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Teen Accused in Fatal School Stabbing to Enter Plea


A Connecticut teen accused of stabbing his classmate to death at a Milford high school, hours before the prom, will enter a plea during a probable cause hearing on Wednesday, police said.

Christopher Plaskon, 17, is accused of fatally stabbing Maren Sanchez, also 16, inside Jonathan Law High School last month in an attack some students said might have been motivated by anger that she would not go to the prom with him.

Plaskon has been charged with murder.

During a court appearance in Many, attorney Richard Meehan said Plaskon's parents wanted to be in court with their son, but he recommended that they stay in seclusion for the court appearance and the teen's uncle was there instead.

"The Plaskons are a very large family, there's a very large extended family here. They have a great deal of community support here. All of their hearts are broken," Meehan said.  

The Plaskons are expected to be at a probable cause hearing set for June, the attorney said.

The Sanchez family also did not attend the court appearance.

Plaskon is being held at Manson Youth Training Institute, a correctional facility in Cheshire for boys and young men between the ages of 12 and 19.

"He is still under psychiatric care. He was released today from the emergency commitment, but he is on medication. He's being actively treated for that. And, as I indicated on the record to the judge, he is still displaying signs of active psychosis," Meehan said during a news conference after the last court appearance.    

Meehan would not comment on his discussions with his client and said any matters of the diagnosis and what it means for the case are medical questions that experts will evaluate.

A probable cause hearing has been set for 10 a.m. on Wednesday, June 4.

Police have said Plaskon was spotted just after the stabbing with blood on his hands and clothing. "I did it. Just arrest me," he told authorities, according to police paperwork released on Tuesday.

Those police documents offered new details of the fatal stabbing and its aftermath.

Police said they recovered a knife in the hallway, not far from where Sanchez was attacked.

One witness reported seeing Plaskon on top of Sanchez and being unable to pull him away from her, according to police. Another witness told police he saw Plaskon throw a bloody knife on a hallway floor shortly after he was removed from the scene.

As a school resource officer was heading to the scene of the attack, he was called to the principal’s office and saw Plaskon, who had blood on his hands and clothing, police said. He asked the teen what happened.

"I did it. Just arrest me," Plaskon said, according to police.

The officer handcuffed Plaskon and then went to the scene of the stabbing, where he found Sanchez in grave condition. Plaskon was taken into police custody, and Sanchez was rushed by ambulance to Bridgeport Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

An autopsy was done and the medical examiner said Sanchez died of stab wounds to the torso and neck. Her death was ruled a homicide.

Plaskon was held in a psychiatric facility after the stabbing, where he was placed on one-on-one suicide watch, which means that he was under constant supervision. He was released from that facility and has been charged as an adult.

Meehan said that Plaskon will continue to receive psychiatric care and medication.

Meehan said Plaskon was placed in the infirmary at the Cheshire institution, receive medication and remain on suicide watch.

Bond has been set at $3 million.

When asked if the trial in this high-profile case could be held here, Kevin Lawlor, State's Attorney for the Judicial District of Ansonia-Milford, said he thinks so.

“I think the law is pretty clear on change of venue,” he said. “In the Internet age, where all of you have this all over the United States in a matter of minutes, in a small state like Connecticut, change of venue really doesn’t amount to a whole heck of a lot.”  

When asked about motive, Lawlor said he could not speak to it and the investigation is ongoing.

“Those types of conclusions, I think, will be made further on down the line as we gather all of the facts as the Milford Police Department and other law enforcement agencies find them,” Lawlor said.  

 Plaskon’s family expressed sympathies for the Sanchez family in a statement released on Tuesday afternoon.

"In prayer we ask for comfort for the Sanchez family and all of us so deeply affected by this tragedy," the Plaskon family said. "We pray for the wisdom to guide us as we desperately try to pull together the shattered pieces of our families. And finally, we pray that time may soften our wounds and reveal forgiveness in the hearts of all."

Brooklyn Needs New Security Habits: Report


Schools in Brooklyn, need to change habits when it comes to school security rather than invest in new equipment, the Norwich Bulletin reports, citing a recent State Police security assessment.

A state police unit that reviews security of schools assessed facilities and noted problems, including doors and windows that were left propped open, the Bulletin reports.

“We need to think about how much we can do by just changing the habits of people and getting everyone to look at the issue with a different point of view than they did previously,” Supt. Louise Berry told the Bulletin. “Equipment might be helpful, but that would not be the first step.”

The superintendent will put together a ereport based on the findings.

Person of Interest Sought After Meriden Fire


Meriden police are trying to identify a man seen with a gas can at the scene of a two-alarm fire at Violi's Restaurant at Hunter Golf Club in Meriden early Monday morning. They are calling him a person of interest.

The fire was reported at 3 a.m., when someone driving by noticed the flames and called it in, police said this morning. 

The flames were only on the outside of the restaurant.

As the investigation began, Meriden's fire marshal suspected that the cause of the fire was a faulty mechanical issue with one of the golf carts that had been charging at the side of the building.

But, police noticed a suspicious man when they viewed surveillance video from a camera.

The video, with a timestamp of 2:58 a.m. on Monday, shows a man carrying what appears to be a gas can, as well as an additional.

He was wearing a baseball cap and glasses and might have been on a cell phone.

The restaurant is closed after the fire damaged the outside of the building and firefighters tore the roof apart to keep the fire from spreading.

Linda Barefoot's daughter was supposed to be getting married there in two weeks.

"We were just here last week, getting measurements for different things for decorations. Now, it's like shocking," Barefoot said.

Berlin and Wallingford firefighters were brought in as mutual aid.

No one was injured in the fire.

Police ask anyone who recognized the person of interest to call Detective Gonzalez at (203) 630-6318


Case Continued for Ex-Student Accused of Quinnipiac Graduation Bomb Threats


A former Quinnipiac University student accused of making bomb threats at graduation to keep her family from learning she'd dropped out appeared in court on Monday and the case was continued.

Police said Danielle Shea, 22, of Quincy, Massachusetts, dropped out of school but still collected thousands of dollars in tuition money from her mother. She was arrested in her cap and gown after allegedly calling in a pair of bomb threats before a graduation ceremony.

Shea confessed to them that she called in the two bomb threats to Quinnipiac University to try to cancel the graduation ceremony at the College of Arts and Sciences, according to police. 
When she was arraigned in May, the judge said she made a "big mistake." On Monday, she appeared in Meriden Superior Court with her attorney and her mother. No one commented outside court.
Shea had paid for a cap and gown for the ceremony, but panicked when her relatives did not see her name on the graduation roster, according to a news release from police.
Police said that Shea called Quinnipiac University Public Safety at 5:38 p.m. and said that there was a “bomb in the library”
Then, she called again 17 minutes later from a blocked telephone saying, “Several bombs are on campus. You haven't cleared out graduation. That is not a good idea," according to the incident report.
Hamden police and public safety searched the library and found nothing. After the second threat was called in, Quinnipiac’s administrative staff made the decision to relocate the graduation ceremony to the TD Bank Sports Arena at the school’s York Hill Campus. The ceremony was delayed for about an hour and a half.
Hamden Police and Quinnipiac University Public Safety were able to identify the telephone number from which the call originated.
University records indicated that the telephone number was Shea’s, police said. Shortly thereafter, Hamden Police found her inside of the TD Bank Sports Complex. She was dressed in a cap and gown. After further investigation, Shea was arrested and transported to Hamden Police Headquarters.
Hamden Police detectives obtained a detailed confession from Shea and learned that she did not attend Quinnipiac University this year, police said.
She told police that she did not place a bomb, did not have a weapon and had no intention of harming anyone, but was embarrassed that she was not graduating, according to the incident report.
Police said in a news release that Shea’s mother paid her thousands of dollars this year, money she thought was for her daughter’s education.
According to the incident report, Shea told police she was a Quinnipiac student at the beginning of the 2013-2014 academic year, but had trouble registering for classes because of a delinquent balance.
She said did not notify her mother and tried to rectify the situation, but was not able to and could not register for classes in the spring of 2014, according to police. 
But Quinnipiac said Shea hadn't been in school since May of last year and she only has enough credits to be a sophomore.
Shea, who has no criminal history, was charged with first-degree threatening and falsely reporting an incident.
She was detained at police headquarters on a $20,000 bond. When she appeared in court in Meriden last month, the public defender and prosecutor agreed on a promise to appear, but the judge set bond at $10,000.

Family members posted bond but Shea offered no comment as she and her mother left the courthouse. The case has been continued until July 7.

Photo Credit: From Pool Video

Driver from Farmington Head-On Crash Dies


A driver who was involved in a head-on crash on Route 4 in Farmington May 12 has died, according to police.

A white four-door sedan, driven by Michael R. Carroll, 58, of Hartford, and a tan pickup truck, driven by Randolph A. Morgan, 58, of Bristol, collided near Mountain Spring Road on that Monday morning.

Carroll died on May 31 at Hartford Hospital, police said.

Police said they received several 911 calls reporting the crash just before 10:30 a.m. that day.

Carroll was severely injured and was not responding to emergency crews on scene, police said.

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

Morgan did not have any obvious injuries but was brought by ambulance to Hartford Hospital as a precaution. He was treated and released.

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

The road was closed from the Interstate 84 exit to Mountain Spring Road while police investigated.

Farmington police ask witnesses or anyone with further information on the crash to call the department at 860-675-2400.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

17 Injured When Bus and Truck Collide on I-84


Seventeen people are going to a hospital to be evaluated after a bus and a tractor-trailer crashed on Interstate 84 West in Southbury on Monday afternoon.

The crash happened just before noon and the bus is carrying 48 people on an eighth- grade trip, according to state police.

The injuries do not appear to be severe, state police said.  No information was immediately available on where the students are from.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Street Sweeper Crashes into House


A street sweeper crashed into a New Jersey home Monday morning after a country club worker set a leaf blower in its cab and the tool disengaged the parking brake, police said. 

The 48-year-old worker had parked the sweeper on a hill on Indian Terrace in Sparta while he used the leaf blower nearby.

Police said when he set the blower in the sweeper's cab, it freed the parking brake and sent the 28,000-pound truck rolling down the hill, where it crossed a road, smashed a mailbox and careened into a house.

No one was in the home, but it suffered extensive damage, police said.

The worker hurt his knee chasing after the sweeper.

Missing Vernon Girl Found


A 17-year-old Vernon girl who police said might be endangered has been found and is safe.

Amanda Nadeau had been missing since Sunday, when she was last seen in the Bushnell Park area of Hartford to attend the Greater Hartford Puerto Rican Day Parade.
Text messages Amanda sent to friends, indicate that she might be endangered, police said.

Police said Amanda was located in Hartford. 

Photo Credit: Vernon Police

Bookkeeper Stole $830K from Veterans Organization: Police


The bookkeeper of a national veterans organization is accused of stealing more than $800,000 from the organization and using company credit cards for her personal airfare, vacations, and Internet purchases. 

Cynthia Tanner appeared in court on Monday, where bond was set at $500,000.

In late May, the president of the National Veteran Services Fund called Darien police to report embezzlement after an accounting firm discovered irregularities in the company’s financial statements, police said.

The National Veteran Services Fund released a statement saying they worked with their CPAs after the audit revealed issues, contacted an attorney and met with Darien Police. 

"The matter is in the hands of the authorities for action and therefore we have no further comment at this time," and e-mailed statement from Phil Kraft, executive director of the fund, says.

Investigators said Tanner is accused of embezzling more than $830,000 from the organization’s checking account alone over a five-year span.

The charges, however, are just for what she is accused of embezzling in 2013. Police said Tanner is accused of writing 135 unauthorized checks in 2013 for more $185,000, made payable to herself and her family members. 

Tanner had worked for the National Veteran Services Fund since 2008 and was responsible for payroll and disbursing funds to the charity’s clients, according to police. 

The fund, based in Darien, accepts donations to help veterans and their families across the country and used the money to pay for wheelchairs, scooters and ramps for veterans.

They have also paid utility bills for veterans and their families in danger of homelessness, as well as provided temporary housing.

The fund has also provided veterans with snow tires, dentures and a veterinary bill for a veteran’s companion animal. 

Police said Tanner is accused of writing checks from the fund to pay herself money she was not entitled to, as well as checks to relatives. 

However, she fabricated the financial ledger to indicate the checks were written to veterans or clients of the fund, police said.

Tanner turned herself in to police on Monday.  She has been charged with first-degree larceny. She  was being held on a $250,000 court-set bond, but that amount was doubled. She is due in court on June 30. 

Her attorney did not comment on the allegations and said he needs more time to speak with his client. 

Tanner was arraigned in Stamford Superior Court on Monday and is due back in court on June 30.

Police said more arrests are expected.


Photo Credit: Darien Police

Citizens Bank Confirms Layoffs in Bridgeport


A Bridgeport bank is planning layoffs.

Citizens Bank filed information with the Connecticut Department of Labor on May 29 stating that the company will be eliminating 125 positions between Aug. 1 and Oct. 24.

A company spokesman provided confirmation of staff reduction plans.

“As part of an effort to manage costs and improve efficiency, we are eliminating some positions in our Bridgeport office," Jim Hughes, a spokesman for Citizens Bank, said. We are working closely with impacted colleagues to provide severance benefits and outplacement and career assistance. Eligible colleagues also will be given priority consideration for open positions.”

The Bridgeport location will remain open, according to the Department of Labor.




Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Assault Victim's Family Outraged Over Attack


Emotions ran high outside New Haven Superior Court Monday with the family of Francisco Rey, 66, outraged about the attack Friday that left him on life support.

“You took a grandfather, a buddy, everybody out here loves him,” said Maisonet Francisco Rey, his son.

According to police, around 8 p.m. Friday, two men attacked Rey and knocked him unconscious.

“I see my father's feet, I turned him over and he was bleeding from his eyes and nose and mouth,” said his son.

Police arrested Todd Traver and Christopher Lavigne, both from Waterbury. The two men were arraigned Monday and were each held on $500,000 for this alleged assault. Their families said this was a misunderstanding among three intoxicated men.

“My husband was like 'please get away from my daughter' and the old man wouldn't get away from her, so he grabbed my husband, and my husband just pushed him, and I guess he hit himself in the head,” said Stephanie Rosario, the wife of Todd Traver.

The alleged assault was just one of three acts of violence in New Haven over the weekend. Police say a 57-year-old woman was shot while driving on Dixwell Avenue, and detectives were shot at while executing a search warrant at a Presidential Gardens apartment on Dixwell Avenue.

“You can't control these guns, so it's best just not to use them, so I'm asking for people in our community to help us identify the people in our community who are using weapons, let's get them off the street, and let's get the weapons off the street,” said New Haven Mayor Toni Harp.

Mayor Harp says the City will soon partner with Yale New Haven Hospital to have a Gun Buy Back program for New Haven.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

New Haven Schools to Make Budget Cuts


New Haven Public Schools will have to figure out where it can cut $4.5 million dollars for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

“When we started this budget process, we request $5.3 million from the city in order to plug the gap to our operations,” Superintendent of Schools Garth Harries said.

The school district did get about $800,000 from the state, but the rest of the budget was flat-funded, leaving the district with a $4.5 million gap.

“We will look to make sure that the cuts happen as far away from direct services as possible. Obviously, this is why we're all here, to make sure the kids learn, and kids need those experiences, so we'll look outside of classrooms, we'll look at Central Office,” Harries said.

They'll also be looking at under-enrolled classrooms, similar to last year's closure of middle school classrooms at two schools. Closing two daycares at the end of this month is already providing some savings. The district also ended the Renaissance contract at Roberto Clemente, which will also save money. The state has given money toward the school construction project, but other than that funding, it doesn't look like any additional state funds are available right now.

“Unfortunately, the budget was passed by the Board of Aldermen after the State had passed the budget already, and as a result, the Board made the decision to reduce the funding to the New Haven Board of Education,” said New Haven Mayor Toni Harp.

Hundreds Mourn 3 Slain Little Girls


Hundreds of family members and friends gathered Monday as they laid to rest their "Coronado Angels," three young Southern California girls who died last month, allegedly at the hands of their mother.

The girls' mother, 30-year-old Carol Coronado, pleaded not guilty to murder charges last week in the slayings of her three girls, 2-year-old Sophia, 1-year-old Yazmine and 3-month-old Xenia.

Coronado is accused of stabbing the children to death before trying to kill her own mother and then herself in their Torrance home on May 20, police said.

"They were so beautiful, so little, so innocent, so much fun, so full of life," the girls' godfather John Carrion said. "It's just a shame that they had to go this way."

Family members at the mass said they hoped the girls would be remembered as the innocent, happy babies they would always cherish.

"They all had their own personalities, but they were always happy," the girls' godmother Rose Deleon said. "They were always happy, they were always laughing, they were always playing with each other."

After the Monday mass in Gardena, the girls, called the "Coronado Angels," were laid to rest at the burial site in Rancho Palos Verdes.

"Look up at the sky at night," said the girls' father, Rudy Coronado. "When you see the three shiniest stars, that's them."

Mourners released pink and while balloons into the sky after the burial.

"Now they are everybody's babies, you know, not just ours," Carrion said. "They are going to bring a lot of things together. I'm hurting because they're gone, but I'm so glad that it's not going to be in vain."

The family has set up the Coronado Angel Fund to help with other costs and for bringing awareness to postpartum depression.

"We wanted to draw attention to the issue of postpartum depression and psychosis," family attorney Stephen Allen said during Carol's court appearance on May 29. "I think that more needs to be done to diagnose this type of disorder."

A family spokesperson said Carol showed signs of postpartum depression but her family did not know how to recognize the signs or how to help at the time.

Anyone who wants to contribute can donate to the Coronado Angel Fund with Wells Fargo account number 3842930731.

Mandatory Pregnancy Test Challenged


The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California sued the Alameda County Sheriff's Office on Monday over a policy that requires every woman in its custody younger than 60 to submit to a pregnancy test — a practice the ACLU says violates women's right to privacy and amounts to unlawful search.

"We wrote the jail a few years back now," Elizabeth Gill, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Northern California, said in an interview. "And they just haven't given us a good answer. They refused to change."

Gill said that this lawsuit is the first of its kind in the state of California.

Alameda County Sheriff's spokesperson Sgt. J.D. Nelson said the department has not yet been served the lawsuit.

The suit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, was filed on behalf of three women — one who was demonstrating at Oscar Grant protest, a political activist and a "Jane Doe" who was arrested after a traffic stop last month.

  • Susan Harman, 69, was arrested in July 2010 during an Oscar Grant political demonstration in Oakland and was taken to jail. She is a diabetic and never got insulin, though she did receive a pregnancy test, the lawsuit alleges. She was never charged with a crime, and never told of her pregnancy status, according to the suit. Harman said in the suit that administering pregnancy tests to all women is an "abuse of government power and a waste of tax dollars."
  • Nancy Mancias was also arrested at political demonstration in 2012 and was given a pregnancy test, the lawsuit alleges. Mancias said she was even more embarrassed because she had tried to become pregnant but been unable to do so. She said in the suit that she found the compulsory test "inappropriate" and "invasive."
  • An anonymous woman identified as Jane Doe was given a pregnancy test on a charge of obstructing a peace officer during a traffic stop last month, according to the suit. She has two children and knew she was not pregnant, the suit alleges.

Gill contends that the pregnancy testing policy violates both arrestees’ constitutional rights and state law, under which every person, including those in the custody of California’s prisons and jails, has the legal right to refuse medical care.

The pregnancy tests administered to women in custody don't seem to be related to providing healthcare, Gill said, and women are not allowed to refuse the tests.

In San Francisco, women who are arrested are given the option to take a pregnancy test as a part of a broader medical screening but can decline after meeting with a medical professional, according to the ACLU.

“If the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department is genuinely concerned about the health of women in their custody, voluntary pregnancy testing should be administered as part of a comprehensive health exam,” Gill said. “Forcing a woman to take a pregnancy test is a clear violation of a person’s constitutional rights, as well as a violation of other state law.”
The ACLU of Northern California filed the suit with pro bono assistance from the law firm of Covington & Burling LLP.

Woman Pays to Bury Homeless Man


A woman who befriended a homeless man on the Upper East Side more than a decade ago paid thousands of dollars out of her pocket for his funeral.

Juanita Vega developed a special bond with Richard Coleman over the past 11 years, becoming attached to him because he slept outside the bank where she worked. She talked to him each day while walking into work, according to her boyfriend. 

"He was a fixture in the neighborhood," said Thomas Valek. "People knew him from First all the way to Lexington." 

Coleman, known in the area as "Smokey," slept and lived in the East 70s between York and Lexington, according to neighbors. 

"He never bothered anybody, he was always hanging out outside," said Thomas Elmehdi, a restaurant employee in the neighborhood. "He asked sometimes for a water or something, and we always give it to him." 

Coleman died on April 16, and Vega, who declined an on-camera interview, did not find out until mid-May. That's when she and Valek decided to move quickly to give him a proper burial. 

"It had to come down to the 11th hour, when they were going to send him to potter's field," said Valek. "She didn't want him to go there. It's just really not a nice place." 

Because Valek works at a funeral home, he was able to get Coleman's body released to him, even though they weren't related. The funeral home provided the casket, but Vega paid $2,000 out of her own pocket. 

Coleman was laid to rest at Rosemont Memorial Park in Elizabeth, N.J., in a simple, private ceremony. 

Explosive Arrest Caps 3-Day Manhunt


The San Francisco media consultant at the center of a national FBI manhunt has been arrested, FBI officials tell NBC Bay Area, capping a three-day manhunt that reached far beyond the Bay Area.

The FBI had been looking for Ryan Kelly Chamberlain II, 42, a well-known social media expert and political consultant, since Saturday, when sources said FBI officials discovered explosives and a chemical that can be deadly in his Russian Hill apartment on Polk Street.

San Francisco police arrested Chamberlain at 6:22 p.m. after officers on routine patrol at Crissy Field spotted a white Nissan and recognized the plates, according to sources close to the investigation.

Chamberlain did not resist arrest.

Police and FBI agents at about 6:40 p.m. began searching Chamberlain's car to make sure no explosives were in the vehicle. A bomb squad was also seen using a robot to search the car.

Earlier in the day, FBI officials confirmed a "credible sighting" of Chamberlain at about 4 p.m. at the Mad Dog in the Fog bar in San Francisco's Haight district. A person spotted Chamberlain and called 911, according to the FBI.

Agents responded to the area and were conducting interviews late Monday afternoon.

Officials had earlier called Chamberlain "armed and dangerous," but on Monday, two sources told NBC News that Chamberlain was no longer considered an immediate threat to public safety, hours after an apparent suicide note and a tweet from the man's accounts appeared online.

A message posted Monday to a Twitter account carrying Chamberlain's name said "nothing they're reporting is true." 

An apparent suicide note titled “Goodbye” was also posted to an iCloud account. The source of both messages could not be independently verified by NBC Bay Area, and the FBI declined to comment on the three-page letter, timed to go out on Monday through the social media management system Hootsuite. 

Various media outlets, including SF Weekly, reported that the note was sent out on Facebook. But by noon on Monday, that note was not on Chamberlain's Facebook page, though several posters were referencing it and sending out the iCloud link.

The note discusses Chamberlain's depression, his mother, whom it calls a "religious addict," and a time in 2003 when he was "left out" of getting any credit for helping California's Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom win his San Francisco mayoral seat in 2003.

The letter also discussed his two needs in life: "A person and a purpose." "All I ever wanted was someone to be madly in love with," the letter states. "Everyone wants that. Lots of people get it. But it always eluded me."

The letter says that if anyone was reading the note, which he said was posted on Hootsuite delay, "that means we probably don't know each other anymore, and I owe everyone an explanation."

The two sources told NBC News that the FBI, taking an abundance of caution, issued a nationwide alert to federal, state and local law enforcement to make sure officers are aware of and take a "defensive posture" in dealing with Chamberlain, given the explosive materials recovered from his home Saturday.

In addition, the sources told NBC News that Chamberlain has family in multiple states, so they wanted to cast a broad net, though they thought he most likely was still in Northern California. 

FBI spokesman Peter Lee said Sunday, in an effort to dispel some rumors, that agents had not found any ricin or other chemical or biological threats in the home. "He did possess explosives at his residence," however, Lee added.

Mark Mosher, creative director of San Francisco consulting firm BMWL, said Chamberlain had been hired by almost every local political consulting firm at one point or another. He has known Chamberlain through years of working on various campaigns together.

"I think for somebody to post publicly that this is a misunderstanding," Mosher said. "They ought to give him room to try to turn himself in and work it out."

During the 2012 NFL season, Chamberlain was an independent contractor for the San Francisco Chronicle and tweeted and posted links to Facebook to boost coverage for the San Francisco 49ers Insider iPad app, according to the Chronicle.

Most recently, he worked in public relations for several Bay Area tech, apparel and marketing companies.

Chamberlain, a Bay Area native, attended Iowa State University before embarking on a career as a music journalist in Des Moines, according to his online resume. He later moved to San Francisco, and at age 30, he made a bid for a spot on the Republican Party County Central Committee in San Francisco, an organization that governs the local party and doles out critical endorsements.

The past chair of the San Francisco Republican Party, Howard Epstein, told NBC Bay Area, however, that Chamberlain had switched parties and become a Democrat.

Epstein said he was absolutely stunned at the news surrounding Chamberlain.

“To have the explosives and all that is just totally mind-boggling to me,” Epstein said. “I’m hoping that he turns himself in. I hope he doesn’t get into any more trouble. I don’t know what he’s thinking. I don’t know what he’s been doing the last few years, what’s going on in his head. I’m just hoping that this all comes out and nobody gets hurt.”

NBC News' Andrew Blankstein and NBC Bay Area's Diane Dwyer, Riya Bhatterjee, Vince Cestone, Kimberly Tere and Kristofer Noceda contributed to this report. 

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

Video: Florida Cop Tackles Cyclist


Fort Lauderdale police say that video that shows an officer tackling a bicyclist during a Critical Mass cycling advocacy ride Friday doesn't tell the full story of the confrontation.

Dan Littell says police used excessive force when they arrested him on East Las Olas Boulevard during the monthly ride to promote cycling awareness. YouTube video appears to show an officer knocking him off his bike and holding him to the ground.

"Keep in mind just because an officer is captured on video using force, that footage alone is not conclusive that the officer’s actions were not justified," Fort Lauderdale Police spokeswoman Det. DeAnna Greenlaw said in a statement Monday. "Obviously, the video in question does not capture all of the events that took place leading up to the physical arrest, and we ask that the media and the public not make premature conclusions."

Littell said a Fort Lauderdale Police cruiser was speeding next to the cyclists on the bridge, a dangerous spot for the bike riders.

"I yelled, 'Please slow down, we're on bikes here,'" Littell said.

He said the officer ignored him, so he pulled into the left lane from the right lane, where other cyclists were pedaling, and pulled in front of the police car.

"To block them to slow them down," Littell said. "Because they weren't slowing down... They were driving recklessly."

Police, meanwhile, said Littell was confrontational and started giving them the middle finger as he cut them off. According to the arrest report, the officers were operating in an emergency capacity to assist other officers and had repeatedly told Littell to move into his assigned lane.

"There were several opportunities given to this individual to stop his behavior," said Fort Lauderdale Police Captain Frank Sousa.

Littell disobeyed commands to move to the sidewalk from the officers and attempted to block the patrol vehicle, telling the officers "go ahead and hit me," the police report said.

"When you're putting yourself in a situation that oculd harm yourself or an officer, there had to be action taken," Captain Sousa said.

One of the officers admitted in the report to having grabbed Littell and pushed him to the ground. Video uploaded to YouTube by another cyclist shows the moment Littell was arrested.

"I finally did stop, and they were stopped too," Littell said. "He could have come over and talked to me. I wasn't trying to run away or do anything crazy."

Littell was later charged with obstruction, failure to obey a law enforcement officer, improper lane change, failure to yield and impeding traffic.

The Fort Lauderdale Police Department said it is conducting an administrative investigation. Police also said they take it upon themselves to help riders maneuver through the city during Critical Mass but that some riders are disrespectful and hard to maneuver.

Photo Credit: NBC 6 South Florida

Accused SoCal Arsonist Faces Trial


The man who faces arson charges in connection to May’s destructive San Diego firestorm will stand trial, a judge determined Monday.

At his preliminary hearing, Alberto Serrato, 57, was bound over for trial on a charge of arson during a state of emergency. That count is an enhancement over a regular arson charge and carries a longer sentence if he is convicted.

During the hearing, Oceanside Police Officer Frank McCutcheon testified that Serrato tried to rekindle embers from the San Luis Rey Riverbed Fire in Oceanside on May 14, right after firefighters had doused the area.

When they drove up to the 5200 block of North River Road, McCutcheon says he and his partner saw Serrato gathering sage brush.

“And he throws the dead brush down onto where it appeared the smoke was coming from,” the officer told the court.

He said they saw the suspect add fuel to the fire at least twice.

“We see a fire start again and engulf the tree with flames, probably growing higher than 10 feet,” said McCutcheon. “It was seconds; it was pretty quick.”

Soon after, the officers took Serrato into custody and booked him into jail.

Serrato’s defense attorney pointed out McCutcheon had written in his police report that the fire diminished down quickly and did not spread, which the officer conceded was true.

The defense and Serrato’s family argues it was not brush that Serrato was throwing on the flames.

“He was over there and he was throwing dirt on the fire to try to get it out," said Traci Phebus Serrato, the defendant’s sister-in-law.

She told NBC 7 that Serrato is being targeted because of his name and prior affiliation with a gang.

"He hasn't been in trouble [in] so long. Why would he do something to get back into that type of trouble? There's no way,” she said.

Serrato’s attorney said he denies each and every allegation against him when the judge ordered he be bound over. His trial is scheduled for July 22.

If convicted, Serrato faces up to 13 years in prison because of the arson charge's enhancement and prior convictions.

The prosecution says the defendant was on probation at the time of the alleged incident.

The San Luis Rey Riverbed Fire was one of eight blazes to pop up across the North County between late morning and sundown on May 14, raising the suspicion that some had been started intentionally.

Oceanside is the first community to bring charges against anyone in connection to the fires. Serrato has not been connected to any of the other blazes.

Hartford HealthCare Announces 350 Layoffs


Hartford HealthCare will be eliminating about 350 jobs during the next month, according to a Monday letter to staff from the organization's chief operating officer.

The decision is part of Hartford HealthCare's efforts to be proactive in meeting a national mandate to make health care more affordable while adjusting to reductions in government funding, according to Hartford HealthCare officials.

"Senior leadership team members, including the regional presidents, have come to this difficult decision because of the absolute necessity to protect our organization’s financial strength," Jeff Flaks, chief operating officer for Hartford HealthCare, wrote in a letter to company employees. "That strength comes, in part, from a solid financial foundation. We are focused on creating a more cost-efficient organization. We have reduced and targeted more than $200 million in nonstaff costs through HHC Thrive and other initiatives. However, we have to ensure that our staff size is appropriate to our patient volumes and the current economic conditions."

Hartford HealthCare has spent the last year working to become more efficient and cut costs in efforts to make health care more affordable and needs to reduce spending further to continue on the path of savings, according to a statement from Hartford HealthCare.

"Realistically, workforce reductions – such as the one announced today – are included," Hartford HealthCare officials said in a statement. "We are working to build a system that is engineered to deliver care more affordably. This includes investments in ambulatory centers, in technology – such as our enterprise-wide electronic medical record. We are also creating strategic partnerships, providing our patients with greater access to highest quality of care. Examples include our Cancer Institute’s membership in the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance, and our clinical affiliation with CVS Caremark."

Federal funding for hospitals is expected to decline by 25 percent at most by 2020, according to Flaks. Officials said that while times are difficult for hospitals in Connecticut and nationwide, the organization wants to remain dedicated to patients.

Flaks recognized the contributions of the employees whose positions will be eliminated and said Hartford HealthCare leadership will "provide departing colleagues with appropriate support and assistance."

"I have asked senior leaders to move swiftly to ensure that the period of uncertainty for staffs will be as short as possible," he said.

He praised Hartford HealthCare's growth in primary care and ambulance networks and said the organization needs to cut costs while investing in technology, facility and new health care roles in order to succeed.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Sister of Family Dollar Store Shooting Victim Shares Story


Julisa Rentas' older sister, Sharon Rentas, remains in the hospital fighting for her life after a shooting in a Hartford Family Dollar Store.

It's been more than a  week since Hartford police say the victim's husband, 51-year-old Elvin Perez-Soto, shot her inside the Park Street store before turning the gun on himself.

"I knew he was abusive, but I never thought it would get to this point," Julisa Rentas said.

According to police, Perez-Soto is a convicted felon not allowed to possess or own a firearm. He now faces several charges including attempted murder.

"She was going to the store, and she was going to pick something up from [Perez-Soto's] son," said Rentas. "Either she was followed or he was waiting for her. They were arguing."

An employee of the Family Dollar Store told NBC Connecticut that the suspect's son used to work at the store but was not there during the shooting.

A police report reveals the mother of three had applied for a restraining order two days before the attack. Rentas says her sister also began divorce proceedings in court.

"She was just pretty much saying that she had it, she's got to move on," said Rentas.

Before that moment Rentas says her sister dealt with years of abuse in her nearly 12 years of marriage.

"She was really in love with him," said Rentas. "It didn't matter how many times we told her to please get out of the relationship."

Karen Jarmoc, executive director for the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said that some of the most dangerous times for victims of abuse is following a breakup or a court date.

"I know this might sound strange for people to hear, but they don't always view themselves as a victim of domestic violence. It's their life. It's a circumstance they have to deal with on a daily basis," Jarmoc said.

Rentas hopes telling her sister's story can convince others to seek help before it's too late.

"This is a pattern. We told my sister many, many times, 'You need to get away from him,'" said Rentas.

For anyone who is a victim of domestic violence or knows someone who is, Jarmoc says there are many resources available. You can go to the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence website to find resources and get more information about domestic violence:

You can also call the Connecticut Domestic Violence Hotline at 888.774.2900.
It's free, confidential, and available 24/7.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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