<![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 Fri, 18 Apr 2014 19:51:37 -0400 Fri, 18 Apr 2014 19:51:37 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Fire Guts Jersey Shore Homes]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 19:46:09 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/Sea+Isle+Fire+Video+Capture.JPG

At least three multimillion dollar beachfront homes have burned to the ground in Sea Isle City, N.J. along the 7800 block of Pleasure Avenue and the beach.

They caught fire this afternoon around 4 p.m., and that fire, fueled by the wind, spread quickly, sending black and gray smoke out that could be seen for miles.

"The wind was blowing hard from the beach, going towards the bay," said Loretta Giello, who has a summer home on 85th Street. "And I kept hearing sirens and sirens, and I saw so much black smoke that I started to run down there to see what was happening."

The homes were side-by-side townhouses, each about 2,000 square feet, according to Sea Isle City Mayor Leonard Desiderio. According to data on the real estate website Zillow.com, the beachfront homes along the 7800 block of Pleasure Avenue were listed for more than 2 million dollars.

Giello said multiple fire engines have responded from different shore towns but that Sea Isle is not as easy to access because the bridge coming in from Avalon is closed.

"So the fire trucks had to go all the way down Route 9, or the Parkway, until they get into Sea Isle and that's another 15 or 20 minutes," Giello said. Mayor Desiderio said however, he did not think the bridge being out affected response time.

NBC10 First Alert Weather Meteorologist Sheena Parveen said onshore winds were gusting near 15-20 mph at the time of the fire, which is pretty typical.

Mayor Desiderio said there are no injuries, but that some of the nearby homes are also damaged due to the intense heat from the fire. He said the homes that burned are vacation homes, not year-round homes.

Sea Isle City is a small Cape May County city of around 2,000 year-round residents that swells in the summers when vacationers flock to its beaches. But like much of the Jersey Shore, it was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

That storm damage cost the city an amusement park just this year, when the owner of Gillian's Funland said the severely damaged park would have to close.



Photo Credit: Dawn Perre]]>
<![CDATA["Thrones" Post Taken as Threat]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 16:12:37 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/game-of-thrones-shirt-professor.jpg

A New Jersey college professor was placed on unpaid leave after posting online a photo of his 6-year-old daughter wearing a shirt with a quote from "Game of Thrones" that administrators took as a threat.

The shirt says "I will take what is mine with fire & blood," and the photo was posted on Google+ by the Bergen Community College professor, Francis Schmidt, in January, around the time HBO released a trailer for the new season of the show.

After a college dean saw the post, and perceived it as a "threatening email," Schmidt was ordered to meet with administrators and was then placed on unpaid leave. The dispute in January came to light this week after Inside Higher Ed referred to it in an online post.

Schmidt on Friday shared an email with NBC 4 New York that he said was from a human resources employee at the college at the time of the dispute.

"You are not to be on campus for any reason," the email says. "The safety of all of the members of the community is taken very seriously."

Schmidt was allowed to return to teaching later that month after he was cleared by a psychiatrist. He says he missed crucial time with students he was advising.

He says he can't imagine why anyone would think he's capable of violence.

"They claimed to have never heard of 'Game of Thrones,' and so I tried to explain it to them," he said Friday.

College spokesman Larry Hlavenka Jr. said in a statement that the matter was a private personnel issue, but added that the college takes seriously any perceived threats of violence.

"Since Jan. 1, 2014, 34 incidents of school shootings have occurred in the United States," Hlavenka said. "In following its safety and security procedures, the college investigates all situations where a member of its community – students, faculty, staff or local residents – expresses a safety or security concern."

Schmidt believes he was targeted because he filed a grievance against the school when he was not granted a sabbatical.

The faculty union has also been embroiled in contract negotiations with the college; last week the union cast a no-confidence vote in the school's president. 

--Jen Maxfield contributed to this story



Photo Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images]]>
<![CDATA[NYC Baby-Snatching Suspect ID'd]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 18:31:39 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/woman-baby-chelsea.JPG

Police have released a photo of a woman suspecting of trying to abduct a baby in a stroller as the child's nanny was pushing it down a Chelsea street Thursday afternoon. 

The NYPD released a photo Friday, and said they are looking for a woman named Tara Ann McDonald, who sources said has seven previous arrests for attempted kidnapping.

Police say the nanny was pushing the 8-month-old in a stroller near 17th Street and Eighth Avenue Thursday afternoon when a woman in her 50s approached the nanny and began talking to her. 

The woman, who may be homeless, then began pushing the carriage away, police said.

William Marte, a UPS driver who was eating his lunch while on break in his truck, told NBC 4 New York on Friday that he saw the woman grab the stroller by the handle.

"The other lady was saying 'oh please, help me, help me," Marte recalled. "That's when I decide to come out and tell the lady, 'Please, let her go, leave her alone.'"

Marte said the suspect cursed and fled.

He says the baby slept through the whole ordeal. The father of two says he's not a hero, and did what anyone would do.

"I consider myself like just another New Yorker, and I did what I'm supposed to do," he said. "I did the right thing in the right moment."

Marte said the nanny thanked him over and over. 

--Marc Santia contributed to this story 

 

 

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<![CDATA[Secret Service Threatened to Shoot Mr. Met: Book]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 09:11:15 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/mr-met-cohen.jpg

A Secret Service agent once threatened to shoot Mr. Met if he approached the president during a baseball game at Shea Stadium, according to a man who once worked as the baseball-headed mascot.

AJ Mass, who was the Mets’ mascot from 1994 to 1997, said a member of former President Bill Clinton’s security detail told him they’d “go for the kill shot” if he tried to pal around with the then-commander-in-chief at a Mets-Dodgers game on April 15, 1997. The account comes from an excerpt of Mass’ new book, “Yes, It’s Hot in Here: Adventures in the Weird, Woolly World of Sports Mascots,” published on Sports Illustrated’s website this week.

Mass wrote that he had planned to make his way to see Clinton, who was at the game commemorating the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s first major-league appearance, calling the photo-op "the holy grail for all mascots."

Before he could make it to the president’s box, Mass wrote, he was stopped by an agent in a dark suit and a businesslike demeanor.

“We have snipers all around the stadium, just in case something were to happen,” the agent told Mass. “Like I said, do whatever it is you normally do. Nobody will bother you. But approach the president, and we go for the kill shot. Are we clear?”

Then the agent, who Mass wrote was staring into the mouth of Mr. Met’s head to make eye contact with the man inside, repeated himself.

“Approach the president, and we go for the kill shot,” the agent said to Mass. “ARE-WE-CLEAR?”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mumps Outbreak Reported at College]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 18:44:15 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/stevens+tech+mumps.jpg

A college campus in northern New Jersey is on alert after eight students were diagnosed with the highly contagious mumps disease.

The students at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken were 18 to 21 years old and fully vaccinated against mumps, according to the school. Some of them lived in the same fraternity house and some were members of the lacrosse team, according to other students on campus. 

They were sent home to be isolated from other students during the infectious phase of the illness.

James Shannon, a junior who said he was an acquaintance of the sick students, said they seemed to be OK.

"From what we heard from the other guys in the house, on the team, they said they're doing fine," said Shannon. 

The mumps vaccine, which all students are required to have before attending Stevens Tech, doesn't provide full protection, according to doctors. A similar outbreak was reported at Fordham University earlier this year. 

Stevens Tech sent an email to students urging them to visit a doctor if they showed symptoms of mumps, including swollen and tender glands on their face, fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite. 

Hoboken residents were also being alerted to the outbreak. 

Shannon said he went to the health center last week when he had the flu. 

"They were extra cautious to make sure it wasn't the mumps," he said. "Seems like everyone in the administration is on high alert." 

 

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<![CDATA[Kittens Survive Accidental Mailing]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 10:46:58 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/cox+kittens+3.jpg

These two kittens are just a few weeks old, but they’ve already taken the trip of a lifetime.

A worker at Cox Communications in San Diego County discovered the kittens inside a box of equipment. They had been accidentally packed up and shipped from Cox Communications in Hollywood.

Somehow, they survived the journey to San Diego.

The kittens, named Mouse and WiFi, are now being cared for at the San Diego Humane Society’s 24-Hour Kitten Nursery. Humane Society workers believe the mother cat was looking for a safe, warm place for her babies and put them in the box.

San Diego Humane Society public relations manager Kelli Schry said it’s a miracle the kitties survived.

“They were just a few days old, and at that young age kittens have to be fed every two hours,” she said via email.

Mouse and WiFi will be available for adoption when they are 8 weeks old. 



Photo Credit: San Diego Humane Society]]>
<![CDATA[McNabb Spends Day in AZ Jail ]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 06:12:14 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/mcnabb+arrested+mugshot+background.jpg

Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb has been released from an Arizona jail after serving a one-day sentence for a DUI arrest late last year.

Records released by Maricopa County Justice Court show that 37-year-old McNabb served his time Wednesday and was released Thursday morning.

Court administrator James Vance tells NBC10.com McNabb was stopped on Dec. 15, 2013 in his gray Land Rover LR4 along an Arizona freeway -- Route 101 near East McDowell Road -- on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. He was then arrested for driving under the influence and cited for speeding.

McNabb's blood alcohol content (BAC) was not available for release, but Vance said while the state's legal limit is 0.08, a person could be considered impaired with a BAC of 0.04 or higher.

The former Eagle pleaded guilty on March 27 and nine days of his sentence was suspended in exchange for undergoing alcohol screening and treatment. Vance says that is a pretty standard judgment.

McNabb then reported to the Maricopa County Jail on Wednesday, was booked and served the one day sentence.

Once the alcohol treatment is completed, the sentence will be suspended, Vance says.

NBC10.com reached out to McNabb's attorney, Stephen Benedetto, for comment. We have not heard back.

Our sister station, KPNX in Phoenix, Ariz., obtained a booking mugshot of McNabb from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

McNabb, a six-time Pro Bowler, spent 10 years with the Eagles and took the franchise to five NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl. He currently hosts a show on NBC Sports Radio.

A spokesman for the radio network said, "Donovan has no comment," on the matter.



Photo Credit: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 05:05:50 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/198*120/chelsea-clinton-pregnant.JPG

The Clintons are going to be grandparents -- Chelsea Clinton is expecting her first child later this year.

Chelsea Clinton, who married Marc Mezvinsky in 2010, made the announcement Thursday during an event in New York with her mother. 

"Marc and I are very excited that we have our first child arriving later this year," she said. "I just hope that I will be as good a mom to my child, and hopefully children, as my mom was to me."

Chelsea Clinton, 34, delivered the news as she and her mother hosted "Girls: A No Ceilings Conversation," which is part of their project that works to advance progress for women and girls around the world.

The former New York senator and secretary of state, who is considering another presidential run in 2016, said she is thrilled.

"It makes this work even more important because we've made a lot of progress," said the former first lady.

"Obviously we are very excited about what's happening in our family," she said. "But we're also very excited because of what we are doing that we hope gives confidence and support to so many of you across our country as you make decisions about the lives you want to lead."

Later Thursday, the Twitter account for Bill Clinton posted a tweet that said "Excited to add a new line to my Twitter bio ... grandfather to be! @hillaryclinton and I are so happy for Chelsea and Marc!"

 

 

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<![CDATA[911 Calls Reveal Chilling Moments After Calif. Bus Crash]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 06:57:24 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/217*120/AP619076443222.jpg

The 911 calls released Thursday reveal audible cries of fear in the moments after the fiery Northern California bus crash that claimed 10 lives while en route to Humboldt State University last Thursday.

The distressed caller tried to explain what happened over screams in the background.

"We crashed into a bus...a truck. I don't know where we are," the caller said. "We were coming from LA and we're going all the way to Humboldt State University."

Ths bus erupted into flames when a FedEx big rig crossed a 60-foot median and slammed head-on into the bus.

"The bus is on fire," the caller said as others could be heard screaming and crying. "We are getting away from the bus actually."

California Highway Patrol Capt. Todd Morrison said that investigators will conduct vehicle tests using a 2014 tour bus and a 2007 FedEx tractor-trailer truck to learn more about characteristics such as braking and visibility.

“We are hoping to learn how it happened so that we can identify what to do to prevent it from happening again,” Morrison said.

Investigators were also still interviewing passengers, witnesses and urging anyone with video of the crash to send it to authorities. They also attempted to recreate the crash scene with similar vehicles to try to gain insight.

"We owe it to the families of the involved families and the victims of this tragic collision that we tell the story of what happened, and that we tell it as accurately as possible," Leal said.

All 10 victims in the crash had been identified, some by authorities and others by family, including a recently engaged couple, a college admissions counselor and the the drivers of the truck and bus.

Fellow students returned to the scene of the crash Thursday to pay tribute to those killed one week ago.

Glenn County Sheriff-Coroner Larry Jones said most of the victims had been positively identified by his office, but their causes of death were being withhel pending toxicology testing.

"That can be several weeks out before we receieve all of that data from the labatory," Jones said.

Michael Myvette, 25-year-old Mattison Haywood, 26-year-old counselor Arthur Arzola, students Adrian Castro, 18, Marisa Serrato, 17, Denise Gomez, Ismael Jimenez , Jennifer Bonilla, bus driver Talalelei Taiao and FedEx driver Tim Evans were among those killed in the wreck.

The news conference is scheduled for 1 p.m. near the collision site.
 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Cabbie Accused of Avoiding 3,000 Bridge Tolls ]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 23:46:39 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GENERIC-CAB.gif

A New York City taxi driver is accused of avoiding bridge tolls more than 3,000 times in two years by tailgating cars in front of him and slipping through the tollbooth before the barrier came down, prosecutors said Thursday.

The 69-year-old driver, Rodolfo Sanchez, is charged with third-degree larceny, theft of services and fifth-degree possession of stolen property, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Authorities discovered him after noticing that an inactive E-ZPass tag was regularly crossing the RFK Bridge without paying. The bridge, formerly known as the Triborough Bridge, is actually made up of three bridges, a viaduct and 14 miles of approach roads that connect Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx.

Upon further investigation, surveillance video was matched to that E-ZPass, showing a yellow cab tailgating closely behind the car in front of it, crossing through the tollbooth before the barrier came down.

Additional examination of the E-ZPass tag showed it had crossed the bridge 3,017 times between 2012 and 2014 without paying tolls, allegedly costing the MTA more than $28,000 in lost revenue.

"This type of behavior is egregiously unfair to the millions of honest, motorists who pay tolls every day, and we will continue efforts to root out toll evaders and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law," said MTA Bridges and Tunnels Chief of Security Donald Look.

Sanchez was released on his own recognizance. His attorney did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment.

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<![CDATA[Courtroom Erupts After Conviction]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 15:34:30 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AlHimidi-Verdict-1.jpg

A broken family’s screams erupted in a San Diego courtroom after a guilty verdict was announced in the trial of an Iraqi immigrant who killed his wife.

As the defendant cried out in Arabic "not guilty," his mother-in-law flailed her arms, screaming "you killed my daughter," while his two teenage sons chose opposing sides.

Jurors found Kassim Al-Himidi, 49, guilty in the death of his wife Shaima Alawadi -- a bloody, brutal beating once considered a hate crime that was, in the end, an act of domestic violence.

After Judge William McGrath handed off the verdict for reading, several family members began screaming, including the defendant's oldest son, who yelled profanities, saying he disagreed with the jury's verdict.

"This is bulls---!" This is f---ing bulls---!" the son yelled. "My dad is innocent. He was tried unfairly."

Al-Himidi smirked, crossed his arms, shook his head, wagged his finger and began praying as the jury was polled one by one. At one point, he put his head on the table in front of him. Then, he too began yelling.

According to a translator, Al-Himidi screamed out in Arabic, "God knows I'm not the killer. I'm not the killer! I'm innocent. Not guilty."

As deputies rushed to place handcuffs on Al-Himidi, he continued to yell, telling his family to seek international help on this case and have investigators look at it as a hate crime. He said to get him help from overseas to get him out of jail, the translator said.

Meanwhile, the mother of the victim stood up in court, flailing her arms, and screamed,"You killed my daughter. This is not a mistake, you did kill her."

Another one of Al-Himidi's sons sided with his grandmother and said his father did kill his mother.

Outside of the courtroom, through a translator, the victim's mother said a guilty verdict is the least Al-Himidi could have gotten in this case.

"If you killed her, you deserve to be killed as well," she added, with tears in her eyes. "My daughter was home, as you probably all know. He's the one."

The grandmother went on to say that she disagreed with her oldest grandson about the verdict.

"He does not believe that, but I do," she added.

She said she heard about the problems between her daughter and Al-Himidi before the killing, but she never imagined it would lead to murder.

Ron Rockwell, attorney for Al-Himidi's children, including daughter Fatima Al-Himidi, said the tension in the courtroom was from years of pent-up emotions. Despite the oldest son's outburst, which surprised the attorney, Rockwell said all of the siblings agree with the guilty verdict.

He released this statement, on behalf of the children:

“Fatima and her brothers and sisters respect the integrity of the jury system and find it unfathomably sad that their father found life so difficult that he resorted to taking the life of their dear mother but hope that this is justice for her and for them, her children that miss her dearly. We agree with the jury’s decision and although we love our father, we hate what we also believe that he did.

After over two years of great sadness, Fatima and her brothers and sisters find relief in now believing that they can begin to heal as a family while knowing in their minds that while missing their mother more and more with each passing day, whether that is with or without their father, it will always be without their mother.”

Al-Himidi will be sentenced on May 15, Judge McGrath said Thursday.

Alawadi, 32, was beaten in a bloody attack inside the family's home on March 21, 2012. She suffered critical brain injuries and died three days later.

At first, the case was investigated as a hate crime because of a handwritten note found at the crime scene that read: “This is my country, go back to yours, terrorist.”

Just before they entered deliberations, jurors were reminded of the defendant's timeline on the day of the beating.

According to phone records, Shaima called her husband at 8:04 a.m.

Video from a nearby middle school shows a burgundy Nissan Quest going and leaving the home that morning.

At 8:15 a.m. the van was seen traveling southbound along Emerald Avenue toward Skyview Street as Al-Himidi returns to the house from taking the children to school, prosecutors said.

Then, at 9:49 a.m. a vehicle matching the description stopped at the curb, just north of the intersection of Emerald and Skyview.

Prosecutors say 30 seconds later, a pedestrian can be seen moving from the vehicle towards the house at 564 Skyview Street, three homes from the corner.

At 10:10 a.m., cell phone records show someone called Al-Himidi’s cell phone but it goes unanswered.

Prosecutors say the phone communicated with the cell tower that serves the same area as the family’s home on Skyview.

“At 10:10 he’s still in his home tower area,” Deputy District Attorney Kurt Mechals said Tuesday.

The next phone call to Al-Himidi’s cell phone was from his daughter, Fatima, at 11:18 a.m. after Shaima is discovered.

Defense attorneys poked holes in the prosecution's case in their closing arguments.

Investigators did not find any forensic evidence linking their client to the crime scene, the defense argued.

They reminded jurors that witnesses testified how violence is not in Al-Himidi's character.

Throughout the trial, the defense raised questions about the role of Shaima's daughter, Fatima, who was in the house at the time of the attack.

She was called to testify several times and shared details of her parents’ tense marriage.

The defense believes Fatima was somehow involved in her mother’s murder.

“You don’t have to solve this mystery to acquit Mr. Al-Himidi,” defense attorney Richard Berkon told the jury. “You don’t have to figure out who did it.”

In closing, even Mechals told jurors, "Fatima doesn’t make your job easy, that’s for sure."

"Whether you can believe anything she says, that’s up to you," he said.

However, Mechals urged the jury to use their common sense to find what is reasonable and what isn't.

Al-Himidi has been visibly emotional throughout the trial, at times crying and wailing loudly as evidence was presented to the jury. He wept uncontrollably when 911 tapes were played in the courtroom at the beginning of the trial.

Cameras were only allowed in the courtroom during opening statements and closing arguments.

“He thought he had committed the perfect crime. He thought he had nothing to worry about,” Mechals said.

Both the defendant and victim are Iraqi immigrants. The murder investigation reverberated across the nation when it first happened because of the discovery of a threatning note.

However, in November 2012, El Cajon police announced the arrest of Al-Himidi and said the killing was not a hate crime, but rather one of domestic violence.



Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Judge Laughs at Man Named Cocaine]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 18:41:54 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/WTVJ_000000012359097_1200x675_229639747887.jpg Broward Judge John Hurley thought he had heard it all, until this man walked into his courtroom.]]> <![CDATA[In Memoriam: Gabriel Garcia Marquez]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 17:09:53 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GGM-106331297.jpg Take a look back at those we lost in 2014.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Baby Squirrel on the Mend in DC]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 15:22:22 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/squirrel8.jpg

The rehab center that patched up an injured snowy owl in the nation's capital has another cute creature under its care.

D.C. City Wildlife said a baby squirrel was found on the sidewalk after falling 75 feet from her nest.

Wildlife officials said the squirrel — which they believe is a female — suffered a broken ankle. Her leg is now wrapped up in a little red cast.

The squirrel "should heal very quickly," officials said.

Earlier this year, City Wildlife treated a rare snowy owl after it was apparently hit by a bus in D.C. 

The injured owl was taken to the National Zoo before being transferred to the wildlife rehabilitation center. It's now at The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota, which has expertise in replacing damaged feathers.

 
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<![CDATA[Mom Drives Van Into River: Police]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 11:05:33 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Delaware-River-Mom.jpg

A man swooped in to save a South Jersey family after a mother allegedly tried to kill her teenage children.

Darnell Taylor is mourning the loss of his father, who died from cancer Wednesday morning. Yet while Taylor is now coping with the tragedy, he can take solace in the fact that he prevented another one from happening just a day before his father's death.

Police say 49-year-old Joann Smith was driving her van on West Front Street in Florence Township, N.J around 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday. With her 15, 14, and 13 year-old children inside the vehicle, Smith allegedly accelerated onto a boat ramp and into the Delaware River.

Investigators say she was intentionally trying to kill her children.

Taylor says he was driving to dinner with his wife when he noticed the vehicle partially submerged in the water and the family trapped inside.

"I got out of the car and heard people screaming," Taylor said. "I took off my jacket, jumped in and swam out there."

Taylor swam towards the family while his wife called 911.

"I couldn't get the window open because the window in the van was not a pop out window," Taylor said. "So I kept telling the young lady to kick the window out and she kicked it out."

One by one, Taylor grabbed Smith, her daughter and two sons to safety. Taylor claims Smith didn't say anything during the rescue except for "Thank you."

One of the children suffered cuts on the leg while Smith was checked into a medical facility for a mental evaluation.

Police claim Smith intentionally drove the van into the water. She was arrested and charged with three counts of attempted murder and three counts of child endangerment.

Smith’s bail was set at $600,000. Officials originally said that Smith would likely appear in Superior Court in Mount Holly Thursday afternoon. Thursday morning however they said her first appearance wouldn't occur until Monday morning at the earliest.

Detectives with the Florence Township Police Department along with officials from the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office are investigating the case.

Smith's three children are currently staying with relatives, shaken by their terrifying experience but still alive thanks to Taylor.

"He was a godsend," said Bob Lane, a Florence Township resident. "He saved them. That water is not warm and he jumped in."

While many people are calling him a hero, Taylor disagrees.

"I'm not a hero," he said. "I'm just a member of this community and anyone else would have done the same thing."



Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Condom Shortage in Cuba]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:20:11 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/WEB_CONDOMS_BY_MAIL.png

The latest food and product shortage to rock Cubans is being felt in the bedroom.

Complaints that condoms are scarce are emerging from the island, part of a dry spell that has lasted several weeks, The Miami Herald reported. 

One Havana author wrote on a Spanish-language website based in Miami that some shops continue to sell condoms, but at prices tailored to tourists that are unaffordable for most Cubans, according to The Herald. The shortage has lasted about two weeks, she wrote.

A report in a Communist Party newspaper pinpointed the prophylactic pinch to labeling and packaging issues with a batch of condoms purchased wholesale from China, The Herald reported.

Residents have also reported recent shortfalls of staples like toothpaste, toilet paper, soap and beer, the paper reported. 

 

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<![CDATA[Plane Evacuated at JFK After Bomb Threat: Officials]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:33:07 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/JFK-airport.jpg

A plane was evacuated at John F. Kennedy International Airport Wednesday evening after a bomb threat was made, officials say.

Authorities cleared out United Airlines flight 5714 at 7:40 p.m. after officials received an alert for the threat, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The FBI searched the plane, officials say, but agents didn’t find anything. Passengers were allowed back on the plane, and all of the luggage on the plane was rescreened.

The plane took off for its destination, Dulles International Airport in Washington, at 9:45 p.m., officials say.

No arrests have been made.



Photo Credit: File Photo / AP]]>
<![CDATA[Fire Truck Crashes Into Restaurant]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:55:15 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/217*120/firetruckcrash1.JPG

Monterey Park's fire chief said during a news conference on Thursday that he had never seen an accident the magnitude of Wednesday's crash that left 15 people hurt when two fire trucks plowed into a restaurant.

"Ninety-nine percent of the time ... we don't have anything like this occur," said Monterey Park Fire Chief Jim Birrell.

Lu's Dumpling House owner Vivian Lu said a man was on the sidewalk when the 40,000-pound fire engine jumped the curb, pushing him as it slammed through her restaurant near Garfield and Emerson avenues about 3:25 p.m.

When the fire truck came to a stop, a man was found pinned beneath it.

Cellphone video captured the moment when a firefighter attempted to help the man under the front bumper of the engine. The victim was believed to be hospitalized in critical condition.

"A lot blood,” Lu said. ”I see a lot blood."

Lu said the impact of the crash also pushed a built-in cashier's table across the floor, sending a waitress into a wall and making the building unstable.

Six firefighters suffered minor to moderate injuries, and eight other people had minor injuries. One person was in critical condition. A total of 15 people were hurt.

"I see a few people sitting on the street and all this blood," Lu said.

The crash happened down the street from Garfield Medical Center, where many of the victims were being taken on foot by firefighters.

The crash occurred when a fire truck and a fire engine crashed while responding to a house on fire. Both trucks were blaring sirens and running lights, one truck from Montery Park Fire Department and the other from the Alhambra Fire Department. All firefighters on board were wearing ear protecting headsets to dampen the sirens noise.

"It is ear protection from the noise of your own sirens so they do diminish the sound from outside," Alhambra Fire Department Chief Bill Walker said.

Neighbors ended up helping put out the house fire that both departments were responding to at the time of the crash.



Photo Credit: NewsChopper4]]>
<![CDATA[Jesus Drawing a Record in Chalk?]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 06:22:04 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/chalk-jesus-03.jpg

Fellowship Church in Grapevine is attempting to set the world record for the largest chalk drawing.

The church, led by Pastor Ed Young, is coloring a drawing of Jesus Christ that spans nearly 17,000 square feet, according to a statement on their website.

It took 6,700 individual pieces of chalk to create the portrait, and 125 bags of charcoal, according to a church representative.

The purpose of "Chalk Jesus" is to get people interested in and talking about the church in the days leading up to Easter.

"We believe the church should be the most creative entity on the face of the planet. Not boring, not humdrum," said Derric Bonnot with Fellowship Church. "But it should be out there thinking up new ways to tell the story of who Jesus is and who God is. And so hopefully this just catches people's attention to want to see more and want to know more."

Bonnot told NBC DFW hundreds of volunteers helped to make the portrait possible. Most were members of the mega church, which has six locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. But many of the volunteers were people who learned about the effort from social media, the radio or from the television, Bonnot said.

"Honestly, I think it speaks to people," said church member Roger Moreno about the portrait. Moreno brought his son, Luciano, 2, to help. "To show him that it's a good thing to give back and not just be so selfish."

"That actually shows that we actually still care and [we are] trying to make a difference in somebody's life," Moreno added.

The portrait will stay in place through Sunday's Easter services, at which point congregation members will then wash it away.

Despite their 12-plus hour drawing effort, if rain showers come before Sunday, Bonnot said the church understands that may make the chalk Jesus "an abstract art piece."



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Once-Conjoined Twins Leave Hospital]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 19:26:08 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Ezell-Twins-041514.jpg

The conjoined twins who were separated at Medical City Children's Hospital in Dallas have left the hospital for an inpatient rehabilitation center.

"We are thrilled beyond words that we are here today," the boys' mother Jenni Ezell said Wednesday.

The boys were born in July and were connected from the chest to the belly button. They shared a liver and intestines until doctors at Medical City Dallas Hospital separated them a month later.

Owen and Emmett Ezell left the Dallas hospital eight months after their surgery and a day after turning 9-months-old.

"This is a big day we have been waiting on a long time, we have been ready to bring these boys home for months now so this is a good thing," said the boys' father Dave Ezell.

It was an emotional departure for the hospital staff, the team of doctors and nurses who have cared for them in the neonatal intensive care unit since their birth and separation surgery in August.

"I just can't thank them enough we are so happy and grateful," said Jenni Ezell. "They are like family to us. It is hard to say goodbye until later."

While at rehab, the boys' parents will learn to manage those tubes until the boys can eat on their own.

"When we first learned they were conjoined we never imagined, that we would be here but it has come and it is time now time to keep loving them and watching them develop and grow," said Dave Ezell. "We are in charge of their care, we get to take care of the babies. So it is like the beginning of this whole new world for us, where it is going to be physically exhausting, it's going to be amazing." 

The Ezells home the boys can go home for good in a month.

The family has been chronicling the boys' progress, since their separation surgery in August 2013 on The Ezell Twins blog.

The Ezells are selling T-shirts through their blog that read, "The Works of God Displayed in Them, John 9:1-3."

The funds donated go into a trust fund set up for Emmett and Owen and their direct care.

More: The Ezell Twins blog | The Ezell Twins T-Shirts | Contribute



Photo Credit: Ezell Family/Medical City Children's Hospital]]>
<![CDATA[Girl Robbed of $1 in NYC Subway]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 22:47:36 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/girl-robbed-1-dollar.jpg

Police are looking for a man who approached a teen girl in an Upper West Side subway stairwell and tried to rob her before assaulting her and fleeing with $1.

The 15-year-old girl was entering the B and C subway station on 96th Street and Central Park West at about 10 a.m. Saturday, police said.

The suspect approached her and demanded her valuables.

He then assaulted her and took $1 from her jacket before fleeing.

Police released surveillance images of the suspect. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.

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<![CDATA[Explosives Scare in SoCal Town]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 04:28:22 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/160*120/military+ordnance.jpg

Residents were allowed to return home around midnight Thursday after the discovery of a potentially explosive military device forced the evacuation of hundreds of homes and businesses in a Southern California tourist town Wednesday, authorities said.

Santa Barbara County sheriff's officials said the device, described as a military ordnance, was reported about 3:30 p.m. in the 1600 block of Copenhagen Drive in Solvang, a small city about 35 miles north of Santa Barbara.

About 500 to 700 homes and businesses in the immediate area received Reverse 911 calls ordering evacuations, sheriff's officials said.

The evacuation area was within a 1,500-foot radius of where the device was located. It included south of Laurel Avenue, west of Alisal Road, north of Birch Drive and east of 5th Street, sheriff's officials said.

Just after midnight, the Sheriff's Bomb Squad and Venderberg Air Force Base's Explosive Ordnance Disposal team removed the device and deemed it safe. The evacuation was lifted and residents were allowed to return to their homes.

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<![CDATA[VIDEO: Burglar Peers Into Crib]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:40:02 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/gjanda-2014-04-16-12h46m46s137.jpg A burglary suspect who broke into a Houston home was caught on the video baby monitor set up to view the family's sleeping toddler.]]> <![CDATA[Yawning Suspect to Judge: "I Don't Care, Man"]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 23:36:13 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/041614+joseph+butler+judge+john+hurley.jpg

A yawning suspect earned a stern rebuke and a trip to jail after he told a South Florida judge, "I don't care, man."

Joseph Butler was facing grand theft and resisting arrest charges when he appeared before Broward Circuit Judge John Hurley Tuesday in the incident captured on court video.

Butler, arms crossed, stood as the prosecutor read from his lengthy criminal past then yawned loudly, drawing the ire of Hurley.


"Oh don't worry, sir. Sir, I heard you yawn, but don't worry. You won't yawn in just a minute. Trust me on that one," Hurley said.

"I don't care, man. I really don't care," Butler said.

"I know this is boring to you and you'd rather be out doing something else, but I can guarantee you won't be stealing anymore after this conversation," Hurley replied.


Hurley then set Butler's bond at $104,000, but ordered him held without bond on three previous grand theft arrests.

"So he's gonna be staying in jail for awhile," Hurley said after dismissing Butler. "Good, maybe he can yawn all he wants while he's over there."

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<![CDATA[Messages from the Boston Marathon Memorial]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 07:23:32 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/boston-bombing-memorial-%285%29.JPG Photos of Dear Boston: Messages from the Marathon Memorial, an exhibit of running shoes, posters, notes, shirts, hats and tokens of all shapes and sizes meant to give support and love to those impacted by the bombing at the 2013 Boston Marathon. Those objects were collected and transferred to the Boston City Archives for safekeeping. A selection of those artifacts are now on display at the Boston Public Library in Copley Square.

Photo Credit: Ames Meyer, NBC 5 Chopper Photographer]]>
<![CDATA[Teens Accused of Sharing Naked Pics]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 05:32:06 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/texting-sexting.jpg

Two New Jersey teens are facing criminal charges after allegedly sharing nude photos of other teens, some of whom were engaging in sex acts, police said.

The Little Falls Police Department said Wednesday that a 16-year-old West Orange boy was arrested after he texted eight naked photos of a 17-year-old girl to a 16-year-old girlfriend from Little Falls.

That friend is then accused of showing the photos to others, and may have posted them on social media, police say. 

The girl is also believed to have sent other videos and photos of underage teens engaging in sex acts to other juveniles.

The teens are charged with endangering the welfare of a child by possessing child pornography. Both teens were released to the custody of their parents.

Police are urging parents to explain to their children that sending, taking and sharing of naked photos of juveniles is a crime. 

 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Mom Accused in Son's Death Kept Body on Ice for Hindu Ritual]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 09:56:58 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/pallavi-dhawan-mug-inset.jpg

A North Texas mother who is accused of killing her 10-year-old son says the boy died in his sleep and was kept on ice to comply with a Hindu ritual, an affidavit released by the family states.

Pallavi Dhawanwas was arrested and charged earlier this year after police were called to the family's Frisco home and discovered the boy's body in a bathtub. Frisco police charged her with murder after they said she confessed to killing the boy. Her husband, Sumeet, and the family's attorney have repeatedly called for charges against her to be dropped.

In an affidavit dated April 15, Dhawan said she loved her son Arnav "with all of my heart and never would hurt him in any way."

"...I want to make it perfectly clear to the world that: I did not hurt Arnav. I did not kill Arnav. I did not murder Arnav. I did not drown or smother Arnav. I did not poison Arnav," the affidavit states. "I did not fail to render aid to Arnav at any time."

Dhawan said her son, Arnav, had been diagnosed with microcephaly and had special needs that were catered to by the family and other caregivers.

She said she found the boy "cold," "stiff," and "completely unresponsive" in his bed after trying to wake him up for school. The mother said she moved her son's body to the bathtub and attempted to revive him with CPR.

The boy's mother said she kept her son's body on ice for four days after his death using ice cubes taken from her refrigerator and placed in plastic bags. Dhawan said she followed Hindu rituals with her son, including reading the Hindu scriptures over his body, due to significant concern over the last rites that she believed needed to be performed on Arnav. She said that when her husband Sumeet's father passed away, the body was preserved on ice for "4-5 days until the immediate family could reach India and perform the last rites."

"Being in the state of shock with such a sudden demise of Arnav, I continued to try and follow the Hindu customs to the best of my knowledge as exhibited by the father's [Sumeet Dhawan] family in the past, including preserving the body on ice," she said in the affidavit.

In March, Sumeet Dhawan said the charges against his wife are a result of a cultural misunderstanding. The Dhawan family is Hindu and after death bodies are preserved on ice while waiting for family to pay respects and for last rites to be issued.

"Nothing is going to get our son back and I hope that what has happened to us doesn't happen to anybody and cultural differences played a big part in this," said Sumeet Dhawan.

During an April 10 hearing on the case, prosecutors said they haven't decided if Dhawan will be indicted because they are still waiting for a report from the Frisco police department.

Additionally, a report from the Collin County medical examiner ruled the boy's cause of death as "undetermined," but "natural disease is most likely."

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<![CDATA[Formerly Conjoined Twins Thriving]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 16:28:38 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Ezell-Twins-041514.jpg

The conjoined twins who were separated at Medical City Children's Hospital in Dallas have left the hospital for an inpatient rehabilitation center.

Owen and Emmett Ezell left the Dallas hospital eight months after their surgery and a day after turning 9-months-old. Video of their departure from Medical City Children's Hospital appears in the player above.

"I am so excited. I am shaking I am so excited. We have been waiting months for this and it's finally here," said the twins' mother Jenni Ezell, earlier this week.

Doctors hope that the boys can go home for good sometime this summer.

The boys were born in July and were connected from the chest to the belly button. They shared a liver and intestines until doctors at Medical City Dallas Hospital separated them a month later.

They've lived in the neonatal intensive care unit ever since and have each had multiple surgeries and setbacks. Through it all, the boys' parents never lost faith.

"Back when the struggles were the hardest and the struggles were the biggest, basically the way we would keep pressing on without losing it was to talk about having all four boys together," said the boys' father Dave Ezell. "When this is over, we're going to have 4 boys, we're going to be a family."

In the past the hospital had said the boys had to pass three major hurdles to go home -- eating and breathing on their own and fully healing from their surgical wounds.

The hospital said Monday the twins are breathing on their own through trachea breathing tubes and are no longer being fed through an IV, but they continue to be fed through tubes in their abdomens.

While at rehab, the boys' parents will learn to manage those tubes until the boys can eat on their own.

"It's been a dream. We've made it and it's been really hard. I feel like that first 9 months, it's all been emotional, it has been very difficult emotionally," said Jenni Ezell. "But from here out it's going to be very difficult physically. We are going to be exhausted taking care of these boys but it's going to be totally worth it!"

Jenni and Dave Ezell call the twins their "little miracles" and say each step has been part of a greater plan.

"They wouldn't be here if it weren't for God. It's the truth," said Jenni Ezell.

To celebrate the twins' health and success, a small celebration is being planned on Wednesday prior to their departure. Ahead of that celebration, the hospital and Ezell family released new photographs of the now 9-month-old boys on Tuesday.
 

The family has been chronicling the boys' progress, since their separation surgery in August 2013 on The Ezell Twins blog.

The Ezells are selling T-shirts through their blog that read, "The Works of God Displayed in Them, John 9:1-3."

The funds donated go into a trust fund set up for Emmett and Owen and their direct care.

More: The Ezell Twins blog | The Ezell Twins T-Shirts | Contribute



Photo Credit: Ezell Family/Medical City Children's Hospital]]>
<![CDATA[Son Accused in Mom's CO Killing Due in Court]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 08:36:43 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Koustantinos-Yiambilis-Lead.jpg

A Bucks County man accused of killing his own mother with carbon monoxide from a portable generator in a possible murder-suicide pact is set to appear in court Wednesday.

Bensalem Police say that they found Koustantinos "Gus" Yiambilisis killed his mother Karen Yiambilis inside the Longmeadow Apartment unit they shared.

Police responded to the 3000 block of Bristol Road on April 7 for a report of fumes coming from the interior of an apartment unit.

When the responding officers and firefighters arrived, they were met at the door by 30-year-old Koustantinos Yiambilis.

The officers entered the apartment where they found Yiambilis’ 59-year-old mother lying unconscious on the bedroom floor. She was taken to Aria Torresdale Hospital where she later died.

Koustantinos Yiambilis was also taken to the hospital for evaluation and treatment. Residents in four adjacent apartments were evacuated until officials determined the scene was safe.

According to police, a preliminary investigation found that Yiambilis intentionally caused the death of his mother by using a portable generator. He was arrested and charged with criminal homicide, risking a catastrophe, recklessly endangering another person and other related offenses.

Despite the charges, neighbors who spoke with NBC10 say they believe the incident was actually a suicide pact between the mother and son who had recently been hit by hard times.

According to neighbors, Yiambilis was fired from his job last Friday and needed brain surgery after suffering a serious head injury. With his mother unemployed as well, the family didn't have the money for the procedure.

Friends also claim that Karen Yiambilis was the one who actually asked to borrow the generator from a neighbor Monday morning.

"I really don't think it was homicide at all," said Jessica Shaffery, one of the neighbors. "I think that they just had a lot going on and they didn't have the resources that they needed for themselves. I think it was just too much for them to handle at that point."

Yiambilis remains detained without bail.



Photo Credit: Facebook.com]]>
<![CDATA[Bloomberg to Spend $50M to Fight Gun Violence]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 22:32:46 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/mayor-bloomberg-budget.jpg

In his first major political investment since leaving office, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced plans to build a nationwide network aimed at curbing gun violence and battling the National Rifle Association, according to published reports.

Bloomberg told the New York Times that he is planning to spend $50 million this year to establish the grassroots gun control lobbying group, called Everytown for Gun Safety.

The new organization will encompass two other Bloomberg-funded gun control groups – Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America – and will first take aim at expanding background checks for gun buyers both at the state and national levels, according to the Times. 

Everytown for Gun Safety will borrow from some of the NRA’s field operation tactics to grow influence, targeting mothers and other women that might be swayed on gun issues. The group has already targeted 15 states across the country with varying views on gun control, with the goal of recruiting 1 million new supporters.

“Right now, women, when they go to the polls, they vote on abortion, they vote on jobs, they vote on health care,” Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts told the Times. “We want one of those things to be gun violence prevention.”

Bloomberg said he wanted work with both parties on gun control efforts and assembled an advisory board of Republican and Democratic officials, philanthropists and investors.

The former mayor's $50 million contribution would more than double the NRA’s $20 million in annual spending on political activities, the Times reports. Bloomberg hinted that his contributions to the cause could grow.

“I put $50 million this year, last year into coal, $53 million into oceans,” he told the Times. “Certainly a number like that, $50 million. Let’s see what happens.”

Bloomberg and Watts appeared on NBC's TODAY show Wednesday morning to talk about the group.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Sprint Email Calls Man "Sissyboy"]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 13:03:35 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Kelvin_matthews.png

A Chicago man said he received an unwelcome email from Sprint this weekend after he called the company to report an error with his account.

Kelvin Mathews claims he was sent an email addressed to "Sissyboy Kelvin Gay Matthews" after he sought assistance from customer service.

“I gave [the representative] my email address, and that’s the email they sent me,” Mathews said.

Mathews said he originally called the company Sunday because he was still receiving messages from a Sprint account he thought he closed.

He told a customer service representative about his issue and was directed to check the status of his phone on his online account. When he couldn’t remember his login information, he said the representative sent him an email with instructions.

When he received the email, however, he was shocked and called customer service again.

“I expressed my concerns to them and how serious this is to me and my wife,” he said. “I don’t live a homosexual life, I never gave Sprint anything to go on and think that, and even if I did I don’t think it would be fair to say this on my account.”

Sprint said its investigation is ongoing but did acknowledge the error.

A spokesman for the company said the salutations on the automated emails can be changed by employees.

"We have apologized to Mr. Mathews and deeply regret what happened over the weekend,” the company said in a statement. “Mr. Mathews should never have received this email from our representative. We have dealt with that employee appropriately."

Mathews said a representative from Sprint contacted him Monday following his report, apologizing for the email.

The representative offered to close Mathews’ Sprint account with no early termination fees and agreed to open a new business account with an iPhone and two months of free service, Mathews said.

Mathews said he had not yet accepted the offer.

“To have this email is a form of degrading someone and I think people need to know about it,” he said. “They’re not treating customers like they should.”

Earlier this year, a suburban Chicago couple who lost their teenage daughter in a car crash received mail from OfficeMax addressed to "Daughter Killed in Car Crash."

And in February, a California woman named Lisa McIntire received mail from Bank of America addressed to "Lisa Is a Slut McIntire."

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<![CDATA[NYPD Disbands Muslim Spying Unit]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 01:55:41 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/nypd-Surveillance-Muslims.jpg

The New York Police Department says it has disbanded a special unit whose efforts to try to detect terror threats in Muslim communities through secret surveillance sparked outrage.

The NYPD confirmed the decision on Tuesday.

The surveillance program by the NYPD Intelligence Division had come under fire by community activists who accused the department of abusing civil rights.

The program relied on plainclothes officers to eavesdrop on people in bookstores, restaurants and mosques. The tactic was detailed in a series of stories by The Associated Press and became the subject of two federal lawsuits.

The NYPD's decision to disband the unit was first reported in The New York Times.



Photo Credit: AP]]>