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Preston Church Vandalized Over Christmas Holiday


Police are investigating after someone caused up to $10,000 worth of damage to a Preston church.

According to a letter sent to parishioners, someone vandalized the Saint Catherine Church on Route 164 sometime between 11:30 a.m. on Christmas and 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Church officials said the vandal, or vandals, smashed an entrance door, damaged a door to the Sacristy, broke the Easter (Paschal) candle and two pedestals, and smashed a statue of Saint Catherine in the church. The perpetrators also stole a cross and tore an icon of the Blessed Trinity off a wall.

Officials estimate it will cost between $8,000 and $10,000 to repair all the damage.

State police are investigating. Anyone with information on this crime is asked to contact Preston Resident State Trooper Tim Paige at 860-848-6500.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Randy Edsall Excited to Return as UConn Head Football Coach


Randy Edsall will be returning as head coach to the UConn football team in 2017, and on Friday was formally welcomed back at Rentschler Field.

Edsall spent 12 seasons with the Uconn football program from 1999 through the 2010 season and averaged eight wins per season. He racked up 74 wins in that time and lead UConn from a Division I-AA to Division I-A in 2002.

Many were upset at the way Edsall announced his departure from UConn after the Fiesta Bowl in 2010.

On Friday Edsall acknowledged that he made a mistake and apologized to the fans.

“Almost six years ago I made one of the worst decisions, in terms of how I left the University of Connecticut," he said. "That is something that I have to live with, and I’ve lived with. I’m not perfect. Everybody makes a mistake. I regret it.”

Edsall also said he was hoping he could move passed the mistake and focus on growing the team and winning.

"I just hope that I will be able to earn the trust back of all the wonderful fans because what I’m doing now is I apologize for how I left. It was wrong. I take full ownership and accountability for that, and now we’re gonna move forward together to grow this program," he said.

Edsall said he had already spoken to some of the players and was excited to get to work.

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Edsall left his post as head coach at UConn in 2011 to take what he called his dream job as coach of the University of Maryland football team. He was fired from that job in 2015. Most recently he worked with the NFL’s Detroit Lions as the Director of Research – Special Projects.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Blazing Comet to Brighten New Year's Eve Sky


Fireworks won’t be the only thing lighting up the night sky on New Year’s Eve – according to NASA, a comet may be visible as we ring in the new year.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages many of NASA's robotic missions exploring the universe, tweeted that comet Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova will cut through the New Year’s Eve sky. The post included an image of the comet from Oc.t 2011, when it was last visible from Earth.

If conditions are clear, Comet 45P will be visible through binoculars or a telescope to the west, blazing with a blue-green head and a thin fan-shaped tail. The comet will appear to meet the crescent moon high in the sky on New Year’s Eve, NASA said.

According to NASA, the comet will be visible through binoculars around 6:30 p.m.

The comet returns to our solar system every five or so years, according to NASA.

Another fun sight for those with a telescope – on New Year’s Eve Mars and Neptune will appear close together, contrasting rusty red with blue-green.

For more information, visit NASA's website.

Photo Credit: NASA
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Sears to Close Enfield Square Location


Sears has announced it will be closing its location at the Enfield Square Mall.

According to company spokesman Howard Riefs, the store at 90 Elm Street will close to the public in April. A liquidation sale will begin on Jan. 6.

Riefs did not say how many employees would be losing their jobs, but said that those associates will be eligible for severance and can apply for other positions at other Sears or Kmart stores.

The Sears Auto Center is not closing.

“We have been strategically and aggressively evaluating our store space and productivity, and will be accelerating the closing of unprofitable stores as we have previously announced,” Riefs wrote in an email.

“We often hear from our members who are disappointed when we close a store, but our Shop Your Way membership platform, websites and mobile apps allow us to maintain these valued relationships long after a store closes its doors. As a result, we hope to retain a portion of the sales previously associated with this store by maintaining our relationships with the members who shopped this location.”

Enfield Mayor Scott Kaupin told NBC Connecticut that while he is concerned for the employees who will lose jobs, the closure was not unexpected. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Rain and Snow Showers New Year's Eve


A fast-moving system passing to the north of Connecticut will bring some snow showers late on New Year's Eve.

Some towns could pick up a coating of snow.

No reason to cancel plans, just be aware that there could be some slick spots when traveling for New Year's Eve plans.

Sunday will be milder with lots of sunshine.

Come Monday, freezing drizzle is possible. Stay tuned.

Rain is expected Tuesday, because temperatures will be well above freezing.

Late next week, there's a chance for a snowstorm.

Alcohol Banned on Metro-North for New Year's


Alcohol will be banned on Metro-North trains and stations for New Year's.

The ban will start at noon on New Year's Eve and end at noon on New Year's day. 

MTA police officers will be on duty at Grand Central Terminal, stations throughout the region and on trains enforcing the restriction. 

Police will confiscate beverages and issue summonses to any violators. People drinking at these locations can also be removed from the train or platform. 

For more, click here.

Photo Credit: AP

Officials Urge Consumers to Redeem Gift Cards Soon


As the season of giving winds down, it’s time to treat yourself again. However as Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan Harris notes, where consumers shop will affect how well their plastic is protected under state law. 

“Know what kind of card you’re buying for someone, or know what kind of card is being given to you,” said Commissioner Harris. “Because there are two different basic kinds of cards.”

Gift cards sold in-state have no expiration date and no added fees, unless they’re tied to a federal bank. That information can be found either through the retailer or through the Connecticut Department of Banking’s website. Gift cards associated with national banks can expire in five years, and might come with added fees.

“But no matter what you have, it’s always best to use them quickly because even if there’s protections, the business (might) go out of business. In fact, it happened to me,” said Commissioner Harris.

He says he once received a gift card to a local restaurant, which closed its doors for good before he used it. In those scenarios, gift card holders have two choices: Take the legal route, or shrug it off.

“I probably could have filed a claim for bankruptcy for my pasta, but it probably wasn’t worth the effort,” said Harris. “So it’s always good to use them as quickly as possible.”

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Fans, Players Optimistic About Randy Edsall’s Return to UConn Football


Now that Randy Edsall is returning to UConn Football, both fans and players – past and present – are hopeful the Huskies can be a winning program just like during his first tenure as head coach.

At Friday morning’s press conference, Coach Edsall did not shy away from addressing his abrupt departure for the University of Maryland after the 2011 Fiesta Bowl.

“That is something that I have to live with and I’ve lived with,” Edsall said, “I’m not perfect, everybody makes a mistake. I regret it. It’s something that has weighed on me very heavily.”

“I just hope that I will be able to earn the trust back from all the wonderful fans,” he added. “Because what I’m doing now is I apologize for how I left, it was wrong. I take full ownership and accountability for that and now we’re going to move forward together.”

Steve Peronace, a fan who graduated from UConn in 1991, said he accepts Edsall's apology.

“I felt it was sincere,” Peronace said. “I believe he did regret the way things happened.”

Edsall’s 74 wins from 1999 to 2010 are the most by any coach in school history.

“Enjoyed the time that he was here for the 12 years previously,” Peronace said. “Thought he was a great coach, very good at recruiting under-looked players and building them up.”

Edsall’s wife Eileen is among the many people he thanked at the podium.

“He’s invested a lot of time you know starting it up,” Eileen Edsall told NBC Connecticut. “I mean it was not his baby, he had a lot of help along the way, but anytime in this profession you’re somewhere 12 years and you grow it from one level to the other and your children grow up here, you can’t help but have an emotional investment in it.”

Former UConn running back Andre Dixon said there was no one better to replace the fired Bob Diaco than his old college coach.

“In the past three years as I came to games, the numbers went down, they went down, they went down,” Dixon said of attendance at Rentschler Field. “I think with Edsall in there you’re going to see as you go to games the numbers are going to go up, they’re going to go up, they’re going to go up and it’s going to turn back into the Husky pride and we’re going to be winning some games and bleed blue.”

Toward the end of his remarks, Edsall held back tears describing seeing the statue at the stadium Friday morning for Dixon’s teammate Jasper Howard, who was stabbed to death in 2009.

“I didn’t want to get emotional,” Edsall said. “But this is what Connecticut is all about, this is what Connecticut has meant to me and thank you for having me back. God bless you.”

Edsall and Huskies will get to work on turning the program around starting on Jan. 16. The team has not had a winning season since he left after the 2010 season.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Cop Saves Baby From Moving Car


A police officer leaped into a moving car on the Long Island Expressway to save a toddler inside a dangerously slow moving vehicle when the driver would not respond to the police, authorities say. 

Suffolk County police officer Joe Goss first spotted the woman driving at about 20 mph with a toddler in the backseat on the eastbound L.I.E. in Manorville, and when she wouldn't stop, he acted quickly. 

"I roll down my window, and the motorist rolled down her window as well," Goss said Friday. "I told her to pull over, and with the window down she told me, 'I can't.'"

Goss said he suspected right away she was high on drugs. Then he saw the 22-month toddler in the back of the car.

"When I saw the baby, I gasped and literally started doing [what he learned] to maneuver what we learn in highway patrol to slow traffic down to make it safer," he said, noting the road conditions were "extremely dark." 

The driver, identifed by police as 37-year-old Maria Lagatta of Manorville, slowed down to about 5 mph, and Goss sped past her and parked on the shoulder. He then jumped into her car and through the passenger-side window. 

"I didn't Superman into the car or anything like that," he said wryly. "I'm pretty tall so I was able to lean up. All I had to do was move one of my feet up, like a pool shot move. I was able to lean in and so once I got my hand on it, her hand was on the shifter as well so we just forced it right into park." 

No one was hurt in the maneuver. Goss also said a good Samaritan driving nearby put their hazard lights on and was able to slow down traffic so that Lagatta's vehicle wouldn't get hit while he went to stop her. Goss called that driver "the unsung hero of this."  

"All your training says, don't go into a moving car, and I didn't like the idea of it, but when the window of opportunity was there, and her speed is so slow, I jumped at it," said Goss, a 10-year veteran who's been with highway patrol for two years. "I'm fortunate it worked out the way it did." 

Lagatta was arrested on charges of driving while ability impaired by drugs, aggravated DWI with a child passenger 15 years or younger and endangering the welfare of a child. She was expected to be arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip later Friday. 

It wasn't immediately clear if she had an attorney who could comment on the charges. 

Child Protective Services was notified, and police released her 22-month-old daughter to a relative. 

Photo Credit: Suffolk County PD/NBC 4 NY

Officer Accidentally Shot by Backup


A North Texas police officer is on administrative leave after shooting another officer and the man he was trying to arrest during a traffic stop Thursday night.

Weatherford police said Officer Chris Bumpas is in stable condition after undergoing surgery Thursday night. Bumpas has been on the police force for less than a year and was recently named the Weatherford Police Department's "Rookie of the Year."

At about 9:15 p.m., Bumpas stopped a driver outside the Tequila Bar and Grill on the 2100 block of Tin Top Road. After learning one of the three occupants of the vehicle was wanted, he tried to place the man under arrest.

The man, whose name has not yet been released, became combative and hit Bumpas with a metal flashlight, police said. An officer called to backup Bumpas used a stun gun to try to disable the man, but it had no effect. The backup officer then fired his weapon multiple times, striking the man.

A preliminary investigation revealed the backup officer, whose name has also not been released, accidentally shot Bumpas in the stomach, police said.

"The officer that fired his weapon has been placed on routine administrative leave, per department policy," police spokesman Jason Hayes said.

Weatherford police said Bumpas was transported to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth where he underwent surgery.

The wanted man was also hospitalized and was listed as "guarded," police said. Once he's recovered, he'll be taken to jail where he is expected to face a charge of aggravated assault on a police officer.

A man and woman riding in the wanted man's vehicle were not injured in the incident.

Detectives with the Weatherford Police Department and a member of the Texas Rangers are investigating the shooting. The Texas Rangers are expected to take the lead in the case, which police said is normal protocol for officer-involved shootings in Weatherford.

Photo Credit: Metro

Who Marches in Inaugural Parade?


Forty organizations -- including several military and veterans groups -- will march in President-elect Donald Trump's inaugural parade.

Trump's inaugural committee announced Friday morning which groups accepted an invitation to participate on Jan. 20. 

No high school or university marching band in the D.C. area will march in the parade.

News4 reported earlier this month that no D.C. public school marching bands had applied to participate, after at least one local band played in the past five parades.


Two groups from Northern Virginia will perform: the U.S. Army's Caisson Platoon from Fort Myer and the Tragedy Assistance Marching Unit from Arlington.

The Caisson Platoon is comprised of soldiers on horseback who lead fallen service members to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.

The Tragedy Assistance Marching Unit is part of the nonprofit organization the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), which serves people grieving the death of a loved one who served in the Armed Forces.

Representing Virginia farther south, the Virginia Military Institute Corps of Cadets from Lexington will participate, as well as the caissons battalion of the JROTC at Fishburne Military School in Fishburne.


Here's the full list of groups set to participate:

1st Cavalry Division Horse Cavalry Detachment – Fort Hood, Texas
1st Infantry Commanding General’s Mounted Color – Ft. Riley, Kansas
Boone County Elite 4-H Equestrian Drill Team – Burlington, Kentucky
Caisson Platoon, Fort Myer – Fort Myer, Virginia
Cleveland Police Mounted Unit – Cleveland, Ohio
Coastal Florida Police & Fire Pipes & Drums – Palm Coast, Florida
Columbus North High School Band – Columbus, Indiana
Culver Academy Equestrian – Culver, Indiana
First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Fishburne Military School Army JROTC Caissons Battalion - Fishburne, Virginia
Frankfort High School Band – Ridgeley, West Virginia
Franklin Regional High School Panther Marching Band – Murrysville, Pennsylvania
Indianapolis Metro Police Motorcycle Drill Team – Indianapolis, Indiana
Kids Overseas – Richmond Hill, Georgia
Lil Wranglers – College Station, Texas
Marist College Band – Poughkeepsie, New York
Merced County Sheriff’s Posse – Hilmar, California
Michigan Multi-Jurisdictional Mounted Police Drill Team & Color Guard – Ann Arbor, Michigan
Mid America Cowgirls Rodeo Drill Team – New Buffalo, Michigan
Nassau County Firefighters Pipes & Drums – East Meadow, New York
North Carolina Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association – Hillsborough, North Carolina
NYPD Emerald Society Pipes & Drums – East Moriches, New York
Olivet Nazarene University – Bourbonnais, Illinois
Palmetto Ridge High School Band – Naples, Florida
Russellville High School Band – Russellville, Arkansas
Talladega College Band – Talladega, Alabama
Texas State University Strutters – San Marcos, Texas
The Citadel Regimental Band & Pipes and Summerall Guards – Charleston, South Carolina
The Freedom Riders – Kersey, Colorado
Tragedy Assistance Marching Unit – Arlington, Virginia
Tupelo High School Band – Tupelo, Mississippi
University of Tennessee Marching Band – Knoxville, Tennessee
VMI Corps of Cadets – Lexington, Virginia
West Monroe High School Marching Band – West Monroe, Louisiana

American Veterans - national
Boy Scouts of America - national
US Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations - national
Disabled American Veterans - national
US Border Patrol Pipes & Drums – national
Wounded Warriors - national

Also, each branch of the U.S. military will be represented. Additional participants may be announced later.

Inaugural committee CEO Sara Armstrong said in a statement that people across the United States wanted to participate.

“People from every corner of the country have expressed great interest in President-elect Trump’s inauguration and look forward to continuing a salute to our republic that spans more than two centuries,” she said in a statement.

Trump's inaugural parade will be shorter than previous inaugural parades, inaugural committee spokesman Alex Stroman is quoted as saying in a post published Thursday on Breitbart.com

"... He’s going to have a shortened parade, and he’s going to go into the White House and get some work done before he goes to the [inaugural] balls," Stroman reportedly said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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Prison News Goes Digital


For four years, Antwan Williams has been hustling inside the walls of San Quentin State Prions — hustling for stories.

The current inmate at San Quentin State Prison is now an award-winning co-producer of a podcast called "Ear Hustle," which focuses on the life of inmates and surrounding issues.

"Our goal is to show what life really is like within prison and it's not to highlight or to diminish the crimes we have committed, but it is just to show what life is really like within here," Williams said. 

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The podcast is produced by Williams, another inmate, Earlonne Woods, and a volunteer at the prison, Nigel Poor. It is scheduled to air in May of 2017.

The idea gained attention as it moved up in RadioTopia's "Podquest" competition seeking out creative ideas from independant producers. 

Williams said he wants the podcast to cut through the media's narrative on what prison life is about and tell it from inside the prison walls.

"It's us speaking for ourselves. It's us having a chance to highlight our lives, show our faults, our mistakes and hopefully find some redemption in the things that we're doing," Williams said.

With stories from pets in prison to solitary confinement, William says there is a lot of perspectives to share.

The podcast is now situated in a growing media hub at the state prison.

Starting with the revival of the San Quentin News, an inmate-run newspaper nearly a decade ago, the news program has expanded to video and radio storytelling.

"A lot of people on the streets don’t really realize how important information is and understand the value of it, but we do," said Nelson Theodo Butler, a former reporter on the newspaper.

The San Quentin News is distributed to all of the prisons in California and accepts content from inmates at other locations. It has expanded to include a journalist guild offering classes and opportunities to write for the newspaper or create videos for other programs such as the financial literacy classes.

Rercent stories range from a Prison Yoga Project in Sweden to daily looks at life inside San Quentin.

Rahsaan Thomas, a reporter who covered theatre performances in October, is at the newsroom whenever he can be. He said writing for the paper gives him an outlet and sense of freedom. 

"You guys don’t realize how important that newspaper is to us and how important it is to have that kind of newspaper,” Butler said. "I know people on the streets don’t even buy the newspaper, but guys in here, we take that paper and read it and are like, "Wow! This is really goin’ on."

NBC Bay Area's Michael Bott contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Greenway

Obama Expels Russian For Spying


Four Russian Consulate employees in San Francisco — including a chef accused of being a spy — are among the 35 Russian diplomats ordered to leave the United States within 72 hours by President Barack Obama, the Russian Consul General to San Francisco announced Friday.

Sergey Petrov didn't want to divulge too many details about the ouster at an impromptu and suprise news conference at the embassy on Green Street in Pacific Heights. But he did let reporters in on a "small secret" about one of the the employees told to go back home to the "motherland."

"One of the employees who will be leaving is the chef, who was characterized by the outgoing U.S. Administration as intelligence operative,” Petrov said. He added somberly: “On New Year’s Eve, Dec 31, we will have to cook ourselves … We will not be able to treat our guests to authentic Russian food, his hors d'oeuvres.” Moments later, the Russian Consulate posted a photo of their New Year's spread for the party, including deviled eggs and perogies

Petrov would not name the chef, nor would the State Department. NBC News said the names of the diplomats are not being given out, because they don't want Russia to do the same for American operatives. In their Facebook post, the Consul General said Russia doesn't know why this happened, and called Obama's accusations against their staff "bizarre and ridiculous."

The meeting was a stark contrast to how reporters were greeted by the consulate on Thursday, the day U.S.-Russian foreign relations suffered a major blow after Obama issued sweeping sanctions against Russia in response to election hacking. During that interaction, a voice boomed from an intercom: "Leave this territory." No one would come out to speak to reporters flanking the sidewalk, hoping to learn more about this surprising and mysterious announcement from the White House. Petrov's PR shift was in line with the overall Russian strategy following Obama's serious tone.

The official Twitter feed for Russia on Friday tweeted out New Year's greetings to Obama, President-elect Donald Trump and the American people, inviting "all children of the U.S. diplomats accredited in Russia to the New Year and Christmas children's show at the Kremlin!"

A total of eleven people are leaving the Russian Consulate in San Francisco "within hours," which includes the four employees and their families, including three children, Petrov said.

"The three kids will not see Santa, or gifts under the Firtree (in Russia it happens on the New Year eve)," the Consul General said on its Facebook page. "They only have one day to finalize their financial affairs, terminate their apartment leases, pack their belongings, as well as to prepare for the long trip, first to Los Angeles by car and then by plane to Moscow — no tickets left for shorter and more comfortable itineraries."

"It's just not human," Petrov told reporters, adding he was hopeful the Trump administration would be able to retore relations between the two countries.

The consulate said the chef hailed from the historic city of Yaroslavl "whose mastery was enjoyed by hundreds of our guests at the consulate for three years." The chef will be leaving with his wife and two-year old son.

Petrov acknowledged the loss of consul officers would prevent the consulate from being as efficient as they want to be. But he said the doors would remain open for "business as usual" for both American and Russian citizens.

“A limited number of people will not allow all the consular services to all the citizens in the manner we want to do it — but we will do our best to serve all the Russian people living here,” Petrov said.

An estimated 100,000 Russians live on the West Coast, Petrov said.

Petrov also made a plea to reporters to respect the privacy of the employees being expelled. “Many of them don’t even speak English, many speak limited English,” he said, explaining that it was one of the reasons for not responding to the media outside the consulate Thursday.

The impromptu news conference was perhaps unprecedented, and even Petrov admitted that the consulate usually doesn't comment on things like sanctions. "Today we decided to make an exception as we're trying to change many things in our relations with U.S," he said. "It's my president who inspired me to do that."

"Is this the first time the media has been in here?" one of the reporters asked Petrov.

"Maybe you're the first time here,we invite the media to all our events." Petrov replied smiling. But he didn't answer the question directly, and then made a general invitation to the media to attend the consulate's New Year's Eve party.

"As we are nearing the New Year’s, I would invite you to have a glass of champagne," he told reporters. "How about that?"

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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First Night Hartford Ready to Roll


If you are still looking for something to do New Year’s Eve, we have a plan for you and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

First Night Hartford revelers like Heather Rion Starr of West Hartford say it’s a great event at a great price. She says besides the free fireworks and ice skating, she really enjoyed the act that played in The Pump House at Bushnell Park.

“This pump house where they had a great band last year playing Celtic music and the fireplace and the hot chocolate and then we go to the Wadsworth Atheneum and do a craft with our kiddo”.

And there are so many other events that a first night Hartford wristband will get you into. The wristband costs $12 for adults, $3 for kids three to 15 years old, and free for children two and under.

First Night Hartford organizer Nicole Glander explains, “We have kids fest, arts and craft activities at the Wadsworth Atheneum, tours at the Butler McCook House, comedy, magic puppet shows”. Rides on the carousel and miniature train at Bushnell Park are free with the wristband. Horse drawn carriage rides are an extra $5.

In terms of parking, there are discounts as well. Metered street parking is free on Saturdays downtown. The Trumbull on the Park Garage, Morgan Street Garage, and One Financial Plaza Garage are all $5 after 2 p.m. The Pulaski Circle lot parking is $5 after 6pm.

In terms of security, Hartford Police say they will have a beefed up presence downtown. The only street they will close is Trinity Street, essentially between the Capital and the Soldiers and Sailors Arch.

Box Containing Dead 4-Month-Old Puppy Found in Wolcott


A box containing a 4-month-old puppy was found at a reservoir in Wolcott, police said. 

Wolcott Dog Pound was called to the boat launch area of the Scoville Reservoir at 4 p.m. on Friday. 

A 4-month-old pitbull was found dead in a box, the pound said. 

"RIP little man," Wolcott Dog Pound wrote on its Facebook page. "I am so sorry this happened to you!!!!" 

Police are asking anyone who may have seen suspicious activity in the area the between Thursday and Friday night to please contact them at (203) 879-1414. 

Photo Credit: Wolcott Dog Pound

International Space Station Mannequin Challenge


Astronauts on the International Space Station took the Mannequin Challenge to a whole new level. On Sunday, five of the six crew members performed the challenge while floating in microgravity. Some clung to footholds and handholds as the camera passed by. The video was shot and posted by French astronaut Tomas Pesquet.

Photo Credit: European Space Agency

17 Stuck for Hours on Knott's Ride


A portion of Knott's Berry Farm was being shut down to help rescue riders stuck on a ride for hours Friday.

Riders on Knott's Berry Farm's Sky Cabin said the ride was stuck 120 feet in the air Friday as fire officials tried to work out rescue options.

The ride was reported stuck at 5 p.m. at night to the Orange County Fire Authority, but riders told NBC4 they had been there for at least four hours.

A Knott's Berry Farm spokesman confirmed the ride broke down at 2 p.m.

One rider said the situation was getting dire as many people needed to use the facilities and had nowhere to go.

The Sky Cabin is a space needle looking ride that brings people up and down. 

An employee was also aboard, the rider said, and was communicating to other via walkie talkie. The employee said a main brake was activated and cannot be released. 

A portion of the park was to be shut down so fire officials could aid in the rescue, the rider said. 

The rider said it was the first his out-of-town family went on at the park. 

The first of an estimated 17 riders, a child, was fitted with a harness and lowered to safety at around 7 p.m. 

A call could be heard made by park officials to have 10 cotton candies ready for children once they were lowered to the ground. 

By 7:45 p.m., the third child had been rescued. 

Refresh for updates. 

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV

Apparent Russian Hacking Code Found


A Vermont utility discovered malware tied to Russian hackers in its system, it confirmed in a statement Friday night following a report by the Washington Post.

Sources told the newspaper they believed the hackers had gained access to the United States' electrical grid via an unnamed unnamed utility in Vermont. Burlington Electric later issued a statement confirming the malware was discovered on one of its computers, but noting that the device was not connected to the grid.

"Last night, U.S. utilities were alerted by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) of a malware code used in Grizzly Steppe, the name DHS has applied to a Russian campaign linked to recent hacks," the utility said in a statement. "We acted quickly to scan all computers in our system for the malware signature. We detected the malware in a single Burlington Electric Department laptop not connected to our organization’s grid systems. We took immediate action to isolate the laptop and alerted federal officials of this finding."

Burlington Electric says it is working with federal authorities to investigate how its system was penetrated and prevent future infiltration attempts. Gov. Peter Shumlin said in a release that his office has been working with other state officials and the federal government.

"Vermonters and all Americans should be both alarmed and outraged that one of the world's leading thugs, Vladimir Putin, has been attempting to hack our electric grid, which we rely upon to support our quality-of-life, economy, health, and safety," Gov. Shumlin said. "This episode should highlight the urgent need for our federal government to vigorously pursue and put an end to this sort of Russian meddling. I call upon the federal government to conduct a full and complete investigation of this incident and undertake remedies to ensure that this never happens again."

The code was not actively used to disrupt the utility's operations, officials told the Washington Post. Those sources note that the hackers' intentions are unclear, adding that it could have been a test to see if a portion of the grid could be penetrated.

U.S. security officials believe Russia hacked the U.S. to influence the presidential election. The Obama administration has imposed sanctions against Russia, a move condemned by President-elect Donald Trump, but praised by several prominent Republicans.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Connecticut State Police New Year's Weekend Patrols


The State Police Department is working to make sure Connecticut drivers have a safe start 2017. They are adding extra patrols to the roads this New Year’s weekend to help prevent speeding, distracted and drunk driving.

NBC Connecticut got a first-hand look at their efforts on Friday. Our crew spent the evening with Trooper Thomas Krynski of Troop H.

“I am always on high alert no matter what, but obviously I’m going to be on a higher alert during the holidays,” said Trooper Krynski.

According to Krynski, Troop H has seen an increase in DUI arrests this year compared to last. Part of his job is to look for any driving irregularities, that may be a sign of something more serious.

“Sometimes I’ll do speed enforcement,” Trooper Krynski said. “I will stop at a certain position and use my laser unit my laser gun and many times people who are under the influence like to speed.”

Throughout NBC Connecticut’s time with Trooper Krynski, several infractions were issued for things such as speed, failure to maintain lane and driving without a license. While none of these particular infractions were the result of operators driving under the influence, Krynski says those drivers pose a risk to themselves and others.

“The whole purpose of this is; make the roads safer,” Trooper Krynski said. “Make sure people get safely to their destinations so they can spend the holiday with their family.”

What Went On in Russia's Now-Shuttered US Compounds?


As retaliation for alleged Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election, President Obama shuttered Russian diplomatic facilities in Maryland and New York.

In response, Russia’s United Nations ambassador accused Obama of “going after our kids,” as NBC News reports.

The facilities are actually mansions on sprawling estates, and the Russian diplomatic corps has long used them as retreats for their families.

But, U.S. intelligence says that the mansions doubled as surveillance outposts for Russian spies. Officials believe that, as far back as the Reagan administration, the then-Soviet Union was using both compounds to steal communications from the U.S. government and defense contractors.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington
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