<![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 Wed, 30 Jul 2014 19:27:44 -0400 Wed, 30 Jul 2014 19:27:44 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[LA Flood Twice as Bad as Feared]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:24:16 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/193*120/ucla+flood+water+main+20140730_082724_resized+%286%29.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NBC4's Samia Khan contributed to this report.

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

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

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

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

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

 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Ax Goes Through Windshield in Massachusetts]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 19:18:52 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Ax+through+windshield+in+Topsfield.jpg

Passengers in a car traveling through Topsfield, Massachusetts, on Wednesday morning had a frightening ordeal when an ax became lodged in their windshield.

They were driving on Route 95 southbound around 11 a.m. when the ax flew off the landscaper's dump truck in front of them and hit their windshield, Massachusetts State Police said in on Facebook

The ax went halfway through the windshield and became lodged there.

Although the person in the passenger seat was shaken up, she was not injured.

Had the driver of the car been speeding, the outcome could have been much worse, police said.

The driver of the truck was cited for a failure to secure cargo.

Police are using the scary incident to warn contractors, or any drivers, to properly secure items they are transporting, including tools, building materials, bicycles, canoes, luggage, furniture and beach chairs.
 

 



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Plane Cleared for Smoke in NYC ]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:34:53 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/lga+plane+evac+july+30.jpg

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

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

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

The runway was closed briefly as officials responded. 

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



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[CA Has 1st Openly Gay Governor - For Part of Day]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 17:39:14 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/toni+atkins+swearing+in.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 



Photo Credit: CA State Assembly]]>
<![CDATA[What to Know About the Immigration Crisis]]> Fri, 25 Jul 2014 17:35:07 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/450883216.jpg

The news that thousands of unaccompanied children are crossing the U.S. border is just making headlines, but the surge has been happening for months, even years. President Obama is asking Congress for $3.7 billion to tackle the issue, which has become a flashpoint in the debate over immigration.

The number of children has overwhelmed the U.S. immigration system, which faces a backlog of hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants, according to The Associated Press.

President Barack Obama says that violent crime is driving migrants north, while Republicans blame Obama’s policies, saying they have given migrants an incentive to come.

Here’s what you should know about the crisis.

How Many Kids Are Trying to Cross the Border Alone

Since October, more than 57,000 children have been caught traversing the U.S.-Mexico border without an adult. That’s more than double the number in 2012 and triple the number in 2011, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The U.S. Border Patrol was already noticing an increase in children coming up from Central America in the fall of 2011. Most of the apprehended children are between 14 and 18-years-old, according to the Women's Refugee Commission.

Three-fourths of the kids caught since October have traveled over 1,000 miles — by car, train, raft and foot — from the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. The rest are from neighboring Mexico, according to Border Patrol data.

Making the trek is uncertain and dangerous. Smugglers, or coyotes, charge up to $10,000 for each child, according to The Associated Press. These smugglers may take the children’s money and run, or worse, assault or traffic them. The journey is also physically challenging, with dense forests, dry deserts and rugged mountains along the way. One stretch of land in Texas is referred to as the "killing fields."

Migrant children aren't just traveling to the U.S. All of Central America is seeing an increase. Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Belize jointly documented a 712 percent increase in the number of people seeking asylum from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, according to the Washington Office on Latin America.

Why They Left Central America

The mass migration is chiefly caused by three things: gang-related violence, poverty and rumors that migrant children will be welcomed to the U.S. if they make it to the border.

Violence. A good portion of the drug trade is now in Central America and plenty of gangs capitalize on this. Incompetent police forces do little to stop them. Children are actively recruited as "foot soldiers" for cartels. These gangs give children an ultimatum: work in the drug trade or face death. Honduras’ homicide rate was 90 killed per 100,000 people in 2012. That’s the worst in the world and six times the global average. Guatemala and El Salvador aren't far behind.

Gangs run rampant in these countries, and many children find themselves in the crossfire. It is not uncommon for children to arrive at hospitals riddled with bullets. Fifty-eight percent of children migrating north are motivated by violent conditions in their home country, according to a report by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Trust in the police is low in the children's countries of origin. In many places, gangs and police are intertwined. "You never know who is who," several migrant children told the Immigration Policy Center.

Poverty. Nearly two-thirds of the Honduran population lives below the poverty line, according to UNICEF. One in three infants is malnourished, and most kids in rural areas will only get four years of schooling on average. Guatemala's poverty rate is 26 percent. In El Salvador 17 percent of the population is living on less than $2 a day, according to the World Bank.

Rumors. The recent surge may have its roots in rumors that a change in U.S. immigration policy means any child who crosses the border can stay. This is a false belief, according to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. Children who arrived after 2007 are not eligible for deferred deportations or a path to citizenship. A Border Patrol report that was leaked in June says families' misconception that they will obtain "permisos" when they arrive in the U.S. is driving most migration, according to Vox.com. They believe "permisos" means work permit, but it's actually a notice to appear in immigration court.

• Family. Over a third of Central American children who traveled to the U.S. alone were looking to reunite with one or both parents. It is common for relatives to send children north to reunite with family members, who also have questionable legal status, according to a report by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

What Caused the Crisis

In addition to the violence and poverty in Central America, some have said the U.S. government is at the root of the influx, particularly policies put forth by the last two presidents.

Obama's order. Republicans have blamed the Obama administration for the rumors, saying that poor policy and communication has led migrants to believe they can stay, according to the Los Angeles Times. They say the president has been weak at enforcing border policy and that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was authored by the Obama administration in 2012 and gives some undocumented migrants temporary legal status, has given Central American families a false hope.

Bush's law. A bipartisan law that President George W. Bush signed in 2008, known as the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, seeks to combat sex trafficking by granting protections to children traveling alone from countries that are not Mexico or Canada. Under the law, unaccompanied children can’t be hastily sent back and are instead allowed an immigration hearing and must be handed over to the Department of Health and Human Services. The Obama administration said the law is partly to blame for the crisis, according to The New York Times. The White House and Republicans are both looking for ways to adjust the law's requirements to make it easier for children to be returned to their home countries.

Where the Migrants Arrive and What Happens When They Get Here

The crisis is happening all along the United States’ Southwest border. The greatest number of migrants are entering through southern Texas, where there has been a 178 percent change in the number of unaccompanied children crossing the border from 2013 to 2014, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Border patrol agents in Texas are overwhelmed and facilities are brimming with migrant children.

The city of Murrieta, California, made national headlines after protesters blocked buses carrying undocumented children and families to immigration processing facilities in Southern California. Overcrowded facilities in Texas looked to ease the burden by sending some migrants there. About 140 migrants ended up in San Diego.

More recently demonstrators on both sides were out in Oracle, Arizona, waiting for unaccompanied children they thought were about to be transferred to a camp there. The children never arrived though anti-immigration protestors briefly halted a bus carrying other children from a YMCA, according to The Associated Press. The Sycamore Canyon Academy in Oracle told NBC News that it had been asked by the federal government to provide shelter temporarily for a small number of children.

When migrant children are apprehended by Customs and Border Protection they are held in a detention center — usually a sterile place that resembles a warehouse. They will remain there until they are transferred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement's Division of Children Services (ORR/DCS). These facilities range from group homes to juvenile detention centers that are locked and surrounded by barbed wire.

Children stay at ORR/DCS facilities for an average of 55 days while authorities attempt to locate a parent or guardian. If none can be found, the child remains in DCS custody for the entirety of her immigration case. Ultimately, she will either end up with her parents or foster parents in the U.S. or be sent back to the country she came from.

What's Being Done About the Influx of People

More cash. The White House is asking Congress for more than $3.7 billion to address the wave of migration. Most of that cash would go to the Department of Health and Human Services, while Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection would also get a share. Almost $300 million would go towards efforts to “repatriate and reintegrate migrants to Central America.” The request must pass both houses of Congress, though, and it's not clear how, or whether, the GOP-led House will vote.

More shelters. Immigration officials are scrambling to find more shelter space for new arrivals. Dallas County in Texas agreed to shelter 2,000 children if the federal government foots the bill. Hospitals and schools no longer in use are among the buildings that could possibly house the children.

Foster care. Organizations and families in parts of Texas and the Southwest are taking up kids, particularly those who have no family in the U.S. or no safe places to return to in their home countries.

Programs in Central America. The Obama administration has earmarked $300 million for programs in Central America to boost the quality of life of people and address the underlying root causes that are driving migration. It hopes to do this by improving economic and security conditions and helping migrants reintegrate into their communities instead of returning north.

Ad campaigns. U.S. officials are trying to counter the flow of migrants with a Spanish-language ad campaign that looks to frighten them from coming in the first place. The ads warn that smugglers are criminals who could subject migrants to violence, sexual assault, sex trafficking or forced labor.

Border security. Some in Congress, especially Republicans, have said the focus should be on strengthening border security. Texas Gov. Rick Perry told a congressional committee that unaccompanied kids should be deported immediately to show the U.S. is serious about enforcement. Advocates for migrants have criticized the Obama administration, saying that future funding should go to ensuring migrant children with legitimate claims of asylum see their day in court, not border security.

What's Next

As protests continue and politicians try to figure out the best way to tackle the crisis, migrant children keep pouring in. The Obama administration expects the number of migrant children arriving in the U.S. to rise to 90,000 by September 2014. While visiting Texas, President Obama urged Congress to approve the $3.7 billion he asked for to help deal with the surge.

A first group of about 40 undocumented immigrants, including children, were returned to Honduras from New Mexico, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The group had been staying at a temporary detention center. Homeland Security officials told NBC News that the flight was just the start of deportations. "We expect additional migrants will be returned to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador in the coming days and weeks," one official said.

Meanwhile Las Vegas became the latest city to announce that its police department would no longer honor requests from federal officials to detain undocumented immigrants without a court order or arrest warrant. It joins Philadelphia, Chicago, Newark, N.J., and nearly all major urban centers in California.

Officials at the United Nations want many of the people fleeing Central America to be treated as refugees displaced by armed conflict. This designation would increase pressure on the U.S. and Mexico to accept tens of thousands of people currently ineligible for asylum, according to The Associated Press.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UCLA's Pauley Pavilion Court May Have to Be Replaced: Officials]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:50:38 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/215*120/ucla+pauley+pavilion+court+water+flood.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pauley Pavilion can seat approximately 13,800 people.

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



Photo Credit: FirstIn]]>
<![CDATA[Skakel's Defense to File Motion to Suppress Audio Evidence ]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:59:39 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/michael+skakel+released+bond.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Skakel declined to comment on his way out of court.

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

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

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<![CDATA[6 Narcotics Officers Stole Half a Million Dollars From Suspects: Feds]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 13:53:59 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/160*120/police+badge+philly1.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other incidents weren't as violent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Comatose Md. Man Dies in Liberia]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 15:52:24 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/0729-nathaniel-dennis.jpg

A comatose Maryland man who was stuck in Liberia during the ongoing Ebola quarantine has died, according to a webpage set up by his family.

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

Dennis died Wednesday morning in Sinkor, Liberia, according to an update on his family's fundraising webpage.

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

At the time of Dennis' death, his family had been attempting to bring him to the U.S.

"Despite his family's efforts to have his comatose body transported by [medevac] outside of the country to a medical facility with adequate equipment and [knowledge of] how to treat him; he was unable to receive the treatment that was necessary for his survival," said an update on the "Bring Nathaniel Home" page on GoFundMe.com.

The post said that as Dennis grew sicker, he began to need dialysis and a ventilator -- but the equipment wasn't available at the facility where he was.

"...[S]o Nathaniel continued to lie comatose and untreated until his untimely passing," the post read.

On the night before Dennis' death, his cousin Vannette Tolbert, a D.C. resident, expressed her worries and frustration to News4.

"I'm angry that we've been unable to override the hold they have put on all of the borders," she said Tuesday night. "We've been unable to get him out of the country and into another country where he can receive proper medical care."

Tolbert said many airlines were not even flying out of Liberia, limiting their options even more.

A fundraiser had been scheduled in his honor Wednesday night at Lima Lounge on K Street NW in D.C. starting at 6 p.m. His family had hoped to raise $30,000 to help transport him with a doctor and the necessary medical equipment.

"I believe he will be OK if we can get him the treatment he needs on time," Tolbert had said Tuesday night.

Dennis' mother had traveled to Liberia to be with her son, but was unable to see him due to the quarantine.

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

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<![CDATA[Maryland Woman to Become U.S. Citizen on Her 100th Birthday]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 08:57:10 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Maria+Ward+and+Leticia+Munoz.jpg

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

“I can’t have a better blessing than having my mother live a hundred years,” said her daughter, Maria Ward.

Munoz will become the oldest Maryland resident to naturalize since the former Immigration and Naturalization’s immigration services were placed with USCIS in 2003. Why now, after almost three decades in the United States? Munoz told News4’s Kristin Wright she wants to vote.

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

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

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



Photo Credit: NBCWashington.com]]>
<![CDATA[No Strollers, No Kids in Dining Room: NorCal Restaurant Sparks Social Firestorm With Sign]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 12:45:23 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/restaurant-sign-JPG.jpg

"No Strollers. No High Chairs. No Booster Chairs."

That’s one of the three not-so-inviting signs hanging prominently at the Old Fisherman’s Grotto in Monterey, California announcing that “Children crying or making loud noises are a distraction to other diners, and as such, are not allowed in the dining room.”

NBC affiliate KSBW reported that the hanging of the latest sign in the popular restaurant is stirring up a firestorm among parents who feel the signs are ageist. The first two signs were hung two years ago, and a third sign was added last month.



"I think it's ridiculous," tourist Teresa Colombani told KSBW this week.  "I think kids need to know how to behave in restaurants, and if you, don't take them to them, they don't know how to behave and they shouldn't be kept hidden away, so I think it's ridiculous. Kids should be allowed in restaurants."

Daniel Sanchez was one of more than 250 commenters who posted their thoughts at the end of the KSBW web article, saying that his 5-year-old son sat on his knees through the meal since he wasn't given a booster seat. "That said," Sanchez wrote, "we all hated the food. Owners shouldn't bunch all kids into one. (The) owner is obviously a prima dona."

Comments began pouring in on the NBC Bay Area Facebook page, too.

While many are appalled their little tykes can't down a Mexican-style prawn cocktail or slurp a bowl of bouillabaise, there are plenty of others who are siding with restaurant owner, Chris Shake, who said if customers don't like the rules, they can go somewhere else for dinner.

"Fisherman's Grotto is not a place for parents to take their small children," wrote a woman identified as "Kelly." "It is where people want to go when they want a quiet and/or romantic meal."

Fiona64 added: "Exactly. This is not a mac-and-cheese/chicken fingers sort of restaurant."

Shake added that he isn’t backing down, and that his business has never been better.
 
"If a place has the rules, that's what the rules are," Shake told KSBW. "You go in and abide by the rules or you find a place more suitable for you."
 



Photo Credit: KSBW]]>
<![CDATA[Shootout Cop to Leave Hospital]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:33:52 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/detective+released.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- Marc Santia contributed to this report



Photo Credit: NYPD/Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Accused in Fatal School Stabbing Appears in Court]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:51:46 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/chris+plaskon+in+court+2.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plaskon is expected back in court Oct. 16.

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<![CDATA[Funeral Set for Caseworker Shot by Patient at Pa. Health Facility ]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 08:40:29 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/194*120/Theresa+Hunt+Thumb+Welnnes+Center+Shooting.JPG

Friends and family will gather Wednesday night to remember the dedicated caseworker who died when investigators say one of her patients opened fire inside a Pennsylvania wellness center.

Delaware County authorities say that Richard Plotts shot and killed Theresa Hunt Thursday afternoon during a medical visit at the Sister Marie Lenahan Wellness Center located on the Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital campus along Lansdowne Avenue.

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan said that Plotts, 49, was upset about Mercy-Fitzgerald Hospital's ban on guns when he held Dr. Lee Silverman and Hunt hostage. Plotts then fired a .32 caliber revolver, killing Hunt, who was his caseworker, and grazing the physician in the head, officials said.

Silverman used his own gun to return fire and injure Plotts but it was too late for Hunt -- who was described as a beloved sister and aunt.

"We feel like we lost a family member," said Hunt's neighbor Marge LaBrum. "When we used to say to her, 'Theresa, how do you take care of them when they're mentally ill and could hurt you?' she said 'It's a chance I have to take because I have to take care of them.'"

Hunt's funeral is set for Wednesday starting with visitation at 6 p.m. at John Stretch Funeral Home on Eagle Road in Havertown, Pennsylvania.

Following the funeral, Hunt will be buried at Riverview Cemetery in Hancock, New York on Friday. The family asked that donations be made to the Community Care Program at Mercy Fitzgerald or Philadelphia's Horizon House.

Plotts remains in custody and has yet to be arraigned. Police still do not know how the convicted felon with a history of mental health problems obtained the weapon he used in the shooting.

Plotts, whose past includes time in mental health facility and guilty verdicts for disorderly conduct and firearms violations, and guilty pleas to assault and forgery charges, faces 10 counts related to the wellness center shooting including first-degree murder, criminal homicide, aggravated assault, weapons and related charges. Authorities have yet to set an arraignment date.



Photo Credit: Family Photo]]>
<![CDATA[Man Discovers Dad's Killer Coaching Youth Baseball]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 07:40:26 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Joey_John_Matthews-2.jpeg

A Chicago man is seeking answers after learning that one of the men who beat his father to death in 1988 was coaching youth baseball in his neighborhood.

Joey Mathews, of Hegewisch, was 4 years old when his father -- Chicago Police officer John Mathews -- was beaten to death by several men in 1988.

Mathews learned in June that one of those men, Dean Chavez, was coaching in the local Babe Ruth Baseball program.

He says the league did not do a proper background check and tried to brush the matter under the rug when he brought it up.

He says both he and his mother sent emails to Hegewisch baseball officials asking that Chavez be removed, but was told he's a good coach who didn't compromise the safety of the children.

"These kids are learning life lessons from a murderer," Mathews said.

Chavez, who served 11 years in jail, was fired after Mathews said he approached national league officials.

"One of things you did when he became an adult was kill a guy with a baseball bat. Now he wants to coach baseball? It's absolutely insane," Mathews said.

Mathews is seeking the dismissal of the league's five board members, and for the local and national Babe Ruth bylaws to be changed so it doesn't happen again.

The bylaws currently only cover potential coaches convicted of a sexual offense or an offense against a minor, according to Mathews.

The league will host a meeting Wednesday evening in Hegewisch to address the matter which Mathews says has opened up old wounds for his mother.

"No one should have to live through this twice," Mathews said.

Chavez and league officials did not return requests for comment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Most of the damages Tuesday occurred at UCLA.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jane Yamamoto contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Gadi Schwartz]]>
<![CDATA[UCLA Students Deal With "Knee-Deep" Water on Campus]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 09:38:10 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/ucla-flooding-10.jpg

A carnivalesque atmosphere took place at UCLA on Tuesday afternoon as a 30-inch water main busted a 15-foot hole in a street, sending millions of gallons of water rushing onto campus and nearby roads and stranding hundreds of people whose cars were parked in water-damaged parking structures.

Photos on social media showed students sitting in chest-high water in a flooded stairwell as if it was a hot tub, playing in ankle-deep water and walking with their pants rolled up as crews worked to cap the 93-year-old water pipe.

"It was crazy, cars are flooded, people are stuck here," said one student, who left a campus book store to go skimboarding on a flooded field.

The rising water prevented some students from getting to their dorms, cars and classes. Firefighters provided escorts in some of the more heavily flooded areas.

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

Firefighters performed five rescue operations, the Los Angeles Fire Department said. No injuries were reported.

"Trying to get the cars out was very hectic, it took a long time," said Doug Waters, a third-year economics student. "It was not like a flash flood and it rose immediately, it was more...slowly rising."

The ruptured water main released 9 million gallons of fresh water in the first two hours, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said.

UCLA student Natalie Bautista and her family were unable to get to their family minivan parked in Parking Structure 7 Tuesday night. Her mother Lidia drover from San Bernardino to see her daughter and normally parks in a different structure, but wanted to be close to Pauley Pavilion Tuesday.

"Oh my gosh I just want to go home now," Lidia said.

Bautista's family is staying with her in her Westwood apartment Tuesday night.

The water main was shut down slowly and gradually to prevent shock to the system and further damage.

The surrounding neighborhood was also affected.

"I have no water, and nor do my neighbors. I called a few of them to see what's going on," said Barbara Dobkin, who lives in a neighborhood just west of UCLA.

Water was restored to nearby residents by Tuesday evening.

Details about what caused the water main break were not immediately clear.

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<![CDATA[Jackie Robinson's Relative Dies in South LA Fire]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 06:50:55 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/160*120/BurnedHome_0729.jpg

The brother-in-law of baseball great Jackie Robinson was found dead inside a Los Angeles home with pack rat conditions where firefighters were battling a blaze, officials said Tuesday.

Ray Isum, 90, was pulled from the burning Exposition Park home and later determined to be dead, according to the fire department. 

Family friend Jerome Thompson said Isum had lived in the house his entire life.

Thompson said Isum was a "beautiful person" who always let neighbors know his relation to Robinson.

The single-story home in the 1500 block of West 36th Place was in pack rat-like conditions and did not have any working smoke alarms, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Now when you look at the risk factors in today’s fire, you have a 90-year-old male whose living in a single family residence and they say he doesn't have mobility issues, but at 90 years old it’s not very easy for people just to run out of a house when it’s on fire," said fire department spokesman Capt. Jaime Moore.

"Now, add to that the fact that there is an excessive amount of storage - which compromised the firefighters ability to get in and anybody’s ability to get out - and on top of that you put the fact that there were no smoke alarms evident, you have a lot of risk factors in this fire," Moore said.

One firefighter was injured while battling the fire and suffered burns to his leg. His injuries are not life threatening.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. The man's death is the 16th at a residential fire since the beginning of the year.

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<![CDATA[LA Water Main Break Floods Twitter]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 11:26:51 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/167*120/kenny+holmes+water+rush+ucla.JPG

UCLA students took to social media to share their horror, amazement and even humor as a massive water main break left their campus underwater Tuesday.

"Damn it, L.A. Don't you know California is in a drought?" Kristen Shilton tweeted.

"At least UCLA has a waterfront view?" Mike Roe joked.

"Not worried about the water still flooding out of the sinkhole. I'm worried about what everything's gonna look like after the water clears," Twitter user UCLA_Nation wrote.

"We're practically underwater right now. You can hardly even recognize parts of Campus," they added.

One athlete tweeted that the flood had provided a welcome break from a workout, tweeting, "UCLA flooding saved us from doing 300s."

Scroll down to see more of the tweets, and some of the amazing images users shared.

 

 

 

Live Blog Sunset Blvd. Water Main Break
 



Photo Credit: Kenny Holmes]]>
<![CDATA[Alleged Carjacker's Mom Turns Down $110K Reward]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 12:19:40 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Tioga+Carjacking+Killing+Rosa.jpg

The mother of an alleged carjacker charged with running down three children with a stolen SUV was offered a $110,000 reward for turning her son over to police, but turned the money down, officials tell NBC10.

Police sources and 19-year-old Jonathan Rosa's attorney, Christopher Warren, tell NBC10's Lu Ann Cahn that the man's mother was the person responsible for helping police crack the murder and sexual assault case.

Warren says homicide detectives interviewed Rosa on Saturday after tracking him through his cell phone. The phone was left at the scene of the crash at Germantown and Allegheny Avenues and found by a witness.

The police questioning came a day after he and 23-year-old Cornelius Crawford allegedly carjacked a realtor, sexually assaulted the woman and then sped off with her inside, authorities say. The men lost control of the SUV at the intersection and plowed through a family selling fruit on the corner, police said. The crash killed three siblings, critically injured their mother and a family friend. The realtor was also hurt after the vehicle slammed into a tree.

However, detectives released Rosa after their initial questioning because he said his phone had been stolen, according to Warren. Police had no reason to hold the teen, who did not have a record, the attorney added.

"I don't blame the police for letting him go because he was the last person on Earth you'd think would be involved in this," Warren said.

But after the teen returned home and spoke with his mother, she took him back to police on Sunday to turn himself in. Hours later, Crawford was arrested. By Monday, both men were charged.

"His mom had heard that he had been picked up for questioning and she sat down there and she started talking and by Sunday morning they had the pictures of the three kids in the papers. He saw that, lost it and decided to do the right thing," Warren said.

Homicide Capt. James Clark tells NBC10 that Rosa's mother was offered the $110,000 reward -- one of the largest in the city's history. But Clark said the woman told detectives she wanted nothing to do with the money.

The final decision on who will get the reward lies with Mayor Michael Nutter's office. Detectives will provide the mayor's office with all tipsters' information and then city officials will handle handing out the cash.

Rosa is now under suicide watch in a city prison, sources say. He and Crawford were denied bail and are awaiting a preliminary hearing.



Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Funeral for Victims of Philadelphia Carjacking to Take Place Monday]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 08:03:15 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Carjacking+run+down+Victims+tioga.jpg

A funeral will be held next Monday for the three children who were killed during a carjacking hit-and-run. The announcement was made by family members during a vigil and memorial Tuesday night that was held at the exact same spot where the fatal crash occurred. 

Joseph Thomas Reed, 10, his sister Keiearra Williams, 15, and brother Terrence Moore, 7, were struck and killed Friday when a carjacked SUV plowed into a fruit stand where they were volunteering on a street corner on Germantown and Allegheny Avenues.

The children's mother, 34-year-old Keisha Williams, was critically injured while their neighbor, 65-year-old Thelma Brown, broke an ankle. Family members say Williams, who remains in a coma, still doesn't know that her children were killed.

"There were so many questions that we have no answers to," said Cassandra Alexander, a cousin of the victims. "Our tears seem to never end. Our hearts are completely broken."

The chant of "we are one" and prayers were heard during the rally. The family members of the victims asked that those prayers be repeated by everyone who attended.

"We can't believe this is our new reality," Alexander said. "A nightmare that just won't end. We just can't grasp it."

The crowd also called for change in their community.

"It's time for us to say enough is enough," said Tyema Sanchez, a member of Handbags 4 Peace, a local community group. "We have to start governing our neighborhoods!"

As the rally ended, family and friends released balloons in memory of the three young victims.

"We are humbled by all of your love and support," Alexander said. "Please keep our family in your prayers."

During the rally, family members confirmed that the funeral for the children will take place on Monday at 11 a.m. at the Seventh Day Adventist Church at 16th and Oxford Streets. Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams also announced that NBA legend and former Philadelphia 76er Charles Barkley offered to pay for the funeral expenses.

The two suspects in the deadly carjacking and crash - Cornelius Crawford, 23, and Jonathan Rosa, 19 - were charged Monday with second-degree murder, robbery, carjacking, sexual assault and other offenses. On Tuesday investigators revealed that Rosa's own mother brought her son back to police after they questioned and released him earlier in the weekend.



Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[4 Charged in USC Student's Killing]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 23:12:13 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/usc+student+xinran+ji1.JPG

Four people were charged with capital murder on Tuesday in the beating death of a 24-year-old USC graduate student, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

Jonathan DelCarmen, 19, Andrew Garcia, 18, Alberto Ochoa, 17, and Alejandra Guerrero, 16, are charged with one count each of murder with the special circumstance of murder during an attempted robbery, prosecutors said.

Capital murder charges make Garcia and DelCarmen eligible for the death penalty. Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek that penalty.

Ochoa and Guerrero, who were charged as adults, face life in prison without the possibility of parole, DA's officials said. They are not eligible for the death penalty because they are under 18.

Garcia, Ochoa and Guerrero are also each charged with using a dangerous weapon -- a bat -- to attack Xinran Ji, officials said.

The attack happened July 24 when Ji, an engineering graduate student, was walking home from an off-campus study group about 12:45 a.m. near 29th Street and Orchard Avenue, Los Angeles police said.

Ji was beaten and struck in the head with a bat before he walked back to his apartment in the 1200 block of West 30th Street, leaving a trail of blood, police said.

Ji's roommate found his body about 7 a.m., police said.

After the attack near USC, the suspects allegedly drove to Dockweiler Beach where they allegedly robbed a man and woman. The man managed to escape and flagged down police, officials said.

LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said during a press conference on Monday that the suspects had done "unspeakable things" that "shocked everyone in the department."

Garcia, Ochoa and Guerrero are also charged with second-degree robbery, attempted second-degree robbery and assault with a deadly weapon -- a bat -- in the second incident, DA's officials said.

USC officials said a memorial service was planned for later this week when Ji's parents arrive to the US.

In a statement that was read outside court by a family friend, the victim's parents, Songbo Ji and Jinhui Du, said they are "extremely angry about this horrific act of violence."

"The only thing in our mind is our son. We want to see him. We would be extremely grateful to the U.S. if they can help us to get visas," the man's parents said in the written statement, noting that they have been forced to cancel airline tickets several times because of delays in obtaining their visas.

The victim's parents added that they "do not want to see another incident like this" and said they "hope that USC can enhance security and guarantee the safety of USC students."

Ji's killing marked the second deadly attack on USC graduate students from China in recent years.

Ying Wu and Ming Qu -- who were also engineering students and were both 23 years old -- were shot to death April 11, 2012, as they sat in a double-parked car on a rainy night in the 2700 block of Raymond Avenue, near the USC campus.

One of two men charged in their killings pleaded guilty Feb. 5 to a pair of first-degree murder charges and admitted the special circumstance allegations of murder during the commission of a robbery and multiple murders, along with an allegation of personally using and discharging a firearm.

Bryan Barnes, then 21, was immediately sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, sparing him a potential death sentence. Co-defendant Javier Bolden, 21, is still awaiting trial in connection with the killings.

City News Service contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Xinran Ji/LinkedIn]]>
<![CDATA[NYC Elevator Attack Caught on Video]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 07:03:38 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/elevator+robbery+bk.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- Gus Rosendale contributed to this report

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<![CDATA[Long Island Mom Stabbed 20 Times by Boyfriend: DA]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 10:06:56 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/monica+lino+charles+pray.jpg

Prosecutors say a Long Island man stabbed his girlfriend more than 20 times during a fight at her home.

Charles Pray of Bay Shore was being held without bail Tuesday. He is charged with second-degree murder.

Police say Monica Lino was found dead Sunday in her home in Farmingville.

The 34-year-old Pray, who worked as a cook and had a minor criminal record, gave a videotaped confession to detectives. But defense attorney Steven Politi told reporters his client had been attacked by Lino, and says Pray suffered stab wounds to his hand, arms and upper torso.

Lino's neighbors didn't buy it. They say the 36-year-old mother of two was recovering from a motorcycle crash that left her incapacitated for days.

"She was on crutches, she was all messed up," said Carolyn Hughes, a tenant of Lino. "She couldn't even defend herself if she wanted to." 

Hughes said Pray had been seeing Lino for about two months.

Lino's 9- and 12-year-old children were not at home; they have been spending the summer with family in Portugal, relatives said.

A Volkswagen Jetta registered to Lino was found by Suffolk County homicide detectives in Merrick, more than 35 miles from her home.

Her aunt wept outside court Tuesday after hearing how her niece died. 

"I'm very upset. They killed my niece," she said. 

 -- Greg Cergol contributed to this report. 

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<![CDATA[Man in Md. Steals $2.8M in Carts From Postal Service]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 05:37:38 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/tlmd_gavel_shutterstock_120159574.jpg

A Maryland man admitted stealing more than 2,000 aluminum carts from the U.S. Postal Service, which cost more than $2.8 million to replace.

Roland Michael Muir, 57, of Glen Burnie, pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing the metal "over-the-road" containers from two bulk mail centers in Capitol Heights.

Another man, 52-year-old Aaron Kevin Howard, accompanied Muir during the thefts, which typically happened between midnight and 2 a.m., officials said.

Muir worked for a private mailer company in Baltimore and drove his employer's box truck to the mail centers to steal the containers and take them to a warehouse where the men used spray paint to cover the U.S. Postal Service labels, authorities said.

Over a span of four years they sold the carts to metal recyclers at scrap value for $323,175 in cash, authorities said.

The case highlights the financial strain metal thefts place on businesses that is often passed on to the county's residents, Anne Arundel County Police Chief Kevin Davis said.

"Many citizens across Anne Arundel County and the region are unaware of the impact that metal thefts have on our community," he said.

Howard pleaded not guilty to his charges in May and is scheduled for trial in September.

Muir faces five years in prison for the conspiracy charge and 10 years in prison for a theft charge. His sentencing his scheduled for October.

It’s not immediately clear if Muir has an attorney.

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<![CDATA[Family of Man Killed in Sucker-Punch Attack Stunned by Suspect's Charge]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 12:31:16 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/sucker+punch.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

Romero died June 24.

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

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

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

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

Attorney information for the suspect wasn't immediately available.

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

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

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



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[2-Year-Old Double Amputee Still "Got It" After Viral Success]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 12:51:38 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/new-KAYDEN_KINKLE1_t580.jpg

When 2-year-old Kayden Kinckle took his first steps on prosthetic legs, he didn’t want help.

“I got it, I got it, I got it,” Kayden said with each step. A YouTube video documenting the milestone for the Englewood, New Jersey, kid's family and friends has since been viewed more than 800,000 times. 

His parents say he has always been this confident despite doctors' doubts. 

"If he wants something, he will get it and that could be good sometimes and bad sometimes," Kayden's father, Kevin Kinckle, told NBC. "He's always been a warrior." 

Kayden was diagnosed in utereo with omphalocelea, a birth defect in the abdominal wall that causes an infant’s intestines, liver and some other organs to grow outside the body. Kayden also had a band wrapped around his legs in the womb — causing deformities that required him to have his left leg and right foot amputated in January. One out of 7,000 children are born with opmhalocelea, and nearly half of all babies born with opmhalocelea also have other birth defects, according to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. 

The numbers of children living without limbs are unclear because of doctor's confidentiality agreements, according to the Amputee Coalition. Nearly 2 million people across the United States have limb loss.

Kayden's mother Nikki Kinckle said doctors had advised her to consider whether to carry her baby to term. She said the suggestion didn't make her angry, because it was a "fact" that her baby would face serious challenges. 

"The nurse asked me if my house was wheelchair-accessible, and that was hard," Nikki said.

The proud parents have received a volley of messages online from people who have been inspired by Kayden's can-do attitude and charisma. NFL athlete Michael Vick shared Kayden’s video with the caption, “Luke 1:37- For with God nothing shall be impossible… 'I got it, I got it' lol.” Vick's post contributed to the video going viral around the Fourth of July. Messages of support have included those from other amputees, cancer patients and people who are paralyzed, his mother said. 

Kayden still uses his walker but insists on independence, his father said. The fiery 2-year-old is antsy to stay off the couch. He crawls "very well" without his prosthetics and loves playing basketball with his parents. Kayden even tries to teach his 9-month-old sister, Cherish, how to crawl. After the surgery in January, Kayden still didn't slow down.

"The day after the surgery, he was shooting baskets with me and his mother," Kevin Kinckle said.

The family continues to raise money on GoFundMe.com, which had $73,839 donations as of July 29. The family's first goal was $50,000 to cover past medical expenses such as the surgery and his first pair of prosthetics. After Kayden's viral video success, the couple pushed the goal to $500,000.

"We were made aware that prosthetics are an ongoing thing for life, physical therapy is once a week. He may need more walkers or crutches as he gets olders and his weight changes," Kevin Kinckle said. "We need to adjust as he grows and as technology grows we want the top-of-the-line stuff for him."

The couple talks about Kayden's future all the time. They feel Kayden has proven that he can do anything.

"He is a face of adversity," Kevin Kinckle said. "Whatever he wants to do, we are confident he can do it, whether it's a lawyer or doctor or athlete." 



Photo Credit: Nikki and Kevin Kinckle]]>
<![CDATA[CA Vet's Roommate Guilty of Murder]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 18:57:14 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/ramosmissing.jpg

Jurors on Tuesday convicted a Southern California man of second-degree murder in the slaying of his former roommate, an Army veteran and Cal State Fullerton student with whom prosecutors said he was desperately in love.

Kwang Choi "KC" Joy, 55, was found guilty in the death of 36-year-old Maribel Ramos, whose body was found badly decomposed near Modjeska Canyon in the Santa Ana Mountains last year.

Joy's sentencing was scheduled for Sept. 12. He faces 15 years to life in state prison.

Prosecutors said Joy got surgery to make his eyes look younger, paid to take Ramos on a cruise, and panicked when she told him to move out of their apartment when he couldn't pay the rent.

"Maribel was his life, and the opportunity for him to be with the love of his life was coming to an end," Orange County Deputy District Attorney Scott Simmons told the jury last week.

Ramos was last seen through surveillance footage, dropping off a rent check for her apartment in Orange on May 2, 2013, officials said.

She got into an argument earlier that day with Joy over rent, prosecutors said. They contended that the fighting, and Ramos' demand that Joy move out, led to her slaying.

When Ramos disappeared, Joy told NBC4 that Ramos was his "only family."

"She's my best friend, and I want her to come back," he said.

Her decomposed body was found later that month near Modjeska Canyon in the Santa Ana Mountains, prosecutors said. Her cause of death has remained unknown.

Eleven days before her disappearance, Ramos made a 911 call, saying she was "afraid" after an argument with Joy.

Earlier in the trial, Simmons showed video of Joy walking into a public library. His search history there showed that he looked up how long it takes for a human body to decay, and the location where Ramos' body was later found, prosecutors said.



Photo Credit: Orange Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Feeling the Pain of Lightning Strikes, Again and Again]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 08:38:16 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/72814+Lightning.jpg

Jeryll Hadley and a friend were trying to set up a tent over a campfire along California’s Gualala River 25 years ago, their hands on the metal center pole, when lightning struck the tree next to them, throwing them about 30 feet apart.

Both still standing, they looked at each other and he said, “’I think we’ve been zapped,’” she said. “The only thing I remembered during the event was my left hand, the one on the pole, was neon blue.”

“Of course I heard the loud noise, but it just felt like an implosion, very strange,” she said. “But other than that I didn’t feel anything and we went on through our camping trip.” 

Hadley, 67, of Ukiah, California, was left with burn marks on her throat and forehead, she said. Only later did she start having terrible pains in her shoulders, short-term memory loss, and a new anger that once led her to throw a wooden salt shaker at her first husband.

“That is not me,” she said.

On Sunday, a 20-year-old man from Los Angeles, Nick Fagnano, was killed and eight others hospitalized after a rare lightning storm on the beach in Venice.

“Those people that got hit, their life is going to be much different, I hate to say,” said Sandra Hardy, another California woman who survived a lightning strike. “It isn’t a one-time event.”

Sixteen people have been killed by lightning across the United States this year, according to the National Weather Service. Six of the deaths were in Florida, two in Colorado, and the others in Texas, New Mexico, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Mississippi and Georgia.

About 10 percent of those who are struck die. Survivors, who primarily suffer from an injury to the nervous system, can have symptoms ranging from mild confusion and dizziness to long-term problems processing new information, chronic pain form nerve damage and depression.

Hadley did not start attributing her symptoms to the lightning strike until attending a conference with survivors. She is now on medication for her anger, sometimes garbles her speech and said that a doctor once compared her experience to an electric lobotomy. On the other hand, all symptoms of polycystic kidney disease that she had have disappeared, she said.

“For the most part I’m living a normal life,” she said.

Last year was a record low for lightning fatalities. Twenty-three people died, fewer than in any other year on record, data from the National Weather Service showed. That contrasted with the 432 people killed in 1943, the deadliest year.

Officials attribute the drop to a variety of factors, from better lightning protection to fewer corded phones to more awareness among emergency medical providers and advances in medical treatment. CPR and defibrillators are keeping people alive, said John Jensenius, a lightning safety specialist with the National Weather Service.

"We feel very glad that we've brought the number down but there's still many people out there that are unnecessarily either killed or injured by lightning," Jensenius said. "If they would just simply follow the simple guidelines, if you hear thunder you need to be inside, the simple saying, 'When thunder roars, go indoors,' there would be many more lives that would be saved and fewer injuries."

More than 9,200 people have been killed by lightning in the United States since 1940, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration began keeping records, NBC News reported. In the last 30 years, there have been 51 deaths on average each year.

The ground current is what kills or injures most people, Jensenius said.

"When lightning strikes a point, it doesn't disappear deep into the ground, it spreads out along the ground surface," he said.

Hardy, now 70, was driving home from California’s Mammoth Mountain in June 1998, when she got caught in a heavy rainstorm in Owens Valley.

“I could see the lightning strikes coming down on the ground, coming straight down, it was a heavy, heavy rainstorm, so I took off my watch, took off my glasses, I took the collar off my dog,” she said.

A lightning strike hit power lines at the side of the road and her car, she said.

“It just paralyzed me,” she said. “It killed the engine to the car and the car just rolled off to the side and I couldn’t really move or anything and a motorist came up behind me right away and he’s pounding on my door to open up the door.”

Hardy, who was a facilities manager for the Los Angeles County schools, could barely talk or remember how to get home and her kidneys were hurting her, she said.

“From that day on my body started to deteriorate,” she said.

Hardy, of Manhattan Beach, developed problems with her hearing, her vision, her bladder, her memory and by October of 2002, had acute symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.

Her dog survived a year, but died after developing tumors, she said.

“The myth that you’re safe in a car, it should be corrected,” she said. “It’s not going to kill you but you’re not safe.”

The conference that Hadley attended was organized by Steve Marshburn, who was himself struck in 1969 in Swansboro, North Carolina, when lightning hit the drive-through window of the bank where he worked. He was sitting inside and it broke his back, he said. Other injuries became evident over the years, he said.

At the time there was little information for lightning strike survivors, but since then he has formed a group, Lightning Strike and Electric Shock Survivors.

“There is help out there,” he said.

 



Photo Credit: Joey]]>
<![CDATA[2 Killed in Convertible Crash]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 15:29:08 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/randolph+nj+crash+2+killed.jpg

Two New Jersey high school football players riding in the back of a friend's Mustang convertible were killed in a crash in Randolph Saturday, authorities say. 

Jack Timmerman and Calvin Verduga, who were about to enter their senior year at Randolph High School, were riding in the back of the new car when the driver crashed near on Ironia Road around 1:30 p.m., according to the Morris County prosecutor's office.

The driver and a front-seat passenger survived. 

Friends said Monday that the driver got his license last month and had only been driving the car for a few days prior to the accident. It's not clear what caused the crash, but teens gathered at the crash site said they believed the driver was speeding. 

Timmerman's girlfriend said he often told friends to slow down.

"I know that he doesn't like fast driving. Never has," said Kerry Eberly, in tears as she wore a necklace bearing his name. 

Timmerman's last words to Eberly, whom he'd been dating since eighth grade, came in a text message just before the crash: "Driving in a roofless convertible." 

The school district's superintendent opened Randolph High School Monday to make counseling services available to students. 

"Our entire school community is in mourning and our thoughts are most certainly with the families and friends of the two students, beloved by so many," Superintendent David Browne said in a statement. 

Grieving friends gathered at the crash site Monday and left photos and messages for Timmerman and Verduga. 

Football teammate Brad Davis said, "They always cared for everyone and they always wanted our school to come together as one."

"Everyone had a different connection with them," added friend Jacqueline Zolla. "I don't know how this will work when school starts. It's going to be really hard." 

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<![CDATA[Women OK After Train Rolls Over Them]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 12:35:31 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/indiana-railroad.jpg 7/29/14: An engineer thought he killed two people who dropped down on the tracks right in front of his train, but in what some are calling a miracle, they survived. Reporter David MacAnally from NBC station WTHR in Indianapolis reports.

Photo Credit: WTHR Indianapolis]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Caught in Rip Current After Saving Friends: Witnesses]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 11:45:05 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/paul+alimoren+drowning+victim.PNG

A Southern California teen who drowned Saturday was trying to save two friends from a dangerous rip current when he was swept out to sea, witnesses said.

Eighteen-year-old Pomona resident Paul Alimoren was on a beach trip in the state of Washington when he and seven other members of a church group were caught in a rip current while swimming in Ocean Shores around 8 p.m.

According to police, five of the members reached the shore relatively easily. Two others suffered exhaustion and possible ingestion of sea water.

Witnesses said Alimoren helped two of his friends to shore before being swept out again. He was last seen around 8:30 p.m. Saturday, about a half a mile south of where he first entered the water, police said.

Emergency crews searched the area for several hours Saturday and Sunday, but were not able to find Alimoren. As of Sunday afternoon, Alimoren was declared dead and the rescue effort has now become a recovery effort, according to the Facebook page of Philip Alimoren, Paul Alimoren’s brother.

"On behalf of my family, I thank you for your prayers and thoughts concerning this trying time," Philip Alimoren said in a Facebook post. "My brother has touched lives, and I can say that he died serving His Savior on the mission field."

As of Monday evening, the body of Paul Alimoren had not been recovered.

According to Paul Alimoren’s Facebook page, he began studying at Cal State Fullerton last August. 

Ocean Shores is approximately 130 miles from Seattle. According to Ocean Shores Police, it had been a few years since there was a drowning in the area.

Ryan Bourgard contributed to this report.

 

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