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‘Bizarre’ Behavior by House Intel Committee Leaders: McCain


After a high-stakes back and forth between the top Democrat and Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Sen. John McCain said partisan bickering has cost Congress its credibility to investigate alleged Russian interference in last year's election, NBC News reported.

"I have not seen anything like it," McCain said Thursday on NBC's "Today" show about the infighting. "It is very disturbing."

McCain, R-Ariz., said it's up to House leadership to decide whether to change how the investigation is being conducted, and on Wednesday called for a congressional select committee or independent commission to take charge. Republican leaders on Capitol Hill have so far resisted such a move.

Photo Credit: AP, FIle

What Does 'Incidental' Surveillance Mean?


Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee disclosed Wednesday that intelligence reports show American surveillance "incidentally collected" the conversations of some members of President Donald Trump’s transition team.

"Incidental collection" happens when a foreigner under surveillance calls, emails or discusses an American, and the conversation is picked up. 

Nunes' reveal raised questions, but the fact that Americans involved in Trump’s transition may have been picked up in surveillance of foreigners "in and of itself, doesn't mean a thing. All it means is that a person on watch is talking to a U.S. person," Robert Deitz, a former top lawyer for the CIA and the NSA, told NBC News. 

Any surveillance on American soil has to be approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which is made up of 11 federal judges. Congress has repeatedly asked the NSA and other intelligence agencies how many American each year are captured in incidental collection, but the government has said that it cannot disclose that information.

Photo Credit: File, Getty Images

Layoffs Under Consideration, Unions Open to Concessions


Rank and file union members who work for the state of Connecticut are open to listening to ideas when it comes to possible pension or benefit concessions. 

The governor said Tuesday, for the second year in a row, that if the state's bargaining units that represent tens of thousands of state employees don't negotiate, then there will be a second year of steep layoffs.

“I think everybody understands that this is going to be a grand bargain," said Lori Pelletier, who is with the AFL-CIO.

She liked hearing from the governor that union concessions are meant to be part of the discussion and not the be-all, end-all for budget savings.

Pelletier said of the budget process, "It's a marathon, not a sprint."

Senate Budget Co-Chair Cathy Osten, (D-Sprague), said she doesn't see an alternative if the governor can't attain any level of savings through negotiations.

“I’m quite hopeful that they’re going to reach a concession plan and that is amenable to both the state and the workers, so that being said, it would really be a foregone conclusion that that would happen," Osten said.

Charles Dellarocco leads a chapter of the AFL-CIO that represents police, public defenders and other court workers, and said younger members are open to some level of discussions, while those on the tail end of their careers are thinking differently.

“It’s a quagmire," Dellarocco said. "The people who are going to retire by 2022 don’t want to see any changes.

Dellarocco said the governor and lawmakers need to be careful about layoffs.

With a delicate state economy and struggling state budget, layoffs could have ripple effects.

“We live in this state, so whatever choices we make, it’s going to trickle to the municipalities. We live in those municipalities. So, their taxes get raised or we lose our other brothers and sisters out there also,” Dellarocco said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Bitter Cold Makes Spring Feel Like Winter


The bitter cold continues after a cold front moved in Tuesday and the temperature will only get to around 37 today, despite normal temperatures for this time of year being 50 or 51.

Connecticut residents who were hopeful that the beginning of spring would come with spring-like weather are not enjoying the cold, but they are trying to make the best of it.

Latoya, of New Britain, is a teacher and said her students feel like it should feel like spring. But this is New England and the weather does not always reflect what we expect from a season.

"Bundle up guys, and you have to check the weather before you leave the house. Just because the day before it was really awesome doesn't mean you can assume it's going to be the same temperature the next day. We live in New England. That's just how it is," she said.

Ivonne Vega, of Hartford, got up early to drive her husband to work and said it’s “too cold.”

“It’s spring already. It should be warming up at least a little bit,” Vega said. “But you have to do what you have to do -- get up, go to work. So here we are.”

The cold air recedes as we head into Friday when high temperatures will be in the low- to mid-40s with afternoon rain showers. Some spring weather is on the forecast for next week.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

9 Make it Safely Out of New Haven Multi-Family Home Fire


Nine people, including two children, made it out safely from a multi-family home fire in New Haven.

The fire broke out of a three unit home on Rowe Street Wednesday afternoon, New Haven Fire Chief John Alston said. 

Seven adults and two children were in the home when the fire started but were able to get out. One man suffered from an burn to his arm and was taken to the hospital, Alston said. 

Alston noted that wind and cold weather were big factors while fighting this fire because when temperatures are low and winds are strong, it's hard to see the smoke and hard to determine how severe the fire is. Wind will also move the flames very quickly.

Fire officials are now concerned about freezing water on the roads. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Londoners Spread Message of Unity Through Tube Stations


In the wake of Wednesday’s attack, Londoners were greeted by messages of unity written on dry erase boards in London Underground stations.

Among the messages in the Tube, London’s underground transportation system, are quotes encouraging strength and a consistent message of not backing down to fear.

Photos of the messages were posted on Twitter Thursday morning.

A British-born man on Wednesday attacked pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge in London and fatally stabbed a police office on the British Parliament’s grounds. Four people, including the attacker, were killed, while 29 people were hospitalized. British Prime Minister Theresa May, who delivered a message of strength and unity to the British House of Commons Thursday, said that the man was known to intelligence services in Britain.

Photo Credit: File, Getty Images
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I-84 Connector from Founders Bridge to I-84 East Closed for 2 Weekends


The Interstate 84 Connector from the Founders Bridge -- Route 2 East -- to I-84 East in East Hartford will be closed for several weekends during reconstruction of Bridge 02375, according to the state Department of Transportation. 

The work is part of the $22 million bridge rehabilitation project. 

The I-84 Connector on Route 2 East, from the Founders Bridge and from the Pitkin Street on ramp will be closed Saturday, March 25 at 4 a.m. to Sunday, March 26 at 5 p.m. and Saturday, April 1 at 4 a.m. to Sunday, April 2 at 5 p.m. 

Motorists on Route 2 will remain on Route 2 East and be directed to take exit 5 and proceed left onto Willow Street, under Route 2, then left onto Route 2 West, to exit 2E to I-84 East. 

Drivers on Pitkin Street will be directed East on Pitkin to Jayce Street, then straight onto Route 2 East, to exit 5, and proceed left onto Willow Street, under Route 2, then left onto Route 2 West, to exit 2E to I-84 East.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation Traffic Camera

UConn Employee Accused of Awarding Husband Fellowship


An employee at the University of Connecticut (UConn) is accused of using her job to award her husband a fellowship worth tens of thousands of dollars.

The employee, Charmane D. Thurmand and her attorney maintain she did nothing wrong. However, Thurmand's husband, Martinus Evans, was awarded $53,700 fellowship without even applying.

Thurman has since resigned from her position at UConn and Evans has been removed as a fellow.

The prestigious Giolas-Harriott Fellowship is normally awarded based on GPA, test scores and recommendation letters. An applicant must also be enrolled in a Ph.D. program to be eligible before a special committee which nominates and votes on a candidate.

According to school officials, Evans was not pursing a doctorate degree at UConn and did not go through any of the normal procedures required to be awarded the fellowship.

However, at the time he was awarded the fellowship, wife Thurmand was employed at the university as a graduate diversity officer and was closely tied to the program. She had simply put him on the list of recipients.

"Just to see that somebody who is working there is giving the money to somebody who is related to her — her husband — it's just unfair," said UConn senior Angie Derosa.

Evans had been a past recipient of a different diversity fellowship. He graduated, left the school, then returned to UConn. The report notes Thurmand told investigators her husband qualified as a returning fellow and did not have to go back through the normal process. However, the graduate school dean told investigators they had no policies that supported Thurmand's argument.

In addition, auditors said she violated the school's nepotism policy, code of conduct and code of ethics.

Thurmand and Evans are under investigation by UConn police.

Money is always on the minds of UConn students, so when they heard Evans was awarded a $53,700 fellowship auditors say he wasn't eligible for, they took it personally.

"That's like two years of school for an in-state student, so I don’t think that is fair," said UConn sophomore Luke Rossi. "College is expensive now days, so I don’t think that is fair to the students who come here and work hard and deserve that money."

"It is kind of ridiculous," said UConn freshman Timothy Breda. "College is expensive, a lot of people work really hard in high school to get here."

According to his website, Evans is a motivational speaker. He was not available for comment.  

"It’s unfortunate the university issued its report without getting direct input from members of the fellowship selection committee." Thurmand's attorney, Salvatore Bonanno said. "The selection committee members were aware the two were married."

Photo Credit: Facebook

Gypsy Moths Threaten Trees in Southern Connecticut


The gypsy moth could be back with a vengeance. The population has been on the rise for the last three years, threatening trees in Southern Connecticut. 

“One hundred seventy six acres defoliated in 2015 and 204,000 acres defoliated in 2016," state entomologist Kirby Stafford said. 

They’re tiny to start, but each egg casing contains 600 to 2,000 caterpillars that will eat all the leaves off a single tree before the summer has even started. 

“They’re very pretty, one by one, but when they’re in masses, crawling over your house and home, cars and trees, they’re a problem,” Christopher Martin, the division of forestry director for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said. 

A new aerial map of last year’s defoliation matched up with the egg masses located by DEEP forecasts the risk of it happening again in 2017. 

“We’re expecting a really big gypsy moth outbreak," Stafford said. 

The reason is simple: not enough rain. 

“The fungus needs moisture,” DEEP Urban Forestry coordinator Chris Donnelly said. 

That fungus will destroy the leaf-devouring caterpillar of the gypsy moth. 

“If it rains at the right time, those spores will germinate and start infecting the caterpillars," Stafford added. 

Gypsy moths have been in Connecticut for 150 years and experts said there’s not much property owners can do to prevent them. It’s mostly up to Mother Nature. 

Landowners can try to remove each of the egg casings off the bark of the tree or hire a licensed arborist to spray the trees. 

“People are concerned about their trees in the forest. So, if this is the second or third year of defoliation, you may want to talk about preventative action, or they may choose, if the tree’s healthy, wait it out," Martin said. 

Officials from DEEP said peak defoliation will be visible by the end of May or beginning of June. 

Without leaves, trees are also more susceptible to fire, especially during a drought.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Officer in Laquan McDonald Shooting Faces New Charges


New charges have been filed against the Chicago police officer who fatally shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014, according to court documents released Thursday. 

Officer Jason Van Dyke is now facing 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm, one charge for each shot fired at the teenager. 

Van Dyke has already been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of McDonald, which sparked nationwide protests after dashcam video appeared to show the teen walking away from authorities when he was killed. 

Attorneys for Van Dyke have previously filed motions to dismiss murder charges against the officer, saying a grand jury "hastily" indicted him based on false information and that the shooting was in fact "justified."

Van Dyke’s partner, Joseph Walsh, and Detective David March, whose account of McDonald’s shooting conflicted with the graphic dashcam video, were placed on “administrative status” in mid-December.

The case has lead to the suspension of numerous Chicago officers and the firing of Chicago's former police Supt. Garry McCarthy. 

Photo Credit: Chicago Tribune/Pool

Black Bear Plays Tug-of-War With Wildlife Researcher


Wildlife researchers studying black bears in southern Vermont had a surprising encounter with an animal and caught it on camera.

Biologists with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department and students from the University of Vermont were recently on a field project in Searsburg, in the southern part of the state.

They were looking into whether a proposed wind farm in the Green Mountain National Forest would affect the animals’ habitat.

A Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department biologist said the researchers needed to check a radio collar worn by a sleeping bear, but discovered when they arrived to the animal’s location that he had just woken up.

The video shows a male bear appearing to grab a backpack from a researcher and pull it into his den, then engaging in a brief tug-of-war with the man.

The bear then suddenly emerges from its den, toward the field researcher, and tries to get away.

The animal stumbles down a hill, perhaps because he was stiff and groggy from his winter slumber, the department said.

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department said the team was able to safely tranquilize the bear and complete their work.

The department said there were no injuries to the animal or the humans involved in the study.

The multi-year research project into bear habitat is ongoing.

Photo Credit: Vermont Fish & Wildlife Dept.

5-Year-Old Stratford Boy Appears on Ellen Again


Nate Seltzer, a 5-year-old from Stratford, amazed us with his geography knowledge on the “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” last week and made Connecticut proud.

You’ll see him on the Ellen show again this afternoon.

This time, we'll see adorable video of a discussion he had with 5-year-old Brielle Milla, from Salinas, California.

They covered topics from what they know about their field of expertise to how they celebrated their fifth birthday.


Photo Credit: Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.

Police Investigate Bank Robbery in Waterbury


Police are investigating an armed robbery at a Waterbury bank on Wednesday and they are looking for the robber.

Police said a man robbed Thomaston Savings Bank, at 824 Highland Ave., just after 9:32 a.m. on Wednesday.

He was a thin, 6-feet tall and was wearing a black peacoat, khaki pants, a black and gray scarf and black baseball cap, according to police. 

He walked in from Bradley Avenue, then left, going south on Highland Avenue onto Hawthorne Avenue, police said.

Anyone who recognizes the person in the photos police released should call the criminal investigative bureau at 203-574-6941, Crimestoppers at 203-755-1234 or email wpdmedia@wtbypd.org.

Photo Credit: Waterbury Police
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Death of Student Who Fell from Bar Roof Ruled an Accident


The death of an 18-year-old Central Connecticut State University student who fell from the roof of a Hartford bar has been ruled an accident, according to the office of the chief medical examiner. 

Police said 18-year-old Taylor Lavoie, of East Granby fell to her death from the roof of Angry Bull Saloon in Hartford on March 3.

Authorities said Lavoie went to the bar and accessed the roof of the building through it.

Last week, officials from the state Department of Consumer Protection said Angry Bull Saloon would close down for good. This came after the establishment voluntarily canceled its liquor permit following an investigation into the death of the student

The office of the chief medical examiner determined that Lavoie died of blunt injuries to the head, torso and extremities.

Lavoie was in her first year at CCSU.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut/Submitted Photo

Unsettled Weather Moving in for Friday and the Weekend


Unsettled weather is headed towards the state for Friday and the weekend. While the weekend wont be a complete washout we are forecasting several chances for showers and even a wintry mix from Friday right through Monday. 

The first piece of precipitation moves into the state late Friday morning. We're forecasting rain showers which could start as a little bit of snow or sleet. Temperatures right at the ground will be above freezing therefor we're not concerned about the snow sticking. 

Here's a look at First Alert Future Radar Friday at 2:00 p.m.

The rain shower activity will move out just in time for any Friday evening plans. Temperatures Friday evening will near 40 degrees. 

The next chance for rain heads our way on Saturday. Rain showers will develop during the afternoon hours and continue through Saturday evening. 

Check out First Alert Future Radar on Saturday at 4:00 p.m.

The unsettled weather will continue into the day on Sunday with a cold rain. Temperatures Sunday will be in the upper 30s and low 40s. 

We're also forecasting isolated showers on Monday and Tuesday. The shower activity will finally come to an end as we head into the middle of next week. It also looks like some milder air will work in to the state. We're forecasting high temperatures in the middle 50s by this time next week. 

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Mom of Dead Baby Found in Reservoir Comes Forward to Police


The mother of a baby found dead at a reservoir in Harwinton Tuesday has come forward, Connecticut State Police said. 

According to police, the baby boy was born a week or two ago. Workers at the Bristol Reservoir #4 found the remains of a newborn in a bag along Route 72 and Route 4.

State police said Thursday the mother, a Connecticut resident, has come forward. Her name is being withheld. 

The mother is receiving medical care at a local hospital and working with detectives investigating the case, according to state police. 

Detectives from Western District Major Crime responded to the scene and began investigating around 10:40 a.m. Tuesday after workers at the reservoir found the body. The medical examiner's office will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

The City of Bristol Water Department maintains the reservoir and has consulted with the Connecticut Department of Health to ensure the water has not been contaminated.

Police said the reservoir has not been used in a few days and will remain offline.

"On behalf of the Bristol Water Department I would like to assure all of our customers that the water in Bristol is completely safe. The reservoir where this unfortunate event occurred has been off line for the past few days due to the drought and will remain off line. We have been in consultation with the Department of Public Health and local Health Director through out the day. We are confident that the drinking water is completely safe in the City of Bristol," Robert Longo, superintendent of the Bristol Water Department, said in a statement on the Bristol Water Department website. 

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

SRO Suspended Amid Inappropriate Conduct Allegations


A New Haven school resource officer has been suspended and reassigned after he was accused of making inappropriate comments to a student and inviting her to his house for a full-body massage, according to paperwork on the internal affairs case.

The document from New Haven police says they received a complaint on Jan. 8 about a Officer Jeremie Elliott, the school resource officer at the New Horizons School, a school for students with special educational needs or behavioral problems.

The 18-year-old student told police that Officer Elliot stood too close to her in a classroom in December while she and a friend were on Facebook; looked at her page; then showed up at her workplace that night, where he gave her a hug and kiss and offered to take her to his home after her shift and give her a full-body massage, according to the internal affairs report.

She refused to go and he continued to contact her through social media that night and days later, she told police.

During one exchange, Elliott told the teen not to tell anyone what he had asked her because he could “get into trouble,” according to the internal affairs report.

The teen told investigators that she was “creeped out” and didn’t feel safe around someone she was supposed to feel safe with.

The report says police had received several complaints from school officials about Elliott, who was accused of sending sexually inappropriate content to staff members, being overly aggressive and inappropriate with staff and making sexual advances.

When Elliott spoke with police, he said he went to the teen’s workplace and they spoke, but he couldn’t recall what they talked about. He also denied offering her a ride home or a massage. He did admit he might have hugged the girl and said he regularly hugs students at school, but denied kissing her, the report states.

The officer also said he communicates with students through Facebook messenger to build a rapport and communicate information about school policy and the military.

When questioned about making advances toward female staff members, he said he compliments them, but didn’t remember asking anyone on a date or sending sexually inappropriate content.

When investigators searched the school resource officer’s computer, they found almost daily visits to Facebook in which he searched for or communicated with young females, according to the internal affairs report.

Photo Credit: New Haven Independent

Man Who Left Car Submerged in Milford Pond Arrested


Police have made an arrest after a car was found submerged in an icy Milford pond in January. 

Jerry Rollins Jr. 33, of West Haven, is charged with criminal mischief, criminal trespass, possession of narcotic with intent to sell. 

Firefighters found what they thought was stolen car submerged in an icy pond off Tomahawk Lane and Brooklawn Drive in Milford around 2 p.m. on Jan. 14, but no one was inside it, according to the Milford Fire Department.

The car that went through the ice was reported stolen from West Haven on Saturday night, police said.

Police said Rollins broke into the house next to the pond to call someone to help him after his car had submerged into water.

 Rollins promised to appear in court. 

Photo Credit: NBC connecticut

Tow Company Helps Pay for Damage to Parked Vehicle


A Marlborough man sought help from NBC Connecticut Responds after a tow truck backed into a vehicle parked in his driveway.

Paul DeVanna said a friend was visiting on January 31. The driveway was covered in snow and ice from a big storm, and his friend’s truck got stuck in the driveway, so they called for a tow truck. 

When the truck arrived, DeVanna said the driver immediately started backing down the driveway.

"I saw him lock up all the tires, the brakes, and he slid off the driveway and he hit the Jeep with the back of the tow truck," DeVanna said.

When the tow truck slid into the Jeep a second time, DeVanna pulled out his phone and started recording.

"I said to (the driver), uh I think you guys have a problem here. And he said, ‘we'll fix it, we'll fix it,’" DeVanna said.

The driver called a colleague to free both his own truck and DeVanna’s friend’s truck. He also told DeVanna to call his boss at A&N Auto Service the next day.

DeVanna said the owner, Carmelo Rivera, told him they didn’t need to go through insurance and offered to do the repairs himself at his shop in Hartford but DeVanna declined.

"I told him I'll get quotes from other companies and you can just pay for it. And he said, ‘I'm not going to do that,’" DeVanna said.

DeVanna bought the Jeep with the intention of fixing it up for his son. He had an appraiser come out to inspect the damage and was given an estimate of $2,500.

DeVanna said he texted pictures of the accident to Rivera, but the man stopped answering his calls. He thought NBC Connecticut Responds might have better luck getting through.

Responds learned the business is owned by a father and son with the same name. DeVanna had been dealing with the younger Carmelo Rivera.

It took weeks of phone calls back and forth to arrange an in-person meeting between Paul DeVanna and the elder Carmelo Rivera.

Rivera told NBC Connecticut Responds the estimate DeVanna received was inflated and offered DeVanna $800 toward the repairs.

DeVanna accepted.

"It's not about the money. It's about what's right and wrong, really," he said.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

North Branford Considering Changes to Town’s 911 Dispatch Center


A special meeding in North Branford on Thursday night will review how to improve the town's 911 dispatch center. 

"Now there’s just one dispatcher on," Town Manager Michael Paulhus said. "And when you have you know surge in calls or emergencies and things of that nature it’s difficult for that dispatcher to handle that."

Two options on the table are either hire more dispatchers or consolidate with the neighboring town of Branford’s dispatch center, Paulhus said.

"None of the options on the table will save us any money," he added, but merging would cost less because the towns would access state funding for a multi-town dispatch center.

"There would be funding for transition," Paulhus said. "But there would also be supplemental funding for operations costs."

Right now, four full-time and one part-time employees run the 24/7 dispatch center at the North Branford Police Department. Opponents of the consolidation proposal are raising concerns about what that might mean for the town's public safety.

"They’re also talking about having a dark police station which is very unsafe," said Terri Nuzzo, president of the AFSCME union chapter representing 18 town employees, including the five dispatchers.

That means no personnel would be on duty at the police station on weekends and after 4:30 p.m. on weekdays.

"The dispatchers are there in the police station, people walking, in driving in a lot of safety issues," Nuzzo said. "They just need to be in that building."

At Joey Cal’s Deli, longtime North Branford resident Piper Colavolpe said she hopes the dispatchers will stay at the town’s police station.

"We’re a growing town, hopefully, and I think by relocating a safety type thing would be bad for us," Colavolpe said.

After stakeholders in this debate speak at Thursday’s special meeting at the North Branford Intermediate School, the town manager said there will be a public hearing before any decision is made.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
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