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Mall of America Closed for T-Giving


The nation's largest shopping mall has officially taken a stand against Thanksgiving Day shopping, as Mall of America announced Wednesday it will be closed for the holiday. 

The mall tweeted Wednesday morning that it will be closed for Thanksgiving, saying it is "pleased to give this day back to our 15,000 employees and their families."

"See you Black Friday," the mall wrote. 

Last year, stores like Target and Wal-Mart announces they would open their doors for the November national holiday.

Meanwhile, companies like Nordstrom have remained closed. 

“We've been talking about this for months, looking at the numbers, looking at the pros and the cons,” Jill Renslow, the mall's senior vice president of marketing and business development, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “We're excited to give this day back to our employees so they can celebrate with their families.”

Photo Credit: AP, File
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13-Year-Old Linked to Clown Threat in Prospect Arrested


A 13-year-old who is linked to a threatening clown message posted on social media towards schools has been arrested, state police said. 

Several students had informed staff at Long River Middle School in Prospect of Instagram postings made on Oct. 4.

The postings involved photos of clowns that targeted schools in Prospect, Beacon Falls, Waterbury and New Haven but did not show a specific threat of violence, police said. 

The Instagram account was determined to be a student from Region 16 School District who resides in Beacon Falls. 

Based on the alarm the posts caused, the student was charged with disorderly conduct and is schedule to appear in court on Oct. 20. 

Evacuations Underway in South Carolina As Matthew Nears


A massive evacuation effort is underway in South Carolina as Hurricane Matthew, the strongest Atlantic storm in nearly a decade, churns off the coast.

Power Outage Knocks Out Traffic Lights in Bristol

Bezos' Rocket Is 1 Step Closer to Safe Space Travel


Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is inching closer to sending humans into space, after a rocket booster and emergency escape capsule made by one of his companies safely landed during a test on Wednesday, NBC News reported.

Bezos' company, Blue Origin, is testing the New Shepard rocket to determine if space tourists can safely get out of a spacecraft that's gone up in flames.

Despite predictions the test in Texas would fail, the rocket booster separated as planned. Safely evacuating passengers is key in order to send humans into space.

Just last month, Bezos shared his plans to introduce a new rocket family that could send humans and satellites safely into space by the end of the decade. This is the fifth time since November that the rocket launched, went into sub-orbit and landed its booster.

Photo Credit: Blue Origin
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Police Determine Bristol Clown Threat Originated in Florida


Bristol police will increase their presence at Bristol Central High School on Thursday as they investigate a clown-related threat against the school.

While police said they have determined that the treat originated in Florida, they still plan to be at the school to ensure safety.

The threat did not make a specific threat of violence against students, but did mention Bristol Central by name, according to police.

With assistance of Florida law enforcement, Bristol Police is no longer considering the message as a threat and said the local part of the investigation is closed. 

An image of the post on Instagram said "I am coming for you."

Authorities in Florida will determine whether to take action against the juvenile.

Photo Credit: Instagram

DMV Commissioner Says AAA Violating Contract


Connecticut DMV commissioner said AAA Northeast -who announced that it will no longer offer driver licensing services for non-members- is violating its contract with the state.

According to a release from the governor’s office, AAA Northeast has offered licensing services to all Connecticut residents since 2001, regardless of membership. 

Commissioner Michael Bzdyra said the contract, which was executed in 2011, states that AAA Northeast "may terminate this agreement upon 60 days written notice to the DMV contract representative."

In a letter written to AAA Northeast, Bzdyra said the company failed to provide 60 days' notice prior to terminating these services.

"This will serve as formal notification that you are in default of the contract and must take corrective action immediately," Bzdyra wrote in the letter. 

The DMV is requiring AAA Northeast to offer services to members and non-members before submitting a written termination notification 60 days before the effective date. 

Failure to take actions by Oct. 14 will result in legal action as a result of AAA Northeast's breach of contract, the commissioner said. 

AAA Allied, which services Hartford, Middlesex, New London, Tolland and Windham counties, will continue to service all residents.

Residents in the counties where AAA is ending divers licenses services would still be able to go to AAA Allied offices and get the services.

In a letter to AAA Southern New England President Mark Shaw, Malloy called the decision “unacceptable.”

“AAA Northeast’s decision to stop servicing non-members is rather shocking since Connecticut has always valued our working relationship with AAA,” the letter stated.

Malloy said if AAA Northeast does not reconsider continuing services to non-members, he would tell the DMV to take legal steps to resolve the matter.

The DMV released the following statement on the matter:

"We are disappointed in the actions of AAA Northeast and hope it reverses the decision, preserving AAA Northeast’s reputation and commitment to the citizens of Connecticut. We remain fully confident in our partnership with the state’s other AAA organization known as AAA Allied. It has been a strong partner since 1992 and has provided high-quality license services to all citizens, whether AAA members or not, when they have visited AAA Allied offices. We know this same level of service will continue as they open their doors to the customers of AAA Northeast."

In response to the governor's letter, AAA Northeast said it can "no longer effectively serve the volume of DMV customers visiting our offices without negatively impacting services to our members."

AAA Northeast said the requirement for renewed licenses to be REAL ID compliant has added as much as 50 percent to the time needed to complete transaction, plus the number of non-member transactions has increased 33 percent over the last five years. 

"The combination of these factors has created a situation that adversely affects the ability of AAA to deliver the high levels of service that our members have come to expect," a spokeswoman for AAA Northeast said.

AAA Allied also released a statement, which read in part, "The AAA Allied offices in Connecticut will NOT be affected by this and will continue to welcome and serve the public – both members and non-members alike. This means all AAA offices in Hartford, Middlesex, New London, Tolland and Windham Counties will continue to provide licensing services without interruption or change."

Study Says No, You Can't Live Forever


If you wanted to live until, say, the year 2140, don't get your hopes up. A new study from the Einstein College of Medicine found that human beings' maximum lifespan is about 115 years, NBC News reported.

Jan Vijg, a genetics professor who was an author of the study, said his team looked through global databases on lifespans and found improvements in mortality peak at the age group of about 100 years.

"We show that improvements in survival with age tend to decline after age 100, and that the age at death of the world's oldest person has not increased since the 1990s. Our results strongly suggest that the maximum lifespan of humans is fixed and subject to natural constraints," the study said.

While the idea that humans cannot live forever isn't new, it wasn't always easy to back it up with evidence. But with countries keeping better records, Vijg said it's easier to find data to back it up.

Photo Credit: AP, File

Anthem Renews Contract with Yale Medicine


Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield said it has renewed its contract with Yale Medicine.

The announcement insures that covered services by Yale Medicine providers to Anthem members will remain in-network without interruption.

"Our arrangement will create a tighter integration that will promote more proactive and coordinated management of Yale Medicine’s patients across the care continuum," Anthem said in a statement.

Terms of the contract will not be released. 

Policy Change Leaves Haitians Caught Between Disaster and Deportation


A sudden recent shift in American deportation policy may have dire implications for thousands of Haitians, and cause a bleak homecoming for many in the wake of destruction brought by Hurricane Matthew, NBC News reported.

The hurricane was billed as the most powerful storm to touch the Atlantic in nearly a decade as it made landfall in Haiti early Tuesday morning. At least 19 people were confirmed dead by the time the storm passed over the island of Hispaniola.

And thousands more Haitians who are currently in America may soon face fallout from the disaster, all for a new change in United States immigration policies that critics warn is ill-fated and poorly timed.

Photo Credit: AP

Mystery Tour Company Refunds Trip Months After Canceling


A group of friends who signed up for a mystery tour got an early an unexpected surprise when their trip was cancelled weeks before departure.

The company, Silver Mill Tours, said they couldn’t follow through with the scheduled trip because they didn’t have enough passengers. In a letter, they promised Carol Zenczak and her friends they’d receive a full refund, worth 1,800 dollars.

“And then we waited, and waited, and waited,” said Zenczak. “And after two months, we started sending emails to [Silver Mill] asking what the problem was.”

Two months after that, Zenczak reached out to NBC Connecticut Responds.

“I’m very disappointed with the company because we would have used them again,” said Zenczak. “And it’s our money—it belongs to us, so we just want it back.”

NBC Connecticut called and emailed a Silver Mill representative, asking about the status of the refund.

The spokesperson said the company has received an unusual amount of cancellations and that they always intended on following through with their promise.

The very next day, they did.

Zenczak and her friends received their money back.

“I can put it to a lot of good uses,” said Zenczak. “The holidays are coming and, like I said, I could put it towards something for next year.”

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Critics Renew Call for DCF Commissioner to Resign


The latest report released by the Office of the Child Advocate has renewed some loud calls coming from Republicans for the commissioner of the state Department of Children and Families, Joette Katz. to either be removed by Gov.  Dannel Malloy, or for her to resign.

Katz was one of Malloy’s first appointees when he attained the office of the governor in 2010 and she was reappointed in 2014 and confirmed in 2015, to the objections of Sen. Len Fasano, the minority leader of the State Senate.

Fasano said Wednesday that he thinks Malloy listened to him during the most recent confirmation, though he disagreed with the outcome. Fasano wrote a letter to the governor urging him to not resubmit Katz for the position.

“She was either one of the last or the last appointment after his reelection and I think that’s because he did take my words to heart,” Fasano said.

Fasano now says Katz, whose track record and handling of the department he describes as “dysfunctional,” has to go.

According to records examined by NBC Connecticut, there have been multiple issues within DCF under the watch of Katz.

In particular there have been several deaths that investigators and the Office of the Child Advocate determined to be “unnatural.”

One of those included the death of Athena Angeles in November 2011. At the time, Angeles was a 3-year-old who was beaten by her mother’s boyfriend, and a doctor and childcare workers had reported warning signs that didn’t lead to further supervision by DCF.

Another case involved the death of 20-month-old Ayden Baskay, who was beaten by his father, and his mother was responsible for keeping the child’s father away from Ayden.

On the issue of the case involving Baby “D,” who state officials said nearly died after DCF put him in foster care, Fasano said the evidence in the case reflects a reckless pattern.

“In this case it is a tremendous responsibility to this child who had two broken arms, 18 pounds, couldn’t lift up his head, developmental disabilities, also had a brain hemorrhage from some time ago and we’re saying we’re doing our job? We’re not doing our job! These are kids!,” Fasano said.

In a statement, the governor’s communications director pointed to recent significant strides the department has made when it comes to its handling of individual cases.

The department has been under federal oversight for decades, and there have been recent indications that such control might not go away, but could ease in the coming years if progress continues to be made.

Kelly Donnelly, speaking on behalf of Malloy said in a statement, “The fact is that the federal court monitor has said that DCF has ‘made and sustained progress,' and plaintiffs in the Juan F. case, a suit brought against the state seeking better care for at-risk youth, have said that DCF is ‘moving in the right direction to reform the system for thousands of children.’ DCF is finally moving towards exiting federal court oversight after 25 years. And while there is no doubt more work to be done to ensure we improve outcomes for all children, this is most assuredly progress—any assertion otherwise is just not correct.”

Flying Frozen Yogurt Delivered by Drone


A drone delivered frozen yogurt to college students in Holland, Michigan, Tuesday. Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt did a test run delivering the froyo to students at Hope College. The service, which is a part of a pilot delivery program, officially started by appointment only. It took about 15 minutes to travel a little under a mile.

Photo Credit: WOOD-TV

School Funding Walk-In Protests Happening Across Connecticut


Parents, teachers and students who are concerned about how public schools are funded are holding walk-ins at schools in Connecticut today, as well as across the nation, in protest and to call on leaders to better fund the schools.

The nearly 200 walk-ins nationwide are sponsored by a national organization called the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, which is pushing back against the so-called privatization of the nation’s public school systems, limited funding, an over-emphasis on standardized tests and zero tolerance disciplinary procedures.

"We would like to begin the conversation with the governor and the legislature to take a look at how we fund education," Peter Borofsky, a teacher at Rockville High School in Vernon, said. "Let's look for a common-sense approach to how we can better the opportunities for students in Connecticut."

Last month a judge ruled that the way Connecticut funds its public schools is unconstitutional and said differences in funding among districts in wealthier and poorer towns led to achievement gaps.

The attorney general has appealed the decision.

"Equal is not synonymous with equitable," Sheila Cohen, president of the Connecticut Education Association, said. 

Gov. Dannel Malloy's issued a statement.

“Like the students, teachers and parents raising their voices today, Governor Malloy believes that the time to act is now. We have been presented with an opportunity to seriously address the issue of fair funding in our educational system. We must have this dialogue together so we can continue to improve outcomes for our students,” Malloy said in a statement.

This is the third round of walk-ins this year after similar events in February and May.

Walk-ins are happening at Rockville High School, as well as in West Haven, Meriden and Bridgeport.

In Vernon, around 100 people are expected to participate and hold signs that say “stop underfunding our schools.”

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

2 Shot in Hartford Last Night


Two people were shot in Hartford last night and police are trying to identify the shooters. 

Police responded to the Bedford Mall area of Bedford Street at 8:37 p.m. Wednesday after officers heard gunshots and the shot spotter gunshot detection system recorded 10 shots. 

Officers found one victim behind 116 Bedford St. with a gunshot wound in his ankle and another victim in front of 135 Bedford St. with gunshot wounds to his leg. 

The two victims were transported to St. Francis Hospital, where they were listed in stable condition. 

Both victims said they thought the shots came from gray car that fled south on Brook Street and police found a crime scene at the intersection of Brook and Winter streets. They, they located three spent 9mm casings and six spent .40 caliber casings. 

Hartford Police Major Crimes Division was notified and responded.

No Cameras at Kardashian West Crime Scene: Source


The Hôtel de Pourtalès in Paris, where Kim Kardashian West was robbed at gunpoint on Monday, was not equipped with security cameras, a high-level judicial source close to the investigation told NBC News on Thursday.

The source said investigators have to use footage from surrounding areas to profile the five criminals. In addition to lack of surveillance, the hotel only had one concierge to monitor threats, making it an easy target.

Information also came to light this week that the security company of Kardashian West's bodyguard filed for bankruptcy just 10 weeks before the robbery. Pascal Duvier's German-based firm, ProtectSecurity, was dissolved on July 28, according to court records from the German city of Heidelberg.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Mother of Child in DCF Abuse Case Planning to Sue


The birth mother of a baby boy in the center of a Department of Children and Families investigation is planning to sue the state agency. The state’s Office of the Child Advocate said the child nearly died after DCF put him in foster care.

On Tuesday, the OCA released a 62-page investigative report that states they found a lack of appropriate and lawful practices by DCF in the case of the little boy who nearly died of starvation in November 2015.

"He's definitely been through so much and it’s very heartbreaking for what he's going through and being forced to go through alone," said 24-year-old Kirsten Fauquet, the mother of the 2-year-old NBC Connecticut is identifying as “Baby D.”

Baby D was placed with relatives as a foster family after being removed from his mother in June 2015. Five months later, a doctor found the child had broken bones and he was ‘significantly emaciated.’

Fauquet and the Office of the Child Advocate are trying to understand how DCF employees, who visited the child several times, did not notice the child was suffering. 

“I’m worried about what the permanent damages might be,” Fauquet said.

According to the Office of the Child Advocate's investigation, case records repeatedly document that Baby D was sleeping during home visits by DCF and a DCF worker stated she did not “interact” with the child "because that is not part of her job.”

“That’s their job title," Fauquet said. "To (p)reserve families, to protect children -- at least that’s what (Commissioner Joette) Katz keeps saying, but yet none of that is happening.”

The OCA said even though the foster parents' preliminary background revealed a prior history of both child and protective service concerns and criminal conduct, the child was placed in the home anyway.

The OCA said by law, DCF should have prohibited the placement of that child there.

“Many of them, including managers in that DCF region, did not know what the law was and had a lot of mistakes and assumption about what was permitted and what wasn’t and how that comes to be? That’s a systemic concern,” State Child Advocate, Sarah Eagan said.

Fauquet agrees.

"You’re going to go place an innocent child who cannot stand for himself with these people? And just because they’re relatives does not mean it’s not your job to watch," she said.

Fauquet said she is now worried about the permanent damage to her son. She said he has developed seizures and must be on a strict diet, which wasn't the case when he lived with her.

Commissioner Katz released a statement Tuesday, which said in part: "The Department is taking all possible steps to ensure that the problems identified have been addressed, and we will continue to evaluate and adjust these actions to achieve our goal of safely maintaining children in care with kin whenever possible. In addition, the work with this family was transferred to other offices."

Three DCF employees have been suspended without pay and a fourth has retired.

Fauquet said she has written to Commissioner Katz, a bondsman and Gov. Dannel Malloy for help, but she has not heard back from any of them.

Baby D along with his four other siblings, were taken into custody by the Department of Children and Families in June 2015

Fauquet said the children were taken away from her when she was not feeling well.

"Because I wasn't feeling so well, you know, they claimed there was food on the floor, but really I just fed my kids lunch. They were dirty because they just ate lunch so I didn't get time to clean up yet," she said.

Fauquet said, thanks to Baby D's family who has been supportive of him during this time, he has made it this far, but he has a long journey of healing ahead of him. Fauquet said he is now going into his sixth foster home.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Infant Dies at Norwalk Daycare


An infant has died after being transported from a Norwalk daycare to the hospital, police said. 

Police were dispatched Wednesday to the daycare on 9 Hunters Lane and dispatchers told responding officers that CPR was in progress.

The infant was then transported to Norwalk Hospital and pronounced dead sometime later. 

The special victims unit is investigating the death.

No other details were immediately available. 

NBC Connecticut attempted to speak to the people inside the daycare as well as with neighbors, but no one wished to comment.

We also reached out via email to Norwalk Mayor Harry Rillings for any additional information, but the mayor did not immediately respond.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Teen Charged in Car Theft Admits to Being Part of Car Theft Ring: Police


A teen accused of stealing a car from a South Windsor resident and using a stolen credit card admitted to being part of a group of youths from Hartford who have been stealing cars, according to South Windsor Police. 

Luis Rodriguez, 18, of Hartford, is accused of stealing a car from South Windsor in August and using the credit card that was in the car. 

When detectives interviewed Rodriquez after identifying him as the suspect, he admitted to being part of a group of youths from Hartford who would drive around different towns and go through unlocked cars to look for keys or key fobs so they could take the cars, police said. 

South Windsor police obtained a warrant and served it on Wednesday. 

Rodriguez had been charged with third-degree conspiracy to commit burglary, conspiracy to commit larceny in the first degree, conspiracy to commit larceny in the sixth degree and illegal use of a credit card.

He was held on $25,000 surety bond and is due in court today.

Photo Credit: South Windsor Police

Texas Boy Set on Fire by Other Kids


Texas family says special-needs 10-year-old boy was intentionally set on fire by two other children.

Photo Credit: WOAI-TV
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