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Middletown Shopping Plaza Evacuated


The East Main Street Shopping Plaza in Middletown was evacuated on Monday after a threat.

According to police, someone called Stop & Shop in the plaza and made a threat against one of four stores in the shopping center.  Police did not specify which store the threat was made against.

Crews responded around 3:30 p.m. and evacuated the plaza at 416 East Main Street.

Police searched the plaza and did not find anything suspicious or unusual.

The plaza reopened around 5 p.m.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Stranger Fulfills Girl's Xmas Wish


A little girl's letter to Santa launched by a red balloon was found miles away by a stranger who, sensing a connection with its author, wanted to find her and make her Christmas wish come true.

Joie, 5, had written the letter, tied it to a balloon and set it free last week along with the rest of her kindergarten class in Chula Vista, just south of San Diego.

“Dear Santa, I would like to have a mermaid doll with a bow for Christmas. Thank you, Love, Joie,” the letter read.

Defense contract negotiator Terry Hardin was leaving work on Dec. 17 when he noticed a red balloon with something tied to it floating down from the sky.

He watched it travel to the ground and into the parking lot. It took three to five minutes, he said.

“I walked over, so interested and intrigued as to what it was,” he recalled.

He said when he noticed the name of the child at the end of the letter, he paused. His mother, Joie Britt, had passed away in August 2012.

“It put a chill up my spine,” Hardin said.

He and his mother weren’t on the best of terms at the time of her death. He now admits he was very angry with her.

Now, he believes that in some way the kindergartner’s letter was meant for him.

“This literally came from Heaven to make things right,” he said.

Hardin’s wife, Angel, went to work trying to track down the little girl so the couple could fulfill the wish.

She sent emails to news organizations, including NBC 7 San Diego, asking for help.

“We don't know who this girl is or how this balloon got to be over downtown, but somehow I feel like I really want this girl to get her doll,” she wrote.

San Diego-area talk show host Mike Slater enlisted the help of his listeners and soon, the author of the letter was found.

On Thursday, Hardin met Joie face to face in her classroom at St. Rose of Lima.

He handed her the gift – a "Little Mermaid" doll complete with bow. Joie was shy, but with encouragement from her classmates, she quickly unwrapped the gift.

She and her family later posed for a picture with Hardin, who said he is enjoying the enthusiasm the story has generated around the U.S. and even overseas.

He appreciates the nice comments he’s seeing posted beneath the news articles online.

Watch the video of the classroom receiving gifts below:

Photo Credit: NBC 7

Jail for Woman in False Phone Calls


A woman accused of making more than 400 non-emergency 911 calls -- sometimes calling six times per day -- during the past two years was convicted Monday of making a false emergency report and other charges.

Linette Young, 43, allegedly made the hundreds of false 911 reports since January 2011. The calls included 220 requests for paramedic assistance between January and September 2013, according to the Los Angeles City Attorney's office.

Young was convicted on 12 counts of annoying or harassing 911 calls and 13 counts of making a false emergency report. She was sentenced to three years probation, 180 days in jail and mandatory psychological counseling, according to the city attorney's office.

CHP: When to Call 911

She also was ordered to have no contact with the Los Angeles Fire Department and stop using the emergency 911 service for non-emergencies.

Young sought medical aid at a West Slauson Avenue fire station, but firefighter-paramedics who treated Young determined she had no medical issues, according to the city attorney. A restitution hearing at which the costs to the city will be determined is scheduled for February.

Images: 2013's Top Surveillance Photos

The call resulted in multiple emergency responses.

"This conviction is part of our work to ensure that the public's lifeline is not abused," said LA City Attorney Mike Feuer.

Read: Robber Asks Police to Stop Chasing Him

KPCC obtained one of the phone calls used as evidence in the case (audio posted below). The caller can be heard complaining about a medical issue and lack of response before telling the dispatcher to cancel the request for service.

Water Main Break Floods Yards in South Windsor


A water main break is caused flooding on Hillside Drive in South Windsor on Monday.

Police received a call around 2 p.m. with reports of a "significant amount of water" flooding an area near 89 Hillside Drive. Water service was restored around 6 p.m., according to a water company spokesperson.

An officer at the scene asked for Connecticut Water to expedite service because water is flooding yards and potentially flooding basements in nearby homes.

Crews from Connecticut Water are working to shut down the 8-inch water main around 2:45 p.m., according to a company spokesperson.

The disruption affected 35 customers and Hillside Drive was closed during the break.

Driver Accused of Hitting Pedestrian Charged with DUI


A Berlin woman charged with drunk driving faces more charges after the death of a pedestrian she allegedly hit with her car Saturday night.

60-year-old Debra Bailey stopped at the scene on High Road in Berlin but police say she left after firefighters arrived to tend to 36-year-old Eber Perez.  Police found Bailey at her home.

Without a blood alcohol test police can still charge someone with drunk driving based on the answers to certain questions.

"Ask them some particular questions concerning the last time they had a drink," said Sgt.  Todd Lentini of Berlin police, "if they had anything to drink since they left the accident scene, and based on those answers they would determine whether they could make an arrest for driving under the influence.

Lentini said Perez was returning to a friend's house from a nearby convenience store when he was hit from behind.  Medics at the Hospital of Central Connecticut could not save him.

Police want to hear from anyone who knows anything more about the crash, he said, as they build their case against Bailey.  She posted bail to avoid jail.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

No Extension on Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange


Connecticut residents signing up for insurance on the state health care exchange still must enroll by midnight Monday in order to receive coverage by January 1.

On Monday, the White House announced a one-day extension for those signing up through the federal website, Healthcare.gov. It gives people signing up on the national sight until midnight on Tuesday to enroll.

"This deadline applies only to the federally facilitated marketplace," said Kevin Counihan, CEO of Access Health CT. "As a state-based marketplace, Access Health CT has established its own enrollment deadlines. Today, December 23rd, remains the enrollment deadline for Connecticut residents who wish to have health care coverage effective January 1, 2014."

Those shopping for insurance packed the health insurance store in New Britain on Monday.

"I'm looking for health insurance because I'm not insured right now," said Loan Quach of Windsor.

Quach said she came into the store after spending six frustrating weeks trying to enroll on her own.

"I tried to apply everything online but I can't because there's some error," she said.

Monday was expected to be the busiest day yet for Access Health CT. At noon, traffic to the website was already double what it normally has been on other days.

"We're pleased with how things are going," said Counihan.

Counihan did acknowledge the various problems people have had with the enrollment process.

"It's not a perfect system," he said. "It's not an easy enrollment process. On average it takes 45 minutes to do."

He said that they are looking to continue to improve.

As of Monday, more than 56,000 have enrolled through the state exchange.

For those who do enroll before the midnight deadline, Counihan said it's important to note that your premium must be paid to the insurance company before January 10.

"Premiums received after January 10 will not count for January 1 enrollment," said Counihan.

He said insurers are largely caught up in sending out ID cards and premium notices.

For those who don't make the December 23rd deadline the very last day you can sign up is March 31.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Connecticut Native Helps Save Bald Eagle


What started as a hike along a Utah ski trail turned into a rescue of one of the country's most majestic creatures.

“We saw a bird just struggling to fly. Within a few seconds of us getting close, we could tell it was a bald eagle, so it was pretty shocking,” said Taylor Schulte, a Connecticut native who spoke to NBC Connecticut via Skype.

He helped to pick up the bald eagle. Schulte and his father-in-law wrapped it in a coat and took it to safety, not knowing what was wrong with the bald eagle.

“You just feel for it," Schulte said. "The bird clearly was injured or sick, something was wrong with it. You could tell it wasn't at 100 percent, so we initially thought, you know, what could be wrong with it? They had a run a story not too long ago, here locally, about the birds getting injured or getting sick."

They took the bird home and waited for wildlife experts to come to collect the eagle and give it the proper care.

“There's no doubt that that bird wouldn't have even had a chance if we weren't there. With the cold temperatures and the predators in the area. If we hadn't been there, that bird, there's no way it would be alive right now. It definitely needed help,” said Schulte.

Schulte says he was happy to give the bird the help it needed.

“To have an opportunity to save our nation's bird was incredible,” he said.

Pedestrian Dies After Being Struck by Car in East Hartford


Police and fire personnel are responding to the area of 801 Silver Lane in East Hartford, where a pedestrian was struck by a car and killed Monday evening.

The westbound side of Silver Lane is closed.

The pedestrian has been identified as a man in his 50s. Police said he was apparently shopping and was trying to cross the street when the accident happened.

Police said the driver stayed on scene and is being processed at the police department. The driver was not intoxicated and is not facing charges at this time.

An accident reconstruction crew is investigating the crash.

Check back for updates.

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Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Hartford Honors Teens Who Rescued Family From Fire


The city of Hartford recognized two teens for their heroic actions after they saved their families from a raging house fire.

“You're a blessing to our city," said Mayor Pedro Segarra. "I want to thank you."

That was the message he personal delivered to 17-year-old Antwanna Tulley and 16-year-old Christopher Brown.

“We don't often tell our people that we love you… but we love you,” Segarra added.

He honored their bravery at City Hall on Monday night. The fire ripped through their multi-family home on Edgewood Street last Wednesday. The teens woke up to the place engulfed in flames.

“It’s overwhelming… I think I’m being honored for something I was supposed to do,” explained Brown.

He was on the second floor unit and got his sister out first. Then he went back into the burning building to save his mother who is partially paralyzed.

His neighbor Lamont Coleman, who was also recognized by the city, then carried her to his place across the street.

“She had to slide down on her bottom down the stairs on the second floor I was with her I could see the smoke coming,” Brown explained.

“I was sleeping I saw a yellow light on the side of me I woke up there was fire on the bed,” said Antwanna Tulley.

Her space heater on the first floor sparked the fire. She picked up her seven younger siblings and carried them out of her window to safety, before she rescued her mother.

“I wasn't thinking I just knew I had to get my brothers and sisters out,” Tulley explained.

These families lost their homes and almost everything they own. The City of Hartford gave them all Christmas gifts including warm clothes and new toys, and hoped this would ease some burden.

“I thought this was going to be the worst Christmas but this is the best Christmas ever,” Tulley said.

This holiday season these teens were just thankful to be alive and focused on moving forward.

“I always think something better is going to come,” Brown added.

Brown said his family was still living in a motel. Tulley said she and her family were staying with loved ones.

The city of Hartford declared Dec. 23 “Heroes of Edgewood Street Day,” in honor of the teens, and their neighbor who helped out during the fire.

Stabbing Inside TJ Maxx in Hamden


Police have charged a man with stabbing an employee inside the TJ Maxx in Hamden.

Officers responded to the TJ Maxx at 2335 Dixwell Avenue around 1:15 on Monday.

According to police, Carlos Burgos, 22, of Hamden, got into an argument with the employee in the store's restroom. Burgos and the victim, 20-year-old Ivan Fernandez are acquaintances, police said.

The argument turned physical, and Burgos pulled out a knife and stabbed Fernandez in the leg, according to police.

Officers arrested Burgos at the store. He was charged with second-degree assault and breach of peace.

Burgos was held on $40,000 bond. He is scheduled to appear in Meriden Superior Court on Jan. 8.

Fernandez was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital to be treated for a non-life threatening wound.

Photo Credit: Hamden Police

Somers Church Destroyed by Fire Reopening on Christmas Eve


A Somers church destroyed by fire nearly two years ago, is reopening just in time for Christmas Eve services.

The Congregational Church on Main Street burned to the ground on January 1, 2012.

Parishioners have been going to services at a temporary location ever since the fire. At 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday night, they will hold their first service since it burned to the ground.

“It’s going to be an emotional day, an emotional night for all of us,” church moderator Anne Kirkpatrick said.

Kirkpatrick still remembers the fire. She pulled up just as the first fire engine did.

“It was difficult watching the steeple collapse into the church,” she said.

While the cause of the blaze is still under investigation, the community has rallied behind the church, raising more than $1 million in donations.

Insurance covered most of the damage, but in order to bring the building up to code, they had to move the church a few feet back from the road, and that changed the footprint. Insurance does not cover any changes or upgrades.

Once it is done, parishioners say it will look just like it did before it burned, complete with the same number of windows.

“I think they’ll be a lot of tears because we are finally home, which reminds me I should probably put out a box of tissues,” Senior Deacon JoAnn Hornyak said.

The Christmas Eve services will be held downstairs in the Foundation Room of the Congregational Church because the sanctuary is still under construction. They hope to have it completely rebuilt in April, just in time for Easter services.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Judge Declares Teen Brain Dead


A judge ruled Tuesday that a 13-year-old Oakland girl who has been on life support since suffering bleeding and a heart attack following a tonsillectomy "meets all the criteria of brain death."

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo made the ruling Tuesday after he heard testimony from a court-appointed neurologist who examined the eighth grader as part of an ongoing bid by her family to keep her on life support. This was the third doctor to reach that conclusion since Jahi McMath was first declared brain dead nearly two weeks ago.

Although the judge ruled he could not force the hospital to continue the teen's care, an existing restraining order keeps Jahi on life support until 5 p.m. Monday, giving the family time to appeal his decision.

The judge said he doubts that he will be the final word on the matter and has expressed his condolences to the family. He also said he respects the family's religious beliefs and hopes that those beliefs will help them through this difficult time.

The decision came the same day Stanford School of Medicine Chief of Pediatric Neurology  Dr. Paul Graham Fisher, who was appointed by a judge to be an independent reviewer into the case of the eighth grader, presented his findings before the court. Children's Hospital of Oakland, where Jahi received the tonsillectomy, has argued in court papers that the teen "should be taken off life support" if Fisher returned with a determination that she is brain dead.

"Because Ms. McMath is dead, practically and legally, there is no course of medical treatment to continue or discontinue," the hospital's paper stated. "To be blunt, Children's is merely preserving Ms. McMath's body from the natural post mortem course of events. There is no legal, ethical or moral requirement that it continue to do so or that the family consent in the decision to stop doing so."

McMath's mother, Latasha "Nailah" Winkfield, had secured a court-ordered stay, which means Jahi was to remain on a ventilator until at least Dec. 30. The judge did not immediately rule on what will happen after that at the time.

Much of Tuesday's court hearing was closed to the public, as some of the testimony involved the medical history of a child.

Jahi's family wants an additional evaluation by Paul Byrne, a pediatric professor at the University of Toledo. They say they are devout Christians and their faith leads them to believe that because the girl’s heart is beating, she is alive -- even if she is on a ventilator. They say they are still waiting for a miracle.

Jahi underwent three surgeries at once on Dec. 9: An adenotonsillectomy; a uvulopalatopharyngloplasty, or UPPP, which is tissue removal in the throat; and submucous resection of bilateral inferior turbinates, which is nasal obstruction. The family has previously said the surgery was to help fix Jahi's sleep apnea. About 30 minutes after the surgery, Jahi started coughing up blood and suffered a heart attack. She was declared brain dead for the first time on Dec. 12.

Byrne, the past president of the Catholic Medical Association, presented testimony on "life issues" to nine state legislatures and opposed Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the late medical pathologist who became a leading figure in the assisted suicide movement, on the television program "Cross Fire," according to the website, RenewAmerica.com.

In a phone interview, Byrne told NBC Bay Area on Monday that he was not comfortable speaking about the matter because he hasn't been formally contacted by Jahi's family or their attorney.

Children's Hospital argued in court papers filed on Tuesday that Byrne should not be used as a second independent expert because it's "unnecessary and Dr. Byrne, who is neither a neurologist nor a California physician, is not qualified and has already taken a position on this matter."

NBC Bay Area's Kris Sanchez and Vince Cestone contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

Police Investigate Norwalk Shooting


Police are investigating after a 24-year-old man was shot multiple times outside the a housing complex in Norwalk on Christmas Eve.

Police said the victim was sitting in his car outside the Carleton Court housing project on Grove Street in South Norwalk when someone walked up to the passenger's side window and shot him around 4 p.m.

The shooting does not appear to be random, police said.

The victim is in stable condition at Norwalk Hospital, where he is being treated for multiple gunshot wounds to the neck and abdomen, according to police.

Police are searching for a suspect.

He's described as a short black male wearing gray sweatpants and black jacket. Police said he has either dreadlocks or braids and fled through a yard on Novak Street and onto South Main Street.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Norwalk police at 203-866-4414.

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Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Slippery Conditions in Western Connecticut


Police are warning drivers of slippery conditions in Western Connecticut after multiple accidents and spin-outs were reported on I-84 and I-95, according to police.

A snow squall blew through starting around 7 p.m. and coated the streets with snow in the area of Danbury and Fairfield County.

State police said I-84 is particularly slippery from exit 8 to the New York border, and some on-ramps are closed.

Police said authorities are responding to a multi-car accident on the eastbound side near exit 2. There has been no word on injuries.

Police are also responding to accidents and spin-outs up and down I-95 in Fairfield County.

Department of Transportation a couple dozen crews are out treating the roads and will remain out until the snow passes, according to a department spokesperson.

Send your snow photos to shareit@nbcconnecticut.com.

Track storms here.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Tri-State Bank Robbery Suspect Arrested


Authorities have arrested the man who they say is responsible for a series of bank robberies sweeping the eastern seaboard, some of which shut down the Fairfield and Greenwich Metro-North stations on separate occasions.

Luis Alomar, 37, was arrested in Medford, N.Y. by FBI and police from several departments, including Westchester, Suffolk, Yonkers and Greenwich, according to police.

Metro-North service was stopped in Greenwich after a Chase Bank was robbed in late August.

Less than a month later, the Fairfield train station was shut down after two local banks were robbed within 10 minutes of one another.

Fairfield police said they believe Alomar is responsible for the robberies in Greenwich and Fairfield. Police also believe Alomar is connected to robberies in New Jersey, New York and Florida.

It's not clear if he's been formally charged.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Gov. Malloy Running in Scrooge's Scramble


Gov. Malloy  will run in the 23rd annual Scrooge's Scramble in Rockville this morning. 

The 5k run/walk benefits the Cornerstone Foundation. In lieu of race registration fees, people are asked to make donations to the foundation.

The Cornerstone Foundation is a community-led,  not-for-profit provider of social services that serves to make downtown Rockville, Vernon a better place to live.

The foundation serves over 40,000 meals a year in their soup kitchen, gives away 35,000 items of clothing, provides nearly 5,500 beds for lodging and sees over 3,000 visits to the community center.

Registration for the race beings at 9:30. The race starts at 10:30 at the Cornerstone Community Center, 3 Prospect St., Rockville.

Manchester Resident Holds Christmas Dinner for Homeless


With white tablecloths, silverware, and a dinner menu, the tables are set inside the Manchester Country Club for Christmas, but it's not for the members, it's for the homeless.

"I had a lady that actually helped us when we first came to the United States, so she's the one who actually inspired me to do all this," said R.J. Gomes.

A high school senior in 2001, Gomes was supposed to collect cans for a school project. Instead, he decided to do a little more by creating "Make a Christmas."

"Since then I just kept doing it every single year, and it just grew and grew and grew," said Gomes.

More than 400 people in need from seven shelters from Manchester to Hartford to New Britain will sit down for a warm Christmas meal on Wednesday.

Tucked away in another room are toys stacked high, waiting for Santa to arrive and hand them out to the kids.

"Makes you feel great, especially when the kids are sitting on Santa's lap and picking out the presents they want and smiling," said Gomes.

Last year there was no Santa and no smiles for "Make a Christmas."

"So many people backed out because the economy was so bad. I actually had to cancel it last year," said Gomes.

This year so many have offered to help that the organization has had to turn volunteers away.

Manchester Mayor Leo Diana and his brother Vincent began helping a few years ago and believe the event highlights the best of Manchester.

"I'm glad there's people like R.J. out there and other community and civic leaders that are willing to donate their time, money, and support to good causes like this," said Mayor Diana.

"It's the time of year when you're really conscious of others and other's needs, but this really should be a 365 day event," said Vincent Diana.

Gomes says his goal is to expand his program well outside Connecticut and to help out more than just during the holidays.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Starbucks Customers Pay it Forward for Christmas


Hundreds at a Starbucks in Newington saw this Christmas Eve as an opportunity to pay it forward.

That meant customers got a big surprise when it was time to pay the bill.

Customers showed up at the Starbucks on Berlin Turnpike to find the person ahead of them had already bought their coffees.

“It was a nice surprise we were just going to get some drinks and go home,” said Kaitlyn Willametz.

It was a generous gesture she didn’t expect from a complete stranger. Willametz returned the favor for the next person in line.

"It means a lot people are still looking out for other people and being caring and bringing out the holiday spirit,” she explained.

Willametz was in good company. The "pay it forward" trend started at 8 a.m. when someone unexpectedly paid for the next person in line and continued for 12 hours, until the store closed for the night.

“It feels so good," said customer Cathy Shemeth. "It’s awesome. That's what Christmas is all about."

The store’s list showed 303 people paid it forward before the store closed at 8. Neither workers nor customers said they'd ever seen anything like it.

“It’s pretty great. You think you’re going coffee and you end up doing a little bit more makes you feel good,” said Jennie Gillespy.

It's something workers said they would likely continue when Christmas came around next year.

Workers at the Newington Starbucks said $15 was left over when the store closed from people paying it forward, so on Christmas, the first few drinks will be free.

They expect the trend to continue for the entire Christmas Day.


Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Grinch Caught Stealing Present


A West Islip resident's security camera showed the woman stealing a gift that had just been delivered. Marc Santia reports.

Gov. Malloy's Nephew Accused of Trespassing at Jewish Academy


The nephew of Gov. Dannel Malloy has been arrested on charges of trespassing at a Jewish academy in Stamford.

According to the Stamford Advocate, Kerry Malloy and his girlfriend Courtney Wilson of Stamford were each charged with criminal trespassing, breach of peace and conspiracy after they returned to the Yeshiva Bais Binyomin Monday after they were escorted off by police.

The Advocate reports that an employee at the academy called police to report that an intoxicated Malloy and Wilson were In the yeshive and refused to leave.

When police arrived, they were in a classroom filled with students who were clearly in fear of them.

When they were asked to leave, the Advocate reports that Malloy began talking about his constitutional right to observe and inquire about the Jewish religion. Police smelled alcohol on Malloy's breath.

Officers escorted them off the property and told them not to return. About 25 minutes later, the pair was arrested after police found them on the property.

The Stamford Advocate goes on to report that Malloy became argumentative and uncooperative while in custody. He would not allow his photo to be taken or police to take his fingerprints.

Malloy and Wilson were both released on $500 bond and are due in court on Jan 6. 

Malloy is an inspiring actor and currently has a role in the new Leonardo DiCaprio film "The Wolf of Wall Street." 


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