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Guatemalan President Detained in Corruption Probe


A Guatemalan judge has issued an unprecedented order to detain President Otto Perez Molina in a fraud scandal that has engulfed his government, dealing the most serious blow yet to entrenched political corruption in the Central American country.

The order is not for arrest, but for Perez Molina to declare before Judge Miguel Angel Galvea, who granted the request Wednesday from Attorney General Thelma Aldana, she told Canal Antigua television.

The president will have to appear on accusations of illicit association, fraud and receiving bribe money in a customs fraud scandal that has already led to the jailing of his vice president and the resignation of some Cabinet ministers.

Photo Credit: AP

$5K Reward in Search for Suspected Shooter of Pastor, Man


Hartford police are announcing a $5,000 reward for help in the capture of a man suspected of shooting a pastor who was putting flags out for Memorial Day, then shooting a 27-year-old man at another location 14 minutes later.

Aaron J. Taylor, 25, of Windsor, is wanted on attempted murder and assault charges in connection to both shootings and police are searching for him. Hartford police have received information information that Taylor has returned to the Hartford region after previously leaving the state and that he is active in the area.

Police said to use caution if you encounter Taylor and warned against approaching him because the firearm from the incidents hasn't been recovered and he has "extremely violent tendencies."

Taylor is suspected of shooting Rev. Dr. Augustus Sealy, 54, of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, outside the First Church of the Nazarene at 932 Capital Ave. just before 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 24, police said. The pastor was putting out flags for Memorial Day services on his fifth anniversary at the church, according to police. Sealy was last reported to be recovering in the hospital from being shot twice in the right leg and once in the left shoulder. 

Robert Jones, 27, of Hartford, was shot at least six times at about 6:41 a.m. that Sunday at 402 Garden St. and police believe Taylor was the person who shot him. An ambulance brought Jones to the emergency room at Saint Francis Hospital, where he was later listed in serious, but stable condition.

Taylor was last seen driving a black Nissan Maxima and the marker plate is unknown, police said. He is also suspected in other crimes, but police did not release information on those other incidents. 

He is a felon previously convicted of multiple firearm offenses, police said.

Surveillance video of Taylor buying a Red Bull at a Hartford convenience store helped police identify him as a suspect.

Police said the motive for both crimes is unclear. Investigators previously said that they are looking into whether the shooting of the pastor might have been a hate crime.

"I can tell you we do hear from residents that the church is very accepting and open to the LGBT community," Hartford police spokesman Deputy Chief Brian Foley previously said. "So there were some statements made at the scene that certainly keep the idea of it being a hate crime open to our investigators."

The warrant for Taylor carries charges of criminal attempt to commit murder and first-degree assault, as well as a $1.35 million court-set bond. He has a long criminal record, including carrying a pistol without a permit, escape and resisting arrest. 

The department asks anyone with information on the suspect to contact Lt. Brandon O'Brien at 860-757-4089.

Hartford police have a press conference scheduled for 1:15 p.m. to release more information on the reward.

Photo Credit: Hartford Police Department
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$1K Reward Offered in Case of Durham Bank Robbery


A $1,000 reward has been offered in exchange for information leading to the arrest of the man who robbed a Durham bank Thursday, prompting a "secure lockout mode" at local schools.

State police said a man in a "Coors Light" baseball cap robbed the Liberty Bank at 357 Main Street shortly before 2 p.m. Thursday. He got away with an undisclosed amount of money, and troopers and K-9s failed to track him down.

Durham Supt. Kathryn Y. Veronesi said all public schools in town were placed in "secure school lockout" for 10 minutes while police responded to the bank.

The Connecticut Bankers Reward Association is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the robber's arrest.

Police described him as a man in his early to mid-30s, about 6 feet tall, with an athletic build and some facial hair. He was wearing a blue-and-white baseball cap with a Coors Light logo on the front, along with a blue striped long-sleeved button-down shirt, light-colored cargo shorts and athletic sneakers.

He left the scene on foot before getting into a green, older-model sedan, according to state police.

Anyone with information is asked to call State Police Troop F at 860-399-2100 or contact Det. Patrick Dwyer at 860-250-6817. Calls will remain confidential.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police/NBCConnecticut.com

Statewide Crime Down, Cities Drive Homicide Rates


Nearly every major criminal data metric is down year over year across the state of Connecticut, according to a new report released by the Office of Policy and Management's Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Division.

Mike Lawlor, the undersecretary of Criminal Justice Policy and Planning, said Connecticut law enforcement officers at every level are better at their jobs than before and that have learned a lot by tracking data.

"We’ve learned so much from being in contact with so many offenders," Lawlor said. "We can separate the high risk from the low risk, the dangerous from the not dangerous out."

Data shows touble can be traced to three places: Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven.

"If you were to take Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven out of the equation, murders are down 20 percent year over year," he said.

Last year, the state saw 62 homicides up until mid-August.

In 2015, the figure is bumped up to 70 due in no small part to the fact that Hartford has seen a significant rise in homicides. So far this year, there have been 24 homicides in the capital city, more than double this time last year.

Lawlor said there are plans in motion to change that course.

"There’s something going on in Hartford. The governor convened all the experts. We brought the feds, the state together. We think you’ll see some results there. That’s why we keep track of this stuff," he said.

Mayor Pedro Segarra said the assistance has been very helpful in making Hartford a safer city.

"The additional assistance we have received from the state goes a long way in helping us to partner up with state resources and state agencies to bring down and get a hold over the issue of homicides and gun violence in the city of Hartford," the mayor said Thursday.

Torrington Man Facing Federal Child Pornography Charges


A 34-year-old Torrington man has been arrested on federal charges as part of a child pornography investigation.

Timothy J. Allen was charged Wednesday with receipt and possession of child pornography.

He was released on $50,000 bond and placed on electric monitoring, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, federal prosecutors said.

It's not clear if Allen has an attorney.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com

Hartford Holds First Ever Snow Preparation Meeting


Leaders in Hartford want to be proactive when it comes to improving the city's response to snow.

Following two winters of criticism, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra spent this hot day discussing how the city is going to do a better job keeping roads clear when snow starts flying.

"It's a good thing that we're here in September planning, rather than in the winter months and being reactive," said Segarra.

Hartford now has over 120 pieces of snow-fighting equipment, 66 plow drivers and a snow removal budget of nearly $800,000.

"We've significantly improved the last two years. We've overhauled and modernized our system. We've made adjustments in the routes, and we've also acquired additional equipment," Segarra said.

Business leaders and representatives from the police and fire departments attended today's meeting at the city’s Emergency Operations Center to help public works better understand their challenges during snow storms.

"We know what we're doing. We want to continue to modernize it and to streamline it. And again that's where all of you (in attendance) play an important part," said Department of Public Works Director Keith H. Chapman.

Segarra noted that the city needs to look into alternate parking bans so residents have a place to park, while making sure schools aren’t further delayed due to parking issues.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

UConn Women's Hockey Team Accused of Hazing


Members of the University of Connecticut women's hockey team have been accused of hazing teammates during a "Rookie Night" event last fall.

University officials said they received a hazing complaint last spring and began investigating.

The UConn Office of Community Standards found that hazing took place during an event called "Rookie Night" early last fall, when students engaged in "excessive drinking" and participated in "potentially embarrassing activities," according to the university.

School officials described the situation as an isolated incident and said there is no indication upperclassmen tried to intimidate teammates or encourage them to drink at any other time throughout the year.

The school also said coaches were not aware of Rookie Night.

"The University takes these findings very seriously and took immediate steps to address them," UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said in a statement Thursday.

Reitz added that all students involved in the incident "will be held accountable" according to the code of conduct.

Athletics department staff have already discussed hazing with all student-athletes and will bring in an outside consultant to lead hazing training.

"Further, while there was no information to suggest coaches were aware of Rookie Night, UConn Athletics has reminded its coaching staff to emphasize to their athletes that UConn has a zero-tolerance policy regarding these behaviors; has reviewed and discussed conduct expectations with all student athletes; and will continue to address the dangers of alcohol use generally," Reitz said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Milford Man Exposed Himself to Children on Bus: Police


A Milford man is facing charges after he exposed himself to a coach bus full of children 11 to 13 years old and touching his genitalia as he drove up alongside the bus in the Milford rest area on Interstate 95, state police said.

Robert M. Watts, 51, of Milford, is facing charges of impairing the morals of children, breach of peace and public indecency.

Troopers from State Police Troop G barracks in Bridgeport responded to the rest stop in Bridgeport at 7:49 p.m. on Aug. 19 after receiving a report that man exposed himself to children while he was driving, state police said.

State police identified Watts as the suspect and obtained an arrest warrant from Milford Superior Court. They took Watts into custody and arrested him on the charges mentioned above.

He was scheduled to appear in Milford Superior Court on Thursday.

His bond was set at $50,000.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Cop Made Up Shooting Story


A part-time police officer who claimed to have taken gunfire Wednesday before getting into a fiery car accident with his cruiser completely fabricated the story, police in Massachusetts said Thursday.

The officer, identified by sources as Bryan Johnson of Millis, was scheduled to begin training as a full-time officer. He is now being fired, however, according to police, who have not released the officer's name pending formal charges.

"We have determined that the officer's story was fabricated," said Millis Police Sgt. Bill Dwyer.

Dwyer said other than shots fired by the officer into his own cruiser, no ballistic evidence was recovered at the scene. Based on that and other evidence, it was determined that the officer lied about being shot at by a man in a pickup truck.

Police won't say whether or not he torched his own cruiser, saying that is still under investigation.

"I was totally shocked," said Bruce Miccile, who says he knows Johnson's family well. "No idea why it was done or why he did it."

Miccile says that Johnson grew up with his children. According to Miccile, Johnson seemed "nervous and anxious" Wednesday when he stopped by his house to talk about what had happened.

"I guess he usually stops and asks someone on the side of the road if they need help," he said. "He was going to ask them if they needed help, and all of a sudden two shots were coming through his windshield."

Miccile said he had "no reason" not to believe Johnson, but had to sit down when he heard the news Thursday.

Other neighbors say Johnson lives at a Millis home in a quiet neighborhood with his parents.

"We've lived here for 19 years, and they're just a really really nice family, can't say anything bad about them," Donna O'Brien said.

"They're fabulous people," said Jennifer McPhee. "They've been wonderful neighbors and I think people jump to conclusions very quickly."

Police won't say if Johnson admitted to the alleged plot, but say ballistics evidence from Forest Road shows the shots weren't ever fired by a suspect, and that there never was a gunman around town.

Officials are also not commenting on a possible motive or the officer's prior job performance.

They say he was currently training to become a full-time officer.

Police also say there was two threats called into the Millis Middle School Wednesday, including a bomb threat.

At this time, Millis Police say they don't know if that threat is related to the fabricated shooting report.

Johnson is not in custody at this point. He was not at has his house when necn attempted to reach out for comment. Officials say they are determining what charges may be filed against him.

The incident remains under investigation.

Photo Credit: Facebook

West Nile Virus Found in 19 Connecticut Municipalities


Mosquitoes in 19 Connecticut communities have tested positive for West Nile virus, according to the state Department of Public Health.

The virus has been identified in Bridgeport, Cheshire, Chester, Darien, East Haven, Glastonbury, Greenwich, Groton, Guilford, Hartford, New Haven, Norwalk, Stamford, Stonington, Stratford, Waterford, West Haven, Westport and Wethersfield.

No human cases of West Nile have been reported so far this year.

State health officials are urging residents to take precautions in an effort to avoid contracting the virus.

"The current warm weather provides favorable conditions for the mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus," said Dr. Philip Armstrong, medical entomologist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, in a statement Thursday. "These mosquitoes are most active at nighttime when temperatures are higher than average."

Most people who are infected with West Nile develop a mild illness that may include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting or a skin rash, according to the CAES.

Less frequently, people develop severe illness of the nervous system that can also include neck stiffness, disorientation, loss of consciousness, tremors, muscle weakness and paralysis.

People older than 50 years of age are more likely than younger people to suffer the more severe health consequences if they become infected.

Learn more about West Nile virus and mosquito management:

Cromwell High School Football Player Charged in Hazing Incident


A 16-year-old member of the Cromwell-Portland football team has been charged with breach of peace and hazing in connection with an incident that happened before practice last week, according to police.

Cromwell police said the player walked around the locker room and struck four freshman teammates with a belt before practice at Cromwell High School on Aug. 25.

Another team member turned off the lights and someone told the victims, "this never happened," according to police.

Police said the victims suffered minor injuries, including welts on their bodies. Their parents reported the incident.

Although investigators believe other members of the team were involved in the hazing incident, police said in a news release Thursday "conflicting statements" prevented them from being able to "establish (probable) cause to charge any other team members."

A district source close to the investigation said the head football coach has been placed on leave.

Cromwell and Portland school officials said both districts are investigating the allegations, along with the Department of Children and Families.

"The DCF findings will dictate what further steps and or disciplinary actions will be taken," Cromwell superintendent Dr. Paula Talty said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

Cromwell police said it's the first hazing complaint they've received against the school.

According to the superintendent's office, in 2013, a former track coach posted a video of a team member jumping from a roof with an umbrella as part of a ritual, but the incident wasn't classified as hazing because the student was an upperclassman.

The coach was terminated because of a "lack of good professional judgment."

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Here's How to Help Refugees Like Aylan Kurdi


Aylan Kurdi was the Syrian toddler in the photo of a small lifeless body on a Mediterranean beach that sent shock waves around the world, according to NBC News

The photo was emblematic of the desperate and deadly struggle refugees face to reach Europe.

A friend of the family, Mustafa Ebdi, told NBC News he had spoken to the boys' grieving father, Abdullah. Ebdi said Abdullah told him the family was trying to cross to Greece on Tuesday when their boat capsized and that his wife and two of their children — Aylan and Ghalib — had perished. Abdullah survived. The family was from the countryside outside of Syria's city of Kobani, Ebdi added.

"The things that happened to us here, in the country where we took refuge to escape war in our homeland, we want the whole world to see this," Abdullah told reporters, according to Reuters. "We want the world's attention on us, so that they can prevent the same from happening to others. Let this be the last."

Here's a list compiled by Today.com of organizations trying to help refugees like Alyan Kurdi as the crisis in Europe escalates:

The UN Refugee Agency: Provides cash for medicine and food, stoves and fuel for heating, insulation for tents, thermal blankets and winter clothing.

Save the Children: Supplies food for Syrian kids and supports education in Syrian refugee camps.

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders: MSF is operating three rescue ships in the Mediterranean Sea that can carry hundreds of people to land.

Unicef: Delivers vaccines, winter clothes and food for children in Syria and neighboring countries. The agency is working to immunize more than 22 million children in the region following a polio outbreak.

International Rescue Committee: The group's emergency team is in Greece, where nearly 1,000 people are arriving per day.

World Food Programme: The agency says it is struggling to meet the urgent food needs of millions of displaced Syrians.

Mercy Corps: Refugees are most in need of clean water, sanitation services, temporary shelter and food, the agency says.

Aylan Kurdi & Syria's Child Victims of War: A new fund named after Aylan himself. Money goes to "Hand In Hand For Syria," a U.K. based organization that works with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Photo Credit: AP

Drought Conditions Leave Orchards Dry


The summer of 2015 will be remembered as a dry one for farmers and growers across the state.

Rainfall was short more than 5 inches over the summer, and it had an impact on orchards all over Connecticut.

"It’s really bad. We haven’t had any rain," said Mary Concklin, a fruit specialist at UConn who works with growers around the state.

She said the lack of rain and increased sun exposure leads to an effect that actually isn't a bad thing for pickers.

"With all of the sunshine we’re getting, the carbohydrates turn over to sugar faster so the fruit is sweeter, which is a big positive," she said.

Sandi Rose, who owns and operates Rose's Berry Farm in Glastonbury, said the lack of water leads to new expenses in order to irrigate her 80 acres.

"It costs money to pay for gas and propane to irrigate this much land," she said. "Blueberries need an inch a week minimum and I have 40 acres of blueberries."

Rose hopes for rain before the weather turns cold to avoid potentially damaging disease to her orchard.

"They’re spreading fruit for next year so everything is a continuum," she said. "We always have to worry about the next year and how the crops are going to get through the winter and they need to be strong to do that."

Arizona Teen Arrested for Snapchat School Shooting Threat


An Arizona high school student was arrested after posting a Snapchat image of a crowded school hallway with the message "planning the school shooting," police said.

The 16-year-old student, who was not identified by police because he is a minor, posted two photos to his Snapchat account of a crowded school hallway on Aug. 31, one with the text "Planning the school shooting" along with several smiley faces and another with the caption "In the office again," the Phoenix Police Department said in a statement.

Kaylee, a high school student in Colorado, saw the first message on the popular social media app, but said she did not know who the student was.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images
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East Haven Promotes First Black Female Detectives


When the mayor of East Haven swore in three new detectives Thursday, asking them if they promise to enforce the law fairly, it marked another step in the police department's progress.

The three police officers, Monique Colbert, Shirley Conyers and Jeffrey Vailette, become detectives effective Monday.

The city continues to leave behind its days of harassment of Hispanic residents and pressure on a priest, the behavior that brought the federal justice department down hard on East Haven police.

Now these detective badges mean promotions for two black women, the city's first black female detectives.

"It's always a big thing in policing. I tell people women in policing are like gold – they're hard to find, they're very hard to find – and we've got exceptional ones around here, exceptional," East Haven Police Chief Brent Larrabee told the new detectives' families and friends.

More than half the faces on the East Haven police force have changed during what the chief calls "a long struggle for this police department."

"Four years ago, who knew we would be in this position today?" said East Haven Mayor Joe Maturo. "This department has become one of the best small departments in our nation. Ferguson calls us, other departments call us up when they're having problems. We are the model for the nation right now."

'Suspicious Explosive' in Enfield Turns Out to Be Fireworks


"Suspicious explosive activity" that prompted police to evacuate homes in Enfield on Thursday turned out to be a 16-year-old with an unwrapped firework, according to police.

Enfield police said officers were called to a home on Spring Street around 4 p.m. after the teen got into a fight with his father. They found the 16-year-old with what appeared to be a suspicious device and contacted the fire department and state police bomb squad.

The device turned out to be sparkler-type fireworks. Police said the teen had unwrapped them.

Neighbors were evacuated to a nearby activity center while police investigated.

Enfield police said it took authorities about three hours to resolve the incident. Crews cleared the scene around 6:45 p.m.

It's not clear if police will file charges. Authorities are still investigating.

Investigators Hope Video Holds Clues in Fox Lake Manhunt


Officials on Friday are expected to review home surveillance video a resident claims may aid in a search for three suspects believed to have killed a veteran Fox Lake police officer this week. 

News of the video first surfaced during a Thursday press conference when officials said during a press conference that the "significant" footage had been turned over to the Department of Homeland Security for verification.

Details surrounding what was on the footage weren't immediately clear, but Lake County Major Crimes Task Force Commander George Filenko said the resident who turned it in claimed it is consistent with the story about three suspects. 

"We are making some progress, some significant progress today," he said.

Footage from the video could be released later Friday. 

Filenko said the three suspects accused of killing Lieutenant Charles "Joe" Gliniewicz are believed to still be in the area, about 60 miles north of Chicago, and authorities say they've made "significant progress" in their search.

"Obviously we have a lot of transportation means in this area — trains, cars, buses — we’re still working off the fact that we’re presuming there’s a good probability that they are still somewhere in the area," Filenko said. "Now whether they're in Fox Lake or any of the surrounding border communities that remains to be seen."

Filenko confirmed the officer’s gun was recovered, but he didn't say if it was retrieved at the scene, or used in the shooting.

The gunmen are described as two white men and one black man, but further details on their descriptions have not been made available.

Officials expect lab results on evidence gathered at the crime scene to be released as early as Friday morning.

More than 100 officers were canvassing the Fox Lake area Thursday, revisiting areas and searching new territories.

The updates came after a "disappointing" night for authorities, when more than 100 officers spent about five hours searching an area following a tip that was determined to be fake.

"[Wednesday] night was an unfortunate incident," Filenko said. "It tied up a number of resources, including my detectives."

Detective Christopher Covelli with the Lake County Sheriff's office said the response shows the Fox Lake community that officers are working to keep them safe. 

"It really shows that we are here and we are active in this community," he said. "We are active to keep the residents in this community safe... Things will never be quite normal here in Fox Lake with the death of Lt. Gliniewicz."

Residents, family members and officers from Fox Lake and surrounding communities gathered Wednesday night for an emotional vigil to honor Gliniewicz, a 30-year veteran of the police force affectionately called "G.I. Joe." A funeral has been scheduled for Monday in Antioch, Illinois. 

Biden Says Family Will Decide on Presidential Run


Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday night he "will not hesitate" to run for president next year — but only if his family is up to it.

"I'll be straightforward with you: The most relevant factor in my decision is whether my family and I have the emotional energy to run," Biden said during an appearance at a synagogue in Atlanta.

Biden's son Beau, the former attorney general of Delaware, died of brain cancer in May at age 46.

Biden said that while other issues were a concern — particularly whether he could build a strong campaign and raise money — the only question that matters is, "Can my family undertake an arduous commitment they would be proud to undertake under ordinary circumstances?" 

Photo Credit: AP

House Catches Fire in Washington


Fire departments and ambulances responded to 210 New Milford Turnpike in Washington when the home caught fire Thursday night, according to emergency dispatchers.

Dispatchers said the fire was reported around 10:50 p.m. Crews were still at the scene as of 11:30.

It's not clear if anyone was hurt. No additional information was immediately available.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: Monica Garske

Beach in Oxford Closed Amid Testing for Blue-Green Algae


Oxford's Jackson Cove Beach will be closed to swimming through Labor Day Weekend while officials test the water for blue-green algae.

The park and playground will remain open, but the water is off-limits to swimmers, according to an announcement posted on the Oxford Parks and Recreation website. Kayaking and boating is still permitted as long as residents avoid touching the water.

"Stay away from dried algae on the sand near the water," officials wrote. "It is toxic."

Town officials are also warning beach-goers to keep pets out of the water. Dogs are especially at risk, according to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Blue-green algae, which is also known as cyanobacteria, occurs naturally in lakes and ponds throughout the state. While the microscopic organisms cause no harm, blue-green algae blooms can release toxins and people and animals using the water for recreation can be affected.

Swimming areas at two Connecticut state parks are also closed because of blue-green algae blooms.

Learn more about blue-green algae from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Photo Credit: AP
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