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Connecticut Athletes Head to CrossFit Games In California


The quest of the CrossFit Games is to find the “Fittest On Earth” and athletes from around the world will compete in Carson, California starting on Tuesday.

The elite field of contenders was narrowed down from more than a quarter million athletes to just dozens.

To make it to the competition in Carson, individual athletes had to first qualify and rank among the top of the worldwide Open competition, then finish among the top five in their respective regional competition.

This year, the East Regional competition – including athletes from the Northeast U.S. and Eastern Canada – was moved from the Reebok world headquarters outside Boston to the XL Center in Hartford and CrossFit Milford was the only Connecticut team to make the cut to the games in the team division.

Coach and owner Jason Leydon said the home field advantage helped boost morale among his athletes.

“To turn around and see that energy and to see them all go nuts, it just pushed everybody even more,” Leydon said.

Milford is also sending four athletes in the masters division for athletes who are over 40 years old.

One of them is Elizabeth Warren, a New Haven teacher and mother of three who discovered CrossFit after a knee injury sidelined her from marathon training. It gave her a new arena to compete, and, she said, a healthy example to set for her kids.

“I walked in the gas station the other day and some guy said, ‘Oh, you’re in pretty good shape’ and my daughter said, ‘That’s my mom! That’s my mom,’” Warren said. “She’s proud of being strong. I teach her all the time the importance of being a strong girl and a strong woman.”

And rather than dreading getting older, Warren says CrossFit gave her a reason to embrace it.

“Oh yeah I was waiting, I couldn’t wait to turn 40 ‘cause I knew this is what I wanted to do,” she said. “This was my plan. ‘When I turn 40, I’m going to try out for the Masters. When I make it, I want to go to the Games.’”

Warren and the other CrossFit Milford athletes have been training year-round for an event that’s largely a mystery – the CrossFit Games workouts typically aren’t revealed until right beforehand, meaning athletes need to be prepared for anything.

“That’s the essence of CrossFit -- being ready for everything and anything,” Leydon said.

Events could include Olympic lifting, running, gymnastics, swimming, calisthenics or more.

It’s up to CrossFit Games director Dave Castro to decide and to eventually reveal in the dramatic workout announcements. But as NBC Connecticut’s Heidi Voight learned at the East Regional, he doesn’t give away his secrets easily. She asked Castro for a hint at what was in store for the Games. His answer?

Simply… “CrossFit.”

The CrossFit Games are broadcast on ESPN beginning Tuesday, July 21 through Sunday, July 26. Follow the leaderboard at http://games.crossfit.com/leaderboard.

Hillary Clinton Declares 'Black Lives Matter' in Facebook Chat


Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said Monday that black people in America continue to face racism in their daily lives, using the popular slogan of the Black Lives Matter movement in a question-and-answer session on Facebook.

Calling racial inequality a "hard truth," Clinton suggested several ways to address inequality in a post that began "Black lives matter," though she didn't endorse the movement outright.

"Black lives matter. Everyone in this country should stand firmly behind that," Clinton wrote in the Facebook chat.

She said so after being asked by a Washington Post reporter what she would have said to Black Lives Matter protesters who interrupted two of her rivals for the Democratic nomination at a conference over the weekend.

Former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley was booed for initially replying "Black lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter," and he later apologized.

Clinton supports all U.S. police departments receiving body cameras and providing low-level offenders alternative options to incarceration, she said in her post.

During the Facbeook chat, Clinton also said that, as president, she will push for a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants and prosecute Wall Street financial firms and individuals who work there "when they commit fraud or other criminal wrongdoing - because no one is 'too big to jail.'"

Clinton answered a few questions on the lighter side, too. Asked what her favorite pantsuit is to wear – she's become associated with the businesswear – Clinton wrote: "I never met a pantsuit I didn't love."

And how does the former secretary of state, senator and first lady feel about being a grandmother? "IT'S THE BEST THING EVER!" she said.

Photo Credit: necn

Man Punches Bouncer Outside Middletown Restaurant: Cops


A Middletown man is facing charges after getting into a fight with a bouncer outside Mezzo Grille on Saturday, then struggling with officers who tried to arrest him, according to police.

Police said officers in the area spotted Rashaun Watson, 26, fighting with a group of people in the alleyway between Mezzo Grille at 106 Court Street and 90 Court Street in Middletown early Saturday.

Officers watched as Watson swung at a Mezzo staff member, who said Watson had previously punched him. Watson ignored an officer who told him to stop fighting, according to police.

When police tried to break up the fight, Watson slapped an officer's hand away and tried to pull away. Police said one of the officers pepper sprayed Watson in order to handcuff him.

After his arrest, Watson allegedly told police he had been dancing on a stage at Mezzo when a bouncer asked him to get down, then "cold clocked" him on the head and punched him "five or six times for no reason."

"I went over to him later and punched him in the face, because, of course, I'm going to defend myself," Watson said, according to the police report. He added that he goes to Mezzo every Friday and "I never cause any problems."

Watson was arrested and charged with second-degree breach of peace and interfering with an officer. It's not clear if he has an attorney.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Thieves Disable Dayville Pizza Place Alarm, Steal Cash: Cops


Police are searching for two men who broke into a pizza restaurant in Dayville overnight Saturday and stole cash from the registers and safes.

The burglars forced their way into 4 G's Pizza at 305 Hartford Turnpike in Dayville after the restaurant closed Saturday, according to state police. Surveillance footage shows the men cutting the wire to the building's alarm system.

They broke into the store's cash registers and safes and stole an undisclosed amount of cash, police said.

One of the perpetrators is short and slim and was wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt, according to police. The other is taller and "huskier" and was wearing a light-colored hooded sweatshirt. Police said both were carrying backpacks and wearing gloves.

Police are asking anyone with information or who noticed anything suspicious to call Det. William Utermarck of Troop D at 860-779-4900. Calls will remain confidential.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

Ex-West Haven Animal Control Officer Stole Donations: Cops


A former West Haven animal control officer has been arrested, accused of stealing donations meant to cover medical care for animals at the shelter, according to police.

James Vitelli, 46, of Northford, was a founding member and treasurer of the nonprofit organization Wags & Whiskers, which collects funds by redeeming bottles and cans that the public donated to the Collis Street Shelter, then using the cash to pay for veterinary care, police said.

Vitelli is accused of redeeming cans and bottles that members of the public donated to the shelter and pocketing the money. Police said Vitelli is also accused of damaging a storage area where the redeemable items were kept.

Hi arrest came after a months-long investigation launched in January. Police said Vitelli had been employed as an animal control officer since 1997.

Ian Robertson, president of Wags & Whiskers, called Vitelli's arrest "an unfortunate event."

"Mr. Vitelli resigned as treasurer of Wags & Whiskers, but up until the end of 2015 he was an active member who was entrusted [to] redeem bottles and cans for the organization," Robertson said in a statement Monday evening.

"Once the investigation of Mr. Vitelli was underway, Wags & Whiskers put other resources in place to make sure the money is accounted for and is put to good use for its original intention of helping support the West Haven Animal Shelter," Robertson added.

He was arrested and charged with second-degree larceny and third-degree criminal mischief. He is no longer employed by the city of West Haven, according to police.

It's not clear if Vitelli has an attorney.

Photo Credit: West Haven Police Department

Masked Men Break Into Hamden Home, Hold Residents at Gunpoint


Police are searching for two masked men who broke into a Hamden home Friday night, held the residents at gunpoint and stole valuables, including jewelry and electronics.

The men forced through a side door of a home on Newcastle Drive in Hamden around 8:30 p.m. July 17, according to police. Clad in dark-colored sweatshirts, masks and gloves, they held the residents at gunpoint and threatened to shoot them if they didn't cooperate.

Meanwhile, the criminals rifled through the home and stole electronic equipment, jewelry, sneakers and money, according to police. The residents were uninjured.

A police K-9 tried unsuccessfully to track the perpetrators. Police are asking anyone with information to call Major Crimes Det. William Onofrio at 203-230-4040.

Flags to Be Lowered to Honor Chattanooga Shooting Victims


U.S. and State of Connecticut flags will be flown at half-staff in the state to honor the four United States Marines and a United States Navy officer who were killed in shootings at two military sites in Chattanooga, Tennessee last week.

Gov. Dannel Malloy issued an order on Monday for the flags to be lowered.

“Connecticut and the nation stands with the people of Tennessee and the many communities that have been devastated by this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims as they are laid to rest – and with the states across the nation who are mourning the loss of their citizens,” Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman said in a statement.

Flags will remain at half-staff through sunset on Tuesday, July 21.

Lance Cpl. Squire K. Wells, of Cobb, Georgia; Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, of Hampden, Massachusetts; Sgt. Carson Holmquist, of Polk, Wisconsin; and Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, of Burke, North Carolina; were killed in the shootings on Thursday. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith, 26, succumbed to injuries on Saturday.

New York Man Caused $20K in Damage to Hamden Home: Cops


A New York man is facing charges out of Hamden after slashing tires and spray-painting a home on Mill Rock Road, causing more than $20,000 worth of damage, according to police.

Police said Thomas Folan, 54, of Pittsford, New York, targeted the same home on six occasions from April through September of last year.

He slashed tires of cars parked outside the home twice in April and once in May, then splattered paint across the exterior of the home in May, July and September, according to police.

Authorities said Folan covered the outside walls of the house with several colors of paint and also smeared across a detached garage and patio on the property.

The damage cost more than $20,000 altogether.

Folan was arrested Monday in Queens, New York.

Hamden officers brought him back to Connecticut, where Foley was charged with first-degree criminal trespass, first-degree criminal mischief and second-degree stalking.

He was held on $100,000 bond and is due in court Aug. 7.

It’s not clear if Foley has an attorney.

Photo Credit: Hamden Police Department

Young Driver in Serious Hit-and-Run Turns Self In


New Haven police plan to charge the 16-year-old driver involved in a hit-and-run that sent another teen to the hospital in critical condition over the weekend.

Police said the 17-year-old victim was crossing Whalley Avenue near Ella T. Grasso Boulevard around 10 p.m. Saturday when he was struck by a white Mitsubishi Eclipse with tinted windows and a rear spoiler. Witnesses told police the teen was not using a crosswalk.

The Mitsubishi drove off and the injured teen, who lives in Bridgeport, was rushed to Yale-New Haven Hospital. Police said Monday the victim remains in critical condition.

The driver, a 16-year-old boy, turned himself in Sunday afternoon. Charges have not yet been filed, but police said earlier the driver would likely face felony charges in connection with the crash.

Police continue to investigate and said charges against the driver are pending.

Police have not identified the driver or victim by name.

McCain: Donald Trump Should Apologize to Military Families


Sen. John McCain said Monday Donald Trump doesn’t owe him an apology but that he should apologize to veterans for his comments about soldiers captured in war.

Asked on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" if Trump owes him an apology, McCain said: "No, I don't think so. But I think he may owe an apology to the families of those who have sacrificed in conflict and those who have undergone the prison experience in serving their country."

McCain said Trump's remarks were "totally inappropriate."

"To denigrate their service is offensive to most of our veterans," McCain said. "The best thing to do is put it behind us and move forward."

Trump drew condemnation from his rivals and senior officials in the Republican party for saying on Saturday that McCain, who was held as a prisoner of war for more than five years during the Vietnam War and refused early release, was not "a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured." 

Trump later acknowledged that McCain's sacrifice was heroic. 

In a statement Saturday, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee said: "Senator McCain is an American hero because he served his country and sacrificed more than most can imagine. Period. There is no place in our party or our country for comments that disparage those who have served honorably."

Other Republicans who are running for president pounced on the comments. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush called Trump's words "slanderous," and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told NBC News that Trump "needs to apologize." Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry has called on Trump to drop out of the presidential race.

On Monday, Trump blasted the media for distorting his remarks and sparred with Matt Lauer on NBC's "Today" show, acknowledging that McCain is a war hero. But he did not apologize.

"I'm not a fan of John McCain," Trump said via phone. "He's done a horrible job for the vets."

He insisted that in addition to blasting McCain's military record he did say during the talk he gave at the Family Leadership Summit over the weekend that McCain was a war hero.

"If you saw what I said and you saw the press conference afterwards...the media just has done such a false number as usual,'' Trump said. "I said it at the news conference. I said it on the stage. The next sentence was, 'He is a war hero.' I said that, but they never want to play it, and you don't want to play it. If you would've let it run just another three seconds, you would've said that I said very clearly, he is a war hero."

Trump went on to say Monday, "I do also respect greatly people that aren’t captured. Nobody talks about them. We talk about John McCain and he is a brave man, but we don’t talk about people that weren’t captured and that’s what I was trying to refer to.”

Photo Credit: AP

Storms Cause Damage in Eastern Connecticut


Thunderstorms brought heavy rain and lightning to eastern Connecticut Monday afternoon amid the summer's first blast of sustained heat and humidity.

Weather spotters have reported storm damage at Hicksville, Gregory and Babcock Hill roads in Lebanon, along with trees and wires down on Hanover Road and Lenox Avenue in Jewett City. NBC Connecticut has also received unconfirmed reports of trees and wires down in Baltic and Griswold.

Eversource reported several power outages in the area, and Norwich Public Utilities reported an outage on Taftville Occum Road in Norwich.

A severe thunderstorm warning issued for New London County expired around 4 p.m.

The heat and humidity will stick around for tomorrow, though it won’t feel as hot with decreasing humidity levels. Temperatures will again be near 90 degrees, and a third straight day of 90-degree weather means a heat wave is in the forecast. It would be the first official heat wave of the year.

A more substantial cold front passes through around dinnertime. With it could come a shower or thunderstorm in northwest Connecticut tomorrow evening.

High temperatures are bringing about an elevated ozone level that could create "unhealthy" breathing conditions for those with respiratory conditions.

Some cities and towns are opening cooling centers in response to the extreme heat. Check to see if cooling centers are open near you.

Sunday’s high temperature reading was a toasty 92 degrees at the airport, where official climate observations are recorded.

Wednesday starts a long stretch of pleasant weather for July standards. Temperatures each day through the rest of the week will be in the lower- and mid-80s.

Dew point values will also remain below 60 degrees from Wednesday through Saturday, meaning it will be comfortable.

A ridge of high pressure will be behind the late-week delight. If the pieces fall into place just right, it might remain positioned over the region through the upcoming weekend.

Send photos of severe weather to shareit@nbcconnecticut.com.

Stay with the NBC Connecticut First Alert weather team for the very latest forecast on-air, online and on the app.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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Police Investigate Accidental Shooting in Manchester


Police are investigating after a 21-year-old man was accidentally shot in the arm in Manchester on Monday evening.

Manchester police said it happened around 5:30 p.m. at 64 West Street. The victim was taken to Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

Police are investigating the shooting and said it appears to have been accidental.

New Drivers Seeing Months-Long Wait for Licenses


People who take driver's education courses have to wait months for a shot a formal state test to get a driver's license, according to driver's education instructors who have experienced the backlog first hand over the past few weeks.

"In 2013, 2014, it was a two-to-four week waiting period from the time you called to make an appointment from the time you actually went to actually get your license," said Brandon DuFour, owner of the All Start Driving School. "So we’re seeing a two-to-three time longer wait period today."

He believes it has to do with the now-active Driver Only License program started this year. It allows Connecticut residents living in the state illegally to obtain a legal driver's-only license that does not provide them any level of recognition or citizenship other than the ability to operate a motor vehicle.

"We think that it’s wrong that a 16-year-old kid has to wait 13 or 14 weeks to get a driver's license," DuFour said. "It’s something that means freedom and responsibility and now they’re held back and it’s out of their control."

Some of the controversy stems from a letter sent to driving instructors around the state telling them to stop blaming long waits on the new program for undocumented residents.

Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Andres Ayala released a statement clarifying, calling the previous communication "incorrect" and saying the state has taken "steps to reallocate resources and re-balance the drive-only appointment slots."

DuFour said the entire mess is a product of the poor planning and preparation that went into the drive-only program.

"I think they knew the interest and they just didn’t know how to handle it," DuFour said.

He added that he is ready to help the DMV get through the organizational and planning failures to help fix the problem. He said he hasn't been taken up on his offer.

"We made a lot of offers to have brainstorming sessions and to make this more efficient and run better and they rejected our help," DuFour said. "We’re trying together with them to solve this, but if they don’t work with us I don’t know what we can do."

Crying 3-Year-Old Found Wandering Hamden Street


Police and the state Department of Children and Families are investigating after a 3-year-old girl was found wandering through Hamden, crying for her mother over the weekend.

A resident found the child in the middle of Warner Street around 3:15 a.m. Saturday, according to police. The woman brought the toddler to her house and called the police department.

Officers identified the child's mother and knocked on her door. Police said she was not home and could not be found.

The child was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital for treatment, and police contacted DCF to investigate. The Hamden Police Department Special Victims Unit is also investigating.

Police said they have since located the child's mother but did not elaborate.

Tree Crashes Through Deck of Lebanon Home Amid Summer Storm


With heat and humidity bearing down on the state, powerful storms blew through eastern Connecticut on Monday, leaving damage in their wake.

Pauline Villardi came home to half her deck buried under tree limbs in Lebanon.

"It's crazy. The weather this year has been completely crazy," said Villardi. "What a mess. I could not believe the mess it had created. Half the deck is gone. The furniture on the deck was gone. It's just crashed right through it. Luckily nothing came through the house, so we felt lucky with that."

Villardi said her teenage son was home alone at the time and told her he heard tree limbs falling all around as he rushed outside to rescue their pets.

"My son called and said, 'Mom, it was over in 10 minutes,' so at that point I felt a little relief," said Villardi.

All across town, emergency crews blocked roads due to downed trees and wires. Neighbors said the storm came through fast and fierce.

"It's crazy, but that's New England. That's thunderstorms. That's pretty much expected on days like today that are hot and humid," said Lebanon resident Kristen Romans.

Many say they already know this weekend will center around picking up and repairing the damage Monday's storm left behind.

"My husband just said to us as we were sitting down to eat, 'Well, we know what we're doing this weekend: yard work!'" said Villardi.

Trump Takes Commanding Lead in New National Poll


A new poll released Monday finds Donald Trump taking a commanding lead nationally among the 16 Republican candidates vying for the GOP presidential nomination, but raises questions of whether the real-estate mogul's political campaign can survive his latest controversial comments.

According to the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, Trump is at the top of the crowded Republican field with 24 percent support among GOP voters, almost double that of his next-closest rival Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who captured 13 percent.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush currently stands a close third behind Walker with the support of 12 percent of polled Republican or Republican-leaning registered voters.

The survey, fielded from Thursday to Sunday, did show a considerable drop in support for Trump following disparaging comments the businessman made about McCain's time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

Trump held steady at 28 percent support during the first three days of polling before dropping into single-digit territory following those comments, according to ABC News.

“Although the sample size for the final day was small, the decline was statistically significant,” the Washington Post reported.

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie all received between 8 percent and 3 percent of Republican voters’ support.

Ranking within the Republican field is playing a significant roll in the 2016 race for the White House. Fox News Channel and CNN both announced that only the top 10 candidates, based on an average of the most recent national polls, will qualify for a spot behind a podium for each of the network’s first major GOP debates.

The poll of 1,002 adults was conducted with cell phone and landline respondents from July 16-19. It has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

Photo Credit: AP

Vigil Marks Third Anniversary of Aurora Shooting


A prayer vigil was held in Aurora, Colorado Monday night to mark the third anniversary of the movie theater shooting that took 12 lives and injured dozens of others.

Twelve crosses were lined along the street near Aurora's Century Theater in honor those killed. People came throughout the day to see the memorial and write notes on heart cards attached to the them.

James Holmes, 27, entered a movie theater at 12:15 a.m. on July 20, and opened fire upon a crowded showing of "The Dark Knight Rises." A jury last week convicted Holmes of the chilling attack on defenseless moviegoers at the midnight Batman premiere.

On Monday, attorneys began debating jury instructions for the death penalty phase of Holmes' trial.

Photo Credit: AP

Arsenal Found in Dead Man's Home


More than 1,200 guns and an estimated two tons of ammunition were discovered at the upscale Southern California home of a man who was found dead inside an SUV last week, according to police.

Officers received a report around 5 p.m. Friday about the discovery of the body in the 1700 block of Palisades Drive in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles Police Department officials said.

After learning that the man lived on the same street, detectives with the LAPD's elite Robbery-Homicide Division served a search warrant at the home and found a arsenal of handguns, shotguns, rifles and ammunition, police said.

A bomb squad searched the home for explosives and gave investigators the all-clear to seize the weapons.

"The boxes of ammunition were out behind the garage and they were just lots of them, piled at least 8-feet tall, and the pile just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger," said a neighbor, who did not want to be identified.

Police were trying to determine the origin of the guns and whether they were legally being kept at the home.

The neighbor said the man claimed to be affiliated with the CIA and the military.

The man's identity has not been released.

Bullet Pierces Headboard Above Sleeping Hotel Guest


Police are investigating after a spray of bullets struck a New Haven hotel early Sunday, one of them piercing the wall and lodging in a headboard above a sleeping guest.

It happened around 2:30 a.m. Sunday at the Premier Hotel and Suites on Long Wharf Drive. Police said a hotel security guard heard a group of men and women arguing, then gunfire rang out.

No one was hurt, but one of the bullets went through the hotel wall and narrowly missed the head of a sleeping guest.

A resident's car and a state Department of Children and Families van were also struck. Police said a bullet shattered the rear window of the DCF vehicle and left a hole in the windshield.

Witnesses told police they saw a group of three to five men running from the area, along with a small white car with several women inside.

Anyone with information should contact police.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Forecast Calls for First Heat Wave of 2015


Summer's first blast of sustained heat will stick around Tuesday, likely ushering in our first heat wave of the year.

Temperatures will again be near 90 degrees, and a third straight day of 90-degree weather means a heat wave is in the forecast. Humidity levels are decreasing, though, so it won't feel quite as hot.

A more substantial cold front passes through around dinnertime Tuesday. With it could come a shower or thunderstorm in northwest Connecticut tomorrow evening.

High temperatures are bringing about an elevated ozone level that could create "unhealthy" breathing conditions for those with respiratory conditions.

Some cities and towns are opening cooling centers in response to the extreme heat. Check to see if cooling centers are open near you.

Sunday’s high temperature reading was a toasty 92 degrees at the airport, where official climate observations are recorded. Temperatures reached 94 degrees in Hartford and Meriden on Monday, and humid conditions caused storms in eastern Connecticut.

Wednesday starts a long stretch of pleasant weather for July standards. Temperatures each day through the rest of the week will be in the lower- and mid-80s.

Dew point values will also remain below 60 degrees from Wednesday through Saturday, meaning it will be comfortable.

A ridge of high pressure will be behind the late-week delight. If the pieces fall into place just right, it might remain positioned over the region through the upcoming weekend.

Send photos of severe weather to shareit@nbcconnecticut.com.

Stay with the NBC Connecticut First Alert weather team for the very latest forecast on-air, online and on the app.

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