<![CDATA[NBC 10 Philadelphia - National & International News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/national-international http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC10_40x125.png NBC 10 Philadelphia http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com en-us Tue, 04 Aug 2015 18:09:23 -0400 Tue, 04 Aug 2015 18:09:23 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Suicides in Local Jails on the Rise: Report]]> Tue, 04 Aug 2015 17:00:38 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/sb10062143p-001.jpg

On the day that Sandra Bland’s family filed a federal lawsuit over what officials say was her suicide in a Texas jail, a report released Tuesday shows the number of suicides continuing to rise in local jails.

The report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Mortality in Local Jails and State Prisons, 2000 - 2013,” found that the number of suicides in local jails increased from 300 in 2012 to 327 in 2013.

Suicide was the leading cause of deaths in jails, up 12 percent since 2009 and accounting for 34 percent of deaths in 2013.

The report also found that overall the number of inmates who died in jails and state prisons rose for the third straight year — 4,446 in 2013, up 131 deaths from the year before. The total was the highest number reported since 2007.

Most jails, 80 percent, reported no deaths in 2013. Nearly a quarter of all deaths among jail inmates, 23 percent, occurred in Texas and California, which had the largest state and federal prison populations.

Paul Wright, the executive director of the Human Rights Defense Center in Lake Worth, Florida, which advocates on criminal justice topics, said there were no surprises in the numbers.

“Barring any change in our sentencing practices, and also in our medical and mental-health care, these numbers are only going to go up,” said Wright, a former prisoner himself.

Approximately 2.2 million people were incarcerated in jails and prisons in the United States in 2013, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Bland, 28, was found dead in her cell in Waller County on July 13 and officials say she hanged herself with a plastic trash can liner. The Texas Commission on Jail Standards criticized the Waller County Jail for insufficient training.

Bland’s family is suing the state trooper, Brian Encinia, who pulled her over, and others they say are responsible for her death. Encinia has been placed on administrative duties after he was found to have violated procedures regarding traffic stops.

Eric Balaban, senior staff counsel with the ACLU’s National Prison Project, said that to reduce suicides, jails must operate like a large emergency room, with a system to identify prisoners who are at risk, to monitor them and to provide them with adequate care.

“And all of these things must occur very quickly because the risk of suicide is higher at intake and during the first week of incarceration than later in incarceration in a jail setting,” he said.

Ayesha Delany-Brumsey, a senior research associate at the Vera Institute of Justice, said jails can take a number of steps to reduce the number of suicides — from screening prisoners throughout their stay using trained mental-health professionals to forming relationships with community-health providers who might already know the inmates.

“So that if someone’s on medication or someone’s known to be chronically suicidal that that information can get passed on quickly — of course with the person’s consent — but so that the jail staff knows when the person enters that they have someone who they need to pay attention to,” she said.

The number of deaths in jails as a result of drug or alcohol intoxication, accidents and homicides also rose. Homicides and accidental deaths were less common, accounting for 3 percent or less of deaths in jails in 2013, according to the report. Illness-related deaths declined.

The typical jail inmate who died was a white male 35 years old or older and in custody for fewer than seven days.

As far as deaths in state prisons, Texas and California again led with nearly a quarter. Every state department of corrections reported at least one death.

The number of deaths was up 122 from 2012 to 2013. About 90 percent were related to illness, with about half a result of cancer or heart diseases. The number from liver disease, the third leading cause, declined.

Suicides accounted for 6 percent of the deaths; homicides for 3 percent.

Also: the percentage of those who died who were 55 or older has increased by an average of 5 percent a year since 2001 and although the average mortality rate for men and women was nearly equal, the suicide mortality rate among males was 1.5 times the rate for females.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Father Daughter IDed in Tent Collap]]> Tue, 04 Aug 2015 17:48:36 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/lancaster+fairgrounds+tent+collapse+victims+new+hampshire.jpg

Survivors of a New Hampshire circus tent collapse that killed a 41-year-old father and his 8-year-old daughter described the experience as the most terrifying moment of their lives. 

Robert Young of Concord, Vermont, and his daughter Annabelle were hit by collapsing tent infrastructure, including pipes, when a storm with 75-mph winds tore through the Lancaster Fairgrounds in New Hampshire Monday. The National Weather Service is characterizing the weather pattern a microburst.

New Hampshire State Fire Marshal J. William Degnan Tuesday said no authorities were involved in setting up the tent and that organizers did not obtain a "place of assembly" permit. Degnan said he is investigating the cause of the tent collapse, and looking into statutes that pertain to not obtaining a proper permit. 

As the investigation continues, survivors are sharing harrowing stories about how they escaped from the structure. 

Briana Shannon, who took 3-year-old Karter Shannon to the circus Monday, described a perfect start to the night, with a pony ride and some carnival snacks for the toddler. Shannon dragged her sister Gabrielle Lepine along, too. 

It was Lepine who saved little Karter's life when the tent came crashing down around 5:45 p.m.

"As it started shaking, she [Lepine] said, 'we should run,'" Shannon said.

"I grabbed her son, picked him up, and started running," said Shannon's sister Gabrielle Lepine. "It landed on top of us, and we fell flat.

Lepine and Shannon thought it was the end for their family.

Lepine was hit the head by a pole — a pole she says that would've hit her nephew Karter. Lepine suffered a neck injury and a minor concussion. She is expected to make a full recovery. 

"There is no way possible way that pole wouldn't have killed him," Shannon said through tears.

Within minutes, people started making a tunnel for them to escape the collapsed tent, and then they say it was pure panic in the gusting wind and hail.

"It was chaotic, everybody was running and screaming, there were lots of kids screaming," Lepine said.

After a night at the hospital, the sisters have a whole new perspective on life.

"Relief, thinking it could've been us and my children, I feel bad saying that because I do feel bad for the people who died, but I am so thankful that we were all okay," Shannon said.

"It's something I will have with me for the rest of my life," Lepine said.

Like many victims, little Karter is having a difficult time coping with the tragedy.

Shannon said he woke up Tuesday morning telling his parents that the "circus came crashing down" on him.

Shannon and Lepine say they are taking him to another circus soon in hopes of erasing this memory and making new ones.

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[NYC Gunshot Victim Loses Pregnancy in Drive-By Shooting: Sources]]> Tue, 04 Aug 2015 16:29:13 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/red+hook+shooting+david+torres.jpg

A pregnant woman was shot five times and her unborn baby was killed after a drive-by shooting in Brooklyn Monday night that injured four other people, police sources tell NBC 4 New York.

The four-months pregnant woman, 19, was standing in front of a housing project on Dwight Street with two other women and two men when someone in a passing SUV opened fire at them, the sources say.

The pregnant woman was critically injured in the shooting, according to the police sources. One of her companions, a 20-year-old man, was hit seven times in the body, authorities said.

The woman is expected to survive. 

Another 19-year-old woman was also shot five times, while the remaining two victims were shot in the legs. All five victims were taken to nearby hospitals.

The SUV drove off after the shooting.

Police sources say the violence is thought to stem from a rivalry between residents of two housing projects in the neighborhood. Police are looking for two suspects.

"It's shocking," said neighbor Tamira Hoynes. "This is the first incident I've heard of in, like, ages." 

The drive-by comes after another shooting on Sunday.

Three died and 16 were wounded in seven separate shootings across the city over the weekend, including one shooting in which nine people were shot during a backyard party in East New York.

On Monday, community activists took a coffin to Brooklyn Borough Hall in protest of the seeming rise in gun violence.

"I think that's crazy, it's happening all around the city, shootings everywhere," said Denise Morales, of East New York.

Brooklyn Borough Hall President Eric Adams joined the protesters, speaking about the need to reduce gun violence.

"Our children deserve to live," he said. "Our adults deserve to live. All lives matter."

Mayor de Blasio's office, however, says crime is actually down and that the number of shooting incidents has dropped slightly from 674 last year to 669 this year. 

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton urged New Yorkers to put the Monday night shooting in context, saying Tuesday: "What we've been experiencing is far less than every other city."

He added that crime is down 6 percent for the year. Murders are up 9 percent, he said, but a recent batch of shootings are almost all clustered in Brooklyn and the Bronx. The gunman wanted in the Monday shooting, like those in the East New York house party shootings, are repeat offenders.

"They are the shooters committing these murders," Bratton said. 

--Andrew Siff contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: David Torres]]>
<![CDATA[Caught on Camera: Customer Berated for Speaking Spanish at IHOP]]> Tue, 04 Aug 2015 14:13:15 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/216*120/08-04-2015-woman-rant-spanish-ihop.jpg

Norma Vasquez said she felt "awful" and "worthless" after she was berated by another customer for speaking Spanish in a confrontation caught on camera at a Southern California IHOP.

Her son, Carlos Vasquez, captured the three-minute rant on video Friday at the restaurant west of downtown Los Angeles. The clash began when a woman in large, dark sunglasses interrupted his mother, who was speaking Spanish, as they waited for a table, Vasquez said.

"We speak English in America," the woman can be heard saying.

"I speak English. Not good, but I speak English," Vasquez's mother responded.

The unidentified woman can be heard telling Vasquez's mother to "go back to Spain." Norma Vasquez came to the United States from El Salvador in 1984.

"Spanish is from Spain," the woman said. "I've been to Spain, so I know."

The IHOP visit was an early birthday present for Vasquez from his mother. Carlos Vasquez can be heard repeatedly telling the woman she should not tell his mother she must speak English.

"Inside, I wasn't upset," Vasquez said Monday. "I got more upset when my mom started to cry. It wasn't fair for my mom to cry to a stranger just because my mom was speaking Spanish."

The woman eventually turned her full attention to Carlos Vasquez and the fiery exchange continued with the woman asking, "Do you want the Russians over here telling you what to do? Do you want the Nazis telling you what to do?"

"That's what you're doing to my mom," he responded. "You're telling her what to do. She speaks English. She's not perfect, but she speaks English."

Vasquez, whose family lives in Highland Park, said he was surprised by the woman's furor.

"This is Los Angeles," he said. "Even the name of the city is in Spanish. She shouldn't be mad or interrupting families for whatever language they're speaking."

"I felt awful, as though I was worthless," Norma Vasquez, who works for an office cleaning service, told NBC4.

Vasquez shared the video on his Facebook page. As of Monday morning, the video had 14 million views and 423,000 shares.

NBC4 and Telemundo52 have attempted to contact IHOP management for comment, but have yet to receive a response.

Photo Credit: Carlos Vasquez]]>
<![CDATA['Easy Transition': Older Pets Become Instant Companions ]]> Tue, 04 Aug 2015 10:01:37 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Captain_Reynolds.jpg

Alba and Steven King never thought of adopting a cat — they'd always wanted a dog — so it certainly never crossed their mind to adopt an older feline companion.

But when they went to a New York City shelter in November to check on a sick stray they had brought in a few days earlier, they ended up taking home a 10-year-old cat who meowed his way into their hearts.

“When we walked in the room where there was a wall of cages, he came over to the door of his cage and was meowing at us”, Alba King, 27, said of the cat. “He was the only one trying to get our attention." 

The couple felt an immediate connection with Andrew, whom they renamed Captain Reynolds after a character in a TV series “Firefly,” and knew their apartment in Queens allowed the pets. But when King found out the cat was 10, she immediately called her mom and brother to get their opinion on adopting an older cat.

“The first thing they said to me was ‘why are you getting an old pet?’ That’s what everyone said to me,” she said.

King worried, too, that Captain Reynolds might get sick soon and die next year. But the staff at Animal Care Centers of NYC in Brooklyn put her at ease and explained that a cat’s life expectancy is 15 to 20 years.

“I looked at him and then I realized that kittens are a lot of work, they are very playful and they change when they grow up, whereas with Captain Reynolds, what I was seeing is what I was getting,” said King.

Animal shelters across the U.S. are filled with healthy older dogs and cats in need of a home. Animal care professional urge those thinking about picking up a pet from a local shelter to not look past older cats and dogs because they need families, too. 

“Unfortunately, the older animals and seniors are often overlooked because people are excited to adopt puppies and kittens,” said Jessica Vaccaro, adoption manager at Animal Care Centers of NYC, which takes in more than 30,000 animals each year. “We hope to encourage people to come and see these wonderful, mature animals-- animals that are often already trained, often used to living in a household.”

Adopting an older pet is as practical as it is gratifying, experts say. There are fewer surprises with older pets because you’ll know their full-grown size, personality and grooming needs. They are often already trained and calmer than youngsters.

Older dogs are not necessarily “problem dogs” — they can end up at the shelter for a number of reasons, including their owner going through a job loss or move. 

Elizabeth Hendrix, 67, of Manhattan, had been considering adopting a dog when her granddaughter sent her a photo of 13-year-old Max, a 91-pound Swiss mountain mix who ended up at the Animal Care Centers of NYC in Harlem because his owner was unable to care for him. Hendrix went to meet Max in mid-July and brought him home the same day after he refused to go back in his cage at the shelter.

“He had a very sad look in his eyes, like 'why am I here?'” said Hendrix, who already has a 3-year-old terrier mix named Molly. “I couldn’t see him being euthanized; he needed to live out his final days as comfortable and as loved as possible.”

Hendrix said the benefit of adopting an older pet is that “they already have all their little problems out of the way: they’re already trained, house broken, they don’t chew things up."

"The main thing is they just need to be loved,” she added.

She said less than one week after the adoption, Max became her instant companion. He follows her everywhere she goes.

Not all senior pets are so lucky when it comes to finding home. Cherie Wachter, vice president of marketing at the Humane Society of Broward County in Florida, said puppies and kittens there get adopted very quickly, but older pets linger in the shelter for weeks.

In early June, she had two 7-year-old-dogs, a little dog named Nacho and a shepherd mix named Roxy, available for adoption. She said they lived in the same household and are very attached, so they’d have to be adopted together. No one had expressed any interest at that time, even though they are potty trained.

Wachter said people looking for pets often don’t realize how much work and patience little puppies require. 

"I wish more people opened up their hearts and homes to mature pets,” she said.

Emily Huetson, animal welfare director at On Angel’s Wings in Crystal Lake, Illinois, also finds that older pets are a better fit for many families. She said qualities more typical of older animals, such as a calm demeanor and less destructive nature, often come up when the shelter asks potential puppy owners what qualities they are looking for in a pet.

"What they want is the qualities we have in our 8-year-old dogs," Huetson said.

She said the shelter encourages families with young children and seniors to adopt older pets since they are already trained. In addition to providing information about the dog's personality and history, she encourages families and children to meet and interact with the seniors pets. 

"They just kind of sit there with sad eyes,"  said Huetson. "They don’t know why they're in the cage."

Many potential pet owners are worried that adopting an older pet can mean high vet bills, but experts say that is not always the case. Sometimes a shelter will have medical records that can help owners make an informed decision about possible health issues. Either way, experts recommend a full vet visit -- including a geriatric workup -- soon after the adoption is complete. 

King learned that Captain Reynolds was allergic to some foods, so he’s on a special diet now that does cost a little more every month. He also had to have 16 of his teeth taken out because he spent so many years as a street cat without dental care and is now left with only one fang. King discussed the potential costs of teeth extraction with a vet and, since it wasn't a life-threatening condition, she was able to save up for a few months to cover the $373 bill. She said a kitten “could’ve grown up to have the same problems just maybe a little later.”

At Operation Kindness in Carrollton, Texas, a permanent foster care program eliminates concerns over vet bills. Anyone who adopts an older pet form the shelter can return there to get medical care for their pet for free, according to CEO Jim Hanophy.

“That takes worry off the table for some people,” he said. “People underestimate the length of time an animal can live. If an animal is healthy when they are 12 they will probably be healthy till the end."

For King, Captain Reynolds’ age is just a number and she said from now on she’ll  adopt older pets.

“It was such an easy transition,” King said. "He’s just really relaxed, he’ll take a nap on a couch, he’ll take a nap on a windowsill. I didn’t have to turn my life upside down to have a companion.”

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<![CDATA[3-Year-Old Accidentally Shoots Self in Head, Mother Says]]> Tue, 04 Aug 2015 17:34:22 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/080415+darnal+mundy+toddler+shot+miami.jpg

A 3-year-old child is in critical condition after reportedly accidentally shooting himself in the head as his parents slept, his mother said.

The toddler's mother, Dorphise Jean, told NBC South Florida that her son, Darnal Mundy, got a chair and climbed into a drawer where she kept a loaded gun. She and the boy's father were asleep at the time. She believes her son may have been looking for his iPad to play with.

"I love you Darnal, please stay with me," Jean said. "He's all I got."

The incident occurred around 6 a.m. Tuesday inside an apartment located in the 100 block of Northeast 71st Street in Miami, said a Miami Police Department representative.

The department is investigating the shooting, and has not made it clear yet whether they believe Darnal actually shot himself.

The mother told NBC 6 that she works as a security guard, but kept the gun in the house for safety reasons.

When asked whether the drawer was locked, Jean responded, "No, it's a drawer. It's drawer." She also said the gun was in a place that was eight drawers high.

She said she and the child's father were woken up by the loud bang. They found Darnal with a gunshot wound to the head and rushed the child to Jackson Memorial Hospital, even crashing into a car along the way.

The mother indicated the boy was alert and crying all the way to the hospital. The child was listed in critical condition.

"He's my only baby, please," Dorphise Jean pleaded. "I prayed to God all day."

The hospital called police once Darnal arrived where he was rushed into surgery, police said.

"Right now it's a very fresh investigation. We're still trying ascertain who was there and figure out how this child shot himself or who shot him," a Miami Police Department representative explained.

There's no word yet on whether the parents will face any charges.

This is a developing story and will be updated as new information becomes available.

Photo Credit: Family Photo]]>
<![CDATA[Sandra Bland's Family Files Lawsuit]]> Tue, 04 Aug 2015 18:00:47 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/180*120/sandra_bland_5_0d94fc2cb66771514770db7b47a5bbab.nbcnews-fp-1200-800.jpg

The family of Sandra Bland filed a lawsuit against the trooper who arrested her and others they say are responsible for the suburban Chicago woman’s death in a Texas jail cell.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday at the federal courthouse in Houston against Trooper Brian Encinia and “others responsible for the death of Sandra Bland,” including the Waller County Sheriff's office and two guards at the jail, according to the family’s attorney.

"The reason we filed a lawsuit today is because candidly we were unable to get any of the answers that we have been asking for for weeks," said attorney Cannon Lambert. "We are looking to hold the people accountable for her being stopped, and mistreated and who are ultimately responsible for her death."

Bland, a 28-year-old Chicago-area woman, was found dead in her Waller County jail cell on July 13, three days after her arrest. Officials say she used a plastic bag to hang herself, a finding her family has questioned.

"I am still confident in the fact that [Sandra] knew enough about Jesus that she would not take herself out," said Bland's mother Geneva Reed-Veal. "Anything is possible, I wasn't there, but as a mother my inner is telling me that she did not do it. I am the first to tell you that if the facts show without a doubt that that was the case, I’ll have to be prepared to deal with that, but the bottom line is she never should have been inside of the jail."

Lambert said the family, despite their attempts to obtain information, has not yet received details like Bland's time of death or police reports that were filed.

"I don't think it's unreasonable that we be seeking these things," he said. "Those are the types of things that we need in order for our independent investigation to be complete."

Bland's family and others have criticized Encinia, who stopped Bland for failing to signal a lane change. The family on Tuesday called for him to be "relieved" of his duties.

"We know that this type of thing can be done, that he can be relieved," Lambert said. "We're asking for bold, decisive action and that has not happened."

Dashcam video released by officials showed a confrontation between Bland and Encinia swiftly escalated after she objected to being told to put out her cigarette. Encinia at one point is seen holding a stun gun as he says, "I will light you up!" after Bland refuses to get out of her car. Bland, who was black, eventually was arrested for allegedly assaulting the white trooper.

Texas authorities said that Encinia violated procedures and the department's courtesy policy during the traffic stop and was placed on administrative leave.

"I've watched the video once and I will not watch it again," said Reed-Veal. "Anger, disgust, disappointment and sadness-- those are my feelings. I have chosen to channel those feelings in another way... Justice is going to be served, if the justice system will do what it's supposed to."

Some Texas politicians, including state Sen. Royce West, have said that Bland should not have been arrested in the first place.

Bland's death came after nearly a year of heightened national scrutiny of police and their dealings with black suspects, especially those who have been killed by officers or die in police custody.

"I have many people around me who are very angry and it’s rightfully so but we’re going to channel this the right way," said Reed-Veal.

According to his personnel file, Encinia was selected for the Trooper Trainee Academy in December 2013, joined the Department of Public Safety in June 2014 as a probationary trooper and completed his probation in June 2015, becoming a Highway Patrol trooper.

An initial toxicology report was released for Bland that two experts said raised the possibility that she may have used marijuana while in custody. Prosecutor Warren Diepraam has said information on her marijuana use may be relevant to the case in determining her state of mind.

A committee of outside attorneys will assist Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis in investigating Bland's death.

"I don't know if we'll ever get an answer to all the questions," said attorney Lewis White of Sugar Land, one of the committee members. "But our job is to get answers. There are going to be answers some people don't like."

The Texas Rangers and the FBI are investigating the case.

"We have a young lady who was on her way to get groceries," said Bland's sister Sharon Cooper. "She ends up jailed, she ends up dying in police custody. We are three weeks out from her death, we are a week out from burying her and we still don't know what happened to her."

<![CDATA[Teen Worker Found Dead After Silo Collapse in Virginia]]> Tue, 04 Aug 2015 18:02:27 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/2015-08-04_0730.jpg

The worker killed after a silo collapsed early Monday at a quarry in Northern Virginia has been identified. 

Daniel Potter, 18, of Front Royal, Va., was killed, the Mine Safety and Health Administration said Tuesday evening. 

Potter was unloading mineral filler, a fine, dust-line substance used in asphalt, from a silo before 6:30 a.m. Monday when that silo broke open, sending tons of the material rushing down. 

Crews scrambled to find Potter for 24 hours, using vacuum trucks to clear debris. His body was finally found about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday under a collapsed steel structure. 

A manager at Luck Stone Leesburg Quarry in Loudoun County said he knew the young man well.

"We're very close-knit; we work a lot of hours here together, and we're a family away from home," Lewis Murphy of Luck Stone said Monday.

The worker would have turned 19 next month. His family was at the scene. He had been on the job at the quarry for less than a year.

By early Tuesday, before the missing worker's body was found, crews had removed all the filler and moved onto removing the metal decking that had collapsed inside the silo. Operations paused for several hours Monday so the structure could be assessed for instability and shored up.

A full silo of mineral filler weighs 150 tons, but plant managers said they weren't sure whether it had been full. The silo gets emptied every morning.

"We typically will empty it by truck, and this morning, the side of the silo split open, ruptured, and the material discharged out onto the ground," Murphy said Monday.

The miner was with two or three other workers at the time of the collapse. Those workers were able to give search teams an idea of where he may have been.

The search continued through the overnight hours, with suction trucks, special cameras, listening devices, K-9s, cranes and heavy equipment. Search teams refused to call it a recovery mission until the sad discovery Tuesday morning.

Multiple agencies were involved with the search, including Loudoun County Fire & Rescue and Fairfax Fire & Rescue.

Plant managers and Loudoun County Fire & Rescue said they do not know what caused the silo to collapse. 

MSHA, which is an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor, will investigate and issue a report. That investigation could take several months, they said. 

Across the U.S., 18 people have been killed in mining-related incidents in 2015 thus far. Ten of these deaths were linked to metal mining; 8 were linked to coal mining.

Mining deaths fluctuate greatly from year to year and are often skewed by major coal-related incidents, including the 2006 Sago Mine disaster and the 2010 Upper Big Branch tragedy in West Virginia.

Photo Credit: Loudoun Co. Fire & Rescue]]>
<![CDATA[PHOTO: ’Triple Washed’ Spinach Had Dead Frog, Woman Claims]]> Tue, 04 Aug 2015 11:03:48 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/knbc-frog-in-spinach.jpg

A woman claims she found a dead frog in a package of organic baby spinach she bought at a Southern California market over the weekend.

Donna Souza of Covina said she was making herself a salad for dinner when she noticed the frog's legs tucked between the leaves.

The spinach, packaged by Taylor Farms, was purchased at Sam's Club in Glendora, she said. The label on the package says the leaves are "triple washed & ready to enjoy."

A quality assurance director at Taylor Farms sent Souza a letter of apology.

Sam's Club did not immediately return a request for comment. Sam's Club managers told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune that there weren't other reports of frogs appearing in spinach packages.

"I can't eat salad anymore for fear a dead animal will be inside," Souza wrote on Facebook.

The Taylor Farms quality control director explained that a malfunctioning laser scanner may have allowed the frog to pass through its screening process, according to a letter written by Kari Valdés, director of Food Safety and Quality Assurance at Taylor Farms. Souza sent the letter to NBC Los Angeles.

The company is reviewing what went wrong in this instance, Valdés wrote. "I would like to personally extend my deepest apology for any inconvenience this may have caused."

Photo Credit: Donna Souza]]>
<![CDATA[Freezing in the Office? Temp Formula Was Devised for Men]]> Tue, 04 Aug 2015 11:47:37 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-525397795+%281%29.jpg

There is proof women aren't just complaining about freezing office temperatures. According to a study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, air conditioning systems are designed using a 1960s formula that assumed the average office worker was a 40-year-old, 154 pound man.

In addition to making life miserable for women, the cold air could be helping drive climate change, the research team at Maastricht University in the Netherlands said. 

Men, in general, have higher metabolic rates than women, according to the researchers, and they argue that the AC needs to be reset to reflect the true office population. Women prefer rooms at about 77 degrees, while men prefer a cooler 72 degrees, according to Boris Kingma of the Maastricht University Medical Center.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/EyeEm]]>
<![CDATA[Cecil Hunter's Guide Feels He Did Nothing Wrong]]> Tue, 04 Aug 2015 09:10:07 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/cecil-the-lion-Theo-Bronkhorst.jpg

The guide accused of helping an American kill Cecil the lion told NBC News on Tuesday that he felt he did nothing wrong.

Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer allegedly paid Theo Bronkhorst $50,000 to lure the lion out of a wildlife reserve so he could shoot it with a bow.

The animal was a tourist favorite and subject of an Oxford University research project. Its death has provoked global outrage.

"I do not feel I have done anything wrong," Bronkhorst said via telephone. "This has been a very stressful time for me and my family. We have been pulled into something we are not happy with."

Bronkhorst has pleaded not guilty last week to a charge of failing to prevent the unlawful killing of Cecil. He was released on $1,000 bail and was due back in court Wednesday.

Photo Credit: Photos courtesy Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority]]>
<![CDATA[MH370 Search: 3 Questions Experts Want Answered]]> Tue, 04 Aug 2015 08:33:41 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-482269752+%281%29.jpg

Investigators in Toulouse, France, who are analyzing a fragment of a jetliner found on the shores of Reunion Island in hopes of solving the mystery of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, will try to determine three things. 

Jean Paul Troadec — former head of the Bureau of Investigation and Analysis, France's counterpart to the National Transportation Safety Board said investigators will seek to pin down the origin of the flaperon. Experts are in agreement that the debris came from a Boeing 777 — and MH370 is the only such missing jetliner in the world.

Troadec said investigators also will be studying the debris to figure out how it detached from its aircraft.

The plane vanished without a trace on March 8, 2014 — and the debris discovered on Reunion was covered in barnacles. The investigators would also be on the lookout for other organisms that could also provide clues, according to The Associated Press.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sister of Suspect in Memphis Officer Killing: It Was Self-Defense]]> Tue, 04 Aug 2015 12:31:41 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Memphis15.jpg

The sister of Tremaine Wilbourn, the man accused of fatally shooting a Memphis police officer, said her brother "was defending himself."

Callie Watkins told NBC News, "Tremaine ain't no bad person. He was defending himself." 

"You know how they do, just trying to do you in," Watkins added, apparently referring to police.

Wilbourn, 29, is facing first-degree murder charges after allegedly shooting police officer Sean Bolton Saturday night. Bolton had interrupted a drug deal and approached a car Wilbourn was in, which contained 1.7 grams of marijuana. Bolton was shot multiple times.

Wilbourn turned himself in Monday evening, ending a nearly two-day manhunt and is being held on $9 million bond. 

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Rocky Fire Blazes Into New Territory as Total Area Charred Grows to 65K Acres]]> Tue, 04 Aug 2015 15:27:56 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/177*120/GettyImages-482897662_594_screen.jpg

The Rocky Fire raging in Northern California blazed through unprecedented territory as it grew by 3,000 acres overnight, jumping a highway and eating up wildland fuel that has never burned in recorded history.

"As far as we knew of, some of these fuel beds have not burned - there's no recorded history that is known," Cal Fire spokesman Steve Swindle said Tuesday. "That is why fire is burning so intensely, the brush is very thick and because of the drought, very dry."

By Tuesday morning, the fire had burned 65,000 acres — about 100 square miles — and was 12 percent contained, according to Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant. A total of  3,200 firefighters were working to put out the blaze, hopefully by Aug. 10.  The drought wasn't helping efforts.

Throughout the state, 9,300 firefighters were trying to quell 21 fires in all, Cal Fire said. The Rocky Fire is currently the biggest blaze.

But it is still four times smaller than the Rim Fire, which overtook wildland near Yosemite in August 2013, burning more than 257,000 acres. That blaze was recorded as California's third largest wildfire in history.

More than 6,300 structures remained threatened because of the Rocky Fire, located southeast of Clear Lake in Lake, Yolo and Colusa counties. And by Thursday, about 50 homes, outbuildings had been destroyed since the fire broke out on July 29. The cause is under investigation.

In addition, there were several mandatory evacuations ordered, and residents in the area were on edge.

"I'm overwhelmed,'' Donna McDonald, of Clear Lake, said at a high school that had been turned into a shelter. "I was very happy at one point when I saw no smoke at all. Then all of a sudden it just flared up real big again.''

Check here for evacuations and road closures.


Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Monster Sinkhole Devours Brooklyn Intersection]]> Tue, 04 Aug 2015 10:49:41 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/220*120/sinkhole-Brooklyn-NY-0804.jpg

A giant sinkhole opened up in a Brooklyn intersection Tuesday morning, halting traffic on the busy roadway.

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The sinkhole swallowed up most of the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 64th Street in Sunset Park at about 8 a.m., according to the Office of Emergency Management.

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Traffic on Fifth Avenue, one of Sunset Park's busiest roadways, has been diverted while crews work to repair the gaping hole.

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No injuries were immediately reported.

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It wasn't clear if the sinkhole was related to severe storms that passed through the region early Tuesday.

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<![CDATA[Decapitation Suspect Was 'Trying to Get the Evil Out']]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 23:32:44 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/mugshot13.jpg

As grim new details emerged on Monday about the Arizona man accused of decapitating his wife, officials released a video of Kenneth Wakefield's first court appearance in which he appeared to interrupt the proceedings with a startling shriek, NBC News reported.

Wakefield, 43, told police that he beheaded his wife, Trina Heisch, 49, because "he was trying to get the evil out of" her, according to a court document released Monday.

Police discovered Heisch's body in the couple's blood-soaked apartment on July 25, after a neighbor called 911. Officers also found several bloody knives in the apartment, the document says, and "Trina had multiple stab wounds to her torso along with defensive wounds to her hands and arms."

Photo Credit: Phoenix Police
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<![CDATA[Boat Parade Honors Missing Fla Teen]]> Tue, 04 Aug 2015 07:19:28 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/080315+jupiter+parade.jpg

A boat parade sailed along the coast of Jupiter, Florida, Monday evening in a show of support for two teenagers missing from the town since they took a boat to sea more than a week ago.

The gathering of hundreds, all holding onto hope that search-and-rescue teams find Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, both 14, who have now been missing for more than ten days.

"We're hoping and we're praying. It's a pretty small town and so I guess we're just hoping and praying for a miracle," said Heather Popi, who attended the parade.

The parading boats pushed through the water where the teens were last seen, as people holding candles lined the shore. Coast Guard teams scoured almost 50,000 square nautical miles off the Florida coast, finding their capsized boat but no sign of the boys.

Orlando Paz has been following the developments, from the private searches that took over for the Coast Guard, stretching from Florida to the Carolinas, to how this community copes.

"Even though I'm from Miami, I come here a lot. People here in this town– you feel so together and you feel the pain," Paz said.

Total strangers have been united by sorrow and faith, and families like Heather Wood's held each other tight, hoping they'll never be forced to let go.

"I live in Jupiter and I want to support our town and having two young kids, try to get them to understand what could happen, you know, if they were missing," Wood said.

The rescue fund Kickstarter for Perry and Austin stood at over $450,000 Monday night, about 80 percent of the families' goal. The fund pays for resources that keep planes and boats searching the sea for the boys.

Photo Credit: NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[Driver Rescued Before Train Crash]]> Tue, 04 Aug 2015 13:25:29 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/0803-2015-Caltrain2.jpg

Editor's note: Some viewers may find the embedded video of the collision shocking.

A sheriff's deputy was able to pull a driver from a car moments before it was hit by a train in Northern California, officials said.

Commuter train tracks were shut down in both directions in Sunnyvale after two separate trains struck a vehicle at the Mary Avenue crossing, Caltrain tweeted Monday evening.

Video posted on YouTube shows a deputy pulling a driver out of a car stuck on the tracks. The pair is seen running away from the vehicle as a train can be heard fast approaching the area.

The driver then stumbles to the ground and the deputy is seen dragging him out of harm's way moments before the car is hit by a train.

"If it had not been for the deputies being at the right place at the right time, the driver would have been significantly injured," San Mateo County Sheriff's spokesman Salvador Zuno said.

Zuno said deputies Lance Whitted and Erik Rueppel were conducting enforcement in the area when they heard what sounded like a traffic collision. The deputies, who were just a few cars away, saw a vehicle had collided into the crossing guard.

Whitted and Rueppel ran to the collision and found major front-end damage to the vehicle and that a train was approaching the area. Zuno said one of the deputies ran on the tracks to notify the incoming train, while the other deputy removed the driver from the vehicle.

"I believe because of their actions this person is alive today." Zuno said.

The driver appeared to be under the influence, according to Zuno, who said the department was still investigating the incident.

Trains were temporarily forced to share the northbound tracks. Northbound train No. 385 and southbound train No. 274 hit the vehicle, Caltrain tweeted.

Photo Credit: Karin Lizana/YouTube
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<![CDATA[Love for Family Helps Man Stranded in Ocean Survive]]> Tue, 04 Aug 2015 07:34:08 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/philadelphia-ness.jpg

A fisherman who was thrown overboard and was forced to tread water for about four hours amid a powerful storm off New Jersey’s coast Saturday night said the love for his wife and two young sons kept him alive.

"I just couldn't picture the next day somebody coming to tell them I'm not going to be home anymore because I knew it would ruin their lives," Damian Sexton told NBC10 in Philadelphia as he fought back tears. "And I love them too much for that."

Sexton, 45, was on a 40-foot fishing boat with his friend about 44 miles east of Cape May, New Jersey, when they got caught in a storm. 

"The boat went this way and I fell right out," Sexton said. "It was a big thunderstorm, giant bolts of lightning, just waves that were huge."

Sexton's friend, who was still on the boat, made a mayday call to the Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay but was unable to stop the vessel. 

"I didn't have a chance to show him how to operate the autopilot," Sexton said. "So I think that's the reason the boat kept going."

Sexton, who didn't have a life jacket on, was left stranded in the middle of the storm. Desperate to survive and make it home to his family, Sexton started swimming, following a container ship for about ten miles. 

"The wind was so bad," Sexton said. "It was blowing me back or it was blowing the ship away from me."

Unable to feel his legs and his arms cramping up, Sexton admits he began to feel hopeless. 

"I coughed water out of my lungs so many times and all I would have had to do was take one breath of water and it was over," he said.

Fortunately for Sexton, help was on the way. The Coast Guard launched a C-130 "Hercules" aircraft from the Elizabeth City, North Carolina, Air Station and an MH-65 "Dolphin" helicopter from the Atlantic City Air Station. A boat crew from the Cape May Coast Guard Station joined in the rescue effort as well. They located Sexton around 2 a.m. Sunday and threw him a life preserver so he could get back onto his boat until the rescue crew could take him for medical help. 

When the helicopter arrived, crews hoisted Sexton aboard and flew him to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City for treatment. The incredible rescue was captured on video.

"He was wrapped up on a blanket on his couch and was just seizing and convulsing," said Christopher Lynch, the Coast Guard member in the video who grabbed Sexton. 

Sexton is alive and doing well, thanks to the heroic efforts of the Coast Guard as well as the love of his family that inspired him to fight for his survival. 

"I love him more than anything," Sexton's wife Robin told NBC10. "I mean that with every ounce of my body."

Photo Credit: NBC Philadelphia]]>
<![CDATA[Disabled Students Shackled for Misbehaving: Lawsuit]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 22:26:50 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/string_out_2-00_01_01_06-still001_0_6843b418d66cd65d609c00e14ac56b8d.nbcnews-ux-600-480.jpg

A sheriff's deputy in Kentucky illegally shackled two disabled children in a school after they misbehaved, a lawsuit filed Monday in federal district court claims, NBC News reported

Video posted by the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the children, showed one of the encounters, which involved an 8-year-old boy and a sheriff's deputy who was working as a resource officer at Latonia Elementary School, just south of Cincinnati.

The boy, who is identified in the lawsuit as S.R. and has been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, according to the complaint, was sent to the vice principal's office in November 2013 after experiencing "disability-related difficulties complying" with his teacher.

Video footage from the office shows the deputy, Kevin Sumner, placing the boy's hands behind his back and handcuffing his biceps.

The lawsuit, which names Sumner and the Kenton County Sheriff's Office as defendants, is requesting policy changes and unspecified damages.

Pat Morgan, chief deputy with the Kenton County Sheriff, declined to discuss specifics of the suit, saying he had only just learned of it. "We're going to talk to our attorney," he told NBC News. 

Photo Credit: ACLU]]>
<![CDATA[Pakistani Man Executed Despite Forced Confession Claim]]> Tue, 04 Aug 2015 05:01:53 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP_410170072515-Shafqat-Hussain.jpg

Pakistan executed a young man Tuesday whose case touched off an international outcry amid claims he was tortured into a murder confession and convicted as a juvenile, NBC News reported.

Shafqat Hussain was hanged on Tuesday morning in Karachi Central Jail. Hussain was arrested in 2004 at the age of 14, and convicted by a Pakistani anti-terrorism court of kidnapping and killing a child. The charges were later reduced to involuntary manslaughter.

The young man's lawyers at the Justice Project Pakistan said Hussain's "confession" came after nine days of torture.

Amnesty International's South Asia research director David Griffiths said it was a "deeply sad day" for Pakistan.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/M.D. Mughal, File
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<![CDATA[Calif. Wildfires Displace Thousands]]> Tue, 04 Aug 2015 09:03:39 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/rocky-fire-new-2015.jpg

The Rocky Fire racing across Northern California had burned 62,000 acres and was 12 percent contained as of Monday evening , according to Cal Fire

At least two dozen homes were destroyed over the past few days, and more than 13,000 people were urged to flee.

The wildfire swelled over the weekend, blazing through 26,000 additional acres since Saturday night, according to Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant.  The fire broke out on July 29 and forced several evacuations and was threatening about 6,300 homes and structures.

Monday afternoon, the fire jumped Highway 20 at Walker Ridge, sparking another 50-acre brush fire.

The blaze, located southeast of Clearlake in Lake, Yolo and Colusa Counties, is one of 21 large fires – many sparked by lightning strikes – raging across California, and made much more challenging to fight because of the yearslong drought that has dried out the state.

According to Cal Fire, the Rocky Fire has gutted 24 homes and 26 outbuildings, and forced hundreds to evacuate the area.

"There's a lot of old growth-type vegetation and four years of drought to dry it all out,'' said Lynne Tolmachoff, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. "It was ready to go.''

The fire was burning in the Lower Lake area, about 100 miles north of San Francisco and 10 miles from Clear Lake, the largest freshwater lake entirely within California and a popular spot for boaters and campers. Fire officials said no homes around the lake were threatened.

Evacuated residents were amazed at how quickly the flames spread.

"I'm overwhelmed,'' Donna McDonald, of Clear Lake, said at a high school that had been turned into a shelter. "I was very happy at one point when I saw no smoke at all. Then all of a sudden it just flared up real big again.''

Check here for evacuations and road closures.


Crews battled 20 other wildfires in California – some sparked by lightning – though none as big as the Rocky Fire.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Getty
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<![CDATA[7 Dead in Legionnaires' Outbreak]]> Tue, 04 Aug 2015 09:30:41 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/214*120/meeting+overlay+legionnaires.jpg

Three more people have died of Legionnaires' disease in the Bronx in an outbreak that has claimed seven lives in total and hospitalized more than 60 people, the New York City Health Department said Monday as hundreds of residents met with health experts and state and city officials at a town hall meeting to get answers.

Eighty-one cases of the disease, a severe, often lethal, form of pneumonia spread through the air, have been reported in the south Bronx since July 10, city officials said. That's 23 new cases since Wednesday, when 46 cases were announced as health officials first discussed the outbreak. The seven patients who died had underlying health conditions, authorities said.

As word of new deaths spread Monday, Bronx residents packed a town hall meeting at the Bronx Museum of the Arts to hear what state, city and local officials, as well as health experts, had to say about the deadly outbreak.

"We are not at a level of panic, but anxiety is really high," Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said at the meeting.

Lines were out the door and at least 75 people had to stand outside because there was no room inside. Many were concerned about the growing number of dead. They also wanted to know what's being done to stop the spread of the disease.

"There's more questions than answers to this disease that's going around," South Bronx resident Renita Henry said. "I'm scared, yes, because it's right in my backyard."

Three people were released from the hospital Monday, bringing the total number of people discharged up to 28, according to the Health Department.

Officials announced the death of a fourth person on Saturday. The news came as two more Bronx buildings tested positive for the Legionella bacteria.

A Verizon office building at 117 E. 167th St. was the fourth location to test positive, according to Verizon spokesman John Bonomo. Streamline Plastic Co. at 2590 Park Ave. was the fifth location to test positive. Since the announcement, remediation and removal of the contaminants have been completed at both locations, officials said Monday. Verizon said that it would perform checks on all cooling systems at all its facilities in the Bronx.

"Over the weekend we did remediation, we decontaminated and everything got cleaned up today," Streamline Plastic Co. President Joe Bartner said, adding that the company looks to be back in operation on Tuesday.

The cases have been reported primarily in High Bridge, Morrisania, Hunts Point and Mott Haven since July 10, the Health Department said.

Legionnaires' disease is caused by exposure to the bacteria Legionella; in most cases, people are exposed to the bacteria by inhaling contaminated aerosols from cooling towers, hot tubs, showers and faucets or drinking water.

Twenty-two buildings have been visited as "disease detectives" hunt for the source of the outbreak, the city said Friday. Seventeen of those buildings have cooling towers -- five of those tested positive for Legionella, including one at Lincoln Hospital; one at Concourse Plaza, a shopping plaza; and one at the Opera House Hotel.

"Whatever's in the atmosphere gets pulled into the cooling tower, so there's a lot more dirt and debris and areas that organisms can grow in," Pete Stempkowski, of Clarity Water Technologies, said.

In addition to the Verizon location and plastic company, remediation has also been completed at the other three locations that tested positive: Lincoln Hospital, Concourse Plaza and the Opera House Hotel. The Department of Health said it resampled all sites Monday and would sample them again on Tuesday to make sure that the remediation was successful.

"The reason we sampled those towers is because those are the ones closest to where the people are getting sick," Dr. Jay Varma, of the Health Department, said. "We know with this disease it's not going to be from a cooling tower that's 10 miles away." 

Mayor de Blasio and Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said at a briefing Thursday there was no evidence of contamination within Lincoln Hospital, and though the hospital confirmed it is treating patients with the disease, Bassett said no one -- neither patients nor employees -- contracted it at the facility.

Since the cases are widely dispersed — as in they're not clustered in one or two buildings —authorities do not believe the outbreak is connected to any contaminated drinking water, Health Commissioner Mary Bassett said at a news briefing Thursday.

"The water supply in the south Bronx remains entirely safe. We don't know the source of this outbreak, but in recent months we have seen outbreaks associated with cooling towers and that's why we're focusing on them," Bassett said. "We're testing every cooling tower we can find in the area."

Both de Blasio and Bassett stressed there was no concern for alarm.

"People have to understand that this is a disease that can be treated -- and can be treated well if caught early," de Blasio said Thursday. "The exception can be with folks who are already unfortunately suffering from health challenges, particularly immune system challenges. But for the vast majority of New Yorkers, if they were even exposed, this can be addressed very well and very quickly so long as they seek medical treatment."

Legionnaires' disease usually sets in two to 10 days after exposure to the bacteria and has symptoms similar to pneumonia, including shortness of breath, high fever, chills and chest pains. People with Legionnaires' also experience appetite loss, confusion, fatigue and muscle aches.

It cannot be spread person-to-person and those at highest risk for contracting the illness include the elderly, cigarette smokers, people with chronic lung or immune system disease and those receiving immunosuppressive drugs. Most cases can be treated successfully with antibiotics.

The Health Department urges anyone with symptoms to seek immediate medical attention.

An outbreak last hit the Bronx in December. Between then and January, 12 people in Co-op City contracted the potentially deadly disease. Officials said a contaminated cooling tower was likely linked to at least 75 percent of those cases. No one died in that outbreak.

<![CDATA[Ex-Officer Who Killed Michael Brown: Ferguson Not Racist]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 16:40:26 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/141124-darren-wilson-2250.jpg

The former police officer whose killing of Michael Brown sparked riots in Ferguson, Missouri, a year ago, says he hasn't read the U.S. Justice Department's report detailing the city's systemic racism and has no plan to, according to a profile of him in the New Yorker, NBC News reported.

"I don't have any desire," Darren Wilson told the magazine. "I'm not going to keep living in the past about what Ferguson did. It's out of my control."

The article is the first in-depth look at Wilson's life since the Aug. 9, 2014, shooting, for which he was exonerated of criminal wrongdoing but remains the target of a wrongful death lawsuit. It marks his first public remarks since last November, when he was interviewed by ABC News.

Wilson, 29, declined to talk about his shooting of Brown, citing the pending lawsuit. He repeated what he told ABC, saying: "I did my job that day."

Wilson also said that he saw instances of biased policing in Ferguson, but denied it was systemic.

Photo Credit: St. Louis County Prosecutor's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Mom Killed Dad, Daughter: Police]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 12:31:18 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Cheyanne-Jessie-thumb.jpg

A central Florida woman is set to appear in court Monday after authorities say she shot and stabbed her father and 6-year-old daughter and left their bodies in plastic bins in her landlord's shed.

According to a report from NBC affiliate WFLA, 25-year-old Cheyanne Jessie, of Lakeland, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of tampering with evidence in death of her father, 50-year-old Mark Weekly, and her 6-year-old daughter, Meredith Jessie.

Weekly and the girl were last seen on July 18th at his Lakeland home. According to reports, Meredith was left in her grandfather's care. The two were reported missing Saturday by a family member.

In a press conference Sunday, Polk Sheriff Grady Judd said Jessie killed her daughter over concerns that the child would interfere with her relationship with her boyfriend.

Authorities have not determined the motive behind the killing of her father.

Neighbors told WFLA that Jessie would often complain about her daughter's behavior, but said that the child did not have issue while in the care of her grandfather.

Deputies say that after Jessie murdered her father and daughter, she watched an episode of the television show "Criminal Minds" which gave her the idea to get rid of the bodies by stuffing them in plastic bins. Jessie then moved the bodies to her landlord's shed in the yard.

The decomposing bodies were discovered Sunday.

Jessie remains at the Polk County Jail. It is not known if she has hired an attorney.

Photo Credit: Polk County Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Cecil Beanie Baby]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 18:18:56 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/cecil+the+lion+beanie+baby.jpg

The company that makes Beanie Babies has created a new one in the memory of Cecil the lion, who was killed in Zimbabwe earlier this month.

"Hopefully, this special Beanie Baby will raise awareness for animal conservation and give comfort to all saddened by the loss of Cecil," Ty Warner, owner of the Beanie Baby company, said.

Ty Inc., which is based in Oak Brook, Ill., created the Cecil the Lion Beanie Baby following public outcry nationwide about the poaching of the beloved lion. Cecil the lion was killed July 1 after hunters allegedly lured the lion out of Hwange National Park and to his death. Walter James Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota, is accused of shooting Cecil to death with a crossbow.

Reports later surfaced that another Zimbabwean lion named Jericho, Cecil's companion, was also shot to death, but wildlife authorities in the country dismissed the reports and released a photograph showing that Jericho was still alive.

WildCRU, Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, will receive 100 percent of the profits from the original sale, according to a statement from Ty Inc.

The research unit was tracking Cecil's movements in Zimbabwe before his death.

The Cecil Beanie Baby will be available at the end of September at specialty retail stores worldwide for approximate $5.99, according to a Ty Inc. spokesperson.

<![CDATA[Special Olympics Athlete Found]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 23:41:56 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/165*120/08-03-2015-missing-special-olympics-athlete-1.jpg

A Special Olympics athlete who was reported missing at Los Angeles International Airport was found Monday afternoon in Inglewood after he wandered away from his Ivory Coast teammates.

Shion Isimel, a table tennis competitor who has a mild form of autism, was with the country's delegation at about 6:30 a.m. near the Delta Air Lines ticketing area before they became separated. The 15-year-old French-speaking athlete was wearing black sunglasses and an orange shirt with "Special Olympics" written on the back.

The delegation arrived at LAX Monday morning, preparing for their return flight home to the West Africa nation after the World Games, which wrapped up Sunday with the closing ceremony. Isimel was seen on security camera video wandering away from the group of about 10 at the ticketing area.

He was then seen near 96th Street and Sepulveda Boulevard, just northeast of the airport terminals. Search teams were looking in parking structures, taxi lots, a bus depot and nearby restaurants, according to airport police.

Someone saw Isimel about six miles from the airport, laying on the front lawn in the 600 block of East Hyde Park Boulevard in Inglewood Monday afternoon, and notified the Inglewood Police Department, LAPD Commander Dennis Kato said.

When Inglewood police arrived, they found him sleeping on the grass and recognized the colorful Special Olympics lanyard around his neck, Kato said.

The teen was reported missing the same morning that an Albanian Special Olympics athlete who disappeared Saturday was found hundreds of miles from Los Angeles in Hayward. The 44-year-old man walked into a police station Monday morning after he disappeared Saturday from near the USC campus.

World Games officials and police were attempting to determine how the man traveled to the Alameda County community. He was in good health, police said.

NBC4's Angie Crouch contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: LA Airport PD
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