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Your Yawn Is Contagious — to Your Dog: Study


Dogs yawn along with their owners, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Tokyo in Japan. They found dogs are more likely to yawn with their owner than with strangers.

The team tested 25 dogs and recorded their heart rates as they yawned with their owners and as they yawned with strangers. They saw dogs responding more frequently with familiar humans. Dogs also reacted differently to fake yawns created by controlled mouth movements.

"Similarly to humans, in both species the closer the social bond between individuals, the more likely they would yawn when the other yawned," the researchers said in their study, published in the peer-reviewed science journal PLOS ONE.

A previous study had found that dogs' yawns were related to stress, whereas the new study showed heart rates in dogs to be stable.

According to the scientists, the new findings were indicative of dogs' ability to empathize with humans, especially with their owners.

Contagious yawning is also noted in humans and primates. About 45 to 60 percent of human adults are affected by other people's yawns, according to the study.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Flickr Open

Alleged Boardwalk Driver Failed Sobriety Test


The driver who allegedly plowed his car onto the popular Venice Beach boardwalk failed a field sobriety test when he turned himself into authorities two hours after the crash, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

No other details were immediately available about Nathan Campbell’s state during the Aug. 3 crash. NBC4 Los Angeles was not able to confirm whether the 38-year-old was drinking before the incident, which killed a newlywed and injured 16 other people.

Days before the crash, Campbell was seen around the Malibu Community Labor Exchange on Pacific Coast Highway. He was described as a hard worker by the director of the center, Oscar Mondragon.

Boardwalk Tragedy: Timeline | Full Coverage

"He came to us, looking for us about a year ago, and like anybody else we helped him to find work," Mondragon said. "He was a very good worker; no complaints about him."

Campbell recently returned to the job center after being away for several months.

"All he said was, 'I'm back. I have a car, ready to work' – that kind of thing," Mondragon said. "He wasn't angry with anybody. He wasn't fighting with anybody."

But Shawn Baird, who knows Campbell, told a different story, which could give clues into what may have caused Campbell to allegedly drive his 2008 Dodge Avenger onto the popular Venice Beach boardwalk.

"He was drinking," Baird said of Campbell a few days before the crash. "He had a bottle of cheap vodka."

Baird also described an unusual request.

"He said, 'You gotta get your bags out of my trunk because there's a guy really bothering me and I'm going to hit him with a brick and put him in my trunk, '" Baird said.

The request concerned Baird, but he doesn't believe Campbell set out to target anyone on the boardwalk.

"I saw him on his birthday. I wish I saw him the next day because maybe I could have talked some sense into him," Baird said.

Campbell is being held on $1.48 million bail. He pleaded not guilty Tuesday to murder and 33 other felony charges. His next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 4.

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Police Looking for Man Who Stole Prescription Drugs


East Windsor Police are searching for a man who robbed the Rite Aid Pharmacy on Bridge Street Thursday evening.

According to authorities, the suspect forced his way into the pharmacy and ordered the on-duty  pharmacist to open the safe.

The suspect wrote a note and then filled a plastic garbage bad with a large amount of prescription drugs and fled, police said.

Police describe the suspect as a 5'07''- 5'10'' white male, possibly Hispanic, weighing 150-160 pounds. He was wearing a blue baseball hat, dark T-shirt, and khaki shorts.

The suspect fled in a green station wagon and drove North into Enfield, police said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Carl at 860-292-8240.

Panel Urged to Require Classroom Locks


Some teachers and school administrators are urging a board reviewing school security standards following the Newtown massacre to keep it simple and focus on requiring classroom door locks and communication devices.

The School Safety Infrastructure Council held a hearing at New Britain High School on Thursday evening to gather recommendations from many who spend much of their time in schools.

"We can do all we want to harden the buildings but we don't want fortresses we want them to be inviting," said Robert Rader, Executive Director of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education.

Ron Chivinski, a teacher at Newtown Middle School and a member of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's panel reviewing the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, said it's important for teachers to be able to lock their classroom doors from the inside when there's an intruder.

The group has until Jan. 1 to recommend new standards to improve or enhance security and safety in schools constructed in Connecticut.

Virginia Man Catches Record-Breaking "Frankenfish"


A 17-pound, 6-ounce northern snakehead snagged by a Virginia man has been certified a world record catch of the invasive species some call "Frankenfish."

The monster was hauled in by Caleb Newton in Aquia Creek on June 1.

The International Game Fish Association confirmed the record catch, The Free Lance-Star reported Wednesday. It beat a 17-pound, 4-ounce snakehead caught in Japan in 2004.

"His record has been approved and we'll be sending the certificate later this week, or early next week," said Jack Vitek, world-record coordinator for the Florida-based IGFA.

Newton, 27, was fishing with a friend in a tournament when he hooked the monster. "It took me about a minute to get it in the boat," the Spotsylvania County plumber said after the catch.

The 3-foot-long fish barely fit in his cooler.

The snakehead is native to China, Korea and Russia. It can breathe air, survive on land and adapt and thrive in foreign environments.

It was first discovered in a Maryland pond in 2002 and since then has spread into several Chesapeake Bay tributaries.

Some have dubbed it "Frankenfish" for its fearsome appearance and adaptability.

Woman Stabbed Boyfriend, Assaulted Grandmother: Cops


Newington police have charged a woman with stabbing her boyfriend and assaulting her 89-year-old grandmother.

Officers responded to a report of a domestic dispute at 63 Brookside Road around 10:25 a.m. on Thursday. According to police, Debra Drena, 35, was involved in a verbal altercation with her boyfriend that turned physical and stabbed him once in the abdomen. He was taken to the hospital and was treated and released.

Drena also assaulted her grandmother during the fight, police said. The grandmother sustained minor injuries.

Drena's mother called police after she learned her daughter had allegedly stabbed her boyfriend, according to authorities.

Drena was charged with second-degree assault, third-degree assault on the elderly, unlawful restraint, disorderly conduct, third-degree criminal mischief, second-degree reckless endangerment, and interfering with an emergency call. She was held on $50,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court on Friday.

Photo Credit: Newington Police

Outrage Over Gun Rights Event at Newtown Starbucks


The Newtown Action Alliance is discouraging gun rights groups from holding a "Starbucks Appreciation Day" in Newtown, Conn., on Friday.

There is a nationwide effort for gun rights supporters to spend money at Starbucks stores Friday because the coffee chain keeps an open policy on carrying weapons inside their establishments.

A Facebook page for the event has been created, urging people across the country to visit their local Starbucks.

"We will thank starbucks (sic) for standing up for our right to bear arms by going there on Friday, August 9th," a statement on the page said.

The page urges all participants who plan on carrying weapons to follow all local, state and federal laws.

Matt Botalli, of Ridgefield, posted on his own Facebook page that he will be visiting the Starbucks in Newtown to show support. He commented on the CT Open Carry Facebook page that he and a group of people from the Connecticut Citizens Defense League will be at the coffee shop from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday.

"Come down, meet me and my friends. I guarantee there will not be a safer public place in all of CT," he wrote on his page.

The Newtown Action Alliance, which was formed following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, issued a statement Thursday discouraging gun rights groups from holding the "Starbucks Appreciation Day" in Newtown.

"Our community is still healing and we find it reprehensible that they are picking Newtown to rally," said David Ackert, a spokesperson for Newtown Action Alliance. "It is disturbing to think that tomorrow night you and your children may be sitting in Starbucks when people carrying guns walk through the door."

In a statement Thursday, a spokesperson for Starbucks said the company does not endorse the appreciation events, but that their long-standing policies have not changed.

"We comply with local laws and statutes in the communities we serve, abiding by laws that permit open carry," Zack Hutson, a company spokesperson said. "Where these laws don't exist, openly carrying weapons in our stores is prohibited.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Elderly Man Scammed of $10,000


An elderly man saving thousands of dollars to help his disabled wife was the victim of a cruel scam in Bethesda, Md., earlier this week.

He was approached by two men in a Bank of America parking lot at 12099 Rockville Pike Aug. 6.

One  man, who spoke in a Jamaican accent, showed the 77-year-old victim what appeared to be a large amount of cash and stated that he did not trust U.S. banks, according to police.

During the conversation, both suspects were able to convince the victim to drive them to a SunTrust Bank in Bethesda and withdraw $10,000. The victim said he did that to show the men they could trust U.S. banks. He let one of the men hold the cash.

"He had all this money, and I believed him," the victim said. "I believed his story."

After they got the cash, the two men then told him they were going to go get food but never returned.

"It really hurts," the victim told News4's Darcy Spencer. "Just makes you feel like you don't want to trust anybody anymore. I can't believe I was that gullible to go along with this."

The first suspect is described as a black male, about 5'9 tall, around 40 to 45-years-old with a Jamaican accent. He was wearing a brown jacket and hat. The second suspect is described as a black male, 6 feet tall, with short hair and wearing a white shirt.

"I should have known better but I didn't," the victim said. "I want to make sure they get prosecuted properly for taking advantage of a senior citizen."

Just last month, a 68-year-old woman fell victim to a similar scam. She was approached by a male and female in the parking lot of a Giant grocery story located at 12051 Rockville Pike July 26. The two suspects told the woman that if she gave them $1,700, they could invest the money and get a return of $400,000. The victim withdrew the money from her bank account and gave it to the suspects who walked away. She never saw them again.

The male suspect is described as black, standing 6'0" tall and aged between 30 to 35 years old. He was wearing a white, buttoned-down shirt and brown pants. The female suspect is described as black with a short stature and wearing capri style pants.

Investigators say the type of fraud demonstrated in these cases is often referred to as a confidence game or confidence scheme. The suspects gain the victim's trust in order to defraud the victim of money.

Police recommend potential victims question possible scammers when they feel as though they may be taken advantage of.

"As soon as you begin asking questions, these suspects will probably leave," Montgomery County Police Officer Janelle Smith said.

If someone believes that they have been a victim or has information regarding these suspects, you are asked to call the Financial Crimes Section at 240-773-6330. Those who have information about the suspects can remain anonymous by calling Crime Solvers of Montgomery County at 1-866-411-8477.

Doctor Diagnoses Man as Gay, Patient Says


A patient said a Southern California doctor diagnosed him with "Homosexual behavior" during his first visit to the office for a check-up.

Earlier this year, Matthew Moore started seeing a new doctor who suggested he undergo a complete physical. The tests revealed he was B-12 deficient, and had high blood pressure and high cholesterol -- conditions that he called "normal for me."

When Moore, who is openly gay, went back to the Manhattan Beach office to discuss the findings, the nurse gave him the results of his physical.

Among other diagnoses, the doctor listed "Homosexual behavior (302.0)," according to medical records obtained by NBC4. "Homosexual behavior" was also listed as a chronic condition on Moore's patient plan.

"When I look up code 302.0 and its sexual deviancy or mental illness, and that code has been removed or suggested heavily not to be used since 1973," Moore said.

"My jaw was on the floor. At first, I kind of laughed, I thought, 'Here's another way that gay people are lessened and made to feel less-than,' and then as I thought about it and as I dealt with it, it angered me," Moore said.

He later returned to the office, at the suggestion of an attorney and friends, to let the doctor explain her decision. He said when asked, the doctor defended her position.

"I was dumbfounded," Moore said.

Asked how one could treat homosexuality, the doctor said that "is still up to debate" and that the sexual orientation is "still being thought of as a disease," Moore said.

Moore said he does not take issue with his sexual orientation noted on his medical chart, but he does have a problem with it listed under chronic conditions.

"Government tells us, oftentimes, that we're not equal," Moore said. "Many churches tell us that we're sinners, and now here's a medical professional telling us that we are sick. And it's gotta stop."

Unsatisfied with his doctor's response, Moore wrote a letter to the Torrance Memorial Physician Network and received an apologetic note in return, pictured at right with personal information redacted.

Moore asked for – and received – his $30 copay back.

"We fully appreciate your frustration and anger related to your experience and are committed to ensuring that such events are not repeated," Heidi Assigal, senior director of Torrance Health Association, Inc., wrote, in part.

"We would like to unequivocally state that the Torrance Memorial Physician Network does not view homosexuality as a disease or a chronic condition and we do not endorse or approve of the use of Code 302.0 as a diagnosis for homosexuality."

Moore said he does not plan to file a lawsuit against the doctor, who he asked remain anonymous to protect her reputation. He said he was inspired to tell his story to let others know that if something like this happens, "you have to speak up."

"If I was a 14-year-old in a small town in Indiana, where I'm from, and I had a doctor tell me or my parents that I was sick because they thought I was gay, it would've been very damaging," he said.

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Perseid Meteor Shower to Light Up Skies This Weekend


If you've ever wanted to wish upon a star, this weekend would be the time to do it.

The annual Perseid meteor shower will light up the night sky this weekend, peaking Sunday night into Monday morning when skywatchers can expect at least 70 meteors an hour up above. The meteors will travel at speeds of up to 134,000 mph and will streak across the third of the sky, NASA said.

The meteors come via the Comet Swift-Tuttle, a grouping of dust grains that circle the sun every 133 years and get their name from the ancient Greek hero who slayed Medusa.

"The Perseids are the good ones," meteorite expert Bill Cooke of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. told USA TODAY.

If you're feeling extra meteor-ific this weekend, you can even count the number of space rocks that dash through the sky for NASA. The space agency's Meteor Counter app will record time, latitude, longitude and other meteor-tracking info to send directly to NASA researchers for analysis.

Optimal viewing time for the Perseids is midnight to dawn, so you'll have to party like a rockstar to see them.

It'll also be easier to see them away from the city, NASA said.

Photo Credit: Dennis Mammana

Armed Robbery at Torrington Tobacco Shop


Police are looking for the man who robbed Smokers Club at 644 Main Street in Torrington at gunpoint last night.

Police responded to a report of an armed robbery at the cigarette and cigar shop at 8:55 p.m.

They said a 5-feet-8-inch tall stocky man with a goatee has a dark-colored handgun, took money from the register and ran off. 

He was wearing a blue and white bandana, blue short-sleeved shirt, dark pants, white sneakers and a necklace with a cross, according to the description from police.

Anyone with any information about the robbery should call the Torrington Police Department at (860)-489-2000 or can leave an anonymous tip on the tip line at (860)-489-2065.

Photo Credit: Torrington Police

"Difficult" Conditions in Battle Against Silver Fire


California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency in the wake of a Riverside County wildfire that has claimed more than 18,000 acres.

The Silver Fire wildfire has consumed 25 square miles of dry, mountainous terrain in less than two days was heading east in the direction of Palm Springs Friday, as high winds posed a challenge in battle against the fire.

More than 1,630 firefighters were on scene as gusts continued to push the flames, which had prompted mandatory evacuations and worries about the fire's dangerous growth potential.

Since it broke out about 2 p.m. Wednesday in the foothills of the San Jacinto Mountains about 90 miles east of Los Angeles, the blaze has injured five firefighters and severely burned one resident.

Nearly 30 structures, most of them homes, were destroyed.

An estimated 1,800 people were told to evacuate from multiple communities, with Snow Creek Village the most recent addition, according to an online incident report.

Photos: Viewer Images | More Fire Images | Send Us Your Fire Photos

Smoke smothered Snow Creek, where residents could see flames coming down the mountain early Friday. Longtime homeowner Donald Tousseau was one of the few who refused to evacuate the foothill community near Palm Springs.

“I’ve been through this before,” Tousseau said. “I don’t like to be a hazard or a handicap to the firemen, because I know they worry about you. But if it came to the time, and it’s really dangerous, I’d get out.”

The mailboxes of those who stayed behind were tagged by authorities by yellow caution tape.

By Friday evening, the Silver Fire had burned 18,000 acres south of Banning and Cabazon, two cities along the 10 Freeway. The fire was 40 percent contained.

Winds blowing at 26 mph -- along with the rugged terrain -- were a cause for concern as the flames moved east toward the resort town of Palm Springs. Together, they make for tough conditions, fire officials said.

"They have a 40-pound pack on their back, they’re walking up into the rocky terrain that’s very steep, now you add these winds. It really is difficult to fight fire up there,” said Riverside County Fire Department Capt. Lucas Spelman.

Temperatures were expected to reach into the 90s in the region Friday.

At least 26 homes and a commercial building were destroyed, and two other structures were damaged, according to the Riverside County Fire Department.

At a Thursday afternoon news conference, Cal Fire Riverside Chief John R. Hawkins said more than 500 structures had been threatened in the blaze, which he said had moved rapidly and jumped Highway 243 soon after it was reported.

Fire official had said one resident was discovered severely burned from "head to toe" inside a travel trailer near the fire's origin at Wolfskill Truck Trail (map). 

The fast-growing blaze is in the same treacherous area as the 2006 Esperanza Fire, a wildfire that killed five U.S. Forest Service firefighters, adding to the worries of those battling the flames.

Hawkins called the Silver Fire a "180-degree mirror image of Esparanza Fire."

Evacuation orders remain in effect for Vista Grande, Mt. Edna, Poppet Flats, Twin Pines and Silent Valley, Snow Creek Village in Cabazon, and other parts of Cabazon. Evacuation centers were established at Hemet High School, 41701 East Stetson Ave. in Hemet and Beaumont High School, 39139 Cherry Valley Blvd., in Beaumont.

Evacuation order will be lifted at 6 p.m. for Snow Creek, Cabazon, Mt. Edna and Poppet Flats, according to a tweet from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department spokesman.

An animal evacuation center was established at the San Jacinto Valley Animal Campus, 581 South Grand Ave. in San Jacinto.

Boulder Basin and Black Mountain Campgrounds on Black Mountain Road have been closed through Aug. 15. And evacuation orders were issued for for Marion Mountain Campground, Fern Basin Campground, Dark Canyon Campground -- and for the the Marion Mountain and Seven Pines hiking trails.

Highway 243 was closed between Banning and Poppet Flats.

As the fight against the Silver Fire continued, crews fully contained the 1,383-acre Falls Fire burning about 5 miles west of Lake Elsinore.

Residents in the following areas were told to avoid unnecessary outdoor activities: Lake Elsinore, Perris Valley, Hemet/San Jacinto Valley, Banning Pass, Coachella Valley and Temecula Valley.

Anywhere that residents can see or smell smoke from the wildfires was also included in the warning, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

The Silver Fire broke out in an area about 20 miles north-northwest of the origin of the Mountain Fire, which burned 43 square miles last month. In that blaze, which prompted the evacuation of thousands of area residents, fire officials had warned of extremely flammable fuels due in part to a dry winter.

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NFL Debut for Man Imprisoned on False Rape Charge


Brian Banks' dream of playing in an NFL game came true Thursday night when walked into the huddle with his Atlanta Falcons teammates in the fourth quarter of a pre-season game -- the high-point of Banks' football career after it was derailed by a false rape accusation.

Video: Brian Banks Plays in First NFL Game | Watch: Accuser's Hidden-Camera Confession

Banks, a highly recruited star at Long Beach Poly High School more than a decade ago before a classmate accused of him rape, entered the game against Cincinnati at linebacker with about eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Georgia Dome crowd and other players cheered as Banks entered the game. He finished with two tackles in the Falcons' 34-10 loss.

"It was definitely a good feeling. It was one of those things where, coming from where you’re coming from, just to have people support you chasing a dream," Banks said. "These guys have been working on this all their life. From Pop Warner to high school to college, this is what they’ve been doing. For them to accept me, and let me be a part of it, and just get out here and play and show what I can do is more than I can ask for."

A post on Banks' twitter account before the game read, "Game Day. Never thought this day would come. And if it all ended here tonight... Mom, I did it."

"It was awesome," said Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud. "I'm really happy for him. He gets to come out and live his dream. He plays with a lot of energy.

"Going through that and being able to live your dream -- you're going to have all the energy in the world."

Banks had verbally committed to play for coach Pete Carroll at USC in 2002, but ended up spending five years in prison for a rape and kidnapping he did not commit. Banks also spent five years on probation and had to register as a sex offender because of the accusations, which the classmate later recanted.

By the time Banks was exonerated in 2012, he was 26 and Carroll had become the head coach of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks. He offered Banks the opportunity to participate in the team's mini-camp, but Banks eventually landed with the Las Vegas Locomotives of the now-defunct UFL.

He signed with the Falcons, last year's NFC South champions, during the 2013 off-season. The Falcons have three more pre-season games before the team must cut its roster down to 53 players.

Banks maintained his innocence after he was accused of sexually assaulting a classmate in a school stairwell when he was 16 years old, but accepted a plea deal on the advice of his lawyer. Banks said the attorney told him he would face 41 years to life in prison if he did not accept the deal.

Banks' journey to Thursday's NFL debut was made possible by a hidden-camera confession from his accuser, who sent Banks a Facebook friend request after his release from prison. The accuser told Banks she wanted to "let bygones be bygones."

Banks called a private investigator, who elicited the confession from the accuser. Banks was cleared of the charge in May 2012.

As for the accuser, she was ordered to pay a $2.6 million judgement in the case for making a false claim and court-related costs. The judgement recoups a settlement paid to the accuser by the Long Beach Unified School District after she filed a lawsuit.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

"Big Papi" Holds Baby During National Anthem


Big Papi's latest on-field contribution had nothing to do with home runs or RBIs.

Boston Red sox star David "Big Papi" Ortiz shared a tender moment with a small child during the National Anthem Thursday before the Sox took on the Kansas City Royals at Kaufman Stadium.

It all started innocently enough as the hulking, 6'4", 230-pound slugger was asked to pose for a photo with the child before the game started. As soon as Ortiz took ahold of the infant though, the National Anthem began to play, forcing Ortiz to hold on to the kid for the entirety of the song.

Despite the youngster's unfamiliarity with Ortiz, the baby snuggled up closer as The Star-Spangled Banner hit its crescendo.

The too-cute encounter couldn't have come at a better time to shine up Big Papi's image. Just weeks ago, Ortiz was fined $5,000 for destroying a dugout phone with a baseball bat. That incident created another great viral moment.

Check them both out below: 

Papi's softer side:

The Papi you want to avoid:

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Former Senator's Brother Accused of Impersonating Cop


Connecticut state police arrested a heavily-armed man on charges he impersonated an officer in Old Lyme on Thursday, and police in Wolcott said the suspect is the brother of former U.S. Senator Scott Brown.

Old Lyme police and state police troopers responded to the Point O' Woods Beach community just before 6:30 p.m. after a caller reported a man was walking on Sea View Drive wearing military-type clothes and carrying a gun. The caller told police the man had been seen earlier in the day driving a "police-type vehicle."

Officers located the vehicle at 32 Sea View Drive. According to police, the 2004 blue Ford Crown Victoria was equipped with antennae on the trunk and "hide-away" lights.

After speaking with several people at the home, police determined the car belonged to Bruce Browne, 47, of Wolcott. They said Browne admitted to walking on Sea View Drive wearing a black, nylon gun belt with a loaded 9-millimeter pistol in a holster.

The chief of police in Wolcott said on Friday morning that Bruce Browne is the brother of the former U.S. Senator from Massachusetts.

State police said Browne's identifying documents spelled his last name with an "e."

Troopers searched Browne's car and found three 9-millimeter handguns, a nylon duty belt with two sets of handcuffs and 12 magazines fully loaded with more than 200 bullets, according to police. A black tactical bullet-proof vest with the word "POLICE" embroidered on the front and back was also found. A silver TSA badge was attached to the vest, police said. Browne was also in possession of an expired Coast Guard ID card from when he was a member of the Coast Guard Reserve, police said.

During their investigation, authorities learned Browne had commandeered a boat earlier in the day by identifying himself as a police/Coast Guard official, according to state police. He is accused of stopping three boats off the coast of Point O' Woods and asking the operators for their registrations and boater safety certificates.

Investigators contacted both TSA and the Coast Guard and determined Browne was not affiliated with either agency.

He was arrested and charged with impersonating a police officer, breach of peace, interfering with a police officer and possession of a dangerous weapon in a motor vehicle. He was released on a $50,000 bond and is scheduled to be in court on Aug. 22.

Photo Credit: State Police and NBCConnecticut.com

Neighbors Witness Horrific Plane Crash


Hughes Street runs parallel to the street where a small plane crashed into two houses this morning and residents witnessed the horrific accident that claimed at least two lives.

Through the tree line, the saw the plane crash on Charter Oak Avenue and two houses burst into flames.

“I could see beyond the trees. The flames were coming,” said Rose, didn't want to appear on camera of respect for the family affected, but she said the crash jolted her.

“I see it exploding -- one after the other. Then I hear a woman coming out of the house screaming for help. “Help, someone help me,” Rose said.

Other neighbors on Hughes Street said they saw the plane come in unusually low.

“We heard the plane come over and it got dead quiet. You start to see the plane come down and said, ‘That didn't make it,’” Russel Hickson said.

Some neighbors said they saw the plane flying low, then tilt hard onto its side before hitting the two houses on the normally quiet residential street.

Tony Brinley watched from his backyard as the small aircraft flew low over his house, then suddenly spun out of control.

“He made a turn, but when he turned, the wings were up and down. Then I heard a pop,” Tony Brinley said. “Wings were perpendicular -- straight up and down. I thought the pilot was going to abort. I’ve never seen a plan go so far.”

He said he watched helplessly as the plane descended and knew he was about to watch it go down.

“I heard a pop. That must’ve been the power lines,” he said.

The houses are directly under the flight path for Tweed Airport and many remember the crash that happened around in 1971.

In June 7, 1971, 28 people were killed when a plane struck houses, according to records from the National Transportation Safety Board.

Residents said they feared this day would come.

“I believed it because it seems like they are awfully low when they come in to land,” Ann Sprague said.

“It always crossed my mind that this could happen,” Angelo Chieppo said.

Photo Credit: AP

Prayer Vigil Planned for Plane Crash Victims


Faith leaders in East Haven will hold a prayer vigil on Saturday because of the plane crash this morning.

Faith leaders are inviting everyone to join together to pray for all those affected by the tragedy.

The vigil will take place at 7 p.m. at Margaret Tucker Park on Main Street, across from Old Stone Church.

Photo Credit: Robert Mallory

Crews Find Body During Search for Oakland Woman


Crews recovered a body in Vacaville on Friday, where searchers were looking for a missing federal investigator from Oakland, Sandra Coke. The body is that of a female, but the identity of the body has not been confirmed.

The Contra Costa County Sheriff's Search and Rescue team found the body in the area of Cherry Glen Road, not far from interstate 80, across from Lagoon Valley Regional Park. The body was found near the base of a tree.

"Shortly after they began their search, they did in fact locate the body of the female,” said Solano County Sheriff's Department spokesman Daryl Snedeker. “That scene has been secured; the roadway has been shut off.”

Snedeker said the search-and-rescue operation was winding down in light of the discovery.

The 50-year-old Coke was last seen Sunday night. Police have detained a “person of interest” in her disappearance.

The search for Coke led investigators from her home in Oakland to Solano County Thursday night.

A police source told NBC Bay Area Coke's cell phone was tracked to Solano County. Coke's sister said earlier this week that Coke's teenage daughter used the “Find My iPhone” app Sunday night.

“Like a good, tech savvy teenager, she was doing absolutely the right thing,” Coke’s sister Tanya Coke Kendall said Wednesday. “She saw her mom's phone zig-zagging all over the north Bay Area...It seemed to be all over, in Oakland, in Vacaville, in different neighborhoods.”

A police source said surveillance cameras captured Coke's car crossing the Carquinez Bridge. The source said another surveillance camera showed Coke's former boyfriend, parolee Randy Alana, gassing up her car and using her ATM card.

The source said Alana, who has been arrested on a parole violation, was found with Coke's keys and her credit card. He also had on muddy boots.  

"This is an ongoing investigation. It's evolving. It's evolving quickly now. Things have happened. A body has been located," Oakland police Lt. Henderson Jordan said.

On Friday, crews scoured the Solano County fairgrounds and to a nearby lagoon in Vallejo, and then later in the day headed to Vacaville in the hopes of finding Coke, a federal investigator with the public defender's office in Sacramento.

Police arrested 56-year-old Alana on a parole violation and are questioning him in connection to Coke's disappearance. Alana is a high-risk sex offender with a violent past, including rape and kidnapping convictions. He has been in and out of jail since the 1980s.

Sources confirmed Alana and Coke dated more than 20 years ago. They said she was recently trying to help him turn his life around.

Starting at 8 a.m. Friday, crews began searching a three-mile area near the fairgrounds and Lake Chabot at Dan Foley Park near Six Flags amusement park. About noon, they headed to Vacaville.

Coke's friends and family are hoping a $100,000 reward will prompt someone to come forward in helping bring the single mother who works as a federal investigator home.

They released the following statement Friday morning, saying police have asked them not to comment on the case: 

“Sandra Coke, our beloved daughter, sister and family member, disappeared on Sunday evening, and she has not returned. 

We pray for her immediate return to us. We are enormously grateful for the efforts of everyone – law enforcement, colleagues and friends of Sandra, and members of the public and the media--who have labored day and night -- to find Sandra. We want to do everything we can at this point to help that search.

The police have asked us not to comment on details of the investigation. We will make no additional comments today. Thank you for your support in the search for our beloved Sandra.”

If you have any information you believe might help in the search for Sandra Coke, please call (415) 385-5190 or e-mail findsandracoke@gmail.com.


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Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

Crash, Water Main Break Close West Main Street in Waterbury


West Main Street in Waterbury is closed between the intersections at Willow and Sperry streets after a vehicle hit a fire hydrant.

Around 3:45 p.m., a vehicle struck a fire hydrant at the intersection of West Main and Judd streets, causing an underground water main break that led to minor flooding in the immediate area, police said.

Residents still have water, but some are experiencing reduced pressure. The Water Department is repairing the problem.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Teen, Children Home When Burglar Breaks In


Police have arrested a Norwich man accused of forcing his way into two home this morning, including one occupied by a teenager and three young children. 

Police responded to Greene Avenue at 11:27 a.m. after a burglar broke into an occupied home and the homeowner scared him away, police said.

Moments later, police received a report of a separate burglary at an occupied residence on Fountain Street in Norwich. 

Someone had forced his way into a residence that was occupied by three young children and a teenager, police said.

The teen woke up to the sound of dogs barking and found the intruder standing at her bedroom door, police said. 

The man again ran off and went through neighboring yards, police said.

Officers captured a suspect, Kenneth Donahue, 23, of Norwich, on Cedar Street.

According to police, he is a suspect in other recent daytime burglaries in the area and was had several items that were reported stolen from the earlier burglaries in his possession.

Donahue was charged with third-degree burglary, sixth-degree criminal attempt at larceny, three counts of risk of injury to a minor,  two counts of disorderly conduct, third-degree criminal mischief and second-degree failure to appear.

Police also discovered that Donahue was wanted for failing to appear in court on a prior motor vehicle charge.

Donahue was held on a total of $77,500 cash or surety bonds and scheduled to be presented in court at G.A. 21 on August 12.

Police continue to investigate recent home burglaries in the Norwich area and said further arrests are anticipated.

Norwich police remind residents to lock their windows and doors and ensure that their air conditioner units are securely fastened to decrease the likelihood of an intruder.

Anyone with information regarding any burglaries or other criminal activity in the City of Norwich is encouraged to call the Norwich Police Department, at (860)886-5561, the anonymous tip line at (860)886-5561, extension 500 or e-mail crimetips@cityofnorwich.org.

Photo Credit: Norwich Police
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