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    A man was caught on camera breaking into a Hebron home and stealing what the homeowner said was Christmas present and jewelry, including presents for a family in need that she was supporting this holiday season.

    “They know it’s little kids that are going to be affected by that . Where is the morality of people that can do that,” said homeowner Maria KcKeon.

    But in true Christmas spirit, the community has stepped up in force.

    After the burglary, a neighbor, whom McKeon had never met, reached out to Something Simple Café in Hebron asking if the popular spot could help. Owner Jessica Dapsis emailed McKeon, who told her about the family she’s assisting.

    “It really just touched me and she asked if donations could go to them instead,” Dapsis said.

    Dapsis put a post on the on the Something Simple Café Facebook page on Dec. 12 and the response was extraordinary. Donations flooded a bin set up inside the café, nearby tables and the floor.

    “Within about four days, it was overflowing. Maria came and picked up the first (batch of donations) and within two more days, I had to call her (to come again). We had one person come in with—it was probably like 10 bags of wrapped presents labeled for the kids. It was unbelievable,” Dapsis said.

    Dapsis said she’s been offering free coffee or hot coca to people who donate. Many don’t even accept it.

    “Hebron really is just one of those communities that when something happens, people step up and really try and support each other,” she said.

    People have also been coming into the café from out of town to donate.

    A manager at Savers in Manchester told NBC Connecticut the store has extended an offer to help clothe the family.

    Besides Christmas presents, donations also included gently used clothes—like winter coats—a car seat and more than $1,000 in gift cards and cash to help with expenses like utility bills, according to McKeon.

    She’s also raised more than $1,100 on Facebook from people all across the country.

    “The family is overwhelmed because the kids have never really had a Christmas before,” McKeon said. “She didn’t even have stockings, she didn’t even have wrapping paper!”

    New donations Wednesday revealed Christmas wreaths and a small tree.

    McKeon said the family is a mom, a 10-year-old boy, and girls ages five, three and a newborn. The mom was just diagnosed with a serious heart condition.

    Tom Reiley, of Glastonbury, pulled $10 out of his pocked to help at Something Simple Café Wednesday before even hearing the full story.

    “There’s some real Grinches out there and despicable people that actually give the Grinch a good name,” Reiley said.



    Photo Credit: Maria McKeon

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    If you’re thinking about using a ride-sharing app during your holiday travels, Uber and Lyft drivers plan to strike in the state on Friday.

    They say while fares for customers haven’t really changed recently, the drivers’ share has.

    With one son and a baby girl on the way, Uber driver Guillermo Estrella is worried after he says his earnings recently plunged.

    “It’s going to be tough to get presents for the family, you know,” says Estrella.

    On Wednesday, the Branford father says he picked up rides for ten hours and made $96, about a third less than he’s used to.

    “My wife doesn’t speak much English and she come from another country. And we try to make a living. In the meantime, it’s a little bit tough,” says Estrella.

     

    Estrella and others blame Uber for adjusting how it pays out for rides a couple of weeks ago.

    Drivers say now they make a little more per minute.

    But they say that doesn’t make up for the drop in the rate they’re paid per mile, which went from 82 cents to 65 cents.

    “The customer like Uber because it’s very cheap for the customer. But for the driver it’s very, very bad business now. Very, very bad business,” says Carlos Gomez.

    That’s why Gomez is helping to organize a strike in the state of drivers for Uber and Lyft, which drivers complain also pays too little.

    On Friday from 6:00am until 11:00pm, they’re hoping hundreds of drivers turn off their ride-share apps and will rally at four locations including at train stations in New Haven, Hartford and Stamford, as well as Bradley Airport.

    They’re fighting for better rates for drivers, benefits and a limit on the number of drivers.

    “To show the company, you know, we need this thing to make a chance to be doing things better for our families,” said Estrella.

    Now in a statement, a representative of Lyft told us, “We strive to ensure drivers can maximize their earnings and are committed to helping them succeed."

    Lyft says it recently changed drivers’ rates to place more value on time than distance, though the company argues earnings should remain about the same.

    We have not yet heard back from Uber.



    Photo Credit: WNBC TV

    Uber and Lyft ride-share.Uber and Lyft ride-share.

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    Crews are responding to a fire at an apartment complex in the City of Groton on Wednesday night.

    The City of Groton Fire Department is responding to a fire within the Branford Manor Complex.

    Officers from the City of Groton Police Department are responding as well.

    There is no word on what may have started the fire.

    NBC Connecticut has a crew headed to the scene and will update this story as details become available.



    Photo Credit: Stringr.com

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    The tragic and senseless deaths of a young girl in West Hartford and a 12-year-old boy in Bridgeport this week have devastated families in both communities. And it has left parents across the state wondering if they should talk to their own children about what happened and what exactly they should say.

    "There's no way that you can prepare for a loss like this. There's no way," said Quinnipiac University Assistant Professor of Psychiatry Dr. Jeffrey Deitz.

    Dr. Deitz says the reaction a child has depends on the age, previous experiences, and the relationship between the child and the victim.

    "You express yourself in a way that lets your child know that you're interested in knowing what's going on inside them," said Dr. Deitz.

    He adds that children may express a range of emotions like anger, indifference, sadness, and confusion.

    "Let us listen to how they're talking and keep an open mind because trauma can affect everybody in a different way," said Dr. Deitz.

    Dr. Deitz says it can help to phrase your questions in the form of statements. Instead of asking "How are you feeling?" say "I'm interested in knowing how you're feeling." He says it's important to not only hear what your child is saying, but how they're saying it. Is there anger? Is there sadness behind the question?

    Dr. Deitz adds that a child may not want to talk right away and that's okay. Experts say any unsafe feelings a child may have should go away in a short period of time, but that parents shouldn't ignore or brush off any expressions of anxiety.

    “If your child says to you right after this, ‘I'm afraid to walk to the store,’ walk to the store with your child,” said Dr. Deitz.

    By listening and paying attention, families can get through those difficult moments together.

    "Once a child opens up and starts to talk, the best thing you can do is sit back and let it happen. That's all children will tell you, 'I just like so much that someone would listen,'" said Dr. Deitz.



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    Officials are investigating after they said a threat was made during the school day at Southington High School on Wednesday.

    According to an email sent out by school officials on Wednesday night, a student made a statement in class indicating intent to access a weapon and kill someone.

    Several classmates and teachers heard the comment and referred it to administration, who then contacted the Southington Police Department for an investigation, the Superintendent of Schools Timonthy Connellan said.

    Connellan said appropriate disciplinary action has been administered.

    There was an increased police presence at the school on Wednesday after a rumor of a threat against the school. Connellan said the threat was not real, but the added security was out of an abundance of caution.

    After investigating, police determined the rumor was started after student discussions at school about an incident last week involving a racist video that was posted online, according to Connellan.



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    Facebook again aimed to convince its 2.3 billion users that it didn't allow more than 150 other companies to misuse their personal data on Wednesday night after its valuation fell by more than $28 billion on the stock market, NBC News reported.

    "In the past day, we've been accused of disclosing people's private messages to partners without their knowledge," said Ime Archibong, Facebook's vice president of product partnerships, in a post on the company's blog. "That's not true — and we wanted to provide more facts about our messaging partnerships."

    It's the second blog post from the company since The New York Times reported Tuesday that Facebook for many years gave more than 150 companies extensive access to personal data. The post focused narrowly on the contention in the Times report that emerged as the most controversial: that Facebook gave four companies access to read, write and delete users' messages.

    Archibong said the companies — Spotify, Netflix, Dropbox and the Royal Bank of Scotland — were granted automated access to users' messages so Facebook users could send Facebook messages to other Facebook users without leaving the Spotify, Netflix, Dropbox or Royal Bank apps.



    Photo Credit: Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images, File

    In this undated file photo, the Facebook logo is displayed on a smartphone.In this undated file photo, the Facebook logo is displayed on a smartphone.

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    Route 15 North in Hartford was closed for a short time after a crash between exits 89 and 90 and state police said minor injuries are reported. 

    There are heavy delays on Interstate 91 North in Hartford, Wethersfield and Rocky Hill because of the crash.



    Photo Credit: CT DOT

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    A new study out Wednesday found that nearly twice as many children died from gun injuries in 2016 than from cancer, making guns the second-leading killer of children in the U.S., NBC News reported.

    Only car crashes killed more children than guns, and the U.S. gun fatality rate for children — which rose 28 percent between 2013 and 2016 — is 36 times higher than in other developed nations, according to the study from a team at the University of Michigan's Injury Prevention Center .

    The nation is failing to protect children, wrote the executive editor of the New England Journal of Medicine in an editorial that accompanied the report.

    "Children in America are dying or being killed at rates that are shameful," Dr. Edward Campion wrote.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images, File

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    Naugatuck police said they have found a 13-year-old boy who has been missing since last night, thanks to assistance from the media.

    Nathaniel Miranda’s family said he told them he was going to walk the dog, but did  not return and his cell phone was turned off.

    Police said Thursday morning that he has been found and he is safe.



    Photo Credit: Naugatuck Police

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    The State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Danbury has found that the officer who shot and killed a man while responding to a disturbance call in New Milford in August 2017 was justified in using deadly force

    New Milford police responded to Outlook Road around 4:50 p.m. on Aug. 28, 2017 after receiving a disturbance call and a man who came out of the residence was holding a shotgun, ignored officers' requests to talk and ran into the woods with the gun, state police said.

    Police and K9 units searched the woods but the man, identified as Kostatinos (Gus) Sfaelos, came out of the woods on his own, still carrying the weapon, and approached officers, according to state police.

    A New Milford officer, identified as Christopher Hayes, fired at least once and struck 62-year-old Sfaelos after he refused to drop the gun, Connecticut State Police said.

    Sfaelos was taken to Danbury Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

     

    You can read the full report here. https://www.ct.gov/csao/cwp/view.asp?a=1802&q=606900#Circumstances



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    Police have responded to what they called “a minor assault with an edged weapon” in Hartford and they are looking for a suspect.

    It happened on Laurel Street, but no additional information was immediately available.

    Police said they have identified a suspect and are looking for the person.



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    Police said they found no credible threat, but there will be an increased police presence at Southington High School as a precaution today after a student made a threat Wednesday, according to police

    Police said the Southington High School student became upset around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday and said he was going to bring a gun to school the following day. 

    Southington Police investigated and the student admitted that he said it, knew it was wrong, and did not have any intention of bringing a weapon to school.

    The student was referred to the juvenile court. 

    Around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, the school superintendent contacted police to report that two parents expressed concerns about a threat to the school and police determined that they were related to the threat the student made earlier, police said.

    Authorities said they found no credible threat to the school, but there will be an increased police presence at Southington High School as a precaution and to alleviate anxiety on the students and staff and “so that the school may continue in a positive educational environment.”



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon tweeted Thursday morning that he is temporarily stepping away from the football field to focus on his mental health.

    "I take my mental health very seriously at this point to ensure I remain able to perform at the highest level," Gordon said. "I have recently felt like I could have a better grasp on things mentally. With that said, I will be stepping away from the football field for a bit to focus on my mental health."

    Gordon went on to thank coach Bill Belichick, owner Robert Kraft and "countless others" within the Patriots organization for their continued support.

    "I want to thank my fans for their support as well as I continue down the path getting back to 100%," he added.

    The NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reports that Gordon is facing an indefinite suspension for violating terms of his reinstatement under the league's substance abuse policy.

    The Patriots issued a statement Thursday morning saying, "We support Josh Gordon in his continued efforts to focus on his health. His attempt to do so is a private and personal matter, which we intend to respect."

    In 11 games for the Patriots this year, Gordon caught 40 passes for 720 yards — the most on the team — to go along with three touchdowns.

    The Patriots traded a fifth-round draft pick to the Cleveland Browns for Gordon in September. The deal came together just days after the Browns said they had reached a breaking point with the star wide receiver, who has been suspended numerous times by the NFL for drug violations since he was drafted in 2012.

    Gordon's tantalizing talent led the Browns to hang onto him as he dealt with drug and alcohol dependence dating back to his teens.

    In his second season, Gordon led the league with 1,646 yards receiving and scored nine touchdowns, including an 80-yard TD catch against the Patriots, turning a short catch into an electrifying run on which he made New England's defenders appear to be standing still.

    But that was in 2013, and Gordon has played in just 11 games since because of his off-field issues.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images
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    Josh Gordon #10 of the New England Patriots walks on the field during warmups for the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on October 29, 2018 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)Josh Gordon #10 of the New England Patriots walks on the field during warmups for the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on October 29, 2018 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

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    The Justice Department has concluded that Matt Whitaker, appointed by President Donald Trump as the acting attorney general, had no reason to recuse and is overseeing Robert Mueller's special counsel investigation, a person familiar with the decision on Thursday told NBC News

    Formal notice of his role was expected to come in a letter to congressional Democrats who had said his critical comments about the Mueller investigation, made when he was a conservative commentator, require him to recuse — that is, to take himself out of any supervision of the case.

    His predecessor, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, recused himself because he was an active campaigner for then-presidential candidate Trump. 

    In a letter to the Justice Department's top ethics officer in November, seven Democratic leaders said, "Mr. Whitaker's statements indicate a clear bias against the investigation that would cause a reasonable person to question his impartiality."



    Photo Credit: AP, File

    FILE - In this April 24, 2014, file photo, then-Iowa Republican senatorial candidate and former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker watches before a live televised debate in Johnston, Iowa. Maryland is challenging the appointment of Matthew Whitaker as the new U.S. acting attorney general. A draft filing obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press argues that President Donald Trump sidestepped the Constitution and normal procedure by naming Whitaker to the position in place of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)FILE - In this April 24, 2014, file photo, then-Iowa Republican senatorial candidate and former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker watches before a live televised debate in Johnston, Iowa. Maryland is challenging the appointment of Matthew Whitaker as the new U.S. acting attorney general. A draft filing obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press argues that President Donald Trump sidestepped the Constitution and normal procedure by naming Whitaker to the position in place of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

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    A Massachusetts woman fatally shot by her estranged husband as she was heading to work Wednesday told a friend the night before she was killed that she was afraid of what he might do to her, officials said.

    A judge ordered 55-year-old Emilio Matarazzo, of Peabody, to be held without bail during his arraignment Thursday on a murder charge in connection with the slaying of Ersilia Cataldo Matarazzo of Everett.

    Prosecutors said in court Thursday that Emilio spoke to his son on the phone about 10 minutes after the shooting, telling him, "What is done is done."

    The night before she died, prosecutors said Ersilia told a friend she was afraid of what Emilio might do to her.

    Prosecutors said Ersilia told her family last month that Emilio had been violent with her, at one point strangling her. He also reportedly showed up at a holiday party earlier this month at the church where Ersilia worked and caused a scene, refusing to leave.

    Ersilia recently turned 50 and prosecutors said that for her birthday, Emilio sent her a $20,000 check in an attempt to win her back. But she mailed the check back to him.

    Emilio Matarazzo reportedly turned himself in to Everett police about two hours after he allegedly shot and killed his estranged wife. Prosecutors said when officers asked Emilio how it was going, he replied, "Not good."

    Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said Everett officers responded to a home on Central Avenue after receiving a call around 8:40 a.m. for a report of shots fired. When police arrived, they found Ersilia Matarazzo's body inside a car in the home's driveway with multiple gunshot wounds.

    A neighbor said she heard four gunshots followed by screams.

    "After the four gunshots, I heard screaming. A woman screaming," she said.

    The couple was in the process of getting divorced, and Emilio Matarazzo was licensed to carry a firearm, according to Ryan. There was neither a previous court history nor a restraining order filed between the two, Ryan added.

    Ersilia Cataldo Matarazzo appeared to have been on her way to work at St. Anthony's Church, where she had worked for about 20 years, according to Everett police. She had a large extended family in the city of Everett and was the mayor's second cousin.

    Those who knew Ersilia Matarazzo, a mother of three, are at a loss for words.

    "I don't even know what to think," said one woman who was in the Everett High School band with Ersilia. "[Ersilia was] quiet, nice. Just a nice, nice person."

    Everett Police Chief Steve Mazzie said Ersilia Matarazzo was a "well-known, well-liked, well-respected" member of the community with deep roots in the city just north of Boston.

    "She’s an angel now, but she was taken far too soon," Ersilia Matarazzo's former high school classmate said.

    It's unknown if Emilio Matarazzo has an attorney.

    The investigation into the deadly shooting is ongoing.

    DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HELP: The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or 800-787-3224 (TTY) provides people in distress, or those around them, with 24-hour support.



    Photo Credit: Katy Rogers/NBC10 Boston
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    Left: Ersilia Cataldo Matarazzo; Right: Emilio MatarazzoLeft: Ersilia Cataldo Matarazzo; Right: Emilio Matarazzo

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    Undocumented immigrants seeking asylum in the United States will be told to wait in Mexico while their claims are processed, according to a new U.S. policy to which Mexico has agreed.

    Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen explained the new process in remarks to Congress Thursday, saying undocumented immigrants without the proper documentation will have to await approval to come into the U.S. until they are granted asylum by a U.S. judge. 

    "They will not be able to disappear into the U.S.," Nielsen said of those asking the U.S. for protection due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a social group.

    "They will have to wait for approval to come into the United States. If they are granted asylum by a U.S. judge, they will be welcomed into America. If they are not, they will be removed to their home countries."

    Neilsen said that Mexican officials have agreed to this policy change and the decision was a historic one for the country, which has traditionally refused to accept the return of any migrants who aren't Mexican.

    Mexico's Foreign Relations Department said Thursday the move is a temporary, humanitarian measure. The country will offer visas for those seeking asylum in the U.S. to stay on Mexican soil and apply for work and other government protections.

    Under current policy, people eligible for asylum may be permitted to remain in the U.S. and file for asylum within one year of their arrival. 

    Last week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said the agency has experienced a 121 percent increase in the number of asylum seekers at ports of entry across the U.S. 

    Almost 93,000 claims were processed by the CBP in the fiscal year 2018, a spokesperson told NBC 7 San Diego. 

    Applicants currently may be released into the U.S., often with ankle monitors, while their cases wind through an overwhelmed system of immigration courts.

    Jackie Wasiluk with CBP Public Affairs said the port of entry facilities were not designed to hold hundreds of people at a time while they seek asylum. She added that the agency is also charged with monitoring trade and travel and keeping illicit goods and drugs from crossing into the U.S.

    Judges granted asylum in 21 percent of their cases in the 2018 fiscal year, according to the Associated Press.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.



    Photo Credit: NBC News

    Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen explained how Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen explained how "out of control" the situation has become at the border.

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    The mayor of an Alaskan town and her elderly mother were killed after they were struck by a tour bus near the National Mall in downtown D.C. Wednesday night, police say.

    The crash happened just before 10 p.m. near the National Archives building at 700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. The Eyre bus was making a left turn onto Pennsylvania Avenue when it struck Monica Adams Carlson and her mother, 85-year-old Cora Louise Adams, as they were in the crosswalk, the Metropolitan Police Department said.

    Both women were taken to the hospital, where they died of their injuries. 

    Carlson, 61, was the mayor of Skagway, Alaska, a town about 100 miles north of  Juneau with a population of about 1,100 people. Carlson was a write-in candidate who was elected to a 2-year term in 2017, according to the town's radio station KHNS-FM. 

    Carlson's mother was a resident of the lakeside town of Elbe in Washington state.

    Video from Wednesday's scene showed a tour bus parked on the street near a large area that was taped off by police.

    Several police cruisers had their lights on and officers could be seen stepping inside the bus.

    No further information about the crash has been released. 

    Eyre Bus, Tour & Travel, the company that operates the tour bus, released a statement expressing their sympathy to the family. 

    "We are cooperating fully with authorities in the investigation of this incident. Eyre places the safe transportation of our customers as well as those we share the road with as our number one priority." the statement went on to say. 

    It's not clear whether the traffic lights were red or green at the time. Police are reviewing traffic camera video, and the driver of the bus is cooperating with their investigation. 

    Blaine Mero, office administrator for the Skagway Chamber of Commerce, says locals are in shock and grief over the news.

    Police say the crash was very similar to an incident that claimed the lives of two woman on Feb. 14, 2007. The woman were hit and killed by a Metrobus in the same intersection. Metro settled a lawsuit with one of the victim's husbands for more than $2 million. DDOT added a left-turn lane and left-turn arrow to the intersection following the crash. 

    The Associated Press contributed to this report



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

    Monica Adams Carlson was the mayor of Skagway, Alaska, a town about 100 miles north of Juneau with a population of about 1,100 people.Monica Adams Carlson was the mayor of Skagway, Alaska, a town about 100 miles north of Juneau with a population of about 1,100 people.

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    A Mexican national accused of sexually assaulting a college student in Fairfield in 2014 is in custody after he was found in Mexico City.

    Edibaldo “Eddie” Duran, 29, is accused of a home invasion and sexual assault on Sept. 1, 2014.

    Police said the victim was sleeping and the only person home at the time that Duran broke in around 3 a.m. that morning and she woke when he beat her, sexually assaulted her and choked her to the point where she lost consciousness, according to police.

    Police identified Duran as a suspect and learned that he boarded an AeroMexico flight that left from JFK at 12:45 a.m. on Sept. 5, 2014 and arrived in Mexico City at 5:08 a.m. that morning.

    On Wednesday, the U.S. Marshal Service, District of Connecticut, took Duran into custody in Mexico City, where he was extradited under an international extradition to Connecticut and Fairfield Police Detectives took him into custody at 8 p.m., then transported him to Fairfield, where he was formally charged with home invasion, aggravated sexual assault in the first degree, strangulation in the first degree, assault in the first degree, unlawful restraint in the first degree, and larceny in the sixth degree.

    He was held on $250,000 court-ordered bond.



    Photo Credit: Fairfield Police

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    Pier 1 will be closing the store in Cheshire next year.

    “As a matter of practice, we do everything we can to support our associates during this time of transition,” the company said in a statement.

    A statement from the company said the store will close in April 2019.

    “Pier 1 continually reviews new and existing store locations to make sure we’re operating as efficiently as possible. Where necessary, based on that review, we make the strategic business decision to close certain locations on a case-by-case basis,” the company’s emailed statement said. 

    “We care about our shoppers in the Cheshire area and have enjoyed serving them over the years,” the company said in an email. “We look forward to serving them at our other area locations in Meriden, CT on South Broad St., Hamden, CT on Dixwell Ave and online at pier1.com.”



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    A file photo of a Pier 1 Imports store in Chicago, Illinois.A file photo of a Pier 1 Imports store in Chicago, Illinois.

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    As President Donald Trump struggles to get funding for his wall along the southern border, a wounded veteran is trying to crowdsource money himself — and it's rapidly gaining stream, though it's got a long way to go until it gets to its $1 billion goal.

    The "We The People Will Fund The Wall" campaign on GoFundMe had raised more than $5.5 million as of Thursday and was gaining hundreds of thousands of dollars by the hour as the president continues to press Congress to fund his signature campaign promise.

    The GoFundMe campaign is led by Brian Kolfage, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force who lost three limbs in an explosion in Iraq in 2004.

    "If we can fund a large portion of this wall, it will jumpstart things and will be less money Trump has to secure from our politicians," he wrote.

    The page collects donations through GoFundMe but also lists an address for Kolfage where people can send checks, made payable to GoFund The Wall. The page attempts to answer several questions about the project's trustworthiness, including whether it's a scam — Kolfage asserts he uses his real name and information, so he's accountable. It meets GoFundMe's terms of service, a spokesman said.

    The page also says that organizers are contacting the Trump administration to secure a place where the money can be sent when the goal is reached and cites private donations for a recent restoration of the Washington Monument as precedent. The White House did immediately respond to a request for comment.

    "We will hold all funds and not release a single penny until we have all legal aspects covered to ensure our money goes only to the wall," the GoFundMe page says, adding that all the money would be refunded "if we don't reach our goal or come significantly close."

    Kolfage hasn't responded to a request for an interview, but he told The Washington Post that his campaign was "giving the people the power."

    A Facebook page touted on the GoFundMe as the campaign's official one stopped working on Thursday. NBC has reached out to Facebook for comment, but has yet to receive a reply.

    Kolfage has previously had activity banned on Facebook. According to a post he wrote on the Right Wing News website in October, Facebook took down the outlet's verified page, which Kolfage managed, as part of a crackdown on disinformation ahead of the midterm elections. He called it a "malicious coordinated" attack on what he and others have fought for.

    Kolfage lost his legs and part of his right arm in a mortar explosion while serving as an airman in Iraq. He received a Purple Heart and, after he began giving back to the community, the Wounded Warrior Project's George C. Lang award for courage.

    He attended the 2012 State of the Union address with former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who the year before called him a friend and an inspiration in her recovery from being shot in the head.

    Trump has been seeking $5 billion for his border wall in this year's budget, which only allocates $1.3 billion for it. He's threatened to shut down the government, whose funding runs out Friday night, and called Republicans to the White House Thursday for crisis talks on a bill that would keep the government funded through the first week of February.

    The money Kolfage has raised so far on GoFundMe is less than 1 percent of the campaign's goal, Kolfage wrote on the page, though giving has sped up as it's gotten more news coverage.

    He wrote that he's trying to have GoFundMe raise the maximum goal of $1 billion and calculated that, "If the 63 million people who voted for Trump each pledge $80, we can build the wall." That would be total over $5 billion, enough to cover a year of the funding Trump is seeking.

    The Better Business Bureau recommends that people hoping to assess whether a GoFundMe campaign is a scam or not reach out to GoFundMe on this site or the organizer themselves through the envelope next to their name. Anyone can report the campaign as well.

    Charity Navigator, which evaluates nonprofits, suggests several ways to learn more about fundraisers.



    Photo Credit: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images, File

    This Oct. 5, 2017, file photo shows prototype sections of a border wall between Mexico and the United States under construction near Tijuana, Mexico.This Oct. 5, 2017, file photo shows prototype sections of a border wall between Mexico and the United States under construction near Tijuana, Mexico.

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