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New State Grants for Art Education


The Connecticut State Department of Education has announced a new grant program that aims to strengthen the arts in education.

In partnership with the Department of Economic and Community Development, the Connecticut Office of the Arts, and the Connecticut Arts Council, the SDE will provide mini-grants of up to $50,000 to schools across the state, according to a news release issued Tuesday.

Schools can use the money toward art supplies, professional development, partnerships with local artists and stipends for teachers.

“These funds will help schools strengthen their arts programming by encouraging them to form meaningful partnerships with local and statewide arts organizations and institutions,” said Department of Education Commissioner Stephan Pryor, in a statement Tuesday.

Interested schools must apply for the grant and will be asked to identify their need for support with arts access. Up to $250,000 in total will be available to schools during the program’s first round of funding, according to the release.

“When we expose our young people to the arts, we give them the chance to explore a world far beyond their immediate surroundings,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said in a statement. “These cultural investments will directly enrich lives of students and allow us to preserve and enhance the humanities across Connecticut schools.”

Applications for the grant are due in October. More information will be available online starting next month.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

East Haven Police Cracking Down on ATV Riders


Police in East Haven are cracking down on reckless ATV drivers.

Police said Main Street and Foxon Road are two of the prime areas for joyrides and they have arrested 10 people since January. 

They have been charged with crimes associated with this illegal activity. Investigators have also seized numerous ATVs and dirt bikes and are reminding residents that they're not letting up.

"They wear masks, they cut out in front of cars," said Mark DeFelice who's seen these quads all over the town he's lived in for 13 years. "They pull wheelies and they slow down everybody in the street when they're driving."

East Haven police have gotten more than 200 calls about the ATVs on public roads or property within the town since the beginning of 2014. Ensar Kuru has noticed them in front of his pizza shop

"They don't have respect for other drivers and they put other people in danger,"

Kuru added, noting that some of those people he feels are put in danger are his customers. "Cops supposed to do something more than normal maybe arrest them."

In addition to the ten arrests police tell us the court awarded one of these dirt bikes to the department following a hearing. East Haven residents tell us they've simply had enough

"They just come out of nowhere," DeFelice said. "It's a vehicle. It's illegal to ride. If they're not registered they don't belong on the street."

The Department says it's looking into these crimes vigorously and has ongoing investigations and arrest warrants pending for some of these riders involved in more recent activity.

Rally to Stop Violence Planned in Honor of Man Killed by Stray Bullet


People in the New Haven community are holding a rally to stop violence on Wednesday night in honor of a man killed by a stray bullet that flew into his home on his 58th birthday.

Darryl McNair, 58, was playing Solitaire on the computer in his basement early Sunday morning after a birthday party with family and friends when a stray bullet from gunfire outside launched through a wall and door and struck him. He was rushed to the hospital, but died of his injuries.

People are scheduled to gather at 5 p.m. at the basketball on Valley Street in his memory.

First CT Dave & Buster's Is Hiring in Manchester


The first Connecticut Dave & Buster's is schedule to open in a month. If you're looking for a job, the popular restaurant, bar and arcade business is hiring.

The restaurant will begin interviewing job candidates on Wednesday at its new location at the Buckland Hills Mall in Manchester. Dave & Buster's is seeking servers, hosts, bartenders, cooks and game technicians.

In addition to a full service restaurant and bar, Dave & Buster's offers more than 200 arcade games from skeeball to Temple Run.

Manchester's Planning and Zoning Commission approved the restaurant last October for a 26,400-square-foot plot of land next to Market Grill.

Currently, the closest Dave & Buster's locations are in Providence Road Island and Braintree, Massachusetts and the restaurant chain spans as far as Hawaii and Canada.

The Manchester location is slated to open on Sept. 22.

Looking for a Job? The XL Center Is Hiring.


Are you looking for a job?

Hartford's XL Center is hosting a part-time job fair from 4 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday. The entertainment venue has job openings in the guest services, event security, custodial, facility workers and ticket sales departments, according to the XL Center's website.

Potential applicants are asked to bring a resume and wear business attire. If you're interested in a security position, you must have a valid Connecticut Guard Card, according to the website. 

Global Spectrum manages the XL Center, Rentschler Field and the Hartford Wolf Pack.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Hotel Clerk Thwarts Robbery Attempt


The would-be robber asked for a pen and paper to write his demands, police said.

A man tried to rob The Hampton Inn in West Haven, but a clerk thwarted the robbery and refused to hand over the money.

Michael Ewing, 51, asked a clerk at inn for a pencil and piece of paper, wrote a note that said, “Give me the money or I’ll kill you” and handed it back to the man, police said.

The employee apparently didn’t take Ewing seriously and refused. Ewing then said he was going to shoot the clerk, but suddenly ran off.  

Police responded to the inn at 510 Saw Mill Road, at 5:45 p.m. on Tuesday after the hotel manager reported that an attempted robbery had just occurred and officers found Ewing on Allings Crossing Road. 

Police said he is an apparent drifter.

Ewing, who claimed to be from Mississippi, but later claimed to live in West Haven, has an extensive criminal history out the state of Connecticut, that includes the abuse and possession of crack cocaine, police said.

Ewing was charged with criminal attempt to commit robbery in the second degree and was held on $100,000 bond.  He is due in court today.

Photo Credit: West Haven Police

Priest Accused of Sexual Assault Due in Court


A Connecticut priest who was suspended last year and arrested in March on several sexual assault charges is due in court on Wednesday for pre-trial proceedings.

Rev. Paul Gotta, 55, of Bridgeport pleaded not guilty to seven counts of sexual assault charges he faces, according to the state judicial website. 

Gotta, who served as administrator of St. Philip Church in East Windsor and St. Catherine Church in Broadbrook until he was placed on administrative leave, is accused of sexual abuse, according to the Archdiocese of Hartford.

Police said in April that the arrest warrant is sealed.

Gotta is facing two counts of second-degree sexual assault, felony charges, in connection to reported incidents on April 1, 2012 and Feb. 1 2013, and five counts of fourth-degree sexual assault, misdemeanor charges, for reported incidents in January, February, March, April and May of 2012, according to the state judicial website.

He also faces separate federal fire arms charges, including aiding and abetting the unlawful transport of a firearm in interstate commerce and the purchase of a handgun by a juvenile.

Gotta has a court appearance in Enfield on Wednesday.

Minor Injuries Reported in Hartford Van Rollover


Two people suffered minor injuries when two vans collided at Pleasant and Windsor streets around 9 a.m.

One vehicle rolled over and the other sustained damage to the front and passenger side.

Police, fire and EMS crews responded. Both drivers were transported from the scene to be evaluated.

The road was closed as police investigated. 

One of the vans involved was from the Hilton Hotel.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Crash Closes Lanes on I-91 North in Stratford


A motor vehicle crash has closed some lanes on Interstate 95 northbound in Stratford, causing traffic delays during the morning commute.

The right and center lanes are closed between exits 31 and 33. The crash happened between exits 32 and 33 and was reported to the state Department of Transportation at 6:12 a.m.

Traffic is backed up to Exit 30, according to the DOT.

The closure is expected to last about an hour, DOT estimates.

Photo Credit: DOT

3 Sisters Reported Missing in New Haven


Police have issued Silver Alerts for three New Haven sisters who have been missing since Tuesday.

The missing girls are Destinee Tappin, 13, Mahaghanee Tappin, 12, and Kani Wright, who is also 12.

Destinee and Mahaghanee were last seen at 443 Winthrop Avenue in New Haven, according to the alerts. Police did not specify whether Kani was at the same address.

The girls were referred to as endangered runaways.  

Destinee Tappin has black hair and brown eyes. She is 5-feet-5 and weighs 160 pounds. She was wearing a pink top and black when she was last seen.

Mahaghanee Tappin also has black hair and brown eyes. She is 5-feet-7 and weighs 115 pounds. When she was last seen, she was wearing a black half-shirt, blue jeans and a gray sweater wrapped around waist.

Kani Wright has braided black hair and brown eyes. She is 4-feet-11 and weighs 120 pounds.

She was wearing a black tank top with leopard print leggings when she disappeared.

Police believe all three girls are together and ask anyone with information on their whereabouts to call the New Haven Police Department at 203-946-6316.

Photo Credit: Silver Alert

Volunteer Firefighter Set Dumpster on Fire: Cops


Southington police have arrested a 24-year-old volunteer firefighter who is accused of setting a dumpster on fire.

The fire broke out on the night of June 2 in a dumpster in the parking lot of Raya Clinic at 200 Queen Street, close to buildings housing the chiropractic clinic and Mad Hatter Car Wash, according to police.  

Police identified Christopher Newman, 24, of Bristol, as a Southington volunteer firefighter and said he set items within that trash receptacle on fire.

Newman turned himself in at 11 a.m. on Wednesday after learning there was a warrant for his arrest and has been charged with reckless burning and second-degree criminal mischief.

Southington fire officials said in a statement Wednesday that the department is "disappointed" in the situation.

"The Department would like to stress that this incident is in no way representative of the dedicated job that all of our firefighters do every day for the Town of Southington," Fire Chief Harold L. Clark said in a statement.

He was released on a $5,000 non-surety bond and is due in court on Sept. 2.

Photo Credit: Southington Police

Tsarnaev's Friend Pleads Guilty


It was a change of heart and a change of plea for 20-year-old Dias Kadyrbayev Thursday.

The friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzohkhar Tsarnaev pleaded guilty to charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

He specifically admitted to taking a backpack, fireworks, Vaseline, a thumb drive and a laptop from Tsarnaev’s UMass-Dartmouth dorm room after Tsarnaev was identified by the FBI as one of the marathon bombing suspects and later throwing away the backpack and its contents.

Kadyrbayev’s defense attorney Robert Stahl said, “Dias understands that he should not have gone to that room and should not have taken items from that room and he hopes by accepting responsibility that people here in Boston and around the world will eventually understand that he did not do so out of malice or in any way to condone what the Tsarnaevs have allegedly done.”

According to the plea deal, Kadyrbayev could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison and then deported to his native Kazakhstan.

His attorney Robert Stahl said Kadyrbayev’s father was in court Thursday to support his son, who’s spent the last year and a half in mostly solitary confinement.

Stahl said, “His father of course like any father is hoping for the best outcome and that his son will after this be returned home to his family and friends where he can try to get on with his life.”

Kadyrbayev’s attorney would not comment on whether his client planned to testify against Tsarnaev in his trial.

Stahl said, “Let me be very clear that Dias did not know that Dzohkhar or Tamerlan Tsarnaev were planning the marathon bombing.”

Kadyrbayev's attorney also would not comment on whether the conviction of Kadyrbayev's friend Azamat Tazhayakov last month on similar charges played a role in his decision to change his plea to guilty.

Sentencing is set for November 18th at 2pm.

Judge Woodlock has merely received the plea agreement at this time.

He will wait for sentencing reports from the prosecution and defense before he decides whether to accept or reject the plea deal.

If rejected, the case would proceed to trial.

If accepted, Kadyrbayev faces up to seven year in prison, then deportation.

Photo Credit: AP

Police Search for Man Who Tried to Steal Luxury Cars


Police are searching for the young man who tried to steal two luxury cars from a Hartford dealership earlier this month.

According to police, the suspect snuck onto the Carmax lot at 89 Weston Street between 3:20 a.m. and 5 a.m. Aug. 10 and tried to leave with two luxury vehicles.

Police said the suspect drove both cars into a metal gate, damaging both the fence and the vehicles.

He’s described as a light-skinned black or Hispanic man between the ages of 18 and 25. Police said the suspect is tall and thin with short, black hair and may have suffered facial injuries when the airbags were deployed.

Anyone with information is urged to call Hartford police Sgt. Andrew Weaver at 860-757-4214 or submit an anonymous tip online.

Photo Credit: Hartford Police Department

2 Charged in School Shooting Plot


Two South Pasadena boys have been charged with making criminal threats for threatening to kill another teen who knew of their alleged plot to shoot students and staff at their high school, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The boys, aged 16 and 17, are each charged with one count of making criminal threats. They both made appearances this afternoon in Pasadena Juvenile Court and denied the charge, which is the equivalent of a not-guilty plea in adult court, according to City News Service.

The father of the 17-year-old boy spoke with NBC4 outside of the courtroom, but asked that his name not be used. He said he has not been able to speak with his son and he does want to hear the boy's side of the story.

"We were greatly saddened and disappointed by the allegations. We would like to apologize to the community of South Pasadena. We would like to thank the person who stepped forward, who had the courage, to advise the authorities," he said.

"And thank South Pasadena Police Department for their professionalism and their kindness to us during this difficult issue."

The step-father of the 16-year-old boy also spoke to reporters before he was whisked away by a defense attorney.

"My wife and I would like to apologize to the whole community, every student, every parent, every faculty. We do not condone this kind of behavior," he said.

Prosecutors say the teens began making detailed arrangements to kill three staff members at South Pasadena High School and gun down as many students as possible.

The pair told another student about the mass shooting plan and they threatened to kill him, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

The plan was thwarted after the boys were arrested following a police investigation into the alleged plot.

The boys were arrested Monday after a search of their homes. South Pasadena Police Chief Art Miller said the threat the two posed was credible.

"It was very viable, what they were plotting," Miller said. "They were making a huge plan of a school massacre."

Searches of the boys' computers turned up evidence they were looking at weapons, bomb-making supplies and bulletproof vests, Miller said.

The investigation into the thrwarted plot is ongoing and the boys may face additional charges.

The boys' attorneys were not available for immediate comment.

Photo Credit: Sean Browning/NBCLA

Madison Police Seek Restaurant Burglar


Police are searching for the man who robbed a Madison pizza place Tuesday and tried to break into two other restaurants in town.

According to police, the suspect pried open the front door of the Red Tomato Pizzeria at 37 Boston Post Road shortly after 5 a.m. Tuesday. He attempted to force his way inside two more restaurants but was unsuccessful, according to police.

Surveillance footage shows the suspect to be a white man wearing long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and a baseball cap. He’s seen with a black four-door sedan.

Anyone with information is urged to call Madison police Sgt. Mulhern or Det. Sudock at 203-245-2721.

Photo Credit: Madison Police Department

Aide's Elder Abuse Caught on Camera


Disturbing video captured by surveillance cameras shows a home health care aide abusing a 78-year-old Queens stroke victim, slapping his trembling arm and jerking his head by his nose while trying to force-feed him.

The family of Bentsion Murakhovsky, a 115-pound man paralyzed on his left side who has trouble speaking and swallowing food, installed the surveillance cameras after Murakhovsky told them a home health aide provided by Personal-Touch Home Care treated him improperly.

That home health aide was replaced by a second one sent by Personal-Touch Home Care after Murakhovsky's wife and granddaughter complained about the alleged abuse; the surveillance system was installed prior to the start of the new home health aide's employment in the home to ensure no future lapses in care would occur.

Video captured on surveillance cameras April 8 show the new home health aide abusing Murakhovsky. In one clip, the aide grabs his wrist, slams it into his side and grabs Murakhovsky's nose while pushing a napkin into his face in an effort to force-feed him.

A second clip provided by Murakhovsky's attorney shows the aide twice grab his nose while feeding him and using it to jerk his head back and forth as the patient nervously taps his fingers on his leg.

In another clip captured the same day, Murakhovsky lifts a blanket from his lap to wipe his face and the attendant grabs it, flings it away from the man and slaps his right arm. The 78-year-old is seen trembling as the aide gestures as if yelling at him. The videos have no audio.


The family only checked the surveillance archive after Murakhovsky's wife returned home one day in April to find her husband's face bruised, the family's attorney, Philip Monier III, said. Monier said Murakhovsky's wife said he was unusually withdrawn that day and appeared depressed and frightened. She called her granddaughter; the two of them checked the surveillance cameras and discovered the abuse.

The Murakhovskys called the NYPD. Charges against the home health aide are pending, and the family is suing the New York City branch of Personal-Touch Home Care, which has more than 50 locations in 11 states.

"Mr. Murakhovsky was a prisoner of his own body, defenseless to stop the healthcare worker looming in front of him," Monier said. "You see a fearful, elderly man being terrorized by a home healthcare aide."

"No one should be treated like that," Monier added. "This company is supposed to be sending trained and qualified workers to help elderly disabled people like Mr. Murakhovsky, and they are getting paid a lot of money for sending unqualified workers."

The lawsuit, filed earlier this month in Kings County Supreme Court, seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

Murakhovsky's granddaughter Gabriel Murakhovsky said he's a proud Russian immigrant who helped raise her and is now virtually helpless.

"My grandfather was a very strong man and it's bad enough he got sick and he's humiliated now that he can't change or he can't do certain things," she said. "For a person to destroy him like that physically and emotionally, I think that is very reckless." 

David Slifkin, CEO of Personal-Touch Home Care, said the allegations were disturbing.

"Each and every one of the thousands of patients we service are treated as part of the Personal-Touch family," Slifkin said. "Even one incident of potential patient abuse is not acceptable. We exercise many precautions to prevent this type of situation from happening." 

Slifkin said the company, which draws staff from a pool of about 12,000 paraprofessionals and 3,000 nurses, puts each aide it hires through a criminal background check using fingerprints. References are checked and prior work history is verified. The company said hires are assessed for any signs of inappropriate behavior during on-the-job training, and representatives make random welfare checks at homes where aides are placed.

Slifkin said Personal-Touch is cooperating with police.

-- Rob Schmitt contributed to this report. 

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York

Police Arrest 6 After Shoplifting Incident at Clinton Outlet Mall


Police arrested six people after finding stolen merchandise from at least five stores at the Clinton Crossing Premium Outlets in the car two of the suspects were trying to drive away in.

New Haven residents Atavia Wilson, 35, Darlyn Shepard, 34, Tavrie Wicher, 22, Leanie Hayes, 22, and Alexzae Tyson, 18, are facing multiple charges including larceny. A 16-year-old was also charged in the case, but police did not release the name because the person is a juvenile.

Clinton police received a 911 call at about 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday reporting a shoplifting incident at the Nike store at the outlets. The report said that six female suspects stole items and fled the store.

Police located two of the suspects trying to drive away in a car and stopped them, finding $1,000-worth of merchandise from Adidas, Under Armor, Old Navy, Yankee Candle and Bath & Body Works in the car. Officers also found a knife, "snips used to remove security sensors and bags "believed to be used at various stores" to shoplift on the passenger seat, police said.

Police identified the four other suspects through witness statements and Nike's surveillance video and found them after they disposed of stolen merchandise, police said. Officers determined that the six people came to the outlet mall in two separate cars. While they couldn't find the other car, they believe more stolen merchandise was stashed there.

Two of the suspects also had outstanding arrest warrants from other police departments and all six had a criminal record involving "similar activity," police said.

Wilson, Shepard, Wicher, Hayes and Tyson were all charged with fourth-degree larceny, conspiracy to commit larceny and interfering with police. Police also charged Hayes with two outstanding failure to appear charges.

Police did not specify the juvenile's charges.

Security personnel at the Clinton outlet mall assisted with the investigation.

Police released all adult suspects on a bond and they are scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 2 at 9 a.m. Officers released the juvenile to a parent.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

"Affluenza" Teen's Father Arrested for Impersonating an Officer


The father of a North Texas teen whose defense blamed “affluenza” for his deadly DUI wreck has been arrested and accused of identifying himself as a police officer.

Frederick Anthony Couch was arrested Tuesday for falsely identifying himself as a police officer and for misrepresentation of property, North Richland Hills police said.

Officers were called to a disturbance on the 4400 block of Mackey Drive just after 1 a.m. July 28, police said Tuesday. 

There, resident Keith Capo said Couch had a gun and had shown up with Capo's neighbor, who he said threatened him following a disagreement days before.

Capo's wife then called police.

"The officer I was speaking to was all gung-ho. He said, 'What do you want to happen?' I said, 'I want to press charges,'" Capo said.

Investigating officers spoke with Couch, who they said presented a badge and an identification card and identified himself as a reserve officer for the small Lake Worth community of Lakeside.

According to police, as officers were wrapping up their investigation at the scene, Couch reiterated that he was a reserve police officer and said he had his "police stuff" in his car.

"Couch reached into his vehicle and took out his wallet, displaying what appeared to be a police badge and identification card, suggesting he was a police officer," police said in a news release Tuesday.

The officers at the scene looked into Couch's status as a reserve officer and learned that he was not an officer with the City of Lakeside and has never been licensed as a police officer in the state of Texas.

Capo said if Couch broke the law this time, he should pay the consequences, like anyone else.

"I just hope he understands that you can't sit there and say and do whatever you want, just because you got more money than anybody else. I mean, that's not right," Capo said.

Following his arrest Tuesday, Couch was taken to the city's detention facility for processing with bond set at $2,500.

Couch's son, Ethan, was intoxicated and behind the wheel of a pickup truck when he crashed and killed four people while injuring several others in June 2013.

The "affluenza" defense, which garnered national attention, maintained that the teen suffered from a condition where he had no sense of responsibility due to a lack of parenting.

Couch was subsequently sentenced to 10 years probation on four counts of intoxication manslaughter and ordered to be admitted to a rehabilitation facility at his parents' expense.

Since the verdict, the Couch family has settled several lawsuits worth millions of dollars with the families of the victims.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

Special Ed Kids Had to Sort Trash


Parents of special education students in a Southern California city say they were outraged to learn their children had been sorting trash as a school activity.

The Press-Enterprise reported Wednesday that Jurupa Unified Superintendent Elliot Duchon apologized to humiliated students and suspended the activity.

The apology came at a heated school board meeting Monday night. Parents sounded off over the program at Patriot High School that had special education students sort through campus trash bins for recyclables.

Duchon says the program aims to teach special education students general life skills like budgeting and purchasing groceries.

Parent Carmen Wells complained after learning her autistic son was digging through trash on his first day as a high school freshman.

Photo Credit: Bob Hansen

New Haven Artists to Transform I-91 Underpass


Walking along the underpass on Humphrey Street in New Haven is not impressive, but the "Under 91 Project" hopes to make the area bright and friendly.

Starting in September, artists will begin to transform the space.

“Each and every section of this bridge is going to have something for each and every individual in the community,” said the project's curator, a local artist named Dooley-O Jackson.

The idea spun off from the 2012 Inside Out Project in New Haven, which featured photos of neighborhood faces.

The Under 91 Project took submissions from local artists for a permanent display, and residents voted on a mural called "Bright Big Wall."

“It's going to make you drive by and stop, and pull over, and say wow this is beautiful,” said Dooley-O.

In the past, underpass artwork became the victim of vandalism at times. The Under 91 Project knows it's a possibility and is preparing for it.

“We want to make sure this is actually a beautification. We want it to be kept nice, so one of the things we've done is incorporated maintenance of it into the budget. We know the artists we're working with are thinking about what it's going to be like if a part gets vandalized,” said New Haven Alderwoman Jessica Holmes.

People walking through the area think it will do wonders for the space.

“Probably bring more life to the street and community,” said New Haven resident Orlando Quintana.

The Under 91 Project is still seeking funding. You can learn more about the project online.

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