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    A Farmington police officer shot and killed a man after responding to a domestic dispute call late Thursday night.

    According to state police, Farmington officers responded to 3 Butternut Drive around 10:45 p.m. after a 911 caller reported a violent confrontation between a father and a son at the residence.

    When officers arrived, they found 43-year-old Gregory Bendas standing in the street, holding a gun. Police ordered Bendas to drop the gun, but he didn't listen, according to investigators.

    Bendas raised the gun at officers in a threatening manner, police said, and an officer fired at Bendas, killing him.

    According to court documents, Bendas has been convicted of assault twice since 2012.  He also suffered from mental health issues, police said.

    The Connecticut State Police Central District Major Crime Squad and the Hartford State's Attorney have taken over the shooting investigation.

    The officer who fired the shots has been placed on administrative duty, which is standard procedure after an officer-involved shooting.

    Any witnesses to the shooting or anyone with information in this case are asked to call Farmington Police at 860-675-2400.

     



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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  • 12/13/13--14:11: Winter Storm Warnings Issued

  • Winter storm warnings have been issued for most of the state ahead of a storm that will bring significant snow to Connecticut this weekend.

    Light snow is expected to fall during the day on Saturday and some minor accumulation is likely.

    The heaviest snow will fall as evening approaches on Saturday, and driving conditions will deteriorate quickly when the sun goes down.

    Areas in northern Connecticut could see 8 inches or more of snow by the time the storm moves out on Sunday.  Central Connecticut will likely see 6-8 inches of snow, while the shoreline in eastern Connecticut will see anywhere from 3-6 inches.

    See the full forecast here.

    Sign up to receive closings and delays sent to your phone.

    Share your weather photos with us by sending them to shareit@nbcconnecticut.com



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    A Chicago animal shelter is under investigation after 1,200 cats were found unaccounted for and complaints alleged dozens others were being kept in inhumane conditions.

    The investigation of North Riverside-based Purrs From the Heart was sparked in September by a written complaint to the city that prompted Animal Care and Control to ban the shelter from taking additional cats out of the pound, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune.

    The shelter adopts cats from Chicago Animal Care and Control and places them in foster homes around the city to avoid euthanization.

    A report shows as many as 150 cats were left at a South Side apartment at a given time, and the tenants were paid $150 each week to care for the animals until the foster agreement soured.

    Purrs From the Heart founders told the Tribune several animals fostered at the location were adopted or sick when they arrived. They acknowledged they found out some cats in the apartment were killed or starved but said the blame falls on the tenants they paid to care for the fostered animals.

    Officials said no cats were ultimately found at that location and one other location the shelter claimed to have sent a large number of cats. Neither location was authorized to provide shelter for the animals, the Tribune reported.

    In total officials speculate that as many as 1,200 cats could be missing from multiple locations. 

    Founder Brian Przybylski told the Tribune he blames the city because Chicago officials knew the shelter was foster-based. Przybylski alleges they allowed too many people to rescue cats under his organization’s name, the Tribune reported.

    The owners reportedly plan to close the shelter by the end of the year, citing their own health and family problems, and intend to transfer remaining cats they have in their care to other city shelters.

    If investigators believe a criminal offense took place, the case could be referred to the state’s attorney’s office and the shelter could face administrative penalties from the Agriculture Department for violating the state’s Animal Welfare Act.


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    A Southern California woman mourning the death of her husband finally mustered up the strength to cancel his cell phone plan, only to find the phone company would give her the runaround.

    Judy Silk’s husband, Daniel Cogan, died in November from colon cancer. As she began to put his finances in order, she realized she needed to cancel his T-Mobile plan.

    “They asked me if I had a PIN number and I said no,” Silk told NBC4. “And they said, ‘What’s the last number he called in the last seven days?’ And I said, ‘Well, he passed away a month ago.’”

    T-Mobile’s customer service suggested she go to a store, but the store employees couldn’t help her either, she said.

    Silk even offered to send the company a copy of her husband’s death certificate, but she said the manager on the other end of the phone said they could only cancel with a PIN number.

    “They said to me, why did I wait a month to call them, that it would've been easier if I would've called sooner,” Silk said. “I said I had a few things going on than to call T-Mobile."

    The same day NBC4 contacted T-Mobile regarding Silk’s situation, T-Mobile canceled her husband’s account.

    Silk got the call from T-Mobile while she was being interviewed by NBC4.

    “Hello?” she answered. “Great. And the phone is canceled, thank you.”

    The phone company representative told SIlk they noticed they charged her for the prepaid account two times, once in November and once in December. Silk was offered a refund and was appreciative, but she had some words left to say.

    “"It was really painful for me to have to make the call and painful for me to have to go through arguing with your supervisors and managers and be told that it was too hard for them to do because I waited a month,” she said on the call. “It's just not right.”

     



    Photo Credit: Judy Silk

    Judy Silk, shown at left, says her cell phone company gave her a hard time when she tried to cancel her husband's account one month after he died. The company called her to cancel the plan while NBC4 interviewed her on Friday, Dec. 13, 2013.Judy Silk, shown at left, says her cell phone company gave her a hard time when she tried to cancel her husband's account one month after he died. The company called her to cancel the plan while NBC4 interviewed her on Friday, Dec. 13, 2013.

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    Good Samaritans rallied to help a Staten Island family whose Sandy-ravaged home was again destroyed by vandals just days before the family was set to move back in.

    Nancy Fisher and Ruben Vazquez's Midland Beach home of over 35 years was destroyed in the October 2012 storm, and the couple and their children had been staying with friends for the past 14 months. During that time, Vazquez would work his day job then return to his Staten Island house each night to make repairs and rebuild. 

    The family was finally days away from moving back in when vandals broke in on Thursday. They had ransacked the living room, shattering glass, smashing holes in the new drywall and busting up the new refrigerator. They left beer cans, urinated on the floor and even destroyed the lone ornament on the family's Charlie Brown Christmas tree. 

    "I saw everything was devastated and I just broke down,"  Fisher said.  

    When NBC 4 New York viewers saw the family's story Thursday night, they were inspired to wake up early Friday and help. 

    "My neighbor called me and he said some guy was here," said a stunned Fisher. "He drove like 100 miles to come down and see me and give me gifts." 

    Another woman brought the family a new Charlie Brown Christmas tree, which has come to symbolize their new beginning post- Sandy.

    "Someone bring back my new beginning and it's going to be better than ever," said Fisher. "I believe that. I believe in people and I believe good things are going to happen." 

    Ross Decker of Yellow Boots, a non-profit group in Staten island, committed to bring in an army of volunteers Saturday to help the family not only get back on track but to move in ahead of schedule. 

    "We just kind of sprung into action, made some phone calls," he said. "We're shocked to see that anyone would do something so horrible and vile as this." 

    "Ruben did a great job putting together patches for a lot of the holes, but there's still a bit of work that needs to be done, and that poor guy needs a break. He's been up all night repairing his house," he added. 

    For Fisher, the heartbreaking destruction by a few has been outshadowed by the hugs, smiles, laughter and kindness of so many.

    "Some people are rotten out there, but there are so many good people out there, they beat out the rotten people," she said. "We'll come back stronger, like we did with Sandy." 


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  • 12/14/13--12:45: Dying Boy's Wish Granted

  • A Southern California boy with a severe terminal illness was greeted with a special holiday treat on Friday morning – with the help of the Gardena Police Department.

    Dozens of officers first visited the home of 8-year-old Erick Casillas on Thursday night, after they had heard the boy wanted to be a police officer someday.

    Erick was given a brand new police badge and treated as an honorary officer – but police noticed that something was missing in the family home.

    “A Christmas tree. How can you have Christmas without a Christmas tree??” said Police Chief Edward Medrano.

    WATCH: Terminally ill man weds the love of his life

    Erick’s brother Cristian explained that because Erick needs round-the-clock care and can no longer walk, it’s difficult for the family to make time to do anything else.

    So Gardena police stepped in to help get the Casillas family home into the holiday spirit.

    Friday morning, NBC4 tagged along as police delivered a Christmas tree to the Casillas home, along with lights, ornaments, and even an angel to sit atop the tree.

    Read: Make-A-Wish foundation helps 5-year-old boy with leukemia become "Batkid"

    The family does not want to disclose what terminal illness Erick is suffering from, but NBC4 was told it recently took a turn for the worse – and that he only has few days left to live.
     


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    San Diego police are searching for a man who allegedly used a knife to threaten a woman and her 4-month-old baby inside the women’s bathroom at a Kohl’s department store in San Diego.

    According to the San Diego Police Department, the incident happened Thursday around 4 p.m. at the Kohl’s located at the College Grove shopping center at 3450 College Ave.

    A woman and her baby were using the women’s restroom inside the retail store when an unknown man, who was allegedly hiding in a bathroom stall, snuck up behind the woman.

    Detectives say the man then tapped the woman on the shoulder and threatened her with a knife. The woman was able to escape and flee the restroom with her baby, unharmed. The man was last seen leaving the store on foot, according to police.

    Detectives describe the suspect as a black man between 20 and 25 years old, approximately 5-foot-8 with a goatee. He was wearing a dark leather jacket, white long-sleeved shirt, dark pants and dark shoes during the incident. He was also carrying a dark backpack.

    On Friday, officials released clear images of the suspect caught on surveillance tape at the retail store. The San Diego Police Department’s Sex Crimes Unit is handling this case, and the investigation continues.

    Local shoppers say this frightening incident has them on edge.

    “I have to be aware of everything – anything can happen at any time – so you have to always watch who is around you, what’s around you and everything,” said shopper Fabio Garcia.

    Jennifer Llaneta said this makes her think twice about what she would do if this happened to her.
    “[I plan to] be aware of my situation and I have my cell phone with me all the time so I could dial 911 right away,” she said.

    Anyone with information on this suspect should contact the SDPD Sex Crimes Unit at (619) 531-2210 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477. Tipsters can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward for information leading to an arrest in this case.


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    The anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre arrived Saturday with the nation torn over how to commemorate the day —- if at all.

    Newtown itself, exhausted and traumatized, has asked for peace and quiet: no media, no inrush of sympathetic gestures or remembrances. Local officials and families of victims say they’d rather people do something kind or volunteer for a charitable cause in their own home towns as a way of recognizing the one-year mark.

    Many of them have arranged to be out of town for the weekend, while others will quietly light memorial candles in honor of their lost loved ones.

    Neil Heslin, father of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, said he planned to travel to New York on the anniversary to take part in a project honoring the victims, but also to avoid any spectacle that may encroach on the town. "I need to get out of Dodge," he said.

    The proudly modest community, sprawled across the wooded hills of southwestern Connecticut, wants to move forward, so that the shooting doesn’t define it.

    "Newtown's ask of the world for the anniversary is to stay where you are and do acts of kindness and honor those we’ve lost," said David Ackert, chairman of the Newtown Foundation and Newtown Action Alliance, which organized a vigil for gun violence victims in Washington D.C. on Thursday, in part to draw attention away from the town.

    Sandy Hook Elementary School has been demolished, and the town has begun design of a new school that would leave no reminder of the shooting. Many of the families have turned their grief into political action, lobbying for stricter gun laws and better mental health care — an endeavor that has yet to reap much success. Many have also formed organizations that promote causes that their loved ones identified with.

    At the same time, many Americans, and their elected leaders, feel a need to express their condolences, in a way that respects Newtown’s wishes.

     At 9:30 a.m., around the time the first of Adam Lanza’s 26 schoolhouse victims died, houses of worship around Connecticut  tolled their bells, once for each victim, a request from Gov. Dannel Malloy — repeating a similar gesture made a week after the shooting. President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama observed a moment of silence Saturday morning and lit 26 candles set up on a table in the White House Map Room.

    Across the country, people will find their own ways to pay tribute — the personal and the communal, the modest and the grand.

    Many of such efforts have been underway for quite a while. There is, for example, The Sandy Ground Project: Where Angels Play, which built 26 playgrounds in areas leveled by Hurricane Sandy, each named after one of the Sandy Hook victims. There is the Newtown Documentation Project, which sought to preserve the thousands of letter and handmade gifts that have poured into the town in the past year.

    But the most profound undertakings may be those in which people use the anniversary to rededicate themselves to helping others.

    That is what Carlos Soto, the 16-year-old younger brother of slain Sandy Hook Elementary teacher Victoria Soto, is planning.

    “I want to help people. That’s actually what I want to do with the rest of my life,” he said a few days before the anniversary. "I want to counsel people and families of gun violence.”

    That, he said, is the best way he can think to honor the events of Dec. 14, 2012.



    Photo Credit: AP

    On the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre, firefighters lower the town's flag on Main Street to half-staff in honor of the victims, Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, in  Newtown, Conn.On the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre, firefighters lower the town's flag on Main Street to half-staff in honor of the victims, Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, in Newtown, Conn.

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    New Haven police are investigating after a 32-year-old man was found shot to death outside a condominium complex Saturday night.

    According to police, Deveron McLaughlin of Munson Street in New Haven was shot in the head Saturday night in the parking lot of 71 Weybosset Street.

    He was transported to Yale-New Haven Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.

    Authorities are investigating the incident and have not identified any suspects.

    Anyone with information is urged to contact New Haven police at 203-946-6304.


     

     

     



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    Lego's are enough to put a smile on any child's face but for 11-year-old Christian Roberts of Denton, Texas, he's having a good time, he just cannot show it.

    "We've been seeing a doctor since he was about a year old for facial paralysis," said Christian's mother Molly Roberts.

    Next week, Christian and his family will travel to Seattle where doctors will implant muscles from various parts of his body into Christian's face. Hopefully, giving him the gift that he's never had.

    "Well he's been pretty excited," Roberts said. "He's been asking for a smile since he was about five [years old], since he could kind of understand getting it fixed. Since he was little, he has held his hands to make a smile for pictures."

    Thanks to one surgery, Christian has some movement in one part of his face. Because he is deaf, Christian communicates with his family through sign language. 

    "I didn't realize how excited he would get until he got movement the first time," Molly Roberts said. "He came and woke us up and said, 'Mom! Look! My smile's awake now'!"

    "It was very exciting. He shows everybody... people in the grocery store, people at work. So I know it's a big deal to him. I didn't realize how excited he would really be about it."

    It will take about 12 weeks after the surgery for Christian to start showing movement. The main concern for doctors is the risk of infection, which could keep those muscles from working.

    His family is praying for a successful surgery.

    "Just excited to get something he wants," Christian's father Darrell said. "I love him no matter what -- so if he smiles or not -- to get something HE wants, I'm excited about it."



    Photo Credit: NBC 5

    11-year-old Christian Roberts is traveling to Seattle to receive the surgery his family hopes will allow him to smile for the first time.11-year-old Christian Roberts is traveling to Seattle to receive the surgery his family hopes will allow him to smile for the first time.

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    Two U.S. senators say federal railroad officials lack the funds to properly inspect safety systems at railroads around the country.

    Sen. Charles Schumer of New York and Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut are holding a news conference Sunday at Grand Central Terminal to push for more inspectors in the wake of the Dec. 1 Metro-North Railroad accident. Four people died and dozens were injured when the train derailed in the Bronx.

    The two Democrats say the government has funds to inspect safety at only 1 percent of railroads nationwide.

    The senators say they'll fight for enough money to hire an additional 45 inspectors. They also want cameras to be installed in locomotives and operating cabs to monitor conductors and tracks.


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    There is a water main break at Route 3 (or Newfield Street) and Tuttle Road in Middletown this morning.

    Water is expected to be restored to most homes within the hour, but some homes might not have water for hours as crews respond.
     



    Photo Credit: AP

    There is a water main break at Route 3 and Tuttle Road in Middletown this morning.There is a water main break at Route 3 and Tuttle Road in Middletown this morning.

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    Bristol police are looking for the driver who struck a woman near a shopping plaza and then fled the scene.

    According to authorities, the vehicle was traveling westbound on Route 6 when it struck a woman crossing the street.  The driver stopped, checked on the woman and then left, police said.

    The 35-year-old victim was transported to St. Francis Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

    Investigators said witnesses describe the vehicle as a 4-door late model Buick LeSabre, color green. The driver is described as a man in his 50's with shoulder length hair and a scruffy mustache.

    Police said the suspect was wearing a dark or brown bulky coat and tan pants.

    Anyone with information or who may have witnessed the incident is asked to contact Bristol police at 860-584-3011.

     

     



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    Firefighters are battling a fire at 264 Mount Parnassus Road, an abandoned home in East Haddam, this morning.

    The two-alarm fire broke out just before 3 a.m. Someone who was passing by noticed the smoke.

    By the time firefighters arrived, fire had already spread through most of the house.

    The house has been abandoned for a while, officials said, and crews are trying to figure out exactly how it started.

    Luckily no one was hurt, but there were challenges.

    One was that the driveway was covered in snow. There are no hydrants in this area so firefighters had to shuttle in water and ensure that it didn't freeze because of the cold temperatures.

    Firefighters expect to be at the scene for several more hours and they investigate the cause.

    This is also affecting traffic and drivers are slowly getting by.

     



    Photo Credit: NBConnecticut.com

    Fire broke out at 264 Parnassus Road East Haddam this morning.Fire broke out at 264 Parnassus Road East Haddam this morning.

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    Five people have been taken to the hospital after a two-car crash at Sedgwick Road and Riggs Avenue in West Hartford this morning.

    The injuries are described as “light to moderate.”

    The road remains open and a sand truck was called to deice the area.
     


    .Five people have been taken to the hospital after a two-car crash at Sedgwick Road and Riggs Avenue in West Hartford this morning..Five people have been taken to the hospital after a two-car crash at Sedgwick Road and Riggs Avenue in West Hartford this morning.

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    The Pi Delta Psi fraternity has severed ties with a chapter at Baruch College after a pledge there died following a hazing ritual during a trip to the Poconos last weekend, according to a statement issued Monday by the national organization's president.

    In the wake of the Dec. 9 death of 19-year-old Chun Hsien "Michael" Deng, national president Andy Meng said the fraternity is ending its affiliation with the Baruch chapter and revoking the memberships of its brothers for violating Pi Delta Psi's values and anti-hazing policy. 

    “Baruch Colony has violated the values and rules of our organization, including our strict no hazing policy,” Meng said. “As such, they shall no longer be recognized as having any association with Pi Delta Psi.”

    Deng, of Queens, was taken to the hospital after participating in the ritual in which he and other pledges were blindfolded, weighted down with backpacks full of sand and knocked over repeatedly while trying to walk toward their pledge educator.

    Deng had scratches on his left hip and buttocks, a cut on his left wrist and bruising on his knees, a police affidavit said. He also had massive head trauma and was placed on life support. He had no drugs or alcohol in his system.

    He died the next day of head injury due to blunt force trauma, the coroner ruled.

    According to the affidavit, three students who first brought Deng to the hospital initially told police that the group was wrestling in the snow when the 19-year-old fell backwards and hit his head. The group said they brought him inside and laid him by the fire, but he did not wake up.

    In later interviews, the story emerged that Deng was actually injured during a fraternity ritual.

    The Monroe County district attorney said last week that charges would likely be filed in the death, but the investigation has not been completed.

    Baruch said Friday that it was still reviewing what happened, but was suspending the fraternity pending that review. Disciplinary action against the students is also being determined


    Baruch College freshman Chun Hsien Baruch College freshman Chun Hsien "Michael" Deng died of injuries sustained during a fraternity ritual at a home in the Poconos, authorities say.

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    Part of Route 25 in Brookfield is closed after a multi-car crash and a person was seriously injured. 

    The crash happened in the area of 238 Whisconier Road, according to police.

    One person was struck by a car and has been critically injured, according to police.

    It is not clear if the person hit was in one of the cars involved in the crash or if that person stopped to help.

    The accident reconstruction team is at the scene.
     



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Part of Route 25 in Brookfield is closed after a multi-car crash and a person was seriously injured.Part of Route 25 in Brookfield is closed after a multi-car crash and a person was seriously injured.

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    Branford police are issuing a warning to business owners, particularly restaurants, about an increase in overnight burglaries.

    In the past month, there have been seven burglaries at Branford businesses where thieved tried to steal cash, police said, and five of them happened over this past weekend alone.

    Restaurants on Route 1 have been targeted and the thieves are going in through the back doors.

    Most of these businesses had commercial burglary alarms, but the intruders were able to circumvent them in one case.

    Three of the businesses that were robbed have a video surveillance system.

    Police believe that two men were involved and were driving a silver or gray pickup, possibly a Dodge.

    Other similar burglaries have been reported in other communities in the region, police said.

    Police are offering businesses the following tips to help prevent burglary:

    • Do not leave any cash in the register or hidden in your business.
    • Ensure that all doors and windows are secure when you leave for the evening.
    • Upgrade old or defective doors and door locks.
    • Install proper lighting outside your business, especially at entrances and exits.
    • Provide proper interior night lighting with open visual access through windows.
    • Ensure all alarms and video surveillance systems are operating properly.
    • Always pay attention to customers or suspicious people who might be canvassing your establishment during business hours.
    • Report any suspicious activity to police immediately.

    Anyone having information is asked to call Branford Police at 203-481-4241.



    Photo Credit: Branford Police

    Police are investigating a string of overnight business burglaries in Branford.Police are investigating a string of overnight business burglaries in Branford.

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    A mysterious group of generous tippers, called Tips for Jesus, have been leaving huge gratuities across the country over the last three months.

    This weekend, they came to Connecticut and left a $5,000 tip on a $112 bill at The Seagrape in Fairfield.

    “Hard to beat the service at The Seagrape... Thanks Tremaine! #tipsforjesus #godbless #thumbsup,” the Instagram post says.

    The restaurant manager said they received the tip on Saturday night, but did not want to comment further.




    Photo Credit: Instagram

    A group called Tips for Jesus left a $5,000 tip in Fairfield.A group called Tips for Jesus left a $5,000 tip in Fairfield.

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  • 12/16/13--09:05: Man Carjacked Cabbie: Cops

  • A New Britain man is in police custody after police said he carjacked a cab driver and tried to carjack another vehicle, police said. 

    Josue Diaz, 21, of Blackrock Avenue in New Britain, was arrested on Friday morning.

    Police said he held a gun to the neck of a cabdriver and forced the person to drive him around town.

    Diaz eventually got out of the cab and tried to carjack another vehicle, police said.

    He was soon apprehended and charged with attempted carjacking, first-degree threatening, second-degree robbery and carrying a dangerous weapon.

    Diaz is being held on $75,000 bail and is due in court on Jan. 22.



    Photo Credit: New Britain Police

    Josue Diaz is accused of holding a gun to the neck of a cab driver and forced the person to drive him around.Josue Diaz is accused of holding a gun to the neck of a cab driver and forced the person to drive him around.

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