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Confiscated Grow Lights Find New Home at New London High School


Grow lights seized by police from an illegal marijuana operation are finding a new purpose at New London High School.

In the past two years, Chef Tomm Johnson has grown the school’s culinary arts program.

“In our school we grow shrimp, we grow trout, we grow tilapia,” Cheff Tomm said, pointing to fish tank. “I wish I had this while I was in high school”

Chef Tomm says he knows the school doesn’t have the money to buy expensive, top-notch grow lights.

“I was talking to our SRO officer, Officer Bertsch, and said, well you know any ideas how we can get some lights?” Chef Tomm said.

That is when New London Police got the idea to reach out to the State Police Narcotics Task Force, which often confiscated industrial lights from illegal drug operations.

“They went to the New London County prosecutor’s office and went through the paperwork and were able to get the equipment signed over to New London High School,” Detective Sgt. Lawrence Keating said, “instead of ending up in a dumpster.”

Students enrolled in the Science and Technology Magnet High School of Southeastern Connecticut collaborate with New London H.S.’s culinary program. Now, they too will be able to grow more crops in the winter.

“It’s going to absolutely facilitate the productivity in here once the light is gone,” Environmental Science and Oceanography Instructor Chuck Mulligan said.

So far, the high scools have received six of the seized grow lights. The goal is for police to donate even more to expand the culinary and agriculture programs into the middle and elementary schools.

“By the time they get up here they’ll be farming geniuses,” Chef Tomm said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Health Insurer Looks to Spike Rates by Nearly 50 Percent


One of Connecticut’s health insurers shocked state insurance officials Thursday morning when Connecticare executives unveiled that they wanted to increase rates by 42.6 percent, rather than the previously proposed 24 percent increase.

NBC Connecticut reached out to Connecticare for comment but our messages weren’t immediately returned.

Sources at a public hearing to discuss the rates said state officials were taken aback by the renewed request.

One person who was there to state her case was Alison Bliss, a former Connecticare customer who dropped the insurer this year when she was informed of the proposed rate increase.

“The audacity that the company had to suggest increasing my rate by almost 30 percent,” she said.

The plans that would go up are off-exchange plans mainly held by private individuals and small business owners. There are about 37,000 people who would be affected by the rate increase.

Elizabeth Keenan with Congregations for a New Connecticut has observed the rate increase process for years and says this move by Connecticare puts consumers in a nearly impossible position.

“It puts consumers between a rock and a hard place frankly, so you either pay the penalty and then you run the risk of having a medical event or you become unable to pay other bills and look out for your family.”

In the case of Alison Bliss, she was paying more than $330 per month for her individual premium and she would see that bill rise to more than $480 if she stayed with Connecticare.

She says she feels the company duped many of its customers.

“I feel like they kept their rates low to get new consumers [last year] and now they’re raising their rates exorbitantly once they have us all in there. That just doesn’t work for me.”

State Senator Tony Hwang, R – Fairfield, was at the hearings and was blown away by the proposal. He says the Farmington-based Connecticare is representing everything that taxpayers and consumers dislike about large corporations.

“It’s an absolute symbolic gesture of a complete disconnect of our insurance carriers. I understand it’s a business but they have to understand that there is a consideration and a respect for how you interact with your consumers.”

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Vernon Home Explodes, Collapses


Photo Credit: Michael Neives

Injured Man Dies 3 Weeks After France Truck Attack


A man who lost his wife and son in the deadly truck attack in Nice, France, died Thursday from injuries he suffered in the rampage, according to authorities, NBC News reported. 

Pierre Hattermann’s wife Francoise and his son were killed in the attack. His 14-year-old daughter is still in the hospital, French newspaper Nice Matin and other media reported. 

That brings the death toll to 85, authorities said. 

Tunisian-born Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel barreled a 19-ton truck into the crowd celebrating France's Bastille Day on the seafront promenade on July 14. He was shot dead by police.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Clinton Jumps to 9-Point Lead Over Trump: Poll


Hillary Clinton has jumped out to a nine-point lead over Donald Trump, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal national poll. 

The Democratic ticket of Clinton and running mate Tim Kaine receives the support of 47 percent of registered voters, while the Republican ticket with Trump and Mike Pence gets 38 percent, NBC News reported. Last month, Clinton led Trump by a margin of 46 to 41 percent. 

Clinton is leading among women, African Americans, all non-white voters, young voters and white voters with a college degree. Trump is being boosted by white voters, seniors, independents and white voters without a college degree. Both candidates are running almost even among men.

With the Libertarian and Green Party candidates added to the mix, Clinton still holds a nine-point lead over Trump.

Photo Credit: Getty/NBC Universal

No Swimming in Scantic River After High Levels of E. Coli Found


A water quality test revealed a high level of E. coli in the Scantic River in eastern Connecticut, a river association said. 

Results from a water quality testing on Aug. 3 said there are "very" elevated levels of E. coli in the river, the Scantic River Watershed Association said. 

Activity in the water is not recommended, the assocaition wrote on Facebook

In addition to Scantic River, E. coli in Powder Hollow is currently four times higher than last week's testing, according to the association. 

For more results, visit the Connecticut River website

4 Rescued After Vernon House Explodes, Collapse


Four people were rescued from a Vernon home that exploded before collapsing on Thursday afternoon, police said. 

Police on the scene said they were dispatched to the home on East Street around 4:15 p.m. and arrived to a "devastating" scene, Lt. William Meier of Vernon police said.

When they arrived three of the occupants, one adult and two kids, were already outside the house, which had collapsed. Four others, including at least one child under the age of 10, had to be rescued from inside of the home, according to police.

Meier said the child has "significant" injuries but specifics were not clear. 

The four people were transported to the hospital,  The extent of their injuries are unknown at this time, but Meier said some of them were conscious.

Connecticut Children’s Medical Center confirmed they received patients from the Vernon incident but could not provide further details.

Police said they are concerned the house could collapse further.

The Connecticut Urban Search and Rescue, a specialized rescue team, was called in to assist. Eversource and the gas company are also on the scene.

East Main Street will remain close throughout the evening and East Street is closed indefinitely, police said. 

An investigation for the cause of the explosion is underway. 

Please check back for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: Michael Nieves

Retired NoCal Firefighter Among Wounded in London Stabbing Attack


A retired San Jose firefighter was among six people stabbed in an attack in London on Wednesday.

Marty Hoenish, 59, who was vacationing with his wife on his first trip outside the U.S., recounted the attack that killed one American woman and injured him and four others.

Hoenish was out for an evening walk with his wife in Russell Square when a Somali-Norwegian teen rushed toward the couple.

"He ran up, he ducked under my right arm, and that's when he stabbed me," Hoenish said. "As he ran behind us, he started going up to other people, running by them, waving his arms and apparently stabbing them."

Authorities on Thursday identified the woman killed in the attack as 64-year-old Darlene Horton, the wife of a Florida State University psychology professor. Police subdued and arrested the 19-year-old suspect at the scene.

Hoenish said when he realized he was OK, he tried to help others. After police arrived, he managed to get himself back to his hotel and then eventually to a hospital.

Despite his terrifying first day in the storied city, Hoenish said he and his wife will continue their vacation as planned.

"It's very safe here, is what I want to say," Hoenish added.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

Neighbor Arrested in Arson of Black Firefighter's Home


A former firefighter was arrested in a suspicious blaze that gutted the home of Kenneth Walker, the only black firefighter in North Tonawanda, New York, police said Thursday. The fire erupted two days after Walker reported finding a racist and threatening letter in his mailbox, NBC News reported

North Tonawanda police Capt. Thomas Krantz said at a news conference that the suspect, Matthew Jurado, 39 — who lives across the street from Walker — admitted having set the fire because he'd recently been "removed" from the Gratwick Hose Volunteer Fire Company.

But Jurado, who was charged with second-degree arson, denied that he'd sent the letter and insisted that the fire wasn't race-related, Krantz said.

Walker, 28, his wife, Amanda, and their two kids weren't in their apartment when the blaze broke out Wednesday, police said.

Photo Credit: WGRZ

I-91 South Reopens in Meriden

Police Warn of Major Traffic for G-Eazy Concert in Hartford


If you have to travel through Hartford later today, expect it to take a while because thousands of people are expected for the G-Eazy concert. 

Hartford police have put out a traffic advisory and said the crowd expected for the show at Xfinity Theater in Hartford has jumped to nearly 15,000. 

The rapper Billboard magazine calls “The Young Elvis,” has been on national television and Forbes had also done profiles on him. 

“His brand comes from James Dean, Marlon Brando and Paul Newman. He’s in line to be the next great American entertainer,” Forbes reported in 2014.  

Parking opens at 4 p.m. and gates open at 5 p.m.

Photo Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Stagecoach

Silver Sands State Park Reopens

Chester Man Charged in Essex Home Burglary


A Chester man suspected in a home burglary in Essex has been arrested on larceny and drug possession charges.

Police responded to a home on Ingham Hill Road in Essex just before 7:30 p.m. on Thursday to investigate a break-in and identified 34-year-old Brian Lamarco, of Chester, as the suspect.

Detectives saw several of the stolen items inside the vehicle and later found more stolen property at different locations, according to a news release from police.

Lamarco was taken into custody and charged with third-degree burglary, third-degree larceny and possession of crack cocaine.

Bond was set at $100,000. He is due in Middletown Superior Court.

Mayor Arrested in Meth-for-Sex Bust


The mayor of the city of Fairfax, Virginia, has been arrested after he allegedly gave methamphetamine to an undercover detective in exchange for a sexual encounter, Fairfax County police said.

Richard "Scott" Silverthorne, 50, was arrested Thursday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Tysons Corner. 

"I ask that you allow the process to proceed before rushing to judgment (as tough as that may be)," Silverthorne wrote on his Facebook page Friday. 

The city has appointed Councilman Jeff Greenfield acting mayor until further notice. 

Police in late July received a tip that Silverthorne may have been trading meth for sex on a website used to arrange casual sexual encounters between men. An undercover detective created a profile on the website, and Silverthorne contacted him within a few days, according to police.

Silverthorne allegedly told the detective he could provide meth "in exchange for sexual encounters," police said. The detective agreed to meet with Silverthorne, who agreed to bring other men to the engagement, according to police. 

Police said Silverthorne brought the meth to the Chain Bridge Road hotel on Thursday. He was arrested and charged with felony distribution of methamphetamine and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.

Authorities said they don't know how long Silverthorne was on the website, which police did not identify. 

"I know he had one other relationship on the website besides us," Capt. Jack Harden with Fairfax County police said during a news conference Friday.

Police said Silverthorne also served as a substitute teacher for Fairfax County Public Schools. A spokesman for the school district told NBC News that Silverthorne worked "briefly" as a FCPS substitute teacher starting in April 2016 and that he has been let go.

Silverthorne's arrest comes amid a trying year for him. He lost his full-time civilian job, lost his home and was diagnosed with cancer

In May he was re-elected to a third term as mayor, after being elected to the position in 2012.

Investigators also arrested Silverthorne's alleged suppliers, Juan Jose Fernandez, 34, and Caustin Lee McLaughlin, 21.

Fernandez was charged with felony distribution of methamphetamine, felony possession with the intent to distribute methamphetamine and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.

McLaughlin was charged with felony distribution of methamphetamine, felony obstruction of justice, and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.

Police said McLaughlin physically resisted arrest, and a detective had to deploy his stun gun. There were no injuries.

Silverthorne, Fernandez and McLaughlin were taken to the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center for processing. Silverthorne was released, and Fernandez and McLaughlin still were in jail as of Friday afternoon.

Silverthorne's attorney, Brian Drummond, said: "Given the fact that I haven't had the opportunity to sit down and speak with my client, I'll no-comment at this time."

The acting mayor declined to comment on the charges against Silverthorne. 

"The City of Fairfax City Council appreciates Mr. Silverthorne's longstanding dedication to the community. He has served the City of Fairfax as a Councilmember and Mayor for more than a quarter of a century," he said in a statement. 

Former mayoral candidate John Norce said Silverthorne should step down. 

“I don’t see how you would not want to resign to do the right thing for the residents of this city," he said. 

Information on attorneys for Fernandez and McLaughlin was not immediately available.

Neighbors said they were shocked by the allegations against Silverthorne.  

“Never in my mind would’ve thought Scott would get caught up in something like that," neighbor Scott Frankhauser said.

Silverthorne is due in court Wednesday, when he will be arraigned. 

Photo Credit: Fairfax Police Department
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Bucket Truck Freed from Power Lines in Marlborough


Emergency crews responded to Jones Hollow Road in Marlborough because a tree crew’s bucket truck got stuck in power lines, but it has been extricated, according to dispatchers.

No additional information was available. 

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Teen Killed in Guilford Dirt Bike Accident


An 18-year-old was killed in a dirt bike crash in Guilford Thursday, according to police.

Police said they responded to Lanes Pond Road around 2:18 p.m. and found the victim suffering serious injuries. He was transported to Yale-New Haven Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The victim has not been publicly identified.

The Guilford Police Accident Reconstruction Team is investigating. Police said initial investigation revealed the victim was riding his dirt bike on Lanes Pond Road near the intersection of Beaver Head Road. Police believe he struck metal gate meant to prevent access to the area.

The investigation is ongoing.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Scattered Thunderstorms Saturday


A cold front will bring thunderstorms to the state tomorrow.

The humidity will increase overnight and a shower is possible by daybreak.

While there could be showers Saturday morning, the thunderstorm threat is more focused on the midday hours.

It will be humid. There's uncertainty as to how strong the storms will be. If the morning clouds stick around, the threat for severe thunderstorms will be quite low.

As a result of the frontal passage, it will be cooler on Sunday with lots of sunshine and highs in the middle 80s.

Sunday is the pick of the weekend.

It looks dry and seasonable to start next week, but a chance for a storm returns by Wednesday.

Suspect Arrested After Heroin Sales Investigation in Glastonbury


Police made one arrest and seized 100 bags of heroin, some crack cocaine and some marijuana during an investigation into heroin sales in and around Glastonbury.

Members of the East Central Narcotics Taskforce took part in a buy/bust operation on Main Street on Thursday and identified the suspected dealer as Carlos Lopez, 26, of Hartford.

Officers took him into custody after he allegedly sold heroin and crack cocaine to someone in the parking lot of McDonalds on Main Street.

When police searched Lopez’s vehicle, they seized 100 baggies of heroin, 2 and a half grams of crack cocaine and a small quantity of marijuana, as well as the 2013 Honda Accord, police said.

Lopez was charged with several counts of possession of narcotics, several counts of sale of narcotics, one count of interfering with an officer and four counts of possession with intent to sell.

Bond was set at $375,000.

Photo Credit: Glastonbury Police

Hartford Man Convicted of April 2011 Murder


A federal jury has found a Hartford man guilty of an April 2011 murder, according to the US Attorney’s office.

Karl Roye, 25, was convicted of murdering Anthony Parker, who was 24, in Hartford in 2011. He was convicted of conspiracy to commit a violent crime in aid of racketeering and committing a violent crime in aid of racketeering.

Roye is scheduled for sentencing on October 27. He faces life in prison.

Prosecutors said on April 6, 2011, Hartford police responded to shots fired near 15 Thomaston Street in the Blue Hills neighborhood of Hartford, where they found Parker in a vehicle suffering multiple gunshot wounds. He was transported t Saint Francis Hospital but died of his injuries.

This case initially went cold but was revisited as part of a long-term investigation into narcotics trafficking by gangs in the Hartford area, according to the US Attorney’s Office. Investigators said Parker’s homicide was also included in cold case playing cards used in Connecticut’s state correctional facilities.

FBI’s Northern Connecticut Violent Crimes Task Force, DEA and Hartford Police Department and the Cold Case Unit of the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney all took part in the investigation.

Officials said Roye was a member of the Wall Street group, later known as Team Grease. According to court statements, Roye and another man, Jimel Frank, shot Parker from opposite sides of the vehicle.

Both men were arrested in February 2015.

Frank plead guilty on November 12, 2015 and awaits sentencing.

Photo Credit: Nader Abu-Rabei, NBC Connecticut

Man With Cane Robs Norwalk Bank


A man with a cane robbed a bank in Norwalk and police are searching for him.

The suspect robbed the Webster Bank at 402 Connecticut Avenue around 10 a.m. Friday and fled in a black sedan with New York plates, according to police.

The man is described as being in his 50’s, around 5-foot-6, with a medium build and a gap between his top front teeth.

Police said the suspect passed a note and indicated he had a weapon, but no weapon was shown. No one was injured and police are investigating.

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Det. Fitzmaurice at (203) 854-3180 or call the Norwalk police tips line at (203) 854-3111.

Photo Credit: Norwalk Police Department
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