<![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 Mon, 24 Nov 2014 11:11:56 -0500 Mon, 24 Nov 2014 11:11:56 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Two Rescued in Building Collapse]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 08:55:37 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/washington+park+building+collapse.jpg

Two women and a dog were rescued from the rubble of a three-story apartment building that collapsed Sunday night on Chicago's South Side.

About 1,000 power customers were left without power after the building, near East 58th Street and South Calumet Avenue in the Washington Park neighborhood, came down at around 7 p.m. after what neighbors said was a series of booms.

"I saw the door literally burst out from out the building," said neighbor McKiley Jonkins. "I didn't see the building crash or anything. I just saw the door, like, literally come to the middle the street and it hit my mom's friend's car. It busted her car window out."

Responding officials pulled two women, said to be 51 and 78 years old, from the debris. They were taken in serious-to-critical condition to both John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County and the University of Chicago Medical Center. Both were said to be in stable condition as of 5 a.m. Monday.

A dog named Tigger was also rescued from the rubble.

Officials later deemed the buildings that flanked the collapsed building as unsafe and ordered them evacuated.

The Chicago Police Department Bomb and Arson Unit was called to the site but there was no determination by early Monday as to what caused the blast and collapse.



Photo Credit: Chicago Fire Department
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<![CDATA[Top News Photos of the Week]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 10:17:05 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP539411045756.jpg View weekly updates on the very best photos in domestic and foreign news.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Death of Man in NYPD Stairwell Shooting Ruled Homicide: ME]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 10:19:01 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/gurley+stairwell+shooting.jpg

The death of the unarmed man shot by a probationary NYPD officer in a Brooklyn stairwell last week has been ruled a homicide, the medical examiner’s office said Monday.

Akai Gurley was shot and killed in a stairwell at the Louis H. Pink Houses in East New York late Thursday by officer Peter Liang, who was assigned to the public housing complex as part of a violence reduction overtime detail. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton has called the shooting an accident.

Liang and his partner, both of whom have less than 18 months on the force, were conducting a floor-by-floor sweep of the building and had gone to the roof when they noticed there were no lights in the stairwell leading up to it. Given the location and lack of light, Liang drew his weapon and a flashlight for safety reasons, police have said. The other officer kept his service weapon holstered.

As the officers were entering the eighth-floor landing, Gurley emerged on the seventh-floor landing. He heard a noise and turned to look up at the two officers a floor above him, a law enforcement source said. Then Liang, who had his gun in his left hand and his flashlight in his right, fired accidentally, hitting Gurley 11 feet below him, according to Bratton.

Gurley was shot in the chest. He stumbled down to his girlfriend, who was by that point on the fifth floor, and she tried to administer first aid, authorities said. Liang and his partner found the couple on the fifth floor; 911 had already been called. Gurley was pronounced dead at a hospital.

The medical examiner's ruling came shortly after Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson announced he would launch an investigation into Gurley's death. Thompson met with community leaders on Sunday, a day after more than 250 people marched in protest outside Liang's 75th Precinct, chanting and holding signs calling for justice.

The NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating along with the district attorney's office. Liang has been placed on modified duty pending the outcome of the investigation.

The police union has called for a thorough investigation. Neither the union nor the NYPD could immediately be reached for comment on the medical examiner's ruling. 
 



Photo Credit: AP/NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Man Steals Airport Vehicle: Police]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 11:05:30 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Zaragoza.jpg

San Jose police are investigating a security breach at San Jose airport Sunday - the third since April at this airport - and have arrested a suspect on charges of trespassing and stealing a maintenance worker's vehicle.

San Jose Police Sgt. Heather Randol said Miguel Zaragoza, 39, breached the airport on Sunday about 10:15 a.m. along the Coleman Avenue side of the airport. Employees of Atlantic Aviation captured him as he entered the property, escorted him to a lobby, and alerted police.

While waiting for police to arrive, he ran from the company's lobby to the public side of the airport and asked an employee driving a maintenance truck for a ride, police said. When the airport worker said no, the suspect stole it, according to police.

Police caught up with  Zaragoza, and arrested him at Terminal B. He never made it to the runway area, Randol said.

He will be booked into Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of possession of a stolen vehicle and trespassing, Randol said.

No one was injured in the incident and no further details were immediately available. And no flights were affected because of the incident.

Still, the breach had some passengers concerned.

"If a guy can come in and steal a maintenance vehicle, who knows what else they could do? " asked Sky Windsor of Santa Clara.

"It just makes you wonder about security," added Regina King.

And U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell commended San Jose police in this case for stopping the suspect so quickly, but overall, he said that security should be notified immediately after a breach occurs.

In August, Marilyn Hartman, 62, was arrested for taking a Southwest Airlines flight from the San Jose airport to Los Angeles, sneaking by a security screener without a ticket. She pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of willfully and unlawfully entering Los Angeles as a stowaway.

In April, a 15-year-old Santa Clara boy hopped the fence at the San Jose wheel well before hiding in the wheel well of a plane  and flying to Hawaii, miraculously landing safe in Maui.



Photo Credit: San Jose Police]]>
<![CDATA[1 Dead, 30 Hurt in Calif. Bus Crash]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 07:22:46 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/141123-norcal-bus-crash.jpg

California Highway Patrol officials have identified the driver of a charter bus that rolled off the 5 Freeway in Northern California on Sunday, killing a passenger and sending 30 more to hospitals.

The bus was traveling from Los Angeles to Pasco, Washington when it ran off the highway in northern Shasta County about 7:40 a.m. and overturned on an embankment, landing wheels up on a side street, CHP officials said.

The driver was identified as 67-year-old Jose Victor Garcilazo Palencia of Los Angeles. He voluntarily went into CHP headquarters for questioning, according to NBC affiliate KNVN. CHP officers say the driver showed signs of fatigue.

All but one of the other 32 people aboard were taken to hospitals in Redding and Mount Shasta, investigators said.

Most had minor injuries and were treated and released. Two patients were in critical condition and three more were in serious condition at Mercy Medical Center in Redding, where most of the patients were taken, hospital spokeswoman Heather Nichols told the Associated Press.

The 33-year-old man who died has not been identified. Investigators said he was a resident of Parlier, a small community in Fresno County.

Earlier Sunday morning during the same trip, the bus had been involved in a minor crash when it struck a Denny's in Red Bluff, CHP officials said. No injuries were reported in the collision, but the building's roof was damaged.

Photos of the all-white bus, a 1996 Vanhool, showed no large logos, but a sign on the door said the bus belonged to a company called Transporters Yellow Arrow.

The bus departed from Huntington Park on Saturday night.

The bus operator, Yellow Arrow LLC, is based in Othello, Washington. It has a current license and before Sunday had no reported accidents in the past two years, according to federal records. It appears to be related to a Mexican bus line.

Families of victims in the crash said they had never heard of Yellow Arrow.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Alayna Shulman/Redding Record Searchlight]]>
<![CDATA[Rapper Who Shot Cop to Be Executed]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 08:00:29 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Cool-C.jpg

A Philadelphia hip hop artist convicted of shooting and killing a female police officer will be executed next year.

Christopher Roney was convicted of first-degree murder for the shooting death of Philadelphia Police Officer Lauretha Vaird Jan. 2, 1996. Governor Tom Corbett signed an execution warrant for Roney on Friday. He is scheduled to be executed Jan. 8, 2015. Executions in Pennsylvania are carried out by lethal injection.

Roney, 44, was found guilty of first-degree murder and other offenses Oct. 30, 1996. The jury also returned a death verdict Nov. 1, 1996 in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas.

On Jan. 2, 1996, around 8:20 a.m., Roney, Ernest Canty and Warren McGlone tried to rob a PNC Bank at 4710 Rising Sun Avenue in Philadelphia. As the assistant manager arrived at the bank, Canty grabbed her as well as the bank manager and forced them inside at gunpoint. Roney then grabbed the head bank teller as she arrived.

A nearby business contacted police. Officer Lauretha Vaird, a nine-year veteran with the 25th District, was the first officer to arrive at the scene. As she entered the bank, Roney opened fire, striking her in the abdomen, according to officials. He and the other two men then fled the scene as other officers arrived.

Vaird, a 43-year-old single mother of two boys, died from her injuries. She was the first Philadelphia female police officer to be killed in the line of duty.

Roney and his two accomplices were arrested after police received statements from eyewitnesses.

Prior to his arrest, Roney was a hip hop artist who released two solo albums under the stage name “Cool C” in 1989 and 1990 as well as an album with the hip hop group C.E.B. in 1993.

Roney was recording a comeback EP at the time of Vaird's death. McGlone, who performed under the stage name "Steady B" was another member of C.E.B. while Canty was also a local hip hop artist.

Aside from Roney, Governor Corbett also signed execution warrants for Mark Duane Edwards, who was convicted of murder in the shooting deaths of a husband, wife and their pregnant teen daughter in 2002 as well as Dennis Reed, who was convicted in the shooting death of his girlfriend and mother of his son in 2001.

The three execution warrants signed Friday were Corbett’s 41st, 42nd and 43rd warrants signed since he took office.



Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Obama, Colleagues, Friends Remember Marion Barry]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 08:27:49 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/marion+barry+flag+half+staff.jpg

Friends and colleagues remembered former four-time D.C. Mayor Marion Barry who died early Sunday morning at age 78.

President Barack Obama added his thoughts to the many reactions on the passing of Barry.

"Michelle and I were saddened to hear of the passing of Marion Barry. Marion was born a sharecropper's son, came of age during the Civil Rights movement, and became a fixture in D.C. politics for decades. As a leader with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Marion helped advanced the cause of civil rights for all. During his decades in elected office in D.C., he put in place historic programs to lift working people out of poverty, expand opportunity, and begin to make real the promise of home rule. Through a storied, at times tumultuous life and career, he earned the love and respect of countless Washingtonians, and Michelle and I extend our deepest sympathies to Marion's family, friends and constituents today."

Barry collapsed early Sunday morning and was taken to United Medical Center where he was pronounced dead around 1:45 a.m. ET.

"He loved the District of Columbia and so many Washingtonians loved him," D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said in a statement that expressed "deep sadness" and promised "official ceremonies worthy of a true statesman of the District of Columbia."

“Marion was not just a colleague but also was a friend with whom I shared many fond moments about governing the city,” said Gray. “He loved the District of Columbia and so many Washingtonians loved him.”

Gray ordered flags at all D.C. buildings to be flown at half-staff beginning Sunday in Barry's honor.

In a statement released Sunday, incoming D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said, "Mayor Marion Barry gave a voice to those who need it most. I – along with all Washingtonians – am shocked and deeply saddened by his passing, and we send out condolences to Cora Masters Barry, Chris Barry and the entire Barry family. He has been a part of my family for decades, and he will continue to be an example to me and so many others.”

While speaking on News4, Ward 1 DC Councilmember Jim Graham lamented Barry's passing and its impact on the city he loved.

"The city has lost a huge chunk of its soul today with the passing of Marion Barry," Graham said.

Radio station host Donnie Simpson added his thoughts as well.

"Marion Barry was always about the people of DC from day one, long before he got that Mayor's seat."

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton offered condolences to Barry's family.

“From my earliest encounter with Marion Barry, when he was the first chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee until I came back home and found him mayor of my home town, I have seen Marion take hold and write his signature boldly on his own life and times and on the life of the nation’s capital. Many took his struggle to personify in some way their own, endearing him and making him a larger-than-life figure as he became a creator of post-home-rule D.C.”

Councilmember David Grosso issued the following statement on the passing of Mayor Marion Barry:

"I was saddened to learn of the passing of my D.C. Council colleague. Marion Barry was a strong advocate for Ward 8 and devoted his life to the residents of Washington, D.C. His strong passion for making our city a great city was only surpassed in effort by his incredible commitment to ensuring that the poorest of our residents were never forgotten. It has been an honor for me to sit next to Mayor-for-Life Marion Barry on the dais and serve with him on the education committee for the past two years. I learned a lot about my beloved city from him and a lot about him. I will forever respect what he has done for this city in spite of his many challenges over a 40-year career."

Barry's annual turkey giveaway will go on despite his death.

Barry's spokeswoman LaToya Foster said Sunday at an early morning press conference at United Medical Center, where Barry died, that the annual Thanksgiving turkey giveaway for needy residents would continue because ``that's what he would have wanted.''

The giveaway is scheduled for Tuesday at Union Temple Baptist Church in southeast Washington.

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<![CDATA[Bombing Victim Out of Hospital]]> Sun, 23 Nov 2014 12:27:26 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/218*120/141109-rebekah-gregory-boston-marathon-245p_dcc82314c6be1ae7336460e9b55c0ca7.nbcnews-fp-1360-600.jpg

A woman injured in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing who had several surgeries before having part of her leg amputated recently was discharged from a rehab facility Saturday and has vowed to run the race next year.

Rebekah DiMartino said she looks forward to getting her stitches out in early December and being fitted for a prosthetic left leg.

"The prognosis is great. I chopped off what was holding me back," DiMartino said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press as she packed up to leave. "The prognosis, is you'll see me running the Boston Marathon next year."

DiMartino had more than a dozen operations but still dealt with lingering pain. She had surgery Nov. 10 at Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital to remove her left leg below the knee. She entered rehab Nov. 14 and was going home Saturday to nearby Richmond.

Rebekah Gregory was watching last year's Boston Marathon when bombs exploded. Her son, now 7, and her then-boyfriend, Peter DiMartino, were also hurt. The couple wed last spring in Asheville, North Carolina.

Their Houston-area home still needs some modifications for accessibility, she said.

"I have been wheelchair bound for the last 18 months basically, so when we built our house we built it with wider doors," said DiMartino, 27.

She does not expect her loss of a limb to adversely affect the rest of her life.

"This is about to be Rebekah unleashed. They haven't seen anything yet. This is the good part of the story," DiMartino said. "Not only am I moving on, I am trying to do my part in changing the world while doing it."

A suspect charged in the bombing, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, awaits trial. His older brother, Tamerlan, was killed in a shootout with police after the bombing that killed three people and injured more than 260.



Photo Credit: NBC News]]>
<![CDATA[Mom Who Killed Kids, Dies: Police]]> Sun, 23 Nov 2014 22:28:02 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/212*120/Tabernacle+NJ+shooting-2.jpg

A Burlington County, New Jersey, mother accused of shooting her three kids in her bedroom before turning the gun on herself has died, according to New Jersey State Police.

Jeaninne LePage, 44, died at Cooper Hospital in Camden, New Jersey, Sunday morning, police confirmed to NBC10.

LePage, who was hospitalized since she and her three children were found shot in her bed last Thursday, is the responsible for killing two of her kids before turning the gun on herself inside their Holly Park Drive home in Tabernacle, said New Jersey State Police.

Police found the weapon — which has been in the family for a long time — close to LePage.

Eight-year-old Nadia Harriman and her 14-year-old brother, Nicholas Harriman, died, according to New Jersey State Police.

Alexander Harriman, 11, remained in severely critical condition at Cooper University Hospital Sunday, officials said.

Neighbors identified the victims Thursday, but authorities waited to confirm their names until they family members, including the children's father who was located in Maryland, were informed of the deaths.

Another relative who lives in the house found the victims around 9 a.m. and called for help.

"When police got there, they found a really horrific scene,’ said Jones. The victims were found in the same room and police believe they were shot with the same handgun, which was found at the scene."

Neighbors said that LePage shared the bed with her children and was in financial troubles.

Investigators believe the shootings occurred sometime between 5 and 9 a.m.

Nine people live in the house. They have all been accounted for and were interviewed by police, who assured neighbors early in the investigation that there was no manhunt and no reason for anyone to feel threatened or alarmed.

LePage tried to hide the shootings, according to police.

"A pillow was used to muffle the gunshot sounds, which we believe is why the other members of the house didn't hear the gunshots," said Noble.

The shootings shock the quiet community.

Members of the community organized a candlelight vigil Thursday night at Tabernacle's Town Hall, located at 163 Carranza Rd. At the vigil, children remembered their classmates.

Students and staff at Seneca High School — where Nicholas attended — had a moment of silence for the family Friday morning. Grief counselors were also on hand at local schools Friday to talk with grieving students and staff.

A trust fund was set up at PNC Bank under LePage-Harriman Memorial Fund.



Photo Credit: NBC10]]>
<![CDATA[Boy Awakens From Coma After Fall]]> Sun, 23 Nov 2014 20:40:45 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Screen+Shot+2014-11-23+at+11.37.01+AM.jpg

After nearly 10 days, a 4-year-old boy who fell off a cliff in Bodega Bay, Northern California, has woken up from his coma Friday.

Sebastion Johnson fell more than 200 feet down a seaside cliff nearly two weeks ago, as he was throwing rocks into the ocean with his family when he slipped over the edge.

"I wanted to jump off and and grab him and make sure he's alive," Sebastion's father, Daryl Johnson, told NBC's "Today" show of the ordeal.

Rescuers rappelled down the cliff to save him. They slowly lifted him to safety. Sebastion ended up with a broken leg, arm and jaw.

But, on Friday morning, Johnson's father said his son was breathing on his own and had his neck brace removed.

"We're amazed he's pulled through," Sebastion's mom Jamie Guglielmino told "Today." "We've given him a nickname,'miracle monkey.' Everyone in our family has a monkey nickname."

Sebastion was still recovering on Sunday and a GoFundMe Hope Fund has been set up for him.



Photo Credit: NBC's "Today" show]]>
<![CDATA[2 Dead, 1 Missing in NJ House Fire]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 09:06:57 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/112314fire2.JPG

Two people are dead and a third is missing after an intense fire overtook a New Jersey home early Sunday, a fire official said.

Firefighters arriving at the home on Union Avenue in Paterson Sunday morning were pushed back by the heavy flames, said Paterson Fire Chief Michael Postorino.

One person was discovered dead on the first floor, and a second was found on the stairs, Postorino said. The house - home to three people and a dog, according to a neighbor - was left with the windows burned out and the facade blackened by the blaze.

Officials were still working to identify the victims. One person remains unaccounted for, Postorino said.

The flames also damaged a neighboring building, and seven people who lived there were displaced, Postorino said.

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<![CDATA[Chemical Sickens 3 Deputies]]> Sun, 23 Nov 2014 18:29:48 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/141122-deputies-sickened-palmdale.jpg

Four people, including three Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies, were hospitalized Saturday night after being sickened by a chemical at a home on the outskirts of Palmdale, officials said.

The deputies were responding to a domestic violence call at about 9:40 p.m. when they encountered chemical fumes at the home on the 36400 block of Sierra Highway, officials with the Los Angeles County Fire Department said.

This story originally reported the home was a drug lab, which was being reported by county fire officials. There were medical marijuana plants, but they were allegedly being grown for medical needs.

The chemicals, originally thought to be part of the drug lab operations, were simply household fumes.

One of the three deputies was still being evaluated at the hospital, a fire official said. A fourth person, a female resident of the home, was also being treated at the hospital.

Authorities were investigating at the scene.

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<![CDATA[Marion Barry, "Mayor for Life", Dies at 78]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 11:05:55 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP070613024655.jpg

Marion Barry, an icon of D.C. politics good and bad for more than 40 years, has died at age 78.

"It is with deep regret that the family of former four-time D.C. Mayor, and Ward 8 City Councilman, Marion S. Barry, Jr., announces that he has passed," read a statement early Sunday from Barry's family.

Barry had been hospitalized at Howard University Hospital Thursday after complaining of a urinary tract infection. He was released Saturday, and family members said he seemed to feel well. "In his own words, he was 'fantabulous' -- his words, not mine," said Barry spokeswoman LaToya Foster at an early-morning press conference at United Medical Center.

Sunday morning, Barry visited with his son, Christopher, and then stopped to eat. On his way back into his home from the car, Barry collapsed. His driver brought him inside the home, unresponsive.

Barry was taken to United Medical Center at about 12:15 a.m. Sunday, and was pronounced dead at about 1:45 a.m. The District of Columbia's medical examiner said Sunday that Barry died of natural causes due to heart problems. A contributing factor was chronic kidney disease that complicated Barry's diabetes.

Reaction poured in as news of Barry's death spread early Sunday morning. "He loved the District of Columbia and so many Washingtonians loved him," D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray said in a statement that expressed "deep sadness" and promised "official ceremonies worthy of a true statesman of the District of Columbia."

Gray ordered flags at all D.C. buildings to be flown at half-staff beginning Sunday in Barry's honor.

In a statement released Sunday, incoming D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said, "Mayor Marion Barry gave a voice to those who need it most."

Barry had recently taped an interview with Oprah Winfrey for her show, "Oprah: Where Are They Now?" The Barry family statement indicated that the interview — which featured his new book, "Mayor For Life: the Incredible Story of Marion Barry, Jr." — still would air Sunday at 9 p.m.

Barry served four terms as mayor and had a lock on the D.C. Council’s Ward 8 seat. But along with that huge political success, many personal failures marked his turbulent life.

Early on in his career, the Washington City Paper dubbed him “Mayor for Life.” He confounded critics who railed against his melodramatic life, even as he basked in the admiration of forgiving citizens who looked to him as their champion.

The son of a Mississippi sharecropper, Barry emerged from the student and civil rights activism of the 1960s to serve on the elected D.C. school board and D.C. Council.

In 1979, Barry began serving the first of three consecutive terms as D.C.’s second elected mayor. His pro-business policies helped spur economic development. He built civic programs for youth and senior citizens, and opened the city government to many African-American professionals, who previously had been shut out.

But lackluster city services, like slow snow removal and lost city ambulances, dogged Barry's administration. He battled a soaring homicide rate among the worst in the nation, and vowed a war on illegal drugs even as rumors about his own drug addiction swirled around Washington.

Barry's stature crumbled spectacularly in 1990, when an FBI sting videotaped Barry smoking crack cocaine in Washington’s Vista Hotel.

Barry famously complained that he had been set up by former girlfriend Rasheeda Moore, an FBI informant.

Barry’s federal trial turned into a drama of prosecution charges and persecution complaints. Out of 14 drug charges, a jury convicted Barry of a single misdemeanor possession charge. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson sentenced him to six months in prison, the maximum punishment.

Many thought the scandal would finish Barry's political career.

But in 1992, Barry emerged from prison and began his comeback right at the prison gate. Just months later he won the Ward 8 council seat from longtime ally and four-term incumbent Wilhelmina Rolark.

In 1994, he swept back into the mayor’s office for a fourth term, trouncing failed reform Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly. Congress reacted sharply to concerns over another term for Barry and Kelly’s massive debt by creating a five-member federal control board to run the city over Barry.

Barry appointed then-obscure Anthony Williams as his chief financial officer. Acerbic and shy compared to Barry, Williams won the mayor’s office in 1998 when Barry chose not to seek re-election.

Barry returned to the political limelight in 2004, winning Ward 8 over another former ally, Sandy Allen. Waving off criticism of disloyalty, Barry said it wasn’t personal — it was politics.

In recent years, Barry easily won re-election in Ward 8. But he suffered from declining health, and received a kidney transplant.

Other controversies endured: failing to file income taxes, being censured for steering a city contract to a girlfriend, and making insensitive remarks about Asian storeowners and Filipina nurses, to whom he later apologized after stinging public criticism.

In August, Barry was involved in a wrong-way accident on Pennsylvania Avenue. Barry blamed low blood sugar that had made him disoriented.

But of the six mayors who’ve served the city since home rule began in the 1970s, it was Barry’s Mayor for Life personality and rollercoaster career that helped define D.C. politics for decades.

Barry first came to D.C. with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He later helped establish and run Pride, an inner-city help group. When Congress granted limited home rule to D.C., Barry won a first seat on the D.C. Council in 1974.

Shot in the chest by Hanafi Muslims when they overran at the Wilson Building in 1977, Barry used the publicity to help launch his 1978 campaign for mayor. He was a brash reformer, equally eloquent on the streets and in boardrooms. He narrowly won a three-way battle after The Washington Post editorial page heavily and repeatedly endorsed him.

But his terms in office were marred by investigations into cronyism, those drug abuse allegations and his image as a self-professed night owl.

Despite his faults, Barry is also credited with creating a massive summer jobs program that, while wasteful in many cases, offered a job or paid internship to any city youth who wanted one; and for treating senior citizens as a top priority with homes and programs for those in the twilight of life.

He completed the city’s first convention center on time and on budget. In his last term as mayor, Barry landed the deal to get the MCI Center (now the Verizon Center) built downtown.

Still, his national reputation is one of a promising politician undone or diminished by his personal failings; a politician who rose against seemingly hopeless odds to win and stay in the life of politics, often in spite of himself.


This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Baby Accidentally Shot by Dad]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 07:12:04 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/112214babyshot.jpg

 

The parents of a 9-month-old girl who was accidentally shot in her Brooklyn home are being criminally charged, investigators said Sunday.

 

The baby's father, Pedro Rosales, 47, faces a slate of charges, including second-degree assault, criminal possession of a firearm and endangering the welfare of a child, according to a court document.

Rosales was cleaning an illegally owned Colt .45 handgun at their home in East New York at about 4 p.m. Saturday when it discharged, police said. His daughter Jessica was hit in the hip. She underwent surgery at the Bellevue Hospital and was recovering in stable condition.

Rosales and Jessica Aguilar, the baby's mother, flagged down a police car outside their home on Sutter Avenue after the shooting and officers escorted parents and child to the hospital.

Police charged Aguilar with endangering the welfare of a child and second-degree reckless endangerment.

Rosales is being held on $100,000 bond or $50,000 bail. Aguilar is being held on $10,000 bond or $5,000 bail.

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<![CDATA[Naked Man Arrested at Airport]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 10:00:23 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Logan+Women%27s+Room.jpg

A Boston man has been arrested after police say he ran naked from a women's restroom at Logan International Airport and attacked an 84-year-old man late Saturday morning.

According to police, 26-year-old Cameron Shenk went into the restroom, removed his clothes and climbed into the drop ceiling. Then, police say, he fell through the ceiling and ran from the restroom "naked and bleeding."

After he left the restroom, police say Shenk attacked the victim, who was seriously injured and transported to the hospital. His injuries are not considered life-threatening.

A Massachusetts State Police trooper was injured while Shenk was being taken into custody.

"It's terrifying and sickening that somebody would do that," said Keenan Woods of Washington. "I'm just thankful I don't have my children with me to see something like that, I feel bad for families that were around to witness something like that."

"I can't really imagine being in there and having a man fall through the ceiling," said Emily Watts of Australia. "Glad we are going home, where it will be a little bit quieter."

Shenk faces charges including attempted murder, mayhem, assault and battery on a person over 60, assault and battery on a police officer, malicious destruction of property and a lewd and lascivious act.

The suspect will be arraigned at East Boston District Court.

In an unrelated incident about 30 minutes earlier, troopers said they responded to an assault in a BMW outside the airport.

According to police, the driver of the BMW, 52-year-old Anton Hilton of Boston's Roxbury neighborhood, attacked a 21-year-old female passenger.

Hilton was arrested and charged with assault and battery and kidnapping. The woman refused medical treatment.

In a statement, Massachusetts Port Authority, the airport's operator, thanked Massachusetts State Police for its response to the incidents.

Earlier in the day, former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling tweeted about a bomb squad responding after his son brought a fake plastic grenade to the airport.

NECN will have more as this story develops.

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<![CDATA[Four Protesters Arrested After UVa. Suspends Greek Life]]> Sun, 23 Nov 2014 13:33:05 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP136880906224.jpg

All University of Virginia fraternities and sororities and associated social activities have been suspended until January after a 2012 alleged sexual assault incident was highlighted in a "Rolling Stone" article.

The suspension led about 200 people to protest Saturday outside the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house, the location of the alleged rape detailed in the Rolling Stone article. Four protesters were arrested.

In an email message to the university community on Saturday, school President Teresa Sullivan called the actions in the article, “appalling,” and said the community as a whole needed to reexamine their responsibilities to stop rape and sexual assault on campus. Sullivan has also asked the Charlottesville Police Department to investigate the assault described in the article.

In the article published on November 19, a student named Jackie describes being raped by a group of people at a Phi Kappa Psi fraternity party while she was a freshman at the University of Virginia in 2012.

The article describes the pressure she faced from other students after the incident not to report it, as well as the university’s response to the issue.

The school is one of 86 under federal investigation for inadequately handling sexual-violence complaints, and one of a dozen under a proactive probe launched by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, according to the report. "They are targeted efforts to go after very serious concerns," says Office of Civil Rights assistant secretary Catherine Lhamon in the article. "We don't open compliance reviews unless we have something that we think merits it."

In her email to the university community, Sullivan said she has heard the opinions and reactions from the "Rolling Stone" article, and is imploring the community uphold the honor of the University and bring the truth of the 2012 incident to light.

“I write you today in solidarity. I write you in great sorrow, great rage, but most importantly, with great determination,” Sullivan wrote. “Meaningful change is necessary, and we can lead that change for all universities.”

She announced that all fraternity organizations and associated social activities -- which, The Washington Post reported, includes sororities and other Greek organizations -- have been suspended immediately until January 9. The Inter-Fraternity Council voluntarily suspended social activities this weekend.

The Board of Visitors is scheduled to meet on Tuesday to discuss the University’s policies regarding sexual assault as well as the 2012 incident, according to the email.

“We are united in our compassion, resolve, and determination," Sullivan wrote. "Compassion for survivors of assault; resolve to make our community better; determination to begin to solve this problem here and now.”

While the "Rolling Stone" report highlighted one woman’s plight on campus, a subsequent piece published on November 21 cast a spotlight on the university’s behavior toward other women – students and alumni – who said they suffered sexual assault on UVa.’s campus.

To read the initial "Rolling Stone" report, click here. To read the second story, click here.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Sheep Escapes Zoo, Hit by Driver]]> Sat, 22 Nov 2014 22:37:10 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/141122-escaped-bighorn-sheep-los-feliz.jpg

A bighorn sheep that escaped from the Los Angeles Zoo died after being struck by a hit-and-run driver in a Los Feliz neighborhood Saturday, police said.

The adult female sheep went missing from an exhibit about noon and  traversed the Santa Monica Mountains from the area in Griffith Park where the zoo is located, zoo spokeswoman April Spurlock said.

It was struck by a car near the Greek Theatre about two hours later.

Los Angeles park rangers and police found the sheep on a home driveway in the 2200 block of North Commonwealth Avenue.

When zoo personnel and veterinarians got to the sheep, they tranquilized the animal with a dart to bring it back to its habitat but it died at the scene about 3 p.m., Spurlock said.

The sheep is believed to have died from its injuries, but the official cause of death will be determined by an autopsy, Spurlock said.

The sheep was one of five bighorns at the zoo. Officials are trying to figure out how it escaped.

The desert bighorn sheep has been listed as endangered since 1998 due to loss of habitat, disease brought by domestic sheep and cattle and predation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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<![CDATA[Man Killed While Hunting ]]> Sat, 22 Nov 2014 23:47:34 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/West-Windsor-Hunting-Accide.jpg

A man was shot and killed during a hunting trip with his father in West Windsor, New Jersey, according to police.

The accidental shooting occurred Saturday afternoon on the 1200 block of Old Trenton Road. Officials have released little information on the incident so far but said a man in his 70's and his 45-year-old son were hunting Canada geese on a large property they owned. The father and son were properly licensed to hunt the birds, according to investigators.

Police initially told NBC10 the elderly man accidentally shot his son in the back of the head. However, they later told NBC10 the victim died from a gunshot wound to the head and neck from his own firearm.

Responding police officers and medics found the victim in a patch of woods on the property. After several life saving attempts were made he was pronounced dead at the scene.

"The initial call was for a hunting accident out here at the farm," said West Windsor Township Police lieutenant Matthew Kemp. "Medics and police officers were immediately dispatched and came across a person who was obviously deceased. Everything appears to be an accident. We're just dotting the "I's" and crossing the "T's" to be sure that's what it is." 

Police also said the father and son were the only two people in the hunting party.

West Windsor Police and the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office are investigating the incident. They have not yet released the victim’s identity. An autopsy is scheduled for next week.



Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Family of Man Shot by NYPD Rallies]]> Sat, 22 Nov 2014 23:23:31 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Pink-Houses-Accidental-Shooting-NY-Gurley-Inset.jpg

More than 250 people marched Saturday to protest the death of an unarmed man who police say was accidentally shot by a rookie officer in a dimly lit stairwell at a public housing project.

"Bratton must go! Bratton must go!" chanted protestors, calling for the removal of NYPD Chief William Bratton.

The family of the victim, Akai Gurley, including his 2-year-old daughter and mother, joined the Rev. Al Sharpton at the Harlem rally. His girlfriend, present during the shooting, also attended the rally.

"The killer of Akai is still around," said protestor Charles Barron. "We want him arrested."

Gurley, 28, was unarmed when probationary officer Peter Liang accidentally discharged his weapon in the stairwell Thursday night, according to Bratton.

Liang has been placed on modified duty. He and another officer, both with less than 18 months on the force, were part of a violence reduction overtime detail on vertical patrol, conducting floor-by-floor sweeps of the Louis H. Pink Houses in East New York at around 11 p.m.

As the officers entered the eighth-floor landing on the day of the shooting, Gurley emerged on the seventh-floor landing. He heard a noise and turned to look up at the two officers a floor above him, a law enforcement source said. That's when Liang, who had his gun in his left hand and his flashlight in his right, fired accidentally, hitting Gurley 11 feet below.

City leaders have promised an investigation. But angry residents argue that the shooting cannot be written off as an accident.

"How is having your gun out with no provocation and your finger on the trigger, your safety off, an accident," said City Council Member Jumaane Williams. "At minimum, that sounds like criminal negligence."

Mayor Bill de Blasio called Gurley's death a "tragic mistake."

The Brooklyn district attorney's office and the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau are investigating. The New York City Housing Authority said it was cooperating.

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson called the shooting "deeply troubling."

"Many questions must be answered, including whether, as reported, the lights in the hallway were out for a number of days, and how this tragedy actually occurred," Thompson said in a statement.

Authorities have interviewed the second officer and Gurley's girlfriend, but have not yet spoken to Liang. The district attorney's office will determine whether it will file criminal charges after interviewing Liang. Then internal affairs officers can question him, a standard policy.

Both officers were taken to the hospital for ringing in their ears, according to the NYPD. The housing project they were assigned to patrol has seen several serious crimes over the last month, including two robberies and two assaults. Two people were killed there this year, Bratton said.

Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said in a statement that the Pink Houses are among the city's most dangerous projects.

"Dimly lit stairways and dilapidated conditions create fertile ground for violent crime while the constant presence of illegal firearms creates a dangerous and highly volatile environment for police officers and residents alike," Lynch said. "Only time and a thorough investigation will tell us what transpired in this case."

Neighbors expressed concern during a candlelight vigil held for Gurley Friday night, chanting "Bratton must go."

Seventh-floor resident Dashwan Lopez said the lights in the hallway had been out for days before they were finally repaired Friday, prompting questions over whether Liang would have even drawn his gun if the lights had been on.

In Lopez's mind, "it could be better managed by housing, but it's still not an excuse to discharge your weapon without knowing what's going on," he said.

The shooting comes as the department is changing how rookie cops are used fresh out of the academy to give them more training and time with more senior officers.

Bratton is implementing a program that pairs less experienced officers with veteran officers on vertical and other patrols, but the program has had to be rolled out over time due to staffing constraints, law enforcement officials said.

Sharpton runs the National Action Network and is a talk-show host on MSNBC, which is owned by WNBC's parent company, NBCUniversal.

--Lori Bordonaro and Brynn Gingras contributed to this report.

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<![CDATA[Jogging Mom Was Stabbed: Official]]> Sun, 23 Nov 2014 09:08:31 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Melissa+Millan+Iron+Horse+Boulevard+in+Simsbury+daylight.jpg

Police have increased patrols near Iron Horse Boulevard in the center of Simsbury after the death of a woman found injured on the side of the road Thursday was ruled a homicide.

The state's medical examiner ruled the cause of death of Melissa Millan, 54, as "stab wound of chest," an employee in the medical examiner's office told NBC Connecticut on Saturday.

Millan, a Simsbury mother who was a senior vice president at MassMutual and who was also active in the community, was found lying on Iron Horse Boulevard between Phelps Lane and Pent Road around 8 p.m. Thursday. An ambulance rushed her to Saint Francis Hospital, where she died a short time later.

She was jogging on the boulevard at the time of the incident, according to Simsbury Police Capt. Nick Boulter. It's unclear if the homicide was random, he said.

Iron Horse Boulevard is in the center of Simsbury near a highly frequented bike trail, numerous restaurants and the Performing Arts Center at Simsbury Meadows.

Police initially considered the possibility that Millan was injured in a hit-and-run, but found no evidence to prove that theory.

Simsbury police have leads they are following and continue to investigate. No weapon has been found at this time and no suspect has been identified.

The Simsbury Police Department will increase patrols and police presence on the road "for an undetermined amount of time."

Police ask anyone with information to call detectives at 860-658-3145.

The last homicide in Simsbury was a murder-suicide in 2012.

There will be a vigil for Millan on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. near the area where she was found injured on Iron Horse Boulevard.


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<![CDATA[Teacher Arrested After Sex Attack]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 04:26:20 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/112214teacher.jpg

A New Jersey substitute teacher has been arrested after sexually assaulting a 16-year-old student in her car, prosecutors say.

Linda Hardan, 21, was arrested Friday on charges of criminal sexual contact and endangering the welfare of a child, the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office said Saturday.

Hardan is accused of assaulting a student from Manchester Regional High School, where she worked as a substitute teacher, prosecutors said. The attack occurred Thursday in Hardan's parked car in Wayne, prosecutors said.

It wasn't clear if Hardan had a lawyer. Calls to a phone number at her address in Prospect Park, New Jersey, went unanswered.



Photo Credit: Passaic County Prosecutor's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Stranger's Photo Washed Up in Sandy]]> Sat, 22 Nov 2014 21:09:07 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/sandy+wedding+photo+copy.jpg

A vintage wedding photograph that washed up in front of a Long Island woman's house after Hurricane Sandy was reunited with its owner Saturday.

Leah Welsh said that after appearing on NBC 4 New York and elsewhere to share the story of her quest to find the photograph's owner, she was contacted by the family of the woman in the black-and-white photo.

Welsh arranged to return the photo to the woman, Lorraine Hopes, who lives in the same Massapequa neighborhood as Welsh.

The Massapequa resident initially found the photograph about two years ago in a pile of debris on her front lawn. The image shows a woman in a dress pinning a flower onto a man's tuxedo.

"This is my mom," Hopes said, adding that the 65-year-old photo was taken on her mother's wedding day. The man in the tuxedo is her grandfather. The photo was taken moments before he was to escort his daughter down the wedding aisle.

Welsh tried her best to find the owners but had no luck. Two years later, she dug up the photo again in another effort to locate the owners.

"Sandy was a huge devastation for a lot of people, and you can replace materialistic items and personal belongings, but a picture is really special," she said.

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<![CDATA[Woman Running to Honor Navy Seals]]> Sat, 22 Nov 2014 15:18:09 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/christina+runs+america+3+hashtap.jpg

A California woman has been on the road for over four months, running across more than a dozen states and covering 2,700 miles in honor of the Navy Seals. Christina Lee hopes her journey from New York to the Bay Area will raise $100,0000 for the Navy Seal Foundation and allow her to cross another challenge off her bucket list.

The 23-year-old from San Jose was sitting in her New York University dorm room two years ago and thought a bucket list is just what her life needed.

"I didn't want a bunch of things I could do in a weekend," Lee says. "I wanted some real challenges I would have to work for."

That’s when she came across a Facebook post about a woman who was running across the country to raise money for charity. She decided to add that to her list.

"Once I wrote it down I was going to do it," Lee says. "There are no halfsies on the bucket list."

WATCH MORE BAY AREA PROUD STORIES 

She set out on her trek right after graduating college this spring, hoping her effort will raise money and recognize the work of the Navy Seals in serving our country.

"We don't thank our military enough," Lee says.

She is running without any support, pushing a jog stroller filled with her extra clothing and supplies. Lee says she is doing it the hardest way she knows how because something meant to honor Navy Seals shouldn't be a "walk in the park."

She had chosen the Navy Seal Foundation as her beneficiary because she felt the Seals, working in secrecy, didn't get all the attention and respect they deserve.

The run has also gained a deeper purpose.

Christina, a life-long supporter of the military, had chosen the Navy SEAL Foundation as her beneficiary because she felt the SEALs, working in secrecy, didn't get all the attention and respect they deserve.

She began her run as a way to honor all of them, but her effort gained a deeper purpose along the way.

In the first week of the run, somewhere in Pennsylvania, she received an email from Jennifer Collins, the widow of Navy Seal David Collins. 

Collins wanted to thank Lee for what she was doing for the foundation.

"She just sent me this email that said these people changed my life,” Lee said.

Collins told Lee how her husband has suffered a traumatic brain injury while serving overseas and how the injury plagued him after his return home. Collins shared how David had eventually killed himself and how the foundation had been there to help her and their two children.

"It just put it all in perspective," Lee recalls.

She now says she is always thinking of David during her run, particularly during the most challenging times.

"I think, so what if your feet hurt? At least there's no one shooting at you," Christina says.

Lee has fewer than 300 miles to go in her journey. She hopes to put her feet in the Pacific Ocean on December 6th.


This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Former Marine Confesses to Wife's Murder on Chilling Tape]]> Sat, 22 Nov 2014 09:37:36 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/caleb-crew-andrea.jpg

A former Marine who pled guilty to strangling his wife and dumping her body in a river, confessed to the murder in a chilling recorded interview with two detectives. For the first time outside the courtroom, Caleb Crew's confession can be heard in the audio-taped police interview obtained by News4.

"You're going to feel better when you get this off your chest."
"It's obviously painful she's gone. Just walk us though it."
"Take a deep breath and walk us through it. I know you can do it."

Over and over, in calm, measured voices, Fairfax County, Virginia, detectives Chris Flanagan and Eric Deane turned to those phrases to try to get Crew to tell the truth. Their interview was conducted on Aug. 10, 2013 two days after Crew called 911 to report his wife Andrea missing.

Crew pleaded guilty to murder just last month, the confession a powerful piece of evidence that would have been critical at trial.

In the taped interview, the detectives talk with Crew for nearly two hours, urging him to come clean. He finally gets emotional and begins to provide chilling details about why and how he killed his wife.

Crew tells detectives the couple had gone to court on Aug. 8, 2013 where a previous domestic violence charge against him was dropped. On the way home they argued, and Crew stopped his Jeep in a parking lot. Andrea then threatened to call 911.

Crew tells detectives what happened next:

"I took the phone. I grabbed her out of her chair. She only weights 112 pounds. I grabbed her throat and strangled her in the back seat."

A detective asked whether Crew spoke to his wife.

"First thing I said, 'Goodbye.' I knew once I went down that path I couldn't go back. She said, 'Please Caleb.' I started crying but I couldn't stop," said Crew.

He then tells detectives, though he wife lay lifeless in the SUV, he checked and found a pulse. So he took off the tie he'd worn to court and wrapped it around Andrea's neck.

"Tightly?" asks one detective.
Crew: "Yeah"
Detective: "Why?"
Crew: "To finish the job."

Later that night Crew strapped a backpack filled with weights to his wife's body and threw her in the Occoquon River.

"What was the purpose of the backpack?" asked detectives.
"To take her to the bottom," replied Crew.
"Did you think there was still hope you could get away with it," asked the detective.
"Yeah, that's what I was thinking at the time," said Crew.

Crew tells detectives his biggest immediate worry was the couple's two young daughters, one just 11 months old and still breastfeeding.

"I was thinking, I don't know how else I'll live life after this. I don't want to mess up the girls' lives, of course, I already had. And thinking I have to cover it up," said Crew.

The cover-up lasted just two days until the police interview and Crew's confession. Crew is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 9. One of the most recent filings in his court file -- a certificate of completion for the anger management class at the jail.

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<![CDATA[Teen With Cancer Fired]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 09:05:17 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/jonathan+larseon.jpg

A 19-year-old delivery driver diagnosed with cancer claims he was fired from his job at a suburban Chicago restaurant when he informed his employer he needed to take six weeks off work for surgery.

Jonathan Larson was diagnosed with cancer of the brain and spine. He has had several rounds of radiation and now needs back surgery, he said.

The surgery would require him to take time off of his job as a delivery driver at Naperville’s Rosebud Restaurant. Larson claims that when he told his boss about his upcoming procedure and said he could be back in six weeks, he was let go.

“[My manager] said, ‘No, by that time I’ll already have another driver hired. Just leave, I have to make some phone calls,” Larsen said. “I’m really disappointed and saddened by it. It’s not something I can help.”

A spokesperson for Rosebud Restaurants said they could not comment on specific personnel matters “due to employee and human resources confidentiality standards.”

“For more than thirty-six years Rosebud has been successful through the hard work of our employees,” the statement read. “We are thoroughly investigating this matter to determine if our processes and protocols were appropriately followed. Rosebud proudly serves the Chicagoland community and considers it our mission to treat all employees fairly.”

Larson said he feels “disrespected and demeaned” because of his diagnosis.

“I would love an apology,” he said. “It would go a long way to make me feel better about the situation.”
 

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<![CDATA[7 Tech Trends for 2015]]> Sun, 23 Nov 2014 17:22:24 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP836878317132.jpg

Will 2015 be the year of wearable tech?

The long-awaited Apple Watch will be making its debut in early 2015 and consumers will be able to get their hands on newly available 3D printers to make food and collectibles. Smart home devices are also among the hot tech trends in the new year, experts say.

“It’s a world of synced devices that will become mainstream in 2015," said Stacy Glasgow, a Chicago-based consumer trends consultant for market research firm Mintel. "It’s no longer about startups or early adopters. We’re seeing a lot of big retailers giving consumers smart products and devices.”

Glasgow said that in Mintel’s research, the company found that 59 percent of U.S. consumers were interested in using an app or device to control their home. About 22 percent already owned a wearable device already. “We definitely see that number in a position to grow,” she said.

Eric Openshaw, vice chairman and U.S. technology, media and telecom leader for Deloitte based in San Francisco, said that the wearable technology market is exploding but is probably going to be more important for businesses rather than consumers.

“I think there are huge benefits for the industrial user,” he said.

Coye Cheshire, an associate professor for the School of Information at the University of California at Berkeley, said most of the trends we’re seeing have to do with playing with user data.

“It’s called instrumenting the experience,” he said. “It’s all these apps, such as fitness apps or other metrics, capturing user data and returning it back to the consumer.” The hype is exciting, but he said society is not quite sure what it really wants to know. “The assumption is that if there’s more of this data and you turn it back to the people it will equal better experience, but it remains highly unknown if that’s the case.”

Here's a list of seven tech trends for 2015:

TellSpec

The TellSpec is a small spectroscope that uses a beam of infrared light to figure out the composition of food and help users determine exactly how many calories and grams of fat, protein or carbohydrates they are consuming just with a wave of the device. The TellSpec shoots the information to a smartphone (Android or iOS) where users can see not only the vital stats of the food, but also if it contains allergens like eggs or gluten. The company has been busy scanning foods so the spectroscope has a full database and can identify traces of ingredients, according to Faster Company.

Cheshire seemed interested but not optimistic about the scanner. “Will some people carry them around? There are a small amount of people who are responsible for almost all the uptick of all devices,” he said of the new adopters. But will it be popular with the mainstream – that’s another story.

Wearable Technology

The Apple Watch will likely be a must-have for those who want both a status symbol and a stylish timepiece (they come in different colors, from sensible stainless steel to elegant 18K rose gold). Other wearable tech, such as Google Glass, have already made their debut and caused the public to crave more gadgets like it. Samsung is launching a new platform, Samsung Architecture for Multimodal Interactions (also dubbed SAMI), to capitalize on wearables. Expect to see more offerings from Microsoft, Motorola, Jawbone and others, including the Polo Tech Shirt which also offers biometric readings with a designer label.

Gartner Inc. predicts more wearable tech will come on the market because our society is becoming increasingly mobile and wants it available in more environments, including work. Cheshire said that cheaper sensors are making it possible. “This is the early stage of wearable technology and different companies are trying to throw things at the wall and see what sticks,” he said. "If were playing futurist, I wouldn’t bet on many of these things being around in a few years."

Smart Appliances and Smart Homes

“Virtually every large appliance is looking at the ‘Internet of Things,’ from sensor technology to smartphones to home networks,” Openshaw said of today's smart appliances and machines. Both Nest and Apple have devised ways to tell your house to turn on lights, adjust the thermostat or record TV programs via your smartphone, and you can expect to see more in 2015.

According to GigaOm, small startups are also joining the smart home movement by adding Bluetooth so users can control light bulbs, outlets or even receive pictures with their smartphone of who is knocking at your door. Expect all these apps to work with voice integration, so you will literally be talking to your smartphone to start your dryer or start preheating the oven.

Digitized Dining

We’re all familiar with making reservations online with apps such as OpenTable or finding food online via GrubHub, but now more restaurants are letting you order your food online. Already Pizza Hut offers that capability (and receives half of its online orders from mobile devices) as does Panda Express. Some Chili’s and Applebee’s provide tablets for customers to order, while McDonald’s and White Castle are also working on a touch-screen customizing kiosk, which may do away with a cashier altogether.

“I think the trend is rooted to an unprecedented expectation for on-demand convenience,” Glasgow said. “It’s this new immediacy in shopping and food service.” She said to expect more “blurring” between online and brick-and-mortar stores.

Paying With Your Phone

The idea of “click and pay” with a smartphone has been around for the last few years, but perhaps it needed Apple’s new iPhone 6 to bring the mobile payment system to the mainstream. Security professionals say it's a "significant improvement over using a credit card" and Apple said it "doesn't collect your purchase history, so we don't know what you bought, where you bought it or how much you paid for it."

But there are still some issues. According to Consumer Reports, a reporter used his wife’s credit card after scanning it into his iPhone without impunity or questions and in October, Bank of America apologized for charging customers twice for purchases they made using the system.

Cheshire said that digital payment isn't enough to the transaction more seamless. “Paying by your phone alone doesn’t make it efficient,” he said, “but if you also make an order and pay for it with the same phone it can be.”

Life360

It may sound a bit creepy, and your teenagers will hate it, but keeping tabs on your entire family at all times is now a reality with this free Life360 app.

“If I had an application for (my kids aged) 11 to 12 so I could know what they’re doing, I would be thrilled,” Openshaw said.

Parents will likely love the “Places” part of the app that is literally a map that shows everyone in the circle coming or going from certain spots and alerts users when members have left or have entered a specific area.

“I think the social implication is that we’re raising our kids to know they can’t be trusted or trust people in general,” Cheshire said. Glasgow disagreed, saying that it may calm parental anxieties. “If I have an application for (my kids aged) 11 to 12 to know what they’re doing, I would be thrilled,” Openshaw said.

3D Printers

How would you like to have a printer that can create a gun or a pizza? Apparently many people are interested. The shipments of 3D printers will double in 2015 and double again in 2016, according to Gartner Inc. Previously the domain of scientific labs or universities, 3D printers have captured the interest of the masses perhaps because it can reduce costs and create facsimiles almost instantly.

“We see another trend that consumers are finding they enjoy making things on their own and I think 3D printing facilitates that,” Glasgow said, mentioning the beauty of 3D printer Mink which can create custom-colored eye shadow or lipstick.

Consumers may also be interested in exploring cuisine with the Foodini, a 3D printer that creates your favorite foods from “sweet to savory” according to CNN. Lynette Kucsma, co-founder of Natural Machines which creates the Foodini, says a consumer version of its product will be out soon and retail for around $1,000.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Man Gets Death Penalty in Murder of Ex-Girlfriend]]> Sat, 22 Nov 2014 02:58:45 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/11-21-14-tyrone-harts-mug.JPG

A man who shot his former girlfriend and lit her on fire in front of her children was sentenced to death Friday, prosecutors said.

In February 2011, Tyrone Harts, 41, killed Brandi Morales in the Los Angeles-area home she shared with her six children. Officials said Harts had previously lived there, but the couple had split up several weeks before.

On the night of the murder, police said he called the house and spoke to her children, telling one of them to leave the sliding glass door unlocked.

Morales’ two oldest children were awakened by their mother’s screams on Feb. 21, prompting the oldest boy to grab a kitchen knife and go to her room, officials said. Harts shot at the boy, who ran away while the other four children woke up. At the time of the murder, Morales' children ranged in age from 6 to 15.

The four younger children saw their mother lit on fire and attempted to put out the fire with cups of water, police said.

Police and fire officials arrived and Morales was pronounced dead on the scene. She suffered first and second-degree burns over more than half of her body, officials said.

Last month, Harts was convicted of one count each of murder and attempted murder, five counts of child endangerment and one count of being a felon in possession of a handgun, according to a news release from the Riverside County District Attorney’s office. The jury also found a special circumstance allegation of lying in wait, making Harts eligible for the death penalty.

The same jury Friday sentenced him to death. He is ordered to be formally sentenced on Jan. 30.



Photo Credit: Moreno Valley Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Company Unveils Electronically-Powered Skates]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 09:18:37 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/1121-2014-RocketSkates.jpg

Forget walking or rollerblading — how about rocket skating?

California-based company Acton has developed electronically-powered skates that can propel the wearer up to 12 miles per hour — no pushing required.

Founders said the idea was inspired by "Iron Man," "Inspector Gadget" and "The Jetsons."

"The idea of just being able to slide around the urban environment is very exciting," said Peter Treadway, co-founder of Acton. "It's kind of like a magic carpet for your feet."

The skates were released this week and sell for $500 a pair.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[AA Plane Damaged by Bus in Atlanta]]> Sat, 22 Nov 2014 01:19:05 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/aaplanedamage.JPG

An American Airlines plane was damaged Friday evening after landing in Atlanta from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

Flight 232 was parked at its gate at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport when a bus crashed into one of its wings.

Nobody was injured in the collision, but passengers who were still on board at the time described the impact.

"You could absolutely feel it," said passenger Jim Carlough, of Plano. "It was a good jolt."

Carlough, who was traveling with his wife, Lori, to a wedding in Atlanta, said flight attendants then told passengers, "obviously we have a problem. We need everyone to quickly deplane."

A statement from an airline spokesperson said the return flight from Atlanta to DFW was canceled, and passengers would be re-accommodated.



Photo Credit: Jim Carlough]]>
<![CDATA[Extreme Weather Photos: Buffalo Area Snowfall]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 10:04:09 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP674770050814.jpg Take a look at some of the most extreme weather systems throughout the world.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Buffalo Bills Hitch Rides Aboard Snowmobiles]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 20:53:34 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/KRAIG+URBIK1.JPG

Up to seven feet of snow wasn't going to stop the Buffalo Bills from flying out to Detroit for Monday’s game against the Jets — even if some players needed a novel way to get to the Bills’ stadium and a bus to the airport.

“Just texted with a Bills player who was picked up on a snowmobile to head to his game,” tweeted Albert Breer, national reporter for the NFL Network. “So in 10 years of covering the NFL, that’s a first.”

The game was supposed to have been played in Buffalo on Sunday, but was moved to Detroit because of the deadly storm.

The blizzard dropped 85 inches of snow on Buffalo, enough to bury Snookie, Jim Kelly and even Yao Ming.

On The MMQB, Peter King describes the planning that went into the "snowmobile rescues."

"I have covered the NFL for 30 years, and I must say I have never heard an NFL executive say he hoped a snowmobile would come up big for his team in advance of a game with big playoff implications," he wrote.



Photo Credit: EMILY URBIK
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<![CDATA[Lost Kitten Wanders 2,300 Miles]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 18:32:14 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Maine+Kitten+Thumb.jpg

How did a kitten travel all the way from New Mexico to Maine? It's a mystery to her owner and the shelter where she's been staying.

According to the Animal Refuge League in Westbrook, "Spice" was put inside a duffel bag and someone dropped her off at a thrift shop in Portland. A shopper found the bag and brought Spice home for a few days before bringing her to the shelter.

At the shelter, they scanned for a microchip and discovered not only did Spice have an owner, but her home was over 2,000 miles away in New Mexico!

According to Jeana Roth at the Animal Refuge League, "We were in disbelief when we called the microchip company and they told us. They were in disbelief too to see a cat from New Mexico came to Maine in just five days."

Spice apparently escaped from her house on Halloween when her owner was opening
the door to trick or treaters. How she managed to get from there to Maine, no one has any idea.

The kitten's owner doesn't have the money to pay for Spice to return to New Mexico, but another pet owner is stepping up to help.

Jon Ayers is the CEO of Idexx. The company makes pet testing kits and Ayers has several shelter cats at home. He has offered to pay to send Spice back home and as soon as she recovers from a small cold she will travel with a shelter employee back to New Mexico to be reunited with her owner.



Photo Credit: NECN]]>
<![CDATA[Boy Started Deadly Fire: Officials]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:58:00 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/202*120/caribou1.jpg

A fire that killed a family of four in Caribou, Maine, was started by a 3-year-old boy who was among the fatalities, officials announced Friday.

The Maine Fire Marshal's Office determined that young Trenton Delisle started the blaze by setting items on fire in the living room of the family's mobile home.

The boy was among three children who died in the fire, along with 2-year-old twins Mason and Madison Delisle.

All three children were taken to Cary Medical Center and pronounced dead.

Their mother, 28-year-old Norma Skidgel, died at the scene of the fire.

Skidgel's sister, Amy Bouchard, and her two sons also lived in the home. Earlier, Bouchard said she had put out a fire that started after a bible was put in the kitchen's stove.

Bouchard said she left to bring her son to a bus stop and found the home on fire.

"Juvenile firestarters are a huge problem in Maine and there are resources available throughout the state to counsel, educate and treat children fascinated by fire," Maine Fire Marshal Joe Thomas said in a statement released the Maine Department of Public Safety statement. "Help is available throughout Maine. All you have to do is ask."

Between 2001 and 2011, 2,531 fires were started by children in Maine, according to Thomas. These fires resulted in 14 deaths and 115 injuries.

NECN will have more as this story develops.



Photo Credit: Maine Department of Public Safety]]>
<![CDATA[$139M Settlement in Sex Abuse Case]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 08:12:20 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/miramonte112912.jpg

A settlement in the long-fought Miramonte sex abuse civil case has officially been accepted by both sides, with Los Angeles Unified School District paying a record $139 million to more than 70 victims of sexual abuse.

Each child will receive about $1.7 million, according to counsel for the plaintiffs. The total will be $139,250,000, according to the district.

The case was to be the first trial of lawsuits stemming from the sex abuse scandal at Miramonte Elementary School.

Attorneys for LAUSD and former students of teacher Mark Berndt have been meeting all week in an effort to reach a settlement.

Berndt was sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading no contest to 23 counts of lewd conduct with a child between 2005 and 2010.

"In 2012, the school district shared in the shock and disgust upon learning of the misconduct committed by one of its teachers at Miramonte Elementary School," a statement issued by the district reads. "Even though the school district didn’t know about Mr. Berndt’s behavior, we have an obligation to protect the students we serve. We are truly sorry that these students had their trust violated by this sick individual."

Read the full statement and fact sheet here.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Shepard Wiley had been urging the attorneys to try to resolve the case without a trial. But with no settlement in place, jury selection began Monday.

The lawsuit involves former Miramonte students, with dozens of other cases still pending.

The district has already settled more than 60 claims for about $30 million over the abuse. This settlement will mostly end all current litigation stemming from the Berndt case, the district said in its statement.

Earlier in the week, attorney Luis Carrillo, who represents some of the Miramonte students and their families, said he wanted to take the case to trial.

"We're anxious. We want to get in front of a jury, a representative jury so that the community can see 30 years of abuse," he said.

Attorneys contended the district should be held responsible for Berndt's actions. They allege district officials were aware of complaints about his behavior for years.

Superintendent Ramon Cortines said in a statement the settlement struck a balance between sparing the students the pain of a trial and the financial burden to the district.

"Throughout this case, we have shared in the pain felt by these children, their families and the community," he said. "Each day, we are responsible for the safety of more than 600,000 students. There is a sacred trust put in us to protect the children we serve."

Cortines said Berndt went to "extreme lengths to hide his conduct" and "the only way we can have the safest schools is through partnerships with parents and the community."

Read Cortines' full statement here.

Since the Miramonte scandal broke with the arrest of Berndt, the district has been putting aside a reserve fund in anticipation of any pay out.

The district hopes to recoup the settlement through its insurance company.

Sheriff's officials said the investigation of Berndt began when a film processor turned over more than 40 photographs of children in a classroom, with their eyes blindfolded and mouths covered in tape.

Some of the pictures showed Berndt with his arm around the children or with his hand over their mouths, according to the Sheriff's Department.

A sheriff's sergeant said some of the photographs "depicted girls with what appeared to be a blue plastic spoon, filled with an unknown clear/white liquid substance, up to their mouths as if they were going to ingest the substance."

Some photos also showed children with a large roach on their faces, sheriff's officials said.

Sheriff's officials said detectives found a blue plastic spoon and an empty container in the trash in Berndt's classroom.

Both items tested positive for semen, officials said. DNA testing matched it to Berndt, according to the Sheriff's Department.

It took an arsenal of attorneys to represent the 82 children benefiting from the latest settlement.

Despite the settlement, there are still lingering doubts and resentment.

Plaintiff attorney John Manly blasted LAUSD's Office of General Counsel and said "every dirty trick" the attorneys representing them used was approved by the office.

He said the expert witnesses the district hired for the case were prepared to make arguments that the case was not "sexual" in nature, using examples of a parent using semen as nourishment for a starving family.

"Board members should hang their heads in shame," Manly said. "They never even showed up to a mediation, never met with a client, never asked to meet them. They don't know a single child's name."

School board members Monica Ratliff and Tamar Galatzan declined to comment. Other board members did not return calls seeking comment.

"If you don't care enough about children to step up and say what's happening, you ought not be there," Manly said.

At least two board members are up for re-election next year.

Brian Claypool, who also represented some of the students, pointed to what he called the years of neglect by the school district.

"He should've been fired in 1983," he said, discussing a handwritten letter Berndt sent to the Miramonte principal at the time after an incident in which he allegedly flashed his genitals to students.

The note read: "I did learn one thing for sure! Not to take the kids to the museum while wearing baggy shorts! Thanks again, Mark."

"How in the world can LAUSD tell the community they didn't know about Mark Berndt?" Claypool said. "They flat out knew."

Claypool said what attorneys for the plaintiffs have done over the last two and a half years is their own investigation into the way LAUSD handles child abuse perpetrators and victims.

But Manly said what might be water under the bridge now that there's a settlement, is more reason for the public to press the district to make changes from the top.

"The public needs to make sure that the truth gets to these people," Manly said.

Plaintiffs Attorney Andrew Zeytuntsyan said the children and the parents can "start the healing process by putting this mess behind them."

"More than anything, it's for the good of the children," said the parent of one of the victims in Spanish outside Miramonte Friday. "No money in the world can clean that stain."

Patrick Healy and Kelly Goff contributed to this report.

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<![CDATA[Window Washer Survives 11-Story Fall From SF Building]]> Sat, 22 Nov 2014 02:38:04 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/SF-WINDOW-WASHER-CHOPPER-RAW-SD---14451915.jpg

A window washer fell screaming about 11 stories from the top of the Sterling Bank and Trust building in San Francisco Friday, landing on a car in the middle of a busy street, police and witnesses said.

The man suffered critical injuries, but he was conscious, and the driver was not injured, police said.

San Francisco Police Lt. Ed Del Carlo said the worker was getting ready to work when he "fell off the apparatus" and landed on a car about 10 a.m. after falling from the building at 400 Montgomery Street, near the intersection with California Street. The roof of the car, a green Toyota Camry, was smashed in, and the rear windshield shattered.

"The driver didn't know what happened," Del Carlo said.

The driver, Mohammad Alcozai, at first thought it was a bicyclist who accidently hit his car. But when he got out of his car, Alcozai said he couldn't believe what he saw.

"Somebody said they fell off the roof and I look and said, 'Oh my God,'" he said. "And when I see my car it was flat -- only my spot was OK."

Alcozai quickly ran to the man's aid.

"He was shaking pretty bad. He was shaking and wasn't able to talk," Alcozai said. "He was breathing hard."

The window washer, who has not been identified by police, was taken to San Francisco General Hospital where he remained in critical condition late Friday afternoon. Cal/OSHA spokeswoman Julia Bernstein said the man suffered a broken arm and injuries to his side. He was with a partner, who was not hurt. Bernstein said a safety engineer was on scene, trying to determine what happened.

The intersection of Montgomery and California was closed to traffic for several hours as police investigated.

Sam Hartwell, who was on his way to a meeting, saw some of what happened: "I saw a blue streak out of the corner of my eye," and then that "streak" hit a car with a great "thud." Soon afterward, Hartwell realized that "streak" was a person.

Hartwell and about 20 other people ran to the man, who was on his back. The man was lucid, though he was bleeding.

"He understood we were with him,'' Hartwell said.

The fire department says a paramedic was at the scene within five minutes of the first 911 call, but it took 10 minutes from the time of the call for an ambulance to arrive.

The bystanders, who included a nurse, put clothing on the man as they waited for the ambulance.

Hartwell said of his reaction, "It was utter, immediate shock. How do you react to something like that?''

The window washer worked for Century Window Cleaners of Concord, which has been fined for safety violations in the past. A complaint from 2008 resulted in a $2,700 settlement. The state ordered the company to train and “supervise the use of equipment and safety devices to insure that safe working practices are observed.”

NBC Bay Area contacted the company for comment, but the man who answered the phone declined. The company's website states it carries a $5 million worker compensation insurance policy and a $5 million general liability insurance policy.

The fall comes about two weeks after two window washers were stranded on top of the World Trade Center in New York City. On Nov. 12, two workers were rescued in dramatic fashion after scaffolding collapsed.

Last month in Irvine, California, two window washers stuck for hours near the top of a 19-story high-rise were pulled to safety by members of a search-and-rescue team.

Window cleaning is one of the safer industries, according to Stefan Bright, the safety director for the International Window Cleaners Association based in Zanesville, Ohio.

Among the 15,000 to 20,000 professional cleaners working on high-rises each year, there are typically fewer than three fatalities a year, he said.

While figures for window washers specifically were not available, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that seven workers in the janitorial or cleaning professions died as a result of on-the-job injuries sustained while working with scaffolding from 2011 to 2013.

The Associated Press and NBC Universal's Noreen O'Donnell and Torey Van Oot contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area chopper
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<![CDATA[Cop Shoots, Kills Unarmed Man in Stairwell: NYPD]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 23:30:48 -0500 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Pink-Houses-Accidental-Shooting-NY-Gurley-Inset.jpg

A probationary NYPD officer is being placed on modified duty after he apparently accidentally shot and killed an unarmed 28-year-old man in a dimly lit stairwell while on foot patrol at a Brooklyn housing project late Thursday, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said Friday.

The officer, Peter Liang, and another officer, both with less than 18 months on the force, were part of a violence reduction overtime detail on vertical patrol, which is when police conduct floor-by-floor sweeps of a building, at the Louis H. Pink Houses in East New York around 11 p.m.

They had gone to the eighth floor, the top floor, via elevator to check the roof when they noticed that there were no lights in the stairwell leading to the roof, Bratton said. Given the location and lack of light, Liang drew his weapon and a flashlight for safety reasons, Bratton said. The other officer kept his service weapon holstered.

As the officers were entering the eighth-floor landing, Akai Gurley emerged on the seventh-floor landing. He heard a noise and turned square to look up at the two officers a floor above him, a law enforcement source said. That's when Liang, who had his gun in his left hand and his flashlight in his right, fired accidentally, hitting Gurley 11 feet below him.

Bratton said no words were exchanged.

"All indications are this was an accidental discharge," Bratton said, calling the shooting "an unfortunate tragedy."

Bratton said Gurley and his girlfriend apparently had opted to take the stairs because they didn't want to wait for the elevator, and law enforcement officials say the girlfriend was a flight of stairs or so ahead of him at the time of the shooting. She didn't see the officer's gun fire.

Gurley stumbled down to his girlfriend on the fifth floor after being shot, and she ran to a fourth-floor apartment to ask for help and called 911, a law enforcement source said. She was given a towel to put pressure on Gurley's chest as she waited for paramedics to arrive. 

Liang and the other officer, who initially walked out of the staircase onto the eighth floor, soon realized someone had been shot, and went down to the fifth floor to attempt to render aid, the source said. 

Gurley was pronounced dead at a hospital. Gurley, who has multiple previous arrests on robbery and other charges, was not armed when he was shot, authorities said. He lives in Red Hook and has a 2-year-old daughter, though it's not clear where the child lives. Gurley's mother lives in Florida.

Mayor de Blasio called his death a "tragic mistake."

The Brooklyn district attorney's office and the NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau are investigating. The New York City Housing Authority said it was cooperating. 

Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson called the shooting "deeply troubling."

"Many questions must be answered, including whether, as reported, the lights in the hallway were out for a number of days, and how this tragedy actually occurred," Thompson said in a statement.

Authorities have interviewed the second officer and Gurley's girlfriend, but have not yet spoken to Liang. The district attorney's office will determine whether it will file criminal charges after interviewing Liang. Then internal affairs officers can question him, a standard policy. 

Both officers were taken to the hospital for ringing in their ears, according to the NYPD. The housing project they were assigned to patrol has seen several serious crimes over the last month, including two robberies and two assaults. Two people were killed there this year, Bratton said.

Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said in a statement that the Pink Houses are among the city's most dangerous projects.

"Dimly lit stairways and dilapidated conditions create fertile ground for violent crime while the constant presence of illegal firearms creates a dangerous and highly volatile environment for police officers and residents alike," Lynch said. "Only time and a thorough investigation will tell us what transpired in this case."

Community leaders blasted the NYPD and called for immediate reform. 

"We should not have rookies, inexperienced police officers who are frightened of us, doing vertical patrols," said former councilman and incoming assemblyman Charles Barron. 

Councilman Jumaane Williams called the shooting an example of a "an overly zealous ethos for excessive force" within the NYPD. 

He added in a statement: "Why were two probationary officers put on patrol in a 'high crime' area with no veteran officer to assist? Why was the officer's gun drawn with no safety before entering a vertical patrol? And most importantly, why is another unarmed black man dead at the hands of a police officer?"

Neighbors echoed the concerns during a candlelight vigil held for Gurley Friday night, chanting "Bratton must go."

Seventh-floor resident Dashwan Lopez said the lights in the hallway had been out for days before they were finally repaired Friday, prompting questions over whether Liang would have even drawn his gun if the lights had been on. 

In Lopez's mind, "it could be better managed by housing, but it's still not an excuse to discharge your weapon without knowing what's going on," he said. 

The shooting comes as the department is changing how rookie cops are used fresh out of the academy to give them more training and time with more senior officers.

Bratton is implementing a program that pairs less experienced officers with veteran officers on vertical and other patrol, but the program has had to be a roll-out process rather than an immediate overhaul due to staffing constraints, law enforcement officials said.

The Rev. Al Sharpton is planning a community protest alongside Gurley's family on Saturday. Sharpton runs the National Action Network and is a talk-show host on MSNBC, which is owned by WNBC's parent company, NBCUniversal.

Lori Bordonaro and Brynn Gingras contributed to this report.  

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