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Car Hits Pole, Catches Fire in Suffield


One person was taken to the hospital after a car struck a pole then caught fire in Suffield Thursday morning.

The accident happened on North Grant Street near Mountain Road. According to fire officials on scene, the car struck the pole and caught fire. A Good Samaritan who witnessed the accident helped the driver out of the car.

The driver was taken to the hospital for observation.

A nearby home was evacuated as a precaution because of the fire. Eversource has been called in to repair the pole. The cause of the accident is under investigation.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Wilbur Cross Parkway Reopen After Tree Falls on Van


The Wilbur Cross Parkway (Route 15) has reopened in Orange after a tree came down on a van with two people inside, according to state police.

The southbound side of the highway was shut down near exit 58 for about two hours while crews worked to free the occupants of the vehicle and clear up the scene. One lane of the northbound side was also closed.

The two people that were inside the van were taken to the hospital with unknown injuries.

More information was not immediately available.

A high wind warning is in effect for the entire state with gusts up to 50 miles per hour possible.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police
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New York Man Charged with Selling Drugs in Norwich


Norwich police said they have arrested a New York man on narcotics charges after finding over 200 Oxycodone pills in his hotel room.

Quency F. Noel, 24, of Jamaica, NY, was arrested Wednesday night after police responded to a report of a suspicious person at a local hotel. According to police, officers approached Noel after seeing him involved in street-level drug sales.

Police said a search of Noel’s hotel room turned up 234 Oxycodone pills, multiple cell phones and over $3,000 in cash.

Noel was charged with possession of narcotics and possession of narcotics with intent to sell. He was held on a $150,000 bond and is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday.

Photo Credit: Norwich Police Department

Watch: National Zoo Lion Gets Dental Checkup


A dentist from Virginia is sought around the world for his rare specialty: Exotic animals. Recently, News4 got up close to Luke the Lion at the National Zoo in D.C. as veterinary dentist Dr. Barron Hall performed his regular checkup.

Yes, even lions need to go to the dentist.

Wild animals need dental work because an unhealthy mouth can make an animal sick. Also, alpha males like Luke can instinctively hide a bad tooth causing them pain because it is a sign of weakness, which can get them killed in the wild.

Hall, of Vienna, is in demand at zoos across the country and sanctuaries around the world. He's been in the mouth of some fierce beasts.

“I’ve worked on black bears, grizzly bears, brown bears, pretty much every cat,” Hall said. “A hippo I haven’t done. Polar bear’s on my bucket list.”

Hall belongs to Veterinarians Without Borders, which provides free healthcare for animals in sanctuaries throughout the world and train locals to care for the animals around them.

For his cleaning, Luke was put under.

“Since they’re wild animals, you can’t just go and lift their lips,” Hall said.

A team of medical technicians monitored Luke’s vital signs and kept the 400-pound carnivore peacefully asleep. Colorful mittens kept his massive paws warm.

Luke came to the National Zoo when he was a 1-year-old.

“Luke was brought in to our facility from a facility in South Africa, which means his specific genetic line was not represented in North America at all,” National Zoo big cats curator Craig Saffoe said.

That gave breeders a fresh gene pool to grow the lion population in the United States, and Luke proved to be a star.

“He's been an outstanding breeding animal,” Saffoe said. “He’s produced five litters, four of which have all survived. He’s had a great run for us.”

At 11 years old, Luke is slowing down a bit, though he could live into his 20s.

Staring into the mouth of a lion, one gains renewed respect for the king of the jungle.

“You could extract every tooth in their mouth, the power of their muscle, they’ll still pop your head like a grape if they wanted to,” Hall said.

Luke left the exam with teeth intact and a mouth cleaned and ready to roar.

Photo Credit: NBCWashington

Jeff Sessions in 1999: ‘No One Is Above the Law’


In a 1999 interview with the Washington Journal, then-Sen. Jeff Sessions expressed his concern over allegations that President Bill Clinton lied under oath, saying, “The American people believe no one is above the law.” Sessions is under fire for saying, during his 2017 confirmation hearing for attorney general, that he did not have contact with Russia during the presidential campaign; however, the Justice Department confirmed that he had two meetings with the Russian ambassador. 

Strong Winds Flip Small Plane at Simsbury Airport


Winds gusting between 40 and 50 miles per hour flipped a small, unoccupied plane over at the Simsbury Airport Thursday morning.

Officials said the plane was tied down but the anchors came loose. The aircraft will have to remain upside down until the winds die down.

The plane was being worked on so there was no engine or fuel making it lighter than usual. It was heavily damaged and may be a total loss. Officials estimate the value of the aircraft around $25,000.

Airport managers said they do warn plane owners when heavy winds are coming and owners do prepare for it.

“We tell the owners to take normal and proper precaution we never like to see what you see behind us," said Airport Manager Bradford Griswold. "Here at the airport we all love aviation so when a plane dies a little part of us dies."

No one was injured in the incident.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Insurance Companies Pledge $50 Million to Hartford


The CEOs of the three largest insurance companies in Hartford have made a pledge to help the city by dedicating a total of $50 million over the next five years.

"That is a significant commitment and I think it reflects their recognition of the importance of a strong capital city plays to the region, to the state and to their businesses,” Mayor Luke Bronin said. 

In an Op-Ed piece in Thursday's Hartford Courant, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini, Travelers CEO Alan Schnitzer and The Hartford CEO Christopher Swift said their companies are vested in Hartford's success and are committed to making the city healthy again.

"As residents of the city, our companies are willing to be part of the solution. As employers of thousands of talented people who live in and around Hartford, we understand the need for a strong capital city," the Op-Ed read.

The CEOs said they will dedicate a combined $10 million to Hartford each year for the next five years.

"This commitment from these companies is conditional. It’s conditional on this contribution being part of a comprehensive sustainable solution for the city of Hartford," Bronin said. "No one wants to fill a cup that’s got a hole in it."

Bertolini, Schnitzer and Swift commended Mayor Luke Bronin on the work he is doing to restore Hartford's financial health and said they will work in partnership with the mayor.

Ethics Office: Conway Inadvertently Plugged Ivanka's Clothes


Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Donald Trump, did nothing "nefarious" when she promoted Ivanka Trump's fashion line on television, the White House ethics office said in a letter made public Wednesday, NBC News reported.
Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Donald Trump, did nothing "nefarious" when she promoted Ivanka Trump's fashion line on television, the White House ethics office said in a letter made public Wednesday, NBC News reported.

In a letter to the government's top ethics official, Walter Shaub, White House Deputy Counsel Stefan Passantino wrote that Conway acted inadvertently, and that the statement was made in a "light, off-hand manner," without “nefarious motive or intent to benefit personally.” Conway wasn't seeking to profit from the endorsement, Passantino added.

Following Conway’s plug for Ivanka Trump on television, the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, a separate and independent executive branch agency, said it has "strong reason" to believe that Conway had violated ethics rules.

Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said Wednesday that the president’s choice to not discipline Conway was a "bad sign."

Photo Credit: Getty Images

New Interior Secretary, Rides Horse to First Day of Work


Newly confirmed Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke decided to come to work on his first day the cowboy way — by riding in on a horse through the streets of Washington, D.C., Thursday morning, NBC News reported.

The former Republican congressman from Montana, who was sworn into President Donald Trump's Cabinet on Wednesday, was seen getting to work in traditional northwestern fashion rocking a cowboy hat alongside U.S. Park Police.

The Senate voted 68-31 Wednesday, to make Zinke the 16th of 22 of Trump cabinet and cabinet-level nominations to win approval.

Photo Credit: Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement

Waterbury Man Crashed Stolen Car Trying to Flee Trooper: PD


Connecticut State police have arrested a man accused of trying to flee police at speeds over 100 miles per hour while driving a stolen vehicle.

Adrian Figueroa, 36, of Waterbury, faces charges of reckless driving, engaging police in pursuit, operating a motor vehicle without a license, second-degree larceny and reckless endangerment.

According to state police, a trooper parked on Route 8 south near exit 36 Wednesday afternoon saw a red Jaguar speeding down the highway. When the trooper tried to stop the vehicle it took off and reached a speed of about 115 miles per hour.

The suspect vehicle exited onto Charles Street in Waterbury where it crashed into an SUV and another parked vehicle before coming to a stop.

Police said the Jaguar had been stolen out of Waterbury. The driver, identified as Figueroa, was arrested.

The driver of the SUV was taken to Waterbury Hospital with minor injuries.

Figueroa was held on $50,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court Thursday.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

Muslim Internment-Style Posters Found on UCSD Campus


Flyers about Muslim internment camps were found posted on the UC San Diego campus Wednesday, NBC 7 confirmed.

The posting on a billboard took the form of Internment Notices, which signaled the roundup of thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II.

But these notices targeted Muslims.

NBC 7 discovered a flyer hanging on the bulletin board inside Argo Hall, a residential hall in Revelle College.

It called for the evacuation of members of the Islamic faith living in San Diego County.

In part, the poster read: 

"All Muslim persons, both alien and non-alien, will be evacuated from the above designated area by 12:00 o'clock noon Wednesday, April 8, 2017. No Muslim person will be permitted to enter or leave the above described area after 8:00 a.m., Thursday, April 2, 2017, without obtaining special permission from the Provost Marshal at the Civil Control Station..."

NBC 7 received an email from a person who claimed responsibility for the flyers. The alleged creator of the flyers said they weren't meant to be "anti-Muslim," but designed to "shock and anger people" by using the Japanese internment as a cautionary tale.

"The posters were meant to mimic the internment posters because I wanted to shock/anger people and to show them what could happen if they didn't do anything to stop it. It was a warning presented as a possible future," the email read.

UC San Diego has not responded to NBC 7's request for comment.

Students who spoke to NBC 7 Wednesday evening said they were outraged at the flyers and the tone it took about the Japanese internment.

“To mock it and to make fun of it or to even take it seriously is messed up. It's just wrong,” student Kra Bars said.

"It should be taken seriously because this is not a joke,” freshman Silvina Rodriguez said.

"It’s not right. They shouldn't be allowed to do any of this,” Argo Hall resident Rosa Moreno said.

UCSD newspaper The Triton said flyers were also found hanging at Thurgood Marshall College, another one of the university's six colleges.

Marshall College, the third college founded on campus in 1970, was named after Thurgood Marshall, the first black U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

UC San Diego has a history of racial unrest--in 2010, the Compton Cookout party that mocked Black History month drew backlash and sparked protests on campus.

In two other incidents in the following weeks, a noose was found hanging in a campus library and a KKK-style hood was placed on a statue outside the main campus library.

“Campus is one of the most accepting places in the country,” student Kra Bars said.

It's not known how long the flyers have been hanging on campus.

"You find it offensive, yes, and I am pretty sure that's not the only one posted,” freshman Lizbeth Ibarra said, tearing down one of the posters.

Students said Argo Hall is co-ed and has about 700 students of diverse backgrounds living there.

The incident comes amid a spike of hate crimes and other hate-related cases in the U.S. in recent months.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the number of hate groups rose from 892 in 2015 to 917 in 2016. The number of anti-Muslim hate groups saw the greatest rise, increasing to 101 from 34 in 2015, according to the annual census of hate groups by the SPLC. The increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes coincided with the increase of these hate groups, the report said.

Donald Trump's election and rhetoric during the campaign is, in part, responsible for this rise of anti-Muslim hate groups, the SPLC wrote in the report. Trump’s immigration order severely restricting travel from seven mostly Muslim countries was also seen by his critics as anti-Muslim. 

In his speech to Congress on Tuesday, Trump referenced threats against Jewish community centers and last week's violence targeting two Indian-American engineers in Olathe, Kansas, but did not specifically use the word "Muslim" in condemning hate crimes.

Trump was expected to sign a new executive order on immigration in the coming days. The new order will remove Iraq from the list of countries whose citizens face a temporary U.S. travel ban, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

Photo Credit: NBC 7

Suspects Flee Troopers, Try to Escape on Stolen Canoe: PD


Connecticut State police have arrested a man accused of trying to escape troopers on a stolen canoe.

According to police, Shameek Obajakuta Afrika, 45, was one of two suspects who fled state troopers while traveling in a stolen vehicle in Marlborough. When police located the car, both suspects had fled.

Police spotted the suspects in a boat on Lake Terramuggus. When the suspects returned to shore police took Afrika into custody but the second suspect, who has not been identified, escaped.

Afrika is charged with interfering with police, criminal trespass, conspiracy to commit larceny, fourth-degree larceny, possession of drug paraphernalia, and violation of safe boating regulations. He was held on a $15,000 bond.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

HHGregg to Close 88 Stores Nationwide


Struggling appliance and electronic retailer HHGregg announced Thursday it is planning to close 88 “underperforming” stores nationwide.

The Indianapolis-based company also said it is closing three distribution and delivery centers located in Brandywine, Maryland, Miami, Florida, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The stores will start liquidation sales of current inventory and are expected to be closed by mid-April. The closings will result in the loss of about 1,500 jobs, the company said.

“We are strategically exiting markets and stores that are not financially profitable for us,” HHGregg CEO Robert Riesbeck said in a statement. “This is a proactive decision to streamline our store footprint in the markets where we have been, and will continue to be, important to our customers, vendor partners and communities."

"I want to thank each and every manager and associate in our stores and distribution centers, and their families, for their continued efforts, contributions and support," he continued. "I understand this is not an easy process to go through; our history has shown that our team members will meet this challenge head-on and continue to support our customers and each other through the closing process."

HHGregg, founded in 1955, operates about 220 stores in 19 states. The company sells mobile phones, tablets and PCs, along with an exclusive deal with Verizon Wireless. Other products include TVs, mattresses, furniture and appliances.

The company's stock was removed from the New York Stock Exchange earlier this week company’s “average global market capitalization over a consecutive 30 trading-day period” fell below the $15 million threshold needed to keep it on the exchange, according to Reuters. HHGregg said it did not plan to appeal the NYSE’s decision.

hhgregg Store Locations Closing:

 Newark, Heath, OH
 Newport News, VA
 Fairfax, VA
 Fairlawn, Akron, OH
 Virginia Beach, VA
 Bailey's Crossroads, Falls Church, VA
 Trussville, AL
 Chesapeake, VA
 Woodbridge, VA
 Stonecrest, Lithonia, GA
 Fredericksburg, VA
 Manassas, VA
 Gwinnett, Duluth, GA
 Colonial Heights, VA
 Largo, MD
 Southlake, Morrow, GA
 Roanoke, VA
 Waldorf, MD
 Pembroke Pines, FL
 Lower Paxon, Harrisburg, PA
 Rockville, MD
 Hialeah, FL
 York, PA
 Frederick, MD
 Sawgrass, Plantation, FL
 Mechanicsburg, PA
 Catonsville, MD
 Ft. Lauderdale, FL
 Lancaster, PA
 Hanover, MD
 Kendall, Miami, FL
 Hagerstown, MD
 Bel Air, MD
 Wellington, FL
 Wilkes-Barre, PA
 Towson, MD
 West Palm Beach, FL
 Dickson City, PA
 Annapolis, MD
 Boca Raton, FL
 Winchester, VA
 Glen Burnie, MD
 Mt. Juliet, TN
 Wyomissing, PA
 Chesterfield, MO
 Mansfield, OH
 Downingtown, PA
 North Hills, Pittsburgh, PA
 Mooresville, NC
 King of Prussia, Berwyn, PA
 Erie, PA
 Durham, NC
 Montgomeryville, North Wales, PA
 Parkersburg, Vienna, WV
 Cary, NC
 Whitman Square, Philadelphia, PA
 Schaumburg, IL
 Buckhead, Atlanta, GA
 Langhorne, PA
 Bloomingdale, IL
 Asheville, NC
 Whitehall, PA
 Arlington Heights, IL
 Gainesville, FL
 Moorestown, NJ
 Niles, IL
 Homestead, FL
 Deptford, Woodbury, NJ
 Springfield, IL
 Florida Mall, Orlando, FL
 Mays Landing, NJ
 Champaign, IL
 Pensacola, FL
 Newark, DE
 Kenner Westgate, Metairie, LA
 Mobile, AL
 Dover, DE
 Westbank, Harvey, LA
 Aventura, FL
 Wilmington, DE
 Mall of Louisiana, Baton Rouge, LA
 Pinecrest, FL
 Springfield, VA
 Tri-County, Springdale, OH
 Short Pump, Henrico, VA
 Sterling, VA
 Treasure Coast Mall, Jensen Beach, FL
 Chesterfield, Midlothian, VA

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Companies Ramp Up Hiring for Busy Spring Season


As spring moves in, so does seasonal hiring.

Businesses and cities and towns are gearing up for the spring hiring season.

Home Depot said it plans to hire 900 employees in the Hartford and New Haven areas and 500 of those jobs are already posted. Management said they’re looking for everything from cashiers to sales to overnight freight. Positions and hours vary by store. To search for jobs, click here.

LAZ Parking is also hiring for seasonal event work in the Hartford and New Haven areas. Click here to view the available jobs. 

Places like parks and golf courses also offer season work. At the City of Hartford Golf Course Job Fair officials were looking to fill 25 jobs at the Goodwin Park and Keeney Park Golf Courses. Full time and part time jobs are available. For more information on employment in Hartford, click here.

The Newington Parks and Recreation Department is also looking for season park staff for spring and summer jobs. Applicants must be at least 18, hold a valid Connecticut driver’s license, and be able to perform tasks such as using hand tools and power equipment like leaf blowers and mowers.

Newington is also looking for part time cemetery workers and gardeners. For more information on those jobs, click here. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Volunteer Firefighter, Bloomfield Officer in Crash Charged


A volunteer firefighter and Bloomfield police officer involved in a crash last March have been charged.

On March 31, a 25-year-old Bloomfield volunteer firefighter was injured in a crash with a Bloomfield police officer who was responding to a call just at 10:18 p.m.

State police said Officer Alecia Aldrich had her lights and sirens on and was responding to a call about a pedestrian being hit by a vehicle when her cruiser and a 2000 Lexus ES 300 driven by Dwayne McLish, a volunteer for Blue Hills Fire Co. 3, collided at Park Avenue and School Street, police said.

An investigation found that McLish had no valid insurance coverage for the Lexus at the time of the collision. He was charged with insurance coverage failing to meet minimum requirements and failure to wear a seat belt. 

The investigation also found that Aldrich, who was sworn in to the Bloomfield Police Department on May, 18, 2015, caused serious injury to McLish by using her cruiser as a "dangerous instrument in a reckless manner".

Aldrich was charged with failure to wear a seat belt, reckless driving, ill emergency vehicle operating and assault. 

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

High Winds Take Down Trees and Wires, Flip Small Plane


Power outages are plaguing parts of the state as very strong winds have caused trees and power lines to come down, and some schools are opening late because of it.

The NBC Connecticut meteorologists have issued a First Alert due to the strong winds and a high wind warning is in effect for the entire state until 7 p.m.

At the Simsbury Airport winds gusted between 40 and 50 miles per hour and the force of them flipped a small, unoccupied plane over. Officials said the plane was tied down but the anchors came out. No injuries were reported.

Thousands of homes were without power overnight. At one point nearly 15,000 Eversource customers were without power. For a short time, 86 percent of Naugatuck lost power after the wind caused a tree to fall on a primary line into a substation, according to Eversource officials.

Utility crews were out in force trying to repair all the damage. As of noon, Eversource was reporting over 11,000 without power and United Illuminating was reporting over 500. The numbers continue to fluctuate.

West Woods School in Hamden and Foran High School in Milford both announced delayed openings because of outages. In Redding, police advised that with trees down in both Redding an Easton, many buses would be late.

Towns and cities across the state were reporting road closures as trees and wires came down in the wind.

The Wilbur Cross Parkway (Route 15) south was closed near exit 58 after a tree came down on a car with people inside. 

Halfway House Road in Windsor Locks was closed most of the morning because a large tree limb that fell across the road. 

In Suffield, Captain Christopher McKee said the winds were "wreaking havoc" and that they had at least three scenes Thursday morning where trees came down on top of wires and into the road.

NBC Connecticut meteorologist Darren Sweeney says winds are currently gusting more than 50 miles per hour and are expected to continue through the day. Temperatures will drop throughout the day into the teens and 20s overnight. For a detailed forecast click here.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
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Watertown Man Accused of Sexually Assaulting Child


A Watertown man has been charged with sexually assaulting a child, according to Watertown police.

Charles Faust Sr., 66, who lives in the Oakville section of Watertown, faces two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault and two counts of risk of injury to a minor. He was arrested Wednesday.

Police said the victim was under 15.

Faust was held on a $100,000 bond and was arraigned Thursday.

Photo Credit: Watertown Police Department

Man Trying to Take Photos Rescued From Charles Island


An Oregon man was rescued after he attempted to take photos on Charles Island in Milford. 

The man ventured on the visible sand bar to take pictures when he said he misjudged the tide and quickly became stranded, Milford Fire Rescue said. 

After calling 911 with his cell phone, Milford firefighters responded with their Marine unit to retrieve the man from the island, officials said. 

Rescuing firefighters were able to get the man in a specialized cold water exposure suit and assist him through waist-high waters.

Conditions were poor due to strong wind gusts and choppy seas, fire officials said. 

Fire paramedics determined that no medical attention was needed. 

"All residents and visitors of the City of Milford are reminded to avoid walking out to Charles Island when the sand bar is visible. The rising tide brings a very strong current that often pulls recreational walkers out into deeper waters," Battalion Chief Anthony Fabrizi said in a release.

Suspects in Random Violent Attack at Meriden Stop & Shop Arrested


Two people allegedly involved in the random assault at a Meriden supermarket where a group harassed a husband and wife, beat the man unconscious and knocked several of his teeth out, have been arrested.

Thomas Zanone, of Waterbury, and Robert Cote, of Meriden, have been charged with assault, conspiracy to commit assault, reckless endangerment, conspiracy to commit endangerment and breach of peace. 

Police responded to the Stop & Shop at 485 Broad St. in Meriden around 3 p.m. on Feb. 12 to investigate an assault and found a 28-year-old man and his wife.

The couple said they were walking to the grocery store when five men started harassing them from a car. They told officers they tried to ignore the men, but the group followed them into the parking lot, then into the store, police said. 

Inside the store, the men surrounded the couple and threatened to punch the victim’s wife, police said.

When the husband verbally objected, one of the men punched him from behind and knocked him unconscious. Police said several of the victim’s teeth were knocked out and he required medical treatment.

The victims told police they didn’t know any of the assailants and police said it appears the attack was not provoked.

On Thursday, Meriden police said they have secured a third warrant for the arrest of a another person who is anticipated to turn themselves into authorities very soon.

Photo Credit: Meriden Police

Snow Squalls Tomorrow Followed by an Arctic Blast


A cold front will move through the state tomorrow resulting in afternoon snow squalls and frigid temperatures this weekend. 

Snow squalls will arrive tomorrow afternoon ahead of the cold front. The squalls could put down a quick coating of snow and briefly decrease visibility.

In addition to the snow squalls the winds will also be gusty. Wind gusts to 40 mph are possible.

A cold front will move through tomorrow evening resulting in a cold blast of air for this weekend. 

If you're planning outdoor activities on Saturday make sure to bundle up. Wind chill values Saturday morning will be at or below zero for much of the state.

High temperatures on Saturday will only rise into the upper 20s. Air temperatures Sunday morning will fall into the single digits for most of the state with a few locations falling below zero.

The good news is the cold air doesn't stick around for long. Temperatures quickly warm-up by Monday afternoon with high temperatures in the middle 40s throughout the state. 

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