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RHAM Community Mourns Longtime Social Studies Teacher


RHAM High School and Middle School will be closed Monday so staff and students can attend the funeral for longtime high school social studies teacher Larry Fagan, Jr.

Fagan passed away last Wednesday after battling brain cancer. He was 56 years old and leaves behind a wife and three children.

The staff remembers his sense of humor and skill at working with students in his civics and psychology classes. He also taught classes as part of the adult evening diploma program. They say Monday will be a day to celebrate his life.

“I think we’ll really miss him and I think the tribute of the students coming, the staff members coming, and closing the school tomorrow is a tribute to a great teacher,” said District #8 Superintendent Dr. Robert Siminski.

Hundreds turned out to attend calling hours for Fagan on Sunday. His funeral is set for 10 a.m. at St. Patrick - St. Anthony in Hartford.

Missing Radioactive Material Found in South Iraq


A "highly dangerous" radioactive material that went missing in Iraq has been found near a gas station in the southern town of Zubair, NBC News reported.

The material was stolen in November from a storage facility belonging to U.S. oilfield services company Weatherford near the southern city of Basra.

It wasn’t clear how it ended up in Zubair.

Environment ministry spokesman Ameer Ali said on Sunday that it had not been damaged and there were no concerns about radiation from the material.  

Photo Credit: ullstein bild via Getty Images

Pedestrian Struck by Vehicle in Windsor Locks


Windsor Locks police are investigating after a pedestrian was struck by a vehicle on the Ella Grasso Turnpike (Route 75) Sunday night.

Police say the adult female victim was struck near 77 Ella Grasso Turnpike. She was transported to St. Francis for treatment of her injuries. Her condition is unknown at this time.

The road is closed in the area while the accident reconstruction team investigates. More information was not immediately available. Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Officer in Ambush Shooting Honored


New Jersey police departments honored a Philadelphia officer who survived an ambush attack earlier this year.

Philadelphia Police officer Jesse Hartnett received a large shadow box with every Gloucester County police department patch during a meeting Wednesday at PBA Local 122.

Mantua Police officials say the gift was a “show of support,” for Hartnett who is also an avid police patch collector. A few days after the shooting, police and citizens also began collecting department patches for Hartnett in order to lift his spirits.

Hartnett, 33, was hospitalized the night of Jan. 7 after 30-year-old Edward Archer shot him three times at point-blank range in an assassination attempt, according to police. Hartnett survived the shooting and even managed to shoot back at Archer, striking him, police said. After undergoing several surgeries to repair damage caused by three bullets that tore through his arm, Hartnett was released from the hospital on January 22.

Archer was arrested and charged with attempted murder, illegal-gun possession and related offenses. The gun he used, officials said, was a stolen police weapon.

A terror investigation was launched after Archer allegedly told officials he shot Hartnett in the name of Islam and pledged allegiance to ISIS. FBI officials later concluded however that Archer was not part of a terror cell and there were no indications that additional attacks were imminent.

Photo Credit: Mantua Police
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Seaworld Untangles Whale


A 25-foot humpback whale entangled in fishing line was saved by Seaworld’s rescue team.

The one-year-old whale was seen Sunday afternoon off the La Jolla coast with fishing line running through its mouth, pinning down its left pectoral flipper and entangled around its tail fluke area. The whale was also dragging fishing gear from its tail.

The team made several cuts to the fishing line and after approximately two hours the whale was freed.

The team followed the whale for several minutes to make sure there wasn’t any more fishing line attached to its body.

The whale would have died had it not been freed Seaworld explained.

The whale continued to swim north in the direction of its normal migration pattern.

Photo Credit: Seaworld

2 Shot Dead by Police in California


A man and a woman were fatally shot by police during a confrontation in Inglewood, California early Sunday morning, officials said.

Officers responded to the intersection of Manchester Boulevard and Inglewood Avenue where a vehicle with two occupants was stopped in the middle of the road shortly after 3 a.m., according to the Inglewood Police Department.

Police said a woman inside the vehicle was armed with a gun and both occupants were ordered to exit the car. Officers took cover and "an officer-involved shooting then occurred," Inglewood police said.

The man and woman were both struck by gunfire. The man was unarmed, according to police. It is unknown if the suspects fired at police during the confrontation.

Witnesses said they heard police activity in the area around 3 a.m. About an hour later, multiple shots were fired.

"It was back to back," said Michiko Perez, a witness who lives nearby. "The helicopters were hovering over for a while and then it suddenly stopped. And then you hear the sirens coming and you hear the police."

The woman was pronounced dead at the scene and the man was transported to a hospital where he later died. Their identities were being withheld until family members were notified.

A firearm was recovered at the scene and police were investigating what led up to the shooting. No officers were injured.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Inglewood Police Homicide Section at 310-412-5246.

Oleevia Woo contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Loudlabs

Bush Leaves Behind GOP He Can Barely Recognize


 Jeb Bush's decision to end his bid for presidency created an emotional scene at the Columbia, South Carolina where he and close associates were staying.

Sergio Pino, an old family friend from Miami, couldn't believe the news. Why did he drop out? Surely there was some way Bush could have pressed on with the campaign?

"I feel like the Republican Party as I know it suspended its campaign tonight," said Lee Spieckerman, a Texas commentator who had knocked on doors for Bush in New Hampshire and in South Carolina.

Bush ran for all the right reasons, according to NBC News. He told voters he had a "servant's heart" and, in private and public, his campaign always appeared motivated by duty rather than personal ambition right up to his final speech.

Photo Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Rubio Poised to Benefit From Bush's Exit


There's still much to be had from the carcass of Jeb Bush's failed bid for presidency.

The former Florida governor dropped out of the race recently and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's team dashes to pick up the leftover supporters.

While Rubio is expected to be the biggest benefactor of Bush's exit, some donors are expressing reservations about quickly investing in another candidate with no guarantee of victory in a year where money has not dictated success.

Rubio's campaign, hoping to portray a flood of finances, confirms that he has gained the financial support of former U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas John Rood, who donated at least $135,000 to pro-Bush super PAC Right to Rise

Photo Credit: AP

Clarence Thomas Hasn't Asked a Question in Decade


Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas hasn't asked a question from the bench since 2006. 

And this streak is a record. No other justice in modern history has gone more than a term without asking questions during oral arguments. For the legal community, it 's a source of angst and curiosity. 

The last time Thomas asked a question was Feb. 22, 2006, during arguments on a death penalty case.

No one knows quite why Thomas chooses to abstain as he does. Some have pointed to his prior remarks about growing up self-conscious about his rural Georgia accent. But the more likely explanation is that Thomas believes he learns more if he keeps quiet.

"I just think that it's more in my nature to listen rather than to ask a bunch of questions," he told high school students in 2000. "And they get asked anyway."

Photo Credit: AP

FBI to Apple: 'We Don't Want to Break Anyone's Encryption'


FBI Director James Comey on Sunday said forcing Apple to help unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters is no big deal.

"We don't want to break anyone's encryption or set a master key loose on the land," Comey said in a statement Sunday night, insisting that vital decisions involving safety from terrorists shouldn't be left in the hands of "corporations that sell stuff for a living."

Last week a federal judge ordered Apple to help authorities access the locked iPhone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California with the help of his wife, Tashfeen Malik.

But the company said it cannot unlock the phone because Farook, like many Apple customers, protected his device with a unique code. The company concluded that helping the government would sabotage the entire point of encryption and endanger the privacy of millions of its customers.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Mich. Victims Gunned Down During Weekend Outings


A mother standing outside her apartment. A father and son checking out cars at a Kia dealership. A group of women and a teenage girl heading home after seeing a play.

They were the eight people gunned down by an Uber driver in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Saturday on what otherwise seemed to be an ordinary weekend evening.

They ended up in the path of Jason Brian Dalton, who, according to authorities, was driving around the city in a Chevrolet HHR sport utility vehicle, armed with a semiautomatic handgun, shooting people at random.

Authorities said there is no obvious motive, nothing to tie the three sets of victims together. 

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Service Restored for Frontier Customers in Farmington Valley


Service has been restored for Frontier Communications customers in the Farmington Valley after an outage on Monday morning.

It was not clear how many customers were affected or what caused the outage.

A company spokesperson said service was restored just before noon.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Mom Who Pushed Dead Son on Trial


A Maryland woman who was found pushing her 3-year-old son's body in a playground swing has been found not criminally responsible by a judge Monday.

Romechia Simms' son, Ji'Aire Donnell Lee, died last May of dehydration and hypothermia after being left in a swing for two days.

Over the weekend, a court-appointed psychologist found Simms was not criminally responsible in the toddler's death. According to the report, Simms suffers from schizophrenia.

On Monday, Simms appeared in Charles County Circuit Court, where she could have faced trial, and entered an Alford plea to involuntary manslaughter. In an Alford plea, the defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges there was enough evidence to convict.

Judge H. James West then ruled Simms was not criminally responsible, similar to a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity.

According to the Charles County Sheriff's Office, Simms placed Ji'Aire on a swing in Wills Memorial Park in LaPlata, Maryland, on the morning of May 20, 2015.

About 40 hours later, Simms was still pushing the child -- who was wearing no jacket or shoes -- and he was dead, prosecutors said.

A medical examiner later ruled the boy's death was ruled a homicide.

Simms was charged with first-degree child abuse, manslaughter and child neglect, and had faced as much as 45 years in prison if convicted.

The judge based his decision on expert opinion of three doctors, including one appointed by the court, who all concluded that Simms suffered from a mental disorder at the time of Ji'Aire's death.

The judge also sided with a conclusion by the same team of doctors that, at this time, Simms is not a danger to herself or others, Charles County officials said.

Simms has been conditionally released and was ordered to maintain her mental health treatments.

If she fails to comply, she will be put into a hospital facility and could end up in a mental health institute, the state's attorney said.

Tony Covington, the state's attorney for Charles County, agreed with the experts and said the ruling was appropriate, but said in a statement that he was frustrated by the tragedy.

"Ji'Aire Lee should still be alive today. He is not here with us because his mother, who knew she had a mental illness, did not remain vigilant in her own mental health treatment," Covington said in the statement. "As a direct result of that she slipped back into the illness that eventually caused her to be unable to care for her child. And Ji'Aire died because of that neglect."

Covington's statement continued: "While we can search for others that may have failed Ji'Aire, ultimately it boils down to Romechia's failure to maintain her mental health regimen. My heart goes out to this family, but I have to be honest about it: Ji'Aire Lee's death was preventable." 

Ji'Aire's father has said he'd tried to get custody of the boy before his death.

Photo Credit: State's Attorney's Office for Charles County

Car Hits Martial Arts School in Southington


A car hit the building housing Leadership Martial Arts in Southington on Monday morning.

The crash happened at 1156 Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike and ambulance were called for driver.
Police said the injuries don’t appear to be serious.

No additional information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Firefighters Battle Fire at Waterbury Dry Cleaners

Wall Collapse Pinned Worker in Clinton


Police responded to a wall collapse at a construction site on Brookside Drive in Clinton on Monday that pinned a worker.

The worker is now free from the wall collapse, according to police, but no additional information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Stole 85-Year-Old Woman’s Purse


An 85-year-old woman ran after the man who stole her purse in Hamden on Saturday morning and police are now trying to find the purse snatcher who got away.

Police said they responded to the 2200 block of Dixwell Avenue at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday and learned that the victim was sitting in her car in the parking lot of 2335 Dixwell Ave. when a tall man in his 40s approached her and asked for cash, police said.

The woman reached into her purse, planning to give the man “a few dollars,” but he grabbed her purse and ran away, heading south on Dixwell Avenue.

The victim ran after the man for a little bit and found her purse on the ground, but $50 and some credit cards had been stolen.

Officer Kelley Groleau and her K-9 partner “Sar” followed the track, which led to the Farmington Canal Trail, and police ask anyone with information about the case to call the Hamden Police Department Major Crimes Division at (203) 230-4040.

Newington Technology Teacher Stole iPads: Police


A technology teacher in Newington is accused of stealing several town-owned iPads and has been arrested.

Police arrested James Nodell, 44, of Manchester, on Monday after school officials realized during an inventory in August that iPads were missing and investigators found out they were stolen, police said.

Nodell, a technology teacher at the school the tablets were missing from was identified as a suspect and placed on administrative leave.

Nodell was charged with larceny in the first degree and appeared in New Britain Superior Court on Friday.

It’s not clear if he has an attorney.

Photo Credit: Newington Police

Bridgeport Man Dead After Crash on I-95 in West Haven


A 37-year-old Bridgeport man is dead after a crash on Interstate 95 North in West Haven just before 1 a.m. on Monday.

Police said Thomas Lane, 37, of Bridgeport, lost control of his 2006 Jeep Commander near the exit 42 ramp at 12:58 a.m., rolled over, hit a metal guardrail, rolled along the embankment, then hit a pole, police said.

The engine compartment separated from the car during the crash and Lane sustained a cut to the head, as well as "unknown further external/internal injuries."

An ambulance brought him to the hospital, where he died soon after. 

Police closed the highway around 3:30 a.m., and all lanes were open as of 6:40 a.m. 

The investigation is ongoing.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation

Pharmacy Tech Stole Oxycontin, Cancer Meds and Diet Pills: Police


A former pharmacy technician at a Naugatuck CVS is accused of stealing Oxycontin, as well as Tamoxifin and a diet drug and turned herself in to police over the weekend after a warrant was issued for her arrest. 

Lyndsay Wasilus, 29, of Naugatuck, was working at the drive-through of the CVS pharmacy at 108 Bridge Street Naugatuck in August when she stole pills while filling an order for a customer, according to police. 

Cameras recording the sale help police determine that Wasilus took the drugs, according to police.  

The customer Wasilus was serving at the drive-through didn’t need a prescription for the order, but was required to sign anyway, according to police, and Wasilus apparently didn’t realize the cameras were recording transaction.

Investigators were able to get the license plate of the customer from the video and tracked down the customer, who relayed thinking it was strange to be required to sign for something that did not need a prescription.  

The complaint was filed in August 2015 and Wasilus, who had been working at the pharmacy for around four months, was fired a few days later after the CVS store asset protection officer interviewed her and she admitted to stealing other drugs from the pharmacy, separately from this case, police said. 

Wasilus was initially accused of fraudulently obtained 30 Oxycontin tablets worth $108.99, but admitted to stealing 70 Oxycodone 30mg tablets valued at $143.99, police said.

She is also accused of stealing 20 Tamoxifin 20mg tablets valued at $159.00 on Aug. 21. Tamoxifin is a drug used to treat cancer patients and Wasilus told police her father has cancer, but police said the drug should not be difficult for cancer patients to obtain.   

Wasilus was also found with six phentermine pills in her lab coat when she was let go, police said. Phentermine is an appetite suppressant. 

Wasilus turned herself in on a warrant connected to the Aug. 15 complaint on Sunday.

She has been charged with sixth-degree larceny, possession of a controlled substance and obtaining drugs illegally in the most recent case and was previously charged with shoplifting and possession of a controlled substance. 

Wasilus pleaded not guilty to the prior charges and is due in court today for a hearing in that case. 

She was released on a $500 non-surety bond in connection with the current case and is due in court on March 2. 

A state of Connecticut web site says her license is inactive.

Photo Credit: Naugatuck Police
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