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Crash Closed Merritt Parkway Northbound in Greenwich

Police Investigate Armed Robbery at Berlin


Police are looking for the man who robbed a Berlin gas station at gunpoint on Wednesday morning.

The robbery was at the Irving Gas Station at 2005 Berlin Turnpike, close to the Meriden line, and the robber fled on foot, police said.

No one was injured.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Artist Hit Over Nude Trump Drawing


A 24-year-old Southern California artist who painted a portrait of Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump in the nude said she was punched in the face by an attacker who yelled "Trump 2016."

The Los Angeles Police Department was investigating the assault Tuesday, but Illma Gore said the attack wasn't the first she has dealt with since painting Trump in a portrait depicting the GOP front-runner with small genitals.

"I have received threats of violence and people say they were coming to kill me," Gore said.

On Friday, Gore was suddenly confronted by a violent, shirtless stranger in broad daylight. She was walking to an art supply store near La Cienega Boulevard at the time.

"All I could hear was 'Trump 2016,'" Gore said.

A group of men traveling in a black Honda Civic stopped beside her on the sidewalk, according to Gore.

"He got out and punched me in the face and said 'Trump 2016' — then he drove off," Gore said.

Gore went to the LAPD and immediately reported the assault.

"She sustained severe injuries," said Mike Lopez of the LAPD. "We are aware of the incident and we are investigating."

Gore's controversial pastel drawing of a naked Donald Trump — titled "Make America Great Again" — shows the Republican front-runner with small genitals because of how he was "boasting" about his endowment during the March presidential debate, she said.

"I have no regrets. I would do it all over again," Gore said.

But it does make her concerned about free speech.

"I am scared for America, and for the future for myself and for artists," Gore said. "Whoever hit me should take responsibility for their actions as well. It's cowardly not to."

In an interview with police, Gore described the man who hit her as shirtless and wearing a red cap and red shorts. She estimated he was about 25 years old.

The LAPD is looking into whether any surveillance from the area may help lead to an arrest.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV
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Dog Killed, Firefighter Injured in Norwalk Fire


A pet Dachshund died in a fire at a home in Norwalk early Wednesday morning and a firefighter was injured in a fall down the stairs.

Firefighters responded to 13 Dock Road at 12:36 a.m. and found heavy fire coming from the back of the basement.

When firefighters went inside, they found a 13-year-old pet Dachshund dead in an upper level room.

There was heavy smoke throughout the house and one firefighter fell down a flight of stairs and sustained a minor shoulder injury.

The fire caused extensive damage to the basement and there was heavy smoke damage throughout the house.

Firefighters left the scene at 3:09 a.m. and the fire marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.

Photo Credit: Norwalk Fire Department

Crews Responded to Boater in Distress on Connecticut River


Emergency crews responded to the Connecticut River in South Windsor early this morning after a boat got stuck in a sandbar.

Emergency crews received a call for a boater in distress at 1 a.m. and they found the missing boater, but couldn't get to him because of sandbars in the river.

"Trying to get to him was a challenge because of the sandbar, so we actually had to deploy a smaller boat, a Zodiac, and put one of our firefighters in a cold water suit to actually be able to get to him and get him in a boat." Deputy Chief John Hofmann, of the South Windsor Volunteer Fire Department, said.

Officials believe the boater was trying to free the boat and did not fall in the water. They said he was able to walk out on his own.

He was evaluated in an ambulance, but was not transported to the hospital.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Armed Jogger Defends Right to Carry


If you see an armed jogger in Mount Airy, Pennsylvania, these days, it's not a "run-by" in progress.

He's trying to make a point.

James Moody, 49, who lives in the neighborhood and comes from a self-described "firearms family," said he began jogging with a handgun at his hip a couple months ago.

He admits a jogger with a gun in plain view on Vernon Road may be a bit "eye-opening," but Moody, a truck driver and city native who became Pennsylvania's Golden Gloves superheavyweight boxing champion in 1988, said he's doing it to raise awareness about gun rights.

One police officer walking the beat in the 14th District thought it jarring enough to stop Moody mid-run Monday — and the first 15 minutes of the encounter were caught on video shot by Moody's Go-Pro.

In it, which Moody posted to YouTube Tuesday, the officer, who identifies himself as Officer Cave, crosses Vernon Road to ask Moody about the handgun. Cave approaches with a coffee in one hand and asks Moody if he has a license to carry. Moody refuses to answer the officer's questions about a firearms license.

As other officers arrive, they too ask Moody about a license to carry or another form of identification. Cave, a sergeant and two other officers all in turn ask Moody as the group discusses the legality of carrying a firearm in public.

None of the officers nor Moody become angry, but at least one of the officers points to her phone and tells Moody he is not allowed to carry a firearm openly.

In Pennsylvania, Moody argued in the video and then in a subsequent phone interview Tuesday, gun owners with a license to carry firearms are free to "open carry" anywhere in the state — even Philadelphia.

"Clearly, the officers don’t know the laws that Philadelphia is governed by. They had no clue about what is lawful and unlawful," said Moody. "You can, under Title 18 Section 6108, open carry a firearm."

"We also don’t live in a stop-and-identify state. Do they stop everyone in a motor vehicle just because they’re driving? No, you need probable cause," he added. "You have no reason to detain me and question me. It may be a little eye opening, but it is not unlawful."

Moody's video of the encounter ends after about 15 minutes because his Go-Pro battery died, but he said police continued to question him about the gun and why he wouldn't show any identification. He said they handcuffed him briefly, searched him and found his license to carry inside his wallet. He was then let go.

"I love the idea of open carry. It’s our constitutional right. I do it all the time," Moody said. "I don’t see why anyone would impede my right to do so."

An attorney who has wrangled with the city of Philadelphia for decades over citizens' gun rights, Jon Mirowitz, said the law doesn't prohibit Moody from openly carrying his gun.

But, Mirowitz said, everyone, whether you're a cop or a civilian, should adhere to a simple rule: Act civil.

"In this sort of a confrontation, there is nobody that’s right or nobody that’s wrong," Mirowitz said. "Being civil is the key. All the guy has to do is say, 'Here's my ID.' All the cop has to do is say, 'I’m not giving you a hard time. I just want to see some ID.'"

The Philadelphia Police Department did not respond to requests for comment about the incident.

It occurred near April 24 shootings on Vernon Road that left two men dead, including one who had just been talking with a state House candidate. The shootings were related to one another.

Officers in the 14th should take heed: Moody said he doesn't plan to quit armed jogging anytime soon — even if his wife said she isn't happy about it.

"My wife is upset with me now because I put myself at risk," he said. "But I told her freedom isn’t free. I call it my exercising my mind, my body, and my Second Amendment rights."

Police Investigate Reports of Abduction, Robbery at Hartford Auto Shop


Hartford police are investigating reports of an abduction and armed robbery at an automotive shop in Hartford on Tuesday night.

Police responded to M&J Auto, at 241 Ledyard St., in the South Meadows neighborhood, at 10:41 p.m., a time they said the business is usually closed.

The victims told police they were working late when four to five men wearing ski masks and black clothing came in with guns and demanded money, police said.

One of the victims said his father, who had been in the shop with them, was abducted and the intruders took him in a small black Cadillac SUV.

About an hour after police brought the victims to the Hartford Police Department, officers learned the victim's father was on Interstate 91 South, by exit 8, and he was not injured.

Hartford Police then brought the man back to the Hartford Police Department to be interviewed.

Around $200 was reported stolen from the shop, but no cars, tools of electronics taken from the shop.

The investigation is ongoing.

Police said the motive is not clear and detectives are trying to determine why the auto shop, which is in an industrial neighborhood, would by the target of an armed robbery and abduction at that time of night.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

It's Trump's GOP After Cruz Drops Out


Donald Trump became the likely GOP nominee on Tuesday as top rival Senator Ted Cruz withdrew from the race, an outcome that was unthinkable to many just a few months ago. 

"We are going to win again and we are going to win again bigly," a confident Trump declared from Trump Tower in New York.

He will now represent the party of Abraham Lincoln in the general election despite little connection to the party's traditional trio of social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, and national security conservatives, NBC News reported.

The real estate mogul won by tapping into a primal desire among GOP voters for a swaggering populist who would buck orthodoxy on trade, protect entitlements, build a border wall, deport all undocumented immigrants, and implement an "America First" foreign policy. 

Photo Credit: AP

Kenya Reportedly Foils ISIS-Linked Anthrax Attack


Kenyan police said Wednesday they have foiled a "large-scale" biological attack using anthrax by an ISIS-linked terror group, NBC News reported.

Mohammed Abdi Ali, an intern at a hospital in the south of the country, is accused of radicalizing and recruiting university students and other young people into "terrorism networks," Kenya's National Police Service said in a statement.

Ali was arrested under the country's terror laws in connection with the alleged plan, the statement said.

Police added that Ali's wife, Nuseiba Mohammed Haji — a student at Uganda's Kampala International University — and her alleged "accomplice," Fatuma Mohammed Hanshi, were also arrested in Uganda. The statement did not provide further details on their alleged involvement in any plot.

Photo Credit: Kenya National Police Service

Drivers Stop to Rescue Geese on I-84


A mother goose and her babies are safe thanks to the drivers who stopped on Interstate 84 East in Waterbury this morning and guided them to safety.

The rescuers were spotted on traffic cams as they led the geese to the barrier and safely away from cars.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Deparment of Transportation

Small Plane That Crashed in Long Island Linked to Bristol


Three people traveling from South Carolina to Connecticut were killed when the small plane they were in crashed on Long Island on Tuesday. 

The tail number on the plane is registered to a Bristol, Connecticut resident. 

Two men and a woman were on board the single-engine Beech BE35 aircraft when broke up mid-flight on Cold Spring Road in Syosset just after 2:30 p.m., the FAA said. 

The plane took off from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, at 12:45 p.m., and was headed to Robertson Field in Plainville, Connecticut, according to the FAA.

During the flight, the pilot made a distress call over Farmingdale, New York, reporting some type of instrumentation problem -- something to the effect of, "'I have a partial panel loss,'" according to NTSB senior investigator Robert Gretz. 

The plane then disappeared off the radar and broke up in flight, leaving behind a debris field of about two miles. 

"Sometimes the higher up it breaks up, the larger the debris field," Gretz said. 

Recordings between responding police officers and dispatch revealed the sheer amount of wreckage that was scattered on the ground. 

Gretz said it's not clear why the plane broke apart in the sky. 

"It's not a common investigation for us," Gretz said of the plane breaking apart in the sky. "It does happen. In 18 years, I've probably worked five or 10 of them." 

Officials are looking at several factors in the crash, including whether the pilot was caught in bad weather. If the pilot didn't have functioning instrumentation in bad weather, it would be like driving through fog without lights or a dashboard, Gretz said.

Gretz said Nassau, New York police was assisting in the investigation by documenting each piece of plane debris.

A preliminary report is expected to be issued within five to 10 business days, and a final report, including a probable cause, will be issued in about nine to 12 months. 

The FAA will investigate the crash and the National Transportation Safety Board will determine the cause.

Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY

Showery, Cool Weather Continues


The cloudy, cool and wet weather looks to continue for the foreseeable future.

With the continued chance for showers, temperatures will only be in the 50s today.

The chance for showers continues again tomorrow, with highs in the upper 50s.

Organized rain returns Friday to close the workweek. Yet again, temperatures will be stuck in the 50s.

Saturday looks primarily dry, just in time to start the weekend! It will be warmer, with highs in the middle 60s.

Mother's Day looks mostly dry though a cold front will bring a few showers through the state, possibly confined to the morning hours. Not a washout. Highs will be in the lower 60s.

Early next week, dry weather returns and 70 is possible by Tuesday, but it won't last long.

Indications show wave after wave of low pressure next week.

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Police Investigating Untimely Death of Westport Officer


Police are investigating what they called the untimely death of a Westport police officer who was a member of the Newtown Board of Police Commissioners.

Police officers responded to a home on Elizabeth Street in Newtown at 6:42 a.m. for a medical assist and then determined that it was an untimely death.

Police have not identified who died because they are notifying family members, but did say the person was a police officer in Westport and a member of the Newtown Police Department Board of Commissioners.

“On behalf of Chief James Valdero and the Newtown Police Department, this day is a tragic loss for the family, friends and community of Newtown,” a news release from the Newtown Police Department says.

The medical examiner’s office will determine the cause of death.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

New Lake Compounce Roller Coaster Opens Saturday


A new roller coaster will open at Lake Compounce in Bristol on Saturday and 12 people have been chosen to be the first to ride it.

The Phobia Phear Coaster opens at 11 a.m. on May 7 and the first 12 people to get onboard shared their deepest, darkest phobias for the chance to take the inaugual ride. 

Lake Compounce said the rollercoaster, which goes 150 foot into the air, is one of the highest in existence and the tallest in the Northeast.

Photo Credit: Lake Compounce

2 Dead at Texas Transportation Hub


A man recently fired from a Houston-area transportation center returned to his former workplace Wednesday morning with a shotgun, fatally shooting one co-worker and injuring two others before taking his own life, police said.

Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman said the employee, who had been terminated two weeks ago, returned to Knight Transportation's Katy Service Center at about 8:45 a.m. and walked through the front door carrying two guns — a shotgun and a pistol. Police initially said the gunman had been terminated earlier Wednesday.

Witnesses inside the facility told police the man fired a "warning shot" toward an employee break area before moving through the building as if he were looking for someone in particular.

"He parked right outside the building and came straight in," Hickman said. "That we know of, only the shotgun was used."

After gunning down a former co-worker, police said the shooter committed suicide.

The identities of those involved have not been released, but Hickman speculated the victim was the former employee's supervisor.

The surviving victims suffered only minor injuries from shrapnel and were not hospitalized, police said. An officer fell to his knee while entering the building and was taken to the hospital for treatment. No other injuries were reported.

The investigation into the shooting is ongoing and police continue to interview witnesses.

Four schools near the Franz Road service center — Franz Elementary, Morton Ranch Elementary, Morton Ranch Junior High and Morton Ranch High School — were locked down as a precaution Wednesday morning, school officials said. All lockdowns have been lifted.

Phoenix-based Knight Transportation provides nationwide truckload transportation services. At this time the company has not issued a statement.

NBC's Ari Mason contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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How Trump's Rise Is Playing in China


China urged people in the United States to take a rational and objective view of the relationship between the two countries, as Republican front-runner Donald Trump all but-clinched the party's presidential nomination on Tuesday, NBC News reported.

Over the course of his campaign, Trump has repeatedly attacked China, saying its trade policies are "killing" America, its currency devaluations will "suck the blood out" of the United States and this week accused the country of "raping" the States.

Though China's state media has largely avoided responding to Trump's attacks,  it seems the rest of the country may have missed the memo. The South China Morning Post referred to Trump Wednesday as a "brash man with no political experience" while the Global Times called him a "rich narcissist" and a "racist."

The criticism is unlikely to dent Trump's celebrity status in China or deter the legions of fans on social media.

Photo Credit: AP

Rates Dropping for Eversource, UI Customers


Electricity rates are dropping for residents across the state who get service from Eversource and United Illuminating.

As of July 1, rates will go down by around $20.

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority approved the new Generation Service Charge rates on Tuesday and said this will affect residential and business customers who get standard service generation from Eversource Energy and the United Illuminating Company. The new rates go into effect on July 1.

Eversource said the average user will save about $21 per month, based on an electricity usage of 700 kilowatt hours per month.

Eversource's residential generation rate will decrease from 9.555 cents per kilowatt-hour to 6.606 cents/kWh.

UI's residential generation rate will decrease from 10.7358 cents per kilowatt hour to 8.0224 cents, which would save customers who use an average 700 kilowatt hours per month around $19 per month.

“We are very excited to share such positive news with our customers,” Penni Conner, senior vice president and Chief Customer Officer at Eversource, said in a statement. “These are the lowest generation prices in over a decade and are coming at the time of year when customers are increasingly using more energy to cool their homes and businesses.”

The new rates will be in effect through the end of 2016, marking a nearly 20 percent reduction compared to the Eversource summer cycle rates from July to December 31, 2015, according to PURA. UI rates will decrease by 12 percent compared to the 2015 summer cycle.

Around two-thirds of Connecticut’s residential customers receive Standard Service generation from Eversource and UI.

Other residential customers get electricity from licensed electric suppliers, whose rates might be more or less.

You can compare UI and Eversource Standard Service generation rates to licensed suppliers' offers on Connecticut's official generation rate board.

Photo Credit: Shutter Stock

Police Investigating Break-Ins at 2 North Haven Businesses


Police are investigating break-ins and burglaries at two North Haven businesses on Wednesday morning.

Burglars broke into the Stop and Save, at 1895 Hartford Turnpike, at 2:30 a.m. by smashing the front glass window and took the cash register, police said.

Then, at 5 a.m. burglars forced their way through the front door to the Mobil Gas Station, at 88 Quinnipiac Ave., across town.

Anyone with information is asked to call the North Haven Police Department at 203-239-1616.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

City of Hartford Laying Off Around 40 Employees


Around 40 city of Hartford employees are getting layoff notices today, according to Mayor Luke Bronin, and he said they will be in almost every department in the city.

The budget proposal Bronin submitted to the town clerk last month includes 42 layoffs, the elimination of 95 positions and $15.5 million in cuts.

"It's almost every department in the city," Bronin said. "There will be layoffs in almost every department."

Bronin, who is serving his first term as mayor, warned during his State of the City Address that budget cuts would hurt and could eliminate some city services.

"The hardest part of this process is telling somebody that they no longer have a job," Bronin said today. "That weighs on me every day, but we have to get this city on track and we have no choice but to make the kind of cuts that are in the budget that I've recommended."

The employees who are being laid off are not getting severance packages, but will have health care through the end of June and will remain on the payroll for a few weeks, Bronin said.

"We will be doing our best to provide employee assistance, make some resources available to help employees prepare for the job application process and manage that transition, deal with COBRA benefits -- all of those things that can be helpful in a very tough time like this -- but there is no getting around that it's a very difficult, challenging thing for anyone who's affected," Bronin said.

When asked if this is the end of the layoffs or if more are coming, Bronin said his budget includes a large amount of hoped for and anticipated "labor savings" and his office is in negotiations.

"But if we don't get those savings, there will have to be other cuts and there will have to be deep cuts and I think there is no way to make those without even more layoffs," Bronin said.

The latest announcement comes the day after Hartford parents packed a meeting to discuss a $30 million budget gap and learned that layoffs are inevitable.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Guilty of Murdering Va. Student


A jury found Steven Briel guilty Wednesday of first-degree murder, strangulation and abduction in the death of a University of Mary Washington student last year.

Grace Mann, 20, was killed April 17, 2015, at the Fredericksburg, Virginia, home she shared with Briel and two other roommates.

The jury recommended Briel be sentenced to life in prison with an additional 11 years.

Much of the courtroom was in tears during the verdict, and jurors passed tissues to each another.

"All I ever wanted to do was be Grace's dad," Mann's father, Thomas Mann, said in a statement. "I want my daughter back."

"How do I explain to you what we've lost? How do I explan the hole in my arms and the hole in my heart," Melissa Mann, the victim's mother said.

The defense spent the first three days of his murder trial trying to show Briel was insane at the time.

"It's clear something is deeply and disturbingly wrong," defense attorney Mark Gardner said in his closing argument. "How could he be afraid of these young women? It's what most of us would say sounds insane. He's lost his damn mind."

In her closing argument, prosecutor La Bravia Jenkins urged jurors to reject the insanity defense, saying, "To make an excuse is inexcusable ... For a jury to accept that excuse would be dangerous for all of us."

Deliberations began shortly after 5 p.m. and lasted about three hours.

Dueling Diagnoses From Forensic Scientists

Forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Eileen Ryan, testified Wednesday that Briel did not understand the nature, character and consequent of his actions - the definition of insanity.

Ryan said Briel believed Mann had been tasked with killing him and was pumping poisonous gas into his bedroom.

When Mann returned home the day of her death and walked closely by Briel, he believed she was moving in to kill him, so he pushed her away, she fought back, he put his hand over her mouth, she bit him and he strangled her.

"He believed he was incapacitating Grace in self-defense," Ryan said. "He believed in his delusional mind he was about to be killed." 

The prosecution called its own forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Avram Mack, who testified he believes Briel was sane at the time of the attack and does not exhibit signs of schizophrenia.

The most powerful prosecution evidence came at the very end: A jailhouse phone call from Briel to his parents, recorded two weeks after Mann's death. Jurors heard a completely normal-sounding young man chatting and joking with his parents about books and jail food.

Briel's Mother Takes the Stand

Briel's mother, Mary Briel, took the stand for the defense Tuesday to explain her text messages with her son the day Mann was killed.

Mary Briel testified she began to worry about her son in the weeks before Mann’s death. When he sent his parents a rambling, troubling email, Mary Briel testified she thought he might kill himself. He also expressed concerns about his roommates.

His mother recalled a visit home five days before Mann’s death.

"He did mention he felt the girls were going to kill him and make it look like a suicide," she testified.

Steven Briel’s parents urged him to give his roommates notice and move out. The morning of Mann’s death, he confirmed plans with his mother to take the train home, she testified.

That afternoon, he sent a text message saying he was cleaning the house. During the following 30 minutes, Mann was strangled.

Steven Briel then sent another message to his mother, writing, “Hey, made a mess. Someone's at the door knocking. What should I do? Run?" 

She wrote back, "Are you serious? Don't answer.”

A few minutes later she wrote, “What the hell are you on? This is not funny.”

“I know. I'm scared,” he replied.

“Pack your clothes and get to a coffee place until the next train comes. Stat!!!!” Mary Briel texted back. 

She testified Tuesday she did not know what he was scared about at that moment.

He would send her another text, writing, “Hey, I'm in the woods. What should I do?”

“Get to the bus. You still have time,” she wrote back.

When she got home a short time later, she got a message from Fredericksburg police and learned her son was accused of murder.

Grace Mann’s Best Friend Testifies About Confronting Accused Killer 

Before the defense began its case Tuesday, Mann’s roommate Kathryn Erwin testified for the prosecution about confronting Steven Briel, introducing herself as Mann’s best friend.

She testified she received puzzling text messages from Briel as she and another roommate walked home that afternoon.

"I made a mess in Holly's room," texted Briel, referring to roommate Holly Aleksonis. Once the roommates were in the house, Briel emerged from a room.

"He'd sweated through his shirt. He seemed confused,” Erwin testified.

Briel then asked what she would you do if Mann wasn't there anymore.

Erwin testified she demanded to know what was going on, and Briel answered, “Grace came home and was a b---- to me. I slapped her. She bit me. So I strangled her.”

Erwin said she ordered Briel to go upstairs to his room, then she spotted Mann, whose skin was blue. 

Mann’s parents broke into tears as prosecutors played Erwin’s 911 call. She can be heard counting out her CPR compressions -- the number rising higher and higher -- with no response from Mann.

Grace Mann's Roommate Testifies on First Day of Murder Trial 

Aleksonis testified Monday about returning to the home and finding Briel drenched with sweat and speaking very quickly. She testified he stood before a closed bedroom door and said, "Grace and I got in an altercation. She hit me so I had to defend myself ... She bit me. What would you do if she weren't here anymore?'"

Aleksonis opened the door and saw her purple comforter on the floor.

"I pulled the comforter off," Aleksonis testified, "and Grace was there with a plastic bag over her head. I pulled it off and screamed and ran from the room."

As many in the courtroom sobbed, prosecutors played the 911 call from Aleksonis that day. She was so distraught, the dispatcher had trouble getting information until Aleksonis finally shouted, "My roommate strangled her!"

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