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Texting Driver Slammed Head-On Into Truck: Police


New Jersey police say a driver was texting when he slammed head-on into a tractor-trailer, sending the car's engine flying and spillng fuel all over the road.

South Brunswick Police said it's a miracle no one was seriously injured in Monday's crash, calling the accident "entirely preventable."

Pava Dama, 33, was texting while driving a 2007-Volkswagen Jetta when he crossed over the center lane and collided with a 2008 Freightliner, police said.

The force of the crash ruptured the truck’s fuel tank, spilling diesel fuel all over the roadway, authorities said. The Jetta’s engine was ripped out of the car and landed 20 feet away.

Witnesses said they saw the Jetta swerve all over the road just prior to the crash.

"I am not sure what was so critical in a text message that would allow you to take your eyes off the road and hit a tractor trailer head on,” New Brunswick Police Chief Raymond Hayducka said.

Dama was ticketed for careless driving, failure to maintain the lane, crossing a double yellow line and using a cellphone while driving, police say.

Photo Credit: South Brunswick Police

Man Used Dead Person’s ID to Charge $100K at Jewelry Stores


Connecticut police have arrested a man accused of using a dead person’s credit card and identification to purchase more than $100,000 worth of jewelry from stores around the state.

Wallingford police began investigating on May 16 after receiving reports of several transactions made at local jewelry stores using a deceased person's credit card.  According to police, the man making the purchases was also using a fake identification card in the name of the dead person.

A Wallingford police officer was on patrol Monday when he saw a man who matched surveillance photos and descriptions of the suspect.  The man gave the officer a false name and police said upon further investigation, the dead person's credit card and a fraudulent identification card were found in his wallet.

Police identified him as 29-year-old Anthony Ranko through his fingerprints during the booking process. Ranko, who police said "appeared to be a transient," had several aliases including Anthony Spencer and Rocky Franco. 

The states of Louisiana and Texas have warrants for his arrest on similar charges, police said. Both states have expressed an interest in his extradition to face those him. 

Ranko was charged with credit card fraud, forgery and criminal impersonation charges. He was also charged as a fugitive from justice and was held on $325,000 bond pending arraignment Tuesday.

He is expected in Meriden Superior Court on June 5.

Anyone with information on Ranko can contact Detective Fairbrother of the Wallingford Police Department at 203-294-2845.

Photo Credit: Wallingford Police

Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Men Shot at Meek Mill Concert


A lawsuit filed on behalf of two men who were shot at a Meek Mill Concert at the Toyota Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford in December alleges that the show’s organizers and promoters did not do enough to ensure concert-goers' safety at a show with a performer known for lyrics with violence imagery and whose shows had been the scene of violence in the past.

On December 30, 2016, four people, including 31-year-old Travis Ward of New Haven and 25-year-old Nathan Mitchell of Hartford, were shot outside the Oakdale Theatre after a Meek Mill concert.

Ward and 20-year-old Jaquan Graves of New Haven were killed in the shooting. Mitchell is still recovering from his injuries, according to his attorney.

The Faxon Law Group has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Ward and Mitchell. Their attorneys argue that Meek Mill, whose real name Is Robert Rihmeek Williams, is known for public feuds and an affinity for gun violence, and that the defendants, which include the Oakdale, Live Nation and Roc Nation, LLC, should have taken extra security measures to protect those attending the show.

The civil summons also lists Michael J. Willcox, also known as Big Mike the Ruler, who works as a concert promoter, The Big Boy Game, LLC, the company where Willcox is a managing member, and Meek Mill as defendants.

The lawsuit argues that the defendants had a duty to exercise reasonable care to protect concert-goers, and failed to hire adequate security staff or take reasonable measures to protect attendees even when disruptive behavior began. The suit claims that the Oakdale “allowed thugs to remain on the defendants premises, after exhibiting disorderly, disruptive, argumentative, angry and/or agitated behavior toward patrons.”

The lawsuit also states that concert organizers should have been prepared for possible violence based off some of Meek Mill’s lyrics and past incidents at Meek Mill concerts in Wilmington, Delaware and one in Danbury.

"The venue security was grossly understaffed and ill-equipped to deal with the hazardous environment presented by any Meek Mill concert," wrote attorney Joel Faxon in a statement. "A strong police presence was required. After this incident The Oakdale beefed up the security substantially, but it was too late for Mr. Ward and Mr. Mitchell. They were innocent concert-goers who ended up in a war zone.”

The lawsuit charges the defendants with misconduct and negligence.

NBC Connecticut has reached out to the Oakdale Theatre and Live Nation for comment.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut/Family Photo

'Scared to Die': Boy's Heartbreaking Plea to End Gun Violence


A 6-year-old boy’s powerful message on gun violence has resonated with thousands across the country.

Young Jeffrey Laney is afraid for his life and of his loved ones because of gun violence in St. Louis. In a video posted by his mother on Facebook, Jeffrey pleas for "people to stop killing each other."

“My Son has A message for St Louis before bed,” the post read. “Our kids are tired!! Wake up people…”

In the video, Jeffrey says he's "scared to die" and that he "doesn't want nothing to happen to my family.”

Jeffrey’s mother, Leanndra Cheatham, lost a relative to an act of gun violence, the boy says in the footage.

“I’m a kid. And I’m not supposed to be knowing all this stuff,” he says. “I’m not supposed to be knowing about all these guns. I know about all bad stuff I shouldn’t know about. I’m supposed to be learning about school.”

By Tuesday morning, the video had been viewed more than 128,00 times.

His mother wrote Jeffrey had her “in tears” during his speech.

Cheatham, a 28-year-old who works at the St. Louis Justice Center, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that she reminds her son “every day that that is the one place he don’t want to be and there are a lot of bad people out there.”

She wrote on Facebook Saturday that what her son said in the video has been keeping her up at night.

“I work everyday and take care of pops,” she wrote. “I can’t do nothing but look at him and hurt because he feels that way!! God he is supposed to be enjoying this stage.”

Photo Credit: LeeLee Cheatham
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Crews Respond to 2-Alarm Fire in Ansonia


Firefighters are battling a two-alarm house fire on Hubbell Avenue in Ansonia Tuesday morning.

Heavy smoke could be seen pouring from the roof and windows of the house. Firefighters have been ordered out of the home for their safety.

Ansonia and Derby firefighters both responded to the scene.

More information was not immediately available. NBC Connecticut will provide updates as they come into the newsroom.

Local Authorities Monitoring Situation After Concert Bombing


Local officials are reacting to the deadly explosion in Manchester, England, and authorities said they are monitoring the situation and stepping up security if needed.

At least 22 people, including children, were killed and more than 50 were injured in a suspected suicide bombing at Manchester Arena at the end of an Ariana Grande concert Monday night, according to British police. 

Hartford Police Deputy Chief Brian Foley said that safe, secure events are a top priority for their department.

“It's something we would look at. We are constantly reassessing our mass crowd events in an effort to not be a soft target. I'm certain there will be lessons learned out of the U.K. We'll watch and learn. But, nothing should stop our focus - 'If you see something, say something,’” Foley wrote in a statement Monday night.

Police said counterintelligence staff are monitoring the situation abroad and are constantly reevaluating safety plans for large events. 

A spokesman the XL Center in Hartford said they are monitoring the situation and will plan accordingly. No large events are scheduled until July.

Senator Richard Blumethal tweeted that his "thoughts and prayers" were with the victims Monday night.

In New York City, officials said while there are no specific threats they are stepping up patrols in popular areas that may be considered targets for attackers. People can expect to see more counter-terrorism officers in places like Madison Square Garden, Time Square, and Yankee Stadium.

To our north in Boston, police said they are closely monitoring the news and stepping up security at concert venues across the city. There are no known threats at this time.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
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State Police Investigating ‘Small Explosion’ in Lab at Somers High


One student suffered a minor injury in what police called a “small explosion” in the chemistry lab at Somers High School and police said it does not appear to be criminal. 

The incident was reported at 12:55 p.m., the school was evacuated and the superintendent said the students remain outside as the building is ventilated.

School dismisses at 2:15 p.m.

Troopers are investigating.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Police Investigate Death of Victim Found at Cemetery in New London


A person was found dead behind a storage facility at Cedar Grove Cemetery in New London Tuesday morning and police are investigating the case as an untimely death. 

Dispatchers took a 911 call around 8:30 a.m. reporting that someone was found dead behind the storage facility at the back end of the property. 

New London police officers and firefighters responded and Lawrence and Memorial Hospital paramedics pronounced the victim, a male, dead. 

The state's attorney's office, as well as the office of the medical examiner, were also notified, according to police. 

Police are asking anyone with information about the case to call the New London Police Investigative Division at 860-447-1481.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

2 Dogs Attacked By Coyote in Wallingford


One dog is dead and another is missing after a coyote attack in Wallingford on Monday night. 

Officials said two small dogs were in the backyard of a home on Dogwood Lane when they were attacked, according to Wallingford Animal Control. 

A coyote took one dog, which is missing, and the other pet died from injuries sustained in the attack. 

In Connecticut, unsupervised pets, particularly outdoor cats and small dogs that weigh less than 25 pounds are vulnerable to coyote attacks, according to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Photo Credit: Submitted

Watch: Did Melania Dodge Trump’s Hand Again?


The swat heard 'round the world appears to have a sequel. 

A day after Melania Trump appeared to rebuff the president's hand as the couple walked down the red carpet on the tarmac at Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport, the first lady appears to have done it again (watch it above).

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This time, it was in Rome. The president and his wife had just landed in Italy Tuesday ahead of Wednesday's planned visit with Pope Francis. They waved to those who arrived to greet them and Donald Trump reached for Melania Trump's hand as the couple prepared to walk down the stairs from Air Force One.

For the second time in 24 hours, the first lady appears to brush off her husband's hand, effortlessly reaching to brush a stray hair from her eye as she starts to walk down the stairs by herself. It wasn't clear if Melania Trump saw the gesture. The president, not seeming flustered by the move, places a hand on her back to support her. 

A CNN digital editor tweeted a GIF of the Rome hand "swat" captioned, "When in Rome," shortly after 12:30 p.m. It was retweeted more than 60 times and liked more than 70 times in about 20 minutes. 

The video of the rebuff in Israel, posted to Twitter by user @raggapegs, has garnered more than 11,000 retweets and 17,000 favorites since it was posted around 6:15 a.m. Monday. In that video, the couple strolls along as hundreds watch when the first lady, donning a crisp white skirt and jacket, seems to flick away the president's hand as he tried to grip hers in his own. 

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Some speculated Donald Trump only reached for his wife's hand after he noticed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was holding hands with his wife as the two couples walked down the red carpet together. Others suggested Donald Trump simply withdrew his hand before his wife could take it. 

A later photo of the Trumps departing Israel for the Vatican showed the first couple holding hands. 

The White House and representatives for Melania Trump haven't commented on the matter.

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Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York

Missing Man Found Dead in Wallingford: Police


The body of a 30-year-old man was found after a 12-hour search of the Tyler Mill Preserve in Wallingford and police said the cause of death appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. 

Police were searching for Luc John Pentz-Tholennar, who had last been seen Sunday. The last time anyone heard from him was around 12:30 p.m. Monday, when he sent a business-related email. 

Pentz-Tholennar's car was found at the Tyler Mill Preserve, which is a 1,000-acre area with bike trails, streams, woods, rivers and open fields.

Police attempted to track Pentz-Tholennar's phone and the last ping came from the preserve area, but the device was out of power or had been turned off.

Police said the found the body around 12:30 p.m.

In the hours before authorities found Pentz-Tholennar, friends said he lived in the area and was the "outdoorsy" type, a big trail runner, hiker and biker.

"We're very worried. This is very unlike him," his friend, Victoria Pelka, said. "He's never done anything like this before, so we're just concerned about finding him and making sure he's OK at this point."

Pelka said Pentz-Tholennar went to Choate & Quinnipiac, rowed at Riverfront Recapture in Hartford and was passionate about the community garden in Wallingford.

“The community garden in Wallingford was actually going to be shut down. He saved it and brought it back to life and has kept it growing,” Pelka said. "He’s an amazing person. He’s a huge believer in community. He runs the community garden, he’s a great athlete, a fantastic friend. Everybody who knows him loves him.”

Police ID Three People Killed in Manchester Crash


Police have identified the three people who were killed in a fiery crash on Center Street in Manchester early Saturday morning, but have not released the name of the driver or front seat passenger.

Seventeen-year-old Devon Smith, 18-year-old William King, and 21-year-old Bernaria Mickens, all of Manchester, were killed in the crash. 
Police said they are not releasing the names of the driver or front-seat passenger because they are under 18 and the investigation is pending. Both are expected to survive.

Seventeen-year-old Devon Smith, 18-year-old William King, and 21-year-old Bernaria Mickens, all of Manchester, were killed in the crash. 

Police said they are not releasing the names of the driver or front-seat passenger because they are under 18 and the investigation is pending. Both were taken to Connecticut Children's Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries and are expected to survive.

The car they were in hit a utility pole in front of R&R Plumbing at 600 Center St. and burst into flames around 1:20 a.m., according to Manchester police. 

Smith, King and Mickens were in the back seat. 

Manchester Public School Superintendent Matthew Geary sent a letter to families identifying one of the deceased victims as a current student, and the other two as former students of the district.

Evan Blaschik, a Manchester High School senior who knew one of the victims, said he expected a lot of people to be affected by the news.

“It’s just crazy that one day you like see them walking through the hallways and then you hear about this the next day,” he said.

“A senior feels like they’re invincible but we’re not.”

Justin Miller, also a senior, said that those involved were well-liked by classmates.

“Make sure you say I love you to all the people you love and all that because you never know the last time you’re going to see them,” he said.

Police said they are looking at speed as a possible factor in the crash.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Senate Committee to Subpoena 2 of Flynn's Businesses


The Senate intelligence committee says it will subpoena two of former national security adviser Michael Flynn's businesses.

The committee has already subpoenaed Flynn for documents regarding his contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign. Flynn has refused to hand over that information.

The committee also sent a letter to Flynn's attorney Tuesday questioning the legal basis of Flynn's decision to invoke his Fifth Amendment right over a request for documents rather than testimony.

Committee Chairman Richard Burr says senators will wait for Flynn's response to Tuesday's requests before they decide the next course of action, including the possibility of a contempt of Congress citation. 

The committee is investigating Russia's campaign meddling and possible ties to President Donald Trump's associates.

Photo Credit: The Washington Post/Getty Images

How to Talk to Children After Ariana Grande Concert Explosion


After a suicide bomber killed nearly two dozen people and injured even more at an Ariana Grande concert in England on Monday night, child psychologists are encouraging parents to talk to their children. 

Dr. Laura Saunders, a psychologist at the institute of living for the Hartford Hospital, said it is important to provide assurance to a child.

Saunders encourages telling children that investigators are doing everything they can to keep them safe, but warns to not make any promises. 

"You just answer each question, but without using a lot of emotional rhetoric," Saunders said. "Not saying things like, 'I’ll never let you go anywhere', 'this could happen next at your school', 'this could happen next at your movie theater' – not to give that emotional rhetoric because all that does is scare children."

In a time when children and teens can get information quickly through social media, Saunders said it’s fine for them to be informed, but repetition of viewing photos and scenes of tragedies such as the one is Manchester, England, should be limited.

"It’s really being aware of what your kids are doing and monitoring them to the best of your ability," Saunders said.

Moving forward, Saunders suggests creating a plan for when families go somewhere with their children in an effort to limit hysteria. She suggests knowing exit points and having a meeting place in case they get disconnected.

If the child is on their own, for example at a concert, they can also follow what’s called The X plan, which has become largely popular on social media.

"(If) they’re in an uncomfortable situation, they text you ‘x’ and you call them and say, ‘I’m coming to get you’ and you pick them up and you don’t ask any questions," Saunders said. "It creates an exit strategy that they’re willing to use because they're not going to be punished or chastised."

Saunders said if your child asks about what happened and parents sweep it under the rug saying nothing happened, then they lose credibility. She said it's important to be truthful and to give a child the basic information.

Photo Credit: AP

Accident Reported on I-91 South in North Haven


An accident has been reported on Interstate 91 south in North Haven, state police said.

Traffic appears to be moving slowly on the southbound side of I-91 in the area of exit 9. 

No other information was immediately available. 

Photo Credit: CT DOT

May: UK Threat Level Raised to Critical


Prime Minister Theresa May announced the United Kingdom's threat level has been raised from severe to critical, its highest level, on Tuesday, May 23, 2017, a day after a suicide bombing in Manchester left 22 dead and 59 wounded.

Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Fails to Propel


Watertown homeowner Bill Nardozzi had two requirements when buying his new lawn mowers: they needed to be self-propelled and sold locally. 

His first step was going to Little River Power Equipment in Oxford.

"They were the only local dealer that would handle Honda," Nardozzi said.

Nardozzi gave one lawn mower to his daughter, but said the self-propelled mechanism on the other one he bought didn’t work from day one. For the first week, he said, he had to push it over his hilly yard himself.

"It’s only eight days old," Nardozzi said. "It’s not like you've used it several times."

In fact, it was the self-propelled feature Nardozzi paid $722 for each mower.

With that in mind, Nardozzi brought his concerns and the mower back to Little River. The owner offered to replace the transmission, as covered under warranty, but since it was brand new, that didn’t sit well with Nardozzi.

He asked both Little River and his manufacturer if he had any other options.

"Honda says it’s up to the retailer," Nardozzi said. "The retailer says Honda just goes by their warranty. They stick you in the middle. Unless you stand up for yourself, you’re not going to get the right solution to your problem."

The right solution for Nardozzi involved either a full refund or a new mower.

"Neither of those things happened, so we reached out to (NBC Connecticut Responds),” Nardozzi said.

One week later, Little River’s owner called Nardozzi and offered the same, brand new, self-propelled mower and some peace of mind.

"We need a voice," Nardozzi said. “And (NBC Connecticut Responds) gave us that voice and we’re so thankful.”

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Newborn Baby Found Behind Danbury Grocery Store


A newborn baby has been found behind a grocery store in Danbury. 

Danbury Police received a call that a baby had been found near a grocery store on Main Street on Sunday around 11:38 pm.

Responding officers were directed by the caller to the back of the Zaytuna Grocery Store on 397 Main Street and located the newborn baby wrapped in several pieces of women's clothing, the city said. 

The baby boy was checked by medical personnel called to the scene before being admitted to the Neo Natal Care Unit at Danbury Hospital. 

Police are investigating and attemping to locate the boy's mother to determine that she is safe and unharmed.

"The Danbury Police Department is concerned that the newborn baby boy's mother may need medical treatment or may require other services," the city said in a statement.

Anyone with information on the newborn or his mother are urged to call police at (203) 797-4662 or (203) 790-TIPS. 

Connecticut's Safe Haven Act for Newborns indicates that a parent of an infant that is 30 days or younger can bring their baby to the nursing staff of an emergency room. For more information on the state's safe haven laws, click here

Trump to Retain Private Attorney in Russia Probes


President Donald Trump is expected to retain Marc Kasowitz as his private attorney on matters related to the Russia investigation, sources told NBC News.

Kasowitz has represented Trump a number of times in the past and has a long relationship with the president, Business Insider reported.

He is a partner at Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman in New York and has represented Trump in numerous cases, including on his divorce records, real estate transactions and allegations of fraud at Trump University, The Washington Post reported.

He also has represented the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the New York Jets.

Meanwhile, former Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a Democrat, joined Kasowitz' law firm in 2013 — and Lieberman is under consideration by Trump to replace Comey as FBI director.

Photo Credit: Evan Vucci/AP (File)

Donald Trump’s Budget Breaks These 7 Campaign Promises


The White House took pains to insist that the 2018 budget blueprint is keeping campaign promises, NBC News reported.

Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said that the president is making good on his vow to save government programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. 

However, the budget outlines deep cuts to many aspects of the American safety net that suggest Mulvaney made a false assessment of the blueprint.

NBC News found seven campaign promises that the preliminary budget would break to Trump voters and supporters.

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