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    Now that embattled Mayor Bob Filner has announced his resignation, what happens next?

    San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said Filner will officially leave the mayoral office on Aug. 30 at 5 p.m.

    In the meantime, one of the first priorities is to schedule a special election. The City Clerk will establish a timeline for the election. By Monday, the City Clerk will address the legal requirements.

    After that, San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria will work with the City Council to call for a special election.

    According to Goldsmith, council must call for a special election within 90 days.

    If no candidate gets the majority of the votes, a run-off election will be held.

    In the meantime, City Council President Gloria will fulfill duties of the mayor. Council President Pro Tem Sherri Lightner will lead council meetings in place of Gloria during this period.

    Gloria will take on limited executive duties, and will have authority to supervise the staffers remaining in the mayor’s office.

    Furthermore, Goldsmith says Gloria will retain his rights as a member of the San Diego City Council and can’t veto over council actions.

    Interim leadership will also include maintaining essential city services and making sure that the things that are sitting on the mayor’s desk get done.

    NBC 7 spoke with Gloria on Friday about the possibility of him running for mayor. Gloria didn’t rule it out, but said the decision is a big one that he will have to thoroughly think about and discuss with his family.

    “Well, I’m checking with my family, making some difficult decisions. This has only been going on for six weeks. No one would’ve thought this was possible, including myself, so before making a very large decision, I’m going to make sure it’s the right decision for San Diego,” said Gloria. “But, right now, again, my most important duties are to continue as council president and prepare to become interim mayor.”

    Meanwhile, Nathan Fletcher and Tobiah Pettus have officially filed paperwork in order to run for the position of San Diego mayor. In a written statement, Carl DeMaio says he too is considering a run.

    On Saturday, DeMaio released the following statement:

    “Countless San Diegans have reached out to my office to share their thoughts and hopes for moving San Diego forward – and I want them all to know I am listening. San Diegans want a Mayor with integrity who offers a sincere and consistent vision and can bring people together to get things done. It’s time for leadership at City Hall that San Diegans can be proud of again.”



    Photo Credit: Monica Garske

    Embattled Mayor Bob Filner just minutes before his resignation speech before San Diego City Council on August 23, 2013.Embattled Mayor Bob Filner just minutes before his resignation speech before San Diego City Council on August 23, 2013.

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    A chapter of the Pi Kappa Alpha at Florida International University had its charter suspended by the fraternity headquarters after screenshots of Facebook posts revealed photos of naked women, suggestions of possible drug use and hazing.

    The chapter had already been suspended by the univeristy and was being investigated after screenshots of Facebook posts allegedly made by FIU's Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity or "Pike" brothers were distributed to the Miami New Times and to the university through an anonymous email. Pi Kappa Alpha is a frat that historically prides itself on community service and leadership.

    The national organization said in an email statement that they are working closely with the university, and they voted to immediately suspend the chapter's charter.

    "Further, all members with linkages to illegal and illicit activities will be pursued for expulsion from the Fraternity. The International Fraternity will continue to work with the University and police investigations, providing any information available to hold individuals accountable to the fullest extent of the law," the statement said.

    The charter suspension means that the chapter can no longer operate with the name Pi Kappa Alpha or use the frat's names, symbols or signs to show that the chapter is affiliated with the fraternity.

    FIU had previously released a statement that read in part, "The university is taking this information very seriously because it suggests possible Student Code of Conduct violations. The university took prompt action and placed the fraternity on interim suspension pending the outcome of investigations by appropriate university departments, including the police."

    Campus police will also look into posts that seem to suggest hazing was going on.

    “The behavior displayed by these young men is disgraceful, offensive, and indefensible. The immediate decision to suspend by the Supreme Council was made to communicate clearly that this type of behavior is not tolerated," executive vice president Justin A. Buck was quoted in the statement as saying. "Other chapters, alumni of Pi Kappa Alpha and Kappa Gamma Chapter have expressed their overwhelming embarrassment and disgust for these actions. It is clear these individuals never had any concept of what Pi Kappa Alpha stands for.”

     

     



    Photo Credit: NBC 6 South Florida

    Pi Kappa Alpha at Florida International University.Pi Kappa Alpha at Florida International University.

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    The death of a transgendered woman who was assaulted by a group of men in Harlem Saturday night has been ruled a homicide and is being investigated as a possible hate crime, police say. 

    The 21-year-old woman, Islan Nettles, died of blunt impact injuries to the head, the medical examiner's office determined Friday. 

    Nettles, who also goes by Vaughn Nettles and Alon Nettles, was out with a friend, another transgender woman, when they met a group of men near 148th Street and Eighth Avenue, according to police. 

    The two groups began arguing, apparently after the men realized the victims were transgender, police said. One man made anti-gay remarks and a physical altercation ensued. 

    The victim was taken to the hospital with injuries, and died Thursday after spending several days on a ventilator, police said. 

    A 20-year-old man was arrested in connection with the investigation. His role in the assault, if any, was not immediately clear. 

    No hate crime charges have yet been filed, but the Manhattan District Attorney's hate crimes division and the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force were both investigating. 

    After a series of anti-gay attacks in the spring, including the fatal shooting of a man in Greenwich Village, thousands rallied to denounce the violence. Last week, a gay couple was attacked while leaving a movie theater in Chelsea. 

    -- Shimon Prokupecz contributed to this report. 


    Islan Nettles (inset) was assaulted in Harlem, then died of her injuries days later, police say.Islan Nettles (inset) was assaulted in Harlem, then died of her injuries days later, police say.

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    The owner of a dog who was left to die inside a family's stolen minivan helped arrest the man who allegedly stole his 10-year-old yellow Lab, hours after police released surveillance images of the thief.

    "It makes me feel better," owner Nayo Mateo said of the arrest. "Now, I can sleep better that someone like him is not on the street anymore."

    "I just told him, he's going to pay for what he did," Mateo added.

    NBC4's cameras were there shortly before 8 p.m. Friday when police took Danny Fis, a transient, into custody near the same place where Mateo's van was found abandoned earlier this week.

    Fis, 29, was booked on felony animal cruelty charges and is being held in lieu of $45,000 bail, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

    When asked if he knew there was a dog in the backseat of the stolen van, Fis -- in handcuffs -- nodded yes.

    Mateo said he left the car running with the air conditioner on so his 10-year-old yellow Lab could stay cool while he went inside to get his wife and 2-year-old daughter, who were shopping at a children’s clothing store.

    When he returned to the parking lot Aug. 17 to find his minivan was gone, Mateo’s heart sank -- not for the car, but for Maru, who was sleeping in the backseat.

    Mateo said the dog -- who he’s had since she was a puppy -- was more like a child to him than a pet. The night of the theft, Mateo’s wife said their 2-year-old daughter (pictured below) repeatedly asked, "Where is Maru?"

    The family’s minivan and their beloved pet were stolen from a parking lot at 12507 Ventura Boulevard, at Whitsett Avenue (map), in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Studio City.

    Two days later, the Mateos’ van was found abandoned in the 4100 block of Whitsett Avenue, about a quarter mile north of where it was stolen.

    The windows were rolled up. Maru was inside, dead of heat exhaustion.

    The thief was spotted in surveillance footage (pictured below) wearing a brownish-colored plaid hoodie, a dirty white t-shirt and tan shorts at the time of the heist, Los Angeles police said. He is Hispanic with brown hair, brown eyes, 5 feet 8 inches tall and 240 pounds.

    He was taken into custody near the Weddington Golf and Tennis in Studio City -- the same place where he abandoned the van, and where local media and police were gathered Friday night.

    "He was wearing the same shorts and shoes," Mateo said, explaining how he recognized the suspect, who had since shaved his facial hair.

    Two organizations offered a combined reward of $7,000 for the arrest and conviction of whoever left Maru in the backseat to die.

    Mutt Match L.A. posted a $2,000 reward. PETA posted a $5,000 reward. In light of Friday night's arrest, it's not clear to whom that reward will go.

    Anyone with information about Fis, the man wanted in connection with the deadly theft, is asked to call the LAPD Animal Cruelty Task Force at 213-486-0450. After hours and on weekends, tips can be reported by calling 877-LAPD-24-7.

    Anonymous tips can be left by calling Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS.

    More Southern California Stories:



    Photo Credit: Kim Baldonado

    Media and law enforcement were there Aug. 23, 2013, when this man returned to the scene where he allegedly abandoned a family's stolen van -- leaving their dog to die inside the hot car -- and was arrested.Media and law enforcement were there Aug. 23, 2013, when this man returned to the scene where he allegedly abandoned a family's stolen van -- leaving their dog to die inside the hot car -- and was arrested.

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    Two young women were killed and a male passenger injured in a one car crash in Roxbury late Friday night.

    According to state police, Barbara Langford was driving a 1993 Honda Accord approximately 250 feet north of Old Lane in Roxbury.

    Langford's vehicle crossed over the double solid yellow line and continued traveling north in the southbound land .

    Police say that Langford lost control of the vehicle and veered across all lanes and collided with a light post. After the first collision, the vehicle struck a large tree stump causing it to flip over onto the roof.

    The car finally came to rest on its roof down a small embankment,

    Langford, 23, and the front seat passenger Beverly Crawford, 26, both of New Milford were transported to Danbury Hospital where they were both pronounced dead.

    The backseat passenger, Vernon Yeomans, 27, of Danbury was transported to Danbury Hospital with what appears to be non-life threatening injuries.

    The accident is under investigation by State Police. Anyone with information is asked to call Troop A at 203-267-2200.

     



    Photo Credit: Getty Images/Aurora Creative

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    State Police are investigating after a domestic dispute turned deadly early Saturday morning in Coventry.

    Coventry police responded to 6 Stage Coach Road after receiving a 911 call to report a disturbance at the home.

    When they arrived, police established a perimeter around the home and tried to establish communication with the residents.                             

    Local police asked for assistance from State Police and a regional tactical team also came to the scene to assist.

    At 1 a.m., that team entered the home and located two deceased people. Sources have identified the deceased as Janice Lesko and Greg Pawloski. It is unclear at this time which victim was the shooter.


    State Police, along with the States Attorneys Office, Coventry Police and the Eastern District Major Crime team are investigating.

    The preliminary investigation has determined that the untimely deaths appear to be a murder/suicide involving a firearm.

    The Office of the Chief States Medical Examiner will conduct an autopsy of  both deceased to determine the manner and cause of death.


    The scene at 6 Staqe Coach Road, Coventry.The scene at 6 Staqe Coach Road, Coventry.

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    A Florida man is facing an attempted murder charge after police say he nearly killed a 9-year-old girl during a random attack in the bathroom of a Jacksonville, Fla., Best Buy store.

    James Patrick Tadros, 29, is also charged with false imprisonment and criminal mischief in the incident which happened just after 5 p.m. Friday at the store at 9930 Southside Boulevard, according to a release from the Jacksonville Police Department.

    According to the release, a witness heard someone screaming and crying inside the women's restroom and went inside to see if they needed help.

    Florida Trio Pleads Guilty After Crime Note Found in Courtroom

    The witness got Best Buy employees to go into the restroom, and one of the employees looked under the handicapped stall and saw Tadros holding the victim with her head inside the toilet, police said.

    Tadros, who police listed as 6-foot-0 and 250 pounds, dropped the girl and she was able to crawl into another stall and was helped out of the bathroom by an employee. The suspect was detained by employees until officers arrived, police said.

    Resource Officer Helps Deliver Baby at Elementary School

    The victim told police that Tadros kicked and punched her and put a plastic bag over her head and stuck her head in the toilet, police said. She told a store employee she didn't know him.

    The girl was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment for her injuries. Tadros was booked into jail and was being held without bond. It was unknown whether he has an attorney.

    More Local Stories:



    Photo Credit: Jacksonville Police

    James Patrick TadrosJames Patrick Tadros

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    Police in Bristol say five city residents were injured in a head-on collision Saturday morning.

    The incident happened around 8:30 a.m. on Stevens Street near Cherry Hill Drive.

    According to police, 21-year-old Elvis Caban hit an SUV carrying four women, ranging in age from 66 to 84-years-old.

    Penelope Sobo-Lewski was driving the SUV.  Sophie White, Mary Ann Spirto, and Evelyn Petosa were her passengers.

    Authorities said all the people involved were taken to area hospitals. White was transported by Life Star and her injuries are critical, police said.

    The crash is under investigation.

     

     

     



    Photo Credit: Jim Jankoski

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    Tens of thousands of people flooded the Lincoln Memorial and the National Mall on Saturday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech and the March on Washington. Saturday's march and rally come ahead of the “Let Freedom Ring” commemoration and call to action on Wednesday, 50 years since King drew more than 200,000 to the Lincoln Memorial for his landmark address.

    Photo Credit: AP

    Claudia Hanes from Kentucky holds a placard during a rally to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013. The event was the precursor to the actual anniversary of the Aug. 28, 1963, march. On the day of the anniversary, President Barack Obama will speak from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, from which King stood delivered his Claudia Hanes from Kentucky holds a placard during a rally to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013. The event was the precursor to the actual anniversary of the Aug. 28, 1963, march. On the day of the anniversary, President Barack Obama will speak from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, from which King stood delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.

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    A man was hit by a car while trying to cross the intersection of Maple and Franklin Aves in Hartford Saturday afternoon.

    The driver stayed at the scene and received medical treatment from paramedics.

    Authorities say the man was taken to a nearby hospital. His injuries are unknown at this time.


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    The 12-year-old Florida boy who has spent several days battling a rare brain-eating infection at Miami Children's Hospital passed away Saturday afternoon, his family said.

    Zachary Reyna had been fighting the infection known as PAM, or primary amebic meningoencephalitis, but in a Facebook posting Saturday afternoon, his father said he passed away.

    "At 1:54 today there was a crack of a bat heard. Zac took it deep. My boy hit his homerun. One that I'll never forget. I'm so proud of him. He left it all on the field and I can't ask for more. He did so well that he'll be the starting 2nd baseman for The Lords team," father Jesse Reyna wrote. "I sit back and ask myself, what would make me prouder; my son playing pro ball, being a successful business man or being known for changing and saving thousands of lives for The Lord. It's a no brainer. I love The Lord for giving me such a beautiful son who He chose to change myself, my family and the world for better. Thank you Jesus. It hurts, but you have given my family love and peace. We couldn't be so strong today without you. I hope that Zac continues to touch people and his time here is remembered forever. We thank everyone for being so caring and I know it's going to be tough on us at first, but we have an awesome support team back home and we are grateful for that. The battle is over for Zac but he won the war."

    On Wednesday, Jesse Reyna said antibiotics had defeated the infection but doctors were still waiting for brain activity. Zachary had been admitted to the Miami hospital after being transferred there from Glades County, where they believe he was infected with the amoeba.

    His family said Zachary had been knee boarding in a water-filled ditch by his home before he became very ill.

    The brain-eating amoeba that causes this infection is commonly found in warm fresh water such as lakes, rivers, canals and ponds. This is the middle of the peak season, which runs from July through September.

    The amoeba can enter through the nose and into the brain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 2003 to 2012 there have been 31 reported cases of PAM. Of those, 28 have been linked to recreational water, three from nose irrigation with contaminated water. These infections are more likely in Southern states but are extremely rare.

    Nevertheless the CDC says you should assume the amoeba is present in warm fresh bodies of water.

    "No data exist to accurately estimate the true risk of PAM. Hundreds of millions of visits to swimming venues occur each year in the U.S. 29 that result in 0-8 infections per year," the CDC says on its website. "The extremely low occurrence of PAM makes epidemiologic study difficult; it is unknown why certain persons become infected with the amebae while millions of others exposed to warm recreational fresh waters do not."

    More Local Stories:



    Photo Credit: NBC 6 South Florida

    His family said Zachary had been knee boarding in a water-filled ditch by his home before he became very ill.His family said Zachary had been knee boarding in a water-filled ditch by his home before he became very ill.

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    Tens of thousands of people marched on D.C. streets Saturday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington -- and to rally for D.C. statehood.

    In rapid fire, speakers stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and called for all people to continue to pursue the dream of racial and socioeconomic equality King fought for 50 years ago.

    "This is not the time for nostalgic commemoration,'' said Martin Luther King III, the oldest son of the slain civil rights leader. "Nor is this the time for self-congratulatory celebration. The task is not done. The journey is not complete. We can and we must do more.''

    U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder paid tribute to the forerunners of the modern civil rights movement.

    “Their march is now our march, and it must go on,” Holder said. “But for them, I would not be Attorney General of the United States, and Barack Obama would not be President of the United States.”

    He spoke of criticisms of the Supreme Court’s decision in June to strike down a key anti-discrimination provision of 1965’s landmark Voting Rights Act, which triggered a wave of “cumbersome” voting laws in several states.

    “This morning, we affirm that struggle must and will go on until every eligible American has a chance to exercise his or her right to vote," said Holder, who sued Texas over a strict voter ID law on Thursday.

    House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) joined Newark Mayor Cory Booker, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Md.) in urging activists to advocate for equality and fairness, placing recent social debates in the context of King’s vision.

    “Many of our people still inhabit islands of poverty, are incapable of finding good jobs, have no voice in our democracy, because they are told they have no valid ID,” Hoyer said.

    Rev. Al Shaprton, a civil rights activist and host of PoliticsNation on MSNBC, spoke about the changes in the voting rights laws, the lack of a comprehensive jobs bill and the disillusioned attitudes of the youth of today.

    Referencing King’s quote in his “I Have A Dream” speech about America giving people “a check that has come back marked 'insufficient funds,’” Sharpton called for action to make lawmakers take notice about the financial disparity in the United States.

    “We’ve re-deposited the check. Well, guess what? It bounced again. But this time it was marked stop payment,” he said, addressing Congress with his words. “We’re going to make you make the check good or we’re going to close down the bank.”

    Sharpton also explained why he thought King spoke about dreams 50 years ago.

    “Dreams are for those who won’t accept reality. So they dream about what is not there, but will make it happen,” Sharpton said. “We must give us our young people dreams again. You build jails, closed schools and break their dream and you wonder why they are wearing saggy pants.”

    Bernice King, daughter of King, gave a prayer that included her father's words, "Free at last, free at last. Thank God almighty, we are free at last."

    After the prayer, the crowd gathered to march past the MLK Memorial and down Independence Avenue, ending near the Washington Monument.

    Following the rally, a Global Freedom Festival kicks off on the National Mall. All events are open to the public.

    These events kick of days of commemoration leading up to Wednesday, the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.

    But the National Action Network, one of the organizers of the event, has said they don’t want the event to be just a commemoration or a celebration, reported News4's Aaron Gilchrist. They want it to be a protest.

    They want to send a message to lawmakers and Congress to “realize the dream” -- pushing Congress to realize there is still work to be done on immigration, jobs, civil rights, and women’s issues.

    Reverend Jesse Jackson, a participant in the original march 50 years ago, said there were many barriers in those days that have fallen, but there are more barriers coming up today.

    “We’ve gone from being denied the right to vote to the crown jewel, President Barack (Obama) in the White House today. Yet beyond that, too many are facing abounding poverty, student loan debt, credit card debt,” Jackson said. “Now we need a focus on legislation and appropriations to revive the war on poverty and fight for a constitutional right to vote.”

    Jackson told Gilchrist that the progress made in the 50 years since the march has become fragile due to recent actions by legislators and courts.

    “There is a radical backlash on that progress. When they are taking precincts off campus, that’s a step backward,” he said. “People working, but working poor without resources. Closed plants at home and sending jobs abroad. Jobs out and drugs and guns in.”

    “We must fight now to sustain and rebuild our economy from the bottom up.”

    Voting rights are a major focus, as they were 50 years ago. But now, activists are focused on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision this year to strike down parts of the federal Voting Rights Act. Those provisions were originally passed to protect black voters in mostly Southern states.

    "We have seen the most aggressive attack on voting rights that we have seen in many, many years in this country," said Jotaka Eaddy, senior director of voting rights for the NAACP and an attendee at Saturday's events. "So we want to send a message ...  to make sure that Congress does everything in its power to fix section four of the Voting Rights Act."

    The commemoration of the March on Washington continues until Wednesday, 50 years to the day after the Great March and King's "Dream" speech, delivered at the Lincoln Memorial Aug. 28, 1963 to more than 250,000 civil rights activists

    President Obama will speak on Wednesday, as will former president Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. They will be joined by political and cultural figures including Congressman John Lewis, Ambassador Andrew Young and Oprah Winfrey.

    The anniversary has echoed throughout Washington, D.C. in ways large and small: Before standing before those thousands of people, King made major changes to his speech at The Willard Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue. So to commemorate the event, the hotel has loaned a wax statue of King from Madame Tussauds in D.C., greeting King's family members and other VIPs slated to stay at the hotel.

    The D.C. statehood message will be a major focus Saturday. King himself advocated for D.C. statehood and independence, and protestors calling for representation for D.C. were part of the March on Washington 50 years ago.

    Stay with News4 and NBCWashington.com for more special coverage throughout the weekend and week.



    Photo Credit: AP

    Crowds rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013. Fifty years ago, on the actual anniversary, April 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his Crowds rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013. Fifty years ago, on the actual anniversary, April 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

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    The 19-year-old son of a firefighter was arrested on suspicion of starting three brush fires, authorities said Monday.

    Updated Article: Arson Charges Filed Against Firefighter's Son

    Gabriel Michael Castillo, 19, of Anaheim Hills, Calif. was booked into Orange County Jail. He allegedly started three fires in Yorba Linda last week, according to a statement from the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

    No one was injured, and no structures were damaged in the fires, officials said.

    Castillo is the son of an 18-year veteran Orange County Fire Authority firefighter stationed in Santa Ana, according to the statement.

    The Orange County Fire Authority began investigating the case but handed over the investigation to the Sheriff's Department upon learning of Castillo's connection to a firefighter.

    Anyone with information about the case can call sheriff's investigators at 714-647-7000.

    More Southern California Stories:


    Gabriel Michael Castillo, 19, of Anaheim Hills was suspected of starting three brush fires in Yorba Linda in August 2013. He is the son of an OC firefighter.Gabriel Michael Castillo, 19, of Anaheim Hills was suspected of starting three brush fires in Yorba Linda in August 2013. He is the son of an OC firefighter.

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    Morton Bender is known for his generosity and willingness to help others. He's now asking for the public's help to find the man who saved his life.

    The 80-year-old Washington, D.C., businessman and philanthropist suffered a pulmonary embolism – a blood clot in the lung – and collapsed after leaving the Uptown Theater in northwest D.C. Aug. 19.

    His wife, Grace, caught him as he collapsed, ensuring his head didn't hit the sidewalk. She thought her husband of 34 years had taken his last breath.

    "In seconds, ice cold, soaking wet, not breathing," Grace said.

    But a mystery man was able to revive Morton before medics showed up by performing CPR. As he recovers at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Morton and his wife want to find and thank that man.

    "I'd like to thank the guy who made my chest so sore," Bender said. "He saved me ... more people out there should be like him."

    Doctors told the couple the Good Samaritan gave Morton a second chance at life.

    And that's exactly what they want to do. 

    "That man saved my husband," Grace said. "He needs to be commended and recognized as a Good Samaritan."


    Morton Bender is known for his generosity and willingness to help others. He's now asking for the public's help to find the man who saved his life.Morton Bender is known for his generosity and willingness to help others. He's now asking for the public's help to find the man who saved his life.

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    Parishioners of a Philadelphia Ukrainian Orthodox church say the four-alarm fire that destroyed millions of dollars in furniture and artifacts and left a gaping hole in the center of the historic building also revealed a miracle.

    "The fire was blazing, so when we saw the fire, we thought everything burned," Saint Mary the Protectress Ukrainian Orthodox Church treasurer and parishioner Pasha Prasko said. "But now that we can see inside, we looked at it and said it’s amazing so many icons are still there."

    Although a large portion of the church’s roof collapsed and more than 100 firefighters doused the building in water to tame the blaze, several icons remained untouched by the flames at the historic house of worship in the East Oak Lane section of the city on Sunday.

    "It's a holy place, you know, and it's just not damaged the way we thought it would be," Prasko said. "We even talked about it yesterday and said it would be a miracle if her icon would be saved; and here it is, saved. I think it’s a miracle."

    According to local historian Marita Krivda Poxon, in the Ukrainian Orthodox community, Saint Mary the Protectress is recognized as the protector of all Ukrainian people. A large painting of the Protectress and several other artifacts could be seen from the front door of the burned building in what appeared to be good condition.

    "The church has a large icon, and in the center of it is the Saint Mary the Protectress herself. Apparently she was the saint in the Ukraine that protected the people of the country of the Ukraine," Poxon said.

    "I think it’s a miracle that a few of the icons survived because they are mostly made of wood. I could only say that for believers they'll believe that it miraculously survived the fire; I mean the church burned, but her icon survived, and the congregation will survive. That's what it means to me."

    Philadelphia Firefighter Arthur Davis said he's never seen anything like it before.

    "Not one of those pictures caught on fire; not the ones on the wall, not the ones on the stage, not one of them was damaged," Davis said.

    "What happened was it started on the roof, the fire. But it's still amazing that with the collapse and all, this stuff is not burned. They could take it right off the wall; a lot of the pictures are still on the wall, the glass isn't broken or nothing. When it comes to fires, I've seen it all, but I've never seen nothing like this before."

    At one point, 125 firefighters and 33 engines were on the scene trying to get the fire under control. The cause of the fire has not yet been identified, but officials believe it was electrical.

    Father Taras Naumenko, pastor of St. Vladimir Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral on 5th and Independence Street, says his parish will be supporting St. Mary's members while its leaders work to determine a plan forward.

    "Their congregation will be holding their services at my parish until they figure out their future," Naumenko said.

    When asked what he thinks the future could hold for St. Mary's, he said, "I think it’s too soon to even think about what their future will be."

    John Prasko is chair of the parish board. He says the church is considering starting a fund to raise money, but says he's still unsure of any exact plans for rebuilding.

    "Tomorrow we will have a meeting with the board to see what we will do," he said. "At that time we will have to make several decisions about moving and rebuilding, but I don't know exactly what they'll be yet."

    Poxon says any attempt to rebuild would be difficult because of the historic elements of the church.

    "The interior could never be rebuilt the way it was," Poxon said. "My hope is that they don't tear it down, that they don't bulldoze it and somehow portions of it can be salvaged and rebuilt because it’s a beautiful building. There are just so few stone masons that could even do the work to rebuild here."

    Firefighters were still on the scene this afternoon removing large debris from the premises. Davis says church leaders should be allowed to enter the building to retrieve artifacts and mementos sometime this evening.



    Photo Credit: NBC10.com

    Amid a pile of scorched rubble, many of the icons at Saint Mary the Protectress Ukrainian Orthodox Church remained in tact after a four alarm fire torched much of the historic building on Sunday.Amid a pile of scorched rubble, many of the icons at Saint Mary the Protectress Ukrainian Orthodox Church remained in tact after a four alarm fire torched much of the historic building on Sunday.

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    One of the largest fires in California history has leapt into Yosemite National Park.

    Photo Credit: AP

    A burned SUV sits in front of a campground destroyed by the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Monday, Aug. 26, 2013. Crews working to contain one of California's largest-ever wildfires gained some ground Monday against the flames threatening San Francisco's water supply, several towns near Yosemite National Park and historic giant sequoias.A burned SUV sits in front of a campground destroyed by the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Monday, Aug. 26, 2013. Crews working to contain one of California's largest-ever wildfires gained some ground Monday against the flames threatening San Francisco's water supply, several towns near Yosemite National Park and historic giant sequoias.

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    Stay away!

    That's what the city of Ansonia's planning and zoning commission is saying about medical marijuana.

    Connecticut legalized it last year and at least five communities have approved or considered medical marijuana facilities.

    "We got enough as it is. You can probably go anywhere on the street and buy it," said Fred Mekdeci of Ansonia, reacting to tonight's decision that made sure no one will be growing medical marijuana in town for at least a year.

    Mekdeci is worried about the elements a facility would bring.

    "We could use a lot of jobs to be made but I don't think it's going to be beneficial by just growing marijuana," he said.

    But Daniel King of Ansonia disgrees, saying it's "something that could possibly create jobs or help out the community."

    The reaction was mixed tonight in the city. Joan Radin has owned Lear Pharmacy for more than 30 years.

    "We need to change things, we need to do something and medical marijuana is not the most important issue," said Radin.

    But this issue in Ansonia comes on the heels of Tuesday's special legislative committee meeting in Hartford where the state will decide whether to approve proposed growing operations on medical marijuana.

    "I want to see what the state guidelines are, what parameters are in place, what assurances are in place," said Bart Flaherty, chairman of the Zoning and Planning Commission.

    "There's nothing here. It's a dead dead town. We need more industry," said Mekdeci.

    Yet others believe that industry could come from a medical marijuana facility.

    "It's not like they're going to have a drive through window where they're going to be selling pot to the community," said King.

    The city wants to be able to review the regulations that the state sets forth and see how they will affect the city so they can come up with their own marijuana regulations.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    Police departments are joining forces to investigate more than a half dozen pharmacy robberies from northern Connecticut and western Massachusetts.

    Police said the crooks weren’t after the money.

    Surveillance cameras caught a suspect inside a CVS on Hazard Avenue in Enfield around 11 p.m. Sunday night. Police said he held a pharmacist at gunpoint and demanded drugs.

    Video shows the suspect behind the counter stuffing thousands of Oxycodone pills into a plastic bag. He escapes through the drive-thru window.

    “It’s nerve-wracking someone could come in at any time and you're life’s in danger,” said pharmacy employee Breanna Cimino. “I was looking at everybody, and questioning this person could do something... You never know."

    This isn't the first pharmacy hit in Enfield. Another store was robbed in early July, and just a few weeks ago, two men were captured at a Manchester Walgreens, where they allegedly stole $20,000 worth of narcotics.

    Stores in East Windsor and Westfield, Mass. also fell prey to the pharmacy thiefs. Detectives said the same pair could be behind responsible for all the incidents, and was most likely selling the stolen drugs on the streets for some quick cash.

    “If they think they can keep going it, they're going to keep doing it,” Cimino said.

    So far none of the pharmacy workers have been hurt in the holdups, but police said there was no telling what the suspects are capable of doing next, and they might become more violent.

    “When it comes to narcotics and people having dependency on their drugs they get desperate,” said Enfield Police Chief Carl Sferrazza.

    Investigators hope to find whoever is behind these crimes before violence erupts. Until then, shoppers and workers said they would be on high alert.

    Police in the five affected towns said they are working together to identify and locate the suspects and possibly link these crimes.



    Photo Credit: Enfield Police Department

    This man jumped the counter at a CVS on Route 190 in Enfield Sunday night and robbed the pharmacy of Oxycodone, according to police.This man jumped the counter at a CVS on Route 190 in Enfield Sunday night and robbed the pharmacy of Oxycodone, according to police.

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    As classes begin, many parents all over the state wonder if their kids are any safer after the shooting at Sandy Hook that took the lives of 20 children and six educators in December.

    "It makes you a little nervous," said Enfield High School parent Louise Mastroianni. "You give them a little extra kiss and hug goodbye and still hope that at the end of the day they're going to come home on the bus."

    "I was very worried for my own kids because it could happen right here," said Enfield High School parent Wendy Leonardo.

    To prevent a similar situation from ever happening in Enfield, the town has upped security.

    A security committee comprised of Enfield police and fire officials, the town Board of Education and Town Councilmembers has devised a two-prong approach in an effort to keep everyone safe.

    They've hardened school buildings, reinforcing certain windows and doors.

    And when the school year begins, all 14 schools in Enfield will be equipped with an armed security officer reporting directly to police. Officials say the armed guards are all retired law enforcement personnel with 20-to-30 years of experience.

    The town has hired 18 armed guards, and the positions are part-time.

    "It's going to be a more safer community for not only students but teachers as well," said Enfield HS Freshman Kayla Gilbert.

    The cost to hire these officers is about $500,000 according to Enfield Police Chief Carl Sferrazza.

    The two high schools and middle school already have a police officer on site, and some parents wonder if adding guards will really make a difference.

    "I don't think having an armed guard is going to stop anybody. If they want to get in, I think they're going to get in," said high school parent Debby Miller.

    But some say just knowing there's an armed presence prepared for any hazards will deter someone looking to do harm.

    "If somebody knows there's a cop carrying a gun, they're going to think twice," said parent Charles Travali.

    Chief Sferrazza said that after two years, they'll evaluate the program to determine if it should be continued or enhanced.

    He said the armed security officers will carry the same gun as Enfield police. They'll also have a ballistic vest and portable radio to communicate with the police department.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    A flight attendant pleaded guilty Monday to making false bomb threats against several United Airlines flights, causing flight delays and intensive searches of passengers, authorities said.

    Patrick Cau, also known as Patrick Kaiser, a 40-year-old German citizen living in Los Angeles, pleaded guilty to one count of false information and hoaxes, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office.

    As part of a plea agreement, he faces up to five years in federal prison and he will be forced to pay $267,912 in restitution to United Airlines. He also faces deportation.

    His sentencing was scheduled for Nov. 18.

    Cau admitted to making the false bomb threats from October 2012 to January 2013. He used pay phones in several U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, New York City, Las Vegas and Seattle, according to the statement.

    "As a direct result of Cau's threats, United experienced substantial disruption to its business operations and services, including cancellations of and delays to flights, transfer of aircraft, and significant inconveniences to United passengers," the statement said.

    Cau was also expected to be ordered to pay an undetermined amount of restitution to law enforcement agencies that responded to the bomb threats.

    More Southern California Stories:


    A German citizen living in Los Angeles who worked as a flight attendant pleaded guilty Monday, Aug. 16, 2013, to making false bomb threats against several United Airlines flights.A German citizen living in Los Angeles who worked as a flight attendant pleaded guilty Monday, Aug. 16, 2013, to making false bomb threats against several United Airlines flights.

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