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Bridge Street in Willimantic Reopens

New Whole Foods Stores May Include Tattoo Parlors


Whole Foods is going beyond the traditional grocery store experience in an attempt to reach a newer, younger customer-base.

The Austin-based company said its new venture, 365 by Whole Foods Market, will streamline the retail environment for money-conscious millennials. 

“We are investing in expanding Whole Foods Market in thoughtful ways and more strategic ways,” Whole Foods Market co-chief executive officer Walter Robb said to Bloomberg TV.

The company will engage food and non-food related businesses — including health and wellness retailers and tattoo parlors — that will operate independently within each location, according to its website. The 365 locations will be smaller than the average Whole Foods grocery stores. 

Sales at Whole Foods dipped in the last quarter, dropping 1.8 percent in stores open at least 57 weeks, with more consumers turning to cheaper alternatives like Trader Joe’s and even Wal-Mart. The company said it still remains optimistic that the new venture will help it get back into the black. 

Robb told Bloomberg TV the new banner will help bring a “smaller, more curated selection with excellent prices points" to consumers, while helping boost the company's footprint into newer communities. 

The first three 365 stores will open in 2016, with ten more expected to open in 2017.   

Photo Credit: AP

West Haven Man Arrested on Child Pornography Charges


A West Haven man has been arrested on child pornography charges after police say they found dozens of images of young girls.

Guilford police discovered an IP address that belonged to Kevin Alan Parker, 59, of West Haven in August and the departments worked together, according to West Haven police.

West Haven police said they seized more than 50 images and videos of young girls, between 4 and 11. The images and videos showed them performing lewd sex acts, or naked and posed provocatively with genitals exposed.

Parker was arrested on a warrant and was released on bond.

Photo Credit: West Haven Police

'Broken' Fitbit Reveals Pregnancy


A Brooklyn man learned a surprising bit of data while trying to troubleshoot what he thought was a problem with his wife’s Fitbit: they were going to be parents.

David Trinidad said he and his wife, Ivonne, had both recently gotten Fitbits with heart rate monitors and were using them to stay in shape. One day his wife mentioned that she thought something was wrong with her device, so he took a look.

Trinidad said his wife’s heart rate was above 100 beats per minute for most of the day and that the device had indicated she had been burning fat for an unusually long 10 hours.

“That’s almost impossible,” he said. “I thought something was wrong with the watch.”

So the 34-year-old went to a Fitbit page on Reddit and outlined his issues, trying to get a fix for the device before sending it back to customer service.

It wasn’t long before one user offered up an explanation, saying maybe his wife was pregnant.

“Has she experienced anything really stressful in the last few days or is it a possibility she is pregnant?” the user said.

The father-to-be said that as soon as he saw the reply, “That’s when the light bulb went off.” He said the pair had been trying to get pregnant for a couple months.

Trinidad said he called his wife and told her to pick up some pregnancy tests on her way home from work. Every test came back positive.

Afterward, they were quick to share the news with their family and on social media, creating @babyfitbit Twitter and Instagram accounts for the little one.

“We’re happy, the grandparents are very happy,” he said. “It’s just been great. Friends and family support us, there’s been tons of support online which has been really unexpected.

Photo Credit: Provided by David Trinidad

16-Year-Old Girl Shot While Walking to School in Chicago


A 16-year-old girl was shot Thursday morning half a block from her home while she walked to school in Chicago.

The teen, who asked to be identified only as Alex, told NBC 5 she was walking to school with a friend around 8:30 a.m. in the 1400 block of North Kildare Avenue in Chicago’s West Humboldt Park neighborhood and didn't notice an exchange of gunfire happening on the street. 

"I heard two shots behind me and that's when the third shot hit me like a paintball like right behind so I started running," she said. 

Authorities believe the girl was not the intended target and may have been struck by a stray bullet. Nearby residents described a shootout involving someone in a car and a U-Haul driver. 

"They had a shootout," said one witness, who wished to remain anonymous for safety concerns. "They were shooting back and forth at each other."

The teen girl told officers she was walking on the street when she heard gunshots and felt pain in her leg, according to Officer Jose Estrada with Chicago Police News Affairs. She was taken to Illinois Masonic Medical Center in stable condition, officials said. 

Witnesses reported seeing a shootout near the scene, but police could not immediately confirm that information. According to area residents, someone inside a vehicle opened fire at a U-Haul and the U-Haul driver fired back. 

The U-Haul driver attempted to get away, but crashed into a parked car, causing damage to several vehicles, witnesses said. 

Crecia Vinson said her car was among those damaged in the crash. 

"I was just hoping it was some bullet holes," she said. "But that's a whole lot of damage. Not replacable at all."

Alex said the bullet was still in her leg when she returned home from the hospital hours later, but her family said with rest and eventually surgery, she is expected to recover. 

Neighbors said the shooting is frightening as it happened at a time when other children were walking to school. The teen is the second unintended victim to be shot by a stray bullet in the city in the past week. 

On Friday, 25-year-old Aaren O'Connor was shot while returning from work in the city's Heart of Chicago neighborhood. She died two days later, her family said. 

"The violence just needs to stop," Vinson said. "This nonsense about shooting, riding down the street, killing our kids and damaging each other's property, it's sad. It needs to stop... I just pray the little girl is OK and she comes out on top and whoever is responsible goes down for what happened."

Alex told NBC Chicago she plans to spread an anti-violence message in her community following the shooting. 

"I hate violence," she said. "I try to help [prevent] violence and the fact that it happened to me now- it gives me more time to actually tell people the experience and the violence just needs to stop."

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4 Remaining Oregon Occupiers Surrender



The four remaining occupiers at an Oregon wildlife refuge surrendered Thursday morning after hours of tense negotiations, bringing an end to the weekslong protest over land rights and personal liberties.


Federal officials said Jeff Banta, Sean Anderson, Sandy Anderson and David Fry were taken in without incident after FBI agents surrounded the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge overnight.

The occupation came to an emotionally heated conclusion as Fry, the last to leave, threatened suicide in a phone conversation with self-described "liberty activist" Gavin Seim and conservative radio host KrisAnne Hall that streamed live on YouTube.

"Unless my grievances are heard I will not surrender," Fry screamed. "Liberty or death."

All four arrested are expected to face an arraignment before a magistrate judge in Portland on Friday.

Photo Credit: AP

43 Percent of Americans Are Still Renting Homes


The number of renters across the United States grew to just over 43 percent between 2006 and 2014, according to a new report by real estate site Trulia.com.

According to the survey, half of households in Las Vegas are currently renting, almost a full ten percent increase from the last ten years, NBC News reported.

More millennials between 26 and 34 — 67 percent — were renting rather than buying homes, the survey showed. The increase in men in the rental market was greater than women after the mortgage crisis. Minorities, especially Latinos, were having a hard time recovering from the mortgage crisis.

A recent Bankrate.com survey found poor credit and lack of funds for a down payment were the reasons many American families rent rather than buy their own homes.  

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Wife of Accused Georgia Hot-Car Dad Files for Divorce


The wife of the Atlanta-area man charged with killing their toddler by locking him in an SUV has filed for divorce, NBC News reported.

Leanna Harris submitted paperwork, saying the 10 year marriage was “irretrievably broken.”

Her husband, Justin Ross Harris, is behind bars. His trial is scheduled to begin on April 11.

Prosecutors content he was having marital problems and that he left his 22-month-old son Cooper in a hot vehicle on purpose for seven hours. Temperatures topped 92 degrees that day.

The accused dada claims he drove to work and didn’t realize his son was strapped in the back seat.  

Photo Credit: AP

Undocumented Students Fight for Right for Financial Aid


Connecticut Students for a Dream won the right to admission to state colleges even though they're undocumented students. Now they want to be able to apply for financial aid.

They had caps and gowns for a news conference at the SLOB in Hartford. What they don't have is the papers they need for institutional aid.

Sixteen-year-old Gabriela Valdiglesias, from West Hartford, said, "I constantly worry that I won't be able to go to college. My parents' situation puts me under a lot of stress."

What the group wants is a financial aid system separate from the federal government's rules. Right now the federal government does not give financial aid to undocumented students. And even though the institutional financial aid is a state program it relies on the federal financial aid application. The top Democrat in the state senate calls that a roadblock.

"Those who are motivated to be in Connecticut, to seek higher education, should be afforded every opportunity," said Sen. Martin Looney, (D) New Haven.

One man motivated to be here escaped gangs in his native Guatemala as a teenager, even though he had to come the hard way.

"And I walk," said Edgardo Perez Cabrera, a student at Naugatuck Valley Community College.

"I walk from my house to Texas where my father sleeps. And I am here! I'm living my dream."

But the students said their dreams of university turn to nightmares even after they're accepted.

Angelic Idrovo said she won admission to Western Connecticut State, "but what happened is that my family and I weren't able to pay, weren't able to afford the tuition."

The group said students' tuition already pays for institutional aid. They just want the government to give them a chance to get it.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Officials Warn of Common IRS Phone Call Scams


If the IRS is calling you, hang up.

The IRS would not contact a person by phone, email, text or social medai for personal and financial information, according to the agency's website

When the IRS needs to contact anyone, it is done my mail.

Police in Wethersfield said they have already had complaints about the scams.

"This scam has been going on all over the state for several years. This year is no different. Residents should immediately hang up if they receive one of these phone calls," Wethersfield Police's police chief James Cetran said.

Some callers tell people there is a problem with taxes and local authorities will seek an arrest. Deputy Cheif Scott. P. Custer of South Windsor Police also tells people to just hang up the phone because local police can't arrest people for federal tax cases.

Police said some victims were instructed to send money by either Western Union or Green Dot. 

The IRS has posted ways to stay safe from being scammed. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images

NH Teacher Accused of Student Relationship Appears in Court


A New Haven Public School teacher accused of an alleged sexual relationship with a student appeared in court on Thursday.

Kirvana Jones, a teacher employed by the New Haven Public School system,  faces charges for second degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor, officials from the city of New Haven said. 

At the beginning of February, the New Haven mayor's office told NBC Connecticut that they had been investigating an "unprofessional" relationship with an Engineering and Science University Magnet School student.

The investigation began when another student came forward, alleging inappropriate conduct between Jones and another student. According to the arrest warrant, the witness provided police with partially nude photos of an adult female that she said was obtained from the victim's phone. The photos showed a woman's buttocks, a woman in a colorful bra and purple thong and a woman holding her breats.

Police said when they initially interviewed the 16-year-old victim he denied a relationship and said he had Jones stored in his cellphone as "J" in order to text or call her about homework. The vicitm admited to a sexual relationship after police brought in his legal guardian, the arrest warrant said. 

The boy told police that he and Jones had elevated their relationship to "boyfriend and girlfriend" over the course of two academic years, from 2014 to 2016. He told police it was after they began exchanging text messages and phone calls that Jones told the student she liked him and "boundaries were crossed," the affadavit said. 

According to the victim, Jones began to text sexually suggestive messages to the boy leading up to his 16th birthday, which is on Dec. 4. During this time Jones allegedly sent him four photos that were "identical" to the ones showed to police by the witness, according to the affadavit. 

On Dec. 2, the boy said Jones picked him up and brought him to her New Haven apartment on Chapel Street and engaged in intercourse. After the alleged encounter, the victim said he received a text message from Jones that read: "I can't believe I just did that!"

About two weeks after the incident, the boy said Jones would not let him talk or stand up in class like she had in the pass. According to the victim, Jones allowed him to maintain an above B average when he wouldn't do homework but this changed after their sexual encounter. 

On Feb. 8, police obtained a search warrant for Jones' apartment and found a blue, pink and gold bra that was "identical" to the one shown in photos. Additionally, police took photos of furniture that matched the items shown in the photos.

One juvenile witness told police that Jones called the victim "sloppy" and told him he was "supposed to delete" the photos after she sent them, the court documents said.

Jones was "immediately" removed from the classroom after the investigation came to light, New Haven Public Schools said in a statement.

New Haven school officials said they do not believe any other students or teachers were affected or involved.

Jones was being held on a $75,000 bond but it was reduced to $50,000. 

Photo Credit: New Haven Police

State Rep. Proposes Bill to Legalize Recreational Marijuana Use


 A bill to legalize recreational marijuana use has been introduced by a state representatives, according to documents. 

Rep. Juan Candelaria, a Democrat representing New Haven, proposed bill number 5209 called "An Act Concerning Regulationa and Taxation of the Production, Sale and Use of Marijuana."

The bill asks General Assembly to allow the use of marijuana for people who are 21 years old or older.

The legislation would allow the possession, sale, transport, growth and use of set amounts of marijuana to be legal in the state of Connecticut. 

According to the Hartford Courant, the same bill was propsed by Candelaria at a General Assembly session in January 2015 but the issue was never raised in the committee.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Cruise Ship Passengers Remember Rocky Vacation


Passengers home from the Anthem of the Seas said waves as high as their windows are not what they were expecting.

Veteran cruise ship passenger Deena Abbate said, "I like the calmness of the water, the rocking, gentle rocking."

There was nothing gentle about the rocking aboard the Anthem of the Seas, with 4500 passengers aboard the Royal Caribbean cruise ship when it hit the storm Sunday. Passengers had been ordered confined to cabins but that was wild too.

"The suitcases came out from underneath the bed," she said. "All we could do was sit or lie down on the bed, because you really couldn't even stand up. It was quite rocky, quite harrowing."

She said the damage was primarily cosmetic. The toppled furniture and broken glass was cleaned up but she never did get to warmer weather.
The ship came under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge Wednesday night, back to Bayonne.

That was the end of the line for William Gibbs and his wife. They didn't wait til morning to go home to New Haven. She went to the doctor she was so nervous and stressed.

"I really thought that was it," he said. "I've never seen anything like that."

" I would get on a boat again," said Cris Digovanni. "I'm just not sure with young children at this point in time...."

He and his wife Lauren and son Josh were in an elevator when the storm rocked it to a stop. They had to crawl through a three-foot-wide space to get to their cabin, where relatives had their three-year-old daughter.

"Cece took a nap during the longest and most hard part of the storm and Josh for the most part was very very upbeat through the whole process," he said.

Digovanni said the ship's captain was doing damage control, talking with passengers, on the last day of the trip to the Bahamas turned trip to nowhere.

"He saved us once we were in that situation but I think the consensus among passengers on board was, should we have been in that situation?," he said.

"I would probably get on a boat again at this point."

Royal Caribbean is giving passengers their money back plus fifty percent of what they spent will be good toward another cruise, within a year.

Uber Agrees to Pay $28.5M to Settle Lawsuits


Uber said Thursday it agreed to pay $28.5 million to settle litigation brought by customers who alleged the service misrepresented its safety practices and its fees, Reuters reported.

The two cases, filed in a Northern California federal court said Uber charged passengers a “Safe Ride Fee” of $2.30 per trip to support its background check process. But the company doesn’t use the fingerprint identification required by taxi regulators, according to court filings.

As part of the settlement, Uber also agreed to rename the “Safe Ride Fee” to a “Booking Fee.” Around 25 million riders could qualify to take part in the settlement, Uber said.  

Photo Credit: LightRocket via Getty Images

Ex-Marine Pleads Guilty in Meriden Mosque Shooting


Ted Hakey Jr. entered a plea deal Thursday in Hartford federal court for the hate crime of firing shots into an empty Meriden mosque in the early morning hours of Nov. 14, 2015 after the Paris terror attacks.

More than a dozen members of the Baitul Aman Mosque were in court as the ex-Marine waived his right to a trial.

Federal guidelines suggest Hakey Jr. serve 8 to 14 months in prison for pleading guilty to intentional destruction of a religious property with a dangerous weapon.

"Mr. Hakey, do you have anything you would like to say to the mosque?" NBC Connecticut asked as he left court.

"Not allowed to speak at all yet, but after sentencing I’ll be open to talk to everybody," Hakey Jr. said.

U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea scheduled sentencing for May 10.

"A core mission of the Justice Department is to protect every person against racially, religiously and ethnically motivated violence and intimidation," said U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly.

"Individuals who commit hateful, divisive and violent acts against others in violation of federal law will be prosecuted. All of us have a right to worship freely and without fear of violence."

Hakey Jr. fired four shots with a high-powered rifle at the mosque from his house next door, federal prosecutors said.

In addition to ballistic evidence, prosecutors said they built their case based on social media posts by Hakey Jr. showing anti-Muslim sentiment.

Court documents show after learning about the Paris attacks, Hakey posted on Facebook, “What is gonna be the breaking point to go “weapons free” against Islam?”

"Today’s guilty plea affirms that law enforcement and our criminal justice system are clear, that intolerance will not prevail," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Patricia Ferrick.

As part of the plea deal, Hakey Jr. forfeits the rifle, which was already confiscated, and he must pay $5,130 in damages to the mosque.

"If somebody has been ignorant about something, then you know, hopefully once they are educated they will be repentant and forgiveness actually helps," said Dr. Muhammad Quereshi, the president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Connecticut.

Hakey Jr. is out on $400,000 bond.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

John Lewis Questions Sanders' Civil Rights History


Rep. John Lewis said Thursday he never saw Sen. Bernie Sanders during the most tumultuous years of the civil rights movement, NBC News reported.

"I never saw him. I never met him," the Georgia congressman said. "I was chair of the student non-violent coordinating committee for 3 years, from 1963 to 1966. I was involved in the sit-ins, the freedom ride, the march on Washington, the march from Selma to Montgomery and directed the board of education project for six years."

Sanders was a prominent figure during the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, and was arrested for trying to desegregate school housing.

The charge comes as both Sanders and Hillary Clinton are vying for African-American support moving into the South Carolina primary — and as the Congressional Black Congress PAC endorsed Hillary Clinton.

Photo Credit: AP

CT Officials Roll Out Zika Plan


Connecticut public health officials said Thursday even though in the short term the possibility of someone contracting Zika in Connecticut is minuscule, they wanted to ensure the public that efforts are being made to ensure the state is ready for even a single case.

“We are preparing to prevent, and to avoid and respond in the case that we have any cases,” said Dr. Raul Pino, Commissioner of Public Health, who’s first official day without an “acting” title was today.

Dr. Pino says the state will have the means to test for the Zika virus by the end of the month.

Doctors say Zika is the most problematic for pregnant women because the disease could lead to serious birth defects.

Ted Andreadis with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station says there are 49 different kinds of mosquitoes in Connecticut and only one of them may have the capability to carry the virus.

He said the state will monitor all species, especially along the Connecticut shoreline, but reiterated that risks in Connecticut will remain low even during the summer.

"Let me go on record as saying that I do not anticipate that we will see it but we will monitor for it and we will test for it,” Dr. Andreadis said.

State officials said people need to take precautions like changing plans to South and Central American destinations if they’re pregnant, and wear mosquito repellent when the weather turns. They cautioned against any overreactions.

Gov. Dannel Malloy said, “You might ask is this a crisis? It is not a crisis but it is something state government is preparing for and we began this process about two weeks ago."

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Three Story Brick Building on Fire in New Haven


New Haven firefighters are responding to the scene of an active fire at a three story brick building. 

The second alarm fire at 91 Rosette Street broke out sometime after 5:00 p.m. on Thursday afternoon. The fire broke out on the second floor of the 22 unit apartment building. 

The fire department said the fire was contained to one apartment and one occupant was rescued who went into cardiac arrest. The victim was transported.

About 30 to 40 occupants were kept in a bus to keep warm until the Red Cross can relocate them.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Wind Chills Near 30 Below Zero This Weekend


The coldest blast of Arctic air this season will set in on Saturday and last through Sunday, when temperatures will plunge below zero and wind chills will be near 30 below zero.

The National Weather Service has issued a wind chill watch for the entire state Saturday night and Sunday morning.

Tomorrow finally brings a break in the consecutive days with new snow, though an abundance of clouds is expected with temperatures only in the 20s.

A few flurries will move through Saturday morning, marking the arrival of the bitter cold.

This is an ideal time to download the NBC Connecticut App, which has an interactive radar.

Temperatures will be in the single digits and teens Saturday morning and only rise into the teens in the early afternoon. A gusty north wind will make it feel like 0 degrees during the day.

Anyone with plans Saturday evening should prepare for wind chills approaching 30 below zero.

Sunday morning will be the coldest of this stretch by far, with actual air temperatures falling into the double-digits below zero in the hills. Wind chills will continue to be near 30 below zero.

The gusty north wind continues Sunday, so even though temperatures rise into the teens, it will feel more like 0 degrees.

It's not all bad news for Valentine's Day. Unlimited sunshine will make for a very bright day!

It's been exceptionally difficult to set record low temperatures in recent years, but they are a possibility Sunday.

In the Hartford area, the record low is -9 set in 1979 and the record low max is 11 in 1979.

In the Bridgeport area, the record low is 3 set in 2015 and the record low max is 18 in 1979.

Monday should be dry but a storm will be on Connecticut's doorstep come Tuesday.

Unfortunately for people and businesses that depend on snow, this storm doesn't look like a classic Nor'easter.

Snow will likely change to sleet and plain rain as temperatures rise into the 40s on Tuesday.

Temperatures will remain in the 40s on Wednesday with a blend of clouds and sunshine.

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Injuries Reported After Truck and Car Crash in Farmington


A car and a tanker truck that was carrying milk collided in Farmington early Friday morning.

According to police, the crash happened on Route 4, at Monteith Drive, right near the high school and town library.

Police said there are injuries to those involved. LifeStar was called, then canceled.

The road was closed, but has since reopened.

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