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U.S. Launches Airstrikes to Aid American-Trained Syrian Rebels


Syrian rebels, recently trained by the U.S. military, came under heavy fire Friday in northern Syria and for the first time called in U.S. airstrikes to repel the enemy.

U.S. military officials tell NBC News the Free Syrian forces were attacked Friday morning by about 50 al Nusra fighters. Under siege, the Syrian moderates issued a desperate plea to the U.S. military.

American warplanes quickly responded, launching airstrikes driving away the enemy forces. U.S. officials would not provide the number of U.S.-trained Syrian rebels or the location of today's attack.

No Charges for 2 Officers in Ohio Man Shooting


The two University of Cincinnati police officers who arrived on scene just after a fellow officer shot and killed an unarmed driver will not face charges, a prosecutor announced Friday.

Officers David Lindenschmidt and Phillip Kidd responded when UC police officer Ray Tensing fatally shot Samuel DuBose after a traffic stop on July 19. Tensing was indicted on a murder charge on Wednesday and pleaded not guilty.

But a grand jury did not return charges against Lindenschmidt and Kidd, Hamilton County prosecutor Joseph T. Deters said Friday. 

Firefighter Dies While Battling California Wildfire: Officials


A South Dakota firefighter died while helping battle a wildfire in California, officials said Friday.

David Ruhl, a firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service, died Thursday while on assignment at the Frog Fire burning in the Modoc National Forest, just outside Alturas in Northern California.

Search and rescue was conducted late Thursday until the firefighter was found Friday morning, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

"This loss of life is tragic and heartbreaking," U.S. Forest Service Supervisor Amanda McAdams said in a statement. "Please keep the family and all of our Forest Service employees in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."

Ruhl served as an engine captain on the Mystic Ranger District of the Black Hills National Forest in Rapid City, South Dakota.

On June 14, Ruhl was temporarily assigned to the Big Valley Ranger District of the Modoc National Forest as an assistant fire management officer.

The Frog Fire erupted in the Modoc National Forest Thursday afternoon and had grown to more than 800 acres by late Friday, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

News of Ruhl's death comes on the same day California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in response to the severe wildfires burning across the state.

“Anne and I were saddened to learn of the tragic death of U.S. Forest Service Firefighter Dave Ruhl, who left his home state to help protect one of California’s majestic forests," California Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement. "Firefighter Ruhl will be remembered for his service and bravery and we extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues with the U.S. Forest Service.”

Ruhl is survived by his wife, Erin, and their two children. He worked for the U.S. Forest Service for 14 years and previously served in the U.S. Coast Guard, according to Brown's statement.

The U.S. Forest Service is investigating Ruhl's death.

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Meth Pills Were in In-n-Out Drink, Man Claims in Lawsuit


In-n-Out Burger has been sued by a man who alleges he found meth in the bottom of his drink, according to a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles.

The incident allegedly occurred on the night of March 9, 2014, when Fred Maldonado, of Carlsbad, ordered a burger and drink from a Southern California In-n-Out. An executive for the restaurant chain has called the claim "baseless."

Maldonado then returned to his nearby motel, where he drank half the beverage and went to sleep. When he awoke the next morning, he emptied the rest of the drink and allegedly found two pills and a napkin at the bottom of the cup, according to the lawsuit filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court.

When Maldonado returned the cup and its contents to the In-n-Out location, located at 8767 Firestone Blvd. in Downey, the manager apologized and offered him a gift certificate for a free burger, according to the lawsuit.

Though Maldonado was unaware of what the blue gelatin capsules were at the time, later testing found that they contained methamphetamine, according to toxicology findings from last August submitted by Maldonado's lawyer, G. Patrick Connors III. The napkin and the cup both tested positive for methamphetamine in a test conducted by Utica Toxicology Service.

"The beverage served by defendants to plaintiff was not clean, wholesome, and free from harmful or injurious foreign substances but instead, unknown to plaintiff, contained hazardous and unhealthful foreign substances, namely two capsules of methampetamine and a napkin that was unfit for human consumption," the lawsuit stated.

A picture of the capsules and napkin allegedly found in the drink were provided by Connors.

Maldonado did not ingest the pills, but did suffer nausea and serious injuries to his health, as well as mental distress, as a result of consuming the drink, according to his lawyer.

In-n-Out has denied the allegations.

“At In-N-Out Burger, we have always served the freshest, highest quality burgers, fries, and drinks and customer safety is one of our highest priorities. We will vigorously defend these baseless claims. Due to the fact that this matter involves ongoing litigation, we will unfortunately not be able to comment any further,” In-n-Out Executive Vice-President Arnie Wensinger said.

Maldonado has sued for unspecified damages.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of G. Patrick Connors III

Cop Rescues Girl, 2, From Hot Car


A Bergen County Sheriff's officer rescued a wailing, sweat-soaked toddler from inside a locked minivan parked at a Costco in New Jersey on a sweltering afternoon Thursday.

Concerned passersby in the parking lot at the Hackensack Costco began gathering around the minivan, and at least two tried to push down a window, which was already cracked a few inches, cellphone video shows. The child's cries can be heard from inside the car.

One of the men seen trying to get in through the window, Rafael Rodriguez, recounted to NBC 4 New York, "I'm telling the [kid], 'Don't cry, we're gonna get you out.' The boy was drenched in sweat and crying constantly." 

Police officers begin to arrive and one smashes the window on the rear right side, pulls open the sliding door, and another goes into the car to retrieve the child.

"Where are the parents?" asked one bystander.

"I think shopping," another says.

"Are you...kidding me?" he responds.

As the officer emerges from the minivan with a small, crying boy in her arms, the bystanders are stunned.

"Oh, my God," says the woman taping the scene.

The distressed child cries in the arms of the officer, who rubs his back and says he's "soaking wet." The boy's hair appears to be matted to her forehead with sweat.

"Sweat was just coming down, almost as if someone threw a bucket of water on [him], that's how bad it was," said Rodriguez.

Seconds later, the boy's mother arrives at the vehicle with a loaded shopping cart and another child. The officer holding the boy scolds the mother: "You left [him] in the car!"

The mother says "sorry, sorry," and the officer responds, "No 'Sorry!' [He] could have died!" 

It's unclear how long the 2-year-old boy was inside the locked car. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the temperature inside a car, even with the windows open, can jump about 20 degrees in 10 minutes. 

An officer estimated it was at least 80 degrees inside the van, according to Bergen County Sheriff's Office. Temperatures outside hit 90 degrees, though, according to meteorologists.

Rodriguez said it was clear the mother was gone for awhile.

"I thought maybe she forgot something that she was gonna grab. I was surprised to see the shopping cart was full," he said.

The boy was taken to Hackensack University Medical Center and turned over to his father, the sheriff's office said.

Police arrested the mother for child endangerment and released her with a desk ticket.

*EDITOR'S NOTE: Authorities initially said the child was a girl, but they clarified Friday the child was a boy.

Photo Credit: Arislyeda Pena

Children in Hot Cars Vulnerable to Heatstroke


At least 30 times every year, a child is left in a hot car in the U.S., vulnerable to heatstroke and damage to organs faster than you might realize.

"The temperature in a car can exceed 130, to even as much as 170 degrees, in a relatively short time," said Dr. Tom Nowicki of Hartford Hospital. "In as little as 15 to 30 minutes, that temp elevates."

Hartford Hospital uses simulators in training how to handle symptoms of heatstroke.

"The body starts out trying to respond to the heat by sweating, the blood circulation in the skin increases, the heart rate increases, we can quickly develop symptoms of heat related illness like heavy muscle cramping, nausea, even confusion and unconsciousness," Nowicki said.

It went beyond that July 7, 2014, for 15-month-old Benjamin Seitz, whose father forgot to drop him off at child care and went to his office in Ridgefield, leaving the boy strapped into his car seat. Kyle Seitz was convicted of criminally negligent homicide.

For national heatstroke prevention day in Washington, Reginald McKinnon explained what he goes through whenever he hears someone else did what he did and left a child in a hot car.

"It can really destroy a family. To me, it's really painful," he said.

Man Stole Power at Building Where Torso Was Found: Cops


A 46-year-old man has been arrested for stealing electricity at the vacant Salvation Army building in New Haven where police found a headless torso while investigating the dismemberment of a homeless man earlier this week.

David Andaz, also known as David Pollack, was arrested Wednesday for third-degree burglary and theft of utility services at the former Salvation Army facility at 301 George Street. He was also charged with violating his probation.

Police said Andaz is one of several people questioned in relation to the death of Ray Roberson, whose severed legs were found near the State Street Railroad Station earlier this month. A pair of arms found blocks away are likely also those of Roberson, according to police.

Authorities investigating the case found a human torso at 301 George Street after learning that Roberson may have visited or stayed in the building. It's not clear whether the torso is Roberson's.

Andaz has not been charged in or directly linked to the dismemberment case. Police said they arrested him when they arrived to search the building and discovered the facility had working electricity. Andaz was there when police arrived.

Court records show Andaz was previously charged with second-degree breach of peace in connection with an incident that occurred March 5. He has pleaded not guilty and is due back in court the morning of Aug. 3.

Andaz is being held on $500,000 bond in connection with Wednesday's arrest.

Police said they continue to investigate the dismemberment case and "there are a great amount of resources being devoted to solving it." Investigators are still searching buildings on George Street and Crown Street for clues.

Police are asking anyone with information on the case to call detectives at 203-946-6304. Callers may remain anonymous.

Photo Credit: New Haven Police Department

Islanders Flock to 'Special' Beach After Debris Find


The rocky shoreline where the first possible debris from Flight MH370 was found has captured the imagination of local residents, some of whom wandered in search of more pieces Saturday, NBC News reported.

Bottles and plastic waste are a common feature of the stony Plage de Colosse, which lies on the east coast of this island paradise, facing the currents of the Indian Ocean.

"It's incredible," said Jean-Renee Lativel, a realtor who turned beachcomber for the day in the hope of finding something from the missing Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777. "This is could be such an important and special place now, especially for all those families. It could be the denouement of this long drama."

The airplane part arrived in France on Saturday, but investigators in France are not expected to begin examining the debris until Wednesday. However, there are already many here that are convinced that their coastline has finally unlocked the mystery of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane — and the whereabouts of the 239 people on board.

Photo Credit: Alastair Jamieson / NBC News

Drivers Advised to Avoid East Hill Road in Canton During Construction


Canton officials are asking residents not to park on East Hill Road in Canton during scheduled construction for next week.

Weather-permitting, crews will be grading and paving East Hill Road between Albany Turnpike and Dowd Avenue Monday, Aug. 3 to Friday, Aug. 7.

Construction will be going on there from 7 a.m. 5 p.m. during those days.

Drivers are asked to avoid the area and are warned of likely delays in the area.

Only local traffic and emergency personnel will be permitted through.

Public works officials will be on site to the direct traffic.

Anyone with questions can contact the public works department at 860-693-7863 for more information.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

South Windsor Firefighters Respond to Church Fire


South Windsor firefighters responded to a fire at a church in town Saturday morning.

They were called to St. Peter Episcopal Church at 109 Sand Hill Road at 7:18 a.m. on Saturday after a passerby smelled smoke and drove into the church parking lot to see smoke rising from the building. The smoke wasn't visible from the street, the caller reported.

A South Windsor police officer responding to the scene confirmed that a fire was underway at the church. When South Windsor firefighters arrived, heavy smoke was billowing from the basement and first floor. No one was in the building at the time.

The basement serves as a storage and work shop area at the church and there are religious educational classrooms, administrative offices and day care areas on the first floor, according to the fire department.

The fire didn't spread to the upper floors or the sanctuary, but there was smoke and heat damage on the upper floors.

Manchester, Ellington and Broad Brook firefighters also responded for mutual aid. Manchester, Vernon and East Hartford firefighters also covered South Windsor's stations.

No injuries are reported.

The fire remains under investigation.

NAACP 'Journey for Justice' March


Fifty years later, the scene from Selma's Bloody Sunday march still leaves a dark stain on United States history. Four months from its anniversary commemoration, the NAACP says the march for voting rights is not yet finished.

As Congress prepares to go back into session, thousands are expected to put their feet to the pavement this summer to join the NAACP in "America's Journey for Justice" to demand federal protection of civil rights for all Americans.

The march will kick off Saturday at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the setting for Selma's Bloody Sunday, and will culminate in a rally at the nation's Capitol where they plan to shout: "Our lives, our votes, our jobs, our schools matter."

Photo Credit: Getty Images

I-84 Project Prompting Concerns to Finish Early


Four months into a project to widen Interstate 84, the Department of Transportation is already hearing concerns. They held a public listening session in Waterbury on Saturday. The goal was to find out what they could do to make the construction less of a headache for drivers. People brought many different concerns, from safety to economic impact.

"This is a big project. They’re biting off a lot,” said Nick Coscia, a longtime Waterbury resident. “I’m deeply concerned about the workers, I’m deeply concerned about the public. I’m concerned about the community."

In April, the DOT started on a five-year project to add a third lane in both directions of the interstate through Waterbury. Eight bridges will be constructed and safety measures, like new lighting and message boards will be added. Many said they support the project because it’s badly needed to relieve congestion. According to the DOT, 125,000 people travel on I-84 though Waterbury each day.

“There’s just too many cars on the road. It wasn’t like this 20-30 years ago. Now, it’s just expanded with cars and cars and cars,” said Valentine Stachowki, of Canton.

“I’ve noticed the problem for quite some time,” said Peter Valez, who owns the Brooklyn Bakery in Waterbury. “I don’t try to avoid it. Actually I do.”

Valez said he hasn’t noticed a negative impact to his business so far, due to the construction. Project engineer Chris Zowkoski said the biggest impact will be felt when the on-ramp from Hamilton Avenue to I-84 eastbound is closed for nine months in 2016.

Even those who support the project said they want the state to address some of the problems the construction has created. The mayor of Prospect said drivers are cutting through his town to avoid the construction all together. Opting to get on the interstate in Cheshire.

“It clogs our town. From around 2 o’clock to 6:15 the town’s almost at a standstill,” said Prospect Mayor Robert Chatfield.

A spokesperson for the project said they’re open to suggestions that make the project less intrusive.

Zokowski predicts construction will be done in August of 2019, 10 months ahead of schedule. He said crews are working 21 hours a day five to six days a week to finish up early.
There won't be much of a reprieve though. The DOT said reconstruction of the "mix master," where Route 8 merges with I-84 in Waterbury, will start as the widening project is wrapping up.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Crash Closes Ocean Avenue in West Haven


Ocean Avenue is closed in West Haven due to a crash involving a car and a motorcycle.

The road is closed at Dawson Avenue.

It's unknown whether there are any injuries.

No further details were immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

Conservation Group Fears Cecil the Lion's 'Brother' Killed


The brother of a famed lion that was killed by an American dentist in early July was feared dead after a conservation group said it had been fatally shot.

"It is with huge disgust and sadness that we have just been informed that Jericho, Cecil's brother has been killed" at 4 p.m. (10 a.m. ET), the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said in a statement on Facebook.

But there was a conflicting report from another local wildlife organization that said that Jericho did not appear to be killed. Brent Stapelkamp, with the SATIB Conservation Trust's Hwange Lion Research, said that the creature's GPS was sending a signal and the lion appeared to be alive, according to Reuters.

Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Unit, which studied Cecil, said it was trying to get information about Jericho.

"We are seeking to clarify conflicting reports," an Oxford spokeswoman told NBC News via email.

NBC News has not independently confirmed the killing or that the lions were brothers. The Associated Press previously said that Cecil "befriended" Jericho, and the two lions cared for two prides together.

The announcement follows an international outcry stemming from an American hunter's killing of Cecil, a lion that was allegedly lured out of a national park.

Zimbabwean authorities say the hunt was illegal and are seeking the extradition of Minnesota dentist Walter James Palmer.

Photo Credit: Rex Features via AP Images
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Joe Biden Considering 2016 Presidential Run: Reports


Vice President Joe Biden, inspired in part by his late son, has been holding meetings at his Washington home to discuss challenging Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

Biden has said publicly he would make a decision at the end of the summer but the Times said the vice president and his associates were actively exploring getting in the race.

The Times, citing several people who have spoken with him and his advisers, said the Biden camp was contacting Democratic leaders and donors who have not firmly committed to Clinton, the clear leader among the five Democrats who have entered the race, or might be concerned about her prospects. 

Suitcase Found on Reunion Island to Be DNA Tested


Technicians will look for DNA on a suitcase fragment found on Reunion Island, the French territory where plane debris possibly connected to missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 washed up, officials say.

The National Gendarmerie Press office confirmed to NBC News that the suitcase piece was sent to the Criminal Research Institute of the National Gendarmerie in Pointoise, northwest of Paris, where technicians will attempt to extract DNA to see if it matches any samples collected from the families of passengers who disappeared on MH370.

The suitcase remnants were found Thursday, one day after a piece of aircraft was recovered on the shoreline of Reunion, which lies about 560 miles east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.

Man Documents His Weight Loss


When Chicago documentary-maker Kenneth Yoder first began his fitness transformation on the cusp of his 40th birthday, he weighed 175 pounds with 24 percent body fat.

"I was rocking a pretty solid 'S' curve. That's belly, you know what I mean?" Yoder said.

Now, just four months later, he weights 160 pounds with 10 percent body fat. Yoder lost a total of 15 pounds, but he added a whopping 10 pounds of solid muscle.

Yoder embarked on this journey as part of a documentary project about what it takes to transform into a fitness model. The upcoming documentary stars Yoder himself as the main character.

"If I was going to invest all this time making a film, I didn't want to just do it with someone I didn't know, so I was like, 'it's gotta be me,'" Yoder said.

The end goal for Yoder, besides the documentary itself, was to compete in the World Beauty Fitness and Fashion Inc. bodybuilding competition July 18 at the Harris Theater, which he did with sound success.

But how did Yoder make such a striking transformation in so short a time?

Over the course of the four-month challenge, Yoder ate six carefully planned, protein-packed meals each day as well as took part in boot camps on how to pose properly and workouts that left him in agony.

Chicago trainer Dusten Nelson oversaw Yoder's grueling diet and workout plans, and he made him stick to it throughout the transformation period. But despite the support of a trainer, Yoder experienced several low points along the way, including ending up on his knees in the bathroom in the middle of workouts.

After all the hard work, however, Yoder said he feels like he added years to his life.

"I'm going to live longer. I feel that way!" he said.

Yoder said the key to overcoming all of the struggles along the way was support from his wife, from Nelson and from the other Chicagoans who were training for the bodybuilding competition, too.

Now that the competition is over, Yoder said he will keep some of the habits he developed during the training period, such as packing nutritious meals to-go instead of buying unhealthy food.

"There's so many things you learn that you just kind of can't unlearn about how to eat and how to approach challenges with positivity," Yoder said.

From here, Yoder's plan is to tell the story of his journey in an in-depth documentary called "Poser."

Several Connecticut State Parks At Capacity


Some Connecticut state parks have closed to further visitors Saturday after reaching full capacity.

Squantz State Park in New Fairfield, Miller's Pond State Park in Durham and Wadsworth Falls State Park in Middletown had all reached full capacity by 2:30 p.m.

You can follow the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection on Twitter at @CTDEPoutdoorrec for timely information on beach and state park closures.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Man Killed in Guilford Crash


A man was killed in an accident in Guilford early Saturday morning.

Guilford police and firefighters responded to reports of a possible rollover crash in the 600 block of Little Meadow Road at 3:47 a.m. on Aug. 1.

When they arrived, they found a man stuck in the vehicle. Guilford firefighters and EMS personnel extricated him from the car and took him to Yale-New Haven Hospital. He was later pronounced dead there.

Police have not released the man's name.

Guilford Police Department's crash investigation unit is working to determine the cause of the crash. The fatal accident remains under investigation.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Carbon Monoxide Levels Back to Normal in Trumbull After Increase Detected


Trumbull firefighters discovered heightened carbon monoxide levels in the area of Plumb Creek Road in town on Friday and believe construction was a factor. 

Crews spent the day surveying the area as a precaution following a "localized incident" and concluded an extensive investigation at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday. By Sunday, the carbon monoxide levels were "well within normal ranges."

Investigators said they believe the "carbon monoxide  found in the air may have been caused by construction in the area that allowed a pocket of carbon monoxide gas to be released from the bedrock, affecting the local area."

The Trumbull Center, Long Hill and Nichols volunteer fire departments worked with Trumbull's police, EMS personnel, health department, emergency management officials, fire marshals, first selectman and engineering team, as well as the United States Environmental Protection Agency, CT West Incident Management Team, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Fairfield County Hazardous Material Team, United Illuminating, Southern CT Gas, Aquarian Water Co., Call Before You Dig, the state's Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, state of Connecticut's fire marshals office and the state of Connecticut fire plan.

The fire department is directing the public to www.cdc.gov/co/faqs.htm for more information on carbon monoxide and advises all homes install working carbon monoxide detectors.

Anyone with questions can contact the Trumbull fire department.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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