<![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 Fri, 22 May 2015 16:50:35 -0400 Fri, 22 May 2015 16:50:35 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[More Than 1 Involved in DC Murders]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 16:50:21 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/wint+mugshot.jpg

Three members of a D.C. family -- and their housekeeper -- were held overnight by more than one person before they were slain in their home last week, according to new court documents filed Friday afternoon.

The youngest of the victims, 10-year-old Philip Savopoulos, died from "thermal injuries" and stab wounds. He was found in a bedroom consumed by fire, the documents say.

There was a strong smell of gasoline permeating the house, and a K-9 officer detected an "ignitable liquid." A matchbox and several matches were found at the top of the stairs.

The court documents reveal new details in the murders of Savvas Savopoulos, 46; his wife, Amy Savopoulos, 47; their son, Philip, and housekeeper Veralicia "Vera" Figueroa, 57, on May 14. 

Daron Dylon Wint, 34, is the only person charged in the murders so far, though the documents say Wint "and others" held the family hostage until $40,000 in cash was delivered Thursday.

Court documents also indicate more than one person knew of the delivery of the $40,000 to the Savopoulos family's home in the hours before the victims died.

In fact, one of those witnesses changed his story about critical details of the case while police were interviewing him, changing his claims of when the request to deliver money was made, how he received the package and where it was left.

The person the documents call "W-1" said that he received a text from Savvas Savopoulos Wednesday evening, instructing Savopoulos' assistant to meet another employee Thursday morning to pick up a package.

Initially, W-1 said the request to pick up a package was made Thursday morning.

The employee took four bundles out of his or her pockets and put the cash in a red bag belonging to W-1.

W-1 drove the assistant to the Savopoulos home, and called Savopoulos 10 minutes before arriving. According to the witness, Savopoulos instructed W-1 to leave the money in a red car inside the garage.

The assistant put the money inside a manila envelope and left it on the driver's seat. Police did not find the envelope in the car during their search of the home.

Police said at Wint's court hearing Friday that they are still looking for a red car missing from the mansion's garage. It was not immediately clear whether this was the same vehicle.

Wint appeared in court Friday afternoon in a prison jumpsuit, his hands and legs shackled. He is charged with first-degree murder while armed. 

In court Friday, Wint was ordered held without bond and ordered to submit to a DNA swab. He did not enter a plea, and is due back in court June 23.

Police said during the hearing that they are looking at a plastic water bottle with fingerprints on it that was found at the crime scene.

On Friday, D.C. and Prince George's County authorities searched a motel in College Park where Wint and and others were seen the previous night. Investigators carried bags of evidence from the motel shortly after 4 p.m. Friday.

Wint was arrested late Thursday while in a two-vehicle caravan including a box truck in Northeast D.C. A court document said U.S. Marshals saw "a large stack" of what appeared to be $100 bills in the truck. This denomination is consistent with what was delivered to the victims' home.

NBC News has confirmed that at least $10,000 was found in the truck.

The marshals also saw several money orders.

An occupant of Wint's vehicle admitted to authorities that he or she had purchased money orders "under the direction of an identified person who was providing [him or her] with money," according to the document. The person providing the money was not named in the document.

The occupant of the vehicle also told authorities he or she believed the total amount of money orders exceeded $10,000.

He had once worked for the company run by one of the victims, and was identified as a suspect after authorities made a DNA match on a partially eaten slice of pizza left behind in the Savopoulos' home.

Investigators found two Domino's pizza boxes in the bedroom where the three adult victims were found, according to the court documents obtained Friday.

The pizza boxes were time-stamped May 13 at 9:14 p.m. -- the night before the killings -- and paid for with the Savopoulos' credit card.

A Domino's employee who took the order told detectives that the caller, believed to be Amy Savopoulos, gave some unusual instructions. She told the Domino's employee that she was caring for a sick child and couldn't come to the door, so the delivery person should leave the pizzas on the front porch, ring the bell and then leave.

The delivery person told detectives that all the lights in the house were off, with just the front porch light illuminated. The delivery person placed the food on the porch as instructed and left.



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[5.4 Quake Strikes Near Nevada-Utah Border]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 16:40:20 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/199*120/5-22-15-nevada+quake+shake+map+2.JPG

A preliminary magnitude-5.4 earthquake struck Nevada Friday afternoon, according to the US Geological Survey.

The quake hit about 24 miles south-southwest of Caliente, Nevada.

More than 1,600 responses were listed on the USGS Did You Feel It? survey.

Refresh this page for updates on this developing story.



Photo Credit: USGS]]>
<![CDATA[Quarry Blast Damages Homes, Cars]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 14:00:18 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/brokenglassquarry.jpg

A blast at a Loudoun County, Virginia, quarry sent rocks and debris smashing into nearby homes and cars, leaving one person injured Thursday morning.

Dwight Brooks said a huge rock from the quarry tore through the roof of his parents' house a half mile away and landed in a bedroom several feet from his brother's bed. Brooks said his brother, who was sleeping in the room, was cut by debris that fell from the ceiling and needed eight stitches. 

"If that had hit him, damage could have been much worse," Brooks said.

The debris came from a scheduled quarry blast, Loudoun County Fire and Rescue said. Falling debris damaged several structures and cars.

Security camera video shows a rock flying through the air and shattering glass in the nearby Fairfax Auto Parts store. Three large windows at the store were shattered when a rock went through the front of the store. 

Employees said they are used to the building shaking from nearby quarry blasts, but the size of these rocks was unprecedented.

Mike Quinn of Fairfax Auto Parts said he had "never in my wildest dreams" seen "the size rocks that we saw that came through the window."

At least a half dozen cars were damaged in the store's parking lot.

First-responders arrived in the area near the intersection of Old Ox Road and Oakgrove Road in Sterling shortly before 11 a.m.

County officials said only one person was injured in the blast.

Inspectors from the blasting company, Winchester Building Supply, surveyed the scene to try to determine what went wrong.

The Loudoun County Fire Marshal's Office and the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy were also called to the scene.

Residents who were affected can call the Virginia DMME at 434-951-6310.



Photo Credit: Loudoun Fire Rescue
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<![CDATA[Yearbooks Recalled Over Mean Quotes]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 15:15:57 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/yearbook-split-screen.jpg

Dallas' W.T. White High School is recalling hundreds of yearbooks after someone removed the personal quotes beneath the photos of some seniors and replaced them with insulting remarks.

Senior Juanita Cedillo, the school's prom queen, has cerebral palsy. She uses a wheelchair to get around school because the neurological disorder has affected her muscle coordination and makes using her legs difficult.

Under her senior picture is an insult where a personal quote should be.

"'Want to hear the most annoying noise in the world?'" Cedillo said, reading the quote. "I questioned myself. I was like, 'What could be that annoying noise? Was it my voice?'"

Below other students' pictures are sexual innuendos. Under one picture is written, "The only negativity around here should be a pregnancy test."

"I went in there Monday, thinking, 'Yay, it's here. The thing that I've been waiting for us here,'" explained Cedillo. "For them to taint it, it's not OK. It really isn't. Don't taint something that's important."

Parent Monty Walker, who attended White High School and whose son will soon graduate from there, talked with the principal.

"You know, somebody had to proof it, and proof it again, proof it 10 times. You don't make this mistake," said Walker. "I'm a graduate of W.T. White, and it tarnished the reputation of my high school and alma mater."

The principal is listed in the yearbook as its adviser. The staff even thanks her for proofreading the book and for stepping in to help after the they lost their original adviser halfway through the school year.

The Dallas Independent School District has recovered about 90 percent of the yearbooks and said they are working to determine who made the changes to the book and how it happened.

In a statement, the district said: The district is in the process of reviewing the complete contents of the yearbook, as well as determining the individuals responsible for the unfortunate quotations. Distribution of the yearbook has been ceased until corrections can be made and new yearbooks are printed. Individuals who were responsible will be held accountable. This will be an unfortunate but valuable lesson for all involved."

An email was sent to parents late Thursday, and we are told a note will go home with students as well.

Cedillo said when the book is reprinted she wishes she could have a different quote under her name.

"Be the change you wish the see in the world," Cedillo said.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[New Charges in Wesleyan ODs]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 16:42:40 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/wesleyan+web.jpg

Two former Wesleyan University students, one from Maryland and the other from Brazil, have been arrested on federal charges in a spate of overdoses on what they believed was "Molly" earlier this year, federal prosecutors said on Friday.

The drug actually contained  "Spice" or "K2," U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daly announced during a news conference on Friday morning and Zachary Kramer, 21, of Bethesda, Maryland, and Eric Lonergan, 22, of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, are due in court in New Haven to answer to several drug charges.

Eleven people, including 10 Wesleyan students became ill, and some were hospitalized one weekend in late February after taking a drug that was presented as Molly, a popular name for the euphoria-inducing stimulant MDMA. Two of the students were in critical condition, including one who had to be revived when his heart stopped beating.

Each of the students obtained what they thought was "Molly" from people who got it from Kramer, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. 

On Friday morning, federal officials said this was not the first time the students became sick after buying synthetic drugs. The symptoms reported were similar to symptom students reported in September after taking drugs from the students, officials said.

After the February overdoses, one student presented Middletown police with a capsule she had bought from Lonergan in September. Test results showed it did not contain "Molly" and instead contained "Spice" or "K2," according to Daly.

"Our hope is that this prosecution puts to bed the misperception that synthetic drugs are harmless party drugs," Daly said in a statement Friday. "As the allegations in this indictment clearly show, these drugs are highly dangerous. Many of the Wesleyan students who overdosed were seriously ill and one student nearly died. The growth and evolution of synthetic drugs is a serious public health concern."

Lonergan and Kramer are accused of distributing the controlled substances that caused the overdoses.

"Wesleyan remains deeply concerned about the events that occurred this past February as well as the broader problem of drug abuse. All of the students arrested in the February incident were promptly expelled from the University," a spokesperson for Wesleyan said in a statement Friday. "The University has fully and comprehensively cooperated with local, State and Federal authorities at each step of their investigation and it will continue to do so."

In November 2013, Lonergan started buying Molly and selling it to students from his dorm for around $200 per gram between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. most evenings, and counseling students on how to use it, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

Officials started receiving calls for medical help from the Butterfield and Foss Hill dorms, as well as 200 High Street at 7:30 a.m., 8:21 a.m., 12:26 p.m., 1:21 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 22, according to Middletown Fire Battalion Chief David Anderson said.

After school administrators sent out a campus-wide communication warning of the dangers of ingesting controlled substances like Molly, Lonergan responded by distributing a pamphlet instructing students on the use of psychedelic drugs, federal officials said. 

Kramer is accused of beginning to buy Molly from Lonergan and selling it to students at Wesleyan in 2014.

In early 2015, Kramer took over for Lonergan as the primary supplier of what he claimed to be "Molly," a Wesleyan and sold it to friends to sell, Daly said.

Several students were transported to Middlesex Hospital, then LifeStar transported two students to Hartford Hospital and an ambulance transported two more, according to police. Two of the four students were listed in critical condition, and two were listed in serious condition.

Lonergan and Kramer, along with three other Wesleyan students, were arrested earlier this year on local charges in connection with the case.

Kramer and Lonergane have been charged with conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute MDMA and AB Fubinaca. Both due to appear in court in New Haven at noon, Daly said.  They are also charged with attempting to distribute MDMA and distributing AB Fubinaca, as well as distributing MDMA near a private college.

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<![CDATA[How to Help Victims of Nepal Earthquakes]]> Tue, 12 May 2015 15:41:40 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/471414010_Nepal.jpg

A 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on Tuesday, killing dozens of people, less than three weeks after a 7.8-magnitude quake rocked the Himalayan country, killing 8,000 people. 

Nepal's National Emergency Operation Centre confirmed that Tuesday's quake killed 37 people and injured 1,117 others.

The U.S. Geological Survey said that the estimated damage from the April 25 quake and strong aftershocks that devastated Nepal could cost between $100 million and $10 billion.

The quake flattened mountain villages and destroyed buildings, injuring at least 17,860 people. World leaders and global charities offered emergency aid and the United States was sending a disaster response teams and $10 million to help the people of Nepal, The Associated Press reported.

Here are ways you can donate:

WORLD VISION

The humanitarian aid group had staff on the ground when the earthquake hit. Members of the organization said survivors need food, water and shelter, spokeswoman Laura Blank told NBC News.

“Infrastructure is down all over the city,” World Vision’s operations director in Kathmandu Philip Ewert also said. “Power is out with limited internet access. Walls and water tanks are damaged. We are also getting reports that people are trapped in temples and other public buildings as there was a large festival here Saturday.”

To make a donation to the organization to address these needs, you can visit their Nepal page or text NEPAL to 777444 to donate $10.

RED CROSS

Volunteers and staff at the Nepal Red Cross Society are providing aid, but they have limited stocks of emergency relief items available in the country, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said in a statement.

"We are extremely concerned about the fate of communities in towns and villages in rural areas closer to the epicenter," said Jagan Chapagain, the IFRC's Director for Asia Pacific. “We anticipate that there will be considerable destruction and loss of life.”

For information on how to donate, visit the IFRC website.

SOS CHILDREN'S VILLAGES

In addition to the physical damage, Nepal's earthquake has left children scared and traumatized. This NGO plans to create 14 child-friendly spaces to provide "psychological and medical support" for children so adults can focus on rebuilding efforts. 

SOS Children's Villages has worked in the country for more than 40 years to give "loving, stable homes to orphaned and abandoned children," they said in a statement. "Our presence and permanence in the country allows us to quickly respond and support the local community in times of crisis."

You can donate to the organization's Nepal Emergency Children's Care Fund here.

GLOBALGIVING

The organization hopes to raise 1 million dollars and has created a Nepal-specific page outlining specific issues they hope to address with the funds.

“Initially, the fund will help first responders meet survivors' immediate needs for food, fuel, clean water, hygiene products, and shelter,” the organization said on its page. “Once initial relief work is complete, this fund will transition to support longer-term recovery efforts run by local, vetted local organizations.”

GlobalGiving says it will provide updates about how the funds are being used. You can donate here.

AMERICARES

An emergency team from the AmeriCares India office is preparing shipments of medical aid and relief supplies for survivors. The organization stocks emergency medicine and relieft supplies in its warehouses in the U.S., Europe and India that can be delivered quickly in time of crisis, and launches comprehensive recovery programs.

"Our emergency response team is en route to Nepal and we are prepared to help any way that we can," AmeriCares President and CEO Michael J. Nyenhuis said in a statement. "This is a terrible tragedy and our hearts go out to the families suffereing."

To donate to AmeriCares International Disaster Relief Fund, you can click here.

UNICEF

UNICEF is on the ground in Nepal providing critical emergency aid to children and families.

"UNICEF expects children, an estimated 40 percent of Nepal's poplulation, to be among the worst affected by the earthquake. The first priorities are lifesaving interventions—getting essential medicines, nutrition, and safe water to children and families in immediate need," the organization's website said.

To support the UNICEF relief efforts in Nepal, you can donate here.

MERCY CORPS

Mercy Corps' team is on the ground in Nepal working to get a better understanding of the conditions. The team is focused on delivering lifesaving aid to hard-hit communities. Mercy Corps will be helping communities immediately start to rebuild homes, schools, help people return to work and process the trauma.

To support Mercy Corps' earthquake response team, you can donate here.

CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES 

The Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has emergency personnel in Kathmandu that say weather conditions following the deadly quake have made life for survivors even harder.

“The situation is getting critical with the rain and cold winds,” Kushal Neogy, a member of the CRS India staff, said in a statement. “It slows down the rescue and relief operation and makes life difficult for those living on the street or in open fields.”

The CRS plans to give out tarpaulins and other shelter materials with donations they are now collecting. To help out, click here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[D.C. Mansion Murder Suspect Caught]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 13:46:17 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/wint+mugshot.jpg

The man suspected of brutally killing a family of three and their housekeeper in a northwest Washington, D.C., mansion last week was arrested late Thursday night in a traffic stop across town, capping a manhunt that had expanded to New York.

Daron Dylon Wint, 34, who had once worked for the company run by one of the victims, is scheduled to make his first court appearance Friday afternoon. 

In a statement released through a spokesperson Friday, the Savopoulos family thanked the law enforcement agencies involved in Wint's arrest.

"While it does not abate our pain, we hope that it begins to restore a sense of calm and security to our neighborhood and to our city," the statement read in part.

Wint showed little emotion when he was captured, Robert Fernandez, commander of the U.S. Marshal Service's Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force told The Associated Press on Friday.

"He was stoic," Fernandez said.

Investigators had tracked Wint to the Brooklyn area of New York City, where they barely missed him Wednesday night, Fernandez said. Sources tell NBC New York that Wint paid someone in cash, likely the money he allegedly stole from the murdered family, to drive him from New York back to Maryland

"We believe he saw himself on the news and just took off," Fernandez said. Investigators then tracked Wint to a Howard Johnson Express Inn in College Park, Maryland, on Thursday night, he said.

A team realized Wint was probably in one of two vehicles in the motel parking lot: a car or a moving truck. The vehicles left together and the team followed as they took a U-turn and a strange route.

"We thought they were either trying to throw off a trail or see if anyone was following them," Fernandez said. 

Fernandez says at one point, the team had about 20 undercover vehicles following Wint. His team then had to figure out how to stop both vehicles at once. 

"Stopping two vehicles at once with a pinning maneuver is difficult. We had never done it with two vehicles, and we had never done it with a box truck," Fernandez explained. 

Officers eventually got between the two vehicles in 1000 block of Rhode Island Avenue NE at about 11 p.m. and took Wint into custody, along with several men and women, Fernandez said. The men and woman taken into custody along with Wint have not been formally charged or arrested.

"We had overwhelming numbers and force," Fernandez said. "They completely submitted immediately."

Fernandez said he noticed a big wad of cash in the moving truck, but he didn't know how much was there. NBC News has confirmed that at least $10,000 was found in the moving truck.

It was not clear whether that money might have been connected to the Savopoulos family. Fernandez said he did not know whether any weapons were found as the group was taken into custody.

Wint is charged with first-degree murder while armed in the deaths of Savvas Savopoulos, 46; his wife, Amy Savopoulos, 47; their son, Philip; and housekeeper Veralicia "Vera" Figueroa, 57.

Their bodies were found in the Savopoulos family's burning mansion early in the afternoon of May 14.

Authorities had searched several locations in Maryland for Wint on Wednesday night and Thursday. Law enforcement sources said Thursday afternoon they believed Wint took a bus to New York City and arrived in Brooklyn in the previous 24 hours, before returning to the D.C. area.

A law enforcement official told NBC 4 New York's Jonathan Dienst that they tracked Wint to Brooklyn in part through his phone, which his girlfriend had when they interviewed her Thursday.

Wint's girlfriend, a Brooklyn resident, talked to NYPD officers at the 69th Precinct in Brooklyn for hours after being picked up at her apartment Thursday. She told police Wint was going back to D.C., possibly to surrender. She is not under arrest, NBC 4 New York reports.

Police believe the victims were kept bound and threatened overnight the night before they were killed.

Sometime that night, someone called Domino's from their house and ordered pizza. Sources say Wint's DNA was found on a pizza crust

The next morning, someone delivered $40,000 in cash to the multimillion-dollar house. The cash was withdrawn from an account at American Iron Works, where Savvas Savopoulos served as CEO. 

Sometime after the cash arrived, the home was set on fire, leading to the discovery of the bodies.

Three of the victims had been beaten and stabbed to death, and some of the bodies smelled of gasoline, police said.

Philip's body was so badly burned that investigators aren't sure if he was injured before the fire was set, and he still hasn't been officially identified, sources close to the investigation said.

His body was found in his room; three other bodies were found on the floor in another bedroom.

Later on the afternoon of May 14, the family's Porsche was found burning in a church parking lot in suburban Maryland. Police had circulated the grainy image of a person leaving the scene of the car fire, wearing black clothing.

Police said Thursday that they haven't ruled out the possibility that other people were involved in the slayings, but no other suspects have been identified.

Who is Daron Dylon Wint?

From 2003 to 2005, Wint worked as a welder at American Iron Works, where victim Savvas Savopoulos served as CEO, sources said. One of Wint's relatives was also fired from the company.

An American Iron Works welder -- who said he lost a great friend in Savopoulos -- told News4 that Wint couldn't get along with any of his coworkers when he worked there.

Attorney Robin Ficker, who has represented Wint in the past, told News4 he doesn't believe Wint did it.

"He is a gentle guy. He was a student at Prince George's Community College. He wouldn't hurt a fly," Ficker said. "He's the kind of guy that you wouldn't mind your grandmother going to lunch with."

At least one police record lists a home address that is less than a half-mile from where the Porsche was found burning.

Message From the Housekeeper

Savopoulos and his wife, Amy, were well known in the neighborhood, often hosting parties for neighbors and friends, according to The Washington Post; the family attended St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in the neighborhood.

Philip was a fourth-grader at St. Albans, the private school near St. Sophia and the National Cathedral; two daughters were away at private boarding schools.

Neighbors who have been in the home said the family had an extensive and valuable art collection, which was on display a couple of years ago during the Christmas house tour put on by St. Albans.

The timeline of events that investigators are working from seems to match information from a longtime housekeeper for the Savopoulos family, who said she was a good friend of Veralicia Figueroa.

Neliy, who didn't want her full name used for security reasons, owns her own cleaning company and worked for the family for more than two decades. Neliy allowed Figueroa to work with her at the Savopoulos family's home.

On May 13, Figueroa texted Neliy to say she wanted to work at the home, and planned to finish by 3 p.m., Neliy told News4.

That evening, Neliy missed a call from Savvas Savopoulos, saying Figueroa was spending the night at the family's home. She heard the call on voice mail the next morning.

An Eerie Encounter

Neliy said Figueroa's husband went to the home the morning of May 14 to look for her and had an eerie encounter. No one answered the door when he knocked on it, but he told Neliy he had the feeling someone was standing just inside the closed door.

He went around the back of the house to knock again. As he did, Neliy said, Savopoulos called his cell phone. Savopoulos said Figueroa was OK and had spent the night, according to Neliy.

The fire at the home was reported about four hours later.

Neliy said Figueroa was hard-working and loved life. She'd come to the United States from El Salvador to earn money before planning to retire next year.

A GoFundMe page has been created to help with her funeral costs.

Throughout the week, federal agents and D.C. police have continued to gather evidence at the Woodley Park home. Meanwhile, in New Carrollton, authorities used a bloodhound to try to track down the person who torched a 2008 blue Porsche 911 stolen from the home on the day of the fire.

The Porsche was found burning in the parking lot of St. Christopher's Episcopal Church. At a banquet hall nearby, surveillance video of a person of interest in the case was captured on a security camera.

Police say Wint is the person of interest seen in the video. While he is difficult to see, police say Wint was dressed in dark clothing, including a hoodie with the hood pulled up.

Meanwhile, neighbors and friends are mourning the family -- and left dreading the idea of what they endured in the hours they may have been held captive in their own home.

"This was a beautiful family, a wonderful family with children," said Coco Palomeque, a friend of Amy's. She described Amy as "beautiful, vibrant, full of life and full of energy -- ready to jump into any project to help others, to help her community."

"The community where they lived really loves them, and we are here to support them if they need us," she said.

Staff members Pat Collins, Meagan Fitzgerald, Mark Segraves, Jackie Bensen and Shomari Stone and the Associated Press are among those who contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Wallenda Finishes Tightrope Walk]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 16:21:00 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/nikwallendaorlandoeye.jpg

A month after walking the 400-foot Orlando Eye untethered, renowned daredevil acrobat and Guinness Book of World Records holder Nik Wallenda completed another dangerous feat in Connecticut.

Wallenda, of the Flying Wallenders, traversed a 711-foot long tightrope, 75 to 80 feet in the air, in 13- to 14-mile per hour winds on Friday afternoon, as a crowd watched from below.

The tightrope was suspended between the fifth floor of the Rainmaker garage and the roof of Tanger Outlets mall, and Wallender stopped in the middle to do a ribbon cutting for the new mall.

Later during the tightrope walk, Wallenda even got down onto the rope and laid down.

“We like to leave our guests breathless with anticipation when visiting the Northeast’s largest resort casino destination, and nobody in the world leaves them quite as mesmerized as Nik Wallenda,” Felix Rappaport, president and CEO of Foxwoods Resort Casino. “He’s an amazing performer who has been leaving audiences astonished for decades. We’re thrilled to have him here during the grand opening weekend celebration for our new Tanger Outlets at Foxwoods. It will be thrilling as he walks high above the buildings of the 8.6 million square-feet of Foxwoods, North America’s largest resort.”

The stunt also benefits the United Way of Southeastern Connecticut, with Foxwoods vowing to donate $7.11-worth of clothing from the Tanger Outlets to the organization for every foot Wallenda walked.

Wallenda is a seventh-generation Flying Wallenda's Family member, has multiple Guinness World Records and was the first person to walk over the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls, according to a news release about the grand opening.

He set a Guinness World Record in 2010 for the longest and highest bike ride on a high wire in New Jersey and another one in 2011 for his "Wheel of Death" performance on on top of the Tropicana Casino and Resort, which is 23 stories high, according to the news release. He recently set two more Guinness world records doing a two-part tightrope walk in Chicago between two skyscrapers. 

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<![CDATA[Isla Vista Victim's Dad: "I’m Responsible Too. I Didn’t Do Anything"]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 12:52:07 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/216*120/VICTIM+FATHER.JPG

Since his son, Christopher, was killed during a shooting rampage in Isla Vista, California, a year ago Saturday, Richard Martinez has upended his life to advocate for gun control.

The former criminal defense lawyer who once gave little thought to the number of people shot in the United States now cares only about making sure others do not die as his 20-year-old son did.

"I feel a sense of urgency," he said this week. "I feel like the longer it takes us to get these things done, the more people are going to die for no good reason. It's that important. So for me, this is a matter of life and death."

Martinez is a senior outreach associate for Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control advocacy group. He has traveled the country asking voters to back candidates in favor of what the group calls common-sense gun legislation. He worked to get gun control measures passed in California and Washington and to turn back other bills in Florida.

“The level of gun violence in this country is appalling,” he said. “We have lock-down drills now in elementary schools and we regard that as normal. When I was growing up in the '50s and '60s in this country, no little kid ever thought of being shot and killed in their elementary school."

Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, a student at the University of California at Santa Barbara, was gunned down at a deli near the campus on May 23, 2014 when a troubled 22-year-old student of a local community college went on a shooting spree. 

Elliot Rodger had three guns in his BMW, a Glock 34 and two SIG Saur P226s. Firing out the window, he killed three people and injured seven others. He injured another seven people by driving over them with the car. Just before the shooting rampage, he killed three others at his apartment, stabbing to death two roommates and a guest.

Rodger, whose father, Peter, was an assistant director of the “The Hunger Games,” had earlier been visited by deputies from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office because his mother was worried. But the deputies failed to search his room or find his guns and left convinced of a misunderstanding.

Martinez’s activism began immediately after the shootings, at a sheriff’s office news conference where he emotionally denounced “craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA.” At his son’s memorial he challenged the mourners to send postcards to their political representatives with what was becoming his mantra, “Not One More.”

Afterward, Everytown for Gun Safety approached him about delivering some of the 2.4 million postcards created in response and he did. He hand-delivered postcards to Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a strong supporter of gun rights, and to U.S. Rep. Marco Rubio, who opposed some gun control measures as ineffective and infringing on the constitutional right to bear arms.

He's been working full-time for Everytown for Gun Safety ever since.

"Mr. Martinez said he never expected this could happen to his family -- but gun violence can, and does, happen in every town," said Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which merged with Mayors Against Illegal Guns to create Everytown for Gun Safety last year.

The National Rifle Association did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Martinez, 62, grew up on a farm in an extended family that hunted, and he served in the U.S. Army as a military police office in Heidelberg in what was then West Germany. Before his son was killed, he said he paid no attention to debates over gun control — not when 20 children were massacred at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, nor when some of their parents pleaded unsuccessfully with the U.S. Congress to pass an expansion of background checks for firearms purchases.

“I blamed craven politicians,” he said. “The fact is I’m responsible too. I didn’t do anything.”

Everytown for Gun Safety has turned its attention to the states. In November, Washington voters approved universal background checks for gun buyers -- a law the NRA said would be ineffective. After the Isla Vista shootings, the California lawmakers approved allowing families to ask a judge to remove firearms temporarily from a relative who appears to pose a threat.

Martinez said he would never know whether the new legislation could have made a difference in his son's death.

"But it's a new tool that wasn't available to families or law enforcement before," he said. "And it's something that can save lives because we need to do a better job in this country about keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people and that means felons, domestic abusers and people who are mentally unstable."

No laws will protect everyone all the time, but gun controls can make Americans safer, Martinez said, just as seat belts, air bags and other measures cut the number of deaths from automobile accidents. There is no single answer to gun violence, but many, and they will make a difference over time, he said.

On average 32,514 people die from gun violence in the United States each year, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

"Why is it we have to accept such a high level of gun violence?" Martinez asked. "It's not necessary. These things are preventable. There are solutions."

The NRA in the 1950s and 1960s was a far different organization than it is today -- civic minded and safety conscious, he said.

"Their attitude towards gun safety was far different in that time period than it is now," he said. "They need to get back to their traditional values."

His son, whom he described as funny, kind, generous and gentle, was competitive in academics and athletics and wanted to follow his parents into law. His mother, Caryn Michaels, is a deputy district attorney in San Luis Obispo.

"He just enjoyed life," Richard Martinez said. "He was just an absolutely terrific kid."

Martinez himself has not been back in the courtroom since his son died. What is important to him now is trying to save the lives of other young people.

"That's why I get up in the morning," he said. "Otherwise -- my son was the center of my life. He meant everything to me."
 


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<![CDATA[Adorable Zoo Babies: Baby Beluga]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 12:11:19 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/beluga-whale-baby.gif See all the newest arrivals at zoos around the world. Baby lions, tigers and bears step into the spotlight.

Photo Credit: Georgia Aquarium]]>
<![CDATA[2 Arrested for Trying to Join ISIS]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 11:54:02 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP174818460670.jpg

Two men were arrested Thursday night, one at LAX and one in Orange County, by a Joint Terrorism Task Force, the FBI said.

While the sources would not elaborate on specifics, they said the case involved suspects who are trying to travel abroad to join ISIS. The men were expected to be charged Friday.

The unarmed suspects fit a pattern of individuals who had been recruited by ISIS as foreign fighters, particularly through social media propaganda, sources told NBC News.

The task force includes agents from the FBI, Anaheim police and the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

The men were identified Fruday as Muhanad Badawi, 24, and Nader Elhuzayel, 24, both from Anaheim, according to U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Thom Mrozek.

One was arrested at an Inn in the city, she said Friday, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.

The FBI has served at least two search warrants in connection with the case, according to NBC News.

Law enforcement sources told NBC News that there was no local public safety threat.

Ryan Bougard and Asher Klein contributed to this report.

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<![CDATA[Woman Shoots Robot in LA Standoff]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 11:13:55 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/5-21-15+Mobile+Home+Gun+Barricade.JPG

A 22 hour standoff with an armed 70-year-old woman at a mobile home park in Topanga finally ended peacefully early Friday.

She was taken into custody at around 3:30 a.m. without incident, then transported to a local hospital for treatment, a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokesman said. Neighbors will finally be allowed to return to their homes.

The woman is said to have earlier shot a robot when officials sent it to make contact with her after alleged threats were made against residents at the park on the 4200 block of Topanga Canyon Boulevard.

The standoff was sparked after a call was made at 5:35 a.m. reporting someone in need of medical attention.

Upon arrival, emergency crews found the woman with a gun, a representative with the Woodland Park Mobile Estates said. She also allegedly pointed her weapon at deputies.

The representative said the woman ran through a neighbor’s backyard and threatened residents.

Late Thursday, residents were running out of patience after being shut out of their homes due to the standoff.

"I just want to get back home, this is kind of ridiculous," a neighbor named Theresa said. "I feel if I was in the bushes I would've been shot at about 12 hours ago."

"I've been out of my house since about 8:30 this morning," resident Kendall Childs said. "Fortunately I have a very nice neighbor who let me into her home... everybody's been really great on our street."

After a couple of hours, officials sent a robot to contact the woman, who then shot at it twice, deputies said.

A crisis negotiation team was working to safely defuse the barricade situation. Tear gas was used in an attempt to flush her out, but she remained indoors. Extra deputies and an rescue vehicle equipped with a forklift were also deployed.

The standoff was ongoing as of 1:30 a.m, an LA County Sheriff's Department spokesman said. 

Beverly White contributed to this report



Photo Credit: KNBC NewsChopper4]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Goose Attacks NBC Photog]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 12:45:03 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/goose-attack.jpg

An NBC 5 photographer was just taking a gander at rising lake levels, but it was enough to ruffle the feathers of one Fort Worth goose.

Kerry Smith began unpacking his camera equipment and setting up for a live shot of Lake Worth for the morning broadcast when the goose spotted him.

"It started squawking at me as soon as I arrived," he said.

The goose circled Smith and voiced its displeasure for several minutes before losing its patience and asserting its dominance.

"I thought we had come to an understanding, but clearly the goose wasn't happy with the terms," Smith said. "I apparently wasn't getting the message that this was his territory."

After the attack, the goose — now sporting an inflated ego — refused to let Smith pack up and leave for a while. Smith said he was just ready for the incident to end.

"I am just a little embarrassed that I turned into Shirley Temple," he said. "Samantha [Davies] had just said when we were live that the goose looked harmless."



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Marathon Victim's Family Grateful]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 09:38:49 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Lingzi.JPG

The Chinese family of Lingzi Lu, the 23-year-old Boston University graduate student who was killed in the Boston Marathon bombings, have thanked Boston for the "unending river of love and kindness" they've received from the city and its "true heroes."

Lu's family thanked first responders, health care professionals and strangers who risked their lives to save others in an open letter in the Boston Globe.

"During the darkest days and nights since the passing of our dear daughter Lingzi, we have been gifted with an unending river of love and kindness from the Boston community and people from all over the world," the letter read, in part. "We are humbled and forever grateful for your continued generosity, support, and encouragement."

Over 260 people were injured and three people were killed, including Lu, in the April 15, 2013 bombings.

Lu's family also thanked the jurors who convicted and sentenced Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death in the bombings for their work during the trial.



Photo Credit: Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[Boy, 11, Graduates From College]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 10:16:09 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/TanishqAbraham.jpg

At age 11, Tanishq Abraham was the youngest this year to graduate from a Sacramento college with three degrees on Wednesday night, and possibly in the school's 60-year-history.

"The assumption is that he's the all-time youngest," American River College spokesman Scott Crow told NBC Bay Area on Thursday. "But we don't have all the archives to completely confirm. He was definitely the youngest this year."

Tanishq walked across the stage, complete with rainbow-colored scarf knit by his 82-year-old grandmother and decked-out cap with reference to "Toy Story's" mantra "To Infinity and Beyond."

Quite the overachiever, Tanishq didn't earn just one associates degree from the community college. He earned three. They are in math and physical science, general science and language studies.

Afterward, he told NBC affiliate KCRA that the entire ordeal, especially sitting next to classmates twice his age and size, wasn't "much of a big thing for me."

He said some of the roughly 1,800 or so graduates and other college classmates were "intimidated of me."

But others liked having his young spirit around.

"A lot were really happy that there was a kid in their class," he said.

As for his parents, they looked pretty low-key about their son's unsual accomplishments at such an young age.

"Even in kindergarten," his mother Taji Abraham said, "he was a few years ahead. It just went from there."

Tanishq made headlines last year as well, when he graduated from high school at age 10, eight years earlier than most Americans do. He was home-schooled because he got "bored" in regular school, and ended up graduating with a 4.0 GPA.

His mother, a veterinarian, put her own Ph.D studies on hold to teach him, though his studies were complemented by taking classes at American River College since he was 7 years old.

His father, Bijou, a software engineer and Cornell University graduate who himself earned a perfect SAT score in math, said in a previous interview: "He came out smart."

When he was 4, Tanishq joined Mensa International, a group for people whose IQ is in the top 2 percent of the population. His sister, Tiara, who is now 9 and quite a singer, also joined Mensa and also takes classes at American River College.

As for post college plans, Tanishq's summer plans include taking an eight-week Calculus II course and a family vacation.

And for the long-term future? He's toying with the ideas of becoming a doctor, medical researcher or president of the United States.



Photo Credit: KCRA]]>
<![CDATA[Va. Cop Resigns Over Use of Force]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 06:33:31 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/01generic-police-lights12.jpg

A police officer resigned after inappropriately using a Taser and pepper spraying a man who was driving recklessly while suffering from a health emergency May 4, according to the Fredericksburg Police.

About 5 p.m. that day, 34-year-old David Washington of Fredericksburg was driving southbound on the Jefferson Davis Highway when his car crossed over the median into the northbound lanes and struck a Jeep, police said.

After Washington attempted but failed to drive away, the driver of the Jeep called Fredericksburg Police, authorities said. Two officers arrived, held Washington at gunpoint and ordered him out of the car, police said. When Washington did not comply, a third officer, Officer Shaun Jurgens, arrived at the scene and promptly used his Taser on Washington, police said. But the Taser did not make a proper connection and was ineffective, so Jurgens pepper-sprayed Washington as well, police said. Washington was then removed from the car.

During transport to a local hospital, it was learned Washington was suffering a medical emergency that started hours earlier, police said.

The other officers at the scene reported the use of force to superiors, and the command staff reviewed the incident and determined it was inappropriate, according to Fredericksburg Police.

Jurgens subsequently resigned from the Fredericksburg Police Department May 14.

“The use of force demonstrated in the incident involving Mr. Washington was not in compliance with department policy or training,” Capt. Rick Pennock said. “We take matters such as these very seriously and require that officers at all times exercise appropriate restraint and good judgment in their dealings with citizens."

Washington faces several charges, including hit-and-run, reckless driving, property damage, and a third offense of driving on a revoked or suspended license. Washington has yet to be served these charges.

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<![CDATA[Calif. Oil Spill: How to Help]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 05:46:11 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/180*120/Foto+Derrame+Santa+Barbara+15.jpg

Nine miles of a Southern California state beach are slicked in a major oil spill that California Governor Jerry Brown has declared an emergency.

But residents don't need to head to Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County to help clean up, or at least not yet. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is responding to the April 19 spill and is not requesting assistance from the public to clean up the thousands of gallons of oil that ended up in the water.

"We urge the public to stay out of the affected areas...closed because of health hazards (due to) the crude in the water," Coast Guard Capt. Jennifer Williams said. "Even the volunteers must be trained and wearing proper protective equipment."

Pre-trained volunteers are working with UC Davis's Oiled Wildlife care Network staff to clean and transport animals covered in oil from the spill, according to California's volunteer-organizing website.

Instead, the state says people can best assist by reporting wildlife that's covered in oil to 1-877-UCD-OWCN (1-877-823-6926).

Williams sought to manage the public's expectations of the water being quickly cleaned up -- a popular nearby beach, El Capitán State Beach, was closed indefinitely after the spill.

"Cleanup doesn't occur overnight. It's a long process," Williams said.

Officials say more than 7,700 gallons of oil has been raked, skimmed and vacuumed from the spill, a fraction of the crude that escaped from a broken pipeline.

Coast Guard Lt. Jonathan McCormick said additional crew members and boats will be added to the cleanup effort Thursday along the Santa Barbara coast. And Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman Michelle Rogow said Thursday that the cleanup would be moved to a 24/7 operation.

About 21,000 gallons of crude oil were estimated to have made their way from the ruptured pipeline to the ocean, according to a fact sheet provided by the cleanup command. Up to 105,000 gallons of oil in total were released form the ruptured pipeline. Officials could update both estimates.

More than 300 federal, state and local first responders people were taking part in the cleanup at Refugio State Beach as of Thursday, along with environmental cleanup contractors, Williams said.

The U.S. Coast Guard is overseeing cleanup in connection with Plains All-American Pipeline, the company responsible for the pipeline to Southern California that ruptured Tuesday.

 

"We're going to be here until it's returned back to the way it was," a Plains All-American Pipeline spokesman said Thursday.

More on the oil spill:
PHOTOS: Oil-slicked coast
Plains All-American Pipeline's safety record
State of Emergency Declared

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pizza Spurs Mansion Murder Manhunt]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 23:26:21 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/wint+mugshot.jpg

The man accused in the brutal murder of three members of a Washington, D.C., family and their housekeeper was seen in Brooklyn Thursday morning and may already be back in Maryland.

Daron Dylon Wint, 34, is wanted for first-degree felony murder while armed.

Authorities searched several locations in Maryland for him Wednesday night and Thursday. Law enforcement sources said Thursday afternoon they believe Wint took a bus to New York City and arrived in Brooklyn sometime in the previous 24 hours. He also may be back in Maryland by now, they said.

Wint's girlfriend, a Brooklyn resident, talked to New York Police Department officers at the 69th Precinct in Brooklyn for hours Thursday after being picked up at her apartment. She is not under arrest, NBC New York reports.

Police believe victims Savvas Savopoulos, 46; his wife, Amy Savopoulos, 47; their son, Philip; and housekeeper Veralicia "Vera" Figueroa, 57, were killed May 14, hours after someone delivered $40,000 in cash to the multimillion-dollar house.

Police publicly identified Wint as their suspect Wednesday night. Sources say DNA on a piece of Domino's pizza that was delivered the night of May 13 led investigators to Wint. The crust was analyzed at a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives lab.

From 2003 to 2005, Wint worked as a welder at American Iron Works, where victim Savvas Savopoulos served as CEO, sources said. He also had a relative who was fired from the company.

An American Iron Works welder who said he lost a great friend in Savopoulos told News4 Wint couldn't get along with anybody when he worked there.

The family was likely kept bound and threatened overnight on the night of May 13, sources close to the investigation tell News4.

The cash was withdrawn from an account at American Iron Works, the sources said.

Sometime after the cash arrived the following day, the home was set on fire, leading to the discovery of the bodies.

Attorney Robin Ficker, who has represented Wint in the past, told News4 he doesn’t believe Wint did it.

“He is a gentle guy. He was a student at Prince George’s Community College. He wouldn’t hurt a fly,” Ficker said. “He’s the kind of guy that you wouldn’t mind your grandmother going to lunch with.”

The case seems almost unimaginable in its brutality -- and in its location. It happened in the 3200 block of Woodland Drive NW in Woodley Park, a neighborhood of security systems and landscaped lawns just blocks from the vice president's home and near the National Cathedral.

Three of the victims had been beaten and stabbed to death, and some of the bodies smelled of gasoline, police said.

Philip's body was so badly burned that investigators aren't sure if he was injured before the fire was set, and he still hasn't been officially identified, sources close to the investigation said.

Philip's body was found in his room; three other bodies were found on the floor in another bedroom.

The family Porsche was found burning in a church parking lot in suburban Maryland. Police had circulated the grainy image of a person leaving the scene of the car fire, wearing black clothing.

Wint has a court record that includes charges of assault, carrying concealed weapons and theft. In a 2010 case, he was arrested after a Prince George's County Police officer found Wint with an open beer and a bookbag carrying a two-foot-long machete and a black BB gun near the trash bins at a Shell gas station.

At least one police record lists a home address that is less than a half-mile from where the Porsche was found burning.

Wint also had four previous arrests from Oswego, New York, including assault, harassment and violating an order of protection, a source familiar with the investigation told NBC New York.

Message From the Housekeeper

Savopoulos was the CEO of American Iron Works, which helped build major D.C. construction projects, including the Verizon Center and CityCenterDC. Savopoulos and his wife, Amy, were well known in the neighborhood, often hosting parties for neighbors and friends, according to The Washington Post; the family attended St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in the neighborhood.

Philip was a fourth-grader at St. Albans, the private school near St. Sophia and the National Cathedral; two daughters were away at private boarding schools.

Neighbors who have been in the home said the family had an extensive and valuable art collection, which was on display a couple of years ago during the Christmas house tour put on by St. Albans.

The timeline of events that investigators are working from seems to match information from a longtime housekeeper for the Savopoulos family, who said she was a good friend of Veralicia Figueroa.

Neliy, who didn't want her full name used for security reasons, owns her own cleaning company and worked for the family for more than two decades. Neliy allowed Figueroa to work with her at the Savopoulos family's home.

On May 13, Figueroa texted Neliy to say she wanted to work at the home, and planned to finish by 3 p.m., Neliy told News4.

That evening, Neliy missed a call from Savvas Savopoulos, saying Figueroa was spending the night at the family's home. She heard the call on voice mail the next morning.

An Eerie Encounter

Neliy said Figueroa's husband went to the home the morning of May 14 to look for her and had an eerie encounter. No one answered the door when he knocked on it, but he told Neliy he had the feeling someone was standing just inside the closed door.

He went around the back of the house to knock again. As he did, Neliy said, Savopoulos called his cell phone. Savopoulos said Figueroa was OK and had spent the night, according to Neliy.

The fire at the home was reported about four hours later.

Neliy said Figueroa was hard-working and loved life. She'd come to the United States from El Salvador to earn money before planning to retire next year.

A GoFundMe page has been created to help with her funeral costs.

Throughout the week, federal agents and D.C. police have continued to gather evidence at the Woodley Park home. Meanwhile, in New Carrollton, authorities used a bloodhound to try to track down the person who torched a 2008 blue Porsche 911 stolen from the home on the day of the fire.

The Porsche was found burning in the parking lot of St. Christopher's Episcopal Church. At a banquet hall nearby, surveillance video of a person of interest in the case was captured on a security camera.

Police say Wint is the person of interest seen in the video. While he is difficult to see, police say Wint was dressed in dark clothing, including a hoodie with the hood pulled up.

Meanwhile, neighbors and friends are mourning the family -- and left dreading the idea of what they endured in the hours they may have been held captive in their own home.

"This was a beautiful family, a wonderful family with children," said Coco Palomeque, a friend of Amy's. She described Amy as "beautiful, vibrant, full of life and full of energy -- ready to jump into any project to help others, to help her community."

"The community where they lived really loves them, and we are here to support them if they need us," she said.

Staff members Pat Collins, Meagan Fitzgerald, Mark Segraves, Jackie Bensen and Shomari Stone are among those who contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Biker Freed After Paying $1M Bond]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 19:42:44 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/jeff-battey-inset.jpg

One of the 177 bikers arrested following a deadly shooting outside of a Waco, Texas, restaurant is free after paying a $1 million bond.

Nine people were killed and another 18 were injured after an altercation led to a shootout outside of the Twin Peaks restaurant on Waco's south side Sunday afternoon.

Afterward, the 177 bikers not killed or injured in the melee were arrested. Hundreds of weapons, motorcycles and other vehicles were seized by police and either impounded or taken into evidence.

Bond for each of the bikers was set at $1 million by McLennan County Justice of the Peace W.H. Peterson, who said the bond amount was appropriate given the level of violence that occurred at the restaurant.

Jeff Battey was among those arrested and charged with engaging in organized crime with relation to a capital murder. He is the first to have paid his $1 million bond and was released from the McLennan County Jail.

Three others, originally charged under a different case number, had been released earlier in the week on bond amounts between $20,000 and $50,000. Their charges were later matched to the Waco incident and new bond amounts were reissued and two of the three men had been re-arrested, police said.

The third man, police said, would be returned to police custody and held on $1 million bond. At this time, it is not known if he is currently in police custody.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News/McLennan County Sheriff's Office
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Recall: Restraint Could Break on Booster Seats]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 20:02:29 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/OXO-Nest-Booster+Recall.jpg

The restraint on your child’s booster seat could potentially come loose and pose a fall threat to you child.

OXO recalled about 25,000 Nest Booster Seats sold in the United States and Canada at Buy Buy Baby, Toys”R”Us/Babies”R”Us and other stores from September through April, said the Consumer Product Safety Commission Thursday.

Restrain straps on the seats that come in green, pink, taupe and orange with a white base can separate from the seat, said the CPSC.

The CPSC said that consumers should stop using the boosters immediately and contact OXO for a free repair kit.

Consumers can call OXO at (800) 545-4411 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays of email the company.



Photo Credit: CPSC.gov]]>
<![CDATA[Gates Urges Scouts to Drop Gay Ban]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 17:26:34 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Boy-Scouts-America-Kerchief.jpg

The president of the Boy Scouts of America, Robert Gates, said Thursday that the organization's longstanding ban on participation by openly gay adults is no longer sustainable and called for change in order to prevent "the end of us as a national movement."

In a speech in Atlanta to the Scouts' national annual meeting, Gates referred to recent moves by Scout councils in New York City and elsewhere to defy the ban.

"The status quo in our movement's membership standards cannot be sustained," he said.

Gates said no change in the policy would be made at the national meeting. But he raised the possibility of revising the policy at some point soon so that local Scout organizations could decide on their own whether to allow gays as adult volunteers and paid staff.

In 2013, after bitter internal debate, the BSA decided to allow openly gay youth as scouts, but not gay adults as leaders. The change took effect in January 2014.

Gates, who became the BSA's president in May 2014, said at the time that he personally would have favored ending the ban on gay adults, but he opposed any further debate after the Scouts' policymaking body upheld the ban.

On Thursday, however, he said recent events "have confronted us with urgent challenges I did not foresee and which we cannot ignore."

He cited the recent defiant announcement by the BSA's New York City chapter in early April that it had hired the nation's first openly gay Eagle Scout as a summer camp leader. He also cited broader developments related to gay rights.

"I remind you of the recent debates we have seen in places like Indiana and Arkansas over discrimination based on sexual orientation, not to mention the impending U.S. Supreme Court decision this summer on gay marriage," he said. "We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be."

Gates said the BSA technically had the power to revoke the charters of councils that defied the ban on gay adults, but said this would be harmful to boys in those regions

He also noted that many states have passed laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, raising the possibility of extensive legal battles.

"Thus, between internal challenges and potential legal conflicts, the BSA finds itself in an unsustainable position, a position that makes us vulnerable to the possibility the courts simply will order us at some point to change our membership policy," Gates said.

He expressed concern that an eventual court order might also strike down the BSA's policy of banning atheists.

"Waiting for the courts is a gamble with huge stakes," he said. "Alternatively, we can move at some future date -- but sooner rather than later -- to seize control of our own future, set our own course and change our policy in order to allow charter partners -- unit sponsoring organizations -- to determine the standards for their Scout leaders."

Such an approach, he said, would allow churches, which sponsor about 70 percent of Scout units, to establish leadership standards consistent with their faith.

"I truly fear that any other alternative will be the end of us as a national movement," he said.

But some churches may be alienated nonetheless. Some Southern Baptist churches stopped sponsoring troops after gay scouts were allowed, and letting in gay adults will likely prompt even more departures, said Southern Evangelical Seminary President Richard Land, who formerly led the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

To him, Scouts shouldn't have leaders who are sexually attracted to their gender, whether a heterosexual man leading Girl Scouts or a gay man supervising boys, no matter objections that leaders of any sexuality shouldn't be assumed to be potential pedophiles.

"This seems to me to be sound judgment 101," he said, calling Gates' message a display of "political correctness."

The Utah-based Mormon church is the nation's largest sponsor of Boy Scout units, and in the past has supported the ban on participation by openly gay adults.

In a brief statement Thursday, the church said it would examine any policy changes "very carefully to assess how they might impact our own century-long association with the BSA."

The Human Rights Campaign, the largest U.S. gay-rights group, called Gates' speech "a step in the right direction."

"But, as we have said many times previously, half measures are unacceptable, especially at one of America's most storied institutions," said the campaign's president, Chad Griffin. "It's time for BSA leaders to show true leadership and embrace a full national policy of inclusion."

Until Thursday, there had been no indication how the BSA would respond to the New York Councils, which on April 2 announced the hiring of Pascal Tessier, an 18-year-old Eagle Scout. Tessier, currently finishing his freshman year of college, has been a vocal advocate of opening the 105-year-old organization to gay scouts and leaders.

Tessier had been getting legal advice from prominent lawyer David Boies, whose recent causes include arguing for recognition of same-sex marriage. Boies said it was possible that Tessier's hiring could lead to litigation between the New York chapter and the BSA's national headquarters, but he expressed hope this could be avoided.

After Tessier's hire, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office opened an inquiry into the BSA's membership policies and influence over local councils' hiring decisions. The office, which cited state laws against hiring discrimination based on sexual orientation, was reviewing Gates' remarks Thursday.

One of Tessier's lawyers, Josh Schiller, expressed hope that the BSA's ban would be lifted.

"People will join the Boy Scouts and look at them as an organization that has the principles of equality," he said.

Debate over the BSA policy has coincided with a steady drop in the organization's youth membership, which fell 7.4 percent last year to about 2.4 million.

After the 2013 decision to admit gay youth, some conservatives split from the BSA to form a new group, Trail Life USA, which has created its own ranks, badges and uniforms. The group claims a membership of 23,000 youths and adults.

Trail Life's chairman, John Stemberger, said his organization was "saddened" by Gates' speech.

"It is tragic that the BSA is willing to risk the safety and security of its boys because of peer pressure from activists groups," he said. "Trail Life USA remains committed to timeless Christian values."



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Sentence in Halloween Hit-and-Run]]> Fri, 22 May 2015 00:55:23 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/215*120/11-3-14-Jaquinn+Ramone+Bell+Booking+Photo+Halloween+Hit+Run.JPG

An Orange County, California, man was sentenced to over 15 years behind bars Thursday after pleading guilty to a Halloween hit-and-run crash that left three teen girls dead.

Jaquinn Bell, 32, pleaded guilty in March to felony charges in the crash that killed twin sisters Lexandra Perez and Lexi Perez, and friend Andrea Gonzalez, all 13 years old.

Bell was sentenced to 13 years and eight months in state prison and six months in jail, as well as an additional year and a half for a probation violation in a separate case. The OC District Attorney's Office previously said Thursday that Bell was given 14 years and eight months behind bars, but corrected the amount to a total of 15 years and eight months.

On Halloween night 2014, the 13-year-old girls were donning costumes and trick-or-treating in Santa Ana when Bell's SUV sped through a crosswalk and struck the girls.

Family and friends described the teens as girls who were "always laughing" and "always had a smile on their face." All three died at the scene.

Bell ditched the SUV about three blocks from the crash and ran away, but police captured him at a Motel 6 in Stanton over a day later.

Santa Ana police said Bell's 17-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter were in the vehicle with him at the time of the crash.

Several witness accounts of the crash with a description of the heavily damaged vehicle led authorities to the motel, where Bell was with two other adults, including his mother, and his two children.

Bell has a lengthy criminal record, including cases involving domestic violence, child abuse and endangerment, driving under the influence of alcohol and hit-and-run with property damage, all misdemeanors, according to court records.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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<![CDATA[1,000 Protest Low Wages at McD's HQ]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 13:23:24 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Fight-for-15---1.jpg

More than 1,000 “Fight for 15” protesters returned to McDonald's headquarters Thursday to rally for higher wages ahead of the company’s annual shareholder meeting.

Demonstrators marched down streets outside the Oak Brook building and gathered in front of the main entrance, which was blocked off by police. The group — police estimated there were more than 1,000 — chanted "If we don't get it, shut it down" and "No burgers, no fries, make our paychecks supersize."

Protesters delivered a petition with more than one million signatures calling for the fast food giant to pay an hourly wage of $15. While police said the demonstrators weren't allowed in, a McDonald's representative did come out to receive the signatures. 

The rally comes just one day after hundreds of protesters swarmed the headquarters, prompting the company to close a nearby restaurant and building for traffic concerns.

Demonstrators from the "Fight for 15" organization, many of them members of the Service Employees International Union, came from cities such as New York City and Kansas City to be on hand for Wednesday's rally.

"We go to work every day. We slave. We sweat for $8.25," said Dominique Mack, who works at a McDonald's restaurant at West Roosevelt Road and Harlem Avenue in Chicago. "That can't take care of our kids. We got a house. We got bills we need to pay. Like every other worker that goes to work, we would like to get paid like everybody else."

The campaign for pay of $15 an hour and a union began in late 2012 and has involved a range of tactics, including ongoing demonstrations in cities around the country. Earlier this year, McDonald's said it would raise its starting pay for workers to $1 above the local minimum wage. Labor organizers said the move falls short because it only applies to company-owned stores.

In addition to the wage increase, many of the workers on hand said they also want the opportunity to be represented by a union.

"Whether it's the eight-hour work day, paid sick days -- these are all things, living wages, that have been won by unions," said political activist Clem Balanoff.

McDonald's Corp. owns about 10 percent of its stores in the U.S., while the rest are run by franchisees.

The protests come as McDonald's fights to hold onto customers amid intensifying competition from smaller rivals and changing tastes. CEO Steve Easterbrook, who stepped into the role in March, has said he wants to transform McDonald's into a "modern, progressive burger company."

Thursday will mark his first shareholder meeting as CEO.



Photo Credit: NBC Chicago]]>
<![CDATA[Mansion Murder Suspect May Be in NY]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 23:19:58 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/mansion+murder+suspect.jpg

The man suspected in the brutal murders of a family and their housekeeper in an exclusive Washington, D.C., neighborhood last week may be back in Maryland after New York City authorities said earlier he may be in Brooklyn. 

Law enforcement sources told NBC 4 New York Thursday U.S. Marshals and the NYPD were tracking leads that suspect Daron Dylon Wint, 34, may be in the area. Authorities picked up Wint's girlfriend at her Brooklyn apartment and questioned her; she is not considered a suspect.

NBC Washington, citing law enforcement sources, reported that he may be back in Maryland and the D.C. area by now. 

Police were looking into the possibility that Wint took a bus to New York at some point, stayed with his girlfriend Wednesday night and left in the early-morning hours as the national manhunt for him intensified.

NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said initial information pointed to Wint having been somewhere in south Brooklyn at some point, though Police Commissioner Bill Bratton emphasized police have not been able to confirm he was in the borough.

"We have a very active investigation underway at this time assisting our colleagues at the Marshal service and the DC metropolitan police," Bratton said. 

Wint is considered armed and dangerous and was last seen wearing blue jeans, a blue hooded sweatshirt and white tennis shoes, authorities said. A U.S. military official says Wint enlisted in the Marine Corps about 15 years ago but never made it through basic training and was kicked out after several days. 

The Marine Corps had no immediate comment.

A law enforcement official says Wint's girlfriend told investigators the suspect told her he was considering turning himself in. 

DNA found on a piece of a pizza delivered to the slain family's home led police to Wint, who is now wanted for first-degree murder while armed in the deaths of Savvas Savopoulos, 46; his wife, Amy Savopoulos, 47; their 10-year-old son, Philip; and housekeeper Veralicia "Vera" Figueroa, 57.

The family had likely been kept bound and threatened overnight May 13, sources close to the investigation told NBC Washington. Police believe the victims were killed the next day, hours after someone delivered $40,000 in cash to the multimillion-dollar house. Some time after the cash arrived, the home was set on fire, leading to the discovery of the bodies, authorities have said.

The cash had been withdrawn from an account at American Iron Works, where one of the victims was the CEO, the sources told NBC Washington. Police said it's believed Wint worked at the company at some point, and they say that the crime was not random. Authorities say they have not ruled out the possibility that multiple suspects were involved in the murders, though they declined to elaborate.

The brutal murders in the 3200 block of Woodland Drive NW in Woodley Park, a neighborhood of security systems and landscaped lawns just blocks from the vice president's home and near the National Cathedral, shocked the local community and drew national attention.

Three of the victims had been beaten and stabbed to death, and some of the bodies smelled of gasoline, police said. The 10-year-old boy was so badly burned that investigators couldn't say if he had been injured before the fire was set, sources close to the investigation told NBC Washington. The boy's body was found in his room; the other three were found on the floor in another bedroom.

The family Porsche was found burning in a church parking lot in suburban Maryland. Police had circulated the grainy image of a person leaving the scene of the car fire, wearing black clothing.

Wint has four previous arrests in New York state in the Oswego area; he has at least two assault and harassment convictions from 2007 and an open arrest warrant for violating an order of protection, a source familiar with the investigation tells NBC 4 New York.

The suspect also has a court record in Maryland's Prince George County that includes charges of assault, carrying concealed weapons and theft. One of those records lists a home address that is less than a half-mile from where the car was found burning. In another case, in 2010, he was arrested near American Iron Works with an open can of beer and a 24-inch machete and a BB gun in a backpack. He pleaded not guilty to charges involving only the alcohol in a plea deal.

The American Iron Works CEO Wint is accused of killing, Savopoulos, and his wife, Amy, were well known in the neighborhood, often hosting parties for neighbors and friends, according to The Washington Post; the family had attended St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in the neighborhood.

Their son Philip was a fourth-grader at St. Albans, the private school near St. Sophia and the National Cathedral; two daughters were away at private boarding schools.

Neighbors who have been in the home told NBC Washington the family had an extensive and valuable art collection, which was on display several years ago during the Christmas house tour put on by St. Albans.

The timeline of events that investigators are working from seems to match information from a longtime housekeeper for the Savopoulos family, who said she was a good friend of Veralicia Figueroa.

Nelly, who didn't want her full name used for security reasons, owns her own cleaning company and worked for the family for more than two decades. Nelly allowed Figueroa to work with her at the Savopoulos family's home, NBC Washington reports.

On May 13, Figueroa texted Nelly to say she wanted to work at the home, and planned to finish by 3 p.m., Nelly told NBC Washington. That evening, Nelly missed a call from Savvas Savopoulos, saying Figueroa was spending the night at the family's home. She heard the call on voicemail the next morning.

Nelly said Figueroa's husband went to the home the morning of May 14 to look for her. No one answered the door when he knocked on it, but he told Nelly he had the feeling someone was standing just inside the closed door.

He went around the back of the house to knock again. As he did, Nelly said, Savopoulos called his cellphone. Savopoulos said Figueroa was OK and had spent the night, according to Nelly.
The fire at the home was reported about four hours later.

Nelly said Figueroa was hard-working and loved life. She'd come to the United States from El Salvador to earn money before planning to retire next year. 



Photo Credit: AP/NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Scrabble's New Words Bring the "Lolz"]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 16:42:50 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/scrabble-AP9407080176.jpg

Some people will find a few of the new acceptable Scrabble words “ridic.”

"Lolz", "cakehole," "thanx" and "ridic” are now able to be played in the word game, according to the latest edition of "Collins Official Scrabble Words" published on Thursday.

About 6,500 words were added to the comprehensive Scrabble dictionary, which already contains 250,000 accepted words, NBC News reported.

Words and terms of modern-day culture used to be difficult to pin down for dictionary makers in general, a representative at Collins said. However, technology has made the process a lot easier.

"Dictionaries have always included formal and informal English, but it used to be hard to find printed evidence of the use of slang words," head of language content at Collins Helen Newstead told BBC News. "Now people use slang in social media posts, tweets, blogs, comments, text messages - you name it - so there's a host of evidence for informal varieties of English that simply didn't exist before."

Here’s a few of the new Scrabble words:

Lolz — 13 points
Thanx — 15 points
Lotsa — 18 points
Dench — 11 points
Emoji — 14 points
Sexting — 15 points
PWN — 8 points
Shizzle — 18 points
Twerking — 16 points



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Pizza Spurs Mansion Murder Manhunt]]> Thu, 21 May 2015 13:55:37 -0400 http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP692342268838_3_Mansion.jpg

UPDATE: The man accused in the brutal murder of a Washington, D.C., family and their housekeeper worked at the victim's business "sometime in the past," Police Chief Cathy Lanier said during a press conference Thursday.

Go here for the latest updates in the case.


DNA found on a piece of a pizza led police to the man they believe brutally murdered a Washington, D.C., family and their housekeeper last week in the exclusive Woodley Park neighborhood in northwest D.C.

Daron Dylon Wint, 34, is wanted for first-degree murder while armed, police said late Wednesday. Just before midnight Wednesday, police were seen questioning people at Wint's last known address in Prince George's County, Maryland.

U.S. Marshals and the New York Police Department believe Wint could be in the New York City area, multiple law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation told NBC 4 New York.

The break in the case came when investigators found DNA on a piece of Domino's pizza that was delivered the night of May 13, sources close to the investigation told News4.

Police believe three family members — including a 10-year-old boy — and their housekeeper were killed the next day, hours after someone delivered $40,000 in cash to the multimillion-dollar house.

The family had likely been kept bound and threatened overnight May 13, sources close to the investigation tell News4. The cash had been withdrawn from an account at the company where one of the victims was the CEO, the sources said.

Sometime after the cash arrived the following day, the home was set on fire, leading to the discovery of the bodies.

Wednesday's developments were major breaks in a case that seems almost unimaginable in its brutality and in its location. It happened in the 3200 block of Woodland Drive NW in Woodley Park, a neighborhood of security systems and landscaped lawns just blocks from the vice president's home and near the National Cathedral.

Savvas Savopoulos, 46; his wife, Amy Savopoulos, 47; their son, Philip; and housekeeper Veralicia "Vera" Figueroa, 57, were found dead after the home was set on fire. Three of the victims had been beaten and stabbed to death, and some of the bodies smelled of gasoline, police said.

Philip's body was so badly burned that investigators aren't sure if he was injured before the fire was set, and he still hasn't been officially identified, sources close to the investigation said.

Philip's body was found in his room; three other bodies were found on the floor in another bedroom.

The family Porsche was found burning in a church parking lot in suburban Maryland. Police had circulated the grainy image of a person leaving the scene of the car fire, wearing black clothing.

Wint has a court record that includes charges of assault, carrying concealed weapons and theft in Prince George's County. One of those records lists a home address that is less than a half-mile from where the car was found burning.

Message From the Housekeeper

Savopoulos was the CEO of American Iron Works, which helped build major D.C. construction projects, including the Verizon Center and CityCenterDC. Savopoulos and his wife, Amy, were well known in the neighborhood, often hosting parties for neighbors and friends, according to The Washington Post; the family had attended St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in the neighborhood.

Philip was a fourth-grader at St. Albans, the private school near St. Sophia and the National Cathedral; two daughters were away at private boarding schools.

Neighbors who have been in the home said the family had an extensive and valuable art collection, which was on display a couple of years ago during the Christmas house tour put on by St. Albans.

The timeline of events that investigators are working from seems to match information from a longtime housekeeper for the Savopoulos family, who said she was a good friend of Veralicia Figueroa.

Nelly, who didn't want her full name used for security reasons, owns her own cleaning company and worked for the family for more than two decades. Nelly allowed Figueroa to work with her at the Savopoulos family's home.

On May 13, Figueroa texted Nelly to say she wanted to work at the home, and planned to finish by 3 p.m., Nelly told News4.

That evening, Nelly missed a call from Savvas Savopoulos, saying Figueroa was spending the night at the family's home. She heard the call on voice mail the next morning.

An Eerie Encounter

Nelly said Figueroa's husband went to the home the morning of May 14 to look for her and had an eerie encounter. No one answered the door when he knocked on it, but he told Nelly he had the feeling someone was standing just inside the closed door.

He went around the back of the house to knock again. As he did, Nelly said, Savopoulos called his cell phone. Savopoulos said Figueroa was OK and had spent the night, according to Nelly.

The fire at the home was reported about four hours later.

Nelly said Figueroa was hard-working and loved life. She'd come to the United States from El Salvador to earn money before planning to retire next year.

A GoFundMe page was created to help with her funeral costs.

Throughout the week, federal agents and D.C. police have continued to gather evidence at the Woodley Park home. Meanwhile, in New Carrollton on Monday, authorities used a bloodhound to try to track down the person who torched a 2008 blue Porsche 911 stolen from the home on the day of the fire.

The Porsche was found burning in the parking lot of St. Christopher's Episcopal Church. At a banquet hall nearby, surveillance video of a person of interest in the case was captured on a security camera.

The person is difficult to see in the video, and is dressed in dark clothing, including a hoodie with the hood pulled up.

Watch the Police Video Here
Meanwhile, neighbors and friends are mourning the family -- and left dreading the idea of what they endured in the hours they may have been held captive in their own home.

"This was a beautiful family, a wonderful family with children," said Coco Palomeque, a friend of Amy's. She described Amy as "beautiful, vibrant, full of life and full of energy -- ready to jump into any project to help others, to help her community."

"The community where they lived really loves them, and we are here to support them if they need us," she said.

Staff members Pat Collins, Meagan Fitzgerald, Mark Segraves, Jackie Bensen and Shomari Stone are among those who contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: AP
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