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Arsonist Targets 7th St. Louis Church in 2 Weeks


A suspected arsonist targeted a seventh St. Louis-area church Thursday morning, authorities said, NBC News reported. 

Firefighters responded to the Shrine of St. Joseph just after 1:30 a.m. The front doors of the rectory had been burned with a small amount of accelerant, the St. Louis Fire Department said in a news release. The rectory was empty at the time and there were no reported injuries.

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said the fire appears similar to the other recent arsons in the St. Louis area in which only the front doors of churches were burned.

While the Shrine of St. Joseph has a mostly white congregation, many of the other churches are predominantly black, according to NBC affiliate KSDK. No known motive has been suggested by authorities. 

Photo Credit: KSDK

U.S. Commando Killed in ISIS Hostages Rescue


A young American commando was killed when U.S. special operations forces conducted an operation to free dozens of hostages who faced imminent execution by ISIS in Iraq, U.S. officials said Thursday.

The commando was the first service member to die in combat operations against the militant group.

U.S. special operations forces rescued 70 hostages after receiving intelligence that there was about to be a mass execution, U.S. officials told NBC News.

There were varied reports on who the rescued hostages were: Kurdish fighters, Iraqi fighters, or a mix of those and other groups.

It is the first publicly-acknowledged mission of U.S. special operations forces conducted in Iraq since President Barack Obama sought authorization from Congress in February for "limited" ground combat operations against ISIS.

Photo Credit: File/Getty Images

Suspicious Lebanon Fire Under Investigation


The state fire marshal is investigating a suspicious two-alarm fire in Lebanon on Thursday morning.

Fire broke out at 71 Carriage Drive around 1:30 a.m. and the house, as well as the structure in back, were engulfed in flames when firefighters.

Lieutenant Jay Schall, of the Lebanon Fire Department, said the fire started somewhere in the back and moved its way to the front. The actual origin is still under investigation.

“The conditions aren't too bad, there's not a lot of wind, but there was heavy fire involved with that structure, so for it to move and extend to the house is not out of the realm of possibilities," Schall said.

Nicole Parker, a neighbor, said a gazebo was on fire and power lines were sparking because of it.

"My neighbor was freaking out because his propane tank was close to it, so it was pretty stressful,"  Parker said

Firefighters were able to get the blaze under control in around an hour, with help from six additional departments that were called in.

Crews had to use trucks to bring in water from Lake Williams because of a lack of hydrants in the area.

“Water supply was initiated in the first 20 minutes and was continuously running throughout the entire incident. I think the early estimate was 18,000 gallons of water were used to fight the fire,” Lt. Jay Schall said.

Two people were in the house and did not get hurt.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Cooler, Seasonable Weather Ahead


One last day of 70 degree weather is upon us, for the foreseeable future at least. An evening cold front will bring a return to reality for late October.

High temperatures will be in the lower 70s this afternoon with a blend of clouds and sun. A few rain showers will move through this evening. It will be breezy with gusts to 20 mph.

Tomorrow's a much cooler day. Temperatures only rise into the lower to upper 50s, though it will be mostly sunny. The change will be noticeable.

The pick of the weekend is Saturday. Plenty of sunshine is expected and there can be some high clouds, especially later in the day. Temperatures will be in the lower to upper 50s.

Sunday's not as pleasant because another cold front comes through the state. There will be a respectable amount of cloud cover in the morning with a few showers. However, it does look like rapid improvement arrives in the afternoon.

Dry, mostly sunny weather dominates early next week.

Injuries Reported in Crash on I-95 South in Norwalk


Injuries are reported in a crash that briefly closed Interstate 95 South in Norwalk on Thursday morning.

The multivehicle crash is at exit 16.

One lane is getting by, but there are delays from Fairfield.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation

Vladimir Putin's Approval Rating Soars in Russia


Russian President Vladimir Putin is quite popular in his home country. 

The Russian leader enjoys a nearly 90 percent approval rating according to a nationwide poll published Thursday, NBC News reports. 

Pollsters in Russia credit his high ratings to military moves in Syria.


"Such high approval rating of the president of Russia had to do mostly with the events in Syria, [and] Russian airstrikes on terrorist positions," VTsIOM said on its website.

The poll surveyed 1,600 people and had a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points. 

Photo Credit: AP

Trump Says He'd Close Mosques to Fight ISIS


Donald Trump's comments suggesting he would be open to shutting down U.S. mosques if a worshiper is linked to ISIS are being condemned as "un-American" and "un-presidential."

When asked by Fox Business Channel's Stuart Varney whether he agreed with British Prime Minister David Cameron's proposal earlier this week to close "extremist" mosques, Trump said, "I would do that, absolutely."

Varney questioned the legality of Trump's response: "Can you close a mosque? We do have religious freedom."

"It depends," Trump said, "if the mosque is, you know, loaded for bear."

In a statement Wednesday, the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) asked the GOP frontrunner to better explain his definition of "extremism" and to elaborate on the criteria his administration would use to close any house of worship.

"Donald Trump's apparent willingness to close down American mosques that he deems 'extreme' is totally incompatible with the Constitution and our nation's cherished principle of religious freedom," CAIR's government affairs department manager Robert McCaw said in the statement.

The statement went on to point out: "Even Rep. Peter King of New York, who has often been criticized for his Islamophobic views, condemned Trump's remarks."

Last month, Trump was criticized by Muslim groups for his failure to challenge a supporter who said, "We have a problem in this country. It's called Muslims."

The presidential contender has drawn the ire of various groups since officially launching his campaign in June. During his presidential run kick-off speech, Trump said Mexican immigrants are "rapists," among other things. He refused to apologize.

In August, Trump said in an interview with NBC's Chuck Todd, that if elected, he would reverse President Barack Obama's executive orders on immigration and deport all undocumented immigrants.

Photo Credit: AP

$4,800 Bottle of Wine Stolen from Mystic Restaurant


A nearly $5,000 bottle of Bordeaux disappeared from a Mystic restaurant and police have released surveillance video of the man they think stole it.

The surveillance video from the Octagon Steakhouse, at the Mystic Marriott, in Groton, taken around 2:15 p.m. on Monday, shows a man pace back and forth in the empty dining room a few times, then walk into the wine room.

Staff later discovered that a bottle of 1990 Chateau Petrus was gone. 

In 2014, a case containing 12 bottles of the wine sold at a Sotheby’s wine auction in New York for $45,938, according to Bloomberg.

Police ask anyone with information about the wine theft to call Officer Wilczek at 860-441-6712 and refer to case 15-2921-OF or submit a tip online

Photo Credit: Groton Police
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Ambassador Uses 'Harold & Kumar' Pic in Tweet About Terrorists


Russia's Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Alexander Yakovenko, gained unexpected attention Wednesday morning after he posted a tweet that was critical of United States' policy in Iraq.

"US threatens to stop helping Iraq against ISIL if Baghdad asks Russia for help. The terrorists must be rejoicing," Yakovenko tweeted, and included a photo that showed a bearded man in a turban laughing.

Actor and former White House official Kal Penn pointed out on Twitter that the image is actually a scene from the 2008 stoner comedy "Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay." Penn played Kumar Patel, an Indian American character, donning a fake beard, wig and turban, and joking about being a terrorist.

Penn thanked the ambassador in a tweet with an image of Ivan Drago, a fictional Russian character played by Swedish actor Dolph Lundgren from the 1985 film, "Rocky IV."

Man Robbed Webster Bank in Waterbury


Police are searching for the man who robbed the Webster Bank at 326 Highland Ave. in Waterbury, just before 9:30 a.m. on Thursday.

A man wearing dark jeans, a dark hoodie, a Yankees cap and mirrored sunglasses gave a note to the teller indicating he had a weapon, but never pulled one on staff, police said.

The robbery was reported just before 9:30 a.m. and the robber ran north, toward Chase Park on Highland Avenue, police said.

No one was injured during the robbery.

A search for the robber is underway and state police were called in to bring tacking dogs and help find the man.

Anyone with information should call Waterbury Police at (203) 574-6941.

Photo Credit: Waterbury Police

1-Year-Old Gets Chemo Overdose: Dad


Battling a rare form of cancer was already taking a toll on Issac Harrison and his family.

One month shy of his first birthday, Isaac is now fighting to survive an overdose of chemotherapy his father said was administered by the Philadelphia hospital where Isaac was diagnosed and initially treated.

"It’s like a nightmare," Kwamane Harrison said, adding his son’s cancer is so rare, doctors told him no one else in the city has it.

Since there have only been six known cases in medical history, doctors said they would have to come up with their own formula for treatment, according to Harrison.

One doctor told the family Isaac may only live a week after being diagnosed.

That was in late August.

Isaac began chemotherapy at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, where Harrison said his son was given 10 times the dose of chemotherapy he was supposed to get. That went on for five days, according to Harrison.

"They said this was one of the biggest medical mistakes in 35 years," said Harrison, whose son is now fighting under the care of doctors at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. "He goes through all of these pains, losing hair, crying excessively from all the pain he’s going through."

A spokeswoman for St. Christopher’s Hospital said she couldn't respond specifically to the family's concerns, citing privacy laws. "It remains the focus of St. Chrisopher's Hospital for Children to provide high-quality care to every patient we serve," Kelsey Jacobsen said.

A letter provided by the Harrison family, allegedly from hospital officials, states: 

"Isaac was being treated for a very unusual and serious cancer. The calculation done was inaccurate, resulting in Isaac receiving more chemotherapy than he should have. 

"This complication is a cause for great regret."

Documents from the Harrison family include a Final Report detailing how hospital staff discovered Isaac was given 10x the daily dose of chemotherapy intended due to "a typographic error." Doctors at St. Christopher's called CHOP to begin the transfer process for Isaac.

Isaac is the youngest of five children.

"Nobody wants to hear their child has cancer," Harrison said. "Every day that passes, he's blessed."

Photo Credit: Family Photo
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Life Star Requested After Coventry Crash


A car hit a tree on South Road in Coventry and Life Star medical transport helicopter has been requested.

Police said they crash happened in the area of 705 South Road.

No information was immediately available on injuries and it’s not clear if the road is closed.

Children Across Hartford Take Part in National Reading Campaign


Children across the city of Hartford took part in a national celebration of reading Thursday morning, called “Jump Start Read For the Record.”

The campaign brings community members into classrooms around the country to read the same book to children and this year’s book is “Not Norman,” a story about a little boy and his goldfish.

“We have volunteers going to every single first grade classroom in every single Hartford public school. They’re there to encourage reading and how important literacy is in your life,” said Laura Giannitti, the literacy coach at Kinsella Magnet School.

The school hosted a kickoff celebration for this year’s event.

After Read for the Record event comes to an end, “Not Norman” will remain in classrooms across Hartford and become a part of the year’s reading curriculum.

“They’ll use the activities to broaden the book itself and they’ll connect it to other literature that they’re reading,” Dr. Dolores Cole, executive director of Early Literacy for Hartford Public Schools, said.

More than 1,600 first graders in Hartford heard the story on Thursday. This is the tenth year of this national campaign which will reach about two million children nationwide.

“By having all these adults come in and read to them, it not only promotes the importance of reading but lets them know that its joyful,” Supt. Dr. Beth Schiavino-Narvaez said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

New Haven Police Chief Invited to Meet President Obama


New Haven Police Chief Dean Esserman is in Washington for a meeting with other law enforcement officials on reducing crime and incarceration reduction and has been invited to meet with President Barack Obama.

Esserman has been participating in meetings during a gathering of police chiefs, sheriffs and prosecutors at the Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration group and is part of
a small group invited to a two hour-meeting at the White House with the president.

“I am proud, as always, to represent the New Haven Police Department and follow Mayor Toni Harp to the White House,” Esserman said in a statement.

“We have long been recognized as a progressive community policing agency that through hard work and a focus on fairness, has dramatically reduced crime while at the same time respected the importance of legitimacy and dignity for all,” he said. “We know that being right on crime is being smart on crime; putting the right people in prison – those who commit violent crime, and seeking other solutions for those who can be treated out of prison.”

Suffield Fire House Not Safe After Crash: Police


A man crashed into the Station 3 fire house in Suffield on Wednesday night and no one is allowed inside the building because the structure is not safe, according to the police department.

Officials said the driver veered off the road in the area of 3 Copper Hill Road after almost hitting another car and struck the fire house on Copper Hill Road. On Wednesday night, investigators said they are trying to determine whether the driver was intoxicated.

The man, who might be and in his 70s, was transported to the hospital to be treated for minor injuries, investigators said. 

The driver of the car the man almost hit called 911 and saw the crash, police said.

There were no other injuries, but there was substantial damage to the building.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Falls Into Trash Chute at Norwalk Dump


A man was injured when he fell into a trash chute at the dump in Norwalk just before 10 a.m. on Thursday morning.

The man was emptying trash from his van and fell 15 feet from the unloading area into the trash chute that leads to a dumpster at the Trash Transfer Station at 61 Crescent Street, according to the fire department.

When firefighters arrived, staff from the transfer station had already pulled him from the dumpster.

Paramedics transported him to Norwalk Hospital and his injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

Photo Credit: Norwalk Fire Department

Bicycle and Truck Crash Reported in Torrington


Police are responding to East Albert Street and Oak Avenue in Torrington for what is a reported as a crash involving a truck and a bicycle.

Police said the crash was reported at 3:09 p.m. and the road is closed in the immediate area.

No additional information was immediately available.

Police Arrest East Windsor Bank Robbery Suspect


Police have arrested a suspect in a robbery at First Niagara Bank in East Windsor on Thursday morning.

Police responded to the First Niagara Bank branch at 122 Prospect Hill Road at 10:40 a.m. after receiving a 911 call reporting a robbery in progress and learned that the robber claimed to have a weapon and demanded money from the teller, then ran toward the highway, police said.

A description of the robber went out over the police radio and officers who responded to the area saw a man with a similar description running west on Bridge Street.

Officer Szabo pulled his gun and ordered the suspect to the ground. Then, State Trooper Sean Mahar arrived and helped handcuff the man.

Police identified the suspect as John Rodriguez, 34, and said he had all the money that had been stolen from the bank, but no weapon.

Rodriguez was charged with first-degree robbery and is being held on a $100,000 bond.

He is scheduled to appear at Enfield Superior Court on Oct. 23.

Photo Credit: East Windsor

Quarantined Ebola Nurse Sues Gov.


The health care worker quarantined at a New Jersey hospital for several days last year because she had contact with Ebola patients in West Africa has filed a federal lawsuit against Gov. Chris Christie and several New Jersey Department of Health officials, including the former commissioner, alleging the forced confinement violated her civil rights. 

Kaci Hickox, a nurse who had been working with Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leone, which at one point was a hotspot of the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak, was detained at Newark Liberty International Airport upon arriving there Oct. 24, 2014 and then later held at University Hospital.

She spent the weekend in a quarantine tent in an "unheated parking garage" despite having no symptoms other than a slightly elevated temperature she blamed on being "flushed and upset" by her treatment at the airport and had threatened to sue at the time if she wasn't released.

The lawsuit filed Thursday in Newark federal court alleges Christie, former New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd and other health officials violated Hickox's rights by depriving her of due process and unlawfully seizing, detaining and quarantining her while relying on fear rather than science to justify her confinement.

It seeks compensatory and punitive damages in the amount of at least $250,000 in addition to covering court costs and attorney fees. 

“I never had Ebola. I never had symptoms of Ebola. I tested negative for Ebola the first night I stayed in New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s private prison,” Hickox, 34, said in a statement. “My liberty, my interests and consequently my civil rights were ignored because some ambitious governors saw an opportunity to use an age-old political tactic: fear.”

Hickox was the first person quarantined in the Garden State under a mandate Christie had issued the week before. The governor defended the quarantine, saying the move was to protect people in New Jersey. Gov. Cuomo in New York, where one doctor was successfully treated for the Ebola virus at Bellevue Hospital, had issued a similar quarantine order, which mandated a 21-day isolation and observation period for health care workers who treated patients in West Africa. 

Both governors were sharply criticized for ordering the quarantines, which stepped beyond Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines calling for asymptomatic people returning from Ebola-stricken countries only to avoid public transportation and large gatherings. 

Christie's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The New Jersey Department of Health said it does not comment on pending litigation.  

"The decision to quarantine anyone must be made based on science, not fear and politics," Udi Ofer, executive director of the ACLU of New Jersey, which joins Hickox in filing the lawsuit, said in a statement. "In holding Kaci Hickox, the governor and the former head of the Department of Health not only violated her basic constitutional rights, but they did so without any scientific foundation. Now, a year later, we are proud to help Kaci vindicate those rights."

Hickox slammed officials over the treatment she received, writing in a first-person account in the Dallas Morning News upon her release from the hospital that she encountered fear and disorganization when she arrived at the airport. She wrote that she was stopped and questioned over several hours and was left without food for an extended period.

No one would explain what was going on or what would happen to her, she said in the piece, which was written with the help of a Dallas Morning News staff writer.

At the time of her confinement, Doctors Without Borders had said in a statement that it was "very concerned about the conditions and uncertainty (Hickox) is facing."

"While measures to protect public health are of paramount importance, they must be balanced against the rights of health workers returning from fighting the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to fair and reasonable treatment and the full disclosure of information to them, along with information about intended courses of action from local and state health authorities," the organization said. 

Photo Credit: Handout

WikiLeaks Releases Second Batch From CIA Boss' Email


WikiLeaks released two more documents and a list of contacts from CIA Director John Brennan's personal email account on Thursday — and again the material was neither classified nor revelatory, NBC News reported.

Six other documents were released by WikiLeaks on Wednesday, days after an anonymous hacker told the New York Post that he had gained access to Brennan's AOL account. The account was also used by other members of the Brennan family.

The two documents posted to the WikiLeaks site Thursday pertain to a draft report by Senate Select Committee on Intelligence minority staff director Louis Tucker to the committee's ranking member, Sen. Kit Bond (R-Missouri).

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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