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Special Olympics Connecticut Winter Games Kick Off


This weekend, 900 Connecticut Special Olympics athletes will let their skills shine on the ski slopes, the ice rink, and more.

The Winter Games opened in East Hartford, Windsor, Plainville, Simsbury, and Middlefield on Saturday and will run through Sunday.

For the second year in a row, Mother Nature did not cooperate for the outdoor events. Last year, volunteers had trouble keeping the snow from melting as the mercury rose during the games.

This year, again there was no snow. So, volunteers were up with the sun to start making emergency snow.

The bitterly cold temperatures ensured that the snow wouldn’t melt this year, but they also caused some of the ski events to be delayed until it was a bit warmer outside.

“Obviously, the health and welfare of our athletes are the most important thing,” said Debbie Horne, spokesperson for Special Olympics Connecticut.

The temperature was just right inside the Pratt and Whitney hangar, where the first event of the day, floor hockey, got underway.

“It’s exciting, an adrenaline rush, and just have a good old time making friends around here,” said Raishaun Holloway of West Hartford.

It took eight to ten people eight hours to put the two rinks together inside the hangar, which usually houses airplanes and engines.

Organizers say the games wouldn't even be possible without their volunteers.

“Our volunteers are the heart of Special Olympics,” said Horne.

“It feels good and it shows everybody cares,” added Alex English of Windsor Locks.

The Winter Games will wrap-up with a full schedule on Sunday. To learn more click here.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Suspects Stole 6 Cars from East Windsor Dealership: Police


East Windsor police are searching for at least five suspects who broke into a local dealership and stole multiple vehicles overnight Saturday.

According to police, the suspects broke into the Windsor Wheels dealership on Route 5 around 2:20 a.m., stole keys from inside the business then took off with six vehicles.

Three of the stolen cars have since been recovered.

Police said the suspects arrived in a newer model white Audi Q5 with Connecticut plates.

Anyone with information on this crime is asked to contact East Windsor police at 860-292-8240.

Photo Credit: East Windsor Police Department

East Haven Police Arrest Wanted Man Following Chase


East Haven police have arrested a man wanted on a parole violation who police say led them on a car and foot chase while he had a woman and a young child in his vehicle.

Martezz Banks, 25, had several outstanding arrest warrants including one out of East Haven charging him with assaulting someone with a hammer, and a parole violation.

Police said officers conducting surveillance spotted Banks at a parking lot on North Branford. When Banks left the parking lot a North Branford officer pulled him over, but Banks took off, according to police.

Banks struck several cars on Route 1 while fleeing, police said.

According to police, the suspect drove onto Interstate 95 and crossed into East Haven. When he tried to exit the highway, he rear-ended another car at the off-ramp at exit 5. Banks then left the car and took off on foot. Police took him into custody on James Street under an overpass, police said.

Police discovered a woman and a young child in Bank’s car. They were taken to the hospital for evaluation but were not injured, police said.

Banks was evaluated at the hospital then turned over to the New Haven Department of Parole to answer to the parole violation warrant. He will be served with the East Haven warrant and will face charges for the chase, police said.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Intersex Youth Poised to Complicate School Bathroom Battle


Ellie is a typical 15-year-old girl. She's just starting high school in her rural Pacific Northwest town, where the entire freshman class is only about 30 students. At school, she and her friends chat in the girls' bathroom like all teen girls do, and when she's at home, she talks with her friends online, NBC News reported.

Ellie is not transgender. But if she were subjected to a school policy that mandated students use the restroom that matched their biological sex at birth, Ellie might be forced to use a bathroom with the boys at her school. That's because she's genetically "male."

Just about a year ago, Ellie's mom (who asked that her last name not be published) took her to the doctor to find out why she wasn't experiencing certain symptoms of puberty. That's when the family found out that Ellie is intersex; she was born with Swyer Syndrome, which means she has XY chromosomes like those typically found in boys. Girls with Swyer Syndrome have unformed sex glands where other girls have ovaries; they need hormone replacement in order to encourage puberty and usually cannot become pregnant without an egg donor.

Photo Credit: Getty

3 Charged for Vandalizing Holy Land Cross in Waterbury


Three people were charged for allegedly vandalizing the Holy Land cross in Waterbury, which stands high upon Pine Hill, visible to people driving by on Interstate 84.  

David Riddick, 18, and a 17-year-old were charged with trespassing and criminal mischief. Riddick's bond was set at $15,000 and the underaged teen was issued a juvenile summons. Riddick was arrested Thursday.

Erick Siclari, 24, was charged with trespassing, criminal mischief and two counts of risk of injury to a minor. Police said Saturday that Scilari had been taken into custody.

The vandals struck on Feb. 21, tagging the cross with expletives, as well as other markings. 

“To think that someone would deface the cross like this is just sad,” said Mayor Neil M. O’Leary, a part-owner of Holy Land. 

O'Leary said it will cost thousands to dollars to make repairs, which could drain funds that would have gone to spring renovations. 

It took 30 years to complete Holy Land and the 52-foot high cross, according to the city website.  

Holy Land has been in many tourism guides and on several websites, including Roadside America.

Photo Credit: Waterbury Police Department

Residents Rescued from Apartment Fire in Hartford


Hartford firefighters had to rescue people trapped in a burning apartment building Saturday evening.

Firefighters responded to a fire on Washington Street around 5 p.m.

Neighbors tell NBC Connecticut that several people had to be rescued, including children.

Occupants were put in buses to stay warm in the freezing temperatures.

More information was not immediately available. Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

FBI Arrested NY Man for Allegedly Trying to Join ISIS in Syria


The FBI has arrested a Long Island, New York man who allegedly tried to join ISIS in Syria.

Elvis Redzepagic was arrested Friday at his parents' home in Commack, NBC New York has learned. He faces charges of attempting to provide material support and resources to ISIS and appeared in federal court in Brooklyn on Saturday, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York announced.

On at least two occasions, Redzepagic traveled from New York overseas and attempted to enter Syria to try and join ISIS fighters there, investigators said.

"Mr. Redzepagic is an American citizen who has been fully cooperative with the government's investigation," his attorney Mildred Whalen told NBC New York. "We will work with Mr. Redzepagic's family to convince the court and the government that Mr. Redzepagic needs treatment and care, not imprisonment."

Redzepagic allegedly tried to enter Syria in 2015 and again last year, but failed after authorities stopped him in Turkey and Jordan, then subsequently deported him. His alleged ties to terror were discovered in early February after Suffolk County police picked him up on an unrelated violation.

He also had other ISIS-related materials on his computer and social media. In Facebook messages from October 2015, Redzepagic explicitly stated that he traveled to Turkey to "perform Jihad and join Jabhat Al-Nusra."

"This defendant made numerous attempts to travel to Syria to wage violent jihad," said U.S. Attorney Robert Capers. "We will continue to track down and prosecute individuals like the defendant before they are able to become foreign fighters or harm the United States and its allies."

In subsequent interviews with law enforcement, he allegedly admitted that he was prepared to strap a bomb to himself during the time he attempted to enter Syria from Turkey.

Redzepagic and his accomplices knowingly and intentionally attempted to provide material support to ISIS and al-Nusrah Front, an official Syrian branch of the al-Qaeda terrorist group, between July 2015 and October 2016, according to a criminal complaint.

Authorities say the 26-year-old boasted about having a cousin who fights alongside jihadists in Syria and pointed to photos online purportedly of his relative. It's unclear whether the claim has been verified.

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Williams via AP

Trump Suspends Expedited H-1B Visa Approvals for Workers


Foreigners aiming for temporary jobs at high-tech U.S. companies will undergo a longer visa approval process after the Trump administration announced it will temporarily suspend expedited applications for H-1B visas, Reuters reported.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said on Friday that starting April 3 it will suspend "premium processing" for up to six months. Under this expedited procedure, applicants can be eligible for visa approvals within 15 days, instead of a regular review period that can last for up to a few months.

The H-1B non-immigrant visa allows U.S. companies to employ graduate-level workers in several specialized fields, including information technology, medicine, engineering and mathematics.

President Donald Trump is expected to sign a revised immigration order Monday, two senior administration officials told NBC News.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

TSA New Pat-Downs Are 'Invasive,' Some Travelers Say


The Transportation Security Administration has rolled out changes to pat-downs at airports, which some travelers said resulted in more invasive screenings at airports, NBC News reported.

Seasoned traveler Joel Stratte-McClure said when he was catching a flight from Redding Municipal Airport to Egypt on Thursday the agent warned him the new procedure "would involve a more intense horizontal and vertical pat down" to look for concealed weapons that people typically hide in their pants.

"This was the most intriguing, intense and invasive pat down I've had by the TSA since they came into existence," Stratte-MCClure said in an email to NBC News.

Department of Homeland Security spokesman Bruce Anderson said the new pat-downs will continue to use enhanced security measures implemented several months ago.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

'Saturday Night Live' Puts Sessions on the Bench


Alec Baldwin's absence didn't keep "Saturday Night Live" from getting political in this week's cold open sketch. Since much of the news cycle this week focused on President Donald Trump-appointed attorney general Jeff Sessions' possible contact with a Russian ambassador prior to the November election, it made sense that "SNL" set its sights on Sessions as well.

In what was both an homage to Academy Award-winning film "Forrest Gump" and a straightforward takedown of Sessions' flip-flopping on whether he'd taken meetings with Russian officials, Kate McKinnon presented a hapless, racially insensitive version of the attorney general trying to explain himself to largely uninterested strangers. The sketch takes us to a familiar place: a bus stop bench, where sits a friendly Southern man offering chocolate to strangers.

"My name is Jeff. Jeff Sessions," he says. "I'm the attorney general of the whole United States."

Real-life Sessions recused himself Thursday from leading the investigation into the Trump team's Russia contacts after it was revealed he had met with a Russian ambassador twice prior to the November election. Sessions had denied in a Senate hearing that he had interacted with Russian officials prior to the election.

As NBC News reports, Sessions has agreed to submit amended testimony and respond to senators' questions over his contacts with Russia's ambassador.

Saturday's "SNL" also offered a critique of the muted responses to Trump's actions from prominent Republicans. A trailer for a movie about the one GOP hero who isn't afraid to publicly stand up to Trump left a little to the viewer's imagination.

"Weekend Update" anchors Michael Che and Colin Jost covered the week's biggest news stories, including one that broke just Saturday morning: President Trump claiming — without providing any evidence — that the Obama administration had wiretapped Trump Tower prior to the election.

A spokeperson for former President Obama refuted that any White House official ever ordered surveillance on a U.S. citizen but did not say whether surveillance of Trump Tower was conducted by legal means.

It was unclear where Trump received the information, but the surveillance allegation was raised Friday in an interview on Fox News and in conservative media reports. 

"Weekend Update" also welcomed guests Donald Jr. and Eric Trump (Mikey Day and Alex Moffatt), who were there to address concerns about their father's involvement in the family business interests. 

Musical guest Father John Misty performed "Total Entertainment Forever" and "Pure Comedy" from his forthcoming Sub Pop album "Pure Comedy."

Photo Credit: Saturday Night Live
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Sen. Graham Feels the Heat at S.C. Town Hall


Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham faced rowdy constituents in Greenville, South Carolina, Saturday as questions continued to surround the Trump campaign's communications with Russia and the plans for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

As NBC News reports, Graham has made himself known as one of the few prominent Republicans willing to publicly criticize the actions of the president and his administration. Still, at the senator's town hall meeting Saturday, a mostly anti-Trump crowd about 1,000 people strong bombarded him with heated questions and jeered as he defended his vote to confirm Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and his potential support for a forthcoming ACA repeal-and-replace plan.

His rancorous town hall came one week after four fellow Republican senators visited their home districts for events and received similarly feisty responses.

"I didn't know there were this many liberals in South Carolina," Graham quipped.

Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt, AP (File)

4 Transported After Serious Accident in Guilford


Four people were taken to the hospital after a serious two-car accident on Boston Post Road (Route 1) in Guilford Saturday night.

Guilford police said the accident happened in the 2700 block of Boston Post Road. The extent of the victim's injuries was not released.

The road was closed for hours while officers investigated.

More information was not immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Bristol Students Get Buff to Raise Money for Wounded Marines


Bristol students are getting buff for a cause.

Around 300 students pledged to do push-ups over a 24-hour period to raise money for the Semper Fi fund, which provided assistance for wounded marines.

The event, called Push Ups for Patriots, is at Bristol Central High School and began Saturday at 9 a.m. and ends Sunday at 9 a.m. Participants hope to do a combined 14,000 push-ups before the time is up. Most students participate by pledging anywhere between one to 15 hours, but six brave students pledged to participate all 24 hours of the event.

For more information, visit the Semper Fi website.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Severe Weather Protocol Expires Sunday, Temps Moving Up


Bitterly cold temperatures persevered Saturday into Sunday but the NBC Connecticut meteorologists say the cold won't stick around much longer.

Wind chills made temperatures feel like single digits or below zero in some places Saturday and the cold air stuck around Sunday morning as well.

Temperatures Sunday morning were in the single digits statewide. High temperatures Sunday will rise into the middle 30s - warmer than Saturday but still cool. The wind chill will continue to make temperature feel below freezing.

The governor issued the state severe weather protocol Friday, but that expires Sunday at 10 a.m.

The cold air quickly exits by Monday afternoon. We're expecting temperatures to go from the single digits Monday morning to the middle to upper 40s by the afternoon hours.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
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Women Stole $10K in Merchandise from Clinton Crossing: PD


Clinton police arrested three women accused of shoplifting nearly $10,000-worth of merchandise from stores at the Clinton Crossing outlets, according to police.

Police said around 4 p.m. Saturday police responded to a report of suspicious activity. While officers were investigating, a Polo Outlet store employee approached them and said a group of women had just shoplifted from his store.

Police located three woman matching the suspect description given by the employee.

According to police, the women had hundreds of pieces of clothing and footwear worth nearly $10,000 in their vehicle, stolen from 13 different stores at Clinton Crossing.

The suspects, identified as Betzaida Rodriguez, 31, Delia Rodriguez-Perez, 37, and Sheyla Orengo, 26, all of Springfield, Mass., were all charged with second-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit larceny. Each was held on a $5,000 bond.

Photo Credit: Clinton Police Department
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Private Prisons Memo Could Signal More Immigrant Lockups


Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he wants to maintain contracts with private prisons because he's concerned about meeting the federal correctional system's "future needs." But he hasn't said what those needs might be, NBC News reported.

The answer may lie in the Trump administration's hardline approach to immigration enforcement.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons' 20-year relationship with privately run lockups hinges on the housing of immigrants. Almost all of the 21,405 people currently serving time in one of those low-security facilities have been designated as "criminal aliens" ─ non-citizens who will likely be deported after they serve their sentences, according to bureau statistics.

Photo Credit: Getty

4 Displaced After Fire at Hartford Home


Four people were displaced after fire ripped through a home at 106 West Morningside Street in Hartford Sunday morning.

Firefighters knocked down the flames amid frigid temperatures with wind chills in the single digits. Fire officials said this was the fourth fire in four days firefighters battled in the bitter cold.

No serious injuries were reported.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Photo Credit: Hartford Fire Department

Former DNI Clapper: No Wiretap of Trump Tower


Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Sunday denied any suggestion that Trump Tower communications were wiretapped before the election, NBC News reported.

"There was no such wiretap activity mounted against the president-elect at the time, as a candidate, or against his campaign," Clapper told Chuck Todd in an exclusive interview on Sunday's "Meet The Press."

When Todd asked him whether he could confirm or deny if a FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Act) order for this existed, Clapper declared, "I can deny it." 


Photo Credit: AP
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Greenwich Firefighters Rescue Boy Stuck in Gumball Machine


Greenwich firefighters came to the rescue when a young boy got his finger stuck in a gumball machine Saturday.

Firefighters said the child, who was about 4 years old, was trying to get a gumball out of the machine at the Palms Barbershop at 20 Church Street when his finger got stuck in the mechanism. The barbershop called 911 firefighters were able to break the machine to free the boy’s hand.

He was not hurt, firefighters said, and was eventually able to get his haircut.

Photo Credit: Greenwich Professional Firefighters

Woman Clings to Hood of Moving Car Over Payment Dispute: PD


A Windsor Locks spa employee tried to stop a customer from leaving without paying by throwing herself on the hood of his car Friday, according to Windsor Locks police.

Police said they responded to the Great Beauty Spa at 5 National Drive after reports that an employee was holding on to the hood of a gray car as it sped out of the parking lot. Officers determined that the employee was trying to stop the car because the driver had received services at the business then left without paying.

Witnesses said the car drove across the parking lot and into another lot with the employee holding on to the hood.

According to police, the driver eventually stopped and removed the woman from his hood, then left.

The driver is described as a male wearing tan pants and a blue short sleeve shirt. The vehicle was a gray Chevy Cruze, police said.

The incident remains under investigation.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
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