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Connecticut Roads Among Worst in Country: Report


A new White House report shows Connecticut roads are among the worst in the nation and that car repairs are costing drivers in this state big bucks.

According to the report, 41 percent of Connecticut roads are in poor condition. That number ties Rhode Island for the worst percentage of poor roads in the country. Also, 35 percent of bridges in Connecticut are deficient, the report says.

The lack of road maintenance is costing drivers in this state about $660 per year for extra car repairs, according to the report.

Drivers aren’t surprised.

“My jeep goes all over the place. I have to hang on and drop down speed because it’s ridiculous,” said Nancy Rys of New Britain.

The report comes out as a federal trust fund for road repairs is expected to run out. If lawmakers don’t authorize more funding, nearly 10,000 construction jobs in Connecticut are at risk, according to the report.

While roads in Connecticut may be a bumpy ride, the state DOT says the report does not mean they are unsafe.

DOT Spokesman Kevin Nursick says a “poor” rating is a measure of roadway roughness.

Nursick released the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

“The CTDOT has a billion dollar-plus highway capital plan annually, focusing on a multitude of infrastructure needs. Our program is balanced, but is geared toward addressing the most critical and important needs first, with safety issues being our highest priority. While road roughness/rideability indexes would ideally be perfect or better than we are currently rated, it does not reflect a safety issue, nor the overall quality or efficiency of our infrastructure – it's only one measure, among many. There are virtually limitless infrastructure needs, and of course, finite funding resources. We prioritize those resources to best address the most pressing needs of our state.”

Photo Credit: NBC Philadelphia

2-Alarm Fire Breaks Out at Vernon Apartment


Davis Avenue was closed in Vernon on Tuesday evening while crews battled a two-alarm fire at an apartment complex, according to the fire department.

A fire captain at the scene said flames broke out in the kitchen at 78 Davis Avenue. Firefighters received the emergency call around 5:30 p.m. and had the fire knocked down within half an hour.

Residents made it out safely, Vernon police said. No one was injured.

Firefighters are clearing the scene and the road is reopening.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Crash Closes Berlin Turnpike North in Newington


The northbound side of the Berlin Turnpike is closed between Griswoldville Avenue and Ann Street in Newington after a car struck a pole, according to police.

Police said no one was injured. Authorities are at the scene.

No additional information was immediately available.

CCMC Nurse Accused of Covering Up Child Abuse at Home


A 36-year-old nurse at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center is facing charges after reportedly trying to hide the fact that a young boy was abused by a man in her home, according to police and a spokesperson for the hospital.

Sirializ Ortero was arrested and charged with risk of injury to a minor and cruelty to a person. Police said she tried to conceal the boy’s injuries.

Robert Fraleigh, a spokesperson for Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, issued the following statement Tuesday afternoon:

"We just became aware of this development and we are currently gathering more information related to it. Until we have all the facts, it would be premature to comment any further."

No additional information was immediately available.

ConnectiCon Attendees Robbed at Gunpoint: Police


A woman and two friends in the city for ConnectiCon over the weekend were robbed at gunpoint by a group of young men while walking along Pearl Street around 3:30 Sunday morning, according to Hartford police.

Deputy Chief Brian Foley said police stepped up patrols as they always do in advance of Convention Center events, and clarified that the robbery did not happen anywhere near the Convention Center, which closes at midnight.

"We try to provide the best protection for our city 24 hours a day, especially to our events and people coming in to our city" Foley said.

In a blog post, one of the alleged victims describes the armed robbery as "one of the most terrifying experiences of my life." She suggests that other conventioneers were also robbed but police say no other convention-related crimes were reported.

The blogger also suggests organizers of ConnectiCon should have provided more security to and from hotels where convention-related events were held.

Foley said some hotels did hire Hartford police to provide extra security over the weekend, but not the Hilton closest to the scene of the armed robbery, which hosted a number of convention-related events.

ConnectiCon had not returned a request for comment at the time of publication.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Wethersfield Hotel Promoted Prostitution: Police


It's a shocking case Wethersfield police began investigating a year ago: Investigators accuse hotel management of advancing prostitution at a Comfort Inn on the Silas Deane Highway.

In August 2013, police say a prostitute staying at the hotel told them "the owner and managers of the hotel were involved in organized prostitution, having numerous prostitutes staying there and working, from which [the owner and managers] were profiting."

Five people have been arrested, including 29-year-old Jaimin Malaviya, who is identified as the hotel's general manager, and 44-year-old Nathaniel Reeves, a former manager.

Malaviya faces charges of promoting prostitution and racketeering. Reeves was charged with promoting prostitution.

In court documents, officers say the two led the group and would advertise girls on Web sites, then set up rooms for clients at the motel.

In recorded conversations, Reeves allegedly said, "I never should have gotten involved in prostitution... But well, I can't talk about it on the phone."

Reeves reportedly officers that Malaviya brought him in to the prostitution business.

Police also arrested 40-year-old Josue Arroyo, who is charged with promoting prostitution and racketeering, 36-year-old Marggie Laboy, charged with prostitution, and 24-year-old Jessica Leanne Lyons, also charged with prostitution.

According to court documents, Lyons told police she worked out of the hotel a few weeks at a time over the past two years and that "all of the employees at the Comfort Inn know what's going on there as far as prostitution goes."

She reportedly went on to say that cleaning staff even asked her to "throw some money their way in terms of tips."

Police said Malaviya would rent rooms to prostitutes and pimps at a heavily discounted rate.

Court documents show that Reeves indicated to police that "Malaviya's motivation for allowing and advancing prostitution by giving discounted rates to known prostitutes and pimps was to keep steady money coming in to the hotel," and that the only reason Malaviya didn't make more was because Reeves began hiding the money he was making.

Photo Credit: Wethersfield Police Department

Mom With Heart Defect Gives Birth


A baby born to a Maryland mom is being hailed as a miracle because of his mom's rare heart condition, and the unlikely success of his birth.

New mom Shanelle Ragin was born with a single ventricle in her heart, a condition that would prevent it from ever properly pumping blood — but her congenital defect was fixed thanks to a life-saving operation called Fontan when she was just a day old.

Her own mother, Terri Ragin, recalled her fear for her daughter. "You're scared, very scared, and couldn't believe that they could do surgery on a little person," Terri Ragin said.

Though Fontan fixed Shanelle's heart, side effects remained. As a child, she had a tough time breathing just going up a flight of stairs — let alone trying to play with friends or participating in sports. She has to take medication for the rest of her life.

Still, the special operation not only allowed her to live but also to eventually start a family of her own.

Two months ago, she delivered Carter Ragin — though doctors weren’t sure Shanelle and her baby would survive.

When she became unexpectedly pregnant, doctors were alarmed. They warned her that pregnancy could mean the risk of death.


"It's one thing for half a heart to function for one individual, but now she's growing a baby inside of her as well," said Dr. Anitha John, a congenital heart defect specialist at Children’s National Health System.

Ragin was at risk for developing heart failure, especially during labor, when stress on the heart is increased, John said.

But a team of doctors and nurses, including OB/GYN Melissa Freiss from MedStar Washington Hospital Center, believed Shanelle could survive delivery and give birth to a healthy baby.

"It was somewhat of a gamble on her part and on our part," Freiss said.

After almost nine months of intense monitoring and bed rest, Carter was born under the watchful supervision of almost a dozen doctors and nurses. He weighed just more than five pounds but was healthy and had a perfect little heart.

"I felt really proud of Shanelle,” Freiss said. “I think in a way, having a baby, a healthy beautiful baby like Carter, is an affirming part that you are a normal woman."

Photo Credit: NBCWashington.com

Disabled Woman Struck in Hamden Hit-and-Run



Hamden Police are searching for a hit-and-run driver who fled the scene after striking a disabled woman Friday morning.


They say the driver hit Liz Ingraham while she was crossing State Street in Hamden. Investigators say the driver of the car did get out and check on Ingraham, but when she said she was all right, the man took off.

However, Ingraham was not alright. She suffered a cracked vertebrae, and required 50 stitches in her thigh.

"Unfortunately Liz is special needs, was very upset, very scared that she did something wrong," Ray Ingraham, the victim's brother, told NBC Connecticut. "You know that they were this far from doing the right thing," he added.

It was a routine disrupted for Ingraham.

"That's her usual walk," her brother added. "She walks down. Goes to Krauszer's, shops, goes to Dunkin Donuts."

Police are now seeking the driver of that vehicle, and looking at surveillance video from the Krauszer's Food Store to see if it will give them any leads on the car.

Ingraham is a familiar face to people in the community, who are hoping the driver is caught quickly.

"She did get injured and if anybody knows anything about Liz or the accident. Please come forward," said Jeff Roy, who knows Liz from the neighborhood.

"She's my first customer at 5 o'clock in the morning, gets a coke," said Krauszer's employee Chetna Bhakta. She describes Ingraham as nice and honest and couldn't fathom she was the one who got hit

Ray Ingraham says his sister is resting at home--one she's had and kept on her own for ten years. But he questions how she will cope moving forward after this traumatic incident.

"But again how is she going to live at home again. How is she going to get through this?" Ingraham said. "Will she feel safe at 630 in the morning, will she feel confident enough to walk across the street herself it's going to be a hurdle for her?"

Hamden police will only tell us that the car is a Nissan. Residents in the area believe it may be red.



Photo Credit: Ray Ingraham

Lightning Strikes Waterbury Home


Lightning melted the siding of a home on Beth Lane in Waterbury as thunderstorms moved through the area Tuesday afternoon.

No one was injured, but a lightning bolt singed the back of the home, which caught fire when it was struck, according to the homeowner.

The homeowner said his kids were home and using their computers when the house was struck.

They said they felt an electric current run through their bodies at the moment of impact, then grabbed a fire extinguisher when they saw the flames, according to the homeowner.

Storms brought heavy rain, thunder and lightning to parts of western and central Connecticut, triggering a First Alert Weather Day.

Severe weather watches have been in effect throughout the day and we could see some flooding this evening as another round of storms moves in.

When you see severe weather, send photos to shareit@nbcconnecticut.com.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Storms Leave Thousands Without Power


Thousands are without power as storms sweep the state, and heavy rainfall could cause flooding.

Flood watches are in effect for Middlesex, New Haven, New London, Tolland and Windham counties through Wednesday afternoon.

Meteorologist Ryan Hanrahan said storms are capable of producing damaging winds of up to 60 mph, small hail and heavy rain, with pockets of downpours and flash flooding. Conditions will continue to deteriorate until about midnight, Hanrahan said.

According to the Connecticut Light & Power outage map, 1,670 homes were without power in Branford, along with nearly 700 in Old Saybrook and almost 600 in Clinton as of 11 p.m. Tuesday.

CL&P said all available crews headed to the shoreline to repair downed wires and restore power.

More than 1,800 homes, were also without power in New Haven, according to the United Illuminating outage map. This comprises 38 percent of the city's population.

Some 3,300 homes in Colchester and 2,600 in Hebron were also without power earlier Tuesday evening, according to the outage map. Hanrahan said this represents more than half the towns' populations.

CL&P said the outages are weather related and they're still working to assess the damage.

Lightning struck a home in Waterbury earlier Tuesday, melting the siding and causing a fire to break out, according the homeowner.

Storms also brought down a tree on Blake Street in New Haven, closing the road near the intersection with Diamond Street, and a power line came down on Route 145 in Clinton, authorities said.

Gov. Dannel Malloy issued the following statement with regards for the forecast:

“We continue to be in a very active, severe weather pattern. I am asking all residents, especially those living in low-lying, flood-prone areas, to stay alert to changing weather conditions.”

A spokesperson for Malloy's office said we could receive 1-3 inches of rain per hour, and the state Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security is keeping an eye on weather conditions.

It comes just hours after storms brought thunder and heavy rain Monday night, flooding some roads for the morning commute, particularly in New Haven.

Ella T. Grasso Boulevard was closed Tuesday morning at Interstate 95 due to flooding.

The city has set up two water pumps in the eastern part of the city, on Dean Street and Morris Causeway, in case flooding recurs today, according to the mayor's office. The fire department and emergency management center are monitoring weather conditions.

A fallen tree in Avon closed Route 167 (West Avon Road) at Westmont Road Tuesday morning.

The basement and holding area for the Elm Street courthouse in New Haven flooded Monday night and the head court marshal said the ground was coated with 4-6 inches of water.  

ServePro arrived to drain the basement and clean it up. There is no health threat to the rest of the building, court officials said, but they are not holding people in the flooded cells. 

Parts of the state could receive up to 5 inches of rain by Wednesday. We'll see some relief from the storms by Wednesday night. 

If you see severe weather, send photos to shareit@nbcconnecticut.com.


Photo Credit: David Schofield

Real-Life Saul Goodman? Lawyer Tried to Hide Drug Money


A longtime San Diego defense attorney intimidated a witness and tried to hide $100,000 in drug money for a client, the attorney admitted in court Tuesday.

James Warner,  a defense attorney for alleged drug dealers and criminal defendants for more than 40 years, accepted the terms of a plea agreement with federal prosecutors.

Court records reveal Warner promised to invest the $100,000 in drug money overseas, and even pay the drug dealer 18 percent on the cash.

In September, his law office became a crime scene when federal agents, armed with a search warrant, found $200,000 cash hidden in a suitcase. Most of the money was in a vacuum sealed bag and was linked to drug dealers, prosecutors said.

The case has echoes of the fictional “Breaking Bad” character Saul Goodman, a lawyer who schemed with meth dealers in the AMC hit that concluded its final season last year. The spin-off “Better Call Saul,” named after the character's advertising pitch to clients, is set to begin airing next year.

That cash was in addition to the cash Warner now admits he tried to hide for a client.

According to a search warrant, federal agents had overlooked that drug-related cash when they searched the suspect's home.

When the client brought Warner the money, and explained how it had escaped the agent’s notice, Warner allegedly told the client he could hide the money by investing it in a gambling company in Africa.

According to the warrant, Warner told his client the investment would generate 18 percent interest.

He also promised to return that drug-tainted money in a year.

In an interview outside court, after Warner entered his guilty plea, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri Walker Hobson took pains to remind the public that defense attorneys play an important role in the criminal justice system.

"I should really emphasize that this conviction today should not reflect negatively on the good work done by defense attorneys,” Walker Hobson told NBC 7.

As part of his guilty plea, Warner will pay more than $400,000 in fines, penalties and forfeitures and will avoid prison.

Instead, he faces three years probation, one year of house arrest and must complete 2,000 hours of community service.

“This is a sad and tragic day for Jim Warner, who has been a terrific lawyer in this community, a loving husband and father, and is a fine person,” his attorneys, Charles Sevilla and Michael Pancer, told NBC 7.

But a judge could overrule that agreement and send Warner to prison when he is sentenced in October.

Warner indicated in court that he will resign from the State Bar Association. His law license is also subject to revocation, with this guilty plea.

Best Used Cars for Teen Drivers


For many families with teenage drivers, a new car just isn't in the budget.

Eighty-three percent of parents surveyed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said they've purchased a used vehicle for their teen. And with car accidents the leading cause of death among teens, choosing the right vehicle is critical.

For the first time, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has compiled a list of the safest used cars for teenage drivers.

"A teenager's first car is more than just a financial decision," says IIHS President Adrian Lund. "These lists of recommended used vehicles can help consumers factor in safety, in addition to affordability."

Below is the IIHS' list of the best, affordable vehicles for teen drivers:

Saab 9-5 sedan 2010 and later $17,500
Lincoln MKS 2009 and later $15,500
Buick Regal 2011 and later $13,500
Ford Taurus 2010 and later $13,500
Buick LaCrosse 2010 and later $12,900
Volvo S80 2007 and later $9,000







Toyota Prius v 2012 and later $19,100
Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan 2009 and later $16,000
Honda Accord sedan 2012 and later; coupe 2013-14 $14,400
Audi A4 2009 and later $14,300
Toyota Camry 2012 and later $14,300
Buick Verano 2012 and later $14,100
Subaru Outback 2010 and later $14,000
Lincoln MKZ 2010 and later; built after April 2010 $13,500
Kia Optima 2011 and later $13,300
Hyundai Sonata 2011 and later $12,100
Subaru Legacy 2010 and later $11,900
Dodge Avenger 2011 and later $11,600
Audi A3 2008 and later $11,300
Volkswagen CC 2009 and later $11,200
Chevrolet Malibu 2010 and later; built after November 2009 $10,900
Chrysler 200 sedan 2011 and later $10,700
Mercury Milan 2010-11; built after April 2010 $10,700
Ford Fusion 2010 and later; built after April 2010 $10,200
Volkswagen Passat 2009 and later $10,000
Volvo C30 2008 and later $9,800
Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen 2009 and later $9,400
Volkswagen Jetta 2009 and later $8,200







Honda CR-V 2012 and later $18,100
Kia Sportage 2011 and later $13,800
Hyundai Tucson 2010 and later $13,100
Subaru Forester 2009 and later $12,800
Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 2011 and later $12,000
Volkswagen Tiguan 2009 and later $10,200
Honda Element 2007 and later $8,900







Volvo XC60 2010 and later $18,000
Saab 9-4X 2011-12 $17,800
Toyota Highlander 2008 and later $17,100
Toyota Venza 2009 and later $15,900
Ford Edge 2011 and later; built after February 2011 $15,500
Ford Flex 2010 and later $15,100
GMC Terrain 2010 and later $14,900
Kia Sorento 2011 and later $14,500
Infiniti EX 2008 and later $14,400
Chevrolet Equinox 2010 and later $13,700
Dodge Journey 2010 and later $11,200
Subaru Tribeca/B9 Tribeca 2006 and later $8,500
Volvo XC90 2005 and later $7,300







Buick Enclave 2011 and later $19,900
GMC Acadia 2011 and later $17,800
Chevrolet Traverse 2011 and later $16,600







Chrysler Town & Country 2012 and later $18,100
Honda Odyssey 2011 and later $17,100
Toyota Sienna 2011 and later $16,400
Dodge Grand Caravan 2012 and later $15,200
Volkswagen Routan 2012 $14,000


Photo Credit: Getty Images

Fire Damages Coventry Garage


Fire caused some damage to a garage on Main Street in Coventry on Wednesday morning.

Officials from the fire department said the two-alarm fire was contained to the garage and caused minimal damage.

The house was across from Talcott Hill Road and both roads were closed, according to Coventry police. No one was home at the time the fire started.

No additional information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Thieves Call Cops on Victim Who Wanted Car Back: Cops


Police arrested two suspected car thieves after they called police to report the victim was harassing them to get his car back.

A recent University of New Haven graduate went to West Haven police on Tuesday night to report that his 2005 Mustang Saleen had been stolen, police said.

The student, who had just obtained a degree from graduate school, told police that he decided to sell his car before returning to his native country, police said, and met with two prospective buyers, Travis Breda and Stephen Verity, just before 11 p.m. on Tuesday.

He allowed them to take a test drive and followed behind, police said, but Breda and Verity fled.

The owner called the two men over and over again to ask them to return the car, then went to police to report the theft.

As police were speaking to the victim, Breda and Verity called police to report that the victim was harassing him with the repeated calls, police said.

They told authorities that they’d bought the car for $9,500.00.

However, the estimated value of the car is between $21,000 and $26,000, police said.

Police contacted Breda, who eventually came into police headquarters and presented a signed bill of sale and title, but the complainant’s name was misspelled and the signatures didn't match, according to police.

When officers confronted Breda, he eventually admitted he and Verity tried to steal the car and one of the signatures was forged, police said.

Police contacted Verity, who eventually drove the Mustang to the police station, but tried to walk away after parking it.

He was quickly taken into custody. 

Breda and Verity were charged with second-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit larceny in the second degree.

Verity was also charged with second-degree forgery and interfering. 

Photo Credit: West Haven Police

XL Center Seats For Sale at $200 a Pair


Starting this week, you literally don't have to go further than your home to sit in lower level XL Center seats.

On Monday, Hartford's XL Center began selling a limited number of stadium seats in the lower section to fans for $200 a pair plus an ordering fee, according to the XL Center website.

The seats were removed to make way for renovation that includes the installation of a "new interactive fan bar and private loge boxes," the XL Center said on its website. The upgrade to the concert, sports and events venue is part of the XL Center's celebration of the 40th anniversary of the facility formerly known as the Hartford Civic Center.

Anyone interested in purchasing XL Center seats can call 1-960-541-4723. The seats will be sold on a first come, first serve basis.

More information is available on the XL Center website, where you can also find updates on the renovation projects at the venue.

Lawyer: Call Girl in Google Exec's Overdose "Wounded Bird"


The prostitute accused of giving a fatal dose of heroin to a Google executive on his yacht in Santa Cruz pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to felony manslaughter and other drug-related charges, as a 911 call from an overdose of another boyfriend surfaced from Georgia.

Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Timothy Volkmann also denied to decrease Alix Tichelman's $1.5-million bail or release her on her own recognizance. Dressed in red, she stood next to her public defender, shackled at the wrists, looking down most of the time. Her next date is set for Oct. 20. She could face a maximum of 15 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

After the brief hearing, her parents and sister held hands tightly and shunned reporters' requests for comment.

Outside court, another one of her defense attorneys, Larry Biggam, told reporters that Tichelman had no reason to kill 51-year-old Google executive Forrest Hayes, who lived in Santa Cruz with his family, considering how much money he paid her for sex. "He was a lucrative client, a generous man," Biggam said. "He encouraged this and it went awry. She had no intent to injure or harm him."

Biggam didn't deny that  Tichelman was a prostitute and he admitted she has been using heroin  since she was a teen.

Then Biggam called Tichelman a "wounded bird" who has been demonized by the media. "She's a sensitive kid with an addiction problem," he said.

Tichelman is facing eight charges in Santa Cruz County – including manslaughter, prostitution, destroying evidence and several related to administering and possessing heroin – in Hayes' overdose death. The father of five, who worked for Google at the time of his death, previously held positions at Sun Microsystems and Apple. He died Nov. 23, 2013 and Tichelman was arrested eight months later on July 4.

Tichelman was taken into custody after being lured back to Santa Cruz County in a prostitution sting. Detectives, posing as potential clients, lured her to an upscale location with a promise of an excess of $1,500. Clark said when she was arrested she had a fully loaded needle with heroin in it.

Santa Cruz police first arrested her in connection with second-degree murder, but prosecutors later officially charged her with manslaughter with great bodily injury.

Investigators said the 26-year-old woman made no effort to help Hayes, whom she met on the "sugar daddy" site called Seekingarrangement.com, and instead gathered her belongings and even gulped a glass of wine before leaving. Hayes’ body was found the next morning by the ship’s captain at the Santa Cruz harbor.

Santa Cruz Deputy Police Chief Steve Clark said there is video of this heroin interaction, but this week declined to release it.

Hayes' death has prompted police in Milton to re-examine the case of 53-year-old Dean Riopelle, the owner of a popular nightclub owner, who died in September 2013 while Tichelman was with him near Atlanta last year. 

The two had a volatile relationship, according to two Milton police reports.

On Sept. 6, 2013, police were called to Riopelle's home, (PDF) where Tichelman ended up being charged with battery and reporting a false crime. Tichelman had been drinking and did some "stage diving" at The Masquerade, the nightclub that Riopelle owned. She was baring her breasts, the police report stated, and Riopelle didn't like her behavior. They fought, and she bit him on the finger, causing a tear, the report stated.

Then, 11 days later, police went a second time to Riopelle's house in Alpharetta, Georgia. This time, because Tichelman had called 911 on Sept. 17, 2013 to report (PDF) that Riopelle had been on a "bender the last few days," drinking heavily and taking Roxycodone before he fell to the ground with a loud "crash," the report states. She then called for help.

The two 911 calls were released by Milton police and were obtained this week by NBC affiliate 11 Alive News in Atlanta.

"He won't respond. And he's just lying on the ground," Tichelman says on the call, adding that his breathing is not normal.

The dispatcher speaks calmly asking pertinent questions.

Tichelman eventually hangs up. The dispatcher immediately calls back and Tichelman tells her she's sure her boyfriend overdosed.

 When the dispatcher asks if the overdose was intentional or accidental, Tichelman answers, "Definitely accidental, accidental."

For a second time, Tichelman hung up the phone. The 911 dispatcher calls back twice and each time the call goes to voicemail. Riopelle was taken to the hospital by ambulance where he later died.

Watch Alix Tichelman's parents and sister leave court in Santa Cruz on July 16, 2014.

NBC Bay Area's Shelby Hansen and  Riya Bhattacharjee contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

Radio Host Caught in Mideast Unrest


It started out as a picture perfect family vacation for a Los Angeles-based radio personality: Madrid, Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Tel Aviv and the beaches.

But suddenly, escaping a war zone became part of the itinerary for KIIS-FM's Ellen K, her son Calvin and husband Roy Laughlin. They arrived in Jerusalem the day after a funeral for a Palestinian teen who was killed in a revenge attack for the murder of three Israeli teenagers.

"I really thought we weren't going to make it out," she said. "It was so frightening."

"I am seeing really a ghost town with rocks all over the streets, graffiti, trash cans and dumpsters on fire, smoke everywhere," she recalled. "(I was) thinking, 'Oh, no. This is really bad.'"

But she wouldn't know just how bad until a show at Tower of David that night.

"The air raid siren starts to go and frantic ushers are screaming at us to get out, get out, get out. Get into the bomb shelter," she said.

Ellen grabbed her son.

"I was telling him to run, let's hurry," she said. "I put myself over him and I said, 'You know we are going to be OK.'"

Their goal was to get out alive.

"While we were at the Tel Aviv airport begging for this flight, trying to work it out, there were probably three runs to the bomb shelter while we were waiting to get on the plane," Ellen K recalled. "The military is there running it. Until we were 10,000 feet in the air, we did not feel safe."

The family was able to return safely to their Hollywood Hills home.

Ellen K is back at work as the longtime morning partner to Ryan Seacrest on KIIS-FM. But she pauses to reflect on the embattled land they left behind.

"The Palestinians we met, the Israelis we met - beautiful, wonderful, warm, loving people. On both sides, apologetic, (saying) 'Please come back, we're so sorry. You know this isn't your war, this is about us,'" she said.

Photo Credit: Sean Browning

Undocumented Children in Va.?


The chairman of the Prince William County, Virginia, Board of Supervisors is hoping to put enough pressure on the county's executive to find out how many undocumented immigrant children are living in the county and what kind of financial impact they could have.

Board Supervisor Chairman Corey Stewart said some undocumented children who showed up at the U.S. border have been transferred to Prince William County, and are possibly being housed at "Youth for Tomorrow," a home for troubled teens in Bristow, as well as other locations. 

"The facility told us they entered into a federal contract and that they were going to be housing these children," Stewart said. "They wouldn't say much more than that."

The county board agreed Tuesday to urge executive Melissa Peacor to find out where these children are living, how many there are and if the county has any authority in the situation. 

He's convinced the children will be a major strain to the community. 

“They should be sent back home," Stewart said. "And the reason they should be sent back home is to send the message that if you make that journey to the United States, you’re just going to be sent back home."

Some county residents agree with Stewart, though others do not.

"They are as human as you or I and they probably have the right to live anywhere and especially in this country, the United States of America," Nancy Vancoverden said. 

Federal facilities, many of them in Texas, have been swamped by more than 50,000 unaccompanied children who have poured across the border since October, according to NBC News.

"We have a process for people to come to this country, and it's not swimming across it and introducing yourself to federal agents," Prince William County resident David Baker said.  

News4 tried contacting the "Youth for Tomorrow" facility, but they did not respond to our calls.
Health and Human Services tell us they do not identify shelters for unaccompanied immigrant minors for security reasons.

Gang Seeks Recruits to Kill More NJ Police Officers: Memo


Police in Jersey City are being warned after an internal department memo obtained by NBC 4 New York says a gang there is recruiting gang members across New Jersey to kill cops after a rookie police officer was slain responding to a call of an armed robbery over the weekend.  

Melvin Santiago was killed early Sunday while responding to an armed robbery call at a 24-7 Walgreens. Police say Lawrence Campbell ambushed the 23-year-old outside of the store. Police returned fire, killing Campbell.

According to the memo, "information from a reliable source" within the gang indicates the gang is asking for help from members in Camden and Newark in shooting another police officer. 

The gang is targeting officers working with a Department of Transportation traffic unit, the memo says. The advisory warns gang members will "attack and shoot Jersey City EMTs because they know police officers will respond immediately to their backup."

Mayor Steven Fulop said such threats frequently crop up after police shootings and are rarely credible.

"Every urban area, every police department knows that after every single police shooting, threats come in," Fulop said. "Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the time they're not credible, but we always take them seriously."

Police sent a notice about the potential threat to officers. One of them posted it to his Facebook page. Fulop said that officer would be disciplined for possibly violating department protocols.

Santiago was one of the first officers at the scene after the report of the armed robbery at the Walgreens came in Sunday by Campbell, who allegedly told someone inside the store to watch the news later because he was "going to be famous." 

Campbell didn't try to rob the store, but assaulted its armed security guard and snatched his gun, officials have said. He then waited for officers to arrive and shot Santiago with what police believe was the guard's weapon. 

Other officers returned fire, killing him. 

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop has said Campbell, who had prior drug arrests and was released from jail in January, was one of three suspects wanted by police for a prior homicide. Another man being sought in that case, 23-year-old city resident Daniel Wilson, was captured Sunday night, officials said.

It wasn't clear if Campbell was a member of a gang.

Since Sunday, tensions have risen over a sidewalk memorial set up for Campbell in the crime-plagued neighborhood where he lived. Fulop ordered the memorial taken down Tuesday.

The mayor met Wednesday evening with 50 church leaders to talk about the recent clashes with police and growing community unrest. Outside the building, armed SWAT team members stationed themselves next to the small crowd gathered there. Some neighbors were upset that the public wasn't allowed to take part in the meeting.

"It's just crazy, they have clergy up there that's not even from this community," said Henry Todd.

But Fulop said the clergy offered constructive input.

"Those people are not people coming here just to make noise and stir the pot," he said. "They're there looking for solutions."

Fulop said Santiago will be promoted to the rank of detective and receive the department's Medal of Honor. The promotion and ceremony will happen at his wake Thursday. His funeral is scheduled for Friday.

Gov. Christie ordered flags be flown at half-staff Wednesday in his honor.

Intruder at Kennedy Compound Was Searching for Katy Perry: Police


A man who told police he was looking for pop singer Katy Perry and had a gift for her was arrested on Tuesday night for breaking into the Kennedy compound in Massachusetts, police said.

Ted Kennedy Jr., the son of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy and a candidate for State Senate in Connecticut, called the Barnstable Police Department saying he believed that an intruder might be in his residence on Irving Avenue in Hyannis Port, police told NBC.

Kennedy Jr., who at the time was at his home in Connecticut, had called the home in Cape Cod to check on his teenage son. But a man who identified himself as James Lacroix answered the call, according to police.

Lacroix, 53, told officers who found him in the home's kitchen that he was looking for Katy Perry, police said. According to a news release from police, he also said he was at the home to see John F. Kennedy.

Police said they believed he had been at the property for three hours before they received a call. NBC affiliate WHDH reported that Lacrouix is a disabled veteran.

It was not clear why Lacroix believed Perry would be at the residence.

Lacroix was arrested for breaking and entering and was due to be arraigned in court on Wednesday morning. It was unclear if Lacroix has a lawyer.

Kennedy, a healthcare lawyer, has lived in Branford, Connecticut for two decades.

Photo Credit: Barnstable Police Department
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