<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.com en-us Wed, 23 Jul 2014 23:54:20 -0400 Wed, 23 Jul 2014 23:54:20 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Storms Bring Rain, Lightning to Parts of State]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 22:55:25 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/4ef64b91987749f3a2b3945b072d388c.jpg

Severe thunderstorm warnings and watches were issued Wednesday night as storms moved in from the west, bringing rain, gusty winds and lots of lightning.

Although all severe weather alerts have since been canceled and storms are decaying, according to Chief Meteorologist Brad Field.

Lightning strikes were frequent and winds reached up to 40 mph in parts of western and central Connecticut.

Hail was reported in Litchfield County, and Connecticut Light & Power was reporting nearly 650 outages in Newtown, about 360 in Canaan and 230 in Southbury as of about 10:30 p.m.

To get the latest forecast, download the NBC Connecticut weather app.

Hot and humid weather prompted Bloomfield to open cooling centers on Wednesday.

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

Photo Credit: Viewer Photo]]>
<![CDATA[Car Crashes at Shelton Gas Station]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 22:52:56 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/shelton+bp+gas+station.jpg

Authorities are responding to the BP gas station at 198 Leavenworth Road in Shelton after a car crashed into the gas pumps around 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Witnesses at the scene said the car was driving fast and lost control prior to the crash. A gas station attendant said she heard a loud screech and looked outside and saw that a car had slammed into the pumps.

According to the gas station, the pumps were turned off after the crash. NBC Connecticut arrived to find the car, a Mazda, flipped over between gas pumps. It was towed from the scene around 10:30 p.m.

There has been no word on injuries.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Equipment at Local Fire Departments Part of Nationwide Recall]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 23:24:21 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/mansfield-fire-truck.jpg

Fire departments across the state have pulled some of their trucks out of service. The company that makes those trucks issued a recall because of a major safety concern.

That recall is affecting fire departments in Wethersfield, Middletown, Guilford, New Haven and Milford.

On Wednesday the Middletown Fire Department told us it has had no major issues since the recall but some firefighters weren't so lucky.

It was a dramatic scene at a routine exercise for a fire department in Hall County, Georgia. Firefighters were rushed to area hospitals Tuesday afternoon after a ladder they had extended suddenly dropped

"There's a cable that runs that aerial up in the air, that cable snapped, sending that ladder track back into its bed," said Deputy Chief Steven LaRosa of the Middletown Fire Department, who spoke about the Georgia accident that happened on a truck very much like one of their own.

That truck is now out of service.

"If these other towns have that type of service where they need that ladder that's going to put an awful crimp on their everyday responses to keep their people safe," LaRosa said

Fire officials in Middletown tell us the public's safety was never compromised but the recall by Sutphen--the parent company has affected fire departments statewide.

"When those trucks are in service, it's difficult to lose them," LaRosa added.

New Haven's Fire Department also lost two tower ladders but the chief insists it's not affecting staffing or public safety. NBC Connecticut also learned that Wethersfield has two trucks affected while Guilford and Milford each have one

"We have to make sure everybody is covered so we made the decision to put this back into service," said LaRosa.

Middletown firefighters had a truck handy even though they don't use it regularly. On Wednesday the president of Sutphen issued a letter and said they're investigating as quickly as possible

"They're in no danger of any coverage issue. But we said, this one was sitting here. We might as well try and get it back into service," LaRosa added.

Middletown says it hopes to get the truck back into service next week

<![CDATA[Man Charged in Murders of Daughter, Wife Found Dead in 1995]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:21:52 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/honsch+family.jpg

Almost 20 years after the body of a 17-year-old girl was discovered behind a shopping plaza in New Britain, police have identified her and charged her father with murdering the teen and her mother.

Elizabeth Honsch was found shot in the head near 593 Hartford Road in New Britain on Sept. 28, 1995. Her body had been wrapped in a sleeping bag and plastic trash bags, according to police.

The body of her mother, 53-year-old Marcia Honsch, was found eight days later and 40 miles away near the entrance to a state park in Tolland, Massachusetts. She had also been shot in the head and had been dead for a week when her body was discovered, according to police.

Both women were found without any identifying information and, until today, were known publicly only as Jane Doe. DNA testing revealed that they were related, and their names were released at a press conference Wednesday.

Police have obtained arrest warrants charging Marcia's husband and Elizabeth's father, 70-year-old Robert Honsch, with murder in both Connecticut and Massachusetts.

He's in the custody of the Wayne County Sheriff's Department in Wooster, Ohio, and will be extradited to New England, authorities said.

The Honsch family was living in Brewster, New York, at the time of the murders. According to police, the Honsches "suddenly lost contact with all other family members" in October 1995, shortly after the bodies were found.

Authorities learned that Robert Honsch had moved to Dalton, Ohio, and was living under the name Tyree Honsch with his current wife and children. Police began investigating him after relatives of Marcia and Elizabeth Honsch reported them missing in June.

The arrest warrants for Robert Honsch have been sealed and it's not clear why family members waited so long to report the women's disappearances.

Information on an attorney for Robert Honsch was not immediately available.

Police released pictures of the clothing and jewelry Elizabeth Honsch was wearing at the time of her death, along with facial reconstruction images. Photographs of Marcia, Elizabeth and Robert Honsch were released Wednesday.

Elizabeth Honsch isn’t the only woman to be found dead on Hartford Road in New Britain.

In 2007, the bodies of three other women were discovered in the same area near the intersection of Route 9 and Hartford Road.

Two of the woman have been identified as Joyvaline “Joy” Martinez, of East Hartford, and Diane Cuzack of New Britain. Their deaths are also considered homicides but police have not said whether they're connected.

Photo Credit: New Britain Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Equipment Stolen From Suffield Tree Service]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 21:48:21 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/police_generic21.jpg

Police are asking for the public’s help in tracking down the burglars who stole more than $11,000 worth of equipment from H.T. Sikes Tree Service in Suffield last week.

Workers reported the burglary July 18 and told police the door to their equipment garage had been forced open and $11,500 in equipment was missing. According to police, 13 chainsaws and a leaf blower were taken sometime between July 16 and July 18.

Anyone with information on the burglary is urged to call Suffield police Det. Justin Fuller at 860-668-3870.

<![CDATA[Suspect Climbs Onto Roof to Avoid Arrest: Police]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 19:39:34 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Norwalk+Bank+robbery+suspect.jpg

Norwalk police have arrested the man accused of robbing the First County Bank earlier this month after he climbed onto a motel roof in an attempt to get away, according to police.

Isaiah Gary, 32, of Norwalk, was taken into custody Wednesday morning after police received a tip that he was in a car behind the Norwalk Westport Motel at 344 Westport Avenue.

He’s accused of robbing the First County Bank at 469 Westport Avenue on July 17.

According to police, Gary climbed onto the motel roof to get away from officers but was apprehended and charged with first-degree robbery and second-degree larceny.

Gary was held on a $200,000 bond and is due in court July 24.

Photo Credit: Norwalk Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Enfield Officer Will Not Face Assault Charges]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 19:52:00 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/mark+maher.jpg

The Hartford state’s attorney has thrown out an arrest warrant for Officer Matthew Worden of the Enfield Police Department, who was accused of using force while arresting a man in April.

The warrant would have charged Worden with third-degree assault and falsifying or tampering with evidence. Enfield police filed the application July 10 and Hartford State’s Attorney Gail P. Hardy denied it six days later, according to a memo from Hardy to Enfield Police Chief Carl J. Sferrazza.

Worden arrested Mark-Andrew Maher, of Windsor, the night of April 1 after another officer spotted Maher at the River Street boat launch with three other people after hours, according to the memo.

Maher was arrested and charged with assault on a police officer and interfering with an officer. Days later, he filed a police brutality complaint against “three or four” unnamed officers who he claimed assaulted him while taking him into custody, the memo says.

The state’s attorney investigated using video from the police cruiser, the incident report Worden prepared for Maher’s arrest, two additional case reports dated April 1 and April 5, medical records for Maher and his police brutality complaint, according to the memo.

According to Hardy’s memo, Worden arrived that night with a police dog and helped detain the suspects after another man was seen furtively passing an object to Maher. A search of Maher’s pockets turned up several items, including a box cutter.

A scuffle broke out and officers put Maher on the ground in an attempt to restrain him. Dashboard video from a police cruiser parked at the scene shows Maher twisting his body and resisting the officers. Worden is seen punching Maher at least twice while trying to handcuff him, according to the memo.

“It is worth nothing that, at no time, are all four civilians together in one place, where officers could have them, and their hands, clearly in view, for officers [sic] safety,” the memo says.

It goes on to explain that “Worden’s conduct seemed to be aimed at an attempt to restrain Maher who was resisting officers [sic] attempts to handcuff him, rather than an intention to inflict physical injury.”

Hardy concludes that Worden may have violated the police department’s “use of force” policy but did not break the law.

Photo Credit: Enfield Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Brothers Fight Off Armed Teen Intruder]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:20:13 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Halloween+mask+New+London+1200+home+invasion.jpg

Two brothers fought off and helped detain a 15-year-old armed intruder who tried to rob them early Wednesday morning in New London, police said.

A teen, wearing a hockey mask and carrying a knife and a loaded gun, invaded a home on Crystal Avenue just before 3 a.m. on Wednesday, according to police.

Richard and Kevin Dennis were asleep when the teen broke in, but woke up and acted quickly.

Richard went toward the teen.

"That’s when he hit me in the head with the gun. Then I picked him up and he started wailing on my back with the butt of the gun," Richard said.

Kevin got a gun to help his brother, and told the teen to drop his weapon and stay still.

"I heard my brother say, 'Kevin, I need help. He has a gun.' When I heard that, (I) grabbed my gun and went flying through the door," Kevin Dennis said.

The teen did drop his weapon.

"He dropped it the moment he saw me. I got mine. The fight was over. It was night and day," Kevin Dennis said.

When police arrived, they arrested the intruder.

The teen was charged with home invasion, burglary, second-degree assault with a firearm, first-degree threatening and carrying a pistol without a permit. His name has not been released because of his age.

The resident who was assaulted had minor injuries, but declined medical treatment, police said. 

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[2 Accused of Stealing Copper Piping From Norwich Home]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 20:26:06 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/norwich+copper+pipe+suspects.jpg

Two men are facing charges after stealing copper piping from a vacant home on Joseph Perkins Road in Norwich, according to police.

Eric Vic, 29, and Kevin Banta, 30, were arrested Wednesday morning. Police said witnesses helped them identify the suspects’ vehicle, and officers set up surveillance in the area until they spotted the car.

Inside, officers found “tools generally used to commit burglaries,” according to police.

Banta and Vic were each charged with possession of burglar tools, third-degree burglary, first-degree criminal mischief and sixth-degree larceny. Vic was additionally charged with carrying weapons in a motor vehicle.

They were held on $25,000 bonds and are due in court Thursday.

Police said the investigation is ongoing and has provided insight into a number of unsolved burglaries in Norwich and the surrounding area. They expect to make additional arrests.

Photo Credit: Norwich Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[New London Police Arrest Suspected Drug Dealers]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 21:01:07 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/new+london+cox+waites.jpg

Police have arrested two men accused of dealing drugs in New London.

Police arrested Raashid Cox, 24, and Lamont Waites, 19, of 365 Jefferson Avenue in New London, after searching their home Wednesday morning as part of a long investigation. Authorities found drugs and weapons at the house, according to police.

Cox and Waites were each charged with possession of marijuana, possession with intent to sell, possession of marijuana within 1500 feet of a housing project, operating a drug factory and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Cox was additionally charged with criminal possession of a firearm and altering or removing the identification mark of a firearm.

Photo Credit: New London Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Homeowner Shoots, Kills Intruder]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 22:08:27 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/long+beach+homeowner+4.JPG

A Long Beach homeowner has no regrets after shooting and killing a woman who said she was pregnant after he got into a confrontation with her and another man who were ransacking his sprawling home.

Tom Greer, an 80-year-old retiree, arrived to his upscale Bixby Knolls neighborhood Tuesday night to find a couple in the middle of a late-night break-in.

"When I went in there, they tackled me," Greer told NBC4 Wednesday. "Both of them jumped up on top of me."

The intruders, a man and woman, may have underestimated Greer, he said, as they ransacked his safe and yanked the door open right in front of him.

The intruders threw Greer to the ground, but they didn't know he'd gotten his .22-caliber Smith and Wesson revolver.

"I come back and they see me with a gun, and they run," he said.

The man escaped, but the woman fell after being struck by Greer's gunfire in an alley behind the house.

"She says, 'Don't shoot me, I'm pregnant! I'm going to have a baby!' And I shot her anyway," Greer said.

When asked what he saw happen to the woman after he fired shots, Greer responded: "She was dead. I shot her twice, she best be dead ... (The man) had run off and left her."

"I've never in my life shot anybody, killed anybody," Greer said.

Greer was being treated at the hospital Wednesday for a severe shoulder and collarbone injury, but he hoped to send a warning to the man who got away.

"I shot her so that's going to leave a message on his mind for the rest of his life," Greer said.

Long Beach police said they were investigating the incident. It was not immediately clear whether any charges would be filed against Greer for the shooting.

<![CDATA[Chikungunya: What You Need to Know]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 20:54:09 -0400 Aedes aegypti mosquito.]]> Aedes aegypti mosquito.]]> http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/181*120/tlmd_virus_mortales_03.jpg

A person caught the mosquito-borne virus chikungunya in the United States this month, health officials say — marking the first time mosquitoes in the U.S. are believed to have spread it.

Other cases of the illness, which is relatively new to the Americas, have been reported in travelers returning home to FloridaNew YorkTexas and elsewhere, often after trips to the Caribbean.

Here is some key information about chikungunya and the virus that causes it.

How do you get chikungunya? Mosquitoes transmit the virus between people. The two species usually responsible, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, bite mostly during the day. In the U.S., they are found in the Southeast and in some parts of the Southwest, though Aedes albopictus also is found up through the Mid-Atlantic and in the lower Midwest.

What are the symptoms? The most common symptoms are fever and joint pain, often in the hands and feet; also possible are muscle aches, headaches, joint swelling and a rash. Symptoms, which can be severe, usually begin three to seven days after a person is bitten. Most people feel better within a week, and death is rare, though joint pain can persist.

How do you treat chikungunya? There is no specific treatment and no vaccine. Medicines like ibuprofen, naproxen, paracetamol and acetaminophen can relieve fever and pain, though.

How do you avoid getting chikungunya? To protect yourself, try to avoid being bitten. Use air conditioning or window screens. Use insect repellant, and if possible, wear long sleeves and pants. Get rid of standing water, where mosquitoes can breed.

Who is most at risk for a severe case? Newborns exposed during delivery, people 65 and older and those with high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease are at the highest risk.

What does the name mean? It is derived from a word in the Kimakonde language, spoken in southern Tanzania, where the virus was first detected. It means to become contorted or bent, describing the stooped appearance of someone suffering from joint pain.

Where has it been reported? Outbreaks have occured in Africa, Asia and Europe and on the islands in the Indian and Pacific oceans. The first case transmitted in the Americas was reported in the Caribbean in late 2013.

How do you pronounce chikungunya? Like this: chik-en-gun-ye.

Source: Centers for Disease and Prevention, World Health Organization

Photo Credit: wikicommons]]>
<![CDATA[Gruesome Details on Mortuary Bodies]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 23:01:26 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Johnson+Family+Mortuary1.jpg

Disturbing new details on the conditions of decaying bodies found in a Fort Worth funeral home emerged Wednesday with the release of arrest warrant affadavits for two of the mortuary's managers.

Police who went to the Johnson Family Mortuary on July 15, weeks after its landlord had evicted it, found a gruesome scene, warrants for Rachel Hardy Johnson, 35, and Dondre A. Johnson, 39, showed.

Officers found evidence of insect infestation, as well as fly pupa on or near the bodies, according to those documents.

One corpse was mummified in a casket, while another that appeared mummified was wrapped only in a sheet and left on a coffee table.

Two more of the decaying corpses were of children, and of those, one was skeletonized while another was melted to a container.

More corpses were on gurneys, with bodily fluids draining onto the floor and into buckets places underneath to collect it, and with a shop vacuum nearby that had apparently been used to clean some of it. Other corpses were found in a garage area, where there was prevalent evidence of insects.

The warrants said that only one of the eight corpses found appeared to have been cared for properly and was not severely decomposed. That body was from a recent funeral and was being prepared to be shipped to Kenya.


Rachel Johnson was arrested July 18, while Dondre surrendered to police at about 2 a.m. July 19.

Each was charged with seven counts of abuse of a corpse, and both were released after paying $10,500 bond each, or $1,500 for each count.

Investigators said they intentionally or knowingly treated seven corpses "in a seriously offensive manner, namely by retaining custody of and storing the human corpse in an unrefrigerated building instead of delivering the said human corpse for proper burial or cremation."

(Read the arrest warrant affidavit here.)

The seven corpses officials say were abused were identified as being those of the following people:

  • Baby Girl Booker — DOB April 21, 2012 — DOD April 21, 2012
  • Karen Pearl Jones — DOB Nov. 8, 1958 — DOD March 25, 2014
  • Helen Jones — DOB Oct. 12, 1943 — DOD April 9, 2014
  • Boy Desiree Williams — DOB Unknown — DOD May 1, 2014
  • Deborah Whitney — DOB Unknown — DOD May 11, 2014
  • Victoria Vasquez — DOB — Aug. 25, 1961 — DOD June 9, 2014
  • Patricia Baptiste — DOB Unknown — DOD June 30, 2014

During a discussion with police July 15 outside of the mortuary, Dondre Johnson is quoted in the affidavit as saying he and his wife owned the funeral home but that she was in charge.

He added that the above conditions were not unusual, saying that bodies belong in a funeral home and that the bodies hadn't been there longer than four months. He told police he was not licensed by any state agency and that he merely owns the funeral home.

About an hour after talking with Dondre Johnson, police spoke with his wife Rachel. She told them that she holds a license through the state funeral commission and that she was in charge of the administrative functions of the business.

She told police she had been absent from the business due to recently giving birth but had been at the mortuary only a few days before. She admitted to police that she smelled a stench, but said she was unaware there were bodies inside the funeral home.

Rachel is quoted in the affidavit saying her husband is more about the "pomp and circumstance" and the "show" associated with conducting memorial services and that he was not very good at keeping up with the necessary administrative paperwork needed to properly bury and cremate corpses.

Abuse of a corpse, a Class A misdemeanor, is punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000 per count.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Innocent Man Freed After 20 Years]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 22:09:27 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Rodell_Sanders.jpg

A suburban Chicago man wrongly convicted of murder got a taste of freedom for the first time in 20 years Wednesday.

Rodell Sanders received a new trial and was acquitted after a witness recanted.

"I am happy to be out. I am thankful to be out. I am happy I survived as long as I did. I'm thankful for my legal team. I am thankful for my family that stood by me all this time," Sanders said.

Sanders was serving an 80-year sentence for a crime he never committed. He was identified in a photo lineup by the surviving victim of the robbery, but his attorneys say police doctored the photo.

"Anyone viewing that photo array would know you wouldn't put a photo with errors in it just to be a filler. That to be the suspect's photograph," attorney Russell Ainsworth said.

After he was convicted, Sanders became a student of the law, and acted as his own attorney at the hearing that won him a new trial.

"I took about $1,000 -- asked my sister Virginia to buy me about $1,000 worth of legal books, and I taught myself the law as much as I can, and I took on the justice system," Sanders said.

Sanders was reunited with his children and grandchildren Wednesday.

"I tell him all the time that I can't even believe the things he's done. He's a talker, without a doubt, so yeah, he is unbelievable," Sanders' eldest daughter, Lynette Booth, said.

Sanders is suing the Chicago Heights police department and the officers involved in his case, but he says he's not bitter or angry -- he'd like to work for change by helping others wrongly convicted and serving time.

"I want to go out. I want to work. I love law, love the courtroom. I would love to go on to be a paralegal or a lawyer or something like that," Sanders said.

<![CDATA[Plans for West Haven Outlet Mall Move Forward]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:33:14 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/WestHavenOutletsPic00000000.jpg

A developer is scheduled to break ground in March 2015 on a massive project that will turn a currently unused space in West Haven into an outlet mall with a hundred shops and restaurants.

That project took another step forward Tuesday night.

“Last night, at the Planning and Zoning Commission Meeting, they amended the zoning regulations to allow for a retail shopping center down in this area,” said West Haven Mayor Ed O’Brien.

O'Brien says that means the developer, Gordon Holdings, won't need a special permit to begin the project at 105 Water Street.

“This is something that is going to turn around West Haven,” said O’Brien.

The project is privately funded, and Gordon Holdings has been working to acquire additional properties in the area to make way for the new outlet mall. One of those properties is right next door to the site at Bilco.

“Of course, any time you relocate a business that's been at a site, as we have – since the 1950s, we've been here – that's always going to be difficult to accomplish, but we're planning for it and actually looking forward to moving to a new location,” said Bilco Vice President of Finance Robert Santoro.

However, not every business is happy to relocate. Laurence Czajkowski is uncertain if he'll move, even though Sheldon Gordon from Gordon Holdings confirms that a deal has been reached to sell the property. Czajkowski says he's concerned about the honesty and transparency surrounding the project.

“Not once has anyone from City Hall has ever come in to my office and/or as I understand it, my neighbors, to say hey, here's what we're doing in the area,” said Czajkowski.

Sheldon Gordon says that barring any major road blocks or hurdles, the project will move forward. He says Gordon Holdings has already poured millions of dollars into the project, which is scheduled to be completed by fall 2016.

<![CDATA[Bridgeport Officer Credited With Helping Save Toddler's Life]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:53:56 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/officer+novia.jpg

A toddler is alive and well today after a Bridgeport officer helped rush the boy to the hospital after finding him unconscious in the backseat of his parents’ car, according to police.

Police said Officer Michael Novia was on patrol near Park Avenue on Tuesday when a woman waved him over and told him her child wasn’t breathing.

Novia approached the car and saw the 18-month-old boy unresponsive in the backseat.

Police said the boy and his family are from the Bronx and had spent the day at the beach in Seaside Park. The child, Dylan, had shown "signs of distress" throughout the evening.

Dylan's parents called 911 and brought him out to the car. They were "disoriented" and looking for a hospital when they spotted Novia and flagged him down, police said.

Novia radioed dispatch, who contacted medical personnel at Saint Vincent’s Medical Center, then turned on his lights and siren and told the family to follow him to the hospital, police said.

Dylan was transferred to Yale-New Haven Hospital and is listed in good condition.

Personnel at Saint Vincent’s told police that the toddler likely would not have survived had they waited for an ambulance to arrive, according to police.

Novia was recognized at police headquarters at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

“We called the hospital this morning and I am so happy to report Dylan is in good condition. I have four sons and I can’t imagine being in that situation,” Mayor Bill Finch said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “I want to thank Officer Novia and all of our police officers. The reality is that were it not for that actions of this officer, a family could be mourning the death of a child. Instead, we have hope and good news from doctors.”

Photo Credit: Bridgeport Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Waterbury Condos in Disrepair, Authorities Intervene]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:27:42 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/530pwtbycondostill072314doug00000000.jpg

"For rent" and "for auction" signs outside Bradley Gardens condominiums in Waterbury reveal all is not well in the complex.

Inside some of the apartments and condos, residents report mold and damaged walls, a day after city government officials went into the Bradley Avenue condo complex to document evidence of neglect.

Ashfaq Butt led a tour of several buildings, pointing out missing emergency lights and gaping holes in the ceilings in common areas.

In one apartment, he showed not just missing ceiling panels but a disconnected toilet. The owner is living with his son in New York, trying to get his condo fixed.

The owner of GW Property Maintenance, was not available for comment when NBC Connecticut called the property management company Wednesday.

"They've been collecting a lot of money every month," said Dee Vigant, a resident of Bradley Gardens for 26 years, "and they've done nothing for us for the past two-and-a-half years."

She said that's how long a vine has been growing up the side of one of the buildings, a vine stretching from the ground to the roof.

On closer inspection, it's a lush case of poison ivy.

<![CDATA[State Police Arrest Suspects in Killingly Home Burglary]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 19:25:53 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/handcuffs12.jpg

State police have arrested two men in connection with the theft of more than $100,000 of collectible items from a home in Killingly in January.

Hector Camacho, 29, of Danielson and John Gee, 50, of Woodstock, were charged this week with first-degree larceny by possession.

The arrests come after police Rhode Island and Massachusetts helped recover the stolen property. It’s now in the custody of Connecticut State Police Troop D in Danielson, according to state police.

Police said the investigation is ongoing.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[New Fire Chief, Recruits for New Haven]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:21:00 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/new+haven+fire+academy.jpg

With the formal oath of office, New Haven welcomed its newest leader, Fire Chief Allyn Wright.

Wright has been on the job for a few months now, and one of his main goals is to increase manpower at the department.

He got started on Wednesday with 45 recruits who attended the first day of the fire academy.

“We have a lot of vacancies, and what we basically want to do is minimize the overtime. Chief Egan along with myself, have been working very diligently to get this done,” said Wright.

The fire department currently has about 120 slots to fill. The new class of recruits will cover about a third of those vacancies, and Wright says another class will start in the fall.

“We're just going to make a small dent right now,” said Wright.

As for the recruits, they have about 15 weeks of training ahead of them, and they're excited about it.

“The good parts, and even the stressful parts, that's how you learn, and that's how you become better, and just interact with other people, help each other, and just learn,” said recruit Yaniris Cardona.

They all come from different backgrounds and professions, but all 45 have a desire to be a big part of the New Haven Fire Department.

“My uncle was a fireman for the New Haven Fire Department, retired about three to four years ago, so it's definitely an honor to here. It's been a long process, so I'm just really just happy to be here,” said Harry Bosley, another recruit.

“I love the city of New Haven," said recruit Daniel Del Prete. "I have four young children. I'm expecting my fifth, and would love nothing more than to work and help in the city that I love, and that I'm raising my family in.”

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Grandmother Left Child Alone in Car: Police]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:00:10 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/car-seat-generic.jpg

A Stratford grandmother was charged with leaving her grandchild alone in a car on Wednesday.

A passerby noticed the 3-year-old child alone and in its car seat in the back of a car in the parking lot at 444 Ferry Boulevard around 2:30 p.m.

The car's windows were closed, the doors were unlocked, and the car was not running, according to police. Officers said the air conditioner was running, even though the engine was not on.

Rosanna Sinatra, 59, came out of a store and told police she was inside for about five minutes. She told the officers she didn't want to disturb the toddler because the child was sleeping, according to police.

The toddler was not injured, police said.

Sinatra was issued a misdemeanor summons charging her with leaving a child under 12 unsupervised in a motor vehicle.

She is scheduled to appear in court on July 29.

<![CDATA[LA Ex-Councilman Convicted of Fraud]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:50:12 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/215*120/alarcon+richard+councilman+la+court.jpg

Former Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon was convicted Wednesday on some of the voter fraud and perjury counts against him in a trial stemming from accusations that he lied about where he lived so he could qualify for public office.

Alarcon was convicted on four of 16 felony counts against him for living outside a district he was elected to represent. The jury cleared him on the other counts. His wife, Flora Montes de Oca Alarcon, was convicted of three counts, and acquitted on three others.

Alarcon, 60, faced seven counts of fraudulent voting, six counts of perjury by declaration and three counts of perjury in an application for a drivers license. His wife was charged with six felony counts: three counts each of perjury by declaration and fraudulent voting in elections in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 10. Richard Alarcon faces up to six years in state prison and would be barred from holding elected public office. Flora Montes de Oca Alarcon faces up to five years and four months in state prison and would be barred from running for public office.

The panel was asked to decide whether the couple lied about where they lived between 2006 and 2009 so that Richard Alarcon could qualify for public office in Los Angeles' 7th Council District.

Outside of court Wednesday, Alarcon said he had no comment, but added, "I know I'm innocent."

Deliberations in the month-long trial began last week after prosecutors argued that the Panorama City house that Alarcon and his wife claimed as their "domicile" appeared to neighbors, utility employees and mail carriers to be vacant. Prosecutors contended the Alarcons really lived outside the 7th Council District in Sun Valley.

Under state election law, a residence for voting purposes is defined as a permanent home where one intends to remain and return after an absence. The law does not detail how much time must be spent at the address for it to qualify as a "domicile."

The defense claimed that the prosecution had not even come close to proving the charges against the two. Defense attorneys argued that the Panorama City house underwent renovations and remained the couple's permanent residence because they planned to return there after construction.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[Babies Get Herpes After Ritual: DOH]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:47:39 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/NC_Circumcision0906_722x406_2119014932.jpg

Two more infants were diagnosed with herpes in New York this month after undergoing ritual Jewish circumcisions, the Health Department says.

In both cases, the infant boys were born to mothers with full-term pregnancies and normal deliveries. They were circumcised using the direct oral suction technique practiced by some Orthodox Jews eight days after their birth, and developed lesions on their genitals shortly thereafter, the Health Department said.

Their conditions Wednesday weren't immediately clear.

NYC to Require Consent for Oral Suction Ritual

There have been 16 confirmed cases of herpes since 2000 in newborn boys after circumcisions that likely involved direct oral suction, including three in 2014, according to the Health Department. 

Two of the infants died and at least two others suffered brain damage.

During the ancient ritual, the person performing the circumcision attempts to cleanse the wound by sucking blood from the cut and spitting it aside. Authorities say the saliva contact could give the infant herpes, which is harmless in adults but could kill newborns.

In 2012, the Board of Health voted unanimously to require anyone performing circumcisions that involve oral suction to obtain written consent from a parent or guardian. The consent form delineates the potential health risks outlined by the Health Department. 

A group of Orthodox rabbis sued in an attempt to block the regulation, but a judge sided with the city.

The parents have to sign a form acknowledging that the city Health Department advises against the practice because of risks of herpes and other infections.

<![CDATA[Police Seek Suspect Who Robbed Elderly Woman: Cops]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:46:20 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Watertown+Robbery+Suspect+Edited.jpg

Police ask for the public's help in identifying a suspect who robbed an elderly woman at Stop & Shop in Watertown, police said on Twitter.

Watertown police tweeted a photograph of the suspect on Wednesday afternoon.

Police also tweeted a picture of the suspected vehicle used in the robbery.

More information will be provided when it becomes available.

Photo Credit: Watertown Police Department Twitter Account]]>
<![CDATA[Testimony Ends in Sterling Trial]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 23:14:15 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Donald-Shelley-Sterling.jpg

Testimony ended Wednesday in the trial to determine whether Donald Sterling's estranged wife can sell the Los Angeles Clippers in a proposed $2 billion deal with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Shelly Sterling, who had testified early in the trial, was expected to be the final witness, but her husband's lawyers decided not to call her back to the stand.

Instead, the final day's only witness was Jeffrey Cummings, MD, who criticized aspects of the reports by the two doctors who determined Donald Sterling was "mentally incapacitated."  It was based on those determinations that Shelly Sterling assumed control of the family trust that owned the Clippers, and negotiated a $2 billion sale.

Most of his testimony drew objections from Shelly Sterling's attorneys, and the Judge Michael Levanas at one point  said he didn't see how it would help him reach a decision.

"It's exasperating because he should see that the reports of these people are based upon examinations conducted in circumstances which Dr. Cummings said he's never seen before," Donald Sterling's attorney Max Blecher said outside of court.

"The incompetency is just a ploy, a ruse, a distraction so they can get rid of Donald Sterling who didn't want to sell the team," Blecher asserted.

After the court session, another member of the Donald Sterling team suggested her motive is take control of more than her half share of the community property--including the Clippers--accumulated during their nearly 60 year marriage.

"She wants control of the entirety of the state," said attorney Bobby Samini.  "It will never happen."

Shelly Sterling has maintained she is acting in the best interests of the family trust, which Donald Sterling dissolved shortly after the sale was announced.

Her  attorneys rested their case Tuesday, finishing with testimony that the Clippers face oblivion if the team's censured owner keeps control of the franchise.

Clippers Interim CEO Richard Parsons testified on Tuesday that coach Doc Rivers said he will leave if Donald Sterling stays, as well as players and sponsors.

Parsons said he fears there would also be an exodus of key players, including team captain Chris Paul, who also is black and heads the NBA players union.

Parsons was about to give an account of his conversations with Paul but was stopped by an objection by an NBA lawyer who said it would be an invasion of privacy. The judge upheld the objection.

Judge Levanas asked attorneys to file briefs Thursday, and return for closing arguments at 10am Monday.

The judge sees three main issues:

*Whether Shelly Sterling and the Family Trust followed the proper procedure to remove Donald Sterling as a Trustee.  Even if so, 

*Can the sale proceed after the dissolution of the Trust.  If that is also true,

*Should the court issue an order that the sale can go forward without being delayed waiting for a decision on any appeal that might be filed.

The trial was full of emotion and drama, especially for a probate-court trial to determine technical legal and financial questions.

Most of the fireworks came from Donald Sterling, who shouted at attorneys for both sides, denounced the NBA and its commissioner for trying to oust him from the league over racist recordings, and at one point called Shelly Sterling a "pig" as she left the witness stand.

Donald Sterling also filed a new lawsuit against on Tuesday his wife, the NBA and league Commissioner Adam Silver that alleges fraud, breach of contract, unfair business practices and infliction of emotional distress. He claimed, among other things, that he was tricked into being examined by psychiatrists to establish whether he was mentally competent.

That suit indicated an injunction to block the sale might be sought, but did not indicate when, and outside court Wednesday, Donald Sterling's attorneys declined to be specific.  Samini said they have not decided for certain whether they will seek it..

Patrick Healy contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: AP Images]]>
<![CDATA[New Canaan Public Works Employee Struck By Car]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:37:51 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/ambulance-shutterstock_14588642.jpg

A New Canaan Public Works employee suffered serious injuries when he was struck by a car while spray painting the intersection of New Norwalk Road and East Avenue on Wednesday morning, according to police.

The employee has been identified as 71-year-old Benjamin Olmstead, of Norwalk. Police said the car that hit him was driving northbound on New Norwalk Road and turning left onto East Avenue.

According to police, the driver stopped and stayed at the scene. Olmstead was taken to Norwalk Hospital for treatment. His condition is unknown.

An accident reconstruction team comprised of New Canaan and Wilton officers is investigating.

<![CDATA[Man Stole Elderly Woman's Purse, Used Charge Cards]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:47:42 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/watertown+purse+suspect.jpg

Police are searching for the man who stole an 80-year-old woman's purse inside a Waterford supermarket Wednesday morning, then tried to use her charge cards at a nearby bank.

According to police, a man approached the elderly woman while she was getting a cart inside the Stop & Shop supermarket on Straits Turnpike around 10 a.m. Wednesday.

He grabbed her purse, knocking her to the ground, and drove off in a newer-model black Nissan Altima or Maxima, police said. The purse contained money, personal documents and charge cards.

Police said a bank located at Chase Avenue and Thomaston Avenue in Waterbury contacted them 15 minutes later to report that the women's cards had been used in several locations until they were declined.

Officers searched the area of the declined transaction and found the woman's purse, which had been hidden, police said.

The suspect also tried to use the woman's checks at the Stop & Shop store on Reidville Drive in Waterbury, according to police.

Police are still searching for the suspect and getaway car. The victim was shaken up but not injured.

He's described as a white man with a brown goatee. Police believe he's 25-35 years old and said he was wearing a Detroit Tigers baseball cap marked with the letter "D."

He was wearing a black T-shirt with flames and a design printed on the front, along with blue-and-white plaid shorts and sneakers, police said.

Anyone with information on the robbery is urged to call Watertown police at 860-945-5200 or Crimestoppers at 860-945-9940. Calls will remain confidential.

Photo Credit: Watertown Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Flying Tire Kills Driver on Highway]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:12:19 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/bishop-ford-072314-1.jpg

A woman traveling northbound on the Bishop Ford Freeway was killed Wednesday morning when she was struck by a tire that came off a vehicle headed in the opposite direction, a spokesperson with the Illinois State Police told NBC Chicago.

First responders had to free Jovanka Mijatov, 64, who was pinned in her white 2011 Nissan Versa by "debris" after the 6:10 a.m. crash, Illinois State Police Trooper David Roman said.

Mijatov, of Schererville, Indiana, was taken by ambulance to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where she was pronounced dead.

Nearby, a green 1997 Chevrolet Blazer driven by 48-year-old Mariana Blanco, of Hammond, Indiana, was pulled over to the side of the southbound lane without a left rear tire.

Blanco faces three citations: driving without valid insurance, driving without valid registration and driving with unsafe tires.

Traffic on the freeway was backed up for nearly 10 miles, to Interstate 80. Commuters got by the accident scene using just one lane until about 9 a.m.

<![CDATA[2 Charged in Hartford Shooting That Left Victim Critical]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:05:54 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/hartford+Dudley+gooden.jpg

Two men are facing charges in connection with a shooting in Hartford last month that left a 25-year-old man in critical condition.

According to police, Jonathan Weaver was riding in a car stopped at the intersection of Albany Avenue and Oakland Terrace the evening of June 14 when a man identified as 28-year-old James Dudley, of East Hartford, walked up to the car and shot him.

Weaver drove into the intersection, struck a Volkswagen Beetle, then continued to Saint Francis Hospital. He was listed in critical condition and underwent emergency surgery, police said.

Police obtained arrest warrants for Dudley and his alleged driver and accomplice, 23-year-old Tyvonne Gooden, of Manchester, on Monday. Both are convicted felons who had been previously arrested in Hartford. Dudley was already in federal custody on unrelated charges, police said.

Dudley is charged with first-degree assault, carrying a pistol without a permit, criminal use and possession of a firearm and first-degree reckless endangerment.

Gooden was arrested Wednesday on Garden Street and is charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree assault and criminal liability for first-degree assault.

Police said Weaver survived the shooting and is recovering from his injuries.

Photo Credit: Hartford Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Man Charged After Gun Found During Search at House Office Building]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 21:09:07 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/2014-07-18_1248_0011.jpg

Just days after a congressional staffer was arrested for allegedly bringing a gun into the Cannon House Office Building, a second man has been arrested for the same offense, police said.

U.S. Capitol Police told News4 that officers discovered a 9mm Ruger handgun during an administrative search at the entrance to Cannon's rotunda. It happened around 9:20 a.m. Wednesday.

Ronald William Prestage has been charged with carrying a pistol without a license, said police spokesperson Shennell Antrobus. 

Prestage is not a congressional staffer. RollCall.com reported that he is a veterinarian and farm operator who is also president-elect of the National Pork Producers Council. He may have been on Capitol Hill to lobby on agriculture issues, the site reportedm.

He has a concealed carry permit in South Carolina, according to records, reported RollCall.com.

Prestage's arrest came five days after Ryan Shucard, the press secretary for Rep. Tom Marino of Pennsylvania, was taken into custody and charged with carrying a pistol without a license, a felony.

"It was a total accident," Shucard told News4's Darcy Spencer Friday afternoon.

Earlier this week, he pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Bill Tighe, the congressman's chief of staff, said Shucard has been placed on unpaid leave.

Photo Credit: Inset: Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call; background: News4]]>
<![CDATA[Suspicious Fires Destroy Avon Little League Equipment]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:15:54 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Sperry+Park+in+Avon+fire.JPG

Police and fire officials are investigating suspicious fires that destroyed a shed full of Little League equipment at Avon's Sperry Park early Wednesday morning.

Avon police called officials from the Avon Little League around 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday to tell them that a shed on their field had been destroyed, Little League officials said.

Police are now calling the fires suspicious and said at least one person was seen leaving the area when the flames broke out.

Authorities believe the person traveled from Fischer Drive to Ensign Drive, BIckford Drive and ended up on Climax Road.

Police said a resident called to report fire coming from the park around 3:15 a.m. and authorities arrived to find the shed engulfed in flames.

The building was originally used as a snack shack, but is now mostly used for storage and contains a freezer unit, merchandise and equipment, including pitching machines. The value of the equipment is worth is unknown.

According to police, a second fire was burning in the grass near a concession stand. The stand also sustained damage in the blaze.

It took firefighters about 15 minutes to put out the fires because a live power line was down.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but the Avon Fire Marshal said there has been vandalism in the area and police are trying to determine if this is connected to the fire.

The Avon Little League is a non-profit organization, so they need to figure out what they are going to do about replacing what was lost.

Anyone with information about the fires should call Avon police at 860-409-4200.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Fire at Super 8 Motel in Cromwell]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 12:33:49 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Super+8+Motel+Cromwell+fire.jpg

Firefighters from Cromwell and Berlin have responded to a fire at the Super 8 Motel at 1 Industrial Park Road in Cromwell.

A truck driver who is staying at the motel said guests were evacuated after an electrical fire in a bathroom on the third floor, but officials have not confirmed that.

No additional information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Man Pleads Guilty in Connection With Murder-for-Hire Plot ]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 22:20:52 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Javier+Reyes.jpg

A New London man has pleaded guilty in connection with a 2012 homicide that federal officials describe as a murder-for-hire plot to take over a drug operation.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the attack and homicide of Javier Reyes, 36, was connected to a "Green Garages" operation in which marijuana, cocaine and other narcotics were distributed from a series of garage bays at 12/14 Walker Street in New London.

Officials said former members of the enterprise were attempting to take over the drug operation and Jose Rosado, Jr. and others were paid to attack Reyes.

On the night of Sept. 12, 2012, Reyes was found outside his apartment at 187 Huntington Street He'd been stabbed several times, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

He was transported to a local hospital, then airlifted to Yale-New Haven Hospital, where he died of his injuries.

Video surveillance taken at the time of the attack shows Rosado, who was carrying a bat, and another person approaching Reyes, then running away from him seconds later, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Rosado has been in police custody since he was arrested in January. He pleaded guilty on Tuesday and could face up to 20 years in prison.

<![CDATA[Nearly 200 Train to Become National Guards Officers]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 11:43:13 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Camp+Niantic.JPG

The mornings start early at Camp Niantic, where 180 candidates from 17 different states are training and hoping to become officers in the National Guard.

Before the sun comes up, they are up doing sit-ups and pull-ups in a program that is 14 months long. The first two weeks are spent completing rigorous tasks at Camp Niantic, and after that, they spend weekends training in their home states.

“They’ve probably been about the most challenging two weeks of my life,” Mykel Kuslis, a candidate from Milford, said.

The training is tough physically and mentally. On some days, candidates spend up to 14 hours in a classroom.

“They cover army history, army training, army leadership, and other things an officer needs to know,” David Lord, a training officer at the Officer Candidate School said.

The learning goes hand in hand with the physical training. During one drill, called lines of knowledge, candidates are asked to answer a question while doing pull-ups. If they get the question wrong, they have to do even more physical training.

And this is only a small part of the officer candidate school. The training includes land navigation, squad and platoon tactics.

It is a journey that is over a year long, and one candidates say is worth it to be able to one day call themselves officers in the National Guard.


Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Police Arrest Suspected Heroin Dealer]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:26:46 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Seth+Scaplen+Mug+Shot.jpg

Police searched a Sullivan Drive home in the Central Village section of Plainfield on Tuesday and arrested a resident there after finding heroin packaged for sale, police said.

Officers seized 19 grams of heroin that Seth S. Scaplen, 25, had packaged to be sold when police were conducting a narcotics search of his 6 Sullivan Drive home, police said.

After executing the search and seizure warrant, police charged Scaplen with possession of heroin and possession of heroin with intent to sell.

Jordan Star-Barker, 20, was at Scaplen's home at the time of the search and police arrested her too because she was wanted on a failure to appear charge connected to a case involving first-degree robbery, second-degree assault and home invasion charges, police said. Police did not release information on the home invasion case related to Star-Barker's previous charges.

Police set Scaplen's bond at $20,000 and he is scheduled to appear at Danielson Superior Court on Aug. 4. The court set Star-Barker's bond at $500,000 and she is scheduled to appear at Danielson Superior Court.

Plainfield police encourage residents to report "suspicious and/or narcotic activity" to the department's anonymous tip line at 860-564-0765 or to officers to aid the town's effort to reduce illegal narcotics activity in Plainfield.

Photo Credit: Plainfield Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Geico Insurance Banner Falls on Bay Area House ]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 15:46:08 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/072314-banner-house.jpg

One Bay Area couple can now say for certain their house is covered by insurance.

A 4,000-square-foot Geico insurance banner being towed by a plane came loose and fell directly on their house Friday in Fremont.

"I heard a thump," says Sarah Clark, who was inside when banner landed on her home. "When I looked out the front gate I thought it was pouring rain because it kind of made it look that way. And it sounded like a windstorm, or maybe rain, but I knew it wasn't raining."

When Clark looked out her back door that's when she saw the massive sign.

"I saw a gigantic piece of fabric over the gazebo and I was thinking it's a parachute or hot air balloon," Clark says. 

Ameer Hassan was driving on Interstate 880 just a few miles away when he saw the sign fall.

"I saw the banner flying sideways and I've never seen anything like that before," Hassan says. "I didn't know if it was heavy enough to destroy anything."

The pilot of the plane says he was trying out a new rope that failed to hold the sign. The FAA is investigating the incident.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Liquor Store Robbery Suspect Appears in Court]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 21:10:56 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Kevin+Whittingham+1200.jpg

A Bristol man accused of robbing and brutally attacking a 50-year-old man at a liquor store on Tuesday night was arraigned in Bristol Superior Court on Wednesday.

Police arrested Kevin Whittingham, 22, of Bristol, in connection to the crime and a judge increased his bond to $75,000.

The victim, Kevin Masciotra, had asked two men who were being rowdy to quiet down at K&S Liquors on Park Street, according to police. The men started arguing with him and followed him to his car when he left the store. 

Masciotra was getting into his car, one of the men closed the door on his arm. The men then punched him and he fell to the ground, hitting his head and losing consciousness, police said.

When he regained consciousness, he was covered in blood and his wallet was missing, according to police. 

"They hit him with something. It must have been a bottle or a crowbar," said Masciotra's daughter, Alyssa. "The whole left side of his face was puffy. He was bleeding."

She rushed to the scene after Kevin Masciotra called and told her he had been attacked.

Police said Kevin Masciotra had broken facial bones. He was taken Bristol Hospital and transferred to Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford.

Alyssa Masciotra said her father is still in the hospital and will need surgery.

As police were conducting an unrelated investigation on Laurel Street, they recognized one of the suspects from the victim’s description and arrested Whittingham. They're still looking for his accomplice.

He told police that he knows the the store owner and was there with another friend when Masciotra entered the store and was being rude.

He said he told Masciotra to stop acting that way, bought a bottle of alcohol and left the store, but his friend stayed behind.

Whittingham denied hitting Masciotra at the liquor store or taking his belongings, according to police.

He told police he found the credit cards on the ground at Park and Divinity streets, picked them up and kept walking until officers stopped him, police said. The credit cards police found on Whittingham belonged to the victim and his mother.

Whititngham was charged with second-degree robbery, second-degree larceny, third-degree assault and conspiracy to commit on all three of the charges.

He's due back in court Aug. 28.

Police are investigating and ask anyone with information to call the Bristol Police Department at 860-584-3011.

Photo Credit: Bristol Police]]>
<![CDATA['I Saw Christmas in July ... and I Was Santa' ]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 21:28:57 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/New-Ford-Truck-092613.jpg

When Ford Motor Company heard how a Manchester landscaper made a teenager with Down's syndrome smile with a simple ride in his Ford truck, a representative from Ford headquarters in Michigan wrote to him that the story sounded like something out of a country song "that makes you cry for all the right reasons."

So when Tom Topping, 54, responded that he was a "Toby Keith kind of guy," Ford offered Topping, the boy, Kevin Fellows, 15, and his family tickets to see Toby Keith perform  at Xfinity Theatre in Hartford this weekend. Ray Seraphin Ford in Rockville Connecticut, where Topping got his 2012 Ford F-250, is also detailing his truck for free after learning of the story.

The recognition is heartwarming, but ask Topping about his act of kindness and he'll tell you that his gesture wasn't much. For the Manchester Green Lawn Services owner, the special part of the story is really about Kevin and his moment in the truck, the "Big Red Monster," that made it feel like "Christmas in July."

"I gave a kid a ride in a truck and you're supposed to make kids smile," he said.

Kevin, a Coventry High School student, loves playing with trucks, cars and trains, often riding with his grandfather on his tractor in the past.

"He was very excited," said his grandmother, Gail Zanlungo, who has taken care of him often over the past 13 years. "He loves anything like a tractor that moves."

It all started when Topping was at Zanlungo's house in Manchester mowing her lawn on July 10. Zanlungo was Topping's first customer when he opened a year ago after a career in sales and he had never met her grandson, Kevin before. Kevin was visiting, going from window to window to watch Topping mow. He brought a lawn chair outside to sit and watch Topping continue in the backyard, a part of the house without windows.

Topping waved to him and Kevin followed him to his Ford work truck when he was done. Topping let him press the button that activated the winch to load his mower into the truck. Kevin jumped up and down, Topping said. Though limited verbally, Kevin communicated with Topping through eye contact and body language. 

As Topping was getting ready to go home for the day, Kevin opened the passenger door, hopped in and buckled the seat belt. Zanlungo and Kevin's sister, Hannah, 12, were outside at that point and told him to get out of the car, but Topping got the hint.

"Let's take a ride," he told Kevin and with Zanlungo's permission he too Kevin and Hannah on a ride down Porter Street.

 The ride only lasted four minutes, but Topping said it was one of the highlights of his life, making him feel "blessed" and "lucky."

"As I slowed for the stop sign, he grabbed my arm and hugged me, then laid his head against my arm. He looked up just as I looked down, and when our eyes met I saw Christmas in July. ... and I was Santa," Topping posted on Facebook, tagging Ford's Facebook page. "That, my friends, is a great day."

Ford liked the story and shared, telling people to "read on if you want a smile today."

Zanlungo said that Ford's reaction to the story is a testament to Kevin's personality.

"He's such a wonderful little boy to everyone that he meets and I think that is a reflection of his upbringing," Zanlungo said.

Topping said on Facebook that Kevin's smile changed his world and that he and Hannah will be riding with him in the "Big Red Monster" to the the Toby Keith concert thanks to Ford. Kevin's grandmother, mother, Jill, and cousin, Olivia are also going. Kevin and Hannah will ride with him in his red Ford truck. Topping said the gift is also a birthday celebration of sorts for him, as he turns 55 on July 29. Kevin enjoys listening to country music in his mom's jeep and his sister, Hannah is a Taylor Swift fan.

"Thank you Ford Motor Company, for showing that "Built Ford Tough" is only on the outside and you have a warm spot in your heart," Topping wrote on Facebook.

But the greatest gift to Topping is to do something special for Kevin and his family, who have "adopted" him into their lives. As someone without kids or nieces and nephews, the former U.S. Marine survival trainer appreciates how Kevin and Hannah have quickly filled that void. Hannah invited him to her birthday party on Sunday, so he gave Kevin another ride.

Zanlungo is thankful to Topping and said that his generosity made this all possible.

Xfinity Theatre is affiliated with Comcast, which owns NBC Universal, the parent company of NBC Connecticut. Ford F-Series trucks are a sponsor of Keith's tour.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Swatting Case Could Be Connected to Minecraft]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 18:07:17 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Thomas+Drive+Hamden+Connecticut1200.jpg

A reported shooting in Hamden on Tuesday turned out to be another case of swatting and the homeowner thinks it might be retribution from someone who did not get access to his son’s Minecraft-online gaming server.

Police Chief Thomas Wydra said they received a report that someone had been shot on Thomas Street and the shooter might be turning the gun on him or herself.

Police responded and forced their way into the home.

A teenage boy, his brother and another boy were in the house at the time, said Scott Butler, the homeowner. Police said the children were 9, 10 and 14 years old.

Authorities couldn't locate a shooter and quickly realized that there had been no violence.

Butler, the father of the teen and one of the boys, said he learned about what had happened when he received a call from Hamden police on his cellphone.

They did not provide much information, Butler said, and he could not reach his teenage son by phone, so he raced home.

Butler said the family has received threats before, including the threat of a pizza delivery, and the someone had the family's Internet service for a day.  However, he never thought things would get to this level.

Police said the emergency call was a hoax. Authorities are investigating and detectives from the computer crimes unit will be working to determine who is responsible for the calls. 

<![CDATA[Firefighter Shows Up Drunk at Stranger's Apartment: Police]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 09:38:39 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/hartford+fire+lamont+freeman.jpg

A Connecticut firefighter showed up drunk at a multi-family apartment in Hartford while he was off duty Tuesday afternoon, police said.

The resident told police she didn’t recognize Lamont Freeman, 44, when he entered her apartment at 160 Barbour Street at about 2:30 p.m. She explained that he was in the wrong apartment, but Freeman refused to leave, so the resident pushed him out the door and locked it, police said.

According to the incident report, the woman told police Freeman was calling out a name she didn't recognize. Police said Freeman banged on the door and tried to get back in until officers arrived and detained him.

Freeman does not live in the apartment and was not visiting anyone he knows, police said. He was arrested and charged with breach of peace and second-degree trespassing.

The website for the city of Hartford lists Freeman as working out of Firehouse 7 on Clark Street, just around the corner from the location of the incident.

Bond was set at $100 and Freeman was released on a promise to appear in court Thursday.

The Hartford Fire Department declined to comment on Freeman's employment status.

Freeman's son also declined to comment when NBC Connecticut knocked on the door of the firefighter's Enfield apartment Tuesday evening.

Freeman is the second Hartford firefighter to be arrested in recent months.

Doug Caldwell is accused of threatening a convenience store employee and punching the store countertop in March. Police said Caldwell had also been drinking beforehand.

The Hartford Fire Department placed Caldwell on paid administrative leave and launched an internal investigation into the incident.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com/Hartford Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[CL&P, UI Score in the Bottom of Nationwide Customer Service Survey]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 11:37:23 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/power_lines_generic.jpg

Thousands were in the dark for days after storms like Hurricane Sandy and the October Nor'Easter in 2011.

The power companies took a lot of flak for them and now years later those companies have gotten another bad review

In the latest J-D Power and Associates rankings both Connecticut Light and Power and United Illuminating scored near the bottom in terms of customer satisfaction. But most customers NBC Connecticut spoke with have different views

"There was like a tree at least that bigger that came down," said Barry Flynn who is referring to a tree that is no longer there because it was wiped away by Sandy. "When it came down, it took down the wires and the pole."

Yet Flynn says he was pleased with UI's performance after the storm tore through Cora Street in Morris Cove--one he's called home for the last 30 years.

"There was so much going on and then we lost power for 4, 5, 6 days or something," Flynn added. "It was quite reasonable."

Yet Flynn is in the minority according to JD Power & Associates who rank CL&P and U-I near the bottom for residential customer satisfaction in their latest survey

"I've never had any issues with UI," said Dave Julian of Milford. "Actually I've found them to be a bit cheaper. We moved here from Southington."

Julian is a former CL&P customer, which JD Power ranks 13 out of 17 large utilities in the east region. Despite the news the power company says that's a 30 point improvement over last year.

"We had the hurricane, we had the snowstorm, we had all kinds of things out here," said Ed Dinse of Guilford.

U-I ranked 13 out of 15 mid-sized utilities in the east region. A company spokesperson says the state has struggled with things the survey looked at like price, rates and bills since deregulation in 2000

"UI is more competitive," Julian added. "They're very easy to work with, pay everything online, haven't had any issues with them."

Like others in Milford he was out power for five days when Sandy came through. Customers insist though U-I did what they could

"Given the magnitude of everything they had to deal with, I felt very pleased with the kind of service we got," Flynn added.

The results were also based on customer service and price

Both CL&P and U-I say they're doing what they can to improve service.

Photo Credit: clipart.com]]>