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Power Out for 200 in New Haven After Pole Fire


Power is out for around 200 United Illuminating customers in New Haven after wires broke, causing a small fire on a utility pole on Middletown Avenue.

Power was out for around 1,200 customers earlier.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Waterbury Man Stole Rims and Tires: Watertown Police


Watertown police have arrested a man accused of stealing rims and tires then trying to sell them online.

The investigation began on July 28, when a Subaru parked for service at a shop on New Wood Road was found up on blocks with the rims and tires stolen. Surveillance video showed a male suspect removing the rims around 2 a.m. and driving off in a Ford Escape.

A few days later investigators spotted the rims and tires for sale on the website Offerup. They were identified based off a mark on one of the rims that the owner had reported.

Watertown detectives arranged to buy the merchandise from the unknown seller in Waterbury.

The seller, later identified as 30-year-old Kristian Rivera, arrived in the same Ford Escape seen on surveillance video, police said.

Rivera was arrested Monday and charged with third-degree larceny. He was issued a $5,000 bond and is due in court on Aug. 15, 2017. He was then turned over to Waterbury police on a warrant out of their city.

Photo Credit: Watertown Police Department

Interactive: How Old Will You Be For the Next Total Eclipse?


A total eclipse is when the moon completely covers the sun, casting a shadow and temporary darkness on Earth. It only occurs along the path of totality, and the last time this path landed in the United States was 1979. Only a few states experienced totality, but a majority of the surrounding states still experienced a partial eclipse. Seeing this state of totality is such a rare occurrence that some consider it a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Photo Credit: NASA
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Man Shot on Pleasant Street in Willimantic


Willimantic police are investigating after a man was shot on Pleasant Street Monday night.

Police said the shooting took place around 9:45 p.m. at 503 Pleasant Street. The victim was taken to the hospital, where he is listed in stable condition.

According to police, this is an isolated incident and there is no danger to the general public. More information was not immediately released.

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Eric Dean at 860-465-3135.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Suspect Accused of Groping Women at CT Post Mall


Milford police have arrested a man on sexual assault charges after a woman reported he grabbed her butt and bumped her with his crotch while she was shopping at the mall.

According to police, they responded to the CT Post Mall around 5:30 p.m. Saturday to speak with the victim. The woman told police that she was shopping at a mall kiosk when a man bumped into her. At first, she didn’t pay much attention, but he bumped into her a second time and grabbed her butt. The woman told police that when she turned around the man bumped her again, this time with his penis.

The victim said that she watched him as he moved away and saw him repeat the behavior with other females. She reported the incident to mall security.

The suspect, identified as Jose Luis Sahagun, was arrested and charged with fourth-degree sexual assault and risk of injury. He was released on a promise to appear after his arraignment and is next due in court on Aug. 29, according to court records.

Photo Credit: Milford Police Department

Quassy Requesting Tax Incentives for Water Slide Project


Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury has requested tax incentives from the town for a multi-million dollar project to build new water slides.

Quassy President Eric Anderson confirms that the park has requested the incentives for a $2.3 million project, which would be the largest investment in the park’s history.

Voters will decide whether to approve the tax incentives. Under Middlebury’s program, Quassy would qualify for a four-year tax abatement, starting at 35 percent and declining each year.

The project includes three new water slides and a new snack bar with a rooftop deck.

Officials said the development of the park will bring in more tax money for the town and create future jobs.

Residents will vote on whether to approve the tax incentives at a town meeting at the Shepardson Community Center at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 21.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Powerball and Mega Millions Jackpots Hit Big Numbers


The jackpots for Powerball and Mega Millions are huge and people across Connecticut are dreaming of winning big.

Manchester Taking Steps to Quell Stench from Landfill


A stink that continues to spread this summer in Manchester is about to be squashed for good. Town officials announced a long-term solution to make sure the trash from the town’s landfill doesn’t carry to residential areas.

Gianna Carmichael of Manchester says the smell was surprisingly the strongest away from the landfill. “I’ve noticed it,” says Carmichael, “and, weirdly enough, the only time I’ve really strongly noticed it was on the highway.”

Tamyra Knighton lives across from the Olcott Street landfill, and worries about the stench affecting her daughter’s health. “She goes outside every morning and says it stinks so, there’s nothing I can really do.”

Manchester town manager Scott Shanley says starting in November, a new, expanded plumbing system will be built inside the landfill to burn the hydrogen sulfide gas causing the smell.

“The idea is to vacuum the gases out of the landfill before they rise into the atmosphere,” says Shanley.

Shanley says according to a recent engineering report, the smell is created by built up layers of trash. Methane burns off at the lower levels where the gas collection wells are, which then destroys the potent hydrogen sulfide gas.

The town has $750,000 in state grant money to create 24 new collection wells this winter, which should suppress the smell.

It’s welcome news for Carmichael. “It’s definitely a good idea, I wouldn’t want to wake up and have to smell that every morning.”

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Dad Fighting to Stay in U.S. Takes Sanctuary in Church


A Meriden father who was supposed to be deported today to Ecuador after spending decades in the United States has sought sanctuary in a New Haven church instead of leaving the country.

Marco Reyes, a father of three and the family's sole provider, learned in July when he reported to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as scheduled, that he would have to leave behind the life he built in Meriden and head back to Ecuador by today.

Reyes is in the church with his family members.

Reyes has been living in Connecticut with his wife and children since 1997 and the problem came in 2007 when the family was vacationing and accidentally crossed into Canada.

Federal immigration authorities apprehended Reyes as they tried to return and supporters said he has been checking in with ICE since 2016.

“There must be fair and effective enforcement of all laws in accordance with due process, which I firmly believe as a former federal prosecutor and state Attorney General. But strong law enforcement must also reflect humane and compassionate values, including the unbreakable bond between a parent and child,” U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said in a statement.

“I am outraged and heartbroken by the arbitrary and callous decision to deport Marco Reyes. His plight today is a symptom of Trump’s cruel and inhumane immigration policies that lack all sense of reason and rationality. Marco is a hardworking father and husband who has called Connecticut home for two decades without any criminal wrongdoing," Blumthenthal said in a statement. "He faces serious threats to his life should he be deported. I will continue to explore all opportunities to assist Marco and his family. I remain committed to comprehensive immigration reform to provide lasting and significant change to this badly broken system.”

Shawn Neudauer, ICE spokesman for the New England area, said a federal immigration judge issued a final order of removal for Reyes in 2009 and Reyes was granted a stay of removal to allow him to pursue legal options in his immigration proceedings but has since exhausted his legal options.

Supporters said the father of three is a valuable member of the community who is also the sole provider for his family.

Officials from First and Summerfield United Methodist Church in New Haven said Reyes took sanctuary there before 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Officials from ICE have said that if Reyes doesn’t comply with the removal order, he'll be considered a fugitive and arrested when encountered, but it is ICE's policy not to apprehend people in sensitive locations like churches unless there are pressing circumstances.

Reyes was supposed to take a one-way trip to Ecuador this morning but sought sanctuary in the church instead of leaving his family behind. 

A news conference is planned for this evening.

Reyes is not the first Connecticut resident to seek refuge in a church while fighting deportation.

Nuvy Chavarria, a mother of four, who left Guatemala in 1993, when she was 19, sought sanctuary at Iglesia De Dios Pentecostal Church in New Haven, and has since been granted a stay that will allow her to remain in the country.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

'Google Manifesto' Fuels Debate on Gender Bias in Tech World


A 10-page document known as the "Google Manifesto" that criticizes the company's diversity practices and says that women aren't suited for engineering jobs is adding further controversy to the debate around gender bias in Silicon Valley, NBC News reported.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the memo violates the company's code of conduct, but also added that minority viewpoints cannot be discounted. NBC News could not independently confirm reports that the author of the report, said to be a Google engineer, was fired.

"I am just kind of tired of it," said former Google engineer Cate Huston. "These things keep happening and the details change but the substantive portion of it is that women shouldn't be engineers are we aren’t welcome."

While Google and other tech companies are making efforts to hire a more diverse workforce, they are still grappling with how to fix a bro culture after a number of headline-grabbing stories this year. Stories of harassment in the tech investment world have led to resignations and, at Uber, at least 20 firings.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, File

DEEP Sponsors Free Fishing License and Saltwater Fishing Day


The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will allow anyone 16 or older to obtain a free one-day fishing license this Saturday, Aug. 12.

This opportunity coincides with the DEEP sponsoring the No Child Left Inside program at the 6th annual Saltwater Fishing Day in New London.

“Free Fishing License Day” permits both residents and non-residents of the state to receive this license to visit any inland or saltwater fishing area in Connecticut.

Those who wish to participate in this opportunity are able to do so by going to the DEEP website or to any official fishing license venue.

According to DEEP Deputy Commissioner Susan Whalen this day will, “connect people with outdoor activities and Connecticut’s natural resources. This day reflects how fishing is much more than catching fish. For many, the quality time spent connecting with friends and family outdoors is priceless.”

For those younger than 16, the Saltwater Fishing Day at Fort Trumbull in New London is part of this initiative by DEEP to get children to experience their environments and search for fish or crabs, and participate in fishing activities while learning various fishing tactics.

This event will take place Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The DEEP and the Connecticut Bureau of Aquaculture have exhibits throughout the state in conjunction with Saturday’s two other events.

More information about where people will be able to take advantage as well as fishing regulations for the state of “Free Fishing License Day” can be found here.

Prison Dog Training Programs Rehabilitate Canines and Cons


When Christy Nielsen was searching for a new dog, she didn’t go to a pet store, or a breeder or even a shelter. Instead, Nielsen found her Pomeranian, Tinker, at the Omaha Correctional Center.

Tinker is one of hundreds of dogs that has been fostered by inmates at the prison as a part of their Canine Compassion program.

“I see the closeness the inmates have with the animals. They really take good care of them,” said Nielsen, an associate director of nursing at the prison.

Across the country, prisons and animal shelters are forming partnerships that put inmates in charge of training unruly dogs, giving both parties a chance at a fresh start. 

Carol Byrnes is a professional animal trainer based in Spokane, Washington. Once a week she volunteers with local shelter Spokanimal, leading obedience classes for inmates and their dogs at Airway Heights Corrections Center.

“A lot of the dogs come from high kill shelters. Sometimes it’s life or death for these dogs that get to come here,” she said.

Byrnes was initially hesitant to get involved, but she developed a passion for the program after seeing the transformative effect it had on participants, both human and canine. For inmates and dogs who start off as distant or hard to reach, “as the program progresses, they open up, they blossom, they gain confidence, they gain social skills and the ability to problem solve and negotiate difficulties,” she said.

Prison animal programs have been gaining traction in recent years, though the first documented account of a dog used for inmate rehabilitation can be traced back to 1925.

The details of each program differ but most follow the same basic guidelines. Dogs with behavioral issues who are not yet ready to be adopted are sent to live in a cell with their caretakers. For up to 16 weeks, the inmates are responsible for walking, feeding and playing with their dogs. Inmates also take part in formal obedience classes, teaching their animals the basic commands like sit and heel. In order to take part in the program, inmates have to exhibit good behavior for at least one year prior.

"I enjoy the challenge of training them. I like having the hard cases,” said Chris Williams, an inmate dog handler at Southern New Mexico State Correctional Facility in Las Cruces.

For Williams, the Prisoners and Animals Working Toward Success program, or PAWS, has provided an incentive to stay on the right path. “I spent most of my time locked up in maximum security before coming to this state. I used to be a big trouble maker and then I got here and got involved in the program and I’ve been doing pretty good,” he said.

Renee Waskiewicz, a hearing officer who oversees PAWS at the prison, said it has helped the inmates correct some of the behaviors that may have landed them in jail in the first place.

“The men in our pods have created so much loss, not only in their lives but in their families’ lives and lots of victims’ lives,” she said. “These dogs have really shown them compassion for other living things. Empathy.”

Kimberly Collica-Cox, associate professor of criminal justice at Pace University in New York, has studied how the symbiotic relationship between humans and dogs can be useful in prisons. Collica-Cox helped develop a program through Pace that uses animal assisted therapy to teach incarcerated mothers better parenting skills.

“What we find is that dogs can trigger feelings of safety in humans, which will allow them to sort of open up and communicate more, which can be very helpful in a correctional setting,” she said, adding that there’s a great deal of research to support these findings.

One study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine showed that human-animal interactions can actually lead to lower blood pressure and heart rate, two physiological indicators of stress. Psychologists studying a prison-based animal program in the UK concluded that working with animals helped inmates develop a deeper sense of responsibility and trust. This resulted in enhanced communications between peers as well as with staff.

Since they started bringing dogs from the Monterey County ASPCA into Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad, California, Lt. David Lopez said he’s seen a significant decrease in conflicts. “There’s a lot less incidences, a lot less crime and a lot of inmates are trying to stay out of trouble so they can meet the prerequisites to become an inmate dog handler,” he said. “The dogs have brought humanity into this prison setting.”

Although working with the dogs can be difficult at times, for Justin Chinn, an inmate at the Omaha Correctional Center, saying goodbye is always the hardest part. Even though it’s been nearly two years since they parted ways, Chinn said he still misses the first dog he ever trained, a black lab named Maisy.

“She was a handful. It was tough with her but after about a week it was wonderful,” he said. “It felt good to know that I brought out the good in the dog and she brought out the good in me. And to know that she went to a good home with kids. She’s living a good life.”

Photo Credit: AP
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Wine Festival Celebrating Connecticut’s Vineyards Kicks Off This Weekend


The 11th annual Shoreline Wine Festival will take place this Saturday and Sunday at Bishop’s Orchards Farm Market and Winery in Guilford. 

In honor of celebrating the various wineries and vineyards throughout the state, this event will allow visitors to sample several wines the state offers along with different food from the shoreline area. 

The festival will feature wine that ranges from grape wines to fruit wines and everything in between offered by the various vineyards and wineries from the state. 

Attendees will be able to tour Bishop’s Orchards’ Winery, meet vendors and artisans, and enjoy live music while sampling choosing from a wide array of food trucks to pair with the wine. 

Tickets for the event are $35 per person, or $70 for VIP and can only be used for one of the two days—these can be purchased online or at the festival. 

This event kicks off Saturday, August 12, from noon to at 7 p.m., and continues Sunday, August 13, from noon to 6 p.m. 

More information about the event can be found on the Shoreline Wine Festival website.

Photo Credit: ASAblanca via Getty Images

Woman Stole Gun, $80K Worth of Jewelry: Police


A 24-year-old woman has been arrested in connection with a burglary at a North Haven home and is accused of stealing more than $80,000 worth of jewelry and a semi-automatic handgun.

Police said the burglary happened in February 2017 on Summer Lane and the gun was removed from a safe in the residence.

Alexandria Highsmith, who lives in North Haven and Branford, has been charged with first-degree larceny and theft of a firearm.

She will be arraigned Tuesday in Meriden Superior Court.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Had Machete in Car at Quinnipiac University: Police


A Hamden man was arrested Friday night after he was found with a machete in a vehicle at Quinnipiac University, according to police. 

Police said they responded to Quinnipiac University, at 305 Sherman Avenue, around 5:30 p.m. Friday after a public safety officer found two people in a parked motor vehicle, near an access road and a machete inside the car, police said. 

Police determined that the passenger, 45-year-old Simon Nieves Jr. owned the machete and charged him with possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle. 

He was released after posting a $500.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Shooting Suspect in Custody After Leading Cops on Car Chase


A shooting suspect led Hartford police on a chase that ended in a crash on Sigourney Street near the Interstate 84 ramps Tuesday afternoon.

Sigourney Street is currently closed in the area. Police said the suspect was taken into custody and a gun was recovered at the scene.

Police are actively investigating and the road should be closed for around half an hour, officials said.

Details about the shooting incident and the suspect’s identity were not immediately available.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: Hartford Police Department

Former Yale-New Haven Hospital Employee Sentenced to 4 Years in Identity Theft Case


A 37-year-old former Yale-New Haven Hospital employee has been sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to charges connected to an identity fraud and identity case that authorities said affected more than 30 people.

According to court documents, Jamila Williams-Stevenson, 37, of West Haven, worked with Lorena Coburn between 2012 and July 2016to steal people's information, which included patients at Yale-New Haven Hospital where Williams-Stevenson worked as a care companion.

Between 2012 and July 2016, Jamila Williams-Stevenson, 37, of West Haven, and Lorena Coburn worked together to steal personal identifying information from victims, including patients, and commit fraud using the stolen information, according to federal officials. 

As part of their scheme, Williams-Stevenson and Coburn changed their victims’ addresses through the post office and took over their mail so they could steal their checks, make counterfeit checks and open bank accounts in the names of their victims.

They even took out a life insurance policy in the name of one of their victims for $75,000. When authorities seized Williams-Stevenson’s iPhone, they found text messages with Coburn discussing how they might be able to cause the death of the victim and make it look like an accident to collect on the life insurance policy, authorities said. 

The father of one victim said his daughter was a patient at Yale-New Haven Hospital at the time it happened.

“They had called me and wanted me to be her beneficiary for some reason in case something happened, so that’s how they got it,” he said, sxplaining that during the phone call he handed over his and his daughter’s personal information. 

Williams-Stevenson was arrested on July 21, 2016, and investigators said they found more than 200 credit and debit cards in the names of various identity theft victims while searching her house and a storage unit. She was sentenced on Tuesday.

Judge Bolden ordered Williams-Stevenson to pay restitution of $53,365.37 to financial institutions and a university that suffered financial losses.

On Dec. 12, she pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.

Coburn, of West Haven, pleaded guilty to the same charges on Nov. 30 and was released on a $100,000 bond pending sentencing.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Daytime Burglaries On the Rise in Guilford: Police


Police in Guilford continue to caution homeowners to take precautions after an uptick in break-ins over the past several weeks.

Investigators said there’s been an increase in burglaries since June 30. 

Police said the suspect, or suspects, struck in the middle of the day when no one was home. Police said on Aug. 5 that they were investigating at least seven incidents, and issued a second warning on Tuesday after more burglaries were reported. It does not appear that one neighborhood was targeted – the homes that were hit were scattered throughout the town.

Residents that spoke to NBC Connecticut said that this alert from police is unusual.

“I’m very surprised because I think it’s a pretty safe place to live,” said resident Lois Creighton.

Officers are reminding homeowners to take precautions before they leave, including making sure to close and lock all windows and doors, and to activate any alarm systems on the way out.

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

Teen Charged in Fatal Hartford Hit-and-Run Appears in Court


A Hartford teen charged with manslaughter in a hit-and-run crash that killed a woman made his first court appearance in the case today.

Police say 18-year old Deykevious Russaw stole an SUV and plowed into a bus stop, killing 56-year-old Rosella Shuler and injuring a man.

The hearing started with a debate over whether Deykevious Russaw should be tried as an adult. The incident occurred on his 18th birthday, but his lawyer argued that it might have happened before the actual time of his birth. The judge disagreed, siding with the state’s attorney who said this case has no business in juvenile court.

“There is no doubt,” said State’s Attorney Gail Hardy. “We would have been seeking to charge Deykevious Russaw as an adult in this case.”

Authorities say Russaw stole a Toyota Highlander SUV from West Hartford on July 18. Later that day, police say a surveillance camera on a school bus captured him getting into an argument with the bus driver after he opened the SUV door in the bus’s path on Sigourney Street. Frustrated, police say the video shows him speed off, lose control, and plow through a Hartford bus stop.

Shuler’s daughter, Jessica Vazquez, also attended the hearing and told NBC Connecticut she plans to see the whole case through.

“She was a good person and she was a good person to her community,” Vazquez said of her mother.

“I want my mom to be able to get her justice, that’s all.”

According to court documents, Russaw admitted to police in a sworn statement that he was the operator of the vehicle that ultimately killed Shuler, which was full of teenagers. He said he ran from the scene because he didn’t want to get in trouble. Five other teens also fled from the vehicle. No other arrests have been made.

“People if you’re out there. If you know the other five, just come forward,” Vazquez said.

This was actually Russaw’s second court appearance of the day. The state’s attorney said he came before a judge earlier for a homicide case. A source close to that investigation tells NBC Connecticut that Russaw was charged as a juvenile for shooting and killing a 63-year old Hartford man in a Westland Street park two days before the stolen car incident. His bond for both cases totals $2.5 million.

Russaw is due to reappear in court on Aug. 17 in both cases. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut/CT Department of Correction

Woman Sold Heroin to Torrington Man Who Fatally OD'd: Police


A woman was arrested for allegedly selling heroin to a Torrington man who fatally overdosed in May, police said.

Crystal Mahoney, 33, faces charges that include the sale of narcotics after her arrest on Tuesday. 

After a lengthy investigation, police said Mahoney sold heroin to 24-year-old Josh Buyak that was associated with his untimely death on May 11, 2017. 

Mahoney's bond was set at $150,000. 

Photo Credit: Torrington Police
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