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Vilsack: Trump Reminds Me of Bernie Madoff


In an exclusive interview with NBC News, potential Democratic vice president Tom Vilsack delivered a strong condemnation of Donald Trump, comparing the Republican nominee one of the most notorious fraudsters in U.S. history, NBC News reported.

"Donald Trump is sort of to politics what Bernie Madoff was to investment," the agriculture secretary said Saturday afternoon. "He is selling something that people don't fully understand and appreciate what it actually means."

Madoff, now 78, is currently serving a 150-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to running a fraud of up to $65 billion through his investment firm.

When asked his reaction to Trump selecting Mike Pence as his running mate, Vilsack warned that the Indiana governor might have difficulties reconciling with some of Trump's more controversial positions.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Poll: Clinton Holds 5-Point Lead Over Trump


On the eve of the GOP convention, Hillary Clinton maintains a five-point national lead over Donald Trump even after a period of negative news for the presumptive Democratic nominee, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

Clinton leads the presumptive GOP nominee 46 percent to 41 percent in a poll that finds both candidates facing sizable disadvantages and challenges ahead of the party conventions which kick off Monday for the GOP in Cleveland and a week later for Democrats in Philadelphia.

The poll shows Clinton has an advantage among voters ages 18-29, women, as well as a significant advantage among African Americans — 84 to 7 percent. The margin among Latinos will be released later Sunday.

Trump, meanwhile, is ahead among whites and men, and the two candidates are tied among independents.

The poll was conducted before Trump selected Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his vice-presidential running mate.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Runners Flock to Annual Petit Family Foundation Road Race


Wallingford native Lisa Oefinger ran in the inaugural GE 5K Petit Family Foundation Road Race nine years ago. After moving to San Francisco, Sunday was her first time back to race in this event.

“It looks like it’s already so bigger than it’s been and I can see the energy, and the energy feels the same but it looks like it’s grown a whole bunch,” Oefinger said.

In fact, the race has now raised more than a million-dollars for charities championed by the Petit Family in honor of Jennifer, Hayley, and Michaela Petit, who were killed in a violent home invasion in Cheshire in 2007. Dr. William Petit Jr. lived through the attack and established the Petit Family Foundation in his family's memory.

“I’ve heard Dr. Petit say many times that there is good in people and a lot of good people come out and support this event,” said Race Director Bob Heslin, who added that the event has grown from a local road race to one that has attracted runners from 48 states.

“Every year we hear about it on the radio, on the news, and it’s a nice thing to do,” said Sharon Hernandez, a first time participant.

The Meriden woman decided the GE 5K was the perfect place for her to kick-off her new exercise routine.

Organizers said more than a thousand people registered for the run and walk. Many said the mission was more important than finishing first.”

“It doesn’t matter what you run. Some people are going to run fast other people not so much but in the end we’re all here together,” explained Oefinger’s cousin Pat Biancur of Wallingford.

Organizers said that’s the goal. The foundation's favorite phrase is: Be the Change.

“It allows all the runners number one to do something good for themselves, in terms of running and exercising and feeling good, be part of the Petit Foundation and help raise the money to help others, so they are part of the change,” explained Dr. Petit.

Nine years after his wife and daughters were tragically taken, Petit is grateful the community continues to care.

“It’s a wonderful thing. Very emotional,” Petit said.

“I can be part of this much bigger thing. Something that’s much bigger than me and be someone who’s helping give back to the community,” Oefinger said.

“It was extremely sad what happened and it’s great that the Petit family has stepped up to help everybody in the community and whatever support they can give and people supporting them,” said Bobby Ericksen of Meriden.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Manchester Police Investigate Vehicle Burglaries


Manchester police responded to several car burglaries overnight Saturday into Sunday.

Manchester police Captain Chris Davis said the crimes happened in the Meadowbrook Drive area and that the suspect may have been driving a silver-colored SUV with a loud exhaust.

Police remind residents to lock car doors.

Many other towns have issued similar warnings in recent weeks including Berlin, East Windsor and Vernon.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

North Haven Police Investigate Burglaries


North Haven police are investigating several overnight burglaries, according to a post on their Facebook page.

Police said around 1:30 a.m. at least one person broke into the Valero Gas Station at 414 Street and stolen over a dozen items.

Around 5 a.m. a resident on Great Meadow Road reported several items stolen from his garage, police said.

Police did not say whether the crimes are related.

Anyone who has information on these crimes or saw suspicious activity in these areas is asked to contact police at (203) 239-1616.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Cromwell Wal-Mart Evacuated Due to Strange Smell


A strange smell prompted an evacuation at the Wal-Mart in Cromwell Sunday.

Cromwell police said that police, fire and EMS all responded around 1 p.m. to investigate. The fire department did a walk-through of the building.

The odor was traced to an issue with the building’s HVAC system, police said. The issue was repaired and employees and customers returned to the store. No injuries were reported.

National Leaders React to Baton Rouge Shooting


The attacks on public servants and the rule of law "have to stop," President Barack Obama said Sunday after another shooting spree targeting police killed three officers in Baton Rouge and wounded three others.

Obama said the motive for Sunday's attack, the second targeting police in less than two weeks, was unknown, but there was no justification for violence against law enforcement.

"The officers in Baton Rouge, the officers in Dallas, they were our fellow Americans, part of our community, part of our country, with people who loved and needed them, and who need us now — all of us — to be at our best," Obama said.

As the all-too-familiar scene unfolded in Baton Rouge, Dallas Police Chief David Brown tweeted, "Our thoughts and prayers are with Baton Rouge police." 

The city of Dallas is still mourning five slain police officers who were targeted in an ambush during a protest 10 days ago.

Hillary Clinton condemned the attack on law enforcement in Baton Rouge, saying, "There is no justification for violence, for hate, for attacks on men and women who put their lives on the line every day in service of our families and communities." 

Clinton said that violence must be rejected to "strengthen our communities."

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump demanded "law and order" while blaming the deaths on a "lack of leadership in our country."  

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan said he was "deeply disturbed" by the shooting in Baton Rouge and extended prayers for the fallen officers and their families. 

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards tweeted: "This is an unspeakable and unjustified attack on all of us at a time when we need unity and healing. Rest assured, Every resource available to the State of Louisiana will be used to ensure the perpetrators are swiftly brought to justice." 

In a statement issued Sunday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said there is no place in the United States for such appalling violence. She also is pledging the full support of the Justice Department as the investigation unfolds.

Reverend Al Sharpton added: "Praying for the families of the police officers shot in Baton Rouge as we await the full details. This senseless violence really must stop."

Law enforcement officials around the country also took to social media to pay tribute to their brothers in blue. 

Obama has spent most of the last week focused on defusing tensions and rebuilding trust between police departments and the communities they serve.

The shooting of the police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge were preceded by police shootings of two black men, Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in suburban St. Paul, Minnesota. Those shootings sparked protests around the country. Dallas police were defending protesters in that city when a black gunman, who authorities said "wanted to kill white people, especially white officers,” opened fire on them.

Sterling's nephew, Terrance Carter, spoke to The Associated Press on Sunday and said his uncle would not want this.

The Associate Press contributed to this story.

Photo Credit: AP
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Man Dies After Being Struck in Head by Brick: Police


A man was killed when he was struck in the head by a brick and now Bridgeport police are investigating the death as a homicide, authorities said.

Bridgeport police said the victim, identified by Edy Morales, 41, of Williams Street, was riding in a car that was driving in the area of 32/34 Jane Street. A crowd congregating in the area began throwing rocks and a brick at the car, smashing its windshield and Morales’s passenger side window, police said. The brick hit Morales in the head.

The driver took Morales to Bridgeport Hospital but he was pronounced dead upon arrival, according to police.

No suspects have been identified at this time. Bridgeport police ask anyone with information to contact Det. Heanue at (203) 581-5242.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Record-Breaking Crowds at Hartford Jazz Festival


Thousands attended the 25th Annual Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz in the capitol city this weekend.

The event takes place at Bushnell Park each year and this year broke attendance records both Friday and Saturday, according to Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin. The event includes various performances by jazz artists and food and arts and crafts vendors. Admission is free.

The festival will end with tunes from The Hartford Legacy Jazz Orchestra at 8 p.m.

For more information on the event check out the website.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Fatal Crash on I-95 in Bridgeport


At least one person was killed in a crash on Interstate 95 in Bridgeport Sunday.

State police said they responded around 5:30 p.m. for reports of a crash on the northbound side of the highway between exits 28 and 29. The left and center lanes were closed while police investigated.

More information was not immediately available. Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation

Pence's Record is 'Anti-Civil Rights': Kaine


Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine reacted to Donald Trump’s choice for the GOP ticket Sunday, telling NBC News he viewed Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s record as “anti-civil rights.” 

Trump "is entitled to make his pick, so I don't really have any comments on it right now," Kaine said. "The only real way I know him is because of the controversy of his activities to really crack down on LGBT, and then that controversy, and the other things that I would kind of view as very anti-civil rights." 

Kaine appeared with Hillary Clinton at a campaign rally for the first time since before the Virginia primary on Thursday. Many believed it was an audition for the role of her vice presidential pick. 

He denied there were any conversations about the vice presidency. "Nope," he said. "We were talking about the rally and we were talking about Virginia."

Photo Credit: AP

US Student in Nice Confirmed Dead


A UC Berkeley student missing in Nice, France, following Thursday's truck attack has been found dead.

Nicolas Leslie, 20, was confirmed dead by FBI officials, which were notified by counterparts in France early Sunday, Berkeley News reported.

"This is tragic, devastating news," UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks told Berkeley News. "All of us in the UC Berkeley family — both here on campus, and around the world — are heartbroken to learn that another promising young student has been lost to senseless violence. I join Nick’s parents, friends and the entire campus community in condemning this horrific attack, and in mourning the loss of one of our own."

Leslie, a native of Del Mar, in San Diego County, was one of 85 Berkeley students attending a summer study abroad program in the city of Nice when the attacker, identified as 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, drove a truck through crowds departing a fireworks celebration.

Friends told NBC Bay Area that Leslie avoided being hit by the truck but was separated from his group during the stampede and chaos that followed.

On Saturday, Leslie's father, Conrad, left his Southern California home and traveled to Nice in search of his son, NBC News reported. Leslie's uncle, Fabeo Bottini, had been scouring hospitals in the Nice area since the attack looking for Nicolas, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Claire Holmes, a spokeswoman for the program, said the campus is devastated.

"We have been mobilizing over the past few days, cooperating with officials on the ground to find Nick, and bring him home." Holmes said. "Unfortunately, the news was tragic today."

A vigil for Leslie is scheduled for Monday at 4:30 p.m at Sproul Plaza on the Berkeley campus.

Photo Credit: University of California, Berkeley

Local Reaction to Deadly Baton Rouge Shooting


The attack on police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana hit home with law enforcement all across the nation, including Connecticut.

Social media blew up with a flood of support and condolences. State police tweeted it sadly had to re-post a memorial badge. The department also reminded residents to contact police if they see anything out of place.

Hamden police sent prayers to their colleagues in Louisiana. And Norwalk police also stood in solidarity with Baton Rouge.

In Hartford, officers were reminded to remain vigilant and report any threats so they can be vetted and investigated.

Corporal Stanley J. Parizo Jr. of the Willimantic police department released the following statement:

"The members of the Willimantic police department are saddened by the loss of more brave and courageous police officers that lost their lives this morning in Baton Rouge. These recent senseless attacks on law enforcement are on all of our minds, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of these fallen officers."

The Connecticut Police Chiefs Association also released a statement expressing condolences to the people of Baton Rouge and offered comments on the tensions gripping the nation.

“Genuine discussions about police cannot be comprised solely of accusations against officers who are sworn to protect all citizens, not just a particular race or class of people. Careless statements can encourage those intent on harming law enforcement to act on their beliefs, no matter how misguided. Violence against police can never be excused or justified because of a person's grievance or perception of mistreatment by law enforcement officers,” the statement read, in part.

Today Senator Richard Blumenthal called for support and help for police.

Recently he’s been hosting roundtables with community leaders about tensions in the country involving race and police.

“There may be a need to improve policing practices and policies. And we should seek improvements but these heinous, senseless attacks really are an assault on all of us,” he said.

More of those roundtables are planned, including one in Hartford expected this week.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police
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Lifestar Responds to Crash on I-95 South in Groton

Trump Shifts on Muslim Ban, Calls for 'Extreme Vetting'


Donald Trump shifted the parameters of his proposed temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States, calling for “extreme vetting” of people from “territories” with a history of terror, NBC News reported. 

During an interview Sunday with “60 Minutes,” he said people from suspicious “territories” will receive extra scrutiny when trying to enter the country. 

"We're going to have a thing called 'extreme vetting.' And if people want to come in, there's going to be extreme vetting,” he said. “We're going to have extreme vetting. They're going to come in and we're going to know where they came from and who they are."

Trump also shifted the language of his proposal during a trip to Scotland, where he said it wouldn't bother him if a Scottish or British Muslim wanted to come to the United States.  

His initial proposal came in December 2015, when he called for a temporary yet “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."

Photo Credit: AP

Dead Whale Floats Ashore — Again


A dead whale that washed ashore at a beach in Encinitas was confirmed to be “Wally,” the whale that keeps floating toward the Southern California coast. 

The whale washed ashore Grandview Beach on Saturday, officials said. 

Wally first washed ashore Dockweiler Beach June 30 and was towed out by lifeguards the next day, ahead of the Fourth of July holiday. Just a week later, the carcass drifted toward San Pedro and then Newport Beach, and has repeatedly drifted toward the shore despite being towed away multiple times.

The female whale is between 10 and 20 years old and over 40 feet long, and has been the subject of many viral videos the past couple of weeks.

Lifeguards in Encinitas tried to use a bulldozer Sunday to get rid of the carcass, but the tide was too high. They plan to dispose of it Monday at low tide.

Photo Credit: Jennifer Neville

Girl Dead, 4 Injured When Car Plows Into South LA Home


A woman was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence after she crashed into a South Los Angeles home Sunday, leaving a 7-year-old girl dead and three children critically hurt, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said.

"I saw all the babies on the floor," said Yanera Alfaro , the owner of the home where the woman crashed, as tears streamed down her face.

Paramedics responded to the home in the 700 block of E 93rd Street at 6 p.m. after the violent wreck sent the two-door sedan through a wall and then crashing into the home.

Three children — ages 18 months old to 6 years old — were all taken to the hospital in critical condition, fire officials said.

A 36-year-old woman behind the wheel was also in critical condition, fire officials said.

All of those injured were inside of the car at the time of the crash, fire officials said.

The LAPD arrested the woman, whose relationship to the children was not immediately clear, on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Police said security cameras caught the car skidding from a half a block away before the wreck as the car traveled at about 50 mph. Investigators say the woman lost control and slammed into the house.

Witness Gregory Thomas rushed to help when he saw the impact with his fiance and friends.

"We pulled the kids out of the car and started doing CPR on them," Thomas said. "I just wanted to save them."

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV

Baton Rouge Shooting Suspect Served in Marines


The suspect in the fatal shooting of three Baton Rouge cops maintained a robust social media presence and a website called Convos With Cosmo in which he describes himself as a "freedom strategist, mental game coach, nutritionist, author and spiritual advisor," NBC News reported.

The domain registry information for Convos with Cosmo lists Gavin Long at his known home address as the registrant, and a law enforcement source has confirmed to NBC News that a Twitter account linked to the website is the shooter's account.

The website also links to a now disabled Instagram account and Twitter feed, in which he noted in a message posted mere hours before the shooting: "Just bc you wake up every morning doesn't mean that you're living. And Just bc you shed your physical body doesn't mean that you're dead."

Long was a Marine sergeant who served from 2005-2010, who was deployed to Iraq from June 2008 to January 2009, according to military records obtained by NBC News.

Photo Credit: AP
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Soskin Receives Replacement Coin


In a surprise ceremony Sunday, park ranger Betty Reid Soskin, who is still recovering from a violent attack at her home in Richmond, California, last month, received a replacement for the commemorative presidential coin that was stolen from her last month.

Soskin, 94, the oldest park ranger in the U.S., was attending a ceremony at Concord Naval Weapon Station to honor those who lost their lives during a deadly explosion back in 1944 and commemorate the Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial when she was surprised with the coin.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell was on hand to present Soskin with the coin.

Soskin most famously grabbed national attention in 2013 during the federal funding crisis when she pleaded with Congress to step up and get its act together so that she didn't have to sit at home during a furlough.

That act yielded an invitation to light the national Christmas tree in December, during which she introduced President Obama and was gifted with the special presidential coin.

Last month, someone broke into her apartment, beat her and stole her cell phone, laptop, jewelry and the coin Obama gave her to mark the event. 

Her colleagues at the National Park Service, and members of the community at large, have raised more than $50,000 to help her replace those items, as well as fund a documentary being made about her, according to the park service.

Her boss, Supt. Tom Leatherman, had told NBC Bay Area that he received an email from Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, saying that Obama would replace the coin.

Soskin works at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Park, where she moderates tours, talks to visiting groups and steps back in time to speak about living and working in the area during World War II.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

Officers Fatally Shot in Baton Rouge Identified


Police in Louisiana have identified the three officers shot and killed by a gunman on Sunday in an ambush-style shooting

Authorities identified Montrell Jackson, 32, Matthew Gerald, 41 — both of the Baton Rouge Police Department — and Brad Garafola. 45, of East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office Sunday evening as the three officers who were fatally shot.

Jackson was married and the father of a new baby boy. His former partner said Sunday Jackson was "stressed out and depressed" by the recent shootings in Baton Rouge and Dallas, according to NBC News

"I remember Montrell got on Facebook the other day and posted that he hopes that his son won't ever become a police officer so he wouldn't have to deal with the BS that comes with the job," he said.         

Gerald had been serving on the force for less than a year, according to the Baton Rouge Police Department's Facebook page

Garafola was with the Sheriff's Office for 24 years and was working in Civil Processing-Foreclosures.

Three officers were also wounded by the gunman, including Nicholas Tullier, 41, and Bruce Simmons, 51, both from East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office. Officials said Tullier was listed in critical condition, while Simmons has non-life threatening injuries. The identity of the third officer was not yet released. 

"These men are husbands, fathers, sons and brothers," Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said. "We are devastated to lose one of our own, and another is now in a fight for his life. We are asking for your prayers at this time. We will get through this together as a family and as a community."

Police identified the shooter, who was dressed in black fatigues, as Gavin Long of Kansas City, Missouri. 

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