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    Residents living near Marine Corps Air Station Miramar were concerned this morning when they spotted thick, black smoke in the air over the base. 

    Using Twitter, MCAS Miramar officials reassured the community that the smoke was from a training exercise for their airfield firefighters.

    [[502780841,C]]

    Commuters driving along Interstate 15 saw the smoke hanging in the air on the east side of the military base. 


    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

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    Photo Credit: Courtesy of Shawn Mowry

    A screen shot of home surveillance video showing a delivery driver throwing an Amazon package from a home's front yard onto the porch.A screen shot of home surveillance video showing a delivery driver throwing an Amazon package from a home's front yard onto the porch.

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    Inside the leaky, desolate confines of the building recently named New Jersey's saddest mall, only one tenant remains.

    And not just any tenant. Petal, a life-size elephant made completely out of fiberglass, served as a memorable fixture of the Burlington Center Mall for the past 30 years.

    Now, she’s facing eviction from the only place she has called home.

    The local sculptor who designed and created the fountain elephant decades ago, Zenos Frudakis, says he’s gone on to complete more than 100 large pieces around the world. (Close to home, and perhaps most controversially notable, he also designed the Frank Rizzo statue. "I didn't vote for him," Frudakis said.)

    But it’s clear that Petal holds a special place in his heart.

    "The elephant was my first big piece,” he said. "I did it when I was still a student. ... It’s like my firstborn."

    The elephant fountain was originally commissioned by Stockton Strawbridge, the scion of the Strawbridge and Clothier retail empire. Strawbridge had just returned from Africa and wanted children to be as thrilled by the elephants as he was.

    Petal measures 11 feet high and 8 feet wide, 12 feet from front to back, and carries a full-size child on her back. Her informal name, Petal, comes from her real-life model at the Philadelphia Zoo.

    Petal made her debut at the Burlington Center Mall in the summer of 1982. When the mall opened, it was anchored by Sears, Strawbridge’s (now Macy’s), and JCPenney’s among its 100 stores and restaurants. But 30 years later, it began to struggle.

    In 2007, an incident of gang violence leading to temporary mall closures left some residents uncertain about its safety, NJ.com reported. In 2017, an Advance Media ranking of New Jersey’s malls called Burlington Center "rundown and deserted", placing it dead last. And finally, in January 2018, frozen pipes burst, damaging the fire alarm system and leading to officials’ decision to close the mall earlier than its previously scheduled shutdown in March, the South Jersey Courier Post reported.

    Google reviewers call Burlington Mall a “ghost town” and an “asphalt wasteland,” although it isn’t the only one struggling to compete with the convenience of online shopping and the lure of to-door delivery. The American mall itself is dying; according to a 2017 report published in Fortune, 1 out of every 4 malls is projected to close by 2022

    The plan is to demolish the shopping center. But even though the mall can’t be saved, Frudakis insists the elephant can be.

    “A public work of art like Petal should find a home where it can be enjoyed,” Frudakis Studio spokesman John Xuereb said. “A public work that brought so much joy to so many people deserves to have another life.”

    The mall's owners, Moonbeam Capital Investments, are willing to donate the sculpture to any organization for free, providing that they're willing to move it, according to the studio. 

    The artist hopes somewhere like a non-profit organization, a zoo or a hospital can continue to enjoy Petal. But while several parties have expressed interest in adopting the parentless pachyderm, none have committed to take her.

    That might be because of the cost of the fountain’s removal and installation, which Frudakis hopes to cover with a GoFundMe page. Petal has multiple fans, the studio said, who call her every week hoping to hear about the fate of their friend.

    “Some of them came as children to see the sculpture, and have children of their own now,” Frudakis added.

    For now, Petal’s still waiting in the now-defunct Burlington Center Mall. She’ll be there, Xuereb says, until she can be moved, either to a temporary or a permanent new home.



    Photo Credit: Dan Farrell/NBC10
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

    Petal, a statue at the vacant Burlington County Mall in New Jersey, is desperately searching for a new home.Petal, a statue at the vacant Burlington County Mall in New Jersey, is desperately searching for a new home.

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    A top secret U.S. military assessment found that North Korea is still evading U.N. sanctions by transferring oil at sea, and that a coalition of U.S.-led forces deployed to disrupt the movements has failed to dent the overall number of illegal transfers, three U.S. officials familiar with the intelligence told NBC News

    The finding underscores the Trump administration's struggle to maintain economic pressure on North Korea amid a diplomatic bid to persuade Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear and missile arsenal. The smuggled fuel provides a crucial lifeline for the regime's economy and armed forces. 

    The U.S. Pacific Command assessment, labeled "Top Secret," found that the presence of warships and surveillance aircraft deployed by an eight-nation coalition since September has forced North Korea to adjust its tactics at sea, including transferring oil farther away from the Korean Peninsula and often in other countries' territorial waters. 

    The White House and the State Department declined requests for comment. Click here for NBC News' full report.



    Photo Credit: AP

    In this Jan. 20, 2017, image released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, surveillance aircraft spots a Dominican-flagged Yuk Tung oil tanker after it transferred fuel to the North Korean-registered Rye Song tanker in the open South China Sea.In this Jan. 20, 2017, image released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, surveillance aircraft spots a Dominican-flagged Yuk Tung oil tanker after it transferred fuel to the North Korean-registered Rye Song tanker in the open South China Sea.

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    The U.S. Department of Education said Thursday it is cancelling $150 million in students loans connected to for-profit colleges, complying with a court order that essentially forced the Obama-era move to go through, NBC News reported.

    The discharge of loans affects about 15,000 students who went to colleges that shuttered between Nov. 1, 2013 and Dec. 4, 2018, including Corinthian Colleges, Inc.

    Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had canceled memos imposing tougher rules on for-profit colleges and student loan debt, but lost a challenge brought by states including California.

    The office of Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the top Democrat on the Health, Labor, Education and Pensions Committee, said more than 100,000 students have outstanding claims. Murray said in a statement that, "it's disappointing that it took a court order to get Secretary DeVos to begin providing debt relief to students left in the lurch by predatory for-profit colleges."



    Photo Credit: Jacquelyn Martin/AP, File

    In this Feb. 22, 2018, file photo, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference at National Harbor, Md.In this Feb. 22, 2018, file photo, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference at National Harbor, Md.

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    Mexican fast food chain Del Taco is planting a new item on menus at 16 San Diego-area restaurants: tacos filled with something called “Beyond Meat,” which, as the name suggests, isn’t meat at all.

    Del Taco announced it would begin testing its “Beyond Tacos” menu items in San Diego locations Thursday – from Oceanside and Vista to Lemon Grove and El Cajon – as well as in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties.

    The seasoned filling in those tacos, known as “Beyond Meat,” is made entirely out of plant-based protein – with the main ingredient being yellow peas – as well as coconut oil, ancho chili, onion, garlic, lime juice, oregano, and cumin. The recipe does not contain soy.

    The company said the tacos feed into “a growing demand for vegan and vegetarian options” among patrons. Del Taco said it had successfully pilot-tested the product in Los Angeles and the next logical step was to offer Beyond Tacos across the larger Southern California region.

    According to the company, the plant-based option offers “the same amount of protein and flavor as seasoned beef.”

    The tacos, for now, include the vegan-friendly “Beyond Avocado Taco,” which includes the plant-based protein crumbles, avocado, lettuce and tomatoes in a crunchy shell. This taco is dairy-free. The other option is the vegetarian-friendly “Beyond Taco,” which includes all of the same ingredients, minus the avocado, plus grated cheddar cheese.

    The company said the meat-free filling is not cooked in the restaurants in the same place as animal protein, but the tacos are prepared in the same prep area that does contain animal protein and dairy.

    In addition to the tacos, the Beyond Meat option can be ordered as a substitute for any protein in existing items on the Del Taco menu, including burritos and fries, for an additional charge.

    The local restaurants testing out the plant-based tacos are:

     

    • 141 Broadway Suite A, El Cajon
    • 1605 E. Valley Pkwy, Escondido
    • 1270 W. Valley Pkwy, Escondido
    • 110 W. El Norte Parkway, Escondido
    • 7060 Broadway, Lemon Grove
    • 1601 Carmelo Dr, Oceanside
    • 1970 College Blvd, Oceanside
    • 2269 S. El Camino Real, Oceanside
    • 1155 B Street, San Diego
    • 3896 Clairemont Dr, San Diego
    • 2804 Main St, San Diego
    • 7919 Mission Center Road, San Diego
    • 3106 Sports Arena Blvd, San Diego
    • 736 S. Rancho Santa Fe, San Marcos
    • 9822 N. Magnolia Ave, Santee
    • 1037 E. Bobier Dr, Vista

     

    If the test in San Diego is successful, the company will likely look to take the tacos to other markets.

    Del Taco was founded in 1964 in Yermo, California, with a menu of 19-cent tacos and other items. Today, the chain operates 560 restaurants across 14 states.



    Photo Credit: Del Taco

    Del Taco's Del Taco's "Beyond Meat" tacos feature a seasoned plant-based filling and could cater to the preferences of vegans and vegetarians.

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    NBC 7's Derek Togerson sorts through some emotional stuff in this commentary

    I’m conflicted.

    I want to hate the Chargers. I want to want them to lose by 90 every week. I want to want them to be as big an embarrassment on the field as they are in the owner’s booth, which is awfully difficult to do.

    I despise what the Spanos family did in moving the team 100 miles and an entire universe away. I don’t want that group to fail upwards like some kind of Goldman Sachs executives.

    However, the last few weeks something that had been buried deep beneath the hatred of the people making the bad decisions has re-awoken:

    I still really like those guys in the locker room.

    I still get giddy with I see Philip Rivers finding Antonio Gates for 11 yards on 3rd and 10. I still like it when rookies like Derwin James and Justin Jackson, one who was expected to be a superstar and one who was a 7th round afterthought, both make big plays and are tickled to talk about it on camera.

    After their win over the Steelers I shook their hands in the locker room and sincerely offered congratulations because it felt like old times. Watching them get back to the playoffs again with a comeback at Arrowhead Stadium put a smile on my face. It’s not the players’ fault the team moved.

    But the team did move. The Chargers left us.

    And there’s the conflict.

    The last time the Chargers were in the playoffs the city of San Diego went bonkers. I was in the team hotel in Denver talking to Tom Telesco (another good guy I’m happy for). He looked out over the throng of San Diego football fans that had made the mile high trek and said he’d never seen a fan base react like this.

    Keep in mind he was in Indianapolis during the Peyton Manning years.

    That was when the Chargers represented America’s Finest City. My city. They don’t do that anymore.

    I thought I could forget about the friendships and the good times that were had with the guys on the field and lump anyone involved with the team into one big ball of “Screw you for all eternity!”

    That has proven impossible.

    I recognize that the more success the players have the more success Deano has and that kills me. That person doesn’t deserve the chance to even THINK he had anything to do with team accomplishments.

    But … the guys. There are too many guys that I want to see something good happen for.

    Besides, no matter what they do the city of Los Angeles is not going to care. What the Dodgers did NOT do during the Baseball Winter Meetings made more news in L.A. than anything the Chargers DO do.

    This is not a perfect situation. I’m too emotionally invested in that locker room to not get excited about what might be happening. This team is legitimately good enough to win a championship. So after way too much reflection and self-analysis I’ve landed on this conclusion:

    I want Rivers and Gates to taste the Super Bowl more than I want Spanos to choke on the AFC Championship trophy.

    Damn it.

    Go Bolts.


    Philip Rivers and the Chargers beat the Chiefs 29-28 on Thursday night to clinch a playoff spot. (Getty Images)Philip Rivers and the Chargers beat the Chiefs 29-28 on Thursday night to clinch a playoff spot. (Getty Images)

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    Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he does not want to be White House chief of staff, just hours after multiple reports said he was President Trump's leading choice for the job.

    "It's an honor to have the President consider me as he looks to choose a new White House chief-of-staff," Christie said in a statement to The New York Times. "However, I've told the President that now is not the right time for me or my family to undertake this serious assignment. As a result, I have asked him to no longer keep me in any of his considerations for this post."

    Christie met with Trump Thursday night about the White House chief of staff job and was considered a "top contender" for the role, sources told NBC News earlier Friday.

    Christie's candidacy was being boosted both publicly and privately by South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a source told NBC.

    Axios and Bloomberg also reported Friday that Christie was a top contender, and a Washington Post reporter tweeted that the paper was about to report the same thing when his statement landed. 

    Christie, one of the most unpopular governors in recent American history, was nonetheless an outspoken supporter of the president's, and for a time led his transition team.

    At one point he was also considered to be in the running for attorney general. 

    But analysts questioned whether Christie could actually fit in the administration given his history with the president's son-in-law and advisor, Jared Kushner.

    In 2005, as U.S. attorney in New Jersey, Christie put Kushner's father in prison on tax and other charges. 



    Photo Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP, File

    This Oct. 26, 2017, file photo shows then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speak to members of the media outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington after attending a speech by President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump on the opioid crisis.This Oct. 26, 2017, file photo shows then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speak to members of the media outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington after attending a speech by President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump on the opioid crisis.

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    A group of senior citizens living in Hillcrest raised their concerns about the misuse of electric scooters in their neighborhood.

    They spent Thursday evening voicing their frustrations to City Councilmember Chris Ward at a meeting at the Trinity Manor Apartments. They say riders are leaving their scooters scattered on the ground, and complain that many of the riders are unlicensed.

    “What happens when one of these kids hits you and you have now a claim? The kid is long gone,” one woman said.

    Seniors say scooters, whether they have riders on them or not, have become a danger on the sidewalks.

    David Voth told Councilman Ward he wants more enforcement on scooter regulations.

    "I see underage kids riding these scooters like Kamikazes in the street,” he said. “They don't pay attention to the street signs, they don't pay attention to right of way."

    Nick Machniski was frustrated with how scooters and bikes are just left anywhere.

    "The bicycles that arrived for the rental on the street, they were all over the place as I remember. But is it my imagination? I'm not seeing them,” he said.

    Machinski said it’s easy for anyone, young or old, to trip over a scooter or bike and hurt themselves.

    The group doesn’t think the issue is going to go away any time soon.

    Councilmen Ward listened to their concerns and said he will bring them to the City Council.


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    Warning: Graphic images and video may be shown as part of the district attorney's news conference. Viewer discretion is advised.

    The San Diego County District Attorney's Office ruled officers acted reasonably under the circumstances in eight officer-involved shootings and four in-custody deaths. 

    Twelve letters were released Friday to local law enforcement agencies informing them of the results of the DA Office’s review. 

    "Our job is to deliver equal justice that is fair under the law for everyone," said District Attorney Summer Stephan, adding that the release of any video in these cases must be respectful to the families of those who have died or have been injured as well as to the officers involved.

    In all of the incidents, the officers bear no criminal liability for their actions, Stephan said.

    The DA will provide video and other details regarding the following investigations: 

    Kristopher Birtcher - October 19, 2017 

    A stun gun was deployed and maximum restraints used after Kristopher Birtcher was resisting San Diego County sheriff's deputies' attempts to detain him. The incident took place near the Hobby Lobby on Grand Avenue in San Marcos.  Deputies believed he was under the influence of drugs and gave him Naloxone to treat what they believed was a drug overdose. Birtcher's condition worsened on the way to a hospital where he was pronounced dead in the emergency room.

    James Lacy - August 7, 2017

    James H. Lacey was shot and killed in Banker's Hill after he reportedly threatened to shoot two deputies who were trying to evict him from his 2nd Avenue apartment. The 47-year-old was shot by two San Diego County sheriff's deputies.

    Oscar Leal - February 28, 2018

    Oscar Leal, 37, was arrested by SDSO deputies for being under the influence of a controlled substance after he called 911 several times and was being taken to the Vista Detention Facility when he began to behave oddly, the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office said. At the jail, Leal became unresponsive.

    Alexander Ochoa - September 22, 2017

    Oceanside police encountered Alexander Ochoa, 26, who they say was armed with a knife on Marron Road near College Boulevard, in the parking lot of the Kohl's Department store. Bean bags and K-9 officers were deployed before Ochoa pulled out a handgun, officers said. Officers opened fire, killing Ochoa.

    Osbaldo Ramirez - March 17, 2018 

    Osbaldo Ramirez Jimenez, 50, died at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido from gunshot wounds suffered in the encounter with police in the parking lot of the Valley View Casino & Hotel. Escondido police were the first officers to encounter Ramirez as they responding to a family disturbance on Timber Glen. Ramirez fled the neighborhood in a car and refused to yield for law enforcement officers. The San Diego County Sheriff's Department (SDSO) and San Pasqual Tribal Police were called to help. At least one law enforcement officer fired, fatally injuring Ramirez.

    Paul Silva - February 22, 2018

    Paul Silva, 39, was schizophrenic but was not on his prescribed medication when his mother called San Diego police to have him taken to a medical facility for treatment, the family said. Silva was taken to the Central Jail downtown and handed over to San Diego County sheriff's deputies. The family's attorney said a stun gun was used on Silva while he was in custody. Silva was removed from life support weeks after his arrest.

    Jose Trujillo - July 25, 2018

    San Diego County sheriff's deputies opened fire on Jose Trujillo after a pursuit that reached speeds over 100 miles per hour. The pursuit began in Vista at about 8:45 p.m. when Trujillo refused to yield to deputies. During the pursuit, officials say Trujillo called 911 and informed the dispatcher that he had a loaded 9mm handgun and wanted to commit "suicide by cop." When the vehicle reached the Los Penasquitos Lagoon, Trujillo got out of the vehicle. Two deputies opened fire and shot Trujillo in the upper torso. 

    Robert Westbrook - September 8, 2017

    Robert Westbrook, 31, was shot by a deputy after he allegedly refused to follow commands, pulling out a replica handgun in the confrontation. State Route 125 was closed for hours as a result of the incident. San Diego County sheriff's deputies were initially called to check on the welfare of a man who was threatening to harm himself. Westbrook was found inside a parked car on the freeway. Deputies say Westbrook stepped out of the car with a handgun. That's when the deputy opened fire, striking and injuring him. 

    Other cases to be discussed involve Paul Rivera, Jason Santana, Guillermo Corrales and Javier Gomez.

    NBC 7 will live stream the news conference beginning at 11 a.m. 



    Photo Credit: San Diego County District Attorney's Office

    Summer Stephan will present the results of investigations in a number of cases involving local law enforcement.Summer Stephan will present the results of investigations in a number of cases involving local law enforcement.

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    A former employee at Valley Center High School was arrested Monday on suspicion of multiple counts of online sexual exploitation of children and sending harmful material to minors. 

    Steven L. Duncan, 65, was taken into custody by members of the San Diego Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. 

    He's accused of receiving images from underage children. No details were given about the images involved in the allegation.

    Duncan was once employed at Valley Center High School and investigators said he was known to be in communication with or following former students through social media. 

    Victims live in the U.S. and other countries, officials said. 

    Anyone who believes they have information regarding Duncan and the allegations may call the task force at (858) 715-7100.

    Valley Center High School is located on Cole Grade Road and serves approximately 4,000 students.

    This is a developing story.


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    Former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who was convicted in October of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald, will be sentenced on Jan. 18, a judge said Friday. 

    The sentencing date followed a ruling denying motions for a new trial and to set aside a jury's verdict in the case.

    Van Dyke appeared before Judge Vincent Gaughan for the second time since his conviction in a trial that captured the nation. He wore a prison-issued jumpsuit and a Department of Corrections windbreaker as he stood in open court.

    Lawyers for both sides argued their positions on a motion filed by Van Dyke's defense seeking to set aside the jury's verdict convicting him of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery. 

    The judge denied that request. 

    Attorneys then argued motions for a new trial, which was also denied by Gaughan. 

    The ex-Chicago officer made his first post-trial appearance in October, but no sentencing date was set. Instead, Van Dyke's defense filed two new motions - one requesting a new trial and the other asking that the judge set aside the jury's verdict in his case. 

    Van Dyke was convicted on Oct. 5 of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery in the fatal shooting of McDonald

    The long-awaited verdict came almost exactly four years after Van Dyke shot 17-year-old McDonald 16 times on the city's Southwest Side.

    Dashcam video showing the shooting shook the city and the nation, sparking massive protests and calls for justice.

    Van Dyke's attorneys have maintained the Chicago officer was wrongly charged, saying he was acting within the law when he shot the teen, who at the time was an armed felon fleeing a crime scene.

    They have vowed to continue fighting the decision.

    Not long after his conviction, Van Dyke was transferred to the Rock Island County Jail in far northwestern Illinois, one of 45 jail detainees who are being kept outside of Cook County.

    The move was for security reasons, not due to any health concerns, a spokesman for the Cook County sheriff's office said, adding that Van Dyke was a high-profile case for whom more security was deemed appropriate. 

    Second-degree murder carries a four- to 20-year prison sentence, but can also result in four years of probation instead of prison. Aggravated battery carries a six- to 30-year sentence, 85 percent of which must be served.


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    No humbugs allowed: 'Twas a festive night of epic performances when ALT 949's Not So Silent Night holiday show took over Del Mar Arena with Thirty Seconds to Mars, Elle King and more.

    Photo Credit: Alex Matthews

    Headlined by Thirty Seconds to Mars, the Dec. 9 mini-fest couldn't have been better if Santa had hand-delivered it himself! (Jared Leto pictured)Headlined by Thirty Seconds to Mars, the Dec. 9 mini-fest couldn't have been better if Santa had hand-delivered it himself! (Jared Leto pictured)

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    Deputies were called to Santana High School in Santee Friday morning to investigate an alleged threat of violence, the sheriff’s department confirmed.

    San Diego County Sheriff’s Department (SDSO) Lt. Karla Menzies said a parent called 911 at around 11 a.m. to report that her daughter had received some sort of message saying someone had threatened to shoot up the school.

    As of 11:10 a.m., the school was not on lockdown as deputies headed to the campus. By 11:20 a.m., the SDSO said deputies had searched the school and deemed it safe.

    Seventeen years ago, Santana High School was the scene of a mass shooting. On March 5, 2001, Santana High School freshman Charles “Andy” Williams, 15, opened fire at the school, killing two students – Brian Zuckor, 14, and Randy Gordon, 17 – and wounding 13 others.

    Friday also marked the 6th anniversary of the horrific mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, that left 20 first-graders and six teachers dead. A bomb threat Friday morning forced the evacuation of that school. Police there said the threat was not believed to be credible but officials took it seriously.

    Menzies said a school resource officer would continue to investigate Friday's incident at Santana High School.

    NBC 7 reached out to Grossmont Union High School District spokesperson Catherine Martin for additional details. Martin said deputies had investigated and "deemed the threat unfounded."

    No one was hurt.



    Photo Credit: AP

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    A husband and wife team who own a barbershop and salon in North Park are feeling the love from their community in the face of the hate that struck their small business earlier this week.

    On Wednesday, Christopher and Melissa Cage showed up to work at their barbershop on 30th Street, Originality Barber Salon, like any normal day. As they approached the business, they noticed a neighbor looking closely at the ground outside the entrance.

    Melissa looked down and saw a hateful, racially-charged phrase scrolled on the ground. The tears welled up in her eyes.

    “I was mad. I almost started crying,” she told NBC 7. “I was like, ‘You know what? I can’t let this get to me. I’m just going to finish my day, clean it up, and go about my business.’”

    The Cages recorded video of the slur on their phones to show to investigators. They rolled up their sleeves and began trying to remove the words before any of their clients could arrive for their haircuts. They called the police and filed a report.

    Every emotion imaginable ran through their minds but, mostly, they just couldn't understand why someone would do this. They felt sadness for whoever had stooped this low.

    “I would just hug them,” Melissa told NBC 7, referring to what she would do if the culprit were standing in front of her. “You must just have something going on with you – some demons – so I would just hug them.”

    “I would shake his hand and say, ‘Thanks for the motivation,’” Christopher added. “Thanks for the motivation.”

    The Cages have been in business in North Park for about a year. They’re not sure if their barbershop was specifically targeted but they think it’s possible.

    The couple said Originality Barber Salon serves a diverse clientele. Everyone is welcome there.

    “We get [clients] of all colors, religions, sex, everything – so it really doesn’t make sense of why they would do that over here,” Christopher added.

    After police officers took a report at the barbershop, the Cages continued to clean up the sidewalk. 

    They got some help from neighbors including the owners of the nearby Beerfish restaurant and Fall Brewing Company, who came over to the shop with a power-washer and made the words disappear.

    The Cages also began receiving phone calls, messages and visits from clients, locals and other North Park business owners.

    The outpouring of support, Christopher said, has been overwhelming.

    He told NBC 7 Friday that locals have been dropping by the barbershop to tell them how much they want the Cages to continue to run their business in the neighborhood.

    "People are coming in, telling us, 'Don't go anywhere. We want you here,'" Christopher added.

    Melissa said that's the plan.

    “You didn’t push us away; we’re here to stay,” said Melissa. “We’re going to continue to cut everybody’s hair. This is who we are. We can’t change our skin color. We’re here to stay.”

    Christopher said they would stay focused on growing their business and providing quality service to the community.

    "We have a family -- we're going to stay super positive," he said.

    The barbershop is not equipped with security cameras but the couple plan to install cameras after this incident. They also hope police add more patrols to the neighborhood to keep this type of thing from happening to other business owners or residents.



    Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

    Melissa and Christopher Cage plan to equip their salon with security cameras after the disturbing incident.Melissa and Christopher Cage plan to equip their salon with security cameras after the disturbing incident.

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    Professionals are warning parents that they should talk to their kids as a new viral challenge spreads across social media and puts children in potential danger.

    The "Momo Challenge" is an online cyberbullying game targeting young kids and teenagers through Facebook and WhatsApp. It threatens children with violence if they don't commit potentially dangerous activities.

    Children who participate in the challenge are first sent a message with a photo of a woman with bulging eyes, an elongated face and a large, contorted smile.

    Accompanying the photo is a message that directs children to commit various acts - some simple, some more violent - and show photographic proof of those acts or risk being harmed.

    NBC10 spoke to one young New Jersey boy who was sent the photo by a classmate.

    "Momo stabs you with a knife when you're sleeping at night," said the boy, who is not being identified by NBC10 because of his age.

    The game has reportedly been linked to suicides in other countries but authorities have not offered proof of that connection.

    In New Jersey, the Cape May Police Department posted a Facebook message to parents warning that, "This 'game' is believed to be a way for people to hack accounts and is psychologically manipulative towards kids and teens."

    Meghan Walls, a pediatric psychologist, says parents should take preemptive action and gently ask their younger children if they know about the challenge.

    "Say something like, 'There's some scary things that pop up on phones and tablets, and if you ever see something like that, come get me,'" Walls said.

    When it comes to older kids, Walls said it's not realistic for parents to threaten to take their phones away, but they should have an open dialogue with their children.

    Parents should let those older kids know that the challenge is cyberbullying, it's potentially dangerous and that they're trusting their kids to let them know what's going on.

    "Especially as kids get older and they're teenagers, they want some of that autonomy and they deserve some of that autonomy as long as they can show you they're responsible enough," Wells said.


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    A sewage spill that dumped millions of gallons of wastewater into the Tijuana River Valley was stopped at 11 a.m. Friday, the International Boundary Water Commission said.

    The failure in a sewage collection main in the city of Tijuana was reported Monday.

    Lori Kuczmanski, Public Affairs Officer for the IBWC said the flow was stopped and a meeting was slated for Monday, Dec. 17 to discuss the spill with Mexican authorities.

    On Tuesday, the Mexican section of the IBWC told the U.S. section an estimated 6 to 7 million gallons of sewage per day was flowing into the Tijuana River Valley and into the Pacific Ocean as a result of the break, the U.S. section said.

    On Wednesday, the IBWC released images of what appear to be sinkholes on the property of an auto repair business in Tijuana. The agency claimed after the Tijuana water utility (CESPT) was notified of the sinkholes, workers diverted water flow from the business in the Colector Poniente in southeast Tijuana to a stormwater collector which drains into the Tijuana River.

    By Wednesday, the flow of wastewater reaching the Tijuana River had been lowered to approximately 4.4 million gallons a day, Kuczmanski said. 

    The County Department of Environmental Health lifted the closure at Silver Strand and Coronado Tuesday, saying that the shorelines were not impacted by the sewage line break because currents were moving south.

    The DEH said it will continue to monitor water quality and will alert the public if anything changes.



    Photo Credit: IBWC
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    A federal jury has found an Imperial Beach man guilty of traveling to Atlanta to have sex with a 9-year-old girl.

     

    The jury on Thursday convicted 39-year-old Craig Alan Castaneda of Imperial Beach, California, after a three-day trial.

    An undercover FBI agent posted an ad on Craigslist in April 2015 posing as a mother seeking a "teacher" for her 9-year-old daughter. Prosecutors say Castaneda responded, describing his prior experience molesting children, including one as young as 4.

    Castaneda continued to correspond with the undercover agent for several weeks and made plans to travel to Atlanta. In one of the last messages before boarding a plane, he instructed the "mother" to buy sex toys and lubricant.

    FBI agents arrested Castaneda when he arrived at the Atlanta airport on May 2, 2015.



    Photo Credit: Fairfax Media via Getty Images

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    Parents at two elementary schools this week were informed that drinking water on their children’s campuses tested positive for lead. 

    Earlier this week, San Diego Unified School District workers found lead in water from four water fountains at Garfield Elementary School. The amount of lead in one of the four fountains was found to be above the federal limit, according to a letter sent home to Garfield parents

    To read the District's testing results for Garfield Elementary, click here.

    On Friday, the district informed parents of students at Ocean Beach Elementary school that they had also found lead in the drinking water at the school’s fountains. 

    To read the District's testing results for Ocean Beach Elementary, click here.

    NBC 7 Investigates has been tracking the testing of water in San Diego County’s schools for more than a year. 

    Samer Naji, a spokesperson for the district confirmed the findings. 

    Naji told NBC 7 Investigates that the amounts of lead detected in water from most of these fountains were below federal guidelines or 15 parts-per-billion but were above the San Diego Unified School District standard for taking action or 5 parts-per-billion. The only fountain that had more than 15 parts-per-billion of lead was at Garfield. 

    Naji said the District was finalizing a report showing the test results, as well as a letter that will be sent home to Ocean Beach Elementary School parents. 

    A meeting has been scheduled for parents at Garfield Elementary School for Tuesday, December 18. 

    San Diego Unified said students at both campuses were provided bottled water if there wasn’t a water fountain close by that did not test positive for lead. 

    The American Academy of Pediatrics has found no amount of lead in water is safe for children to drink.


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    A National City family’s home was burglarized just weeks before the holidays and what made things more tragic is that the father is undergoing treatment for cancer.

    Adrian Ortega was diagnosed with stage 4 testicular cancer in May. The cancer spreading and his health continues to decline.

    Thursday, his wife Jessica Tolentino received more terrible news from her aunt.

    “She's like well the lights on, the door is open she was like, ‘I’m not gonna go in. I don't know who is in there,’ so she called the cops,” Tolentino said.

    Thieves broke into her home and took just about everything they can get their hands on — Christmas presents, diapers, an Xbox, important documents and Ortega’s cancer medication.

    "They took random stuff and they took stuff that couldn't be replaced, like videos when he was in the Army, all of his Army pictures, his dog tag, memorabilia he kept from the army," Tolentino told NBC 7.

    Ortega’s two-door Honda Acura RSX was also stolen. Tolentino is due to give birth to the couple’s third child next month.

    During a time where many people are joyous, Tolentino said the family is going through a lot.

    “It doesn’t even feel like Christmas,” she said. “Our spirits are so down.”

    Ortega’s cousin posted a GoFundMe to raise funds to help the family through this tough time.


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