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State Settles Wrongful Death Suit in Salem Police Shooting


The state of Connecticut has agreed to pay $950,000 to the estate of a Salem man who was killed in a police shooting during a fire at his house in 2013, according to the law firm representing the estate.

Robert Bergeson, a 59-year-old retired Pfizer manager, was shot by a State Police trooper after acting in a threatening way when officials responded to the flames engulfing his garage and home, according to officials.

The Reardon Law Firm of New London released a statement on Wednesday, saying the settlement was finalized today and that the wrongful death case was scheduled to go to trial in federal court in January.  

Firefighters arrived at Bergeson's Witter Road home on the night of June 18, 2013 to find the house and detached garage engulfed in flames. 

Police said firefighters "discovered evidence to suggest that the fire may have been intentionally set" and proceeded with caution.

As firefighters fought the flames, Bergeson was shot and killed by state police.

Police have said the man was acting irrationally, charging them and waving a large blunt object that looked like a club.

A statement from the law firm representing the estate says Bergeson became emotionally distraught when his wife of 27 years divorced him.

She was awarded 60 percent of the Witter Road home and Bergeson alerted the fire department that he was going to burn the house down because he did not want his ex-wife to get the property, according to the statement from the Reardon Law Firm.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Facebook's Sandberg Says Fake News Didn't Sway Election


Facebook has faced backlash after fake news sites used the platform to spread misinformation about the nominees during the 2016 presidential election. But the social media giant's chief operating officer said Thursday the impact fake news had on the election has been exaggerated.

“There have been claims that it swayed the election, and we don't think it swayed the election,'' Sheryl Sandberg said in an interview on NBC's "Today" show.

Sandberg added that Facebook takes its responsibilities seriously and is looking into ways to keep fake news from spreading online without compromising freedom of expression.

During the election, fake news sites masked as informative websites published stories making untrue claims, including Pope Francis endorsing Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton running a sex ring out of a Washington, D.C., pizzeria. The latter led one man to bring a military-style rifle to the pizza shop in a misguided attempt to rescue child sex slaves he thought were held inside. 

Edgar Maddison Welch is now facing jail time after opening fire inside Comet Ping Pong. He told The New York Times "the intel on this wasn't 100 percent," but wouldn't dismiss the online claims.

A few weeks after the election, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg detailed a new initiative to combat the diffusion of fake news. He wrote that he plans on "improving Facebook technical ability to detect misinformation, making it easier for users to report stories as untrue, working with fact checking organizations to create third-party verification and labeling stories that other users have flagged as false," NBC News reported.

While on "Today," Sandberg also revealed Facebook’s top global stories in 2016. The American election dominated for the second year in a row as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton took center stage internationally. 

Sandberg said that she thought the new Facebook Live feature allowed Americans to engage with the political process in a way they hadn’t before. By being able to live stream clips from the debates, for example, the electorate had unprecedented access to political discourse at all hours and regardless of location. Sandberg also said Facebook Live has given the Black Lives Matter movement visibility that catapulted the civil rights protesters into the spotlight. 

“Black Lives Matter has been happening for years,” Sandberg said. “This was the first year it broke into top 10 on Facebook, and we think that's partially because the power of live helps people bear witness."

Photo Credit: Slaven Vlasic/ Getty Images for Advertising Wee
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19-Year-Old Pedestrian Struck by SUV in Bridgeport Dies


A teen pedestrian who was hit by an SUV in Bridgeport on Wednesday night has died, city officials said. 

Ismael A. Colon, of Bridgeport, was walking across Washington Avenue when he was hit by a silver SUV near Pequonnock Street around 5:44 p.m. that fled the scene toward Coleman Street, police said. 

Colon sustained head and brain trauma and died at Saint Vincent's Hospital.

Anyone with information about the driver or collision is asked to call police at (203) 576-TIPS or (203) 576-8477.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

New Haven Islamic Center Receives Threatening Letter


Police are on patrol at a mosque in Orange after it received a threatening letter that was addressed to "the children of Satan."

"You are evil," the letter reads. "But your day of reckoning has arrived."

The executive director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations in Connecticut, or CAIR-CT, said the group asked the police department for additional patrols at the New Haven Islamic Center in Orange.

"It’s very disgusting for me. It’s very ridiculous," Dr. Mohamed Abdelati, the Imam with the New Haven Islamic Center, said.

Abdelati said the letter went to the center's previous address in West Haven and whoever sent it included a return address in New Haven, even though the envelope was postmarked in Santa Clarita, California.

That letter says that President-elect Donald Trump will "cleanse" the United States of "you Muslims."

"There's a new sheriff in town -- President Donald Trump," the letter NBC Connecticut obtained reads. "And he's going to cleanse American and make it shine again. And, he's going to start with you Muslims."

CAIR-CT’s executive director, Mongi Dhaouadi, said incidents targeting Muslim-Americans have spiked since the November election.

“This act of hate campaign targeting a Connecticut house of worship must be investigated by state and federal law enforcement authorities and our state’s leaders should speak out against the growing anti-Muslim bigotry that inevitably leads to such incidents,” Dhaouadi said.

Dhaouadi and the CAIR-CT is calling on all Americans to speak out against such language.

"This is our country," Abdelati said. "We have to serve this country together. We have to build it together and we have to ignore all of those people."

Mosques in Massachusetts and Rhode Island also received the letter.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

2-Year-Old Bridgeport Girl Reported Missing Is Safe


A Silver Alert issued for a 2-year-old Bridgeport girl was canceled nearly an hour after police issued it and police said the girl is safe.

The initial alert said she 2-year-old Hailey Greene was with her mother and might have been in a black 1998 Nissan Maxima with Connecticut plate AC-91802.

Hailey and her mother are at Troop G and are unharmed.

First the Cold, Then the Snow


The forecast looks like winter over the next 10 days.

Temperatures will only reach the middle 30s Friday, and it will be windy with a few flurries.

Saturday looks cold – more than 10 degrees below average – as high temperatures won't even crack freezing. The breeze will make it feel even colder.

A storm approaches later Sunday, so intermittent or light snow is increasingly possible later in the day.

Temperatures will only rise into the middle 30s ahead of Sunday's snow.

The snow will likely change to a mix of snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain Sunday night and early Monday.

There still remains uncertainty as to the exact track and timing of the storm.

If the storm tracks south of Connecticut, it will remain mostly snow. The other question that remains to be answered is when the precipitation ends. It's likely sometime on Monday, but the spread in possibilities is quite large.

Whatever happens with the track, a few inches of snow are possible since cold air will be in place initially.

A slight warming trend will be observed Tuesday, when temperatures will rebound into the middle 30s. But it won't last.

Even colder air (than this weekend) arrives Wednesday, and lasts through the end of the week. Most areas in Connecticut will remain below freezing starting Wednesday and lasting through at least Saturday.

That's a great opportunity for ski areas in Connecticut to make snow and open the third weekend of December.

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Tsunami Warnings Cancelled After Big Pacific Earthquake


Tsunami warnings for several Pacific islands, including those in Hawaii, were canceled Friday after authorities determined that a powerful magnitude 7.7 earthquake that struck near the Solomon Islands did not pose a broad tsunami threat.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said waves of up to 3 meters (10 feet) were still possible along the coast of the Solomon Islands and smaller tsunami waves could hit Papua New Guinea.

There were reports of some power outages in the Solomon Islands, although there were no immediate reports of widespread damage or injuries from the quake.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake hit about 200 kilometers (120 miles) southeast of Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands. The epicenter was relatively deep at 48 kilometers (30 miles) below the surface. Deeper quakes generally cause less damage on the ground.

The Solomon Islands are located in the Pacific's geologically active "Ring of Fire."

Photo Credit: USGS

'Freak Accident' Killed 2 Toddlers


Two toddler sisters who died at a Bronx apartment building on Wednesday were killed by exposure to hot steam, the NYC Office of Chief Medical Examiner has ruled.

Mayor de Blasio pledged a thorough, multi-agency investigation into the "freak accident" that claimed the lives of the sisters when a radiator valve malfunctioned at the city-owned Bronx apartment building where they were staying while homeless.

On Thursday, the Office of Chief Medical Examiner said the cause of the girls' deaths was "hyperthermia and thermal injuries due to exposure to hot steam." The death was accidental, it said.

High-pressure steam shot out of the radiator valve, filling the apartment on Hunts Point Avenue shortly after noon Wednesday. The children, identified as Scylee Vayoh, 1, and Ibanez Ambrose, 2, were severely burned.

At a news briefing Thursday, de Blasio said multiple agencies, including the NYPD and Department of Homeless Services, are investigating what he said appeared to be an "extraordinary and unprecedented accident." 

"No one I've talked to so far in any agency has ever seen anything like this," de Blasio said. "We need to understand what happened here. This was a freak accident, a series of painful coincidences that led to the loss of these children."

The mayor said the problem appeared contained to the radiator valve in the children's apartment. He said authorities canvassed their building and an adjacent building after the accident, looking for warning signs, and found no indication of other problematic radiators. The heat, which temporarily had been turned off as a safety precaution as authorities investigated, was restored.

De Blasio said an investigation of the apartment building last month yielded no "high priority" violations. And he said there were no specific complaints to the city's knowledge that would have indicated such a tragedy was looming. NYPD officials said Thursday that another routine inspection on Monday didn't reveal anything "untoward."

"We are trying to put the pieces together but so far cannot understand how something like this could have happened," de Blasio said.

Kids' drawings and photos decorated the small apartment where the children lived with their parents, the mayor said, describing the scene as painful to see.

"It was clearly a warm and loving household," de Blasio said.

Neighbors told NBC 4 New York they heard a loud boom at the time of the steam blast and fled the building.

"The babies came out, they were burned all over the body -- burned blue, and there was no fire, so steam coming from somewhere," said Martiza Morales, recalling they "were not moving at all."

The children's parents ran out in tears, neighbors said.

"They were screaming for help. They say the radiator exploded in there," said Annie Martinez.

Martinez said she was supposed to babysit for the children on Thursday, and hasn't been albe to sleep since the explosion. She said she had been complaining about conditions in her apartment for months and nothing was done until after the blast. 

"All these tenants have been giving complaints," she said. "All these violations and they didn't do anything about it."

Radio transmissions between the dispatcher and emergency responders revealed a grim scene.

"It looks like it might have been something to do with a heater," the dispatcher could be heard saying. "We don't know if it blew up or what. But a heater injured those two kids, and they're in cardiac arrest right now."

"We got a lot of calls for smoke, so it looks like it might have been steam," the dispatcher added.

The city's social services department said after the blast that the children and their family were among five placed at the apartment building being used as a so-called "cluster site" -- a building with a mix of renters and homeless families. The other families at the apartment were moved to other shelters.

"We are devastated by this tragedy," the department said in a statement. "We are investigating and taking steps to immediately transfer the four other families being sheltered at this location to another shelter.”

City records show that the apartment where the blast went off had no open violations with the city, but that the building itself had 60 violations. There had been 46 complaints called into 311 this year for the building, including three for radiators."

One of the landlords of the building was on the city advocate's list of the 100 worst landlords. NBC 4 New York has reached out to the landlord's attorney for comment.

In a statement Thursday, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer said he was outraged by the deaths of the children and called on the city to release a roadmap to tackle the homeless crisis.

"Cluster sites can be extremely dangerous for homeless families. Hotels are extraordinarily expensive and provide limited services. These options make no sense," Stringer said. "That’s why we need a clear, transparent, public plan. While I know that progress will take time, we cannot continue to accept the status quo. The city promised to end its reliance on both of these forms of shelter – and we are no doubt trending in the wrong direction."

Stringer said cluster sites not previously identified for closure have more than 13,000 open violations, including 1,000 that are "high priority."

"What a horrifying loss," he said of the little girls who lost their lives. "My heart goes out to this family in this time of unimaginable pain."

De Blasio said Thursday the city wants to move away from cluster sites, but doesn't want homeless people living on the street. He said his administration would work to develop a timeline and additional strategic planning. In the meantime, he said the city will perform checks at 3,000 cluster sites.

A representative for the non-profit Bedco, which placed the Ambrose family, declined to comment to NBC 4 New York. The city said it was in the process of entering a contract with Bedco to place more homeless families.

Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY

Police Searching for Vernon Bank Robber


Police are investigating a bank robbery in Vernon this morning and they are asking for help to find the robber. 

The robbery happened at United Bank, at 25 Park St. in Vernon, around 9:20 a.m. on Thursday. 

Police said the robber appeared to be between 60 and 70 years-old and wore glasses, a knit hat and a black puffy winter coat. 

Vernon police are asking for help from the public to identify him. 

Anyone who knows the man should call the Vernon Police Department at (860) 872-9126 and either dial 0 for a dispatcher or 9 to leave a tip in a voice mail box.

Photo Credit: Vernon Police

Mom Found Not Guilty of Manslaughter of RHAM Teacher


A woman who was accused of drinking and backing into a seventh grade RHAM teacher in Hebron in March 2014 was acquitted of all charges in connection with the teacher's death, but was found guilty of misconduct with a motor vehicle, according to court officials.

In addition to misconduct with a motor vehicle, Elizabeth Everett had also been charged with second-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle, operating a vehicle while under the influence, second-degree manslaughter and unsafe backing, according to online court records, and she pleaded not guilty.

Court documents say Everett, of Hebron, was dropping off her son at the high school on March 14, 2014 when she accidentally entered the bus lane and backed up, going at least 14 miles per hour, when he hit Dawn Mallory, a math teacher.

Mallory died two weeks later after she was taken off life support and her family sued Everett and settled that suit for $1.1 million.

Police said Everett had been drinking prior to the crash, and her blood alcohol content was .07, just shy of the legal limit of .08, according to the warrant for her arrest.

Everett’s lawyer said she made a mistake and drove into the bus lane by accident and was trying to back out.

After Mallory’s death, the school added speed bumps and changed traffic patterns to make the area safe.

Everett will be sentenced on the misconduct charge on Feb. 28 in Rockville.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

East Lyme Gets Step Closer to Independent Police Force


The Town of East Lyme is one step closer to becoming an independent police force. 

Officials selected six members to make up the new East Lyme Police Commission Wednesday. 

The commission, along with the first selectman, will oversee hiring a new police chief and making the transition from a resident state trooper. 

The commission will meet next week to appoint a chair and outline policies and procedures. 

First Selectman Mark Nickerson said he hopes to have a chief in place by April, but wants the position filled no later than July. 

The decision to make the change to an independent police force came down to money and having someone who is local and fully invested in the community to lead the department. 

The East Lyme Police Department already has its own equipment and 22 full-time officers, Nickerson said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

New Haven Cafe Helps Out Less Fortunate


Since March 2015, on the corner of Olive and Chapel streets in New Haven, there has been a daily breakfast served to those in need. But what happens every day at the Sunrise Café is about more than just giving the less fortunate something to eat.

“We all like to start out the day in a bright, happy place, so the idea was to start with a free breakfast where people could come and start the day” John Bradley, the executive director of the Liberty Community Services, said.

The cafe is run by Liberty Community Services in early 2015. Each weekday, all year long, any person who so desires can come in and be served a hot breakfast at no charge. More than 100, and sometimes closer to 200, people show up for the meal each morning.

Bradley is a Yale University alum and many current students volunteer daily at the café to help bridge the gap between the university and the community it occupies.

“There are amazing people here. I just think that everyone gets hooked as soon as they come here,” Darby Henry, a Yale senior who has volunteered at the café since she was a sophomore, said.

“It’s not a handout, It’s about giving a helping hand,” said Thelma Ragsdale, the café manager who started out as a volunteer.

The café is also about more than meals. Visitors can get information about housing and even healthcare services.

“We try to reach out to them and engage them and try to empower them to come into healthcare and engage with us,” said Phil Costello, a nurse practitioner at Cornell Scott – Hill Health Center who makes regular visits to serve the café’s clients.

Clients can receive prescription refills and testing for things like tuberculosis, HIV and more.

“We feel this is a way to build community and a way to make New Haven smaller” Bradley said.

Hartford Man Charged in 3 Cold Case Murders


A Hartford man was arrested Thursday and charged with the fatal shooting of one man in Hartford in June 2008 and then using the same gun to kill two more men in an unrelated incident two months later. 

Harold Patterson, 34, of Hartford, is charged with three counts of murder in the shooting death of 34-year-old Raymond “Flip” Hite on June 5, 2008, on Acton Street in Hartford and the unrelated shooting deaths of 21-year-old Lamar Gresham and 23-year-old Carlos Ortiz on August 25, 2008 on Edwards Street in Hartford, officials said. 

According to the arrest warrant affidavits, Hite was shot multiple times and police found him lying in the middle of Acton Street shortly before 12:30 a.m. on June 5, 2008. He died a short time later at Hartford Hospital. 

Gresham and Ortiz were shot at 3:15 a.m. during a drive-by shooting as they were walking along Edwards Street, officials said, and both died later that morning at Hartford Hospital. 

Investigators determined that shell casings found at the scene of all three homicides were fired from the same gun, which was also linked to two other shooting incidents in Hartford in June and August of 2008, officials said, and the gun has not been recovered. 

Patterson is being held on a total of $3 million bond and will be arraigned Friday. 

Photo Credit: Hartford Police

Former Astronaut John Glenn Dies at 95


Former astronaut and U.S. Sen. John Glenn died at the age of 95 on Dec. 8, 2016.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File

'Aren't Many Heroes Left': World Reacts to John Glenn's Death


John Glenn was once called "the last true national hero America has ever made," and when the astronaut-turned-senator died Thursday at 95, it prompted an outpouring of condolences from all walks of American life.

As the first American to orbit the Earth, Glenn's was one of the most instantly recognizable faces in the United States at the start of the Space Age. It was author Tom Wolfe who dubbed him the nation's "last true national hero," and Glenn rode that fame and love like a rocket into the U.S. Senate, serving Ohio for 24 years before returning to space again in 1998 at 77 years old — another first.

Both the president and president-elect marked the moment Thursday.

"When John Glenn blasted off from Cape Canaveral atop an Atlas rocket in 1962, he lifted the hopes of a nation. And when his Friendship 7 spacecraft splashed down a few hours later, the first American to orbit the Earth reminded us that with courage and a spirit of discovery there's no limit to the heights we can reach together," President Barack Obama wrote in a statement. "John always had the right stuff, inspiring generations of scientists, engineers and astronauts who will take us to Mars and beyond—not just to visit, but to stay."

Trump tweeted that Glenn is "a great pioneer of air and space" who will be missed.

Many took to social media to mark Glenn's outsized life.

"Aren’t many Heroes left," astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson wrote on Twitter shortly after his death was announced.

"As we bow our heads and share our grief with his beloved wife, Annie, we must also turn to the skies, to salute his remarkable journeys and his long years of service to our state and nation," Ohio Gov. John Kasich wrote.

NASA, famed Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and many others said goodbye online as well:

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File
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Manchester Officer Shoots, Kills Pitbull Attacking Teen


A Manchester police officer shot and killed a pitbull that was attacking a 14-year-old girl on Wednesday. 

Manchester Police responded to a dog biting complaint on Vernon Street at 12:30 p.m. 

When Officer Joseph Davis arrived to the scene, the house's smoke alarm was going off and he could hear screaming from inside the home.

Davis walked into the kitchen where a toaster was on fire and flamers were reaching the cabinets.  The officer found a 14-year-old girl sitting on a kitchen counter, screaming that a dog was attacking her friend. 

The teen was instructed to run out of the house as Davis followed screams into the next room, where he found the other teenage girl and blood on the floor.

Police said a large pitbull, weighing approximately 100 pounds, was jumping towards a TV stand where the girl was hiding behind. The officer said the girl had blood on her arms and midsection.

Davis called out to the dog in an effort to distract the pitbull but the dog continued charging the girl. When Davis tried to call out to the dog a second time, the dog ran toward him in an aggressive manner, police said. 

When the dog ran towards Davis, he discharged his gun and killed the dog. 

The officer was able to get himself and the teen suffering from puncture wounds out of the house as the residence filled with smoke, police said. 

The teen victims told police that they had come home early from school and found the fire alarm going off with smoke coming out of the house. The girls said the dog seemed agitated and was running around before biting one of the girls. When her friend tried to pull the dog away, she got bit and was dragged across the floor by the dog. She was bitten several times before they were able to call 911.

The 14-year-old was transported to Connecticut Children's Hospital to be treated. 

The Life of Astronaut John Glenn


Photo Credit: NASA

St. Francis Warns Heart Surgery Patients of Infection Risk


St. Francis is among several hospitals warning thousands of patients about contaminated devices used during surgery that could put them at risk for infection. 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said a device used during open-heart surgery may have been contaminated during manufacturing and infections could be life-threatening. 

LivaNova PLC's Stocker 3T heater-cooler device is used to keep a patient's circulating blood and organs at a specific temperature during cardiac procedures. More than 250,000 heart bypass procedures using this kind of device are performed every year in the United States. Out of those surgeries, approximately 60 percent of procedures used the devices linked to the infections patients are experiencing, according to the CDC. 

Patients experiencing symptoms associated with infections such as night sweats, muscle aches, weight loss or fever should seek medical help, the CDC said. 

St. Francis Hospital in Hartford said they are working to alert approximately 3,000 patients who underwent open heart procedure in the last several years about possible infection, the hospital said in a statement. 

In addition to reaching out to patients, the hospital is replacing the at-risk equipment this month. 

The hospital asks that anyone who had an open heart surgical procedure between Jan. 1, 2012 to Nov. 17, 2017 and are experiencing symptoms to contact CDC Info at 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) or find more information the CDC website

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

US Stock Indexes Close at Record Highs


Major U.S. stock indexes are closing at record highs for the second day in a row, as a post-election rally continued following a key monetary policy announcement from the European Central Bank, CNBC reported.

The Dow Jones industrial average briefly rose more than 100 points before closing 65 points higher, with Goldman Sachs contributing the most gains.

The S&P 500 closed 0.2 percent higher while the Nasdaq composite rose 0.4 percent.

"This really is the Trump trade," said Phil Blancato, CEO of Ladenburg Thalmann Asset Management. "This trade is about the potential for a more pro-business economy."

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Woman Stole Christmas Gifts Delivered to Shelton Homes: Police


Shelton police arrested a woman Thursday accused of stealing Christmas gifts delivered to homes in town.

Officers were called to Aspetuck Village condo complex on Aspetuck Trail after people reported seeing a woman taking packages that were delivered by UPS.

The woman left the area before police arrived, but witnesses were able to get a description of the woman's vehicle, including the license plate number, according to police.

A short time later, police found the vehicle traveling on Route 8 North and pulled it over. Inside they found 33-year-old Andrea Guliuzza, of Waterbury, and 12 packages in plain view.

According to police, 10 of the packages were from five different addresses in Shelton and two were from Waterbury addresses.

Guliuzza was taken into custody and held on $5,000 bond. She was charged with five counts of sixth-degree larceny and possession of drug paraphernalia and is scheduled to be in court on Friday.

Photo Credit: Shelton Police
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