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    Students at Hall High School in West Hartford are tackling homelessness and working to change how we think of people on the streets.

    A group of seniors is making a movie to showcase the stories of the homeless and help their voices be heard.

    “The faces of the homeless are essentially the faces of the people you walk by on the streets every day. And, at times generally, we just look right through them, no eye contact, and just disregard them completely,” said student Matt Piccone.

    The movie is part of a senior capstone project in Elizabeth Devine's Global Problem Solving class.

    Devine's goal is for her students to use what they learned during their four years at Hall to break down stereotypes that surround homelessness using a 21st-century digital format.

    “Testing has its place, but frankly, if you want to be successful in the work world, you have to be innovative, creative, collaborative, reflective and be willing to apply what you know to a task,” said Devine.

    Students like Piccone and Arielle Landau interviewed the homeless around Hartford, and what they found both surprised them and changed them.

    “Going into it, I definitely thought everyone we would interview would have some mental health issue or were addicts, but that wasn’t the case. They were mostly just down on their luck,” said Landau. “It was one of the most breathtaking, enlightening experiences of my life. I learned, in those three days of interviews, more about myself and about my community than I did in my entire high school career."

    Students created a page on GoFundMe to raise money, which they plan to donate to the Charter Oak Community Center.


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    The Pope Valley fire in Napa County had grown 500 acres to 3,800 acres as of Wednesday morning, according to Cal Fire, which had forced 180 mandatory evacuations, but so far had not injured anyone in the area known for wine making, ranching and farming.

    Cal Fire told NBC Bay Area that the fire was still at Tuesday's containment level of 30 percent, and 380 structures remained threatened. Seven structures had so far been burned.

    Cal Fire firefighters said it was the largest wildfire in the state in weeks. Gov. Jerry Brown said he secured a federal grant to reimburse 75 percent of the firefighting efforts from a FEMA Fire Management Assistance Grant. 

    "We still have a ways to go," Cal Fire Batallion Chief Scott McLean said Wednesday. "We've got some pretty volatile fuels."

    Early in the morning, winds blew the vegetation fire northeast into Lake City, but firefighters were happy that the fire growth seemed to be slowing. NBC Bay Area's chopper flew overhead, and spotted some blazes and hot spots still on fire. A total of 1,000 firefighters were working the blaze.

    "I"m still in shock. It's surreal," said Tina Marchetti, one of the many evacuees who hadn't been to her home in nearly 24 hours. "We've been waiting a long time."

    The fire was first reported on Tuesday just after noon at a home north of the Aetna Springs Winery, off Butts Canyon Road, northwest of Lake Berryessa. The area is east of Calistoga and has a population of just about 600 people.

    Aerial views of the fire still burning in Pope Valley, Tuesday, July 2, 2014.

    Vineyard manager Scott Brown told the Press Democrat that neighbors told him some young men accidentally started the blaze while cutting weeds using a tool with a metal blade.  McLean said he was familiar with the allegation, but would not confirm the account to NBC Bay Area on Wednesday morning.

    State fire spokeswoman State McCambridge said Wednesday that the fire is not affecting the lucrative Napa Valley vineyards. Pope Valley is about 20 miles north of Napa Valley. 

    Roxann Schaubhut, who lives in the area, didn't get to go home late Monday night and seemed to be taking the nearby fire in stride.

    "I really don't think it will get to our house," she said. "We've taken a lot of precautions."

    Smoke from the vegetation fire was visible on Tuesday from several counties -- including Sonoma, Marin and Contra Costa. The smoke was also visible from nearby wineries.

    Residents of the Berryessa Estates subdivision in Pope Valley had been evacuated, Cal Fire said. Evacuations were also are in effect on Snell Valley Road to the Lake County line.

    Two evacuation centers have been setup at at Polk Valley School and at Middletown High School.

    For Cal Fire reports on developments related to the fire, click here.

     

    NBC Bay Area's Jean Elle, The Associated Press and Bay City News contributed to this report.



    Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

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    The recently renovated Ocean House hotel in Watch Hill, Rhode Island has been named the top resort hotel in the country and the No. 5 hotel worldwide, according to Travel and Leisure Magazine's 2014 World’s Best Awards.

    The Ocean House, which reopened in spring 2010 after years of reconstruction, is the newest hotel ever to receive the top honor in the continental U.S. The hotel ranked No. 10 in 2013.

    “We are overjoyed to learn that the Ocean House is receiving the tremendous honor," said Daniel Hostettler, president and group managing director of Ocean House Management, LLC, in a statement. "This accolade is especially rewarding as it is voted on by travelers themselves, and this means that those who have visited our hotel truly see Ocean Hotel as a special place and consider us to be the best in the nation, and even the world.”

    The Ocean House was awarded its fourth consecutive AAA Five Diamond rating earlier this year, Rhode Island’s only establishment to receive such recognition.

    “Being selected as the best hotel in the continental United States is both gratifying and humbling, as we know the expectations of our guests will rise even higher,” said Hostettler, in the statement. “I am sure our committed team will rise to the occasion and achieve even greater levels of success.”
     


    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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    A Kansas City teen will remain in protective custody in Chicago despite his mother's objections, after a judge found credible Wednesday a doctor's testimony that he suffered from medical child abuse.

    Michelle Rider has been fighting to regain custody of her 16-year-old son, Isaiah, ever since he was placed into protective custody after she checked him into a Chicago hospital.

    The teen was admitted to Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago after doctors in three other cities were unable to effectively treat his neurofibromatosis -- a painful condition that causes tumors to grow on his nerves.

    But Lurie officials -- citing Michelle Rider's requests for stronger medications -- told a Cook County Court that it was best that Isaiah be taken into temporary protective custody, saying the boy's symptoms appeared to improve when his mother was not around.

    The juvenile court judge ruled Wednesday that Isaiah must remain in protective custody for another 90 days, on the basis of a doctor's testimony of medical child abuse.

    Juvenile court lawyers said the boy's health has gotten better in foster care where he wasn't being over-medicated.

    Isaiah posted on Facebook that he wants to placed back with his mother, but the judge said he "can't just accept what his wishes are," and that "the main concern is returning the child to physical and emotional safety ASAP."

    He will remain in protective custody for at least the next 90 days while the courts explore transfering the case to the state of Missouri, which would monitor Isaiah's case and report back to Illinois.

    Michelle Rider, who cried in court while the determination was read, said before the hearing that she hoped it would all end soon.

    "Return Isaiah to my care and return him home to Kansas City where he belongs. That's where he wants to be," Rider said. "Their allegations are ludicrous. That they would do anything like this is beyond me."

    Michelle Rider has not been charged with any wrongdoing in the case.

    Hospital officials have said they cannot comment on the case because of privacy concerns.

    A tentative trial date to determine whether the case would be transferred to Missouri was set for Sept. 19.


    Michelle Rider and her son, Isaiah.Michelle Rider and her son, Isaiah.

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    Giving birth on the shoulder of a tollway isn't unheard of in Illinois, but Beth Farina took it a step further.

    En route to Advocate Sherman Hospital in suburban Elgin early Tuesday, Farina felt the baby coming about a mile from the emergency room. Instead of pulling over, though, she told her husband, Trevor Farina, to keep going.

    "When we got on the Tollway, I knew we were not going to make it to the hospital. I was like, 'This baby is coming, you better driver faster,'" Beth Farina said.

    "She told me she feels like we need to push, and I said, 'The best I can do right now is pull over and call 911,' and she told me to keep going," Trevor Farina said.

    Farina delivered her third child, a son named Tobias, in the couple's moving car. It all happened so fast that the next thing he knew, Trevor Farina looked over and saw his wife holding the crying baby.

    "I waited for the next contraction, pushed him out, pulled him up onto my chest," Beth Farina said. "My husband was on the phone with 911 and they said, 'Do you have something to wrap him in?' We found something to wrap him in and wrapped him up."

    Before Farina's contractions started Monday night, the family had gone to their basement because of a tornado warning. Trevor Farina said he fell asleep after the storm, but his wife didn't.

    That's when the contractions began.

    Farina was in labor for about five hours and assumed the delivery would go quickly as it had with her first two children. As they drove to the hospital, she said she could tell they wouldn't make it.

    The couple arrived at the hospital with three in the car instead of two, and both the mom and her baby are doing well.

    Farina said she attributes her calmness during the delivery to her training to become certified as a nurse-midwife -- and the fact that she's given birth twice before.

    "It wasn't planned, but I'm glad it happened the way it did, because it will be a story for the rest of our lives," she said.


    Beth Farina and baby TobiasBeth Farina and baby Tobias

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    An American flag that was flown over the World Trade Center ruins during the 9/11 cleanup and was later given to the sister of a fallen firefighter was stolen from her front yard on Long Island.

    Melissa Brengel said the flag was still in the front yard when she returned to her Huntington Station home at about 10:30 p.m. Monday night. When her husband left for work at about 5:15 a.m. Tuesday, it was gone.

    The flag is particularly special to Brengel and was given to her by the September 11th Families Association. 

    "We put it out during certain times of the year just to remember," she said. 

    "I don't think there's a way [the thief] could have known, but at the same time, they're coming onto my property and taking something that means so much to me and so many Americans," said Brengel.

    Brengel's brother Jonathan Ielpi was a 29-year-old FDNY firefighter working out of Squad 288 in Queens when he died on Sept. 11.

    Her other brother is also in the FDNY, and her father is retired from the department, now running a tribute center in New York City.

    "It hurts me and all of them that somebody could do something like this," she said.

    Brengel's home is at the end of a dead-end street, and while her neighbors also have American flags hanging, "for whatever reason, they took ours."

    She is hoping whoever took the flag somehow hears of its significance and returns it.

     


    The sister of Jonathan Ielpi, an FDNY firefighter killed in the September 11 attacks, is pleading for the return of an American flag stolen from her front yard in Huntington Station on Long IslandThe sister of Jonathan Ielpi, an FDNY firefighter killed in the September 11 attacks, is pleading for the return of an American flag stolen from her front yard in Huntington Station on Long Island

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    Severe thunderstorms moving through Connecticut brought down trees and wires in several Litchfield County towns and caused a lightning strike at a home in Warren, according to emergency officials.

    Severe thunderstorm warnings were issued for Litchfield, Hartford, Tolland and Fairfield counties Wednesday afternoon into the evening but have since expired.

    Litchfield remains under a flash flood warning until 9:45 p.m., and severe thunderstorm watches are in effect statewide until 9 p.m. Flood advisories are also in effect around the state.

    Today's thunderstorm has begun to die down, but not before pummeling parts of the state with heavy rain, vivid lightning and strong, gusty winds of up to 60 mph. There was also the potential for small hail.

    Hundreds of lightning strikes were reported across Litchfield County and New York on Wednesday afternoon, some of which struck trees and even houses, like in Warren.

    Police said a tree came down on Route 189 in Granby while the storm was moving through, falling onto overhead wires and causing more than 700 power outages in the neighborhood. The road was closed for about an hour while crews responded to the scene.

    Emergency officials have also reported trees and wires down in Enfield, Winsted, Sharon, Torrington and Barkhamsted due to strong winds and stormy conditions.

    Water in the roadway caused a hole in the pavement to form near 79 Main Street in Torrington, which firefighters say has happened before. According to fire officials, rushing water from heavy rain may have popped off a manhole cover.

    Residents were advised to stay indoors and away from windows at the height of the storm.

    We're also tracking Tropical Storm Arthur, which is moving up the East Coast and could contribute to heavy rain here in Connecticut on Thursday and the Fourth of July.

    As of 8 p.m. Wednesday, Arthur was just below hurricane strength. It's expected to become a category 1 hurricane sometime Wednesday night.

    Today's severe weather and the threat of more rain have prompted several towns to postpone fireworks displays.

    Fortunately, rain is expected to move out as the day progresses on Friday, leaving the second part of the holiday weekend dominated by nice weather.

    Send your severe weather photos to shareit@nbcconnecticut.com.



    Photo Credit: David Scales

    Lightning lit up the sky in Southington on Wednesday.Lightning lit up the sky in Southington on Wednesday.

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    Hundreds flooded a town hall meeting Wednesday night to voice their opinion on the buses of migrant families being shuttled into a Southern California city as its mayor said the town feels "dumped on" by the federal government.

    The meeting at Murrieta Mesa High School in Murrieta was at capacity as both supporters and opponents made their frustrations known.

    "So you are against immigration? Splendid! When do you leave?" one sign read. "We are not illegal, we are humans," read another.

    The town hall meeting comes one day after buses carrying migrant families were rerouted to a U.S.-Mexican border station Tuesday after being blocked by protesters in Murrieta waving American flags.

    Protesters, some yelling, "They're not born here!" and "Go back to Mexico!" stood in the street, blocking the buses as they were headed to the city's border patrol station.

    Police stood firm in front of the three-bus convoy carrying 140 undocumented immigrants, who illegally crossed into the United States through Texas.

    "Their number one priority was to keep everyone safe, people on the buses safe, protesters on both sides of this issue safe, and that's exactly what they did," Murrieta Mayor Alan Long said in an interview before the town hall. "They allowed people to exercise their constitutional rights."

    Emotional residents applauded the fact the buses turned away and demanded more action.

    "Please use the word illegal aliens," one attendee said to applause. "They came across here illegally."

    To one person's question at the town hall as to whether the city would see another bus, city officials said they will "receive one airplane every 72 hours."

    Meanwhile, demonstrators outside the town hall expressed empathy and held signs in support of the move to let the buses in.

    "I am undocumented myself and I understand what it feels like to be pushed away and not wanted in this country," a woman waiting outside said.

    The city's mayor addressed that Murrieta has been thrust into the national spotlight because this border patrol station is in his city.

    He said in an interview that he feels compassion for migrant families who are escaping violence and poverty in Central America, but he's also frustrated by the lack of guidance from federal authorities.

    "And now we feel like we're being dumped on, and we are utilizing our resources with no financial help, with no resource help," Long said. "In fact, the Department of Homeland Security to date has not talked to us about this."

    Long said he is also frustrated with the country's leaders for failing to act on immigration reform and putting his city on the front line of a national border debate.

    "That's the frustrating part," Long said. "You have both sides the White House saying there's an issue needs to be fixed, Congress saying needs to be fixed."

    More buses are scheduled to arrive in Murrieta on Friday, and the police are preparing for protesters to be there, too.

    "I would anticipate if everyone remained peaceful, you would see the same outcome," Long said.

    Christina Cocca contributed to this report.



    Photo Credit: Robert Kovacik

    Both supporters and opponents gathered at a Murrieta town hall Wednesday, July 2, 2014, to voice their opinion on the buses of families who crossed into the US illegally through Texas being shuttled into their city.Both supporters and opponents gathered at a Murrieta town hall Wednesday, July 2, 2014, to voice their opinion on the buses of families who crossed into the US illegally through Texas being shuttled into their city.

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    Fire destroyed a home on Thompson Street in Glastonbury on Wednesday night and investigators are trying to determine what started it. 

    When crews arrived, the home was engulfed. The fire was so intense that firefighters were not able to get inside.

    No one was home when the fire started, according to fire officials, and no injuries are reported.

    The home is in an area with no fire hydrants, so crews needed to bring in water.

    To help battle the blaze, several towns sent firefighters and provide mutual aid, including Colchester, Marlborough, Portland and Hebron.

     

    Check back for updates.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Thompson Street in Glastonbury is closed while crews battle a fire.Thompson Street in Glastonbury is closed while crews battle a fire.

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    Hundreds of people turned out for a public meeting in Hartford Wednesday night on the future of the Rock Cats.

    Earlier this summer, the minor league baseball team announced plans to move from New Britain to Hartford for the 2016 season as long as Hartford builds a new stadium.

    At the meeting, opponents blasted the city for its lack of transparency with negotiations and spoke out against potential tax increases.

    Supporters praised the project.

    Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra outlined his vision to not only build a stadium just north of downtown, but to also bring in new housing, a supermarket, shops, and other development.

    “We have this incredible opportunity,” said Segarra.

    The city just issued a Request for Proposals seeking private developers for the area to help offset the cost of the $60 million stadium construction.

    “It’s meant to expand the grand list so that the tax burden on our residents goes down, not the opposite,” said Segarra.

    The city showed numbers from consultants that project the stadium could result in 903 construction jobs, 665 ongoing jobs, and 23,700 hotel rooms booked every year.

    Residents left the meeting with plenty of questions still unanswered.

    “I don’t see yet how we’re going to pay for it,” said Frank Lord of Hartford.

    “Let the baseball spend their own money to build it,” said Patricia Nelson of Hartford.

    Development proposals are due to the city by Aug. 1.

    The Hartford City Council still has to approve the stadium project.


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    Louis Zamperini, a member of the 1936 U.S. Olympic track and field team who survived repeated torture for two years as a Japanese prisoner of war during World War II, died Wednesday from pneumonia at the age of 97, his family announced.

    "After a 40-day long battle for his life, he peacefully passed away in the presence of his entire family, leaving behind a legacy that has touched so many lives. His indomitable courage and fighting spirit were never more apparent than in these last days," his family said in a statement released by Universal Pictures, which will release a movie on Zamperini's life, "Unbroken."

    The movie, an adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand's book directed by Angelina Jolie, is scheduled to be released Christmas Day. Jolie called Zamperini's death "a loss impossible to describe."

    "We are all so grateful for how enriched our lives are for having known him," Jolie said.

    In May, Zamperini was selected to be grand marshal of the 2015 Rose Parade -- themed "Inspiring Stories" -- on New Year's Day in Pasadena, California. The former University of Southern California track star wore a Trojans cap as he talked about the book and film based on his inspirational story and his new friend, Jolie.

    "After the book was finished, all of my college buddies were dead, all of my war buddies were dead -- it's sad to realize you've lost all of your friends," said Zamperini. "But I think I made up for it. I made a new friend -- Angelina Jolie. The gal really loves me. She hugs me and kisses me, so I can't complain."

    Born in 1917 to Italian immigrants in Olean, New York, Zamperini moved to the Southern California community of Torrance in 1919 and became a world-class distance runner by the time he graduated from Torrance High School. He set an interscholastic record of 4:21 in the mile at a state championship preliminary meet.

    His ability and drive to compete on the track won him a scholarship to USC, where he was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. At 19, he became part of a long tradition of USC track Olympians when he made the U.S. team. He was the country's top finisher -- eighth place -- in the 5,000-meter race at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

    His ran his final lap in a blistering 56 seconds, prompting Germany's Adolf Hitler to request a personal meeting with him. In an interview with NBC News, Zamperini said Hitler commented on his strong finish.

    "That was it," Zamperini said. "I couldn't really shake hands, he was up pretty high. So I just reached up and touched his hand."

    Zamperini retired from competition to serve his country during World War II, becoming a bombardier and in the South Pacific. While on a reconnaissance mission, Zamperini's aircraft crashed into the Pacific Ocean in Japanse-controlled waters. He and a surviving crewmate spent 47 days adrift on an inflatable raft before being captured by Japanese soldiers when they reached the Marshall Islands.

    He was a POW for more than two years, during which time he was frequently beaten and tortured by his captors in prison camps.

    "It was heartbreaking," he said during a recent interview with Tom Brokaw. "But I never had a thought in my mind ever about giving up."

    Zamperini returned to Southern California to a hero's welcome and later returned to Japan to carry the Olympic torch at the Nagano Games.

    Suffering from post traumatic disorder, Zamperini found solace in 1949 when he became a born-again Christian after attending a Los Angeles crusade led by evangelist Billy Graham. He eventually became an inspirational speaker preaching the power of forgiveness.

    He practiced what he preached in 1950, when he went to Sugamo Prison in Tokyo -- where Japanese war criminals were being held -- and met with some of his torturers to offer them forgiveness, hugging them in the process.

    At age 81, Zamperini -- a five-time Olympic torch-bearer -- ran a leg in the torch relay for the Winter Olympics in Nagano. During his visit, he attempted to meet with his most brutal tormentor during the war, Mutsuhiro Watanabe, but Watanabe --who escaped prosecution as a war criminal -- refused to see him.

    In 2005, Zamperini returned to Germany to visit the Berlin Olympic Stadium for the first time since he competed there in 1936.

    Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti releasted a statement Thursday on Zamparini's death.

    "I am saddened to learn of the passing of one of our finest Angelenos, Louis Zamperini, a World War II hero, Olympian and inspiration for our nation. My thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family, particularly his son Luke, chief inspector for Training and Emergency Management at the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety."

    The Tournament of Roses also released a statement Thursday in which officials said Zamparini will be honored as Grand Marshal at the 2015 parade.

    "Louis Zamperini was and will continue to be the embodiment of the 2015 Tournament of Roses theme 'Inspiring Stories,'" Tournament of Roses President Richard L. Chinen said in a statement. "As we mourn the passing of a member of the Tournament of Roses family, one who was moved to be asked to serve as Grand Marshal, we are honored to shine the light on one who truly lived a life of unconditional love, courageous perseverance and patient endurance. He shared with us that his faith in God was his inspiration to be content in plenty and in want. At this time, we pray that Louis' family and friends may find strength knowing that that the story of Louis' journey will inspire the world."

    Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


    Louis Zamperini, 94, at his Hollywood home. Credit: Brad GraversonLouis Zamperini, 94, at his Hollywood home. Credit: Brad Graverson

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    Your Fourth of July plans might be in limbo because of the forecast, but you will be able to buy alcohol.

    Liquor stores can stay open on Friday, July 4, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., according to the state Department of Consumer Protection. 

    Grocery stores that are licensed to sell beer can do so on July 4 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

    If you are planning on picking up beer or wine on your way to a party, you might want to check with your local store to see if they will be open.


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    Cromwell police said a crash involving at least 2 vehicles on Route 372 near the Sherwin-Williams paint store is not serious and the road remains open.

    The store is located at 50 Berlin Road.

    No additional information was immediately available.
     



    Photo Credit: Mapquest

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    Medical marijuana dispensaries in Berkeley will likely soon be required to provide free pot to low-income members and homeless people, according to an ordinance approved by the city council on Tuesday.

    The city is also looking to approve a fourth dispensary, raising the current limit of three locations.

    The proposed ordinance, first reported by the East Bay Express, requires that Berkeley dispensaries give away two percent of the amount of cannabis they sell each year low-income people. And the pot can't be poor quality either. The proposed city ordinance reads (PDF) that the "medical cannabis provided under this section shall be the same quality on average" as marijuana "dispensed to other members."

    “It’s sort of a cruel thing that when you are really ill and you do have a serious illness... it can be hard to work, it can be hard to maintain a job and when that happens, your finances suffer and then you can’t buy the medicine you need,” said Sean Luce with the Berkeley Patients Group.

    In order to be eligible, a person must qualify for exemption from local taxes and fees, an income level that's set every year by the city council. That equates to $32,000 a year for one person and $46,000 a year for a family of four.

    The ordinance is awaiting final approval, but could become law in August.



    Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

    File photo.File photo.

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    Darien police have arrested a man who they said fled the scene of a minor crash, admitted he was trying to get away from police and had drugs in his vehicle. The original incident occurred on Post Road near a street appropriately called Weed’s Landing.

    Police said John Tyler Keegan, 22, of Darien, was initially involved in a minor crash, but things got worse from there.

    He left the scene, according to police, and an officer tried to stop Keegan’s car on Post Road, but he sped off.

    Then, he made a quick turn onto a side street, crossed over Goodwives River Road and lost control of his car, went off the road and hit a fence and a tree, police said.

    After police took Keegan into custody, he said “I hate cops” and told officers he was trying to get away from police when he lost control of his car, police said.

    As police were going through Keegan’s car, police found drugs and seized the vehicle.

    After obtaining a search warrant, police found a small amount of marijuana and hash oil and “various items to manufacture, smoke, and vaporize these substances.”

    They also found a fake iPod with 40 Xanax and Clonazepam pills hidden inside, police said.

    Keegan turned himself in to the Darien Police Department on July 2 after learning there was an arrest warrant for him, police said.

    He was charged with illegal possession of prescription narcotics, possession of narcotics with intent to sell, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

    Keegan posted a $5,000.00 court-set bond and is scheduled to appear in Stamford Superior Court on July 14. 

     



    Photo Credit: Darien Police

    John Tyler Keegan was arrested on several drug charges.John Tyler Keegan was arrested on several drug charges.

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    A sunken boat found a few hundred yards off Lighthouse Point in New Haven might have been abandoned for awhile, according to divers who responded to the scene.

    The Coast Guard is investigating. They said on Thursday morning that they had no indication that anyone is in the boat, which has an old Rhode Island registration.

    Divers said there is a lot of vegetation in the cabin, so the boat might have been abandoned and underwater for awhile.

    Divers from the New Haven Fire Department are assisting in the investigation, but it is too dangerous to go in while the vessel is underwater, so the boat will be towed.

    More information will be posted once it becomes available.
     



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    A boat sunk off LighthouseA boat sunk off Lighthouse

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    This man has stolen from LensCrafters at Westfarms Mall three times since April, according to Farmington police, and they hope you can help identify him.

    The man stole two pairs of Oakley sunglasses on June 20 by hiding them in a pocket of his pants and leaving without paying, police said.

    This is the third burglary he has committed at the same LensCrafters store, according to police. The other thefts were on April 9 and April 10.

    The man is 5-feet-9 and heavyset, weighing around 300 pounds. As you can see from the surveillance photo, he has brown hair and is balding.

    Anyone with information about who he is should call Farmington Officer Kory Vincent at (860) 675-2400 or e-mail vincentk@farmington-ct.org.

    To leave an anonymous tip, call the Farmington Police Department’s tip-line at (860) 675-2483. 

     



    Photo Credit: Farmington Police

    Police said this man has stolen from the Lenscrafters at Westfarms three times since April.Police said this man has stolen from the Lenscrafters at Westfarms three times since April.

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    Police are investigating after a 44-year-old man was shot to death on Main Street in East Hartford late Wednesday night.

    The victim, Michael Mikulske, of Main Street in East Hartford, was shot several times during a dispute, according to police.

    Investigators responded to the scene around 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The victim was taken to Hartford Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

    Police are investigating and have not identified a suspect.

    If you have information about the shooting, call the Criminal Investigations Bureau Crime
    Tip line at 860-289-9134.

    Tips can remain anonymous.


     



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    A man has died after he was shot outside the VFW hall on Main Street in East Hartford late Wednesday night.A man has died after he was shot outside the VFW hall on Main Street in East Hartford late Wednesday night.

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    The family of a California State University, Northridge student who died while hiking on a trip with members of a school fraternity is looking for answers and justice following what they believe was a hazing incident.

    Armando Villa, a 19-year-old "associate member," or pledge, of the Zeta Mu Chapter of Pi Kappa Phi at CSUN, died Tuesday during an outing in the Angeles National Forest, officials said.

    The group ran out of water and the teen lost consciousness on the trail near Big Tujunga Canyon Road, according to the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department.

    The others flagged down a forest ranger and the teen was taken to a hospital, where he died.

    According to Villa's aunt Marie Castaneda, three boys that were on the hike with Villa were at the hospital and told his family that they were "left barefoot with very little water to share between the boys, and no cellphones, and to find their way out of the forest."

    "The doctor was really concerned because [Armando's] feet were blistered and cut, and he, he used the word 'hazing' to my sister because it was a fraternity-sponsored event that they were on," Castaneda said.

    Villa had just completed his freshman year at CSUN. His cousin told NBC4 that from what he understood, this event was supposed to take place about a month and a half ago, but that it was moved.

    Family members said Villa was eager to make friends at school.

    "He wanted to be part of a group at school and you know what better way to be part of a group than being in a fraternity," said Villa's cousin, Efrain Lopez. "During the pledges, he kind of felt out of it, didn't really like it, didn't enjoy it as much as he thought he would."

    Lopez said Villa had previously told his cousins about another uncomfortable ritual for new members.

    "They were blindfolded and when Armando took the blindfold off, [the pledges] were at a beach and [the fraternity members] told them that they have to lay on the sand with their elbows in the sand for who knows how long," Lopez said. "Armando got home and his elbows were all, like the skin was basically coming off and cut up from the sand, and that’s when Armando was like, I don’t want to do this anymore."

    Castaneda said Tuesday's event, which was called "Saw," was the final pledge challenge, required for securing a spot in the fraternity.

    "In his cellphone he had actually notes to himself. And I think it was just notes of what he would do when he got in the fraternity," Castaneda said. "One of the things he had on there was stop hazing and the second thing was stop making underage students drink alcohol as part of their pledges."

    Homicide detectives believe Villa's death was accidental and possibly caused by a heat stroke, LASD officials said. But Villa's family wants the pledges who were with Armando to come forward and tell them what exactly happened Tuesday. They feel the fraternity should be held responsible for his death.

    "The men in charge of this fraternity, you know, the ones that left them there, we want [punishment] for these guys cause they, they murdered our child. They killed him. They left him there to die," Castaneda said.

    The fraternity chapter has suspended all activities during an investigation into the incident. Pi Kappa Phi Chief Executive Officer Mark E. Timmes said that at this point, the group's "primary concern is supporting our members and the student's family."

    "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the student," Timmes said. "We appreciate the support from the Division of Student Affairs and the entire CSUN community during this difficult time."

    NBC4's Kate Larsen contributed to this report.



    Photo Credit: Villa Family

    Armando Villa, a 19-year-old Armando Villa, a 19-year-old "associate member," or pledge, of the Zeta Mu Chapter at CSUN, died Tuesday, July 1, 2014, during the outing in the Angeles National Forest, officials said.

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    Emergency crews are responding to an accident at the intersection of Route 30 and Route 74 in Tolland, where three cars collided early Thursday afternoon, according to state police.

    It's not clear if anyone has been injured or if the intersection is closed.

    No additional information was immediately available.

    Check back for updates.



    Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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