<![CDATA[NBC New York - Top Stories]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.comen-usSun, 11 Dec 2016 09:00:22 -0500Sun, 11 Dec 2016 09:00:22 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Missing Muslim Teen Harassed on Subway Found: Police]]> Sat, 10 Dec 2016 19:50:40 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/FOR+ALIYU+MISSING+MUSLIM+TEENS+WITH+PUSH++-+01000926_WNBC_00000.jpg

A New York teenager who went missing after she said she was harassed on a train last week has been found. 

Yasmin Seweid, 18, was found in the early hours of Saturday morning, officials from the Nassau County Police Department's Missing Persons Squad said. The teen was seen being taken from her Long Island home on a stretcher Saturday afternoon.

The Nassau County Police Department put out an alert on Friday saying Seweid had been missing since Wednesday. 

Last Thursday, Seweid spoke out after she said she was harassed and intimidated by three men who tried to rip her hijab - a religious head scarf - off.

Police said they were searching for those men, who allegedly targeted Seweid on the 23rd Street subway station serving the 6 line at about 10 p.m. on Dec. 1.

Seweid posted on Facebook saying the men called her a terrorist, grabbed her bag and broke the strap of it and told her to "take that rag off your head". She said Trump's name was repeated during the alleged attack. 

She called the incident "traumatizing" and spoke with multiple news organizations about it.

Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of the NYPD]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Marketplace Sale Ends With Teen Robbed, Stabbed ]]> Fri, 09 Dec 2016 22:15:48 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Villeda+Standup+Tease+and+Broll_20161209204035+-+00002201_WNBC_.jpg

A high school student was robbed and stabbed in Manhattan after using the new Facebook Marketplace feature to try and sell sweatshirts, police say.

The 17-year-old Stuyvesant High School student took three hooded sweatshirts down to Pier 26 after school on Friday to complete a sale he started on Facebook, his friend Nazum Uddin told NBC 4 New York.

When the student arrived at the Tribeca skate park where he had agreed to meet the female buyer, there were some surprise visitors.

Three other people approached him, one wearing a ski mask.

"He brought the clothing to the skate park after school, and when he got here they pressed upon him and stabbed him and grabbed his clothing and ran away," Uddin said.

Police confirmed the student was stabbed in the left thigh and was robbed of the sweatshirts.

Facebook recently introduced a new 'Marketplace' feature on its platform, where people can sell things to one another peer-to-peer.

NBC 4 New York has reached out to Facebook for comment.

<![CDATA[More Than 1,000 Chicago Flights Cancelled as Winter Blast Rolls East]]> Sun, 11 Dec 2016 08:35:32 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-462670228.png

More than 1,000 flights were canceled at Chicago's O'Hare airport Sunday as a winter storm swept through the Midwest on its way east, threatening to bring more snow to parts of Ohio, NBC News reported.

The Chicago Department of Aviation said on its website just after midnight Sunday that 955 flights were canceled — about half arrivals and half departures.

The smaller Midway airport announced earlier Saturday afternoon that all Southwest flights would be canceled into Sunday morning due to the winter storm.

Chicago could see a total of 7 to 12 inches of snow, the National Weather Service said. The region was under a winter storm warning through Sunday night.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Parks Employee Arrested for Stashing Guns, Drugs in BK: NYPD]]> Sat, 10 Dec 2016 19:11:12 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ParksEmployeeArrest.jpg

An off-duty New York City Parks employee was busted for stashing guns and drugs in his Brooklyn apartment, police said Saturday.

Police arrested Charles McRae Friday in connection with an ongoing investigation.

Authorities said the 53-year-old faces a host of charges, including unlawful possession of marijuana, 16 counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance, and two counts of criminal possession of a firearm. 

Officers allegedly found a .9 mm pistol, a .38 caliber pistol, a large amount of marijuana, oxycodone and codeine pills, and over 100 fake license plates after conducting a search of McRae's East Flatbush apartment, the Daily News reports.

<![CDATA[Man Seriously Injured After Hit-and-Run in Manhattan: NYPD]]> Sat, 10 Dec 2016 18:35:00 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/SugarHillHitandRun.jpg

A early morning hit-and-run left a man seriously injured in Sugar Hill Sunday.

The 38-year-old victim was crossing the street at West 155th Street and St. Nicholas place when a white car hit him and fled the scene at around 4:35 a.m., police said. 

He was taken in an ambulance to St. Luke's Hospital with serious, but non-life threatening injuries. The victim has since been released and is at home.

Authorities said the vehicle is a white, four-door sedan that was traveling south on St. Nicholas Avenue.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident should call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS.

Photo Credit: NYPD]]>
<![CDATA[Man, 76, Dies After Crashing Pickup Truck Into Home: Police]]> Sat, 10 Dec 2016 17:47:20 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/police+lights9.jpg

A 76-year-old man died after his vehicle veered off the road and crashed into a home Saturday morning, Suffolk County Police officials said.

James A. Burke was driving a 2003 Ford Ranger pickup truck eastbound on East 3rd Street in Huntington when his vehicle careened off the road at around 11:50 a.m., police said.

The truck crashed through the fence in front of 36 E. 3rd St. and struck the house. 

Burke was taken to Huntington Hospital by the Huntington Community First Aid Squad, where he was pronounced dead. Authorities say it is believed that Burke may have suffered a medical event prior to the crash.

The truck was impounded for a safety check and the investigation is ongoing. 

Detectives ask that anyone with information regarding the incident call the Second Squad at 631-854-8252.

<![CDATA[Obama Gives Federal Workers Larger-Than-Expected Raise]]> Sat, 10 Dec 2016 17:38:41 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/120916+cash+money+generic.jpg

Many federal employees will get a small Christmas gift from President Barack Obama.

Obama authorized a 2.1 percent pay raise for civilian agency employees so their raise will match that of Defense Department employees. Obama said in August that these workers would get a 1.6 percent raise but opted on Thursday to boost the amount by 0.5 percent.

The president said he reconsidered the raise — which follows a three-year pay freeze — in part due to "current and projected economic conditions."

"In light of the decision of Congress to provide a 2.1 percent pay increase for military personnel in 2017 and reconsideration of current and projected economic conditions, I have concluded it would be appropriate to revise my original alternative plan," he wrote in a letter submitted to the House and Senate and published by Federal News Radio.

An employee making $75,000 will see a $1,575 boost before taxes.

The nation's largest federal employee union, the American Federation of Government Employees, applauded Obama's decision.

“Federal employees certainly deserve this modest boost in their pay, following years of pay freezes and miniscule increases that have left them worse off today than they were at the start of the decade,” union president J. David Cox Sr. said in a statement. “This pay adjustment will help employees pay their bills, reduce their debts, and cover the everyday costs facing working-class Americans.”

The raise will take effect in January.

Photo Credit: Getty Images (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Red-Suited Santas Swarm Midtown For SantaCon 2016 ]]> Sat, 10 Dec 2016 19:38:38 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/SantaconNovini.JPG

Get your red suit and reindeer — SantaCon is back in full force.

Hundreds of New Yorkers, dressed in bright red Santa suits, braved the chilly weather on Saturday for the annual pub crawl, which kicked off at the Flatiron Building Plaza in Gramercy.

Started in San Francisco in 1994, the all-day event takes place in three other cities and even expanded internationally with a London installment. Although participants say it's all in good fun, the pub crawl is notorious for rowdy behavior and serveral run-ins with the law. A couple potesting the boozy event was arrested this morning in the Flatiron District.

Whether you're braving the cold in costume or avoiding the chaos at home, check out these images of Santas in action:

Photo Credit: Rana Novini
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<![CDATA[Trump Says Blacks Who Didn't Vote 'Felt Good About Me']]> Sat, 10 Dec 2016 01:21:02 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP16345080011808_opt.jpg

Donald Trump at a rally on Friday said African-American voters who didn't show up to the polls "felt good about me."

"The African-American community was great to us," Trump said. "They came through big league."

"If they had any doubt, they didn't vote," Trump added. "And that was almost as good. Because a lot of people didn't show up, because they felt good about me."

Trump made the comments at the fourth stop on his "Thank You" tour, meant ostensibly to thank the millions of voters that delivered him a resounding White House win last month.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Man Injured as SUV Smashes Into Queens Home]]> Fri, 09 Dec 2016 22:54:40 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/BECKFORD+CAR+INTO+HOUSE+QNS+ELEMENTS++-+21193320_WNBC_000000014.jpg

A Queens father is thankful his son has escaped with his life after an SUV crashed into his bedroom.

Giacomo Terrana said his son Andrew, 34, was in bed watching television in their Howard Beach home on Friday when he heard what sounded like an explosion. 

Then he saw the car "come through the house", Terrana said.

It was an SUV, which had gone barreling into the side of the Terrana family home and the bedroom where Andrew was lying.

The impact sent furniture flying against the wall and crashing down on top of him.

"He was shaking, he was scared. He wasn't expecting something like this," Terrana said.

Andrew was loaded into an ambulance after suffering a hit to the head.

Police say the incident happened when a woman driving west on 161st Avenue hit the gas instead of the brakes in an attempt to avoid a car that had stopped short.

The mistake sent her careening through a fence and into the side of the house.

The family said they were thankful to make it out of the freak accident alive.

<![CDATA[The Big Chill: Temps Plunge, Snow Could Be Next]]> Fri, 09 Dec 2016 19:32:05 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/COLD+WEATHER+MN+BROLL+-+11485404_WNBC_000000014188415.jpg

A frigid blast has hit New York City, with temperatures set to drop into the mid 20s in Midtown Friday night, and a chance of snow around the corner.

All eyes are on Sunday and Monday, with Storm Team 4 predicting light snow and flurries across the tristate area Sunday afternoon and evening.

Parts of western New York have already had more than a foot of snow, with more due over the weekend

Meanwhile, New Yorkers were rugging up in Midtown Friday. Temperatures were around 40 degrees, but felt more like the 20s thanks to wind chill.

This is compared to a stretch of 60 degree weather New York had this time last year.

All good news for city vendors who were doing a brisk business selling hats and scarves at the end of the week.

<![CDATA[Giuliani Pulls Out of Consideration for Trump Cabinet]]> Fri, 09 Dec 2016 19:37:39 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_16319797568195trump-food.jpg

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has removed his name from consideration for a spot in the Trump administration, President-elect Donald Trump has announced.

In a statement released by Trump's transition team on Friday, Trump announced that Giuliani would not have a place in his administration just yet.

Instead, the former New York mayor withdrew his name from consideration over a week ago, Trump said.

"Rudy would have been an outstanding member of the Cabinet in several roles, but I fully respect and understand his reasons for remaining in the private sector," he said.

"He is and continues to be a close personal friend, and as appropriate, I will call upon him for advice and can see an important place for him in the administration at a later date."

Giuliani said he would continue working in his law and consulting firm "with even more enthusiasm" than prior to the election.

"From the vantage point of the private sector, I look forward to helping the President-elect in any way he deems necessary and appropriate," he said.

The statement comes almost two weeks after Trump's aides confirmed that the president-elect had settled on four finalists for secretary of state, one of them being Giuliani.

However two people close to the transition this week told The Associated Press that Trump was moving away from Giuliani and Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Group Posts Fake 'SantaCon Canceled' Signs Across NYC]]> Fri, 09 Dec 2016 23:16:03 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/santacon-cancelled.jpg

A New York City group is hoping to dissuade overly jolly drinkers from flooding the streets by posting phony signs stating that the yearly SantaCon bar crawl has been canceled.

Signs reading "SantaCon Canceled" were spotted in Williamsburg and the East Village Friday ahead of the annual bar crawl, which is set to take place in Gramercy, Midtown and the East Village Saturday. Members of New York City Residents claimed responsibility of the signs and said they hoped the faux signs will encourage SantaCon organizers to call off the event. 

"Our goal is to unite the city," a representative for the group said. "I have not spoken to a single New Yorker who enjoys SantaCon."

Anti-SantaCon organizer John Daniels said it all started three years ago after he got fed up seeing a SantaCon Santa Claus vomit on a pile of garbage near Starbucks at Astor Place.

"I walk by ten minutes later and that same Santa Claus is having a lewd sex act on that same pile of garbage."

But organizers of the bar crawl don't seem to be budging and have posted a disclaimer on their site that the posters are "misinformation."

"Reports that SantaCon has been canceled are not true," the group said on its website. 

Unlike in prior years, there is no real route for the crawl. Rather, revelers will gather in the plaza outside the Flatiron building before moving to one of about 50 bars and venues.

See the full list of bars here.

At last year's SantaCon, five people were arrested and more than 100 red-suited participants were issued summonses, the Daily News reports.

Photo Credit: Provided by NYC Residents]]>
<![CDATA[Operator Caused Deadly Tribeca Crane Collapse: DOB]]> Fri, 09 Dec 2016 19:35:27 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/crane-collapse-4-0205.jpg

The operator at the controls of the 565-foot crane that crashed to the ground amid high winds earlier this year has been found at fault for the mishap that killed one person on the ground.

The city Department of Buildings said Friday that a series of errors on the part of the crawler crane operator caused the massive piece of equipment to come crashing to the ground on Feb 5. Mot importantly, investigators found that he failed to secure the crane properly the night before it fell and that the equipment's massive boom was lowered at an improper angle that morning, causing it to become unstable and topple over.

The operator's license was suspended by the buildings department, and the agency has filed a case to permanently revoke his license. The operator will no longer be able to operate cranes in New York City. 

The crane operator involved in this incident acted recklessly, with tragic results," said Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler. "The actions we’re taking should send the message to everyone in the construction industry that safety must come first."

In the deadly February crane collapse, the 565-foot boom crashed to the ground, killing David Wichs, a Harvard-educated man who lived on the Upper West Side. It also crushed cars and injured others.

Mayor de Blasio called for greater regulation of cranes in the city following the collapse. 

Since 2010, New York City has fined and disciplined dozens of crane operators and revoked the licenses of at least 14 of them.

Photo Credit: NYPD]]>
<![CDATA[6 Students Sickened After Eating Weed Candy Bar: Officials]]> Fri, 09 Dec 2016 16:57:58 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/emergency+sign.jpg

A half-dozen Long Island high school students were taken to the hospital Friday after they shared a candy bar laced with marijuana.

The Sachem High School North students were taken to Stony Brook University Medical Center for treatment after they ate a pre-packaged candy bar that indicated it contained marijuana on the label, the district said in a statement.

The district said the students went to the nurse's office after they began to feel the effects of the drug in the candy and were sent to the hospital as a precaution. 

District superintendent Ken Graham said in a statement that administrators "take all situations involving drugs very seriously."

<![CDATA[New Jersey Boy With Lymphoma Gets Wish to Travel to Cuba Granted]]> Fri, 09 Dec 2016 21:08:43 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/USHERY+MAKE+A+WISH+CHILD+CUBA+NJ+PKG+5PM+-+00001525_WNBC_000000.jpg Make-A-Wish New Jersey celebrates 11 year-old Tyler's wish to go to Cuba. The Jersey City student, who was diagnosed with Burkitt Lymphoma, will be granted a trip to Cuba to finally meet his great-grandparents and other family members. David Ushery reports.]]> <![CDATA[Dog Says Goodbye to Dying Owner in Heartbreaking Video]]> Fri, 09 Dec 2016 20:11:16 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Hospital-Generic-Stock.jpg

The family of a California man who lay dying in a hospital wanted to make sure his beloved dog had one last chance to say goodbye.

Ryan Jessen, 33, had suffered a ventricular brain hemorrhage and was on a ventilator at Rideout Memorial Hospital in Marysville when his family brought his dog of six years, Mollie, to see him shortly before his death on Nov. 30, the "Today" show reported.

Michelle Jessen caught the heartbreaking moment on video and posted it on Facebook for friends and family. It has been viewed over 13 million times.

"The hospital did the sweetest thing for us and allowed us to bring my brother's dog in to "say goodbye" so she'd know why her human never came home. If you knew my brother, he really loved his sweet dog," Jessen's sister, Michelle, wrote on Facebook.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[E-Cigarette Explodes, Injures Bronx Man]]> Fri, 09 Dec 2016 19:27:35 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ALIYU+ECIGARETTE+BATTERY+EXPLOSION+VITCTIM+PKG+530+-+00000600_W.jpg An E-cigarette battery exploded in a Bronx man's pocket, causing second-degree burns on his thigh and hand. Wale Aliyu reports.]]> <![CDATA[NJ Man Accused of Sexually Assaulting Boy, 14, He Met Online]]> Fri, 09 Dec 2016 19:33:26 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/suspect-predator-1209.jpg

A man who works for a company that produces high school football highlight videos was charged Friday with sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy he met on a social media website.

Ethan Chandler faces charges of sexual assault and criminal sexual contact, Attorney General Christopher Porrino said. The sexual assault charge is punishable by up to 10 years in prison upon conviction.

The 42-year-old Belleville resident tried to convince an undercover agent posing as a 13-year-old boy to have sex and was arrested earlier this month and charged with luring a child, authorities said. He posted bail after the initial arrest, but investigators searching his computer and cellphone discovered evidence of his involvement with the 14-year-old, the attorney general's office said. He was re-arrested on Wednesday.

Chandler had sexual contact with the 14-year-old at least three times at his home, authorities said.

"Parents need to recognize that a sexual predator could be preying on their children even as they sit next to each other on the sofa, seemingly safe at home," said Col. Rick Fuentes, superintendent of the state police. "Parents need to do their part by monitoring their children's online activity on any devices that they have access to."

Chandler works for a company that films sports events at schools across the region and posts weekly highlights packages of high school football on YouTube, the attorney general's office said.

Chandler previously pleaded guilty to a disorderly persons offense after he was discovered in a bathroom at the Livingston Mall in 2014 kissing a young man he said he believed was a minor.

He was being held on $200,000 bail at the Essex County Jail. An attorney representing him declined to comment when reached Friday.

<![CDATA[3 Attempted Lurings in Westchester in 1 Week: Police]]> Fri, 09 Dec 2016 19:47:44 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/VO+BORDONARO+ATTEMPTED+LURINGS+MT+KISCO+VO+NOON+-+00000825_WNBC.jpg

Westchester parents and police are on high alert after a spate of attempted lurings of teenage girls this week.

Since Monday, there have been three separate reports of predatory men trying to lure young girls into their cars. 

Rye Police have released a sketch of the man they believe tried to lure two 13-year-old girls into his car on Monday.

The man stopped the girls near school, asked for directions and then exposed himself to them, police said.

On Wednesday, two similar incidents were reported in Mount Kisco. Police say a man spotted a girl in her window on Langland Drive and tried to wave her into his car.

Nearby on Grove Street a man drove up to an 11-year-old girl who was walking and tried to lure her into his car. Luckily both knew better and told their parents, police said.

As a result, Westchester teens like Julianna Decker are now getting rides from their parents, who are afraid of a possible predator.

"When you hear guys are riding around doing that it's scary and weird," Decker said.

Mom Annette Vellucci said it was "frightening". "As a parent you never want to hear anything like that," she said.

As a result of the attempted lurings, security has been stepped up at local schools. County Executive Rob Astorino held a press conference on Friday with a strong message for children approached by strangers: "Get loud, get away and get help," he said.

He also told children what to do if they get grabbed.

"Yell, fight, drop to the ground, grab another object like a telephone pole to make it harder for someone to get you into their car."

<![CDATA[Port Authority Police Arrest 2 Wanted for Kidnapping by GWB]]> Fri, 09 Dec 2016 16:03:00 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/GWBKidnappingArrest.jpg

Two men have been arrested near the George Washington Bridge toll plaza in connection with a possible kidnapping plot, officials from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said.

Ishmael Castejon-Gulzar, of Atlanta, Georgia, and Ricardo Coacio Reyes, of Norcross, Georgia, were arrested by Port Authority police officers Friday. The 24-year-old and 30-year-old were charged with kidnapping, carjacking, aggravated assault, criminal possession of a weapon and criminal restraint.

Castejon-Gulzar and Reyes are being held at Bergen County Jail, police said. Bail was set at $2 million each.

Westbound traffic on the upper level of the bridge was stopped for 15 minutes in connection with the arrest, officials said.

Port Authority Police Officer Brian Ahern received information regarding a vehicle with persons wanted for a reported kidnapping heading toward the George Washington Bridge at around 10 a.m., authorities said.

Ahern and Officer James O'Neil situated themselves near the bridge's toll plaza, where they saw the vehicle in question with Georgia license plates. The men confirmed the Toyota was the car in question after observing from behind and pulled over the vehicle, which had two men in the front and a backseat passenger. 

All three occupants were removed from the car. Authorities said that the front seat passenger was later identified as the victim, a 39-year-old man from Gwinnet County, Georgia. Police recovered a loaded 9 mm glock handgun form the vehicle.

The victim told police that he was driven from Georgia to New York against his will by Castejon-Gulzar and Reyes in an apparent kidnapping. He reported that he was stabbed in his left leg before the men began the drive to New York.

The victim was taken to Englewood Hospital for his injury, and the car was impounded, police said.

<![CDATA[SantaCon Announces List of Bars, Moves to Manhattan]]> Fri, 09 Dec 2016 16:40:45 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/121314santa.jpg

SantaCon, the controversial bar crawl that winds through parts of New York City each December, is changing boroughs.

The crawl, which was originally slated to take place in Brooklyn's Williamsburg, will instead take place in midtown, Murray Hill, Gramercy and the East Village.

The annual event draws thousands or jolly revelers each year, much to the annoyance of residents in neighborhoods in the crawl's crosshairs.

Some residents this year even posted posters in the East Village and Williamsburg erroneously stating that the event was canceled. The crawl's official web page said in a post that the event was still on.

Unlike in prior years, there is no real route for the crawl. Rather, revelers will gather in the plaza outside the Flatiron building before moving to one of about 50 bars and venues.

See the full list of bars here.

At last year's SantaCon, five people were arrested and more than 100 red-suited participants were issued summonses, the Daily News reports.

<![CDATA[Santa Hospitalized After Fat-Shaming Scandal Goes Viral]]> Fri, 09 Dec 2016 15:17:29 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/santa-hat.jpg

A former Santa Claus who made headlines after being accused of body-shaming a young boy during his shift has been hospitalized for a blood clot in his lung. In the midst of controvery and illness, the old Saint Nick has been bolstered by support from those locally who don't believe he's a bad Santa. 

Earl Crowder, from Forest City, North Carolina, had played Mr. Claus for nearly a decade at his local Santa House until this week. He was hospitalized days after leaving his post as the holiday legend. Crowder resigned when 9-year-old Anthony Mayse accused the former Nicholas of fat-shaming him. Mayse told news station WLOS that Crowder said to “lay off the hamburgers and French fries” on his way out of the photo-op at the Santa House.

After a day filled with ice skating and other wintertime treats, Santa was supposed to be the grand finale for Mayse and his family’s fun weekend. Instead, the boy told WLOS that he cried himself to sleep because he was teased about his size.

“I think that’s just mean. Like honestly to make fun of that, that can really hurt a person's feelings,” Covey Fitzgerald told NBC affiliate WCNC

On Wednesday morning, Crowder experienced shortness of breath and was taken to the hospital, his niece told WLOS.

The longtime Mr. Claus is reportedly beloved within his community, and a local businesswoman, SunShine McCurry, has set up a Facebook page in support of his recovery. Members are posting their favorite memories with the man from the North Pole. Some have added sweet, sentimental photos of their children sitting on his lap, writing that “Forest City Santa is NOT a BAD SANTA.”

"I just got word that Santa is improving. ..he is seeing these posts on this page and it has made him happy to know that so many people love him," McCurry wrote. 

Though Crowder’s township has expressed its solidarity after his hospitalization, some Facebook comments still recognize that the fat-shaming incident was wrong.

“Any overweight child, or a child who is ‘different’ in any other way, knows it,” a Facebook user wrote. “He probably gets bullied and harassed plenty at school. He doesn’t need Santa Claus joining in to make him feel any more unhappy.”

In a statement, the town manager told WCNC that "the individual who played Santa Claus at the Santa House in Forest City made a remark that he regretted," and that Crowder "apologized to the parent, the child and the town." 

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Tetra images RF]]>