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New Haven Students Return to School This Morning


As thousands of students return to school in New Haven this morning, a new superintendent is overseeing the city’s schools.

Supt. Garth Harries will make stops at all city schools and even walk to school with some students.

Several activities are planned throughout the day, including a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9 a.m. for the new East Rock School, a magent school on Nash Street.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Chicago Mayor's Plea to Parents: Don't Boycott School


Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called on parents to ignore calls for a school boycott and send their kids to class on Wednesday as planned.

"You have a disagreement? The court has spoken to that. You don’t like something? There’s another way to speak of it. Do not take the kids out of school and harm them and their future," Emanuel said Tuesday. "Do not use the kids that way. They don’t have a day to waste when it comes to their education."

The boycott in protest of the recent school closures was scheduled to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. It's also scheduled to happen at about the time the Chicago Board of Education votes on a $5.58 billion budget and comes amid another call by protesters for an elected school board.

Michelle Young of the group Action Now said the boycott will make a statement that parents are standing up for the rights of their children.

"I feel [Chicago Public Schools] is using our children," she said. "They're using them as pawns. We're asking for much. We're asking for a new, elected school board that has our children's education at heart."

Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said the boycott sets a bad example for children.

"Removing children from the classroom for even one day is unacceptable," Byrd-Bennett said in a statement. "Our students belong in the classroom with their teachers getting the instruction they need to be on a path to a successful and bright future."

Mother Katrina Martin, who has four children in CPS, insisted Tuesday night that all of her kids will be in classes. She said she feels a boycott will do more harm than good.

"What would make a difference? If we keep all of them out of school for that one day to attend ... what are they doing to get out of it?

Her son agreed.

"I need to be in school to get everything out the way and get my word done," he said.

Action Now and other groups say their protest for change will begin at 8:30 a.m. They'll gather at CPS Headquarters, at 125 S. Clark St., and march to City Hall, at 121 N. LaSalle St.

Photo Credit: NBC 5

DeMaio Confronts City Hall Bathroom Rumors


Congressional candidate Carl DeMaio called a news report accusing him of masturbating in a San Diego City Hall restroom as “disgusting, humiliating and nothing more than a character assassination attempt.”

The former San Diego City councilmember and 2012 mayoral hopeful became emotional after speaking with NBC 7 News about allegations published Thursday in a “Voice of Orange County” article.

Quoting former City Councilmember and current Democratic State Sen. Ben Hueso, the article claims that in 2009, city officials and members of the press knew that DeMaio, a Republican, would regularly excuse himself from Council Chambers to masturbate in the bathroom.

In an exclusive interview with NBC 7, DeMaio offered up results of a polygraph taken Aug. 26.

Paul Redden, a polygraph examiner often used by local law enforcement agencies and defense attorneys alike, asked DeMaio if he recalled masturbating in the City Hall bathroom when Ben Hueso walked in. A second question asked if Ben Hueso ever saw DeMaio masturbate.

The polygraph examiner concluded “subject was not attempting deception when he answered ‘no' to the above relevant questions.”

On behalf of DeMaio, attorney Robert Ottilie sent a letter to the "Voice of Orange County" on Friday demanding it publish a correction.

“In politics, you see people make accusations all the time. And you know, I’ve had people criticize me before and I usually let it roll off my back,” DeMaio said.

“But this one crosses the line. It’s so gross. It’s so false, that I have to speak out. I have to present the truth.”

DeMaio, who announced in May his intention to run against newly-elected Democratic Rep. Scott Peters in San Diego's 52nd Congressional District, said he thought the rumor was dead after 2009. Then, he said the same story was “shopped around” to local newspapers in October 2012 during a heated mayoral race with now-outgoing Mayor Bob Filner.

“Local papers in San Diego saw it for being a lie and dismissed it,” DeMaio said. “And now, conveniently the timing, of bringing it out right as a new mayoral race starts. It’s very clear what this is.”

Demaio blamed Hueso and organized labor for spreading the accusations, the same groups he said worked to get Bob Filner into office.

Read DeMaio's Full Interview Here

Hueso's office told NBC 7 that he stands by the statements he made, but is not available to be interviewed further.

In the article, Hueso was quoted as saying former Councilmember Tony Young once described a DeMaio masturbation incident to him.

Young issued us a statement today, saying: "During my tenure with the city I never witnessed Mr. DeMaio do anything inappropriate as a member of the City Council."

Calls to labor leaders and political opponents or other councilmembers mentioned in the disputed coverage were not returned to NBC 7.

NBC 7 News was not aware of the allegations until the article was published Thursday.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 News

Transgender Woman's Beating Death Sparks Rally in Harlem


Hundreds of people gathered in Harlem Tuesday night to mourn the 21-year-old transgender woman who was beaten to death, allegedly after a group of men discovered she was born male. 

Islan Nettles died of blunt impact injuries to the head after she was assaulted by a group of men near 148th Street and Eighth Avenue on Aug. 17, authorities say. 

Nettles' mother cried as she spoke to the crowd at a rally to denounce hate crimes against the gay and transgender communities Tuesday.

"Thank you for supporting my baby," said Delores Nettles. "I'm going to make sure it does not happen again."

There was a series of anti-gay attacks in the spring across New York City; more recently, a gay couple was attacked while leaving a movie theater in Chelsea. 

City Council speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn. who is openly gay, said, "Eventually enough has to be enough. I don't know what's wrong with some people, why who I am or who transgendered people are is offensive to them, but at the end of the day I don't really care. It is not OK for people to act out their feelings in a violent way."

Transgender activist Nicole Bowles said, "In 2013, for us to still be stuck in that stigma, and society to still be so angry because a person chooses to be what their heart desires is very unfortunate." 

Also at the vigil was transgender actress Laverne Cox, who has risen to fame on the new hit show "Orange Is the New Black." 

"It saddens me that a 21-year-old girl, that her life was taken away for no good reason, because of hatred, because of misunderstanding," she said. 

Police have charged a suspect with assault.

Birmingham Bell Brought to D.C. for March Anniversary


The bell that rang in Birmingham, Ala., on the day four girls were killed in a bombing made its way to Washington, D.C., for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

The bell was loaned to the District by Birmingham officials for Wednesday's events, marking the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech Aug. 28, 1963.

On Sept. 15, 1963, the bell rang at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham as it had any other Sunday. That same day, an explosion at the church killed four young girls, fueling the Civil Rights Movement.

The bell was unloaded at the Lincoln Memorial Tuesday. Presidents Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama are among the speakers during Wednesday's ceremony.

MLK Dream March on Washington Anniversary

Dems to Meet in Only New Haven Mayoral Debate Wednesday


Four candidates vying for the Democratic nomination for mayor of New Haven square off Wednesday night in their only debate.

Former Hillhouse High School principal Kermit Carolina, former New Haven economic administrator Henry Fernandez, State Sen. Toni Harp and Alderman Justin Elicker all want to succeed current mayor John DeStefano.

DeStefano decided not to run again after serving 20 years as New Haven's mayor.

The candidates will gather at the Long Wharf Theater for the hour-long debate and it will be show live on NBC Connecticut beginning at 7 p.m. The debate will also be livestreamed on NBCConnecticut.com.

The Democratic primary for mayor in New Haven is Sept. 10.

If you would like to watch the debate in person, tickets are available for free at the Long Wharf Theater box office beginning at 10 a.m. They will be handed out on a first come, first served basis. Doors will open at 6 p.m. and those attending must be in their seats by 6:45 p.m.

SCSU Football Founder Inducted into Hall of Fame


The College Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony happens tonight in Atlanta and one of the people being honored is Jesse L. “Jess” Dow, the founder of the intercollegiate athletic program at Southern Connecticut State University and the university’s first football coach.

The National Football Foundation announced in May that he would be inducted into the Hall of Fame’s Class, according to SCSU.

The is the coach of the “only unbeaten-untied (9-0-0) team in Southern Connecticut State history,” according to the National Football Foundation.

The ceremony will showcase the careers of 24 of college football’s greatest legends, including Dow, according to a news release for the event.

“Jess Dow left an indelible legacy on the Southern Connecticut State University community over the span of four different decades in his roles as a coach, administrator and faculty member,” Director of Athletics Patricia Nicol said in May. “He set the foundation for sustained athletic excellence for our football program and the entire athletic department. I am extremely pleased that the National Football Foundation has selected him for this prestigious honor. It is certainly well-deserved for his many contributions to SCSU, to college football, and to college athletics on the whole.”

Dow coached the Owls for 18 years, between 19-48 and 1965 and had 16 winning seasons and
Southern’s Jess Dow Field was dedicated in 1988.

The Texas native played for the Philadelphia Eagles for three seasons before serving in World War II, according to Southern.

He died in 2003 at the age of 88, according to the National Football Foundation.


10-Foot Python Found in Burger King Parking Lot


A 10-foot python was captured Tuesday in the parking lot of a New Jersey Burger King after a construction crew fixing a sewer line spotted the reptile.

It had apparently been seen in recent days, moving through the grass near the Passaic River in Paterson.

On Tuesday morning, the construction crew saw the snake and called animal control officers, who then contacted local snake expert Jerry Zelenka.

Zelenka, who conducts animal education programs through his organization Touch of Nature, estimated the Burmese python was about 10 feet long and 40 to 45 pounds.

He said the snake wasn't venomous or dangerous, but "they'll give you a bite you won't enjoy, if you are bitten."

Zelenka guessed the snake was a pet because it was well-fed and healthy. 

"It's probably not the most agreeable snake at the moment," he added.

He plans to treat the snake for possible worms or parasites, then clean it and feed it. He hopes to introduce it to other snakes in his collection of featured reptiles in his educational program. 

Boy Who Fell In Sand Dune Meets Rescuers


The boy who survived a sand dune collapse got to meet the team who rescued him.

Nathan Woessner fell into a hole last month at Mount Baldy, a popular dune at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and was buried for hours under 11 feet of sand.

Incredibly, Nathan survived and recovered, leaving the hospital two weeks after his fall and starting first grade with his peers.

Nathan and his family joined the rescuers Wednesday at events hosted by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Michigan City Mayor Ron Meer. Nathan received a standing ovation as the chamber filled to overflowing.

"We gather today to celebrate ... an act of heroism by a multitude of individuals who showed the courage and the determination to rise to the challenge," Indiana Gov. Pence said. "This rescue occurred because of swift thinking, because of collaboration."

Pence unveiled a proclamation honoring the 139 public safety workers and others who worked to save Nathan, calling it a "miracle on Mount Baldy."

Woessner spent three-and-a-half hours trapped in the sand and was taken to the hospital in critical condition. At Comer Children's Hospital, he was breathing with a ventilator for a week.

Woessner's grandfather, Pastor Don Reul, said the boy was at the dunes with his parents and another couple. The boy was walking to the top of Mt. Baldy with his dad, an adult friend of the family and another boy when he fell.

"Part of the way up, Nathan stepped into a sink hole and disappeared out of the sight," Reul said. "They immediately went back, and he was nowhere to be seen. The ground had swallowed him up."

Woessner was hollering out, Reul said, and they frantically began to dig to get him out.

Officials say Woessner was found 11 feet down in the sand. Michigan City Fire Chief Ronnie Martin said his crews used heavy machinery to locate the boy.

The area around the dune remains closed indefinitely after officials reported finding a second sinkhole near the area where Nathan was swallowed up.

Crews from the Environmental Protection Agency found the hole, which is about 10 inches in diameter and at least five feet deep, during a sweep of the area with ground-penetrating radar.

"This is obviously a very rare occurrence but we know it's not a unique occurrence," park ranger Bruce Rowe said.

Photo Credit: Charlie Wojciechowski / NBCChicago.com

Jury Deliberating Death Sentence for Hasan


The jury is now deliberating a possible death sentence for convicted Fort Hood mass murderer Nidal Hasan, after prosecutors gave their final plea for the rare sentence Wednesday.

Deliberations began at about 11 a.m. CT, after Hasan declined to make any closing statement in the sentencing phase of his trial.

The same jury convicted Hasan Friday on 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder for the 2009 mass shooting.

Before Hasan’s turn came to speak Wednesday morning, prosecutor Colonel Mike Mulligan spent around 45 minutes recalling for the jury the victims’ family members who testified and other evidence of the crime presented in the prior 16 days of trial.

“We ask you now with your sentence to make him accountable,” Mulligan said. “Today will be his day of reckoning.”

Anticipating what Hasan could say in a closing statement, Mulligan refuted what Hasan has said before in documents released to the media about religious motives for the crime.

“He is not giving his life. We are taking his life. It is not his gift to God. It is his death,” Mulligan said.

Hasan mentioned religious motives in a brief opening statement at the beginning of the trial.

He told an Army sanity review board in 2010 that he would be a “martyr” if he is executed for the crime which he considered part of a holy war to stop soldiers from fighting in Afghanistan.

“He will not now and he never will be a martyr. He is a criminal. He is a cold-blooded murderer,” Mulligan said.

Representing himself in the trial, Hasan rarely raised any objections and presented no defense evidence.

The judge repeatedly asked if he wanted to have lawyers but he declined.

Stand-by attorneys again Tuesday attempted to intercede on Hasan’s behalf but the judge told them Hasan is the “captain of his own ship.”

The stand-by lawyers have said before they believe Hasan is helping prosecutors win the death sentence they are seeking.

Hasan was forbidden from pleading guilty in the death penalty case under military law.

Follow the story from Fort Hood via @KenKalthoffNBC5 who is tweeting from the Army base.

Greenwich Student Commits Suicide After First Day of School


A 15-year-old Greenwich High School sophomore committed suicide hours after classes started for the new school year and a town official said bullying might have been a factor.

Bartlomiej "Bart" Palosz died on Tuesday night from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to police, who are investigating what they called a tragic suicide.

School started on Tuesday morning, according to the Greenwich Public Schools' Web site.

Greenwich First Selectman Peter Tesei told Hearst Connecticut Media Group that residents who knew the student said bullying might have contributed to his decision to take his own life.

Town officials held a news conference at 1 p.m. at town hall to address the student's death and would not say if bullying played a role in the suicide. They are still investigating.

“We stand here in support of the family and the community of friends to work with them to stand with them at this time of horrific tragedy," Tesei said.

"We do not want any of our other children to make that decision and my hats are off to his sister for in a time of pain coming out to say, 'Please, please how can you understand what would lead Bart to make that decision," Supt. Bill McKersie said.

The superintendent said more needs to be done about monitoring student's social media activity.

"I don’t know if Bart made the decision we are investigating, but as a parent, we are in a new time in terms of social media.Things that are shared that are said, that may not be meant," McKersie said. "Any parent needs to say, 'How do I monitor what my child is doing? And, if I am a young adult in the school and community and I see something online, just don’t let it sit."

"Our deepest sympathies go out to his family, friends and teachers. School crisis teams have been convened at the high school, Western Middle School and New Lebanon School, the schools that he attended," the school said in a statement.

Greenwich police said the preliminary investigation revealed that the family owned the gun, which was stored in a gun locker in the house.

"The incident continues to be investigated by members of the Greenwich Police Detective Division. With respect to both the family and sensitive nature of this type of investigation, no other information will be released at this time," police said in a statement. 

The family is from Poland and students wore red, the color of the Polish flag, and black to school today.

School officials have provided mental health personnel to counsel anyone who is in need and referred other questions to the Greenwich Police Department.

"Out of respect for his family no other details will be released from the Greenwich Public Schools," the schools' statement said.
The school statement went on to say: 

"We take seriously the importance of a positive school climate and the safety and well-being of our students and staff. Any indications that a student is experiencing significant mental health distress is addressed at the school level by personnel trained to recognize and respond to these concerns. Importantly, if any staff member believes that a student poses a danger to him/herself, or others, parents are notified and the student is immediately referred to outside supports and providers."

Police also provided phone numbers for people to call for help, including hotlines and crisis services.

  • Police Department: 911
  • United Way of Connecticut (Crisis Hotline):211
  • Department of Children and Families Careline /Emergency Mobile Psychiatric Services: 1-800-842-2288
  • National Hopeline: 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
  • The National Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255); TTY number: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889)


$2.5 Million Federal Grant to Fund Newtown Response


The U.S. Justice Department is providing almost $2.5 million in funding to organizations that responded to the school shooting in Newtown in December.

The funding compensates organizations, including the Connecticut State Police, the Newtown Police Department and partner agencies, for costs related to overtime, forensics and security during and in the aftermath of the shooting that took the lives of 20 first graders and six staff members.

First Selectman E. Patricia Llodra said in a statement that the town “sincerely appreciates” the support from the federal government. 

“For many months we have been working with representatives of the DoJ to document and justify expenses related to police overtime, forensics, and security subsequent to the shootings at Sandy Hook School on Dec 14,” Llodra said in a statement. “These substantial expenses were borne by municipal budgets in Newtown and Monroe, by state police, and by our many mutual aid and partner police agencies.”

She said that the town "borrowed" from cash reserves, and the grant will allow Newtown to repay what town officials took from savings.

“Providing support to the law enforcement agencies that responded to the horrific scene that awaited them at Sandy Hook Elementary School is one small action we can take to bring healing to a community that’s been devastated,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. “Just over eight months after this senseless tragedy, those who lost their lives, and those who continue to grieve, remain in our thoughts and prayers.”

The funding will be distributed as follows:

  • Connecticut State Police: $663,444 for State Police troopers’ overtime to assist Newtown Police with tactical response and law enforcement activities in the aftermath.
  • Town of Newtown: $602,293 for police officers’ time during the past school year (December 14, 2012 – June 2013) to respond to the shooting, provide public protection services in the aftermath and monitor schools.
  • Town of Monroe: $882,812 for police officers’ time to secure and monitor SHES Chalk Hill during past school year (December 14, 2012 – June 2013) as well upcoming school year (August – December 2013), and surveillance equipment for the SHES Chalk Hill school.
  • Partner agencies: $296,836 for local police officers’ time to provide “mutual aid” during tactical response as well as during the aftermath through June 2013.

These include the jurisdictions of Avon, Bethel, Bloomfield, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Clinton, Coventry, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Fairfield, Glastonbury, Groton, Meriden, Middletown, New Britain, Newington, New Canaan, New Milford, Norwalk, Orange, Plainville, Redding, Ridgefield, Seymour, Shelton, Southington, Stratford, Trumball, Waterbury, Watertown, Wilton, Weston and Wolcott.

Photo Credit: AP

Reports of Heat Exhaustion; Crowd Chants for Entry


As security checkpoint lines backed up, several people reportedly passed out due to heat exhaustion while waiting to get into Wednesday's 'Let Freedom Ring' ceremony on the National Mall.

D.C. resident Lauren Breland got in line at 10 a.m. -- and two hours later, she said she could stretch out and touch the spot she started in. But it's not the crowd that's concerning her; it's the fact that emergency crews are having trouble getting through.

"People have heat exhaustion, you have all ages here," she said. "Somebody just went down. And the problem is you can't get to your folks.... And if you just see folks waving their hands, you're not going to think it's a 911 situation. I haven't seen any emergency vehicles."

Some emergency medical technicians are on foot in the crowd. Around noon, NBC Washington's Mila Mimica (@MilaMimica1) said EMTs are whistling every six or seven minutes, trying to get through the throngs to reach those having trouble.

At least four people have passed out, Breland said.

A large crowd standing behind a metal barrier chanted "Let us in, let us in" repeatedly as mounted U.S. Park Police officers stood watch.

Several people took to social media to describe the problems.


Temperatures at mid-day Wednesday were hovering around 80. At the 1963 March, the high reached just 83, but more than 1,300 attendees were treated for heat exhaustion.

There’s only one checkpoint at Breland's location east of the Lincoln Memorial, near the Pacific side of the World War II Memorial -- and a crowd of thousands, she estimated.

"It is just a mob that comes in straight from Constitution and 17th, because they only have three ways that they're letting folks in...." she said. "It's a ruly crowd, it's not unruly..."

The attendees who spoke to News4's Tom Sherwood were split -- some were patient; some were furious. Several ambulances were standing by, with one man sitting on a gurney, he said.

Breland said there were only a handful of checkpoint lanes, and no end in sight.

"It's incredible. It's dangerous," Breland said. "There's no lines, there's no orderliness of it. Folks are taking it in stride; it's just the damages that could result from this."

Two cooling buses are nearby, but far enough away that not everyone might be aware of them, Sherwood said.

Watch NBCWashington Wednesday for live streaming of the events starting at 11 a.m.

MLK Dream March on Washington Anniversary



Country's Tallest Rocket Blasts Off From California


A powerful 235-foot tall rocket -- the tallest launch vehicle in the country -- climbed toward the sky with a roar heard for miles along the California coast when it took off Wednesday morning from Vandenberg Air Force Base (map) northwest of Santa Barbara.

The Delta IV Heavy rocket carried a top-secret defense satellite into space. The launch was conducted by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and The Boeing Company formed in 2006 to conduct space missions for the U.S. Department of Defense, NASA, Air Force and other agencies.

The launch marks the second time a towering and powerful Delta IV Heavy rocket took off from the West Coast. In January 2011, a sound wave blasted over the nearby community of Lompoc as the rocket unleashed a roar that could be heard about 50 miles away.

The Delta IV, actually a three-booster cluster, is the nation's tallest rocket in regular service. It can carry payloads up to 24 tons to low-Earth orbit and 11 tons to the orbit used by communications satellites.

The tallest rocket to launch in the 21st Century is NASA's Ares 1. It stood 327 feet tall and was launched in October 2009 to test a rocket design for a crew capsule that was part of a now-defunct program.

Saturn V retains the title of tallest rocket at 363 feet tall. The three-stage booster launched astronauts on space missions in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

More Southern California Stories:

Explosion Levels NJ House, Woman Killed


A woman died in an explosion at her New Jersey home Wednesday morning, and police say she had called neighbors for help on her cell phone, but they couldn't reach her. 

State Police Lt. Stephen Jones said authorities received a call about a possible explosion at a home on New Street in Hunterdon County's Hampton Borough shortly before 7 a.m.

The house was engulfed in flames when first responders arrived, and part of it collapsed, he said. 

Authorities found her body in the basement, police said.

Fire officials said there was no natural gas line to the house, and the owner may have used a propane tank in the backyard. The cause of the explosion is under investigation.

Houses on either side of the wrecked home were evacuated as a precaution. 

--Tracie Strahan contributed to this story

Photo Credit: Rich Maxwell

Military Couple's Photo Prompts Outpouring of Support


An image of a San Diego Marine and his wife taken last week while vacationing in Idaho has become a national sensation.

Special Section: San Diego Military News

In the picture, Kelly Cottle is carrying her husband Jesse Cottle, a war veteran and double amputee, on her back.

The moment – very natural and routine for the couple – was captured during a recent family photo shoot.

When the photographer suggested a group picture in the water, she was unsure how Jesse would manage.

“He'll just take his legs off, and we can carry him in and get the photos, so that's how it came about,” Kelly explained. “It was all pretty spur-of-the-moment.”

The result was a candid photo that has captured America’s hearts.

Through the photographer’s Facebook page, the image has received thousands of likes, shares and comments.

Now home in San Diego, the reality of their new found viral fame is hitting the military couple.

While the media attention may be surreal and bizarre, the couple said it’s the reaction of people across the country that has meant the most. At times, the comments have left them speechless.

“That’s why it’s the best thing to me to know that those are the kinds of people that are out there and they do care,” Kelly said.

It’s a very humbling story when you consider how it all began.

Helmet cam video captured the Marine Staff Sergeant's IED-clearing mission in 2009. About five hours into mission, Jesse was struck by an IED.

He has come a long way since.

“My faith carried me through,” Jesse said.

He’s thankful for the opportunity to go through the process of learning to live with his injuries.

“Plenty of my friends and other friends and family members, as everyone knows, don’t make it back at all and don’t have that opportunity,” he said.

The act of Kelly carrying him on piggyback is not unusual. It’s a natural and easy way they get around other situations like visiting the beach. However Jesse understands the message the photo sends.

“It really represents just any adversity that anyone is dealing with,” Jesse said. “It represents just getting through day by day and having a positive attitude and overcoming.”

“It's inspiring to me and to us that our nation does hold military in that type of regard, and holds a woman who can carry her husband figuratively and physically at times in high regard as well,” Jesse said. “That humbles me and inspires me.”

“I just remind myself that if we can have a positive impact or encourage anyone out there, it's worth it,” said Kelly.

And as if this story needed any other positive result, it’s also been a boost for the photographer, who was on maternity leave at the time of the Cottles’ shoot. Jesse and Kelly said the woman’s phone has been ringing nonstop.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 News

Killingworth Park to Reopen After Poison Threat


Chatfield Hollow State Park in Killingworth has reopened today after Department of Energy and Environmental Protection employees received threatening e-mails that included a threat to poison the waters.

Tests of the water showed no harmful substance, officials said. 

On Tuesday, officers from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection arrested Wayde A. Isakson, 55, of Madison, who is accused of sending emails that threatened to kill people at DEEP and to poison the waters at Chatfield Hollow State Park.

DEEP officials said several employees received "threatening" emails, starting around 3 p.m. and no one was specifically targeted.

In response to the threats, DEEP emergency officials closed the Chatfield Hollow Park and swimming area.

"We do our best to patrol actively and we hope the public will keep an eye out on things and assist us in our mission to have an open society yet be safe.," said Col. Kyle Overturf of the DEEP.

DEEP offiicals said they do not think any other parts of the park were in danger or threatened and they are looking in whether there is a link between Isakson and the state agency.

"It's kind of sad because we go there a lot," said Erin Fredericksen, of Killingworth, whose mother was rushed out of the park when officials shut it down. "It's a good place."

John O'Leary, another Killingworth resident, was surprised by the threat.

"That just sounds crazy to me. It seems outrageous," O'Leary said.

Isakson was charged with first-degree threatening, first-degree breach of peace and making terroristic threats. He was taken to the State Police Troop F barracks in Westbrook to be processed.

State police say Isakson has been turned over to a medical facility for evaluation.

He is due in court in Middletown on Sept. 10.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Fort Hood Shooter Sentenced to Death


Convicted Fort Hood gunman Maj. Nidal Hasan was sentenced to death by lethal injection in an unanimous decision of 13 jurors at the Texas Army base on Wednesday afternoon.

The jury also stripped Hasan of his pay.  As NBC 5 Investigates first reported, since his 2009 arrest, Hasan has received $300,000 in pay.  According to Fort Hood officials, any forfeiture of pay and allowances included in a sentence of a court-martial does not take effect until 14 days after the sentence is adjudged. 

Deliberation began about 11 a.m. after Hasan declined to make any closing statement in the sentencing phase of his trial. The jury returned at about 2 p.m. and sentenced him to death.

Hasan had no visible reaction with the sentence was read.

The same jury convicted Hasan last Friday on 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder for the 2009 mass shooting.

Hasan will now be flown on the first available flight to the maximum security U.S. military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where he will be placed on death row while awaiting lengthy, automatic appeals.

Legal experts said appeals will likely last for years, delaying Hasan's execution by lethal injection.

Before Hasan’s turn came to speak Wednesday morning, prosecutor Col. Mike Mulligan spent around 45 minutes recalling for the jury the testimony of victim's families and other evidence of the crime presented during the prior 16 days of trial.

“We ask you now, with your sentence, to make him accountable,” Mulligan said. “Today will be his day of reckoning.”

Anticipating what Hasan could say in a closing statement, Mulligan refuted what Hasan has said before in documents released to the media about religious motives for the crime.

“He is not giving his life. We are taking his life. It is not his gift to God. It is his death,” Mulligan said.

Hasan mentioned religious motives in a brief opening statement at the beginning of the trial.

He told an Army sanity review board in 2010 that he would be a “martyr” if he is executed for the crime which he considered part of a holy war to stop soldiers from fighting in Afghanistan.

“He will not now and he never will be a martyr. He is a criminal. He is a cold-blooded murder,” Mulligan said.

Representing himself in the trial, Hasan rarely raised any objections and presented no defense evidence.

The judge repeatedly asked if he wanted to have lawyers but he declined.

Stand-by attorneys again Tuesday attempted to intercede on Hasan’s behalf but the judge told them Hasan is the “captain of his own ship.”

The stand-by lawyers have said before they believe Hasan is helping prosecutors win the death sentence they are seeking.

Hasan was forbidden from pleading guilty in the death penalty case under military law.

Follow the story from Fort Hood via @KenKalthoffNBC5 who is tweeting from the Army base.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article said that Maj. Nidal Hasan would be stripped of his rank.  According to Fort Hood officials, that is an error.

Second Home Hit by Plane Demolished


The home of Sade Bryant and Madisyn Mitchell, two girls killed when a plane crashed into it August 9, was demolished on Wednesday, as neighbors on Charter Oak Avenue and James Street in East Haven looked on.

"The memories are gone," said Edward Tracey, who rushed to the scene after a twin-engine turbo prop fell from the sky on approach to Tweed-New Haven Airport.

"I was just saying to myself, 'Boy, the poor kids suffered for nothing. All because of the stupid pilot," he said.

Also killed in the crash were the pilot, Bill Henningsgaard, a former Microsoft executive in Seattle, and his 17-year-old son, Maxwell.

"And I tell you," said Tracey, "after the first time I seen the flames -- that was awhile back now -- I was so hurt inside me."

State and local authorities lost patience with the pilot's insurance company and directed DEEP to hire demolition contractor Connecticut Tank Removal of Bridgeport. 

DEEP's Cost Recovery Unit will pursue the insurance company for reimbursement for demolition and cleanup.

"All the contaminated materials that are now in the basement will be removed as contaminated waste and sent off to an approved facility," said Jeff Chandler, of DEEP's Emergency Response Unit.

He said if soil samples show the ground around the home is contaminated, it will be removed too.  

Radiothon Will Benefit Connecticut Children's Medical Center


A local radio station is giving back this week by hosting a special three-day broadcast to raise money – and awareness – for the Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford.

Starting Thursday, 102.9 DRC-FM will hold its 11th annual Children’s Miracle Network Hosptials Radiothon event, broadcast live from the CCMC café.

The event will feature success stories from patients and their families.

Over the past 10 years, Radiothon has raised $1.7 million for CCMC. Tthis year’s goal is to break $2 million, according to a statement from the hospital.

To donate, listeners can call 1-800-852-KIDS Thursday and Friday from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Donations can also be made online at connecticutchildrens.org. All money raised will go directly to the hospital.

Last year, Radiothon raised more than $232,000.

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