<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Top Stories]]>Copyright 2018https://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut https://www.nbcconnecticut.comen-usTue, 22 May 2018 21:14:54 -0400Tue, 22 May 2018 21:14:54 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Man Charged in Fatal New Britain Hit-and-Run]]> Tue, 22 May 2018 19:05:14 -0400 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Jonathan-Rafael-Soto.jpg

A New Britain man faces charges after a fatal hit-and-run crash over the weekend.

Police arrested 22-year-old Jonathan Rafael Soto Tuesday. Police allege that Soto was the driver of a vehicle that struck 64-year-old Angel Colon on Allen Street Saturday afternoon.

Colon suffered serious injuries and was transported to the hospital, where he later died.

Soto turned himself into police headquarters when he learned of the warrant for his arrest, police said. Soto is charged with negligent homicide with a motor vehicle, evading responsibility in operating of motor vehicle resulting in death, and illegal operation of a motor vehicle with minimal insurance.

He was held on a $500,000 bond and is due in court on Wednesday.

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information should contact Sgt. Steven King of the New Britain Police Traffic Unit at 860-826-3071.

Photo Credit: New Britain Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[12 Homes in Newtown Condemned Due to Storm Damage]]> Tue, 22 May 2018 17:58:48 -0400 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Tree_Services_at_Work_in_Newtown.jpg

A dozen homes in Newtown have been condemned due to damage from last week’s storms, according to the first selectman.

First Selectman Daniel Rosenthal confirmed that 10 homes in the Lakeview Terrace area were condemned, and another two in the Lake Zoar area. Some of them may be reconstructed, Rosenthal said.

Newtown was one of several hard-hit towns after tornadoes and powerful downbursts hit the state last week. Thousands of people were without power for days. Eversource estimated that across the state the storm brought down more than 1,900 poles and 300 miles worth of power lines.

In the first days after the storm, tree removal companies were working non-stop.

“Pretty hectic. It’s been – I don’t know how to describe it really. I’ve seen this stuff before, storm damage, but not to this magnitude,” said Rob McCulloch of Newtown Arbor Services in an interview with NBC Connecticut last week.

A week later, there is still much cleanup left in Newtown. As of noon Tuesday, less than 1 percent of town was left without power, but Eversource crews remained in town working to fully restore power and to clean up fluid leaks from transformers damaged in the storm.

Various town facilities have been opened for residents to charge electronics or access water. The transfer station has been open and available for free brush disposal, and dumpsters were made available for residents to throw out spoiled food.

For a full list of resources, visit the Newtown town website here. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[New London Preps for Coast Guard Academy Graduation]]> Tue, 22 May 2018 19:40:50 -0400 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/COAST-GUARD-ACADEMY-PREPS.jpg

Thousands of people are expected to fill Cadet Memorial Field at the Coast Guard Academy Wednesday for the 137th Annual Commencement Ceremony.

During the ceremonies, 209 cadets will graduate and Vice President Mike Pence is set tapped to make the keynote speech.

All New London Police Department staff is working Wednesday. Officers use the same plans every year they run a large event at the Coast Guard Academy, according to Chief Peter Reichard. But this year there will be less mutual aid.

“We haven’t had the number of reports of protesters coming in as they were last year like we did when President Trump was in town,” Reichard said.

Police have been conducting their own intelligence online. There have been no permits for protest, according to Reichard. Signs on posts and masks are not allowed. Peaceful protests are.

City of New London staff has spent the last couple of days posting about 80 “no parking” signs on roads near the academy. Restrictions are in effect on River Ridge Road, Deshon Street, Nameaug Avenue, Oneco Avenue, Farnsworth Street, Winchester Road and Uncas Avenue beginning at 5 a.m. on May 23.

Riverside Park is also closed to the public.

Town of Groton Police are shutting down Tower Avenue, High Rock Road, and Poquonnock Road west of Trails Corner.

Officers are providing protection with the transport of Vice President Pence from the Groton-New London Airport and back.

City of Groton Police will assist with street closures and traffic while the Vice President is in transit. Waterford Police will provide a water patrol. State police will assist with the escort.

Agent Peter Quinn with the U.S. Secret Service said I-95 will be closed to traffic when the vice president is on the road. While the closures do not have a set time, he said they will last approximately 10 minutes each.

The New London Police Department is constantly in contact with the Secret Service throughout the year but when there is a dignitary visit involved, the number of meetings amplify, according to Reichard.

“Whenever someone of that caliber comes to the base, we work with the White House staff or whoever their staff of choice is, and they will come through and make sure all the extra security they need is set in place. That can include anything from having dogs run across the base, to having them here as well, to utilizing our own staff and using our own procedures,” said LTJG Alexis Davis, a public affairs officer with the Coast Guard Academy.

The campus was bustling with last-minute preparations Tuesday from wiring the sound system to hanging an American flag to making sure final plans with White House Staff are set.

“Any time we have a graduation it involves a lot of planning and a lot of different organizations. We are working with White House staff and local police departments to ensure safety of everyone that’s going to be coming on board,” said PA3 Nicole Foguth, a public affairs specialist for the Coast Guard Academy.

Along with security, there will be cooling stations where guests can get water an escape the sun.

“What college student could tell you that the Vice President is speaking at my graduation? That is awesome,” said Cadet Panashe Mutombo, of Bel Air, Maryland.

Mutombo’s graduating Wednesday and is the first person in his family to graduate from college. He has more than a dozen relatives in town for the ceremony, including some from South Africa.

“I can’t believe after four, five, years actually, that I’m finally able to live my dream come true of being an officer in the military,” Mutombo said. He said he’s always dreamed of helping people and exploring the world. The Coast Guard was able to help him live out that goal.

With 3,000 people expected to attend the graduation, there’s spillover to nearby businesses. Mutombo’s family planned ahead by renting a house more than a year out.

People did the same when it came to booking rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn in Groton, which sold out Tuesday night, according to Director of Sales & Marketing Jocelyn Hawley.

Restaurants, like Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock in New London have also seen an increased crowd.

“We’ve been busy with graduations both from the Coast Guard Academy, Connecticut College and Mitchell College,” said owner Susan Tierney. “So we’ve had a busy couple of weeks even with the (rainy) weather.”

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Sinkhole Opens on White House Lawn, Spawns Twitter Memes]]> Tue, 22 May 2018 20:51:31 -0400 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/052218+north+side+of+white+house.jpg

A sinkhole has opened up on the White House grounds and is "growing larger by the day," according to reporters who first spotted the sunken turf.

The sinkhole was found Sunday on the North Lawn of the White House, near the entrance to the press briefing room, a National Park Service spokeswoman said Tuesday evening.

Photos from reporters who first spotted the sinkhole show that it's no more than a few feet wide. But White House reporter Steve Herman, of Voice of America, tweeted that it had grown since he first spotted it over the weekend, and another sinkhole has opened next to it. 

Sinkholes are common in the D.C. area after heavy rain, as the area has had in the past week, NPS spokeswoman Jenny Anzelmo-Sarles said. The National Park Service, which oversees the White House grounds, said it is monitoring the sinkhole and evaluating how to respond.

"We do not believe it poses any risk to the White House or is representative of a larger problem," Anzelmo-Sarles said.

Known to swallow cars and homes, sinkholes are generally formed when water erodes the earth's surface layer.

One year ago, a sinkhole also opened up in front of President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Palm Beach officials said a water main caused that sinkhole.

The coincidence set social media alight with wisecracks about what the sinkhole means and by Tuesday afternoon the sinkhole had a parody Twitter account.

"Can neither confirm nor deny I am the hole dug from China #sinkhole #WhiteHouse #whitehousesinkhole," The White House Sinkhole wrote in a tweet.


Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Minn. Man Accused of Defrauding Customers in Conn.]]> Tue, 22 May 2018 20:44:32 -0400 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/Snow_Removal_Business_Owner_Arrested.jpg

A Minnesota man is accused of running a snow removal scam in nine states, including Connecticut.

In February 2018, three viewers contacted NBC Connecticut Responds about Snow Angels LLC. All three consumers said they pre-paid the company for snow removal services they didn’t receive. Then the company shut down without warning.

Snow Angels LLC is owned by Matthew Erickson, 31, of Cottage Grove, Minn.

Erickson is currently awaiting extradition to Wisconsin, where he is facing five counts of theft.

According to a criminal complaint filed by the Wisconsin Attorney General, Erickson solicited customers online for pre-paid snow removal services, which he did not provide. The AG’s Office said most of the alleged victims are over the age of 60.

During the course of the investigation in Wisconsin, authorities uncovered similar complaints against Erickson in Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, New York and Rhode Island.

Authorities estimate Erickson collected $58,000 from more than 100 victims.

Investigators told NBC Connecticut Responds they had identified 10 potential victims in Connecticut. We provided them with the names of two additional Snow Angels customers who reached out to us.

John Provini contracted with Snow Angels to clear snow from his parents’ home in Newington. He paid $478 for coverage from October 2017 through May 2018. Provini said the company showed up twice. Then in February, he received an email from Snow Angels stating the company was shutting down.

When NBC Connecticut Responds contacted Snow Angels at the time, we received the following response by email:

“Regrettably, our company does not have the financial ability to continue providing service this season. We have managed to make it half way through winter, providing service to our customers. If we were out to scam anyone, we would not have spent so much money obtaining leads, making sales, and providing service as far as we have already following three snow events. We have since worked hard to achieve the route density necessary to make ends meet. There are no remaining assets nor is there any future for the company.”

Provini filed a dispute through his credit card company and got his money back. But he knows others weren’t as lucky.

“There’s a lot of people like my parents out there, elderly that really got taken. They really need the money. I hope they get something back,” he said.

Law enforcement officials told NBC Connecticut they expect to file more charges.

Online court records do not list an attorney for Erickson.

<![CDATA[Bear Gets Stuck In Car in Canton and Destroys It]]> Tue, 22 May 2018 13:19:22 -0400 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Bear+in+car+in+Canton+1200.jpg

A woman in Canton, Connecticut, saw the lights of her car go off Friday night and soon realized the culprit was not a burglar. It was an adult bear and the amount of damage it did was astounding. 

Linda Morad said she was housesitting for a friend who was on vacation when she saw the lights of her car going off. 

“I had my phone on 911 and I came partially down toward the car, and I heard noise, so I hit the send button on the 911,” Morad said. 

She did not see the culprit through the tinted glass and told police what she heard. Officers showed up in minutes. 

“And from inside the house, I saw them open the door and let the bear out – a full-sized bear,” Morad said. 

Then, police warned her about the condition of her car. 

“They said, ‘You’re not going to believe what your car looks like.’ I thought, ‘Well, I’ll clean it tomorrow’” Morad said. 

Then she saw the damage. The dashboard, the leather seats, the trunk and the hatchback were all torn to pieces. 

“I don’t think this could be cleaned!” Morad said. 

The bear had somehow gotten in through the unlocked driver’s side door of the vehicle, according to Morad. 

“And the door closed behind him, and apparently he was frantic,” she said. 

So now, Morad is borrowing a car, locking the doors and waiting on the insurance adjuster. 

She said she does not blame the bear. 

“This is a fluke. It’s like getting struck by lightning or hitting the lottery. How many times would it ever happen?” Morad said. 

Bears are becoming more common in Connecticut as the population grows, according to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and they urge people to take some precautions to avoid attracting bears. That includes keeping garbage cans in the garage. See more tips here.  

In the past year, there have been nearly 6,900 bear sightings in Connecticut, including 201 in Canton. 

Photo Credit: Canton Police and NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[225-Foot Deep Tunnel Will Help Control Flooding in Hartford]]> Tue, 22 May 2018 18:38:41 -0400 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/MDC-TUNNEL.jpg

Just off Interstate 91 in Hartford is perhaps the biggest single infrastructure project in Connecticut.

“It’s probably one of the largest, if not the largest project going on in Connecticut right now, so it is very exciting for us,” said Susan Negrelli, the director of engineering for the Metropolitan District, the agency responsible for water treatment.

The construction project consists of two tunnels that each require 225-foot holes to be drilled into the ground. One of the holes is for a pump station, while the other is for the construction project itself that will eventually lead to a four-mile tunnel being bored through the South End of Hartford, ending in West Hartford near New Park Avenue.

The South End of Hartford, particularly near Franklin Avenue and Wethersfield Avenue have been prone to flooding for decades.

“This project will provide relief in the southern Hartford area,” Negrelli said. “We will completely eliminate the combined sewer overflows into Wethersfield Cove and in the South Hartford area and so, environmentally, that’s huge.”

The centerpiece of the 18-month long drilling project is the Tunnel Boring Machine, or TBM as it’s known.

The red face consists of dozens of black wheels that act as the teeth. They grind the bedrock down, which then mixes with water and chemicals for disposal, and that material is then routed to a conveyor belt where it will travel four miles.

The TBM will be able to drill more than 70 feet per day when it’s operational, however, geological factors will determine a day’s progress.

“If you’re in solid rock or maybe you’re going through a fault area, if you have groundwater coming in you’ll have to grout ahead so there are different conditions underground that will dictate how fast they can move,” Negrelli said.

This project is part of a seven-year process, but this phase is the most expensive at more than $250 million. The cost was picked up in part by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and the rest will be covered by MDC ratepayers.

Photo Credit: Metropolitan District]]>
<![CDATA[Responds Helps Bristol Non-Profit With Warranty Claim]]> Tue, 22 May 2018 19:31:47 -0400 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/William-Crandall-microwave-web-pic.jpg

The employees at New Horizon Living Centers in Bristol are dedicated to helping others. Recently, they found themselves in need of assistance.

Center Director Mark Crandall told NBC Connecticut he filed a warranty claim on the center’s broken microwave.

After four repair attempts, it still wasn’t working. So a technician submitted a request to the warranty company for a replacement.

But three months later, Crandall said the request was still pending approval. He reached out to NBC Connecticut Responds for help.

We explained the situation to the warranty company, and a representative said they would get everything straightened out.

A few days later, Crandall got the go-ahead to pick out a new microwave, with a $500 allowance. The company delivered and installed it free of charge.

Photo Credit: William Crandall]]>
<![CDATA[Putnam Man Disputes $900 Data Charge]]> Tue, 22 May 2018 19:27:39 -0400 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/DATA-CHARGE-DISPUTE.jpg

Mark Dieterle had sticker shock when he opened his March wireless statement.

Inside was a bill for $1,001.77. Dieterle said that’s ten times the amount he usually pays.

According to his statement, Dieterle went well over his monthly data allowance.

Dieterle had 349 MB to use that month but his wireless bill said he used 13,753 MB. The extra usage totaled $900.

Dieterle immediately questioned the charges. He told NBC Connecticut Responds the extra line for his tablet costs $10 a month. He added that the tablet is connected to his home WiFi and never leaves his nightstand.

Dieterle said the customer service agent he spoke with agreed. The agent told Dieterle he would submit a request for a $900 credit.

When Dieterle called back a few days later, a different agent told him a $450 credit was applied to Dieterle’s account. Dieterle said the agent could not explain why he did not receive the full credit.

That’s when Dieterle emailed Responds for help.

After our consumer team asked the company to investigate, Dieterle said he received a call from the wireless carrier, letting him know the remaining balance was wiped out.

Photo Credit: Mark Dieterle]]>
<![CDATA[Store Employee Stole More Than $4,400 in Lottery Tickets: PD]]> Tue, 22 May 2018 18:37:57 -0400 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Juliana-Perillo.jpg

A Wolcott gas station employee is accused of stealing thousands of dollars' worth of lottery tickets from her employer.

Wolcott police arrested Juliana Perillo on larceny charges Monday. Perillo, who worked at Petro Pat’s, faked numbers on a store log sheet to make it appear as though customers had returned lottery tickets for a refund. She then used the faked refund money to buy tickets, according to police.

Perillo stole more than $4,400-worth of tickets in one month, police said. Authorities believe the scheme went on for 10 months.

Perillo was charged with first-degree larceny. She was released on a promise to appear and is next scheduled to appear in court on July 2.

Photo Credit: Wolcott Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Meriden Woman Used 12-Year-Old Son to Shoplift: Police]]> Tue, 22 May 2018 16:55:42 -0400 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Erica-Maisonet.jpg

A Meriden woman is accused of using her 12-year-old son to help her shoplift from a local grocery store.

Meriden police said Erica Maisonet shoplifted from Stop & Shop Saturday by putting items into a bag that her 12-year-old son was holding. She attempted to shoplift $700-worth of merchandise, police said.

Maisonet was stopped when the store alarm went off as they were exiting the store. She was arrested and charged with larceny and risk of injury to a minor.

Photo Credit: Meriden Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Accounts Linked to Lawyer in Viral Rant Posts Apology: 'I'm Not Racist']]> Tue, 22 May 2018 15:55:42 -0400 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/aaron+schlossberg+2.jpg

A full paragraph apology has been posted to Twitter and LinkedIn accounts linked to the Manhattan lawyer whose racist rant in a midtown cafe became viral international fodder last week, though it couldn't immediately be verified if he was the one who posted the messages.

The statement, which began simply, "To the people I insulted, I apologize," landed on @ASchlossbergLaw's Twitter feed at 12:01 p.m. Tuesday. The same statement was also posted to his LinkedIn page at that time. 

The lawyer, Aaron Schlossberg, has been excoriated in the court of public opinion since a cafe patron captured video of him threatening to call immigration enforcement on workers when he heard them speaking in Spanish.

The statement said the online backlash has "opened my eyes -- the manner in which I expressed myself is unacceptable and is not the person I am. I see my words and actions hurt people, and for that I am deeply sorry."

"While people should be able to express themselves freely, they should do so calmly and respectfully," the statement continued. "What the video did not convey is the real me. I am not racist." 

The Twitter account is not verified, but does show a history of posts about Schlossberg's legal work, many of which link directly to his LinkedIn page, where the apology was listed at the top of "Aaron's Articles & Activity." 

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Schlossberg's rant was recorded last Tuesday at sandwich shop Fresh Kitchen on Madison Avenue between 39th and 40th. Emily Serrano said she was speaking with her server — who speaks both Spanish and English — in Spanish, when she heard a man yelling next to her. 

"He's screaming at the guy serving him, 'Give me my f------ sandwich, you shouldn't be speaking Spanish, I feel disrespected, go back to your country,'" Serrano said. NBC 4 cannot independently verify what happened before or after the video Serrano shot. 

"Your staff are speaking Spanish to customers when they should be speaking English... every person I listen to... this is America!" he says in the video.

Schlossberg was kicked out of his midtown office as backlash brewed -- and he even tried to flee the controversy on foot, running from an NBC News reporter who confronted him near his apartment building on the street last week. The reporter asked him at the time if he wanted to apologize; he said nothing. 

Schlossberg's rant, caught on video by a fellow customer, had more than 5 million views online in two days, and fallout for the lawyer hasn't stopped.

The midtown building where Schlossberg had a part-time office evicted him, citing his "offensive" comments. Congressman Adriano Espaillat and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. have sent a letter to the disciplinary committee that oversees lawyers in New York state to file a formal complaint against Schlossberg. 

There's also a Change.org petition to have him disbarred, an action the discipline committee of the New York State Unified Court System will not likely take. According to Jessica A. Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School and president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission, Schlossberg can't be stripped of his license to practice law in New York for the disparaging remarks because he did not invoke his law firm in order to intimidate the employees and did not engage in racism within his practice. His diatribe alone, though, likely does not violate ethics rules, Levinson noted. 

Fury against Schlossberg manifested online in classically snarky ways, too: his law office was inundated with one-star reviews on Yelp, forcing the site to suspend reviews for the business; a Google listing for his business briefly turned up a sly one-line description reading "Spanish restaurant"; and a GoFundMe page was set up to send a mariachi band to Schlossberg's office ("We are requesting the band to sing the famous, endearing and warm Spanish children's song La Cucaracha," declared the organizer of the fundraiser, called Mariachis for Aaron; it raised $1,000 of its $500 goal in less than a day). 

Schlossberg appears to have a documented history of xenophobic and racist behavior. At a May 2017 protest of Linda Sarsour -- an American Muslim political activist who was speaking at a CUNY graduation ceremony -- Schlossberg can be heard screaming "Fake Jews" and "You are not a Jew" at counterprotesters who were Haredi Jews, according to witness Isaac Saul. 

In October 2016, New York City tech consultant and video blogger Willie Morris posted a YouTube video recounting a disturbing run-in with Schlossberg. Morris said Schlossberg, a complete stranger, beelined straight into him on the sidewalk and started yelling at him: "What country are you from? I'm going to call the police. You don't run into me. I'm a citizen here, you're not. You're an ugly f-----g foreigner. F--- you." 

Another video from a Latinos for Trump rally in New York City -- of which the date is unclear -- shows Schlossberg taunting counterprotesters. And VICE News obtained video showing him outside Trump Tower wearing a MAGA hat and unleashing profanities at people protesting Trump.

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<![CDATA[State Issues Tips to Avoid Falling for ‘Storm Chasers’ or Scammers]]> Tue, 22 May 2018 10:07:42 -0400 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Connecticut_Battles_to_Clean_Up_After_Storm.jpg

The state is warning residents whose homes sustained tornado or storm damage last week to be vigilant and not fall victim to scammers. 

The Department of Consumer Protection is warning residents that some scammers or “storm chasers” target families after weather emergencies because they know they need repairs done quickly. 

“Whenever there’s a bad storm, we always hope that everyone’s circumstances improve when the weather does, but that’s not always true,” Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle H. Seagull said in a statement. “Some contractors take advantage of a situation that’s already stressful for families by offering to do home repairs at low cost, and not following through. Consumers should always do their research before deciding who should do repairs on their home. If a contractor asks you to decide immediately in order to get a cheaper price, or asks you to pay in cash – it’s most likely a scam.” 


If you need repairs done as a result of the storm, make sure to:

  • Shop Around: Always get more than one price quote for work you need done. 
  • Ask Questions: If there’s anything you need clarified, or something in your contract that you don’t understand, always ask about it before you finalize your agreement. 
  • Have a Contract: Home improvement contractors are required to have a written contract with you. 
  • Understand Your Payments: Make sure you have a payment plan included in your contract, and never pay in full up front. 
  • Verify Registration: All home improvement contractors are required to be registered with DCP. You can verify their registration at www.elicense.ct.gov
  • Don’t Fall for Scams: Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Never give in to pressure tactics, forego a contract, pay in cash, or pay in full up front. 

The DCP urges residents who think they have fallen victim to a scam to first reach out to the contractor to try and resolve the situation. If that does not work, file a complaint with DCP by emailing dcp.complaints@ct.gov with detailed information regarding the problem. 


Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Bus Driver, 77, in Deadly Crash Had 14 License Suspensions]]> Tue, 22 May 2018 18:11:20 -0400 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/NJ+Bus+Accident+5+USE+THIS.png

The 77-year-old school bus driver from the deadly May 17 highway crash in New Jersey had a lengthy history of license suspensions and moving violations, a spokeswoman for the Motor Vehicle Commission told News 4.

Investigators are still probing the cause of the crash, which killed a 10-year-old student and a teacher after the full-size school bus collided with a dump truck on Route 80 near exit 25 in Mount Olive Township. Video from a Department of Transportation camera shows the school bus filled with fifth-graders making a sudden U-turn in a median, sources have told News 4.

The bus, which was carrying 38 students and seven adults from East Brook Middle School in Paramus, was heading to a class field trip to Waterloo Village, a historic site in Stanhope.

The driver, identified as Hudy Mulrow Sr. first got his license in 1975. He had a total of 14 license suspensions, eight speeding tickets, a careless driving ticket and a ticket for an improper turn in 2010, the MVC spokeswoman said Tuesday. 

Mulrow remains in the hospital and was unavailable for comment. 

The most recent suspension was from Dec. 20 of last year to Jan. 3 of this year for unpaid parking tickets. It was not clear if Paramus officials knew of that suspension; the district was not immediately available for comment. 

The driver had a commercial driver's license issued in 2012 and got the school bus endorsement on his commercial driver's license in 2013, the MVC said. 

The lawyer representing the family of 10-year-old Miranda Vargas, who was laid to rest Monday, sent a notice of tort claim to the Borough of Paramus and the Paramus school board Tuesday, indicating the family plans to sue. The lawyer is questioning whether the Paramus Board of Education did proper diligence in hiring a driver with his record. 

Funeral services for the teacher killed in the crash, Jennifer Williamson-Kennedy, will be held Thursday morning. 

Photo Credit: Christopher Thiele]]>
<![CDATA[Frontier Says Software Update Interrupted Service in Connecticut]]> Tue, 22 May 2018 13:43:56 -0400 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/215*120/frontier.jpg

Frontier says service in Connecticut has been restored after a software update interrupted service Tuesday morning. 

“Frontier apologizes for the service interruption our Connecticut customers experienced early Tuesday morning. Overnight, a software update was installed in our network that interrupted internet service,” a statement from Frontier says. “We have corrected the issue with the update. Service is now restored. Customers should not have to reboot their modems.” 

The company said that any customer who might still be having a problem should contact Frontier for additional help.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[WH Under Fire for Coin With 'Supreme Leader' Kim Jong Un]]> Tue, 22 May 2018 13:17:17 -0400 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/trump-un-coin.jpg

The White House is under criticism for issuing a coin commemorating the planned meeting between President Donald Trump and the North Korea leader, Kim Jong Un, just as the meeting seems in doubt with even Trump suggesting it might be delayed.

North Korea has threatened to walk away from the June 12 meeting in Singapore over fears that it will be forced to give up its nuclear arsenal without receiving significant concessions in return.

Last week it canceled high-level talks with South Korea amid military exercises involving the United States, a surprise move that came just hours before the talks were to take place. North Korea claimed the joint exercises were a rehearsal for an invasion.

Trump told reporters Tuesday that the summit might not take place on schedule.

“You never really know,” he said. “It may not work out for June 12.”

Trump was meeting with South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, on Tuesday to discuss the upcoming summit. A national security adviser to Moon had earlier downplayed suggestions that Trump had become nervous about meeting with Kim and said the summit was “99.9 percent done deal,” The New York Times reported Tuesday. 

Meanwhile the U.S. Senate minority leader, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, chided the White House over including Kim’s face on the coin.

“I urge the White House to take Kim off the coin,” the New York Democrat tweeted. “Challenge coins are a time honored tradition and certainly appropriate in this situation, but Kim Jong Un’s face has no place on this coin. He is a brutal dictator and something like the Peace House would be much more appropriate.”

The coins, dated 2018, show profiles of Trump and "Supreme Leader" Kim facing each other, with the two leaders' names, their countries and the words, “Peace Talks.”

The Peace House, which is within the demilitarized zone on the border between the two Koreas, is where Trump originally suggested he meet Kim.

The White House’s principal deputy press secretary, Raj Shah, responded that since 2003, members of the White House Communications Agency have ordered a limited number of commercially designed and manufactured souvenir travel coins for purchase.

“These coins are designed, manufactured and made by an American coin manufacturer,” Shah said in his statement. “These souvenir coins are only ordered after a trip has been publicly announced. The White House did not have any input into the design and manufacture of the coin.”

The White House Communications Agency is a military unit that provides communications support for the president and his staff.

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<![CDATA[Law Enforcement Activity Underway at Bridgeport Health Care Center]]> Tue, 22 May 2018 14:19:17 -0400 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Bridgeport+Health+Care+Center.JPG

There is law enforcement activity at Bridgeport Health Care Center in Bridgeport. 

A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice said no arrests are expected today. 

No additional information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Glimpse Into Hebridean Sky Cruise Ship That Docked in New London]]> Tue, 22 May 2018 08:32:43 -0400 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/160*120/Hebridean+Sky+3.jpg

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Man in Custody After 14-Hour Standoff in Southbury]]> Tue, 22 May 2018 10:43:15 -0400 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Joseph+Michael+Stotz+Connecticut+State+Police+mug+shot.jpg

A Southbury man was taken into police custody after a 14-hour standoff Monday, according to Connecticut State Police.

Troopers responded to a home on Purchase Brook Road around 2 a.m. for a report of a domestic violence incident and made contact with a man in the home who refused to come out, according to state police.

Police took 38-year-old Joseph Michael Stotz, of Southbury, into custody around 4:05 p.m. and he was transported to Waterbury Hospital to be evaluated.

Police said Stotz hit one of the arresting troopers, but no injury was reported. 

He was released and charged with assault on a police officer, interfering with a police officer and disorderly conduct.

Several roads in the area were closed while troopers tried to resolve the situation. State police said troopers seized several guns from the home. 

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police]]>
<![CDATA[3 State Parks Remain Closed Because of Storm Damage]]> Tue, 22 May 2018 09:56:11 -0400 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Sleeoing+Giant+State+Park+Hamden+damage.jpg

Three state parks remain closed almost a week after powerful storms, including tornadoes, came through Connecticut and caused extensive damage.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is warning people not to try and visit any of the closed parks.

The following state parks are closed:

  • Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden
  • Kettletown State Park in Southbury
  • Wharton Brook State Park in Wallingford

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said they are assessing when they can open Kettletown, and will provide an update Tuesday.

Crews worked through the weekend and into Monday to clear up Kettletown which was hit by a downburst.

“DEEP staff is really focused on getting that park reopened and ready for the camping season," said DEEP spokesperson Chris Collibee.

All the camping sites are sold out for the upcoming weekend.

Sleeping Giant and Wharton Brook will remain closed through the Memorial Day weekend. 

DEEP Environmental Conservation police are doing extra patrols to enforce closures.

Squantz Pond State Park in New Fairfield, which was also closed for days, reopened Monday, according to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Chatfield Hollow was closed after the storm, but reopened Friday morning.

DEEP told NBC Connecticut that it is too early to estimate how much all the cleanup will cost.

For a full list of Connecticut State Parks, click here.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Connecticut Man Killed in Vermont Plane Crash]]> Mon, 21 May 2018 22:32:33 -0400 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/BALD-MOUNTAIN.jpg

A Manchester, Conn. man was killed in a plane crash in Vermont Sunday, according to Vermont State Police.

According to Vermont State Police, 31-year-old Ramsey Sampson Ah-Nee was the pilot and only occupant in a 1975 Piper PA-34-200T that crashed in Woodford, Vt. Sunday evening.

Police said the Federal Aviation Administration contacted them regarding a lost aircraft in the area of Bald Mountain in Woodford just before 6 p.m. Sunday. The FAA was tracking the plane and lost it on radar.

Search and rescue teams began searching the area of the last known coordinates and located the aircraft in the woods around 1 a.m. The pilot was found deceased on scene, police said.

The plane was scheduled to fly from Burlington, Vt. to Oxford, Conn. Police said Ah-Nee was an experienced pilot with more than five years of experience.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.

<![CDATA[PHOTOS: Bear Gets Stuck in Car in Canton and Destroys It]]> Tue, 22 May 2018 13:17:34 -0400 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/160*120/Bear+in+Canton.jpg

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Law Aims to Ban Mile-Long Fishing Nets that Kill Sea Life]]> Tue, 22 May 2018 19:21:33 -0400 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/154.png

New legislation aims to phase out mile-long fishing nets off the California coast that have entangled and killed sea life, including endangered species, by the thousands over the past few decades. The gear, known as drift gillnets, are mainly used to catch swordfish but often net far more than what fisherman are actually targeting, according to an analysis by the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit. While tougher restrictions and new regulations are credited for reducing the number of marine mammals unintentionally caught in the nets, state and federal lawmakers insist the impact to the environment is still detrimental.

‘It’s Strangling Them’

“They’re wound up tight in this net and it's strangling them,” said one man who spent nearly 30 days at sea on three different drift gillnet fishing trips in December 2016, September 2017 and December 2017. He spoke to the Investigative Unit about what he observed on the condition he remain anonymous. 

Sea animals “were drowning to death in these nets,” he said. “That's why these nets have to be banned for good — it's the only way to protect sea mammals in the ocean.”

He shot over 100 hours of video while on board two different boats off the California coast. He told the Investigative Unit he managed to get permission from crews to be on board. However, what they didn’t realize is that the he is an undercover cameraman working for animal rights groups.

“The crews and captains were so casual in telling me how many dead sea mammals would come up in the nets,” he said. “Part of what's at stake is our dignity — do we want to kill intelligent mammals that share the ocean and increase its biodiversity so that we can have swordfish on their plate?”

Animal Advocacy Groups Release Undercover and Underwater Videos

His undercover videos, as well as underwater clips showing marine life entangled in the nets, were recently released by a coalition of animal advocacy groups in an effort to get the nets banned. Those groups include Mercy for Animals, Sharkwater, Sea Legacy and the Turtle Island Restoration Network.

“It’s extraordinarily damaging, deadly, inhumane gear,” said Sen. Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, who proposed state legislation to phase out drift gillnets. “California is a global environmental leader … I can't quite believe that we haven't closed this loop yet.”

Allen’s plan would offer to buy back permits from fisherman. Those who chose not participate, however, would be subject to more expensive permit fees each year. The current price of $330 would increase to $3,000 by April 1, 2020.

“The damage caused by this equipment is so high that if there are a couple of people who lose their job, you know, I think that that is a cost worth paying,” he said. “We're hopeful that this will be a very humane way of transitioning them out, moving them toward other types of fishing that are much less damaging.”

Allen said: “How much are we going to allow this really small group of fishermen with this one particular type of gear to cause this amount of damage off of our coast when there are other alternatives … that can still get good fish on people's plates but do so in a much less damaging way.”

Bipartisan federal legislation has also been introduced to ban drift gillnets by 2020. Senators Dianne Feinstein, D-California; Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia; and Kamala Harris, D-California, authored the Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act, which tasks NOAA to develop a program to help fisherman transition to more environmentally friendly alternatives.

Mile-Long Fishing Nets Face ‘Great Deal of Scrutiny’

Drift gillnets can stretch up to a mile long, or roughly the entire span of the Golden Gate Bridge. The gear is typically 100 feet tall and must remain attached to a boat, and can only be dropped into the ocean from about sunset to sunrise. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration regulates the use of drift gillnets.

“Clearly this fishery has long been subject to a great deal of scrutiny,” said Michael Milstein, a NOAA spokesperson who provided a statement to the Investigative Unit.

“We understand this fishery and its impacts well,” said Milstein, who points to decades of data collected by NOAA. 

Since 1990, the agency has randomly placed government employees aboard fishing vessels to document how often marine mammals, sea turtles, seabirds and fish are caught and killed in drift gillnets. The Investigative Unit obtained and analyzed those records — nearly three decades worth — and discovered fisherman only kept about 23 percent of what their drift gillnets caught over the past 28 years. The rest was tossed back into the ocean — either alive, injured, or dead. The Investigative Unit first began reporting on the impact of drift gillnets two years ago.

More Than 4,000 Dolphins Killed in Drift Gillnets

Observers board about 20 percent of all fishing trips that use the nets. So in order to determine the rate for entire fleet of boats using the nets, the federal government calculates estimated totals each year. Using those figures, the Investigative Unit calculated totals for specific species and found drift gillnets have killed 87,929 sharks, 4,135 dolphins and 1,218 sea lions over the past 28 years. The nets also killed an estimated 456 whales and 136 sea turtles, which include endangered and threatened species.

“We have worked with fishermen over the last few decades, and we have also added controls and restrictions to reduce unintended impacts on protected species such as dolphins and whales,” Milstein said.

Tougher Standards, New Regulations

Holes in the netting are now larger and must be at least 14 inches wide. Additionally, noise making devices have to be attached all along the net to scare away unintended victims such as dolphins and whales. Since the federal government started requiring those acoustic pingers in 1997, the number of entangled marine mammals has been cut in half, according to a government report. NOAA is also considering installing cameras on fishing boats to keep a closer watch on what is caught.

“The result is that the fishery is now much safer, although it is also much smaller in terms of the number of vessels than it used to be,” Milstein said. Nearly 30 years ago, 141 fisherman used drift gillnets. Today, only about 20 fisherman regularly rely on the gear.

Fisherman Fear Jobs on Chopping Block

Environmental groups are pushing for fisherman to a use an alternative type of gear known as deep set buoy gear, which uses buoys to drop fishing lines 1,000 feet below the surface in order to better target swordfish and avoid marine mammals that prefer warmer waters closer the surface. In contrast, drift gillnets are set just 36 feet below water.

“Everybody is going to lose their livelihoods,” said Gary Burke, a fisherman opposed to the phase-out legislation. He has used drift gillnets off the California coast since the practice began in the 1970s. 

“They’re pigeonholing [fisherman] in a corner with this bill – ‘take what little money we're offering you or we'll put you out of business through regulations and restrictions and economically force you to do things that will cost you so much you can't afford to go fishing,’” Burke said.

Burke says tougher standards and new regulations regarding drift gillnets have already lessened the impact on marine mammals. Over the past five years, the nets haven’t snagged a single sea turtle, according to government records. The nets, however, did entangle and kill 15 whales during that same time period. While the gear is also used to net certain types of sharks, half the sharks pulled aboard last weren’t the right catch so they were tossed back into the ocean, most of them already dead.

The drift gillnet fishery along the West Coast only accounts for less than one percent of the swordfish consumed across the country. About 76 percent of the nation’s swordfish is imported from other countries, according to NOAA, many of which use drift gillnets and have even fewer regulations than the United States. Burke believes banning the gear in the U.S. will undoubtedly lead to more imports of swordfish that have been caught using questionable practices abroad.

“You're going to get imports from countries that have zero regulations,” he said. “If we don't produce it, we're going to import it — that's just the way it is.”

Photo Credit: Howard Hall and Mercy for Animals
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<![CDATA[Most Docs Say Emergency Rooms Not Prepared for Disaster: Survey]]> Tue, 22 May 2018 11:48:50 -0400 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/emergency+waiting+room+composite.jpg

Ninety-three percent of doctors say their emergency departments are not fully prepared for a surge of patients in the event of a disaster, according to a new poll by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).

The poll released Tuesday also revealed that less than 50 percent of emergency physicians believed they were even somewhat prepared for an emergency that require drastically increased patient capacity, whether due to a natural disaster or man-made event like a mass shooting.

The study polled more than 1,300 emergency physicians from both urban and suburban hospitals from April 25 to May 6. The survey had a response rate of 18.6 percent and a 2.7 percent margin of error. 

Only six percent of respondents answered that their emergency departments were fully prepared and, on the other end of the spectrum, 17 percent said their departments were not at all prepared.

"Emergency physicians are concerned that our system cannot even meet daily demands, let alone during a medical surge for a natural or man-made disaster," said ACEP President Dr. Paul Kivela in a release.

In another striking finding, 90 percent of about 250 doctors polled said there was a shortage or absence of critical medication in their emergency rooms and that over the last year those shortages have increased, according to the poll.

Dr. Karl Marzec, an emergency medicine specialist with Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, California, said he is often prompted to use a different medication, which may not be his first line of treatment, due to the shortage. 

"Over the last six months, there's been prolonged shortage of critical medications that we use on a daily basis, so we've been having to go to alternative medications," Marzec said. "Some of them work just as effectively but we are also in shortage of these backup alternative medications that we're using."

Marzec said pain medication, nausea treatments and saline — all of which help patients recover — are in short supply and that could slow down patient care in a mass casualty event. 

The respondents were also asked whether their hospital re-evaluated procedures in light of recent events. Thirty percent of physicians said they had not really or not at all re-evaluated, while 44 percent of emergency rooms did somewhat evaluate their procedures. 

Marzec said his hospitals do prepare by thinking about what type of emergencies could occur in San Diego County, like fires, earthquakes and shootings. 

"If there's large fires throughout the county, we'd be thinking, 'What are our burn facility capabilities,'" Marzec said. 

ACEP said a coordinated approach to preparedness, including a region-wide data management system and tracking of resources, is key to ensuring preparedness in a mass emergency.

The organization is working to get a bill approved by Congress that could increase oversight of medical resources, allowing for better tracking and ensuring supplies are there when needed, Marzec said. 

Photo Credit: NBC10]]>
<![CDATA[Juvenile Offender Takes Cell Phone Video While Locked Up]]> Mon, 21 May 2018 18:38:52 -0400 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Bridgeport-Juvenile-Detention-Center.jpg

The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters have obtained cell phone video that appears to have been recorded by a juvenile in custody at the Bridgeport Juvenile Detention Center.

In the video, the young man who shot it appears to have done so from inside a locked cell and in a common area. None of the staff appear to have any idea that he has a phone or is recording video.

Phones are prohibited and considered contraband by the agency that runs the Bridgeport Juvenile Detention Center.

The Troubleshooters could not determine when the juvenile shot this video or how he got the phone inside. But it was posted to Facebook in March this year.

Gary Roberge, the executive director of the Court Services Support Division of the Connecticut Judicial Branch, the agency overseeing the juvenile detention centers in Bridgeport and Hartford, declined to go on camera to discuss the matter, and said he could not discuss specifics because this involves a juvenile.

Via phone, Roberge told the Troubleshooters that whether it’s the courts or police taking juveniles into custody, ”whoever does it is supposed to pat down and cuff the person, and put all their items into a safe place until they depart.”

State Senator Len Suzio (R- Meriden), who serves on the state Juvenile Justice Policy and Oversight Committee, or JJPOC, watched the video and is now demanding answers.

“I am absolutely certain the people in charge of the facility will be flabbergasted by that. That is a shocking video. It could just as well have been a weapon. If he can sneak something like this into a facility, then I mean we know that there’s knives and things like that that are far smaller than that and could be more dangerous even,” Suzio said.

The Troubleshooters also showed the video of the juvenile inside his jail cell to State Representative Toni Walker (D - New Haven), chairwoman of the JJPOC committee.

“I think what we have to do is find out how did he get it,” said Walker.

When asked if she had concerns that instead of a phone, the juvenile could have smuggled in a knife or gun, Walker replied, “Right now this is a kid, who’s on a spree he has got a phone and he’s taking pictures. And he’s doing it just to create mischief and trouble.”

Suzio said he wants a full investigation of how this juvenile got a phone in his cell.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
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<![CDATA[Passenger Cruise Ship Docks in New London For First Time In Years]]> Tue, 22 May 2018 09:52:36 -0400 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Hebridean-Sky-Docked-in-New-London.jpg

New London had a big, white cruise ship docked at City Pier Monday – the first passenger cruise ship to use the port of New London since 2014, according to the Connecticut Port Authority.

The M/S Hebridean Sky is a foreign flag ship touring the East Coast.

“We haven’t had one at City Pier since (at least) 9/11 when nature of the world changed and security changed,” said New London Mayor Michael Passero. The State Pier, also in New London, hosts foreign flag cargo ships frequently.

But when the Hebridean Sky wanted to dock at City Pier, Passero said he, the Coast Guard, Homeland Security, the state Port Authority and Port security jumped into action. A process that could take three months took three weeks.

“It shows that we’re on the map. That people want to come here and that we have something very special to offer to the tourism industry,” Passero said.

Hebridean Sky Chief Officer George Hendry said the cruise operations company, Noble Caledonia, out of London, was looking for a new destination a little out of the ordinary.

“The amount of people who visited and thanked us for coming made it all worthwhile. It’s been a very warm and welcoming place,” Hendry said.

The Hebridean Sky and its sister ships travel anywhere from Antartica up to the far Artic, according to Hendry.

Monday the 110 passengers had the chance to hop aboard the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat and tour the Connecticut River, seeing landmarks like Gillette Castle and the Goodspeed Opera House.

“We’ve never been in the state before at all so it’s a new experience for us. We didn’t know what to expect – but we’ve had a really lovely morning,” said passenger Joyce Gape, of Welshpool, Wales.

“It’s perhaps a bit more of the real U.S. outside the cities,” passenger Tony Sherrard said. He lives in Buckinghamshire, England.

New London businesses, like Muddy Waters Café, gave crew members that local taste Monday, too.

“I hope to get a few people to converse with me this afternoon. I always like to talk to people from out of the area to see what they think about New London,” Owner Barry Neistat said.

The Hebridean Sky will leave New London around midnight and travel up the East Coast. Hendry said the final destination of the 12-day tour will be in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Hartford Police Investigate Shooting, Crash on Albany Avenue]]> Mon, 21 May 2018 18:41:15 -0400 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/HARTFORD-ALBANY-AVE-SCENE.jpg

Hartford police are investigating a shooting and a car crash on Albany Avenue Monday afternoon.

Police said the shooting victim is stable at St. Francis Hospital. No other details were immediately available.

Albany Avenue is shut down in both directions between Sigourney and Edgewood streets and will remain closed through rush hour, according to police.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Report of Gun Prompts Police Response at Norwich School]]> Mon, 21 May 2018 16:06:32 -0400 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Norwich+Police+1200.jpg

There will be a police presence at Kelly STEAM School in Norwich Tuesday after a report that a student may have brought a gun to school Monday.

According to a post on the Norwich Public Schools website, the school was placed on lockdown Monday when school officials received the report, and police were called in to investigate.

The building and grounds were searched, and no gun was found.

Police remained on scene as a precaution Monday and there will be a police presence Tuesday.

Students were safe during the incident, officials said.

“It is important to remember that if you see or hear of any potential threat, that you notify the police and school immediately,” the post on the school website read.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Branford Police Investigate Home Invasion]]> Tue, 22 May 2018 07:11:01 -0400 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Police+lights+generic4.jpg

Branford police are investigating a home invasion at the Jefferson Woods Condominium Complex.

Police said one person was inside a unit at the complex on Monticello Drive when two men entered through the front door around 2:10 p.m. One suspect showed a gun.

The suspects left after stealing a few items, police said. Nobody was hurt.

The suspects fled on foot. One is described as about 5-foot-9 with a medium build and was wearing a red shirt at the time of the crime. The second suspect was about 5-foot-4, with a thin mustache and was wearing a black shirt, according to police.

Police said it appears to be an isolated incident.

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information should contact Detective Ferris at 203-481-4241 or the anonymous tip line at 203-315-3909.