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New Haven Drug Raid Nets Stolen Items at Murderer's Home: Cops


Police in New Haven made a surprise discovery while busting an alleged drug dealing operation: In addition to seizing drugs and money, investigators uncovered a house full of items believed to be stolen and said the person renting it is a convicted murder.

From gas-powered lawn equipment and power tools to flat-screen televisions and dozens of bicycles, most of the items New Haven investigators dragged out of a home on Lamberton Street Wedneday did not belong to the resident who lives there, according to police.

"We’re guessing it’s tens of thousands of dollars' worth of suspected stolen merchandise," said New Haven police spokesman Officer David Hartman.

Police discovered the stolen merchandise while busting a major drug operation linked to Willie "Chill" Harris Jr., 43, who was renting the property. Police said Harris previously served 14 years in prison for a 1993 murder conviction.

Investigators confiscated $22,906 cash and "100 grams of powder cocaine and crack cocaine in the house," according to Hartman.

Officers said the home had become a stockpile of stolen items such as dog food, detergent and about a hundred cases of beer.

"As was described by one of the officers earlier, it’s kind of like a proverbial Wal-Mart," Hartman said.

Police said Harris had been keeping all the items under close watch with security cameras in both the front and rear of the home. They said he even had a working police scanner, which was already turned on when officers raided the property.

"We’re surprised the scanner was actually set to our frequency 3, which is for this neighborhood," said Hartman.

Several truckloads of stolen goods were taken to the police department's property room, where they will stay while police work to match their serial numbers with those of items reported missing.

Harris remains in custody and has been charged with possession of narcotics with intent to sell within 1,500 feet of a school, possession of a controlled substance and operating a drug factory. It's not clear if he has an attorney.

State Suspends Company Involved in Back-to-Back Bridge Incidents


The state Department of Transportation has suspended a subcontractor whose crews and equipment were involved in back-to-back incidents on bridges in Groton and West Hartford, the latter of which proved fatal.

Officials with the DOT said McClain & Co., a subcontrator hired by a consultant performing routine bridge inspections, was involved in both accidents, which occurred Tuesday and Wednesday.

No one was hurt Tuesday when crews inspecting the Gold Star Bridge on Interstate 95 in Groton became trapped in the bucket of a snooper truck, which has a retractable arm that hangs down below the bridge. Firefighters pulled the workers to safety in a rescue effort that tied up traffic for hours.

DOT officials an equipment malfunction was to blame.

Wednesday's incident ended differently. A spokesperson for the DOT said an operator from McClain & Co. was retracting the truck's arm when he became wedged between the truck and the bridge railing on the exit 43 ramp to Interstate 84 east in West Hartford.

The truck tipped and crushed the truck operator, who was killed, according to the DOT.

DOT officials said McClain & Co. provided the truck or trucks involved in both incidents. It's not clear if the same equipment was used.

The state is suspending all services with McClain & Co. and will not allow consultants to use the compay either as a safety precaution. State police are investigating.

A man who answered the phone at McClain & Co. headquarters in Virginia on Wednesday evening said the company has no comment.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com/Department of Transportation

2 Drivers Seriously Hurt in Head-On Crash in Ledyard


Two drivers suffered serious injuries when their cars collided Wednesday evening on Whalehead Road in Ledyard.

Police said Arthur Lipman, 72, of Ledyard, was driving northbound on Whalehead Road around 6 p.m. when his car drifted into the southbound lane, colliding head-on with another vehicle near the intersection of Sandy Hollow Road.

Lipman was rushed to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital for treatment. The other driver, Marianne Brumfield, 50, of the Gales Ferry section of Ledyard, was taken to William Backus Hospital, then airlifted to Hartford Hospital, according to state police.

Both drivers were seriously hurt.

Police are investigating to determine the cause of the crash.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Firefighter Arrested Over Confrontation With Ranking Officer


A Hartford fire lieutenant now faces criminal charges in connection with a violent confrontation with another ranking officer.

Lt. Michael Patterson, 45, turned himself in Wednesday on a breach of peace charge stemming from an incident Aug. 14, when he allegedly got into a “physical and verbal altercation” with Capt. Thomas Dalton in front of other firefighters and civilians at a fire scene on West Morningside Street in the city’s North End, according to police.

Ten days ago, the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters obtained a memo from Capt. Thomas Dalton to Fire Chief Carlos Huertas detailing an incident between Dalton and Patterson.

In the memo, Dalton describes being the commanding officer at the scene of the fire, when he told Patterson three times he had not yet been released from duty.

Dalton reports that Patterson advanced toward him aggressively and shouted, “Dalton, you’ll get what’s coming to you, I’ll make sure of it. I’m going to (expletive) you up.”

In the report, Dalton says Patterson threw several punches, even landing one blow in the center of his chest.

Patterson has been arrested before. Two years ago, he faced charged of threatening, breach of peace and 29 counts of risk of injury in connection with a domestic violence incident. He was suspended from duty, but the charges were ultimately dropped.

The Troubleshooters reached out to Patterson’s attorney, Rachel Baird, who says the police department refused to give her client a copy of the arrest warrant.

"There will be a lot to say about this case but until we receive a copy of the warrant, I will have no further comment except to say that Mike Patterson willingly met with the officers yesterday and that the recording of the interview will speak for itself," Baird said.

Both Patterson and Dalton remain on paid administrative leave.

"At the conclusion of our investigation I will issue any necessary discipline or other corrective action," Hartford Fire Capt. Theodore Kolosky said in a statement Wednesday. "I would like to assure the public the incident did not impact the Department’s delivery of services in any way."

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Fire Destroys Second City Offices


Four firefighters were injured while battling an intense three-alarm fire in a building that houses the offices of Chicago's famed Second City theater company.

At least one other person suffered injuries from the thick black smoke that billowed near Wells Street and North Avenue, according to Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford. All four firefighters were listed in stable condition.

The fire started in a storefront at 1612 N. Wells just south of the theater in Old Town. Adobo Grill restaurant occupies the first floor of the three-story building, while apartments occupy the remaining two floors. At one point the out-of-control flames were shooting through the top of the building's nearly collapsed roof.

Upon further investigation, the Office of Fire Investigation identified an accident in Adobo Grill's first-floor kitchen as the cause of the fire. The flames then quickly traveled upwards through the restaurant's vents.

After trying to fight the flames for more than an hour, crews were still unable to put out the angry blaze and the fire was elevated to a 3-11 alarm.

The Second City theater, which launched the careers of scores of comedians and actors, including John Belushi, Tina Fey and Bill Murray, remained safe as of 2:30 p.m., but their offices were destroyed. All showings for Wednesday evening were canceled, the comedy club announced on Twitter.

As the fire spread to the roof officials worked to keep flames from spreading to nearby buildings, including nearby Piper's Alley mall and the building that houses the Second City theater, according to Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford.

Piper's Alley and the Second City faculty and training center were evacuated as firefighters worked to put out the blaze, Langford said. 

NASA: Sea-Level Rise Will Only Get Worse


A new NASA model is showing just how fast sea levels are rising around the world as a result of climate change, NBC News reported.

At a news conference Wednesday, NASA officials described a new computer visualization of sea level change incorporating data collected by satellites since 1992. The data reveals sea levels overall are rising faster than they were 50 years ago — more quickly than expected — and that the speed will likely increase in the future, primarily because of melting ice sheets.

"Sea level rise is one of the most visible signatures of our changing climate, and rising seas have profound impacts on our nation, our economy and all of humanity," said Michael Freilich, director of NASA's Earth Science Division.

Photo Credit: NASA' Scientific Visualization Studio

Chinese Authorities Arrest 12 in Aftermath of Tianjin Blasts


Chinese authorities have arrested 12 people in the aftermath of a series of deadly blasts that rocked the port city of Tianjin two weeks ago, killing at least 139 people, state media reported Thursday.

Yu Xuewei, the chairman of the company that owns the warehouse that exploded Aug. 12, Tianjin International Ruihai Logistics Co. Ltd., Vice chairman Dong Shexuan, and three of the company's deputy managers were among those arrested, state media agency Xinhua reported, citing police.

On Wednesday, China's head of work safety, Yang Dongliang, was fired and named as a suspect in a corruption investigation, Xinhua reported.  

Photo Credit: ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images

Fiancée Saw TV Crew Killed on Air


The fiancée of a cameraman who was shot to death during a live television broadcast Wednesday morning released a statement on her Facebook page, expressing her heartbreak while thanking her supporters. 

Today, my entire world was flipped upside down. Starting new adventures with my fiance, new jobs, a new city. Getting married, having a family, buying a home. Thats now taken. Im not ok. And I wont be for a long time. But the enormous outpour of love and support from so many of you near and far is so much appreciated. Adam, I will never find a man so happy, selfless, protective, funny, or charming like you. You were the one. You understood me. My soulmate. I will always love you. Please watch over me and keep me strong. Enjoy the endless tech games in your heaven. I love you so much ♡

Melissa Ott was celebrating her last day on the job at WDBJ-TV in Roanoke, Virginia, when her fiancé, Adam Ward, was shot and killed during a live broadcast.

The former NBC10 intern from Gibbstown, New Jersey, was producing the morning news show when Ward and reporter Alison Parker were gunned down by a former station employee. Ott watched the incident unfold from the station’s control room. WDBJ’s General Manager Jeff Marks said she was “devastated.”

Ward, 27, was the cameraman with Parker. They were ambushed and killed while Parker was interviewing a woman on live TV at about 6:45 a.m. The station was on lockdown for hours during a manhunt for the shooter, identified as former WDBJ reporter Vester Flanagan.

The 41-year-old suspect, who went by the on-air name Bryce Williams, shot himself during a police pursuit along a Virginia interstate. He was airlifted to a hospital in Fairfax County where he died.

Ott had arrived to work Wednesday before the sun came up and was greeted with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and balloons. She and Ward were headed to Charlotte, North Carolina, for Ott's new job.

"We were celebrating that," said morning anchor Kimberly McBroom. "Alison had brought in balloons, I had brought in a cake, it was a day of celebration." McBroom tagged Ott in a celebratory Facebook post:

Big shout out and congrats to our awesome WDBJ7 producer, Melissa Ott. Congrats to her on her new job in Charlotte ... we will miss you!!!

Christ Hurst, an anchor for WDBJ-TV who attended Temple University, revealed to Twitter followers Wednesday he and Parker had been dating for 9 months and "were very much in love." The two had also recently moved in together, according to the tweet. "I am numb," he added. 

Hurst said he and Parker had just celebrated her 24th birthday and talked about getting married.

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Inspector Killed When Truck Tips on West Hartford I-84 Ramp


A worker performing a routine bridge inspection for the state Department of Transportation was killed when his truck tipped over and crushed him on a West Hartford entrance ramp Wednesday.

Police and DOT officials said William Shook, 43, of Middlefield, was killed while using a snooper truck, which has an arm and bucket that hangs down below the bridge, to inspect part of the exit 43 entrance ramp from Park Road to Interstate 84 eastbound.

Shook was standing between the truck and the bridge railing, retracting the truck's arm, when the 62,000-pound snooper truck tipped over and crushed him, officials. No one was in the bucket at the time.

Footage from the scene shows the truck hanging upside down over the edge of the ramp. Police closed the ramp and said it could remain shut down for a while. Authorities also plan to close the westbound side of the highway while they work to remove the truck.

"We don't know what the boom will do. The fluid has been leaking out of it, so it may rotate; it may do a lot of things," explained West Hartford Asst. Fire Chief Richard Winn. "That's the concern, make sure it stays stable."

Investigators from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration are responding, along with hazmat crews from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

"There's some kind of fluid leaking into the Trout Brook, more than likely hydraulic fluid, but we put booms in place so they collect that, and there's an environmental collector on scene now who is going to take care of that," Winn said.

It's the second bridge inspection incident in two days. Firefighters rescued worker Tuesday after the bucket of a snooper truck owned by the same company got stuck hanging over the side of the Gold Star Bridge in Groton.

DOT officials said McClain & Co., a subcontractor out of Virginia, was involved in both incidents. The state has suspended all services with the company as a safety precaution. McClain & Co. declined to comment on the situation Wednesday.

"They're going to have to do the investigation to find out what went wrong. Two incidents in two days; I guess the prudent thing would be to suspend them until you find out exactly what happened," Winn said.

I-84 westbound was closed briefly between exits 42 and 43 in West Hartford while crews removed the tipped-over truck Wednesday night. The highway has reopened, according to the DOT.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Sleeping Girl Taken From Bedroom, Sexually Assaulted


Police are investigating after a man allegedly took a girl from the New Britain bedroom she shared with two other children and sexually assaulted her earlier this month.

According to police, the girl was sleeping in her bed in the Broad Street neighborhood early Sunday, Aug. 6 when a man entered her bedroom through an unlocked window.

Police said the man took her outside, touched her inappropriately and then brought her back home.

"It's reported to us that there were two other children in the same bedroom sleeping at the time it occurred," said New Britain Police Capt. Thomas Ste ck, who described the allegations as "very disturbing."

The victim told police her attacker is between 20 and 50 years old with a thin, dark beard, dark eyes and short hair. Police said he allegedly spoke with an accent and was wearing a dark-colored hat with a blue logo resembling a lightning bolt.

The incident has neighbors on edge.

"I've got a bat. I've got a Louisville slugger. I have no problem harming whoever comes to harm our family," said New Britain resident Francisco Gonzalez, who has a 6-year-old. "How can a human being ever want to harm or touch a little kid like that?

New Britain police are investigating the case alongside the Connecticut Forensics Laboratory. Steck said police have searched the neighborhood and obtained surveillance video from area businesses.

He's asking residents to lock doors and windows at night and to come forward with any information that might help police crack the case.

Anyone with information is asked to call New Britain police Det. Lopa at 860-826-3155 or make an anonymous tip by calling 860-826-3199.

Call Reporting Intruder Was False Alarm: Police


Police swarmed a North Branford neighborhood overnight to investigate possible intruders or a shooter in a house, but determined there was no threat and are calling this a “medical situation.”

North Branford police said they received a 911 call around 3:30 a.m. reporting possible intruders in home on Bailey Drive and called in assistance from East Haven and Guilford responded.

Police found no threat and brought the person they believe called 911 to the hospital to be evaluated.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Thousands Move in at SCSU


Thousands of new students began moving onto campus at Southern Connecticut State University on Thursday morning to start a new school year.

Around 2,600 students will live on the New Haven campus and nearly 1,000 of them are freshmen.

Stephanie Soete, of Farmingdale, New York, is one of them and said she’s a little anxious about living away from her parents for the first time.

“I’m nervous, but excited, I guess, to be on my own” she said.

Moms and dads were fighting back the emotions of seeing their children off while dealing with the heavy lifting of moving them into their dorms.

For some, the move-in is nostalgic.

“For me, it was fun remembering when I did it 20 years ago. Now she’s going off 18 years later,” Lou Colon, of Newington, said as he and his family helped move their daughter to school.

And as much as on-campus living has changed over the years, one thing that remains the same is that students are still concerned about living in a tiny space.

“It’s going to be hard to get used to because it is so small compared to being at home with all my stuff. Now I have a limited amount of stuff” Soete said.

Some said they are concerned about living with a complete stranger.

“You don’t really know someone until you live with them. So, it’s going to be a new experience too. So hopefully it works out,” Cynthia Montero, a freshman from Stamford, said.

However, the chance to live and learn with friends is something students said they know only happens once in a lifetime and, for that, they’re excited.

“Meeting new people and getting to know them, other people on my floor and in my room. … It should be a lot of fun,” Garret Masocco, of Meriden, said.

StarKist Settlement: How to Get Cash or $50 in Tuna


Tuna lovers have your pick: $25 in cash or $50 in tuna.

StarKist is offering affected customers cash or tuna fish as part of a settlement in a class action lawsuit that alleged the company under-filled some of its 5-ounce cans of tuna by several tenths of an ounce, NBC News reported. StarKist has denied wrongdoing. 

A shopper must have bought one of the company's 5-ounce cans of chunk light tuna or solid white tuna in water or oil between Feb. 19, 2009, and Oct. 31, 2014, to be eligible for the cash or tuna.

Affected consumers can file a claim through the settlement website TunaLawsuit.com

The website says that a receipt or other proof of purchase is not needed to submit a claim. 

Woman Files Suit Against Bulls Star Derrick Rose


A woman has filed a lawsuit against Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose, claiming he and two friends drugged and gang-raped her.

The unidentified woman, who says she dated Rose from 2011 to 2013, says she was drugged at a Beverly Hills home and later attacked at her apartment.

Rose denied the woman's claims in a statement he released late Thursday.

"I am just focusing on staying healthy and getting ready for the season," he said. "I am not going to comment other than to say - I know the truth, and am confident I will be proven innocent.”

The lawsuit, which was first reported by TMZ Wednesday and made public Thursday, says the incident took place in August of 2013.

Rose’s spokesperson, Lisa Cohen, said on behalf of his legal team that the lawsuit is “nothing more than a desperate attempt to shake down a highly respected and successful athlete" and called the claims "outrageous."

"Two years have passed since Mr. Rose ended the consensual relationship with the plaintiff, and her claims are as meritless now as they were two years ago," she said. "We have complete confidence that the case will be dismissed and that Mr. Rose will be vindicated."

Cohen also claimed this is the third attorney the woman has hired in an attempt to sue Rose.

The Chicago Bulls released a statement on the issue Wednesday.

"We just learned about this matter and do not know all the facts,” the team said. “It would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

Rose’s agent could not immediately be reached for comment.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Clinton Compares GOP Views on Women to 'Terrorist Groups'


Hillary Clinton seemed to compare Republican presidential candidates' "extreme views" on women to those held by "terrorist groups" while she was campaigning in Ohio on Thursday.

"Extreme views about women— we expect that from some of the terrorist groups. We expect that from people who don't want to live in the modern world. But it's a little hard to take coming from Republicans who want to be the presdient of the United States," Clinton said to cheers.

Republicans were quick to demand an apology from Clinton.

"For Hillary Clinton to equate her political opponents to terrorists is a new low for her flailing campaign," Republican National Committee Press Secretary Allison Moore said. "She should apologize immediately for her inflammatory rhetoric."

Photo Credit: AP
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WDBJ-TV Holds Press Conference About Morning News Shooting


 WDBJ-TV’s general manager and news director hold a news conference on Alison Parker and Adam Ward, who were shot and killed during a live shot for their morning news show.

Photo Credit: AP

Too Hip to Be Square: Instagram to Allow Landscape Photos


Instagram photographers around the world are pleased that the photo-sharing service has decided to think outside the box.

"You can now share photos and videos in both portrait and landscape orientation on Instagram," the online application announced on its website.

Square format images have been a part of Instagram since day one, however, the company realized that square imaging has caused some problems for users.

"We know that is hasn't been easy to share this type of content on Instagram: friends get cut out of group shots, the subject of your video feels cramped and you can't capture the Golden Gate Bridge from end-to-end," Instagram's announcement said. 

With the new feature, users now have the option to choose a square, portrait or landscape orientation when posting a video or photo. 

It's been long debated by videographers that cellphone videos should be shot in landscape or "long ways" rather than vertical.

Instagram hopes its new option to post a video in widescreen will make a mobile video be more "cinematic than ever." 

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images

McDonald's, Tyson Cut Ties With Farm After Undercover Video


McDonald's and the fast food chain's supplier Tyson Foods have cut ties with a Tennessee chicken farm after an animal rights group released what it claims is undercover footage of mistreated chickens. 

Mercy for Animals released the graphic footage Thursday morning, purporting to show workers at T&S Farm in Dukedom, Tennessee, a Tyson Foods contract farm, “clubbing and stabbing chickens.” It also claims to show sick and injured birds left without proper veterinary care and thousands of baby birds "bred to grow so fast they become crippled under their weight."

McDonald’s said in a statement that Tyson Foods has terminated their contract with the farmer.

“We believe treating animals with care and respect is an integral part of a responsible supply chain and find the behavior depicted in this video to be completely unacceptable,” the Oak Brook-based fast food chain said in a statement. “We support Tyson Foods’ decision to terminate their contract with this farmer.”

In a statement released Thursday, Tyson said members of its animal well-being team are investigating the farm.

“Animal well-being is a priority at our company and we will not tolerate the unacceptable animal treatment shown in this video,” the company said in a statement. "Members of our animal well-being team are investigating, however, based on what we currently know, we are terminating the farmer’s contract to grow chickens for us. There are currently no chickens on the farm. We’re committed to animal well-being but don’t believe this video accurately depicts the treatment of chickens by the thousands of farmers who supply us."

McDonald’s said it plans to work with Tyson and investigate the situation further.

“We’re committed to working with animal welfare and industry experts to inform our policies that promote better management, strong employee education and verification of practices,” the company said.

McDonald's is the latest company being asked to reform its practices following undercover video released by Mercy for Animals, which advocates against eating meat. 

In June, poultry producer Foster Farms was targeted by the group after undercover video showed chickens being slammed upside-down into metal shackles, plucked and having their feathers pulled out while they were still alive. 

Government statistics show that hundreds of thousands of chickens are accidentally dropped alive into scalding tanks every year, but that represents a small fraction of those slaughtered. Last year, the rate at which chickens were improperly slaughtered plummeted to a low of 0.008 percent, an Agriculture Department spokeswoman said.

Drug Addiction Discussion Addresses Keys to Recovery


Finding recovering addicts the help they need was the topic in Willimantic on Thursday morning as state and local leaders work to fight the area's heroin and opioid crisis head on.

The crowd at the Community for Addiction Recovery Center in Willimantic was packed with health care professionals, community leaders and a few who have already beaten their addiction.

"Eventually overdosing four times in two years after graduation led me into treatment," said East Haddam resident Nicholas Grillo. "The problem was, I would try to get treatment, come out and the resources just weren’t there."

It has become a public health crisis not just on the streets of Willimantic, but across the state. Last year, 347 people in Connecticut died from overdosing, up from 195 in 2012.

The discussion Thursday morning was about more than treatment, it was about how to help addicts recover.

"We’re not going to imprison our way out of this public health crisis," Sen. Richard Blumenthal said. "There has to be more treatment, mental health care and recovery resources."

Recovering addicts say the key is putting the dealers and the over-prescribers behind bars while getting the users the help they need to beat the addiction.

"The money needs to be more available for sober housing and supportive services after treatment," Grillo said.

Reward Offered to Help Solve Stratford Bank Robbery


A man robbed a TD Bank in Stratford on Tuesday and a $1,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to an arrest.

The robbery happened at the TD Bank on Stratford Avenue around 10:50 a.m. on Tuesday, according to police.

The man did not pull a weapon and made off with $580 in cash.

He is described as thin and was wearing a blue T-shirt, tan pants a backpack and camouflage hat during the robbery, according to a news release from police.

A $1,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the identification and arrest of the suspect.

Anyone with information should call Detective Jennifer Murolo at 203-385-4127.

Photo Credit: Stratford Police
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