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The 15 News Stories That Dominated 2015


In many respects, 2015 was an emotional year in news. The self-proclaimed Islamic State left a trail of terror on four continents, demonstrations and riots erupted in U.S. cities protesting police violence, the number of mass shootings surpassed days in the year by one count, and the world was forced to acknowledge Europe's growing migrant crisis after images of a 3-year-old Syrian boy's lifeless body on a Mediterranean beach went viral.

But despite war, violence and tragedy dominating the headlines, 2015 was filled with plenty of bright moments, too: the U.S. thawed relations with Cuba, tackled global warming and said "I do" to same-sex marriage. And then there was "The Dress."

From the tragic to the intriguing, here are the top 15 stories that dominated the news:

ISIS Goes Global [[347924741, C]]

In 2015, ISIS continued its rampage across the Middle East in a bid to expand its territory and establish a self-declared Islamic "caliphate" in Syria and Iraq. The group preaches that the end of the world is near and claims the world is made up of unbelievers who seek to destroy Islam, justifying attacks against other Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

The self-proclaimed Islamic State expanded its footprint in 2015, seizing the Iraqi city of Ramadi — currently being retaken by Iraqi security forces — and the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, a UNESCO world heritage site where the militant group destroyed monumental ruins and antiquities.

It has terrorized nations across the globe with coordinated attacks in Paris, Tunisia and Lebanon and the beheading of a captured citizen of Japan. The group also continued to target religious minorities in the region, beheading 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians kidnapped in Libya and killing and enslaving thousands of Yazidis.

ISIS' ability to galvanize its sympathizers to take action by urging extremists to carry out "lone wolf" attacks became evident in the wake of a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, by a husband and wife. Like the gunmen in the Sydney cafe siege and the Texas Draw Muhammad contest, the couple did not appear to have any direct contact with the militant group but had nonetheless been radicalized by its jihadist propaganda, according to FBI director James Comey.

SCOTUS Says 'I Do' to Same-Sex Marriage

In a landmark opinion, a divided Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples can marry nationwide, declaring that refusing to grant marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples violates the Constitution.

The ruling "affirms what millions across this country already know to be true in their hearts: our love is equal," lead plaintiff Jim Obergefell, who challenged Ohio's ban on same-sex marriage, told reporters outside the court house. "The four words etched onto the front of the Supreme Court — 'equal justice under law' — apply to us, too."

But one Kentucky clerk defied the nation's highest court and became a household name. Rowan County clerk Kim Davis stopped issuing marriage licenses after the Supreme Court effectively legalized gay marriage, citing her religious beliefs and "God's authority." Two gay couples and two straight couples sued Davis, arguing that she must fulfill her duties as an elected official despite her personal religious faith. A federal judge ordered her to issue the licenses, and an appeals court upheld that decision. Davis refused and spent five days in jail for contempt of court.

Europe's Migrant Crisis [[324964541, C]]

A surge of refugees and migrants made their way across the Mediterranean to Europe in 2015, sparking a crisis as countries struggle to cope with the influx, and creating division in the EU over how best to deal with resettling people.

According to the International Organization for Migration, more than one million migrants and refugees have entered Europe in 2015 by land and sea. Of those, nearly 800,000 people, mostly Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans concentrated in refugee camps in Turkey, ventured across the Aegean Sea to reach Greek shores, the IOM reported.

Driven out by the Syrian war and other protracted conflicts, the desperate and deadly struggle to reach Europe gained international attention when images of a toddler's lifeless body found lying face-down on a Mediterranean beach, ricocheted across social media.

Though 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi was only one of approximately 684 refugees who died in the Aegean this year, the Syrian boy's death helped galvanized public opinion and pressure governments to take action.

#VideoTapesMatter [[301471201, C]]

Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, Sam Dubose, Eric Harris and Nicholas Robertson joined a growing number of people killed by police this year. And though there isn't official government data for determining how many people have been fatally shot by police each year, according to a Washington Post tally, 944 people have been killed — 34 of them were black and unarmed.

But most of them did not become a household name. They did not garner a trending hashtag.

What separates them from the names listed above? None had viral videos of the shootings.

Due in part to the ubiquity of cellphone, surveillance, dashboard and body cameras, police encounters are captured on video more then ever before. And seemingly, as in the case of Laquan McDonald, who was fatally shot in 2014, charges against the officers involved aren't brought forth without the videos.

From Ferguson to Los Angeles, law enforcement killings of unarmed black men under questionable circumstances have sparked outrage, civil unrest and a heated national debate about policing in the United States. And thanks to the footage, a tectonic shift in public awareness.

Charleston Church Shooting

The slaying of nine people at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, by a white gunman reignited an old national debate about the rebel flag and other icons of the Confederacy, which some see as symbols of their Southern heritage while others as a painful reminders of America's darkest chapter.

The 21-year-old gunman, Dylan Roof, was an avowed white supremacist who, according to authorities, had a website featuring a 2,444-word white supremacist screed and posted photos of himself holding a Confederate flag on Facebook.

The shooting prompted calls for the state to remove the Civil War icon that has flown at the capital grounds for more than five decades. After mounting public pressure, on July 10, the Confederate battle flag was lowered for the last time.

Shortly after, companies like Wal-Mart, Sears, Amazon and Ebay announced they would also remove Confederate flag merchandise from their stores and sites.

The Iran Nuclear Deal

After a decade of diplomatic efforts that frequently appeared on the verge of collapse, the United States and its international partners, the U.K., France, Germany, Russia and China — collectively knows at the P5+1 — reached a historic accord with Iran to limit Tehran’s nuclear ability in return for lifting international oil and financial sanctions.

The goal of the agreement is to limit the country's nuclear activities to peaceful purposes, and to block Iran’s ability to construct a nuclear bomb.

Before July's deal can be formally implemented, Iran must first meet all of the benchmarks set forth by the accord's negotiators. The International Atomic Energy Agency has been tasked to verify that required restrictions has been put in place for sanction to be lifted.

In December, the Obama administration said it expects to start lifting sanctions on Iran as early as January after the United Nations' nuclear watchdog found no credible evidence that Tehran has recently engaged in atomic-weapons activity.

But the agency reported that the country had pursued a program in secret until 2009, longer than previously believed, fueling critics in Washington, Israel and neighboring Gulf nations who say the deal will merely delay the country’s path to nuclear weapons.

'Deflategate' Blows Up

Americans may have never cared as much about air pressure as when New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was accused of under-inflating footballs during the 2015 AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Brady led a 45-7 blowout of the Colts and took the Patriots to a fourth NFL title, but a league investigation later found that 11 of 12 of the Patriots' game balls weren't filled up to the minimum, 12.5 pounds per square inch, in the game. The case against Brady involved supposed instructions to equipment managers, including orders to destroy a cell phone, and an unwillingness to cooperate with an NFL probe.

It convinced Commissioner Roger Goodell, who handed out a four-game suspension for violating the integrity of the game. But many New England fans were unconvinced Brady had done anything wrong, with one Massachusetts woman's May obituary proclaiming "Brady is Innocent!!"

For a time, the scandal pierced the image of a player with a seemingly perfect life. But Brady had the last laugh, for at least this year – a federal judge overturned the league's suspension and the appeal won't be heard in court until after the 2016 Super Bowl, where Brady could win his fifth ring.

Nepal Rocked by Earthquake [[301303011, C]]

Deadly earthquakes twice rocked the top of the world in April, killing more than 8,000 people in Nepal, India and China, in the worst natural disaster of the year.

Nepal saw the worst damage and nearly all of the casualties when the 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit on April 25 near its capital, Kathmandu. The shaking triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest that took the lives of 19 people at base camp.

The recovery effort turned tragic after less than three weeks, when a 7.3-magnitude rocked the area on May 12, killing dozens more. That day, a U.S. Marine helicopter carrying six Marines and two Nepalese soldiers on a relief mission went missing, and was later confirmed crashed.

The tremors were a reminder of the hulking power that made the Himalayas the tallest mountains in the world. It was so powerful that Everest moved over an inch southwest, according to Chinese mapping. 

#TheDress Does Impress

Answering "Blue and black or white and gold?" wrong could have ignited a friendship-ending debate when the effects of The Dress were in full effect this February. The striped dress in a low-resolution photo divided opinion like the Red Sea and showed just how powerfully the Internet had come to dominate our lives.

The debate scorched around the world once BuzzFeed wrote about it, with celebrities and strangers at the bar alike brashly declaring which side they were on. The BuzzFeed post was viewed more than 38 million times by the end of the year, and that doesn't take into account all the other places that highlighted the color-shifting dress, from this website to "The Tonight Show."

#TheDress went so viral it jumped out of the computer screen and into real life. Roman Originals, which made the dress and confirmed that it was blue and black, experienced a huge spike in sales of the dress this year. It did make one single white and gold version for a Comic Relief charity auction.

The Donald Trump Show [[338107532, C]]

After a history of flirting with a presidential bid, billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump launched his race to the White House by promising to "build a Great Wall" along the U.S. border with Mexico to keep out the "rapists and drug dealers."

The inflammatory comments ignited a media firestorm and forced Spanish-Language network Univision to dump Trump's Miss Universe pageant. The comments also propelled him into first place in the polls.  

Since then, Trump also made insulting remarks about Fox News' Megan Kelly and presidential candidate Carly Fiorina. He mocked Vietnam veteran John McCain's war record and taunted a reporter with a disability. He retweeted a joke about Iowans, following it up by insinuated Iowans had brain issues. He called for "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States," in the last week, has used crude language to describe Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton's 2008 primary loss to Barack Obama.

For any other candidate, in any other time, any one of these would have spelled political suicide. Yet, after each one of Trump's seeming gaffes, he continues to lead the GOP field in national polls, leaving many wondering whether the “laws of political gravity” will ever “catch up” to him.

Cuba, U.S. on Speaking Terms

Fifty-four years of hostilities between the United States and Cuba officially ended this year, at least symbolically, when the Stars and Stripes was raised over the newly opened U.S. embassy in Havana.

There have been years of embargo and insults since diplomatic relations were broken off in early 1961, including the failed Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis, the nearest America ever came to nuclear war.

In 2000, the countries bickered over the fate of Elian Gonzalez, the 6-year-old Cuban boy found floating on an inner tube and taken to live with relatives in Miami, only for his father to claim, and successfully argue, that little Elian belonged back in the country his late mother had dragged him out of.

But by 2015, Secretary of State John Kerry was in Cuba to reopen the embassy, taking note of conflict and differences but "pushing aside old barriers and exploring new possibilities."

Pope Visits With New Message [[197828921, C]]

The Roman Catholic Church in the U.S. has spent much of the 21st century embroiled in scandal, but it was a heartening year thanks in large part to the visit of Pope Francis, the third time a pope has visited the country.

A three-city tour over six days in September boosted Francis' already winning image, saying all the right things about the clergy sex abuse scandal and giving Catholics an affable, relatable champion seeking to retune the church's message in a changing society.

From the moment he landed in Washington, Pope Francis' personality won over Americans' hearts. He followed President Obama out of the airfield in a humble little Italian car, took selfies with smiling children and addressed Congress – a first for a pope – about the need to embrace the climate and immigrants.

His parting message to a flock of hundreds of thousands in Philadelphia: raise a good family, whatever beliefs you subscribe to, and the Catholic Church appreciates you.

Animals Break the Internet

The day that gave us #TheDress also unleashed another insanely viral moment onto the Internet: two spunky llamas' escape from a Phoenix assisted living facility.

The police pursuit of an oddly elusive black and white llama down city streets captured more attention than almost any car chase has lately, with newscasts showing the helicopter feed live. The "llama drama" left viewers happy long after the fugitives were lassoed. 

That brief fascination was nothing like the uproar over the killing of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe. One of the most well-known lions in Hwange National Park, Cecil was wounded on July 1 and later killed by an American dentist and big-game hunter.

The furor burned so hot that the dentist, Walter Palmer, had to close his business for a time. While the shooting was legal, airlines and the U.S. government moved to limit what game trophies can be brought back to America.

Landmark Climate Change Accord [[287977901, C]]

With Christmas Eve seeing 70-degree temperatures up and down the East Coast, 2015 is virtually assured to be the hottest year on record, following a record-topping period from January-November. Warmer ocean temperatures are the main driver of heating trend, according to scientists

The rising thermometer is just one potential problem that researchers have pinned on climate change –extreme weather like the massive flooding South Carolina and extreme drought in the Western U.S. may be exacerbated by climate change, which made the landmark climate change talks in Paris this December that much more urgent.

The historic deal that nearly 200 nations agreed to in Paris this December would limit greenhouse gas emissions so average global temperatures don't rise more than 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. The accord was greeted with hugs and cheers from world leaders.

But the agreement has holes, according to critics. There are no sanctions to punish countries that don't abide by the rules, and even President Obama, a vocal supporter, said "no agreement is perfect, including this one." Days later, he appeared on NBC's "Running Wild with Bear Grylls" to show how much climate change has changed the landscape in Alaska.

The Curious Case of Rachel Dolezal

In a year where the Black Lives Movement changed the way presidential candidates talked about race and the National Book Award for Nonfiction went to a memoir about the burden of being black in America, the weirdest news story about race focused not on a black person but a white woman claiming to be black.

Rachel Dolezal was the head of an NAACP chapter in the Pacific Northwest when, in June, her parents told an NBC affiliate she was white despite representing herself as black for years.

Her hair, her skin color, even her family came under scrutiny as the nation wondered what made her want to misrepresent her race. She admitted as much on "Today" a month later, and said in November she has white parents, but also touched off a deeper debate about race in America. What advantage could she have gained when so many work so hard so that black people can receive the same privileges white people do?

While most of the reaction toward Dolezal was negative, some didn't see the harm, like the singer Rihanna. She called Dolezal "a bit of a hero" in an October interview: "Black is a great thing, and I think she legit changed people's perspective a bit and woke people up."

Photo Credit: AP

Blend of Clouds and Sunshine on Christmas Day


Christmas Day will be dry with a blend of clouds and sunshine. More clouds than sun are expected along the shoreline. Temperatures won't be quite as warm as Christmas Eve, though they will still be in the lower 60s.

This weekend is unsettled.

Clouds will rule on Saturday with a few showers later in the day and at night. Temperatures will near 50s degrees.

Some showers may linger early Sunday, but the midday period will be dry. Then, another round of showers arrives late in the afternoon and in the evening. Temperatures will be near 60 degrees.

A storm early next week will bring snow to ice to rain. High pressure will be entrenched over Quebec and drifting southeast. That's prime placement for a winter storm in Connecticut.

The timing continues to be in flux, but right now the storm looks to occur mostly on Tuesday. A few inches of snow are possible statewide before a changeover. Inland areas likely see ice to rain while shoreline areas quickly go over to rain.

Demonstrators March on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile Over Laquan McDonald Shooting


Demonstrators marched downtown on the Magnificent Mile over the fatal police shooting of Laquan McDonald.

Dozens were seen chanting "16 shots and a cover up," and "Rahm gotta go in 2016."  They also staged die-ins while on the street.

A group that calls itself The Coalition for a New Chicago said the march would start at noon on the south end of the shopping district and move north.

The Magnificent Mile Association said in a statement that they “respect the American freedom to assemble and the process in the pursuit of social justice. We hope that any assembly on Thursday will continue to be peaceful.”

The release of the dashcam video of the 2014 shooting of the black teenager has sparked protests across the city, including a citywide walkout on Dec. 9 with many calling for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s resignation.

Meanwhile, Radio calls obtained by NBC5 through a Freedom of Information Act request Wednesday reveal that a dispatcher requested a Taser to subdue McDonald the night he was shot 16 times by Officer Jason Van Dyke.

Photo Credit: Justin Ray

Bricks Fall From New Haven Building


Some bricks fell from a building in New Haven late Thursday morning.

Bricks seem to have loosened from the third floor of the structure of a building at 55 Warren Street and fallen to the ground.

No one was injured and anyone inside was evacuated. No one was inside at the time of the incident.

No further information was immediately available.

2 Men Arrested in Newington 7-Eleven Armed Robbery


Police arrested two men suspected in an armed robbery at a 7-Eleven in Newington earlier this month.

Anthony Shipman, 31, of Hartford, and Jason Vaughn, 31, of New Britain, are facing multiple charges including robbery and larceny.

Two masked men, at least one wielding a handgun, came into the 7-Eleven at 461 New Britain on Dec. 16 and robbed cash and cigarettes from the store, police said. One of the men attacked the clerk during the armed robbery, according to police.

Newington police responded to the store at about 1:50 a.m. and searched the area, but didn't find the suspects that day.

Detectives from area departments assisted with the investigation because similar robberies occurred in surrounding towns.

Police identified Shipman and Vaughn as the suspects in the Newington robbery and arrested them.

Officers charged Shipman and Vaughn with first-degree robbery, conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery and sixth-degree larceny. Vaughn was also charged with criminal use of a firearm and criminal possession of a firearm.

Police held both men in custody on a $250,000 bond. Shipman was expected to appear in court on Dec. 18 and Vaughn was scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 22.

Photo Credit: Newington Police Department

Middletown Police Seek Information on Car Possibly Striking Pedestrian


Middletown police are seeking information from the public as they investigate a pedestrian possibly struck by a motor vehicle Tuesday evening.

The pedestrian would have been in the southbound right turn lane on South Main Street near Warwick Street and the accident would have been at about 5:16 p.m. on Dec. 22, police said.

Police ask anyone who might have seen a pedestrian in the area at about that time on that date to contact Middletown's detective bureau at 860-638-4140.

Tissue Found at McDonald's Wasn't From Human: PD


Tissue discovered at a McDonald's parking lot in Hartford early Thursday morning did not come from a human fetus as originally reported to police, according to police.

Police were investigating an apparent fetus found in the parking lot of the fast food location at 170 Washington Street, but the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner confirmed that it was not human tissue found. Police said the fetus reports they received were therefore false.

Police responded Thursday morning after a 911 call from a McDonald's employee.  Officers put up crime scene tape cordoning off part of the parking lot as they investigated.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Man Found Dead in Home During SWAT Situation: PD


A 41-year-old man was found dead in his Branford home Thursday after police attempted to make contact following reports of a domestic dispute.

Police say they initially responded around noon to interview Joseph Franco of 636 Main Street, 3rd floor, after a reported domestic dispute during the early morning hours. When officers arrived it appeared that Franco may be in possession of firearms and despondent, so they called in the South Central Regional SWAT team for assistance.

Police say after unsuccessful attempts to communicate with Franco, members of the SWAT team and the department’s K9 entered the home and found Franco deceased. The cause of death is unclear at this time.

Branford police have called in the Connecticut State Police Major Crimes Division to assist in the investigation, which is ongoing.

The road was shut down for several hours while police attempted to make contact.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Reported Missing Kayaker Located in Milford


Milford firefighters responded to reports of a missing kayaker on Dec. 24.

They sent marine units and as of 3:09 p.m. the incident was almost over because the kayaker had been located.

There is no word on any injuries.

No more information was immediately available.

Facebook Video Q&A: Winter Storm Questions Answered


The first winter storm of the season is expected next Tuesday, so NBC Connecticut Meteorologist Tyler Jankoski took to Facebook to answer questions.

With temperatures in the 60s and 70s leading up to Christmas, most people wouldn't think snow is expected as soon as next Tuesday.

Watch the video to learn more about what the First Alert weather team knows about the storm system as of Christmas Eve.

App users should click here to watch the video.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

Home Search During Heroin Investigation Leads to 2 Arrests


A suspected street-level heroin dealer who goes by the name "Shaq" and an accomplice are facing multiple charges after police searched a Manchester home in a drug investigation, police said.

The East Central Narcotics Taskforce and Manchester police conducted a search of 42-46 Birch Street, the home of Scott "Scotty P" Pires, 25, believed to be an accomplice of suspected street-level heroin dealer Shaquan "Shaq" Robinson, 29, of Hartford.

Police arrested him both men in a lengthy investigation into the illegal sale of heroin in and around the Birch Street area, police said.

In the search, police found a facsimile firearm and seized it as evidence.

Both Robinson and Pires are facing charges including home invasion, first-degree robbery, conspiracy to commit first-degree unlawful restraint, conspiracy to commit first-degree threatening, third-degree larceny, conspiracy to commit reckless endangerment and second-degree breach of peace. Robinson is also facing a third-degree assault charge.

Robinson is being held on a $500,000 court-set bond and Pires is being held on a court-set $300,000 surety bond.

Photo Credit: Manchester Police Department

ADELE PARODY VIDEO: Hello, Snow? It's Ski Sundown


Hello, snow? It's Ski Sundown. And the popular slopes are wondering where you are so people can start skiing.

On a Christmas Eve of record-breaking warmth, Ski Sundown in New Hartford has released a hilarious parody video of Adele's popular "Hello" music video off her album that has made record sales in the millions.

"We've called in all our favors, we're a little down in the dumps, and maybe only Adele can help," Lori Shield, marketing director for Ski Sundown, said in an email Thursday. "Happy Holidays from all your friends at Ski Sundown!"

Watch for Ski Sundown's jokingly pleading shoutout to meteorologists Ryan Hanrahan and Bob Maxon in the video as they await colder weather for making snow.

See the ski area's take on how they're coping with the record warmth and snowless winter in this humorous parody video.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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Naugatuck Police Hand Out Holiday Cheer


Police officers in Naugatuck were out in force Thursday handing out some holiday cheer.

Officers celebrated Christmas Eve by passing out Dunkin Donuts gift cards to residents, according to a post on the Naugatuck Police Facebook page.

Police say if you didn't get one not to fret - they were passed out at random and don't reflect your standing on Santa's naughty or nice list.

Photo Credit: Naugatuck Police Department

Remains of Missing Hartford Mother Found


Vermont State Police say they have found the remains of a missing Hartford mother.

The Officer of the Chief Medical Examiner in Vermont has identified remains found in Goshen, VT as those of Denise Hart, a 24-year-old Hartford native who went missing in January.

Multiple agencies were involved in searching for Hart, who leaves behind a young son. She was last seen leaving a friend’s home in Sudbury, Vermont on Jan. 25  and reported missing by her mother on Jan. 31

Police say two people discovered around 12:54 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 22. Hart’s death has been ruled a homicide and the investigation is ongoing.

One Teen Dead, Another Injured in Bridgeport Shooting


One teen is dead and another injured after a shooting on State Street in Bridgeport Thursday evening.

Police say they responded to 1160 State Street for reports of a shooting. When they arrived they found two teenage victims suffering from gunshot wounds.

According to Bridgeport Police Captain A.J. Perez, one victim, identified a 14-year-old male, was shot in the chest and died of his injuries. The other victim, a 17-year-old male, was shot in the hand and leg and transported to St. Vincent’s hospital. His injuries are not considered life-threatening.

Police believe the 14-year-old victim was caught in the crossfire between two groups during a shootout.

“The 14-year-old was crossing the street when he got shot,” Perez said.

Surveillance video reveals a group of people outside a grocery store in the area. Two men approached the group and one of them pulled a gun, according to police. A man in front of the store also pulled a gun and the two began shooting. Police estimate between 10 and 15 shots were fired.

Police say the deceased victim lives in the neighborhood and attends a nearby high school.

City councilwoman Evette Brantley says the area is normally safe and this kind of violence is unexpected.

“It’s unfortunate because I watch these kids got to school every day and I’m just hurting,” she said.

She also asks that the community pray for the family.

“To have a loss at this time it’s very difficult for any family,” she said.

Police believe the incident is drug related and have good leads. They are hopeful an arrest is in the near future.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Inflatable Decorations Stolen From Bristol Holiday Display


A squadron of Santas in Bristol is missing some members after thieves struck a holiday display this week.

Right along busy South Street in Bristol stands a formation of inflatables. Giant characters parade up the slope past some apartments.

One front door is almost blocked by donations from people who stop by to salute the snowmen. The packages are headed for the Salvation Army. It'll be the fourth drop off of its kind.

"Well it started when I was about four years old," said Kris Salls. "We just - we were supposed to get a Grinch one year and we could not get one so we ended up getting a snowman and it just went from there."

Kris spends money he makes shoveling snow and doing landscaping to set up the display. He's only 15.

One of the stolen characters had been especially popular this month.

"The Mr. Potato Head - everyone was posing for pictures in front of it and everything," Salls said.

He reported the theft to police, and an officer returned with a donation of decorations. Maybe the thieves were after metal, maybe they're just vandals.

"I'd forgive 'em if everything was returned to the same condition they took it in - I would press no charges and ask no questions if everything was just returned," he said.

Kris will keep his display up and keep collecting clothing and canned food for the Salvation Army until Jan. 3.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Hamden Boy Home for Christmas with Cancer in Remission


On this Christmas Eve, 4-year-old Christian Reynoso’s family received the best gift possible.

“There’s nothing else I could ask for the holidays other than this,” his mother Kate Annunziato said. “He did not need a transfusion today and all his blood work came back negative for leukemia cells, so he currently is in remission.”

Christian is home for the holiday with a new haircut and Santa Claus pajamas.

“I promised him as soon as we got home from his appointment that he could put them on,” Annunziato said.

Christian always had the Facebook posts from firefighters near and far to cheer him up during the past few months of chemotherapy, Annunziato said.

A Branford fire captain started Fire Trucks for Christian after his leukemia diagnosis in August. Now the page has more than 7,900 likes.

“It’s nice to have that to look at night or when we were in the hospital for the month and he was really sick,” Annunziato said, “to kind of look at it every day and to see that people really care, even people that don’t know us.”

Turns out this youngster who loves firefighters is also interested in fishing.

“He asked for a fishing rod for Christmas and Santa got him a fishing rod,” Annunizato said, “so hopefully once the weather is nice again we’ll be done with the chemo and he can go out and go fishing.”

While there’s no better Christmas gift for this mother than to be home celebrating with her son, Annunziato is thinking about other families that aren’t as fortunate.

“The only other thing I could ask for is that everybody recognize that there are plenty of patients that aren’t going to be home for Christmas,” she said, “and there’s plenty of people that work at the hospitals, the firefighters, the EMTs, police officers that are working tonight and tomorrow to keep your family safe.”

Christian heads back to Yale New Haven Hospital next Tuesday to continue chemotherapy that will hopefully keep his cancer in remission.

“The goal now is to keep him with no leukemia cells in his bone marrow,” Annunziato said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Taser Request in McDonald Shooting


In the weeks since the release of a video showing the fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was released, there have been questions as to why officers didn’t use a Taser to subdue McDonald rather than deadly force.

Radio calls obtained by NBC5 through a Freedom of Information Act request Wednesday reveal that the question was also asked just moments before the shooting.

“Someone have a Taser?" an officer radioed from the scene. "This guy is walking away but he’s got a knife in hand."

An officer responds that there there was one coming from Mulligan and Archer.

A dispatcher then replies, asking if any officers closer to the area who had a Taser could “help out.”

McDonald who was allegedly breaking into vehicles at a South Side trucking yard while armed with a knife, was fatally shot by an officer 16 times on Oct. 20, 2014. Dashcam video appeared to show McDonald walking away from officers before he was shot.

It’s not clear from the radio calls whether any officers were at the scene with a Taser before McDonald was shot. But within seven minutes of the initial radio call, McDonald was shot.

The officer involved in the shooting was charged with first-degree murder last month. The dashcam video’s release has prompted the firing of former Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy and sparked a series of protests throughout the city.

Photo Credit: Family Photo

Loved Bakery Burns on Christmas Eve


Just hours after people lined up to grab Christmas treats at a Delaware bakery, the beloved bakery went up in flames Christmas Eve.

The blaze broke out at Serpe and Sons Bakery on Kirkwood Highway in Elsmere just minutes after closing time around 6 p.m. Thursday and quickly spread, said the state fire marshal.

Firefighters arrived to find flames shooting through the roof. As SkyForce10 hovered overhead a short time later, firefighters from six different companies could be seen going in and out of the building as thick smoke poured from the large building.

Two firefighters required evaluation at an area hospital, said New Castle county dispatchers.

The blaze broke out just hours after people packed Serpe's to pick up cakes, cookies, Italian bread and rolls for Christmas meals.

Photos posted to the bakery’s Facbeook page Thursday morning showed lines out the door:

The Serpe family even turned to Instagram to thank customers as the fire was burning.

No word yet on the extent of damage nor a cause of the fire that left Christmas ruined for at least one family:

The owners didn't want to talk on camera as they watched firefighters douse the blaze. Customers were left devastated.

"I'm actually heartbroken right now, to have it happen on Christmas Eve is horrible," said customer Dana Campbell.

Photo Credit: NBC10
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A Stolen Skull, Metal Bands: The Year in Weird, Wacky News


Along with tops news headlines on mass shootings, terrorist activity and the latest pronouncement of the presidential debates, there were stories that involved suspected occult activity and a shot up Dell personal computer.

NBC News rounded up some of the stories that had a tint of the weird and bizarre. There was the Super Bowl TV ad by Nationwide Insurance that featured a kid who is dead.

The thrash metal band GWAR wrangled in court over the remains of their lead singer, Dave Brockie, that they keep under lock and key for an undisclosed reason. But GWAR isn’t the weirdest tale of truth. There’s the macabre story of German filmmaker F.W. Murnau’s skull being stolen. Wax drippings found at the scene suggested that the theft may have occurred during a ritual occult ceremony.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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