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Burlington Vandalism Investigated as Possible Hate Crime


Police in Burlington are looking into recent vandalism as a possible hate crime, according to a post on the town’s website Monday.

In the message, First Selectman Ted Shafer said the vandalism included “inexcusable comments” that he said do not reflect the values of the community. 

Connecticut State Police confirmed they responded Sunday to a report of vandalism on a vehicle on South Main Street. According to police, shaving cream was used to draw male genitalia on the car. The vehicle was not permanently damaged, but the incident is under further investigation to determine if the vandalism was a bias/hate crime.

Connecticut State Police and the Burlington Police Department are investigating. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Burlington Police Department at 860-673-4856 or The First Selectman at 860-673-6789 x 1.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Parents and Schools Have Mixed Reaction on Fidget Spinners


Children across the country are anxiously trying to get their hands on a “fidget spinner” a small, plastic spinning toy that’s marketed as a tool to help children with attention disorders, anxiety and autism. 

The toys have become popular with all children, leading some to question whether they’re a help or a distraction in the classroom. 

Of the parents NBC Connecticut spoke at the Church Street School in Hamden, those who’ve heard of them took no issue with children having the toys. 

“In group settings, if they have something to play with a lot of times they study better,” Erika Ennejjar, a Hamden parent, said. 

“I don’t mind them. Instead of him making noise on the table or banging his foot or maybe grabbing things, he has that just for himself,” said Ariana Reis, who said her oldest son has ADHD and has had spinners for months.

She finds they are a big help with his focus. 

While the toys might be fun to play with and look at, a special education expert said there might be better alternatives to help children with special needs. 

“Generally, I don’t support these, period. As a former teacher and principal, I think I truly understand the disruption for teachers,” Judy Falaro, director of special education programs at Quinnipiac University, said. 

Falaro said she believes stress balls, a break in classroom time, or other time-tested methods might be more helpful for children who need special assistance without becoming a distraction for the entire classroom. 

“They become a fad. Every kid in the classroom has them,” she said. “They’re spinning them while teachers are trying to teach and what’s happening is it’s a huge disruption.” 

Jodie Petruzzelli, a Hamden mom whose son has PTSD and even made his own fidget spinner, thinks that as long as the children aren’t pulling the toys out in class every child could benefit from having one around. 

“I think they’re a good distraction, I don’t think there’s anything bad about them” she said. 

The Saint James School in Manchester sent a notice to parents informing them that children are not allowed to use them during school hours and school officials plan to confiscate all devices children are caught playing with during school. 

In Southington, some parents also received a notice that if fidget spinners become a distraction during school, students will be asked to leave the toys at home. 

Newington to Consider Changes to Cedar Street Intersection


The Newington Town Council is considering making changes to the intersection of Cedar Street, Route 175, and Alumni Road. 

There will be a public meeting at 6 p.m. in the Town Hall Auditorium to discuss a proposal to put a traffic light at Alumni Road and Cedar Street and remove the light at Maple Hill Avenue. 

Traffic would be redirected behind four homes on Maple Hill Avenue, so the street would connect to Alumni Road. 

“It’s dangerous. Nobody has been killed there, but there’s a lot of concern that someday somebody will be hurt,” Craig Minor, the Newington town planner, said. 

People who frequently drive through that intersection agree it can be dangerous, especially making left hand turns in and out of Alumni Road. 

“It’s definitely not easy to get out. You can sit here for a good five minutes just waiting to get in and out during a really congested time,” Brian Merchant, of Wethersfield, said. 

“It’s not soon enough, the light. It would be very helpful,” Art Amor, of Newington, said. 

But some drivers feel the traffic light would not help alleviate congestion and the intersections should stay as is. 

“Thirty-two years I’ve been going through it. So I’ve seen a lot of accidents coming over here. I don't think it’d make much of a difference. Waste of taxpayer money, especially my money,” Todd Bacote, of Meriden, said.

This is the second time town leaders are considering changes to the intersection. It was also discussed about 15 years ago, Minor said. 

If the town moves forward with the changes this time, the Connecticut Department of Transportation would be responsible for funding, designing and executing the changes. 

“The only reason we’re doing this is because we were given signals by DOT staff a year or so ago that if Newington wanted to do this, the DOT would be willing to consider it,” Minor said. 

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

$50K Worth of Computer Equipment Stolen from Stratford Construction Site


Police are investigating the theft of around $50,000 worth of computer equipment from a construction site on Barnum Avenue in April. 

Police said someone entered an equipment truck near Agresta Terrace on April 18 and stole various pieces, where were manufactured by Trimble. 

The estimated value of the stolen items is $50,000 and police said some pieces are marked “Dalling #2.” 

Anyone with information on the thefts should call Det. Todd Moore at 203-381-6902 or email tmoore1@townofstratford.com.

Photo Credit: Stratford Police

A Prolonged Period of Unsettled Weather Starts Friday


NBC Connecticut Meteorologists have issued a 'First Alert' for heavy rain and thunderstorms expected Friday. 

The next couple of days will be primarily dry. Wednesday will be cool and breezy with partly cloudy skies. High temperatures will reach 60 degrees. 

Temperatures will be bit milder on Thursday with increasing clouds throughout the day. High temperatures will rise into the middle to upper 60s. 

The weather turns quite unsettled on Friday as a low pressure system moves to our north. We're forecasting heavy rain and thunderstorms throughout the day. We're keeping an eye on the threat for flooding throughout parts of the state. Some of our computer models are indicating up to 2 inches of rain is possible. 

Unfortunately the system stalls out for several days to our north. This is called a 'Cut-Off Low". The system is basically stuck and can't move due to blocking to the north. 

A prolonged period of showers and thunderstorms are likely through the weekend and right into the workweek. 

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Panera Begins Delivery Service in Hartford Area


Panera is now offering delivery service in the Hartford area. 

If you are within a designated eight-minute radius of a local café, you’re in luck. 

You can place an order up to two weeks in advance on PaneraBread.com or through the Panera Bread mobile app and get anything from the lunch and dinner menu with a $5 order minimum and $3 delivery service fee -- in most markets. 

From May 8 to May 31, Panera will donate $7.50 to Meals on Wheels America for each completed delivery order from participating bakery-cafes in Connecticut -- for a min donation of $10,000 up to a max donation of $15,000. 

A news release from Panera Bread said the company expects to add more than 10,000 new in-cafe and delivery driver jobs system-wide by the end of 2017 while expanding delivery service to 35 to 40 percent of its cafes by year end. 

To find out if Panera delivers in your area, visit the website.

Plane Passengers' Pre-Flight Fistfight Caught on Camera


A pre-flight fistfight was captured on camera Monday on board an All Nippon Airways plane that was about to take off from Tokyo to Los Angeles.

The video shows two passengers brawling on Flight No. 6 from Narita International Airport to Los Angeles International Airport. The airline said a man seen in the video wearing a red shirt was taken into custody, but details regarding charges were not immediately available.

"All Nippon Airways apologizes to our passengers on Flight No. 6 to Los Angeles for the pre-flight incident," ANA said in a statement issued Tuesday. "The individuals involved have been dealt with appropriately by local law enforcement."

NBC4 is attempting to obtain more details from Narita Airport Police.

As for the individual in custody, the airline statement said, "He was incoherent and physically violent and aggressive to other passengers." He was identified by the airline only as a U.S. citizen.

Passenger Corey Hour, who captured the video, told NBC News the "irate" man appeared to assault other passengers before takeoff, which was delayed by about 50 minutes due to weather issues. The airline told NBC4 the man was involved in confrontations with at least one woman and three men before takeoff.

Another passenger, the man seen in the dark shirt in the video, intervened, Hour said. 

"The moment I heard something vocally from him was when he was leaning over the back of the seat, speaking to the man in the black shirt, saying, 'Where are you from? And, then immediately following that with, 'I'm going to kill you,'" Hour said. "The gentleman in the black was fighting defensively. He wasn't trying to start anything. He was a very calm, collected individual."

Hour said adults were protecting children, who can be heard crying on his video, as the men exchanged blows.

"There was a child in the row right in front," Hour said. "I remember his mom hunched over, cradling the child and his grandmother shielding them."

The altercation appeared to end when the man was escorted to the front of the passenger cabin, but he soon returned to exchange more punches. 

"He was trying to continue fighting the gentleman," Hour told NBC News. "The flight attendants were in the middle of it."

At that point, Hour said he decided to stop recording and help restrain the passenger. When he was told to leave the plane, Hour said the man responded, "You think I'm crazy? The government is crazy."

After the man was taken into custody, other passengers continued on their flight to LAX. 

Photo Credit: Corey Hour

2 Injured in School Bus Crash in Newington


Two people were injured when a school bus and a car collided on Main Street in Newington Tuesday afternoon, but no students were onboard. 

Police said the crash happened around 2:30 p.m. on Main Street at Market Square. 

The driver and passenger in the car were injured and transported to a local hospital. 

The school bus driver wasn’t injured. 

Main Street was shut down between Market Square and Cedar Street until both vehicles were towed from the scene.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Tires Stolen, Car Damaged at Dealership in Waterbury: PD


Police are searching for the suspects responsible for stealing tires and damaging cars at a dealership in Waterbury.

Officers were dispatched to The Highline Car Connection at 1833 Watertown Avenue at 3:43 a.m. on Friday for criminal mischief and attempted larceny.

The two suspects in the car dealership lot fled on foot when they were approached by responding police officers. 

Three cars had all rims and tires stolen, while another three cars had the front passenger side windows smashed in, Waterbury Police said.

After the suspects fled, a car in the area crashed into a police cruiser and Brenda Lopez was arrested.

Upon investigation, police saw lugnuts in Lopez's car that matched ones used at the dealership. Lopez's boyfriend, Angel Velez, was also arrested.

Lopez was charged with criminal mischief, attempt of larceny, possession of burglary tools.

Velez was charged with criminal mischief, conspiracy to commit criminal mischief, attempt of larceny, conspiracy to commit larceny, and possession of burglary tools. 

The couple was charged with criminal mischief

Photo Credit: Waterbury Police Department

CT Sex Offender Accused of Enticing Tenn. 13-Year-Old Online


A registered sex offender in Connecticut is accused of enticing a 13-year-old in Tennessee, state police said. 

Andrew Cunningham, of Windsor, is accused of risk of injury to a child, computer crimes, criminal attempt of sexual assault, patronizing a prostitute, enticing a minor by computer. 

A 13-year-old in Tennessee was sexually enticed online by Cunningham, police learned at the end March. Cunningham allegedly tried getting the victim to travel to Hartford by bus in order to engage in sexual contact, state police said. 

Between April 11 and May 2, undercover state troopers and Cunningham continued online exchanges to make arrangements for the victim to travel to Hartford and engage in sexual acts for money, state police said. 

The 37-year-old was arrested at Union Station in Hartford on Tuesday. 

Cunningham is currently on parole and registered as a sex offender for traveling to Illinois and had sexual contact with a female minor in 2015. The criminal case

Cunningham's bond was set at $250,000. 

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

I-91 South Reopens in Hartford After Tractor-Trailer Rollover


Interstate 91 south in Hartford was congested for hours after a tractor-trailer carrying bottled water rolled over, but all lanes have reopened.

Minor injuries were reported in the crash that closed all lanes of the highway between exits 29A and 27 around 10 a.m. and crews got to work, cleaning up the water bottles as well as the fuel that spilled.

The driver of the truck, Ralph Perry, was transported to Hartford Hospital for minor injuries. 

Perry was charged with failure to drive in proper lane, traveling unreasonably fast and failure to pay annual filing fees. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
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Views From Around Dunkin' Donuts Park for Yard Goats Games


Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Protesters Block Courthouse Over Deportation Order


Several activists are blocking the entrance to the Abraham Ribicoff Federal Building in Hartford, the Hartford Field Office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, to protest the deportation order issued for a Derby father. 

Luis Barrios, 52, left Guatamala 25 years ago, but said he has been on the radar of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, since police pulled him over in 2011 because a taillight on his truck was out and he has a deportation order to take a one-way 4 a.m. flight from New York to Guatemala Thursday. 

U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) have written to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, seeking reconsideration of the decision to deport Barrios. 

Blumenthal and Murphy said they have repeatedly reached out to ICE officials and have received no information to justify the action. 

“It does not appear that Mr. Barrios poses a threat to the integrity of the immigration system. Mr. Barrios has no aggravated felonies, felonies, or misdemeanors in the United States, is a productive and valued member of his community, and has four U.S. citizen children. Based on these factors, we respectfully ask that his request for prosecutorial discretion be granted,” the senators wrote. 

Organizers said the protest is a civil disobedience action.

An ICE spokesperson told The New Haven Register the agency is closely monitoring Barrios’ case “to ensure his timely departure in compliance with the 1998 final order of removal.”

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

New Haven Students Earn National Grant to Clean Up Park


Esteban Calderon and his Fair Haven School classmates had three objectives at Criscuolo Park in Fair Haven on Tuesday morning.

“We’re painting trash cans and we’re planting trees and we’re collecting the trash,” Calderon said.

Teacher David Weinreb said the students in his bi-lingual sixth grade class have arrived in New haven from Spanish speaking countries in the past three years.

“It feels like an important responsibility for me that my students become experts quickly on how the city runs,” Weinreb said.

In November, the class began visiting New Haven landmarks like City Hall, libraries and parks. The students also wrote letters to city officials.

“How they wanted their city to become a better place for them and their families,” Weinreb said.

One of the letters went to Rebecca Bombero, the director of the city’s department of parks, recreation and trees.

“It was really adorable,” she said. “His messages were right on too with the mayor’s clean cities message about keeping the park clean.”

Bombero said she let the class know they could apply for a grant geared toward students from the National Parks Trust.

“They had about a week to turn around a grant proposal,” Weinreb said.

The students were successful in securing $642 for the park clean-up.

“It’s good because we are trying to help our environment and trying to the help community,” Calderon said.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

New Fairfield Woman's Untimely Death Suspicious: Police


Police are investigating the death of a 55-year-old woman in New Fairfield. 

State troopers said they got an untimely death report at 26 Candelwood Road at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday. 

Responding officers located the 55-year-old woman and deemed the death suspicious, state police said. 

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) will conduct a post-mortem examination to determine cause and manner of death.

There is no threat to the public or community, troopers said.

The investigation is ongoing.

Enlightenment School Student Tests Negative for Meningitis


After a student from a Waterbury School was experiencing similar symptoms to the illness, the city’s health department tells NBC Connecticut the student’s results for meningitis came out negative.

Privacy laws prohibit health officials from going into any more detail about the student’s illness.

It was a scare for students and parents of the Enlightenment School in Waterbury.

After Stylze Perez learned that one of his fellow peers had to be tested for Meningitis – a bacteria that could cause high fever, chills, headaches and neck stiffness – the news was a worry to him.

“I was like, ‘oh man! I hope I ain’t touch the kid’ because I didn’t know who it was so I didn’t know if I had interacted with the kid or not,” Perez said.

The Waterbury Health Department said they were contacted by the school system that Thursday a student had been sick at the school.

He then went to St. Mary’s Hospital, before heading to another clinic in Hartford.

The school district received a notice from his doctor on Monday, which said he had to be tested for the disease.

“The good news is no one at the Enlightenment School where the child goes is sick at this point. Our nurse has gone through the records,” director of Waterbury’s health department, Bill Quinn, said.

Before learning the results came back negative for the infection on Tuesday afternoon, the school district had to do a mass cleaning of the school Monday.

“We did find which of the buses he would have ridden on and we had those buses taken out of service and the bus company clean them a special cleaning to the two buses,” Robert Brenker, interim chief operating officer of the Waterbury Public School System, said.

Perez’ mother decided to take extra precaution and take her son to the doctor.

“They did bloodwork, so so far so good I guess if anything was bad with the blood work they will contact me within 48 hours but so far he’s fine,” said Chyianne Perez.

If any student is experiencing any symptoms, such as vomiting, high fever and a stiff neck, the Waterbury public health department said to get checked at the doctor’s office and inform the health department.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Pothole Encounter Nearly Cost Danbury Woman Thousands


Patty Neves thought she avoided serious damage when she hit a pothole on Eagle Road in March 2016.

The impact blew out both tires on her car’s passenger side. She had no idea at the time that the fallout from that single incident would create nearly a year of frustration.

"It was kind of like, my god why'd this happen? You know, this shouldn't happen," Neves said.

When Neves called for a tow truck, the mechanic advised her to call police so there would be a record of the incident if she filed a claim with the city.

When she did, her claim was ultimately denied because the section of Eagle Road where she hit the pothole is private property. Neves accepted the decision and didn’t think about it again until she decided to trade in her 2011 Hyundai Sonata a few months later.

A car dealership employee told Neves her car was worth $3,000. He cited the Carfax report that listed an accident with “disabling damage.”

It came as a shock to Neves, who was expecting a quote between $7,000 and $8,000 based on information from Kelley Blue Book.

“My car is fine. Nothing happened to my car. It was just the flat tires,” Neves said.

Neves tried to call Carfax to get the report changed, but said she had a hard time getting through. 

NBC Connecticut Responds got in touch with Carfax and asked them to review Neves’ case. Once the company received copies of the police report and an invoice from the repair shop, Neves’ Carfax report was amended to reflect that the body of her vehicle did not sustain any damage.

And when Neves went back to the dealership to see about that trade-in, she received an estimate of $7,200.

“I was so happy,” she said.

Carfax told NBC Connecticut Responds it receives data from more than 100,000 sources. If you think there is an error on your Carfax report, you can fill out the Online Data Research Request on the company’s website.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

New Plans For Dealing With ‘Vicious’ Animals In New Haven


A deadly attack by two dogs in New Haven almost a year ago is prompting discussion in the city this week.

Ideas for dealing with 'vicious' animals and improving safety are coming from another city in Connecticut. City leaders said that some of the proposed changes are coming from plans already in effect in the city of New Britain.

The plans are, in part, a response to an incident on June 20, 2016. New Haven police said two dogs viciously attacked a man and a woman inside a fenced yard on Ella T. Grasso Boulevard. Jocelyn Winfrey, 53, died from injuries to her legs, face, head and eyes.

From that tragedy has come action.

"Could we be better? That's what we're after," said Gerald Antunes, who is chair alder on the Public Safety Committee in New Haven.

The committee is leading efforts to enact tougher rules for ‘dangerous’ or ‘vicious’ animals in the city. Provisions would include identifying specific animals within city limits as 'vicious' or 'dangerous', such as a dog that has attacked, bitten or hurt a person without being provoked.

Antunes said New Haven is taking cues on the issue from similar rules already on the books in New Britain.

"We liked the idea that they didn't talk about the breed, but about the dog as an individual," said Antunes.

Many dog owners and dog lovers in New Haven said that safety for people and their pets should be paramount.

"Everybody's pet friendly. The streets are pet friendly," said Stefania Nicoli of New Haven, who admires the ongoing attempts to strengthen current regulations.

After the deadly incident last year, many people said they welcome the changes being proposed.

"You're always fearful when you see a dog and it looks like it can be threatening," said Diane Nolan, who was walking a dog with friends in Wooster Square on Tuesday.

City leaders are also recommending better communication, stronger protective gear, and immediately setting up a perimeter when first responders find themselves face-to-face with a potentially dangerous animal.

"We learn from our experiences, whether they are good experiences or bad; and this was a bad experience," said Antunes.

The dogs involved in the 2016 attack have since been euthanized. Changes to New Haven's current animal ordinances were being discussed by the Board of Alders on Tuesday and could be finalized and in effect by summer.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Coast Guard Tests Tracking Device From Gold Star Bridge


The U.S. Coast Guard Research and Development Center used the Gold Star Bridge Tuesday to test an electronic tracking device.

The Maritime Object Tracking Technology (MOTT) will help crews mark where something is in the water and quickly relocate it.

The Coast Guard would use MOTT to broadcast a GPS location to crews trying to return to a specific area of the water. When crews get closer to the chosen location, a strobe light would help complete the recovery process.

“You don’t have to keep a boat crew on tracking a certain thing. You have them go off and do something more important,” said John McLeod, an operations specialist analyst with the research and development center.

One example the MOTT could be used for is marking an oil sheen so another Coast Guard unit could investigate the area later, officials said. 

On Tuesday, researchers dropped the MOTT from the Gold Star Bridge into the Thames River to test its resilience. The distance is about 200 feet.

The ultimate goal is to drop the MOTTs from a helicopter at 500 feet, while traveling at approximately 80 miles per hour or other high speed vessels. In either case, the device would make significant impact with the water, according to a Coast Guard spokesperson. 

“Not all prototypes were recovered. Some of them broke, some of them cracked. The fall from height has significant forces involved,” Capt. Dennis Evans, commanding officer of the Coast Guard Research and Development Center, said.

Researchers dropped 15 MOTTs into the Thames River on Tuesday but only recovered eight.

The MOTT is significantly less expensive than other Coast Guard technology that could get lost at sea, Evans said. Plus it activates after three minutes, so it doesn’t interfere with the electronics inside the helicopter.

The Coast Guard Research and Development Center in New London initially created a prototype of the MOTT with 3-D printing technology. After running some field tests, the center contracted the Navy to create a more sophisticated prototype made out of high-density plastic, which was tested Tuesday.

The Coast Guard Research and Development Center and the Navy will review the results of Tuesday’s test and work to refine the design.

Once the MOTT is redesigned, the Coast Guard will do another test like the one at the Gold Star Bridge. Then they’ll head to San Francisco to test the MOTTs from a helicopter.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
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Union Concessions Needed to Balance Budget


The governor and top lawmakers in both the House and Senate emerged from their first budget meeting with agreement on one key topic: the state must secure at least $700 million in concessions from organized labor in order to craft a balanced budget.

The meeting started shortly after 3:30 p.m. and ended just before 5 p.m. on Tuesday. 

"It’s absolutely essential for us to hit that $700 million number for us to piece things together," said Sen. Martin Looney, the President Pro Tem of the State Senate.

Republican leaders Sen. Len Fasano and Rep. Themis Klarides agreed, and said they looked forward to the next meeting, which they said has not yet been scheduled.

Governor Dannel Malloy’s administration has been in negotiations with the state’s State Employee Bargaining Coalition (SEBAC) since last summer, trying to negotiate new benefit packages and concessions simultaneously.

The governor has described his demeanor as, "hopeful," that he could reach an agreement to save taxpayers an estimated $700 million.

Following Tuesday’s meeting, the governor said such concessions are a lynchpin for any budget, regardless of whether Democrats or Republicans proposed it.

"We cannot go into final negotiations of a budget without securing $700 million in savings one way or another," Malloy said.

The state faces a more than $5 billion shortfall over the next two fiscal years and will have difficulty ending the 2017 fiscal year in the black. It’s anticipated the governor and lawmakers will dip into the state’s Rainy Day Fund to plug a hole approaching $500 million.

Layoff notices were also distributed two weeks ago, something the governor has said he’s obligated by law to do, saying such a move is a requirement and not a bargaining tool.

The governor reiterated that point following Tuesday’s budget meeting saying, "It’s not a threat. It’s just that we have to comply with the law and we will comply with the law."

House Speaker, Rep. Joe Aresimowicz, who works for AFSCME as his day job, said since everyone is in agreement on the need for union givebacks, he hopes organized labor comes to the negotiating table for the sake of taxpayers.

"One of the things we all agreed on is that the labor savings was built into all of our budgets and we know those negotiations are ongoing as we speak and we look forward to them coming to a close and being voted by the memberships and we all move forward with our budgets," Aresimowicz said. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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