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Employee Thought Man Helping Friend Was Robbing Bank


A New Haven man who was trying to help his friend at a bank in Chester was briefly put in handcuffs when police that he was trying to rob the place.

Luis Valentin said he and a friend had stopped at the First Niagara Bank in Chester. He said his friend, who is disabled, needed help to withdraw money.

"Get the deposit slip, fill out the paperwork. We go back out to go through the drive-through because they need to see him, picture ID--whatever. Next thing I know I have two troopers, one at gunpoint, and they throw me on the ground," said Valentin. "I was freaking out. My heart dropped. I thought I was going to get shot."

Valentin explained what was going on to police who were concerned a possible attempted robbery had been reported here.

Valentin thinks an overly cautious clerk was spooked by him wearing a hoodie at one point and was worried he might have been writing a demand note.

Police explained staff at the bank might have reason to be nervous.

Just about three weeks ago, police said Dylan Moore robbed the First Niagara Bank in Chester. A couple of days later police said the First Niagara Bank not far away in Essex was robbed by Travis Gahran.

As for Valentin, he was quickly let go, though a little sore.

While he might not be coming back to this branch, he was able to laugh off the brief mistaken identity.

"Small price to pay for protection, I guess," said Valentin.

In a statement to NBC Connecticut, First Niagara wrote that the staff, in abundance of caution, contacted police after someone came in, did not make contact with anyone, and then quickly left.

The bank said the staff is more cautious because at the same branch on a Monday a man wearing a hoodie tried to get in after hours. The bank said that man is believed by state police to have been involved in a robbery at another bank that day and is still on the loose.

It applauded the bank manager who it said was “following protocol” and made sure that “customer and employee safety is top priority.”

Mother of Slain ECSU Student Speaks Out As Jury Continues Deliberation


It’s been seven days since a jury has been deliberating the case of a Bridgeport man accused of killing and dismembering his girlfriend in 2013.

It’s a familiar process for the victim's mother, Corinna Martin. In 2015, a mistrial was declared in the case of Jermaine Richards who’s alleged to have killed Martin's daughter, Alyssiah Wiley. The jury also deadlocked.

Wiley was found dead in 2013 dismembered in a wooded area in Trumbull.
Her boyfriend Jermaine Richards turned himself in.

Now in 2016, Martin said it has been frustrating waiting through a jury deliberation for a second time.

“It’s just been an excruciating waiting game. You're able to contemplate what’s going through their mind," said Martin.

"I’m not understanding what it is that’s not evident, but I wouldn’t want them to come to a quick decision and it be the wrong one," she said.

Richards has plead not guilty in both trials.

The jury will be back again Thursday to deliberate the case.

Sanders May Be Off DC Ballot After Dem. Party Filing


Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' name is not on the primary ballot in Washington, D.C., after the D.C. Democratic Party submitted registration paperwork a day late and a voter filed a challenge, News4 has learned.

D.C. party officials called the problem a minor administrative dispute.

The Sanders’ campaign, as well as Hillary Clinton's campaign, each submitted registration fees of $2,500 on time earlier this month in advance of the June 14 Democratic primary.

But D.C. Democrats did not email the candidates' registration information to the D.C. Board of Elections until a day after the registration deadline of March 16, News4's Tom Sherwood was first to report on Twitter.

A Democratic voter in D.C. filed a challenge against the Sanders' campaign's registration. No complaint was filed against Clinton's registration.

"We did what D.C. law requires in order to get Bernie on the ballot, and we are confident he will be on the ballot," a Sanders spokesman said in a statement to News4.

Board of Elections rules call for a hearing to be held on the challenge against the inclusion of Sanders on the ballot. The hearing is expected to occur as early as next week, sources said. 

D.C. Democratic Party Chairwoman Anita Bonds said the issue may be resolved through an emergency vote by the D.C. Council, if necessary. The Board of Elections could rule it was an administrative error and correct it. 

A Board of Elections representative could not be reached immediately.

News4's Andrea Swalec contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File

Police Investigating Incident at West Hartford Home

CVS to Sell Narcan in More Pharmacies


CVS Health announced Wednesday that the opiate overdose reversal medication naloxone, commonly known as Narcan, is now available in the company's stores in Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut. No prescription is needed to purchase the medication.

The nasal mist can revive someone suffering a heroin or prescription pill OD. CVS has already been offering naloxone without a doctor’s prescription in stores in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and said that by the end of March, it will operate the naloxone program in 23 states total.

"It's a challenge across America," said Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont, describing the alarming number of deadly opiate overdoses nationwide, which the Centers for Disease Control puts at 78 a day.

In November 2015, Fitchburg, Massachusetts library worker Alfred Rivera described for necn how he helped save a stranger with Narcan in a McDonald's bathroom.

"Checked her pulse; no pulse--she was purple," Rivera recounted last fall. "I thought she was dead, so I said, 'I'm going to give it a try and I hope to God it works.' Within a minute, she started gasping for air. You could hear that gargling noise, so that's when I knew it was getting better."

Through community non-profits, the Vermont Department of Health has been providing free rescue kits to loved ones of people at risk for ODs, calling them a lifeline that could give patients a second chance to work toward recovery from addiction.

Click here for more information on the Vermont Department of Health’s naloxone program.

"You can save a neighbor or family member's life," Shumlin said of naloxone. "For years, we literally let folks who were suffering from opiate addiction die before our eyes when we could have saved them."

At CVS, the medication will be available for $60-90 dollars for two doses, said Tom Davis, the vice president of pharmacy professional practices for CVS.

"There is a patient counseling component that includes holistic information around what to do in the event of an opioid overdose, how to administer the medication, and there's information around other resources available to help the patient," Davis explained, noting CVS pharmacists will be able to demonstrate for customers how to assemble and administer the medication.

While exact numbers are hard to pin down, Gov. Shumlin said he believes naloxone has been used successfully in the state a few hundred times. Shumlin said he hopes more pharmacy chains follow CVS's lead and offer the medication without prescriptions.

"This will be another tool in our toolbox in a very important strategy to combat the opioid crisis," said Dr. Harry Chen, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health.

By the end of 2016, CVS plans to expand its naloxone program to 35 states total, according to a company spokesperson.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Person in Custody After Police Standoff in Prospect


A person was taken into custody after state police responded to Summit Road in Prospect for a report of a disturbance and a person barricaded in a home Wednesday afternoon.

Police said Troop I-Bethany received the report at 1:40 p.m. and witnesses reported seeing police in tactical gear in the neighborhood.

K9 teams were brought to the scene as well, according to state police.

Summit Road was closed at Plank Road, but reopened around 3:45 p.m. after troopers took the person into custody.

Photo Credit: Raymond Rogers

Police Investigate Sexting Incident at West Hartford School


West Hartford police are investigating what they are calling a sexting incident at Sedgwick Middle School.

The people involved are juveniles, according to police, and they said it might also be connected to Conard High School.

According to a letter sent out to parents, the incident involved one student and happened outside of school. 

"As a parent, I would ask you to please explain to your children that rumors can be hurtful," Andrew Clapsaddle, the school's principal said.

Clapsaddle's full statement can be found below: 

Hello SMS Families,

Today, there was a news organization that reported an incident at Sedgwick middle school. While I cannot share any specific information, the incident occurred outside of school and involved one student. An officer from the West Hartford Police Department was called to make sure that the child was protected and to answer any parental questions. Please know that student safety is our highest priority and we take the responsibility for the safe behavior of all of our students very seriously. As a parent, I would ask you to please explain to your children that rumors can be hurtful, and it is everyone's responsibility to respect one another. Thank you for your help and please feel free to call me with any questions.

Andrew Clapsaddle

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

WATCH: Officer, Girl Play Hopscotch


Video of a Southern California police officer playing hopscotch with a homeless girl while a fellow officer tries to find housing for the child and her mother has earned thousands of views and heaps of praise.

Police found the 11-year-old and her mother living out of a car while investigating the report of a suspicious vehicle at Graham Street and Edinger Avenue in Huntington Beach, authorities said.

While Officer Scott Marsh spoke with the mother and contacted the department's Homeless Task Force, Officer Zach Pricer tried to make the girl's morning a bit brighter.

Pricer distracted the girl by playing hopscotch while Marsh and the mother discussed "adult problems," according to the Huntington Beach Police Department, which posted video of the game Wednesday.

The girl is seen giggling as Pricer jumps through the pattern, at one point losing his balance. Pricer ends the game with a high-five "after displaying his expertise in hopscotch," the department wrote on Facebook. 

The video and post — which ends with the hashtag #Copslovehopscotch — had received more than 312,000 views by Thursday morning.

"Officers interacting with the public in a positive way brings a lot of positive attention," said Huntington Beach Police Department spokeswoman Jennifer Marlatt.

"It shows the personal side of the PD," she added.

Photo Credit: Huntington Beach PD

8-Year-Old Shooting Victim Speaks


Doctors say it is a miracle 8-year-old Joshua Brathwaite is alive.

The second-grade student was rushed to a hospital last week after he was hit by a stray bullet during a shooting outside his home in Concord, California. The bullet is still lodged in the boy's neck.

"I am happy to be home because I want to see my brothers," Joshua said in an interview with NBC Bay Area.

After spending three days in the hospital, Joshua is back home doing what he missed the most: playing with his brothers.

"They are supposed to play and ride their bikes and have fun, play video games and do things that he likes to do," said his father, Joshua Brathwaite Sr. "Not sit in the hospital with a bullet in his neck."

Last Friday — the day after his eighth birthday — Joshua was standing outside his house when police said family friend James Jarrard started shooting at another person.

"I didn't know what kind of gun, but he just pulled it out," the boy recalled.

Joshua's father said the bullet ricocheted off the ground and struck the boy's neck.

"I just felt something hurting," Joshua said.

His mother, Sarah Barela, said Joshua clutched his neck and told her he was in pain.

Barela said Jarrard then fled the area.

"It made me so angry — just, you need to come back," Barela said. "Just help me. You just shot my child. Help me."

Joshua returned home from the hospital Monday, the same day someone spotted Jarrard in a Fairfield parking lot. While trying to escape police, the suspect was shot in the neck.

"Now he has a bullet in the exact same spot he shot my son," Barela said.

Doctors said they will eventually have to remove the bullet from Joshua's neck, but for now the boy has made a full recovery.

Meanwhile, Jarrard is in stable condition and will be booked into the Solano County Jail once he is released from the hospital.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

China Unveils Plan for $50-Trillion Global Electricity Network


China has unveiled a proposal for a $50-trillion global electricity network that would help combat pollution and the effects of climate change, NBC News reported.

The plan envisions linking existing and future solar farms, wind turbines and electricity plants in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas, according to the head of State Grid Corporation of China.

The proposal is in its initial stages and would require huge investment from around the world. If it goes ahead, it would be the world's largest infrastructure project. According to backers, the network could be operational by 2050. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images

McDonald Officer Hired by Union


Protests are expected Thursday after news broke that the Chicago police officer charged in the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald has been hired by the police union as a janitor and "jack-of-all-trades."

Officer Jason Van Dyke now makes $12 an hour at the Fraternal Order of Police hall in the city’s West Loop, union president Dean Angelo told the Chicago Sun-Times Wednesday evening.

In a statement Thursday, the union said it reached a decision "weeks ago" to "assist the Van Dyke family."

"Due to the notoriety of the incident, the on-going threats of harm and intimidation and other issues caused him to become completely unemployable," Angelo said in a statement. "Furthermore, after several threats against the safety of his spouse and her clients his wife was forced to shut down her family-run business; resulting in zero household income."

Angelo added that it is not the first time the union has hired officers "forced into a no pay status" and said the decision was based on the "sustenance needs of a police officer and his family."

"For anyone to believe that the Lodge entered into this arrangement without consideration and forethought is improper and short sighted," the statement read. "Accuracy under these circumstances is paramount to truly grasping the significance to the decision made."

Over the past several months, Van Dyke has appeared in court numerous times to face a judge on first-degree murder charges stemming from the October 2014 shooting. Van Dyke is accused of firing 16 shots at McDonald, who was seen on surveillance video walking away from police.

Van Dyke has pleaded not guilty and his attorney has requested a change of venue, arguing it's impossible for his client to have a fair trial in Cook County.

Already there has been heavy pushback against Van Dyke's new role. Father Michael Pfleger, a Roman Catholic priest and social activist, took to Facebook late Wednesday after news of the hiring broke. His heated post calling the move a "disgrace" and arguing that every union member should demand he be fired garnered more than 1,000 shares in just 10 hours.

"The Police Union says to Chicago...we don't give a damn what he did, what you think, he is one of ours, and we are going to take care of him," he wrote.

Other activists followed suit, planning demonstrations for outside the FOP at both noon and 6:30 p.m. 

"Officers under that uniform are regular people," activist Ja'mal Green said at the noon protest. "If I killed someone, I wouldn't get bail, I wouldn't get bail. If I killed someone I don't have a union to make sure that I'm employed."

Some groups called for Van Dyke to be fired immediately and for the union to issue an apology.

"Chicago’s going to get tired of doing these marches and being peaceful," Green said. "We have been peaceful over the last four months, we have made statement and we have made change but at the end of the day the residents are tired of these types of decisions, getting slapped in the face."

Soon after, protesters were seen trying to enter the FOP office, but a line of police officers blocked the entrance.  

"The F.O.P. just declared war with the people of Chicago," wrote Jedidiah Brown. "The ultimate slap in the face is to hire a man who shot a child sixteen times."

Prosecutor Bill Delaney had asked that Van Dyke remain held without bond on Nov. 30, 2015, but the judge rejected that, saying everyone is presumed innocent. He set Van Dyke’s bail at $1.5 million. Five hours later, Van Dyke posted bond and walked out of jail.

Van Dyke is currently stripped of his police powers and is on unpaid status. His new job is considered to be at a level slightly higher than that of a typical security guard, according to the Sun-Times.

"He might be on the roof, he might be in the office, he does anything we need," Angelo told the newspaper, adding that the hiring of Van Dyke is not an unprecedented move.

"We’ve probably had 100 people in no-pay status who we got jobs or hired at the hall," he told the Sun-Times. "This is nothing new."

In an interview with The Associated Press, Angelo said Van Dyke's suspension has been a "very difficult situation, financially" for the husband and father, adding that the union would do the same for any CPD officer.

Van Dyke had been turned down for all other jobs, Angelo said, and his wife's business had to close its doors due to an onslaught of threats against the officer and his family.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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Metro-North Schedule Changes Go Into Effect on Sunday


Metro-North will be operating on a new timetable as of Sunday.

On weekdays, schedules for 12 morning peak trains and five evening peak trains on the New Haven line will be adjusted by one to three minutes in an effort to improve performance.

They said the evening changes will be to relieve congestion at Stamford around 7 p.m.

During weekdays on the Waterbury Branch, The Devon Transfer returns to service to accommodate repairs on the Devon movable bridge.

Southbound customers who usually transfer to main line trains at Bridgeport will instead get off at the new Devon Transfer location, customers who travel to New Haven will transfer again at Bridgeport for a main line train to New Haven and northbound customers will be dropped off main line trains at the Devon Transfer and board a waiting train for Waterbury.

Metro-North said it is making the changes after looking at peak trains with the highest ridership that lost time en route to their destination due to longer dwell times at stations, temporary speed restrictions, track changes for track outages or the cascading impact of other late trains.

Additional changes:

On the Hudson Line

On weekdays:

  • The 5:35 a.m. rain from Poughkeepsie to Grand Central will depart two minutes earlier at 5:33 p.m. 
  • Arrival times of the 4:54 p.m. train from Grand Central to Croton-Harmon will be adjusted one to two minutes later from Morris Heights to Harmon.

On Weekends:

  • With so many of you heading to Manitou and Breakneck Ridge stations to hike, we've experienced longer "dwell times" at these stations of up to 10 minutes. To accommodate all of you nature lovers, we are adding three additional round trips to these stops.

On the Harlem Line

On weekdays:

  • Eight AM Peak trains will be adjusted by two to four minutes to improve performance.
  • All four PM Peak Wassaic through trains have intermediate times adjusted by 1-2 minutes to improve performance at intermediate stations; Wassaic arrival times remain the same.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Belgium to Extradite Paris Attacks Suspect to France


Belgian authorities on Thursday authorized the transfer of Paris attacks suspect Salah Abdeslam to France, NBC News reported. 

Abdeslam's attorney said earlier on Thursday that Abdeslam had dropped his initial objection to being extradited and renewed an offer to cooperate with the French authorities.

Abdeslam was arrested March 18, four months after the Nov. 13 Paris attacks that killed 130 people. He answered some investigators' questions but then exercised his right to silence following the suicide bombings in Brussels on March 22.

Photo Credit: AP; Inset: DSK / AFP via Getty Images

Jury Awards $500,000 to Patient After Botched Procedure


A Superior Court jury has awarded $500,000 to a woman who had to undergo a hysterectomy at the age of 40 after a botched procedure, according to the law firm representing her.

The patient, Johnna Hunt, was in for a hysteroscopy dilation and curettage on March 25, 2011, but the doctor made an improper cut into her uterus, causing her to hemorrhage, then sent her home after finishing the procedure without telling her what happened, according to Faxon Law Group.

Hunt was later admitted to a local hospital, where doctors discovered the other doctor’s mistake and performed a hysterectomy, according to the law firm.

“These past five years have not been easy ones for my client,” Timothy P. Pothin, of Faxon Law Group in New Haven, said. “This doctor is very fortunate that his careless mistake did not kill her. Johnna and her husband, Steven, are grateful to the jury for holding him accountable.”

The law first said that, despite the difficult physical and emotional situation, Hunt has maintained an excellent reputation in the Naugatuck School system and was named Connecticut Middle School Principal of the Year in 2014.

April Snow Rare but Not Unheard Of


It has snowed many times in April over the last 112 years, but snow this late in the season is considered rare.

First Alert meteorologists dug through the records and calculated some interesting stats regarding late-season snowfall.

For the purposes of these fun facts, "late season" means on or after April 1.

Late-season measurable snow has been recorded 104 times since 1905.

Measurable snow is any amount at or above a tenth of an inch.

Of those 104 occurrences of late-season snow, 43 were one inch or more.

The most recent late-season bout of measurable snow occurred two years ago, back on April 16, 2014.

Other recent years with measurable snow after April 1 include 2011 and 2006.

The most recent late-season inch or more of snow fell in 2011, with 2006 also making the list.

While it can snow in May, that hasn't happened since 1977 – when almost a foot of snow fell in the northwest hills.

Shelton Family Wins HGTV Dream Home


The chances of winning the HGTV dream home are one in 127 million, but that was enough for a Shelton family.

HGTV recently surprised David Rennie and his wife Margaret at their church and revealed they won the house in Merrit Island, Florida, along with $250,000, a boat and a 2016 GMC Acadia Denali.

David Rennie, a father of two, was diagnosed with End Stage Renal Disease and told HGTV he thought he won the lottery when he received a new kidney, according to HGTV.

“I thought I won the lottery with the kidney. That was life changing, but so is this. We just never thought it could get any better,” he said, according to the HGTV Web site.

After watching the show and seeing it built, the family is now looking forward to seeing it in person.

See photos of the family being surprised.

Take a virtual tour of the house here.

Photo Credit: HGTV

State Lawmakers Consider Tax on Portion of Yale’s Endowment


At $25.6 billion, Yale University’s endowment ranks second only to its rival in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Connecticut lawmakers are considering a bill that would tax unspent earnings of a university endowment greater than $10 billion.

“Yale, of course, is unique in Connecticut in terms of the resources it has,” State Senator Martin Looney (D-New Haven) said. “It is a major taxpayer, but it also owns a lot of tax-exempt property and has seen huge gains in its endowment over the years.”

While Yale is the only school in Connecticut that would qualify, Sen. Looney said the goal is to encourage Yale to do more to stimulate the state’s economy.

“We’d be pleased if the bill didn’t even result in an additional penny of tax revenue,” he said. “If it did spur that additional spending in investment out of that very large endowment.”

A Wall Street Journal opinion piece argued that if passed, this legislation would set a terrible precedent.

“The state is in a deficit and I feel they need to tax this business as well,” Brelin Patterson ,of New Haven, said.

Patterson said he thinks Yale should pay more taxes like small businesses, but the money shouldn’t come from its endowment.

“If they’re not going to tax community businesses and churches for any donations, I don’t feel that they should tax Yale for their donations,” Patterson said.

NBC Connecticut reached out several times to Yale’s Public Affairs Office, but did not receive a response.

Part of the school’s endowment does fund financial aid that allows students from families earning less than $65,000 to attend the school for free.

Just yesterday, Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, invited Yale to move to the Sunshine State because of this proposal.

State lawmakers are considering a second bill to re-write regulations for taxing university properties. http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/New-Haven-Officials-Back-Bill-to-Update-Tax-Law-for-Universities-372173022.html.

Gov. Dannel Malloy, a Democrat, has pledged no new taxes as the state deals with the budget deficit.

Photo Credit: File -- Bloomberg via Getty Images

Mississippi Senate Passes 'Religious Liberty' Bill


The Mississippi Senate voted Wednesday evening to pass a religious freedom bill called the “Protecting Freedom of Conscience From Government Discrimination Act.”

The legislation says business, social workers and public employees cannot be punished for denying services based on the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman, and protects individuals who believe gender is determined at birth, according to NBC News.

Supporters say the bill protects the civil liberties of Mississippi residents from government interference, while those opposed believe it stains the state’s reputation. The governor told NBC station WLBT last week that he didn’t believe it was discriminatory.

The Senate voted 31-17 to pass the bill. and heads to the House before the legislation goes to the governor’s desk. 

Photo Credit: AP

Condoms, Sodas and Snacks: Amazon Expands Dash Button Program


You can now dash for condoms on Amazon.

One year after the company unveiled its Amazon Dash Buttons, which allow customers to order goods with the push of a physical button, the company announced Thursday it is expanding the number of products available through the program.

Dash Buttons are small, Internet-connected devices that consumers can click to purchase household essentials. When a customer sees supplies running low, they simply press a Dash Button to place an order, never having to worry about running out of coffee, garbage bags or toilet paper.

Initially launched on March 31, 2015, with a handful of companies, many thought the program was a prank because of the proximity to April Fool's Day. But Amazon Dash now has over 100 buttons, representing top-name brands across dozens of retail categories and thousands of products. Whether supply is low on Trojan condoms, your Vichy moisturizer or snacks for the kids, Amazon Dash has a button for that.

Daniel Rausch, Director of Amazon Dash, said in the company's press release that orders for Dash have grown more than 75 percent in the last three months and "customers are using Dash Buttons more than once a minute."

"We’re thrilled with the positive response we’ve seen for Dash Buttons—and we heard loud and clear from customers that they wanted more brands, more categories, and more products in the program," Rausch added.

Dash buttons are available to Amazon Prime members in the U.S. essentially for free. Customers have to pay $4.99 upfront for each one, but that payment is then reimbursed after the first purchase using the button. The products are sent via Prime's free two-day shipping option. 

Photo Credit: Amazon.com

US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Endorses McCain


The president of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has endorsed Sen. John McCain for Senate re-election, NBC News reports.

In a statement, chamber president Javier Palomarez said McCain served the state “with nobility and undeniable zeal.”

"I am honored to receive the endorsement of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce ... Hispanic businesses are vital to Arizona's economy and add to the cultural fabric of our state," McCain said in a statement.

The endorsement is significant because of Arizona’s history of immigration crackdowns and their effect on Latinos in the state. The eligible Latino voter base in Arizona is 21.5 percent. 

McCain faces a primary challenger from the far right, state Sen. Kelli Ward, as well as business owner Alex Meluskey.

Photo Credit: AP
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