<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - National & International News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/national-international http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.com en-us Sat, 20 Sep 2014 18:08:38 -0400 Sat, 20 Sep 2014 18:08:38 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Man Burned Co-Worker: Police]]> Sat, 20 Sep 2014 16:36:45 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Marvin+Rivera-Montalvo.jpg

Miami-Dade Police arrested 30-year-old Marvin Rivera-Montalvo in the death of 51-year-old Yolanda Samaniego who was found burned and decapitated on Wednesday morning.

Investigators say Rivera-Montalvo contacted police claiming he has information on the death and stated that Samaniego's husband killed her.

On Saturday morning, police continued to interview Rivera-Montalvo where he confessed that he planned on killing Samaniego with other individuals who have not been identified.

According to police, Rivera-Montalvo was a co-worker and stated that he lured Samaniego to his vehicle and another individual shot her. He then allegedly drove to a nearby hotel where he pepared to dispose her body and eventually left Samaniego in an open field and burned her body.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue discovered the body near the intersection of NW 64th Street and NW 82nd Avenue. Initially, Fire-Rescue thought the scene was a small brush fire, but as the flames were extinguished, the scorched body of a decapitated woman was discovered.

At the time, a concerned family rushed to the crime scene looking for answers. The family of Samaniego said the woman had been missing since last Saturday.

“We heard they found a body in this area and my aunt has been missing,” said Mirta Celaya.

Samaniego’s family believes the woman left work around 2:30 a.m. and was dropped off at a nearby gas station by a co-worker. The family said she was waiting for a ride home and that’s the last they heard from her.

“No one came to pick her up, or, well, I don’t know what happened to her,” Celaya said.

The pastor of a church nearby said police looked at their surveillance cameras, but didn’t find any clues. Locals said there isn’t much activity in the area after dark and that they were stunned that such a gruesome act would take place so close to their place of worship.

“I am completely shocked, wouldn’t expect something like that to happen. I really feel for her family and for her son,” said Alfredo Usecha.

Rivera-Montalvo was charged with first-degree murder. It is not known at this time if he has attorney.

Samaniego left behind a 17-year-old son.

If you have any information on the death, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS (8477).

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut



Photo Credit: Miami-Dade Police]]>
<![CDATA[Navy Sailor Awarded Silver Star]]> Sat, 20 Sep 2014 16:52:00 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Kong-Silver-Star.jpg

A Navy hospital corpsman who faced heavy fire to save an injured Marine was presented with the military’s third highest decoration for valor, the Silver Star, at Camp Pendleton Friday.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Kong, now a pre-med student, was serving in the Sangin District of Afghanistan on June 13, 2011 when he and fellow service members came under attack during a battalion clearing operation – just two hours into a four-day operation.

Kong saw Marine Cpl. Michael Dawers from a shot to the chest, so braving a hail of bullets, Kong rushed from his covered position into the kill zone to reach the man.

“You get so close to the them. It’s a bond you just can’t describe in words," Kong said. "People tell me I was brave and courageous but ultimately, I wasn’t even thinking."

Kong fired back at the enemy, stood up in the line of fire and pulled the injured service member to safety.

“On that June morning, Doc Kong reacted instinctively and did something very few perhaps would have done,” said Marine Maj. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson.

Kong then treated Dawers for his injuries and provided vital information about the enemy’s position, Navy officials say. Dawers survived.

As he was given the Silver Star Friday, Kong said he didn’t deserve it because he was just following his instincts, humbly calling his actions “almost more stupid than it was brave.”

“There’s so many guys out there doing so many incredible things, and they don't always get recognized for it,” said Kong. “I was just kind of out there doing my job, and you know, a Marine gets hit and you don’t really think.”

Kong looked at his fellow service members and said he knew they would do the same thing in his place.

Serving in the Navy since 2007, Kong, a San Jose native, deactivated from active duty and now studies medicine at Stanford.

In addition to the Silver Star, his awards include the Navy Good Conduct Medal, Combat Action Ribbon and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.



Photo Credit: Mark Sackett]]>
<![CDATA[Take the Phone Quiz: iPhone 6 or Android? ]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 22:57:56 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/pile+of+phones1.jpg

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus hit the shelves at Apple Stores on Friday morning, ending weeks of anticipation by Apple fans.

At some Apple stores, lines have stretched around the corner for days or even weeks. Apple sold more than 4 million phones in online preorders on the very first day they were available. And this weekend, the company is expected to make billions. According to Bloomberg Business Week, the phone line accounts for more than half of Apple's $171 billion annual revenue.

But is the phone for everyone? More importantly, is it for you?

We put together this Phone Wizard to help you find out. We examined the key features of eight state-of-the-art phones, looking at things like battery life, size, operating system and camera quality. After you answer a handful of questions about your personality, preferences and habits, we identify the phone that we think is right for you.

Now, don't get carried away: Just because we tell you the Samsung Galaxy S5 is better for you than the iPhone 6 Plus (that 4K HD is just so important to you, right?) doesn't mean you should go and buy one today. At least visit your local retailer to see how it feels in your hand before plopping down a few hundred dollars. But consider this a starting point. 



Photo Credit: Photograph: Alamy]]>
<![CDATA[Insect in School Lunch Investigated]]> Sat, 20 Sep 2014 16:03:24 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/wrom+school+lunch.jpg

A New Jersey high school's food vendor says it's investigating after several students began circulating video purporting to show a live insect squirming inside a taco salad school lunch.

Video taken by North Bergen High School students show what appears to be a small worm on the lunch plate. One girl posted the video on Instagram, and another boy sent video to NBC 4 New York.

The authenticity of the videos could not be immediately confirmed Friday, but the lunch vendor for the school, Nu-Way Concessionaires, said it's investigating and that the health department was immediately called in. 

"This is an isolated incident. We've taken steps to discuss this with our food producers. We are very concerned about what we feed children," said Sal Valenze of Nu-Way Concessionaires.

One student, Luis Godreau, said "I would think they would make sure nothing like that would get inside it. It's crazy to see that inside it." 

Another junior student who wanted to remain anonymous said a freshman made the gross discovery and brought the video to the school's main office.

Nu-Way officials say they believe the insect was a small worm, and though rare, insects can get into produce during the agricultural process. 

As a precaution, the product batch has been pulled from distribution. The USDA is also expected back at the school Monday to continues its investigation, Nu-Way said.

Calls to the school district and the North Bergen Health Department were not returned Friday night. 

(WARNING: Instagram video below contains some explicit language) 

Follow Checkey Beckford on Twitter @Checkey4NY

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<![CDATA[Gunman Says Hello, Shoots 4: Cops]]> Sat, 20 Sep 2014 16:55:14 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/jackson+heights+shooting+sept+19.jpg

Police in Queens are searching for a gunman who shot four men outside a home in Corona Friday night, according to the NYPD.

The gunman and one other suspect walked up to the victims outside 32-14 106th St., near Northern Boulevard, at about 9:45 p.m. and said hello, police say. 

The gunman then fired at least one round at the victims, and the two suspects ran away, according to police. 

A 24-year-old man was shot in the arm, a 25-year-old man was shot in the torso and head, a 25-year-old man was shot in the torso and head, and a 34-year-old man was shot in the right side of his face, police said. 

They were all taken to Elmhurst Hospital. Two are in critical condition, and the other two are in serious but stable condition, the FDNY said. 

None of the injuries is life-threatening. 

There are no arrests, police say. 



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Mars Chocolate Issues Recall Over Undeclared Peanut Butter]]> Sat, 20 Sep 2014 17:44:25 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/452614600.jpg

Mars Chocolate North American has issued a voluntary recall of its M&M’s Brand Milk Chocolate Theater Box because it may contain peanut butter that is not listed on the ingredient label on the outside box.

The company identified the issue after a consumer notified it of an M&M’s Brand Peanut Butter package containing peanut butter M&M’s inside a M&M’s Brand Milk Chocolate Theater Box.

People allergic to peanuts run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if their theater box contains an inner M&Ms Brand Peanut Butter bag and they consume the product, the company said in a release.

There have been no reports of adverse reactions.

The recall affects M&M’S Brand Theater Box 3.40 oz UPC #40000294764 with various lot numbers. Click here for a full list of those numbers.

The specific lot codes were shipped between May 8 and July 1, 2014, to customers’ warehouses across the U.S., including Texas, Florida, Illinois, California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Virginia.

Mars Chocolate said it will work with retail customers to ensure that the recalled product is not being sold. Consumers who believe they have purchased the recalled item and have allergy concerns, should return this product to the store where they purchased it for a full refund. Consumers with questions or concerns may call 1-800-627-7852, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Intruder Gets Into White House ]]> Sat, 20 Sep 2014 13:11:53 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/whitehouse6.jpg

The Secret Service is coming under intense scrutiny after a man who hopped the White House fence made it all the way through the front door before being apprehended.

President Barack Obama and his daughters had just departed the White House on Friday evening when an intruder scaled the north fence, darted across the lawn and into the presidential residence, where agents nabbed him.

The security breach triggered a rare evacuation of much of the White House, with Secret Service officers drawing their guns as they rushed staffers and journalists out a side door.

For the Secret Service, the incident was a devastating episode that prompted fresh questions about the storied agency and its ability to protect the president.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who chairs the House subpanel on national security oversight, called it "totally unacceptable'" but said the incident was just one of a string of security failings on the Secret Service's watch.

"Unfortunately, they are failing to do their job," Chaffetz said. "These are good men and women, but the Secret Service leadership has a lot of questions to answer."

"Was the door open?" he added incredulously.

On Saturday morning, Secret Service agents could be seen walking shoulder to shoulder across the North Lawn, apparently combing the turf for anything the intruder may have dropped during his sprint the night before. The Secret Service said only that the activity was related to the previous night's incident.

The man in jeans and a dark shirt who scaled the fence shortly after 7 p.m. appeared to be unarmed, but ignored commands from officers to halt, Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said. He was tackled just inside the doors of the North Portico, the grand, columned entrance that looks out over Pennsylvania Avenue. A search of the suspect turned up no weapons.

The Secret Service identified the suspect as Omar J. Gonzalez, a 42-year-old man from Copperas Cove, Texas. He was charged with unlawful entry into the White House complex and transported to a nearby hospital complaining of chest pain. Attempts to reach Gonzalez or his relatives by phone were unsuccessful.

Although it's not uncommon for people to make it over the White House fence, they're typically stopped almost immediately and rarely get very far. Video from the scene showed the intruder sprinting across the lawn as Secret Service agents shouted at nearby pedestrians to clear the area.

"This situation was a little different than other incidents we have at the White House,'' Donovan said. "There will be a thorough investigation into the incident.''

Only minutes before the breach, Obama had boarded his helicopter on the South Lawn with his daughters and one of their friends, who was joining the Obamas for a weekend getaway to Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland. First lady Michelle Obama had traveled separately to Camp David and was not at home.

It was unclear whether any other fence-jumpers have ever made it into the White House, one of the most highly protected buildings in the world. But Friday's incident was just the latest setback for an elite agency whose reputation has suffered a succession of blows in recent years.

In 2012, 13 Secret Service agents and officers were implicated in a prostitution scandal during preparations for Obama's trip to Cartagena, Colombia. The next year, two officers were removed from the president's detail after another alleged incident of sexually-related misconduct. And in March, an agent was found drunk by staff at a Dutch hotel the day before Obama was set to arrive in the Netherlands.

Obama appointed the agency's first female director last year as a sign he wanted to change the culture and restore public confidence in its operations. An inspector general's report in December found no evidence of widespread misconduct.

The Secret Service has struggled in recent years to strike the appropriate balance between ensuring the first family's security and preserving the public's access to the White House grounds. Once open to vehicles, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House was confined to pedestrians after the Oklahoma City bombing, but officials have been reluctant to restrict access to the area further.

Evacuations at the White House are extremely rare. Typically, when someone jumps the White House fence, the compound is put on lockdown and those inside remain in place while officers respond.

Last week, the Secret Service apprehended a man who jumped over the same stretch of fence on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, prompting officers to draw their firearms and deploy service dogs as they took the man into custody.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cop Saves Choking Driver: NYPD]]> Sat, 20 Sep 2014 13:19:34 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/nypd+officer+saves+choking+driver.jpg

A police officer stationed on a Bronx highway saved a driver who started to slow down when she began choking on a piece of candy, the NYPD says, and the rescue was captured on the officer's dash cam.

The officer was conducting speed enforcement on the Bronx River Parkway Wednesday when he saw a 2014 Ford Taurus slow down in the right lane, according to the NYPD. 

He pulled up behind the car, got out of his vehicle and immediately noticed the driver was in distress, police said. She appeared be having difficulty breathing and was holding her throat. 

"Are you choking? You're choking?" the officer is heard saying in the video as he motions her out of the car. 

"Yes, sir," the 49-year-old woman says, gagging. 

The officer performed the Heimlich maneuver on the woman, which dislodged the throat lozenge blocking her airway, police said. 

The woman appeared to be OK after the officer performed the Heimlich. He radioed for an ambulance to the scene. 

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<![CDATA[Pope Names Next Chicago Archbishop]]> Sat, 20 Sep 2014 14:18:15 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Blase-Cupich.jpg

Pope Francis on Saturday appointed Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane, Washington, the next Chicago Archbishop. 

The announcement was made early Saturday morning by the Vatican. The Chicago Archdiocese also held a news conference Saturday, where they introduced Cupich.

"The Holy Father's appointment of me humbles but also encourages me," Cupich said Saturday. "As Pope Francis began his pastoral minstry in Rome by asking the people to pray for him, so too now I bow my head in the hope that everyone in Chicago will pray for me in the days ahead."

Cupich will succeed Cardinal Francis George, 77, who announced several months ago that he wanted to begin the process of finding his replacement after he was diagnosed with kidney cancer.

George has previously expressed a desire to meet his successor.

"I leave this church in better hands than mine," George said Saturday. "This is a full time job. I am relieved and grateful that now somebody who can do it full time will be in charge."

Cupich will be installed as archbishop of Chicago on Nov. 18, officials said.

"Today all of Chicago honors Cardinal Francis George for his compassionate pastoral leadership and his steadfast commitment and service to Chicago's people and neighborhoods throughout the last 17 years," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. "And we congratulate Pope Francis on his appointment of Bishop Blase Joseph Cupich to succeed Cardinal George -- we welcome Bishop Cupich to Chicago with open arms and stand eager to work with him as he begins his pastoral duties in our city."

According to the Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Cupich, 65, was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Omaha in 1975. He was named Bishop of the Rapid City, South Dakota Archdiocese in 1998 before taking over the Spokane position in 2010.

Cupich was born in Omaha, Nebraska.

This marked Pope Francis' first major appointment. Sources believe the Pope bypassed the Congregation of Bishops and worked the telephones on his own, calling Catholic leaders throughout the country to get a read on who would be best for Chicago.

Cupich had appeared on many lists of favorites for the position, but most agreed Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin was the frontrunner.

Many also expected the Pope's choice to be a Spanish speaker, and while Cupich doesn't speak Spanish, he is fluent in Italian.

"I think the Holy Father is a pastoral man, I think that his priority is not to send a message but a bishop," Cupich said. "I wouldn’t want to in any way overly politicize or put this in a different context, I think he cares a lot about people and he wanted to provide a pastor so I think he sent a pastor not a message."

Those who know Cupich describe him as a competent leader who's willing to take charge, and more of a peacemaker than a lightning rod.

"Having first met Bishop Blase Cupich when I was an 18-year-old backpacker in Europe and he was a seminarian in Rome, I can say with confidence that, as archbishop of Chicago, he will be a pastorally dedicated, theologically astute and visionary leader in line with Francis' transformative papacy," University of Notre Dame President, Father John Jenkins, said in a statement. "We thank Cardinal George for his dedicated service, and we welcome Bishop Cupich to the great Archdiocese of Chicago."

The Spokane Diocese declared bankruptcy 10 years ago after settling sex abuse complaints, but sources say it was Cupich's leadership who got it back up and running.

"People of faith really need to work together for the common good," Cupich said. "Labels are hard for anybody to live up to. I just try to be myself and I try to learn from great people."

Cupich didn't detail much about his plans for Chicago, but noted his stance on immigration reform and crimes against children.

"I don't want to dance around the issue that we need comprehensive immigration reform," he said. "Every day we delay it is a day too long and we should move on it today."

He also said he hopes to focus on the protection of children.

"I'll work hard at this and make it an important part of my ministry" he said, also noting that the system is "always going to be imperfect, it's never going to be enough."

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) issued a news release Friday stating Cupich "acted irresponsibly by exploiting bankruptcy law to avoid embarrassing disclosures about the complicity of the Spokane church hierarchy in dreadful crimes against kids." The organization claims more than 200 children came forward in Spokane.

"He must not be dismissive of those who have been wounded," said Kate Bochte with SNAP.

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<![CDATA[Officer Failed to Help Kids Approached by Strange Man: Mom]]> Sat, 20 Sep 2014 11:06:36 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Bridgeport+police+generic.jpg

Authorities are investigating after two sisters, ages 13 and 7, were confronted by a strange man in a car while walking home from school Monday and tried but failed to get the attention of a nearby Bridgeport, Connecticut, police officer.

The girls' mother, Gloria Byfield, said the girls were heading home Monday afternoon when a man in a tan car tried to get their attention.

"She said the guy pulled over in front of her and got out the car and continued trying to talk to her and say things to her and at that point she got on the phone and called me," said Byfield.

Byfield said the man ran off and she instructed her daughters to go to a nearby officer, just two blocks from Waltersville School, while staying on the phone.

"I went to the police officer, and I told him. And he told me he was off duty so he couldn't do anything about it, and he told me to walk home," said 13-year-old Anya Jackson.

Byfield says the officer told her daughters to have their parents file a report of the incident with police.

The two girls walked to their mom and she went to the police station.

Authorities said they've increased patrols in the area and launched a criminal investigation into the suspicious vehicle and internal affairs is investigating the allegations against the officer.

“The investigation is underway and is a priority for the Office of Internal Affairs. We teach our kids to go to a police officer if they are scared or in trouble. I taught that to my son," said Asst. Police Chief James Nardozzi, in a statement released by the department. "Investigators are still gathering the facts, but I can’t stress enough how seriously we take these allegations.”

In the same statement, Brett Broesder, spokesperson for Mayor Bill Finch said, "Mayor Finch expects a lot from our police officers who work hard to keep our streets safe every single day. But he also strongly believes that the top priority of our officers is protecting kids. That’s why he looks forward to this investigation turning up the facts surrounding this incident, and if there was any wrongdoing, ensuring that appropriate action is taken.”

Byfield said her children are scared and she wants the officer punished.

"At the end of the day my kids could be gone because of this one mistake, this one officer," said Byfield.

Police say they've canvassed the area searching for potential witnesses as well as surveillance video. Anyone with information is urged to call Bridgeport police at 203-576-8126.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[LA Grandma Survives Hit-and-Run]]> Sat, 20 Sep 2014 14:41:42 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/207*120/glendale+hit+and+run+video.JPG

Surveillance video that captured a hit-and-run driver striking an 80-year-old grandmother was released Friday as police asked for the public's help to find the person behind the wheel.

The video taken Thursday shows a four-door black sedan driving north on Columbus Avenue about 12:55 p.m., according to the Glendale Police Department.

The car can be seen turning right onto Broadway Avenue as 80-year-old Lousine Ghazarian walked across the street.

The video then shows the front driver's side of the car strike Ghazarian, who fell to the ground, before heading east on Broadway.

Ghazarian was cut on her right knee and hurt her right elbow and foot, police said. She was treated at the hospital and released.

The driver was described by police as a woman in her 20s.

Anyone with information should call 818-548-3131.



Photo Credit: Glendale Police Department ]]>
<![CDATA[Fight Over Parking Space Leads to Standoff in Meriden]]> Sat, 20 Sep 2014 09:00:28 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/meriden+condo+complex.jpg

A Meriden, Connecticut, resident will face felony charges after a conflict with a neighbor led to a police standoff during which she slipped knives under her apartment door and threatened to shoot police and other residents, then blow up or burn down the building.

Police said Regine Rivers, 48, who lives in the condo complex at 775 West Main Street in Meriden, began arguing with another resident over a parking dispute around 3:30 p.m. Friday.

Emma Guzman-Valentin identified herself as Rivers' target. She said Rivers parked over the line Thursday, leaving no room for Guzman-Valentin's car, then ignored a note Guzman-Valentin left asking her to park properly.

Rivers confronted her today.

"She started cussing and bad talking, and talking about how I messed with the wrong one and she's from Chicago," Guzman-Valentin explained. "I was like, 'Listen, it's no big deal. I just need you to move your vehicle. You don't need to take it further, but if you want to take it further, let me know.'"

She went home and returned 15 minutes later with a kitchen knife, according to Guzman-Valentin.

"She comes out with a knife, a kitchen knife, and threned me with her knife," Guzman-Valentin said. "She was pointing the knife at me like she wanted to stab me with it."

Guzman-Valentin said Rivers had a drink in her other hand.

"She was intoxicated. You could tell, because she even admitted herself that," Guzman-Valentin said. "she's like, 'Look, I am drunk, and I ain't moving no car, and that's why I got a drink in my hand and I'm walking.'"

According to Guzman-Valentin, Rivers began walking down West Main Street with the knife and drink in tow.

Residents were frightened and called the police. By the time authorities arrived, Rivers had gone back inside her apartment and turned up the music on her stereo, making conversation near impossible, police said.

A SWAT team and hostage negotiation team were called in, and residents were evacuated from the complex. While authorities were attempting to communicate with Rivers, she began slipping knives under the apartment door, according to police.

Police said she threatened to shoot authorities and other residents of the complex and told them she was armed with a 9mm handgun. She also threatened to blow up or burn down the building.

"She proceeded to threaten the cops, that she had a gun, she was going to make a bomb and she was going to blow up the place," Guzman-Valentin said. "It just got crazy. It got really out of hand."

Because Rivers refused to turn down the volume on her stereo, police called CL&P to cut the power to the building so they could communicate with her.

Authorities managed to contact Rivers'  boyfriend, who was not home at the time. Police said he was cooperative and told them the couple had lived in Meriden for only two weeks after moving from out of state.

Rivers eventually opened the door and was taken into custody, police said. Authorities brought her to the hospital, where she will undergo a psychiatric evaluation. It’s not clear when she will be discharged.

"I'm stunned, because in all my years, never have we witnessed anything like this," Guzman-Valentin said. "This same lady approached me last week in a loving, nice manner, and then for her all of a sudden to threaten me in this fashion – it blew me away. It blew me away and it scared all of us."

Charges are pending, but police said Rivers will face both felony and misdemeanor counts. Her bond has been set at $500,000.

No firearms have been recovered.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Search for Eric Frein Intensifies]]> Sat, 20 Sep 2014 16:44:44 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Eric-Frein-New-Photos.jpg

The suspect in the deadly ambush at a state police barracks in a remote part of northeastern Pennsylvania remained at large for an eighth day Saturday as police appeared to have narrowed their search, largely shutting down the area where he lived with his parents but leaving neighbors with few answers about what's going on just outside their front doors.

With a helicopter flying overhead, law enforcement officers wearing bulletproof vests and armed with rifles continued their hunt for Eric Frein, 31, now on the FBI's Most Wanted list.

"Our troopers are determined to find him and bring him to justice," state police spokeswoman Maria Finn said. Police released few details about their search of the heavily wooded community in the Pocono Mountains, saying only that they were exercising extreme caution.

Authorities say Frein used a high-powered rifle to open fire from the woods near a state police barracks on Sept. 12, killing Cpl. Bryon Dickson — a married ex-Marine with two sons — and wounding Trooper Alex Douglass.

Frein — described by authorities as a self-taught survivalist with a grudge against police — has been on the run ever since, authorities said. But some who know him said he has not always played the loner, and the reason for his hatred of police remained a mystery.

Frein belonged to the rifle team at Pocono Mountain High School, and as an adult joined a group that performed military re-enactments based on Cold War battles in Eastern Europe.

He even played a small role in a 2007 movie about a concentration camp survivor — earning him a mention in the movie database IMDb — and helped with props and historical references on a documentary about World War I.

"He was a very friendly guy to me," said Jeremy Hornbaker, who hired him for the documentary. "We left on very good terms."

Frein's father, retired Army Maj. E. Michael Frein, told police that he had taught his son to shoot. He "doesn't miss," the father told state police during a search of the family home, when he also disclosed that an AK-47 and a .308 rifle with a scope were missing. A copy of the book, "Sniper Training and Employment," was found in his bedroom.

It was Frein's abandoned vehicle that led police to their door. The green Jeep, registered to his parents, was found partly submerged in a local pond days after the shooting. Shell casings that matched the state police ambush were still inside, as were Frein's driver's license, Social Security card, camouflage paint and military gear.

Lars Prillaman, who manages a small farm in West Virginia, knew Frein briefly from their time as military re-enactors. He said Frein was "a different person eight years ago."

Frein had for a time attended nearby East Stroudsburg University and held a number of jobs over the years but never any for very long, authorities said. A week after the killing, they had not said anything about what may have led to his hatred of police.

Roger Smith, the owner of Smitty's Sporting Goods in Canadensis, told The Scranton Times-Tribune that about a year ago he noticed Frein loitering outside of his store. Frein briefly stepped into the store several times that day but did not buy anything. When he asked him what he was dong, Frein motioned to a police car that just drove by and said, "Me and those guys don't get along," the store owner said.

Frein's only known legal problems stemmed from the 2004 theft of some vendor items at a World War II re-enactment in Odessa, New York. He failed to show for his trial, and was arrested in Pennsylvania as a fugitive from justice.

In the years that followed, from 2004 to 2013, he bought four firearms at Dunkelberger's Sports Outfitter in Stroudsburg, store owner Jere Dunkelberger told The Associated Press. He did not know what type of weapons they were.

On Frein's MySpace page, a photo appears to show him standing in front of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Belgrade. Frein played the part of a Serbian soldier in his re-enactments and the FBI said he had claimed to have studied Russian and Serbian and to have "fought with Serbians in Africa."

The FBI's Most Wanted poster describes him as 6-foot-1, 165 pounds. State police said he apparently cut his hair into a wide Mohawk in preparation for the attack. He was also described as a heavy smoker.

Police did not say how big of an area they are combing, whether they believed they had Frein surrounded or how much longer it would be before residents could move about freely. A police dispatcher said there was a report of gunfire Friday night but investigators released no information.

With officers blocking roads and dozens of homes on lockdown, there was little civilian traffic Saturday in or out of the neighborhood where Frein had lived.

One couple that was to get married at their home on Saturday had to make hurried plans to move the wedding — and plead to be reunited outside the barricades.

Andrew Killinger was not allowed to return home Friday evening after going out to pick up the food. He spent the night in his sport utility vehicle while Kerriann Sanders spent a nerve-wracking night at home with their 2-year-old daughter.

The couple got the wedding rescheduled at nearby Pocono Manor and Sanders persuaded local authorities to send a police cruiser to pick her up and drive her and her daughter out of the neighborhood. Police told the couple nothing about what is happening.

"They're keeping it hush-hush," Killinger said.



Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[NAACP Involved in Bullying Case]]> Sat, 20 Sep 2014 08:10:59 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Angelique+Simpson-Marcus.jpg

Prince George's County leaders are calling for a high school principal to be fired over accusations of bullying and mistreatment of her staff.

Dr. Angelique Simpson-Marcus became Largo High School’s principal in 2007. Three years later a group of employees filed complaints of harassment and bullying against her.

“A counselor at Largo High School came to our office complaining about harassment, hostile work environment,” said Bob Ross of Prince George’s County NAACP.

The NAACP received several complaints. Then a white male teacher filed a case alleging reverse discrimination and won in federal court in August.

“When the case came out in August, we were not surprised that someone would win,” Ross said.

The teacher received $350,000 in a settlement and another $200,000 in back pay.

This week there was another settlement involving a school secretary. That outcome is sealed.

County Council member Mary Lehman called for Simpson-Marcus’ removal in a letter sent to schools CEO Kevin Maxwell.

“It is a strong case and surely there is a mechanism at the very, very least to place her on some kind of administrative leave to get her out of that building and out of that position of leadership and authority at Largo High Schoo,” said. “It’s completely inappropriate.”

The NAACP agrees and is also calling for Simpson-Marcus to step down.

“The principal at Largo needs to be removed for the good of all citizens in the county,” Ross said.



Photo Credit: NBCWashington.com]]>
<![CDATA[4 Charged in Murder of Boy, 9]]> Sat, 20 Sep 2014 09:55:59 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/antonio_smith_8-21.jpg

Four people were charged in connection with the murder of 9-year-old Antonio Smith, Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said Friday.

Derrick Allmon, 19; Jabari Williams, 22; and Michael Baker, 19,  and an Paris Denard, 19, all face charges of first-degree murder. Williams also faces a charge of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.

Antonio was found shot multiple times Aug. 20 in a backyard in the city's South Side Grand Crossing neighborhood.

At a Friday news conference announcing the charges, McCarthy said the men -- who are all documented gang members -- were driving around in two separate cars looking to confront members of a rival gang.

McCarthy says the men located the gang members they were looking for in the 1200 block of East 71st Street, and Williams handed Allman a gun and told him to shoot.

"As Allman approached his intended targets on foot, he came across Antonio Smith in a rear yard of a residence. Believing that Antonio Smith was yelling a warning to his intended victims, Allman shot Antonio Smith multiple times, wounding him fatally," McCarthy said.

McCarthy says Allman fled the scene and discarded the .380 calibre handgun in a nearby sewer, which was recovered by investigators Thursday. Police say the same handgun has been traced to two other shootings this year, including a murder.

Antonio's mother, Brandi Murry, said the boy had walked out of the family's house by himself that day while his older brother and sister were watching him after he threw a "temper tantrum" because he got into trouble.

Murry said she rushed home from work and called police to report him missing, and that's when officers arrived and told her what happened to her son.

"I don't even understand it, why anyone would do this," Murry said. "I'm praying for the whole city right now ... not even just for my son and my family, I'm praying for everybody. And I don't even want any other parent to even go through this."

Antonio would have entered the fourth grade this fall.

“He was just a kid,” said family friend Bridgett Jackson. “You should not have to bury a kid.”

"He will never graduate eighth grade, go to high school or get married," neighbor Rebecca Sankey said.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut

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<![CDATA[Man Arrested in Deadly Gym Attack: Police ]]> Sat, 20 Sep 2014 02:26:39 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/osaka-front.jpg

A 46-year-old plumber was arrested on homicide charges after police say he picked up a steel gym bar at a Bally's Total Fitness and attacked another club member, striking him on the head "several times" before dropping the piece of equipment and leaving the scene.

South San Francisco Sgt. Tom Neary told NBC Bay Area that Kenneth Osako picked up a steel bar, similar to one from a lat pull-down machine, and struck the other gym member with a fatal blow at about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday night.

The San Mateo County Coroner identified the gym member as Diego Galindo, 43, of San Bruno.

Galindo was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where he died on Thursday from his injuries, police said. Also on Thursday, a team of officers arrested Osako at a plumbing job site in San Francisco on Kansas Street, after he agreed to surrender, Neary said.

It was unclear if Osako was represented by an attorney. A legal representative for Bally's did not return a phone call on Friday. Osako declined a request for a jail-house interview.

Osako, whose mug shot shows an eye piercing of a barbell, was booked into San Mateo County jail on charges of murder. He was not allowed bail.

San Mateo County Assistant District Attorney Karen Guidotti said on Friday morning that her office did not yet have the police report, and the earliest Osako would be in court would be on Monday.

Neary said investigators were interviewing people to figure out a motive and whether Osako and Galindo knew each other. There were several witnesses in the gym who saw parts of the attack, police said.

A co-worker of Galindo's at Carneceria Pepa said Galindo and Osako knew each other only in passing, and he described Galindo as a friendly guy, who liked cars and motorcycles.

The suspect's father, Kenneth Osako Sr., said his son was a good kid. He showed NBC Bay Area his son's room, which was filled with different over-the-counter prescription pill bottles and fitness supplements.

"I just hope he gives us a call and let us know what happened," he said.

When asked if he would support his son either way, Kenneth Osako Sr. said "No, if he's guilty, he's guilty. I don't support anybody that's wrong."

On Friday, it appeared to be business as usual at the gym at 180 El Camino Real. Some members didn't even know about the brutal attack less than 48 hours before hand.

"My trainer acted like nothing had happened," Carlos Sosa Jr. told NBC Bay Area.

NBC Bay Area originally incorrectly identified the weapon as a barbell. Neary said Friday that the piece of gym equipment was "a weapon of opportunity."



Photo Credit: South San Francisco Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Cop Car Slams Into Dunkin' Donuts]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 19:48:02 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/160*120/cop+car+into+dunkin+donuts+berlin.jpg

A South Jersey police vehicle slammed into a doughnut shop Friday morning.

The police SUV crashed into the Dunkin' Donuts shop along White Horse Pike in Berlin, New Jersey just before 11 a.m. Winslow Township Police said the SUV crashed into the building after colliding with another car.

The unidentified Winslow Township Police officer suffered minor injuries, according to investigators. The other driver refused treatment.

No customers or employees inside the store reported any injuries, according to police.

As SkyForce10 hovered overhead, you could see the Winslow Township Police SUV right through the front window of the coffee shop with the driver's side door open.

Police said the crash caused structural damage to the building. No word yet on when repairs will be made.

Investigators said that the officer wasn't headed to a call at the time of the wreck. The cause of the wreck remained under investigation Friday afternoon.



Photo Credit: Kenny LaFountaine]]>
<![CDATA[Teacher Accused of 5 Sex Assaults]]> Sat, 20 Sep 2014 13:16:36 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/teacher+arrest1.jpg

A northern New Jersey high school teacher who was accused of sexually assaulting three 15-year-old students is now being accused of assaulting two more students, authorities say.

Nicole Dufault,  35,of Caldwell, was arrested Wednesday night for the alleged assaults inside Columbia High School in Maplewood and in her car since last year, the Essex County prosecutor's office said. The students were allegedly assaulted during the summer months and the school year, authorities said.

Dufault pleaded not guilty to charges involving the initial three students Friday morning. It wasn't clear when she would be arraigned on the additional charges.

Authorities said the additional two students did not just come forward; rather, "we just reached the stage in the investigation where the charges involved these students could be added," according to the prosecutor's office. 

Dufault was being held on $500,000 bail at the Essex County Correctional Facility and police say they removed two children from her custody.

Information on Dufault's attorney wasn't immediately available.

The investigation began with school officials, who then flagged law enforcement, according to the prosecutor's office. 

Board of Education president Elizabeth Daugherty said in a statement Friday that the allegations "deeply disturbing," but declined to discuss how the investigation began, citing confidentiality rules. 

Daugherty said the board and the administration will cooperate with authorities in their investigation. 

Some parents were stunned by the news of the teacher's arrest Thursday and went to the school in search of information.

"We need to know what happened, when it happened and why it happened," said one mother who did not want to give her name. She said when she called the high school for answers, the person who picked up hung up on her. 

"That's not acceptable," she said. 

No one answered Dufault's home door Thursday, but neighbors said Friday they were shocked by the accusation. 

"I thought she was a responsible adult, taking care of the kids, raising the family, and then all of a sudden it's like, bam," said Donna Lee. "That's what's so shocking, and it's the kids who are suffering in all this." 

Nancy Ursitti said Dufault is a "sweet" woman and the "gentlest mother to her children."

"I'm shocked," she said. 

Prosecutors say Dufault is a language arts teacher and has worked at the school for nine years.

The school was offering counseling and other assistance.

Follow Ida Siegal on Twitter @idasiegal4NY

Follow Danielle Elias on Twitter @danielle4ny

More Local News Stories:



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Drones Flew Close to Planes Flying Into NYC: Report]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 12:41:24 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/la+guardia1.jpg

Police are looking for the operators of two drones that flew dangerously close to planes preparing to land at LaGuardia Airport in July, according to a published report.

Pilots spotted the drones above downtown Brooklyn, about 12 miles from the airport, on the evenings of July 27 and July 29, the New York Post reports.

One of the drones flew just underneath a Piedmont Airlines flight as it was making its final approach into LaGuardia, the Post said. The other drone was seen flying towards a US Airways flight flying at 4,500 feet.

The sightings were reported to the NYPD’s Aviation Unit, but police were unable to locate the drones or their operators.

“Anything that causes the crew to divert its attention away from a safe landing is a serious distraction,” a law enforcement source told the Post.

Earlier this month, two men were arrested for allegedly flying drones around lower Manhattan and near the site of the US Open.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Shop Owner Crushed to Death by Gate]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 19:54:54 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/bronx+gate+death.jpg

A 79-year-old ice cream entrepreneur was crushed when a security gate fell on him at his Bronx store Friday morning, police say.

Alfred Thiebaud, of Yonkers, was sweeping up outside his Delicioso Coco Helado on St. Anns Avenue in Melrose when he pushed a button for the gate to come down. He apparently collapsed and the gate fell on him, police said. He was found lying near the gate shortly before 6 a.m. and pronounced dead.

Witness Samuel Rosas said he rushed to help but it was too late.

"I called to him, 'Alfredo, you need me to help? Want to me to help you?' He was unresponsive," he said. 

It wasn't clear why Thiebaud collapsed. The medical examiner will determine how he died.

The Thiebaud family has run Delicioso Coco Helado for nearly three decades, according to the company's website, and sells tropical flavored-treats at stands across New York City.

A makeshift memorial was placed outside the gate where Thiebaud died Friday. Those who knew him said he was a fixture in the community and a humble man who helped many people get work.

"Every time you asked Alfredo to do something for the community, for the baseball league or some type of community organization or event, he never said no," said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. as he wiped tears from his eyes. 

Rosas said Thiebaud was a "great man who gave a lot of people work, a lot of people jobs -- a humble guy, a respectable man." 

"It's sad," said another man who knew Thiebaud. "I wouldn't wish that type of death on anyone."

Follow Lori Bordonaro on Twitter @Lori4NY



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Russian Firm Buys American Brewery Pabst ]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 17:40:16 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/getty-PBR.jpg

Pabst Brewing Company, North America’s largest privately held brewing company, is the latest U.S. beer firm to be sold to an international buyer.

Russia-based brewer and beverage company Oasis Beverage and TSG Consumer Partners LLC, an American private equity firm, are partnering to buy PBC. TSG, based in San Francisco and New York, will take a minority stake, The New York Times reported.

The Pabst Brewing company, owned by billionaire investor C.Dean Metropoulos, is best known for Pabst Blue Ribbon, a beer brand that has become a favorite in recent years among hipsters. The Los Angeles-based company has more than 30 beers in its portfolio, according to Pabst's website. Other notable brands include: Colt 45, Old Milwaukee, McSorley's, Stag, Schlitz, and Lone Star.

Oasis Beverages is the biggest independent brewer in Russia, according to the Times.

“Pabst Blue Ribbon is the quintessential American brand – it represents individualism, egalitarianism and freedom of expression – all the things that make this country great,” Oasis' Chairman Eugene Kashper said in a statement. “The opportunity to work with the company’s treasure trove of iconic brands, some of which I started my career selling, is a dream come true. It will be an honor to work with Pabst’s dedicated employees and partner distributors as we continue to build the business.”

Pabst Brewing Company was founded in Milwaukee in 1844 by Jacob Best and later sold to brewing magnate Paul Kalmanovitz. When Kalmanovitz died in 1987, the company was aquired by the Kalmanovitz Charitable Foundation. The IRS forced the foundation to sell the company to Metropoulos due to a federal law that bars charities from owning for profit-businesses.

In 2009, one of America’s biggest cultural icons, Anheusher-Busch, was sold to the Belgium-Brazilian brewer InBev.

In 2002, Miller Brewing Co. was sold to South African Breweries PLC for $5.6 billion, creating SABMiller, the world’s second largest beer company in the world.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut



Photo Credit: Toronto Star via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pa. School Board Bans Boys From Field Hockey Team]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 11:42:53 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/field+hockey_generic.jpg

No boys allowed. A school board in Lehigh County confirmed a committee's decision to ban boys from its field hockey team after concerns they caused injuries to girl players.

The Allentown School Board ruled 8-1 that boys would be prohibited from playing on school-sponsored teams that are usually all-female in the United States.  The vote upheld a decision made by a school committee in the Pennsylvania county Sept. 4.

"We had an injury where there was an incidental collision between a boy and a girl," Russell Mayo, Allentown School Board president, told NBC10 earlier this month. "Upon legal counsel, we decided that we would err on the side of safety."

The PIAA - the state's governing body of high school sports -- decided earlier this summer that boys who do play on girls' teams are not allowed to participate in post-season games.

But not everyone in the Allentown School District, which includes William Allen High School and Louis E. Dieruff High School, is in agreement with the decision.

"The girls were disappointed because [the boys] were a great part of the team," Inez Seyler, Dieruff's field hockey coach, told LehighValleyLive.com. "I'm disappointed because they don't really have a sport that is comparable to field hockey for boys."

"It's going to be heartbreaking to them," added Karen Nilson, William Allen's coach.

Mixed gender teams are allowed under the PIAA's rules, but only under special circumstances that protect girls on the team from injury or disqualification for size differences from potential male teammates.

Other standards for Pennsylvania schools, under the Pennsylvania Department of Education, support the right to a "physical environment for safety." This includes physical standards along with social, emotional and intellectual. These policies are intended to protect students' wellness and physical health.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut

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<![CDATA[Officer Failed to Help Kids Approached by Strange Man: Mom]]> Sat, 20 Sep 2014 13:53:46 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Bridgeport+police+generic.jpg

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Welding Company Cited in Boston Blaze That Killed 2 Firefighters ]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 18:41:32 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/fire119.jpg

A Massachusetts welding company has been cited for a series of violations that ultimately led to a massive blaze in Boston’s Back Bay that claimed the lives of two firefighters, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The agency’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined that the March 26 fire at 298 Beacon St. was caused because Guiseppe Falcone and Daniele Falcone of the Malden-based D & J Ironworks allowed employees to install railings using arc welding equipment during high wind conditions.

Fire officials say the sparks ignited clapboards, causing the fire.

In addition, the agency says the company failed to protect employees against hazards and provide proper training associated with addressing chemical and respiratory hazards.

Boston firefighters Michael Kennedy and Lt. Edward Walsh lost their lives responding to the fire.

D & J Ironworks has been cited for 10 violations of workplace safety standards. It faces $58,000 in fines.

Jeff Erskine of OSHA says this could have all been avoided if the company made some simple changes.

“They should have looked at that piece of equipment that they were welding and connecting and they should have done it, in our opinion, off site in a safer location,” said Erskine.

Boston Fire said it will not comment on OSHA's action, adding the Beacon Street fire is still under investigation by the Suffolk District Attorney's Office, the fire department and Boston Police.

Kennedy's mother, Kathy Crosby-Bell, said OSHA's investigation is just one piece of the ongoing probe.

"Ultimately, I hope this reminds all Bostonians of the critical need to ensure the safety of our firefighters who put their lives on the line for each one of us every day," she said in a statement.



Photo Credit: Boston Fire]]>
<![CDATA[Police Car Crashes Into Dunkin' Donuts]]> Sat, 20 Sep 2014 13:50:41 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/WCAU_000000008161529_1200x675_331380291542.jpg SkyForce10 was over the scene of a Dunkin' Donuts after a police car crashed into the side of the building.]]> <![CDATA[Pa. Manhunt Closes Schools]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 08:58:03 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/eric_matthew_frein_suspect_trooper_killing.jpg

Some schools in the Pocono, Pennsylvania, area will be closed for the third consecutive day as authorities continue to search for Eric Frein, who allegedly shot and killed a Pennsylvania State Trooper before going on the run.

The Pocono Mountain School District canceled Friday classes "due to safety concerns for our students," a school spokeswoman said.

The district, which includes 10 different schools, also canceled classes Wednesday after State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan warned residents in northeast Pennsylvania to be alert and cautious as the hunt for Frein, 31, intensifies.

Thursday night, police shut down road surrounding Frein's parent's home in Canadensis, Barrett Township.

"We are following up on all tips and leads as they come to us and at this point have no new information currently to release," state police spokeswoman Trooper Morgan Crummy said.

Authorities charged Frein Tuesday with first-degree murder, homicide of a law enforcement official and other related offenses.

Frein is accused of fatally shooting Cpl. Bryon Dickson, 38, and critically wounding Trooper Alex Douglass Friday night.

The suspect is a survivalist and is considered armed and "extremely dangerous," Noonan said. "He has made statements about wanting to kill law enforcement officers and also to commit mass acts of murder."

As investigators continued to comb the dense woods in northeastern Pennsylvania Thursday, hundreds gathered in Scranton, Pa. to mourn Dickson.

The Marine Corps veteran joined the state police in 2007. He is survived by his wife of 10 years and two young sons.

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<![CDATA[Man Charged in Calif. Wildfire Case]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 10:07:30 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Wayne-Allen-Huntsman.jpg

A 37-year-old man has been arrested on an arson charge and is being held on $10 million bail stemming from the King Fire burning in the Sierra foothills, one of the largest wildfires currently burning in California, Cal Fire announced.

At a news conference Thursday, Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott said Wayne Allen Huntsman was taken into custody at the Placerville jail on Wednesday. He was formally arrested on one count of arson on forest land where prosecutors accuse him of "willfully and maliciously" setting fire to land around Pollock Pines. Huntsman was also charged with a special aggravating circumstance of injuring a firefighter.

Huntsman's last known address was listed in Aptos, about nine miles from Santa Cruz, but when a reporter went there, neighbors said Huntsman hadn't lived there for more than a decade. It was not immediately clear whether Huntsman was being represented by an attorney. No one answered the phone number associated with his last known address.

El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson said Huntsman is scheduled to be arraigned on Sept. 19. The complaint shows that Huntsman had been previously convicted of assault with a deadly weapon, grand theft and unlawfully taking or driving a vehicle, stemming back to 1997 in Santa Cruz.

Authorities said Huntsman had "no known" arson conviction in his past.

Officials, however, would not comment on what evidence led them to suspect Huntsman. But Pierson did say the "ongoing" investigation "started within minutes" after the fire was reported on Saturday. But he wouldn't say more.

"I don't mean to be difficult," Pierson told the crowd of reporters. "I don't want to be difficult, but I don't want to comment specifically on anything that's not in the complaint."

Huntsman’s sister told the Associated Press she strongly doubts her brother is responsible for starting the blaze. Tami Criswell of Salinas said Thursday that her brother loves the forest and always has been very cautious with campfires.

Criswell said her brother works odd jobs in construction and security. She said, if he was involved in the fire, it wasn't intentional.

As of the Thursday, King Fire had more than doubled in size overnight, reaching more than 71,000 acres, according to Cal Fire, and was only 5 percent contained. Pollock Pines is part of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and is about 15 miles east of Placerville and 60 miles east of Sacramento. Officials said it was costing $5 million to battle the fire. Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday declared a state of emergency for El Dorado County.

Slightly more than 2,000 homes, and more than 1,500 other structures were in the dangerous line of fire near Pollock Pines in Northern California, according to the daily Cal Fire update. On Wednesday, 500 homes were threatened.

Despite that, no structures have actually burned, unlike in the town of Weed in Siskiyou county, where more than 150 structures, mostly homes and two churches, suffered damage from the Boles Fire there. On Thursday, the fire in Weed, which had burned 375 acres, was 65 percent contained, and Highway 97 had been reopened.

The King Fire is burning in steep terrain in the South Fork of the American River Canyon and Silver Creek Canyon, and so far, has caused two injuries. While the largest fire currently blazing in California, it is more than three times smaller than the Rim Fire near Yosemite, which burned about 250,000 acres last August, becoming California's third largest wildfire in history.

As a result of the King Fire, a portion of Highway 50 was closed, and many evacuations were in place. A King Fire Facebook page was set up by Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service to keep the community alerted with up-to-date information.

The page was full of community members offering consolation and help. Yvette Cadeaux offered to take in "goats, dogs or a horse or two down here in Grass Valley for anyone who needs to place their critters."

Laura Owens, who wrote in that her husband works for animal control, thanked all the "staff and teams on the fire lines and behind the scenes coordinating the efforts. We appreciate all of you!"

As of Thursday, more than 3,600 firefighters were fighting the King Fire.

NBC Bay Area's Tim Bollinger and Gonzalo Rojas and NBC affliate KSBW contributed to this report.
 



Photo Credit: El Dorado County Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Prof. Whose Tweets Found 9/11 Photo Owner: I Never Would Have Stopped]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 13:29:20 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/Elizabeth+Keefe.jpg

The professor who reconnected a man with a photo that was once sitting on his desk on the 77th floor of the World Trade Center says that even after thirteen years, she would have kept going on her mission to track down the story behind the picture.

"It was just something I committed myself to," Elizabeth Stringer Keefe said in an interview with NECN. 

Keefe, an assistant professor at the Graduate School of Education at Lesley University, and Ph.D. candidate at Boston College, first learned of the photo from a friend who found it at Ground Zero, just a few weeks after Sept. 11 attacks.

"The friend who gave it to me said one thing to me that I've never repeated in an interview. And the thing she said was that she picked up the photo because it was the only sign of life in the rubble," she said.

Moved by that statement, Keefe posted the photo to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram on the anniversary of the attacks for years, hoping to find the people in the picture alive and well.

This year, her post went viral. Fred Mahe, the owner of the photo, saw it circulating online and contacted Keefe, who, with tears, returned it to Mahe. Mahe, who worked in one of the towers but was not yet at work at the time of the attacks, said all the people pictured in the photo are alive.

Keefe, who teaches students about social media,  said her experience can serve as a lesson about the power of social media and humanity.

“We teach about using social media and technology ethically in the classroom and in community and it's a nice message about the outpouring of support that people will give," she said. " So many great things have come away from it, so many nice connections." 



Photo Credit: NECN]]>
<![CDATA[Dog Found in Canal With Chain, Cinderblock Attached: SPCA]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 15:45:59 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/west+islip+canal+floating+dog.jpg

Officials are investigating after a dog was found floating in a canal with a chain and cinder block around its neck off Long Island. 

A homeowner in West Islip spotted the dog near Secatogue Lane East and Bay Fifth Street, according to the Suffolk County SPCA. The homeowner contacted the local animal shelter, who in turn contacted the SPCA.

The dog is a black and tan female Rottweiler mix, believed to be about 7 years old. 

There was no sign of trauma on the dog, the SPCA said. Investigators are looking into whether it was already dead before it was put in the water, perhaps for a burial at sea. 

Neighbors were skeptical.

"It's hard to believe someone would dump them in the canal like that," said Gerard Cereola. 

Cindy Sheehan said "there are ways to dispose of animals in a respectful way, and that's not it. It's very disturbing, and it's sad." 

A necropsy will be performed to determine if foul play was involved.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Suffolk County SPCA. 

Follow Checkey Beckford on Twitter @Checkey4NY

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<![CDATA[6-Year-Old Boy Fatally Stabbed in South LA]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 06:20:30 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/215*120/6-year-old+boy+fatally+stabbed+south+laPNG.PNG

A father is in custody after his 6-year-old son was fatally stabbed early Thursday morning in South LA, sheriff’s officials said.

Just after midnight, deputies responded to a call of a person screaming in the 1600 block of 88th Street. Upon arrival, deputies found the child had multiple stab wounds on his upper torso.

Deputies administered life-saving efforts to try and save the boy, then rushed him to St. Francis Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

"I'm not a father, but it hurts really bad, knowing that a little kid died," neighbor Diego Cerda said.

According to witnesses, the boy's father, Alejandro Sanchez, was screaming incoherently and was covered in blood. The boy was found inside the mobile home that the two shared.

Sanchez had full custody of his son. Los Angeles County Sherif's Sgt. Luis Nunez said that, from what the department understands, the child's mother died shortly after childbirth.

Neighbor Gricel Ibarra, whose mother was one of the boy's babysitters, told NBC4 that there were concerns about the boy's well-being.

"(There was) a burn on one of his legs and he would say that he was scared to be with his dad," Ibarra said.

The county's Department of Children and Family Services said it could not comment on whether they were aware of the Sanchez case because of confidentiality rules. 

Sheriff's detectives told NBC4 that they are checking other addresses where the two had lived in the recent past, determining whether or not there were any previous domestic calls or red flags.

"You see just a beautiful little angel there and realize that he went through hell," Nunez said.

An autopsy may be performed as early as Friday. 

Kevin LaBeach and Adrian Arambulo contributed to this report.

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<![CDATA[Man Sought on Missing U.Va. Student]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 23:28:53 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/222*120/0918-hannah-graham.jpg

Police searching for missing University of Virginia student Hannah Elizabeth Graham are now looking for a man whom another witness saw put his arm around the nursing student soon before she disappeared early Saturday morning.

Graham, 18, was last seen on surveillance video around Charlottesville's downtown mall just after 1 a.m. last Saturday morning. 

A man shown in those surveillance videos has already spoken with police, and is being called a "cooperative person of interest."

At 1:06 a.m., a camera at Sal's Restaurant recorded him walking in front of Graham, stopping and then walking behind her. Two minutes later, a camera at Tuel Jewelers, also on the mall, recorded Graham walking with another woman while the same man followed her. 

Charlottesville Police Capt. Gary Pleasants told NBC29 late Wednesday evening they spoke with that man, who told officers he noticed Graham was disoriented and he wanted to help her.

He told police that after he spoke with her, he saw a second man -- now being called a "person of interest" by police -- speaking to Graham and wrapping his arm around her shoulders. The witness said it appeared as though the man was also concerned about Graham or possibly that he knew her.

The person of interest is described as a black man who stands between 5'10" and 5'11" and weighs between 250 and 285 pounds, with a closely-shaved goatee and a slight "beer belly." At the time, he was wearing black jeans and a white T-shirt.

Charlottesvlle police say they will search for more surveillance video from area businesses Thursday in an attempt to get a clearer description of the situation surrounding Graham's alleged encounter with the person of interest.

Thousands of U.Va. students gathered at a vigil Thursday evening to honor Graham, even bringing several of her favorite things -- a U.K. flag, skis and strawberry Starburst candy. Her best friends wrote a letter to Graham and read it out loud at the packed outdoor amphitheater.

"Simply put, we miss you so much. You make things good, Hannah Graham. Where are you? We want you back where you belong."

Thursday, police announced with the help of U.Va., local businesses and Charlottesville residents, they will be offering a $50,000 reward for information in Graham's disappearance.

Wednesday afternoon, Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo and lead investigator Detective Sgt. Jim Mooney discussed the chronology beginning Friday night and showed two surveillance videos of the 18-year-old by herself.

Graham, who is from Fairfax County, was last seen wearing black pants and a gold crop top with black mesh cutouts, according to surveillance photos taken Friday at her apartment around 9:30 p.m.

Police said she met friends for dinner at a strip of bars, restaurants and night spots near the university. She left by herself around 11 p.m.

She was spotted outside McGrady's Irish Pub, then walking east along Preston Avenue in Charlottesville at 12:46 a.m. Saturday. 

Investigators say the Fairfax County teen appeared intoxicated but was not injured.

About 10 minutes later, surveillance video shows her outside a Shell gas station on Preston Avenue, NBC29 reported. She broke into a run, but police said no one was behind her on the tape.

By 1 a.m., Graham made it to the downtown mall in Charlottesville where the latest surveillance video was found. Police say Graham interacted with the person of interest around 1:15 a.m.

Her friends last heard from her at 1:20 a.m., when she sent a text indicating she was lost.

She was last seen in the 300 block of East Main Street, Pleasants said, and reported missing Sunday. 

Longo choked up as he described talking to Graham's parents, John and Susan Graham, earlier in the day. He read a statement from them.

"Hannah is beyond precious to us, and we are devastated by her disappearance,'' the statement read. "It is totally out of character for us not to have heard from her, and we fear foul play."

But police lack substantial evidence of foul play at this point, Longo said.

"Those of us who know and love Hannah know that she would not disappear without contacting family or friends," Graham's family said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon. "She is highly responsible and organized. She embraces life with energy and enthusiasm and has enriched the lives of many. Her empathy is evident in her daily interactions with us and her friends."

Stephen Rice, the band director at Graham's alma mater, West Potomac High School, agreed. "Hannah is not the kind of kid that would just go on a road trip and disappear," he said. "She was always very diligent with everything she did, and always did everything exactly by the book." Graham graduated from West Potomac in 2013.

The FBI has confirmed that it is involved in the search for her, saying only that it is providing investigative resources to local police. Albemarle County's search and rescue teams also lent a hand to Charlottesville Police Tuesday in their search for Hannah.

"We're mostly giving them some extra eyes and feet on the ground to actually cover more area quicker. In these searches, time is of the essence in trying to find someone," said Bobby Shiflett with Albemarle County Sheriff's Office. 

Graham, who is originally from England, is 5-feet-11-inches tall with blue eyes, light brown hair and freckles, according to university officials. Graham's family moved to the U.S. when she was five years old.

University President Teresa A. Sullivan issued a statement saying the community is "united in our deep concern'" for the second-year student.

Graham's parents left their Northern Virginia home to go to Charlottesville to help look for her earlier this week, and a "Help Find Hannah Graham"' page has been established on Facebook.

"I just want her home safe. I'm scared for her," said Karen Blunk, who lives next door to Graham's parents. "Just from the standpoint of, you hear horrible things."

In October 2009, Morgan Harrington, a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student, went missing after leaving the University of Virginia's John Paul Jones Arena while attending a rock concert. Her remains were found three months later in a rural area. No arrests have been made.

"It's heartbreaking to know that another young woman is missing and that another family is going through the anguish of the missing period," said Harrington's mother.

At least two other young women, both 19 years old, have also disappeared in the area in recent years. Samantha Ann Clarke vanished after leaving her Orange County townhouse in September 2010. DaShad Laquinn Smith disappeared in Charlottesville in November 2012. Neither have been found.

Anyone with information regarding Graham's whereabouts is asked to call a 24/7 tipline at 434-295-3851. Police say they've received more than 200 tips so far.

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<![CDATA[Vets Try to Save Dog's Leg]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 12:21:13 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/222*120/09-18-14_Gordo-Chase-Dog.JPG

Donations from across the country could mean the difference between four legs and three for one lucky dog who captured hearts when he was the unexpected victim of a televised police chase in South LA.

Gordo the Maltese-mix was struck by the driver of a white van involved in a high-speed pursuit, and despite injuries, veterinarians said Thursday the dog may get to keep all his limbs.

Though the runaway van’s rim sliced Gordo‘s right thigh, vets confirmed that Gordo did not suffer any organ or nerve damage.

"I haven't ever seen such a clean injury without nerve damage or bleeding," said Dr. Kim Carey. "I don't know if that rim was so hot it acted to cauterize or close up vessels with heat. Strange Injury."

Carey said Gordo's survival is surprising.

After he was hit by the car, Gordo limped home, and owner Santos Son said his children were the first to see the dog, covered in blood.

The injured pup was taken in a shoebox by a crying Son to Access Specialty Animal Hospital in Culver City, where he underwent surgery Thursday afternoon.

Gordo’s story spurred an outpouring of support.

Generous donations made it possible for Gordo’s owners to afford the expensive operation necessary to save Gordo’s leg.

Son said he is grateful for the response.

"He's going to be fine," Son said in Spanish. "Gordo has a lot of luck and wants to live."

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<![CDATA[Woman Run Over Still Hospitalized]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 10:46:14 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/09-18-14_Lorae-Bermudez-Lifeguard.JPG

A 26-year-old newlywed who was run over by an LA County lifeguard truck earlier this week suffered lacerations to her liver and fractures to her pelvic area, her attorney said Thursday.

Lorae Bermudez and her husband, Thomas Kim, were sunbathing at Venice Beach Monday afternoon when she was run over by a lifeguard truck in the sand near the 1500 block of Ocean Front Walk.

The couple were married just a few days before the incident, attorney Robert Pecora said. He said Bermudez remains hospitalized, recovering from her injuries

A lifeguard specialist driving a Ford Escape was coming back from a rescue and did not see Bermudez in the sand, according to police. The lifeguard was not en route to an emergency, so the SUV did not have lights and sirens on at the time.

The county is investigating, and Pecora is representing Bermudez in any possible litigation stemming from the incident.



Photo Credit: Courtesy Robert J. Pecora]]>