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More Charges Filed Against Conn. College Student After Scooter Crash


More charges have been filed against a Connecticut College student who police said is accused of hitting a rider on scooter on Route 32 in New London while driving under the influence in November.

New London police said 19-year-old  Sophia Thielman, of Rye Brook, New York, struck a scooter rider, 36-year-old Zachary Chesebro, on Route 32 south near the Waterford line around 12:18 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 22 and Chesebro was in critical condition after the crash.

Thielman was initially charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs DUI and has pleaded not guilty. 

She has also been charged with second-degree assault with a motor vehicle, reckless driving and posssssion of marijuana. 

Bond was set at $150,000. 

She has pleaded not guilty, according to court documents, and is due in court on May 24. 

Photo Credit: New London Police

'Patriotic' Russian Hackers Arrested Across Europe: Report


At least six Russians have been arrested in Europe on international warrants since July, McClatchy Newspapers reported.

The arrests are part of a larger push on Russian hacking, according to a former high-ranking U.S. intelligence official who spoke to NBC News. Some of the hackers in the dragnet may have information on the election hacking.

Cyber experts have long reported that Russian security services use "patriotic" hackers to carry out attacks on intelligence targets. If a hacker refuses to help, it could lead to trouble with Russian authorities.

Pyotr Levashov, 32, was the latest Russian hacker arrested, just last week in Barcelona. Others were arrested in Prague, Thailand and Finland.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File

Hospital Tear-Gassed in Venezuela as Protests Intensify


Venezuela was turbulent with a fifth straight day of protests on Monday as civilians and government security forces clashed in cities around the country, NBC News reported.

The violence in the streets seemed to intensify. Government forces threw tear gas canisters from helicopters to deter protesters. Even a hospital was tear-gassed.

"We went into the streets to protest measures taken by the government against our own constitution and our own democracy,” Juan Mejia, an opposition lawmaker, said to NBC News.

Protesters took to the streets after a shortage of basic goods, high levels of inflation and a move to strip the democratically-elected National Assembly of its power.

Photo Credit: AP

United Shares Slide Amid PR Nightmare


Shares in United Continental stock fell more than a percent Tuesday amid an uproar over a bloodied passenger seen on video being dragged off an at-capacity flight in Chicago.

Earlier Tuesday, the shares were among the worst performers in the S&P 500.

CNBC reported that stock had climbed Monday despite widespread outrage on the internet over the video, which prompted an apology from CEO Oscar Munoz for having to "re-accomodate customers."

Munoz issued a second apology in a statement Tuesday, saying that a "thorough review" of the situation and their policies will take place, the results of which will be shared by Apr. 30.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, File

#NationalPetDay: Adopt an Unlikely Companion


Tuesday marks National Pet Day, which celebrates four-legged friends around the country and raises awareness about animals in shelters in need of forever homes.

Popular dog breeds such as the schnauzer and golden retriever are most likely to be adopted, along with tabby cats and gray cats, a Priceonomics study found

But according to a PetFinder survey, "less adoptable" animals spend nearly four times longer in a shelter than the average pet. The wait time can be years.

Common Shelter Breeds
The American pit bull terrier and the Chihuahua are the two most common dog breeds found in animal shelters, with thousands available for adoption, according to PetFinder.

Although pit bulls have a reputation for being aggressive, with proper training, these loyal companions are gentle, patient and fun-loving dogs.

Chihuahuas, which have been appearing more frequently in shelters due to their pop culture popularity in the early 2000s, are extremely loyal and love people.

Senior Pets
Often overlooked for wiggly puppies and furry kittens, older pets can spend years living in shelters. Many senior pets are already potty trained, know basic commands and have fewer needs than their younger counterparts.

They're generally calmer than puppies and kittens and adapt faster to family environments and first-time pet owners, according to the Sacramento Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Older pets are also less likely to damage your home or keep you up at night.

When most people consider adopting a pet, dogs and cats are traditionally the most popular choice. According to SaveABunny, a nonprofit rabbit rescue, rabbits are the third most common type of animals euthanized at shelters. They make great companions, but require a different type of work and attention than cats and dogs. Before making the decision to bring home a long-eared friend, be sure to know what to expect.

Unlike cats and dogs, rabbits require a specific indoor, caged environment. The ASPCA suggests having as large a space for your rabbit as possible, with room for a litter box with hay and plenty of food. Rabbits are very clean by nature, and will do their best to keep their living quarters clean. If the litter box is changed daily, you're rabbit's home will be odor-free.

Rabbits have powerful hind legs designed for running and jumping. They need plenty of out-of-cage exercise time to run and jump in a safe area, either inside or outside the house, according to the ASPCA. Thousands of rabbits are available for adoption through PetFinder.com, so hop to it!

The number of people who own reptiles has doubled over the past 10 years, according to an American Pet Products Association report cited in Animal Sheltering Magazine. As a result, shelters are seeing a large number of reptiles abandoned by owners who find themselves unprepared.

It's important to research the type of reptile you plan to adopt. Familiarize yourself with the animal's required living environment and make sure you can accommodate the reptile when it's fully grown.

Though specific care depends on the type of animal, home environment is an important factor for all reptiles. These pets are cold blooded and require specific temperatures and lighting, according to Pets at Home's guidelines

For a good family pet, Reptiles Magazine suggests the bearded dragon and a variety of gecko species.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

State Releases New Edition of Cold Case Playing Cards


The state Department of Criminal Justice has released a new set of cold case playing cards to inmates throughout the state.

This is the fourth addition of the playing cards, which are produced by the Cold Case Unit in the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney and the Department of Correction. Each card contains a photo of a homicide victim or missing person and information about the case. The cards are sold to inmates in the hope that one of them may have information on a case.

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There have been arrests or convictions in 20 cases featured in the previous decks of cards, and several of the cases involved tips from inmates who saw the cards. Officials said they’ve received more than 675 tips since the first deck was distributed over six years ago.

The cases featured on the cards are often changed for each new addition. The cards are not available for public purchase, but all four sets can be viewed online. The cards are the only playing cards sold to inmates.

“The cold case playing cards have proven to be a valuable tool assisting our investigators with what are among the most challenging cases. Every tip that we get from someone who sees a card and remembers something is another step toward achieving justice to the victims of these crimes and their loved ones,” said Chief State’s Attorney Kane in a release.

Anyone who thinks they have information on a cold case featured on the cards can contact law enforcement at 1-866-623-8058, by email at cold.case@ct.gov or by regular mail at P.O. Box 962, Rocky Hill, CT 06067.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Division of Criminal Justice

Families Seeking Asylum Held Indefinitely at Pa. ICE Center


At an ICE family detention center in Pennsylvania, one 10-year-old girl’s medical records tell two different stories. 

The Berks County Residential Center’s contracted psychologist held several check-ins with the child and her mother while they were detained between December 2015 and May 2016. In his notes, the psychologist described a woman who could not discipline her daughter and a girl who threw tantrums when she didn’t get her way. He wrote that he "politely reminded" the mom that she could "set boundaries." 

As to the child's bedwetting, he suggested that she visit a urologist, just in case. But he wrote, "the impression she left on me and the interpreter was that her enuresis was related to nothing more than laziness." 

While at Berks, the girl's condition dramatically worsened. She visited an adult urologist during the last month of her stay and never saw a pediatrician.

She was hospitalized in mid-March, 10 months after her release. She has potassium in her urine, and her doctors told her that her disease is incurable. A transplant would prove too difficult, and both her kidneys are failing. 

"Now, she has permanent damage," said Bridget Cambria, one of the pro-bono lawyers who represent detainees at Berks. 

For 14 families, all without criminal records, life at Berks County Residential Center has become a long-term reality. In phone interviews, three current detainees told NBC they've grown tired of an education system that barely teaches, a medical unit that doesn't meet their needs, a cafeteria with inedible food, and a staff with no comprehension of their culture. But mostly, they're sick of lingering in limbo. 

“I think the bottom line is the facility’s not meant for people to be there for 18 months,” Cambria said. “It’s not a place where you live.”

She and her associates, who are based in Reading, Pennsylvania, connected NBC with the mothers, who spoke under the condition that they remain anonymous for fear of retaliation from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the facility’s staff, and their abusers back home. 

The center is run by county employees and contractors who advocates say lack fundamental aptitudes for their jobs. The children at Berks could be better served in the open, where more qualified and diverse individuals would see to their needs.

When the 10-year-old girl continually had nighttime accidents at Berks, not all medical professionals missed her warning signs.

One of the lawyers brought in someone from the outside to re-assess her. Kathryn S. Miller, a registered clinical social worker and play therapist-supervisor, noticed how close the family was -- how when the mother began to cry, her daughter quickly handed her a tissue and later affectionately plucked a piece of lint from her shirt. Miller asked them why they had left El Salvador, and they told her about the gang activity that had forced them to run. They had often heard gunshots around their home, and their neighbors would be robbed or disappear.

In Miller’s notes, she wrote that the girl said gang members would “do bad things, and that’s why I’m so scared.” One had broken into her house to hide from the police. When he was in her home, she had been afraid for her life and her loved ones.

While Berks' psychologist questioned whether the child had wished to flee El Salvador in the first place, Miller thought she had post-traumatic stress disorder. That didn’t necessarily explain the bedwetting, though, so she recommended a “comprehensive physical examination by a pediatrician who specializes in the care of children in order to determine the root cause of her chronic enuresis and develop a plan for treating this condition.”

The psychologist declined comment to NBC on his work at Berks and directed contact through ICE, which has not granted an interview with him.

Tucked among the backroads of Leesport, Pennsylvania, Berks County Residential Center exclusively hosts immigrant parents and children as they wait to learn their fate. It is one of three ICE facilities that hold families; the other two are used for short-term detention in Texas. It’s hidden, and locals might be surprised to find out it’s even there.

At the two-floor center that holds up to 96 people, stark white walls surround detainees day and night in dorm-style rooms that, for some, become their home for years.

“It’s such a creepy place,” said Karen Hoffmann, a legal advocate for immigrants at Berks.

Beginning in November 2015, over two dozen immigrant families filed habeas corpus lawsuits that collectively comprise Castro v. Department of Homeland Security. Fourteen of the families are still at Berks. In the case, detainees who had failed their credible fear interviews for asylum decried the U.S. immigration system because of its lack of external review and asked for another chance to remain in the United States. The American Civil Liberties Union spearheaded the suit and has pushed it all the way to the Supreme Court.

All of the families involved in Castro were detained after crossing the southern border. Their confidential interview and habeas documents indicate that they were primarily asked “yes” or “no” questions, sometimes not even in their native languages, and they were often cut off mid-sentence during the interview process, according to their attorneys. After they had failed their interviews, immigration judges rubber-stamped those decisions during five-minute hearings. All of the immigrants were assigned to expedited removal and put in detention while awaiting deportation.

The asylum interviews took place under President Barack Obama's administration. Our former commander in chief cracked down on undocumented families after the 2014 immigration crisis, when women and children flocked to the United States seeking refuge from violence in El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

Since taking office, President Donald Trump has revamped expedited removal to apply to undocumented residents who have lived in the United States for up to two years, a dramatic extension of the policy.

“This is what Trump wants to do,” said Reading-based immigration attorney Jackie Kline. “He wants to expand expedited removal so that every single person who touches U.S. soil, at an airport, at a border, every one of them is put into expedited removal, every one of them is put into a detention center until their case is over. So they’re already taking this Castro [case] and just blowing it up.”

In the early 2010s, a majority of asylum cases were granted, but numbers plunged after 2014. Last year, more than 56 percent of cases were denied, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. Given Trump’s platform, they may continue to drop.

Both Obama and Trump said that undocumented criminals were their priority for deportation, but none of the immigrants in the Castro case have a criminal record, according to Hoffmann. 

“Help us," begged one detainee from El Salvador. "We’re paying for a crime. We’re not criminals. We’re single mothers searching for refuge.”

The Third Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled against the immigrant families in August, refusing them the capacity to challenge their deportation. That decision meant that “enemy combatants in Guantanamo who are not even on U.S. soil have more rights than asylum seekers,” Kline said.

“How can that be, that people that you say are terrorists, who are trying to blow up the United States, who haven’t even touched U.S. soil, have more rights to court procedure than a mom and child who are fleeing for their lives?” she asked.

The Supreme Court is expected to decide if it will hear the case in mid- to late-April. If it does hear Castro, the detainees’ attorneys hope their clients will be set free until the scheduled court date, which could be set for years from now. If they win the case, they will be able to re-interview for asylum.

But if the appeal is denied in the next few weeks, all of the families will most likely be deported.

Since the lawsuit was filed almost a year and a half ago, ICE has maintained that everyone involved must remain in detention until a final ruling, according to the families’ attorneys. Still, about half have been released because of medical issues or outside pressure, upon the discretion of ICE officials. The rest wonder why their illnesses — diabetes, or their children’s ever-declining weight, or crippling depression — do not qualify them for discharge.

While the families wait to learn the Supreme Court’s decision, their kids are growing up in confinement, and advocates say the center is not equipped for years-long stays.

"ICE is committed to ensuring that residents at the Center are provided a safe, secure and humane environment as they go through the immigration process, which also includes those who remain at the Center for extended periods of time," officials said in a statement.

In August, some of the mothers went on a hunger strike to demand their release, so fed up with the system that they were willing to forgo basic nutrition for weeks. Many of them are still at Berks. Amnesty International USA launched a campaign in March to free four children who all have Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and who have been in detention for over 500 days.

One of the mothers in the Castro case is from Honduras and has a 3-year-old son. When they crossed the border, he was only 22 months old. After getting picked up and transferred from Karnes County Residential Center in Texas, they have spent 18 months at Berks while her parents and siblings wait for them on the outside.

“Half of his life has been locked up,” she told NBC. “He’s learned everything here.”

She said that the children aren’t allowed to run around, and that her son spends all his time by her side, always monitored and controlled. Staffers tell her that he should be seated, and that he has no need to run and explore, she said.

The Berks Resident Handbook, which was included as evidence in a court case, says that children under 10 "are expected to be under the direct supervision of their parent at all times" unless there's an organized activity, or they're in school. Kids over 10 can get free movement passes, if their parents agree.

ICE officials said in a statement to NBC that "similar to other child care facilities and schools" detainees are allowed to run in the center's recreational areas. 

School-aged children attend classes during the morning and early afternoon, for five hours each day, according to ICE. While they study, their moms wipe down almost the entire facility — the kitchen, lobby, phone areas, bathrooms, practically everything but the ICE offices.

“Once you drop your kids off, out comes the cleaning cart and you start cleaning,” Cambria said.

Though the work program is technically voluntary and pays one dollar a day, mothers take part because if they are assigned to the kitchen shift, they’re given juices and ice cream for their kids, who they say won’t eat most of the other food in the cafeteria because it's gross. Menus from May and June 2016 show that residents had access to rice, beans and tortillas, but main courses tended more toward carb-loaded American favorites like pizza, chicken tenders, and hot pockets.

In class, three teachers and two assistants cover five subjects -- including physical education -- for all grade levels. In a statement to NBC, ICE wrote that "the curriculum is individualized for students based on their learning profiles and academic needs." In practice, kids are doled out worksheets or handed books for self-study.

Some detainees and their representatives indicated that the education is inadequate. When Hoffmann, the legal advocate, visited an 11-year-old at Berks, the girl asked if they could watch “Barbie: Princess Charm School.” It was what they were doing in class, she said.

Most kids "really want to go to school and really want to learn," said Kline, one of the attorneys. "And then here’s this school where they are doing worksheets and no one’s teaching them anything." 

Loulou, a young Syrian woman who was detained with her father for six months when she was 15 and 16 before being granted asylum, has deferred an offer of admission from Rutgers University, where she plans to study mathematics, to work for a year. She asked to use her nickname without her last name because members of her family are still waiting to come to the United States.

Loulou said that while at Berks, she didn't feel discriminated against by her teachers, but she added, “I never learned anything new.” All of the assignments were “primary school level,” and her instructors struggled to teach her. They would give her a vocabulary list each day that she would have to define, “and that was basically it” for language arts, she said.

Sometimes, when the English teacher taught her math, she would just read from a textbook. If she had any questions about a problem, she was told to skip it.

Loulou thinks the Berks education would hold back most people. When she was released two years ago and attended public high school, she said, “I had to work really hard to catch up with everybody else.”

Art projects are popular among the teachers. On the walls near the visitation area, crafty assignments for the season ask the children to describe where they hope to travel in the summer, or what they want for Christmas in December. For St. Patrick’s Day this year, the attorneys said the kids had to fill out prompts about why they were lucky.

”What they want to write is ‘I’m lucky because... I’m not. I’m stuck in this place, and I can’t leave,’” Cambria said.

Some children ask their advocates for supplementary books. Before Donald Trump was elected, a 12-year-old boy requested a copy of "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" in Spanish, Hoffmann said. The kid's mother complained in Flores v. Holder, another case that involved Berks, that her son "gets bored" in class. Inn a June 2016 declaration, Joshua G. Reid, ICE assistant field office director in Philadelphia, responded by saying that the boy had been moved from the third- to sixth-grade classroom to a seventh- to tenth-grade level, where he appeared to be "challenged, yet doing well."

One of the mothers from El Salvador has a 16-year-old son, and they’ve both been at Berks for 18 months. He was excited to come to the United States, where he could study English and take classes in all different subjects. 

“He says, ‘Mom, I want to leave here so I can learn more,’” she told NBC. 

Her son has slept next to her for a year and a half, through puberty. While other teenagers occasionally circle through Berks, he is usually the only boy his age. 

“He looks out the window and asks, ‘When will I get to leave through that door?’ And I can’t answer him because I don’t know,” she said.

Now, he has gotten so depressed that he skips lunch and takes a nap between classes. He doesn’t like the cafeteria food, and like many of the other kids, he longs for dishes that reflect the cuisine from his country.

Another mother from El Salvador, who has a 7-year-old son, said that adolescents often get desperate, grabbing ropes and threatening to hang themselves, or wishing they would die.

“It’s not just, that kids spend their childhoods locked in four walls,” she said.

The counselors, childcare professionals who watch over detainees, are supposed to look out for their well being. But, according to the attorneys and some immigrant mothers, they lack essential qualifications, like Spanish fluency and cultural understanding, and their misconceptions can sometimes turn into racism.

“The dynamic at Berks is very weird, because it’s this rural, mostly white county…with this immigration detention center,” said Hoffmann. “And so you can see the people that work there are from the local area. A lot of them have certain political ideas and treat them accordingly.”

“You always hear comments about how we should go back to our country and how we’re not from here. How we’re illegals,” one of the mothers said. “We’re not from here, but we came here just asking for help.” 

One counselor often talked about his support for Trump during the campaign, according to an internal declaration that a former detainee filed against him. When the woman asked him to stop saying that Trump “will make sure all immigrants get out of this country,” he “started picking the hairs out of his beard and throwing them at me,” she wrote in the complaint, which was sent directly to the facility's executive director, Diane Edwards.

She also accused him of telling her daughter that “he only liked white women because Latinas were very ugly and that we did not like to take showers.”

That same Saturday, he approached her daughter and two other children. “He asked the girls to let their hair down and to start dancing” to hard rock, she wrote, and whoever danced the best would be rewarded with candy.

“I don’t like to see anyone getting my child to do anything with her body in exchange of candy,” the former detainee wrote. “I wonder, if right in front of us he will ask them to dance for candy, what else would he ask them to do when the moms [are] not around?”

The complaint was filed in November, and attorneys were told that there would be an investigation. When they followed up in January, they did not receive a response.

“He’s taking care of children,” Hoffmann said. “They sit on his lap.”

In a separate ChildLine report, a 6-year-old boy told Miller, the Pennsylvania social worker, that he had witnessed the same counselor refuse to help a 16-year-old detainee carry a 13-year-old, who had collapsed from lack of oxygen, to the medical center. ChildLine is the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services' (PDHS) child protective services program that sorts tips and sends them to a relevant investigative body. 

NBC asked to speak to the counselor, who as of March still worked at Berks, but ICE has yet to grant the request. Officials would not confirm whether he is still employed by them, or whether they have ever looked into his behavior. ICE said in a statement that they "are committed to ensuring that residents at the Center are treated in a safe, secure and humane manner" and "allegations of possible misconduct are thoroughly reviewed and investigated."

The mothers also criticized the staff’s routine bed checks, which take place every 15 minutes in compliance with the facility’s agreement with PDHS.

According to Reid's declaration for Flores v. Holder, last summer his team was in negotiations with PDHS to change the frequency of bed checks to once per hour. ICE declined to discuss "matters of pending litigation" with NBC and the detainees say the policy has yet to be revised. Because of the constant nighttime intrusions, they’re always exhausted. 

“The kids are suffering a lot,” said one of the mothers from El Salvador. “They don’t sleep, because every 15 minutes they [staffers] open the door and shine lights on them.” 

In January, during a room check in the early morning, one detainee saw a staff member approach her daughter's bed. The move triggered her PTSD, and she screamed four or five times out of fear that her child would be attacked. When she visited the Berks psychologist, he wrote in his notes that "she acknowledged that she loudly screamed repeatedly, and indicated that she was 'ashamed' of her behavior." 

Some mothers worry that they’re failing their children. When the mom from Honduras’ infant was shaking with a high fever, she tried to go to the medical wing to get him help (detainees aren’t allowed to keep most medication, including aspirin, in their rooms). She was told to return in the morning, but when she showed up before 7 a.m., the medical staff said they couldn’t see her son until 4 p.m., during walk-in hours.

ICE officials confirmed that Berks holds walk-in hours from 9-10 a.m. and 4-5 p.m. daily but disputed mothers' allegations that they didn't have true access to around the clock care. They said that residents with urgent needs "will receive treatment at the medical clinic 24 hours a day, 7 days a week." 

“I felt incompetent because I couldn’t take care of my child,” said the mother from Honduras. “It hurt me that he had to wait all day when the check-up only took five minutes.” 

Cambria said that the only thing the Berks moms care about is their children. 

“It’s their whole life,” she added. “And they put them in this place where the place’s whole job is to take away the ability to be a parent. You can’t cook. You don’t decide when your kid wakes up, when they go to sleep. How they learn. What they learn, what they read, what they see. Everything’s taken from them.” 

Many of the mothers have refused deportation because they fear their children will be hurt or killed if they return home. They’re willing to endure a drawn out court process even if it means staying indefinitely in detention, putting their lives on pause.

“I want to keep fighting, for my son,” one said.

Photo Credit: ALDEA
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Meals on Wheels Volunteer Fatally Run Over by Own Truck


A 78-year-old Meals on Wheels volunteer was killed after being run over by her pickup truck during a home delivery, Clinton Police said. 

Carol Moriarty's 2015 Dodge pickup truck was parked on an incline at a home on Alden Drive while she was volunteering for the charity around 11:04 a.m. on Tuesday, police said. 

The victim got out of the truck, delivered the food and walked back to the truck when it began to roll back. Moriarty attempted to stop the truck from rolling, but the truck took out a mailbox before sweeping the woman underneath. She sustained serious head injuries, according to Clinton Police.  

Police said she many have accidentally touched the emergency brake, which caused the truck to roll.

Witnesses who did not see the event but observed what happened afterwards called 911.

Moriarty died while EMS was bringing her to the hospital.

The woman, of Old Lyme, was a volunteer for Meals on Wheels — Estuary Council of Seniors based in Clinton and Old Saybrook. Her coworkers said she loved hiking and kayaking, and was dedicated to helping others.

"She was truly a beautiful person. Our Estuary family is heartbroken and extend our sincerest condolences to her family," Lisa, the Meals on Wheels Clinton site manager, said. She did not want her last name posted. 

The patient Moriarty was visiting, Brit Staten, is devastated.

"Always wonderful and friendly," Staten said. "Always wonderful. She would say 'Hi Brit, here I am!'"

Clinton Police and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are conducting investigations. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut/Meals on Wheels

Marriott in Hartford Reopens Ballroom After 60 Fall Ill


The Marriott Hotel in downtown Hartford reopened its ballroom days after the city ordered the area to be shut down for cleaning and sanitizing after dozens of people reportedly fell ill.  

The order came after reports of around 60 people who used the facility coming down with Norovirus-like symptoms between March 30 and April 4. 

Dr. Gary Rhule, director of the city of Hartford's Health and Human Services Department, said in a statement that the city advised the hotel on Monday that it could reopen the ballroom and resume normal operation. 

He said the hotel has complied with all aspects of the health order the Health and Human Services Department.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Spicer Compares Hitler to Assad in WH Flub


White House press secretary Sean Spicer stoked outrage Tuesday when he compared Adolf Hitler to Syrian President Bashar Assad favorably, saying Hitler did not "sink to the level of using chemical weapons" during World War II. Spicer's comments came on the first day of Passover. 

White House Says Russia Trying to ‘Cover Up’ Syrian Chemical Weapons Attack


The White House has accused Russia of trying to "cover up" Syrian president Bashar Assad's role in a chemical weapons attack that left dozens, including children, dead, NBC News reports.

Senior administration officials briefed reporters Tuesday on declassified intelligence that knocks down the Russian-pushed narrative that last week's deadly chemical weapons attack could have been carried out by non-state or terrorist actors.

One administration official called that effort an absolute cover up of Syrian regime culpability, and reinforced the U.S. narrative that the Assad regime was behind the attack and that the gas used was, in fact, sarin.

Russians have a "clear pattern of deflecting blame" from the Assad regime, another administration official said.

Photo Credit: Adam Berry, Getty Images (File)

Teens Catch 13-Foot Python in Florida Neighborhood


A group of Florida teens wrangled a 13-foot python they found roaming in a Pembroke Pines neighborhood. 

The three boys caught the massive snake in Holly Lake, a residential community on the edge of the Everglades, Pembroke Pines police said in a Facebook post.

The python had burn marks on its skin and may have been trying to escape a brush fire that ignited in the Everglades Wednesday. The "Holiday Fire" charred 6,800 acres through parts of Broward and Northwest Miami-Dade before it was brought under control Sunday.

Police warned residents that brush fires in the Everglades may lead to a rise in wildlife entering nearby residential areas as they try to escape the smoke and flames.

The phython was taken to Everglades Holiday Park to be assessed by professionals.

Officials warned against approaching pythons or other wild animals and said residents should call 911.

Photo Credit: Pembroke Pines Police
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A High Risk for Forest Fires


Meteorologist Josh Cingranelli here. I'm guest writing 'On Ryan's Radar' while he's taking some much deserved R&R in Ireland. 

Abnormally high temperatures coupled with gusty winds are leading to an increased risk of brush and forest fires.

Conditions are dry with relative humidity values between 20 to 30 percent. 

One of the reasons conditions become so dry this time of year is because of the lack of leaves on the trees. 

The leaves help to provide moisture into the atmosphere in a process called transpiration. 

The dry conditions have caused a high fire danger level.

When the fire danger is high, very high, or extreme open burn permits become invalid. Click here to check out the latest fire danger level.

The dry conditions will continue through the end of the week. Relative humidity values will range from 20 to 30 percent with breezy conditions. 

Fire officials across the state urge everyone to be vigilant when discarding any ashes. 

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Firefighter Injured Battling House Fire in Southington


A firefighter was hurt battling a house fire in Southington overnight.

Southington Fire Captain Jimmy Paul said that crews responded to a two-story home at 78 Fleetwood Road around 12:45 a.m. Tuesday. When firefighters arrived they found the three occupants of the home outside safe.

Crews said a fire in the garage area was spreading up both stories of the the house.

The fire was under control by 1:48 a.m., Paul said. One firefighter injured an arm during the work, but has been released from the hospital and is expected to be OK.

Firefighters rescued two cats from the home and someone took out a third cat, which was safe.

The flames were so intense that they melted siding on a house next door.

Paul said it was not clear where the fire started. The home did have smoke detectors. The fire marshal is investigating the cause.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Family Rescued from Fire by Passerby Walking Dogs


A fire destroyed a home in Woodbury Monday night, but thanks to someone walking by, lives were saved.

The home is on Woodside Circle. Woodbury Fire Chief Janet Morgan said it took multiple fire companies rand more than 50 firefighters to put out the flames.

Firefighters said a woman, her two children, a baby, and a dog were inside when flames erupted on the front porch.

A passerby walking dogs alerted the family and they escaped.

"It's an absolute blessing that the neighbor from what we heard saw the fire, knocked on the door, pounded on the door and said get out," said neighbor Ellen Knudsen.

The family is safe. The fire is under investigation.

Photo Credit: Woodbury Fire Department

1 Killed in I-95 Crash That Left Semi-Truck Dangling Off Overpass in Fla.


One person was killed after a semi-truck crashed and was left dangling off an Interstate 95 overpass in Boca Raton, Florida, at about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, authorities said.

Three southbound lanes of the interstate in Palm Beach County were closed as a precaution which caused traffic on the road to be backed up for miles, as far north as Delray Beach.

Officials say a tow truck driver, 69-year-old Richard Randolph, was working to get the semi upright when he fell from the overpass. Randolph was pronounced dead at the scene.

Rescue crews were able to remove the truck from the wall and had it upright around 10:20 a.m. FHP investigators say the driver of the semi-truck, Adrian Figueredo of Miami, struck the concrete center median when exiting the interestate and came to rest over the wall.

He was charged with making an improper turn and for going beyond the hours limit for drivers.

It’s the third such wreck involving a semi-truck at the Congress Avenue overpass in just over eight months.

Wethersfield Man Charged in Newington Gas Station Assault


Police have arrested a Wethersfield man accused in an assault at a Newington gas station in March.

Joseph Aguiar, 41, of Wethersfield, turned himself in to police on Tuesday.   

Aguiar is accused of lunging toward an unsuspecting victim who was sitting in a car outside the Mobil Gas Station at 50 Fenn Road around 10:30 p.m. on March 8, grabbing the man and throwing him to the ground, causing the man to hit his head on the pavement, according to police.

The victim was unconscious for two minutes after the attack, police said.
Last month, police said the assailant never tried to help and the whole encounter was captured by surveillance cameras.

Police then released the surveillance photos in the hopes of identifying the suspect and later said they identified a suspect, but did not release his name at the time.

They did say he was cooperating with police.

Aguiar has been charged with third-degree assault, third-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree breach of peace.

Bond was set at $75,000 and Aguiar is due in court on April 25.

Photo Credit: Newington Police

Police Asking for Witnesses to Come Forward After Man Jumps from Arrigoni Bridge

Woman Sees Her 'Slave Cabin' Birthplace in DC Museum


A cabin that housed enslaved people starting in the 1853 was restored and installed in the National Museum of African-American History and Culture -- and on Tuesday a woman who was born there saw her former home in a museum exhibit.

Isabell Meggett Lucas, 87, was amazed to see the two-room wood house where her family of 11 had lived on Edisto Island, South Carolina.

“I never knew this all would come to pass,” she said. “Everybody is excited and happy.”

The Point of Pines Cabin "slave cabin" was the only remaining cabin of 10 cabins that were built in a row along the same patch of land. It originally was owned by a landowner named Charles Bailey, who acquired his wealth through slavery, said Nancy Bercaw, a curator at the museum. 

The cabin is on display in the slavery and freedom section of the museum, but Lucas she did not know growing up that slaves had lived there. To them, it was just home.

Lucas spoke with News4 and Lonnie Bunch, founding director of the museum, to share her childhood memories of the house.

She said she slept in one room with her nine brothers, and her parents used the other room. 

"When I was a child, we’d get out and play, and climb trees.” Lucas said. “I remember my grandmother cooking and feeding us.”

Lucas was raised by her grandmother, who she thought was her mother. She found out who her mother really was after her grandmother died. 

Her paternal grandparents lived in the same community, in separate cabins.

The kids spent most of their time outdoors, doing chores, playing games or being chased by the family horse. 

The cabin never had electricity, so fetching wood for the stove was among the chores the Meggett kids did. It also did not have a refrigerator, bathroom or running water.

They had a garden behind the house where they grew okra and beans, and they raised chickens and hogs for meat.

Lucas said even though the house did not have much, the family was happy.

Lucas' mother, who also was born in the cabin, moved out in 1981, when the owners sold it. 

The cabin was given to the Edisto Island Historic Preservation Society and eventually passed on to the Smithsonian. It was was taken apart piece by piece and reconstructed exactly as it stood when it was moved to the museum. 

Bercaw said people like Lucas are crucial to the museum. Lucas and her family are living history. 

“This is the most beautiful thing that could’ve happened -- the Meggetts coming forward and visiting us and sharing these stories with us," the curator said.

Photo Credit: NBC Washington
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Suspect in St. Patrick's Day Stabbing Outside New London Bar Arrested


Police have arrested a suspect in a stabbing outside the Dockside Bar in New London on Saint Patrick's Day.

Troy Murallo Bergeson, 34, of New London, was arrested Monday. 

Police said two groups of people who had been drinking at the bar got into an argument and went outside, where the argument escalated into a fight and a man who tired to intervene was stabbed.

Officers responded to the bar at 36 Bank Street around 11:40 p.m. that Friday night to investigate the stabbing.

The victim was taken to Lawrence & Memorial Hospital to be treated for a stab wound in his lower back.

The people involved in the fight were gone when police arrived and officers determined they knew each other and this was not a random incident.

Bergeson was charged with first-degree assault and he is being held on probation violation charges.

Bond was set at $150,000.

Photo Credit: New London Police
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