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Vape Battery Explodes in Mom's Bag


An e-cigarette explosion at a New Jersey mall left a woman's Louis Vuitton bag smoking, startling a worker and another shopper on the anniversary of September 11.

Surveillance video captured the surprised reaction from everyone in the Sunglass Hut store at the Freehold Raceway Mall as a lithium battery exploded in Mara McInerney’s handbag. Thick, black smoke could be seen pouring out of the high-end purse.

“Terrifying, scary. It sounded like a gunshot. It sounded like a bomb went off,” McInerney said. “It was 9/11. I thought someone had put something in my bag.”

McInerney says she immediately dumped the contents onto the floor. It was then that she discovered her melted personal vaporizer and what was left of the charred battery. Heat from the blast melted holes in her Louis Vuitton Neverfull MM tote, which McInerney says she purchased last November for almost $1,900.

Lithium batteries power a great number of things because they pack a lot of energy into a little package. They are also delicate — a crack, a fray or a defect has the possibility of leading to an explosion like the one that rattled McInerney.

There have been at least two dozen incidents of explosions and fires in personal vaporizers and e-cigarettes between 2009 and 2014. A Long Island man says he was burned when an e-cigarette ignited in his pocket earlier this year. A Queens woman says she was also burned when an e-cigarette exploded. 

McInerney says there was no warning. She always stores her vaporizer safely in the pocket of her handbag. She’s just glad her 4-year-old daughter had not been reaching into her purse for a piece of candy at the time her bag blew up.

“It could have exploded in her face,” McInerney said.

No one was reported injured in the eruption.

Photo Credit: d

Senate Super PACs: 10 Biggest Spenders


Super PACs and and other large independent expenditure groups account for most of the outside money flowing into the nine toss-up Senate races nationwide. Here they are with their partisan lean, amount spent in the toss-up races and donors of at least $500,000 each:

  • Senate Majority PAC. Democratic. $23.5 million. Major donors include Chicago media owner Fred Eychaner and hedge fund managers/philanthropists James H. Simons and George Soros.
  • Freedom Partners Action Fund. Republican. $22.9 million spent. Major donors include Charles Koch and Wisconsin philanthropist Diane Hendricks.
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Republican. $16 million spent. No major donors listed.
  • NRSC (also known as National Republican Senatorial Committee). Republican. $10.1 million spent. Major donors include hedge fund manager Kenneth C. Griffin and stock broker Charles Schwab.
  • Fighting for Ohio Fund. Republican. $7.5 million spent. Major donors include hedge fund managers Paul Singer and Robert L. Mercer and FreedomVote Inc., a Dayton, Ohio, nonprofit.
  • American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Democratic. $7.1 million spent. No major donors listed.
  • Independence USA PAC. Nonpartisan (gun control). $5 million. Sole donor is former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.
  • End Citizens United. Democratic. $4.6 million. No major donors listed. While ‘End Citizens United’ is not a Super PAC it is one of the largest groups making independent expenditures in the Senate races.
  • Women Vote! Democratic. $3.9 million. Major donors include Priorities USA (a Democratic Super PAC founded by backers of President Obama), hedge fund manager S. Donald Sussman and Bloomberg.
  • Planned Parenthood Votes. $3.1 million. Major donors include Jonathan Allan Soros, Jennifer Allan Soros, George Soros and Amy Goldman Fowler.

Source: Federal Elections Commission

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

Italian Artist Plows Get Well Message to Hillary Clinton


An Italian land artist has used his art to send his greetings to Hillary Clinton after her pneumonia scare. Dario Gambarin, a land artist living near Verona in Northern Italy, used his tractor to plow out a huge work of art depicting Clinton together with the slogan "you must, you can." The unique portrait took about eight hours to create. "It's a way to say to Hillary: you have to keep going because you can become the first female president of the US," Gambarin said in a statement. Gambarin has done other famous works with his tractor including portraits of Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, Pope Francis and a drawing of Rio de Janiero's "Christ the Redeemer" statue.

Leak From Gas Stove Prompted Evacuations in New Haven


The gas leak that forced evacuations of three buildings and closed several streets near Orange Street in New Haven Wednesday was a gas stove in a restaurant.

The gas company said the source of the leak was a faulty gas stove in Pho & Spice restaurant and the gas built up overnight.

Someone noticed the smell of gas around 9 a.m. and called 911. When firefighters responded to 66 Orange St. and meters registered a large amount of gas.

Firefighters then evacuated buildings and closed the road from Chapel Street to Crown Street during the investigation and crews were at the scene for around three hours before identifying the cause.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

State Police Issue Warning About Traffic Ticket Scam


State police are issuing a warning about a traffic ticket scam and they are urging residents not to fall victim to it. 

Several Connecticut residents have received the scam email, including Trooper Kelly Grant. 

Trooper Grant said her first reaction when she received the scam ticket was "thinking that it was our DMV." Then she looked more closely at it and realized it was fake.

"And when I saw the $489 .... I was like, what in the world would I owe $489 for?," she said.  

On Tuesday, state police posted a photo of a fake ticket on their Facebook page and said that anyone who receives one should check and see if it includes your license plate number and your state and check the location of the violation to see if you were actually there when it says you were. 

“If not, this probably isn't you. Don't send any money!,” state police said. 

Fortunately, Trooper Grant did not click the link for "lost tickets" that was included in the scam email.

"I did not click on that because I did not know what that would bring," she said.

If you receive an email with a fake ticket, delete it. 

If you want to be absolutely sure, call the "issuing" DMV, but do not use the contact information provided. Instead, look up the actual number, state police advise.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police
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Super PAC Millions Flow Into Key Senate Races


Deep-pocketed Super PACs are pouring tens of millions of dollars into key U.S. Senate races, outspending the candidates themselves in several states, according to an NBC analysis of Federal Elections Commission data.

Since January, Super PACs have spent just over $100 million in nine Senate races that are rated a toss-up by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report. Those nine races could determine control of the Senate: If Hillary Clinton wins the White House and Democrats flip four seats, the Democrats will control the Senate, with newly elected Vice President Tim Kaine breaking ties.

Those races are in Nevada, where Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid is retiring, and for Republican-held seats in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Super PACs, which can raise unlimited amounts for federal elections but can’t coordinate with candidates, are focusing on four of those key races: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nevada and New Hampshire. The other races, particularly Illinois and Wisconsin, where Republican incumbents are struggling to survive in Democratic-leaning states, are getting little attention.

“They’re simply allocating to the most competitive races,” said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. “Illinois is wasted money. Pennsylvania is highly competitive, and it’s a very expensive state.”

Republican incumbents Mark Kirk of Illinois and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin have been considered dead from the start, Sabato said. That’s why the Super PACs are spending most of their money elsewhere.

“Ohio is supposed to be one of the most competitive races of the cycle so outside groups went in early and have been spending heavily,” said Jennifer Duffy, senior editor at the Cook Political Report. “It has started to taper off as Democrats realize that they are too far behind to win.”

Super PACs have spent $31 million in Pennsylvania this year, most of it for ads trashing one-term Republican Sen. Pat Toomey or his Democratic opponent, Katie McGinty.

That’s five times more than Toomey and McGinty together spent on their own campaigns through June 30.

They’ve spent $29 million in neighboring Ohio – most of that to bury former Democratic congressman Ted Strickland, who is trying to unseat Republican Sen. Rob Portman.

Together Portman and Strickland spent less than $4 million through June 30.

Super PAC money began surging into the Senate contests in April, after Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump locked up the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations. Since then, with the exception of a single $50 million expenditure for Trump in June, most of the Super PAC money generally has flowed into Senate races.

“It isn't unusual that groups didn't start spending (on Senate races) until May,” Duffy said. “That expenditures on Senate races is outpacing the presidential contest is unusual, but not surprising. Once it became clear that Trump was the GOP nominee, a lot of the establishment money went into saving the Senate majority.”

Republicans Super PACs are dominating the spending spree. Through the end of August, Republican-leaning groups spent $67 million supporting GOP candidates and attacking Democrats in the toss-up races. Democratic groups spent $36 million.

They’ve spent most of that money, about $8 of every $10, opposing the enemy rather than supporting friendly candidates.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Russian Meteorologists Rescued After Trapped by Polar Bears


After two weeks of being surrounded by polar bears, five meteorologists were rescued from their weather station on a remote Russian island late Tuesday night.

A research vessel frightened about a dozen polar bears away from the area -- about 2,800 miles from Moscow, on the Izvestiy TSIK Islands -- with its helicopter.

Though the meteorologists had a year's worth of food, they had run out of signal flares to scare away the bears.

Some of the bears were camped right outside of the remote station and had eaten the meteorologists' guard dog.

The rescuers, with Russia's state-run oil firm Rosneft, restocked the station with signal flares and puppies, which will be used to deter bears when they are larger.

The polar bears typically leave the Arctic island in the summer but appeared to be stranded due to the melting ice, in what the supervisor of the station called an indication of climate change.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

ACC Pulls Championships From North Carolina Over Bathroom Law


One day after the NCAA voted to move championship tournaments and other games from the state of North Carolina over a controversial law that some say can lead to discrimination against LGBT people, the Atlantic Coast Conference has followed suit.

The ACC Council of Presidents voted Wednesday to relocate all of the league's tournaments and championship games from the state for the 2016-17 year, citing HB2's inconsistency with the ACC "values of equality, diversity, inclusion and non-discrimination."

"Every one of our 15 universities is strongly committed to these values and therefore, we will continue to host ACC Championships at campus sites."

Both Florida State University and the University of Miami are ACC member schools.

The law requires transgender people to use restrooms at schools and government buildings corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates, and not the one they identify with. It also excludes gender identity and sexual orientation from local and statewide antidiscrimination protections. HB2 was signed into law earlier this year by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who has defended it as a commonsense safety and security measure.

“Today’s decision is one of principle, and while this decision is the right one, we recognize there will be individuals and communities that are supportive of our values as well as our championship sites that will be negatively affected,” said ACC commissioner John Swofford. “Hopefully, there will be opportunities beyond 2016-17 for North Carolina neutral sites to be awarded championships.”

The ACC was scheduled to hold 14 of its 21 championship events in North Carolina this academic year, with 10 of those at neutral sites and the other four on the campuses of Wake Forest (field hockey), Duke (fencing), North Carolina (softball) and N.C. State (wrestling).

The first of those neutral-site events, which are pre-determined championship locations regardless of the teams competing, was men's and women's cross country that was set for Oct. 28 in Cary.

This action by the ACC is the latest in a steady stream of public and business backlash against the law.

The NBA moved its 2017 All-Star Game to New Orleans instead of hosting it in Charlotte as originally scheduled because of the law. Duke's men's basketball schedule had to be reconfigured when Albany backed out due to that state's travel ban, and the Vermont women's basketball team has canceled a December trip to play North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

Entertainers like Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam and Ringo Starr have canceled plans to play in North Carolina. And PayPal reversed plans to open a 400-employee operation center in Charlotte.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: AP

UNC Football Student Accused of Rape Turns Self In


A junior linebacker at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who accused of sexual battery and assault on a female student  turned himself in Wednesday, NBC News reported.

Allen Artis, 21, was suspended from the football team after his accuser, a fellow student, publicly came forward in a news conference Tuesday.

Delaney Robinson, 19, said the incident occurred this past Valentine's Day. She contacted police, the university and got a rape kit but she became frustrated when the university's investigation appeared to stall.

The Orange County Magistrate's office issued arrest warrants for Artis for misdemeanor assault on a female and misdemeanor sexual battery. Artis was released on a $5,000 bond. Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall told NBC News on Tuesday that its case was still open pending lab results and further investigation.

Photo Credit: Orange County Sheriff's Office

Heavy Delays Following Tractor Trailer Jackknifed on I-91 in Windsor Locks

Arrest in Fla. Mosque Arson


A man has been arrested in the arson attack at a Fort Pierce mosque, authorities said Wednesday.

Joseph Schreiber, 32, was arrested in the attack, St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office officials announced at a news conference.

Authorities said Schreiber faces felony first-degree arson. Officials classified the attack as a hate crime.

St. Lucie Sheriff's deputies say tips from the community led to the Schreiber's arrest Wednesday. He was picked up by police while walking in Port St. Lucie.

Officials revealed that surveillance video showing the suspect on a motorcycle also helped them connect the dots. Authorities also conducted a search warrant at the suspect's home after the arrest.

No one was injured in the fire, which was started late Sunday at the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce and burned for more than five hours before it was extinguished Monday.

The surveillance video from the mosque showed a man on a motorcycle approach the building with a bottle of liquid and some papers, then leave when there was a flash.

The fire was started on the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The mosque had been attended by Orlando nightclub gunman Omar Mateen.

Authorities said Schreiber has made anti-Islamic comments on his Facebook page. They also said he has a criminal past. 

If convicted, Schreiber faces a minimum 30-year prison sentence.

US to Boost Number of Refugees to 110K in 2017


The Obama administration is planning to increase the number of refugees it will allow into the U.S. in 2017 to at least 110,000, NBC News reported. 

It's a 30 percent increase over the current fiscal year and a more than 57-percent jump since 2015. The increase "is consistent with our belief that all countries should do more to help the world's most vulnerable people," a State Department official told NBC News.

Of the 110,000 refugees the U.S. intends to admit, at least 40,000 are from the Near East and South Asia, a White House senior administration official said. Most have been trying to flee the Syrian civil war.

The administration's move comes as many GOP lawmakers and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump warn that Islamic terrorists could be hiding among the refugees.

Photo Credit: AP

Bronze Statue Stolen From Colt Park in Coltsville


A bronze statue erected at the national park in Coltsville was stolen over the weekend, officials said. 

The city discovered the Colt coat-of-arms statue, located at the entrance of Colt Park off Wethersfield Avenue, on Sunday. 

The bronze crest was pried off the Samuel Colt monument and found late Wednesday at a metal recycler on the same street.

The crest was broken into pieces by mistake by a recycler and not by the person or people who stole it, James L. Griffin, director of the Sam and Elizabeth Colt Industrial and Frontier Heritage Center in Hartford said.

The theft has been reported to the Hartford Police.

Griffin said police do know who the suspect is but he is not sure if police have taken any action. 

Photo Credit: Hartford.gov

New Documents Linked to Trinity College Collapse Released


New documents linked to the Trinity College porch collapse obtained by the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters reveal the building's safety violations.

More than two dozen trinity college students were sent to the hospital with broken bones and other injuries.

The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters were able to obtain the first glimpse of a violation report filled out by City of Hartford inspectors within minutes of that terrifying rear porch collapse at 1713-1715 Broad Street.  The third floor balcony was “pancaked” onto the second floor balcony, before crashing to the ground, according to city officials.

Both balconies were filled with students.

At 11:26 p.m. Saturday night, minutes after the collapse, city officials cited, "violations and unsafe structures and equipment."

Inspector P. Looney noted, “The second and third floor are not protected from opening at this time."  The action needed to resolve the issue is to "make application for removal or reconstruction of exterior rear porches. Do not start any work until permits are applied for and issued immediately, secure second and third floor rear exterior doors to prevent use at this time."

On Wednesday, Trinity school officials confirmed Shimkus, Murphy and Lemkuil Real Estate Incorporated is the property manager. In a statement from their attorney, "SML Real Estate Inc. has contracted with Trinity College for many years to provide safe and affordable rental services and routine maintenance of numerous off campus properties owned by the college. The company does not provide nor contract for structural inspections and improvements to those buildings."

NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters learned the City of Hartford has no documents indicating there were ever any decks installed on the property but it's unclear when the decks were put up. 

Trinity College released this update at on Wednesday afternoon: 

Trinity College is investigating the cause of the accident, and we are working with structural engineers and claims adjusters who are on campus over the next few days to evaluate the safety of all college-owned properties in which our community members are living. The property manager, David Lemkuil of SML Real Estate, Inc., is working with the college to assess the situation. Given the level of due diligence necessary to conduct a thorough review, we expect to receive additional information within the next two to three weeks.

Our priority continues to be the needs of our students and our faculty will continue to be as supportive as possible in making accommodations for students with issues directly impacting their academic work including physical injuries, concussions, and emotional needs.

Photo Credit: WVIT

Much Cooler Weather to Follow Record Warmth


High pressure will be in control for most of this week, meaning no widespread beneficial rain is expected.

A new record of 88 degrees was set in Bridgeport today. Windsor Locks remains a few degrees shy of a record, sitting in the upper 80s.

Isolated storms continue to move through Connecticut this evening.

It turns much cooler on Thursday and Friday, when highs will only be in the lower and middle 70s. It will feel like fall!

Overnight low temperatures will fall into the 40s late this week.

Clouds will once again increase Saturday, but any shower activity should hold off until Saturday night or Sunday.

Highs temperatures will be in the upper 70s.

While a shower may linger into Monday morning, much of Monday features improvement with highs near 80.

Stratford Police Shoot Man Who Fired at Officers: Police


State police are investigating after two Stratford police officers shot at a man who opened fire on them Wednesday morning.

Stratford police said they responded to Russian Beach in the Lordship section of town at 4:45 a.m. to check on reports of a man with a gun. When they arrived, he fired at police officers and the two officers shot back, hitting the suspect in the arm, according to police.

The man fell to the ground after he was shot, according to Statford police. He was treated at the scene and transported to Bridgeport Hospital, where he is listed in stable condition. 

The State Police Western District Major Crime unit and Fairfield Judicial District are investigating. 

Stratford police have not released the names of anyone involved and said the two officers who fired their guns have been placed on paid administrative duty during the investigation, following department protocol.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Woman Gets Back Wedding Ring She Mistakenly Donated


A woman who inadvertently donated her wedding band, along with her change, to the Tolland firefighters’ Muscular Dystrophy Association fundraiser has her ring back after some anxious moments.

Bonnie Murphy came upon the fundraiser at the Route 195-Rhodes Road intersection Saturday and emptied her coins into the boot to make a donation.

What she didn't realize at the time was that her wedding band was included with the change.

Murphy had taken the wedding band off because it was tight on the humid day and she put it in her purse for what she thought would be safekeeping. 

After realizing what she did, Murphy started calling fire departments to figure out which ones were collecting for the MDA.

As Murphy was calling around in the hopes of finding her ring, the fire department took to social media in an attempt to find out whose wedding ring they had.

"We found a wedding ring inside our boot from the MDA Fill the Boot. Please contact Public Safety Officer Fichera if you lost a ring today," the Facebook post said.

When Public Safety Officer Angelo Fichera received a voicemail from Murphy, he called her back immediately. She described the ring and the engraving and was extremely grateful and appreciative when she learned the fire department had her ring.

Firefighters then made arrangements and got the ring back to Murphy on Wednesday.

Firefighters raised $5,100 to fight muscular dystrophy through the fundraiser.

Photo Credit: Tolland Fire Department
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Students Warned to Avoid Path to School After Bear Sighting


Students at Bugbee School in West Hartford have been warned to stay away from a path that leads to the elementary school because of a bear in the woods. 

Someone spotted a bear near the end of the path, at Birchwood Drive, on Tuesday and the school sent a warning not to use the path and instead use a detour, which adds three or four minutes to the walk. 

A DEEP spokesman said the bear seen near the path is very large, but very gentle and has been in West Hartford for years. 

Residents of the area said they have been hearing about the bear. 

“I have not seen this bear but I heard from some friends and neighbors that it was very large,” Laura Punt, of West Hartford, said. 

“They see you, they run the opposite direction,” Beth Graywolf, of West Hartford, said. “I've never been bothered by them.” 

DEEP has logged 245 sightings of bears in West Hartford over the past year and between 500 and 700 black bears in the whole state. 

Anna McFaul, of West Hartford, said she thinks people have to share their space. 

“I don't know if all my neighbors feel the same way but what can you do about it?,” she said.

Photo Credit: Matthew Lakenbach

2 Dead, 2 Injured in Wyoming Nursing Home Shooting


A man living at a Wyoming nursing home shot one person dead and wounded two more before killing himself as cops closed in Wednesday, NBC News reported.

Larry Rosenberg, 77, opened fire with a .22-caliber handgun at the Heritage Court Apartments in Cheyenne, where he lived, according to a Cheyenne Police Department spokesman.

The gunfire began around 11 a.m. at the sprawling facility, for reasons still unclear.

Rosenberg fled after shooting one person inside the the residence and the others in the parking lot, police said. The chase ended about three miles from the nursing home, when police caught up with the suspect.

Photo Credit: Cheyenne Police

FBI Worries Scam Could Funnel Money to Terrorists


An FBI warning has been issued about a scam targeting companies around the globe and here in Connecticut.

The businesses being targeted are losing tens of thousands of dollars and not only do they lose a significant amount of money, but it's not clear where the money is going. 

"Our concern is they’re being funneled to fund terrorist organizations to fund drug cartels, to fund expanding Cyber Criminal organizations & you know what? When you have money there’s a lot more stuff you can do," stated Supervisory Special Agent Martin McBride with the FBI New Haven Field Office. 

McBride said the FBI field office in New Haven is highly concerned with this scam called the “executive email compromise," which targets law and manufacturing firms. 

"In the state of Connecticut, we’ve had cases where they've lost as little as $80,000 and as much as $1.5 million, with the average of several cases around $400,000,” McBride said.

"This exact type of crime happened to a company in Connecticut that we responded to, we investigated. We were able to track the perps down to Nigeria," stated Hartford-based attorney Ryan McGuigan.

But feds say the scam is not just in Nigeria, but everywhere. 

"Companies and individuals have to be very careful about what they click on, on the Internet because literally its how it begins with curious clicking," McGuigan told NBC Connecticut.  

"The red flag is the body of the message telling you to do something different. If they’re telling you to change anything financial,” added McBride.

In one case, scammers hacked the email account of the CEO or other top executives and then direct a subordinate to wire funds to what turns out to be a phony account controlled by the suspects.

"They were able to get the dot com address of the CEO and put slight changes to it," McGuigan added.

McBride created these dummy accounts for the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters and  “l” in Jill Konopka's name was changed to the number one to create a look-alike domain. The real thing can then be copied then pasted to victims, so simply.

"It’s not complicated in its structure, but complicated in its application. They have to employ hundreds of people on computer terminals because it happened over a number of years. It was pervasive, like a virus and even after we alerted the FBI it cont’d to happen over and over and over again," according to McGuigan.

Another version of the scam is when a business’s email is cracked and used to blast a bill to a legitimate customer directing them to wire funds to an account controlled by the scammers.

“When people don’t believe a $400,000 loss to a big business is a big deal who cares? Well, we care because that money put in the wrong hands can support all kinds of nefarious activities against us," stated McBride.

McBride urges that corporations take simple steps, aside from email, to verify requests for money. 

"Pick up the telephone, send a text message, do something you have control over," McBride suggests.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
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