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Foxwoods to Reduce Hours for Portion of Casino


Foxwoods Resort Casino will reduce the hours of one of its casino floors.

The Day reported Wednesday that Foxwoods plans to close its Rainmaker Casino during the week.

In a statement from Foxwoods, President and CEO Scott Butera did not name the specific casino floor but attributed the decision in reducing hours on a portion of the gaming floor  to improving "operational efficiencies."

"As the competitive landscape of the gaming industry continues to change, Foxwoods Resort Casino is focused on operational efficiencies at all levels in order to achieve success in today's environment and to sustain that success well into the future," Butera said. "The modification to the hours of operation of a small portion of our gaming floor is a function of our ongoing effort to improve operational efficiency during lower-volume periods."

The Day also reported that the operating reductions could mean layoffs. Butera did not specify how many employees might be eliminated, but he did say that Foxwoods will adjust its staffing accordingly.

"It will be necessary to the health of the organization to review and adjust our staffing levels based on a solid strategic plan with a goal of supporting strong employment levels for years to come," Butera said. "We will work our way through these difficult times and come out of it stronger; serving the needs of what remains one of the largest work forces in the state and the region."

Foxwoods is located in Ledyard.

88-Year-Old Woman Missing From New Haven


Authorities are searching for an 88-year-old woman who went missing from New Haven on Wednesday.

State police have issued a Silver Alert for Martha Perez and are asking for the public's help in finding her.

She's described as as standing 4 feet 11 inches tall and weighing 112 pounds. Police said Perez has brown hair and brown eyes.

Perez was last seen wearing a brown headband, hoop earrings, a gray-and-blue zip-up sweater and dark blue jeans. Police said she was carrying a black purse.

Anyone with information on Perez's whereabouts is urged to call New Haven police at 203-946-6316.

Photo Credit: New Haven Police Department

Homes Burn in San Diego Suburb


The Poinsettia Fire burned homes and an apartment complex in Carlsbad as it spread Wednesday to more than 100 acres, prompting the evacuation of thousands of residents north of San Diego.

City officials said Wednesday afternoon that three structures had been destroyed and 15 more damaged in the Poinsettia fire, which sparked early Wednesday. County officials list homes destroyed at 30.

As of 4 p.m., the forward rate of spread has been stopped but there was still a threat to structures according to Cal Fire.

The Windsor at Aviara Apartments, located near Ambrosia and Poinsettia lanes, also caught fire later in the afternoon.

Mandatory evacuations were ordered for homes from west of El Fuerte Road, south of Palomar Airport Road, north of Aviara Parkway and west to the coast. AlertSanDiego reports it has notified 15,000 homes, businesses and cell phones to evacuate in the city of Carlsbad.

A local emergency has been declared in the County of San Diego due to at least five wildland fires burning, including those in Carlsbad, Fallbrook and Camp Pendleton.

An NBC 7 News crew captured video of two homes along Black Rail Road near Sapphire that burned to the ground.

On Skimmer Court in the Aviara area, NBC 7 caught up with a homeowner who was watching fire crews hose down what was left of his 1960s Weir Brothers custom-built adobe home.

Greg Skaska lived in the home for more than 30 years and said when he realized the fire was threatening the house, he had no time to grab any personal things.

“No time. We had to leave. But it’s okay. I'm alive," he said.

Another home at 1570 Martingale Court off Sapphire Drive caught fire while homes on the right and left of the house went untouched.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes,” a neighbor, Kevin, told NBC 7. “I feel so terrible for these homeowners.”

Carlsbad Fire Chief Michael Davis said 23,000 phone calls had gone out to warn residents about the fire, a combination of mandatory evacuation orders, information and other calls.

Cal Fire Battalion Chief Nick Schuler said the fire is not something crews normally see in June, July, in August, not in May.

“Not only were firefighters trying to engage the fire but doing their best to get people out of their homes effectively and safely,” Schuler said.

Carlsbad police officers said the Poinsettia Fire sparked around 10:40 a.m. at Alicante and Poinsettia Lane and moved quickly.

Within an hour a line of flames was burning toward El Camino Real near Poinsettia Lane and Jasper Way.

Residents from the Cassia Heights apartments were evacuated. Other homeowners stopped to talk with NBC 7 News crews, describing how they had time to grab just a few things – documents, photos and pets – before fleeing the area.

Two men who identified themselves as Ryan and Adam were going door to door in the area east of Blackrail Road to knock on doors and help people evacuate.

One homeowner was panicked as the palm trees in her backyard were engulfed in flames, they said.

“I ran back inside and went back up to her and said ‘We need to leave right now,’” Adam said. “We were able to get her daughters and dogs out in time.”

Calavera Hills Community Center, at 2997 Glasgow, is being opened as a shelter location. Pets are welcome.

Poinsettia Elementary was evacuated to Carrillo Elementary School at 2875 Poinsettia Lane, San Marcos. Aviara Oaks Elementary and Middle schools were evacuated to the Sunrise Retirement Community on Manzanita Street, Carlsbad.

Carlsbad schools superintendent Suzanne Lovely said police and firefighters have helped move students to safety.

“We were able to safely evacuate three of our schools that were in the path of the fire,” Lovely said.

All schools will be closed Thursday and Friday and will resume on Monday, school officials said.

Westfield Plaza Camino Real is serving as a temporary evacuation point for people and animals according to police.

Westfield Plaza Camino Real is unable to accept any additional large animals such as horses and livestock. Residents with large animals needing to evacuate should call San Diego County Animal Services for assistance: 619-236-2341.

Park Hyatt Aviara, located just a few miles from where the fire sparked, was under mandatory evacuated. Guests and staff were under mandatory evacuations, a staff member told NBC 7.

Earlier in the day, La Costa Resort said its number one priority is keep guests calm.

LEGOLAND California posted a message to its Facebook page saying the park had to evacuate rides because of power outages caused by fires.

Callaway Golf and Titlelist Golf were evacuated as well, according to employees who spoke with an NBC 7 crew.

The Carlsbad Premium Outlets also closed. 

Interstate 5 southbound and northbound offramps were closed at Palomar Airport Road.

Diane Wood, a Carlsbad resident, said she is about two to three miles from the fire.

“It’s rather threatening. Everyone is coming out of their businesses and looking as the smoke is approaching their area,” she said. “It’s pretty scary."

San Diego Gas & Electric said it has shut off power to some customers in San Diego County for public safety purposes.

About 3,000 SDG&E customers were out of service due to the fire. Crews are working to restore power as soon as it is safe to do so, the utility said in a statement.

For the latest information on where outages are occurring, visit SDG&E’s outage map.

Due to the fast-burning fire burning in the Carlsbad, several transmission lines tripped offline.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: NBC 7

Ethics Complaint to be Filed Against Hartford Mayor


Hartford's Independent Audit Commission says it will file an ethics complaint against Mayor Pedro Segarra due to the mayor's alleged failure to "uphold city laws."

Specifically, the IAC accuses Segarra of failing to permanently hire department directors within six months of having employed them on an interim basis.

This reportedly violates a city ordinance that requires a formal hiring process in which department director candidates are vetted by the city council.

The mayor's office did not respond to a request for comment.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

West Hartford's Shish Lounge to Close


West Hartford's Shish Restaurant and Lounge will close its doors at the end of the month.

The lease expires May 25 and owner Aaron Sarwar said he's decided not to renew.

Town officials say the establishment, located at 904 Farmington Avenue, has a history of violating zoning regulations by operating as a nightclub.

Sarwar, on the other hand, says he hasn't received any citations, and tickets he was issued were later rescinded. He explained that the town requested some changes, such as ending bottle service, and said the Shish Lounge complied with those requests.

"They literally have no ground even to fight me because I haven't even been issued a ticket," Sarwar said in a phone interview Wednesday.

The state Liquor Control Department has received 11 complaints about the restaurant in the five years it's been open, but Sarwar says those matters were resolved.

He says police have expressed concern about the restaurant's "Latin Night" and LGBT events and feels singled out.

"There's obviously discrimination here," Sarwar said. "It's completely obvious."

The Hartford Courant reports that town officials filed an injunction against the restaurant requesting that the Shish Lounge comply with zoning regulations, but Sarwar said he's giving up the fight and has decided to pursue other interests.

Sarwar now plans to start an air charter service out of Brainard Airport in Hartford, which will run flights to Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket and Block Island.

The Shish Lounge will remain open with no cover charge through May 24.

Sarwar emphasized that the changes will not affect the Shish Kebab House of Afghanistan in the center of town, which his family has owned for years.

It's not clear what will take over the space Shish Lounge has been renting.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

CCSU Professor Promoted While in Jail


An associate professor at Central Connecticut State University has been promoted while behind bars, and university officials say they weren’t aware of his incarceration until after the fact.

CCSU poet in resident and associate English professor Ravi Shankar has received full-time status at the university in New Britain – but he’s been in jail awaiting his next court date.

Shankar faces several pending charges from arrests in 2012, including violation of probation, criminal impersonation and motor vehicle charges, according to court dockets.

He’s also been convicted of driving under the influence and making a false statement, court dockets show.

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CCSU President Dr. Jack Miller said he didn’t know Shankar was in jail until after the professor was promoted.

“This is a very complex situation, but the simple answer is, it was my responsibility to inform the Board of Regents and I did not. At the time of the Board action I was not aware that Professor Shankar had been incarcerated,” Miller said in a statement Wednesday. “I have asked my staff to conduct a full investigation of all of the legal actions, when we knew of them, and the various processes involved.”

State Sen. Toni Boucher raised concerns in a statement released Wednesday and said there’s no excuse for what happened.

“Dr. Jack Miller of CCSU has taken responsibility for not alerting the Board of Regents to the alleged criminal case involving the employee in question,” Boucher said in the statement. “Though Miller has taken responsibility for his action, the Board of Regents should be embarrassed. They should be doing background checks when considering a major promotion.”

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Boucher said Shankar has been in jail for five days and some of the charges against him have been on the docket for years.

“I am requesting Dr. Gregory Gray meet with the leaders of the General Assembly’s Higher Education Committee to discuss compliance and notification issues for staff under the Connecticut State University (CSU) system,” Boucher said in her statement. “The safety of our students and staff should be paramount.”

State Sen. Kevin Witkos, of Canton, said he was “shocked and appalled” by Shankar’s promotion.

“While I believe that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, I don’t believe we should reward people until all the facts are in. It’s simple logic. When you go directly to jail, you do not get to pass go, you do not get to collect that $200,” Witkos said in a statement Wednesday. “That applies to real life too. Our state should not be funding a pay raise and extending a benefits package to someone who has allegedly violated the law repeatedly.”

Witkos cites a statement published in the university newspaper in Aug. 2012 after Shankar was arrested for the third time.

“I take seriously my responsibilities as an educator and a role model, and am deeply distraught at the concatenation of bad luck and worse judgment that has wrought such havoc on all that I hold dear,” Shankar told The Recorder.

Two months later, in Oct. 2012, Shankar was arrested for violation of probation, to which he has pleaded not guilty.

He’s due back in court May 22.

Photo Credit: Facebook

Deadly Virus Rages at Waterbury Animal Shelter


A deadly virus raging at the Waterbury Animal Shelter claimed another victim on Monday, raising the casualty count to six dogs in less than six months.

The shelter closed its doors and quarantined its animals after a pit bull died of parvo earlier this week. The shelter will remain shut down for two weeks while the city works to disinfect the facility and checks the other animals being housed there.

Six shelter dogs have died of parvo since January, and Lisa Marie Pinto’s Chihuahua was one of them.

“If you find a dog in Waterbury, don’t even bring it to that pound, because it’s almost like a death sentence for them,” Pinto said. Her adopted dog Sonny died of the virus two weeks after she brought him home.

City officials admit parvo is a growing concern. They worry the virus may have contaminated the building itself and could be harbored by the shelter floor. Officials plan to run tests on the facility.

“We did seal the floors within the last year,” said Deputy Police Chief Fred Spagnolo. “We want to make sure that’s working.”

Spagnolo says the shelter is following protocol by testing dogs for parvo as soon as they’re brought in and keeping them in quarantine when test results come back positive.

But sometimes symptoms don’t develop until much later, and by then it’s too late.

“It’s frustrating,” said Spagnolo. “It’s very challenging.”

The state Department of Agriculture is keeping a close watch on the shelter sand says the city is doing all the right things.

“They’re taking every precaution they possibly can,” said Ray Connors of the Dept. of Agriculture State Animal Control Division. “They’re going above and beyond.”

Spagnolo said the situation is difficult because dogs come to the pound with no known medical history, so it’s not clear which animals have been vaccinated and which have not.

“You have to remember, these dogs are coming off the street,” Spagnolo said.

Nearly a dozen dogs remain in quarantine while the city works to eradicate the virus.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

10K Gallons of Oil Spill in LA


Workers continued a massive cleanup after streets flooded, two people were hospitalized and a strip club was evacuated when an early-morning crude oil pipeline break sent a geyser of black goo spurting into the air Thursday.

Streets were closed in Atwater Village near Glendale northeast of downtown Los Angeles after approximately 10,000 gallons of crude oil -- enough to fill a backyard swimming pool -- spilled over a half-mile area. An above-ground 20-inch pipeline broke around 12:15 a.m. Thursday near 5175 W. San Fernando Rd.

Health officials said the asphalt in the area was as hot as 126 degrees. A health advisory was issued as rising temperatures and the oil spill combined to create extreme odors, according to a statement from the Los Angeles County Public Health Department.

"Cleanup of this spill is progressing, but individuals may experience discomfort from odors from the residual crude," said Jonathan E. Fielding, Director of Public Health and Health Officer. "Sensitive individuals, including children, seniors, and people with chronic disease such as heart or lung disease, should exercise caution, and limit their outdoor activities as long as odors persist."

The odors could result in mild, temporary health impacts, such as eye, nose and throat irritation, headache, dizziness, or upset stomach, Fielding said.

Oil shot 15 to 20 feet upward and onto a nearby business, The Gentlemen’s Club, coating the windows. The Gentlemen's Club, which according to its website features "full nude exotic dancers," was evacuated, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Two workers from a nearby industrial plant for Baxter, a healthcare company, were sickened by the fumes and transported to the hospital.

Aerial video showed pools of oil across several blocks and on top of the adult entertainment club.

"This oil comes from the Bakersfield area, this is a pumping transfer station and pumping transfer station then transfers the oil to a storage facility in Long Beach," Batallion Chief David Spence said.

LAFD reported that oil was knee-high in some areas.

The pipeline, which trasports oil from Bakersfield to Texas, was remotely shut off within 10 minutes of firefighters arriving, but oil continued to spew for an additional 45 minutes, according to the LAFD.

The spill happened in a predominantly industrial area. Four workers from Baxter were evaluated for general illness and respiratory concerns and two of them were taken to the hospital.

A total of five commercial businesses have been affected, according to LAFD. Oil did not go inside any of the businesses.

Several blocks near San Fernando Road and West Broadway have been cordoned off as fire crews and clean up officials work to clear the area. Clean up could take at least 24 hours.

Most of the oil on the street has been vaccumed up and crews will now use absorbent diapers to sop up the oil, according to LAFD Chief Jaime Moore. Moore said that crews will then pressure wash everything using a soapy soluion to remove any remaining oil on the asphalt.

San Fernando Road between Brazil Street and Electronics Place is currently closed and businesses on Brazil Street are expected to be inaccessible while crews clean up the spill.

The Department of Transportation is assisting with traffic.

The LAFD had initially reported that it was a 50,000-gallon oil spill, but that number was reduced to 10,000 gallons a few hours later.

Kate Larsen contributed to this report.

New Haven Looking to Change "Directions"


New Haven is looking to add more "two-way" streets.

But it's not just about convenience for drivers. The city says it's also about safety

Transportation officials tell us public safety is number one. They want to ensure police cruisers, fire trucks and ambulances can respond safely to emergencies.

That's something officials argue would happen if a street like Church is two ways.

"I think that's what the sirens are for, to get people around," said Professor Jonathan Holloway, chair of the African-American Studies Department at Yale University.

Some feel New Haven streets are passable for emergency responders just the way they are and that converting a street like Elm to is unnecessary

"It is confusing though for first timers in this city I know that much. I don't know if we need to speed up traffic in New Haven it seems to move okay. It's a small town," Holloway added.

Some though see the value of a two-way street

"If I'm driving down here and I miss my turn I got to go all the way back around because of the one way streets," said Nick Okano, a senior at Yale.

Transportation officials have been studying one-way streets and determining whether they'd make more sense as two-ways.

"The goal is simple. It's mobility," said Doug Hausladen, director of transportation and parking for New Haven.

He says mobility is most important for the New Haven police and fire departments.

"Public safety is the first issue at hand. We cannot do anything without having a safe travel pattern

The plan would turn parts of Church, Elm and Temple Streets into two ways to improve traffic but ultimately the goal is centered on first responders."

"We have to make sure that everything we do does not increase any time for emergency services," Hausladen added.

Emergency officials told NBC Connecticut Wednesday night it was too early for comment on this plan. A final report on this study is coming out next month.

First CT School District Eliminates Final Exams


The Danbury board of education voted 10-1 Wednesday to eliminate finals and midterms.  The school district is the first in the state to do so, but feels others will soon follow.

"We've had conversations with our colleagues throughout Connecticut and the country. Many in leadership positions say we're right behind you," says Dr. William Glass, deputy superintendent for Danbury schools.

According to Dr. Glass, research on the subject has been extensive.  "On average a four year student will, over the course of that youngsters academic career, loose 14 1/2 years of instructional time to midterm and final exams."

At Wednesday's meeting, Danbury High School Principal Gary Bocaccio made his case for final elimination.  "The reality is we can do a better job preparing kids for college by teaching them appropriate study skills and by giving them authentic types of as assessments that they will have in college," said Bocaccio.

Michael Ferguson, the only board member to vote no, disagrees. While he respects the board's decision, he fears it will be a disservice to Danbury students.  "There is so much that comes from midterms and finals that prepares you mentally and emotionally for what is to come in college."

Ferguson says he conducted his own research, speaking with schools and parents across the county who share his concerns. He also heard from Danbury parents who fear the district is "rubber stamping" the policy.

Bocaccio says the idea has been thoroughly vetted from parents to school staff, all the way up to the university level.

The elimination of final and midterm exams will take effect next school year.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Fast-Food Workers Strike for $15-an-Hour Wages


If you're grabbing breakfast at your favorite fast food location in Connecticut this morning, you might find a picket line because workers who want a raise are going on strike.

Fast-food workers in Hartford and New Haven are walking off the job on Thursday as part of a nationwide strikes in more than 150 cities across the United States. They are looking for $15 per hour wages and the right to form a union without retaliation.

Workers are going on strike at Hartford and New Haven major fast-food restaurants, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and Dunkin’ Donuts.

The workers have support from clergy, elected officials and members of their communities, but the fast food chains have said they can't afford this and would have to fire fewer people.

McDonald’s has a statement on its Web site about minimum wage.

"At McDonald’s, we offer part-time and full-time employment, benefits and competitive pay based on the local marketplace and job level. McDonald’s and our owner-operators are committed to providing our respective employees with opportunities to succeed, and we have a long, proven history of providing advancement opportunities for those who want it. We invest in training and professional development that helps them learn practical and transferable business skills whether at McDonald’s or elsewhere. It’s important to know approximately 80% of our global restaurants are independently owned and operated by small business owners, who are independent employers that comply with  local and federal laws.
This is an important discussion that needs to take into account the highly competitive nature of the industries that employ minimum wage workers, as well as consumers and the thousands of small businesses which own and operate the vast majority of McDonald’s restaurants."


Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut,cin

$40K Found in Couch Returned


When a couple of roommates living in an upstate college town found more than $40,000 in a secondhand couch they bought from a thrift store, they decided to track down the money’s rightful owner instead of keeping it for themselves, according to a student news blog.

The New Paltz roommates, Reese Werkhoven, Cally Guasti and Lara Russo, picked up the couch at a Salvation Army for $20. They didn't have it for long before Werkhoven found an envelope stuffed with $20 bills under a dingy arm rest, reports the Little Rebellion, a student-run news blog at SUNY New Paltz.

“I almost peed,” he said. “The most money I’d ever found in a couch was like 50 cents.”

The cash added up to $700, and the roommates started looking for more, tearing through the fold-out and sticking their hands in every crevice. They pulled out envelope after envelope filled with cash, the total eventually adding up to more than $40,000.

Werkhoven, a SUNY New Paltz student, and Guasti and Russo, both recent college grads, began to talk about what they’d do with the money. They planned to pay off student loans and take a trip. Werkhoven told the Little Rebellion he wanted to buy his mom a new car.

But when Russo found a woman’s name on one of the envelopes, they told the blog, they stopped making plans.

“We all agreed that we had to bring the money back to whoever it belonged to,” Russo said. “It’s their money – we didn’t earn it.”

Werkhoven’s mom found the woman’s name and number in a phone book the next day, so they gave her a call. Werkhoven told the woman he thought he had bought her couch from the Salvation Army.

“Oh, I left a lot of money in that couch,” she told him.

The students took the money over the elderly woman’s house, and there she told them that she started stashing money from her husband in the fold-out more than 30 years ago. After he died, she kept hiding away money and slept on the fold-out.

When she had to go to rehabilitation after a back surgery, the woman told them, her daughter and son-in-law gave the couch to the Salvation Army not knowing what was hidden in between the cushions, and replaced it with a full-size bed.

“When we handed the money back to the woman, she told us that she felt like her husband was present in the room with us,” Guasti told the Little Rebellion.

The woman then gave the three roommates $1,000 to split as a reward for returning the money.


Photo Credit: Getty Images

James Blake Runs Tennis Lesson for Students in New Haven Today


Connecticut native and pro-tennis player James Blake will be here in Connecticut today, introducing
hundreds of school children to the game that made him a household name in his home state.

Former ATP World Tour tennis star, who attended Fairfield Warde High School in Fairfield, will host the annual New Haven Open Free Lesson.

Blake will be emphasizing the importance of fitness and encouraging the students to sign up for affordable summer tennis lessons through New Haven Parks & Recreation Department. To date, more than 5,500 New Haven youth have participated in the year-round tennis lessons.

Anne Worcester, the tournament director for the New Haven Open at Yale, will also be in attendance and an announcement about this year's tournament is expected.

In addition, there will also be a major announcement about the tournament.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Hernandez Associate Pleads Not Guilty to Murder


An associate of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez pleaded not guilty while being arraigned on a new murder charge in the shooting death of a man last summer about a mile from Hernandez's Massachusetts home.

Ernest Wallace appeared in superior court in Fall River on Thursday afternoon and entered the plea.

A Bristol County grand jury returned separate indictments last month against Wallace and Carlos Ortiz in the June 2013 killing of 27-year-old semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd. Hernandez, a Bristol, Connecticut native, has pleaded not guilty to murder in the killing of Lloyd.

During the arraignment, Lloyd's family gasped when Wallace entered the not guilty plea, according to NECN.

Lloyd man was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee.

Wallace and Ortiz are both from Hernandez's hometown of Bristol. They have previously pleaded not guilty to accessory charges in the case and are held on $500,000 bail.

Wallace will be back in court on July 7 for a pre-trial conference hearing. 

Ortiz is being arraigned later.


Hero Cat's Family: "Dog Did Not Know What Hit Him"


The family of a Southern California toddler rescued by his pet cat from a vicious dog attack said on NBC's "Today" show that they were surprised by the feline's heroic actions.

“It was pretty amazing to see just a cat take on a dog and so selflessly just put herself out there and not worry about if she was going to get bit or injured herself," said Roger Triantafilo, father of 4-year-old Jeremy. "I think that dog did not know what hit him.”

Jeremy was playing on his bicycle in his driveway in Bakersfield Tuesday when the next door neighbor’s dog sneaked up behind him and began biting his leg, home security camera footage posted to YouTube shows.

The family’s cat, Tara, rushed the dog twice and chased it away.

“It’s honestly just a blur,” Jeremy's mother Erica Triantafilo said on "Today" Thursday of the attack by the 8-month-old labrador-chow mix. “I just remember hearing [Jeremy] and the next thing I know, I see my cat flying out of nowhere, onto this dog."

Jeremy suffered two deep cuts on his leg and received 10 stitches, his parents said. During Thursday's interview, he slept in his mom's arms while Tara played next to him.

“He’s just bouncing back from this. He tells us it feels better, and he’s ready to get out there and run around and play with other kids again,” Erica Triantafilo said.

Roger Triantafilo said he didn’t realize the cat’s role in his son’s rescue until he checked the home surveillance video.

“I was like, ‘Well, you know, I’m going to check the tape and see if we got anything, and see if it even caught what happened," he said. The video went viral Wednesday and had more than five million views on YouTube by Thursday.

The owners of the dog that attacked Jeremy voluntarily brought it to the Bakersfield Animal Care Center where it will be quarantined then euthanized.

The Triantafilos said they never expected that Tara, the stray cat they adopted six years ago, would become their son's savior.

“Every once in a while she puts our dog back into her place, but for the most part, she’s just the most mellow cat you’ve ever met,” Erica Triantafilo said. “All our boys love her and pick on her occasionally. She just loves them right back anyway.”



Avon Police and CL&P Investigate Spoofing Scam


Avon police are working with Connecticut Light & Power to investigate a nationwide spoofing scam targeting businesses in town. 

In the scam, the caller impersonates a power company employee calling about a supposed delinquent bill, Avon police said in a press release. The scammer tells the business that CL&P will shut down power to the building in 45 minutes if the company does not pay the outstanding balance immediately.

Avon police are investigating eight complaints dating back to the beginning of May from local businesses who received one of the scam calls.

In the scam, the caller uses a technique called spoofing that disguises the phone number so that shows up as a real CL&P phone number in caller ID. The scammer then instructs the business to purchase a pre-paid Greed Dot Card debit card at a nearby CVS to make the payment. The card "cannot be tracked as to where the funds are paid to," police said in a press release.

East Windsor police recently reported a similar spoofing scam targeting East Windsor businesses, costing them thousands of dollars when they fell for the ploy of the CL&P impersonator(s). CL&P is aware of the scam, which Northeast Utilities, its parent company, said is happening nationwide.

"Unfortunately, this is a persistent issue we are seeing across the country, with scammers trying to take advantage of utility customers by misrepresenting themselves as employees," Penni Conner, senior vice president and chief customer officer at Northeast Utilities, said in a statement. "We will continue our proactive outreach to remind customers to never give out their personal financial information over the phone."

Police caution businesses that the scammers are able to tell them their exact account numbers and balances, making the call seem authentic.

Northeast Utilities urges customers to call its customer service department at 800-286-2000 if they have received a suspicious call of this nature or to contact police.

The Avon police urges victims of scam calls to contact the department to file a report at 860-409-4200.

Men Admit to Burying Mom Alive: PD


A South Jersey landscaper and his employee told police that they buried a mother of two alive and poured lime on her body before covering her up and leaving her for dead.

Fatima Perez thought she was going to buy a car for $8,000 when landscaper and friend Carlos Alicea-Antonetti picked her up Monday night.

Instead she was headed towards her death.

One of the 41-year-old’s suspected killers led police to a shallow grave near Clayton Road between Corkery Lane and Tuckahoe Road in Monroe Township, N.J. Wednesday morning.

That suspect, Ramon Ortiz, told detectives that he helped his Villa Coamo Landscaping and General Maintenance boss Alicea-Antonetti bury Perez, according to probable cause statement obtained by NBC10.com. Ortiz, 57, also allegedly told police that Perez was alive when they placed her in the hole.

"For a woman of her character and stature to have died in this manner is horrible and very traumatic to her family," said Camden County Prosecutor Warren Faulk.

Investigators say Perez died from asphyxiation and ruled her death a homicide.

Police say Alicea-Antonetti, 36, told investigators that he picked up Perez at her N 41st Street, Camden home on Monday night to take her to get a car she found on Craigslist. At some point the two began to argue and Alicea-Antonetti says Perez fell out of his van during the argument, according to police.

Alicea-Antonetti said Perez was hurt in the fall but still managed to get back in his van. At this point, he told police he picked up his employee, Ortiz, from a job site as Perez laid in the back of the van.

The two men then allegedly tied up Perez and placed duct tape over her mouth and eyes before driving to a wooded area where Ortiz dug a hole, according to Alicea-Antonetti’s statement to police.

Alicea-Antonetti said Perez was still breathing as they poured lime on her body and covered her up. He said Ortiz tried to disguise the shallow grave by placing branches and debris over top.

Ortiz told police that his boss picked him up and that he didn’t even notice Perez at first because she was already tied up in the back of the van. He told police that they drove along Route 42 until Alicea-Antonetti pulled off to a wooded area and directed Ortiz to dig a hole.

Police said Ortiz couldn’t describe the exact location of the grave but that he was able to lead police to the spot, according to investigators.

Investigators said Alicea-Antonetti had about $7,000 on him at the time of his arrest. Perez's family suspects money was the motive behind her murder.

Both Ortiz and Alicea-Antonetti are set to be arraigned in Camden County on Thursday afternoon.

Perez's mother told NBC10 that her daughter came to America from Nicaragua eight years ago for a better life. 

Photo Credit: Camden Police

"Rapist" List Keeps Reappearing at Columbia University


The names of four male Columbia University students are repeatedly appearing on bathroom walls and on fliers at the campus by someone alleging they are "sexual assault violators on campus."

The list first appeared last week, according to The New York Times. It was removed, but has since been redrawn on walls in other women's bathrooms and handed out on fliers headlined "Rapists on Campus."

The fliers say the school has found the men "responsible" for sexual assault.

A group of students filed complaints with the federal Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights last month alleging the school has mishandled claims of sexual assault. The students alleged that school officials tell students who file claims that they can't talk about their cases outside campus.

It's not known if the two are related.

One of the women who filed a federal complaint last month said Thursday she didn't know who was behind the lists but supports the idea.

"We want these rapists off our campus," said Rakhi Agrawal. "We want everyone to know who these people are so that they can keep themselves safe."

The university said Thursday that "graffiti is routinely removed by facilities staff," and said it had no further comment "on the particulars of disciplinary proceedings regarding sexual misconduct."

Students had mixed opinions about the vigilante campaign.

"That's probably well-deserved frustration, I just think there's other ways to handle it," said Alex Carames.

--Michael George contributed to this story

Photo Credit: Bwog.com

FBI Raids Middlebury Volunteer Fire Department


The FBI raided the Middlebury Volunteer Fire Department on Thursday as part of an investigation into reports of mishandled department finances related to fire chief business.

Middlebury Fire Chief Paul Perrotti said that he is not involved in any wrongdoing and that he cooperated fully with the federal agents, providing all of the information they requested.

While Perrotti does not know who filed the complaints, he believes it might have been a vengeful former firefighter at the volunteer department.

The federal agents were at the 65 Tucker Hill Road fire house late Thursday morning as part of the ongoing investigation and left just before noon.

The FBI declined to comment on the details of the investigation.

More information will be provided when it becomes available.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

William & Olivia Are Connecticut’s Most Popular Baby Names


The two most popular baby names in Connecticut last year were William and Olivia.

The U.S. Social Security Administation released the list of names today, based on Social Security card applications.

Last year’s favorite boys’ name in the state, Mason, was bumped to the number two slot. Emma moved from number one last year to number three this year.

Nationwide, the name Noah was the most popular for boys, unseating Jacob, which has been the most popular for 14 years. Sophia was the most popular name for girls for the third year in a row.

Here are the top 10 boy's names in Connecticut:

  1. William: 207   
  2. Mason: 198   
  3. Jacob: 193   
  4. Noah: 192   
  5. Michael: 187 
  6. Liam: 184   
  7. Ethan: 180 
  8. Joseph: 178
  9. Ryan: 171  
  10. Dylan: 169

Here are the top 10 girl's names in Connecticut:

  1. Olivia: 235
  2. Isabella: 230
  3. Emma: 212
  4. Sophia: 210
  5. Ava: 188
  6. Mia: 159
  7. Emily: 151
  8. Charlotte: 135
  9. Madison: 132
  10. Abigail: 112

See the list of the top 100 names here.


Photo Credit: Getty Images
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