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Burglary Investigation Leads to Drug Bust


What started as a burglary investigation ended with two arrests and the discovery of $4,000 worth of heroin and crack cocaine in Torrington.

Police said the responding officer had arrived at the scene to check out the report of a burglary when a local resident tipped him off about an apparent drug deal. According to police, Leslie A. Walker, 46, of Torrington, and Keith I. Smith, 36, of Waterbury, were discovered sitting in a car parked at 49 Brookside Avenue.

When the officer approached the car to investigate, Walker got out the passenger’s side and tried to leave. The officer detained her and Smith fled the scene. He was found in the area of East Pearl Street shortly thereafter, according to police.

Police said Smith tried to run a second time, then struggled with police. He was shot with a Taser and taken into custody.

Officers searched Smith and discovered 28 grams of crack cocaine, 100 bags of heroin and more than $1,000 cash. The drugs are valued at about $4,000, according to police.

Smith and Walker were arrested and their car was impounded.

Smith was charged with possession of heroin with intent to sell, possession of crack cocaine with intent to sell, possession of narcotics within 1500-feet of a school, interfering with an officer and breach of peace. He was released on a $50,000 surety bond and is due in court Dec. 9.

Walker was charged with criminal attempt and possession of a narcotic substance. She was released on a $3,000 surety bond and is also due in court Dec. 9.

Photo Credit: Torrington Police Department

Watertown Resident Killed in Crash


A 54-year-old Watertown man has died after crashing his car into a utility pole on Route 6/Cutler Street Friday evening.

According to police, John F. Pillis, of Echo Lake Road Ext. in Watertown, was driving eastbound on Route 6 just before 7:30 p.m. Nov. 29. He crossed the center line “for some unexplained reason” and struck a utility pole near the westbound lane outside 101 Cutler Street, police said.

Pillis was transported by ambulance to Waterbury Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Police said they are awaiting autopsy results.

The car, a 2000 Jeep Cherokee, was heavily damaged and was towed to police headquarters.

Police are investigating to determine the cause of the crash.

No other vehicles were involved.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com

Small Business Saturday Bolsters Local Economy


In the wake of Black Friday madness comes Small Business Saturday, a national effort to support “mom and pop shops” and support the local economy.

Stores on Main Street in Mystic opened their doors today, and employees said the initiative is a blessing.

“It’s got to help let people know that we’re here because we can’t really advertise nationally the way larger chains can,” said Ross Mandell of Bartleby’s Coffee.

And while this year Small Business Saturday is geared toward holiday shopping, last year it was a way for towns decimated by Superstorm Sandy to make a comeback and begin the return to normalcy.

“We were closed during Hurricane Sandy for almost a month,” said Annie Philbrick of Banks Square Books in Mystic. “We came back and Small Business Saturday was the biggest day of the year for us.”

Much of the money spent during Small Business Saturday stays in the area and helps to bolster the local economy.

“For every $100 you spend, $68 stays in your community,” said Philbrick.

Store owners said it’s comforting to know that in the age of chain stores and online shopping, customers are still supporting their local shops.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

5 Suspects in Wolcott Cockfighting Bust Turn Selves In


Five people were arrested in connection with a cockfighting bust in October after turning themselves in to police in Wolcott, authorities said.

Jose Ortiz-Jimenez, 50; Carlos Talavera, 50; Juan Santos, 29 and Rey Santos, 27, all from New Britain; and Luis Balanta, 47, of Hartford, turned themselves in on Nov. 29.

Police had obtained arrest warrants for all five suspects in connection with animal cruelty complaints after 126 roosters were seized from a shed they were renting at Hillside Equestrian.

Authorities raided the farm earlier this fall after owner Paul Kalinowski asked police to investigate the part of the property he was renting to two men.

It's not clear which of the five arrested were renting that property.

All five suspects were charged with cruelty to animals and failure to obtain import permits. They were released on $500 non-surety bonds and are due in court Dec. 9.

Officer Struck, Killed by Truck


A traffic officer was struck and killed by a truck Saturday afternoon in midtown Manhattan, officials said.

The truck hit the officer at 44th Street near the corner of 5th Avenue.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the officer was working and standing in the street's parking lane when he was hit.

"It underscores how dangerous the job can be," Kelly said. "He was in the roadway doing his job and he was struck and killed."

Witnesses said the truck was just beginning to pull away from the curb when the right front side hit the officer, pulling him under the wheel, and that it looked like he was on a cellphone before he was hit.

The officer's identity has not been released. Traffic officers who said they knew the deceased said he had been working with the department for about 5 years.

No other injuries have been reported in connection with the accident, which is under investigation.

Man Gives Away Belongings


In just a few hours on Saturday, a west suburban man gave away almost everything he owned.

Brian Bagnall, 32, of Franklin Park, who authored a book on happiness, gave away everything in his home aside from a few personal items as he prepared for a move to a furnished home in Virginia.

Instead of selling his belongings, Bagnall reportedly posted on Craigslist that he was giving away his things for free.

“After seeing the many videos of people acting crazy on Black Friday, we wanted to encourage some human kindness,” the Craigslist ad read. “We thought about selling it, but that just wouldn’t be in the holiday spirit.”

But the sale didn’t come without a few rules.

Bagnall asked that no one push, shove, run, yell or do any other mean acts during the giveaway.

“This isn’t Walmart,” the ad said.

Roughly 200 people showed up Saturday morning to clean out his three-bedroom home in the 3200 block of Dora Street, and within a few hours, the place was empty.

"People were waiting all over the lawn and cars were lining up and down the street," Bagnall said. "There were 40 or 50 people on the front lawn when it first opened."

Bagnall said the sale was part of his and his girlfriend's plan to live the life he preaches.

He said the two try to do little things each day to spread happiness, like buying a coffee for the person in line behind them when they go out.

Bagnall gave away everything from couches and love seats to tools and ladders. He said people were even taking shelves off the walls.

"There were a lot of smiles today," he said. "People need happiness more than ever right now and Black Friday shows it."

Photo Credit: Brian Bagnall

Initial Black Friday Retail Numbers Are In


Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images

Paul Walker Dies in Crash


Paul Walker's publicist confirmed to NBC News that the actor best known for starring in "The Fast and the Furious" movie franchise has died after a fiery crash in Valencia Saturday afternoon.

He was 40 years old.

"It is with a truly heavy heart that we must confirm that Paul Walker passed away today in a tragic car accident while attending a charity event for his organization Reach Out Worldwide," said a post on the actor's verified Facebook page Saturday evening.

The Facebook post said Walker was the passenger in a friend's vehicle at the time of the crash, but authorities have not confirmed that detail.

Deputies responded to the wreck about 3:30 p.m. in the 28300 block of Rye Canyon Loop, according to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.

A car engulfed in flames was found and extinguished by the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Authorities found two people inside the 2005 Porsche Carrera GT after the fire was put out, officials said.

The two victims were pronounced dead at the scene. Authorities said speed was a factor in the crash,  but its cause is still under investigation.

Los Angeles coroner's said the bodies were burned beyond recognition. Walker was not identified as a victim in the crash as of 10 p.m.

“We smelled the smoke and then we didn’t pay much attention to it because of the fact that this street on Friday and Saturday nights, a lot of the guys come up here with their fast cars and drift around this corner here,” said Ruben Soto, who says he was nearby at the time of the crash.

Universal Studios released a a statement Saturday evening mourning the loss of Walker.

"All of us at Universal are heartbroken. Paul was truly one of the most beloved and respected members of our studio family for 14 years, and this loss is devastating to us," the statement said.

Fans could be seen gathered outside near the crash site around 11 p.m.


Photo Credit: Getty Images

House Explosion in Texas


Emergency crews report that a house in Grandview exploded late Saturday night. The search for possible victims and a cause of the blast continued into early Sunday morning.

Hundreds of people reported hearing large explosions in Johnson County around 11:00 p.m. on Saturday night. Law enforcement dispatchers said emergency crews searched the area near County Road 408 and FM 916. 

Via Twitter, the Johnson County Emergency Management said there are no evacuations ordered and "the structure is a complete loss." 

JCEM also said the Fire Department reported that the destroyed structure was "residential, not commercial."

At least one resident of Grandview posted on Facebook that a structure near her home exploded near FM 916.

There are more than 200 responses to a post about the explosions on the NBC DFW Facebook Fan Page. Many respondents in or around Grandview said they felt their home shake or heard large "booms."

Some suspected that it was an earthquake. NBC DFW checked the US Geological Survey's website and no earthquake was reported.

Keep checking NBCDFW.com and NBC 5 News, as soon as we learn of any new information, we will pass it along to you.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Man Robbed of Turkey


When a Bridgeport, Conn., man was robbed of his Thanksgiving dinner, police found a way to turn his day around.

The man called police Thursday morning to say he was walking to his friend’s house carrying a turkey and stuffing when he was robbed at gunpoint.

The robber took the turkey and the victim’s wallet, police said.

"At first I thought he was joking, but I could hear from his voice that he was serious," said Bridgeport police dispatcher Denny Viera, who spoke with the victim.

Officer Daniel Mendez headed to the scene and confirmed that the turkey had been stolen, according to police.

"I wanted to do something," said Viera.

She called a local Stop and Shop supermarket in an effort to replace the stolen turkey, but there were none left. Viera also figured it was getting too late in the day to start cooking a turkey, so she headed to Boston Market instead.

Police said Viera and her coworkers bought two turkey dinners for the victim and his friend. Mendez picked up the dinners and delivered them to the victim.

"When he gave them the meals, Danny said they were the happiest guys on earth," Viera said.

Police are investigating the robbery.

Photo Credit: Tim Sackton/Flickr

Bloomfield Football Captain to Face Judge on Murder Charge


The captain of the Bloomfield High School football team is due in court today after being charged with the murder of a 27-year-old man with whom he had allegedly been having a sexual relationship.

Tarence Mitchell, 18, of Bloomfield, has been charged in a killing that took place in the front yard of his home at 24 Hill Farm Road the night of Thursday, Nov. 21.

When he appeared in court last Friday, his lawyer said he is extremely confused and upset.

Police responded to Mitchell's house at 9:13 p.m. on the Thursday night after receiving reports of two men fighting and found two people suffering from stab wounds.

An ambulance transported Ronald Taylor Jr., 27, of Bloomfield, to Saint Francis Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

According to court documents, Mitchell first lied to police about the stabbing, claiming two men attacked he and Taylor.

But, then he changed his story during an interview with police and admitted to stabbing Taylor five times, according to court documents.

Mitchell told officers that he and Taylor had had a sexual relationship but that he had tried to distance himself from the man.

Then, three weeks ago, Taylor posted a photo of Mitchell on Facebook, calling him "Bloomfield gay football player," according to court records. 

Mitchell told police that Taylor took it down but threatened to post the photo again if Mitchell tried to distance himself again, court documents showed.

Mitchell went on to tell  officers that Taylor had threatened him with a sword in the past and would get jealous when he texted girls, according to court documents.

Taylor texted Mitchell on Nov 21 that he was coming over and that it "wasn't going to end well," Mitchell told investigators. 

Mitchell armed himself with a knife and stabbed Taylor after Taylor punched him in the face, he said, according to the court documents.

According to police, Taylor tried to run away, but Mitchell chased him and stabbed him again, including once in the back.

Police set bond initially at $500,000 and Mitchell is being held in police custody.

Mitchell has no arrest history, and his lawyer asked for a lower amount, but the judge set bond at $1 million. Today, he could enter a plea.

Pope Francis Was a Bouncer


The new pope is full of surprises.

Pope Francis revealed that he used to be a bouncer for a nightclub.

Francis told parishioners during a 4-hour visit to a church near Rome Sunday that he had many jobs before he became leader to the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.
Besides the bouncer gig, then Jorge Mario Bergoglio used to sweep floors and run laboratory tests, according to The Catholic News Service.
Francis said it was his time as a literature and psychology teacher at an older age that gave him the ability to draw people to the church, according to the Catholic News Service.
The Los Angeles Times notes that back in March an Italian paper named Gazzetta del Sud reported Francis' unexpected occupation, explaining that as a student he worked in a bar in Buenos Aires.


Photo Credit: Getty Images

"Extremely Aggressive" Dog Roaming Bloomfield Area


Police are warning residents of an “extremely aggressive” dog that has gotten loose in the Bloomfield area and is wandering around town.

According to Bloomfield and Simsbury police, on Saturday, Nov. 30, a large black-and-tan Rottweiler escaped from an enclosure at the Simon Foundation animal shelter on Rescue Lane in Bloomfield. Police said the dog was housed at the shelter as a “seized roaming dog” but managed to get loose.

The dog was last seen Dec. 2 in the area of 296 Tunxis Avenue in Bloomfield. Police said the dog weighs in excess of 100 pounds, has a long tail and is very aggressive toward people and other dogs.

The dog should not be approached. Anyone who sees the dog is urged to call police immediately.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Route 68 Reopens in Prospect


Route 68 in Prospect was closed at Talmadge Hill Road, but has since reopened.

Police said a tractor-trailer hit a car and then got tangled up in wires.

"Push Mode" Eyed in NYC Train Crash


The deadly derailment of a Metro-North train in New York City has revived discussion of the widely embraced "push-pull" method of switching commuter trains' directions after they've reached the end of their lines.

The practice, first implemented decades ago, allows a locomotive to pull a train toward one destination and push it on the way back, sparing the time and expense of turning the train around.

All of the nation's major commuter lines do it. Rail operators can't imagine how they'd manage without it. But whenever there is a major crash involving a train in the push mode, like Sunday's crash that killed four and injured more than 60, there are renewed questions about the safety of the method.

Among experts, though, there really is no doubt: pushing a train rather than pulling it doesn't make an accident more likely, or the result much worse.

"I don't think the outcome would have been any different," former Federal Railroad Administration engineer Gordon Davids said of the crash in the Bronx on a holiday weekend.

"The cars might have rolled in the opposite direction had the train been pulling, but the fact is I think they would have rolled and we probably would have had the same injuries," said Augustine Ubaldi, a railroad engineer and consultant for Robson Forensic.

The pushing of trains has "been done for more than 50 years without any significant problems," said Steven Ditmeyer, professor at the Railway Management program at Michigan State University.

A similar debate erupted in 2005, after a commuter train in push mode got into a collision that killed 11 people in Glendale, Calif. Afterward, officials imposed a rule that prohibited passengers from sitting in the first 11 seats of a car at the front end during push mode. Among engineers and investigators, the move was seen as unnecessary.

"It was a knee-jerk reaction," said Rick Gallant, who was the lead investigator for California's railroad regulatory agency at the time.

Gallant pointed out that Metrolink, the agency that made the rule, has since abandoned it.

"I don't think there's a commuter railroad in the country that leaves the first 11 rows," said Gallant, who is now a vice president for commuter rail operations at Transportation Certification Services in Kansas.

After the Glendale crash, the Federal Railroad Administration conducted a study that concluded trains in push mode had slightly higher rates of derailments, but the difference was so small that it didn't justify eliminating the practice.

Gallant, along with other experts, acknowledged that, in the case of a head-on collision, it is preferable to have a heavy locomotive rather than a car full of passengers bear the brunt of impact. But they emphasized that the forward-placed cab cars are built to withstand tremendous force.

"The main reason you don't have more casualties in passenger trains today is that riding in one of those cars is like riding inside a piece of pipe," Davids said.

Gallant added that the Metro-North disaster probably could have been avoided if a new technology called positive train control had been in place. The system can automatically slow a speeding train, but it is only in testing mode and won't be mandated on commuter rail lines until 2015.

Last month, the MTA approved $210 million to design a positive train control system for Metro-North.

In a press conference Monday on the Metro-North derailment, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer was asked about the push-pull issue, and said he'd talked about it with investigators who assured him pushing was just as safe as pulling.

The search for a cause, meanwhile, has turned to the train's speed, which the NTSB said was clocked at 82 mph as it went into the deadly turn, a location where the speed limit was 30 mph.

Police Warn of Coyotes in South Windsor


South Windsor residents are being urged to keep an eye on pets when they are outside because of an increase in coyote sightings in town. 

There have been no reports of attacks, police said, and there is no reason to believe the coyotes are aggressive.

How to determine whether what you’re seeing is a coyote:

They resemble a German shepherd, but are taller and thinner.

The ears are set wide and are pointed.

The muzzle is longer and more slender.

The tail is bushy and straight and usually carried low.

The colors range from cream-colored to chestnut and many have black tipped hairs along the back.

Coyotes in South Windsor tend to be pretty tall and people have mistaken them for wolves.

Coyotes can attain speeds of 25 to 30 miles per hour and can sprint up to 40 miles per hour.

The breeding season is from January to March and the gestation is about 63 days, so expect to begin seeing litters in April to mid-May.

Coyotes make yips, yelps, howls and wails, which can be heard at all hours of the day.

They are most active at night and most often heard around dusk and dawn.

Over the last several weeks, some coyotes have been seen in Nevers Road Park at 2 p.m.

In the morning, they have crossed the soccer fields at the park, gone over the sledding hill on the Collins property, across Sand Hill Road and Sullivan Avenue, and right over to the Priest property.

No coyotes have had contact with humans in South Windsor.

Some have been known to approach people walking dogs, but it is most often a territorial issue as they protect their space.

To discourage wild animals from your property, eliminate food sources, secure your trash, avoid putting food scraps on a compost pile, take away bird feeders and clean your grill.

Loud noises, such as shouting and banging pots, can deter them.

A wind chime in the back yard will work, but you must move it periodically to prevent the coyote from getting accustomed to its sound.

South Windsor Police Animal Control Officer Robin Bond said they cannot relocate all of the coyotes in South Windsor or kill them just because they exist.

“When I catch a glimpse of a coyote I consider it a privilege and I take a moment to appreciate the beauty of one of our area’s most majestic creatures,” Bond said.

If you have questions, call (860)644-2551. 

Additional Information is available on the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection website at http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?a=2723&q=325992&depNav_GID=1655


Photo Credit: Lisa Allamian

Woman Accused of Stabbing Boyfriend in Chest


A 29-year-old Canaan woman accused of stabbing her 36-year-old boyfriend in the chest was arrested in Winchester last night.

Police said the man was transported to Charlotte Hungerford Hospital, where he is in critical condition.

Officers responded to a domestic incident at 5:41p.m. and have charged Amanda Benson, 29, of Deely Road in Canaan, with assault in the first degree, breach of peace in the second degree and was detained on a $50,000 bond.

She will be arraigned in Superior Court in Bantam today.

Photo Credit: NBC Philadelphia

New Haven Development Project Approved


The New Haven Board of Aldermen have approved a development project that would turn the site of the old Coliseum into a hub for retailers, residents, community members and office workers.

The Development and Land Disposition Agreement, forged between the city of New Haven and developer Live Work Learn Play, pushes through the second phase of the Downtown Crossing project, a $400 million development including $33 million in infrastructure improvements. The project is expected to create thousands of jobs, including 4,700 construction jobs and 2,800 permanent positions once the development is complete, city officials said.

The development will get underway in 2014 and will be finished in seven to 10 years. It will comprise 75,000 square feet of retail space and aims to attract 35 permanent businesses and 20 seasonal businesses. The site will also include 700 residences and 200,000 square feet of office and community space, underground parking and a hotel.

“The Board of Alderman’s vote of approval represents the culmination of over two year’s worth of work, engaging city and state leaders and – more importantly – residents of New Haven,” said Mayor John DeStefano, in a statement. “This project will create significant tax revenues for the City together along with construction and permanent jobs and will have a long term effect of revitalizing an underutilized area within the central business district as well as helping to create the conditions necessary for future commercial development throughout the city.

The first phase of the project broke ground in June with the construction of Alexion Pharmaceuticals at 100 College Street.

Abusive Teacher Flees Country


A Montgomery County teacher accused of sexually assaulting a student with autism has fled to Hong Kong, authorities said Tuesday.

Police say 25-year-old Yee Tak Sharon Kui, a teacher at The Frost School in Wheaton, exchanged "sexually explicist messages" with a 15-year-old boy. Court documents say Kui went to the boy's home twice while his parents were away and had sex with him.

The boy's family notified Montgomery County Police, Child Protective Services and the school about the incident Nov. 11. 

"As we drove to meet CPS and drove by the school, he immediately began to rip pieces of the door panel off the inside of our car," the victim's father said. "It's challenging for him. With autism, he doesn't display his emotions, but he feels them deeper than most of us." 

An arrest warrant was obtained Nov. 12, and Kui was charged with two counts each of third degree sex offense, sex abuse of a minor and sexual solicitation of a minor.

The next morning, authorities found out Kui had taken an early morning flight from New York to Hong Kong.

Police are working to locate Kui and extradite her back to Montgomery County.

According to the school's website, The Frost School is a private, special education school serving children and teens with "behavioral disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, and related special needs."


New Haven Nightclub Hopes to Reopen


A New Haven nightclub isn't back in business as the owner would have hoped.

Six people were shot and one person was killed during last month's shooting at the Key Club. The state has delayed its reopening over security concerns.

The mayor's office says it's unlikely the place is going to open at all this week though that was the original plan. But the establishment has gotten rid of the "Key Club" name in an effort to move past the tragedy.

"I don’t think they should be opening it back up just not this soon because of all the bad vibes that may be there," said Capri Ritter, who never went to the St. John Street club but said some of her friends were there the night six people were shot in late October. "I know a lot of people have memories of being there and actually witnessing the shooting and I don’t think it’ll be good for business."

It's a business that's hoping to reopen under a new name: Primo's Gentlemen's Club. Originally the plan was to open Monday night but the city says it's working on preventing it.

"The bottom line is it’s the same establishment," said Alderman Michael Smart, who represents the neighborhood. "Six individuals got shot there. One person died and in good conscience I wouldn’t feel good and I don’t feel good about seeing that establishment open again."

Smart says the owners never contacted him or his community about safety measures.

"I understand they’re putting measures in place but that’s a sore spot and that’s something I don’t support. I don’t feel comfortable with it," he added.

"I’m hoping the city knows what they’re doing and they’ve taken the precautions they’ve needed to and the police department is also doing the same thing," said Enoc Reyes, also a New Haven resident.

The mayor has proposed that private security at clubs be licensed and though the place has hired new security personnel, the mayor's office tells us it didn't receive the proper permissions to open because the state still had concerns.

"Yeah change the name and think that whatever happened there is going to go away or the next time around will go differently," Ritter said.

NBC Connecticut reached out to the person handling new security here but we never heard back.

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