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Rail Lines Affected by Snowstorm


There were scattered delays at Union Station in New Haven on Friday morning, and many of the regional trains are affected by the snow in Boston and New York City. 

Lisa Bellamy-Fluker was there to send her daughter, Kayla, back to college and warmer weather in Georgia and they faces a delay.

“We saw that she's going to be almost an hour late,” Bellamy-Fluker said.

The snow ruined the Rauch family’s travel plans back to Switzerland.

“We had to rebook, change flights and flew through Atlanta to Hartford, got stuck there overnight at the main station.  Now we're here waiting for our connection train to Boston, 10 minutes late so far,” Waldemar Rauch said.

People traveling to New York also had to change plans on Friday morning, because some major highways in the New York State were shut down. 

Metro North reduced trains running into New York City by 60 percent by operating on a Saturday schedule because of the snow.  http://new.mta.info/status/MetroNorth/Hudson/23146038 However, there weren't many travelers using the railroad, so trains weren't as crowded as they normally would be on weekday morning. 

Passengers who did ride the train stayed inside as long as possible.

“It's a little cold outside, but I'm going to make my train. That's the most important thing,” said Wayne Brown, who was traveling from New Haven to New York City.
Once on the train, passengers said the ride was pretty smooth.
“It was really smooth. That was the nicest part about it,” said Alex Johnson, who was traveling from Chattanooga, Tennessee.
“It was actually quite smooth,” said Faith Goddard, who was traveling through Connecticut with her family.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Keeping You and Your Home Safe in Frigid Temperatures


The snow has stopped falling, but the frigid temperatures will affect Connecticut in the coming days and there are some steps you can take to stay safe.

 “While the cold forecast for us will be short in duration this time, it is the first arctic blast of the season and it will be extremely cold,” American Red Cross spokesperson Paul Shipman said. “It’s good to reacquaint yourself with some cold weather tips to get you through the season safely.”

Warming Centers:

Several towns have opened warming centers, or you can call 211.

Dress Warmly:

  • Avoid unnecessary exposure to the cold. Be aware of both the temperature and the wind chill when planning outdoor activities. When you prepare to go outside in severe cold weather, please remember the following:
  • Most of your body heat is lost through your head so wear a hat, preferably one that covers your ears.
  • Dressing in layers helps you retain heat. You can remove layers as needed if you become too warm.
  • Mittens provide more warmth to your hands than gloves.
  • Wear waterproof, insulated boots to help avoid hypothermia or frostbite by keeping your feet warm and dry and to maintain your footing in ice and snow.
  • Get out of wet clothes immediately and warm the core body temperature with a blanket or warm fluids like hot cider or soup. Avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol if you expect you or someone you are trying to help has hypothermia or frostbite.

Recognize Symptoms

Recognize the symptoms of hypothermia, which can be a serious medical condition, and seek medical attention immediately if you have these symptoms.

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Exhaustion
  • Severe shivering.

Recognize frostbite warning signs and seek medical attention immediately if you have these symptoms:

  • Gray, white or yellow skin discoloration
  • Numbness
  • Waxy feeling skin.

Home Safely

  • Do not use candles for lighting if the power goes out. Use flashlights only.
  • Use caution with portable space heaters. About two-thirds of home heating fire deaths are caused by portable or fixed space heaters.
  • To prevent fire, place space heaters at least 3 feet away from anything combustible, including wallpaper, bedding, clothing, pets and people.
  • Never leave space heaters operating when you are not in the room or when you go to bed. Don't leave children or pets unattended near space heaters.
  • Drying wet mittens or other clothing over space heaters is a fire hazard.
  • Make sure smoke alarms are working properly and replace batteries as necessary.    
  • Have your chimney connections and flues inspected by a professional and cleaned if necessary prior to the start of every heating season.
  • Use a sturdy fireplace screen when burning fires. Burn only wood - never burn paper or pine boughs.      

Using Generators

  • If you use a portable generator during a power outage, always operate the generator outdoors-never inside, including the basement or garage.
  • Do not connect a generator directly to your home's wiring – leave that work to a professional electrician and buy a generator designed for that purpose.
  • The safest thing to do is to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.
  • Connecting a cord from the generator to a point on the permanent wiring system and back-feeding power to your home is an unsafe method to supply a building with power.
  • Don't overload your electrical outlets. Be careful of extension cords that present hazardous walkways.

Prevent Frozen Pipes

  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage or in walls adjacent to the garage.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
  • When the temperature is very low outside, let the cold water drip from faucets served by exposed pipes or pipes in exterior walls. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing because the temperature of the water running through it is above freezing.
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55ºF.

If Your Pipes Freeze

  • If you turn on your faucets and nothing comes out, leave the faucets turned on and call a plumber.
  • Do not use electrical appliances in areas of standing water.
  • Never try to thaw a pipe with a torch or other open flame. It could cause a fire.
  • You may be able to thaw a frozen pipe with warm air from a hair dryer. Start by warming the pipe as close to the faucet as possible, working toward the coldest section of pipe.
  • If your water pipes have already burst, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve in the house. Leave the water faucets turned on. Make sure everyone in your family knows where the water shutoff valve is and how to open and close it.

Your Car:

  • Winterize your vehicle and keep the gas tank full.
  • A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.

Supply Kit

  • Water—at least a 3-day supply; one gallon per person per day
  • Food—at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Medications (7-day supply) and medical items (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, etc.)
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
  • Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
  • Tools/supplies for securing your home
  • Sand, rock salt or non-clumping kitty litter to make walkways and steps less slippery
  • Warm coats, gloves or mittens, hats, boots and extra blankets and warm clothing for all household members
  • Ample alternate heating methods such as fireplaces or wood- or coal-burning stoves

Find more tips on the American Red Cross Web site.


Photo Credit: Getty Images

DOT Vehicle Involved in Fatal Torrington Crash


A state Department of Transportation vehicle was involved in a fatal two-car crash that shut down the exit 44 off-ramp from Route 8 northbound in Torrington, according to police.

State police said the driver of the other car, a Jeep, has died. That person has not been identified, but police say he was a man.

There has been no word on the condition of the DOT driver.

The crash happened just beofre noon Friday afternoon. The ramp was closed for about three hours but has since reopened.

More information will be posted once it becomes available.

Water Main Break Threatens Home in West Hartford


Crews rushed to a water main break in West Hartford to keep water from rushing into a home.

The water main broke on St. Augustine Street around 11:30 a.m. on Friday, sending water onto the street and toward a nearby house.

Firefighters and public works crews worked quickly to stop the water from flooding the house, using a plow and other materials to form a makeshift dam.

The Metropolitan District Commission sent crews to the scene to shut off the water and repair the break.

Twenty-nine houses on St. Augustine Street between Price Boulevard and Oakwood Avenue are being affected by the shutdown. It will take 4 to 6 hours to repair the pipe, an MDC spokesperson said.

The six-inch main was installed in 1949, according to the MDC.

No homes were damaged in the break, officials said.

Hernadez's Uncle Killed in Moped Crash was Drunk, High: Police


The 49-year-old Bristol man and uncle of Aaron Hernandez who died in an August moped crash had a blood alcohol content twice the legal limit and cocaine was found in his system, according to police.

Robert J. Valentine, of Stafford Avenue in Bristol, died Aug. 3 after losing control of the moped he was driving on Central Street. Police said he crashed into a curb and was thrown from the scooter.

Valentine hit his head on the pavement and died at the scene, according to police. He was not wearing a helmet.

A toxicology report found Valentine’s blood alcohol level to be .19 percent. Cocaine was also present in his system. Police said he was not an experienced moped driver and was also wearing dark sunglasses at night.

Investigators said no one else was involved in the crash.

The victim’s nephew, Aaron Hernandez, is a former tight end for the New England Patriots and is facing murder charges in Massachusetts. He’s accused of killing semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd.

Hernandez’s cousin by marriage, Thaddeus L. Singleton III, also died in an accident over the summer after driving his car into the Farmington Country Club in June.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Brutal Cold Through Tomorrow


Many students have a long weekend, since several school districts closed for Friday after a winter storm dumped an average of 5 inches of snow across the state. 

“The snowfall was about what we expected, with accumulations somewhere between 5 and 9 inches common, smaller and larger amounts in a few spots,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said during a news conference Friday afternoon.

Now the concern is the brutal cold that will linger through tomorrow.

The temperature is expected to be -10 at Bradley tomorrow and the forecast for Bridgeport is -1. 

“Our primary concern now through tomorrow remains the extreme cold, and with that, the wind chill being a major factor. We’ll have wind chills as low as 25 below, it is anticipated,” Malloy said. “By this evening, we will see temperatures on the thermometer of -15 in some parts of our state with a wind chill hitting, as I said, -25.”

Several cities and towns have opened warming centers and Malloy directed the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, the Department of Social Services and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to coordinate with 211 and Connecticut’s shelters.

Malloy said there are coordinated efforts to get people in need to warm facilities, including arranging for transportation services.

There were 127 calls for shelter information and four people were transported last night.

Shelters for the homeless were operating at about 120 percent of capacity last night and extended their hours of operation for people to remain in the shelters during daylight hours, when they would normally be closed, according to the governor.

He urged anyone in need of shelter to call 211, Malloy said.

He also urged residents to check on neighbors, particularly senior citizens. 

Malloy also addressed the situation of the roads and urged people to avoid unnecessary travel until crews can finish clearing the roads.

The state Department of Transportation put all 632 vehicles out on the road, as well as 200 contractor trucks.

“Our state highways are all in pretty good shape. Some of the byways are being caught up with. Local governments are obviously responsible for their roads.

Jeff Adams, of the state DOT, said this morning that all of the state’s highways had some snow cover on them, but that the crews would be able to scrape them down after snow moved out of the state.

The brutal cold posed a challenge for clearing the roads because it takes more salt to do the job, Adams said. DOT will be able to make more progress once the sun comes up.

The storm also affected Metro-North, which is operating on a Saturday schedule.

The governor directed all non-essential state services to open at 9:30 a.m. today, including Department of Motor Vehicles offices statewide, to give plows time to clear roads overnight.  This was about an hour later than most services normally begin.


This is the second day of snow and AAA had responded to 1,122 calls for service in the greater Hartford area and Eastern Connecticut as of 5:15 a.m. on Friday. Common issues have included dead batteries, flat tires, lockouts, vehicles off the road and a few motorists in need of fuel.

AAA said they expect more calls later today and Saturday as the storm passes and subzero temperatures move in.

The storm also affecting travel at Bradley Airport, where almost every morning flight scheduled was been canceled, with the exception of six flights.

Due to the weather, American Airlines waived the ticket reissuing charge for customers traveling to, through or from the following airports on Jan. 2 or 3 to easily change travel plans:

  • Bradley Airport
  • Kennedy Airport
  • LaGuardia
  • Newark
  • Logan Airport in Boston
  • Buffalo, NY
  • Harrisburg, PA
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Rochester, NY
  • Syracuse, NY
  • Westchester County / White Plains

Learn more here:

To change travel dates, contact reservations personnel at 1-800-433-7300.

Several towns issued parking bans and the Department of Motor Vehicles canceled all road tests for today. They also canceled all learner's permit test appointments scheduled before 10:15 a.m. Friday.

If you are scheduled for a road test, call the DMV to choose a new date.

If you are in the Hartford area, call 860-263-5700. Those outside the Hartford area can use the toll-free number, 800-842-8222. The DMV is also attempting to contact customers with road test appointments to advise them of the schedule change.

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch declared a snow emergency ahead of the storm.

As of midnight, residents had to park on the side of the street with even house numbers (0, 2, 4, 6, 8) and avoid parking on snow emergency streets. Additional parking is available at certain schools.

Farmington issued a parking ban, which was in effect through noon on Friday. Stafford also issued a parking ban.

In Waterbury, residents were advised to pay attention to posted “Snow Zones” and a parking ban took effect at 4 p.m. There will be no parking on the odd numbered side of all city streets. Vehicles parked in snow zones or the odd numbered side of streets may be towed at the owner’s expense.

Sign up to receive text or email alerts on school delays and closures.

Stay up-to-date with the forecast here.

Share your photos with us at shareit@nbcconnecticut.com. 

For Long-Serving Mayors, Change Is Part of the Job


John Land was just 29 years old when he was first elected mayor of a small Florida farming town called Apopka.

Six decades later, Apopka’s population has boomed from just over 2,000 to about 44,000, and the increasingly diverse city’s needs and wants have evolved from putting in a sewer system to installing Wi-Fi throughout the community. But Land, now 93, is still in office. And he doesn’t plan to step aside anytime soon.
"I've learned more and probably know more about running the city than anyone else," said Land, who is running for a 20th term this year.
As a new year brings new leadership to several major cities that had the same mayor for a decade or more, including Boston, New Haven, Conn., and New York City, communities like Apopka are just fine with their long-serving local leaders.
Land, who has served all but one term since his first election in 1949 -- a short break from service that occurred when "voters got sick of me" in 1967 and elected someone else, he said -- says he didn’t set out to become one of the nation's oldest and longest-serving mayors. His total time in office has hit 61 years.
“I really thought I’d serve maybe one three-year term, possibly two, and then go onto something else," Land said. "But after each term there always seemed to be something else exciting out there." 
The same is true for Leonard Scarcella, who has served 40-plus years straight as mayor of Stafford, Texas, a Houston suburb of about 18,000. The attorney and Stafford native thought he'd serve no more than six years or so when he first won the office in 1969. But a protracted and ultimately successful legal fight to create an independent school district for the city changed that plan.
"Once I'd gotten into that, then we had to set the school district up," said Scarcella, now 73. "One thing led to another, and the next thing I knew, I'd been mayor for 15 years." 
Scarcella is now believed to be the longest continuously serving mayor in the country, according to his office and extensive research by an Orlando Sentinel reporter covering Land’s tenure. He says he inherited the title in 2012, after the longtime mayor of a neighboring city just 13 miles away died  during his 63rd year in office. Land, whom voters returned to office in 1971, and Robert Blais of Lake George, N.Y., first elected in 1971, trail his 44-year streak.
“It’s very challenging, but I kept signing up and kept winning elections,” Scarcella said. “Sometimes, I didn’t have an opponent. It just carried through until now.”
Land and Scarcella’s long, ongoing tenures appear to put them in contrast to currently elected mayors in much of the country.  More than 250 cities elected or appointed a new mayor in 2013, with nearly 50 percent of 550 cities that held mayoral contests last year experiencing turnover in city hall, according to a list compiled by the United States Conference of Mayors.  
Those cities included Boston, where Mayor-elect Marty Walsh will be sworn in Monday to succeed Thomas Menino, who led the city for a record 20 years before deciding not to seek another term. New Haven, Conn., and Albany, N.Y., also both welcomed their first new mayors in 20 years, while New York City and Minneapolis said goodbye to mayors who had logged more than a decade of service.
Though a number of states passed term limits for legislators and other offices throughout the 1990s, restrictions at the city level remain relatively rare. While nine of the country's 10 largest cities, including New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and San Diego, have mayoral term limits on the books, one 2008 report by the International City/County Management Association found that just 9 percent of cities overall had imposed some sort of restriction on term length.
Neither Apopka nor Stafford currently have term limits, though both mayors have faced a number of tough elections and challengers’ calls for new faces and ideas over the years. Land has attracted four opponents in an upcoming March election, the first time he has been challenged since 2002, according to local reports. City officials are also reviewing a proposal to add term limits there, a change Land opposes.
“We just need some fresh ideas in Apopka,” candidate Gregg Phillips told the Orlando Sentinel last month. 
The incumbent mayors, however, say there's a lot a longtime mayor can offer, especially when it comes to understanding the ins and outs of the city's governance. 
A long-serving mayor can "influence very substantially the direction of the city, the philosophy of the city," Scarcella said. They can also offer a helpful and knowledgeable perspective on everything from balancing the budget to dealing with stray cats, an issue he said has been coming up at town meetings since 1974.  
“You have that type of understanding and it becomes very beneficial in terms of being able to make sure that you’re disciplined and responsible, you live within your means," Scarcella said, "but also that you‘re doing things that are going to be productive and beneficial instead of doing things because somebody just came up with a new idea." 
Mark P. Jones, chair of the department of political science at Rice University in Houston, agrees that one benefit of having a seasoned mayor is “the ability to have a long-term vision and actually implement that vision of a long period of time,” especially in smaller communities more likely to see elected officials with lengthy runs in office.

“The case for having long tenured mayors is the reality that these are positions with a steep learning curve and you run the risk of, if you are constantly changing people in and out, that the quality of policies and the quality of government is low,” he said. “By the time people actually understand the job and understand the challenges and understand how everything works, it’s time for them to leave.”

But such tenures can also create “an entrenched mayor (who) allies with financial donors who benefit from that mayor being in office,” he said.

“The downside to all of this is municipal elections by and large are low turnout affairs where the donors... tend to be people who are directly affected by the city: developers, contractors, different businesses that tend to give to incumbents because those are the people who are influencing policy at the moment," said Jones.

And “given the combination of inertia, low turnout and the incumbent’s fundraising advantage,” Jones said, removing an official once he or she is in power can be a difficult feat. 

While the leadership has largely stayed the same in Apopka and Stafford, both cities have undergone dramatic changes under the watches of their longtime mayors. Apopka, now the second-largest city in Florida's Orange County, behind Orlando, has dealt with staggering growth ever since the Disney World opened in 1971. And Stafford has become "probably the most diverse city in the United States in terms of population," Scarcella said, with its population now near evenly split between African-American, Hispanic, Asian and Caucasian residents.
Those changes have pressed both mayors to search out different ways to reach out and connect with constituents, as well as solutions to problems that didn't exist when they first took office. It's also inspired one of Land's keys to success for mayors looking to lead over the long haul: don't dwell on the past.
“If you keep your mind looking to the future," Land says, "You can keep going a little longer in the job.”

Photo Credit: AP

I-84 West Reopens in West Hartford After Car Fire


The westbound lanes of I-84 in West Hartford have reopened following a car fire Friday evening.

The incident happened between exits 41 and 40, according to the DOT.

The highway was shut down while emergency responders worked to clear the scene.

No one was injured, police said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Hundreds Towed in Hartford During Storm


Hundreds in Hartford woke up after the storm Friday to find their cars had been towed as city workers enforced the on-street parking ban.

Tow trucks have operated continuously since the storm hit Thursday, picking up more than 200 cars illegally parked on Hartford streets during the snow emergency.

“I was really upset... really upset,” said Jackie Estrella, whose car was towed from Denison Street off Farmington Avenue. “There was nothing out here stating there was any sort of ban."

Estrella, who lives in Florida, was visiting her mother and said she didn’t know she was in violation. She had to pay up to get her rental car back.

Some towing companies said it cost at least $130 to retrieve a car, including the tow and daily storage fees.

Hartford police said they gave the public plenty of warning about the parking ban that started at noon on Thursday.

"It’s like a slalom course when the cars are out there, and we have to get them out of there," said Hartford police spokesperson Lt. Brian Foley.

Once the ban took effect, police said they went through neighborhoods and reminded residents, then gave out tickets. Authorities said drivers had hours to move their cars before tow trucks were called.

He said residents were advised to park instead in nearby lots at Hartford schools, recreation centers and parks. Locations were advertised on the city of Hartford’s website.

But still, Estrella said she was unaware and plans to do things differently going forward.

“Maybe I’ll just take the bus," Estrella said. "That might be a better idea, or come during summertime."

Police said they towed fewer cars during this storm than in previous weather incidents. They also said most people did comply with the parking ban.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Crash Closes Spithead Road in Waterford, Wires Down


Spithead Road is closed at Doyle Road in Waterford after a car struck a pole, sending wires into the street, according to Waterford police.

Police said no one was injured but the road will remain closed while crews work to repair the pole.

It's not clear if anyone is without power.

Check back for updates. 

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North Haven Gun Manufacturer Creates "Duck Dynasty" Line


A North Haven gun manufacturer has struck a deal with the famous faces from reality TV’s “Duck Dynasty” and is creating a line of firearms dedicated to waterfowl hunting in the spirit of the show.

The multi-year deal was announced over the summer and the firearms, created by Mossberg & Sons, will be available this winter. The Duck Commander series includes 19 shotguns, two rifles and a pistol, as pictured on the Mossberg & Sons website.

“America’s oldest family-owned and operated firearms manufacturer,” founded in 1919, created the line in conjunction with the Duck Commander crew, comprised of reality stars Phil Robertson, his son Willie and family members Uncle Si, Jase, Jep and Alan.

“Mossberg is extremely proud to partner with Duck Commander to further promote hunting, shooting sports and family values,” said Mossberg & Sons CEO Iver Mossberg in a statement.

Duck Commander CEO Willie Robertson also expressed his excitement about the partnership.

“As an iconic, hard-working American product, made by a family-owned company, Mossberg is a perfect partnership for our team,” Robertson said in a statement.

The firearms' release is forthcoming, but it's not clear exactly when they'll hit the shelves.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Police Turn Extra Attention to City's Homeless During Bitter Cold


The bitterly cold temperatures has Hartford police officers keeping a close eye on the city's homeless.
"He mentioned that he's homeless and that he's been on the street for over four years now," said Hartford Police Officer Rob Murtha.
Tonight Murtha found that man walking alone in an alley downtown and took him someplace warm to spend the night.
"A gentleman who was a little bit intoxicated and had nowhere to go, and we provided the assistance. We got him to a shelter so at least tonight he'll be safe and warm," said Murtha.
With temperatures continuing to drop and the City of Hartford expected to reach temperatures it hasn't seen in nearly two decades, those on patrol are making sure no one spends the night outside.
Officer Murtha drove around the city and he searched under bridges looking for anyone who may be left out in the cold.
For this frigid January night, it seems many of the city's homeless have abandoned their regular spots and heeded warnings from city leaders. With sub-zero temperatures expected in Hartford, it's urgent everyone has a place to escape the bitter chill.
"Regardless of how many layers they might be wearing or how many blankets they have, any extended period of time in these conditions is going to be life-threatening," said Murtha.
Hartford police officers will continue to help bring people out of the cold and into shelters until temperatures warm up.

Police Search for Subway Restaurant Robber


West Hartford Police were asking for the public's help in finding the man who committed a robbery at a Subway restaurant at 932 Farmington Ave on Friday night.

According to police, the man implied he had a weapon, but none was not shown.

Investigators describe the suspect as a male in his 40's with gray hair, 6 feet and weighing 180 pounds. He was wearing blue jeans, a faded blue BB cap, and dark shoes, police said.

The suspect got away with an undisclosed amount of cash.

No one was injured.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the West Hartford Police Department at 860-523-5203.

Photo Credit: West Hartford Police Department

Dogs Fight Off Mountain Lion


A mountain lion caught on camera in Sun Valley and an attack on two dogs in Burbank have prompted authorities to alert surrounding Southern California communities to be on the lookout.

A Sun Valley man said he noticed the mountain lion on surveillance footage after he couldn’t find his dog Rocky on Friday morning.

“I checked the surveillance cameras after the dog was missing to see what happened with the incident,” Saro Tomasian said. “That’s where it was I sighted the mountain lion on the property.”

VIDEO: Mountain Lion Captured While Roaming SoCal Suburb

In the video, the mountain lion can be seen slowly walking onto Tomasian’s property and across his backyard.

Tomasian says Rocky hasn’t been seen since, and he believes the mountain lion killed him and took the body into nearby foothills.

“We’ve been here eight, nine years as residents,” Tomasian said. “Rocky hasn’t stepped out of the property at all.”

About two miles away, it was a scary night for Tom Lawrence as his two big dogs fought off a mountain lion just before 1 a.m. in his Burbank neighborhood.

“We could hear them fighting down here by the pool,” he said. “There's blood.”

VIDEO: After Cougar Kills Dog, Owner Calls Community Meeting

His 2-year-old dog, Stevo, was bitten on the ear and suffered a few scratches.

Lawrence tried to help his dogs -- both Rhodesian Ridgebacks -- which are bred for hunting mountain lions.

“The mountain lion was right up the hill,” he said. All he had was a flashlight, pointed it at the animal and it ran away.

The cat, weighing at least 120 pounds, ran into the wilderness after Lawrence said it stopped for water at his pool.

His home on Hemline Place backs up against the Verdugo Mountains and over the past 18 years he's seen lots of wildlife.

“Bobcats, deer, coyote,” he said. “Never a mountain lion. Mountain lions are discreet.”

Wildlife expert Martine Colette, the founder and director of the Wildlife Waystation, said mountain lions may be wandering down in search of food.

“We have had no rain and animals will come in for water,” she said.

The mountain lion sighting is not the first in Burbank and police issued a community alert.

“Our residents don't want to lose their animals,” said Burbank Police Sgt. Darin Ryburn. “We don't want our residents to get hurt.”

But if you come face to face with one, stop, make yourself as big as you can, don't make eye contact and slowly back away, officials said.

Man Buys Stolen Human Brains Online


A San Diego man really used his head to help crack a bizarre case out of Indianapolis involving the alleged theft, sale and purchase of human brain tissue stolen from the Indiana Medical History Museum.

According to the Marion County Prosecutor’s office in Indiana, San Diego resident Brian Kubasco called the museum last month to report that he had purchased six jars of brain matter on eBay and, after carefully inspecting them, realized they belonged to the medical museum and were possibly stolen.

An affidavit filed by Marion County Det. Cheryl L. Anderson says the jars of brain matter were allegedly stolen from the museum. Kubasco had purchased the goods for $600, plus a $70 shipping charge.

Not so coincidentally, investigators said the Indiana Medical History Museum had been broken into and burglarized between Sept. 7 and Oct. 16. The executive director of the museum, along with police, walked through the facility and determined that several jars of human brain and other human tissues were missing from the museum warehouse.

On Dec. 11, investigators learned about Kubasco’s phone call and email to the museum regarding his eBay purchase and began piecing together the no-brainer, albeit strange, case.

Kubasco had told the museum he bought the brains from an Indianapolis man named Austin Rector. He had a cell phone number for Rector. Detectives tracked down Rector and interviewed him on Dec. 12.

According to the affidavit, Rector allegedly admitted to selling the brain tissue to Kubasco. He told detectives that he had gotten the jars from another Indiana man, 21-year-old David Charles (pictured below). Rector then called Charles to see if he had any more jars for sale. Charles said he didn’t and said he was concerned about trying to get more.

Rector agreed to contact detectives if heard back from Charles. A short time later, Rector called detectives and told them Charles was planning on going back to the museum on Dec. 14 between 11 p.m. and midnight to steal more jars.

Detectives staked out the museum for several hours overnight, but Charles never showed. The next morning, the museum warehouse was broken into again, and 60 jars of human brain tissue were stolen.

Rector contacted investigators to confirm that he had gotten word that Charles had burglarized the museum once again and taken more brain tissue, the affidavit stated.

Working with detectives, Rector made arrangements to meet Charles at the parking lot of a Dairy Queen on Dec. 16 to supposedly buy 20 jars of the stolen brain tissue. Unbeknownst to Charles, Rector was accompanied by a detective.

Charles pulled up in a car driven by his friend, Joshua Milan, 19. During the supposed meeting of the minds, the detective spotted a red duffle bag inside the car that contained the jars of human brain tissue. Charles asked for $1,400 in exchange for the stolen goods, and the detective said he would have to go to a bank because he didn’t have enough money on him.

After the detective and Rector drove away from the parking lot, officers pulled up and busted Charles and Milan.

As officers attempted to arrest the young men, Milan allegedly reached for a handgun that was in a holster on his waist. He was taken down by officers and later admitted he was reaching for the gun, according to the affidavit.

Both Charles and Milan were arrested and taken to police headquarters for questioning. After searching the red duffle bag in the car, police found 20 jars of the stolen brain tissue, as well as a bag of marijuana and a smoking pipe in the vehicle.

According to the affidavit, Charles allegedly admitted to burglarizing the Indianapolis Medical History Museum on Dec. 15 with another friend. He also allegedly told detectives he had broken into the museum six times in 2013 and each time, he stole jars of brain tissue and sold them to Rector.

Police paid a visit to the home of Charles’ friend. There, they discovered 28 jars of human brain tissue that the friend said he had gotten from Charles. The jars were found on a shelf inside the home.

All 48 jars of human brain matter were recovered by police and later returned to the medical museum.

In the end, Charles was charged with burglary for allegedly being the brains behind the operation. He was also charged with possession of marijuana and paraphernalia.

Photo Credit: Google Maps

Ex-Mayor Killed by Train


The man who was struck and killed by an oncoming train while running after his dog near the train tracks Friday afternoon in Del Mar, Calif., has been identified as Louis "Lou" Terrell, a former mayor and city councilman.

San Diego County sheriff’s deputies say that around 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Terrell was walking his unleashed dog on the bluffs near the train tracks in the 100-block of 11th Street when a northbound Amtrak train approached the area and sounded its horn.

Investigators believe the horn spooked the dog, which darted across the tracks with Terrell running after his pet. The train hit Terrell, killing him on impact.

“He’s done this probably a million times,” said Nick Ovanessoff, a Del Mar resident. “For the train to come by like that is pretty tragic, we’re all kind of shocked. I’ve lived here for 20 years and never seen anything like this.”

Terrell was also a former political science professor and chairman at San Diego State University.

Emergency crews confirmed the Terrell’s death at the scene. Officials said it appears the man wasn't struck head-on by the train and may have been trying to get out of the way when he was fatally hit.

“It’s a horrible tragedy,” said Jeff Jonas, a Del Mar resident. “He was obviously chasing his dog, which any dog owner would obviously do and it just turned out terribly.”

Following the accident, Terrell's daughter gave a statement to NBC 7 San Diego before asking media to respect the family's privacy while they grieve.

“It’s a tragic and shocking loss," said his daughter. "He was beloved by his family and the community and former colleagues at SDSU.”

The family said the dog survived and is at the Terrell home.

No one else was injured in the collision, though officials did say the conductor of the train was extremely shaken up by the accident. This portion of the tracks in Del Mar is a popular crossing spot for surfers and walkers in the area.

The accident caused some train delays in San Diego's North County Friday, including some slowing with the COASTER train, according to the North County Transit District.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego

State Searching for Ticket Vendor for Busway


Connecticut's Department of Transportation is seeking a firm to provide a ticket vending machine system forCTfastrak, the planned bus-only corridor being built between Hartford and New Britain.

Potential vendors have until Jan. 10 to submit letters of intent to bid on the project. The deadline to submit full proposals is Jan. 31. The Department of Transportation will then select a preferred proposer and begin negotiating a contract.

The rapid bus transit system is scheduled to begin operations in early 2015. The ticket vending machines will be installed in each CTfasttrack station, allowing people to buy single-trip and single-day tickets.

The CTfastrak project includes 11 transit stations in New Britain, Newington, West Hartford and Hartford, with busses running every three-to-six minutes during peak commuting hours.

Over $1 Million Paid to Connecticut Constituents


U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney says his office helped to return more than $1.5 million last year to eastern Connecticut constituents who were owed everything from Social Security checks to overdue veterans' benefits.

The 2nd District Democrat credited his staff with helping constituents who are "fighting through bureaucracy to get what they were rightfully owed."

He said he hopes the constituents' stories, including a Mystic widow who received nearly $90,000 in military benefits, will encourage others to come forward and ask for help.

Social Security payments topped the list of recovered funds, at $849,224. Courtney's office also recouped $352,507 in military-related benefits for constituents and $147,101 from the Internal Revenue Service.

His caseworkers also helped with cases involving student loans, pensions, Federal Emergency Management Agency payments and housing.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Long Lines at Bradley Airport


The planes at Bradley Airport were de-iced and ready to go but many of the passengers to ride on them were stuck.

Long lines at ticket booths and the security check –in caused many travelers to miss their flights.

Some had planned their trips for today, others were trying to reschedule flights that were canceled due to the snow.

Some travelers say they waited over two hours to try and check in for their flight and by the time they got to the front of the line, they were told it was too late to make the trip.

Others who we retrying to re-book flights that were canceled or delayed found that there was no room on any outgoing flights.

“Out cruise was going to Jamaica, St Martin,” said Charles Eskett, of Ware, MA. “We’re going home, the vacation is over.”

Bradley Airport officials said that they only had two canceled flights this morning and they were dealing with delays that they hoped would subside by tonight.

Memorial Planned for McStay Family


A public paddle-out memorial and church service will be held Saturday in Southern California for San Diego’s slain McStay family, according to a website managed by surviving family members.

The public paddle-out memorial is set for 2 p.m. at the San Clemente Pier. Loved ones plan to release four leis into the ocean during the beach ceremony – one for each member of the family: parents Joseph and Summer McStay, and their young sons, 4-year-old Gianni McStay and 3-year-old Joseph Mateo McStay.

Orchids will also be released into the water and candles will be lit in honor of the McStays. According to loved ones organizing the event, the family “loved the beach, ocean and others,” so the San Clemente Pier is the perfect place for the memorial.

Prior to the paddle-out, friends and family will gather at the Vineyard Community Church in Laguna Niguel, Calif., for a church service in remembrance of the McStays. That ceremony begins at noon at the church located at 27632 El Lazo.

On Nov. 11 – more than three-and-a-half years after mysteriously vanishing from their Fallbrook home – the skeletal remains of the McStay family were found in and around shallow graves in the high desert outside of Victorville, Calif.

Soon after the disheartening discovery, San Bernardino County officials positively identified the remains as all four missing McStay family members: Joseph, Summer, Gianni and Joseph Jr.

The family disappeared on Feb. 4, 2010, leaving few clues behind in a case that baffled San Diego law enforcement and captured international attention.

TIMELINE: The McStay Family Mystery

Over the years, Joseph McStay, brother, Michael McStay, has managed and updated a website documenting the case and search for his relatives.

Last month, an update was posted to the website about the public memorial service and beach paddle-out at the San Clemente Pier.

The invitation asked “all surfers to paddle out at the San Clemente Pier, light candles, release leis and enjoy the beach, as Joey & Summer, Gianni & Joey Jr. did.”

The post read, in part:

“We have finally been able to bring the McStay Family Home from the Coroner’s Office and are preparing to have the public memorial service and beach paddle out at the San Clemente Pier. My family is overwhelmed by the love and support friends and strangers have shown us from around the world, including the donations made on the family’s website.”

Though the grim discovery of the McStay family was a major break for officials, the case remains under investigation. Since the family’s sudden disappearance, the mystery has been filled with twists, turns and dead ends.

Days after the McStay family vanished, a group of four people resembling the McStays was captured on grainy surveillance video crossing into Mexico at the San Ysidro border crossing on Feb. 8, 2010.

This was the same day a white Isuzu Trooper belonging to the family was found illegally parked at a nearby strip mall. At the time, detectives felt it was “a very high probability” that the footage was of the missing family.

When officials showed the video to relatives of the McStay family, some recognized the white jacket the woman in the video was wearing. However, other relatives said they weren’t sure it was the McStays due to the poor quality of the video.

Since the family’s sudden disappearance, the McStays hadn't used their bank accounts, credit cards or cell phones, investigators have repeatedly said.

In April 2013, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department announced they were transferring the case of the McStay family to the FBI.

The sheriff’s department said they had “conducted an exhaustive missing person investigation in an attempt to locate the family” and hundreds of tips had been investigated without success. At that point, the sheriff’s department said they had reached a consensus that the family went to Mexico of their free will.

Until Nov. 11, there had been no major breaks in the case. Now, the investigation has turned from finding the McStay family to figuring out what exactly happened to them.

At a press conference in November, San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said investigators had not yet determined the cause or motive behind the victims’ deaths, including if the family may have fallen prey to Mexican cartels.

“It’s too early to tell if it’s cartel-related or any other suspects,” said McMahon.

Last month at a press conference, an emotional Michael McStay vowed to figure out what happened to his beloved family.

“We’re going to find this individual, or individuals. I know the sheriff’s department, the FBI, everybody wants to bring this to justice. And, if it’s the last thing I do – I just want to know when it’s over,” he said.

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