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Music Teacher Inappropriately Touched Young Students: Police


A 68-year-old music teacher from Monroe is facing charges after reportedly touching young students inappropriately, police said.

Bruce Connery, of Greenwood Lane in Monroe, was arrested April 15 after police received reports that he had sexually assaulted two of his students in their homes, authorities said.

Police said a 10-year-old student of Connery’s told her father she did not want to continue music lessons because Connery touched her inappropriately. The parent of a 15-year-old also reported inappropriate contact during the girl’s music lessons.

The incidents happened in the students’ homes, according to police.

Connery was charged with two counts of risk of injury to a minor and fourth-degree sexual assault.

He was released on a $20,000 bond and is due in court April 23.

NBC Connecticut called a number listed for Connery on Thursday morning, seeking comment. A man who answered the phone hung up without commenting. 

Photo Credit: Monroe Police Department

VIDEO: Burglar Peers Into Crib


A burglary suspect who broke into a Houston home was caught on the video baby monitor set up to view the family's sleeping toddler.

East Haven Police Seek to Begin Using Body Cameras


East Haven police officers may soon have another piece of equipment to wear while they're on the job: body cameras.

“It's a protective measure for the officers who are out on the road. It captures an accurate representation of what really happened,” said East Haven Police Lt. David Emerman.

It also helps the East Haven Police Department comply with a federal consent decree, which was enacted in 2012 to deal with allegations of unlawful discrimination against Latinos in the town.

As part of the settlement, dash cams were installed on cruisers, and officers had cameras installed on their stun guns.

“The tasers, we had some issues with,” said Emerman.

That's why they're looking to switch over to the body cameras.

“The officers welcome the body cameras because they feel it will protect them as they're doing their job, and they're conducting themselves in a professional manner,” said Emerman.

Branford police say using body cams has helped them resolve a number of complaints. About two years ago, the department implemented body cameras for every patrol officer.

“It has reduced all of our civilian complaints that there has not been one sustainable complaint made against any of our officers,” said Branford Police Captain Geoffrey Morgan.

He said it's a tool every department should have.

“It's probably one of the best investments, and one of the best technologies that has come to policing during my tenure here,” said Morgan.

East Haven hopes to have the new body cameras in the next few months.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Jesus Drawing a Record in Chalk?


Fellowship Church in Grapevine is attempting to set the world record for the largest chalk drawing.

The church, led by Pastor Ed Young, is coloring a drawing of Jesus Christ that spans nearly 17,000 square feet, according to a statement on their website.

It took 6,700 individual pieces of chalk to create the portrait, and 125 bags of charcoal, according to a church representative.

The purpose of "Chalk Jesus" is to get people interested in and talking about the church in the days leading up to Easter.

"We believe the church should be the most creative entity on the face of the planet. Not boring, not humdrum," said Derric Bonnot with Fellowship Church. "But it should be out there thinking up new ways to tell the story of who Jesus is and who God is. And so hopefully this just catches people's attention to want to see more and want to know more."

Bonnot told NBC DFW hundreds of volunteers helped to make the portrait possible. Most were members of the mega church, which has six locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. But many of the volunteers were people who learned about the effort from social media, the radio or from the television, Bonnot said.

"Honestly, I think it speaks to people," said church member Roger Moreno about the portrait. Moreno brought his son, Luciano, 2, to help. "To show him that it's a good thing to give back and not just be so selfish."

"That actually shows that we actually still care and [we are] trying to make a difference in somebody's life," Moreno added.

The portrait will stay in place through Sunday's Easter services, at which point congregation members will then wash it away.

Despite their 12-plus hour drawing effort, if rain showers come before Sunday, Bonnot said the church understands that may make the chalk Jesus "an abstract art piece."

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

Once-Conjoined Twins Leave Hospital


The conjoined twins who were separated at Medical City Children's Hospital in Dallas have left the hospital for an inpatient rehabilitation center.

"We are thrilled beyond words that we are here today," the boys' mother Jenni Ezell said Wednesday.

The boys were born in July and were connected from the chest to the belly button. They shared a liver and intestines until doctors at Medical City Dallas Hospital separated them a month later.

Owen and Emmett Ezell left the Dallas hospital eight months after their surgery and a day after turning 9-months-old.

"This is a big day we have been waiting on a long time, we have been ready to bring these boys home for months now so this is a good thing," said the boys' father Dave Ezell.

It was an emotional departure for the hospital staff, the team of doctors and nurses who have cared for them in the neonatal intensive care unit since their birth and separation surgery in August.

"I just can't thank them enough we are so happy and grateful," said Jenni Ezell. "They are like family to us. It is hard to say goodbye until later."

While at rehab, the boys' parents will learn to manage those tubes until the boys can eat on their own.

"When we first learned they were conjoined we never imagined, that we would be here but it has come and it is time now time to keep loving them and watching them develop and grow," said Dave Ezell. "We are in charge of their care, we get to take care of the babies. So it is like the beginning of this whole new world for us, where it is going to be physically exhausting, it's going to be amazing." 

The Ezells home the boys can go home for good in a month.

The family has been chronicling the boys' progress, since their separation surgery in August 2013 on The Ezell Twins blog.

The Ezells are selling T-shirts through their blog that read, "The Works of God Displayed in Them, John 9:1-3."

The funds donated go into a trust fund set up for Emmett and Owen and their direct care.

More: The Ezell Twins blog | The Ezell Twins T-Shirts | Contribute

Photo Credit: Ezell Family/Medical City Children's Hospital

Fire Truck Crashes Into Restaurant


Monterey Park's fire chief said during a news conference on Thursday that he had never seen an accident the magnitude of Wednesday's crash that left 15 people hurt when two fire trucks plowed into a restaurant.

"Ninety-nine percent of the time ... we don't have anything like this occur," said Monterey Park Fire Chief Jim Birrell.

Lu's Dumpling House owner Vivian Lu said a man was on the sidewalk when the 40,000-pound fire engine jumped the curb, pushing him as it slammed through her restaurant near Garfield and Emerson avenues about 3:25 p.m.

When the fire truck came to a stop, a man was found pinned beneath it.

Cellphone video captured the moment when a firefighter attempted to help the man under the front bumper of the engine. The victim was believed to be hospitalized in critical condition.

"A lot blood,” Lu said. ”I see a lot blood."

Lu said the impact of the crash also pushed a built-in cashier's table across the floor, sending a waitress into a wall and making the building unstable.

Six firefighters suffered minor to moderate injuries, and eight other people had minor injuries. One person was in critical condition. A total of 15 people were hurt.

"I see a few people sitting on the street and all this blood," Lu said.

The crash happened down the street from Garfield Medical Center, where many of the victims were being taken on foot by firefighters.

The crash occurred when a fire truck and a fire engine crashed while responding to a house on fire. Both trucks were blaring sirens and running lights, one truck from Montery Park Fire Department and the other from the Alhambra Fire Department. All firefighters on board were wearing ear protecting headsets to dampen the sirens noise.

"It is ear protection from the noise of your own sirens so they do diminish the sound from outside," Alhambra Fire Department Chief Bill Walker said.

Neighbors ended up helping put out the house fire that both departments were responding to at the time of the crash.

Photo Credit: NewsChopper4

Hartford Community Invited to Take Part in Superintendent Search


The search is on for a new superintendent of schools in Hartford and Mayor Pedro Segarra is encouraging people to attend a search committee forum today.

“Expanding educational opportunities for every one of Hartford’s children is the biggest priority we have,” Mayor Segarra said in a statement. “This forum allows Hartford residents and parents to learn how each candidate plans to serve as superintendent and how they will ensure that our young people receive the high quality education they deserve.”

The former superintendent, Christina Kishimoto, has taken the superintendent job in a school system outside Phoenix, Arizona and is spending the last three months of her contract on vacation.

Jacqueline Jacoby, a retired Glastonbury superintendent, is filling in through June 30.

Segarra is asking residents, teachers and members of the business community to attend the public forums with the superintendent search committee and the superintendent candidates today at Capital Community College, at 950 Main St, Hartford. The meetings are in the 11th Floor Auditorium.

There are three sessions today.

The one for members of the Hartford community will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. RSVP to events@achievehartford.org

Bridgeport Police Undergo Active Shooter Training


Bridgeport police came up the corridor at Cesar Batalla School on Wednesday, weapons drawn, eyes darting left and right, but the boom box a janitor had left on played a totally incongruous tune:


The contrast underscored the mission police were focused on and training for: finding an active shooter in a school. It was part of a training drill for city police and school resource officers.

"If there's an active shooter in a school, the first two officers arrive on the scene and go in to eliminate the suspect, apprehend the suspect, basically to save lives," said Bridgeport Police Lt. Paul Grech.

With Bridgeport schools closed for spring vacation, police had the run of Cesar Batalla School, moving up stairs in formation, checking classrooms.

Volunteer role players, on vacation from school, added to the exercise. One girl sprawled on her back in a hallway as if she had been wounded, but these officers could not be distracted from their quarry, the active shooter.

All school resource officers go through shooter training every quarter, said Grech, adding that regular officers go through it once a year.

New Plan Allows Police to Weigh In on Liquor Permits


A new plan, just approved by the Public Safety Committee, would give New Haven's police chief the opportunity to continue to weigh in when an establishment tries to renew its liquor license with the state Department of Consumer Protection.

“The State of Connecticut can't be in every spot all the time, and they're quite far away, so as long as it's not an autonomous decision as to who can and can't open a liquor spot, I believe that an assemblage of the police, local authorities, as well as the liquor commission, should make a decision together,” said Chris Candido, the owner of Temple Grill in New Haven.

The city has had that input under a pilot program, after alleging it had little power over problem nightclubs. It wants the pilot program to become permanent.

“It's the local PDs that have the knowledge of chronic problems, recurring issues of violence and criminal activity,” said New Haven Police Officer David Hartman.

Since last fall, police have increased downtown patrols, spending $7,000 a week to keep the entertainment district safe. It comes after a handful of incidents involving different clubs, including a deadly shooting at the Key Club in October.

New Haven Mayor Toni Harp said the plan would be one more tool for the city to help keep New Haven safe.

“Hopefully it will lead to a resolution that the Board of Aldermen sends to the General Assembly, supporting our legislative agenda on our club district proposal,” said Harp.

The pilot program ends in June, so that is why it’s important for the new plan to move forward quickly.

Cities and Towns Receive $4 Million to Clean Up Blight


Nearly $4 million in state grant money will be distributed among two dozen Connecticut communities to fix up blighted properties.

Gov. Dannel Malloy announced the funding today in Norwich, one of the municipalities to receive grant money.

“This is part of $3.8 million in grants that we’re announcing today to 21 communities,” Malloy said.

It’s administered through the state’s Municipal Brownfields Assessment and Inventory Grant Program and will redevelop more than 310 acres at 48 locations, according to a release from Malloy’s office.

Other sites targeted for cleanup and renewal include a property on Bosco Drive in New Britain, the site of a proposed medical office building.

A property in Hartford’s Parkville neighborhood will be analyzed for development potential, along with almost 10 acres near Windsor and Hawthorne streets being considered for transit-oriented development.

A potential transit project is also in the works for 12 acres in downtown Middletown.

“We’re an old state and we have a great industrial past, but a portion of that indisutrial past is that we have a number of brownfields or polluted sites,” Malloy explained.

Other municipalities receiving grants include Bethany, Bridgeport, Derby, Enfield, Farmington, Meriden, New Haven, New London, Portland, Preston, Shelton, Southbury, Thompson, Vernon and Winchester.

“It’s about cleaning up the property, protecting public health and safety,” said state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Robert Klee. “It’s also about putting old lands back into new use.”

Malloy said he expects to also receive federal, local or private funding for each of the projects getting state money.

“If we clean up, we put less pressure on farms to disappear, or forests to disappear,” Malloy said. “We strengthen the property tax bases of communities like Norwich.”

Each municipality can receive up to $200,000.

Thomaston to Receive New Emergency Radio System


Work is underway at the Thomaston Police Department to install a new state-of-the-art radio communications system.

Emergency responders said the existing system, implemented in 1972, has been an issue for years, and he town’s police and fire chiefs both say it’s getting worse.

Police Chief James Campbell said the tones that notify volunteer firefighters and EMTs about emergency calls aren’t reliable, so they’re using alternatives in a pinch.

“Nobody’s in real harm’s way because, although it may not be the perfect system, we are getting these calls out,” Campbell said.

He explained that officers have also run into problems using portable radios to call for backup and convey information about suspects, and firefighters haven’t heard warnings to get out of burning buildings.

Dispatchers have resorted to communicating with officers, firefighters and ambulance crews via cellphone – either by talking or texting – to make sure emergencies are properly covered.

“You would think in this day and age, in 2014, that we wouldn’t have to really look at some other avenue to notify our public safety personnel, but right now we have to,” Campbell said.

The new system costs $3.7 million. Instead of the current single tower, the new system will have four, with radio coverage reaching 95 percent of the town.

While there has been some controversy over where the towers will be located, most say the new system is money well spent.

It should be online by the end of June.

Girl Robbed of $1 in NYC Subway


Police are looking for a man who approached a teen girl in an Upper West Side subway stairwell and tried to rob her before assaulting her and fleeing with $1.

The 15-year-old girl was entering the B and C subway station on 96th Street and Central Park West at about 10 a.m. Saturday, police said.

The suspect approached her and demanded her valuables.

He then assaulted her and took $1 from her jacket before fleeing.

Police released surveillance images of the suspect. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS.

Cromwell Man Accused of Selling $5 Million in Fake Diplomas


A Cromwell man is facing federal charges, accused of selling $5 million worth of fake diplomas around the world.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, James Enowitch, 48, put together an elaborate scheme that allowed thousands of people across the globe to get false college degrees without actually going to school. The so-called “diploma mill” began operating as early as 2003.

Enowitch is facing federal fraud charges after he and an accomplice allegedly created seven different “school” Web sites where buyers could purchase fake degrees. All it took was a few keystrokes and a few hundred dollars – degree packages sold for between $475 and $550.

Some of the sites had local URLs, including suffielduniversity.com and suffielduniversity.org.

Enowitch declined to comment when NBC Connecticut stopped by his home on Wednesday night.

“I have no comment,” Enowitch said. “This is a misunderstanding and I don’t know what to say.”

He’s also accused of making up a fake organization called the National Distance Learning Accreditation Council to put the stamp of approval on the diplomas so they looked legitimate.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Enowitch falsified transcripts with detailed course work and created a fake verification service in case employers probed the buyer’s background.

If convicted, Enowitch could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Cash, Surveillance System Stolen From Ansonia Restaurant


Police are investigating after money and a surveillance system were stolen from an Ansonia restaurant and said similar burglaries have been reported in Seymour and Derby.

The owner of Crave Restaurant, at 102 Main Street in Ansonia, called police Tuesday morning to report that someone had broken in overnight. The burglar apparently shattered a window and took money from a safe. The restaurant’s video surveillance system was also stolen, police said.

Investigators working on the case found a cash register stolen during a separate burglary in Seymour, according to police. Seymour and Ansonia police are working together to identify a suspect or suspects.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Ansonia police at 203-735-1885.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Teen Runs Across Shoreline for Cancer


A senior at Suffield High School is challenging himself to run the entire Connecticut shoreline in just five days.

As if signing up for the ROTC program at UConn in the fall wasn’t enough, Ryan Jones is running to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

The shoreline covers 125 miles, and Ryan’s dad is also along for the ride, biking alongside him for most of the journey.

Jones says that he was inspired by an ESPN film about the “Marathon of Hope” across Canada and The Terry Fox Foundation. He’s also seen how cancer has impacted friends and family around him.

Even if Jones has a setback this week, he vows to persevere.

“Keep fighting, don’t stop, cause I can’t quit, they can’t quit.” Said Jones

His initial goal was to raise $1,000, and he has exceeded that before even starting his journey. The new goal is $2,000.

If you would like to help you can send donations to:

Ryan Jones’ Marathon of Hope
c/o Suffield High School
1060 Sheldon Street
Room 409
West Suffield, CT 06093

Mom Drives Van Into River: Police


A man swooped in to save a South Jersey family after a mother allegedly tried to kill her teenage children.

Darnell Taylor is mourning the loss of his father, who died from cancer Wednesday morning. Yet while Taylor is now coping with the tragedy, he can take solace in the fact that he prevented another one from happening just a day before his father's death.

Police say 49-year-old Joann Smith was driving her van on West Front Street in Florence Township, N.J around 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday. With her 15, 14, and 13 year-old children inside the vehicle, Smith allegedly accelerated onto a boat ramp and into the Delaware River.

Investigators say she was intentionally trying to kill her children.

Taylor says he was driving to dinner with his wife when he noticed the vehicle partially submerged in the water and the family trapped inside.

"I got out of the car and heard people screaming," Taylor said. "I took off my jacket, jumped in and swam out there."

Taylor swam towards the family while his wife called 911.

"I couldn't get the window open because the window in the van was not a pop out window," Taylor said. "So I kept telling the young lady to kick the window out and she kicked it out."

One by one, Taylor grabbed Smith, her daughter and two sons to safety. Taylor claims Smith didn't say anything during the rescue except for "Thank you."

One of the children suffered cuts on the leg while Smith was checked into a medical facility for a mental evaluation.

Police claim Smith intentionally drove the van into the water. She was arrested and charged with three counts of attempted murder and three counts of child endangerment.

Smith’s bail was set at $600,000. Officials originally said that Smith would likely appear in Superior Court in Mount Holly Thursday afternoon. Thursday morning however they said her first appearance wouldn't occur until Monday morning at the earliest.

Detectives with the Florence Township Police Department along with officials from the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office are investigating the case.

Smith's three children are currently staying with relatives, shaken by their terrifying experience but still alive thanks to Taylor.

"He was a godsend," said Bob Lane, a Florence Township resident. "He saved them. That water is not warm and he jumped in."

While many people are calling him a hero, Taylor disagrees.

"I'm not a hero," he said. "I'm just a member of this community and anyone else would have done the same thing."

Photo Credit: NBC10.com

New London Police Searching for Galaxy Convenience Store Robbers


New London police are looking for the two men who robbed a convenience store on Wednesday night and hit the clerk in the head.

Police responded to Galaxy Convenience Store, at 121 Montauk Avenue in New London, at 9:18 p.m. on Wednesday after receiving a report of an armed robbery.

The clerk told officers that two men robbed him and one hit him over the head with a “facsimile handgun” before running from the store with the cash.

The clerk suffered a minor laceration and declined treatment.

The man who hit the clerk was heavy, 6-feet-tall and was wearing black clothing, police said.

The other man was thin, 5-feet-8 and had green eyes and a tattoo around the corner of one eye, according to the description given.

He was wearing a white jacket and jeans.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Condom Shortage in Cuba


The latest food and product shortage to rock Cubans is being felt in the bedroom.

Complaints that condoms are scarce are emerging from the island, part of a dry spell that has lasted several weeks, The Miami Herald reported. 

One Havana author wrote on a Spanish-language website based in Miami that some shops continue to sell condoms, but at prices tailored to tourists that are unaffordable for most Cubans, according to The Herald. The shortage has lasted about two weeks, she wrote.

A report in a Communist Party newspaper pinpointed the prophylactic pinch to labeling and packaging issues with a batch of condoms purchased wholesale from China, The Herald reported.

Residents have also reported recent shortfalls of staples like toothpaste, toilet paper, soap and beer, the paper reported. 


Congress Members Tackle State’s Heroin Problem


Heroin use is on the rise in Connecticut and elected officials are coming together to address the problem.

This morning, U.S. Rep. Rep. Elizabeth Esty met in Waterbury with Mayor Neil O’Leary, Torrington Mayor Elinor Carbone, local law enforcement and public health professionals about ways the federal government can help local efforts reduce illegal drug trafficking and support mental health.

According to her office, 257 Connecticut residents died from heroin overdoses in the state, and Torrington and Waterbury are among the cities in her district struggling with the problem of heroin use.

Esty is urging the Federal Drug Administration to approve Narcan, a drug to reverse overdoses, to be available over-the-counter and as well as in a form that is easier to use than an injection.

She is also working toward more federal funding for law enforcement to help stop drug trafficking, as well as for treatment and prevention.

In February, the state Department of Health issued a warning about an increase in deaths due to heroin contaminated with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than morphine or heroin, that can cause death. 

At 10:30 a.m., another meeting will take place in New Haven.

Police in several communities have been battling the problem of tainted heroin and Hartford police have made several busts.

Meanwhile, local rehab centers said they don't have the resources to deal with the problem, and patients are in desperate need of help.

These meetings come weeks after state leaders asked Congress to step in and help stop the heroin epidemic.

In New Haven, Michael Botticelli, acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, will meet with U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, as well as representatives from the New Haven Police Department, Yale-New Haven Hospital physicians and researchers and treatment experts from Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center.

The meeting will be held at Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center, at 400 Columbus Boulevard, in New Haven. It starts at 10:30 a.m.


Water Main Break Washes Out Part of Road in Thomaston


Part of Waterbury Road in Thomaston has been washed out because of a large water main break this morning and drivers are asked to avoid using Waterbury Roa and Thomaston Avenue near the Thomaston-Waterbury town line until repairs are done.

According to the Waterbury Bureau of Water, there was a water main break early this morning on the 42-inch high-service transmission main.

The break has been closed and repair work has started.

Waterbury residents who normally receive water from this main are getting water from the other high-service transmission line.

Officials warn that there might be some discoloration in the water because water flow has increased.
Water levels in some of the city’s water tanks were lower than normal because of the break.

Until the repair is completed, customers are asked to limit unnecessary water usage.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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