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    Route 64 is closed between Straits Turnpike and Interstate 84 in Waterbury after a multi-vehicle crash.

    To get around the closure, use Park Road or Interstate 84.


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    Four Wesleyan University students are due in court on Wednesday after being arrested in connection with MDMA, or "Molly, overdoses that sent 11 off their peers to the hospital over the weekend, according to the Middletown Police Department.

    Of the people hospitalized on Sunday night, two are still receiving treatment at Hartford Hospital. School officials declined to comment on their conditions, citing privacy concerns.

    Wesleyan students Eric Lonergan, 21; Andrew Olson, 20; Zachary Kramer, 21; and Rama Agha Al Nakib, 20, were arrested on Tuesday on drug charges and immediately suspended from the school pending a formal hearing. Police said none of the students arrested were among those hospitalized.

    "The University takes allegations of the distribution of drugs seriously and is cooperating with state and local officials," Wesleyan University President Michael Roth said in a statement on Tuesday night. "We will do everything we can to make our community as safe as possible."

    The charges are as follows:

    • Lonergan has been charged with possession of a controlled substance and 16 counts of illegally obtaining or supplying drugs. His bond was set at $100,000.
    • Olson was charged with two counts of possession of a hallucinogen, sale of a hallucinogen, possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia. Olson's bond was set at a total of $175,000. He was released after posting bond and is due in court in March.
    • Kramer was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a regulated substance and possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana. Bond was set at $75,000.
    • Al Nakib has been charged with three counts of possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia. Her bond was set at $100,000.

    Middletown Police Chief William McKenna said all four students were in custody by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, adding that police searched "certain locations in and around the campus" to collect evidence.

    Investigators are also working to identify chemicals included in the MDMA that sickened students on Sunday. Police have been investigating how the drug got to campus and believe they've identified the source of the "Molly," which they said is information that could help the ill students recover.  

    “This particular batch may have had a mixture of several kinds of designer drug chemicals, making the health risks unpredictable and treatment to combat the effects complex and problematic,” McKenna said on Tuesday evening.

    It's not the first time the campus has had a close call with Molly. An email sent to students in September said several of their peers were hospitalized after taking the drug.

    A spokesperson for the university said Wesleyan is taking steps to keep students both informed and safe.

    "The drug ‘Molly’ is widespread and becoming increasingly more prevalent on college campuses nationwide. Following the student hospitalizations in September, Wesleyan's Health Services Department emailed information to all students warning about the dangers of the drug," Lauren Rubenstein, Associate Manager of Public Relations at Wesleyan, said in a statement Tuesday.

    Doctors call "Molly" a designer amphetamine that drug users take to feel euphoric.

    Rubenstein added that the information is posted on the Health Services website and will be distributed to students again in light of this weekend's overdoses.

    "Wesleyan also offers a wide range of drug prevention, education and treatment programs and resources, and responds to drug and alcohol violations with sanctions, as appropriate," she added.

    Students, however, have expressed doubts over the university's ability to mitigate the problem.

    "I don't really think it's something a university can control as a unit," said Wesleyan sophomore Hailey Sholty. "I think it's something that individuals control themselves."

    Police emphasized on Tuesday night that the investigation is ongoing and that "offenders will be held accountable."

    "The safety and welfare of our citizens, including the ones on the Wesleyan campus, remain our top priority," McKenna said. "Incidents jeopardizing the safety will not be tolerated and those offenders will be held accountable."

    Anyone with information is urged to call Middletown police.



    Photo Credit: Middletown Police Department

    Top (left to right): Rama Al Nakib and Zachary Kramer; bottom (left to right): Andrew Olson and Eric Lonergan. The four Wesleyan students have been charged in connection with MDMA overdoses at Wesleyan University.Top (left to right): Rama Al Nakib and Zachary Kramer; bottom (left to right): Andrew Olson and Eric Lonergan. The four Wesleyan students have been charged in connection with MDMA overdoses at Wesleyan University.

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    Police have arrested the man clad in all black who robbed a New Britain bank at gunpoint Wednesday morning.

    According to police, Israel Ortiz, 28, of New Britain, entered the TD Bank at 252 Allen Street around 8 a.m. Wednesday, pulled out a gun and demanded money.

    He got away with an undisclosed amount of cash and left on foot. Police later received a tip that Ortiz was in the area of 100 West Street and tracked him to his apartment there.

    He was found with several hundred dollars, and investigators discovered a plastic bag containing more money buried in the snow outside the apartment building, police said.

    Ortiz was arrested and charged with first-degree robbery, fourth-degree larceny, interfering with an officer, first-degree criminal trespass and violation of a protective order in connection with an unrelated domestic incident.



    Photo Credit: New Britain Police Department

    Israel Ortiz, 28, is accused of robbing a bank in New Britain on Wednesday morning.Israel Ortiz, 28, is accused of robbing a bank in New Britain on Wednesday morning.

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    Students in New Haven Public Schools have collected more than 17,000 books for the homeless, and on Wednesday, they celebrated.

    It was part of a service project with Rain of Hope and New Reach, a non-profit organization that helps families facing poverty and homelessness.

    The school community held an assembly with Supt. Garth Harries at King-Robinson Interdistrict Magnet School to celebrate the project’s success.

    Students say the project has inspired them to make community service a bigger part of their everyday lives.

    “I wanted to help other people who couldn’t read or were just struggling with reading and everything. It’s a great thing to do, actually,” said Taryn Joseph, an eighth-grade student at Clemente Leadership Academy.

    Students began working on the project in December. The excess books are being distributed to a variety of New Haven charities.
     



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    Emergency crews arrived to the sound of ammunition going off at a two-family home on Barnes Street in Bristol as fire gutted the house late Wednesday afternoon, according to the fire department.

    According to Deputy Fire Chief Mark Martin, flames broke out around 4 p.m., sending smoke into the air that was visible from the fire station down the road.

    Firefighters arrived to hear what sounded like ammunition exploding in the house. They kept their distance until the sound died down a few minutes later, then doused the home with water, according to Martin.

    Flames were heaviest on the first floor but spread to a second-floor porch and into some of the walls, Martin said. The fire is under control but it's not yet clear if the house is still inhabitable.

    Neighbors said they saw flames shooting up from the home, adding that the property owners live on the first floor and Polish renter occupies the second.

    No one was home at the time and no injuries were reported. Martin said he believes three residents have been affected and will need to find another place to stay tonight.

    Firefighters are still putting out hot spots as of 5 p.m.

    Crews are investigating to determine the cause of the blaze.

    Check back for updates on this developing story.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    Police are investigating after strangers approached two teenage girls in Bridgeport over a period of two days, threatening one with a knife and trying to usher the other girl into a car.

    The first incident transpired Sunday, when two teens drove up to a 14-year-old girl walking home near the intersection of Tudor and Dover streets and asked her to get in their car.

    Police said the girl ran to her uncle's house and the car drove off.

    Then, on Tuesday, a sophomore at Harding High School was waiting for her younger sister when a car stopped across the street. She said the passenger got out and approached her with a knife.

    "He was like, 'Oh, don't be scared,'" said the 15-year-old, who asked to remain anonymous. "I was like, 'This is the end of me, you know? I was like, 'God, please help, because I don't know what's going to happen.'"

    That's when she took off and called her parents.

    "I can't imagine her level of fear. Stress must have been way up, but again, she kept her head, kept her cool and she ran away and told someone," said Bridgeport Police Capt. A.J. Perez.

    Perez said both teens handled the frightening situations perfectly. 

    "They did exactly what they were supposed to do, so I am very happy," he said. "They should be commended, both kids."

    He said police are acting on both situations and are asking parents to be vigilant.

    Meanwhile, the 15-year-old victim is warning her peers to take every precaution.

    "The girls need to be careful. Don't talk to strangers," she said.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    The founder of the Wesleyan University chapter of a student drug reform group is one of four students arrested in connection with MDMA, or Molly, overdoses that sent 11 classmates to the hospital over the weekend.

    Andrew Olson, 20, of Atascadero, California, is the founder and co-president of the Wesleyan chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

    Students for Sensible Drug Policy declined to comment on the criminal investigation, but said Olson founded the local chapter in 2013.

    A statement on the organization’s Web site says it “mobilizes and empowers young people to participate in the political process, pushing for sensible policies to achieve a safer and more just future, while fighting back against counterproductive Drug War policies, particularly those that directly harm students and youth.”

    Eleven Wesleyan students were hospitalized on Sunday, including two in critical condition, after taking the drug known as Molly at a party at a house known as “the Eclectic” on High Street, and police began investigating.

    On Tuesday, police arrested four students, including Olson, who was charged with two counts of possession of hallucinogen and sale of hallucinogen on one warrant and possession of less than half-an-ounce of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia on the second.

    “Students for Sensible Drug Policy neither condones nor condemns drug use; we acknowledge that people use drugs regardless of prohibition and that drugs are best managed through public health measures and regulatory frameworks, not the criminal justice system,” Betty Aldworth, executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, said in a statement. ‘SSDP was founded in part to help protect people, especially young people, minimize the harm from drugs. We are saddened every time someone is injured in their use of drugs. We express to the injured students our best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery, and a resumption of their studies and their privacy.

    “The fact is that prohibition of drugs, and laws against health-based approaches that could make drug use less dangerous, has created a situation where a black market is responsible for producing drugs of unknown composition, purity, and potency. Rather than demonize otherwise successful young people for engaging in activities that happen on campuses across the world every weekend, we should all be appalled that young people's lives have once again been endangered by failed laws that inevitably lead to overdose and that other young people's lives will be disrupted as they get dragged into the criminal justice system. At Wesleyan, one in 13 students was disciplined for a drug violation in 2013, proving that this scenario will play out again and again until we end drug prohibition and replace it with laws based on justice, compassion, evidence, and common sense.”

    Olson was released on bond and is due in court on March 3.

    He has been suspended from the university, officials from Wesleyan said on Wednesday.
     



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

    Andrew Olson, 20, the founder and co-president of the Wesleyan chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, was arrested in connection with Molly overdoses that sent 11 classmates to the hospital.Andrew Olson, 20, the founder and co-president of the Wesleyan chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, was arrested in connection with Molly overdoses that sent 11 classmates to the hospital.

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    Lawmakers heard some of the pros and cons of implementing tolls at the state border during a public hearing Wednesday.

    Tolls have been considered the clubhouse favorite by some top lawmakers as a way to pay for continuing infrastructure needs. They would also help fund the governor's proposed overhaul of highways, trains and bridges, which he announced last week.

    Patrick Jones testified on behalf of the International Bridge, Tunnel, and Turnpike Association that a new system of tolls in Connecticut would be modern, without people collecting money at toll booths.

    “You’ll use a system of electronic toll collection with overhead gantrys, in which people can pass through the toll without slowing down," Jones told the Transportation Committee on Wednesday.

    Office of Policy and Management Secretary Benjamin Barnes, who handles budget matters for Gov. Dannel Malloy, said the administration doesn't favor one revenue mechanism over another.

    He said tolls are an option, but that the governor's priority is for the legislature to send a proposed constitutional amendment to voters. The amendment would allow them to decide on a "lockbox" to protect revenues meant to pay for transportation.

    “The resources, whether they’re raised from tolls or bake sales, or sales taxes, or property taxes or what have you, that those revenues are being dedicated to transportation purposes is very critica,l" Barnes said.

    Republicans lined up against the proposal for border tolls, saying they're just a tax. They've said only putting tolls in places where the state sees traffic from neighboring states isn't fair to the residents who live there.

    State Sen. Scott Frantz, a Republican from Greenwich, said he even thinks such a specific tolling system wouldn't be constitutional. He also said it could put excess strain on local roads.

    “I think It’s amoral to do it to the people that live in those border towns, because we know it’s going to happen," he said. "And people are going to get off and try to avoid the tolls, especially if they’re going to all the way across the state if they know they’re going to get sensed on the other 102 miles of the state, and they’ll take the time to go around."

    State Rep. Tony Guerrera, a Democrat from Rocky Hill who has said publicly he thinks tolls are the answer, said the state has to find a way to pay for infrastructure with sagging gas tax revenues.

    "We've given the General Assembly a wide range of options today," Guerrera said, referring to different kinds of toll possibilities.

    He said the state has to take tolls into consideration.

    “Relying on the gas tax is insufficient and we know that, and if we’re serious about redoing 84 or the viaduct, which is going to cost $5 billion, where are we going to get this money? You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to figure this out,” he said.

    A committee vote on the toll measure could take place next month.



    Photo Credit: Brian Stablyk

    Stock image.Stock image.

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  • 02/25/15--17:10: Potholes Plague the State

  • Potholes have appeared throughout Connecticut as winter takes its toll on broken pavement, and the head of the Legislature's Transportation Committee urged the state to take action.

    "We've had a horrendous winter," he said at the hearing he was chairing Wednesday. "There are cars basically being swallowed up by the size of these potholes."

    The woman behind the counter of a Colchester eatery directed our camera to Davidson Road, where her son asked her, "Mom, do you have to hit all the bumps?"

    When ice gets into a crack in the road and freezes, the ice expands, widening the crack into a pothole.

    "They're getting bad out there," said Warren Wright. "Be driving a dump truck or a tractor-trailer when you hit those things, it throws your front end out of alignment."

    Matt Januszewski patches potholes for a living with cold patches, often thought of as temporary patches to hold the pavement together until asphalt plants open in the spring.

    He said cold patches will last.

    "As long as you have nice clear edges," he said, "you clean it up nice and cut it out square. I've never lost any patches myself."



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    Last week when rain was in the weather forecast, a state senator who is also first selectman of Sprague wrought her hands in worry over flooding concerns.

    The rain didn't materialize but the worry has, as snowbanks block catch basins and storm drains in southeastern Connecticut.

    "They're 6-foot-tall snow banks that are completely frozen, rock-hard solid, that we're having to move inch by inch," said State Sen. Cathy Osten.

    It's taken heavy equipment to get ice off the catch basins, and some are still clogged. That means melting snow may find somewhere else to go.

    "It would be stuck on the top of the road beds, it would be in people's yards, it could flood into people's basements," she said. "It will be a very difficult situation for all of us to deal with."

    She hopes people will treat catch basins the way they treat fire hydrants and clear them after it snows again.

    "If we melt too fast, we will have flooding in all the towns that are impacted by this very unusual winter storm season," Osten said.


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    Police are searching for the man who followed a woman to her car outside a Bristol convenience store, got into the passenger's seat and demanded she drive him to the bank.

    According to police, the victim was leaving Marty's Mart at 198 Burlington Avenue shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday when a man with a knife got into her car and told her to drive to a bank.

    The woman drew attention to herself, scaring off the would-be robber. He was last seen running eastbound, and a police K-9 failed to track him down, according to police.

    The suspect stands between 5 feet 6 inches and 5 feet 9 inches tall and has an average build. He was wearing dark-colored clothing and a knit hat, police said.

    Anyone with information is urged to call Bristol police at 860-584-3011.


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    A rabbi from Cheshire has been charged on three felony counts after having inappropriate contact with a child under the age of 14 in 1968 and 1970, according to the Virginia Commonwealth Attorney.

    Eric Silver, who police say formerly led Temple Beth-David in Cheshire, is facing charges out of Norfolk, Virginia. The Meriden Record-Journal reports that Silver is 72 years old and lives on Willow Brook Drive in Cheshire.

    State officials in Virginia said the charges – three felony counts of indecent liberties with a child under the age of 14 – pertain to incidents that happened on Jan. 1, 1968 and June 30, 1970. Authorities said Silver targeted one victim.

    The Norfolk Commonwealth's Attorney sought the indictments last month, and Cheshire police, along with U.S. Marshals, took Silver into custody Tuesday. Cheshire police said Silver is being held in Connecticut ahead of his arraignment in Meriden Superior Court.

    Silver will then be extradited back to Virginia to stand trial, according to the office of the Norfolk Commonwealth's Attorney.

    Authorities have not released details of the allegations against Silver.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    Two fire districts in Waterford will lose their only full-time firefighters starting March 1, and the chiefs sent a town-wide letter warning that the move "may delay daytime response during the week."

    The Goshen and Quaker Hill fire districts will be left with only volunteer and part-time firefighters starting next month. Each district currently has one full-time firefighter, both of whom are moving to districts closer to the town center.

    In the letter, Goshen Fire Chief Todd Patton and Quaker Hill Fire Chief Matthew Carson encouraged residents to call the first selectman and director of fire services and "ask them why the safety of life and property for the residents of the Quaker Hill and Goshen Fire districts is not as important as that of residents in the other fire districts."

    First Selectman Dan Steward said letter came as a shock.

    "It was very disappointing to me that the chiefs would not share this concern with us prior to sending a letter of this magnitude," he said. "That's inflammatory, and that's inappropriate in my world, because this is the safety people we depend on to keep us safe, and they're suggesting they wouldn't be able to respond."

    Steward said the move, which comes as part of the negotiation process with the firefighters' union, will provide better service since the majority of calls come from the center of town.

    He added that the full-time firefighters from the two districts will be replaced with part-time fire personnel, though the letter calls that into question, saying, "In the event that a part-time fire fighter [sic] is not available then the town will leave the fire station vacant."

    According to Steward, all shifts have been filled for the month of March. He said the town will continue to keep a close eye on the situation and does not expect response time to be affected by the shift.

    Bruce Miller, director of fire services, in a statement Wednesday that "the intention of the realignment is to improve the existing deficiencies that we experience in today's system."

    Steward said he has not had any contact with either fire chief since the letter was released.

    "I had asked for a meeting with the chiefs. They refused to meet with me," said Steward.

    Both fire chiefs declined interviews Wednesday night. Patton said he and his counterpart in Quaker Hill had no further comment other than what was stated in the letter.

    Both chiefs will address the change during a public meeting at their respective stations Saturday morning.


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    Firefighters were called to the scene of a house fire on Boyden Street in Waterbury on Wednesday night.

    It's not clear if anyone was inside when the fire broke out.

    No additional information was immediately available.

    Check back for updates.



    Photo Credit: Ricky Kulmann

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    A New Jersey father was arrested on child porn charges after police executed a search warrant at his home in a sexual assault investigation involving his teenage son, prosecutors say. 

    Richard Stoldt, 58, and James Stoldt, 19, were arrested after the search at their Midland Park home in Bergen County Tuesday.

    Prosecutors had been investigating James Stoldt for an alleged sexual assault of a now 14-year-old girl. According to the Bergen County prosecutor's office, James Stoldt assaulted the girl when she was 13, but she only recently disclosed to a friend what happened. 

    The friend contacted police, who in turn interviewed the girl and then went to arrest James Stoldt, prosecutors said.

    When authorities executed a search warrant at his home, they seized computers that allegedly revealed that both James Stoldt and his father Richard were each accessing child pornography independently. 

    James Stoldt was arrested on sex assault and child endangerment charges, while Richard Stoldt, a software engineer, was arrested on a charge of child endangerment. 

    The teen was remanded to Bergen County Jail on $125,000 bail and Richard Stoldt was released on his own recognizance. 

    Attorney information wasn’t available. A person who picked up the phone at the number listed for the residence hung up when asked for a comment.


    Richard Stoldt and James E. StoldtRichard Stoldt and James E. Stoldt

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    The man accused of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl in Meriden several months ago has been arrested again, charged with raping a 19-year-old in 2012.

    Desmond James, 23, of Waterbury, was charged with first-degree sexual assault and third-degree assault Wednesday afternoon.

    He's currently in police custody on charges of home invasion and sex assault after allegedly crawling through the bedroom window of a 10-year-old last October, raping her while she was sleeping and threatening to kill her.

    James has been recently linked to a prior sex assault that happened in March 2012. Police said a Meriden woman saw his picture after the October arrest and recognized him as the man who had raped her when she was 19.

    A DNA sample linked James to the crime.

    Police said he approached the 19-year-old while she was walking on East Main Street in Meriden during the early morning hours of March 21. He forced her into a backyard on Foster Street and sexually assaulted her.

    The woman got away and hailed a driver passing through the area, who brought her to the police station.

    James was on transitional supervision by the Department of Correction at the time of the 2012 assault, according to police.

    His bond was increased Wednesday from $1 million to $1.5 million.



    Photo Credit: Meriden Police Department

    Desmond James, 23, of Waterbury, is accused of raping a 19-year-old in 2012 and a 10-year-old in 2014.Desmond James, 23, of Waterbury, is accused of raping a 19-year-old in 2012 and a 10-year-old in 2014.

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    Roads are slick as light snow falls across Connecticut. and there have been several spin-outs

    A coating to 2 inches of accumulation is likely as a low- pressure system that created problems in the southern United States grazes us, but snow will taper off pretty quickly.

    There have been crashes on Interstate 91 North in Cromwell between exits 20 and 21, and crashed on  Interstate 84 East and West in West Hartford.

    There is also a 3-and-a-half mile backup on Interstate 95 in Greenwich, between exits 9 and 4.

    Check traffic incidents here.

    The heaviest snow will go out to sea, just missing us, according to NBC Connecticut meteorologist Bob Maxon, but the light snow create some slick spots on the roads.

    In addition to the light snow, the cold continues. The temperature for this time of year should be around 40 degrees, but we’ll only see highs today of around 20 degrees inland and 23 at the shore.

    Download the NBC Connecticut weather app.

    The NBC Connecticut weather team is also keeping an eye on some storminess for Sunday evening and Sunday night into Monday morning.

    If you do not yet get our school closing alerts, you can sign up for them here.


    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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    Two brothers have been arrested, suspected of burglarizing a Bristol liquor store together and stealing a cash register, as well as another cash register drawer.

    When police responded to an active burglar alarm at D&D Package Store, at 966 Pine St., at 2:19 a.m. on Thursday, the front window was smashed out and it was clear that the burglars had gotten inside and taken a cash register and another cash register drawer, police said.

    Investigators looked at surveillance video, which presented a description of the burglars and their dark vehicle, which headed east, so police put out a bulletin to surrounding towns.

    Police in the next town over found not only the car, but the suspects and money stolen during the burglary, police said.

    Plainville Police would find the discarded cash register as well as the vehicle.

    Police apprehended the brothers in the vehicle, police said.

    Juan Gonzalez, 54, was charged with third-degree burglary, third-degree conspiracy to commit burglary, sixth-degree larceny and second-degree criminal mischief. He is being held on a $75,000 surety bond.

    Police identified the second suspect is as Jesus Gonzalez, 49, of Bristol. He is Juan’s brother, police said, and he’s been charged with conspiracy to commit burglary in the third degree and conspiracy to commit larceny in the sixth degree. He is being held on a $50,000 surety bond.

    Both brothers will appear in Bristol Superior Court this morning.
     


    Two brothers have been arrested, suspected of burglarizing a Bristol liquor store together and stealing a cash register, as well as another cash register drawer.Two brothers have been arrested, suspected of burglarizing a Bristol liquor store together and stealing a cash register, as well as another cash register drawer.

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    Middletown High School was evacuated briefly on Thursday morning over an odor, but students are being allowed back inside the building.

    Officials originally called the incident a possible gas leak and the students have been taken next door to Keigwin Middle School. Later, officials said there was a minor odor from the roof and it is being dealt with.

    Everyone is allowed back inside the building.  

    An NBC Connecticut crew is on the way to the scene. Check back for updates.
     



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Middletown High School was evacuated on Thursday morning, but they have been allowed back inside.Middletown High School was evacuated on Thursday morning, but they have been allowed back inside.

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    Stratford High School students were dismissed early Thursday after tiles shifted in one wing of the building, according to the superintendent's office.

    "There is no threat to students or staff, but as always, we strive to put first and foremost the safety and well-being of our students and staff while the Engineers do the work they need to do," school officials posted on the public schools website Thursday morning.

     

    Town engineers were called to the building and deemed it safe for classes to resume Friday. Continuing education classes scheduled for Thursday have been canceled and will resume Monday, according to the town.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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