<![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, 03 Sep 2014 02:33:14 -0400 Wed, 03 Sep 2014 02:33:14 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Brooklyn Family Calls for Arrests After Boy Is Attacked]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 22:50:18 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/215*120/brooklyn+boy+attacked+home.JPG

A 9-year-old Brooklyn boy was allegedly attacked by a group of older boys while he was playing in front of his home on Labor Day, and his family is calling for police to arrest the assailants, who they claim are known neighborhood bullies.

Surveillance video captured the alleged assault on Linden Boulevard in East New York Monday afternoon. The boy said he was playing in front of his house when the group of boys, believed to range in age from 10 to 17, approached him.

"They said, 'You have money?' I said no, and they just hit me," the boy said. "And they said, 'You want to fight?' and I said 'I don't want to fight.' And they just hit me, hit me." 

The boy was punched repeatedly in the face, neck and back, and was jump-kicked by the oldest boy before he was able to get away, his family said.

The boy's sister said she and her father were inside the house when they heard him screaming and saying "No, no, no." When they looked out the window, they saw him trying to get up.

They ran out to find him on the corner, apparently after escaping the older boys, standing and looking "petrified." The boy's father assured him the alleged attackers were gone and that he could walk back.

"My dad called him and he just stayed there," said the boy's older sister, Stephanie. "He was really scared. He was terrified." 

"It made me feel really sad that I couldn't do anything to stop it," she said. 

The boy was taken to Kings County Hospital for observation. He still had visible bruises on his face and shoulders Tuesday. 

The boy's mother Genoveva Duran Jiminez said she filed a report with police. She told Telemundo that the older boys have hurt other children in the neighborhood, and wants them to face consequences for their alleged bullying. 

The NYPD did not immediately have information on the alleged assault and said it will take several days to generate a report on it. 

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<![CDATA[MTA Bus Hits Elderly Man in Queens: Police]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 22:59:39 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/215*120/mta+bus+accident+maspeth.JPG

An MTA bus struck and injured an elderly man in Queens Tuesday night, police say.

The bus hit the man at 65th Place and 53rd Drive in Maspeth at about 8:30 p.m., according to police.

The victim was taken to New York Hospital Queens with injuries to the leg. He's listed in serious but stable condition.

No charges have been filed. 

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<![CDATA[3.7 Earthquake Rattles SoCal City]]> Wed, 03 Sep 2014 02:23:31 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/140902-earthquake-san-jacinto.jpg

Residents across Riverside County reported hearing loud rumbling followed by a strong jolt when a magnitude-3.7 earthquake struck the San Jacinto area Tuesday night.

The temblor hit about 7:38 p.m. at a depth of a little more than 8 miles, the U.S. Geological Survey said. It was followed by a magnitude-2.9 aftershock nearly an hour later.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damages.

A Twitter user in Winchester described the tremor as a "short jolt." Another user in Moreno Valley said it felt like a "gentle roller."

"It was loud," said Gina Dolce on the NBCLA Facebook page. "Sounded like an explosion."

"Shook here in San Jacinto! It was a loud one. Heard it before I felt it!" said another Facebook user.

"I live in Hemet, and we just moved to CA, so it's our first one. Wow...a little freaked and excited! Did not expect the noise...sounded and felt like a train ran right next to the house," said Jennifer Blenk Walsh on Facebook.

Residents as far away as Diamond Bar, Palm Desert and parts of Orange County reported feeling the shaking.

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<![CDATA[Times Square Lights Up in Gold for Childhood Cancer]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 22:37:39 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/169*120/times+square+gold+childhood+cancer.JPG

Children fighting cancer won a big battle Tuesday in getting Times Square and other New York City landmarks to glimmer in gold, the color symbolizing the fight against childhood cancers.

Dozens of children, some in remission and some still fighting cancer, showed up to see the electronic billboards change over from advertisements to a message reading: "A day of yellow and gold to fight childhood cancer."

They remained lit in the golden message for one hour.

One building that wasn't lit in gold Tuesday was the Empire State Building, which denied the request for the special lighting because it came from an individual.

That man, Tony Stoddard, said he's been trying to get the Empire State Building to glow in gold ever since he lost his son in 2012.

"I've been trying to get every landmark across the world to light gold," said the New Hampshire father. 

The denial set off a social media firestorm among people who disagreed with that decision.

Peter Delfino, a Staten Island father of a teenager who fought Hodgkin's Lymphoma last year, said, "The Empire State Building turns colors for different teams and different movies, I don't get it." 

But the controversy may have served as a blessing in disguise, as Times Square served as a backdrop to the important message.

"We hope the 'go gold' initiative brings as much awareness to childhood cancers as the ALS ice bucket challenge has for ALS," said Delfino.

His son Michael was among those gathered in Times Square marveling under the golden lights, and expressed his excitement for a new start after missing school last year while battling Hodgkin's. 

"I feel like it's a full new year because I was only there for three months last year," he said. 

The effort to get Times Square to light up in gold was done mainly by a number of grassroots organizations. 

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<![CDATA[Armed Robber Mugs Woman in Greenwich Village: NYPD]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 21:32:52 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/205*120/greenwich+village+mugging+sept+2.JPG

A woman was mugged while walking in Greenwich Village early Tuesday morning, and police are searching for the suspect, who was captured on video running from the scene.

Police said the 35-year-old victim was walking past 405 Sixth Ave. at about 5 a.m. when the suspect approached her from behind, showed a knife and demanded she turn over her property.

The woman dropped her purse, which contained $300 and an iPhone, and ran away without being hurt, according to police.

Security video captured the suspect holding the victim's purse right after the robbery. 

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

Copyright Associated Press / NBC New York

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<![CDATA[Man Dies in Chain-Reaction Lincoln Tunnel Crash: PA]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 17:33:11 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/chain+reaction+crash+newer.jpg

A passenger died and six other people were hurt in a multi-vehicle accident in the Lincoln Tunnel that brought traffic to a near standstill at the peak of Tuesday's morning rush, authorities say.

A minibus and two other vehicles were involved in the accident in the tunnel's inbound center tube around 8:30 a.m., the Port Authority said. The agency said a red BMW sped into the tunnel and collided with a Mercedes livery van, which collided with the minibus.

A 49-year-old passenger in the Mercedes van had trouble breathing and the emergency was called in as one of cardiac arrest, the Port Authority said. He was taken to St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, where he later died. 

A cause of death hasn't been determined. 

Two other people were taken to the hospital, including the driver of the BMW, who had minor injuries. 

Four other victims refused medical attention at the scene, Port Authority officials said.

The center tube reopened Monday afternoon after remaining closed throughout the morning. All New York City-bound traffic had to use the south tube.

Traffic 4 NY was reporting delays of up to 90 minutes to the toll plaza and traffic backed up to the New Jersey Turnpike.

No charges have been filed.

Chopper 4 showed traffic barely moving as several lines of cars merged. 



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Cats Rescued From Where Animal Remains Were Hanged]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 18:56:35 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/cats+found+yonkers.jpg

Animal rescue workers in Westchester have taken in numerous homeless cats and kittens found in the same location where 25 dead cats were found in plastic bags hanging from a tree last April.

The SPCA of Westchester said workers rescued the cats from Overlook Terrace in Yonkers last week. They'd been living in squalid conditions in a back alley and "multiplied significantly in the last few months," it said in a news release.

All the cats needed immediate veterinary attention for eye infections and upper respiratory ailments, the SPCA said. Their dispositions range from very friendly to feral. 

The agency said some of the cats are social and can be adopted into homes, but it's looking more urgently for barn homes or homes with outdoor structures that can accommodate the feral cats. 

In the meantime, the SPCA is continuing to work the Yonkers Police in the investigation into the violent killings of the cats found hanging from the tree. 

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<![CDATA[Boy Saves Sister, 2, From Abduction]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 23:12:08 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/0902-rooney.jpg

A 14-year-old boy helped save his 2-year-old sister when a man tried to abduct her in Northern Virginia last weekend.

According to a news release from Prince William County police, the incident was reported around 6:40 p.m. in the 1400 block of Geraldine Court in Woodbridge Sunday. 

Police say a stranger picked up a 2-year-old girl who was playing with a group of children in the area and tried to walk away with her.

Her 14-year-old brother saw the man trying to take his sister, followed him and confronted him until the man let his little sister go. 

A witness then followed the accused abductor and called police. Shortly after, 26-year-old Patrick F. Rooney of Woodbridge was arrested and investigators say he was drunk. He's facing attempted abduction charges and is being held behind bars without bond.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC New York

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<![CDATA[Man, 74, Convicted of '80s Killings]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 23:41:17 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/samuellittlecourt011113.jpg

A 74-year-old man was convicted Tuesday of the serial murders of three women who were strangled to death and dumped in alleys in the Los Angeles area in the 1980s.

The third murder occurred almost exactly a quarter of a century ago today.

Samuel Little, who was in his late 40s when the crimes occurred, is facing life in prison without the possibility of parole. Jurors deliberated for about two hours before reaching the verdict.

Semen and other DNA from the victims' clothing matched Little's DNA profile so closely that, for at least two pieces of evidence, the chance of a random match was one in 450 quintillion, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman told jurors, according to City News Service.

He was accused of murdering three women between 1987 and 1989, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said.

A jury of seven women and five men deliberated just two hours before finding Little guilty of the first-degree murders of Carol Alford, 41, on or about July 13, 1987; Audrey Nelson, 35, on or about Aug. 14, 1989; and Guadalupe Apodaca, 46, on or about Sept. 3, 1989.

In April 2012, LAPD detectives were notified that a DNA match was obtained identifying Little as the suspect in Nelson’s murder. DNA matches also came back on the other two victims tying Little to their murders. All three victims were strangled to death.

Little's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Michael Pentz, questioned the evidence, and challenged the prosecutor's insistence that DNA proved his client's guilt, according to CNS.

Pentz told jurors that the DNA results would show "that Mr. Little had nothing to do with the homicides."

Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman said the victims were troubled and had lost their way. Drugs and prostitution made them vulnerable and easy targets for Little.

A grand jury indicted Little in April 2013 of the three murders with the special circumstance of multiple murders. Prosecutors chose not to seek the death penalty.

Little returns to court on Sept. 25 for sentencing.

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<![CDATA[$1.4B Fine for Fatal 2010 Gas Blast]]> Wed, 03 Sep 2014 02:32:12 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/bruno5.jpg

PG&E was hit Tuesday with $1.4 billion in penalties by the California Public Utilities Commission  for safety violations related to the 2010 gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno.

The new fines and penalties bring the total amount Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has been ordered to pay in the wake of the explosion -- which killed eight people and injured 66 others on Sept. 9, 2010 -- to more than $2 billion.

The CPUC said the figure reached by two administrative law judges over the San Bruno pipeline explosion reflected nearly 3,800 violations of state and federal law, regulations and standards by PG&E in the operation of its gas pipelines.

The penalty is meant to ``send a strong message to PG&E, and all other pipeline operators, that they must comply with mandated federal and state pipeline safety requirements, or face severe consequences,'' Timothy J. Sullivan, one of the two judges, wrote in the order.

The largest share -- $950 million -- of the penalty is a fine to be paid directly to the state. That amount drew objections from city officials in San Bruno, the utility and a private ratepayers-advocacy group that the overall penalty should be focused on spending for the safe operation of the aging pipeline network.

``We are accountable and fully accept that a penalty is appropriate,'' the utility said in a statement.

Asked whether PG&E would appeal, utility spokesman Greg Snapper said, ``We're reviewing the decision and believe that any penalty should go toward pipeline safety.''

The recommended penalty requires approval by members of the state utility board. PG&E and other parties in the case have 30 days to lodge an appeal.

The commission previously ordered PG&E to pay $635 million for pipeline modernization in the wake of the Sept. 9, 2010, blast in the suburb of San Francisco. The explosion destroyed more than three dozen homes and was California's deadliest utility disaster in decades.

The blast occurred when a 30-inch natural-gas transmission line installed in 1956 ruptured. At the time, survivors described the heat of the blast burning the back of their necks like a blowtorch as they ran away.

The $1.4 billion penalty also includes $400 million for pipeline improvements, and about $50 million to enhance pipeline safety. PG&E cannot recover any of the money from customers, including the earlier $635 million penalty, although a ratepayers' group called The Utility Reform Network maintained PG&E could raise rates in other rate cases to indirectly offset the penalty.

Sending $950 million to the state's general fund, with no strings attached, means it could be spent in any way the governor and Legislature see fit, said H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the state Department of Finance.

The public utility commission staff recommended in July that the utility pay at least $300 million in fines.

San Bruno city officials were just beginning to study Tuesday's decision but on first read believed the overall judgment fell short of what was needed to ensure PG&E upgraded pipeline safety as much as necessary, city manager Connie Jackson said.

San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane commends the record-setting penalty but said he is disappointed the decision does not include independent oversight to ensure the CPUC and PG&E Follow through on pipeline safety plans.

“We need a revamping,” Ruane said. “We’ve asked for an independent monitor to any future actions by the PUC and the utility – any utility – and a pipeline safety trust who in some way is overseeing that and implementing safer pipeline regulations going forward. So, it’s a very unfortunate situation.”

The mayor said the city is also upset the majority of the fine is going to the state’s general fund.

“This reflects, if you will, a payday for Gov. Jerry Brown, when we believe this money should be directed instead to a safer pipeline system,” Ruane said. “I call on the governor to see that these funds are reinvested for pipeline safety.”

The penalty was historic in terms of financial charges levied against utilities on safety violations, said Britt Strottman, a lawyer for San Bruno. However, ``a lot of the utilities do not cause the same amount of devastation and destruction that was a result of the PG&E explosion in San Bruno,'' Strottman said.

A 2011 investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board concluded the rupture occurred in a weak weld in a pipeline that PG&E records had shown as being smooth and unwelded. Among other safety failings, PG&E let 95 minutes go by before shutting off the natural gas that was fueling the fire, the federal investigators said.

That same 2011 federal investigation also faulted what it called the California Public Utilities Commission's weak oversight of the utility, which serves customers in the northern two-thirds of California.

The San Bruno blast prompted congressional hearings on pipeline safety and recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board and other government bodies that utilities intensify their oversight of decades-old natural gas lines.

This year, federal prosecutors separately indicted PG&E on 27 counts alleging the utility violated pipeline safety requirements.

PG&E faces additional fines of more than $1 billion if convicted of the federal charges, which are separate from the state financial penalties. PG&E has pleaded not guilty to the counts.

Separately, PG&E was hit with about 160 lawsuits from people who lost family members, suffered injuries or had property damage.   

 

Bay City News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Doc Cured of Ebola Thought He'd Die]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 18:50:23 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Lauer+Brantly+Interview+090214.jpg

Dr. Kent Brantly, the American doctor who contracted Ebola while working with relief organization Samaritan's Purse in Liberia, told NBC in an exclusive interview that he felt like he was about to die when he was isolated in a Liberian hospital.

"I said to the nurse who was taking care of me, 'I'm sick. I have no reserve. And I don't know how long I can keep this up,'" the Fort Worth doctor told Matt Lauer in Asheville, North Carolina, where his family has been living in seclusion since he left an Atlanta hospital almost two weeks ago.

A portion of the interview, Brantly's first ever, was airing Tuesday on "Nightly News," and another portion will air Wednesday morning on the "Today" show. The full report will air in an hour-long NBC News primetime special on Friday.

"I said, 'I don't know how you're going to breathe for me when I quit breathing,'" Brantly recalled telling the nurse in Liberia. "'Cause that was the reality. I thought, 'I— I'm not gonna be able to continue breathing this way.' And they had no way to breathe for me if I had to quit breathing."

Brantly's wife Amber, who lived with her husband and children in Liberia, and the doctors who treated him at Emory University Hospital have also spoken with Lauer, and NBC News cameras had exclusive access to the isolation room where Brantly was treated.

Amber described to Lauer how scared she had felt when she found out her husband had contracted Ebola.

"I knew what was coming," she said. "I knew how it ends. I knew how everyone had ended up so far."

Brantly was flown out of Liberia a month ago after contracting Ebola in July. He was isolated and spent three weeks being treated at Emory University Hospital before he was declared cured and discharged on what he called "a miraculous day."

Aid worker Nancy Writebol, 59, was also flown to Emory Hospital for treatment in early August and was quietly released several days before Brantly, also cured of the potentially deadly disease.

On Tuesday, NBC News reported another American missionary doctor has tested positive for Ebola, the aid group SIM USA said. The doctor was treating obstetric patients at ELWA hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, though not in the hospital’s isolation unit, NBC News reported.



Photo Credit: TODAY Show]]>
<![CDATA[HIV Suspect to Stay Off Dating App]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 22:28:10 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/thomas+guerra+0902.jpg

A man accused of knowingly spreading HIV has been ordered by a judge to stay off dating sites, specifically the gay dating app Grindr.

Thomas Guerra, 29, has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor health and safety violation. The Imperial Beach man is accused of giving HIV to an ex-boyfriend after assuring the man he was HIV-negative.

Guerra stood silently behind his attorney in court on Tuesday as prosecutors filed an amended complaint, naming the communicable disease Guerra is accused of transmitting as HIV. 

The judge denied prosecutors' request to increase bail from $2,500 to $50,000, citing he had seen no evidence of additional victims or current online dating activity. However, the judge agreed to bar Guerra from using all dating websites, including Grindr.

According to court documents, Guerra assured the victim he was HIV-negative when they started dating in April 2013.

Guerra said he didn’t know about his infection when his partner contracted the virus, but the victim said he found text messages, videos and emails that proved Guerra knew he had HIV since 2007.

Another man who said he had been a former partner of Guerra’s told NBC 7 that Guerra would tell people he was HIV-negative, have sex with them and then brag about it.

Guerra faces a $1,000 fine and six months in jail if convicted. More charges could be filed against him as the investigation continues, according to the City Attorney’s Office.

Another readiness hearing is scheduled for Oct. 16. A jury trial is set to begin Nov. 13.
 



Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Michael Sam May Sign With Dallas Cowboys: Report]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 17:33:10 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP865141898162.jpg

Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team, is scheduled to undergo a physical exam with the Dallas Cowboys and could join the Cowboys' practice squad, according to NFL.com.

Sam was released Saturday by the St. Louis Rams, who drafted the defensive end in the seventh round of this year's NFL Draft.

Sam, who was named 2013 SEC defensive player of the year at Missouri, led the Rams with six tackles in last week's preseason loss to the Miami Dolphins and had 2.5 sacks in the preseason.

Sam is expected to be in Dallas on Wednesday, and if he passes the physical, he would be added to the team's practice squad, NFL.com reported, citing a team source.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Armed Men Caught on Video Breaking Into NYC Restaurant]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 17:17:25 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/village+restaurant+burglary.jpg

Police are searching for two burglars who were captured on security video breaking into a Greenwich Village restaurant and running off with over $1,000. 

The men broke into the eatery at 79 MacDougal St. while it was closed at about midnight Sunday, according to police. Video shows the suspects breaking down what police say was the door to the office, where they stole $1,000 and then ran away. 

One of the suspects appeared to be carrying a black handgun, police said. No one was hurt. 

Online listings show the Mermaid Oyster Bar is located at the address. The popular restaurant serves up "well-seasoned catch" and is often "packed to the gills," according to Zagat

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

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<![CDATA[Teen Collapses, Dies During Football Practice]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 20:21:30 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/miles+kirkland+staten+island+advance.jpg

A Staten Island teenager died after collapsing during varsity football practice Monday morning, officials say. 

Miles Kirkland, a 16-year-old junior at Curtis High School, collapsed during practice and was pronounced dead at Richmond University Medical Center, the FDNY said. 

Teammate Marcus Haskell said Kirkland was going for water and "he just collapsed."

Amad Anderson, another teammate, said, "We don't know what happened but he just fell. I think he was overheated, probably." 

The medical examiner's office will determine how he died.

In a statement, schools chancellor Carmen Farina said, "I am deeply saddened to learn of this tragic loss and my heart goes out to the family. We will be supporting the school community as we investigate the matter."

Curtis Athletic Director Eric Ritzer told the Staten Island Advance, "As you can imagine it was a very emotional scene. Most of the team, if not all of the team, was there. All of us are trying to fathom what just happened." 

Kirkland, who was 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighed 295 pounds, played as an offensive and defensive lineman, according to a scouting report for the upcoming season obtained by the newspaper.  

"He really loved the game," said Haskell. 

Kirkland's mother was "taking it very, very hard," according to the boy's grandmother Florence McNatt. "She has not stopped crying."

The Public School Athletic League requires all exercise to stop if the temperature reaches 85 degrees and the humidity reaches 80 percent, according to the Advance. It was about 78 degrees with 75 percent humidity at about 10 a.m. on Staten Island, the paper reported. 

In 2012, Staten Island teen Nicholas Dellaventura died after a voluntary football practice at his school St. Joseph-by-the-Sea. 

Anderson said players at Curtis High School get plenty of breaks and water. 

"We always have the hose running. Since there were past incidents with football players, we get a lot of water breaks now," he said. 

Grief counselors were on hand at the school Tuesday, which officially opens for the new academic year on Thursday. Classmates and friends set up a memorial with candles for Kirland.

"I've been crying all day, ever since I found out," said senior Shanice Sky. 

At Tuesday's meeting, the coach told the team to play in Kirkland's honor. 

"He said this season's gotta be for Miles, and we gotta work hard now," said Anderson. "He's watching above us and we gotta go to work." 

-- Rob Schmitt contributed to this report. 



Photo Credit: Staten Island Advance]]>
<![CDATA[Cab Jumps Curb, Hits Woman on Brooklyn Sidewalk: FDNY]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 18:04:41 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/atlantic+avenue+car+ax+bk.jpg

A livery cab jumped the curb and hit a woman on a Brooklyn sidewalk Tuesday afternoon, authorities say.

Fire officials say they responded to Atlantic Avenue and Court Street in Cobble Hill after getting a report of a person struck shortly before 1 p.m.

Authorities said the 29-year-old woman who was hit was unconscious when they arrived. She was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries, police said.

It wasn't clear why the car jumped the curb. Safari Car Service said the vehicle belonged to its fleet of livery cabs but had no further comment. 
 



Photo Credit: @ejcory/Instagram]]>
<![CDATA[NJ Man Accused of Sexually Assaulting 11-Year-Old Girl]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 15:29:28 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Luis+Elias+Velasco.jpg

A 41-year-old man is accused of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl in New Jersey, authorities said.

Police arrested Luis Higinio Elias Velasco, of Cliffside Park, after they say an investigation revealed he had engaged in inappropriate sexual activity with a young girl, who they describe as an acquaintance of his.

Velasco was charged with aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child, with bail set at $500,000.

Information on an attorney for Velasco was not immediately available.

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<![CDATA[Tractor-Trailer Eviscerated in NJ Turnpike Fire]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 20:18:14 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/trailer+fire.jpg

The driver of a tractor-trailer suffered a laceration to the arm when the truck became engulfed in flames on the New Jersey Turnpike Tuesday afternoon, causing traffic delays, authorities said.

Officials said the cab struck a guard rail and the trailer, which was carrying mixed merchandise, became detached and ended up on a grass median at around 1:30 p.m on the outer roadway of the highway's southbound lanes near Exit 10.

The cause of the accident may have been a blownout tire, police said. The driver was taken to a nearby hospital and his injuries are not considered life threatening. No other injuries were reported.

Video from Instagram user @bfarley showed thick black smoke billowing into the air. Chopper 4 captured video of the charred carcass of the tractor-trailer on the highway.

The vehicle was virtually eviscerated.

All southbound lanes on the turnpike have since been reopened.
 



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[PATH Service Restored After Bridge Fire]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 18:14:39 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/kearny+fire+path+suspension.jpg

Service on the Newark-World Trade Center PATH has been restored after firefighters put out a fire along a section of its train tracks. 

The Kearny Fire Department said it received a call for a fire on the Hackensack Bridge, which contains a set of PATH train tracks, over the Hackensack River shortly after 3 p.m. 

It's not clear what caused the fire. 

Passengers should expect residual delays. 



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[College Student Sexually Assaulted in Fairfield, Conn.]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 20:22:15 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/fairfield+sketch.jpg

Police are searching for a man who sexually assaulted and robbed a Sacred Heart University student in Fairfield, Conn.

The student was assaulted and robbed around 3 a.m. Monday after the attacker entered her home on Berkeley Road in the Tunxis Hill neighborhood, police said.

Authorities have released a sketch of the suspect (see above).

Sacred Heart University says it's offering the student and her family counseling and any other assistance they may need. The school said safety is its "highest priority" for both on-campus and off-campus students, and regularly discusses safety tips during floor meetings and through other correspondence. 

Fairfield Police are investigating.

"Anybody who dares to go into someone's home at night when they're home, especially when the home is occupied, in my book is an extremely dangerous person," said Fairfield Police Lt. James Perez. 

Longtime resident Antoinette Odierna said news of the attack has shattered her four decades of peace in the quiet neighborhood.

"I can't talk right when I hear this," she said. "I'm a mother, a grandmother and a great-grandmother. You don't want to hear this."

Anyone with information on the suspect or the attack should call the Fairfield Police Detective Bureau at 203-254-4840.

-- Marc Santia contributed to this report 
 



Photo Credit: Fairfield Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Stranger Tries to Strangle Great-Grandma on Stoop: NYPD]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 07:17:11 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/elderly+woman+attacked+hoodie.jpg

Police are investigating after a stranger allegedly approached an elderly woman sitting on the front stoop of her Brooklyn home, threw her to the ground and tried to strangle her with his sweatshirt, police say. 

The 88-year-old victim, Barije Mati, was sitting in a lawn chair in front of her Kensington home on Saturday afternoon when the suspect approached her and tried talking to her, her son Luftim Mati told reporters Monday. 

"She got up, she got scared. She grabs the chair and tried to take the chair home," Mati said. "Next thing, he grabs the chair from her and throws it on the floor." 

As the elderly woman went to go back into her building, the suspect pushed her up the steps and onto the landing leading to the apartments on the first floor, according to her son, who is also the building superintendent.

Once on the landing, the suspect allegedly grabbed the woman and pushed her back into her apartment, where the door was open.

Barije Mati's daughter-in-law heard her screaming from next door, rushed to the apartment and found the suspect on top of the woman, allegedly trying to choke her with a red hooded sweatshirt, her son and police said. 

"She screams, 'What are you doing?' and starts hitting him with the broomstick," said Mati, and the suspect took off.

Barije was treated for bruises and released from Maimonides Hospital. She said in her native Albanian that she's shocked and scared, and that she "can't stand still, she's so frightened," according to her son, who translated for her. 

"She didn't come out all day," said Mati, who sat with his mother in their lawn chairs in front of their home Monday evening. "Now she came out because she saw me."

The great-grandmother was in tears as she said to her son, "Why did it happen to me?"

The victim said that if her daughter-in-law did not come, "she would have been dead," said Mati.

Police said the woman did not know her alleged attacker. Nothing was stolen from her, and a motive remains unclear. 

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

-- Checkey Beckford contributed to this report 

Copyright Associated Press / NBC New York

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<![CDATA[Mom Accused of Driving Drunk With Son in Car: Police]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 13:11:52 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/dwi+generic.jpg

Police have arrested a Manhattan mother they say drove drunk on a Long Island highway with her 3-year-old son in the car.

Police stopped a 2004 Chevrolet Trailblazer on the Long Island Expressway Monday night near Exit 49 north in Huntington for veering out of the lane, according to the Suffolk County Police Department.

The stopping officer arrested the woman on felony DWI charges after an interview. She was also charged with endangering the welfare of a child and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.

The child was put in a family member’s custody.

The woman, 32, was set to be arraigned in Islip on Tuesday.

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<![CDATA[Mom Accused of Driving Drunk With Son in Car: Police]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 07:25:59 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/dwi+generic.jpg

Police have arrested a Manhattan mother they say drove drunk on a Long Island highway with her 3-year-old son in the car.

Police stopped a 2004 Chevrolet Trailblazer on the Long Island Expressway Monday night near Exit 49 north in Huntington for veering out of the lane, according to the Suffolk County Police Department.

The stopping officer arrested the woman on felony DWI charges after an interview. She was also charged with endangering the welfare of a child and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.

The child was put in a family member’s custody.

The woman, 32, was set to be arraigned in Islip on Tuesday.

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<![CDATA[Today Is the Hottest Day of the Year]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 20:38:19 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/hot+weather.jpg

Tuesday was the hottest day of the year thus far, with temperatures reaching a steamy 92 degrees at Central Park by 3 p.m., Storm Team 4 says.

The mercury has hit the 90s six times in the city this year prior to the sizzler Tuesday, but it hasn't surpassed 91 degrees.

Highs across the interior of New Jersey were also expected to reach the 90s Tuesday. An air quality alert is in effect in New York City, New Jersey, Westchester, Long Island and Fairfield, Connecticut.

Scattered, strong thunderstorms may dispel the humidity later in the day, Storm Team 4 says, especially in areas north and west of the city. It's unlikely severe weather will pass through the tri-state area, but the best chance for potential downpours is between 3 p.m. and midnight, according to Storm Team 4.

Temperatures are expected to linger in the high 80s the rest of the week amid mostly sunny skies and muggy area. The chance for scattered showers returns over the weekend.

Health officials say six Long Island beaches that were closed for one day have reopened to swimming.
 
The Nassau County beaches were closed Monday due to storm water runoff that could negatively impact bacterial levels.
 
The beaches were: Laurel Hollow Beach, Morgan Beach, North Hempstead Beach Park, Sea Cliff Village Beach, Tappen Beach and Theodore Roosevelt Beach.
 
Updates on beach closings and openings are available at 516-227-9700.
 

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<![CDATA[Flight From NYC Diverted Over Reclining Seat: Report]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 23:00:11 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Delta-Plane-Generic.jpg

A flight from LaGuardia International Airport to Palm Beach International Airport had to divert after a pair of passengers got into a fight over a reclining seat, according to published reports.

Delta airlines told NBC affiliate WPTV in West Palm Beach that Flight 2370 landed in Jacksonville, Florida, “due to safety reasons in regard to a passenger issue.”

A witness on the plane told WPTV that a woman who was knitting tried to recline her seat, angering a woman who was trying to sleep on the tray table.

The two argued, with the woman who was trying to sleep getting angry and cursing. A flight attendant came over, the witness said, and she demanded that the flight land at the nearest airport.

"She said something to the fact that 'I don't care about the consequences, put this plane down now,'" he said.

The passenger was escorted off the plane by police when it landed at Jacksonville International Airport, WPTV reports. The rest of the passengers then continued on to Palm Beach.

It's the third time recently that authorities said a flight was diverted because of an argument over reclining seats.

On Aug. 24, a flight from Newark was diverted when passengers got into a dispute after one passenger attached a clip to a tray table that prevented the person in front from reclining, officials have said.

Days later, a flight from Miami to Paris stopped in Boston after a man allegedly grabbed a flight crew member after becoming angry about the reclined seat in front of him.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Taxi Sharing Could Reduce Traffic, Air Pollution: Study]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 06:52:50 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/generic+taxi+vg.jpg

If New Yorkers who normally took taxis alone would share their cab with a stranger, the city could cut the size of its taxi fleet by up to 40 percent, according to a new study.

The study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and reported by the New York Times, found that if passengers rode together it would unclog busy streets, conserve fuel and decrease air pollution in the city without drastically increasing the length of their trips.

“The predicted economic and environmental savings are considerable,” said Steven Strogatz, a Cornell mathematician who authored the study.

The researchers made their findings after parsing through a database compiled by a city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission database of taxi pickups and drop-offs in 2011, the Times reports.

They then combined trips that were headed in the same direction at around the same time, finding that the number of taxis could be cut by 40 percent without greatly affecting arrival time.

Some New Yorkers told the Times they were skeptical of the idea. Former cabbie Gene Saloman, who wrote “Confessions of a New York City Taxi Driver,” said a shared taxi system wouldn’t work because passengers are willing to pay extra to have a private ride.

“New Yorkers do not like to share cabs,” he told the Times.



Photo Credit: Valeria Gonzalez]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Arrested After Baby, Drugs Found in Hot Car: Cops]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 23:02:37 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/mom+accused+child+hot+car.jpg

A Long Island woman was arrested after she was allegedly found sitting in a parked car half-conscious with several bags of heroin and a baby sweating profusely in the back seat.

Officers found the 28-year-old woman slumped over in a Dodge parked in a lot off the Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown at about 2:30 p.m. Monday, according to the Suffolk County Police Department.

The infant was moving around in a seat in the back of the car, which police say was locked and had its windows rolled up.

Officers say they knocked on the window until the woman got out. She was then placed under arrest. Police say they found a hypodermic needle and three bags of heroin.

The infant was taken to the hospital for heat exhaustion and was held overnight for observation.

The woman, Jessica Rosengart, was charged with endangering the welfare of a child and two counts of reckless endangerment.

She also faces criminal contempt charges because she allegedly violated a court order barring her from being with the child alone or possessing drugs. It's not clear if she has an attorney. 



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Homeowner Interrupting Burglary Stabbed to Death: Cops]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 21:13:02 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/si+home+invasion.jpg

A 67-year-old man was stabbed to death and his wife was injured after the couple came upon a burglary at their Staten Island home, police say.

Authorities responded to a call of an assault in progress at a home in Woodrow Sunday night and discovered 67-year-old Peter Gialuisi with stab wounds to his face and hand and his 66-year-old wife with stab wounds to her head, neck and back.

The two were rushed to a nearby hospital, where Gialuisi was later pronounced dead. His wife is recovering and was listed in stable condition Monday, officials said.

Police said the couple was attacked after they returned home and discovered the burglar in the house.

Relatives told NBC 4 New York that Gialuisi and his wife Vincenza were at their son's house in New Jersey celebrating a birthday before coming home to find the burglar.

A 20-year-old suspect was arrested in the deadly attack Monday. Police said Dante Viggiano, of Staten Island, was charged with murder, attempted murder, burglary, criminal possession of a weapon and criminal mischief. 

Viggiano was arraigned Tuesday at Staten Island University Hospital, where he's been ordered to undergo a psychiatric examination. His next court proceeding is scheduled for Sept. 29. 

Viggiano's attorney declined to comment. 

Gialuisi's brother-in-law Angelo Gallo, who lives in the back unit of the couple's home, had returned with them from New Jersey and was still in the garage when he heard the screams. He said Tuesday Viggiano wasn't known to the family. 

"We never knew this guy," he said. "We don't deal with these people." 

Copyright Associated Press / NBC New York

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<![CDATA[AA Flight From LA to DFW Lands Due to Cracked Windshield]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 13:25:22 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/160*120/AA2488+cracked+windshield.jpg

An American Airlines flight headed for Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Monday immediately returned to Los Angeles International Airport after the cockpit windshield cracked.

Flight 2448 landed at LAX without incident and passengers boarded another plane for the trip to DFW.

The flight landed about 9:15 p.m., several hours later than originally planned.

"We were flying for about 20 minutes, and we just heard an announcement that the windshield cracked. The captain said in all his years of flying, he had never seen anything like it and that the safest thing to do was to turn around and go back to L.A.," said passenger Mark Denesuk.

A photo from passenger Glenn Kagan showed a series of cracks that covered the entire left side of the windshield in the cockpit of the Boeing 757.

"The captain and the crew were incredible. They were absolutely calm at all times. Never raised their voice. Never put fear in anybody. And the old adage is true, calm is contagious," said passenger Arthur Underman.

American Airlines spokesman Paul Flanagan said there were no injuries and the cause of the damage wasn't immediately known.



Photo Credit: Glenn Kagan]]>
<![CDATA[Man Shot in Face, Teen Grazed in Shooting: NYPD]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 20:51:50 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/tlmd_police_tape_lights_generic_thumbnail.jpg

Police are investigating after a man and a teen were wounded in a shooting on a Bronx street Monday evening. 

Police say the 34-year-old man was shot in the face and the 14-year-old boy was grazed in the shooting on East 143rd Street in Mott Haven at about 5:45 p.m.

It's not clear if the victims were targeted. No arrest has been made, and the gunman may have fled in a dark-colored SUV, police said. 

One person was taken to Lincoln Hospital. It's not clear what condition he was in. 

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<![CDATA[Smoke Billows From Flatiron Building]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 22:28:57 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/fire+flatiron+adie+kreigstein.jpg

A two-alarm fire tore through a Flatiron restaurant in Manhattan late Monday afternoon, traveling up to the roof and sending up heavy black smoke through the area, authorities say.

The FDNY says it got a call for the fire at 688 Sixth Ave., near 22nd Street, shortly before 5 p.m. 

A fire official on the scene said it appears the fire started inside a Spanish restaurant on the first floor of the three-story commercial building, then went up to the roof through duct work. 

The restaurants and stores on the ground floor near where the fire started were evacuated by the time firefighters arrived, the official said. 

Two firefighters suffered minor injuries while battling the fire, the FDNY said. 

Officials are looking into how the fire started. 



Photo Credit: @akreigstein/Instagram]]>
<![CDATA[Son Charged With Murder After Mom Found Stabbed, Beaten to Death]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 09:33:17 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ho+ho+kus+murder.jpg

Murder charges have been filed against a 24-year-old New Jersey man accused of stabbing and beating his mother to death.

Bail for Nicholas Piotti was set at $2 million. Prosecutors say he allegedly beat and stabbed his 63-year-old mother, Karen Piotti, killing her inside the home they shared in Ho-Ho-Kus. Her body was found early Monday.

Piotti was taken into police custody and was being evaluated at Bergen County Medical Center. Authorities say he had no "physical issues." 

Neighbors said the news has devastated those who knew the family.

"I only heard nice things about Nicholas," said Donna Cioffi. "I used to see him skateboarding up and down Powderhorn Road, like any other teenager would do. I never had any issues with him."

"It's just devastating to a hear a 24-year-old can take his mother's life," she said. "No matter what the situation or circumstance is, you have to believe there's something very wrong behind that. It's very, very unnerving."

Gerry Pearce said the death of Karen Piotti was incomprehensible.

"This neighborhood is unbelievably nice, quiet," he said. "You never hear anything like this happen here."  

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