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    Police have arrested a North Haven man accused of burglarizing nearly a dozen storage units in Hamden last fall and stealing jewelry, power tools and sporting goods.

    Mark Bonaminio, 30, of North Haven, turned himself in Monday after learning police had obtained a warrant for his arrest.

    Police said Bonaminio damaged padlocks on 11 storage units at Hamden Self-Storage on Raccio Park Drive last October.

    The burglaries were reported Oct. 30. The day before, Bonaminio was involved in a crash on Sherman Lane in Hamden and officers found a stolen jewelry box in his car, according to police. It turned out the jewelry box had been taken from one of the storage units.

    Bonaminio has been charged with 11 counts of third-degree burglary, third-degree larceny and first-degree criminal mischief. He is due in court May 11.


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    A teen from Montgomery County has been crowned the king of speed when it comes to solving a Rubik’s Cube.

    Collin Burns set a world record at a World Cube Association competition held Saturday at a Bucks County high school.

    Burns solved the challenging 3X3X3 puzzle in just 5.253 seconds at Central Bucks West High School in Doylestown. He beat the former world record of 5.55 seconds set by 18-year-old Mats Valk from Netherlands in 2013.

    In a video posted on Burn's YouTube account, spectators surround the teen and burst into applause as he speedily solves the puzzle. (Watch the full video below.)

    The competition, which helped raise awareness for the organization A Woman’s Place, drew a crowd of approximately 120 local students from the northeast, according to CB West teacher and event organizer Leanne Schrier. 

    In addition to participating in the event, Burns helped organize the competition and fundraiser, Schrier said. 

    The home-schooled teen, who broke the world record by 0.30 seconds, was named U.S. national champion last summer.

    Burns is the first American to hold the world record since 2006, according to the WCA.

     



    Photo Credit: Collin Burns YouTube

    April 25, 2015: Collin Burns, wearing a purple shirt, breaks the Rubik's Cube 3X3X3 single solve world record at Central Bucks West High School.April 25, 2015: Collin Burns, wearing a purple shirt, breaks the Rubik's Cube 3X3X3 single solve world record at Central Bucks West High School.

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    The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Monday launched a formal safety investigation into the stage collapse at a suburban Indianapolis high school that injured more than a dozen students. 

    The department initially said it lacked jurisdiction to investigate because no employees were involved. But it reversed that stance Monday based on new information that employees helped erect the stage.

    This investigation will help to verify whether IOSHA has jurisdiction over the matter and if any OSHA regulations were violated," said agency spokeswoman Amanda Stanley. 

    The stage at Westfield High School collapsed Thursday night as clapping and singing students performed Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" in the finale of a concert called "American Pie". 

    Westfield Washington Schools Superintendent Mark Keen said he wasn't sure who, if anyone, handles inspections of the district's school stages. He said school officials are delving into records and would provide information to investigators.

    Keen said the school often rents its auditorium to outside groups and the facility gets heavy use. He said the orchestra pit cover, which is used during some productions to get the performers closer to the audience, was replaced a few years ago after the original 1997 cover was damaged.

    He said officials were checking records to determine whether it had ever been inspected.

    The uncertainty surrounding the regulation of the collapse is reminiscent of questions that arose in 2011, when heavy winds toppled stage rigging onto fans awaiting a performance by country duo Sugarland at the Indiana State Fair.



    Photo Credit: Sara Camden

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    A bar owner in suburban Chicago is defending the years-long use of a two-way mirror in the women's restroom with full view of the toilet.

    "This is a giant funhouse, ladies and gentlemen," Ronnie Lotz told reporters Monday evening. "I put a lot of heart and soul into this business, and I am sorry to tell you this, but there is no hanky panky going on in that bathroom."

    The controversy surfaced when a comedian by the stage name of Tamale Rocks was performing a set at a bar in Chicago’s west suburbs when she visited the women’s restroom and noticed something strange – a full-length mirror directly across from the toilet.

    Rocks opened the door behind the mirror and inside found a utility closet large enough to stand in. From the other side she noticed you were able to see through the mirror and into the stall at Berwyn’s Cigars and Stripes.

    Shocked, Rocks recorded her findings and posted the video on YouTube. In less than 24 hours the video had garnered more than 70,000 views.

    "Why, when I go into a public bathroom, when there's an expectation of privacy, am I having to do that due diligence? It's a bathroom!" Rocks told NBC Chicago.

    Many women questioned by NBC Chicago were uncomfortable with the idea of the mirror, and some reported that they were not aware of the two-way mirror at all.

    The owner of Cigars & Stripes, located at 6715 Ogden Ave., Ronnie Lotz, first told Gawker’s Jezebel that they have a two-way mirror in their restroom, and it’s been there for nearly 15 years, since since 2001.

    In further comment to the publication, the bar's owner reportedly said the bar used to hang a witch's head in the closet as a Halloween gag so that women would look into the closet after using the restroom and "be all weirded out."

    He invited people to “come see my mirror; eat my chicken wings,” adding that he enjoyed the attention from those outraged by the mirror because, afterall, he's "selling chicken wings.”

    The bar has since shared Jezebel's article on their Facebook page. The owner told NBC Chicago that he has no plans to remove the mirror.

    While many are outraged, others don't see the issue. "Ronnie is a great guy and he's not doing anything wrong," said Steven Cusek, a bar patron who said he goes once a week for the last 2 years.

    "I'm kinda mad there's not one in the men's restroom," Cusek joked.

    However, Rocks and others aren't laughing. While the bar owner maintains that no recordings were made, Rocks isn't convinced that a two-way mirror with a full view of the toilet is a good idea.

    "I didn't see anyone, thankfully, at that point, there wasn't anyone," Rocks told NBC Chicago, "but there's nothing to say that there hadn't been in the past."

    The Berwyn Police Department is investigating.



    Photo Credit: Courtesy Tamale Sepp

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    A babysitter hired to watch two children at an Oceanside home Friday night was met by a man covered in blood who said he had just “slayed the beast,” police said.

    It took five Oceanside Police officers to subdue David Anthony Strouth, 34, who was found inside an open garage on Santa Rosa Street at approximately 9:30 p.m.

    The babysitter had just arrived to the home when she saw Strouth standing near another man lying on the floor of the garage, police said.

    The man on the floor was identified as 49-year-old Bradley Thomas Garner. Garner suffered numerous stab wounds to his neck and chest, officials said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

    The woman told officers that when Strouth saw her, he got up and walked toward her. She ran to her car and called neighbors for help.

    Oceanside police said the neighbors grabbed a knife and a handgun and went to the home to get the children to safety.

    They found Strouth in the garage stabbing himself in the arms and neck, according to officials.

    Strouth was airlifted to a Scripps Hospital La Jolla with non-life threatening injuries. He was later booked on homicide charges.

    The babysitter and the children, ages two and four years, were not injured.
     



    Photo Credit: NBC 7

    Neighbors armed themselves with a knife and a handgun after the babysitter called them for help.Neighbors armed themselves with a knife and a handgun after the babysitter called them for help.

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    The former treasurer of the parent-teacher organization for Hatton Elementary School in Southington has been arrested, accused of embezzling around $6,000 from the school organization.

    Christine Honohan, 37, of Southington, turned herself in to Southington Police headquarters at 2:20 p.m. on Friday after learning there was a warrant for her arrest, according to a news release from police.

    She is accused of making several cash withdrawals, writing herself a personal check and buying personal items with the PTO debit card without authorization between August 2014 and October 2014.

    Police started investigating after the PTO reported their former treasurer allegedly embezzled thousands of dollars.

    Honohan has been charged with third-degree larceny and was released on a court-set promise to appear bond. She is due in Bristol Superior Court on May 4.



    Photo Credit: Southington Police

    Christine Honohan, the former treasurer of a PTO in Southington is accused of embezzlement.Christine Honohan, the former treasurer of a PTO in Southington is accused of embezzlement.

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    Police have arrested a second suspect in the murder of a Bridgeport grocery store owner.

    Treizy Lopez, 18, of New Haven, was arrested Monday morning at 59 East Avenue in West Haven, with help from several law-enforcement agencies.

    Lopez is one of two suspects in the fatal shooting of 57-year-old Jose Salgado on April 11 at his grocery store on Lexington Avenue.

    Salgado was killed while working at the store he owns with his wife, Sapiao's Grocery at 351 Lexington Avenue in Bridgeport. The robbers wielded handguns and demanded money, according to police.

    Police said one of the men shot him right after Salgado handed over the cash.

    Leighton Vanderberg, 22, of New Haven, was arrested last week in connection to the murder and was also being held on unrelated charges.

    As police were taking Lopez into custody, Savin Rock School was placed under a shelter-in-place order due to its proximity to the arrest location. Students were kept inside the building until Lopez was apprehended.

    New Haven police said investigators found the Ford Focus sought in connection with the Bridgeport murder on Blake Street last week. The vehicle is similar to a car seen near the scene of a separate New Haven homicide, but police have not confirmed a connection between the cases.

    Vanderberg told police he drove the car and went inside the store with Lopez, according to police. Both Vanderberg and Lopez were held on $1 million bond.

    "We hope this brings a certain level of comfort to the community and helps this close-knit family to begin the healing process," Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch said in a statement Monday. "We will continue to support them moving forward."

    The U.S. Marshal Violent Crime Fugitive Task Force, local and state police helped make the arrest.



    Photo Credit: Bridgeport Police Department

    Treizy Lopez, 18, and Leighton Vanderberg, 22, are accused of shooting and killing a Bridgeport store clerk during a robbery.Treizy Lopez, 18, and Leighton Vanderberg, 22, are accused of shooting and killing a Bridgeport store clerk during a robbery.

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    Police have canceled a Silver Alert for the 84-year-old man reported missing from Glastonbury on Monday.

    Hobart Benson has returned home safely, according to police.

    Benson has gray hair and blue eyes. He stands 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 200 pounds.



    Photo Credit: Glastonbury Police Department

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    Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro walked into the Seacrest Retirement Center to a round of applause from seniors and veterans, who were awaiting her proposed legislation that would protect their homes.

    In 2013, an error by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs had mistakenly been placing veterans in rest home facilities that weren't authorized under the options available to veterans who need full-time nursing care.

    Navy veteran Vincent Lynch was in jeopardy of losing his place at Seacrest.

    “I wasn't sure whether I could afford to stay here or whether I was going to have to seek housing on my own,” said Lynch.

    Lynch was able to stay temporarily after DeLauro talked to the VA. Now, the congresswoman is proposing a permanent solution for all vets.

    The Veterans Residential Care Choice Act would allow the VA to pay for eligible veterans to live at residential care facilities. Right now, many veterans and their families are paying for that care.

    “It will allow veterans to choose where they live, the type of environment they live in and the care they receive. So it eliminates the financial burdens on veterans or their families,” said DeLauro. “This is the least that we can do to be able to repay a debt that we owe to all of our veterans.”

    For veterans at Seacrest, it also eliminates the burden of wondering where they'll live.

    “It's going to be a permanent solution to my problem,” said Lynch.

    The VA is reviewing the legislation.

    Walinda West, deputy director of media relations for the VA, addressed the legislation in the following statement:

    "The Department of Veterans Affairs will examine proposed legislation on all matters affecting VA operations. It would be premature to take a definitive position until we have thoroughly reviewed the bill.”



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    A school bus was involved in a minor crash Monday evening on the Bolton-Andover town line, according to state police.

    Police said nobody was hurt when the bus collided with another vehicle. It's not clear if any children were on the bus at the time.

    NBC Connecticut has reached out to the school system for comment.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    The new budget unveiled by top Democrats of the legislature’s Appropriations Committee significantly increases spending over the governor’s proposal and restores funding to some of the hardest-hit programs.

    "We felt that those things were too important for families not to maintain them," said State Rep. Toni Walker, a Democrat from New Haven.

    The headline items like developmental services, mental health, and higher education also saw their funding restored to significantly higher levels than those proposed by Gov. Dannel Malloy.

    "For things in mental health, we remembered the commitment that we made after Newtown to the families for mental health and making sure that we try to eliminate those types of tragedies," Walker said.

    Overall, the new proposal spends more than $500 million more than Malloy’s spending plan.

    When asked whether the new budget requires tax increases, the chairs said it's not for them to decide, deferring to members of the Finance and Bonding Committee.

    Critics of the new proposal argue that the Appropriations Committee budget blows through the state’s spending cap, a legal obligation.

    "Connecticut families can’t balance their budgets by declaring that they’re moving their expenses off their budget; our legislature shouldn’t be able to do that either," Carol Platt Liebau with the right-leaning Yankee Institute said in a statement.

    State Sen. Beth Bye, one of the chairs of the Appropriations Committee who has worked on the budget nonstop since February, argued that the committee has received legal guidance that some expenses could be moved out from under the spending cap in order to boost spending for long-term obligations.

    "State employee retirement and other post-employment benefits represent long-term indebtedness" aren’t included in the spending cap and budget proposal, said Bye, a Democrat who represents West Hartford.

    Republicans welcomed the new budget proposal, saying they’re ready to work with Democrats to formulate a budget that makes sense for Connecticut. Republicans unveiled their own budget last week that included spending reinstatements while simultaneously cutting overtime for state employees, which would require concessions from employee unions.

    State Sen. Rob Kane, the ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee, described an "us vs. them" mentality when it comes to negotiating with the executive branch.

    "What we found is kind of that this governor has dismissed the legislature whether Democrat or Republican. It's kind of brought our two parties together because we are an equal body of government and can really come together and collaborate on really a good budget document," he said.

    Malloy, when reached for comment earlier in the day, said he hadn’t yet reviewed the new Appropriations Committee budget.


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    Members of the finance & bonding committee heard testimony Monday on a proposal to create new license for vendors of e-cigarettes and nicotine vaporizers, which would include a $100 fee to sign up and $500 for a license.

    About 50 stores in Connecticut specialize in the sale of these products, but that figure does not include hundreds of gas stations and convenience stores that stock their shelves.

    Nick Ricciardi owns three stores that specialize in the sales of vaporizers and has 10 employees whom he described as "experts" in the field.

    Ricciardi said he’s not thrilled with the proposal but that he reads the news enough to see why his industry is being targeted for cash.

    "I understand where it’s coming from as a Connecticut resident. The state needs money. They need to raise funds. We just want to make sure that they’re doing it on an equal playing field scale," he said.

    Ricciardi doesn’t want to get grouped with tobacco products as the conversation moves forward.

    "Too many people try to lump us in with tobacco. We are not tobacco. We are anti-tobacco in fact," Ricciardi said.

    Supporters of the tax said vaporizers and e-cigarettes are not any healthier than traditional tobacco products. According to the American Lung Association, vaporizer fluid contains carcinogens, and there is no link between quitting smoking and using of vaporizers.

    State Rep. Jeffrey Berger, who chairs the committee that decides on tax policy for the General Assembly, said he doesn’t think it’s fair to group the new products with traditional cigarettes. He said the decision to consider a tax is all about revenue and state spending.

    "The stores probably don’t like the fee," said Berger, a Democrat from Waterbury.

    He added that a state license will add legitimacy to an industry that doesn’t have any kind of official licensing structure.

    "This is a way that the committee needs to move forward both on the revenue side and the accountability side," Berger said.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27:  In this photo illustration, a woman smokes an E-Cigarette at the V-Revolution E-Cigarette shop in Covent Garden on August 27, 2014 in London, England. The Department of Health have ruled out the outlawing of 'e-cigs' in enclosed spaces in England, despite calls by WHO, The World Health Organisation to do so. WHO have recommended a ban on indoor smoking of e-cigs as part of tougher regulation of products dangerous to children.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 27: In this photo illustration, a woman smokes an E-Cigarette at the V-Revolution E-Cigarette shop in Covent Garden on August 27, 2014 in London, England. The Department of Health have ruled out the outlawing of 'e-cigs' in enclosed spaces in England, despite calls by WHO, The World Health Organisation to do so. WHO have recommended a ban on indoor smoking of e-cigs as part of tougher regulation of products dangerous to children. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

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    The local Nepalese community in Connecticut is paying close attention to the tragedy unfolding in its native country.

    Sam Khadka has brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews living in Nepal. When the devastating earthquake hit, he feared the worst. Although some 4,000 other people were not so lucky, Khadka has since learned his family members all survived.

    "They are safe but house is collapsed, house damaged, not stable condition," said Khadka.

    With the death toll mounting, there are also growing concerns for survivors who are left with no shelter, no clean water and no food. As diseases spread, medical care is scarce especially for residents of remote mountain villages.

    "Some villages in Nepal are totally collapsed," said Khadka.

    About 200 people from the local Nepalese community attended a vigil in West Hartford on Sunday night, organized by the Nepalese Association of Connecticut organized the event, of which Khadka is president.

    The association is now raising money and collecting other donations, planning to send everything to Nepal to benefit those in need, according to Khadka.

    "Whatever you can donate to us. Whatever you can help us. Please give us your hand," said Khadka.

    You can find more information on donating to the group at www.ctnepali.org.


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    Relatives of the former Connecticut National Guardsman who vanished on a diving excursion in Thailand have returned from the Pacific with more questions than answers.

    While in Thailand, Jennifer Bakowski boarded a helicopter and flew over the water where her brother Joshua Devine, 36, went missing April 11. She joined her mother, the governor of Phuket and members of the Thai marine police in their search.

    "We circled all the Similan Islands that he was headed towards and then we went up to the two additional islands. We circled those," Bakowski described.

    There's still no sign of Devine, a U.S. Army veteran and former Connecticut National Guardsman who worked as an IT specialist for a military contractor in Kuwait.

    The avid scuba diver was on a diving excursion with his wife, a Thai native, when he reportedly drank too much, became agitated and disappeared, family members have said.

    His family has criticized the initial investigation and questioned whether foul play was involved.

    "There's something wrong with the version of events that happened. It just wouldn't, it's just not the way that Josh operated," said Bakowski.

    While in Thailand, Devine's family met with U.S. Embassy officials and an FBI agent.

    They left without finding any clues to Devine's whereabouts, and the official search ended shortly thereafter.

    "We got some answers. We may not ever get all of our answers," said Bakowski.

    While they fear Devine may have drowned, family members are holding out hope he's alive.

    Bakowski brought a letter with her to Thailand written by her oldest daughter, Joshua's niece. They still have it and want him to read it.

    "She thinks he's on an adventure meeting all sorts of new creatures that he's going to be able to share with her," said Bakowski. "So she's got hope, so we have to keep it as well."

    The family plans to keep in touch with officials they met in Thailand but have no plans to return at this point.



    Photo Credit: Family Photos

    Former Connecticut National Guardsman Joshua Devine, 36, went missing on a diving excursion in Thailand on April 11.Former Connecticut National Guardsman Joshua Devine, 36, went missing on a diving excursion in Thailand on April 11.

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    A 60-year-old Stamford native is among the missing after a deadly 7.8-magnitude earthquake shook Nepal over the weekend, leaving more than 3,800 dead and others unaccounted for.

    Jennifer Cushman, who is originially from Stamford and now lives in New York City, has been registered through the International Committee of the Red Cross as a missing person in Nepal.

    Her sister, Old Lyme resident Amanda Cushman, said Jennifer Cushman was last reported to be in the capital city of Kathmandu, where monuments toppled and bodies were buried.

    Amanda Cushman said her sister was supposed to be leaving the city for a nature preserve the day of the quake and hopes Jennifer Cushman is stranded in the countryside without access to a phone or Internet.

    The devastation has cut off communication to much of the country and left survivors in desperate need of food and water.

    Four Americans have been confirmed dead, all of them in the area of Mount Everest, where the quake triggered a landslide.



    Photo Credit: Amanda Cushman

    Jennifer Jennifer "Jenny" Cushman, 60, a Stamford native, is missing in Nepal in the wake of a deadly 7.8-magnitude earthquake.

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    When nanny Meagan Zyskowski first met baby Lili Moore and her mom, Jayme Fralick, she was up front about her genetic chronic pancreatitis, which was diagnosed in 2010.

    She had already gone through a cell transplant. Little did she know, a few months later, both she and Lili would be on waiting lists for organ donations.

    “It's definitely kind of a unique situation that here I am needing a transplant and so does Lili,” said Zyskowski.

    Zyskowski, 25, is on the list for a pancreas, and after five calls to Yale-New Haven Hospital, she's still waiting.

    One-and-a-half year old Lili needs a new liver, after she was diagnosed with biliary atresia, where her body doesn't drain bile properly. She, too, has already undergone various procedures.

    “The diagnosis in itself was overwhelming, and then just having to deal with it, going through the whole process of what's next, where do we look to, has been very overwhelming,” said Lili's father, Matthew Moore.

    Fralick is looking to donate part of her liver to her daughter and is in the process of getting it approved at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

    “You just know internally that you would do anything for your child and if that meant giving part of your organ, or a piece of you, you would,” said Fralick.

    Zyskowski and the family hope that sharing their stories will inspire others to consider donating organs or at least be more aware of the need for organ transplants.

    “My message would be just try to educate yourself and just know the facts and just understand that when you die, you can save up to eight lives,” said Zyskowski.

    Both Zyskowski and Lili have GoFundMe pages set up to help them with medical expenses.

    You can find their pages here:

    You can also follow Lili's journey here.


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    Many in Connecticut are watching disaster unfold in Nepal, where a devastating earthquake claimed more than 4,000 lives, praying their loved ones are safe and channeling their heartbreak into acts of kindness and generosity.

    At least four Americans are among the dead and others, including a Stamford native, are unaccounted for. Aid has been coming in from around the world for the eight million people affected by the quake.

    "I cannot cry in front of the world, but I am crying inside my heart," said Ram Shrestha with the Branford-based Society of Nepalese in America.

    The quake destroyed Shrestha's childhood home and killed at least two cousins. Some of his family members are huddled under a tarp, which they now call home.

    "I'm even scared to pick up the phone nowadays. Every single phone means some sort of sorrow," said Shrestha.

    Sixty-year-old Stamford native Jennifer Cushman is still missing. Her family posted her information online, hoping Cushman will reach to say she's safe.

    Berlin resident Brooke Schreiner felt relief when she received news that her brother, Casey was alive at the Kathmandu airport. Casey had been at one of Mount Everest's now devastated base camp just days before the quake.

    His sister is concerned he's not yet safe.

    "He is basically stranded and trapped inside the airport at Kathmandu," said Schreiner. "They don't have any food. They have water today. They didn't have any water yesterday."

    With ruined cities and villages turning into graveyards, and many still unaccounted for, those who are stateside are doing what they can to pitch in.

    Members of the Society of Nepalese in America are working to raise money and say every penny will go to the victims of the devastated country. They're also begging doctors and nurses to volunteer to head over.

    "One doctor can save thousands and thousands of lives," said Shrestha.

    As videos reveal the wreckage and desperation, many hope those halfway across the world will help save them.

    "People are losing their lives. Family, father, mother, son, the house is collapsed. They losing everything," said Ram Hari Bhandari, chairman of the Society of Nepalese in America. "Please help whatever they can possible."

    The organization has also planned a candlelight prayer ceremony to take place Tuesday night on the Branford Green. Organizers say everyone is invited and have asked people to arrive by 7:30 p.m.

    You can donate to the Society of Nepalese in America online.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay visits the collapsed temples at Basantapur Durbar Square on April 27, 2015 in Kathmandu, Nepal. A major 7.8 earthquake hit Kathmandu mid-day on Saturday, and was followed by multiple aftershocks that triggered avalanches on Mt. Everest that buried mountain climbers in their base camps. Many houses, buildings and temples in the capital were destroyed during the earthquake, leaving over 2 thousand dead and many more trapped under the debris as emergency rescue workers attempt to clear debris and find survivors.  (Photo by Omar Havana/Getty Images)Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay visits the collapsed temples at Basantapur Durbar Square on April 27, 2015 in Kathmandu, Nepal. A major 7.8 earthquake hit Kathmandu mid-day on Saturday, and was followed by multiple aftershocks that triggered avalanches on Mt. Everest that buried mountain climbers in their base camps. Many houses, buildings and temples in the capital were destroyed during the earthquake, leaving over 2 thousand dead and many more trapped under the debris as emergency rescue workers attempt to clear debris and find survivors. (Photo by Omar Havana/Getty Images)

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    Authorities are investigating after someone apparently set fire Monday evening to an old mill site in Manchester that has sat vacant for years.

    Emergency crews were called to 260 Tolland Turnpike, a collection of empty industrial buildings, around 5:50 p.m. Monday.

    Flames were visible from the windows of the empty mill at the height of the fire, and a plume of black smoke rose into the air as building materials burned on two floors of an empty building.

    Fire officials said it appears some had "deliberately gathered" wood and brush and lit them on fire. The building's roof collapsed before crews arrived at the scene.

    Sixteen firefighters fought the flames from the outside, because the abandoned structure had been "red tagged" and deemed unsafe. Firefighters would have entered only to save a life, but the burning building was empty.

    Crews were able to contain the blaze within about 30 minutes and said no hazardous materials were involved. No one was hurt.

    "There's plenty of fuel in there. We were just hoping, you know, this time, it's so rotted or wet it wouldn't burn," said Manchester Fire Battalion Chief Dan Huppe. "Apparently, we weren't right. It found a way to light up."

    It's not the first time this building has burned. Fire prompted a partial collapse of the structure last August, and investigators said at the time it appeared to be a case of arson.

    "It's housed several different businesses in the last 110, 115 years," Huppe said. "It's been vacant the last 20, 25 years and this is our fifth fire here in as many as 10 or 12 years."

    Firefighters would like to see the buildings demolished. They said there is a plan in place to tear down the complex in May and hope it happens before yet another fire breaks out.

    The fire marshal is investigating but will not be entering the building, according to Fire Chief David Billings.



    Photo Credit: Bryan Sutton

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    When two Quinnipiac University seniors planned a small off-campus party in Hamden for last Saturday afternoon, they never expected the crowd they would draw – or the special guest.

    John Lahey, the longtime president of Quinnipiac University, made a surprise visit and a video posted on YouTube shows Lahey with a microphone amid hundreds of college-aged people in the backyard of the Hamden home.

    “You guys, Quinnipiac students are the greatest students in the world,” Lahey shouted to the cheering crowd.

    The hosts of the party, several Quinnipiac seniors who are about to graduate, said the party on Delsole Road grew much bigger than they had anticipated. Even days later, they were still unsure why Lahey suddenly arrived.

    “We were not involved or in contact with trying to get him to come here,” said Rich Borek, who hosted the party with housemate Connor McNamara. “It just happened and he ended up in our backyard.”

    Borek and McNamara said they had originally planned a small gathering for members of the senior class. But word of the party spread quickly on social media and attendance grew beyond control.
    “Since it was May Weekend, everybody heard about it and it got way too out of hand,” McNamara said.

    “You guys are living proof that May Weekend still exists,” Lahey said to the crowd, even though such parties have been said to have strained the relationship between the school and the community in the past.

    Neighbors said Lahey drove away soon after he finished speaking to the guests.

    NBC Connecticut contacted the university’s office of public affairs for an explanation as to why Lahey would attend such a party.

    “We have a university president who likes and understands young people,” wrote Lynn Bushell, vice president for public affairs.

    Besides the short written statement, there was no further explanation as to why Lahey was there.
    Meanwhile, neighbors called the police to have the rest of the crowd peacefully dispersed.

    “It just seemed like he got them more excited and then he just quickly left,” said Michael Schrader, who has lived in the neighborhood for two decades.

    Schrader and other neighbors commended the hosts of the party for coordinating and cooperating with police officers to have the party broken up both quickly and peacefully.

    Still, they were stunned to see Lahey on their street, especially amid the festivities.

    “As a graduate of Quinnipiac University, I’m very much concerned and embarrassed about him being there,” Schrader said.

    No injuries or arrests were reported.
     



    Photo Credit: YouTube
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    Connecticut police are on the alert as three gangs threaten to “take out” law enforcement in Baltimore, where violence has erupted over the police custody death of Freddie Gray.

    Gray died of an unexplained spinal injury on April 19, and on Monday – the day of his funeral – rioting protesters in Baltimore left several officers with broken bones and knocked one unconscious.

    The police department in Maryland’s largest city said it has “received credible information” that gang members have threatened the lives of officers.

    “This is a credible threat. Law enforcement agencies should take appropriate precautions to ensure the safety of their officers,” Baltimore police wrote in a press release Monday afternoon.

    Although it’s not clear if police in Connecticut are in imminent danger, two of the gangs in question – the Bloods and Crips – have ties to the state.

    Several departments in Connecticut said they’re taking measures to keep their members safe.

    “[The threat] may be credible there and not necessarily credible here. All of that said, we are on our toes,” said Officer David Hartman of the New Haven Police Department. “And it behooves us to be that way every day, every shift, with every officer, regardless of receiving some type of notice of a threat like this.”

    Connecticut State Police spokesman Sgt. Shane Hassett said the department sent a bulletin out to troopers Monday informing them of the threat “for situational awareness purposes.”

    Lt. James Perez of the Fairfield Police Department is calling on residents to report suspicious activity, “especially any groups that are gathering in any particular area as the public can be in danger as well.”

    Hartford police said they “continually monitor information from law enforcement both locally and across the country” to make sure officers and community members stay safe, but that the focus is on “moving forward in a positive direction together with our citizens.”

    “The best way to keep our officers and those we protect and serve safe is to continue to strengthen our mutual trust with our police and our community,” Deputy Chief Brian Foley said in a statement Monday night. "With the continued struggles on a national level, locally this has to be our highest priority."


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