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Police Investigate Untimely Death in Vernon

Pentagon Asks White House to Give Weapons to Ukraine


A recommendation to send high-tech tank-killing weapons to Ukraine to help in its fight against Russia is now at the White House, three U.S. officials told NBC News.

The officials said a proposed aid package includes Javelin anti-tank missiles with an estimated cost of about $50 million. 

"It is the right move and I see the fingerprints of Secretary of Defense Mattis all over it," Ret. Adm. James Stavridis, former NATO commander told NBC News.

Russia invaded and annexed the Crimea in 2014 and continues to support pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. The proposal for providing weapons to Ukraine comes amid tension between the White House and Congress over how to respond to Russian interference in the 2016 election, and an investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. President Trump signed a bill imposing sanctions on Russia for its cyberhacking and its actions in Ukraine but complained that it harmed relations.

While the three officials said no final decision has been made on providing the weapons, they agreed that the Pentagon is in favor of the move.

Man Killed in Hartford Shooting Early Saturday


Hartford police are investigating after a man was shot and killed on Edgewood Street early Saturday morning.

A man was shot in the shoulder and neck just before 3 a.m., according to police.

He was found in a car that had crashed into a parked vehicle, police said.  A second vehicle may have been involved, they said.

The victim was taken to the hospital where he died a few hours later.  Police do not yet know the victim's identity.

As officers were at the scene investigating, they heard more gunshots at the end of the street. No one in that shooting was hurt. It is not clear if that shooting was related to the original incident.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Missing Brother and Sister Found Safe


A brother and sister missing from Bridgeport have been found safe.

A Silver Alert was issued for 6-year-old Darwin Perez and 12-year-old Catherine Perez early Saturday morning

The pair was believed to have run away from home around 7 p.m. Friday night, according to a spokesperson for the city.

They were found safe on Saturday, the spokesperson said.

Photo Credit: Bridgeport Police

Daytime Burglaries On the Rise in Guilford: Police


Guilford police are warning residents about an increase in daytime burglaries in town.

At least seven homes have been burglarized since the end of June, according to police. All of the burglaries took place during the day when residents were not home.

The burglaries were all over town and not concentrated in one area, police said.

Police ask that homeowners make sure their doors and windows are closed and locked before leaving home.

Anyone who witnesses suspicious activity in their neighborhood is asked to call police at 203-453-8061.

Photo Credit: UIG via Getty Images

Congress Leaves Town Exhausted, Unsuccessful and Frustrated


Congress is ready for a break.

For Republicans, 2017 was supposed to be a year of winning, as then-candidate Donald Trump often said, for an ambitious legislative agenda on Capitol Hill. Seven months in, it hasn't worked out the way they envisioned, NBC News reported.

Republican leaders have failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, they are behind schedule on tax reform and they haven't even broached plans to boost the nation's infrastructure — three of their top legislative priorities.

Now they are leaving town for their annual August recess, feeling frustrated, exhausted and disappointed that a rare opportunity to pass their agenda is being squandered. They have control of Congress and the White House but little to show for it so far.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File

3 Marines Missing After Aircraft Crash Off Australian Coast


Three U.S. Marines were missing Saturday after their aircraft crashed into the sea off the east coast of Australia, the United States Marine Corps said.

Twenty-three of the 26 personnel aboard the Osprey heli-plane have been rescued, NBC News reported.

The aircraft was conducting regularly scheduled operations when it crashed into the sea. Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne said Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had been briefed on the situation and had spoken with U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

Vessels and aircraft from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group are taking part in the rescue operation.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File

9-Year-Old 'Guardian of the Galaxy' Applies for NASA Job


A self-proclaimed "Guardian of the Galaxy" received an out of this world response from NASA after applying for a position with the space agency.

This week, 9-year-old Jack Davis of New Jersey wrote a letter to NASA to apply for planetary protection officer, a position that has been around since the 1960s.

"My name is Jack Davis and I would like to apply for the planetary protection officer job," the fourth-grader wrote in a letter. "I may be nine, but I think I would be fit for the job."

Davis also listed a few of his qualifications for the open position, one of them being that his sister calls him an alien.

"I have seen almost all the space and alien movies I can see," he explained. "I have also seen the show Marvel Agents of Shield and hope to see the movie Men in Black."

NASA replied to the letter and Davis even got a call from Planetary Research Director Jonathan Rall.

In the letter, the space agency congratulated Davis on his interest and gave him a brief description of the position.

"It's about protecting Earth from tiny microbes when we bring back samples from the Moon, asteroids and Mars. It's also about protecting other planets and moons from our germs as we responsibly explore the Solar System," Dr. James L Green, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division, wrote.

Green also wrote that he hopes Davis continues to study and do well in school, and hopes to see him at NASA in the future. 

Photo Credit: NASA

Police Officer Charged After Off-Duty Pursuit


A Danbury police officer has been arrested and charged with reckless driving for using his personal vehicle to chase a stolen SUV, according to state police.

Officer Jamie Hodge was in uniform while working a private duty job on December 1, 2016 when he noticed what he believed to be a stolen vehicle.

According to a state police investigator, Hodge jumped in his Chevy Tahoe and followed the stolen SUV at a high rate of speed before losing site of it.

The stolen SUV hit a utility pole on Mountainville Road and rolled over several times. A passenger in the SUV, 26-year-old Tiffany Fitzgerald, was ejected and later died from her injuries.

The driver, 33-year-old Ricardo Andre, was not seriously injured.

After a months-long investigation, state police determined Hodge endangered the lives of others by driving recklessly while pursuing the stolen SUV.

He was arrested on Friday.

State police said they plan additional charges against Andre for his role in the incident.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

Man Drove Through Construction Zone While Drunk: Police


A Manchester man was charged with driving under the influence and entering a traffic zone.

Police said 50-year-old Wayne Smith drove into a construction zone that was blocked off by cones on I-84 in Hartford on Friday. A trooper attempted to stop his car but Smith ignored the cruiser’s lights and siren and continued to drive through the pattern while passing construction workers, according to police.

Police said when His car came to a stop, Smith failed a sobriety test and was placed under arrest.

Smith was released on a $1,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in Hartford Superior Court on August 28.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

'Barack Obama Day' Is Now an Illinois Holiday


Former President Barack Obama got a special treat for his birthday this year - his very own holiday.

Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law Friday a measure to designate Aug. 4 as "Barack Obama Day" across Illinois.

The newest state holiday will be celebrated each year on the 44th president's birthday, beginning in 2018.

The holiday will be "observed throughout the State as a day set apart to honor the 44th President of the United States of America who began his career serving the People of Illinois in both the Illinois State Senate and the United States Senate, and dedicated his life to protecting the rights of Americans and building bridges across communities," Senate Bill 55 reads. 

While several lawmakers abstained from voting on the measure, it passed both houses earlier this year without a single vote against.

SB 55 was introduced by Sen. Emil Jones III, the son of former Senate President Emil Jones, Jr., who played a major role in launching then-state Senator Obama to the U.S. Senate in 2004 and considers himself to be the former president’s political "godfather."

"Barack Obama Day" joins other commemorative holidays like Adlai Stevenson Day, Ronald Reagan Day and Jane Addams Day, for which workplaces do not close. 

Democrats' efforts to make Obama’s birthday a legal state holiday – during which schools and state offices would close, while banks and businesses could, but would not be required to close – stalled after some lawmakers voiced concern that other Illinois presidents, like Reagan, do not have similar holidays.

Republicans, including Rauner, also noted the economic cost of closing state buildings on the holiday, and the impact of workers having the day off.

"It's incredibly proud for Illinois that the president came from Illinois. I think it's awesome, and I think we should celebrate it," Rauner told reporters in February. "I don't think it should be a formal holiday with paid, forced time off, but I think it should be a day of acknowledgment and celebration."

Legislators also voted in July to rename part of a Chicago-area highway after their former colleague, designating the stretch of Interstate 55 from the Tri-State Tollway south to mile marker 202 near Pontiac as the "Barack Obama Presidential Expressway."

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File

Emergency Crews Respond to a Car Into River in New Milford


Emergency crews are responding to a car that went into the Housatonic River on Grove Street in New Milford. 

According to police, all of the occupants are out of the car, although it is unknown if there were any injuries. 

No other details were made immediately available, the incident is still being investigated. 

We will update this story as more information becomes available. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

10 Injured During 'Severe Turbulence' Aboard AA Flight to Pa.


Ten people were injured after an American Airlines flight from Athens, Greece, experienced "severe turbulence" prior to landing at Philadelphia International Airport Saturday.

Three passengers and seven crew members were taken to the hospital upon landing, American Airlines said in a statement. The fasten seatbelt sign was on at the time of the turbulence, according to the airline.

American Airlines flight 759 from Athens to Philadelphia landed safely at 3:10 p.m. after the FAA said the crew reported the turbulence while flying over the North Atlantic Ocean.

"We are taking care of our passengers and our crew members at this time and want to thank our team members for keeping our passengers safe," the statement read.

There was no word on the severity of injuries suffered, but American Airlines reported those going to the hospital were transported "for evaluation."

Photo Credit: NBC10

Power Outage at UConn Storrs Leaves Large Number of Buildings Without Power


A power outage has left a large number of buildings on the Uconn Storrs campus without power. 

School officials reported the outage around 8:50 p.m. Saturday night. 

Uconn tells NBC Connecticut, Eversource crews are currently on scene working to restore power, but there is not an estimated time frame of when the problem will be resolved. 

Students are not set to move in on campus until August 25. 

The cause of the outage was not made immediately clear. 

We will update this story as more information becomes available. 

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

FBI Investigates Bomb Blast That Shook Minn. Mosque


An explosion from a bomb rattled a suburban Minneapolis mosque early Saturday morning, authorities said. There were no injuries, but a room in the building was damaged and worshipers were shaken.

The blast at Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington happened just after 5 a.m. local time as the mosque was preparing for Fajr, or the early-morning prayer, the Muslim American Society of Minnesota said.

"Someone threw an explosive device and started a fire in the office of the Imam and President of the mosque," the society said. "The attendees put out the fire."

The FBI has taken over the investigation and Minneapolis special agent in charge Rick Thornton told reporters that the blast was from an improvised explosive device.

Photo Credit: KARE

Swimming Area Closed at Kettletown State Park Due to Algae


The swim area at Kettletown State Park in Southbury is closed due to the presence of blue-green algae in the water, according to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

DEEP officials said the toxic algae blooms started appearing late last week. A warning was posted Friday warning swimming to stay away from areas with a greenish film on the water’s surface, and DEEP made the decision to completely close the swimming area Sunday.

Blue-green algae blooms are naturally-occurring phenomena caused by nutrient loading and high temperatures. The algae blooms release toxins that can be harmful to humans and pets, causing skin irritation, breathing problems, and gastroenteritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Swimming will remain closed until the condition clears up.

There is also a warning out for the algae at Indian Well State Park in Shelton, but the swim area at that location remains open.

Five state swimming areas were closed Friday after routine testing showed high levels of bacteria. Those areas are Gardner Lake State Park in Salem, Gay City State Park in Hebron, Mashamoquet Brook State Park in Pomfret, Quaddick State Park in Thompson, and Wadsworth Falls State Park in Wallingford.

The other areas of the parks remain open for recreation.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

'U Drive. U Text. U Pay.' Cracks Down on Distracted Driving


Put your phone down while driving!

That’s the warning from police who are beefing up patrols looking for distracted drivers across the state.

Police departments across the state are participating in the “U DRIVE. U TEXT. U PAY.” campaign.

People caught with a phone in their hand while behind the wheel can face a stiff fine. The effort is already seeing results.

Officer Kwanza Clayton patrols East Hartford streets and he says one of the biggest dangers is other drivers.

“I have seen a lot of accidents, fatal also that came from people actually on their phones and texting,” Clayton said.

His department joined about 50 others in the state in the campaign.

Starting last Wednesday and lasting for two weeks, extra patrols will look for distracted drivers.

And pretty quickly Clayton, who is working with a partner, pulled someone over.

“We had a spotter down there that actually saw you,” Clayton said.

One man claimed he was not on his phone. Soon after another driver who was pulled over tried to explain that officers mistook his wrist guard for a phone.

But Clayton was confident of what his spotter saw.

Both drivers received tickets though were reminded they can fight them later.

“We get that a lot. We understand. And people will try anything to get themselves out of a ticket,” Clayton said.

Tickets start at $150 for drivers caught talking, texting or otherwise using their hand-held cell phone.

Officers hope the potential cost and danger encourages people to do the right thing.

“Pull over to a safe spot and answer the text, answer their phone call. So that way that one second that it takes, you know to do that, it could save yourself, save other people that are around you,” Clayton said.

This was a two-part campaign. During the first stretch back in April officers handed out nearly 12,000 citations. This part wraps up on August 16.

Photo Credit: NBC 7

Walnut Beach Ice Cream Race Raises Funds for Kids' Programs


Today, runners in Milford laced up for the annual Walnut Beach Ice Cream Race to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Milford.

For a decade, kids and their parents have laced up to race in Walnut Beach Park, through Silver Sands and along the boardwalk.

“It was just so beautiful down by the beach and stuff it’s just gorgeous,” said Susan Prosnick of Shelton.

The annual Walnut Beach Ice Cream Run raises money for after school and summer programs at the Boys and Girls Club of Milford. Their goal at this race: $20,000.

“We serve over 500 kids a year and the money definitely is put to good use and we try to keep the fees very low for families so there’s nothing for them to have worry about and it’s just a fun safe place for kids to go every day,” explained Megan Altomare of the Milford Boys and Girls Club.

Participants had a sweet incentive to cross the finish line: free ice cream at the end of the race.

Walnut Beach Creamery dished out nearly a dozen different flavors to those wearing a race bib.

While the tasty treat was certainly a draw, the Falcon family’s reason to run was bittersweet.

“A good friend of my husband’s, he actually was a coach of the Boys and Girls Club years ago and so we’re running in memory of him,” said Delia Falcon of Hamden.

Officer Michael Compare was remembered before the race began. Susan Prosnick is a marathon runner, but this fun run was a chance to support a cause close to her heart.

“My son actually goes to the boys and girls club so it’s like helping that as well, so I’m very excited about that too,” Prosnick said.

While an ice cream bowl trophy awaited the first person over the finish line, the kids were the real winners of this race. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Pence Denies Report That He’s Prepping for 2020


Vice President Mike Pence blasted the claim that he, along with top aides, will run a 2020 shadow presidential campaign, NBC News reported.

He called it "disgraceful and offensive" and "laughable and absurd."

The New York Times reported Sunday that key Pence aides have told major Republican donors that Pence would be prepared to run for president in 2020 if President Donald Trump does not.

"Today’s article in the New York Times is disgraceful and offensive to me, my family, and our entire team," Pence wrote in a sharply-worded denial on Sunday. "The allegations in this article are categorically false and represent just the latest attempt by the media to divide this Administration."

Photo Credit: Chris Kleponis - Pool/Getty Images, File

Chicago Sues DOJ Over Move to Deny Funds to Sanctuary Cities


Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Sunday that the City of Chicago will file a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice over efforts to cut funding to sanctuary cities.

"Chicago will not be blackmailed into changing our values, and we are and will remain a welcoming city," Emanuel said in a release.

"The federal government should be working with cities to provide necessary resources to improve public safety, not concocting new schemes to reduce our crime fighting resources," he continued. "The City of Chicago will continue to stand up to President Trump and his Justice Department to ensure that their misguided policies do not threaten the safety of our residents."

The mayor announced the lawsuit during a news conference at City Hall alongside legal advisor and head of the City’s Law Department Ed Siskel, as well as Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who highlighted the importance of federal resources in combatting the city's violence. 

The Justice Department released its application for the 2017 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) on Thursday, a program Emanuel said Chicago has used in the past for various public safety initiatives, including the purchase of SWAT equipment, police vehicles, radios and tasers. Last year, the City received $2.3 million in Byrne JAG funding, according to the mayor.

However, this year’s application includes provisions requiring local governments to allow the U.S. Department of Homeland Security access to any detention facility to meet with and inquire about the citizenship of anyone believed to be undocumented, and to give federal authorities 48 hours advance notice before releasing someone who is wanted on immigration violations, as conditions to receive funding – both changes in the program’s requirements from years past.

The City's lawsuit will argue that the Justice Department cannot make grants contingent on these requirements because they would "effectively federalize local detention facilities" and violate the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in requiring detainees to be held beyond the timeframe in which they would otherwise be eligible for release.

The DOJ's shift in requirements is part of President Donald Trump’s administration’s efforts to crack down on sanctuary cities, the term used for jurisdictions that do not comply with federal requests to detain undocumented immigrants who have been arrested on charges unrelated to their immigration status and turn them over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for possible deportation.

Trump signed an executive order in January to block federal grants to sanctuary cities, an action that a judge blocked in April, ruling that the president could not set new conditions on spending approved by Congress - an argument included in the City of Chicago's lawsuit. 

However, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has moved to intensify the crackdown on a number of occasions, most recently sending letters to four cities informing them they would be ineligible to receive resources under a new crime-fighting program unless their police departments show proof of compliance with the DOJ’s new rules.

In March, Sessions said sanctuary cities' policies are "designed to frustrate the enforcement of our immigration laws" – a claim that Emanuel has refuted, repeatedly defending Chicago’s "Welcoming City" ordinance.

"Chicago’s Welcoming City ordinance promotes public safety by ensuring that no city resident, regardless of their status, is afraid to cooperate with law enforcement, report criminal activity to the police, serve as a witness in court, or seek help as a victim of crime," a spokesman for Emanuel said in a statement.

 "I've always seen Chicago as a welcoming city," Emanuel said in response to Sessions' comments in March.

"It welcomed my grandfather 100 years ago, we continue to welcome entrepreneurs, immigrants, and I would just say think of it this way: Half the new businesses in Chicago and the state of Illinois come from immigrants, nearly half," he added. "Half the patents at the University of Illinois come from immigrants, and so we want to continue to welcome people, welcome their ideas, welcome their families to the city of Chicago, who want to build the American dream for their children and their grandchildren."

"Chicago was built on the back of immigrants and our future is hitched to the wagon of immigrants who come to the city," Emanuel continued. "I would say that the approach of penalizing cities, cities that are driving the economy, driving the energy of the United States – and they do it because we bring people of all different backgrounds to work together – that's just the wrong approach."

Chicago is not alone in its immigration policies, as more than 200 jurisdictions nationwide have declared sanctuary status, including New York City, Los Angeles and more, with some expected to follow Chicago in filing suit. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File
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