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Woman Fakes Purse Snatching to Get a Ride Home: Cops


A 20-year-old woman is facing charges after allegedly lying to police about being confronted by a purse snatcher in order to get a ride home from officers in Shelton.

According to police, Tiffany Lopez called 911 on Dec. 19 to say she had been walking in the parking lot of the post office at 83 Bridge Street in Shelton when a man approached her and tried to take her purse. Lopez told police she thought she saw the handle of a gun protruding from his pocket.

Police broadcast a description of the alleged perpetrator and his getaway vehicle to various surrounding departments and launched a search for the suspect.

But when detectives interviewed Lopez, she admitted that she had been lying about the incident and just wanted a ride home.

She was arrested and charged with falsely reporting an incident and misusing 911. She was also charged with failure to appear in connection with a separate incident.

Lopez is held on a total of $700 bond and is due in court Thursday.

Bridgeport Fire Truck Involved in Crash


A fire truck on its way to the scene of a house fire in Bridgeport collided with another car early Wednesday afternoon, according to Bridgeport police.

The truck was heading to 97 White Street, where a fire had broken out in the walls of a home, when it got into an accident at the intersection of Barnum and Central avenues, police said.

One firefighter was taken to a nearby health clinic for an evaluation and the driver of the other car declined medical treatment.

Police said the fire truck received minor damage in the crash, and that three adults and one child were displaced by the fire.

The Red Cross is assisting those residents.

Water Main Break Floods UConn Lab Building


One classroom building is flooded at the University of Connecticut in Storrs and a main road through campus is shut down after a contractor digging a hole for a utility pole struck and damaged a 10-inch water main Wednesday afternoon.

The basement of the Atwater Laboratory Building is flooded and the building is closed, but the extent of the damage is unclear, a university spokesperson said.

North Eagleville Road and Atwater building are closed for at least the rest of the day. Other campus building could be experiencing low water pressure, according to the university.

Crews isolated the break as of 4:15 p.m. Wednesday and will work through the night making repairs.

North Eagleville Road will remain closed overnight.

Gampel Pavilion has not been affected and tonight’s UConn men’s basketball game against Harvard will be held as scheduled, although detours will be in place.

No classes have been changed or canceled due to the break.

Officials said Wednesday afternoon the repair process was made difficult by cold weather and icy conditions.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Waterbury Navy Sailor Drowns in Guam


A 19-year-old Sailor from Waterbury drowned while spear fishing in Guam, according to a news release from the U.S. Air Force.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Rjay Domondon was assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 and has been identified as the service member who drowned while spear fishing near Agat on Jan. 5, according to a news release posted on the Andersen Air Force Base Web site.

Domondon's body was found early Monday after an extensive search-and-rescue mission that started on Sunday.

"This young man was a dedicated, personable and highly motivated Sailor," Cmdr. Gregory Leland, the HSC-25 commanding officer, said in a statement. "Always willing to go the extra step to assist others, he earned the immediate respect of every Sailor he came in contact with. He was a courageous young man who embodied living life to its fullest and enjoyed working out, playing sports and traveling."

Domondon joined the Navy in July 2012.

Before reporting to the helicopter squadron on Guam in August 2013, he was as an aviation electronics technician.

He received awards, including the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.


Hartford Man to Spend 65 Years in Prison for 2010 Fatal Shooting


A 24-year-old Hartford man will spend 65 years in prison in connection with the 2010 shooting that killed one woman and wounded two men she was with, according to the state Division of Criminal Justice.

Luis Sanchez has been sentenced to 55 years in prison for the Oct. 7, 2010 murder of 27-year-old Jeanna Flores, a mother of two, and an additional 10 years for the shootings of two men who were out with her.

The shootings happened just before 1 a.m. that night outside a club at 451 Franklin Avenue in Hartford’s South End. Flores died of a single gunshot wound to the head. The two men were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Sanchez was arrested in Feb. 2012. He was convicted of murder and first-degree assault this past October.

Two other Hartford residents, Santos Gonzalez and Gina Colon, were also arrested in connection with the shootings. Gonzalez was convicted of hindering prosecution and Colon was convicted of hindering prosecution and tampering with a witness.

The case was investigated by the Hartford Police Major Crimes Division, the Hartford Police Shooting Task Force and the Chief State’s Attorney Cold Case Unit.

Flores had two daughters, who were 4 and 7 years old when she died.

Litchfield Turnpike in Bethany Reopened


Litchfield Turnpike was closed at Hatfield Hill Road in Bethany after a car rolled over this morning. 

A state Department of Transportation crew responded to the scene to treat the icy road.

No injuries were reported.

The street has since reopened.


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Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Lisbon Man Arrested After Police Chase in Groton


A Lisbon man is facing drug and motor vehicle charges after leading officers on a car chase in Groton, crashing and fleeing on foot, police said.

According to police, 29-year-old Christopher A. Kotyk, of Phillips Road in Lisbon, sped off when Groton Town police tried to pull him over on Route 12 near Kings Highway Wednesday afternoon.

Instead of stopping, Kotyk reportedly sped up and led officers on a chase. He lost control and crashed near the intersection of Bridge Street and Broad Street, then got out and fled on foot, police said. No one was injured in the crash.

Kotyk was arrested outside someone’s home.

He was charged with numerous motor vehicle violations, second-degree reckless endangerment, interfering with a police officer, breach of peace, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of heroin.

Police said Kotyk has outstanding arrest warrants with the Waterford Police Department and Connecticut State Police.

Court records show he has been previously convicted of assault, narcotics and reckless driving charges, among others.

He’s being held on a $50,000 bond.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Burglars Target Indian, Pakistani Families: Cops


Norwalk police are warning of burglars who seem to be specifically targeting Indian and Pakistani families, learning when these families are not home and where to find valuables in their homes.

Police said the burglars “appear to be well organized and have an understanding of the Indian and Pakistani cultures.”

They seem to know when the victims are away and target houses with no alarms or with alarms that are not activated. Police said the perpetrators take the time to find where valuables are hidden and have targeted some homes multiple times.

The burglars have been stealing mostly gold and diamond jewelry and cash, according to police.

Police advise residents to lock their homes, install security systems and use safe deposit boxes to store valuables.

Residents should avoid advertising when they will be away and should report any suspicious activity or people.

Anyone with information about the burglaries is asked to contact Norwalk Police Det. Jim Thompson at 203-854-3184 or call the tip line at 203-854-3111.

Photo Credit: NBC Philadelphia

New Haven Facing Firefighter Shortage


The New Haven Fire Department has been short-staffed for a while now, but with nine retirements in the past week, its members are feeling an extra burden.

“Usually when you have nine or 10 retirements, you can absorb that pretty easily, but since we're at such a high level of vacancies to begin with, every position that we lose is really a greater impact than normal,” said Assistant Fire Chief Pat Egan.

Currently, there are 116 vacancies in the department, including supervisory roles like lieutenants and chiefs.

The union says 40 off the 88 supervisor positions are vacant, and firefighters have been working long shifts and overtime to make sure the fire houses around the city are staffed.

“We're at a critical stage where if we don't start filling these positions, public safety will be impaired,” said Lt. Jim Cottage, president of the fire union.

Contract negotiations are ongoing between the fire union and the city, but new Mayor Toni Harp said New Haven is already moving forward with new hires.

Harp said a test has already been held for new firefighters and the police department is currently working on background checks. Those should be finished soon, and then a recruit class with 45 new firefighters will be set to begin in March.

“We have to have regular classes and certainly, we have actually not done that," said Harp. "We need to solve some of the personnel issues a little higher up to actually bring new cadets on and have a new class, but we can do the new class now, and hopefully every year we'll have at least one new class until we build up again.”

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Calif. Poultry Plant Shuttered


The US Department of Agriculture on Wednesday suspended operations at Foster Farms' Livingston, Calif., poultry processing plant after finding an infestation of live cockroaches inside the facility.

The move comes months after a massive salmonella outbreak that spread to at least 23 states and Puerto Rico and sickened hundreds of people, including dozens in California.

"This action is initiated based on egregious insanitary conditions observed in your establishment," the USDA said in a notice of suspension sent to Foster Farms.

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The notice described USDA officials finding live cockroaches at a sink employees use to wash their hands, directly across from an inspection station. At the same time officials made the observation, "slaughter operations were in progress, and exposed product was present on the kill floor," the notice read.

The notice listed cockroaches having been found at a handwashing sink, a production tub, near a sanitizer dispenser box and on the floor.

"Because animal-based organic materials and garbage are excellent breeding media, cockroaches and other pests can transmit disease-causing pathogens, including bacteria," the USDA notice read.

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Foster Farms released a statement to NBC4 in response confirming the temporary closure.

"This morning, a cockroach was observed during plant operations at the company’s Livingston, Calif., plant and the company was notified of four similar incidents since September 2013 in FSIS correspondence today," the Foster Farms statement read. "Foster Farms closed the Livingston facility immediately for sanitization and treatment."

"No other facilities are affected. No products are affected. Product production has been transferred to the company’s other facilities," the statement read.

The poultry processor maintained in its statement that inspectors found five cockroaches in the 250,000 square-foot building since September, adding that "a single incident is not acceptable."

Last year's salmonella outbreak appeared to have begun in March, and the USDA was notified of the illnesses in July, according to the FSIS.

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture had issued a health warning for the chicken but did not issue a recall. A spokesman for Foster Farms said the infections were caused by eating undercooked or improperly handled chicken.

An agreement made in October between the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service and Foster Farms allowed the Foster Farms plants in California, two plants in Fresno and one in Livingston to remain open, as long as they enhance food safety practices.

Some of the salmonella strains are resistant to antibiotics, with a hospitalization rate that's double the normal amount, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Salmonella is a pathogen that contaminates meat during slaughter and processing, and is especially common in undercooked chicken.

Photo Credit: PR NEWSWIRE

Storm Damage Leads to Demolition of Iconic Eatery


With the pull of the excavator, the Dock & Dine Restaurant that sat at Saybrook Point for decades came crashing down.

The demolition came as a result of two major storms. Dock & Dine was damaged during Hurricane Irene, rebuilt, then destroyed again months later by Superstorm Sandy.

Locals said they were personally affected by the demolition. It's where Brenda Mahoney, of Vernon, went for her first date with her husband in 1985.

“We've been coming back to the place ever since," said Mahoney. "So this is going to be something to miss."

She took pictures as the machines tore apart the restaurant and grabbed a little piece of history for herself before it came down.

“I was bold enough to ask the owner and a young lady near the building, so they ran inside with me and grabbed a picture and two wine glasses, something from inside as a memory,” said Mahoney.

But the Dock & Dine will not be gone for good. Restaurant owner Jon Kodama hopes to rebuild in time for the summer.

“Hopefully within the next two three weeks, we'll start driving piles for the new structure,” said Kodama.

The new restaurant will be about 15 feet above sea level, which will hopefully be high enough to survive any future storms.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Pedestrian Struck by Car in New Milford


Police are investigating after a pedestrian was struck by a car in New Milford on Wednesday evening.

It happened around 5 p.m. near the Three Brothers Diner on Route 7/Danbury Road, according to police.

The road was shut down for several hours between Pickett District Road and Sunny Valley Road.

The pedestrian, who has not been identified, was taken to Danbury Hospital for treatment of unknown injuries.

Anyone with information is asked to contact New Milford police at 860-355-3133.

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Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Iraq War Veteran Loses Business to Fire


The fire that ravaged a Hartford warehouse Monday night tugged at the heartstrings and purse strings of an Iraqi war veteran who watched his business go up in smoke.

Lou Sanzaro started up Sanzaro Landscaping, LLC, a landscaping and construction company on Robeth Lane in Hartford, when he returned from the war in 2005.

“I saw a lot of stuff I built with the help of family burn before my eyes,” said Sanzaro, “stuff I’ll never be able to get back.”

He said business had been improving, but the fire destroyed several vehicles, including a brand new $80,000 truck, and a large amount of equipment. Sanzaro said although the vehicles are insured, the fire will cost him at least $750,000.

But he plans to rebuild.

“I think one day at a time is the way we’re going to approach this,” Sanzaro said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Comcast Worker Shot While Working


A 45-year-old Comcast employee was critically injured Wednesday in an apparent robbery on Chicago’s South Side, officials said.

Police said the worker was sitting in his vehicle just before 1 p.m. in an alley near 76th Street and Kingston Avenue.

Police say an armed man approached the worker, demanded money, and shot him in the stomach.

But before the shooting occurred, another man walked into the alley and saw what was happening.

"He told me to walk away," said the witness, who asked not to be identified. "I walked away and before I even got to the gate, I heard a gunshot."

The man says the Comcast worker appeared to be complying with the robber.

"I came out of the gate and he was robbing him. He was taking everything from him, going through his pockets and taking everything he had, and the Comcast guy wasn't doing anything, letting him take it," the witness said.

The victim was transported to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in critical condition.

“This is shocking news, and our thoughts and prayers go out to our employee and his loved ones,” Comcast said in a statement. “We will continue working with law enforcement as they investigate.”

Police said no one was in custody. The shooting may have been captured on surveillance cameras on buildings in the alley.

AAA Overwhelmed by Cold-Related Car Trouble


This week's cold weather has caused pipes to burst and car batteries to die, and AAA has responded to more than 1,419 calls today, most of which are weather related.

According to a spokesperson for AAA, battery problems and flat tires have been among the most prevalent issues, and the organization has been overwhelmed by calls for help.

AAA sent out a customer service notification on Wednesday asking callers to be patient.

"Due to the record-breaking sub-zero temperatures in recent days, AAA continues to receive an unprecedented number of calls for roadside assistance," the email reads. "This is an unparalleled cal volume for the Roadside Rescue Team. We would ask for your patience as our drivers deal with the record-breaking demand for service."

A spokesperson said AAA staff has been arriving early and staying late to help deal with the high volume of weather-related problems.

AAA received 1,352 calls Tuesday, 1,743 calls Monday and 1,013 calls on Sunday.

The organization suggests regularly checking tire pressure, using silicone or graphite spray to prevent frozen locks and warming up the key with your hands or a hairdryer if the lock is already frozen.

Check for signs of low battery life by listening for unusual noises when you start your car, and call for battery testing if you believe your battery is failing.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

New Britain Police Put More Officers on the Streets


The staffing crisis at the New Britain Police Department is finally over. About 17 new officers hit the streets this week and their presence is well needed. 

The city has been short dozens of officers for years and now fighting crime in New Britain just got easier, because more officers were now on the streets.

"Seeing the patrol cars makes us feel safer,” said Ken Adams.  Those new police were a welcome sight for Ken Adams.  He said the extra eyes were desperately needed in his West End neighborhood. “When you have people coming in…destroying things, throwing rocks through windows, breaking fences and things it’s disheartening,” Adams added.

Adams said he had to recently start up a block watch to stop the tire slashing’s, thefts, and attempted break in’s.

“With the police being short staffed…when we would call they would be across town they would be handling a bigger case,” he explained.

With the 17 new hires that just graduated from the academy, and the veteran officers who transferred to New Britain from other agencies across the state during the last few months, the department was almost at full staff.

“This is a big step forward in filling those vacancies,” said Police Chief James Wardwell.  That meant police could not spend more time going through neighborhoods and finding out what the problems are before they escalate. “Instead of being reactive we have the opportunity to be proactive,” Chief Wardwell added.

The hope is more police presence will make the city safer.

“It will be a great help to us having their presence here,” said Ken Adams.  It was a change he gladly welcomed.

The New Britain Police Chief said he plans to hire 6 more officers this year.

Google Offers Workers Ferry Service


Responding to protests in San Francisco by some over Google buses, the Silicon Valley Internet giant began offering an alternate way to commute to work this week — gliding on water.

On Monday, Google started offering ferry service on a trial basis to take Google employees from the port in San Francisco to Redwood City's port and back, carting up to 150 people aboard the "Triumphant" twice each workday morning and afternoon.

A Google spokeswoman told NBC Bay Area on Tuesday that the program is still in its "very early days."

"We certainly don't want to cause any inconvenience to SF residents and we're trying alternative ways to get Googlers to work," Google said in a statement.

Port of Redwood City Manager Michael J. Giaria said a private bus takes employees from the ferry to the Mountain View Googleplex about 10 miles away. On Monday, he said, there were about 40 Googlers who used the ferry.

Giara said Google has signed a contract through Feb. 7 in Redwood City, and that Google is paying a standard $95 daily docking fee and a $1.75-per-passenger fee. If the boat is full, that would be about $260 a day.

In San Francisco, the rates varied slightly. Port spokeswoman Renee Dunn Martin said the 30-day trial run rate is about $26.50 a day and Multi National Logistics USA is paying the port $4,000 to berth the ferry for a month when not in use at Pier 19. If Google wants to extend the ferry service past a month, the pork will "negotiate a higher rate."

The immediate reaction was mostly positive.

"If it gives people jobs, then yeah, it's OK," said Pearl Villanueva of San Francisco when asked about the service.

And on NBC Bay Area's Facebook page, Melissa Brzescinski wrote: "I think this is awesome!! Why don't more employers do this?? Great idea!"

Still, there were critics.

"If you have the money and the power, you can do anything you want," said Star Amerasu of San Francisco. "I think that really shows in San Francisco with Google and public transportation now they're taking over that. So, they’re doing buses and ferries and soon they’ll do planes and it’s just like everything is going to be taken over people people who have the power."

The search giant had drawn the ire of protestors who share some of Amerasu's opinions and who have been known to block Google buses shuttling Googlers from the city to Silicon Valley. Some critics blame rising rents in the Bay Area on the tech elite, who can afford to pay much more with big salaries. And they said that the high prices just happened to be right around the high-tech bus pick-up and drop-off locations.

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Adding to the resentment was the fact that the buses pick up passengers at stops designated for San Francisco's official public transportation without paying the city. However, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said on Monday that the city would start charging the tech buses for stopping at public bus stops.

The bus deal is between Google and other high-tech companies, where the latter will have to pay what equates to about a dollar per stop to use 200 specific Muni zones.That works out to be roughly $100,000 per company during the 18-month project. The estimation is to collect a total of $1.5 million to recoup the costs of the project.

The Google ferry should not be confused with the mysterious Google Barge that appeared on Treasure Island and will eventually become a retail space.

A new way to get to work for Google employees. A Google ferry is seen in this photo by NBC Bay Area reporter Kris Sanchez taken Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014.

NBC Bay Area's Joe Rosato Jr. and Kris Sanchez contributed to this report.


Photo Credit: All American Marine Inc. via YouTube

Flu Now Widespread in Conn., 2 Deaths Reported


Two Connecticut residents have died and more than 100 others have been hospitalized after contracting the flu, which is now widespread in the state and still on the rise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Conn. Dept. of Public Health.

Connecticut is one of 25 states around the country in which the flu is considered to be widespread, as shown on the CDC website.

Flu cases have been reported in all eight counties, and two people over the age of 45 have died as a result, the DPH reports. A total of 683 flu cases have been reported so far this season.

Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches and fatigue.

Adults ages 65 and older, pregnant women and young children are at particular risk, as are people with certain health conditions, including asthma, heart disease and blood disorders, among others, according to the CDC.

The CDC recommends vaccines to everyone over the age 6 months, even those whom have already contracted the flu this season.

Find out where to get the flu vaccine here.

For more information, visit the CDC or the DPH websites.

Photo Credit: CDC

Suspect in Durham Gas Station Robbery Arrested


State police have arrested an Old Saybrook man accused of robbing the Valero gas station on Main Street in Durham.

Early on the morning of December 19, two men went into the gas station.

One approached the counter, implied he had a weapon and demanded money, police said, and the other was thought to be the accomplice.

State police began investigating and made an arrest, with help from the Old Saybrook and Clinton police departments. 

Eric J. Griswold, 37, was arrested last night. A state police news release lists his address as the Super 8 on Spencer Plain Road in Old Saybrook.

Police went to the motel at 8:45 p.m. on Wednesday with an arrest warrant for Griswold and he surrendered to police.

He has been charged with robbery in the second degree, conspiracy to commit robbery in the second degree, larceny in the sixth degree and conspiracy to commit larceny in the sixth degree.

Bond was set at $150,000. Griswold is being held in police custody and is due in Superior Court in Middletown today.

According to court records, Griswold has a prior arrest record listing assault, threatening, probation violation and other charges.

Water Main Break in Danbury


There is a water main break on Park Avenue near the Barden Corporation in Danbury and the Danbury Water Department is working to get the water turned off.

Water will not be turned off to any schools, officials said. 

No additional information was available.

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