<![CDATA[NBC 6 South Florida - National & International News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/national-international http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC+6+LOGO+GOOGLE.png NBC 6 South Florida http://www.nbcmiami.com en-us Tue, 30 Jun 2015 21:29:12 -0400 Tue, 30 Jun 2015 21:29:12 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Walmart Apologizes for Making ISIS Flag Cake]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 18:30:26 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Walmart-Generic1.jpg

A Louisiana man said he got Walmart to bake him a cake featuring the flag of the Islamic State after the store refused to make him a cake decorated with the Confederate battle flag and the caption, “Heritage not hate.”  

Activist Chuck Netzhammer posted a YouTube video in which he said he had a Walmart in Slidell, Louisiana, make the ISIS cake to show the store's hypocrisy in banning Confederate flag-themed products but not, apparently, ISIS-themed ones.

“Hi, Walmart, you’ve got some explaining to do,” he said in the video. “I went to buy a printed cake from y’all the other day with this image on it and y’all wouldn’t do it. I’ve got proof. Went back yesterday and managed to get an ISIS battle flag printed. ISIS happens to be somebody we’re fighting against right now who are killing our men and boys overseas and are beheading Christians.”

Walmart spokesman John Forrest Ales said in a statement to NBC Owned Stations on Tuesday: "Our talented bakery associates take pride in what they create for our customers. It's unfortunate that one customer sought to take advantage of an associate who did not know the flag or its meaning. This cake should not have been made and we apologize for the mistake." 

Walmart joined other companies, including Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Sears and Target, in removing Confederate flag-themed items from their sites and stores. The business decision came in the wake of the July 17 mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Photographs of alleged shooter Dylann Roof emerged online showing him posing with the Confederate battle flag


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<![CDATA[Heartbroken Family Mourns Girl, 10, Who Died on First Day of Summer Camp]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 19:40:48 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/girl+dies+summer+camp.jpg

The heartbroken family of a 10-year-old girl who died after collapsing on a soccer field Monday during her first day of summer camp in Queens remembered their child as a great friend and sister with a bright future as they struggled to cope with their unbearable loss.

Laura Palma, who was enrolled in the Queens College Summer Camp, was on the field at Queens College at about 3:10 p.m. when she complained of feeling sick and collapsed, according to authorities and sources familiar with the investigation. 911 was called at 3:14 p.m., the sources said.

Queens College staff administered CPR until emergency crews arrived about eight minutes later; the crews were already trying to save the girl's life by the time police arrived in response to the 911 call, the sources said.

Palma never regained consciousness; she was taken to New York Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Monday was her first day of camp

Palma's devastated family said she was a straight A student and rarely left the side of her brother, who has cerebral palsy.

"She was a great sister, a great friend -- she just finished fifth grade on Friday," her mother, Patricia Nolasco said, pounding her first on a table in frustration.

Nolasco said she would remember her daughter as "sunshine in a pink dress."

"She loved life, she loved people, she loved her family," the tearful mother said.

Overcome with emotion, the little girl's father shared the most recent photo he had of his daughter -- and remembered how much she enjoyed the sunshine.

"I said, 'My God, Laura, you look like such a young lady now,'" her father said. "She was gonna be so much."

In a statement, Queens College said it "mourns the tragic loss of this young life and extends its heartfelt sympathy and prayers to her family."

The medical examiner’s office will determine how Palma died. Her mother says she had no medical issues and had just received a clean bill of health in a pre-camp checkup with her doctor Sunday.

The school said grief counseling services are being made available to summer camp students and staff.



Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA['Like Being in a Furnace': Man Who Survived Grill Explosion]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 13:45:37 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/063015+john+herrera.jpg

A South Florida man who was left badly burned in an accident with his barbecue is sharing his story before the upcoming July 4 holiday.

Firing up a grill left John Herrera with scars and nerve damage he'll keep for the rest of his life.

"It's so painful, it is like being in a furnace where your entire body at the same time is being with with 12, 14, 1,500 degrees," Herrera said at a news conference at Kendall Regional Hospital Tuesday.

Last February, Herrera's wife couldn't get the couple's barbecue lighted so she asked her husband to take a look. What he didn't know was she had left the gas on with the grill cover closed, trapping the gas and causing a small explosion that was caught on camera.

Dr. Carlos Medina said Herrera's burns covered close to 20 percent total body surface area.

"It hits you everywhere," Herrera said.

Herrera spent 10 days in the hospital with second and third degree burns to his arms and legs. He said now he's grateful to be alive.

"You kinda think about things you took for granted before, which you really don't take for granted now," Herrera said.

Herrera said he will be grilling on July 4, but said he hopes others will learn from his lesson.

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<![CDATA[Sugary Drinks May Kill 184,000 People Each Year: Study]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 14:11:00 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/soda+fountain.jpg

Consumption of soda, energy beverages, and other sugary drinks may be linked to 184,000 adult deaths each year worldwide, according to research published Tuesday in the journal Circulation.

“Many countries in the world have a significant number of deaths occurring from a single dietary factor, sugar-sweetened beverages," said study coauthor Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy at Tufts University. "It should be a global priority to substantially reduce or eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages from the diet."

The researchers looked at 62 dietary surveys conducted across 51 countries, along with data on national availability of sugar in 187 countries as well as other information. The surveys included data collected from 611,971 individuals between 1980 and 2010.

In the report, sugar sweetened beverages were defined as any sugar-sweetened sodas, fruit drinks, sports and energy drinks, sweetened iced teas, or homemade sugary drinks such as frescas, that contained at least 50 kcal per 8oz serving. Drinks that were 100 percent fruit juice was excluded.

According to the report, the researchers estimated that in 2010 sugary drinks may have been responsible for 133,000 deaths from diabetes, 45,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease, and 6, 450 deaths from cancer.

Researchers found the impact of sugar-sweetened beverages varied widely between populations. In Japan, an estimated percentage of deaths linked to such beverages was less than 1 percent in people over 65 years old, but it stood at 30 percent in Mexican adults younger than 45.

Mexico had the highest death rate attributable to sugar-sweetened beverages with an estimated 405 deaths per million adults (24,000 total deaths) and the U.S. ranked second with an estimated 125 deaths per million adults (25,000 total deaths).

In a statement, the American Beverage Association, a trade group representing soft drink manufacturers, said “This study does not show that consuming sugar-sweetened beverages causes chronic diseases and the authors themselves acknowledge that they are at best estimating effects of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption."

“America’s beverage companies are doing their part to offer consumers the fact-based information and the beverage options they need to make the right choices for themselves and their families," the statement added.

Liz Ruder, a professor of nutrition and dietetics at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, told NBC News it's not certain it was the sugar-sweetened beverages that caused the deaths since the study is not a randomized controlled trial.
"But because the authors have employed sophisticated statistical techniques and they have rich food consumption data I believe that these data are likely to be accurate," Ruder said. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA['Pirate' Fired Pistols on Florida Keys Bridge: Deputies]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 13:16:10 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/063015+jamie+don+spering.jpg

A man dressed in full pirate costume was arrested after firing his guns on the old Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys Monday night, authorities said.

Jamie Don Spering, 58, is charged with disorderly conduct following his arrest in Marathon, according to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office. It was unknown if he has a private attorney.

Deputies responding to a shots fired call found Spering in costume with operational black powder pistols on each hip, a sword and two knives, authorities said.

Spering, who said he is an entertainer, was on the bridge with friends watching the sunset when the incident happened. He admitted to firing the pistols, which had no projectiles loaded, just the powder, authorities said.

Spering claimed he shot them safely toward the water but witnesses said he fired one at the water and one at cars traveling on the bridge, authorities said.



Photo Credit: Monroe County Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Top News Photos of the Week]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 06:25:19 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP_885112547159.jpg View weekly updates on the very best photos in domestic and foreign news. ]]> <![CDATA[Navy Ship From San Diego Rescues Group, Infant Lost at Sea]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 17:36:27 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/USNS-Rescue-2.jpg

A U.S. Navy hospital ship rescued six people lost at sea in Papua New Guinea Tuesday, including an 18-month-old boy, after the group got stranded on a small island, the U.S. Navy confirmed.

San Diego-based hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) is currently in Papua New Guinea for its second leg of a humanitarian mission.

The U.S. Navy said the ship sent an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter to retrieve the six injured people from Han Island, a small land mass off the coast of Carteret Island.

Officials said the group got lost at sea in a small boat and swam ashore to Han Island on Saturday. The infant made it to the island with his mother and the group.

That day, USNS Mercy was called by the Chief Secretary of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) through the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby to aid in search and rescue efforts for missing boat.

The boat had been in transit from Buka to Carteret Island when it went missing.

The ship launched two helicopters with Navy search and rescue swimmers on board. They searched the area, but were unable to find the boat or any survivors.

Later, the crews discovered six of the surviving boat passengers on Han Island, all in need of medical care. The group was rescued by the chopper and transported to the USNS Mercy treatment facility.

"All patients are currently in good condition," said Capt. Melanie Merrick, the commanding officer of the military treatment facility USNS Mercy.

The Navy said additional passengers of the missing boat remain unaccounted for, but a search operation is ongoing and being led by the Papua New Guinea National Maritime Safety Authority.

According to the Navy, USNS Mercy is currently taking part on its Pacific Partnership mission – the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. While training for crisis conditions, Pacific Partnership missions to date have provided real world medical care to approximately 270,000 patients.

The Mission Commander of Pacific Partnership 2015 is Capt. Chris Engdahl, who directed his maritime operations center aboard the ship to launch a helicopter for this rescue mission.

USNS Mercy left San Diego for this four-month deployment in late May.
 



Photo Credit: U.S. Navy]]>
<![CDATA[Pursuit Exceeds 100 MPH Through 3 Southern California Counties]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 17:28:47 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/06-30-2015-pursuit-suv-volvo-orange-la-san-diego.jpg

Officers pursued a sport utility vehicle driver who reached speeds well above 100 mph on at least four different freeways Tuesday afternoon in Los Angeles and Orange counties before he surrendered in San Diego County.

The pursuit began after a traffic violation in the East Los Angeles area just before 1 p.m. The Volvo sport utility vehicle driver, weaving in and out of lanes and reaching speeds of 100 mph, continued on the 60, 710, 605 and 5 freeways with California Highway Patrol vehicles in pursuit.

At about 1:30 p.m., at least three CHP sport utility vehicles were trailing the SUV on the southbound 5 Freeway in southern Orange County. The pursuit entered San Deigo County about 15 minutes later and reached an estimated 120 mph as the driver squeezed between other vehicles and a concrete freeway divider in the Carlsbad area.

The driver pulled to the side of the 5 Freeway and surrendered at about 2 p.m.

It was not immediately clear how many people were in the vehicle. NBC4 is attempting to confirm reports that the occupant was wanted for a drug-related offense.



Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA["Ghost Wheel" Bounces Through Restaurant Window]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 15:48:53 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Raw_Video_Tire_Bounces_Into_Restaurant_1200x675_473515587685.jpg

Surprised customers scrambled for cover and an employee climbed onto a table Sunday to avoid a fast-moving tire that bounced across at least two streets before slamming through the window of an Orange County restaurant.

A security camera inside Santa Ana's Tacos Sinaloa captured video of the tire, which can be seen through the front window on a collision course with the crowded restaurant. Employee Sayar Zarco was getting sodas for customers when she heard the sound of shattering glass.

"We all just heard a big crash," said Zarco. "There was just a wheel sitting there. No car, nothing. Just a ghost wheel."

Security camera video from outside the restaurant does not provide any answers regarding the source of the mystery tire, but police later determined it came from a vehicle involved in a nearby crash. At least two cameras outside the restaurant captured the tire as it bounded across a street, struck a hydrant and crossed another street before slamming into Tacos Sinaloa.

No injuries were reported.



Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[More Spanish Speakers in U.S. Than Spain]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 16:17:00 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/immigration-GettyImages-75710241.jpg

The U.S. boasts the second largest Spanish-speaking population in the world after Mexico, according to a recent study by Instituto Cervantes. That's more Spanish speakers than there are in the whole of Spain.

The report claims there are 41 million native speakers and 11 million bilingual Spanish speakers -- largely comprised of the children of Spanish-speaking immigrants -- now living in America.

Among the states with the highest concentrations of Spanish speakers are New Mexico (47 percent), California (38 percent), and Arizona (30 percent). In New York, 18 percent of the population speaks Spanish. An estimated 559 million people speak Spanish worldwide, according to the study.

The report cited the U.S. Census, which estimates there will be 138 million Spanish speakers by 2050, which would make the U.S. the largest Spanish-speaking nation in the world.

The Instituto Cervantes was founded in 1991 to promote the Spanish Language worldwide and estimates there are 21 million people currently learning Spanish, 7.8 million of whom live in the U.S. The Hispanic population in the U.S. is 53 million.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Vatican Releases Pope Francis' U.S. Itinerary]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 19:24:51 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Pope+Francis+New.jpg

The Vatican has released Pope Francis' official schedule for his trip to the United States in September. 

The pope will arrive at Joint Base Andrews on September 22. The next day, he will meet with President Barack Obama at the White House and celebrate Mass outside of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The Mass outside the Basillica will be in Spanish and will be a ticketed event. 

The pope will leave for New York City on Sept. 24 and address the United Nations general assembly on the morning of Sept. 25. The pope will then hold a multi-religious service at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

Pope Francis then plans to head to Philadelphia on Sept. 26 to take part in the World Meeting of Families, a gathering of Catholics held every three years.

See his full itinerary below:

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22 (WASHINGTON, DC)

  • 4 p.m. Arrival from Cuba at Joint Base Andrews

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23 (WASHINGTON, DC)

  • 9:15 a.m. Meeting with President Obama at the White House
  • 11:30 a.m. Midday Prayer with the bishops of the United States, St. Matthew's Cathedral
  • 4:15 p.m. Mass of Canonization of Junipero Serra, Basilicia of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 24 (WASHINGTON, DC, NEW YORK CITY)

  • 9:20 a.m. Address to Joint Session of the United States Congress
  • 11:15 a.m. Visit to St. Patrick in the City and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington
  • 4 p.m. Depart from Joint Base Andrews
  • 5 p.m. Arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport
  • 6:45 p.m. Evening Prayer (Vespers) at St. Patrick's Cathedral

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25 (NEW YORK CITY)

  • 8:30 a.m. Visit to the United Nations and Address to the United Nations General Assembly
  • 11:30 a.m. Multi-religious service at 9/11 Memorial and Museum, World Trade Center
  • 4 p.m. Visit to Our Lady Queen of Angels School, East Harlem
  • 6 p.m. Mass at Madison Square Garden

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 26 (NEW YORK CITY, PHILADELPHIA)

  • 8:40 a.m. Departure from John F. Kennedy International Airport
  • 9:30 a.m. Arrival at Atlantic Aviation, Philadelphia
  • 10:30 a.m. Mass at Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, Philadelphia
  • 4:45 p.m. Visit to Independence Mall
  • 7:30 p.m. Visit to the Festival of Families Benjamin Franklin Parkway

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 27 (PHILADELPHIA)

  • 9:15 a.m. Meeting with bishops at St. Martin's Chapel, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary
  • 11 a.m. Visit to Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility
  • 4 p.m. Mass for the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families, Benjamin Franklin Parkway
  • 7 p.m. Visit with organizers, volunteers and benefactors of the World Meeting of Families, Atlantic Aviation
  • 8 p.m. Departure for Rome.

]]>
<![CDATA[Misty Copeland Named 1st Black Female Principal at ABT]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 15:34:40 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/misty-GettyImages-456402098.jpg

Misty Copeland, the Missouri-born dancer who has become a forceful voice for diversity in ballet, was named a principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre on Tuesday — the first African-American ballerina to achieve that status in the company's 75-year history.

The company announced the promotion six days after Copeland made her New York debut in the role of Odette/Odile in "Swan Lake," one of the most important roles in a ballerina's repertoire. The emotional performance ended with Copeland being greeted onstage by trailblazing black ballerinas of earlier generations.

Copeland, 32, has become a celebrity in the past several years, making the cover of Time magazine as one of the most influential figures of 2015, and writing a best-selling memoir, "Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina," in which she recounted the challenges she faced on the road to her hard-won perch in ballet — and which has been optioned for a movie. She also was the subject of a documentary at this year's Tribeca Film Festival.

Copeland also was featured in a popular ad for Under Armour sportswear that shows her leaping and spinning in a studio, while a narrator recounts some of the negative feedback she received as a youngster, when she was told she had the wrong body for ballet and had started too late — at 13.

The dancer also has appeared as a guest host on the Fox show "So You Think You Can Dance" and was a presenter at this year's Tony awards.

Copeland is the first black ballerina to be named principal at ABT, and the second black dancer overall. Desmond Richardson, a black male dancer, was a principal with the company in 1977-1978, and returned as a guest artist later.

Also named a principal dancer on Tuesday was longtime soloist Stella Abrera.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Attacking Humans Not Part of Sharks' Migration Habits: Study]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 12:08:54 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/shark+study.jpg

The sight of tiger sharks off the coast of South Florida can cause panic, but discoveries in a five-year research study into migration patterns show they travel 5,000 miles in sophisticated, predictable patterns every year and have highly evolved traits which are not designed for attacking humans.

"Sharks are there doing their own business, they're keeping the oceans healthy, they're not there to eat people," says Nova Southeastern University Professor Mahmood Shivji.

The researchers at Nova Southeastern University Guy Harvey Research Institute have been catching and tagging tiger sharks with satellite transmitters since 2010, and now they've just published their discoveries.

"We have tiger sharks that travel over 5,000 miles, making round trip loops, every year, going back to the same place in the winter, spending winters there in the Bahamas or the eastern Caribbean and spending the summers way out there in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean," said Shivji, senior researcher on the project.

The sharks build up an incredible amount of mileage, swimming from north of Bermuda near the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, south to the Bahamas, Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos, and other nearby islands. No one knows how they navigate back to the same places in such a predictable pattern.

"We think they're using the earth's magnetic field as a means of orientation, there are no road signs out there, they don't have a GPS, how does that work?" said Shivji, laughing in amazement at the tiger shark's abilities.

The NSU scientists are also studying mako sharks, and finding they have similar migration patterns. All sharks, Shivji says, are crucial elements to a healthy ocean.

"They're very important to the marine ecosystem, they play the same role as wolves in Yellowstone or lions on the Serengeti in Africa," Shivji explained.

The satellite transmitters are electrical engineering marvels, but they usually don't last more than a year or two at the most. Also, they have to be above water and the satellite has to be in the correct position at the moment the shark's dorsal fin comes up in order for data to be transmitted. That's why getting three year's worth of data to track sharks is such a treasure trove of information. Turns out tiger sharks have a lot in common with tourists.

"It's a pattern, it's like snowbirds leaving New York and coming down to Florida every year for the winter, then going back to New York the next season, it's just like that," said Dr. Shivji.

There's also an immediate, practical application to the migration information, because now the sharks can be protected from overfishing.

"We know where they are, we know when they go, sharks have been overfished badly all over the place, we can now implement protection and management measures where they spend a lot of time," explains Dr. Shivji.

A handful of shark attacks on humans gets tons of attention every year, but with the world's shark population being decimated by commercial fishing, it's sharks who need protection from humans. The research being done at NSU may help sharks survive.



Photo Credit: NBC6.com]]>
<![CDATA[Texas Grandmother Survives 2 Days in Ravine Following Crash]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 08:54:01 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/211*120/Wanda+Mobley.jpg

A missing Texas grandmother survived for two days on oily water wrung out of a T-shirt and three Sprites before she was found lying next to her car in a ravine, her family said.

Wanda Mobley, 75, from Brownwood, Texas left for a road trip to McAlister early Friday morning, according to her granddaughter Amanda Russ of Azle. When she didn’t make it and her family couldn’t reach her, they set out searching.

“It was surreal because we didn’t ever expect this to happen to us,” Russ said. "A missing person in your family...it’s just not something you expect.”

Russ says they filed a missing persons report, posted across social media and drove through some of the areas she may have crossed without any luck.

Late Saturday, the sheriff’s office delivered the news Mobley’s cell phone was last pinged near Seymour, Texas, according to Russ.

Russ says a family member who was on the way to Seymour to post fliers noticed a road sign down along U.S. Highway 183 late Saturday night. Early Sunday morning, family was drawn back to the area and discovered her next to her vehicle.

“They couldn’t see her car from the road, but they just saw this one tiny sign down,” Russ said. “It was a miracle, really.”

The stretch of U.S. Highway 183 where Mobley ran off of the road is very rural.

The nearest house is approximately two miles from the crash site, according to Baylor County Sheriff Bob Elliott, and the car was found about 150 yards away from the road.

"She could have been there for a long time and nobody would ever see her," Elliott said. "About the only thing you can say is she's a very lucky lady."

"She's lucky to have some grandkids that were very interested in finding their grandmother," Elliott added.

Mobley’s family later learned how she survived from Friday to Sunday morning lying near her car injured.

“She busted out the windshield and crawled out,” Russ said. “She didn’t have any food or water with her – there was some Sprite she had in the backseat because she was going on a trip, and it had flown up to the front seat, she was able to reach in and grab those out of the car.”

Russ says she also used a T-shirt to soak up some oily water coming from the car to drink.

“She just kinda laid her head on a rock and my sister was telling me she just kinda sopped up the water that had run out of the car and survived on the water and three Sprites – for 48 hours, that’s all she had,” according to Russ.

She was airlifted to the hospital, where doctors learned she had a compression fracture to her lower back and some other cuts and bruises. Russ says she is recovering, but may have to have surgery.

“I said 'we were looking for you all day,' and she said 'I knew you were looking for me,'” Russ said. "She goes, 'you just have to have to have faith in God that He’s going to look out for you' and I think that is part of what kept her going – she knew everybody was looking for her and we were out searching.”

NBC 5's Ben Russell contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Submitted Photo]]>
<![CDATA[Woman With Amnesia Relies on Faith, Social Media ]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 17:56:24 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/amnesia2.jpg

A woman with a thick Australian accent rescued from the streets of Carlsbad, California, and battling cancer has caught the attention of police and FBI agents after doctors confirmed she suffers from a rare case of amnesia.

With the help of social media and a small group of supporters, the woman, known only as Sam, is on a search to find her identity — and possibly a person she may have been in love with.

“I just feel like there’s a thick fog over my mind, my memory, over my brain that I can’t see through,” Sam said. “I can’t remember anything. How I got here? I didn’t have anything on me, no jewelry, no purse, nothing.”

According to Carlsbad police, the case began February 1 when emergency responders found the woman barely conscious near the corner of Tamarack Avenue and Adams Street in the small beach resort community north of San Diego. The woman couldn’t tell emergency responders her name or any personal details. Doctors think the woman's amnesia was brought on by the antibodies of a malignant tumor. Sam has Stage 3 ovarian cancer.

Without a name, social security number, or a bank account, her battle with cancer has been further complicated. Doctors guess she is roughly 50 years old. Despite her situation, she relies on her faith.

“I didn’t feel alone. It felt like someone was holding me and I realized that it was God,” said Sam, who chose her name based on the biblical book of Samuel.

For several months she has had vivid and recurring dreams. Doctors believe such dreams may offer amnesia patients valuable information to help retrace memories.

“I started dreaming of Australia. That was my first recollection of anything. I was in a lap pool. I’d have these incessant dreams. I’ve probably had six or seven dreams initially of lap swimming," she said.

Sam uses words like “bloke” for man and “loo” for bathroom, said she feels a connection with the Australian city of Perth. She also remembers swimming, sailing, and scuba diving. She has said she recalls Hawaii, and describes the feeling of having been there “many, many times.”

She can’t, however, remember the names of any people in her life, but has dreams of a man she thinks she was in love with.

“I wonder about his name. I can’t ever get the name in my dream cause I really want to know, but I know there was someone," Sam said.

The FBI has taken her finger prints and used facial recognition software in an effort to locate her family. A page has also been created for her on the international police information sharing website Interpol. Her case has also gained traction on social media. A Facebook page created by hospital friends has helped gain the attention of the Australian Consulate.

Australian news outlets have picked up the story and tips from down under have begun to pour in.

“I’m hoping that someone sees me, or this (referring to the NBC story), or something on the Internet and my family immediately says ‘there she is!, there she is!’”.



Photo Credit: Facebook photo]]>
<![CDATA[Death Penalty Foes Expect More Botched Executions]]> Mon, 29 Jun 2015 16:53:29 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP379951551329.JPG

The continued use of the controversial sedative midazolam to put prisoners to death, upheld on Monday by the U.S. Supreme Court, will mean more challenges and more botched executions, predicted an official with the American Civil Liberties Union.

The case against midazolam was brought by three other death-row inmates in Oklahoma after several prolonged executions sparked renewed controversy about lethal injections.

"Midazolam doesn't work," said Cassandra Stubbs, the director of the ACLU Capital Punishment Project, which works to repeal the death penalty. "They were not unconscious."

In the 5-4 decision, the court ruled that the drug, midazolam, could be used in executions without violating the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual suffering.

Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito said prisoners objecting to the drug's use failed to identify an alternative method that had less risk of pain.

"I think the sweeping holding here that a defendant could be tortured and that would be okay unless they are able to come up with an alternative method, I think that is a mistake," Stubbs said. "I don’t think the Constitution stands for that."

The majority also said that a lower court had not made a mistake when it found that the prisoners "failed to establish that Oklahoma's use of a massive dose of midazolam in its execution protocol entails a substantial risk of severe pain."

Oklahoma's attorney general, Scott Pruitt, said Oklahoma would now set execution dates for the three inmates, Richard Glossip, Benjamin Cole and John Grant.

"State officials act deliberately and thoughtfully in carrying out this responsibility," he said in a statement. "This marks the eighth time a court has reviewed and upheld as constitutional the lethal injection protocol used by Oklahoma."

Challengers argued because midazolam was not a barbituate, it failed to cause a coma-like state, leaving open the possibility that the other drugs injected afterward would cause an excruciating death. They had questioned Oklahoma's key expert witness who defended the use of the drug but seemed to rely on the website, www.drugs.com.

Sister Sister Helen Prejean tweeted: "The Supreme Court's decision in Glossip v. Gross allows for continued experimentation on death row inmates. The drug doesn't work."

In a dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote, "Under the court's new rule, it would not matter whether the state intended to use midazolam, or instead to have petitioners drawn and quartered, slowly tortured to death, or actually burned at the stake."

The hearing in the case took place a year after a botched execution in Oklahoma captured attention. The prisoner, Clayton D. Lockett, regained consciousness and as he writhed and moaned prison, officials tried to stop the execution. He died after 43 minutes. State officials later said the intravenous line was inserted improperly.

Two other executions, of Joseph Wood in Ohio and Dennis McGuire in Arizona, took longer than expected and the inmates were heard gasping.

"I think a lot of the questions about lethal injection will remain because I think states have an interest in not engaging in torture under their own state constitutions," Stubbs said. "And I fully expect that defendants will continue to challenge unconstitutional methods or methods that are torturous."

Stubbs said she hoped that states would stop using midazolam. If they do not, the country will see more botched executions, she said.

"There's no reason to have any confidence in midazolam working," she said. "And nothing the Supreme Court today says changes that."

The case was the first the Supreme Court has considered on lethal injections since 2008. At that time, it found that a three-drug combination in which the barbituate sodium thiopental was the first to be injected was constitutional.

States have had trouble obtaining some of the drugs because manufacturers have refused to sell them for use in executions.

Most states used a three-drug combination until 2009, but after shortages developed they turned to a variety of methods, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Eight states, among them Texas, use a single dose of an anesthetic. Fourteen states have used pentobarbital and another five plan to use it; nine states have used or plan to use compounding pharmacies as an alternative to manufacturers.

A number of other states have looked at other ways to execute inmates — nitrogen gas asphyxiation in Oklahoma, the electric chair in Tennessee and a firing squad in Utah.

As for midazolam, Oklahoma, Florida, Ohio and Arizona have used it in three- or two-drug combinations, the Death Penalty Information Center says. Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Virginia allow for midazolam, but have not used it.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Apple Releases New Music Streaming Service]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 09:38:14 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-476371856.jpg

Apple's new music streaming service is finally here: Apple Music.

In an attempt to compete with Spotify, Tidal, Rhapsody, Rdio and other streaming-music services, Apple Music combines downloaded music, streaming tunes, radio and some social elements.

“Apple Music is really going to move the needle for fans and artists,” said record producer and Beats by Dre co-founder, Jimmy Iovine in the company's press release. “Online music has become a complicated mess of apps, services and websites. Apple Music brings the best features together for an experience every music lover will appreciate.”

The new services takes songs from the users' own library in addition to a catalog of 30 millions songs available to stream. The 24-hour radio station, Beats 1, is Apple's first live radio station "dedicated entirely to music and music culture," according to the press release. Apple Music Connect will allow artists to share lyrics, backstage photos, videos and song releases directly to fans' iPhones. 

Starting June 30, users are able to use the service for three months before being charged $9.99 per month—a comparable price to other monthly streaming-music applications. For $14.99 per month, up to six family members can use one membership as part of Apple's family plan. 

“We love music, and the new Apple Music service puts an incredible experience at every fan’s fingertips,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “All the ways people love enjoying music come together in one app — a revolutionary streaming service, live worldwide radio and an exciting way for fans to connect with artists.”

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<![CDATA[WATCH: Thieves Attack Man on Dirt Bike on Crowded NYC Street]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 11:29:13 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/dirt+bike+robbery.jpg

Video shows two brazen would-be thieves attack a man riding a dirt bike as he was stopped at a red light in the middle of traffic in the Bronx.

The 24-year-old man was stopped at the corner of Valentine Avenue and East 184th Street in Fordham Heights on June 5 when the two men attacked him, police said.

Surveillance video shows the man stop at the intersection before one of the men lunges toward him and grabs him, trying to pry him off the bike.

A second suspect jumps in and punches the victim in the face, causing him to fall on the street as cars try to maneuver around him. 

The victim attempts to fend off the suspects, but they continue to punch him before one of them takes off with the bike.

Police were able to catch up with the suspect who tried to ride away on the bike. The second suspect fled northbound on Valentine Avenue and remains on the run.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.

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<![CDATA[Man Shot in Dispute Over Dog Poop Dies]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 12:42:58 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/jose+rey+dog+poop+shooting+kendall.jpg

A South Florida man who was shot during a dispute over dog poop during Father's Day weekend has died.

Jose Rey succumbed to his injuries just more than a week after he was shot while taking his dog for a walk Father's Day weekend, Miami-Dade Police Department officials confirmed to NBC 6 Tuesday. 

According to police, Rey was walking his dog home on the evening of June 20th in his Kendall neighborhood when one of his neighbors, 66-year-old Omar Rodriguez, said Rey's dog was attempting to defecate in Rodriguez's son's yard. Neighbors told police that the two men began arguing loudly and Rodriguez told police that Rey threatened to return and fight him.

The dispute continued as Rey stopped to talk outside of a neighbor's house. Rodriguez told police that after he spotted what appeared to be a shiny object in Rey's hand, he went to his car and retrieved a gun from his glove compartment.

He then pointed the gun at Rey, and fired when the man appeared to move closer, according to police.

A neighbor told police that Rodriguez shot Rey two times. According to the Miami-Dade Police Department's arrest report, Rodriguez also threatened to shoot Rey's wife when she ran over to help her husband.

Rey, a father of two, underwent two surgeries and was in critical condition at Kendall Regional Hospital. Family members and friends said he suffered severe abdominal and spinal injuries.

Rey spent Father's Day and the following week in the hospital, but died late Monday.

Neighbors told NBC 6 this was not the first time Rodriguez threatened residents in the area.

Several neighbors told NBC 6 they've filed restraining orders to keep Rodriguez away because he doesn't even live in the neighborhood where the shooting took place. The incident happened at his son's home. However, it's the same story in Rodriguez's own neighborhood a couple of miles away.

"He did not like anyone walking on his sidewalk," one neighbor said. "He considered it his. And if you walked by, you were able to become a victim of his aggressiveness."

NBC 6 contacted Rodriguez's wife, who declined to comment. Rodriguez has also hired an attorney.

Rodriguez was initially charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Police say new charges are pending in the wake of Rey's death.

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<![CDATA[What's Going on in Greece? And How It Affects You]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 08:59:55 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/NC_lv50tweb_1500x845.jpg Monday's stock slide has investors nervously awaiting Tuesday's opening bell amid the Greek Crisis and an emerging crisis in Puerto Rico.]]> <![CDATA[Robber Stomps Man's Face]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 06:51:07 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/violent+elevator+robbery+bx.jpg

Two men were caught on surveillance video brutally beating and robbing a man on an elevator in a public housing complex in the Bronx.

The 42-year-old man was in an elevator in the Morrisania Houses at about 8 p.m. on June 22 when the two men attacked him, police said.

Surveillance video shows the men confront the victim inside the elevator, then pull him to the ground as he tries to walk out. The victims lies half inside the elevator as the men pummel him and rummage through his pockets. At one point, one of the suspects stomps on the victim’s head several times.

The men got away with $70 in cash and a cell phone, police said. The victim was taken to a nearby hospital where he was treated for swelling to his face and jaw, and an eye injury.

Police say one of the suspects walks with a cane. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.

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<![CDATA[Ex-Trooper Gets 2 Years for Sex Assault of 81-Year-Old Woman]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 08:11:12 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/jeffrey+laporto.jpg

A former Connecticut state trooper convicted of sexually assaulting an 81-year-old woman will serve two years in prison, according to the court clerk's office.

Jeffrey LaPorto was arrested last year after the woman’s son reported the incident to police. The victim said she and LaPorto met at a hotel bar in Windsor Locks and drank for hours before going up to her hotel room in June 2014, according to police.

LaPorto pleaded no contest to one count of first-degree sexual assault and was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison suspended after he serves two. He will then serve 10 years of probation, the court clerk said.

LaPorto served as a Connecticut State Police trooper for several years prior to his suspension in 2008 and termination in 2010, according to internal documents obtained by NBC Connecticut. He was also the subject of four internal affairs investigations.



Photo Credit: Windsor Locks Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Preteen Saved From Alleged Predator]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 06:40:59 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/200*120/06-30-2015-father-hero-tim-leblanc-riverside.JPG

A Southern California father says he is incredibly lucky he woke up when he did, and was able to save his preteen daughter from a man he says is a predator she met on social media.

Tim LeBlanc woke up around 2 a.m. and realized his 12-year-old daughter was not in the house, so he got into his truck and started looking for her around the neighborhood.

He found his daughter with an adult man down the street.

"As soon as my daughter saw my truck she must have said something, because as soon as I saw them, she, like, came away and started backing away and he started trying to go the other direction," LeBlanc says. "I came around the corner, got out, apprehended him."

LeBlanc said the two met on the app called Kik, a messaging service. He said his daughter thought the person she was going to meet was a 16-year-old boy.

The two had exchanged messages via the phone app, using a neighbor’s open Wi-Fi to connect her cellphone. LeBlanc said the man sent his daughter naked photos of himself, among other messages.

The man was taken into custody by Riverside County sheriff’s deputies. He was identified as Scott Stilwell, 27, of San Diego.

He reportedly also lured the girl with gifts including a jacket, necklace and hat.

LeBlanc acknowledges that his daughter intentionally left the house to meet up with Stilwell, something experts say is happening more and more often.

"This is common scenario taking place today on Internet," says Opal Singleton, president of Million Kids, a nonprofit dedicated to educating parents about the dangers of online predators.

"Sit with your child, look at each app, Google the app," Singleton advises.

LeBlanc still doesn't know what to make of this.

"You know, I don’t know if it’s sex trafficking or just the mind of a really sick individual," he says.

According to online records, Stilwell is facing two felony charges for providing harmful matter to a minor and meeting a minor with the intention of committing a lewd or lascivious act.

He remains behind bars Monday night in lieu of $25,000 bail.

Stilwell's family told NBC San Diego that they are "blown away" by the accusations and say their son has mental issues.



Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Officers Dancing at Pride Parade]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 16:24:43 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/cop+dancing+pride+parade.jpg

A pair of videos showing NYPD officers dancing with parade-goers at Gay Pride Parade over the weekend is gaining attention online not only for the cops' smooth moves but their cheery interactions with the people around them.  

In one video posted on Facebook by Bill D'Ottavio, an officer expertly steps, turns and slides to the popular hip-hop line dance song "Cupid Shuffle" alongside several paradegoers. One bystander rushes to join in the dance, and the grinning officer plucks the rainbow flag from her bag and holds it as he continues to dance. He then hugs some of the dancers and departs. 

While not taken on the Pride Parade route -- Facebook commenters pointed out it appears to have been taken at the Eighth Avenue Summer Festival -- the video shows parade attendees streaming through and the video caption was tagged "#pride" and "#prideparade." 

Another cellphone video posted on YouTube by user Paige Ponzeka showed a member of the LGBT Big Apple Softball League approaching an officer in uniform and dancing as Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" blasts over the speakers. The officer, laughing, breaks out into dance as onlookers scream and cheer. 

Viewers delighted over the video, leaving comments like: "Good on the cop for not being all uptight, but instead joining in the celebration and the acceptance of another human being" and "I think that's awesome! Regardless of sexual preference, skin color and all that, we all bleed the same!! 'Bout time, bet ya that's a good cop too!!!! Have fun, dance, laugh, love, live. Life's too short."

More than 20,000 people marched in the parade, which stretched two miles from midtown to Greenwich Village. It was an especially jubilant celebration following the Supreme Court ruling Friday that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States. 

Also last week, the mayor and police commissioner outlined a new community policing strategy.

"We're talking about officers who now come in and become part of the community, who really become partners with the community," de Blasio told NBC 4 New York in an exclusive interview. "Everyone's going to get to know each other. The officer is going to be the same officer in the same community on the same schedule."



Photo Credit: Via Billy D'Ottavio Facebook Video
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<![CDATA[6 Arrested After Heckling Osteen]]> Mon, 29 Jun 2015 18:55:36 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/osteen-thumb-GettyImages-456343062.jpg

Six people have been arrested after heckling Joel Osteen during his sermon at a Texas church, Houston Police said.

Each of them were escorted out of Lakewood Church Sunday morning after yelling, according to NBC affiliate KPRC in Houston.

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Church members said the protesters were quoting Scripture.

Anwar Richardson said his family and several other people left the service early because of the disturbance. He also posted video of the incident on Twitter.

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KPRC said Jacob Gardner, 26, Kevin Fessler, 27, Mark DeRouville, 25, Matthew Martinez, 27, Randall Valdez, 28 and Richard Trudeau, 32, are all charged with trespassing.

Houston Police said all people arrested were from the same church, which was identified as The Church of Wells in a statement released by Lakewood Church on Monday.

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Lakewood Church said in the statement that it "plans to pursue criminal charges, as well as all other legal remedies, against these individuals and the Church of Wells."

It was not known if any of the people arrested had retained attorneys. An inquiry to the Church of Wells was not immediately returned. 

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Photo Credit: File/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[NBC Cuts Ties With Trump Over Immigration Remarks]]> Mon, 29 Jun 2015 16:23:00 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Trump-Presidential-Announcement.jpg

NBC is ending its business relationship with Donald Trump following the presidential hopeful’s comments about immigrants during the announcement of his campaign.

"At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values. Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump," NBC said in a statement.

NBC said it would no longer air the annual "Miss USA" and "Miss Universe" pageants, which had been a joint venture with Trump.

Trump has already indicated he will not be taking part in the television show "The Apprentice."

"'Celebrity Apprentice' is licensed from Mark Burnett's United Artists Media Group and that relationship will continue," NBC said in the statement.

Trump responded to NBC's decision after attending an event in Chicago Monday, saying, "I've had a great relationship with them." He added that NBC didn't want him to run for president because "they wanted me to do 'The Apprentice.'"

"And now with my statements on immigration, which happen to be correct, they are going to take a different stance and that's OK," Trump continued. "Whatever they want to do is OK with me."

"I think as far as ending the relationship, I have to do that because my view on immigration is much different than the people at NBC," he said. 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Bus Driver Texting While Driving]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 02:31:24 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/Texting+Bus+Driver.jpg

A bus driver found himself out of a job after video surfaced of him apparently using a smartphone while driving a busload of passengers along the New Jersey Turnpike.

Passengers boarded the bus at Focus Travel along N 11th Street in Philadelphia’s Chinatown neighborhood Saturday morning and headed toward New York. As the bus barreled along the turnpike at speeds exceeding 65 mph, the driver can be seen looking up and down from his device – using two hands on the phone at times – as it sits in the center of his steering wheel.

Delvan Bradford, 25, said he captured the video as the bus drove in the area of New Brunswick.

"We could've been either injured or killed," Bradford said.

Luckily, the passengers arrived safely in New York.

Texting while driving is illegal in New Jersey. Bradford claimed that the driver took out the phone shortly after bus crossed the Ben Franklin Bridge into New Jersey.

Though Focus Travel sold tickets for the bus, it was operated by Yep Tours, said Yep owner Jeremy Walker.

"We have a zero-tolerance policy for cellphones -- zero tolerance," said Walker, who viewed the video and confirmed that it appeared to be authentic.

Walker called the apparent texting unacceptable and he fired the driver.

Walker said the company has cameras on some of its buses -- though it wasn't clear if one was on the bus in question -- and he said they planned on installing more cameras to hopefully discourage incidents like this one.

Yep Tours has had 25 unsafe driving  violations in the past two years -- including one accident -- putting it in the bottom 2 percent of carriers. Walker argued the violations need to be considered in context of trip volume.

"We do about 36,000 trips in the past two years -- so 20 violations on a matter of 36,000 trips in two years -- it's a small number."



Photo Credit: Delvan Bradford]]>
<![CDATA[Cops Throwing Ball With Kids]]> Mon, 29 Jun 2015 21:53:46 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/cops+playing+north+lawndale.jpg

A cellphone video that captured Chicago police officers playing football with children on the street on the South Side has gone viral.

The video was shot near Independence and Grenshaw in the North Lawndale neighborhood and was shared by TattooTim Freeman on Facebook on Sunday. In one day, more than 4,500 people have shared the heartwarming video.

In the video, two Chicago officers are shown throwing a football with some children on the street. Another child sits inside a police car and plays with the megaphone, saying, "We having fun out here, keep recording us, we having fun, we having fun with the police."

Freeman, who identified himself as a minister, told the police officers that he doesn't believe cops are bad, despite what other people may say. He later challenged people on Facebook to share the video as proof.

"The thing is it's hard because you're either out on patrol and then constantly running on the calls or now (holding) the blocks. But you don't just have to sit in cars. It's fun to talk to people," one officer told Freeman.

Freeman noted that he did not usually witness scenes like this in the neighborhood, but he thanked the officers for playing with the children.

"I witness police officers in our neighborhood playing with our children on grenshaw and Indepedence," Freeman said in the Facebook post. "Everytime I look on Facebook there are negative posts of police officers killing our kids or our kids killing one another. Today is a new day. police officers are taking time out of their daily plans to spend time with our children. Something I've never seen our brothers do in the hood." 



Photo Credit: TattooTim Freeman/Facebook
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<![CDATA[Man Made Bomb Threats: Officials]]> Mon, 29 Jun 2015 20:34:34 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/457062032.jpg

A 64-year-old Manhattan man has been arrested, accused of calling in nearly a dozen bomb threats targeting Kennedy Airport travelers and police officers over the course of 16 days in June, authorities say. 

The Morningside Heights man made 11 calls to 911 from June 9 through June 24 to say he was planting chemical bombs and explosives containing nails at JFK. 

In one call placed just after 7 a.m. on June 18, the suspect allegedly told 911 he had three chemical bombs in a BMW and would drive to JFK, saying: "I am going to kill a lot of people at the airport today. It's a pleasure to kill."

He called again at about 8 a.m. to allegedly say: "Muslims are on their way to place a bomb at JFK today." 

Then on June 21, the suspect call 911 and said it was his mission to kill police officers, prosecutors said.

On June 24, he allegedly told 911: "I have a naked police officer in the basement. I am going to kill a lot of officers tonight. I have three bombs I want to place at JFK Airport." 

The suspect was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on Saturday on 11 counts of first-degree falsely reporting an incident and making a terroristic threat. He's being held on $750,000 bail and is expected to return to court July 10. 

Port Authority Chief Security Officer Thomas Belfiore said "extensive police resources" were spent investigating the phony threats. 

If convicted, the man faces up t0 7 years in prison. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Arrested Dad: I Paid My Train Fare]]> Mon, 29 Jun 2015 17:32:23 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Ellis+Smith+SEPTA+Arrest.jpg

The Philadelphia father who was grabbed from the neck by a SEPTA police officer and arrested for allegedly skipping out on a El fare as he clutched his toddler says he paid for the train ride.

Ellis Smith tells NBC10 in an exclusive interview, alongside his attorney, on Monday he paid the $2.25 to take SEPTA's Market-Frankford line toward Center City Philadelphia last Thursday.

But, the 20-year-old vocational student says the ticket booth agent at the Margaret-Orthodox Station objected to him carrying his 18-month-old daughter, Suehaiah, on his shoulders. Smith then slipped through the turnstile, onto the platform and boarded the train.

A few stops later, a SEPTA Police officer confronted Smith about evading a fare and, after several minutes of arguing, tried to physically remove him from the train. Surveillance video showed the officer, a 16-year veteran who hasn't been identified, grabbing the dad by the neck and pushing him into the train's wall with the girl in his arms.

"Obviously that's not how they're trained," Smith's attorney, Patrick Link said. "It's not what should have happened. For some reason, it did."

The train was then stopped, Smith handcuffed and arrested on a platform. The arrest was also caught on video and posted to Facebook where it went viral. SEPTA Police launched an internal affairs investigation and police chief Thomas Nestel accepted blame for the incident.

Smith said his daughter was knocked around in the scuffle. She was taken to the hospital and didn't suffer any physical injuries, but the dad's concerned she may have emotional trauma.

SEPTA is reviewing fare evasion enforcement. Surveillance cameras didn't caputre the alledged act. Smith remains charged with fare evasion, reisting arrest and disorderly conduct.



Photo Credit: NBC10]]>