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Gasoline Used in Hartford Fire That Displaced 12


Firefighters said test results indicated that gasoline was used in a Hartford fire that displaced 12 people. 

Officials battled a fire at 485 Edgewood Street in Hartford on Wednesday morning.

The fire broke out around 10:30 a.m., heavily damaging the third floor.

A dog needed to be rescued and reunited with its owner, according to Hartford police.

Five adults and seven children were displaced but not injured, firefighters said. 

The fire was knocked down within ten minutes and under control by 11:30 a.m. It was contained to the third floor, firefighters said. 

 The Hartford Fire Department said they are investigating and working on several leads. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Man Accused of Faking Cancer Pleads Not Guilty


A Wallingford man accused of pretending to have terminal brain cancer and accepting more than $20,000 donated to him through fundraisers pleaded not guilty to larceny charges on Thursday.

Tyler Tomer was arrested in February after a lengthy investigation.

According to court documents, police were first contacted by Tomer's uncle who told them Tomer did not have cancer and was defrauding his family and people throughout Wallingford.

People who believed Tomer was sick came together to help him and fundraisers were held in Connecticut, as well as Kansas, In all, Tomer collected at least $22,680.80, police said.

Sheehan High School, where Tomer was a standout athlete, raised $6,000, a GoFundMe account raised $6,835 and a charity golf tournament at Lyman Orchard raised more than $10,000, according to Wallingford police.

When police looked through bank statements and medical records, they determined Tomer was never diagnosed with cancer, Bradley said.

"We did a lot of search warrants for bank accounts, medical records, and it came down to the fact that he was never diagnosed with cancer. And in the end, he admitted to that," Bradley said. "It's horrific. It affects a lot of people — people who are fighting cancer."

When police asked why he did it, Tomer allegedly told them he owed money and the situation had gotten out of control, Wallingford police said.

Tomer's case was continued until March 23.

Photo Credit: Wallingford Police Department
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White Nationalist Records Robocalls for Trump


NBC News has learned that the head of the American Freedom Party has prepared a robocall attacking Mitt Romney for Utah residents.

Party head and white nationalist William Johnson told NBC News that the calls may go out as soon as 8 p.m. ET. Johnson is also planning on a robocall for Idaho and possibly other states. His group has targeted voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Vermont.

According to the transcript of the robocall, which was provided to NBC News, Johnson calls Romney and the GOP establishment “mean-spirited” who are trying to “protect big moneyed interests.” Johnson calls Trump “a populist” who “cares about the working man.” 

Photo Credit: AP

XL Center Set to Host 2017 American Men's Basketball Championship


The XL Center in Hartford will host the American Athletic Conference Men's Basketball Championship next year, according to the venue. 

The championship will be held between Mar. 9-12 in 2017.

In 2015, the XL Center hosted a number of NCAA Championship men's and women's basketball games and was the site of The American Men's Basketball Championship where more than 45,000 fans attended. 

"We are excited and appreciative that the XL Center and the city of Hartford once again will be hosting our Conference Championship," Mike Aresco, commissioner for the American Athletic Conference said. 

All 11 American Athletic Conference schools will participate in the 2017 championship.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Shelton HS Forfeits Basketball Playoffs Following Student’s Death


Just days after the death of their teammate and friend 17-year-old Edmund Conklin, members of the Shelton High School Boys Varsity Basketball team learned Thursday school officials have forfeited their upcoming playoff game.

Shelton was scheduled to play Crosby High School in Waterbury next Tuesday during the first round of the Class LL playoffs. CIAC officials confirmed to NBC Connecticut they received the forfeit paperwork signed by representatives of both schools.

"In light of the recent tragic death of a member of the SHS basketball team, the decision was made – with input from the A.D., the Coach and the Principal to forfeit next week’s scheduled play-off game. CIAC officials have been informed," Superintendent of Shelton Public Schools Christopher Clouet said in a statement.

Clouet, Headmaster Dr. Beth Smith, and Athletic Director John Niski each declined an on-camera interview request from NBC Connecticut.

Conklin was a teammate of Christopher Gleason’s son on the basketball team. Gleason said allowing the boys to compete in the playoffs and honor their fallen teammate should be part of the community’s healing process.

“I think that would be a very healthy thing to do and it’s what most people would do, so this is a very odd situation,” Gleason said.

A flower memorial on Bridgeport Avenue marks the spot of the single car rollover crash police say killed Conklin. Investigators are trying to piece together a timeline leading up to the fatal accident and the official cause remains under investigation.

“All’s I know about Eddy is he’s a fine young man and it’s just a total devastation for anybody that knew him, particularly his family,” Gleason said, “nobody knows what his dad’s going through, and his mom and his sister, just total catastrophe.”

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut/Shelton High School

UConn Contract Vote Imminent


The fate of raises for about 1,000 non-teaching UConn staff will hang in the balance during a State Senate vote that could happen as early as Friday.

The contract, which was negotiated starting last year and approved by the General Assembly's Appropriations Committee last week, would provide about $100 million in raises to the workers that include nurses, office staff, and admissions officers.

In addition to the raises, workers agreed to increase their work week from 35 hours to 40 hours, in effect decreasing how much they make each hour.

The contract came under intense scrutiny because the day after the contract was OK'd by the committee, the states worsening fiscal crisis became more apparent.

Governor Dannel Malloy's administration has come out against the contract, for fear of not being able to pay for the raises in a difficult budget years, but also because it could worsen the state;s bargaining position with other unions with which the state negotiates.

Thursday, top Senate Democrat Sen. Martin Looney said a vote could come either Friday or Monday on the contract. If neither chamber acts, the contract would automatically go into effect next Wednesday.

“We are planning a session to consider the contract" Sen. Looney, (D - New Haven) told reporters.
Labor groups say a deal is a deal and the state should honor what was negotiated in good faith, despite the state's financial conditions.

“They need to just respect the process and understand that both sides came to an agreement and so they should implement the contract" said Lori Pelletier with the Connecticut AFL-CIO.

Sen. Len Fasano, the top Republican in the State Senate is happy about the vote but said it took political pressure for Democrats to reach the conclusion his caucus reached quickly after the contract was approved in the committee stage.

"It's political posturing," Sen. Fasano, (D - North Haven), said.

“How will those people feel if they get laid off. Will they pay an extra $3 for a generic drug? Will they pay an extra $5 for a prescription drug? $10 for a doctor’s visit? I would suggest to save their job, their pension and their healthcare, they’ll gladly pay a little bit more.”

Johanny Baez is an admissions officer at UConn and would receive a raise if the contract goes into effect. She fears for UConn's image.

“Parents pay a lot of attention to what’s going on and my fear is that parents are going to lose confidence in UConn. UConn is a flagship university and this is why people come to UConn.”
Baez says rejecting the contract could have a ripple effect.

“This is not just about our contract. This is about UConn students.”

America's Hospitals Still Riddled With Infectious Bacteria


America’s hospitals are teeming with infectious bacteria, including drug-resistant superbugs, according to two reports released Thursday, NBC News reported.

One-third of hospitals rated by Consumer Reports got low scores on preventing infections. Many include teaching hospitals like Johns Hopkins University or Harvard Medical School. The list also includes the Cleveland Clinic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say hospital staff are responsible for spreading infections by not washing hands, not cleaning rooms thoroughly, and slow detection of outbreaks.

Officials at Johns Hopkins said they are working on the problems.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Casino in Fairfield County Would Have Greater Benefit for State: Study


A new casino built in Fairfield County would have a much greater financial benefit to Connecticut than if it was built in the Greater Hartford area, according to a study released on Thursday.

The study by Oxford Economics shows a commercial casino built in southwestern Connecticut would generate $545 million more in total economic output for the state, including $128 million more in total tax revenue, than a casino in north central Connecticut would.

A casino in southwestern Connecticut would also mean 3,600 more jobs, according to the study, which was commissioned by MGM Resorts.

Last year, the state reached a deal with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes to develop a casino on non-tribal land, a first for Connecticut. The tribes, which operate Foxwoods Resort and Mohegan Sun respectively, are looking to build a casino in the Hartford region to compete with MGM's new casino being built in Springfield, Massachusetts.

"The bottom line question is where does Connecticut get the best deal? The more comprehensive the study, the clearer the answer becomes. It is not in the Hartford region. Southwest Connecticut offers a market that brings more jobs, more revenue and more opportunity for economic growth. The Oxford Economics study, as a precursor to a full-blown state analysis, precisely lays out the facts," Alan Feldman, MGM Executive Vice President, Global Government and Industry Affairs said in a statement.

MGM officials said they hope the study will spur the state to do its own independent study on the economic impacts of different locations for a new casino.

Photo Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Gun Proposal Would Allow Permit Checks by Police


The latest push by gun control advocates in Connecticut is to allow police to check for permits from anyone who is open carrying a weapon in the state.

The proposal comes after several incidents in different towns where people called police when they saw someone open carrying a gun.

Gun rights advocates at the Connecticut Citizens Defense League said they feel they have to remind people too often that state law protects their right to openly carry a firearm.

“It’s well established now in Connecticut that carrying open firearms is legal to do on a Connecticut permit" said Scott Wilson, CCDL's President. "Therefore if an individual is walking around and they’re not threatening anybody, they have every right to carry that gun.”

Bridgeport Police Officer Ricardo Lopez had an encounter with a gun owner in a restaurant several months ago during which the individual was carrying his weapon on his waist and he refused to present his permit to an officer.

Lopez said in a city like Bridgeport that faced a violent summer of gun violence, the mere appearance of a weapon makes some people feel uneasy.

“Open carry is not a comfortable thing for the average citizen. It brings alarm to it," he said.

Wilson says it's not unreasonable to provide training to dispatchers to ask the right questions before jumping to a conclusion that if a gun is seen on someone in public, then they must have ill-intent.

"There could be questions from the desk, from the person at the desk who’s fielding these calls to ask questions whether or not the person the person is acting in a threatening behavior."

Police chiefs in Connecticut say it's not a big deal to ask someone to prove their weapon and possession is legal.

Farmington Police Chief Paul Melanson said, “it puts the police officer into a very precarious situation where you have an individual who’s armed with a handgun, which is exposed to the public who could be right outside on the sidewalk of a school or something like that and how are we then supposed to handle that?”

He says other state permits need to be presented on command to those enforcing the law and a gun permit shouldn't be treated any differently.

“If you’re hunting, you need to have a permit visible. If you’re fishing you need to have your permit visible. We don’t think it’s unreasonable when a police officer knows someone has a handgun in public like this that he asks if he presents the permit.”

Photo Credit: enterprisenews.com

2 Cases Link Zika to Paralyzing Condition


French doctors said Thursday that two people suffering from Guillain-Barre in Martinique had evidence of Zika infection, NBC News reported.

Staff at a Martinique hospital reported that two people seriously ill with the paralyzing nerve condition spent weeks on ventilators. Neither had any other infection known to cause Guillain-Barre, but they did have the Zika virus in their urine.

Zika had not been known to cause the rare paralyzing nerve condition before, but its spread across Latin America and the Caribbean is affecting larger numbers than ever infected before.  

Photo Credit: AP

Trump Campaigner Charged in 2014 Ranch Standoff


Twelve people were arrested Thursday in connection with an armed protest on the Bundy ranch in Nevada in 2014, NBC News reported.

The arrests include two more of Cliven Bundy’s sons — Melvin and David Bundy — and Gerald DeLemus, a New Hampshire man linked to Donald Trump’s campaign. Trump’s campaign did not respond to questions from NBC News about DeLemus’ arrest.

Federal agents who seized Bundy's cattle over unpaid grazing fees backed off after being confronted with armed protesters and snipers on Aug. 12, 2014.

A federal grand jury in Nevada indicted 14 people in all on charges of conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States and other counts, federal prosecutors said. Two of those indicted Thursday were already in custody in Oregon. 

Photo Credit: AP

Four Arrested in Bristol Assault


Bristol police arrested four men following a brawl at a bodega Thursday afternoon.

Police say they responded to The Corner Store at 1 Divinity Street around 3:53 p.m. for reports of a disturbance. When they arrived they found four male suspects had attacked a 27-year-old male victim inside the store. The injuries were not serious and the victim refused medical attention.

Drugs were found on three of the four suspects. All four were arrested for the incident.

Brandon Medina, 21, of Dorothy Road in Bristol was charged with second-degree breach of peace, third-degree assault, and third-degree criminal mischief. He was held on a $7,500 bond.

Christopher Solis, 27, of North Street in Bristol was charged with second-degree breach of peace, third-degree assault, third-degree criminal mischief and possession of marijuana. He was held on a $50,000 bond.

Rodney Lockhart, 21, of Locust Street in New Britain, was charged with second-degree breach of peace, third-degree assault, third-degree criminal mischief, possession of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to sell, and illegal possession within 1500 feet of a school. He was held on a $150,000 bond.

Victor Negron, 33, was charged with second-degree breach of peace, third-degree assault, third-degree criminal mischief, violation conditions of release, illegal possession of narcotics, illegal possession of narcotics with intent to sell, illegal possession within 1500 of a school. He was held on a $200,000.

Police say no weapons were involved and the victim knew his assailants. The store did suffer minor damage during the incident.

Rodney King Video 25 Years Old


Twenty-five years ago, on the cusp of the home video era, a drunk and speeding Rodney King led officers on a pursuit that ended in front of George Holliday's Lake View Terrace apartment in northeast LA.

Then living in a unit facing Foothill Boulevard, Holliday heard the commotion outside and got out something few owned in 1991: a home video camera.

What he captured – LAPD officers brutally beating King, who was on parole for armed robbery, on the ground with batons – was broadcast worldwide and became a symbol of police brutality.

Holliday has rarely spoken with the media, an exception being an interview with NBC last year.

"I thought, I should film this," Holliday recalled. "When I went out to the balcony, they were already hitting him."

When four officers charged with felony assault on King were acquitted by a jury with no black members, the verdict sparked a riot that lasted for six days and brought U.S. military presence to patrol LA streets.

"I was just wondering, what had happened? What led to this?" Holliday said.

TV news broadcasts of the video triggered outrage, more when King left custody fractured and bruised in a wheelchair.

"Watching it unfold, it was not so much about Rodney King as about all of us. We've all been in a place that was similar," said Melina Abdullah, a professor and Black Lives Matter organizer.

An appointed commission called for reform.

"I remember watching the first time and wondering what the hell was going on," said current Chief of Police Charlie Beck. "I think it was the beginning of a lot of self-examination."

Training changed, among other things. The baton was shunted aside as the favored tool for getting compliance from a combative suspect to be handcuffed.

During the unrest, which left more than 50 people dead and caused more than $1 billion in property damage, King famously pleaded for peace by asking, "Can we all get along?"

That confrontation on Foothill Blvd illuminated the value of video, though perhaps few envisioned how technology would make it so widely available to the public as today. Police as well have embraced video monitoring in police cars and increasingly on officers themselves.

"Everybody I know is walking around with a camera and that has changed the world and changed expectations," Beck said.

Holliday's video was largely responsible for getting King a nearly $4 million settlement form the city of LA. Holliday recalls King told him it did more than that.

"He said, 'You saved my life,'" Holliday recalled.

King never succeeded in overcoming his addiction issues, and drowned at age 47 in his Rialto home swimming pool four years ago. His death was ruled accidental in an autopsy by the San Bernardino County Coroner's Office, which also noted he had marijuana, cocaine and alcohol in his system.

Even as the King case ushered in the modern era of the video camera watchdog, it also demonstrated that even when it's on video, not everybody sees the same thing.

Photo Credit: File – Getty Images

Fatal Crash Closes Route 2 West in East Hartford


Route 2 westbound in East Hartford is shut down after a fatal crash, according to Connecticut State Police.

Troopers responded around 8:45 p.m. to the area of exit 5A for a one car accident with car fire.

It is unclear how many people were in the vehicle at the time, but police confirm there is at least one fatality.

The highway is shut down between exits 5A and 4 while police investigate.

More information was not immediately available. Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation

Local Fire Departments Warn of CO Phone Scam


Fire marshals across the state are putting out a warning after reports of calls in several communities from scammers pretending to be with the department.

The scam starts when they call and say they have to come check your carbon monoxide detector or else you will receive a violation. So far calls have been reported in East Hartford and Windsor, so departments across the region want residents to be aware.

“We’re in the business to help people and we’ll be more than happy to come out, but we’re not threatening people,” Glastonbury Fire Chief Michael Thurs said.

Glastonbury posted the warning on social media and the town’s website in an effort to make sure residents do not fall for it.

“It’s a sick thing to do when you really think about it,” resident Robert Surface said. “You’re pretending to be somebody who is an authority figure and you’re preying on people who rely on them.”

Fire departments want to make sure everyone is aware they do not partner with outside vendors. They will come check your detectors, but only if you call them.

Due to the fact that the scammers are asking to get into your home, police have reason to believe they are local. If you receive one of these calls, they ask you get as much information as possible and then report it.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Crisis Team Activated after Death of Waterbury 3rd Grader


There was a moment of silence at Thursday’s Waterbury Board of Education meeting as people prayed for a little girl who died after collapsing at her after-school program.

“Certainly our hearts go out to the family, our students, and our staff,” says Kathleen Ouellette, Waterbury Public Schools superintendent.

The Waterbury superintendent says the girl’s name is Sharmaya Ogman and she was a third grader at Duggan School.

Her teachers described her as an excellent student.

The superintendent says the nine-year-old had an asthma attack at her after school program on Wednesday. Staff rushed to help her.

The superintendent says Ogman was rushed to the hospital and sadly passed away on Thursday.

“We’re extremely distraught over the situation,” says Ouellette.

The superintendent says Ogman was loved by both students and staff. That’s why so many are hurting after her death.

Crisis teams were activated to help those involved in the after-school program and also those at her school.

“Counseling has been around the clock since (Thursday) morning and especially (Wednesday) evening when she was transported to the hospital,” says Ouellette.

That counseling will continue as needed.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Posters Placed on Yale Campus Address Sexual Violence


Posters stating “stop supporting a rapist” were scattered across Yale’s campus this week, according to reports in the Yale Daily News. Those words are reportedly aimed at the Yale men’s basketball team.

The campus newspaper says posters appeared after the team showed support for one of its players.

Following the powerful posters, the Yale Women's Center posted a message on Facebook but then changed it hours later to eliminate a sentence of speculation. The post said in part "the team's actions appeared to be a dismissal of the very real threat of sexual violence. We believe that their actions, and some community members' responses, reflect toxic attitudes that persist on our campus."

At this point, the allegations have not been confirmed by the university or local authorities. New Haven police say they are not investigating sexual assault allegations against that basketball player.

When asked about it, the school did not directly address the issue. Instead, the university cited federal law when it comes to the privacy of student records, saying in part "all student educational matters, including disciplinary matters, are a private educational concern between the student and Yale."

While many questions remain unanswered, students believe it's helping to open a broader conversation when it comes to the culture on campus.

"I think the conversations are the most important thing," said Yale freshman Genna Abele.

"We're all capable of having these conversations. We just need to find the space and the time to have them," said Yale freshman Linette Rivera.

Photo Credit: File Photo

Man in Texas Posed As Dead Neighbor


A North Texas man suspected of assuming the identity of a dead man and committing several illegal acts of deception has been arrested in Southern California, police say.

Christopher Brian Colbert, 43, was arrested by U.S. Marshals Thursday in Los Angeles on charges of money laundering, tampering with a governmental record and securing/executing of a document by deception, according to Dallas Police Maj. Max Geron.[[329299491,C]]

Each felony carries a $100,000 bond. Colbert is not charged with any violent crime.

In September 2015 the remains of 57-year-old Ronald David Shumway were discovered encased in a concrete slab near the backyard of a vacant home under renovation in the 700 block of Winnetka Avenue. Dallas police said Shumway had owned the home for more than 30 years but had not been seen or heard from for about six months before his body was found.

Investigators believe Colbert, a former next-door neighbor, sold Shumway's home by posing as the dead man.

Police say Colbert forged signatures on closing documents and provided the title company with a doctored driver’s license photo – one that had his photo superimposed over Shumway's actual license.

Police also say Colbert used Shumway’s debit card last summer to make almost $40,000 in purchases.

Colbert is currently held in Los Angeles and is awaiting extradition to North Texas. There was no attorney information posted for Colbert.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News/Dallas Police
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Man Border Smuggled in Gas Tank


A Brazilian man trying to illegally enter the United States was caught crammed inside the gas tank compartment of an SUV at a border checkpoint in Southern California, officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) confirmed.

The bizarre border bust happened around 3:15 a.m. Tuesday at the Calexico East Port of Entry, located approximately 130 miles southeast of downtown San Diego.

CBP officers noticed a 2001 Toyota Sequoia entering the east port. The SUV – driven by a 40-year-old U.S. Citizen – was referred to another point at the port of entry for further examination.

While inspecting the SUV, officers used an imaging system and found anomalies in the gas tank and under the back seats. As officers scoured the vehicle, they discovered a man hidden inside the gas tank, which had been partially modified to include a large, human-sized compartment.

The man, a 38-year-old citizen of Brazil with no legal documents to enter the U.S., was extracted from the compartment and taken into custody by CBP officers.

The driver of the SUV, a resident of Calexico, California, whose name was not released, was arrested at the checkpoint on suspicion of human smuggling. He will face federal charges, CBP officials said. He was booked into the Imperial County Jail, and his vehicle was seized by officers.

Following the driver’s legal proceedings, CBP officials said the Brazilian man will be removed from the U.S.

David Salazar, Acting Port Director for the Calexico Ports of Entry, said the vast majority of human smuggling attempts at that particular spot involve citizens from Mexico, as the checkpoint is right on the U.S.-Mexico border.

However, from time to time, Salazar said officers do encounter “smuggling attempts involving citizens from Central and South America, as well as other areas around the world.”

“CBP has no tolerance for violations of immigration law, especially cases involving human smuggling in such hazardous conditions,” he added.

According to the CBP, in fiscal year 2014, officers at border crossings between California and Mexico apprehended more than 33,000 people trying to enter the U.S. illegally.

Photo Credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection
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Trump's Flip-Flops Exposed, But Rivals Still Vow to Back Him


During Thursday's debate, both Donald Trump's rivals and the debate moderators for Fox News clearly laid out a case based on facts that the billionaire's policies were unworkable; that he regularly shifted his positions; and that he had engaged in business practices he routinely denounces on the campaign trail.

Trump, in turn, bragged about the size of his penis and promised to force Americans to commit war crimes. Yet, he remains the favorite to win the Republican nomination.

There's not much more anyone can do but wait for the voters to weigh in on Trump, who has so far thrived while being caught telling blatant lies and making bigoted and misogynist statements that would instantly destroy a different candidate.

It is possible the attacks will reach critical mass before March 15, when wins in Ohio and Florida would likely secure him the nomination, or maybe his fans will see his bullying and obscene retorts as an appealing sign of strength like they have to this point.

Photo Credit: AP
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