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Former Plainville School Employee Under Investigation


Plainville parents say they're shocked and concerned after receiving a letter from their school district regarding someone who, until recently, worked at Plainville High School.

In the letter, Superintendent Maureen Brummett wrote that "On or about, April 3, my office learned that one of its former high school staff members is under investigation for allegations concerning inappropriate off-campus activities."

A source identified the person under investigation to NBC Connecticut and the superintendent said that individual was a teacher at the high school. NBC Connecticut is not releasing the name of the person under investigation because the individual has not been charged.

At a board of education meeting Monday night, the topic was not brought up but the superintendent told us off camera that last month a student brought an online video to the attention of the principal and that the principal then alerted the superintendent. The superintendent says she watched the video, reported it to police, and the teacher was put on administrative leave with pay.

The letter to parents points out that "steps were taken to ensure that the employee would not come onto school property. The employee has since resigned employment with the Plainville Community Schools."

The district did not say what the video showed.

The superintendent told us "We took immediate action. We take this very, very seriously. Student safety is our number one priority."

Parents we spoke to did not want to go on camera but say they're upset to hear the news and they, like many others in the community, want to know more.

We tried to get in touch with that teacher but were unable to do so. We reached out to police but have not yet heard back.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Multiple Departments Responding to Fire on UConn Campus

Kushner Kin's China Sales Pitch Is Clear Corruption: Expert


A recent sales pitch by White House adviser Jared Kushner's sister to potential Chinese investors that centered on a controversial visa program came "very, very close to solicitation of a bribe," a former presidential ethics adviser told NBC News.

Addressing crowds in Beijing and Shanghai Sunday, Kushner Companies invited wealthy foreigners to invest in a New Jersey real estate project through a so-called "golden visa" program that fast-tracks green card applications for those who invest at least $500,000 in U.S. development. The event was hosted by a Chinese immigration firm and featured Nicole Meyer, who name checked Kushner, her brother.

"This is corruption, pure and simple," said University of Minnesota law professor Richard Painter, an attorney for President George W. Bush.

On Monday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Kushner has divested from his family firm and had "nothing to do" with the investor recruitment, and Meyer said through a representative that she was sorry if anyone misinterpreted her mention of her brother.

Photo Credit: Albee Zhang/AFP/Getty Images

13-Year-Old West Haven Girl Reported Missing


Police are searching for a 13-year-old West Haven girl who has been missing since 4 p.m. Monday. 

Police are searching for Alexis Otero. 

She is 5-feet-5, has a medium build and black hair with blue highlights. 

West Haven police initially called this an Amber Alert, but later said it is a Silver Alert.

State police also said it's a Silver Alert.

Anyone with information should call West Haven Police at 203-937-3900.

Photo Credit: West Haven Police

Chaos at Florida Airport After Spirit Flights Canceled


Sheriff's deputies responded to the Spirit Airlines terminal at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport after skirmishes involving irate passengers broke out following the cancellation of multiple flights. 

Thousands of passengers were stranded at the airport because of a dispute between the airline and its pilots, who say they are working without a contract.

Cellphone video posted to online shows passengers crowding the carrier's check-in counters and Broward County Sheriff's deputies trying to break up fights and detaining unruly passengers.

In a statement, airline officials say they're "shocked and saddened" to see videos of the airport incident. The Miramar-based company said it filed a lawsuit Monday against the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) and the ALPA Master Executive Council of Spirit pilots over the disruption, which has lead to to hundreds of canceled flights and impacted thousands of travelers.

“We are disappointed that ALPA has decided to engage in this unlawful slowdown,” Spirit spokesman Paul Berry said. “This has led to canceled flights and prevented our customers from taking their planned travel, all for the sole purpose of influencing current labor negotiations. So we reluctantly filed this suit to protect our customers’ and our operations.”

Spirit also suggested the effort was an attempt by the union to affect contract negotiations.

The union's chairman, Capt Stuart Morrison, denied the allegations, saying Spirit's pilot's would not accept "substandard pay and retirement based on the unenforceable hypothesis that the company may grow more quickly," adding that their peers throughout the industry "have uniformly and properly rejected agreements based on that theory."

Brionka Halbert, 18, was trying to return to New York Monday night after a weekend at the Rolling Loud Festival in Miami when Spirit announced her flight was canceled.

“Before we took off, the flight attendants told us we have 28 minutes to board the flight or else the flight will be canceled,” Halbert said. “Everyone was stressed. They asked us to take out our boarding passes and be ready. Then about 20 minutes after that, they told us the flight was canceled. They sent us to the front desk, so that we could either change our tickets or have our tickets refunded.”

Halbert said passengers were "angry and stressed" over the abrupt cancellation. She said it took two to three hours in line to get tickets refunded. "It got rowdy." 

Spirit says its service in at least four major airports, including Fort Lauderdale, has taken a hit due to the contract dispute.

The Associated Press reported nine flights were cancelled out of the Fort Lauderdale airport. According to Spirit, more than 150 flights have been canceled in the last two days.

Photo Credit: Twitter/@asg749d

8 Pounds of Marijuana Found in Montville Diner: Police


The owner of Mel’s Diner in Montville was arrested on marijuana charges after police say they found a large amount of the drug in the attic of the building.

Police said they discovered the marijuana on March 30, when they responded to the diner, located at 262 Route 163, because a neighbor reported an open and unattended door. Police arrived and swept the building for intruders, which is when they found what they described as a “large amount” of marijuana in that attic.

Police requested a search warrant and upon a thorough search of the building they found more marijuana in the restaurant near where food is made. All together, police found approximately eight pounds of marijuana.

Diner owner Melanie Lamperelli, 39, told police in a statement that the marijuana was hers and she had been saving it for baking. Lamperelli said she did not grow it, but claimed it was dropped off in a bag.

On April 28, Lamperelli was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to sell, possession of marijuana within 1500 feet of a school/daycare, possession of more than 4 ounces of marijuana, possession of more than 4 ounces of marijuana within 1500 feet of a school/daycare, possession of drug paraphernalia, and second-degree reckless endangerment.

She was held on a $75,000 bond and appeared in court Monday. She is next scheduled in court on June 6.

The Uncas Health Department was notified and conducted their own investigation.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File

Life Expectancy Varies by 20 Years Across US Counties


Americans' life expectancy varies by nearly a generation across counties in the United States, according to a new study, from a high of 87 years in Colorado's ski country to a low of 66 years in southwest South Dakota, with other parts of the Dakotas, Appalachia and the Mississippi river basin close behind.

NBC News reported that obesity and diabetes could explain a big chunk of that 20-year difference, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association's JAMA Internal Medicine Monday.

Many studies have shown that where Americans live has a big effect on how long they live. But Dr. Christopher Murray's team at the University of Washington found that the disparity has increased by five years since 1980, when they looked at life expectancy and risk of death for each county across the U.S. from then until 2014.

"The magnitude of these disparities demands action, all the more urgently because inequalities will only increase further if recent trends are allowed to continue uncontested," the team wrote.

Photo Credit: American Medical Association

Man Hospitalized After Looking for Dog During Norwalk Fire


A man was taken to the hospital after searching for his dog during a fire in Norwalk and officials said the blaze has displaced eight people. 

Firefighters responded to a fire at 15 Richlee Road at 11:45 p.m. Monday and found heavy fire coming from the two-car garage with flames extending to the roof. 

An SUV was inside the garage and firefighters quickly knocked the blaze down, but two vehicles parked outside against the garage doors were also destroyed, according to the Norwalk Fire Department. 

Officials said the fire was contained to the garage, but there was heat and smoke damage to the first and second floors of the house. 

Eight residents escaped before the fire department arrived. Fire officials said two adults live on the garage level, four adults and two children live on the second floor. 

A man in his 60s who lives on the second floor suffered possible smoke inhalation while searching for his dog. 

Paramedics brought him to Norwalk Hospital and firefighters found the dog quickly. 

Family members brought the dog to the veterinary emergency center on West Cedar Street in Norwalk and the dog was scared and having some difficulty breathing, but seemed to be improving once it was outside, according to the fire department. 

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but the house is unfit for occupancy. 

Photo Credit: Norwalk Fire

Torrington Police Investigating Two Reported Sexual Assaults


Torrington police are investigating two reported sex assaults.

Detective Kevin Tieman told NBC Connecticut the department is investigating two reports of people being sexually sex assaulted by stangers.

The first incident was on High Street during the first week of April and the second occurred in the area of Still Water Pond Sunday.

There is no evidence to suggest that the same person is involved in both incidents, police said.

Police did not release further details.

This is a developing story regarding ongoing investigations. NBC Connecticut will provide updates as they come into the newsroom.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Bridgeport Man Pulled Gun on Troopers During Struggle: CSP


Connecticut State Police have arrested a man accused of pulling a gun on troopers during a struggle in April.

Police said the incident began on April 22 around 6:30 p.m., when troopers pulled over a vehicle on Interstate 95 near exit 27. During the traffic stop troopers found illegal items and tried to detain the driver.

The driver, identified as 33-year-old Robert Bowens, of Bridgeport, ran off. Troopers followed and deployed a stun gun on Bowens, but it did not work. Police said that as troopers struggled with Bowens, he pulled out a gun.

Bowens escaped when family members arrived in an SUV. Bowens jumped into the vehicle, which traveled the wrong way down I-95 north. When troopers cut the vehicle off, it drove the wrong way onto Route 8 south and escaped.

On Tuesday, authorities located Bowens and took him into custody. He was charged with criminal attempted assault, assaulting a police officer, reckless driving, criminal possession of a firearm, weapons in a motor vehicle, possessing a pistol without a permit, criminal possession of ammunition, criminal possession of an electronic defense weapon. Police said Bowens is a convicted felon and had two outstanding violation of probation warrants.

He was held on a combined $700,000 bond. He is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

Dog Attacked by Coyote in Harwinton


Harwinton police are warning residents to be on alert after a dog was attacked by a coyote Monday night.

According to a post on the Harwinton Animal Control Facebook page, the dog is expected to recover.

Authorities remind residents to be careful when letting pets outside. Any questions or reports of coyote activity can be reported to Harwinton Animal Control at 860-806-8743.

Coyote attacks on humans are rare, but coyotes are known to attack and kill pets, especially smaller animals like cats and dogs less than 25 pounds. Coyotes may also attack livestock, though the danger for cows and horses is low because of their size, according to the Department of Energy an Environmental Protection.

Pet owners are advised to keep pets indoors when possible and to stay with your pets when taking them outside. Coyote-proof fencing can also reduce the risk for an attack.

Experts advise against feeding coyotes or leaving pet food outside where wildlife can get it.

If you or your pet comes across a coyote, you can attempt to scare it away by making loud noises and acting aggressively with actions like waving your arms or spraying the animal with a garden hose.

For more information on coyotes, click here.

Immigration Debate Puts Spotlight on Small Texas City of Sanctuary


The debate over sanctuary cities has occupied front page news and garnered national attention. But the small city of Sanctuary in North Texas rarely makes headlines.

"It's a great city," said Sanctuary Mayor Cliff Scallan. "We seem to have gotten some notoriety here by our name."

Sanctuary is a small community with a population of less than 400 people, located northwest of Fort Worth in Parker County. It has nothing to do with so-called "sanctuary cities."

"I wish they'd chose some different words," Scallan chuckled. "We don't harbor anything. We don't hide from anything. We don't try to hide anything. We're just here, you know."

The city's shopping center, the Azle Antique Mall, is stocked with collectibles, trinkets, old wooden wall phones and switchboards that transport customers back in time.  

"Sanctuary, to me, just means safe," said Linda Dorsey, who's worked at the Antique Mall in Sanctuary for three decades. "I'm all for people to come here from other countries and I want them to feel safe. I don't want them to come here as undocumented."

Scallan said his city is not a "highly" political place, noting Sanctuary recently canceled its city council election because no one wanted to run against the incumbents.

"I hope everybody doesn't associate our name with the legislature and the political movements that went on out there," Scallan said.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

Connecticut Makes Best Beach Towns List


You can stay right here in Connecticut to spend time in one of the best beach towns in America this summer.

Good Housekeeping has ranked the 46 best beach towns and they include Old Saybrook and the village of Niantic in East Lyme.

In choosing Old SaybookGood Housekeeping wrote, “If it was good enough to be the town where Katharine Hepburn lived, it’s definitely worthy of our list.”  

Old Saybrook is situated where the Connecticut River meets Long Island Sound and there are plenty of quaint shops and restaurants to visit. 

It’s home to Old Saybrook Town Beach, Harvey’s Beach, Saybrook Point Park, White Sands Beach, Fort Saybrook and Monument Park.

Recreation beach parking passes are for residents and permanent renters only, but non-residents can get passes to Harvey's Beach for $10 a day during the week and $20 per day on weekends and holidays.

In addition to the shopping and dining, you can also pamper yourself at a place like Saybrook Point Marina

Niantic is the other Connecticut community to make the list and Good Housekeeping says it’s no less charming than the “tourist magnet” of Mystic and you will find a “lovely main street,” and no big-box stores. 

Lobsterfest is a draw to Niantic in the summer and happens July 1 and 2. 

Take a stroll on the Niantic Bay Boardwalk or walk the nature trails at Oswegatchie Hills Nature Preserve

Of course, this list is about beaches, so you’ll want to take in McCook’s Point Park or Hole in the Wall Beach. 

See the East Lyme town web site for more information on beach and parking passes.

Resident passes are $35 for residents, and $25 for an additional car. The pass for seniors is $15.

Passes are $100 for non-residents; or $25 to park daily, Monday through Friday; $30 to park on weekends; $10 a day to walk in; or $50 for a non-resident season walk pass.

You could also spend a day at Rocky Neck State Beach.

While you're in Niantic, stop by the Little Boston School House, which is one of the oldest wood-frame houses in Connecticut

See a full list of state beaches here

Photo Credit: Jill Deane, Portland

Trump Approves Plan to Arm Syrian Kurds in ISIS Fight


President Donald Trump has approved a plan to arm a Syrian ally, the Syrian Kurdish militia, in the fight against ISIS, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

The move reinforces American support for the groups, some of which are considered terrorists by nearby Turkey, another important U.S. ally in the region. A U.S. defense official told NBC News that the move indicates the U.S. believes the Syrian Democratic Force is the fighting force that will eventually go into the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa.

The order allows the U.S. to begin providing the Syrian Kurds with arms and equipment like bulldozers, rifles and radios fairly quickly since some equipment is pre-positioned, officials said.

Photo Credit: John Moore/Getty Images, File

Trump Weighs Sending Up to 5,000 More Troops to Afghanistan


The Trump administration is weighing whether to send as many as 5,000 more troops to fight in Afghanistan, a military official told NBC News.

President Donald Trump is still deciding on a variety of options U.S. military leaders are providing him with, according to senior administration officials.

The U.S. currently has about 8,400 troops in Afghanistan, part of America's longest war. The Washington Post first reported that the administration was considering adding at least 3,000 troops, with the U.S. asking other NATO nations to match.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday on the "Today" show that Trump must explain the strategy behind increasing troop levels: "It doesn't make sense to increase troop strength to keep doing the same thing."

Photo Credit: Jonathan Ernst - Pool/Getty Images
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Scene Clear After Bomb Threat to New Haven Court


The bomb squad responded to the courthouse on Church Street in New Haven and the building was evacuated after a bomb threat, but the scene is now clear.

Police said a bomb threat to 235 Church St. was called in at 10:58 a.m. and it was anonymous. 

Police have given the all clear and people have been allowed back into the building.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Boat Catches Fire in Housatonic River


A man was rescued after jumping from a burning boat in the Housatonic River Tuesday.

The fire chief said the incident happened at the Stratford-Shelton line and crews from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection were called in, as was the Coast Guard.

Crews from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said an employee from Beacon Point Marina was operating the 33-foot 2007 Formula near Sikorsky and police responded at 1:10 p.m.

They said it appears that fire consumed most of the fuel and a salvage company will remove the boat.

A witness said the boat was smoking, then burst into flames.

No one was injured and State EnCon police are investigating.

Photo Credit: Stratford Fire Department

Senate Group Draws Fire for Lack of Women Working on Health Care


The core group of 13 Republican senators tasked with crafting health care legislation to repeal Obamacare is under fire for not including any women senators, NBC News reports.

Some Republican women, like Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, have expressed disappointment at being shut out of the working group, led by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. 

McConnell has denied there is a problem with the group’s makeup, saying that every Senate Republican will have their say.

Democrats have been quick to point out the lack of women in the group. "I would hope that Senator McConnell would be a little more sensitive to the fact he's picked a dozen men on his side, there are certainly some very competent women he could've chosen," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told MSNBC Tuesday.

Photo Credit: Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Man Accused of Breaking Into 50 Cent's Farmington Mansion


Police arrested a Windsor man accused of breaking into rapper 50 Cent’s Farmington mansion Tuesday.

Police confirmed they responded to the property at 50 Poplar Hill Drive around 12:20 p.m. for a break-in after an entry alarm went off and on-site security spotted someone on the property.

A suspect, identified as 34-year-old Elwin Joyce, was found on the property. He was charged with second-degree burglary, second-degree criminal trespass, criminal mischief, criminal attempt at sixth-degree larceny, and possession of burglary tools. 

Police do not believe anyone else was involved and it appeared that nothing was actually stolen.

50 Cent was not home at the time.

Joyce was held on a $100,000 bond, police said.

The 50,000-square foot home sits on a 17-acre property and boasts 25 bathrooms, an indoor pool and hot tub, a nightclub, several game rooms and a full gym, a recording studio, a home theater, a pool, a grotto, a basketball court, guesthouses and an approved helicopter landing.

50 Cent, whose real name is Curtis James Jackson III, bought the home from boxer Mike Tyson for $4.1 million in 2003.

The rapper filed put the house on the market after filing for bankruptcy in 2015, but the home never sold, and the bankruptcy case was discharged earlier this year. 

Photo Credit: Farmington Police Department
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Murder Suspect Wanted in Connecticut Arrested in Florida


A man wanted for murder charges after a fatal shooting in Hartford last November has been arrested in Florida.

Headley Thomas, 28, was wanted on an active arrest warrant after shooting Jamie Rivera to death on Maple Avenue near Bond Street on Nov. 25. 

Hartford police said Rivera, 27, was sitting in his car when he was shot, found in the front yard of a home on Bond Street, transported to Hartford Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 11:34 a.m. that day.

In December, a warrant for Thomas was secured, however, several attempts to locate the suspect were unsuccessful. Hartford police said they learned that Thomas may have fled to St. Petersburg, Florida. 

At 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Thomas was arrested by Tampa Florida officials in St. Petersburg.

Thomas is currently being held as a fugitive from justice in Florida and will be extradited to Connecticut.

Photo Credit: Hartford Police Department
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