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    Customers will not be able to buy Christmas trees from Dzen Tree Farm in South Windsor this year, but the larger farm, Dzen's Christmas Trees, located nearby, will be opening on Nov. 28.

    Dzen Tree Farm announced on its Facebook page that they will not be able to open for the season.

    The competing tree farms on Barber Hill Road are owned by cousins within the Dzen family.

    One cousin sold land to developers to build a group of homes on the property last year.  The farm's owners said they worked a year to try and work out a plan for access to the tree farm, but to no avail.

    Developer Rob Mannarino told NBC Connecticut the bank won't let him give Dzen's Tree Farm an easement and that the town and homeowners don't want all the traffic through the neighborhood.

    The owners are referring customers to the Connecticut Christmas Growers Association website to find other farms and hope to be able to open for the 2015 Christmas season.

    Dzen's Christmas Trees, which is located on the east side of Barber Hill Road, will be ready for business the day after Thanksgiving.

    "We have over 100 acres of Christmas trees to choose from, which means over 100,000 Christmas trees, said Joe Dzen, owner of Dzen's Christmas Trees.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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    A 6-year-old dog named Dexter thought to have mauled a toddler in Southern California was returned to his owners on Wednesday after an investigation revealed Dexter was not responsible for the attack, according to the Riverside County Department of Animal Services.

    Kaidyn Sutton, a 1-year-old boy, suffered a large gash over his eyes when a dog bit him while he was playing at a park Nov. 14 in the Inland Empire's French Valley, near Murrieta.

    The dog that attacked Kaidyn was initially described as a large dog, possibly a Rottweiler. But an investigator spoke with the boy's family and a friend, who identified a Labrador mix as the dog that attacked Kaidyn, officials said in a statement.

    The boy's grandfather led authorities to the Labrador owner's home, where they found Dexter.

    But after a second interview with a witness, the investigator said the woman "could not say with certainty that Dexter was, indeed, the dog."

    Based on that interview and an "assessment of Dexter's behavior," Dexter was released to his owners Wednesday.

    Now, county animal officials are asking for the public's help to find the correct dog.

    "A large dog caused severe injuries to this little boy and someone might have valuable information to share," Animal Services Director Robert Miller said in a statement. "It’s important that we receive that information as soon as possible. We do not want anyone else to be injured if this dog is still in that community."

    The boy's mother, Michaela Sutton, said her son may have long-term damage due to the attack. She said the child was at home playing while recovering days later.

    "He did great, he looks great. There may be some nerve damage in his forehead and they fixed one tendon that works one eyebrow but couldn't exactly pinpoint the other but (because) he's so little they hope it will grow back," Sutton said in a Facebook update.


    Dexter, a 6-year-old Lab mix, was released to his owners Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, after animal officials decided he was not responsible for an attack of a toddler.Dexter, a 6-year-old Lab mix, was released to his owners Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, after animal officials decided he was not responsible for an attack of a toddler.

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    The Buffalo area in Western New York was bracing for 3 more feet of snow after being pounded by a severe weather system for a third day that may leave some areas with nearly 8 feet on the ground when it's all done.

    The storm has been blamed for at least ten deaths, NBC News reported.

    Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday morning that no more motorists were stranded on streets, but described a "massive problem" of hundreds of abandoned cars still on the roads.

    The Buffalo Bills were scheduled to host an NFL game Sunday against the New York Jets, however 4 feet of snow fell on the team's stadium in Orchard Park. A league spokesman said Thursday that the match will be moved, though the NFL has yet to determine where the game will be played.

    Cuomo had said it would be "impractical" to hold the game at the Bills' stadium.

    More dramatic photos from the snowstorm have emerged:



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

    Drew Ahmed makes his way through nearly five feet of snow in Lakeview, New York November 19, 2014.Drew Ahmed makes his way through nearly five feet of snow in Lakeview, New York November 19, 2014.

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    Firefighters responded to a fire early this morning at Beacon Pharmacy, at 534 West Main St., in New Britain, according to police.

    The fire is now out and crews are beginning to leave the scene.

    No additional information is available.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Firefighters responded to a fire at Beacon Pharmacy in New Britain this morning.Firefighters responded to a fire at Beacon Pharmacy in New Britain this morning.

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    A Shelton man was arrested last night after pulling a gun on a woman during a domestic dispute, pushing her to the ground and kicking her in the head, police said.

    Police said they received a 911 call reporting a domestic dispute at a downtown home at 7:45 p.m. and met with the 39-year-old victim, who told police that Jayson Karczmarczyk, 39, of Shelton, attacked her, police said.

    The woman told police that she and Karczmarczyk had gotten into an argument and he grabbed a gun.

    When she tried to call police, Karczmarczyk knocked the phone out of her hand, pushed her to the ground and kicked her in the head several times, she told police.

    A neighbor heard the woman screaming and knocked on the door, which stopped Karczmarczyk and gave the victim the chance to get out of the house and eventually receive medical attention for her injuries, according to police.

    When officers arrived at the home, Karczmarczyk refused to leave to come out for about an hour, but officers were eventually able to take him into custody.

    Karczmarczyk was charged with criminal possession of a firearm, third-degree assault, disorderly conduct, interfering with an emergency call and assault on a police officer.

    He was held on a $50,000 bond and is due to be arraigned in Derby Court today.

    Police said an officer injured his hand while arresting Karczmarczyk and was taken to the hospital for evaluation.



    Photo Credit: Shelton Police

    Police said Jayson Karczmarczyk pulled a gun on a woman during and argument and kicked her in the head.Police said Jayson Karczmarczyk pulled a gun on a woman during and argument and kicked her in the head.

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    Police said the gunman who opened fire inside a library at Florida State University early Thursday was in a "state of crisis" at the time of the shooting.

    The gunman who was shot dead by police was identified by law enforcement officials as Myron May, a lawyer who graduated from the school.

    Police said May injured three students before being shot dead at the Strozier Library. Two of the wounded students were admitted to Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare hospital and the third was treated and released at the scene, police and a hospital spokeswoman confirmed.

    At a news conference Thursday afternoon, police said May was struggling psychologically and emotionally. May feared government targeting and expressed these concerns in his journal, police said. Yet, police said it was unknown why May attacked or why he targeted Strozier library.

    May, who was born in Dayton, Ohio, moved to Florida as a teenager, police said. He graduated from FSU in 2005 and later from Texas Tech Law School in 2009, police said. After practicing law in Texas and New Mexico, May moved back to Florida just three weeks ago, police said.

    Police said May had two previous encounters with law enforcement. In 2002, he was suspected of using marijuana, and in 2003 he was the victim of a vehicle burglary, police said.

    At a news conference Thursday morning, police called the shooting an "isolated incident" and said May had acted alone.

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he hoped to visit the victims at the hospital later Thursday and said authorities were still investigating the shooting.

    "We still have a lot of questions that are unanswered," Scott told reporters at a news conference.

    Amid the chaos, students immediately took to social media with messages of concern and prayers.

    “Please say a prayer for us. We’re stuck in a library with a shooter in the building,” tweeted a person whose profile says he’s a student at FSU.

    Another tweet came from the father of a FSU student who took a screen shot of her text message to him, stating, “There’s a man with a gun in the library. I love you.”

    Jason Derfuss, a 21-year-old humanities student at FSU told NBC News  his backpack full of books stopped a bullet from hitting him during the rampage. Derfuss only realized hours later the gunman had tried to shoot him after he discovered a bullet lodged in "The Oxford Context of Wyclif’s Thought."

    "There is no way I should be alive," Derfuss told NBC News. "Literally, those books saved my life."

    The campus scare began when police at Florida State University responded to a "dangerous situation" at the library around 12:30 a.m. ET Thursday, as a witness reported gunshots. A campus telephone alert urged people to take shelter in a nearby building and stay away from "doors and windows."

    When officers arrived, they commanded May to drop his weapon, Tallahassee Police Department spokesman David Northway said. Police said May was using a .380 semi-automatic handgun and had additional ammunition in his pockets. May fired a round at police, who responded with shots, killing the suspect, police said.

    Officers searched the area and found three victims suffering from gunshot wounds, police said.

    According to officials, May never made it past library security and only shot from the library lobby. One victim was shot in the library lobby and the two others were shot outside the lobby area, police said.

    All three victims were immediately given treatment, police said. Two victims were taken to Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare hospital. One was in critical condition and the other was in stable condition, officials said.

    One of the victims was identified as Nathan Scott, according to a statement released by the hospital. Scott was shot in the leg and is recovering with the support of his family who has asked for privacy at this time, the hospital said.

    Police said the library was packed with between 300 and 400 students at the time of the shooting.

    Steven Dawson, 19, a freshman biology major said he was studying on the library's third floor at the time of the incident. Dawson told NBC News that shortly after 12:30 a.m. ET someone started shouting about a gunmen in the building. "Everyone just dropped everything and started running," Dawson said.

    The university announced on Twitter early Thursday that the lockdown had been lifted and the area was secured. 

    FSU President John Thrasher said there will be increased security measures and a greater law enforcement presence on campus Thursday.

    "The Florida State University community is extremely saddened by the shootings that took place early this morning at Strozier Library, in the very heart of campus, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of all those who have been affected," Thrasher said in a statement.

    Classes were canceled for Thursday but the campus will be open, the university announced. Strozier Library will be closed until further notice. Meanwhile, students were gathering for prayer vigils on campus throughout the day.

    Thrasher said counseling would be provided for students, faculty and staff.

    "The three students who have been injured are our highest priority followed by the needs of our greater university community," Thrasher said. "We will do everything possible to assist with their recovery."




    Photo Credit: NBC 6
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.

    Officials give an update on the shooting overnight at Florida State University.Officials give an update on the shooting overnight at Florida State University.

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    A Falls Church, Virginia, man is accused of sexually abusing female patients at D.C.-area hospitals while providing care for them as a nurse.

    According to court documents obtained by News4, 37-year-old Jared Nathan Kline, a traveling nurse, is facing three sexual abuse charges stemming from incidents at D.C. hospitals, and is also accused of similar behavior at a Prince George’s County, Maryland, hospital.

    All four victims reported they were disoriented from severe pain or semi-conscious when the abuse allegedly occurred.

    A woman receiving treatment for asthma at United Medical Center in late August 2014 reported her nurse, later identified as Kline, intentionally rubbed her hands against his erect penis while he checked her vitals.

    She says that later that day, the same nurse began massaging her underneath her hospital gown. She told police she was scared and pretended to be asleep during the incident. She told police the nurse went on to kiss her and touch her face until someone else entered the room.

    When she was discharged from the hospital, she got a text message from the nurse saying she had left behind a makeup bag. She met the nurse outside the hospital for the bag, and he later texted her, "Anytime [sic] love, get better."

    She told police she hadn't given her phone number to Kline, and was "upset" he had contacted her in the first place.

    After the woman came forward, police realized Kline was a suspect in two other D.C. sex assaults -- one in May 2013, and another in December 2013.

    In the May 2013 incident, a woman reported she was sexually assaulted by an emergency room nurse named Jared at the George Washington University Hospital when she was treated for a migraine headache. While receiving treatment, the woman said her nurse gave her a blanket, then "proceeded to pat and grope [her] buttocks."

    She said he returned to her room several times later that evening, and rubbed the back of her hand against his erect penis as he was checking her IV.

    When interviewed by police, he said her hand touched him "in places that it should not have," that he’s a "pretty lucky white guy," and that because he’s "well-endowed, it is possible her hand could have touched his penis and may have mistakenly believed he was aroused."

    The woman texted her boyfriend about the incident, saying she wanted to leave the exam room, calling her nurse's behavior "creepy."

    Seven months later, another woman accused Kline of rubbing his penis against her hand at least three times while she was receiving treatment for intoxication at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

    In addition to the three incidents at D.C. hospitals, Kline is also accused conducting an inappropriate chest examination of a 22-year-old patient at Bowie Health Center in Maryland last January. 

    D.C. police said Kline likely had more victims.

    "We do believe that it's possible he had sexually abused other patients," George Kucik with D.C. police said. "They may not have been aware of it or understood what was going on."

    Kline was released on bond Wednesday, and is required to stay away from his alleged victims. His lawyer hasn't released a statement, but told News4 several times he has no comment.

    Kline's neighbor Karen Parelhoff told News4, "I'm a nurse myself. It's a huge breach of the trust that people place in your hands when you take care of them."

    GW Hospital officials said they're committed to the well-being of their patients.

    "In matters such as this, our practice is to act swiftly and responsibly in collaboration with law enforcement and regulatory agencies," Lyndsay Meyer with GW Hospital said Wednesday.

    MedStar Washington Hospital Center officials said they're aware of Kline's arrest but unable to comment at this time, though they said they're fully cooperating with local police.


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    U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy is calling on Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly to overhaul the state's elections system, saying recent problems at the polls highlight the need for professionalization and accountability.

    The Democrat called it "inexcusable" to have breakdowns, such as polling places in Hartford not opening on time. He said they "provide a rationalization" for those who choose not to vote.

    A former state senator, Murphy said Connecticut is past the point of incremental reform and needs comprehensive changes. He said the "balkanized" election system where autonomous local registrars run elections with little state oversight has "resulted in major problem after major problem."

    Av Harris, a spokesman for Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, said her office welcomes Murphy's comments and agrees reforms are needed.



    Photo Credit: NBC10.com

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    Thieves stole catalytic converters from three vans used by the senior center in Wallingford, according to the business manager.

    One van has been temporarily fixed for use during the town's Thanksgiving celebration Friday. A second may also be repaired today, officials said.

    Damaged vans have been taken to the public works garage. The cost to repair three vehicles totals about $5,000, according to the business manager.

    Town officials said the senior center is not equipped with surveillance cameras.

    It's not clear if police are following leads.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Repairs are underway on a Wallingford Senior Center van after thieves stole catalytic converters from the vehicles.Repairs are underway on a Wallingford Senior Center van after thieves stole catalytic converters from the vehicles.

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    A 29-year-old Woodstock man accused of taking sexually explicit photos of an autistic teen and downloading hundreds of child pornography files has pleaded guilty to federal charges.

    Authorities said Ryan Harding worked with an organization that provides services to people with disabilities and took pornographic photos of a 13-year-old autistic boy involved in the group.

    According to federal prosecutors, Harding drove the teen to a convenience store on Oct. 14, 2013 and took sexually explicit photos of him in the bathroom.

    The organization has not been identified by name, but federal officials said Harding had unsupervised access to autistic boys, some of whom are nonverbal, for hours on end.

    Harding was arrested on federal charges in November 2013 after authorities found 1,043 photos and 144 videos depicting child pornography on his laptop and thumb drive, prosecutors said after his arrest.

    According to the U.S. attorney's office, Harding downloaded the files between July and October 2013. Harding told investigators child pornography sexually arouses him.

    Since his arrest, Harding has been released on bond and placed on home confinement with GPS monitoring, federal prosecutors said.

    Harding pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to one count of receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography.

    He’ll be sentenced March 13, 2015 and could face between five and 30 years in prison, along with a $250,000 fine.


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    Hamden police have arrested a 19-year-old woman who police said was involved in a home invasion and the attack of a man she met through an online dating site.

    The victim, a 30-year-old Hamden man, went to police after the home invasion at his apartment on Mix Avenue on Oct. 8 

    He told authorities he had met a woman, later identified as Nazhia Carter, 19, on an Internet dating site, arranged for her to stop by his home.

    As the victim was in his bedroom with Carter and her female friend, two men came into the room and struck the victim over the back with a tire iron, police said.

    According to police, one of the women had unlocked the victim's front door so two accomplices could get inside.

    The women stole several items, including electronic equipment, and fled with the two men, according to police, and one of the men jumped off of the victim’s balcony, falling 25 to 30 feet.

    Carter turned herself in to police on Nov. 13 and was charged with home invasion, larceny in the third-degree and prostitution. She who was detained on a $200,000 bond and arraigned later in the day.

    Hamden Fire Rescue treated the resident for injuries to his back, finger and nose. Police said he declined to be taken to the hospital.

    Police are continuing to investigate.



    Photo Credit: Hamden Police

    Nazhia Carter is accused of being involved in the home invasion and attack of a man she met through an online dating site.Nazhia Carter is accused of being involved in the home invasion and attack of a man she met through an online dating site.

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    North Haven police have arrested a West Haven man on child pornography charges.

    Police started investigating when a North Haven company contacted them in April because an employee had what they suspected was pornography on his iPhone.

    Police identified the employee as Thurman McDuffie-Patterson, 36, of West Haven, and launched an eight-month investigation, which included seizing more computer equipment from McDuffie-Patterson’s home.

    The Connecticut Computer Crimes Electronic Evidence Laboratory went through the phone, computers and other storage devices and found more than 1,000 images of child pornography, as well as nine videos of children engaged in sex acts, police said.

    McDuffie-Patterson was arrested today and charged with importing child pornography and possession of child pornography.
    He is being held on a $5,000 bond, pending an arraignment in Meriden Superior Court.
     


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    Traffic is flowing again on Route 83 in Vernon after two stretches of the road were shut down earlier Thursday due to downed power lines and a separate crash, according to police.

    Part of Route 83 was closed between Dobson Road and Wilshire Road after a car struck a utility pole near Little Mark's Big BBQ this afternoon. Police said the pole holds three transformers and was in jeopardy of coming down.

    Fire officials said the driver apparently suffered a medical issue and her car jumped the curb before hitting a pole. An ambulance took the driver to Rockville Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

    Crews from Connecticut Light & Power responded by about 2 p.m. and estimate it could take five hours to make repairs. Workers are still at the scene and police said traffic has been shifted to the southbound lanes.

    Route 83 was also closed about two miles away, between Loveland Hill Road and Windsorville Road, after wind brought down power lines, police said. The road has reopened, but lane closures were expected to take effect again when CL&P crews arrived.

    Route 83 is a major route for drivers traveling Interstate 84 and heading north of Vernon.


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    State officials have announced $54.6 million in rescissions from state agencies in response to Connecticut's projected $100 million budget gap.

    The state is calling for $47.8 million in rescissions for executive branch agencies, $0.9 million for the legislative branch and $6 million for the judicial branch, state officials said.

    Some of the largest cuts include $9.2 million affecting the Department of Children and Families, $5.5 million for the Department of Developmental Services, $4.7 million for the state comptroller and nearly $4 million for education, according to the reductions list.

    It's the second step the governor's office has taken to balance the budget. Last week, OPM Secretary Benjamin Barnes asked state agencies to minimize spending and reduce hiring in an effort to save money.

    “As the Governor has promised, we are managing and administering the budget so that there will be no deficit. These rescissions are painful for some, but tough decisions are necessary to keep the state on firm fiscal footing. State government will live within its means, and we will not raise taxes,” Barnes said in a statement Thursday.

    Barnes will meet with the General Assembly's Appropriations and Finance, Revenue and Bonding committees on Friday to go over budget projections for the next three years.

    Malloy told reporters Wednesday that the projected shortfall must be kept in perspective and reminded residents that the state's budget totals $20 billion.

    Republicans, however, $100 million may seem to be a small piece of the pie in terms of the state's overall spending plan, but would hit home for taxpayers.

    Incoming State Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano and Appropriations Committee member State Sen. Rob Kane criticized the rescissions Thursday, accusing the OPM of failing "to recognize the true severity of budget shortfalls."

    “Today we face a significant deficit. And tomorrow that deficit will become staggering. Our budget crisis is also a borrowing crisis and these issues are compounding fast. The solution to these mounting problems does not lie in one time cuts. We need to identify a comprehensive solution by working across the aisle. The longer we wait to make these changes and alter our approach, the deeper the cuts will have to be,” Fasano said in a statement.

    Economist Fred Carstensen, who directs the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis, called the state's budget issues minor and warned of more issues down the road as future deficits are projected.

    Carstensen said the state must continue investing in transportation and similar infrastructure, an arena where Connecticut can make major gains in economic development.

    "Those expenditures would represent the biggest economic impact for the state, both in terms of immediate job creation – which generates also more revenue for the state – and then also addresses the fact that we have very poor infrastructure in Connecticut," he said.

    Carstensen said he remains concerned that the governor has yet to make good on his pledge earlier this year to hire 100 new engineers for the Department of Transportation.

    "We're still short 215 people in transportation and that's not an insignificant number," he said.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    At the urging of anti-violence groups, comedian and former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno has canceled an appearance at a Las Vegas gun show hosted by the Newtown-based National Shooting Sports Foundation.

    The Newtown Action Alliance, a grassroots organization promoting tighter gun laws, wrote on its Facebook page on Thursday that Leno placed a personal phone call to let the group know he had canceled his spot.

    The decision came just hours after the Newtown Action Alliance started a petition alongside the Campaign to Unload and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence asking Leno not to perform, according to the Newtown Action Alliance.

    “Less than 24 hours after this petition was launched, Jay Leno contacted Po Murray, the executive director of Newtown Action Alliance, to inform her that he had cancelled his appearance at the 2015 SHOT Show,” the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence posted atop the petition Thursday. “He said he was unaware that the NSSF was a pro-gun lobbying group based in Newtown, Connecticut.”

    The NSSF, on the other hand, accused the gun control groups of using “bullying political tactics” to twist the truth about the gun industry.

    “We are clearly disappointed by Jay Leno’s decision not to perform at the 2015 SHOT State of the Industry Dinner,” the NSSF said in a statement Thursday. “He unilaterally cancelled his promised appearance due to pressure from the anti-gun lobby, which included false statements about our industry and its commitment to genuine firearms safety, which we attempted to personally correct with him, but to no avail.”

    The NSSF, which said it promotes gun safety and Second Amendment rights, is sponsoring the Las Vegas trade show in January.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

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    The Latino and Hispanic community in Connecticut is a very active and politically influential group, which is why many in the state will be glued to President Barack Obama's immigration announcement tonight.

    “It’s really surreal," said Sandra Trevino, executive director of the Latino advocacy group Junta for Progressive Action. "It’s really a true mix of emotions that our president, in just a few hours, will be making this huge announcement.”

    Junta, based in New Haven, provides an array of services for the Latino community. Trevino said there are more benefits than many realize to the president signing executive orders that could potentially lead to millions of undocumented immigrants being allowed to stay in the country.

    "it’s going to allow individuals to have work permits. It’s going to encourage people to report more on crime, and most of all, it’s going to stop tearing families apart which it has been doing for years,” Trevino said.

    The Obama administration hasn't provided precise details or numbers of immigrants that could be affected but has hinted that the moves won't be insignificant.

    “Beef up security at the border, make some prioritization of deportations on the interior focused on felons and not on breaking families, and then some new accountability for folks who are here and have been here undocumented," David Simas, an assistant to the president, told NBC News on Thursday.

    Trevino said she's fears some people who have been in the country for years and have contributed for decades could be left out in the cold on any executive action.

    "My concern is that there are going to be individuals who have been here for decades that might be left out if the rumors that are going around is that it will only impact individuals that have children,” Trevino said.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Immigration advocates rally in New Haven ahead of President Barack Obama's announcement Thursday.Immigration advocates rally in New Haven ahead of President Barack Obama's announcement Thursday.

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    School officials in Waterford alerted parents on Friday after fourth-grade student brought a bullet to school, according to the superintendent.

    Supt. Jerome Belair said the school principal spotted the Quaker Hill Elementary School student with a bullet and small piece of a pellet gun at recess Friday morning. Principal Chris Discordia confiscated the items and notified police.

    Discordia spoke with fourth-grade students about school safety and sent a letter home to parents. School officials said they plan to leave voicemails for parents tonight with more information.

    Belair said no one is ever in danger. He's encouraging parents to have one-on-one conversations with their children about keeping one another safe.


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    A 40-year-old Meriden man who was trapped as fire tore through his multi-family home in Meriden on Wednesday night has died.

    When firefighters responded to 45 Hillside Street just before 11 p.m. Wednesday, flames were pouring from the first- and second-floor windows.

    "It was horrific. I actually have never seen a house fire like that before," said neighbor John Lippold.

    They learned one person, Kevin Appell, was trapped inside. Intense fire and heavy smoke thwarted rescue efforts, and two firefighters suffered minor injuries.

    "There was a lot of fire when they arrived and that made entry to the building difficult," explained Meriden Fire Chief Ken Morgan.

    Once they brought the blaze under control, crews were able to get inside the home. They found Appell on the second floor, but it was too late, fire officials said. Appell was pronounced dead at the hospital.

    “It was very frightening. I went over there to try to help, but nobody could get over there. The apartment was just engulfed with flames,” said Lippold.

    Three firefighters suffered minor injuries while trying to rescue the man, but are recovering.

    The cause of the fire is under investigation.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    One person was killed in a fire in Meriden last night.One person was killed in a fire in Meriden last night.

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    A man arrested with weapons in his car outside the White House Wednesday afternoon told the Secret Service the president called him directly and asked him to go to the White House, according to the police report.

    R.J. Kapheim, 43, pleaded not guilty Thursday afternoon to one count of unlawful possession of a rifle. The judge ordered him held until a hearing at 9 a.m. Friday.

    Kapheim approached a Secret Service officer just before 1 p.m. Wednesday and said he had an appointment with President Barack Obama, authorities said. The officer checked his ID and determined he did not have an appointment.

    Kapheim insisted President Obama had called him and began shaking his head, according to the police report. The officer called for backup to check on Kapheim's welfare. They asked him if they could check his car and he agreed.

    As Secret Service walked Kapheim to his car at 16th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, he told them he had a weapon in the car, authorities said. The barrel could be seen sticking up from the backseat, a position from which it could be reached from the front seat.

    Officers found the .30-30 rifle was loaded with six rounds of ammunition. Another 36 rounds and a 6-inch fixed blade also were found in the car, according to the police report.

    There's no indication Kapheim made any threats.

    Kapheim told police he drove to D.C. from Davenport, Iowa, where he reportedly works as an inventor.

    Court records from Iowa show Kapheim was charged with several traffic violations over the years, and in 2012, he changed his name from "Rachael" to "R.J." to make it easier to get a job.

    The arrest came just as Secret Service Acting Director Joseph Clancy was testifying in Congress about low morale he said has contributed to high-profile oversights by agents recently.

    The agency has been under scrutiny since a Texas Army veteran, Omar Gonzalez, leapt over a White House fence on Sept. 19 and charged into the White House. Gonzalez made it way all the way into the East Room before he was tackled, thanks to a string of Secret Service failures detailed in an internal review out last week.



    Photo Credit: Bill Hennessy

    Courtroom sketch by Bill Hennessy.Courtroom sketch by Bill Hennessy.

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    Police are searching for the people who have burglarized three West Haven churches over the past week.

    According to West Haven police, thieves have recently broken into the Christ Christian Church on Fenwick Street, the Vertical Church on Meloy Road and the Promise Land Church on Burwell Road.

    The suspects have stolen mostly small items and petty cash, police said.

    Elder Mike Yannes, of the Vertical Church, said the burglary at his worship center happened sometime Monday night or Tuesday morning. The culprits stole $1,000 in cash, including donations and money from the cash register at the church cafe.

    "Thankfully, there was no vandalism. There was no damage to the facility short of a couple of broken windows," Yannes said. "As frustrating as it is that somebody broke into the place, hopefully, maybe, we can help them as well."

    Pastor Ryan Trawick of Promise Land Church said the first building alarm went off at 1:30 a.m. Thursday when an intruder broke through a double-paneled window.

    "We don't know why he would come in here. It wasn't easy to get into this window," Trawick explained. "What puzzles me is that they left with nothing. They left empty-handed."

    Trawick said the cost to repair the broken window will be significant but believes the burglar alarm scared off the intruder before more damage was done.

    "A church is a place of refuge and hope," he said. "It's a place you want to come to and receive healing from the broken things in your life."

    Meanwhile, Yannes is encouraging those in need to ask for help instead of acting out of desperation.

    "If they would have just come in... If they were struggling or having issues, come knock on our front door and ask us for help," he said.

    Residents who live near the targeted churches or have any information on the burglaries are urged to call West Haven police at 203-937-3900.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Three churches in West Haven, including the Vertical Church on Meloy Road, have been burglarized in recent weeks, according to police.Three churches in West Haven, including the Vertical Church on Meloy Road, have been burglarized in recent weeks, according to police.

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