<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - National & International News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/national-international http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com en-us Wed, 01 Oct 2014 02:02:12 -0400 Wed, 01 Oct 2014 02:02:12 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[How Is Ebola Spread?]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 01:35:59 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/456202288.jpg

The first confirmed case of Ebola in the United States immediately sparked concerns about who may have been exposed, and helped shed light on how the potentially deadly virus is, and isn't, spread.

Ebola can only be spread by infected people who show symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. If an exposed person does not develop symptoms within 21 days of exposure, the person will not become sick with Ebola, according to the CDC.

"There is no risk to people who have been in contact with those who have been sick with Ebola and recovered, or people who have been exposed and have not yet shown symptoms," the CDC's director Dr. Thomas Frieden explained Tuesday, after confirming that a patient in Dallas had tested positive.

That patient recently flew to the United States from Liberia, one of the West African countries now grappling with a deadly Ebola outbreak. Because he showed no signs of sickness until four days after landing in the U.S., however, officials are not worried about travelers who were on the plane with him.

The initial spread of the Ebola virus to humans is unknown, although researchers believe that "patient zero" in the recent West Africa outbreak became infected through contact with an infected animal, possibly a bat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Once a person is infected, the CDC said there are several ways Ebola can spread to other people via direct contact with:

  • Blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola, including but not limited to urine, saliva, feces, vomit and semen
  • Objects contaminated with the virus, like syringes or other medical equipment
  • Infected animals, by contact with blood or fluids or infected meat

Direct contact through broken skin or mucus membranes is key, as the CDC said Ebola cannot be spread through the air or by water or food. However, that may not have been the case in some cases in Africa, where Ebola may have been spread through the handling of wild animals hunted for food and contact with infected bats, according to the CDC.

The following symptoms can appear from two to 21 days after exposure:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Unexplained bleeding or bruising
  • Muscle pain

Generally, after 21 days, if an exposed person has not developed symptoms, he or she will not become sick, the CDC said.

However, the Ebola virus has been found in semen for up to three months after exposure, so those who have recovered from the virus are advised not to have sex, or else only to have sex using condoms, during that time, according to the CDC.



Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Wife Shoots SoCal Mayor Dead: Cops]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 02:00:45 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/file-bell-gardens-mayor-daniel-crespo.jpg

Investigators released the wife of Bell Gardens' slain mayor after questioning her about the fatal shooting Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.

Sheriff's officials said Mayor Daniel Crespo, 45, was gunned down by his wife during an argument at their home.

Crespo punched the couple’s 19-year-old son, Daniel Jr., in the face when the teen tried to intervene during the dispute, investigators said. The wife then grabbed a gun and allegedly shot the mayor multiple times in his upper body.

Crespo was pronounced dead at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood.

Crespo’s wife, 43-year-old Levette, was detained and questioned at the Bell Gardens police station, sheriff's officials said. Daniel Jr. was also at the station.

"I couldn't believe it - I still can't believe it. I have a sick mom and now my brother is gone," said the mayor's brother, William Crespo. "He loved (his family) more than life. He loved his wife a lot, he always loved his wife."

The domestic dispute was reported at 2:30 p.m. in the 6300 block of East Gage Avenue in Bell Gardens (map).

According to the city’s website, Crespo was a Brooklyn, New York, native who had been married to his high school sweetheart since 1986. After moving to Bell Gardens, he worked as a Los Angeles County deputy probation officer for 15 years. He was elected to the Bell Gardens City Council in 2001.

California state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) released the following joint statement in response to Crespo's death:

"As representatives and residents of Bell Gardens, today's tragic news about the passing of our dear friend, Bell Gardens Mayor Daniel Crespo, is shocking and a tremendous loss for our close knit community. Mayor Crespo was a respected public servant who dedicated his life to protecting and helping others in Southeast Los Angeles and throughout the region. Our hearts are heavy with grief today; and our sincerest thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time. We ask that the public respect the privacy of his family during the impending investigation."

Bell Gardens is a suburb of about 43,000 residents. It's located roughly 18 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles.



Photo Credit: BellGardens.org]]>
<![CDATA[CDC Confirms 1st U.S. Ebola Case]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 01:14:11 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Screen+shot+2014-09-30+at+6.01.14+PM.jpg

A person who arrived from Liberia to Dallas a week ago has tested positive for Ebola, becoming the first person diagnosed in the U.S. with the potentially deadly virus, the City of Dallas confirmed Tuesday.

The patient was hospitalized at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on Sunday after falling ill four days earlier, on Sept. 24.

The Dallas Fire-Rescue ambulance crew who transported the infected man to the hospital is being quarantined and monitored for Ebola symptoms, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told NBC 5, and the ambulance used to transport the man has been pulled from service.

The number of people in the DFR crew being monitored is not known.

After receiving the Ebola diagnosis, the city activated its Emergency Operations Center and is on Level 2: High Readiness.

The patient showed no symptoms of the virus when he left Liberia on Sept. 19 and arrived in the U.S. a day later, according to CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden.

There was no risk to any fellow airline passengers because the man had no symptoms when he was traveling, Frieden said.

The patient didn't begin developing symptoms of the virus until Sept. 24 and sought care on Friday. He was hospitalized the following Sunday and placed in isolation.

According to the City of Dallas, the patient had moved to Dallas a week ago, however, health officials said the patient only came to Dallas to visit family.

It is unclear what the unidentified man's nationality is, but NBC 5 has confirmed the man is a father who previously lived in the United States. His last known residence was in the Liberian capital city of Monrovia.

At this time, state and federal health officials said there are no other confirmed or suspected cases of Ebola virus in the state.

The CDC is working to identify and monitor all the people who may have come into contact with the patient while he was infectious. Those people, like the DFR fire crew, will be monitored for 21 days for Ebola symptoms.

Should symptoms develop, those patients too will be isolated, and investigators will then determine who they came into contact with and monitor those people for symptoms.

"I have no doubt that we will control this importation or this case of the Ebola so that it does not spread widely in this country. It is certainly possible that someone who had contact with this individual, a family member, or other individual, could develop Ebola in the coming weeks, but there is no doubt in my mind that we will stop it here," said Frieden.

The Ebola diagnosis was confirmed Tuesday after specimens were sent from Presbyterian Hospital to the Texas public health laboratory in Austin, the Texas Department of State Health Services said Tuesday.

The Austin lab, which was certified last month to test for Ebola, confirmed the result and sent the sample to the CDC in Atlanta, which confirmed it.

President Barack Obama was briefed about the diagnosis in a call from Frieden, the White House said.

Word of the infection alarmed the local Liberian community.

"People have been calling, trying to find out if anybody knows the family," said Stanley Gaye, president of the Liberian Community Association of Dallas-Fort Worth. "We've been telling people to try to stay away from social gatherings."

Dallas Patient the Fifth Ebola Patient Treated in U.S. This Year

The patient is the fifth person treated for Ebola in the country this year after missionaries Dr. Kent Brantly, Nancy Writebol and Dr. Rick Sacra all contracted the virus while working in West Africa.

The Dallas patient will continue to be treated at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, according to Dr. Edward Goodman, hospital epidemiologist at Presbyterian.

Both Brantly and Writebol have fully recovered, after they were given experimental drugs and were treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta in August.  

Sacra was treated at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and was released Sept. 25. He had been working in Liberia on behalf of SIM.

The identity and condition of the fourth patient has not been released. It is believed that they are still being treated at Emory Hospital.

Writebol issued a statement Tuesday after learning of the new diagnosis in Dallas on Tuesday.

"We are sad for the family of the patient and pray for recovery to good health. It is a mercy that the best medical care is available. We also pray for the safety of the medical staff attending to the patient," she said.

How is Ebola Spread?

Ebola is a severe, often fatal disease spread through close, direct contact with blood or other bodily fluids of a living or dead person who had contracted Ebola. The virus is only contagious when symptoms are present, and it is not spread through the air, through food or water.

Symptoms for Ebola virus involve a fever, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and unexplained hemorrhage. Symptoms appear anywhere from two to 21 days after exposure but the average is eight to 10 days.

If someone exposed to Ebola has not shown symptoms for 21 days they are not expected to develop Ebola.

According to the CDC, recovery from Ebola depends on the patient's immune response. People who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for about 10 years.

The CDC said the United States is well-equipped to manage and treat Ebola and that the chances of an outbreak like the one in West Africa is extremely low.

NBC 5's Ben Russell and Scott Gordon contributed to this report.


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<![CDATA[Trooper Accidentally Shot Dead]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 01:31:56 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/State-Trooper-Killed-New.jpg

A Pennsylvania State Trooper died Tuesday evening after he was accidentally shot at a Montgomery County gun range.

Trooper David Kedra, 26, of the Troop K, Skippack station was participating in a training exercise at the Montgomery County Public Safety Training Complex in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, around 4:45 p.m. when he was shot.

Officials have not yet revealed what led to the shooting but say a bullet pierced his chest. They also say the shooting was accidental.

A medical helicopter took the trooper from the scene to Temple University Hospital. He was later pronounced dead.

Kedra's body was placed into a hearse and escorted by a police motorcade to the coroner's office on South University Avenue.

Kedra had been a member of the Pennsylvania State Police since June 18, 2012.

"He died serving the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the men and women of the Pennsylvania State Police mourn his loss and extend our sincere condolences to his family and friends," state police officials said in a released statement.

Trooper Kedra is the 96th member of the Pennsylvania State Police to be killed in the line of duty.

Investigators say the shooting appears to be accidental.

The gun range at the training center is normally used by law enforcement and first responders.

This story is developing. Stay with us for updates.



Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Accused W.H. Intruder Indicted]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 21:37:37 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP183397360031.jpg

The man accused of scaling a security fence and getting into the White House with a knife was indicted on federal and local charges Tuesday, according to federal prosecutors.

Omar J. Gonzalez, 42, of Copperas Cove, Texas, is set to appear in federal court Wednesday in Washington.

He was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury after they say he scaled the White House's north perimeter fence, ran across the lawn and entered the presidential mansion on Sept. 19 before agents stopped him.

A District of Columbia grand jury also returned a three-count indictment against Gonzalez Tuesday for unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon, as well as violating two District of Columbia laws: carrying a dangerous weapon outside a home or place of business and unlawful possession of ammunition.

After Gonzalez was arrested incident the White House, the U.S. Attorney's Office says he gave consent to search his vehicle, which contained hundreds of rounds of ammunition, two hatchets and a machete.

The federal charge carries a statutory maximum of 10 years in prison. The D.C. charge of carrying a dangerous weapon carries a maximum of five years, and the charge of unlawful possession of ammunition carries up to one year.

President Barack Obama and his family were away at the time of the incident on Sept. 19.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[New Sandy Hook Playground Started]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 22:31:33 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/principal17.jpg

Volunteers broke ground Tuesday on the last of the 26 playgrounds dedicated to the students and teachers shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The 26th and final playground will be named for school principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, who bravely ran toward the barrage of bullets and died protecting her students and staff.

Alongside the Where Angels Play Foundation, Hochsprung's two daughters helped to design the playground in Watertown, the community where her four grandchildren live.

One of the many volunteers to help make the project a reality is the father of a young woman who was also killed protecting her young students.

Carlos Soto's 27-year-old daughter, Victoria, was a teacher at Sandy Hook and died shielding her students from gunfire.

He said he was inspired to help after watching the construction of his daughter's playground. Soto charged batteries for the workers on Tuesday and cheered them on.

"From something ugly that happened, something beautiful is coming out of it," Soto said.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place on Oct. 5.



Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS
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<![CDATA[Arrest After Miami Mass Shooting]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 20:06:28 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/tiffanyjohnson2011mugshot.jpg

The manager of a Miami restaurant where 15 people, including children, were shot during a party last weekend was arrested and given a notice to appear in court for allegedly selling liquor without a license.

Agents with the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, in coordination with Miami Police, conducted an inspection of The Spot on Monday and found three bottles of liquor behind the bar, officials said. The restaurant only has a license to sell beer and wine.

That prompted the arrest of The Spot's manager, Tiffany Johnson, 31, and notice to appear in court.

Fifteen people were injured, the youngest just 11 years old, in a mass shooting Sunday morning at The Spot, which initially was reported to be a nightclub but is actually licensed as a restaurant.

Neighbors said the adult club had recently started hosting a teen night that was drawing large crowds.

Of the 15 wounded, one student named Trayvon was reported to be in critical but stable condition Monday. The other victims remaining in the hospital were in good condition. Some victims have been released from the hospital.

Lataara Ingram was one of the students who were shot. Friends told NBC 6 that she is a cheerleader at Booker T. Washington High School.

"Every time you see her, she kept to herself," said fellow student Briana Hines. "She doesn't cause any problems. So when I heard she was shot, it was unbelievable. Little Lataara. Innocent Lataara? Wow."

Police said it’s not immediately clear how many shooters were involved or what prompted the violence.

If you have any information about the mass shooting, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS (8477).



Photo Credit: Miami-Dade Corrections]]>
<![CDATA[Hernandez Cites Tsarnaev in Motion]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 22:54:13 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/tlmd_aaron_hernandez_miami.jpg

Defense lawyers for former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez are citing the high-profile case against Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in their motion to have their client's venue changed.

In a motion filed Tuesday, Hernandez's lawyers are seeking to have Hernandez's Bristol County trial moved, arguing that the jury pool has been "poisoned" by prejudicial pretrial publicity. They suggested moving the trial "outside the Boston media market" to Hampden County or Worcester County.

The defense team's primary argument is "a media frenzy, the likes of which have never been seen in recent memory," according to the motion filed by attorney Michael Fee. Twenty-four of the 26 exhibits filed are media accounts, including a search for "Aaron Hernandez" on NECN.com.

Another exhibit filed by Hernandez is Tsarnaev's motion to change venues, which was denied earlier this month.

Fee argues that Tsarnaev was not permitted to change venues from "the large and diverse pool" of about 5 million people, Hernandez only has access to "350,000 to 400,000, if not fewer," potential jurors. Seventy to 80 percent of the pool, Fee says, is "hopelessly biased."

Additionally, Fee says that the media coverage of Hernandez has been more negative than that of Tsarnaev.

"Indeed, the sympathy shown for Tsarnaev in the press, including his portrayal as an impressionable young man under the influence of his Jihadi older brother, is in sharp contrast to the universally pejorative portrayal of Hernandez," he wrote in the motion. "Moreover, this court is acutely aware of the presence of prejudicial publicity in this case, as the danger of prejudice formed the basis for the entry of the so-called "gag order" in February."

The motion also cites the association of negative media attention regarding fellow NFL players, specifically Ray Rice. A Google search of the two men's names was submitted as an exhibit.

"Indeed, the intense media coverage of off-the-field violence by other NFL players is keeping the Hernandez case in the news almost daily and this trend alone, leaving aside other coverage of Hernandez, shows no sign of abating," wrote Fee.

CLICK HERE to see exhibits 1-12.

CLICK HERE to see exhibits 13-26.

CLICK HERE to read the motion.

Hernandez's trial is scheduled to begin on Jan. 9, 2015.

Also on Tuesday, the defendant was in Fall River Superior Court for a hearing on the defense's bid to have evidence from his cell phone thrown out. The hearing lasted about five hours, and is set to resume on Wednesday.

Stay with NECN for more on this developing story.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Phelps "Deeply Sorry" About DUI, Other Charges]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 19:58:02 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/tlmd_tlmd_080212_phelps20i.jpg

Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps was arrested and charged with DUI and other charges in Maryland early Tuesday morning.

Tuesday afternoon, Phelps pleaded for forgiveness on Twitter, writing, "I understand the severity of my actions and take full responsibility... I am deeply sorry."

Police say Phelps was clocked driving 84 mph in a 45 mph zone on southbound Interstate 395 leaving Baltimore.

An officer then followed Phelps' white 2014 Land Rover through the Fort McHenry Tunnel on northbound Interstate 95, said Maryland Transportation Authority Police.

Phelps was speeding and crossing double lines in the tunnel, they said.

The officer stopped Phelps just beyond the tunnel’s toll plaza. Authorities say he appeared to be under the influence and failed a series of field sobriety tests. Phelps was cooperative during the process, they said.

Phelps was arrested around 1:40 a.m., TMZ first reported. He was charged with DUI, excessive speed and crossing double lane lines, and was later released.

The swimmer posted a series of tweets Tuesday afternoon, apologizing for the incident. "I understand the severity of my actions and take full responsibility," he said in part. "I know these words may not mean much right now but I am deeply sorry to everyone I have let down."

Phelps is the most decorated Olympic athlete in history with 22 medals: 18 gold, two silver and two bronze. He won an unprecedented eight gold medals in eight events at the Beijing Games in 2008, and returned to win four more golds at the London Games in 2012.

The swimmer said after the London Games that he was finished with competitive swimming. But he recently returned to the pool, competing in significant championship events this summer. He has not yet confirmed his plans for the Summer Games in Rio in 2016.

Phelps has been charged with DUI previously. In November 2004, he was stopped by state troopers in Salisbury, Maryland, after failing to stop for a stop sign. He was 19 at the time.

In that case, Phelps pleaded guilty to driving while impaired. He was fined $250 and was ordered to serve 18 months probation.

During an interview with Matt Lauer on "Today," Phelps called the event an isolated incident and said he had "let myself down and my family down... I think I let a lot of people in the country down."

Phelps faced further controversy when a photograph surfaced in February 2009 showing him with a water pipe used to smoke tobacco or marijuana.

Phelps publicly apologized and admitted that the image, taken at a student party at the University of South Carolina, was authentic. The brouhaha surrounding the photo resulted in the swimmer losing Kellogg's as a sponsor and a three-month suspension from USA Swimming.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Bear Cornered After 6-Hour Chase]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 22:04:46 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/bear+in+tree+vid.jpg

Animal control officials managed to shoot a bear with a tranquilizer dart after it climbed a tree near a northern New Jersey elementary school, camped out there for a bit and shimmied the 40 feet back down before running off in the opposite direction, leading authorities on a six-hour chase.

Authorities were trying to coax the 301-pound bear down low enough so they could tranquilize it and safely catch it in a net, but the bear apparently came all the way to the ground on its own -- and escaped.

The bear led authorities on a chase through Ridgewood after it climbed about 40 feet up a tree in the front yard of a home near Ridge Elementary School around 9:30 a.m. It ran toward Godwin Avenue and climbed another tree there, then climbed down that one and ran off again before authorities found it nestled in the crook of yet another tree, this time on Lake Street.

The bruin clung to a branch for awhile, but the effect of the tranquilizer dart eventually made it fall into a safety net held by emergency responders. The bear, a male, was not harmed. It will be tagged and marked and driven back to the woods in northwest New Jersey. Authorities said it never behaved aggressively.

No injuries were reported and students in nearby schools were able to go home as scheduled.

An hour before the bear was spotted near the elementary school, sanitation workers reported seeing a bear and two cubs at a leaf dump. Authorities also got a call about a large bear spotted elsewhere in town.

The multiple sightings in Ridgewood come a day after officials at an elementary school in Wayne, a county over, canceled outdoor recess for the second time in two weeks after a bear was spotted wandering through the neighborhood.

Police say the bear in Wayne, believed to be the same one spotted in the area last week, hasn't shown aggressive behavior. It was seen in the woods surrounding the Toys R Us corporate headquarters over the weekend and on various blocks around the Pines Lake neighborhood.

Residents in nearby Oakland have also seen a mother black bear and her cubs walking near houses.

Many homeowners are taking the bears more seriously after Rutgers senior Darsh Patel was killed in a bear attack in West Milford last Sunday, the first fatal bear attack in New Jersey in at least 150 years.

Since the bear hunt in New Jersey began four years ago, the number of bear nuisance complaints have gone down by 43 percent.

But in 2014, the numbers have been going back up, with a 30 percent increase in bear nuisance calls compared to last year. Biologists are still trying to determine why.

Follow Jen Maxfield on Twitter @JenMaxfield4NY 

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Brain Injury Erases Wedding Memory]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 22:07:31 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/bride+memory+loss.jpg

A Queens couple celebrated a unique wedding anniversary in a Long Island hospital Tuesday, insisting their love helped conquer a near fatal brain hemorrhage.

Tunicia and Raleigh Hall were married in June. A month later, complaining of the worst headache in her life, Tunicia Hall, 43, was taken to the hospital.

She was suffering from what doctors call an "uncommon" type of brain hemorrhage, a form of a stroke that strikes otherwise healthy middle-aged people.

As doctors treated his wife, Raleigh Hall, 50, realized she was losing some of her memory.

At one point, she asked the man she has known for 30 years, "Are we married?”

“I felt like I lost her,” Raleigh Hall remembered.

He covered the walls of his wife’s hospital room with photos of their wedding, in the hope that it would help her remember.

“I was fighting to get her back. Whatever came to mind, I tried," Raleigh Hall said.

Over time, the couple said, Tunicia Hall began to remember.

"The photos drew questions -- when were we married? And she saw something and I believe what she saw was hope," Raleigh Hall said.

Tunicia Hall said the process of recovering her memory was gradual, but she now feels "great" and is in no pain.

The couple marked three months as man and wife at North Shore University hospital in Manhasset, a few floors below the intensive care unit where Raleigh Hall spent weeks at his wife’s bedside.

Hospital staff presented the happy couple with a cake and then offered a toast "to life."

Tunicia Hall's doctor acknowledged that sometimes medical science alone isn’t enough to bring patients back.

“This is a great example of that,” said Dr. Richard Temis. “Patients families are key to recovery.”

"It happens," said Raleigh Hall. "When you see hope, it happens." 

Follow Greg Cergol on Twitter @GREGCERGOL4NY

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<![CDATA[Teen Accused of Climbing NYC Skyscraper to Take Photos: NYPD]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 00:19:41 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/432-Park-Ave.jpg

A 17-year-old boy has been accused of climbing an under-construction residential tower that, upon completion, will be one of the city's tallest buildings so he could take photos, police say.

The teen is charged with criminal trespassing and reckless endangerment after he allegedly scaled 432 Park Ave. to take photos from atop the residential tower that already looms over the midtown skyline and will stand at 1,398 feet when its finished sometime next year.

Police say the teen was arrested after investigators brought him in for questioning about photos posted this week to his Instagram account that appear to have been taken from atop the tower.

One of the images shows the city draped in low clouds with only the spires of One World Trade Center and the Empire State Building breaking through. In another, the vantage point shifts over the building's edge, showing the city’s streets peeking through the cloud cover. At least two others also appear to have been taken from atop the tower.

On his Instagram account, the teen describes himself as an “urban historian." The account includes dozens of photos taken from dizzying heights across the city, with some shots showing subjects precariously close to building ledges.

Some other photos posted on the account also appear to have been taken from atop the Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges.

The teen’s arrest is the latest in a string of breaches at landmarks across the city this year.

Earlier this year, another teen and four BASE jumpers were arrested after scaling the city’s tallest building, One World Trade Center, in separate incidents

Also earlier this year, a tourist was arrested after allegedly scaling the Brooklyn Bridge to take photo. A pair of German artists claimed to have scaled the span's towers to swap American flags with bleached-white ones. No charges have been filed in that case.

Below is one of the photos that appears to have been taken from atop 432 Park Ave.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Cocaine Found in Heels: Officials ]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 12:21:05 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/cocaine+shoes+jfk.jpg

A woman faces federal narcotics smuggling charges after U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at John F. Kennedy International Airport allegedly found nearly $65,000 worth of cocaine stashed in two pairs of platform shoes and a pocketbook when she arrived there earlier this month.

Customs agents stopped the woman for a routine check after she got off a flight from Jamaica Sept. 19. officers thought two pairs of platform shoes in her luggage seemed unusually heavy and brought her to a private search area, where they pulled apart the shoes and found a white powder that tested positive for cocaine, authorities alleged.

A similar substance was allegedly found in her pocketbook. That substance also tested positive for cocaine, officials said.

The woman was arrested on a charge of importing a controlled substance and turned over to Department of Homeland Security investigators. Authorities later said she would face federal charges.

A total of 3.7 pounds of cocaine worth about $64,000 on the street was recovered.



Photo Credit: Handout]]>
<![CDATA[Boy Losing His Sight Travels to See Northern Lights]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 22:10:25 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/NC_northernlightsboy0930_1500x845.jpg Young boy travels to Alaska to view Northern Lights and nature before he goes blind. Blake Essig reports.]]> <![CDATA[CA Plastic Bag Ban Approved]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 18:23:45 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/212*120/Plastic+Bag+Ban+Store+Counter+copy.jpg

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the nation's first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags Tuesday.

The measure, first proposed by Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla of Los Angeles, would prohibit single-use plastic bags at grocery stores and large pharmacies in 2015 and at convenience stores in 2016.

It includes $2 million in loans to help manufacturers shift to producing reusable bags and lets grocers charge 10 cents each for paper and reusable bags.

The bill had sparked one of the most contentious debates in the last weeks of the legislative session, with aggressive lobbying by environmentalists and bag manufacturers.

Moments after Brown signed the measure, the American Progressive Bag Alliance called it a “back room deal between grocers and union bosses to scam California consumers out of billions of dollars without providing any public benefit – all under the guise of environmentalism.”

The group plans to launch a referendum effort for the November 2016 ballot to repeal the measure.

San Diegan Laura Quinn-Stalker had mixed feelings about the news.

“Although I reuse my plastic bags constantly and will miss that,” she posted to NBC 7’s Facebook page, “I think this is important to do.”

“Won't see a dime saved in my pocket. Now, I have to buy garbage bags,” Oxnard resident Wade Wilson posted.

For years, a statewide plastic bag ban has been an elusive goal for lawmakers trying to reduce the buildup of plastic waste in oceans and waterways that costs millions of dollars to cleanup.

About 100 local jurisdictions in California already have adopted similar bans, including Los Angeles and San Francisco.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Convicted Cop Killer Mumia Abu-Jamal to Give Commencement Address at Vermont College]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 00:48:37 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/PHI+mumia+abu+jamal+042611.jpg

Prisoner, former death row inmate, author and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal will give the commencement speech at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont.

Abu-Jamal, 60, was sentenced to death for the 1981 murder of Officer Daniel Faulkner. Prosecutors later agreed to a life term after a federal appeals court ordered a new sentencing hearing, citing flawed jury instructions.

Since his arrest, Abu-Jamal has gained supporters worldwide who claim he is innocent of the crime and the victim of a racist legal system. Those opposing his release, including Faulkner's widow and Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, maintain that Abu-Jamal was Faulkner's killer.

Abu-Jamal currently resides at the Mahanoy State Correctional Institution in Frackville, Pa. after he was transferred there from death row in 2012.

The college announced Monday that Abu-Jamal, who received his Bachelor of Arts from Goddard in 1996, was selected by the fall 2014 graduating class. Officials at Goddard College say his commencement remarks were prerecorded and will be played along a short video from filmmaker Stephen Vittoria. Vittoria released a documentary on Abu-Jamal titled “Long Distance Revolutionary: A Journey with Mumia Abu-Jamal” in 2012.

“As a reflection of Goddard’s individualized and transformational educational model, our commencements are intimate affairs where each student serves as her or his own valedictorian, and each class chooses its own speaker,” said Goddard College Interim President Bob Kenny. “Choosing Mumia as their commencement speaker, to me, shows how this newest group of Goddard graduates expresses their freedom to engage and think radically and critically in a world that often sets up barriers to do just that.”

The commencement ceremony will take place October 5 at the Haybarn Theatre at Goddard College at 123 Pitkin Road in Plainfield, Vermont starting at 4 p.m. 

Goddard College is a liberal arts college with locations in Plainfield Vermont, Port Townsend Washington and Seattle, Washington. 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Pair Busted in Attack on 'Pirate']]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 10:25:00 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/093014+Muhamad+Ahmad+Ahmed+Othman.jpg

A South Florida man in a pirate costume was attacked and held at gunpoint by two men who were frightened by his appearance, authorities said.

Ahmed Othman, 24, and Muhamad Ahmad, 22, were arrested on charges including aggravated assault with a firearm, battery and false imprisonment in the Sept. 24 incident in Dania Beach, according to recently released Broward Sheriff's Office arrest reports.

Othman and Ahmad were booked into jail and later released. It was unknown if they have attorneys.

According to the arrest reports, Othman was near his home in the 300 block of E. Sheridan Street when he "saw the victim dressed in a pirate costume and it scared him."

Othman went to his apartment and told Ahmad about the bearded man who was dressed in black and walking down the street. The two grabbed loaded handguns and drove around until they spotted the victim walking in the hallway of his apartment building, the reports said.

The two men pointed their guns at the pirate and told him to put his hands up and get on the ground. One of the men put the victim's hands behind his back and put his knee in the back of the victim's neck, the reports said.

The men told the victim not to move or they would shoot him in the head. Othman and Ahmad later confessed to keeping the man against his will, the reports said.

The victim told deputies he dresses as a pirate around this time of year for entertainment.



Photo Credit: Broward Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA['Please Give Hannah's Family Info,' Morgan's Parents Plead]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 13:38:28 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/morgan-harrington-hannah-graham.jpg

The parents of a Virginia Tech student who was abducted and killed five years ago have issued a plea to the suspect in the disappearance of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham -- one day after police said the two cases could have a forensic link.

"I would like to appeal to him to please give the family information about where Hannah is. We need to find Hannah Graham. It is vital," said Gil Harrington, the mother of Morgan Harrington, during an appearance on NBC's "Today" show Tuesday morning.

Police have not said what kind of evidence links 32-year-old Jesse Matthew to both Harrington's death and Graham's Sept. 13 disappearance.

But this latest development may also help solve the 2005 sexual assault of a 26-year-old woman in Fairfax City, since the FBI previously said DNA from Harrington's attacker matched that of the person who committed that assault.

On Monday, City of Fairfax police spokesperson Natalie Hinesley said that in order to maintain the integrity of their investigation, they are not going to comment on whether the developments in the Graham and Harrington cases affect their case.

Both Graham and Harrington were walking alone, separated from their friends late at night, and on or near the University of Virginia campus when they disappeared. Harrington's father, Dan Harrington, said he was struck by the similarities in their cases, but didn't think the two were linked until recently.

"I thought it seemed very similar to Morgan's situation with sort of the question of her maybe being somewhat impaired, someone just picking her up and trying to take care of her," Dan Harrington said. "But it really came to light to me about two weeks ago when I saw a picture of the sketch as compared to Jesse... I thought, 'Oh my God, I think it's the same person."

Matthew's attorney, James Camblos, told NBC News that he met with his client in jail for two and half hours Tuesday.

Camblos said that the "Commonweath has yet to provide me with any evidence of links to those two cases," referring to the disappearance of Hannah Graham and the homicide of Morgan Harrington, NBC News reported.

Camblos said he would not comment on any possible links to other unsolved cases in the area, such as the 2005 sexual assault in Fairfax.

Morgan Harrington's parents have been actively involved in the search for Graham, posting flyers and joining volunteers in the physical search for the 18-year-old second-year student. They continue to urge the community to share any tips they may have about Graham's disappearance or the death of their own daughter.

"We have experienced firsthand the anguish of having you child missing, and we both feel that period of time was more difficult for us than actually knowing Morgan was dead," Gil added. "We are desperate to find Hannah Graham, so that her family has some answers.

Morgan was a student at Virginia Tech when she disappeared in October 2009 after attending a rock concert at John Paul Jones Arena at UVa. Her remains were found three months later in a field in Albemarle County in Virginia.

Matthew has been charged with abduction with intent to defile in connection with Graham's disappearance. Police arrested him last Wednesday after he was found on a beach near Galveston, Texas.

He has a bond hearing 10 a.m. Thursday and will appear in front of a judge via video. 

Monday's Virginia State Police statement also said that authorities continue to search for Graham, who was Graham was reported missing Sept. 14, the day after she was captured on surveillance videos as she walked alone along Charlottesville's downtown mall.

Police have identified Matthew, a hospital worker, as the last person to be seen with Graham early on the morning of Sept. 13.

Morgan's parents said they had never heard Matthew's name before police identified him as a suspect in Graham's case.

"The Virginia State Police is notoriously and consistently close-mouthed. They hold information very tight, and I understand the reason for that," Gil said. "...[N]ow that Mr. Matthew is back in custody, they have him and have plenty of time to unravel this snarl of information that's around him."

Shortly after their daughter's death, the Harrington's established "Help Save the Next Girl," a non-profit organization that aims to "sensitize young women and girls to predatory danger."

"We have worked over the last five years to raise awareness...of the need for safety and watching out for others, as well as personal responsibility," Dan said. "It is sad, and we're sad that this has happened. Perhaps this is now a way for us to not have future events like this occur in central Virginia."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington


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<![CDATA[Mom Pleads Insanity in Kids' Deaths]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 13:29:19 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/160*160/coronado1.jpg

A California mother accused of stabbing her three young children to death in May pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity Monday.

Carol Ann Coronado, 30, was indicted by a criminal Grand Jury on three counts of capital murder and one count of attempted murder in the deaths of her three daughters and an alleged attack on her mother, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

The indictment includes a special circumstances of multiple murders and using a knife in the commission of a crime, which means Coronado could be eligible for the death penalty.

Coronado’s mother found her in the family’s home near Carson after having a troubling conversation earlier in the day. Sophia, 2, Yazmine, 16 months, and Xenia, 2 months, had been stabbed to death.

Rudy Coronado, Carol Coronado’s husband, called 911 when her mother ran out of the house screaming and he discovered what had happened while he was working on a car in front of the house.

Carol Coronado was initially hospitalized with self-inflicted stab wounds before she was transferred to a jail ward.

Coronado’s attorney has argued his client suffered from postpartum depression.

She is due back in court Oct. 17.

City News Service contributed to this report.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington



Photo Credit: Facebook]]>
<![CDATA[$45K Ed Sullivan Statue Stolen From NoHo Exhibit]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 09:40:48 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/file-ed-sullivan-statue-stolen-atas.jpg

A brazen burglar went to a North Hollywood exhibit and stole a solid bronze statue of iconic TV host Ed Sullivan worth an estimated $45,000, police said Monday.

The 18-inch-long, 20-pound statue was reported missing from its pedestal Sunday morning from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’s Hall of Fame Plaza at 5220 Lankershim Blvd. in North Hollywood.

The statue, along with other tributes to classic TV personalities and pioneers, was being displayed in an outdoor exhibit.

Investigators were reviewing surveillance video at the plaza. They were also contacting local metal recycling yards for possible sightings.

Anyone with information was asked to contact the LAPD’s North Hollywood burglary detectives at (818) 623-4081.

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<![CDATA[AA Plane Makes Emergency Landing]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 10:16:33 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/199*120/aa-el.jpg

After circling over North Texas for nearly two hours, an American Airlines plane made an emergency landing at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport Monday evening.

AA Flight 1654 departed DFW at 5 p.m. headed for Baltimore/Washington International Airport.

Shortly after takeoff, the pilot declared an emergency due to a landing gear issue, according to a statement from an Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson.

The MD-82 made a low-approach flyby of the airport so officials in the air traffic control tower could perform a visual check of the landing gear. They advised the gear appeared normal, the FAA said.

The plane then circled the sky to burn fuel before safely landing at DFW Airport just before 7 p.m.

After landing, the passengers got off the plane via the rear staircase and were taken by bus to the terminal at gate C4.

One passenger told NBC 5's Bianca Castro they will be put on another aircraft later Monday to continue on to BMI Airport.

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<![CDATA[Pepper Spray Sends 4 to Hospital]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 22:35:27 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/140929-home-depot-evacuated-pepper-spreay.jpg

A Southern California Home Depot was evacuated and at least a dozen people received medical attention after a dispute between two men led to one blasting the other with pepper spray, police said.

The incident was reported just after 3 p.m. Monday at the store at 963 W. Badillo St., Covina. The two men, who police say had a business dispute in the past, bumped into each other and began to argue.

As the fight heated up, one man pulled out the canister, sprayed the irritant and hit bystanders, police said.

Four victims were taken to the hospital. One was in critical condition, while the other three suffered minor injuries, officials said.

The man was arrested for possessing a canister above the legal size, police said. Investigators were trying to determine whether it was an act of self-defense.

People inside the store were evacuated while a hazardous materials team investigated what was initially reported as a "chemical spill." The store was later given the "all clear." 

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<![CDATA[Largest Passenger Plane at DFW]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 08:54:53 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/qantas-a380-dfw-10.jpg The world's largest passenger jet, Airbus A380, landed for the first time Monday afternoon at DFW International Airport.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Wandering Bear Returns to NJ Neighborhood, Cancels School's Recess]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 11:35:43 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/IMG952014092995070943.jpg

Outdoor recess was canceled again Monday at the Theunis Dey Elementary School in Wayne, New Jersey, as a black bear wandered through the neighborhood for the second time in two weeks.

"It was in the middle of the street, walking, nonchalant," said Jessica Boland, who works in the Lionshead Lake section of Wayne. Dozens of other residents spotted the black bear there and promptly called 911.

Police say the bear, believed to be the same one spotted in the area last week, hasn't shown aggressive behavior.

"It's a wandering bear, it's been very calm and just keeps moving on," said Wayne Police Detective Captain Mark McGrath.

Over the weekend, the bear was spotted in the woods surrounding the Toys R Us corporate headquarters and on various blocks around the Pines Lake neighborhood.

Randi London, who lives there with her two young children and two dogs, said they've seen the bear before but aren't afraid of it.

"We are cautious with being outside, but we have a fence and we have animals and they keep us safe," she said.

Police are asking all Wayne residents to keep their garbage in bear-proof containers and to keep pet food indoors.

"The more they find food by people, the more they get comfortable around people and they're not intimidated, they come closer searching for more food," said McGrath.

Residents in nearby Oakland have also seen a mother black bear and her cubs walking near houses.

Many homeowners are taking the bears more seriously after Rutgers senior Darsh Patel was killed in a bear attack in West Milford last Sunday, the first fatal bear attack in New Jersey in at least 150 years.

Since the bear hunt in New Jersey began four years ago, the number of bear nuisance complaints have gone down by 43 percent.

But in 2014, the numbers have been going back up, with a 30 percent increase in bear nuisance calls compared to last year. Biologists are still trying to determine why.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

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<![CDATA[Man in Custody After Shots Fired Near Ethiopian Embassy]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 23:27:42 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/208*120/20140929+Ethiopian+Embassy2.jpg

A man brandishing and firing a gun was detained and questioned by Secret Service agents Monday morning within the compound of the Ethiopian Embassy in northwest Washington, D.C.

In video provided to News4 by ESAT TV, the man can be seen holding the gun in the air, as people around him on a plaza inside the Embassy gates attempt to talk him down.

At one point, the man lowers the gun and a shot is heard. However, police said no one was hurt in the incident.

The report of shots fired came in at 12:15 p.m. Uniformed officers from the Secret Service responded and detained a person they said was "believed to be the shooter." The individual works at the embassy.

News4's Darcy Spencer spoke with a man who was among the dozen or so protesters outside the embassy at the time, who said he was scared for his life, but isn't deterred from protesting again.

"It never stops because when our relatives and families are killed, how could you sleep?" Shimeles Bekele said.

It is unknown if the gunman will face any charges or if he'll face any sort of diplomatic immunity as an employee of the embassy.

D.C.'s Metropolitan Police and the State Department also responded to the scene.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington

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<![CDATA[$45K Ed Sullivan Statue Stolen]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 08:47:59 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/1470929-11pm-sullivan-statue_1200x675_335493699952.jpg Police were searching for the thief who stole a statue of Ed Sullivan worth an estimated $45,000 from a North Hollywood exhibit. Beverly White reports for the NBC4 News at 11 on Monday, Sept. 29, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Largest Passenger Plane Lands in US]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 21:02:25 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/qantas-a380-dfw-10.jpg

The largest passenger jet in the world, the Airbus A380, landed Monday at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, completing the longest currently flown nonstop route in the world.

The 8,600-mile flight was the first of what will be six weekly, nonstop flights on Australia's Qantas Airways between Sydney's Kingsford Smith International Airport and DFW.  The flights will depart and arrive every day but Tuesday and are expected to take just under 15 hours to DFW and 15 hours and 30 minutes to Australia.

"It's very appropriate that the longest flight in commercial aviation, Sydney to Dallas-Fort Worth, now has the largest airplane flying it," said Sean Donohue, the CEO of DFW International Airport.

In honor of the inaugural flight, the airline added a bit of flair to their kangaroo livery — including a cowboy hat and bandanna.

Additionally, travelers were offered the option of a Texas-inspired menu including barbecue sliders, Dr Pepper, rib-eye steaks and chipotle pork tacos.

After crossing the Pacific Ocean and Mexico, Qantas Flight 7 lumbered along on final approach before touching down about 25 minutes early Monday afternoon. After which, the travelers were greeted with a celebratory water cannon salute before coming to a stop at a specially-modified gate at Terminal D.

Actor John Travolta, who serves as the airline's ambassador, helped welcome the first flight to DFW.

"That was the happiest group of passengers and crew I have ever seen get off a 15-hour flight," said Travolta.

The Qantas A380 seats 484 passengers, including 14 First Class Suites, 64 Business Class seats, 35 Premium Economy seats and 371 Economy Class seats with room for four crew rest areas.

On Wednesday, Emirates Airlines joins Qantas as the second airline flying the superjumbo passenger jet into DFW; Emirates flights will be direct to and from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

DFW Airport has been preparing for its newest arrival for years. A decade ago, Terminal D was designed with the European-built A380 in mind.

“It always was the dream for this particular terminal to have A380 service,” said Perfecto Solis, vice president for airport development and engineering.

Consider the stats for the double-decker behemoth:

  • 500+ passengers
  • 261 foot wingspan
  • 79 feet tall

The plane is so large that workers at DFW painted its outline on the tarmac to see exactly how much space it would need.  They also used 3-D computer models to see how the A380 would fit in at DFW.

Despite years of advance planning, DFW still had to make $4.5 million in tweaks to accommodate the A380. Taxiways have been widened, and hundreds of seats have been added inside the terminal for waiting passengers.

But the most visible changes are at the gate.  The A380 will occupy two gates at once — D15 and D16.  Passengers will use three jet bridges, one of which rises more than 30 feet off the ground to reach the plane's upper deck.

With the arrival of the A380, DFW joins the ranks of cities like London and New York, where the A380 is a regular sight.

“I think it speaks directly to the fact that the international community sees DFW as an international powerhouse,” said Solis.

Airline officials say the new addition will have a $200 million economic impact on North Texas.

"This is a huge boost of confidence for Dallas-Fort Worth Airport and the community," said Qantas Senior Executive Vice President Vanessa Hudson.

NBC 5's Johnny Archer contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[Man Accused of Setting Fire That Halted Chicago Air Travel "Deeply Regrets" Actions: Attorney]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 19:39:44 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Brian+Howard+sketch.jpg

As engineers and controllers work to repair Aurora's fire ravaged air traffic control center, the man accused of setting that fire was ordered held in federal custody, his own lawyer arguing that's the one place he may get the help he needs.

"He made a tragic mistake in the course of trying to end his own life," said Ron Safer, the attorney representing suspect Brian Howard. "Only someone who is deeply troubled would do that."

The fire triggering widespread cancellations and delays at Chicago's O'Hare and Midway international airports, affecting travelers throughout the country.

Howard said nothing officially in court Monday -- save for giving the judge his name and birthdate -- but he did acknowkledge six family members sitting in the front row when he was walked in.

"I'm sorry," Howard said. They tearfully responded, "Don't apologize. We love you."

Prosecutor Andrew Polovin asked that Howard be detained because he "imposes a danger to the community." Howard's attorney, Ron Safer, countered that he doesn't impose a danger to the community, but to himself.

"What I would ask of the public is that they consider people in their own family, friends, touched by that kind of trouble," Safer said, "and that they summon the kind of compassion and forgiveness that they would want us to summon for those people."

Howard was cuffed and taken to the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago, where he will be held. No future court date was set.

As he was cuffed, his family shouted out in court that they loved him and started crying.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said Monday it will likely be at least two weeks before the Aurora facility, known as Chicago Center, is back on line.

"Visualize 29 racks of computer equipment," Huerta said. That's what this system entails. Twenty of those need to be replaced."

Huerta ordered a top to bottom review of air traffic control systems and security in ATC facilities across the country. And he said added security personnel are already in place.

"It's additional people, it's additional patrols, it's additional restrictions on access for core pieces of the infrastructure," he said.

Howard, a contractor who had daily access to the Aurora facility, is accused of pouring gasoline in critical areas of the building's basement and setting equipment ablaze, before trying to slash his own throat.

"Cut all of the cables, cut all of the automation," said former Chicago controller Bob Richards. "Everything that links that control center to the rest of the world of aviation. He was instrumental in taking it completely out!"

The president of the air controllers' union, Paul Rinaldi, suggested it was almost impossible to exaggerate the damage Howard had done.

"This is the biggest challenge we have faced in the national airspace system since the tragedy of 9/11," Rinaldi said. "We're going back to manually inputting routes, and you have a very large chunk of airspace that is not being controlled by anybody, and we're re-routing airplanes around this airspace."

Insiders have been warning for decades that the air traffic control system was vulnerable to just such an attack. Sixteen years ago, the Government Accountability Office expressed concerns about the possibility of both online and physical sabotage.

"Contract employees were given unrestricted access to sensitive areas without appropriate background investigations," that report noted. Two years later, the GAO sounded the alarm again.

"The FAA does not know how vulnerable the majority of its operational Air Traffic Control systems are," the 2000 report warned, "and cannot adequately protect them."

In 2011, the FAA's own Inspector General expressed shock that outsiders were allowed almost unfettered access to FAA computers.

"The sensitive information may provide a rogue employee or contractor sufficient understanding to identify and exploit weaknesses in the air traffic security structure," that report said.

"It's a simple case of somebody's who's already within the system who's just gone rogue," said Richards, the former O'Hare controller. He advocates a "missile silo" mentality, with a minimum of two workers required in any sensitive area.

In the meantime, the FAA said it was learning to work around the damaged Aurora center. While transcontinental flights were routed around Chicago's airspace, the Elgin approach control facility picked up responsibility for flights up to 17 thousand feet, as did companion centers in 18 other cities. Controllers from the fire-damaged Chicago Center were dispatched to other FAA facilities to help with the added loads.

On Monday, the FAA insisted that conditions at Chicago airports were improving. In a statement, the agency said that as of noon, more than 80 percent of O'Hare's normal traffic was arriving and departing, along with 90% of the normal capacity at Midway.

"The Department of Transportation and the FAA appreciate the patience of the traveling public," the agency said in a statement.
 

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington



Photo Credit: Tom Gianni]]>
<![CDATA[Cemetery Carjacker Hits Child: Cops]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 18:43:51 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Frederick+Sowell+1200.JPG

A Connecticut teen is accused of stealing a car from a woman visiting a gravesite in Bloomfield, then hitting a 10-year-old girl in the cemetery as he drove off Sunday afternoon.

The owner of the car, Annemarie Rabett of West Hartford, left the keys in the ignition of her Pontiac Sunfire while visiting a grave at Mt. St. Benedict Cemetery.

That's when 18-year-old Frederick Sowell, of Hartford, got into the car, police said.

"I went to get some water to water my plants at the grave and he took over and ran over to the car," Rabett explained. She and an 86-year-old friend were paying their respects to deceased loved ones when Sowell stole the car.

Rabett's friend had been waiting in the car and jumped out the passenger side when Sowell got in, according to police. Rabett said her friend was not hurt.

Police said the owner of the car ran back to her vehicle and grabbed Sowell through the open driver's door. But he pushed her away and took off, speeding across the graveyard lawn and driving over several tombstones, police said. 

When Sowell got to a portion of the cemetery across the Windsor line, he hit a 10-year-old girl who was with a group of about 30 other people visiting another grave, police said.

An ambulance brought the child to Connecticut Children's Medical Center to be treated for minor injuries to her back.

"That's not fair to peopple that are going to pay respects, and they hear somebody, you know, taking off with my car and going all over the place with it," Rabett said. "And then he hit the poor little girl. Then I felt bad. I started really crying because I felt so bad."

Meanwhile, several people who were in the group with the girl chased Sowell and stopped him at the cemetery exit on Cottage Grove Road, detaining him until police arrived.

Police charged Sowell with carjacking, second-degree robbery, second-degree larceny, first-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree breach of peace.

He was held on $250,000 bond and appeared in court Monday, where bond was raised to $500,000.

Sowell's mother, Valerye Houston-Sowell, said in court that her son has a history of mental problems and has been taking medication for bipolar disorder. Houston-Sowell said she had planned to take him to a hospital for treatment.

She explained that her son has no prior record and told her he was heading to the store before the incident. She said he has his own car and would not need to steal one.

"We were both thinking he could have had a knife or a gun on him, but he didn't, thank God," Rabett said.

Windsor police are investigating the crash in their town and are pursuing other charges, Bloomfield police said. 

Sowell is due back in court next month.



Photo Credit: Bloomfield Police
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<![CDATA[Man Dies After Fall From Miami Cruise Ship]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 13:03:09 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/092914+carnival+ecstasy+cruise+ship.jpg

A Carnival cruise ship passenger died after falling off a ship docked at PortMiami Monday morning.

The 20-year-old man was on the Carnival Ecstasy when he climbed the forward mast and fell from the height of two decks at Terminal E, Miami-Dade Police officials said.

He was rushed to a Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center in critical condition but later died, officials said. His identity wasn't released.

"Earlier this morning as the Carnival Ecstasy was approaching PortMiami, a 20-year-old male guest entered a restricted area and climbed up onto the ship’s forward mast. He subsequently fell and landed on the deck. He was initially treated by the ship’s medical team and later transferred to a local trauma center in Miami. Unfortunately, he has passed away. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones at this difficult time," Carnival said in a statement.

Police are investigating the incident but said no foul play is suspected.

Check back with NBC 6 South Florida and NBC6.com for updates.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC4 Washington



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>