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Teen Charged in Car Break-Ins


South Windsor police have arrested a local teen accused of breaking into cars.

Police were investigating several car break-ins that happened in July and said investigators learned that Matthew Bernard, 19, of South Windsor, and another man stole headphones and a GPS unit from two vehicles.

On Wednesday, police arrested Bernard on two outstanding warrants.

He has been charged with burglary in the third degree, conspiracy to commit larceny in the sixth degree and conspiracy to commit burglary in the third degree.

Bernard was later released on a $100 non-surety bond and is scheduled to appear at Manchester Superior Court on Sept. 12.

Photo Credit: South Windsor police

Gabrielle Barely Remains a Tropical Cyclone


Tropical Depression Gabrielle is maintaining its maximum sustained winds of 30 mph but it is barely remaining a tropical cyclone and is expected to weaken further Thursday night or Friday, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

As of 5 p.m., Gabrielle was moving northwest at 9 mph and was located about 30 miles south-southwest of Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.

Gabrielle was downgraded from a tropical storm to a tropical depression Thursday morning. Gabrielle is expected to degenerate into a remnant low-pressure area Thursday night for Friday as its center passes near or over the eastern Dominican Republic, the National Hurricane Center said.

No coastal watches or warnings were in effect.

Gabrielle, which became the seventh named storm of the season late Wednesday, is expected to turn toward the north-northwest in the next 24 hours or so.

Gabrielle is expected to bring between 2-4 inches of rain over Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with isolated amounts of up to 8 inches. The rains could cause dangerous flash floods and mud slides over mountainous terrain.

The storm will stay well east of the United States and poses no threat to South Florida.

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Photo Credit: National Hurricane Center

NAACP Demand Changes From Police After Deadly Taser Incident


Connecticut's NAACP is demanding the New Britain Police Department stop using tasers after officers tasered a man during a police standoff on Monday night.  The man died soon after.

Civil rights groups said police need to change their tactics.

“They killed my friend and that’s the way I’m sticking to it,” said Mike Wheaton. 

Wheaton blames New Britain Police for the death of his best friend, Seth Victor, a 40-year-old man who was tasered during a tense standoff with officers on Monday night, and died hours later.

“I would like to see the officers who were involved fired. ... Who wants them as a police officer?I don’t want them protecting me … no way,” Wheaton said.

The SWAT Team was called to Victor’s apartment on Broad Street, when he threw a small piano and other furniture out the window. 

Then he allegedly threatened to hurt himself and police when they asked him to surrender.

“This is not a person who was violent,” Wheaton said, adding that Victor had mental health issues, and did not deserve to be tasered.

The NAACP agreed, and on Wednesday night, leaders showed up to the New Britain Police Department, and begged the police chief and the mayor to get rid of these weapons.

“This is a civil rights issue, it's a human rights issue,” said Scott Esdaile, the Connecticut NAACP President. 

The cause of Victor’s death is still under investigation and it was unclear if the taser led to it. 

The NAACP said 12 others died across the state since 2005, after they were tasered by police.  While authorities said tasers were not responsible on those cases, the NAACP disagreed.

“The common denominator is people are being tased ... people are dying,” Scott Esdaile added.

The New Britain police chief would not comment on the incident from Monday night, which was still under investigation. He did tell NBC Connecticut he was reviewing the department’s taser policy. 

The Connecticut Police Chief’s Association maintained the tasers were perfectly safe for officers to use, and said the NAACP had taken matters too far.

“To paint a broad picture … to say they should be eliminated outright is a mistake,” Fairfield Police Chief Gary Macnamara said.

The New Britain Police Chief said he has no plans to get rid of the tasers.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Two Teens Help Rescue Kidnapping Victim


A woman who was kidnapped and forced into her car by a gunman in downtown Dallas two weeks ago managed to get the attention of two teenagers in a nearby car by mouthing the words, "Help me," according to a dramatic 911 call released Wednesday.

The teens called police and officers rescued the woman within minutes. The 911 tape of the incident and a video recording from a sheriff's deputy's dashboard camera were released Wednesday after NBC 5 filed an open records request.

"Yes, I'm on the highway," Aaron Arias first told a Kaufman County Sheriff's Office dispatcher. "I'm witnessing a robbery; not a robbery -- a kidnapping."

Arias, a 19-year-old college student, and Jamal Harris, 17, a Seagoville high school student, noticed the woman in the back seat of a car at a stoplight in Seagoville.

"It's me and another guy, so we're checking out the girl in the backseat because, we're like, 'OK, she's kind of attractive,'" Arias said. "And then, all of the sudden, you know, the guy is turned back, looking at us."

The woman, 25, was kidnapped on Aug. 22 near Bryan Street after she left a downtown office building.  About an hour later, from the backseat of her car, she drew the attention of Arias and Harris.

The woman looked panicked and was "saying, 'Help me,' or something, whispering it," Arias told the 911 operator.

The teens followed the woman's car down U.S. 175 until police caught up with them in Kaufman.

"Oh my God, I'm hoping the car behind me is a police officer," Arias said. "Nope, it's not. Oh my God."

But within seconds, officers arrived and pulled over the car with the woman and the man accused of kidnapping her.

"Thank God. You guys are awesome," Arias said. "Oh my God. Oh my God. Get him! Oh my God."

The suspect, Charles Atkins Lewis Jr., remains in jail on $50,000 bond. He is charged with aggravated kidnapping.

The woman was checked by paramedics but was unhurt.

Arias, a freshman at Texas A&M in Texarkana, ironically got a tattoo of the comic book antihero Deadpool the day before, he said in a telephone interview.

Arias said he met the woman at the scene after the rescue.

"She hugs us," he remembered. "I would describe it as the best hug I have ever gotten."

He said he hopes to stay in contact with the woman but doesn't want to interfere with the investigation or court case.

Asked whether he considered himself a hero, he said, "She says we saved her life. I guess you could say we did. But I don't want to be that person who says they're a hero."

Editor's Note: The original version of this story said the woman was kidnapped Aug. 25. The date should have read Aug. 22.  We regret the error.

Photo Credit: Arias Family Photo

Pepe’s Pizza to Open Soon in West Hartford


There is nothing quite like New Haven pizza and residents around West Hartford will soon be able to enjoy a slice or two of Pepe’s pizza without leaving the area.

The finishing touches are being put on the newest location of Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, at 1148 New Britain Avenue in the Elmwood section of West Hartford. It is slated to open in mid-September.

As you might already know, Frank Pepe Pizzeria is a third-generation owned and operated pizzeria.

If you’ve indulged on Pepe’s pizza before, you can expect the West Hartford restaurant to serve up the same classic pies you get in New Haven: pizza with hand-formed crusts, served on hotel style sheet pans, cut in various size and shape pieces to appeal to any appetite.

Try the Original Tomato Pie, which comes with grated cheese. If you want mozzarella, you have to ask for it. If you like clams, try Pepe’s popular fresh clam pie, made with hand-shucked fresh clams.

The menu also includes afresh salad, a few beer and wine selections and soft drinks, including East Haven’s Foxon Park Sodas.

In addition to New Haven, there are also Frank Pepe’s locations in Manchester, Fairfield, Danbury and
at Mohegan Sun Casino, and in Yonkers, New York.


Photo Credit: Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana

Stonington Domestic Dispute Ends in Stabbing, Fire


A man and a woman were rushed to the hospital late Wednesday night after a domestic disturbance involving a stabbing and a fire at their home in the Mystic section of Stonington.

Stonington Police received a call about a domestic disturbance after 10:30 p.m.

When they arrived at the married couple's Meadowbrook Lane home, it was on fire and the wife was outside, suffering from a stab wound.

Police said they saw the husband jump from a second-floor window to escape the flames, injuring himself.

Police have not released the names or conditions of  the couple, but said LifeStar took one of them to Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Police and fire investigators are still on the scene.

Police said they are waiting for a warrant before they can enter the house.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Minneapolis Mayor: "I'm Here To Steal Your Business"


Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak was in Chicago Thursday to unveil a new digital and print campaign designed to convince Chicago same-sex couples to legally marry in his city.

The "I Want To Marry You In Minneapolis" ads have already started appearing in local publications such as the Windy City Times, and feature the owners of Minneapolis businesses who are ready to help Chicago couples "plan an unforgettable wedding day."

Rybak, a vocal proponent of same-sex marriage in Minesota, discussed the campaign Thursday morning at a news conference at Boystown's Center on Halsted.

"Chicago is my kind of town, but it's a second city with human rights, and right now that gives an incredible competitive advantage to Minneapolis," Rybak said. "I hope the day comes very soon that all Illinoisans can marry the person that they love, and I strongly encourage the Legislature and Governor Quinn to pass marriage equality as soon as possible -- but until that day comes, I'm here to steal your business."

When asked if poaching business on another mayor's turf was fair, Rybak quipped, "Have you met him, Mayor Emanuel? He would do it to me any day of the week I'm sure."

Rybak made headlines on Aug. 1 when he performed 46 same-sex weddings from midnight to almost 7 a.m. to celebrate the first day that Minnesotans were allowed to legally marry. Since then, one-third of marriage applications in Minnesota have been for same-sex couples.

Illinois approved civil unions in 2011, but lawmakers failed to call gay marriage to a vote during this year's spring session. The Legislature is expected reconsider the measure during the November session.


Shelton Woman Injured in Two-Car Crash


A 69-year-old Shelton woman is in serious condition after a two-car crash in Shelton on Wednesday morning.

The crash happened at S. Constitution Boulevard and Ivy Brook Road at 9:10 a.m., according to police.

Kathleen Lilley, 69, of Shelton, was driving east on Ivy Brook Road and collided with a Ford that Christopher Struber, 25, of Ansonia, was driving south on South Constitution Boulevard, according to  police.

Lilley was taken to the hospital and is listed in serious condition. A passenger in the Volkswagen was also taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

\Struber was not taken to the hospital.

The Shelton Police Traffic Division is investigating the crash and no enforcement action has been taken.

Any witnesses or people with additional information can call the Shelton Police Traffic Division at (203) 924-1544.

Jewish Cemetery Vandalized Just Before Holiday


Days before the holiest day of the Jewish New Year, vandals struck at Congregation Beth el Keser Memorial Park Cemetery in Hamden, Conn.

On Monday, Hamden police responded to the cemetery at 55 Warner Street for the report of vandalism.

Officer Derick Manning met with members of the Jewish Cemetery Association of Greater New Haven and learned that around 30 gravestones had been knocked over.

Police said they do not know whether this is a hate crime and has any connection to the holiday, but they are investigating. 

Rosh Hashanah, the celebration of the Jewish New Year, started at sundown on Sept. 4 and runs until nightfall on Sept. 6.

The damage, estimated at $5,000, has been fixed. Cemetery officials said they will need special machinery to fix the damage.

Police are looking for the vandals.

Anyone with information about the vandalism should call Officer Manning at (203) 230-4000.

The cemetery is one of two that the Congregation Beth El-Keser Israel Cemetery Association operates.

Police Looking for Missing Milford Teen


Police are looking for a 16-year-old from Milford who was last seen at 6 a.m. today.

Police said Robert Barrett suffers from a medical condition and was last seen at a residence on East Broadway. 

He is 5-feet-2, weighs 120 pounds, and has black hair and dark brown eyes.

He was wearing a red T-shirt, shorts, glasses and sneakers.

Barrett is known to frequent Point Beach Drive, Milford and beaches.

Anyone with information regarding Barrett’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Milford Police Department Dispatch Center at (203) 878-6551.

Photo Credit: MIlford Police

Foot-Sniffing Suspect Sought in Bronx Chokings, Sex Assaults


The NYPD is looking for a man who sneaks up on women from behind and chokes them until they fall to the ground -- in one case sniffing his victim's feet and in another, attempting to sexually assault her, authorities say.

Authorities say the suspect attacked two women within half an hour last Friday. In the first case, he choked an 18-year-old woman as she walked near Sedgwick and Bailey avenues in the Bronx around 1:10 a.m.

Once she was on the ground, the attacker, wearing a latex glove, took off her shoes and began to smell her feet, police say. The woman struggled away and the suspect fled.

About 20 minutes later, police say the suspect sneaked up behind a 24-year-old woman on Park View Place and choked her. He tried to open her pants, but she fought back and the suspect fled, police said.

Authorities released surveillance video of the suspect (above).

Anyone with information about the assaults is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS.

Photo Credit: Handout

Rim Fire Started by Hunter's Illegal Fire: Forest Service


The U.S. Forest Service announced today that the devastating Rim Fire that has been burning near Yosemite for more than two weeks began when a hunter allowed an illegal fire to escape.

No arrests have been made and the Forest Service isn't releasing the hunter's name pending further investigation.

On Wednesday, investigators shot down a theory that said it was started by an illegal pot grow. Jerry Snyder of the U.S. Forest Service said that the steep and inaccessible canyon where the Rim Fire started didn't have a water source that growers look for when they set up remote gardens.

"The lead investigator says there's no evidence of any type of grow in the area where the fire started,'' Snyder said.

The Forest Service reiterated that Thursday saying there was no indication the hunter was involved with illegal marijuana cultivation on public lands and no marijuana cultivation sites were located near the origin of the fire.

The Rim Fire began Aug. 17, in the Stanislaus National Forest near the area known as Jawbone Ridge.

It has burned 237,341 acres and was80 percent contained as of Thursday.

Officials said 111 structures, including 11 homes, have been destroyed. More than 4,300 firefighters are still battling the blaze


Photo Credit: AP

Fla. Alleges Sexual Assault in Murder of Adoptive Mother


A two-year-old murder mystery involving a South Florida man accused of raping and killing his adoptive mother is headed to trial on Monday.

Gerard Lopes faces murder charges in connection to the death of 43-year-old Natalie Belmonte, whose bludgeoned body was found in a marsh near their Pembroke Pines home in July 2011.

The state claims that Lopes, who has pleaded not guilty, sexually assaulted his adoptive mother before killing her. In a hearing held Wednesday, state prosecutors sought approval to introduce DNA evidence they say shows the motive was sexual assault.

An autopsy showed that semen found in Belmonte matched Lopes’ DNA, but Lopes’ attorneys argue it's not relevant because the sexual relationship was consensual.

The state called a DNA expert, Dr. Martin Tracey, to the stand in Wednesday's hearing. Tracey testified the level of integrity of the DNA found shows the semen was deposited at the time of the murder.

"We know from other kinds of studies that I'm familiar with and teach at the university, the survival time for semen is about 3 to 5 days,” Tracey said.

Police said security video from a neighbor’s house shows Belmonte and Lopes, who was 21 at the time of his 2011 arrest, leaving in the same car and stopping at a Walgreens before heading to a party. The car returns with both individuals around 2:48 a.m. A short time later Lopes is seen dragging a bag across the driveway and loading bags into the trunk. Belmonte's body would be found three days later near their Pembroke Pines home.

Lopes has pleaded not guilty to a first-degree murder charge.

During Wednesday's motion in limiting hearing, prosecutors called Belmonte's sister Michaela Teixeira to the stand and asked point blank about the possibility of a consensual sexual relationship.

"There's absolutely no way she had consensual sexual relationship with her son,” she said.

To give the statement punch, prosecutors detailed a normal, loving mother-son relationship showing Teixeira letters between the two, birthday and Mother's Day cards. Teixeira read from a card – one that if Lopes is proven guilty – could serve as an eerie message from the grave.

"Gerry I'm very proud of the man that you are becoming. Always remember the choices you make today determine the outcome of your future,” she said, reading from the card.

At the hearing Broward Circuit Judge Matthew Destry ordered two prerequisites. If the state can establish a sexual relationship has serious negative consequences on Lopes, and secondly that the semen was deposited at or near the time of death, he'll admit the evidence. He also warned that if the state presents the argument into opening statements, but fails to prove relevance, he'll grant a mistrial.

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Hartford Mayor Tells Chappelle to Stop Whining, Try Yoga


Fewer people have more pride in Hartford than the mayor and he is calling upon comedian Dave Chappelle to stop whining about the city and just do the job he is paid to do.

Chappelle made national news last week when he refused to perform in Hartford and walked off the stage less than 30 minutes into his Funny or Die Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival set.

During the show, he said he was “smoking a bad attitude” because of heckling from the crowd.

Still harboring hard feelings, Chappelle told the crowd at his show in Chicago on Tuesday that he'll never come back to Hartford and then made some fierce remarks about the city.

“I don’t want anything bad to happen to the United States, but if North Korea ever drops a nuclear bomb on this country, I swear to God, I hope it lands in Hartford, Connecticut,” he said.

Today, Segarra responded.


(“Hartford has it” is the city’s slogan.)

During the Hartford show, Chappelle was on stage at the Comcast Theatre in Hartford for just a few minutes when he suddenly stopped his routine and said the audience was making too much noise, one witness said. For the next 25 minutes, he sat on a stool, read from a book, told the crowd he was still getting paid and then eventually walked off the stage, a witness said.

The crowd, which laughed at first, started booing and shouting.

“Man, this crowd sucks,” Chappelle said. “Security’s having a conference about how to get me out of here.”

Over the next day, the story was buzzing on Twitter as several fans who were at the show complained and others defended the comedian. 

“I wasn’t at the show, so I can’t comment on it specifically. But his recent remarks were immature and inappropriate. Dave Chappelle should stick to his job, give the fans what they paid for and not disparage the good people of Hartford,” Segarra said in a statement.

There have been several articles and posts in the days since the show and an article in Ebony Magazine, "Chappelle Incident Shatters Silence on Connecticut Racism," says Chappelle felt might have felt he was playing the part of the black entertainer charged with catering to a "White, drunkards."

(Explicit Language Warning: Watch the YouTube video of Chappelle’s performance in Hartford. You can also hear an excerpt from his Chicago show, but be aware that both videos contain explicit language.)


Photo Credit: Getty Images

Wesleyan Student Arrested, Tells Police They'll Regret It


A Wesleyan University student was arrested early Saturday morning after pushing public safety staff and trying to bite and kick police, authorities said.

According to police, Alexander Ward Musicant, 18, of Middletown, was arrested after police received a report that he was “intoxicated and out of control” at 18 Foss Hill Drive just after midnight Aug. 31.

The caller who reported Musicant told police he was “swinging his arms and pushing Wesleyan Public Safety staff,” according to police. Officers arrived to find Musicant face down the grass with a public safety officer sitting on his back and holding his head down.

Police said Musicant tried to bite and kick the officers who handcuffed him.

According to authorities, Musicant told police, “You will all remember me. I’ll be famous and you will pay for this.”

He refused to answer questions about whether or not he had been drinking, but police said he smelled like alcohol and was behaving in a way that indicated he was under the influence.

Musicant was transported to Middlesex Hospital for an examination. He was then issued a misdemeanor summons for interfering with an officer and second-degree breach of peace.

He was released on a promise to appear and is due in court at 9 a.m. on Sept. 13.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Suspicious Package Found in Bridgeport


Police and fire officials responded to Seaside Park in Bridgeport after a pressure cooker was found under a tree near the shore, authorities said.

Local police and fire officials arrived to investigate, along with a State Police Bomb Squad. Federal authorites were alerted as a precaution, according to a spokesman from the Bridgeport Police Department.

Authorities said it happened around 11 a.m.

The coast guard set up a 2,000-yard perimeter in the water near the scene, limiting boat traffic. Service to the Bridgeport Port Jefferson Ferry was delayed as a result, police said.

The bomb squad conducted a controlled detonation of the device, and the area was declared safe around 2:45 p.m. The scene has been cleared, according to police.

"Any time we receive a report of a suspicious packagbe, we respond with an abundance of caution," said Bridgeport Police Cheif Joseph L. Gaudett, Jr., in a statement. "Today's incident was no different. Obviously, considering the incident in Boston, we treated this as a credible threat, followed our protocols and requested the assistance of State Police."

The pressure cooker was taken to the police department as evidence. Authorities are investigating to determine whether or not it was placed in the park on purpose, police said.

Police said the pressure cooker appeared to be empty.

The University of Bridgeport evacuated the Health Sciences building and Eleanor Dana Hall were evacuated as a precaution, according to university officials.

The university is located right near the park.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Up Or On The Rocks Closed, Liquor License Suspended


In the wake of two recent fatal shootings, Hartford nightclub Up Or On The Rocks has been shut down and its liquor license suspended.

The club, located at the corner of Union Place and Allyn Street, shuttered its doors last Friday after its second deadly shooting in a month, and its liquor permit "was place under voluntary suspension by the owner," according to the state Office of Communication and Education.

Manchester resident Brian Simpe, 19, was shot and killed in a fight outside the club on Aug. 4. Another fight erupted last Friday, resulting in the death of Miguel Delgado, of East Hartford.

In a news conference on Aug. 30, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra said he asked the club to shut down, and the owner agreed.

It will remain closed for an undetermined amount of time, and Segarra is asking that the club hire police officers and adopt additional security measures before it can reopen.

City officials planned to meet with the owner this week, according to Segarra.

The club has historically allowed 18-year-olds inside, but this policy could change. Police say clubs that permit underage party-goers can draw rougher crowds.

Segarra said he's calling on lawmakers to change the law that allows minors into nightclubs, and State Sen. Paul Doyle, who co-chairs the legislature's General Law committee, said he's seriously considering it.

"You can't have these minors in these situations," Doyle said.

Authorities said that Simpe died in a fight over a girl, and that Delgado died in a confrontation that started with a spilled drink.

The victims' family members called the club a liability and said they wanted it closed for good.

Both shooting suspects have been arrested and charged.

UConn Building Evacuated After Chemical Spill


The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and University of Connecticut Fire Department responded to the UConn Storrs campus this afternoon following a chemical spill at a lab on Auditorium Road, authorities said.

No injuries were reported, but the building was evacuated and a DEEP mobile lab was called to the scene to analyze the chemical.

It turned out to be a gallon of the solvent tetrahydrofuran, which DEEP officials said is not very toxic but gives off an "extremely pungent odor" that is "not very pleasant to breathe."

The spill happened in a chemical storage area some time before 1 p.m., according to authorities.

DEEP officials said the building is being ventilated and that students and faculty will be allowed back inside soon.

School Psychologist Arrested on Drug Charge


East Hartford Middle School school psychologist Jessica Buggeln and her husband were charged on Wednesday with operating a drug factory and possession of marijuana with intent to sell after the East Central Narcotics Task force executed a search warrant at her home.

Police say they found more than a pound of marijuana in the Buggelns' home, packaging materials, a scale, and $2,415 in cash.

Jessica and her husband, Eric Buggeln, live up a private driveway off Stancliff Drive in the Buttonball section of Glastonbury and neighbors said there were regular deliveries every Tuesday at 4 a.m. for years.

Both Buggelns are free after posting $10,000 bail. 

Jessica Buggeln drove up her driveway on Thursday afternoon. 

"This is private property and you have to leave," Eric Buggeln told NBC Connecticut. 

He and his wife are also charged with operating a drug factory within 1500 feet of a school, Buttonball School in Glastonbury.

In a statement, East Hartford Public Schools Superintendent Nathan Quesnel said, "An employee was arrested for drug-related offenses at her home," without naming Buggeln.

According to the statement, the employee is on administrative leave while the district investigates the case.

East Hartford Middle School parents picking up students after school were disturbed by the news.

"Very surprised to hear that," Kevin Sumlin said as he was picking up his eighth-grade daughter, Giovanna. "Especially coming out of Glastonbury.  Wow."

Photo Credit: Manchester Police
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