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    Omar Rajeh moved to the United States from Syria nearly three decades ago. Now, he runs the Mediterranea Restaurant on Orange Street in New Haven.

    Upon hearing about the deadly terror attacks in Paris, Rajeh said, "what happened in Paris is a sad tragedy that's been happening in Syria for five years."

    The refugee crisis from his war-torn homeland cannot be mixed with Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris, Rajeh said.

    “I think the Syrian people have nothing to do with it,” Rajeh said, “they are very kind and lovely people, love peace, love life.”

    According to the Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services (IRIS), six Syrian refugee families have settled in New Haven. A seventh family is expected to arrive this week, IRIS Executive Director Chris George said.

    “The challenge for this country is how do we maintain a strong refugee resettlement program which saves people’s lives and at the same time not endanger our own,” George said.

    George spoke Monday on a panel at Quinnipiac University about the refugee crisis. He told students he supports Governor Dannel Malloy’s decision for Connecticut to continue accepting Syrian refugees as many governors said Monday they plan to refuse them.

    The Department of Homeland Security already has a thorough background check process in place for refugees which can take several years, George said.

    “Refugees who are allowed to enter European countries have not gone through the same kind of background check they go through before they enter the United States,” George said, “[European countries] are probably beginning to think they should.”

    Rajeh said he hopes families fleeing Syria will continue seeking refuge in the United States, while the world takes a stand against those responsible for the violence.

    “I think the best thing is for everybody is to unite as one against terrorists,” Rajeh said.

    Rajeh said he prays his three sisters still in Syria will stay safe. They live in Damascus, which is nearly 300 miles away from the ISIS stronghold of Raaqa.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    (Photo by Daniel Munoz/Getty Images)(Photo by Daniel Munoz/Getty Images)

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    Hartford police arrested a suspected bank robber and the person driving a stolen car he was in Monday after they abandoned the car and fled police on foot.

    Eric Jimenez, 35, of Hartford is facing charges in a robbery at the People's Bank at 290 Franklin Avenue and Carlos Salgado, 47, of Hartford, was also arrested following a police chase.

    Police say they responded to a hold up alarm at the People’s United Bank located at 290 Franklin Avenue around 11:15 a.m. Employees reported that the suspect handed a teller two notes. The first said “I have a gun, quiet” and the second one read “I have a gun and a bomb, give me money.”

    The teller complied and handed the suspect money from her drawer. The suspect then shoved the money into his pant pocket and fled the bank in an unknown direction.

    The suspect made off with $3,160 worth of U.S. currency. No injuries were reported. Police seized one of the hold up notes the suspect left behind as evidence.

    Police identified Jimenez as a suspect and obtained an arrest warrant. As they were trying to locate him on Monday, Wethersfield police were simultaneously investigating a bank robbery in their town that had a similar suspect description. Wethersfield police was in communication with Hartford police when the suspect vehicle, a 2003 Cadillac CTS, was spotted.

    Hartford police, U.S. Marshal Service Violent Fugitive Task Force, Hartford Shooting Task Force and Hartford patrol and community service officers tried to stop the car. They chased the vehicle briefly and then the suspects stopped abruptly and ran from the car, police said.

    Hartford police apprehended both suspects in the area of Capitol Avenue and Laurel Street. The vehicle turned out to be stolen from East Hartford, police said.

    Officers charged Jimenez with first-degree robbery and third-degree larceny and Salgado with third-degree larceny, second-degree criminal trover, engaging police in a pursuit, interfering with police, reckless driving and third-degree criminal mischief.

    Anyone with information or who recognizes the man in the photo above should contact Sgt. Rivera in the Hartford police major crimes division at (860) 757 4316.



    Photo Credit: Hartford Police Department

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    French students at the University of Connecticut are trying to cope with the Paris attacks from thousands of miles away.

    UConn student Youssouf Bellamy said it wasn't until today that he got word from his extended family members living in Paris that they are all OK.

    He said he's been beyond worried.

    "People that I work with have been absolutely supportive in terms of just how I'm actually dealing and coping with the events," Bellamy said.

    Rachid Kamal, a UConn exchange student, lives near Versailles. The city is about 30 minutes away from where the attacks took place in Paris.

    "I feel that I was far from home. You know like feeling useless. I'm married and have 2 kids and my wife is in Des Reaux, but she's safe and everything is fine," said Kamal.

    While Kamal and Bellamy's families are all safe, the situation hasn't been easy to deal with.

    "I grow up in very peaceful Islam. And I remained like silent for 30 minutes. And thought no way," said Kamal.

    Despite what Kamal's family and country are dealing with, he knows France will get through this.


    "I'm still proud to be French and we have to carry on," said Kamal.

    Both Kamal and Bellamy say they're keeping in touch with the family by phone.

    "And I will do my best to continue to support my family and everyone who is affected," said Kamal.



    Photo Credit: AP

    The Eiffel Tower is illuminated in the French colors in honor of the victims of the attacks on Friday in Paris, Nov. 16, 2015.The Eiffel Tower is illuminated in the French colors in honor of the victims of the attacks on Friday in Paris, Nov. 16, 2015.

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    An East Haven, Connecticut, mother charged with the murders of her two young children and who is suspected of poisoning them has pleaded not guilty, according to police. 

    LeRoya Moore, 36, of Strong Street in East Haven, pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and three counts of reckless endangerment in the first degree in connection with the deaths of her children, Aleisha Moore, 6, and Daaron Moore, 8.

    Police found the children's bodies when they responded to a 911 call reporting a medical emergency on June 2.

    One of LeRoya's friends called police after receiving a letter sent from the mother, saying she planned on committing suicide, the caller told 911 dispatchers.

    During a phone call with the friend, LeRoya said she'd cut herself and told the friend she couldn't come in the house because her children were lying down inside, according to the recorded calls. That's when the friend called 911.

    Police were able to get LeRoya out of the house and noticed cuts on her wrists. Inside the home, police found an active gas leak before a disturbing scene. 

    Both children, who were fully clothed and on top of a blanket on the floor, appeared to have been dead for "an extended period of time," according to police.

    "Their bodies were bloated to the point the skin appeared to be split and an odor consistent with that of human decomposition filled the residence," police said in the affidavit.

    Autopsies were performed on the children.

    However, police found 46 bottles and boxes of medication, some of which were near the children, and believe the children's deaths were the result of poisoning.

    When police spoke with LeRoya Moore, she was despondent. When police asked where the children were located, she said, "I stabbed them, I released them" and nodded when asked if she hurt her children, according to the affidavit.

    Police obtained a search and seizure warrant on June 2 to search the Moore home and found a typed document on the ground near the children's feet.

    "I don't know the reason why, but we were meant to die today," the letter signed by Moore said, "they should not be left to burden anyone because I am the only one who could love them like a mother. Not an institution or a social worker."

    She added that she let them have fun right before the end, according to court documents.

    "My older kids escaped the same fate because I was too depressed to move to make it happen," the letter went on to say.

    The Department of Children and Families has been investigating Moore since 1997 and DCF had removed the three oldest of her five children from the home by DCF, according to the arrest warrant.

    However, Aleisha and Daaron were left with their mother.

    Moore pleaded not guilty.

    After her arrest, Moore was place on a $2 million bond. She is next expected to appear in court Dec. 21.



    Photo Credit: East Haven Police and NBCConnecticut,com

    An East Haven mom,  LeRoya Moore, has been charged with the murder of her two young children.An East Haven mom, LeRoya Moore, has been charged with the murder of her two young children.

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    A Manchester High School student is facing charges and has been suspended over accusations he threatened to open fire in the school, according to police and the teenager's mother.

    Police arrested Henry Suitter, 18, of Manchester, on Friday and charged him with threatening and breach of peace. He has also been suspended from school for five days.

    Suitter told NBC Connecticut that the incident was a big misunderstanding and his mother, Sandra Suitter said it's being blown out of proportion.

    Henry Suitter said he said the comment that got him in trouble while he was frustrated and muttered something he didn't mean, "not even loudly, just enough to say it."

    "What happened was a couple of students were arguing and I made a remark towards it and they shut me out of the conversation," Suitter said, speaking exclusively with NBC Connecticut. "and I got a little flustered and I didn’t really think.... and I looked towards a friend and said like I’d shoot up the classroom."

    He said it "while everyone was talking and then the room just went dead silent," according to Suitter.

    "I'm just saying sorry for making a harsh remark out of rashness," Suitter said.

    Manchester Superintendent Matt Geary said district officials "take all threats seriously" and that student safety is a top priority, so when they learned of Suitter's remark, the school reported it to local police "and assessed the credibility of the threat." He added that they "took precautions to make sure every student was safe and going forward we will continue to insure that."

    "Student safety especially in today’s world is of the utmost importance and we take everything said or written seriously.. so for us that’s where we are at this point.," Geary said.

    Police said Suitter made the comment in one of his classes, prompting several students who overheard it to report it to the administration. School leaders

    Suitter's mother said her son regrets what he said and has apologized. She also said "he's been bullied ever since he started school there" and that she's asked "for social workers to check in on him," but that "nobody has checked on him."

    "Now this whole thing is getting blown out of proportion," Sandra Suitter said. "This is ridiculous, this stuff.... Now they want to kick him out of school which isn’t right because he’s never been in trouble ever before.... I tell them he’s the kind of kid that holds things in. You get nothing."

    She said that "everybody makes mistakes, everybody says something that they regret at times. Everybody."

    "Kid made an honest mistake. It doesn’t need to get blown out of proportion this is ridiculous," Sandra Suitter said.

    Police released Suitter from custody and he spoke to NBC Connecticut at his home Monday night.

    Meanwhile school officials have deemed that the high school students are safe and communicated the incident to parents.

    "We’re very thorough and thoughtful in processes like this for students so in every case we will be thorough and thoughtful in our approach," Geary said.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    Police are investigating a shooting death of a man in New Haven as a homicide.

    Officers responded to the area outside 49 Sherman Court to investigate reports of a person shot.

    The shooting likely occurred near 1447 Chapel Street, but the victim made it as far as Sherman Court, where he was found, police said.

    The man was pronounced dead at the scene and he hasn't been identified at this time. Police are looking into whether the victim was in an argument that may have sparked the shooting, according to police.

    Major crimes detectives responded to collect evidence.

    Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 203-946-6304.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Police are investigating a shooting death of a man in New Haven as a homicide.Police are investigating a shooting death of a man in New Haven as a homicide.

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    The father accused of throwing his 7-month-old son from a bridge into the Connecticut River and killing him and will appear in court on Tuesday.

    Police said Tony Moreno, 21, of Middletown, threw his son, Aaden, off the Arrigoni Bridge in Middletown before attempting to commit suicide by jumping off the bridge the night of July 5.

    Moreno's mother called 911 when she heard a baby cooing and crying while she was on the phone with her son, who was threatening suicide, so officers responded to the Arrigoni Bridge, according to police.

    Court paperwork revealed the message Tony Moreno gave his mother:  

    "(C)ome down to the Portland bridge and get my phone and the stroller so you have pictures of the baby," he said. "Sorry, just tell everyone I'm sorry."

    Around the same time, Moreno allegedly texted Aaden's mother, saying "there was a problem regarding our son."

    Another text said, "He's dead... And soon I will be too," the court paperwork says. 

    The final two texts were sent at 11:45 p.m., the same time Moreno's mother called 911, according to the warrant for his arrest.

    Officers who rushed to the scene arrived moments before Moreno jumped into the river.

    Police said he later admitted to throwing Aaden over the railing and Moreno was charged with murder and murder with special circumstances, as well as two counts of violating a restraining order.

    According to court paperwork, a restraining order Aaden's mother filed expired six days before Moreno jumped, and a judge denied her request to renew it.

    Moreno is being held on $2 million bond. He entered a not guilty plea, according to online court records.



    Photo Credit: Middletown Police and Silver Alert

    Tony Moreno, left, has been charged in the murder of his 7-week-old son, Aaden.Tony Moreno, left, has been charged in the murder of his 7-week-old son, Aaden.

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    The Eiffel Tower was closed once again Tuesday after workers raised security concerns in the wake of the Paris massacre, NBC News reported. 

    The closure came a day after the attraction reopened following Friday's terror attacks and was lit in colors of the French flag. 

    Despite heightened security, discussions about further safety measures were still taking place with employees, the landmark's operator Societe d'Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel (SETE) said.

    "The main subject of the talks are security measures that must be put in place to ensure that both visitors and staff are safe," a spokeswoman told NBC News.



    Photo Credit: AP

    A French soldier stands alert at the Eiffel Tower which remained closed on the first of three days of national mourning in Paris, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.A French soldier stands alert at the Eiffel Tower which remained closed on the first of three days of national mourning in Paris, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.

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    Coginchaug Regional High School is at least the second Connecticut school to postpone a trip to Washington, DC after the terror attacks in Paris last week and ISIS propaganda videos with threats to carry out another one in the District of Columbia.

    “Based on recent world events and circumstances outside of our control, the administration at Coginchaug Regional High School has made the decision to reschedule our senior class trip to Washington, DC, principal Brian Falcone said.

    Falcone said administrators have met with the senior class about the decision and will reschedule the senior class trip.

    “The rescheduling of the trip clearly aligns with our commitment to the safety and well-being of our students and faculty. These are unprecedented times and we will continue to work with and support our students,” he wrote.

    After the attacks in Paris, ISIS released propaganda videos celebrating the attacks and threatened to carry out another in Washington, D.C.

    NBC News, citing global security firm and NBC News analyst Flashpoint Intelligence, says a person who identifies as an Algerian member of ISIS said, "like France we will strike in its center in Washington," in one of those videos.

    A senior U.S. official told NBC News the video had not yet been authenticated.

    Timothy Edwards Middle School in South Windsor decided on Monday to cancel its trip to Washington, DC.


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    The Federal Bureau of Investigation and police are investigating after gunshots were fired at a mosque in Meriden two days after the terror attacks in Paris, according to police.

    Police said they responded to reports of gunshots at 410 Main St. around 10 p.m. on Sunday and found that bullets had hit Baitul Aman Mosque, which means “house of peace,” according to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community website

    When Meriden police found the bullet holes, they immediately reached out to the FBI.

    No additional information was immediately available on what happened at the mosque, which has a message up outside the building saying, "Love for All. Hatred for None, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community."

    This incident happened the day after the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks on a stadium, a concert hall and cafes on Friday that killed 129 people and wounded 352 others. 

    The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of the United States has condemned the ISIS attacks.

    “ISIS claims these attacks protect Prophet Muhammad’s honor, when in fact this does him the greatest dishonor,” Dr. Nasim Rehmatullah, National Vice President of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, said in a statement posted online. “They practice a false ideology which will be trumped only by a better ideology, which is True Islam.” 

    On Monday, a mosque in Texas was vandalized and feces and torn pages of the Quran were thrown at the door. 

    While there is no information confirming that the shots were fired in response to what happened in Paris, this is the second incident to target members of the Muslim community in Connecticut since the attacks.  

    On Saturday, a Muslim University of Connecticut student found “killed Paris” scrawled on a nametag outside his dorm room, which prompted the school to hold a demonstration to stand up against racism. 



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    An intoxicated woman was restrained on a flight from London to Boston after trying to open an exit door on Tuesday, according to the Federal Aviation Administration and Massachusetts State Police.

    British Airways Flight 213 from London-Heathrow landed at Boston's Logan International Airport on Tuesday afternoon. Police said the woman, 32-year-old Polish citizen Kamila Dolniak, was restrained and taken into custody. Investigators said they believe she was intoxicated.

    Some passengers closest to the woman said she was agitated from the beginning.

    “First impression, I thought the woman was having a panic attack," one passenger said. "They gave here three seats to lie down, then I thought she was actually having a seizure.”

    Boston resident Debby O’Leary said the woman had wanted to smoke a vapor cigarette and tried to go to the bathroom with it but was told she couldn’t.

    According to a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration, the woman tried to open an exit door and the "cockpit is secure." Massachusetts State Police initially said the woman might have tried to enter the cockpit, but tweeted a correction later Tuesday afternoon.

    Police said the woman has no known connection to terrorism.

    "The investigation to determine the facts and circumstances of the incident is ongoing by Troop F of the Massachusetts State Police, the Joint Terrorism Task Force, Customs, and the TSA," state police said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

    Dolniak has been processed by Customs and Border Protection and is being charged with interfering with a flight crew and is expected to be arraigned in East Boston District Court on Wednesday morning.

    "Our customers and crew deserve to have a safe and enjoyable flight and we do not tolerate abusive behavior. Our crew have requested that police meet the flight in Boston due to an unruly customer on board," British Airways said in a statement Tuesday.



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

    A woman is escorted off a British Airways flight from London to Boston after allegedly trying to open an exit door Tuesday, Nov. 17.A woman is escorted off a British Airways flight from London to Boston after allegedly trying to open an exit door Tuesday, Nov. 17.

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    A soccer stadium in Germany packed with thousands of fans was abruptly evacuated Tuesday night because of a "potential threat to spectators," police said, NBC News reported.

    Authorities, however, cautioned that no explosives were found and no arrests were made as people streamed out of a Germany vs. Netherlands match — the setting of the latest scare to grip Europe following Friday's wave of attacks in Paris.

    German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière declined to detail the threat during a news conference, adding that police "had good reasons" in shutting down the friendly game in the northern German city of Hanover.

    "It would have been irresponsible to let the game proceed," added Boris Pistorius, the interior minister of the German state of Lower Saxony.

    Earlier, Germany's Lower Saxony Police Chief Volker Kluwe told the nation's public broadcaster that there was "concrete evidence" that someone planned to set off explosives at the game.



    Photo Credit: AP

    German police officers search between the seats of the stadium prior to an international friendly soccer match between Germany and the Netherlands in Hannover, Germany, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. Following the Friday's  attacks in Paris, security measures have been increased for the match.German police officers search between the seats of the stadium prior to an international friendly soccer match between Germany and the Netherlands in Hannover, Germany, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. Following the Friday's attacks in Paris, security measures have been increased for the match.

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  • 11/17/15--15:47: Missing DC Teen Found Alive

  • A 16-year-old girl from Washington, D.C., has been found alive after she went missing six days earlier in the mountains of Tennessee during a group hike with her school. 

    Ava Zechiel was found just before 1 p.m. Tuesday, according to Jefferson County Sheriff Mike Reece. 

    Zechiel was hiking in Cherokee National Forest in northeast Tennessee when she became separated from other students from her boarding school around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 11, according to her father, Howard Zechiel. 

    The local sheriff's office, with help from the FBI, searched for Zechiel by land and air. Volunteer search crews also helped.

    "The search and rescue team found our girl today in the woods," the teenager's mother, Erin Zechiel, posted to a Facebook page called "Help Us Find Ava Zechiel." "She is healthy and [on] her way to us right now." 

    "You can't imagine my joy," Zechiel's mother continued.

    The county sheriff thanked the team that helped locate Zechiel. 

    "We just want to thank every person that made a call to assist, assisted in this search in anyway," Reece said in a statement. "This operation is a true example of utilizing resources, organization of task and deployment of those resources."

    Zechiel's father declined to comment to The Washington Post on the circumstances of her daughter's disappearance, but a staff member at her school told the paper the teenager had run away after refusing to hike any farther. 

    The terrain in the national forest is rugged and dangerous in parts, an investigator told NBC affiliate WBIR in Knoxville, Tennessee.

    Zechiel is a student at Freedom Mountain Academy, a wilderness-oriented boarding school for teenagers, the TV station reported.



    Photo Credit: WCYB

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    The University of North Texas in Denton is mourning the loss of a former exchange student who was among 129 killed Friday when terrorists launched a series of coordinated attacks in Paris.

    Francois Xavier Prevost, 29, of France, attended UNT in 2007, according to the university, which honored his memory during a statewide moment of silence Monday afternoon.

    "He was wonderful and happy," said UNT-International spokesperson Mary Beth Butler, who remembers Prevost from his time at the university. "He was tall and very slim. He really enjoyed everything Denton and UNT had to offer. He and his friends visited lots of places and went to the rodeo here in town at the beginning of the semester. It was wonderful to see him enjoying his experience and learning about Texas."

    Prevost was one of 89 gunned down at the Bataclan concert hall, where a California-based rock band was performing, his alma mater in France wrote on Facebook.

    He also interned in the summer of 2009 for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, according to a press release issued Monday by the Pennsylvania soccer team. At the time of his internship, Prevost was working toward a degree in international commerce and negotiations, the team said.

    "He worked with Hounds director Jason Kutney on designing layouts for a soccer-specific stadium for the team. Prevost initiated contact with Seating Solutions, the company that helped to design what ended up becoming Highmark Stadium," team officials wrote in the press release. "We offer our deepest condolences and sympathies to Prevost’s family and friends, and to everyone affected by the attacks."

    A number of UNT students gathered Monday at the university's "Peace Pole" to remember Prevost and the other victims of Friday's attacks. The "Peace Pole," which has been in place for just a few months, is inscribed with the phrase "May peace prevail on Earth," written in the seven languages spoken by the majority of UNT students.

    Current exchange student Greg Masson, of Toulouse, France, was among those in attendance. 

    "It's a lot of emotions," said Masson, who is studying English as a second language at UNT.

    Masson said his father a military member stationed in northern France. He said he is concerned his father may be deployed as France launches airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria.

    "I don't know if one day he will go to Syria. I don't know yet, but I'm afraid," he said.



    Photo Credit: University of North Texas in Denton

    Francois Xavier Prevost, a former exchange student at the University of North Texas in Denton, was killed in Friday's terror attacks in Paris.Francois Xavier Prevost, a former exchange student at the University of North Texas in Denton, was killed in Friday's terror attacks in Paris.

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    Photo Credit: Facebook/LinkedIn/Families of Valentin Ribet and Michelli Gil Jaimez
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

    Nohemi Gonzalez, Nick Alexander, Valentin Ribet and Michelli Gil Jaimez.Nohemi Gonzalez, Nick Alexander, Valentin Ribet and Michelli Gil Jaimez.

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    Five days have passed since Christine McGugan, 48, of Stonington, disappeared after leaving the hospital in New London and a friend has been posting missing person fliers between New Haven and Providence. 

    McGugan, the mother of three daughters, disappeared on Thursday, Nov. 12. 

    Police said she was last seen wearing a gray sweater and black tights.

    She is 5-foot-4, weighs 110 pounds and has red hair and brown eyes.

    She might be driving a green 2003 Chevy Tahoe.

    Stonington police ask anyone with information to call 860-599-4411.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    State police have issued a Silver Alert for a missing Stonington woman.State police have issued a Silver Alert for a missing Stonington woman.

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    A busy section of Route 66 (Washington Street) in Middletown was shut down Tuesday after a serious collision between a car and motorcycle at the Pearl Street intersection.

    Geoffrey Morgan, 29, of Middletown, was driving a 2015 Victory motorcycle westbound on Washington Street toward Pearl Street and went into the oncoming lane to pass other vehicles heading westbound when the Nissan Maxima James Woodcock, 53, of Hartford, collided with the motorcyclist as he crossed Washington Street (Route 66) off of Pearl Street, police said. 

    An ambulance transported Morgan to Hartford Hospital to be treated for serious injuries and Woodcock wasn't hurt.

    Police ask witnesses to contact Officer Michael Inglis of the Middletown Police Department's Traffic Unit at 860-638-4063.

    Route 66 reopened at about 5 p.m.


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    A freshman on the Notre Dame High School girls basketball team died Monday after collapsing at practice, the president of the Sherman Oaks, California, school said in a statement.

    Nikki Valdez was observing practice after classes when she "suddenly collapsed," according to the statement from Brett Lowart. She was treated by paramedics and rushed to Sherman Oaks Hospital. Attempts to revive her were unsuccessful.

    "My daughter was a vivacious 14-year-old girl," Adam Valdez, father of Nikki, said. "She was loving and she will be missed."

    Valdez told NBC4 that she had no preconditions.

    "She was the apple of my eye. She was daddy's girl," Valdez said.

    Her coach, teammates and members of the school staff were at the hospital when her death was announced, Lowart said.

    "We are still trying to figure out what happened," Lowart said.

    Grief counseling was made available to students, and a prayer service was set to be held Tuesday in the gym after fifth period.

    "The Notre Dame community will assuredly come together in faith, as it always does, to comfort and support the Valdez family and one another. Thank you very much for your prayers," the statement said.

    Valdez, a member of the Class of 2019, was also a cross-country track runner, and has an older brother who also attends Notre Dame High.

    Notre Dame High is a co-ed Catholic college preparatory school.

    "We are mourning," Valdez said. "Life has dealt us a difficult blow."
     



    Photo Credit: Notre Dame High School

    Nikki Valdez in an undated photo posted on the Notre Dame High School website.Nikki Valdez in an undated photo posted on the Notre Dame High School website.

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    A 27-year-old New Haven man who was found dead on a rural road in Bethany early Sunday morning had been shot several times, according to state police.

    Police found Joel Suero around 4:30 a.m. on Sunday, just below a steep curve on Wooding Hill Road, which is surrounded by woods.

    Over the weekend, police said they were looking into whether Suero was hit by a car, but the office of the chief medical examiner has ruled his death a homicide. 

    Anyone with information is asked to call State Police Troop I in Bethany at 203-393-4200 or text "tip711" to 236748.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    A man found dead on Wooding Hill Road in Bethany was killed and died from several gunshot wounds.A man found dead on Wooding Hill Road in Bethany was killed and died from several gunshot wounds.

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    Four people were removed from a Chicago-bound flight Tuesday morning after a passenger reported "suspicious" behavior as the plane taxied to the runway. 

    Spirit Airlines Flight 969 was leaving Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport when "a passenger alerted a flight attendant of a passenger engaged in suspicious activity on board," airlines spokesman Stephen Schuler said.

    Maryland Transportation Authority Police spokesman 1st Sgt. Jonathan Green told NBC Chicago the passenger saw another passenger "watching a media report at that time and that's what concerned her."

    Green said the captain asked police to remove three men and a woman from the plane. Those people were interviewed and later released, he said.

    Multiple passengers told NBC Chicago the people removed from the plane appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent.

    Witnesses said the incident all started after a woman on the flight was seen running from her seat to the back of the plane. 

    "All of a sudden a woman got up when we were about to take off and she just ran, ran right to the back of the plane and the flight attendants were on the PA saying, 'Ma’am please slow down, you have to slow down,'" said passenger Jenna Farelli. "I started praying to God."

    Shortly after, passengers said the pilot told them the flight was being escorted back to the terminal and law enforcement was going to come onto the plane.

    "It was like the scariest moment of my life," said Farelli. "The plane stopped immediately and then they went to taxi us back and the pilot said that everyone remain calm, that you have to stay in your seat and law enforcement is going to be on the plane. Of course we’re all freaking out. It’s just super silent on the plane."

    Officers then entered the plane, questioned three people and escorted them off the plane before coming back and asking one more passenger to leave, according to witnesses. 

    "There was no question at all, no talking at all, [the passengers] grabbed their bags and got off the plane," said passenger Spencer Padgett.

    "The passengers that were called off certainly handled it well," said witness Tilesha Northern. "I would perceive it as something one could have gotten offended about."

    All passengers were eventually deplaned after the incident.

    "This basically was a see something, say something situation," Green said, adding that the flight's delay was "in the interest of public safety."

    Once the Transportation Security Administration cleared the plane and luggage, the flight departed for Chicago's O'Hare International Airport after 9 a.m., according to Schuler. It had been scheduled to leave at 6 a.m.

    "You just never know and I definitely don’t fault Spirit," said passenger Frank Sheffield. "I’m glad for the inconvenience. I’d rather be a little late. At least we got here."


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