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MH370 Search: 3 Questions Experts Want Answered


Investigators in Toulouse, France, who are analyzing a fragment of a jetliner found on the shores of Reunion Island in hopes of solving the mystery of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, will try to determine three things. 

Jean Paul Troadec — former head of the Bureau of Investigation and Analysis, France's counterpart to the National Transportation Safety Board said investigators will seek to pin down the origin of the flaperon. Experts are in agreement that the debris came from a Boeing 777 — and MH370 is the only such missing jetliner in the world.

Troadec said investigators also will be studying the debris to figure out how it detached from its aircraft.

The plane vanished without a trace on March 8, 2014 — and the debris discovered on Reunion was covered in barnacles. The investigators would also be on the lookout for other organisms that could also provide clues, according to The Associated Press.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images

PHOTO: ’Triple Washed’ Spinach Had Dead Frog, Woman Claims


A woman claims she found a dead frog in a package of organic baby spinach she bought at a Southern California market over the weekend.

Donna Souza of Covina said she was making herself a salad for dinner when she noticed the frog's legs tucked between the leaves.

The spinach, packaged by Taylor Farms, was purchased at Sam's Club in Glendora, she said. The label on the package says the leaves are "triple washed & ready to enjoy."

A quality assurance director at Taylor Farms sent Souza a letter of apology.

Sam's Club did not immediately return a request for comment. Sam's Club managers told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune that there weren't other reports of frogs appearing in spinach packages.

"I can't eat salad anymore for fear a dead animal will be inside," Souza wrote on Facebook.

The Taylor Farms quality control director explained that a malfunctioning laser scanner may have allowed the frog to pass through its screening process, according to a letter written by Kari Valdés, director of Food Safety and Quality Assurance at Taylor Farms. Souza sent the letter to NBC Los Angeles.

The company is reviewing what went wrong in this instance, Valdés wrote. "I would like to personally extend my deepest apology for any inconvenience this may have caused."

Photo Credit: Donna Souza

Gas Main Struck in Wilton


A gas main was struck during a construction project near the intersection of Wolfpit and Horseshoe roads in Wilton and police are advising drivers to avoid the area.

The main was struck around 8:30 a.m. and has been shut down.

Police officers and firefighters are at the scene and traffic is being alternated in each direction while crews work to make repairs.

Traffic might be delayed in the area and police are advising drivers to seek alternate routes.

Photo Credit: NBC 7

Family of Sandra Bland to File Lawsuit


The family of Sandra Bland is set to file a lawsuit against the trooper who arrested her and others they say are responsible for the suburban Chicago woman’s death in Texas jail cell.

The lawsuit, expected to be filed Tuesday at the federal courthouse in Houston, against Trooper Brian Encinia and “others responsible for the death of Sandra Bland,” according to a release from the family’s attorney.

Bland, a 28-year-old Chicago-area woman, was found dead in her Waller County jail cell on July 13, three days after her arrest. Officials say she used a plastic bag to hang herself, a finding her family has questioned. Bland's family and others also have criticized Encinia, who stopped Bland for failing to signal a lane change.

Texas authorities said last week that Encinia violated procedures and the department's courtesy policy during the traffic stop and was placed on administrative leave.

Dashcam video shows a confrontation between Bland and Encinia swiftly escalated after she objected to being told to put out her cigarette. Encinia at one point is seen holding a stun gun as he says, "I will light you up!" after Bland refuses to get out of her car. Bland, who was black, eventually was arrested for allegedly assaulting the white trooper.

"That baby did not take herself out," Geneva Reed-Veal, Bland's mother, said at her funeral.

Some Texas politicians, including state Sen. Royce West, have said that Bland should not have been arrested in the first place.

Bland's death came after nearly a year of heightened national scrutiny of police and their dealings with black suspects, especially those who have been killed by officers or die in police custody.

According to his personnel file, Encinia was selected for the Trooper Trainee Academy in December 2013, joined the Department of Public Safety in June 2014 as a probationary trooper and completed his probation in June 2015, becoming a Highway Patrol trooper.

An initial toxicology report was released for Bland that two experts said raised the possibility that she may have used marijuana while in custody. Prosecutor Warren Diepraam has said information on her marijuana use may be relevant to the case in determining her state of mind.

A committee of outside attorneys will assist Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis in investigating Bland's death.

"I don't know if we'll ever get an answer to all the questions," said attorney Lewis White of Sugar Land, one of the committee members. "But our job is to get answers. There are going to be answers some people don't like."

The Texas Rangers and the FBI are investigating the case.

Cecil Hunter's Guide Feels He Did Nothing Wrong


The guide accused of helping an American kill Cecil the lion told NBC News on Tuesday that he felt he did nothing wrong.

Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer allegedly paid Theo Bronkhorst $50,000 to lure the lion out of a wildlife reserve so he could shoot it with a bow.

The animal was a tourist favorite and subject of an Oxford University research project. Its death has provoked global outrage.

"I do not feel I have done anything wrong," Bronkhorst said via telephone. "This has been a very stressful time for me and my family. We have been pulled into something we are not happy with."

Bronkhorst has pleaded not guilty last week to a charge of failing to prevent the unlawful killing of Cecil. He was released on $1,000 bail and was due back in court Wednesday.

Photo Credit: Photos courtesy Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority

Lightning Might Have Sparked 3-Alarm Fire at Groton Condos


Lightning might have sparked a a three-alarm fire at a Groton condominium complex that damaged a unit and displaced residents.

Fire broke out at Kinnesbrook Condos, a condo complex on Meridian Street extension in Groton, on Tuesday morning.

No official cause of the fire has been determined, but the fire chief said it might have been a lightning strike. A thunder and lightning storm was moving through the area when the fire started.

Officials said it one corner apartment sustained significant damage and the fire escalated to three alarms because of humidity.

Some families will be displaced, but no information was immediately available on how many.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man, Woman Dead in East Haven Home


East Haven police are investigating a homicide after two people were found shot to death inside a home on Foxon Boulevard on Monday night.

Police discovered the bodies of a man and woman while conducting a welfare check after a relative of one of the victims became concerned and approached police at 9:34 p.m.

The man and woman were pronounced dead at the scene. Investigators believe this is an isolated incident and said there is no need for residents to be concerned.

Police have not released the names of the two people found dead or the relationship between them.

East Haven Police and the State Police Major Crime Unit are on the scene investigating.

Anyone with information about this incident should call the East Haven Police Detective Division at 203-468-3820.

Woman Stole SAT Booklet from High School: Police


Wilton police have arrested a 50-year-old local woman who they said stole an SAT booklet from Wilton High School in June.

Laura M. Garbuz was arrested on Monday and charged with third-degree larceny.

She is accused of stealing the exam from the school on June 6. The SATs were offered at the school that day, according to the school calendar.

According to the Hour, she identified herself as an exam proctor and was allowed into the school.

She was initially told to wait at the door, but the man she spoke with was called away and Garbuz entered the building, according to the Wilton Bulletin.

The theft was discovered when the booklets were collected, the Hour reports.

Police found Garbuz while she was driving on Route 7 and took her into custody in the area of Center Street and Ridgefield Road. She was released after posting a $2,500 cash bond and is due in Norwalk Superior Court on Aug. 14.



Photo Credit: Wilton Police

Pickup Hits Skateboarders With Mirror in Ledyard


Police are searching for the pickup truck that struck two skateboarders with its side-view mirror in Ledyard on Monday evening.

According to police, three people were skateboarding in the area of 1872 Center Groton Road when the pickup, a dark-colored Honda Ridgeline, hit two of them with its passenger side mirror.

No one was seriously hurt, but police said the truck did not stop and continued driving on Center Groton Road. Police are trying to track down the driver and said another vehicle may have been following the truck in an effort to take down its license plate number.

Police said the pickup is possibly an RTX or Sport model made between 2006 and 2014.

Anyone with information is asked to call Officer Bailey at 860-464-6400.

Photo Credit: NBC10

Burglary Suspect Nabbed After Jumping Out Window: Police


Hamden police responded to a burglar alarm at a Dix Street home early on the morning of July 30 and arrested the man who they said jumped out a window and started running.

Police responded to the home around 2:15 a.m. and saw light emanating from inside of the house.

Soon after, Manuel Maldonado, 31, jumped out of a window and started running, according to police.

Officers Tim Brown and Jay Hankins apprehended him.

Maldonado was charged with third-degree burglary and is due to appear in court in Meriden on Aug. 13.

Small Sinkhole Closes Route 12 in Norwich

Police Seek Stratford Burglar


Police are searching for the man who burglarized a Stratford property late last month.

The burglary occurred on Main Street near Stratford Avenue around 3 p.m. July 29, according to police.

Surveillance footage captured the burglar's image.

Photos released by police show the man wearing a dark-colored T-shirt and shorts and carrying a black backpack and a messenger bag or briefcase.

He appears to have short, curly hair and a closely cropped beard. Police said he may also have tattoos on his right arm.

Anyone with information on his identity or whereabouts is urged to call Stratford police Det. Jason DeLauri at 203-385-4172 or email jdelauri@townofstratford.com.

Photo Credit: Stratford Police Department

Suicides in Local Jails on the Rise: Report


On the day that Sandra Bland’s family filed a federal lawsuit over what officials say was her suicide in a Texas jail, a report released Tuesday shows the number of suicides continuing to rise in local jails.

The report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Mortality in Local Jails and State Prisons, 2000 - 2013,” found that the number of suicides in local jails increased from 300 in 2012 to 327 in 2013.

Suicide was the leading cause of deaths in jails, up 12 percent since 2009 and accounting for 34 percent of deaths in 2013.

The report also found that overall the number of inmates who died in jails and state prisons rose for the third straight year — 4,446 in 2013, up 131 deaths from the year before. The total was the highest number reported since 2007.

Most jails, 80 percent, reported no deaths in 2013. Nearly a quarter of all deaths among jail inmates, 23 percent, occurred in Texas and California, which had the largest state and federal prison populations.

Paul Wright, the executive director of the Human Rights Defense Center in Lake Worth, Florida, which advocates on criminal justice topics, said there were no surprises in the numbers.

“Barring any change in our sentencing practices, and also in our medical and mental-health care, these numbers are only going to go up,” said Wright, a former prisoner himself.

Approximately 2.2 million people were incarcerated in jails and prisons in the United States in 2013, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Bland, 28, was found dead in her cell in Waller County on July 13 and officials say she hanged herself with a plastic trash can liner. The Texas Commission on Jail Standards criticized the Waller County Jail for insufficient training.

Bland’s family is suing the state trooper, Brian Encinia, who pulled her over, and others they say are responsible for her death. Encinia has been placed on administrative duties after he was found to have violated procedures regarding traffic stops.

Eric Balaban, senior staff counsel with the ACLU’s National Prison Project, said that to reduce suicides, jails must operate like a large emergency room, with a system to identify prisoners who are at risk, to monitor them and to provide them with adequate care.

“And all of these things must occur very quickly because the risk of suicide is higher at intake and during the first week of incarceration than later in incarceration in a jail setting,” he said.

Ayesha Delany-Brumsey, a senior research associate at the Vera Institute of Justice, said jails can take a number of steps to reduce the number of suicides — from screening prisoners throughout their stay using trained mental-health professionals to forming relationships with community-health providers who might already know the inmates.

“So that if someone’s on medication or someone’s known to be chronically suicidal that that information can get passed on quickly — of course with the person’s consent — but so that the jail staff knows when the person enters that they have someone who they need to pay attention to,” she said.

The number of deaths in jails as a result of drug or alcohol intoxication, accidents and homicides also rose. Homicides and accidental deaths were less common, accounting for 3 percent or less of deaths in jails in 2013, according to the report. Illness-related deaths declined.

The typical jail inmate who died was a white male 35 years old or older and in custody for fewer than seven days.

As far as deaths in state prisons, Texas and California again led with nearly a quarter. Every state department of corrections reported at least one death.

The number of deaths was up 122 from 2012 to 2013. About 90 percent were related to illness, with about half a result of cancer or heart diseases. The number from liver disease, the third leading cause, declined.

Suicides accounted for 6 percent of the deaths; homicides for 3 percent.

Also: the percentage of those who died who were 55 or older has increased by an average of 5 percent a year since 2001 and although the average mortality rate for men and women was nearly equal, the suicide mortality rate among males was 1.5 times the rate for females.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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Trump Says Call Me After Phone Number Goes Public


Republican billionaire presidential candidate Donald Trump was unfazed when he got a taste of his own medicine Monday, using his leaked cell phone number to promote his Twitter account and campaign website, NBC News reported.

The move comes after Gawker tried to do unto Trump what Trump did to fellow candidate Lindsey Graham. The blog published Trump's phone number on Monday, suggesting readers call him to ask about his "important ideas" a few weeks after Trump gave out Graham's phone number at a campaign rally. 

While Graham destroyed his cell phone in a viral video, Trump embraced the leak. The new voicemail for the business mogul is a campaign message plugging his Twitter and campaign website. 

Junk Pile Catches Fire in Manchester Scrap Yard


Firefighters were called to a scrap metal yard in Manchester after a pile of used appliances caught fire Tuesday morning.

According to the fire department, a small flame ignited at the base of a 20-foot-tall scrap pile at Ostrinsky's Scrap Metal Yard at 731 Parker Street. Workers tried to put it out with fire extinguishers, but the fire grew, so they called 911.

Sixteen firefighters arrived around 10:50 a.m. to find a column of smoke rising from the property. No one was hurt. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection was called out to check the water runoff and determined the environmental impact was minmal, according to the fire department.

Crews are investigating to determine the cause of the fire.

The business remains open.

Photo Credit: Monica Garske

Homes Evacuated After Gas Leak in Vernon


Crews from Eversource have responded to a gas leak in Vernon that police said prompted the evacuation of area homes.

The leak is reported to be in the area of 79 Spring St.

Police and firefighters responded, according to a Tweet from police, but they have left the scene.

No additional information is available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

New Britain Mayor, Challenger Face Off Over CTfastrak


New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart broke ranks with Republicans across Connecticut when she voiced her support for CTfastrak, a bus rapid transit system with a hub in New Britain that cost $570 million, with Connecticut taxpayers on the hook for about $170 million.

"Intermodal transit development is crucial for our city," Stewart said, adding that the introduction of CTfastrak has already led to new investment in downtown.

She said it was a no-brainer to support the project that would allow residents to get around the region faster.

"It’s more important to focus on what’s positive for the community and there’s no Democrat or positive way to make positive changes and I think that’s what the people want to hear and I’m glad to bring that to New Britain," Stewart said.

Challenger Alfred Mayo, who is accused of assaulting Stewart at an event last week, said the city doesn't have spending under control, following what he described as an 11 percent tax increase across the board in recent years.

"You can’t ask for something and have no plan and then the city is still in debt," Mayo said.

When asked how he would close the revenue gap if he was to cut taxes Mayo said, "I cannot reduce anything until I get into the office. Once I get into office I could determine what we need and how much we can reduce and cut the spending."

Stewart said she thinks her record speaks for itself.

"New Britain is going in a completely different direction. It’s doing a 180 from where we were two years ago when I took office between all of the construction projects we’ve had. We’ve balanced our city’s budget and I don’t think residents could ask for much more than that knowing that their city is in good stable hands," she said.

Fierce Storm Topples Trees in Stonington


After a fierce storm toppled trees and power lines this morning, Stonington police put up a barricade on Greenhaven Road west of Pawcatuck and the state line.

Even after Eversource restored power to thousands of customers in Stonington, a tree crew was waiting along Greenhaven at 5 p.m. for the power company to de-energize lines and clean up oil from a transformer.

"They called us in at 10," said Dan Humbert of Lucas Tree. "Storms that come in, trees fall, so they call us in, any time of the night, when they need us."

He heard the wind and the thunder that roared through town last night.

"Wind gusts that were unbelievable," said Dan Berube, who said the storm found its way through an open bathroom window. "Water was going horizontal into the hallway and the bathroom's nine foot deep."

People around him agreed the storms are getting more and more intense.

"I've never seen this kind of stuff in Connecticut," said Jan Pizanowski.

Woman, 3 Teens Charged in Hamden Home Invasion, Assault


A 37-year-old woman and three teenagers are facing charges after police say they assaulted a Hamden man, stabbed his sister and forced their way into her apartment late last month.

Shontae Walker, of Hamden, was charged with second-degree assault, conspiracy to commit second-degree assault, assault on an elderly person, home invasion, third-degree assault and interfering with an officer.

Three minors – ages 15, 16 and 17 – were also arrested.

Police said they were part of a group that got into an argument with a 41-year-old man and his 38-year-old sister at 306 Pine Rock Avenue in Hamden on July 25.

According to police, several members of the group held the man back while others attacked and stabbed his sister. The attackers forced their way into the female victim's apartment and continued assaulting her before running off.

At some point during the confrontation, the victim's mother, who is in her 60s, was pushed to the ground, according to police.

Police said they arrived to find the woman suffering from stab wounds to her face and arm. She was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Walker was held on $2,500 bond and is due in court Aug. 4. It's not clear whether she has an attorney.

The teenagers are all due in New Haven Juvenile Court on Aug. 6.

National Night Out Aims to Curb Violence in Hartford


Neighborhoods across Hartford are participating in National Night Out, a nationwide program meant to foster relationships between communities and public safety officials.

"If you get to know your public officials, not only at election time, but if you get to know them throughout the time that they’re here, then you will have less problems in the community, but it starts at the community level," said Donna Thompson-Daniel, chairman of the Blue Hills Neighborhood Revitalization. "The communities is the ones who have to stop the violence."

National Night Out in Hartford comes at a time when the city is dealing with a wave of violence, including multiple shootings, stabbings and 20 homicides so far this year.

The night includes activities with police, like playing in parks, barbeques and exhibitions, and is meant to improve relationships.

"With the crime that’s been going on in our area, something needs to be done, and this is just one step towards resolving the issues that we have in the North End," said Desmond Batts, who helped organize events on Upper Albany in conjunction with the YMCA and the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice.

"This is one of the events we look to showcase here. Not only can people in Hartford, specifically in the North End, come together for peaceful event, but that we can carry that forward, and that’s really what tonight is all about," he said.

Thompson-Daniel said she hopes the evening's events will lead to greater communication among residents as well, which she said could bring Hartford back to a better time.

"Before we used to fight and then you become friends the next week. Now, if you shoot someone, they die and you could never be their friend again," she said. "So if we stop with the gun violence and start talking and hashing out our problems that way, there will be a lot less gun violence."

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