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Police Identify Mother of 2-Year-Old Found Wandering Alone


Hartford police are investigating after a 2-year-old girl was found wandering alone in her pajamas and flip flops on Shultas Place Wednesday.

Hartford police Deputy Chief Brian Foley said a neighbor spotted the little girl around 8:45 a.m. Wednesday, went outside after realizing that she was unaccompanied and called police.

Police went door-to-door searching for the child’s parents and eventually received a phone call from the child’s mother. She told police she saw the news on Facebook live and realized it was her street and her child.

The mother, who works as a professional at a local hospital, told police she left the child in the care of an aunt in an apartment. Police said that there was a miscommunication between the aunt and another person about who was responsible for watching the child, and the girl wandered outside, where she was eventually found.

The child is safe, healthy and with Department of Children and Families, Foley said. DCF and Hartford police will conduct a follow-up investigation to ensure that the family situation is in order, but it does not appear this incident was criminal in nature.

The girl will be reunited with her family.

Photo Credit: Hartford Police Department

April Death of 3-Year-Old in Stafford Ruled Homicide: OCME


The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has ruled the death of a 3-year-old from Stafford in April a homicide.

State police said that troopers responded to a home on Old Birch Road around 10:50 a.m. on April 22 for a medical call. A 3-year-old boy, later identified as Leon Lapierre, died.

The cause of death has been ruled acute methadone intoxication and the method has been ruled a homicide.

The investigation is ongoing.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Woman Dragged as Suspect Steals Truck in New London: NLFD


A woman was dragged as someone stole her pick-up truck in New London on Wednesday, the fire department said. 

The 43-year-old woman was loading a table into the back of her pick-up truck in front of Homegoods on North Frontage Road, New London Fire Battalion Chief Edward Sargent said. 

While she was loading her truck, someone got into the driver's seat and took off. The victim was dragged a few feet from the truck and fell, Sargent said. 

The woman transported to Lawerence +Memorial with non-life threatening injuries.

The stolen truck has not been recovered and police are investigating. A search for the suspect is underway.

This is a developing story and will be updated as we get more information.

'Ashamed of Our President': Internal Memo From Aetna CEO


An internal memo sent to employees by Aetna's CEO about the racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, has been obtained by CNBC.

The memo begins with a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. before Mark Bertolini writes, "I can’t help but comment on the current national dialogue surrounding the deplorable violence in Charlottesville."

Bertolini said he is "pleased" to see so many leaders rejecting "racial bigotry, anti-Semitism and hatred of all forms."

"I am ashamed of our president's behavior and comments," the CEO wrote. 

The leader of one of the largest health insurance companies ended the memo by saying his mission is to build a healthier world and remain committed these values. 

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump abolished two White House business councils after a growing number of business leaders resigned from the advisory panels following the president's comments on the violence in Charlottesville.

Find the full memo below:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dear Colleagues:

I can’t help but comment on the current national dialogue surrounding the deplorable violence in Charlottesville. I strongly agree with the remarks of former Presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush who stated: “America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred of all forms.” I am pleased that many other political leaders from both parties have expressed similarly strong statements – and I am ashamed of our President’s behavior and comments.

We all breathe the same air, we all want the same thing for our children’s future, and we all aspire for the pursuit of happiness and good health for our families and friends. We are not a country of hate, and we are all judged by our own god based on the compassion and humanity we show others.

I hope that each of us takes time to discuss with our family and friends the responsibility we all share, every day, to live up to the values that have made our nation so great – those of tolerance and respect for others. We are a great nation because of our diversity which fosters sharing of ideas and experiences. Our country is not perfect, but it is more tolerant than any other nation I know. We can only remain great if we remain intolerant of hate.

We as a company can only succeed in our mission to build a healthier world if we remain committed to these same values and behaviors. By doing so, each of us can reinforce the bonds of inclusion and tolerance that strengthen our company, our communities, and our nation.


Photo Credit: AP

Tree Limb Falls, Hits Woman at City Hall Park


A large tree limb broke and fell at City Hall Park in downtown Manhattan Wednesday afternoon, hitting an elderly woman underneath -- the second time in as many days someone has been hit by a tree in a city park. 

Witness Rad Rabi says people were sitting on park benches under the tree at the park when it cracked, but were able to get out of the way in time. The elderly woman wasn't able to escape, and the limb hit her on the leg.

"I was amazed. I was scared because this could happen to anybody sitting on the bench or walking," said Rabi. 

The FDNY says the woman was evaluated on scene but she declined further medical aid. 

Councilman Mark Levine says more tree inspections and maintenance need to be done across the city. He's advocated for a seven-year tree pruning cycle along city streets and secured $2.7 million earlier this year for the operation -- but after a massive tree fell in Central Park Tuesday, Levine now wants similar regulation of trees within city parks. 

"Central Park, unlike the rest of the city, has private resources to pay for world-class tree care. But even there, trees can still fall when they are getting the best care," he said. 

"So there's no fail-safe solution but we're really exposed if we are not doing some sort of regular inspection," he said. 

The parks department says it's looking into the downed tree limb at City Hall Park. 

The mother in Central Park's tree accident was hospitalized in critical condition and was continuing to recover Wednesday. 

Photo Credit: NBC 4 NY

Military Leaders Denounce Hatred After Charlottesville


Four top U.S. military officers condemned bigotry following the white-nationalist led protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, even as President Donald Trump reverted to his initial position of blaming both sides for violence there.

Their comments appear to stray from those of Trump, who said the “alt-left” should also be held accountable.

“The shameful events in Charlottesville are unacceptable and must not be tolerated,” wrote Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson in a Facebook post on Saturday. “The Navy will forever stand against intolerance and hatred.”

Following Trump’s impromptu news conference Tuesday, in which he doubled down on previous statements placing the blame “on many sides,” officials from the Marine Corps, Army and Air Force released statements.

“[There is] no place for racial hatred or extremism in [the U.S. Marine Corps,]” Commandant of the Marines, Robert B. Neller, tweeted on Tuesday.

On Wednesday the Army chief of staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, tweeted “The Army doesn’t tolerate racism, extremism, or hatred in our ranks.”

Later in the day, the chief of staff for the Air Force, Gen. Dave Goldfein, issued a statement in solidarity with his fellow service chiefs via Twitter: “We’re always stronger together.”

Jason Dempsey, an adjunct senior fellow for the Center for a New American Security, said that past difficulties combatting white-nationalism within the military ranks may be what caused the leaders to speak up.

“The U.S. military had a significant problem with white supremacists and Neo-Nazis in the late '80s, early '90s,” he said. “It was all codified that you cannot belong to these groups. You cannot espouse their views, you can’t say you’re a member.”

Since Saturday, it’s been revealed that two members of Vanguard America, one of the extremist groups involved in this weekend’s violent clashes, have links to the military.

One of those men was James A. Fields, who was accused of killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer when he drove his car into a crowd of counter-protestors.

“James Alex Fields reported for basic military training in August of 2015,” Army Lt. Col. Jennifer Johnson stated in an email. “He was, however, released from active duty due to a failure to meet training standards in December of 2015.”

Dillon Ulysses Hopper, the alleged leader of Vanguard America, was identified by news website Splinter as a veteran and former Marine recruiter. A representative from Vanguard America told Splinter that Hopper became a white supremacist in 2012, one year after he started working as a recruiter. Several other news outlets including CNN, later reported that according to Hopper's service records, he was a member of the Marine Corps from 2006 until 2017. 

Dempsey said the statements from the military leaders were most likely made in an attempt to reaffirm the military’s commitment to their rules barring hate groups and send a strong message to subordinates about what type of behavior is appropriate.

“None of them would directly go against the President just to go against the president, because that’s not the way the military was built,” said Dempsey, a combat veteran who previously served as a special assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “The chiefs were walking a very fine line but they saw a threat to the force.”

In a post-draft era, promoting acceptance and tolerance has become more of a priority for the military.

“For the first time since World War II, the military has to think about ‘What does our image look like? How are we going to recruit? How do we make sure we have a broad enough talent pool?’” Dempsey said.

Photo Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

CT Pastor Recalls Experience at White Nationalist Rally


What Pastor Anthony Bennett from Bridgeport witnessed in Charlottesville last weekend is a reminder that racism and white supremacy are real and not an illusion in the United States, he told NBC Connecticut in his first interview since returning home.

"Ultimately, Charlottesville became another platform, another manifestation," Bennett said. "But it could happen anywhere in the country including here in Connecticut, including here in Bridgeport."

Bennett, who is the pastor of the Mount Aery Baptist Church, arrived in Charlottesville on Friday afternoon after answering a call for clergy from around the country to travel to Virginia to counter-protest the white nationalist rally. In the evening, he attended an interfaith service.

"We could not leave the sanctuary," Bennett said. "Because the white nationalists, the men and some women, white, had the torches and they were near the front of the sanctuary."

The next day Bennett said he could hear their chants more clearly.

"Jews will not replace us, blacks will not replace us, immigrants will not replace us," Bennett said, recalling the chants he heard on Saturday.

The armed white supremacist demonstrators are to blame for the violence, Bennett told NBC Connecticut. He recalled police not reacting quickly enough as the clashes intensified.

"We all yelled, you got to do something because literally, blood was coming out of the face, the mouths of some of the counter protestors," Bennett said.

Contrary to his scripted statement on Monday, President Donald Trump "went rouge," according to a senior White House official when he spoke about the unrest in Charlottesville on Tuesday while answering reporters’ questions.

"The other group didn't have a permit so I only tell you this there are two sides to a story," Trump said. "I thought what took place was a horrible moment for our country, a horrible moment. But there are two sides to the country."

Senator Richard Blumenthal said Wednesday there is, "no moral equivalence" between the white nationalist and the counter-protesters.

"No fine people carry swastikas or burn torches or shout epithets and spew hatred in the way that the white supremacist and neo-Nazis and KKK members did in Charlottesville," Blumenthal said.

In New Haven, a group of clergy gathered to sound the alarm on the racism they saw on display in Charlottesville.

"We who are a part of the religious body have a moral obligation to begin to sound the alarm to our community," Rev. Boise Kimber said.

The clergy also questioned the president’s ability to represent all Americans and not just the citizens who voted for him.

"Unfortunately, he’s not making America great again, he is making our problems even more difficult," Bishop Charles H. Brewer Jr. said.

"He’s part of the problem," Kimber said. "He started this problem when he was running for president."

Connecticut GOP chairman J.R. Romano said the president could have been more, "articulate and delicate" in addressing the tragedy in Charlottesville.

"In those statements he condemned racism," Romano told NBC Connecticut. "The KKK and all those things and I do as well. Every Republican does again those aren't our values, those aren't American values."

Bennett also reacted to the president’s unscripted remarks from Tuesday's press conference. 

"They speak to the truth of what Dr. Maya Angelou said, when people show you who they are, believe them, yesterday was who Donald Trump is," he said.

The diverse group of people who showed up to counter-protest the white nationalist rally gives Bennett some hope, he said, but he still has his concerns about race relations in the country.

"I think white America’s inability to look at itself and to look at its painful past is what prevents us from moving forward," Bennett said.

Bennett called the deadly car attack on Saturday an act of domestic terrorism. He said Heather Heyer, the 32-year-old woman who was killed, should be honored as a hero.

More than a thousand people gathered in a Charlottesville theater Wednesday to remember Heyer.

"They tried to kill my daughter to shut her up," her mother said. “Guess what?You just magnified her."

You can watch NBC Connecticut’s entire interview with Pastor Bennett here.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Man Whose Autism Charity Check Bounced Ordered to Pay Restitution


A New Haven man accused of issuing a bad check for a wrestling event to benefit autism gets a break from the courtroom.

James Raymond has been granted accelerated rehabilitation, which means the court feels the promoter won't likely commit any additional crimes.

They're sealing his file, in addition to allowing him to do community service and for him to make restitution to the professional wrestling school that bad check went to Autism Services and Resources Connecticut (ASRC) and Raymond said he's going one step further.

"I want to make everything that should've been earned due to my bad budgeting. I’m going to make it right for them," Raymond told NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters. 

Raymond was accepted into a special program for first time offenders at the New Haven court on Wednesday, after admitting he wrote an $1,800 check to Paradise Alley Professional Wrestling (PAPW) last April that bounced.

It was after a well-attended wrestling match with big names from the wrestling industry to benefit autism.

Raymond’s daughter is autistic and he said he wanted to do something special for the community that has helped his family.

But ASRC never saw a cent of the thousands raised from the wrestling benefit.

Raymond previously said he mismanaged the costs, which ultimately ate up all the profits.

The co-director of the ASRC wrote a letter voicing her strong opposition to Raymond being accepted into this program.

"The situation around this check is extremely distressing and asrc strongly urges the judge to not grant accelerated rehabilitation to Mr. Raymond," the co-director said. 

Nevertheless, the judge approved rehabilitation and ordered Raymond to make $125 monthly payments to cover the bad check to PAPW over the next two years.

"Looking for restitution that's all. I feel worse for the asrc even though we had a make-up show and raised $7,850 for them. It would' been nice if they got some money out of this show," PAPW's Mario Mancini said.

Raymond added, "I promise, i promise to everyone that I’m going to do right to them, not one payment will be missed."

PAPW said they'll donate the repayments to ASRC and Raymond told an ASRC rep he also wants to go further by offering additional payments to the charity.

"I’m not gunna say how much, I’m gunna go over some stuff with them and see if they feel that's appropriate," Raymond said. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

15-Year-Old Accused of Felony Murder in Danbury


A 15-year-old is accused of felony murder in Danbury, police said. 

Police responded to Abbott Street at around 5:45 p.m. on Aug. 5 for suspicious activity reported, Danbury police said. 

Responding officers found 18-year-old Gabriel Bara-Bardo alone and unconscious in the roadway near his car, according to police. 

Bara-Bardo later died from his injuries. 

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled that Bara-Bardo's cause of death was complications following blunt impact to the head and neck, and the manner of death was homicide.

Police determined that Ronald Massagli was involved in the death of Bara-Bardo and applied for an arrest warrant. 

The 15-year-old suspect was arrested on Aug. 16 in the area of Wilson Street around 5:30 p.m.

Massagli was charged with felony murder, second-degree robbery, criminal mischief, larceny and four counts of conspiracy to commit all the above charges. 

He was transported to the Bridgeport Juvenile Detention Center.

The investigation is still on-going. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Vigils in East Lyme Held in Solidarity With Charlottesville


In the wake of the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and current political uproar, a few shoreline residents want to promote peace within their community.

A vigil was held in East Lyme on Wednesday night in honor of the victims of violence that happened in Charlottesville over the weekend. 

Robin Soule, of Niantic, her daughter Kate Eberle and friend Josh Kelly, organizing a candlelight vigil at McCook Point Park, near the band shell, in Niantic on Wednesday night. They'll be honoring the victims of last weekend's violence in Charlottesville.

"The incidents last weekend in Charlottesville were horrifying and heartbreaking. And Niantic, we’re blessed with living in such a lovely community," Soule said

The vigil is about promoting unity, she added, not politics.

"Just (want) to get people together in the spirit of love and peace," she said.

Residents agreed with keeping politics out of the gathering.

"Taking the politics out of that and just saying that we care about one another," said Micheline Nollez of Ellington.

Several hundred people gathered at McCook Point Park for the moment of silence after sharing words of love, unity and community.

Attendees at the vigil told NBC Connecticut that while Charlottesville might be far away, it's up to the entire country to show that bigotry and discrimination will not be tolerated.

"If you don't learn from history, you're condemned to repeat it," Nicholas Fischer, of New London, said. 

Fischer marched on Washington in 1963 and said he's shocked there's still a need for a demonstration like this in 2017.

"We are not in a post-racial society... I think we all have to be aware there are people who want to ignore the realities of inequality and discrimination and inequity," Fischer said.

Part of Soule’s inspiration to set up the vigil was the fact that she was in Charlottesville about three weeks ago.

"Having been in that spot and having walked across the street where this happened, it just really grabbed me by the heartstrings," Soule said.

Vigil organizers collected donations for the Legal Aid Justice Center, a Virginia-based legal team that provides assistance for racial and immigration justice issues. 

Also Wednesday night, Groton Congressional Church is hosting an interfaith prayer service and vigil that began at 7:30 p.m.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Police to Crack Down on Underage Drinking at Xfinity Theatre Concert Friday


The Hartford Police Department is making preparations for an increased level of law enforcement for a concert at Xfinity Theatre Friday night to crack down on underage drinking, which has landed many concertgoers in the hospital, in court, or both, in recent weeks.

On July 21, the Xfinity parking lots were packed with people, many of whom were under 21 years old, for a Chance The Rapper concert. Police said there was a lot of heavy drinking, which resulted in 50 people being charged with underage drinking and 96 people being taken by ambulance to hospitals.

Many of those patients were suffering from severe intoxication and some were transported to Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford.

Dr. John Brancato, the assistant director of the Emergency Department at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center said the youngest patient transported from that show to the medical center was 14 years old and another patient had be placed in the Intensive Care Unit.

“We had more serious ones who came in on stretchers covered with plastic drapes to keep the vomit off of them,” said Brancato.

Brancato said the hospital prepares for nights like that and even posts Xfinity’s concert schedule inside the Emergency Department before summer begins.

“We make extra sure that on evenings of potentially big concerts that may affect us, that there are no holes in the schedule; that we're adequately covered,” Brancato said.

Austin Alexander, 20, of Wethersfield, said he did not need medical care but he was among the dozens of young people who received a court summons that night.

“The officers just came up to us out of nowhere,” said Alexander.

“Straight up just told them what was in the bottle, because it wasn't just lemonade,” said Alexander, who said he admitted to police that he had vodka mixed in with his lemonade. A few days after the concert, Alexander appeared at Hartford Community Court, where he agreed to complete three days of community service and take an alcohol awareness class.

Hartford police have long been vigilant of underage drinking at Xfinity Theatre.

According to Hartford police, they made 191 underage drinking arrests or summons at Xfinity Theatre during 2015. In 2016, that number dropped to 48, according to police. Through the start of August 2017, there were 110 underage drinking charges.

The venue and the police are now preparing for what could be the next busy night with the band Florida Georgia Line set to play on Friday, Aug. 18.

American Medical Response (AMR) said 29 of its ambulances were used, some of which were called in from other communities, to transport patients from the Chance The Rapper concert to a dozen area hospitals.

AMR officials said paramedics, police or the patients themselves make the decision about whether a patient would need medical transport.

"In our over 21 years working in partnership with the Hartford police and fire departments and the Xfinity management team to keep concertgoers at this venue safe, we have never seen this level of transports needed,” Chuck Babson, AMR’s regional director, wrote in a statement.

Kyle Wright, 20, of Wethersfield, who was also charged with underage drinking at the recent concert, wonders if any level of enforcement will actually solve the problem.

“Kids are still going to drink. Kids are kids,” Wright said. “And it's just going to still happen.”

Seventy-five Hartford police officers were at Xfinity Theatre for the Chance The Rapper show. The costs are covered by the venue as well as a state grant.

Police warn concertgoers that even more officers will be there for the Florida Georgia Line concert on Friday. City officials said Xfinity Theatre will be paying for that additional law enforcement.

Representatives for Xfinity Theatre declined to comment about what action is being taken to reduce underage drinking and instead referred all inquiries to the corporate office of LiveNation, which is the parent company of Xfinity Theatre. LiveNation has yet to respond to those requests.

Photo Credit: NBC Connectcut

Person Struck and Killed by Train in Fairfield

Ben Carson Talks About Vandalism of VA Home, Charlottesville


The only African-American member of President Donald Trump's cabinet says his home in Northern Virginia was recently the target of anti-Trump vandals.

Ben Carson, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, told News4 in an exclusive interview inside his home Wednesday night that he believes dialogue can help overcome hate and bigotry.

He pointed out that many Confederate statues were erected "during the civil rights movement, to make a statement," and resisted "pointing fingers" at Trump's response to the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Carson said his home was vandalized while he was away.

"We were out of town and our house was toilet papered," Carson told News4's Meagan Fitzgerald. "They had painted 'F Trump' on it as well."

He said neighbors cleaned up the mess, and he took the high road.

"That really is the message that I try to get out to people. You can't necessarily control the animosity and the hatred of someone else, but you can control how you react," he said.

When asked about the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, this past weekend and the removal of Confederate monuments, Carson said he believed education is key.

"We need to explain to people that many of the Confederate monuments that were put up were put up specifically during the Jim Crow era, specifically during the civil rights movement, to make a statement," he said.

Fitzgerald asked him several times if Trump's response to the deadly violence displayed the leadership the country needs.

"I want to push back and say it's not about pointing fingers about who should have done what and when they should have done it and when they should have said it," Carson said.

He added that strong leaders, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., have the power to bring a nation together. But, he said, it's not up to Trump to bring the country together; it's up to the American people.

Carson first spoke about the vandalism of his home in a Facebook post published Wednesday afternoon. He said that several years ago, after he and his family bought a farm in rural Maryland, a neighbor immediately put up a Confederate flag. Other neighbors put up American flags to shame him, Carson said.

"Hatred and bigotry unfortunately still exists in our country and we must all continue to fight it, but let's use the right tools," he wrote. "By the way, that neighbor who put up the Confederate flag subsequently became friendly. That is the likely outcome if we just learn to be neighborly and to get to know each other."

Photo Credit: NBC Washington
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Fire Under Investigation in Moosup

'The Moment I Hoped Would Never Come': Oakland Nurse Says Goodbye to Daughters, US


It has been an emotional journey this week for the family of Oakland nurse Maria Mendoza Sanchez and her husband Eusebio, whose battle to legally remain with their children in the United States ended with the couple's deportation. 

The Sanchezes late Wednesday said goodbye to their three daughters. The couple, following an immigration deportation order, checked in at San Francisco International Airport with their son — an American citizen — for a flight to Mexico.

"This is the moment I hoped would never come," Sanchez said before boarding her flight.

Sanchez, who served as a nurse at Highland Hospital providing care to cancer and heart patients, spent 15 years trying to get U.S. legal status, but was unsuccessful. 

Twenty-three years ago, Sanchez illegally crossed the border with her husband, a truck driver, and one of her daughters. They had two more girls and a boy. 

The daughter she brought with her to the U.S. can stay because of DACA. The son and two other daughters are citizens, with one just a year away from graduating from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in human biology.

"What scares me the most — I don't know when they're gonna be back," daughter Melin Sanchez said. "I want us to be together."

Maria said that her children "will always have my support even if I'm not here for them." 

She said she'll be available at all times for a phone call and "my heart is always here for them."

The Sanchezes case drew national headlines and was championed by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Maria's co-workers, among others. 

"Maria and Eusebio Sanchez have lived in this country for more than 20 years. They are hardworking parents raising four children, three citizens and one protected by DACA," Feinstein said before the deportation. "They have no criminal records. They pay taxes, own their home and contribute to this country. These are the kind of people we should welcome into the United States with open arms." 

The Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement released a statement last week saying in part the courts long ago deemed the couple was in the U.S. illegally, and their case is not exempt from the law. 

In August, the Justice Department announced that 57,069 people have been ordered for removal from the country in the first six months of Trump’s presidency. That’s up nearly 31 percent since the same period in 2016 under former President Barack Obama. 

Sanchez does not blame President Donald Trump for the immigration laws that have been on the books for years. However, she said the president is "taking it personally against Mexicans. This law is affecting all immigrants, but I feel somehow Mexicans -- we've been targeted. I don't know why." 

Sanchez has said she will not be allowed to return to the U.S. for 10 years. They will continue to try to pursue efforts to try to be reunited with their family legally in the country. 

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

Crashes Causing Delays on I-95 North in Greenwich


All lanes of Interstate 95 North were closed in Greenwich after a multi-vehicle crash near exit 2 that caused minor injuries, then another crash caused delays on the southbound side of the highway between exits 4 and 3.

No additional information was available.

Photo Credit: @Greenwich_Fire_

New Fairfield Dad to Be Deported Today


A New Fairfield father who was hoping to avoid being deported to Guatemala will be leaving the country today, according to his attorney.

Attorneys for 33-year-old Joel Colindres, along with Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Sen. Chris Murphy and Rep. Elizabeth Esty, fought for him to stay and the Congress members sent a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to urge the agency to reconsider Colindres' deportation while he continued efforts to become an American citizen.

Part of their argument included that Colindres has committed no crimes, is employed, pays taxes and is raising a family. 

His attorney said, Colindres, who entered the United States illegally 13 years ago, missed a court hearing in 2004, which triggered the deportation notice that is being enforced by the current administration.

Colindres said he was 20 years old at the time and living in Texas when he missed the immigration court date. 

Colindres’ wife of seven years, Samantha, said her husband never received the order to appear in court

"They had his address completely wrong, his first name was spelled with a k, his last name was wrong, he never even received the order to go the court," she said. 

Because of the order, Colindres said he cannot apply for citizenship. Instead, he was granted several Stay of Deportation or "stays," which is an ICE -approved order that allowed him to remain in the country for one year.

The most recent "stay" application was denied.

Attorney Erin O’Neil-Baker said her client would be barred from entering the United States for 10 years after being deported.

Colindres allegedly faces retribution if he returns to Guatemala.

"That’s based on things happening now in Guatemala, happening to his family," Esty said.

Increased drug trafficking coupled with rising gang violence and easy access to firearms has helped place Guatemala among the world's deadliest nations in terms of murder rates, according to the U.S. Department of State. Guatemala is also a major transit country for cocaine and heroin, according to the Central Intelligence Agency.

When asked how his family is being threatened, Colindres declined to comment.

"It’s more difficult now because everyone knows my face," said Colindres, who has a 6-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter with his wife, Samantha.

O’Neil-Baker said her client’s best chance of staying in this country included his claims for asylum and the fact that deportation would be a hardship on his wife and two children.

"I don’t think you have any idea how hard it is to become part of this country," Colindres said.

NBC Connecticut reached out to the Colindres family Thursday morning, but they declined to comment. 

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Anti-Hate Groups Seize Charlottesville as Teachable Moment


Anti-hate groups in the United States are giving guidance on what individuals can do to combat hate-inspired violence in the wake of a deadly attack at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

To counter hate-inspired attacks in the U.S., Americans must join forces, speak out and educate themselves about the history and ideology of white nationalists and hate organizations, groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, the NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League argue.

The SPLC on Monday issued a step-by-step "community response guide" on how to fight hate after 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed when a car plowed into counter-protesters at the rally. Her alleged killer, James Fields Jr., had been fascinated with Nazism and idolized Adolf Hitler, according to his high school teacher.

To show why the guide is needed now more than ever, the SPLC noted a number of recent U.S. hate crimes, including the 2015 Charleston church shooting and racist graffiti being found in a school in Stapleton, Colorado. 

The SPLC's 10-point blueprint includes guidance like "educate yourself," "speak up" and "join forces." 

"Others share your desire to stand against hate," the SPLC wrote in the guide, under the "join forces" section. "There is power in numbers. Asking for help and organizing a group reduces personal fear and vulnerability, spreads the workload, and increases creativity and impact." 

The guide adds, "A hate crime often creates an opportunity for a community’s first dialogue on race, gender identity, or religious intolerance. It can help bridge the gap between neighborhoods and law enforcement."

The ADL similarly published a curriculum for teachers on how the violence in Charlottesville is a "teachable moment." The curriculum noted it should be described in the correct historical context and could be used to further understanding of the First Amendment. 

"While freedom of speech means that you can share your opinions and exchange ideas freely without government control — even if it is hateful — there is some speech that is not protected by the First Amendment; this includes obscenity, defamation, true threats, and incitement to imminent lawless action," the curriculum stated. "Talk with students about the First Amendment and our freedoms and emphasize that condemning hatred, bias and white supremacy and vigorously protecting free speech are not mutually exclusive."

An NAACP leader told NBC that understanding the ideologies held by groups like the opposing sides that clashed in Charlottesville is instrumental in ending hate-inspired violence. 

"Understanding what the ideologies are, the arguments and the realities of the vision each side seeks, is crucial," said Hilary Shelton, the NAACP's Washington bureau director.

"On one side of the equation, you had those that believe in white supremacy, racial segregation and treating those leaders of the confederacy as heroes," Shelton said. "On the other side of the issue ... you had those that wanted to promote diversity, equal opportunity." 

To Shelton, if people truly grasp the difference between the two sides, hate groups will not thrive. 

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Dave Martin

Man Charged in Crash That Killed Greenwich Salon Employee


A tractor-trailer driver from New Jersey has been arrested in connection with a crash in Greenwich in November that killed one employee of a local hair salon in and badly injured another.

Police said Jeffrey Bodnar, of Metuchen, New Jersey, was driving a tractor-trailer just after 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 19 when he pulled off Interstate 95 South at exit 3, went through a red light, crossed Arch Street to get back on the highway and instead struck a vehicle.

Christina Ann Vomoca, 38, of Stamford, was driving the car Bodnar hit and she died from injuries sustained in the crash, according to police. The passenger in the car, 32-year-old Maiko Kobayashi, also of Stamford, suffered serious injuries.

Police said Vomoca and Kobayashi had just left work at the Hopscotch Hair Salon in Greenwich when they were struck.

Bodnar has been charged with first-degree manslaughter and first-degree assault.

Bond was set at $100,000 and Bodner is due in court on Aug. 30.

Photo Credit: Greenwich Police

Watch: Photographer Hit in Groin After Ceremonial 1st Pitch


The ceremonial first pitch at Fenway Park missed its target Wednesday night and gave a nearby photographer something to remember.

Red Sox fan Jordan Leandre’s pitch went off course and struck photographer Tony Capobianco in the groin.

The photographer took the hit in stride and had a laugh about it on Twitter that night.

Leandre was also in good humor after the humiliating pitch seen all over the world.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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