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US Coast Guard Offloads 18 Tons of Cocaine in San Diego


U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) crews offloaded about 18 tons of cocaine seized from across the eastern Pacific Ocean in San Diego Thursday.

Crews used interceptor boats to go after drug smugglers from different parts of south and central America for the past three months. Several suspects were taken into custody to face prosecution in the U.S.

"When they go out at night in rough seas in the dark, they don't know what they're going to face," said commanding officer of USCG Cutter Waesche Capt. James Passarelli. "And despite those fears, despite those challenges, despite the dangers, the crew will take that on."

Crews had mostly finished off-loading an estimated 36,000 pounds of cocaine, valued at more than half a billion dollars, Thursday morning from the Cutter Waesche.

One member of the U.S. Coast Guard, Danielle Sanchez, said this was her first deployment and she was glad to make a difference, she told NBC 7.

"I think it's awesome to see all these drugs, and actually see all the drug smugglers," said Sanchez. "We are the first people on scene with the law enforcement. It's amazing -- I never thought I'd be able to do this."

The Waesche worked along with seven other cutters to make more than 17 drug seizures from March to June 2017, usually in dark, rough waters. The cutters include crews from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Waesche, Hamilton, Mohawk, Dependable, Valiant, Active, Campbell and Confidence.

The load of cocaine was seized from 15 interceptions of suspected drug smuggling vessels, known as pangas, along with three cases of seized bales of cocaine dumped by suspected smugglers, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

"Our nation faces significant threats posed by transnational organized crime networks that spread violence and instability throughout the Western Hemisphere," said Capt. Passarelli in a statement. "The crew of Waesche meets those threats head on as far from the U.S. border as possible."

Last year, USCG crews seized more than a record 400,000 pounds of cocaine. They are currently on track to pass that record again this year.

Photo Credit: U.S. Coast Guard

Young Immigrants Fear Crackdown as DACA Hits 5th Anniversary


As the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created by the Obama administration turns five years old, young undocumented immigrants are waiting in fear of the day President Donald Trump follows through on his campaign promise to end their protected status which allows them to work and stay in the U.S.

"I don’t think I ever felt 100 percent secure with DACA," said recent college graduate Renata Borges Teodoro. "DACA has definitely changed my life a lot of different ways for the better, but DACA is only a temporary fix and it’s scary because we’ve known it’s something that can be taken away."

While many DACA recipients are college graduates and business owners, the federal government made no headway on proposals to let them and many more immigrants without legal status move toward legal residence and citizenship.

Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Police Investigating After Teen Approached Girl in Woods: PD


Detectives from Eastern District Major Crime have responded to Pease Brook-Wildlife Management Area in Lebanon to investigate a report of a teenage boy approaching a girl in the woods.

Police called the incident a suspicious, but have not released much additional information.

NBC Connecticut crews saw several state police cruisers and EnCon police from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection at the hunting area, which includes 213 acres of fields.

No additional information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Sandy Hook Deniers 'Living in World Without Truthfulness'': Malloy


Governor Dannel Malloy doesn’t want to give any attention to those who refuse to believe the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was real.

The governor said in a society with 24 hour news and instant access to social media, every opinion carries some level of weight, which he doesn’t like.

"We live in a world where having an opinion, even one that you know is not true, brings to you some attention, some light," Malloy told NBC Connecticut. "I think in many ways I think we live in a knowledge and truthfulness corrupted world where knowledge and truthfulness are not what’s required to get your fifteen minutes of fame."

The comments come just days before an interview between NBC News’ Megyn Kelly and "InfoWars" Founder and Host Alex Jones will air. Jones has embraced conspiracy theories including that the tragedy and Sandy Hook and the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 were carried out by the government.

Malloy said the mass shooting in Newtown in December 2012 was unlike any other in American history because of the young victims.

"How lethal it was and how by and large babies, tiny children, and that has its impact on folks. It was senseless and it was committed by someone known in the community," Malloy said.

The governor said he wants the legacy of Sandy Hook to be that more common sense gun legislation leads to safer streets. Gun crime has been on the decline since 2013 when the Connecticut General Assembly approved new laws with restrictions on gun purchases, ammunition and mandates for background checks.

New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts adopted similar laws in the aftermath of Sandy Hook.

Even with that, the governor says there is still more work to do to keep people safe.

"The idea that you can still buy a gun at a gun show is an incredibly scary proposition," the governor said. "We now know that ISIS tells people that if they want to acquire a gun in America, go to a state that allows gun sales without background checks. I mean, how stupid do we have to be?"

As for the families that are living without their children, Malloy said they’ve become some of the strongest advocates for important causes and they deserve to be respected and listened to across the country.

"I think the families have been incredible, courageous and hardworking and supportive of one another for the most part and supportive of community for the most part and then some of these folks have just gone an extra distance to really advocate on behalf of children, on behalf of mental health issues and on behalf of making sure that sick and deranged people, or people with ill-intentions don’t get guns, so they have been marvelous and in many ways triumphant in at least their heroism," Malloy said. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Florida Governor to Lure Connecticut Businesses to His State


The governor of Florida will be coming to Connecticut next week to convince businesses to move its operations to his state.

“The business environment in Connecticut simply cannot compete with everything Florida has to offer. That is why I am leading an economic development mission to Connecticut to share this message firsthand with job creators and site selectors next week," Governor Rick Scott announced on Thursday.

The trip to Connecticut stems from an $85 million Florida Job Growth Grant, which is meant to attract businesses to set up shop in Florida. 

"Governor Malloy’s administration has been trying, and failing, to tackle a budget deficit with an overwhelming collection of increased taxes and fees. Their job growth rate continues to lag far behind Florida and the nation, and Connecticut has lost more adjusted gross income and people to Florida than any other state in the nation," Scott said.

Scott said Florida has "cut more than $6.7 billion in taxes, reduced 4,800 burdensome regulations."

This isn't the first time Scott has targeted businesses in Connecticut. In June 2015, the governor of Florida met with business owners in Connecticut that had previously threatened to leave the state because of proposed tax increases.

Malloy's office responded to Scott's announcement at luring Connecticut businesses to Florida:

"It's no wonder that Governor Scott would look to Connecticut and be envious of what we have here. We foster a high quality of life, schools that are among the best in the nation, an incredibly skilled and knowledgeable workforce, and we're home to some of the best employers in the world.

The truth is, no amount of money or effort will make up for the fact that Gov Scott is leading his state in the wrong direction. We are happy to host Mr Scott to show him a better way to serve his state, but if he's expecting anyone in Connecticut to buy what he's selling, he's better off saving his taxpayers the cost of the trip and staying home."

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Bristol Couple Ready to Replace Recalled Washing Machine


Samsung offered customers the option of in-home repair to reinforce the lid of washing machines after 2.8 million top loading washing machines were recalled in 2016.

Some customers said the fix didn't ease their concerns after reports of excessive vibrations causing lids to pop off. 

Maria Wollman, of Bristol, bought a new washing machine in February of 2016 because doesn’t plan to carry loads of laundry up and down stairs forever.

"My husband and I have an empty nest now. And our dream was to put everything on the main floor so we can stay and grow old in our home," Wollman said.

Wollman took advantage of a sale and bought a Samsung washer and dryer to go in her new laundry room. She stored the appliances in the garage, where they stayed indefinitely while the renovation was on hold.

Later that year in November, the company announced the recall and Maria’s husband called Samsung. An agent confirmed their washer was among the affected models.

Customers were given the option of an in-home repair or a pro-rated rebate to put toward the purchase of a new machine.

The Wollmans, who never took their washer out of the box, opted for the repair.

"There was something wrong with the lid, we were told and that there needed to be brackets. They failed to install some sort of brackets to keep the lid from popping off," Wollman said.

A technician installed the brackets and Wollman thought everything was fine, until she saw NBC’s follow-up report, which urged customers to use their repaired machines with caution.

Wollman decided she didn’t want to take the risk.

"I said I don't want this machine. I will not be installing it. But I'm not going to lose all our money. You know, it's never been used," she said.

Wollman reached out to Samsung’s call center, hoping to explain her situation.

"I didn't want somebody to just call and leave a message and say, you know, 'you're out of luck'," she said.

The agent promised Wollman someone would call her back. When that call didn’t come, Wollman called again and received the same response.

Then NBC Connecticut Responds reached out to Samsung.

A representative called Wollman and walked her through the process of disabling the washing machine, which included cutting the power cord. Wollman submitted the necessary photos and paperwork and a few weeks later, received a check for full value of the washer.

In a written statement to NBC Connecticut, a Samsung spokesperson said, “We are sorry for the inconvenience that Ms. Wollman experienced and worked with her to resolve the matter to her satisfaction. We are listening to and learning from every consumer’s experience in order to constantly improve our processes. Anyone with questions about the recall or an authorized service visit should contact us directly at 1-866-264-5636.”

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

90-Year-Old WWII Navy Veteran Gets High School Diploma


It’s high school graduation season across the state and it’s likely few graduates have been as waiting as long for the big day as William Tobin.

Tobin couldn’t believe the reaction he received during graduation rehearsal at Rockville High School in Vernon.

The 90-year-old is also thrilled he’s part of the class of 2017 and joining them for graduation on Thursday.

“The class took to him as one of their own. They love him. He’s a very charming gentleman and of course deserves all our respect,” Andrew Rockett, Rockville High School Principal, said.

Back in 1944, Tobin left high school early to serve in the Navy during World War II.

When he returned, he married, built a home and raised three kids.

But decades later on his bucket list was receiving his high school diploma.

The veteran couldn’t believe the response when he asked Rockville’s principal for help.

“’You got the diploma, guaranteed. You don’t have to worry about it.’ I said, ‘How about that history course.’ Tobin said. "You made history, you don’t need it."

While he met state rules for retired military members to receive a diploma, there was a catch: he’d have to pick it up on graduation day.

“That’s not too tough. I can go down in the morning, get the diploma and be out for lunch. No, no, no. Then he sprung it on me,” Tobin said.

“We invited him to participate in this ceremony. And he said, ‘Would that mean in cap and gown?’ And it was, yes,” Rockett said.

So now Tobin is ready and will receive the diploma he’s always wanted, surrounded by his family including his grandkids.

“Well I’m really excited about it,” Tobin said.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Unattended Tractor Trailer Rolls Into Parked Car in West Hartford


An unattended tractor trailer in a West Hartford shopping center rolled into a parked car on Thursday evening. 

West Hartford police responded to the scene at Corbins Corner around 7:30 p.m.

Witnesses and police said the tractor trailer truck was parked in the parking lot when the driver stepped out of it.

While the driver was out of the truck, it rolled across the parking lot into a parked vehicle.

Truck driver and vehicle owner both stayed at the scene.

No injuries were reported. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

New London Residents Fight Plans to Raise Taxes


Hundreds of New London residents signed petitions asking the city council to reconsider the budget for the City of New London and its board of education.

Those budgets total more than $90 million overall. It increases the tax rate by 9.39 percent, meaning a resident in a home assessed at $150,000 would have to pay an additional $570 a year, according to City Council President Anthony Nolan.

"It becomes unaffordable. You’re pushing people so they have to make a choice between basic necessities and their taxes. It just doesn’t make sense," said Daniel McSparran, a New London resident on the petitioning committee.

McSparran said the committee has about 640 signatures for the city budget petition and 603 for the board of education petition.

"This is by far the most incredibly responsive from the community, I’ve had people call me, email me, hit me on Facebook," McSparran said.

City Clerk Jonathan Ayala is combing through all of the signatures and needs to certify 340 per petition, which is 10 percent of the number of people who voted in the last municipal election, Ayala said.

If successful, Ayala said the petitions would be put on the next city council agenda. The council could either revise the budget, move it to a referendum vote at the next municipal election in November, or could vote to schedule a special election no sooner than 30 days after that vote.

Council President Nolan said he’s not surprised about the two petitions, but he said this year’s budget was challenging since there wasn’t a lot to cut.

“I do think that the (tax) increase is a little bit more than I wish to burden our residents on, but the majority of council decided to go forward with it,” Nolan said.

The city clerk received the petitions Wednesday. He said he has 10 days from then to figure out whether there’s a sufficient number of verified signatures.

Dog Dies in Waterbury Fire

Southington School Budget Cuts Middle School Sports


The Southington Board of Education reluctantly approved a school budget, which has drawn sharp criticism, especially for cutting middle school sports.

Board members seemed hopeful the budget would be looked at again later this year and potentially some cuts might be restored.

“We saw the writing on the wall that this is what was going to happen,” Ann Morgan, of Southington, said.

Even so dozens of parents and students showed up at the board meeting and some pleaded against a school budget that would slash middle school sports.

But school board members received more bad news on Thursday.

They would now need to find a million dollars to cut, double the previous estimate.

“There is nothing that we are going to discuss tonight that anybody up here is happy about,” Brian Goralski, school board chairperson, said.

Also on the target list was leaving 14 positions unfilled and moving the resources from the world language pilot program from an elementary school to the high school.

But the board promised a newly formed group – made of district staff and parents – would work to find a way to keep middle school sports going, possibly through pay-for-play and fundraising.

“I think we can actually get it done. I think the community is really pushing for this and we’re willing to work hard. And we’re willing to get creative,” Morgan said.

There are still a lot of unknowns, including how the state budget will eventually affect school districts and their budgets.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

2 in Critical Condition After Shooting in Hartford


Two people are in critical condition after a shooting in Hartford Thursday night.

Police officers responded to Madison Street at 11:14 p.m. after receiving a report that someone had been shot. Soon after, police received a report that two shooting victims had arrived at Hartford Hospital.

The victims were shot in the side and the back, according to police, and both are listed in critical condition.

When officers investigated on Madison Street, they found a loaded gun and a live round, according to police.

Police have no information on a suspect.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Police Seize Nearly 4,000 Bags of Heroin During Hartford Bust


Hartford police seized almost 4,000 bags of heroin during a raid Thursday night.

Detectives served a search warrant on Madison Avenue after receiving tips about drug sales and seized 3,792 bags of heroin and $1,721 in cash, according to a news release from police.

Police said they arrested 35-year-old Rayniel Ferrer, a resident of the home.

Ferrer was charged with possession of narcotics with the intent to sell.

Photo Credit: Hartford Police

Trump Reversal on Cuba May Hurt Cybersecurity: Officials


Cubans say that President Donald Trump's plans to roll back diplomatic and commercial ties could hurt the island nation's cybersecurity efforts and small businesses, NBC News reported.

Lt. Col Yohanka Rodriguez said that joint efforts between Cuban and U.S. authorities to fight drug trafficking and cybercrime will likely end, cutting short the successful sharing of intelligence that occurred under Obama-era policies.

"The progress that we've made could be set back," Rodriguez, who runs a Cuban cybersecurity command center, said of the announcement expected Friday.

According to her, Cuba provided intel on at least 17 cybercrime cases related to the U.S., such as suspected identity theft and hacking attacks on Cuba from American IP addresses.

Still, as Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson insist that the Cuban government is committing human rights violations, small business owners on the island fear that they stand to lose customers with increased tourism restrictions on U.S. travelers.

Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Vandals Damage Air Conditioners at Hartford Soup Kitchen


Three of the five air conditioning units at the House of Bread soup kitchen in Hartford were gutted for parts and the nonprofit organization is searching for donations to help replace the units, which together are valued at $36,000. 

Directors of the soup kitchen said they realized Tuesday that their units had been damaged and parts were stolen. 

The soup kitchen serves 800 meals a day to families in need and the building is also used a cooling center during hot days. 

"It's terrible someone would come in and take from an organization that's just trying to help us all out," Theresa Fonti, one of the co-directors, said. 

Hartford Police are asking anyone with information about the theft to contact them.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Access Health Facing Uncertainty


Connecticut’s marketplace for health insurance customers is facing the most uncertainty since it came into existence in 2010.

Concern over the stability of the individual insurance market has grown exponentially since President Donald Trump took office, as there are fears that payments from the federal government won’t be received by Connecticut.

Republicans in Congress have already passed a bill through the U.S. House of Representatives that ended the individual mandate for people to have insurance, but it’s not yet clear what will come out of the U.S. Senate.

“It’s wreaking havoc in the individual insurance market in Connecticut and across the country,” Jim Wadleigh, the CEO of Access Health Connecticut, said.

In response to some of those unknowns, but also as a way to save money, the exchange will close its two storefronts in New Britain and New Haven, which were staples of the unique marketing employed by Access Health.

The stores, which have been in existence since the marketplace was started, were designed to work with customers face-to-face and to help them with any enrollment issues. More than half of the customers in those stores enrolled for coverage on Medicaid, the state-run health insurance program for the poor, while the rest found plans through health insurance carriers.

Wadleigh said this is a move meant to maximize outreach in the best way for customers. He said most customers won’t notice a difference without the storefronts.

“We have a finite amount of resources and yes it costs about a million dollars or more, 1 to 2 million dollars for the storefronts to be operating and so we think we can take that investment, it’s not going away, and what can we do to reach farther into the state of Connecticut. So we think there are ways we can get more enrollment through this,” he said.

When people will actually enroll is also a major question looming over Access Health.

Initial guidance from the government has advised that people can sign up for and renew coverage on Nov. 1 and the period would end Dec. 15, though Wadleigh said the state is considering a later end date.

If people have more time to enroll and insurers have some overlap into the next coverage year, that can work for everyone, he said.

“We know, statistically speaking, 80-85 percent of our customers will be enrolled by December 15 and so we’re looking at what can we do to both help our customers and help carriers in the marketplace,” Wadleigh said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Cosby Accuser Confront Fans Outside Courthouse


As the jury in Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial found itself in a deadlock Thursday after four days of deliberation, news of the development sparked tensions outside the Pennsylvania courthouse.

The sequestered jurors had deliberated about 30 hours before telling Judge Steven O'Neill that they couldn't reach a unanimous decision on any of the counts against the 79-year-old comedian. The judge told them to try again for a verdict.

But outside the Norristown courthouse where a half-dozen Cosby supporters lined the walkway holding signs that read "We Love Bill Cosby," the news was met with cheers and chants of “Free Cosby Now.” 

"It hurts me to see a blind man go to prison for 30 years, come on now," a Cosby supporter said. 

Lili Bernard, one of several Cosby accusers who had gathered in the courthouse in anticipation of a verdict, tore through the spontaneous rally and confronted the growing crowd of the comedian's supporters. 

“I experienced it firsthand when he drugged me, he raped me, he threatened me to silence,” she said through tears. “I came home to my boyfriend at the time—who has been my husband, my one and only since 1990 — I came home drugged and sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby to him.”

Bernard said she was drugged and assaulted by the comedian in the 1990s before he gave the actress a one-time role on "The Cosby Show." She has been a regular attendee at deliberations this week, sometimes wearing a pin that reads “We Stand in Truth.”

A Cosby supporter stood there frozen, his hands clasping hers. They eventually hugged and parted, a tense encounter over as quickly as it began.

Sitting just a few steps away, Cosby accuser Victoria Valentino also pushed back tears.

“It’s emotionally draining. It’s very frustrating,” she said of the jury’s inability to reach a verdict.

Moments later, spectators clamored on the sidewalk as a small drum line passed through the crowd. Two men wearing light blue hooded sweatshirts and masks banged on their instruments in unison, occasionally stopping to twirl for passersby. A petite blond woman who had spent the early part of the week blowing bubbles and driving circles in a U-Haul led the makeshift procession. She carried a sign that read “Perseverance For All Survivors.”

“I’m here for the truth, no matter what it is,” said Zakia Tuck.

Photo Credit: Alicia Lozano / NBC10
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Man With Knife Arrested Near British Parliament; No Injuries


A man was arrested on suspicion of possessing a knife near British Parliament Friday, London police said, after a large police response in the heart of the nation's capital.

The incident took place before noon, local time, a London Metropolitan Police representative told NBC News. No one was injured.

Other details weren't immediately available.

The arrest comes with the nation on alert after a series of deadly attacks. In March, a man drove into pedestrians on nearby Westminster Bridge and stormed a gate at Parliament before he was shot dead. Since then, a suicide bomber attacked a concert in Manchester and several attackers left people dead on and near London Bridge in a vehicle-and-knife rampage.

Photo Credit: Jay Shaw Baker/NurPhoto via Getty Images, File

Southington Twins Make Senior Prank a Tribute to School


Many senior classes about to graduate are trying to leave with the last laugh with the perfect senior prank, but a pair of students from Southington decided to do something much different.

Twins Tom and Mark Murdy said they wanted to do something special before they put on their tassels and gowns.

Their class prank wasn’t what you’d imagine; instead of a trick to get some laughs, they decided to thank the staff at Southington High School.

"Everybody in this building plays a role in making sure that this is a great place," Mark Murdy said. "It’s the custodial staff, it’s the teachers, it’s the staff— they all make this place a place we wanted to give back to."

They spent a whole day making 53 signs and late Monday night they posted them all around the school. The signs thanked staff members of each department, from teachers to custodians, for everything they’ve done for the students.

"When I came in at 5:30 on Tuesday morning I was a little surprised that I saw this that they had gone out of their way to recognize what we do on a day to day basis," head custodian, PJ Kowalskiz, said.

"When you see stuff like this, it puts a little smile on your face. (It) makes things worthwhile," assistant head custodian, Skip Butkiewicz, said.

Not only that, but staff members were given flowers to brighten up their morning as they stepped foot inside the school.

Principal Brian Stranieri said in his 35 years working at Southington High School, he’s never seen a "prank" quite like this one.

“I hope that classes from here forward can see what they did and understand that a prank can also be a good prank," Stranieri said.

It's a class prank that feels better than the twins could’ve ever imagined.

“I mean, it just really makes you feel like a million bucks because we were given so much from this school and often times it goes unappreciated," said Tom Murdy.

Torrington Man Thought He Was Meeting Teen for Sex: Police


A Torrington man accused of arranging for a sexual encounter with a teenage boy has been arrested after the website group, POP Squad, caught him on video, according to Torrington police.

Police said Cole Sutton, 33, of Torrington, communicated with a person he thought was a 15-year-old boy he met on a social media site and the two arranged to meet for some type of sexual encounter.

The person Sutton was communicating with was not a 15-year-old boy but actually an adult from the website POP Squad, which stands of Prey on Predators, and the group recorded the encounter and later cooperated with police, police said.

On Thursday, police arrested Sutton, who was charged with criminal attempt to commit, use of a computer to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity and criminal attempt to commit sexual assault in the second degree.

Sutton was also charged with criminal attempt to use of a computer to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity and criminal attempt to commit sexual assault in the second degree.

Sutton posted a $100,000 bond and will appear in court on June 26.

Photo Credit: Torrington Police
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