<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - National & International News]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/national-international http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.comen-usWed, 25 May 2016 02:12:04 -0700Wed, 25 May 2016 02:12:04 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[DOJ to Seek Death Penalty in Charleston Church Shooting]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 14:38:28 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/184*120/odio1.jpg

The Department of Justice will seek the death penalty against accused church shooter Dylann Roof, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Tuesday.

Lynch said in a statement that her department came to that decision after a "rigorous review process," NBC News reports.

"The nature of the alleged crime and the resulting harm compelled this decision," she said.

Roof, 22, will stand trial for the massacre of nine people last June at the historically black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. He was charged with nine counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.

Photo Credit: Charleston County Sheriff's Office via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Broken Cable Strands Train Passengers 50 Feet Up]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 00:13:12 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/denver-airport-rail-line.jpg

A broken power cable left 80 train passengers in Denver stuck on an overpass around 50 feet in the air Tuesday, officials said, NBC News reported.

The A line to Denver International Airport lost power at around 3:21 p.m. local time, the Regional Transportation District said.

Passengers on the stuck train were stranded for two hours before they were walked down the elevated track to waiting buses, officials and NBC affiliate KUSA reported.

The transportation district said a cable that provides power to the train broke. It was the third time in a week the A line lost power, according to KUSA.

"This is incredibly frustrating and we know it," RTD spokesman Nate Currey told the station. The 23-mile A line is new, and opened on April 22.

Photo Credit: KUSA/NBC News]]>
<![CDATA[Top News Photos of the Week]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 16:41:43 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/topNews-AP_673443258720.jpg View weekly updates on the best photos in domestic and foreign news.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Man Arrested on Southwest Flight]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 22:45:19 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/202*120/southwest+arrest.png

A passenger was arrested on a Southwest Airlines flight at Midway Airport Tuesday afternoon after allegedly making threatening statements toward a flight attendant, according to the airline. 

A Southwest spokesman said a man on Flight No. 2205 from Baltimore to Chicago made threatening statements to the flight attendant during the flight.

"An off-duty police officer helped restrain the passenger until the aircraft arrived at the gate," the airline said in a statement. "Police met the flight and took the man into custody without further incident."

Video from a passenger on the flight showed Chicago police officers on the plane after landing. Southwest also said Chicago police boarded and arrested the passenger. 

Chicago police did not immediately have information on the arrest. 

<![CDATA[NY Senator Wants Reform on Military Sexual Assault]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 01:54:04 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/gillibrand-16x9-AP877512816227.jpg

Two Democratic senators could be gearing up for an ideological rematch on the best ways to curb sexual assaults in the U.S. military.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said Tuesday she will reintroduce a bill that would remove the decision of whether to prosecute military sexual assaults from the military chain of command — a legislative effort which failed to move forward in 2014 after being opposed by the Pentagon, NBC News reported.

Pushing the bill again may put Gillibrand at odds with Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, who argues that reforming the military from within is the best path to change. She says the Pentagon has made strides in stemming sexual assault in part due to legislation she sponsored that was passed that same year.

But Gillibrand argues that despite attempts at reform, a "troubling command culture" in the military still seems to favor closing cases over pursuing justice.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Mom Told to Stop Breastfeeding at Y]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 22:11:44 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-186081739.jpg

A Pennsylvania mom is speaking out after she says employees at a local YMCA shamed her for breastfeeding her son during a class for toddlers Monday morning.

Kate Haslam, 35, takes her 19-month-old son, West, to a toddler gym class every Monday morning at the Spring Valley YMCA in Limerick,Pa. This Monday started off just like any other, but little West was hungry, so Haslam sat on a balance beam along the wall in the classroom and breastfed her son.

That's when she says things went downhill. A YMCA employee asked Haslam to leave the classroom and breastfeed outside because she was making people "uncomfortable," Haslam said. When the mom protested, telling the employee it's against the law to tell her to breastfeed elsewhere, Haslam said, two other YMCA officials got involved, pressuring her to move.

"It just kept getting deeper and deeper," Haslam told NBC10. "That's what's upsetting."

Haslam said one YMCA official told her women don't breastfeed at the Y -- which she says isn't the case -- and that she needed to breastfeed in the locker room if she chose to feed there.

"It was just such a weird thing. I told [the employee] the locker room is coed," Haslam said. "They said, 'Well, we have curtained areas.'"

She said the employees backed off requiring her to move when they looked up the law and realized that it is indeed illegal in Pennsylvania to ask a breastfeeding mother to move, then saying the YMCA preferred that she breastfeed in private.

"Why should I have to go somewhere different?" the mother asked. "I didn't do anything wrong."

Haslam took to Facebook Monday night and wrote a post about her experience. By Tuesday morning, more than 300 people had shared her post, and people began writing on the Spring Valley YMCA's page to express their outrage over the incident.

Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA President & CEO Shaun Elliott, who oversees the Spring Valley YMCA, called the incident a misunderstanding.

Elliott said the employee wanted Haslam to move from the balance beam she sat on to breastfeed so that children in the class could use it, and that the employee is "distraught" that Haslam interpreted the request in the way that she did. Haslam said that the employee did also point out that "a couple of members had expressed to her that they were uncomfortable" with Haslam breastfeeding.

"But that, quite frankly, is a challenge for them to deal with," Elliott said of the other members who expressed concerns. "She was just being honest with the woman. In no way, in her mind, was she communicating that it was inappropriate for her to breastfeed."

Elliott said breastfeeding is accepted anywhere in the facility and that the Y's policy is clear. He said the staff "tried to do the right thing" and will improve the way it's communicated in the future.

"The Y is an inclusive place where we want to make everybody feel comfortable, and to the extent we can get better, we're always happy to try to improve," he said.

The YMCA also posted a message from Elliott on its Facebook page in response to angry comments from members and others about the incident.

Haslam disputed Elliott's explanation, saying that nobody asked her to move because she was on the balance beam. She said employees specifically told her multiple times that she should breastfeed elsewhere, and that another Y member had complained of being uncomfortable with it.

"That's not even true. At least if you're going to post an apology, don't shame me more," Haslam said of the Facebook statement the Y posted. "I wasn't doing anything wrong."

Haslam said that when she breastfeeds West outside of her home, she generally wears two shirts and West sits up to nurse, blocking the view of her breast.

"It's not like I'm sitting there topless," Haslam said. "People have less on at the pool and in workout gear."

Not that it would matter if it wasn't -- the Pennsylvania Freedom to Breastfeed Act, signed into law in 2007, reads in part, "A mother shall be permitted to breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be present, irrespective of whether or not the mother's breast is covered during or incidental to the breastfeeding."

Haslam said that YMCA officials have reached out to her to talk more about the incident, and that she hopes to set up a meeting to get to the bottom of why it happened.

"I'm just shocked by it. I just can't believe the stuff that they said," Haslam said. "The only reason I went public was because they need training. They need a dedicated facility for moms nursing who want privacy, they need to train their staff on customer service and laws, they need signs saying they're breastfeeding friendly. It's a family facility."

Haslam said that since she had West, Monday's incident was the first time she felt discriminated against for breastfeeding in public. As someone whose family has been involved with local YMCAs for decades, she said Monday's incident disheartens her.

"I felt very unwelcome, and very shamed for doing something that's natural," the mom said. "I'm still in shock by the whole situation ... I'm hurt in 2016 that we're still fighting this battle, especially in a family facility."

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Ex-Teacher Gets 60 Years for Abuse]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 23:02:21 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/kelly-d-williams.jpg

A former special needs instructor in Mansfield, Texas, was sentenced Tuesday to 60 years in prison after he admitted sexually abusing young boys and recording the assaults.

Kelly Dan Williams Jr., who worked at Mary Orr Intermediate School, was indicted by a federal grand jury on two counts of sexually exploiting children. He pleaded guilty in January.

Williams, 62, was arrested after someone saw him performing a sex act on an 11-year-old boy in a bathroom stall at the school in June 2015, prosecutors said.

Police executed a search warrant on his home and seized videos of him performing a sex act on a boy who appeared to be younger than 12, prosecutors said.

The video appeared to have been made in February 2010 in a school bathroom stall.

Williams pleaded guilty to that incident and a separate assault a month earlier.

He was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Terry Means in Fort Worth.

Photo Credit: Mansfield Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Pet Owner Guilty of 66 Counts of Animal Cruelty]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 01:49:23 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/2016-05-24_2211.png

Authorities arrived at a Rockville, Maryland, home, searching for one dog that bit someone at an adoption event. What they discovered was 5 ½ dozen dogs living in horrible conditions.

Court documents showed officers found 66 dogs of all sizes in plastic airline crates covering nearly every inch of the floor at the house on Glen Mill Road. Choking and gagging as they made their way through the home, officers took photos of the conditions of the canines and their living conditions.

One photo showed a dog with paralyzed legs that had been sitting in its own excrement for some time. Another photo showed a dog whose matted fur weighed an extra half pound from being urine-soaked.

The document showed Katherine Tiong, 46, was the owner of the house and initially lied to officers. She said there were only about 20 dogs in the house before officers decided to look for themselves.

Tiong was found guilty on Tuesday of 66 counts of animal cruelty. They are misdemeanor crimes, but each carries a jail term.

A Facebook page for Forever Homes Animal Rescue, which shares the same address with the house, claims to be "helping dogs in high-kill shelters escape death and find loving forever homes.” The posts, which stopped in August, contain photos of many dogs that match the description of those found neglected inside Tiong’s home.

At least one of the dogs was so sick, it had to be euthanized. Some others have been treated and adopted out.

<![CDATA[Cop Fired Over Racist Texts]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 22:35:27 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/021916+james+wells+fort+lauderdale+police.jpg

A Fort Lauderdale Police officer fired for allegedly sending racist text messages and a video will not be getting his job back, an arbitrator has ruled.

James Wells was fired last March along with officers Christopher Sousa and Jason Holding following an extensive internal affairs investigation into the distribution of the racist materials. A fourth officer, Alex Alvarez, resigned during the course of the investigation and would have been fired, Police Chief Frank Adderly said at the time.

Wells claimed he never should have been fired and took his case to an arbitrator, who sided with the city in his firing.

According to a police report on the firings, the officers criticized co-workers' appearance and work ethic, and they "exchanged text messages that included derogatory comments towards Hispanics and homosexuals." The inappropriate material included images of President Barack Obama and fellow Fort Lauderdale Police officers, the report said.

Alvarez's ex-fiance reportedly released the text messages after a nasty breakup. Wells said he expected the messages to be private.

More than 40 cases linked to the four officers have been dropped, according to the Broward State Attorney's Office.

Photo Credit: NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[Family Health Care Costs Have Tripled Since '01: Analysis]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 13:44:53 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/HEALTH_GettyImages-544488581.jpg

The costs of providing health care to an average American family surpassed $25,000 for the first time in 2016 — even as the rate of health cost increases slowed to a record low, a new analysis revealed Tuesday.

CNBC reports that the $25,826 in health-care costs for a typical family of four covered by an employer-sponsored "preferred provider plan" is $1,155 higher than last year, and triple what it cost to provide health care for the same family in 2001, the first year that Milliman Medical Index analysis was done.

And it's the 11th consecutive year that the total dollar increase in the average family's health-care costs exceeded $1,110, the actuarial services firm noted in releasing the index.

A significant cost driver identified by the index was the rapid growth in what health plans and insured people are paying for prescription drugs.

Photo Credit: Caiaimage/Chris Cross via Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Train Hits SUV, 2 Dead]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 01:51:03 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/0524-2016-Amtrak.jpg

A woman and her 3-year-old were killed in an Amtrak crash in San Leandro, California, Tuesday afternoon, after a train traveling from San Jose to Sacramento crashed into their SUV.

Capitol Corridor Train 532 struck the SUV on the tracks at 1:30 p.m. near Washington Avenue in San Leandro, according to Amtrak.

San Leandro police identified the victims as 30-year-old Vanessa Henriquez and her 3-year-old daughter, Saidy.

San Leandro Police Department spokesman Lt. Robert McManus said the SUV was parked on the track on the other side of the guardrail. "There is a construction zone which could have created some confusion," McManus said. Both mother and child died on impact, he said.

The family was in shock Tuesday. Jose Nelson Portillo confirmed to NBC Bay Area that it was his sister-in-law and niece in the SUV. He said the family has a boy with autism, and Hernriquez was on her way to pick him up.

One witness said the conductor tried to stop the train and was concerned when he got closer to the wreckage.

"I went down there, and the conductor came out of the train," said Weston Pokorny. "He said, 'Please tell me people got out of the car.' He was checking the train. I said no one got out of the car."

There were no injuries to the 39 people on board, Amtrak said. All passengers were transported by bus to an Amtrak station to continue on to Sacramento.

The maximum train speed in that area is 79 mph, but it was not immediately known how fast the train was going, Amtrak said.

"I don’t know what speeds the Amtrak train was traveling at but do know that as they pass these rail passings they do go at a very high rate of speed which would explain why that car was trapped in the tracks," McManus said.

Emergency crews and paramedics could be spotted at the scene of the crash, which showed the SUV trapped underneath the train.

"The train basically dragged the car all the way down - it stopped pretty fast, but it was too late," a man who was eating lunch at a nearby restaurant told NBC Bay Area. "I suddenly turned around and heard this impact ... Wham!"

According to police, the train pushed the SUV to what appears to be an eight and a quarter of a mile down the train tracks.

"I heard the screeching and then bang," said Western Pokorny, who spoke with the conductor moments after the crash.

"He said, 'Please tell me they got out of the vehicle.' I said, 'No one got out the of the vehicle they are gone.'"

On Monday, a man was hit and killed by an Amtrak train traveling from San Jose to Sacramento in San Leandro, officials said. Train No. 528 was traveling from San Jose to Sacramento when it struck the man around 10:30 a.m. near Davis Street and Orchard Avenue, Amtrak said.

There were two more train-related accidents Monday. The first accident occurred at 6:45 a.m. when Caltrain No. 305 struck and killed a man in Burlingame. Also on Monday morning, a person was hit and trapped underneath a train at the BART Embarcadero Station in San Francisco.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[2 FBI Agents Shot, Suspect Dead]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 11:59:08 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Park+Forest+Final.png

Two FBI agents were shot Tuesday morning while attempting to serve a warrant to a man who was later found dead in his south suburban Chicago home.

The Cook County medical examiner's office identified the suspect as 50-year-old Melvin Toran. Court records show Toran had a long criminal history, including a conviction for murder in 1986.

He was paroled from prison on Feb. 18, 2013, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections.

SWAT teams were seen swarming Toran's home on Rich Court in Park Forest around 8:30 a.m. Multiple neighbors told NBC 5 they noticed the police activity as early as 6 a.m.

FBI special agent Garrett H. Croon said two agents suffered non-life threatening gunshot wounds during the attempted arrest of Toran, who was later found dead in his home. 

The commotion caused Park Forest-Chicago Heights School District 163 to delay their start time until 9:15 a.m., temporarily requesting parents to keep their children indoors and home from school while the FBI activity was ongoing.

One neighbor seemed surprised to find that Toran was a wanted man, saying that he "seemed nice" and had always been seen walking his dog.

Toran was a high-ranking gang member, according to the Chicago Tribune. The FBI was reportedly trying to arrest him on narcotics trafficking charges after Toran allegedly sold heroin to an undercover agent.

Toran's manner of death has not been released.

Photo Credit: Illinois Department of Corrections
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<![CDATA['Ikea' Reveals How to Pronounce 'Ikea']]> Tue, 24 May 2016 14:10:11 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/AP_288255360356.jpg

Americans have been pronouncing the name of the Swedish furniture store Ikea all wrong, "Today" found out.

Instead of emphasizing the the first letter and saying "eye-kee-ah," the way the word was intended to be pronounced is apparently "ee-kay-uh."

An Ikea representative confirmed to "Today" that Americans, in fact, say the Swedish store's name differently from its actual pronunciation.

Photo Credit: AP, File
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<![CDATA[WATCH: Snowbirds Fly Over DC]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 15:44:39 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/20160524+Snowbirds2.jpg

They picked the right day for it: The Canadian Armed Forces' Snowbirds flew over the National Mall in Washington, D.C., about noon Tuesday.

The air demonstration team passed over the Mall, then headed to Dulles International Airport, trailing "show smoke" during the flyover. Ten aircraft flew in formation.

The show is meant "to highlight the relationship between Canada and the United States of America," according to the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Guests can learn more at a "Meet the Snowbirds" event at the National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center from noon until 5 p.m. Wednesday.

The Snowbirds' Canadair CT-114 Tutors will be on display, and pilots will demonstrate their maneuvers through presentations and video.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>
<![CDATA[Gwynn Family Files Lawsuit Against Tobacco Industry]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 14:41:56 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/102871071.jpg

The tobacco industry used the late Tony Gwynn's addiction to chewing tobacco to turn him into a "walking billboard," his family alleges. 

"He never knew it but they were using him to promote their dip to the next generation of kids and fans who idolized him," Gwynn's daughter, Anisha Gwynn, said Tuesday in San Diego.

Gwynn’s family has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the tobacco industry, claiming the San Diego Padres legend was targeted to use the smokeless tobacco that led to the cancer that killed him.

The suit was filed Monday in San Diego Superior Court against Altria Group, Inc. (formerly known as Philip Morris USA) and several other defendants. Altria Group, Inc. makes Skoal chewing tobacco, the brand Tony Gwynn preferred and used extensively. 

The Gwynn family alleges the tobacco industry induced Gwynn to begin using smokeless tobacco when he was a star athlete at San Diego State University in the late 1970’s. 

When asked about the lawsuit, an Altria representative told NBC 7 San Diego, "We have no comment."

In the suit, the Gwynn family says the tobacco company "continued to deluge Tony during his college years with countless free samples of 'dip' tobacco products they purposely adulterated to make more addictive. All the while, they did not mention either the highly addictive nature of their products or their toxicity."

The suit alleges Gwynn used up to two cans of smokeless tobacco per day, claiming that is the equivalent of smoking four to five packs of cigarettes daily. In the suit the Gwynn family alleges the tobacco industry chose Gwynn specifically because it was trying to market its product to African-Americans, and that it intentionally misled Tony to use the product.

"Tony Gwynn was the Defendants' marketing dream come true," says the lawsuit. "They knew youngsters looking up to Tony would hope to one day hit like Tony, and be like Tony, so they would also want to 'dip' like Tony."

On Tuesday, Gwynn's daughter Anisha spoke of her dad's legacy, saying the baseball legend “wouldn’t want to see another player or any other person have to get sick and die."

Gwynn used smokeless tobacco for 31 years, despite seeing signs it may be harming his health as early as the 1990’s. Gwynn admitted an addiction to the substance and when he tried to stop using he reportedly needed prescription drugs to fight the anxiety and cravings he felt in its absence.

In recent years, Gwynn had multiple surgeries on his neck to remove both an abscess and a malignant tumor. He died in 2014 from salivary gland cancer at the age of 54.

Tony Gwynn was an elite athlete who “cared about his body,” his son said Tuesday.

“If he had known how addictive and harmful to his health dip was he would not have started using in college,” Tony Gwynn, Jr said of his dad.

The lawsuit does not ask for specified damages, instead requesting a jury trial to rule on grounds of negligence, fraud and product liability by the tobacco industry.

Gwynn’s death has brought about a change in some part of baseball. Multiple young players have either stopped using smokeless tobacco or simply not picked up the habit because of what happened to Mr. Padre.

Photo Credit: Getty Images for Pepsi MLB Refre]]>
<![CDATA[FBI K-9 Sniffs Out Digital Evidence]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 14:18:11 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/fbi+puppy.jpg

One of the newest members of the FBI has a decidedly low-tech method of sniffing out digital evidence: she uses her nose.

Iris, an 18-month-old Labrador retriever, is the FBI's first electronic-detection K-9 and can sniff out just about any electronic device that stores memory —regardless of how well a criminal has hidden it.

Iris graduated from a program pioneered by the Connecticut State Police last month and is one of just a handful of dogs trained to detect a chemical used to cool memory chips on electronics.

"She went into four weeks of imprinting class with them, where they basically just had her every day and imprinted her on the scent," said her handler, FBI Agent Jeffrey Calandra. "That chemical is unique to thumb drives, hard drives, really anything that’s electronic that can store memory."

Now, just about anytime she's brought to a scene to sniff out the chemical, she alerts her handler in a way similar to bomb and drug dogs. 

"She’s a passive alert dog so when she finds the device she’ll sit and then she’s fed," said Calanda.

After there is enough probable cause for the FBI to obtain a search warrant, Iris is used to search specific locations for electronic devices. Iris’ unique cyber-sniffing ability can be used in a wide range of investigations, including counter intelligence, counter terrorism and child pornography.

"We encounter subjects of our investigations who are very clever and they will do their best to hide electronic devices in the most unique places," said Michael Brodack, assistant special agent in charge of the Newark FBI office.

Some subjects will store incriminating evidence and thumb drives in places that may not even be thought of as electronic devices.

"You can find thumb drives in earrings, cuff links, pens, you name it," said FBI Supervisory Special Agent Philip Frigm. "They are very small and are getting smaller so it’s very difficult for a human who is in the process of conducting a search warrant to find some of those devices."

Other agencies have used dogs trained to detect the chemical successfully. Most notably, a black Lab named Bear sniffed out a hidden thumb drive containing child porn belonging to former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle.

Broadack said "the sky is the limit" with Iris. 

"It will make our jobs a little bit easier and it’ll ensure that we find all of the pieces of evidence that we need to find," he said.

When the work day is over, Iris is just a regular dog living with her FBI handler and his family.              

"She loves to play, she has a great personality but when it’s time to work, she loves to work — she gets fed when she works," said Calandra.

The Newark FBI will make Iris available to other FBI offices and law enforcement agencies to assist in cases where electronic devices are used and may go unseen without her skills.

"Electronics are a part of everyone’s daily lives and they are everywhere,” said Frigm. "Expectations are that she is going to be very busy in the near future."

<![CDATA[School Bus Erupts in Flames]]> Wed, 25 May 2016 01:47:05 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/school+bus+fire+nj.jpg

A group of New Jersey high school students narrowly avoided being caught in a dangerous blaze when the bus they were riding to school erupted in flames. 

School bus driver Jose Rodriguez says he sensed trouble with his vehicle as the engine stalled on the road Monday. He quickly pulled over and ordered the students out. Moments later, the bus was engulfed in fire.  

"I said 'Get out, kids, get out,'" Rodriguez said Tuesday. "And within seconds, it took over." 

Rodriguez was driving around 20 students from Paramus High School when the bus started sputtering. With 20 years of experience as a bus driver and a trained mechanic, he didn't hesitate to get the students out in front of East Brook Middle School. 

"I thought it was going to blow up because there was a lot of smoke and it was right where the engine was," said Kyle Kaiser, 16. 

"Someone opened the back door and we started jumping out the back," said Stephanie Kravitz, 15. "It was kind of scary, if we didn't get off in time."

Rodriguez ran out with a fire extinguisher as the students jumped out the rear exit door. Dozens of gallons of diesel fuel added to the fire. 

"I think it could have been really dangerous," Kravitz said. "We are lucky no one got hurt." 

There are 20 grateful families along Rodriguez's bus route three miles north of Paramus High School, thankful that their children made it home safe.

The bus manager said the bus that caught fire was just inspected last week. Rodriguez was happy to be back driving his route — in a different bus — on Tuesday. 

"The kids got to the school safe. I'm not a hero, anyone could have done it," Rodriguez said. 

Photo Credit: Provided to NBC 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[American ISIS Defector's Unsealed Case Details Escape]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 15:07:57 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/IS-AP_539830332381.jpg

A judge has unsealed the case against an American ISIS defector whose identity is still hidden, NBC News reported.

The 27-year-old former Columbia University student, who is identified as Mo, spoke with NBC News last week — with the permission of prosecutors — about why he signed up with the terror group, the violence he saw and his desperate escape. Prosecutors acquiesced to revealing the defector's information after the interview.

Among other things, the case file details Mo's initial contact with the FBI in 2014. He told the FBI, "I just want to get back home. All I want is this extraction, complete exoneration thereafter and have everything back to normal with me and my family…Please help me get back home."

FBI officials have told NBC News that Mo pleaded guilty to two terrorism charges that carry between 10 and 25 years in prison — though he could get less because of his ongoing cooperation.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[NYC Man Accused of Trying to Join ISIS]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 19:45:24 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/EXCLUSIVE+ISIS+ARREST+PHOTOS+WITH+WATERMARK+052416+-+01000819_W.jpg

A Bronx man was arrested early Tuesday after he allegedly tried to join ISIS and later helped an undercover informant who he thought was trying to join the terrorist organization, according to a criminal complaint.

Sajmir Alimehmeti, 22, was arrested in the Bronx by the Joint Terrorism Task Force and is charged with providing material support to a terrorist organization, according to a complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

"Alimehmeti is charged today with actions that show a clear intention to support a terrorist organization that is hell-bent on murder and mayhem," said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

According to the complaint, he tried to travel to the Middle East to join ISIS on two occassions in 2014 but was blocked each time by British authorities. Then, this year, he allegedly tried to help an undercover informant who claimed to be attempting to join the organization. 

The complaint alleges that Alimehmeti first traveled to the United Kingdom in October of 2014 in an attempt to continue on to the Middle East but was denied entry to the country when British authorities at Manchester Airport found nunchucks and camouflage clothing in his luggage.

He tried again that December, according to the complaint, and was again stopped in the United Kingdom after British authorities at Heathrow Airport in London found images of ISIS and improvised explosive devices on his cellphone.

"As alleged, Alimehmeti continued his quest to support ISIL’s deadly terrorist agenda, after being denied entry into Europe with a bag full of military gear," said NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton. "When he returned home, to the Bronx, he allegedly turned to helping others join the terrorist organization as he built his own arsenal of weapons."

Alerted by UK authorities, the FBI went to work, introducing Alimehmeti to undercover law enforcement informants who posed as ISIS recruits interested in traveling to Syria, according to court papers.

A year after the second attempt, Alimehmeti tried to get a new passport and claimed he had lost his old one, according to the complaint. But he allegedly told undercover agents that he already had $2,500 to travel to Syria but needed to get a new passport in a different name because his had rejection stamps from the United Kingdom and was "already in the system."

Late last year and earlier this year, Alimehmeti began communicating with undercover agents, according to the complaint. When meeting with the agents, the man allegedly expressed interest in joining ISIS, telling one who he thought was set to head overseas, "I'm ready f---ing go with you, man...You know I would... I'm done with this place."

He then bought that informant a phone to be used overseas and allegedly talked about "apps" that would encrypt his communications. He also bought two informants boots to use while fighting with ISIS at a sporting-goods store in Manhattan. The complaint also alleges that Alimehmeti also took one of the agents to John F. Kennedy Airport so the agent could fly to join ISIS.

According to the complaint, Alimehmeti played two ISIS-produced music videos that depicted prisoners being beheaded for the undercover agents. He allegedly told the agents that the videos helped him stay motivated while exercising.

Photos from the complaint show him posing in his Bronx apartment with what appears to be an ISIS flag. He also allegedly bought knives, steel-knuckled gloves, a pocket chainsaw, handcuffs and masks, and had MP3 files containing lectures by former al-Qaida official Anwar al-Awlaki.

The court papers said Alimehmeti told the undercover contacts he and his brother "had our own plan" to travel from Albania to Syria but that his brother had been arrested in Albania.

In a footnote, the FBI said in court papers that Alimehmeti's brother was arrested on weapons and assault charges in Albania last August.

At his initial court appearance Tuesday, Alimehmeti, who's also facing fraud-related charges, remained silent and stared at his feet as his team of public defense lawyers asked the judge to set bail at $200,000.

Defense lawyers Sylvie Levine and Sabrina Shroff insisted that Alimehmeti wasn't being charged for criminal action, but instead "conversation that was consistently prompted by undercover law enforcement."

But prosecutor Brendan Quigley said Alimehmeti's "repeated support for ISIS shows that he's both a flight risk and a risk to the safety of the public." 

He also pointed to Alimehmeti's past arrests dating back to 2010, including robbery, assault, forcible touching and public lewdness. Alimehmeti has served probation and a year in jail for the crimes. 

The judge, Gabriel Gorenstein, acknowledged the defense attorneys' claims that Alimehmeti was being charged without ever acting on his intentions, but said that “those aren’t the charges,” and that his willingness to join and support a known terror organization was enough to keep him locked away.

Alimehmeti is scheduled to appear again in court on June 7. 

More than a half dozen individuals have been arrested since mid-2015 by the task force in New York and New Jersey on similar charges.

The investigation was conducted by the Joint Terrorism Task Force, comprised largely of FBI agents and NYPD detectives, and the NYPD's Intelligence Division.

Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY
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<![CDATA[10 Years of Spelling Bee Champions]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 10:45:18 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP080530028994_1_ScrippsBee.jpg Click through the last 10 years of National Spelling Bee champions.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[How Well Can You Spell? National Spelling Bee Knockout Words]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 10:24:25 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP_854384059073.jpg

Stichomythia. Guetapens. Laodicean. 

Those hard-to-pronounce words have also spelled victory for some of the country's most lexical students: champions of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. 

But for the rest of the 200-plus students who participate in the spell-fest each year, the highfalutin vocabulary words prove more vexing. See with this quiz if you could have outspelled the studious contestants who made it to the finalist round. All the words featured in the quiz knocked out participants in recent years. 

And for those who want to continue to play along from home, this year's competition will take place from May 24 to May 26 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. 

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Sports Authority to Close All of Its Stores]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 08:32:08 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/sports-GettyImages-513328004.jpg

Sports Authority is getting ready to close all of its 463 stores and has launched a big going-out-of-business sale, according to NBC's "Today" show. 

The chain filed for bankruptcy protection a few months back, but its attempts to restructure its debt failed.

The final sale in Sports Authority stores is expected to start this weekend and last until end of August. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA['Natural' Mosquito Repellents Don't Last: Consumer Reports]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 07:48:43 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ZikaMosquitoAP_791168702393.jpg

Most so-called natural mosquito repellents containing naturally derived oils smell nice but don't keep mosquitos off as long as those containing synthetic chemicals, Consumer Reports found.

Consumer Reports said it tested 16 products to see which work best against the Aedes mosquitoes that spread Zika as well as against Culex mosquitoes, which spread West Nile, and the ticks that carry Lyme. The products contain a range of active ingredients, including conventional chemicals like DEET, synthetic plantlike compounds that resemble those found in nature, and plant oils like citronella and rosemary, according to the group.

Their three top pics contain a different synthetic chemical: Sawyer Picaridin (20 percent picaridin); Ben's 30 Percent Deet Tick & Insect Wilderness Formula (30 percent DEET) and Repel Lemon Eucalyptus (65 percent p-menthane-3,8-diol, a synthetic derivative of eucalyptus).

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA['Avengers' Stars Visit Grossmont HS Student]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 08:55:03 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Ryan-Wilcox-Visit-IMG_2231.jpg

A San Diego teenager who is battling cancer welcomed Captain America, Iron Man and Pepper Potts into his home, just two weeks after his classmates stood behind him in support.

Ryan Wilcox, 18, is a Grossmont High School student who is also a die-hard "Captain America" and "Avengers" fan.

In a video played at the school May 6, Chris Evans offered Wilcox well wishes and told him to "stay strong."

The clip not only went viral but prompted "Avengers" co-star Gwyneth Paltrow to suggest a trip to San Diego.

The trip became a reality Monday when Paltrow, who plays Pepper Potts in the "Avengers" movies; Evans, who portrays Captain America; and Robert Downey Jr., also known as Iron Man, showed up on the Wilcox family's doorstep.

"I saw this car pull up and I saw them walking. I was just like — what?" Ryan told NBC 7's Greg Bledsoe in an interview Monday.

The stars spent some time with Ryan in his room and even signed his wall. They left behind souveniers and a lot of memories.

"We're all a little numb. I knew for a couple days it was gonna happen but until you see them walk through that door, you don't know how you're going to feel. And they just were awesome. They didn't want cameras, they wanted to do it quietly," said Ryan's mom, Amy Wilcox. "They came into our home, sat on our couches and just visited with us."

She said the trio sat down with the family and just talked.

Photo Credit: Family Photo
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<![CDATA[Baby Left in Car in Fla. Dies]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 20:31:43 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/052316+baby+inside+car.jpg

An 11-month-old girl died after she was left inside her parents' parked car Monday in South Florida, possibly for hours, according to police.

Emergency responders were called to the 3500 block of West 86th Terrace in Hialeah around 4:10 p.m. The baby was found unconscious and taken to Palmetto General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. 

Police said the baby had been left inside her parents' parked vehicle with the engine turned off. It's not clear how long she was there, but police said it may have been a few hours. The child's name has not been released.

The temperature outside climbed into the upper 80s on Monday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

"In 10 to 15 minutes, a temperature of a car that's parked with the engine not running could go from 80 degrees to 130 degrees," explained a member of the fire rescue team.

Authorities have not taken anyone into custody or filed charges in connection with the case. Police are working with the Miami-Dade state attorney's office to investigate.

Hialeah Police also issued the following statement: "We are aware of the public interest and multiple information requests for this case. However, we will not be releasing any further information at this time while the case remains open and active. This is a very significant incident and an equally important investigation. We do not wish to comprise the integrity of the investigation or release incomplete information until the investigation is finalized."

According to HeatStroke.org, the child is the first to die in a vehicle in Florida this year and the eighth nationwide.

Janette Fennell, president and founder of Kids and Cars, a nonprofit organization focused on improving child safety around cars, recommends the following tips to parents:

  1. Look before you lock. Open the back door and look in the back seat to make sure everyone is out of the car (even if you think there is no one back there).
  2. Keep something you need in the back seat. Put your cellphone, briefcase, computer, lunch, ID badge, left shoe or anything essential to your daily routine next your child.
  3. Travel with a furry companion. Keep a stuffed animal in the car seat. When a baby is in the seat, the stuffed animal rides shotgun. The furry passenger serves as a reminder that baby's in the back.
  4. Always lock the doors. Even if the car is in the garage, keep the doors locked to prevent curious children from getting into the car.
  5. Put the keys and fobs away. Kids might want to play with keys and be able to get into the car without parents knowledge.
  6. Have a plan with child-care provider. If your child does not show up to daycare or school without prior notice, someone should call to locate child.
  7. If you see something, do something. If you see a child alone in a car, do not hesitate to call 911.

Photo Credit: NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[No Harm From 'Cry It Out' Baby Sleep Method: Study]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 06:00:35 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-74146469-%281%29.jpg

A new study suggests that infants left to CIO — "cry it out" or cry themselves to sleep will not suffer any emotional, behavioral or parental attachment problems, Today.com reported.  

Researchers in Australia studied infants 6 months through 16 months and found that CIO did not produce any more signs of stress in the babies than a "gentler" method, according to the study published Tuesday in the journal Pediatrics. 

The lead author of the study, Michael Gradisar, an associate professor and clinical psychologist at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, said "graduated extinction was better in reducing the number of times the infants woke during the night, as well as the amount of time they spent awake during the night."

The new study adds to existing research showing that children sleep better when parents adopt the extinction method, said Dr. Marc Weissbluth, a professor of clinical pediatrics, emeritus, at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Aurora Creative
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<![CDATA[Ospreys Drop Fish, Kitten From Nest]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 06:52:02 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/osprey+nest+stratford.jpg

The Stratford Fire Department is plagued with an unusual problem: Two ospreys that built a nest above the station are dropping sticks, fish and even a kitten in the path of unsuspecting firefighters below.

The ospreys, which can grow up to 2 feet long with wingspans over 5 feet, have nested on a communication antenna at the fire station along the Connecticut shoreline.

They often drop large sticks, and in some cases entire fish — their main source of food — in front of the main entrance below.

"We have ospreys that have built a nest up there and basically it's causing a little bit of problems with dropping stuff down on the main entrance of the fire station," said Stratford Fire Chief Robert McGrath.

An air conditioning unit was damaged last week after a dropped bass landed inside. Firefighters said the birds dropped a kitten on Sunday.

The other concern is that the nest could prevent the communication antenna from operating properly, according to the chief.

"It could compromise the signal going back and forth from the two towers," said McGrath.

According to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, osprey are no longer endangered. The nest can be moved if there are no eggs inside, which firefighters say is the case with this one.

DEEP officials said April and May are egg-laying months for the birds, so firefighters are working on a plan to get the feathered visitors to leave.

"It's entertaining, I can tell you that, at best. But really, it's a nuisance," McGrath said.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[NYPD-NYFD Brawl During Charity Game]]> Tue, 24 May 2016 13:00:38 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/fdny+nypd+brawl.jpg

A charity football game between members of the FDNY and the NYPD was meant to be a family-friendly outing in Coney Island but quickly turned into a bloody brawl when a verbal dispute escalated on the field. 

New York's Finest and New York's Bravest met on the field at the MCU Park Saturday for a friendly football game, the proceeds of which would go to help families in both departments. But the Fun City Bowl ended with fists flying. 

"I think one of the FDNY guys exchanged words with the NYPD player and then from there, I couldn't see what was happening, I just saw the crowds come around the player," said Angel Zayas, a freelance photographer who was filming the game on the sidelines. "I heard it happening before I saw it happening." 

Zayas watched one of the firefighters walk away with blood dripping down the side of his face.

"He was pulled out of the crowd, the FDNY guy," he said. "It was trickling out the side, you could see the blood on the side of his head." 

Moments later, a second fight broke out, and players on the sidelines ran to the center of the field to jump in as families watched from the stands.

Zayas described another FDNY member being tackled, "and then they surround him and everyone jumps into the center of that."

Then the arguing, fighting and tackling subsided, and the crowd cheered and applauded in an attempt to encourage the goodwill. Handshakes and hugs were exchanged between the red and the blue, and a man could be heard telling one of the teams: "Listen up. Don't embarrass yourselves, you hear me?"

"At the end, they were all talking, it was like water under the bridge," Zaya said. 

The NYPD said in a statement, "Football is a competitive sport, whether it is the NFL Super Bowl or the annual NYPD-FDNY challenge. It is part of the spirit of the sport, but it all ends on the field."

The game ended with the NYPD winning 29-13. 

It's not the first time the teams have brawled during a charity game. Last year, members of the NYPD and FDNY fought on the ice during a hockey match at Nassau Coliseum. 

Photo Credit: Angel Zayas]]>