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57-Year-Old Man Accused of Sexually Assaulting Teen


Stamford police have arrested a 57-year-old man they say sexually assaulted a teen girl who reported the abuse after learning she was pregnant.

Police say Andre Joseph, 57, carried on a sexual relationship with a girl for several years, after grooming her for years before that.

When the girl learned at 14 that she was pregnant, she came forward to police and told investigators she believes Joseph is the father.

Joseph was aware that there was an arrest warrant for him and moved to the New Haven and Bridgeport area to avoid authorities, who have been searching for him for weeks, police determined.

Police also learned that Joseph is a cab driver who makes airport trips to and from Stamford, so they used that to nab him.

Officers crafted a plan to make Joseph believe he was picking up a client in Stamford who needed to get to JFK Airport, police said.

Instead, Joseph was sent to an abandoned home on a dead-end street on the East Side of Stamford. When he arrived around 4:30 a.m. on Friday, police took him into custody.

Joseph was charged with first-degree sexual assault and risk of injury. The court set bond at $25,000 and Joseph will be arraigned today.

Police said they are seeking a higher bond after Joseph made comments to friends that he intends to flee back to Haiti.

DNA tests will be done to determine if Joseph is the father of the baby.

It is not clear if Joseph has an attorney.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut

Photo Credit: Stamford Police

Missing 6-Year-Old Found Hiding in Vernon Store


Police have found 6-year-old Nate Stillman, who was missing for more than an hour from the Shops at 30 Plaza on Hartford Turnpike in Vernon.

Nate had been hiding in the Just Like New consignment shop, according to Vernon police. Authorities checked the store twice and, on the third pass, found him wedged in a bookcase.

His mom, Michelle Stillman, thanked authorities and community members for taking action.

"I'm just so happy to have my son back right now," she said. "And just thanks for getting the picture out and everyone responding so quickly. I'm so grateful and just want to say thank you."

Nate has dark hair and pale skin. Police said he is 46-inches tall and weighs 52 pounds. He's wearing a blue Star Wars T-shirt and dark shorts.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Abandoned, Neglected Chihuhua Finds Forever Home


After lots of love and medical care, neglected Chihuahua found tied outside Waterford-East Lyme Animal Control has found her forever home.

Six-year-old "Hope" was found tied to a pipe outside the animal control facility with a host of health problems. Her toenails were so long they had curled around her paws and were cutting into the pads, her teeth had rotted and her body was riddled with tumors and skin problems.

But with lots of TLC, Hope was nursed back to health and went home with her excited new owner on Firday.

"This little pup has touched all our hearts as we followed her journey through the animal shelter," an Animal Control officer wrote on the facility's Facebook page. "From her very sad entrance to her very happy exit, her turn around has been miraculous and I am very proud to be part of such a great community, the way people came together to get this pup the medical attention she needed made me very proud."

Hope's recovery was thanks in part to donations from community members who pitched in to help cover the cost of her medical expenses.

Photo Credit: Waterford-East Lyme Animal Control

Waterford Police Search for DSW Shoplifting Suspects


Waterford police are searching for the people who stole shoes from a local DSW store Thursday evening.

Police said two people stole from the store at Waterford Commons around 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 21.

Surveillance footage shows the suspects to be two black women, one wearing a blue shirt and patterened pants and the other wearing a light-colored tank top and black shorts carrying a pink bag.

Anyone with information about the thefts is asked to call Officer O'Connell at 860-442-9451 ext. 391 or email toconnell@waterfordct.org. If you have a tip, reference case number 2014-01694.

Photo Credit: Watertown Police Department

Daughter of Murder-Suicide Perpetrator Speaks Out


The daughter of a Coventry man who fatally shot his wife and himself last year says state officials repeatedly ignored warning signs leading up to the tragedy.

She's asking leaders to take action.

Greg Pawloski fatally shot his wife, Janice Lesko, before turning the gun on himself last August. Pawloski’s 16-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, Rachel, of East Hampton, hosted a press conference in Coventry on Friday urging state leaders to make some changes.

“No child should endure what I haven. Yet they do, every single day. This must change,” Rachel Pawloski said.

The teen founded a nonprofit organization called Youth Alliance Against Violence in the wake of the murder-suicide. She said family members reached out to the Department of Children and Families for help 60 days before the shooting.

“DCF failed Janice Lesko. DCF failed Greg Pawloski. And the courts are to blame,” said Rachel Pawloski.

Her father’s ex-wife and Rachel’s mother, Kimberley Fontaine, said her former husband had previous domestic violence arrests.

“The night that I attempted to end my relationship with Greg Pawloski in 2001, he was trying to get his hands on a gun,” Fontaine said.

Court paperwork from October 2001 shows that authorities seized Greg Pawloski’s guns – including a .22-caliber rifle, antique rifle and 16-gauge shotgun – but the firearms were later returned to him.

“I believe in the right to bear arms afford to us in the United States Constitution... to the extent that those who have a history of perpetrating domestic violence should no longer be afforded that right,” said Rachel Pawloski.

Now she and other family members are pushing for changes, including improvements in record-keeping and communication between the Department of Children and Families and local police departments.

“I’m saying there’s an enormous paper trail, and if someone had actually looked to find it, they should have been able to find it,” Fontaine explained.

DCF issued a statement Friday afternoon following the press conference.

"The Department of Children and Families applauds the courage of Rachel Pawloski for speaking out in support of stronger measures to prevent domestic violence in Connecticut," said Josh Howroyd, of DCF.

"While DCF cannot disclose the specific case details regarding our involvement with her family, we can confirm that we did respond to a report in April 2013 which was processed as a Family Assessment Response Case, which provides a comprehensive assessment of child safety, risk of subsequent child abuse or neglect, family strengths and needs," Howroyd said. "After interviewing family members and collateral contacts over the course of five weeks, there were recommendations for counseling services and the Department closed our involvement in May 2013."

Calif. Bill: Dogs Can Eat Out


Sit. Stay. Dine.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Thursday allowing dogs to dine with owners if seated in an outdoor section of a restaurant.

"It will soon be legal to take your beagle with you to dinner," Mariko Yamada, the assembly member who championed the bill, said in a statement. "I wish everyone ‘bone-appétit’."

But those who aren’t as dog-friendly don’t have to worry – the law doesn’t force restaurant owners to allow dogs in establishments.

Owners have discretion on whether a dog is allowed to dine alfresco, according to the bill.

"Amidst all the horrific and depressing news around us, I hope this bill helps make people a little happier, and businesses who wish to accommodate diners with dogs safe from being unnecessarily cited," Yamada wrote on her Facebook page.

The restaurant also must have an outdoor entrance that doesn’t require the pet to walk through the restaurant to get to the outdoor area.

Dogs will have to be on a leash and well behaved, and they can’t sit on chairs or benches.

The bill also says that wait staff cannot have direct contact with a dog or pet them, and if they do, they must sanitize their hands.

Pets cannot be in the same area where food is being prepared.

Though the bill applies to restaurants statewide, cities can still pass local regulations that ban pooches from restaurant patios.

"We can't wait to legally come to dinner with our human friends," a Facebook group supporting AB 1965 wrote.

The law goes into effect Jan. 1.

Sutter Brown, the first dog of California and Gov. Brown’s pooch, was not available for comment.

Man Beats "Possessed" Roommate


A Miami man was arrested after he killed a cat and attacked his elderly roommate, police said.

Joshua Diaz, 24, is facing charges of animal cruelty, battery and battery on a person over 65 following his arrest late Thursday, Miami-Dade Police said.

Diaz was being held on $5,000 bond Friday and it was unknown if he has an attorney.

According to an arrest report, Diaz choked 72-year-old Elanor Wallace, his roommate, on Monday causing her to lose consciousness for a couple of minutes. When the woman woke up, Diaz was on top of her trying to wake her up, the report said.

Diaz told the woman if she called police he would kill her, the report said.

"He told me, 'If you cry... If I see even a tear or fear in your eyes, I will kill you right now,'" Wallace said.

Diaz later admitted to killing the cat, saying he did so because it scratched his head, the report said. The cat's body was found in a bag in a trash can, the report said.

He was also asked by officers if he had attacked his roommate.

"[Diaz] stated he did not, but believed that the victim was possessed," the report said.

A judge told Diaz in bond court he could not continue living with Wallace. When Diaz said he could stay with his uncle, the judge asked, "Your uncle doesn't have any cats, does he?"

Photo Credit: Miami-Dade Corrections

Thousands of Pot Plants Seized


More than 5,500 marijuana plants were seized and 14 people were arrested in connection with an illegal pot farm, officials said.

The seizure came from busts on Wednesday and Thursday from nine residences in unincorporated areas across the San Bernardino County, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department officials said.

Authorities seized up to 5,557 marijuana plants, about 170 pounds of processed marijuana, four firearms and a "large quantity" of Hydrocodone pills, which comes from codeine, the Sheriff's Department said in a statement.

The residences searched were in Joshua Tree, Landers, Bloomington and Helendale. They all had large-scale outdoor pot farms, officials said.

Some of the people arrested used fake medical marijuana recommendations as a front for their illegal cultivations, but the operations were "strictly for-profit," the Sheriff's Department said.

Route 8 South Reopens in Naugatuck


Route 8 southbound has reopened in Naugatuck following a motorcycle crash, according to the Department of Transportation.

The highway was shut down briefly Friday night between exits 25 and 26.

Police said crews worked to clear debris from the roadway and shortly afterward responded to a motorcycle crash.

The motorcyclist was not injured, according to police.

Waterbury to Welcome Home Local Astronaut


Waterbury is getting ready to welcome home a local astronaut who has spent the past several months in space.

Astronaut Rick Mastracchio returned in May from a six-month expedition on board the International Space Station and will make an appearance Wednesday, Sept. 10 at Crosby High School at 300 Pierpont Road in Waterbury, according to a release from Waterbury Public Schools.

He'll discuss his recent mission and the emergency space walks required when the cooling system failed aboard the ISS in December.

Mastracchio has stayed well connected while in space. He hosted a video conference with students at Waterbury's Palace Theater, gave the 2014 commencement speace for the UConn School of Engineering and hosted several live interviews.

He's also been active on Twitter, sharing photos of all areas of the world snapped from space.

Mastracchio attended Chase Elementary School and Crosby High School in Waterbury and went on to study electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Connecticut.

He received a master's degree in electrical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a master's in physical science from the University of Houston-Clear Lake.

The release from Waterbury Public Schools called Mastracchio "one of the most prolific astronauts of all time."

Photo Credit: AP

Teens Charged in Bridgeport Armed Robbery


Bridgeport police have arrested two 18-year-olds accused of robbing a man at gunpoint late Thursday night and stealing his iPhone and cash.

Nelson Busanet and Demetriuse Geyer were charged Friday.

The teens are accused of robbing a man at gunpoint in Went Field Park in Iranistan Avenue on Thursday. Police said a second victim was also involved, but it's not clear what may have been taken from that person.

Responding officers searched the area and spotted the teens in the area of Olive Street and Park Avenue. Busanet was found with the victim's phone in his pocket, according to police.

Geyer was taken into custody on Wood Avenue, police said.

Both Busanet and Geyer were charged with first-degree robbery and conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery. Geyer is also facing narcotics charges.

Busanet's bond was set at $50,000 and Geyer's was set at $100,000.

Photo Credit: Bridgeport Police Department

Cops: Couple Had Fake Babies


Police in the San Joaquin Valley, California, arrested a woman on trespassing charges after they say she was trying to access a hospital maternity ward.

Merced police said 41-year-old Tonya Whitney and her husband carried dolls that looked like fake babies into Mercy Medical Center on two occasions in the past week. Whitney wore a nurses outfit, carried an old visitor’s pass and a fake baby in a carrier, authorities said. She is facing misdemeanor trespassing charges.

Whitney was turned away before she could get into the maternity ward, according to police, who said they found many life-like dolls inside the woman’s Merced apartment. Whitney said the whole thing is a misunderstanding. She said she sells the dolls and was only at the hospital to make a sales pitch.

Police said Whitney and her husband tried accessing the maternity ward at Mercy Medical twice, the first time on Saturday after visiting the emergency department. "They then returned Monday and they once again attempted,” Merced Police Capt. Tom Trinidad said. “Of course this prompted an immediate response from the hospital because they wanted to secure the safety of the children."

"If you look at it, could be suspicious,” Capt. Trinidad said. “Of course, the assumption could be made that she was there for the purpose of switching out a fake life-like baby with a real baby."

Authorities said hospital security staff noticed the couple's odd behavior, treating the dolls as if they were real, cuddling them and changing diapers.

Police said Whitney has at least one child. Her husband was not arrested.

Attempts to reach Mercy Medical staff for comment were not immediately successful.

NBC's Fresno affiliate KSEE-TV contributed to this report.

Victims Pulled From Cars After in Torrington Crash: Police


Authorities are responding to a crash at East Main Street and Torringford Road in Torrington, where  people are apparently trapped and being extricated from their vehicles, according to Torrington police.

There has been no word on injuries. The details of the crash, which was reported shortly after 10 p.m. Friday, are unclear.

No additional information was immediately available.

Check back for updates.

Hartford Holds Community Meeting to Address Violence


Hartford residents are calling for an end to violence in the city and gathered together Friday night to meet with city leaders and law enforcement officials.

Police chiefs from Hartford and surrounding departments joined Mayor Pedro Segarra, Governor Dannel Malloy and concerned residents for a community meeting at the Faith Congregational Church on Main Street.

It comes just days after 18-year-old Luis Anglero was shot with a Taser while police were trying to break up an unruly crowd.

The meeting was intended to open the lines of communication for better community policing, but instead, accusations were flung at Hartford police from neighbors who say they’ve crossed the line.

“You’re a threat to my community,” Angerlo’s mother, Maryann Yearwood, told police at the meeting Friday night. Yearwood and others accused police of using excessive force.

Malloy shared his reaction to surveillance footage that captured the incident.

“Watching that video, I was momentarily sickened,” he said.

But authorities say Anglero was aggressive and refused to cooperate with officers at the scene. He’s been charged with interfering with police and breach of peace.

“I think the charges need to be dropped, and I think that would be a good signal that there’s some type of good faith right now,” said Scot Esdaile, president of the Connecticut chapter of the NAACP.

Police Chief James Rovella said the department has launched an internal investigation into the incident.

“I’m not worried about putting stuff out there,” Rovella said Friday night. “I’m more interested in a fair investigation for the young man and for the officer.”

Segarra said crime has dropped significantly in Hartford because of collaboration between police and residents, adding that the city is hoping to continue building that partnership.

Community activists said the city needs to resolve this week’s tasing incident before they can move on.

Anglero is in good condition and was released from the hospital Thursday.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Community Mourns 1-Year-Old Stabbed to Death


Community members gathered Friday night to mourn the loss of a 1-year-old girl, who was stabbed to death by an extended family member in Bristol earlier this week, according to police.

The vigil was held in honor of baby Zaniyah Calloway, who died after being stabbed in the torso Monday at a home on Park Street. Community members walked along Divinity Street tonight holding candles, then gathered at Rockwell Park for a memorial service.

Residents said they're raising money to help the family give Zaniyah a proper burial.

Thirty-six-year-old Arthur Hapgood, an extended family member, has been charged with murder.

Hapgood’s mother was watching Zaniyah when family members say Hapgood suddenly grew angry and grabbed a knife. Zaniyah was stabbed in the stomach and died of her injuries.

Police said Hapgood admitted to the stabbing and said he had taken illegal drugs. According to the incident report, when asked which drugs, Hapgood said, “All of them.”

Hapgood is being held on $2.5 million bond and is due in court Sept. 9.

Man Shot in Arm in Hartford


Hartford police are investigating a shooting at Albany Avenue and Baltimore Street.

The victim, who has not been publicly identified, told officers he was approached by a stranger while walking down the street and was shot in the arm.

He's being treated for non-life threatening injuries.

No additional information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Plainfield Police Arrest Suspected Serial Burglar


Plainfield police have arrested the man they believe is responsible for about half of over 20 residential burglaries they have investigated in the Moosup Village portion of town since mid-July.

William R. Gibson, 26, of Moosup Village, is facing multiple burglary charges after police took him into custody early Saturday morning following his two attempts to leave the state, according to police.

Police stopped Gibson on his way to the Providence, Rhode island bus terminal at 10 a.m. on Thursday with a bus ticket to Texas, but he refused to cooperate with police and didn't have any of the stolen items on him, according to a news release from Plainfield Police Chief Michael G. Surprenant. Police interviewed him and released him.

But later, a local cab company and Gibson's Texas relatives told police that he was in Providence with another bus ticket to Texas and helped get him back to Plainfield for a second interview with police. By that point, police had enough evidence to charge him in the serial burglaries and obtained an arrest warrant.

Officers took Gibson into custody on Saturday at 3:45 a.m. Police charged him with eight counts of third-degree burglary, second-degree burglary, three counts of conspiracy to commit third-degree burglary, five counts of sixth-degree larceny, fifth-degree larceny, two counts of fourth-degree larceny, two counts of third-degree larceny and four counts of third-degree criminal mischief.

Police are holding Gibson in custody on a $250,000 bond until his arraignment Monday in Danielson Superior Court.

The department anticipates further arrests in connection to the rash of burglaries over the past month.

In the meantime, Planfield police remind residents to "remain vigilant, lock their doors, and report any suspicious activity" to the department at 860-564-0804 or via the anonymous tip line at 860-564-7065 "if the incident does not need immediate attention."

Photo Credit: Plainfield Police Department

Ice Bucket Challenge Founder Speaks


The New York man who helped create the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge says he's stunned by how quickly the movement has taken off and is heartened by the new conversation around the little-known disease.

Patrick Quinn, 31, of Yonkers, was inspired by a Pelham, New York family who performed the stunt, and he decided to recruit 50 friends to do the same in the name of ALS awareness. With each person nominating three other people to do the challenge, the act went viral. 

"Within the first day or two, our whole news feed was covered in ice bucket challenges," he said. 

Quinn knows how vital it is to raise awareness about the disease, which still has very little research surrounding it. He was diagnosed with ALS last March at the age of 30. 

"It's a tough disease. The life expectancy for myself was changed from an old man to 2 to 5 years," he said. "It's been whirlwind, it's tough." 

Quinn said he's lost muscle in his arms, upper back and neck. His legs are still functioning, but they're shaky and twitch frequently. He can no longer lift anything over his head without help. 

"It's a lot of muscle loss and atrophy at this point," he said. 

There's still no known cause for ALS, and that's why Quinn is hoping the increase in donations and funding from the ice bucket challenges will expand the research into the devastating disease. The ALS Association says it received $62.5 million in donations from July 29 to August 23 this year, compared to $2.4 million in the same time frame last year. 

As for criticism that the viral stunt has gotten too narcissistic or self-involved, Quinn brushes it off as irrelevant. 

"If people are doing it and mentioning ALS, even if they don't know what they're doing, they're still creating awareness," he said. "That was our initial intent. Awareness increases support, and more support equals more funding. More funding, hopefully more research." 

"The momentum we're building for ALS right now is incredible," he said. "We're just gonna ride it out and hopefully raise as much money as we can." 

To learn more about ALS or to make a donation, visit alsa.org

Police Investigate Shooting That Wounded Man, 49


New Haven police are investigating an overnight shooting that witnesses say stemmed from a dispute between neighbors, seriously injuring a 49-year-old man.

Police responded to 8A Station Court in the Church Street South Public Housing complex in New Haven at about midnight on Saturday after receiving a 911 call reporting a shooting incident.

Officers found Luis Perez, 49, of New Haven, suffering a gunshot wound to his left clavicle, police said.

Someone may have shot Perez after a fight stemming from a neighbor dispute, according to preliminary accounts from witnesses to police.

An ambulance transported him to Yale-New Haven Hospital for treatment and he was listed in serious condition on Saturday morning, police said.

Detectives have "significant leads" in the case that they are following up on, but police are not releasing a description of a suspect at this time.

Police ask witnesses or anyone with information on the shooting to contact detectives at 203-946-6304.

The case remains under investigation.

Security Officers Beat Man


Two California transit security officers have been suspended as La Mesa Police investigate a “disturbing” video that shows them tackling, grabbing and punching a shirtless man on board a moving trolley.

The Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) handed the footage from its public camera over the police to determine if the hired Transit Systems Security (TSS) officers used excessive force in the Aug. 18 incident. TSS is under contract to provide armed security officers for MTS.

The altercation started when the shirtless man – whose identity has not been released— boarded the MTS trolley at the Grossmont Trolley Station. In the ten-minute MTS video, the TSS officers are seen verbally confronting the man, though it is unclear what they were saying.

Suddenly, both officers lunge at him. They wrestle with him, standing on seats for better access and throwing the victim to the other side of the trolley as it moves through La Mesa.

The video then shows the officers pulling out their batons and striking the man over and over.

Six minutes later, when the trolley has pulled up to the 70th Street Trolley Station, the two men leave the victim sitting on a seat to order everyone else off the trolley car.

They talk with the man for another minute or so and wrestle with him again. Finally, a third officer comes on board to help escort the man out.

The victim was later taken to the hospital for minor injuries.

“The video depicting the incident is disturbing and not reflective of TSS culture,” said TSS Chief Executive Officer Steve Jones in a news release. “Our top priority is to ensure that MTS passengers enjoy a safe and secure public transportation experience. We are investigating this incident thoroughly and if any violation of TSS policy and procedures are found to have occurred, swift and appropriate personnel action will be taken.”

MTS officials say after an initial review, they referred the issue to the La Mesa Police Department, which will work with the District Attorney’s Office to determine if criminal charges will be filed.

Both MTS and TSS launched internal investigations to be completed next week. At that point, they will decide if disciplinary action – which could include termination – will be taken.

“It appears at this time that the actions taken by the security officers were unacceptable,” said Paul Jablonski, chief executive officer of MTS, in a statement. “MTS and TSS do not tolerate the inappropriate use of force by its employees or those of its contractors.”

The officers, whose names have not been released, will be suspended until the end of the police investigation.

La Mesa Police are asking anyone who saw the fight, recorded video of it or took pictures to call Lt. Matt Nicholass at 619-667-7512.

Photo Credit: MTS
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