, at 11:30 p.m. approximately 36 arrests had been made, police said. In nearby Providence, Rhode Island, hundreds of protesters sat down on both lanes of I-95, blocking traffic.

In Oakland, California, a small group of protesters briefly shut down Interstate 580, but police officers were able to redirect them back onto city streets. Police arrested 40 people on Monday night following the grand jury's decision.

A car plowed through protesters in Minneapolis Tuesday afternoon, injuring one demonstrator, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported. Moments after the demonstrator was struck, a group of demonstrators jumped on the hood of the vehicle while others tried to free the demonstrator. Minneapolis Police Department said they were continuing to investigate. 

The announcement that the Missouri grand jury had brought no charge against Officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 killing of 18-year-old Brown sparked rioting in Ferguson and some unruly protests elsewhere Monday night.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon vowed that the violence would not be repeated, adding that the National Guard presence would be "ramped up significantly."

"Last night criminals intent on lawlessness and destruction terrorized this community, burning buildings, firing gunshots, vandalizing storefronts and looting family businesses, many for the second time," he said at a Tuesday afternoon news conference in Ferguson. "I am deeply saddened for the people of Ferguson who woke up this morning to see parts of their community in ruins."

Protesters had hurled bottles at officers near police headquarters, and flames engulfed at least a dozen businesses. St. Louis County police deployed tactical units and fired tear gas and smoke to break up the crowds. At least 150 gunshots were fired and a semi-automatic handgun was seized, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said at a news conference early Tuesday. 

Sixty-one people were arrested in Ferguson on charges that included burglary and trespassing, according to The Associated Press. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said early Tuesday that 21 were arrested in the city.

"I'm disappointed I didn't see more peaceful protests out there," Belmar said. "What I've seen tonight is probably worse than the worst night we had in August."

Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday that he had briefed the president in the Oval Office about the violence. He said they talked about the need to bring people together.

"This is a difficult time for people in Ferguson," Holder said. "It's a difficult time for people in our country. I think this is an opportunity for us to find those things that bind us as a nation, to be honest with one another about those things that continue to divide us and to come up with ways in which we make this union even more perfect."

Across the country, reactions ranged from marches that threatened to shut down busy streets to gatherings near national landmarks. Most remained peaceful, officials said.

In California, large crowds marched through the streets of Oakland and Los Angeles. Demonstrators shut down Interstate 580 and the USC campus was placed on lockdown as demonstrators marched by.

Angry protesters took to the streets of Philadelphia after the announcement, chanting "No Justice. No Peace. No Racist Police," and holding both arms in the air. Albeit loud in voice, they remained peaceful in actions as police trailed their march.

A man was arrested after hurling fake blood on NYPD Chief Bill Bratton in New York's Times Square during a demonstration. Hundreds marched from Union Square to Upper Manhattan through traffic-clogged streets, with signs such as "Jail killer cops."

At the Chicago police department's headquarters, several hundred people chanted "This is what democracy looks like," and carried photographs of those they said were killed by officers.

Outside the White House, roughly 300 gathered for a peaceful demonstration, chanting "black lives matter." Some carried signs urging the demilitarization of police.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Chemical-Risk Zones Pose Hidden Dangers]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 23:00:50 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/216*120/chemical+danger+school+kids.JPG

When a poisonous gas leak killed four workers near Houston earlier this month, Amy Rafano felt worried.

The New Jersey PTA mom lives near several chemical plants in Middlesex County, and sends her son to school nearby – including the Ashland plant in Parlin which houses 1.2 million pounds of the flammable chemical ethylene oxide.

"You start to say to yourself, how safe am I?" Rafano said.

Hundreds of thousands of people live in chemical-risk zones in the tri-state area and don’t even know it, according to a report by the Center for Effective Government.

“There are hundreds of facilities in New Jersey that use hazardous substances that can affect workers and the community," said Rick Engler, director of the New Jersey Work Environmental Council.

Engler said there are 93 particularly hazardous facilities in the Garden State – and that a major release there could be catastrophic.

READ: New Jersey DEP List of Plants with Hazardous Chemicals

Just last month, a chemical cloud rose from the Infineum Refinery in Linden, NJ. There were no injuries reported, but workers were held inside for more than an hour.

Amy Rafano’s son Zac, an 8th-grader, attends South River Middle School. In addition to the Ashland plant, that school is near the Dupont plant in Parlin and within reach of the Equistar Chemicals Plant in Edison.

Dupont, Ashland and Equistar all said they are extremely careful not to put local residents in danger.
According to a spokesman for Ashland: "The detection of the smallest leak of ethylene oxide would automatically shut all valves"and "isolate a potential leak."

A spokesman for Dupont said, ““DuPont works closely with local and state emergency management agencies to ensure our plans and processes meet or exceed all applicable regulatory requirements.”
Equistar said its risk management plan is on file with local municipalities, and that they set standards that protect “employees, neighbors and the environment.”

However, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection records show that many local plants have had lapses. In a recent state inspection, the Equistar Chemicals Plant was fined $4,000 for failing to comply with emergency response laws.

That troubles Amy Rafano.

"I want to know where it is and what kind of effect it will have on me and my family if something should happen," Rafano said.

Both the EPA and the New Jersey DEP require high hazard facilities to submit a “risk management plan” that details the types of substances stored, the worst case scenario if there were an accident and a response plan.

In New Jersey, the facilities are required to share their emergency response plans with the town they’re in and the county’s office of emergency management. But they are not required to communicate with neighboring communities, something experts believe is important.   For example, if a plant is in Linden, the facility is not required to share their emergency plan with nearby Elizabeth even though residents of Elizabeth would likely be affected too

"It makes total sense that emergency response planning efforts be completely coordinated,” Engler said.
Barry Eck, coordinator of the office of emergency management for Sayreville, said the plants in his borough, including Ashland, Hercules and Dupont, all have updated emergency management plans fled with him. But he says he takes that one step further: He shares those plans with neighboring plans, since they could be affected in an emergency too.

“If the towns aren't talking to each other and you have a release, you're not going to know what to do or where to go."

If you want to check which plants are near your home or child’s school, check the Center for Effective Government’s website. Just zoom in to your town and click on the flag symbols. It will list the school and the closest chemical plant.

<![CDATA[Street Closures Start Wednesday for Macy's Thanksgiving Parade ]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 15:12:30 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP831821451169.jpg

Millions of spectators are expected to line the streets Thursday for to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and 50 million more are expected to watch it on NBC.

In order to accommodate the parade, many streets will be closed Wednesday night and Thursday across Manhattan. The NYPD released the following information: 

Beginning at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, 81st Street and 77th Street from Central Park West to Columbus Avenue will be closed to traffic. The balloon inflation can be viewed by pedestrians from 3 p.m. until 10 p.m. on 81st Street and 77th Street from Central Park West to Columbus Avenue. Pedestrians are advised to enter the viewing area from the West side of Columbus Avenue at 79th Street.

At 1 p.m. the following street will be closed to traffic:

-West 79th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues

At 3 p.m., these additional streets will be closed:

-West 76th Street between Columbus and Central Park West Avenues
-West 77th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues
-West 78th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues
-West 80th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues
-West 81st Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues
-Central Park Transverse Road at Central Park West and West 81 St (both directions)

After 10 p.m., 81st Street and 77th Street from Central Park West to Columbus Avenue as well as Central Park West from 59th Street to 86th Street will be closed to all traffic.

On Thursday, the parade forms at 8 a.m. at the following locations:

-West 77th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue
-West 81st Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue
-Central Park West between West 77th and 86th Streets

The parade will begin at 9 a.m. from Central Park West and 77th Street and proceed on the following route:

-South on Central Park West to Columbus Circle
-South through Columbus Circle to 59th Street
-East on 59th Street to 6th Avenue
-South on 6th Avenue to 34th Street
-West on 34th Street to 7th Avenue - (dispersal area)

Additional closures are as follows:

-Broadway between West 34th Street and West 38th Street - Midnight to 1 p.m.
-6th Avenue between West 23rd Street and West 42nd Street – 2 a.m. to 1 p.m.
-7th Avenue from West 34th Street and West 42nd Street - 2 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
-34th Street between 6th Avenue and 8th Avenue - 10 p.m. (Wed) to 5 p.m.
-59th Street E/B between 7th Avenue and Central Park West – Midnight to 2 p.m.
-59th Street W/B between 5th Avenue and Central Park West – 2 a.m. to 2 p.m.

-35th Street between 5th Avenue and 8th Avenue - 2 a.m. to 4 p.m.
-36th Street between 6th Avenue and 8th Avenue - 2 a.m. to 2 p.m.

-37th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue - 4 a.m. to 2 p.m.
-38th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue - 4 a.m. to 2 p.m.
-8th Avenue between 34th Street and 40th Street - 4 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
-Broadway between 38th Street and 59th Street - 4 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

-33rd Street between 7th Avenue and 10th Avenue - 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
-39th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue - 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
-40th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue - 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
-49th Street between 5th Avenue and 7th Avenue - 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
-50th Street between 5th Avenue and 7th Avenue - 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
-Central Park 65th Street/66th Street Transverse Roads 7 a.m. until conclusion

From 9 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on Thursday trucks and other large vehicles will not be able to access:

-6th Avenue between West 43rd and West 59th Street
-8th Avenue between West 57th Street and West 59th Street
-Broadway between 49th Street and 57th Street
-42nd Street between 5th and 8th Avenue
-57th Street between 5th and 8th Avenue

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Pol Wants "Sex Assault by Fraud" to Be a Crime: Report]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:15:32 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Trenton+State+House+NJ+Capitol.jpg

A New Jersey lawmaker has introduced a bill that would make it a crime to lie to someone in order to have sex with them.

NJ.com reports that Assemblyman Troy Singleton of Burlington proposed a "sexual assault by fraud" bill that would make it a sex crime if someone tells a lie or claims to be someone else in order to get sexual consent. 

The bill would treat sex assault by fraud the same as forceable sexual assault, with a maximum sentence of 20 years behind bars for a conviction.

“Fraud invalidates any semblance of consent just as forcible sexual contact does,” Singleton told NJ.com. “This legislation is designed to provide our state's judiciary with another tool to assess situations where this occurs and potentially provide a legal remedy to those circumstances.”

Singleton told NJ.com he proposed the bill after talking to a woman who had been duped into giving $5,000 to a boyfriend who claimed to be a military official who was actually a serial bigamist and scam artist.

Prosecutors tried to charge the boyfriend with a sex crime but a grand jury wouldn’t indict him on the charge. 

Singleton said that five states -- Alabama, California, Colorado, Montana and Tennessee -- have laws on the books that are similar to his bill.

Criminal defense attorney Alan Zegas told NJ.com he thinks the bill is far too broad and wouldn’t stand up to a constitutional challenge.

“What if a man were to say to a woman ‘I love you’ and engage in sex and he really didn't love her? It could be as simple as that,” Zegas said. “The definition is so broad that it doesn't put the citizens of the state on fair notice of what it is that constitutes the crime.”

<![CDATA[Utility Spends Big on Brunch, Golf Balls, Asks for Rate Hike]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 22:31:45 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/united+water1.jpg

Private school tuition. Brunch for executives' wives. Thousands of dollars for golf balls. These are not country club member expenses. An I-Team investigation has found they are bills paid for by one of the region's biggest private water companies –- United Water.

The I-Team uncovered the expenses after regulators at the New York State Public Service Commission launched an investigation into the finances of United Water New York, a regulated utility that serves more than 70,000 customers in Rockland County and is a subsidiary of United Water. The inquiry follows the abrupt departure of the subsidiary's general manager.

Last month, United Water New York disclosed to regulators the company’s quarterly financial statements had been "materially misstated since September of 2010" resulting in $2.9 million that had to be written off. The utility said rate-payers were not affected.

Prompted by the disclosure of those financial irregularities, the I-Team examined a series of 2012 United Water invoices and found the utility paid about $80,000 in private school tuition for the children of executives and about $16,000 a month to rent a home for CEO Bertrand Camus. The company also spent a total of around $6,000 between two bills for golf balls that year.

Last summer, the utility asked for a 28.9 percent rate increase. New York utility regulators denied most of the rate request -– approving a rate increase of 13.3 percent, the statutory minimum. During hearings on the rate request, regulators challenged about $57,000 in expenses submitted by United Water New York to pay for “holiday parties, award events, gifts, etc." Regulators also criticized money spent on a "wives breakfast" and on "alcohol" for social events.

“The rate-payer shouldn’t be billed for alcohol. They shouldn’t be billed for private school tuition. They shouldn’t be billed for golf balls for social events where executives get together,” said John Tormey, a citizen lawyer who has filed motions demanding a full forensic audit of United Water.

In a written response to questions from the PSC last year, United Water representative Thomas Lippai defended asking rate-payers to pay the costs for certain employee rewards and perks, calling them “nominal payments that provide more benefits than cost" in an effort to "recognize employees that have demonstrated the Company’s values."

Rich Henning, a spokesman for the utility, said expenses like private school tuition and rental payments for executives are not paid for by United Water New York –- and thus were never charged to water customers.

Instead, United Water has an unregulated subsidiary called United Water Management and Services, which pays for many fringe benefits and perks, Henning said. He also stressed that the state denied many expenses the company sought to put on the shoulders of rate-payers.

"The state has reviewed issues regarding our water rates and water supply and made decisions based on the reasonableness of our costs,” Henning said.

Henning stressed that United Water New York has made major investments in water delivery totaling $175 million over the last eight years, including improving underground infrastructure, upgrades at water treatment facilities and the addition of backup power generators at several facilities.

Because United Water New York is a regulated monopoly provider of water, New York governs how much profit the company makes. However, United Water Management and Services is under no such regulation. Last year, Allison Esposito, one of the accountants reviewing United Water’s expenses on behalf of New York State, expressed concern that "management and Services fees charged to United Water New York increased 13 percent from 2011 to 2012 and 15 percent from 2012 to 2013."

Inflation increased just about 2 percent per year over that time.

Martyn Ryan, of the Rockland County Sierra Club, said it is difficult for regulators to separate expenses directly associated with the delivery of water -- which should be paid for by customers -- from perks, benefits and management services that should be paid for by shareholders.

"Those services are outside the regulated zone and while they are going up and up and up, the rate payer sees no benefit,” Ryan said.

Henning said the utility has agreed to conduct an audit of all of its management and services charges in cooperation with state regulators. The utility has also hired accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers to examine how misstated revenue made it into financial statements going back to 2010. Asked about last month's departure of United Water New York's general manager, Henning called it a personnel matter. 

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Photos of Bear in Deadly Rutgers Student Mauling Released]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 17:21:56 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/bear+attack+photo.jpg

Police released photos Tuesday that show the bear that killed a 22-year-old Rutgers student who had been hiking with friends in a New Jersey nature preserve two months ago.

Authorities believe the photos of the bear were captured right before the Sept. 21 attack on Darsh Patel. Patel had gone hiking in the Apshawa Preserve with four friends when they encountered the bear, according to authorities. The group ran in different directions and noticed Patel was missing when they regrouped.

Recordings of the 911 calls captured Patel's friends' panic.

"Hey, hello, I'm on Macopin Road, it's 81 Macopin Rd., I believe I'm in West Milford or somewhere around there," said a friend in the first 911 call. "We were hiking and we saw a bear, and we all started running and it started chasing us."

"Two of us are OK, one other person (unintelligible), but two are really close, and I'm scared out of my mind for them. I want to go back, but I'm hurt and I don't know what to do," the caller said.

West Milford police and other officers responded, and found Patel's body a short time after they arrived. Officials said Patel had bite and claw marks on his body that indicated he'd been attacked by the bear. His cellphone, which was located nearby, had a puncture mark on the screen.

The bear was stalking Patel's body and would not leave the area even after officers tried to scare it away by making loud noises and throwing sticks and stones, and it eventually was killed with two rifle blasts. Authorities said it was 4 years old. A necropsy determined it was not rabid.

Test results released by the state Department of Environmental Protection revealed human blood was found on the bear's front paws, and bits of human tissue, hair and clothing were found in its stomach, according to the report from the DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife.

State and local officials have stressed that bear attacks are rare even in a region of the state that may have as many as 2,400 bruins in its dense forests. They said the attack was the first fatal bear-human encounter on record in New Jersey.  

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Firefighter Saves Boy Trapped in Burning Home]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 17:28:42 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/robert+whelan+hero+firefighter.jpg

A firefighter saved a 6-year-old boy from a burning home in Brooklyn as his mother watched frantically from outside the house, officials said. 

The blaze at 1101 Thomas S. Boyland St. in Brownsville broke out after 2:30 p.m., and firefighters arrived to find a mother panicking over her son trapped inside, the FDNY said.

Good Samaritans had tried to run into the house to no avail, she said. Firefighters went into the home, crawled through the smoke and flames, and Lt. Robert Whelan from Engine 257 finally heard the boy's cries.

"I picked him up, heard him cough a little bit, dragged him out of the room and handed him to another guy," he said. "Everybody was doing their job and hopefully we got him in time."

The child was taken to nearby Brookdale Hospital, where he was listed in serious condition.

The fire was under control within an hour, and a cause is being investigated. 

<![CDATA[Storm Team 4's Guide to Thanksgiving Snow, Travel]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 13:50:48 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/travel+timeline.jpg Storm Team 4 walks you through all the steps of the looming storm threatening to disrupt holiday travel.]]> <![CDATA[Nor'easter to Muck Up Thanksgiving Travel With Slushy Snow]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 22:29:52 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/winter+weather+inset.jpg

After an unseasonably balmy start to the week, Storm Team 4 says a nor'easter is set to wallop the tri-state with enough snow and rain to make a mess of one of the year’s busiest travel days.

The coastal system will blow in early Wednesday, dropping light rain or a wintry mix on most of the region, according to Storm Team 4. By noon, most of the region except parts of Long Island and the Jersey Shore should see wet, heavy snow.

Snow is forecast to fall steadily throughout the day, making for hazardous conditions on the roads and creating the possibility of delays at the region’s airports the day before Thanksgiving. The snow is expected to be heavy and wet, making it very difficult to shovel and creating the potential for localized power outages, especially north and west of the city.

The roads should be sloppier the further travelers head inland, with parts of northern New Jersey and the mid-Hudson Valley forecast to see 7 to 10 inches of snow, with more accumulation possible in areas of higher elevation. Expect a slushy 2 to 4 inches for New York City, Long Island and coastal New Jersey, Storm Team 4 says. Accumulation in areas between the mid-Hudson valley and New York City should range anywhere from 4 to 7 inches.

The National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings for Wednesday in Dutchess County in New York and Hunterdon, Morris, Sussex and Warren counties in New Jersey. Most of the rest of the tri-state, including New York City, is under a winter storm watch for that period. The New York City Sanitation Department also issued a snow alert for Wednesday.

The wintry storm is forecast to leave the area late Wednesday or early Thursday, Storm Team 4 says, making way for clear skies when the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade steps off from West 77th Street. The winds are expected to die down enough for the iconic giant balloons to float through the midtown route.

Highs Thursday are forecast to be in the low 40s before dropping into the 30s Friday. The weekend is forecast to be partly sunny with highs in the 40s.  

Photo Credit: AP/NBC 4 New York
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<![CDATA[NYPD Chief Hit With "Fake Blood" Amid Ferguson Protests]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 22:43:41 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/bratton+closeup.jpg

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton was spattered with what appeared to be red paint Monday as protesters flooded Times Square to protest a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown earlier this year.

Bratton and several other officers were in Times Square when one protester allegedly tossed the liquid their way, an NYPD spokesman said. The substance, which witnesses called fake blood, hit Bratton in the face and stained his suit. It appeared to have hit at least one other police officer.

No one was injured.

Video captured in the aftermath shows several other officers crowding over the protester on the sidewalk.

Police arrested 26-year-old Diego Ibanez at the scene. He is charged with obstructing governmental administration, harassment and reckless endangerment. Police say he could face additional charges.

After the sidewalk cleared, one protester used the paint to write out the words “Mike Brown” on the sidewalk.

Bratton took the Monday night incident in stride, joking that the substance was "vegetable-based" and that he hoped it would come out of the suit he wore. 

The paint tossing resulted in the only arrest reported during the protests in New York City following the announcement of the grand jury’s decision not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in Brown’s death.

More than 1,000 protesters marched throughout the city, with groups temporarily shutting down the Brooklyn and Robert F. Kennedy bridges.

Bratton said the police department was giving protesters "breathing room" to express outrage over Monday's grand jury decision in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

"As long as they remain nonviolent, and as long as they don't engage in issues that cause fear or create vandalism, we will work with them to allow them to demonstrate," he said.

Photo Credit: Jeff Rae Via NBC News
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<![CDATA[Demand Strains NY Food Pantries]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 11:59:36 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/food+pantry+demand+up.jpg

To many, $19 dollars a month may not seem like a lot of money. But to those who worry where their next meal is coming from, it’s the difference between going to bed hungry or full. The number of those in need is on the rise, according to a new report released exclusively to NBC New York. The added demand is straining local food banks.

According to the report by the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, demand is up 7 percent year over year following a 2013 federal cut to the National Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). In New York, funding for hungry families was reduced by $19 a month on average.

More than 1 million low-income New Yorkers rely on non-profit food pantries to help supplement their grocery needs. But more and more, local pantry operators worry supply wont keep up with demand.

"Nine out of 10 soup kitchens and food pantries in New York City were feeding more people and facing a greater demand. half of them were forced to turn away people," said Joel Berg, who works with the New York City Coalition Against Hunger.

The food pantries are being pushed to their limits.

Stewart Desmond, who works with the West Side Campaign Against Hunger, said the organization expected more than 400 families to come through its food pantry on 86th Street Monday.

Celestial Hawkings, of Washington Heights, is among the New Yorkers who rely on the 86th Street pantry to bolster holiday feasts -- and stock the fridge on a regular basis.

"I'm looking for a turkey and all the holidays fixings," Hawkings said as she browsed through the shelves. Hawkings waited more than two hours before filling up her cart.

"It's worth the wait," she said. "They give you food for the whole month, so you can make a lot of extra meals out of this."

Desmond said generous donations help keep the 86th Street pantry fully stocked, but Berg worries some New Yorkers may be forced to go hungry if demand continues to outpace supply.

Berg says the solution is two-fold -- increase federal SNAP benefits and create more jobs that paying living wages.

"Smart public policies need to be enacted to make sure that people who are working hard and playing by the rules don't go hungry," he said. 

<![CDATA[Fire Destroys Harlem Building, 3 Hurt: FDNY]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 22:30:55 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/harlem+fire+11+25+14.jpg

Three people were hurt and about a dozen others were displaced after a fire engulfed a Harlem store Tuesday and spread to the apartments above, fire officials say.

The blaze broke out at a 99 cent store on Frederick Douglass Boulevard at West 139th Street at about 9:15 a.m., the FDNY says. In a matter of seconds, the flames crawled up the wall into the apartments above the store. 

"It was very frantic, there was a lot of panic," said neighbor Naim Nejieb. "The apartment was completely filled with smoke." 

At least a dozen residents were awakened by smoke and screams, including 61-year-old Milton Brown, who warned his neighbors to get out, then raced to look for his 91-year-old mother Sarah, who lives with him and just had a pacemaker installed. He said he had to carry her down a smoke-filled stairwell, and other people helped carry her.

"Smoke was all in the hallways, it was all over the place," said Brown, a Vietnam War veteran. "We couldn't see getting out." 

The fire destroyed their apartment, but Brown said he's thankful for the firefighters and strangers who helped rescue him and his mother. 

"I'm blessed to be here," he said with tears in his eyes. 

The injuries to the three people hurt were considered minor; they were taken to a hospital. 

The cause of the blaze is unknown, fire officials say.

The Red Cross says it is assisting residents displaced by the fire. 

<![CDATA[Window Washer Who Fell 11 Stories "Fighting for His Life"]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 14:50:42 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/SF-WINDOW-WASHER-CHOPPER-RAW-SD---14451915.jpg

The window washer who fell  about 11 stories in San Francisco last week is a "stubborn, strong man," who is "fighting for his life," according to his family.

The 58-year-old window washer, whose name has not been publicly revealed, has had several surgeries at San Francisco General Hospital and was still in critical condition on Monday, when his family issued a statement by email to the media asking that their privacy be respected.

The statement, provided by the hospital, added that the family is so grateful to everyone at the accident scene at the bottom of the Sterling Bank and Trust building in the 400 block of  Montgomery Street who assisted the window washer when he fell on Friday about 10 a.m.

"We would like to thank everyone at the scene of the accident who helped, especially the nurse who ran to him, the firefighters and the driver of the car that broke his fall," the statement read. "We are amazed that he fell from such a high distance and still survived. Landing on the car really helped, and we are so thankful for that."

The window washer, who is married and has three children, landed on top of a green Toyota Camry, driven by Mohammad Alcozai, who at first thought it was a bicyclist who accidently hit his car. Despite his own car being severely damaged from the fall, Alcozai quickly ran to the man's aid. About 20 others, including a nurse and a retired Army general, were also there helping out.

"He was shaking pretty bad. He was shaking and wasn't able to talk," Alcozai said. "He was breathing hard."

The window washer worked for Century Window Cleaners of Concord, which has been fined for safety violations in the past. A complaint from 2008 resulted in a $2,700 settlement. The state ordered the company to train and “supervise the use of equipment and safety devices to insure that safe working practices are observed.”

NBC Bay Area contacted the company for comment, but the man who answered the phone declined. The company's website states it carries a $5 million worker compensation insurance policy and a $5 million general liability insurance policy.

The fall comes about two weeks after two window washers were stranded on top of the World Trade Center in New York City. On Nov. 12, two workers were rescued in dramatic fashion after scaffolding collapsed.

Window cleaning is one of the safer industries, according to Stefan Bright, the safety director for the International Window Cleaners Association based in Zanesville, Ohio.

Among the 15,000 to 20,000 professional cleaners working on high-rises each year, there are typically fewer than three fatalities a year, he said.

While figures for window washers specifically were not available, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that seven workers in the janitorial or cleaning professions died as a result of on-the-job injuries sustained while working with scaffolding from 2011 to 2013.

NBC Bay Area's Mark Matthews and Cheryl Hurd, and NBC Universal's Noreen O'Donnell and Torey Van Oot contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area chopper]]>
<![CDATA[Photos Show Dump for Tainted Dirt Is Open Despite Warning]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 06:10:20 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/toxic+dirt.jpg

Video and photos obtained by the I-Team show a Maryland company called Soil Safe has opened an 85-acre site in New Jersey intended to hold millions of tons of petroleum-tainted dirt, despite a letter from federal regulators warning of a possible “catastrophic release” of toxins into the Rahway River.

For decades, the site has been the repository of cyanide-laced sludge left by the chemical manufacturer American Cyanamid. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has signed off on all the necessary permits for Soil Safe to “cap” that sludge with petroleum-tainted dirt trucked in from contaminated sites around the country.

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wrote a letter warning of the possibility that dumping 2 million tons of tainted dirt on top of already-polluted soil could put too much pressure on the strips of land that separate the river water from the dump site.

“EPA has not been provided sufficient information to establish a significant degree of confidence that these lateral forces will not compromise the existing structural integrity of the berms and potentially cause a catastrophic release," wrote Judith Enck, regional administrator of the EPA.

Despite those concerns, video captured by the I-Team shows heavy construction vehicles are already moving what appears to be dirt on the site. Also, aerial photos provided by the environmental group Baykeeper NJ, seem to show some of the equipment less than 100 feet from the water.

Despite those concerns, aerial photos provided to the I-Team by Baykeeper, an environmental advocacy group, seem to show Soil Safe has been moving forward with plan to dump tainted dirt for weeks.

One such photo shows a newly installed trailer office and heavy construction vehicles used to move dirt less than 100 feet from the water.

Representatives of Soil Safe did not answer the I-Team's request for comment. The Soil Safe website, however, boasts of the operation. It reads, "Soil Safe, Inc. is pleased to announce that our newest facility, Soil Safe-Metro12, is now open and operational in Carteret, NJ!!!"

The website also says the facility “is now sourcing and receiving for permanent placement on site.”

Larry Ragonese, a spokesman for the New Jersey DEP, said the warning letter from federal regulators was politically motivated.

"We have a project that has been fully done. It has been fully vetted and is underway," Ragonese told the I-Team.

"I think a certain EPA administrator is very close to a certain New York Senator,” he added.

Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, along with a coalition of Republicans from Staten Island, has been urging the EPA to take action to block the dumping of polluted soil so close to the river. They fear a flood could put Staten Island directly in the path not only of the petroleum-tainted soil being deposited now but of cyanide-laced soil that sits underneath.

In June, the I-Team revealed how the New Jersey DEP has blacked out key portions of a consultant study used to justify pouring so much tainted dirt on a site that’s already contaminated.

State regulators and Soil Safe said portions of the study were blacked out to protect corporate secrets.

Elias Rodriguez, a spokesman for the EPA, said federal regulators have examined the redacted portions of the geotechnical report but the study did not allay safety concerns. “The geotechnical [study] did not answer EPA's questions,” Rodriguez said.

One of those questions concerns whether the weight of the petroleum-tainted “cap” can be supported by the cyanide sludge underneath.

“EPA is concerned about the cap’s design basis and impacts that may occur during its construction on areas of the site that overlie any groundwater that will contact the sludge and discharge to the Rahway River,” Enck wrote.

The EPA has not formally asked for the project to be halted. The letter requests answers to 10 questions about the safety of the project.

Debbie Mans, executive director of Baykeeper, said she believes operations at the site should be suspended until the New Jersey DEP answers the EPA's questions. She said the federal agency raised significant public health and safety concerns.

"I think the operations should stop until the New Jersey DEP answers the EPA's questions. I mean, the EPA raised significant public health and safety concerns," Mans said.

Ragonese said the New Jersey DEP would be happy to answer any of the EPA's questions. But, he added, New Jersey environmental regulators have no intention of asking Soil Safe to close the site while those answers are formulated.

“It’s under New Jersey’s jurisdiction to remediate this site,” he said. “It has been evaluated twice to meet EPA’s Superfund standards and it was left to New Jersey to remediate.”

Last year, the EPA and US Army Corps of Engineers sent a joint letter to Schumer explaining that federal government does not have jurisdiction over the New Jersey project site. 

However, the EPA is currently proposing an expansion in the number of waterways and wetlands that fall under the Clean Water Act. If that rule change occurs, it is possible the EPA would attempt to assert authority.

Rodriguez said federal regulators have a collaborative relationship with the New Jersey DEP and it is premature to discuss whether the EPA might try to assert jurisdiction over the site if and when the rule change goes into effect.

"I think it's safe to say we decline to speculate on what our future options would be," said Rodriguez.

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[This Just In: Bills Petition NFL to Play Jets Every Week]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 11:13:47 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/jets+bills3.jpg

Well, Jets fans, we’ve finally found what it takes to make Geno Smith play effectively at quarterback: spot the other team a 28-point lead. Smith performed reasonably well after relieving a banged-up Michael Vick with just under five minutes left in the third quarter of Gang Green’s 38-3 loss, completing 10 of his 12 passes.

Of course, Smith was no Kyle Orton. The Jets made the journeyman QB look like Joe Montana Monday night at Detroit’s Ford Field. Orton connected with his targets on all but eight of his 32 throws, and half of his incompletions were drops by heralded rookie Sammy Watkins and his fellow receivers. Watkins torched the Jets when the two teams met earlier this season, but he inflicted no such damage in the second match-up. He didn’t need to, since the Jets DBs were busy turning Bills second-year WR Robert Woods into Jerry Rice.

Speaking of all-time greats, it appeared as though Buffalo had a defensive line full of Reggie Whites. The Jets simply couldn’t block the Bills’ oncoming pass rushers, who finished the night with seven sacks to push their league-high up to 46 with five games still left in the season. Gang Green couldn’t even block a backup running back. Reserve Anthony Dixon not only finished with a game-high 54 rushing yards, but also blocked a Ryan Quigley punt that teammate Manny Lawson returned for a touchdown to effectively end the contest with 25 minutes still left on the game clock.

To say the Jets bring out the best in the Bills would be the understatement of the 2014 NFL season. Against all other opponents, Buffalo has averaged an anemic 17 points a game. In two games against the Jets this year, they’re at over 40 per.

Meanwhile, Buffalo brings out, well, the Jets in the Jets, who certainly lived up to their putrid 2-9 record last night. Even their few standout performers, such as defensive linemen Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson, were ineffective -- to say nothing of an offensive line that apparently had already taken off for Thanksgiving. And for all the talk about how playing indoors on artificial turf would give the Jets’ playmakers an edge, Vick suddenly looked his age in Detroit, while I’m not even sure Percy Harvin made the trip. Can you imagine how upset he is if he’s in Buffalo right now?

The Bills were thought to be at a disadvantage in surrendering a precious home game for a neutral field nearly 300 miles from Buffalo. But I think coach Doug Marrone and his somehow-still-in-playoff-hunt team would gladly play at Ford Field -- preferably against the Jets -- every week.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Airlines Offer Waivers Ahead of Thanksgiving Eve Storm]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 12:36:35 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/airport_generic.jpg

With snow looming in the forecast for the Northeast region of the United States, several airlines announced this week the option for their passengers to change their scheduled flights from Wednesday to Tuesday or Thanksgiving Day for free.

Travelers with American Airlines flights on Wednesday to 18 different aiports along the East Coast, including Philadelphia International and Newark Liberty International Airport, can change their tickets so they fly Tuesday or Thursday, according to a company news release.

Passengers scheduled to fly into 19 Mid-Atlantic airports -- including Philly's and Newark's -- with Delta Airlines Wednesday can also change their flight. Delta ticket-holders can rebook their Wednesday flight for Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday.

JetBlue also announced the ability to adjust one's Wednesday flight to 17 airports in the Northeast, free of charge.  JetBlue passengers can move their Thanksgiving Eve flight to Thursday or Friday.

United Airlines and US Airways also announced similar waiver deals.

Photo Credit: clipart.com]]>
<![CDATA[Bedroom Intruder Robs 8-Year-Old Girl at Knife Point: Cops]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 16:08:09 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/generic+caution+tape+vg.jpg

A man sneaked into a Bedford-Stuyvesant apartment in the middle of the night, crept into an 8-year-old girl's bedroom and robbed her at knifepoint, authorities said.

Police said the suspect entered the little girl's room around 2 a.m. Saturday, put a knife to her throat and demanded money. The 8-year-old girl complied and the suspect ran off.

No injuries were reported.

Authorities said they believe the suspect is known to the victim's family.

No arrests have been made.  

Photo Credit: Valeria Gonzalez]]>
<![CDATA[Photos Released of Bear Before Fatal NJ Attack]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:23:06 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/bear-Hiker+3-crop.jpg West Milford police released photos of a bear taken by Darsh Patel and David Suh shortly before it attacked. The bear killed Patel, 21, who was a student at Rutgers. The bear was later killed. ]]> <![CDATA[Beckham's One-Handed TD Catch Really the Greatest?]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 20:41:31 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/459482246.jpg

The football was hurtling past Odell Beckham Jr. when the Giants rookie squeezed it with his right hand, stopping its momentum before cupping it safely over his blue jersey.

He did this while stretching parallel to the turf. In the air.

And for good measure, he was interfered with by Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr, who tumbled helplessly out of bounds as Beckham's momentum carried him over the goal line for a 43-yard touchdown and a 14-3 Giants lead.

The play was reviewed because Beckham did things in midair that are simply not believable to the naked eye. The officials had to see it again.

We all did.

It was quite possibly the greatest catch ever seen on a football field, according Beckham’s Giants teammate Victor Cruz. And LeBron James. And well, for the rest of the Twitter world.

"I guess I gotta thank my mom for the long fingers," said Beckham, after what can only be described as a breakout performance. If he was on the radar of NFL fans heading into Sunday, then a 146-yard two-touchdown night puts him on the league’s map of superstars. He just became an overnight sensation.

But greatest is a pretty hefty label. Watching on Long Island, physics professor Chang Kee Jung didn’t think of it that way until Monday morning, when he started analyzing the catch in his office at Stony Brook University, where he teaches a sports physics class.

“It’s just ridiculous,” said Jung, noting that a football spirals through the air rotating at a speed somewhere between 400 and 500 rpm. 

“He was catching the ball in the body of the football.”

It’s that fact which Jung believes separates this catch from others, like David Tyree in the Super Bowl. Where most one-handed grabs are made by cupping the nose of the football, in this case, as Beckham reached back for the ball with his right hand, he could only get three fingers on the ball. Improbably, that was enough to stop the momentum of a ball travelling as fast as 50 mph.

“Everything has to be just right,” said Jung.

Beckham says Eli Manning’s throw was a perfect spiral in exactly the right spot. Of course, had he not been interfered with, it’s likely a catch in his chest and a routine 43-yard touchdown.

“He practices that one-handed snag,” said Manning, who pointed out the one flaw in the whole “Greatest Catch” theory.

The Giants didn’t win the game.

“I hope it’s not the greatest catch of all time,” said Beckham, echoing his quarterback’s frustration with losing to the Cowboys. “I hope I can make more.”

The feeling seems to be mutual.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[$1M Powerball Ticket Sold in NY About to Expire]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 16:30:10 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/powerball-lotto-generic.jpg

A winning $1 million lottery ticket sold at a New York convenience store is about to expire, and lottery officials are hoping to identify the winner before the deadline is up.

The Powerball ticket was sold at Quick Mart on North Middletown Road in Nanuet in Rockland County on Dec. 11, 2013, according to state lottery officials. 

It was a second-prize ticket for that day's Powerball drawing, which turned up winning numbers of 01-10-13-18-19 and Powerball no. 27. 

The ticket will expire Dec. 11 of this year. If the prize is not claimed by that time, the money will be returned to the prize pool for future winners. 

Last year, three $1 million-winning Powerball tickets, each sold in New York City, went unclaimed and ultimately expired: one sold at C & C Discount on East 167th Street for a Feb. 2, 2013 drawing; another sold at Shop Smart on Prospect Park West in Brooklyn for a May 11, 2013 drawing; and a third sold at Thriftway Church Avenue Drug in Brooklyn for a May 15, 2013 drawing. 

Powerball winners have up to a year to claim the prize on their tickets. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[3 More Arrested in Ramapo College Dorm Sex Assault]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 10:48:29 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ramapo+college+sex+assault.jpg

Three more Ramapo College students, two men and a woman, have been charged in connection with the sexual assault of a student prosecutors say was attacked in a dorm room earlier this month.

Staten Island residents Justin Sommers and Christopher Rainone and Wayne, New Jersey, resident Jordyn Massood, all 18, were each charged with endangering an injured victim in the Nov. 15 assault, prosecutors said Monday. Sommers and Rainone were also charged with invasion of privacy.

Two other students, Christian Lopez, 24, of Secaucus, and 18-year-old Nakeem Gardner, of Paterson, were arrested two days after the assault on aggravated sexual assault and other charges. Prosecutors say they allegedly sexually assaulted the woman while Sommers and Rainone took photos; Massood did nothing to suggest the behavior was wrong, authorities say. 

The woman, a commuter, contacted authorities after she woke up "in a state of undress" in a dorm room following a frat party. A subsequent investigation determined that she had been "highly intoxicated" and unable to consent to sexual activity.

In a letter to students and staff Monday, president Peter Mercer said: "I am sorry to inform you that three additional Ramapo students have been charged in connection with the incident of sexual assault that was reported last week. Their alleged offenses have to do with invasion of privacy and failure to render aid.

"These charges raise fundamental issues of personal responsibility and respect for one's fellow students that should be at the core of collegiate life. It is distressing to think that none of those who were aware of this incident at the time appear to have intervened even by reporting it anonymously. This is not who we are and does not reflect the values that we, as a College, uphold and promote through such programs as Green Dot, Take Back the Night, our Good Samaritan policy and other programs delivered to our students," the letter read.

Mercer went on to say he's looking for independent reviewers to examine the school's programs, policies and procedures on binge drinking because "it is apparent that alcohol was a factor for the accused in this case and that it contributes to unacceptable behavior particularly when it is consumed in such quantities that intervention is required." 

Lopez and Gardner remain jailed in Bergen County. On Monday, prosecutors said Lopez had additionally been charged with criminal restraint, endangering an injured victim and invasion of privacy in the Nov. 15 case, as well as criminal sexual contact for allegedly inappropriately touching another female student at the college. Gardner was also additionally charged with endangering an injured victim.

Additional bail based on the new charges for Lopez and Gardner has not yet been set, prosecutors say. It's not clear if either man has an attorney. Information on attorneys for the three 18-year-olds arrested Monday was not immediately available. 

Photo Credit: Handout]]>
<![CDATA[Protests Erupt After Ferguson Grand Jury Decision]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 14:56:45 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP606310022258.jpg

Violent protests and acts of civil disobedience - from car burnings to marches on highways - broke out in several U.S. cities overnight after a grand jury decided against indicting a white police officer, Darren Wilson, in the fatal shooting of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri.

The grand jury's decision was announced by St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch more than three months after Wilson killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in a sharply disputed encounter in the St. Louis suburb.

Riots, looting, fires and gunshots erupted in Ferguson -- the community first rocked by the Aug. 9 shooting -- shortly after the decision was announced. Protesters hurled bottles at officers near police headquarters, and flames engulfed at least a dozen businesses.  St. Louis County police deployed tactical units and fired tear gas and smoke to break up unruly crowds. 

At least 150 gunshots were fired and a semi-automatic handgun was seized, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said at a news conference early Tuesday. 

Police released records early Tuesday showing 61 people were arrested in Ferguson on charges that included burglary and trespassing, The Associated Press reported. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said early Tuesday that 21 were arrested in the city.

"I'm disappointed I didn't see more peaceful protests out there," Belmar said. "What I've seen tonight is probably worse than the worst night we had in August."

Across the country, reaction ranged from marches that threatened to shut down busy streets to gatherings near national landmarks. Most remained peaceful, officials said.

In California, a large crowd marched through the streets of Oakland, and protesters shut down Interstate 580. A bank window was broken and several people were arrested, The Associated Press reported.

Crowds in Los Angeles blocked traffic and stopped traffic briefly on the 10 Freeway. The USC campus was placed on lockdown as demonstrators marched by.

In Philadelphia, angry protesters took to the streets after the announcement, chanting "No Justice. No Peace. No Racist Police," and holding both arms in the air. Albeit loud in voice, they remained peaceful in actions as police trailed their march.

A man was arrested after hurling fake blood on NYPD Chief Bill Bratton in New York's Times Square during a demonstration. Hundreds marched from Union Square to Upper Manhattan through traffic-clogged streets, with signs such as "Jail killer cops."

At the Chicago police department's headquarters, several hundred people chanted "This is what democracy looks like," and carried photographs of those they said were killed by officers.

Outside the White House, roughly 300 gathered for a peaceful demonstration, chanting "black lives matter." Some carried signs urging the demilitarization of police.

Officials and lawyers for Brown's family had appealed for calm. At a press conference before the announcement, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley had said, "I want people to think with their heads and not with emotion."

"I do not want people in this community to think they have to barricade their doors and take up arms," he said. "We are not that kind of a community."

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon called for protecting lives, property and free speech, but fearful that protests would turn violent -- as sometimes occurred during the tense days after the shooting -- schools closed and shop owners boarded up stores.

The Missouri grand jury considered everything from first-degree murder to involuntary manslaughter to no charge against Wilson.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Man in Critical Condition in Queens Home Invasion: NYPD]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 17:14:34 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/east+elmhurst+shooting.jpg

A man is in critical condition after being shot in the head during a home invasion in Queens, authorities say.

The 20-year-old man was shot once in the head during the violent break-in on 93rd Street in East Elmhurst at around 3 p.m.

A law enforcement official said three men in bandanas knocked on an apartment door, and when a woman answered the door, forced their way in and pulled a gun. The suspects fired a shot in the kitchen, hitting the man in the head. 

The victim was taken to Elmhurst Hospital in critical condition.

The official said police are looking into whether the home invasion was gang-related. The victim had 18 prior arrests related to drugs.

-- Jonathan Dienst contributed to this report. 

<![CDATA[Death of Man in Stairwell Shooting Ruled Homicide: ME]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 23:19:09 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/gurley+stairwell+shooting.jpg

The death of the unarmed man shot by a probationary NYPD officer in a Brooklyn stairwell last week has been ruled a homicide, the medical examiner’s office said Monday.

Akai Gurley was shot and killed in a stairwell at the Louis H. Pink Houses in East New York late Thursday by officer Peter Liang, who was assigned to the public housing complex as part of a violence reduction overtime detail.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton has called the shooting an accident and said Gurley was a "total innocent."

Liang and his partner, both of whom have less than 18 months on the force, were conducting a floor-by-floor sweep of the building and had gone to the roof when they noticed there were no lights in the stairwell leading up to it. Given the location and lack of light, Liang drew his weapon and a flashlight for safety reasons, police have said. The other officer kept his service weapon holstered.

As the officers were entering the eighth-floor landing, Gurley emerged on the seventh-floor landing. He heard a noise and turned to look up at the two officers a floor above him, a law enforcement source said. Then Liang, who had his gun in his left hand and his flashlight in his right, fired accidentally, hitting Gurley 11 feet below him, according to Bratton.

Gurley was shot in the chest. He stumbled down to his girlfriend, who was by that point on the fifth floor, and she tried to administer first aid, authorities said. Liang and his partner found the couple on the fifth floor; 911 had already been called. Gurley was pronounced dead at a hospital.

The medical examiner's ruling came shortly after Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson announced he would launch an investigation into Gurley's death. Thompson met with community leaders on Sunday, a day after more than 250 people marched in protest outside Liang's 75th Precinct, chanting and holding signs calling for justice.

The NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating along with the district attorney's office. Liang has been placed on modified duty pending the outcome of the investigation.

The police union has called for a thorough investigation. Neither the union nor the NYPD could immediately be reached for comment on the medical examiner's ruling. 

Photo Credit: AP/NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Dog Left in Bathroom Too Matted to Relieve Itself: SPCA]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 17:39:47 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/abandoned+dog+park.jpg

Authorities are searching for the person who left a small white dog in the women's bathroom at a New York state park over the weekend.

The Putnam County SPCA says the pooch, possibly a Maltese mix, was found in a plastic crate in the ladies' restroom at Pelton Pond off Route 301 in Kent's Fahnestock State Park Saturday morning.

The dog was taken to an animal hospital, where it was found to be in a severe state of neglect. Both of its ears were infected and its fur was so heavily matted that it couldn't relieve itself, the SPCA said.

The pup, believed to be 3 or 4 years old, was also underweight.

Anyone with information about the dog is asked to call the Putnam County SPCA at 845-520-6915. 

Photo Credit: Handout]]>
<![CDATA[NJ Mother Who Shot, Killed Kids Dies: Police ]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 11:52:17 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/Tabernacle+NJ+shooting-3.jpg

A New Jersey mother accused of shooting her three kids in her bedroom before turning the gun on herself has died, according to New Jersey State Police.

Jeaninne LePage, 44, died at Cooper Hospital in Camden Sunday morning, police confirmed. She and her three children were found shot last Thursday in the bed neighbors say the four shared.

Police say LePage, who was hospitalized since the shooting, killed two of her kids before turning the gun on herself inside their Holly Park Drive home in Tabernacle. The weapon was found near her.

Eight-year-old Nadia Harriman and her 14-year-old brother, Nicholas Harriman, died, according to the state police.

Alexander Harriman, 11, remained in severely critical condition at Cooper University Hospital Sunday, officials said.

Neighbors identified the victims Thursday, but authorities waited to confirm their names until family members, including the children's father, who was located in Maryland, were informed of the deaths.

Another relative who lives in the house found the victims at around 9 a.m. and called for help. Investigators believe the mother shot herself and the children between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m.

"When police got there, they found a really horrific scene," said Stephen Jones, a spokesman for the New Jersey State Police. The victims were found in the same room and police believe they were shot with the same handgun, which was found at the scene."

Police say LePage used a pillow to muffle the sound of the gunshots.

A motive remains under investigation, but neighbors said LePage had financial troubles.

At a community vigil Thursday night, friends of the children remembered their classmates.

Students and staff at Seneca High School -- where Nicholas Harriman was a student -- had a moment of silence for the family Friday morning. Grief counselors were also on hand at local schools Friday to talk with students and staff.

A trust fund has been set up at PNC Bank under the name LePage-Harriman Memorial Fund.  

Photo Credit: NBC10]]>
<![CDATA[Hero, Nero, Zero From Giants' Loss to Cowboys]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 11:38:29 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/4594822461.jpg

Hero: Odell Beckham Jr.

The Giants’ 2014 season is not going to end in Arizona on the first Sunday in February. With Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys, New York’s sixth straight loss, the 3-8 Giants can at best finish 8-8, which might have been good enough to win the division -- ya know, if the Giants played in the NFC South.

Are the Giants officially eliminated from postseason contention? No. But no fan in his or her right mind is clinging to the hopes of making the playoffs. And given the chorus of cheers that went up at MetLife Stadium Sunday night when the referees ruled the Giants had come up short on fourth down to essentially end the game, most Giants fans had already thrown in the towel and sold their tickets to Cowboys fans.

But at least the Giants have something to look forward to, and that’s watching Odell Beckham Jr. play for their team, hopefully for a long time.

By now you’ve likely seen the catch that Beckham made, which ranks roughly No. 1 in the history of the world. We saw the flags come in, and we saw Beckham hit the ground, but the camera angle was so far away that we couldn’t see what happened to the ball. Only when he stood up did I turn to my nephew and ask, “Did he just catch that?”

Replays and additional camera angles confirmed the sublime. It was unreal.

That’s why we watch sports, to see and experience a moment of transcendent play like that. Here’s to many more from Beckham in the coming years.

Nero: NFL rules

Every major sport has its shortcomings involving the rulebook. Baseball has the “neighborhood rule,” which allows middle infielders to be within shouting distance of second base on force plays and is designed to protect them from baser runners barreling down the baseline; basketball often allows its players to take more than two steps after picking up their dribble; soccer has no effective way to protect against flopping; and hockey still allows people to commit felonies that would get an average person sent to prison.

Football? It has numerous rules that defy common sense. For example, the rule that doesn’t allow referees to infer the obvious, as displayed last night when Giants running back Andre Williams obviously fumbled the ball near the goal line before he hit the ground. Because the play was not ruled a fumble on the field, referees needed incontrovertible evidence that Williams had fumbled in order to turn over the call.

Williams was tackled in a scrum and it wasn’t immediately clear that he had coughed it up before he was down, but anyone with a modicum of common sense could deduce that he had in fact fumbled. But the referees didn’t feel they were 100 percent certain, so they hid behind the safe, incorrect call. On the next play, Williams scored a touchdown and the Giants were ahead 21-10.

So yeah, the Giants lost by three points, but it should have been by more.

Zero: Giants’ pass rush on final Cowboys drive.

If you can’t get to a quarterback with the front four (and the Giants couldn’t, especially on the last drive), then it makes sense to send extra rushers. Instead Perry Fewell’s defense sat back and didn’t blitz on the deciding pass play, even though Tony Romo has broken bones in his back and is limited in his mobility.

Romo had seven-and-a-half seconds to throw on one play on the last drive, which should have been the clue that the Giants’ pass rush wasn’t getting it done. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Parents Charged After Infant Daughter Accidentally Shot]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 07:12:04 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/112214babyshot.jpg


The parents of a 9-month-old girl who was accidentally shot in her Brooklyn home are being criminally charged, investigators said Sunday.


The baby's father, Pedro Rosales, 47, faces a slate of charges, including second-degree assault, criminal possession of a firearm and endangering the welfare of a child, according to a court document.

Rosales was cleaning an illegally owned Colt .45 handgun at their home in East New York at about 4 p.m. Saturday when it discharged, police said. His daughter Jessica was hit in the hip. She underwent surgery at the Bellevue Hospital and was recovering in stable condition.

Rosales and Jessica Aguilar, the baby's mother, flagged down a police car outside their home on Sutter Avenue after the shooting and officers escorted parents and child to the hospital.

Police charged Aguilar with endangering the welfare of a child and second-degree reckless endangerment.

Rosales is being held on $100,000 bond or $50,000 bail. Aguilar is being held on $10,000 bond or $5,000 bail.

<![CDATA[4 Stabbed After Bronx Restaurant Argument]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 15:09:22 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/112314bamboo.jpg

An argument at a Bronx restaurant turned violent Sunday when someone stabbed four people, police said.

Four men ranging in age from 22 to 31 were stabbed in the 3 a.m. dispute at the Bamboo Restaurant and Lounge on Morris Avenue, police said.

A 28-year-old was hospitalized in critical condition, while the others were in stable condition at Lincoln Medical Center, fire officials said.

There were no immediate arrests. 

<![CDATA[Brooklyn DA to Launch Probe Into Gurley Death]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 08:06:07 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/112314Hakeem.jpg

Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson is launching an investigation into the death of Akai Gurley, the young man shot by a rookie NYPD officer in an East New York public housing complex.

The move was commended by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries and Rep. Nydia Velazquez, who met Sunday with the D.A. to discuss the shooting.

"His death appears to be unprovoked, unnecessary and unjust," Jeffries said after meeting with the D.A. "And the community, of course, is sick and tired of being sick and tired of these types of instances of police violence."

Gurley, 28, was unarmed when probationary officer Peter Liang accidentally discharged his weapon in the stairwell Thursday night, according to the NYPD.

Liang has been placed on modified duty. He and another officer, both with less than 18 months on the force, were part of a violence reduction overtime detail on vertical patrol, conducting floor-by-floor sweeps of the Louis H. Pink Houses in East New York at around 11 p.m.

As the officers entered the eighth-floor landing on the day of the shooting, Gurley emerged on the seventh-floor landing. He heard a noise and turned to look up at the two officers a floor above him, a law enforcement source said. That's when Liang, who had his gun in his left hand and his flashlight in his right, fired accidentally, hitting Gurley 11 feet below.