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State Police Host "Tweetalong" to Engage with Public


State police offered an online ride along with a trooper on Friday.

This comes as the department tries to boost its presence on social media.

Trooper First Class Ryan Frechette was far from alone on his patrol on Friday.

There were potentially thousands of people following his every move; from responding to a car crash to watching for speeders on I-84.

He was connected to his digital partners through constant updates about the night on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Periscope.

It was all thanks to the quick fingers of Trooper Tyler Weerden who was busy tweeting and uploading posts.

“We’ve connected with people on Twitter and Facebook that have said I’ve never talked to a trooper before,” says Weerden.

After being a little behind, state police have now quickly expanded their presence on social media.

They now boast nearly 12,000 followers on Twitter and 6,600 “likes” on Facebook.

There you can find a look behind the training of new recruits, a flashback through police history, and the lighter side of policing.

But social media goes beyond the people behind the badge. Social media followers are becoming crime fighters.

Recently, police posted on Facebook, “YOUR tips led to the arrest of a wanted person” soon after the information was posted online.

It’s just one of many cases police say was cracked by their growing online community.

“A lot of us guys who aren’t too computer savvy as far as social media, yeah it’s pretty surprising,” says Frechette.

Police say they’re still looking to expand online despite that it takes time and resources. But they say it’s well worth it.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Protesters Interrupt Trump 10 Times at North Carolina Rally


Protesters interrupted Donald Trump 10 separate times at a rally Friday night in Raleigh, North Carolina, NBC News reported.

Security ejected the protesters, who carried signs that said, "Stop the Hate, We Make America Great" and "Dump Trump." Others chanted "Black Lives Matter."

Trump supporters in the crowd of 8,000 shoved some of the protesters.

Trump initially ignored the interruptions, but eventually told his supporters that the events of the evening highlighted divisions in America. "There's hatred between people. We want to bring it together," Trump said.

Photo Credit: AP

Danbury Man Charged With Child Porn Possession


State police have arrested a Danbury man on child pornography charges after a six-month long investigation.

The State Police Computer Crimes Unit started investigating in June after they received a complaint about what appeared to be child pornography being saved to a cloud storage device.

In August, police seized two cell phones were seized and said they found child pornography.

On Friday, Edward Barker, 33, of Danbury, turned himself in at State Police Troop A in Southbury on a first-degree possession of child pornography charge.

He was held on a $40,000 court-set bond and arraigned in Danbury Superior Court.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

Police Locate Owner of Dead Dog Found in Wallingford


Police have identified the owner of a dog found dead with a gunshot wound to the head in Wallingford.

The owner is from Chaplin and is not suspected in the dog's death, according to police.

The dog had been missing for about a week, the owner told police.

A Wallingford town commissioner found the dead dog wrapped in a blue tarp at the bottom of an embankment in the Tyler Mill Preserve on Thursday.

The dog had been shot in the back of the head and died a slow, painful death, police said. 

Authorities described the dog as a brown, female shepherd mix, was about one to three years old, with two white back paws. It was spayed and appeared to be healthy, police said. There was no collar or tags on the animal.  Police nicknamed her "Noel."

They believe the dog was left in the 24 hours before she was found and said it's impossible to know whether the animal was killed there or somewhere else.

The Tyler Mill Preserve is a 1,000-acre piece of land owned by Wallingford. It is popular for hiking, fishing and mountain biking.

Anyone who may have witness anything is asked to call Wallingford police at 203-294-2805. 

The person responsible for the dog's death could face animal cruelty charges if caught.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

San Bernardino UPS Evacuated


The area surrounding a UPS facility in San Bernardino was evacuated and placed on lockdown Friday night after a delivery driver discovered a package slated for delivery to the home of the suspected attackers in this week’s mass shooting.

The area around the facility was blocked off out of “an abundance of caution,” San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said in a tweet.

“Driver realized it was the same address and returned to facility with the package,” Burguan tweeted.

The bomb squad was called in and was investigating just before 9 p.m.

Burguan also tweeted that the item was from a reputable vendor, and there was no known immediate threat.

Authorities determined around 10 p.m. that the package was safe.

A UPS driver, who asked to not be identified, said there was a package delivered at the home of the suspected shooter every day for the last three months.

The driver also told NBC4 that the FBI halted deliveries to the suspected shooters' address and possibly other addresses after the mass shooting occurred.

Local residents were on edge and still in a state of shock days after the shooting.

"It feels like nervous and like sad to see all this, what's going on in your community," said local resident Rosa Aduyo.

Many members of the community visited a growing memorial at the scene of the shooting massacre.

"I feel like they have taken a part of our city, our county, our nation," said local resident Illeana Massingill.

The UPS facility was reopened before midnight on Friday.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV

Watch Small Plane Make Belly Landing


A small plane made a successful "belly landing" at the Palm Springs International Airport in California after its landing gear failed.

Photo Credit: NBC News
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French Military Enrollment Triples in Wake of Paris Attacks


The number of French military applicants has tripled since the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks that left 130 civilians dead in the country's capital, according to official figures.
Recruiters are now fielding an average of 1,500 applications a day compared to 500 a day before the attacks, Reuters reported. According to figures on the military's website, visits to air force recruitment offices have also tripled, while applications to join the navy have doubled this year.
The country has been on its highest alert since last month's massacre, which came less than a year after 17 people were gunned down in attacks on a satirical magazine and other locations in Paris.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Massacre Victim's Girlfriend Is Crisis Responder


A member of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's Crisis Response Team, trained to comfort families of victims in times of tragedy, was never trained to handle a tragedy herself.

But Mandy Pifer's boyfriend, health inspector Shannon Johnson, was one of the 14 killed in San Bernardino on Tuesday.

"My name is Mandy Pifer, and Shannon Johnson was my best friend," Pifer told NBC Los Angeles, before breaking into tears.

Pifer has volunteered on the Crisis Response Team for 10 years. After tragedies, it's her job to console victims. And even in her moment of mourning, Pifer is still doing her job, sending prayers to the other 13 families sharing in her grief.

"It's important work," Pifer said. "I'm glad I do it, and it happened to me so ..."

Pifer spoke about Johnson, saying he would often finish work early, sticking around the office to make small talk with his co-workers, including suspected shooter Syed Rizwan Farook.

According to another colleague, Johnson acted like a hero during the shooting. Denise Peraza said he used a chair to shield her from a hail of bullets.

"I will always remember his left arm wrapped around me, holding me as close as possible next to him behind that chair," she wrote on Facebook, having survived a gunshot wound to her stomach. "And amidst all the chaos, I'll always remember him saying these three words, 'I got you.'"

Johnson had a similarly upbeat attitude about religion as well, according to Pifer. She said Johnson was a fan of saying that whatever religion you have, be the best at it.

"Shannon said it was like a little United Nations in their department," Pifer commented. "People of all religions and races worked with him." 

State Police Stuff a Cruiser Full of Donated Toys for Holidays


Connecticut State Police are making sure every child has a toy under the tree.

They collected toys Saturday for their annual “stuff a cruiser” event in Tolland.

Toys trickled into the Tolland Green early in the morning. Soon, in car after car people drove up with donations. The first table filled up quickly.

“There’s a lot of kids who need a great Christmas so I thought I’d help,” said Jeanne Harris, who donated a doll, a football and a basketball.

“We do this every year it’s such a great cause,” Laura Stevens added.

Despite snow, last year’s event pulled in more than 1,300 toys.

“We’ve gone up to 15 or 16-hundred toys and approximately $1,000 between gift cards and cash,” said Trooper Dan McCarthy, the resident Connecticut State Trooper for Tolland.

Troop C brought in a trailer to hold all of the presents.

“I have kids and they’re much older now so I know their joy opening presents on Christmas, so I just want to share that,” said Harris.

“When you're lucky like I am and many people are to give a little bit you get a lot more, and there are a lot of people out there that still need a little bit of help, we all want this holiday season to be great, especially for our kids,” said Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, a Tolland resident.

Lois and John Hornyack brought their grandchildren with them in the hopes of passing along that spirit of giving.

“We feel that it’s important to teach the girls that they have to give to charities and we try to give every year,” Lois said.

After all, giving back is a gift itself.

“That’s what Christmas is all about. It’s all about giving,” said Carol Karimian.

Donations are being accepted at state police barracks until Dec. 15. From puzzles to Play-Doh, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to make the season a little brighter for a child in need.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Car Hits, Critically Injures Pedestrian in Hartford


A car struck and critically injured a pedestrian in Hartford late Friday night.

Police responded to the area of North Chapel and Ann Uccello streets on Friday at 10:46 p.m. after receiving reports that a vehicle hit a pedestrian. Police identified the injured party as Juan Ramos Jr., 56, of Hartford.

An ambulance transported the pedestrian to St. Francis Hospital to be treated for life-threatening injuries.

The car that hit him was a 2001 Nissan Maxima. The driver is cooperating with police.

Hartford Police Department's Crime Scene Division is investigating.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Bristol Police Investigate Shooting


Police are investigating after a man was found shot in the hip in Bristol after he had called to report he was lying near the railroad tracks suffering from a gunshot wound, police said.

Police responded to the area of Center Street after the man called at about 12:51 a.m. to say he'd been shot there. He told dispatchers he was lying by the train tracks off Center Street.

Officers found Travis Hapgood, 20, walking on Center Street near Summer street. He had what looked to be a small caliber gunshot wound to his right hip.

Bristol EMS responded and transported Hapgood to St. Francis Hospital in Hartford.

He was last listed in stable condition and will need surgery.

The motive for the shooting is unknown and police said the victim hasn't been cooperative with providing them with information.

The Bristol Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division is investigating.

No suspects have been identified at this time.

Causes of 2 House Fires, 1 Deadly, Released


New Britain fire officials are reminding residents to be mindful when using candles or disposing of smoking materials after investigators determined the causes of two recent house fires.

Improperly discarded smoking materials caused the deadly fire at 50 Schultz Street on Nov. 28 that killed resident Michael Tocoinis, 56, and heavily damaged the front porch, according to New Britain fire officials.

The day before, an unattended lit candle sparked a fire that heavily damaged a home at 2134 Stanley Street and burned the arms of the occupant, fire officials said.

Both fires were accidental.

To prevent fires like these from happening moving forward, New Britain firefighters remind residents not to leave candles lit unsupervised and to properly throw out smoking materials into a "non-combustible container."

Fire officials also urge people to having functioning smoke detectors on all floors and to have a practiced home escape plan with two ways to exit.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Most Mass Shooting Guns Obtained Legally: Analysis


The weapons used in this week's massacre in San Bernardino, California, were purchased legally, raising questions about how preventable gun violence is under current U.S. firearm laws, NBC News reported.

Four out of five of all weapons involved in mass shootings since 1982 have been bought legally, according to a database compiled by Mother Jones magazine that looked at the 73 shootings U.S. shooting where at least four people in a public place were killed. 

Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik killed 14 people and injured 21 others this week in San Bernardino using legally purchased .223 caliber assault-style rifles and 9 mm semi-automatic handguns, authorities said. 

For gun control advocates like Mike McLively, a staff attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence based in San Francisco, the shooting resurfaced long-time concerns: "The way our laws are structured unfortunately often times allow people to legally buy guns who shouldn't."

Photo Credit: San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department

Truck Gas Leak Causes I-84 Back-Up in West Hartford


A truck leaking gasoline caused quite a back-up on Interstate 84 east on Saturday.

State police closed the right and center lanes near exit 41 in West Hartford while crews worked to clean it up.

No one was injured.

The scene has since cleared.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Drunken Driver Nearly Hits Police Cruiser Head-On in Sparking Car: PD


A drunken driver in a car almost struck a police cruiser as sparks shot from its undercarriage during a night of increased traffic enforcement in East Windsor Friday, police said.

The car struck the Interstate 91 exit 44 arrow sign, dragging part of it along Route 5 south, which caused sparks to fly, police said.  The vehicle almost hit the cruiser of an officer doing traffic enforcement head on and police arrested the driver on a DUI charge.

East Windsor police made 33 motor vehicle stops Friday night as they honed in on traffic safety enforcement and six of them resulted in arrests, including two for DUI charges, police said.

Marijuana Found in Wesleyan Student's Dorm Room: Police


Police arrested a Wesleyan University student after security personnel found marijuana in his dorm room in Middletown, police said.

Officers responded to 50 Huber Avenue, unit 253, on Wednesday, Dec. 2 at about 9 p.m. after Wesleyan University officials requested that Middletown police respond to a reported narcotics complaint.

Police spoke to student James M. Matias in his dorm room. While they were there, they saw several bags of a green leafy substance they suspected was marijuana on his dorm desk, police said.

Matias admitted to police that he bought the pot and had just been smoking before the officers came to his room, police said.

Matias gave police verbal and written permission to search his room for any other contraband and drugs, police said. Officers found three bags of substances suspected to be marijuana, a metal marijuana grinder with residue, two digital scales, a glass pipe with burnt marijuana residue, a small amount of butaine honey oil and three Xanax pills in a small plastic bag, polilce said.

Police seized those items and brought them back to the department. Test results did reveal the substances in question were marijuana. It amounted to 25.6, 21.10 and 4 grams in each bag. The butane honey oil weighed .4 grams.

Officers charged Matias with a misdemeanor summons and possession of any other illegal drug or less than four ounces of marijuana, police said.

Matias is due in Middletown Superior Court on Dec. 17.

Man Shot Inside Hartford Club


A man was hospitalized after being shot inside Club NV in Hartford early Saturday morning just before closing time.

Police heard shots fired inside the club at 177 Allyn Street at about 1:37 a.m. and found a victim with a gunshot wound to the side in the establishment, police said. It was around the club's posted closing time when police responded.

Officers identified Raymond Ramos, 32, of East Hartford, as the man shot. An ambulance took him to St. Francis Hospital in Hartford to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries. He's listed in stable condition.

The intersection of Allyn and High Streets was closed off with crime tape early Saturday morning, a witness told NBC Connecticut. One woman said she heard people screaming around 2 a.m. and she saw chaos across the street when she looked outside her window. She noticed most of the police activity was outside of Club NV and observed one person being carried off in a stretcher.

“I saw ambulance… two ambulance and a whole bunch of guns," Zomayra Coevas, a neighbor, said. "Plice had guns on them, heavy duty guns. I got scared to see that.”

Police are looking for witnesses and Major Crimes officials are investigating.

This isn't the first time police have investigated an incident at the club.

In August, a man was stabbed in Club NV during a fight, according to police.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

FBI Eyed Texts Between San Bernardino Shooter and Imam


The leader of a San Bernardino mosque said investigators questioned him about text messages he sent to massacre gunman Syed Farook, NBC News reported.

Roshan Abbassi, the assistant imam at Dar-Al-Uloom Al-Islamia, told NBC News the messages were only about food donations Farook promised to make to the mosque during Ramadan.

The two exchanged 38 messages between June 12 and 28, he said, according to his phone records.

Officials have been casting a wide net to track down anyone Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, had contact with before Wednesday’s rampage.

Farook and Tashfeen killed 14 people and wounded 21 others before dying in a shootout with police.

Photo Credit: NBC Nightly News

FBI Searches Home of Farook Friend Who Bought Guns


NBC News has learned that early Saturday the FBI searched the Riverside, California home of Enrique Marquez, the man authorities believe originally bought the assault rifles used in the San Bernardino shooting rampage that killed 14.

An FBI official said that Marquez is not considered a suspect in the shooting.

During the search of Marquez's home, neighbors say, agents cut open the garage door with blow torches, used bomb-sniffing dogs, and temporarily detained his father and younger brother. The man's father told NBC News Saturday afternoon that he does not know where Marquez is and declined further comment.

Federal officials say the two assault weapons were originally bought in 2011 and 2012 by Marquez, said to be a friend of Farook's, but investigators don't yet know whether Farook gave him the money upfront, or obtained the guns from him later, NBC News reported.

Photo Credit: Facebook/LA Times via Getty Images

Vandalism at 'Christmas House' in New Britain


Despite vandals striking a home long known as the "Christmas House" in New Britain, no one is stealing Christmas from the traditional holiday attraction.

Homeowner Rita Giancola, who is in her 90s, has been doing her Christmas display since 1978. The home is decorated from top to bottom with Christmas lights and illuminated figures from snowmen to Santas spanning the entire front lawn.

But at about 1 a.m., the day after Thanksgiving, Giancola got a knock on her door that woke her up. It was the police checking her. That day and again a few days ago, she said some of the figures in her yard were knocked over and a few were destroyed.

It's unknown who may be behind it, but some people familiar with the house have expressed outrage on social media.

It's unknown whether there is a police investigation.

But for now, order has been restored to the display.

Giancola will welcome the public Dec. 18-22 between 6 and 8 p.m. The inside is adorned with Christmas decorations, as well.

 "If they're mad before they come in," she previously said, "they'll leave with laughter and joyfulness - very amazing."

"Oh my God there's so much bad stuff in the world today that when you see all the goodness and joy and all the children, it's just happiness over here. A lotta love goes into this," she said.

The price of admission is non-perishable food or household items, all for area charities.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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