<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com en-us Mon, 22 Dec 2014 07:41:54 -0800 Mon, 22 Dec 2014 07:41:54 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[San Jose Police React to Slain NYPD Officers]]> Mon, 22 Dec 2014 00:08:46 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Officers-Shot-Bed-Stuy.jpg

San Jose police said the shooting in New York is a sobering reminder of the dangers they face every day on the job, and they are reacting with a sign of solidarity.

The San Jose Police Officers Association (POA) said they will work with SJPD to immediately send officers to New York to offer support, as the city remembers slain police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu

Police officers in the Bay Area said they too have heavy hearts.

"San Jose police officers are sick about the tragedy that happened to New York's finest," said San Jose Police Sgt. Paul Kelly, who is also president-elect of the POA.

The tragedy is shining a spotlight on the risks officers take every day on the streets of San Jose.

"Today and yesterday, knowing this tragedy happened, they will still put on uniforms and go out there and protect, making that choice," Kelly said.

In New York City, grief has come with a lot of fingerpointing.

"There's blood on many hands tonight," Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said. "Those that incited violence on the street under the guise of protest that tried to tear down what New York City police officers did every day. We tried to warn it must not go on. It cannot be tolerated."

Santa Clara University counseling psychology professor Dr. Dale Larson said some grief-stricken police may be reacting to feeling under siege.

"It seems escalatory, but understandable given the terrible situation with so much anger present everywhere and some lone wolves like this floating around," Larson said.

Now officers across the nation must grapple with how this brazen killing could affect their own safety and relationships with communities they are asked to police. Some people are still very active in voicing their opposition to police tactics and how officers are held to the law.

The POA said even in San Jose, officers have been ambushed. It is not a common occurrence, but it is a very real possibility.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[San Francisco Arson Teams Investigating Car Fire]]> Mon, 22 Dec 2014 00:13:35 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/sf_car_arson_fire_hartford.jpg

San Francisco fire crews doused a car fire in the city's Dolores Heights neighborhood early Sunday morning, fire officials said, not far from the location of four other car fires on Wednesday.

Firefighters responded to a report of a car fire at 126-132 Hartford St. in San Francisco at 3:02 a.m., a fire dispatcher said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but the dispatcher said arson teams have responded to the incident.

He could not say whether the fire was related to four others nearby that were reported on Wednesday. Car fires also happened in the city in November.

Nonetheless, neighbors said they are shaken up by the string of suspected arson fires.

"I didn’t know there was quite so many at first," Darrell Tenaglia said. "I thought it was one incident, and then I found out there has been four or five. It's definitely unnerving. The Castro is a relatively safe neighborhood and just to see that someone would do that."

"There was some really loud pops," Tom Lee said. "My partner and I got up, and we looked out back, and there was just a huge fire."

Lee said the car fire woke him up, as firefighters hosed down his house.

"They did make us evacuate for safety for an hour or so. We were standing out here," Lee said. "And luckily, they were able to put out the fire."

Neighbor Nicholas Arata took cellphone video of the burning car, which was parked down a long driveway behind a gate in the Castro District.

"It was opened while this was happening," Arata said. "When we came out in the middle of the night, this gate was wide open."

Earlier in the week, fire crews responded to a car fire in the area of Cumberland and Church streets around 4:10 p.m. on Wednesday, said San Francisco police Sgt. Monica Macdonald.

About 35 minutes later, a truck fire was reported at 17th and Church streets, four blocks north of the first blaze, Macdonald said.Around 5:10 p.m., another car fire was reported at Liberty and

Rayburn streets, less than a half a mile away from the second blaze, Macdonald said.

An hour later, officers responded to a fourth car fire in the unit block of Rayburn Street near Liberty Street, according to Macdonald.

All of the fires on Wednesday are being investigated as suspected arsons, Macdonald said.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[70% of Kids Want Electronics for Christmas: Santa]]> Mon, 22 Dec 2014 07:14:26 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/santa112.jpg

For 11 years in a row, NBC Bay Area's Bob Redell has traveled to the North Pole, Alaska to check on Christmas goings-on for himself.

He visits reindeer. He checks on the busy elves. And of course, he has a one-on-one with Santa.

This year, the jolly, red-suited global gift giver was feeling a bit nostalgic, wishing back to a time when children wanted hands-on toys, like Legos and Lincoln Logs.

That's not what Millennials want.

"XBox1 and video games," one young boy told Santa this week.

And Santa said this boy's wishes are the norm.

"Seventy percent want electronics," Santa said, with obvious disdain in his voice. "iPads, iPhones,  laptops, tablets. It goes on and on and on."

And what's worse, Santa said, leaning forward in his chair, "Some of them want two or three."

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Menorah Stolen From Castro Valley Synagogue: Rabbi]]> Mon, 22 Dec 2014 00:07:34 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/menorah_stolen1.jpg

The rabbi at the Chabad Jewish Center of Castro Valley said a 9-foot menorah was stolen from in front of the synagogue Saturday night.

The menorah had been out there since the first day of Hanukkah, which was on Tuesday.

The rabbi filed a report with the Castro Valley Police Department and is asking anyone with information to e-mail him.

Photo Credit: Chabad Jewish Center of Castro Valley]]>
<![CDATA[Mudslide Closes Part of 101 in Sausalito]]> Mon, 22 Dec 2014 06:50:57 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/160*120/image17.jpeg

The California Highway Patrol on Monday issued a Sig-alert for northbound U.S. Highway 101 in Sausalito because of a mudslide.

The mudslide occurred just before 2:30 a.m. near the Alexander Avenue off-ramp just before the Waldo Tunnel.

Two lanes have been closed, and a light police has been knocked down, according to the CHP.

Photo Credit: Josh Keppel]]>
<![CDATA[Man's iPads Stolen By Prospective Craigslist Buyer]]> Mon, 22 Dec 2014 06:35:53 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tlmd_ipad_air_2_sim.jpg

A Ventura business owner was dragged by a car for several feet after trying to reclaim two iPads stolen by a prospective buyer he met on Craigslist, police said Saturday.

Around 5:15 p.m., the 34-year-old victim called police to report the robbery, which happened outside his business in a shopping center on West Main Street.

The man told police he had arranged to meet a potential buyer for his two iPads, but the robber instead took off with the devices without paying for them. He fled to a dark colored sedan parked nearby, where a second man was waiting and began to drive away.

The victim reached into the car trying to get the iPads back, and was dragged for several feet.

The victim suffered minor scrapes, but did not seek medical attention.

Anyone with information can call the Ventura Police Department at 805-339-4400.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sacred Heart 4,200 Toys Short of Christmas Gift Goal]]> Sun, 21 Dec 2014 20:53:17 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/220*120/sacred_heart_toys.jpg

A San Jose charity trying to help needy kids this Christmas is short thousands of toys from meeting its goal.

Sacred Heart Community Service had planned to give two toys and one book to 5,800 children this holiday season. But the charity is 4,200 toys short of that goal Sunday night.

The charity especially needs gifts for teens. Organizers said anyone who wants to help out can drop off a gift tomorrow at the center on South First Street and East Alma Avenue.

People can also help from home by shopping from their online wish list.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Family: NYPD, City Must Mend Ties]]> Mon, 22 Dec 2014 07:36:41 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP992312070149.jpg

Family and friends of officer Rafael Ramos, fatally shot with his partner in Brooklyn, thanked the public for its prayers and asked City Hall to mend its relationship with the NYPD as the officer's 13-year-old son decried the killer's apparent hatred for police.

"He was the best father I could ask for. It's horrible that someone gets shot dead just for being a police officer," Ramos' son, Jaden, posted on Facebook. "Everyone says they hate cops but they are the people they call for help. I will always love you and I will never forget you. RIP Dad."

Moments earlier, Jaden Ramos posted, "This is the worst day of My life." 

Ramos' aunt, Lucy Ramos, thanked all who shared their sympathies "for our beloved member" and called for reflection "on this tragic loss."

John Rodriguez, president of the 75th Precinct Community Council, said that reflection should include how to repair relations between the city's administration and its police force.

"My mayor, you need to sit down, you need to get everything corrected," he said.

Rodriguez added that he felt the local Patrolmen's Benevolent Association president "was very upset at that moment" when he insinuated that the killings of Ramos and officer Wenjian Liu could be tied to the mayor's lack of support for the department.

PBA President Patrick Lynch said Saturday night that there was "blood on many hands," including those of the mayor. De Blasio responded that Lynch's remarks were "irresponsible, overheated rhetoric."

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[SF Homeowner Posts Video of Package Thieves]]> Sun, 21 Dec 2014 20:14:51 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/porch_theft_Sf.jpg

Two people were caught in the act stealing a package from the front porch of a San Francisco home, and the homeowner is fighting back over the internet.

The homeowner posted a video of the package theft, showing a man and woman pausing in front of the Noe Valley home. Then, the man opened the gate and swiped a package from the porch, while the woman acted as a lookout.

It is a common crime around the holidays, and the victim is asking for help in finding the thieves.


Photo Credit: aclazerus]]>
<![CDATA[Hundreds Protest in Downtown Philly]]> Sun, 21 Dec 2014 22:09:32 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Center-City-March1.jpg

Nearly 1,000 people marched through Center City during a protest for Mike Brown and Eric Garner Sunday night.

The Philadelphia “Blackout” march began at 7 p.m. on 1500 Arch Street. Hundreds of protesters marched around City Hall through Dilworth Plaza and eventually stopped at the statue of former Philadelphia mayor Frank Rizzo. Raheem Harvey, one of the event organizers, told NBC10 the goal of the demonstration was to “unify the people and give them an opportunity to speak.”

“As a human being we have a right to humanity,” Harvey said. “Everyone is entitled to first class citizenship regardless of the color of their skin.”

Some of the protesters gathered at the AT&T station on the Broad Street Line around 5:45 p.m. They took the subway into Center City while singing the words, “I can’t breathe,” the last words of Eric Garner before his death.

Harvey also said the protesters specifically chose to end their demonstration at the Frank Rizzo statue based on what they believe the former Philadelphia mayor stood for.

“He is an individual who was responsible for police brutality, especially towards the African American community,” Harvey said. “Here we have an individual who has his hands raised, waiving out to the people. No one thinks something is wrong with that. We definitely plan to make a statement there. We plan on working with the city to have it removed."

The protesters repeatedly chanted "black lives matter," and carried a banner which read, "fight hate with love." They also held a "die-in" demonstration on the Parkway.

The rally shut down several streets in Center City for a few hours. No arrests were reported however.

Harvey told NBC10 the ultimate goal of the demonstrators is to spark change within the Philadelphia Police Department.

“We want to be able to have a voice when it comes to the concerns of the community,” he said. “A police officer’s job is to provide customer service and to also establish the law. With that in mind we need to make sure that when investigations happen within the police department, the public is fully aware. There should not be any close door investigation.”

The protest was one of many that have occurred nationwide in response to two separate grand jury decisions not to indict the officers involved in the deaths of Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

The protest also took place a day after two NYPD officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, were shot and killed by a gunman in Brooklyn during an ambush attack. The suspect in the shooting, who ultimately took his own life, posted on social media that he intended to “take 2 of theirs” prior to the incident, according to investigators. Investigators also believe the suspect shot and injured his ex-girlfriend in Baltimore before coming to New York.

The fatal shooting of the two officers sparked claims from some that the nationwide protests and anti-police rhetoric inspired the shooter. In New York City, Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch also linked the killings to violence against police during recent protest demonstrations and even claimed that NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio had “blood on his hands” for his apparent lack of support for law enforcement.

Harvey expressed his condolences for the NYC officers and their families while also stating the suspect in their deaths was not associated with his movement.

“My heart is with the family and also my prayers,” Harvey said. “We are not against police. We are against police brutality. No one deserves to have their lives taken. It should have never happened. The person is isolated from the movement but he’s using the movement to get his message across. But that’s a totally isolated incident.”

Members of the Philadelphia Police Civil Affairs Unit were on hand to monitor the protest.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com
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<![CDATA[Missing Pa. Student's Keys in River]]> Mon, 22 Dec 2014 04:30:34 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/237*120/Shane+Montgomery+Missing+College+Student.JPG

Over three weeks after his disappearance, officials found the keys of missing college student Shane Montgomery.

The Garden State Underwater Recovery Unit, a volunteer diving recovery team, discovered the 21-year-old West Chester University student's personal keys in the Schuylkill River after searching for four and a half hours Sunday. No further evidence has been found however.

The Roxborough native was last seen early Thanksgiving morning as he left Kildare's Irish Pub along Main Street in the Philadelphia neighborhood of Manayunk.

Pings from his cellphone put him within a mile of the bar within an hour of his disappearance and surveillance video shows the West Chester University student walking toward the Manayunk Canal and Schuylkill River. Despite many searches on land, in the water and from the air, there have been no strong leads as to where Montgomery went.

Each day without Shane has been wearing on his family, said Kevin Verbrugghe, Shane's uncle.

"We’re not holding up well," Verbrugghe said.

Ongoing search efforts, including the use of sonar and underwriter cameras in a search of the Schuylkill River, have brought about few clues for Shane, who was last seen walking toward the Manayunk Canal.

"The prevailing theory is that he went into the river and where is he now? Tides change and there’s all kinds of debris under there," FBI Supervisory Special agent J.J. Klaver said Thursday.

Debris could have trapped the missing college student's body underwater, he explained.

A reward for information that leads investigators and the family to Montgomery still stands at $65,000. Friends and family continue to support the search efforts on their own as well.

Anyone with information is asked to call Philadelphia police at 215.686.TIPS.

Photo Credit: Family Photo
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<![CDATA[4 Shot Dead in Illinois Home]]> Sun, 21 Dec 2014 17:20:11 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/rockford+shooting.jpg

Four people, including two children, were shot dead inside of a residence in Rockford, Illinois, on Saturday night, Rockford police said.

A neighbor said she heard pounding on the door of the residence and then the sound of the door being forced open. The sound of gunshots immediately followed.

Police responded to the call of shots fired in the 3200 block of Montrose Avenue at about 11:20 p.m. Saturday. When they arrived, they found four victims with gunshot wounds. All of them were pronounced dead on the scene by Rockford Fire Department paramedics, police said.

The victims were Martia Flint, 24; Demontae Rhodes, 24; Tyrone Smith III, 6; and Tobias K. Smith, 4. The two children belonged to Flint.

An autopsy is scheduled for the victims on Monday.

Rockford detectives are continuing the investigation in the shooting. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Rockford police shift commander at (815) 987-5824 or Crime Stoppers at (815) 963-7867.

<![CDATA[Leaders Across U.S. Mourn Officers Killed in Brooklyn]]> Mon, 22 Dec 2014 00:51:49 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP854506726768.jpg

Police departments and civic leaders across the United States mourned publicly on Saturday and Sunday, condemning violence and calling for calm after two police officers were shot dead in their squad car in what New York City's commissioner called an "assassination."

President Barack Obama was among those who expressed support for the police. "Two brave men won't be going home to their loved ones tonight, and for that, there is no justification," the president said Saturday night in a statement. "Tonight, I ask people to reject violence and words that harm, and turn to words that heal — prayer, patient dialogue, and sympathy for the friends and family of the fallen."

Obama called New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton on Sunday and said Americans must reject violence and instead turn to prayer and sympathy for the victims' relatives, the White House said. The president said his administration will work with leaders across the country to echo that message.

Police departments around the country expressed solidarity with the NYPD, adorning their badges with black bands in honor of the slain officers.

In Philadelphia, where anti-police graffiti appeared this week, a police spokeswoman called the shootings a "horrible act of terror."

"Our thoughts and prayers are with New York Police Department and the families of these officers," the spokeswoman said.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter took to Twitter to condemn the shooting.

Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were sitting in a squad car in Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon when the shooter, identified as 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, approached the car and fatally shot both officers in the head, police said. Brinsley then ran into a nearby subway station and killed himself, according to police.

"They were, quite simply, assassinated — targeted for their uniform," said Bratton. "Both officers paid the ultimate sacrifice today while protecting the communities they serve."

In California, San Jose Police Sgt. Paul Kelly said the shooting is a sobering reminder of the dangers officers face every day on the job. "San Jose police officers are sick about the tragedy that happened to New York's finest,"  said Kelly.

Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chair Marcia L. Fudge released a statement Sunday morning, saying the police officers' "tragic deaths are a great loss for the NYPD, their families, and our nation. This is not about race or affiliation, and it isn't about black versus blue. All lives matter."

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called the shootings a "particularly despicable act," and called on New Yorkers to pray for the families of Ramos and Liu. He ordered that flags in the city be lowered to half-staff from sunrise Sunday until the officers' burial.

But New York Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch was critical of the mayor's office. Lynch tied the shootings to violence against the NYPD during recent protests in the city and blamed the mayor directly for a perceived lack of support as the department has come under scrutiny.

"There's blood on many hands tonight," Lynch said, and "starts on the steps of City Hall in the office of the mayor."

In response, the mayor's office said, "it's unfortunate that in a time of great tragedy, some would resort to irresponsible, overheated rhetoric that angers and divides people."

Loretta E. Lynch, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, pledged that her office would assist with the investigation of the shooting.

"I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear of this afternoon's brutal and senseless attack on two NYPD Officers, and I join Attorney General Holder in expressing my deepest condolences to the families of these fallen heroes," she said. "Today's assailant struck at the heart of our city — the dedicated officers who pledge their lives to safeguard us all."

The killings on Saturday come amid tensions over the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police. Bratton said Saturday that the suspect had a history of making anti-police comments. It remained unclear whether he had any involvement in the protest movement.

The family of Eric Garner, the New York man who died after he was put in a chokehold by police denounced on Sunday the killing of two police officers.

"Anyone who's standing with us, we want you to not use Eric Garner's name for violence because we are not about that," Garner's mother, Gwen Carr, told reporters on Sunday. "I'm standing here in sorrow about losing those two police officers."

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Officers Turn Backs on NYC Mayor ]]> Mon, 22 Dec 2014 06:39:43 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/460732874.jpg

In the wake of tensions between City Hall and the NYPD, some officers turned their backs on the mayor as he walked through the halls of Woodhull Medical Center following the ambush killing of two officers.

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch mourned the slain officers outside the hospital and linked the killings to violence against the NYPD during recent protest demonstrations and to what he said was the mayor's lack of support for the department.

"There's blood on many hands tonight," Lynch said. He added: "That blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall in the office of the mayor."

Mayor de Blasio responded that Lynch's remarks amounted to "irresponsible, overheated rhetoric that angers and divides people."

"This is a nightmare of the highest magnitude for everyone," Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives' Endowment Association, said in a statement. "The elected leaders, on both sides of City Hall, need to dig down deep in their souls and understand that campaigning to be a leader is easier than being a leader."

Palladino warned detectives to remain vigilant, wear bullet-resistant vests and work in teams of three when possible "until we better assess the threat that exists against us."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Girl, 3, Left With Valets: Police]]> Sun, 21 Dec 2014 23:41:41 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/Audrey-missing.jpg

The father of a toddler abandoned at one of Los Angeles's premier shopping centers came forward nearly a day later Sunday and was interviewed by police and child protective services, officials said. 

The girl remained in the custody of child protective services. Los Angeles Police Department officials said she and her father had not been reunited.

The father told officers at the Wilshire Division station that he didn't initially know the 3-year-old was missing, but had been actively trying to get in contact with her.

A female relative who’d been watching the girl dropped her off at the Grove about 6 p.m. Saturday, according to police, who are treating the case as a misunderstanding.

When she was put in police custody, the girl gave her name simply as Audrey, a stumbling block in trying to find her family, police said.

Audrey was happy and talkative, when she was first turned over to the LAPD, according to Lt. Lonnie Tiano, who said she was in "good shape."

A woman dropped Audrey off at The Grove's valet area along with a car seat, but never returned to pick her up, Tiano said.

After a search of the mall, parking attendants called police, who took Audrey into their custody and brought her to the Department of Children and Family Services, Tiano said.

Children and Family Services still had to verify that the man picking her up was Audrey's father, and had yet to decide whether to turn Audrey over to him.

Aubrey's story had touched many people who called police offering gifts or a home to Audrey after her picture was released to news media, police said.

"Hopefully they'll be watching the news and see their child on TV and call us," Tiano said Sunday morning.

In fact, Audrey's San Diegan grandfather who spotted her picture on a news report Sunday. He told his son Audrey was missing; police said the father told them he was already actively searching for Audrey by then.

The father told authorities that he was looking for his daughter at The Grove until 11 p.m., police said, but assumed that the person she was with had taken her home. They were supposed to meet at The Grove earlier that day.

Correction: This article misspelled one instance of Audrey's name.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Los Angeles Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Dramatic Photos: 2 NYPD Officers Killed in Ambush]]> Mon, 22 Dec 2014 07:05:49 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/shot+cop+scene.jpg A gunman ambushed and fatally shot two NYPD officers in their squad car Saturday, an act that Police Commissioner Bill Bratton condemned as an "assassination."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Shoppers Flock to Stores on "Super Saturday"]]> Sun, 21 Dec 2014 09:25:34 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/union_square_shopping_super_saturday.jpg

'Twas the Saturday before Christmas and all through the Bay Area, not a department store wasn't filled up and cutting prices on name brands.

Well, maybe not every store, but "Super Saturday" is considered one of the busiest days of the holiday shopping season, with stores opening early, closing late and offering door-buster deals for shoppers who procrastinated on checking off their Christmas lists.

Some Kohl's locations are staying open 24-hours-a-day through Christmas Eve, starting Saturday. Walmart cut prices on TVs, electric scooters, cameras and more, according to a press release.

Some people were dressing up for the shopping event in San Francisco.

Brick-and-mortar stores tend to offer good deals Saturday, according to an analysis by DealNews: 30 percent of their editors' choice deals came the Saturday before Christmas last year, compared to 23 percent on Sunday.

With Saturday being the last day the U.S. Postal Service could guarantee packages shipped standard to reach their destinations by Christmas Day, some analysts think the day's sales might help make up for a lackluster Black Friday at retail stores.

But not everyone agreed - websites continue offering sales as well.

"I think because a lot of retails are offering these last-minute shipping guarantees as late as Monday or even Tuesday, a lot of last-minute consumers are going to be doing their shopping online," said Trae Bodge, an analyst with Retailmenot.com.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[4 Arrested in Mall Brawl]]> Sat, 20 Dec 2014 22:40:14 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/westfield+mall.jpg

Four people – three adults and one minor – are facing charges after police used pepper spray to break up a brawl at the Westfield Shopping Center in Meriden on Saturday.

According to Meriden police, two underage girls approached an officer working at the mall to help with holiday crowd control around 6:20 p.m. and told him they were afraid a mother and daughter were going to attack them.

While the officer was talking to them, the mother and daughter rushed over and started screaming and making a scene, police said. The officer held them back but the daughter was able to break away and began assaulting one of the other girls.

It spread from there, with more than half a dozen people joining in as a crowd of 100 shoppers gathered around the group. Police said the officer was alone and afraid for his own safety so he used his pepper spray to fend off the instigators.

The crowd then dispersed and other officers arrived to help. The fire department was also called in to help treat other people who were inadvertently sprayed, and brought in fans to disperse the fumes.

Police said no one was seriously hurt and "the disruption to holiday shoppers was minimal."

Three adults were arrested, along with the daughter who police say started the fight, but authorities have not released their names or any information on the charges they face.

Photo Credit: Flickr/Mike Mozart]]>
<![CDATA[Officer Cleared of Killing Dog]]> Sun, 21 Dec 2014 09:52:43 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/cleburne-cop-dog.jpg

A two-month long independent investigation found that a Cleburne Police officer was justified when he shot and killed a pit bull named Maximus earlier this year.

The incident sparked outrage after video from Officer Kevin Dupre’s body camera surfaced online showing him firing at the dog. Though the shooting occurred on August 10, it wasn’t until October that someone filed an open records request for the video and it was widely distributed.

After the video was released, Dupre was placed on paid administrative leave and leaders in Cleburne asked for an independent investigation into the matter. They hired Alan Patton, a retired police sergeant with no previous ties to Cleburne. On October 31, Cleburne Police turned over all reports, copies of video, and statements to him for review.

“We wanted to be extremely thorough to ensure the public had confidence in the results,” said Scott Cain, Mayor of the City of Cleburne.

Saturday, the city released Patton’s final report on the investigation, in which he states, “due to the actions of an aggressive animal, Officer Dupre reasonably believed he needed to use lethal, deadly force in defense of his own life.”

In his 28 page report, Patton details the encounter Dupre had with a group of dogs that were on the loose and explains how video evidence backs up claims that Maximus was showing signs of aggression. He consulted with experts from the Fort Worth Police Department and Los Angeles Police Department and reviewed articles written by animal behaviorists during his investigation.

“I know some people are not going to be satisfied with the investigation’s results,” said Cain. “We agreed to let the chips fall where they may and we gave up control of the investigation.  And the chips have now fallen.”

Maximus’ owners, Amanda Henderson and Quinton Tatum, said while they wish their dog was still alive, they accept the report’s findings.

“We lost a very precious fur baby of ours and all we wanted to know from the beginning is why,” said Henderson. “And they explained to us why and I respect that.”

The city also announced immediate changes to its canine encounter policies, which include new processes for reporting and investigating these kinds of incidents, as well as mandatory training for all police officers.

“For them to already be taking steps in the right direction to not let this happen again, it’s justice I believe,” said Tatum.

“I know a lot of people may not understand that,” said Henderson. “There are going to be people that are angry and that’s okay. But we also ask that no one does anything just because you’re angry. Please, let’s keep it at peace.”

During the height of the firestorm surrounding the case, Dupre received multiple death threats and the city’s website was hacked in possible retaliation. There were also several protests.

Dupre has now been fully reinstated to the Cleburne Police Department. 

Cain echoed Henderson’s and Tatum’s calls for peace.

“Let me make this extremely clear,” said Cain. “If you think you’re going to come into our community and threaten an officer who’s been exonerated or anyone else in our community, we will use the full extent of the law to prosecute you and we will not tolerate it. So we are going to make certain that he and his family are safe, just as we would any other person in our community.”

Cain said the city is also looking into increasing penalties for dog owners whose pets frequently get loose.

Photo Credit: Cleburne Police Department
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<![CDATA[San Mateo County Declares State of Emergency]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 23:22:31 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/223*120/south+bay.JPG

We knew the storm damage on the Peninsula was bad — now San Mateo County supervisors say it's a full blown state of emergency.

With millions in damage done, the supervisors made that official declaration just hours ago. The supervisors saw a short but detailed report on the storm damage and saw some images of the flooding, prompting them to take a first step towards making some repairs.

At the Belmont mobile home park that flooded in last week’s storm, most residents are trying to dry out.

“I’ve been here for four years and I haven’t seen anything quite as bad as that,” said. “It got inside of my place,” said Randell Chavez. “The water kind of got inside my place.”

Friday’s new rain also brought new problems, a large oak tree fell. The storm damage is now estimated at more than $3 million across the county.

“The most severe impact can be seen in some trailer homes in Redwood City and Belmont,” said San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine. “Flooding was also seen in Pescadero, San Bruno and South San Francisco.”

Now the Board of Supervisors is voting to declare a local state of emergency to help fund the cleanup.

“What is does is makes the county of San Mateo eligible for state and federal funds should those authorities also declare an emergency,” Pine said.

In the aftermath, there was a large emergency response, extra resources.

“We put all of that into the proclamation and hope that our residents are assisted and public infrastructure as well,” said Supervisor Don Horsly.

Neighbors are hopeful it will free up money to prevent future problems.

<![CDATA[Chicago Mayor's Son Robbed]]> Sat, 20 Dec 2014 22:10:59 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/mayor%27s+son+robbed.jpg

Police are investigating the robbery of Mayor Rahm Emaneul's son, which occurred near the family's home in the Ravenswood neighborhood Friday night, according to a spokesperson for the mayor.

The incident happened in the 4200 block of North Hermitage at about 10:05 p.m. The mayor's son, 17-year-old Zach Emanuel, was walking in the block when he was approached by two unknown male offenders who grabbed him and went through his pockets. The offenders took his phone and then fled the scene, according to police news affairs.

Zach Emanuel sustained injuries that required medical treatment, according to Kelley Quinn, a spokesperson for the mayor.

The police cameras on the corner of the block were reportedly not working during the incident, according to a City of Chicago source.

Neighbors said they were surprised the incident occurred on their block because they say there is always security in front of the mayor's home and in the alley. Police sources are saying the security detail did not see the reported robbery.

Several police officers were seen on the mayor's front porch late Friday night and Saturday morning.

Area North detectives are investigating.

<![CDATA[Sunday is Last Day to Finish Covered CA Applications]]> Sat, 20 Dec 2014 17:08:06 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/tlmd_covered_california.jpg

The deadline for Californians seeking health insurance through the state's Covered California program is Sunday.

Those who have already started the application process have until then to finish signing up to get insurance by Jan. 1.

More than 91,000 new enrollees signed up for insurance through Covered California from Nov. 15 to Dec. 11.

The state expects most existing customers will have their plans automatically renewed.

Photo Credit: Covered California]]>
<![CDATA[Holiday Billboard in Chico Shows Santa Holding Gun]]> Sun, 21 Dec 2014 12:16:15 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/santa_holding_gun_chico.jpg

A holiday billboard has fired up a debate in a Northern California city.

The owners of Down Range shooting range put up a sign outside their business in Chico, depicting Santa Claus holding a gun. The sign reads "We build AR's for Santa."

The owners of the gun range told NBC affiliate KNVN-TV in Chico that they are Santa's little helpers, and they can fill his orders for AR rifles.

Down Range co-owner Steve Dyke said in an interview that some people get toys, some get guns.

"Some people get firearms," Dyke said. "So and when Santa needs help putting together an AR rifle, we can definitely help him out with that."

While one Chico resident said people need to "see the humor in it" others said the sign is in poor taste.

"I just don't think I would like my son see Santa holding a gun, having to explain to him that's usually not what Santa's holding," one parent said.

"The idea of this symbol of joy and giving and holding an assault rifle, it's just so contradictory," Chico resident Tom Imhoff told KNVN.

But the owners of the gun range disagree.

"Santa has got his eye protection on, his fingers off the trigger, the gun's pointed in a safe direction, so those are the things we want to promote is the safety when people are doing the shooting sports industry," Dyke's partner Will Clark said.

"This is not meant to be offensive in any way. If you need help, if Santa needs help, we're here to help," Dyke said.

The owners said the sign is temporary, but it will not be their last. A sign featuring the Easter bunny or Cupid may be next.

Photo Credit: KNVN]]>
<![CDATA[Controversy Brews at SJ City Hall Over District 4 Rep]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 19:23:16 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/margie-matthews.jpg

The San Jose City Council voted 6-0 with one abstention Friday evening to appoint Margie Matthews to an empty Council District 4 seat until an election is held for a successor.

Matthews is a former City Council member who once represented District 4, where Assemblyman Kansen Chu, D-San Jose, served for more that seven years before resigning last month following his election to State Assembly District 25 on Nov. 4.

The city council met Friday to replace the District 4 seat vacated by Chu. In a mixed vote earlier this month, the council decided to appoint an interim replacement, rather than waiting till January. A special election will be held April 22.

The sped-up appointment process and Liccardo's quick recommendation of former council member Matthews had critics accusing the mayor-elect of ignoring democracy, bypassing voters and insulting the employee unions.

Several council members, including Ash Kalra, boycotted the replacement process Friday calling it a rushed power grab by Liccardo to get more supporters on the council.

"By pushing through this appointment he may feel this is a sign of strength but it's actually a very, very distinct sign of weakness," Kalra said.

“It's unprecedented, it's dishonest, It's unethical," said former council Kansen Chu.

The police and firefighter unions say they feel betrayed by the new mayor, and see a long drawn out fight over pension reform.

“It may be unavoidable and that's too bad. It's sad for the troops,” said POA president-elect Paul Kelly. “ I think it’s sad for city hall and its citizens and everybody in district four."

Liccardo did not back off his support for Matthews as she did her public interview before the council. And he pointed out the council followed all legal processes and that the district needed representation as soon as possible.

Liccardo scoffed at accusations he betrayed anyone.

"We know a lot of people would like to hit the re-set button on the last mayoral election,” he said. “I know that. We are going to continue to work with everybody."

Bay City News contributed to this report.

<![CDATA[Sidecar to Let Customers Choose Gender of Drivers]]> Sun, 21 Dec 2014 22:51:29 -0800 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/226*120/cab2.jpg

A Bay Area ride-share service is planning to step up to help female passengers feel safe.

Sidecar has announced on its blog it is letting customers select the gender of their drivers.

The San Francisco company has been letting users customize rides since February. And gender selection is the latest option.

This comes as Uber faces increasing criticism about its drivers. On Wednesday, an Uber driver near Boston was charged with sexually assaulting a passenger.

Photo Credit: Jeff Gilmore]]>