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Jailed Ex-Ill. Gov. Loses Appeal


Rod Blagojevich, the jailed former Illinois governor who once commanded record pluralities in state elections and envisioned himself as presidential timber, saw his longshot-bid for freedom reduced to a "rejected" list Monday at the United States Supreme Court. 

The high court, without comment, turned down Blagojevich’s appeal, leaving intact the 14-year sentence he received for, among other things, attempting to make deals for the Senate seat once occupied by President Barack Obama. It was the last mile of the former governor’s appellate road, but there is one narrow legal avenue remaining.

Blagojevich was convicted on a total of 18 counts, but last year, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals tossed five of those and ordered that the former governor be resentenced. That would appear to be his only avenue of redemption at this stage, but the resentencing will come at the hands of the judge who sent him to prison in the first place, United States District Judge James Zagel.

Blagojevich has been neither seen nor heard since he surrendered to the federal correctional facility in Englewood, Colorado four years ago. Last August, he released a statement through his attorneys expressing hope that he would one day be vindicated.

"These have been hard years for my family — for our children and for my wife, Patti and me," he wrote. "Yet we continue to have faith in the truth; in the righteousness of our cause; in the rule of law and in America; in each other; and, most of all, in God."

Blagojevich declared in that statement, "I must fight on."

"Fundraising is the job of every politician," he said.  "The jury instructions used to convict me in my case are not the law. It makes the standard so low that any politician can be jailed at the whim of an ambitious prosecutor."

It has been widely believed that Zagel was waiting for the Supreme Court to act before scheduling Blagojevich’s resentencing. But even that proceeding may offer little solace for the former governor, as the appellate court provided plenty of cover for Zagel to keep the present sentence intact.

"It is not possible to call 168 months unlawfully high for Blagojevich’s crimes," they wrote, "but the district judge should consider on remand whether it is the most appropriate sentence."

Blagojevich's wife, Patti Blagojevich, said she was "disappointed" by the decision, but noted it was "not entirely unexpected."

"We are hopeful that after the governor is resentenced, as a result of a federal appeals court tossing out five of the counts against him, that the highest court may be moved to take the case then," she said in a statement. “This was, of course, not the outcome that Rod, our daughters Amy and Annie, had hoped and prayed for. But we continue to have faith in the system and an unshakable love for Rod. We long for the day that he will be back home with us.”

Blagojevich has eight years remaining on his sentence. He is due to be released in May 2024.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Man Threatens to Rob Store When Credit Card Is Declined: Police


State police have arrested a man who is accused of trying to rob a gas station in Mansfield after his credit card was declined and the store would not take his electronic benefits card.

Police responded to the Mobil gas station at 9 Stafford Road at 6:48 p.m. on Sunday when the panic alarm went off and the clerk said George Yonclas, 31, of Willimantic, who was dressed all in black, tried to buy cigarettes at 6:20 p.m., but his credit card was declined.

Then he tried to use an EBT card – an electronic benefits transfer card used for food assistance – but the store does not accept it, police said.

Yonclas, who was getting frustrated, demanded $60 or said he would rob the store, police said.

Then he reached into his jacket and threatened to rob the clerk, police said.

The clerk told police she thought Yonclas was reaching for a gun, so she hit the panic alarm button and said she was not going to give him any money.

When Yonclas walked away, heading south of Route 32, Willimantic police took him into custody.

Police said Yonclas did not have a weapon, but did try and open the door of the police cruiser to get away.

He was charged with criminal attempt to commit robbery in the first degree, second-degree breach of peace, third-degree criminal trespass, interfering with police and criminal attempt to escape from custody.

He was held on a $250,000 bond and is due in court today.

Teen Killed on DC Metro Platform


The 15-year-old boy shot and killed Saturday on a D.C. Metro platform had been headed to get a haircut with his mother and two younger sisters before Easter when a man approached him and opened fire, family members said.

Davonte Washington died Saturday after a man shot him about 4:15 p.m. inside the Deanwood Metro station in Northeast D.C., police said Sunday. Davonte was rushed to a hospital, where he died.

"It's been a very somber Easter," said Victor Leonard, Davonte's grandfather.

Davonte, a ninth-grader and Air Force junior ROTC member at Largo High School, got off a bus with his mother and little sisters Saturday afternoon and was waiting for a train when a man walked up to him, Leonard said Davonte's mother told him.

"They were on the platform. She said the guy walked up to them and asked him what was going on. He said, 'Nothing.' The guy said, 'I'll shoot you,' and he shot him," Leonard said. "Just like that."

Davonte's mother had trouble getting help in the Metro station, Leonard said.

"There was no police officer in the station nowhere," he said. "My daughter said she was running, looking for help and there's no one in sight."

Metropolitan Police Department District Cmdr. David Taylor said police do not believe Davonte was shot at random.

But the teen's grandfather said the family has no reason to believe Davonte knew the gunman.

No information about a suspect was immediately released, but Metro chairman Jack Evans said surveillance cameras in the station caught the shooting. 

"It's a little-known fact that if you commit a crime in or around Metro, we we have a good record of catching everybody because of the great surveillance we have," he said.

Davonte's family said there should be a greater police presence at the Metro station.

Prince George's County Public Schools extended condolences to the 15-year-old's loved ones.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Davonte Washington," a statement released Sunday said.

Counselors will be available Tuesday at Largo High School.

Davonte's family has started a GoFundMe account to help cover the costs of his funeral.

Anyone with information for police is asked to call 202-727-9099 or send an anonymous text message to 50411. A reward of as much as $25,000 is offered to anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Washington Family
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Convicted Killer Escapes Ohio Prison


Ohio authorities are searching for a convicted killer who escaped from prison over the weekend, NBC News reports.

According to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, prison officials discovered that John Modie was missing from his cell around 11 p.m. Sunday.

Modie was sentenced to 18 years to life in prison in 2003 for kidnap and murder, and has also been charged with escape. He's considered dangerous, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Hocking College, a campus close to the Southeastern Correctional Complex, closed Monday amid the manhunt. Prison officials and police are searching the prison facility and surrounding area.

Photo Credit: Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction

Car Crashes Into New Haven Shop


A car crashed into the Winchester Mart in New Haven early Monday afternoon.

The car hit the shop at the corner of Winchester Avenue and Munson Street.

An ambulance responded, as did police officers, firefighters and building inspectors responded to the scene.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Mailman Handcuffed on the Job


The NYPD said it will review an incident in which four plainclothes officers and a lieutenant handcuffed a postal worker who was out driving his mail truck.

The March 17 confrontation involving postal worker Glenn Grays was captured on cellphone videos that have been widely shared. The videos show officers telling Grays to stop resisting even though he does not appear to be resisting.

Grays said at a news conference last week he was delivering mail in Brooklyn when an unmarked police car nearly hit his mail truck. He said he shouted at the driver, and the officers backed the police car up and demanded identification.

Grays told The New York Times the driver said to him, "I have the right of way because I'm law enforcement."

Grays said he was handcuffed and placed in the back of the unmarked police car. He was then taken to the local precinct and issued a summons for disorderly conduct, which will require him to appear in court.

Appearing with Grays at the news conference on Tuesday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams expressed outrage over the apparent violation of a federal employee's civil rights.

"They issued him a summons in hopes of sweeping this under the rug," said Adams, a Democrat and a former police officer.

Adams added, "It is not a crime for someone to voice outrage after almost being struck by a vehicle."

The police department said only that the incident was under internal review.

Photo Credit: Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams

78-Year-Old Plainville Woman Reported Missing


Police are looking for a 78-year-old missing Plainville woman who has dementia.

Police said Catherine Fitzgerald, who lives with her daughter, has been missing since 3 p.m. on Sunday.

She suffers from dementia and becomes confused easily, according to police.

Fitzgerald is believed to be driving a gray 1999 Chevy Malibu with Connecticut license plate 8AHFN1 and might be heading to Vermont, where she has lived before.

She was last seen wearing a white turtleneck top, a blue sweatshirt with snowflakes and black sweatpants.

No photo of her has been released.

Anyone with information on where she is should call the Plainville Police Department at 860-747-1616.

Photo Credit: Plainville Police

Woman to Sue After Cop Shoots Dog


A New York City pet owner said she plans to sue the NYPD after an officer gunned down her friendly dog, which had gone to the door as the cop responded to a dispute at another apartment. 

Yvonne Rosado said her 4-year-old pit bull named Spike was shot to death by an officer who responded to her Bronx apartment building on Feb. 13.

She said the 70-pound dog had come to the door with its tail wagging and showed no signs of aggression when the officer knocked on the door. 

Surveillance video of the confrontation shows Spike sneak through the door with his tail wagging rapidly. The officer backs up, draws his weapon and fires a fatal shot.

Footage later shows several people standing outside the apartment, and Rosado can be seen in obvious distress over the dead animal. She later appears to hit the officer who shot her dog. 

Rosado was still emotional Friday as she described Spike's death.

"I'm begging him not to leave me and he's twitching and his tail's still wagging," Rosado said. "It's like he's still trying to hang on. But he just died and I just couldn't believe it."

The officer later left the apartment building without apologizing, Rosado said. 

The NYPD said it was reviewing the case but would not say if the officer was equipped with a new type of Mace effective against dogs. Police are authorized to shoot animals in self-defense but the move is considered a last resort. The officer has not been identified. 

The Daily News first reported the shooting. 

Photo Credit: Provided to NBC 4 New York

Man Accused of Injuring Girlfriend After Accusing her of Cheating


A Willimantic man is accused of injuring his girlfriend after confronting her about rumors she was cheating, then trying to keep her from calling 911, police said.

Police said they responded to Ash Street in Willimantic to investigate a domestic dispute and determined that the argument had gotten violent.

According to police, John Green, 50, had come home to question his live-in girlfriend on “rumors” that she was being unfaithful and he started slapping her when she tried to call 911, then took the phone and hung up on the police dispatcher, police said.

Police dispatch then called back and heard a woman screaming for help, police said.

Police found Green, arrested him and charged him with third-degree assault, disorderly conduct and interfering with an emergency call.

Police said he has an extensive criminal history. He was held over the weekend on a $10,000 bond and is due in Danielson Superior Court today.

Photo Credit: Willimantic Police

Decision on CSCU Tuition Hikes Heads to Board of Regents


The proposal to increase tuition in the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system will head to the Board of Regents on Tuesday after the finance and infrastructure committee approved the hikes this morning. 

In a letter to students, Mark Ojakian, president of CSCU, said he recommended tuition increases at all the institutions for next year, including a 5 percent increase to tuition for universities. This would boost the current tuition of $9,609 by $480 to $10,089.

He recommended a 3.5 percent increase for community colleges, which would increase the tuition by $141, from $4,032 to $4,173. He also recommended a 4 percent increase at Charter Oak State College, from $8,666 to $9,013.

"I am fully aware that this is not the news you wanted to receive. Nor is it the news I wanted to be delivering. We spent a lot of time reviewing our budget options for next year. I believe this increase is fair given our current environment, and keeps our schools affordable so you are not burdened with crippling debt when you graduate," he said in a statement.

Ojakian said he expects $26 million in cuts during the next fiscal year and the proposed increase does not close the deficit, but it would allow the schools to "remain accessible and not burden students with crippling debt upon graduation.” 

The tuition hike would affect more than 88,000 students.

The following colleges and universities are part of the system:

  • Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield
  • Capital Community College in Hartford
  • Central Connecticut State University in New Britain
  • Charter Oak State College in New Britain
  • Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic
  • Gateway Community College in New Haven
  • Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport
  • Manchester Community College in Manchester
  • Middlesex Community College in Middletown
  • Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury
  • Northwestern CT Community College in Winsted
  • Norwalk Community College in Norwalk
  • Quinebaug Valley Community College in Danielson
  • Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven
  • Three Rivers Community College in Norwich
  • Tunxis Community College in Farmington
  • Western Connecticut State University in Danbury 

Ojakian also announced a temporary hiring freeze across all 17 campuses and the system office for at least the rest of this fiscal year.

The special meeting for the Board of Regents will begin at 10 a.m. on Tuesday in the Community Commons Room at Manchester Community College. The meeting will be on the second floor of Great Path Academy.

Approval of tuition and fees for fiscal year 2017 is just one of the items they are planned to discuss.

Crane Catches Fire Near Terminal in New Haven


New Haven firefighters responded to a crane on fire near the Quinnipiac River Bridge Monday.

The fire was at 400 Waterfront Street, close to the Gateway Terminal.

Heavy fire could be seen coming from the crane, according to tweets by the New Haven Fire Department.

The flames were brought under control quickly.

It was not clear if the fire started in the crane or in some nearby materials.

Photo Credit: New Haven Fire Dept.

Winter's Last Gasp This Weekend


Temperatures will plunge well below average this weekend as April arrives.

The average high is 55 degrees and the average low is 34 degrees in the Hartford area.

Actual high temperatures will likely be stuck in the 30s on Sunday.

That would be at least 15 degrees below average, something not seen very often this past winter.

A reinforcing push of cold air may keep temperatures well below average Monday and Tuesday.

Low temperatures could slip into the teens on Monday and/or Tuesday mornings, especially in the northwest hills.

Woman Stole Liquor From Meriden Package Store: Police


The owner and employees at the Valencia Liquor and Wine Shop on E. Main St. in Meriden are hoping the public can help identify an alleged thief caught on surveillance camera.

“Even with the cameras, she still wasn’t afraid to take some bottles, it was really amazing to see that,” said an employee who did not want his name used. “This kind of brazen activity, brazen illegal activity, hurts the community, hurts small business people, it hurts everyone.”

The woman walked into the store around 6 p.m. on Good Friday carrying a large bag, the employee said.

"We request people don’t come in with large bags," he said. "She came in with a bag empty and apparently left with it full.”

The woman left the store with three to six bottles of top shelf liquor worth about $300, according to store employees.

Owner Marc Rosen told NBC Connecticut she drove off in a Navy blue Nissan Altima with tinted windows.

“We try to assist the customers any way we can and to be just violated like this it’s really nasty,” the employee said. "This kind of person needs to be stopped."

At one point in the surveillance video, the woman looks around before she appears to place one of the bottles under jacket in sight of a sign in the store that says "Smile, you are on camera."

Meriden Police are investigating this liquor store theft. If you recognize the woman in the surveillance video, give them a call at (203) 630-6201.

NC Governor Calls LGBT Criticism 'Political Theater'


North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory on Monday dismissed criticism of a controversial new law curbing LGBT anti-discrimination protections as "political theater" concocted by left-wing activists.

In an interview with NBC News, he accused the activists of a "calculated smear campaign" that included threatening local businesses to oppose the measure.

"This political correctness has gone amok," he said. 

McCrory, a Republicans running for re-election, said he would not back down from the measure, which blocks the city of Charlotte — and any other local government — from allowing transgender people to use bathrooms that match the gender they identify with.

Photo Credit: AP

Shooting Outside Hartford Walmart


Police responded to a shooting outside the Walmart at 495 Flatbush Avenue in Hartford Monday evening.

There was no word on injuries.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Armed Suspect Shot at Capitol


A Capitol police officer shot and injured a man who brought a weapon into the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center Monday afternoon, the chief of Capitol Police said. 

An officer fired after the man pointed what appeared to be a weapon at him, U.S. Capitol Police Chief Matthew Verderosa said. The man was wounded and was in surgery Monday afternoon at Washington Hospital Center, where he is listed in critical condition, according to hospital officials.

A female bystander received minor injuries and also was taken to a hospital. 

"We believe that this is the act of a single person who has frequented the Capitol grounds before, and there is no reason to believe this is anything more than a criminal act," Verderosa said at a news conference. 

The man went through a metal detector at the visitor center, an alarm went off and he pulled out the gun, two sources told News4's Shomari Stone.

"It appears the screening process worked as intended," Verderosa said, noting the suspect has not yet been charged. A weapon was recovered at the scene.

NBC News’s Pete Williams reported early Monday evening that the weapon was a pellet gun.

The suspect's vehicle was found on Capitol grounds and will be cleared of any hazards and then seized, the police chief said.

Two federal officials named the suspect to Williams as Larry Dawson. Dawson was known to U.S. Capitol Police and was a frequent visitor, Williams reported.

Dawson, from Antioch, Tennessee, is facing charges for allegedly standing up and shouting Bible verses in October 2015 in the House Chamber Gallery. According to court documents from the Superior Court for the District of Columbia, Dawson identified himself as a “Prophet of God” to the people in the gallery.

According to the documents, Dawson was removed from gallery and, while being removed from the building, pushed a police officer and began to run. He was caught and charged with assault on a police officer.

A Stay Away Order was issued to Dawson, including a map of the area he was supposed to avoid, which included the U.S. Capitol building and grounds, including all Congressional buildings.

The U.S. Capitol complex was locked down about 3 p.m. The shelter-in-place order was lifted at 3:45 p.m., but the Capitol was open only for official business. The visitor center remained closed. 

At first, anyone outside was advised to seek cover immediately, U.S. Capitol police said. The D.C. Police Department later said in an update that there had been an isolated incident and there was no threat to the public.

Visitors were turned away from the Capitol as emergency vehicles flooded the street and the plaza on the building's eastern side. Police, some carrying long guns, cordoned off the streets immediately around the building, which were thick with tourists visiting for spring holidays and the Cherry Blossom Festival.

Initial reports by The Associated Press said a police officer sustained minor injuries. Sources told Williams and Stone that was not the case. Verderosa said no officers were injured.

The visitor center will be open as usual on Tuesday, Verderosa said. 

Jill Epstein, executive director of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, told NBC News she was at the visitor center on a lobbying trip to meet a senator when an active shooter was reported.

"I was with a group of my colleagues walking into the visitor center and as we were literally going through the metal detectors, people started screaming, 'Get out! Get out!' We didn't know which way to run. We ran out and and they told us to get against the wall so we were crouching against the wall outside the visitor center,” she said.

"Police appeared out of everywhere and they were screaming, 'Run for it! Run for it! Run up that ramp!' And we ran like you see in videos. It was surreal. It was so beautiful out and the cherry blossoms are in bloom and people are running for their lives. It was unsettling and scary," Epstein said.

The witness said one of her colleagues bolted for the door without his watch, wallet or phone, which were still on the conveyor belt of the metal detector.

It's the second time in less than a year that the U.S. Capitol was locked down due to a gun incident. Last April, a 22-year-old from Lincolnwood, Illinois, fatally shot himself on the building’s west front, triggering an hourslong lockdown.

A dental hygienist from Connecticut, Miriam Carey, 34, was shot and killed outside the Capitol Oct. 3, 2013 after police said she tried to ram a temporary security barrier outside the White House with her car and then struck a Secret Service uniformed division officer. She then fled the scene, leading police on a chase.

According to subsequent investigation by the News4 I-team, U.S. Capitol police stopped at least 13 people from carrying guns on or near Capitol grounds from 2012 to 2015.

On July 24, 1998, two U.S. Capitol Police officers were killed after a gunman stormed past a Capitol security checkpoint and opened fire. Officer Jacob J. Chestnut Jr. was fatally shot at the checkpoint, and a tourist was injured in the initial crossfire between the gunman and police. Detective John M. Gibson then told congressional aides to seek cover before exchanging gunfire with the shooter. Gibson was fatally wounded, but police say his actions allowed other officers to subdue the gunman.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington
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New Britain Mayor Announces Hiring and Spending Freeze


The mayor of New Britain has ordered an immediate freeze on hiring and discretionary spending for all city department heads, including the Board of Education, citing a likely 5 percent reduction in municipal aid from the state.

Mayor Erin Stewart issued the order effective immediately until June 30.

She said no new hires will be allowed unless they are currently in the civil service process or critical to the health and safety of the city and non-essential overtime must come to an end.

The finance department and mayor’s office will be closely monitoring all purchase orders and she is asking that no new purchases be submitted unless it would create a work stoppage.

Stewart said the Board of Finance and Taxation presented a $245.91 million budget proposal on March 8, which includes an 8.6 percent increase over the current budget, which would require a tax rate of 60.77 mills.

The mayor has been meeting weekly with the city finance department to look for ways to reduce the budget.

“Tough decisions will have to be made in order to craft a budget proposal that our residents can afford,” Stewart said. “While we have made immense progress over the last three years to improve our financial footing, we are beginning to feel the effects of the painful cuts at the state level. The harsh reality is that we must spend only what we bring in. This means that we will look at all areas of city government for spending reductions.”

In a memo to the city departments, she asked the department heads to show what a 5 reduction reduction would look like.

She cited the following as the major increases for the 2016-17:

  • Debt service payments increasing $14.3 million
  • Employee medical insurance increasing $1.87 million
  • Pension contributions increasing $1.15 million

The mayor will present her budget proposal to the Common Council on Wednesday, April 13.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

14 Cases of E.coli Linked to Lebanon Farm: Dept of Health


The state Department of Public Health is investigating 15 confirmed cases of E. coli, including 14 that they said they have linked to a goat farm in Lebanon.

The Department of Health brought in the Centers for Disease Control to investigate the outbreak that state officials said is linked to Oak Leaf Dairy Farm.

The Department of Health and other agencies began to investigate Oak Leaf Dairy Farm after seven people contracted E. coli and investigators have linked 14 of the 15 cases to Oak Leaf Farm, including six children who visited the farm and petted the goats.

The people who have gotten sick are between 1 and 44 years old and two have been diagnosed with Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, which attacks the body's kidneys and is associated with the E. coli infection.

Mark Reynolds, the farm's owner, recently said the outbreak has already started affecting his wholesale business and he had never had E. coli linked to his farm before.

On Monday, officials from DPH, the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, the Uncas Health District and the CDC team are at the Oak Leaf Farm for an onsite investigation. The farm has voluntarily closed to the public and the owners are cooperating with the investigation, according to DPH.

“We received numerous phone calls and emails over the last several days from people who visited Oak Leaf Farm in March. Those calls, both from individuals who may have been sickened and from individuals who’ve had no symptoms, are highly valuable to our ongoing investigation,” DPH Commissioner Raul Pino said in a statement. “I continue to encourage anyone who visited the farm in March and developed symptoms of this illness to contact their physician. Additionally, I ask anyone who visited the farm in March to email or call DPH to let us know when you visited and if you or your family members have experienced any symptoms of E.coli.”

The DPH is asking anyone who visited Oak Leaf Dairy to contact them.

The state Department of Agriculture is asking anyone who bought a goat from Oak Leaf Farm in the past month and has any concerns to contact their livestock veterinarian.

State officials said the number of cases could increase because they are identifying people who were not originally reported.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Help Name Newborn Eaglets


The Washington, D.C., population of eagles has grown in recent weeks, and a new social media campaign will ask people to help name two of them.

DC2 and DC3, the two eaglets recently hatched at the U.S. National Arboretum, were born to eagles known as "Mr. President" and "The First Lady." The American Eagle Foundation, which has been livestreaming the nest activity, is holding a campaign to let fans suggest fitting names for the new duo.

People can submit their suggestion on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtags #dceaglecam and #namethenestlings along with the submission.

Facebook users can visit the American Eagle Foundation's website or the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment's site to share the suggestions using the same hashtags.

Fans are encouraged to suggest names that are gender-neutral or names that can be altered to fit either sex. The sexes of the two eaglets have not been determined.

The final names will be announced April 26.

Photo Credit: American Eagle Foundation

Human Induced Earthquakes Increase


Around 7 million people live in places vulnerable to man-made tremors, according to a first ever report from the U.S. Geological Survey on the hazards of human-induced quakes.

For the first time, the United States Geological Survey is releasing maps that show the potential ground-shaking hazards from human-induced quakes. In the past, maps from USGS only identified tectonic hazards.

According to the USGS, more and more earthquakes are being caused by humans activities, such as waste water injection.

The most significant hazards from induced seismicity are concentrated in six states. Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and Arkansas. Oklahoma and Texas have the largest populations exposed to induced earthquakes, according to the USGS.

The USGS Did You Feel It? website has archived tens of thousands of reports from the public who experienced shaking in those states, including about 1,500 reports of "strong shaking or damage.”

"In the past five years, the USGS has documented high shaking and damage in areas of these six states, mostly from induced earthquakes," said Mark Petersen, chief of the USGS National Seismic Hazard Mapping Project.

Petersen says the purpose is to help people understand the risks.

“In California, people are very aware that they have a problem with earthquakes. This is nothing new for them,” Petersen said.

What is new are maps that now account for the potential of earth movements caused by fracking – and its byproducts such as when the oil industry disposes waste water by pumping it into deep wells.

“In the scientific world, the issue about pumping water underground, and can that trigger an earthquake? That was solved conclusively in the 1960’s,” said Dr. Pat Abbott, professor emeritus of Geology at San Diego State University. “Yes. Humans can trigger earthquakes by pumping water underground.”

Abbott said even though it’s well-known that humans can trigger earthquakes, in individual cases it’s very tricky to say whether an individual quake was caused by humans or whether it was just mother nature.

Still, the risks are great.

“When we talk about how bad a human-triggered earthquake can be, we can go back to China in 2008. The earthquake that killed the panda bears? 87,000 people killed. That earthquake was almost certainly triggered by human activities,” Abbott said, adding it was not triggered by fracking but rather building a dam a half a mile away from an active fault.

Around seven million people live and work in areas that could be affected by earthquakes caused by human activity, according to the report.

"By including human-induced events, our assessment of earthquake hazards has significantly increased in parts of the U.S.," said Petersen. "This research also shows that much more of the nation faces a significant chance of having damaging earthquakes over the next year, whether natural or human-induced."

People living in areas of higher earthquake hazard should learn how to be prepared for earthquakes, and guidance can be found through FEMA’s Ready Campaign. 

Photo Credit: USGS
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