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What New London is Doing About Possible K2 Overdoses


New London firefighters, city officials and hospital workers are working together to combat synthetic marijuana usage after more possible overdoses were reported on Tuesday. 

Another two possible K2 overdose calls in New London on Tuesday adds to the city's tally after 14 overdoses were reported last week. 

Firefighters and EMS personnel responded to the area around Bank and Hobron Streets just before 5:30 p.m for a possible K2 overdose, New London Fire Department Battalion Chief Thomas Curcio said.

The victim was the second person that day to be transported to the hospital for a possible synthetic marijuana overdose.

The other possible overdose call came in around 8 a.m., according to New London Police Captain Brian Wright said. 

Several people in the area said some gas stations and bodegas are selling the drug under the table.

"It’s everywhere. No matter where you go. You go to the gas station, just ask them for a bag of 'Scooby Snacks'," a woman who lives in New London, who wishes to remain anonymous, said. 

She said K2 goes by other street names, including "crazy monkey, rotten monkey, sexy monkey."

"I be seeing by my own eyes people just falling asleep in the street," Jose Rivera, who lives in New London, said. "It’s dangerous because they can die."

Lawrence + Memorial Hospital EMS and Emergency Management Coordinator Ron Kersey said that his staff saw about 14 possible K2 overdoses in New London on July 21.

Jeanne Milstein, New London’s director of human services, said the city, service providers and the hospital are all working together to combat the problem. One of the main goals is to get people into treatment so they stop using, and working with law enforcement to get the drugs off the streets.

“Whatever compound it was that they put on that incense, must have been more potent than what the people are normally used to,” Groton Police Sgt. Paul Reams said about a possible reason behind the overdose spike in New London.

Reams is part of the Regional Community Enhancement Task Force, which along with Groton officers, arrested someone for K2 possession Monday.

But the police sergeant said he doesn’t see as much K2 on the streets. 

"Probably because of the decimalization of marijuana," Reams said. The main problem he’s seeing is heroin and opioids.

In New London, Cathy Zall, executive director of the New London Homeless Hospitality Center, said her staff can see about 600 different people within the course of a year. They’re working with police, the city and detox facilities but knows they all can be doing more. Part of the solution is tapping into why someone developed the substance abuse issue in the first place, she said.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Owner Arrested After Dog Attacks Man, 79, in West Hartford


The owner of a Boxer mix was arrested on Tuesday after the dog attacked a 79-year-old on July 17, police said. 

Katherine Stevenson was arrested at her home in Avon on Tuesday after police learned her dog, that was euthanized after the West Hartford attack, had a long history of aggressive behavior, including the attacks of two other people.

West Hartford police said Stevenson failed to secure her dog on July 17 as required by the restraint order on Iroquois Road. 

Police officers responded to Iroquois Road around 7 p.m. after the dog attack was reported and said witnesses were holding the dog down. Several neighbors saw the attack and came forward to help the victim. 

"The dog came out of, I believe, they said the garage, ran across the street and for some reason, picked that person to go after," West Hartford Lt. Eric Rocheleau said after the incident. "No one else-- he actually went around people to get to that individual."

The dog, a Boxer mix, was pulled away from the man several times, but it kept attacking, according to police. 

"The dog was pretty aggressive. (It) went after the male victim several times," Rocheleau said. "They were able to restrain the dog but he kept on getting back on the male victim."

Animal control also responded and secured the dog, which police said was able to get free from the residence it was in. 

The victim, a Bloomfield man, had injuries to his ribs, hand, bicep and a fractured pelvis and was transported to St. Francis Hospital, according to police.

A neighbor who did not want to be identified spoke exclusively with NBC Connecticut. She said she was walking down her driveway when they saw a group of people surrounding the dog and the man. 

"He was limping and I couldn’t tell where the blood was coming from because he seemed to have a lot going on with his injuries," the neighbor said.

The neighbor said they yelled for towels to hold the victim's wrists because they were heavily damaged. 

Police said the victim and the dog’s owner were visiting separate people on Iroquois Road when the attack happened. 

Because of the incident, the dog’s owner decided to euthanize her pet.

Stevenson faces charges that include reckless endangerment, attack of an elderly person, violation of a restraint order, nuisance dog by means of vicious disposition, roaming dog. Her bond was set at $10,000. 

Photo Credit: West Hartford Police

Hartford Police Crack Down on Underage Drinking at Concerts


Hartford police are working with the Xfinity Theatre to step up patrols in an effort to combat underage drinking.

Police met with theater staff Tuesday afternoon to discuss the issue.

"Xfinity Theater expressed their open concern and willingness to help prevent underage drinking and improve everyone’s safety," wrote Hartford Police Deputy Chief Brian Foley in an emailed statement. "We mutually agreed on increased enforcement coverage as well as other measures to improve safety. We will continue to work through those details as the next events approach."

Last Friday more than 90 people were taken to the hospital during a Chance the Rapper concert. Many of them were severely intoxicated.

Friday’s crowd was mostly fans in their late teens and early 20s and there was a great deal of tailgating, partying and heavy drinking, police said. Many of the medical transports were for underage drinkers who suffered severe intoxication. Police made 50 underage drinking referrals at the event.

In a statement, officials from ambulance service American Medical Response told NBC Connecticut that they’ve never seen that level of transports in the 21 years they’ve worked with the venue.

Police remind parents to be aware of the atmosphere at concerts so that parents and children can talk about making responsible decisions.

Photo Credit: Deputy Chief Brian Foley/ Hartford Police Department

Non-Profit Programs Struggle Without State Budget


It’s more than three weeks into the fiscal year and state legislators still have not passed a budget. On Wednesday non-profits really began to see the effects when they were forced to close their doors due to furlough days.

Until a budget is passed the state has imposed furlough days, which means that on certain days non-profit programs will not receive funds to operate.

In response, non-profit organizations that provide care to the disabled plan to hold five press conferences around the state to draw attention to the lack of a budget and the struggles it creates.

They say it not only hurts the programs financially, it also hurts the people who rely on those services.

Monday night the Connecticut House voted to approve a union concessions deal that will save the state billions over the next few years. The Senate plans to vote next week.

Legislators still need to deal with a $5 billion shortfall in the state budget over the next two fiscal years.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Stray Bullet Goes Through Bedroom Walls of Norwich Home


Norwich police are investigating after someone shot a gun toward a crowd exiting a house party on McKinley Avenue Tuesday night, sending bullets into the bedroom of another home nearby.

Police said they received multiple 911 calls reporting shots fired on McKinley Avenue around 11:10 p.m. When officers arrived they found several kids running from a home near the corner of McKinley and Perkins Avenues.

Investigators determined that a large house party was breaking up and as the crowd left, someone fired around five shots toward the crowd.

No injuries were reported, but officers found bullet damage to a house nearby. The bullet went through two walls of an occupied bedroom, police said.

Anyone with information on this incident should contact call Detective Kevin Wilbur #296 or Investigator Christopher Hawrylik #1034 of the Norwich Police Department at 860-886-5561 extension 6 or the Department’s Anonymous Tip Line at 860-886-5561 extension 4. Tips may remain confidential.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

4 Displaced After Early Morning House Fire in Meriden


Four people and their cat and dog were displaced by an early morning fire in Meriden Wednesday.

Crews responded to a fire at a home on Bradley Avenue around 5 a.m. The residents and their pets all escaped the house unharmed.

Firefighters quickly got the fire under control, but there is extensive damage to the first and second floors of the home.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Venus Williams: Man Killed in Crash Wasn't Wearing Seat Belt


Tennis star Venus Williams says she's not at fault in a fatal Palm Beach County crash and claims the man who died wasn't wearing a seat belt at the time of the wreck, according to court documents obtained Tuesday.

Williams is being sued by the estate of 78-year-old Jerome Barson, who died less than two weeks after the June 9 crash.

The court documents filed Friday claim Barson's injuries were due to his own negligence, saying he wasn't wearing a seat belt and "failed to adequately maintain and repair the vehicle which is the subject of the complaint in a safe condition."

Police initially said Williams, 37, caused the crash, which also left Barson's wife, Linda, injured. Police later said Williams "lawfully entered" the intersection.

Williams hasn't been cited or charged. Attorneys for Barson's estate filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the tennis star, seeking damages in excess of $15,000.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Here's What a 'Skinny Repeal' of Obamacare Would Look Like


The Senate agreed to open debate on repealing and replacing Obamacare on Tuesday, but it’s still unclear what senators will be voting on in the end, NBC News reported.

One new option emerged on Tuesday: A so-called skinny repeal bill that would eliminate the Affordable Care Act's penalties for individuals who go without insurance and companies that don’t offer it. It would also remove a tax on medical-device manufacturers. 

By voting on a partial repeal bill, Republicans would avoid heated debates within their party over cuts to Medicaid, subsidies for private insurance, and which Obamacare regulations to change or eliminate.

But that doesn’t mean skinny repeal would be a minor change. 

Scrapping the mandate could create major policy headaches, however, including millions more uninsured, a spike in premiums, and a potential exodus of insurers from the market. If these changes came to pass, they would violate Republican promises to lower premiums and increase competition.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Bridgeport Teacher Accused of Sexual Relationship With Student Pleads Not Guilty


A former Bridgeport high school teacher who was accused of having a sexual relationship with a student has pleaded not guilty and is due in court next month.

Bridgeport police arrested 31-year-old Laura Ramos, of Milford, a teacher at Central High School who is accused of an inappropriate sexual relationship with an 18-year-old boy who attended the high school.

Police did not divulge how they found out about the incident or when.

Ramos has been charged with sexual assault in the second degree and resigned from her position amid termination proceedings, according to the office of the superintendent of Bridgeport Public Schools.

She is due back in court on Aug. 14.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Plunging Sperm Counts Called a 'Major Public Health' Crisis


A recent meta-analysis found a 40-year decline in sperm count in a large sample of men across North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, NBC News reported.

Researchers from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Icahn School of Medicine in New York reviewed 185 studies from 1973 to 2011, and observed a 52 percent decline in sperm concentration and a 59 percent decline in total sperm count.

"For couples who are trying to conceive, this is a very severe problem and it's difficult psychologically, but in the big scheme of things, this is also a major public health issue," said Dr. Shanna Swan, an author of the study and professor of environmental medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine.

The paper doesn’t give reasons for the decline and cause-and-effect is unclear. But Dr. Joseph Alukal, a urologist and director of male reproductive health at NYU Langone Health, recommends that men can increase their count with a healthy diet, exercise, by not smoking and getting sleep.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Science Photo Libraray

Places to Celebrate National Chicken Wing Day in Connecticut


Photo Credit: Manny Vargas

Prominent Rabbi Charged With Sexual Assault of Student


A prominent Connecticut rabbi who was accused of sexually assaulting a male high school student more than a decade ago has been charged with sexual assault in the second degree and risk of injury to a minor. 

In May, a federal jury awarded $20 million to the man who accused Greer of repeatedly raping and molesting him when he was a student at the Jewish boarding school from 2001 to 2005. 

Police said the victim’s attorney contacted them in August 2016, alleging he’d been the victim of sexual assaults from early to mid-2000s. 

Police said the suspect, 77-year-old Rabbi Daniel Greer, of New Haven, was the dean of the Yeshiva of New Haven/the Gan School, where the victim was a high school student. 

Authorities obtained a warrant charging Greer with sexual assault in the second degree and risk of injury to a minor. He turned himself in to authorities at police headquarters this morning. 

Bond for Greer was set at $100,000 and he posted it, according to police.

Photo Credit: New Haven Police

Hundreds of Families in Need Receive Food Donations


More than 800 families in need received free food and household items on Wednesday in Hartford.

Feed the Children teamed up with PepsiCo and PriceRite Supermarkets to provide 40 pounds of food for each family in need.

“They are given a good variety of food at a time when the summer school lunch programs are not in effect and when the need is probably among the greatest,” said Nancy Shapiro, the events coordinator for Community Renewal Team, the non-profit group that works with families in need year round.

Hundreds of cars, filled with families, lined up at the distribution area at Xfinity Theatre to receive the free food and household items. Other families, who do not have access to a vehicle, walked.

“Amazing. It helps out when you don’t have anything at home,” said Hope Hanks, who walked from her home in Hartford with her young daughter and son.

More than 100 PepsiCo and PriceRite employees volunteered at the event, many of them just grateful to be a part of helping the community.

“It really just makes a difference, puts a big smile on your face for the rest of the day. So we’re all really excited to be out here and help give back to the community,” said Victoria South, a PepsiCo volunteer.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Teen Who Died in Sweltering Trailer Was US High School Graduate


Two years before he suffocated to death in the sweltering cargo area of a tractor-trailer in Texas, Frank Guisseppe Fuentes graduated from J.E.B. Stuart High School in Falls Church, Virginia.

At least 100 people were found crammed inside a big-rig trailer Sunday morning at a Walmart parking lot in San Antonio, 10 of whom died, including 19-year-old Fuentes. Many more were taken to the hospital to be treated for dehydration and heat stroke.

The driver of the tractor-trailer has been charged with transporting immigrants into the United States illegally. Eight people were found dead inside the broiling truck's trailer and two others died later at local hospitals from extreme dehydration and heatstroke.

Fuentes migrated from Guatemala to the U.S. with his parents when he was just 2 years old, according to the Washington Post.

The Post reports, citing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, that Fuentes had obtained a reprieve from deportation under the Obama-era program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. When his reprieve expired on June 5, 2016, he was denied a renewal because of an assault and battery conviction and was deported earlier this year in February, the agency said.

News about Fuentes' death spread quickly among his former classmates. Friends posted messages of condolences and shared memories on Fuentes' Facebook page.

"Frank learned from his mistakes, but he was robbed at a shot to fulfill his dreams. A broken immigration system within a broken, less than fortunate community. Frank was on his way to receiving an associate's degree at Nova. Do you know the positive impact that would have had on the Fuentes family?" one person wrote.

Another Facebook user, who says she grew up with Fuentes in Northern Virginia, wrote that he "brought so much positivity to so many people," adding that "every time you would tell him there was a problem or something, he would giggle, and he would say we would figure it out.”

CORRECTION (July 26, 12:09 p.m.): An earlier version of this story identified Frank Guisseppe Fuentes as Frank Gonzalez Fuentes. 

Photo Credit: Facebook

Temperatures Climb to 80 Today


High temperatures to start the week didn't make it out of the 60s. Temperatures will be quite warmer today.

Temperatures along the shoreline will reach the mid to upper 70s. Temperatures will be even warmer for inland areas of the state climbing into the low 80s.

Take a look at forecasted high temperatures throughout the state,

The weather becomes a bit more interesting by the end of the week and early weekend. We're monitoring a low pressure system that could come close enough to Connecticut to provide heavy rain and scattered thunderstorms.

Stay with the NBC Connecticut First Alert Weather Team for the latest information on the Friday/Saturday storm threat. 

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

Fire Damages 'Silver Linings Playbook' Diner in Pa.


A kitchen fire forced the iconic Llanerch Diner in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, to temporarily close.

The landmark eatery along Township Line Road in Upper Darby became internationally famous after being featured prominently in the 2012 film "Silvers Linings Playbook" starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.

One of the diner's cooking grills caught fire around 5:30 a.m. Monday. Upper Darby firefighters said it took about 20 minutes to bring the flames under control. No one was hurt.

Firefighters had to open up part of the ceiling to make sure the flames hadn’t extended up there, fire officials said.

A stalwart eatery in Delaware County, locals began competing with fans of the movie who came from around the world to sit in the same booth as the movie's stars. A key scene from "Silver Linings Playbook," which earned Lawrence a Best Actress Academy Award, takes place in Llanerch.

The diner will remain closed for at least a week, pending approval to reopen from the health department, firefighters said.

Photo Credit: The Weinstein Company

Crews Respond for Injured Hiker at Sleeping Giant State Park


Emergency crews have responded to Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden to rescue an injured hiker. 
No additional information was immediately available. 

Emergency crews have responded to Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden to rescue an injured hiker. 

No additional information was immediately available. 

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Employee Crashes Through Wall at Milford Salon: PD


No one was hurt when an employee crashed into a salon on Boston Post Road in Milford Wednesday morning.

The accident happened at the Styles International Salon, located at 952 Boston Post Road, according to Milford police. No injuries were reported.

Police said a salon employee hit the gas instead of the brake.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: Milford Police Department

Police Investigating Homicide in Hartford


Police are investigating a homicide in Hartford.

Police said the homicide happened at 79 Sumner Street and Hartford Major Crimes is at the scene.

No additional information was immediately available.

Anyone with information is asked to call 860-757-4000.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Restaurant Owner Accused of Using ‘Zapper’ to Avoid Taxes


A Milford restaurant owner accused of using “zapper” software to avoid paying more than $80,000 in state sales tax and has been arrested, officials from the state Department of Revenue Services said.

Zappers are a type of commercial “phantom-ware” used to create fraudulent point-of-sale records that deliberately understate taxes actually collected, according to state officials.

Special Agents from the Criminal Investigations Unit arrested Xiaoning Fan, 64 of New Haven, at her restaurant, Lao Sze Chaun, in Milford.

Between 2008 to 2016, she is accused of evading more than $80,000 in state taxes, as well as $60,000 in penalty and interest charges.

This is the first arrest by the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services has made for the use of a “zapper.”

Fan was charged with possession of tax suppression software, first-degree larceny and willful delivery of a false return. 

“This arrest is a big breakthrough for DRS,” Commissioner Kevin B. Sullivan said in a statement. “We have been working with other states to develop our ability to detect and prosecute “zapper” fraud. What began as a routine tax audit became a DRS arrest when our specially trained auditors successfully detected illegal use of sales suppression software from 2008 to 2016 that resulted in over $80,000 of state tax evasion plus an additional $60,000 in penalty and interest charges. At DRS, we continue to step up our game in the fight to stop tax fraud.”

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Revenue Services
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