<![CDATA[NBC New York - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com en-us Mon, 30 Mar 2015 09:11:07 -0400 Mon, 30 Mar 2015 09:11:07 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[ Baby Critical, 7 Other Injured in Queens Car Crash: FDNY]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 04:09:57 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ambulancegeneric.jpg

A baby is in critical condition and seven others were injured in a multiple car crash Sunday in Queens, according to the FDNY.

Authorities say the crash happened at about 8 p.m. on the Cross Island Parkway and Linden Boulevard in Cambria Heights.

The victims were taken to Long Island Jewish Hospital, where the baby is listed in critical condition. Three of the victims were listed as serious, but stable. The other four sustained minor injuries.

It was not immediately clear what caused the crash.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rutgers Hit by Cyber Attacks From China, Ukraine: Source]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 09:00:21 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/generic-computer-722.jpg

Cyber attacks apparently originating from China and Ukraine interrupted Rutgers' computer network during the past two days, university officials and a source within the school said Sunday.

The university sent an email at 2:30 p.m. Sunday to tens of thousands of students to acknowledge that its network had been the victim of a cyber attack. An hour earlier, the university's website went offline for at least 15 minutes.
"The Rutgers Office of Information Technology (OIT) has been working around the clock to resolve service interruptions caused by a Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) that began Friday afternoon," read the email from Don Smith, Rutgers vice president of Information Technology.
The FBI is investigating the cyber attacks, a university source told NBC 4 New York, adding that the attacks came from unidentified parties in China and Ukraine.
No information was available as to whether any academic or personal data was compromised.

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<![CDATA[3 Injured in 3-Car Crash on Garden State Parkway: Police]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 02:33:51 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/crash-generic.jpg

Three people sustained minor injuries following a three-car crash in New Jersey, police say.

The crash happened at about midnight Monday on the northbound lanes of the Garden State Parkway just before exit 143 in Irvington, according to authorities.

The three people were taken to University Hospital in New Jersey. The cause of the crash was not immediately known. 

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<![CDATA[Officer Thrown Off Horse, Injured at Greek Festival]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 01:34:41 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/de+blasio+greek+fest.jpg

An NYPD officer was injured after an issue with a police horse during Sunday’s Greek Independence Day Festival, according to the mayor.

Mayor de Blasio said the unidentified officer was taken to the hospital with an ankle injury.

The New York Post reports the officer was patrolling Sixth Avenue near Central Park around 2 p.m. when his horse was startled for an unknown reason and the officer fell to the ground, bringing the parade to a halt for about 10 minutes.

The mayor, Governor Cuomo and some commanding officers stood by the injured officer as he was loaded onto a stretcher and transported to the hospital. 

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<![CDATA[JetBlue Computers Back Online After Outage]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 09:01:28 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/Jetblue+System+Down+2.jpg

A computer outage that caused delays for thousands of JetBlue Airways passengers early Monday morning has been resolved, the company said.

JetBlue Airways said it had fixed a systemwide computer problem by 6:15 a.m. Eastern that has caused delays because the airline had to manually check in passengers.

NBC News reported that the airline had to issue handwritten boarding passes to passengers at many airports.

 

The company said in an email that passengers might experience delays throughout the day. It did not specify how long it would take to work through delays and get operations back to normal.

The airline did not immediately respond to inquiries on how many flights were affected, but passengers at airports in Boston; Orlando, Fla., and Washington, D.C., took to social media to report long lines and delays. 



Photo Credit: Charlie Field
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<![CDATA[Man, Grandsons Shot at With Paintballs in Possible Hate Crime]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 03:28:10 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/paintball-gun.jpg

Police are investigating after an Orthodox Jewish man and his two teenage grandsons were shot at with paintball guns in Brooklyn Friday.

The elderly Hasidic man was not hit, but his 13 and 16-year-old grandsons were struck by paintballs at Morton Street near Juliana Place in Williamsburg, police said.

Authorities said the 13-year-old was struck in the heel of his shoe and the 16-year-old was struck on his body. Neither was seriously injured.

Police said there were no witnesses, no cars at the scene and the suspects did not say anything to the victims before or after the incident.

The incident was not reported until 9:50 p.m. Saturday because of the Sabbath.

Police say this is the second attack of its kind that week. Authorities say a Hasidic man was struck in the shoulder with a paintball on Kent Avenue near Hewes Street on March 23.

The man was not seriously injured.

It was not immediately clear if the two incidents are linked, but both are being investigated as possible hate crimes. 

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<![CDATA[Woman Struck, Killed by Amtrak Train: Police]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 00:35:58 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/amtrak+generic.jpg

A woman died after being hit by an Amtrak train in Connecticut on Sunday, disrupting train service in that area, according to police.

The train crashed into the person on track 4 on the New Haven-bound track around 5:45 p.m. in Fairfield, causing delays. All tracks in the area were shut down, according to Metro-North spokesman Marjorie Anders. 

The investigation is ongoing, but Fairfield police tell News 12 Connecticut  the woman appeared to be trying to cross the tracks to reach a platform on the other side when she was struck. 

The incident was affecting all train service in the area, including 30 minute delays on the New Haven Line of Metro-North. However, Metro-North trains aren't expected to be greatly impacted because not as many trains come through on Sundays.

No further information was immediately available.



Photo Credit: Chris Van Horne]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Dies in New Jersey House Fire: Report]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 08:16:09 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/garfield+fire.jpg

One person is dead following a fire in New Jersey Sunday evening.

The house fire on River Drive in Garfield was first spotted by a police officer who attempted to rescue the person that was stuck inside, according to the Bergen Record.

He called in the fire and attempted to enter the house, but the flames pushed him out, authorities told the Record.

The fire started in the kitchen on the first floor of the two-story home, authorities said. The cause of the fire was not immediately known. 

The victim has been identified as Denise D'Agostino.

A cat was rescued at the scene.



Photo Credit: Bergen Record]]>
<![CDATA[Cyclone Gets Stuck, Forcing Riders to Climb Down]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 06:25:39 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/032915coney.jpg

The legendary Coney Island Cyclone gave passengers a scare Sunday when it got stuck on its first public run of the season, forcing a number of riders to climb down the wooden structure on foot.

All the passengers - attending what were to have been leisurely festivities to mark the reopening of Luna Park for the season - appeared to have escaped the roller coaster unharmed. But some said the slow climb from high up on the open structure left them feeling shaken.

"It was terrifying, because I was up there and everything was spinning," Gabriella Centeno said after she reached solid ground. "I didn't know what to do."

Anna Dartany said the park staffers' assistance made climbing down possible.

"I'm scared of heights," she said, "but with their help I made it down. ... This was insane."

Angie Morris, brand manager at Luna Park, said the historic roller coaster had undergone tests over the past month ahead of Sunday's season opening. Such a problem hadn't occurred for a very long time, she said, although she declined to specify how long.

She said the Cyclone would be back up and running within a matter of hours.

Despite the less-than-summery temperatures, longtime fans had flocked to the roller coaster Sunday morning to celebrate the amusement park's reopening and to take advantage of free tickets being offered to the first 100 people who showed up to ride the wooden icon.

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<![CDATA[Officers Sustain Minor Injuries in Police Cruiser Crash: NYPD]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 02:27:06 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/nypd+generic+resizzed.jpg

Two NYPD officers sustained minor injuries following a crash involving their police cruiser in Queens, authorities said.

The crash happened just before 12:30 a.m. Monday in Ozone Park, police said.

Only one car was involved in the crash, the cause of which was unknown, authorities said. No civilians were involved. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NJ Police Seek Suspect in Kidnapping, Sex Assault]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 06:28:31 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/kidnap+copy.jpg

New Jersey police are searching for a man who allegedly dragged a woman into an abandoned home and sexually assaulted her.

Craig N. Hall, 23, is suspected of grabbing the woman Saturday afternoon and forcing her into a vacant house on Bloomfield Avenue in Paterson. He is accused of sexually attacking her there and then taking her to his apartment on Main Street where he assaulted her again, investigators said Sunday.

The woman escaped when Hall left his apartment, police said. She was taken to St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center.

Hall faces charges of kidnapping and sexual assault, investigators said. 

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<![CDATA[Missing Student's Sorority Search]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 08:09:10 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/u+of+minnesota.jpg

A University of Minnesota student and member of a sorority has gone missing, and Minneapolis police have now asked for the public's help in finding her.

Jennifer Houle, 22, was last seen around 1 a.m. Friday at the Blarney Bar in Dinkytown, a neighborhood in Minneapolis, police told NBC News. Houle’s purse was found two hours later about three blocks away from the bar.

Houle is a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority at the university. Her sorority sisters posted a message on Facebook asking for the public to join the search. "We need all the help we can get to find this warm-hearted, beautiful person." The message has been shared more than 8,000 times.

 

Our sister, Jen Houle is still missing. She was last seen in this outfit at 1am Friday March 27th in Dinkytown. We need...

Posted by Pi Beta Phi UMN on Saturday, March 28, 2015

Friends and family plan to host a prayer vigil Sunday night at Stillwater Area High School. Houle graduated from Stillwater in 2011, according to Minnesota Public Radio News.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Possible Gas-Line Tampering Eyed in Blast: Sources]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 12:09:17 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/The_Last_View.jpg

Authorities are investigating whether the gas line in a basement below a sushi restaurant was rigged in a possible gas-theft scheme, causing the leak that may have set off Thursday's fiery explosion in the East Village. Two dozen people were injured and two still are missing after the blast that leveled three buildings.

"There is a possibility here that the gas line was inappropriately accessed internally by people in the building," but officials need to get access to the wreckage to explore it further, Mayor de Blasio said during a press conference Friday. He wouldn't say more about why officials believe that's a possibility.

Sources familiar with the investigation tell NBC 4 New York that in August inspectors found the gas line in the basement rigged with a rubber hose to circumvent the Con Edison gas meter. This could have saved money and perhaps allowed for gas to flow to some apartments that had not yet been cleared for service. Safety violations were registered and an immediate shut down was ordered until the problem was corrected, the sources said.

No one was charged with any wrongdoing at that time and the case was treated as a safety violation by inspectors, the sources said.  Investigators now want to know if a similar gas-theft scheme was being employed again. The investigation is in its beginning stages and nothing has been ruled out, the sources said. 

The contractors working on the Sushi Park restaurant did not have permits for gas work, the mayor said Friday.

The Manhattan District Attorney's office has joined the NYPD, fire marshals and building inspectors in the probe into the cause of the explosion that sparked a fire that could smolder for days in the rubble of three buildings that once occupied Second Avenue and E. 7th Street.

Firefighters were still working to put out hot spots Friday, Chopper 4 video over the scene shows, and rescue workers with K9 units were on the scene searching for the two missing people. Con Ed has shut off gas to 187 residential customers and 32 commercial customers in the area as the FDNY continues its recovery work. 

Inspectors with Con Ed had been to the East Village building to check on ongoing work to upgrade gas service. The utility said the work didn't pass inspection, so gas wasn't introduced to the line, and inspectors gave instructions and left at around 2:45 p.m. Con Ed said inspectors didn't smell any gas.

But at around 3 p.m., the sushi restaurant owner smelled gas and called the landlord, who then called a general contractor, Boyce said. No one called 911 or Con Ed, however, de Blasio said.

The contractor, Dilber Kukic, and the owner's son went into the basement and opened a door, and then the explosion happened, burning their faces, NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said.

"The whole area was shaking," said Moishe Perl, who works next door. "We couldn't imagine what was going on." 

The building had an existing gas line intended to serve the sushi restaurant; the work underway was to put in a bigger line to serve the entire building, Con Ed President Craig Ivey said. As for whether the apartments were getting gas from the existing line, "That's a great question," he said.

"We'll have to find out, through the investigation, what's going on there," he said.

Con Edison later added in a statement: "As we do in all cases when a customer is upgrading to a new gas service, we conducted careful inspections at 121 2nd Avenue. Our records show the work of the building's plumber failed two inspections, including the inspection our personnel conducted yesterday afternoon. At no time was use of the new service line authorized by Con Edison. That service was locked to ensure that it would not be used. The ground-floor restaurant was being served by its current, smaller gas service line."

Calls to the building owner were unanswered. The owner's son reached by phone in his hospital room declined to comment. The listed contractor did not return messages. A subcontractor hired to handle gas lines did not return calls for comment. 

City records show the contractor, Dilber Kukic, got a permit last June for plumbing, flooring, removing partition walls and other work at the building.

Kukic had tried to help people escape the explosion and had been helpful to authorities, Boyce said.

The contractor -- who's facing unrelated charges of bribing an undercover investigator posing as a housing inspector -- was injured in the blast declined through his lawyer to comment on the circumstances surrounding the explosion.

Kukic is a relatively minor player in a 50-person bribery case that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. and other authorities unveiled last month. They said city inspectors, landlords and contractors formed a network of graft that exchanged $450,000 in payoffs to get safety violations dismissed, procure phony eviction orders and get fast, favorable and sometimes nonexistent inspections.

Kukic is accused of paying $600 in cash to try to get housing violations dismissed at two upper Manhattan properties he owned. He has pleaded not guilty. 

Twenty-two people were injured in the blast, four critically, city officials said Friday. Among the injured were six firefighters. Patients with non-life threatening injuries were continuing to be treated and released from local hospitals.

Meanwhile, businesses and residents who occupied the three buildings that were destroyed are trying to pick up the pieces. Dozens of people and businesses were displaced at least temporarily by the blast. Eleven buildings were evacuated following the explosion, though NYPD officers allowed some residents to return briefly to their apartments Friday to grab a few items. 

Chelsea Blampied, who lived in one of the leveled buildings, said she'd stopped home to get a work file from her third-floor apartment when she heard and felt the blast. 

"I thought a plane crashed into my building. Glass was blown everywhere, and it was just so surreal," she said. 

"I just heard a really loud boom," recounted neighbor Justine Miller. "I could feel it in my chest." 

Neighbor Troy Hinson was walking to the sushi restaurant when it "literally blew up in front of my face," and said "it really felt like my internal organs were reverberating. It just feels like everything was shaking, including my teeth."

"You just don't know what hit you, it just feels like a sonic boom, there's no real other way to describe it," he said. 

Blampied left behind all her belongings and ran through smoke and debris down the stairs to safety as her building began to crumble. She's now staying with friends and is grateful she made it out alive. 

"It's so overwhelming. Everyone lost everything," she said. 

Gregory Dohdanowycz was in his top-floor apartment in the building next to where the blast happened. 

"I look out the window, and I see two buildings south of me, there's smoke rising from the windows and their roof windows," he said.

He only had time to grab his dog before running outside, and was overwhelmed by the horrific sights and sounds when he got outside. 

Neighbor Miller said: "There was blood on the ground. There were people laying up against buildings and other people trying to help them."

Actress Drea de Matteo is among the residents who lost her home and belongings in the explosion. She took to Instagram Thursday to share two dramatic photos of firefighters battling smoke and flames. "A hole where my NYC home of the last 22 years once stood," she wrote in one caption. "RIP 123 2nd Avenue." The photos appeared to be taken from a rooftop across the street.

Naya Jones, who spent the night at the YMCA after being told to leave her building near the blast site, went to the Tompkins Square Library Friday, where the Red Cross and other relief groups were offering financial assistance, food, vouchers and advocacy help. 

The Red Cross said it has helped more than 80 people since the blast and gave housing assistance to 30. The Standard Hotel is giving anyone displaced by the blaze three free nights of lodging. Sprint has also donated 25 cellphones. 

The ASPCA is also providing pet supplies for owners in the affected area.

"It's a small community," said Bohdanowycz. "I think everyone is trying to help out when something bad happens." 

Hinson, who's lived in the neighborhood four years, said, "I love the sense of community, and everybody comes together and helps each other out and is here for each other." 

Several long-standing businesses were also affected by the destruction. Pommes Frites, a favorite spot for fries, was destroyed by the blast, and the nearby Orpheum Theater had to cancel performances of the off-Broadway production of "Stomp."

Robert Seniuk, the chef at Stage restaurant across the street, is determined to get back to work.

"We open, we don't give up. This city is 24 hours," he said. 

Nevertheless, the frightening explosion has taken a toll on the psyche of New Yorkers everywhere.

"Yesterday was a very scary day. Now all I can do is think about the people who lost their homes and people who've been living here for decades," said neighbor Adam Mashaal. 

Hinson said he had stopped on the corner to say goodbye to his friend just before the sushi restaurant exploded.

"The fact that I was literally -- if I didn't stop and talk to my friend, I would possibly be in that building," he said. "That's kind of what's messing me up... All these crazy thoughts are going through your head after this happens, like, why me? Why am I safe, why is something again happening to me? It's just crazy. I'm having just a hard time processing it." 

Health officials say the air quality in the area has returned to normal levels and that short-term exposure to elevated particulate levels Thursday didn't pose a significant risk to the public. They say the smoke odor may linger, but isn't harmful. Still, those with respiratory or heart problems should remain extra vigilant. 

The explosion comes a week after the one-year anniversary of the East Harlem explosion that leveled two buildings and killed eight people. The blast also injured dozens of people and left many homeless for months.

Since the 2014 explosion, the FDNY has been given a much greater role in responding to reports of possible gas leaks and New Yorkers are now encouraged to call 911 about gas leaks and odors rather than 311.



Photo Credit: @The_Last_View/Twitter ]]>
<![CDATA[Boston Police Officer in Surgery]]> Sun, 29 Mar 2015 19:12:14 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/John+Moynihan.jpg

A Boston police officer honored for his role in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings is in stable and improving condition after undergoing successful surgery.

Officer John T. Moynihan, 34, was critically injured Friday night during a shootout in the city's Roxbury neighborhood. He had been in a medically induced coma at Boston Medical Center since the shooting.

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans met with doctors Sunday, who told him the bullet was removed from his neck after several hours of surgery.

Moynihan is expected to get out of intensive care in the days ahead.

"I'm thankful to the doctors and medical team at Boston Medical Center for taking such good care of my officer," said Evans in a statement. "I was happy to hear that he made it through surgery without any complications, it shows you what a strong kid he is and what a great medical team they have here."

A healing service was held for Moynihan Sunday morning at St. Patrick's Church in Roxbury to coincide with the scheduled surgery. Many law enforcement officers were present to support their brother in blue.

The shootout took place after police say they tried to make a traffic stop on Humboldt Avenue around 6:40 p.m. Friday. According to authorities, the suspect, later identified as 41-year-old Angelo West, exited his vehicle and opened fire at police.

Moynihan was shot below his right eye. Police returned fire and West, who had a history with violence towards law enforcement, was killed in the shooting. A middle-aged woman was also caught in the crossfire as she drove by, suffering a flesh wound to her right arm. Evans said Friday that she was fine and in good spirits.

A decorated Iraq war veteran, Moynihan has been with the Boston Police Department since 2008, currently serving on the department's Youth Violence Strike Force. MBTA Officer Dic Donohue, who was injured in the manhunt after the Boston Marathon bombings, confirmed to necn that Moynihan helped rescue him in 2013. The following year, Moynihan received the Nation's Top Cops Award from President Barack Obama, followed by the Boston Police Medal of Honor.

Saturday, Donohue expressed his gratitude to Moynihan and sent his best wishes.

"John played a part in saving my life, and that's something I will never forget," he said in a statement to necn. "His record of service speaks for itself. Everyone is wishing him well and we know he has the strength to pull through."

Police said Friday that two suspects besides West were in custody "on unrelated matters." No further information has been available about them.



Photo Credit: Boston Police
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<![CDATA[Train Derailment Wreckage Cleared]]> Sun, 29 Mar 2015 12:05:09 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/150328-6pm-metro-train-crash_1200x675_419651651872.jpg

The wreckage from the crash in Southern California between a metro train and a car, which left one person in grave condition Saturday, has been cleared.

The collision occurred when the train hit a car that turned in front of it in Exposition Park.

In addition to the person who was reportedly near death, 20 other people were also injured.

The train operator was hospitalized in serious condition, said Shawn Lenske of the Los Angeles City Fire Department.

He was later released and was recuperating at home, according to Metro spokesman Jose Ubaldo. He identified the operator as Kenneth Goss, a 29-year Metro veteran who is in his mid-50s.

Nineteen other people, all train passengers, suffered minor injuries in the 10:50 a.m. crash and eight of them were taken to hospitals, Lenske said.

The train hit the Hyundai at a traffic signal between USC and the Museum of Natural History.

Ubaldo told City News Service the car and the train both were heading east, when the car made a left turn toward the USC gate and was hit by the electric light rail vehicle.

Witnesses said after the Hyundai made an improper turn, it became wedged between a pole and the train, which derailed, according to the Sgt. Mike Verlich of Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Left turns such as that are regulated by a left turn arrow, and there are flashing alarms for approaching trains, which get stop signals if cars are turning across the grade crossing.

After the wreck, a picture shot from a USC office building across the street, and posted on the Internet, showed a crushed car on the westbound tracks at the Watt Drive signal, and a stopped train on the tracks usually used by trains heading from Culver City to downtown Los Angeles.

The crash was next to the Exposition Park Rose Garden, about halfway between the tunnel under Figueroa Street, and Vermont Street.

Expo Line service in both directions was cut, and firefighters were warned a half hour after the crash that the train line's overhead power supply could not be immediately cut off. The train's electric arms had been retracted but firefighters were warned that low voltage batteries might still be a hazard, firefighters were told.

Buses were being used as a ``bridge'' to ferry passengers around the wreck.

Regular service on the Expo line wasn't expected to be restored until about 4:30 a.m. Sunday, Ubaldo said.

Crews will have to de-energize both tracks to replaced a damaged traffic signal pole and officials wanted to wait until spectators, many of whom relied on mass transit, left a sold out Mexico-Ecuador soccer game that was played tonight at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Ubaldo said.

The game ended about 8:30 p.m.

Crews would be working through the night to complete repairs and reopen
the line, Ubaldo said.
 

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<![CDATA[De Blasio Pokes Fun at Himself in Annual Show]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 03:33:51 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/032915circle.jpg

Mayor de Blasio poked fun at himself Saturday night — from his liberal policies to his penchant for tardiness — at the annual Inner Circle charity show.

The show is New York's answer to the White House Correspondents Dinner, where politicians, reporters and the city's power brokers rub shoulders during a charity dinner. The highlight each year is the mayor's performance, which serves as a rebuttal of sorts to the reporters' show, which opens the night by skewering the mayor and other city and state elected officials.

In the first act of the evening, reporters poked fun at the year de Blasio had. They ribbed his manhandling last year of Staten Island Chuck, the groundhog that later died, and his issues with the police. In one sketch, actors dressed in NYPD uniforms pretended to moon the mayor.

Much of de Blasio's act mocked his liberal agenda, including universal pre-kindergarten and a new relaxed marijuana policy. He also poked fun at rumors of the mayor's marijuana use, quipping that he and his wife, Chirlane McCray, used celery every day at 4:20 p.m.

Louis C.K. joined the mayor on stage at the beginning of his skit. The comedian provided a "translation" (often vulgar) of the mayor's comments, making fun of the press, the governor and the voters.

A year ago, in de Blasio's first Inner Circle as mayor, he delivered a winning performance in which he enlisted celebrity friends like Steve Buscemi and Cynthia Nixon to gamely make fun of his tendency to be tardy, his struggle with managing a snowstorm and his reliance on his family during his mayoral campaign.

De Blasio's performance was again a skit-filled, low-frills affair. That stands in stark contrasts to the outlandish performances put on by his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, who used some of his own fortune to hire a Broadway cast each year and put on elaborate, music-filled shows.

One year, Bloomberg wore a harness, flying 20 feet in the air while dressed as Spiderman. Other noteworthy previous mayoral performances included Rudolph Giuliani donning drag and Ed Koch stepping out of the mouth of a man-eating plant.

The black-tie event is expected to raise about $100,000 for various city charities.

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<![CDATA[Officer Driving Police Cruiser While Intoxicated: Police]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 23:54:16 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/WEB+darryl+cathey+police+officer+dui.jpg

A Philadelphia Police officer was charged with driving under the influence after another officer watched him driving a marked police vehicle with flat tires and smelled alcohol on his breath early Saturday, said Lt. John Stanford.

The 12th District officer, identified as 26-year-old Darryl Cathey, pulled up to 6500 block of Woodland Avenue, just after midnight in southwest Philadelphia in a marked police cruiser with three flat tires and bent rims, said Stanford.

A sergeant from the district was at the location and saw the car's damage and smelled alcohol on the man's breath.

Cathey also indicated he did not know his tires were flat and he was driving the police cruiser on the rims, authorities said. He also had bloodshot eyes, police said.

This isn't the first time the 6-year department veteran has faced charges. In November 2011, Cathey was arrested for allegedly assaulting his ex-girlfriend. He was fired that same year, but got his job back in 2013 through arbitration.

Cathey struggled with the sergeant and other officers early Saturday morning while being taken into custody. He was charged with DUI and is being investigated by accident division and internal affairs, according to Stanford. He is expected to be charged with aggravated and simple assault and reckless endangerment in addition to the DUI charge.

"The department takes these type of incidents seriously and behavior that doesn't conform with department policy will not be tolerated," said Lt. Stanford. "The appropriate action will be taken against this officer as soon as all charges are filed."

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey will suspend Cathey for 30 days with intent to dismiss. 

Bail has been set at $5,000. Cathey is scheduled to appear in court April 13.

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<![CDATA[10 in Hospital, SoCal Train Crash]]> Sun, 29 Mar 2015 03:37:53 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/03-28-15+Train+Crash+LA+Times+Photo+%284%29.JPG

A University of Southern California film student was hospitalized in "grave" condition after the car he was riding in was crushed by a Metro train near the school’s campus Saturday, officials said. Nine people aboard the commuter train were also taken to hospitals after the crash, including the train operator.

The collision was reported just before 11 a.m. near the intersection of Exposition Boulevard and Vermont Avenue, officials with the Los Angeles Fire Department said.

Investigators say the 31-year-old driver, who has not been identified, may have made an "improper turn" to his left, crossed the tracks and collided  with the train, said Sgt. Michael Verlich of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

The car became wedged between the train and a pole, causing the train to come off the tracks and trapping the driver inside the mangled vehicle.

"It was just like a big, loud crash of metal," said USC freshman Johnny Stevens, who saw the aftermath from his dorm room. "It was huge so we knew it wasn't just a car crash. We figured something big happened, so we looked out our window and we saw half of a car smashed into the rail."

In all, 21 people received medical attention, LAFD Assistant Chief Don Frazeur said. 

The driver, who is also a military veteran, was taken to the hospital in "grave" condition after being rescued from the crumpled Hyundai Sonata.

The train operator, identified as Kenneth Goss, was recovering at home with his family after being treated at the hospital for injuries that were described as "serious." He has worked for Metro for 29 years, said Metro spokesman Jose Ubaldo.

Eight others were taken to the hospital to be treated for minor injuries. Several others were treated at the scene.

LAFD officials initially said two cars had been involved in the crash with the train, but later changed that number to one.

About 100 passengers were on the train at the time of the wreck, Ubaldo said.

The crash interrupted additional Metro train service for a crowd of 80,000 at the Mexico versus Ecuador soccer match at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Metro officials warned commuters to expect major delays on the Expo Line. Bus shuttles were requested between Jefferson Boulevard and Vermont Avenue. The line was expected to reopen by midnight, said Metro spokesman Jose Ubaldo.

NBC4's Irene Moore contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Stabbed Mom to Death: Police]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 21:59:12 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Philadelphia+Ambulance+Generic+Medic+15.JPG

A teen, who neighbors say suffered years of abuse, killed his mother and put his grandmother in the hospital in a stabbing attack in their feces-covered Pennsylvanian home Friday, police said.

Police charged 19-year-old Zachary Pritchett of Bridesburg with murder, criminal homicide, aggravated assault and related offenses.

Neighbors on the 2800 block of Reynolds Street-- many who claim they often heard yelling coming from the home -- heard screams Friday morning and called police.

Pritchett directed responding officers to the second floor where they found 53-year-old Melizza Wiley dead from multiple stab wounds to her face, neck and upper torso, according to officials.

The teen's 73-year-old grandmother, who was in a hospital-type bed in the first floor living room, had also been stabbed in the face, neck and upper torso. Medics rushed her to Aria Torresdale Hospital, where she remains in critical, but stable condition, officials said.

Investigators told NBC10 police have visited the home several times in the past. Several others who live on the block claimed they called police and the Department of Human Services, because they were concerned for the teen's welfare.

"I called DHS many times," said Kelly McGrath, a neighbor. "I know other neighbors who have called. I also called the school board to inquire about his homeschooling."

The home reportedly did not have running water and the gas was shut off.

"He wasn't born with outward signs of problems, physical or mental or developmental," said McGrath, who recalled one instance when Pritchett, as a young boy, was "playing" with another child.

"Zach stood and looked out the front storm door and the other kid would play with his cars. And Zach just watched him and that's how he played," she said. "We all said something bad is going to happen."

Pritchett rarely left the home, according to multiple neighbors.

The teen had lacerations on his hand from the incident and was treated at Aria Torresdale Hospital and released.  When officers first arrived at the home, Pritchett told them three unknown men entered the house and attacked the family, investigators said.

Many in the community have said they hope authorities consider the years of alleged abuse Pritchett suffered in their investigation.

"The ones of us who knew what was happening," McGrath said, "are all in support of him getting some sort of help rather than incarceration."



Photo Credit: NBC10]]>
<![CDATA[Residents Work to Pick Up Pieces After Blast]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 06:20:05 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/467637062_FireNY.jpg

Some of them had only moments to get out. The residents of the area surrounding the East Village explosion that destroyed three buildings this week ran for their lives. Now they're working to pick up the pieces.

Chelsea Blampied, who lived in one of the leveled buildings, said she'd stopped home to get a work file from her third-floor apartment when she heard and felt the blast.

"I thought a plane crashed into my building. Glass was blown everywhere, and it was just so surreal," she said.

"I just heard a really loud boom," recounted neighbor Justine Miller. "I could feel it in my chest."

Neighbor Troy Hinson was walking to the sushi restaurant when it "literally blew up in front of my face," and said "it really felt like my internal organs were reverberating. It just feels like everything was shaking, including my teeth."

"You just don't know what hit you, it just feels like a sonic boom, there's no real other way to describe it," he said.

Blampied left behind all her belongings and ran through smoke and debris down the stairs to safety as her building began to crumble. She's now staying with friends and is grateful she made it out alive.

"It's so overwhelming. Everyone lost everything," she said.

Blampied was among more than 125 people displaced at least temporarily by the blast. Aside from the three buildings leveled by the explosion, eight more were ordered vacated. As of Saturday, five of those had been partially reopened, and NYPD officers were allowing some other residents to return briefly to their apartments to grab pets and personal items.

At the time of the explosion, Gregory Dohdanowycz was in his top-floor apartment in the building next to where the blast happened.

"I look out the window, and I see two buildings south of me, there's smoke rising from the windows and their roof windows," he said.

He only had time to grab his dog before running outside, and was overwhelmed by the horrific sights and sounds when he got outside.

Neighbor Miller said: "There was blood on the ground. There were people laying up against buildings and other people trying to help them."

Actress Drea de Matteo is among the residents who lost her home and belongings in the explosion. She took to Instagram Thursday to share two dramatic photos of firefighters battling smoke and flames. "A hole where my NYC home of the last 22 years once stood," she wrote in one caption. "RIP 123 2nd Avenue." The photos appeared to be taken from a rooftop across the street.

Naya Jones, who spent the night at the YMCA after being told to leave her building near the blast site, went to the Tompkins Square Library Friday, where the Red Cross and other relief groups were offering financial assistance, food, vouchers and advocacy help.

The Red Cross said it has helped more than 120 people since the blast and gave housing assistance to dozens. The Standard Hotel is giving anyone displaced by the blaze three free nights of lodging. Sprint has also donated 25 cellphones.

The ASPCA is also providing pet supplies for owners in the affected area.

"It's a small community," said Bohdanowycz. "I think everyone is trying to help out when something bad happens."

Hinson, who's lived in the neighborhood four years, said, "I love the sense of community, and everybody comes together and helps each other out and is here for each other."

Several long-standing businesses were also affected by the destruction. Pommes Frites, a favorite spot for fries, was destroyed by the blast, and the nearby Orpheum Theater had to cancel performances of the off-Broadway production of "Stomp."

Robert Seniuk, the chef at Stage restaurant across the street, is determined to get back to work.

"We open, we don't give up. This city is 24 hours," he said.

Nevertheless, the frightening explosion has taken a toll on the psyche of New Yorkers everywhere.

"Yesterday was a very scary day. Now all I can do is think about the people who lost their homes and people who've been living here for decades," said neighbor Adam Mashaal.

Hinson said he had stopped on the corner to say goodbye to his friend just before the sushi restaurant exploded.

"The fact that I was literally - if I didn't stop and talk to my friend, I would possibly be in that building," he said. "That's kind of what's messing me up. ... All these crazy thoughts are going through your head after this happens, like, why me? Why am I safe, why is something again happening to me? It's just crazy. I'm having just a hard time processing it."

Health officials say the air quality in the area has returned to normal levels and that short-term exposure to elevated particulate levels Thursday didn't pose a significant risk to the public. They say the smoke odor may linger, but isn't harmful. Still, those with respiratory or heart problems should remain extra vigilant.

The explosion came a week after the one-year anniversary of the East Harlem explosion that leveled two buildings and killed eight people. The blast also injured dozens of people and left many homeless for months.

Since the 2014 explosion, the FDNY has been given a much greater role in responding to reports of possible gas leaks and New Yorkers are now encouraged to call 911 about gas leaks and odors rather than 311.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Blanket-Wrapped Body Found in Bronx House: Police]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 22:28:49 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/328me.jpg

Police charged a Harlem man with murder Saturday hours after questioning him about a woman's decomposing body found wrapped in a blanket inside a Bronx apartment, authorities said.

Roger Roberts, 53, was charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter, police said. He was believed to be the victim's boyfriend, police said.

Police found the body of 46-year-old Milagros Rolon inside an apartment at 1209 Tinton Avenue in an area commonly known as Morrisania, investigators said. Rolon, whose hands were bound, appears to have been dead for about a week, police said.

Rolon, of 465 E. 167th Street in the Bronx, frequently visited a man who lives in the Tinton Avenue apartment.

No other details were available.

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<![CDATA[Officials Eye Possible Gas-Line Tampering in Blast]]> Sun, 29 Mar 2015 16:09:01 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/east+village+fire+explosion.jpg

Emergency workers continued searching Saturday for at least two people still missing after an apparent gas line explosion leveled three Manhattan apartment buildings, though authorities cautioned that chances of finding survivors are slim.

Meanwhile, investigators piece together what exactly caused the blast that injured 22.

Authorities are investigating whether the gas line in a basement below a sushi restaurant was rigged in a possible gas-theft scheme, causing the leak that may have set off Thursday's fiery blast that leveled three buildings in the East Village.

"There is a possibility here that the gas line was inappropriately accessed internally by people in the building," but officials need to get access to the wreckage to explore it further, Mayor de Blasio said during a news conference Friday. He wouldn't say more about why officials believe that's a possibility.

Sources familiar with the investigation tell NBC 4 New York that in August inspectors found the gas line in the basement rigged with a rubber hose to circumvent the Con Edison gas meter. This could have saved money and perhaps allowed for gas to flow to some apartments that had not yet been cleared for service. Safety violations were registered and an immediate shut down was ordered until the problem was corrected, the sources said.

No one was charged with any wrongdoing at that time and the case was treated as a safety violation by inspectors, the sources said. Investigators now want to know if a similar gas-theft scheme was being employed again. The investigation is in its beginning stages and nothing has been ruled out, the sources said.

The contractors working on the Sushi Park restaurant did not have permits for gas work, the mayor said Friday.

The Manhattan District Attorney's office has joined the NYPD, fire marshals and building inspectors in the probe into the cause of the explosion that sparked a fire that could smolder for days in the rubble of three buildings that once occupied Second Avenue and E. 7th Street.

About 60 firefighters were still working to put out hot spots on Saturday, and rescue workers with K9 units were on the scene searching for the two missing people. Earlier, Con Ed shut off gas to 187 residential customers and 32 commercial customers in the area while the search and recovery work continued.

Residents of three nearby buildings were still barred from entering, but about 40 apartments in five other buildings were reopened to residents as of Saturday. Some 20 apartments in those buildings were to remain closed until damage could be repaired. Officers were escorting residents into buildings when possible to help them retrieve pets and personal belongings, officials said.

On the day of the explosion, inspectors with Con Ed had been to the East Village building to check on ongoing work to upgrade gas service. The utility said the work didn't pass inspection, so gas wasn't introduced to the line, and inspectors gave instructions and left at around 2:45 p.m. Inspectors didn't smell any gas, Con Ed said.

But at around 3 p.m., the sushi restaurant owner smelled gas and called the landlord, who then called a general contractor, Boyce said. No one called 911 or Con Ed, however, de Blasio said.

The contractor, Dilber Kukic, and the owner's son went into the basement and opened a door, and then the explosion happened, burning their faces, NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said.

"The whole area was shaking," said Moishe Perl, who works next door. "We couldn't imagine what was going on."

The building had an existing gas line intended to serve the sushi restaurant; the work underway was to put in a bigger line to serve the entire building, Con Ed President Craig Ivey said. As for whether the apartments were getting gas from the existing line, "That's a great question," he said.

"We'll have to find out, through the investigation, what's going on there," he said.

Con Edison later added in a statement: "As we do in all cases when a customer is upgrading to a new gas service, we conducted careful inspections at 121 2nd Avenue. Our records show the work of the building's plumber failed two inspections, including the inspection our personnel conducted yesterday afternoon. At no time was use of the new service line authorized by Con Edison. That service was locked to ensure that it would not be used. The ground-floor restaurant was being served by its current, smaller gas service line."

Calls to the building owner were unanswered. The owner's son reached by phone in his hospital room declined to comment. The listed contractor did not return messages. A subcontractor hired to handle gas lines did not return calls for comment.

City records show the contractor, Dilber Kukic, got a permit last June for plumbing, flooring, removing partition walls and other work at the building.

Kukic had tried to help people escape the explosion and had been helpful to authorities, Boyce said.

The contractor -- who's facing unrelated charges of bribing an undercover investigator posing as a housing inspector -- was injured in the blast and declined through his lawyer to comment on the circumstances surrounding the explosion.

Kukic is a relatively minor player in a 50-person bribery case that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. and other authorities unveiled last month. They said city inspectors, landlords and contractors formed a network of graft that exchanged $450,000 in payoffs to get safety violations dismissed, procure phony eviction orders and get fast, favorable and sometimes nonexistent inspections.

Kukic is accused of paying $600 in cash to try to get housing violations dismissed at two upper Manhattan properties he owned. He has pleaded not guilty.

Twenty-two people were injured in the blast, four critically, city officials said Friday. Among the injured were six firefighters. Patients with non-life threatening injuries were continuing to be treated and released from local hospitals.

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<![CDATA[6 Hurt, 3 Critically, in Brooklyn Blaze]]> Sun, 29 Mar 2015 16:02:37 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/032815bklynfire.jpg

A fast-moving blaze in a Brooklyn apartment injured six people, leaving three in critical condition, fire officials said.

The blaze broke out at about 9:15 a.m. Saturday on Clarendon Road in East Flatbush. The victims, including at least one child, were taken to a hospital, according to the FDNY. One person was in serious condition and three others had minor injuries, officials said.

The flames started on the second floor, creating heavy smoke conditions for those above. One child and two adults were unconscious when firefighters pulled them from the smoke-filled third floor, a fire official said.

Patricia Lewis credited her daughter with saving her life. The girl woke her up with a warning.

"She said, 'Mommy, mommy. Somebody's screaming fire. Mommy, we got to go,'" said Lewis, who heeded her daughter's words and ran out of the apartment. 

The blaze was brought under control by about 9:40 a.m., officials said.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

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<![CDATA[7 Shot at Spring Break Party: Cops]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 15:23:28 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/panama+city+mug+032815.jpg

A spring break party in Panama City Beach, Florida, turned violent early Saturday morning after police said seven people, including students, were shot.

Gunshots rang out at the house party around 1 a.m., according to NBC affiliate WJHG. Bay County Sheriff spokeswoman Ruth Curley told NBC News that some of the victims are students at Alabama A&M University who were visiting the area for spring break.

Officials said 22-year-old David Jamichael Daniels of Mobile, Alabama, was arrested after police set up a perimeter. Daniels is being held at the Bay County Jail on seven counts of attempted murder.

Curley said police recovered a .40-caliber handgun in the backyard of a nearby home.

Deputies responding to the scene found three victims shot in the street, one outside the house, and three others inside.

Police identified the victims who were visting from Mobile, Alabama, as 20-year-old Kearria Freed; 22-year-old Henton Franklin; and 22-year-old Tykeria Ethridge. Freed was shot in the head and remains in critical condition, Curley said, while Franklin was shot in the side and Ethridge was shot in the neck and shoulder.

Police identified the remaining victims as 21-year-old Devanta Moore, who was shot in the chest; 20-year-old Anesia Powell, who was shot in the left arm, chest, and knee; 22-year-old Jacole Young, who was shot in the back; and 21-year-old Kelli Curry, who was shot in the leg.

All of the victims were transported to area hospitals. Freed, Franklin and Moore are in critical condition, Curley said, while the others remain in stable condition.



Photo Credit: Bay County Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Gas Leak Briefly Closes Brooklyn Bridge to Eastbound Traffic]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 13:57:49 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/032815leak.JPG

The Brooklyn Bridge was briefly closed down in one direction Saturday after a gas line was damaged by workers installing a sidewalk, officials said.

A contractor was installing the walkway when the gas pipe, which serves the federal courthouse at 225 Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn, was struck, according to National Grid. The courthouse and a residential building were evacuated, and fire department units were sent to the scene, according to the FDNY.

A ramp from the FDR Drive to the bridge was closed, and the eastbound side of the Brooklyn Bridge was briefly blocked off before being reopened, officials said.

Gas service to the courthouse was expected to be restored by Saturday evening, according to National Grid.

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<![CDATA[Vigils Held for Slain Calif. Cop]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 07:39:40 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/0327-2015-SJPD-vigil.jpg

The man who authorities said killed a San Jose police officer suffered from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, depression and alcoholism, according to his niece, Amber Golart.

Scott Dunham died from a gunshot wound suffered from a shootout with police late Tuesday that left veteran Officer Michael Johnson dead.

Golart attended a memorial for Johnson held late Friday on Senter Road. More than 100 people showed up to the vigil held near the scene of the fatal shooting.

"We are sorry for the loss of the officer. This is a tragic accident," Golart said. "No one meant for this to take place. But as a family, we feel like we're caught in the middle. We're mourning for the officer, but we're mourning for our uncle."

Golart added the last few days have been also hard for the Dunham family, especially knowing it was a loved one who took an officer's life. Dunham's family is calling Tuesday's incident suicide by cop.

Another memorial for Johnson was held Friday night in the courtyard at San Jose City Hall and was hosted by Star of David Ministries and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association.

“We have suffered a very devastating loss to our community, and we need to show officer Johnson’s family and the SJPD that we support them, “ said Kathleen Flynn, president of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association.

A formal memorial service for Johnson will be held April 2 at 11 a.m. at the SAP Center at San Jose

In addition, Owen Nolan, a former San Jose Shark who is a part owner of the Brittania Arms, is hosting a fundraiser April 2 at the restaurant, located at 5027 Almaden Expressway.

Also, the San Jose Police Officers’ Association is helping raise fund to provide financial assistance to his family.

The 38-year-old Johnson was killed on Tuesday when he arrived at an apartment building after a caller told 911 that Dunham was drunk and despondent and was threatening to harm his wife. When Johnson arrived, Dunham killed him from his balcony with a high-powered rifle.

Dunham's body was found Wednesday morning on the balcony. He had died of a gunshot wound, police said.

Checks can be mailed payable to the SJPOACF at: 1151 N. 4th St., San Jose, CA 95112 or online.

Lisa Fernandez contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Cops Chase "Support Police" Car]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 02:44:50 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/237*120/we+support+our+local+police+dept.jpg

The driver of a vehicle with a message on its rear window that read "We Support Our Local Police Dept" drove the wrong way in traffic and slammed into shopping carts in a parking lot before surrendering to authorities in Anaheim.

Police pursued the stolen car on Orange County freeways and city streets Friday afternoon near Disneyland, officials said. The pursuit began in Buena Park, said the California Highway Patrol.

The Toyota Corolla was rammed by a police car in a shopping center's parking lot, but evaded immediate capture. The vehicle slammed through shopping carts before exiting back onto the street.

After racing through red traffic lights and making a U-turn around a street median, the driver and passengers surrendered in the middle of a street just after 1 p.m.



Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Water Main Break Disrupts NJ Transit]]> Sun, 29 Mar 2015 23:08:52 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/NJtransitgeneric.jpg

A water main break in Millburn, New Jersey has flooded streets and disrupted service on the New Jersey Transit.

Millburn Police said a 24-inch main burst at 100 Glen Ave. at about 10:15 p.m., causing major flooding near the New Jersey Transit train tracks.

Some nearby homes were evacuated, according to police. Some residents reported having no running water. 

Customers on the Morris and Essex train lines should expect delays Friday night.  



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hero Firefighter in Explosion Video Speaks]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 21:29:55 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/mike+shepherd+east+village+fdny+hero.jpg

Off-duty FDNY firefighter Mike Shepherd didn't need to be in uniform to be a hero in the aftermath of the fiery East Village building explosion Thursday that leveled three buildings, injured about two dozen people and left two people missing. 

The Squad 41 firefighter is the man seen in widely viewed videos of the scene climbing up a fire escape to check for any possibly trapped residents inside 121 Second Ave. after the blast Thursday afternoon.

"I heard a loud explosion and I look down the block and I just started running toward the corner," he told reporters at an FDNY briefing Friday.

He helped to direct a woman down from the second-floor apartment on the fire escape.

Then "I just climbed it, started searching my way up from the second floor. Opened the window and looked in and the floor was collapsed," said Shepherd. He continued up to the third floor.

He didn't come down until he'd gotten all the way up to the top floor, and the danger to himself became all too real.

"I could feel the heat and the smoke, and I said, 'I gotta get outta here now,'" he said. "And I looked and I could see 9-truck coming and 33-engine, so I said, 'Worst case scenario, they'll have to put the bucket up and grab me."

Witness Troy Hinson recorded Shepherd climbing up the fire escape and told NBC News the crowd below was terrified as they watched. 

"You're kind of in awe at what this guy's doing but you're also kind of holding your breath and you're like, I don't want to see this guy die in front of me, but that was definitely going through my mind," he said. 

"Some people just react a certain way, and he just instinctively reacted to climb up there, and that guy is truly the hero," said Hinson. 

Shepherd said he thought of his family, his wife, son daughters and granddaughter -- but the third-generation firefighter knew he couldn't walk away without helping.

"Maybe it's just in your blood," he said. "But being a New Yorker, you're always willing to go out and help somebody, you know."
 

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<![CDATA[NJ Astronaut Twins Looking To Make History]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 20:48:42 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/astronaut+twins+experiment.jpg A West Orange High School graduate blasted off into space Friday afternoon. His twin brother, also an astronaut, stayed behind. But they are both part of the same experiment. Brian Thompson reports.]]> <![CDATA[No Charges in NJ Festival Accident That Killed Tot]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 07:14:58 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/farm9.jpg

No criminal charges will be filed in a motor vehicle accident at a harvest festival that killed a two-year-old child last fall.

The Morris County prosecutor's office and Chester Township police made the announcement Friday.

The October 12 accident occurred at Alstede Farms in Chester. Investigators concluded that two vans were shuttling passengers from a parking lot at the festival to a nearby train station when one of the vans rolled into the one in front of it.

The girl, her mother and another woman were caught between the two vehicles. The women suffered injuries.

Morris County Prosecutor Fredric Knapp said Friday that toxicology tests were conducted and no evidence of criminal conduct was found.



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>