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Tornado Tosses Tobacco


The tobacco cloth that whipped across Interstate 91 and the Connecticut River on Monday came from Thrall's Farm in Windsor and Gov. Malloy visited the site on Tuesday to talk about a program to provide assistcance after a tornado ripped through on Monday. 

Steven Reviczky, the commissioner of agriculture, spoke for the farmer, who did not want to meet with reporters.

"He was quite shaken up," said Steven Reviczky.  "This is a tremendous loss for him and his family."

Reviczky had no dollar figure on the loss to Thrall's Farm, but he estimated there was crop damage on 30 acres and equipment damage on up to 50 acres of the 450 total acres. 

Workers were restringing plants and straightening stalks, pushing them straight into the soil with their boots.

Reviczky and Gov. Dannel Malloy said Thrall's farm would be able to apply for some of the $5 million in plant loss grants the state government is offering. 

Malloy said it would most likely not cover total damage and Reviczky dismissed the chances federal crop insurance policies would apply.

"The requirements of the federal government for percentage of loss are so excessively high that rarely can a Connecticut farmer claim on those insurance policies," Reviczky said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

RIP Google Reader: 5 News Aggregator Alternatives


Google Reader's long-awaited death has finally arrived.

The news aggregator gave a final announcement on its blog Tuesday, months after Google first announced it was shuttering the service, citing a decline in usage.

Now that Reader is a thing of the past, here is a list of some free RSS alternatives for former Google Reader users:

Feedly: Feedly is a popular news aggregation reader that has seen a surge in popularity since Google Reader first announced its retirement. Thanks to Feedly's cloud, users can now sync news in multiple platforms as well as customize sites. Feedly also simplifies content-sharing within different social channels, such as Twitter, Pocket and Facebook. There are, however, several major shortcomings: Users cannot search content within Feedly, and the application is not available for Windows phones.

Newsblur: Newsblur is a web-based RSS reader that allows users to follow 64 sites. The application gives users the option of revealing more than a few words on an article by offering a short snippet instead. But if you want to follow more than 64 sites and want to visit articles in their entirety without having to visit the original pages, you'll need a $24-a-year premium account. Another benefit to paying for the application is skipping the line of 7,000 people also waiting for a free account.

Digg Reader: The social news website has been working on a RSS reader of its own. Digg's application is clean and simple; it can filter customized articles as well as show trending articles, thanks to the inclusion of a "popular" option. This reader also makes sharing content through applications like Instapaper easier. On the downside, it is still in development, and some users have complained about delays in news updates.

The Old Reader: The Old Reader resembles the old Google Reader, before it got rid of its social features. It offers many sharing features — giving users the ability to follow friends who also use Old Reader and providing a newsfeed that shows articles your friends are reading.

Pulse: For users who want a more visual, magazine feel to their reading experience, Pulse may be the most ideal alternative. Unlike the other RSS readers mentioned, which use a layout similar to Google Reader's, Pulse uses images and short headlines to show stories instead. Plus, it takes into account the interests of users by pulling up stories it think users will be most interested in based on their customizations.

Photo Credit: AP

Passenger Removed from 2nd Flight in 2 Days


For the second time in as many days, the same man caused a flight to be diverted after he reportedly tried to exit the planes during flight.

The unidentified man's journey began Monday in Las Vegas. He was on US Airways flight 390 to Charlotte when officials said the man tried to "exit for a smoke." Officials said he was shaking the seat in front of him and may have tried to light a cigarette.

That plane was diverted to Albuquerque, and the man was detained by authorities. Albuquerque International Sunport Airport spokesman Dan Jiron said the passenger was interviewed and checked out by paramedics and was not deemed a threat.

On Tuesday morning, he boarded a second plane, American Eagle 3172, from Albuquerque to Chicago.

The flight was diverted to Kansas City and landed just before 11:30 a.m. when the same man tried to exit the aircraft during flight, American Airlines spokeswoman Mary Frances Fagan told NBC Chicago.

The passenger was again removed from the plane, a Bombardier CRJ-700, and detained by authorities.

Flight 3172 then re-departed from Kansas City at 12:30 p.m., landing at O'Hare International Airport just before 2 p.m., said Fagan.

There were 63 passengers and four crew members on board, said Fagan.

More Local Content from NBCChicago.com:

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Police Search for Bank Robbery Suspect


Police are investigating the Tuesday afternoon robbery of an East Hartford bank.

A suspect entered the Wells Fargo Bank at 18 Street around 2 p.m. He demanded money and led a bank teller to believe he was carrying a weapon, police said.

The teller turned over an undisclosed amount of money and the suspect fled with two accomplices, according to police.

Police have located the car they were driving but are still looking for the suspect. He is described as being a black male in his 30s with a medium build.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the East Hartford Police Department at 860-528-4401.

Photo Credit: East Hartford Police Department.

New London Police to Keep K-9 Officer Bessie


The New London mayor's office has announced that its police department will be keeping K-9 officer Bessie after all.

The bloodhound was to be donated to another agency when her handler left the force and budget cuts led the city to whittle down its K-9 unit.

The mayor's office announced Tuesday that Bessie will be assigned to a new officer and continue working with the New London Police Department.

Bessie and fellow police dog Buck were caught in a wave of controversy when the city decided to keep only one of its three K-9 officers.

Drug-sniffing shepherd Buck was retired after the city said it could no longer afford his arthritis medication, which cost about $720 per year, according to Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio. Buck joined the police force in 2008.

When Bessie's handler, Kyle Gorra, accepted a position with the State Police, Bessie ended up in a kennel, awaiting transfer to another law enforcement agency.

New London residents fought back, expressing their concern about the dwindling size of the K-9 unit.

"We don't want to lose the dogs one by one for various reasons and then have no K-9 unit," said Anita Miller, who owns Goldy's Restaurant on Coleman Street.

The police department has faced other problems too. According to the police union website, 12 officers left the department last month. The police chief warned that up to 15 layoffs are possible.

"We've had police officers that are leaving the city for fear of being laid off," said City Councilor Marie Friess-McSparran.

Many residents worry that a city of New London's size demands a stronger, more extensive police force. They're concerned that losing two K-9s and a dozen officers will mean bad news for New London.

"I reiterate my position that crime is being reduced throughout the city, especially related to major crimes, and our patrol strength is adequate to meet our public safety needs at this time," said Mayor Finizio in a public statement.

Although Buck has left the force to live with the family of his former handler, New London residents have won a hard-fought battle, because Bessie is here to stay.

Photo Credit: New London Police Union

Possible Human Remains Found in Conn. River


Police are investigating the discovery of what could be human remains in the Portland area of the Connecticut River.

The Portland and East Hampton Police Departments responded to the scene Tuesday evening. State Police, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Chief State's Attorney are assisting the investigation.

An employee from St. Clements Castle and Marina in Portland made the discovery, authorities said.

Police have not yet confirmed whether are human remains.

An NBC Connecticut crew is at the scene.

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Fatal Crash Linked to Uncle of Aaron Hernandez



NBC Connecticut has learned there is a connection between a fatal car crash in Farmington this weekend and the uncle of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.
The car, driven by Thaddeus L. Singleton III, 33, of Bristol, is registered to Andres Valderamma, the uncle of the former Patriots star.
Singleton is married to Valderamma’s daughter and the couple lived with him together on Lake Avenue in Bristol.
Investigators spent atleast two days last week collecting evidence and towing away a silver SUV.
Law Enforcment sources confirmed that the search warrants executed at the Lake Avenue home are in connection to the investigations of Odin Llyod in North Attleboro, Massachusetts and a 2012 double murder outside a Boston night club.
Singleton died after crashing into the Farmington Country Club at 806 Farmington Avenue around 3:30 a.m. Sunday morning.
A friend of Singleton's, 27-year-old Tabitha Perry, was in the passenger seat. Perry is recovering in the hospital, authorities said.
Perry’s mother says that her daughter and Singleton have been friends for around eight years.
Police are continuing to investigate the cause of the Farmington crash.


Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Bridgeport Responds to Tornado Threat


Three years ago, Bridgeport was in the same position that the Windsor Locks area is in now. A tornado ripped through the city, tearing off roofs, smashing windows and ripping down trees.

Parts of the city like the Barnum Museum are still repairing the damage caused by the tornado.

“We've learned our lessons, how quickly we can respond to an incident,” said Scott Appleby, Bridgeport’s Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

Appleby says after the tornado, the city learned that the most important thing for its residents was educating them.

“The first thing is to get the message out as quickly as possible," said Appleby. "Sometimes a warning comes in to us within minutes that there is a tornado or a potential of some sort of activity inside of a thunderstorm cell."

Another lesson learned is that the fastest way to communicate with the community is through social media, because everyone gets it on their smartphones.

The city took advantage of that during yesterday's tornado warning in Fairfield County.

“We placed two Facebook messages, about three or four Twitter feeds from the mayor and the Emergency Operations Center, as well as the Community Response Team members, just to make sure the community does understand that there's severe weather,” Appleby said.

After the tornado in 2010, Bridgeport also became a "StormReady Community," working directly with the National Weather Service to share information.

The city also saw how crucial it is to have the community work together to get past the initial destruction and move forward.

Photo Credit: AP

Man Slips into Falls at Granby State Park


A man was rescued Tuesday evening after falling into a waterfall at Enders State Forest.

State Environmental Conservation Police, Granby Police and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection responded to Enders State Forest in Granby after receiving reports that someone had slipped into the falls.

When emergency officials arrived, they learned that a 19-year-old man from Chicopee, Mass. had slipped while walking along the falls and fallen approximately 20 feet into the water.

The victim was with a friend, who called 911. The victim was able to make his way to the shore and was transported via LifeStar to Hartford Hospital. His condition is unknown.

A number of rescue workers were treated for heat-related injuries. Their injuries are not serious.

Police and DEEP continue to investigate.

Teacher Accused of Having Baby with Teen Student


A Redlands, Calif., high school teacher who allegedly gave birth to a baby fathered by a teen student has been arrested for having a sex with the male pupil.

Laura Elizabeth Whitehurst, 28, was arrested Monday evening after being questioned at her home in Redlands.

She is a teacher at Citrus Valley High School, according to the Redlands Police Department, which issued a news release on the arrest Tuesday afternoon.

Whitehurst was taken into custody on suspicion on unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor and released after posting $25,000 bail Monday evening.

The student was 16 at the time of the nearly year-long alleged relationship, according to police.

"One thing led to another, and he ended up at her residence, and it's been going on, going for approximately one year now," said Redlands police Cmdr. Shawn Ryan.

"She was open with her pregnancy. I don't know what her story was to everybody else, but it was an open pregnacy," Ryan added. "The school district knew about it."

The mother of the alleged victim, who is now 17, on Monday reported the relationship to the Redlands Unified School District, which in turn contacted police, according to Carl Baker, a police spokesman.

Whitehurst had given birth to a baby on June 18, the news release stated.

“Investigators say the child was fathered by the teen,” the news release stated.

The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office has not yet received a case from police, according to spokesman Chris Lee.

Baker said police were still investigating. No booking photo of Whitehurst is available at this time, he said. The photo at right is from Citrus Valley High School's 2013 yearbook.

At an afternoon news conference, Baker issued a brief statement from the school district, which stated that the teacher had been placed on leave after police were notifed of the allegations. Whitehurst was not named in the statement, and the district said it would not comment at this time.

"The district takes this arrest very seriously," the statement read. "Our heart goes out to the victim and his family."

According to the school's online staff directory, Whitehurst is an English teacher.

Students who spoke to NBC4 Southern California lauded her performance as a teacher.

Citrus Valley High School has about 2,200 students, according to state records. It graduated its first senior class in 2012.

Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Detective Natasha Crawford at (909) 798-7623 or Redlands Police Dispatch at (909) 798-7681.

More Southern California Stories:

Neighborhoods Begin Cleanup After Tornado


The cleanup is just beginning after a tornado touched down in Windsor Locks Monday afternoon.
Chainsaws were running non-stop on Tuesday night along Raymond Road in Windsor locks. 
“The front is a real mess,” said Kevin Horan’s. 
The tornado tore down almost all of his trees. There was so much debris here, the amount of cleanup was overwhelming. 
“All day and all night, I’m wondering how I was going to start it,” Horan added
A few doors down Stuart Dern and his friends worked for hours to clear hundreds of tree branches from the property.
“All day long, slicing and cutting and chopping and pulling and dragging,” Dern explained. 
 Some didn’t even know where to start with the clean-up. 
The tornado blew netting from a tobacco field into Robert Moticka’s backyard on Bellaire Circle in Windsor locks.  The giant piece got tangled in a 60 foot high tree.
“I’ve got to figure out how to get this netting out of my tree...and there's a lot of it,” Moticka said.
The tornado didn’t just rip the netting off the OJ Thrall Farm in Windsor. Twenty acres of crops and the irrigation equipment was destroyed. 
Governor Malloy took a tour of the devastation on Tuesday and said the owner could apply for state grants to fix the damage.
“They will be permitted to participate in that pool of money and help them recover as quickly as we can,” Governor Malloy explained.
Back in one of the hardest hit neighborhoods, victims near Raymond Road were trying to recover quickly too.
“We're tough people. We will get back in there and get this done,” Dern said.

Fight Over Sale of Pets in Branford


It was a debate over pet sales and nearly 200 people packed a meeting Tuesday night in Branford for it.

A new ordinance could ban the retail sale of dogs, cats and even rabbits in town.

"I guess I want to know more about what you feel due diligence is in terms of your breeders," said one woman who was one of many in the back and forth all night long. "It's my right and responsibility to be able to go out and get the pet I want for my family."

Branford residents and others made their case for or against an ordinance to ban the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in town.
The Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter Commission is proposing the ban.

"Should you move to a humane business model we will come to your store and we will spend money and we will increase your revenue and your profit margin," said Lori Nicholson, chair of the animal shelter.

They cited statistics from the Connecticut Humane Society, highlighting that most puppies and kittens sold in pet stores like All Pets Club come from mills. The same mills that don't foster good environments for animals.
"This is not about getting you out of a job, not at all," said Nicholson.
"This will literally put a local business that employs over 40 people out of business," said Charles Sewell, executive vice president of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council.
They insist All Pets Club is inspected by the US Department of Agriculture, they have a clean bill of health and they run a quality business.
All Pets Club is the only retail store in Branford that would be affected by this ban.
"We want everybody to have a successful pet. We don't want any problems. We try and work with the customer as closely as possible. We follow the law," said Co-Owner Ed Focault, who insists their business is not just about selling animals but also about educating kids and families about their pets.

"We do our very best to choose the right breeders," Focault added.
At one point the meeting had to be stopped because there were too many people in the room and the fire marshal was called. They continued after a 30 minute recess.

Nothing has been decided by the Ordinance Committee just yet. There will be an a public hearing in next few months.


Photo Credit: nayoweme/Instagram

Campers Return to Sports World After Tornado


Parents of campers at Sports World brought cake to camp this morning to thank the counselors who acted quickly and kept children safe during the tornado on Monday.

The  EF1 tornado was on the ground for five minutes yesterday, long enough to cause two-and-a-half miles of damage. In East Windsor, it tore apart the Sports World dome just moments after counselors received an alert and moved 29 children to safety.

Davina Dax-Rabb’s two children were inside the once-giant dome moments before the storm came through.

“You have to wake up every day feeling blessed,” she said.

Her son, Dante Rabb, was playing on the field with friends when the director of the camp told everyone to leave the dome and move into the building.

“We heard the wind and the thunder and the rain coming down,” Dante said.

No one was hurt, thanks to quick thinking by Kathy Russotto, director of the mutli-sport Funtime summer camp.

“When you’re looking out for more people, you’re more observant or more aware of your surroundings,” Russotto said.

Davina Dax-Rabb said she was “very comfortable” sending her children to camp today and that the campers are just happy the camp is still open. 

“It feels pretty good that camp isn’t shut down because this is probably one of my favorite camps of the whole summer,” said camper Jameson Secovich.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Malloy Announces Aid for Tornado-Damaged Farms


Gov. Dannel Malloy announced Tuesday that Connecticut farms damaged by Monday's tornado are eligible for government assistance to help jump-start recovery efforts.

During a visit to the OJ Thrall Farm in Windsor, Malloy said affected farms can now apply for the Production Loss Assistance Needed Today (PLANT) grants unveiled June 23.

"Yesterday's tornado ripped through farmland, delivering the latest blow in a series of storms that have inflicted threatening wounds to some of our state's farms," Malloy said at the OJ Thrall Farm in Windsor on Tuesday. "I want to be very clear about the fact that these small businesses have my support and are eligible to apply for this special assistance to get back on their feet."

The Department of Economic and Community Development and the Department of Agriculture are offering a total of $5 million in grants, and will work with the Connecticut Farm Bureau to award the grants.

Grant requests must be submitted by July 15, according to a press release from the governor's office.

Malloy also signed a Declaration of Civil Preparedness Emergency to help with debris removal in East Windsor, Greenwich, Stamford and Windsor Locks.

According to the governor's office, this declaration allow the state to help remove debris and wreckage that might threaten public health or safety from publicly or privately owned land.

“While yesterday’s tornadoes in Hartford County and Fairfield County caused property damage, we are most of all grateful that no lives were lost during these flash storms.  This declaration will help the residents in the impacted towns to expedite debris removal,” Malloy said in a statement.

Malloy visited Sports World at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday to survey the damage in East Windsor.

The tornado struck while summer camp was underway. Sports World counselors acted quickly to bring the campers to safety just before the storm tore apart the dome.

A second tornado struck Greenwich and Stamford Monday morning.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

4 Dead, Including Unborn Child, in Fort Worth Shooting


Fort Worth police have arrested a man in connection with the fatal shooting that killed his girlfriend, their unborn child, her mother and her brother.

According to police, Chanice Renee Reed, 21; Annette Carroll Reed, 39; and Eddie McCuin, 10; were shot at about 6:15 p.m. in the 2900 block of Pate Drive.

All three of the victims were taken to different hospitals for treatment, including Chanice Reed, who was 32 to 34 weeks pregnant. Doctors were unable to save any of the victims, including Reed's unborn child.

Fort Worth police have arrested Amos Wells, 22, and charged him with capital murder. Wells is currently being held on a $2 million bond after turning himself in to police.

Wells spoke with NBC 5 from jail on Tuesday. He cried when asked about what happened Monday. He was apologetic but said he did not want to talk about it.

"No one deserved what happened," Wells said of the deaths of his girlfriend, her brother and her mother. "It shouldn't happen. It should never even have happened." (Watch his entire, unedited interview, here.)

"I just want, even if the family don't want it, I just want to tell them that I'm praying for them," he said.

Family members of the victims said Wells is Chanice Reed's boyfriend of Chanice Reed and the father of her unborn child.

They said they are struggling to understand how someone they've known for so long is now accused of killing four of their family members.

"How could you? How could you take away innocent lives like that?" said Monique Myers, Chanice Reed's cousin.

Myers said she had just talked with her cousin on Monday about Wells, her on-again, off-again boyfriend.

"She told me he was controlling. He didn't like her being with her own family. I talked to her and said, 'Chanice, leave him,'" said Myers, who added that she never thought the couple's problems would end with a deadly shooting.

"You love a person, you're not supposed to hurt them. That's not the way, just not the way," Shauna Myers-Berry said.

The victim's family told NBC 5 that Wells shot Ann Reed in the yard before confronting and shooting Chanice Reed at the front door. Afterward, he killed Ann Reed's youngest child, Eddie McCuin, family members said.

"He just shot her point blank, because she was in the door, went into the room and shot my cousin, Eddie, three times," Myers said. "You're going to have a child yourself. For you to kill the mom, mother of your child, her brother -- you don't have a heart. It's going to be a cold day in hell."

Tension flared Monday night when Myers and several other family members crossed the police barricade and ran to the family's home.

"At that time, we didn't know anything," Myers-Berry said. "We just took off running."

Her son and other daughter were arrested on suspicion of assault and interfering with officers guarding the crime scene after a scuffle with officers.

"The only thing we were thinking [was], 'Don't stop us. Tell us what's going on," Myers said.

Police reports show that Jermey Myers, 20, was arrested on suspicion of assaulting an officer. Kalie Myers, 18, was arrested on suspicion of interfering with police duties for impeding officers trying to guard the crime scene.

NBC 5's Ben Russell and Kendra Lyn contributed to this report.

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Why Did it Take So Long for Tornado Warning?


It came out of nowhere. 

That's how many people in north-central Connecticut described the tornado that tore through their towns on Monday.

"There was no warning," Katie Swanson, a Windsor Locks homeowner, said.

In East Windsor, Kathy Russotto received an alert on her cell phone just seconds before the storm ripped apart the Sports World dome. It was just enough time to get 30y campers to safety.

"It was huge because otherwise I would have heard the rain and went, 'Oh wind,' and my response wouldn't have been as quick," Russotto said.

So why was there so little warning on Monday?

Here's the timeline, according to the NBC Connecticut Weather Center:

At 1:27 p.m., radar indicated a possible tornado.

One minute later, at 1:28 p.m., a tornado touched down in Windsor.

At 1:31 p.m., The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning, three minutes after the storm was on the ground.

The average time for a tornado warning is 13 minutes, but experts said there is a reason why there was no real heads up on Monday.

"The tornado formation in this type of set-up is going to occur very quickly and very close to the ground," John Bagioni, a local meteorologist, said.

He said the tornado that moved through Windsor, Windsor Locks and East Windsor did not come from a typical super-cell thunderstorm. Those types of storms are easier to detect on radar and usually are slower moving.

Monday's storm was different.

"The signal of rotation is much weaker. It's not at all as enhanced as a super-cell," Bagioni said.

The National Weather Service likely didn't issue a tornado watch because the probability for severe weather was very low, he said. The majority of these types of weather systems never produce tornadoes.

Bagioni said that over-warning the public can also be troublesome.

"The public would be once again faced with that it's just another warning, nothing is going to happen," he said. "It's a fine line."

Bagioni believes there needs to be a lot more research on storms that form in the lower levels of the atmosphere.

Mitigating the Mosquito Problem in Milford


If you've spent time outdoors recently, you have probably noticed that mosquitos are everywhere. 

State officials said they have seen an increase in the number because of all the wet weather we've had and this poses the risk of diseases, including West Nile Virus.

“If these weather conditions continue, with very high temperatures into the 90s and occasional rain, just to kind of recharge all of these systems, we are going to see a build-up for the virus,” Dr. Theodore Andreadis, of the state Agricultural Experiment Station, said.

In Milford, the health department is making efforts to control the pesky population. 

The Milford Health Department will hold a meeting on Wednesday morning at Edgemont Park to discuss its mosquito control program.

“With spring rains and warmer weather upon us, residents can expect to see more mosquito activity. The mosquito control program utilizes a comprehensive approach to protecting our residents from mosquito-borne diseases and reducing the negative impact of nuisance mosquitoes on outdoor activities,” Benjamin Blake, mayor of Milford, said.

This is a concern everywhere, since mosquitos are found in both urban and suburban areas, so officials across the state are on alert and reminding residents to use bug repellant and clear standing water from their property to reduce the number of breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

“The number of adult mosquitoes is reduced through consistent monitoring and applying treatments of larvicide to key breeding sites,” Dr. Dennis McBride, the director of health in Milford, said in a statement.


Driver Trapped by Hydrant's Geyser


Emergency crews rescued a driver trapped by rushing water after his car crashed into a San Diego fire hydrant early Tuesday.

San Diego Fire-Rescue responded to the crash at Euclid Avenue and Market Street in Chollas View around 12:40 a.m.

Crews discovered the man trapped inside his car with thousands of gallons of water pouring out of the broken hydrant.

The geyser created by the crash shot approximately 80-feet into the air.

Water was turned off 45 minutes after the crash but it took crews over and hour to get the driver out.

San Diego police are investigating why the man slammed into the hydrant but say it doesn’t appear to be a case of driving under the influence.

More San Diego Stories:


Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego

Cancer Patient Mistaken for Serial Bank Robber


A major U.S. bank is donating $5,000 to cancer research after one of its employees in Southern California mistook a cancer patient for a serial bank robber with a penchant for wearing a surgical mask during heists.

A Wells Fargo teller flipped the silent alarm, believing the 57-year-old patient may be the “Surgical Mask Bandit” employees had been warned about five days prior. Police were called to the bank branch in Montebello, east of Los Angeles, for what became an upsetting and confusing encounter.

“It was a horrible experience for someone with cancer to go through,” the man’s fiancée told NBC4.

Joe Jaramillo visited the Wells Fargo on Whittier and Montebello boulevards shortly after 9 a.m. June 28, his fiancée said.

Because he underwent chemotherapy the day before, Jaramillo was wearing a surgical mask and hat when he approached the teller. He explained to the teller why he was covered up, according to Beatriz Ramirez, the patient’s fiancée.

The teller told Jaramillo to sit down because there was a discrepancy with his account, Ramirez said. Within minutes, Jaramillo was surrounded by police who ordered him to put his hands on his head. They asked why he was wearing a mask.

He replied, “I’m a cancer patient. I have cancer,” Ramirez said.

Officers searched through Jaramillo’s car before apologizing to him for the misunderstanding, Ramirez said.

“Somebody in his situation should not have had to gone through at all,” Ramirez said.

The so-called “Surgical Mask Bandit” for which Jaramillo was mistaken is wanted in connection with armed robberies in La Habra and San Juan Capistrano. He is described as a white male, between 35 and 45 years old, about 200 pounds, according to a Wells Fargo internal security notice.

The robber typically wears a surgical mask, khaki pants and sunglasses, and carries a black gun and a blue water cooler, according to a Wells Fargo internal security notice.

Jaramillo’s fiancée said the cancer patient was wearing shorts and flip-flops the day of the incident.
Wells Fargo released the following statement Tuesday to NBC4 about the case:

"Wells Fargo extends our sincerest apologies for any embarrassment or discomfort Mr. Jaramillo experienced during his recent visit. Unfortunately, the mask and hat he was wearing matched the description of a serial bank robber that has been targeting banks throughout the Southland. Our team members were on high alert, and we’re deeply sorry that Mr. Jaramillo was mistaken for the suspect the FBI refers to as the “Surgical Mask Bandit.”

"We feel very badly about the situation, and completely sympathize with Mr. Jaramillo as he undergoes his fight against cancer. As a sign of respect, and an act of good will, Wells Fargo is making a $5,000 donation to the cancer charity of Mr. Jaramillo’s choice."

Jaramillo chose to give the money to the American Cancer Society, his fiancée said.

More Southern California Stories:

Photo Credit: FBI via Wells Fargo

Group Holds 'Toy Gun March' in Washington


Gun rights advocates marched to the National Mall from Arlington while "armed" with water pistols before hosting a rally and a water fight Wednesday.

Organizers of the Toy Gun March said they were promoting responsible gun ownership and trying to place gun owners in a better light. Participants were asked to carry toy pistols with orange tips, water guns, nerf guns and "anything peaceful," the organizers posted on Facebook.

"And the Toy Gun Marchers are here to say that we believe in the second amendment right to bear arms, we believe in the Supreme Court decision, and we are here to say we come in peace," one organizer, Austin Petersen, told News4 during the march. Petersen is also editor of the Libertarian Republic.

"We are non-violent; we want to show people that we're respectful, and that we are responsible gun owners," he said.

The Toy Gun March was scheduled after a separate group's march with real guns, planned for Thursday, was canceled.

As a result, the U.S. Park Police issued a reminder that D.C. law prohibits carrying a rifle or shotgun within the city.

"Due to the fact that it is currently illegal to carry a loaded firearm into the District of Columbia, we liberty lovers have decided to tweak the nose of big government and show Obama what a clown he is for trying to restrict our natural rights," Toy Gun March organizers wrote on Facebook.

Before the march, the National Park Service planned to inspect realistic-looking guns to ensure that they were fake, organizers said, urging participants not to squirt the officers or aim their guns at them.

The small group gathered at 9 a.m. at the Memorial Bridge and made their way to the Washington Monument for a rally at 10:30 a.m.

"We're going to have a little free speech, a little fun," Petersen said in advance of the march. "A lot of kids are going to be here."

Events on the Mall, held through 2 p.m., also included face-painting, a water gun battle and a game of kickball. Attendees were able to refill their water guns from a 160-gallon tank.

The kid-oriented focus extended beyond face-painting: The group was also protesting harsh punishments that some schoolchildren have faced for having or playing with toy guns.

"We think that's wrong, because America is a gun culture," Petersen said, adding that a tongue-in-cheek contest would have competitors nibbling Pop Tarts into the shape of guns.

A 7-year-old Maryland boy was suspended from school earlier this year after a teacher said he bit a breakfast pastry into the shape of a gun.

The group also collected toys and money for Toys for Tots. At the conclusion of Wednesday's event, organizers presented a Toys for Tots representative with a $1,200 check and several boxes of donated toys.

And as fate would have it, the Toy Gun Marchers shared space on the bridge with another demonstration.

"I didn't even know about another march across the street," said anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan with a laugh. Sheehan was there finishing a cross-country bike ride on the Tour de Peace, advocating for an end to war.



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