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Two Charged in Hartford Murder on July 13


Hartford police have arrested two men in connection with a July 13 murder on Flatbrush Avenue.

Today police served the arrest warrants for Tyquan Turner, 21, of Cherry Street in Hartford, and Lorenza Christian, 22, of Lenox Street in Hartford.

Police said Turner and Christian shot and killed 25-year-old Miguel Rodriguez, of Hartford, after ripping a custom-made gold chain and medallion off his neck on July 13.

Rodriguez was shot several times and died of his injuries at Hartford Hospital, according to police.

Investigators were able to track down the chain and medallion at a second-hand jewelry shop on Albany Avenue. They determined that Christian was the one who pawned the jewelry and were then able to track down the suspects, police said.

Turner is charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder and carrying a pistol without a permit. He has 15 prior arrests in Hartford and is being held on a $2 million bond.

Christian is charged with conspiracy to commit murder. He’s being held on a $1 million bond and has been previously arrested in Hartford seven times.

Photo Credit: Hartford Police Department

Judge Sides With Armstrong on Autobiography Lawsuit


A federal judge in California sided with Lance Armstrong and the publishers of his autobiographies on Tuesday, rejecting claims in a lawsuit that lies about not using performance-enhancing drugs amounted to fraud and false advertising.

A group of readers who bought Armstrong's "It's Not About The Bike" and "Every Second Counts" sued in Sacramento federal court seeking class-action status and more than $5 million in damages. They said they were duped into believing the books were inspirational true accounts and should have been labeled fiction.

U.S. District Judge Morrison England's 39-page rule sided with Armstrong's attorneys, who argued the books are free speech protected by the First Amendment.

"Lance Armstrong has a right to exercise his First Amendment right to free speech," Armstrong attorney Zia Modabber said.

By law, the plaintiffs have 21 days to refile their lawsuit under the guidelines of Tuesday's ruling, but Modabber predicted the ruling would close the door on the case.

The ruling likely eliminates one of several legal hurdles facing Armstrong. The federal government is seeking to recover more than $30 million the U.S. Postal Service paid to sponsor his former team in a case that could include total penalties of more than $100 million.

Armstrong also has been sued in Texas by two companies seeking to recover $15 million in bonuses paid to Armstrong and his teams for winning the Tour de France and other races.

The books lawsuit was filed in California under that state's consumer protections laws. The lawsuit accused Armstrong and publishers Random House and Penguin Group of committing fraud, false advertising and other wrongdoing for publishing the cyclist's vehement denials that he wasn't a cheat. They also claimed the books should have been labeled as fiction instead of non-fiction.

"The fact Lance didn't tell the truth about whether or not he doped, does not make the entire story of his life fiction," Modabber said.

Armstrong vehemently denied doping for use for years, but admitted in a January interview with Oprah Winfrey that he cheated during most of his career. The confession came after a detailed report by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

Photo Credit: AP

Kellen Winslow Could Pay Dividends for Jets


Tight end Kellen Winslow was a bit of an afterthought throughout the National Football League this offseason. Released in 2012 by the Seattle Seahawks at the end of training camp after refusing a pay cut, and then asking for his release from the New England Patriots, he appeared in just one game last season.

Winslow claims he left New England due to playing time, competing with star tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, while others speculated it was due to chronic knee pain.

"You can't come in Week 3, with those guys, and think you're going to get in," he told ESPN New York this past August. "It wasn't worth me being there in that situation because I know what I can do."

The New York Jets, with a need at the position following the loss of Dustin Keller to the Miami Dolphins via free agency, signed Winslow to a one-year deal after a minicamp tryout in June.

Despite a motorcycle accident in 2005, multiple knee surgeries, and two staph infections, the veteran tight end has continued to produce throughout his nine-year career. Winslow’s knee appeared to be okay in his first game with New York; scoring a touchdown while leading the team with 79 receiving yards on seven catches during Week 1.

“I remember Kellen back when he was just coming out in the Cleveland days and having to go against him,” Jets head coach Rex Ryan reminisced during his Tuesday news conference. “I had some of those nightmares. As soon as the name pops out, you’re intrigued. But then when you get here you realize, “Hey, this guy still has great receiving skills.” He’s smart, he’s a warrior, to quote himself. That’s kind of his mentality. There’s no question. Is he as good as he once was? Maybe not, but he’s pretty darn good.”

An All-American and John Mackey Award winner, given to nation's best collegiate tight end, during his playing days at the University of Miami; an older and wiser Winslow has learned to play with his physical limitations.

"You just get smarter, do smarter things for your body," Winslow told USA Today. "Live in the ice tub, take care of your legs and be OK."

The Jets plan to limit the nine-year pro in practice, following a similar blueprint to what they did with former safety LaRon Landry a season ago.

“We’ll lean on our trainers as far as the amount of physical work that he does,” stated Ryan.

A healthy Kellen Winslow is vital for a team with limited weapons on offense. Most notably, he provides a reliable target for rookie quarterback Geno Smith. As the Jets continue to take steps forward, much will depend on the health of Winslow’s surgically repaired knee.

Photo Credit: AP

Calif. School Board Names Library After Chris Stevens


On the one-year anniversary of his death in Benghazi, Libya, the school board in slain Ambassador Chris Stevens' hometown named his old high school library after him.

"Chris really loved that school," his mother, Mary Commanday of Oakland, Calif., told NBC Bay area on Tuesday. "The motto there is to 'Achieve the Honorable.' And Chris just loved that motto. It would be a really nice way to honor him."

"That school" is Piedmont High School, nestled in the small, affluent city of 10,000 next to Oakland in the San Francisco Bay Area, where Stevens was editor of the newspaper, active in the model U.N. and American Foreign Service clubs, and graduated in 1978. His high school career served as a springboard for his educational path, which took him to the University of California at Berkeley, where he was a history major, and to UC Hastings in San Francisco, where he earned a law degree.

All that studying -- in the public school system, his 76-year-old mother emphasized -- helped land him the prestigious post as U.S. ambassador to Libya, the country where he was killed at age 52 during a terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2012, along with three other Americans. At first, it seemed like the attack might have been spontaneous, or stemmed from an anti-Muslim film. Later, the State Department determined the terrorism was spawned by Islamist militants.

The fallout from this attack still reverberates today. And the debate over who was responsible for the security, or lack thereof, in that part of the world became political football during the 2012 presidential campaign. Several Republicans in Congress launched their own investigations, some of which are still continuing.

On Wednesday, a car bomb rocked Libya's foreign ministry building in Benghazi, marking a much more tragic remembrance of Stevens' death. Commanday did not know about the most recent attack in Libya, but when told her answer was simply, "Yes, it's a dangerous place."

Last September, Commanday spoke in an exclusive interview to NBC Bay Area about how her son had always tried to "do something bigger with his life," and had always been interested in making the world a better place. A one-time Iraqi neighbor had even clairvoyantly nicknamed the young Stevens "ambassador" 30 years ago because he was always talking to people about their lives and building bridges across cultures.

MORE: "He Was Trying to Do Something Much Bigger," Ambassador's Mom

As a way to honor Stevens and his life's work, the Piedmont Unified School District board was poised on Wednesday evening to rename the high school library the Ambassador Christopher Stevens Memorial Library. It's also the school district where Stevens' nieces are attending. The idea for the library came from Stevens' sister-in-law, Dana Stevens.

(His yearbook photo from Piedmont High is pictured to the right.)

"I think it's wonderful. Wonderful," said Piedmont parent and PTA member Teresa Gilliland. "And today is a great day to do it."

Piedmont High School student Danny Kolosta hopes the new library will have an impact on kids on campus.

"Seeing someone like Stevens have such a big impact is inpirational," he said.

Assistant Supt. Randall Booker told NBC Bay Area this is far from a controversial vote; he expects it to pass and have the sign up in the next few weeks.

"Everyone's very excited about this in a somber way," he said. "We want to honor Chris Stevens' service, and it's important we send a message to our students about his sacrifice."

In addition, Stevens' family last year created the J. Christopher Stevens Fund to award people and groups who have good ideas on how to promote tolerance and peace in the Middle East, places Stevens had worked before his death. On Wednesday, UC Berkley's Center for Middle Eastern Studies announced receiving an unknown grant amount from the Stevens'  fundraising efforts to support research and travel in the Middle East and North Africa. Both of Stevens' parents are Cal alumni.

MORE: Funeral Service for Chris Stevens in San Francisco

This past year has, of course, been painful for Stevens' family, with includes his brother Tom Stevens, an assistant U.S. Attorney in Oakland, his sister, Anne, a pediatric rheumatologist in Seattle, step-sister Hilary, Stevens’ father Jan Stevens, a retired California assistant attorney general who lives in Loomis, Calif., and his step-father, Robert Commanday, who told NBC Bay Area in a past interview that every time Chris's name is mentioned in the media, "it's like he died all over again."

But, on Wednesday, Stevens' mother took a more stoic approach.

"People have been very supportive," she said. "We're just carrying on, and doing the best we can."

IF YOU'RE INTERESTED: The school board is set to meet Wednesday at 7 p.m. at City Hall chambers at 120 Vista Ave. in Piedmont.

Photo Credit: Piedmont School District

Police Swarm Hartford Bodega, 3 Arrested


At least three people were arrested in Hartford this afternoon in a law-enforcement frenzy involving police, SWAT and narcotics officials.

Investigators swarmed a bodega at the intersection of Broad Street and Ward Street around 12:30 this afternoon. Hartford police said they were serving a narcotics search warrant.

The Family Grocery store at 955 Broad Street was shut down while police investigated. Officials also stood guard and went in and out of apartment buildings at 958 and 960 Broad Street.

Three men were arrested at the scene. At least one was taken into custody and another was released after questioning.

The details of the arrests have not yet been released.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Robs Newington Pharmacy at Gunpoint


Police are searching for the man who robbed a Walgreens pharmacy at gunpoint in Newington yesterday.

A pharmacist told police the suspect walked into the pharmacy at 2920 Berlin Turnpike, pulled out a handgun and stole Oxycodone. It happened around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The suspect is described as about six feet tall with a medium build. He was wearing a red sweatshirt with a white shirt underneath, jeans, white sneakers and a black Yankees hat.

Police used a K-9 unit to try to track him, but lost the trail.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Newington Police Department at 860-666-8445.

Photo Credit: Newington Police Department

Chicago Bans Guns in Bars, Restaurants


Chicago's city council approved legislation on Wednesday that bans guns in city bars and restaurants that sell liquor.

"Bullets and booze do not mix," Alderman Ed Burke said, arguing a license to sell alcohol is a privilege and not a right.

Restaurants and bars that don't comply with the new requirement could lose their liquor licenses. The rule would not apply to grocery or liquor stores that sell package liquor.

Some aldermen expressed concern over lawsuits connected to the ban, but Burke said a law firm already has agreed to represent the city for free.

The legislation follows the state's passage of a concealed carry law that permits guns to be carried in public starting in 2014.

Burke said "many of us were chagrined to learn" that while the law prohibits carrying concealed weapons in government buildings establishments that serve alcohol aren't off-limits.

One of the provisions of the law allows weapons inside businesses where alcohol is less than 50 percent of their revenue. Gov. Pat Quinn used his veto power to make changes to the compromise concealed carry bill already passed by the Legislature, but lawmakers voted to override him.

Quinn wanted to keep guns out of places that serve alcohol and impose a one-gun limit.

"We want [visitors] to come together and celebrate," Quinn said earlier this year. "We want them to have a good time. But we don't want any incidents of violence in any bars or restaurants anywhere in Illinois."

At least one Chicago restaurant, Keefer's restaurant in River North,  felt uneasy about the provision approved and installed "No Weapons" signs in July.

"We do not believe that guns should be permitted anywhere where alcohol is being served," owner Glenn Keefer said. "Once we post that sign, once someone comes in the restaurant with a weapon, they've broken the law. It's our responsibility to remove keys from people who have had too much to drink. I certainly don't want to be doing that with someone who might have a gun on them."

Bridgeport Man Planned Revenge for Fatal Shooting: Police


Bridgeport police have arrested the man who they say might have been planning retaliation for yesterday’s fatal shooting on Reservoir Avenue.

Jalil Hill, 28, was arrested on gun charges after police received a tip that he had a gun and wanted revenge for the death of 26-year-old Christopher Pettway, who was shot and killed Tuesday outside the T Mart on Reservoir Avenue.

Officers tracked him down at the PT Barnum housing complex shortly after midnight and followed Hill onto Interstate 95 after he drove off. He was pulled over and arrested on the side of the highway, according to police.

Police said they went back and searched the driving route and discovered a .40-caliber handgun in the grass on Wordin Avenue. They believe the handgun belonged the Hill.

Hill was charged with criminal possession of a firearm by a felon, carrying a weapon in a motor vehicle and carrying pistol without a permit.

Several other people were injured in yesterday’s shooting, including Juwan Edwards, Aijaholn Tisdane, Leroy Shaw and Tamir Hamilton. All received non-life threatening injuries.

Just blocks away and hours later, another person was shot in the leg. The victim, Sean Lawrence, told police he was good friends with Pettway.

Lawrence was shot around 3:30 a.m. in the area of Reservoir and City View avenues.

Witnesses reported seeing a car drive off after the shooting, according to police.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Four Arrested in Connection With Fatal 2012 Home Invasion


One year after a brutal home invasion and murder in Sharon, state police have arrested four suspects and have taken them into custody.

Niraj Patel, 26, Hira Patel, 25 and Michael Calabrese, 27, are charged with felony murder, home invasion, first-degree kidnapping with a firearm and hindering prosecution. Shyam Patel, 27, is charged with tampering with physical evidence and hindering prosecution.

Police obtained the arrest warrants on Tuesday and arrested the suspects today.

The home invasion and murder happened around 6 p.m. on Aug. 6, 2012 at 299 Cornwall Bridge Road.

Police said the suspects entered the rural home and tied up Rita Vitalis, then continued upstairs, where they shot and killed 23-year-old Lucas Vitalis.

Rita Vitalis wasn’t injured, and her account helped police identify the suspects.

They’re due in Litchfield Superior Court tomorrow.

The relationships among the victims and suspects are not clear.

Guinness 2014 Book Features New Record-Breaking Talents


The big, the small and the wacky will have their day in the sun when Guinness World Records' new book hits stores on Thursday.

The 2014 book features new extraordinary records like the Largest Lollipop, Largest Walking Robot and Tallest Rideable Motorcycle.

Those who made "small" strides ware also featured in a big way. The Shortest Donkey — standing at 2 feet, 1 inch — made the cut, and so did Miley, the Smallest Living Dog, who stands at 3.8 inches tall.

There is even room for the speedy: Ozzy, a Border Collie and Kelpie crossbreed, holds the title for the Fastest Crossing of a Tightrope by a Dog, after he performed the trick at a record 18.22 seconds on Feb. 1.

The book goes on sale Wednesday for $28.95. A free augmented reality app introduced last year is back on iTunes and Google Play, and it features interactive elements like 3D animation, photo galleries and videos.

Click through the gallery above to see some of the world's most incredible feats.

Photo Credit: Richard Bradbury/Guinness World Records

"It's Hard to Believe That He's Not Here"


On this 12-year anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, the pain remains raw for Mary Canty of Durham.

Her brother, Michael Canty, was one of the more than 2,000 people killed during the terror attacks on September 11, 2001.

"Today is a really hard day," she said. "It's hard to believe that he's not here."


Canty, a broker at Carr Futures, was in tower one of the World Trade Center in New York, when the attacks happened.  He was 30 years old when he was killed.

“Just a great friend and person and a lot of people still really miss him," Mary Canty said.

Mary Canty and Gov. Dannel Malloy were the keynote speakers during Middletown's annual remembrance ceremony at the South Fire District this morning and dedication of the city’s permanent 9/11 Memorial and Memorial Garden.

The memorial garden which features a section of a steel beam from the North Tower of the World Trade Center as well as engraved brick pavers along the walkway.

Michael Canty's name is one of many along the memorial walkway.

Capt. Michael Howley said this will be a place of quiet reflection and remembrance of the events on September 11, 2001.

Mary said she chooses to remember the very last time she saw her brother. It was during a family gathering one month before he died.

“We had a fabulous time and he was great to my children and we laughed through the whole weekend and I'm so glad that that was the last time that I saw him. It was special,” she said. 

Now, to help heal, she focuses on the scholarship set up in her brother's name.

"The scholarship itself has helped my family and parents, my brother and sisters and I heal. It's been a great way to make something good come out of something so tragic," Mary Canty said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Greenwich Man Accused of Brutally Beating Wife


A Greenwich woman is in critical condition and her husband has been charged with attempted murder, accused of bludgeoning her with a baseball bat at their Round Hill Road home.

Police responded to the home of Michael F. De Maio, 55, and his wife at 6:11 p.m. on Tuesday to investigate a domestic dispute.

Police said they couple had been arguing and it escalated to violence.

Police have not released much information about the case.

"A person familiar with the investigation," tells the Greenwich Time that De Maio told police he "lost it" when he learned his wife was leaving him.

The victim had sustained several blunt-force injuries and was taken to Stamford Hospital, where she is in critical condition, according to police. 

De Maio was charged with criminal attempt at murder and assault in the first degree, police said, and held overnight on $1 million bond.

The Greenwich Time reports that the attack happened in the couple's $7 million mansion.

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Photo Credit: Greenwich Police

Bass Fishing Tournament Kicks Off in Middletown


Close to 100 bass fishermen made waves in the Connecticut River at the first day the Northeast Regional Bass Fishing Tournament.

For Middletown, which beat out towns throughout the northeast to host the event, it could mean a whole lot of money will be reeled in to support the local economy.

“It's a nice place for them to come with their families and enjoy a beautiful downtown after a great day of fishing,” said Middletown Mayor Daniel Drew.

The town estimates that, from hotels to restaurants to gas, this week-long tournament will bring around $100,000 into the local economy.

“We’re off to a good start,” said Daniel Cronin, manager of the Canoe Club, which hosts the event.

The economy boost isn't limited to this one week. Many boaters have been coming to Middletown for weeks to scout the river, pouring even more money into this area.

“They picked this body of water last year so all summer and all spring guys have been coming here practicing on this river,” explained Mike Dunkerley, Senior Vice President of The Bass Federation.

The tournament includes the top 12 anglers from eight states in northeast region. Only the top two will move on to nationals.

The tournament ends on Friday.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Three Shootings Within 24 Hours in Bridgeport


It's been a violent 24 hours in Bridgeport, where police are investigating three separate shooting incidents, one of which killed a 26-year-old man.

The most recent shooting happened around 1:15 this afternoon when a man was shot in the chest on the 100 block of Wood Avenue, according to police.

The victim, 21-year-old Kevin Boyd, was treated at St. Vincent's Medical Center. His condition is unknown, but police said he was able to speak with investigators at the hospital.

Hours earlier, around 3:30 a.m., 23-year-old Sean Lawrence was shot in the leg at Reservoir and City View avenues. He was found half an hour later in Trumbull, and was also treated at St. Vincent's, according to police.

Lawrence told investigators that he was a good friend of Christopher Pettway, the 26-year-old who was killed yesterday in the first of the three shootings. Four others were injured by the gunfire.

It happened just three blocks from where Lawrence was shot.

Police haven't said whether they think the shootings are connected. This afternoon, they arrested Jalil Hill, 28, after receiving a tip that he wanted to avenge Pettway's death.

If you have information about any of the three shootings, contact Bridgeport police.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Two Candidates Remain in New Haven Mayoral Race


Candidates Toni Harp and Justin Elicker are setting their sights on November's general election, when they'll face off in a bid to become New Haven mayor.

One day after Toni Harp scored a big victory in the Democratic primary, she's refoucssing her efforts at setting her sights on November's general election.

"We're going to retool ourselves and move forward," Harp said.

The state senator won 50 percent of the vote in the four-way race.

Only one of her original challengers plans to move ahead to the general election. Justin Elicker is running as an independent candidate after receiving 23 percent of the vote in Tuesday's primary.

"We're going to start today with fundraising and calling a lot of folks," Elicker said.

For both candidates, the focus shifts to courting the 18,000 or so independent voters in New Haven. The jabs have already begun.

"My campaign is not about 'I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine,'" Elicker said. "My campaign is about moving beyond politics as usual."

Harp responded by calling out Elicker's relative lack of experience.

"He hasn't really achieved a lot of a local legislative official," Harp said. "So I think that there's a lot that we can compare."

Both Elicker and Harp aim to grab the endorsements of the two losing candidates, Henry Fernandez and Kermit Carolina.

"I'm optimistic but I don't want to presume anything," Elicker said. "I've had conversations with them."

Harp said she also plans to reach out.

"Certainly they are Democrats, and I would hope that they support the Democratic nominee," she said.

Harp already has the backing of Gov. Dannel Malloy and many elected officials. Elicker said that doesn't deter him.

Outgoing Mayor John DeStefano has not endorsed a candidate.

5 Inured in Oxford Crash, 2 Seriously


Five people, including two children, were injured today in a serious head-on collision on Route 188/Quaker Farms Road in Oxford.

Police said it happened around 12:30 p.m. when a car driven by Garrett L. Baker, 30, of Waterbury, crossed over the center line and crashed into an oncoming Subaru Outback.

Baker received neck abrasions and his passenger, Nicole Bahr, 28, also of Waterbury, suffered arm injuries, authorities said.

The passengers in the Subaru were more seriously injured. Driver Amy Williams, 32, of Oxford, received lacerations to both legs, according to police.

She was traveling with two children, a 3-year-old and a 9-month-old.

The toddler, Lily Williams, is in serious condition with severe neck injuries. She was taken to Waterbury Hospital, then transferred by LifeStar to Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford, according to police.

It's not clear whether 9-month-old Sebastian Williams was injured. He was transported to Waterbury Hospital for an evaluation.

Both children were riding in car seats.

Route 188 was closed in both directions near Hogsback Road while an accident reconstruction team investigated the crash.

Police said both cars were totaled.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Hartford Gives Back to Remember 9/11


Little Isaiah, Amelia and other Hartford elementary school classmates got to work digging holes today to plant thirty new trees around Knox Parks.

These elementary schoolers hadn't even been born on Sept. 11, 2001, but they were eager to help during a national day of service to observe the 12th anniversary of the attacks.

“I like to say, ‘Improve the community with the community,” said Knox Parks Foundation Executive Director Ron Pitz.

He said getting the neighborhood involved fosters a sense of ownership within the community.

“When we leave the neighbors are going to take care of those trees because they had a hand in planting them,” Pitz said.

At the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Hartford, volunteers from The Hartford also tended to trees – though theirs were made of colorful paper cut-outs on the walls.

“It’s about taking care of each other, taking care of our fellow neighbors,” said Jennifer Fournier-Dubree from The Hartford.

“Those that need help maybe moreso than we do ourselves. And it’s all about giving back,” she said.

Team “Hart” helped spruce up the Boys and Girls Club by putting fresh coats of paint on locker room walls, and cleaning up desks and computers in classrooms.

“This has been a second home for so many kids that come here every day,” said Club President Sam Gray.

He believes doing community service and giving of one’s time has much more impact that simply donating money.

“It’s not always about giving financially, but the gift of time means so much more,” Gray said.

And time is also needed for the trees at Knox Parks to grow big and strong, as Pitz explained to his young helpers.

It's a lesson in hard work and remembrance that will benefit many for years to come.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Body of Fallen Connecticut Airman Returns Home


More than 800 U.S. Air Force and New York Air National Guard members saluted the flag-draped casket containing the remains of Staff Sgt. Todd "T.J." Lobraico, who was killed in Afghanistan last Thursday.

Lobraico's parents, both members of the Air Guard themselves, spent a few minutes alone with the coffin before the doors were opened to the hangar containing the coffin.

His body was transported by cargo jet to the Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, N.Y.

Not one but two ceremonies were held in Afghanistan on Tuesday so Lobraico's comrades could pay their respects.

After the doors opened for what the Air Guard chaplain Lt. Col. Bob Tilli called "a sacred fallen comrade ceremony," the casket was laid aboard the jet behind a podium.

Col. Timothy Labarge, the wing commander for Lobraico's unit, told the crowd, "T.J. had a very bright future. I only need to look at his parents, Major Linda Rohatsch, and his father, Master Sergeant Todd Lobraico, and reflect on their achievements and the environment that they brought him up in."

Pallbearers from an honor guard loaded the casket onto a hearse, and police led a motorcade off the base beneath a huge American flag.

Lobraico was 10 years old when the U.S. went into Afghanistan. He served in Iraq in 2011 and was 22 when he was killed in Afghanistan.

Calling hours will be held Thursday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the arena at Western Connecticut State University, where Lobraico was studying for a degree in law enforcement. 

Funeral services are set to begin at 11 a.m. Friday in the O'Neill Center. Lobraico will be buried at a cemetery in Sherman, where he lived.

The New Fairfield and Sherman communities held a candlelight vigil for Lobraico on Sunday.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Amistad Questions Continue


A state lawmaker is calling for the dissolution of the board of directors for problem-plagued Amistad America.

Democratic Rep. Diana Urban, of North Stonington, has been critical of the organization, which lost its nonprofit status after failing to file tax returns for three years.

Now she's outraged that the replica slave ship is docked in Puerto Rico during hurricane season. The schooner will be featured as a pirate ship in a television mini-series.

She says that instead, it should be in Connecticut participating in this weekend's Schooner Festival in Mystic and New London and running other educational programs.

"It's time for the Amistad to come home, the Amistad to fulfill her mission as the flagship of the state of Connecticut," said Urban.

The ship set sail for the first time in June after undergoing two years of repairs. It was damaged during trip to Cuba in 2010.

A state audit is now underway looking at how the organization spent $8 million in taxpayer money, and Urban is calling for all of the group's board members to be tossed out.

"You need to revamp that organization, start over again so that people can feel comfortable that they're coming on to an organization that has a business plan, that has a clear direction," Urban said.

Going forward, the organization pledges to keep the ship in Connecticut for June, July, August and September, according to executive director Hanifa Washington.

The organization is also looking to appoint new members to its Board of Trustees and are working to create an advisory board, according to Washington.

She also addressed the questions over how the state funding has been spent.

"Every year we report to the state what was done with the money," Washington said. "The organization has upheld its end of the bargain with the state's money."

The commissioner of the state Department of Economic Development is now calling on the governor and legislature to give more statutory oversight authority to state agencies that oversee funds allocated by the legislature.

In a newly released report, Commissioner Catherine Smith writes, "We have few remedies for lack of performance, or even concerns about operational issues."

With additional authority, state agencies "could deny or delay payment until satisfactory information is obtained," Smith writes.

The state audit of Amistad America's spending of taxpayer money is due in November.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Manchester Could Ban Smoking in Public Places


Lighting up in Manchester could soon become a problem if the town instates a ban outlawing smoking in public places.

The Manchester Board of Directors discussed the ban Tuesday night, with some pushing for a wider ban and others for a more narrow ordinance that would provide designated smoking areas and only ban smoking in places like parks and at public events.

“What the board is looking to do is create an environment for our residents that allows them to be smoke-free if they choose, but at the same time not be too nanny about it,” said Manchester Town Manager Scott Shanley.

Ilana Herman, who helps run the Mulberry Street bar and restaurant, thinks that's a good thing.

“In a public place, you have children, you have people who don't want to be breathing in second-hand smoke and I think it should be done in the privacy of your own car, your own home,” Herman said..

She said she's not too worried about her bottom line, even though many of her customers like to smoke when they drink.

“I think you'd have a lot of complaints, but I don't think it would kill the business. I think it would rebound just like the smoking ban in restaurants,” she said.

A smoking ban is currently in effect in some public places, such as the library area. The board will need to decide how much further a potential new ban would extend.

But not everyone is favor of the ban.

“People should have the right to walk down the street and smoke a cigarette any time they want,” said Manchester resident Joshua Pharham.

There's also the issue of how to enforce a broader ban. Manchester police say they've never issued a citation under the existing ban, but if they did, offenders would face a $75 dollar fine.

“If you have an event and you have signs up that say this is an official no-smoking zone, you can have an ordinance which would have some teeth to it,” said Shanley.

The goal is to have more official discussion soon, so that any potential new ordinance would be on the books in time for the busy spring and summer event season.

“Something needs to be done to allow for smoke-free zones for certain events in certain places. Exactly what events and what places is something the parks and recreation commission will have to discuss,” Shanley said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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