<![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-usMon, 19 Feb 2018 22:56:48 -0500Mon, 19 Feb 2018 22:56:48 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Get Ready for Record Breaking Warmth]]> Mon, 19 Feb 2018 17:58:38 -0500 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Cover+Photo+Temp+Wed.jpg

NBC Connecticut meteorologists are forecasting some abnormally warm weather for the next couple of days.

Tomorrow will feature a mixture of sun and clouds with warm temperatures inland and mild temperatures along the shoreline.

High temperatures for inland Connecticut are expected to reach the middle to upper 60s. 

Temperatures will be slightly cooler along the shoreline only reaching the middle to upper 50s. The coolest part of the state will be southeastern CT with a wind off the water. The Groton/New London area will only climb into the upper 40s.

Record breaking warmth moves into the state for Wednesday with much of inland Connecticut rising into the low 70s. Shoreline communities can expect temperatures in the low 60s.

The high temperature record for the Hartford area on Wednesday is 63 which was set back in 1930. We're forecasting a high temperature of 72 in the Hartford area which should shatter the current record. 

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<![CDATA[Are US Athletes Cursed by Korea's Unlucky Number 4?]]> Sun, 18 Feb 2018 19:27:30 -0500 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-917564506.jpg

Every culture has a number considered unlucky because of superstitions. In the United States it's 13. In South Korea, it's four.

The reason behind the fear of the number four, known as tetraphobia, lies in the way it sounds. The Korean word for "four" sounds much like their word for "death."

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Tetraphobia is fairly common across many Asian cultures and far surpasses Western propensity to triskaidekaphobia, the fear of the number 13. The superstition permeates through many aspects of society in these cultures. Many elevators in South Korea, for instance, skip the number four or use the letter "F" in place of the number four to represent the fourth floor.

Americans competing in Pyeongchang are learning that you don't need to believe in the "curse of four" to be doomed by the single-digit menace. And given these Team USA athletes' results at the 2018 Winter Games, they may leave South Korea with their own fear of four.

Mikaela Shiffrin — Alpine Skiing, Slalom
In her signature event, defending Olympic slalom gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin finished fourth just a day after winning gold in the giant slalom. She was also wearing the No. 4 bib.

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Ben Ferguson — Snowboarding, Halfpipe
Ben Ferguson finished on the podium in three of the four Olympic-qualifying contests, and he was the first U.S. men’s halfpipe rider to qualify for the 2018 games. But after posting a big score in the halfpipe qualifying and easily advancing to the finals, Ferguson, wearing bid No. 4, finished just off the podium in fourth place.

Lindsey Jacobellis — Snowboarding, Snowboard Cross
Lindsey Jacobellis, the most decorated women’s snowboard cross athlete ever, recorded a fourth-place finish at her fourth Olympics, also donning the No. 4 bib.

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Maddie Mastro — Snowboarding, Halfpipe
Wearing bib No. 4, the young American snowboarder had a disappointing end to her Olympic debut, crashing out three times in the women’s halfpipe finals to finish 12th out of 12 women in the finals.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle — Alpine Skiing, Men's Combined
In his Olympic debut, Ryan Cochran-Siegle clipped a gate during the combined downhill and wiped out. The 25-year-old was also wearing bib No. 4.

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The Americans aren't the only ones impacted by the "curse of four." These Athletes from other Western countries who donned the No. 4 bib during their competition may also have been jinxed.

Austrian Stephanie Brunner — Alpine Skiing, Giant Slalom
Stephanie Brunner crashed in her first run of the giant slalom and failed to finish.

Australian Britteny Cox — Freestyle Skiing, Women's Moguls
The defending world champion in women’s moguls finished 5th.

Dutch Ireen Wuest — Speedskating, Women's 100m
The most decorated speed skater in Olympic history skated in the fourth pair and finished 9th in the women’s 1000m. A day earlier, Wust won gold in the women's 1500m. She skated in starting pair No. 11 in that event.  

Kazakhstani Denis Ten — Figure Skating, Men's Short Program
A bronze medalist in Sochi, Ten skated fourth in Friday’s men’s figure skating short program and finished 27th, failing to advance to the free skate event.

Sweden's Hanna Falk- Cross-Country, Women's Sprint Classic
After finishing first in her heat at the quarterfinals and third in the semifinals, Falk came in fourth in the finals of the women's sprint classic. 

As for Shiffrin’s gold in giant slalom on Thursday, she was wearing bib No.7, a lucky number in South Korea.

Photo Credit: David Ramos/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Police Need Assistance Identifying Suspects in Bridgeport Shooting]]> Mon, 19 Feb 2018 22:35:57 -0500 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Breaking-News-Intro-1200x675.jpg

Police need assistance identifying two suspects in a Bridgeport shooting that happened on Monday afternoon. 

A nearby video shows two suspects on Wood Avenue around 2:33 p.m. get out of a green vehicle before one of the men start shooting at a car driving by.

Anyone is information is asked to call detectives at (203) 581-5241 or 203-576-TIPS (8477).

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Car Strikes, Shatters Window at Hartford Hospital]]> Mon, 19 Feb 2018 21:55:44 -0500 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/160*120/IMG_6852.JPG

A car struck and shattered a window at Hartford Hospital on Monday night, a spokeswoman for the hospital said. 

The area near the emergency room was cordoned off after the car struck the building around 7:40 p.m., media relations manager, Tina Varona, said. 

No one was hurt and the crash did not affect emergency room operations, Varona said. 

The building was not affected structurally.

Police are handling the investigation. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Kent Lifts State of Emergency Following Ice Jam Flooding]]> Mon, 19 Feb 2018 21:47:48 -0500 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Kent_Lifts_State_of_Emergency.jpg

Kent has lifted the state of emergency regarding the notorious mile-long ice jam blocking the Housatonic River.

It was never a question of if it would make its way downstream, rather when, and how.

"It was incredible to see the power of Mother Nature and then watching it all sort of runoff," Karen Garrity said.

Homeowners miles downstream in New Milford braced for the other side of the ice jam. The town feared the ice would break off, bottleneck and cause major flooding.

To everyone’s relief, the jam started moving mid-February and didn’t stop.

"We would see these big chunks of ice going down and then with it, debris," New Milford resident Kathleen Schmidt said.

State Representative Brian Ohler credits the successful thaw to time and temperature. Mother Nature released the ice into the Housatonic little by little, gradually bringing the water line up with it.

"That’s what we needed," Ohler said. "We needed it to make contact with the ice."

After 33 days of analyzing and preparing for seemingly every scenario, Ohler is confident he and other town officials know more about ice jams than he ever thought necessary.

"If this did occur again, we could react that much quicker to get people out of the area or even an advance warning system saying, 'Hey, we noticed the ice jam forming again. We need to take preventative measures,'" Ohler said.

<![CDATA[White House: Trump Moves to Improved Gun Background Checks]]> Mon, 19 Feb 2018 21:35:42 -0500 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/913126606-President-Donald-Trump.jpg

The White House has shown support Monday towards efforts to improve background checks for gun purchases since the gun debate was sparked after the deadly Florida high school shooting that left 17 students and teachers dead, NBC News reported.  

In a statement Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Trump was open to bipartisan legislation on background checks, NBC News reported. 

"The President spoke to Senator Cornyn on Friday about the bipartisan bill he and Sen. Murphy introduced to improve Federal Compliance with Criminal Background check Legislation. While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the President is supportive of efforts to improve the Federal background check system," Sanders said in a statement, NBC News reported. 

Photo Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Bones Found Off Cape Cod May Belong to Legendary Pirate Black Sam Bellamy]]> Mon, 19 Feb 2018 20:16:16 -0500 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Human_Remains_Could_Belong_to_Famous_Pirate.jpg

An investigative team conducting DNA analysis on recently-discovered human remains believes they could belong to a legendary pirate captain.

The bones were found aboard the historic Whydah Gally, a pirate ship that wrecked in 1717 off the coast of Cape Cod.

Monday, the remains were presented publicly for the first time, and investigators discussed the new effort to determine whether they belong to Captain Samuel "Black Sam" Bellamy, listed by Forbes Magazine as the most successful pirate in history.

The team removed a femur from the large concretion and presented it to a forensics team from the Henry Lee College at the University of New Haven.

The Whydah Gally is loaded with the treasures from 54 seized ships, sank during a nor'easter off Wellfleet, Massachusetts, in April 1717, killing Bellamy and members of his crew. The wreck was discovered in 1984 by famed explorer Barry Clifford and his diving crew, which included John F. Kennedy Jr.

Clifford has recovered millions of dollars worth of gold and silver. There is estimated $120 million in buried treasure, along with 60 cannons and thousands of rare artifacts from the site.

Bellamy was an English pirate who operated in the early 18th century. Though his known career as a pirate captain lasted little more than a year, he and his crew captured at least 53 ships under his command – making him the wealthiest pirate in recorded history before his death at age 28.

Called "Black Sam" in Cape Cod folklore because he eschewed the fashionable powdered wig in favor of tying back his long black hair with a simple band, Bellamy became known for his mercy and generosity toward those he captured on his raids. This reputation earned him another nickname, the "Prince of Pirates." He likened himself to Robin Hood, with his crew calling themselves "Robin Hood's Men."

Forensic scientists will test the bone's DNA against that of the DNA of a distant relative of Bellamy's who lives in England. They will know the results in about a month.

They believe there are hundreds more treasures in the concretion. They estimate it will take about a year to extract them all.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Boston]]>
<![CDATA[Black Travel Guide Was Powerful Tool for Women Entrepreneurs]]> Mon, 19 Feb 2018 19:55:00 -0500 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/motorist+green+book+albertas+sister+12.jpg

Alberta Ellis ran a hotel in the 1950s that served African Americans who had nowhere else to go. 

She knew what it was like to be turned away because of the color of your skin. It happened to her own family as they drove more than 1,400 miles from Missouri to California.

"They would usually say there was no vacancy, even though their sign would be in neon lights saying vacancy," Ellis' granddaughter, Elizabeth Calvin, remembered. 

Ellis reported the hotels' actions but that did little to change anything, her granddaughter said. 

Determined to provide a safe space for African-American travelers, Ellis put together $10,000 in cash and bought an old hospital in Springfield, Missouri, at a city auction. She opened a small business she called Alberta's Hotel.

Calvin believes her grandmother purchased the hotel around 1954. That year, one of the first ads for the business appeared in "The Negro Motorist Green Book." 

The book, created in 1936 by Victor H. Green, helped black travelers across the country avoid "difficulties and embarrassment" while on the road. From 1936 until 1967, the "Green Book" listed hotels, restaurants and other establishments across the country that welcomed black customers.

The "Green Book" was more than a revolutionary way for African Americans to travel in this country; it was an economic engine for burgeoning entrepreneurs, particularly black women. 

In Washington, D.C., black women were also running successful businesses, and many of them were advertised in the "Green Book." 

"This is a time when there's very little ways for a black woman to move forward economically and professionally outside of domestic work," said Jennifer Reut, an architectural and landscape historian who runs a blog that maps "Green Book" sites.

'You Couldn’t Go to a Regular Hotel'

Ellis was already the owner of one successful business when she opened "Alberta's Hotel." 

But she was inspired to open the hotel because African Americans driving along Route 66 didn't have many options if they stopped in her city. 

"She built an empire, really, a tiny empire from this extremely skilled ability to look at the whole market and see what the need was," Reut said. 

"You couldn’t go to a regular hotel, so she probably saw it as a good business opportunity, as well as hospitality," Calvin added. 

The hotel was located along the business route for Route 66, an easy stop for travelers who were headed west. To get the word out, Ellis placed an ad in the "Green Book." 

Calvin said her grandmother was an avid traveler and likely knew about the "Green Book" before she advertised in it.

Soon, Alberta's Hotel was popular with travelers who passed through Springfield, including singer Nat King Cole and Harlem Globetrotter Reece "Goose" Tatum. 

Running a successful black-owned business in the 1950s didn't come without complications. Sometimes police officers brought prostitutes to the hotel to try and give it a bad name, Calvin said. 

"My brother remembers when white men would come to the hotel late at night with women, and my grandfather and grandmother would send them away," Calvin said. 

"This is not that kind of establishment. Don’t come in here looking for that," Calvin said her grandparents told them.

A land dispute also kept Ellis in court for much of the time she owned the hotel. 

"There was a wealthy man in town who was slated to get that hospital. But when she showed up to the auction with cash, they had to sell it to her," Calvin said. 

After about 10 years, Ellis lost the hotel to eminent domain. 

She didn't live much longer after losing the hotel. 

"Once that case was settled, she got sick," Calvin said. "She passed in 1966. She was only 56 years old."

'That Was Like the Black Downtown'

In Annapolis, Maryland, Florence Carr Sparrow and her sister, Elizabeth Carr Smith, ran two successful beach resorts. For nearly 50 years, Carr's Beach and Sparrow's Beach were safe havens for African-American families looking for a summer escape. 

Though they were already popular on their own, both beaches were listed in the "Green Book." 

In Washington, D.C., African-American travelers flocked to the Northwest quadrant for food, fun and somewhere to stay. 

"That was the main black area that had the most amenities. Theatres, clubs, florists. That was like the black downtown," said author and historian Patsy Fletcher. 

In the 1930s, Jean Clore opened the Old Rose Social Club on the corner of 7th and T streets NW. A few blocks away, she opened Hotel Clore.

Clore was young, attractive and had a knack for business, a 1938 article published in The Baltimore Afro-American said. 

"Ordinarily it takes the average club operator several years to build up such a business ... but Miss Clore has made her local reputation only since 1936," the article said.  

The hotel became a home for both travelers and celebrities performing at the nearby Howard Theatre. 

Clore was active in the National Council of Negro Women and other organizations. 

"She deserves recognition ... She was quite impressive," Fletcher said. 

Near Logan Circle, Myrtle Williams ran the Cadillac Hotel. The hotel on the 1500 block of Vermont Avenue NW opened in 1941.

But like Alberta's in Missouri, a cloud hung over the Cadillac Hotel and other black-owned businesses in D.C. 

Williams ran the Cadillac Hotel as a decent, respectable business, Fletcher said, but she was repeatedly accused of supporting prostitution. Like Ellis in Missouri, Williams discovered that undercover police officers brought prostitutes into her business and then arrested her guests if they solicited one of the women.

In 1977, Williams and a group of African-American residents in D.C.'s Logan Circle neighborhood organized to fight attempts to push them out of the area. 

People who wanted to buy the Cadillac Hotel's building repeatedly challenged the business' operating license so they could force the hotel out and later sell the building to middle-class whites, Fletcher, the historian, said. 

"Many urban renewal projects in the '60s targeted black neighborhoods," Reut, the architectural historian, said. "Lots and lots of 'Green Book' sites ended up disappearing because of this."

The passage of the Civil Rights Act also hurt some black-owned businesses.

As African Americans began going to places where they had been previously denied, some businesses were not able to bring in the revenue they needed.

The owners of many black-owned businesses were prepared, Reut said. 

"Everyone understood that when segregation was happening, these instruments were needed. But that when the time came -- and they were always pushing for this -- they won't need these things anymore. People understood that this was going to be the end of their business," Reut said.

Today, many businesses that were listed in the "Green Book" are gone and replaced with parking lots and shopping centers.

In D.C., some of the buildings that housed these businesses still stand. 

"The ones that tend to still be around are the ones that are in thriving business districts like Washington and the U Street Corridor," Reut said. "They haven't knocked these down yet."

The former home of Hotel Clore, located at 614 S Street NW, is now a multi-denominational church. The former home of the Cadillac Hotel, in Logan Circle, is now a luxury condominium complex. 

While many of these businesses no longer exist, the entrepreneurial spirit of these women lives on. Decades after Ellis' hotel shut down, her granddaughter moved back to Missouri and is following in her footsteps. 

"I bought an old horse stable and turned it into five units, and we rent out some of them as a B&B," Calvin said. "I learned from my grandmother."

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Calvin/NBC
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<![CDATA[Connecticut Rules Would Block Restaurant Owners from Collecting Tips]]> Mon, 19 Feb 2018 19:24:03 -0500 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Proposal_Would_Allow_Restaurant_Owners_to_Keep_Tips.jpg

A Connecticut rule already on the books would be the main stopgap from a Federal Department of Labor (DOL) rule from taking effect in the state.

The DOL is considering allowing restaurant owners to collect the tips left for servers, and the owners would then be the ones to decide how those tips are used.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal urged the labor department not to approve the rule during a press conference Monday.

"This rule is unjust, unfair, economically unwise," Blumenthal said during the event at the Ion Restaurant in downtown Middletown.

Connecticut labor rules, however, will blunt the impact of the proposed rule change in Washington.

Connecticut restauranteurs benefit from the "tip credit" rule. The tip credit allows owners to pay servers and staff less than minimum wage so long as their hourly wages exceed Connecticut’s minimum wage of $10.10.

There are 27 states with that provision on the books and others that maintain the same minimum wage for food service employees as for other hourly workers.

Matt Banta is a server at Ion and he says the arrangement with tips works for servers but also fears for what the publicity of such a rule might do to customers.

"I think if this goes through then general customers will tip less not knowing where the tips are going," Banta said.

The Connecticut Restaurant Association told NBC Connecticut that the tip credit rule would supersede whatever action is taken in Washington.

Banta says customers expect a certain level of service, and in turn, expect their gratuities to go to the right person or people.

"If they tip the server, they’re paying for the service, the interaction, the friendliness," Banta said. "Some pool tips now in a way they give a portion to the host, or they give a portion to bussers and food runners and what not. That’s different than giving all of the money to the owner as he sees fit."

<![CDATA[Teen Charged in $4,000 Vandalism at Shelton Catholic School]]> Mon, 19 Feb 2018 14:33:17 -0500 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/shelton+police+generic.jpg

Shelton police have arrested a 14-year-old boy after investigating a break-in, burglary and vandalism at a Catholic school. Police said the spray paint left behind included sexual references and depictions. 

Police responded to the Holy Trinity Catholic School at 503 Shelton Ave. on Feb. 2 to investigate a break-in and found spray paint on several lockers, desks and classroom walls. 

Police said the vandalism was so extensive that school had to be canceled for the day. 

The estimate of the amount of damage caused exceeded $4,000. 

Police investigated and arrested a 14-year old boy Monday. He has been charged with third-degree burglary, second-degree criminal trespass and first-degree criminal mischief. 

He was released to his parents and is due in Bridgeport Juvenile Superior Court.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[14-Year-Old Falls Through Ice at Pond in Berlin]]> Mon, 19 Feb 2018 17:30:43 -0500 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Paper+Goods+Pond+Berlin.JPG

A 14-year-old fell through the ice at a pond in Berlin on Monday.

Police said they received calls about two teens on the ice at Paper Goods Pond off of Main Street around 1:08 p.m.

The two 14-year-olds were ice fishing nearly 15 feet from an open water area on the pond when the police arrived. Police said the pond is up to 20 feet deep. 

An officer called for the teens to get off the pond and shortly after, one of them fell through the ice. 

Police called for a dive-in team but canceled it when he saw the teen come out of the water with the help of his friend. The two walked back to shore. 

The teen who fell through the ice was taken to the Hospital of Central Connecticut- New Britain General Campus for precautionary measures.

Police are urging people to stay off the ice.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[New Washer Puts Prospect Woman Through the Ringer]]> Mon, 19 Feb 2018 15:36:24 -0500 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/New_Washer_Puts_Prospect_Woman_Through_the_Ringer.jpg

A Prospect woman bought a hi-tech machine thinking it would make laundry less of a chore but that wasn’t the case.

Carmelita Rifkin was excited about getting her very first and only Magtag washer in 2016, but she showed NBC Connecticut Responds the stains and dirt still on her clothes after each cycle.

“I was so very frustrated,” Rifkin said. “With spending all of that money and getting a washing machine that did not wash my clothes.”

Rifkin followed the instructions attached to the $950 machine.

“The clothes would be partly dry underneath, clothes came out dirty,” Rifkin said.

Rifkin contacted Whirlpool, which owns Maytag, telling the customer service representative there may be a defect with the machine. She said the company agreed there was an issue.

“’If it’s not right, it shouldn’t do this or that,’” Rifkin said the representative told her. “’We’ll send someone up.’”

The washer was covered under a one-year warranty and Rifkin spent an additional $100 for a six-month extended warranty.

“I just felt like something had to be wrong with the machine. At first, I would get excited thinking my clothes are going to come out,” Rifkin said.

But after multiple service calls by the Maytag repairman to Rifkin’s home, she said the machine still wasn’t doing the job.

After NBC Connecticut Responds reached out to Whirlpool, they notified Rifkin that they would pick up the washer and refund her $1,099 for the cost of the machine and the extended warranty.

<![CDATA[Southington Man Left Bedridden Victim Without Food, Care: PD]]> Mon, 19 Feb 2018 12:04:48 -0500 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Michael-Flaherty.jpg

A Southington man faces abuse charges after he allegedly failed to look after a bedridden 76-year-old woman in his care, according to police.

Police said the charges stem from an incident in July 2017. According to police, 47-year-old Michael Flaherty had power of attorney over the victim and was responsible for her care. Investigators said Flaherty neglected to provide care for the woman and left her alone for a long period of time without food.

The victim was found lying in her own feces and urine, police said.

Flaherty was arrested on Feb. 15, and charged with third-degree abuse and cruelty to persons.

He was released on a $5,000 bond and is due in court on Feb. 26, 2018.

Photo Credit: Southington Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Death of Norwalk 6-Year-Old Might be Flu-Related: Mayor]]> Mon, 19 Feb 2018 15:03:22 -0500 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Emma+Splan+Miftari+Photography.JPG

Health officials are looking into whether the death of a 6-year-old girl in Norwalk is related to complications from the flu, according to the city's mayor.

The Columbus Magnet School student, Emma Splan, died Saturday night and the death is being investigated as possibly flu-related, according to Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling. 

NBC Connecticut's sister station NBC New York spoke to a friend of the family, who said the sudden death has left the family devastated.

"These guys did it the right way. They got her a flu shot. They got her to a doctor. They’re the best parents a child could have. They didn’t wait. They didn’t linger. And apparently we all know this flu season is crazy," said Sarah Lutkus, a friend of Emma's mother Christy, who flew up from Florida to support the family. 

Lutkus said Christy told her they first went to the doctor on Thursday and confirmed Emma had the flu. On Sunday, Emma was vomiting and not drinking much so they went back to the doctor, who sent them to the hospital. Within the next eight hours, things went downhill.

“She went to the doctor, Christy said in the morning around 9:30, and they were at Stamford around 3 and within the next eight hours … yeah.”

Lutkus said Emma was the kind of child who always wanted to look out for others. 

"Pay it forward for her. She was always doing that for kids, man. She gave my daughters all of her leftover clothes. I woke up this morning before knowing she had passed. My girls were dressed in all of her clothes. She wanted to make sure others were taken care of,” Lutkus said.

Columbus Principal Medard Thomas sent a letter to the school community confirming Emma's death and stating that counselors would be available at Columbus Magnet starting Tuesday and for as long as needed.

"We could always count on Emma constantly doing the right thing at school and thriving. Our hearts go out to her loving parents: Christy Pugh, and David Splan. We are devastated by their loss. This tragedy has brought us unimaginable sorrow and heartache, but as a community, we possess the spirit and fortitude to work through this unspeakably tragic time."

Thomas went on to say that as a precaution school was undergoing a deep cleaning before students returned Tuesday and that custodians would continue to focus on disinfecting any "high-touch" areas to prevent the spread of illness.

The full letter can be viewed below.

Calls to the Health Department were not immediately returned. 

Health officials have not confirmed if the death is definitely flu-related. If it is, it adds to the growing list of flu deaths in Connecticut this year. So far there have been 77 deaths in the state, which is more deaths than the past five flu seasons.

Photo Credit: Miftari Photography]]>
<![CDATA[Southington Police Arrest Suspect in String of Robberies]]> Mon, 19 Feb 2018 14:02:59 -0500 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/SOUTHINGTON-ROBBERY-SUSPECT1.jpg

Southington police have arrested a man accused in a string of robberies in December 2017 and January 2018.

Police said 43-year-old Jeffrey Stokarski is a suspect in four robberies between Dec. 27, 2017, and Jan. 8, 2018.

Two of the crimes happened at the Henny Penny at 273 Meriden Waterbury Turnpike. In the first on Dec. 27, 2017, a male suspect, identified by police as Stokarski, entered the store armed with a screwdriver and forced the crash register open. He made off with $290. In the second on Dec. 31, 2017, police claim Stokarski entered the same store while the same clerk was working and demanded the clerk open the register. The clerk complied and Stokarski allegedly made off with another $161.

Police also believe Stokarski is responsible for a robbery at the Mobil gas station at 1896 Meriden Waterbury Turnpike on Jan. 6, 2018. In that case, police allege Stokarski was armed with a knife and stole $400 in cash and three cartons of cigarettes worth a total of $117.

Stokarski is also suspected in a robbery on Jan. 8, 2018 at the Food Bag at 860 Meriden Waterbury Turnpike. Police said Stokarski was armed with a knife when he entered the store and stole $76 in cash and over $700-worth of cigarettes.

There were no reported injuries in any of the incidents.

Stokarski was arrested Saturday and faces charges of first-degree robbery, third-degree sixth-degree larceny, and fifth-degree larceny. He was held on bond and is next scheduled to appear in court on March 6.

Photo Credit: Southington Police Department]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Hero Shot 5 Times at Fla. School Gets Visit From Sheriff]]> Mon, 19 Feb 2018 11:46:47 -0500 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/021918+anthony+borges+broward+sheriff+scott+israel.jpg

A Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student who was shot multiple times while trying to save his classmates during last week's mass shooting was visited in the hospital by Broward Sheriff Scott Israel.

Israel said he was "honored" to visit with 15-year-old Anthony Borges Sunday, just days after the shooting at the Parkland school that claimed 17 lives.

"His family shared that Anthony was shot five times in Wednesday's school attack," BSO tweeted, along with a picture of Israel and Borges. "Fortunately, he is recovering -- but has a long road ahead with more surgeries needed. Please join us in praying for the swift recovery of Anthony and all the other victims of this horrific criminal act."

Borges is being hailed a hero for his efforts to save other students during the shooting. A GoFundMe page set up for his family said Borges saved about 20 other students as he attempted to close and lock a classroom door.

He ended up shot in both legs, had his upper left thigh bone shattered, and had a bullet go through his back.

"He has a long road of recovery ahead of him but he is alive and stable," the post says.

The GoFundMe has already raised more than $110,000 of its original goal of $5,000 in just three days.

Officials with Broward Health said that four patients remained hospitalized as of Sunday night, with all in fair condition.

Photo Credit: Broward Sheriff's Office
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<![CDATA[Teen Accused of Making Threatening Post on Social Media]]> Mon, 19 Feb 2018 07:06:52 -0500 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Police+Lights+Generic+NBC4_3.jpg

Trumbull police have arrested a 13-year-old accused of making a threat on social media.

According to police, the teen posted threatening comments and a photo of himself with what appeared to be a handgun in a group chat on social media Sunday. A parent who saw the post on their child’s cell phone reported it to police.

Upon investigation, the gun was determined to be a BB gun, not a real firearm. Police believe the child cropped out the red tip marking it as a fake for the photo.

Police said this was an isolated incident and there is no threat to the public.

The teen was charged with disorderly conduct and is due in court on March 3. He was not identified due to his age.

<![CDATA['Monster Living Under Our Roof': Family Speaks About Alleged Gunman]]> Mon, 19 Feb 2018 15:13:41 -0500 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/190*120/nikolas-cruz-pasado-007.jpg

The family that took in suspected Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass murderer Nikolas Cruz is sounding off about the tragedy – as details begin to emerge about his background and what officials may have known.

In an interview with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Kimberly and James Snead, who opened their home to the 19-year-old after his mother died, were quoted as saying “we had this monster living under our roof and we didn’t know...we didn’t see this side of him.”

“What James and Kimberly told me was they have taken in stray animals they have taken in people that they thought had hit hard times and Nick, as they called him, was one of those people,” said reporter Paula McMahon. “They thought they were doing a good deed they wanted to get him back on track.”

The article published Saturday talked about how the defendant was friendly with the Snead’s son, who asked them to house the suspect that was depressed, they say, after he lost his mother to pneumonia.

James Snead said “everything everybody seems to know, we didn’t know… It’s as simple as that” on reports Cruz was a loner, exhibited odd behavior and had violent tendencies.

“They just struck me as if they were still in shock,” McMahon said. “They said that they just haven’t really processed it yet, that they have very, very mixed emotions. They’re having a hard time coming to terms with the person they thought they knew and the person who did this tragic terrible act.”

A report from the Department of Children and Families says Nikolas Cruz’s adoptive mother said he suffers from Autism and ADD. The document also noted an investigation on him closed on Nov. 12, 2016.

The report said Cruz was on Snapchat cutting both of his arms. One counselor noted she was “concerned” about Cruz wanting to purchase a gun and “feeling depressed.”

A second counselor observed how his mother, who died in November, has always been an “attentive mom and followed through with care needs” while noting a counselor’s concern to ensure that a psychiatric assessment of the defendant was not premature.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[IRS Warns of New Tax Refund Scam]]> Mon, 19 Feb 2018 06:50:29 -0500 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Authorities_Warn_of_New_Tax_Refund_Scam.jpg

Scams are a common occurrence during tax season, but authorities are warning of a new one so brazen, even veteran tax professionals are baffled.

Authorities said the scam involves several steps and there are several variations – but here’s the basic set-up.

Thieves will steal client data from tax professionals, then file fraudulent tax returns in a victim’s name. The victim will then receive a fraudulent refund from the IRS. Some instances have been by direct deposit, and others by check.

The thieves then pose as the IRS or a debt collector, explaining the victim received a fake refund and instructing them to return the money. But instead of returning the money to the IRS, the scammers direct the money to their own accounts.

Experts said this scam has already conned tens of thousands of taxpayers. While IRS scams are not uncommon, this one has the evidence of the IRS funds, either deposited in the bank account or in the form of the check, which makes the scammers’ demand to return the money more convincing.

The IRS managed to catch this twist earlier this month, and are warning taxpayers not to cash a check that unexpectedly shows up.

If you receive a suspicious direct deposit in your account, you can protect yourself by doing the following:

  • Contact the Automated Clearing House (ACH) department of the bank/financial institution where the direct deposit was received and have them return the refund to the IRS.
  • Call the IRS toll-free at 800-829-1040 (individual) or 800-829-4933 (business) to explain why the direct deposit is being returned.

If you get a mailed check and haven't cashed it, follow these steps:

  • Write "Void" in the endorsement section on the back of the check.
  • Submit the check immediately to the appropriate IRS location listed below. The location is based on the city (possibly abbreviated) on the bottom text line in front of the words TAX REFUND on your refund check.
  • Don't staple, bend, or paper clip the check.
  • Include a note stating, "Return of erroneous refund check because (and give a brief explanation of the reason for returning the refund check)."

If you've cashed a false check, follow these instructions:

  • Submit a personal check, money order, etc., immediately to the appropriate IRS location listed below.
  • If you no longer have access to a copy of the check, call the IRS toll-free at 800-829-1040 (individual) or 800-829-4933 (business) (see telephone and local assistance for hours of operation) and explain to the IRS assistor that you need information to repay a cashed refund check.
  • Write on the check/money order: Payment of Erroneous Refund, the tax period for which the refund was issued, and your taxpayer identification number (social security number, employer identification number, or individual taxpayer identification number).
  • Include a brief explanation of the reason for returning the refund.
  • Repaying an erroneous refund in this manner may result in interest due the IRS.

You will also want to contact your bank and tax preparers to take steps to protect your identity.

For more information, visit the IRS website here. 

<![CDATA[UConn Health Reviewing Work Arraignments After Slaying of Doctor]]> Mon, 19 Feb 2018 10:56:57 -0500 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/UConn+Health.JPG

The slaying of an 84-year-old UConn School of Medicine professor who had not been on campus for months has led to UConn Health reviewing his work arrangements and looking into whether policies need to change. 

Police found the body of 84-year-old Dr. Pierluigi Bigazzi, a faculty member of UConn’s School of Medicine, on Feb. 5 when officials from UConn contacted them to check on him. 

UConn officials said Pierluigi Bigazzi last taught in the classroom in Spring 2017 and keycard access records indicate he was last on campus in August. 

While he had not been on campus for months, his absence would not have been a concern because the work he was doing could be done from anywhere, including remotely, according to a statement from UConn. 

In January, staff from UConn Health tried to contact him about a routine administrative matter, but did not hear back. Then on Feb. 5, the head of Bigazzi’s department alerted UConn Police, who went to Dr. Bigazzi’s home in Burlington and knocked on the door, according to UConn. 

At first, there was no answer, then a Burlington officer and a state trooper also responded. 

“Officers knocked on the door again and made contact with Linda Kosuda-Bigazzi, who initially denied them entry. Officers were later able to enter the home and found Dr. Bigazzi’s remains,” according to a statement from UConn. 

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that Dr. Bigazzi died of blunt-force trauma and ruled his death a homicide. 

Biagazzi’s wife, 70-year-old Linda L. Kosuda-Bigazzi, has been charged with murder and tampering with evidence and court records say Dr. Pierluigi Bigazzi could have been killed anytime between June 13, 2017 and Feb. 5, 2018.  

Few details have been released on the circumstances of the slaying and the arrest warrant issued for Linda Kosuda-Bigazzi remains sealed until she goes back to court, which is scheduled for March 20. 

Last week, UConn officials said that UConn President Susan Herbst directed the UConn Provost’s Office and Human Resources Department to review the circumstances surrounding Dr. Bigazzi’s work arrangements at UConn Health beginning last summer, including what the expectations of him were and what efforts were made to communicate with him. 

The school will look into whether relevant UConn and UConn Health policies and protocols were followed and whether they need to update or create new policies and protocols. 

“(G)iven the nature of his assignments, it was acceptable for Dr. Bigazzi to work remotely. However, it would be inappropriate for any regular full time employee to be absent from campus and out of communication for a very lengthy period of time if they are not on sabbatical or some other form of official leave,” a statement from UConn Health says. “Given that, the president instructed that this review take place.” 

UConn Health called this a “a highly unusual situation, in that the fact an employee was no longer alive was apparently hidden and remained unknown to the university until recently.” 

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Pyeongchang by the Numbers: #NipSlip, Rippon's About-Face]]> Mon, 19 Feb 2018 11:12:22 -0500 placed second for the night despite Papadakis' ward robe malfunction that almost undid their program. ]]> placed second for the night despite Papadakis' ward robe malfunction that almost undid their program. ]]> https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-920295538_master.jpg

An embarrassing wardrobe malfunction for French ice dancer Gabriella Papadakis, a ticket sale milestone, and figure skater Adam Rippon's change of heart. Here are the Pyeongchang Games by the numbers:

81.93 French ice dancers Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron were awarded a score of 81.93 points for their short program despite a wardrobe malfunction that left Papadakis’ breast exposed on live television. After the neck clasp of her dress unfastened, she struggled to keep her top from falling down. Despite the distraction, the pair took second place behind Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who broke their own world record with 83.67 points. The pairs skate again for the second part of the competition on Tuesday (Monday night in the United States). Twitter took note of what Papadakis called her “worst nightmare happening at the Olympics”  with the hashtag #nipslip. The song they skated to? Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You.”

0 The number of appearances Olympics breakout star Adam Rippon will make as an NBC correspondent for the duration of the Pyeonhchang Games. After agreeing to join the network, Rippon changed his mind telling NBCSN that while he was flattered by the offer “if I took this opportunity, I would have to leave the Olympic team and I would have to leave the (Olympic) Village.” The figure skater said his friends on the Olympic team had been there for him during his events and he wanted to return the favor.

10-4 The U.S. women’s curling team’s semifinal hopes are very much alive after a 10-4 win over China. The victory leaves the American team with a 4-3 record in round robin play.The United States returns to action against South Korea on Tuesday at 12:05 a.m. ET and concludes round-robin play against first-place Sweden on Wednesday.

3:16.86 Canada’s Justin Kripps and Alexander Kopacz pulled dead even with Germany’s Francesco Friedrich and Thorsten Margis to share the gold medal with a time of 3 minutes, 16.86 seconds in the two-man bobsled race. Americans Justin Olsen and Olympic rookie Evan Weinstock were the top U.S. sled, finishing 14th.

1 Million More than 1 million tickets have been sold to the Pyeongchang Games. Local organizing committee spokesman Sung Baik-you said the 1 million mark exceeded expectations — 692,443 people attended games venues from Feb. 9 to Feb. 17, and there's still about a week remaining. Sung said, "Our target was 1,068,000, so we don't have many tickets remaining.

90 American Jamie Anderson’s score on her second run in the women’s snowboard big air qualifying after scoring a disappointing 30 on her first run because of a fall. Anderson’s score of 90 on her second attempt was enough to propel her through the qualifying round.

5-0 The U.S women’s hockey team  shut out Finland in the semifinals to earn a shot at the Olympic gold medal that has eluded the United States for two decades. They will play Canada, which defeated the Olympic Athletes from Russia 5-0 to clinch a spot in the gold medal game. The U.S. women won the first gold medal in women’s ice hockey when the sport made its debut at the 1998 Nagano Games. 

10 The women's hockey tournament will increase from eight to 10 teams for the 2022 Olympics in Beijing. International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel confirmed the change at a news conference Monday. Fasel said the Beijing organizing committee requested the addition of two teams, a move that will help allow China to have a team in the tournament. Federation council chairwoman Zsuzsanna Kolbenheyer said the quality of women's hockey around the world was good enough for the step. Signs of progress? Japan beating Sweden on Sunday and no team scoring more than eight goals in a game, she said.

Photo Credit: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Wet Snow Weighs Down Wires, Knocks Out Power Along Shoreline]]> Sun, 18 Feb 2018 18:56:14 -0500 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/CHURCH-LANE-EAST-LYME.jpg

Thousands of people along the shoreline lost power overnight when heavy, wet snow weighed down tree branches and power lines, taking some down.

As of 8 a.m. Sunday Eversource was reporting around 3,000 power outages, and 1,300 of those customers were in East Lyme. As of 11:30 a.m. that number had been reduced to 648 statewide and just 187 in East Lyme.

Weighed down by the wet and heavy snow the weather was too much for these wires. Across the southern end of town roads were closed as branches balanced on power lines and tore some right out of the poles.

And even after the snow stopped, flakes were still flying as the snow fell off the trees and wires. Chunks of ice making their way to the ground almost sounded like hail.

Jeff Van Deusen was dodging the falling ice and snow as he shoveled out his mailbox and driveway. He lives along Plants Dam Road which has been closed all morning long. He’s just a few homes away from where a tree fell across the roadway, and has been left leaning on some wires.

“I saw that when I was shoveling this morning and I thought ‘I’m surprised that we do have power.’ It’s pretty bad,” Van Deusen said.

Not only were the wires no match for Mother Nature, but the mix of freezing rain and snow that fell makes shoveling on a morning like this back-breaking work.

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“It’s heavy and very wet and I thought it was just brush off the top of the car but it was frozen to the car. So, the sun will loosen it up now. I little bit of sun does a lot of good,” said East Lyme resident Frank Wilson.

Carriage Hill Drive is also closed, as it has been since about 3 a.m. with wires over the road.

An inspection team was on scene early Sunday morning, but there’s no word on when the situation might be fixed.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Firefighters Union Puts Up AR-15 for Auction at Fundraiser]]> Mon, 19 Feb 2018 02:56:19 -0500 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/ar_auction_0218_1779628.JPG

A firefighters union in a Sacramento, California suburb was under fire Sunday after placing an assault rifle up for auction at a fundraising event Saturday night.

Some attendees walked out of the Cameron Park Firefighters Association crab feed when they saw an AR-15, similar to the one used in a mass shooting at a Florida high school just days ago, sitting on the auction table.

"These are our first responders responding to these types of events, these shootings, and they should be concerned with putting one of those types of weapons out in our community," attendee Allison Merrill said. "And instead, it was being given out as a prize."

Another woman who walked out in protest, Nancy Lugo, said the timing of it couldn't have been worse.

The Cameron Park Fire Department is under contract with Cal Fire.

"This was a fundraising effort that has taken place since 2002," Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean said. "I understand the concerns, by all means. No harm was intended."

The union refunded the woman's money for the crab feed.

"The money wasn't really an issue," Merrill said. "I just wanted him to know we were leaving in protest, that it was totally tone deaf of them to have that, especially given the timing."

Firefighters said the auction was planned before the rampage in Florida, and the winning bidder will still have to pass a background check before taking ownership of the weapon.

Cameron Park is located about 32 miles east of Sacramento in El Dorado County.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Allison Merrill]]>
<![CDATA[Bradley International Airport Adds Flight to St. Louis]]> Mon, 19 Feb 2018 09:12:02 -0500 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/BRADLEY-BOARD.jpg

Southwest Airlines will begin daily nonstop service between Bradley International Airport and St. Louis Lambert International Airport on Aug. 7.

"As we add more airlines and increase the number of routes offered at our state's premier airport, we are opening the door for increased economic opportunities for business travelers who see Hartford as a destination where their companies can do business with even more convenience," Gov. Dannel Malloy said in a statement that the Connecticut Airport Authority released.

This flights will be on Boeing 737s, which have an average of 143 seats,  according to CAA.

The airline will first depart from Bradley International Airport at 11:10 a.m. and will arrive at St. Louis Lambert International Airport at 12:45 p.m. CST. The returning flight leaves from St. Louis at 4:25 p.m. CST and arrives back at Bradley International Airport at 7:50 p.m. EST.

"We’re pleased to strengthen our partnership with Southwest with the addition of this route. Their expansion at Bradley International Airport is a testament to everything our airport has to offer and ultimately benefits not only our passengers but also our regional economy,” CAA Board Chairman Charles R. Gray said in a statement.

This route will be Southwest's 10th nonstop destination out of Bradley International Airport. The airline offers nonstop flights to Baltimore, Chicago, Orlando, Las Vegas, and more. The airline first took off at Bradley in 1999.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Florida Students Announce March in Washington D.C for Gun Law Change]]> Mon, 19 Feb 2018 00:45:16 -0500 https://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-919613604.jpg

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School announced Sunday a nationwide march in Washington, D.C. scheduled for next month in response to the deadly Parkland school shooting.

According to the event’s website, “kids and families will take to the streets of Washington, D.C. to demand that their lives and safety become a priority and that we end gun violence and mass shootings in our schools today.”

“We’re going to maintain this momentum,” said Emma Gonzalez, a student at Stoneman Douglas High, on Meet the Press with Chuck Todd. “We have this organization. And we are going to push, no matter how hard it takes. We already have pushed no more than young children should possibly ever have to push.”

“We are marching for our lives, we’re marching for the 17 lives we lost. And we’re marching for our children’s lives and our children’s children and their children. This kind of stuff can’t just happen. Never again will this kind of tragedy happen in this country or any country,” said Alex Wind, also a student at Stoneman Douglas.

Details for the event that will be held on March 24th can be found here.

Prior to that, 100 students will board chartered busses and will head to Tallahassee, where they will meet with Senators and House members on both sides of the aisle on Wednesday. Students will also meet with Attorney General Pam Bondi.

“We will all have the chance to speak our minds. Because we are the ones that looked into Nikolas Cruz’s eyes. And we took 17 bullets to the heart,” said Jaclyn Corin, a student at Stoneman Douglas High. And we’re the only ones that can speak up. We have to be the adults in this situation, because clearly, people have failed us in the government. And we must make the change now.” 

Additionally, the Women's March organization is calling for students, teachers, administrators and others to take part in a school walkout for 17 minutes at 10 a.m. on March 14th. In South Florida, events have been coordinated at North Community Park in Parkland and at the School for Advanced Studies and Miami Dade College in Homestead. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>