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Mom, Son Accused of Shooting BB Guns Arrested for Drugs: PD


A mother and her 20-year-old son, who is accused of shooting BB guns at homes and cars in shoreline towns, was charged with operating a drug factory, police said. 

On Tuesday, Maxwell and Michelle Bravi both face a number of drug charges, including possession of cocaine, possession of more than four ounces of marijuana, operating a drug factory and intent to sell. 

Police in multiple towns were investigating a slew of vehicles damaged by pellet guns on Monday night, when around 10 p.m., Clinton police received a tip identifying one of the suspects.

Maxwell Bravi and Garrett Bush, 20, confessed to shooting pellets and damaging property in Old Saybrook, Clinton, East Lyme, along I-95 and at the Mohegan Sun Casino, police said. 

The two men were also connected to a drug investigation at 19 Fairview Avenue in Old Saybrook, according to police, who later arrested the man's 49-year-old mother Michelle. 

Maxwell Bravi is being held on a combined bond of $150,000, which includes the BB gun charges and the drug charges. 

Michelle Bravi's bond was set at $5,000. 

Photo Credit: Old Saybrook Police

Swastikas, Trump References Painted on School Complex Walls


Police are investigating after vandals spray-painted swastikas and references to President-elect Donald Trump on walls and equipment at the Wilbur Cross High School athletic complex in New Haven. 

Everything was in order at the athletic complex around noon on Saturday, but when staff returned 49 hours later to get equipment, they found the vandalism, according to police. 

Investigators have found no evidence that the vandals forced their way in, but said it’s possible a door was left unlocked. 

Police said investigating hate crimes and hate-motivated behavior and apprehending those responsible for it is of paramount importance to the New Haven Police Department. 

Police have processed the scene for forensic evidence and they are asking anyone with information about the vandalism to report it by calling 203-946-6304. 

Photo Credit: New Haven Police

Conn. Woman Set to Become Fastest to Visit All 196 Countries


Cassie DePecol is afraid of flying.

"I'm not going to lie, even more than being kidnapped or killed, the flying, for me, is the most nerve-racking," she said. 

But the anxiety isn't stopping the Connecticut-native from becoming the fastest person, as well as the first woman, to visit all 196 countries in the world. 

DePecol, who is from Washington, said she didn't travel too much until she went to college. 

"I studied abroad in Costa Rica," DePecol told NBC Connecticut while she was in the Congo on Tuesday. "Then after that, I saved up about $2,000 from lifeguarding and I traveled to about 25 countries over the course of two years." 

The 27-year-old said she was living the "nomadic lifestyle" by backpacking, hitch-hiking and working odd-jobs abroad.

"That’s when I realized how much I loved travel and I knew I’d find my career in travel," she said. 

Now, DePecol is at the tail-end of her 196-country expedition that she started in July 2015, setting her up to become the first woman to travel the world in the least amount of time. 

The trip isn't just about colorful sunsets, delicious cuisines and unparalleled selfies from atop of mountains; DePecol is a peace ambassador with the International Institute of Peace Through Tourism. 

Through the organization's endorsement, DePecol is able to set up keynote sessions with students at universities in all the countries she is visiting. DePecol talks to students about a number of topics related to the environment and peace, including sustainable tourism, sustainable development, economics and entrepreneurship. 

"It would be amazing to change the world in a major way and, of course, that’s my dream," DePecol said. "But I’m trying to take these small steps towards, eventually, changing the world in a more positive way — a more impactful way —for future generations."

And DePecol isn't alone on wanting to make an impact. The world traveler has dozens of sponsors and supporters who back and help fund her mission. 

Europe was the starting point of her journey, as a way to "ease into traveling again."

"I hadn't traveled for a couple of years so I was a little bit rusty," DePecol said. "Those first six months were really tough for me."

So far, her most memorable experience was in the small, Oceanic country Vanuatu. The country, which is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, was devastated by a cyclone a year prior to DePecol's arrival.

Despite the residents' struggles, they welcomed the American with open arms.

"That was the first experience I was really thrown into humanity in a positive way," DePecol said. "I walked around the streets with my expensive camera slung over my shoulder and I was invited into these peoples' shack-houses and they wanted to show me their way of life and their family and how to make Kava, which is this specific drink to that region."

Vanuatu was also one of the first places that DePecol spoke to a group of more than a hundred students. 

"I wasn’t really that confident with speaking and didn’t really know what I was talking about at that point, but they understood me and we laughed and we really understood each other, even though we come from completely different lands," she said. 

The Middle East was another place that surprisingly resonated with DePecol, who said she feels the "safest and most comfortable" in the region. 

"It’s just completely not what you see on the news all the time, all this negative stuff," she said. "It's a whole different thing that is so beautiful."

But DePecol is quick to say she is not relocating to a Middle Eastern country, or anywhere abroad, once the expedition is over. 

"The more I travel, the more I realize that States is where I belong," she said. 

DePecol still has 13 countries to get to before breaking the Guinness World record for fastest time to visit all countries, which was previously completed by Yili Lui within three years and three months

According to DePecol, she is on track to break that record by finishing her travels within 16 months, making her the first documented woman to ever do so.

Up next, the explorer said she is most excited to visit Pakistan after it took four months to get her visa approved. 

"I plan my travels around visas, student meetings and weather patterns," she said. 

DePecol will move back to Los Angeles, where she was living previously, when she finishes her around-the-world expedition. She is planning on finishing her documentary, her book and will speak at universities in the area.

She said she already has a long list of places she wants to revisit. 

Photo Credit: Cassie DePecol

Malloy Vows to Continue Accepting Refugees


Nothing will change, as far as Connecticut is concerned when it comes to resettling Syrian refugees, so long as Governor Dannel Malloy leads the state.

At a the Jewish Community Center of Greater New Haven in Woodbridge, joined by Jewish faith leaders, immigration advocates, and even several recently resettled refugees, the governor committed to helping as many people escape terror as possible.

“We need to stand up for individuals. We need to protect them. We need to do that as a nation.”

To date, Connecticut has accepted more than 300 refugees who have escaped the ongoing humanitarian crisis and civil war in Syria.

Some of them were in attendance at the JCC, Tuesday.

Wafaa now lives in the Danbury area, and said she couldn't be happier to have ended up in the United States with her husband and three sons.

“I’m very happy with everything that happened to my family," she told reporters. "I'm very lucky to come here."

Tuesday's event was spurred by the recent election of Donald Trump as the next President of the United States. Trump was elected on a platform of cracking down on Muslim immigration into the United States, and even proposed creating a registry for Muslims that come from countries with known terror ties.

Malloy said Connecticut would be at the front lines of a legal fight if any such efforts were to come to fruition.

“I would fight any attempt to limit refugee status being given based on religion," he said.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

School Bus Safety a Concern Following Fatal Crash in Tennessee


The issue of school bus safety, specifically seat belts on school buses, has been an annual topic of discussion among policymakers for years.

When it appeared there was some interest among school systems, the state set up a fund to help provide tax breaks for local school systems and cities and towns that purchased buses with seat belts. But, the fund has been essentially untouched since 2011.

“No one took advantage of that money that was specifically set aside in that fund and therefore we moved that money around, we had some deficits and so forth, so they took that money out," said Rep. Tony Guerrera, who chairs the Connecticut General Assembly's Transportation Committee.

Guerrera helped to establish that fund several years ago. From 2011 to 2016, the state provided $11.6 million into the fund, but it was never utilized by a single city or town. With the money laying dormant each year, it was transferred to help fill the state;s budget shortfall.

Guerrera says that frustrated him, and said no one can accuse lawmakers of not wanting to address the issue of seat belts on school buses.

“With technology the way it is today, there has to be some type of system that we can allow seat belts in school buses.”

Leslie Sheldon handles operations at All Star Transportation in Waterbury, and is the President of the Connecticut School Transportation Association, COSTA.

She says existing school buses are already some of the safest on the road, and that won't change just because of one accident in Chatanooga, Tennessee.

“I’m guessing it more had to do with driver error but the school bus is safe," Sheldon said.

The group has always discussed some of the associated questions with mandating that all school buses have seat belts. There are concerns about who would ensure the students are strapped in, the amount of responsibility of the bus driver, and of course the costs involved.

A new school bus without seat belts costs an average of $85,000, while one with safety restraints is $100,000.

Six states require buses to have seat belts, but only California meets the National Transportation Safety Board standard that each bus has three point harnesses, similar to the ones in cars.

Sheldon thinks the issue in Tennessee had more to do with the operator of the bus, and not how the bus was designed.

“I’m guessing just from my many years of experience that speed probably had something to do with it. They just don’t brake like that, so it was probably a driver issue.”

Sheldon says parents can certainly demand for seat belts, which is something they can take up in Hartford. For now, she says any worries about bus safety would be misguided.

“They’re safe. It’s not like I cringe every time they leave the yard and say “Oh my God are they coming back.”

UN Human Rights Office Ready to Take on Trump: Report


U.N. human rights officials, whose boss famously likened U.S. President-elect Donald Trump to ISIS, are reported to be gearing up for a four- or even eight-year battle with the new administration over Trump's "ghastly campaign pledges," NBC News reported.

With Trump now elected president, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, has spread the word to the U.N. human rights office that it will have to lead international opposition to the United States, U.N. officials told the respected journal Foreign Policy.

"We are going to speak up," Foreign Policy quoted one of the officials as saying in an article published Tuesday. "It'll be rough, but if [Trump] puts any of those ghastly campaign pledges into action, we will condemn."

This is not the first time Ra'ad al-Hussein spoke out against Trump. "If Donald Trump is elected, on the basis of what he has said already, and unless that changes, I think it's without any doubt that he would be dangerous from an international point of view," he said in October.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, File

Tamir Rice's Mom Demands Justice on Anniversary of Killing


On the second anniversary of her son's death, Samaria Rice stood on the steps of the police headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio, and read out a list of demands, NBC News reports. 

First, she said, fire the police officers who killed her 12-year-old son, Tamir. 

"These two years have felt like hell and many sleepless nights, when I close my eyes to try to get some rest all I can see is my son getting shot," Rice said, later adding, "Our tax dollars are paying these killer p*gs." 

Tamir Rice was shot and killed by police officers on Nov. 22, 2014. Video of the incident shows a police cruiser racing to the front of a recreation center and pulling up alongside the boy. One of the officers quickly fires two shots and the child crumples to the ground and dies. Rice had been brandishing a pellet gun.

Samira Rice said that she had lost faith in the government, including the Obama administration, and its ability to protect children.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Courtesy Richardson & Kucharski Co., L.P.A.

Shocking Photos Show Inside Abandoned Lincoln Mall in Illinois


It has been nearly two years since the Lincoln Mall in south suburban Matteson, Illinois, closed its doors. But take a look inside today, and things already look drastically different inside the abandoned building.

Photo Credit: Seph Lawless

West Hartford Police Take Newington Car Theft Suspects Into Custody


West Hartford police captured three juveniles Tuesday night who they said are suspected in a car theft in Newington.

Newington police reached out to West Hartford police just before 10 p.m. Tuesday to be on the lookout for a gray Volvo S60 that had been stolen in the center of Newington was heading into West Hartford, police said.

Officers spotted the car on Newington Road in West Hartford, so officers set out stop sticks to flatten the back tire on the passenger side, but the driver kept going until the car became disabled at New Britain Avenue and South Street, police said.

Once the car stopped, the driver and two passengers ran, but police soon took the driver into custody and found the other two suspects on Brixton Street after a short chase, police said.

West Hartford police turned the three suspects over to Newington police.

Ice Sculptures Glitter at Winter Wonderland in London


Sculptures turned blocks of ice into reindeer, wolves, bears and boats at the Magical Ice Kingdom at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland in London. Take a look at some of the glittering pieces of art.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Newington Officials Concerned About Covering Hartford Sewer Bill Deficit


Newington’s Town Council is the latest to express concern about taking a potential hit to help Hartford cover missions of dollars in sewer payments to the Metropolitan District Commission.

“They represent 26.3 percent of the total revenue to the Metropolitan District sources and it’s pretty difficult to run a business with a 25 to 26 percent deduction,” MDC Chairman William Dibella said.

Hartford has committed to paying half of the $11 million sewer payment, according to the MDC.

If it doesn’t find the other half in its next budget or if the issue cannot be resolved in the general assembly, the other towns that make up the MDC will have to pick up the rest and that means Newington, West Hartford, Bloomfield, Windsor, Wethersfield, East Hartford and Rocky Hill are all taking a close look at their own budgets.

“Right now we do not have the ability to borrow for operating expenses to close that gap,” Dibella said.

For Newington, that would be a $718,000 bill to cover Hartford, on top of the money they owe for their own town.

If Hartford does pay its other half, the MDC said they would not collect money from the other town. If the capital city does not, that money would be due October 2017 and Dibella said he understands all the frustrations.

“People shouldn’t be asked to pay other people’s bills and I think that’s part of the thing that has to be worked out with the legislature,” Dibella said.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin released a statement.

"We will do everything we can possibly do to get Hartford on the path to fiscal sustainability, but it's going to take fundamental changes at the state level this year -- because the root of the problem is that half of Hartford's property is non-taxable, and we have less taxable property than some of our much smaller suburban neighbors,” Bronin said. “We have to decide, as a state, whether we want a healthy, strong capital city and capital region. We've been saying for months that Hartford's fiscal health matters to the whole region, and this is just one of many examples of why that's true."

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Executive Director of New London Housing Authority Out of Office


The embattled New London Housing Authority’s executive director is now out of office.

Sue Shontell and the New London Housing Authority mutually agreed to terminate her employment without cause, according to a statement the board's chair read on Tuesday night.

Shontell told NBC Connecticut that this is "truly heartbreaking" and that her time at the helm has been both "challenging and rewarding."

Shontell recently filed a complaint with a state agency, citing harassment and discrimination in her position.

She's also been criticized for the condition of the Thames River Apartments, which are infested with rodents and roaches, among other factors that contribute to unbearable living conditions.

The board voted Lee Erdmann as the interim housing authority executive director. He was most recently the acting town manager of Enfield.

He starts today and will be in the role until the beginning of January.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

State Police to Patrol from Roads and Sky Over Thanksgiving Weekend


Today is one of the busiest travel days of the year and Connecticut State Police will be watching from the sky, with a Cessna focusing on Interstate 84, to keep drivers safe.

"The troopers, who are also pilots, will go up in the air. One will be piloting. One will be watching the traffic, looking for the aggressive driver. And then they'll use pre-marked points on the highway to use time and distance to calculate the speed. They'll then radio to the troopers on the ground who will go out and address those drivers," Trooper Tyler Weerden said.

State police said they have three planes to uses and troopers will also be in marked and unmarked cruisers and on motorcycles, watching for tailgating, improper passing, distracted driving and speeding.

"Obviously, on Thanksgiving, there's going to be additional traffic on the road to begin with. Then, we throw some weather in there and we could have some issues," Weerden said.

Another target for state police are drivers who are under the influence.

"We tell people there's no excuse for it. These are all avoidable crashes. Between Uber, family friends, cell phones, there's always another route versus drinking and driving," Weerden said.

In the last five years in Connecticut, there have been 13 fatalities and 4,000 accidents on Thanksgiving weekend.

There is also a financial cost of $500 for distracted driving, with additional infractions adding to the total fine.

The fine for going more than 80 miles per hour is $300.

"Last year, in the first three hours of this air campaign, we had 11 people arrested for reckless driving, which is anything over 85 (miles per hour)," Weerden said.

One way state police say you can increase your chances of staying safe is to leave early.

"If you leave early, you're going to alleviate a lot of the issues, because people leave late, they're rushing around -- that's when we see the tailgating and the speeding," Weerden said. 

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Crews Respond to Fire at Temple and Trumbull Streets in New Haven


Firefighters have put out a fire at a mixed-used building at Temple and Trumbull streets in New Haven.

Officials said the fire started in a bedroom on the second floor and everyone got out safely.

Investigators are looking into the cause, but said they do not suspect foul play.

The street was closed, but was expected to reopen around 7:45 a.m.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Police ID Victims of Hit-and-Run in Stamford


Two pedestrians were injured and one was killed in a hit-and-run crash in Stamford Saturday evening and now Stamford police are looking for the driver.

Stamford police said 54-year-old Anthony McFadden and 56-year-old Kerrie Burke were walking on Tresser Boulevard (Route 1) near Greenwich Avenue around 6:58 p.m. when they were hit by a vehicle that then fled the scene.

McFadden was treated at Stamford Hospital and has been released. Burke was pronounced dead at Stamford Hospital and police said she died of injuries sustaind in the crash.

"There is a crosswalk right in the area so whether they were in the crosswalk or within a couple feet of it, we’re not exactly sure," Sgt. Andrew Gallagher of the Stamford Police Department said.

Investigators said there were pieces of the vehicle left behind and they’re working to identify a suspect vehicle. Police believe the suspect vehicle is a gray 1996-2002 Chevy Express or GMC Savana van.

The Stamford Police C.A.R.S. unit is investigating and the police department is offering a cash reward for information that leads to an arrest in this case.

Anyone who witnessed the crash or who thinks they have information on the case is asked to contact police at (203) 977-4712.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Major Delays on Wilbur Cross Northbound in Meriden

Man Arrested After 4 Officers Dragged by Car in Boston


A man has been arrested after four Boston Police officers were dragged by a vehicle early Wednesday morning.

Police approached a vehicle on Stoughton Street in the Upham's Corner section of Boston's Dorchester neighborhood around 12:30 a.m. after receiving a report of a person with a gun.

Police said the driver accelerated when asked to get out of the car and dragged two officers down the street. The car also struck two officers, causing them to fall to the ground. 

A description of the car was put out, and police pursued it up Columbia Road before losing it in the area of Draper Street.

The four injured officers were transported to Brigham and Women's Hospital with what were described as non-life-threatening injuries. They have since been treated and released.

"We should be thankful for that considering what's going on in the world, across the United States, at this period of time right now," Boston Police Superintendent Randall Halstead said.

At 10:20 a.m., police say they arrested 34-year-old Vincent Weaks of Roxbury. He faces four counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. He'll be arraigned in court Friday.

It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney.

Chattanooga Mom Says She Complained About Driver in Deadly Crash


A mother in Chattanooga whose daughter died in a fatal school bus accident Monday says she repeatedly complained about the bus driver responsible, NBC News reported.

Jasmine Mateen says she complained about the bus driver to the Board of Education, the school and the bus company, Durham School Services, after her children complained about him.

Mateen, who also had two children injured in the accident, said she reminded the school that she complained about the driver when they called her Tuesday.

"I've been calling y'all since August," Mateen said she told them. "I said, 'Now y'all doing what y'all supposed to been doing now that it's too late ... Y'all doing what y'all supposed to be doing, but my baby laying in a cold freezer.'"

The bus driver, Johnthony Walker, 24, was charged with vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment and reckless driving following Monday’s accident.

Photo Credit: Chattanooga Fire Department
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MSG Company Alerts Customers of Data Breach


Madison Square Garden Company says there has been a data breach affecting customers who may have used cards at merchandise and food and beverage locations at its properties in the last year. 

Those include Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, Beacon Theatre and The Chicago Theatre, from the time period between Nov. 9, 2015 and Oct. 24, 2016. 

Data contained in the magnetic stripe of the cards -- including credit card numbers, cardholder names, expiration dates and internal verification codes -- may have been accessed without authorization, the company says. 

Not all cards used during the time frame were affected, and the breach doesn't involve cards used at the MSG websites, box offices or Ticketmaster.

MSG says it has fixed the issue, "and customers may use their cards with confidence at MSG venues." The company says it's also working with law enforcement on the case. 

Customers can get more information at themadisonsquaregardencompany.com/customerupdate or call 844-319-9619 for more information. 

Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY

Gov. Haley Accepts Trump's Offer for UN Ambassador


South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley accepted President-elect Donald Trump's offer to be his ambassador to the United Nations, Trump's transition team announced Wednesday.

Haley, 44, is the daughter of immigrants from India and is only America's second Asian-American governor.

Trump said in a statement that Haley "has a proven track record of bringing people together regardless of background or party affiliation to move critical policies forward for the betterment of her state and our country."

The two-term governor was not always on Trump's side. She initially backed his rivals, Sen. Marco Rubio and then Sen. Ted Cruz, during the GOP primary. In February, she said Trump was "everything a governor doesn't want in a president," but in July she announced she would vote for him. 

“Our country faces enormous challenges here at home and internationally, and I am honored that the President-elect has asked me to join his team and serve the country we love as the next Ambassador to the United Nations,” Haley said Wednesday.

Photo Credit: AP
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