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    Since his son, Christopher, was killed during a shooting rampage in Isla Vista, California, a year ago Saturday, Richard Martinez has upended his life to advocate for gun control.

    The former criminal defense lawyer who once gave little thought to the number of people shot in the United States now cares only about making sure others do not die as his 20-year-old son did.

    "I feel a sense of urgency," he said this week. "I feel like the longer it takes us to get these things done, the more people are going to die for no good reason. It's that important. So for me, this is a matter of life and death."

    Martinez is a senior outreach associate for Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun control advocacy group. He has traveled the country asking voters to back candidates in favor of what the group calls common-sense gun legislation. He worked to get gun control measures passed in California and Washington and to turn back other bills in Florida.

    “The level of gun violence in this country is appalling,” he said. “We have lock-down drills now in elementary schools and we regard that as normal. When I was growing up in the '50s and '60s in this country, no little kid ever thought of being shot and killed in their elementary school."

    Christopher Ross Michaels-Martinez, a student at the University of California at Santa Barbara, was gunned down at a deli near the campus on May 23, 2014 when a troubled 22-year-old student of a local community college went on a shooting spree. 

    Elliot Rodger had three guns in his BMW, a Glock 34 and two SIG Saur P226s. Firing out the window, he killed three people and injured seven others. He injured another seven people by driving over them with the car. Just before the shooting rampage, he killed three others at his apartment, stabbing to death two roommates and a guest.

    Rodger, whose father, Peter, was an assistant director of the “The Hunger Games,” had earlier been visited by deputies from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office because his mother was worried. But the deputies failed to search his room or find his guns and left convinced of a misunderstanding.

    Martinez’s activism began immediately after the shootings, at a sheriff’s office news conference where he emotionally denounced “craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA.” At his son’s memorial he challenged the mourners to send postcards to their political representatives with what was becoming his mantra, “Not One More.”

    Afterward, Everytown for Gun Safety approached him about delivering some of the 2.4 million postcards created in response and he did. He hand-delivered postcards to Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a strong supporter of gun rights, and to U.S. Rep. Marco Rubio, who opposed some gun control measures as ineffective and infringing on the constitutional right to bear arms.

    He's been working full-time for Everytown for Gun Safety ever since.

    "Mr. Martinez said he never expected this could happen to his family -- but gun violence can, and does, happen in every town," said Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which merged with Mayors Against Illegal Guns to create Everytown for Gun Safety last year.

    The National Rifle Association did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Martinez, 62, grew up on a farm in an extended family that hunted, and he served in the U.S. Army as a military police office in Heidelberg in what was then West Germany. Before his son was killed, he said he paid no attention to debates over gun control — not when 20 children were massacred at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, nor when some of their parents pleaded unsuccessfully with the U.S. Congress to pass an expansion of background checks for firearms purchases.

    “I blamed craven politicians,” he said. “The fact is I’m responsible too. I didn’t do anything.”

    Everytown for Gun Safety has turned its attention to the states. In November, Washington voters approved universal background checks for gun buyers -- a law the NRA said would be ineffective. After the Isla Vista shootings, the California lawmakers approved allowing families to ask a judge to remove firearms temporarily from a relative who appears to pose a threat.

    Martinez said he would never know whether the new legislation could have made a difference in his son's death.

    "But it's a new tool that wasn't available to families or law enforcement before," he said. "And it's something that can save lives because we need to do a better job in this country about keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people and that means felons, domestic abusers and people who are mentally unstable."

    No laws will protect everyone all the time, but gun controls can make Americans safer, Martinez said, just as seat belts, air bags and other measures cut the number of deaths from automobile accidents. There is no single answer to gun violence, but many, and they will make a difference over time, he said.

    On average 32,514 people die from gun violence in the United States each year, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

    "Why is it we have to accept such a high level of gun violence?" Martinez asked. "It's not necessary. These things are preventable. There are solutions."

    The NRA in the 1950s and 1960s was a far different organization than it is today -- civic minded and safety conscious, he said.

    "Their attitude towards gun safety was far different in that time period than it is now," he said. "They need to get back to their traditional values."

    His son, whom he described as funny, kind, generous and gentle, was competitive in academics and athletics and wanted to follow his parents into law. His mother, Caryn Michaels, is a deputy district attorney in San Luis Obispo.

    "He just enjoyed life," Richard Martinez said. "He was just an absolutely terrific kid."

    Martinez himself has not been back in the courtroom since his son died. What is important to him now is trying to save the lives of other young people.

    "That's why I get up in the morning," he said. "Otherwise -- my son was the center of my life. He meant everything to me."
     


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

    Richard Martinez calls to end gun violence during a memorial service on Tuesday, May 27, 2014 for six UCSB students killed in a rampage. His son, Christopher Michaels-Martinez, was killed in the violence.Richard Martinez calls to end gun violence during a memorial service on Tuesday, May 27, 2014 for six UCSB students killed in a rampage. His son, Christopher Michaels-Martinez, was killed in the violence.

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    A month after walking the 400-foot Orlando Eye untethered, renowned daredevil acrobat and Guinness Book of World Records holder Nik Wallenda completed another dangerous feat in Connecticut.

    Wallenda, of the Flying Wallenders, traversed a 711-foot long tightrope, 75 to 80 feet in the air, in 13- to 14-mile per hour winds on Friday afternoon, as a crowd watched from below.

    The tightrope was suspended between the fifth floor of the Rainmaker garage and the roof of Tanger Outlets mall, and Wallender stopped in the middle to do a ribbon cutting for the new mall.

    Later during the tightrope walk, Wallenda even got down onto the rope and laid down.

    “We like to leave our guests breathless with anticipation when visiting the Northeast’s largest resort casino destination, and nobody in the world leaves them quite as mesmerized as Nik Wallenda,” Felix Rappaport, president and CEO of Foxwoods Resort Casino. “He’s an amazing performer who has been leaving audiences astonished for decades. We’re thrilled to have him here during the grand opening weekend celebration for our new Tanger Outlets at Foxwoods. It will be thrilling as he walks high above the buildings of the 8.6 million square-feet of Foxwoods, North America’s largest resort.”

    The stunt also benefits the United Way of Southeastern Connecticut, with Foxwoods vowing to donate $7.11-worth of clothing from the Tanger Outlets to the organization for every foot Wallenda walked.

    Wallenda is a seventh-generation Flying Wallenda's Family member, has multiple Guinness World Records and was the first person to walk over the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls, according to a news release about the grand opening.

    He set a Guinness World Record in 2010 for the longest and highest bike ride on a high wire in New Jersey and another one in 2011 for his "Wheel of Death" performance on on top of the Tropicana Casino and Resort, which is 23 stories high, according to the news release. He recently set two more Guinness world records doing a two-part tightrope walk in Chicago between two skyscrapers. 


    (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Nik Wallenda)(Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Nik Wallenda)

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    Route 67 was closed near Dutton Road in Oxford after wind lifted a large tent, which brought down wires, according to state police, but the road has reopened.

    Dispatchers said a gust of wind lifted the large tent, which was on private property, and carried it onto wires that snapped.

    Utility crews responded. No injuries are reported.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Part of Route 67 in Oxford was closed after wind picked up a tent and placed it on power lines.Part of Route 67 in Oxford was closed after wind picked up a tent and placed it on power lines.

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    A blast at a Loudoun County, Virginia, quarry sent rocks and debris smashing into nearby homes and cars, leaving one person injured Thursday morning.

    Dwight Brooks said a huge rock from the quarry tore through the roof of his parents' house a half mile away and landed in a bedroom several feet from his brother's bed. Brooks said his brother, who was sleeping in the room, was cut by debris that fell from the ceiling and needed eight stitches. 

    "If that had hit him, damage could have been much worse," Brooks said.

    The debris came from a scheduled quarry blast, Loudoun County Fire and Rescue said. Falling debris damaged several structures and cars.

    Security camera video shows a rock flying through the air and shattering glass in the nearby Fairfax Auto Parts store. Three large windows at the store were shattered when a rock went through the front of the store. 

    Employees said they are used to the building shaking from nearby quarry blasts, but the size of these rocks was unprecedented.

    Mike Quinn of Fairfax Auto Parts said he had "never in my wildest dreams" seen "the size rocks that we saw that came through the window."

    At least a half dozen cars were damaged in the store's parking lot.

    First-responders arrived in the area near the intersection of Old Ox Road and Oakgrove Road in Sterling shortly before 11 a.m.

    County officials said only one person was injured in the blast.

    Inspectors from the blasting company, Winchester Building Supply, surveyed the scene to try to determine what went wrong.

    The Loudoun County Fire Marshal's Office and the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy were also called to the scene.

    Residents who were affected can call the Virginia DMME at 434-951-6310.



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

    Debris from a quarry blast damaged buildings and cars in Sterling. (Loudoun Fire Rescue)Debris from a quarry blast damaged buildings and cars in Sterling. (Loudoun Fire Rescue)

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    Glastonbury police have identified the man whose body was pulled from the Connecticut River on the night of Saturday,  May 9.

    Police said boaters found the body of Noel Hernandez, 49, of Hartford, floating in the water in the area of 252 Welles St. and called police at 6:52 p.m that night.

    Authorities are not sure how Hernandez got into the river and the cause of his death is not known.

    The results of the autopsy are pending.
     



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    A 42-year-old Bristol man is facing charges in connection with a sexual assault that took place last summer at a Southington motel.

    Kevin Goulbourne, of Bristol, turned himself in to police on May 20 after learning there was a warrant for his arrest.

    He has been charged with first-degree sexual assault and first-degree unlawful restraint.

    Southington police said the charges stem from a sexual assault at the Motel 6 on Queen Street in Southington that happened around July 30, 2014. The warrant has been sealed by court order.

    Goulbourne was released after posting $50,000 bond and is due in court June 2.



    Photo Credit: Southington Police Department

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    Construction on New Haven's Downtown Crossing development will impact traffic patterns on Memorial Day weekend and into next month.

    Friday, May 22 through Sunday, May 24

    The left two lanes of South Frontage Road will be closed between College Street and York Street from 11 p.m. Friday, May 22 through 6 a.m. Sunday, May 24 due to construction on the building at 100 College Street.

    Police said the pedestrian sidewalk west of College Street between MLK Boulevard and South Frontage Road will also be closed until further notice. The service driveways to 100 College Street and the Air Rights Garage are also closed.

    Tuesday, May 26 through Friday, June 5

    Crews will be clearing the drainage pipe along South Frontage Road between College Street and Orange Street from Tuesday, May 26 through about Friday, June 5 in an effort to prevent street flooding. The left lane on South Frontage Road will be closed intermittently during this time.

    Tuesday, May 26 through Wednesday, May 27

    An overhead sign will be installed along Route 34 westbound at Orange Street. The left and center lanes will be closed between 6 p.m. Tuesday and 6 a.m. Wednesday.

    Thursday, May 28 through Friday, June 5

    Workers will be marking bike lanes along MLK Boulevard, Church Street and College Street from Thursday, May 28 through the week of June 1. Expect closures.


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    The former finance director for the town of Plymouth has been sentenced to prison time for embezzling more than $800,000 from the town, much of which officials said he used to buy designer purses and doll collections.

    David J. Bertnagel, 41, of Thomaston, will serve 30 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. He has also been ordered to perform 1,500 hours of community service, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

    He has also agreed to pay $808,029.94 in restitution to Plymouth, to forfeit more than $45,000 that he held in bank accounts, as well as jewelry, stamps, coins and other collectibles that were seized on the date of his arrest in January. Bertnagel must cooperate with the IRS to pay outstanding taxes, penalties and interest.

    Bertnagel pleaded guilty to federal theft and tax charges in Feburary.

    Officials said Bertnagel embezzled $808,030 from the town. According to federal court records, Bertnagel used the funds to build something akin to a museum in his home and fill it with Hummel figurines, Annalee dolls, coins, stamps and more than 200 Coach purses, among others.

    When investigators questioned one of Bertnagel’s friends, she described the house Bertnagel shares with his mother as a "museum" full of collections.

    Bertnagel served as finance director from July 2014 until Oct. 31, 2014, when town officials suspended him after discovering "improprieties" in the finance department. He previously worked as a part-time employee in the department.



    Photo Credit: New Britain Herald/Bristol Press and NBCConnecticut.com

    The inset photo of David Bertnagel was taken by the New Britain Herald/Bristol Press. The photo of the house is an NBC Connecticut photo.The inset photo of David Bertnagel was taken by the New Britain Herald/Bristol Press. The photo of the house is an NBC Connecticut photo.

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    State government officials went to Hammonasset Beach State Park this afternoon with shovels, not for the sand but for a major groundbreaking.

    Two projects are under way at the beach in Madison using state government funds. The larger project – building new facilities at West Beach on higher ground, safe from flood tides – is costing $8 million.

    The other project is the $3.5 million Meigs Point Nature Center, big enough to host 100,000 visitors per year. The Friends of Hammonasset organization has raised money for the exhibits, including a $100,000 touch tank.

    "When you walk into the touch tank room, it's going to be like you're going underwater into Long Island Sound," said Russ Miller, known as Ranger Russ at the current Meigs Point Nature Center. "There's going to be a boat suspended over your head and fish tanks all around you."

    Gov. Dannel Malloy called for continued reinvestment in the state parks, "these great properties that we have either set aside or our forebears have set aside."
     



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    Brush fires have kept firefighters busy around the state Friday.

    Taftville

    Firefighters in the Taftville section of Norwich battled a large fire behind the property at 101 Merchants Avenue around 11 a.m. and said a discarded cigarette was likely the cause.

    Fire officials said steady wind fanned the flames, which consumed dry leaves and brush and crept toward a home on Sheas Lane. Crews managed to keep the fire from spreading to a large pile of brush and two sheds near 100 Merchants Avenue.

    Firefighters doused the flames with 1,000 gallons of water to prevent the area from reigniting, according to the fire department.

    Stafford

    Four fire companies were sent to the scene of a brush fire off Gulf Road in Stafford shortly after 5 p.m. Emergency dispatchers said crews from Stafford, Crystal Lake, Somers and Staffordville responded and are still working to put out the fire.

    Farmington

    Firefighters in Farmington were called to a brush fire along Route 6 around 5 p.m. The Farmington Fire Department dispatched two engines and a ladder truck, while the East Farms Volunteer Fire Department sent out one engine, Farmington fire officials posted on the department Facebook page.



    Photo Credit: Taftville Fire Co. 2

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    Two men from Orange County, California, arrested Thursday allegedly hoped to help or join the Islamic State, a terrorist group, according to Department of Justice officials.

    Anaheim residents Muhanad Badawi and Nader Elhuzayel, both 24, were charged Friday in U.S. District Court of Central California with conspiring to support ISIS. The pair arranged for one of the men to fly to Turkey so he could join ISIS, according to a Dept. of Justice news release.

    Badawi and Elhuzayel were arrested by a joint terrorism task force that included FBI agents Thursday night; Elhuzayel was taken into custody at Los Angeles International Airport while Badawi was arrested at an inn in Anaheim.

    Elhuzayel allegedly admitted to FBI agents after he was arrested and read his Miranda rights that he planned to join ISIS after flying to Turkey, according to an affidavit filed in court. The ticket was allegedly purchased with Badawi's credit card, and both spoke of supporting ISIS online, according to the affidavit.

    While the men awaited a court appeareance Friday, Elhuzayel's parents said he was not a terrorist.

    "I don't believe my son is like that," said his mother, Falak Elhuzayel. "I know my son is a good kid."

    His parents told NBC4 that they dropped Elhuzayel off at LAX's Tom Bradley International Terminal Thursday afternoon on a flight to Israel. Falak Elhuzayel said it was a one-way ticket, but that he only planned to visit family for the summer.

    However, the affidavit said that Elhuzayel planned to "pledge allegiance to (ISIS), and defend (ISIS) against attackers" after getting off the Tel Aviv-bound plane at its layover in Turkey, the affidavit said.

    Refresh this page for updates on this story.



    Photo Credit: Family photo provided to NBC4

    Nader Elhuzayel, one of two Orange County men charged Friday, May 22, in federal court with conspiring to support ISIS, seen in an undated photo.Nader Elhuzayel, one of two Orange County men charged Friday, May 22, in federal court with conspiring to support ISIS, seen in an undated photo.

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    Nineteen people from 16 countries and 17 Connecticut towns were sworn in as American citizens alongside the Nautilus Submarine at Navy Base New London Friday morning.

    Many of them had ties to the military. Aivi Randes, who was born in Estonia, has a husband in the U.S. Coast Guard. The couple live in Glastonbury with their daughter.

    "I think for us it means – my husband is a U.S. citizen, my daughter is a U.S. citizen – we are all almost under the same umbrella," Randes said.

    The new citizens took an oath and received official paperwork recognizing them as naturalized American citizens during Friday's ceremony, which took place along the Thames River.

    According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 654,949 people were naturalized last year and 777,416 the year before.

    Congressman Joe Courtney, whose district includes eastern Connecticut, said it means a lot to be able to honor those in the military and their families with citizenship.

    "To see them double down on that with them becoming full citizens, you know, again, it’s just a great reminder of what a special country we have," Courtney said.

    Marine Aizar Bula was born in Panama and raised in Miami, Florida. After he graduated from high school, he immediately entered the Marine Corp. Bula said he only started the citizenship process several months ago.

    Having served a tour of duty in Afghanistan, Bula didn't realize how special the day he gained citizenship would be for him.

    "Pretty big." Bula said, "It didn’t feel like it as the day was approaching, but today makes a difference. It’s definitely an accomplishment and I feel like for everybody else who became a citizen here today, it’s the same kinds of feelings.”


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    A military plane has gone off the runway at Naval Air Station North Island into the San Diego Bay, officials confirmed Friday.

    A Navy pilot, flying in a T-45C aircraft, overshot the runway while landing during a training exercise at 2 p.m. (5 p.m. ET) a Navy spokesman said.

    The pilot was able to eject from the aircraft before it ran into the water. According to Harbor Police, a civilian boater pulled the crew member out of the water.

    After being evaluated at UC San Diego Medical Center, the pilot was released and is in stable condition, Navy officials said. When a pilot ejects from a plane, Lt. Reagan Lauritzen told NBC 7 that he or she must have more thorough medical evaluations than a standard checkup.

    According to Naval Air Forces, the pilot was training to undergo aircraft carrier landing qualifications before the crash.

    The T-45C plane, assigned to Training Squadron 9 in Mississippi, is a two-seat jet used specifically for Navy training. The $17 million aircraft is made by Boeing and BAE Systems, according to a Naval technology website.

    The incident happened off the Coronado base's runway 29, near downtown San Diego. The aircraft is still floating in shallow water against a sea wall, and while most of it appears intact, the canopy did fly off.

    The crash grabbed witness Sean Brady's attention when he heard a large boom.

    "So we came around the corner and looked outside and I saw a parachute landing in the water," he said.

    His first thoughts went to the pilot. "It was good to see the parachute, and you're just hoping he's OK," said Brady.

    The Naval Air Forces said a safety investigation has been launched to find out why the pilot went off the runway. They are using a crane to try to pull the plane from the water.

    In 2004, the base experienced a similar crash when an F-18 flew into the water in the same area.


    A US Navy aircraft sits in shallow water in San Diego Bay after over shooting a runway at the North Island Naval Station Friday, May 22, 2015 in San Diego. The pilot ejected and was reportedly picked up by a civilian craft.A US Navy aircraft sits in shallow water in San Diego Bay after over shooting a runway at the North Island Naval Station Friday, May 22, 2015 in San Diego. The pilot ejected and was reportedly picked up by a civilian craft.

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    Late Thursday and early into Friday the Connecticut Senate debated and eventually passed a measure that would increase workers' compensation for cancer diagnoses and post-traumatic stress disorder for first responders.

    "What it will do is allow people to go out and feel inspired as police officers, going out into the field and facing the things that we do and seeing the things we do," said Connecticut State Police Union President Andy Matthews.

    The measure received bipartisan support. If the House approves the bill and the governor signs it, professional firefighters with five years of service will be covered. Volunteers will need 15 years of service and certification to fight interior fires.

    For police, the victory is in the form of coverage for post-traumatic stress disorder. It came within hours of a state labor board siding with a Newtown officer who suffered mental anguish during the Sandy Hook school shooting. He'll be more than $380,000 until he reaches retirement age, at which time he will collect on his pension.

    Cities and towns argue they were shut out from negotiations on the bill, which they say could cost taxpayers and town budgets millions of dollars due to abuse and waste.

    "Think about all of the detectives who go to crime scenes and say, 'Well, you know what, I was very upset with that,'" said South Windsor Town Manager Matthew Galligan, who serves as the current President of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.

    Galligan says the new coverage amounts to an unfunded mandate that puts firefighters and police on a different benefit scale.

    "We have veterans come home from Iraq, Afghanistan and Iraq, who are coming home with real, serious issues, we’re doing nothing for them, they’re out there in the streets, with no helping hand, and now because somebody walks into a crime scene, we’re going to pay through the nose for the rest of our lives," he said during an interview Friday.

    Police unions in Connecticut are thrilled with the passage by the Senate.

    They argue that coverage for PTSD, which they say amounts to mental health improvements, will only make the police force stronger and is good for the communities they serve.

    “Wouldn’t the towns want their police officers to be mentally healthy carrying a gun and a badge, being able to respond to a critical incident where they may have to save someone’s life or their own?" said Matthews with the State Police Union. "There’s no price tag for that, right?"

    Matthews says any talk of abuse is meant as a scare tactic aimed at killing the bill.

    "Not every bad scene we go up to will we put in for a workman’s comp benefit for post traumatic stress. Everybody handles it differently," he said.

    Galligan says he's uncertain as to how the Connecticut House will view the legislation. His fear is that the organized labor groups who pushed the bill in the Senate will have similar success, which may lead to millions in payouts for firefighters and police.

    “We understand government and what it takes to care for people and firefighters and what they do," Galligan said. "[Firefighters] go to the state legislature with these people who are backed by the unions and they know they are going to be able to not negotiate with us and get their negotiations done."


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    Police on Long Island say their hate crimes unit is investigating an anonymous note sent to a black resident asking her and her family to leave the town, which the letter said is "84 percent white."

    "ATTN: AFRICAN-AMERICAN FAMILY," the all-caps note read. "THIS IS COMING FROM LINDENHURST COMMUNITY."

    "YOU DON'T BELONG HERE," the letter continued. "PLEASE LEAVE LINDENHURST AS SOON AS YOU CAN. IT WILL BE BETTER FOR ALL OF US."

    The letter urged the woman to find a town "WHERE THERE ARE MORE PEOPLE LIKE YOU," and ended with, "SORRY IF THIS IS RUDE, BUT IT'S THE TRUTH."

    Darcell Copes lives in the home with her three grown children and five young grandchildren. 

    "I went from being fearful, protecting my family, to being totally confused, and wanted to know who and why," she told NBC 4 New York Friday. "Today, it becomes even deeper: is it someone in the school district, is it the guy at the corner store, is it my neighbor down the street? Where?" 

    Daughter Ronica Copes uploaded a photo of the menacing, hateful letter to Facebook, and the image has since been shared more than 1,500 times. Dozens of Facebook commenters expressed outrage about the letter, postmarked May 19.

    "Sooooo, I'm checking my mail and when I come across this I can't help but laugh... wait, it's not funny though," Ronica Copes wrote on her Facebook page. "Where they do that at? Oh yeah Lindenhurst. Unbelievable but then it's not ... our daily reality, I've just never seen it in this form."

    The Copes said they've been receiving support from the community. The family has lived in the home for two years and say they hadn't experienced overt racism in the past since moving there -- but the letter is proof that alive and well in 2015, and they're not shocked. 

    Babylon Town and Lindenhurst Village condemned the letter for its "racist hateful views" in a joint statement obtained by Lindenhurst Patch Friday.

    “The best way to fight bias is with solidarity and we stand with all of our residents in declaring that there is no place for this type of intolerance and hatred in the Village of Lindenhurst, the Town of Babylon, or anywhere in our community,” the statement said, according to Path. “We are, and always will be, a strong diverse community that does not cede ground to hostility, ignorance, or hatred, wherever it may appear.” 

    Darcell Copes called the letter writer a "coward" but will pray for the person, she said. The family won't be intimidated and plan on staying, she added



    Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York/Ronica Copes

    Police are investigating the letter (inset right).Police are investigating the letter (inset right).

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    A Chicago police officer seen in a viral video apparently sleeping inside a squad car was suspended for five days without pay, a department spokesperson confirmed.

    "This incident is unacceptable and not in keeping with the high expectations placed on our officers by this department and the residents of Chicago," the department said in a statement to NBC Chicago.

    The penalty was handed down after the officer in seen in the video came forward, the department said. 

    The video was posted online last week after being recorded at an intersection on the city's Southwest Side. A man narrating in the footage claims a number of shootings have happened in the area, and suggests a parked squad car is there to patrol.

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel reacted to the video on Wednesday and implored the media and the public to keep the incident in context with the other positive things the city's public servants do.

    "The video, I think, is there for all to see and make a judgment," he said after a meeting of the Chicago City Council. "You have to look at what the men and women in uniform throughout the city do all day," he said. "There are a lot of videos of officers, and a lot of them do exactly what you’d want them to do, both on duty and off duty, consistent with the responsibilities of being a police officer, which means we put a lot of trust in you."


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    A 31-year-old woman was indicted Friday on murder and robbery charges in the death of a 28-year-old man found bloodied and unconscious under a mattress at a midtown Manhattan hotel blocks from the Empire State Building earlier this week, according to court documents and authorities.

    Christine O'Brien had been with victim Roderick Goodwin, of Bridgeton, New Jersey, in his hotel room at the Hilton Garden Inn early Monday before going down to the lobby and bringing five people -- four men and another woman -- up to Goodwin's hotel room with the intent to rob him, a criminal complaint alleges.

    Surveillance video shows O'Brien, the four men and other woman, getting onto an elevator from the lobby around 3:30 a.m., then leaving the hotel sometime later, the complaint says. Two of the men were seen walking down the stairs carrying a large object hidden in a sheet, which is believed to have been a hotel safe stolen from Goodwin's room at the 298-room hotel near Herald Square.

    According to court documents, hotel security alerted police after getting a number of complaints around 3:45 a.m. about noise and yelling coming from Goodwin's room. Officers responding to a 911 call found him face down on the floor under the mattress, authorities have said. Blood and broken glass littered the floor of the room, the criminal complaint said. Goodwin was pronounced dead at a hospital. The medical examiner ruled he died of blunt force trauma and asphyxiation,

    According to the criminal complaint, one of the men O'Brien allegedly brought up to Goodwin's room smashed him in the head with a bottle, causing some of the traumatic injuries detectives observed. All five suspects then proceeded to beat up Goodwin, kicking and punching him while they repeatedly demanded he give them the combination of the hotel room safe, the complaint said.

    O'Brien allegedly told investigators she hit Goodwin in the torso. At one point during the beating, when Goodwin said something that sounded like a number, O'Brien allegedly told investigators she went to the room safe and tried to open it using the number she heard. It didn't work.

    Ultimately, O'Brien and the other four suspects left the room together and pulled the safe off the wall so they could take it with them, the criminal complaint says. It wasn't clear what might have been in the safe, and there was no word on the whereabouts of the group O'Brien allegedly involved.

    O'Brien was remanded to jail after arraignment Wednesday. She was not in court when the grand jury indictment was announced Friday and is due back in court next month.

    Daniel Scott, an attorney for O'Brien, said the criminal complaint has some inaccuracies.

    "What they claim she said she did is not true," Scott said. "You have very persuasive detectives putting words in people's mouths."

    Scott said detectives obtained the information after a lengthy interrogation that lasted "many hours." He said he met with his client after the indictment was handed down Friday, and that she's doing OK, given the circumstances. Scott said he and his client were looking forward to litigating the case.

    The Hilton Garden Inn did not return AP calls earlier this week seeking comment on the murder.  



    Photo Credit: AP

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    Two former Wesleyan University students, one from Maryland and the other from Brazil, have been arrested on federal charges in a spate of overdoses on what they believed was "Molly" earlier this year, federal prosecutors said on Friday.

    The drug actually contained  "Spice" or "K2," U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daly announced during a news conference on Friday morning and Zachary Kramer, 21, of Bethesda, Maryland, and Eric Lonergan, 22, of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, are due in court in New Haven to answer to several drug charges.

    Eleven people, including 10 Wesleyan students became ill, and some were hospitalized one weekend in late February after taking a drug that was presented as Molly, a popular name for the euphoria-inducing stimulant MDMA. Two of the students were in critical condition, including one who had to be revived when his heart stopped beating.

    Each of the students obtained what they thought was "Molly" from people who got it from Kramer, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. 

    On Friday morning, federal officials said this was not the first time the students became sick after buying synthetic drugs. The symptoms reported were similar to symptom students reported in September after taking drugs from the students, officials said.

    After the February overdoses, one student presented Middletown police with a capsule she had bought from Lonergan in September. Test results showed it did not contain "Molly" and instead contained "Spice" or "K2," according to Daly.

    "Our hope is that this prosecution puts to bed the misperception that synthetic drugs are harmless party drugs," Daly said in a statement Friday. "As the allegations in this indictment clearly show, these drugs are highly dangerous. Many of the Wesleyan students who overdosed were seriously ill and one student nearly died. The growth and evolution of synthetic drugs is a serious public health concern."

    Lonergan and Kramer are accused of distributing the controlled substances that caused the overdoses.

    "Wesleyan remains deeply concerned about the events that occurred this past February as well as the broader problem of drug abuse. All of the students arrested in the February incident were promptly expelled from the University," a spokesperson for Wesleyan said in a statement Friday. "The University has fully and comprehensively cooperated with local, State and Federal authorities at each step of their investigation and it will continue to do so."

    In November 2013, Lonergan started buying Molly and selling it to students from his dorm for around $200 per gram between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. most evenings, and counseling students on how to use it, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

    Officials started receiving calls for medical help from the Butterfield and Foss Hill dorms, as well as 200 High Street at 7:30 a.m., 8:21 a.m., 12:26 p.m., 1:21 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 22, according to Middletown Fire Battalion Chief David Anderson said.

    After school administrators sent out a campus-wide communication warning of the dangers of ingesting controlled substances like Molly, Lonergan responded by distributing a pamphlet instructing students on the use of psychedelic drugs, federal officials said. 

    Kramer is accused of beginning to buy Molly from Lonergan and selling it to students at Wesleyan in 2014.

    In early 2015, Kramer took over for Lonergan as the primary supplier of what he claimed to be "Molly," a Wesleyan and sold it to friends to sell, Daly said.

    Several students were transported to Middlesex Hospital. LifeStar then transported two students to Hartford Hospital and an ambulance transported two more, according to police. Two of the four students were listed in critical condition, and two others were listed in serious condition.

    Lonergan and Kramer, along with three other Wesleyan students, were arrested earlier this year on local charges in connection with the case.

    Kramer and Lonergan have been charged with conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute MDMA and AB Fubinaca. They are also charged with attempting to distribute MDMA and distributing AB Fubinaca, as well as distributing MDMA near a private college.

    Both appeared in court Friday. Lonergan was held on $250,000 cash bond and is inn custody at his mother's house in Washington, D.C.

    Kramer's bond was set at $250,000. He's in custody at his parents' house in Maryland and has been ordered to have no contact with the victims, witnesses or other defendants in the case.

    Lonergan and Kramer are due back in federal court in Hartford the morning of July 7.


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    The Connecticut State Police Central District Major Crime Squad is investigating the actions of a New London police officer after an audit revealed inconsistencies in the department's evidence room, according to state police spokesman Sgt. Shane Hassett.

    Hassett said the office of the New London state's attorney is also investigating. He declined to elaborate on the case, citing an "active and ongoing investigation."

    The New London Police Department directed all questions to state police.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    Stunning cockpit video has been released showing the emergency landing of a World War II-era plane during a historic flyover above D.C. earlier this month.

    On May 8, the 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day, the planes flew in formations to represent the major battles of WWII -- but about 30 minutes into the flyover, a Curtiss Helldiver was forced to make an emergency landing at Ronald Reagan National Airport because of mechanical problems.

    This week, a YouTube video was posted showing the heart-stopping moments after smoke appears to waft into the cockpit, growing steadily thicker.

    "Are we on fire?" a passenger shouts from the back seat as they fly over the Lincoln Memorial. The pilot quickly assesses the situtation and radios for an emergency landing.

    Then, moments later, he radios, "We're landing at Reagan. We're on fire."

    Information on an available runway quickly comes over the radio as the plane descends, flying low over the Potomac River.

    By that point, the pilot believed his passenger was unconscious, according to text superimposed on the video. "Gut wrenching," he said.

    In actuality, the passenger had simply removed his headset to look for what they believed to be a fire. 

    The plane was on the ground just a minute after the smoky substance was first spotted.

    "It was an overwhelming sense of relief to see [the passenger] was conscious," the pilot wrote.

    The pilot and his passenger later learned fire wasn't to blame. Instead, a pinhole hydraulic leak had vaporized in the cockpit, appearing like smoke.

    "It moved and acted like smoke, [and] combined with fluid heat on the legs of my passenger, it was mistaken for fire," the pilot wrote on the video's YouTube page.

    The pilot said they had trained on what to do in case of an emergency during the flyover, and Reagan National Airport officials had been cautioned that they were the alternate airport in case of a problem.

    The Curtiss Helldiver was taken off the runway quickly, was repaired and flew out later that afternoon, causing no delays at Reagan.

    But the pilot said there was a bigger message behind what happened: "This event, especially on this day, gave a somber reminder to all those who didn't have a runway conveniently aligned," he wrote. "To those who were hundreds of miles away from the nearest carrier, in enemy waters. To those who made the ultimate sacrifice. We remember."


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