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'Loud Explosion' Reported Thanksgiving Night in Naugatuck


Naugatuck police have received a lot of inquiries about a "loud explosion" residents heard and felt on the night of Thanksgiving.

Naugatuck police and firefighters responded to New Haven Road near Cross Point Plaza and J&M Auto to investigate reports of an explosion that many residents had reported hearing between 9:30 and 10 p.m. on Thursday. Police received four to five 911 calls about it.

Witnesses told police they saw smoke in the area.

While police didn't find obvious signs of an explosion, however the information received points to that area as the site of "some sort of explosion."

Nothing was damaged in the reported explosion.

The Naugatuck Fire Department is handling the investigation.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Naugatuck police or the fire department.

More information will be provided as it becomes available.

Photo Credit: NBC

Wheelchair Returned to Girl, 4


The parents of a 4-year-old Santa Ana, California, girl who received an outpouring of support, including a $10,000 check, after their disabled daughter's wheelchair was stolen this week, have been presented with yet another miracle.

Rosa Perez woke up Friday to find her daughter, Milagros', wheelchair had been returned.

Perez said her husband came home and discovered the wheelchair by a trash can outside their apartment complex. He told her to look outside and she immediately broke down in tears.

Milagros, or "miracle" in Spanish, was born without legs, a heart condition and other ailments.

Her wheelchair was stolen Saturday night from behind a gate that couldn't be locked because it is a common area in the complex in the 400 block of South Flower Street.

Milagros' family pleaded to the public for help this week to get back Milagros' motorized wheelchair, which is the miracle girl's main way of getting to school.

After NBC4 viewer Joyce Brandman saw the newscast Wednesday, she came to the rescue, donating $10,000 for a new specialized wheelchair. The viewer called the assignment desk and said that after hearing Milagros' story on NBC4, she just had to help.

"What better gift can I give myself for the holidays than to reach out to help this child?" said Brandman.

Brandman handed over a check for $10,000 from the nonprofit Saul Brandman Foundation so that the family could buy a new specialized wheelchair built especially for Milagros.

The donor was delighted to hear that Milagros' wheelchair had been found and said the family could keep the money she donated.

"Now you see, out of something bad, something good happened. She had her wheelchair stolen, now the wheelchair has been returned and she's going to get the help and special care she needs," said Brandman.

Perez said others have also donated wheelchairs, which she hopes to donate to another family in need.

Santa Ana police had no surveillance images or any descriptions of the thief.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV

Dirt Bike Causes $30K in Damage at Golf Course


A golf course in Waterbury was vandalized when a dirt bike rode through it at about 8 a.m. Friday.

Four greens and grassy areas at the East Mountain golf course at 171 East Mountain Road in Waterbury were "dug up by spinning wheels," according to police.

There was about $30,000 in damage at the municipal golf course.

Police ask anyone with information to call the department at 203-574-6941.

WATCH: Tom Brady Dresses Up for Turkey Day Surprise


Looks like the New England Patriots' star quarterback couldn't resist having a little bit of fun on Thanksgiving.

Tom Brady posted a funny video of him hiding in a pile of leaves in a turkey costume, and then popping out to surprise his young children.

We can't decide what's more precious: his children's reactions or the fact that Brady goes "gobble gobble." 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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Police Investigate Gunfire on Walnut Street in Waterbury


Waterbury police are investigating reported gunfire on Walnut Street.

Police responded to reported shots fired near 353 Walnut Street at about 3:10 p.m.

Officers discovered a crime scene in front of 338 Walnut Street, finding at least one shell casing.

Moments later, Saint Mary's Hospital in Waterbury officials reported that a man came in seeking treatment for a non-life-threatening gunshot wound to the left leg.

The shooting remains under investigation.

Drone Gifts Could Crowd Skies


One of a small handful of companies licensed by the FAA to operate drones in Connecticut is Photoflight Aerial Media.

The group handles multiple kinds of contracts including those for site surveying, residential real estate, and commercial real estate.

The company uses its FAA-licensed pilots to film video high above sites for customers.

“That’s what this whole business is about and seeing it from a different point of view" said Mike Gearin, one of the co-founders of Photoflight.

With drones becoming one of the hot items for shoppers this year, they face a new set of challenges, like sharing airspace with consumer drones.

“There’s a whole operation behind operating drones in a compliant manner" said David Weiner, who handles business development for the company. "Most of our clients would rather outsource that to an organization like ours rather than trying to incorporate those policies and procedures and responsibilities to themselves.”

“Safety, security, and compliance" Weiner said. "That’s what’s most important to us and our clients.”

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal issued a warning of sorts to those looking to buy drones as gifts.

He predicts the Federal Aviation Administration will issue new rules soon that will require all drones weighing more than .5 LB will have to be registered.

Blumenthal described the dangers in front of Westfarms Mall in West Hartford, while displaying a small helicopter drone.

“Even a small drone like this weighing a half a pound or more can potentially do danger or damage to someone’s home, property, people at parades, public places like sporting events,” he said.

Blumenthal and Weiner both describe the world of drones right now as the "Wild West."

Weiner says Photoflight Aerial is already getting ready for changes in the industry but views its operation as being ahead of consumers with its FAA status. He hopes toys in the sky don't interrupt what they can do for clients.

“Our biggest concern is the influx of drones out in the market and with everybody this Christmas this is the year of the drone, everybody buying their own drones and they think they can just go out and conduct business without complying with regulations that have been defined.”

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

Holiday on Main Starts in Middletown


Middletown kicked off the 30th edition of the Holiday on Main celebration with several tree lightings.

The tradition includes carriage rides, popcorn, and hot chocolate that lead up to the lighting of the more than 50-foot-tall tree on the South Green.

Al Santostefano has chaired Holiday on Main since the event started.“It’s all free. We get all of the businesses that sponsor all of the events that we do: the horse and carriage rides and the fun train and all of the businesses support it so we’re able to do it for free and not charge.”

Diane Gervais owns Amato's Toy and Hobby and has been involved with the event since the start as well. She said it shows the strength of the community spirit.

“It’s exciting. It’s different. It’s not cookie-cutter. There’s something different here. It’s a lot of fun," Gervais said.

Photo Credit: Frank Heinz

Derby Elks Open 100-Year-Old Time Capsule


As a burglar alarm sounded from the Bar None next door, stonemasons were breaking into the Derby Elks Lodge, built a hundred years ago. To celebrate a time capsule went into the cornerstone in December 1915.

On Friday, it was time to take the time capsule out. Some people had a good idea of what was inside.

Mayor Anita Dugatto, (D) Derby, said "You can go up to the library and look it up on the Evening Sentinel."

Or you could wait for the power saw to do its research.

"We were hoping either it would be somewhere along the lines of Howard Carter when he broke into King Tut's tomb, and not like Geraldo Rivera when he opened the empty vault," said Randy Ritter.

To get the box some of the Elks put their shoulders to work, supporting the cornerstone while the Mason freed the time capsule.

The Elks took it inside their lodge for the formal opening.

The mason cut through the solder that had held the metal box shut for a hundred years.

"I'm going to be very careful," said Paula Norton of the Derby Historical Society. "I've put protective gloves on so that I don't let any of the oils from my hands touch any of the documents that are in there."

Documents indeed, many about the Elks of 1915, were folded and stuffed into the box. There were also a 48-star flag and a Catholic cross.

The Elks are still deciding what to put in the time capsule when they repair their cornerstone but they'll have another ceremony then.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

No Gathering of the Vibes for 2016


Music lovers have been gathering for the Vibes for the past 20 years -- a tradition that started to honor the late Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead -- but the popular annual Woodstock-like music festival is going on hiatus next year.

Organizer Ken Hays, an independent promoter handling the Gathering of the Vibes, said in a statement that after "a seemingly never-ending amount of thought and deliberation between myself and those closest to me, I've made the decision not to move forward with Gathering of the Vibes in 2016."

Hays said that he and others working the event have poured their hearts into it, but that it's a "challenging endeavor" for an independent promoter and that they "need a time out."

He said that he's "enormously proud" of the event and the community it has created that has "carried the torch representing the spirit of Jerry Garcia, the music of the Grateful Dead and the uniqueness of the Deadhead community."

"Over the past 20 years, we've traveled many roads together and experienced the beauty [and] magic of what happens when thousands of like-minded souls converge to celebrate life, love, music and community," Hays wrote in a statement. "When Jerry died, we all took a moment to look around and take account of those for whom we are grateful; time stopped, we formed a circle within our cosmic music community and said to each other, 'it's ok, we're all going to get through this TOGETHER."

But don't worry, it's not the day the music died.

"This is not the end of the Vibes my fiends (sic); it's simply a pause, an opportunity for us all to reflect on the memories, explore new and exciting festival initiatives while planning our triumphant return in 2017," Hays said. "We know how important the Vibes is to all of you, and ask for your love and support as we look to the horizon with great excitement. Paradise and new adventures await us VibeTribe (sic). Take good care of each other, be kind & know that our love will not fade away! Be well, continue embracing live music and we'll stay in touch."

Bridgeport Mayor Reappoints Police Chief Gaudett for Another Five Years


Bridgeport's mayor is reappoint the city's police chief to the post of top law enforcement official.

Gaudett Jr., appointed for a five-year term in December 2010 under a contract the Bridgeport City Council approved, was nearing the end of his contract, so Mayor Bill Finch decided to appoint him to a second term.

Finch is granted the authority to reappoint the city's police chief under Bridgeport's charter, which states, “The person so appointed shall hold office for a term of five (5) years from the effective date of his appointment but may be removed for just cause. A person holding the position of Chief of police may, only within 150 days of the end of each term, be reappointed by the mayor for one additional term of five (5) years, effective upon the expiration of the chief’s current term, without the need for further examination or testing.”

Finch said he trusts Gaudett's leadership and said in a news release he has proven the ability "to keep our streets safe" and a "devotion to working with the re-entry community."

“Police Chief Gaudett has proven himself to be a trustworthy leader as Bridgeport’s top law enforcement official,” said Mayor Finch. “He’s made tough decisions that have resulted in a stronger department. He’s earned the trust of our community by serving as a strong voice for fair and honest law enforcement practices. He’s led-the-charge in cracking down on crime in the state’s largest city, which has resulted in some of the lowest crime rates the city has experienced in nearly a half-century. And, through his work with Project Longevity, he’s successfully brought officers, community partners, and the state to the table in order to ensure that those re-entering our community after serving time are set up for future success. For these reasons and many others, I’m honored to reappoint Police Chief Gaudett to a second five-year term.”

The renewed appointment means that Gaudett Jr. will serve as police chief until 2020.

Photo Credit: Ned Gerard

Police on Lookout for Impaired Drivers Over Holiday Weekend


Police around the state are increasing patrols and setting up DUI checkpoints.

Bars in Hartford were busy as friends reunited over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. But police are concerned about when the celebrations go too far and people get behind the wheel.

On Friday, state police stopped drivers in Hartford getting onto I-91 southbound from Jennings Road starting from about 7:00pm. The checkpoint was expected to remain in effect until about 1:30am on Saturday.

“The checkpoint is an effective way of stopping tragic accidents during the holiday season,” says Trooper Robert Zdojeski of the state police.

Not everyone thought the checkpoint was a good idea.

Michael Picard says he and others have recently been protesting these types of checkpoints.

As people drove by Picard held signs which read, “COPS AHEAD. KEEP CALM AND REMAIN SILENT.”

“I’m not against catching drunk drivers. I’m against the method doing that,” says Picard.

Picard says there are better and fairer ways to catch drunk drivers rather than stopping everyone.

But police say a checkpoint is a good tool as part of their holiday enforcement crackdown which also includes increased patrols.

From Wednesday morning until Friday morning, police arrested 15 people for DUI, ticketed 488 for speeding, and handed out 1,119 moving violations for things such as tailgating or texting.

They say checkpoints usually catch several DUI's.

“This is a way to prevent them from entering the highway and causing accidents and hurting themselves or other members of the public,” says Trooper Zdojeski.

Police say the good news is as of Friday morning no one had died in a crash during the first couple days of the long weekend.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

NSA's Bulk Phone Data Collection Program Ends


The federal government's collection of bulk data from the telephone calls of virtually every American stopped at midnight Saturday, ending a raging controversy that began two and a half years ago with disclosures about the secret program by whistleblower Edward Snowden, NBC News reported. 

Beginning Sunday, if the government wants to check on a specific phone number in a potential terrorism case, a request must be made to the relevant telephone company for a check of its own data. The government will no longer retain the information.

Except in emergencies, the records can be obtained only with an individual order from a special federal intelligence court.

President Obama said in January that the bulk data collection would end, and Congress in June formally banned it but allowed for a six-month transition period that ended Saturday.

For now, the National Security Agency, which ran the massive government data collection program, will retain access to the data it collected before the program ended.

Photo Credit: Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

Afternoon Showers, Then Clearing


A cold front has moved through the state and as a result showers will continue into the afternoon.

Temperatures will hold steady in the lower 50s before falling tonight.

Tomorrow's a much brighter day, though high clouds may provide for a gray look to the sky in southern Connecticut during the morning hours. By afternoon, border-to-border sunshine is expected.

Temperatures will rise into the middle and upper 40s tomorrow.

Dry weather sticks around Monday before an increasing threat for showers on Tuesday. Steady rain is possible on Wednesday.

It will be cool on Monday, in the middle 40s, but highs in the upper 40s return on Tuesday.

Roommate Arrested in Murder of Waterbury Homeowner


Police have a man in custody who is suspected of murdering a 71-year-old Waterbury home owner, who was evicting him from they house they lived in together.

Police arrested Theodore McMahon and said they are charging him with the murder of his landlord and roommate, George Marshall, 71.

Officers were called to 279 Capitol Avenue in Waterbury at 8:30 a.m. Friday to investigate a report of a disturbance that left two men covered in blood

Marshall had been trying for several months to evict his roommate, McMahon, and had finally filed the paperwork to do so and arranged for an officer to come serve an eviction notice, police said. When Marshall told him, the two men got into an argument and McMahon stabbed him, police said.

When an officer came to serve the eviction notice, he discovered the two men covered in blood. Marshall was unresponsive in his living room chair, bleeding heavily from a stab wound to the chest.

First responders tried unsuccessfully to revive him. Emergency crews pronounced him dead at the scene.

Police confirmed they are investigating the death as a homicide and that they are working to identify the victim.

Neighbors told NBC Connecticut that neighborhood where the fatal stabbing occurred is normally very quiet.

One man said that “things like this never happen here.”

The woman who lives across the street called it a scary situation.

“I woke up. I heard commotion outside, I looked out the window and saw all of this and I had no idea what was going on," neighbor Tonya Petteway said.
Police said no further information is available at this time but that updates will be provided as they come in.

McMahon is being processed at the Waterbury Police Department jail.

Police called Marshall's son and ex-wife on the west coast this afternoon to notify them about his death and said that he also had extended family in Connecticut.

Photo Credit: Waterbury Police Department

Dashcam Catches Wild Crash on Side of I-95


Connecticut state police dashboard camera footage captured a wild crash Friday morning where a car plowed into another vehicle that pulled over following a previous crash on Interstate 95 south in Fairfield, narrowly missing two people standing alongside the highway.

The driver, Yoni Rojas, 21, of Bridgeport, was arrested and is facing charges of reckless endangerment, reckless driving, misuse of plates, failure to meet minimum insurance coverage and failure to maintain a lane, according to state troopers. 

State police shared the dashcam video on social media, reminding drivers to move over if emergency vehicles are parked on the side of the road.

A state trooper was parked behind two vehicles on I-95 south in Fairfield near exit 19 after a two-car crash at about 1 a.m. on Friday.

As another state trooper was arriving at the crash site, he saw a Nissan Maxima speeding in front of him in the left lane, veering onto the right shoulder and "violently striking one of the vehicles involved in the original two-vehicle accident," state police said.

The footage from the dashboard camera of the first cruiser on scene shows a car appear to come out of nowhere at a high rate of speed, coming within inches of hitting two people standing behind a vehicle on the highway. They jumped back in what state police called a "hair-raising" moment to avoid being hit right as the barreling car takes out the vehicle they were standing next to and pushes it out of the camera's view.

The driver of the speeding vehicle was identified as Rojas. State police arrested him and held him in custody in lieu of a $2,500 cash/surety bond. He was scheduled to appear in Bridgeport superior court on Nov. 27 at 9 a.m.

State law requires drivers to move over a lane if possible from emergency vehicles parked on the shoulder. While state police said the incident is not a "Move Over Law" violation, it "stresses the dangers of being stopped on the highway, even if you are in the shoulder." They also said that it shows "one of the many reasons motorists are required to move over when approaching stopped emergency vehicles."

State Police Trooper Kelly Grant said that she hopes the video is "an eyeopening experience for everybody."

"This is why we talk about all the time why we talk about move over slow down there's the move over law - this is not necessarily a move over law incident," Grant said. "However part of the move over law is to slow down when you're approaching emergency vehicles on the shoulder."

Neither the two people nearly hit nor the state trooper at the scene from the original crash were injured, but Grant said the crash could have easily killed the people standing on the shoulder of the highway if they had been hit.

""That painted line is not a barrier, it's a painted line. People can drive over that painted line and strike you," she said.

Rojas did sustain minor injuries.

Driver Arraigned on Charges in Hit-and-Run That Injured 2


A Bristol man accused of taking off after hitting two pedestrians on the roadway Thursday night faced a Bristol Superior Court judge today.

A surveillance camera from the nearby Dunkin' Donuts on Pine Street captured disturbing footage of two pedestrians crossing the road at about 6 p.m. Thursday and one of them is pushing a wheelchair. Moments later, a Chevy Trailblazer struck them, sending them flying, the video shows. They landed further down the road along the side and the car appears to continue, as seen in the footage.

"That could be anyone’s loved one and you’re just like running them over!" Christopher Goergen said.

Later in Plainville, police found the suspect vehicle with damage in the front speeding in town and eventually located finding the alleged driver, Jesse Lopez, inside an apartment.

Police arrested Lopez and he appeared in Bristol Superior Court on Friday. He faces several charges, including two counts of failure to avoid striking a pedestrian and driving without a license.

Court documents said he told an officer that he didn’t know how he got to Plainville and that he was intoxicated and wasn’t sure who drove him.

Passengers in the car identified Lopez as the driver.

“You shouldn’t drive if you’re going to drink obviously," Dawn Mele said. 

“Drunk person was coming out, didn’t care.. and boom," Robert Pedrazza said.

The pedestrians struck were transported to the hospital. The crash for several hours, but it has since reopened.

Lopez was released on $25,000 bond.

His family chose not to comment.

This is Lopez’ first arrest, he has no record.

He’s scheduled back in court Dec. 11.

Rallies About CT's Stance on Syrian Refugees Draw Hundreds


On opposite sides of the Capitol building in Hartford, opposing views were voiced over the Syrian refugee crisis, Saturday.

“We support the idea that refugees should come to the United States. We think it’s pretty critical,” said Peter Goselin, of West Hartford.

“These are not pilgrims coming here for a better life these are adult male military age coming here to wage war upon our country,” John Matto, of Shelton, said.

While thousands of people RSVP’d on both groups’ social media sites, only hundreds attended. Still, their voices were heard loud and clear.

Hundreds of refugee supporters held up signs while listening to organizers who said we have a moral and political obligation to open our doors to the refugees.

“This is a really important point in American history right now. We’re seeing the same kind of waves of anti-immigrant and xenophobic sentiment that we’ve seen in the past whenever people needed to come to the United States as refugees,” Goselin added.

Meanwhile, just around the corner, those opposed called the refugee program a pathway for terrorists.

“There’s no documentation in a war-torn country like Syria,” said Judith Randal, of Trumbull.

“What are the terrorists going to take, canoes over here? I mean honestly. Their fear is really misfound,” Matthew Oakes, of East Hartford, said.

Hundreds from the “Say YES to Syrian Refugees” group rallied on the steps of the Capitol building, while dozens of members from the “Say NO to Syrian Refugees” group marched from the Capitol to the governor’s residence.

“The people do not want this and this is the people’s governments,” said Matto.

“We have some fault and some responsibility in helping these folks out,” said Oakes.

“I wouldn’t want to be a foreigner thousands of miles away from home. It’s not good for them,” Randall said.

It’s a national debate taking center stage right here in Connecticut.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Survivor: Colorado Gunman 'Was Aiming for My Head'


A man who came face-to-face with a gunman at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic Friday said he felt "helpless" as he watched the shooter, who killed three people and injured nine others, NBC News reported.

Ozy Licano, 61, of Manzinola, Colorado,had driven some friends to the Colorado Springs clinic and was at a nearby Costco while they waited for their appointment.

When Licano returned, he was shocked to find bullets flying into the clinic's entry way as the the gunman shot "up and down," shattering the glass door.

"I just kind of lost it there. I tried to get out of my car and run. I thought about that, and I said no. I got back in the car, started it, put it in reverse," he said.

The shooter, identified as 57-year-old Robert Dear, turned his focus away from the clinic and took aim at Licano as he frantically tried to back up.

"He was looking directly at my face, and he was aiming for my head. I could see it in his eyes," Licano said.

Photo Credit: Christian Murdock/The Gazette via AP
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Officer Killed in Colo. Shooting Was Mass. Native, Ice Dance Champ


The 44-year-old University of Colorado-Colorado Springs police officer who was killed in a Planned Parenthood shooting has been identified as a New England native.

Garrett Swasey grew up in Melrose, Massachusetts, before moving to Colorado, Melrose Police confirmed. He attended Melrose High School.

He moved to Colorado, home to U.S. Figure Skating, to pursue a skating career. 

U.S. Figure Skating President Sam Auxier said Swasey was a former U.S. junior ice dance champion.

“Garrett is remembered as a kind and selfless man who was well-liked by friends and competitors alike," he said. "While we are shocked and saddened by his loss, we are grateful for his service as an officer and his impact as a figure skater."

While in Colorado, he worked as a full-time police officer but was also heavily involved in the local church.

He served as an Elder at Hope Chapel in Colorado Springs. He was married and had a son and daughter, according to the church's website. 

Swasey lost his life, along with 2 other victims, after a gunman armed with an AK-47 style weapon entered the Planned Parenthood location and began shooting at police, causing a five-hour stand off.

Saturday morning, Melrose Police Chief Michael Lyle released a statement on his death:

The entire Melrose Police Department mourns the loss of our brother officer and native son of Melrose. Officer Swasey graduated from Melrose High School in 1989, along with Melrose Mayor Robert Dolan and several of our current Melrose police officers. This is a tragic and senseless loss of life, as a man who dedicated much of his life to helping others was murdered while performing his duties.

Photo Credit: UCCS
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Putin Orders Economic Sanctions Against Turkey After Downing of Plane


Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday called for sanctions against Turkey, following the downing this week by Turkey of a Russian warplane.

The decree published on the Kremlin's website Saturday came hours after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had voiced regret over the incident, saying his country was "truly saddened" by the event and wished it hadn't occurred.

The decree includes a ban on some goods and forbids extensions of labor contracts for Turks working in Russia. It doesn't specify what goods are to be banned or give other details, but it also calls for ending chartered flights from Russia to Turkey and for Russian tourism companies to stop selling vacation packages that would include a stay in Turkey. 

Photo Credit: AP
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