<![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 Thu, 31 Jul 2014 08:16:12 -0400 Thu, 31 Jul 2014 08:16:12 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Pit Bull Survives Being Tossed From Moving Car]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 07:34:14 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/pitbull+bqe.jpg

A pit bull is convalescing in a Brooklyn animal hospital after being thrown from a moving car on a New York City highway Tuesday evening and landing on a busy street 25 feet below.

A driver said he couldn't believe what he saw falling from the sky on Meeker Avenue below the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in Greenpoint.

"The way he was falling, head over heels down on the pavement, it just made us think we had probably seen a dog being thrown over the barrier," said Jon Ernsberger, whose car was almost hit by the falling dog.

Two bike riders under the span were stunned to come upon the pit bull, crying and struggling to stand. The witnesses called police and took the dog to an animal hospital.

The dog, named Meeker for the avenue where he was discovered, suffered no broken bones but was treated for a collapsed lung and may need surgery to repair a hernia from the impact.

But the pit bull is expected to make a full recovery, according to the veterinarian taking care of him. 

"Your first reaction is obviously anger," said Brett Levitzke of the Veterinary Emergency and Referral Group in Cobble Hill, "followed up quickly by very thankful that this good Samaritan saw it happen and then brought him in. Because without him, Meeker would probably be dead right now."



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Family of Man Who Died in Police Custody in 2013 Suing NYPD]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 07:04:44 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Wrongful-Death-Case-NYPD-Staten-Island.jpg

The family of a man who died in police custody more than a year before Eric Garner’s death is suing the NYPD, alleging officers beat the 52-year-old during an arrest and later refused to get him medical attention when he said he couldn’t breathe.

Irving Mizell died in police custody on March 7, 2013, after he was arrested for allegedly violating a protection order filed by an estranged girlfriend by knocking on the door to her Staten Island apartment.

Mizell's family says that they think he was taken to a stairwell during the arrest, where they say he was beaten out of sight of surveillance cameras.

Later on, while being booked at a police precinct, the family says, officers allegedly refused to get him medical attention when he complained about having difficulty breathing, only calling an ambulance when he collapsed in a cell.

“It’s horrible,” Mizell’s brother George said. “My brother died in fear.”

The medical examiner’s office ruled that Mizell’s death was accidental and was caused by a heart attack.

But the Citizens Complaint Review Board, an independent city agency that investigates complaints against the police department, said there is evidence that one officer used excessive force and that two others didn’t get Mizell medical help when they should have.

The city’s law department said it had yet to review the case, and the NYPD Wednesday refused to comment.

The three officers remain on active duty.

The officers work in the same precinct as the cops accused of putting Garner in a chokehold while trying to cuff him for selling untaxed single cigarettes. Garner, who was pronounced dead shortly after his arrest, could be heard on cellphone video from the scene saying, “I can’t breathe.”

Mizell’s brother said that hearing about Garner’s death earlier this month struck an emotional chord.

"I cried, especially when he said he couldn't breathe,” George Mizell said. “Because that's what everybody told me they heard my brother say.”

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<![CDATA[Gunfire Erupts During Armed Robbery, Newark Cop Shot]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 06:50:32 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/newark+police+shooting+july+30.jpg

A Newark police officer was shot in the leg during a dramatic confrontation with an armed robber inside a convenience store Wednesday afternoon, officials and witnesses say. 

Employees at the bodega near Clinton Avenue and Stratford Place said the suspect entered the store at about 3 p.m., ordered everyone to get on the floor and demanded money.

One employee, James Harris, ran out, locked the suspect inside the store and flagged down a police officer passing by. That appeared to set the gunman off, according to Harris.

"He was coming towards the door, pointing the gun at the door at me, but he didn't know the officer was right there," said Harris. "So I stepped to the side and the officer stepped in front and told him to drop the gun." 

Witnesses who were in the store at the time said the suspect ignored warnings from the officer to drop the gun and fired at the officer. The officer then fired twice at the suspect.

"The guy wouldn't give up," witness Lloyd Darby said of the robber. "He wanted to kill." 

Store employees helped care for the officer until help arrived and were praised by Mayor Ras Baraka.

"The civilians, the residents in this area, we want to thank them," he said. "They helped apprehend the gentleman who was robbing the establishment."

The unidentified officer, a 19-year veteran of the force, is in good condition.

"He's doing good," said Baraka. "He's going to be OK." 

Store employees said the officer is known and well-liked in the neighborhood. 

"He's a good officer, a stand-up officer," said Lloyd.

The suspect was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. He's expected to face charges.

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<![CDATA["Tip Bombers" Surprise Subway Artists With Cash, Cheers]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 06:57:21 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Tip-Bombing-NYC.jpg

A group of do-gooders has started surprising city subway performers with big tips and cheers, swarming their underground performance spots and filling their instrument cases with cash in a practice called “tip bombing.”

Twice this month, groups of people have come out to listen to artists and drop them extra tips in a Facebook-organized act of kindness. Organizers pick a busker to “bomb” and send out a message saying where and when they'll circle the artist and leave the tips.

The practice is similar to a nationwide trend, also called "tip bombing," where diners leave large tips for waitresses at inexpensive restaurants.

Robert Leslie was the first subway artist to get tip bombed. The group surprised him in a lower Manhattan subway station last week. He was tipped $319 in just a few minutes.

“Midway through, I was thinking ‘this is going really well,’” Leslie said in a YouTube video. “But then more and more people kept coming and I was like, ‘Wow, I should play here every day.’ I felt like Jay Z or something.”

On Wednesday, a group surprised an artist known as “Guitaro 5,000” in a subway station in Times Square.

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<![CDATA[Man Tries to Shoot Man in Subway Station: Cops]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 07:49:25 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/subway+gun.jpg

Police are looking for a suspect who tried to fire a gun at a 50-year-old man after an argument in a Manhattan subway station earlier this month.

Police say the suspect and the man got into a dispute on a northbound No. 4 train around 3 a.m. July 13. They both got off the train at the 51st Street-Lexington Avenue station, and the suspect pulled out a gun.

Police say the suspect tried to fire the weapon, but the gun didn't go off. The suspect ran away.

Authorities released a surveillance image of the suspect (above).

Anyone with information about him or the altercation is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.  



Photo Credit: Handout]]>
<![CDATA[Man Accused of Dragging Woman by Hair, Robbing Her]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 07:18:50 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/hand-cuffs.jpg

Police say a man has been arrested in the robbery of an 18-year-old Brooklyn woman who was dragged out of an elevator in her apartment building by her hair, then punched and kicked. 

Tyler Hoppin has been charged with robbery, assault and criminal possession of stolen property in the mugging at the building in Midwood at about 9:30 p.m. Sunday. 

The man was cuffed one day after authorities released footage of the attack, which shows two robbers following the 18-year-old woman into the elevator, then dragging her into a hallway by her hair. The robbers then toss her to the floor and punch and kick her repeatedly.

They're then seen running out of the building with the woman's purse. One of the suspects tossed the bag in the escape. 

The victim was treated for bruising around her eyes at Coney Island Hospital. 

A second suspect is still at large.

It's not clear if Hoppin has an attorney.

Anyone with information about the second suspect is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS. 

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<![CDATA[Teen Arrested in Deadly Shooting of Girl on Queens Bus]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 07:21:30 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/bus+shot+queens_edited-1.jpg

Police say they've arrested a second person in the deadly shooting of a 14-year-old girl on a Queens bus last year.

A 16-year-old Brooklyn boy was arrested Wednesday on charges of second-degree murder, criminal use of a firearm, criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment in the May 2013 shooting death of D'Aja Robinson.

Robinson, of South Jamaica, was riding a city bus on her way home from a Sweet 16 party when she was shot in the head and killed by a stray bullet from gunfire on the street, police said.

She was sitting about three rows from the back of the Q6 bus near Sutphin and Rockaway boulevards when the shot came through the bus and killed her.

Police and U.S. Marshals arrested 21-year-old Kevin McClinton in South Carolina several weeks after the shooting and charged him with second-degree murder, criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment. 

The teen suspect's and McClinton's roles in the deadly shooting were not immediately clear.



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York/Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Plane Evacuated at LaGuardia for Smoke in Cockpit]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 07:22:08 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/lga+plane+evac+july+30.jpg

A plane leaving LaGuardia Airport returned shortly after takeoff and was evacuated after the pilot reported smoke in the cockpit, officials say. 

Envoy Air 3340, headed to Knoxville, Tennessee, turned around and made an emergency landing on Runway 22 at about 3:20 p.m. Wednesday, according to the FAA.

The passengers were escorted from the Embraer 145 and bused to the terminal.

The runway was closed briefly as officials responded. 

None of the 44 passengers or three crew members were injured, officials say. 



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Report Ranks Best and Worst NYC Subway Lines]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 19:08:37 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/183*120/76025564.jpg

The No. 2 train is the worst subway line in the city when it comes to service regularity and delays related to mechanical breakdowns, according to a report by a rider advocacy group.

Patrons on the No. 2 line are also frustrated by the lack of available seats, according to the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign's annual "State of the Subways" report, which measures six indicators of subway performance straphangers have deemed crucial.

Most of the measures evaluated are based on weekday statistics.

The report gave the No. 7 line the top rating of the 20 subway lines reviewed. The Straphangers Campaign says that line runs most frequently and performed above average in terms of subway car cleanliness and seat availability.

Fewer delays due to mechanical breakdowns are also reported on the No. 7 line compared with the rest of the system.

System-wide, subway cars are dirtier than they were last year, though 90 percent of them are rated clean, according to the report. Cars are also more likely to break down, with the Straphangers Campaign finding a mechanical failure every 172,700 miles between December 2012 and December 2013 compared with one every 153,382 miles in the prior year.

In a statement, the MTA said it has been transparent about the data provided in the Straphangers Campaign report. Spokesman Adam Lisberg also said the agency regularly analyzes data to enhance servie and develop new improvement initiatives.

"Customers can go to our website at any time where the most up to date information and performance indicators on our subways are updated on a monthly basis – everything from quality of service, to cleanliness to safety," Lisberg said.

Click here to review the Straphangers Campaign's full report or to get more detailed information on the individual lines assessed.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Security Guard, 4 Others Charged in Caesars Robbery]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 07:08:48 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Caesars-Robbery-Suspects.jpg

A former security guard and four other people are in custody after they allegedly stole over $180,000 from an Atlantic City casino.

Izyiah Plummer, 19, of Atlantic City, Lance Rogers, 20, also of Atlantic City, and Dwayne Morgan, 20, Monique Kelly, 19, and Aaron Evans, 23, all of Pleasantville, are charged with robbery, aggravated assault and other related offenses.

Police say two masked men entered the Caesars Atlantic City casino on the 2100 block of Pacific Avenue around 6:20 a.m. July 21. At least one of the suspects pulled out a gun, according to police.

The men allegedly removed three cases from a kiosk machine trolley and then left with two of the cases, which held more than $181,000. They then drove away in a dark sedan.

Police arrested all five suspects last week following an investigation.

Plummer worked as a security officer at Caesars, according to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. A source told NBC10 Plummer was fired from the job on July 9, nearly two weeks before the robbery.

Evans' aunt, who did not want to be identified, told NBC10 her nephew is innocent.

"My nephew was not even in town," she said. "He's been wrongly accused."

Detectives from the Casino Gaming Bureau are working with local agencies to identify any additional suspects and recover more evidence. Anyone with information on the robbery is asked to call the New Jersey State Police Casino Gaming Bureau at 609-441-7464.



Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[2 Homes Destroyed, 13 Hurt in Large Bronx Fire]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 07:29:06 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/bronx+fire+july+30.jpg

Thirteen people, including 11 firefighters, were hurt in a large fire at a Bronx home that displaced four families Wednesday afternoon, officials say. 

The four-alarm fire broke out on the 4500 block of Hill Avenue in Wakefield at around 2 p.m., according to the FDNY. It was under control by 3:30 p.m.

One firefighter was taken to Cornell Medical Center in serious condition for first-degree burns to the neck, officials say. Ten other firefighters had minor injuries and were taken to New York Hospital along with two injured civilians.

Chopper 4 over the scene showed the fire appeared to spread from one two-story house to another.

The Red Cross is assisting the four families displaced in the fire.



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[SoCal Toddler Dies in Hot Car: Cops]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 08:04:39 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/toddler-dies-sylmar.jpg

A 3-year-old boy died Wednesday after becoming trapped in a hot car in Sylmar, police said.

Officers were called about 3:30 p.m. to a home in the 14400 block of West Foothill Boulevard, where the child had climbed into a Toyota Camry and was unable to get out, the Los Angeles Police Department said.

The child was taken to a hospital in grave condition, police said. He was later pronounced dead.

Investigators believe the child was playing outside while his parents and 14-year-old brother were napping inside. Police say the boy's parents told detectives they all took a nap around noon. 

It was unclear how the child became locked inside the car. Investigators said the father found him around 3 p.m. in the car parked in the family's front yard and called 911.

It was 88 degrees in Sylmar at noon and 98 degrees by 3 p.m. In a car with the windows up, the temperature is exponentially higher.

No arrests have been made in connection with the boy's death, police said.

"Our investigation will determine if this was an accident or something worse, all we have to go on right now are the statements from the parents," LAPD Lt. Paul Vernon said.

Police said they were interviewing the parents at a relative's home Wednesday night. For now, investigators are treating this incident as an accident and awaiting the coroner's autopsy report to determine the exact cause of death.

"They had several kids running around the yard, they were really nice people and seemed to be really good with their kids," neighbor Kim Kesley said.

This is the 19th hot car death this year in the United States, according to San Francisco State University. 

NBC4's Samia Khan and Kate Larsen contributed to this report.
 

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<![CDATA[LA Flood Twice as Bad as Feared]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 21:52:01 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/193*120/ucla+flood+water+main+20140730_082724_resized+%286%29.jpg

More than 20 million gallons of water were lost during Tuesday's massive water main break near UCLA, doubling the initial estimate, officials said.

Crews were still shutting off water to the busted pipe under Sunset Boulevard north of the UCLA campus Wednesday afternoon. Repairs weren't even expected to begin until after the water was shut off, said James B. McDaniel, the senior assistant general manager for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's water system.

"This is a very unfortunate incident," he said during an afternoon press conference. "This is one of our bigger ruptures. It is a major event for us."

Hundreds of vehicles are stranded in flooded parking structures and historic Pauley Pavilion's court shows signs of damage after a water main break Tuesday that sent up to 10 million gallons of water gushing onto Sunset Boulevard and the UCLA campus for more than three hours.

At a mid-day news conference, school officials said they are waiting for areas to "dry out" before they can provide detailed damage estimates. Campus officials characterized the campus as in a "drying phase" Wednesday after the water removal process continued overnight.

Large blower machines were being used in the historic Pauley Pavilion, Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center, JD Morgan Center and John Wooden Center. School officials said Wednesday morning the Pauley Pavilion court showed signs of "expansion and buckling."

The break occurred at the Y-shaped meeting point of a 30-inch pipe installed in 1921 and a 36-inch pipe installed in 1956. Both pipes ruptured and blew open a 25-foot wide, 5-foot deep sinkhole at about 3:30 p.m. in the 10600 block of West Sunset Boulevard, officials said.

"I can't speculate on what caused the leak at this point," said Jeff Bray, of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. "This repair is at the Y where the 30-inch main comes in at an extreme angle to the 36-inch main. The top of the pipe just lifted up and created an opening in the pipe."

As for repairs and detailed damage assessments, crews must wait until after the closure of two leaks discovered along the pipes. The pipes deliver water to the area at a high velocity from Upper Stone Canyon Reservoir, a body of water about eight miles north of Westwood near the Sepulveda Pass.

"We cannot begin repairs until we get the water completely down," Bray said. "We're looking at an extended period of time."

Repairs are likely to cause traffic problems in the heavily traveled area through Thursday because Sunset Boulevard between Veteran Avenue and Hilgard Avenue will be closed for road work.

Two parking structures and six facilities on the UCLA campus were damaged. UCLA had crews working throughout the night to remove water from those buildings.

"Unfortunately, UCLA was the sink for this water source," said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said.

About 900 cars were inside Parking Lot 4 and Parking Lot 7, the two parking structures affected by the flooding. Officials say because the water may be mixed with toxic chemicals such as oil and gas, the water has to be safely removed and cannot just be pumped out into the street. UCLA is working with private companies to remove the water from the structure, Moore said.

Officials say the cars in the structure will not be accessible until Friday.

"A little less than half are totally submerged," said Kelly Schmader, assistant vice chancellor for UCLA.

Motorists traveling in the area should use Santa Monica Boulevard, Wilshire Boulevard or Olympic Boulevard to avoid the road closure.

All UCLA summer camp programming, including recreational activities, were suspended Wednesday, according to campus officials.

NBC4's Samia Khan contributed to this report.

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<![CDATA[Mystery of Ship Buried Under World Trade Center Revealed ]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 19:08:13 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/191*120/ground+zero+buried+ship2.jpg

Remnants of an 18th-century ship found buried in soil 20 feet under the World Trade Center site four years ago have been traced to Colonial-Era Philadelphia, according to a new study.

The 32-foot piece of the vessel was found in July 2010 as bulldozers excavated a parking garage for the future building. At the time, historians said the ship likely dated back to the 1700s, and that it was defunct by the time lower Manhattan's western shoreline covered it up around 1818.

But the mystery of its origins persisted -- until now.

Scientists at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory analyzed the skeletal remains of the ship using dendrochronology, which relies on tree rings to determine dates and chronological order.

In a study published in the journal Tree Ring Research, the scientists say they traced the white oak used in the ship's frame to an old growth forest in the Philadelphia era. The article says the trees were probably cut around 1773, shortly before the Revolutionary War.

Wood sampled from Independence Hall in Philadelphia 20 years ago had growth rings that matched those from the World Trade Center ship, suggesting the wood used in both constructions came from the same area.

Scientists say they believe the ship is a Hudson River Sloop, designed by the Dutch to carry passengers and cargo over shallow, rocky water. The article says it was likely built in Philadelphia, a shipbuilding hub during the Colonial era, and used for 20 to 30 years before sailing to what would become its final stop in lower Manhattan.

Workers and archaeologists had also found a 100-pound anchor in the same area as the ship, but it wasn't clear at the time if it belonged to the ship.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Plane Crash in San Diego Kills 1]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 01:37:05 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Plane-Crash-Kearny-3.jpg

A small plane crashed in the parking lot of a busy San Diego shopping center Wednesday evening, killing one of the two women aboard and wounding the other.

The fixed wing single-engine Mooney M20L crashed in a parking lot between Target and the Costco Business Center off Convoy Street in Kearny Mesa, about a mile from Montgomery Field, around 5:30 p.m. It landed near parked cars but away from main store entrances.

The 52-year-old pilot and her 80-year-old passenger were taken to Sharp Memorial Hospital with major injuries, according to fire officials. The 80-year-old woman suffered serious burns and died at the hospital. The condition of the pilot has not been released.

Two witnesses who may have been trying to rescue the victims were treated for minor burns, fire officials said. One was taken to the hospital, and the other was treated at the scene. The plane did not hit any people in the parking lot when it crashed.

Witness Gregg Smith was leaving work across the street and was only one block away when he saw and heard the aircraft crash.

“I heard the plane coming – it was a different sound – and I knew they didn’t have enough power to make the lift they needed to do,” Smith told NBC 7.

At that point, Smith said he looked up and saw the plane making a turn. “It missed my building probably by about 10 or 15 feet,” he added.

“I heard the distinctive thud of it hitting one of the light poles in the parking lot, and I heard it crash. The next thing I saw was a bunch of flames and black smoke,” Smith continued.

Helicopter pilot Vince Carter was taking off from Montgomery Field at the time of the crash. Carter told NBC 7 he heard the pilot’s distress call and heard her say her power was going out seconds before the crash.

“This is a miracle and testament to her skill as a pilot. I really hope she comes through everything okay. This could have very easily killed a lot of people,” he said. “You could imagine, just shopping at Target, and a plane comes through the roof full of fuel.”

Carter said the area where the aircraft landed is really the only place where the pilot could have gone without causing a lot of damage.

“When we’re flying, we need air going over the wings at a specific speed to generate lift. Once you lose enough air speed, there’s not enough wind going over the wings to generate lift and you don’t fly any more. As you can see, the plane is in a relatively flat position. It didn’t travel extremely far when it hit the ground, so you can assume that it didn’t have a lot of forward momentum going into this,” he said.

“So what probably happened is that in a loss of power and finding a place to put it down, she stalled it out pretty much perfectly in the only spot she possibly could have,” he continued.

"I don’t know what kind of control they had, but they obviously had enough control to bring it down into an area where they were not going to crash into vehicles or buildings,” San Diego Fire-Rescue spokesperson Lee Swanson said.

A small fire sparked upon impact, but firefighters extinguished it quickly, Swanson said.

Witnesses said several heroic bystanders rushed to the aid of the pilot and her passenger right after the crash, pulling the women from the wreckage.

A Costco employee who witnessed the crash told NBC 7 that the person taken to the hospital with minor burns to his hand is another Costco employee.

The Target store was not evacuated and remained open Wednesday evening. A Target employee said fire crews were assessing the building for damage.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is on scene investigating the cause of the crash. The FAA said the aircraft bounced while attempting to land at nearby Montgomery Field but continued westbound and crashed in the Costco parking lot.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will lead the investigation and likely post a preliminary report of the accident within the next week or two. Still, officials said it typically takes the NTSB months to come up with a probable cause for accidents.

Per protocol, neither agency will release the identities of those involved in the aircraft accident.

San Diego Police Department Sgt. Steve Behrendt said the airplane struck a portion of the Target building before landing.

“It did hit the top of the Target building. There is some debris on the roof of the Target and some in the garden area. Then one of the light poles was taken out by the plane,” Behrendt explains.

NBC 7 spoke with a family member of the pilot at UCSD Medical Center Wednesday night who said the survivor of the crash was in stable condition.

According to FAA records, the aircraft is co-owned but registered to San Diego resident William Logan. The family member confirmed William Logan was not aboard the aircraft.

The Montgomery Field radio tower received a distress call from the aircraft right before the crash. The transciption of the call indicates the pilot knew she was in trouble.

“Problem now. I’m not getting any altitude her,” the pilot says.

“27 mike-pappa, full throttle,” the tower answers.

“I’m full throttle,” the pilot replies.

“27 mike-pappa, turn back to the field if you’re able,” the tower says.

“I’m going down,” responds the pilot.

Check back for updates on this developing story.



Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[UCLA Flooding: Before and After]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 20:06:09 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/UCLA-pavilion-after.jpg

A water main break Tuesday in Los Angeles' Westwood area sent millions of gallons of water gushing onto the campus of UCLA, flooding parking structures, the famed Pauley Pavilion and other buildings.

These photos reveal the extent of the damage with images taken before and after the affected areas. UCLA officials have yet to establish a damage estimate, but several campus buildings and parking structures were flooded after two water mains burst at their meeting point near the campus.

The break sent an estimated 10 million gallons of water onto Sunset Boulevard and the UCLA campus.

These photos show Sunset Boulevard before and after the water main break. The break shattered pavement and created a large sinkhole from which a geyser of water sprayed for hours. The before photo is from Google Earth, and the after photo is from KNBC-TV's NewsChopper4:

These photos show UCLA's Pauley Pavilion, which suffered severe flooding as a result of the water main break. The court, home to the UCLA Bruins, showed signs of buckling and expansion after it was under about eight inches of water, campus officials said. The before photo was provided by UCLA; the after photo was shot by the Associated Press:

These photos show the plaza outside the Acosta Center, which was flooded after the water main break. The before photo is from Google Earth; the after photo is from Gadi Schwartz.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[NYPD Probing Anti-Islam Fliers Posted in Brooklyn]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 15:25:37 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/anti-muslim-flier-bensonhurst.jpg

The NYPD Hate Crime Task Force is investigating anti-Muslim fliers that were posted in Bensonhurst over the weekend.

Police from the 62nd Precinct received a call Saturday morning from a 65-year-old woman who said a flier that read "Islamists go to your country!!! USA Hates you!!!" was posted on the front of her apartment building on 21st Drive.

Police canvassed the area and found 10 more identical fliers with anti-Muslim language and images.

Anyone with information about the fliers is asked to call police. 


 

 

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<![CDATA[Deadly Sucker-Punch Attack Family Stunned by Charge]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 12:31:16 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/sucker+punch.jpg

A grieving Bronx family is stunned that the teen accused of sucker-punching their father and husband is being charged with a misdemeanor that could result in the suspect doing less than a year in jail.

Ildefonso Romero Jr. died days after a teenage boy allegedly sucker-punched him outside his home on Thieriot Avenue in Soundview on June 21. Witnesses said Romero had been protecting a girl from local teens who were apparently causing trouble in the street, and one of the teens punched Romero.

Romero fell and hit his head on the curb, and his son found him unconscious on the ground.

"I'm holding his hand and I'm looking at him and asking him, you know, 'Papi, wake up, Papi, get up,' and he wouldn't respond," said Noel Romero, the victim's son.

Ildefonso Romero's wife Jenny Guevarez said tearfully, "I kept on calling his name so he could wake up."

Romero died June 24.

Police arrested a 17-year-old, and though prosecutors believe he caused Romero's death, the Bronx district attorney's office has charged him with misdemeanor assault, which means he could end up serving less than a year if he's convicted.

"This guy kills my father and he's only gonna serve a year in jail? What kind of justice is that?" asked Noel Romero.

"A slap on the wrist, it's not fair," added Jennifer Perez, the victim's daughter.

The district attorney's office wouldn't comment other than to say the evidence didn't warrant additional charges. Sources familiar with the case say the district attorney believes there was no recklessness or intent to cause serious bodily harm.

Attorney information for the suspect wasn't immediately available.

Romero's family says the charge doesn't amount to justice for a man who raised five children, was two years shy of retiring from his job at Lincoln Hospital and was killed days before turning 60 and celebrating 34 years of marriage.

"I was planning his 60th birthday," said Guevarez. "A surprise party, and the surprise was for us. In one second, they took his life away."

Local officials are asking the district attorney's office to upgrade the charges, and are also drafting legislation that would make it mandatory for similar one-punch crimes to result in more jail time.



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Boy Diagnosed With Rare Strain of Lyme Disease]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 12:21:17 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/lyme+outbreak+long+island.jpg

A Long Island boy has been diagnosed with a rare strain of Lyme disease after playing in a wooded area with friends recently, and one Suffolk County doctor says the disease seems to be infecting people at an alarming rate this summer.

The 13-year-old boy began to get sick two weeks after he was bitten by the bug, suffering a fever and "excruciating" headaches, according to his mother Christine Brennan.

Dr. Nadia Persheff, a pediatrician at Hampton Pediatrics, said the symptoms of the rare strain of Lyme disease, Borrelia Miyamoto, are different, and can include anxiety for children.

Persheff said she's treating people infected by Lyme disease at a concerning rate. In the past, she would get cases weekly, but she now says she sees patients infected by Lyme disease almost daily.

"This year has been extremely overwhelming with Lyme as opposed to the past. We've never seen this much Lyme before," said Persheff.

Elva Guerra recently brought her 2-year-old son Carlos to Persheff after she found a tick just below his knee, followed by a rash.

"I thought I saw a new birthmark on his knee, but it was really a tick," said Elva Guerra.

Carlos was too young to realize what had happened to him, but his mother did.

"Reading how it affects the nervous system sometimes and how the joints get swollen, and to think that our son, who's only 2 years old, was going to go through that, it's really, really scary," said Guerra.

Persheff said both strains of Lyme disease are curable, if treated properly with antibiotics.

Hundreds of cases of tick-borne illnesses are reported every year across New York.

A doctor with the Suffolk County Health Department said there are typically three kinds of ticks found in the northeast, and are typically in areas of high vegetation like grass and trees.

He warns the public that if you do venture out in these areas, considered "tick territories," it is best to wear long pants, tuck the pants into socks and wear repellent.

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<![CDATA[No Charges in Fatal NYPD Shooting of 16-Year-Old in Brooklyn ]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 07:26:59 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/kimani+gray+mom.jpg

The officers involved in the shooting of a 16-year-old Brooklyn boy whose death sparked outrage and protests will not face criminal charges, the Brooklyn district attorney's office said Wednesday.

Kimani Gray was shot by two plainclothes officers in East Flatbush in March of 2013 after police said he pulled a gun on them. Gray's family and supporters have argued that no witnesses saw Gray with a gun. A gun was recovered from the scene, according to police. 

His death sparked days of rallies and outrage as protesters marched on the 67th Precinct, demanding that those officers be charged with a crime.  The demonstrators questioned the police account of the shooting and said they were fed up with aggressive law enforcement actions.

Gray was with a group of people the night of March 9, but left when he saw police in an unmarked car, police said. Authorities say he was acting suspicious when plainclothes officers approached him.

Police say Gray pointed a .38-caliber revolver at them, and they opened fire.

The medical examiner's office ruled that Gray was hit seven times in both the front and back of his body, including his shoulder, rib cage, forearm and legs.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Driver Killed in NY Bridge Plunge, Racing Eyed: Cops]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 19:59:50 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Ardsley-Carmaro-Crash-NY-Drag-Racing.jpg

Police are investigating whether a driver who was killed when his car plunged off a Westchester bridge early Wednesday was drag racing before the crash, authorities say.

The 21-year-old man, identified as Christopher Seguinot, of West Harrison, was headed north on the Saw Mill River Parkway in Dobbs Ferry in a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro at about 12:10 a.m. when the car went off an exit, smashed through a guardrail and flew off the Ashford Avenue Bridge, police say.

The car crashed into the ground more than 30 feet below, and the man was pronounced dead.

A police spokesman said that speed was "definitely a factor" in the crash. 

Seguinot was the only person in the car.

His uncle described him as a "good kid" who had dreams of becoming a state trooper.

The parkway’s northbound lanes reopened after several hours. The bridge remained closed.

A bridge inspector was called to the scene to assess structural damage to the roadway.

-Sheldon Dutes contributed to this report

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<![CDATA[UCLA Flooded After Water Main Break]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 13:52:07 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/224*120/UCLA+flood+july+29+gadi.JPG

Crews were working through the night to repair a massive water main break that sent up to 10 million gallons of water gushing for nearly four hours onto Sunset Boulevard and the University of California, Los Angeles campus Tuesday afternoon.

A 93-year-old, 30-inch diameter water main ruptured and blew open a 15-foot sinkhole about 3:30 p.m. in the 10600 block of West Sunset Boulevard, officials said. The cause of the break was being investigated.

"Unfortunately, UCLA was the sink for this water source," said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block.

The gusher stranded cars, a bus and drivers in several feet of swiftly rising water and mud. While there were no injuries, a Los Angeles Fire Department swift-water team rescued five people who were stranded in the flooding, including one who was swept under his car.

"They were able to keep his head above water and be able get him out," LA Fire Capt. Jaime Moore said.

Officials said Sunset Boulevard near the campus would remain closed between Veteran and Beverly Glen all of Wednesday.

"There's almost no chance that any portion of Sunset Boulevard around UCLA will be open," said Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz, during an evening news conference Tuesday. "Do what you can to avoid it. Find some other route."

Officials said 10 million gallons of water was lost in the gusher, equivalent to about 200,000 baths, according to the US Geological Survey. The utility serves more than 500 million gallons a day to its customers throughout LA.

Water flow through the pipe when it was in proper working order was about 75,000 gallons per minute, LADWP officials said.

The riveted-steel water main carries water to the area from the Upper Stone Canyon Reservoir.

Getting the water shut off completely took approximately three and half hours.

"We were just scrambling, we were trying to get our crews here. It's not the easiest place to get to at rush hour," said Jim McDaniel, the senior assistant general manager for the LADWP's Water System.

Most of the damages Tuesday occurred at UCLA.

Two parking structures and two buildings were damaged, including UCLA's recently renovated Pauley Pavilion, the site for UCLA men's and women's basketball, volleyball and women's gymnastics. Water covered the basketball court. The John Wooden recreation center was also damaged.

Hundreds of people were stranded Tuesday night, unable to access their cars trapped in the damaged parking structures. Firefighters searched 200 cars and deployed two swift water rescue teams looking for trapped motorists. Cars on the lower level of Parking Lot 7 were submerged in three-and-a-half feet of water.

Mud and water also covered the university's Drake Stadium -- a track-and-field facility -- along with the nearby intramural athletic field.

UCLA officials were expected to assess the total damages after they finish pumping water out of the buildings, Block said.

"We have a lot of damage assessment to do in the next couple of days but, we’ll do it and we're Bruins and we’ll get back on our feet," UCLA representative Tod Tamberg said.

Even as firefighters urged people to stay away from the area on Tuesday, the spectacle drew students, attending fall orientation, to the water. Some skimboarded and swam in it. Two students sat in water up to their chests on a stairwell as if it was a hot tub.

Water cascaded down steps into an underground parking structure and pooled as high as five feet.

Students trudged through knee-deep water as they walked across campus.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is out of state on vacation, said he was "closely monitoring the situation" and in contact with DWP, police and fire officials, along with UCLA, "to make sure we are leading a closely coordinated response."

Water service was briefly interrupted for some residents near the break, but it was restored quickly, DWP officials said.

The flood comes in the wake of a statewide ban on public water waste as California officials approved fines of up to $500 a day for violators earlier this month.

Jane Yamamoto contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Gadi Schwartz]]>
<![CDATA[Man With Box Cutter Tries to Rape Woman in Bronx: Cops]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 15:14:11 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/attempted+rape+bronx.jpg
Police are looking for a box cutter-wielding man who threw a 20-year-old woman to the ground in the Bronx over the weekend and tried to rape her.

Authorities say the suspect followed the woman along East 149th Street down Jackson Avenue in Mott Haven around 2 a.m. Saturday and flashed the box cutter when they reached St. Mary's Park.

He then pulled on the woman's shirt, reached under her clothes and pushed her to the ground. He climbed on top of her and she screamed for help. Then he ran off.

Police released surveillance video (above) of the suspect walking down the sidewalk.

Anyone with information about the attack is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.



Photo Credit: Handout]]>
<![CDATA[Kennedy Cousin to Return to Court]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:59:39 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/michael+skakel+released+bond.jpg

Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel appeared in Stamford Superior Court on Wednesday to face the state's appeal of a ruling nearly a year ago that allowed his release from prison, pending a new trial in the case of the 1975 murder of Greenwich neighbor Martha Moxley.

Skakel said he's been spending as much time with his family as he can. Asked if he was enjoying his time out of prison, he said, "I wouldn't say enjoying."

Last October, after serving more than 11 years in jail for his 2002 conviction in Moxley's murder, a judge ruled that Skakel's former trial attorney failed to adequately represent him in 2002 and granted him a new trial. After posting bail, he walked free from prison last November.

The state is hoping a judge will reverse that decision. If the judge doesn't rule in their favor, Skakel will be granted a new trial. His attorneys are fighting to keep him a free man.

The Greenwich Time reported that Skakel's defense is also filing motions to bar audio tapes Skakel made for a memoir from being used in future court proceedings. The audio tapes were meant as a resource for ghost writer Richard Hoffman to pen Skakel's book, "Dead Man Talking: A Kennedy Cousin Comes Clean," the newspaper reported.

Skakel's attorneys told NBC's Today Show they plan to argue that the tapes, used as evidence in the previous trial, should be inadmissible this time, claiming police illegally seized the tapes from Skakel's ghostwriter and that the audio files have been selectively edited out of context.

Gary Galanis, a family friend of Skakel's, told NBC News that "the implication is that Michael was there confessing to to the crime on this tape. That's not the case at all." The tapes do contain an admission by Skakel to engaging in sexual activity in a tree outside of Moxley's home the night she was murdered. Skakel was 15 years old at the time of the murder.

Skakel's criminal defense attorney, Stephan Seeger told NBC's Ron Mott that he's ready to prove his client is innocent.

"And that's something that the public needs to know. And I think that if the public learns more about the evidence we have especially more approximate evidence that people will start to change their mind about what happened in this case," he said.

During a 10-minute court proceeding Wednesday, the judge ordered the prosecution and defense to compile a list of Skakel's belongings to be returned and ordered all evidence preserved.

Skakel declined to comment on his way out of court.

Moxley's family released the following statement ahead of Skakel's appearance on Wednesday:

"With regard to the hearing, we don't see how a judge could possibly hear the argument when no one knows what the status of the case will be. The state's appeal is just going in at the end of the week. It's our hope that the judge's decision will be overturned and the conviction will be reinstated and that Michael Skakel will go back to jail where he belongs."

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<![CDATA[CA Has 1st Openly Gay Governor - For Part of Day]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 17:39:14 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/toni+atkins+swearing+in.jpg

For eight or nine hours on Wednesday, California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins will be acting as the state's top chief executive— the first openly gay governor in state history.

That's because this week, the three above her on the state org chart are not in town.

Gov. Jerry Brown is on a trade mission in Mexico this week. As the Washington Post noted, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom filled in for a bit, but is on the East Coast for a Special Olympics event. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg then took over for a while, but he had plans to be in Chicago on Wednesday.

"I feel so grateful," Atkins said in an email on Wednesday forwarded by her spokesman. "I wish my parents could see this. Now I know that may sound hokey to many. But honestly, this is what is going through my mind. If Governor Brown wants a few more days away I'm here for him!"

Atkins spokesman Will Shuck confirmed Atkins will "hold the role of acting governor for approximately one business day, ending this evening on the return of governor." 

Atkins, D-San Diego, is the first openly lesbian leader of either California chamber, succeeding the first openly gay Assembly speaker, John Pérez, a Democrat from Los Angeles.

She shared on her Facebook page that filling in is nothing new: during her time on the San Diego city council, the now 51-year-old Atkins served as acting mayor after other city officials stepped down. She was the first lesbian to hold that position, too.

But Atkins was not focusing on making history due to her sexual orientation on Wednesday. She took the opportunity to highlight her roots -- growing up "in poverty in Virginia" -- and her journey to becoming acting governor for a day.

Atkins, who has focused on funding state universities and advocating for victims of violence and abuse during her time at the Capitol, had a full calendar ahead of her.

But the first act, she tweeted out, was to make sure the temporary first dogs of California - Haley and Joey -  got their morning walk. She shares her pooches with wife, Jennifer LeSar, in the South Park/Golden Hill community of San Diego.

 



Photo Credit: CA State Assembly]]>
<![CDATA[Thousands of Fake $100 Bills Smuggled in Barney Bag]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 11:07:52 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Counterfeit-Bills-JFK.jpg

Customs agents at John F. Kennedy International Airport seized more than 2,000 counterfeit bills that had been smuggled into the country in picture frames, electronics cases and a Barney the dinosaur bag.

Officials say that agents found 1,252 counterfeit $100 bills in an international shipment from “Handycrafts Pictures” during a search on July 15.

The next day, they searched another shipment from “Handycraft Bags,” and found another 853 fake bills. In total, the counterfeits added up to the equivalent of $210,500.

Officers say that the bills were hidden inside photo frames, protective cases and book bags.

The bills will be destroyed, officials say. The Secret Service has launched an investigation into the source of the counterfeits. 

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<![CDATA[Woman Punched, Kicked in NYC Elevator Robbery]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 07:03:38 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/elevator+robbery+bk.jpg

Police are looking for two men they say followed an 18-year-old woman into a Brooklyn apartment building elevator, then punched and kicked her before running away with her purse.

The robbers followed the woman into her Midwood building after 9:30 p.m. Sunday, video shows, and then into the elevator. The woman appears to try to get off the elevator, only to be stopped by the men, who drag her out by her hair, throw her to the floor, then punch and kick her repeatedly. 

They then run out of the building with her purse, and one of the suspects tosses the bag as they flee.

The victim was treated for bruising around the eyes at Coney Island Hospital. 

Records show felony assaults are up year over year in the 70th Precinct, where the assault took place: there were 160 reports of assaults in the last year, compared to 141 at this time last year.

Robberies, however, are down: there were 157 reported in the last year compared to 178 at this time last year.

Anyone with information about the suspects is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS. 

-- Gus Rosendale contributed to this report

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<![CDATA[UCLA's Pauley Pavilion Court May Have to Be Replaced: Officials]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 03:40:54 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/215*120/ucla+pauley+pavilion+court+water+flood.jpg

The court of the historic Pauley Pavilion at the University of California, Los Angeles may have to be replaced as a result of flooding to the campus, athletic department officials confirmed Wednesday afternoon.

When asked about replacing the court, Guerrero said, "that's the course of action that we're looking for. No questions about it."

Guerrero said the upcoming Bruin basketball season will not be affected by the recent damage.

Ten million gallons of water gushed onto Sunset Boulevard and the UCLA campus Tuesday afternoon, causing the wood floor to buckle - just two years after the indoor arena underwent a multi-million dollar renovation.

"The court is showing signs of buckling and expansion," Kelly Schmader, assistant vice chancellor for UCLA, said Wednesday morning. "Whether we'll be able to get that saved, I don't know."

The break occurred at the Y-shaped meeting point of a 30-inch pipe installed in 1921 and a 36-inch pipe installed in 1956. Both pipes ruptured and blew open a 20-foot wide, 10-foot deep sinkhole in the 10600 block of West Sunset Boulevard, officials said.

Water gushed at a rate of 75,000 gallons a minute, damaging UCLA parking structures, buildings and flooding parts of campus. About eight inches of water covered the famed Pauley Pavilion court at one point, but crews had removed most of the water by Wednesday morning.

Ankle-deep water could be seen covering the court’s wooden floorboards Tuesday night. Crews were drying the court Wednesday morning and officials planned to have a better damage estimate later in the day.

"Unfortunately, Pauley Pavilion took quite a bit of water," Chancellor Gene Block said. "It's painful."

The locker rooms also sustained significant flooding, according to the school's athletic department. Water also entered Wooden Center, which houses recreation facilities, and the J.D. Morgan Center, which houses athletic staff and administration offices and UCLA's Athletic Hall of Fame.

Pauley Pavilion opened 49 years ago and is home to many of UCLA’s athletic teams, including the men’s and women’s basketball teams, men’s and women’s volleyball teams and women’s gymnastics. The arena recently underwent a two-year, $136-million dollar renovation and opened the renovated facility in November 2012.

"I'm just wondering how UCLA is going to pay for it, I mean, Pauley looked in really bad shape and they just remodeled it," UCLA student Peter Nauka said.

It is unclear how the flooding will affect the upcoming schedule. The Teen Choice Awards are scheduled for Aug. 10 and the US Volleyball Cup Aug. 16.

Pauley Pavilion can seat approximately 13,800 people.

NBC4's Jonathan Lloyd and Gadi Schwartz contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: FirstIn]]>
<![CDATA[Subway Track Fire Stymies No. 7 Train Service]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 12:57:08 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/generic+caution+tape+vg.jpg

Service on the No. 7 subway line has resumed between Times Square-42nd Street and Hunters Point Avenue in Queens following intermittent suspensions caused by a track fire in the tunnel leading to Grand Central Station, the MTA says.

Service was suspended for a time between Times Square and Queensboro Plaza while firefighters doused the flames. It was then restored on a partial basis before the MTA shut it down again because lingering smoke in the tunnel was causing visibility problems.

Some No. 7 trains were terminating service early at one point, but the MTA said regular service resumed shortly before 1 p.m. Wednesday.

The MTA said the cause of the fire is under investigation.



Photo Credit: Valeria Gonzalez]]>
<![CDATA[10 Incredible Images of the UCLA Flood]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 10:40:24 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/edt-AP731937757829_2.jpg

UCLA's campus became a swimming pool Tuesday after a water main break spilled up to 10 million gallons of water into roads, buildings and parking garages in the area.

Students posted photos and video to social media sites showing chest-high water, flooded cars and water cascading down stairs.

"I was knee-deep in water, I had to take my shoes off even though they still got soaked," student Aaliyah Ricks told NBCLA. "I almost slipped a couple of times."

Check out the most incredible photos of the gyser that punched a 15-foot hole into a street and caused subsequent flooding.

 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[6 Narcotics Officers Stole Half a Million Dollars From Suspects: Feds]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 01:32:02 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Narcotics-Officer-Arrested.jpg

Federal agents arrested six Philadelphia Police narcotics officers as part of an ongoing corruption probe and accused the group of swiping more than half a million dollars' worth of money, drugs and other items over a period of years.

“Unfortunately, a very small percentage of police officers continue to toss their oath aside and act like the very criminals they have sworn to bring to justice,” said U.S Attorney Zane David Memeger.

The U.S. Attorney's Office unsealed the 26-count indictment Wednesday of the two-year joint investigation between the police department, FBI and U.S. Attorney's office. The officers, who have served anywhere from five to 13 years in the narcotics unit, face allegations of multiple acts of robbery, extortion, kidnapping and drug dealing from February 2006 to November 2012.

The officers under arrest are Perry Betts, 46; Thomas Liciardello, 38; Linwood Norman, 46; Brian Reynolds, 43; John Speiser, 42; and Michael Spicer, 46. The officers were taken into custody without incident early Wednesday morning. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said that each officer will be suspended for 30 days with the intent to dismiss.

"Conduct like this is simply unacceptable, cannot be tolerated and is inexcusable," said Ramsey who noted the shame these allegations bring the officers and entire department.

Prosecutors say that the defendants would routinely rob the occupants of suspected dealers' cars or homes.

"The defendants used their positions of authority to target suspected drug dealers for purposes of stealing cash, personal property and drugs," said Memeger.

The indictment details about 22 separate incidents where the officers broke the law.  In total, prosecutors estimate the officers took more than $500,000 worth of cash, drugs and goods including fancy watches.

Some of the incidents outlined in the indictment includes one where Liciardello, Reynolds and Walker allegedly took $30,000 from an illegally detained suspect then took another $80,000 from the suspect’s home; an incident where Norman allegedly held a man over an 18-story balcony; an incident where Spicer allegedly dangled a man off a 35th-floor balcony in an attempt to swipe $79,000 and a designer suit; and an incident where Norman and Walker allegedly stole and distributed multi-kilogram quantity of cocaine.

Other incidents weren't as violent.

"They literally filed false police reports," Memeger said.

The allegations include declaring they collected less money than they would report.

Ramsey said that the officers tarnished their badges and that the badge numbers will be destroyed.

"I have been a police officer for more than 40 years and this is one of the worst cases of corruption that I have ever heard," Ramsey said.

Sources say agents were led to the officers after they nabbed former narcotics unit veteran Jeffrey Walker in a sting last May.

In that sting, authorities said Walker, while in uniform, planted cocaine in an alleged drug dealer's car, pulled over the man and stole his house keys. He then went to the man's home and stole $15,000, officials said.

Following that investigation, Walker was arrested and six other narcotics officers were pulled from the street. They were eventually moved into different roles in the department as the investigation continued.

Walker pleaded guilty to federal robbery charges and weapons offenses in February.

Memeger wouldn't divulge how much Walker helped in the investigation against his fellow former officers.

The probe has resulted in the overturning of more than 80 drug convictions and the dismissal of hundreds of open cases.

Ramsey said in no way are all narcotic officers dirty but he said the investigation continues into other alleged acts of corruption.

"It was a malignancy that's there and if you don't cut it out it won't go away on its own," said Ramsey.

The indicted officers, who have all pleaded not guilty, will each pay for their own defense.



Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Comatose Md. Man Dies in Liberia]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 05:11:04 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/0729-nathaniel-dennis.jpg

The family of a comatose Maryland man who passed away in Liberia during the ongoing Ebola quarantine is now trying to get his body back to the U.S. for a proper burial.

Nathaniel Dennis, 24, was visiting family in Monrovia, Liberia this month when he suffered multiple seizures July 24. He was hospitalized and had been comatose until his death Wednesday, despite the efforts of his family to bring him to home for treatment.

In an effort to control the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, Liberia's president has closed the majority of the country's borders, meaning Dennis' family was unable to transport him to a hospital in Ghana via medical evacuation -- although he had tested negative for Ebola, his family said. 

"At the same time, I'm relieved because I know my brother is no longer suffering," Dennis' brother Norwood Dennis said.

According to a GoFundMe site his family set up, Dennis grew sicker and began to need dialysis and a ventilator -- but the equipment wasn't available at the facility where he was.

"We're all devastated," Dennis' cousin Vannette Tolbert said. "We don't feel like we've been defeated because we tried as hard as we could."

A fundraiser was held in Dennis' honor Wednesday night at Lima Lounge on K Street NW in D.C. His family hopes to raise enough money to help transport his body back to the U.S. for a proper burial -- as of Wednesday night, the family had raised nearly $11,000.

Dennis' mother had traveled to Liberia to be with her son, but was unable to see him due to the quarantine. A medical examiner in Liberia will conduct an autopsy which should shed light on what exactly led to his death.

Dennis graduated from Howard High School and studied at Howard Community College.

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<![CDATA[5 Firefighters, 2 Cops Injured in Queens Blaze]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 09:15:35 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/elmhurst+fire.jpg
Five firefighters and two Bridge and Tunnel officers were injured in a Queens fire early Wednesday, but all are expected to be OK, authorities say.

The fire broke out on 51st Avenue in Long Island City shortly before 7 a.m. and was extinguished a short time later. 

It wasn't immediately clear how the firefighters and officers were injured, nor was it known if any civilians were hurt. 

The fire is under investigation.  


Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Maryland Woman to Become U.S. Citizen on Her 100th Birthday]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 21:05:47 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Donatila+Leticia+Munoz+Orantes+naturalization.JPG

Four generations of family joined Donatila Leticia Munoz Orantes at the Baltimore office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Wednesday, celebrating not only her citizenship, but also her 100th birthday.

“I can’t have a better blessing than having my mother live a hundred years,” her daughter Maria Ward told News4's Kristin Wright Tuesday.

Munoz became the oldest Maryland resident to naturalize since the former Immigration and Naturalization’s immigration services were placed with USCIS in 2003. Why now, after almost three decades in the United States? Munoz told Wright she wants to vote.

The seamstress was born in Nicaragua in 1914 and spent most of her life in El Salvador before joining her daughter in the U.S. in 1987, Wright reported. She helped care for the grandchildren and made clothes for family, including for occasions like first communion, weddings and graduations.

In 1987, naturalization wasn’t an option for Munoz because she doesn’t speak English, a requirement that drops at age 80.

Now, the Germantown resident looks forward to casting her first ballot in November.

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<![CDATA[Cop Shot in Gun Battle With Abuse Suspect Leaves Hospital ]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:33:52 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/detective+released.jpg

The NYPD detective who went into a Greenwich Village smoke shop on a tip that an accused child molester on the run for two years was working there and was shot, along with two U.S. Marshals, when gunfire erupted as the officers tried to apprehend the suspect, was released from the hospital Wednesday.

Flanked by uniformed officers, detective Mario Muniz left Bellevue Hospital in a wheelchair around noon, about a day after the two marshals injured in the gunfight were released.

Muniz had the most severe injuries of the three agents: one bullet hit his stomach, crossing from the left side to the right side of the abdomen, according to doctors. A second and a third bullet fired toward his chest were stopped by a vest. 

"No question that vest was life-saving gear," said Dr. Spiros Frangos. 

Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives Endowment Association, speaking outside Bellevue, said that once Muniz goes home to recuperate, "The reality of what could have happened will set in."

Palladino added, "I'm going to renew my message to all the criminals in this city: It's not open season on these detectives ... because our mission is to get the job done."

The fugitive suspect, Charles Mozdir, was killed in the Monday afternoon shootout in Smoking Culture on West Fourth Street. Muniz went in to visually confirm the suspect was there and alone, and when he returned with the marshals to make an arrest, Mozdir opened fire with a .32-caliber revolver, police say.  

Muniz was shot twice in the stomach below his bulletproof vest. One marshal was shot in the leg and the other was hit in the elbow.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Muniz's vest may have saved his life.

Mozdir had been accused of sexually assaulting a boy he babysat in Coronado, California, near San Diego. The 32-year-old was recently profiled on "The Hunt with John Walsh," a CNN show similar to "America's Most Wanted."

Mozdir was wanted on a $1 million warrant. He was charged with multiple counts of committing forcible lewd acts on a child and attempting to dissuade a witness. He skipped an April court appearance in California and his car was found in Georgia two months later.

The trail went cold after that until officers got a phone call from a woman in Florida who is part owner of Mozdir's black Labrador retriever, law enforcement sources told NBC 4 New York. 

His weapon was recovered at the scene. Mozdir had 20 more rounds in his pockets, police said.

A neighbor in the Alphabet City area where Mozdir resided said she sometimes ran into him while walking her dogs with her daughter.

He "never made eye contact," said Natasha Callapally, and was "really creepy, really weird."

-- Marc Santia contributed to this report



Photo Credit: NYPD/Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Racy Book Returned to NYC Library After 50 Years]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 07:35:01 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/late+library+book+nypl.jpg

A library book racy enough to make any mild-mannered bookworm blush has made its way back to the New York Public Library after 54 years.

The book was due Aug. 17, 1959 and it arrived at the Fifth Avenue branch just last year, in a padded envelope from Scottsdale, Arizona. 

The content of the book, "Ideal Marriage: Its Physiology and Technique," may have had something to do with the delay. Written by a Dutch gynecologist and published in 1926, the scientific sex manual is filled with graphs and diagrams, and, according to the National Review, "is not a prude's book." 

The book came with a handwritten note both humorous and sad.

It read: "We found this book amongst my late brother-in-law's things. Funny thing is, the book didn't support his efforts with his first and only marriage, it failed. No wonder he hid the book. So sorry. A shocked in-law." 

The fine for an overdue book at the time was 5 cents a day, which would total more than $1,000 by now. But the library caps book late fees at $12. 

"We just want to get our materials back," said managing librarian Billy Parrott. 

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<![CDATA[Teen Accused of Stabbing Classmate Hours Before Prom Due in Court]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:51:46 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/chris+plaskon+in+court+2.jpg

A Connecticut teen accused of stabbing his classmate to death at a Milford high school hours before the prom appeared briefly in court on Wednesday.

Christopher Plaskon, 17, is accused of stabbing and killing Maren Sanchez, also 16, inside Jonathan Law High School in April in an attack some students said might have been motivated by anger that she would not go to the prom with him. He pleaded not guilty in June.

Plaskon, who has been charged as an adult with murder, waived a trial by jury and his case will instead go before a three-judge panel.

Members of his defense team said has they're considering a mental health defense and believe that a three-judge panel might handle that better.

Plaskon is being held at Manson Youth Training Institute, a correctional facility in Cheshire for boys and young men between the ages of 12 and 19.

Police have said Plaskon was spotted just moments after the April 25 stabbing with blood on his hands and clothing.

"I did it. Just arrest me," he told authorities, according to police paperwork released. Police said they recovered a knife in the hallway, not far from where Sanchez was attacked.

The medical examiner concluded that Sanchez died of stab wounds to the torso and neck. Her death was ruled a homicide.

"You can imagine, when a father loses a daughter, especially under such egregious circumstances, it's extremely difficult," said attorney Anthony Bonadies, who is representing Sanchez's father in court.

Defense attorney Richard Meehan said in an e-mail that Plaskon would appear in court with his uncle, who has been appointed his guardian. He said did not offer further comment on the defense efforts.

"They're doing everything they can to try to keep it together," Meehan said, of Plaskon's family, "but it's a very difficult process."

The state's attorney is still in the process of turning over evidence to the defense. Plaskon's attorneys said they have not yet decided what kind of defense to present and may not know for some time.

"Normally these cases take at least a year, if not two," said State's Attorney Kevin Lawlor, of Milford.

Plaskon is expected back in court Oct. 16.

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<![CDATA[Fake Utility Workers Rob Elderly Couple, Warning Issued]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 21:13:33 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/valley+stream+elderly+burglaries.jpg

Police are looking for burglars who posed as utility workers to distract an elderly couple while they ransacked their house, and authorities are cautioning residents to avoid opening the door for anyone claiming to be a worker who hasn't called ahead amid a spate of similar robberies.

In the most recent case, one of the two suspects went to the couple's home on North Cottage Avenue in Valley Stream Monday evening and knocked on the door, authorities say. When the couple answered, the man told them that he was with the water department and needed to check the water pressure in the basement. 

When the man took the couple to the basement, a second suspect came into the house, police say. The utility impostor somehow communicated with the burglar upstairs as he rifled through the house, stealing cash. They left about 15 minutes later.

The couple discovered they had been burglarized the next day and called the water company, which said it didn't have anyone working in the area.

Monday's burglary was the latest in a string of similar schemes. Utilities and law enforcement agencies have been warning homeowners to watch out for the theft routine, and are asking residents not to let anyone claiming to be a worker in their house if they don't call ahead.

"Please don't let them in the house," said Nassau Inspector Kenneth Lack. "Talk to them through the closed door, talk to them through an open window and ask to see photo ID." 

Safeguarding homes could also be as simple as knowing what utility workers wear, according to Brian Bruce of NY American Water, the company serving the Valley Stream neighborhood. Bruce says his workers wear a company shirt, and the service workers wear a blue uniform that has the company logo on it. They also drive company vehicles.

Neighbor George Catalanotto said he's watching for the scam artists as part of Valley Stream's civilian patrol. 

"It adds to the need for all of us as neighbors to be vigilant," said Catalanotto. 

Anyone with information about the suspects is asked to call Nassau County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS.

-- Greg Cergol contributed to this report 

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