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Conn. Residents Fear for Loved Ones in Midwest


As Connecticut residents watch scenes of destruction unfold in the Midwest after tornadoes swept through the area, many fear for the safety of loved ones who live in the path of the storm.

Joanne Thomann, who lives in Hebron, has been unable to reach family members in Chicago.

"It's a little nerve-wracking, waiting for the e-mail to come in," Thomann said.

One of Thomann's friends lives in Washington, Ilinois., which has been ravaged by tornadoes and taken the brunt of the force. At least six people were killed in the Illinois storms and dozens more have been injured.

"Two blocks away in their neighborhood, it's totally wiped out. It's very, very devastating out there," Thomann said.

Jennifer McLeod, of Hebron, is keeping tabs on family members in Indiana. Her family took pictures of the destruction left behind by tornadoes ripping through Lebanon, one of the harder-hit areas of the state.

"When I read the areas, they're places I've picnicked at, played at, been to," McLeod said.

The photos showed a home ripped apart with debris scattered everywhere. In one picture, a car is shown flipped onto its side, resting next to buildings that were torn apart.

Oxford resident Kathy Bullivant moved from the Washington area just a few years ago.

"It's sad to see the devastation that our friends have just gone through," she said.

With victims facing the monumental task of cleaning up and starting over, many are wondering where to begin.

"They've been hit so often by floods, storms, I wonder, how often can you pick back up and rebuild? How often do you have to do that?" McLeod asked.

Local Red Cross chapters are pitching in to provide aid and relief to those affected. The Connecticut chapter hasn't yet been asked to send help, but spokesman Paul Shipman said members are at the ready.

"Leaders have been reaching out to the team, asking people to give their availability in case they do need to deploy," Shipman said, adding that at this point, the Red Cross is still trying to understand the scope of the damage and gauge how to best help out affected residents.

Shipman said the relief work starts with providing shelter, then bringing food and water into the community as it becomes safe to do so.

Airlines were also affected by the storms. Three flights headed to Bradley International from airports in the Midwest were canceled yesterday – one from Chicago, another from Cleveland and the third from Washington, Ill., according to airport spokesman John Wallace.

Photo Credit: Frank Johnson

Route 75 Closed in Windsor Locks


Route 75 in Windsor Locks is closed between Elm Street and Halfway House Road. after lightning struck a pole.

There is a transformer in the roadway and wires down.

Police said the road will be closed until at least 9 a.m.

Police are asking people to avoid the area.

Photo Credit: Submitted

WATCH: Tiger Cubs Make Debut


After months of pictures and Tiger Cam video, the public got its first real peek at the National Zoo's Sumatran tiger cubs.

Bandar and his sister, Sukacita, playfully pounced on one another and their mom, Damai, during their first official outing Monday.

Earlier this month, the duo passed their swim reliability test, proving they were ready to take on the terrain of their outdoor habitat. During the test, the cubs, then 13 weeks old, were able to keep their heads above water and climb onto dry land.

Five-year-old Damai gave birth to the cubs Aug. 5; they are her first litter. Their father is the zoo's 12-year-old male tiger, Kavi.

"It's taken more than two years of perseverance getting to know Damai and Kavi and letting them get to know each other so that we could reach this celebratory moment," said zoo biologist Craig Saffoe shortly after the cubs' birthday.

Sumatran tigers are a critically endangered species. It is estimated that between 400 and 500 exist in the wild. There are 65 Sumatran tigers living in accredited zoos in North America in addition to these cubs.

The zoo's tigers can be seen at the Great Cats exhibit from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., daily, but he zoo says the cubs will likely be out Monday for one or two hours.


Photo Credit: Photo by Mara Strock Smithsonian National Zoo

Coal City Tornado Damage


A first aerial look at the damage caused by Sunday's devastating tornado in Coal City, Ill.

RAW: Tornado Damage in Washington


A first aerial look at the damage caused by Sunday's devastating tornado in Washington, Ill.

Photo Credit: NBCChicago.com

Newtown Foundation to Hold Vigil in Washington in December


On Thursday, December 12, two days before the one-year anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, a local group will hold a vigil in Washington, D.C. to remember victims of gun violence.

The Newtown Foundation and the Washington National Cathedral will hold a vigil.

“Our community is committed to transforming our tragedy through actions rooted in love, compassion, and service to others. Newtown has respectfully asked the media not to visit or to contact our community during this difficult time. As such, we are grateful for the opportunity to memorialize all of our loved ones at such a historical and majestic location in our nation’s capital,” David Ackert, chairman of the Newtown Foundation, said in a statement.

On December 14, 26 students and teachers were killed in a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“The faith community has spoken with one voice over the past months demanding action to improve gun safety and reduce the number of gun deaths in our schools, on our streets, and in our workplaces,” said the Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the Cathedral. “Washington National Cathedral is honored to be the venue for this anniversary vigil, and we pledge to continue offering our prayers, support, and advocacy for all victims of gun violence and their families.”

The vigil will be held from 3:45 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Photo Credit: AP

Water Main Break in West Hartford


There is a water main break at Oakwood Avenue and Gillette Street in West Hartford.

The houses have water, but water will soon be off.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Suspect in Meriden Crash that Killed Children Due in Court


The man accused of causing a drunken crash in Meriden that killed two young children appeared in court today on additional charges. 

Police said Israel Gonzalez, 29, was drunk and blood alcohol tests revealed that he was more than three times over the legal limit.

He has been charged with manslaughter, assault with a motor vehicle and operating a vehicle under the influence in connection with the November 3 crash that killed 5-year-old Tatiana Cruz and 8-year-old Lorenzo Cruz, a brother and sister from Meriden.

The family of Michael Cruz and Gina Schroder was in a Subaru Legacy, stopped at a traffic light at Broad Street and Gale Avenue around 2 a.m. when Gonzalez crashed a GMC Denali into the back of it, police said.

Michael Cruz and Gina Schroder, as well as Schroder’s 12-year-old son Alejandro, were injured in the crash. Alejandro, who had been in the intensive care unit, was released from the hospital tonight. Gina underwent surgery and family members say they hope she'll be also able to go home soon.

Barbel Valentin, the children's grandmother was in court and said she is grateful to the people who have been supporting the family through this time. 

Gonzalez is being held on $1 million bond.

Meriden police investigators are asking for help from the public in determining where Gonzalez was before the fatal accident.

In the meantime, family members are setting up a donation fund to make funeral arrangements and help pay the survivors' medical expenses.

"Their long-term needs is what we're trying to protect and help with," said Cruz. "You know they're obviously going to have a lot of bills and we just want to try and help and be there, with community help. That's our greatest goal."

You can send donations to:

The Cruz and Schroder Memorial Fund
Care of David R. Cavanaugh
Vice President of People United Bank
1310 Silas Dean Highway
Wethersfield CT, 06109

Anyone with any information about the crash is encouraged to contact Lt. Thomas Cossette at 203-630-6256.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com and Israel Gonzalez

East Haven Police Racks Up 777 Overtime Shifts: Report


Over a three-month span, the East Haven police department signed off on 777 overtime shifts at a cost of more than $280,000, according to the New Haven Register.

The union president told the Register that the police officers are working 16-hour days and they would prefer more police officers to the overtime pay.

“The officers are running ragged; we’re working doubles every day,” Union President Bob Nappe told the Register. “I’m working with some great officers but patrol is not what it should be.”

Mayor Joseph Maturo issued a news release on Monday, saying that is not what the union said when he recently met with them.

Maturo said his administration has been monitoring the amount of police overtime that the town has had to pay over the last two years, both for financial ramifications on taxpayer and for the number of hours officers are working.

“This was discussed recently at a general meeting of Local 1662 of the Police Union which I attended. While Union President Nappe seems to be expressing that his members are overworked and desiring of less hours, it was not the sentiment that he expressed to me during that discussion,” Maturo said in a statement.

The mayor said he offered to consider hiring three or four “floating officers” to work available overtime shifts and added he’s been working on civilian dispatching, which  would release more officers for street duty and  cut down on overtime.

“Both of these were not acceptable to Union President Nappe since these would affect the overtime wages for his union.  To minimize the amount of overtime for our officers without reducing their wages is impossible,” Maturo said.

Since 2011, five officers have been arrested, there have been eight retirements, one disability and five resignations, Maturo said.

“I am still proud of the men and women of our department who are protecting our citizens doing a fine job despite all of the problems within their department. I believe in the present direction of our department and applaud all our officers working tirelessly to make this the best police department in the state,” Maturo said.

Photo Credit: AP

Mom Captures Puppy, Baby Napping


Last Christmas, the three Shyba kids sat on Santa's lap in Manhattan and asked for a dog.

Mom and Dad said no.

But the family moved to Santa Cruz this year and changed their minds. Earlier this month, they bought "Theo," an adorable boxer-Labrador-German shepherd mix.

Suddenly, they're stars.

Their story — documented in pictures of Theo and the youngest Shyba child, Beau — has gone viral.

Mother Jessica Shyba's blog, Momma's Gone City, has received 200,000 clicks in the last two days, and she's been given a shout-out by the Today Show, Ellen DeGeneres and a slew of other talk shows, all because she captured Instagram photos of her puppy and 23-month-old, blond-haired toddler sleeping together at naptime.

"It's so weird," Shyba told NBC Bay Area Monday morning. "But I'm just rolling with it."

"Rolling with it," meant waking up at 1:30 a.m. Monday to drive more than an hour to San Francisco, where she was a guest on Fox and Friends. Theo and Beau sat in Shyba's arms, or rather, struggled in her arms as she gave her interview, both obviously tired from the early morning drive and stress. At one point, Shyba gave up the puppy to a news crew member to keep them apart. Afterwards, she took Beau to his doctor's appointment and waited for an NBC Bay Area crew to show up at her house.

"It's really hard for me to put into words how I'm feeling," said Shyba, who has been toiling on her blog for four years. "I woke up the other night in a panic, so scared because this is my family, the most important thing to me."

She only began photographing her son and puppy only a few days ago. But the story began last Christmas in Manhattan. That's when Shyba, who'd moved to New York City while her husband was in dental school, took her kids to see Santa at Macy's Santa Land in Herald Square. The kids asked for a dog.


At the time, she and her husband, Justin Shyba, said they couldn't make it work with school loans and a tiny place to live.

Then they moved back to Santa Cruz, where Justin Shyba is now a practicing dentist in the nearby city of Soquel.

They wanted their children's year-old Christmas wish to come true. On Nov. 4, the family went to the Santa Cruz SPCA and adopted Theo.

Theo immediately responded to all the kids: Jack, 6, Zoe, 5, and Beau, the baby of the family and the only one of the Shybas who still naps.

Pretty soon, puppy and baby were bonding in sleep and Shyba began documenting all of it on her Momma's Gone City blog, calling it "the most organic and beautiful friendship I have ever witnessed." She also tweets under the handle @Mommasgonecity and her photos can be found under the hashtag #theoandbeau.

Renowned baby photographer Anne Geddess would be proud of these photos. One shows Theo's paw touching Beau's pacifier. Another shows the dog's chin on Beau's bare shoulder. Another shows the two snuggled together on their backs, Beau wearing a rainbow tank top and Sesame Street diapers.

Shyba said it's difficult to predict when Theo and Beau will sleep, and when she can zoom in for just the right image. She gets so excited sometimes, she said, that she's scared she'll wake them up.

Shyba, who went to fashion school in San Francisco, has been working as a mother of three, blogging as a hobby, though she does get paid by certain brands, such as Cottonelle and Pampers, if she mentions their products.

She acknowledged that her new fame will definitely be "good for business," though she declined to talk specifics. She's hoping to work on a book, and has talked to an agent about documenting the lives of her family.

Shyba is touched by the flood of emails that have been pouring in. Many fans simply enjoy witnessing the budding relationship between a young boy and his dog. Others have praised her as an animal advocate. Shyba hopes the attention will bring more donations to the SPCA.

"I'm just trying to keep my focus," Shyba said. "Celebrities come with the hope that fame is part of the package. But I just wanted to document my family life. This is certainly unprecedented."


Photo Credit: Jessica Shyba, Momm'as Gone City

White Powder Found at State Office Building in Hartford


State police are investigating after white powder was found at the State Office Building at 165 Capitol Avenue in Hartford.

State Police said the emergency services unit is at the scene and the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has been called.

Foot traffic in and out is being restricted, officials said.

No additional information was immediately available.

Police Looking for Witnesses to South Windsor Crash


South Windsor police are looking for witnesses to a crash that happened around 6:45 p.m. on Saturday at Oakland Road, Route 30, and Buckland Road. 

The vehicles involved were a tan 1998 four-door Mercedes C-Class traveling eastbound on Ellington Road and a green 1996 Ford F350 pickup that was in the left turn lane westbound on Oakland Road, making turn onto Buckland Road, police said.

Anyone with information about the crash is asked to call  South Windsor Police Officer Kyle LaPorte at 860-644-2551 or kyle.laporte@southwindsor.org


Photo Credit: NBC Philadelphia

19-Year-Old Accused of Sexually Assaulting 12-Year-Old


Hamden police have arrested a 19-year-old local teen man accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl in August.

Police said assault happened when the 12 year-old girl, Cameron Hough, 19, of Hamden, and two other people went to an isolated area in the vicinity of 1869 Dixwell Avenue.

Hough is accused of sexually assaulting the teen inside of a large “cement tube” near a retailer, according to police.

Police began investigating when the girl’s parents contacted police and obtained an arrest warrant for Hough, who turned himself in at Hamden police headquarters today.

He has been charged with sexual assault in the first degree and risk of injury to a minor, detained on a $150,000 bond and is due in court in Meriden on November 25.


Photo Credit: Hamden Police

Car Fire Prompted Closure of Route 72 West


Route 72 West was closed before exit 1 in Plainville briefly this morning because of a car fire.

No additional information is available.

Photo Credit: Stacey Graves

Wanted Felon Accused of Pistol Whipping, Shooting


A wanted felon is in police custody five months after he allegedly pistol whipped one person, then robbed and shot another.

Michael “Murdah” McFarlane was arrested on Sunday at the Bridgeport train station by MTA police, according to the Stamford Police Department.

Stamford police notified MTA police after they got word he was on a train headed to Bridgeport.

MTA police detained him as he walked off the train and discovered a loaded .32 caliber handgun hidden in his jacket pocket, according to Stamford police.

McFarlane has two warrants for assaults in Stamford in June.

The first incident involved McFarlane allegedly pistol whipping a female acquaintance in Friendship Park on Richmond Hill. The second incident happened on the same day when he allegedly attempted to rob an acquaintance then shot at him or her. The victim was shot twice and survived.

McFarlane has been charged with possession of a dangerous weapon and possession of a pistol without a permit. Additional charges for the previous incidents include second-degree assault, first-degree assault, first-degree criminal attempt at robbery and first-degree reckless endangerment.

Bond was set at $750,000 for all charges.

Stamford police said McFarlane was a severe danger to the community. The U.S. Marshals also assisted in this investigation.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Winsted Approves Supplemental Property Tax


Despite some loud criticism from the public, the Winchester Board of Selectmen voted Monday night to approve a property tax that would help pull the town out of debt.

The board voted five to two in favor of the supplemental tax.

"We still have a long way to go. It's a step in the right direction," said Winsted resident Lisa Steeves. "I'm of the belief that we need to do that as well as the loan in order to move our town forward."

The supplemental property tax approved Monday night is 3 mills. Since the current mill rate for Winchester is 31.2, it represents about a 10% increase.

For those with property worth $100,000, for the coming year, taxes would jump from $3,120 to $3,420, an increase of $300. The one-time supplemental property tax is expected to bring in about $2 million for the town.

Some residents were supportive of the tax, while others expressed concern.

"It's a hard hit for a lot of people. Some of us can do it, and some of us can't," said Winsted resident Charlene Lavoie.

On Saturday, the town voted overwhelmingly in favor of a $2 million loan to keep their public schools open.

Town officials largely blame former finance director Henry Centrella for the town's money problems. State police arrested Centrella for allegedly stealing millions from the town. He's pleaded not guilty to larceny.

"If we absolutely need [a supplemental property tax], I think the town will support it, but do we actually need it right now?" Lavoie asked the board during public comment.

The 2010-2011 audit was the last one the town completed, and officials are currently working on the 2011-2012 audit. Critics wonder how the town can know where its debt stands without concrete financial information.

"I think that's a valid point, and I think the finance director has done a great job of estimating where we are," said Town Manager Dale Martin.

Residents are required to pay the supplemental property tax by the end of January next year. Officials say $1.5 million will pay bills that are due, and the rest will go towards replenishing funds they say the former finance director depleted.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Naugatuck Police Investigating Hit-and-Run


Naugatuck police are investigating a hit-and-run crash that broke a pedestrian’s leg on Friday evening.

The collision happened at Water and Maple streets around 7 p.m. and the pedestrian was left in the crosswalk, according to police.

The vehicle that fled the scene is a newer model white or silver sedan with a partial plate of 89XYZ, police said.

Anyone with information about the crash should call Naugatuck Police at 203-729-5221 or the confidential tip line at 203-720-1010. 

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Va. State Senator Stabbed


Virginia State Sen. Creigh Deeds remained in fair condition Tuesday night at the University of Virginia Medical Center after he apparently was stabbed by his son, who then shot himself, police said.

Virginia State Police are investigating the incident as an attempted murder-suicide, spokeswoman Corinne Geller said Tuesday afternoon.

"Based on the evidence we have right now, we are looking into this as an attempted murder and suicide," Geller said.

At two afternoon news conferences, state police stopped short of confirming what other sources had told News4: That 24-year-old Austin "Gus" Deeds stabbed his father then killed himself. But state police did confirm that Creigh Deeds suffered multiple stab wounds to the head and upper torso during an altercation at his home, and that Gus Deeds died at the scene of a gunshot wound.

Creigh Deeds, 55, was able to walk out of the home and down a hill on his property (seen in the picture below) to Route 42, where he was spotted and picked up by a cousin, who took the senator to his residence. 

Deeds was airlifted to UVa. Medical Center, where he was initially listed in critical condition and was treated in the intensive care unit.

Troopers and first responders attempted to treat Gus Deeds, but he died at the scene. His body was taken to the medical examiner in Roanoke for an autopsy.

Investigators recovered a firearm at the scene, but police did not say what type.

Police are not seeking any other suspects, Geller said.

Virginia State Police said in a press conference Tuesday that they believe the incident happened shortly before 7:25 a.m., when the Bath County Sheriff's Department received the 911 call. They are not sure who placed the call.

The motive and the sequence of events during the assault are the "crux and the focus of the investigation today" for state police, Geller said.

"We are less than five hours into the investigation," Geller said at the noon press conference. "There is still a lot of work to be done."

Creigh Deeds has been able to speak to investigators, Geller said. The Bath County Sheriff's Department is assisting Virginia State Police with the investigation.

"The news from this morning is utterly heartbreaking," said Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. "Creigh Deeds is an exceptional and committed public servant who has always done what he believes is best for Virginia and who gives his all to public service."

Four years ago, Deeds, a Democrat, lost badly to Republican McDonnell in the Virginia governor's race, although Barack Obama had carried the commonwealth just a year earlier. Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, said the loss was a reaction to Obama's election in 2008, and a harbinger of the Tea Party surge.

But Deeds has held strong as a Democrat in a legislative district that encompasses both the urban center of Charlottesville and more rural, typically Republican areas of far western Virginia. Deeds has also been helped by his home turf of Bath County, which is typically Republican but turns out the vote for one of their own, Sabato said.

State police would not comment on reports that Gus Deeds was released from Bath Community Hospital Monday following a mental health evaluation performed under an emergency custody order. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported a psychiatric bed could not be found for him over a wide area of western Virginia.

"While I cannot confirm whether or not anyone was issued an Emergency Custody Order (ECO), what information we can provide at this time is the typical procedure involved in an ECO," read a statement from Dennis A. Cropper, Ph.D., executive director of Rockbridge Area Community Services in Lexington, who was cited in the Times-Dispatch. "Once a person is taken into custody under an ECO, they can be held for up to four hours while an evaluation from a Mental Health professional is conducted. Within those four hours, if a mental health professional determines that they need a psychiatric bed space, they have to use those same four hours to locate a receiving facility. In certain conditions, a two-hour extension is granted by a magistrate, but under no circumstances can a person be held beyond six hours involuntarily under an ECO."

Colleagues of Sen. Deeds said they've heard of difficulties with his son but never imagined an outcome like this.

Gus Deeds withdrew from the College of William & Mary last month, the college said in a statement Tuesday afternoon. He had been enrolled there since 2007, although not continuously.

He was a music major with "a strong academic record," according to the school.

"Our hearts go out to the entire Deeds family," the school's statement read in part.

The same year his father ran for governor, Gus Deeds, then 20,  was arrested in Bath County for alcohol possession, according to the Virginian Pilot.

Reaction to the news of the attack on Creigh Deeds came from throughout the commonwealth.

"This is a truly sad day for Virginia and for the many people who know Creigh as the fine public servant and friend he is," said Virginia Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe, whom Deeds defeated in the Democratic primary in 2009. "We join people across the Commonwealth and country in wishing him a full recovery."

Mark Warner, who campaigned for Deeds in 2009, said:

That sentiment was echoed by Virginia Delegate David Toscano, who represents Albemarle County in the General Assembly:

Creigh Deeds has been a Virginia state senator since 2001, representing Virginia's 25th District. He served in the House of Delegates for 10 years prior and ran unsuccessfully for attorney general of Virginia in 2005 before his run for governor in 2009.

Deeds and his first wife, Pam, divorced after nearly 20 years of marriage in 2010. The couple also has three daughters. Deeds married his second wife in June 2012. She was not home at the time of the altercation.

Stay with NBCWashington for more on this developing story.  



Photo Credit: Getty Images

Hartford Public Safety Complex Reopens After Evacuation


The Hartford Public Safety Complex was evacuated this morning for gas leak, according to police.

The building is safe and secure and has been reopened as of 11:24 a.m. 

Police said mechanical contractors were working on a regulator to a fuel cell, which caused an odor of gas.

This triggered an alarm and the building was evacuated as a safety precaution.

There was no interruption to police services during the evacuation. 

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Jacqueline Kennedy's Legacy


Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis passed away in 1994, but her legacy lives on: she was a champion for the arts, helped restored many public rooms in the White House, and was a respected ambassador of good will for the United States. Learn more about her legacy.

Photo Credit: AP
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