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Realtors Use Social Media to Flip Shoreline Home


Home flipper Mike Riccio and realtor Nicole White are trying a new method of marketing a home makeover.

"I know that 90 percent of our consumers are coming from online," said White of William Raveis Real Estate in Madison, "But I also know how many people voice their desire to flip a house or enjoy watching homes being flipped."

White came up with the concept of relying on Facebook users to pick all of the renovations from the cabinets to the colors in an Old Saybrook home Riccio bought in December.

"When she brought it up I was like woah, that’s a cool idea, I’ve never heard of it before," said Riccio, owner of Rebuilt Homes in Southington.

White created the Facebook page, The House That Social Media Built, which has more than 500 likes.

Every Monday, the page shares two to three options for different design elements in the home. Voting works by commenting on the post and then on Thursday White or Riccio announces the winner with a video message.

"They’ll pick kitchen cabinets, appliances, flooring, bathroom tile, everything, all the way through and we’re going to let them flip the house," Riccio said.

NBC Connecticut’s camera was rolling Thursday afternoon as a demolition crew worked on gutting the interior of the Dutch Colonial style house built in the 1980s.

"What we’re doing is taking the existing floor plan and modernizing it to an open concept floor plan," Riccio said.

With the buzz they are generating on social media, White and Riccio hope to find a buyer before the re-building is done in May.

"You’re getting to watch this house progress, but then at the end you’re also able to buy the home," said White.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Route 175 Closed in Newington After Pedestrian Struck


 Route 175 in Newington is closed after a pedestrian was struck, police confirm.

The victim's condition was unclear.

Cedar Street between Route 173 and 176 is closed in both directions. The accident happened right in front of Newington Town Hall and the library.

It is not clear when the road will reopen.

There were no other immediate details at this time.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Several Road Closures Due to Storm Damage


Hundreds of local roads are closed this morning due to storm damage.

Here's a short list:

Rt 603 by Hebron Road ROAD CLOSED (tree / wires)

Route 74 by Upton Road ROAD CLOSED (tree/wires)

Beckley Mills Road
Wethersfield Road
Southington Road
Chamberlain Highway at Village Lane
Chamberlain Highway at Vineyard Drive
Icepond Lane at Main Street (East Berlin)
Somerset Drive
Wigwam Road

Route 58, both NB/SB south of Ct-302

Route 44 by the Manchester town line ROAD CLOSED (tree / wires)

Baker Road, trees and wires down

Route 44, by the Manchester town lineROAD CLOSED (tree wires)
2436 Boston Turnpike downed tree and crash

Deep River
Meadow Woods Road, trees and wires down

Route 244 by Andert Lane ROAD CLOSED (tree / wires)

East Windsor
Phelps Road closed Rt 5 to Scantic Road
Tree down on house, Old Ellington Road

Route 154 at Route 602 and Route 604 CLOSED Tree Down(In Roadway)
Highway 154 Both NB/SB near Hwy 9

52 Creastdale Road. A tree fell on a house
Mill Street
Little Acres Road
Coleman Road

Riversville Road is closed at Thunder Mountain.
Palmer Hill is closed at Old Orchard
Post Road shut down near Sinawoy Road area of Cos Cob fire station due to pole leaning and wires hanging low over Route 1.
Route 1 (Post Road) is closed between Strickland Road and Suburban Avenue in Cos Cob, wires and a pole leaning over roadway.
17 roads blocked or closed with trees additional 21 roads blocked or closed with trees wires and poles down

East Haddam, Route 148 by River Road ROAD CLOSED (tree / wires)

Route 98 by West Old Route 6 ROAD CLOSED (tree/wires)

108 Shultas Place
Zion and Wilson
138 and 192 Hubbard Street
253 Putnam Sreet
Garden Street at Edgewood Street
Anawan and Wethersfield
Newberry, between New Britain and Grandview
145 Grandview Terrace
Greenfield at Oakland Terrace

Route 4 by Locust Rd ROAD CLOSED (tree / wires)
Route 4 by Route 72 ROAD CLOSED (tree / wires)

Rt. 101 by Dog Hill Rd ROAD CLOSED (tree /wires)

Rt 87 closed from Cook Hill Rd to the Columbia Town line for Tree and Wires. No ETA by Eversource.
Use Caution in the area of 407 Tobacco Road. A tree is blocking the roadway. We were able to open 1 lane. Lebanon DPW has been notified and is responding. Also use caution there is debris scattered all over roadways in town.

Love Lane at Center Street

Highway 87 Both NB/SB at Lk Rd

Route 63 prior to Rt 61 ROAD CLOSED (wires down)

Andrew Mountain Road

New Fairfield
Rt 39 by Bigelow Road ROAD CLOSED (wires down)

New Hartford
Route219 by Route 202 ROAD CLOSED (tree/wires)

New Haven
Springside Avenue, near Blake Sttreet and Common Ground, downed tree

New London
Primary wire down and street closed at Vauxhall St and Phillips St

New Milford
Route 55 by Charmin Road ROAD CLOSED (tree/wires)

The traffic lights on the Berlin Turnpike at the intersections of Main St and Pascone Place are not working due to last night's storms. Expect delays at these intersections.

North Branford
Middletown Avenue (Rt 17) closed Mansfield Drive to Maltby Lane
Route 17 @ Route 22 CLOSED Tree Down with wires (In Roadway)

Highway 188 Both NB/SB approaching Oxford Airport Rd

Route 101 b y Dog Hill Rd ROAD CLOSED
Route 664 by Harris Road ROAD CLOSED (tree / wires)
Route 14 A by Pleasant Street ROAD CLOSED (tree/wires)\

Route 44 by Covell Road ROAD CLOSED (tree / wires)

Gilman Street, large tree fell crushing cars

Peaceable (at Golf Lane)
Nod Road
Ivy Hill Road
Oscaleta (at West Mountain Rd)
Lounsbury (at Blackman Rd)
Market Street
Nutmeg (at Branchville Road)
Barrack Hill
Wilton Road East

Route 41 closed from Route 4,41,343 to the NY TL. because of TREES (In Roadway).

Tabor Road in Sherman is blocked just over state line.

Southbury, Rt 487(??) by North Georges Hill ROAD CLOSED (tree w/wires)
Rt 188 by Airport & Bristol Town Rds ROAD CLOSED (tree/wires)
Kettletown Rd Both NB/SB near Stonegate Dr

Tree on house, Farmstead Road
Pool crushed by tree, Paul Heights

South Windsor
Ellington Road (Rt 30) between Pierce Rd and Deming Street
Niederwerfer Road at EW town line

Route19 by the Mass state line ROAD CLOSED (tree / wires)

Guiena Road, June Road, Riverbank Road impassable due to downed trees with downed eletrical lines

Route14A closed at Gibson Hill Rd, because of a tree down, into wires

Bridge St due to down power lines

870 Thompson Rd structure fire
Thompson Rt 193 by Jason Heights ROAD CLOSED (tree/wires)
Rt 193 by Brandy Hill Rd ROAD CLOSED

Torry Road is closed between Old Stafford Rd & 17 Torry Rd for downed tree limbs and utility wires.

Route 165 both directions CLOSED (Voluntown) at Forge Hill Road because of Debris In Roadway (Tree down on Wires)

Interstate 91 South, south of x15 right lane closed for flooding

Route 47, between Plum Hill and South roads ROAD CLOSED (tree/wires)
Green Hl Road, both north and south, near Roxbury Road

Route 85 in the area of Lakes Pond Road
There is a utility pole down on Route 85 in the area of the Speed bowl. The road is closed and will be for hours until Frontier can stabilize the pole.

West Hartford
South Main at Hall
Boulevard at Tasslewood
Brainard at Colony
Colony at Sequin
Area of 124 Orchard
72 Lexington Road -- tree on house
Hunter Drive, tree and wires down

79 Coleytown Road
Weston Road at town line
109 Greens Farms Road
37 Prospect Road
Sasco Creek Road
24 Sylvan Lane North
Evergreen Avenue
A tree fell on a house on Saugatuck Avenue, but caused no injuries or damage.

Route 263 by Blue St ROAD CLOSED (tree / wires)

Wilson Avenue is impassable from houses at #756 to the east. Wires and trees across road.
Palisado Avenue in area #415. Problem with utility pole Eversource on scene. Will go down to one lane of travel as work is completed.
Rood Avenue in area of #187 has pot hole with traffic cones around it. MDC on construction job earlier in week collapsed. Eastbound lane blocked. One lane of travel is open.
CLEARED: Rt 159 by Kennedy Rd ROAD CLOSED (tree / wires)

Peck Hill and Nettleton
Spokes by Maple Vale Drive

Route 169 north of Rt. 171 ROAD CLOSED (tree / wires).
Route 171 by Pulpit Rock Rd ROAD CLOSED (tree / wires)
Route171 also closed at Perrin Rd large tree across the road.
Route 197 by Rt 169 ROAD CLOSED (tree/wires)

Let us know if any roads are closed where you are.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Firefighters Respond to Two Alarm Fire in New Haven


Firefighters are actively working to put out a fire in New Haven this evening.

Officials are on the scene at 210 Wolcott Street in the city.

There were no other immediate details. 

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Escaped 'Unicorn' Recaptured


Drivers in the Central California town of Madera got quite a surprise Wednesday night as a unicorn darted through traffic.

Well, not really a unicorn, but a white pony dressed up like one for a child’s birthday party. The pony bolted away from one of the party-goers around 5:30 p.m. and was reported by several drivers on different highways, according to California Highway Patrol.

It was the second time the headstrong pony had escaped that day, according to CHP.

Worrying that the nearly 500-pound pony would cause a collision that could result in injuries, CHP used a helicopter to track down the wayward animal.

It was finally found in an orchard and wrangled back into custody.

Photo Credit: Courtesy DJ Becker

4 Dead, 14 Hurt in Kansas Workplace Shooting


Three people and a gunman were killed in a rampage at a Kansas lawn mowing equipment company Thursday, authorities said.

Fourteen others were shot, said Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton at a news conference, hours after Excel Industries in Hesston was locked down. It was not an act of terrorism, he added. 

"There are going to be a lot of sad people before this is over," Walton said.

The shooting occurred shortly after 5 p.m. CT at the facility about 30 miles north of Wichita, NBC News reported.  

The FBI and ATF were among the agencies at the scene.

“This is a large crime scene because there are many crime scenes involved,” Walton said.

Photo Credit: KSN
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Storm Leaves Glastonbury, Berlin in The Dark for Hours


Eversource crews are working overtime to get the lights back on in central Connecticut after a powerful storm left hundreds in the dark.

On Hudson Street in Berlin, lanterns light the way in Dennis Schweitzer’s home. A tree came down around just before midnight Wednesday, taking power lines down with it.

“There was a live wire down that actually started catching the tree on fire,” Schweitzer said. “Luckily the heavy rains from the storm extinguished it.”

Once the fire was out, the wait began for the power to come back on. Eversource crews showed up just before 9 p.m. Thursday night, but they say it is not a quick fix.

“We have a gas furnace that can run off itself and we have a lot of lanterns and a gas grill, but we’re worried that we’re going to have to lose some food,” Schweitzer said.

It was a similar concern at Carvel in Glastonbury. The ice cream shop is located in a plaza that was in the dark for a few hours Thursday night. Even though they only lost power for a few hours, they say plenty of business was lost too.

“Everything is going to melt obviously it’s ice cream,” franchise owner Sam Saoji said. “All the cakes in the freezers are going to be gone and it’s a weekend coming up, our busiest time.”

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Hartford Chief Says He Needs More Officers


During an exclusive interview with NBC Connecticut, Hartford Police Chief James Rovella chided the city councils for the first three years he led the force for not listening to his pleas for more officers.

"When we have an attrition of that number of officers over that period of time and we start to show rising crime rates, you have to believe the chief knows what he’s talking about," said Rovella, who started in 2012.

Attrition has been perhaps the biggest enemy of the capital city's police department, and not violent crime or working to get drugs off the street.

One hundred twenty officers ranging in rank left the department from 2014 to 2016, leaving only 404 officers left in the entire department.

According to a staffing report commissioned by the department, 60 officers are needed to reach adequate staffing levels, though twice that figure is needed to replace officers eligible for retirement. 70 more officers could retire by the end of the year.

How has the department bridged the gap in coverage?

Rovella said, "What we’ve been doing is actually hiring that overtime to fill those voids."

The city budgeted $2.6 million for Hartford Police overtime for the 2015 to 2016 fiscal year. Rovella had to ask for more money which he said is a direct result of staffing weaknesses, and the department has already eclipsed $5 million with several months left in the fiscal year. He said the issues aren't just financial.

"The part we lose here is that same officer in that same neighborhood or that patrol area at least five days a week that he knows his public."

Most major crime metrics were going down before the deadly summer of 2015. Violent crime, gun crime, homicides and other crimes all went down from 2009 to 2014.

Rovella did eventually get funding that paid for 18 recruits who could be ready for duty in several months.

He said he hopes the new mayor and city council have the political will to pay for police during a year with a mounting deficit.

"We were on a great track and we’re just keeping our fingers in the dyke right now."

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Sinkhole to Cause Traffic Issues in Hartford


A huge sinkhole has opened on Asylum Avenue in Hartford, reducing traffic to one lane eastbound, and police are asking drivers to avoid the area.

The sink hole is in the 1100 block of Asylum Avenue and police are working to widen construction lanes for rush hour.

MDC is working on the issue and there is no time frame on when the road will be repaired, according to police, who are working with schools to accommodate bus traffic and parking at Classical Magnet and Capital Community College.

Photo Credit: Hartford Police

Willimantic Man Robbed and Assaulted Woman Near Frog Bridge: Police


A Willimantic man suspected of assaulting and robbing a woman near the Frog Bridge on Thursday night has been arrested.

Police were responding to the Frog Bridge around 9:30 p.m. to investigate a robbery when they saw a man on Windham Road who matched the description of the robber, so they stopped and detained him.

The victim identified the man, 31-year-old Kenneth Santiago, of Willimantic, as the person who assaulted her and robbed her, police said.

Police said the officers found several of the stolen items ono the man.

The victim sustained minor injuries and refused medical attention.

Santiago was charged with third-degree robbery and third-degree assault.

He is being held on a $50,000 bond and will be arraigned in Danielson Superior Court this morning.

Photo Credit: Willimantic Police

'I Have the Job My Father Couldn't Have': Son of Calif. City's 1st Black Cop Is Now Its Longest-Serving Officer


Alfred Robinson was the city of Vallejo's first African-American police officer, but his career was likely the shortest in the North Bay city's history.

Robinson got his badge in 1948, only to have it taken away two weeks later after being told the city was not ready for a black cop. His 64-year-old son, Lt. Herman Robinson, is now the Vallejo Police Department's longest-serving officer in its history, with more than four decades on the force.

"I like to say I have the job my father couldn't have," Robinson said. "Everything goes back to my father and the values he instilled in me."

The elder Robinson was hired as the department's custodian in 1946. He was promoted in 1948, becoming Vallejo's first African-American police officer. His family and the black community were proud of the accomplishment.

"Everybody was very happy for him, and they commented, 'We're seeing history made tonight,' because no black man had ever worn a police uniform in the city of Vallejo," Robinson said.

But it was short-lived. Alfred Robinson's badge was revoked two weeks later.

"The city's founders didn't feel it was the right time to have a black police officer," Robinson said.

Alfred Robinson went back to mopping floors and continued as department custodian until he died in 1968. He never complained to his seven children about the slight.

"It was something he kept inside of him. He took it to his grave," Robinson said. "I'm sure he had to swallow a lot of pride to continue working for the city."

Herman Robinson was hired in 1973 and has remained on the force for 43 years.

His father is credited with opening the door for officers of color.

"It's all because of things he instilled in me," Robinson said, "that I wanted to be the best I could be."

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Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area/Vallejo PD
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Little Muskrat Gets Lost at Hartford School


A little muskrat who got a bit lost showed up at a Hartford school on Friday morning.

A security guard at the Breakthrough Magnet School called for help when he noticed the muskrat in the courtyard.

The muskrat apparently got stuck in a sewer or drain, according to animal control.

 "What happened is, the water up there got flooded and and he kind of went down a sewer or drain and that's how he got inside there otherwise he wouldn't have been able to get inside," animal control officer Thomas Fuller said. "He was up on the grass, digging a hole for his nice home, but  he couldn't stay there."

Animal control officers responded and coaxed the little guy into an animal carrier, then carried him off to the woods and released him at Park River in Hartford.

They can become aggressive if they feel threatened.

Learn more about woodchucks on the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection website


We want your animal photos. Send them to us at shareit@nbcconnecticut.com.

EDITOR'S NOTE: HPD Animal Control originally told NBC Connecticut the animal was a woodchuck and an earlier version of this story stated that. Since, DEEP has confirmed the animal is a muskrat. 

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Surviving LA 'Grim Sleeper’ Victim Faces Down Accused Serial Killer


A woman described by the prosecution as the sole surviving victim of the alleged "Grim Sleeper" identified him in court Thursday as the man who shot her in the chest and then took a photo of her in November 1988.

Enietra Washington was shown a June 1989 photo of serial murder suspect Lonnie Franklin Jr.

"How certain are you that this is the person who shot you?" Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman asked the 57-year-old witness.

Washington answered, "100 percent."

Looking toward him seated in the courtroom, she said Franklin has "less hair now, but he still looks the same."

In earlier testimony, Washington told the Los Angeles Superior Court jury hearing the case against Franklin that he took an instant photo of her with a Polaroid-type camera after shooting her.

She said things had turned "eerily quiet" in her assailant's "customized" orange Ford Pinto when she questioned why he had called her by somebody else's name after she eventually accepted what was to have been a brief ride to a friend's house.

"I thought he said Brenda," she testified. "I turned back and said, 'that's not my name.'"

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Franklin, a 63-year- old former city employee charged with the murders of nine women, mostly in their 20s, and a 15-year-old girl, and with the attempted murder of Washington, who was in her late 20s at the time.

The victims' bodies were dumped in alleys and trash bins in and around South Los Angeles, Inglewood and unincorporated Los Angeles County. Washington testified that her assailant reached toward the driver's door and said something to her, then told her, "Don't touch that door, bitch, (or) I'll shoot you again."

"I said, 'You shot me?" she told jurors.

She said she hadn't heard the sound of a gunshot and reluctantly looked down later to discover blood on her chest.

"I asked him why,'' she said. "He said it was because I was dogging him out," Washington testified, noting that the term meant disrespect. "I said 'I'm not dogging you out when I don't even know you' ... Why did you shoot me?"

"At that point, he started rambling, confusing me with someone else," she said, adding that she told him that she had children and thought he would take her to a hospital. The man refused, she said.

Washington -- who works as a nurse's assistant -- testified that she "blacked in and out" and realized her assailant was on top of her at one point.

"He was taking an actual picture of me," she said.

She said that her assailant was "trying to kiss me" while she was "trying to push him off of me."

She said she told him, "Get off of me. You're hurting me."

"Did he stop?" Silverman asked.

"No," Washington responded.

"I woke up to him being between my legs," she said, noting that he was trying to kiss her.

"Could you feel his mouth on your vaginal area?" the prosecutor asked.

"Yes," the woman responded. "I remember trying to fight him, pushing him away."

She said she believed she had been raped.

"I think he did it when I was passed out," she said. She said the man pushed her out of the vehicle as she tried to open the door to get away.

"Was the car moving at the point he pushed you out?" the prosecutor asked.

"Yes," Washington responded, adding that she laid in the street before rolling over to the curb and walking to try to find help as she faded in and out of consciousness. She said that she made it to her friend's porch and urged her to call 911 when her friend and her friend's husband drove up later, and that she was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where she underwent surgery.

Shown the Polaroid-type photo that police said they recovered from Franklin's home during a three-day search by a team of investigators after his July 2010 arrest, Washington said she recognized herself inside the Pinto.

When asked if she had pulled up her blouse or bra to expose her breasts, she responded that she had not. She said she believed that she saw her assailant again at her home in Inglewood -- the address listed on her driver's license -- about a year after she was released from the hospital and that he asked if she knew him.

She said she responded, "Am I supposed to?" before he turned and walked away.

Under cross-examination, defense attorney Seymour Amster asked if she had ever seen the man again since then.

"Except in court, no," she responded.

She said a sketch done by a sketch artist that was done after the attack "didn't really look like" her assailant, and maintained that she had not told a friend that she had been in a car with two or three men.

Washington acknowledged that she had a marijuana joint laced with cocaine about four or five hours before getting into the Pinto.

In a courtroom packed with observers and other victims' family members, Washington described her assailant as shorter than her -- she is 5-foot-7 1/2 inches tall -- and neatly dressed in a short-sleeved uniform shirt and khaki pants.

She said he repeatedly asked her to let him drive her to her friend's house while she was walking in South Los Angeles and that she relented after he told her, "That's what's wrong with you black women. People can't be nice to you."

Washington testified that her attacker told her he needed to stop at his uncle's house to pick up money, and then told her to throw out her cigarette and headed in the wrong direction from her friend's home when he returned to the car before shooting her.

In her opening statement, Silverman described Washington as the "sole surviving victim" of the alleged "Grim Sleeper" attacks.

The prosecutor told jurors that Franklin had owned an orange Pinto. Along with the attempted murder, Franklin is charged with murdering:

-- Debra Jackson, 29, found dead from three gunshot wounds to the chest in an alley on Aug. 10, 1985;

-- Henrietta Wright, 34, shot twice in the chest and found dead in an alley on Aug. 12, 1986;

-- Barbara Ware, 23, shot once in the chest and found dead in an alley on Jan. 10, 1987;

-- Bernita Sparks, 26, shot once in the chest and found dead in a trash bin on on April 15, 1987;

-- Mary Lowe, 26, shot in the chest and found dead in an alley on Nov. 1, 1987;

-- Lachrica Jefferson, 22, found dead from two gunshot wounds to the chest in an alley on Jan. 30, 1988;

-- Alicia Alexander, 18, killed by a gunshot wound to the chest and found in an alley on Sept. 11, 1988;

-- Princess Berthomieux, 15, strangled and discovered in an alley in Inglewood on March 19, 2002;

-- Valerie McCorvey, 35, strangled with a ligature and found dead at the entrance to an alley on July 11, 2003; and

-- Janecia Peters, 25, shot in the back and found dead inside a sealed plastic trash bag in a trash bin in an alley on Jan. 1, 2007.

Franklin denied having contact with any of the victims, calling one of them "fat" and one of them "butt ugly" while being questioned by police after his arrest, the prosecutor said.

Authorities said after Franklin's arrest that he was identified as a suspect using familial DNA -- investigators determined that his son had DNA similar to the killer, and when they subsequently obtained Franklin's DNA, his genetic material allegedly matched forensic evidence from eight killings between 1985 and 1988, and three killings between 2001 and 2007.

Detectives have said since Franklin was taken into custody and held without bail that they were also investigating if he might be connected to the disappearances or deaths of eight other women whose photos were found in his home near 81st Street and Harvard Boulevard.

Police Investigating After Finding Car With Bullet Holes in Meriden


Meriden police are investigating after finding an unoccupied running car with several bullet holes on Thursday night and they are trying to determine whether anyone was shot.

Police responded to Sherman Avenue at Center Street in Meriden at 6:15 p.m. after receiving an anonymous report of gun shots and they found an unoccupied blue Chrysler running in front of 17 Sherman Avenue.

No one was inside it and there were several bullet holes in the front and rear doors of the left side.

Police said it’s possible that a man who was in the car might have been shot, but they could not confirm if that was accurate.

Police found shell casings nearby, impounded the car and are investigating.

Anyone with information should call Detective Marty Eisner.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Kansas Gov. Praises 'Hero' Officer


A man who wounded three people before storming into the central Kansas factory where he worked and shooting 14 others, killing three of them, had just been served a protection from abuse order that likely triggered the attack, a sheriff said Friday.

The attack Thursday evening at the Excel Industries lawnmower parts plant in Hesston ended when a police officer killed the attacker during a shootout, Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton said. He described the officer, identified Friday as Hesston Police Chief Doug Schroeder, as a "tremendous hero" because there were still 200 or 300 other people in the factory and that the "shooter wasn't done by any means."

"This man was not going to stop shooting," Walton said at a Friday morning briefing. "The only reason he stopped shooting is because the officer shot him."

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback Friday called Schroeder a "hero" who didn't wait for backup before entering the Excel building. 

"He went right in and did a heroic duty and service," Brownback said.

The sheriff identified the gunman as Cedric Ford, a 38-year-old plant worker who had several charges in Florida over the last decade, including for burglary, grand theft, carrying a concealed weapon, all from Broward and Miami-Dade counties. NBC 6 Miami has learned that Ford lived in Miramar and Miami Gardens.

His mother, Ruthie Mae Ford, lives in Homestead and was too distraught to speak on camera to NBC 6, but said she's, "Working through the idea of what happened."

According to the Wichita Eagle, Ford has also had criminal cases in Harvey County, including a misdemeanor conviction in a 2008 fighting or brawling case and various traffic violations from 2014 and 2015.

Walton said Ford had been in the local jail "a couple of times before."

The shooting came less than a week after authorities say a man opened fire at several locations in the Kalamazoo, Michigan, area, leaving six people dead and two severely wounded. Authorities haven't disclosed a possible motive in those attacks.

Eleven of the people wounded in Thursday's attack were taken to two Wichita hospitals, where one was in critical condition, five were in serious condition, and five were in fair condition Friday morning, hospital officials said. The others were taken to a Newton hospital, and their conditions weren't immediately available.

Walton said his office served the suspect with the protection from abuse order at around 3:30 p.m., which was about 90 minutes before the first shooting happened. He said such orders are usually filed because there's some type of violence in a relationship, but he didn't disclose the nature of the relationship in question.

While driving to the factory, the gunman shot a man on the street in the nearby town of Newton, striking him in the shoulder. A short time later, he shot someone else in the leg at an intersection.

"The shooter proceeded north to Excel Industries in Hesston, where one person was shot in the parking lot before he opened fire inside the building," the department said in a release. "He was seen entering the building with an assault-style long gun."

Martin Espinoza, who works at Excel, was in the plant during the attack. He heard people yelling to others to get out of the building, then heard popping, then saw the shooter, a co-worker he described as typically pretty calm.

Espinoza said the shooter pointed a gun at him and pulled the trigger, but the gun was empty. At that point, the gunman got a different gun and Espinoza ran.

"I took off running. He came outside after a few people, shot outside a few times, shot at the officers coming onto the scene at the moment and then reloaded in front of the company," Espinoza told The Associated Press. "After he reloaded he went inside the lobby in front of the building and that is the last I seen him."

Schroeder responded to the scene and exchanged fire with the shooter, killing him. He was not injured.

Walton said the attacker had an "assault-style" rifle and a pistol.

Dennis Britton Jr. suffered a fracture in his right leg when a bullet went through his buttocks and out his leg.

Britton's father, Dennis Britton Sr., who also works at the plant as a welding team leader, said his son was "awake and talking and communicating."

The son told his father that people initially mistook the gunshots for the sound of a gas fire. After hearing shouts, the younger Britton stepped out of a welding bay, heard a pop and "immediately went to the ground," his father said.

Authorities identified the dead as 44-year-old Brian Sadowsky of Newton; 31-year-old Josh Higbee of Buhler; and 30-year-old Renee Benjamin, whose hometown was unavailable.

Erin McDaniel, a spokeswoman for the nearby city of Newton, said the suspect was known to local authorities. She wouldn't elaborate.

Hesston is a community of about 3,700 residents about 35 miles north of Wichita.

Excel Industries was founded there in 1960. The company manufactures Hustler and Big Dog mowing equipment and was awarded the Governor's Exporter of the Year award in 2013 from the Kansas Department of Commerce.

Photo Credit: AP
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Teen Who Killed Teacher Gets Life


Trying hard to blink back whatever emotion is bottled inside him, Philip Chism stared mostly straight ahead as the judge sentenced him to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years for the murder of his Danvers High School Math teacher Colleen Ritzer and no less than 40 years for her rape and armed robbery.

"I wish I could have helped Colleen," her mother, Peggy Ritzer, said. "But no one could have helped her that day, because no one knew what evil sat in her classroom that day."

Ritzer's parents wiped away tears as they remembered their smiling, joyous eldest child and the pain of her loss.

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"I lost my beautiful little girl, Colleen was my daughter, my friend, someone I could go to for anything," said Colleen's father Tom Ritzer, "I didn't protect Colleen. A dad's job is to fix things. I would do anything if I could fix this for Colleen."

Before the sentence was imposed, Colleen's younger brother and sister had argued for the maximum allowable sentence under the law and vowed to fight each and every time Chism is up for parole.

"Put this animal behind bars for the maximum possible sentence, and I beg of you, your honor, do not give this coward the opportunity to shatter another family's lives," said the victim's brother, Dan Ritzer.

"The Ritzer family will always be Ritz Five," said sister Laura Ritzer. "And you can try to tear us down as much as you want, but we will find a way to bounce back, and we will not let this stop us."

Even the judge had harsh words for Chism.

"No amount of prison time would ever be enough to be commensurate with this crime, and no math will ever erase the reality that this crime was a committed by a 14-year-old boy," said Salem Superior Court Judge David Lowy.

"Colleen and our family will never get a second chance, and neither should he," said Peggy Ritzer. "I will never forgive him for what he did to Colleen and for what he took away from our family."

Philip Chism's mother, Diana released a statement saying, "Words can't express the amount of pain and sorrow these past two and a half years have been. However, there is no one who has suffered more than the Ritzer family. My utmost esteem, prayers and humble respect is with them today as they continue their journey to heal."

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Photo Credit: necn
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Dry, Mild Weekend Ahead


The final weekend of February will feel more like spring than winter, as temperatures surge into the 50s.

It will be cold for the time of year tonight, with lows in the single digits and teens.

Mostly sunny skies are expected tomorrow, when high temperatures will be in the lower 40s.

Sunday brings much warmer weather, when temperatures rise into the 50s. Sunshine will blend with clouds and make for a nice day.

A storm will track north of the state on Monday, bringing a cold front to the region. There can be an isolated shower, and it will be breezy and warm with temperatures in the 50s.

Tuesday turns out dry with more clouds than sunshine; high temperatures will again be more than 10 degrees above average, in the lower 50s.

Wednesday brings more rain as a storm tracks north of the state, again. Temperatures will soar well into the 50s.

An intrusion of cold air arrives Thursday and sticks around for the end of the first week of March. Highs plateau in the 30s.

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Iranians Vote in 1st Election Since Nuke Deal


Iranians took to the polls Friday to vote for the first time since its nuclear deal with the West, The Associated Press reported. 

The election will decide outcomes for Iran's parliament as well as its Assembly of Experts. Long lines were seen at the 53,000 polling stations throughout the country as the Interior Ministry expects a turnout of about 70 percent of the 55 million eligible to vote.

Due to the large turnout, polling hours are to be extended until 8 p.m.

"Whoever comes out of the ballot boxes, either in the parliament or the Assembly of Experts, with the votes of the people will be respected by us and everyone will respect the votes of the majority of the people," President Hassan Rouhani said. 

Photo Credit: AP

Mizzou Fires Professor After Scuffle With Campus Reporter


A mass media professor who was caught on video trying to block a student journalist from filming protests at the University of Missouri has been fired, the school announced Thursday, NBC News reported.

Melissa Click made national headlines when a video of her attempting to kick out a campus reporter covering demonstrations by the group Concerned Student 1950 went viral. In the video, Click can be heard yelling "I need some muscle over here!" as she tries to boot the journalist and covers his camera with her hands.

"The board believes that Dr. Click's conduct was not compatible with university policies and did not meet expectations for a university faculty member," Pam Henrickson, chair of the University of Missouri Board of Curators, said in a statement.

Photo Credit: AP

Eversource Works to Restore Power After Strong Storms


Power was out for thousands of houses and businesses early Thursday morning after a series of rare strong February thunderstorms came through. The outages are down to around 5,100 as of 3 p.m. on Friday and Eversource plans to have most power restored by late tonight.

Eversource has more than 700 line and tree crews working and said they restored power to more than 123,000 customers. Working with Eversource crews in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, as well as contractors from New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Canada, they have replaced almost 100 broken poles, 30,000 feet of overhead line and removed more than 70 large trees. 

A mobile resource center has been dispatching crews and Eversource has a warehouse on wheels with equipment needed to make repairs.

The electrical system sustained significant damage and crews are working as quickly and safely as possible to restore power, the company said on Facebook.

"We saw winds that were gusting up to 75 miles per hour. That's near hurricane force winds, and they just took down all trees, limbs, right down on our lines, " Frank Poirot, of Eversource, said.

Officials said there are still dangers after they de-energize a line.

"We relieve that stored energy by carefully cutting the tree and making sure the spring-back doesn't affect any of our employees, or our equipment or our customers' equipment," Karl Douglas, the regional operations manager for Eversource, said. 

The power company expects to restore power to most customers by 11:30 p.m.

"We understand the hardship that being without our product causes and we want to make sure  that we do our level best to get everybody back on line as soon as possible," Douglas said.

Anyone who sees a downed power line should stay away from it and immediately report it.

Any customers experiencing new power outages should report them to Eversource at 1-800-286-2000, or by using the outage reporting form on the company’s website. 

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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