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Winds Threaten Macy's Balloons


Gusty winds could ground the high-flying balloons of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, which can't fly in certain conditions.

Sustained winds on Thursday are forecast to reach 15 to 20 mph, with gusts between 30 and 40 mph; The limits for letting balloons fly is 23 mph winds and gusts of 34 mph -- rules set by a commission in 1998 after a serious accident amid high winds the year before.

A Macy's spokesman said Monday that organizers will look at "real-time" conditions, not forecasts, and that a decision would be made on Thursday morning.

The 2.5-mile parade starts at 77th Street and Central Park West and marches to Herald Square.

Organizers have closely eyed the parade forecast, especially predictions for wind, after accidents over the years.

Two sisters were injured in 2005, when tethers from the M&M's Chocolate Candies balloon became entangled on the head of a street lamp. The women suffered cuts and bruises.

And in 1997, two people were seriously hurt as a Cat in the Hat balloon slammed into a metal pole.



Contractor Indicted in Fatal Philadelphia Building Collapse


The first murder charges have been handed down in a deadly building collapse that took the lives of six people, injured 13 and resulted in an overhaul of demolition practices in the city of Philadelphia.

Griffin T. Campbell, 49, of Philadelphia, faces six counts of third degree murder, six counts of involuntary manslaughter and 13 counts of recklessly endangering another person, according to District Attorney Seth Williams.

"It would appear, bluntly, the motive was greed," Williams said.

Campbell is accused of ignoring safety advice, right up to the eve of the collapse.

It was the morning of June 5, 2013, when a 4-story, free-standing brick wall came crashing down on top of the Salvation Army Thrift Store on the corner of 22nd and Market Streets. Shoppers and workers inside were buried in the debris -- including one woman, for 13 hours.

The grand jury investigation, according to Williams, "places Campbell at the center of culpability." Williams said that instead of opting for the safest way to dismantle the building, Campbell opted for the most profitable way, which included salvaging some of the dismantled parts.

Williams said numerous demolition and construction experts testified before the grand jury, explaining that there was one appropriate way to take the building down.

"The building should have been taken down hand by hand, piece by piece, brick by brick," Williams said.

Instead of taking the building apart from the outside, Campbell removed key structural parts of the building from inside first, using heavy machinery, according to Williams.

"He therefore chose to maximize his profits by first deciding to remove the joists, which were valuable for his resale." That left the walls without support, Williams said.

On the night before the collapse, Plato Marinakos, an architect and the project's expeditor, allegedly warned Campbell that the unbraced wall could collapse at any time. According to Williams, Campbell promised that night to have the part of the wall that towered above thrift store taken down, brick-by-brick. The work was started, but never finished. On the morning of the collapse, about an hour before the walls crumbled, Campbell called Marinakos and tole him the freestanding part of the wall had been safely taken.

The collapse happened at 10:41 a.m. Four minutes later, Campbell began repeatedly calling Marinakos. According to the grand jury presentment:

...Campbell called Marinakos and told him that the building collapsed and he should get to the site right away. As Marinakos travelled to the stire, Campbell continued to "frantically" call marinakos and plead for him to get to the site. Eventually, Marinakos got to the site and found Campbell in the chaos. Marinakos asked Campbell how this happened and Campbell admiteed to him "he didn't take the wall down" and stated "I'm sorry."

Construction accident attorney, Robert Mongeluzzi, who is defending the majority of survivors and victims' families who have filed civil suits, said he was looking forward to the continued work of the grand jury to see if anyone higher up the chain of command would be indicted.

"The information we've discovered and the emails we've uncovered have proven that this accident occurred because of decisions made over days and weeks and not just on the job site," Mongeluzzi said. He also questioned whether Marinakos, the expeditor, could have done more.

"If I was at a job site and there was a wall that I knew could potentially collapse onto the building next door, the first thing I would have done is pick up the phone and call 911, the police department and OSHA," Mongeluzzi said.

Campbell did not talk when he turned himself in this afternoon, but his attorney, William Hobson said the collapse was a horrible, tragic accident, but that his client did nothing wrong.

"We will vigorously defend all these allegations and charges," Hobson said, lashing out at the DA. "It was no accident that the Monday before Thanksgiving that the District Attorney decided to indict our client.

"I hope that Campbell's arrest will give victims and their families some sense of relief, although I know their pain will never go away," Williams said.

Campbell is the second person charged in the fatal collapse. During the first week of the investigation, prosecutors charged Sean Benschop, an excavator hired by Campbell, with six counts of involuntary manslaughter and 13 counts of reckless endangerment for his alleged role in the collapse.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration proposed nearly $400,000 in penalties and issued construction safety citations to Campbell and Benschop.

In the wake of the collapse, the city’s Department of Licenses & Inspections issued new guidelines for demolitions taking place inside the city.

A special City Council investigative committee also issued 71 reform recommendations ranging from changes in demolition paperwork to altering the Philadelphia Code to giving the Philadelphia Fire Department more power to stop bad demolitions.

The parents of Anne Bryan, one of the victims who died in the collapse, pushed for the creation of a blue-ribbon commisison to investigate L&I. Bryan, 24, was shopping with her best friend Mary Lea Simpson inside the store the morning of the collapse. Both died.

"We are hopeful this is only the beginning of the Grand Jury’s work and that eventually all those that were responsible for the death of our daughter and the other victims are held criminally responsible to the fullest extent of the law."

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Gas Leak in Bethel


A gas leak has forced the evacuation of a portion of Trowbridge Drive in Bethel.

No one has been injured, according to Bethel police. The gas company is on the scene.

Photo Credit: Google

Fire at Old Pratt & Whitney Building in North Haven


The North Haven Fire Department is responding to a fire at the old Pratt & Whitney building at 415 Washington Avenue.

The initial call reporting the fire came in around 12:45 p.m.

No additional information is available.

Two People Bitten by Pit Bull in Southington


A pit bull was Tasered and euthanized after biting a local resident and police officer, then following woman and small child into their home in Southington last week, police say.

According to police, the dog pushed its way out of an unlocked cellar door on North Summit Street around 9:30 a.m. Nov. 21.

Police said the pit bull approached a woman walking with a child in a stroller and two small dogs, then “aggressively engaged” the dogs. The woman and a bystander pushed the stroller out of harm’s way, and a third person lifted it into a truck bed to keep the child safe.

Police said the pit bull bit the first bystander on the hand, then bit Southington Police Officer Butler on the hand and arm after he arrived on scene.

The woman, child and two smaller dogs went into their home, at which point the pit bull followed them inside. Police were able to contain the dog but said it was still behaving aggressively and officers had to shoot it with a Taser. The dog was taken to the Southington Animal Control facility. Police said Sieracki “voluntarily surrendered” the dog and it was later euthanized.

The officer and witness who were bitten were taken to an area hospital for treatment of minor injuries. They were released from the hospital shortly thereafter, according to police.

The woman, child and other witness were not injured.

Photo Credit: blogiversity.org

Students Claim N-Word A "Prank"


Even though they allegedly fastened a bike lock around a black freshman’s neck, wrote the N- word on a dry erase board, draped a Confederate flag around a campus apartment and had Nazi-era paraphernalia lying about, most everyone interviewed by San Jose State University police said they thought these actions were simply college pranks.

And for the first time on Monday since the hate charges surfaced last week, San Jose State University President Mo Qayoumi took personal responsibility for what happened.

 "By failing to recognize the meaning of a Confederate flag, intervene earlier to stop the abuse, or impose sanctions as soon as the gravity of the behavior became clear, we failed him," Qayoumi said in an email and then to a crowd on campus. "I failed him."

But to anyone who knows history, these alleged actions by four white students against an African-
American freshman were not silly, harmless jokes.

The symbols chosen  and detailed in university police reports show that "ugly bigotry" still exists in pockets of our country today, according to Lecia Brooks, director of outreach at the Southern Poverty Law Center. In an open letter, she said that these actions cannot be dismissed as innocent pranks and that we must not "excuse ourselves from digging deeper and doing the hard work of addressing bigotry, racism and destructive ignorance."

MORE: SJSU Charged With Hate Crime vs. Black Roommate

According to several witnesses, suspects and the victim himself - at least in the beginning - the behavior reported from August to mid-October at Campus Village apartments was supposed to be funny, and it wasn't because he was black. These statements, and more, are detailed in university police reports obtained by NBC Bay Area and published Monday.

One student interviewed told police she didn’t  "think the actions were racist, just immature,” and "done for shock value." She said she thinks the 17-year-old African-American victim was bullied because he was “scrawny and easy going,” not because of his race. She thought about reporting the behavior but "didn't want to make it worse."

And, when another witness was asked, Don't these seem like horribly racist things to do? She answered: "(Prejudice) doesn't seem too present to us, it's just in the books. It doesn't seem like a big deal for us to do things like this."

One of the suspects charged with a hate crime -- Logan Beaschler, 18, of Bakersfield -- told police his actions were “supposed to be funny.”

In trying to explain why he hung a Confederate flag in the suite he shared with the alleged black victim, Beaschler said, a decorative theme of “The South Shall Rise Again” was in reference to himself and another student from Los Angeles both hailing from Southern California.

Beaschler told police the flag was “supposed to ruffle people’s feathers."

The first police report was taken on Oct. 14. The Santa Clara County District Attorney on Nov. 20 filed misdemeanor hate crime and battery charges against Beaschler, 18; Joseph Bomgardner, 19; and Colin Warren, 18, of Woodacre in Marin County, on the same day the Mercury News first reported the story.

The three were suspended by SJSU on Nov. 21. A fourth student, an 18-year-old from Los Angeles, was suspended on Nov. 22. His charges and identity are not public because he was a juvenile at the time of the alleged incidents. It has come to light that two of the accused white students were first moved to a different dorm.

Beaschler is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 6, and Warren is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 22  There is no court date yet set for Bomgardner.

The police reports indicate the victim himself wasn’t sure how to handle the situation.

MORE: 4th SJSU Student Suspended From SJSU

The alleged abuse against him included: Having his shoes stolen, being locked in a closet with the doorknob removed, and being called "Three-Fifths" and "Fraction," references dating back to the days of slavery in America.

When a bike lock was allegedly put around his neck for several minutes in September, a witness acknowledged that it was meant to symbolize "putting chains and locks on the black kid," the reports state. But, according to the police report, that witness brushed off the suspects' behavior not as racist, but as a "prank war gone extreme."

How it all started is a bit unclear. The police reports indicate it may have started, in a college sort of way, over a missing pet fish that was later returned and somehow blamed on the African-American student.

When interviewed by police, the victim said he wasn’t quite sure if he was simply being pranked, or if his alleged abusers were racially motivated. But, at one point in the police interview, he acknowledged to officers that his attitude began to change, and fear began to set in.

“Don’t do it again,” he remembered telling them about the bike lock on his neck. He began to lock his door at night. He also said that he thought a Jewish roommate was going to be the next target because of Adolf Hitler references, and the fact that one of the suspect’s had a fish named "Das Booten Fisch," a reference to Nazi Germany.

A young woman, who also lived in the Campus Village apartments where the alleged behavior took place, told police that she thought this was all a bunch of “funny pranks, like doorbell ditch.”

She said the suspects all thought it was “hilarious” and just took things “too far.” She had thought about reporting the actions to a tip line but didn’t want to “disrespect” the victim because he didn’t report it.

At a subsequent news conference last week, Vice President of Student Affairs William Nance said he does not know how this could have gone on for so long without being reported. He urged anyone on campus to “say something” if they spot any type of bullying or harassment toward others.

And in a statement, California State University Chancellor Tim White said: "As a CSU community, we must confront honestly and directly incidents such as the one at San Jose State,"  which he called "a clarion call" for vigilance at all 23 CSU campuses.

The NAACP urged the District Attorney up the charges to felonies and add the charge of false imprisonment instead of battery alone.

"The community will not stand idly by and allow for any student of color to be terrorized simply due to the color of his skin,” said Reverend Jethroe Moore II, president of the San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP in a statement. “This is not simple hazing or bullying, this is obviously racially based terrorism targeted at their African American roommate.”

But in a statement, DA Jeff Rosen said: “While we understand the outrage of those calling for even stiffer charges in this case, the charges are not a reflection of the degree of their racism. The charges are a reflection of their criminal conduct.”

DOWNLOAD: Statement from Santa Clara County DA 

The NAACP also called on SJSU to investigate why the alleged abuse continued for so long and why no immediate action to rectify the situation was taken. Those steps are being taken.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

Fatal Hartford Hit-and-Run Victim Identified


Hartford police are searching for a driver who fatally struck a pedestrian early Sunday morning then fled the scene.

Roberto Manuel Cruz, 34, of Otis Street in Hartford was hit by a car while walking in the area of 700 Maple Avenue in Hartford around 2:30 a.m. Nov. 24, police said. Cruz was taken to Hartford Hospital, where he died of his injuries.

Police are looking for a silver or gray, 2003 to 2006 Infinity G35 with a possible license plate of Connecticut 582-XYM.  The car's right front end is likely to be damaged, police said. It was last seen traveling southbound on Maple Avenue.

The area of 700 Maple Avenue was closed for hours while the accident reconstruction team investigated and police worked to clear hte scene.

Anyone with information is asked to call Hartford Police Det. Candice Hendrix at 860-757-4226.

Anonymous tips can be reported to crime stoppers at 860-722-TIPS.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Hartford Police Make Arrest in 2011 Shooting


Hartford police have investigated the person accused of shooting a 63-year-old man on Albany Avenue in 2011.

Kejuan Williams, 20, of Hartford, was arrested on Orange Street Monday in connection with the shooting of Ervin Coley in September 2011. Coley was found suffering from a gunshot wound outside 706 Albany Avenue around 7:15 p.m. the night of Sept. 9, 2011, police said.

Williams was charged with first-degree assault and possession of a pistol without a permit, as well as failure to respond to an infraction and violation of a city ordinance, which stem from another outstanding warrant.

He’s and is being held on a total bond of $750,150.

Photo Credit: Hartford Police Department

Family Displaced by Granby House Fire


A Granby family was displaced Monday after a fire broke out at their home on Case Street.

Fire officials said the fire started around 3 p.m. Monday and was heaviest in the attic. The homeowner was inside when the fire broke out and said he heard a crackling sound as the flames ignited. Smoke detectors sounded in the home and the resident was able to escape. No injuries were reported.

Authorities worked for about three hours to stamp out the flames. Mutual aid was called in from surrounding towns, including Barkhamsted, Canton and Hartland.

The cause of the fire is unknown.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Obama to Arrive in Los Angeles


President Barack Obama arrived in Southern California Monday evening on a two-day fundraising swing that includes a stop at the home of basketball great and Dodgers co-owner Earvin "Magic" Johnson and a visit to the DreamWorks Animation facility for a speech on the economy.

Traffic Advisories: Street Closures

The trip is Obama's 16th to Los Angeles since he took office. He began Monday in Seattle before stopping in San Francisco for a fundraiser and speech in support of immigration overhaul, which was interrupted by an audience member who shouted, "Stop deportation. Yes we can."

The LA fundraisers Monday  for the  Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic Senate Campaign Committee will be at the homes of NBA Hall of Fame player Johnson and Saban Capital Group Chairman Haim Saban,  according to the website politicalpartytime.org, which tracks political  fundraisers across the country.

A coalition of environmental and progressive groups plan to conduct a  rally and march in Beverly Hills against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a  regional trade agreement, in connection with Monday's fundraisers. Opponents of the partnership claim it will undermine state, local and  federal laws, including those governing food safety, environmental protections,  Internet freedom, workers rights, health care, drug prices and banking and  finance regulations.

Read: President on Immigration Overhaul

The Obama administration says the partnership will boost economic growth  by increasing American exports, support the creation and retention of  American jobs and promote innovation. The partnership consists of the United  States, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Vietnam and  Singapore.

On Tuesday, Obama is scheduled to conduct a fundraiser for the  Democratic National Committee at the Hancock Park home of Marta Kauffman, a co- creator of the 1994-2004 NBC comedy "Friends," politicalpartytime.org  reported.

Obama is also scheduled Tuesday to speak at DreamWorks Animation, which  is headed by Jeffrey Katzenberg, a longtime Obama supporter. Obama, during his  most recent trip to Southern California, had a private dinner with Katzenberg  in August.

The Los Angeles Police Department issued traffic advisories for streets near LAX and roads in Glendale and on the Westside. The most significant traffic problem to occur during one of President Obama's LA visits was in August 2010 when motorists in the Hancock Park area reported waiting in traffic for hours because streets were blocked.

Photo Credit: AP

Fairfield Dance and Music Center Damaged by Fire


A dance and music center in Fairfield was heavily damaged by a fire Monday afternoon.

Police received 911 calls around 12:40 p.m. reporting smoke coming from inside D’Valda & Sirico’s Dance and Music Center at 1580 Post Road. Fire officials arrived to find smoke coming from the roof of the building and inside the facility. Adjoining buildings were also smoking, authorities said. The buildings were evacuated.

Firefighters said they struggled to pinpoint the exact location of the fire. They determined that the flames broke out outside the building, then spread to the interior. The fire was under control by 1:30 p.m.

One firefighter was injured at the scene, fire officials said. The injured firefighter was taken to an area hospital, then treated and released.

The building at 1580 Post Road received heavy fire damage to the outside and smoke and water damage to the interior.

The Fire Marshal’s office is investigating to determine the cause of the fire.

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Photo Credit: Fairfield Fire Department

Newtown Cop Details PTSD


A veteran Newtown police officer who could lose his job for not returning to work after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in December says he was so numb after the horrors he saw that morning that he wanted to cut himself just to feel something.

What Officer Thomas Bean witnessed continues to haunt him, he said. Bean shared his story on NBC's "Today Show" earlier this month and appealed to the Connecticut town to keep the promise he said they made to police.

“As the day went on, I saw the most horrible things that a person can ever imagine,” Bean said.

The 12-year veteran suffered the effects of post-traumatic stress, including paranoia, anxiety and fits of crying and has not returned to work since. His doctor wrote a note in May detailing Bean's diagnosis and explaining that the can no longer work in law enforcement.

"It was a devastating day and the effects have been devastating," said Eric Brown, attorney for the Newtown Police Union.

Twenty first graders and six female staff members of the Newtown elementary school were gunned down on Dec. 14, 2012. Bean said he cannot describe the overwhelming emotions he experienced.

“That night, I drank a lot. The next day, I wanted to cut myself because I just felt so numb,” he said.

A friend of his got him into therapy with a psychiatrist, but it provided limited help.

“That helped some, but I still wasn’t able to sleep,” Bean said. “My wife tells me I was crying in my sleep.”

Bean said he has had unexplained outbursts and flashbacks.

“There’d be times, like I’d talking to you right now and I’d be having video of everything I saw playing right there,” he told Savannah Guthrie.

This summer, Bean found out he could be fired. He received a letter stating the town needed to take some sort of action in terms of his employment.

The "Today" show obtained a copy of the letter, which says, “… termination of your employment with the Newtown Police Department is warranted and will be my recommendation to the Newtown Police Commission.”

Bean has been receiving long-term disability benefits, but the town's insurance policy will only cover two years of long-term disability payments. After that, the town would have to pay Bean potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars over 12 years.

Brown believes this is a violation of the union contract. Bean is supposed to get 50 percent of his pay until retirement, he said.

Bean said the town won't allow him to apply for other jobs since he's still technically a police officer, and he can't afford to leave the police department since he has no other source of income and a family to support.

The question now, according to Brown, is what type of benefit is his client is entitled to, and Bean has been offered three “very bad options.”

“If he were to take a retirement now [it] would be a far reduced retirement and wouldn’t be enough to even pay a small amount of bills,” Brown said. “He’s not eligible for disability retirement, and the town knows that, and resignation would essentially leave him financially destitute.”

Brown said the option the town should be pursuing is to provide him with a disability benefit until his normal retirement date.

“Just like they agreed to in the collective bargaining agreement,” Brown said.        

Several officers in the department have had to take time off to deal with the mental stress of that tragic event and the Newtown Police Union wants the town to come up with a long-term solution.

“I’m hoping that the town’s going to keep a promise that they made to us,” Bean said. “They promised us, all of us, all the police officers, that if we do our job and something happens, they’re going to take care of us and they are not holding up to their word, and that’s all we want them to do for myself or anybody else that this is going to happen to.”

Bean said he thinks some officers cannot take care of themselves because they are too concerned about their financial situation.   

Police Chief Michael Kehoe issued a statement to NBC News that said, “We cannot comment on this matter. I hope you understand.”

NBC Connecticut reached out to Newtown First Selectwoman Pat Llodra but as of this publication did not receive a return call.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Photo Credit: Today Show

Lockdown Lifted for Yale Campus


The seven-hour lockdown at Yale University is over.

It was issued soon after a man made an anonymous call to police at 9:48 a.m. from a phone booth in the 300 block of Columbus Avenue and said his roommate was on his way to the Ivy League school to shoot people, police said.

Police said this afternoon that they believe the call was a hoax, but they were conducting a room by room search of thousands of rooms at Yale.

"We don't have the luxury of going on a hunch, so we are gong to run this down to ground all the way," New Haven Police Chief Dean Esserman said.

Police said they have identified witnesses, as well as others, who were not sure whether the person they saw with a gun was a citizen or a police officer, so they took no chances and police are maintaining a perimeter around campus out of "an abundance of caution."

Police also said there were reports from people on campus seeing someone on a roof or someone, but it turned out to be someone who was smoking a cigarette.

"Nobody has been hurt, nobody has been found, but the day is hardly over," Esserman said. "Because, until we are satisfied that perhaps a police officer was mistakenly seen with a gun, and not a civilian seen with a gun, we are going to err on the side of caution. I want to repeat --  nobody has been shot. Nobody has been hurt.  Nobody has been apprehended with a gun. ... But in this day and age,  when there is a call, it behooves us to over-react and not under-react."

The caller who triggered the massive police response did not identify himself and only stayed on the phone with dispatchers for a few seconds before hanging up, David Hartman, of the New Haven police department said.

Immediately after receiving the call, Yale University ordered a shelter-in-place/lock-down order and state police, the FBI, ATF and other federal agents joined Yale and New Haven police in the investigation.

Esserman said during a news conference this afternoon that police have tracked down the call and they are tracking down the person who made it.

"I'm not, and Chief Higgins is not going to walk away and go home tonight until everybody we're responsible for keeping safe is safe," Esserman said. "And thought it is starting to tilt in the direction of an innocent mistake, it started with a purposeful and malicious call and the New Haven Police are going to track down the person who made that call, we're going to find the person who made that call, we're going to put handcuffs on the person who made that call."

Yale's November break started on Saturday, but several students remain on campus.

One Yale student said she was the only person in her suite when the lockdown was issued. For four hours, she remained inside while her father waited outside to take her home for the Thanksgiving break.

After police knocked on the door and searched her room, she was allowed to leave.

This is a situation that played itself out over and over again today as police do a room to room search that started with the residential college areas.

"When (police) knock on your door, a Yale Police Officer will slip their Yale ID under the door. Please cooperate. In some cases, Police may use keys, but they will identify themselves. Shelter in Place continues," an alert the university issued at 1:45 p.m. said.

Police said this afternoon that Old Campus was considered "the hot zone," and the search could take hours.

Just before 2 p.m., the SWAT team was entering Calhoun College, at College and Elm streets. It is one of Yale's 12 residential colleges.

The situation also prompted a precautionary lockdown at Gateway Community College, which is located nearby at 20 Church Street in New Haven.

Police are also asking drivers to stay away from the area as the emergency response continues and said the New Haven Free Public Library is closed.

The downtown area remains congested and slow moving, so people are asked to avoid the area if possible. 

Businesses were also affected. Hartman said businesses on Chapel Street, between College and High streets, were closed.

"At the end of the day, we can always sell more soup and more salads and more food, but we can't replace bodies, so that's all we cared about,"Claire Criscuolo, owner of Claire's Corner Copia, said.

They have since reopened.

Anyone with information is asked to call 911 immediately. 

Sailors Come Home for the Holidays


Home for the holidays – sailors from the USS Dallas returned to Connecticut today and were greeted by laughter and tears of joy.

One got to meet his four-month-old daughter for the first time.

“It was special,” said sailor Sebastian Lefever. “I’ve seen her on Facebook and stuff like that for the last four-and-a-half months but it’s great to be hone and see her.”

Each family has a story and have been finding their own ways to cope with a long deployment.

“Now that it’s all over, it doesn’t seem hard at all,” said Stevi Bramich, the wife of a recently returned sailor. “But during the deployment it was difficult. I had just moved up here maybe six months before and didn’t know anybody.”

But with long hugs, big smiles and bouquets of roses, those six months at sea drew to a close.

“It is a long time to be stuck underwater but now that we’re back it feels good to up here and see good old Groton again,” said Carney McGeehan of the USS Dallas. “I never thought I’d miss this place so much. It feels darn good to be back!”

McGeehan’s parents and girlfriend made the trip from Lancaster, Penn. to welcome him home.

Ed McGeehan, his father, choked back tears as he hugged his son.

“I’m speechless, I’m so proud of him,” Ed McGeehan said. “We’re extra thankful for Thanksgiving this year.”

And that’s a feeling shared by many.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Victim's Father Responds to Sandy Hook Report


According to the State's Attorney's report on the Newtown school shooting on Dec. 14 of last year, police found the body of substitute teacher Lauren Rousseau "close to the children" in Classroom 8 of Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Her father, Gilles Rousseau, said he read a preview of the report through tears some time ago. The report doesn't directly say Lauren died trying to defend her kids, but Gilles Rousseau said he's proud that she was brave. That pride helps him cope with his loss.

"She wouldn't want me to be moping around and crying every day," he said. "I cry every once in a while when I talk about her."

He said the report could help other people make peace as well.

"I think it will be good for the residents of Newtown to have some kind of closure, for them to understand more what happened," Giles Rousseau said.

However, many Newtown residents are still struggling with the trauma of that day, and for them, the report could do more harm than good, said marriage and family therapist Jeffrey Schutz.

"This will answer a lot of questions for the police and information many professionals need to know," Schutz said. "I'm not convinced it's gonna answer the deeper questions of why do things like this happen, and why did it happen to us?"

Schutz said many people are not sure how much time it will take to move on and let go of their emotional memories.

As the anniversary approaches, families, survivors and members of the community are working to heal.

No "Conclusive" Newtown Motive


Connecticut authorities have not been able to determine what prompted gunman Adam Lanza to carry out his 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, an attack that shattered the bucolic community of Newtown and thrust the country into a long, soul-searching debate over gun control and mental-health care.

Nearly a year after Lanza killed his mother, 20 children, six educators and himself, investigators have concluded that there is no evidence that points to "a conclusive motive," according to a report released Monday.

In other words, the case's most burning question — Why? — may never be answered.

There is also no clear explanation for Lanza's choosing the school as his target and the children and adults inside as his victims. It may have been simply that he lived nearby, investigators said.

"In fact, as best as can be determined, the shooter had no prior contact with anyone in the school that day," the report said.

The 43-page document, which condenses thousands of pages included in the state police's file on the case, said that Lanza, 20, acted alone, and suffered from various mental health issues, including Asperger syndrome. Investigators concluded that Lanza's mental state provided "no defense to his conduct," saying that the evidence showed "his intentions to kill" and that he understood that what he was doing was illegal. 

"It is clear that the shooter planned his crimes in advance and was under no extreme emotional disturbance for which there was a reasonable explanation or excuse," the report said.

The report concluded that no criminal charges will be filed in the case, in which Lanza — who stood 6 feet tall and weighed 112 pounds — killed his mother at home then drove to the school and gunned down 26 people in the span of five minutes before committing suicide. It was the second-worst school shooting in American history.

An autopsy of Lanza's body found no drugs in his system, the report said. There was no evidence to suggest Lanza had taken any medication that would affect his behavior.

A piece of the story

The report was released Monday afternoon by Stephen Sedensky III, the state’s attorney for the judicial district of Danbury. It came less than three weeks before the anniversary of the Dec 14, 2012 attack, an event that will reopen emotional wounds among victims' families and expose the town to a new round of unwanted attention.

Sedensky has resisted calls by the media and First Amendment advocates to make public the entire stack of documents — and 911 calls. He has relied on input from victims' families, some of whom have demanded tighter restrictions on the release of investigative files.

He said Monday that he would release no additional information, presumably leaving it up to another agency to decide whether to release the remaining files. The state police has indicated that it may do so.

“With the release of this report today the investigation is closed, and no additional release of information or documents by this office is anticipated,” Sedensky said.

The family of Vicki Soto, a teacher killed by Lanza, said in a statement that the release of the report was "yet another blow" as the anniversary approaches.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy responded with a statement that expressed sympathy for the families of Lanza's victims, but also hope that the report, and voluminous backup documents, will be used to prevent similar crimes.

"If there is one thing that I believe we must do, it's that we must honor the lives that were lost by taking steps to protect ourselves from another horror like this," Malloy said.

A troubled life

The report sketches out Adam Lanza's brief, troubled life, including his descent into mental illness.

His problems began as a young boy in the late 1990s, when he suffered from "speech and language needs." He also began having seizures.

In 2005, Lanza was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, the report said, which involved "significant social impairments and extreme anxiety." An evaluation determined that he lacked empathy.

“As he got older, his condition seemed to worsen and he became more of a loner,” the report said. In middle school, he recoiled from "noise and confusion" and struggled to walk between classes. “As a result, in high school the shooter was home-schooled for a period of time.”

At the same time, Lanza developed a "preoccupation with mass shootings," particularly the 1999 murders at Columbine High School in Colorado, and "a strong interest in firearms."

Investigators searching the Lanza home discovered a spreadsheet tracking mass murders over the years, newspaper articles on shootings involving schoolchildren in 2008 and 1891 and a copy of the book "Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy," which chronicled a 2006 mass shooting at an Amish school in Pennsylvania that left five young pupils dead.

They also found a computer game depicting a school shooter, images of Lanza holding guns to his head and "two videos showing suicide by gunshot."

Puzzling contradictions

The report revealed many instances of contradictory behavior that made it difficult to understand why he killed. He was obsessed with guns and violence, but "displayed no aggressive or threatening tendencies" until Dec. 14. In some contexts he was considered intelligent, and in others below-average. Some acquaintances said he'd been bullied, and others said they saw no such problem. "With some people he could talk with them and be humorous; but many others saw the shooter as unemotional, distant, and remote," the report said.

Equally puzzling was his relationship with his 52-year-old mother, Nancy, his primary caregiver. Some people who knew him said he didn't have much emotional connection with her, or cared if something bad happened to her. Others told investigators they thought Lanza was close to his mother and that she was the only person to whom he would talk.

"Nancy Lanza didn't work because of her son's condition, and worried about what would happen to (him) if anything happened to her,” the report said.

A month or so before the massacre, Lanza's mother grew concerned about his reclusiveness, the report said.

In November 2012, she tried to buy him a computer, or parts of a computer, out of concern that "he hadn’t gone anywhere in three months and would only communicate with her by e-mail, though
they were living in the same house," according to the report.

But Nancy Lanza "never expressed fear of the shooter, for her own safety or that of anyone else."

That point is clear in her plans for Christmas: she wanted to buy him a CZ 83 pistol, "and had prepared a check for that purchase."

Nancy Lanza had a permit to carry a pistol, but Adam did not.

Studying shootings

In the months before the attack, Adam Lanza downloaded a significant amount of material related to mass shootings onto his computer, including video clips about Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the Columbine gunmen, surveillance footage of a Cleveland school shooting, a 2007 mall shooting in Omaha, Neb., and two videos showing suicide by self-inflicted gunshots, an appendix to the report said.

Lanza also had a file labeled "FUN" that included images of him holding guns to his head and a five-second video titled "Postal" that included a dramatization of children being shot.

He frequently posted on a blog that focused on mass shootings, including the Columbine attack. He also exchanged e-mails with others who were interested in the topic of mass shootings. 

But none of those communications indicated what Lanza was going to do. And there was no evidence that any of those who traded messages with him played any kind of role in the murders, the report said.

Cache of weapons

Monday's report was the most detailed document officials have released since March, when a the court seal on several search warrants expired. Those warrants described a massive cache of guns, knives, swords and ammunition found in the home where Adam Lanza lived with his 52-year-old mother, Nancy.

The stockpile in the Lanza home included rifles, a BB gun, a starter pistol, several large-capacity magazines and a huge array of ammunition of various sizes. There was also a bayonet and a pole outfitted with a spear and blade.

Seized along with the weapons were photographs of what appeared to be a bloody body, a New York Times article about a 2008 mass shooting at Northern Illinois University, self-help books for understanding the minds of people with Asperger syndrome and autism, a guide to pistol shooting and a holiday card containing a check Nancy Lanza wrote to her son for the purchase of a firearm.

Investigators also took several of Adam Lanza's personal journals and drawings, a smashed hard drive, handwritten notes on the addresses of local gun shops and several printed emails.

The attack

Those documents, along with Monday's report, show that Lanza began his rampage by shooting his mother four times with a .22 caliber rifle while she lay in bed. He then drove her Honda Civic to nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School, parked in the fire lane and shot his way into the entrance. Once inside, he opened fire on the students and school workers with a .223 caliber Bushmaster rifle. As police approached, Lanza killed himself with a Glock 10 mm handgun.

The first 911 call from the school reached authorities at 9:35 a.m. Officers found the dead victims in two classrooms near the front door. In another classroom they came upon Adam Lanza's body, outfitted in a pale-green pocket vest, a black polo shirt, black cargo pants and black sneakers, the report said. He also wore yellow earplugs and black fingerless gloves on each hand.

The Bushmaster still had 14 rounds in its magazine and one in its chamber. Lanza also had several additional 30-round magazines for the Bushmaster, some spent and some still loaded, and a third gun, a loaded 9 mm Sig-Sauer pistol, which apparently was not used to shoot anyone.

The report released Monday said that the first police officer arrived at the school at 9:39 a.m., less than four minutes after the first 911 call. Lanza's final shot, killing himself, rang out at 9:40 a.m.

Lanza fired 154 rounds total, about half of the live ammunition he brought to the scene.

In the Civic, authorities recovered a 12-gauge Izhmash Canta shotgun, and two magazines containing 70 shotgun rounds.

Officers also found a rifle in the bedroom where Nancy Lanza died.

In all, police seized five guns that were “directly involved” in the killings. Nancy Lanza had bought them all legally.

Torey Van Oot, Daniel Macht, LeAnne Gendreau, Bob Connors, Ari Mason, An Phung, Sara Frazier and NBC News contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: AP

2 Injured in Bridgeport Police Shooting


Two people were injured in a police-involved shooting in Bridgeport on Monday evening, authorities said.

It happened in the parking lot of the Bayview shopping plaza on Boston Avenue. A man and a woman were wounded and were taken to area hospitals, according to police.

The victims, whom Bridgeport police are referring to as suspects, have not been identified. The extent of their injuries is unknown.

"I heard a popping sound from out here and I wasn't sure what it was," said witness Paulo Silveira of Bridgeport, who was nearby at the time. Silveira said he thought he'd heard fireworks, but soon realized it was gunfire. He said at least 20 shots rang out.

It's not clear exactly what happened and who is responsible for firing those shots.

The plaza was evacuated and is taped off while authorities investigate.

The State Police Major Crime Unit, the State's Attorney's office and the Bridgeport Police Internal Affairs division are conducting the investigation.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Deer Bursts Through Shop Window


A deer burst through the window of a frozen yogurt shop in New Jersey, causing $5,000 in damage as it slipped and slid around the store before it ran out, the owner says. 

The deer somehow broke into the front window of Peachwave Yogurt Store in Holmdel, N.J., on Oct. 14, according to the store's owner Alan Prachar. His daughter, Jen, was closing up at around 10 p.m. when she came face-to-face with it.

"I just didn't expect it to come through here," she said. 

Alan Prachar said the lights were being dimmed in the store and thinks that may be what attracted the unexpected visitor.

"Both the lights were off in the store and I think perhaps he saw his reflection in the window," he said. 

The bewildered animal proceeded to slide around on the floor as it went behind the counter and the dining area, knocking over chairs and furniture. An employee from a nearby business came to help, and the deer was shepherded out the emergency exit in the back.

"Luckily, I didn't think he was too hurt," said Jen Prachar. "Little cut, no limp." 

It wasn't immediately clear whether authorities were contacted after the deer ran out of the store.

Alan Prachar said insurance will foot the bill for damages caused by the deer. 

Crowd Attacks Border Patrol Agents


A crowd of more than 100 people pelted Border Patrol agents with rocks and bottles as they tried to cross into the U.S. illegally, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The incident happened Sunday in the Tijuana River channel, near the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

According to CBP, a Border Patrol agent ordered the Mexican nationals to stop, but they continued walking into the U.S.

Officials said the agent fired a PepperBall Launcher, but it did not deter the crowd.

“They had their phones out so this group was out to spark an incident. That's what they wanted to do, “ Border Patrol Union representative Gabriel Pacheco said.

Had cooler heads not prevailed it could have ended much worse, he said.

Even with reinforcements, agents were outnumbered, dodging threats, rocks and bottles.

More agents responded as the crowd became “unruly,” even hitting one agent in the head with a full water bottle, officials said.

According to CBP, the agents used “intermediate use-of-force” devices, and the group retreated back to the Mexican side of the border.

No one was arrested.


Family Disputes Gay Server's Story


After a gay server at a New Jersey restaurant said a customer denied her a tip and wrote her a hateful note on the receipt, a local family contacted NBC 4 New York and said their receipt shows they paid a tip and didn't write any such note.

Dayna Morales, a former Marine and a server at Gallop Asian Bistro in Bridgewater, posted a photo on Facebook earlier this month, showing the bill with a line through the space for a tip. The photo of the receipt showed someone had written, "I'm sorry but I cannot tip because I do not agree with your lifestyle."

Morales indicated in her Facebook post, and in subsequent media interviews -- including with NBC 4 New York -- that the customer wrote that line.

But a family contacted NBC 4 New York claiming their receipt from the restaurant shows they did leave a tip, and provided what they said was a credit card statement as proof.

The husband and wife, who asked to remain anonymous, showed NBC 4 New York a receipt that appeared to be printed at the same minute, on the same date, for the same $93.55 total, except with an $18 tip. 

They also provided a document they said was a Visa bill, which appears to indicate their card was charged for the meal plus the tip, for a total of $111.55.

The couple told NBC 4 New York that they believed their receipt was used for a hoax. The wife says she is left-handed and could not have made the slash in the tip line, which she said looks to be drawn from the right.

"We've never not left a tip when someone gave good service, and we would never leave a note like that," the wife said.

The husband said he and his wife have both worked in restaurants and believe in the value of tipping, and noted that he didn't vote for Gov. Chris Christie because the governor doesn't support gay marriage.

"Never would a message like that come from us," he said.

Morales told NBC 4 New York on Monday that she was certain she did not receive a tip, and insisted the handwriting on the receipt was not hers. When asked if there had been some sort of misunderstanding, she said, "I don't know, all I know is what I've been saying."

A manager and the restaurant owner insisted they had the original ticket for the $93.55 charge, but would not produce the receipt for NBC 4 New York and could not explain why the family's credit card was charged for more.

The restaurant later said in a statement it was aware of the allegations and had no comment pending an internal investigation.

Whatever happened, the couple believes it may have begun with a misunderstanding.

They said they thought the hostess who sat the family told them their server would be "Dan," and when Morales showed up at their table, the wife exclaimed "whoa, you're not Dan."

Morales wrote in her Facebook post that the wife said, "oh I thought you were gonna say your name is Dan. You sure surprised us!"

According to the couple, the rest of the meal with their two children went fine. 

They said they came forward because the story of the receipt note didn't appear to be going away; Morales had recently announced that people were sending her tips from all over the world, and was donating some of the money to the Wounded Warrior Project.

"I just felt like people have a right to know that -- it's fine if people want to donate to her or to the Wounded Warriors, but they're doing it under a false pretense," the wife said.

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