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Person Hit and Killed By Amtrak Train in Branford


A man was hit and killed by a train in Branford on Tuesday afternoon.

The victim was struck by an Amtrak Acela Express train just after 2 p.m., according to an Amtrak spokesperson.

The incident happened near Bridge Street and North Harbor Street, according to Branford police.

The train was travelling from Boston to New York with 171 passengers on board, according to Amtrak.  No one on the train was injured.

The Acela train was held at the scene as police investigated the incident, but was eventually allowed to continue on to New York.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

DEEP Issues Air Quality Warning for Wednesday and Thursday


The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is warning that there will be poor air quality for some groups in parts of Connecticut Wednesday and Thursday.

There will be elevated levels of ozone across the state, leading to unhealthy air quality for sensitive groups, such as children or asthma and other respiratory disease sufferers. Experts say elevated ozone level exposure can cause breathing problems and increase the chance of respiratory infection.

Sensitive groups should limit outdoor activities as much as possible. Peak ozone levels are expected between 2 to 8 p.m. and DEEP recommends any exertion like exercise or yard work to be done outside that timeframe.

The unhealthy air will be caused by a combination of sunny skies and a steady southwest wind that is expected Wednesday into Thursday, which will bring air pollution along the Interstate 95 corridor across the state.

The NBC Connecticut meteorologists are forecasting record-breaking warmth in the coming days.

To help reduce the air pollution, DEEP suggests being as energy efficient as possible by conserving electricity and following the “Wait ‘til 8” method for large appliances like washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers. Experts also encourage driving as little as possible and considering carpooling or public transit to get around.

DEEP tracks air quality and pollution across Connecticut for ozone from May 1 through September 30 every year. This week will be the first unhealthy air day for the 2017 season. 

Photo Credit: Department of Energy and Environmental Protection

Vernon Police Increase Patrols After Daytime Car Burglaries


Broken pieces of glass covering the inside of a car and valuables stolen. That's what Cathy Tempelman found when she came back from her walk at the Belding Wildlife Management area off of Reservoir Road in Vernon.

"It's very scary. You wouldn't think it would happen here. It's very peaceful, and a lot of people like to hike here. I've hiked here a lot," said Tempelman.

Vernon police received a call just after noon on Tuesday about a crime in progress. When they arrived soon after, the thief had already taken off, leaving behind two burglarized cars with their windows smashed.

"The caller had come out of the woods and heard what sounded like glass breaking and saw what they thought was a male in a hoodie near one of the cars going into the vehicles," said Sgt. Todd Thiel.

After breaking the passenger-side window of Tempelman's car, police say the thief stole a purse left on the front seat. Tempelman says it's a relief that there wasn't much in the bag.

"They actually took my sister's purse, but she had her money and her belongings on her. So I don't think they got anything important," said Tempelman.

With the weather warming up, more and more cars will soon pack parking lots as people head for the trails, and police are reminding everyone to take precautions.

"Come out, enjoy the day, but just make sure you don't leave anything in plain sight. These were forced-entry burglaries, so just leaving it locked isn't necessarily going to be the safest thing to do. So if you can, leave [valuables] at home or leave it out of sight. That's the best thing," said Sgt. Thiel.

Vigilante Website Seeks to Expose Child Predators


A private citizen is trying to protect children online, and he’s taking unusual steps to do it.

NBC Connecticut spoke to the founder of a controversial vigilante site that helped tip off authorities about racy conversations a West Hartford man allegedly had with what he thought was a teenage girl.

Wearing a mask and only wanting to be called "Incognito" the man we met at a Bristol park said he posed as a young girl online led police to the arrest of 39-year-old Scott Backer.

According the arrest warrant, Backer thought he was chatting with 15-year-old girl, but he was actually talking to 29-year-old Incognito, who was pretending to be a young girl.

"There are risks that are involved," said POP Squad Founder "Incognito."

"I never contact them first. They always contact me first. I let them guide the whole conversation," said Incognito.

The arrest warrant states that Incognito posed as "Emily" on the social media app called Yik Yak.

The warrant details messages between Backer and “Emily” saying things like the following:

Backer - "I have to be careful"

Backer - "Too much to lose"

Emily - "like what?"

Backer - "Jail???!!!!"

In another conversation, “Emily” tells Backer that she is only 15.

Emily - "I'm really 15. I"ll be 16 in a couple months. Is that okay?"

Backer - "of course,"

"I let them know within the first five messages I am a minor. If they continue the conversation we move over to texting, we move over to a messaging app, and we set up a meet," said Incognito.

Officers say Backer's "meet" happened at a Walmart in Cromwell back in January. Incognito says he recorded the encounter with a chest-harnessed GoPro. Then posted the video on his website, POPSquadCC. POP stands for prey on predators.

Attorney Jim Bergenn says Incognito's methods are in fact legal.

"If he poses as a 15-year-old girl and people come to him, no entrapment," said Bergenn.

Police warned that Incognito's acts are dangerous.

"We have contingency plans put in place. We have safety plans put in place. We pick certain places so the public is not jeopardized," said West Hartford Police Sgt. Tony Anderle.

Incognito said one of his videos prompted an investigation into a Plainville High School teacher who has not been charged but ended up resigning.

Police told NBC Connecticut they discourage what Incognito does, but Incognito said he’ll continue doing it.

"There's a lot of guys out here who are creeping in the shadows," said Incognito.

Backer has been charged with use of computer to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity. He has bonded out on $150,000.

Police said parents are the first defense from online predators - and if they have concerns about their child, to contact authorities as soon as they can.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Comey Memo Claims Trump Urged Him to Drop Flynn Probe


Fired FBI Director James Comey wrote an internal memo saying President Donald Trump asked him to shut down an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, multiple sources with firsthand knowledge of the memo told NBC News on Tuesday.

The memo was part of a paper trail Comey built documenting what he believed to be Trump's campaign to derail the FBI's investigation of alleged Russian ties to his presidential campaign, according to a source close to Comey and a former federal law enforcement official.

The source close to Comey said the memo included a line in which Comey quoted Trump as having said, "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go."

The unclassified memo, which raises questions about obstruction of justice, was first reported by The New York Times.

"It certainly appears to meet the definition in the [obstruction] statute," Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, said Tuesday on MSNBC's "Hardball With Chris Matthews."

Photo Credit: Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images

Plan For Police Body Cameras In New Haven Moves Forward


Body cameras are a step closer to becoming part of the uniform for every police officer in New Haven.

On Tuesday, city leaders pushed the plan forward but they will have to act quickly in order to be reimbursed for the cost of the devices.

Officer Paul Finch showed the body cameras to the city's Public Safety Committee on Tuesday. He has been wearing the body cam on duty as part of a test run. Soon, the more than 450 officers on the force could be equipped with the cameras as well.

"It's going to pretty much show both sides of what's going on so it can help the public and it can help the officer as well," said Officer Finch, who has been on the New Haven police force for nine years.

The estimated cost for the cameras, additional equipment, data storage and licensing totals just over $650,000. The city must apply with the state Office of Policy and Management by June 30 for full reimbursement. On Tuesday, New Haven's Public Safety Committee pushed the plan to Board of Alders for approval.

“All change is uncomfortable, but it's really important as a protection for them as officers and as a protection for members of our community," said New Haven Mayor Toni Harp.

Police Chief Anthony Campbell said that body cameras can help in investigations and can help resolve potential disputes with the public.

“Everyone knows that when someone is watching, people are on their best behavior," Chief Campbell said. He added that a recent survey of officers in the department showed that 80 percent were in favor of body cameras. He hopes that the entire force will soon embrace the change.

The body camera issue will goes for initial approval from the Board of Alders on May 22. Chief Campbell said if all goes as planned, officers will be equipped with cameras as early as September.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

'There Was Nothing Casual' About Flynn Warning: Sally Yates


Fired acting attorney general Sally Yates said in an interview Tuesday night that "there was nothing casual" about the warnings she gave to the Trump administration about then-national security adviser Michael Flynn, NBC News reported.

Speaking to CNN's Anderson Cooper, Yates disputed White House press secretary Sean Spicer's description of her warning as a "heads up."

"I called [White House councel] Don McGahn and told him I had a very sensitive matter that I needed to discuss with him," Yates said. "He knew that this was serious and that it was important."

President Donald Trump also didn't characterize the warning as Yates did, saying in an NBC News interview that it didn't seem like the Flynn situation was an emergency.

Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, File

Police Investigating Burglary at Colchester Dunkin’ Donuts

SUV Sinks Into Beach as Man Tries to Take Photos of It


A man trying to take scenic photos of his SUV by the Jersey Shore ended up trying to dig the vehicle out after it started sinking into the water-logged sand, officials said.

State Park Police responded to a call Tuesday about a vehicle stuck at Island Beach State Park, about 15 miles southeast of Toms River, officials said. A tow company arrived around the same time to find the man at the surf line with his vehicle.

Video posted to Facebook shows the man using what appears to be a shovel as he tries to dig free the white Land Rover from the sand. At one point a wave crashes over the vehicle as he continues to dig. 

Officials said it was low tide when help arrived and the tow company was able to easily remove the SUV. 

The driver had a Mobile Sportfishing Vehicle permit, which allows him to operate a 4-wheel drive vehicle on fishing beaches. He was not issued a summons, officials said.

Witnesses said the man insisted on driving the vehicle away after it was towed, even though its lights were flashing and its engine was making strange sounds. 

Photo Credit: Megan and Christopher Gillich

Protesters, Supporters Gather Before Trump Visit


Protesters and supporters of President Donald Trump have gathered in New London in advance of the president's arrival for the Coast Guard Academy commencement and they are chanting opposing messages at each other.

Some people gathered are chanting "Build the Wall," in reference to the border wall Trump wants to build on the U.S.-Mexico border. While others complained the the Trump administration has been anti-immigrant.

The demonstrations began around 8 a.m., when the Unify and Resist Coalition gathered for a protest at the Soldiers and Sailors monument.

“I am very concerned that Mr. Trump is going to ruin our Constitution and really the simple fabric of our country, so it’s an opportunity to honor the grads today who have worked their whatevers off and say that they deserve a better leader,” a woman from New London said.

“I just think he needs to go away. He’s scary to me,” a protester from Hampton said, adding that she is concerned about climate change and fears war. “I hope that humans survive his administration.”

The protest included a march to McKinley Park and Trump supporters have gathered, standing across from the protesters. 

One Trump supporter said Trump is the first person he ever voted for in a presidential race and if he had a nickel for every story about Trump that was supposed to end his administration, he would be rich. 

Another supporter said she thinks Trump is for the people. 

Before the presidential visit, representatives from the City of New London met with the Secret Service on security plans and New Haven police will have dozens of officers on duty.

The Raging Grannies, of Greater Westerly Rhode Island, participated in the protest and people who support them also attended the protest.

“It’s not so much of a protest. If the president fails, we all fail,” the husband of one member of the Raging Grannies said, adding that he supports health care, regulations on the environment and a transparent government.

“I’d rather be for something than against something,” he said.

Aside from the politics, business owners are excited about the presidential visit, including the Hilton Garden Inn in Groton, which is almost completely booked.

“Just about. Only a few rooms left,” Krystal Livingston, the director of sales, said Tuesday.

Angela Kanabis, the owner and manager of Red 36 in Mystic, is anticipating big crowds at her waterfront restaurant and will have the full Summer staff on hand.

“Obviously with this gorgeous weather, too, I think it’s going to be very busy,” she said.

This is Trump’s second commencement address and his first visit to Connecticut since being elected.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Parking Restrictions in Place for President Trump's Visit


Several parking restrictions are in place in advance of President Donald Trump’s first presidential trip to Connecticut to deliver the commencement address at the Coast Guard Academy.

The motorcade will temporarily shut down part of Interstate 95 and Route 32, by the Coast Guard Academy.

New London:

No parking is allowed on River Ridge Road, Deshon Street, Nameaug Avenue, Oneco Avenue, Farnsworth Street, Winchester Road and Uncas Avenue until police lift the restriction later today.

Members of the public will be allowed to assemble at:

McKinley Park at the corner of Williams Street and Crystal Avenue, the grass parcel on Williams Street just past the overpass (Williams and Briggs streets), and the grass parcel located across the street from the main gate of the USCGA (in front of the fence).

No masks/face-covering items of any sort may be worn, no signs utilizing sticks and/or posts, no backpacks and/or bags, no amplified noise device unless City of New London permit on file for said date/event or sticks/posts of any sort are permissible.


Parking will be restricted on Tower Avenue, High Rock Road, and Poquonnock Road west of Trails Corner.

Bluff Point State Park and Coastal Reserve in Groton will be closed until mid-afternoon in connection with President Donald Trump’s visit to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

UConn Seeks Private Developer to Build Hotel Near Campus


The University of Connecticut is looking for a private developer to build a hotel on university-owned property near Storrs Center.

UConn published a “Request for Expressions of Interest” (RFEI) asking for proposals. The school is hoping to find a developer to build a hotel with about 100 rooms at the corner of Route 195 and South Eagleville Road, the current site of the Mansfield Apartments.

The RFEI states that UConn would plan to lease out the property to the developer, and that the hotel would operate as a privately-owned facility unaffiliated with the school.

The Mansfield Apartments, which were built in the 1950s, are currently student housing. The current plan is to stop offering the apartments as a housing option ahead of the fall 2018 semester, and demolishing the building to make way for new construction.

UConn officials said a hotel at the location would be a benefit to the university and the community, and boost the current development at nearby Storrs Center.

“Every university of our size and every downtown like the one we have in Storrs should have access to a good hotel,” said Scott Jordan, UConn’s executive vice president for administration and chief financial officer, in a press release.

UConn currently owns the Nathan Hale Inn, which opened in 2001 and was purchased by the school in 2015. About half the rooms in the hotel are used as student housing, and the remainder operate as a hotel. With a new hotel constructed, the school would convert the entire hotel to housing.

The university is open to proposals to develop the entire site, or just to build the hotel. If a developer only wants to build the hotel, the school will look for other developers to fill the remainder of the site.

For more information on the plans, click here. http://today.uconn.edu/2017/05/uconn-inviting-hotel-proposals-private-sector/

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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Hamden Man Killed in New Haven Motorcycle Crash


A 36-year-old Hamden man was killed in a motorcycle accident in New Haven Tuesday, according to New Haven police.

Police said that Jermaine Witherspoon was riding a motorcycle when he was involved in a crash with an SUV at the intersection of Judson Avenue and Mead Street. The crash happened around 7:52 p.m.

Witherspoon was rushed to the hospital where he died of his injuries.

Police said the driver of the SUV, whose name has not been released, remained on scene and is cooperating with police.

The crash remains under investigation.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Dow Plunges as Trump Worries Rattle Wall Street


U.S. stocks fell sharply Wednesday morning as investors digested the latest news out of Washington, with the Dow Jones trading more than 260 points lower and Goldman Sachs contributing the most losses, CNBC reported.

The broader S&P 500 and Nasdaq also lagged. The three indexes were on track to post their worst day of the year. Stocks had rallied all year in part because of hope for lower corporate taxes. 

But "an impeachment proceeding would blow the market away," former General Electric CEO Jack Welch told CNBC.

The VIX index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, jumped around 20 percent Wednesday, lifting it to its highest level since April 21.

Photo Credit: AP

New Britain Man Injured in Hartford Shooting


A 36-year-old New Britain man was injured in a shooting in Hartford early Wednesday.

Police said that around 12:38 a.m. officers responded to the intersection of Park Street and Broad Street for a report of shots fired. When they arrived they found a victim, later identified as Angel Mangual, suffering a gunshot wound to the left arm. The bullet went through the arm into the chest, but the injury was not life threatening, police said.

Mangual was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Investigators discovered two scenes, one at 886 Broad Street and a second at 590 Park Street. The Major Crimes Division is investigationg. There is no suspect at this time.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Family Awarded $6.4M in Suit Over Wrongful Death of Biker


The family of a man who was struck and killed by a van while riding his bike in East Haven in 2012 has been awarded $6.4 million in a wrongful death case.

Police said 51-year-old Jeffrey Harrison was riding his bike on Coe Avenue in East Haven in July 2012 when he was hit by a minivan driven by Cheryle Tyson, 52, of Milford. Harrison was revived at the scene, but suffered critical injuries and was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital, where he died, according to officials. He left behind a wife and a 13-year-old daughter.

The van was from Sarah Inc., a Guilford-based organization for children and adults with disabilities. It was carrying two people in addition to Tyson when it stuck the bicyclist, flipped over and hit a utility pole.

Tyson and the passengers were taken to Yale-New Haven and St. Raphael's hospitals with serious but not life-threatening injuries, according to police.

Tyson was ultimately charged with negligent homicide and plead guilty to the charges.

In 2014 Harrison's wife Marion filed a wrongful death lawsuit in New Haven Superior Court.

According to a press release from the family’s attorney at Faxon Law Group, a jury ruled in favor of the family, awarding the family $6.4 million in damages.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Police Seek Witness Photos from Bridgeport Police Shooting


Connecticut State Police are reaching out to the public for help with an investigation into a fatal officer-involved shooting in Bridgeport.

On May 9, around 5 p.m., 15-year-old Jayson Negron was shot and killed by Bridgeport police officer James Boulay following a pursuit that ended at Park Avenue and Fairfield Avenue in Bridgeport. Police said that the incident began because Negron was driving a stolen vehicle.

Negron’s passenger, 21-year-old Julian Fyffe, was also injured in the shooting.

Boulay is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into the incident.

While state police and a state’s attorney in Waterbury will make the ultimate determination whether Boulay’s use of force was justified, Bridgeport Police Chief AJ Perez said based on preliminary information the officer acted in accordance with the law and department procedures.

Connecticut State Police were called in to investigate, and on Wednesday they put a call out for any witnesses who may be able to provide testimony or photos and video of the incident.

Anyone with information is asked to contact state police detectives at 203-696-2569 or text “TIP711” with information to 274637. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Southington Students' Texts at Center of Investigation


An investigation is underway into students at both middle schools in Southington sending inappropriate text messages through social media, according to police.

Authorities said there is an active and ongoing investigation and it involves juveniles.

The two middle schools are Joseph A. DePaolo Middle School as well John F. Kennedy Middle School.

Police did not release any additional information about the investigation.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Turkish President's Bodyguards Suspected in Beating at Embassy


The men seen on video beating protesters outside the Turkish ambassador's residence in D.C. Tuesday are bodyguards for the country's president, senior U.S. officials tell NBC News.

Nine people were hurt and two arrests were made after an altercation broke out between two groups at the protest.

According to senior U.S. officials, the men seen beating the protesters were Erdogan's bodyguards and part of his official party.

A statement from the U.S. Department of State referred to crackdowns on free speech. 

"We are concerned by the violent incidents involving protesters and Turkish security personnel Tuesday evening," spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Wednesday afternoon in the statement. "Violence is never an appropriate response to free speech, and we support the rights of people everywhere to free expression and peaceful protest." 

"We are communicating our concern to the Turkish government in the strongest possible terms," the statement continued.

The executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America, Aran Hamparian, witnessed and recorded the incident.

"It was a pretty aggressive assault by people who were very well-prepared. I think they were security or bodyguards or part of that contingent that traveled with President Erdogan," Hamparian said.

Two men were arrested, including one who was charged with assaulting a police officer. The bodyguards were not among those arrested. 

D.C. police say they intend to pursue charges against other individuals involved. 

The incident came the same day that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with President Donald Trump at the White House.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser condemned what she called an "attack" at the ambassador's residence. 

“What we saw yesterday -- a violent attack on a peaceful demonstration -- is an affront to DC values and our rights as Americans. I strongly condemn these actions and have been briefed by Chief Newsham on our response," she said in a statement. "The Metropolitan Police Department will continue investigating the incident and will work with federal partners to ensure justice is served.” 

The diplomatic immunity that foreign leaders typically are afforded usually applies to their security details as well, John Jay College of Criminal Justice professor Joseph Giacalone told NBC News.

Samantha Power, President Barack Obama's ambassador to the United Nations, tweeted about the incident.

"Clearly Erdogan's guards feel complete impunity, drawing on tools of repression they use at home & knowing he has their back, no matter what," she said.

Photo Credit: Aran Hamparian/ Armenian National Committee of America

Person of Interest ID'd in KeyBank White Powder Incident


Coventry police have identified a person of interest in an incident at KeyBank where employees found a suspicious white powder in an envelope, police said Wednesday.

Police have not released the person’s name, but told NBC Connecticut they are applying for an arrest warrant.

On Saturday morning, a white powder and a note were found inside the deposit box of KeyBank at 3534 Main St. Police, firefighters and a hazmat team were called in and the four employees that were exposed to the powder had to be decontaminated. 

The powder was sent for testing and police are still waiting for the results.

“The substance is currently at the state lab by the health department facility where it’s being tested against a series of substances that have been identified by the CDC as hazardous substances and the test takes five days,” said Coventry Police chief Mark Palmer.

Palmer said some results have come through, and so far the results are negative for any hazardous substances. However, the Eastern Highlands Health District ordered the bank to close until the full results come in. If the results come back positive for anything hazardous, the building will have to be fully decontaminated before it can reopen.

Police said the incident was isolated and that there is no danger to the community.

KeyBank clients can complete banking transactions at the following nearby branches:

  • Storrs Branch, 596 Middle Turnpike, Storrs
  • Tolland Branch, 215 Merrow Road, Tolland
  • Columbia Branch, 164 Middletown Road, Columbia
  • Willington Branch, 11 Phelps Way, Willington

Customers can also bank online or by telephone: 1-800-Key2You® (1-800-539-2968).

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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