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    Police are searching for the men who shot a teen during a confrontation in Bridgeport over the weekend.

    Surveillance footage shows the three men approaching the 16-year-old victim outside a store near the intersection of Stratford and Newfield avenues around 9:45 p.m. Nov. 3.

    One fires a gun and the three people run from the scene. Police said the victim suffered non-life threatening injuries and is expected to make a full recovery.

    Investigators are working to identify the shooters, who appear to be wearing dark-colored sweatshirts with the hoods pulled over their heads.

    “People know the identities of these individuals, and we are asking for the community’s help,” Capt. Armando Perez, head of the Bridgeport police detective division, said in a statement on Thursday. “We’re asking people to look closely at the suspects’ clothing, their sneakers, their stature, how the walk. We are confident that someone would recognize them and we ask for them to contact investigators.”

    Anyone with information is urged to call Bridgeport police Det. Kenneth McKenna at 203-581-5245 or Det. Art Calvao at 203-581-5240.



    Photo Credit: Bridgeport Police Department

    Police are looking for the men who shot a teen in Bridgeport.Police are looking for the men who shot a teen in Bridgeport.

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    Six local U.S. Marine units have kicked off their annual Toys for Tots drive in the Hartford area and already, residents are pitching in.

    “My dad was a Marine, fought in World War II, and I wanted to come and give something back," said Dorothy Moore, who headed to the Toys"R"Us in North Haven to purchase her contribution. "And I asked them, ‘Do you want $100 or should I go buy toys?’ So they actually got more out of me, because I spent more than the hundred."

    Moore picked out toys she knew her 2-year-old granddaughter would like and added them to the growing pile.

    It's just the beginning of a month-long campaign at Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us stores, and Moore said she hopes others will do the same.

    “Come buy a toy. It makes you feel good, and you're doing something good for somebody,” she said.

    Toys"R"Us store manager Andrea Chainyk said community members can donate new, unwrapped toys through Dec. 7 and make monetary donations through Dec. 24.

    All donations will benefit local families who need help putting toys under the tree.

    “The toys get brought to a warehouse where they're divided up by age groups, and as far as I'm aware, the community comes and they get to pick the toys from the bins,” said U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Jennifer Viscuso.

    Right now, the biggest needs are gifts for older teens and toys for toddlers and infants.

    If you donate a toy, make sure to tweet an “un-selfie” with the hashtag "playitforward." For every photo tweeted, Toys"R"Us will donate another toy as part of Shaquille O’Neal’s Play It Forward Challenge.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    Lost among the commotion of another very competitive race for governor in Connecticut was the fact that Republicans attained their highest number of seats in 20 years in the Connecticut House.

    "I think it's a sea change," said State Rep. Larry Cafero, of Norwalk, the Republicans' outgoing minority leader.

    Some of the gains came in southern Connecticut, where Republicans outside New Haven gave gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley consistent support.

    The balance of power in the Connecticut House shifted from 97 Democrats and 57 Republicans to 87 Democrats and 67 Republicans on Election Day.

    Even with the shift, House Speaker Brendan Sharkey told reporters that he doesn't think the dynamic will change much inside the House chamber, where he said working with the other party is the norm.

    "More than 95 percent of the bills we do are done on a bipartisan basis so I think it's important always to listen to what the public are telling us," Sharkey said.

    Cafero said the gains shouldn't be viewed as the Connecticut microcosm of the GOP wave that swept across the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, but said he thinks it will affect how policy is crafted before it reaches the House floor.

    “Now they have to count every vote because it’s that close, so people are going to think a lot harder about their votes," Cafero said. "I think bills are going to be scrutinized a lot more. I think it’s a huge, huge, political difference for the state of Connecticut.”



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    The fire chief in Middlebury faces federal charges, accused of embezzling $70,000 from the town's volunteer fire department, according to federal prosecutors.

    Middlebury Fire Chief Paul Perrotti, 47, was arrested on Thursday morning at his Middlebury home. He pleaded not guilty in Bridgeport federal court on Thursday to three counts of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds.

    Perrotti, a licensed electrician, has served as the president and fire chief of the Middlebury Volunteer Fire Department since 1996 and has operated Paul Perrotti Electric, LLC since 2010.

    He's accused of paying for personal and business expenses with money from Middlebury Volunteer Fire Department accounts from January 2011 through December 2013, according to prosecutors. Perrotti has been stripped of his title and suspended from the fire department.

    In May, FBI agents raided the Middlebury Volunteer Fire Department while looking into reports of mishandled department finances related to fire chief business. The U.S. Attorney's office said the raid was connected to the investigation that led to Perrotti's arrest.

    Perrotti said at the time that he was not involved in any wrongdoing and had completely cooperated with federal agents to give them the information they requested. He said he believed the allegations came from a vengeful former firefighter. 

    According to the indictment, Perrotti used fire department funds to pay his electric company, employees, company vendors and personal loans.

    He also opened a Home Depot credit under in the fire department's name, but used it to buy supplies for his electric company, prosecutors said. Perrotti is also accused of using the fire department debit card for personal expenses such as food and gas.

    Perrotti is accused of submitting false invoices to the town of Middlebury, claiming that personal and electric company charges were related to fire department operations.

    Middlebury First Selectman and former fire chief Ed St. John didn't comment on the case, but said that keeping the town's fire service going is of the "utmost importance."

    He asked residents to support acting fire chief Tony Bruno, who met with fellow firefighters Thursday evening to update them on the case and "keep morale up."

    Bruno said the fire department will continue working as a team and providing the same services to the community it always has.

    NBC Connecticut spoke with Perrotti outside the courthouse, but he declined to comment on his arrest. He was freed on a $250,000 non-surety bond and will appear in court for jury selection on Jan. 9.

    Perrotti could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Middlebury Fire Chief Paul Perrotti, 47, of Middlebury, is charged with three counts of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds, according to the United States Attorney's Office in Connecticut. He pleaded not guilty in court in Bridgeport on Thursday morning.Middlebury Fire Chief Paul Perrotti, 47, of Middlebury, is charged with three counts of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds, according to the United States Attorney's Office in Connecticut. He pleaded not guilty in court in Bridgeport on Thursday morning.

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    Four Department of Correction employees and two employees of UConn's Correctional Managed Health Care have are on administrative leave "following significant concern over their actions with regard to an offender's medical needs," according to the DOC.

    The DOC did not elaborate on the situation or explain what those medical needs entail but said the inmate is now receiving treatment at an outside medical facility.

    "The Department of Correction's Security Division is in the early stages of an active investigation," said Karen Martucci, acting director of external affairs for the DOC.

    The employees on leave have not been publicly identified. It's not clear where the alleged incident took place.

    Check back for updates.



    Photo Credit: Getty

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    Before you even sit down for Thanksgiving dinner this year, retail stores will be opening their doors to Black Friday shoppers.

    Westfarms Mall announced today that it plans to open at 6 p.m., two hours earlier than last year.

    "The mall's hours of operation are largely determined by our retailers based upon feedback from customers and the necessity to remain competitive in the marketplace,” Westfarms Mall General Manager Kevin Keenan said in a statement Thursday.

    “For example, all Macy's and Lord & Taylor stores announced they will open at 6PM on Thanksgiving and JC Penney will open at 5PM on Thanksgiving nationwide. In addition, based on our sales results from last year, most retailers are embracing this earlier opening trend and want to be open to take advantage of the shopper demand at these times," Keenan continued.

    It’s good news for shoppers looking to cash in on Black Friday deals, but not everyone is happy is about the extended holiday shopping hours. Extended hours means the Thanksgiving holiday is cut short for mall workers.

    Westfarms employee who asked not to be identified said store security guards passed out letters to all mall employees Thursday afternoon explaining the new store hours.

    "I was mad. I was really upset," the employee wrote in a message to NBC Connecticut on Thursday. "The idea of having to come in at 6 p.m. which is the time my family sits down for dinner was appalling. Thanksgiving is one of the few holidays in which my entire family gets together and we're able to spend the entire time together."

    According to the employee, the mall had originally planned to open at 8 p.m. but the hours were changed to accommodate the earlier hours at JC Penney and Macy's.

    "I understand people want to get their sales and deals but that's what Black Friday is for!! As far as I was concerned the holiday shopping season does not officially start until Black Friday," she added. "It's just frustrating that all of the employees that work at Westfarms won't get an opportunity to spend the day with their families like they should."



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    Community members gathered tonight to remember a Hartford teen who police say was stabbed to death by his cousin over the weekend.

    Dozens attended a candlelight vigil Thursday night to say their goodbyes to 17-year-old Bryan Salaman Acosta, who was murdered Sunday outside his Bedford Street home.

    "It was just horrible. He didn't deserve said," said Greishalee Badillo, a friend of Salaman Acosta.

    Salaman Acosta was a sophomore at Bulkeley High School and a member of the swim team. Grief counselors have been on hand, and the school postponed parent-teacher conferences scheduled for tonight so community members could attend the vigil.

    "Everybody wanted to be just like him and everybody wanted to set the same goals he had," said Jose Flores, a close friend of the victim and recent graduate of Bulkeley High School. "I loved him like family. I loved him a lot."

    Friends said Salaman Acosta was a popular student with a bright future and fun-loving personality. They want him to be remembered as a positive person and great role model.

    "When I first met him, he really did touch my heart. He touched my life and he made a huge impact," said Badillo. "He made a lot of people happy and he made a lot of differences in their lives."

    Salaman Acosta's cousin, 28-year-old Edwin Ruiz, has been charged in the teen's murder. Ruiz admitted to the stabbing and told family members he was going to jail, according to police. He's due back in court Nov. 24.

    Members of the school community will held a remembrance ceremony outside Bulkeley High School at 1 p.m. Monday to say their goodbyes.

    "The passing of one of our students is always painful, regardless of the circumstances. It is particularly upsetting when the subject of our grief is a young man, who was very active in school sports activities and well loved by his teachers and classmates," Hartford Supt. Beth Shiavino-Narvaez said in a statement earlier this week.

    A wake for Salaman Acosta will be held Saturday from 4-6 p.m. at the Deleon Funeral Home at 104 Main Street in Hartford.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com/Facebook

    Dozens gathered to remember 17-year-old Bryan Salaman Acosta, who was stabbed to death over the weekend.Dozens gathered to remember 17-year-old Bryan Salaman Acosta, who was stabbed to death over the weekend.

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    The Hartford man accused of brutally stabbing his ex-girlfriend to death and attempting to violate her dead body admitted to smoking crack cocaine and drinking alcohol the night of the murder, according to documents presented in court on Thursday.

    According to the paperwork, murder victim Luz Nieves, 45, accused Alex Baez-Franqui, 40, of being unfaithful to her Saturday night and asked him to leave the apartment they shared on Hanmer Street.

    Baez-Franqui told investigators he had been drinking with Nieves and smoked crack cocaine prior to the attack, according to the warrant for his arrest.

    He told police Nieves began “nagging” him, so he pulled out a kitchen knife, "shook it out of frustration" and placed it on the table. He then went into the bathroom to smoke more crack cocaine while Nieves continued to nag him through the closed door, the arrest warrant says.

    Baez-Franqui told investigators he “lost control” and retrieved the knife, holding Nieves down on the living room futon and stabbing her repeatedly. Court documents say Baez-Franqui then cleaned up the crime scene and smoked more crack cocaine before attempting to violate her dead body.

    He told police he was "sorry" and blamed “pent up anger” from when he was sexually assaulted at the age of 14, according to the warrant for his arrest. Baez-Franqui said he knew what he did was wrong.

    Nieves, a Travelers Insurance employee whom colleagues described as an “outstanding employee,” was reported missing after she failed to show up for work two days in a row, according to police.

    Police searched the apartment and found her body, bloody and half-naked, with “multiple stab wounds to her torso and neck,” according to Hartford police spokesman Deputy Chief Brian Foley.

    Family members of Nieves sobbed in court on Thursday and described her as a loving mother and grandmother. They said the couple had never reported having problems in the past.

    A public defender representing Baez-Franqui in court on Thursday requested detoxification and mental health treatment for the suspect.

    "I can't talk right now. I'm in shock," said Baez-Franqui's aunt, who, still reeling from the shocking details of the case, told NBC Connecticut she was having a "panic attack" and was planning to move because she was "so scared."

    A judge raised Baez-Franqui’s bond from $1 million to $2 million. He’s due back in court Nov. 21.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Alex Baez-Franqui, 40, is accused of stabbing his ex-girlfriend to death and trying to violate her dead body.Alex Baez-Franqui, 40, is accused of stabbing his ex-girlfriend to death and trying to violate her dead body.

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    Authorities are investigating after a Torrington resident was found dead in a home on Forest Street on Thursday, according to police.

    Police said the resident was one of two people reported missing on Wednesday night. Investigators followed up on Thursday and found a dead body in a third-floor apartment at 34 Forest Street.

    "A deceased body was found at that location, so we're investigating that and processing the scene currently," Torrington police spokesman Sgt. Linas Venclauskas said.

    Authorities said they've made progress in tracking down the second missing person but declined to reveal any details of the case. Police could only say there is no danger to the public.

    "There were some suspicious factors," Venclauskas said.

    Detectives are following leads with help from the State Police Major Crimes Division. A medical examiner will conduct an autopsy to determine the person's cause of death.

    Neighbors, who wondered if it might have involved a dispute between a mother and son, were shocked to hear the news.

    "This is a lot of excitement for this block," Gustav Hudson said. "This is also a very bad tragedy to see what happened in this whole thing."

    Police said they had been called to the home before but not for anything of this magnitude.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Police are investigating an untimely death on Forest Street in Torrington.Police are investigating an untimely death on Forest Street in Torrington.

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    North Texas is hours away from officially being declared Ebola-free, capping 38 days of monitoring touched off when the nation's first patient was diagnosed in Dallas with the deadly virus.

    The last person being monitored for symptoms of the virus will be cleared Friday night, Dallas officials said. That person handled medical waste.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team in town to help local health officials with the Ebola response left Saturday.

    The crisis began when Thomas Eric Duncan tested positive for the virus Sept. 30. He died 10 days later at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

    Texas Christian University graduate Nina Pham, one of the nurses who cared for Duncan, tested positive for the virus Oct. 11. Amber Vinson, her colleague who also treated Duncan, tested positive for the virus four days later. Both have since recovered.

    CDC officials said they monitored 177 people overall who had contact with Duncan, Pham and Vinson.

    Health officials said they will investigate how the Ebola virus was handled in North Texas and issue a report in the coming weeks.


    After several weeks of trying to contain the Ebola virus, health officials say North Texas is hours away from being declared Ebola free. (Nov. 7, 2014)After several weeks of trying to contain the Ebola virus, health officials say North Texas is hours away from being declared Ebola free. (Nov. 7, 2014)

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    A 22-year-old woman kidnapped along a Philadelphia street and held hostage for three days is recovering in private one day after an emotional reunion with her family.

    Nursing aide Carlesha Freeland-Gaither returned to Philadelphia early Thursday morning, her family and police in tow, after being rescued from the grips of her accused captor, Delvin Barnes, in Maryland. A criminal complaint detailing federal charges against Barnes, a man authorities described as a “vicious predator,” says he has confessed to the crimes.

    Thursday marked Freeland-Gaither's first return to the city after she was abducted in Germantown Sunday night. The entire violent encounter was caught on surveillance video.

    She has since been moved to an undisclosed location where she will be able to begin to process the violent experience and heal, Philadelphia police said.

    Detective Jim Sloan, the lead local investigator on the case, recounted meeting Freeland-Gaither at a Maryland hospital Wednesday night.

    “I entered the room. She was upset. I just told her ‘I’ve been looking for you.’ She started to cry and hugged her mother,” he said, describing the moment as “touching.”

    The police department is providing the Freeland-Gaither and her family with counseling and other victim assistance resources, according to officials.

    Sloan praised the efforts of witness Dwayne Fletcher, who the detective said helped investigators get a jump start on the abduction case.

    “He witnessed it. He watched. He called the police twice. He waited for me. This man is a hero,” Sloan said. He added that Fletcher should be given the $47,000 reward that was being offered in the case.

    As Freeland-Gaither rested, her alleged abductor was in a Maryland courtroom for an extradition hearing. The judge presiding over the hearing approved Barnes’ extradition to Virginia, where he is wanted on attempted capital murder and rape charges.

    Barnes donned an orange jumpsuit and appeared in court through closed circuit television. He only gave "yes" and "no" answers to the judge.

    Meanwhile, the U.S. Attorney's Office filed federal kidnapping charges against Barnes Thursday evening.

    Barnes admitted he abducted Freeland-Gaither and that he chose her at random, according to the federal criminal complaint.

    He was extradited to Virginia late Thursday so that prosecutors there can move forward with their attempted murder case. Federal officials are expected to proceed later.


    Contact Vince Lattanzio at 610.668.5532, vince.lattanzio@nbcuni.com or follow @VinceLattanzio on Twitter.



    Photo Credit: Philadelphia Police

    Philadelphia Police hope this surveillance photo can help find the man who abducted a 22-year-old woman off of a city street.Philadelphia Police hope this surveillance photo can help find the man who abducted a 22-year-old woman off of a city street.

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    Metro-North is adding service on the New Haven line as of Sunday and that includes trains leaving each half hour between New Haven and New York, during peak as well as off-peak hours.

    Schedules:

    • Three new midday trains will leave from New Haven on weekdays at 11:25 a.m., 12:25 p.m. and 1:25 p.m.
    • Four new trains will leave from Grand Central Terminal at 9:34 a.m., 10:34 a.m., 11:34 a.m. (which will replace the 11:34 a.m. express to Stamford), and 12:34 p.m.
    • On Saturdays, new trains will leave New Haven at 2:25 p.m., 3:25 p.m., and 6:25 p.m.; new trains will leave New York at 10:34 a.m., 11:34 a.m. 12:34 p.m., 1:34 p.m., 2:34 p.m., and 10:34 p.m.
    • On Sundays, new trains will leave New Haven at 2:25 p.m., 3:25 p.m., and 7:25 p.m.
    • New trains will also leave New York at 11:34 a.m., 12:34 p.m., 1:34 p.m., 2:34 p.m., and 10:34 p.m.

    Metro-North operates the New Haven Line and its three branches – to New Canaan, Danbury and Waterbury.
          
    On Saturday and Sunday nights, a new 10:10 p.m. train will leave Waterbury, which is two hours later than the current last train.

    A new train will also leave Grand Central at 10:04 p.m. and Bridgeport at 11:41 p.m., which is one hour later than the current last train headed to Waterbury.

    The trains preceding the last train are rescheduled, cutting the current four-hour intervals between trains to three-hour intervals.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    Weeks after a photo of a Willimantic police officer allegedly caught sleeping on the job circulated on Facebook, police said they have concluded their investigation and the officer has "received formal discipline."

    "At this time, the police department is aware of the Facebook posting and there is an internal investigation, which is ongoing," Willimantic police spokesperson Corporal Stan Parizo said last month.

    He called this was a personnel manner and said it  would be handled internally.

    On Friday morning, police released a news release saying they looked into the case and have no further comment.

    "The Willimantic Police Department has concluded its internal investigation into the police officer who was photographed within his police cruiser on October 14, 2014," the statement says. "The officer has received formal discipline, and the matter is now closed."  

    The photo, taken on Oct. 14, appears to show the officer sleeping in his cruiser in full uniform. It's not clear where in Willimantic the picture was taken of who snapped the photo.

    The name of the officer has not been released to the public.



    Photo Credit: Facebook

    Willimantic police conducted an internal investigation after this officer was allegedly caught sleeping in his cruiser.Willimantic police conducted an internal investigation after this officer was allegedly caught sleeping in his cruiser.

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    One person is dead two tractor-trailers collided on I-84 East in Newtown early this morning.

    The road is closed and is expected to remain closed for hours. 

    The crash happened between exits 10 and 11 around 4:30 a.m. on Friday, according to state police, and traffic is being detoured off of Exit 10.

    There was a spill from at least one of the trucks, so it will take time to clean up.

    To get around the closure, get off the highway at exit 8 and take Route 6 East to get back onto the highway.


    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.

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    Police have identified the man whose skeletal remains were found near a middle school in Vernon in September. 

    The victim has been identified as Michael Poletti, 47, of Vernon, who was reported missing in August 2013. The cause of his death is not yet known, but police do not believe foul play is involved.

    A hiker found Poletti's remains in the woods behind the Vernon Center Middle School on West Street around noon on Thursday, Sept. 18, about a mile away from where a woman's skull was found a year and a half earlier.

    Police said the two cases are not connected.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.

    The State Police Major Crime Squad responded to the woods behind Vernon Center Middle School on Thursday after human remains were found near a walking trail.The State Police Major Crime Squad responded to the woods behind Vernon Center Middle School on Thursday after human remains were found near a walking trail.

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    For the last two years, Sara Gebert hasn't been able to eat.

    That's because the 19-year-old from Hunderton, New Jersey, has a rare and incurable medical condition called Chronic Intestinal Psuedo Obstruction that tricks her body into thinking any food making its way through her digestive tract is an intestinal obstruction.

    Only about 150 people worldwide are diagnosed with CIPO each year. The condition is so rare that it took visits to multiple doctors and hospitals before medical professionals were able to figure out what was going on inside Gerbert's gut.

    Before she was diagnosed, she would vomit as many as 60 times each day and was so weak at times that she couldn’t get out of bed.

    "At the very end, I was eating pretzels, granola bars and drinking water and that was making me sick," Gebert's says.

    For the rest of her life, Gebert's will be fed through an implanted tube, which pumps nutrients into her bloodstream every night while she sleeps. She also uses a bag to drain the digestive contents of her stomach.

    She’s lost 30 pounds since her diagnosis and had to drop out of Fairleigh Dickinson University, where the former high school pitcher had an offer to play intercollegiate softball.

    Gebert's said she tries to remain grateful for the remedy, but admitted some days are more difficult than others.

    "There are days where you're just like, 'How am I going to do this every day for the rest of my life, I don't want to do it,'" Gebert says.

    Now Gebert is trying to raise awareness for the condition. She and friends created a nonprofit called Sara’s Army that sells wristbands and maintains a website and social media profiles to educate people about CIPO.

    She said the group has already had some success.

    "It's been cool to see the light bulb turn on in people and say, ‘Oh wow I get this'," she said.


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    Activists blocked construction crews set to install artificial turf fields in Golden Gate Park on Thursday, in a showdown marking the latest escalation in a battle by critics who say the turf carries health risks.

    Votes are still being counted from Tuesday's dueling ballot measures on artificial turf — Proposition I, which would let the city install the turf, and Proposition H, which would bar it from replacing the natural grass fields. The votes are still being counted, but so far election results show the ban failing.

    In Golden Gate Park, crews were forced to halt their work removing trees Thursday when activist Kathleen McCowin stood, then sat, in front of heavy equipment around the Beach Chalet soccer fields.

    "They're taking out trees that took 30 years to grow," she said.

    Artificial turf has attracted opposition nationwide for worries about its possible health risks, and although San Francisco voters appeared set to OK the new turf, voters in one New Jersey town decided Tuesday by a wide margin to reject it.

    NBC News reported last month that anecdotal reports of cancer among soccer players have raised concerns about whether the "crumb rubber" — made of ground-up car tires — in artificial turf could have potential long-term impacts on players' health.

    Many experts and turf backers say that evidence shows it's safe, and federal agencies have said their "limited" studies found no increased health risks. But some doctors, scientists and activists say more research is needed.

    In San Francisco, McCowin and other artificial turf opponents like the Coalition to Protect Golden Gate Park say park authorities should not dig in until all the votes from Tuesday have been counted.

    "People are very upset," said the coalition's Mike Murphy. "The fact that they have gone ahead with the construction without waiting for the certification of the vote — a lot of people feel it's disrespectful to the democratic process."

    Park authorities say they have all the proper permits to begin work, however. Before they began removing trees Thursday, they had already installed a fence around the fields Wednesday, a day after voters weighed in on the plans at the polls. 

    “We are grateful to the voters of San Francisco for voting to let our kids play," the city's parks department said in a statement. "We will now proceed with a much-needed renovation that will allow thousands of kids to play sports in our city."

    McCowin and others plan to be back out on Friday to stop crews from working on the fields.

    —Sam Schulz contributed to this report.



    Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

    A sign that shows opposition to turf being installed at Golden Gate Park soccer fields.A sign that shows opposition to turf being installed at Golden Gate Park soccer fields.

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    The business partner of a man whose remains were found along with his wife's and children's in the high desert north of Los Angeles has been arrested and charged with killing the McStay family in 2010, authorities announced Friday.

    Charles Chase Merritt, 57, Joseph McStay's business partner, was arrested Wednesday in the northwestern San Fernando Valley community of Chatsworth "without incident," according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. McStay, 40, operated a custom decorative water fountain business and was working on a project with Merritt when he and his family disappeared in February 2010.

    District Attorney Mike Ramos called the slayings "cold and callous" when he announced that four murder charges had been filed against Merritt, who has a criminal record, according to the sheriff's department. 

    Joseph McStay's brother Michael praised investigators' work at Friday's news conference, which was attended by several McStay family members.

    "I just wanted to see it through to the end. Joseph was a great brother, a great father. He would have done anything to protect those boys and Summer," he said.

    "He tried to provide work for Chase and help Chase," he said of his brother, adding of Merritt: "He'll get what he's got coming to him."

    Susan Blake, the mother of Joseph McStay, began reading from notes at the news conference, then put them away as she spoke about her son and the call from investigators who notified her of the arrest.

    "They did not deserve this," Blake said. "Joey was so generous and kind to so many people.

    "I received that phone call and there's a little more to our journey. I need justice."

    When asked whether the was a break in the case that cast suspicion on Merritt, investigators said there was "no smoking gun." Investigators said they reviewed evidence provided by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department that led to the arrest.

    Authorities said they could not discuss a motive for the slayings. The victim and suspect met when Joseph McStay asked Merritt to create custom water fountains, investigators said.

    "They started working together and became friends, that's how their relationship started," said Sgt. Chris Fisher, of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

    Joseph and Summer McStay, 43, and their two young children, ages 4 and 3, mysteriously vanished from their Fallbrook home in February 2010, triggering a widespread search from San Diego County to northern Los Angeles County and a homicide investigation. The investigation revealed that the victims were killed in their home, and all were victims of blunt-force-trauma, sheriff's officials said Friday.

    Fisher said Merritt is believed to have acted alone. The slayings occurred inside the McStay's home, but Fisher refused to discuss whether there was a struggle or whether a weapon was used.

    More than three years after the family disappeared, skeletal remains were found in and around shallow graves in the high desert near Victorville in southwestern San Bernardino County. The location is about 100 miles north of the family's home in San Diego County.

    Coroner's officials identified the remains as those of Gianni McStay, Joseph Mateo McStay and their parents. A motorcyclist reported finding the remains in a very remote location approximately 50 yards from the nearest road. Officials said it appeared the remains had been there for "an extended period of time."

    What initially appeared to be one of the few possible leads in the family's mysterious disappearance also was addressed at the news conference -- a grainy surveillance video that showed four individuals resembling the McStays crossing into Mexico Feb. 8, 2010 at the San Ysidro border crossing. A white Isuzu Trooper belonging to the family was found illegally parked at a nearby strip mall the same day.

    On Friday, investigators said the video does not appear to show the McStays.

    "We don't believe that's them," said Fisher. "The video, once we examined that, and other evidence -- we don't believe the video was related."

    The expansive search for the family was documented on a website maintained by Joseph McStay's brother, Michael. As of early Friday morning, the most recent update was in July when the family attended a private memorial ceremony for the victims.

    In April 2013, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department announced they were transferring the case of the McStay family to the FBI.

    Merritt said in a November 2013 interview that he was the last person to have seen McStay. Investigators said Friday that Merritt likely has not left the Southern California area for a significant period of time since the slayings.

    A decision has not been made on whether prosecutors will seek the death penalty, Ramos said.

    Arraignment in the case was slated for Friday afternoon, but was postponed until Wednesday, Nov. 12. It was not immediately clear whether Merritt obtained an attorney.



    Photo Credit: KNBC-TV

    Charles Chase Merritt, arrested in connection with the slayings of four McStay family members. Image provided by San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.Charles Chase Merritt, arrested in connection with the slayings of four McStay family members. Image provided by San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

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    A Bristol teen has been arrested, accused of trying to sell pornographic DVDs to students at Middletown High School.

    Police said Alex Tsiongas, 19, of Bristol, had three pornographic DVDs and had been loitering on school property before trying to sell the porn to 16-year-olds, as well as younger children.

    “He pulled out a plastic bag. He was kind of scratching his arm and looking around, and said, 'Do you want to buy some movies? Real cheap.' And he pulled it out and it was porn,” Albert Landry, a senior, said.

    The students refused to buy the DVDs and notified school officials, who called police.

    Tsiongas, who was not a student at Middletown High School, refused to identify himself to high school staff, was belligerent in front of students who were trying to leave for the day and denied that he was doing anything wrong, police said.

    Tsiongas was charged with criminal attempt to commit risk of injury, breach of peace in the second degree, criminal trespass in the second degree and loitering in or about school grounds.

    “Parents work hard enough to protect their kids and having someone coming to school, handing out sex DVDs its not OK," Jayda Brackett Bell, of Middletown, said.

    Tsiongas was uncooperative and told police that he would be leaving the state and heading across the country after he was released, according to the arraignment report.

    He is being held on a $5,000 surety bond and is in due in court on Nov. 14.

    It’s not clear if Tsiongas has an attorney and the person who answered the phone at Tsiongas’ Bristol home was not aware of the arrest.



    Photo Credit: Middletown Police

    Alex Tsiongas is accused of trying to sell pornographic DVDs to students at Middletown High School.Alex Tsiongas is accused of trying to sell pornographic DVDs to students at Middletown High School.

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    Flying this Thanksgiving is going to be a bit more crowded this year.

    Airlines for America, the nation’s leading airline trade group, projected that 24.6 million passengers will fly on American planes Friday, Nov. 21 through Tuesday, Dec. 2. This is a 1.5 percent increase from the estimated 24.2 million Thanksgiving airline travelers in 2013.

    Here's what else you should know about flying on Thanksgiving:

     



    Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images
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    A schedule board indicates mostly On Time flights as another is A schedule board indicates mostly On Time flights as another is "Now Boarding" before Thanksgiving day at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013.

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