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1,300 Bags of Heroin, Gun Found in Hartford Crash


Hartford police seized 1,300 bags of heroin and a gun found in a car involved in a crash Monday. 

Officers were investigating a basic accident when they discovered the heroin and a .40 handgun in the driver's possession, police said. 

The driver was a convicted felon from Windham whose name hasn't been released at this time. 

Police haven't released information on any charges at this time. 

Photo Credit: Hartford Police Department

Dog Shot Trying to Protect Owner


A Philadelphia woman who is dealing with a tremendous loss gained a new companion: the dog who tried to protect her brother during a deadly home invasion.

Nakia Pyatt, 41, was shot and killed by armed robbers during a home invasion Jan. 16 in the Frankford section of the city. Pyatt’s dog, Rhino, a 7-month-old Boxer-pit bull mix, tried to defend his owner and was shot in the leg.

Rhino was taken to the Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center (VSEC) in Philadelphia, where staffers found a bullet in a hind leg and another object, either a bullet or fragment, lodged nearby.

Dr. Ron Ben-Amotz of VSEC said the bullet was embedded in soft tissue in Rhino’s leg.

"He’s putting weight on it and getting around well. He’s wagging his tail and looking pretty happy," Ben-Amotz said.

Pyatt’s sister, Ivory Poinsett, a mother of three, said her brother had previously suggested she take Rhino to protect her family. At the time, Poinsett declined. She changed her mind after her brother’s death.

"We know how much my brother loved his dog," Poinsett said. "Everywhere my brother went, the dog went. He would have wanted me to have the dog."

Poinsett created a GoFundMe page to help pay for Rhino’s medical care and ultimately reached her goal of $2,800. Rhino is expected to make a full recovery, but further checkups will determine whether he'll need surgery.

The pup was still healthy enough however to leave VSEC and go home with Poinsett and her family. It was a much-needed happy moment for a woman who continues to deal with her brother’s unsolved killing.

"It’s been a horrible month," Poinsett said. "But Rhino’s been giving us all peace so I’m kind of happy that the doctors are clearing him and he’s normal again. I mean, he still has the bullets embedded in him, but he’s still a happy, big boy."

For Poinsett, Rhino is more than a dog. He's a way to keep her brother’s legacy alive.

"My brother always said he would be there for us," Poinsett said. "So when Rhino survived, I felt that he had left him behind to watch over us and give us peace."

No arrests have been made in Pyatt’s death. Police continue to investigate.

Photo Credit: NBC10

Blizzard Warnings Blanket Plains, Midwest


Blizzard warnings and watches were issued for five states in the Plains and Midwest, including Iowa, but the snow is not going to bury the Hawkeye State until after most of the caucusing is over, NBC News reported. 

"The southwest corner of Iowa is most likely where the caucuses will be affected by light snow, but the storm should not impact most places," Weather Channel Lead Meteorologist Kevin Roth told NBC News.

Still, the storm is likely to pack a wallop in the five states under blizzard watches and warnings, dumping up to 18 inches of snow and snarling traffic for millions. And it remains to be seen whether the threat of bad weather will keep Iowans from the caucus sites. 

Photo Credit: The Weather Channel

POTUS Congratulates Teen on AP Test


The president personally invited a Los Angeles teenage whiz kid to the next White House Science Fair Sunday via Twitter.

The 17-year-old brainiac, Cedrick Argueta, is a senior at Lincoln High School who earned a perfect score on the AP Calculus exam last spring.

Argueta joined an exclusive club of only a dozen students in the world to have completed the feat.

"Cedrick; way to go on your perfect score!" President Barack Obama tweeted Sunday.

Argueta learned last week that of the 302,532 students who took the Advanced Placement Calculus AB exam in May, he and 11 others turned in a flawless test, according to the Los Angeles Unified School District.

"It's the most important achievement in my 17 years," he said.

In addition to what test officials called a "superior" performance on the college-level exam made up of more than 60 multiple-choice and free-response questions, Argueta also earned perfect scores on the English and math sections of the ACT college-entrance exam, the LAUSD said.

"All the credit can't come to me," he said. "I have to give credit to all my classmates and my teachers. Not just my teacher Mr. (Anthony) Yom — he's a great teacher — but all my teachers that came before him in my elementary and middle school."

His father, Marco, was so proud, he purchased 10 copies of a Spanish-language newspaper that ran a front-page story calling Argueta a genius.

"I bought many newspapers to send to my sisters in El Salvador," the beaming dad told Telemundo 52.

Argueta, who volunteers at the Bonnie Brae Convalescent Hospital where both of his parents work, hopes to get accepted to Caltech as the first step toward an engineering career with NASA JPL.

Photo Credit: KVEA
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Fire Rips Through Building in LA


Propane cylinders and combustible storage items fueled a large fire Monday morning at an industrial building in the Glassell Park area north of downtown Los Angeles.

A passer-by called 911 to report the fire at about 5 a.m. in the 3000 block of North Fierro Street. More than 140 firefighters responded to the fire, which burned for about two hours and sent thick smoke over the industrial business area.

Andrew Rammel had just stepped outside his home in a nearby neighborhood when he and his wife noticed smoke.

"That big black cloud reminded me of one thing -- there was an explosive accelerant causing that," Rammel said.

No injuries were reported. Firefighters, some on adjacent rooftops, worked to protect neighboring buildings and no homes were threatened by the fire.

Three other buildings were damaged by the fire.

A neighboring business owner said he received a report that propane tanks began exploding early Monday, leading to the fire at Diamond Straw Inc. He said another fire was reported at the same business, which manufactures plastic straws, about one year ago.

"It just went out of the control," said Jack Youredjian, owner of Western Drug, which provides medical supplies. "I'm just hoping and praying the back part of our business isn't damaged.

"I'm kind of shocked as to how they're attacking the fire. The fire department is doing a great job."

Firefighters also faced strong wind gusts, which fanned flames and redirected hose streams.

By about 6:30 a.m., white smoke began to drift from the building, but fire crews remained at the scene. San Fernando Road is closed between Los Feliz Boulevard and Fletcher Drive during the morning drive.

"There is going to be a significant impact to traffic," said spokesman Brian Humphrey, of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Firefighters declared a knockdown at about 7 a.m. Details regarding the cause were not immediately avaialble.

Refresh this page for updates.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV

Warmth Leads Into Wednesday Rainstorm


Unseasonably warm weather is here for this whole work week, though it will turn cooler by this weekend.

Tomorrow is a brighter day, with temperatures well into the 40s.

Rain moves in Wednesday morning after the morning commute and falls heavily in the afternoon.

Highs on Wednesday will be in the 50s.

Some sunshine returns Thursday as temperatures once again climb well into the 40s.

Friday will lots of sunshine with highs near 40.

An Arctic front will slice into northern New England on Sunday, but wash out somewhat before reaching Connecticut.

Still, it will be mainly cloudy with a breeze and a few flurries to close out the weekend.

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Ala. Police Hunt 'Armed and Dangerous' Kidnap, Robbery Suspects


Alabama police on Monday were hunting for two "armed and dangerous" suspects who allegedly committed a string of armed robberies and abductions on Sunday morning, NBC News reported. 

Brian Fitzgerald and Brittany Harper — both 31 — were wanted on one count of first-degree kidnapping and one count of theft, The Vestavia Hills Police Department said. Fitzgerald is also wanted on a count of burglary in connection with the incident and there should be "similar charges and warrants" from other jurisdictions soon, the police department added in a statement.

The duo kidnapped a woman from her Vestavia Hills home and abducted a male inn manager in Tuscaloosa. They are also believed to be linked to at least three other robberies on Sunday, according to police in Hoover, Alabama. 

"The two suspects are armed and dangerous and should not be confronted by anyone except law enforcement," the Vestavia Hills Police Department said in a statement.

Photo Credit: Eddie D. Crim / Vestavia Hills Police Department

Medical Examiner to Rule on Cause of Death in Vernon


Police are investigating a death in Vernon after responding to a medical call in Vernon.

Police said they responded to an address on Village Street around 6 a.m. for a medical call and EMS pronounced a person dead. He has been identified only as a male.

The medical examiner was notified and will be conducting an autopsy, police said.

No additional information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: Vernon Police

Deadliest Chicago Jan. Since 2000


January brought a bloody start to 2016 as Chicago's streets saw more violence than they have in 15 years.

The city had 51 murders last month, a massive jump from the 29 reported in January 2015. There were 292 shooting victims in 242 separate shootings from Jan. 1 to 31, up from 136 victims in 119 shootings during the same time last year.

CPD spokesman Anthony Guglielm called the rise in violence “unacceptable," citing gang conflicts for most of the shootings.

“The vast majority of incidents originated from petty disagreements that escalated into gun violence that tore apart families,” Guglielmi said in a statement. “We will continue to work tirelessly on ways to stop violence, and restore accountability and trust in communities throughout the city."

More than 350 officers and 31 sergeants have been moved from foot patrols into squad cars to “increase their visibility,” according to Guglielmi, and that narcotics units have raided many “problematic” areas within the city.

CPD also partnered with more Cook County Sheriff's officers, decentralized gang and enforcement units and closed many “businesses that pose a public safety threat."

Photo Credit: Christian Science Monitor/Getty
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Greek Islanders Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize


Ten of thousands of migrants have landed on the shores of the Greek island of Lesbos this winter, though many perished in the frigid waters. The locals of Lesbos have been flung into the roles of rescuers and their courage, compassion and self-sacrifice have inspired a Nobel Peace Prize nomination. 

"One boat was filling with water — there were 18 children in it, including a three-month-old baby. If we hadn't been there, they'd have drowned," said Thanos Marmarinos, 62, who has traded fishing for towing in boats full of desperate migrants. 

A refugee camp director Efi Latsoudi says she is angry, frustrated and often overwhelmed and said "it would be an empty, meaningless thing to win a prize as long as people are suffering and dying like this."

For Spyros Galinos, mayor of the city Mytilene, the Nobel nomination was a big honor but not a priority. 

"The first priority is that the international community should intervene and stop the crime that's being committed by the Turkish smugglers," he said. "Right now, lives are being lost in the Aegean and there's no reason that should be allowed to happen."

Photo Credit: Bill Neely / NBC News

5 ECSU Students Charged With Breach of Peace at House Party


Five Eastern Connecticut State University students, including two members of the university baseball team, are facing charges after a late Friday night college party in Willimantic spilled outside a private home and police received noise complaints, police said. 

ECSU students Hunter Hamlin, 20, of Mansfield Center, Steven Odonnell, 19, of Meriden, Collin Keane, 19, of Tolland, Joseph Siecinski, 19 and Zachary Wilkins, 19, of Willimantic, charged with breach of peace.

Hamlin was listed as a pitcher on the ECSU Warriors' baseball team for the 2015 season and Wilkins was on the team roster last year as a first baseman.

Police said they discovered 100 college-aged party-goers in and outside a home on Prospect Street after responding to investigate numerous calls reporting a "very loud college party." Several of the people at the party were in the road, blocking traffic. 

“This type of belligerent behavior will not be tolerated within the city," Willimantic Police Lt. Alex Coriaty said in a statement. 

Police charged all five students with second-degree breach of peace. The suspects were released on written promises to appear in Danielson Superior Court on Feb. 8. 

ECSU released a statement about the incident and said the students will be disciplined, and that could include suspension or dismissal.

“We are disappointed that a handful of students disrespected our neighbors and cast a cloud over the good behavior of the other 5,000 students who study each day on our campus. For the past two years, we have extended the student code of conduct to off-campus behavior. The students arrested this weekend will be subject to our judicial process, which includes a range of disciplinary options, including suspension and dismissal,"  Ken Bedini, vice president for student affairs, said in a statement. 

"We apologize to any residents who were inconvenienced or affected by this unacceptable conduct.  We will continue to educate our students on appropriate ‘good neighbor’ behavior and healthy lifestyles, while working closely with local officials to monitor and manage the situation,” Bedini's statement says. 

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Dog Dies in West Hartford Fire


A dog died in a fire in West Hartford Monday morning and a family has been displaced.

The fire broke out in the basement of a split-level home in the 1100 block of North Main Street around 3 a.m. 

The father woke up when smoke alarms went off, saw smoke coming from the kitchen and quickly gathered his family, including another adult and two older kids, and helped get them out safely. 

The family's two pets were also inside, but one of the dogs didn't survive the blaze.

The family does have other family to stay with while their home is uninhabitable.

Officials said there is smoke damage to the entire home.  

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Police Arrest Hartford Ballpark Burglary Suspect


Hartford police arrested a convicted felon suspected of multiple thefts from the Dunkin' Donuts Park baseball stadium construction site, the future home of the Hartford Yard Goats. 

Felix Leon, 39, of Hartford, is accused of eating and drinking food stored in the construction trailers during burglaries and larcenies in August and September, police said. That led police to some DNA evidence that the state lab processed, identifying Leon as the suspect. 

Leon, who is a convicted felon arrested four times previously in Hartford, was already incarcerated for unrelated burglary charges, police said. He provided police with detailed statements of all the burglaries at the Hartford Downtown North baseball stadium development. 

Police served Leon four burglary arrest warrants and charged him with third-degree criminal attempt at burglary, eight counts of third-degree burglary, 11 counts of third-degree criminal mischief, two counts of third-degree larceny, two counts of second-degree larceny and third-degree criminal trespass. 

Hartford Police Department Central Burglary Detectives and patrol officers investigated the case. 

Photo Credit: Hartford Police Department

QU Student Arrested, Suspended After Police Find Weapons in Car


A Quinnipiac University student was arrested and suspended after weapons were found in his car following an investigation prompted by a concerning post on social media, police and school officials said. 

Police received a complaint on Jan. 25 about a social media site post that showed a Quinnipiac student firing a handgun into the ground off-campus. 

In their investigation, officers searched the car of Quinnipiac student Nicholas Pappas, 19, of Bay Side, New York, and found two pairs of brass knuckles, an expandable police baton and an automatic switchblade knife, police said. Police seized all four weapons. 

Hamden applied for and obtained an arrest warrant, charging Pappas on Jan. 29 with four counts of having weapons in a motor vehicle. 

Pappas has been suspended from Quinnipiac "pending the outcome of his student conduct meeting," according to Lynn Bushnell, vice president for public affairs. 

“We will always remove any individual whose actions threaten the safety and security of our community," Bushnell said. 

Pappas was released from police custody after he posted a $15,000 bond.  He is scheduled to appear in Meriden Superior Court on Feb. 12. 

Photo Credit: Hamden Police

Water Department Impersonators Get Into Elderly Couple's Home: PD


Newington police are warning residents to be wary of scammers trying to get into your home after two men gained access to an elderly couple's home by impersonating water department officials. 

Late afternoon on Friday, a man who identified himself as a water department official told an elderly woman at a Moreland Avenue home that her water was contaminated due to a broken water pipe in the area and that he would need to check her water, police said. She let him in and he turned the kitchen sink on an d off, doing the same thing in the first-floor bathroom. 

Meanwhile, a second man entered the house and bumped into the woman's husband. He told him he needed to check the water meter in the basement, police said. 

Then, the two men ran from the home when a relative arrived and confronted one of them asking why he was in the house. 

Police said that one of the men was in his mid 20s and no description was given for the other man. Both of them were wearing lanyards with badges or IDs attached and had portable radios, police said. 

The men fled the scene in a grey SUV. 

While the residents don't believe anything was taken from the home, police are urging residents to be careful before letting anyone in. 

"When people show up at your home without notice claiming to be from the water department or other utility company wanting to check a problem, don’t allow them entry. Ask for identification and call the company to verify that the person and the reason they are there is legitimate," Newington police said. 

Jailbreakers Allegedly Took Hostage


Three men who escaped a Southern California jail more than a week ago allegedly held a taxi driver hostage, had haircuts and went shopping at a Target while on the run, officials said on Monday.

Orange County officials offered a detailed timeline in the escape of inmates Bac Duong, 43, Jonathan Tieu, 20, and Hossein Nayeri, 37, revealing a man was arrested for allegedly smuggling tools into the jail to help them escape.

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas announced the arrest of Loc Ba Nguyen, who was not an employee or inmate at the jail, at a morning press conference. Rackauckas said Nguyen was one of more than 60 search and arrest warrants served during the wide-ranging investigation. It wasn't immediately clear if Nguyen had an attorney.

All three escaped inmates were back in custody by Saturday after a massive manhunt.

Duong, Tieu, and Nayeri escaped from the Orange County Central Men's Jail in Santa Ana on Jan. 22, in what officials called an elaborate effort believed to have been planned for about six months. The inmates allegedly cut through a steel grate, half-inch steel bars and plumbing tunnels before making their way to an unsecured part of the jail's roof and using makeshift ropes to rappel several floors to the ground. 

At a media briefing Monday, Cpt. Jeff Hallock said that someone picked up the trio from the jail or nearby before they hailed a taxi driver at gunpoint, taking him hostage for days.

While on the run the three men allegedly went shopping at Target store in Rosemead and got haircuts in El Monte. They also answered a Craigslist ad for a white SUV, which they stole.

Hallock said the inmates spent a few nights at a motel in Southern California, then drove to San Jose, where they stayed for several nights. Duong and Nayeri had a physical fight in a motel room about whether or not to kill the taxi driver and bury his body, Hallock said. Shortly after, Duong and the taxi driver left San Jose and returned to Santa Ana where he turned himself in. The taxi driver was not injured and was helping investigators, Hallock said.

Prosecutors also mentioned there was insufficient evidence to charge ESL jail teacher Nooshafarin Ravaghi, who was arrested last week for allegedly assisting in the escape.

Investigators found Nayeri and Ravaghi had more than a teacher-student relationship, but did not confirm it was a romantic affair, Rackauckas said. He also mentioned letters that were found between the two appeared to have been written by Nayeri, not Ravaghi.

Ravaghi was set to be released Monday and expected to remain in Orange County.

Duong was taken into custody on Friday after he walked up to a civilian in Santa Ana and said he wanted to turn himself in. The San Francisco Police Department arrested Tieu and Nayeri on Saturday after receiving a tip from an observant witness, Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said.

Nayeri had been in custody since September 2014, Tieu since October 2013 and Duong since December.

The inmates are currently being held in isolation cells and will be arraigned Monday.

Photo Credit: Orange County Sheriff’s Department

Free Dental Services for Children Through Give Kids A Smile


For the last 13 years, a Connecticut organization has been hosting Give Kids A Smile, an event that provides free dental care to children who would otherwise receive none, and several events are planned throughout February.

Community Health Center’s annual event provides free, easily accessible dental services to local, qualifying children and raises awareness of the epidemic of untreated dental disease.

More than 37,500 children are eligible to receive free care during these events.

Dozens of dentists, hygienists, assistants and volunteers will make this event possible.

Here are the dates, times and locations of the events:

  • Saturday, Feb. 6, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Community Health Center of Meriden, 134 State Street, Meriden. Call 203-237-2229 for information.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 10, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Community Health Center of Waterbury, 51 North Elm Street, Waterbury. Call 203-574-4000 for information.
  • Friday, Feb. 12, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Day Street Community Health Center, 49 Day Street, Norwalk. Call 203-854-9292 for information.
  • Monday, Feb., 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Community Health Center of New Britain, 85 Lafayette Street, New Britain. Call 860-224-3642 for information.
  • Monday, Feb. 15, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Community Health Center of Bristol, 395 North Main Street, Bristol. Call 860-585-5000 for information.
  • Monday, Feb. 15, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Community Health Center of Danbury, 8 Delay Street, Danbury. Call 203-797-8330 for information.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 16, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Franklin Street Community Health Center, 141 Franklin Street, Stamford. Call 203-969-0802 for information.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 16, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Community Health Center of Middletown, 675 Main Street, Middletown. For information, call 860-347-6971.
  • Friday, Feb. 19, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Community Health Center of New London, 1 Shaws Cove, New London. For information, call 860-447-8304.

2 Arrested After Cocaine Intercepted in Mail


Police arrested a man and woman after a controlled cocaine delivery operation and a 9-month-old in the home of the suspects at the time of the arrest is now in state Department of Children and Family Services custody. 

Felix Gonzalez-Adorno, 31, of Hartford, and Alexandria Fernandez, 35, of Hartford are facing narcotics charges. 

Special Operations Group members, Hartford Police Department Vice Narcotics Unit and the United States Postal Inspectors Office helped the Department of Homeland Security execute a controlled delivery of 300 grams, or 11 ounces, of powder cocaine, police said. 

Hartford police and U.S. postal inspectors intercepted a parcel containing cocaine in two plastic bags before its scheduled delivery. A man and woman at the address on the package received the package, so police arrested them and seized the drugs. 

The man, identified as Gonzalez-Adorno, grew combative during the arrest, but police were able to take him into custody after a brief struggle. 

Police found a 9-month-old baby inside the home while the arrested Gonzalez-Adorno and the woman and turned the infant over to DCF custody. 

Police charged Gonzalez-Adorno with possession of narcotics, possession with intent to sell narcotics and interfering with police. Fernandez was charged with possession of narcotics and possession with intent to sell narcotics. 

Simultaneously, law enforcement made an arrest in a related scheduled delivery in West Hartford, seizing an additional 210 grams of cocaine, police said. 

Photo Credit: Hartford Police Department

Woman Charged in Hamden Bank Robbery


Hamden police have arrested a woman accused of robbing a local Webster Bank in August.

Police said Julie Shepard, 51, of Hamden, robbed the bank at 5 Helen Street branch on Aug. 25.

She was wearing a neck-length wig and dark-colored pants and handed a teller a note, which said they had a gun and demanded money, then she ran on Helen Street, police said.

Shepard has been charged with first-degree robbery and fifth-degree larceny.

She was detained on a $200,000 court-ordered bond and is scheduled to appear in court in Meriden on Feb. 11.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation assisted in the investigation.

Photo Credit: Hamden Police

State Police Identify Woman Found Dead in Winchester


State police have identified a woman found dead in Winchester and state police are assisting with the investigation, according to officials from state police.

Winchester police responded to a home in the 500 block of Moore Avenue in Winsted on Jan. 31 at 5:35 p.m. and found Patricia Nikstad, 58, of Winsted, deceased at the scene. 

Winchester police and the Litchfield State's Attorney Office requested State Police Western District Major Crime unit respond and take over the investigation. 

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner responded and will examine Nikstad's body to determine the cause and manner of her death. 

Police said the incident isn't of a suspicious neighbor and the public isn't in danger. 

The case remains under investigation. The scene was still active as of 12:02 p.m.

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