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Police Investigate Whether Drag Racing Lead to Fatal Crash


New Haven police are investigating to determine whether drag racing played a part in a deadly accident Sunday morning.

Police were called to Long Wharf Drive between the Canal Dock and the Interstate 95 northbound entrance ramp around 12:15 a.m. Sunday.

Initially, police believed it was an accident involving a single car that struck the barrier. Police said 20-year-old Olvin Cruz, of New Haven, was ejected from the car.

Cruz, the driver and a female passenger and the driver were all rushed to Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Police said Cruz was pronounced dead at the hospital arpimd 12:45 a.m.

The female passenger, identified as 19-year-old Ninoska Roman, of New Haven, underwent surgery and was listed in critical condition.

The driver, 29-year-old John Rodriguez, also of New Haven, was conscious and alert at the scene and suffered non-life threatening injuries, according to police.

Rodriguez told officers another car cut him off while he was trying to enter the highway, according to police.

While police were investigating, a witness reported that a white Toyota Rav4 had been involved and was parked on Church Street South near Union Avenue.

Police found the Rav4 parked on the street with the driver still inside.

The driver, a man who has not been publicly identified, was arrested and charged with driving under the influence. It is not clear if the Toyota was involved in the crash.

Police said Long Wharf Drive is known for drag racing, and officers are investigating to determine whether that played a part in the accident.

According to police, the car that crashed had been turbo-charged and modified in the style of a typical street racing car.

Police Seek Dollar Store Robbers


Willimantic police are looking for two men who robbed a dollar store in town on Sunday night.

Police responded to a robbery at the Family Dollar Store at 1589 West Main Street at 8:45 p.m. on Sunday.

Two store employees police interviewed told police that the robbers implied they had a weapon and stole a large sum of cash before fleeing on foot westbound on West Main Street. No weapons were actually shown, police said.

Police ask anyone with information on the robbery to contact Willimantic Police Department's Detective Division at 860-465-3135.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

By the Numbers: Napa Earthquake's Impact


The strongest earthquake in 25 years shook Northern California early Sunday, causing significant damage and injuring scores in the heart of the Napa wine region.

Here's a look at the toll the quake has taken so far:

6.0: The magnitude of the temblor, making it the largest in the Bay Area since the 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta quake in 1989.

3:20 a.m.: The time the earthquake rattled residents awake across the region.

10-20 seconds: The length of the earthquake, which hit about six miles south of Napa, according to the United States Geological Survey.

208:  The number of patients treated or admitted at Napa's Queen of the Valley Medical Center, according to a representative. Of those, 17 were admitted and one person there is in critical condition. Another 13-year-old boy was taken in serious condition to UC Davis Medical Center. St. Helena Hospital reported treating eight people as of 6 p.m. Sunday.

50: Number of fires the Napa Fire Department put out.

90-100: The total number of homes and buildings rendered uninhabitable by the earthquake, the director of California Governor's Office of Emergency Services said, according to The Associated Press. Thirty-three buildings in Napa itself have been "red-tagged" as uninhabitable. Six mobile homes were destroyed and several other houses damaged in blazes that broke out following the earthquake.

90: The number of water lines that broke and needed repair in the city of Napa. Eight were repaired Sunday night.

150: The number of customers who remained without power as of 4 a.m. local time Monday. At one point Sunday, the number left in the dark following the earthquake was estimated to be about 70,000.

Up to 70: The number of aftershocks expected over the next week, according to USGS. At least 50 have been reported so far.

$1 billion: The amount generated annually by wine-related tourism, according to a 2012 report from the Napa Valley Vinters. The trade association pegs the industry's total economic impact in Napa County at $13 billion a year. While officials say it's too soon to tell what effect the earthquake will have on the region's wine producers, some tasting rooms and wineries reported damages and lost inventory.

$500 million to $1 billion: CoreLogic, which conducts natural hazard assessments, estimated the economic loss from from the quake in the region could range from $500 million to $1 billion.

7.7 million: Number of people exposed to light-to-moderate shaking, according to CoreLogic-EQECAT. A total of 60,000 people felt the greatest level of severe shaking, and 86,000 were subjected to very strong shaking.

 -NBC's Daniel Macht and NBC Bay Area's Lisa Fernandez contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: AP

Napa Takes Stock of Quake Damage


Downtown Napa remained shuttered on Monday, one day after a 6.0 earthquake jolted the heart of California wine country, though power was restored to nearly all of those plunged into darkness by the strongest quake to rattle the region in 25 years.

"Overall, we've made very, very impressive progress," Napa City Manager Mike Parness said at a Monday news conference where a host of city leaders highlighted the damage and the efforts to clean up the damage in the aftermath of Sunday's big quake. "We've been in emergency mode...We hope by tomorrow we will be in recovery phase."

Residents, businesses and officials continued to take stock of the damages from the temblor, which sent hundreds to the hospital and left up to 100 homes and buildings uninhabitable. The earthquake, which struck for about 10 to 20 seconds at 3:20 a.m.  nine miles south of Napa, was the largest to shake the Bay Area since the 6.9-magnitute Loma Prieta quake in 1989. Napa's fire chief said his team quashed 50 fires.

As of 4:30 a.m. Monday, 150 customers were without power, down from 70,000 on Sunday at its peak just after the Napa quake, PG&E said. The utility promised that "all power" would be restored later Monday morning. The Public Works Department in Napa also on Monday updated the number of water lines that broke and needed repair from 60 to 90. Eight had been repaired Sunday night.

On Monday, Napa's Community Development Director Rick Tooker said the number of structures that were red-tagged rose to 44 from 33, meaning they were deemed uninhabitable. In 2009, Napa was ordered to retrofit 18 of its historical downtown buildings up to seismic code. Twelve had been, but six were not - and three of those six suffered the worst damage.

In addition, Tooker also said a total of 100 buildings were yellow tagged, meaning that the owners were given a warning that the structure might be dangerous.

In terms of injuries, a total of 208 patients were treated at Queen of the Valley Medical Center on Sunday, though only 17 were admitted, according to hospital president Walt Mickens. Most suffered cuts to their feet and cardiac conditions. One person suffered a cardiac emergency and was still in critical condition on Monday morning.

The most serious patient,  identified on Monday as 13-year-old Nicholas Dillon, was airlifted in in serious condition to UC Davis Hospital, after a chimney collapsed on top of him.  But his aunt, Carmen Rosales, told NBC Bay Area that the ordeal could have been worse. Her nephew, was having a sleepover on Saturday night, and quickly moved from the air mattress on which he was sleeping when he felt the first jolt. Soon afterward, the fireplace collapased on the lower half of his body. X-rays show he suffered pelvic fractures, his aunt said, and there is no damage to his spine.

In a statement, the hospital said one person died on Sunday but doctors do not "believe this death was directly related to the earthquake." In addition, parents Connie Navarro and Angel Sanchez gave birth to a baby boy, Ismael Sanchez at 2:37 a.m. Sunday, just before the quake struck. The baby weighed in at 7 pounds, 10 ounces, the hospital reported.

Damage was also reported at wineries and tasting rooms central to the region's famed wine industry, which has an estimated annual economic impact of $13 billion in Napa County alone. In nearby Vallejo, city leaders estimated the damage there cost about $5 million.

CoreLogic, which conducts natural hazard assessments, estimated the economic loss from from the quake in the region could range from $500 million to $1 billion.

The early morning wake-up call was shocking.

“We were just sleeping and all of a sudden there was enormous amount of noise and our bed started bouncing from side to side,” said Dandridge Marsh, 37, who works in the wine retail business and lives in Napa with his wife. “You could hear things falling down.”

There were at least 50 aftershocks reported following the big quake.

All Napa Valley Unified School District schools were closed Monday to inspect for possible damage. Officials announced Monday afternoon public schools would be closed again on Tuesday. Napa Valley College did not suffer any major damage and will be open on Monday.

NBC Bay Area's Gonzalo Rojas, Jodi Hernandez, Marianne Favro, Shelby Hansen,  Bob Redell,  Riya Bhattacharjee and Geoffrey Eisler contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

Serial Burglar Arrested in West Haven: Police


West Haven police arrested a homeless man Sunday connected to at least 10 commercial burglaries after he admitted to breaking into a pizza restaurant and attempting to force entry into a market on Sawmill Road.

Police responded to the back of Halal Market at 211 Sawmill Road at about 2:20 on Sunday after receiving a report of a "suspicious person attempting to pry open a door" using a crowbar, police said in a news release.

Officers found Marion Mershon, 38, who they described as a "transient," hiding behind a telephone pole nearby. He was holding a shopping bag with rolls of coins and a flashlight and an umbrella concealing a crowbar. 

Mershon admitted to police that he broke into Pizza Palace and tried to get into Halal Market but was unsuccessful. Police found signs of forced entry at Pizza Palace. He also confessed to 10 recent commercial burglaries on Campbell Avenue, police said.

Police charged Mershon with third-degree burglary, attempt to commit the crime, possession of burglary tools, first-degree criminal mischief, sixth-degree larceny and interfering with an officer or resisting.

Police held him on a $50,000 bond and he is scheduled to appear in Milford Superior Court on Sept. 2.

Photo Credit: West Haven Police Department

Watch: Baby Tries to Sleep as Quake Rattles Crib


Whoa, baby!

Video taken from a baby monitor shows how strong the magnitude 6.0 Napa quake was felt in San Francisco.

In the video, which was recorded in a San Francisco home, a 21-month-old baby, Matthew, is seen moving in his crib as the ground starts to shake.

The video was provided by Artem Russakovskii, who reported everyone in the home was fine after the temblor.

Photo Credit: Artem Russakovskii

Ft. Lee Suicidal Soldier Dead


The soldier who shot herself at Fort Lee on Monday morning, prompting a temporary lockdown of the Army post, has died, U.S. military and law enforcement officials told NBC News.

Fort Lee officials say the shooting was reported at Combined Arms Support Command Headquarters, Building 5020 around 8:45 a.m. The woman entered the building "brandishing a small-caliber gun," which she reportedly turned on herself.

Fort Lee officials reported the "active shooter incident" around 10 a.m. Everyone inside the building was evacuated, and the post was placed on lockdown.

The woman locked herself inside a third floor office, throwing things around before putting the weapon to her head, said Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Lyons, a commanding general at Fort Lee.

The woman, who has only been identified by her rank of Sgt. 1st Class, was flown to an area hospital. Monday afternoon U.S. military officials said she had died.

Lyons said the victim has been in the Army for 14 years; she had been at Fort Lee for three years. She also spent 15 months in Iraq in 2007.

The last shooting on a military installation was reported in April, when an Iraq War veteran killed three people and injured 16 others at Fort Hood, Texas, before shooting himself. The shooter was identified was Ivan A. Lopez, 34.

Just weeks before the shooting at Fort Hood, a sailor was fatally shot at Naval Station Norfolk. Security forces on the base killed the male suspect shortly after aboard the guided-missile destroyer.

Last year, 12 people died when a government contractor began shooting inside the Navy Yard complex in Washington, D.C. Another four were injured. The gunman, a former Navy reservist identified as 34-year-old Aaron Alexis, was killed by officers.

Fort Lee is an Army post and headquarters of the U.S. Army's Combined Arms Support Command and a number of other defense training institutions. The daily population of Fort Lee averages about 34,000, including members of the military, their families and civilian contractors, according to the base’s Web site. It is the Army’s third largest training site, with as many as 70,000 troops spending time in its classrooms each year.

The base has grown enormously over the last decade as a result of base closings and its designation as a training base for military supply, maintenance, munitions and more, its Web site says.

Fort Lee is located about 25 miles south of Richmond, Virginia.

Back to School for Many Connecticut Students


Alarms went off early for some families Monday morning as summer wraps up and schools reopen in many Connecticut towns.

About 18,000 students alone are back in class at the Brass City of Waterbury in 20 elementary schools, three middle schools and three high schools. New London, Farmington and New Milford schools open Monday, as well.

This year, the message from Waterbury school officials to families is the importance of being in the classroom and that absences can lead to academic trouble. Waterbury school leaders are working to foster the relationship between schools and the communities to encourage strong attendance.

Missing two to three days of classes a month is the equivalent of missing 10 percent of the school year, which could translate to third graders struggling to read, sixth graders failing courses and high school freshman dropping out, according to Waterbury officials.

Hartford students return to school on Tuesday; West Hartford, East Hartford, Meriden and West Haven classes begin on Wednesday, and New Haven, Manchester, Bristol, Wallingford and Southington schools start on Thursday. New Britain and Wethersfield students go back to school on Sept. 2.

Do your children go back to school this week? Send us your back to school photos at shareit@nbcconnecticut.com.

Police Search for Missing Naugatuck 15-Year-Old


Naugatuck police are looking for a missing 15-year-old girl last seen attending a Prospect football game on Saturday.

Zipparia Jackson, 15, of Naugatuck, went to a football game at Canfield Park in Prospect with her family at about 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and left the field area at one point to go to the playground at the park. She hasn't been seen since.

Police described Jackson as a 5-foot-2 black female with short brown hair and brown eyes who was last seen wearing a black V-neck shirt, gray shorts and blue Nike sneakers. She weighs 130 pounds, police said.

Naugatuck police ask anyone with information on Jackson's disappearance to contact the department at 203-729-5221.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Naugatuck Police Department

3 Missing New Haven Sisters Found


Police have found three New Haven sisters who went missing last Tuesday.

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

When the Silver Alerts were issued, Destinee and Mahaghanee had last been seen at 443 Winthrop Avenue in New Haven. Police did not specify whether Kani had been at the same address.

The girls were referred to as endangered runaways. 

Photo Credit: Silver Alert

One Lane Reopens on Route 187 in East Granby


One lane of Route 187/South Main Street has reopened in East Granby after a car crash brought wires down across the road, according to the Department of Transportation.

The road has been closed at East Field Farms Drive while authorities work to clear the scene. A detour has been in place.

There has been no word on injuries.

Check back for updates.

Bridgeport Police Search for Would-Be Burglars


Police are searching for the three people who tried to break into a house in Bridgeport last month but were interrupted by a neighbor.

According to police, the suspects tried to get into a home on Orland Street the afternoon of July 25 but fled the scene when a neighbor spotted them.

The attempted burglary was caught on surveillance video. The footage shows three black or Hispanic men wearing light-colored T-shirts and shorts. Two men were wearing hats.

The suspects walk around the side of the house, then quickly come back around the corner into view and run down the sidewalk away from the area, according to the surveillance video.

Police have not identified the suspects and are asking for help in tracking them down.

Anyone with information is urged to call Bridgeport police Det. Dave DeFeo at 203-581-5185.

Photo Credit: Bridgeport Police Department

Great White Shark Spotted Off Mass.


Swimmers were ordered out of the water after a great white shark was spotted in Duxbury, Massachusetts, Monday afternoon.

The beach has since reopened, with the Duxbury Harbormaster telling people they should go up to their bellies.

A Massachusetts State Police helicopter on routine patrol spotted the shark near the Powder Point Bridge. The 15-foot great white was swimming about 150 yards offshore.

On a nearby beach, someone drew an image of a shark in the sand with a simple message: "YOU'RE GONNA NEED A BIGGER BOAT."

"I thought of 'Jaws' when I was watching it. But it wasn't that bad," said swimmer Ken Greene. "I've never experienced this before, so it was pretty neat."

Life guards say the evacuation was without panic.

"We just told everyone to clear the water. We did not want to tell them why at that point, because we did not want to have mass panic," said Rob Benting.

Photo Credit: NECN

2 Charged After Hartford Police Seize $10K in Heroin


Hartford police arrested two people Wednesday after pulling a car over last Wednesday and finding about $10,000 worth of heroin inside.

Officers arrested the driver, Thomas Bruno, 22, and passenger, Christopher Barros, 20, both of Hartford, on multiple narcotics charges.

Police conducted a motor vehicle stop at about 5:57 p.m. on Park Street near the Washington intersection on Aug. 20 and seized 1,523 bags of heroin and $415 in cash found in the car, according to police. The heroin was packaged for "street level sales," police said.

Police charged Bruno and Barros with possession of narcotics, possession or narcotics with an intent to sell and possession of narcotics with intent to sell within 1,500 feet of a school.

Police continue to investigate.

Photo Credit: Hartford Police Department

Napa Boy Suffers Fractures in Quake


Nicholas Dillon had wanted a big sleepover party on Saturday with a bunch of friends.

His mom said, "How about just one?"

The smaller party, it turned out, was a good thing. If the 9th grader at New Technology High School in Napa had invited a bunch more buddies to crash on his living room floor, there likely would have been a lot more injuries.

Instead, only the 13-year-old was injured. He suffered pelvic fractures when the family fireplace fell on his lower body after the Napa earthquake hit about 3:20 a.m. Nicholas's family is thankful that the X-rays showed his spine, however, is OK.

"It's a miracle," Nicholas's aunt Carmen Rosales told NBC Bay Area on Monday. "We feel grateful that things weren't worse."

Nicholas had been sleeping on an air mattress when the fireplace fell. He had given his friend the couch.

Fortunately, his family said, he woke up with the first jolt and quickly flipped himself over and started crawling away.

Still, the fireplace collapsed on the lower half of his body, and his brother heard his screams for help. His mother stumbled through the bricks to get him, but didn't get any response when she called 911. His family drove him to the nearest fire station, and from there, he was able to get to the hospital, where he underwent a 10-hour surgery, his aunt said. 

Nicholas, an avid soccer player who will be off the field for at least four or five months, was one of the 208 patients treated at Queen of the Valley Medical Center complaining of pain. His was one of the more serious cases, though, and he was airlifted to the University of California at Davis Medical Center.

Aside from Nicholas, one other person remained in critical condition after suffering a cardiac emergency following the quake. Fifteen others were actually admitted to the hospital.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Nicholas Dillon family

Earthquake Warnings Worked: Experts


University of California, Berkeley, scientists say an early-warning system gave them a 10-second alert when a 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck southwest of Napa early Sunday morning.

A video posted to YouTube shows the ShakeAlert countdown moments before the temblor was expected to be felt at the UC Berkeley Seismological Laboratory. It also sent a warning to users in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose, according to the video description.

The alert said light shaking was expected from an estimated magnitude-5.7 quake.

The early-warning system has yet to be fully funded for statewide deployment.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom told NBC Bay Area that the Napa Valley earthquake should serve to motivate California officials to make funding for the system a priority.

"It's crazy we're not funding it," Newsom said. "We have to fund it. I mean, we had a 10-second warning here, we can get up to 60 seconds (warning) most of the experts believe."

Newsom added that earthquake detection should be a top priority. He said he would like to see the Governor's Office take the issue more seriously.

"We have the technology," Newsom said. "We could provide at least a little bit of warning."

Serious policy conversations about early-detection technology are likely to take place in the coming weeks, but immediately, the state's focus will be on providing support to local first responders. Once the dust has cleared and the damage assessments have been filed, Newsom said he hopes California gets an early start on receiving early notice for the next big regional earthquake.

Richard Allen, director of the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory, said construction of the system along the West Coast would take around $38 million. The annual operational costs of the program would be roughly $16 million.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency estimates the average annual cost of earthquake damage in the U.S. is $4.4 billion.

Officials say the early warning system would be able to provide a few seconds to a minute of warning, depending on the person's distance from the epicenter of the earthquake.

The warning could come from many different sources including radio, television or smartphone applications.

UC Berkeley is hosting a conference on "Implementing Earthquake Alerts" in September to "address current challenges, lessons learned from systems currently in operation worldwide, and ultimately forge a path toward fulfillment of public early warning systems in the U.S. and around the world."

NBC Bay Area's Alyssa Goard contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: UC Berkeley Seismological Laboratory via YouTube

Random SoCal Shootings Suspect Held


Police have identified a suspect in connection with a series of random killings Sunday morning in the San Fernando Valley.

Alex Hernandez, 34, was arrested on an unrelated animal cruelty charge after an hours-long standoff with SWAT. He was accused of killing two dogs. Authorities took Hernandez into custody after a brief struggle at a home on Polk Street near Gladstone Avenue in Sylmar Sunday night.

He was being held on $1 million bail.

Investigators consider him a suspect in three separate shootings, which left three people dead and four others wounded Sunday. Police connected the suspect to the cases after responding to the standoff and found a vehicle matching the description of the suspect's vehicle in the weekend shootings.

Police were also looking into the possibility that Hernandez was involved in a car-to-car shooting in Atwater Village Wednesday that left a woman hospitalized and the fatal shooting of a man who was driving to work in Pacoima on Thursday.

The three people killed on Sunday were all found within a five mile radius, police said.

A man and two women were killed and four other people were wounded in shootings that happened in a span of 55 minutes and within a 5-mile radius in the San Fernando Valley early Sunday.

The first shooting happened at 5:50 a.m. when a 20-year-old woman was fatally shot in the 1400 block of Celis Street in San Fernando, Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Frank Preciado said.

The woman was with her parents and twin siblings on their way to early morning mass when someone came up and shot at them.

All five members of the family were struck by gunfire. Police said the twins were injured and the mother and father were in critical condition following the shooting.

The second shooting happened at 6:35 a.m. in the 13000 block of Borden Avenue in Sylmar. A man between 25 and 35 years old was shot dead while walking near the Sylmar Recreational Center.

Ten minutes later, a third shooting was reported in the 1200 block of Filmore Street in Pacoima. A Hispanic woman in her late 50s was shot in the head, police said.

Bus Hits Motorcycle on I-95 in Old Saybrook


A Skyliner bus collided with a motorcycle on Interstate 95 in Old Saybrook on Monday, according to fire officials.

The motorcyclist was "up and walking" after the crash, but was taken to the hospital for a medical evaluation, Old Saybrook fire officials said.

Photo Credit: Old Saybrook Fire Department

9-Foot Croc Attacks Fla. Swimmer


A man was hospitalized after a 9-foot crocodile attacked him while he took an early-morning swim in a canal Sunday, Coral Gables Police said.

The man was visiting friends at a home in the 1300 block of Lugo Avenue when he decided to go for a swim in the brackish water around 2:30 a.m., police spokeswoman Kelly Denham said.

Officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, who are investigating the incident, said a second person was also bitten.

The man bitten by the crocodile managed to free himself, Denham said. He suffered multiple lacerations to his arm, shoulder and back.

Coral Gables Fire Rescue responded and took the man to South Miami Hospital.

The crocodile was reported to be between 8 and 9 feet long and hasn't been captured, Denham said.

FWC officials said that there are clear warnings posted in the area that no swimming is allowed and to beware of crocodiles.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut

Photo Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife and Conservation Commission

Hartford, Farmington Head Back to School


The challenges for Hartford's public schools are the same as ever – absenteeism, illiteracy and poverty – but on the eve of the 2014-15 school year, there's a new superintendent in town.

"Together we advance our work, meet and conquer our challenges, and deeply serve our students and families," Beth Schiavino-Narvaez told the annual convocation of teachers.

A few hours later, three Mini Coopers, loaded with school supplies from New County Mini, parked in front of the entrance to 960 Main Street, where the public schools have set up a Welcome Center for families.

"It's a blessing," said Zaida Rodriguez, holding her 3-year-old son Israel in one arm and his new backpack in the other. Israel is getting ready to start Pre-K.

"I've been in the shelter and it's hard for me and for moms who are looking for a job," she said.

A few miles away, students in Farmington had their first day of school.

Fourth graders at Noah Wallace School were excited about their new teacher, a man from Ireland who they said would teach them Gaelic.

Third-grader Anna Peterson described her day as "awesome." Her mother, Rebecca Plona, was pleased with her enthusiasm.

"I'm just so fortunate. Noah Wallace is a great school. I just want my kids to love learning. We're really lucky to be here," Plona said.

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