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Man Stabbed in Hartford in Critical Condition


A man who was stabbed in Hartford early Friday morning is in critical condition and police said they have arrested a suspect.

Police said they responded to 34 Willard St. at 12:55 a.m. to investigate a serious assault and found a 24-year-old Hartford man in a second-floor hallway. He was unconscious and had been stabbed in the upper left chest, police said.

The victim was taken to the hospital and is in guarded, but critical condition, according to police.

Police have charged 42-year-old Vincent Poteat, of Hartford, with first-degree assault.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Illinois Couple Accused of Sexually Abusing Teen Boys


Two Prospect Heights men are accused of sexually abusing at least three teenagers in their suburban Chicago home after one of the alleged victim’s parents found an alarming text message on the boy’s phone, authorities said.

Christopher and Anthony Wheeler are charged with criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

Prospect Heights police say they investigated the married couple after a 15-year-old boy sought medical care on March 7 after being sexually abused by the Wheelers in their home. The alleged victim said the men were the parents of another child the victim had come to know at a Chicago church, according to police. 

The 15-year-old said he was invited to visit the Wheeler’s child in Prospect Heights through texts and social media, according to police. Christopher Wheeler paid for the boy to travel in an Uber to the home where they watched pornography and “sexual conduct took place,” Prospect Heights police allege.

During the investigation, police say they became aware of two other juveniles, 14 and 15, who were friends with the Wheeler’s children and had been invited to the home under “various guises.”

“Some were shown pornographic materials and provided alcohol before also engaging in acts of sexual conduct with both Christopher and Anthony Wheeler,” police said in a news release.

The couple was taken into custody on March 28 and a search warrant was executed on the home.

Anthony Wheeler is held in lieu of $3 million and Christopher Wheeler is held in lieu of $4 million, as ordered by Cook County Judge Joseph Cataldo.

Prospect Heights police were assisted in the investigation by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Cook County Children’s Advocacy Center, according to the news release.

Additional victims and charges are possible, police said.

Photo Credit: Prospect Heights Police Department

Police Warn of Man Approaching Children in Suffield


Suffield police are issuing a warning to parents after two reports of a man in an SUV who might have approached children in the Pine and Birch road areas.

Police said the first report was on March 20. A parent reported that a man driving a blue or green Kia sport utility vehicle pulled up near a middle school age girl in the Birch Road area to talk with her.

He appeared to be around 40 years old and had short black hair, but no facial hair, according to police.

Police received another report on Wednesday.

They said a blue or green Kia sport utility vehicle was parked on Birch Road in front of a home where a 5-year-old child was playing in the yard.

Both incidents happened between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., according to police.

Since receiving the reports, police have added patrols in these areas, as well as surrounding areas.

Police said they are continuing to investigate and identify the driver.

Anyone who knows the person or witnessed a similar occurrence should call Suffield police at (860) 668-3870.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Tillerson Stresses Equal Military Spending at NATO Meeting


In his first meeting with NATO Friday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson set a deadline of two months for allies to present a plan to increase their military spending, NBC News reported. 

Tillerson said it was "no longer sustainable" for the United States to pay for a "disproportionate share" of NATO's budget. America's top diplomat said fellow NATO members had until their summit on May 25 to formulate this plan.

NATO advises all its members to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense. But most countries — all except United States, Britain, Estonia, Greece and Poland —fall short of this target.

Tillerson said that by the end of this year they should be meeting this 2 percent target already, or have at least developed a detailed plan to do so.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Connecticut Teen Wins National Google Doodle Competition


A high school student from Stamford, Connecticut, has won the national Doodle 4 Google competition, earning prime real estate for her design on Google's homepage through 3 a.m. Saturday.

The theme for this year's annual event was "What I see for the future." Sarah Harrison, a sophomore at Bunnell High School in Stratford, depicted her vision of inclusion and acceptance in her artwork titled "A Peaceful Future."

“My future is a world where we can all learn to love each other despite our religion, gender, race, ethnicity, or sexuality. I dream of a future where everyone is safe and accepted wherever they go, whoever they are,” Harrison wrote in her Doodle submission.

Sarah will also receive a $30,000 college scholarship and visit Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California, to meet with the Doodle team. Her high school will receive a $50,000 Google for Education grant to spend on technology and advance STEM programs.

William Floyd, head of external affairs for Google, said in a statement that this year’s competition was meant to get students thinking about the future they want to create for the world and the submissions were nothing short of inspiring.

“Ultimately, Sarah’s doodle captured the best of everything we saw, representing values like diversity, inclusion, and respect in an inspiring and creative image,” he said.

Harrison said she was thinking about the current state of the world when designing her artwork.

“When I started, I was thinking of how there’s a lot of animosity toward diverse communities of people in the world right now,” Harrison said. “So I wanted to draw something that I hoped would show that we can all get along well, and that it’s possible for us to be happy with each other. I want everyone try to be more open, accepting, and respectful to people. You don’t know what they’ve been through - and they don’t know what you’ve been through - so we all deserve respect from each other.”

The finalists from each of the different age groups between K-12 will receive a $5,000 college scholarship and a Chromebook, as well as a trip to the Googleplex to meet some professional Doodlers at Google.

Doodles are a regular feature on the Google.com search page. Google has often used the artwork to celebrate holidays, spotlight causes and honor people and places.

See the winning Doodle submissions from each state here. 

Photo Credit: Doodle 4 Google

Colombian Sisters Sent Home After Detainment at Boston Airport


Two sisters from Colombia who traveled to Massachusetts to visit their mother and stepfather were sent back to their home country Friday after being detained at a Boston airport earlier this week.

A lawyer for Laura and Dayana Gomez told NBC Boston Friday that the two girls have been sent back to Colombia. No reason has been given.

The two sisters had flown from Colombia into Boston's Logan International Airport Wednesday night and were detained by Customs and Border Protection agents and questioned upon their arrival.

The girls' mother, who lives in Lowell, said Thursday that she was extremely worried, and not just because of the lengthy detainment. Laura, who is only 11 years old, was hospitalized Thursday morning with severe stomach pains and then brought back to the airport where questioning continued.

"The detention of this eleven-year-old, who was not healthy, is the perfect example of how this administration's policy of inspecting everyone in search or reasons for deportation can go terribly wrong," immigration attorney Heather Yountz said.

Yountz said she's never seen anything like this case. She said the sisters, who are dual citizens of Colombia and Spain, have valid Spanish passports and had return tickets. She believed U.S. Customs and Border Protection might have been concerned that the girls would stay in the States with their mother and not go back home. Laura and her 20-year-old sister Dayana are both applying to become U.S. citizens.

"Alternative practices were available, and they should have been used," she said. "Deferred inspection, a process by which an individual can be paroled into the United States and allowed to return a few days later for questioning, would have made much more sense given this little girl's age and health situation."

U.S. Customs and Border Protection told NBC Boston it could not comment on a specific case because of privacy laws.

The agency did release a statement that reads in part, "It is important to note that issuance of a visa or a visa waiver does not guarantee entry to the United States. A CBP officer at the port of entry will conduct an inspection to determine if the individual is eligible for admission under U.S. immigration law."

Man Dead After Being Hit By Stolen Pickup in Groton: Police


One man is dead and a woman is in the hospital after a man in a stolen pickup crashed into them in Groton while trying to get away from police on Thursday night, according to state police.

State police said a trooper was trying to stop 27-year-old Valery Labossiere, of Medford, Massachusetts, who was going 97 miles per hour in a 55-mile-per-hour zone on Interstate 95 North in a 2013 Chevy Silverado that was reported stolen from Vermont.

Labossiere was going east on Gold Star Highway, went through a red light at Kings Highway and hit a 2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse that was pulling out of the Walmart parking lot at 150 Gold Star Highway around 10:15 p.m., according to police.

Police said Taylor Marie Wilkinson, 20, of Groton, was driving the Mitsubishi Eclipse. Her injuries are not life-threatening and she is listed in fair condition as of Friday afternoon.

It took around eight people from the Poquonnock Bridge Fire Department more than 15 minutes to free Wilkinson’s passenger, 22-year-old Deion Anthony Pittman, of Waterford, from the car with the Jaws of Life.

Lifestar transported Pittman to Hartford Hospital and state police said he succumbed to his injuries.

Labossiere’s injuries are not life-threatening and he was taken to Lawrence & Memorial Hospital, according to police. They said troopers also found a small-caliber rifle in the vehicle that was also stolen from the Vermont home.

Police have taken Labossiere into custody and charged him with first-degree larceny of a motor vehicle, sixth-degree larceny, reckless driving, disobeying the signal of an officer, engaging police in a pursuit and operation of a vehicle without a license.

Bond was set at $150,000 for the first set of charges and $2,500 for additional charges. He is due in court today.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police and NBCConnecticut.com.

Kiosks to Replace Exit Gates at West Hartford Garages


Soon, there will be no more waiting to pay to get out of the parking garages in West Hartford Center and Blue Back Square.

Public works director, John Phillips, said the exit gates will be gone that by June and they will be replaced with kiosks, just like the ones currently being for used for street parking around the ramps.

“It’s a business decision on our part to be as efficient and operate as best we can to keep our rates as low as possible,” Phillips said.

“I imagine it will be more efficient,” Jacqueline Clement, a West Hartford resident, said.

“You’ll enter your license plate number. You’ll choose the amount of time you’ll want to pay to park, press enter, and it will enter your vehicle into the system,” Phillips said, explaining how the system works.

For those who aren’t use to them, there could be a learning curve.

“When they first converted over from the parking meters to the kiosks, that was confusing because you’re used to getting out of the car and just seeing the meter and reminding yourself, ‘Oh, I’ve got to put money in this meter,’ and I actually wound up with a parking ticket because I forgot,” Clement recalled.

The garages are also going high tech.

People can pay via the Passport Parking mobile app or use it to add extra time in addition to what they’ve already put in at the kiosk.

“The mobile app will probably be more convenient,” said Clement.

While prices are staying the same, some of those who work in Blue Back Square say the old way of paying had an advantage.

“If you get out really late they’ll have the gates up,” said Brendan McCabe, a Hartford resident and bartender at a restaurant in Blue Back Square. “With the new kiosks, I think that no matter what time you get out of work you’re going to get stuck paying for parking.”

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Flynn, Nunes Fallout Grows for Trump White House: Analysis


The fallout of alleged Russian election interference, already a major distraction for the President Donald Trump, grew more ominous for the White House Thursday, according to an NBC News analysis.

The story that House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes got secret intelligence information from a "whistleblower," partially backing Trump's claim that his predecessor wiretapped him, unraveled as two reports indicated Nunes received his information from White House officials.

Then, a lawyer for Trump's fired national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, announced he is seeking criminal immunity from Congress in exchange for testimony — Flynn "has a story to tell," the lawyer said.

"You're finally getting the intersection between the counterintelligence investigation and the cover up," said MSNBC contributor Naveed Jamali, a reserve Navy intelligence officer who went undercover for the FBI to help catch a Russian spy.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File

Clinton Man Accused of Sexually Assaulting 63- and 19-Year-Old Women


A 24-year-old Clinton man is accused of sexually assaulting a 63-year-old woman, who police said is an invalid, as well as a 19-year-old woman.

Police have arrested Adam Phillips, who they said is also known as Adam Vuitton, and charged him with first-degree sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault, reckless endangerment and deliver of alcohol to a minor.

 Police said the sexual assault of the 63-year-old woman was reported in July and the sexual assault of the teen was happened in October.

Phillips was released on $225,000 in bonds and is scheduled to appear in Middletown Superior Court on April 11.

Photo Credit: Clinton Police

Hartford Public Schools Announces Superintendent Selection


Acting superintendent Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez has been recommended for full-time position by the Hartford Public Schools Search Committee. 

A special meeting will be held on April, 4 at 5:30 p.m. for the Hartford Board of Education members to vote on the committee's recommendation. 

"I have the utmost respect for education," Torres-Rodriguez said. "Education was my way out of poverty as a student of the Hartford Public Schools system. We will work hard to make sure that our schools continue to improve and that our district builds the capacity to meet the needs of all students."

Torres-Rodriguez has been the acting superintendent for the district since Dec. 9, 2016. Prior to the interim position, she was assistant superintendent. She has worked in the greater Hartford area withing the education system for 20 years. 

"The future of our city rests heavily on the development of our public school system and the superintendent position is a key aspect of that future progress," Board Chairman Craig Stallings said.   

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

$250K Worth of Heroin Found in Whiskey Box, Speaker at JFK Airport


A couple flying into New York's John F. Kennedy Airport from the Dominican Republican attempted to conceal $250,000 worth of heroin in a whiskey gift box and a large speaker, authorities say.

Andres Uribe Rebolledo and his girlfriend Yuly Valencia Sanchez, both Colombian citizens, landed at JFK from Punta Cana Sunday with a Glenmorangie-brand whiskey gift box and a Marshall-brand speaker, Customs and Border Protection says.

During an inspection, CBP officers found the whiskey box and speaker felt "unusually heavy," and escorted the couple to a private search room. A probe of the two items uncovered a brown substance that tested positive for heroin, authorities said. 

In total, about nine pounds of heroin with an estimated street value of more than $250,000 were seized. 

Rebolledo and Sanchez face narcotics smuggling charges and are being prosecutors by the city's Special Narcotics Prosecutor's Office. It wasn't immediately clear if they had attorneys. 

Photo Credit: Customs Border Protection

Ansonia Police Arrest Fugitive Convicted of Felony Child Abuse


Ansonia Police arrested a fugitive of justice who fled Arizona after she was released on parole from prison where she was serving time for felony child abuse. 

Flower Tompson pleaded guilty to felony child abuse and sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2008. The year before, the 37-year-old was arrested for the murder in the death of her roommate's 5-year-old son. 

In 2015, Tompson was released on parole and fled the State of Arizona, Ansonia Police said. 

The United States Marshall Service tracked down Tompson on West Main Street in Ansonia, where she was taken into custody without incident on Friday.

Tompson was charged with being a fugitive of justice and her bond was set at $250,000. She will be transferred over to Arizona authorities on April 28. 

Photo Credit: Ansonia Police

'He Got His Wings' Family Mourns Loss of Man in Groton Crash


Family and friends are mourning the loss of Deion Pittman, a 22-year-old Waterford man killed when a driver fleeing state police crashed into the vehicle Pittman and a friend were riding in Thursday night. 

State police said Thursday around 10 p.m., Valery Labossiere, 27, of Medford, Mass., was driving 97 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone on Interstate 95 in Groton. A trooper tried to pull him over but said Labossiere kept driving, blew through a red light at the intersection of Gold Star Highway and Kings Highway, and crashed into the car Taylor Wilkinson, 20, of Groton, was driving. Pittman was in the passenger seat.

Poquonnock Bridge firefighters said they had to use the Jaws of Life to remove Wilkinson and Pittman from the car.

Wilkinson is currently at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in fair condition. Pittman was taken by Life Star helicopter to Hartford Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

“A good young man, fine young man. He was an athlete, very smart and bright. Loving. He was Deion. He was always Deion,” said Kenneth McBryde, pastor of Christ Church of God & Family Center.

McBryde said Pittman just passed the police exam, was recently baptized and was known for his sports successes at Waterford High School.

He was devoting his life to serving others, McBryde said, but his life was cut short.

“I cried for 20 minutes – my wife and I both – because he was like our child,” McBryde said.

“A life was taken way too short. It’s senseless,” said family friend Cheryl Aekins, who attends church with the Pittman family.

Family and friends are turning to their faith to cope with the loss. Pittman had wings tattooed across his back. His loved one see it as a sign.

“He got his wings now, flying high,” Aekins said.

Labossiere is facing several charges. State police said his Chevy Silverado was stolen out of Vermont, as was the small caliber rifle in the vehicle. In an investigation report, a trooper said he found a Republic of Haiti expired passport on Labossiere’s person. He also had a suspended license out of Massachusetts.

Labossiere is being held on a $400,000 cash bond.

State police said it’s an open investigation and more charges could be pending.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
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North Korea 'Has Got to Be Stopped': Mattis


After years of North Korea thumbing its nose at the international community, on Friday Defense Secretary James Mattis appeared to signal enough was enough.

"Right now, [North Korea] appears to be going in a very reckless manner … and that has got to be stopped," Mattis said at a news conference in London.

He didn't give any details about how the administration of President Donald Trump plans to deal with the reclusive nation, which, under Kim Jong Un, has drastically increased its missile and nuclear-testing program.

But Mattis' remarks continue a recent trend of Trump officials taking a harder line on North Korea, NBC News reported.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File

Rainbow Flag Creator Dies at 65


Gilbert Baker, the artist and civil rights activist who created the iconic rainbow symbol for the gay rights movement, died of natural causes in New York City Friday. He was 65.

Baker sewed the original rainbow flag in 1978 after his friend, then-San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk, asked him to use his skills to make banners for gay and anti-war street protests. The flag has since come to represent inclusion and safety for the gay community worldwide.

The artist never patented the flag, saying instead that it was his gift to the world. 

Just days prior to his death, Baker had finished sewing what would be his last rainbow flag. 

"He had hand-sewn 39 of these flags to commemorate the 39th anniversary of the creation of the Rainbow Flag, with plans for them to be displayed in San Francisco in June," a press release said.

Dozens flocked to a vigil for Baker Friday night at Castro and Market streets in San Francisco, honoring him under a rainbow flag in the Castro district, one of the first gay neighborhoods in the country. The crowd observed a moment of silence, and supporters carried a giant rainbow flag inscribed with the words "resist" and "rise."

Fellow activist and longtime friend Cleve Jones said the community first flew the flag during the city's annual Pride parade almost 40 years ago. 

"Their faces lit up, and without any explanation at all, everyone knew immediately this was our flag," Jones recalled.

City officials lowered the rainbow flag that billows over the entrance to City Hall to half-mast Friday in honor of Baker.

In a statement released Friday, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee described Baker as a “trailblazer for LGBT rights, a powerful artist and a true friend to all who knew him.”

“At a time of great uncertainty in the LGBT community, Gilbert’s act of sewing together multicolored materials unified and empowered individuals across the country, helping to bring them together under a common cause,” Lee wrote.

Lee said that, for him, the rainbow flag is more than a mere symbol.

“It is the embodiment of the LGBT community, and it has become a source of solace, comfort and pride for all those who look upon it,” he said.

Other San Francisco leaders echoed their grief at Baker's passing.

Supervisor Scott Weiner credited him with helping to "define the modern [LGBT] movement."

Jeff Sheehy, another member of the city's board of supervisors, called Baker a "hero" for the community.

"The kid from Kansas was inspired by his own over-the-rainbow experience in 1978. The eight-color flag, which later became the six-color flag, is now the global symbol for the LGBT community. Gilbert was a master of political theater, and the core of his personal being was artistry. The rainbow flag will always be his greatest work of art," Sheehy said in a statement.

NBC Bay Area's Jean Elle contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Spencer Platt, Getty Images (File)
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State Police Report a Number of Weather-Related Crashes


State police have reported a few weather-related crashes on Friday night and the trend continued into Saturday morning.

Troopers said Friday night the crashes and spin outs happened on Interstate 84 in Tolland County, between exits 68 and 73.

Saturday morning Tolland County Dispatcher confirmed multiple spin-outs on I-84 from Willington to Union. Some minor injuries were reported.

NBC Connecticut Meteorologists said Friday night's the roads were slick and expected to freeze into Saturday. Drivers are asked to use caution. 

Connecticut State Police is asking drivers to reduce speed in this area. 

Photo Credit: Tolland Alert

Tech Companies Roll Out Gags for April Fools' Day


Global tech companies take a break from churning out profits once a year to have fun with their customers on April Fools' Day, NBC News reported. 

This year, Amazon introduced "Petlexa," a gag that would ostensibly allow pets to interact with the company's Alexa product. 

T-Mobile, which likes to talk about its complete network coverage, touted a wearable magenta onesie that would make CEO John Legere proud.

"You'll look hot as an unlimited human hotspot," a fake commercial promises.

And food delivery service DoorDash introduced "Meal Override Mode," or M.O.M.

In the feature, children have to practice math when ordering food, are forced to add at least one handful of veggies to their order and while they wait for delivery, will be given a list of chores they can do and the estimated time it will take to do them.

Photo Credit: AP

April the Giraffe's Calf Will Have an April Birthday


April the giraffe has held out for her namesake month to deliver her world-famous calf.

It would be fitting for the long-necked beauty to give birth on April Fools' Day after all the false alarms she has thrust upon her tens of millions of admirers. Indeed, members of her fan club will have to sit tight just a little bit longer after weeks of waiting for what may be the most globally anticipated giraffe birth in history.

The wildly popular livestream went down intermittently Saturday morning, but the zoo insisted it was "not the hoax many anticipated." Nearly 240,000 people were watching Saturday afternoon, as April paced in her pen ans swished her tail. 

The zoo reported Saturday afternoon that April refused to eat her grain, but was nibbling on carrots. 

The vet is watching for behavior including lifting each leg, pinning her ears, dazing off and raising her tail, the zoo said. 

The zoo also posted a close-up photo of her udders to show how her milk was progressing. 

April already held out longer than her keepers anticipated. The upstate New York zoo livestreaming her pregnancy writing Friday morning that "all observations, behavior and predictions suggest a calf today or tonight."

"We would be shocked to get through the weekend without our newest addition," the Animal Adventure Park wrote. "The staff have been onsite with April all morning, Dr Tim was called and onsite within minutes. This is what we have all been waiting for!"

The zoo said it hoped to launch a text alert system to notify people when April went into active labor, though it wasn't clear if it would be up and running in time.

Watch the live stream below.

When April goes into active labor, the baby's front hoofs will be the first to come out, followed by the snout, the zoo says.

Mom will naturally raise the calf on her own, and weaning could take between six to 10 months, maybe even longer -- the zoo says it won't rush the process. Once weaning is over, the baby giraffe will move on to another facility to start a breeding program there.

"We cannot retain offspring, as it would lead to incestuous mating and undermine the genetics of the program and species," the zoo says.

This is 15-year-old April's fourth calf. It'll be the first for Oliver. He won't take any part in rearing the calf, though. Male giraffes, called bulls, really only care about two things, the zoo says: "fighting and the unmentionable."

"He is a bull -- and a bull is a bull is a bull!" the zoo says.

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.

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. This is the zoo's first giraffe calf.

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.

Photo Credit: Animal Adventure Park YouTube
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Vehicle Parked Inside Milford Police HQ Catches Fire: FD


Firefighters responding to the Milford Police Department Friday night after a vehicle parked inside the building caught on fire, according to fire officials.

Milford fire Battalion Chief Anthony Fabrizi confirmed fire crews were called and responded to extinguish the blaze around 10:45 p.m. No injuries were reported but the vehicle did sustain damage. The building was not damaged and the garage area was ventilated to clear the smoke.

The fire marshal is investigating the cause. No other details were immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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