<![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 Sun, 31 Aug 2014 06:29:09 -0400 Sun, 31 Aug 2014 06:29:09 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Family Members Found Dead in Home]]> Sun, 31 Aug 2014 00:35:46 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/tlmd_police_562804335b15d1.jpg

Several family members were found dead in a home in west suburban Elmhurst Saturday, police said.

Few details were released surrounding the deaths, but police at a news conference Saturday said officers were conducting a well-being check at a home in the 600 block of Chatam just before 7 p.m. when they discovered "several family members" dead inside the home. 

According to authorities, a death investigation is ongoing.

Police do not believe there is any immediate threat to the community, but further information surrounding the deaths was not immediately available, according to Elmhurst Police Chief Michael Ruth.

The DuPage County Coroner's office confirmed they were called to the scene but could not offer any further details.

Neighbors told NBC Chicago they saw armed police officers approaching the home earlier this evening.

The Detective Section of the Elmhurst Police Department is investigating the incident, police said.

Check back for details on this developing story.

<![CDATA[Girl on Life Support After Crash]]> Sun, 31 Aug 2014 05:16:36 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/200*120/aisling+cooke+route+40+crash.JPG

A 14-year-old girl is on life support and four other teenager girls are recovering after a pickup truck crossed a median and set off a chain-reaction wreck along a South Jersey roadway.

A 2008 Chevrolet Silverado driven by Nicholas Gareffi, 39, of Vineland, crossed the center line of Route 40 (Harding Highway) near Pittsburgh Avenue in Hamilton Township around 8:45 a.m. Saturday, according to police.

His truck then headed into oncoming traffic traveling westbound -- slamming into a box truck, which collided with a 2011 Volkswagon Jetta with five teenage girls inside, according to investigators.

The Chevy ran off the roadway, struck several trees and caught fire, police said. Meanwhile the force of the wreck pushed the Jetta onto a nearby lawn.

All five of the Jetta's passengers-- athletes for Mainland Regional High School -- were heading to a charity soccer game when the crash occurred, according to school officials.

"They were on a mission," said Robert Previti, interim superintendent of Mainland Regional High School District. "A soccer tournament to go help someone else."

The Jetta’s driver Madelyn Williscroft, 18, of Linwood, suffered moderate to severe injuries. One of her passengers, 14-year-old Aisling Cooke, sustained serious injuries and was medivaced to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center - City Division. Three other students in the car were also hurt.

Cooke remains hospitalized on life support Saturday.

Williscroft and  the three other students were evaluated at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center and released to their parents, according to Previti.

"One remains in critical condtion," Previti said. "Please keep the entire Mainland Community in your thoughts and prayers."

The box truck’s driver Darrel Jacobs, 48, of Vineland, was taken to the hospital for observation. Gareffi wasn’t hurt, according to police.

Police closed Route 40 for about two hours Saturday as they investigated.

No summonses were immediately issued and the investigation is ongoing, officers said.

Nearly 200 people -- both students and parents -- showed up at Mainland Regional High School Saturday afternoon for a prayer service after learning about the crash.

The wreck comes two years after a fatal car wreck took the lives of four Mainland football players.

In Aug. 2011, 17-year-old Casey Brenner lost control while driving an SUV and crashed into a roadway median, police said. The accident killed Brenner, 16-year-old Edgar Bozzi, 15-year-old Dean Khourty and 16-year-old Nicholas Conner.

"That scar tissue is very deep," Previti said. "It never heals, it never loses consciousness. Now we have another we're going to deal with."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut

<![CDATA[California Uproots Grassy Lawns]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 17:55:45 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP36505113488.jpg

Daniel and Joanne Azarnoff had the quintessential, grassy green lawn outside their house in the San Francisco Bay area -- until this bone-dry summer.

With the help of the Solano County Water Agency, they ripped up turf and replaced it with a mix of slate, stones, redwood mulch and drought-resistant plants more suitable to Rio Vista's Mediterranean climate.

“We did it because California has a drought, and we thought it would be a good way to reduce the amount of water which we use,” Daniel Azarnoff said.

Their decision is one California officials wish more residents would make. Communities and water agencies across the state have been paying to encourage homeowners and businesses to replace grass with more appropriate and less thirsty plants. Now, with California in its third year of a severe drought, the so-called “cash for grass” programs are bursting in popularity, if still small in size.

In the city of Long Beach, about 1,500 homeowners have taken advantage of the 4-year-old program there, which pays $3.50 per square foot — but that is out of the owners of about 60,000 single-family homes.

“A lot of people love their lawn,” said Joyce Barkley, the city’s water conservation specialist. “It’s a challenge.”

Instead of grass, Barkley tries to interest residents in sages, blue fescue, lion’s tail, lilacs, lavenders, olive trees and other drought-tolerant plantings.

The hope is that other homeowners will imitate the gardens made up of plants that thrive in Long Beach's annual 12 inches of rainfall, rather than lawns that need seven times that amount, Barkley said.

Water-greedy irrigation

In many ways, Californians do well conserving water, with most of the state's water going toward irrigating crops, said Hadley Arnold, executive director of the Arid Lands Institute at Woodbury University in Burbank.

One exception? Lawn irrigation. In Los Angeles, 54 percent of residential water consumption is used outdoors, according to the 2010 Urban Water Management Plan from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. Add in commercial, industrial, governmental and multi-family consumption and that number is 39 percent.

“Where we’re still water-greedy is irrigation,” she said. “You can irrigate with recycled water.”

At least 26 water agencies across the states are offering rebates, according to the Association of California Water Agencies. There has been a surge of interest this summer, said Lisa Lien-Mager, the association’s director of communications.

The number of requests for turf removal the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has received since January are nearly double the total number of requests over the last five years, the district says.

In July, it got requests to remove 2.5 million square feet of turf — the equivalent of 1,665 typical front yards, and up from 99,000 square feet in January.

The rise in requests from businesses was even more significant: 4.7 million square feet, or the equivalent of 82 football fields, up from 22,000 square feet.

In May, the district, a cooperative of cites and water agencies serving nearly 19 million people, doubled its rebates from $1 to $2 per square foot for consumers and businesses.

Nurturing wildlife, conserving resources

Water restrictions put in place as a result of the drought have left lots of dead lawns and have prompted homeowners to think about what to do with a much more limited water supply, said Bart O’Brien, director of the Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Berkeley.

“Everyone has taken water supply pretty much for granted until this unprecedented, longer, drier drought than we’ve had in historic times,” he said.

Gardeners are taking new interest in native California plants, which not only use less water but also can help sustain insects, birds, lizards and other wildlife that have become endangered by the loss of natural areas.

"Through the act of thoughtful gardening, we can make a rather significant difference," said Carol Bornstein, the director of the Nature Gardens at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

The Solano County Water Agency's program is four years old, but 65 percent of its 282 participants signed up in the last fiscal year, according to the agency. Since July, 56 projects have been completed. It pays $1 per square foot for up to 1,000 square feet for environmentally friendly landscaping.

"I think it's opening up a lot of people's eyes especially right now," said Lara Remitz, a landscape architecture student at the University of California, Davis, who has been working with the program. "It helps people understand that there is an issue with water."

But she has noticed that some homeowners still leave a patch of dirt that they plan to return to lawn if the drought eases.

"There's still a large resistance to the idea," she said.

In Rio Vista, the Azarnoffs are happy with their new landscaping. They had liked their lawn, but it was maintained by a sprinkler system, Daniel Azarnoff said. By switching to a drip system that targets only the plants, they are using much less water, he said.

“And it still looks very beautiful,” he said.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Bristol Officer Dragged By Vehicle]]> Sun, 31 Aug 2014 04:26:40 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Bristol_Mwanilelo1.jpg

Bristol police have arrested a man for dragging an officer with his vehicle.

Police say the situation started when officers arrived at the Hunting Woods Apartment Complex on Blakeslee Street for a report of a violation of a protective order. The suspect, Mussa Mwanilelo of Springfield, Mass., was in his vehicle when police arrived.

Mwanilelo attempted to flee, according to police. When an officer attempted to stop the vehicle, Mwanilelo grabbed the officer’s arm. The officer was dragged as Mwanilelo drove off, but eventually got free and suffered minor injuries.

Bristol police say Mwanilelo was later located with help from Farmington police and Connecticut state police on I-84 in Hartford. He was arrested and returned to Bristol.

He is charged with assault on an officer, interfering with an officer, first-degree reckless endangerment, criminal violation of a restraining order, first-degree criminal trespass, possessing weapons in a motor vehicle, and second-degree breach of peace. He was held on $250,000 bond.

Photo Credit: Bristol Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Arrests at Made in America Concert]]> Sun, 31 Aug 2014 04:12:34 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/140830-made-in-america-concert-downtown-los-angeles.jpg

More than two dozen arrests were made on the first night of the two-day Made in America music festival attended by 34,000 at Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles, police said.

At least 29 people landed in handcuffs Saturday - including a private security guard for the alleged battery of a concertgoer - the Los Angeles Police Department said. Officials said most arrests were drug and alcohol related.

The LAPD and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department each had several hundred officers and deputies assigned to the festival and there were hundreds of private security personnel on hand as well, said LAPD Lt. Andrew Neiman said.

No major incidents were reported, although six people were taken to the hospital for heat-related ailments, authorities said.

The event was mostly peaceful.

"Here we're all united as one," said one concertgoer. "Music brings us together. We're here to have a good time, nothing else matters."

The concert features three stages and a lineup that includes Kanye West, Afrojack, Imagine Dragons, Kendrick Lamar, John Mayer and Iggy Azaela.

City News Service contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Kate Larsen (@KateNBCLA via Twitter)]]>
<![CDATA[Hate Crime Arrest in Central Park]]> Sun, 31 Aug 2014 03:07:11 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/generic+central+park+vg.jpg

Police say a man was arrested and charged for his involvement in a Central Park assault that is being investigated as a hate crime.

The man, 20-year-old Edward Fall, allegedly shot a jogger with a pellet gun on Monday and was part of a group of people who the jogger said made anti-white statements against her.

Fall has been charged with hate crime assault, reckless endangerment and criminal possession of a weapon. He faces the same charges for allegedly shooting another jogger in the same manner last Sunday.

Police say four other people were with Fall when he shot the jogger on Monday, and that they also made anti-white statements, but authorities have not announced any other arrests.

Information on a lawyer for Fall was not immediately available.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut

Photo Credit: Valeria Gonzalez]]>
<![CDATA[Drought Threatens Farming Valley]]> Sun, 31 Aug 2014 02:52:34 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/467472193.jpg

In the rich farmland of the San Joaquin Valley it's summertime -- peak growing season for many crops. But every sunbaked, scorching day brings another test of water reserves in a region running on empty.

The dearth of irrigation water from rivers or reservoirs has forced growers in the valley 80 miles north of Los Angeles to rely almost entirely on water pumped from wells.
"I'm worried from a couple of standpoints," said grower Stuart Woolf, as he stood in a field of tomatoes at harvest time.  "One, I'm worried that we just flat run out of groundwater."
Some growers have already taken draconian steps to deal with the reality that they don't have enough water for all their crops. Near Fresno, Shawn Stevenson bulldozed a third of his orange grove.
"When these trees are gone they're not going to use any more water so I can put that water on another crop," Stevenson said.
In this third year of record drought, other growers have idled acreage for annual row crops.
"If this was a regular year, this would have been re-planted either to corn or to sorghum," said Tipton farmer Tom Barcellos,  as he showed a reporter a field he's fallowed  "either one of them would have been about 10 feet tall right at this point so we'd been walking here and you'd never see us."
Not far away, Vince and Pam Sola watched their almonds being harvested next door to a field they've left unplanted.  Permanent tree crops are different.  If you can't water them, you not only lose that year's income; you lose your investment.
"It's sad to see this land just lay there vacant," said Pam Sola, shrugging her shoulders as her husband finished her thought. "Without surface water, we decided we had  to leave some land idle and divert the water to less acres," said Vince Sola.
It is a summer of crisis for the Solas, Barcellos, and Woolf, but the crisis is hardly unique to them, with the drought stressing agriculture in virtually the entire San Joaquin Valley.  
Its farming region stretches from the Tehachapi Mountains to Stockton, bounded by the Coast Range to the west and the Sierra Nevada to the east. Blessed with rich soil, an abundance of sun, but minimal rainfall even apart from drought years, the valley has relied for half a century on water imported from Northern California to become the nation's most productive growing region, known for its citrus and grapes. and increasingly for specialty tree crops such as almonds and pistachios, walnuts and cherries.
"This is an impact across the country," warned Barcellos.  "You look at the number of nuts and grapes -- everything that's on somebody's table sometime of the day comes from this valley."
Barcellos is primarily a dairyman in a corner of Tulare County that produces 12 percent of the nation's milk.  He worries about cows that need water every three hours, and rely on misters to avoid overheating in triple-digit temperatures.
"There is no surface water to buy here for this district," Barcellos laments, as he shows a reporter a bone-dry and dusty irrigation ditch that had been serving his farm for decades.  He wistfully recalls playing in the ditch water as a teenager, even water skiing as a buddy pulled him along with a tractor.  No more.
Since shortly after World War II, and with rare exceptions, the region farmed by Barcellos and the Solas has been able to rely on irrigation water from the federal Central Valley Project. The Bureau of Reclamation dammed the San Joaquin River, and diverted almost its entire flow into two irrigation canals for the eastside growers. A third canal, from the San Francisco Bay Delta to Mendota, was built for growers with rights to the San Joaquin River to replace the water no longer flowing downstream. Surplus water from the Delta Mendota Canal became available for growers including the Woolf Farm on the west side of the valley, and the region flourished, despite nagging concerns that in dry years, relying on junior rights, it would be the first to be cut off.
Statewide, agriculture takes an estimated three-quarters of the water California consumes. Farming is by far the state's largest single water user, dwarfing the amount city-dwellers use to boil their potatoes, brush their teeth, wash their clothes and water their yards.
Over the decades, periodic droughts have reduced or even interrupted deliveries, but nothing like this past year of drought, when only the holders of original, so-called "riparian" rights to the San Joaquin River received surface water; for other growers, the federal allocation was reduced to zero, leaving them almost entirely dependent on groundwater.
Not every farm has sufficient well capacity to serve all of its needs.  In some cases, wells have gone dry as the water table is drawn down. Even farms with adequate well water see profits decimated by the cost of purchasing the electrical power needed to pump deep-lying groundwater hundreds of feet to the surface.
This past week, the California state legislature took initial steps toward tracking and eventually regulating groundwater withdrawals, a level of regulation to which some farmers are resistant, but others are resigned.
"We have to be saved from ourselves," said Vince Sola.  "Otherwise we're just going to pump, pump, pump, and it will be all gone."
Using satellite technology, a new study by UC San Diego found 63 trillion gallons have been lost from the groundwater reserves of the western U.S. That's enough to cover all the land west of the Rockies in four inches of water, the authors noted.  As reserves drop, wells go dry, and drillers cannot keep up with the demand for drilling deeper.
"We're 12-13 months behind," said Steve Arthur of Arthur & Orum Well Drilling, as he watched his crew go down 600 feet for a new well to supply an almond grove outside Caruthers.  In another area to the north of Fresno, another grower had Arthur dig down 2,000 feet.  The water table is not yet that low, Arthur explained, but the grower wants reserve room as the groundwater is drawn down further.
Wells that deep cost as much as $750,000, Arthur said, not including the pump and other expenses before the well becomes operational.
It's deja vu.
Before the Central Valley Project and California's State Water Project, San Joaquin Valley growers relied almost exclusively on groundwater.  So much was pumped out, that the floor of the valley began dropping, or "subsiding," as  the weight of the ground above crushed the waterless Earth below.  By 1977, the ground near Mendota had subsided some 30 feet, according to a study by the U.S. Geological Survey.  
That subsidence has again reared its head is not disputed by growers.
"In some regions you can actually see the ground around the well site -- it looks like the well is growing -- it's coming out of the ground," said Woolf, explaining that in reality, the ground is dropping around the wellhead, exposing more of it.
To stetch their water, growers have been switching to more efficient irrigation techniques, including expensive drip systems.

It has also lead to unintended consequences.  Drip means that the mineral contaminants in groundwater are concentrated at the seed row.  Avoiding overwater also limits the water that in the past would have percolated through the soil to replenish the underground water table.

Where the drought is reducing crop yields may lead to higher prices -- but not necessarily for crops in competition with other regions, and the California drought impact at the grocery checkout stand so far has been minimal.
"If all you know is you go to the store and the food is there and it doesn't cost any more, then you don't seen the impact," Pam Sola said.
Growers hope it does not get to that point before they get assistance.  They are calling for the government water projects to build additional storage, so that more of the snowmelt and river runoff during wet years can be saved for drought years.
Some $2.7 billion would be dedicated to new storage if California voters approve the water bond that the legislature has placed on the November ballot.  Many growers think it should be more.
In addition, growers bristle at environmental conservation rulings and decisions that have placed limits on the amount of river water that can be withdrawn and delivered by the water projects for irrigation.
Some characterize the dispute as Farmer vs. Fish.
Of particular concern are the salmon that swim through the vast Delta where the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers reach the San Francisco Bay.  Salmon still spawn upstream in the Sacramento Rivers.  Federal rulings have effectively placed limits on water releases from upstream dams in order to insure that river temperatures remain cool enough for salmon to spawn.
Under a separate agreement to restore the salmon runs in the San Joaquin River, 17 percent of the average flow long diverted to irrigation canals will be again sent downstream for the fish.
The agreement does recognize the impact of periodic droughts.  This year, no water is being released into the San Joaquin River for restoration, according to  Monty Schmitt of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
Ironically, during this drought summer there is more water in the San Joaquin than there has been for decades, because it is being released to satisfy the riparian rights of downstream properties that for decades until this year had been served by the Delta Mendota Canal.
That water is being released from Friant Dam, rather than being diverted into the Friant-Kern canal, is the reason Barcellos and his fellow Tulare County growers are not receving any Central Valley project water this year.
Growers acknowledge the need to protect habitat, but challenged the benefits of how it has played out.  A longtime sore point for growers is a ruling that effectively limits how much freshwater can be
withdrawn from the Delta in order to protect a finger-size fish known as the Delta Smelt, an endangered, and therefore protected, species. 
Woolf observed the hand-wringing in Los Angeles in July when a water main failure sent 20 million gallons of water through the UCLA campus en route to storm sewers.
"Here this season over one 60 day period we sent 260 million gallons under the Golden Gate Bridge for a benefit nobody knows what it was," complained Woolf.
Environmental activists contend there are tangible benefits.
"It's very shortsighted to wipe out fisheries to get a little water now that does not benefit us in the longrun," said Kate Poole, senior attorney with the NRDC.
Regardless, the battle will continue to be fought in court.
The environmental issues have had less impact on farming regions in the Delta, and to the north in the Sacramento Valley, where growers rely on water districts with riparian rights to the Sacramento River, which delivers are more than the San Joaquin.  Growers in California's next largest agricultural region, the Imperial Valley near the Mexican border, import their water from the Colorado River, which has been less affected by the California drought. 
All with stakes in California's water supply worry about the effect of climate change adding to unpredictability.  But as it is, California's surface water resource has been frustratingly unpredictable since epic flooding overwhelmed the San Joaquin Valley's first generation of farmers back in the 19th Century after the Gold Rush.
It's been four decades since a drought as severe as the current one, but since 1977, not a decade has passed without a drought, and the one just 5 years ago triggered conservation responses still in place in many areas, including Los Angeles.
By the same token, every 4 years on average there is a rainy season wet enough to produce flooding.  The last one occurred in the winter of 2011, when reservoirs ran out of capacity and instead of banking water for summer during winter and spring, had to release it. 
"We never get an average amount of water," Schmitt said. "It's always too much or too little.  The key is:  how do we manage it so we will have vibrant agriculture industry, while also having a healthy river and community resource."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[1 Man Robs 2 Banks Back-to-Back]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 21:27:21 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Dual-Bank-Robbery.jpg

A lone suspect may have been responsible for two back-to-back robberies at two different banks in the same Mira Mesa shopping center Saturday, officials said.

According to San Diego police, the robberies happened within minutes of each other, just before 12:30 p.m. One was at a North Island Credit Union at 9420 Mira Mesa Blvd., while the other was at a U.S. Bank at 9400 Mira Mesa Blvd. The banks are in the same shopping center, separated only by a small parking lot.

Police said an unknown man entered the North Island Credit Union first, approached a teller and verbally demanded cash. After receiving some money, he left the bank and popped into the U.S. Bank across the way, using the same strategy.

The man then fled the area on foot and was last seen heading westbound on Mira Mesa Blvd., police said.

No demand note or weapon was used in the robberies. Officer did not immediately locate the suspect. For now, the man is only described as 5-foot-6 with a heavy build. He wore a light grey hoodie, black hat and white gloves.

Though the robberies are under investigation, police are fairly certain the same suspect is responsible for both.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Drunk Federal Agent Arrested]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 21:15:52 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/tlmd_police_generic_police_tape_police_lights_fishtown_722x406_2202385257.jpg

A drunken federal agent was arrested in Burbank after allegedly pulling out a handgun and telling someone to follow him early Wednesday.

Officers responded to a report of a person brandishing a gun around 12:30 a.m. in the 300 block of East Santa Anita Avenue, according to a news release from the Burbank Police Department.

The victim told police that they were ordered by a “very” intoxicated man armed with a gun to follow him. After following the man for a short period, the victim ran away and was able to escape, officials said.

Police searched the area and found Andrew Leconte around 1 a.m. near San Fernando Boulevard and Angeleno Avenue, less than one mile away.

Investigators later learned that Leconte is an agent with the United States Marshals Service.

Leconte was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and brandishing a firearm, police said. Burbank police were investigating the incident.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut

Photo Credit: NBC Chicago]]>
<![CDATA[Suspect Detained After Possible Threat Against Obama]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 22:22:51 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP995664873180.jpg

Hamden, Connecticut, police say that a vehicle believed to be driven by a suspicious person who may have threatened President Barack Obama has been located and a person involved was taken into custody late Friday night.

According to Hamden Police, a Volkswagen Jetta was located on Mix Avenue in Hamden, where the suspect's address was listed, late Friday.

Hamden Police say that, along with Connecticut State Police and the Secret Service, they converged on the car outside an ice rink.

The Secret Service took a suspect into custody for questioning after tracking his cell phone.

"We have taken all appropriate investigative steps in this matter, based on the information we received yesterday about a suspicious vehicle and person, " said Nicole Mainor, Public Affairs Staff Assistant for Secret Service. "There have been no arrests or charges brought in this case at this point."

Former FBI Special Agent Michael Clark says the Secret Service must work through threats to the president every day.

Though the nature of the threat has not been released, Clark said it's telling that the agency reached out to local law enforcement to track down the suspect.

The Secret Service said earlier on Friday  that a suspect believed to be involved in a possible threat against President Obama may have been driving a car with Connecticut plates. The vehicle was described as a 2014 blue Volkswagen Jetta.

It is unclear whether the suspect is still in custody.

Neither police nor Secret Service officials released information on the nature of the reported threat or said why the individual they were looking for was deemed suspicious.

President Obama landed in Air Force One at Westchester County Airport just before 2 p.m. on Friday before heading to fundraising events in Sound Shore and Purchase, NBC New York reported. He then landed at Green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island on Friday evening.

On Friday, police in New York's Westchester County received reports that someone possibly trying to harm the president was headed in that direction. 

A number of police bulletins went out in New York and Connecticut searching for the car the person was driving and the Secret Service also asked Connecticut State Police to keep an eye out for the vehicle.

The president returned to the White House Friday evening.

No more information was immediately available. Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[1-Day Sentence for Deadly Crash]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 14:09:32 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Wood-Steffey-0829.jpg

A woman who pleaded guilty to causing a head-on crash that killed an off-duty firefighter in Campo last year will only spend one day in jail, a San Diego judge ruled Friday.

Several months ago, Natasia Wood, 22, pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter in the death of U.S. Forest Service firefighter Darin Steffey, 37.

On Friday, Wood was ultimately ordered to spend one day at Las Colinas Detention Facility for the deadly crash and was given three years of probation and community service in what a judge called a "very terrible, tragic, one-time mistake."

Steffey's mother, Jill Reid, was overcome with emotion at Wood's sentencing. She spoke in court about everything Steffey's family will have to miss now that he's gone.

"It means no wedding celebration, no grandchildren to love, no family gatherings that we would be a cherished part of," said Reid.

The mother said she recently spent her son's birthday not celebrating with him, but rather visiting his gravesite at Miramar National Cemetery in "the most painful way imaginable."

Steffey's sister, Heather Steffey, also addressed the court, speaking about how her only sibling's death has forever changed her life.

“There is nothing in life that will ever be worse than losing my brother. He was my built-in best friend, family and support. [His death] has crippled my existence, left me almost hysterical and unable to deal with the things that I used to be able to deal with," she said. "It has broken my life.”

“I valued no person more on this Earth. That’s what you took from me," Heather added, holding back tears. "I wear my brother around my neck in an urn every day and sometimes hear his sweet voice joking around as we used to.”

Steffey's girlfriend, Jessica Raddatz, also spoke at the sentencing. She said she and Steffey had planned to get married and some day start a family. Since losing Steffey to the deadly crash, Raddatz said she's suffered from depression and PTSD, and still can't believe he's gone.

“My world no longer shines. There are days when I just lay on the couch. I may not have been on the back of that motorcycle but I may as well have been killed because [Wood] has killed me too,” Raddatz said, sobbing.

“The defendant killed a man. And it was so preventable,” a prosecutor told the court, speaking about the dangers of speeding.

According to police, Wood was driving at more than 70 mph – about 15 miles over the posted speed limit – when she lost control and veered into northbound traffic lanes on Buckman Springs Road on Oct. 3, 2013.

Wood’s vehicle collided head-on with Steffey, who was riding his motorcycle. He was killed in the accident.

Steffey, also a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and former hotshot firefighter, was on his way home from work at the time of the deadly crash.

The collision happened just a mile away from Steffey’s fire station. His colleagues were the first responders on scene.

Wood's father, Carlos Wood, also spoke at Friday's sentencing. He said his daughter had been unexpectedly called into work on the day of the accident, which may have played a role in how rushed she felt as she drove.

“I don’t justify speeding in any way, shape or form, but I believe this was an accident,” said Carlos.

The defendant's father said his daughter feels extreme guilt for causing the crash and "wakes up in the middle of the night screaming because of what she did."

Wood's attorney also told the court her client "regrets every day what she did, driving on that road too fast," and is truly sorry for taking Steffey from his family.

Since the accident, Steffey’s family, girlfriend and friends have been working to get justice for their loved one.

In January, Steffey’s mother spoke one-on-one with NBC 7 about her beloved son and urged others not to speed while driving.

Steffey's loved ones maintain a Facebook group that follows their fight for justice in this case.

Raddatz has also created a "Darin Steffey Roadside Memorial Fund," which collects donations to erect a permanent roadside memorial sign in Steffey's honor that will "remind others of the tragic consequences of reckless driving." To donate, click here.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[NYC Death Ruled Homicide by Police]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 12:25:11 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/ambulance-shutterstock_12161325.jpg

A man who went into cardiac arrest after being placed in a body wrap by police outside of St. Patrick's Cathedral in midtown died of homicide caused by physical restraint, the medical examiner has found.

Ronald Singleton, 45, died of homicide caused by "physical restraint by police" last month while he was apparently high on PCP, or angel dust, the medical examiner says.

High blood pressure, heart disease and obesity were also contributing conditions, the medical examiner said. 

Police say a taxi cab driver flagged an officer on foot patrol near St. Patrick's Cathedral at East 51st Street and Fifth Avenue just after midnight on Saturday, July 13 and said his passenger was acting "overly irate and irrational" as he cursed and screamed. 

When the passenger got out of the taxi, he tried fighting with the officer, who in turn called for backup, police said.

A lieutenant and other officers from Midtown North responded, along with emergency services officers, who put Singleton in a protective body wrap, police said. 

EMS started to transport Singleton to Bellevue Hospital when he went into cardiac arrest in the ambulance, police said. The ambulance rerouted to the closer Roosevelt Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. 

Singleton was never under arrest, police said, and was only considered an emotionally disturbed person when he was being transported to the hospital. 

The NYPD says it's cooperating with the district attorney's office, which is leading the investigation into the case. 

Patrick J. Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said in a statement Saturday that Singleton risked his life when he used PCP, and ultimately was responsible for his own death.

"Our members follow department protocols designed to best insure the safety of the drug abuser and of the police officers who are attempting to get the individual the necessary medical aid," he said. "The responsibility for the outcome lies entirely with the drug abuser."

The NYPD has been scrutinized more closely for its arrest tactics since the death of Staten Island man Eric Garner, who also died of a homicide after being placed in a chokehold by an officer.

In that case, the medical examiner said compression of the neck and chest, along with Garner's positioning on the ground while being restrained by police during the July 17 stop on Staten Island, caused his death. Asthma, obesity and heart disease were also contributing factors. 

The death sparked national outrage for what civilians considered excessive and brutal tactics in approaching and restraining Garner, and the Staten Island district attorney has said the case will go to a grand jury. 

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[11 Shot Overnight in Chicago]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 11:09:00 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/SHOOTINGS+LABOR+DAY+1.jpg

At least one person was killed and 10 others wounded in overnight shootings in Chicago as a long holiday weekend began.

Police said a man was killed late Friday night in the city's Back of the Yards neighborhood.

A 36-year-old man was found on the sidewalk around 10:45 p.m. in the 5400 block of South Damen Avenue with gunshot wounds to the head and thigh. He was transported to John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County where he was pronounced dead, according to authorities.

At least 10 others were wounded in shootings Friday night and into Saturday morning.

Just after 5 a.m. Saturday, a 28-year-old man was shot in the back in the 2600 block of West 65th Street. The man told police he was sitting outside when someone exited a vehicle and fired a gun in his direction.

The victim fled the scene and collapsed in the 6500 block of South Washtenaw Avenue, according to Chicago Police News Affairs Officer Amina Greer.

He was transported to Advocate Christ Medical Center in stable condition.

Around 2:45 a.m., a 47-year-old was shot while sitting in her car in the 8100 block of South Muskegon Avenue. The woman told police she "heard shots and felt pain" when she realized she had been shot in the side.

She was listed in critical condition at Stroger Hospital.

An hour earlier, a 32-year-old man was shot in the arm in the 4400 block of South Archer Avenue. The man was a passenger in a vehicle when he said he "heard shots and felt pain."

He was taken in stable condition to Holy Cross Hospital.

Around 12:30 a.m., a 34-year-old man was shot in the abdomen in the 10900 block of South Racine Avenue. The man was transported to Stroger Hospital in critical condition but was not cooperating with police, Greer said.

On Friday, a 26-year-old man was shot just after 9 p.m. in the 10000 block of South Avenue M. The man took himself to Trinity Hospital with a gunshot wound to the back and his condition was stabilized, officials said. The man was walking on the block when a red SUV pulled alongside him and occupants in the vehicle displayed gang slogans, police said. A man then exited the vehicle and opened fire at the victim.

Ten minutes earlier, a 32-year-old man was shot in the finger in the 4600 block of West Van Buren Street. The man transported himself to Loretto Hospital where he was expected to be treated and released.

Two men were shot around 8:15 p.m. in the 1800 block of South Throop Street. The men were on a sidewalk when they told police a black SUV drove by and someone inside fired shots at them. A 22-year-old man was shot in the leg and was listed in stable condition at Stroger Hospital and a 19-year-old man was shot in the leg and listed in stable condition at Mount  Sinai.

Two men were shot at 7:05 p.m. Friday in two separate shootings.

A 23-year-old man was shot in the foot in the 9100 block of South Yates Boulevard. The man said he was sitting on a porch when someone fired at him from a black SUV. The man was listed in stable condition at Trinity Hospital.

At the same time, a 28-year-old man was shot while sitting on a porch in the 0-100 block of East 101st Street. The man told police he "heard shots and felt pain" and realized he was shot in the buttocks. The man was taken in stable condition to Advocate Christ Medical Center.

<![CDATA[Kraft Recalls Some American Singles Cheese]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 11:57:36 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP091109173400.jpg

Kraft is voluntarily recalling 7,691 cases of four varieties of its regular American Singles cheese product.

The recalled products have a "Best if Used By" date of Feb. 20, 2015, and Feb. 21, 2015.

Kraft traced the recall back to one of the company's suppliers. Kraft Foods Group Inc., which is based in Northfield, Illinois, said the supplier did not store an ingredient used in the cheese product at the company's standards.

Kraft said it's unlikely but the product could spoil prematurely, and it could lead to food-borne illness. However, Kraft said no one has reported getting sick.

Kraft spokesman Russ Dyer said the company issued a nationwide recall, but he can't specifically cite a city or state that received the potentially problematic cheese.

"We can tell you that very little product was shipped, so there is a limited amount of product, if any, on shelf," Dyer said.

Kraft said you can return the cheese to the store you purchased it at for a refund. Customers can also call Kraft at 800-396-5512.

Below is a list of package codes associated with the recall.

  • 0 21000 60464 7
  • 0 21000 61526 1
  • 0 21000 61526 1
  • 0 21000 63360 9

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Convict Charged in Mom, Kid Attack]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 11:45:40 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/pedro+vargas+inset.jpg

A man convicted of kidnapping and robbery in the 1990s was arrested for allegedly posing as a livery cab driver and assaulting a mother and two of her young children before hitting the youngest with the door of his fleeing car after driving them to a Queens homeless shelter, authorities say.

Pedro Vargas, 48, faces charges of misdemeanor assault, two counts of felony assault and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child after the alleged attacks outside the shelter that sits on the site of the former Pan Am Hotel in Elmhurst, prosecutors say.

Vargas, of Yonkers, was arrested late Thursday, four days after a man claiming to be a cab driver picked up a 26-year-old mother and her three kids -- ages 1, 3, and 5 -- and said he would drive them to the shelter. The man drove them around the back of the building and started to assault the family.

The attack was captured by surveillance cameras. Footage shows the man, allegedly Vargas, hurl the 3-year-old child from the back of the cab to the sidewalk, then elbow the 5-year-old, forcing her to the ground. Prosecutors allege the man then fought with the mother as she held her 1-year-old child in her arms, and the 1-year-old fell to the sidewalk. The man allegedly then got back into his car and sped off with the front passenger door still open; the car door hit the 1-year-old as the man drove away.

The children were taken to Elmhurst Hospital with minor injuries, including bruising and swelling. Their mother wasn't hurt. 

Vargas' attorney Howard Greenberg claimed the victim tried to "proposition" his client after she refused to pay the fare.

"He just wanted to get rid of her and them," he told reporters. "Some of it might have been a bit somewhat of an overreaction but there's no injuries to the children. So what's the crime?" 

Police say Vargas was arrested 12 times between 1984 and 1994, including on kidnapping and robbery charges in Manhattan and the Bronx. He served 18 years in jail on those charges. 

Vargas admitted in court he did not have a license to operate a taxi. 

-Lori Bordonaro contributed to this report

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA["Made in America" Rapper Arrested]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 13:41:12 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/rapper+nipsey+hussle+arrested.PNG

A rapper scheduled to perform at this weekend’s "Made in America" music festival in downtown Los Angeles posted bail after he was arrested Friday night during a police raid of a clothing store in Hyde Park.

Emmias Ashghedom, known by his stage name Nipsey Hussle, was arrested at Slauson Avenue Clothing on the 3400 block of West Slauson Avenue around 11:30 p.m.

According to the LAPD, officers had arrived at the location because of a probation complaint search. The man suspected of violating probation was taken into custody, as was Nipsey Hussle.

Nipsey Hussle was booked on charges of obstructing a peace officer, LAPD Lt. Julius Guay said.

Police said the rapper posted $13,000 bail. A court date was not given.

Nipsey Hussle was still expected to perform during the second day of the "Made in America" festival in Grand Park Sunday.

"I will be at my show in Reno today and also #MadeInAmericaFestival on Sunday," he tweeted Saturday morning.

<![CDATA[Napa Wineries Open for Labor Day]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 12:23:12 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP573502597763.jpg

Napa city leaders are hoping swarms of tourists will flock to wine country for the holiday Labor Day weekend – and spend money that was lost this week after Sunday’s earthquake.

Workers at Saintsbury’s Winery - which suffered many broken bottles - spent Friday morning picking up grapes and allowed the public to be part of the process. The winery's co-founder, David Graves, said reservations this weekend are solid.

"We have had a few cancellations, but I think people realize Napa is open for business," he said.

While some of Napa is open for business, several blocks of the downtown area remain fenced off. In addition, several restaurants and shops on Main Street remain closed.

City officials on Friday said more than 1,000 structures have been tagged unsafe due to damage sustained from the 6.0-magnitude earthquake.

It has been a frustrating week for the owner of Velo Pizzeria -- building inspectors closed the restaurant on Thursday. Owner Lewis Chilton said he started the business nearly three weeks ago.

"For the last year we've been investing money in this business," Chilton said. "Our landlord has been investing money in this business."

Chilton is hopeful the restaurant will reopen soon so that he can start earning some of the money he has invested in opening the business back.

"It's a big weekend, a kick-off of the harvest of Napa Valley," he said. And it's important for our employees. It's a big weekend for them to make money too."

The city is hoping all the attention from the quake will help entice the tourists back.

Meanwhile, businesses depending on locals are suffering. A local deli said business is down 30 percent since the temblor hit and a hair salon reports a 70 percent drop this week.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Accused Nurse Showed Baby's Room]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 13:22:35 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Michael-Lutts-Folo-crop.jpg

A longtime friend of a San Diego nurse accused of molesting a 2-month-old foster child said she visited the suspect at his home before the graphic allegations came to light and he even showed her the nursery he had set up for his new baby.

Michael William Lutts, 50, a pediatric nurse working at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego, allegedly sexually abused a foster child in his care, recording the crimes on camera, according to a complaint filed by the FBI Wednesday.

He’s accused of beginning the lewd acts on Aug. 4 – the very same day he received custody of the prematurely born baby. According to graphic details in court documents, the alleged abuse included Lutts touching and manipulating the baby boy’s genitals while masturbating, among other things.

Lisa Rosenfeld and her family have known Lutts for the past 20 years.

She said Lutts once worked with her sister caring for children with autism. Rosenfeld’s father was also Lutts’ landlord, renting him an apartment for many years.

On Friday, Rosenfeld told NBC 7 she was completely shocked and disturbed by the accusations of child molestation against Lutts.

She said she had recently visited Lutts at his new home where he showed her the room he had prepared for his incoming foster child.

“I had gone to see him at his new house and he showed me the room he had all set up because he was going to adopt a baby boy,” Rosenfeld recalled. “The room was set up beautiful – all set up for a baby boy.”

Rosenfeld said Lutts mentioned he “had to do a lot of stuff to show he was a proper parent” prior to becoming a foster father.

She said she never imagined Lutts would soon be charged with the molestation of the baby boy.

“I was shocked to hear this, like, ‘Oh my God.’ Totally shocked; it’s not acceptable. Nobody should do that to a baby,” she said. “I never dreamed he would do something like that to a baby.”

Rosenfeld said she saw no signs that Lutts might commit these alleged crimes.

While he was a tenant at her father’s apartment, Rosenfeld said Lutts had no problems, always paid his rent on time and had lots of friends, all of whom were “age-appropriate.”

Given his job as a pediatric nurse and access to children, Rosenfeld said officials will have to thoroughly investigate just how far his interactions with young patients went. She also hopes investigators look at Lutts’ time working with children with autism to ensure there were no victims there.

Rosenfeld said that if Lutts is guilty of the sexual abuse, he should be in prison.

“That’s the kind of person that needs to be locked up. It doesn’t matter who it is – anybody that’s going to do harm to a baby. It’s a baby. That’s not acceptable,” she said.

“I never saw this coming. Wow. There’s nothing else you can say,” she added.

On Friday, Lutts appeared in federal court for a detention hearing with his head down, shackled at the waist. He did not speak and appeared sullen.

Through his attorney, he agreed to spend at least the next two weeks in jail without bond
Prosecutors could not comment on the case due to the ongoing investigation but did say Lutts may be indicted before his next court appearance, which is scheduled for Sept. 9.

Lutts was arrested Tuesday after the FBI raided his College Grove home. Investigators allegedly found thousands of photos and videos on his phone and computer depicting graphic sex acts with children, including his 2-month-old foster child.

According to court documents released this week, Lutts was also videotaped naked in his living room with the baby near him while he performed lewd acts on himself. Pictures show the hospital tag was still attached to the infant’s leg.

FBI agents said the newborn can be heard crying through many of the videos. The abuse happened over the course of at least five days, according to investigators.

The 2-month-old victim has since been placed in the care of Child Protective Services.

On Thursday Kaiser Permanente said Lutts had been suspended from work and would not be returning until the investigation and criminal proceedings are completed.

The medical group's spokesperson said the hospital has had no indication from law enforcement that their patients were possible vicitms but its administration is working with authorities.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Suit in Detained Immigrant's Death]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 11:36:46 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/205*120/detainee+death+healy+98.JPG

Inadequate medical care led to the untimely death in federal custody of an undocumented immigrant facing deportation, according to a lawsuit filed on behalf of his two young children.

Roberto Aguilar Bautista was able to keep his Type 2 diabetes in check until he was arrested by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in February 2013, according to relatives and attorney James Segall-Gutierrez.

While held in downtown Los Angeles in the Metropolitan Detention Center, Bautista did not receive the proper medication or treatment, and his health quickly deteriorated, Segall-Gutierrez said.

Bautista suffered kidney damage, then a heart attack, and went blind. He was later transferred to other detention facilities, and was being held in Texas at the time of his March death at the age of 38, according to the allegations in the suit filed Friday in federal District Court.

A month before his death, Bautista wrote a letter from prison pleading for help, said Segall-Gutierrez, who provided NBC4 a copy translated from Spanish.

"I find myself in this new institution in Texas and they are not giving me proper medical attention for my health problems," Bautista's letter reads in part.

The defendants named in the suit include ICE, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and President Barack Obama. None have been served yet.

Obama "was responsible for assuring that the actions, conduct, policies, procedures, and customs of the...(other) defendants...complied with the Constitution of the United States," is the suit's explanation for his inclusion in the case.

Bautista was held by ICE for the initial two weeks before the US Marshals Service took custody and transferred him to the Metropolitan Detention Center, according to ICE spokesperson Virginia Kice.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons declined to comment on the specifics of Bautista's case, but a spokesman said bureau policy calls for proper medical care of custodies with health problems.

Bautista came to the U.S. from Jalisco, Mexico, and settled in Huntington Park, according to Maria Reynoso, his sister. She said he worked for a towing company and later as a car salesman.

Records reveal that Bautista was deported in 2005 after serving two years of a sentence for assault with a deadly weapon. A year later, while attempting to cross back into the US, he was detained at the border and returned to Mexico. Later he succeeded in reaching Huntington Park.

During the past eight years, Bautista met Nancy Luna, and they started a family. Their daughters, both born in the US and therefore US citizens, are now ages 6 and 4.

Bautista had no arrests during that time. What put him back on ICE's radar, spokesperson Kice said she did not know.

Family said Bautista had contacted immigration officials about attempting to legalize his residency status, and suspects suspects that may be what led to his arrest at his home.

However, legal residency would not be possible for a deported convict, Kice said. Two weeks after his arrest, the US Attorney filed a criminal charge.

Even those who have entered the United States illegally are entitled to the civil rights guaranteed under the US Constitution, Segal-Gutierrez said. The lawsuit also alleges that in failing to care of Bautista's health, US officials and agencies violated the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which in 1848 formalized relations between the USA and Mexico.

<![CDATA[Baby Son of Navy Sailor Had 29 Bone Fractures]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 13:47:39 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/jordan+rittenhouse+child+abuse+suspect.jpg

The 2-month-old son of a U.S, Navy sailor had 29 bone fractures when he was taken to Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital and his father is being held on $500,000 bond after being charged with assaulting the baby.

Jordan Rittenhouse, 24, of Groton, was arrested after police investigated a report of possible child abuse on Tuesday and found the baby with life-threatening injuries.

Hospital officials said this is the worst case they have seen and authorities said they are surprised the baby is still alive.

While Rittenhouse initially denied hurting his baby son, born June 21 in New London, he confessed when police confronted him with the extent of the infant's injuries. He admitted to police that he squeezed his son hard enough to make him stop crying around eight times over a three- to four-week span, according to the arrest warrant application.

He also said he squeezed the baby under the armpits several times and was concerned on one occasion that he might have punctured a lung, according to court documents.

When his infant son was fussy and did not want a bottle, Rittenhouse “shoved” the bottle in his mouth, causing the baby to bleed, according to police.

He told police he was not concerned and explained it to his wife by saying the baby must have scratched himself.

But his wife took the baby to Lawrence and Memorial Hospital in New London when she was concerned he wasn't eating properly. Hospital staff transferred him to Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital.
Rittenhouse has been charged with first-degree assault and risk of injury to a minor and he is on suicide watch.

Rittenhouse, who comes from rural North Carolina, is a seaman in the U.S. Navy and a student at the Naval Submarine School at Subase New London, according to Chris Zendan, a spokesperson for the sub base. 

He enrolled in the Navy in November 2013 and reported to the school in January, Zendan said. 

Rittenhouse is not suspended from his naval duties and remains a student at the school, according to Zendan.

Sources close to the investigation said the alleged assault happened at Rittenhouse's home on Deerwood Drive, part of a Navy housing complex in Groton.

Neighbors said the allegations are shocking, but some acknowledged there may have been red flags.

"It's very eerie knowing that this neighbor lives directly next door to us. It's very concerning as a parent," said Teddy McCarty, who has three children and whose husband is in the Navy.

McCarty said Rittenhouse once aggressively yelled at his daughter when he found her playing with the water hose outside his house. Police said his daughter is 2 years old.

"We hope that the father gets the help he needs and we pray to God that the son is well and that he never has to experience this again," said electronic technician seaman Nick Callands.

Rittenhouse was originally held on $300,000 bond, but it was increased to $500,000 on Friday. Rittenhouse was ordered to have no contact with his family if he posts bail, but his public defender said he will not be able to pay it.

Photo Credit: Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Dallas Police Investigate Fetus Found at School]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 13:43:05 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Woodrow+Wilson+HS+Dallas.jpg Authorities are reviewing surveillance video at a Dallas high school after a human fetus was found inside a girls' restroom.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Philly Jesus "Baptizes" Tourist ]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 07:56:50 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/179*120/philly+jesus+baptizes+tourist+logan+circle.JPG

A tourist visiting Philadelphia for the Made in America music festival will leave the City of Brotherly Love a changed man after Philly Jesus ‘baptized’ him in LOVE Park's fountain.*

"This is not the first baptism I did at the fountain," said 28-year-old Michael Grant, who is often referred to as Philly Jesus, or PJ. "I do it everyday. ... like in a 6-hour day in LOVE Park, I probably baptize six or seven people."

Thirty-year-old Dennis Herrera, of Staten Island, New York, spotted Grant -- dressed in a white robe and staff in hand -- while passing through LOVE Park Friday afternoon on his way to the Philadelphia Museum of Art from his hotel.

“He said to jump in the water,” Herrera said. “I said, ‘Hey, when in Rome.’”

Or...Center City.

Herrera is in town for the weekend with his girlfriend and brother, who captured the encounter on video.

“He gave me a little sermon,” said Herrera, who added he introduced himself to Grant so he could snap a funny photo. “I said, ‘Hey, big groupie, can I get a selfie with you?”

Grant, a recovering drug addict, embraced Jesus in his efforts to maintain his sobriety.

He has been sober since June 4, 2013.

"I considered myself completely healed and cured when I surrendered my heart to Jesus Christ," he said.

While some may be offended by Grant's actions, he said the public "baptism" shows one's love of Jesus.

"It is you making the conscious decision as an adult," he explained. "Jesus said anyone who acknowledges me in public, I will also acknowledge before my father and the holy angels in heaven."

Grant led Herrera by the hand through the fountain before dipping his head beneath the water.

“When he dipped me back, it felt weird in a way,” Herrera said. “It felt like my body just dropped.”

The 220-pound man said Grant did not drop him, but he isn’t sure exactly how or why he fell to the water and then dashed out of the fountain.

“It looks like I really passed out, but I feel fine,” Herrera said. “When I got up on the floor, my first thought was run.”

The Staten Island man said he was baptized in a church as a child, but has not attended mass in about six months. “I’m not the best practicing Catholic,” he admitted.

Herrera -- unaware of the attention Grant has received in recent months – said he has a lot of respect for Philly Jesus after learning his story.

“After I looked at the video and saw how sincere he was with his faith,” he said. “I respected him for it."

As Herrera takes in other sites throughout the city, Philly Jesus will be in his usual spot in LOVE Park.

"Repent," Grant said. "Come to the fountain to be baptized for the forgiveness of sin in the name of Jesus Christ."

*An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the fountain's location as the Swann Memorial Fountain in Logan Circle.

Contact Alison Burdo at 610.668.5635, alison.burdo@nbcuni.com or follow @NewsBurd on Twitter.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut

<![CDATA[Secret Service: Man May Pose Threat]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 12:38:48 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/obama+westchester+aug+28.jpg

Police in Westchester and Secret Service were investigating a report of a "potentially suspicious person and vehicle" near where President Obama visited Friday for a set of fundraising events, authorities say.

An official with the Secret Service told NBC News the agency was working with local police to determine the validity of the report. 

The official did not elaborate on why the person and vehicle were considered suspicious.

Connecticut State Police were also told by Secret Service to be on the lookout for the suspicious person as Obama prepared to head to another fundraiser in Rhode Island later in the evening, a police spokesperson said. 

Obama landed in Air Force One at Westchester County Airport shortly before 2 p.m. Friday, and the presidential motorcade headed toward Sound Shore for the first fundraising site. The president then headed to Purchase later in the afternoon to attend a DNC Labor Day barbecue. 

Area streets were closed off as the president made his way through the area. He left the area at 5:30 p.m. for another fundraiser in Rhode Island. 

<![CDATA[Fetus Found at High School: Police]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 10:04:38 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/woodrow.JPG

Authorities are investigating after they say a human fetus was found in a girls restroom Friday afternoon at Woodrow Wilson High School in East Dallas.

A staff member made the discovery, officials said, and responding medical authorities determined the remains to be a human fetus.

Dallas police said surveillance video at the school is being reviewed, and they tweeted that the investigation is in the preliminary stages:

The Dallas Independent School District said parents and guardians of Woodrow Wilson students will be notified, and they encourage families to discuss the situation. Counseling support will be available to students and staff members into next week.

Officials ask that if any student knows who the fetus may belong to or has any other information that could help, they should contact Dallas police.

DISD released the following statement Friday evening:

Dallas ISD is deeply saddened by the situation that occurred today at Woodrow Wilson High School. This afternoon, responding medical authorities determined that a human fetus had been found in a girls restroom at the school. The Dallas Police Department, assisted by Dallas ISD Police, is handling the investigation.

Dallas ISD immediately dispatched staff from the district’s Psychological Services Department to the school to provide professional support for students and staff members. Additional counseling support will continue to be available next week. The district encourages any member of the Woodrow Wilson community to utilize these services.

Dallas ISD is in the process of notifying parents and guardians of Woodrow students via the school’s webpage and SchoolMessenger phone system. The district encourages parents and families to discuss the situation with their students, and when appropriate, encourage their students to meet with counseling staff at the school.

Dallas ISD will continue to provide additional support and resources to the school community during this difficult time.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[West Nile Fatality Reported in LA]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 00:44:43 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/210*120/bb82f013a5e54a7cbed54729d2487f36.jpg

A man in his 60s died in the first West Nile fatality in Los Angeles County for 2014, health officials said Friday.

The San Fernando Valley man had pre-existing health conditions and was hospitalized at the time of his death, according to a news release from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

“Although most people bitten by a mosquito are not exposed to West Nile virus, some individuals may become infected with this disease and may experience symptoms that can last for months, or even years, such as fatigue, malaise, and depression,” said Jonathan E. Fielding, the county's director of public health.

Twenty people have been infected with West Nile in LA County so far this year, including three asymptomatic blood donors, officials said.

“Residents can greatly reduce their risk of mosquito bites by following some simple precautions, such as getting rid of pools of stagnant water around their homes, and using a repellent containing DEET when outdoors in mosquito prone areas, especially around dawn or dusk,” Fielding said.

Reported cases of West Nile in 2013 was among the highest numbers since 2004. More than 160 cases, including nine fatalities, were reported  during that period.

West Nile has been detected in 139 mosquito pools, 31 dead birds and 26 sentinel chickens located all across Los Angeles County.

A woman in Orange County, who also had underlying medical conditions, died of the virus last week.

<![CDATA[Taxi Hits, Kills Woman in NYC]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 09:40:56 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/shane+kennedy.jpg

A 58-year-old woman died after being hit by a taxi SUV as she tried to cross a Manhattan street Friday afternoon, police say.

Police say the 30-year-old taxi driver was making a left turn onto East 79th Street from Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side around 2 p.m. when he hit the woman as she was crossing the street, pinning her underneath the cab.

"Everybody was screaming. We just wanted to know what happened," said Guillermo Silva, a construction worker who was working nearby. 

Silva and a group of good Samaritans, including at least six other construction workers, lifted the taxi and pulled the woman from under it, their only thought to "gotta get her outta there, gotta get her outta there," said Silva. 

One of those bystanders, Justin Havlik, said: "I took what strength I had and belted it out and lifted the car. The other two guys pushed it and we rested it on my thigh. We braced ourselved and then tossed it over." 

Witness Stephanie Knepper said: "I saw them lift up the car to bring a woman who was trapped under the car." 

Despite the good Samaritans' attempts, the woman was pronounced dead at Lenox Hill Hospital, according to police. 

Silva said he would do it all over again if there was any chance the woman could have been saved.

"We would do that for anybody. Nobody wants to see stuff like that, you know?" he said. 

It wasn't clear if the driver of the taxi was hurt, or if he will face charges. 

Photo Credit: @SeamusPK via Twitter]]>
<![CDATA[Pentagon Cuts 10 Ca. Police Depts.]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 02:41:10 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/napa+county+-+Frank+Deanrdo+-+Crown+Vic.jpg

The Napa County Sheriff's Office has been suspended from a federal military-surplus program after an M-16 military rifle was stolen out of an employee's vehicle in May, information released by the Pentagon reveals.

As a result, the agency can no longer obtain military gear from the Defense Department's 1033 Program. The department is one of two Bay Area law enforcement agencies that have been suspended from the program.

The Pentagon program distributes surplus military gear, including weapons and vehicles, to local law enforcement agencies around the nation. It's the same program responsible for outfitting the police in Ferguson, Missouri, with tactical gear such as armored trucks and assault rifles.

Napa County Undersheriff Jean Donaldson confirmed Friday that the agency was suspended on May 6 of this year. He told NBC Bay Area that the weapon was "stolen from a vehicle" but could not recall what specific model it was, saying only that it was a "military-grade" rifle.

According to The California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), the weapon in question was an M16A1, a 5.56mm assault rifle capable of semi-automatic and automatic fire. According to Department of Defense data obtained by the New York Times, Napa County law enforcement agencies received 10 5.56mm rifles in 2008.

Donaldson could not say how long the suspension will last but said the agency would have to undergo a federal inspection of its storage and safety procedures.

The Pentagon data also indicated that nine other California law enforcement agencies have been suspended, including the San Mateo County Sheriff's Department. CalOES told NBC Bay Area that each agency was suspended because it was "unable to account for some equipment acquired through the 1033 program."

According to CalOES, San Mateo County Sheriff's department could not account for two M16A1 rifles and was suspended on October 23, 2013. Calls to the Sheriff's office were not immediately returned.

All told, 148 local law enforcement agencies are currently suspended around the country as of August 25th, 2014 when the data was obtained. About 8,000 agencies participate in the program nationwide.

A "suspended" agency does not have to return previously obtained military equipment, but cannot obtain new gear until the Department of Defense considers the agency in "good standing" again. More egregious handling of military gear could result in a rare "termination," meaning the agency has to actually return the equipment. At this time, only seven agencies have been terminated.

Photo Credit: Frank Deandro / Flickr]]>
<![CDATA[Turf Replacement Rebates Available Across California]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 21:09:13 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/0714-2014-DroughtPond.jpg

Here are just some of the turf rebates available around California as water agencies try to encourage customers to replace grass with more drought-resistant plantings.
Atascadero Mutual Water Company
Turf conversion rebates of 25 cents per square foot available, up to $500 for single-family residences and up to $1,000 for multifamily residences and commercial properties. Convert existing areas of turf grass to drought‐tolerant plants, synthetic turf or permeable paving.  

Camrosa Water District

Turf removal rebates available for $2 or more per square foot removed.

City of American Canyon
Rebates of $2 per square foot of area that is replanted.

Crescenta Valley Water District

Rebates of up to $800 available for removing lawns and replacing turf grass with California native or drought-tolerant plants, mulch, synthetic turf or pervious hardscape. 

Desert Water Agency

Rebates available of $2 per square foot up to $3,000 for residential projects and $10,000 per project for commercial and public property.

Dublin San Ramon Services District

Rebates for single-family residences have been increased to a maximum $750 and for a non-residential or multi-family properties to a maximum $4,500.       

East Valley Water District

Rebates are available of up to $200, for water efficient landscaping that uses native plants, efficient irrigation systems and other landscaping elements that thrive using less water than traditional grass lawns.

El Toro Water District

Residential and small commercial customers are eligible for incentives of $2 or more per square foot of turf removed for qualifying projects.

Foothill Municipal Water District
Rebates available of up to $800 for removing lawns and replacing turf grass with California native or drought-tolerant plants, mulch, synthetic  turf, or pervious hardscape.

Irvine Ranch Water District

Rebates of $2 per square foot available for turf removal.  Synthetic turf is now eligible for funding.

Jurupa Community Services District
Rebates are available for $2 or more per square foot for turf removal. Synthetic turf is sometimes eligible.

Laguna Beach County Water District
Rebates of $3 per square foot available for turf removed for qualifying products.

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Rebates to replace turf have been doubled from $1 to $2 per square foot.

Monte Vista Water District

Rebates of $3 available per square foot of turf removed.
Moulton Niguel Water District

Rebates of $2 or more per square foot are available for turf removed for qualifying projects.
Newhall County Water District
Rebates of $2 per square foot for the removal of 500 to 2,500 square foot of living grass.

Olivenhain Community Services District

The San Diego County Water Authority’s program offers $1.50 per square foot.
Otay Water District
Rebates of $1.50 per square foot available to replace existing irrigated grass with water-wise plants.

Rancho California Water District                                                                                                               Rebates available of $2 per square foot of area that is replanted.

Santa Margarita Water District

Rebates of up to $2 per square foot available for lawn removal.

Scotts Valley Water District
Replace an irrigated lawn with low-water plants, native grass, mulch or wood chips, pervious hardscape such as gravel or stepping stones, swales, rain gardens, infiltration basins or some artificial turf for a credit of 50 cents per square foot of area of lawn replaced. 

Soquel Creek Water District

Replace existing, irrigated lawn with drought-tolerant plants or synthetic turf. Fifty percent of materials cost up to $1 per square foot.

Valley of the Moon Water District
Rebate up to 50 cents per square foot available, up to $550 for single-family homes.

Vandenberg Village Community Services District

Rebate of up to $2 per square foot available to replace turf up to a maximum of $1,000.

Western Municipal Water District
Rebates of $2 available per square foot of area that is replanted. Specific commercial customers can receive $5 per square foot to encourage landscape conversions at locations that can help lower regional water demand.

Zone 7 Water Agency
The rebate for a single-family residence has been increased to a maximum $750, and the rebate for a non-residential property or multi-family property has been increased to a maximum $4,500.    

Source: Association of California Water Agencies

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Gang Ties in Abduction, Murder Case]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 20:14:24 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Schuylkill+River+Abduction+Police+Search.JPG

Police have narrowed their search for the suspects who killed two brothers -- slitting their throats before dumping their bodies in the Schuylkill River -- and critically injured another man over a $100,000 debt.

"We'll be coming to get you shortly," said Philadelphia Police. Capt. James Clark when asked if he had a message for the five people suspected in the abduction and double homicide.

Authorities learned of the barbaric crime Wednesday morning when the surviving victim, 23-year-old Thanh Voong, climbed from the banks of the Schuylkill River and began screaming for help around 4 a.m.

Hours earlier, the abductors were holding the three men -- who have ties to gangs and are well-known to authorities -- at a home on the 2400 block of 72nd Street, according to investigators.

The suspects were holding the brothers -- both in their late 20s and originally from Vietnam -- captive after they gambled away $100,000, which they were given to buy drugs, according to reports.

Voong showed up at the house with $40,000 to pay off the debt, but it was not enough to satisfy the suspects, sources said.

Early Wednesday morning, investigators found the bodies of the two brothers submerged in the water. Their throats were slit and both were bound with tape and tied to buckets.

Investigators removed similar buckets filled with roofing materials from the home on the 2400 block of 72nd Street Thursday.

Neighbors told NBC10 a woman and five children lived in the home. But they fled in an apparent rush since food was still on the stove when police arrived, according to reports.

Authorities also towed away an Audi A8 sedan Thursday as part of the investigation. They did not disclose how the vehicle,which was found on the 22nd Street overpass above the Vine Street Expressway, was related to the crime.

Police said they know who committed the crimes, but they are still searching for the suspects.

"They have obviously means, they have a lot of money, " Clark said. "They have a lot of different locations they've lived at through the years so right now we don't know where they're at or where they're headed."

As the investigation continues, Voong is recovering from seven stab wounds at Hahnemann University Hospital.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[1 Giraffe Survives Twin Birth]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 20:13:02 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/giraffe+calf+31.jpg

Rare twin male giraffe calves were born at the San Francisco Zoo Tuesday morning, but only one survived, zoo officials said Friday.

The stronger calf weighed 100 pounds and is 5'6" tall and was "immediately healthy, alert and nursing," zoo spokesperson Abbie Tuller said. The second giraffe was described as "much smaller and weak at birth and was not able to nurse or function independently on his own," Tuller said.

Despite efforts by the zoo's medical staff, he passed away due to post-birth complications.

Twin reticulated giraffe births are an extremely rare occurrance -- the birth at San Francisco Zoo is only the tenth recorded live birth of both twins in zoos worldwide.

“This is a bitter-sweet announcement to make, but this very unique twin birth is something for all of the Bay Area to take pride in,” SF Zoo president Tanya Peterson said.

The surviving calf is yet to be named, Tuller said.

His mother is 11-year-old Bititi, who was born at the Oakland Zoo and went across the bay to call San Francisco Zoo her home in 2005. His father is 12-year-old Floyd, who was born in Albuquerque at the Rio Grande Zoo.

Bititi and her calf will be outdoors in the south corral of the Osher Family Giraffe Lodge on Friday. Keep checking the zoo's website, Facebook and Twitter for more information on the new calf.


<![CDATA[Teacher Tweets About Wanting to Stab Students]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 15:23:48 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/215*120/newark7.JPG

A teacher in California's Bay Area has been reprimanded after she reportedly tweeted that she wanted to stab some students and that her "trigger finger is itchy."

The Oakland Tribune reported Newark Memorial High School administrators disciplined teacher Krista Hodges with a written reprimand, but she remains in the classroom as the new school year begins. The tweets, which were sprinkled with obscene language, were posted before the end of the last school year, in June. The tweets have since vanished from her account.

Some parents said they found the posts insulting. One tweet allegedly insinuated that Hodges wanted to dump hot coffee on some of her students.

“I have a student here. He was expelled when he was a freshman for saying something to a teacher. They kicked him out of school. So now this is going on with this teacher, and I don’t feel it’s acceptable," parent Angela Newell said. “I feel that she should be able to receive the same punishment he did – get expelled from the district.”

Hodges told the newspaper she has apologized, saying she was only kidding, and realizes she acted unprofessionally.

The district had no comment on the issue, but one parent told NBC Bay Area on Thursday that she plans to start a campaign to get the teacher fired.

"I know the kids love her, but I think she should be fired," parent Vanessa Chavez said. "She should not work in the school -- it's not OK, it's unacceptable."

On Twitter, fittingly, Hodges appeared Thursday to be getting some support from students, including one who wrote that the "tweets were blown up into a bigger deal than what it was. Everyone vents."

Meanwhile, the Newark Police Department is taking the incident seriously and investigating.

"I think the concern is safety of everybody -- the admin, students, teacher, faculty," Cmdr. Mike Carroll said. "Concerned about everybody's safety. It doesn't matter where the threat is coming from."

NBC Bay Area's Cheryl Hurd contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Kids in Car as Parents Gambled: PD]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 18:33:30 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/082914+tyrell+johnson+josephine+laidler.jpg

Two young children were left in a car outside a South Florida casino while their parents gambled inside early Thursday, police say.

The children, ages four and one, were found in a car in the parking lot of the Hialeah Park Casino at 2200 E. 4th Ave., said Hialeah Police spokesman Carl Zogby.

The kids were spotted by casino employees in the unattended car just after midnight, Zogby said.

"The kids were subject to anything happening to them. They could've walked out of the car, or someone could've come in — who knows what could've happened," Zogby said.

He said the parents had been inside gambling, possibly for over an hour, while their children sat in the car, which had the engine running and the air conditioning on.

The parents, Tyrell Johnson and his girlfriend Josephine Laidler, were both charged with child neglect, Zogby said.

Footage showed the man and woman being detained by police at the scene and the two young children playing with officers.

Hialeah Police and the Department of Children and Families are investigating the incident.

The children were put into the custody of their grandparents by a family court judge Thursday afternoon. If the parents bond out of jail, they are not allowed to go near the kids.

The Hialeah casino also banned the couple for life.

Photo Credit: Miami-Dade Corrections]]>