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    A 17-year-old man wanted in connection to the sexual abuse of a toddler in North Texas has been captured in Iowa, authorities said.

    Kraigen A. Grooms was arrested in Ottumwa, Iowa, and is being held on a $100,000 cash-only bond, according to Ottumwa police. He faces felony sex abuse charges that could carry a 25-year prison sentence, if convicted. He has been charged as an adult, Ottumwa police said.

    Grooms was located after a 30-hour manhunt that began on Tuesday, when federal officials detailed during a press conference the alleged sexual abuse of a toddler by the suspect, who they identified as 'John Doe'.

    The call for information came as federal agents announced the results of one of the largest online child exploitation investigations in history, involving victims in 37 states and five foreign countries.

    Operation Round Table, run by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations team, resulted in the arrest of 14 suspected producers and distributors of child pornography.

    "We urgently ask for the public's help to find this predator and his helpless, toddler victim," HSI Special Agent David Marwell said of "John Doe" on Tuesday. "It's possible this abuse is still continuing."

    Carl Rusnok,  Director of Communications, Central Region, for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, confirmed that "John Doe" had been arrested, but would not release any more information on him because he is a minor. 

    It took approximately 30 hours from the time the suspect's photograph was shared during that news conference to the time law enforcement was able to bring the suspect into custody, Rusnok told NBC 5.

    Tips from the public were instrumental in helping to identify and arrest the suspect, Rusnok said.

    Photographs posted to an underground, child pornography website reportedly showed "John Doe" sexually abusing a baby, believed to be between 12-18 months old at the time of the abuse, according to a news release from HSI.

    Investigators were able to place the suspect in the Dallas-Fort Worth area around the time of the abuse, believed to be in April 2013, because of a hat he was seen wearing in the photographs. The hat featured a logo that reads, "Shut Up N Play," which was new at the time and had only been released with a very limited distribution within North Texas, according to investigators.

    Grooms was appointed a public defense attorney. A call on Friday to the Ottumwa Public Defender's Office was not immediately returned.

     

     


    According to the Ottumwa police department in Iowa, 17-year-old Kraigen A. Grooms has been arrested and is being held on $100,000 cash-only bond. Grooms faces felony sex abuse charges and could face up to 25 years behind bars if convicted. Police in Ottumwa said he has been charged as an adult.According to the Ottumwa police department in Iowa, 17-year-old Kraigen A. Grooms has been arrested and is being held on $100,000 cash-only bond. Grooms faces felony sex abuse charges and could face up to 25 years behind bars if convicted. Police in Ottumwa said he has been charged as an adult.

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    Nets center Jason Collins, who became the NBA’s first openly gay active player last month when he was signed by the team, said he’s been on the receiving end of anti-gay taunts in his first month back on the court, according to reports.

    Collins told the Daily News that most of the response to his historic debut has been positive, but he was heckled by one unnamed “knucklehead” during a game.

    “One player, one knucklehead from another team,” Collins told the News. “He’s a knucklehead. So I just let it go. Again, that goes back to controlling what you can control. That’s how I conduct myself just being professional.”

    The Nets signed Collins, then a free agent, to a 10-day contract on Feb. 23. In his debut in Los Angeles the following night, opposing fans welcomed the big man with a standing ovation.

    Last week, the Nets extended the 13-year veteran’s contract through the end of the season. Collins' jersey has also sold well in his return.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    Jason Collins and Lakers center Pau GasolJason Collins and Lakers center Pau Gasol

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  • 03/21/14--10:12: New Knee Surgery Technology

  • New digital mapping technology is allowing doctors to drastically improve the outcome of knee surgeries and improve the fit of new knees on patients' bodies.

    Knee replacement surgery has become an increasingly common medical procedure for those in their 40s, 50s and 60s. But as many as 20 percent of all knee replacement recipients say they are unhappy with the results of their operation.

    That may be because the pieces of their new artificial knee don’t fit as well as they should.

    Dr. Jaime Hernandez, an orthopedic surgeon at Northridge Hospital, said knee replacements are usually done by feel with surgical instruments that aren’t designed for precision measurement. As a result, some of these surgeries could have more accurate results.

    To solve this problem, Hernandez is using two high-tech imaging systems that create a GPS-like map of the knee and surrounding area and provide measurements within half a degree and half a millimeter.

    "The idea is that, with this new technology, we can turn that 80 percent into a 90 percent or 95 and make this an almost perfect surgery," Hernandez said.

    Using infrared signals and a special pointing device, the doctor first creates a virtual map of the area. He then receives real-time live measurements of the knee and its parts as he puts the new knee together. This helps to ensure that he is putting in the pieces as accurately as possible.

    Another device then checks the pressure of the new knee before he puts in the final piece.

    “The most important part of a knee replacement is to have the knee nice and snug and equal on both sides,” Hernandez explained. “You don’t want your knee too loose on one side and too tight on the other. You want it nice and snug all the way around.”

    Los Angeles Police Department Officer Sandra Liddy tested Hernadez' surgery method and is currently recovering with hopes to get back on the streets as soon as she can.

    "I'm in constant pain so I cannot put a uniform on right now," Liddy told NBC4 before her surgery. "Because I'm in pain, because I'm on medication, I can't get into a black and white (patrol car)."

    "It needs to work, it has to work, because I need to go back to normal life," Liddy said.

    NBC4 spoke with Liddy's doctor, and although she needs physical therapy, she is expected to be back at work with a pain-free knee.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images/PhotoAlto

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    South Windsor police have arrested a Hartford man accused of stealing from his former employer to pay for drugs and strippers.

    Police started investigating a larceny complaint from local truck repair company in August 2013 and identified Juan Rodriguez, 30, of Hartford, a former employee, as a suspect through surveillance footage. 

    Police said Rodriguez knew which desks to rummage through and stole $1,500 in cash and coins.

    On Thursday, police obtained an arrest warrant, charging him with third-degree burglary and third-degree larceny.

    He was held at Manchester Superior Court on $45,000 surety bond and was arraigned later that morning.

     



    Photo Credit: South Windsor Police

    Police started investigating a larceny complaint from local truck repair company in August 2013 and identified Juan Rodriguez, 30, of Hartford, a former employee, as a suspect through surveillance footage.Police started investigating a larceny complaint from local truck repair company in August 2013 and identified Juan Rodriguez, 30, of Hartford, a former employee, as a suspect through surveillance footage.

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    Police arrested a Connecticut man accused of trying to set his girlfriend on fire with Amaretto.

    Vernon police said they responded to a domestic disturbance on Terrace Drive just before 3:30 a.m. Friday and found a woman who’d been soaked in the hard alcohol.

    The victim told officers that Ramon Gomez, 32, of 39 Flower Street in Manchester, had poured liquor on her and tried to set her ablaze several times with a disposable lighter after they got into a physical fight. Gomez was not able to burn the woman, police said.

    Several young children were nearby and were splashed by the alcohol, police said.

    The victim escaped from the apartment with the children and reached a family member, who called police.

    Police said the children were not injured and the state Department of Children and Families was notified.

    Gomez also left the Vernon address. Manchester police took him into custody at his home.

    Gomez is being held at the Vernon Police Department in lieu of a $100,000 bond. He was charged with first-degree criminal attempted assault, first-degree reckless endangerment, second-degree breach of peace and risk of injury.

    He is scheduled to appear in Rockville Superior Court this morning.
     



    Photo Credit: Vernon Police

    Ramon Gomez is accused of trying to set his girlfriend on fire after pouring Amaretto on her.Ramon Gomez is accused of trying to set his girlfriend on fire after pouring Amaretto on her.

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    A New Jersey teenager who sneaked into the World Trade Center and made his way to the top of the tower is apologizing if anyone's feelings were hurt, but not for the stunt itself.
     
    A tweet Friday afternoon from the Twitter account of Justin Casquejo, 16, said: "I seriously apologize to anyone who may have been insulted or felt disrespected by my actions. It was not my intention to do so."
     
    According to court papers, Casquejo said he crawled through a hole in the fence at the trade center site early Sunday morning, then got on an elevator and went to the 88th floor.

    The teen then climbed the stairs to the 104th floor, where the New York Post says he passed a sleeping guard, went out to the roof and made his way up to the antenna.
    Casquejo was caught when he came down about two hours later. He was taken into custody by Port Authority police and charged with misdemeanor trespassing. 
     
    The company overseeing construction, leasing and management of the 104-story tower said in a statement that it has "undertaken a top-to-bottom review of our security at One World Trade Center."
     
    Joe Dunne, chief security officer for the Port Authority, said any security breaches are taken seriously and will be prosecuted.

    "We continue to reassess our security posture at the site and are constantly working to make this site as secure as possible," Dunne said.

    -- Andrew Siff contributed to this report 



    Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York/AP Images

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    Members of the Shelton High School community are remembering a classmate who died tragically after a shooting by doing random acts of kindness in his  memory.

    Kristjan Ndoj, 15, died on Thursday, five days after being shot twice in a driveway on Agawam Trail after riding his bike to a friend’s house.

    Police and ruled the case a homicide. They are investigating, but have not yet made any arrests. 
    The school has brought in counselors to assist students in this time of tragedy.

    Dr. Beth Smith, headmaster of Shelton High School, Tweeted out a photo of the board set up about the project. 

    Smith said in an e-mail that Kristjan was a caring, compassionate young man, who reached out to help others, so some of his classmates thought of having the school community do random acts of kindness in his memory.

    On Friday, the students created a bulletin board that incorporates parts of the Albanian flag colors and symbols, in honor of Kristjan’s nationality. As students do act of kindness, they will write what they have done on a ribbon and it will be attached to the bulletin board. The project will start on Monday.

    Smith says this Sunday they'll have an interfaith gathering for Shelton High School staff, students, and parents.


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    Do you want information on your child's school? There's an app for that in New Haven.

    The New Haven Public Schools system has a new free app that allows the schools to reach out to parents in a different way than from the school's website or Facebook page.

    The app includes news, notifications, a local calendar, cafeteria menus and much more. 

    “We know that our best partners are involved parents, and we have to find ways to be welcoming to them,” said New Haven School Superintendent Garth Harries.

    “So many more parents have iPhones or smartphones than they do computers, so it actually increases our ability to communicate and actually to relate and support our students in schools,” New Haven Mayor Toni Harp said.

    So far, it's getting a good reception.

    “I love this thing.  I take it with me because it's right on my phone.  I can check my son's grades, I can check his assignments, I can see if there were any notifications from the school,” Daisy Gonzalez, a New Haven parent, said.

    Jennifer Ricker, a New Haven parent, said it helps her family stay informed about the schools.

    “The parent link that they have right now goes to our telephone, but it goes to our cell phone.  Sometimes it will go to my phone, but not my husband's, and we miss messages. If I travel, then we're out of luck.  This allows me to go in and get the information,” Ricker said.

    It also allows parents to communicate directly with the school system through the Ideas Box part of the app.

    “I love the Ideas Box because it allows us to have a voice and say this is a concern, what can we do about it,” Ricker said.

    You can find the app by searching New Haven Public Schools in the App store, or click here.

    “There's just so much information in the palm of your hand,” Gonzalez said.

     



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    This app was set up to help parents and New Haven Public Schools connect.This app was set up to help parents and New Haven Public Schools connect.

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    Days after police said a sock left at a crime scene helped them identify a suspected serial robber, police in yet another town have arrested Brett Downs, 32, of Southington, Conn.

    Downs, who is a suspect in robberies in Wolcott and Southington, was charged today in connection with an armed robbery at the Shell Gas Station at 1593 Southeast Road in Newington on Jan. 23. 

    He has been charged with second-degree robbery and third-degree larceny after an investigation by authorities in several towns.

    Downs is accused of several crimes:

    Dec. 23: Police said Downs went into the Cumberland Farms at 1655 Meriden Road in Wolcott, with a knife eartly that morning, jumped over the counter, held the knife to the clerk's throat and demanding cash. After stealing the cash from the register, Downs ran from the store, police said.

    Jan. 31: Early on that morning, Downs went back to the same store and did the same thing, police said. Detective Jeff Egan was able to link Downs to the robberies through DNA from a sock that he had worn on his hand and left behind at the scene, police said.

    Feb. 7: Police said Downs robbed Kaival Food Mart and Gulf Gas Station at 1123 Meriden Waterbury Turnpike in Southington with a silver retractable carpet knife and stole $180.

    Police said Downs was identified through investigative efforts that included forensic evidence recovered at the crime scenes. 

    He was arraigned at Superior Court in New Britain today and held on a $75,000 bond. 


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    An Iraq war veteran whose skull was fractured by a police bean bag during the Occupy Oakland protest has settled with the city for $4.5 million, his attorneys announced Friday, as part of a federal civil lawsuit.

    After he was struck with a lead-filled bean bag fire by a police officer from 20 feet away on Oct. 25, 2011, Scott Olsen, who was 24 at the time, suffered a skull fracture and permanent brain damage.

    Today, Olsen can speak and do basic tasks. But, according to a recent interview with the East Bay Express, his memory, concentration and speech are still impaired, and he still owes $200,000 in medical expenses.

    According to his suit, Olsen is unable to work as he once did as a computer systems administrator at Opswat in San Francisco.

    "I didn't win, uh, part of my brain back that's dead," Olsen said, faltering a bit at a Friday news conference outside Oakland City Hall. "Um, but you know, I.. I... It's hard, it was a hard recovery process. This isn't everything."

    In a statement, city attorney Barbara Parker said: "Mr. Olsen suffered a tragic injury that will affect him for the rest of his life. This settlement will save the city the far greater costs of a trial and potentially much higher judgment. This is a fair settlement given the facts of the case and the significant injuries Mr. Olsen sustained.”

    Oakland will pay Olsen $1.8 million, according to the city, with the rest paid by the city's insurance company.

    Olsen, in many ways, became the national symbol for what the "99 percent" viewed as police brutality during the Occupy movement. Vigils for his recovery at Occupy camps across the country, including in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, were held -- all in Olsen's name.

    His past -- serving two tours of duty in Iraq as a Marine -- galvanized the already disenfranchised protesters, and became a negative, lasting PR nightmare for Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, who came under attack for not doing more to control what many saw as an overzealous police department.

    Quan was on her way back from Washington, D.C., when this protest occurred, and police had evicted the Occupy camp from Frank Ogawa Plaza, prompting a crush of people to return to downtown later in the day.

    In a statement released Friday afternoon, Quan said, "We wish the best to Mr. Olsen and hope for success in his continued recovery."

    Scott Olsen outside court, Friday, March 21, 2014.
    Olsen (right) outside of court Friday, March 21, 2014.

    “I want Oakland to know that because of that evening’s events we took determined, constructive steps to change our policing procedures,” Quan said in the statement.

    In March 2012, Olsen told NBC Bay Area that he was was demonstrating peacefully the night he was injured, and was there for only 30 minutes before he was struck.  He didn't know what had happened at first and didn't realize the extent of his injuries until people started asking his name and he couldn't answer.  Early reports were that he was hit with a tear gas cannister, not a bean bag.

    A YouTube video (see video below)  shows bystanders yelling "medic! medic!" as Olsen was carted away on a stretcher after he was hit by the projectile at close range. He had gone to downtown Oakland in military fatigues, and was "standing still and quiet," according to his suit, in support of the Occupy movement, including its opposition against the U.S. military involvement in Iraq. His attorneys created a video montaage of that night and released it on Friday.

    Olsen first filed a federal lawsuit (PDF) in December 2012. In it, his attorneys, James B. Chanin and  Rachel Lederman, president of the National Lawyers Guild, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, claimed that Oakland police violated Olsen's rights to free speech by not training their officers properly and going against their own department policy of using bean bags for crowd control.

    Olsen's suit also named  former Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan, Officer Robert Roche, Sgt. Roland Holmgren, then-Capt. Paul Figueroa, who is now assistant chief, as defendants.

    In July 2013, Oakland agreed to pay $1.7 million claims from 12 Occupy protesters -- including a man who filmed a police officer who shot him in the leg with a lead beanbag -- resolving the first of several police misconduct lawsuits Oakland faces from Occupy protests.

    Olsen lived in Daly City at the time. He now lives in Oakland.
        
        
    NBC Bay Area's Christie Smith and Jodi Hernandez contributed to this report.


    FILE ART - Scott Olsen November 2011FILE ART - Scott Olsen November 2011

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    Former University of Miami defensive end and current Tennessee Titan Adewale Ojomo was arrested for soliciting a prostitute in Miami, authorities said.

    Ojomo, 25, was arrested Friday on a solicitation of prostitution charge, Miami-Dade jail records showed. He was being held on $5,000 bond, and it was unknown whether he has an attorney.

    According to the City of Miami Police arrest report, an undercover officer was posing as a prostitute in the area of Northeast 2nd Avenue and Northeast 22nd Street when Ojomo pulled up next to her in his Lexus GS350 and the two started talking.

    At one point, Ojomo offered $100 for sex and asked the undercover "You got condoms? I need to go get some," the report said.

    "I got you, don't worry about that," she replied. Ojomo was arrested at the scene, and his car was taken into custody.

    Ojomo, who was born in Opa-locka, attended Hialeah High School before going to Miami. After four years with the Hurricanes, he signed with the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2012.

    He spent time on the Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills practice squads before joining the Titans in December.



    Photo Credit: Miami-Dade Corrections

    Adewale OjomoAdewale Ojomo

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    A 19-year-old Georgetown University student told investigators that he learned how to manufacture ricin by researching on the internet on his iPhone, then bought the needed materials at Home Depot and a plant store, according to court documents.

    Daniel Harry Milzman, 19, of Bethesda, Md., has been charged with possession of a biological toxin -- a federal offense -- after he told his residential advisor about the powdery substance earlier this week.

    The university said there was no immediate danger to students, but the ricin was strong enough to be lethal if inhaled or injected, according to the charging documents. Milzman told investigators he wore a mask while making the powder.

    Authorities were called to McCarthy Hall in the 3700 block of O Street NW early Tuesday morning after Milzman showed his RA the ricin. He had kept the powder in a plastic bag and sealed it with hockey tape, the charging documents said.

    "There is no immediate threat to members of the Georgetown community," Chief Jay Gruber wrote. "The university consulted with the D.C. Department of Public Health, which informed us that anyone exposed to ricin would have presented with severe symptoms within 24 hours. This window has passed and there are no reports consistent with ricin exposure."

    The dorm has since reopened.


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    EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier press release, provided by the Dallas Police Department, had the citizen's name spelled Ambrosio Monsavais. On Friday night, police issued the correct name as Ambrosio Monsivais. The name has been corrected in the article. 

    Dallas Police Chief David Brown has terminated one of his own. Officer Rene Villanueva has been terminated from his position with the Dallas Police Department after an internal affairs investigation found he used excessive force during a traffic stop.

    According to Dallas police, "an internal affairs investigation found that Villanueva failed to conduct a proper felony stop following a pursuit, used excessive force against a citizen and brought discredit to the department." On March 12, Villanueva was indicted by a Dallas County grand jury on charges of official oppression and assault.

    The indictment comes after an incident on Nov. 10, 2013 which was caught on police dashcam video. According to DPD, Villanueva was working off-duty at a club in the 400 block of South Buckner Boulevard when he watched Ambrosio Monsivais speed through the parking lot in the early hours of the morning.

    Officer Villanueva, who was in a marked squad car, tried to pull Monsivais over, but according to Dallas police, Monsivais fled.

    According to investigators, Villanueva caught up with Monsivais a short time later and managed to pull him over, but Villanueva failed to perform a required felony stop and even approached the vehicle with his gun drawn.

    Dashcam video shows Villanueva opening the door of Monsivais' pick-up truck, reaching into the truck and making a punching motion, striking the driver inside several times.

    Video also shows Villanueva forcing Monsivais to the ground and delivering several more blows while trying to handcuff him.

    The president of the National Latino Peace Officers Assocation said the video doesn't tell the whole story of what preceded the confrontation.

    "What people don't know is that Rene observed this suspect hit a Dallas Sheriff's officer, which injured his knee, he hit two parked cars in the parking lot," said Robert Arredondo. "He chased him, if you watch the video, you will see the suspect had no regard for oncoming traffic or any person in the area."

    "What if officer Villanueva wasn't there and this guy was in your neighborhood?" Officer Villanueva did his job," Arredondo said.

    Villanueva joined the Dallas Police Department in March of 2007 and was assigned to the Northeast Patrol Division.

    According to the department, under civil service rules, he has the right to appeal. Villanueva does plan to appeal his termination, as well as the criminal charges he faces.

    Monsivais, 27, remains in the Dallas County Jail. He's charged with DWI, felony evading arrest and aggravated assault on a public servant. He has an immigration hold as well according to police.

    NBC 5's Randy McIlwain contributed to this report.



    Photo Credit: Dallas police department

    Dallas Police Chief David Brown has terminated one of his own. Police officer Rene Villanueva has been terminated from his position with the Dallas Police Department after an internal affairs investigation.Dallas Police Chief David Brown has terminated one of his own. Police officer Rene Villanueva has been terminated from his position with the Dallas Police Department after an internal affairs investigation.

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    Miami's Jungle Island welcomed the birth of two liger cubs earlier this week.

    A male and female were born. The cubs come from a female royal white Bengal tiger and an African white lion male.

    “Currently, our dedicated team of animal specialists are nursing them around the clock to ensure they receive proper sustenance and nutrients. The next few weeks are going to be crucial to their survival,” said Dr. Jason Chatfield, vice president of zoological operations.

    Once the cubs have been given a clean bill of health, they will be on display for the public to check them out. They have not been named yet.

    Male ligers reach an average 900 pounds and can reach up to 12 feet when standing on their hind legs.



    Photo Credit: Jungle Island

    Two baby ligers were born at Jungle Island earlier this week.Two baby ligers were born at Jungle Island earlier this week.

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    Reverend Steven Cousin is the Pastor at the Bethel AME Church on Goffe Street in New Haven.  Since he leads the church, he wanted to make sure his congregation knew about the Affordable Care Act and the options available in Connecticut.

    “We were really trying to be active and encourage our members to at least take a look to see if this coverage is beneficial for you,” said Rev. Cousin.

    Reverend Cousin took a look for himself and ended up signing up with Access Health CT.  He says coverage for his family is $314 a month, compared to the $1200 he would pay with his previous health insurance.  So he has no problem abiding by Governor Malloy's request for religious leaders to use this weekend to talk to their congregations about the upcoming health care deadline.  Residents have until March 31 to sign up for health insurance or face penalties if they are uninsured.

    “March 31st is a really important deadline to receive coverage by this year, so we're really trying to push it for those who have not actually signed up, to at least take a look at it,” said Rev. Cousin.

    To date, more than 165,000 people have enrolled with Access Health CT.  Bethel AME Church has already held three enrollment fairs itself and is thankful to be part of the process to help spread the word.

    “I believe that the church should always be at the forefront of social issues, where we should always be that beacon of hope, where people should be able to come in and not only be able to get their spiritual lives fed, but also let them know what's going on in the community,” said Rev. Cousin.

     


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    A month after the city's medical examiner ruled that the cause and manner of Avonte Oquendo's death could not be determined, the autistic boy's brother says his family is still haunted by the uncertainty of what happened to him in his last hours.

    In a blog post published on the website Autism Speaks, Danny Oquendo recalls the terror and grief he felt following the months of Avonte's disappearance last October

    "Picture in your mind having a loved one who does not possess the ability to communicate effectively. Now imagine this loved one lost in the biggest city in the world, alone, cold, hungry, afraid or worse," Oquendo wrote.

    "How you’re feeling right now is just a fraction of the pain we endured for the months following Avonte’s disappearance. Not knowing whether we would see our beloved Avonte again ate away our souls," he said. 

    Avonte's remains were recovered from the East River near College Point in Queens in January.

    Oquendo said his family thinks that after Avonte ran out of his Long Island City school, "in his frightened and panic state, he possibly jumped into the water and drowned."

    Oquendo said he's determined to never let another family experience the same tragedy. 

    "While we may never know what exactly happened to my younger brother, what we can do is help to avoid this tragic event from happening again," he wrote. "The waves created by this catastrophic incident will ripple through time forcing immediate change to the current security standards of schools across the country, starting with the ones here in New York."

    Oquendo says he believes change is possible because he witnessed just how quickly and tightly New Yorkers banded together in their mission to find Avonte, calling it "one of the most inspiring events to ever occur in my lifetime." 

    "The community came together for a common cause in such an unparalleled way that it renewed my faith in the kindness of humanity. The people of New York responded to our anguish with a tremendous amount of support and vigilance," said Oqeundo.

    "What was even more inspiring was that every volunteer I had the opportunity of meeting acted as if Avonte was their own flesh and blood. It turns out that before it was all said and done Avonte did indeed become the beloved son of the city. His story touched everyone’s heart and everyone wanted to ensure that he was found safe and sound."

    Oqeundo believes Avonte's death "could have been avoided if the school system had only ensured that schools were better equipped to handle children with autism."

    Oquendo said he hopes tragedy spurs momentum to fund schools for proper training and better security.

    He added: "Finally, let this be a reminder that at the end of the day, as tough as New Yorkers are, we can come together as one to achieve common goals that are in the best interest of our children, our loved ones, and our city."

    Oqeundo concludes in his post: "On behalf of my family, I would like to thank all the searchers, marchers and everyone who held us in their thoughts for the love and support you have displayed during these extremely rough times. God bless you."

    Oquendo's family's attorney filed a notice of claim in October, the first step in suing the city, and has publicly listed a number of mistakes he alleges contributed to the boy's disappearance and what he has described as a flawed search effort.

    The city's law department has called the boy's death a tragedy and said its attorneys will review a lawsuit when it's filed.


    Danny Oquendo in the days following his brother Avonte's disappearance.Danny Oquendo in the days following his brother Avonte's disappearance.

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    New Haven police released a photo on Friday of a white van that struck a girl and drove away earlier this week.

    The accident happened around 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday as the girl ran from a school bus to a daycare when she was struck at the intersection of Ferry and Pine Streets. Witnesses said the girl had run across the street to ask the bus driver if that was her bus. When the driver said no, the girl started running back to the daycare when she was struck.

    Police also released surveillance video from inside the bus that recorded audio of the girl's brief conversation with the bus driver.

    "Be careful," the driver said, as the 9-year-old left the bus.

    The white van involved in the accident can be seen on the video driving past the bus.

    "Hold on, Hold on," the bus driver yelled before screaming as the girl was hit by the van.

    The driver in the van sped away from the scene then traveled south on Ferry Street and turned west on Grand Avenue, according to police.

    Investigators have determined the vehicle was a white Chevrolet Express Cargo van from the model years 1996-2002. It has a gray front bumper and "double doors" with windows on the passenger side and double rear doors with windows. The reverse lights are below the tail lights on the upper portion of the van.

    The van would most likely have sustained damage on the front bumper on its passenger side.  The headlight may also be damaged, police said.

    The father of the young girl is urging someone to step forward. Miguel Torres said he was shocked to get a phone call from his daughter's mother early Tuesday telling him about the accident.

    "For the first time, I just went into shock. It's not easy to talk or explain something like this...we're hoping that somebody is going to say something to someone and that someone will think about the tragedy that has befallen this young girl," Torres said.

    His daughter, Gallilea, was rushed to the hospital, but was treated for what police called "non-life threatening" injuries.

    Anyone with information on the van or the driver is asked to call New Haven Police at 203-946-6304. Calls may be made anonymously, police said.



    Photo Credit: New Haven Police

    New Haven police released a photo on Friday of a white van that struck a girl and drove away earlier this week.New Haven police released a photo on Friday of a white van that struck a girl and drove away earlier this week.

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    A blaze ripped through a home in Brookfield early Saturday morning.

    The call came into the fire department around 3 a.m. this morning. When the fire department arrived, the home was completely engulfed in flames.

    The home, along with the garage, is a total loss.

    A neighbor says that they awoke to the smell of smoke. She is close friends with the homeowners and says they were able to make it out safely. The fire chief confirms this.

    Extra water to battle the blaze and hot spots is coming in tankers from neighboring towns since there are no hydrants in the area. Newtown and New Milford assisted on the scene.

    The fire is still under investigation and a cause has not yet been determined.

     


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    Police are investigating after three people were stabbed outside a restaurant and bar in Plainfield overnight.

    Shawn J. Thomas, 22, and James Maynard, 23, both of Plainfield, were stabbed in the parking lot of the Music Lady Cafe at 6 Green Hollow Road in the Central Village section of Plainfield. Police were called to the scene around 1 a.m. Saturday, after Thomas had been transported to the hospital.

    Both victims were taken to William W. Backus Hospital. Thomas was treated and released, while Maynard was transferred to Hartford Hospital for treatment. He is in stable condition.

    Later that morning, at 10:00 a.m.,  police said a third victim went to the Plainfield Police Department. Police said the injury was non-life threatening.

    Anyone with information is asked to call Plainfield police at 860-564-0804 or submit an anonymous tip by calling 860-564-7065.


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    More than a dozen people are displaced following a house fire on Flatbush Avenue in Hartford overnight.

    Fire officials said no one was injured in the blaze, but the multi-family home received heavy smoke damage and residents were forced out of their homes.

    Authorities are investigating to determine the cause of the fire.

    No additional information was immediately available.


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