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Route 9 Reopens in Old Saybrook


Route 9 was closed in between exits 2 and 3 because high electrical lines were sagging in the heat, according to Connecticut Light and Power and the Department of Transportation.

The closure affected both sides of the highway from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. while CL&P crews worked to repair the lines.

CL&P had 13 crews working on the sagging lines.

Photo Credit: Jamie Casagrande

Vernon Police Arrest Bank Robbery Suspect


Vernon Police have arrested a 32-year-old New Jersey man accused of robbing a local People’s Bank on May 25.

Arthur Allyn, of Oakhurst, New Jersey, is accused of giving the teller a note and taking off with cash.
Police said no one was injured during the robbery.

Detectives tracked down the vehicle used in the robbery and connected it to Allyn, police said. They are still investigating and an additional arrest is expected.

Allyn was extradited from New Jersey on July 17 and charged with robbery in the second degree, conspiracy for robbery in the second degree, larceny in the third degree and conspiracy for larceny in the third degree.

Bond was set at $250,000. Allyn was held overnight at the Vernon police station and will be arraigned today at Rockville Superior Court.

Vernon detectives continue to investigate the June 21 robbery of the same People’s Bank Branch and said they do not believe that the two robberies are connected.

On Friday, June 21, a 6-foot-tall masked man robbed the bank. He was wearing a black T-shirt over a gray sweatshirt, brown sweatpants and black sneakers.

Police urge anyone with any information about the June 21 robbery to call at 860-872-9126. Callers can remain anonymous.

Photo Credit: Vernon Police

Gunman Near White House “Only Going to Fire Couple Shots”


A man who displayed a loaded weapon at a U.S. Secret Service police booth outside the White House told officers, “I was only going to fire a couple of shots if no one confronted me,” according to court documents.

Officers arrested Christopher Wade Briggs in the 700 block of Jackson Place NW Tuesday afternoon.

An officer in the police booth saw Briggs, who was not wearing a shirt, take a holstered semi-automatic .45-caliber handgun from a backpack and attach it to his belt, according to court documents. The officer called for backup to assist with the arrest.

The gun was loaded with 13 rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber, according to court documents. A search of Briggs’s backpack found two more magazines filled with 13 rounds and 171 more rounds of .45-caliber, hollow-point ammunition. He also had two hunting knives with serrated edges -- one with a 7-inch blade and one with a 12-inch blade.

The officers did not find a license to carry or any gun permit in Briggs’s name, and Briggs did not say he had a license to carry or gun permit.

More Stories on NBCWashington.com:

Photo Credit: NBC News

Boy's Condition Upgraded After Sand Dune Fall


A 6-year-old boy buried for three hours under sand at the Indiana Dunes is slowly seeing his medical condition improve, doctors said Thursday.

“Nathan Woessner has been upgraded from critical and is now in serious condition," Dr. Rachel Wolfson said. "He has been extubated, is recovering from sedation and continues to respond to command."

Woessner fell into a sinkhole sometime after 4 p.m. July 12 at Mt. Baldy in Michigan City, Ind.

Woessner's grandfather, Pastor Don Reul, said the boy was walking to the top of the popular dune with his dad, an adult friend of the family and another boy when he fell.

"They immediately went back, and he was nowhere to be seen," Reul said. "The ground had swallowed him up."

Doctors said Monday they expect the boy to be released from the hospital within 10 to 14 days. His condition had been listed as critical before Thursday.

The Mount Baldy area at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore will remain closed indefinitely following the accident.

Gabby Douglas Comes to Hartford Tomorrow


U.S. Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas will be in downtown Hartford on Friday for an event leading up to the 2013 P&G Gymnastics Championships next month.

Part of the event will include renaming “Trumbull Street” to “Tumble Street,” where girls and boys from a local gymnastics club will “tumble” down the sidewalk.

The public event runs from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m. outside the front of the XL Center on Trumbull Street, at Pratt Street.

It is free and all are welcome.

Douglas has made multiple trips to Connecticut. Just after the 2010 U.S. Championships, she trained at Gymnastics Express Too in Glastonbury. In December, she was in Madison for a book signing at RJ Julia Booksellers.

The 2013 P&G Gymnastics Championships will take place at the XL Center from Aug. 15 to 18, showcasing the country’s top male and female gymnasts vying for the coveted title of U.S. champion.
Performances determine the make-up of the U.S. National Team and might be a factor in selecting the U.S. Team for international events, including the World Championships.

For more information, visit www.usagym.org. For tickets, visit Ticketmaster.com or call 800-745-3000.

Ricoh Closing a Glastonbury Facility


Ricoh Imaging Company is closing a facility in Glastonbury, Connecticut and moving to Georgia. How many jobs will be affected is not known.

“We are closing a facility in Glastonbury and consolidating our Customer Administration functions to our Duluth, Georgia facility to realize process efficiencies and maintain competitiveness.  While some functions will be moved to Duluth, others will be moved to another Glastonbury facility located at 655 Winding Brook Drive, and we're working on finalizing those details over the next several months,” the company said in a statement on Thursday.

Richard Johnson, Glastobury's town manager, said he was disappointed.

"Whenever a business leaves it's a challenge for us," Johnson said. "We certainly don't want to see anyone lose employment whether it's a Glastonbury resident or elsewhere."
Employees were notified this week.
The company said any impacted employees are eligible to apply for any open and available positions.
The company employs between 250 and 499 people, according to the Connecticut Department of Labor's Web site.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

WATCH: Pitch Drop Experiment Caught on Camera


The science world might have tapped into something that is literally slower than molasses.

Researchers at Ireland's Trinity College set up a camera to capture a pitch drop that was 69 years in the making, proving once and for all that the hard black tar substance is actually a thick, viscous liquid.

The experiment was started in 1944 by a colleague of Nobel Prize winner Ernest Walton -- known for his atom-smashing experiments -- to prove that the black carbon substance contains liquid properties. Pitch is a form of tar once used for caulking boats and waterproofing containers.

Several lumps of pitch were placed into a funnel, which was placed into a jar and left in a cupboard for decades. Scientists at the school noticed a few weeks ago that a drip was starting to form, which prompted them to set up a camera to capture the impending drop.

The Trinity College pitch drop, however, is not the longest running experiment of its kind. In 1929, the University of Queensland in Australia set up a pitch drop that is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's longest running lab experiment.

Man Yells "Terrorist Rats" in Mosque: Imam


San Diego police arrested a man after he entered a mosque during early-morning prayer, yelled “terrorist rats” and made death threats.

A surveillance camera captured the moments the suspect entered the Islamic Center on Eckstrom Avenue around 4:30 a.m. Monday.

“This is the first time somebody stepped in the mosque and tell us what he told us,” said Imam Taha Hassane. “Usually we receive phone calls or voice mails.”

People were just beginning to enter the mosque for prayer during the holy month of Ramadan when they noticed the man wearing shoes.

“We're not supposed to step with our shoes on this carpet but he stepped with his shoes and he kept looking inside,” Hassane said.

Members asked if the man needed any help but the man told them to "get lost" Hassane said.

“Then he told him, ‘Excuse me this is a mosque. If you want to come inside to observe the prayer with us or if you have any questions…’ and then he walked back and told him ‘You terrorist rats,’” said Hassane.

A surveillance camera inside the mosque caught the man’s action.

He appears to walk over to pamphlets on the wall and starts to leave. That’s when the Imam said the man started yelling obscenities and threatening everyone.

Witnesses told police the man yelled, "You terrorist rats, I'm going to kill you all.”

At this point, the video shows other members going to the front of the center trying to see what is going on.

Imam Hassane said the man took off on foot, with two other members following behind him.

The two led San Diego police to this area, where 52-year old Larry Rodgers was arrested.

The center has reported previous phone calls threatening to blow up the center and its school.
Investigators are now looking into whether Rodgers is also responsible for those.

"I'm wondering what type of motivation pushed this guy to come and say this,” Hassane said.

The center employs security guards to cover day and night hours. They say they are now considering having security in the morning also.

Rodgers has a court date set for July 26.


Gas Prices Hit $4 in Connecticut


Gas prices have been rising and the average price for regular gasoline in parts of Connecticut is already over $4 per gallon.

Gas prices have gone up by 20 cents in the last week in Connecticut, AAA spokesman Aaron Kupec said, and there are several reasons for the surge.

“Unrest in Egypt, some refinery issues in Philadelphia, New Jersey and St. John, Canada; and also, it’s a busy time of year to be driving a car,” Kupec said.

It appears that prices we have not seen the end to rising gas costs.

“I think in the short term, we’re going to see gas prices continue to increase and then after that, because there are so many different factors that go into the price of gasoline, it’s tough to predict,” Kupec said.

Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst with Gas Buddy, told NBC News that the Northeast is a” hot spot” because a “couple of key refineries look as if they have some operational difficulties.”

The increase in prices also come just weeks after the gas tax in Connecticut jumped.

The Bridgeport area has the highest prices, where the average is $4.072, according to AAA’s Fuel Gauge.

In other parts of the state, the price is lower, but approaching $4.

In Hartford, the average price is $3.988, while it is $3.991 in the New Haven-Meriden area and $3.986 in the New London-Norwich area. 

The highest price on record for regular unleaded gasoline in the state was $4.495, set in Bridgeport on July 8, 2008.

Check our gas tracker to find the lowest prices near you.

If you are not on Facebook, you can find the information through ConnecticutGasPrices.com.

AAA recommends a few easy things to make sure you can more mileage for your money.

Drive during cooler parts of the day, avoid long warm-ups in the morning, and use the air conditioner.

The national average price of gasoline in the country is $3.669 per gallon and other states are feeling the pain, too. Connecticut has the fourth-highest average price for regular gas in the country behind Hawaii, Alaska and California.


Photo Credit: Getty Images/OJO Images

Car Crashes Through Bruegger's Bagels in New Haven


A car crashed through the front door of a Bruegger's Bagels at the corner of Whitney Avenue and Grove Street in New Haven Thursday afternoon.

Two workers and a customer were in the store when the car careened through the door, wedging itself inside. No one inside Bruegger's was hurt, police said.

The driver was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital as a precaution.

Employees told NBC Connecticut's Josh Chapin that despite the damage, they will be able to open tomorrow.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Colbert Grills Spitzer Over His Political Ambitions


Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer continued to make his way around the media circuit Thursday as he mounts a campaign for New York City Comptroller.

Spitzer sat down with late-night comedy show host Stephen Colbert, who grilled the former governor about why people should trust him after it was revealed he was a regular client of an escort agency.

The prostitution scandal forced Spitzer to resign as New York governor in 2008.

"Shouldn't the job of comptroller go to someone who has shown a modicum of self-comptrol?" Colbert asked Spitzer. "Why should the people trust you?"

Check out Colbert and Spitzer talking about his entry back into public life and politics as Colbert pokes some fun at the former disgraced governor:  


4 Teens Shot After Family Party in Hartford


Three teenage girls and a teenage boy were shot in Hartford early Friday morning when a family party end.

Police received a 911 call around 1 a.m. on Friday reporting that someone had been shot at Vibz Uptown nightclub.

Police determined that a fight broke out between a male and a group of males as the victims were leaving a family-organized party at the club.  

Around 10 rounds were fired from the West end of Montville Street. Minutes later, around five more rounds were fired from Main and Montville and two 19-year-old girls, a 17-year-old girl and an 18-year-old boy were shot, police said. The injuries are not life-threatening.

One 19-year-old girl was shot in the elbow and the other girls suffered wounds to the neck. They were transported to St. Francis Hospital.

An 18-year-old man sustained a graze wound and was treated at the scene.

The major crimes division is investigating.


Winds, Thunderstorms a Fear in Mountain Fire


Fire crews battling a fast-growing wildfire that ripped through Southern California's scenic San Jacinto Mountains were bracing for potential storms Friday evening as the powerful blaze raged on its fifth day, prompting a new evacuation warning.

The Mountain Fire had burned more than 38 square miles by Friday, reaching over the crest of the mountains and within two miles of the western border of Palm Springs. A blanket of ash and smoke draped the resort destination.

The blaze was also getting dangerously close to Idyllwild, where the flames were more active than those nearing Palm Springs, US Forest Service spokesman John Miller told NBC4 Friday.

RELATED: Mountain Fire photos | Firefighters Brace for Fierce Fire Season | Hotel Discounts for Fire Evacuees

At about 11 a.m., the Riverside County Sheriff's Department said the community of Pine Cove, north of Idyllwild, was being given a warning about a possible upcoming evacuation order. Anyone who feels threatened by the Mountain Fire should leave the area, where there are about 700 homes, authorities said.

Health officials Friday night told residents in the following areas to boil their water before using it for drinking, making ice or cooking: Pine Springs Camp, Ronald McDonald Camp (AKA Rainbow Camp), Bonita Vista Road, Living Free Animal Sanctuary, Fleming Ranch, May Valley Road, Zen Center, Hurkey Creek, and Apple Canyon Road.

Until further notice, residents should use bottled water, water disinfection tables, or boil their water for one minute and let it cool before using. Officials expect to have the problem fixed within 2 to 3 days.

Residents with questions about water safety can call Zen Mountain at 951-659-5272; Pine Springs Ranch at 951-659-4131; or the California Department of Public Health at 619-525-4354.

Meantime, more than 3,300 firefighters were on scene, and had worked overnight into Friday to "corral" the blaze away from Idyllwild and surrounding mountain communities, pushing it instead to the north.

Some erratic winds forecast for Friday became a cause for heavy concern, and Miller predicted "extreme fire behavior given unstable atmospheric conditions," citing the possibility of thunderstorms. Draft winds could produce new spot fires, he said in a morning news release.

On Friday afternoon, Fire spokesman Capt. Mike Lindbery said a storm front headed toward the region in could provide some relief with cooler weather and a chance of rain, but it might make the situation much more volatile with lightning and strong winds.

In the Pine Cove evacuation warning, authorities described a dangerous "ice cap" that could form atop a column of smoke and ash northwest of the fire. The smoke column could create create a thunderstorm, and associated lightning and wind.

"Eventually the weight of the ice will cause the column to collapse. When the column collapses, strong downdraft winds push the fire in multiple directions, placing firefighters at risk," the warning stated.

The blaze, burning 100 miles east of Los Angeles, had scorched 27,179 acres by Friday evening and destroyed 23 structures, including seven homes. The fire remained 15 percent contained Friday evening, according to an online incident report.

The cost to battle the raging fire reached $10.9 million by Friday evening, Miller said in a statement. Officials had said Thursday that a continuing investigation showed that human activity caused the blaze, but wouldn't say if it was intentionally or accidentally set.

More than 260 fire engines were working on the Mountain Fire, according to a Friday morning report from fire officials. From the air, 19 helicopters, 10 fixed-wing aircraft -- including a DC-10 -- were fighting flames.

A smoke advisory was again issued by the South Coast Air Quality Management District, which said that unhealthy air conditions are likely to occur in the Hemet/San Jacinto Valley area, the Banning Pass area, the Coachella Valley, and the northeastern Anza area. Smoke can also make air unhealthy for people with healthy issues in the Perris Valley area, the the metropolitan Riverside County area, the Big Bear Lake area; and the central and western San Bernardino Mountains, AQMD said.

Evacuation orders had been expanded Wednesday, but several communities were reopened to residents by Friday, including Apple Canyon, Bonita Vista, Fobes Canyon, and Spring Canyon Ranch.

State Route 74 was reopened to traffic Thursday night, but State Route 243 remained closed from the intersection with 74 to the Nature Center, south of Pine Cove.

U.S. Forest Service fire Chief Jeanne Pincha-Tulley said at a news conference Thursday afternoon that the evacuation had been expanded in case the fire took a turn toward Idyllwild.

"If the fire goes over the slopes and makes a major run (downhill), we wouldn't have much time to get people out of there,'' Pincha-Tulley said. "We asked everybody to leave (Wednesday night) so we can secure the area without worrying about folks getting in the way.''

On Thursday, she called the Mountain Fire "the national priority."

Meanwhile, area residents were dealing with the fear of losing their homes. The nearby town of Idyllwild looked like a ghost town after it was evacuated Wednesday night.

"It's grown into a monster that we haven't seen before," said San Jacinto Valley resident Ralph Savory, who was packed up and ready to go if deputies ordered him to evacuate. "We're waiting for the word. Got our cars packed. All we got left is us and our dogs."

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which takes visitors nearly 6,000 feet up steep Chino Canyon, was closed Thursday because of unhealthy air quality due to smoke.

Evacuation orders remained in effect for Idyllwild east of State Route 243, Fern Valley, Trails End, Mount San Jacinto State Park and nearby San Bernardino National Forest areas. Details were posted online.

The edge of the blaze was nearing Saddle Junction, an area where many popular hiking trails -- including the famed Pacific Crest Trail -- converge in the state park, a map release Friday morning showed.

The Mountain Fire broke out Monday afternoon in steep, rugged terrain on private property just off State Highway 243 in the community of Mountain Center, south of Idyllwild (map).

Evacuation centers were set up at the following locations:

  • Hemet High School, 41701 E. Stetson Ave., Hemet;
  • Hamilton High School, 57430 Mitchell Road, Anza;
  • Beaumont High School, 39139 Cherry Valley Blvd., Cherry Valley;
  • Large and small animals can be brought to the San Jacinto Animal Shelter, 581 S. Grand Ave.

The fire was about 12 miles from the site of the 2006 Esperanza wildfire that killed five U.S. Forest Service firefighters and destroyed 34 homes. The area has not burned in many years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

More Southern California Stories:


HUD Offices Closed on Monday


All U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offices nationwide will be closed on Monday, July 22.

The offices will be closed because of government-wide automatic spending cuts that took effect on March 1, according to HUD. 

The local HUD office is the Hartford field office, located at 20 Church Street.

HUD will resume normal operation on Tuesday.            

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Girl, 16, Lured to Roof, Raped, Thrown Off Building: Cops


Police have arrested one man and are searching for a second suspect after they allegedly lured a 16-year-old girl to a Brooklyn roof, where they raped her before throwing her off,  leaving her with serious injuries to her leg, arm and back, authorities said.

Authorities say the two men, ages 24 and 26, lured the teenage girl to the roof of a three-story building on Miller Avenue in East New York early Sunday.

They allegedly raped her and flung her off the roof after at least one of them tried to strangle her, police said. She was taken to Brookdale Hospital.
Neighbors were shaken Friday to learn of the attack.
"I felt bad because I got a daughter and I wouldn't want that to happen to my child. And I'm a girl and I wouldn't want that to happen to me," said one woman. "I go out and I come in late at night, and you don't know what might happen."

Police arrested 24-year-old Anwar Desouza, who lives at the building where the girl was attacked, and charged him with attempted murder, rape, criminal sexual act and strangulation.

Information on an attorney for him wasn't immediately available.  

Authorities are looking for his alleged accomplice, who has been identified as 26-year-old Antonio Owensford. Police released a photo of Owensford (above).

Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.

More New York-Area Stories:

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York

New Photos of Boston Bombing Suspect Emerge


Boston bombing suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev is again at the forefront of national attention after Rolling Stone put him on the cover of its August 2013 edition and an outraged Massachusetts State Police photographer responded by releasing pictures from the manhunt.

Sgt. Sean Murphy, a tactical photographer with the Mass. State Police, was “furious” with Rolling Stone, and sent hundred of photos from the manhunt to Boston Magazine, according to a Boston Magazine story published today.

The magazine ran 13 of them.

Murphy's photos get up close and personal with a bloodied Tsarnaev during the final stages of the April 19 manhunt that brought police to Watertown, where the suspect was found hiding underneath a boat in a Franklin Street backyard.

The images show a bloodied Tsarnaev surrendering from his hideout, hands in the air with a sniper trained on his forehead.

The other newly released photos depict police operations, including a roll call during which officers received full-page printouts of Tsarnaev’s image, a strategy meeting held at a mobile command post, legislators and state officials speaking with police during the investigation, and several snapshots of the manhunt once officers arrived in Watertown.

Massachusetts State Police said they did not endorse or permit the release of these photos and issued the following statement Thursday evening:

“Today's dissemination to Boston Magazine of photographs of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev and police activity related to his capture was not authorized by the Massachusetts State Police. The department will not release the photographs to media outlets. The State Police will have no further comment on this matter tonight.”

NBC Connecticut reached out to Massachusetts State Police and Sgt. Murphy. They did not return a request for comment.

The Rolling Stone cover in question features a full-sized headshot of Tsarnaev and is captioned, “The Bomber: How a Popular, Promising Student Was Failed by His Family, Fell Into Radical Islam and Became a Monster.

The full cover story, entitled “Jahar’s World,” delves into the bombing suspect’s past, including his friendships, family life, education and evolving relationship with radical Islam.

To say the cover has been espoused in controversy would be an understatement.

“We’ve essentially equated the bomber with being a rock star,” said Hartford Track Club member Kelly Gallagher, who was at the Boston Marathon when the bombs went off. “That’s the absolute last message that needs to be sent.”

Other Connecticut residents echoed Gallagher's sentiments.

Rolling Stone responded to widespread criticism by issuing the following statement:

“The cover story we are publishing this week falls within the traditions of journalism and Rolling Stone’s long-standing commitment to serious and thoughtful coverage of the most important political and cultural issues of our day.”

Several New England retailers, including CVS, Cumberland Farms and Stop and Shop, have already decided not to sell the August edition.

Photo Credit: Boston Magazine

4-Year-Old Girl Allegedly Starved by Mom


After her 4-year-old daughter was dropped off at a hospital weighing just 18 pounds, an Orange County mother of nine is facing multiple counts of child abuse, authorities said.

Antonia Benitez, 35, of Santa Ana, was arrested Thursday, the Orange County District Attorney said.

She ran after leaving her daughter at a hospital June 4, according to the OC DA.

The 4-year-old girl was suffering from an infected wound on her leg and malnutrition, the OC DA said. Doctors at the time called Social Services which in turn alerted Santa Ana police.

In July 2012, Benitez allegedly took her daughter to the hospital for being underweight. That instance was not reported to police, the Orange County District Attorney said.

The average 4-year-old weighs about 34 pounds, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Benitez’s daughter weighed about 18 pounds when she was taken to the hospital last month.

All nine of Benitez's children, ranging in age from 4 to 16, are under the care of Social Services or family members. Two fathers are connected with Benitez's nine children, but the 35-year-old mother was raising them on her own, police said.

The OC District Attorney has filed three counts of felony child abuse against Benitez.

She is being held on $250,000 bail, and is scheduled to appear in court Friday for an arraignment.

If convicted, Benitez faces a maximum sentence of 14 years and six months in state prison.

To report child abuse in Southern California, call these numbers:

NBC4's Vikki Vargas contributed to this report.

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Photo Credit: Santa Ana Police Department

Angry Birds Attack Brooklyn Park-Goers


Menacing mockingbirds are tormenting park-goers in a swath of green space along Brooklyn's waterfront, dive bombing their heads and swooping at their pets.

Neighbors near Greenpoint's Transmitter Park say the angry birds regularly attack them on visits to the park.

"Like I'd be walking down the path and I'd feel something in the back of my head," said Paul Wullenski. "I'd look around and see a bird flying next to a tree." 

Julie Duffield kept her dog close after seeing a bird attack firsthand.

"We thought it was a blue jay but it was dive bombing people's heads and we had to move our seats because we were like, 'I think this thing is going to attack us or something,'" she said.

The city's Audubon Society says mockingbirds are defending their young during this nesting season, which begins in early April. Males and females both attack, but the males do it more, experts say. Mockingbirds can recognize specific humans and act aggressively towards some, while ignoring others.

The birds are expected to mellow out soon when their young birds fly off independently.

Truman Coleman says he's been pecked more than seven times, but he is more in awe than frightened.

"That little animal's got a lot of heart, protecting its little baby and keeping people away," he said. 

More Than 2,000 Chicago Teachers, Staff Face Layoffs


More than 2,100 Chicago Public Schools employees could be laid off Friday morning, bringing the total number of pink slips to 3,000 in two months.

CPS officials said Thursday they will notify 1,036 teachers and 1,077 non-teachers of the layoffs.

"As a former principal and teacher, I share the frustration felt by many of our principals, teachers, and parents about the difficult decisions our schools are being forced to make because of the historic $1 billion deficit facing our district," schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett said. "Driven by the lack of reform in Springfield, the pension crisis has arrived at our schools."

Chicago Teachers President Karen Lewis called the cuts "unnecessary and shameful for a system that prides itself on providing a high-quality education for our students" and said they will have a direct impact on the district's quality of education.

Of those cut, 262 are support staff and food service employees from closing schools, 1,723 are teachers and support staff cut by budgetary decisions from school principals, and 123 are teachers impacted by changes in enrollment at CPS schools.

“The biggest issue, for me, is what will this look like for our kids?" said Sean Diller, who received notice that he had been let go Friday morning.

Chicago Public Schools attributes the cuts to the district's $1 billion deficit and said the lack of pension reform in Springfield has "brought this crisis to our schools' doorsteps."

"We're not able to cut our way out of this crisis," CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll said. "Our revenues are simply not keeping in line with our spending increases."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel released a statement that the pension crisis is "no longer around the corner."

"CPS has been forced to make extremely difficult choices to put our school district in the best position to be successful next year and beyond," he said in the statement. "This is yet another painful reminder to Springfield that we need immediate pension relief, so we can give our kids the high quality education and opportunity they deserve to succeed in school and life.”

The cuts are in addition to more than 850 CPS teachers and staffers fired at closing and turnaround schools in June.

Up to 420 teachers from closing schools received pink slips, along with 110 teacher assistants and 133 bus aides and part-time seasonal employees.

An additional 192 teachers and staff were fired at five of the schools slated for turnaround, which includes 125 teachers. Those positions will all be replaced in an effort to change the culture, according to CPS officials.

Ruth Augspurger, who had been teaching in Chicago for nearly 10 years, also received notice Friday.

"There are people who are working in our schools who have given their lives, they’ve given their careers," she said in an emotional plea.

CPS said any teachers who are impacted will be able to reapply in the CPS and an average of 60 percent of displaced teachers have historically found positions elsewhere in the district.

Tenured teachers let go due to budgetary decisions made by school principals are eligible to be placed in a day-to-day substitute pool for next year, CPS said.

Tenured teachers who could not follow their students to a new school are also eligible to be in the reassigned teacher pool at full pay and benefits for five months next year, followed by placement in a pool as a higher paid substitute.

CPS said employees will be notified by their principals beginning Friday.

“This is wrong," said Roosevelt teacher Timothy Meegan. "And I will fight you, we will all fight you, to the last breath."

More Chicago-Area Stories:


Photo Credit: AP

SoCal Rally for Trayvon Martin Turns Violent


A crowd of demonstrators became violent in San Bernardino, Calif., Thursday night when they threw rocks at cars while protesting the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, police said.

The San Bernardino Police Department was responding to reports of vandalism when they encountered about 120 protesters. The group began throwing rocks and bottles at passing motorists, police officers and patrol cars, according to a police department press release.

Aerial video showed dozens of demonstrators running from galloping police horses as officers demanded they disperse from the intersection of Baseline and Waterman avenues.

Most of the crowd left after the officers' orders, but about 50 people decided to move behind cinder block walls and throw rocks and bottles at officers, police said.

One patrol car was damaged by a rock that a protester threw at it, police said.

NewsChopper 4 spotted at least one person in handcuffs. Police arrested 11 people for a variety of charges including assault with a deadly weapon, battery, assault on a police horse and vandalism.

A Jack in the Box near Baseline and Waterman avenues closed 90 minutes early at 8:30 p.m. because demonstrators had started to congregate around the fast food restaurant.

Rocks were thrown at the business’ window, but there was no damage, an employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity said.

Officers cleared the business areas to prevent any additional vandalism, police said.

The rally began about 7:30 p.m. at Perris Hill Park (map), according to the San Bernardino Sun.

It moved eastbound on Highland Avenue to Waterman Avenue before turning south toward Baseline, about six blocks away from where the rally started.

The protest came on the heels of a Wednesday night demonstration during which several people gathered in front of San Bernardino County Superior Court for the same reason, the Sun reported.

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Photo Credit: NewsChopper 4
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