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Poll Finds Most Residents Support Recreational Marijuana


By a slight margin, most Connecticut voters support allowing adults to legally possess marijuana for personal use, according to a poll released Monday. Most of that support came from residents between the ages of 18 and 29.

A new Quinnipiac University poll found 52 percent of people who took part in the survey support recreational use, with a stark split between age groups.

When it came to support for recreational marijuana use, 80 percent of voters between 18 and 29 years old said they were in favor.

There was less support among voters over 65 years old. Just 34 percent of respondents in that age group said they supported legal recreational use, while 61 percent opposed it.

There was broader support for legalized medical use of marijuana – at 90 percent overall. Voters of all ages overwhelmingly backed legal medical marijuana, with 99 percent of voters from 18 to 29 years old supporting it, along with 84 percent of voters over 65 years old.

"While 90 percent support the current law allowing medical marijuana, support drops to 69 percent who would want a medical marijuana dispensary in their town," the poll's director Douglas Schwartz said.

The poll found that close to half of Connecticut voters, 47 percent, had admitted to trying marijuana.

The survey also asked about people’s attitude about marijuana, and 61 percent of voters said alcohol is more harmful to a person's health, while 16 percent said marijuana is more harmful. Eighteen percent said both are harmful.

More than half of the people who participated in the poll said that should marijuana be more widely available, alcohol would be more harmful to society, while 28 percent said marijuana would be more harmful.

Almost 60 percent of people who participated in the poll said legalizing marijuana would lead to more underage use.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the poll had found that 61 percent of voters aged 65 and older said they backed legalizing recreational marijuana use. The story has been corrected to reflect the poll's finding that 61 percent of that age group oppose it, while 34 percent support it.

Photo Credit: AP

180-Foot Capital Wheel to Debut


The newest addition to the National Harbor skyline is set to debut over Memorial Day weekend.

The 180-foot Capital Wheel will get rolling Friday, May 23, and will be open daily year-round. As the tallest observation wheel east of the Mississippi River, it will offer riders a bird's eye view of the Washington Monument, U.S. Capitol, Potomac River, Alexandria and Prince George's County, Maryland.

The wheel consists of 42 heated and air-conditioned gondolas that seat up to eight people.

General admission tickets will set you back $15 for adults and $11.25 for kids ages 3-11. Children under age 2 are admitted free with a paying adult.

Those looking to live it up can opt for a trip in a VIP gondola, which features leather bucket seats, a glass floor, and a retracting monitor/DVD player. The gondola seats up to four; tickets are $50 each.

You can enter for a chance to win a family four-pack of tickets for the Capital Wheel on opening day. The prize package also includes four tickets to the exclusive grand opening and lighting ceremony, and a $250 gift card for dining and entertainment at National Harbor.

Each trip lasts about 12-15 minutes, and pace is brisk, about 1.5 rotations per minute. Check the website for hours.

The announcement of the wheel's official opening date came Monday, the same day the Washington Monument reopened to visitors after a nearly three-year hiatus while crews assessed and repaired damage from the 2011 earthquake that rocked the region.

On Twitter, @capitalwheel made several friendly overtures to its fellow sightseeing destination:

2nd U.S. MERS Case Reported


A new case of a deadly respiratory illness known as MERS is being investigated by officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If confirmed, it would be the second case discovered in the United States.

The new case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, reported in Florida, comes 10 days after the first case of the virus was reported in the country. The first patient, a man who lived in Saudia Arabia and traveled to Chicago on a planned trip to visit family, recovered from the illness and was released from the hospital over the weekend.

The Florida patient is a healthcare provider who lives and works in Saudi Arabia and began feeling sick on a flight to London, officials from the CDC and the Florida Department of Health said at a news conference Monday.

The patient traveled on to Boston and Atlanta before arriving in Orlando on May 1, the CDC said. The patient was visiting family and didn't go to any of the area theme parks, officials said.

On May 8, the patient was hospitalized. Tests by the CDC confirmed the MERS Sunday night. The patient remains isolated in the hospital and is doing well, the CDC said.

MERS belongs to the coronavirus family that includes the common cold and a syndrome known as SARS, which caused some 800 deaths globally in 2003. Saudi Arabia has been at the center of a Middle East outbreak of MERS that began two years ago. The virus has spread among health care workers, most notably at four facilities in that country last spring.

Overall, at least 400 people have had the respiratory illness, and more than 100 people have died. All had ties to the Middle East region or to people who traveled there.

Officials said the disease isn't highly contagious, but there is no cure.

The MERS virus has been found in camels, but officials don't know how it is spreading to humans. It can spread from person to person, but officials believe that happens only after close contact. Not all those exposed to the virus become ill.

Officials said the risk is relatively low for the Florida case but they are doing everything possible to find people who may have had contact with the patient. They are tracking down the 500 or so passengers who may have been on the three flights in the U.S. out of an abundance of caution.

Photo Credit: AP

Police Search for Bank Robber Caught on Camera


Police are seeking help from the public in identifying a suspect who robbed Webster Bank on Main Street in Brideport Saturday.

The robbery happened at 10:01 a.m., according to police.

In a bank security camera photograph of the robber, the suspect is wearing a black hooded jacket and white gloves, but most of the person's face is covered except for the eyes and nose. Two other masked men may have accompanied the suspect at the time of the robbery, police said.

The suspect, brandishing a handgun, was last seen "fleeing in a gold-colored sports utility vehicle," police said.

The bank is located at 3546 Main St. in Bridgeport.

Bridgeport police ask anyone with information on the robbery to call Det. Lawrence Lazaro at 203-581-5234.




Photo Credit: Bridgeport Police Department

Governor Signs Bill to Combat College Sex Assaults


Gov. Dannel Malloy signed legislation on Monday that is intended to combat the problem of sexual assaults at Connecticut colleges and universities.

The legislation requires colleges to provide services to victims, institute sexual assault policies and report incidents. Both the state House of Representatives and Senate passed it unanimously.

“Our students should feel safe on our colleges and universities and if that is not the case, we need to ensure we are doing all we can to protect them and prevent future acts of violence,” Malloy said in a statement. “I am proud that Connecticut is leading the nation in the implementation of strict legislation that will force change.”

This legislation was signed into law two weeks after the U.S. Department of Education revealed that 55 colleges and universities, including UConn, are being investigated for how they handled sexual abuse complaints under Title IX.

Five plaintiffs have filed a sex discrimination lawsuit against the school, saying they were sexually assaulted while studying in Storrs.

The Connecticut legislation requires colleges and universities to provide victims written notification of their rights and establish a campus resource team to review policies and recommend protocols for providing support and services to students and employees who report being victims. 

It also puts into place education requirements for the institution’s Title IX coordinator and special police force, campus police force or campus safety personnel, as well as training requirements for members of the state or local police who respond to campus incidents.

The General Assembly’s Higher Education Committee will also receive annual reports.

Driver Crashes at Busway After Jumping Train Tracks


Two people are hospitalized after a crash in West Hartford, in which a vehicle landed on the construction site for the new busway and flipped over a retaining wall.

Investigators said a driver, identified as Dennis Kelly, 29, of Hartford, lost control on New Britain Avenue at 11:50 p.m. on Sunday and went over railroad tracks before crashing on the other side.

Police said the 2013 Nissan Altima that Kelly was driving was destroyed.

The car went off New Britain Avenue at Carney Road, hit the embankment of the railroad tracks flew into the air and over the tracks, then landed on a busway under construction to go between Hartford and New Britain, according to an incident report from police.

The car then slid on the gravel, flipped over a retaining wall and landed on a jersey barrier on Railroad Place, where it landed upright, according to police.

Kelly and his passenger, Malicia Ortiz, 29, of Hartford, were both injured. Both were taken to Hartford Hospital. Their injuries are not believed to be life-threatening. 

Police said they think speed was a factor and they are investigating.

It does not appear that the railroad tracks or the busway were damaged, but a wooden safety fence was put up and Amtrak officials went to the scene.

West Hartford police are asking witnesses to call the West Hartford Police traffic division at 860-523-2007.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Clippers CEO: "Boat Still Floats"


Newly appointed Clippers interim CEO Richard Parsons discussed Monday what he called a period of transition and his role as "conservator" of the team as the NBA moves to oust Donald Sterling as owner.

The NBA appointed Parsons -- a former top executive with Time Warner and Citicorp -- last week to supervise the Clippers after the league's commissioner urged owners last month to ban Sterling over racist comments he made during a recorded conversation.

Parsons, who played basketball at the University of Hawaii, is currently a senior advisor at Providence Equity Partners. He sits on the board of directors for the Commission on Presidential Debates.

At his first news conference Monday afternoon as team CEO at Staples Center, where LA won a comeback thriller Sunday to tie the best-of-seven playoff series against Oklahoma City at two games apiece, he talked about his role.

"The team has risen to the challenge, and I'm hoping to some small extent I can, too," Parsons said. "There's is huge danger and pitfalls, but there is tremendous opportunity for this franchise. My job is to be the CEO of the enterprise and make sure... the boat still floats and is headed in the right direction, and maybe pick up a little speed."

He described himself as a "conservator" left to oversee a property while a dispute is resolved.

"The team right now finds itself without executive leadership, and that's not something the NBA can tolerate," Parsons said. "They need someone to be, on an interim basis, the leader, to make sure no value is lost, help it move to the next level and move through this period of transition."

Sterling has been banned from all team activities, including games and practices. The team's president, Andy Roeser, has taken a leave of absence, leaving Parsons as the team's top acting executive.

Parsons' remarks come after the NBA's longest tenured owner made his first public comments regarding the ban and recording -- a conversation involving Sterling and companion V. Stiviano. On the recording, a man can be heard criticizing the woman for posting online about bringing black friends to games. The man is also heard chastising the woman for posting a photo on Instagram with Lakers great and Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson.

In an interview with CNN, the 80-year-old Sterling said the remarks were a "terrible mistake."

Parsons said has not had any conversations with Sterling or his estranged wife and team co-owner, Rochelle. He said there is "not much" he can do about the team's ownership siituation.

"Donald Sterling questions are hard for me to answer because I don't know this man," Parsons said.

Silver banned Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million April 29 for making racist comments.

The termination process has involved two meetings so far of the NBA's advisory/finance committee. The 10-member committee has met to discuss the process, which could eventually come to a vote of the league's other owners.

Red-Tailed Hawk Rescued from Tree


A male red-tailed hawk rescued last Thursday afternoon from a tree near Wallingford Executive Kia will go home Monday evening.

Connecticut bird rescue A Place Called Hope, the non-profit organization that rescued and nurtured the adult hawk back to health, will release the bird into the wild at 6 p.m.

Todd Secki, co-founder of A Place Called Hope, used an "ascension climbing system" to rescue the hawk stuck about 50 feet up in the tree, according to an email from the organization. The hawk's legs got caught in "the crack of a dead trunk section of the tree" and dangled over North Colony Road during a period of busy traffic, according to the statement.

The hawk had minor abrasions when Secki recovered the bird.

"His injuries are minor and he's ready to go home," the organization said in the statement.

The Kia dealership's service center called A Place Called Hope  for help because the group specializes in "rescuing, re-nesting, rehabilitation and education" of Connecticut's birds of prey.






Photo Credit: Ned Hurle

Crash Closes Route 17 in Portland


Route 17 in Portland is closed after a car crashed into a utility pole.

The accident happened North of Main Street at Wilcox Road and North Wilcox Road, according to police.

There is no word on injuries or on when the road will reopen.

NY Hammer Attack Suspect in Custody


Police have a suspect in custody in connection with a string of hammer attacks on subway riders, authorities said.

The man is suspected in three attacks on riders, two at the same station near the MetroCard machine.

The latest victim, a 32-year-old man, was at the Rockaway Avenue C train station in Bedford-Stuyvesant at about 9:20 a.m. Wednesday when he was approached from behind and hit with the hammer.

The man fell to the ground and the suspect demanded his money. Once the victim handed over the cash, the robber took off.

In an attack on May 4, a 23-year-old man was trying to buy a MetroCard at the same C train station around 11 a.m. when he was hit on the back of the head with a hammer. 

And on March 5, a 26-year-old pregnant woman was struck with a hammer near a subway station in Briarwood, Queens. 

She told NBC 4 New York at the time that the suspect was wearing a black jacket and hoodie. She said she fell to her knees after he hit her, and handed him her bag. He ran off with it.


UConn Fraternity Suspended For Hazing Incident


UConn has imposed a five-year suspension on the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity for a hazing incident at a party in March.

The university announced the sanction on Monday, the second suspension of a Greek organization on campus in less than a week.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon was put on notice last month that the school's Community Standards panel was investigating an incident that took place on March 6 at the fraternity's off-campus house on Route 195.

The members of the fraternity are accused of forcing students to drink alcohol, act like animals and sizzle like bacon by lying on the floor and wiggling.

Members of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority also took part in the alleged hazing at the same party, according to university officials. Last week, UConn suspended Kappa Kappa Gamma for four years.

The university began investigating the Greek organizations after a sophomore came forward to say she was forced into a night of heavy drinking and passed out.

Hillary Holt said she woke up in a hospital bed and was told she had a blood alcohol level of nearly three times the legal limit to drive.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon is accused of endangering the health and safety of students and distributing alcohol to individuals under the age of 21.

UConn released a statement about its decision on Monday:

"Fraternities, sororities and other organizations play a vital and valuable role in the life of a great university -- by UConn will not accept hazing or harmful treatment of students by anyone, under any circumstances."

A spokesperson for the national Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter said the fraternity has a zero tolerance for hazing, but may appeal the length of the suspension.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

1 Critically Injured in Crash on Route 4 in Farmington


One person is in critical condition after a head-on crash on Route 4 in Farmington this morning.

Police received several 911 calls just before 10:30 a.m. after a white four-door sedan and a tan pickup collided near Mountain Spring Road.

The driver of the sedan was severely injured and was not responding to emergency crews, police said.

He was extricated from the car, and Life Star, a critical care helicopter, brought him to Hartford Hospital.

Police have not released his name but said the driver's injuries could be life-threatening.

The driver of the pickup did not have any obvious injuries but was brought by ambulance to Hartford Hospital as a precaution.

The North Central Municipal Accident Reconstruction Squad is investigating the crash.

The road was closed from the Interstate 84 exit to Mountain Spring Road, but has since reopened.


Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

School Building Hit During Shooting Over Stolen Motor Bike: Cops


Gunfire erupted, hitting a school in Hartford on Monday afternoon.

Shots were fired behind the America’s Choice at SAND School as children were in the area at the time, according to Hartford Police.  No one was injured.

Officers responded to an area by the Sands Apartment Complex at about 1:48 p.m. to investigate shotspotter reports of possible gunshots, Deputy Chief Brian Foley said in a news release. The shotspotter is the department's system for detecting gunshots fired in Hartford.

The shooting was over a dispute involving a stolen motor bike wthout a connection to the school, according to Foley. Police determined that the incident stemmed from a confrontation near the fence line between the 1750 Main St. school and the apartments at 1630 Main St., he said.

Witnesses to the altercation fled unharmed as two suspects brandished weapons and fired multiple rounds at them, he said. Bullets hit the school building  in at least three locations. A physical education class was outside in the courtyard next to the wall when the shots were fired, but none of the students were injured, Foley said.

The principal immediately placed the school in lockdown and police responded.

Investigators searched the area and decided a full lockdown was not needed. The school then altered the lockdown to a lock-in.

At 2:55 p.m., police told school officials they could lift the elevated safe mode and dismiss students at a normal dismissal time, according to school officials.

Officers recovered shell casings near the school, police said.

The department's Shooting Task Force continues to investigate the case, but no arrests have been made at this time.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Schools May Close in Glastonbury


Less than ten years ago, Glastonbury Public Schools opened a school for grades PreK - 5, but Monday night the Board of Education discussed possibly closing two schools.

The reason for the change administrators say is due to a continuous decline in the birthrate, which means fewer students.

"Between this year and last year I think we've lost about 200 students," said BOE Chair Susan Karp.

Projections show an average of about 200 fewer students for the district every year.

Lawrence Niland, whose two boys go to Eastbury Elementary, attended the meeting and said those projections could be wrong.

"That might not be sustainable," said Niland. "So if that's not sustainable why are we going to close a school?"

Karp addressed that saying right now it's just a plan, one that can be adjusted.

The BOE was presented with two viable options for consolidation.

The first would close the 6th grade school in 2018. An elementary school would close two to four years after that.

The other plan could close Eastbury and Naubuc Elementary Schools by 2020. Administrators say each closure would save the district about $1 million a year, but it would come at a cost to personnel.

"We don't need that additional principal and there are other support personnel that we won't be needing in that school," said Superintendent Alan Bookman.

Parents like Niland just want to make sure a move like this doesn't affect their kids' education.

"I'm concerned. I want to make sure the board gets it right," said Niland.

No decision was made at the BOE meeting. The board stressed that it was one of many meetings that will take place. The next one is scheduled for June 9th.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Girl Dies Day Before Turning 5


Cynthia Jimenez was on her way to Disneyland with her family to celebrate her fifth birthday when the car she and her family were in was crushed by a delivery van in a Southern California desert city.

The family of five died on Mother's Day.

On Monday, relatives were in shock.

"We were in a little argument," Kenya Garcia said of her sister, Angelica Garcia. "But I love her to death.

Cynthia and both of her brothers, Ivan, 2 and Freddie, 9, died along with her mother and father, Angelica Garcia and Gerardo Jimenez.

The family's car was crushed by a delivery van that was on its way to pick up flowers for Mother's Day.
The crash happened at a stop sign at Main Street and Balsam Avenue in Hesperia just before 7 a.m.

Sheriff's investigators say the driver of the van was heading east on Main when he lost control. His van rolled onto the family's car.

The children's grandfather, Quirino Garcia, drove by the wreck, but didn't know his family was involved in the crash.

"I don't feel angry," he said in Spanish. "I feel like my heart is destroyed."

Shannon Kack said he spoke to the driver just after the crash. Kack said the driver told him he had only looked away for a second.

Investigators are still looking for answers to why this happened, but residents say speed is a big problem on Main Street.

Speed is a big problem on Main Street.

"They fly by here like crazy," said Irene Salazar. "They need to slow down. They really need to think about putting a light here."

Goalie Risks Career, Saves Stranger


Goalie Chris Seitz’s biggest save required putting everything, including his career, on the line.

The 2012 Major League Soccer playoffs were looming when the FC Dallas player got the email asking for help. 

A bone marrow donor drive he participated in about four years and four teams earlier, when the wife of a former teammate in Utah was diagnosed with cancer, had led to a potential match: a stranger in a hospital bed thousands of miles away who was in dire need of a transplant.

That stranger was Philip Richiuso, a leukemia patient in Erie, Pennsylvania, who doctors feared was close to death after his treatment was failing.

“I was on the phone almost crying, thinking that someone else would give their life to someone they didn’t know,” Richiuso said.

Further testing showed Seitz was a match. But extracting the needed bone marrow required a painful procedure that included a needle poking more than 60 holes in a bone in his lower back. The recovery would take months. That meant Seitz, who was in the middle of a contract year with a pregnant wife at home, would be signing up to miss the rest of the FC Dallas season.

“His trainer said, this could be the end of your career. His comment was, I want to save a life more than play soccer,” Richiuso said.

But for Seitz, the decision was simple. He went to his coach and team, who he said “got behind me and really helped me and gave me the space and opportunity to do it.”

“It's kind of surreal. You don’t know what you’re getting into. You listen to the doctors, they tell you everything they’re going to do,” Seitz said. “I had 52 holes in my lower back. You feel really weak…. But it’s worth it. You’re giving someone a chance to fight and win the battle.”

Seitz has returned to the field following an intensive rehab process, and is now playing his best professional season with FC Dallas.

“There’s been no residual effects of anything for me, I’m back 100 percent and I'm almost even better,” he said.

And the news for Richiuso is even better – he’s remained cancer-free since the transplant. Now, he's hoping they'll get to meet face-to-face for the first time when the FC Dallas plays in Columbus next month.

"If we can get out there, I'd love to see him," he said.

Bristol School Bus Driver Arrested on Child Porn Charges


A Bristol school bus driver has been arrested on child pornography charges.

State police have charged Michael O'Brien, 29, of Wolcott, with third-degree possession of child pornography.

O'Brien is an elementary and pre-K school bus driver in Bristol, according to state police.

The Bristol School Superintendent released a statement Monday night.

"The Superintendent was notified of the arrest of a First Student Bus Company employee driver earlier today. The driver was suspended last week by First Student when an investigation began regarding the driver," Superintendent Ellen Solek said in the statement.

Investigators seized electronic items from O'Brien's home and after forensic examination applied for an arrest warrant for him.

He is no longer driving buses for First Student, according to Solek.

O'Brien was released on a $10,000 bond.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Sterling Blasts Magic Johnson


Donald Sterling said in a televised interview Monday that Magic Johnson is not a good role model for children and has done nothing for black people, even as the embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner asked for forgiveness after being banned from the NBA.

Making his first public comments since TMZ Sports released an audio recording in which the 80-year-old billionaire made racist remarks, Sterling told CNN's Anderson Cooper that Johnson, who is HIV-positive, "should be ashamed of himself."

"Well, what kind of a guy goes to every city, has sex with every girl, then he catches HIV? Is that someone we want to respect and tell our kids about?" Sterling asked. "I think he should go into the background. But what does he do for the black people? He doesn't do anything."

Sterling also blamed Johnson for his delayed apology, saying he held off because the legendary NBA player told him to remain silent.

"He thought the whole thing will be resolved in two weeks," Sterling said, according to the CNN report. "What has he done? Can you tell me? Big Magic Johnson, what has he done?"

Sterling said he respects and admires Johnson, and that the Hall of Famer's role in the scandal is "irrelevant."

"I'd rather be talking about these great NBA Playoffs than Donald Sterling's interview," Johnson tweeted Monday night.

"After this week, no more Sterling talk. Just the NBA Playoffs, my @Dodgers and my @LA_Sparks!" he added.

In response to the interview, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released a statement reiterating that the league was moving swiftly to remove Sterling as owner of the Clippers.

"While Magic Johnson doesn't need me to, I feel compelled on behalf of the NBA family to apologize to him that he continues to be dragged into this situation and be degraded by such a malicious and personal attack," Silver's statement said in part.

On the recording, which has not been authenticated by NBC News, Sterling can be heard criticizing girlfriend V. Stiviano for posting online about bringing black friends to Clippers games. He is also heard chastising her for posting a photo on Instagram with Johnson.

Reacting to the recording, Johnson said Sterling's comments about black people were damaging to the NBA.

"I'm disappointed, I'm hurt, I'm outraged, I'm everything," Johnson said. "First, my name being associated, he singled me out personally. Then he singled out African-Americans. Again, I'm always gonna fight for myself as well as my people."

Silver banned Sterling, fined him $2.5 million and urged owners to force him to sell the team.

French Cheese Recalled for Possible Salmonella Contamination


A French cheesemaker is recalling two of its offerings from the U.S. market because they could be contaminated with Salmonella.

Ste Fromagere du Livradois is recalling its Haut Livradois brand Raclette and Monboissie cheeses with lot No. 350. They were distributed in supermarkets and gourmet stories nationwide between March 10 and May 6, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Both cheeses come as a 13-pound wheel and are usually cut and wrapped.

The voluntary recall was initiated after a routine sampling program by the FDA found the presence of Salmonella in some products.

Consumers are urged to contact their distributor or retailer for a full refund.

Photo Credit: FDA

Tires Popping at Torrington Fire Sounded Like Explosions


Some Torrington residents were woken by what sounded like explosions when a fire broke out at Mountaintop Trucking early Tuesday morning.

Three dump trucks caught fire at 50 Lincoln Avenue around 3:30 a.m., and tires popped on the vehicles, causing the explosive sounds.

The noises caused alarm in the community, but the fire chief said they are typical with this type of fire.

No one was working when the fire started, and no one was hurt.

The fire marshal will be responding and investigating what started the fire.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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