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Man Who Shot Into Meriden Mosque Sentenced to 6 Months


Ted Hakey Jr., a 48-year-old U.S. Marine, has been sentenced to six months in prison for firing gunshots into an empty Meriden mosque in the early morning hours of Nov. 14, 2015, the day after the Paris terror attacks.

The Baitul Aman Mosque was empty when Hakey fired four shots into it with a high-powered rifle, according to authorities. Hakey later said he had been drinking alcohol on that November evening and was frightened of a religion that he knew nothing about.

"Your conduct strikes at values we Americans have held dear for centuries," Judge Michael Shae said during sentencing on Friday.

Following the incident, Hakey apologized to members of the mosque.

On Friday, he told the judge he went into "Marine Corps protection mode" after drinking and remembers deciding, ""If I fire some shots it'll scare any terrorists," he said.

He added that he genuinely admires the Ahmadiyya community and will continue to work against anti-Muslim rhetoric.

The case against Hakey was based on ballistic evidence, as well as Hakey’s social media posts showing anti-Muslim sentiment, prosecutors said.

Court documents show that after learning about the Paris attacks, Hakey posted on Facebook, “What is gonna be the breaking point to go “weapons free” against Islam?”

Hakey pleaded guilty to intentional destruction of religious property with a dangerous weapon. As part of a plea deal, he forfeits the rifle, which was already confiscated, and he must pay $5,130 in damages to the mosque.

Hakey was sentenced on Friday to six months in prison, minus the three weeks of time he has served. Once he is released from prison, he will be on supervised release for three years.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Therapy Dogs Meet Orlando Victims, Family Members


A dozen therapy dogs from around the country arrived in Orlando, Florida, earlier this week to comfort the grieving community shaken by the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

The Trinity Lutheran Church in downtown Orlando, in coordination with Lutheran Church Charities, a Chicago-based nonprofit, flew the animals and their handlers to the city Tuesday afternoon.

The 12 golden retrievers have met with thousands of community members including survivors of the Orlando nightclub rampage, family members and first responders. 

Some of the 53 people wounded in the shooting visited with the pups at an intensive care unit on Wednesday.

Photo Credit: Lutheran Church Charities
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Man Charged in Connection With Arson After Hamden Murder


A Hamden man has been arrested in connection with the fire that was set after a woman was murdered in her home the day after Christmas last year.

Jennifer Antonier, 45, was found dead after a fire at 28 Lilac Ave. in Hamden just before 1:30 a.m. on Dec. 26.

Her neck and arm were cut and she had a blunt force injury and the medical examiner determined her death was a homicide.

Jerome Dixon, 36, of Hamden, is accused of being involved in the fire at the home and he was arrested on Thursday at Meriden Superior Court.

He has been charged with conspiracy to commit arson in the second degree and conspiracy to tamper with evidence.

Dixon was being held on $150,000 bond and it’s not clear if he has an attorney.

This is the second arrest in the case.

Benjamin Carpenter, 26, of Hamden, has been charged with murder, arson in the first degree, tampering with evidence and conspiracy charges. 

He is being held on $1 million bond and is due in court on June 29.

Police said Antonier and Carpenter knew each other, but did not elaborate on how.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Access Health CT Web Site Is Down


The state’s healthcare exchange will be down for on Friday into Saturday because of system issues.

Jim Wadleigh, CEO of Access Health CT, said on Friday that the consumer portal and the AHCT Website are unavailable and there are system connectivity and performance issues.

The Access Health CT team, Deloitte, the state Department of Administrative Services Bureau of Enterprise Systems and Technology and IBM are working to resolve the issue.

“We will continue to monitor the situation in an effort to limit the impact to users and customers,” Wadleigh said in a statement. “We appreciate your patience and we will send an update as soon as the issues are resolved."

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Multiple Car Break-Ins Reported in Killingworth


There's been reports of multiple break-ins in the Killingworth area, police said. 

Police responded to the Roast Meat Hill Road and Warwickshire area on the morning of June 17 to investigate multiple cars that had been burglarized.

No cars were damanged in order for the suspects to gain access and victims said items in the car were moved around. Police said money was taken, while electronics, tools and other valuables were left behind. 

Anyone with information is asked to call state police at (860) 399-2100.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Pregnant Women in Puerto Rico at Risk for Zika: CDC


The zika virus is spreading quickly in Puerto Rico, meaning hundreds of babies could be born with birth defects, NBC News reports. 

More than 1 percent of all Puerto Rico blood donations tested in early June tested positive for the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

"In coming months, it is possible that thousands of pregnant women in Puerto Rico will catch Zika," CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden said at a briefing for reporters. "This could lead to dozens or hundreds of infants being born with microcephaly in the coming year." 

The CDC began testing for Zika in Puerto Rico in April. Health officials confirmed more than 1,700 infections in the territory so far this year. Any blood donations that test positive for the virus are thrown out.

Photo Credit: AP

Sex Offender in Willimantic Charged With Assaulting Child


A registered sex offender in Willimantic was arrested on two separate warrants, police said. 

For the first warrant, Michael McCurdy, 47, is accused of second-degree unlawful restraint and breach of peace with a bond set at $15,000.

The second warrant charges McCurdy with first-degree sexual assault to a victim under 13 years old, risk of injury to a child (sexual) and risk of injury to a child (non-sexual) with a bond set at $100,000. 

In 2003, McCurdy was convicted for second-degree sexual assault to a minor under the age of 16 years old, according to Connecticut's sex offender registry.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Sex Offender's List

Suspect in Threat That Closed Schools in Ansonia Pleas Not Guilty


The suspect in the Ansonia High School threat that prompted school officials to issue a lock-in at all Ansonia schools on May 23 has plead not guilty to three charges on Friday.

Police arrested GianCarlos Diaz, 19, of Ansonia, and charged him with first-degree threatening, second-degree threatening and second-degree breach of peace. Police said he is a senior at the high school.

Diaz plead not guilty to all three charges.

Police said the threat was posted on the After School App and might have been directed at the Ansonia High School students.

In addition to the lock-in and a day of missed classes, police were stationed at all of the schools in Ansonia for the three days leading up to the Memorial Day Weekend.

Diaz will appear in court again on Aug. 5. 

Photo Credit: Ansonia Police

Sanders Backers Keeping Eye on Clinton's College-Ed Plans


Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign has now slowed to a halt, but that isn't to say his run was for nothing. The candidate may be best remembered for his ability to shake up the election, inspire young voters and bring attention to back-burner issues — like higher education, NBC News reports.

Sanders drew considerable support from young voters with his promises of free tuition at public four year colleges and universities, a plan that Tax Policy Center said would cost $800 billion over 10 years.

And many of his young supporters say college affordability is the issue keeping them from embracing presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

What Clinton has proposed is a debt-free model where students will still pay for the fees associated with college — and ensuring higher education institutions maintain affordable costs — without having to borrow money. Clinton also called for allowing those with student loans to refinance at today's rates.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Hacker Floods ISIS Twitter Accounts With LGBT Messages


A hacker associated with Anonymous has gained control of what had been pro-ISIS Twitter accounts, according to NBC News. 

The hacker, who goes by the name WauchulaGhost, took control of the accounts and flooded them with gay porn and rainbow flags and sent fake “coming out” tweets after suggestions that the mass shooting in Orlando was inspired by ISIS. 

"These attacks are getting too close to home," the hacker, who didn't share any identifying information, told NBC News in an email interview. "Social media isn't doing enough to keep this virus off the internet. It was just a little something to let all know there are people here willing to stand up and defend those who can not."

WauchulaGhost told NBC News that it takes about 60 seconds to hack into a Twitter account.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images

Road Crew Gets Squiggly With It in Southington


Drivers in Southington are riding the wave. 

The stretch of Pleasant Street near Mackintosh Way sports wavy yellow lines.  

The paint went down earlier this week and some drivers thought it was a mirage from the heat on the pavement.

"I thought it was just the sun hitting it and making the road look wavy. But it's still wavy. Yeah it's still wavy," said Monica Perez of Southington. 

The town said they are aware of the paint job but it's not clear what, if any, action will be taken to fix the double yellow lines. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Route 6 Closed in Andover Following Crash, LifeStar Requested


Route 6 in Andover is shut down following a crash, police said.

The crash happened on Route 6 near Bailey Road. 

Injuries have been reported but the details are not clear. 

LifeStar has transported one person to Hartford Hospital. 

There were no other details immediately available. 

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Dump Trump Campaign at GOP Convention Emerges


Anti-Donald Trump forces are launching a "multi-pronged" approach to stop the presumptive nominee at the Republican National Convention, which could lead to chaos on the floor, NBC News reported.

Kendal Unruh, a Colorado delegate, is the leader of the effort, which centers around changing convention rules to include a "conscience clause" that would allow delegates bound to Trump to vote against him -- even on the first ballot in July.

According to Unruh, there's been growing interest in her proposal since last week, and many delegates she's hearing from already believe they aren't bound under RNC rules to back Trump.

Trump's strategists involved with delegate operations have downplayed the prospect, with one adviser telling NBC News they believe they have the "overwhelming majority" of delegates on the Rules Committee supporting Trump.

Photo Credit: AP

Senator Murphy Returns to Connecticut, Fights for Votes


More than 36 hours after the ninth longest filibuster in U.S. Senate history, Senator Chris Murphy returned to Connecticut to attend a vigil in Torrington for the sole victim of the Orlando nightclub shooting from Connecticut.

"It pains me that I’m going to another vigil and I’m sure there will be lots more," Murphy said as he arrived at Bradley International Airport.

During the Senate delay started by Murphy, he said negotiations took place with Senate Republican leaders who hold the majority to schedule votes on measures aimed at expanding background checks and barring anyone on a terror watch list from purchasing guns.

According to the New York Times, some senators are expecting a party-line vote on the measures, slated for votes next Monday.

Murphy said he's not sold that the amendments and bills are dead before they even reach the Senate floor.

"I just don’t buy this defeatist attitude that just because this is a controversial issue we should stop working on it, that we should stop voting on it," he said.

"The fact is every great change movement has had a lot of obstacles and have occasionally had a lot of failures along the way, but to the people who say that you shouldn’t even try, you shouldn’t even have a debate because there are a lot of people opposed to what you’re doing, that’s ridiculous. You can’t give up.”

Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, sharply responded to the filibuster that at one point or another included 40 different senators. He said the effort is an unvarnished effort at restricting gun rights.

"We shouldn’t be engaging in a side show of gun control," Cruz said. "It wasn’t the NRA who set up pressure cookers in the Boston bombing. It wasn’t the NRA who murder 14 innocent soldiers in Fort Hood—and it is offensive to play a political game."

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Electrical Malfunction May Be to Blame for Shooting Scare at Meriden Mall


Meriden police are still investigating the unfounded reports of a shooting at the Westfield-Meriden Mall on Thursday night.

Police still want to talk with the woman who alerted a store employee someone was shooting and investigators are trying to figure out if the shopper may have mistaken an electrical malfunction, confirmed by Eversource, for the sound of gunshots.

“A gear or switch malfunction that can cause loud banging when that does malfunction,” Meriden Mayor Kevin Scarpati said. “There is uncertainty at this point as to whether they are directly related.”

Westfield Meriden released a statement to NBC Connecticut Friday afternoon saying:

"The safety of customers, employees and property is always a top priority for Westfield. Out of an abundance of caution following the notification of a possible gunshots heard on property yesterday evening, Westfield Meriden fully cooperated with local law enforcement to implement precautionary measures in investigating this report, which has since been confirmed as unfounded. We thank local law enforcement and city officials for their cooperation, and recommend that you contact the Meriden Police Department to receive the most current and accurate information regarding this incident."

While, the mall in Meriden reopened Friday morning, Kristal Martinez said she is very concerned about this false alarm close to her home.

“I used to go there with my kids,” she said. “I don’t even want to go there anymore.”

Martinez said a friend of hers was shopping when the panic started to spread inside the mall and on social media.

“She said everybody was running, screaming, it was crazy,” Martinez said.

A Westfield-Meriden spokesperson said the mall’s security includes uniformed and plain clothed security, foot and vehicle patrols, electronic surveillance and their staff works with local and regional law enforcement.

“This isn’t solely something that can happen in Orlando, this isn’t solely something that can happen in Newtown,” Mayor Scarpati said. “This can happen anywhere.”

The mayor says he is satisfied with the response from his city’s first responders.

“Meriden was ready,” he said.

“Meriden is well equipped and well trained to handle something like this,” adding the SWAT team responded right away as they wrapped up a training exercise.

From evacuation drills to active shooter training exercises, preparing for a worst case scenario is now a top of mind issue for both first responders and mall officials.

“This is a ballistic vest, it’s not quite to the level a police officer would use,” said West Hartford Assistant Fire Chief Richard Winn, showing his department’s new investment.

In the event of an active shooter at a public place or Westfarms Mall, West Hartford firefighters will soon have an added layer of protection.

“We take a secondary role because this is a police incident, but we do assist them,” Asst. Chief Winn said. “We stand back and wait for them to secure an area for us where we can set up a medical triage area.”

Karli Gilbertson-Spinella from Chester said she is worried about another mass shooting happening close to home.

“I’ve actually written to our legislature about this issue,” she said, “The fact guns are so easily available and I have to worry about my kids going to the movies, going to the mall.”

Winn said recently he witnessed Westfarms run through an evacuation drill.

“Quite honestly,” he said. “They did a pretty good job of evacuating the mall that morning.”

Agencies from West Hartford and Farmington train together and would both respond to an emergency at Westfarms because the mall sits on the town line.

“They learn the back corridors and the layout of the mall,” Winn said. "So, they’re pretty familiar with it, especially the companies that are assigned over there.”

Litchfield Crews Respond to Accident at Goshen Fair Grounds


Litchfield crews responded to some kind of car accident at Goshen Fair Grounds on Friday night, dispatch said. 

One patient was transported to the hospital but details on their injuries were not released. 

Litchfield county said they responded to the call just before 8 p.m. but did not say if the accident was part of the Goshen Stampede event. 

The Goshen Stampede event included rodeos, demolition derbies, truck pulls, fireworks and music, according to its Facebook page. 

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Alabama Official Won't Lower Flags After Orlando Massacre


An Alabama county official refused to lower flags this week to honor the Orlando massacre victims, according to NBC News. 

Baldwin County Commissioner Tucker Dorsey said he wouldn’t lower flags because the shooting was not a “valid circumstance” for flying them at half-staff. He also refused to lower the flags after the Paris and San Bernardino attacks. 

President Barack Obama and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley both ordered flags to be flown at half-staff after Sunday's massacre.

"First and foremost, my soul aches for the families of the innocents killed, and my family prays for them and the world. ... I realize that the President and Governor may make the order, but I believe and interpret their order inconsistent with the adopted flag code," Dorsey wrote in a statement

The U.S. Flag Code says flags must be flown at half-staff on Memorial Day and sets guidelines on how many days it should be lowered after the death of a government official. 

Photo Credit: AP

Think Twice Before Finding Your Own Dory


Big box office numbers during Pixar’s “Finding Dory” opening weekend could translate to a spike in exotic fish sales, an idea that some experts say sounds better in theory.

The bright blue and yellow fish, technically referred to as a Hippo Tang or a Blue Tang but more commonly known as “Dory,” is usually reserved for advanced hobbyists with big, established aquariums.

According to Bob Chmiel, who has owned exotic fish stores for 28 years, Hippo Tangs need to live in 60-callon tanks or larger with an established eco system.

“We explain from the beginning, you know, how to do it properly and (we try to avoid) getting them right into it, because it’s not a fish that should be put into a fish tank right away,” said Chmiel.

Chmiel won’t sell prospective customers a Hippo Tang unless they can prove they have the right kind of water and equipment to take care of it.

He says he educated customers 13 years ago when his shop saw a spike in Clownfish sales. If history repeats itself, Chmiel suggests anyone wanting to find their Dory should make sure they shop responsibly.

“I think it’s a big responsibility of pet shop owners, stores, box stores (and) online (retailers) to really try to screen the people,” said Chmiel.

After all, Hippo Tangs can cost as much as 100 dollars and live between 15-25 years. However, without the proper environment, they would only last a few days.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

12 Girls Found in Penn. Home


Twelve girls, ranging in age from six months to 18 years old, were found Thursday inside the home of a Bucks County, Pennsylvania, man, who has been charged with sexually assaulting one of the girls from 2012 to 2015, according to a criminal complaint filed by the Lower Southampton Police Department.

One of the alleged victims, now 18, told police she is the mother of two of the girls in the house and that the suspect, Lee Kaplan, fathered both, including the six-month-old, the complaint said.

Police are also investigating an allegation that the teenage mother was sold by her parents to Kaplan. The parents, who live in Lancaster County, are in custody, police said.

"This child gave birth to two other children through an inappropriate relationship," Lower Southampton Lt. John Krimmel said.

Kaplan, 51, lives in the 400 block of Old Street Road in Feasterville, where he and the children were found, according to the complaint. He bought the home, which was built in 1926, back in 1988 according to county real estate records.

Kaplan remains jailed on $1 million bail. It is unclear if he has an attorney.

Neighbor Jen Bets said she made the tip call to authorities, bringing them to the home.

"It's never the wrong time to do the right thing," Bets told NBC10's Christian Cazares. "There were signs."

"(She was) too young to be the wife, too old to be holding his hand," Bets said. She would often see Kaplan walking down the street with girls, holding hands with one of them. 

"It took too long," Bets said of response to the home, which she said she had spoken with neighbors and police in the past about. "I just want them to get help and get back and be happy. They're so sad and fearful everytime I see them. That's what made me call."

NBC10.com is not identifying the parents, who also are in custody and being held on $1 million bail, to maintain the alleged victim of a sexual assault's anonymity.

Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler said the parents, who live in Lancaster County, claim all of the children are theirs.

"They purport to be the parents of all the children, but I don't know if we believe them," Heckler said.

He said he could not say how long the children had been at Kaplan's house.

"It will be until into next week before I can stand in front of cameras and say X, Y, Z happened," Heckler said. "We have miles to go."

The police complaint said Kaplan "had told other neighbors that no children live there."

But one nearby resident, Denise Horst, said she saw the girls often.

"I've ridden by this house (and) I've seen young girls, various ages of children, dressed mostly in Amish clothing," Horst said. "Often afraid, like they would once he'd come out of the house, the male would come out, they'd go running into the house."

She said she also saw one of the young girls pregnant.

"I was wondering what was going on," Horst said. "It looked like these girls were scared."

Lower Southampton police said that police did not find any identifying documents for any of the girls.

"We are still investigating that. Bucks County is investigating that along with other agencies to help identify their genealogy and who their parents actually are," Krimmel said, adding that all are now in protective custody.

Kaplan and the girl's parents are due in court on June 28th.

Photo Credit: NBC10/Lower Southampton Police

Rebates, Credits Can Help Save Big on Electric Bills


Tax incentives and rebates offered by both the state and federal government could help make your home more energy efficient without breaking the bank.

United Illuminating Program Manager Jenn Parsons suggests consumers take a look at their water heating system and consider switching to a heat pump water heater.

“Water heating accounts for about 20 percent of your energy use in your home,” said Parsons.

Heat pump water heaters are up to 50 percent more efficient than traditional electric storage water heaters because they use a different heat source.

“It’s taking heat from the air and (using it) to heat the water, instead of heating the cold water from the city line at the temperature it comes in at,” said Parsons.

Right now, consumers can receive a $300 federal tax credit and a $300 instant rebate, bringing the price down to roughly $1,500.

But as Eversource spokesperson Mitch Gross points out, even the latest technology won’t help much if a house isn’t efficient.

He suggests getting a $99 home energy assessment through Energize CT.

“Certified techs come in and basically give your house a top to bottom assessment,” said Gross. “They check to see how efficient your heating and cooling systems are. They make adjustments. They do weather-stripping. They do caulking.”

Doing so makes consumers eligible for another rebate, this time for the cost of a Wi-Fi thermostat.

“Wi-Fi thermostats are great because you can control the temperature in your house from pretty much anywhere,” said Gross.

The rebates for both the Wi-Fi thermostat and the heat pump water heater will stay valid through at least the end of 2016.

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