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Simulated School Shooting Controversial in Southington


Controversy is brewing in Southington, after a pro-gun group carried out a simulated school shooting.

Since the Newtown shooting, many have questioned what can be done to better protect children or prevent another mass shooting.

On Sunday, a group gathered at Kings 33 in Southington, to carry out a simulated school shooting to determine whether arming teachers or security staff at schools is a good idea.

"When you want the police, they're five, ten minutes away. The SWAT team could be 20, 40 minutes away," said James Ward, who participated in the event.

Chris Fields hosted the simulation, and said people should be able to protect themselves when they're in danger.

"We're obviously vulnerable walking around. We should be safe. We should feel safe."

Safety aside, some took issue with the timing of the event, and whether it was held too soon after the shooting at Sandy Hook.

"This is such a tragedy of such magnitude, that it's hard to figure out what's right," said Patty Clavet.

Others were uncomfortable with the idea of guns or other violent weapons at schools.

"I think it's very scary that it's come to that point," said Laura Greene.

Even those like Ward who favor increased security around schools questioned whether the simulation was an accurate representation of what could happen if you're armed during a shooting, because in the simulation, people knew what to expect.

"In real life, you're going to be caught a little bit off by the curveball."

A number of lawmakers in Washington are proposing gun control bills in response to the Newtown shooting. However, many opponents argue that we need to look into the benefits of having armed security around schools.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Obama, Clinton Most Admired Again: Poll


Admiration abounds for President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The duo are Americans' most admired man and woman — again — in a Gallup poll.

This is the 11th straight year that Clinton has been the most admired woman, while Obama has topped the list of the most admired men five years in a row.

First Lady Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice were next in line behind Clinton on the list of women.

Former South African President Nelson Mandela, Obama's recent Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney, evangelist Billy Graham, former President George W. Bush and Pope Benedict XVI followed Obama on the list of men.

Clinton has topped the list of the most admired women more than any other woman in the history of Gallup's poll — 17 times going back to her first year as first lady in 1993. She finished second to Mother Teresa in 1995 and 1996 and second to Laura Bush in 2001.

President Dwight Eisenhower ranked the most admired man 12 times, a Gallup record for men, followed by former presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, with eight first-place finishes each.

The USA Today/Gallup poll was conducted from Dec. 19 to 22. The "most admired" question was open-ended, asking Americans to name, without prompting, the man and the woman they most admired living in any part of the world.

Gallup first asked Americans to name their most admired man in 1946 and added the ranking of women two years later.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

3 Hospitalized After Calif. Theme Park Ride Malfunction


Three people were hospitalized Sunday after a stagecoach tipped when a rear wheel came off on a ride at a southern California amusement park.

Before the 1:30 p.m. incident at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, Calif., the park was already under scrutiny for malfunctions of another ride.

On Sunday, the left rear wheel detached from a stagecoach that was carrying 14 passengers, said Jennifer Blazey, a park spokeswoman.

Three passengers were taken to a hospital for minor injuries. Two of the guests have been released from the hospital, the spokeswoman said.

The ride will be closed until further notice, Blazey said.

The park was the focus of scrutiny in September when a brake froze on a thrill ride called WindSeeker. The malfunction prompted the temporary closure of the ride at six Knott’s Berry Farms across the country.

It was the park’s second such incident in as many weeks and the latest in a string of international malfunctions on the Dutch-made ride.

Jets Fire GM, Ryan Stays


The fact that the Jets would be making big changes this offseason was no secret even before the team officially fell out of playoff contention and they didn't try to build up any suspense. 

Jets owner Woody Johnson released a statement a little after 9 a.m. on Monday morning announcing that general manager Mike Tannenbaum would not be returning to the team in 2013. Johnson also announced that Rex Ryan would remain as head coach for a fifth season. 

"This morning, I informed Mike Tannenbaum that he will not return for the 2013 season.  Mike devoted 15 years of service to the Jets, and I want to thank him for his hard work and dedication. Although he helped guide us to two consecutive AFC Championship games, we are not where we want to be, and a new General Manager will be critical to getting this team back on the right track," Johnson said in the statement. "Rex Ryan will remain the Head Coach of our football team.  I believe that he has the passion, the talent, and the drive to successfully lead our team."

The latter part was not particularly surprising. Occasional rumor aside, there was never any real indication that Ryan would be sent packing after his first losing season with the Jets. 

He has certainly been part of the epic butchery of the offense over the last two years, but, honestly, it's kinda remarkable that he was able to get even six wins out of a team with as little talent as the Jets brought to the table in 2012. Give Ryan an offense with a chance to compete and a coordinator capable of putting them in position to succeed (there's been no official word on Tony Sparano's future, but he's got as much chance of returning to the team as Tim Tebow) and then make a judgment on a guy that took you to two AFC title games in his first two seasons. 

Tannenbaum had a hand in that as well, of course, but his fingerprints were all over the disaster that unfolded for the Jets this season. He was the one who extended Mark Sanchez and locked the team into an untenable quarterback situation as a result, he guaranteed money to fading players like Bart Scott that strangled the Jets' cap and he's the one who has drafted very few impact players in the last four years. 

All of those moves have left the Jets terribly short on talent and, more alarmingly, almost devoid of young talent that can provide a core to build around in the coming years. While we have no doubt that Johnson pushed for a win-now, damn the salary cap approach in the last few years, Tannenbaum still deserves to face the blame for failing to implement it in a winning manner. 

The Jets have hired a search firm (the same one that helped place John Schneider in Seattle as general manager few years ago) to help them find Tannenbaum's replacement. We'd push for someone with a strong personnel/scouting background.

As mentioned, Tannenbaum leaves the team with cap issues and a dearth of talent. That's going to require a nimble, creative mind who can patch holes without breaking the bank in much the same way that the Colts did before this season to return to the playoffs after having the worst record in football in 2011. 

Such a turnaround is possible for the Jets (and every other team in the league, for that matter) and it starts on Monday. Welcome to the offseason. 

Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Cleveland Browns Fire Coach, GM: AP Source


A person familiar with the decision says the Cleveland Browns have fired coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert.

Shurmur and Heckert were informed Monday at the team's facility, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not yet announced the moves. The dismissals come one day after the Browns lost their finale 24-10 in Pittsburgh, completing a 5-11 season.

Shurmur went 9-23 in two seasons with the Browns, who have undergone almost constant change since their return to the NFL as an expansion franchise in 1999. Heckert infused Cleveland's roster with talent during three years with the team.

Owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner will try to turn around a franchise that has lost at least 11 games the past five seasons.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Police Interrupt Burglary at West Haven Business


Police arrested a man found taking metal from a West Haven business Saturday.

Officers responded to Aguilera Movers at 34 Hamilton Street around 12:30 a.m. Saturday for a report of a burglary in progress. There they found a man attempting to put a 10-foot steel beam and other metals into his truck.

Officers arrested Brian McMillian, 40, of Hamden. He was charged with larceny and criminal trespass. McMillian is being held on bond, according to police.

Photo Credit: West Haven Police

The Good, Bad and Ugly of the Giants Win


Winning a game 42-7 against one of your rivals is not supposed to result in conflicted emotions. 

It is supposed to result in great excitement and joy for the team and its fans without thoughts of anything other than victory entering the mind. This is not the case for the Giants. 

Sure, thumping the Eagles and showing a little pride in the job that laid before them makes you feel good about the Giants' performance in Week 17. Those good feelings can't erase the massive missed opportunity that is the true epitaph of this season, however. 

Entering Week 15, the Giants held control of the NFC East and merely needed to win out to win the division for the second straight year. They lost 34-0 to the Falcons, though, and were left needing flops by the Cowboys and Eagles to get another chance at that prize. 

Even after that loss, the Giants just had to win two games to assure themselves a playoff berth. They lost 33-14 in Baltimore in Week 16, however, and that meant they needed a ton of help on Sunday even if they beat the Eagles. 

The help never arrived, so the Vikings will go to the playoffs and the Giants will sit at home and watch 12 other teams vie for the Lombardi Trophy they called their own last season. All of that gives rise to just one question: Where was the Week 17 performance over the previous two weeks?

It's all well and good to compliment Tom Coughlin for getting his team to focus on ending with a win instead of their dismal playoff outlook, but you can't do that without delving into why Coughlin's team showed up totally flat in the two previous games.

And that means you can't avoid looking at Coughlin's entire body of work and wonder why he's able to push buttons well enough to win two Super Bowls while also being unable to reach his team in three of the last four seasons. It makes you want to shift the question away from what went wrong this year to what went right last year. 

That's problematic because the answer has nothing to do with the Giants. They had the same record each year, but the failures of others opened a playoff door to the Giants last year that did not exist this time around. 

Whatever changes the Giants make this offseason won't mean a thing if the team doesn't start playing with urgency every week of the season instead of just picking their spots the way they have over the last four years. Relying on the kindness of others isn't a winning way to conduct business because the surest way to make sure you get a ticket to the postseason dance is to earn it on your own merits. 

The Giants didn't do that this year, making for an ugly end to a season that started with so much promise. Here's the rest of the good, bad and ugly from Sunday. 

GOOD: Eli Manning's downturn in play from midseason on is something that should be a great concern for the Giants, but Sunday provided a strong reminder that we aren't dealing with some kind of Jets-level panic about the offense. Manning hit on big plays all day long, didn't make any of the killer decisions that sank him in past weeks and looked like the quarterback the Giants were missing for way too much of the season. 

GOOD: David Wilson and Rueben Randle ended their rookie seasons on high notes, raising hope that they'll take on bigger roles for the team in Year Two. It's a good sign for a team that's going to have to say goodbye to some older players who are no longer reliable because of either health or performance. 

BAD: Hakeem Nicks didn't do a thing on Sunday, ending a frustrating year that might not have happened had the Giants been more cautious with Nicks during the summer as he returned from a broken foot. All over the field, the Giants had players who got hurt, returned and then either got hurt again or remained limited for the rest of the season. Coughlin prides himself on having tough teams, but toughness can come at the expense of prudence.

GOOD: Ahmad Bradshaw's role next year is up in the air thanks to his chronic injuries and Wilson's presence, but he had a pretty vintage performance on Sunday. He ran hard and ran well all day, which would make this a pretty good way to go out as the team's feature back if that's what winds up happening. 

GOOD and BAD: The defensive line looked feistier on Sunday and Justin Tuck was even able to remember his post-sack celebration despite getting almost no chances to practice it this season. All their work provided was a reminder of how awful they were for most of the season, though.

UGLY: The Giants were disappointing, but they didn't make you question why you bother rooting for a football team at all. The Eagles do make you ask those questions and so do the Jets, which makes the Giants seem like champions by comparison.

Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

AAA To Provide Free Rides Home on New Year's Eve

AAA wants to insure that anyone who decides to go out and ring in the New Year with a few cocktails has a safe and sober ride home.
They have partnered with AmRide and Roncari Express Valet Parking for “Arrive Safe,” a program which will provide free rides home to intoxicated drivers on New Year’s Eve.
The “Arrive Safe” program will not only get party goers home safely. The caller will be driven home by a professional driver in their own car.
Anyone who wishes to take advantage of this service can all AAA at 1-800-AAA-HELP to ask for a ride between the hours of 10 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and 3 a.m. on New Year’s Day.
Rides are free of charge up to 10 miles. There is a $2.50 per mile for rides over 10 miles.


2013 Celebrated Around the World

New Year celebrations happened around the world, culminating with the traditional crystal ball drop in New York City's Times Square, where one million people were stuffed into the surrounding streets. Click to see dramatic photos from New York and around the world.

Police Use Facebook to ID Waterford Robbery Suspects


Waterford Police turned to social media to solve a smash and grab robbery Monday, and had arrests made within hours.

According to police, a man and woman smashed a car window at the Dunkin' Donuts on Route 85 sometime between 3 a.m and 4 a.m. on Monday and stole a purse from inside. The couple then drove to Walmart and attempted to buy a TV with a stolen credit card from the purse, police said. They were not able to purchase the TV and left the store.

Waterford Police posted surveillance photos of the couple on its Facebook page around 10:15 a.m. and asked followers to share the photos with the hope that someone would identify the suspects. Within three hours, police had the suspects in custody.

"The subjects have been found, thanks to a watcher of the WPD Facebook page," the Department posted just after 1 p.m. "Good job Facebookers! Thanks for helping WPD fight crime."

The victim of the crime even reached out to those who helped identify the suspects.

"This is awesome how fast it gets around. I might not have my car fixed for awhile but it will be fixed soon an (sic) this scum will be behind bars!!" The victim posted. "Thanks to everyone who found them," she said.

Photo Credit: Waterford Police

Your Complete Guide to Black Monday


There are happier ways to start a new year than finding out you're unemployed, but the NFL schedule makes no concessions for the regular calender. 

The regular season ended on Sunday, which means that NFL teams spent Monday firing underperforming coaches and general managers. They call the day Black Monday and, given the fact that it is New Year's Eve, this one is a little bit blacker than most. 

We'll run through all the major changes here so that you can be sure to know which teams have decided to move in a different direction. We'll do it alphabetically, which means we start out in the desert. 

Arizona Cardinals: Ken Whisenhunt is the most successful coach the Cardinals have ever known, but that wasn't enough to save him after a season that saw the team start four different quarterbacks who were all guilty of being nowhere near good enough to be starters in the NFL. General manager Rod Graves also got the axe as as a result of being the man who handed Whisenhunt those quarterbacks in the first place. 

Buffalo Bills: The Bills gave Chan Gailey his walking papers after a third straight season of double digit losses, a move that's been met with happiness from Bills fans tired of watching Gailey muck around with an offense that needed a lot more C.J. Spiller. Surprisingly, general manager Buddy Nix did not get fired on Monday despite giving Ryan Fitzpatrick one of the worst contract extensions in recent memory.

Chicago Bears: Lovie Smith is done after nine years as the Bears' head coach, a move that seemed inevitable after they missed the playoffs for the fifth time in the last six seasons. Bears players have not reacted well to the move, blaming it on "false fans" and the media instead of their own underachieving. 

Cleveland Browns: The writing was on the wall when the team was sold to Jimmy Haslam earlier this year and it came to pass on Sunday. Coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert are looking for new jobs, continuing the disappointing saga that is the Browns franchise since their re-entry to the league in 1999. 

Jacksonville Jaguars: General manager Gene Smith was axed after years of diminishing returns, including a bust of a first-round pick in quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Head coach Mike Mularkey hasn't been fired, but could get snipped once they have a new G.M. 

Kansas City Chiefs: General manager Scott Pioli somehow survived a 2-14 season while coach Romeo Crennel was told not to bother coming in for the rest of his life. Crennel is one of the best defensive coaches in the game, but he's now failed miserably twice as a head coach.

New York Jets: Rex Ryan survives to bloviate again while general manager Mike Tannenbaum couldn't do the same after a litany of failures that could be boiled down to a three-way quarterback battle between Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow and Greg McElroy. Whoever gets the job next would be advised to try finding one guy who doesn't stink. 

Philadelphia Eagles: Andy Reid's 14-year run as the leader of the Eagles ended as expected on Monday. Reid had a terrific run as the team's coach, something that might get lost in the wake of his miserable final year on the job. 

San Diego Chargers: When the season started, it seemed clear that a losing year for the Chargers would cost coach Norv Turner and G.M. A.J. Smith their jobs. The Chargers had a losing year and both guys are now looking for work. 

Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

Abrupt School Closing Raises Questions


Students at the Sawyer School in Hartford are trying to make a plan after abruptly finding out their school was being shut down.

According to several students at the school, they learned that the school was closing late last week on Facebook. Classes were originally scheduled to begin January 2nd.

It was not only students who were surprised by the sudden closing, but faculty too.

"We have no answers, we haven't been given information," said instructer Don Lanier.

The Sawyer School in Hartford is one of three schools in the state offering occupational training, including a medical assistance program.

The school also has a second campus in Hamden and the Butler Business School in Bridgeport. Over 1,200 students occupy the three campuses.

The Office of Higher Education addressed the abrupt closing in a statement today saying they" received a brief email on December 30, 2012 from Academic Enterprises Inc., stating that the schools have 'suspended' operations.'"

The statement also urges students impacted by the closure to contact the Office of Higher Education for assistance.

"We encourage all impacted students to register with our Office so that we may learn of their status and help answer their questions about finishing their coursework and obtaining potential tuition reimbursements,” said Jane A. Ciarlegio, Executive Director of the Office of Higher Education.

Senator Richard Blumenthal sent out a letter to students of the Butler and Sawyer School assuring them that they will be reimbursed for any tuition they have paid. The letter also stated that the sudden closure, impacting hundreds of students and the federal government, strongly suggests the need for investigation.

Connecticut General Statutes prescribe procedures for schools to follow in the event of closing. Schools are required to notify the Office of Higher Education at least 60 days before closing. The notification gives agency officials time to work with school representatives to assure an orderly transition and cessation of business. Both Butler Business and Sawyer Schools violated this requirement.

Students at the school say they aren't giving up so easily and will do whatever it takes to get answers from the administrators.

"It's not fair that we've reached so far and now are dreams are put on hold," said Sawyer student Olga Diaz.

Diaz was one of many students only weeks away from graduating.

Students told NBC Connecticut that they plan on holding a rally at the Hartford campus on 141 Wednesday at 9 a.m.

Husband Charged in Wilton Shooting


Police have charged a Wilton man in connection with a shooting inside his home in November.

Charles Garcia was arrested Monday.

According to police, Garcia, 47, and his wife were involved in a domestic violence incident inside their Grumman Avenue home on Nov. 26. The two struggled with a rifle when it discharged, striking Garcia in the face. His wife also received facial injuries, but the injuries were not life-threatening.

Wilton police responded to the home after receiving reports of gunshots, and found the woman at a neighbor's house. Garcia was found inside the home with life-threatening injuries. He was taken to Norwalk Hospital where he has spent the last month recovering from his gunshot wound.

Garcia has been charged with first-degree assault and unlawful restraint. He was held on $100,000 bond and was scheduled to be arraigned on Monday.

Photo Credit: Wilton Police/NBC Connecticut

Man Put Cameras in Restrooms at Work, Church: Cops


East Hartford police have arrested a man accused of videotaping women in restrooms at his place of work and his church.

According to police, Darrel Lewis admitted to putting two video cameras in the women's restroom at Peening Technologies. Lewis is employed as a process engineer at the company, which is located at 8 Eastern Park Road in East Hartford.

Lewis also admitted to putting a camera in the women's restroom at his church, the Faith Family Church in Glastonbury, police said. One of his victims at the church was an 11-year-old girl, according to police. Lewis began placing the camera in the church bathroom in 2009, police said.

In all, nine victims were captured on video, according to police.

Investigators said Lewis also told them he put a camera in the women's restroom in a Tim Horton's in Rocky Hill when he worked there.

Photo Credit: East Hartford Police/NBC Connecticut

Amber Alert For Missing Girl Canceled


Police have canceled an Amber Alert for 9-year-old Daisha Rhodes.

Daisha Rhodes and 42-year-old Daniel Candales were located in the parking lot of a Stop and Shop by exit 3 of I-95 in Richmond, Rhode Island.

Richmond Police say that Rhodes is safe and that Stonington police are on their way to retrieve her and reunite her with her family.

They issued the alert around 9 p.m. Monday after the girl went missing in Stonington with 42-year-old Daniel Candales in a silver 2005 Ford F250 with a snow plow and sander.

The relationship between Rhodes and Candales was not clear.

No charges have been filed yet.

Photo Credit: CT State Police

NYC Ushers in 2013

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 1: Fireworks explode at the stroke of midnight in Times Square on January 1, 2013 in New York City. Approximately one million people are expected to ring in the new year in Times Square. (Photo by Monika Graff/Getty Images)

Google Map Provides Window into World's New Year's Resolutions


Google capped its massive year-end Zeitgeist roundup, which catalogued the most-searched items of 2012, with an interactive glimpse at what people around the world were swearing off or resolving to do more of in 2013.

The resolution map mixes Google mapping features with Google translate and invites users (no subscription necessary) to contribute their own goals or peek at what fellow humans are promising themselves as they look ahead to the new year.

The handful of resolutions displayed have remained mostly static since the page launched New Year’s Eve and the translation is less than perfect, but good enough to note some universal trends. Not surprisingly, considering resolutions are made the day after one of the biggest party nights of the year, contributors around the world are looking to get in shape and abandon their destructive habits.

In the U.S., one user wants to go back to being a size 4. In Norway someone's swearing off alcohol, while in Brazil another person is trying to kick sweets.

There are also quirky vows being made: One ambitious internet-user from France wants to cook a recipe from every country in the world. In Yemen, someone wants to smile (presumably more). A Floridian aims to grow a mustache, while a California resident would like to listen to more complete albums on Spotify instead of just hit singles.

Google has provided tips on its blog directing users to a number of apps, videos, tools and lists to help resolution-makers stay on track.

For those aiming to travel more (like the South East Asian contributor who would like to walk the Santiago de Compostela Road in Spain) Google’s blog suggests its flight search tool, hotel finder, and Google Maps.

For those looking to save cash, hone yoga skills, paint, cook or keep track of finances, Google provides other tools and an inspirational video that might make resolutions stick a little longer.


Photo Credit: Google

Sandy Hook Students Return to a New School


Parents and teachers from Sandy Hook Elementary School are getting ready to bring kids back to school for the first time in nearly three weeks.

On Thursday, kids from Sandy Hook Elementary will get back to their routines in the neighboring town of Monroe after a gunman opened fire in the elementary school killing 20 children and six adults.

For parents like David Connors, the idea of sending kids back to school is full of emotions.

“I’m not exactly sure how we are going to react… it’s gonna be hard,” said Connors.

Connors is the father of eight-year-old triplets who all escaped from Sandy Hook on the day of the shooting. In the wake of uncertainty, Connors knows that the kids are ready for everything to go back to normal.

“They wanna see their teachers. They wanna see their classes. They wanna get back into their routine,” said Connors.

In an effort to make the transition a little smoother for students going from Sandy Hook Elementary to their new school in Monroe... school officials have been able to set up the classrooms to look almost identical to the classrooms in sandy Hook. They even set up the students back packs and jackets to look exactly the way they looked on that Friday.

“That’s a really big thing for the kids that their class looks the same… sitting next to same people that they have friends… everything on the walls looks the same,” said Connors.

Woman Finds Hidden Camera in Bathroom at Work


She found a hidden camera in the women’s restroom, and her co-worker is now accused of making secret recordings. East Hartford Police said Darrel Lewis could have dozens of victims in several towns, and the woman who helped put him behind bars spoke exclusively with NBC Connecticut.

“I thought I was dreaming I didn't even know what to do,” the anonymous victim said. She got a big scare at Peening Technologies in East Hartford last Thursday.

“I’m just in complete shock and disbelief. It’s just not anything that I was expecting." She walked into the women’s restroom and found a hidden flip camera.

“When I looked at it, it said it was recording for 25 minutes,” she explained.

Police arrested her co-worker Darrel Lewis for allegedly making the secret recordings. They quickly learned this was just the beginning.

“It's just crazy all of this happened because I found that little camera,” the victim added.

Investigators said Lewis admitted to doing the same thing at Faith Family Church in Glastonbury. He had supposedly targeted churchgoers since 2009, and one was an 11 year old girl.

“It’s sickening I don't even know what to think about it. It makes me sick to my stomach,” the victim added.

The alleged crimes didn’t stop at the church. Court documents showed Lewis told police he recorded women at a few other places and had dozens of videos.

“I feel extremely violated but I feel worse for those other people who went through it longer than I did,” the victim explained.

While the ordeal traumatized her, the victim said she was thankful she made the shocking discovery.

“I’m happy other people are finding out about this and it’s not a secret anymore,” she added.

She was also thankful she stopped Darrel Lewis from potentially violating someone else.

Police searched his home and they were looking through his computer for any videos. Lewis was charged with one count of voyeurism, but that could change depending on the investigation.

Photo Credit: East Hartford Police/NBC Connecticut

One Year Anniversary of Somers Church Fire


People in Somers are still looking for answers about the fire that destroyed a church in the town commons one year ago today.

The initial call came in with reports of smoke in the area of the Somers Congregational Church. Minutes later, the fire escalated.

“In a matter of 45 minutes the whole place was engulfed. I just stood on the street and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. That it was going,” said Somers Police Chief Gary Schiessl.

According to a spokesperson for Connecticut State Police, the cause of the fire is still under investigation and an active case.

But members of the congregation are looking to the future for the historic building. The architecture plans show that when the church is rebuilt, it will have a familiar look. Officials from the church hope that the construction will be finished by next October.

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