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Gun Fired During Fight at Shish Lounge in West Hartford


Three people are facing charges after an argument at the Shish Lounge in West Hartford became physical and one person fired a gun, police said.

The incident happened around 1 a.m. Dec. 8. Police said a nearby officer heard a gunshot and people arguing. The officer traced the noise to a parking lot behind the Shish Lounge at 901 Farmington Avenue, where three people were involved in a disturbance, police said.

According to police, Michal Osowiecki, 20, of New Britain; Mariusz Majewski, 23, of New Britain and Michal Szpyt, 30, of Middletown had gotten into an argument in the restaurant and been asked to leave. The altercation continued on the street and Szpyt fired a shot from a 9mm handgun, police said.

Police said one person was kicked but no one was seriously injured.

Osowiecki was charged with breach of peace and threatening. Majewski was charged with breach of peace and assault and Szpyt was charged with unlawful discharge of a firearm.

Photo Credit: West Hartford Police Department

Route 201 in North Stonington Reopens After Crash


Route 201 in North Stonington has reopened following a one-car crash, according to state police.

The road was shut down in both directions between Route 2 and Northwest Corner Road, according to the state Department of Transportation.

The cause of the crash and extent of injuries are unknown.

Check back for updates.

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Stamford Bank Robbed at Gunpoint


Police are looking for the man who robbed a Stamford bank Tuesday morning after threatening the teller and displaying a handgun, authorities said.

It happened just before 10:30 a.m. Tuesday when the robber walked into the First County Bank at 1110 Hope Street in Stamford. Police said he handed the teller a note saying he had “nothing to live for” and threatening to hurt the teller if he or she didn’t hand over the money.

The robber then displayed a handgun, took an unknown amount of cash and left through the rear of the bank, police said. He was last seen getting into a gray car that pulled out and started west on Mulberry Street.

He’s described as a white man with a neck brace and was wearing a dark-colored wig, sunglasses, a black Nike jacket with a white stripe across the front and a black winter hat, police said.

The suspect is still on the run and is considered armed and dangerous. Anyone with information is asked to contact Stamford police at 203-977-4417.

Photo Credit: Stamford Police Department

President to Observe Moment of Silence for Newtown


President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will honor the victims of the Sandy Hook School shooting by observing a moment of silence on Saturday, according to a White House official.

It's not clear yet what time the moment of silence will be held.

Gov. Dannel Malloy has asked houses of worship around Connecticut to toll their bells 26 times at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

Sandy Hook Mother Supports Meriden Crash Family


Just over a month since two children were killed in a devastating drunk driving crash, help and support for the family is pouring in from an unlikely source.

Five-year-old Tatiana Cruz and 8-year-old Lorenzo Cruz were killed when the car they were riding in was struck from behind by a man accused of driving drunk. The children’s mother, Gina Schroder, father Michael Cruz and 12-year-old brother Alejandro survived the crash.

“It's like you hear the words being said but it doesn't really register with you,” said Michele Palmieri, the children's great aunt.

Now hope and healing are coming from someone who knows what it's like to lose a child.

“One of the greatest lessons I've learned through my suffering and what brings meaning to the suffering is doing something for someone else,” said Scarlett Lewis, whose son Jesse was one of the 20 children killed inside Sandy Hook Elementary School.

When she heard about the car crash, Scarlett offered to help by holding a fundraiser in Jesse’s name. All proceeds go to the Cruz-Schroder Memorial Fund set up by Tatiana and Lorenzo’s family.

“Being in service to others heals your pain. And I was so happy to be able to do something for someone else and it's so small compared to the pain that they're feeling, but it's something and in doing something for them I’m also helping my own healing,” Scarlett said.

Michele reached out to Scarlett after Jesse’s death last year. Now Scarlett believes things have come full circle.

“I know that Jesse is with those kids. That's my personal belief, and I know he would love that it's Christmas time, it's a season of giving, and it’s so beautiful to be able to reach out and help another family,” she said.

Michele said she's touched by the gesture.

“It's like, here it is so close to the anniversary, and she's reaching out and doing something for somebody else,” she said.

The dinner will be held Wednesday night at Il Monticello in Meriden. Tickets are $35 per person, which includes dinner. Those hoping to attend can buy seats at the door or register online by emailing maureen@jesselewischooselove.org.

Scarlett will be among the speakers.

Oakland Street on Fire


Flames shot through cracks in the road near the Oakland Zoo Tuesday morning after a 4-inch natural gas pipe erupted and caught fire for hours.

The flames died down by until early afternoon as crews let the fire burn itself out. PG&E crews discovered the leak about 11:30 a.m. By 1 p.m., the evacuation order had been lifted.

About 25 Oakland firefighters and a hazmat team raced to the fire, reported about 8:30 a.m. at Golf Links Road and Fontaine Street off Interstate Highway 580 near Holy Redeemer College and the Oakland Zoo.

They were joined by PG&E and the East Bay Municipal Utilities District, who were trying to cap the flames.

At least 20 EBMUD customers were without water as lines were shut off as a precautionary measure.

Six homes were evacuated, and no injuries were reported. Other residents were told to shelter in place.

"I started thinking about San Bruno," evacuee James Gouig said. "Now, I'm freaking out. What do I got to grab out of the house? You always think, 'Grab photos,' but we don't have photos anymore, so I just grabbed the iPhone."

Gouig was referring to the Sept. 9, 2010, San Bruno pipeline explosion when a natural gas pipeline owned by Pacific Gas and Electric exploded into flames and killed eight people.

The cause of the rupture is under investigation, though PG&E crews said they didn't think the cold weather had any part in the leak.

Photo Credit: Chase Cain

New Haven Schools Stay Open in Snow


Steady snowfall made for tough driving conditions Tuesday, and New Haven parents said they were surprised school wasn't canceled in the city.

“I would have thought it would close because everybody was closed. I thought this school would be closed, too, but New Haven is open,” said George Greene, the parent of an East Rock School student.

They disagreed on whether keeping school open was the best choice. One parent thought the roads were too slick this morning, but others said they weren't concerned because their children's rides to school seemed safe.

"From the looks of things, it was the right decision because it's not that bad out," said parent Edith Greene.

Every time dicey weather moves in, the school district works with the city Department of Public Works, emergency responders and the bus company to make sure the roads are safe enough to send children to school.

Having school meant parents didn't have to find alternate arrangements for their children, and the children didn't have to worry about losing a day of school.

“It's warm enough that it's not icy, and it's great for the kids because they get to see their friends, and they get to learn,” said Connie Razza.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Razor Blades Found in Croissant


A Connecticut woman made a frightening discovery after biting into a Dunkin' Donuts croissant and feeling something sharp cut her mouth.

Priscilla Salas said she almost swallowed the razor pieces she discovered after biting into a croissant she bought last week at the Dunkin' Donuts on Boston Post Road in Windham. She didn't realize what was inside the pastry until she bit down and cut her mouth on the metal shards, some of which were up to a quarter inch long.

“I was just floored completely,” Salas said.

After calling the police and the restaurant's corporate office, Salas was told the metal in her food could have been part of a box cutter.  

“They felt It was probably a frozen croissant from distribution center and they were going to find the exact location of it,” Salas said.

Dunkin' Donuts said in a statement that Salas' experience was an isolated incident. The company said it is concerned about the safety of its customers and is working with the store in question to investigate. Salas said she stops by that Dunkin' Donuts almost every day and said she'd never had a problem before.

“I just want the public to know and be aware of what they buy and look over everything they eat,” she said.

Salas said Dunkin' Donuts apologized to her and told her the company would send a gift card. But she said she isn’t after the company’s money; she just wants the public to be aware.

Bob Diaco is Next UConn Football Head Coach


There's a new face of UConn football – Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco has been named head coach.

The 40-year-old New Jersey native has signed a five-year deal and will succeed former head coach Paul Pasqualoni.

According to CBSSports.com, Diaco's contract starts at $1.5 million per year.

In 2012, Diaco became the first Notre Dame assistant coach to receive the Broyles Award, recognizing him as the nation's top assistant coach.

He was part of a coaching staff that led the Irish to the BCS title game last season.

Prior to his time at Notre Dame, Diaco coached at the University of Cincinnati and the University of Virginia.

Diaco will be officially introduced as the new head coach at a news conference at The Burton Football Complex on Thursday afternoon, according to a news release from UConn Athletics.

Sources told NBC Connecticut that Pat Narduzzi, of Michigan State, also interviewed for the job but reportedly turned it down.

Introducing "Instagram Direct"


Photo sharing app Instagram will now join the likes of Snapchat and Whatsapp to feature a private messaging tool called Instagram Direct.

Founder Kevin Systrom on Thursday introduced Instagram Direct at a press event in New York and the company published a blog post on their site to detail the features of the new tool.

Here is how it works:

When users open Instagram, they will now see a new icon in the top right corner of the home feed. Tapping it will open the inbox where they can see photos and videos that friends have sent them privately.

To send a photo or video to specific people, there is a "Direct" option at the top of the share screen that allows users to select the friends they want to see the photo. After sending it, users can see who has viewed the photo or video and watch recipients comment in real time.

This is a change from Instagram's current function where photos posted are seen by everyone on their friends list with no option to cherry-pick the people with whom they want to share a photo. And if the user's account is public, the photos are accessible by everyone on the Internet.

“As we all got used to having these cameras in our pockets, sometimes you see something and it’s not really meant for a larger group. … Now there’s some sense of self-curation,” Systrom said on Thursday. He also stressed that the feature is still in its early stages and didn't want to make it too sophisticated until they have feedback from users.

Users can send direct messages to up to 15 people. People who mutually follow each other can easily send photos to each other, while photos from those are not following you will show up as a pending request rather than as a inbox message.

The messages are always accompanied by photos or videos and users cannot send text-only messages to each other.


Photo Credit: Instragram/Screen Shot

Dad Arrested for Pre-Crash Party


A Connecticut man has been arrested, accused of allowing teens to drink alcohol before a crash that killed a high school student in August.

Police said the 17-year-old driver was one of more than two dozen minors who had attended a party in the woods of a property owned by Paul Sibiga, 66, of North Parker Road in Marlborough.

Paige Houston, a 17-year-old Amston girl who was a cheerleader at RHAM High School, was a passenger in the back seat of the Toyota Tundra that hit a tree in the area of Martin Road early on the morning of August 6, according to state police. She was ejected from the truck and was pronounced dead at the scene.

A police investigation determined that 28 teens, including Houston, the driver and two teens who ran from the crash scene, had been at a party in the woods in Marlborough where alcohol was served.

According to  an arrest warrant obtained by The Hartford Courant, Sibiga’s told police his son had been having a party earlier. When he took officers to the wooded area, Sibigia’s son said he and 10 to 15 friends were having a party in the woods. Officers later identified 28 teens who had been there.
Witnesses told police that the parties would sometimes happen weekly and the teens had to leave their keys at the house.

One witness said the parents’ rules at the parties were that teens had to leave the keys at the house and had to stay over if they drank, according to the Courant.

State troopers arrested Sibiga today and charged him with 28 counts of reckless endangerment in the first degree and 28 counts of permitting minor to illegally possess liquor in a dwelling/private property.

He was taken into custody and held on a $200,000 court-set bond.

The 17-year-old who police said was driving when the truck crashed has also been arrested.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut and submitted

Shooting Survivors Bound By Grief


A few weeks after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Tom Mauser got a call at his home in Colorado, asking for his help.

More than 1,800 miles away, the families of 26 murdered children and educators were despairing, unsure what to expect or how to move forward. They needed someone who’d been through it, who understood.

Mauser, whose 15-year-old son, Daniel, was killed in the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School, considered it an honor to be asked. He frequently spoke in public about Daniel’s death, and had channeled his sorrow into gun-control lobbying. But he wasn’t sure how much comfort he could provide the families of Newtown. The children were so young. The grief remained raw. Mauser doubted many would want to talk.

He went anyway, remembering how people in similar situations had helped him navigate the early years of his mourning.

In Newtown, Mauser found himself among a group of people from around the country — Tucson, Virginia, Aurora — who’d lost loved ones to gun violence, telling parents of the Sandy Hook victims how he’d made it 13 years. They hardly knew each other, but were now united under a common sense of purpose: to honor the dead, and to help each other live.

“I’ve gotten to know a number of people from different shooting tragedies, and no one knows what I’m going through like they do,” Mauser said. “We instantly have the ability to connect in a way others can’t.”

Mauser is a hub in a widening network of Americans bound by a shared misfortune: all have lost loved ones to mass shootings or chronic gun violence. They come from bucolic suburbs and troubled urban neighborhoods. They are black and white, well-off and poor, young and old. Brought together by victims-rights advocacy, gun-law activism or sheer anguish, they are guiding one another’s quest for healing.

Many of them will meet at a vigil at the Washington National Cathedral Thursday night, two days before the anniversary of the Dec. 14, 2012, Newtown attack, to share their stories.

Common ground of loss

“It’s a kind of club that no one wants to be a part of,” said Neil Heslin, whose 6-year-old son, Jesse Lewis, was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary. “You don’t know them personally, but you do. You’ve got that connection.”

Heslin finds comfort in talking about Jesse, but most of the time he knows the people listening can't truly empathize. That changes when he’s at a dinner organized by an advocacy group, or speaking at a press conference, or chatting with a survivor he’s just met.

“You don’t go out intending to meet other members of the club, but you come into contact with them. It’s somewhat of a secure feeling, a comforting feeling, when you’re associating with these people. It’s not awkward at all when you’re together. You have the common ground of your loss.”

Those who form particularly strong bonds keep in touch by phone and email and Facebook, and try to join each other at memorial events and trips to Congress. They seek each other out during bouts of debilitating sadness and slipping faith, when the flashbacks return and when they cannot sleep. They want to know they are not crazy.

“You have these ideas or thoughts running around in your head, and they stay there until you actually say them out loud to somebody,” said Tom Sullivan, father of Alex Sullivan, shot to death on July 20, 2012, in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater on his 27th birthday. “That’s what I’m kind of looking to do: say those words out loud so I can move on.”

Balancing grief and hope

Sullivan, a career Aurora Post Office worker, retired immediately after his son’s death. He began attending hearings on local gun-control bills, showed up at all the Aurora memorial events, and accepted an invitation from Newtown Action Alliance to join a group of survivors lobbying lawmakers in Washington D.C. He met parents of kids who’d been shot on the streets of Chicago, in the 2007 Virginia Tech gun attack, at the 2011 mass shooting in Tucson. He has also become close with Mauser.

In some ways, those relationships helped him more than the ones he had close to home.

“There’s so much unspoken understanding between us that I don’t have to explain why a certain thing might bother me or why I might be a little agitated by something,” Sullivan said. “They just know.”

As these relationships develop, the more seasoned survivors remind the novices that they will never get over it, but it will get better. The trick, they say, is to find a way to balance grief with hope: find a cause, create a website, keep your family close, make your family bigger, meditate, get professional help.

“It’s nice giving people any kind of road map, because when you go through something so traumatic, you feel lost, like you’re never going to feel normal," said Kim Blair Woodruff, a Columbine survivor who struggled for years before finding peace through Tai Chi. She now teaches the martial art, and among her students are other survivors — including Tom Sullivan’s daughter, Megan. And she is part of a newly formed Columbine group, the Rebels Project, which aims to send members to other towns suffering from gun violence. "That is why I think different communities tend to reach out for each other.”

Linking disparate places

In the year since Newtown, there has been a long, sustained attempt to link survivors of mass shootings — which typically occur in the suburbs — with those in places where gun violence is a constant, everyday concern — mainly inner cities.

Much of this endeavor is driven by gun-control groups — such as the Newtown Action Alliance, which organized the vigil at the National Cathedral — seeking to sway members of Congress. That effort has sparked relationships among people who never thought them possible.

“You can’t help but get attached when you connect with people who are in your shoes. You become family,” said Shundra Robinson, whose son, Deno Wooldridge, was gunned down in Chicago three years ago and who joined Newtown parents in Washington last summer.

Robinson said she is grateful for Newtown for embracing mothers like her, who believe the frequent gun violence in poor, urban neighborhoods doesn’t get enough attention. “For Newtown to include us, it broke the barriers of race and class. They said, 'Although this doesn’t happen on a daily basis here, we now understand, because it hit us hard.'”

Giving, and receiving, help

Carlos Soto considers himself an embodiment of this new dynamic. He is 16, the younger brother of Victoria Soto, a teacher killed at Sandy Hook Elementary. He has thrown himself into the work of representing the Newtown victims, and in doing so has sought advice from survivors in Chicago, who prepared him for handling the approaching anniversary and holidays. He has also struck up a friendship with Colin Goddard, who was injured in the Virginia Tech attack.

Not long ago, Soto said, he got an email from a 12-year-old boy in Chicago whose brother had been shot to death on their front porch. Soto gave him some advice, and they’ve kept in touch. The boy often checks in when he’s having a bad day, and Soto does the same.

One day, Soto hopes to make a career of counseling survivors of gun violence.

“I do feel like I’m able to help people,” Soto said. “But I also need help, too, and I know those people are there for me.”

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Chris Schneider

Bob Diaco Named New UConn Coach


UConn athletics director Warde Manuel wasted little time finding the next football coach. Less than a week after the 2013 season ended, and more than two months since Paul Pasqualoni was fired, Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco was named the Huskies' head coach.

Details via the university:

Bob Diaco, who served on the Notre Dame coaching staff as the defensive coordinator for the past four years and the assistant head coach for the past two, has been named the head football coach at the

University of Connecticut – the 30th in school history.  

Diaco was the 2012 winner of the Frank Broyles Award, given to the top assistant college football coach in the country and was the first Irish assistant to receive the prestigious award. He was a semifinalist for the award in 2011.  

Diaco joined the Notre Dame staff in 2010 as defensive coordinator and inside linebacker coach, took responsibility for the entire linebacker position in 2011 and added responsibilities as associate head coach in 2012.  

His 2012 Irish defense ranked among the top 10 in the Football Bowl Subdivision in 12 different categories as the school played in the BCS National Championship Game and posted an overall record of 12-1.

Diaco has an impressive coaching resume as he served at Virginia (2006-08) as the linebackers and special teams coordinator and Cincinnati (2009) as the defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach before joining the Notre Dame staff.  

A native of Cedar Grove, N.J., and a 1995 Iowa graduate, Diaco began his coaching career in 1996-97 as a graduate assistant at his alma mater. He then served on the staffs of Western Illinois (1999-2000) as the special teams coordinator and running backs coach, Eastern Michigan (2001-2003) working with the same positions and Central Michigan (2005) as the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.  

Diaco has coached in eight post-season games, including the BCS title game with Notre Dame in 2012 and the Sugar Bowl with Cincinnati in 2010. He played in three bowl games as a student-athlete at Iowa.  

He was a two-time All-Big Ten selection at Iowa as a linebacker under Hall of Fame coach Hayden Fry and was named the team's co-MVP in 1995, starting in all 23 games over his junior and senior seasons.

Diaco has developed a national reputation as one of the top defensive coaches in the game. Notre Dame has allowed an average of 19.08 points/game over the last four seasons, which ranks as the ninth-best average over 2010-13 of any team in the FBS. His 2012 Irish defense ranked second in the FBS in scoring defense - allowing just 12.77 points per game. Notre Dame only allowed 15 offensive touchdowns - four fewer than any other FBS school. The Irish held six opponents without an offensive touchdown and nine foes to one or fewer offensive touchdowns.

Under Diaco’s coaching, linebacker Manti Te'o was the 2012 winner of Nagurski Trophy, Lott Trophy, Butkus Award, Lombardi Award, Bednarik Award, Maxwell Award and Walter Camp Player of the Year. Te’o was also the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy.  

Diaco’s 2011 defense ranked in the top 50 in scoring defense (24th, 20.7), total defense (30th, 344.7), rushing defense (47th, 138.9) and passing defense (38th, 205.8). It was only the second time since 2003 and fourth time in the last 15 seasons a Notre Dame defense ranked in the top 50 in all four categories. The Irish played in the Champs Sports Bowl following that season.  

In his first season at Notre Dame in 2010, Diaco switched defensive schemes from a blitzing 4-3 defense the Irish utilized in 2009 and installed a 3-4 no-crease defense. Diaco's defense became immediately better as the Irish allowed 5.69 fewer points per game, 40.5 fewer yards per game, averaged one half sacks more per game and forced more turnovers in 2010 than 2009. The Irish played in the Sun Bowl that season.

Diaco will be officially introduced at a press conference Thursday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman reported Wednesday that Diaco signed a five-year deal that starts at $1.5 million per year.

Driver Charged in Crash That Killed Teen


Police have arrested a 17-year-old boy who they said was under the influence and speeding when he got into the crash that killed a RHAM high school student in August.

Paige Houston, an Amston teen, was a passenger in that 2000 Toyota Tundra pickup when it hit a tree in the area of Martin Road early on the morning of August 6.
Houston, who would have been a senior at the high school this year, was thrown from the car and was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

The driver was arrested today and police said he had been traveling well above the 35-miles-per-hour speed limit, did not stop at the stop sign and lost control of the truck before crashing.

Prior to the crash, the teens had been at an underage party in Marlborough, police said. Two other passengers who had been in the truck fled and police found them back at the site of the party, police said.

The driver has been charged with manslaughter in the first degree, three counts of reckless endangerment in the first degree, interfering with an officer, false statement and operation by a person under 21 while blood alcohol content exceeds .02 percent, reckless operation of a motor vehicle, failure to obey a stop sign and two counts of license restriction violation.

The 17-year-old was held on a $150,000 court-set bond and will appear in Willimantic Juvenile Court.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut and submitted

Girl Surprises Deaf Parents


A kindergartener performing at a school Christmas concert surprised the audience by using sign language so her deaf parents could understand the lyrics.

While the other kids used rehearsed hand gestures, 5-year-old Claire Koch used American Sign Language to sing a song about Santa's white beard and twinkling eyes set to the tune of "Bingo." Claire's mom Lori Koch captured the performance in a video that was posted to YouTube on Monday.

Lori Koch told Yahoo! News that she was surprised to see Claire sign during the song. Koch said she can speak, sign and read lips, while her husband only uses sign language.

She praised her daughter's signing skills and joked that she "is a much better interpreter than Nelson's fake one," referring to the interpreter at Nelson Mandela's memorial service who was recently panned for his undecipherable hand gestures.

Check out the video above to see the cute performance. Claire is the little girl with the blonde hair and plaid dress in the center of the frame.

Photo Credit: Screen Shot from YouTube

17-Year-Old Charged With Murder in Danbury


Danbury police have charged a 17-year-old boy with murder in the stabbing death of a 19-year-old over the weekend.

Police identified the victim as Luan Pitol, 19, of Danbury, and said he died from injuries sustained during a large fight that broke out late Saturday night at Wooster and Grand streets.

Pitol and another stab victim were found after the fight, police said.

Police have not named the suspect, but said the teen was arrested just before 9 p.m. on Wednesday was charged with murder and first-degree assault.

He has been taken to Bridgeport Juvenile Detention.

Rotary Club Treasurer Stole from Special Olympics: Cops


The treasurer of the Milford Rotary Club has been arrested, accused of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Rotary Club; Milford Special Olympics Operation Mainstream, a volunteer group that sponsors the local Special Olympic; and the Milford Club.

Police said Richard Weir, 66, of Snug Harbor Road in Milford, is suspected of embezzling almost $260,000 and using the money for personal and business finances.

An audit revealed that $211,221.98 was taken from the Milford Rotary Club between 1995 and 2008 and $25,484.57 was taken between 2008 and 2013.

Police said $19,163.92 was taken from The Milford Club and $3,500 was taken from the Special Olympics Operation Mainstream fund.

The money was returned to the Special Olympics in June while the investigation was underway.

"We are saddened by the criminal act that has come to light and grateful to those who’ve recovered the funding so this group can continue to enrich the lives of its members, many who participate in our sports training and competitions," Debbie Horne. director of communications and marketing for Special Olympics Connecticut, said in a statement.

Three warrants have been issued for Weir’s arrest, charging him with first-degree larceny, second-degree larceny, third-degree larceny.

He was released on a $20,000 bond and is due to appear in Milford Superior Court on Jan. 7.

Anyone with information on the arrests is asked to call Detective Nash at 203-787-4730, e-mail rnash@ci.milford.ct.us or submit a tip online.


Woman Brought Kids to Robbery: Cops


A Florida woman was arrested after authorities say she brought her two babies to an armed robbery.

Alaina Danielle Johnson, 20, was arrested on a charge of robbery with a firearm in the Wednesday morning incident in Ocala, according to the Marion County Sheriff's Office.

According to the sheriff's office, Johnson, along with 18-year-old Matthew Allison Thomas and a 17-year-old, took cash, marijuana and a paintball gun during the robbery at a home along Northeast 13th Street.

Johnson arrived at the home with two babies in her truck, the sheriff's office said. The victims said Thomas and the 17-year-old robbed them at gunpoint, sometimes pointing the gun directly at the head of one of the victims, authorities said.

Deputies found all three suspects after one of the victims recognized Johnson, the sheriff's office said.

Johnson and Thomas were being held on $50,000 bond each and it was unknown whether they have attorneys. The 17-year-old was being held without bond at a juvenile detention center.

The robbery is still being investigated.

Photo Credit: Marion County Sheriff's Office

Vigil For Sandy Hook Victims Held in Washington


Two days before the anniversary of the Newtown massacre, grieving families from around the country filled the Washington National Cathedral on Thursday to plead that loved ones lost to gun violence won’t go forgotten, and that the country will find a way to curtail the illegal use of firearms.

One by one, many of those relatives stepped forward to tell their stories: the father of a man killed in the July 2012 attack in an Aurora, Colo. movie theater; the father of a teacher killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012; a 15-year-old boy whose older sister was gunned down on a Chicago street; the father of a man shot as he dined with his wife in San Diego; a Hartford, Conn. pastor whose son was killed in the city where he preached.

“Those who’ve gathered here today show me that my family is not standing alone,” the 15-year-old, Anthony Hardmond, said, holding his sister Ashley’s photo aloft.

He concluded, as the others did, with the promise: “I will remember.”

The audience responded: “We will remember.”

The 90-minute vigil began just before 4 p.m., when the lights of the cathedral dimmed and the sanctuary drew quiet as bells rang for 3 minutes — each representing 10,000 of the more than 30,000 people killed in gun violence last year. Along the interior walls were t-shirts emblazoned with the names of people shot to death this year in the nation's capital.

Jewish, Muslim and Christian clergy opened with benedictions urging that the Newtown attack remain a rallying point for peace.

"Almost one year has passed” since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, in which 26 children and educators died, “and so many other violent deaths since then,” said Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, his voice breaking. “Three hundred sixty-five days. And although much has not yet been done, there has been much honor and action all over America, communities coming together in acts of kindness in remembrance of those who lost their lives.”

The Rev. Mel Kawakami, senior minister of Newtown United Methodist Church, said the point of the service was not only to remember the victims and their families, but also to thank police and rescue workers who regularly rush toward danger to save others, and activists who campaign against violence.

"We gather to say, 'No more'," Kawakami said.

The vigil wasn't billed as a political event, but it nevertheless included several sharp remarks in support of stricter gun laws, and damning critiques of the gun lobby.

The Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the Washington National Cathedral, recalled the sermon he delivered a couple days after the Newtown attack.

“A year ago next Sunday, I said from this pulpit, 'The gun lobby is no match for the cross lobby.' I said that then, and I say it now. I believe that the forces of love are greater and stronger than the forces of hatred.”

Eleanor Holmes Norton, Washington D.C.'s delegate to the House of Representatives, called for a continued "persistence" in the fight for gun control in Washington.

So did the Rev. Anthony Motley, pastor of Washington D.C.'s Redemption Ministries. "The law is slack and needs to be strengthened," he said.

The service continued with testimonials from more relatives of victims: a survivor of the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech; the brother of a man incapacitated in the 1997 shooting at an Empire State Building observatory; a man who lost his mother, and whose father was wounded, in a shooting in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Each ended their stories by saying, “I will not be silent.”

The audience responded: “We will not be silent.”

Carole King sang a hymn. The World Children’s Choir performed “The Angel’s Lullaby.”

The vigil was organized by The Newtown Foundation, a charitable organization with multiple goals: honor the memory of the Newtown victims, increase awareness of the thousands of other people killed in shootings every year, and lobby lawmakers for stricter gun control measures. Every few months, the group arranges visits to Congress by delegations of families of victims.

While there was an overwhelming political motive to those trips, this one was different. The National Vigil for Victims of Gun Violence was timed to take place just before the Newtown anniversary, intended to  focus on the nation's victims while drawing attention away from Newtown itself. That small bucolic community in Connecticut has chosen not to mark the anniversary in any formal way, and asked that the rest of the country turn its gaze elsewhere.

Among those in the audience were five Oakland women who'd never been to the nation’s capital before, invited by the Newtown Foundation. They packed everything they could into the visit: meetings with a U.S. senator and staff of two Congress members to talk about gun control, volunteering at a domestic violence shelter as an “act of kindness" and connecting with people around the country just like them, who’d lost loved ones and wanted desperately to keep them from being forgotten.

“I had no idea I’d ever be here,” Davoria Williams, whose son, Clifford Snead, was murdered in October 2012, said over lunch with her friends before Thursday's vigil. “When my son was with me, you couldn’t have told me I’d be in Washington D.C. for a national candlelight vigil.”

The rims of her eyes grew moist. “But I'm here.”

Her friends — all part of a informal support group they called Their Lives Matter — listened quietly. Brenda Grisham, whose son, Christopher Jones, was shot down in 2010. Sherron and Stacy Hogg, sisters of Sedric Gadson, murdered in 2009. Antoinette Johnson, mother of Terrell Reams, shot to death in April. Murders that all remained unsolved.

Sharron Hogg said she felt empowered by her visit, and would leave with a deeper appreciation for the breadth of the gun violence problem.

"I've looked at the faces of people from all over the country who have brought pictures of their loved ones, and it made me realize this is not a Newtown epidemic or an Oakland epidemic. This is a worldwide epidemic."

Also at the vigil was Neil Heslin, whose 6-year-old son, Jesse, was killed in Sandy Hook Elementary.

“I’m here just to honor and remember Jesse and the great son he was,” Heslin said before the vigil, standing in the cathedral entrance wearing a large brass belt buckle engraved with his son’s name. “And the other victims. It’s not about a political agenda or belief. It’s about honoring and remembering.”

Everyone in the audience was handed a single burning white candle while the World Children’s Choir sang “My Beautiful Town."

The candles remained lit until the service's conclusion, when an organist began playing the hymn, "This Little Light of Mine." The audience, singing along, walked toward the exits. They passed baskets full of handmade paper hearts, taking one as they snuffed the flames and continued out into the freezing night.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Onion Goes to Press for Last Time


Get your newspaper copy of The Onion while you can.

The Chicago-based satirical publication released its last print edition Thursday as it plans to move to an all-digital format.

Mike McAvoy, president of Onion Inc., told Crain’s Chicago Business last month it's sad to see the print edition no longer exist, "but it’s important to see the Onion succeed.”

While the newspaper form of The Onion remains in circulation in Chicago, Milwaukee and Providence, R.I., it steadily withdrew from multiple markets over the past several years. It also reduced its number of newsprint pages and ran fewer ads.

Over the summer, the publication discontinued its print edition in Madison, the Onion's founding city and the site of its first newspaper in 1988.

The Onion consolidated its media operations and moved from New York last year to Chicago's River North.

"The Onion leaders attribute the relocation to the Illinois tax credit for web video, TV and film production," the team said last year, "as well as the city’s comedy scene and proximity to Hot Doug's Encased Meat Emporium and Hotdog Superstore.

The city welcomed the move, dubbing July 31 "The Onion Day."

Photo Credit: Yun Huang Yong
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