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Science Explains Why Fear Can Be Fun


Every year around Halloween, millions of people all across the country pay to have other people scare the living daylights out of them, leading us to ask one very important question: Why?

Photo Credit: NBC News

Small Businesses Targeting Outside of Downtown Mystic


Downtown Mystic is known for the shopping, restaurants and being an all-around destination. But some new store owners said they're targeting the blocks just outside Main Street.

Bethany Perkins opened up B. Carver's Home & Gifts on Broadway Avenue.

"It's a very local feeling. I wanted it to be like a Mercantile," Perkins said.

According to Perkins, unlike the crowded atmosphere of downtown, she offers a unique experience, and wants to better target locals.

"Parking is ample," she said. "It gets very congested downtown and I wanted it so that locals didn't have to go through downtown to run in and grab a quick hostess gift."

It seems to be a new trend for businesses in the area. Red Head Heron Antiques and Non is opening next door. The owner said for her store, parking is critical. But it's convenient to be just a few blocks from downtown.

Across the street, there's M/Bar. A new coffee and wine bar in a converted gas station.

"We're right at the end of Route 27, so it's ideal in that respect," said Michael Connery, a principal with M/Bar. "The access is very good, we have our own parking lot."

Real estate agent Judi Caracausa of Market Realty LLC said property in Mystic rents out quickly and it's pricey. Side streets are now a sought after and cheaper option for new businesses.

"You can still walk to historic downtown, you can walk to the train station… there's very unique shopping, unique boutiques," Caracausa said.

But the side streets of Mystic are filling up, too, according to Caracausa, because Mystic is a destination for both tourists and locals.

Perkins said she wants the whole neighborhood to be a destination for the people of Mystic. A place for people to stop in, instead of pass through.

"We need a little neighborhood name too," Perkins said.

Mystic Man Questions Fitness Tracker’s Durability


What happens when your fitness tracker can't keep up with you?

A Mystic man turned to NBC Connecticut Responds.

Jeff Howard bought his Fitbit Surge in October 2015.

"It was supposed to be the top of the line. It tracked everything, exercise, GPS," he said.

After about three months, Howard says the watch band started to show signs of wear on the underside of the tracker where the screen meets the band.

"It just gets to the point that it has no stability anymore. It just doesn't stay together," he said.

Because the Surge is all one piece, Howard couldn’t just replace the band; he needed to replace the entire device. The Surge came with a one year warranty and Fitbit sent Howard a new one right away. But a few months later, Howard noticed the same thing happening again.

After having his Surge replaced three times, Howard asked if the company would send him a different model. Fitbit told Howard it could only send him another Surge and offered him 25 percent off his next purchase. With his warranty about to expire, Howard asked NBC Connecticut responds to help.

"You get things done. So I reached out to you by email and you responded pretty quick," he said.

We contacted the company with Howard's concerns. A few days later, he got a call.

"They offered to send me this new Fitbit, totally different. This is now their top of the line Fitbit. It's called the Blaze,” he said.

Howard believes his new Fitbit will be a better fit for him.

In response to our inquiry, a Fitbit spokesperson sent us this statement:

"The quality of Fitbit products and the health and safety of our customers are our top priorities. The experiences reported are not typical for the tens of millions of users around the world who enjoy our products every day. We conduct extensive testing and consult with top industry experts to develop stringent standards so that users can wear and enjoy our products.

We also are committed to delivering a superior customer experience. As with Mr. Howard, we respond quickly when customers report issues and strive to work closely with them through our customer service channels to ensure their satisfaction. If consumers have any questions or concerns, they can contact us at help.fitbit.com.

Fitbit trackers are water-resistant but to best preserve your band, we recommend that customers rinse the band with water but do not use soap, hand sanitizers, cleaning wipes or household cleaners to clean it, and that they also try to avoid exposure to any chemicals like sunscreen, alcohol, etc. For more wear and care tips, users can visit the webiste."

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

Pedestrian Struck on Berlin Turnpike in Newington


The Berlin Turnpike going southbound in Newington was shut down after a pedestrian was struck by a car on Thursday night, police said.

Newington Police said they were on the scene at the Berlin Turnpike and East Robbins Avenue for a one-car crash around 7 p.m.

The pedestrian was hit in front of Dunkin Donuts on 2386 Berlin Turnpike. Police found the man lying in the roadway suffereing from severe injuries, Newington Police said. 

The man was transported to the Hartford Hospital but the specifics of his injuries were not reported.

The driver is cooperating with police. 

Anyone who witnessed the accident is encouraged to contact Det. Leroy Feeney at (860) 594-6208.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Bristol Senate Race Pivotal to Senate Control


In some ways, the race for the 31st Senate district that includes Bristol, Plainville, Harwinton, Plymouth and Thomaston, includes a pair of relative newcomers.

The incumbent in the race, Republican Henri Martin, is finishing his first term in the Senate, while Mike Nicastro, the Democrat in the race, is running for his first try at a Senate seat.

"I think I've been very available to my constituents," Martin said of his brief time in the State Capitol. "There are some things I wish I could be more involved in, but I'm happy with my first term."

Martin, a real estate broker and owner of a storage facility in Bristol, is the ranking Republican on the children, veterans and banking committees and he's a member of the transportation committee.

Nicastro is an entrepreneur who's had a hand in numerous business ventures and teaches entrepreneurship at Central Connecticut State University.

Nicastro said he's running because Martin has been "invisible" as a member of the State Senate.

He said there has been no difference in the progress of Bristol and the district since the day Martin took office.

"He likes to point to the different bills he’s cosponsored, but anyone who knows the inside baseball understands that cosponsoring bills is like hitting the 'like' button on Facebook,” he said.

Nicastro said his business background is what makes him qualified to craft policies to make Connecticut more business friendly.

“I’ve been an entrepreneur, I’ve built companies. I started a company with six people that we grew to 2,200,” he said.

Martin said he's been focused on issues relating to children in the General Assembly and that fiscal issues have also taken up a lot of his time.

If reelected, he said he would fight to enforce the state's constitutional spending cap, which was enacted after the income tax was enacted more than 20 years ago.

He said many of the state's severe spending problems, like the current $1.5 projected shortfall, could be traced to not following the spending cap.

“Had we not done that today our budget would be $5.5 billion less, thus, not having to raise taxes so tell me, doesn’t that make sense that we should be addressing that first?,” he said.

Martin also said, as a former member of the Bristol City Council, and as a small business owner, he knows the burden of mandates from the state level, whether they're for local spending, or a regulation for businesses and he's the one who could remove the ones that are most onerous.

“Part of the equation here is that you’ve got address mandates that have become policy for the last 20-30 years,” he said.

There was a recent spat in the race involving a mailer paid for by the political arm of the Senate Republican Caucus that linked Nicastro to Gov. Dannel Malloy, even putting a photo of the two of them on one side, and a list of what looked like joint initiatives on the back.

The photo, however, was photo shopped and Nicastro even said he doesn't have any photos with Malloy.

"Honestly, when I was president of the Central Connecticut Chamber, we had our issues with the governor," Nicastro quipped.

He called the political move, "identity theft" meant to link him to the unpopular governor in the middle of a tight election.

Martin claimed no knowledge of the mailer, saying, "I had nothing to do with that."

But when asked whether it was fair to link any Democrats to Malloy, he didn't hold back.v

“They're part of the same team that has been controlling policies that have been coming out of Hartford for 38 out of the last 40 years. So we have to address changing those policies,” he said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Dakota Access Pipeline: 141 Activists Arrested


Authorities had arrested 141 people who were protesting a controversial North Dakota oil pipeline early on Friday, NBC News reported.

The arrests came after a more than six-hour standoff over the stretch of private land lying in pipeline's path, the Morton County Sheriff's Department said in a statement.

Demonstrators blockaded roads and bridges by setting fire to bales of hay and construction equipment. The sheriff's department said at least seven protesters used "sleeping dragon" devices, which typically involve PVC or other pipe, to physically latch themselves onto vehicles and large concrete. According to police, some protesters threw rocks and improvised fire bombs as law enforcement officers closed in.

Police forces responded by using pepper spray and firing bean bags on protesters.

Photo Credit: AP

Labor Union Leader Resigns Amid Controversial Dr. Petit Ad


The labor union leader responsible for the ad that urged voters to "Stop Donald Trump and Republican Dr. William Petit's attack on women and families" has resigned. 

"It is extremely regrettable that such poor judgment was exhibited by those tasked with running the independent expenditure and we have taken action to remove those responsible from the campaign," a representative for the SEIU state council said.

"Additionally, SEIU Connecticut State Council accepted Paul Filson’s resignation as Executive Director of the council."

Petit is the GOP candidate vying for Connecticut's State House of Representatives in the 22nd District, representing parts of Plainville and New Britain. He was the sole survivor of the 2007 Cheshire home invasion in which his wife Jennifer and daughters Hayley and Michaela were murdered.

"To post something that says I attack women and families I thought was about the lowest of blows," Petit said.

In a news conference on Wednesday, Petit called the ad libelous and pointed to his work with the Petit Family Foundation, an organization set up after he lost his family. 

"I've worked over the past nine years to honor the memory of my family and the whole mission of what we do. We've tried to come up with programs we felt would honor Jennifer, Hayley and Michaela, would be things that they would want us to do," Petit said during a news conference on Wednesday. "For a shadowy political organization to blatantly ignore that work and publish a despicable ad is reckless and incomprehensible."

The ad was the work of a political action committee called Labor United for Connecticut, according to Themis Klarides, House Minority Leader in Connecticut.

The ad even drew criticism from Petit's opponent, Democratic incumbent Betty Boukus.

"I am horrified by the tasteless and offensive attack ad against my opponent. It was produced by a third party with no connection to my campaign, without my knowledge, and without the involvement of anyone associated with my campaign," Boukus said in a statement on Wednesday. "I am asking those responsible to pull the ad and issue and apology to Dr. Petit and his family."

Boukus was in attendance at Dr. Petit's news conference on Wednesday.

Filson told the Hartford Courant: "We can only imagine the pain that Petit has gone through, and would never target his loss for our political agenda.  It is not intended to reference any personal history.  The Facebook post in question holds numerous Connecticut Republicans accountable for their support of Donald Trump and his policies, which independent experts have found to be harmful to women and middle class families."

Petit did not say he supported Trump during Wednesday's news conference.  He said he would make a decision on who to vote for when he gets in the voting booth.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Russia Gets Hacked; Emails Show Ukraine Involvement


Ukrainian group Cyber Hunta released hacked emails from the office of one of Putin’s top aides Vladislav Surkov, which reveal Russia’s involvement in the separatist movement in Ukraine, NBC News reported.

The emails detail Russia’s deep involvement in Russian-speaking regions of the Ukraine, which has led to a divided country and Russia’s takeover of Crimea. Surkov has been a close aide Putin for over a decade, serving as deputy prime minister and Putin’s deputy chief of staff. The 2,337 hacked emails from 2014 show his micro-managing of the Ukrainian situation, proving that he managed Russia’s most crucial operations.

A senior U.S. intelligence official denied involvement in the hack. When asked if the material was authentic, the official told NBC News there was “nothing to indicate otherwise.”

Photo Credit: AP

Children's Riding Vehicles Recalled


About 3,000 Peg Perego children's riding vehicles have been recalled due to fire and burn hazards.

Peg Perego recalled the battery-operated Polaris Sportsman vehicle after reports that a circuit board can fail and cause the motor to overheat and ignite, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The company said it has received three reports of overheating, including one report of a burn.

The ATV-style vehicles were intended for children ages 5 to 7 years old. They were sold online at Amazon.com, Cabelas.com, Target.com, ToysRUs.com and Walmart.com from October 2014 through May 2015 for $500 and $600 and came in silver, red and black.

Recalled vehicles have date codes 651016, 651017, 651020, 651021, 651022, 651023, 651024, 651027, 651028, 651029, 651030, 660304, 660305, 661123, 661124, 661125 and 661130. The date code is found underneath the seat.

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled vehicles and contact Peg Perego for a free replacement circuit board with instructions. For more information, call 877-737-3464 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, email 850recall@pegperego.com or visit us.pegperego.com.

Photo Credit: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Police Warn of Water Department Imposters in Waterbury


Waterbury police are investigating reports of imposters posing as city water department employees and they are asking residents to contact authorities if someone shows up at your house and doesn’t have a marked city truck, the correct uniform and identification.

Police issued the warning after receiving reports of people in a white vehicle in the area of White Birch Drive who were pretending to be water department employees and claiming they needed to check on residents’ water usage.

There are concerns, especially after a water emergency was issued, that people could fall victim to the scheme.

Because of that warning, some Waterbury residents said they are taking extra precautions.

“You know, having a child and the children in the neighborhood, first of all. Then,if the wife is home by herself and people are knocking on the door, it’s frightening,” Johnnie Williams, of Waterbury, said.

"My son, he knows better, but what if he did open the door?," Sharone Williams said.

Police are urging residents to use caution before letting anyone into their home and to ask for identification.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Young Fan Knocked Out During World Series Game Gets Tickets


The Cleveland Indians have given a young Cubs fans who was accidentally knocked out by an Indians fan at the start of Game 1 tickets to see Game 3 of the World Series, the boy's family said. 

David Wallach said the Indians called his family Thursday and offered his 7-year-old son Johnny two tickets to Friday's game at Wrigley Field. 

The tickets follow a dream-turned-nightmare for the father and son, who traveled from a Chicago suburb to Cleveland to see their favorite team in their first World Series game in 71 years. 

Sitting in the bleachers before Game 1 in Cleveland, things couldn’t have started better for the pair, who was celebrating Johnny's upcoming 8th birthday. 

“There was no way to describe how amazing it was,” said David Wallach, of Northfield. “It was everything you could ever dream of. Everything I’ve ever dreamed of was coming true.”

The father-son duo was stunned by the history they were witnessing — their beloved team in a World Series for the first time in 71 years.

“It was really cool,” Wallach said. “The game started, it was electric and it was insane and we were having a blast.”

But things quickly took a turn for the worse – just as the Indians scored their first home run of the game.

Indians fans were quick to celebrate, and one of them elbowed Johnny in the head while cheering, knocking the young boy out for about 30 seconds.

“He spun around and I caught him, he was crying hysterically,” Wallach said. “That’s when things kind of went off the rails. Things went from being a dream to a nightmare so quickly.”

With no help in sight, David Wallach took his son out of the stands before flagging down a police officer. The officer started bringing them into a tunnel when Johnny’s knees buckled and the young boy could no longer walk.

“Fans were heckling him,” Wallach said. “Here I am on the ground with my 7-year-old son and they’re shouting, ‘Cubs suck.’”

Eventually, paramedics arrived and decided Johnny needed to be transported to a hospital for treatment.

Meanwhile, Wallach’s wife was calling the field to see if they could retrieve the family’s belongings, which they left at their seats as they searched for help. 

No answer, they said.

“There was no one that ever showed up to help us,” Wallach said.

When they were finally discharged from the hospital at 1 a.m. Wednesday, Wallach said, he and his son were stranded, unsure of where they were or how to get back to their car. And still, no word from officials at the field. 

“It was scary and confusing and awful and I felt like we were just hung out to dry,” he said. “You don’t see that in Chicago. I would never expect that in Chicago in a million years.”

Johnny was left with a concussion and a birthday gift wasted on a World Series he didn’t even get to see.

“The best thing about it is, he said, ‘Dad I still had a great time and I forgive the man who hit me,’” Wallach said. “From a little boy, that’s a great lesson for all of us.”

Wallach said he was later contacted by StubHub, which agreed to refund 50 percent of their ticket purchase. He also said the Cubs contacted the family and offered them support and sent Johnny a gift. 

“I think I’m just used to the way Chicago fans act,” Wallach said. “Just kind of shocking.”

A spokesperson for the Indians did later call the family to apologize, Wallach said, and offered them tickets to a game in Cleveland.

The team is expected to hold a press conference with Johnny Wallach at 4 p.m. CT Friday at Wrigley Field, the family says. 

A spokesman for the Cleveland Indians confirmed the team provided the tickets but would not confirm the team's plans for a press conference.

Photo Credit: David Wallach/NBC Chicago
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Safe Pumpkin Carving Techniques for Halloween Weekend


With Halloween upon us, here are some tips for avoiding pumpkin-carving injuries, from orthopedic hand surgeon Dr. Gregory Sobol.

Biden Said to Be Considered for Sec. of State if Clinton Win


Vice President Joe Biden is under consideration for secretary of state if Hillary Clinton wins the White House, a trusted source confirmed to NBC News Thursday night.

Politico first reported that Biden is "at the top of the internal short list" of the Clinton's transition team's list for the post.

Biden, a senator for 36 years who has served as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before becoming vice president, has hammered Donald Trump over his cozy statements about Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Photo Credit: AP

Shirtless Climber in Custody After Another GWB Nightmare


One man was taken into custody after scaling a tower on the George Washington Bridge Friday morning, shutting down the upper level of the span at the height of rush hour for the second time this week. 

Traffic cameras appeared to show someone climbing one of the towers on the New Jersey side of the bridge shortly after 8:30 a.m. Chopper 4 later showed emergency crews take the man, who was not wearing a shirt, into custody. At least half a dozen law enforcement personnel surrounded the man on a bridge landing as emergency vehicles swarmed the roadway below. 

The NYPD described the man, later identified as Alberto Hernandez, of East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, as an emotionally disturbed jumper, and tweeted dramatic images of ESU and police officers negotiating him off a ledge to safety. 

The upper levels of the span were shut down for about 40 minutes, the Port Authority said; the lower levels remained open. By 9:30 a.m., at least one or two lanes of traffic appeared to be moving again, creeping by the swarm of emergency vehicles, but delays topped 90 minutes.

Hernandez was charged with interference with transportation, criminal trespass and disorderly conduct. It wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney who could comment on his behalf.

The delays Friday marked the second time this week an intruder blocked traffic on the upper level of the bridge - one of the region's most important arteries - during rush hour. 

The inbound upper level of the George Washington Bridge was closed by an immigrant rights protest Wednesday morning, creating a traffic nightmare at the height of rush hour. Ten people were arrested in that case. 

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York
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Chandra Levy's Mom Speaks Out on Condit Interview


Chandra Levy's mother said former congressman Gary Condit has not revealed the whole truth about his relationship with her daughter.

Condit sat down with Dr. Phil McGraw Thursday for the first interview in 15 years to promote a book he co-authored about the case to tell his side of the story. At the time of Levy's disappearance in 2001, there was media speculation that the married California Democrat was having an affair with his 24-year-old intern.

"I did not have a romantic involvement with her, and I was not involved in her disappearance in any way,'' Condit told McGraw. Condit has also denied having any type of sexual relationship with Levy. 

In reaction to the interview, Levy’s mother told NBC's "Today" show: “It wasn’t a made up thing, they weren’t just good friends. I know otherwise because I did talk to my daughter and I found out who she was dating, secretively, because I was able to guess it.”

Another man was convicted in the killing of Levy, but that conviction was tossed out earlier this year.

Photo Credit: AP
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Bill Cosby's Lawyers Say He Registered as 'Legally Blind'


Bill Cosby’s attorneys say he is “legally blind” and has officially registered with a state commission for the blind, NBC News reported.

Cosby’s eyesight will have an effect on the cases of sexual abuse filed against him because he will be unable to recognize his accusers, lawyers said. They also mentioned that a doctor’s report will be provided that the pretrial that is scheduled to begin Tuesday. In Massachusetts, where Cosby registered, legal blindness is defined as 20/200 or less while wearing glasses.

"No 79-year-old blind man could possibly defend himself against a claim that he sexually assaulted someone he supposedly met once, half a century ago," his attorneys wrote in a court document.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Portrait of Girl Who Died of Cancer on Display at Department


A 9-year-old girl who died of cancer earlier this year will forever be honored by the police department that made her an honorary police officer last year.

The police department commissioned a local artist to create two portraits of honorary Police Officer Madeline Guarraia. One is on display at the Waterford Police Department and the other was given to her family.

“As many of you know, our police department has a special bond with Officer Madeline Guarraia, our M-8,” Waterford police said in a Facebook post.

Guarraia lived in East Lyme, but her parents are Waterford teachers and Waterford police made her an honorary officer after learning Madeline loved police officers and police dogs. 

That bond between Madeline and the police department grew and she would go on patrol with officers. The last time was during a shift the month before she died after going through five years of cancer treatments. 

The police department commissioned the portraits thanks to the "Chief's Contributed Gifts" fund, which is made up of donations for community-based items, as well as a donation from the Pendleton Foundation, founded by the retired chief and his family.

Over the years, the "Chief's Contributed Gifts" fund has paid for portraits of deceased officers, which are displayed in the hallways, reminding current officers of those who served before them, police said.

Underneath the portrait, a plaque with Officer Guarraia’s name says, “Rest easy, we’ll carry it from here.”

“As Officer Guarraia was special to many local communities, we hung her picture in the Police Department lobby, so that anyone could see it when they stopped by,” the police department’s Facebook page says. “We encourage you to stop by and take a look.

Madeline is always with us in spirit, we just have a way of permanently commemorating her service with us now.”

Photo Credit: Waterford Police
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Dog Helps Alert Portland Family When Fire Breaks Out


A Portland family is OK after their dog, and smoke detectors, alerted them about a fire. 

Fire officials said a small electrical fire sparked behind a home on Indian Hill Avenue and the dog and smoke detectors alerted the family to evacuate. 

Firefighters put the fire out before it spread to the house. 

The house is still inhabitable, but will need some electrical repairs. 

The fire marshal is investigating.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Report: Aaron Hernandez's Jail Phone Calls Were Tapped


Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez's jailhouse phone calls were tapped while he sat in prison awaiting his murder trial.

The Boston Herald reports that the calls were tapped by an "unknown person" and neither Hernandez's lawyers nor prosecutors were ever told about it. His calls were the only ones accessed.

The security issue has apparently since been resolved, and the Suffolk County House of Correction continues to use the same telephone company.

Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder in the 2013 killing of Odin Lloyd. He is scheduled to go to trial next year in connection with a separate double-murder in Boston's South End.

Photo Credit: FILE - Getty Images

Seasonable With an Abundance of Clouds This Weekend


An abundance of clouds is expected this weekend, and a few showers are possible Sunday.

Friday will be breezy and dry, with a lot of clouds and temperatures near 50 degrees.

Saturday is the pick of the weekend because it will be dry with highs in the upper 50s.

The best chance for a shower on Sunday will come in the afternoon. Temperatures will come close to 60 degrees.

Halloween looks dry and sunny as high pressure builds in. High temperatures during the afternoon will be in the middle 50s, but 40s are expected after nightfall.

Tuesday will feature a blend of clouds and sunshine as temperatures rise to near 60 degrees.

Midweek, First Alert forecasters are watching a cold front. Right now, it looks like that front will move through on Thursday.

That means Wednesday will be quite warm with highs soaring into the upper 60s, then Thursday will be cooler, only near 60 degrees. A few showers will accompany the cold front.

An early look at the first weekend of November shows high pressure building in with dry, cool weather and high temperatures near 50 degrees.

Follow meteorologist Tyler Jankoski on social media.

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