<![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 Fri, 31 Oct 2014 18:21:13 -0400 Fri, 31 Oct 2014 18:21:13 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[4th NJ Family Tied Up, Robbed by Intruders in 10 Days]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:24:02 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Home-Invasion-Edison-NJ.jpg

A fourth family in one New Jersey county was tied up and robbed by intruders just days after authorities said three other homes were hit, possibly by the same group of masked gunmen.

Prosecutors said two masked intruders barged into an Edison home, tied up the family and ransacked the house. It wasn't clear if anything was stolen. The home's owner said his wife was taking out the garbage when the invaders attacked. He and his wife were tied up along with their three children.

The robbery marks the fourth time in less than two weeks that intruders have targeted families in Middlesex County in less than two weeks. The first two homes were robbed in Old Bridge last week; the third home, in South Plainfield, was hit on Tuesday.

All four families robbed were Indian-American, and authorities say they could have been targeted because of their ethnicity.

Regardless of why the thieves are targeting certain homes, Middlesex County homeowners are concerned.

"I have two daughters and they say, 'Mom, I'm afraid. What's going on here?'" said Maria Tantillo, whose family leaves near the scene of the third home invasion. "They don't want to stay home by themselves."

South Plainfield's mayor says additional police patrols will be dispatched in his town.

--Tracie Strahan contributed to this story. 

<![CDATA[1 Dead in Virgin Spaceplane Crash]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 17:43:54 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/214*120/10-31-2014-spaceshiptwo-debris-3.jpg

One crew member was killed and another suffered a "major injury" after Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo rocket plane, designed for suborbital commercial flights above the Earth, went down Friday during a test flight over the Mojave Desert in Southern California.

The test flight, in preparation for space tourism trips for which 700 customers have already paid up to $250,000, involved two crew members. Ground controllers lost contact with the crew shortly after the space tourism plane separated from a mothership that carries it to a height of about 50,000 feet, according to a Federal Aviation Administration statement.

One crew member was found dead in the vicinity of what authorities described as a widespread debris field. A second crew member was hospitalized, but details regarding a condition were not immediately available.

"At times like these, we recognize we engage in our craft freely," said Stuart Witt, CEO of Mojave Air and Space Port. "The test community is very small. We are human, and it hurts."

Crews found three distinct debris fields, indicating SpaceShipTwo broke apart mid-air, said Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood. A witness told The Associated Press the space tourism plane exploded over the desert after its rocket motor ignited.

Parts of the plane landed in the Cantil area, about 25 miles northeast of Mojave Air and Space Port and 95 miles north of Los Angeles. Aerial video showed several pieces of aircraft debris marked with the Virgin Galactic logo.

Witt and other members of the test flight team watched the test flight from the base of the control tower. He said he "detected nothing that appeared abnormal."

"During the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of SpaceShipTwo," according to Virgin Galactic. The "anomaly" occurred as the plane fired its rocket engine in flight, according to NBCNews.com. A tweet posted by Virgin Galactic's account Friday morning said, "#SpaceShipTwo has experienced an in-flight anomaly."

The tweet was posted just minutes after the plane, carried to 50,000 feet by a mothership called WhiteKnightTwo, began flying under rocket power, something the hybrid-rocket engine plane had not done in more than nine months, according to NBCNews.com. WhiteKnightTwo landed safety, according to Virgin Galactic.

Billionaire Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic's founder, had planned to be among those on the plane's first commercial voyage. Branson's company is considered a front-runner in the space tourism industry.

"Thoughts with all @virgingalactic & Scaled, thanks for all your messages of support. I'm flying to Mojave immediately to be with the team," Branson tweeted Friday afternoon.

Branson's tweet referred to Scaled Composites, Virgin Galactic's flight test partner.

Authorities did not comment with regard to a cause at a Friday afternoon news conference.

Virgin Galactic had switched the plane's fuel mixture since the last powered flight, NBCNews.com reported. The fuel change involved a switch from a rubber-based compound to plastic-based mix, NBCNews.com reported. Engineers were attempting to determine whether the new mix would boost engine performance.

Test flight officials said at a Friday news conference that the new fuel formulation had been tested many times on the ground.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Man Who Fell to Death in NY Mall Slipped Off Escalator: Police]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 11:58:52 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/palisades+mall+fall+credit+journal+news.jpg

The 54-year-old man with developmental disabilities who fell to his death during a group trip to a New York mall Thursday lost his balance and fell off the side of an escalator, police said Friday.

Police have described the fall as a "tragic accident."

The man, who lived in New York Foundling’s group home in Rockland County, was riding up the escalator between the third and fourth floors at The Palisades Center Mall in West Nyack with his back to the railing when he lost his balance, Clarkstown detectives say. 

Police say as the man stumbled, the upward motion of the hand railing’s belt continued to push his body off the side of the escalator, causing him to plummet to his death.

A group home staff member who was with the man and three other residents tried to grab the man to stop him from falling to no avail.

The New  York Foundling said it was "deeply saddened" by the man's death.

"The safety of the individuals in our care is paramount, and we are doing everything we can to help determine what led to this terrible accident," the group home said in a statement.

The Palisades mall is the largest shopping mall in the New York metropolitan area.

Photo Credit: The Journal News]]>
<![CDATA[NYC Help Line Worker Suspended for Robot Voice]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 16:34:41 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/WEB+Call+Center.jpg

A city worker on a help line was suspended from his job for 20 days after callers complained that he was answering customer-service calls in a robotic voice, according to a published report. 

Ronald Dillon, 66, who works on a help line for the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, frequently answered calls in a "slow, monotone and overenunciated manner," according to a ruling written by administrative judge Kara J. Miller.

For a six-month period in 2012 and 2013, he would state in an "unprofessional, robotic voice," according to the ruling published by The New York Times, "You have reached the help desk. This is Mr. Dillon. How may I help you?" 

Dillon would eventually adjust his voice to a "normal tone," but callers didn't like they he greeted them, according to the Times.

Dillon, who unsuccessfully tried to appeal Miller's decision to suspend him for insubordination, argued that he was only trying to neutralize his Brooklyn accent. 

He added that his boss was constantly "harassing" and "belittling" him, according to the Times, and wanted to maintain an even phone voice so that his boss wouldn't have an excuse to harp on him any further. 

But Miller concluded Dillon appears to be a "disgruntled employee who is acting out" in response to a change of duties and a new supervisor, the Times reported. 

The judge said she believed Dillon, a civil servant since 1975 with a prior record of good service, is capable of reforming his behavior.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sick Driver, 65, Hits 2 People, Crashes Into Cars]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:34:07 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/queens+accident.jpg

A 65-year-old driver with a heart problem hit two pedestrians and slammed into parked cars in Queens after suffering a medical emergency on the road Friday, authorities say.

The driver smashed into the cars near 108th Street and 66th Avenue in Forest Hills shortly before 9:30 a.m.

He hit two pedestrians, police said, but their injuries were minor and they didn't go to the hospital.

The driver was taken to the hospital in stable condition.

Photo Credit: @minyuforce/Instagram ]]>
<![CDATA[Police Look for Link Between Ax Attacks on Cops]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 12:55:25 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/hatchet+attack+nypd.jpg

The NYPD is working with authorities in Washington, D.C., to determine if there's a connection between an ax on a police officer in the U.S. capital Friday and a similar attack on a group of New York cops last week.

John Miller, the NYPD's Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counter-terrorism, said there is nothing to indicate at this time that Zale Thompson, the suspect shot dead after assaulting a group of rookie officers with a hatchet on a Queens street last Thursday, communicated with anyone else prior to the attack.

In the D.C. attack, a man smashed a police officer's car with an ax. The officer wasn't hit by it, but hurt his shoulder when he tried to tackle the suspect. The suspect got away.

Authorities have described Thompson as "self-radicalized." They say it appeared terror was his "intent" in attacking the officers. One was badly hurt after Thompson hit him with a hatchet in the head; that officer was released from the hospital Thursday. A second officer whose arm was cut was treated at a hospital and released shortly after the attack.

Thompson's activity on social media indicated he was a convert to Islam and included rants about injustices in American society and oppression abroad but offered no clear evidence of any direct affiliation with terror groups or other individuals, police said.

Thompson charged a group of four officers with the 18-inch hatchet as they posed for a picture by a freelance photographer on a Jamaica street corner, striking two of them. The two other officers who were not yet opened fire, killing Thompson.

Thompson had six prior arrests in California in 2003 and 2004, mostly on domestic charges, authorities said. His only point of contact with the NYPD was in 1998 -- as a victim of assault. Thompson was involuntarily discharged from the military in 2003 after a three-year stint, possibly because of drugs, officials said. An ax and a hunting knife were recovered from his home.  

<![CDATA[NJ, NY Mayors Order Halloween Curfews for Kids]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 11:59:38 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/halloween_generic.jpg

Trick-or-treaters – and just about anyone else under the age of 18 – will have to be home by early this this Halloween in two large tri-state cities.

Mayors in Newark, New Jersey, and Yonkers, New York, announced that unaccompanied minors must be home for most of the night between Friday night and Saturday morning.

Newark's curfew mandates that unaccompanied minors must be home between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. In Yonkers, kids who are 13 or younger have to be home between 10 pm. and 6 a.m., but teens between 14 and 18 years old can stay out for an extra hour.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said his city's curfew is to ensure the safety of children and to prevent any late-night mischief.

“Halloween will fall this year on a Friday, which will enable more children to participate in these annual festivities,” Baraka said. “It is important for residents to be safety-conscious at all times, particularly on Halloween night, when children are out on our streets trick-or-treating.”

Minors caught out after curfew in Newark will be written a warning ticket that will be kept in a file for six months. If a child misses curfew more than once in that period, they could be arrested and face a fine of up to $1,000. 

In Yonkers, police will pick up children out after curfew, holding them at a precinct until a parent or guardian can come pick them up. 

Children can stay out after curfew in both towns if they're with a parent or if they're traveling to or from school, cultural or religious events. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Drivers Scoop up Armored Truck Cash]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:57:47 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/police-lights-shutterstock_542372564.jpg

An armored truck lost an unknown amount of money on a Maryland interstate Friday morning -- and numerous drivers quickly scooped up the money, police said.

Maryland State Police are now "reminding" the drivers to that they are "welcome to turn in the money at the local barrack."

The incident happened shortly before 8 a.m. in the northbound lanes of I-270 near Route 80.

According to a preliminary investigation, a door lock on the armored truck malfunctioned, causing a side door to open. A bag of cash fell into the left lane of I-270, scattering cash into the air and across the highway, police said.

The truck driver pulled over to the shoulder and saw multiple vehicles had also stopped, with drivers picking up the cash. When a fire department official arrived at the scene, the drivers quickly left.

Maryland State Police, assisted by a K-9 team, recovered just over $200 from the scene.

Authorities have issued a warning to the drivers who grabbed the cash, telling them they can turn in the money at Maryland State Police's Frederick barrack. Those who don't return the cash could face theft charges if police learn their identities, authorities said.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Water Main Break Floods New Jersey Intersection]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:25:09 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Bergen-Water-Main-Break.jpg

A large water main break in New Jersey flooded streets and sent a geyser bubbling into a New Jersey intersection Friday, authorities say.

The main burst around noon at Moonachie Avenue and Moonachie Road in Moonachie, causing water to rush into the roadway.

Chopper 4 footage from the scene shows flooding at the intersection and water continuing stream out of the pipe.

The cause of the break isn’t clear, but construction equipment is nearby.

It’s not clear when the break will be stopped.

The intersection is closed while crews work.

<![CDATA["Grim Reaper" Stabs Woman: Deputies]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:46:39 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/grimreaperstabbing2.jpg

A woman was stabbed multiple times early Halloween morning by someone dressed as the Grim Reaper, San Diego County officials said.

It was just before 2 a.m. Friday in a home on Thibido Road in Vista when deputies say the person dressed in costume attacked the woman while she was in the bathroom.

The attacker ran out of the home.

Deputies found the woman alive and searched the area with deputies and police dogs but did not find the assailant.

The victim was rushed to Palomar Hospital with what’s described as non-life threatening wounds.

She told deputies she could not identify her attacker's face but did hear the person's voice and described it as female.

It's not known how the suspect gained entry into the woman's home, officials said.

Check back for more on this developing story.

<![CDATA[Jets-Chiefs: It's Not a (Complete) Waste of Time]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 11:31:41 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP356575141239.jpg

Yes, there actually are a few reasons to watch Sunday’s Jets-Chiefs game. Well… it could get you out of weekend chores, if you can somehow convince the other members of your household that it’s a meaningful game (Good luck with that one!). Plus, there are many, many worse things to do that sit in your recliner watching football -- any football -- while stuffing your face with leftover Halloween candy.

Then again, there’s also the chance to see if Michael Vick actually has anything left in the tank as a starting QB, or if he’s become as bad as his play this year has indicated, as well as an opportunity to check out the Chiefs, who two potential candidates for Jets GM John Idzik’s job have helped build into a decent team.

Idzik’s imminent departure may not be a done deal -- unlike Rex Ryan’s -- but it’s pretty hard to believe that owner Woody Johnson will bring him back for another season after the disastrous campaign that’s occurred on Idzik’s watch. Scott Pioli, who was general manager of the Chiefs for four seasons before being canned amid Andy Reid’s 2013 arrival, is thought to be a contender for the Jets GM job, as is Chris Ballard, who’s currently Kansas City’s director of player personnel after having spent a decade as a Chicago Bears scout.

Pioli is now assistant GM with the Falcons, who may face a front office shakeup of their own after wining just six of their last 24 games. His Atlanta bio boasts of his having drafted such Pro Bowl talents as Eric Berry, Justin Houston, Dontari Poe and Dexter McCluster while at the Chiefs’ helm. That is an impressive run, and to those who would question how hard it is to select good players with really high draft picks (Berry and Poe were both chosen among the top dozen picks in their respective drafts), I’d say -- and I’m sorry to sound like a broken record -- Vernon Gholston and Dewayne Robertson. And, for those yearning for the good old days, let’s throw in Lam Jones and Blair Thomas for good measure.

My biggest issue with Pioli is that he had two chances to choose head coaches with the Chiefs, and his picks -- Todd Haley and Romeo Crennel -- made uninspired look inspiring. Considering anyone who’s ever watched Haley on the sideline inevitably wants to strangle him after 30 seconds, I can only imagine what his players felt. As for Crennel, I’ll simply say that his career record is significantly worse than Rich Kotite’s. My biggest issue with Ballard is that the definitive accomplishments he can list on a resume pale in comparison with that of my 10-year-old son.

Whoever is chosen to run the Jets will likely be choosing a QB with a very high draft pick in 2015. And whichever QB is selected will probably either sit behind (at least for a short while) or be shadowed by a veteran signal caller. Might that be Vick, who’ll be a very spry 35 next season? Stranger things have happened, especially for Gang Green.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Giants Dress Up as Contenders for Halloween]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 10:10:54 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/160*120/4367b3233ecc4c25b78c071bb14e426e.jpg

Washington just beat the Cowboys with Colt McCoy at quarterback, the Steelers just dropped 51 points on the Colts, and the Giants hopefully observed these developments and concluded, “Hot damn, this NFL season is wide open!”

Eli Manning and the G-Men have won two Super Bowls since 2007, and in neither instance were they considered favorites as the postseason began.

In 2007, when the Giants ended the Patriots’ bid for an undefeated season, New York was 10-6 and entered the playoffs as the No. 5 seed.

In 2011, when the Giants ended the Patriots’ bid to wash 2007 out of their mouths, New York went 9-7 and entered the playoffs as the No. 4 seed after winning the NFC East.

This year, when ending the Patriots’ season would be a hilarious hat trick, the Giants have the opportunity to finish with a better record than either of their two recent Super Bowl-winning seasons. The biggest difference? The Giants are 3-4 entering Week 9 this year, whereas they were 6—2 at the same point in 2007 and 5-2 at the same point in 2011.

People like to remember the Giants as upstart, out-of-the-blue teams in those Super Bowl-winning years, but they really weren’t. They were just wildly inconsistent, and they chose the second-half of the season (though obviously not the playoffs) to be the Hyde to their Jekyll.

This year they’ll have to flip the script.

The 2014 Giants are a team that can beat the also-rans of the league (Houston, Washington, Atlanta) but can’t play complete games against the contenders (Detroit, Arizona, Philadelphia, Dallas).

So who do they start the second half of the season playing? Four straight contenders: Indianapolis, @Seattle, San Francisco, Dallas.

“Well, those are four definite losses,” said every NFL observer when the schedule was released.

Indeed when the team assessed the schedule upon its release, this stretch of games looked like “Murderers' Row,” General Manager Jerry Reese said this week.

Time has a way of changing things.

No, these four games aren’t a Punch-and--Judy stretch (which happens to be the secret exercise routine that makes Giants punter Steve Weatherford the fittest player in the NFL), but how differently do people feel about these four teams now than, say, a week ago?

The Colts just made Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers look like the 1999 Rams.

The Seahawks are a soap opera, trading their best home-run threat (Percy Harvin) because he apparently treated teammates like WWE props, and are now deflecting questions about a supposedly malcontent star RB (Marshawn Lynch) and a quarterback who is supposedly not black enough for some teammates (Russell Wilson).

Luckily for Pete Carroll, NFL titles cannot be vacated.

The Cowboys, meanwhile, just lost to Washington at home, with quarterback Tony Romo reinjuring his back and Jerry Jones oddly injecting himself in the sideline decision of whether Romo should be reinserted into the game.

And the 49ers, well, they are good, and will soon be getting back some key contributors, with Aldon Smith, NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis set to return. I can’t convince myself the Giants can beat them – either during the season or in the postseason.

Run away, Giants, don’t go near the Niners! Just hope and pray that the Packers or Saints can knock them off in January. There’s no shame in that. What, you think the Steelers reached three recent Super Bowls by beating New England? Hell no, they gave them a WIDE berth and never played them once in those playoffs.

But the Colts and their sieve-like defense? The Seahawks and their soap opera distractions? The Cowboys and their tendency to play like the Cowboys? All winnable games. (Say it with me! Drink the Kool-Aid!)

If the Giants can go 3-1 over the next month, they’ll be 6-5 with this remaining schedule: @Jacksonville, @Tennessee, Washington, @St. Louis, Philadelphia.

Even if they only go 2-2 (because fine, winning in Seattle is unlikely), they’ll be 5-6 heading into a five-game homestretch that includes four very winnable games and a season-ending matchup against a hated rival.

Is this all a best-case scenario? Of course it is, but it's Halloween and I’m dressing the Giants up as a potential contender, if only for today.

Photo Credit: Rob]]>
<![CDATA[1 Killed, 2 Hurt in Shooting Outside Nightclub: NYPD]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:34:18 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Queens-Nightclub-Shooting-Scene.jpeg

A woman was killed and two other people were injured in a shooting outside a Queens nightclub early Friday, police say.

The woman, whose identity hasn't been released, was shot in the neck and legs outside Club Hive NYC on Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst at about 4:15 a.m., according to the NYPD.

She was taken to the hospital in critical condition and later died.

Another woman was shot in the buttocks and legs and a man's head was grazed by a bullet, police say. Both of those victims are in stable condition and are expected to survive.

Investigators say the shooting stemmed from a large fight inside the club that spilled onto the street.

The club said on its Facebook page it was hosting an after-party for a concert sponsored by a local hip-hop radio station Thursday night and Friday morning.

No arrests have been made.

<![CDATA[Man Tries to Attack Officer With Ax]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:22:55 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/dc-police-ax.jpg

In a brazen attack, a man wielding an ax tried to hurt a D.C. police officer early Friday morning, striking his vehicle and getting into a struggle with the officer.

The officer wasn't struck by the ax, but he was injured in the altercation that followed as he tried to tackle the assailant.

The suspect got away, said D.C. police.

It happened shortly before 3:20 a.m. Friday, as an officer with the city's Fifth District was patrolling in a marked squad car in the 3800 block of 13th Street NE. The officer noticed what police called a suspicious person, who avoided the officer by entering an alley. The officer followed in his car, where he was ambushed by the man with the ax, police said.

The ax shattered the car's window, and the officer got out of his car and chased the man.

In a brief struggle that followed, the officer suffered a dislocated shoulder and injured knee. He was not injured by the ax.

The officer was taken to a local hospital and is expected to recover.

Police K-9 units tracked a suspect to the 1000 block of Perry Street NE, near Michigan Avenue, but have not found him.

Neighbors who usually describe the area as pretty quiet are horrified.

"Yeah, I did hear a yell. I heard a scream," said nearby resident Christopher Niosi. "I have a seven-car garage back year. I'm wondering if they tried to get in."

Niosi's backyard stretches to the alley where the officer got out of the cruiser and struggled with the suspect.

"Sadly, it's a comment on society today, you know?" Niosi said. "You're in the city, you know? Sad to hear it."

A motive in the attack remains unknown, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said. She said in a release that authorities have been urging members of the police force to remain vigilant at all times.

"While we do not have any information at this point on the motivation surrounding today's attack, this situation underscores the need to always maintain a very high level of situational awareness while we are working," Lanier said in a release. "Recent incidents targeting uniformed law enforcement officers in Quebec, New York City, and now to one our own here in Washington, D.C. are reminders that we must always be ready for any eventuality."

Officers were going door- to-door in the area, searching for the suspect. The assailant will face felony assault charges once apprehended.

The incident comes just days after two NYPD officers were injured in an attack by a man with a hatchet in Queens, reported NBCNewYork.com.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of a law enforcement source
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<![CDATA[Man Caught on Camera Shooting Into Building Lobby: NYPD]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 08:57:24 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Bushwick-Building-Shooting-1031.jpg

Police say they are looking for the man who was caught on camera firing a gun into the lobby of a Brooklyn building and hitting a 31-year-old man inside Wednesday night.

The gunman and an accomplice were spotted on surveillance cameras going into the lobby of the building on Woodbine Street in Bushwick at about 11 p.m., according to the NYPD.

They walk back out a few seconds later and one of the two men is then seen pulling out a handgun and firing several times. Both men then ran away.

Officials say the 31-year-old man was hit in the left arm and chest. He was taken to Brookdale Hospital and is in stable condition.

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

<![CDATA[Radar Could Help Prevent Bird Strikes: Lawmakers]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 11:24:45 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/bird-stirke-radar.jpg

On Oct. 4, JetBlue flight 683 left John Kennedy F. International Airport around 7 a.m., bound for Orlando. But shortly after takeoff, the plane carrying 144 passengers returned to Kennedy. A JetBlue spokeswoman said the captain encountered a bird strike.
In April, passenger Grant Cordone left Kennedy on Delta Flight 1063 bound for Los Angeles. He was recording video out his window moments before a flock of birds went into the plane’s right engine.

“I’ll never forget the jolt of the plane,” said Cordone, a business consultant. “The cabin filled with smoke and it smelled like barbecue chicken.  It was the most terrifying moment of my life."

Since 2009, there have been 1,053 bird strikes at Kennedy, 728 at LaGuardia Airport and 697 at Newark Liberty Airport. 

There is a technology that can track and even predict where birds fly and flock. The radar, which is currently being tested at airports in Seattle and Dallas, has been effective at helping airport officials manage birds near airports, the Federal Aviation Administration wrote in a 2011 report. 

Airport officials can interpret the radar, figure out where the birds are and dipatch wildlife experts to either capture them or scare them away. Experts say that removing these hazards from the flight path of planes is one way of preventing bird strikes.  

"It's been very successful," said Steve Ozmek, resident wildlife biologist at Seatle-Tacoma International Airport, where it's being tested. "We are looking at approach corridors going to and from airports."

Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-Queens) and Congressman Jim Moran, a Virginia Democrat, sent a letter to the FAA asking why avian radar systems are not being used at all airports, particularly at LaGuardia Airport. 

In Jan. 2009, United Flight 1549 left LaGuardia but shortly after takeoff, a flock of geese disabled both of the planes engines. What happened next would be dubbed the "Miracle on the Hudson,"  when Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger splash-landed the plane on the Hudson River.  Everyone survived.

"You know this airport is one of the most congested and heavily used airports in the United States," Crowley told the I-Team. "And we have a history of bird strikes here."

The FAA says they tested avian radar at Kennedy Airport but the results of the study have not yet been published. Ed Herricks, a researcher from the University of Illinois who worked on the study told the I-Team that the area surrounding Kennedy Airport had particularly dense bird traffic that made reading the radars difficult.  Herricks added that any use of avian technology at Kennedy would require several radars, not just one.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta responded to the congressional letter by saying that the "FAA has been highly supportive of avian radar systems...but no U.S. airport has requested financial assistance to buy a system."

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which would be responsible for purchasing avian radars, told the I-Team the test run at Kennedy had "significant drawbacks," including "false positives, failures to detect birds, as well as an inability to update quickly enough for real time use."

Researchers admit the radars are not yet ready for real time capabilities, but avian radar is being used successfully at airports in Israel and Japan.  

"And we don’t think we’re asking too much for the flying public," said Crowley.  "For the safety of the surrounding homes as well."  

<![CDATA[Suspect Charged in Apartment Building Sex Attack: NYPD]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 08:45:25 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/192*120/suspect+morningside+heights.jpg

A homeless man who police say has a violent past was charged in an alleged sex assault on a Manhattan block filled with off-campus Columbia University students, authorities say. 

The 27-year-old victim was walking into her Morningside Heights apartment building at about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday when the suspect allegedly followed her into the vestibule and attacked her, police said.

He allegedly fondled her, then knocked her to the ground and tried to remove her underwear before he ran away, according to police.

The victim wasn't hurt and declined medical treatment at the scene, police said.

Police say 27-year-old Allen Taylor, was arrested early Friday and is charged with attempted rape, burglary and sexual abuse in the attack. Details on his prior arrests weren't immediately available, but police sources said they were violent in nature.

The area of the attack, West 113th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue, is popular with Columbia students living off campus. The school's public safety department issued an alert campuswide after the attack.

Columbia University grad student Zainie Jamani was startled when she recognized the picture in the email. She'd seen a man matching Taylor's description on the street the night before and said he appeared "pretty drunk and sort of kept turning around and looking back."

"We had one of those situations where he was sort of sidestepping one way, and we were going the other way," she said. "I remember thinking I'm so glad there's a doorman right here."

Another grad student with her at the time, Hannah Abbas, said the street was not even deserted at that time.

"There was a lot of people around," she said.

Columbia junior Cameron Molin said the area is "known for being a comfortable area for a lot of people, nobody really expects anything like that to happen near here."

<![CDATA[Kanye West Surprises Crowd at Jersey City Open Mic]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 15:21:52 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/kanye+the+dopeness+jersey+city.jpg

Rapper Kanye West shocked the crowd at a hip-hop open mic event in Jersey City when he dropped by unannounced to watch the daughter of a close family friend perform, the venue owner said.

West appeared at downtown Mexican restaurant The Dopeness just before its monthly open mic showcase started Wednesday night, The Jersey Journal first reported.

"It was totally sporadic, totally happened off the bat," restaurant owner Jon Scanlon told NBC 4 New York.

West, who entered with two bodyguards, was there to see 17-year-old Jahmila Sandifer, an amateur rapper and daughter of a close family friend who was performing at the showcase for the first time, according to Scanlon.

"It was a 15-minute thing. I walked him to the back, he used the restroom. He came and gave her a big hug and a kiss, watched her perform, and he was out," Scanlon told The Jersey Journal.

He said West's appearance energized the place.

"It really set the tone and everyone had a Kool-Aid smile on their face," Scanlon told the paper. "Nobody expected it, that a world-renowed rapper shows up out of nowhere. It totally hyped up the crowd for the night and it probably enhanced everyone's performance. He gave everybody life."

Event organizer Earl "Ego" Davis told the newspaper the notoriously brash rapper was friendly with the crowd, smiling and nodding at people.

"He showed so much respect to the culture and looked really comfortable," he said.

Scanlon said Sandifer is a Jersey City native who's been to the open mic event two or three times before she made her debut.

"She definitely showed a lot of skill," he told NBC 4 New York.

Scanlon estimated there were about 80 people who gathered to watch the open mic, and the crowd grew to 100 by the end.

"It was a great experience, and great for the community. It was awesome in a million different ways," he said. 

Photo Credit: Jon Scanlon]]>
<![CDATA[Man Dies in Fall at New York Mall]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 19:13:12 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/palisades+mall+fall+credit+journal+news.jpg

A 54-year-old man with developmental disabilities living in an upstate assisted living home fell to his death during a group trip to a New York mall Thursday in what police are describing as "a tragic accident."

Police say the man fell near Best Buy at The Palisades Center Mall in West Nyack shortly before 10:30 a.m. He apparently fell near the entrance of a third-floor escalator and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The man was on a "Day Habilitation" trip with a staff member and three other residents of The New York Foundling's Rockland County group home at the time of the accident. The staff member was there when it happened.

It wasn't clear why the man fell, nor was it known how many stories he fell.

The New York Foundling said it was "deeply saddened" by the man's death.

"The safety of the individuals in our care is paramount, and we are doing everything we can to help determine what led to this terrible accident," the group home said in a statement.

Grief counselors are being made available to staff and clients.

The Palisades mall is the largest shopping mall in the New York metropolitan area. 

Photo Credit: The Journal News]]>
<![CDATA[Dad of NJ Boy Who Fatally Shot Pal, 6, Pleads Guilty]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 20:44:14 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/anthony+senatore+guilty+plea.jpg

The father of a then-4-year-old New Jersey boy who fatally shot his 6-year-old neighbor with his father's unsecured gun has pleaded guilty to two counts of endangering the welfare of a child in exchange for less jail time, NBC 4 New York has learned.

Anthony Senatore of Toms River pleaded guilty Thursday to the charges in connection with the April 2013 shooting death of Brandon Holt. Senatore's young son shot Holt once in the head with Senatore's gun -- a .22-caliber rifle the father was accused of keeping loaded, unsecured in his bedroom.

Senatore's lawyer previously said his client was "deeply horrified over what took place and feels awful about it," but that the case should've been tried in civil, not criminal, court.

Last November, Senatore rejected a plea deal that would've required him to serve seven years in prison. In exchange for the guilty plea Thursday, Senatore will serve two three-year jail terms simultaneously when he is sentenced Feb. 5.

Senatore had originally faced six counts of child endangerment -- one for each of the five unsecured firearms investigators say they found accessible to his three children and one for endangering the welfare of Holt by leaving his gun in a place where his own child could get it. . 

The Holt family has filed a lawsuit against the Senatores accusing Senatore and his wife of recklessness that led to their son's death. .  

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Most NYers Approve of Cuomo's Ebola Response: Poll]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 19:20:01 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/cuomo+astorino1.jpg

Nearly two-thirds of New Yorkers approve of the way Gov. Andrew Cuomo handled the state's first case of Ebola, and even more are in favor of quarantining people who have come in contact with Ebola patients, according to a new poll that shows him with a solid lead over his gubernatorial challenger.

Sixty-three percent backed Cuomo on his reaction to the hospitalization of a New York City doctor with Ebola versus 22 percent who did not, the NBC 4 New York/The Wall Street Journal/Marist College poll released Thursday found.

The poll comes less than a week before Cuomo faces Republican challenger Rob Astorino at the polls in a bid for a second term. Cuomo is ahead of Astorino, the Westchester County executive, by almost two to one, with 56 percent of likely voters supporting the incumbent and 30 percent supporting Astorino. The Green Party candidate, Howie Hawkins, gets 6 percent of the vote.

Seven percent of respondents are undecided.

“This remains a lopsided contest between Cuomo and Astorino,” said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion.

The poll surveyed 1,042 adults from Oct. 26 through Oct. 28. It included 880 registered voters, 503 of whom were expected to vote. The margin of error for all adults was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The poll comes after Craig Spencer, a New York City doctor who had recently volunteered with Doctors Without Borders in Guinea, was hospitalized and diagnosed with Ebola last week, and after Cuomo announced strict new quarantine requirements for Ebola workers returning from West Africa. The day before Spencer developed symptoms and was isolated at Bellevue Hospital Center, he had gone running, visited a park, eaten at a restaurant, taken the subway and gone bowling in Brooklyn.

On Oct. 24, Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced a mandatory 21-day quarantine of all medical workers and others arriving from West Africa who had had contact with Ebola patients. The policy immediately drew criticism from public health and medical experts who called it unnecessary and likely to discourage much-needed volunteers in West Africa.

New York’s new protocols allow travelers to be quarantined in their own homes. If a traveler were planning to stay at a hotel, the New York City Health Department must first assess its suitability. Out-of-city and out-of-state quarantines can also be approved.

New Yorkers, according to the poll, are in favor of a ban on travel to the United States from the West African countries in the midst of an Ebola epidemic, with 57 percent approving a ban compared with 38 percent who do not. Only black likely voters disapproved of such a ban, with 42 percent backing one and 53 percent opposing one.

Cuomo has said that the federal government should consider a travel ban during the Ebola crisis.

An even greater percentage of New Yorkers, 82 percent, said they supported the 21-day quarantine of anyone arriving from West Africa who had contact with Ebola patients, regardless of whether the person were showing symptoms. Only 15 percent disapproved of that quarantine.

Joy Dunkley, a 53-year-old librarian from New York City, said there was no need for quarantines for medical personal who could monitor themselves, nor for a travel ban.

Dunkley, who has a master's degree in public health, said she was a Democrat but would not vote for Cuomo.

“I think he was just an opportunist,” said Dunkley. “This is an election year and we all know his intention is to run for president so he just thought he could jump on the band wagon. But it’s a poor way to treat our health professionals.”

In the race for governor, Cuomo is winning among three-quarters of Democrats and almost a third of Republicans, Miringoff said. The race is closest upstate, where the governor is ahead of Astorino by 9 percentage points. In New York City, Cuomo leads 72 percent to 13 percent. In the suburbs, Cuomo leads 57 percent to 37 percent.

Those numbers are little changed from September, when Cuomo led Astorino 54 percent to 29 percent among likely voters.

The majority of voters who favor Astorino are voting against Cuomo, he said. Forty-one percent of likely voters do not have a favorable opinion of Astorino compared with 32 percent who do. Twenty-seven percent said they were unsure or had never heard of Astorino.

Favorability numbers were flipped for Cuomo as compared with Astorino. Fifty-six percent had a favorable opinion of the governor, 37 percent had an unfavorable one and only 7 percent were unsure.

But if New York’s registered voters seem inclined to re-elect Cuomo, they have little interest in sending him to the White House. Only 20 percent said they wanted him to run for president in 2016. Sixty-seven percent said they did not.

“Not a big send-off at this point if Cuomo has wider ambitions,” Miringoff said.

<![CDATA[NYC "Actively Monitoring" 117 People at Risk for Ebola]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 08:49:34 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ebola+transport.jpg

The city is actively monitoring nearly 120 people who have recently returned from Ebola-stricken countries out of an abundance of caution as it seeks to prevent the spread of the deadly virus, Mayor de Blasio's administration said Thursday.

Marti Adams, a spokeswoman for the administration, said most of the 117 people being monitored arrived in New York City from Guinea, Sierra Leone or Liberia  on Oct. 11 or later. Active monitoring means state or local health officials establish regular communication with the individuals, rather than relying on them to self-monitor and report potential symptoms.

The list of people being monitored includes members of the staff at Bellevue Hospital Center who are caring for Craig Spencer, New York City's first and only confirmed case of Ebola.

Spencer tested positive for Ebola last week after developing a fever nearly two weeks after he returned to his Harlem home following a Doctors Without Borders stint treating patients in Guinea.

The emergency personnel who transported Spencer to the hospital and the lab workers who handled Spencer's blood are being monitored, along with Spencer's fiancee and two friends who had close contact with him in the days before he got sick. None has shown symptoms to this point.

Adams said the number of people being monitored is subject to change on a daily basis as more travelers from the countries affected by Ebola arrive in the city, as travelers leave the city and as the 21-day incubation period ends for people already being monitored.

Meanwhile, the city's Ebola response is expected to cost "many millions" of dollars, the mayor's office said earlier this week.

The Office of Management and Budget is gathering the financial details to date and computing future expenditures as it works to develop a full accounting of the costs of Ebola preparation and treatment.

But the anticipation is that the costs "will be significant," Adams said. She added that the city would seek federal assistance.

On Thursday, Gov. Cuomo added two hospitals to the list of facilities designated to treat potential Ebola patients in the state. Ten hospitals are now equipped to do so, and the governor said more were expected to be added to the list. Also Thursday, Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio announced they will create a program of financial incentives and other employment protections to encourage health care professionals to take Ebola assignments in West Africa to help contain the disease.

Several sick patients have been taken to local hospitals over the last few weeks with fevers or flu-like symptoms, though not all have been tested for Ebola. A 5-year-old Bronx boy was tested for the deadly virus after falling ill Sunday night following a trip to West Africa, but authorities said Tuesday he had a respiratory infection and would be removed from an isolation room.

Ebola has early symptoms in common with diseases like malaria, salmonella, cholera and the flu, and though the chances of the average New Yorker contracting the virus are slim, health officials are conducting tests in select situations out of an abundance of caution to ensure no outbreak.  

<![CDATA[Drunk Driver Tried to Lure Girls at Bus Stop: Police]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 19:44:02 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/jake+giffuni.jpg

A Long Island man drove up to two girls waiting at a bus stop and asked if they wanted a ride to school while he was intoxicated behind the wheel, police say. 

The 23-year-old suspect drove his 2002 Honda Accord to the stop on East Pulaski Road in Huntington Thursday morning and asked the 13-year-old and 15-year-old sisters if they wanted a ride to school, according to police. The girls said no, and the man drove away. 

The girls' parents called 911, and a responding police officer found the suspect, Jake Giffuni, in his car in front of his home and determined he was intoxicated, police said. 

Giffuni was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated and two counts of child endangerment. He's being held overnight at Suffolk's Second Precinct station for arraignment at First District Court in Central Islip Friday, police said.

Attorney information wasn't immediately available. 

<![CDATA[Man Put Acid Bombs in Ex's Car]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 21:29:02 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/bottle-bomb-083011.jpg

A 53-year-old Florida man will spend 10 years in prison after stalking an ex-girlfriend who lives in Stamford and planting bombs filled with hydrochloric acid in her car, severely burning her, prosecutors say.

"I don't know what possessed me to do what I did," Frank Mendoza wrote in a letter to the court just before he was sentenced Thursday, apologizing and saying he had intended only to "scare" his victim.

Mendoza was sentenced to 10 years followed by three years of supervised release, after he pleaded guilty to one count of interstate stalking in June. His plea deal had stipulated a sentence ranging from seven to 10 years.

Mendoza, formerly of Jacksonville, Florida, was arrested in Jacksonville on Aug. 17, 2012, almost two years after he is accused of having planted the bombs that left his ex-girlferiend with severe burns.

Prosecutors said Mendoza began dating the victim in 2008 and “became emotionally and psychologically abusive” toward her. The victim told authorities Mendoza had a lengthy criminal background and claimed to be part of a gang, and that she also noticed him carrying a gun.

The victim tried to break off the relationship and told Mendoza she was moving to Rhode Island for work-related training in September 2010, prosecutors said. In reality, she moved to Stamford.

A month later, Mendoza discovered her real address and began making harassing phone calls to the victim and her friends and colleagues, according to prosecutors. He allegedly traveled to Connecticut in November and showed up at her home and workplace, then returned home to Florida.

Mendoza returned on Dec. 8, 2010, when he flew into New York City and rented a car to drive to Connecticut, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. He drove to the victim’s home in Stamford and planted two bottle bombs in her car containing hydrochloric acid and aluminum foil wicks, according to prosecutors.

The victim went out to her car around 11 p.m. and noticed the interior was wet. She opened the driver’s side door and noticed a bottle on the floor, which began to “smoke and fizz” when she picked it up, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors said the victim put it down, and the bottle exploded behind her as she ran away. Investigators learned that the first bottle had blown up before she arrived at her car. As a result, the victim “nearly suffered a horrible, disfiguring injury at [Mendoza’s] hands,” prosecutors said.

Photo Credit: YouTube]]>
<![CDATA[Suspect Arrested in Road Rage Death]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 16:21:13 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/th-perla-road-rage-16x9---00002804.jpg

Police have arrested the man they say gunned down an Oakland mother of four in a road rage shooting as she and her husband returned from grocery shopping Sunday.

Carlos Stephen Dubose, 20, of Oakland, was arrested Wednesday in Elk Grove on a murder charge, Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent said at a Thursday news conference.

"Perla's life mattered," Whent said. "All life matters in Oakland."

Not many details were released on why police suspect Dubose of being linked to the shooting death of Perla Avina, 30. She was shot on 98th Avenue as she and husband Mando Lopez had just bought breakfast ingredients near their home about 12:30 p.m. She died of her wounds shortly afterward.

Lead investigator Leo Sanchez said he was limited in what he wanted to release about the "road rage" death, which is "still unfolding." Dubose was arrested in connection with a murder, but as of Thursday morning, he was not formally charged.

Sanchez said there are no other known suspects and would not comment on how many other people may or may not have been in Dubose's car at the time.

Police did confiscate a silver four-door Volvo and a firearm from Dubose. He added there was some type of "confrontation" involving Dubose, though he wasn't specific. Police credited "a significant amount" of surveillance video and community tips for the arrest.

Since Sunday, police had been looking for who fired bullets into Lopez's 1998 Toyota Camry in what police spokeswoman Johnna Watson said was likely related to some type of road rage.

Earlier this week, Lopez, whose full name is Luis Armando, told sister station Telemundo that he remembers a car tried to veer in front of him on the way back from the market, and "I guess I didn't let him go."

Avina and Lopez have four children, ages 1 to 14. She was a medical receptionist and, according to neighbor Dwyane Jackson, who performed CPR on Avina before she died, "the heart of the family."

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<![CDATA[School Bus Driver, 60, Accused of Masturbating on Road]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 17:05:57 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/bertart+masturbate.jpg

A 60-year-old upstate school bus driver was arrested for allegedly masturbating behind the wheel, authorities say.

Police say a student on the bus in Suffern Wednesday morning allegedly saw the driver expose and touch himself. The alleged behavior "lasted a short period of time," according to police.

The student was dropped off at a nearby parochial school and told his parents and school officials.

The driver, Robert Bertart, of Orangetown, was subsequently arrested and charged with public lewdness and endangering the welfare of a child.

Vel Coach Company of Nanuet, which operates the bus Bertart was driving, said Bertart no longer works there. The company said it is cooperating with authorities.

"To help safeguard against this type of incident, we do conduct background checks that include fingerprinting and FBI criminal history of all drivers during the hiring process," the company said in a statement. "We have zero tolerance for these incidents."

Bertart had been with the company for about six years and drove buses for various schools. 

Michael George contributed to this report. 

<![CDATA[City to Close Streets Along Ghoulish Parade Routes]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 08:57:16 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/20131031-Village-Halloween-Parade-2013_8.jpg

Throngs of ghosts, goblins and assorted ghoulish characters take to the streets Friday in Halloween parades across the city.

Transportation officials say the following streets will be closed from 7 to 11 p.m. in Manhattan for the Village Halloween Parade:

  • 6th Avenue between Canal and West 18th streets.
  • Dominick Street between Varick Street and 6th Avenue
  • Sullivan Street between Broome and Spring streets
  • Broome Street between Sullivan and Varick streets
  • Spring Street between Sullivan and Varick streets
  • West 10th Street between 6th and Greenwich avenues
  • West 16th Street to West 18th Street between 5th and 7th avenues.

The following streets will be closed from 6 to 8 p.m. in Brooklyn for the Park Slope Halloween Parade:

  • Seventh Avenue between 3rd and 14th streets
  • 14th Street between 7th and 8th avenues
  • 3rd Street between 5th and 7th avenues

In the Bronx, City Island Avenue between Hawkins and Fordham streets will be closed from 6 to 6:30 p.m. for the Children’s Halloween Parade.

Information about street closings and traffic advisories is available on the city DoT website.

Photo Credit: AP]]>