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    The first flu-related death of the season for a person under age 65 in California was confirmed Thursday, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

    State health officials said the victim suffered from chronic conditions and resided in Yolo County.

    County Health and Human Services announced Wednesday that flu season is moving at a higher pace in San Diego than last season. There were 37 flu cases reported last week, bringing the county's total to 258 this year. Last year, there were only 82 flu cases around this time.

    “As this unfortunate case illustrates, the flu can be deadly," CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith said, in a statement. "People with chronic health conditions are among those at greatest risk for severe flu illness and complications such as heart attacks and pneumonia."

    Health officials have warned of a potentially miserable flu season this year, since the Southern Hemisphere was hit. In the past few months, there's been a flu strain going around Australia that's notorious for causing more severe sickness.

    U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials told the Associated Press there's a chance the U.S. could have a similar season to Australia.

    Every year, the flu is estimated to cause millions of illnesses, said CDPH officials. That includes tens of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths.

    The annual flu vaccine helps protect people from the flu. Health officials recommend that everyone six months of age and older take the vaccine.

    High-risk groups for flu complications include pregnant women, children under 2 years of age, adults aged 65 and older and nursing home residents, according to the CDPH.

    In an effort to stop the flu's spread, health officials also encouraged residents to stay home when sick, cover their cough or sneeze with a tissue or sleeve, wash hands thoroughly and avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth.

    Flu outbreaks are possible as early as October, but influenza usually peaks between December and February.

    The CDPH's influenza web page offers more information about the flu.

    Photo Credit: NBC

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    It will be at least another year before a decision is made on whether commercial marijuana growing will be allowed in Encinitas.

    Although a majority of Encinitas voters supported Proposition 64, many say they don’t want pot cultivated or manufactured there, so Wednesday night, the City Council voted 4 to 1 to put the issue back before voters.

    “Voters, is this what you intended with your 65% on 64, is a perfectly legitimate thing,” said City Council Member Tasha Boerner Horvath.

    Not everyone agrees, however.

    Longtime flower farm Dramm & Echter wants to diversify its business by adding two to three acres of marijuana plants.

    "Marijuana cultivation on a limited basis in the city as well as a limited basis on this property could give us some margins on a product that could really help me modernize the rest of my business," Echter said.

    He said he is “disappointed” by the city council’s decision.

    “I was really hoping the city would make a decision, that they would support their commitments to agriculture and to these properties that have dedicated for a long, long time to be in agriculture,” Echter said.

    Another Encinitas resident, who is opposed to allowing marijuana cultivation and manufacturing in the city, said the council should have voted down the issue altogether.

    But a neighbor who lives right next to Dramm & Echter said he thinks the council made the right decision. Chance Mann-Alcoser said the proposed ordinance was “jumping the gun.”

    “It just became legal for recreational use in the state as of 2018, so it’s not even totally legal yet, so to do something like this kind of seems preemptive to me,” he said.

    The City Council is now drafting an ordinance to keep the city’s current regulations in effect through the 2018 vote.

    Then, it will begin drafting the actual ordinance that will go before voters.

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    Parents across Carmel Valley have begun getting calls from San Diego police as authorities continue their investigation into a Carmel Valley mother accused in a drug scandal affecting students at Cathedral Catholic High School and several other schools in the area.

    A 37-count criminal complaint accuses Kimberly Dawn Quach of selling or offering suboxone and Xanax to minors from Jan. 1 to September, as well as giving at least 10 teens marijuana to sell, package or transport.

    As the investigation unfolds, some Cathedral Catholic parents have been speaking with law enforcement officials. 

    Mary Larkin, one of those Cathedral Catholic parents, said Quach hosted parties at her home on Aster Meadow Place. Her daughter, a senior at the school, was on the guest list for one of the parties -- but never went. 

    "I think they wanted more information in general, if they knew anything to contribute, if our daughter or son was a witness or victim," Larkin told NBC 7.

    Multiple neighbors recalled raucous teenage parties at her home, leaving lingering questions about whether Quach's home is the place named in the complaint that she allegedly used to sell, giveaway and use drugs.

    Many of those neighbors also expressed disbelief about the alleged involvement of the mother. 

    "I'm shocked, like I said," said one neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous. "It's just busy; there are five different cars -- for how many people live there, so many cars." 

    Other students from nearby schools are involved in the investigation, according to a letter sent to parents last Friday. 

    It reads, in part:

    "Recently, the parent of a CCHS student was arrested and charged with the sale and possession of illegal drugs and other controlled substances.  The investigation that triggered that arrest is ongoing and affects Cathedral Catholic and other high schools in the area.

    As part of that effort, San Diego Police and the District Attorney’s Office are directly contacting a number of CCHS families to ask for their help. Officers working the case believe there are CCHS students who may be witnesses or who may have information that would assist their them."

    The Vice Chancellor for the Diocese Kevin Eckery said it was put that way in the letter “because the information from the district attorneys office is that there are other schools involved.”

    Eckery said it is unclear whether the drugs were sold on Cathedral’s campus or elsewhere.

    He said it was not his place to name those schools.

    The Superintendent of the San Dieguito Union High School District (SDHSD) said in a statement he is “unaware at this point of any involvement by students from his district.” The statement added that the district has not been contacted by police.

    The principal at Canyon Crest said his school is not involved.

    NBC 7 has reached out to other schools and is waiting to hear back.

    The allegations have prompted CCHS parents to have conversations with their kids.

    "We realize drugs are prevalent everywhere, we just hope she has common sense to realize it and doesn't fall into it," said Barbara Lomax.

    No one answered the door at the 48-year-old suspect's home.

    Quach is in jail on $200,000 bail. She and her attorney denied requests for interviews Wednesday.

    If convicted, she could face 60 years in prison. 

    Photo Credit: NBC 7

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    Dozens of community members spoke in support of a water polo coach and teacher, placed on paid administrative leave by the Coronado Unified School District after allegations that he had an inappropriate relationship with a middle school boy back in 2011.

    Randy Burgess was accused of sexual molestation by a former student but denied the allegations. He has since filed a lawsuit against the school district because no charges were ever filed against him.

    "Nothing happened in terms of this claim. None of it's true," Burgess told NBC 7.

    Thursday, dozens showed up to speak on his behalf--one former student even collected 1,200 petition signatures to have Burgess reinstated.

    "The cloud of doubt will follow him for the rest of his life regardless if he did absolutely nothing wrong," said parent Buzz Fink.

    "They left him in limbo and I believe that's where they made their mistake," said former parent Nathan Smith.

    Smith's sentiment was one heard often after the meeting let out Thursday night.

    Many parents and former students said they were not frustrated by the allegations or the investigation, but rather the waiting game they say Burgess has been forced to play.

    "Safety of children sounds great. That's a political thing to say. That's the correct thing to say. That appeals to all the parents in this small community," said former parent and attorney James Pokorny. "But when you balance that against due process and the fact that there's no further investigation to be done, that smacks of unfairness. He needs his job back."

    One parent spoke out against Burgess, saying her daughter had a negative experience with him in the past. That claim has not been substantiated by police or the school district.

    A judge is expected to rule on Burgess' lawsuit Friday.

    Photo Credit: NBC 7

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    San Diego State University leaders shared an exclusive first look at the plan for an expanded campus at the Mission Valley Stadium Site.

    SDSU West will compete with Soccer City on the ballot in 2018, but unlike Soccer City we haven't seen many details about their vision, until now.

    In a story you'll see only see on NBC 7, school leaders met with architects Thursday for an important update.

    SDSU's vision for a west campus includes a football stadium, apartments, buildings, and classrooms - all of which will be detailed in conceptual renderings over the coming weeks and months.

    However, the plan doesn't start with any of that. It starts with a river.

    Taking a cue from the green belts running through San Diego State's main campus, Design Firm Carrier Johnson, showed off their initial concept for a west campus accentuating the San Diego River.

    It’s a design choice and, more important, a necessity.

    In 1930, the river was actually running through the middle of the site where the university hopes to build.

    Old images show what this part of Mission Valley looked like before Interstate 8 or SDCCU Stadium were built. It was a system of rivers and streams which had to be rerouted to make room for development.

    The system works well unless, of course, it rains.

    In the past excess rain in the Mission Valley area has flooded golf courses and transit stations and even surrounded hotels.

    To deal with the annual rainy season, not to mention a huge 50-year flood, SDSU's design team wants to restore the watershed to its more natural state.

    They've proposed an open space much larger than the $40 million river park shown in renderings proposed by Soccer City.

    SDSU Athletic Director JD Wicker likes what he sees.

    Along with designers, they've hired developers JMI Realty to solve the site's number one problem - hydrology.

    "To Soccer City's credit, they had a plan ready to go if and when the Chargers left, we're taking our time right now," Wicker said.

    SDSU says they will release official renderings soon of the stadium and buildings, but the project's foundation will be rooted in the river.

    The green space would likely include sports fields, a dog park, and lots of trails which will blend up into the campus. It will be at a lower elevation so water can’t get up into the site.

    Designers are promising a magical connection between education, sports, and nature.

    The lead designer made a comment saying you can go to SDCCU stadium for a football game and never even realize the river is there - that won't be the case with their plan.

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    The San Diego trolley’s Green Line now has a new name, per an agreement inked Thursday between the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) and Sycuan Casino.

    In a deal that MTS said will generate up to $25.5 million in non-fare revenue for the company over a time span of up to 30 years, Sycuan Casino secured naming rights to the Green Line, which is now called the Sycuan Green Line.

    The Sycuan Green Line – one of three color-themed trolley lines operated by MTS – is nearly 24 miles long and can be seen zipping along Interstate 8.

    It serves major San Diego areas and attractions including San Diego State University, SDCCU Stadium, Mission Valley, Hazard Center, Fashion Valley, Old Town San Diego, Seaport Village, the San Diego Convention Center, the Gaslamp Quarter and Petco Park. The line also serves 27 stations in the cities of Santee, El Cajon, La Mesa and San Diego.

    The deal between MTS and Sycuan Casino also allows Sycuan to operate shuttles to Sycuan Casino from some MTS Transit Centers including Santee, El Cajon, Grantville and 12th & Imperial. Sycuan also now has the right to change the name of three MTS stations.

    The business deal comes at a good time for the casino in San Diego’s East County. In March, Sycuan announced a $226 million project to build a 12-story, 300-room hotel adjacent to its current casino complete with “lazy river”-style swimming pools, restaurants, meeting rooms and gardens. The hotel is scheduled to open in early 2019.

    MTS chief executive officer Paul Jablonski called the agreement a “sustainable revenue source” that will help the company maintain its level of service throughout San Diego.

    This is the second naming rights agreement for MTS. In July 2015, UC San Diego Health and UC San Diego entered into a $30 million, 30-year agreement to rename the Blue Line the UC San Diego Blue Line.

    The transit company said it continues to seek naming rights partner for its third and final line, the Orange Line, as well as for individual stations.

    MTS’ three trolley lines run on 53 miles of double-tracked railway. In the fiscal year 2017, MTS served more than 88 million riders across its bus and trolley services.

    Photo Credit: San Diego Metropolitan Transit System

    The Sycuan Green Line at the Gaslamp Quarter station in downtown San Diego.The Sycuan Green Line at the Gaslamp Quarter station in downtown San Diego.

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    A Chula Vista man who repeatedly raped a woman at knifepoint during a nearly three-hour ordeal near Balboa Park, after trying to abduct another woman the same night, was sentenced today to 55 years to life in state prison. 

    Ismael Hernandez, Jr. pleaded guilty in June to rape, forcible oral copulation and attempted kidnapping with intent to commit rape. The 28-year-old defendant -- who has a 2012 conviction for robbery -- will have to register as sex offender for life.

    The rape victim, identified in court as Rebecca, said the May 5, 2016, attack has left her filled with anxiety, panic and fear. 

    "You murdered my soul that night and I will never be the same,'' she told the defendant. "You raped and tortured me for nearly three hours. You have stolen my children's mom from them. Your disgusting acts do not define me." 

    The night of the attack, Hernandez was a "predator on our streets looking for someone to rape," prosecutor Judy Taschner said.

    The victim was walking back to her car after work near the south end of Balboa Park about 9:45 p.m. when Hernandez came around a corner, got in her face and said, "Don't scream." 

    She testified that Hernandez had a knife and told her to be quiet or he would hurt her. She said Hernandez walked her to a nearby area and sexually assaulted her, then moved her to a second location, where he forced sex acts with her again.

    After the nearly three-hour assault, Rebecca said she started to put her clothes back on and Hernandez took off. She said she flagged down a pizza delivery driver and called police, telling officers she thought her attacker was on methamphetamine.

    She helped police come up with a composite drawing of the suspect, who was arrested several days later as a result of information received from numerous sources, including surveillance video, tips to Crime Stoppers and calls from people who knew the defendant.

    The other victim, identified only as "Jane Doe," testified that Hernandez came up from behind her as she emerged from a restaurant near Balboa

    Park with some take-out food about 9:30 that same night.

    "I was shocked," the woman said. "He was really close to my face. He said, 'Don't say anything. Don't say anything. Don't say anything.'"

    "Jane Doe" said she noticed the defendant had a knife in his hand, so she threw her food at his face and ran back into the restaurant, and he took off in another direction.

    She said she and her boyfriend drove around and looked for her attacker, but were unable to find him. She said she called police the next day when she watched a news report about a rapist near Balboa Park.

    Photo Credit: NBC 7

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    An Colorado Cub Scout was kicked out of his den after asking a state senator questions about the current political issues from gun control issues to health care legislaton taking place across the country, NBC News reported.  

    The Cub Scout's mother Lori Mayfield filmed a video of her eleven-year-old son Ames Mayfields' exchange with a Republican state lawmaker at a Cub Scout event in Denver last week. In the video, the fifth grader confidently reads his typed questions while state Senator Vicki Marble listened on.

    “Why on earth would you want someone who beats their wife to have access to a gun?” Ames Mayfield asked in the video.

    Mayfield's mother said after the exchange the den leader told her that her son would not be welcomed back into the den, NBC New reported.

    Photo Credit: AP/Mel Evans

    In this May 22, 2015 file photo, a Cub Scout runs with an arm-full of flags as scouts placed thousands of flags on veteran’s graves at Brig. Gen. William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery in honor of Memorial Day in Wrightstown, N.J.In this May 22, 2015 file photo, a Cub Scout runs with an arm-full of flags as scouts placed thousands of flags on veteran’s graves at Brig. Gen. William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery in honor of Memorial Day in Wrightstown, N.J.

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    After nearly a year of mouthwatering anticipation, it’s finally here: Shake Shack’s first-ever restaurant in San Diego.

    The cult favorite burger chain’s location at 4309 La Jolla Village Dr. in Westfield UTC mall officially opens Friday. For a point of reference, it’s near the 24-Hour Fitness gym, in case you need extra motivation to push through that cardio so you can enjoy a post-workout reward.

    This marks the first location in San Diego for the global brand, which began in New York City in 2004 as a humble little food cart. In 13 years, Shake Shack has expanded to 18 states across the U.S. and 11 countries worldwide.

    The company is known for its classic menu of high-quality Angus hamburgers including the “ShackBurger,” a single or double cheeseburger topped with lettuce, tomato and beloved ShackSauce, and the "SmokeShack," a single or double cheeseburger topped with Applewood smoked bacon, chopped cherry peppers and ShackSauce.

    Fans also flock to Shake Shack for its crinkle-cut French fries (you can top them with cheese and/or bacon, because dreams really do come true), Flat-Top Hot Dogs, hand-spun milkshakes and frozen custard concretes featuring sweet treats mixed in.

    The Westfield UTC location offers the Shack’s classic menu, plus some San Diego-centric extras like treats from North County bakeries used in frozen treats and local craft brews. It’s open daily, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

    Shake Shack plans to open a second San Diego location in Mission Valley, likely by the year’s end.

    Shake Shack is known for drawing large crowds so if you’re heading there this weekend, prepare for long lines.

    Just remember, good things come to those who wait.

    Photo Credit: Courtesy of Shake Shack
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

    Shake Shack is opening in San Diego next month but, first, the eatery will preview it burgers and fries with a pop-up session at Modern Times Beer on Sept. 16.Shake Shack is opening in San Diego next month but, first, the eatery will preview it burgers and fries with a pop-up session at Modern Times Beer on Sept. 16.

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    Hundreds of local veterans will need to get a second flu shot, after the San Diego VA distributed ineffective flu shots.

    The refrigerator holding the flu shots was not kept at the proper temperature range, causing the flu shots to go bad.

    The VA said in a statement this week that up to 1,300 veterans and 240 employees may have received the compromised vaccine.

    This comes after an increase in reported San Diego flu cases this season. 

    A spokeswoman for the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department told NBC 7 in a written statement that there are no negative side effects associated with being given the bad vaccine.

    According to guidelines by The Centers for Disease Control, “It is better to not vaccinate than to administer a dose of vaccine that has been mishandled.”

    The spokeswoman also said they are compiling a list of all who received the bad vaccine and will be sending letters out.

    The VA is recommending that those who received the bad vaccine get re-vaccinated.

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    A woman who had been in the United States for 20 years, was deported to Mexico Thursday, the U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) confirmed.

    Silvia Ocampo-Ortiz entered the U.S. illegally in 1992 near the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

    In 2008, she was arrested by Homeland Security and Social Security Administration officials, according to ICE spokesperson Lauren Mack. The following year, Ocampo-Ortiz was turned over to ICE after a felony conviction for perjury.

    Mack said this case was heard before an immigration judge, the Board of Immigration Appeals and twice before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

    On Thursday evening, Ocampo-Ortiz was deported and staying in Tijuana, Mexico.

    The ICE Acting Director has made it clear that the agency will not exempt classes or categories of people, Mack said in a written statement.

    "All of those in violation of our nation’s immigration laws may be subject to arrest, detention and, if found removable, he or she will be removed from the United States," she said.

    Ocampo-Ortiz is a single mother with several children, including an 8-year-old daughter with special needs, according to Unite Here, an organization that rallied to keep the mother in the U.S.

    Religious leaders, activists, and local leaders gathered outside the Edward J. Schwartz Federal Building Thursday to protest against Ocampo-Ortiz' deportation.

    "We are outraged that ICE would take a single mother of a special needs child away from her family," Brigette Browning, president of Unite Here Local 30. "They are heartlessly deporting Silvia right before a court date that could enable her to remain here with her children. Tearing apart families is the real crime here."

    In September, Gaston Cazares of Carlsbad was deported after his immigration hearing. 

    Cazares moved to San Diego illegally when he was 17 and has been in the area for nearly 30 years. Cazares’ wife of 22 years, their teenage daughter and their son with autism now remain in Carlsbad without him.

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    Federal authorities revealed new details Friday about the rescue of a Bengal tiger cub in San Diego: he was recovered in one of the largest wildlife trafficking sweeps across Southern California. 

    Monitor lizards, king cobras, fish and a macaw were among the exotic animals rescued, and sixteen suspects were charged in "Operation Jungle Book." That included the adorable cub that has already captured the hearts of San Diegans.

    Luis Eudoro Valencia, 18, has pleaded not guilty to smuggling the cub into the U.S. after border officials found the tiger lying on the passenger-side floor of his car in August. He claimed he bought the cub on the streets of Tijuana, Mexico for $300. If convicted, Valencia faces up to 20 years in prison.

    A second man, Eriberto Paniagua, 21, is accused of conspiring with Valencia and others to knowingly import the tiger cub into the U.S. He faces similar charges.

    Since the tiger was rescued from an alleged smuggling attempt on Aug. 24, he has settled snugly into his new home at the San Diego Zoo.

    The cub is now living with a Sumatran tiger cub rejected by his mother, flown in from the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Authorities hope the pair will bond and socialize together so both cubs can grow up to be healthy tigers.

    In the San Diego Zoo's most recent tweet, the now 21-pound tiger can be seen sucking at a bottle of milk. 

    Photo Credit: San Diego Zoo
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    A still of a rescue tiger cub feeding on a bottle.A still of a rescue tiger cub feeding on a bottle.

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    It’s been a sweet and savory week for San Diego’s food and drink scene. Eater San Diego shares the top stories of the week including a burger and doughnut shop opening in Pacific Beach and trendy new ice cream for Kearny Mesa.

    Stuffed! Burgers and Frat Boy Donuts Debuts in Pacific Beach
    Liberty Public Market merchant Stuffed!, specializing in cheese-stuffed burgers, is opening another eatery on Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach, adjacent to a new Frat Boy Donuts shop that offers doughnuts, Cronuts, apple fritters and more. On Oct. 21, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., the eateries will give away burgers and doughnuts to celebrate the launch. 

    Orange County's Trendy Ice Cream Concept Coming to Convoy
    Cauldron Ice Cream, which draws crowds in Orange County for its Instagram-worthy desserts, will open a shop in Kearny Mesa in spring 2018, with plans to open another San Diego location as well. The Convoy store will serve scoops of ice cream frozen-to-order with liquid nitrogen in its signature “puffle” cone, a take on a Chinese egg waffle.

    Parachute Brunch and Supper Room Touches Down in La Jolla
    Replacing the shuttered StreetCar Merchants, this new Prospect Street restaurant serves brunch every day, plus an array of eclectic, globally-inspired dishes at night. Run by an experienced chef who recently moved to San Diego from the Midwest, the eatery will soon launch a cocktail program. 

    Kearny Mesa Gets New Korean-Style Shaved Snow and Boba Drinks
    -21°C Below Snowflake has just opened on Convoy Street, a new dessert shop featuring popular boba tea drinks and bowls of bingsoo, or Korean shaved ice. The finely-textured sweet snow, in milk or fruit flavors, comes with toppings ranging from cheesecake and fresh fruit to mochi. 

    Cult East Coast Coffee Roaster Heading to Westfield UTC
    Philadelphia-based La Colombe Coffee Roasters, which now operates coffee bars in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C., has added San Diego to its expansion plans. The third wave coffee company will be part of the new offerings at Westfield UTC, and is scheduled to open there next month. 

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

    Cheese-stuffed burger spot Stuffed! is opening an eatery on Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach, adjacent to a new Frat Boy Donuts.Cheese-stuffed burger spot Stuffed! is opening an eatery on Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach, adjacent to a new Frat Boy Donuts.

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    A senior congressional aide who has been briefed on the deaths of four U.S. servicemen in Niger says the ambush by militants stemmed in part from a "massive intelligence failure."

    The Pentagon has said that a force of 40 to 50 militants ambushed a 12-man U.S. force in Niger on Oct. 4, killing four and wounding two others, NBC News reported. The U.S. patrol was seen as routine and had been carried out nearly 30 times in the six months before the attack, the Pentagon has reported.

    The aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly, said the House and Senate armed services committees have questions about the scope of the U.S. mission in Niger, and whether the Pentagon is properly supporting the troops on the ground there.

    Photo Credit: AP

    In this image provided by the U.S. Army, a carry team of soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), carry the transfer case during a casualty return for Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, of Lyons, Ga., at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Oct. 5, 2017. U.S. and Niger forces were leaving a meeting with tribal leaders when they were ambushed on Oct. 4 and Wright and three other soldiers were killed.In this image provided by the U.S. Army, a carry team of soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), carry the transfer case during a casualty return for Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, of Lyons, Ga., at Dover Air Force Base, Del., Oct. 5, 2017. U.S. and Niger forces were leaving a meeting with tribal leaders when they were ambushed on Oct. 4 and Wright and three other soldiers were killed.

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    While more than 80 percent of Puerto Rico remains without power a month after Hurricane Maria knocked out the island’s power grid, Hector Alejandro Santiago Rodriguez is at work on his nursery in Barranquitas because of the solar panels he installed six years ago.

    Winds destroyed a third of his greenhouses and more than half of his plants and damaged a quarter of the solar panels, but Santiago’s Cali Nurseries never lost electricity after the storm. He has been able to pump water from his wells and operate his irrigation system for poinsettias, orchids and other plants he sells at Costco, Home Depot and other stores.

    "It has been the best investment of my life," said Santiago, the largest grower of poinsettias and orchids in Puerto Rico. “In the past, people had problems with the high cost of electricity and now, with the distribution of fuel, for those who have generators.”

    It cost Santiago $300,000 for 244 solar panels, an expense that might dissuade others, but he said, “Now time has sided with me that the 'expensive part' is not having electricity when you need it the most.”

    The destruction of the island’s power grid has brought new focus on the bankrupt Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority and how the electricity system could be rebuilt in a more resilient way by taking advantage of renewable energy.

    At a meeting with President Donald Trump in the White House on Thursday, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said Puerto Rico had a chance to become a showcase for a sustainable energy grid with public-private partnerships. 

    "We think there is an opportunity here to leverage growth in the energy sector and to be innovative, not only rebuild what we had in the past, but also with the aid of the federal government and with the private sector, rebuild a much modern, much stronger platform," he said. "And not only have Puerto Rico have energy but actually be a model of sustainable energy and growth toward the future."

    Tesla, the manufacturer of solar panels, the Powerwall battery and the Powerpack commercial battery, and a German competitor, sonnen, are poised to become private partners in that switch to sustainable energy.

    Tesla is snagging most of the attention. Rosselló has already talked with its founder Elon Musk, after Musk tweeted that the company could reconstruct the island's electricity with independent solar and battery systems.

    "The Tesla team has done this for many smaller islands around the world, but there is no scalability limit, so it can be done for Puerto Rico too," Musk wrote on Oct. 5.  "Such a decision would be in the hands of the PR govt, PUC, any commercial stakeholders and, most importantly, the people of PR."

    "Let's talk," Rosselló responded. "Do you want to show the world the power and scalability of your #TeslaTechnologies? PR could be that flagship project."

    Rosselló told USA Today that he and Musk later spoke about running a pilot program on the island of Vieques. The governor and a team from Tesla have since met and Tesla has sent experienced installers to Puerto Rico to train a small Powerwall installation team there, Musk tweeted.

    Tesla declined to comment further but it has already constructed microgrids on Hawaii's Kauai and American Samoa and has said it will work with energy providers around the world to overcome barriers to building sustainable, renewable grids.

    Francis O'Sullivan, the director of research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's MIT Energy Initiative, agreed that there was an opportunity now to integrate newer technologies into Puerto Rico’s power grid.

    Companies like Telsa will be part of the effort, but they will not be able to rebuild Puerto Rico's electricity system in the next six months or even a year, he said. There is a tension between restoring electricity quickly and re-imagining the grid.

    "That’s a really tremendously big job rewiring the entire island and not just a big job but a very expensive undertaking," he said. "And in terms of shorter term delivery or redelivery of electricity services, it is not the solution." 

    For now, work is underway to restore hundreds of miles of transmission lines and thousands of miles of distribution lines. Even this short-term work will require more workers, more equipment and more money.

    "It's too much for us alone," Nelson Velez, a regional director for the Puerto Rican power authority, told The Associated Press as he supervised crews working along a busy street in Isla Verde, just east of San Juan, on a recent afternoon. "We have just so many, so many areas affected."

    But new technologies could be introduced in strategic locations, such as around public safety buildings or hospitals, O'Sullivan said. Micro-grids could incorporate more storage and renewable energy, he said.

    Puerto Rico now produces only about two to three percent of its total electricity from such renewable energy as wind and solar, O’Sullivan said. That share has been growing rapidly but is still not more than 200 or 250 megawatts of a total capacity of 5 to 6 gigawatts. A transition on an island-wide scale would cost about $2 billion and take several years of work, he said.

    "The more extensive redevelopment or rewiring of the system in Puerto Rico to make it more renewably centric and more more reliable, that’s not going to happen by the end of October or November," O'Sullivan said.

    Rauluy Santos, an auditor at PricewaterCoopers in San Juan, took a widely circulated photograph of Tesla Energy cargo at the Air National Guard Base Muñiz at Carolina, near San Juan's Luis Marín Muñoz International Airport on Oct. 14. He spotted the shipment while he was waiting for water, food, medicine and other goods sent from the Hyssop Church in Boston, to be distributed through the non-profit, Mentes Puertorriqueñas en Acción, of which he is a director.

    Santos said it was time to for the island to invest in technologies such as solar energy to provide cheaper, more sustainable energy with lower carbon emissions. He and others are waiting to see if this is a publicity stunt on Musk's part or a true humanitarian effort, he said.

    "However I believe in Elon Musk and have high hopes on his delivery of the promise," he said, "but please let it be with an affordable price tag in which our economy can get at least a bump with a new industry and new job opportunities from all the years in recession we've been."

    He agreed that pilot programs should be tried first, on the islands of either Vieques or Culebra. 

    "Our governor, Ricardo Rosselló, was proactive with Elon Musk's tweet and we're eager to learn what's the plan," he said.

    While Tesla has been getting the publicity, a competing German company, sonnen, has been selling its sonnenBatteries in Puerto Rico for 18 months, according to the company’s U.S. senior vice president, Blake Richetta.

    Sonnen is focused on creating microgrids for shelters, clinics and community centers in areas that lack power and clean water, it said. It is working with a Puerto Rican partner, Pura Energia, which installs solar panels with sonnen batteries, and it expects to have the first five micro-grid locations up and running by the end of October. Five additional micro-grids are to be running in November, and a total of 15 by mid-December.

    Sonnen does not make solar panels but typically provides smart technology and storage while working with regional distributors and installers who bring the solar panels. For this project, the Puerto Rico Energy Security Initiative, it is donating sonnenBatteries and covering the cost of the solar panels and the installation.

    "Sonnen is also unique by virtue of the fact that our factory is shipping a working, proven product, on a daily basis and we can deliver energy security to the people of Puerto Rico, without delay," Richetta said in an email. "For sonnen, this is not 'theory.'"

    Longer term it expects to sell and install more sonnenBatteries in Puerto Rico, as part of systems that increase resiliency and bolster the grid by creating localized power supplies and reducing the effect of a single point of failure -- important in the face of devastating storms.

    "A decentralized electricity grid in Puerto Rico, composed of thousands or even a few million solar arrays, coupled with clean energy storage, would form a 'virtual power plant' for the island," Richetta said. "This distributed 'virtual power plant' would become the most resilient grid infrastructure in the country today, one that is effectively impossible to 'bring down,' via a hurricane."

    Even before Hurricane Maria hit, British billionaire Richard Branson told Reuters that he was setting up a fund to enable Caribbean nations to replace fossil fuel-dependent utilities destroyed in Hurricane Irma with low-carbon renewable energy sources. The Caribbean islands have mostly been generating power by burning diesel. 

    Branson has been approaching governments, financial institutions and philanthropists, Reuters reported last month.

    "As part of that fund we want to make sure that the Caribbean moves from dirty energy to clean energy," Branson, who has lived in the British Virgin Islands for 11 years and weathered Irma on his private island, said.

    In a blog entry this week, the Brookings Institute noted both Tesla and sonnen’s emergency measures and evaluated the likelihood that the grid would be rebuilt with solar and battery storage.

    "That is a hope but there’s no certainty," Lewis M. Milford and Mark Muro wrote.

    "It would take a dedicated group of companies, a local government willing to be creative and strong federal support for rebuilding the power system in a more resilient way," they wrote. "Merely redoing the same diesel-dependent, centralized electric system, the status quo, should not be an option."

    The Tesla project on Kauai consists of a 13-megawatt solar farm and a 52 megawatt-hour battery installation that Tesla and the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative expect will reduce the use of fossil fuel by 1.6 million gallons a year, according to The Verge. The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative has contracted with Telsa to buy the electricity that is produced -- at 13.9 cents per kilowatt hour for 20 years.

    On the island of Ta'u in American Samoa an $8 million solar project funded by the U.S. Department of Interior and the American Samoa Power Authority was completed late last year, according to National Geographic. That project — 1.4 megawatts of electricity that can be stored in 60 Powerbacks — shifted the island's energy generation from 100 percent diesel fuel to entirely solar. It will save about 110,000 gallons of diesel fuel and was built to withstand Category 5 hurricane winds.

    Santiago, the nursery owner, is not sure his business will survive the crisis, but said he had already recovered 70 percent of his poinsettias and is trying to save others. He believes that after the catastrophe brought by Hurricane Maria more people will invest in solar energy. It has helped him protect the Earth and has provided him with clean energy and constant voltage which made his equipment last longer, he said. He sold excess energy to the government.

    "Now, when nobody has electricity, we can pump our own water which makes us self-sufficient," he said.

    "Cali Nurseries will survive Hurricane Maria with the favor of God," he said.

    Photo Credit: Rauluy Santos
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    Testa Energy cargo arrive in Puerto Rico as seen in this Oct. 14, 2017, picture. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, had tweeted the possibility of remaking Puerto Rico's energy system after the island's power grid was wiped out by Hurricane Maria.Testa Energy cargo arrive in Puerto Rico as seen in this Oct. 14, 2017, picture. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, had tweeted the possibility of remaking Puerto Rico's energy system after the island's power grid was wiped out by Hurricane Maria.

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    A registered sex offender accused of posing as a teenage boy online to target a girl in Escondido was found competent to stand trial Friday, confirmed prosecutors.

    Rennard Cawkwell, 46, of Oceanside allegedly tracked down the teenager after pretending to be a 17-year-old boy in online chats, Escondido police said.

    Prosecutors said he used inappropriate language via messaging and then allegedly showed up outside her home in Escondido in late March, just a day after his parole ended.

    When Cawkwell was spotted outside, family members and neighbors intervened, alerting the authorities, said police.

    He will next appear in court on Nov. 14. According to prosecutors, his bail remained at $1 million.

    Shortly before his arrest, Escondido Police Detective Jeff Udvarhelyi traced his Oceanside residence while working with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC).

    There are three offenses for Cawkwell listed on the Megan’s Law website. That includes possessing child pornography and attempting to commit lewd acts with a minor.

    Photo Credit: Megan's Law, Escondido Police

    Rennard Cawkwell as pictured on the Megan's Law website (L) and in a mugshot released by Escondido Police on April 27, 2016.Rennard Cawkwell as pictured on the Megan's Law website (L) and in a mugshot released by Escondido Police on April 27, 2016.

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    On Oct. 21, 2007, the Witch Creek Fire was sparked near Santa Ysabel.

    In the days that followed, several other fires would ignite including the Harris and Guejito Fires.

    The Witch Creek, Harris and Guejito Fires would burn about 288,000 acres. Thousands of people were evacuated.

    More than 2,000 structures were burned or destroyed.

    Ten people were killed.

    One of the hardest hit communities was Rancho Bernardo, where 365 homes were destroyed. 

    Here are just some of the reports filed by NBC 7 crews: 

    Photo Credit: NBCSanDiego

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    Residents in Rancho Bernardo are marking the 10th anniversary of the Witch Creek Fire with a special community and fundraising event at Webb Park on Sunday, Oct. 22.

    The all-day event includes a safety fair and benefit concert with proceeds going to help recent hurricane victims in other parts of the country. There will also be a private, invitation-only reunion dinner for residents who lost their homes.

    The San Diego County wildfires of 2007 started on Oct. 21 in Witch Creek Canyon near Santa Ysabel. In the days that followed, several other fires would ignite including the Harris and Guejito Fires. The Witch Creek, Harris and Guejito Fires would burn about 288,000 acres. Thousands of people were evacuated. More than 2,000 structures were burned or destroyed. 10-people were killed.

    One of the hardest hit communities was Rancho Bernardo, where 365 homes were destroyed.

    Ten years later, several homeowners shared their thoughts with NBC 7.

    “I think the 10-year marker, you’re kind of looking for closure. You’re wondering have we moved past this. Is it truly behind us,” said Karen Heumann.

    Huemann says she and her family are still recovering emotionally, and deal with anxiety and panic issues when talking about fires.

    Robin Kaufman, who worked hard to notify friends and family to evacuate during the fires said her goal was to make sure neighbors were being taken care of, during and after the fires.

    “I wasn’t as emotional as a lot of people when they saw that their homes were destroyed. Because everything can be replaced except life,” said Kaufman.

    Bobbie Davis’ home was one of the dozens that burned on Aguamiel Road.

    “Normally, I don’t worry about things, but seeing the fires in California, I start to worry again, and with the weather report this weekend, it sounds like it’s going to be really hot, so I start to get nervous about that,” said Davis.

    Photo Credit: NBCSanDiego

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    Now everyone can get a taste of what scientists see on the red planet.

    NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory collaborated with Google to produce Access Mars, a free immersive experience that be accessed with a computer, mobile device or virtual reality/augmented reality headset.

    Access Mars: Experience access Mars by clicking here and learn about Curiosity’s mission here.

    Using imagery from NASA’s Curiosity rover, users can explore the desert terrain while poking around nooks and crannies. The program features four notable regions: Curiosity's landing site, Murray Buttes, Marias Pass and Pahrump Hills. The rover’s current location on Mt. Sharp will be continually updated as new imagery comes in.

    The software is adapted from a similar program used by NASA scientists to study Martian geology.

    "We've been able to leverage VR and AR technologies to take our scientists to Mars every single day," said Victor Luo, lead project manager at JPL's Ops Lab, which led the collaboration. "With Access Mars, everyone in the world can ride along."

    The experience was crafted by pairing Curiosity's imagery and scientific data with WebVR, an open-source virtual reality software that be accessed by anyone with an internet connection.

    Visitors can learn more details about Curiosity’s experiments such as photos of digging sites, soil mineral compositions and even a selfie the rover took so scientists could monitor wear and tear.

    "Immersive technology has incredible potential as a tool for scientists and engineers," Luo said. "It also lets us inspire and engage the public in new ways."

    Photo Credit: NASA/JPL
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    Using imagery from NASA’s Curiosity rover, users can explore Mars.Using imagery from NASA’s Curiosity rover, users can explore Mars.

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    A federal appeals court Friday refused to allow an immediate abortion for a 17-year-old who came to the U.S. illegally and is now in detention. But the court gave her more time to find a way to obtain one.

    Groups supporting and opposing abortion rights have been watching the case closely.

    Known in the court record only as Jane Doe, she crossed the southern border on her own in September, unaccompanied by relatives, and was taken into federal custody at a detention center in Texas. After a medical examination revealed that she is pregnant, she sought an abortion.

    Texas authorities gave her permission, but the Department of Health and Human Services, which runs the detention facility, refused.

    Photo Credit: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

    Activists with Planned Parenthood demonstrate in support of a pregnant 17-year-old being held in a Texas facility for unaccompanied immigrant children to obtain an abortion, outside of the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017.Activists with Planned Parenthood demonstrate in support of a pregnant 17-year-old being held in a Texas facility for unaccompanied immigrant children to obtain an abortion, outside of the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017.

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    First responders to a deadly shooting at a La Jolla apartment complex in April were among those honored at this year’s San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Service Awards Luncheon.

    The San Diego Fire-Rescue Foundation hosts the event every year to recognize firefighters, paramedics, lifeguards and ordinary citizens who’ve done extraordinary things in the community.

    Several firefighters and paramedics received awards for their quick thinking and actions when a man opened fire at the La Jolla Crossroads apartments on April 30. 

    "The actual shooting was basically right in front of us," Fire Captain Jon Frichtel told NBC 7.

    The gunman had been casually sitting in a lounge chair on the pool deck when he opened fire on people at a birthday party.

    Frichtel said that before police even cleared firefighters in, a security guard acted quickly and brought victims right to his fire truck.

    "He started taking people from the pool area while the guy was still shooting and bringing them up the road," Frichtel said, "All of a sudden a car opens up and people pour out of it with victims."

    Firefighter Javier Ucha Lassalle was among the first firefighters to arrive.

    "And you were just getting pulled off in all different directions," Ucha Lassalle said. "At that point, we're just trying to account for which patients do we have that are most injured, which ones do we need to get out of here first."

    Ucha Lassalle had to leave a man who'd been shot in his stomach but was surrounded by friends who'd stopped the bleeding, to help victims who were more critically injured.

    "As soon as I walked into the pool area, there were two girls who were shot down with multiple gunshots wounds, a couple of them to the chest. So those are definitely the patients we want to get out of there right away," Ucha Lassalle said.

    Monique Clark, a 35-year-old mother of three was shot in the chest and killed.

    The gunman shot six other people. Those other shooting victims did survive.

    Incident Commander Frichtel said he believes quick, proactive thinking by many first responders helped get the shooting victims the care they needed.

    "And in situations like that, time is critical. You want to get those people off scene and you want to get them to hospitals as soon as you can. And that's what you train to do, and that's how it went that day," Frichtel said.

    Paramedic Mitchell Yeo transported some of those victims to the hospital. He is modest about being recognized for his work that day.

    "We don't do this for the recognition," Yeo told NBC7. "This is our job. This is what we chose to do."

    Photo Credit: NBC 7

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    15-year-old Stacey Quakenbush became ill with an upper respiratory disease and spent six weeks in the ICU.15-year-old Stacey Quakenbush became ill with an upper respiratory disease and spent six weeks in the ICU.

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    As crews finish up border wall prototypes, agents continue apprehending undocumented immigrants inside the actual construction zone.

    Most recently, five Nepali citizens hopped the 7-foot fence Thursday and turned themselves into U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents near the construction site.

    Three men and two women, between ages 19 and 30, requested asylum from their country by claiming credible fear of return.

    CBP officials said they do not track apprehensions by location, so they couldn't confirm exactly how many similar incidents have occurred near the construction zone. But agents said they have detained others in the same area.

    U.S. Border Patrol Supervisory Agent Mark Endicott said the region around the construction site is a popular crossing because it's close to Tijuana and the climbable wall, meant mainly for stopping vehicles, is the only physical barrier.

    The larger secondary wall stretches about 13 miles from the coast and ends just before the construction zone.

    Eight border wall prototypes under consideration for final approval must be completed by next Thursday.

    Photo Credit: AP Photo/Gregory Bull

    People pass border wall prototypes as they stand near the border with Tijuana, Mexico in San Diego. Companies are nearing an Oct. 26 deadline to finish building eight prototypes of President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico.People pass border wall prototypes as they stand near the border with Tijuana, Mexico in San Diego. Companies are nearing an Oct. 26 deadline to finish building eight prototypes of President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall with Mexico.

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    Nearly three weeks after the Las Vegas shooting spree that left 58 concert-goers dead and hundreds more wounded, the murderer's motive is still a mystery to investigators. 

    President Trump has shared his theory that the wires in Stephen Paddock's brain were crossed.           

    Paddock’s girlfriend says his thrashing and moaning in bed at night might have been signs that he was mentally disturbed.

    But doctors found no obvious "abnormalities" in his brain.

    “He was sophisticated enough to strategize that event to get away with it,” says veteran San Diego prosecutor Wendy Patrick.  “To choose a hotel where they knew him, and they didn’t raise an alarm that he brought ten pieces of luggage up to his room.” 

    Paddock's rampage lasted about nine minutes.

    Investigators later began raising questions about timelines involving a security guard and another employee at the Mandalay Bay resort hotel.

    By the time Paddock’s gunfire was unleashed, his girlfriend had already gone to the Philippines, where he had wired her $100,000.

    That made her wonder whether he was breaking up with her after a four-year-relationship.

    Patrick suggests that Paddock's motive might have been less a reflection of insanity than methodical planning--and execution--of a thrill-seeking massacre, ending in suicide by way of a handgun.

    “It’s almost as if he was looking for some kind of a source of excitement that he wasn’t getting,” says Patrick.  “There’s more to this guy that we yet know.  And I’m convinced that we’re eventually going to learn enough to come up with a motive.”

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    A Vista family is honoring their late daughter with a special sweet 16th birthday bash, benefitting an organization she loved.

    Stacey Quakenbush had mitochondrial disease.  The 15-year-old became ill with an upper respiratory disease and spent six weeks in the ICU.  She died in February from complications of Acute Respiratory Disease Syndrome.

    While Stacey was alive, her parents took her to a non-profit in Ramona called Hearts and Hooves, which uses miniature horses to provide therapy for people with disabilities or other challenges.

    Stacey’s mother Cherice Quackenbush says the founder of the organization is compassionate and helped build Stacey’s confidence through the animal therapy.

    “It’s more therapeutic than you would think it is to be out there on the ranch with those horses,” her mother told NBC7.

    Stacey would have turned 16 this month.  So her parents decided to throw a prom-style party in her honor, benefiting the non-profit that meant so much to her.

    They’re calling the party fundraiser “Heavenly 16th Birthday Bash.”  There will be a BBQ, DJ and carriage rides.

    The fundraiser is on Saturday, October 21st  from one to 5pm at Mountainview Church at 1191 Meadowlark Way in Ramona.

    Tickets are $20.  Kids are free.  Lunch will cost $10.  People are also invited to help the charity by purchasing items on a wish list.  For more information, you can visit Hearts and Hooves on Facebook.

    Photo Credit: Family Photo

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    Border Patrol agents in El Centro made two separate narcotic arrests in under an hour Friday morning.

    The incidents both occurred off a Highway 86 checkpoint around 9 a.m., according to BP.

    The first incident occurred at 9:15 a.m., when a 21-year-old woman being transported on a Crusero/International California bus approached the checkpoint. The bus was directed to a secondary inspection, and a canine team alerted agents to the seat containing the woman.

    The woman was inspected and found to have narcotics strapped to her abdomen, according to BP.

    The substance was determined to be heroin, with a weight of 2.52 pounds. The estimated street value is $27,720.

    The woman was a U.S. citizen. She and the narcotics are being detained by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for investigation.

    Approximately 30 minutes later, at 9:45 a.m., a 25-year-old man driving a red mini cooper was detained at the checkpoint.

    After secondary inspection a canine team alerted agents to the vehicle’s back seat. There agents discovered 17 bundles of methamphetamine in the car’s gas tank, according to BP.

    The methamphetamine weighed 19.18 pounds, which has an estimated street value of $67,130, according to BP.

    The man was also a U.S. citizen, and he and the drugs were turned over to the DEA for investigation.

    As of August 31, the El Centro BP Sector has seized 1,880 pounds of methamphetamine and 140 pound of heroin, according to a statement.

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    With Santa Ana winds and hot temperatures expected to sweep San Diego County starting this weekend, Cal Fire and the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department will increase staffing to combat the potentially dangerous fire conditions.

    Cal Fire said Friday that firefighters were on high alert as critical fire weather moves into Southern California over the next few days. A fire weather watch is in effect this weekend through early next week due to low humidity, high temperatures, and gusty winds.

    SDFD announced they are also increasing the number of on-duty firefighting crews, staff and fire apparatus in the city.

    Those additions include:

    • Contracting a fixed-wing air tactical platform and supervisor
    • Helitanker on the ground at Montgomery Field Airport which is capable of dropping 2,6000 gallons of water, foam or retardant
    • Additional 5 brush engines, five standard engines, and three water tenders

    Moderate Santa Ana winds are expected to develop Sunday, according to NBC 7’s First Alert forecast. Temperatures will soar Sunday and Monday, with low-90s at the coast and low-100s in the valleys. The heat is forecasted to linger through Tuesday, potentially even into Wednesday.

    Cal Fire officials said brush throughout the county is very dry and will fuel any fires that might spark.

    Amid this Fire Weather Watch, Cal Fire Chief Tony Mecham said additional resources would be used, including San Diego County Fire Reserve firefighters staffing all front line fire engines. Reserve firefighters will also cover five county water tenders.

    Cal Fire personnel will also be assigned to the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps if military helicopters are needed to fight a fire. Cal Fire has also opened the Brown Field Reload Base and will bring in two large air tankers.

    "We're ready to go when the time comes and we can be anywhere within Southern California within 20 minutes to a fire after we load," said Air Tanker Pilot, First Officer Joshua Kryzsco.

    The agency is funding the staffing of a Strike Team of Wildland Fire Engines for the weekend in both San Diego and the North Zone. Cal Fire is also in contact with Baja Mexico’s version of Cal Fire, CONOFOR, are will use an agreement with Mexico if needed.

    SDFD also advised residents to be prepared and have an emergency plan ready in case of an evacuation.

    "If you haven’t yet talked to your family about an emergency plan, there’s no time like the present," said SDFD Fire Chief Brian Fennessy. "Putting a plan in place and practicing that plan will give you the best chance of staying safe during an emergency."

    The precautions come amid the 10-year anniversary of San Diego's devastating and deadly Witch Creek Fire, and as firefighters in Northern California continue to battle nine wildfires burning across the state in the deadliest series of fires in California’s history.

    The October Fire Siege – which began on Oct. 8 – has spawned 21 wildfires that burned more than 245,000 acres, forcing evacuations and destroying 6,900 structures. Forty-two people died in the costly wildfires.

    Cal Fire said San Diego residents should be cautious during this fire danger period and remember the motto: "one less spark means one less wildfire."

    For fire evacuation tips visit this website.

    Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego
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    The San Diego Fire Bomb Squad seized a grenade discovered near an elementary school in Clairemont Friday.

    A resident was working in their backyard when they spotted a canister with the word "grenade" emblazoned across its surface around 2:40 p.m.

    They quickly notified the authorities, said San Diego police officers. The bomb squad went to the intersection of Beal and Ashford Street, where the suspected grenade was located.


    As of 4:40 p.m., the scene was cleared of the grenade, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. They determined the suspicious canister to be a military smoke grenade.

    SDFD officials said the grenade was not at risk of detonating, although it could potentially emit smoke.

    Ross Elementary School is very close by, less than a tenth of a mile away. Nobody was injured while the bomb squad confiscated the grenade.

    The area is known to be an old testing site for bombs. Previously, the Department of Defense (DOD) has notified residents in Clairemont that old explosive charges may be scattered across the neighborhood.

    Back in the 30s and 40s, the military used Rosedale Field as a test bomb site. DOD officials warned that old explosive charges could be buried in the ground and pose a potential safety hazard anywhere in the area.

    Several years ago, two handmade explosive devices were found in a trash can on another San Diego elementary school in Clairemont.

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    A woman shot in the legs during a poolside shooting rampage in April is suing the apartment complex where the mass shooting took place.

    The lawsuit also names as defendants, the estate of the shooter, Peter Selis, along with the security firm hired by La Jolla Crossroads apartment complex. 

    Charnee James, 24, from Michigan was shot in both legs and suffered considerable nerve damage, according to the civil lawsuit filed Wednesday in San Diego Superior Court. 

    The lawsuit claims the shooter, Peter Selis, was allowed to live in the La Jolla Crossroads complex by his brother-in-law, who was the principal and manager of the company. 

    It states Selis was a deeply troubled individual with alcohol and drug-related problems and asserts his family should have known he was a danger to others.

    He had divorced from his wife and had recently prior to
    the shooting been deserted by his girlfriend. He was deeply in debt and unemployed. At
    least one collection company had claimed that he had engaged in criminal activity in
    converting money to his own use. He was an alcohol and drug abuser. He also was a
    possessor of weapons

    "He had divorced from his wife and had recently, prior to the shooting, been deserted by his girlfriend," the lawsuit stated. "He was deeply in debt and unemployed. At least one collection company had claimed that he had engaged in criminal activity in converting money to his own use. He was an alcohol and drug abuser. He also was a possessor of weapons." 

    On April 30, Charnee James and several of her friends were enjoying a poolside party in University City, according to the lawsuit and police. 

    One member of her group asked Selis if he wanted to join the party, and without warning, he shot the man in the stomach, the lawsuit states. 

    Selis reloaded his weapon and went on a shooting rampage, aiming to injure and kill as many people as possible until San Diego Police Department officers stopped him, the lawsuit states. 

    James was among the injured victims in the shooting.

    The lawsuit claims Selis' family allowed him to live rent-free while he went on a dangerous downward spiral of debt, unemployment, alcohol and drugs, and accumulating weapons. It states they should have warned other tenants. 

    NBC 7 reached out to La Jolla Crossroads for a response, but we have not heard back yet. 

    Photo Credit: NBC 7

    One woman was killed and seven people suffered gunshot wounds in the mass shooting in the pool area at La Jolla Crossroads on Sunday, April 30, 2017. Three officers shot and killed the shooter.One woman was killed and seven people suffered gunshot wounds in the mass shooting in the pool area at La Jolla Crossroads on Sunday, April 30, 2017. Three officers shot and killed the shooter.

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    A woman walking on a trail in San Diego’s East County Friday was choked by an unknown attacker who wrapped a rope around her neck, nearly rendering her unconscious.

    The attack – which investigators said appear to be random – happened around 9:15 a.m. on a hillside trail east of the Starlight Mobile Home Park in unincorporated El Cajon. The mobile home park is on East Bradley Avenue; NBC 7 is working to pinpoint the exact trail where this happened.

    The victim told deputies the suspect wrapped a “cable-like rope” around her neck, choking her to the point where she almost passed out, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department (SDSO) said.

    The woman managed to escape the suspect’s hold. He then ran, disappearing towards the hillside. The SDSO said the man was described as 6 feet tall and in his mid-30s. He wore a blue plaid shirt and baggy jeans during the attack.

    The sheriff’s department launched a search for the suspect using its ASTREA helicopter but did not find him. Investigators said the woman suffered neck injuries and was taken to a local hospital by her family.

    SDSO Sgt. Miguel Lopez said, at this point, there are no witnesses to the crime. A sketch of the suspect has not been compiled. Lopez said there have not been any other reports of similar crimes in the area.

    The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information on this case can reach out to Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

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    Photo Credit: FBI

    Bank robber two is described to be approximately 20-30 years-old and around 5'11Bank robber two is described to be approximately 20-30 years-old and around 5'11" tall.

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    The FBI is investigating a series of bank robberies in the San Diego County and seeking the public’s help to find the individuals involved.

    Five banks were robbed in a two-week period, three in El Cajon, one in San Diego and San Marcos.

    The FBI said four of the robberies are similar--one unidentified male entered the bank, demanded cash from one bank teller. When that bank teller gave him money, he demanded money from a second teller and fled the bank on foot.

    During the most recent bank robbery at Mission Federal Credit Union in El Cajon, one robber was identified to be approximately 30-years-old and around 5 feet 6 inches or 5 feet 9 inches in height. The second bank robber is between 20 to 30 years old and about 5 feet 11 inches tall, with a slender build.

    Witnesses did not see a weapon during the time of the robberies.

    Investigators believe these five robberies are connected and are asking for the public to provide any available information regarding these robbers to law enforcement or Crime Stoppers.

    Anyone with further information regarding the bank robbery series can contact the San Diego FBI at (858)320-1800 or Crime Stoppers at (888)580-8477.

    Photo Credit: FBI

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    A pedestrian died after a crash Friday night in Vista, the California Highway Patrol confirmed.

    The crash occurred at 8:20 p.m. on the westbound State Route 78, east of Emerald Drive.

    At this time, it is unknown what led up to the crash or what happened.

    No other information was available.

    Please refresh this page for updates on this story. Details may change as more information becomes available.

    Photo Credit: NBC 7

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    Broadway fans, rejoice--tickets for the hit musical will go on sale next week!

    Tickets for the Broadway musical will go on sale on Oct. 26 at 10 a.m. on Ticketmaster Verified Fan for pre-registered fans.

    Anyone who wants to purchase tickets through Ticketmaster Verified Fan must register between Oct. 21 at 10 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Oct. 24. According to Broadway San Diego, Verified vans will be notified via email on Oct. 25 if they have been selected for the Verified fan on sale.

    The new technology is designed to make the process easier for fans to purchase tickets, according to producer Jeffrey Seller.

    General tickets go on sale on Oct. 27 at 10 a.m. and will be available on Broadway San Diego's website.

    Hamilton will run at San Diego Civic Theatre from Jan. 6 until Jan. 28, 2018.

    The smash-hit musical is the story of Alexander Hamilton, one of America's Founding Fathers. The book, music, and lyrics are written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and it's based on Ron Chernow's biography on Hamilton.

    Photo Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File

    A file photo of the A file photo of the "Hamilton" marquee at the Richard Rogers Theatre on Saturday, July 9, 2016, in New York.