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New Details of Hit-and-Run That Killed Teen in 2012


New details are emerging about a hit-and-run that killed a teenage girl nearly two years ago in Middletown.

The complete initial investigation has just been released, and explains that four vehicles, including a semi-truck, ran over 15-year-old Cailyn Bassett and never stopped or called police.

“It's heartbreaking to know that nobody stopped," said Bassett's mother, Stephanie Phillips. "I don't understand why.”

She is fighting to know more about the crash that killed her daughter.

“Not a day goes by when I think of her,” Bassett explained.

It happened December 2012 in Middletown. The teen was walking to Bible study when she was struck in the area of Saybrook Road and Coe Avenue.

Almost two years later, no one has been arrested in connection with the crash.

The initial investigation provides new insight into what happened that night.

According to the report, a semi-truck initially hit Bassett, then three other cars ran her over and kept driving. Those vehicles involved have now been identified and so have the drivers.

“I want to know how they feel that was our child,” Phillips said.

Middletown police said it’s possible those drivers didn’t realize they had hit someone. It was dark and rainy, and Bassett was wearing dark clothing.

Phillips has her doubts.

“I know if I hit something if I travel a road every single day you know the road you know the speed bumps there are no bumps over there,” she explained.

The final investigation is not complete, and police said they can’t take action until they have concrete answers. They’re expecting results by the end of the summer.

Coyotes Attack Family Pets in Waterford


Coyotes may be responsible for dozens of missing pets, and Waterford residents are on alert.

"I actually woke up to the cat screaming," said Waterford resident Jennifer Hansen.

It was a terrifying moment when Hansen saw the family's 1-year-old cat, Timber, being attacked by a large coyote in the backyard of her Niantic River Road home.

"The coyote picked her up. She got away from it, and then it grabbed her again and took off," said Hansen.

It's a problem many places in Connecticut are seeing as coyotes become more bold. In the last couple of years Waterford and East Lyme Animal Control say coyotes have become more prevalent in their area.

"People's cats and small dogs, if they're left unattended, sadly, they become part of the food chain also," said Waterford and East Lyme Animal Control Officer Robert Yuchniuk.

Two Waterford pets have been killed over the past two weeks, including one on North Road. Friends say Buddy the Chihuahua was grabbed from a backyard when family members went inside for just a moment.

"The coyote was in the woods, and it took Buddy. And we could hear him squealing," said Tori Barber.

Animal Control says dozens of cats have also disappeared with the office receiving three or four reports a week, and there's a good chance coyotes are to blame.

Neighbors are concerned that children playing in the yard could be a target as well, but officials say that's not the case.

"There shouldn't be a problem with children or people. They should have a healthy fear of humans," said Yuchniuk.

It's a situation that has many on edge as they keep a closer eye on pets.

Animal Control says there's not a lot they can do about the coyotes, but they do have several tips on how to protect your pets.

You should keep them inside if you can. If you have to take them out, keep them on a leash. It's also a good idea to turn on floodlights and make some noise to scare them away.

Photo Credit: NBCChicago.com

CA Sen. Charged With Racketeering


The government has added new charges in the high-profile corruption case against suspended state Sen. Leland Yee, Chinatown association leader Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow and 27 others.

Yee and Chow are both accused of racketeering, or running a continuing criminal enterprise, in the revised grand jury indictment unveiled late Thursday, in two separate counts of the indictment.

Yee, a Democrat who represented parts of San Francisco and San Mateo County, is charged together with former San Francisco school board president Keith Jackson with racketeering by soliciting bribes and campaign contributions in exchange for political favors by Yee.

Chow is accused together with Jackson and 15 other defendants of racketeering by allegedly running drug sales, money laundering, gun sales and schemes to buy stolen property through an alleged criminal faction of the Chee Kung Tong, a fraternal association.

Chow is the dragonhead or leader of the Chee Kung Tong, based in Chinatown in San Francisco.

The racketeering counts carry a possible maximum penalty of 20 years in prison upon conviction.

Legal analyst Dean Johnson says that means everyone in the case is looking at the potential for serious prison time.

“I think some of these people who are currently names as defendants might very well turn up later as government witnesses,” Johnson said.

One who will not be taking a deal is Chow. His attorney Curtis Briggs said Chow is a reformed gangster who has been swept up in the FBI’s three-year undercover investigation.

Briggs said the whole raft of crimes detailed by the feds is a fabrication by FBI agents.

“Anything these informants can say that would actually hurt – there is no evidence to support any statements,” Briggs said.

The new indictment is actually good news for Chow, Briggs said. “For them to come out with a superseding indictment that essentially alleges the same facts as the original indictment is a sign of weakness in their prosecution.”

The 88-page revised indictment, known as a superseding indictment, contains a total of 228 counts against various of the defendants. It repeats a number of charges in an earlier indictment, including a charge that Yee, Jackson and Daly City dentist Wilson Lim conspired in a never-completed international arms deal.

One other interesting detail: Leland Yee is accused of trying to get an NFL owner to pony up $60,000 in exchange for limiting a player’s ability to make a workman’s comp claim in California.

A status conference is scheduled for Aug. 7 in San Francisco before U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, the trial judge assigned to the case.


Bay City News contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: AP

Terrorist Threat at Surf Event


A 16-year-old boy was arrested Friday after he allegedly threatened violence at the Vans US Open of Surfing this weekend.

The teen had made the threat via social media on Thursday and Huntington Beach Police found out about it the next day. Investigators determined that the threat appeared credible and served a search warrant at the teen’s home.

Police discovered a handgun and a shotgun at the home, and the teen was then arrested on a terrorist threats charge.

Investigators have seized all of the suspect’s electronic devices and are looking through them for additional evidence.

Police said that due to the ongoing investigation, they are not releasing details about the social media platform used or what threats were made.

The US Open of Surfing kicks off in Huntington Beach Saturday at 8 a.m.


Photo Credit: San Diego County Sheriff's Department

Statewide Road Work Schedule


As you drive across the state to enjoy your weekend plans, here are some areas where traffic might build up due to road work, according to the Department of Transportation.

Scheduled Road Work

  • Route 15 northbound, Hamden: The right lane is closed between Exits 59 and 60 through 11 a.m. due to road work.
  • Interstate 84 westbound, Danbury: The right lane is closed for 2.8 miles between Exits 8 and 6 until 10:19 a.m. due to road work.
  • Route 3, Glastonbury: Construction began in both directions on the Putnam Bridge on Friday night and is expected to last 24 hours or less on the southbound side. The right lane on the northbound side is closed and the road work is expected to last until Sunday, July 27 at 10 a.m.

Celebrate CT State Parks Centennial with Free Visits


It's a free country, but state parks aren't free – except for this weekend.

Parking and admission at all Connecticut state parks this weekend will cost you nothing in celebration of the centennial of the state parks system.

So, you may want to arrive early if you plan to visit one of Connecticut's beaches on Long Island Sound or an inland lake, as parking lots at those locations can reach capacity quickly. You can also avoid crowds by visiting a park a little off the beaten path. At one of these parks you can enjoy a day of hiking, fishing, picnicking, or simply some quiet time in the great outdoors with your family.

"We think that the best way to create the next generation of environmental stewards is to get kids out experiencing nature," Susan Whalen, deputy commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said.

It's a great chance to unplug and unwind – just ask Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson, who grew up in the shadow of Sleeping Giant State Park.

"You can sit at the computer all day and you can travel the world via the internet but sometimes you have put that stuff down. You have to go outside and get some fresh air," he said.

Photo Credit: Amanda Raus, NBC Connecticut

Man Arrested for White-Powder Mail


A 74-year-old Long Island man has been arrested, accused of mailing a letter containing anti-Semitic remarks and a white powdery substance to an office building, police say.

Authorities say Leslie Feher mailed a letter containing anti-Semitic remarks and some type of white powder to an office building at 622 Stewart Ave. in East Garden City around June 13.

When a woman in the office opened the letter, the powder got on her fingers, and she called police. 

The powder was later determined to be non-hazardous. 

Investigators identified Feher as a suspect and took him into custody at his Hicksville home Friday. He's expected to be charged for placing a false hazardous substance in a letter when he's arraigned in First District Court in Hempstead on Tuesday, Aug. 12. 

Attorney information for Feher wasn't immediately available. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Lake Waramaug Remains Closed


Lake Waramaug in Kent remains closed Saturday because of water quality, according to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

The swimming area at the state park has been closed since Wednesday due to high bacteria levels in the water.

That may be due to run off or rainy weather, according to DEEP.

The agency will test the water quality again early next week.

All other state park beaches that  DEEP tests are open.

Photo Credit: Submitted

14 Shot Overnight in Chicago


A 3-year-old boy was critically wounded and a 13-year-old boy was killed in shootings the left at least 12 others wounded overnight in Chicago.

The 3-year-old was shot around 10:15 p.m. in the 4400 block of South Sacramento Avenue, police said.

The boy was standing on the sidewalk with his mother and a man when another man walking past them with two women turned and opened fire, according to authorities.

The bullet struck the young boy in his abdomen and exited through his hip, officials said.

He was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in critical condition where officials said he was undergoing surgery.

The shooting came just hours after a 13-year-old boy was killed and six others wounded when someone opened fire around 6 p.m. in the 700 block of South California Avenue on the city’s West Side.

Just before 9 p.m., a 17-year-old man was shot when someone opened fire on a group of people from a dark-colored sedan in the 1100 block of West 101st Street. Police said the teen was taken to Little Company of Mary Hospital in stable condition.

Less than an hour later, a 24-year-old man was shot in the 1800 block of East 79th Street. Police said the man was standing on the sidewalk when someone in a passing dark-colored sedan fired shots at him, striking him in the right leg, left foot and buttocks.

The man was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital for treatment.

Around 12:30 a.m., police said a 19-year-old man was sitting at a stop sign near 102nd Street and Michigan Avenue when he “heard shots and felt pain.” The teen drove himself to Roseland Community Hospital with a graze wound to the arm, but later refused treatment.

Just before 1 a.m., a 19-year-old man was shot in the Bronzeville neighborhood. Police said the man was standing on a sidewalk in the 3900 block of South Prairie Avenue when three men approached him and someone opened fire. The teen was taken to Stroger Hospital with wounds to the upper right arm. He was listed in stable condition.

At around 1:35 a.m., a 24-year-old man walked into West Suburban Medical Center with a gunshot wound to the hip. The man was shot in the 5600 block of West Chicago Avenue in the city’s Austin neighborhood, but police said he was not cooperating with officials.

Just before 10 a.m. Saturday, police said a 48-year-old man was shot during a robbery while he worked on a rehab project at a home on the South Side.

The man was renovating a residence in the 6000 block of South Aberdeen Street when an armed man walked in and announced a robbery. The man took an unknown amount of money from the victim and shot him in the mouth.

The victim was taken to Stroger Hospital where his condition has been stabilized, police said.

No one is in custody and Area South detectives are investigating.

Selfie May Be Last Pic of Slain Cop


Marshall Crawford's pursuit of his wife's stolen cell phone sparked a connection he'll never forget.

“She was a gentle person in a rough and tumble business and she handled herself with grace and finesse,” Crawford said.

The Encinitas, California, man was describing the impression Escondido Police Officer Laura Perez made in mere minutes when the two met July 19.

Officer Perez helped retrieve the stolen phone and posed for a selfie Crawford wanted to show his wife who had found her phone.

It might be one of the last images of Officer Perez alive.

Five days after this image was taken, Riverside County homicide investigators found the 25-year-old officer’s body in a storage locker in Moreno.

Murrieta Police had arrested her husband, Freddy Perez-Rodas, and charged him with murder.

“It’s just so painful to see someone that young, that vibrant not be with us and I ache
for her daughter and family,” Crawford said.

His interaction with Officer Perez was so memorable, he said, because of the rookie cop’s enthusiasm and sincerity in solving the crime.

“It's not $10 million in gold and she was just as happy to be returning a cell phone as she would have been returning a bank bag,” he recalls.

Crawford reached out to the Escondido Police Department and shared the image. They, in turn, posted it to their Facebook page to honor Officer Perez.

New on the job, Perez was quickly becoming a leader, Chief Craig Carter said. The department is helping the officer’s family as they plan memorial services in Riverside County. They’re also collecting donations for Perez’s 4-year-old daughter Suzette.

Though a private man, Crawford shared a social media post that he was compelled to write about his meeting with the rookie officer.

It’s a message he now wishes he could have given her face to face.

"She was a shining example of how a police officer should conduct themselves and more importantly, how a human being should conduct themselves. Law enforcement and humanity is less today because of her passing,” he wrote.

Photo Credit: Marshall Crawford

Police: Mallet-Wielding Attacker Hurts Man, Extorts Family


A mallet-wielding attacker hit a sleeping Long Island man before phoning the victim's father and demanding cash in exchange for not hurting him further, police said Saturday.

The Bohemia resident was asleep at home on Friday evening when a man he knew attacked him with a mallet, injuring his head, police said. He then called the victim's father and threatened to hurt the man more if he didn't receive what police say was "a large amount of cash," according to Suffolk County police.

The father went to an ATM and then delivered the cash, and the victim's mother tried to drive her son to the hospital, police said. Part of the way there, the victim became sick, and his mother pulled over to the side of the road. An ambulance was summoned, and he was brought to the hospital.

A 27-year-old was arrested on charges of burglary and grand larceny, police said. It wasn't immediately clear whether he had a lawyer. 

Photo Credit: NBC10Philadelphia

Kids Were Left on Hot School Bus: Officials


Two young children who were reported missing after they failed to come home from summer school were found alone inside a hot school bus at a bus depot in New Jersey, authorities say.

The parents of the developmentally disabled children, ages 7 and 9, contacted Vernon school officials Wednesday afternoon to report their kids were never dropped off at their bus stop, according to Dr. Charles Maranzano Jr., superintendent of Vernon public schools. 

The school repeatedly called the bus company, MacNova, but the phone calls went unanswered. The school then contacted police, and officers were dispatched to search for the missing bus and children, said Maranzano.

Shortly afterward, the bus company owner contacted the school and claimed the driver of the missing bus had to leave the bus for an emergency and left the kids under the supervision of an adult neighbor. The driver had left the bus running with air-conditioning on, according to the bus company owner. 

The owner went on to tell the school that he was planning to head to where the bus was left running and drive the kids to their destinations, said Maranzano.

The children were ultimately dropped off, but appeared distressed and overheated when they got home, according to Maranzano. Police were called to investigate, and they discovered the bus company owner and the bus driver had lied. 

According to Maranzano, there had never been an emergency, and the bus driver instead finished the route normally and left the bus depot with the missing kids still on board.

The children were left alone without air conditioning for up to an hour, according to Maranzano, who called it a "cover-up" and "gross incompetence" on the part of the bus company.

The superintendent said EMS should have been called to the scene immediately due to the hot conditions inside the bus.

The bus company has been fired by the school district. No contact information could be found for MacNova, and Maranzano said he didn't immediately have the phone number for the company. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Joyriding Car Thief Crashes Stolen Car: Police


A teenager crashed a stolen car in Middletown on Friday after joyriding and nearly hitting pedestrians as he led an officer in a pursuit, police said.

When asked why he took the car, Kenneth Hofler, 18, of Middletown, told police that "the owner of the car was rich" and that "anyone with more money than him was rich," police said in a news release.

Hofler stole a gray 2010 Honda Accord that a Stoneycrest Drive resident left running while going inside an apartment at 1:15 p.m. that day, police said. Two other men were with him at the time and a witness provided a description of Hofler to police.

Police canvassed the area and remained on the lookout for him throughout the day. At about 5:46 p.m. Friday, a patrol officer saw a vehicle matching the stolen car's description turn past him near  the East Main Street and Maple Street intersection and accelerate, according to police. The officer chased after him in his vehicle.

As Kofler sped away, he almost struck two pedestrians, police said. The officer tried to pull him over, but he didn't stop until crashing the car a short distance further, damaging a large tree, fire hydrant and street sign, police said.

Police arrested him and took him into custody, where he confessed to stealing the car, police said. Kofler told police that he initially only intended to drive around the corner and return it, but then decided to keep it.

Police charged Hofler with second-degree larceny, engaging in a pursuit, operating a motor vehicle without a license, reckless driving, evading responsibility, interfering, third-degree criminal mischief and a seat belt violation. 

Police held him on a $75,000 surety bond and he is scheduled to appear in Middlesex Superior Court on Monday, July 28.

Middletown police remind residents not to leave cars unattended and unlocked because most car thefts or burglaries "are instances of opportunity."


Photo Credit: Middletown Police Department

Cops: Drunk Man Hits, Kills Friend


A young woman who refused to ride in an SUV driven by a drunk friend was fatally struck by his vehicle as he attempted to speak to her on the side of a Long Island road, police said.

Krystal Berkowitz, 21, died early Saturday after she attempted to walk home along Nesconset Highway in Setauket rather than allow her 23-year-old friend to drive her, Suffolk County police said. The driver followed her and tried to pull over to speak with her, but hit her instead, police said.

Officers arriving at the scene found the friend trying to help her. He had called 911 to no avail; Berkowitz was pronounced dead at the scene, Suffolk County police said.

The 23-year-old was arrested on a charge of driving while intoxicated. It wasn't immediately clear whether he had a lawyer.

Life Star Airlifts Injured Motorcyclist After Crash


Life Star airlifted a motorcyclist to Hartford Hospital after crash in Tolland on Saturday afternoon.

The motorcycle was the only vehicle involved in the crash at 450 Buff Cap Road and the motorcyclist suffered a head injury as result of the crash, according to Tolland County Dispatch.

Life Star confirmed transporting the motorcyclist, but there is no word on the condition of the individual at this time.

The identity of the motorcyclist has not been released.

More information will be provided when it becomes available.

3 in Custody in Shooting of Boy, 3


Three people are in custody in connection to the shooting of a 3-year-old boy Friday night and charges are pending, police said.

The 3-year-old was shot around 10:15 p.m. in the 4400 block of South Sacramento Avenue, police said.

The boy was standing on the sidewalk with his mother and a man when another man walking past them with two women turned and opened fire, according to authorities.

The bullet struck the young boy in his abdomen and exited through his hip, officials said.

He was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in critical condition where officials said he was undergoing surgery.

Police Investigate Bridgeport Shooting


Police are investigating an overnight shooting Friday night that seriously injured a 22-year-old man at the  Marina Village housing complex in Bridgeport.

Officers responded just before 11:30 p.m. to investigate a report of an assault in progress and found a large crowd at the complex between buildings 14 and 22 upon arrival, police said. 

Jose Cintron, 22, was transported to Bridgeport Hospital to be treated for a gunshot wound to the torso, police said. He is listed in serious condition, according to police.

Officers found "spent shell casings" in the area, police said in a news release.

No arrests have been made at this time.

The incident remains under investigation.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Details Emerge in Suit Against CHP


The woman seen on a now-viral video being repeatedly punched by a California Highway Patrol officer said her dress was violently ripped to expose her bare buttocks as she told the officer “I didn’t do anything to you,” according to a federal civil rights lawsuit filed last week and amended Friday.

Marlene Pinnock, 51, said in the lawsuit that she had dealt with the officer in the past, and that he called her by name as she walked in the area of the 10 Freeway west of downtown Los Angeles July 1. When she began to leave the area the lawsuit alleges she was “violently thrown to the ground” by the officer.

“He was bamming me in my temples with all the strength he had,” Pinnock said in the lawsuit. Pinnock said she told the officer, “stop, I didn’t do anything to you.”

CHP Commissioner Joseph Farrow told the Sacramento Bee newspaper last week that "the need for more (training) has been exposed," in reference to the video and how the law enforcement agency deals with the mentally ill.

Pinnock’s attorney, Caree Harper, also alleges that the officer, on a “mission to humiliate her,” violently ripped Pinnock’s dress after she tried pulling it down because she wasn’t wearing underwear.

Farrow said last week that the video only captured part of the altercation, and that one would need to know “what was going on the officer’s mind” at the time of incident.

Investigators with CHP seized medical records for Pinnock last week as she remained hospitalized.

"She suffered a traumatic head injury," Harper said. "How can you give away files about someone injured ... to the very people who beat her?"

Farrow told the Associated Press last week that he couldn't confirm the search warrant.

"I think what they're trying to do is, they don't have a statement from her, and they're trying to find that out," Farrow said. "I don't think the CHP is trying to put her on trial or make it an issue about her. What I'm looking at is entirely about the circumstances, we all saw what happened. Our job is to find out the why and the how."

The officer, whose name has not been released by CHP, was placed on desk duty.

Photo Credit: David Diaz

Woman in Critical After Propane Tank Explodes Inside RV


A woman is fighting for her life and a young boy is recovering after a propane tank exploded inside an RV in the Oxford Circle section of Philadelphia.

Police say a 36-year-old woman was cooking inside a moving RV on E. Cheltenham Avenue and Oakland Street Saturday morning around 10:15 a.m.

As she was cooking, the propane tank inside the vehicle exploded, causing a fire.

Responding firefighters managed to put out the blaze. The woman suffered burns to her legs and hands. She was taken to Temple University Hospital where she is currently in critical condition.

Investigators also say a 5-year-old boy suffered minor scrapes on both legs but was not hospitalized.

Two other adults inside the RV were not injured in the explosion.

Photo Credit: Maria Colon

Girl Watched Cop Shoot Dog: Family


Family members and area residents say a young dog was fatally shot by police in front of a 6-year-old girl Friday afternoon in a Chicago suburb.

The dog’s owners say 1-year-old shepherd-mix Apollo had gotten out of their yard in the 8700 block of Beck Place in southwest suburban Hometown and the family had just returned him to their lawn when police arrived.

“We were in the lawn and the cop already had his gun out,” said owner Nicole Echlin. “I tried to call him in the house and he just stood there staring and I guess he showed his teeth and the cop just shot him, right in front of me and my 6-year-old daughter.”

Echlin said her young daughter “started screaming” after the shooting.

Hometown Police said the incident is under investigation but could not immediately confirm any details. They said further information would be available Monday.

"It would be too early for me to make any statement without reviewing all the facts," Chief Charles Forsyth said in a statement on the Hometown Police Department's Facebook page. "I can assure the people of Hometown that a full investigation of the incident will be conducted."

Witnesses said it didn’t appear that the dog was attacking officers or provoking them before the shooting.

“The dog wasn’t doing anything. I didn’t see it doing anything, it wasn’t barking,” said witness and area resident Nicco Torres. “Then I saw a cop shoot the dog, the dog fell to ground on the lawn. I saw through the window the dog was on the floor shot but the dog was still moving, it was moving its legs like it was trying to run but it was laying down.”

Family said the dog had no history of aggression and did not attempt to attack officers at the scene. They claim they were told by officers that the dog showed its teeth.

“I don’t know why they would pull out a gun they had so many other options,” said Echlin's 23-year-old sister and fellow owner Kristy Scialabba, who works at an animal care center in Chicago. “And to shoot a dog in front of a child that’s going to scare her for the rest of her life.”

Scialabba, who set up a Facebook page titled “Justice for Apollo,” said Apollo was taken by Animal Control to an animal hospital for treatment, but died Saturday morning.

“We’re just completely broken and we really don’t know what to do,” she said. “That was my boy, that was my dog. This is hometown you don’t hear anything like this. Nothing ever happens here.”

Photo Credit: Nicco Torres/Kristy Scialabba
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