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Police Seek Public's Help in Identifying Homicide Suspect


Bridgeport police detectives are seeking the public's help in identifying a suspected shooter in a homicide that happened Sunday afternoon that marks the sixth homicide of the year.

Ryan Hernandez, 21, of Bridgeport was shot in the chest and killed in the 1300 block of Park Avenue near the Olive Street intersection, police said.

Surveillance video footage shows an altercation between two men police identified as the suspected shooter. Witnesses also told police they observed a confrontation before gunfire broke out. The video shows Hernandez and the suspected shooter arguing before the reported shooting and then the suspect flees into a car driving by after the victim falls to the ground partially off-camera.

The suspected shooter took off in a vehicle police described as a "dark-colored sedan" with other people in the car, police said.

Hernandez was transported to St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport, but was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

Detectives are reviewing security video footage that could identify any suspects or the getaway vehicle.

Police ask anyone with information to contact Det. Robert Winkler at 203-581-5224.

Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Police Arrest Suspected Scrap Metal Thieves


Bristol police have arrested two local men accused of stealing scrap metal from a construction company.

Police received a complaint just before 2 a.m. about a possible break-in and theft at Mastrobattisto Construction at 145 Burlington Avenue. The vehicle involved was described as a 1997 Ford F-150 pickup.

Police stopped a truck matching the description at Grove and Oakland streets, close to the business, and found the metal in the bed of the vehicle, police said.

Bristol police arrested Pawel Lotkowski, 24, and Anthony J. Romano, 24, both of Bristol.

They were charged with larceny in the third degree, criminal trespass in the third degree and conspiracy to commit both charges.

Lotkowski and Romano were released on $10,000  bonds and are due in Superior Court in Bristol on Aug. 25.


Photo Credit: Bristol Police

LifeStar Airlifts Driver to Hospital After Tolland Crash


LifeStar airlifted a driver to the hospital after a serious car crash near 109 Brown Bridge Road in Tolland just after 3 a.m. on Monday.

The road was closed near Webber Road as State Police investigated and has since reopened.

Police have not released the name, gender or age of the driver and no further details were innediately  available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Police to Address Shooting Death of Brooklyn Rabbi


A makeshift memorial at the site where a rabbi was shot and killed on Saturday keeps his memory alive as police continue to search for the suspected killers.

A Miami-Dade Police chaplain said Monday that a rabbi who was shot and killed while walking to his North Miami Beach temple Saturday morning likely did not have his wallet on him.

Police said the shooting death of 60-year-old Rabbi Joseph Raksin was an apparent robbery, but they are not ruling out the possibility of a hate crime following anti-Semitic vandalism at a nearby synagogue just two weeks ago.

"Right now, there are no indications this was a hate crime or related to a hate crime," said Major Hector Llevat. "However, we are not closing the door. We are not ruling that out."

MDPD Chaplain Rabbi Pinchas Weberman said it was unlikely that Raksin would have been carrying a wallet with him on the Sabbath due to his religious beliefs.

"The purpose of the Sabbath is rest," Weberman said. "Whenever you walk on the street you're going to tap your wallet to see if it's still there. It's a source of tension. You walk out without the wallet you have rest."

Police spoke at Monday morning regarding Raskin's death, saying they are investigating all possible leads in the case.

"We'd like to let the community know that we understand the fright, the anxiety, the anguish that comes with a cowardly act like this and we share in the community's urgency to find the perpretrators of this act," said Maj. Llevat.

Police said Raksin was walking on the 800 block of NE 175th Street around 9 a.m. when two young males approached him and shot him after an altercation.

The suspects fled the scene, one on bike and one on foot, according to police. Raksin was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center where he died.

Also, Monday, a large crowd of mourners showed up in Brooklyn for Raksin’s funeral, NBC 4 New York reported.

“He was a sweetheart, what should I tell you?” asked Isaac Neworth, Raksin’s brother-in-law. “My kids are hysterically crying. He was the uncle that was always the hug, the pat on the head. He would take our religious ideals and bring them to life.”

“A fellow who wanted to live a pious life and also a very modest life and a humble life,” said Rabbi Shea Hecht, a friend of Reksin’s in New York. “For him to be taken in this way is really horrendous. I search myself for the meaning.”

Raksin has a wife in Brooklyn, and is a father of six.

The Anti-Defamation League said it is talking with police about the investigation.

If you have any information about the shooting death, call Miami-Dade Crimestoppers at 305-471-TIPS (8477).

Photo Credit: NBC 6 South Florida

Counseling Offered for Classmates of Slain Teen


Grief counselors will be available to help students begin to deal with the death of a 15-year-old classmate who was killed in New Haven over the weekend. 

Jacob Craggett, 15, of New Haven, was shot around 9 p.m. on Friday at Davenport Avenue and Vernon Street, and died at the hospital, according to police.

He would have been a sophomore at Hillhouse High School in the fall and was a member of the school’s football team.

“I am deeply saddened by the senseless killing of one of one our students this weekend. Jacob Craggett is deeply mourned by the entire New Haven Public School community and we will continue prioritizing our work with police, city and community partners on ways combat youth gun violence. The shootings have got to stop. My heart goes out to the family and friends of Jacob Craggett and I pray for the recovery of the other two victims, and all those touched by this tragedy,” Supt. Garth Harries said in a statement.

Family members said he had been visiting his grandmother’s house on Vernon Street and was heading home to make his 9 p.m. curfew.

Jacob and his 23-year-old brother, Joshua, were in a vehicle with two other people when the shooters approached them and started firing, according to police.

"When Jacob saw his brother was shot, he got out of the car, and one of the people shot my son in the back for trying to help his brother," the boys’ mother, Lisa Cragget, said. "For anyone to shoot the 15-year-old in the back, you're a coward. You're a coward."

Joshua and the driver of the vehicle are in the hospital in critical condition.

Grief counseling and support resources are being made available to students who knew Jacob as well as to the Hillhouse football team.

Lisa Cragget said she has questions about the police response time the night of the shooting. She said the ambulance took 35 minutes to arrive even though Yale New Haven Hospital is around the corner.

Police have not made any arrests in this case, and they're asking anyone with information to call detectives at 203-946-6316.

Driver Hospitalized After Crashing Into Tree in Ledyard


A driver is in the hospital after crashing into a tree in Ledyard early Monday morning.

The Ledyard Police Department received a report about the crash at 2:13 a.m. on Christy Hill Road in the Gales Ferry section of town.

Driver David Bellaflores, 24, of Gales Ferry, was transported to Lawrence & Memorial Hospital to be treated for injuries sustained in the crash. Police did not release information on his condition.

Police Gales Ferry and Ledyard firefighters, Ledyard Volunteer Emergency Squad and Lawrence & Memorial Hospital Paramedic responded.

Ledyard police are investigating the cause of the crash.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Navy Sub to Return on Wednesday


The sailors of the USS New Hampshire will come home on Wednesday for long-awaited family reunions after a six-month deployment.

The more than 130 sailors on the Virginia-class attack submarine left the Naval Submarine Base New London on Feb. 11 and conducted operations in the U.S. European Command area and stopped in Haakonsvern, Norway while deployed.

Friends and family members will await returning crew members on the pier.

Photo Credit: NBC 7

Route 138 Closed in Voluntown


Route 138/Rockville Road is closed at James Road in Voluntown after a garbage truck overturned on the road, according to state police.

No injuries have been reported.

No additional information was immediately available.

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Fire at Vacant Manchester Mill Was Intentionally Set: Officials


Investigators say the fire that broke out at a vacant mill in Manchester on Sunday night appears to have been intentionally set.

Firefighters responded to the building at 260 Tolland Turnpike around 6:15 p.m. when people driving by reported seeing smoke  from the industrial complex of mill buildings, according to emergency officials in Manchester.
The smoke was heavy, the building had partially collapsed and it appears wood pallets, brush and wooden building materials had been deliberately gathered and set on fire, officials said.

Buildings in the complex had previously been deemed unsafe, according to local emergency officials. 

Crews checked the building to ensure that no one inside or near the building.

Firefighters knocked down the place in less than an hour and said efforts will be made to keep trespassers from the property.


Photo Credit: Monica Garske

Nanny Stole $430K From Md. Family


A former nanny has admitted to stealing more than $430,000 from a Montgomery County family she worked for and using it to buy a house and to visit a casino.

Prosecutors say Kadiatu Sahid Kamara, 50, of Gaithersburg, wrote herself about 118 checks from the couple's money market account over about two years while she was caring for their children. 

Kamara pleaded guilty Monday to mail fraud and aggravated identity theft in the case.

She had never been authorized to write checks from the account, but between May 2011 and May 2013, she forged the signature of an account holder on the checks and then deposited them into her own bank account, prosecutors said.

The amount stolen was about $431,542.

Kamara used some of it to buy a house in Africa, to send money transfers and to play games at a casino in Charles Town, West Virginia, authorities said.

The victims discovered the theft and fired Kamara in May 2013. Shortly after, they received a handwritten letter from her, according to the criminal complaint against her.

"I ask your forgiveness. You can take me to court, send me in jail and throw the keys into the sea, your actions will be justified," the letter from Kamara read in part. "I stole your money to build my house in Africa."

However, in the letter, she disputed the amount of money stolen.

Kamara faces up to 20 years in prison for mail fraud and a mandatory minimum of two years consecutive to any other sentence imposed. She will be sentenced Oct. 14.

She has also agreed to pay restitution of $431,542.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

OREO Promotes Falls Village in Cookie Delivery Project


If you live in Falls Village, you may be getting a special delivery of Oreo Mini cookies soon.

OREO has chosen Falls Village, Connecticut as one of "tiny, wonderfilled towns" in 50 states to highlight as the OREO Mini "celebrates the little things" with special cookie deliveries to 50 small towns nationwide, according to a news release.

While the big cities in the United States are the most likely tourist destinations, OREO is showing some of the nation's smallest cities some love by way of mini OREO packages. As OREO puts it, "it's not necessarily how big you are, but what's inside that really matters."

Starting Monday, OREO is sending OREO Mini cookie packages to each household in Falls Village and the other towns on the list, one from each state, and is also inviting customers to send custom Oreo Mini packages to friends, family and coworkers for the little things they do.

“At OREO, we truly believe that it’s the little things that make life special, from little gestures to little places,” Janda Lukin, senior director OREO at Mondelēz International, said. “We thought OREO Mini was the perfect token to recognize and celebrate those special little things in life that have big impact. OREO Mini Deliveries are our way of saying a little thanks to the people and places who help put a little bit of wonder into the big world every day.”

Each pint-size package will include an OREO Mini and a note from the cookie company, according to a news release, seemingly coming from OREO's  fictional store Mel's Mini Mart, featured in a recent marketing video as "the tiniest mini mart there ever was."

OREO will make 500 "Oreo Mini parcels" available each day through Monday Aug. 22 as part of its "360-degree mini marketing campaign." OREO turned 100 in 20012.

More information is available at OREOMiniDelivery.com.

Are you a Falls Village resident or have you ever been there? Tell us what you love about the small Connecticut town or your own small town.

Photo Credit: OREO

Glastonbury Preschoolers Learn About Healthy Eating


Some preschoolers in Glastonbury are doing more than just finger-painting: They’re learning adult nutrition and fitness habits, all thanks to an award-winning teacher.

Glastonbury native and 2014 Goddard Teacher of the Year Maureen Moore has created a fitness, nutrition, and education program for students at her school.

“From the kids learning about colors and shapes and how many scoops of blueberries they can have in their fruit salad, to fine motor skills, cutting the banana, peeling the orange – it’s from math to fine motor; they’re just learning so many things from one simple activity,” Moore explained.

Beyond cognitive development, the program helps shape eating behaviors that “Miss Mo” hopes will last long into her students’ adult years.

“It is a lot easier to go grab a bag of chips, but I want to instill the values of, ‘You can grab an orange, you can grab a banana.’ And I want them to love it just as much,” added Moore.

These preschoolers don’t just eat healthy food, they grow it in their Community Garden.

“They learn so much from how to tend to a plant, how to plant the cycle, how they need rain, how they need to care for it,” said Moore.

But kids will be kids, so playtime is never too far behind.

“Whether it was a yoga movement, whether it was throwing a ball overhand, it’s all specific skills that would get them moving, get them outside instead of just sitting, from a young age all the way until an older age,” said Goddard School Director Mary Popick.

Moore beat out 10,000 other Goddard School teachers nationwide for the Teacher of the Year award.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Shot in Arm in Hamden


Hamden police are investigating after a man was shot in the arm early Saturday morning in the area of Goodrich Street and Dixwell Avenue.

According to police, the victim was shot with an AK-47 or similar weapon around 2 a.m. Aug. 9. He fled to the area of Gem and Daisy streets in New Haven, where first responders encountered him and began treating his wounds.

The victim was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries, according to police.

Authorities are searching for the person responsible. Anyone with information about the shooting is urged to call Hamden police Major Crimes Det. William Onofrio at 203-230-4807.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com

Driver Crashes Into Bushes Off Route 8


A driver lost control of his vehicle and crashed into bushes in the backyard of a house along Route 8 in Derby on Monday morning.

Emergency crews responded to the scene of the crash, which happened just after 9 a.m. near Mowhawk Avenue and Mountain Street, and spent the morning removing the crushed and mangled vehicle as it teetered on the edge of Route 8.

Derby resident Katherine Crasilli, who lives nearby, rushed to the scene of the accident with her husband after seeing the car launch in the air before crashing into the bushes and hearing "boom, boom, boom" when the car collided.

"I thought he was dead," she said referring to the driver. "It was so loud, oh my god scary. I called 911 and they said 'is he alive' and I said 'I'm not sure.' Two guys were behind him on the highway and they helped get him out of the backseat."

The driver sustained minor cuts from the crash and declined medical attention. He spoke to NBC Connecticut off-camera and said that he was on his way back from a doctor's appointment when a car cut him off, causing him to fly off the road. He said that he didn't remember much about the crash.

No one else was injured. The accident remains under investigation.

More information will be provided as it becomes available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Shot in Groin in Bridgeport


A 28-year-old man was shot in the groin in Bridgeport on Monday morning and police are investigating.

Police responded to the 100 block of Pennsylvania Avenue around 10:30 a.m. to investigate a report of an assault and determined that a man had been shot after a confrontation with four or five people and went to the hospital in a private car, police said.

Staff at Bridgeport Hospital confirmed that the injury appeared to be a gunshot wound.

Police are investigating and detained several people at the scene, but have not made any arrests.


Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Puerto Rico's Population Plummets as Residents Move to U.S. Mainland


Puerto Rico's economic crisis has forced residents to leave the troubled island for greener pastures in the U.S. mainland in numbers unseen since the Great Migration after World War II.

Census data shows that from 2010 to 2013, about 144,000 more people left Puerto Rico for the mainland than those headed for the island. As the island's population shrinks, the stateside Puerto Rican population has grown to a record 4.9 million in 2013, surpassing the island's population of 3.5 million since 2006, according to a Pew Research report released Monday.

"The Census Bureau has projected that through 2050, unless something changes, the population decline is going to continue and that would make Puerto Rico one of the few places in the United States that actually has a decline in its population," said Mark Hugo Lopez, director of Hispanic research at the Pew Research Center.

The reason behind the island's mass exodus stems from the lack of job opportunities, according to the report. The island's economic dire straights was fueled both by the U.S. recession and issues unique to the island, like the end of corporate tax breaks that led to business shutdowns and government layoffs. The unemployment rate in June was 13,1 percent, compared to the mainland's 6.1 percent.

"The recession has led to the first sustained population decline for the island in its history as a U.S. territory," Lopez said. Puerto Rico is a U.S. Commonwealth and its residents are U.S. citizens. Puerto Ricans living on the mainland are the second largest Hispanic group after Mexicans.

About 23 percent of mainland-born Puerto Ricans live in New York, while Florida is home to 25 percent of those born on the island. The Northeast retains the largest share of Puerto Ricans--both mainland and island born--but other regions, especially the South, have become popular destinations, the report said. From 1980 to 2012, the South's Puerto Rican population rose by nearly 700 percent.

Recent arrivals from the commonwealth are also less well off and more likely to live in poverty than their predecessors, the report said.

"This current wave of migration, which is the largest migration wave that we've seen since the 1950s from the island, is one that is not necessarily one made up of the top end of the educational distribution," Lopez said. "It's not college grads that are coming. It's people that have some college education.

Mainland-born Puerto Ricans are younger and make more money, with poverty less likely to affect their children and the elderly. They are more likely to attend college than their island counterparts, the report said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Kayaker: 2,500-Mile Odyssey "Easier Than I Thought," So Far


A grandmother one month into a solo kayak journey from Maine to Guatemala said her ambitious "soul-restoring experience" is so far "easier than I thought."
Deborah Walters, 63, embarked last month from Yarmouth on her 2,500-mile voyage, which she hopes will raise money to combat devastating poverty in the capital of Guatemala, where she'll arrive next May.
Walters has now traveled the coastlines of two states for 168 miles. While she still wishes she trained harder before launching, she said that the trip has been easier than she expected.
And after just three weeks, Walters has raised nearly $58,000 — 40 percent of her $150,000 fundraising goal.
She enjoys kayaking with other people and finds paddling alone a "soul-restoring experience."
"I feel a stronger connection to the sea and land," she said.
Still, the grandmother has already encountered a few obstacles. Her biggest challenge, she said, is her small presence in the water.
Traveling through the Hampton Harbor last month, Walters was the catch of the day, when her kayak was hooked on a fisherman’s line. While she found humor in her unexpected reel-in, she advises that kayakers stay alert, since people in boats can't always see small vessels like hers.
She also faced some navigation problems, and noticed her compass was not matching her map. The magnetism of the device was thrown off, she said, because she had been storing it directly over her spare batteries.
So far, Walters has camped out for just two of her 22 nights en route, instead spending most nights in the homes of host families and volunteers along her route. She describes her journey as a “Forrest Gump kind of experience."
“It is not a solo trip," she said.
She also updates her blog and posts online daily.
"I am spending as much time paddling as I am online," she said.
Walters was ahead of schedule and arrived in Boston early last week, despite her unexpected detour. She plans to visit New York City between Sept. 15 and 17.

Walters' trek is a journey nine years in the making.

It began when she first visited the Guatemala City dump and witnessed the dire living conditions of the poor families in the surrounding community there.

She began volunteering for Safe Passage, a nonprofit organization that makes it possible for Guatemalan children to attend school, and decided to travel 2,500 miles down the coast, stopping along the way to share the story of the children.

“You’re never too old to do something amazing for other people,” she said.

Photo Credit: Tom Pilla/Deborah Walters

Boy, 13, Dies After Deadly Tornado


A 13-year-old New Jersey boy gravely injured in a tornado that killed his parents at a Virginia campsite last month has died, NBC affiliate WAVY confirmed with officials at the hospital that had cared for him.

The hospital said Lheandrew Balatbat died Saturday. He had been in a coma since the July 23 tornado devastated the area near his family's campsite at Cherrystone Campground along the Chesapeake Bay.

The boy's parents, Lord Balatbat and Lolibeth Ortega, both 38, were killed when a tree fell on their tent as they slept. Lheandrew Balatbat's 11- and 6-year-old sisters were injured, but not critically. 

The family went camping every year and had been to that campsite in the past, friends told NBC 4 New York. 

Aerial footage from an NBC affiliate showed a swath of destruction as trees were toppled, tents and cabins crumpled and RV campers were blown on their sides when the tornado roared through. Thirty-one people were hospitalized. About 1,300 were staying at the campground.

Lord Balatbat was a manager at a Walgreens drugstore in Jersey City, and Ortega was a lab technician. 

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York/Wavy.com

Route 10 Reopens in Southington


Route 10/Main Street has reopened between Grove Street and Carter Road in Southington after a truck struck a utility pole, according to the state Department of Transportation.

The crash was reported just prior to 1:30 p.m. Police said the fire department left the scene shortly after 2 p.m., and the DOT reports that Main Street reopened shortly before 4 p.m.

There is no word on injuries.

No additional information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Middletown Dad Left Kids in Car for 30 Minutes: Police


A Middletown dad is facing charges after police say he left his children, ages 2 and 4, alone in an open pickup truck for about 30 minutes while he went to pay a bill.

Police responded to Melilli Plaza on Monday after a passerby spotted the kids alone in 38-year-old William Clayton’s truck.

According to police, the truck’s engine was running and the air conditioning was turned on. Police said at least one window was open and the children were properly secured inside the truck.

Because of the amount of time the children were left unattended, and the fact that the truck was open and running, police arrested Clayton and charged him with two counts of risk of injury to a minor. The children were not injured and were picked up by a family member, police said.

The Department of Children and Families was notified, which police say is protocol.

Clayton was released on a $5,000 non-surety bond and is due in court Aug. 25.

Photo Credit: Middletown Police Department
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