<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - National & International News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/national-international http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.com en-us Mon, 30 Mar 2015 03:03:23 -0400 Mon, 30 Mar 2015 03:03:23 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Plane Crash in French Alps: By the Numbers]]> Sun, 29 Mar 2015 07:38:00 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/germanwings-crash-467413136.jpg

A Germanwings co-pilot is believed to have deliberately crashed his plane into a mountain in the French Alps on Tuesday, killing 150 people, including a woman and her mother from northern Virginia and an American man reportedly living in Barcelona.

Germanwings flight 4U 9525 was less than an hour into its route from Barcelona to Dusseldorf when co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, alone in the cockpit, locked the pilot out of the cockpit and crashed it, officials said Thursday. He apparently wanted to “destroy the plane,” a prosecutor said.

Yvonne Selke, a government contractor, and her daughter Emily, a recent Drexel University graduate, were both killed, their family said. So was Robert Oliver Calvo, a 37-year-old American man reportedly living in Barcelona, his father said.

The captain of the plane was Patrick Sonderheimer, sources confirmed to NBC News on Saturday.

Here is a brief look at the crash by the numbers.

27: The age of Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot authorities say intentionally crashed the Germanwings plane after locking the pilot out of the cockpit.

630: Number of flight hours co-pilot Lubitz had logged with Germanwings before the crash.

1: Number of crew members in the cockpit when the Germanwings jet crashed.

2: Number of crew members required in the cockpit at all times on United States airlines' flights. When one pilot uses the restroom, a flight attendant takes the pilot's place in the cockpit temporarily. Many international carriers, Lufthansa's Germanwings among them, have no such protocol.

1: Number of black boxes so far recovered. Investigators have retrieved cockpit voice recordings from it that led them to believe the co-pilot had deliberately crashed the plane.

150: Number of people aboard the jet — 144 passengers and six crew members, including Lubitz. All are dead.

3: Number of Americans on board — Yvonne and Emily Selke, and Robert Oliver Calvo.

2: Number of babies included in the passenger count.

16: Number of 10th-graders from a German high school who were on the plane, along with their two teachers.

38,000: The altitude at which the plane was cruising just before it began its descent and crashed.

8: The number of minutes the plane descended steadily before crashing.

6,550: The approximate altitude of the Alpine site where the plane crashed, near the town of Digne in the French Alps.

More than 6,000: The number of hours the plane's captain had logged on the plane.

24: The age of the plane in years.

46,700: The number of flights the plane had made before its crash.

About 58,300: The number of flight hours the aircraft accumulated since it was delivered to Lufthansa in 1991.

1953: The year an Air France plane crashed near the site of the Germanwings crash, near the town of Barcelonette, killing 49 people.

50,000: The number of euros Lufthansa will pay, as a preliminary payment, to the relatives of each deceased passenger to help cover immediate costs, a company spokesperson told NBC News. The money will not have to be paid back, Lufthansa said.

400: Number of French officers mobilized for the plane crash, according to the French National Gendarmerie.



Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[2 Dead in Philly Suburb Plane Crash]]> Sun, 29 Mar 2015 14:58:23 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/194*120/Chester+County+Plane+Crash.JPG

Two men were killed when a small plane plummeted to the ground near a suburban Philadelphia airport Sunday afternoon, police said.

The plane -- a Piper PA28-- crashed into a wooded area near Saunders Lane and Andrews Drive in West Goshen, Chester County killing both people on board around 1:45 p.m., officials confirmed.

"Shortly after taking off the plane started to sputter and then basically took a nosedive and came down in the woods," said Bob Fleming, of Goshen Fire Company.

It had taken off minutes earlier from the Brandywine Airport, which is roughly two miles from the crash site, police said. Officials said the last deadly accident out of Brandywine Airport was 10 years ago.

Witnesses on the ground suggested the plane may have lost power and then stalled before crashing and bursting into flames. 

"We couldn't see anything, just heard a big band," said Frank Kraus, a neighbor.

Kraus added he was thankful the tragedy was not any worse, considering the proximity of several homes and a large senior living housing complex to the crash site.

"Thank God for the pilot," he said. "But then the pilot and his passenger didn't make it which is sad. Sad to hear that people didn't make it."

The identities of the victims have not been released and it's unknown at this time what caused the plane to crash. Authorities confirmed at least one of the victims is a West Goshen Township resident.

Local authorities and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating. Officials with the National Transportation and Safety Board are expected to arrive Monday to aid in the investigation.



Photo Credit: SkyForce10]]>
<![CDATA[Top News Photos of the Week]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 13:53:29 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP162541567946.jpg View weekly updates on the very best photos in domestic and foreign news. ]]> <![CDATA[Coney Island Coaster Gets Stuck]]> Sun, 29 Mar 2015 17:02:17 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/032915coney.jpg

The legendary Coney Island Cyclone gave passengers a scare Sunday when it got stuck on its first public run of the season, forcing a number of riders to climb down the wooden structure on foot.

All the passengers - attending what were to have been leisurely festivities to mark the reopening of Luna Park for the season - appeared to have escaped the roller coaster unharmed. But some said the slow climb from high up on the open structure left them feeling shaken.

"It was terrifying, because I was up there and everything was spinning," Gabriella Centeno said after she reached solid ground. "I didn't know what to do."

Anna Dartany said the park staffers' assistance made climbing down possible.

"I'm scared of heights," she said, "but with their help I made it down. ... This was insane."

Angie Morris, brand manager at Luna Park, said the historic roller coaster had undergone tests over the past month ahead of Sunday's season opening. Such a problem hadn't occurred for a very long time, she said, although she declined to specify how long.

She said the Cyclone would be back up and running within a matter of hours.

Despite the less-than-summery temperatures, longtime fans had flocked to the roller coaster Sunday morning to celebrate the amusement park's reopening and to take advantage of free tickets being offered to the first 100 people who showed up to ride the wooden icon.

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<![CDATA[Music Festival Bans Selfie Sticks]]> Sun, 29 Mar 2015 22:14:49 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/181*120/Coachella2014-Sunday-Scenery.jpg

Festival goers can leave behind their selfie sticks when packing for their trips this year.

The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California is the latest in a string of festivals and venues to ban ticket holders from carrying in the popular selfie stick. 

"NO Selfie Sticks / Narsisstics [sic]," the website reads. Festival organizers did not immediately reply to a request for comment. 

Selfie sticks help large groups take selfies easier, but organizers of several large music festivals around the nation are banning the stick on their grounds. 

Earlier in the week, Lollapalooza, a summer music festival in Chicago, also had a noticable addition to its FAQ section on the website for 2015 festival goers, NBC Chicago reported: no selfie sticks.

"GoPro attachments like sticks, selfie sticks & monopods," the website clarified. Professional recording equipment, such as detachable zoom lenses and tripods, will also not be allowed into festival grounds. 

It was immediately unclear whether other large music festivals in California would institute a similar ban. HARD Fest, a popular music festival in Los Angeles, did not specifically mention selfie sticks on their prohibited items list, though they do not allow professional recording equipment such as cameras with detachable lenses, or videos cameras or GoPros. 

Other popular California music festivals, such as Outside Lands in August or County Summer in June, do not specifically mention selfie sticks. The highly anticipated San Diego festival, Kaaboo, will not allow audio or video recording equipment on festival grounds. 

ULTRA, a large music event in Miami, specified on their website that they would not allow festivals goers in Miami to bring in "professional cameras, flash cameras or video and audio recording equipment, or camera poles." Summerfest, a Milwaulkee, WI festival, did not specify whether they would allow the sticks. 

Music festivals are not the first to institute a selfie stick ban. The Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museumbanned the popular sticks in February



Photo Credit: Ryan Cowen]]>
<![CDATA[Missing Student's Sorority Search]]> Sun, 29 Mar 2015 20:25:42 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/u+of+minnesota.jpg

A University of Minnesota student and member of a sorority has gone missing, and Minneapolis police have now asked for the public's help in finding her.

Jennifer Houle, 22, was last seen around 1 a.m. Friday at the Blarney Bar in Dinkytown, a neighborhood in Minneapolis, police told NBC News. Houle’s purse was found two hours later about three blocks away from the bar.

Houle is a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority at the university. Her sorority sisters posted a message on Facebook asking for the public to join the search. "We need all the help we can get to find this warm-hearted, beautiful person." The message has been shared more than 8,000 times.

 

Our sister, Jen Houle is still missing. She was last seen in this outfit at 1am Friday March 27th in Dinkytown. We need...

Posted by Pi Beta Phi UMN on Saturday, March 28, 2015

Friends and family plan to host a prayer vigil Sunday night at Stillwater Area High School. Houle graduated from Stillwater in 2011, according to Minnesota Public Radio News.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Boston Police Officer in Surgery]]> Sun, 29 Mar 2015 19:12:14 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/John+Moynihan.jpg

A Boston police officer honored for his role in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings is in stable and improving condition after undergoing successful surgery.

Officer John T. Moynihan, 34, was critically injured Friday night during a shootout in the city's Roxbury neighborhood. He had been in a medically induced coma at Boston Medical Center since the shooting.

Boston Police Commissioner William Evans met with doctors Sunday, who told him the bullet was removed from his neck after several hours of surgery.

Moynihan is expected to get out of intensive care in the days ahead.

"I'm thankful to the doctors and medical team at Boston Medical Center for taking such good care of my officer," said Evans in a statement. "I was happy to hear that he made it through surgery without any complications, it shows you what a strong kid he is and what a great medical team they have here."

A healing service was held for Moynihan Sunday morning at St. Patrick's Church in Roxbury to coincide with the scheduled surgery. Many law enforcement officers were present to support their brother in blue.

The shootout took place after police say they tried to make a traffic stop on Humboldt Avenue around 6:40 p.m. Friday. According to authorities, the suspect, later identified as 41-year-old Angelo West, exited his vehicle and opened fire at police.

Moynihan was shot below his right eye. Police returned fire and West, who had a history with violence towards law enforcement, was killed in the shooting. A middle-aged woman was also caught in the crossfire as she drove by, suffering a flesh wound to her right arm. Evans said Friday that she was fine and in good spirits.

A decorated Iraq war veteran, Moynihan has been with the Boston Police Department since 2008, currently serving on the department's Youth Violence Strike Force. MBTA Officer Dic Donohue, who was injured in the manhunt after the Boston Marathon bombings, confirmed to necn that Moynihan helped rescue him in 2013. The following year, Moynihan received the Nation's Top Cops Award from President Barack Obama, followed by the Boston Police Medal of Honor.

Saturday, Donohue expressed his gratitude to Moynihan and sent his best wishes.

"John played a part in saving my life, and that's something I will never forget," he said in a statement to necn. "His record of service speaks for itself. Everyone is wishing him well and we know he has the strength to pull through."

Police said Friday that two suspects besides West were in custody "on unrelated matters." No further information has been available about them.



Photo Credit: Boston Police
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<![CDATA[Newborn Jaguar Cub Debuts at San Diego Zoo]]> Sun, 29 Mar 2015 14:27:42 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/JagBaby3-27-15_Med.jpg

A young jaguar cub will be the newest addition to the family at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, zoo officials said.

Mother Nindiri welcomed the cub on March 12 at 8:30 p.m. inside the jaguar den at the Harry and Grace Steele Elephant Odyssey exhibit.

Visitors looking to spot the wobbly-legged newborn can see it in the cave viewing area during Play Days, a zoo event that started Saturday.

The 18-day-old cub is the third for seven-year-old Nindiri. The sex of the cub is not yet known.



Photo Credit: Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo]]>
<![CDATA[Train Derailment Wreckage Cleared]]> Sun, 29 Mar 2015 12:05:09 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/150328-6pm-metro-train-crash_1200x675_419651651872.jpg

The wreckage from the crash in Southern California between a metro train and a car, which left one person in grave condition Saturday, has been cleared.

The collision occurred when the train hit a car that turned in front of it in Exposition Park.

In addition to the person who was reportedly near death, 20 other people were also injured.

The train operator was hospitalized in serious condition, said Shawn Lenske of the Los Angeles City Fire Department.

He was later released and was recuperating at home, according to Metro spokesman Jose Ubaldo. He identified the operator as Kenneth Goss, a 29-year Metro veteran who is in his mid-50s.

Nineteen other people, all train passengers, suffered minor injuries in the 10:50 a.m. crash and eight of them were taken to hospitals, Lenske said.

The train hit the Hyundai at a traffic signal between USC and the Museum of Natural History.

Ubaldo told City News Service the car and the train both were heading east, when the car made a left turn toward the USC gate and was hit by the electric light rail vehicle.

Witnesses said after the Hyundai made an improper turn, it became wedged between a pole and the train, which derailed, according to the Sgt. Mike Verlich of Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Left turns such as that are regulated by a left turn arrow, and there are flashing alarms for approaching trains, which get stop signals if cars are turning across the grade crossing.

After the wreck, a picture shot from a USC office building across the street, and posted on the Internet, showed a crushed car on the westbound tracks at the Watt Drive signal, and a stopped train on the tracks usually used by trains heading from Culver City to downtown Los Angeles.

The crash was next to the Exposition Park Rose Garden, about halfway between the tunnel under Figueroa Street, and Vermont Street.

Expo Line service in both directions was cut, and firefighters were warned a half hour after the crash that the train line's overhead power supply could not be immediately cut off. The train's electric arms had been retracted but firefighters were warned that low voltage batteries might still be a hazard, firefighters were told.

Buses were being used as a ``bridge'' to ferry passengers around the wreck.

Regular service on the Expo line wasn't expected to be restored until about 4:30 a.m. Sunday, Ubaldo said.

Crews will have to de-energize both tracks to replaced a damaged traffic signal pole and officials wanted to wait until spectators, many of whom relied on mass transit, left a sold out Mexico-Ecuador soccer game that was played tonight at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Ubaldo said.

The game ended about 8:30 p.m.

Crews would be working through the night to complete repairs and reopen
the line, Ubaldo said.
 

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<![CDATA[Neighbor Helps Rescue Girl, 7, From Fire]]> Sun, 29 Mar 2015 18:42:01 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/easthartfordfire.jpg

A neighbor helped rescue a young girl from a fire that ripped through an East Hartford home early Sunday morning, the fire department said.

Flames and heavy smoke were seen at the home at 86 Pendleton Drive when authorities arrived around 3:30 a.m. Sunday.

An elderly women, her adult son, her nephew and a young girl lived in the home, the fire department said. The fire started while the family was sleeping.

“It was me and her father, got the key to the front door," said neighbor Jay Arcand. "There was so much smoke we just kind of leaned in and reached around and luckily she was near the front door, and we just pulled her out.”

The girl was barely conscious and was taken to Shriners Hospital in Boston in serious condition, having suffered burns to her hands and face.

The family's two dogs were also caught in the fire. One was able to be resuscitated, while the other died in the blaze.

The cause of the fire is being investigated by the fire marshal.

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<![CDATA[NYC Building Blast Search Continues]]> Sun, 29 Mar 2015 16:09:01 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/east+village+fire+explosion.jpg

Emergency workers continued searching Saturday for at least two people still missing after an apparent gas line explosion leveled three Manhattan apartment buildings, though authorities cautioned that chances of finding survivors are slim.

Meanwhile, investigators piece together what exactly caused the blast that injured 22.

Authorities are investigating whether the gas line in a basement below a sushi restaurant was rigged in a possible gas-theft scheme, causing the leak that may have set off Thursday's fiery blast that leveled three buildings in the East Village.

"There is a possibility here that the gas line was inappropriately accessed internally by people in the building," but officials need to get access to the wreckage to explore it further, Mayor de Blasio said during a news conference Friday. He wouldn't say more about why officials believe that's a possibility.

Sources familiar with the investigation tell NBC 4 New York that in August inspectors found the gas line in the basement rigged with a rubber hose to circumvent the Con Edison gas meter. This could have saved money and perhaps allowed for gas to flow to some apartments that had not yet been cleared for service. Safety violations were registered and an immediate shut down was ordered until the problem was corrected, the sources said.

No one was charged with any wrongdoing at that time and the case was treated as a safety violation by inspectors, the sources said. Investigators now want to know if a similar gas-theft scheme was being employed again. The investigation is in its beginning stages and nothing has been ruled out, the sources said.

The contractors working on the Sushi Park restaurant did not have permits for gas work, the mayor said Friday.

The Manhattan District Attorney's office has joined the NYPD, fire marshals and building inspectors in the probe into the cause of the explosion that sparked a fire that could smolder for days in the rubble of three buildings that once occupied Second Avenue and E. 7th Street.

About 60 firefighters were still working to put out hot spots on Saturday, and rescue workers with K9 units were on the scene searching for the two missing people. Earlier, Con Ed shut off gas to 187 residential customers and 32 commercial customers in the area while the search and recovery work continued.

Residents of three nearby buildings were still barred from entering, but about 40 apartments in five other buildings were reopened to residents as of Saturday. Some 20 apartments in those buildings were to remain closed until damage could be repaired. Officers were escorting residents into buildings when possible to help them retrieve pets and personal belongings, officials said.

On the day of the explosion, inspectors with Con Ed had been to the East Village building to check on ongoing work to upgrade gas service. The utility said the work didn't pass inspection, so gas wasn't introduced to the line, and inspectors gave instructions and left at around 2:45 p.m. Inspectors didn't smell any gas, Con Ed said.

But at around 3 p.m., the sushi restaurant owner smelled gas and called the landlord, who then called a general contractor, Boyce said. No one called 911 or Con Ed, however, de Blasio said.

The contractor, Dilber Kukic, and the owner's son went into the basement and opened a door, and then the explosion happened, burning their faces, NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said.

"The whole area was shaking," said Moishe Perl, who works next door. "We couldn't imagine what was going on."

The building had an existing gas line intended to serve the sushi restaurant; the work underway was to put in a bigger line to serve the entire building, Con Ed President Craig Ivey said. As for whether the apartments were getting gas from the existing line, "That's a great question," he said.

"We'll have to find out, through the investigation, what's going on there," he said.

Con Edison later added in a statement: "As we do in all cases when a customer is upgrading to a new gas service, we conducted careful inspections at 121 2nd Avenue. Our records show the work of the building's plumber failed two inspections, including the inspection our personnel conducted yesterday afternoon. At no time was use of the new service line authorized by Con Edison. That service was locked to ensure that it would not be used. The ground-floor restaurant was being served by its current, smaller gas service line."

Calls to the building owner were unanswered. The owner's son reached by phone in his hospital room declined to comment. The listed contractor did not return messages. A subcontractor hired to handle gas lines did not return calls for comment.

City records show the contractor, Dilber Kukic, got a permit last June for plumbing, flooring, removing partition walls and other work at the building.

Kukic had tried to help people escape the explosion and had been helpful to authorities, Boyce said.

The contractor -- who's facing unrelated charges of bribing an undercover investigator posing as a housing inspector -- was injured in the blast and declined through his lawyer to comment on the circumstances surrounding the explosion.

Kukic is a relatively minor player in a 50-person bribery case that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. and other authorities unveiled last month. They said city inspectors, landlords and contractors formed a network of graft that exchanged $450,000 in payoffs to get safety violations dismissed, procure phony eviction orders and get fast, favorable and sometimes nonexistent inspections.

Kukic is accused of paying $600 in cash to try to get housing violations dismissed at two upper Manhattan properties he owned. He has pleaded not guilty.

Twenty-two people were injured in the blast, four critically, city officials said Friday. Among the injured were six firefighters. Patients with non-life threatening injuries were continuing to be treated and released from local hospitals.

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<![CDATA[10 in Hospital, SoCal Train Crash]]> Sun, 29 Mar 2015 03:37:53 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/03-28-15+Train+Crash+LA+Times+Photo+%284%29.JPG

A University of Southern California film student was hospitalized in "grave" condition after the car he was riding in was crushed by a Metro train near the school’s campus Saturday, officials said. Nine people aboard the commuter train were also taken to hospitals after the crash, including the train operator.

The collision was reported just before 11 a.m. near the intersection of Exposition Boulevard and Vermont Avenue, officials with the Los Angeles Fire Department said.

Investigators say the 31-year-old driver, who has not been identified, may have made an "improper turn" to his left, crossed the tracks and collided  with the train, said Sgt. Michael Verlich of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

The car became wedged between the train and a pole, causing the train to come off the tracks and trapping the driver inside the mangled vehicle.

"It was just like a big, loud crash of metal," said USC freshman Johnny Stevens, who saw the aftermath from his dorm room. "It was huge so we knew it wasn't just a car crash. We figured something big happened, so we looked out our window and we saw half of a car smashed into the rail."

In all, 21 people received medical attention, LAFD Assistant Chief Don Frazeur said. 

The driver, who is also a military veteran, was taken to the hospital in "grave" condition after being rescued from the crumpled Hyundai Sonata.

The train operator, identified as Kenneth Goss, was recovering at home with his family after being treated at the hospital for injuries that were described as "serious." He has worked for Metro for 29 years, said Metro spokesman Jose Ubaldo.

Eight others were taken to the hospital to be treated for minor injuries. Several others were treated at the scene.

LAFD officials initially said two cars had been involved in the crash with the train, but later changed that number to one.

About 100 passengers were on the train at the time of the wreck, Ubaldo said.

The crash interrupted additional Metro train service for a crowd of 80,000 at the Mexico versus Ecuador soccer match at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Metro officials warned commuters to expect major delays on the Expo Line. Bus shuttles were requested between Jefferson Boulevard and Vermont Avenue. The line was expected to reopen by midnight, said Metro spokesman Jose Ubaldo.

NBC4's Irene Moore contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times]]>
<![CDATA[7 Shot at Spring Break Party: Cops]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 15:23:28 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/panama+city+mug+032815.jpg

A spring break party in Panama City Beach, Florida, turned violent early Saturday morning after police said seven people, including students, were shot.

Gunshots rang out at the house party around 1 a.m., according to NBC affiliate WJHG. Bay County Sheriff spokeswoman Ruth Curley told NBC News that some of the victims are students at Alabama A&M University who were visiting the area for spring break.

Officials said 22-year-old David Jamichael Daniels of Mobile, Alabama, was arrested after police set up a perimeter. Daniels is being held at the Bay County Jail on seven counts of attempted murder.

Curley said police recovered a .40-caliber handgun in the backyard of a nearby home.

Deputies responding to the scene found three victims shot in the street, one outside the house, and three others inside.

Police identified the victims who were visting from Mobile, Alabama, as 20-year-old Kearria Freed; 22-year-old Henton Franklin; and 22-year-old Tykeria Ethridge. Freed was shot in the head and remains in critical condition, Curley said, while Franklin was shot in the side and Ethridge was shot in the neck and shoulder.

Police identified the remaining victims as 21-year-old Devanta Moore, who was shot in the chest; 20-year-old Anesia Powell, who was shot in the left arm, chest, and knee; 22-year-old Jacole Young, who was shot in the back; and 21-year-old Kelli Curry, who was shot in the leg.

All of the victims were transported to area hospitals. Freed, Franklin and Moore are in critical condition, Curley said, while the others remain in stable condition.



Photo Credit: Bay County Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Officer Driving Police Cruiser While Intoxicated: Police]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 23:54:16 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/WEB+darryl+cathey+police+officer+dui.jpg

A Philadelphia Police officer was charged with driving under the influence after another officer watched him driving a marked police vehicle with flat tires and smelled alcohol on his breath early Saturday, said Lt. John Stanford.

The 12th District officer, identified as 26-year-old Darryl Cathey, pulled up to 6500 block of Woodland Avenue, just after midnight in southwest Philadelphia in a marked police cruiser with three flat tires and bent rims, said Stanford.

A sergeant from the district was at the location and saw the car's damage and smelled alcohol on the man's breath.

Cathey also indicated he did not know his tires were flat and he was driving the police cruiser on the rims, authorities said. He also had bloodshot eyes, police said.

This isn't the first time the 6-year department veteran has faced charges. In November 2011, Cathey was arrested for allegedly assaulting his ex-girlfriend. He was fired that same year, but got his job back in 2013 through arbitration.

Cathey struggled with the sergeant and other officers early Saturday morning while being taken into custody. He was charged with DUI and is being investigated by accident division and internal affairs, according to Stanford. He is expected to be charged with aggravated and simple assault and reckless endangerment in addition to the DUI charge.

"The department takes these type of incidents seriously and behavior that doesn't conform with department policy will not be tolerated," said Lt. Stanford. "The appropriate action will be taken against this officer as soon as all charges are filed."

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey will suspend Cathey for 30 days with intent to dismiss. 

Bail has been set at $5,000. Cathey is scheduled to appear in court April 13.

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<![CDATA[New Jersey Girl Meets President ]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 23:05:48 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/181*120/obama+atlantic+city+girl+meet.JPG

A New Jersey girl had a once in a lifetime thrill this week when she went to the White House to meet President Barack Obama and even had a chance to sit in his chair in the Oval Office.

"I'm trying to be a community organizer," Sparkle Prevard, of Atlantic City, told Obama.

Prevard visited Washington D.C. with several other young women who were all named Youth of the Year winners.

The South Jersey teen, who graduated from Atlantic City High School, plans to attend Richard Stockton State College in the fall, according to the Boys &  Girls Club in New Jersey's website.

Catch their meeting in the West Wing Week: 3/20/2015 video below.

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<![CDATA[Boston Police Officer, Suspect Shot]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 21:46:39 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/John+Moynihan.jpg

A Boston Police officer honored for his role in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings is listed in critical condition after he was shot in the face following a traffic stop in the city's Roxbury neighborhood Friday evening, police said.

Officer John T. Moynihan, a 34-year-old who has been with the department since 2008, was transported to Boston Medical Center. Moynihan is listed in critical condition and remains sedated; however a senior Boston Police source said Saturday morning that he "had a good night" and is expected to survive and recover, NBC reported.

The 41-year-old suspect, identified as Angelo West, was killed in the shooting on Humboldt Avenue after police returned fire. Boston Police and the Suffolk District Attorney's Office have launched a thorough investigation and will determine if police were justified in the shooting death.

West was arrested in 2001 in another police-involved shooting.

Police say two other suspects that were in the vehicle are in custody "on unrelated matters."

"One of the occupants of the pulled over motor vehicle came out, he turned, he fired, he shot one of our officers under the right eye," Boston Police Commissioner William Evans told reporters Friday.

Moynihan is a decorated military veteran and active in the department's Youth Violence Strike Force, and a decorated veteran who served as a U.S. Army ranger in the Iraq War from 2005 until 2008, the year he joined the Boston Police Department.

MBTA officer Dic Donohue, who was injured in the manhunt after Boston Marathon bombings, confirms to necn that Moynihan helped rescue him back in 2013. The following year, Moynihan received the Nation's Top Cops Award from President Barack Obama, honoring him for his "heroic and relentless" response in Watertown. Also in 2014, he received the Boston Police Medal of Honor.

"Last night was a tough night and it hit home when we found out who the injured officer was. John played a part in saving my life, and that's something I will never forget," Donohue told necn in a statement Saturday. "His record of service speaks for itself. Everyone is wishing him well and we know he has the strength to pull through."

"The doctors are working hard on him," said Evans, who added that Moynihan is fighting for his life. "All our prayers are going out for him. I just ask for everyone's support in helping him pull through.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the officer injured tonight, his family and friends and the entire Boston Police Department during this difficult time," said Mayor Marty Walsh in a statement. "These acts of violence have no place in our neighborhoods. Our community is stronger than ever, and tonight, we are thankful for all of those who put their lives on the line every day to protect our city."

A middle-aged woman who was caught in the crossfire as she drove by suffered a flesh wound to her right arm.

"She's fine," said Evans, who went to visit her. "She's in good spirits, thank God."

Evans added that three officers were taken to Brigham and Women's Hospital for stress.

Mayor Marty Walsh released a statement on the incident Saturday: 

"My thoughts and prayers continue to be with Officer John Moynihan, his family, friends, the innocent person caught in the crossfire, and the entire community impacted by Friday night's violence. I have spoken with Officer Moynihan's family and Commissioner Evans and I am hopeful that under the experienced and talented team at Boston Medical Center the Officer will continue on a strong path to recovery. It is clear that Officer Moynihan is a hero for our city, and the entire nation, and today we are thankful for all of those who put their lives on the line every day to protect us."

Anyone with information is asked to call 1 (800) 494-TIPS.



Photo Credit: Boston Police
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<![CDATA[Teen Stabbed Mom to Death: Police]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 21:59:12 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Philadelphia+Ambulance+Generic+Medic+15.JPG

A teen, who neighbors say suffered years of abuse, killed his mother and put his grandmother in the hospital in a stabbing attack in their feces-covered Pennsylvanian home Friday, police said.

Police charged 19-year-old Zachary Pritchett of Bridesburg with murder, criminal homicide, aggravated assault and related offenses.

Neighbors on the 2800 block of Reynolds Street-- many who claim they often heard yelling coming from the home -- heard screams Friday morning and called police.

Pritchett directed responding officers to the second floor where they found 53-year-old Melizza Wiley dead from multiple stab wounds to her face, neck and upper torso, according to officials.

The teen's 73-year-old grandmother, who was in a hospital-type bed in the first floor living room, had also been stabbed in the face, neck and upper torso. Medics rushed her to Aria Torresdale Hospital, where she remains in critical, but stable condition, officials said.

Investigators told NBC10 police have visited the home several times in the past. Several others who live on the block claimed they called police and the Department of Human Services, because they were concerned for the teen's welfare.

"I called DHS many times," said Kelly McGrath, a neighbor. "I know other neighbors who have called. I also called the school board to inquire about his homeschooling."

The home reportedly did not have running water and the gas was shut off.

"He wasn't born with outward signs of problems, physical or mental or developmental," said McGrath, who recalled one instance when Pritchett, as a young boy, was "playing" with another child.

"Zach stood and looked out the front storm door and the other kid would play with his cars. And Zach just watched him and that's how he played," she said. "We all said something bad is going to happen."

Pritchett rarely left the home, according to multiple neighbors.

The teen had lacerations on his hand from the incident and was treated at Aria Torresdale Hospital and released.  When officers first arrived at the home, Pritchett told them three unknown men entered the house and attacked the family, investigators said.

Many in the community have said they hope authorities consider the years of alleged abuse Pritchett suffered in their investigation.

"The ones of us who knew what was happening," McGrath said, "are all in support of him getting some sort of help rather than incarceration."



Photo Credit: NBC10]]>
<![CDATA[Restaurant Catches Yelper in Lie]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 18:09:38 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/WONDERFUL.JPG

A Chinese restaurant in Millbrae got a bad review on Yelp, and the restaurant owner's son fought back with surveillance video, proving the "reviewer" had only been inside the bustling eatery for 22 seconds.

 Yelp member named "Dan W." from San Bruno wrote that the restaurant, named Millbrae's wonderful (lower case w), would not seat him on March 18 and awarded the restaurant one star - the lowest review possible. The review, since removed by Yelp, said, "It's not that classy of a place, but they wouldn't seat me."

But the restaurant owner's son, You You Xue, who is studying abroad in England but still manages the finances and website, didn't believe it. And he set out to prove that the reviewer was wrong. "People think that business owners are not adversely affected," he told NBC Bay Area by Skype on Thursday evening. "But we are, both personally and professionally."

So he carefully pored over the restaurant surveillance video, and tracked Dan W. down based on what he said he wore and the time he entered the restaurant. Xue said he wanted to watch the video to see if Dan W.'s claims were true, and revise any policies, if need be.

Instead, the video he posted on the restaurant's website showed that the man in question entered the front door, lingering for just less than 30 seconds, talking to no one, and leaving. "I realized none of what he said was true," Xue said.

So, he posted a response to Dan W. on the restaurant's website with additional video footage showing the customer didn't even sign the waiting list at the door. It concludes with a stern warning: "You are prohibited from returning to wonderful. If we catch you, you will be arrested for trespassing."

The story was first reported on Ratter.com and has since been covered by dozens of news outlets from Oklahoma to London.

Restaurant owner Junsong Xue, doesn't share his son's feelings toward Dan W. He said he'd love to have Dan W. back. "I don't care about a star," he said. "I care about how they feel about my restaurant."

His son added: "I personally wouldn't do this, but my father said if he does return, we will give him a free meal, a free drink and a warm handshake."

Yelp confirmed that Dan W. has since removed his account.

NBC Bay Area's Tamara Palmer, Eric Rich and Lisa Fernandez contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Yelp]]>
<![CDATA[Girl Sneaks Out of Home for Slushie]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 16:49:25 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/216*120/SEPTA+4-year-old+girl.JPG

The little girl found soaking wet and alone at an intersection in Philadelphia’s Tacony section overnight Thursday just wanted a frozen drink from a nearby convenience store, according to the SEPTA bus driver who called authorities to report the unusual find.

Route 56 bus driver Harlan Jenifer called SEPTA’s control center around 3 a.m. after a man brought the 4-year-old girl onto the bus and told him she was standing alone on the corner of Torresdale and Magee Avenues, according to police.

"He had to question me twice, 'Like, what?'" said Jenifer. "He was shocked, too, at what was going on."

The girl told the driver and passengers on the bus that she dressed herself, unlocked the door to her home and ventured out because she wanted a slushie from a nearby 7-Eleven, said Jenifer.

The little girl roamed the parked bus and talked to other passengers until officers arrived.

"In this day and age, with all the stuff going on, someone could have picked her up... It was really scary to see her out there at that time of night by herself," said Jenifer.

The girl was taken to St. Christopher's Hospital for Children for evaluation where she was reunited with her mother, police said.

No charges have been filed.

]]>
<![CDATA[Residents Rebuild After NYC Blast]]> Sun, 29 Mar 2015 20:31:43 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/467637062_FireNY.jpg

Some of them had only moments to get out. The residents of the area surrounding the East Village explosion that destroyed three buildings this week ran for their lives. Now they're working to pick up the pieces.

Chelsea Blampied, who lived in one of the leveled buildings, said she'd stopped home to get a work file from her third-floor apartment when she heard and felt the blast.

"I thought a plane crashed into my building. Glass was blown everywhere, and it was just so surreal," she said.

"I just heard a really loud boom," recounted neighbor Justine Miller. "I could feel it in my chest."

Neighbor Troy Hinson was walking to the sushi restaurant when it "literally blew up in front of my face," and said "it really felt like my internal organs were reverberating. It just feels like everything was shaking, including my teeth."

"You just don't know what hit you, it just feels like a sonic boom, there's no real other way to describe it," he said.

Blampied left behind all her belongings and ran through smoke and debris down the stairs to safety as her building began to crumble. She's now staying with friends and is grateful she made it out alive.

"It's so overwhelming. Everyone lost everything," she said.

Blampied was among more than 125 people displaced at least temporarily by the blast. Aside from the three buildings leveled by the explosion, eight more were ordered vacated. As of Saturday, five of those had been partially reopened, and NYPD officers were allowing some other residents to return briefly to their apartments to grab pets and personal items.

At the time of the explosion, Gregory Dohdanowycz was in his top-floor apartment in the building next to where the blast happened.

"I look out the window, and I see two buildings south of me, there's smoke rising from the windows and their roof windows," he said.

He only had time to grab his dog before running outside, and was overwhelmed by the horrific sights and sounds when he got outside.

Neighbor Miller said: "There was blood on the ground. There were people laying up against buildings and other people trying to help them."

Actress Drea de Matteo is among the residents who lost her home and belongings in the explosion. She took to Instagram Thursday to share two dramatic photos of firefighters battling smoke and flames. "A hole where my NYC home of the last 22 years once stood," she wrote in one caption. "RIP 123 2nd Avenue." The photos appeared to be taken from a rooftop across the street.

Naya Jones, who spent the night at the YMCA after being told to leave her building near the blast site, went to the Tompkins Square Library Friday, where the Red Cross and other relief groups were offering financial assistance, food, vouchers and advocacy help.

The Red Cross said it has helped more than 120 people since the blast and gave housing assistance to dozens. The Standard Hotel is giving anyone displaced by the blaze three free nights of lodging. Sprint has also donated 25 cellphones.

The ASPCA is also providing pet supplies for owners in the affected area.

"It's a small community," said Bohdanowycz. "I think everyone is trying to help out when something bad happens."

Hinson, who's lived in the neighborhood four years, said, "I love the sense of community, and everybody comes together and helps each other out and is here for each other."

Several long-standing businesses were also affected by the destruction. Pommes Frites, a favorite spot for fries, was destroyed by the blast, and the nearby Orpheum Theater had to cancel performances of the off-Broadway production of "Stomp."

Robert Seniuk, the chef at Stage restaurant across the street, is determined to get back to work.

"We open, we don't give up. This city is 24 hours," he said.

Nevertheless, the frightening explosion has taken a toll on the psyche of New Yorkers everywhere.

"Yesterday was a very scary day. Now all I can do is think about the people who lost their homes and people who've been living here for decades," said neighbor Adam Mashaal.

Hinson said he had stopped on the corner to say goodbye to his friend just before the sushi restaurant exploded.

"The fact that I was literally - if I didn't stop and talk to my friend, I would possibly be in that building," he said. "That's kind of what's messing me up. ... All these crazy thoughts are going through your head after this happens, like, why me? Why am I safe, why is something again happening to me? It's just crazy. I'm having just a hard time processing it."

Health officials say the air quality in the area has returned to normal levels and that short-term exposure to elevated particulate levels Thursday didn't pose a significant risk to the public. They say the smoke odor may linger, but isn't harmful. Still, those with respiratory or heart problems should remain extra vigilant.

The explosion came a week after the one-year anniversary of the East Harlem explosion that leveled two buildings and killed eight people. The blast also injured dozens of people and left many homeless for months.

Since the 2014 explosion, the FDNY has been given a much greater role in responding to reports of possible gas leaks and New Yorkers are now encouraged to call 911 about gas leaks and odors rather than 311.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Day Care Owner Charged With Shaking Baby: PD]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 08:02:08 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/mug+Valentin.Ana.jpg

A day care owner in Maryland who claims she resuscitated a 9-month-old baby has been charged with shaking the girl, according to Montgomery County Police.

Ana Isabel Valentin, 40, has been charged with first and second degree child abuse.

According to police, the baby was dropped off at Valentin's Rockville home on Jan. 5, 2015. That afternoon, Valentin called 911 to report that the baby girl wasn't breathing.

She later told police that she left the girl crying in a swing while she answered a knock at the door. When she returned a few minutes later, she found that the baby unresponsive and not breathing. She started CPR and called 911. During this time, she said the little girl started to breathe again.

Valentin told police that the baby had a "regular, normal day," but doctors at Children's Hospital determined that the child had been shaken.

The baby suffered bleeding above two halves of her brain and was not breathing for a unknown amount of time, a Children's Hospital doctor said. There were also no sign of any injuries prior to Jan. 5.

A little over a week after the incident, doctors were not able to get any visual response from the child. According to the hospital, the girl "is on the moderate to severe end of the spectrum for Shaken Baby Syndrome." The infant has also suffered multiple seizures.

Rene Sandler, Valentin's attorney, says her client denies the allegations against her. Valentin's day care is currently closed, but Sandler says Valentin intends to re-open as soon as the charges against her have been resolved.

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<![CDATA[Cops Chase "Support Police" Car]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 02:44:50 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/237*120/we+support+our+local+police+dept.jpg

The driver of a vehicle with a message on its rear window that read "We Support Our Local Police Dept" drove the wrong way in traffic and slammed into shopping carts in a parking lot before surrendering to authorities in Anaheim.

Police pursued the stolen car on Orange County freeways and city streets Friday afternoon near Disneyland, officials said. The pursuit began in Buena Park, said the California Highway Patrol.

The Toyota Corolla was rammed by a police car in a shopping center's parking lot, but evaded immediate capture. The vehicle slammed through shopping carts before exiting back onto the street.

After racing through red traffic lights and making a U-turn around a street median, the driver and passengers surrendered in the middle of a street just after 1 p.m.



Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[ Woman Defrauded Bombing Fund: DA]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 13:40:44 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Boston_Marathon_Explosion.jpg

A woman who claimed to be a victim of the Boston Marathon bombings has been indicted for fraudulently obtaining almost $40,000 and is expected to be arraigned on Monday.

Forty-one-year-old Joanna Leigh of Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood is accused of taking money from several sources after lying about being injured in the attack.

Prosecutors say Leigh was at the marathon, but that she did not seek medical treatment or claim to have suffered from any injuries until about two weeks after the bombings, when she allegedly said she acted as a "hero" and ran toward the second of the two blasts.

According to the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, Leigh received more than $18,000 from the Massachusetts Victims of Violent Crime Compensation Fund, took an $8,000 payment from One Fund Boston, received more than $9,000 from an online fundraiser and took $1,7000 when a middle school in Mattapan raised money for her.

Leigh personally accepted a check from the school at a ceremony, according to prosecutors.

The suspect faces five counts of larceny by false pretense and a charge of filing a false claim to a government agency.

]]>
<![CDATA[Man Cleared in Double Murder After 3 Years in Jail]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 23:32:00 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/032715+david+foster.jpg

A man who spent nearly three years behind bars while charged in a Miami-Dade double murder is a free man.

"I still got emotions, I broke down in tears," said David Foster, about the moment last week that he found out he'd be released. "I was incarcerated for quite some time. It'll take me time to understand I'm free, 'cause I was in there a while, but I'm doing ok."

Foster, 35, was arrested in July 2012 in the May 2012 shooting outside the Shack night club on Dixie Highway. Two men were indicted for murder: Periquo Taylor, who fled to the Bahamas, and Foster.

"I was trying to be a peacemaker and I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I also tried to prevent those actions from taking place," Foster said.

The family of one of the victims told police Foster had a handgun that night, and that claim led to his arrest. It took two years and an expert witness to prove a handgun was not used in the killings for prosecutors to drop the charges.

"I think once the state attorney's office took that into consideration, plus other info we provided, they reconsidered the strength of their case and did the right thing," attorney Jonathan Jordan said.

"This case never should've been filed in the first place," attorney Andrew Rier said.

Foster's last three years in custody have been a big mistake, one Foster is trying to forgive. He missed out on watching his young daughter grow from one year old to four, and helping his mother fight colon cancer.

"Before I got incarcerated, I was paying my bills, had a nice apartment, I had a car and I got locked up and everything vanished," Foster said. "Now I'm out, free, and I don't have anything, now I have to start from scratch all over again."

Foster was released on March 19. His murder trial was set to begin Monday, where he faced two life sentences.

Now authorities are trying to catch up with Taylor, the man they say committed the double murder using an AK-47.



Photo Credit: NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[Vigils Held for Slain Calif. Cop]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 07:39:40 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/0327-2015-SJPD-vigil.jpg

The man who authorities said killed a San Jose police officer suffered from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, depression and alcoholism, according to his niece, Amber Golart.

Scott Dunham died from a gunshot wound suffered from a shootout with police late Tuesday that left veteran Officer Michael Johnson dead.

Golart attended a memorial for Johnson held late Friday on Senter Road. More than 100 people showed up to the vigil held near the scene of the fatal shooting.

"We are sorry for the loss of the officer. This is a tragic accident," Golart said. "No one meant for this to take place. But as a family, we feel like we're caught in the middle. We're mourning for the officer, but we're mourning for our uncle."

Golart added the last few days have been also hard for the Dunham family, especially knowing it was a loved one who took an officer's life. Dunham's family is calling Tuesday's incident suicide by cop.

Another memorial for Johnson was held Friday night in the courtyard at San Jose City Hall and was hosted by Star of David Ministries and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association.

“We have suffered a very devastating loss to our community, and we need to show officer Johnson’s family and the SJPD that we support them, “ said Kathleen Flynn, president of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Association.

A formal memorial service for Johnson will be held April 2 at 11 a.m. at the SAP Center at San Jose

In addition, Owen Nolan, a former San Jose Shark who is a part owner of the Brittania Arms, is hosting a fundraiser April 2 at the restaurant, located at 5027 Almaden Expressway.

Also, the San Jose Police Officers’ Association is helping raise fund to provide financial assistance to his family.

The 38-year-old Johnson was killed on Tuesday when he arrived at an apartment building after a caller told 911 that Dunham was drunk and despondent and was threatening to harm his wife. When Johnson arrived, Dunham killed him from his balcony with a high-powered rifle.

Dunham's body was found Wednesday morning on the balcony. He had died of a gunshot wound, police said.

Checks can be mailed payable to the SJPOACF at: 1151 N. 4th St., San Jose, CA 95112 or online.

Lisa Fernandez contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Gas Line Eyed in Explosion: Sources]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 12:09:17 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/The_Last_View.jpg

Authorities are investigating whether the gas line in a basement below a sushi restaurant was rigged in a possible gas-theft scheme, causing the leak that may have set off Thursday's fiery explosion in the East Village. Two dozen people were injured and two still are missing after the blast that leveled three buildings.

"There is a possibility here that the gas line was inappropriately accessed internally by people in the building," but officials need to get access to the wreckage to explore it further, Mayor de Blasio said during a press conference Friday. He wouldn't say more about why officials believe that's a possibility.

Sources familiar with the investigation tell NBC 4 New York that in August inspectors found the gas line in the basement rigged with a rubber hose to circumvent the Con Edison gas meter. This could have saved money and perhaps allowed for gas to flow to some apartments that had not yet been cleared for service. Safety violations were registered and an immediate shut down was ordered until the problem was corrected, the sources said.

No one was charged with any wrongdoing at that time and the case was treated as a safety violation by inspectors, the sources said.  Investigators now want to know if a similar gas-theft scheme was being employed again. The investigation is in its beginning stages and nothing has been ruled out, the sources said. 

The contractors working on the Sushi Park restaurant did not have permits for gas work, the mayor said Friday.

The Manhattan District Attorney's office has joined the NYPD, fire marshals and building inspectors in the probe into the cause of the explosion that sparked a fire that could smolder for days in the rubble of three buildings that once occupied Second Avenue and E. 7th Street.

Firefighters were still working to put out hot spots Friday, Chopper 4 video over the scene shows, and rescue workers with K9 units were on the scene searching for the two missing people. Con Ed has shut off gas to 187 residential customers and 32 commercial customers in the area as the FDNY continues its recovery work. 

Inspectors with Con Ed had been to the East Village building to check on ongoing work to upgrade gas service. The utility said the work didn't pass inspection, so gas wasn't introduced to the line, and inspectors gave instructions and left at around 2:45 p.m. Con Ed said inspectors didn't smell any gas.

But at around 3 p.m., the sushi restaurant owner smelled gas and called the landlord, who then called a general contractor, Boyce said. No one called 911 or Con Ed, however, de Blasio said.

The contractor, Dilber Kukic, and the owner's son went into the basement and opened a door, and then the explosion happened, burning their faces, NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said.

"The whole area was shaking," said Moishe Perl, who works next door. "We couldn't imagine what was going on." 

The building had an existing gas line intended to serve the sushi restaurant; the work underway was to put in a bigger line to serve the entire building, Con Ed President Craig Ivey said. As for whether the apartments were getting gas from the existing line, "That's a great question," he said.

"We'll have to find out, through the investigation, what's going on there," he said.

Con Edison later added in a statement: "As we do in all cases when a customer is upgrading to a new gas service, we conducted careful inspections at 121 2nd Avenue. Our records show the work of the building's plumber failed two inspections, including the inspection our personnel conducted yesterday afternoon. At no time was use of the new service line authorized by Con Edison. That service was locked to ensure that it would not be used. The ground-floor restaurant was being served by its current, smaller gas service line."

Calls to the building owner were unanswered. The owner's son reached by phone in his hospital room declined to comment. The listed contractor did not return messages. A subcontractor hired to handle gas lines did not return calls for comment. 

City records show the contractor, Dilber Kukic, got a permit last June for plumbing, flooring, removing partition walls and other work at the building.

Kukic had tried to help people escape the explosion and had been helpful to authorities, Boyce said.

The contractor -- who's facing unrelated charges of bribing an undercover investigator posing as a housing inspector -- was injured in the blast declined through his lawyer to comment on the circumstances surrounding the explosion.

Kukic is a relatively minor player in a 50-person bribery case that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. and other authorities unveiled last month. They said city inspectors, landlords and contractors formed a network of graft that exchanged $450,000 in payoffs to get safety violations dismissed, procure phony eviction orders and get fast, favorable and sometimes nonexistent inspections.

Kukic is accused of paying $600 in cash to try to get housing violations dismissed at two upper Manhattan properties he owned. He has pleaded not guilty. 

Twenty-two people were injured in the blast, four critically, city officials said Friday. Among the injured were six firefighters. Patients with non-life threatening injuries were continuing to be treated and released from local hospitals.

Meanwhile, businesses and residents who occupied the three buildings that were destroyed are trying to pick up the pieces. Dozens of people and businesses were displaced at least temporarily by the blast. Eleven buildings were evacuated following the explosion, though NYPD officers allowed some residents to return briefly to their apartments Friday to grab a few items. 

Chelsea Blampied, who lived in one of the leveled buildings, said she'd stopped home to get a work file from her third-floor apartment when she heard and felt the blast. 

"I thought a plane crashed into my building. Glass was blown everywhere, and it was just so surreal," she said. 

"I just heard a really loud boom," recounted neighbor Justine Miller. "I could feel it in my chest." 

Neighbor Troy Hinson was walking to the sushi restaurant when it "literally blew up in front of my face," and said "it really felt like my internal organs were reverberating. It just feels like everything was shaking, including my teeth."

"You just don't know what hit you, it just feels like a sonic boom, there's no real other way to describe it," he said. 

Blampied left behind all her belongings and ran through smoke and debris down the stairs to safety as her building began to crumble. She's now staying with friends and is grateful she made it out alive. 

"It's so overwhelming. Everyone lost everything," she said. 

Gregory Dohdanowycz was in his top-floor apartment in the building next to where the blast happened. 

"I look out the window, and I see two buildings south of me, there's smoke rising from the windows and their roof windows," he said.

He only had time to grab his dog before running outside, and was overwhelmed by the horrific sights and sounds when he got outside. 

Neighbor Miller said: "There was blood on the ground. There were people laying up against buildings and other people trying to help them."

Actress Drea de Matteo is among the residents who lost her home and belongings in the explosion. She took to Instagram Thursday to share two dramatic photos of firefighters battling smoke and flames. "A hole where my NYC home of the last 22 years once stood," she wrote in one caption. "RIP 123 2nd Avenue." The photos appeared to be taken from a rooftop across the street.

Naya Jones, who spent the night at the YMCA after being told to leave her building near the blast site, went to the Tompkins Square Library Friday, where the Red Cross and other relief groups were offering financial assistance, food, vouchers and advocacy help. 

The Red Cross said it has helped more than 80 people since the blast and gave housing assistance to 30. The Standard Hotel is giving anyone displaced by the blaze three free nights of lodging. Sprint has also donated 25 cellphones. 

The ASPCA is also providing pet supplies for owners in the affected area.

"It's a small community," said Bohdanowycz. "I think everyone is trying to help out when something bad happens." 

Hinson, who's lived in the neighborhood four years, said, "I love the sense of community, and everybody comes together and helps each other out and is here for each other." 

Several long-standing businesses were also affected by the destruction. Pommes Frites, a favorite spot for fries, was destroyed by the blast, and the nearby Orpheum Theater had to cancel performances of the off-Broadway production of "Stomp."

Robert Seniuk, the chef at Stage restaurant across the street, is determined to get back to work.

"We open, we don't give up. This city is 24 hours," he said. 

Nevertheless, the frightening explosion has taken a toll on the psyche of New Yorkers everywhere.

"Yesterday was a very scary day. Now all I can do is think about the people who lost their homes and people who've been living here for decades," said neighbor Adam Mashaal. 

Hinson said he had stopped on the corner to say goodbye to his friend just before the sushi restaurant exploded.

"The fact that I was literally -- if I didn't stop and talk to my friend, I would possibly be in that building," he said. "That's kind of what's messing me up... All these crazy thoughts are going through your head after this happens, like, why me? Why am I safe, why is something again happening to me? It's just crazy. I'm having just a hard time processing it." 

Health officials say the air quality in the area has returned to normal levels and that short-term exposure to elevated particulate levels Thursday didn't pose a significant risk to the public. They say the smoke odor may linger, but isn't harmful. Still, those with respiratory or heart problems should remain extra vigilant. 

The explosion comes a week after the one-year anniversary of the East Harlem explosion that leveled two buildings and killed eight people. The blast also injured dozens of people and left many homeless for months.

Since the 2014 explosion, the FDNY has been given a much greater role in responding to reports of possible gas leaks and New Yorkers are now encouraged to call 911 about gas leaks and odors rather than 311.



Photo Credit: @The_Last_View/Twitter ]]>
<![CDATA["Hero" School Bus Driver]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 05:32:04 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/03-27-2015-rsm-bus-fire.gif

A school bus driver helped about 35 students safely exit a burning bus Friday morning in front of an Orange County, California, school after flames spread from its engine area.

Two students were treated by firefighter-paramedics at the scene, but they did not suffer serious injuries, according to the Orange County Fire Authority.

The full size school bus' engine bay caught fire in front of Rancho Santa Margarita Intermediate School at about 8:15 a.m. Firefighters, who initially thought it might be a wildfire due to the amount of smoke, extinguished the fire about 15 minutes later.

The 20-year-old driver Lisa Sherrill, who declined an interview, did "an excellent job" of getting all the students off the bus safely, according to the OCFA.

And she was praised by her boss at the First Student Bus Company, which contracts with the school district. 
"Of course she's shaken up, (but) she's very happy things turned out as well as they did." manager Melvin Florence added.

A thick column of black smoke could be seen from around the school campus and in the surrounding neighborhood. Explosions were heard as the bus tires burst due to the heat and fire.

Daniel Grantham had just dropped his son off at the school when he looked in his rearview mirror and saw the smoke.

"I saw (smoke) coming from the direction of the school and that was my first worry," Grantham said. "I flipped around and pulled up right in front of the school where the bus was. It was burning when I got there.

"I've got to give kudos to the bus driver. The bus driver is the real hero."

Sherrill noticed smoke coming out of the engine area as she pulled up in front of the school, said Steve Concialdi, of the Orange County Fire Authority. She calmly helped the children, ages 12 to 14, off the bus before using a fire extinguisher to fight the fire.

"These are her kids -- she takes them to school every day," said Concialdi

The front of the bus sustained significant damage. A location manager for the bus company told NBC4 the buses are inspected every 45 days, but did not have information regarding information specific to the bus that burned.

"Our students were safely evacuated to the PE school area when the school bus fire was reported," Principal Rick Jameson said in a statement. "This is our normal evacuation procedure. We take school safety when it comes to the safety of students as well as staff. Three kids had some emotional suffering, mostly just panicking and hyperventilating, but nobody was injured. Those three students were released to their parents. We will continue with regular school schedule for today."
 



Photo Credit: Daniel Grantham]]>
<![CDATA[Off-Duty Firefighter in Explosion ]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 21:29:55 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/mike+shepherd+east+village+fdny+hero.jpg

Off-duty FDNY firefighter Mike Shepherd didn't need to be in uniform to be a hero in the aftermath of the fiery East Village building explosion Thursday that leveled three buildings, injured about two dozen people and left two people missing. 

The Squad 41 firefighter is the man seen in widely viewed videos of the scene climbing up a fire escape to check for any possibly trapped residents inside 121 Second Ave. after the blast Thursday afternoon.

"I heard a loud explosion and I look down the block and I just started running toward the corner," he told reporters at an FDNY briefing Friday.

He helped to direct a woman down from the second-floor apartment on the fire escape.

Then "I just climbed it, started searching my way up from the second floor. Opened the window and looked in and the floor was collapsed," said Shepherd. He continued up to the third floor.

He didn't come down until he'd gotten all the way up to the top floor, and the danger to himself became all too real.

"I could feel the heat and the smoke, and I said, 'I gotta get outta here now,'" he said. "And I looked and I could see 9-truck coming and 33-engine, so I said, 'Worst case scenario, they'll have to put the bucket up and grab me."

Witness Troy Hinson recorded Shepherd climbing up the fire escape and told NBC News the crowd below was terrified as they watched. 

"You're kind of in awe at what this guy's doing but you're also kind of holding your breath and you're like, I don't want to see this guy die in front of me, but that was definitely going through my mind," he said. 

"Some people just react a certain way, and he just instinctively reacted to climb up there, and that guy is truly the hero," said Hinson. 

Shepherd said he thought of his family, his wife, son daughters and granddaughter -- but the third-generation firefighter knew he couldn't walk away without helping.

"Maybe it's just in your blood," he said. "But being a New Yorker, you're always willing to go out and help somebody, you know."
 

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<![CDATA[Taraji Henson Apologizes]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 00:28:36 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/197*120/03-27-15_Racial-Profiling-Henson.JPG

After Glendale, California, police released a dashcam video that appeared to contradict claims by "Empire" star Taraji Henson that her son was racially profiled during a traffic stop, the actress apologized to the department on her Instagram account.

The dashcam video released by the Glendale Police Department seemed to contradict statements from Henson that her son was racially profiled by police during the Oct. 18 stop. She also said her son had been profiled by police at USC.

"I would like to publicly apologize to the officer and the Glendale Police Department," said the statement on Henson's Instagram. "A mother's job is not easy and neither is a police officer's. Sometimes as humans we overreact without gathering all of the facts. As a mother in this case I overreacted and for that I apologize. Thank you to that officer for being kind to my son. Love, Taraji P. Henson."

Henson's publicist called the department and confirmed that they post came from her, according to Glendale police.

Henson, an Emmy and Academy-award nominated actress, said in an interview with Uptown magazine released this week that her son was racially profiled by police in two different incidents, one in Glendale and one at USC.

The 40-minute video shows Henson’s son, Marcell Johnson, driving through a lit and flashing crosswalk with a woman walking in it. The officer pulls Johnson over and explains why he was stopped.

During the initial interaction, Johnson is asked if he has ever been arrested and if there is anything illegal in the car. Johnson discloses that there is marijuana in his backpack, and tells the officer that he has a medical marijuana prescription.

"I appreciate you being honest with me about the weed. I do appreciate that because I do smell weed," the officer said.

Later during the stop, Johnson also tells the office that he has Ritalin pills that he obtained from a friend in the car. Those are never found during a search of the car.

In the end, the officer issues Johnson a citation for the marijuana, and advises him that he can go to court with his proof of prescription and will then likely only have to pay a fine.

He tells Johnson that the marijuana citation is better than a ticket for illegally running through the crosswalk because it won’t have a lasting effect on his driving record.

"I am not going to give you a citation for running that yellow because that would actually put a moving violation on your driving license, and you are going to have to go to traffic school and all that stuff, so I am helping you by not giving you a violation on it. All I am going to do is take the weed from you," he said.

Johnson was also asked to take a field sobriety test because he admitted he had smoked marijuana two hours before the traffic stop. He passed the sobriety test.

Henson told Uptown magazine that her son was slated to attend USC but that he would now be attending Howard University in Washington, D.C. because she was concerned about the profiling.

The chief of USC's Department of Public Safety said in a statement Tuesday he was racially profiled as a teenager and was “deeply disturbed” to learn that Henson's son felt profiled because of his race.

"As someone who personally experienced racial profiling as a teenager, I have a stake in learning more about this incident and doing all I can to reach a just resolution," he said.



Photo Credit: Courtesy Glendale Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[CEO Stabbed Wife, Killed Self]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 00:12:41 -0400 Credit: Courier-Post Online ]]> Credit: Courier-Post Online ]]> http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/John+Joyce+Sheridan+1200+x+675.jpg

A high-profile South Jersey hospital CEO stabbed his wife to death and then set fire to their bedroom in a bizarre murder-suicide, according to a report released Friday by investigators in Somerset County, New Jersey, nearly six months after their deaths.

The determination brought no closure to the couple's family, though, who called prosecutors' investigative work flawed and vowed to sue.

Firefighters found Cooper University Health System CEO John Sheridan Jr, 72, and his wife, Joyce, 69, in the burning master bedroom of their Montgomery Township, New Jersey home on Sept. 28, 2014.

The revered top executive stabbed his wife multiple times in the face and once in the chest, perforating her aorta, which ultimately caused her death, according to the investigation results released on Friday.

He then turned a knife on himself, doused the room with gasoline and set it ablaze, trapping them inside, police said.

"Somebody's tapping on the window," said a neighbor in a chilling call to 911 that morning. "Somebody's trying to get out." That person very well have been Sheridan's wife of 47 years.

Initially, it was reported that Joyce Sheridan was alive when she was found by firefighters inside the couple's bedroom, but following the six monthlong investigation, it was determined that the retired schoolteacher was dead before her husband set fire to the room.

The coroner ruled John Sheridan died of "sharp force injuries" to the neck and torso and smoke inhalation. His body was found underneath a heavy, burning wooden armoire which fell on him, breaking five of his ribs, according to investigators. A large carving knife, covered in Joyce's blood, and serrated bread knife were found near the bodies.

Investigators conducted 180 interviews during their probe. Some colleagues of John Sheridan said he seemed "withdrawn," "very upset" and "out of character" because of work-related issues in the days leading up to the deaths.

The Sheridans' sudden and violent deaths shocked colleagues, family and friends who regarded the couple as liked and seemingly happy.

Sheridan joined Cooper in 2005 and is credited with helping transform the health care system, including adding a cancer center and medical school. Mrs. Sheridan was a teacher at South Brunswick High School who had a passion for helping students in need. They were friends of governors and other politicians.

"The death of our parents has left a hole in our hearts and family that can never be filled," the family said in a statement following the discovery.

But Friday, the couple's four sons — Mark, Matt, Dan and Tim Sheridan — angrily blasted prosecutors' ruling calling it an "embarrassing bungling" of a murder investigation.

“From the outset we have said that no one wants answers about our parents’ deaths more than we do. The conclusion announced today fails to provide those answers," they said in a statement.

The men questioned several aspects of the investigation including how their father wound up under the heavy furniture after stabbing himself, why there was no motive for the suicide and why investigators failed to find the knife used to carry out the self-inflicted wounds.

Prosecutors admitted they could not locate the weapon, but did test a melted piece of metal on the bedroom floor. They couldn't, however, say if it was a knife that that melted in the fire.

The children went on to say county prosecutor Geoffrey Soriano told them he had "no idea what happened in that room." They also question the ruling out of foul play by an intruder.

"This conclusion seeks to convict our father based on little more than rank speculation," the men said. "We will be filing a lawsuit challenging the conclusion announced by investigators."

"We will not allow our father to be convicted based on guesswork resulting from an inadequate and incomplete investigation simply because he is not here to defend himself," they went on to say.

In a statement, Soriano called the family's loss unfathomable, but defended the ruling saying, "we stand confidently behind the results of this investigation which was completed in a very methodical and comprehensive fashion by a number enforcement agencies, including our State Medical Examiner's Office."



Photo Credit: Courier-Post Online]]>