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Man Charged in Tainted Heroin Case


Hartford police have arrested a man suspected of supplying dangerous tainted heroin connected to at least one death.

Southington police reached out to Hartford police after a fatal heroin overdose in the suburban community and said someone in Hartford, known as “X,” was selling "tainted" heroin.

Hartford police identified Xavier Quiles, 26, of East Hartford, as the suspect and set up several undercover drug purchases, police said.

Police searched his car and determined that Quiles was stashing the heroin at his East Hartford home, so they reached out to East Hartford Police.

When police apprehended Quiles while he was leaving his home, police said they found 50 bags of heroin. Inside the house, they found an additional 453 bags of packaged heroin, 28.9 grams of heroin/fentanyl, 50 grams of cocaine, several empty wax paper sleeves, cutting agents, other items used to package heroin and $11,727 in cash, police said.

East Hartford police arrested Quiles and turned him over to Hartford police.

Tests on the heroin revealed fentanyl, a drug added to heroin that police said makes it highly potent and frequently deadly to people who overdose.

The heroin bags investigators seized were identical to the bags located near the victim of the fatal heroin overdose, police said.

Quiles was charged with possession of narcotics, possession of narcotics with intent to sell, possession of narcotics with intent to sell within 1,500 feet of a school and operating a drug factory.

Police said they also seized the Nissan Altima Quiles was believed to have used during several of the drug sales.

Photo Credit: Hartford Police

Watch: 'Firenado' Scorches in Missouri


A "firenado" formed in Missouri on Wednesday as a massive brush fire swept through Platte County, burning more than 1,000 acres of land amid whipping winds.

The fire took over 75 firefighters about eight hours to subdue the flames, according to NBC affiliate KHSB.

Whirling winds caused some of the flames to swirl up in tornado-like funnels, catching the eyes of firefighters on the scene. Deputy Chief Dean Cull of the Southern Platte Fire Protection District shot a video of the "firenado" and posted it on Facebook.

The fire, which according to officials was caused by the spark of a lawn mower, started at about 10 a.m. Wednesday morning, affecting both the Leavenworth and Platte County regions of Missouri. A small business near the flames in Platte County was evacuated, but most residents avoided vacating their homes during the 1,300-acre burn. 

KHSB reported that the National Weather Service issued a Fire Weather Warning for the affected areas until Thursday evening.

No injuries were reported but two to three buildings, mostly older barns in the area, were destroyed. 

Photo Credit: Southern Platte Fire Protection District

DNA Leads Police to South Windsor Home Burglary Suspect


A man suspected of breaking into a South Windsor condo has been arrested after police tracked him down through DNA, police said.

Robert M. Cummings, 50, of East Hartford, is suspected of breaking into the Twin Circle Drive condominiums on Sunday, Sept. 13.

A resident had just arrived home around 1 a.m., opened her door, found a tall, thin man, dressed in all black, standing in her kitchen with a gun in his hand, so she ran and called 911, police said.

Officers brought in a canine unit and searched for the intruder, but did not find anyone, but evidence provided DNA, which was a match to Cummings.

Police arrested Cummings Thursday on a warrant. He was being held at a correctional facility on other charges and has been charged with burglary in the first degree while armed with a deadly weapon, larceny in the sixth degree, criminal possession of a revolver and carrying a pistol or revolver without a permit.

He was held at the court on $250,000.00 surety bond and was arraigned later Thursday morning.

Photo Credit: South Windsor Police

McDonald's to Start Selling Beer in South Korea


McDonald's customers in South Korea will soon be able to pair their favorite fast-food with a cold beer, NBC News reports.

The franchise plans to offer beer with "premium" burgers at its newest location in Seongnam, near the South Korean capital of Seoul.

Starting Feb. 22, when the restaurant opens, the "Signature Burger," which costs about US$6, can be upgraded for an additional fee to include a choice of draft beer.

Although McDonald's offers alcoholic beverages in various European locations, this will be the first time an Asian location will serve anything besides soft drinks since 2004. 

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images

Warm Weekend Leads to Multiple Snow Threats


A warm, fairly tranquil weekend is on tap before multiple threats for snow next week.

A flurry is possible this evening but it will be harmless, then snow and rain showers of greater consequence move through overnight.

Temperatures soar to near 50 tomorrow with a blend of clouds and sunshine. A stray rain shower is possible late, especially in northern areas of the state.

Sunday's also near 50 with an abundance of clouds.

Rain going over to snow is likely Sunday night into Monday. A coating to 2 inches of snow are possible by daybreak Monday.

Tuesday should be issue-free in the weather department before a major storm threatens in the midweek timeframe.

There is high confidence that the storm forms and high confidence in a heavy precipitation event for Connecticut  between Tuesday night and Thursday, but First Alert forecasters aren't sure if it will be snow, an icy mix or rain.

The value to be found in the forecast at this time range is that people with plans in that time range should have an alternate idea in mind, but hold off on making a decision this far out if possible.

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Police Investigate Shooting on Mather Street in Hartford


Police are investigating after a man was shot on Mather Street in Hartford on Friday afternoon.

The male victim was shot in the upper torso in the area of 150 Mather St., police said.

He was brought to Saint Francis Hospital and his injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

UConn Police to Begin Wearing Body Cameras This Month


Police officers at the University of Connecticut will begin wearing body cameras this month.

The school announced on Friday that seven officers, including six officers at the Storrs campus and one at the UConn School of Law, are being equipped with the cameras for use during the spring semester.

Plans call for expanding that pilot program to comply with a state law that requires several agencies, including UConn, to have all officers wearing the devices by July 1.

Barbara O'Connor, the school's director of public safety and police chief, said the university already uses cameras in its cruisers and believes the body cameras will provide an extra level of transparency.

“Body cameras will augment our current program of in-car cameras and we look forward to implementing this technology,” O’Connor said in a statement.

The cameras will record all interactions with the public, and can be used to verify events and actions that may come into dispute, she said.

Photo Credit: San Diego Sheriff's Department

Last of 'Angola 3' Prisoners Released


The last of the "Angola Three" inmates still behind bars has been released after more than four decades in prison.

Albert Woodfox was released Friday after pleading no contest to manslaughter and aggravated burglary in the 1972 death of a prison guard.

Woodfox and two other men became known as the "Angola Three" for their decades-long stays in isolation at the Louisiana Penitentiary at Angola and other state prisons.

Prison officials said they were kept in solitary because their Black Panther Party activism would otherwise rile up inmates.

Woodfox consistently maintained his innocence in the killing of guard Brent Miller. He was awaiting a third trial in the case when he was released from custody. Woodfox turned 69 on Friday.  

Photo Credit: AP

Man Shot in New London Is in Critical Condition


A 26-year-old man is in critical condition after he was shot several times outside a gas station in New London early Friday morning and police are asking anyone with information to come forward.

Police responded to Ravi Store at 283 Broad Street around 1:15 a.m. after a clerk reported that there had been a fight inside the store and the clerk pushed the people to an area near the gas pumps, police said.

One of the people involved in the fight fired several gunshots, hitting the victim several times.

The victim then got into his car and drove to Connecticut Avenue, but lost control of his vehicle near Rogers Street.

A police officer who was on the way to the scene found the victim.

"He thought he had just a motor vehicle accident until he realized the victim was suffering what appeared to be gunshot wounds inside of the car." Deputy Chief Peter Reichard, of the /New London Police Department, said.

The injured man was brought to Lawrence and Memorial Hospital's emergency room and then transferred to Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Staff of Lawrence and Memorial described the man's injuries as critical .

Police have no information on a suspect and ask anyone with information about the shooting should call the New London Police Department's main number (860)442-4444 or the Detective Bureau number of (860)447-1481.

Callers can also use the TIP411 System.

Anonymous information and tips can be sent to NLPD by texting NLPDTip + the information to Tip411 (847411), or by clicking "Submit a Tip" on  the department's Facebook page.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Baby Dolphin Dies at Hands of Argentina Beach-Goers


A baby dolphin died on a beach last week in San Teresita, Argentina, after a group of people passed the animal around for pictures, according to the Argentina Wildlife Foundation.

Beach-goers at the resort in Argentina's Buenos Aires province pulled the baby dolphin and its older sibling from the water when the animals swam close to shore.

According to AWF, at least one of the animals — both Franciscan dolphins vulnerable to extinction — was killed, although the non-profit Fundación Mundo Marino said in a statement it could not confirm the animal had died. 

Photographs and videos of the incident surfaced on Facebook and Twitter, showing the small dolphin clutched by a beach-goer and surrounded by a growing crowd.

The dolphin is later seen in a YouTube clip, shared by animal rights organization PETA, lying motionless on the beach.

"One can only imagine the trauma experienced not only by this baby, who was passed around like a toy by marauding tourists, but also by his or her grieving mother," PETA wrote on its website Thursday, urging authorities in Argentina to track down and arrest the people responsible.

In a statement posted Feb. 16 in Spanish, the AWF said the Franciscan dolphin population has dwindled to fewer than 30,000.

The organization also stressed that, because of its thick skin, the dolphin can't survive for long out of the water in Argentina's hot climate. High temperatures can cause dehydration and death, which may have been the case for the baby dolphin in San Teresita, according to the AWF.

The AWF said the incident should highlight the importance of leaving dolphins in the water and helping to rescue them when they appear to be in trouble.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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Connecticut Claims Commissioner Resigns


Claims Commissioner J. Paul Vance Jr. resigned last week according to a letter sent to Gov. Dannel Malloy.

"I have several professional goals that I would like to pursue that would conflict with the obligations of the Claims Commissioner position," Vance wrote in the letter.

Vance wrote that his resignation be effective on Mar. 4, 2016. 

According to the Hartford Courant, Malloy is working to appoint a new commissioner.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

New Haven Promotes First Black Woman to Police Captain


The New Haven Police Department now has its first African American woman to rise to the rank of captain.

"Beyond this humble honor I react with joy," Captain Patricia Helliger told a packed city hall Friday morning, "But also with a sense of awkwardness that it would take until now for this appointment to happen."

Captain Helliger’s promotion comes after two decades of serving in the department. Most recently she was the lieutenant in charge of the records division.

"All the 20 years I’ve been on the job, I’ve never noticed the fact we did not have a female African American or black female at the top," Helliger told NBC Connecticut, "And it was just very overwhelming when I realized I would be the first."

In front of family, friends, city and community leaders and police officers past and present, Helliger’s nephew pinned on her new badge. Then Mayor Toni Harp (D) of New Haven led the swearing-in.

"Today, we are especially proud of how New Haven Police department reflects the community it serves," Harp said during her remarks, "Men and women who are racially and culturally diverse who respect and embrace that diversity for the strength it implies."

Chief Dean Esserman praised Helliger for the work she has done outside of her daily police duties like carrying on the legacy of the late community leader Ola Mae Reddick.

"There is no one who has kept her name alive more than Lt. Helliger," Esserman said, "Who has fed families, who has raised money, who has taken care of families publicly and privately, who has had toy drives."

By breaking this glass ceiling, Helliger recognizes her responsibility as a role model.

"By being the first, I am encouraged that this gender and color line broken today will pave the way for more women who look like me," she said, as the crowd erupted in cheers.

Before this promotion, Helliger said she is most proud of designing a program that is reducing a backlog of arrest warrants. She said last year more than 500 people with outstanding warrants turned themselves in.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Torrington Man Accused of Killing Mom Over Drugs Sentenced to 30 Years


A young Torrington man who police said killed his mother while they were arguing about him going to drug rehab has been sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Nicholas Hulme was arrested in November 2014 when he was found in Sleepy Hollow, New York, 80 miles away from the crime scene in Torrington.

He admitted to killing his mother, 49-year-old Wendy Hulme, after arguing for hours about his drug addiction, according to the arrest warrant.

Nicholas Hulme, who was 18 at the time of the crime, told police that he and his mother were driving to a drug rehab clinic in New York state the morning of Nov. 3, 2014 when they stopped for lunch in Newtown and he decided he didn't want to go, according to the warrant.

As Wendy Hulme turned the car around and headed back to Torrington with her son, the two began arguing over money and drugs, Nicholas Hulme allegedly told police.

They continued to argue after they got home, and Nicholas Hulme said "his mother came at him" and he grabbed her throat, choking her until she was unconscious, then "brought her to the floor," according to the warrant.

Nicholas Hulme then took his mother's car and bank card, withdrew $100 from an ATM and went to Waterbury to buy heroin and crack, police said. He took the drugs, then drove to through New York City, New Jersey, Bridgeport and Fairfield over the course of four days before ultimately arriving in Sleepy Hollow.

He was found with his mother's car at the Sleepy Hollow train station two days after police discovered Wendy Hulme's body in the bathroom of her third-floor apartment.

Police said Wendy Hulme's injuries appeared to indicate that she had been strangled, and the medical examiner determined that she was strangled.

Her mother, who reported Wendy and Nicholas Hulme missing on Nov. 5, told police Nicholas Hulme moved back home about three months ago and wanted his mother to pay off his drug dealer, according to the arrest warrant.

The victim's sister told police Wendy Hulme had left her home in recent weeks because her son had become violent, the warrant says. Law enforcement and government sources said Nicholas Hulme was already on juvenile parole at the time of the murder.

Nicholas Hulme has been sentenced to 30 years in prison, followed by 10 years of special probation.

Photo Credit: Westchester County Department of Correction/Facebook

Police Arrest Woman Accused of Robbing New London Dunkin’ Donuts

Governor Proposes Modernizing Parking Signs for People With Disabilities


The governor wants to change the look of the signs denoting parking spaces for people with disabilities and he’s introduced a bill to replace the image of a person sitting passively in a wheelchair with a more active one.

The new symbol, the “Modified International Symbol of Access,” suggests independence and engagement, and focuses on the person rather than the chair, according to the governor’s office.

Gov. Dannel Malloy also wants to remove the word “handicapped” from the signs and replace it with “reserved.”

“For decades, Connecticut has been at the forefront in fighting discrimination against persons with disabilities, and this proposal is just one small, simple change that we can make. Even though it will have zero costs, it can have an important long-term impact by fostering a deeper understanding of accessibility,” Malloy said in a statement.

His proposal is to install the news signs times when a new accessible parking space is created or the old sign needs to be replaced.

Malloy said this will prevent additional costs to taxpayers or businesses.

Cigna has already decided to voluntarily convert their signs, according to the governor’s office.

“I’m excited to work along with the Governor in changing our handicapped symbol to one that displays both physical and mental independence,” Jonathan Slifka, the governor’s liaison to the disability community, said in a statement. “It is my sincere hope that we can all view the spirit of the sign rather than the literal vision and agree that this change is appropriate and long overdue.”

Stephen Morris, the executive director of Favarh, The Arc of Farmington Valley, started the “Change the Sign, Change the Attitude” last fall to promote adopting the new design in Connecticut and created an online petition that to date has over 2,000 signatures.

“Changing the accessible parking sign is not the biggest nor the most important disability-related issue that we face as a state, however it is important to my friends at Favarh and to more than 2,000 people who signed our petition. It’s also important to the degree that it will bring much needed attention to larger issues such as the misuse of accessible parking spots and the inaccessibility of many buildings and public places in our community,” he said. “We may all need an accessible community at some point in our lives. This isn’t just about changing a parking sign, it’s about public awareness of disability issues. And this isn’t about changing the community for a few of us. It is about improving the community for all of us,” he said in a statement.

The bill, An Act Modernizing the Symbol of Access for Persons with Disabilities, has been referred to the Government Administration and Elections Committee for consideration.

Photo Credit: Governor Malloy

Nepali Actor Comes to Thank Students That Created Renewable Power System


Three years ago students from the Academy of Engineering and Green Technology at Hartford Public High School created a renewable power system from scratch for a remote village in Nepal.

Today one man from the Nepali village came back to thank the students himself.

"Thank you to all of you for your efforts and hardship and all the struggle that you set up the wind turbine."

"Thank you": that's what the popular Nepalese actor known as Thinley came to Hartford to say to the students who changed the lives of the people from his village. We initially brought you this story three years ago when the first group of students designed and created Nepal 1.0.

"The original idea was the build a system that could support lighting for the school and change some lap tops," says Danilo Sena, a 2011 graduate of Hartford Public High School who worked on the original Nepal 1.0.

"Fortunately our system was able to do that and a little bit more."

The wind turbines not only provide power for the villages school, but also the birthing center next door. But the wind and solar powered system that now brings a reliable source of power to the remote village, located at an elevation of 13,000 feet, changed more than just lives in Nepal.

"So it's like when you use the Pythagorean theorem to solve for something in this project and this project helps someone else that's that really needed our help on the other side of the world it changes you," explains Laura Webster, a Senior at Hartford Public High School. "Its like you go to class and you're more inspired to learn new things and those new things might be able to help someone else"

Since the creation of Nepal 1.0, the students have created more renewable power systems for two other Nepalese villages.

"Seeing that legacy continue is amazing and seeing all the kids involved again and speaking highly of it is the better reward" says Sena.

Thinleys encourages the students to, "Please keep continue support to this area and hometown."

Thinley was escorted by Peter Werth, III who started the project through the Werth Family Foundation. Werth has overseen the delivery and installation of the Nepal projects.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Scalia Named Ideal Successor


While questions continue to surround a potential replacement for Antonin Scalia, it appears the late Supreme Court Justice had already picked his successor.

Scalia was found dead Saturday in his room at a remote Texas hunting resort. The 79-year-old jurist was appointed to the court in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan.

His sudden death complicated an already tumultuous election year. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says a replacement should not be named until the next president takes office. Obama pledged to pick a replacement "in due time" and challenged Republicans to hold a vote on his nominee.

In a 2012 interview with C-SPAN, however, Scalia discussed who he would choose as his successor, and it would be his former colleague from the University of Chicago, Judge Frank Easterbrook.

Easterbrook, of the U.S. Seventh Circuit in the Midwest, collaborated with Scalia in the writing of his 2012 book "Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts."

"If there is one other name, one other judicial name associated with the two principal theories of this book, textualism and originalism, it is Frank Easterbrook," Scalia said during the interview. "It is. If I had to pick somebody to replace me on the supreme court it would be Frank."

Scalia's colleagues praised his brilliance and grieved his death. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said she and Scalia "were best buddies" for more than 30 years. Justice Clarence Thomas said, "It is hard to imagine the court without my friend."

Names have already been mentioned as possible successors to Scalia, including Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Ninth Circuit Judge Paul Watford.

Photo Credit: AP
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DOT Explores Options for CT Fastrak Bus Between UConn, Hartford


 DOT has been studying running CT Fastrak buses between UConn and Hartford, and a report due out next week will reveal the results.

The bright green CT Fastrak buses may be busy with commuters, but they have time for more trips off peak.

"Midday, evenings, weekends," said Lisa Rivers, supervising planner for DOT's Bureau of Public Transportation. "We can provide those kinds of services using our existing fleet."

She told stakeholders at a meeting in Manchester there is no funding budgeted for serving UConn but she knows there's demand.

"We have a whole new campus that's going to be opening up in Hartford in a couple of years, and we're aware the students have been clamoring for transportation. They want to get into the city. They want to be able to access Union Station.

It is exactly what James Donovan, a UConn senior, wants.

"From here to Hartford a huge difference. It saves me pain of someone giving a ride over there, you know, gas money and such, so I think it'd be a good benefit to have them here, absolutely."

UConn students are used to riding shuttles from point to point.

Victoria McClelland, a UConn freshman, said, "The buses here on campus are pretty OK so it's easy enough to get around."

As an underclassman she's not allowed to have a car on campus. So the bus would be ideal to get off campus.

UConn's president, in a letter of support, said the campus's location is "a disadvantage in attracting talented employees." The buses would bridge the gap using existing high occupancy vehicle lanes and existing roads.

DOT planners will also study East Hartford, Manchester, and Vernon's local streets for possible rapid transit systems.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Volunteers Teach Children With Disabilities How To Ski


When you see Gavin Haines skiing down the slopes with a smile ear to ear, you would never guess that at just six months old he was diagnosed with Dravet syndrome, the most catastrophic form of epilepsy.

"I really like how kids who really wouldn't be able to do it before would not be able to do it because of all the because of Connecticut a Children's and all the volunteers" said Gavin.

For the past 35 years, volunteers spend every Friday afternoon using snow sliders, outriggers, and tethers to help disabled children with their balance and control while learning how to ski.

"He went from having a lot of difficulties even walking appropriately with his gate and now he's doing so much better," explains Gavin's mother, Stacy Haines. "It brings more confidence and does more for him physically than you know 6 months of therapy does."

The Skiers Unlimited encourages people helping people of all abilities.

Michaela Narus, a disabled skier herself, said,"I get to help all kinds of people with Down syndrome, autism, handicapped, walkers, you name it, we got it."

Steve Balcanoff, the program manager, told me the strength of the program is truly based on the volunteers.

That's the case for Quinnipiac senior Nicole Napolitano who took her passion for health care and skiing to help the disabled children.

"It introduces you to stuff you know we're reading in text books but we're never actually seeing in person sometimes so you get to connect what you're learning to the real world" said Napolitano.

With the reputation of "best dressed on the mountain", Ian Coyne couldn't be more thankful for the skills and friendships he's developed over the past 6 years at Mt. Southington.

"This program is basically my favorite thing to do in the winter. It's not only a great exercise like me but it's a great way to have fun," said Coyne.

"I just encourage all kids with a disability who want to learn how to ski to come over and find out about skiers unlimited."

Developers Transforming Run Down Bus Depot Into New Haven Tech Hub


 The address 470 James Street in New Haven is a polluted former CT Transit bus depot.

“This part of New Haven has been abandoned for a number of years,” said Rep. Roland Lemar (D – New Haven/East Haven).

But that is about to change as city officials have given developers the green light to transform the property into a multi-million dollar tech and innovation campus called “District”.

“It is really going to capitalize on what we’re doing in New Haven,” Lemar said, “Which is attracting and growing young entrepreneurial jobs. It is going be really transformative for that part of the state.”

Remediation of this contaminated site can start soon thanks to $5.5 million dollars in funding from the state.

Developer David Salinas’ company, Digital Surgeons, and his co-developer’s business Cross Fit New haven, both plan to move into the new complex.

“I think it’s going to be huge for the city and the state,” Salinas told NBC Connecticut, “It is like no other work space in the state and I think in the New England region.”

In addition to the office space for tech companies, there are plans for a riverfront beer garden and kayak launch.

Lemar said the redevelopment project is similar to what has been done in cities like Brooklyn, Palo Alto and San Antonio.

Photo Credit: District NHV LLC
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