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Middletown Fire May Have Been Intentionally Set: Fire Chief


A fire that destroyed a vacant building in Middletown overnight may have been intentionally set, according to fire officials.

Firefighters were called to a home on Glover Place just before 1:30 a.m. Sunday. When firefighters arrived on scene the entire front porch was up in flames and the fire then spread through the roof.

Fire officials said the fire appears to have started in the right side of the building and the city’s fire chief is calling the blaze suspicious.

"We've got a request in to the state fire marshal to come in with a dog to check for accelerants. Right now it appears to be suspicious but we're going to work through this one," said Middletown Fire Chief Robert Kronenberger.

The heat from the fire damaged the siding on the home next door, and the neighbors inside were evacuated. No one was hurt.

Electricity was cut off to the entire street while crews were working to put out this fire, which took a couple of hours to get under control. Eversource was called in to isolate the outage and restore power to the rest of the neighborhood.

The Fire Marshal is investigating the case.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

1 Dead, 1 Hurt After Falling from 3-Story Roof in Westport


One person was killed and another seriously injured after falling off a roof in Westport Sunday afternoon, police said.

The Westport Police Department, Westport Fire Department, and Westport Emergency Medical Services all responded to an address of Norwalk Avenue around 12:45 p.m. for a report that two workers fell off a three-story roof.

When crews arrived they found one male victim dead on scene. The other male victim was taken to Norwalk Hospital with life-threatening injuries. They have not been identified.

Westport police and OSHA are investigating. Police said no foul play is suspected.

Photo Credit: NBC10

West Hartford Family Fears Vandals Snipped Christmas Lights


There may be a Grinch in West Hartford.

One family fears someone snuck around their home and snipped their beloved Christmas lights.

Strung around a West Hartford home on Colony Road, classic Christmas lights have been a cherished holiday decoration for the Morris family.

“They’re old-fashion, gum drop looking lights and so I bought tons of them at the time,” said Dawn Morris.

Morris bought the “Olive the Other Reindeer Lights” 16 years ago and they now require a hunt just to find replacement bulbs.

They’ve survived the family’s four moves and are hung to the delight of the family and neighbors each year. So Morris was devastated when she came out Sunday morning and realized this morning something was wrong with them.

“I was truly heartbroken. It sounds crazy but I was trying not to cry because I’m so fond of them,” she said.

Pictures showed the cuts to two of the strands of lights. Morris told NBC Connecticut while there’s a possibility a rodent was responsible, a contractor told her the clean cuts looked deliberate.

The vandalism was reported to police, who agreed someone likely purposefully did this. Sunday the wires were repaired and the family is overwhelmed by the support of the community, showing the good even when things appear to have gone dark.

“My hope is everything stays lit and we don’t have any more issues and we can enjoy these,” Morris said.

Morris said police assured her they would be keeping an eye out during their patrols. NBC Connecticut contacted police but said they were unable to comment.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Light Snow Expected During Monday's Morning Commute


Snow is expected to make for a messy morning commute on Monday as the workweek begins. The NBC Connecticut First Alert team of meteorologists is issuing a First Alert for the morning.

The snow is expected to start falling between 4 and 6 a.m. statewide. It will fall in the form of light snow that will quickly turn to rain by midday.

A quick change to rain will happen at the shore but a light accumulation coating of between 1 and 2 inches is possible in the rest of the state.  A slushy accumulation is possible along the shore.

The evening commute will feature clearing skies.

There is the chance for another possible light wintry mix on Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning.

Here's a look at your forecast for the next several days:

By Monday morning, an upper level disturbance will aid in bringing a chance of snow to our region. Afternoon temperatures will rebound into the mid 30s to low 40s, changing any snow to the chance for rain.

High pressure returns to New England Monday night and Tuesday providing dry conditions. Lows Monday night will average in the 20s, while highs on Tuesday top out in the mid 30s to low 40s.

Looking ahead, low pressure moving off the mid Atlantic coast may wrap some mixed light rain and snow across Southern New England late Tuesday night into Wednesday night, though timing and track remain uncertain. An arctic front crosses the region late next week resulting in colder temperatures arriving next weekend.

Twitter Account of 7-Year-Old Syrian Girl Disappears


Fatemah Al-Abed's final message to her Twitter followers Sunday was harrowing and heartbreaking.

The Syrian woman's post read: "We are sure the army is capturing us now. We will see each other another day dear world. Bye. — Fatemah."

Shortly after the post, her Twitter account disappeared, NBC News reporters.

Al-Abed's dispatches from inside Eastern Aleppo have shocked and captivated readers around the world since she began tweeting from the account on behalf of her 7-year-old daughter, Bana, in September.

The family has been documenting their struggle to survive, calling on world leaders to stop the violence and rescue Syrian children as recently as Sunday morning.

Photo Credit: Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP

14th Death Confirmed in Tenn. Fires


An 81-year-old woman was confirmed to have died in eastern Tennessee's devastating wildfires, raising the death toll to 14, authorities said Sunday, NBC News reported. 

Elaine Brown sustained a "medical event" that led to a multi-vehicle accident while she was fleeing the fires in Sevier County in and around Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the joint federal-state-local incident management team said Sunday night.

More than 700 firefighters from almost two dozen fire crews remain in eastern Tennessee battling the Chimney Tops 2 fire and several smaller wildfires it helped spark, fire commanders said Sunday night. In addition to the 14 people who have died, 134 others have been treated at hospitals, they said. 

The human-caused main fire was at 17,006 acres and was 42 percent contained Sunday night, authorities said. It's expected to continue smoldering overnight before rain forecast for Monday helps to slow its spread.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

State DOT Ready for Snowy Morning Commute


While the state isn’t expected to accumulate a lot of snow, the timing of Monday morning’s storm put Department of Transportation crews to work.

“It is going to be slippery in the morning. We will be out. We will have whatever crews we need out on the roadways. But you can expect slippery conditions,” said DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick.

As of Monday at 6:30 a.m., there were 472 plows out across the state - which is 74 percent of the force. DOT reported heavier snow near the Massachusetts border and slippery roads across the state.

Crews started pre-treating state roads on Friday with a liquid salt solution. They targeted critical areas like bridges that typically freeze and have snow packing issues, as well as the hills and low-lying areas of the highway. They treated 40 to 50 miles of roads.

“We can pretreat those at very, very little cost, couple hundred dollars. And that really gives us a head start,” Nursick explained. “When the snow starts to fall it activates that salt and melts the precipitation and prevent accumulation on the roadways before our plow trucks get there,” he added.

Drivers are reminded to leave early, slow down and prepare for slippery conditions.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

SUV Collides with School Bus in Hamden


Slippery roads might be to blame when a school bus collided with an SUV in Hamden Monday morning, according to police.

Officers on scene confirmed the accident happened at Todd Street and Whitney Avenue around 5:20 a.m. and the force of the impact caused the SUV to roll over.

Despite the mess, the SUV driver was not hurt. The bus driver, who was the only person in the vehicle, was also uninjured.

It was not clear where the school bus was headed. Hamden Public Schools had a two-hour delay Monday morning.

Todd Street was closed while crews worked to clean up. The accident remains under investigation.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Amazing Gingerbread Manor Took 500 Hours To Make


It's a manor good enough to eat. London cookie boutique Biscuiteers took 500 hours, 65 pounds of butter and sugar, 240 eggs and 475 pounds of icing to reproduce the Waddesdon Manor in gingerbread. The manor, a French Renaissance-style chateau in Buckinghamshire, England, was a Rothschild property built for Ferdinand de Rothschild in 1874 for his art collection.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Biscuiteers
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Victims From Warehouse Fire ID'd


Eleven of the 36 victims who died in the Oakland warehouse fire late Friday night have been identified as of Monday morning.

But only seven of the victim's names were released so that families could have a moment to grieve, Alameda County Sheriff's officials and Oakland police said. Among those who died is the son of a sheriff's deputy.

The city also knows the identity of an eighth victim, but would not release the person's name because the 17-year-old is a minor. However, on Monday, officials from the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts in San Francisco identified the teen as Draven McGill, an 11th-grade student at the school.

Student body president Gabriel Bibliowicz said that Draven was a "really sweet" guy who mostly "kept to himself." He was a "gifted baritone and a quiet leader with a strong voice."

The seven victims who have been officially identified are Donna Kellogg, 32, of Oakland; Cash Askew, 22, of Oakland; David Cline, 35, of Oakland; Nick Gomez-Hall, 25, of Coronado; Sara Hoda, 30, of Walnut Creek; Travis Hough, 35, of Oakland; and Brandon Chase Wittenauer, 32, of Hayward.

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The death toll in the warehouse fire is expected to rise, but it will be days before recovery crews can access the entire structure, officials said. As of Monday, they had made it through 70 percent of the building.

Kellogg, one of the first people to be confirmed dead, was going to culinary school and worked at High Wire Roasters coffee shop in Berkeley. Her coworkers learned Sunday night that she was killed in the fire.

Kellogg was a former resident of Chico who graduated from Chico High. One friend described her as a freewheeling, free-spirited, candid person.

Wittenauer, better known by his stage name Nex Iuguolo, was an electronic music artist and vocalist for the band Symbiotix Fungi.

Hough was a musician with the Oakland-based electronic band Ghost of Lightning. Hough often went by the stage name Travis Blitzen.

Askew, another musician, was a member of the Bay Area dream pop band Them Are Us Too.

Gomez-Hall was an administrative assistant at Counterpoint Press who called himself a decomposer of music.

Cline was a UC Berkeley graduate, having earned degrees in cognitive science and computer science.

Hoda's friends on Facebook said she was a teacher, gardener and a hardworking person who loved children.

The victims' families have been notified. Other names are expected to be released in the coming days. Some of the victims are non-citizens, officials said.

The Alameda County Coroner's Bureau has asked that the families of people who are still missing "preserve sources of DNA," including combs and toothbrushes, to "prevent future delays" in the identification process. She also asked that such items be stored in clean paper sacks, but not sent to the coroner's bureau. Officials will ask for them, if needed.

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Hateful Rant at Muslim NYC Cop


A man has been arrested in connection with an attack on a Muslim off-duty NYPD officer and her teenage son, police said. 

Officers arrested Christopher Nelson, of Bay Ridge, on Sunday evening. The 36-year-old was charged with menacing hate crime and aggravated harassment.

Aml Elsokary, who was off-duty and wearing her hijab, dropped her 16-year-old son off near Ridge Boulevard and 67th Street shortly before 6 p.m., authorities said. After parking her car, she returned to find her son being shoved by Nelson.

When Elsokary — a native New Yorker — approached Nelson, he allegedly shouted, "ISIS (expletive), I will cut your throat, go back to your country!" before he fled the scene, authorities said. She didn't identify herself as a cop and was unarmed.

Elsokary got emotional speaking about her experience at a news briefing Monday. She said Sunday was the first time in her life she'd experienced such an encounter and vowed to continue fighting for the rights of all New Yorkers.

Nelson was ordered held on $50,000 bail after his arraignment Monday on a felony charge of menacing as a hate crime. His attorney didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from the Associated Press.  

Photo Credit: Handout
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State Police Responded to 50 Crashes as Snow Coated State

Car Flips Over at Gas Station in Montville

Bridgeport Men Charged in Home Invasion, Arson in Massachusetts


Two Connecticut men have been arrested after a home invasion and arson led to the death of a man in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.

The victim was identified Monday as 24-year-old Kevin Cabrera of Fitchburg.

The suspects, 37-year-old Ramon Milan and 32-year-old Jose Crespo, both of Bridgeport, were arraigned Monday in Bridgeport District Court on fugitive from justic charges. They did not agree to be returned to Massachusetts and their cases have been continued to Jan. 3.

Fitchburg Police and Fire Departments first responded to reports of a fire on Laurel Street late Saturday night.

After further investigation, authorities learned that two masked men, one of whom had a gun, entered an apartment and started the fire after attempting to rob three people inside. Police believe the suspects broke into the house, assaulted the victims, tied them up, and then set the house on fire. The suspects concentrated their assualt on one of the victims while the other two managed to escape. One victim remained trapped inside and later died.

Milan and Crespo are charged with assault with a deadly weapon, arson of a building, and armed home invasion.

Worcester County District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. called the crime, "horrific" in a press conference held Sunday. His office is working to secure warrants to bring them back to Fitchburg to face charges.

Fitchburg Police believe the act was not random and that the victims were targeted, but the investigation is still ongoing.

Photo Credit: necn

Better Business Bureau Warns of ‘Missed Delivery’ Scam


Even if you are not ordering gift online, you could fall victim to a scam that makes it look like a delivery service could not deliver a gift someone sent you, according to the Connecticut Better Business Bureau.

At this time of year, criminals go into high gear, phishing for personal information and money with fake "Missed Delivery" notices, according to the Better Business Bureau.

"It is not unusual to receive a parcel with a gift you bought or sent by someone else," Connecticut Better Bureau spokesman Howard Schwartz said in a statement. "As a result, someone might not have any reason to doubt that an email or phone call, supposedly from a delivery company, is fake."

People targeted in the scam might be told that a truck driver was unable to deliver a package and that you must click on a link to set up another delivery date. Or, you might be prompted to open and print out an attachment to complete the delivery process.

In either case, the links and attachments will likely unleash a virus or other malware that can track your logins and passwords online or corrupt your computer files.

Delivery companies and the U.S. Postal Service won’t send a missed delivery or similar notice by email. Instead, a driver who is unable to complete the deliver will leave a tag on your door about scheduling another delivery date or arranging to pick the package up at the delivery depot.

Package thefts are also common this year, with thieves traveling neighborhoods to look for packages on doorsteps or in lobbies of apartment or condo complexes.

Criminals follow delivery and postal trucks so they will know where they can steal parcels. When the truck leaves, the crooks move in and grab the parcels.

To protect yourself:

Ignore calls to action over the phone and in email - Remember that delivery companies will never initiate contact by email or phone if you are not home to accept a parcel or envelope. Ignore emails that encourage you to click a link or open an attachment to reschedule your delivery. Instead, look for a missed delivery tag on your door. Another sign of a fraudulent email is poor grammar and spelling.

To prevent package theft, arrange to have gifts you bought delivered to a neighbor, trusted friend or your workplace.

When you place an order, hold onto the tracking number. It will tell you when the parcel was shipped to give you an idea of where it is along the route, and when it might arrive.

Antivirus and anti-malware protection is only effective if you update the software and scan your computer weekly.

Aside from malware, computers can be stolen or crash and destroy your hard drive. Use a storage drive to back up your files in case of a catastrophic breakdown.

Photo Credit: NBC10

Tyler's Take: Surge of Cold


Ready for a taste of winter cold? It's coming. Ryan's off today, so I'll take the reins and update the blog with "Tyler's Take."

After a quick coating to an inch of snow this morning, the active pattern isn’t going to quit anytime soon. Roads across Connecticut were relatively problem-free when compared to New Hampshire, which saw snow cover even the biggest highways during the height of the morning commute. A few accidents were reported here in Connecticut. No doubt, the pretreatment paid off.

Our next focus is a bout of rain and snow Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. Without even digging into the details, the timing is conducive for snow to stick. But while high pressure will be overhead beforehand, the setup looks unimpressive in terms of cold air.

Dew points will be around 32 degrees Tuesday night, meaning temperatures won’t fall much below freezing. The atmosphere will be within a degree or two below freezing in the lowest few thousand feet, so the consistency of the snow will likely be wet.

Given this marginal temperature profile, the precipitation will likely be predominately rain along the shoreline, with the hill towns seeing snow and the valley experiencing a mix of rain and snow. There isn’t a ton of moisture to work with, so like this morning’s event, a coating to an inch or two of snow is in the cards for the hills of northwest and northeast Connecticut.

An event like this demands greater intensity precipitation in order to cool the atmosphere, but that doesn’t look to be the case this time around. Thus, most roads will likely stay wet, but could turn icy given the hour of day and temperatures close to freezing.

The other story is cold air. A big surge of cold air arrives Thursday and high temperatures fall going into the weekend.

The European model consensus is temperatures about 10 degrees below average, which results in highs barely cracking freezing on Saturday. This weekend, morning low temperatures could plunge into the teens.

What about record low temperatures? Not even close. Take Saturday, for example. The record low temperature is 1 degree, set back in 1964, and the record low maximum is 16 degrees, set back in 1917. Very old records!

It’s likely that a number of southern New England ski areas begin making snow late this week.

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Victim Robbed at Gunpoint During Craigslist Transaction: PD


West Hartford police are investigating after a person trying to sell a phone through Craigslist was robbed at gunpoint by the would-be buyer.

Police said the victim reported that he had put the phone up for sale on Craigslist and agreed to meet a potential buyer at 956 New Britain Avenue on Friday around 9:30 p.m. The victim said at the meeting the suspect pulled out a gun and demanded the phone for sale as well as the victim’s new phone. The suspect threatened to shoot the victim multiple times, police said.

The suspect also hit the victim’s car while driving away. The victim was not injured in the incident.

West Hartford police are investigating. The suspect is described as male with a thin build in his 20s. He fled in a white vehicle, possibly an Acura.

Anyone with information on this crime is asked to contact Det. Gary Ciarleglio at 860-570-8874. Police encourage citizens to conduct these kinds of meets at well-lit and, if possible, video-recorded public places. The West Hartford Police Department parking lot is available as a location.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Who's Who in Trump's Brain Trust


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Car Stolen From Windsor World War II Vet Has Been Found


A World War II veteran and widower from Windsor whose car and Bible were stolen has his car back.

Paul Cassarino served in WWII with the 447th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Corps when he was 22-years-old.

Two weeks ago, he was getting ready to visit the grave where his wife of 69 years is buried and read passages from their Bible, but his car was gone.

Someone went into his open garage on Farmstead Lane in Windsor, found a set of spare keys on a hook, and took his car along with everything inside it.

"That car means everything to me," Cassarino said.

Afte Cassarino's car was stolen, his son drove him around, but he was not able to go to the cemetery as often he would go on his own.

"This is an open letter to the person who stole my 2001 Mercury Sable station wagon from my garage," he said.

"My car is my survival for transportation to empty trash at the landfill, to go to the grocery store, go to my church, and to go to the cemetery every day to visit, talk and read the Bible to my late wife. In my car were my Bibles that my wife and I read together and that I would take to the cemetery to read to her; my tools that I have had for over 50 years; my personal belongings and other memorabilia that is priceless to me. My English version daily reader of the Vulgate Bible New Testament was especially dear to her and me. I read it to her every day when we were together and took it every day to the cemetery to read to her," he added. 

Cassarino appealed for whoever stole his car and his Vulgate Bible to return them.

Windsor police said Cassarino's car was found in Hartford on Sunday night.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Man Charged in Sex Assaults of 62- and 19-Year Old Women in Norwich


A former Norwich man has been charged in two brutal sexual assaults in September, including one that sent a 62-year-old woman to the hospital for several days.

Police previously arrested 34-year-old Edward Simpson, formerly of Norwich, in connection with the sexual assault of a 19-year-old woman. On Monday morning, they added charges connected to the sex assault of the 62-year-old victim. 

Police said the assaults happened two days in a row in September.

He is accused of beating and sexually assaulting the 62-year-old woman on Sept. 17 on the east side of Norwich. She was so badly assaulted that she was moved from William W. Backus Hospital to Hartford Hospital, where she remained for several days, police said.

Simpson was previously charged in the beating and sexual assault of a 19-year-old woman on West Thames Street on Sept. 18.

He was charged first-degree kidnapping, first-degree criminal attempt at sexual assault, third-degree sexual assault and third-degree assault in the third degree in connection with the West Thames Street assault.

Simpson, who has been in custody since Sept. 19, was arrested today in connection with the assault on Sept. 17 as he appeared in court for the previous sexual assault case, police said.

Simpson has also been charged with first-degree aggravated sexual assault and first-degree assault of the elderly and held on an additional $500,000 court-set bond.

Photo Credit: Norwich Police
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