National Guard tries to secure Baltimore streets in ‘darkest days’ as riots injure at least 15 officers, spark fires and looting

Responding to the riots that marked one of Baltimore’s “darkest days,” National Guard troops took up positions in the besieged city late Monday into Tuesday morning in an attempt to secure America’s latest flashpoint of racial unrest. Gov. Larry Hogan deployed the Maryland National Guard on Monday night, and guard members were coordinating with police to hold riot-scarred portions of the city. A National Guard spokesman, Col. Charles Kohler, said the force could soon number 5,000 soldiers, according to the Associated Press. Shortly after the Monday afternoon funeral for Freddie Gray, a black man who died of a spinal injury he suffered while in police custody earlier this month, rioters torched buildings, destroyed police cars and threw projectiles at cops and responding firefighters in West Baltimore. The violence spread to the eastern portion of the city, and left at least 15 law enforcement officers hurt, six of them seriously. The Baltimore Police Department responded to a rumor that one of the officers was in grave condition, tweeting: “THIS IS NOT TRUE.” Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said he visited the six seriously injured cops in a hospital trauma center. “I told them how proud I was of them and how courageous they were,” he said. BRATTON'S ADVICE TO EMBATTLED BALTIMORE POLICE: LISTEN No fatalities were reported overnight, and officials did not release an estimate of the number of people injured. Several journalists were brutalized by mobs while covering the chaos. Police made several arrests. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake instituted a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew across the city, and said it would remain in effect through May 4. The riots appeared to die down by 3 a.m., as social media updates from the streets slowed and the Baltimore Police Department tweeted it Continue Reading

‘My first bow kill’: Texas veterinarian fired after allegedly killing cat with arrow and bragging about it on Facebook (VIDEO)

A gruesome Facebook photo showing a Texas veterinarian posing with a cat killed by an arrow through its furry skull touched off a furious backlash that got the woman canned and opened a police investigation. The image of Dr. Kristen Lindsey holding the dead orange and white cat is just “disgusting,” Austin County Sheriff Jack Brandes told the Daily News. “My first bow kill,” is how Lindsey captioned her photo, complete with cat emojis, from an account that has since been deleted. “The only good feral tomcat is one with an arrow through it’s (sic) head! Vet of the year award... gladly accepted.” Upon seeing the inhumane social media post Friday morning, Brandes sent two deputies to Lindsey’s home to investigate whether such an act of animal cruelty really happened. Intentionally killing a cat, even a stray as Lindsay suggested, is against the law nationwide. “This is not acceptable in our society. I don’t like it and I hope we don’t have to deal with this again,” Brandes added. The Washington Animal Clinic in Brenham, Texas fired Lindsey within hours of the photo surfacing on social media and identified her on their Facebook page. The clinic used duct tape to delete her name from its streetfront sign.  “We are absolutely appalled, shocked, upset, and disgusted by the conduct,” a spokesperson for the clinic wrote in a statement. “We condemn it in the strongest possible manner.” The clinic received more than 500 angry calls by noon, KBTX reported.  Their concern was mirrored by the Texas Veterinary Medical Association, which condemned the kill. The association noted that the veterinarian in question is not affiliated with them, and would have violated their oath to protect an animal’s health and welfare. Lindsey obtained a license from the Texas State Board Continue Reading

AUCTION’S OFF: Owner of Midtown office tower primed for condos files for bankruptcy to delay ‘fire sale’

The financially-troubled owner of a valuable Midtown office building primed for conversion to condos doesn’t want to see the property auctioned off in what it calls a “fire sale.” An entity that was once affiliated with Aaron Chitrik has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a bid to buy some time to sell the building itself, a a 60,000-square-foot tower at 315 W. 35th St., rather than have it auctioned off in court in order to satisfy the $30 million it owes to creditors. The owner says it already has a provisional deal to sell the property for $40 million, which would be more than enough to pay off his creditors and likely more than an auction would yield. It just needs time to tie up the paperwork. “Our hope is that we’ll be able to sell the property for enough to cover all obligations with something left over,” said David Graubard, an attorney for the owner. The property was slated to be auctioned Thursday at 60 Centre St. Real estate giant Isaac Chetrit owns the debt on the building and would have been a likely bidder. Attorney Stephen Meister of Meister Seelig & Fein, who represents Chetrit, said this was a "classic, eleventh hour filing" and he'd be moving for it to be dismissed and for the auction to go ahead.  Chitrik bought the property in 2006 for just $16 million and was in the middle of converting it to condos when the market went south, throwing his finances into disarray. He told the Daily News he was no longer affiliated with the ownership entity.  Continue Reading

Fired African-American police officer seeks $5M in damages after all-white force let him go, vandals write N-word on his car

A small town in the shadow of a volcano in Washington state is simmering with racial tensions over a fired African-American police officer’s claims of discrimination. Gerry Pickens, 28, alleges he suffered racist jokes, different treatment from the entirely white rest of the force and an undeserved dismissal at the end of his first-year probationary period with the Orting Police Department last year, The Washington Post reported. Vandals later wrote “N-----” on his SUV and threatened him “sue cheif [sic] and pay,” and Pickens filed a $5 million damages claim against the city in February, KING-TV reported. Pickens’ colleagues called him the “black juvenile” after a local resident dialed 9-1-1 to report that a “black juvenile” was driving a police car shortly after he had started his beat and moved his family from Atlanta to the town 30 miles from Mount Rainier, he told the Post. The three-year police veteran and son of a military man also drove an older squad car than his colleagues and received a one-week suspension for an unsubstantiated allegation that he had worked out a gym where he wasn’t a member, he says, according to the Post. Police Chief Bill Drake called the 2013 hiring of Pickens — the 11-member police department’s first black police officer — “a crowning achievement for us,” in an interview with the newspaper. But Drake laid him off at the end of the trial first year period, citing “unsatisfactory performance,” according to The News Tribune of nearby Tacoma. Pickens had hired a lawyer but hadn’t filed any formal claims against the city before the vandals targeted his Ford Explorer one night in January, KIRO-TV reported. He announced the next month while flanked by NAACP officials in Tacoma that he’ll file a wrongful termination lawsuit if city officials elect not to pay the damages Continue Reading

Body of Israeli 12-year-old girl found after Thailand tour boat catches fire

BANGKOK — A search team on Thursday found the body of a 12-year-old Israeli girl, the only fatality from a tourist boat that caught fire in the Andaman Sea in the country's southwest, Thai officials said. The rest of about 110 passengers, mostly foreign tourists, and crew were rescued on Wednesday after the boat sank in flames off the coast of Krabi province. The girl's body was recovered by a team of up to 50 navy, marine police and national park officers, who were searching for her since the sinking, Krabi deputy governor Narong Woonchew, who headed the search mission, told The Associated Press on Thursday. The girl was vacationing with her parents and was believed to be in the restroom when the fire broke out on the Ao Nang Princess boat, according to the police. Narong said police were investigating the cause of the fire, which engulfed the ferry that was traveling from Krabi to Phuket, two of Thailand's most popular beach resort areas. Photos taken by rescuers, including the Krabi Marine Police, showed the abandoned vessel burning down almost to the waterline before sinking. Police Col. Sompong Thip-apakul of the Krabi police station said on Wednesday that the investigation of the fire would be difficult because the vessel had sunk. Thailand's tourist industry, which welcomes more than 20 million people a year, has suffered a black eye in recent years due to domestic political violence and several high-profile killings and unexplained accidental deaths of Westerners, but serious marine accidents are uncommon. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

‘Mad Men’ star Jon Hamm accused of violent frat hazing while student at University of Texas in 1990, victim’s pants set on fire

Before he was a “Mad Man,” John Hamm was a very bad boy. The Emmy-nominated star, in a cruel fraternity hazing ritual, shoved a pledge’s face in the dirt, whacked the man with a paddle — and then lit the student’s jeans on fire, recently uncovered documents show. “He rears back and hits me left-handed, and he hit me right over my right kidney, I mean square over it,” Sigma Nu hopeful Mark Allen Sanders said in a lawsuit. “Good solid hit and that, that stood me right up.” The brutal hazing occurred in 1990 when the actor belonged to the fraternity’s chapter at the University of Texas, records from the school and court showed. Hamm participated in the pledge abuse “till the very end,” according to the Sanders lawsuit. The actor became “mad, I mean really mad” after Sanders flubbed his response after a demand to recite certain phrases about different brothers, the lawsuit charged. Hamm’s list reportedly included the phrases “MC Hammer,” “UT Football Punching Bag” and “Young Bobby.” The incident produced criminal charges against Hamm and four other fraternity members — and forced the disbanding of the Texas chapter. A spokesman for Hamm did not return a request for comment from The Associated Press, nor did a representative for “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner. It was the latest bad news for Hamm, who announced last month that he spent 30 days in a rehab for alcohol addiction. The paperwork in the hazing case was dug up by Star magazine. The actor plays boozy advertising executive Don Draper on the acclaimed “Mad Men.” There are just six episodes of the show remaining in its final season. Hamm, 44, faced a hazing charge and received a sentence where he was required to successfully Continue Reading

EXCLUSIVE: Teacher claims L.I. Quaker school mistreated and fired her after she turned 60

A Brooklyn woman is suing the Quaker school where she taught for 16 years after she was fired and replaced by someone more than two decades younger, the Daily News has learned. Trouble began for Marsha Mayer when she turned 60 in 2011 and her boss at Friends Academy in Locust Valley, L.I. “unleashed a torrent of insulting behavior to try to shame (her) into retirement,” according to her Brooklyn Federal Court age discrimination lawsuit. The head of the school, William Morris, began a harassment campaign against Mayer by moving her classroom to a basement section that had no doors and a partial ceiling, which was opened to the library above, according to the suit. Her old room was given to a “new and young teacher,” according to the suit, which seeks $866,000 in back pay and damages. The next year she was moved to the school’s attic, an area that is only accessible via a stairway. “No matter what they did, her students continued to revere her and her supervisors continued to praise her,” said her lawyer Douglas Schneider. Mayer, an art and technology teacher, consistently got glowing reviews from her bosses after joining the private school in 1997, according to the suit. “Marsha pokes and prods her students, but always in a caring way, to provide deeper thought,” one review stated. Still, the school then cut her salary by $16,000, from $91,000 to $75,000, the suit said. The only other school staffer who got a pay reduction was also an older faculty member, the suit said. At the same time, the number of students being funneled to Mayer’s classes was also pared back, from 15 to a mere five or fewer, the court documents said. Mayer, 63, was fired after the school year ended in 2013. A top school administrator declined to comment. “Given the fact that we are in middle of a process it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to comment at this Continue Reading

5 injured in Brooklyn after NYPD car hits van, catches fire: officials

Five people were injured, including two cops, after an NYPD patrol car slammed into a passenger van and caught fire in Brooklyn early Sunday, police and fire officials said. The cops were pursuing a robbery suspect in their squad car when they smashed into a 15-passenger Mercedes van on Fort Hamilton Parkway and 66th St. in Dyker Heights about 4:15 a.m., police said. Three people in the van were hurt. The collision sparked a fire in the patrol car but the officers managed put it out using a fire extinguisher stored in their vehicle, police said. All five of the injured were taken to Lutheran Medical Center with one person in critical condition, two people in serious but stable condition, and two more with minor injuries, according to officials. Police later arrested a robbery suspect near the scene of the collision. Continue Reading

Calif. mom poured gasoline on 7-year-old daughter and lit her on fire: cops

A California mother allegedly poured gasoline on her 7-year-old daughter and lit her on the fire, an attack the girl amazingly survived. Porche Latric Wright, 27, has been charged with attempted murder with premeditation and aggravated mayhem, the Sacramento Bee reported. She was arrested at her Sacramento home Saturday afternoon after a friend noticed burn marks on Wright's 7-year-old daughter and called the police. The girl was rushed to a hospital, where she is still being treated but is expected to survive. It's still unclear what may have prompted the alleged arson assault. “She was burned so bad, face and everything, it was really really severe,” neighbor Frank Taylor told Fox40 about the young victim.  Other neighbors said they frequently saw and heard Wright yelling at her daughter. Wright is being held without bail and could face life in prison if convicted. She had previously completed a "batterer's treatment program" as part of a settlement last year for a felony domestic violence charge. She also has previous charges of disorderly conduct and prostitution. Follow @jaysunsilver Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Drunk New Mexico dad fires gun at customer during beer run, uses 13-year-old son as getaway driver, police say (VIDEO)

A "Breaking Bud" dad allegedly too drunk to drive got his 13-year-old son to take him to an Albuquerque gas station on an ill-fated beer run, police said. Sergio Barrientos-Hinojosa, 33, got into an argument with another customer inside the New Mexico station's convenience store and opened fire Saturday night, according to the Albuquerque Police Department. “Totally irresponsible of this individual,” Albuquerque Police spokesperson Simon Drobik told KRQE. No one was wounded and Barrientos-Hinojosa, still firing his gun the air, sped off in a truck with his underage son behind the wheel, cops said. They didn't get far. About 40 police officers were conducting a DWI checkpoint across the street and quickly stopped Barrientos-Hinojosa. “The 13-year-old looked completely shell-shocked at that moment,” Drobik told KRQE. Barrientos-Hinojosa, who fired up to eight times, faces child abuse and weapons charges. The 13-year-old getaway driver will not be charged, police said. Follow on Twitter @jmolinet ON A MOBILE DEVICE? WATCH THE VIDEO HERE. With News Wire Services Join the Conversation: Continue Reading