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Fundraiser Honors East Haven Crash Victims


The staff at Chili's in East Haven worked for a cause on Thursday to raise money for the Mitchell family, who lost loved ones in last week’s plane crash on Charter Oak Avenue.

"We wanted to give back to the families affected, so we decided to donate 50 percent of our sales from today, open till close, to the families affected," said Chili's general manager, Anthony Evans.

Evans said he didn’t know the family before the crash claimed the lives of Sade Brantley, 13, and Madisyn Mitchell, 1, but many of his regular customers did.

"This is a very close-knit community," Evans said.

The tragedy resonated with many East Haven residents. Two customers even rescheduled their lunch plans to attend the fundraiser.

As of 6 p.m. on Thursday, Chili's had raised about $9,000.

"We’re going to eat a lot so we can give a lot," said Chili's customer Sharon Basserman, of Branford.

"I think it’s excellent. I wish more places would do that for all sorts of good causes," said Carolyn Paul. of Hamden.

This fundraiser will contribute to funeral expenses and help the Mitchell family rebuild their lives.

Tomika George is a childhood friend of the girls' mother, Joanna Mitchell. She came to the restaurant to support the family and said she's amazed at how well Mitchell is doing.

"She's holding up very well. It's unbelievable how she can say so high spirit," George said.

A funeral service will be held Friday.

Pilot Bill Henningsgaard and his son, Maxwell, were also killed in the crash. The Henningsgaards lived in Washington state and were flying east to visit colleges.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Police Open Fire on Watertown Driver


State police have arrested a Watertown man who reportedly tried to run over an officer at the 7-Eleven on Davis Street.

Keith Nettleton, 36, of 106 Edison Avenue in Watertown, was arrested Friday morning after leading police on a chase into Waterbury.

It happened around 8 a.m. while Watertown police were making a separate arrest at the 7-Eleven. Police said a man had attempted to rob the convenience store.

According to police, officers were at the scene when they recognized a car that pulled into the parking lot. Police said the car, driven by Nettleton, had been linked to a number of other crimes in the area.

When officers approached, Nettleton put the car in reverse and sped across the parking lot. The car "made slight contact" with one Watertown officer and came close to hitting a second, police said.

As the car approached, one Watertown officer fired a shot, according to police.

Police chased Nettleton onto Watertown Avenue in Waterbury. Nettleton lost control and hit a phone pole near Rosette Street, authorities said.

Nettleton tried to escape on foot, but police caught up to him before he could make it to the woods.

He was taken to Waterbury Hospital for treatment of a minor injury received during the crash and was later released.

Nettleton was charged with two counts of first-degree attempted assault, reckless endangerment, reckless driving, interfering with police and engaging police in pursuit.

He is being held on a $500,000 bond and is due in court Monday.

State police are continuing to investigate.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Drunken Man Gets Violent Over Coat Snub: Cops


West Haven police arrested a New Haven man accused of getting violent when a resident refused to give him a coat before dawn this morning, police said.

Police said Christopher Norris, 48, knocked on the door of a house, said he was homeless and asked for a coat. When the homeowner told Norris to leave, he grabbed a cinder block and threw it at the resident’s vehicle, causing extensive damage, police said.

As police responded to the scene at 12:45 a.m., Norris threw several rocks at the cruisers, police said.

Norris was arrested and charged with criminal mischief, breach of peace and assault on public safety personnel.

Norris is being held on bond and is due in court in Milford today.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Westport Wins First Game in Little League World Series


The Westport Little League Team has advanced to the second round of competition in the Little League World Series after beating Nashville 3-2 last night in the opening round.

Westport represents New England and will continue on to play the Northwest at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

If they win again, the Connecticut Little Leaguers will play again Wednesday. If they lose, they’ll play on Monday.

It looks good for Westport so far – they’re still undefeated after a 6-0 season and a promising first series game.

The team comprises eleven players ages 11 to 13. They headed to South Williamsport, Pa. to face off against 15 other national and international teams competing for the title of world champion.

The championship game will be held Sunday, Aug. 25 at 3 p.m.

Open ceremonies were held Thursday morning. Games will be broadcast on ESPN.

For the game schedule and stats, visit littleleague.org.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Blues Traveler to Headline Milford Oyster Festival


The Grammy Award-winning Blues Traveler has been playing venues all over the world since becoming a mega-star in the 1990s, and one stops on the current tour will be right here in a place you might not expect – the Milford Oyster Festival.

Blues Traveler will headline the festival, held on Saturday, Aug. 17.

“Blues Traveler has been on our band wish list for several years and we are thrilled to be able to finally bring them to our Main Stage” said Jay Pinto, vice president of the festival committee, in a written statement.

“We have a great stage and backdrop for Blues Traveler” said festival president Paula Smith. “This is a wonderful opportunity for fans to enjoy a free outdoor concert in our beautiful downtown harbor area.”

The 39th annual Milford Oyster Festival will take place Aug. 17, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m, rain or shine, in downtown Milford along the harbor.

Not only are oysters celebrated and shucked, you’ll also find arts and crafts as well as demonstrations.

Traffic Information:

Access to the Milford Center area will be restricted from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Streets that will be closed and/or have limited access include:

  • North Broad Street
  • South Broad Street
  • Depot Street
  • New Haven Avenue, (from Gulf Street
  • to Daniel Street)
  • Prospect Street (from Cherry Street to  New Haven Avenue
  • River Street (from Darina Place to New Haven Avenue)
  • Armory Lane
  • Factory Lane
  • Shipyard Lane
  • Center Street and High Street (from Jepson Drive to Helwig Street)

Access to the Railroad Station parking areas for railroad patrons will only be allowed from High Street.

On-street parking will be restricted within festival boundaries between 9 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Handicapped parking will be provided at the Milford Senior Center, Harborside Middle School and Wasson Field parking lot adjacent to West Main Street. There will be senior and handicap access shuttle transportation to and from these locations.

Access to the City Boat Launch on Shipyard Lane will be restricted from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Pets and coolers will not be allowed within the festival boundaries

Shuttle buses are being provided for festival patrons which will be picking up/dropping off at two locations in Milford; Jonathan Law High School and the Westfield Connecticut Post Shopping Mall. Shuttle services will operate from 9:30 a.m.  to 7 p.m.

For more information, visit the Oyster Festival website.

Sign up for alerts at the Milford Police Department website.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

New Milford U-12 Team Competes in Cal Ripken World Series


It’s an exciting month for Connecticut youth baseball – while players from Westport are competing for the title of Little League world champion, the under-12 team from New Milford headed to Aberdeen, Md. for the Cal Ripken World Series.

The New Milford team comprises 13 players and represents New England. On Wednesday, they beat out the Southwest 14-5 and will tackle the Mid-Atlantic team today at 3 p.m.

Top teams will face off Saturday, Aug. 17 in the U.S. and international championships. The Cal Ripken world champion will be crowned in the final game on Aug. 18.

New Milford’s record so far is 3-1.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Flickr RF

Police: New Haven Man Abuses 80-Year-Old, Struggles With Officers


A New Haven man is under arrest after reportedly abusing the 80-year-old man with whom he lived and struggling with the officers who came to question him, police said.

According to police, Todd Alecknovitch, 50, was arrested Wednesday afternoon after police received a report that he had been abusing Vincent Ferrucci, 80, with whom he shared a home at 53 Elm Street.

Police went looking for the suspect around 3:30 p.m. at his mother’s condo at 500 Prospect Street. Alecknovitch’s mother, Barbara Hare, let the two responding officers into her home. When Alecknovitch saw them, he ran into a bedroom, police said.

A struggle ensued as the 6’6”, 220-pound suspect tried to fight off police. Officers called for backup, and the additional police had to break down two locked doors to get into the condo, authorities said.

The altercation continued until police tasered the suspect. Even after being tasered and handcuffed, Alecknovitch struggled with police all the way to the cruiser. He complained of arthritis pain and was taken to Yale-New Haven hospital for an evaluation, police said.

Alecknovitch was charged with assault on an elderly person, domestic disorderly conduct, two counts of assault on a police officer and interfering with police.

Photo Credit: New Haven Police Department

Man Accused of Threatening Driver With Knife


New London police have arrested the man who reportedly walked out into the middle of the road and flashed a knife at the driver who almost hit him.

Reynaldo Guevarro, 59, of no known address, was arrested on State Street around 7:45 this morning, police said.

According to police, Guevarro walked out into the road near the intersection of Union and Masonic streets and was narrowly missed by a car driving on Masonic Street. The driver slammed on his brakes to avoid hitting Guevarro, at which point Guevarro approached the driver and started an argument.

Guevarro allegedly pulled out a large folding knife and pointed it at the driver, police said. The driver went directly to police headquarters.

Shortly thereafter, officers found Guevarro on State Street. He was arrested and charged with second-degree breach of peace, possession of a dangerous weapon and second-degree threatening.

Photo Credit: New London Police Department

Ikea Recalls Kritter and Sniglar Junior Beds


Ikea is recalling two kinds of junior beds after reports of faulty guard rails.

According to Connecticut's Department of Consumer Protection, 65-inch Kritter and Sniglar brand beds are being recalled after the furniture store received reports that a metal rod connecting the guard rail to the bed frame can break.

So far, two incidents have been reported, and there are no known injuries.

The pinewood Kritter beds have animal cut-outs on the headboard.

The model number is 600.904.70, and the serial number is 15361.

Singlar beds being recalled are beech wood and have a white fiberboard insert on the headboard and footboard.

The affected model number is 500.871.66, and the supplier numbers are 19740 and 18157.

Ikea sold about 22,000 beds for $60 to $90 between July 2005 and May 2013, according to the Department of Consumer Protection.

The furniture store is offering free repair kits. Call 888-966-4532 or visit the Ikea website for more information.

Photo Credit: Conn. Dept. of Consumer Protection

Suspect in Hartford Police Shooting Identified


Five months after the police shooting that killed a stabbing suspect in Hartford, police are releasing the suspect’s identity.

It happened March 15 around 10 p.m. when Hartford police responded to the report of a disturbance at 24 Heath Street. Officers arrived to find a trail of blood leading to the building and a suspect wielding a box cutter. He threatened police, and one of the officers shot him.

“That individual was armed with a box-cutter knife. The officer told him several times to disarm... He advanced and lunged toward the officer, which caused one of the officers to draw the service weapon,” said state police spokesman Lt. Paul Vance.

The suspect has been identified as 52-year-old Jesus Espinosa. He was pronounced dead at St. Francis Hospital.

The State Police Central District Major Crime Squad Detectives are investigating the incident.

Groundhogs Displaced by Busway Moved from Cemetery


Fairview Cemetery in New Britain has long been home to groundhogs, but now that the "CT Fastrak" busway is under construction in the graveyard, the project -- run by the state -- has agreed to reimburse the city government for a trap and release program.

CT Fastrak is a $567 million plan to build a 9.4-mile rapid busway between New Britain and Hartford.

On Wednesday night, the Common Council voted unanimously to approve relocating the groundhogs that have been displaced before they did any damage after moving over to the cemetery, according to the New Britain Herald.

"They're cute, they're huge, they're like the size of dogs," said Monica Michaud, who's seen the rodents as she walks along the cemetery fence.

One of the busway builders, Steve Francois of Empire Paving, said he's seen the groundhogs near a hedge in the cemetery.  

The groundhogs hide during the day from hawks and other predators.

Enid May's lived across Smalley Street from the fence since 2007.

"If I could run 'em over I would," she joked, but then admitted, "I enjoy them, I like watching them."

To see them in the future, she'll have to find them in a location where they won't tunnel under tombstones.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Bloomfield Police Arrest Bank Robbery Suspect


Bloomfield police have arrested the suspect who they say robbed a bank on June 3.

Richard T. Sheets, 48, of 245 East Barber Street in Windsor, was arrested Aug. 15.

Sheets is accused of robbing the Capitol Region Federal Credit Union at Wintonbury Mall. Police said Sheets entered the bank round 10 a.m. and gave the teller a note demanding money. Sheets took an unidentified amount of money and left, police said.

At the time of his Aug. 15 arrest, Sheets was being held by the state Dept. of Corrections on charges relating to a separate bank robbery in Windsor.

Sheets is accused of robbing the Sovereign Bank on Windsor Avenue on June 10, according to police.

Bloomfield police charged Sheets with second-degree robbery and third-degree larceny. He was given a $500,000 bond and is back in the custody of the Dept. of Corrections, police said.

Photo Credit: Bloomfield Police Department

Darien Police Warn Residents of Phone Scam


Darien police are warning residents to be wary of an ongoing phone scam that tends to target elderly residents and ask for money.

According to police, the caller will claim that one of the resident’s relatives, such as a grandchild, is abroad and having legal or financial trouble. Oftentimes, the caller will then ask for money to be wired or sent via Western Union or Money Gram.

The caller might impersonate a resident, lawyer or police officer. Many of the calls have been traced to Canada and Mexico, police said.

“Be very cautious if you receive a phone call claiming that a relative is in jail or needs financial assistance,” police said in a release issued by Det. Mark Cappelli. “Do not try to verify such information using phone numbers provided by the caller. If you need to confirm whether a relative is in custody in another state or country, call the Darien Police Department at 203-662-5300.”

Anyone with questions or information should call police or visit the police department’s website at darienpolice.org.

Mayor: NYCHA Residents Should All Be Fingerprinted


Mayor Bloomberg suggested Friday that New York City public housing residents should be fingerprinted as a way to fight crime in the system's 334 buildings.

Bloomberg, speaking on his weekly radio show, said NYCHA residents make up 5 percent of the city's population while 20 percent of New York City crimes are committed in public housing.

"The people that live there, most of them, want more police protection... If you have strangers walking in the halls of your apartment building, don’t you want somebody to stop and say, ‘Who are you? Why’re you here?’"

"What we really should have is fingerprinting to get in," he went on. "And of course ... there’s an allegation that some of these apartments aren’t occupied by the people who originally have the lease."

Bloomberg and the show host were talking about a judge who ruled this week that the NYPD's stop-and-frisk tactic is unconstitutional and assigned a monitor to oversee the development and implementation of reforms.

The same judge, Shira Scheindlin, is said to be ready to take up a case about police stops in public housing.

Several Democratic mayoral candidates blasted the mayor for the suggestion to fingerprint residents.

"Disrespectful. Disgraceful. No other words apply," former Comptroller Bill Thompson said in a statement. "Just like stop and frisk, this is another direct act of treating minorities like criminals."

Bill de Blasio, the city's public advocate, called it "outrageous and insulting."

"Once again, Mayor Bloomberg has resorted to presuming innocent people are guilty simply because they happen to live in certain areas, and in doing so he is stigmatizing entire communities."


Photo Credit: Getty Images

Police, Dispatcher Investigated Over Homicide Response Mix-Up


On Monday night, residents in the area of Linnmoore and Mountain streets in Hartford called police to report gunshots, but the body was not found until the next morning.

Police are now investigating whether police missed the body and the city of Hartford is investigating because the dispatcher first sent officers to the wrong address -- one almost a mile away from the actual crime scene.

Around 10:30 p.m., several neighbors made 911 calls to report a shooting in the 300 block of Linnwood, but the dispatcher sent police to an address in the 30s on Linnmoore Street.

This is the transcript from a call made at 10:30 p.m.

Dispatcher: Hartford 911
Caller: There was a shooting on my street, on Linnmoore Street
Dispatcher: Linnmoore right now?
Caller: Yeah. Yes. Right now
Dispatcher: What number?
Caller: Don't know. I live at (address in 300 block) It might be a little more up

In another call, you can hear a dispatcher hang up on a neighbor in frustration.

Dispatcher: OK, your name? Ma'am
Caller: My name doesn't matter. I don't want to get my name involved
Dispatcher: OK, fine. Goodbye (Followed by a hang up)

When sending police to the scene, the dispatcher sent them almost a mile away from the scene, in the 30s.

When police can't find anything, the dispatcher told them about another report from a corner house.

Dispatcher: She's at (300 block) of Linnmoore
Officer: OK, that's a big difference

Police finally responded to the correct address, but claimed nothing was going on.

The next morning, neighbors woke up and discovered a man’s body in the yard in the 300 block of Linnmoore. He had been shot to death.

One person who called 911 said police were there the night before for about an hour.

"I called last night because there were gunshots fired in our neighborhood ... and there were police right here combing the street and meanwhile not 20 feet away, there was a man dying in my neighbor's yard. There's a dead body right next to my house," one 911 caller said.

The victim has been identified as Valentine Santos, 21, of Vernon, and he died from gunshot wounds to the torso and extremities, according to the medical examiner's office.

The police department is investigating whether police made a mistake and the City of Hartford is looking into the mistake by the civilian dispatcher.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Hartford Man Accused of Unemployment Compensation Fraud


A Hartford man was arrested today and charged with illegally collecting over $15,000 in unemployment benefits.

According to the state Division of Criminal Justice, Noland R. Goffe, 51, of 40 Preston Street in Hartford is accused of collecting unemployment compensation while he was employed.

Goffe allegedly collected about $15,140 between Sept. 2011 and April 2012.

He was charged with first-degree larceny by defrauding a public community and unemployment compensation fraud.

Goffe could serve a combined sentence of up to 25 years in prison and be fined as much as $20,000.

He was released on a $10,000 non-surety bond and is due in court Aug. 22.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Groupon Releases Marriage Equality Video


Most companies try to stay out of divisive political issues, but Groupon makes no bones about it where it stands on marriage equality -- they're all in.

The Chicago-based company released an employee-produced video Friday showcasing their support of marriage equality in Illinois.

Groupon offers employment benefits to same-sex partners.

The company also plans to bus employees to a marriage equality march and rally in the Illinois capital Springfield on Oct. 22, designed to help secure passage of the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act.

America's Favorite Pandas


Don't miss these amazing photos of pandas and their cubs in action. Click to see the life of the beloved bamboo-crunching animals in various zoos.


Food Pantry to Hold Drive for New Haven Fire Victims


This weekend, a West Haven food pantry will collect food, money and paper goods to help more than 100 residents displaced by a three-alarm fire in New Haven.

Some 125 people were displaced when the Bella Vista senior living center went up in flames early Wednesday morning, according to West Haven Mayor John M. Picard.

A three-alarm electrical fire engulfed the complex around 4 a.m. Wednesday, injuring three firefighters and leaving many without a place to live, authorities said.

The displaced residents are staying at the Econo Lodge hotel in West Haven, and the mayor is asking for help in getting them back on their feet.

Mayor Picard released a statement Friday asking community members to lend a hand this weekend. On Sunday, the WHEAT food pantry will be collecting food and supplies for Bella Vista residents.

The pantry, located at 647 Washington Avenue, is normally closed on Sunday but will open from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. for the Bella Vista drive.

Sixty firefighters responded to the blaze on Eastern Street. Officials said the fire started in a 13th-floor electrical closet and made its way downstairs to the 9th floor.

Now, crews are working to make repairs and move residents back in as quickly as possible.

But that could still take more than three weeks, according to officials from the management company.

For more information, call the WHEAT food pantry at 203-931-9877.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Muslim Foodies Host California's First Halal Food Fest


Muslim foodies are celebrating the end of the fast with California's first Halal Fest, where nearly two dozen vendors are selling everything from halal hot dogs to cake pops. All the goodies have been prepared according to Islamic dietary law.

Halal Fest is being held today at New Park Mall in Newark, Calif. The free festival comes on the heels of other halal-focused events elsewhere, including in New Jersey, Chicago and Toronto.

“I got the idea after I visited New York City,” said Irfan Rydhan of San Jose, 38, a self-described “halal foodie” and Muslim activist who is one of eight key California Halal Fest organizers. “I saw all these halal food carts, and I wondered why we couldn’t do that here.” 

So he started talking to friends last summer and began planning the festival, which will boast not only food but also Moroccan jazz and skateboard, fitness, chess and hip-hop demonstrations. Rydhan said he hopes at least 2,000 people will attend.  As of this week, his group’s Facebook page has more than 1,200 “likes.”

The California festival follows what Sameer Sarmast of  Sameer's Eats started last summer in New Brunswick, N.J., where about 3,000 halal-lovers came to what was dubbed as the country's first halal food fest.

"It was pretty successful," Sarmast, the online host of the Muslim equivalent to Guy Fieri, told NBC Bay Area on Tuesday.

PHOTOS: Halal Snow Ice, Kebobs and Southern Fried Chicken 

It appears the halal craze is catching on.

"It’s crazy how much interest there is in this," said Aysha Mohsin, 28, of Milpitas, another Halal Fest organizer. "Food is at the center of bringing so many people together. And food trucks are so trendy right now. We just thought, 'Why not host a festival?'"

Halal means “permissible” in Arabic and is similar to kosher food for Jews. Muslims who keep halal don’t eat pork or drink alcohol. Animals must be slaughtered in a particular way and God’s name must be invoked during the act.

And it’s not just kabobs and falafel that are considered halal. Just take a look at this festival’s menu to see the wide array of halal offerings: Brisket soft tacos by King’s BBQ and Grill in Fremont, southern fried chicken by New Africa Kitchen prepared at the Masjid Waritheen mosque in Oakland, chocolate-dipped bananas by Livermore Donut Wheel, organic cupcakes by RajaBelle’s in San Jose, bean and carrot pies by Raoof’s in San Jose and mango orange piña coladas (virgin, of course) from Maui Wowi Hawaiian Coffee and Smoothies.

For the Halal Fest organizers, the event means more than just having a calorie-rich day eating chicken tikka masala and sipping New Africa sweet tea. It’s about embracing a rich, religious tradition and showcasing the diversity of the culture to the rest of the world. It’s also, organizers believe, a way to become closer to God.

“This is going to be a historic event for California,” Rydhan said. “We believe in the spiritual benefits on halal food. We believe if you put good things in your body, then good things will happen to you in your life.”

IF YOU’RE INTERESTED: To learn more about Halal Fest, click on halalfest.com. The event is free. Food tokens are available at the festival and online. Please bring a canned item of food, no pork please, to  donate. The festival runs from noon to 7 p.m. Parking is free.

To see a promotional video about the Halal Fest on Youtube, click here:




Photo Credit: Tasin Sabir
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