<![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 Mon, 03 Aug 2015 13:19:19 -0400 Mon, 03 Aug 2015 13:19:19 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Central Fla. Woman Killed 6-Year-Old Daughter, Dad: Police]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 12:31:18 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Cheyanne-Jessie-thumb.jpg

A central Florida woman is set to appear in court Monday after authorities say she shot and stabbed her father and 6-year-old daughter and left their bodies in plastic bins in her landlord's shed.

According to a report from NBC affiliate WFLA, 25-year-old Cheyanne Jessie, of Lakeland, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of tampering with evidence in death of her father, 50-year-old Mark Weekly, and her 6-year-old daughter, Meredith Jessie.

Weekly and the girl were last seen on July 18th at his Lakeland home. According to reports, Meredith was left in her grandfather's care. The two were reported missing Saturday by a family member.

In a press conference Sunday, Polk Sheriff Grady Judd said Jessie killed her daughter over concerns that the child would interfere with her relationship with her boyfriend.

Authorities have not determined the motive behind the killing of her father.

Neighbors told WFLA that Jessie would often complain about her daughter's behavior, but said that the child did not have issue while in the care of her grandfather.

Deputies say that after Jessie murdered her father and daughter, she watched an episode of the television show "Criminal Minds" which gave her the idea to get rid of the bodies by stuffing them in plastic bins. Jessie then moved the bodies to her landlord's shed in the yard.

The decomposing bodies were discovered Sunday.

Jessie remains at the Polk County Jail. It is not known if she has hired an attorney.

Photo Credit: Polk County Sheriff's Office]]>
<![CDATA[Most Latinos Have Negative View of Trump: Poll]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 08:17:00 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/TLMD-donald-trump-nbc-vod.jpg

Three in four Latinos have a negative view of Donald Trump and more than half judged his comments about Mexican immigrants as racist, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo poll.

Seventy-five percent of 250 Latinos polled viewed the GOP presidential candidate negatively, with 61 percent describing their views as "very negative." Just 13 percent had a positive view.

Trump has said that Latinos "love" him despite his comments that Mexico was sending rapists and criminals to the U.S.

Trump leads the field of Republican presidential candidates, with 19 percent support, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

The poll of Latinos' views was conducted from July 26 to 30 and has a margin of error of 6.2 percent.

Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Barnacles Could Provide Clues to Where Jet Crashed]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 09:32:20 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-482270318.jpg

The 16-month mystery of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 may soon be solved, and barnacles encrusted on a piece of plane debris that washed up on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion may provide the missing piece of the puzzle.

Malaysia said on Sunday that the piece of debris, a wing surface known as flaperon, had been identified as being from a Boeing 777, the same model as the missing Malaysian plane.

Investigators in France are expected to determine whether the piece came from MH370 or not by Wednesday. MH370 is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean, about 2,300 miles away from Reunion.

"Barnacle shells... can tell us valuable information about the water conditions under which they were formed," said Ryan Pearson, a PhD student at Australia's Griffith University who is studying the shell chemistry of barnacles to determine migration patterns of endangered loggerhead turtles. 

<![CDATA[Defendant Killed Outside Mississippi Courthouse]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 12:21:15 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/crime-stock-police-scene-tape.jpg

A man fatally shot a defendant waiting in a small courtyard outside a criminal courthouse in Canton, Mississippi, Monday morning, NBC News reported.

The suspect was arrested after shooting the defendant in the chest, the Madison County sheriff said.

It was not clear what the motive for the shooting was, the sheriff and Madison County district attorney said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Massive CA Fire Swells to 60K Acres]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 11:17:51 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/thumb-06-GettyImages-482702928.jpg

The Rocky Fire racing across Northern California had burned 60,000 acres and was 12 percent contained by Monday morning, according to Cal Fire

The wildfire swelled over the weekend, blazing through 26,000 additional acres since Saturday night, according to Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant.  The fire broke out on July 29 and forced several evacuations and was threatening about 6,300 homes and structures.

The blaze, located southeast of Clearlake in Lake, Yolo and Colusa Counties, is one of 21 large fires – many sparked by lightning strikes – raging across California, and made much more challenging to fight because of the yearslong drought that has dried out the state.

According to Cal Fire, the Rocky Fire has gutted 24 homes and 26 outbuildings, and forced hundreds to evacuate the area.

Check here for evacuations and road closures.


Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[13-Year-Old Girls Badly Hurt After Tube Smashes Into Yacht]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 12:32:38 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/lisound.jpg

Two 13-year-old girls were hospitalized, one in critical condition, after the water tube they were being pulled on in the Long Island Sound Sunday smashed into the side of a 69-foot yacht, throwing them face down into the water, authorities say.

Police say the girls were on a two-person tube being pulled by a Nautica rubberized ribber tender, which is a smaller, inflatable motorized boat, off Jennings Beach in Connecticut's Fairfield County around 4:30 p.m.

Minutes into the ride, their tube struck the side of the yacht and they were flung, unconscious, according to police, into the water.

People aboard the yacht jumped into the water to rescue the two girls and brought them onto the bigger boat.

The girls were still unconscious when the Fairfield Police Marine Unit responded to the emergency call, authorities say.

The teenagers remained in the hospital Monday, where one was listed in critical condition. The other was listed in stable condition. The nature of the girls' injuries wasn't known. 

It's not clear who was driving the boat that was pulling them on the tube. The investigation is ongoing.

Last year, a 16-year-old high school student died and another suffered a serious leg injury after they fell while tubing on Long Island Sound and were hit by the boat towing them.

Police said that the driver of the boat was properly licensed with a boating safety certificate and described the scene as a "tragic accident." Alcohol did not appear to be a factor, according to police.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Missing Special Olympics Athlete Found 350 Miles North of Los Angeles]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 13:06:45 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/186*120/Missing+Athlete.JPG

A Special Olympics athlete from Albania was found hundreds of miles from where he was last seen near the University of Southern California campus.

Andi Gusmari, 44, was last seen Saturday night around 8:30 p.m. He was found at about 2:00 a.m. Monday when he walked into a Hayward police station.

The Alameda County community is about 350 miles north of Los Angeles. Details on how he traveled to Hayward as the 2015 World Games drew to a close were not immediately available.

"We don't know how he got there," said Jeff Carr, Chief Operating Officer of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games. "That's a question that everyone has."

"Our understanding is he was in good health. He was not injured, he was hungry."

Police tried to communicate with Gusmari through an Albanian interpretor, but were unable to gain much more information about the curcumstances behind his arrival at the police station, said Sgt. Ruben Pola of Hayward Police Department.

Gusmari told police he was happy to be at the station and had been looking for a police department before he made it to the Hayward police station.

Los Angeles police were working to reunite him with a Special Olympics delegation. Gusmari will return to Los Angeles before a flight back to Albania.

A Special Olympics spokesperson confirmed an official for the European group will travel to Northern California to escort Gusmari back to LAX. Gusmari would be taken directly back to Europe from LAX to get him home as soon as possible.

The man's family was notified early Monday that he was located, Carr said.

Authorities had asked for the public's help in locating the man. Gusmari does not speak English and has a speech impediment, but does respond to his name, LAPD Officer Jack Richter said.

Richter said Gusmari, who was in the bowling competition, was at a festival at USC with his delegation Saturday and got separated from his group when he went to the restroom. He wasn't identified as missing until coaches realized he was not back at bed check.

The Albanian team was scheduled to fly out of the U.S. at 4:15 p.m. Sunday.

NBC4's Kate Larsen contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Texas AG Booked, Indictments to be Unsealed ]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 13:18:10 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/paxton-mug-new.jpg

NBC 5 and NBCDFW.com will have full coverage of the indictments as they're unsealed Monday at noon.

The state's top lawyer, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, surrendered to law enforcement at the Collin County Jail Monday morning after being indicted last week on three felonies.

NBC 5's Scott Gordon was the first to report the indictments and that they would be unsealed at noon Monday.

Paxton surrendered to law enforcement and was booked into the Collin County Jail at about 10:30 a.m. Monday, NBC 5's Scott Gordon reported, and he left about an hour later.

The general's surrender came about an hour opponents called for his resignation at a rally outside the Collin County Courthouse and about 90 minutes before the indictments were unsealed.

"Under the circumstances, which include the fact that he is our top lawyer for the state, he needs to resign," said Carol Donovan of the Dallas County Democratic Party. "Though he is innocent until proven guilty, he's now trying to go forward to enforce the laws, and yet he's been accused and indicted, in fact, of not obeying the law."

Paxton faces three felony charges. One of the counts is for soliciting clients for investment deals without being registered as a broker. He admitted the violation and paid a $1,000 fine to the Texas Securities Board.

The other two charges accuse Paxton of steering investors to pour more than $600,000 into a McKinney company called Servergy, which claims to have invented a cutting-edge computer server.

"No question, we are troubled," said Republican state Representative Jason Villalba of Dallas.

Though Republicans admit the charges are troubling, they are reserving judgment.

"I think most Republicans like myself remain steadfastly supportive of General Paxton and we'll see how it plays out," said Villalba.

"I don't think he should step down," said Jonathan Neerman, former Dallas County Republican Party Chairman. "I think he's innocent until proven guilty. And I don't think this will affect the day to day workings of the Attorney General's office."

<![CDATA[1 Missing After Silo Collapses at Northern Virginia Quarry]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 12:49:29 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/2015-08-03_0756.jpg

A 19-year-old worker remains unaccounted for, hours after a silo collapsed at a Northern Virginia quarry Monday morning, spilling tons of debris.

Rescuers have been unable to get inside the silo to search for the man because the 70- to 80-foot silo is structurally unstable. Hours after the collapse, rescuers continued to wait for equipment needed to stabilize the silo.

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The missing miner has been on the job at Luck Stone in Loudoun County for less than a year. He was unloading material from the silo into a truck when the silo "split," plant managers said.

Emergency crews responded to the quarry in the 21200 block of Luck Lane in Leesburg around 6:30 a.m. Monday.

Crews tried to find the worker, using Leesburg's vacuum truck to clear debris, but operations paused around 9 a.m. so the structure could be assessed for instability.

"Our hope [is] that we could find this gentleman in some type of void area, but at this time, we don't even know if there is any void areas," said Loudoun County Fire & Rescue Assistant Chief Keith Johnson.

Teams have been using listening devices, K-9s and cadaver dogs but have not detected anything.

"Everybody's very concerned, yes," said Lewis Murphy of Luck Stone. "We're very close-knit; we work a lot of hours here together, and we're a family away from home."

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The silo was filled with a fine, dust-like material known as mineral filler, which is used in asphalt.The material in a full silo weighs 150 tons, but plant managers say they're not sure if it was full. The silo gets emptied every morning.

"We typically will empty it by truck, and this morning, the side of the silo split open, ruptured, and the material discharged out onto the ground," Murphy said. 

The miner was with two or three other workers at the time of the collapse. Those workers were able to give search teams some type of idea where he may be.

The missing man's father is on the scene.

Multiple agencies are conducting the search, including Loudoun County Fire & Rescue and Fairfax Fire & Rescue. The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy will investigate with Virginia Occupational Safety and Health.

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Stay with NBCWashington.com for more on this developing story.

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<![CDATA[Former British PM Was Accused of Sex Abuse]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 11:34:27 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/edward+heath.JPG

Edward Heath, a former British prime minister, was accused of sex abuse involving children in the 1990's, the country's police watchdog said on Monday, NBC News reported.  

Heath died in 2005 and was never prosecuted. The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating whether the local police in Wiltshire took any steps in reviewing the claims made against Heath.

Heath served as prime minister from 1970 to 1974. The commission is seeking to identify any witnesses or victims who support the allegations. 

A retired senior officer reportedly made the sex abuse allegations.  

<![CDATA[Support Roles for Dogs Go Beyond Helping the Blind]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 12:15:57 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/therapyAnimal-lead-GettyImages-453338427.jpg

When Ken Altenburger lost his sight due to complications from diabetes, he began to rely on a cane to assist him with getting around. Eventually, he decided it was time to get a guide dog.

That dog gave him more confidence than he had as an exclusive cane user. Another perk, he found, was that he enjoyed the companionship. 

“You don’t feel so alone,” said Altenburger, who now works for the nonprofit that matched him with all three of the dogs he has used over nearly two decades. 

That nonprofit, the California-based Guide Dogs for the Blind, has been training dogs to help people affected by vision loss for 70 years. Altenburger, who was matched with his latest dog, Jabari, earlier this year, is one of more than 2,000 sight-impaired people currently using dogs trained by the school. 

But it's not just the blind that trained dogs are helping these days. Service dogs now assist those who are deaf, those who are prone to seizures and even children with autism, along with many other jobs. Beyond those roles, dogs are being used to comfort grieving families at funeral homes, calm traumatized witnesses in courts and lower stress levels of law students going through final exams. One nonprofit, Puppies Behind Bars, recruits prisoners to train dogs to help wounded war veterans. 

“Dogs have a unique ability to sense when people are in need,” said Lutheran Church Charities President Tim Hetzner, whose group began using comfort dogs as part of its disaster response work after Hurricane Katrina. “Dogs show unconditional love. .... When people pet a dog, it lowers their blood pressure, they feel more relaxed and they feel more comfortable discussing what’s going on, particularly in crisis situations.”

While dogs have assisted their owners, both with and without disabilities, for centuries, it wasn’t until the 20th century that the concept of a service dog was commonly accepted.

Guide dogs assisted many German soldiers who lost their sight in World War I and The Seeing Eye, the oldest operating guide dog school in the world, was founded in New Jersey 1929. But the expanded concept of a “service dog” was not formally established until the latter half of the century, due to the work of former special education teacher Bonnie Bergin.

Bergin’s intent when developing the service dog concept was to help people with mobility issues, such as quadriplegics. The animals have several characteristics that make them a good fit for helping people, she said. 

“Dogs seek dyadic relationships, meaning they seek partnership with one other being,” said Bergin, who, in addition to starting her own canine studies institute, helped officials work service dog protections into federal law. “It fits their psychological drive. They love working. It gives them a purpose.”

The skills and benefits service dogs can bring to a situation go beyond loving their companions and work, experts say. John Moon, director of client programs and community engagement at Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans, said that dogs offer unique benefits to people with hearing loss.

“If you remove that [hearing] device, say to take a shower, then you’re more vulnerable than at any other time of day,” said Moon, whose organization trains black and yellow Labrador retrievers, including some potential candidates from local shelters. “The dog can hear a knock on the door, can hear the tea kettle go off.”

The know-how to alert the owner to things that matter -- and ignore sounds or other stimuli that don't -- must be taught. Service dogs undergo a disciplined training regimen to prepare them for the responsibilities ahead. Wrangler, a service-dog-in-training who is sharing his journey with NBC's "Today" show, is going through a 16-month program with the New York-based Guiding Eyes for the Blind that includes quarterly "Walk and Talk" evaluations and field trips to introduce him to public transportation and crowded city squares. 

"As part of Wrangler's socialization and journey to become a guide dog, it is important for him to experience new places, sights, sounds and experiences on a regular basis," handler Saxon Eastman told TODAY.com.

Even with a structured program and set goals, the guiding philosophy behind training is often simple. Bergin, who founded the Bergin Institute of Canine Studies in California, an accredited institution that offers associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in canine studies, got her start training dogs in the 1970s using the same teaching methods she used when educating children. 

“Dogs are very similar to humans,” she said. “Positive methods are the best way.” 

While emotional-support dogs, commonly known as comfort or therapy dogs, are not considered service dogs and are not protected under the ADA, proponents say they can also make a big difference in the lives of those they aid. 

The Lutheran Church Charities' K-9 Comfort Dog ministry, for example, uses about 90 golden retrievers in nearly two dozen states, to assist people in need. 

Each golden retriever in the LCC program has its own Facebook page, Twitter profile, email address and business cards. Hetzner said people often communicate through the dogs’ social media as if they are human counselors, and LCC staff can assist clients directly that way. Children, in particular, are more willing to talk to a dog than a person when they are distressed, such as when a classmate has taken his or her own life.

The helping effect dogs can have on children was also confirmed by Vicki Murphy, chief advancement officer and director of transitional youth services at Casa Pacifica Centers for Children & Families, which serves abused, neglected and emotionally and behaviorally challenged youth.

Children who would normally not talk to clinicians would start opening up due to the dogs’ presence, she said. Children with reading difficulties would start reading to the dogs. When one dog had open-heart surgery, the children learned responsibility by holding a fundraiser to cover the cost, and the possibility of him not making it led to conversations about life and death.

“These kiddos have already experienced so much loss,” Murphy noted.

Casa Pacifica uses Newfoundland dogs, because they are “so large and loving."

"The kids get a real sense of being able to hug something. And they’ll hug you back," Murphy said. “Every child should experience joy at least one time a day.”

Photo Credit: File/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Two New Mexico Churches Rocked by Explosions]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 09:13:56 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/crime-stock-police-scene-tape-car-2.jpg

Back-to-back explosions within a half-hour of each other rattled two churches in a New Mexico town Sunday morning, police said. 

No one was injured in either explosion, and damage to each church was "relatively minor," according to a statement from the Las Cruces Police Department.

A mailbox was blasted at Calvary Baptist Church in Las Cruces, about 50 miles from the Mexico border, around 8 a.m. local time, the police statement said. Police were then called to Holy Cross Catholic Church, about three miles away, where an explosive device had gone off in a trash can near the entrance of the church, according to police.

The churches remained closed Sunday afternoon while multiple law enforcement agencies investigated the blasts, according to police. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[1 Dead After Tent Collapses]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 07:40:34 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/wood+dale+tent+collapse.jpg

One person died and several others were injured after a tent collapsed at a suburban Chicago festival during Sunday's severe weather.

The incident happened at about 2:40 p.m. at Wood Dale Prairie Fest, which took place near Wood Dale Junior High, as 60 mph winds and large hail pounded the area.

"We were trying to squeeze in (the tent) so we didn't get hit by hail," an 11-year-old witness told NBC Chicago. "There was the tent, and it just flew and it crashed over."

The victim who died was identified by the DuPage County coroner as Steven Nincic, a 35-year-old father of two from Wood Dale.

"He worked 2 a.m. to 3 p.m. everyday," said Nincic's neighbor Matt Carolo. "Good guy."

In addition to the fatality, more than a dozen others were taken to area hospitals and several were treated and released on the scene, according to the Wood Dale Police Department. All of the victims were between the ages of 20 and 60.

A Wood Dale Police officer and a city official were among the nearly 20 injured, according to authorities. Most of the injuries were said to be minor, but three people suffered critical wounds, police said. 

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the deceased, and we are also praying for all those who were injured or affected by this tragedy," Wood Dale Mayor Nunzio Pulice said in a statement.

Officials said they are investigating whether the tent was properly secured. 

Wood Dale Prairie Fest is a four-day festival organized "to encourage community involvement and togetherness." The festival was held July 30 to Aug. 2.

The remainder of the festival was cancelled following the incident along with the town's National Night Out scheduled for Tuesday. 

Photo Credit: Susan Malinski]]>
<![CDATA[Officials Name 2nd American Lion Killer]]> Sun, 02 Aug 2015 23:23:08 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP_463227356214.jpg

Cecil wasn't the first lion illegally hunted by an American doctor this year, authorities in Zimbabwe said on Sunday. 

A Pennsylvania cancer doctor and bow hunter Jan Seski is accused of killing another lion in April, wildlife officials allege. 

Officials say Seski's local-based guide "hunted without a quota and a permit."

The guide was arrested and officials say he's cooperating. Seski did not answer calls from NBC News.

Seski has not been accused of committing a crime and it is unclear whether Zimbabwe authorities will seek to extradite him.

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<![CDATA[Idaho Hunter Speaks Out on Her 'Kill' Photos]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 09:27:22 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-482297280CECIL8315.jpg

As outrage pours in over the death of Cecil the lion, an Idaho hunter has been posting pictures on her Facebook page of various kills she made recently during a legal hunt in South Africa. 

Sabrina Corgatelli, a senior accountant for Idaho State University, has attracted hundreds of negative comments over a photo that shows her with a dead giraffe.

"To me it's not just killing an animal; it's the hunt,'' she told "Today" on Monday. "Everybody just thinks we're cold-hearted killers, and it's not that. There is a connection with the animal, and just because we hunt them doesn't mean we don't have a respect for them. Giraffes are very dangerous animals. They could hurt you seriously very quickly." 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Cops Save Dog Left in Hot Car for More Than 1 Hour: NYPD]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 10:44:39 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/dog+rescued+thumb.jpg

The NYPD is urging residents not to leave their pets inside their cars during these dog days of summer after officers rescued a pup from a hot car in Queens.

The dog was left alone in a hot car for more than an hour in the 112th precinct, the department tweeted Sunday.

The precinct then tweeted a warning to residents that reads: “That’s no way to treat your best friend.”

Police say the 39-year-old woman who left the dog in the car was issued a summons.

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<![CDATA[70-Year-Old Man Knocks Out Roommates' Attacker With Butt of Rifle]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 08:52:46 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/150801-man-saves-roommate.jpg

A 70-year-old man stopped a brutal assault against his disabled and elderly roommates in the Antelope Valley on Saturday night by hitting the attacker with the butt of a rifle, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputies said.

The alleged assailant, 36-year-old John Tutson, is an acquaintance of the roommates' and was knocked unconscious by Benjamin Monarque, according to deputies.

"I went up there and I just — bam! — hit him," Monarque said.

Tutson allegedly forced his way into the Littlerock home cursing and challenging the residents to fight him, deputies said. When a 55-year-old woman in the home, who was in a wheelchair, told him to leave, Tutson allegedly threw her off her wheelchair by pulling her hair.

After taking off his clothes, Tutson allegedly assaulted the 80-year-old man, Alfonso Mancillas, and placed him in a chokehold.

"He got me in a chokehold and he wouldn't let go," Mancillas said. "And my friend came out with a rifle and he told me I'm gonna shoot you if you don't let go."

Monarque then hit Tutson on the head with the butt of the rifle, knocking him unconscious, according to deputies.

Deputies said Tutson was an acquaintance of the roommates and had borrowed tools from the home earlier in the day to work on his vehicle. He was treated at a nearby hospital and later arrested, deputies said.

<![CDATA[Despite Latino Pope, U.S. Hispanics Drawn to Evangelicalism]]> Tue, 28 Jul 2015 07:34:54 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/lamb22.jpg

Despite growing up in the Catholic Church and attending parochial school, Gladys Verdejo said that for years her faith didn't extend much beyond attending Sunday Mass.

But an invitation to a worship service at the Lamb's Church of Nazarene in New York City seven years ago changed that. 

"I fell in love," said Verdejo, who was born in Puerto Rico, of her experience visiting an evangelical church. 

On a recent Sunday at the Lamb’s Church, Verdejo was among a large number of Latino congregants worshipping to gospel songs in Spanish. When the Rev. Gabriel Salguero took to the pulpit, he began his sermon with a fiery message: “Education is power! Ignorance is slavery!”

According to Verdejo, it was this message of empowerment and a direct connection to the gospel she felt she was lacking in the Catholic Church. “I feel more comfortable and at home here. I have a lot to learn still, but it's great,” she said.

Shifting Denomination

As millions of Catholics throughout the country await Pope Francis’s first U.S. visit this September, the steady movement of Hispanics, like Gladys Verdejo, away from the Catholic Church underscores a dilemma for the church: Despite efforts to attract and retain U.S. Latinos through expansion of lay ministry positions and support for immigration reform, many Hispanics continue to convert to an evangelical church or abandon their faith altogether.

The pope is expected to speak about immigrant rights at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia later this fall. In a nod to U.S. Hispanic Catholics — who comprise 17 percent of the population and 38 percent of U.S. Catholics — the pope will also offer a historic canonization Mass in Spanish for the Junipero Serra, a Franciscan missionary who established mission churches in California. 

Addressing Latinos in Spanish “will be an unquestioned acknowledgment of the importance of Latino communities and Latino Catholics in the United States,” said Professor Luis Fraga, director of the Institute for Latino Studies and professor of Transformative Latino Leadership at the University of Notre Dame.

After the pope's 2013 inauguration, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, presumed the evangelical church's success in drawing in U.S. Latinos would diminish.  

“We [Latino Evangelicals] expected Pope Francis to, in a very measurable manner, slow down the exodus from Catholicism to Evangelicals in Latin America and here in America. But guess what? He’s not slowing down the exodus,” he said.

In fact, Pew Research Center polling from last year notes that among Latinos between 30 to 49, “the net movement has been away from Catholicism and toward both evangelical Protestantism and no religious affiliation.”

"I Experienced the Presence of God"

After the service at the Lamb’s Church of Nazarene in Manhattan, Katira Castro de Lopez, 34, of Queens, New York, chatted with parishioners as her two children played.

Born in Puerto Rico and baptized in the Catholic Church, Castro de Lopez said she was a teenager when she first visited an evangelical church.

“I experienced the presence of God. It was tangible. I’ve never experienced that feeling in my life ever before,” she said.

The Catholic Church has experienced a net loss of members for decades, and evangelical Protestantism has woven its way into Latino immigrant communities since the 1940s. While the greater part of Latinos in the U.S. still belong to the Catholic Church, the Pew data show that this majority continues to shrink as evangelical Protestant and unaffiliated groups rise among U.S. Latinos. According to the research, nearly one-quarter of U.S. Latinos are now former Catholics.

Evangelical Community-Building

Rodriguez’s Sacramento-based organization, which encompasses over 40,000 member-churches representing millions of Latino Evangelicals, is the largest Latino Christian organization in the country. Rodriguez said intense community-building efforts continue to draw Hispanics to the evangelical church.

“You’re Salvadoran; we prepare your food and we sing your songs. You’re Mexican; we sing your music at church. You don’t have to abandon your culture when you come to our parish,” Rodriguez said.

The church isn’t just offering cultural affirmation. Rodriguez said it’s a message of personal and spiritual empowerment, including a message of financial prosperity, that’s attracting an increasing number of Latino immigrants who have experienced poverty.

“We validate the American dream. The Catholic Church is very ambiguous — almost silent, if not antagonistic — to the idea that America does represent social economic vertical mobility,” Rodriguez said.

Penance and Power

Rodriguez said the evangelical church’s inclusion of spiritual, social, and financial empowerment in gospel teachings resonates with Latino churchgoers.

Among the ways the evangelical church empowers, said Rodriguez, is by mobilizing congregants around social and political movements, and by using its leverage to persuade Congress on immigration reform.

For its part, the Catholic Church has worked to empower U.S. Latinos for decades, Luis Fraga said. One successful way, he said, is the Church continues to affirm its Latino base is by expanding the appointment of Latino deacons.

“There is an explicit attempt to appoint individuals who have language knowledge, cultural capital, life experience directly related to Latino communities, and give them very important roles in ministering to Hispanic communities,” he said.

Fraga added that Catholic social charities, local parishes and organizations like the Catholic Campaign for Human Development — the Church’s domestic anti-poverty program which works to address immigration reform and assist low-income communities — have been highly responsive to the needs of immigrant communities. Initiatives by Latino dioceses across the U.S. are anchoring the Catholic Church, according to Fraga.

“The growth in the Catholic Church — at least the slowing of the decline — of strong Catholic congregants is directly related to the increased presence of Latino immigrant communities,” he said.

Mar Muñoz-Visoso, executive director of Cultural Diversity in the Church at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, describes the Catholic Church’s efforts to minister to Hispanic communities as all-embracing.

“We have close to 5,000 parishes in the United States that do have some kind of ministry for Hispanic immigrants,” she said.

Muñoz-Visoso also said that 47 percent of lay ministry positions in the U.S., including youth ministers, parish managers, and religious educators, are filled by Latinos.

“[T]here is something very impressive there because it really means that we’re preparing the next generation of Latinos for the Church,” she said.

On Immigration

As trends in American Christianity continue to indicate a decline in membership, both Catholic and evangelical church leaders agree the future of Catholic and evangelical churches alike are intimately linked to Latinos in the U.S.

Rodriguez said for the better part of a decade he has been putting pressure on conservatives in Congress as well as assuaging the concerns that he said many white Evangelicals have about comprehensive immigration reform. “You need to support immigration reform because if not, you’re actually deporting the very future of your church,” he said.

Echoing the official views of the Catholic church, Muñoz-Visoso describes the Catholic church’s approach to immigration reform as comprehensive. “There has to be a grassroots movement to make sure that human dignity is respected, that due process is respected, and to understand the root causes of immigration,” she said.

Pope Francis has been vocal about the plight of immigrants worldwide. In a message for the 2014 World Day of Migrants and Refugees, he addressed the need for thorough reform. “Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity. They are children, women and men who leave or who are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all for being more,” he wrote.

Pope Francis is expected to address immigration in a speech in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia during the World Meeting of Families. The event's theme is “Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.”

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<![CDATA[Wildfires Continue to Ravage Drought-Stricken California]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 09:59:47 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/thumb-04-GettyImages-482739104.jpg A massive wildfire west of Sacramento, fueled by brittle brush and timber parched by a historic drought, has scorched nearly 60,000 acres and forced nearly 12,000 to evacuate, officials said Monday morning.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Greek Stock Market Tumbles After Reopening]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 06:16:30 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP_168322850076.jpg

The Athens stock exchange plunged nearly 23 percent after it reopened Monday for the first time in five weeks.

Traders were expecting volatility on the first day back since June, when capital controls on Greek banks forced the market to close amid questions about the country's financial fate. Greek banks opened on July 20 after Greece and its lenders came to an 11th hour bailout agreement that prevented it from leaving the euro zone.

Though some bailout details are still being worked out, the country is deemed stable enough for the stock market to reopen with some restrictions. 

<![CDATA[Phoenix Man Charged With Decapitating His Wife]]> Sun, 02 Aug 2015 19:34:44 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/mugshot13.jpg

A Phoenix man who is suspected of decapitating his wife and mutilating himself last week has been charged with first-degree murder, police said. 

Authorities called the scene of the murder "absolutely horrific." Kenneth Wakefield, 43, is suspected of killing his wife, Trina Heisch, 49, and leaving her body with two dead dogs inside the bedroom closet of their apartment. 

Officers found the couple's room covered in blood Saturday morning. Wakefield appeared to have stabbed himself multiple times in the chest and was missing part of his left arm along with one of his eyes. 

Photo Credit: Phoenix Police]]>
<![CDATA['Crazy Out Here': Pleas to Mayor After Deadly Weekend in NYC]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 12:21:01 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/gun+violence+brooklyn.jpg

After a dramatic weekend of gun violence in New York City that left three people dead and 16 others wounded, community leaders are calling on Mayor de Blasio to step up and crack down on shootings plaguing the city's streets. The mayor responded Sunday night, saying the NYPD would beef up patrols in high crime neighborhoods.

Nearly 20 people were shot in seven shootings since Friday. Two people were killed and 11 wounded on Sunday. On Saturday, one person was killed and five others were wounded in gun violence.

A 24-year-old man was killed in a shooting in Canarsie late Friday. Early Sunday, a 20-year-old man was shot to death in a playground in the Soundview section of the Bronx. A short time later on Sunday, a 46-year-old man was killed in Fort Greene. And then in East New York, nine people were shot at a family house party.

Late Sunday afternoon, community leaders demanded de Blasio do more to end the violence. At a Brooklyn Borough Hall rally, Tony Herbert, a community advocate, said that de Blasio has ignored his coalition of parents and clergy, who want to put thousands of volunteers in neighborhoods where violence is prevalent to mentor at-risk young people.

"Where's our mayor?" Herbert, a community advocate, said at Brooklyn Borough Hall. "Why are you not out here denouncing what's going on in our community. We've been fighting for an opportunity to sit down with you to give you a plan, so that you can actually act with us on this."

Community leaders say they would specifically like the city to use emergency funds to finance the many organizations out in the neighborhoods trying to end the violence.

"NYC is in crisis due to gun violence," Herbert said.

Tommy Holliday, who says he works with Herbert, said Sunday that the NYPD shouldn't have gotten rid of the stop-and-frisk police tactic.

"Police should have kept stop-and-frisk, because it's crazy out here," Holliday said. "They should bring it back because it's getting worse and worse." 

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said Sunday evening that he's launching a week-long gun violence awareness campaign. An open casket and provocative imagery will be placed outside Borough Hall as part of the campaign, his office said.

Councilman Jumaane D. Williams, a Democrat represents the 45th Council District in Brooklyn, was with anti-gun violence advocates at a vigil in Canarsie Sunday evening for Donnell Smith, who was killed in a shooting there Friday. Smith's family was expected to be at the vigil.

In a statement Sunday, de Blasio's press secretary, Karen Hinton, said that the mayor and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton are adding officers to high crime areas as part of the summer's "All Out" effort, including the precincts where this weekend's shootings occurred.

"The mayor takes very seriously each incident and has directed NYPD to beef up its presence in these areas," Hinton said. "Overall crime is going down, but Mayor de Blasio will continue to be diligent about preventing crime and locking up criminals."

On a radio show Sunday, Bratton said that overall crime is down in the city.

"The state of the city is actually very good," Bratton said. "Crime numbers are looking good overall. We've had an overall decrease of five to six percent in crime." 

But according to NYPD crime statistics, before Sunday's party shooting there was a 120 percent increase in shooting victims in the 75th precinct, which covers East New York, compared to last year.

The nine people who were shot in East New York are expected to survive their injuries.

Gunfire erupted just after 2 a.m. Sunday in East New York at an all-day party at a house near the intersection of Stanley Avenue and Crescent Street.

At least 13 people were taken to area hospitals, according to a spokesperson at the Fire Department of New York. Those who weren't shot were being treated for cuts and bruises.

"They like to throw parties, there's nothing wrong with that," one neighbor said. "Except sometimes they allow other people off the street to come in, and the problem with that is you don't know what they're bringing with them."

There was no information about a motive for the shootings and the shooter or shooters were still on the loose. Police found a BMW sedan with the rear door open and what appeared to be bloody hand prints on the car's grill.

Around the same time, police responded to a report of a shooting in Fort Greene and found the body of a 46-year-old man in a courtyard across from the Walt Whitman Houses on North Oxford Walk.

The victim, whose identity wasn't disclosed by police, had sustained multiple gunshot wounds.

<![CDATA[Will Joe Biden Challenge Hillary Clinton?]]> Sun, 02 Aug 2015 16:35:31 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/214*120/tlmd_joebidenenbroward.jpg

Vice President Biden has not ruled out a presidential run, according to NBC News sources — but it is far from clear whether he will enter the 2016 campaign, with much of the Democratic Party already behind Hillary Clinton.

These sources confirmed a New York Times report published Saturday that suggested Biden could still enter the presidential race, and that Biden allies have talked to party activists about the viability of a campaign.

The Times account suggested Biden's late son, Beau, had pushed his father to wage a third campaign for the White House.

In a statement, Biden's press secretary Kendra Barkoff did not rule out a Biden campaign, instead sidestepping the issue.

"As the Biden family continues to go through this difficult time, the Vice President is focused on his family and immersed in his work," Barkoff said. "In recent weeks, the Vice President has worked on the nuclear deal with Iran, traveled across the country to highlight the administration's economic priorities and more."

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Jewish 'Terrorism': Israel OKs Jailing Citizens Without Trial]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 05:40:00 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Mideast+Israel+Palestinians.jpg

Israel's security cabinet approved a new measure Sunday that will allow law enforcement officials to detain citizens suspected of carrying out violence against Palestinians, without a trial. 

These types of detentions are already commonly applied to Palestinian militant suspects and heavily condemned internationally.

The extention of "administration detention," to non-Palestinian suspects comes two days after a Palestinian home was torched, killing a toddler and sparking calls for the government to crack down on Jewish nationalist attacks. 
While no one has claimed responsibility for Friday's attack, the security cabinet called it "a terror attack in every respect," and vowed to "take all steps necessary to bring those responsible to justice."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Coast Guard Chopper Lands on Staten Island Golf Course]]> Sun, 02 Aug 2015 13:21:10 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/179*120/8215chopper.jpg

A Coast Guard helicopter pilot found a suitable clearing to make an emergency landing Sunday: a fairway on a Staten Island golf course.

The chopper was flying into New York air space from a Coast Guard station in Atlantic City to monitor an oil spill near Bayonne, N.J., when smoke and fumes started to fill the cockpit.

"Our flight mechanic smelled something," said pilot Elise Roberts. "We were setting up for a precautionary landing when we started losing equipment and decided we needed to land immediately."

The aircraft landed safely at about 10:30 a.m. on a fairway at the Richmond Country Club.

Four crew members were aboard the helicopter. No one was injured. 

<![CDATA[Weather Threat Affects Lollapalooza]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 11:28:01 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/ebff5b30d6344341896bfc2eb4591a02.JPG.jpg

After a temporary evacuation earlier in the day, Lollapalooza announced that their remaining performances Sunday night would be moved to earlier start times as severe weather threatened Chicago again.

The festival ended early without a second evacuation, and all festival-goers made it out of Grant Park safely.

Earlier in the day, Lollapalooza announced an evacuation due to severe weather in the Chicago. Gates reopened at 3:30 p.m. after the storm passed through, and music resumed at 4 p.m.

Despite the brief evacuation period, none of the performances were cancelled, according to Lollapalooza organizers, who said all sets would be rescheduled.

Lollapalooza organizers urged festival-goers to head to the nearest exit for a "brief" evacuation. They were directed by festival staff and the Chicago Police Department to "pre-established underground evacuation and shelter sites along Michigan Avenue," according to a statement from concert promoter C3.

There are three emergency evacuation shelters: Grant Park North, Grant Park South and Millennium Lakeside Garages. All shelters can be accessed through vehicle entrances on Michigan Avenue.

The concert promoter reported that all festival-goers, staff and artists "calmly and safely exited from Grant Park."

A Severe Thunderstorm Warning was issued for Cook and DuPage counties until 3 p.m., threatening 60-mph wind gusts and hail the size of golf balls.

Photo Credit: Colin Hughes]]>
<![CDATA[Several Hurt in NJ Multi-Car Crash]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 09:40:08 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/officer+injured+jersey+crash.jpg

Multiple people were injured, including a police officer, after a speeding car driven by an alleged drunk driver crashed into at least one other car in Jersey City, setting off a chain reaction, police said.

The first car hit the second shortly after 8 p.m. Sunday at Ocean and Myrtle avenues, according to police. The impact of the crash sent the second car flying onto a sidewalk, where it hit a Jersey City police officer.

"I saw all these cars crashing," Heidi Morales, who witnessed the crash, said. "There was a lot of people screaming, crying." 

In a video obtained exclusively by NBC 4 New York, neighbors can be seen rushing to the officer's side. Other people in cars nearby were also injured, according to witnesses.

Several people were taken to area hospitals for treatment, including the officer, who police said is expected to be OK. She was listed in stable condition Monday. 

The driver of the first car, 30-year-old Keith Jeffers, of Wegman Parkway, was arrested at the scene and taken to an ambulance in handcuffs. He was charged with four counts of assault by auto, knowingly leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident with serious bodily injury and driving while intoxicated.

<![CDATA[Double Amputee Goes Cross-Country]]> Sun, 02 Aug 2015 22:39:04 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Toran_Gaal.png

A United States Marine—who lost both legs in combat—completed a journey across the country while hand-cycling to raise money to help injured Marines.

Toran Gaal and his support van driver, Brian Riley, another injured Marine, traveled more than 3,000 miles. The Semper Fi Fund provides financial assistance to wounded Marines and their families while they recover.

The San Diego-area veteran lost both of his legs while fighting in Afghanistan. The Semper Fi Fund assisted his own family in the years following his injury during his third deployment in 2011. Gaal stepped on a 12-pound pressure IED blew up causing him to not only lose his legs but also, 30 percent of his brain.

"If someone can be at end’s wit and sees someone that has had adversity, and seen them thrive, hopefully it will touch their hearts," Gaal said before he started his journey.

The two Marines started their quest on June 1 in California with a specialized bicycle to raise awareness for the Semper Fi Fund. His journey finished at the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, greeted by nearly 100 friends and supporters.

<![CDATA[Balloon Released at Grave Ends Up at Bereaved Family's Home]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 09:51:26 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Screen-Shot-2015-08-02-at-8.38.03-PM.jpg

An Oklahoma widow and her daughter released balloons and a written message on Father's Day this year—the first without dad— and may have gotten a "message" back.

The pair released the balloons at the father's grave and were shocked to find the balloon's note had showed up at their house—25 miles from the cemetery, NBC News reported.

Sandy Seibold and her daughter Saige Seibold are still mourning the loss of Johnny Seibold after he died from pancreatic cancer earlier this year. 

Saige was upset when the balloons were caught in a power line but eventually they were taken by a gust of wind. Upon returning home, Saige went downhill from their house to the pasture where she and her father worked together and spotted her message with the balloons.

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<![CDATA[Donald Trump's Debate Plan: 'I Want to Be Me']]> Sun, 02 Aug 2015 13:08:28 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-481942616.jpg

Donald Trump said Sunday in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" that his strategy for Thursday night's GOP debate boils down to a simple idea: "I want to be me."

"I don't want to be unreal. I want to be me. I have to be me," Trump said. "We have enough of that in Washington with pollsters telling everybody what to say."

Trump also continued to downplay his debate experience, explain that he plans to "counterpunch" only if he's attacked by the nine competitors will join him on the debate stage.

"I think that frankly I'd like to discuss the issues. I'm not looking to take anybody out or be nasty to anybody," said Trump, who leads the GOP field in a new NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll out Sunday. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[U.S.-Egyptian Relations Returning to 'Stronger Base': Kerry]]> Sun, 02 Aug 2015 23:28:08 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP_518912472098.jpg

During the first strategic dialogue between the United States and Egypt since 2009, Secretary of State John Kerry said the relationship between the two countries is returning to a "stronger base," despite concerns over human rights and democratic reform. 

Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said that he and Kerry had no major disagreements with the United States but that there were "differences in points of views over some issues, which is natural."

After Egypt's fifth president, Mohamed Morsi of the Freedom and Justice Party, was removed from power in 2013 during protests, tensions between the United States and the country have risen. 

Egypt remains one of the United States' closet security allies in the Middle East, an area increasingly affected by turmoil in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya. 

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<![CDATA[Israeli Teen Who Was Stabbed at Gay Pride Parade Dies]]> Sun, 02 Aug 2015 12:10:15 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/ss-150730-jerusalem-gay-pride-stabbing-mn-01.nbcnews-ux-1024-900.jpg

A teenage girl who was stabbed in a gruesome attack at a Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem last week died on Sunday, hospital officials said.

Shira Banki, a 16-year-old high school student, was one of six people wounded in the assault.

The suspect, an ultra-Orthodox man, was arrested at the scene. He was remanded for 12 days by a Jerusalem court on Friday. He had recently completed a 10-year jail term after carrying out a similar attack at the same gay pride parade a decade ago, police said.

"We won't permit the terrible murderer to challenge the basic values on which Israeli society is built." Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement after sending his condolences to the family.

<![CDATA[Pilot Dies After Helicopter Crash at Russian Air Show]]> Sun, 02 Aug 2015 17:37:56 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP_126278952922.jpg

One pilot is dead and another injured after a fiery helicopter crash at a Russian air show on Sunday.

An Mil MI-28 helicopter went into a flat spin during aerobatics at the event before crashed and burst into flames. Reuters footage showed a figure emerging from the fiery wreckage. 

"The crashed helicopter belongs to Berkut aerobatic team. The MI-28 attack helicopter's control system failed during training," the head of the Russian Air Forces, Colonel General Viktor Bondarev said. "It's alarm system immediately sounded a warning. The pilots did their best to guarantee a safe flight."

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<![CDATA[Conn. Man Dies in Crash With Escaped Bull: Police]]> Sun, 02 Aug 2015 13:05:28 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-187564059.jpg

A Connecticut man died Friday when he struck an escaped bull with his vehicle, according to Vermont State Police.

Vermont State Police troopers responded to the scene of a single-vehicle crash in the town of Killington around 10:22 p.m.

The vehicle was traveling west on U.S. Route 4 when it struck a large Scottish Highlander bull that had escaped from its pasture. Investigation revealed that after hitting the bull, the vehicle continued to travel westbound and went down a small grassy hill before colliding with a tree and coming to a rest.

The motorist, 64-year-old Jon M. Bellis of Woodbridge, Connecticut, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The passenger, 60-year-old Kathryn Barry, also of Woodbridge, was transported to Rutland Regional Medical Center for treatment of her right wrist.

Vermont State Police are investigating. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[Donald Trump Surges in New NBC News/WSJ Poll]]> Sun, 02 Aug 2015 12:40:59 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP_295422491985.jpg

Days before the first Republican debate, Donald Trump has surged into the national lead in the GOP primary race, with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush following, a new NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll shows.

Trump is the first choice of 19 percent of GOP primary voters, while 15 percent back Walker and 14 percent back Bush. Ten percent support retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson. All other Republican candidates earn single digit backing.

Only the top 10 candidates -- calculated by an average of the last five major national polls -- will be eligible to participate in Thursday's FOX News debate in primetime, according to the network's rules. Incorporating the new NBC/WSJ numbers, NBC estimates that the top ten candidates at this time are: 

  • Trump - 19.8 percent
  • Walker - 13.2 percent
  • Bush - 13 percent
  • Paul - 6.4 percent
  • Carson - 6.4 percent
  • Rubio - 6.2 percent
  • Huckabee - 5.8 percent
  • Cruz - 5.8 percent
  • Christie - 3.2 percent
  • Kasich - 3.2 percent

It has been a rapid ascent for Trump, who declared his presidential run just over six weeks ago. In early June, just one percent of GOP primary voters called Trump their first choice for the GOP nod.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Kraft Recalls 36K Cases of Singles Cheese Over Choking Hazard]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 11:19:41 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-155703752.jpg

Kraft is voluntarily recalling 36,000 cases of individually-wrapped cheese singles due to a potential choking hazard. 

The recall covers 3-lb. and 4-lb. sizes of Kraft Singles American and White American products with a "best when used by" date that falls between December 29, 2015, and January 4, 2016, followed by the manufacturing code "S54" or "S55."

A strip of the film used to package the product may remain adhered to the slice after the wrapper has been removed, potentially causing a choking hazard for consumers, the company said.

Kraft has received 10 consumer complaints about the packaging, including three reports of consumers choking, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said.

Those who purchased the product are encouraged to return it to the store where they bought it for an exchange or full refund. They can also call Kraft Heinz Consumer Relations for a full refund at 1-800-432-3101.

“The safety and quality of our products is our highest priority,” Kraft said in a statement. “We work every day to exceed your expectations and we sincerely apologize for this situation.”

Learn more about the recall by clicking here

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images
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<![CDATA["Free the Nipple" Supporters Coming to New Hampshire]]> Mon, 03 Aug 2015 10:15:24 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/182*120/GettyImages-475740032.jpg

A nationwide movement encouraging women to "go topless" is making its way to New Hampshire.

Two women are organizing an event called "Free the Nipple New Hampshire" and plan to go topless on Hampton Beach.

"We are just having a beach day and exercising our rights," said organizer Kia Sinclair of Danbury, New Hampshire.

Sinclair and her neighbor Heidi Lilley are joining the national "Free the Nipple" movement to change what they say is a longstanding double standard.

"The woman's breast is no different than a man's breast," said Lilley.

"The nipple on a female is so criminalized and sexualized that, yeah she can't even feed her own child, and she can't tan on a beach topless," Sinclair said.

But the new mother says it's about much more than topless sunbathing. Sinclair says she's fed up with feeling isolated when she breastfeeds her son.

"I just want to be able to feed my child anywhere and not have people look at me or say anything rude," she explained.

The topless sit in is almost a month away, but people are already talking about it at Hampton Beach.

"I hate double standards and I think if men can go topless, then women should, too," said beachgoer Denisse Tejeda.

"Everyone has the same nipples, the same breasts," said Joel Rojas of Lawrence, Massachusetts, at Hampton Friday with his buddies.

But not everyone agrees with the event.

"There's too many kids running around," said Chelsea Kamuene of North Andover.

"In my mind it is not okay," said Sarah Allen who was visiting the beach with her 5-year-old daughter Sophia.

Sinclair and Lilley say those who find this movement offensive are the people they're trying to reach.

"We want children to see this," Lilley said. "My child is going to be there, her child is going to be there."

Sinclair agreed, saying, "Breasts were designed for children so they are family friendly."

The national "Free the Nipple" Facebook page has more than 52,000 likes.

Sinclair and Lilley expect upwards of 100 supporters for the August 23 topless sit in at Hampton Beach.

Police say it's technically legal and they are well aware of the planned event.

Photo Credit: FILE - Getty Images]]>