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Transportation Officials Mull I-84 Shutdown in Hartford


State transportation officials are brainstorming ways to improve the heavily traveled section of Interstate 84 in Hartford, a project that's still years away but could mean big traffic changes.

"Normally, we’d try to maintain traffic flow during the course of construction, but there have been opportunities most recently in Connecticut where we have been able to accelerate construction and have some impacts of shorter duration," Richard Armstrong, a principal engineer with the Connecticut Department of Transportation, said of shutting down I-84 while improvements take place.

Armstrong described the possibility of shutting down the viaduct and all traffic on I-84 through Hartford as a "long shot."

Department of Transportation officials said there are four primary options for the future of the highway in Hartford: leave the traffic pattern untouched, make the highway a tunnel through downtown, lower the highway or build a new elevated structure.

Any proposal, according to Armstrong, requires study and will also demand patience from commuters.

"We need to really explore all possibilities, and I think the exploration is what we’re talking about. No final decisions for quite a while," Armstrong said.

I-84 carries an estimated 175,000 cars through Hartford every day.

With that kind of volume, Rocky Hill Rep. Tony Guerrera, who chairs the General Assembly's Transportation Committee, said there are politics to be considered.

Guerrera describes the situation as a "catch-22" for taxpayers and commuters.

"If we do close it, we’re going to get push back on it. If we don’t, the project could last from five to six years and we hear complaints every day. So you can’t have it both ways," Guerrera said. "That’s the construction industry out there. There’s no perfect way of doing it."

He said he's heard from constituents loud and clear that they want better roads and bridges, and they support the governor's 30-year, $100-billion plan to improve the state's transportation system.

"We need to build an infrastructure in this state that can move people form point A to point B in the quickest amount of time, so they’re not held up in traffic," he said.

For now, any talk of a shutdown is early at best, according to Armstrong. He said officials are gauging how people may feel about such a drastic proposal, likely years before any shovels would be in the ground.

Armstrong said the public has been supportive of such ideas in the past.

"A lot of the public seems to find that they’re willing to live with temporary impacts if we can get our job done that much sooner," he said.

Freed Ky. Clerk to Supporters: 'Keep Pressing'


An emotional Kentucky clerk spoke to a large crowd gathered outside the jail from which she was released Tuesday, amid the controversy over her refusal to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

"We serve a living God who knows exactly where each and everyone stands," said Kim Davis, who was introduced by presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. "Keep pressing, don't let down because he is here."

U.S. District Judge David Bunning warned in a court document that Davis, the Rowan County Clerk, should not interfere with the licenses that her deputies have been granting since she was jailed last week for defying court orders. 

Davis, 49, has spurned repeated court orders to allow same-sex marriage licenses. She has said granting the licenses would violate her Christian beliefs. 

Standing with a visibly emotional Davis, her attorney, Mathew Staver, told reporters outside the jail that she would not violate her conscience when she returned to work. “She loves God, she loves people, she loves her work and she will not betray any of these three."

Photo Credit: NBC News
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Springfield Murder Suspect Caught in New London


A man wanted for murder in Springfield, Massachusetts, was caught Tuesday afternoon in New London, prompting two brief school lockdowns.

Police said Ricardo Valentin-Santos, 24, was spotted in the area of 146 Connecticut Avenue in New London around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Officers and detectives flocked to the area, along with U.S. Marshals, and chased Valentin-Santos through a backyard before taking him into custody, according to police.

Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School and the Jennings School were locked down for about 20 minutes while authorities responded to the scene.

Valentin-Santos has been charged in New London as a fugitive from justice.

Police have not released details of the murder case out of Springfield.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Ansonia Police Department to Receive Body Cameras


The Ansonia Board of Aldermen unanimously approved the police department's request for 25 body cameras at a meeting Tuesday night.

Police should receive the cameras by the end of the year, according to the board.

The cameras will be funded in part by a $30,000 grant. The department will cover the rest, which will amount to between $5,000 and $8,000 during the first year.

The police department will pay in full over the next four years, the board said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Thief Stakes Out Dunkin' Donuts, Holds Knife to Worker's Back


Police are searching for the man who staked out a Dunkin Donuts in Watertown and robbed employees at knifepoint as they were getting ready to open the store Tuesday morning.

According to police, the robber waited outside the Dunkin Donuts at 1174 Main Street in Watertown until an employee arrived around 3:40 a.m. Tuesday.

He then grabbed her while she was walking into the store and held a knife to her back. Once inside, he ordered the employee and a coworker to the ground and went behind the counter. Police said he forced the second worker to open the safe.

The thief got away with an undisclosed amount of money. Police said no one was hurt during the robbery, although the robber threatened to use the kitchen knife he wielded.

Investigators are asking for help in tracking down the culprit. Police said he was clad in all black and was wearing a hood and mask over his face, along with a pair of black gloves and a large silver watch on his left hand. He appeared to have a bruise, scab or mole unde rhis left eye.

Anyone with information is asked to call Watertown police at 860-945-5200 or Crimestoppers at 860-945-9940.

Photo Credit: Watertown Police Department

Friends and Family Mourn Waterbury Teen Killed in Bicycle Crash


Family and friends are remembering a Waterbury teenager who died after crashing into a car while riding his bicycle Tuesday morning.

Alex Suarez, 14, was riding his bike down a steep hill on Cooke Street in Waterbury just after 5 a.m. Tuesday.

Police said he sped through a blinking red light at the intersection of Chase Avenue and collided with a car traveling through a flashing yellow light.

Alex was not wearing a helmet and suffered a serious head injury, according to police. He was pronounced dead at Waterbury Hospital.

His family and friends gathered at the scene Tuesday evening, shedding tears and leaving candles and balloons.

"It's just hard to believe. It's such a tragedy, a 14-year-old kid having died such a violent way," said Alex's uncle, Fred Vargas.

Police said the driver stopped and did what he could to help. He is not expected to face criminal charges in connection with the crash.

Authorities said they hope others will learn from the tragedy.

"You have to pay attention to the traffic when you're riding a bicycle. You have to be responsible and you have to follow the same rules of the road as a car does," said Waterbury police spokesman Deputy Chief Fernando Spagnolo.

Alex was an eighth-grade student at North End Middle School where grief counselors will be available to help students cope.

"I got a text; it was like, 'He's gone,' and it just broke my heart," said Devynne Wilson, a friend of Alex's.

Police said their investigation into the tragedy continues.

"He had everything going for him and he didn't deserve to die this way," said Vargas.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com/Submitted

Mulch Fire in Rocky Hill


 Firefighters are responding to a mulch fire at 2264 Silas Dean Highway in Rocky Hill.

There is a report that a handicapped ramp between the mulch on fire as well.

No additional information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBC 7

Police Respond to Motorcycle Crash in Meriden

Firefighters Respond to Fire in Bridgeport

Ariz. Freeway Shootings Are 'Terrorism': Police


Authorities are treating a spate of shootings targeting cars and drivers along Interstate 10 in Arizona as "terrorism," state police said Tuesday after a ninth incident in 10 days, NBC News reported.

"Any time you have multiple shootings against American citizens on a highway, that's terrorism. They're trying to frighten or kill somebody," said Arizona Director of Public Safety Colonel Frank Milstead.

He confirmed officers were investigating nine crimes — five shootings and four other incidents involving some sort of projectile — but stopped short of saying that there was a serial shooter. A $20,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest. he said.

TV Camerawoman Fired After Tripping Migrants


A TV camerawoman has been fired after she was caught on video kicking and tripping migrants entering Hungary across the border with Serbia, NBC News reported. 

Hungary's N1TV Internet channel said their employee, widely identified in Hungarian media as Petra Laszlo, has been dismissed because she "behaved unacceptably" at a makeshift gathering point for migrants.

In videos posted online, Laszlo can be seen kicking at least one migrant in a group trying to break through police lines and tripping a man carrying a small child while also running from police.

N1TV editor-in-chief Szabolcs Kisberk said in a statement late Tuesday that the dismissal was immediate. 

Photo Credit: AP
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Crashes Slow Commute Across Connecticut


Interstate 395 South has reopened in Montville after a five-car crash before exit 79 and this is just one of several crashes causing a mess of the morning commute.

There are heavy delays on I-395, but no information was immediately available on injuries.

State police have been on Interstate 95 North in Old Lyme for more than an hour after a box truck crashed between exits 70 and 71, causing heavy delays to the Baldwin Bridge. Police believe the truck hit a bridge abutment near the Whippoorwill Road overpass and said there is a fuel spill.

A breakdown in the center lane of Interstate 95 South at exit 17 in Westport is causing delays, as is a crash on the southbound side of the Merritt Parkway at exit 34 in Stamford.

Others are causing delays on Interstate 91 South in New Haven, Interstate 84 East in Waterbury and on Route 9 in Berlin and Middletown.

There are three crashes on I-91 South in New Haven at exit 1 and there are stop-and-go delays from exit 9.

Traffic is stopped on the upper deck of the Mixmaster on I-84 East in Waterbury. There are delays from exit 17.

A three-car crash has blocked the left lane of Route 9 South in Berlin at exit 22m while a crash on the onramp to Route 9 North at exit 12 in Middletown is causing delays.

Police responded to a crash and brush fire along I-84 East in New Britain between exits 36 and 37.  

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation Cameras

Police Investigate East Hartford Shooting


Police are investigating a shooting on Harmony Street in East Hartford.

Police said the victim was shot in a car and a friend drove him to Hartford Hospital, where he is in stable condition.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Injuries Reported in Crash Involving DOT Truck


A state Department of Transportation truck that transported prisoners to pick up trash on Route 2 in Glastonbury has been involved in a crash and injuries are reported.

State police said the inmates were outside the truck and picking up trash when the crash happened near exit 10. The injuries are not serious, according to state police.

The left lane is closed.

'Did You Hurt Mom?': Missing Couple's Son Changed His Story


The son of a missing southwestern Connecticut couple changed his story multiple times when asked what happened the day his parents vanished, according to the warrant for his arrest on a federal weapons charge.

Text messages reveal Kyle Navin's father, Jeffrey, suspected him of hurting his mother, Jeanette. Jeffrey also thought his son was framing him for Jeanette's murder, the affidavit indicates. Both parents are now missing.

The details are the latest to surface in a bizarre and puzzling case.

Jeffrey, 56, and Jeanette Navin, 55, of Easton, Connecticut, have been missing for more than a month. Investigators believe Jeanette disappeared around 8:45 a.m. Aug. 4, while Jeffrey vanished several hours later.

Sources close to the investigation have said the couple's son, Kyle, 27, is a person of interest in their disappearance. A relative thinks he was the last person to see them.

Kyle Navin is now facing a federal gun charge. According to the warrant for his arrest, investigators found two guns, ammunition and a large amount of prescription drugs and heroin in his home on Aldine Avenue in Bridgeport.

They also found a receipt from Home Depot dated Aug. 5 -- the day after Jeffrey and Jeanette disappeared -- for germicidal bleach, "Goo Gone" stain remover, a chemical to unclog drains and contractor cleanup bags, according to the affidavit.

Investigators said Kyle sat down for three interviews with police on Aug. 9, 11 and 13 and provided three different accounts of what happened the day his parents disappeared.

He also allegedly lied to police about the kind of conversations he had with his parents that day.

During one interview, Kyle Navin told police he never discussed his mother's safety. But cellphone records show Kyle and Jeffrey texted about it on Aug. 4, after Jeanette had stopped answering her phone, according to the affidavit.

During the exchange, Jeffrey accused his son of harming Jeanette and framing him for her murder. The arrest warrant includes the following transcript of their conversation:

Jeffrey Navin: I’m not going home till I know mom is okay
Jeffrey Navin: Did you hurt mom?
Kyle Navin: No absolutely not. Why would you think
Jeffrey Navin: I go home and get framed for murder
Kyle Navin: Oh stop
Jeffrey Navin: I’m going to the police first

Jeffrey then allegedly wrote to his son, "U R setting me up."

Investigators said Jeffrey placed his last phone call less than 10 minutes later.

Jeffrey and Jeanette's phones have since been turned off. They were last used in the area of a cell tower at 2600 Park Avenue in Bridgeport, near Kyle's home, the affidavit reveals.

"The cell site activity and text messages exchanged between (Kyle) Navin and Jeffrey on Aug. 4, 2015, do not accord with (Kyle) Navin’s statements to law enforcement," authorities wrote in the affidavit.

Late last month, investigators scoured a 186-acre site used to dump ash from the state's waste-to-energy plants but did not uncover any human remains.

Kyle Navin has not been charged in connection with his parents' disappearance. It's not clear if he has an attorney.

Read the full arrest warrant here.

Several Schools to Dismiss Early Again Today Due to Heat


Dozens of schools across the state sent students home early Tuesday as temperatures reached record highs, and many will dismiss early again today.

While temperatures are expected to come down a bit, humidity levels will increase a bit, making the apparent temperature or heat index even higher.

As of 6:45 a.m., there are more than 40 early dismissals.

The mercury climbed to 94 degrees in Bridgeport on Tuesday, breaking the Sept. 8 record of 90, which was set in 2010, and sliding into second place for the warmest September temperature on record.

The temperature reached 96 degrees in Windsor Locks, breaking the day's record of 95 in the Hartford area, which was set in 2007.

Cooling centers have opened in Hartford as a result, and Southington residents are being asked to conserve water.

It's the first time the hottest day of the year has fallen in September, or outside of the meteorological summer, since 1983, according to First Alert Meteorologist Ryan Hanrahan.

Heat waves in September are unusual. If the mercury reaches 90 degrees on Wednesday, this will be the first September heat wave in Connecticut since Sept. 7, 1983.

Check for the latest updates on school closings here.

Route 68 Closed at Route 10 in Cheshire


Route 68 was closed Wednesday night at Route 10/South Main Street in Cheshire while crews cleaned up after a crash, according to police.

Police said injuries were not serious.

No additional information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Al Qaeda Magazine Targets Buffet, Bloomberg


A notorious Al Qaeda magazine is encouraging lone-wolf terrorist attacks on U.S. economic leaders, including, Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, and Warren Buffet, NBC News reported. 

The magazine article begins with a photo illustration showing blood-spattered pictures of several leaders next to a dripping gun. 

"Economic personalities" and "wealthy entrepreneurs" can get off the "list" by withdrawing all money from U.S. banks and investing outside of America, and denouncing Israel support, the magazine says.

"There is compelling evidence from the Boston Marathon bombings and other various thwarted terror plots that homegrown jihadists have specifically looked to the magazine for guidance on what targets to attack — and have taken that advice quite literally," Evan Kohlmann of Flashpoint Intelligence, an NBC News counterterrorism analyst, said about the magazine's content.

Photo Credit: AP

Election Officials to Require Certification


Connecticut's secretary of the state announced Wednesday that all registrars of voters in Connecticut will have to take classes and pass exams in order to carry out elections.

Registrars will have to complete the new certification within two years. Local governments will pay for the $1,600 course.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said Connecticut has never had any kind of uniform election training system before.

"There’s really been no direct way particularly to train new people, except it's more of a buddy system where people will go to more established registrars and ask for how to do the job or perhaps the former one would teach them how the ropes were," Merrill explained.

There are 339 registrars of voters in Connecticut.

The push for registrar reform came following Election Day 2014 when Hartford's registrars failed to have polling locations ready when the polls were supposed to open. Many waited in long lines and even left without casting ballots.

Lawmakers approved election changes this year.

State election officials said the certification system could bring clarity to systems that have varied across the state for a long time.

"Election law could be really complex and this will allow for a new, formal process whereby a new registrar who’s coming in is educated in the law and understand the roles and hopefully will cut down on cases that we see," said State Elections Enforcement Commission Director Michael Brandi.

Merrill does have the authority under extreme circumstances to remove a local election official but said she doesn't view the new system as a way to exercise that power.

"This provides us a way to get everybody on the same page. That’s the way I think of it. I am not that focused on punitively removing people if they don’t pass the test," she said. "We’re going to do everything we can to get everything through the process."

Online courses begin next Monday for registrars.

Militarized Police Becomes Issue in Mayoral Race


The issue of armed and militarized police came up during the most recent Hartford mayoral debate.

Voters head to the polls next week.

Mayor Pedro Segarra said has he is against militarized police as seen over the past year in places like Ferguson and Baltimore.

Today, Luke Bronin's campaign challenged the mayor by posting a collage of photos of weaponized all-terrain vehicles with the caption, "At ACLU debate, you objected to police militarization, did you OK Hartford getting one of these?"

The Hartford Police Department does have an armored vehicle, but the vehicle does not have any weaponry attached and has seldom been used.

The mayor said such a social media post from his challenger doesn't help conversations about improving the way city residents work with law enforcement.

"We don’t have a vehicle like that, and it’s not a good way to build community-police relationships," said Segarra. "It brings fear into people."

Bronin said such a vehicle doesn't serve a purpose in Hartford.

If, as mayor, he couldn't get rid of the vehicle, Bronin said he would task police with being very specific about ways the vehicle was deployed.

"You have to make sure there is a clear policy in place for how and when things like that could be used," he explained.

Segarra said the vehicle is not something the police department gravitates toward, and reiterated it has no capability to harm as a weapon.

"It’s not a weaponized vehicle. It’s a transport vehicle," Segarra said. "It has rarely been used and it’s not our preference to use those types of vehicles."

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