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Shoplifting Suspect Led Clinton Officers on Chase: Police


Clinton police are looking for a shoplifting suspect who led officers on a high-speed chase on Saturday.

Police responded to the Saks Off 5th Avenue at the Clinton Crossing Outlets around 3:30 p.m. on Saturday for a report of a woman who had stolen clothes from the store.

When officers arrived, the woman took off in a 2000 silver Honda Odyssey with Connecticut license plate 7AEUJ3, according to police. Officers tried to stop the minivan, but the woman led them on a pursuit onto I-95 southbound, police said.

The officers broke off the chase just south of Exit 59 because the woman was driving erratically, they said.

The suspect is described as a heavy set woman, standing about 5 feet 8 inches tall. She has long, braided hair and was wearing jeans, a plaid, buttoned shirt and brown knee-high boots.

Anyone with information on the suspect is asked to call Officer Santiago at the Clinton Police Department at 860-669-0451.

Photo Credit: Clinton Police

Crews Respond to Fire in Windsor


Firefighters are responding to a blaze at 634 Thoreau Circle in Windsor.

Windsor Locks firefighters are responding for mutual aid to help the Windsor Volunteer Fire Department.

South Windsor firefighters are providing station coverage at the Windsor fire station.

The Windsor deputy fire marshal is on scene.

No further information is available and the extent of injuries is unknown.

Ole Miss Removes State Flag From Campus After Backlash


The University of Mississippi removed the state flag from its campus Monday, the latest move in a nationwide backlash against the Confederate banner and its imagery, NBC News reported. 

Mississippi is the only state that incorporates the Confederate battle emblem — a blue "X," with white stars and a red background — into its official flag. Voters backed it overwhelmingly in a 2001 referendum.

But the debate was rekindled in June after a white gunman killed nine people at an historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina. The alleged killer had published photos of himself online with the Confederate battle flag — a revelation that led to retailers, manufacturers and local governments to curtail its use.

Photo Credit: File--Getty Images

Child Killed, Others Hurt in Crash


A 10-year-old child was killed and seven other people hurt, including five children, in a crash near a high school in New Jersey Monday, authorities said.

The 10-year-old and five other children were riding in a minivan that was hit by a sedan at West Ninth Street and Arlington Avenue in Plainfield at about 7:30 a.m., police said. 

Chopper 4 footage from the scene, near Plainfield High School, showed the minivan rolled over on its side with debris scattered about. The other vehicle sat crashed in the intersection.

One woman who ran to help said she tried to turn the minivan upright and heard the children screaming. One child was able to get out of the vehicle on his own, she said, but she and other bystanders helped the rest of the children out. 

Authorities said the 10-year-old died shortly after the crash. The other five children, whose ages weren't immediately available, were taken to the hospital with unknown injuries. The drivers of both of the vehicles were also taken to the hospital with varying injuries.

Witnesses said the driver of the minivan was picking up children in the area to take them to school.

No arrests have been made in the crash, which remains under investigation. 

Nash Lucas, 2-Year-Old Killed in OSU Crash, 'Was Symbol of Love'


The 2-year-old who was killed when a driver crashed into a crowd of people at Oklahoma State University's homecoming parade is being remembered by those who loved him as a boy who was full of life, NBC News reported. 

"Nash was the symbol for love and joy," the toddler's father, Josh Lucas, told NBC News on Monday. "I lived for him and I'll never stop loving my son."

Nash's teacher, Mercedes Kling, said she is heartbroken about the death of the boy who "was always funny."

"Nash was the type of kid where you never knew what he was going to say," Kling said. "I was always smiling at the things that he said."

Photo Credit: Image provided via GoFundMe

Driver in Deadly Newington Hit-and-Run Sentenced


A driver found guilty of manslaughter in the high-speed hit-and-run death of a New Britain mom last winter  in Newington was sentenced to five years in prison Monday.

Sonya Atkins, 51, of New Britain, had finished up three hours overtime working at the DMV on Feb. 27. She was going home the same way she had for 30 years when she was hit by a car at Willard and Robbins avenues in Newington. She died that night.

Two weeks later, Dennis Martinez, 36, of East Hartford, turned himself into Newington police, admitting to being the driver.

Martinez was sentenced to five years in prison Monday. Atkins' family had been hoping for a longer prison sentence for Martinez.  Her brother, Tarik Amin, gave a sarcastic response to the sentencing in the case.

"According to the system, justice was served today. This is the American way. Gotta love it!," he said.

Through an interpreter, Martinez apologized for his crime. But while Atkins' family is beyond being angry, they don't buy it.

"I felt a little like he didn't have any remorse," Atkins' sister, Tanya Clayton, said, "and I still look at him like a coward and not a nice person."

According to the arrest warrant, Martinez had backed into another car in a parking lot on Brockett Street in Newington, outside Aucello EyeCare Center, prior to the deadly collision on Feb. 27. The driver whose car was struck told police he and his wife were going to eat next door at Puerto Vallarta at the time of the crash. He said Martinez glanced over his shoulder but didn't stop. He drove out of the parking lot and turned south onto the Berlin Turnpike, according to the arrest warrant.

Then, at around 10 p.m. Feb. 27, Martinez's truck "slammed" into a Mazda driven by Atkins near the intersection of Willard and Robbins avenues. Witnesses told police Martinez sped through a red light without ever hitting his brakes, the warrant says.

Martinez abandoned his car and ran from the scene. Police said footprints in the snow led to the back of 1099 Willard Ave. Dogs tracked him to the area of the Indian Hill Country Club, where the scent ended and Martinez was likely picked up.

Authorities examining Martinez's truck found the speedometer stuck at 83 miles per hour, according to the arrest warrant.

New Britain police said Martinez is also among 45 people arrested in connection with a cockfighting bust. According to the warrant for his arrest, police found a bond form in his truck marked with the name of another person arrested during the East Windsor raid.

They used the booking information from Martinez's arrest to track him down.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com/Newington Police Department
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Quinebaug Valley Community College Classes Resume After Evacuation


State police have deemed Quinebaug Valley Community College's Danielson campus safe after investigating a report from school officials that someone was in the building who didn't belong there and evacuating students and staff from a campus building, according to the administration.

All 3:30 p.m. classes were canceled, school officials posted on the college's website, and state police evacuated students and teachers from a campus building as a precaution, school officials said. School officials initially said on the school's website that the Danielson campus was in lockdown.

School officials said they called state police because they believed there was someone in the building that wasn't supposed to be there. State police checked out the school and didn't find anything.

They had cleared the scene by 3:45 p.m. and deemed it safe for everyone.

Quinebaug classes will resume at 5 p.m., according to the college's website.

The college's Danielson campus is located at 742 Upper Maple St.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Rollover Tractor-Trailer Crash in Marlborough


The right lane of Route 2 east in Marlbourough is closed after a tractor-trailer rollover crash on Monday, state police said.

There is no word on injuries.

The call came in at about 4:28 p.m.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Man With Facsimile Gun Arrested After School Lockdown: PD


West Haven police have lifted a lockdown at the high school after receiving a 911 call reporting a man walking in the area with a rifle and made an arrest in the incident, police said.

Officers responded to the back of Bennett Rink next to the high school after a resident called 911 at 2:35 p.m. to report an armed man, police said on the department's Facebook page.

Officials put the high school in lockdown for any students still on campus, police said.

There was a heavy police presence at the school and officers found a man carrying a facsimile AR-15-style pellet gun, police said. They arrested him.

Further information "will be forthcoming," police said.

The school has resumed usual operations.

Police released a photograph of the facsimile gun, which looks like an assault rife.

Police haven't released the name of the person arrested or said what the person was doing so close to the high school.

The scene has been cleared.

Photo Credit: West Haven Police Department

Family of Deadly OSU Crash Suspect Speaks


The woman who crashed into a crowd at Oklahoma State University's homecoming parade, killing four and injuring dozens, had her bond set at $1 million Monday — as her father acknowledged that "she might have underlying (mental health) problems", NBC News reported.

Adacia Chambers, 25, is being held on four counts of second-degree murder and a count of driving under the influence after she plowed her car into spectators at the Stillwater event Saturday.

Chambers has not been formally charged on the second-degree murder counts, but a prosecutor argued that she "intentionally drove her car into a crowd."

The prosecutor said that Chambers was a "flight risk" because she faces the possibility of four life terms.

Chambers' lawyer said at a news conference after her video arraignment that her father, Floyd Chambers, expressed there's "no way" he would be able to post her $1 million bond.

Photo Credit: AP

LifeStar Called After Man Loses 4 Fingers in Lawnmower Accident


A man lost several fingers in a lawnmower accident in New Hartford and Life Star has been requested, police said.

Crews have responded to 304 Steele Road after four of a man's fingers were amputated by a lawnmower in an accident, according to Litchfield County Dispatch. The call came in at about 5 p.m.

It's unclear which hospital he'll be treated at.

The name of the man injured hasn't been released and his condition is unknown.

REO Speedwagon Plays at Reopening of Ovation Guitars in CT


Ovation Guitars is back in business in New Hartford and the grand reopening was headlined by the legendary band REO Speedwagon.

The band took the stage with lead singer Kevin Cronin strumming the first guitar produced off the new Ovation Guitars line.

Cronin has used Ovation guitars more than 30 years.

"Part of my live performance image is to have an acoustic guita. Well it's gonna be an Ovation, and now to have them reopened in New Hartford, it just feels right, it just feels good," Cronin said in an interview with NBC Connecticut before performing at the grand reopening.

Fender Musical Instruments closed the factory in June 2014, choosing instead to produce Ovations only overseas.

In December 2014, the California-based Drum Workshop bought the Ovation brand and launched plans to build guitars again in New Hartford.

"For us, it's just a very, very significant time. It's also a time where people want to see things brought back to America. That's what we're doing," said Bill Xavier, who serves as the brand manager for Drum Workshop.

In reopening this factory, the company brought back some of the highly skilled workers who lost their jobs when the previous owners closed up.

"As a guitar builder I want to build guitars and so we just did our best not to give up hope and kept pushing and pushing," said Darren Wallace, who's worked with the company for 22 years and now serves as the factory's operations manager.

Ovation plans to produce 300 limited edition guitars through January. The company will resume normal production after that.

"Obviously, the guys here at the Ovation factory know how to build guitars and for them to have been out of work is unfortunate and now for them to be back to work and the factory to be reopened in its original place, this is where it belongs," said Cronin.

The company celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2016.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Critics Vocal Against Hotel Proposed By Yard Goats Stadium Developers


Members of the Working Families Party who are running for the City Council in Hartford openly criticized the idea of a new hotel proposed by the developers of Dunkin Donuts Park, the future home of the Yard Goats Minor League Baseball team.

The proposal for the hotel was made public last week.

“A hotel is not needed in our opinion, because within walking distance there are several others that are not full," said Larry Deutsch, a current Hartford city councilman who is seeking reelection.

To his point, a Radisson stands above the Dunkin Donuts Park construction site, and a Hilton is close as well.

In addition, NBC Connecticut confirmed with the CEO of Thomas Hooker Brewery that the company has no firm plans to open or move its operation to the Downtown North site, as had been conveyed in sketches and artist renderings of the site.

Curt Cameron with Thomas Hooker brewery told NBC Connecticut that any plans to either relocate to the Downtown North Development or open a site there were "in flux" and added that "there are a lot of moving parts."

Cameron said costs were his greatest concern.

Another member of the Working Families Party slate told NBC Connecticut that he wanted to see money for the stadium to go toward job training for working parents and other youth employment programs.

“What’s happening is we’re putting together all of these shiny stadiums and new things but what we’re doing, we’re neglecting our neighborhoods, and our students inside the city, as well as their parents" said Levey Kardoulis.

Maribel La Luz, a spokesperson for Mayor Pedro Segarra criticized the response from members of the Working Families Party.

La Luz described the comments as "overtly political" "surprised by their lack of understanding" of how they city budgets for development projects and overall spending.

"The funding for the stadium has absolutely nothing to do with the funding for essential city services. There are ways that we as a community are addressing violence in our city but besmirching the stadium is not one of them" she said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Special Needs Coach Abuse Charge


A suburban Chicago gymnastics coach has been charged with allegedly sexually abusing two female athletes with cognitive disabilities.

Patricia Hermann, 48, of Schaumburg, was charged with three counts of sexual battery against a minor and one count of aggravated sexual battery, according to Sgt. Dana Pierce with the Cobb County Police Department in Georgia.

Police said they were alerted to a report of physical and sexual abuse that occurred between April 30 and May 3 at the Springhill Suites by Marriott in Kennesaw, Georgia.

The Elite Stars athletes had traveled from Schaumburg to Georgia to participate in a gymnastics competition and stayed at the hotel. After returning home, two female athletes with cognitive disabilities separately told their parents that the head coach of the Elite Stars physically and sexually abused them in their hotel room on the trip, police said. 

The director for the 2015 USA Gymnastics Special Olympics Championships confirmed Hermann and the Elite Stars participated in the competition on May 2.

Hermann was arrested Saturday on an arrest warrant from Cobb County officials and taken into custody at the Cook County Sheriff’s office, a spokesperson for the department confirmed. 

According to the Elite Stars website, Hermann has worked in special needs program design and gymnastics coaching for more than 25 years. Her bio indicates she represents the U.S. on the Special Olympics International Gymnastics Committee.

The Special Olympics did not immediately respond to NBC Chicago’s request for comment. It was not immediately clear if Hermann had an attorney.

Photo Credit: Cook County Sheriff's Office

Gas Odor Forces East Hartford Elementary School to Delay Opening


An odor of gas delayed the opening of the John A. Langford Elementary School in East Hartford Monday morning.

The school is operating on a 90-minute delay schedule, according to school officials.

Fire officials and the gas company responded to the school to investigate.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Emergency Crews Recover Hiker's Body


Emergency crews returned to West Rock Ridge State Park on Monday morning to recover the body of a hiker who fell to his death. They finished the recovery operation just before 9:30 a.m., according to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

New Haven firefighters responded to West Rock to perform a high angle rescue halfway up the mountain around 6 p.m. on Sunday, according to the department’s Twitter page.

DEEP officers originally said they believed the man was with two other hikers, but they now believe he was hiking alone. Two people witnessed the fall, authorities said.

Upon arrival, crews began searching for the victim, who had reportedly fallen a few hundred feet. A rescuer made it down the cliff and confirmed that the victim, identified only as a young adult male, was dead. The exact cause of death will be determined by an autopsy.

Williams said it was a challenging operation. Authorities have had issues at the park before because of loose rocks, trees and a steep drop off, Williams said.

“Especially with the time of night with a lack of light and visibility, it’s always difficult to make that sort of descent down a cliff like that,” Williams said.

The New Haven Fire department recovered the body of the hiker, who has not yet been identified.

New Haven police responded to assist and DEEP is leading the investigation. Police said there is no sign of foul play.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

LifeStar Called to Serious Motorcycle Crash in Voluntown


Route 138 in Voluntown is closed Monday night after a serious motorcycle crash and LifeStar was called to transport an injured person, state police said.

The crash happened on Route 138 (Rockville Road), near Green Fall Road, and the road is closed at that intersection. The call came in at about 5:12 p.m. on Monday.

One person was injured, but the individual's condition is unknown.

No further information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: See It Share It

Child Brain Dead After Choking


A 7-year-old girl is on life support after family members say she choked on food during lunch at her Brooklyn school last week.

Noelia Echaverria, a second-grader at P.S. 250 in Williamsburg, choked on food at school last Wednesday and is now brain dead, according to family, but her mother says she has faith the child will pull through.

"I know at the bottom of my heart that she will live because I can feel it," her mother Ana Santiago said.

Qwaise Reid, a paramedic for a private company, was transporting a patient back to a nearby nursing home in an ambulance when he stumbled upon the chaotic scene. Reid was stopped at a red light when a school safety officer and another person started banging on his door for help.

"I seen the 7- to 8-year-old on the floor, blue in the lips," Reid said.

He said children and adults were crowded around Echaverria, who was not breathing or talking, and had foam coming out of her mouth.

Reid and the girl’s family said they think the school could have acted more quickly in calling 911.

"I believe no one called 911 before they came to me, because they would most likely have been there before me," Reid said.

FDNY said the department received the call at 2:33 p.m. and was at the school less than five minutes later.

NBC 4 New York asked the Department of Education how quickly 911 was called and it said the school followed protocol by calling 911 and the girl’s parents, but did not offer further explanation.

Uncle Alexis Santiago said he went back to the school to ask what had happened to his niece but didn’t get any answers.

"The principal, the dean, the security guards… They closed the door and said, 'Go to the hospital to find out,'" Alexis Santiago said.

The girl’s family has hired an attorney to represent them during the investigation.

Photo Credit: Family Photo

Man Suspected of Prompting West Haven High Lockdown Arrested


West Haven police have arrested a man accused of carrying a fake assault rifle near West Haven High School on Monday and prompting a school lockdown

Police have charged James Henry Quakenbush, 19, of West Haven, with carrying a dangerous weapon, possession of a weapon on school grounds and breach of peace. 

Officers started investigating when a resident called 911 around 2:35 p.m. on Monday to report a man with what appeared to be a rifle behind Bennett Rink, next to West Haven High School. 

The school was immediately placed on lockdown and police rushed to the scene and found Quakenbush in a path to Painter Park, police said. He was carrying a fake AR-15 pellet or BB gun and was taken into custody. 

He is being held on bond, police said on Tuesday morning. 

Photo Credit: West Haven Police

Thousands Mourn Slain NYPD Officer


The 33-year-old NYPD officer who was fatally shot in the head last week while on duty in East Harlem was remembered at a wake Tuesday as an even-tempered man who always had a smile on his face.

Thousands of family members, friends and fellow officers gathered at the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York in Jamaica to pay tribute to officer Randolph Holder, a five-year NYPD veteran who was shot in the head after responding to reports of gunfire near the FDR Drive a week ago.

An honor guard carried Holder's flag-draped casket to the alter where those who knew and respected the young officer will bid farewell over the next two days. Hundreds of officers stood in the shadows of blue ribbons tied to fences and trees as they waited their turn to walk inside.

Holder always wanted to be a policeman, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather who served as officers in their native Guyana. Holder's dream came true in 2010 when he joined the NYPD and began patrolling the city's public housing complexes.

"It's in his blood," said his commanding officer, Captain Reymundo Mundo. "It's in his genes."

As a stream of officers wiped tears from their faces, many said they wanted to live by his example and not bury themselves in the loss, said Sgt. Joe Imperatrice.

"It's never easy," he said, recalling the funerals of NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu last December. "But anything that goes on, you're going to put on your vest, put on your uniform and do your job right."

Holder was also remembered for the sacrifices he made for his family, his No. 1 priority.

"He was a very outgoing person, very giving and very caring, especially for the family back home," his aunt Ruth Noel said. "It's a great loss in Guyana, too, not just here."

As Noel stood in front of the church Tuesday, she recalled memories of her time with her nephew.

"It's only when these people are gone that you see how good they really were," she said.

Noel said she became overcome with emotion when she saw her nephew laid out in an open casket in the church, dressed in his full uniform, as his fellow officers wept.

"I just couldn't hold myself," she said. "It's too much for me."

Holder died Oct. 20 after being shot in the head near the FDR Drive. He and his partner had been chasing a man after responding to a call of shots fired and a bicycle stolen at gunpoint. The suspect, 30-year-old Tyrone Howard, hopped off the stolen bicycle and shot Holder, authorities allege. Howard was taken into custody a few blocks away and has been charged with murder and robbery.

A grand jury indicted him on unspecified charges Tuesday. Howard did not appear in court. The charges are expected to be unsealed at a hearing next month. His attorney has said there are many missing details in the case.

A funeral for Holder is scheduled for Wednesday. He will be buried in Guyana.

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