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April the Pregnant Giraffe 'Continues to Progress': Zoo


April, the giraffe, who has captivated millions of fans around the globe as they monitor her fourth pregnancy, has a message for you, the upstate New York zoo live-streaming her pen said.

"It's about 18" long and purple/blue!" the Harpursville Animal Adventure Park posted on Facebook late Thursday. But, it's not a calf -- yet.

We may not have to wait much longer, though. The zoo said Friday morning that April's handlers were "elated to have captured the calf kicking out!" 

"April continues to have us all on edge; when will it be - we just don't know!" the zoo wrote. "All physical signs show we are ready for 'launch sequence.' So, we continue to patiently wait."

Tens of millions of fans across the world have been hooked to the live stream for weeks now as they wait for April to deliver. The mama giraffe “continues to progress,” the zoo said — though a winter storm and more “baby kicks” may make April a bit anxious in the coming days. 

Watch the live stream below.

April has had periods of edginess in recent weeks brought on by stretches of cold weather and her active calf, which was busy kicking away Thursday night, the zoo said. The zoo noted viewers may have noticed “increased tail raising” from April, likely due to the pressure of her growing baby.

Nevertheless, April is in “great physical and mental condition,” and the vets who have been monitoring her say they’re pleased with her progression. 

April's pregnancy was catapulted into global headlines late last month after YouTube briefly yanked the zoo's stream following complaints by animal activists that it violated the site's policies concerning "nudity and sexual content." Thousands upon thousands of commenters voiced their frustration on Facebook and YouTube, and the stream was restored within an hour or so.

About 70,000 people were watching the YouTube stream by 8 a.m. Friday as April once again slinked over to her mate Oliver's pen, necking with him coyishly over the top as she swished her tail. 

Jordan Patch, owner of the Animal Adventure Park, says the natural curiosity surrounding giraffes and their birthing process has been a huge factor in drawing crowds. 

"I think the fact that she's a giraffe and she's a neat species that people are interested in, that's fostered a lot of the attention," he said. "The fact that you're gonna get to witness the miracle of birth from an animal that you really don't get to see give birth — that's neat."

He added that April's pregnancy is not just live entertainment, but a teachable moment and source for education.

Giraffe pregnancies last up to 15 months. Labor lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few days. The calf, which will be the first born at Animal Adventure Park, will be about 150 pounds and 6 feet tall at birth and up and walking in about an hour.

The zoo said it will hold an online competition to name the baby giraffe once it's born.

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Third Suspect Charged in Meriden Carjacking Case


A West Haven man has been charged in a carjacking case in Meriden on Jan. 1, 2016.

Don Meeker, 30, of West Haven, is the third person charged in the case. 

Federal authorities said the victims were driving a rented 2015 Volkswagen Passat near Hobart Street and Myrtle Street in Meriden when they stopped to ask for directions to a gas station. 

Authorities said Kyle Valentine, of New Haven, told the victims to follow his car and they did until Valentine stopped after a few minutes. That’s when another person pointed a handgun at one of the victims who was sitting in the passenger seat of the car, opened the door and said, “I want everything,” according to the U.S. attorney’s office. 

The victims got out of the car and Valentine and the other person stole their wallets and cell phones and drove away in the Passat, according to federal authorities. 

Valentine and Elbert Lorens pleaded and are awaiting sentencing.

Meeker has been detained and charged with taking a motor vehicle from a person by force or by intimidation.

Police Warn of ‘The Windsors’ Advertising Scam


Police are warning business owners in South Windsor not to fall for a possible fraudulent advertising sales scam. 

Investigators want to speak with representatives from businesses if someone solicited them to buy advertising in a magazine called “The Windsors.” 

Police said the man believed to be orchestrating the scam in South Windsor and other towns has been soliciting business under a business name of “Sun Media Marketing,” which police do not believe exists. 

“He came in the front door, introduced himself and said he was selling advertising to various businesses,” Greg Smolley, of DRA Architects, said.

The man told him he would be distributing “The Windsors” to everyone in town.

“I told him I would not be willing to give him $100 until the process was done correctly,” Ken Becker, owner of Becker Financial, said.

Police said nearly a dozen local companies reported being solicited and Deputy Chief Scott Custer said at least 20 businesses have been targeted and offered $100 ads. 

Police spoke with the company that is printing the publication and said only 15 copies have been made. 

“Inside the proof book are company logos and advertisements the detective felt were basically just scanned off the internet, kind of scanned together and reprinted so that he can offer proof that he has a product,” Custer said. “However he doesn’t offer any kind of literature, he doesn’t have a business card to provide so we’re very concerned that there are businesses and groups out there that are being scammed.”

Any businesses that have had transactions with the man or “Sun Media Marketing” in the past year should call South Windsor police at 860-644-2551 or email matthew.mainieri@southwindsor.org.

Photo Credit: South Windsor Police and NBCConnecticut.com

South Windsor Man Restrained Woman at Knifepoint: Police


A South Windsor man is accused of restraining a woman at knifepoint and injuring her during a domestic dispute in November. 

Police arrested 39-year-old Faustino Aviles III Thursday in connection with a domestic dispute that police said happened in November 2016 but was not reported until January. 

Police said Aviles had a knife, broke items in the residence, physically restrained a woman in the home, left bruises on her arms and blocked her from leaving the home. 

The victim was able to leave and reported the incident to police weeks later. 

Aviles was charged with unlawful restraint in the first degree, breach of peace, assault in the third degree and reckless endangerment in the first degree. 

He was later released on $50,000 surety bond and is scheduled to appear at Manchester Superior Court on March 10.

Photo Credit: South Windsor Police

Boston St. Patrick’s Parade Planners to Meet on Gay Veterans Ban


The organizers of Boston's St. Patrick's Day parade are holding an emergency meeting on Friday to reconsider their vote to bar a gay veterans group from marching.

OutVets has participated in the parade for the last two years, but the group’s Executive Director Bryan Bishop says he was told the group was barred this year because they broke parade rules by carrying a rainbow banner.

Attorney Chester Darling, who previously fought against the group participating, argues, "The symbols and activities associated with that community do not belong in the parade."

The South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, which organizes the parade, and representatives of OutVets also met on Wednesday. According to an OutVets member, the discussions with parade organizers are progressing well and final decision is expected on Friday.

Ed Flynn, a South Boston Allied War Veterans Council member who voted to allow the gay veterans' group to march is the only member of the organization to speak publicly on the issue.

He commented, "I remain hopeful that my colleagues on the council will correct this situation and join me in voting for inclusion."

Congressman and South Boston native Stephen Lynch is calling on the Council to rethink their decision. Lynch released a statement that in part read, “It is discriminatory towards the LGBTQ community and it is a disheartening way to treat men and women who dutifully served our nation in the armed forces.”

Congressman Lynch then added if the decision is not reversed he would not participate in the march. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker expressed similar sentiments.

Additionally, several companies announced they would drop their sponsorship of the parade if OutVets is barred from participating in the parade.

Inspiring America: 100 Years of Girl Scout Cookies


For the 100th time, it's that time of year again, when you get to score some of the sweetest treats around, NBC News reported.

Nationwide, people have begun the search for their favorite Girl Scout cookies. There's a flavor for everybody, from Thin Mints to Samoas, Tagalongs to Trefoils, Do-si-dos to Savannah Smiles, and this year a new addition — S'mores.

It all started 100 years ago in the town of Muskogee, Oklahoma.

"The Mistletoe troop was the first troop to sell cookies, right here from Muskogee," said Julie Ledbetter, the current leader of the Girl Scout troop in Muskogee. "They sold chocolate chip cookies as their fundraiser ... and it's really amazing that 100 years later, that's our signature, what we're known for as Girl Scouts."

Photo Credit: Getty

Hernandez Defense Seeks Mistrial Based on Witness Testimony


Proceedings in the double murder trial of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez continued Friday morning with the judge discussing the defense team's motion for a mistrial.

The defense claimed prosecutors elicited testimony from witness Raychides Sanches earlier this week that was not allowed. Sanches testified Wednesday that he was riding in a vehicle with the two victims when they were shot and killed.

Hernandez is accused of gunning down Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado after one of them bumped into him at a Boston nightclub in July 2012, spilling his drink. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty.

The defense team claimed Sanches' description was tainted by media coverage of the Odin Lloyd murder trial. Hernandez is already serving a life sentence without parole after he was convicted two years ago of killing Lloyd in 2013.

Prosecutors said Friday that the defense allegations are "not only inaccurate but disingenuous and offensive." 

In court on Thursday, Judge Jeffrey Locke prevented defense attorneys from claiming in front of jurors that Hernandez's alleged victims were killed as a result of gang activity.

Jose Baez, Hernandez's lawyer, used the social media activity of a man who survived the South End shooting in an effort to connect him and the victims to gangs instead of his client, but Locke would not allow it.

"You can't just throw things out there to simply smear a witness," Locke said.

Photo Credit: AP

March 10 Snow Totals

Armed Vigilantes Hunt Migrants on the Edge of Europe


Figures in camouflage and ski masks gather at a fishing lodge. Many are armed with long knives, bayonets and hatchets, NBC News reported.

The 35 men and women are on the hunt in Strandzha Massif, a forested mountain range on Bulgaria's border with Turkey. Migrants trying to cross into Europe are their prey.

Patches on their irregular uniforms — a coat of arms bearing a snarling wolf's head framed by Cyrillic text — proclaim them to be members of the Bulgarian National Movement Shipka, abbreviated in Bulgarian as "BNO Shipka."

Conspiracy theories abound among BNO Shipka members, some of whom make a point of speaking Russian. 

Krassimir Kanev, a founder of the human rights group Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, sees BNO Shipka and similar groups as xenophobic nationalists at best, or at worst, violent and racist extremists.

Photo Credit: Mac William Bishop/NBC News

Winter Wallop Targets 39M From Ohio to Cape Cod


About 39 million people from eastern Ohio to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, were under a winter weather alert on Friday, NBC News reported.

New York City was set to get up to three inches, while the Cape Cod area faced up to eight inches.

Possible record low temperatures could follow into the weekend. Saturday morning's wind chill could make it feel like 7 degrees in New York, 12 degrees in Washington, D.C., and minus 3 degrees in Boston, according to Weather Channel meteorologist Ari Sarsalari.

Photo Credit: AP

Tractor-Trailer, Snow Plow Collide in Salisbury


A tractor-trailer and a snow plow have collided in Salisbury and part of Route 44 is closed for hours. 

Route 44 is closed between Taconic and Cobble roads. No injuries are reported. 

Police said the tractor-trailer jackknifed and that is what is causing the road closure.

Officials from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection were called to the scene. 

It is expected to take more than two hours to clean up.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Crews Respond to House Fire in Granby


No injuries are reported in a house fire on Rickwood Lane in Granby and the fire marshal is investigating what started it. 

Police officers and firefighters responded to the house fire on Friday morning and said the residents were out of the house and no injuries are reported. 

Fire crews from East Hartland; East Granby; Simsbury; Southwick, Massachusetts and the Air National Guard assisted. Granby fire units remain on the scene finalizing operations.

Photo Credit: NBC 7

Robber Held Gun to Clerk’s Head at West Hartford Gas Station: Police


A man robbed a West Hartford gas station at gunpoint, held a gun to a clerk’s head, stole cash from the register and forced the employee to withdraw money from an ATM, according to police. 

Officers arrested a suspect and said he’s a felon who is suspected in additional armed robberies in West Hartford, Wethersfield and Manchester. 

The armed robbery happened at Troy’s Mobil at 2507 Albany Ave. early Thursday morning. 

Police said they responded to the gas station at 3:55 a.m. and learned that a man, later identified as 24-year-old Christopher Franco, held a gun to the clerk’s head and made him hand over money from two cash drawers. Then Franco forced the attendant to withdraw money from the ATM and go into the bathroom while Franco fled, police said. 

The robber matched the description from an armed robbery on Feb. 28 in West Hartford, as well as two in Wethersfield and one in Manchester on March 6 and March 8, according to West Hartford police. 

Officers identified Franco, who is homeless, as a suspect and located him at a Hartford motel. Police said he had a gun and officers also found evidence of other crimes. 

Franco was charged with first-degree robbery, carrying a gun without a permit, second-degree larceny, sixth-degree larceny, sixth-degree conspiracy to commit larceny, first-degree conspiracy to commit robbery, criminal possession of a firearm and second-degree kidnapping with a firearm. 

He was unable to post the $1 million bond and is due in court today.

Photo Credit: West Hartford Police

Milford Postpones St. Patrick's Day Parade


Milford has postponed its St. Patrick's Day parade due to weather.

The parade was scheduled for Saturday, March 11, but the mayor says due to the weather forecast, the parade has been rescheduled.

It will now take place on Saturday, March 18, at 1 p.m.

Photo Credit: AP

Norwalk Police Officer Returns to Duty After January Chase That Ended in Fatal Crash


A Norwalk police officer has returned to duty after a January police chase that ended in a fatal crash. An investigation determined the officer acted in accordance with department policy, according to police and the state's attorney office.

Vincent Shaqui Fowlkes, 22, of Norwalk, died in the crash, according to state police.

Norwalk police said they were trying to serve several warrants around 11 a.m. Jan. 26 on 27-year-old Michael Massey, of Norwalk, who was suspected of drug sales. When police approached him, Massey put his vehicle in reverse and drove on the sidewalk, narrowly missing officers, police said.

As police approached 124 Suncrest Road, they saw Massey's car in the road with the door open and he was running toward the center of the complex, according to police, who eventually caught him near 2 Suncrest Road.

Another officer who heard a radio call about the foot chase responded to West Cedar Street and Scribner Avenue to assist and tried to stop a vehicle, but Fowlkes, the driver of a 2008 Honda Civic, kept going and crashed moments later, according to Norwalk police.

As rescuers were pulling the driver and passenger from the car, they found a large quantity of drugs, according to police.

Fowlkes and his passenger, 19-year-old Shawn Bowman, of Norwalk, were transported to the hospital and Fowlkes died as a result of the collision with the tree. Bowman sustained serious injuries.

The officer involved was taken to Stamford Hospital, has been released and was on modified assignment during the administrative review of the chase.

Police said just over one minute passed from the time Fowlkes drove over the sidewalk to get away from police until he crashed. The officer never directly pursued the car and witnesses said the Honda was traveling at a high rate of speed, according to police.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Trump on Twitter: What the First 50 Days Tell Us


In his first 50 days as President of the United States, Donald Trump has never skipped a day communicating with the country via @RealDonaldTrump, NBC News reported.

He's tweeted more than 260 times since Inauguration Day, for an average of 36 tweets per week. By contrast, Barack Obama tweeted 352 times total from his now-archived @POTUS account.

NBC News took a look at every tweet sent from @RealDonaldTrump since Jan. 20, and found some surprises. His average morning tweet comes at 8:22 a.m. ET, and stormy mornings have brought as many as seven tweets in a row.

The switch from Android to iPhone — his staff reportedly use the latter to tweet on Trump's behalf — takes place at an average time of 1:22 p.m., and tweets from the two kinds of phones have much different common words: "fake news" leads Android tweets while "jobs" trumps all others on iPhone.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images

Crews Rescue Great Dane That Fell Into Willimantic River


Emergency crews from Willimantic rescued a Great Dane that fell into the icy Willimantic River this morning. 

Emergency crews, including Willimantic City Fire and Willimantic police, responded to the water off Route 66, near Mackey's and the town line, and rescued "Mike" the dog after he slipped down a steep embankment and fell into the water.

Mike was tired and struggling but he is now out of the cold water and has been taken to North Windham Animal Hospital to be treated for exposure to the cold water.

"This was the first time in my career that I have witnessed this type of emergency call. Willimantic City Fire did an amazing job with this rescue," Lt. Stanley Parizo Jr., said in a statement. 

Photo Credit: Submitted

Man in Van Approached Windsor High School Student: Police


Police are investigating reports that a man in a van approached a Windsor High School student Tuesday morning and offered the boy a ride to school.

The student told the Windsor police school resource officer that a man in a white work van approached him around 8:15 a.m. Tuesday in the area of Plymouth Street and Tobey Avenue, said he knew the boy attended Sage Park Middle School and offered him a ride to school, police said.

The student ignored the man and continued to walk to Windsor High School, where he immediately reported the incident to the school resource officer.

An investigation is underway. The white work van had no markings and the man driving was heavy set, bald, appeared to be 30 to 40 years old and had a light brown beard.

Photo Credit: Windsor Police

Woman Accused of Stabbing Husband in Chest in Hamden


Hamden police have arrested a woman who is accused of stabbing her husband in the chest during a domestic dispute. 

Police responded to a home on Newhall Street around 4:30 a.m. Friday to investigate a domestic dispute and stabbing and found 30-year-old Travis King at the front door. He collapsed and emergency crews started treating him and transported him to Yale-New Haven Hospital. 

The preliminary police investigation revealed that King’s wife, 30-year-old Sheila Gilbert-King, stabbed him with a knife, according to a news release from police. 

Officers found her hiding in a closet and brought her to the police department. The couple’s small child was asleep during the incident, police said. 

Gilbert-King was arrested and charged with assault in the first degree and risk of injury to a minor. 

She is scheduled to appear in court in Meriden on March 13.

Photo Credit: Hamden Police

Massachusetts College Student Found Safe


A Massachusetts college student who was reported missing has been found safe, according to police.

Nathaniel Whittle, a Williams College senior from Houston, Texas, had been seen in Bloomfield, Connecticut this week, according to a statement from the school, and the Facebook page for police in Williamstown, Massachusetts says he's been found.

Police said Nathaniel has been in touch with family and he is fine. 

Photo Credit: Williams College
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