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Alcohol Delivery Service Now Available in Hartford


If you live in Hartford, you may now have the ability to order alcohol online and have it delivered right to your doorstep.

A New York-based company called Ultra has recently launched in Connecticut, offering some Hartford residents the ability to buy beer, wine or liquor with just a few clicks and have it delivered in 30 minutes to an hour.

To see if your area is eligible for delivery, navigate to Ultra’s Web site and enter your zip code. The site will then provide you with an estimated delivery time and a list of available items.

Ultra delivers weekdays from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The site specifies a delivery minimum that varies depending on your location and provides an estimate of how long it will take your liquor to arrive. You can also specify a delivery time if you'd rather have it arrive later.

Users will need to create an account in order to use the service.

According to the company Web site, Ultra also operates in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Chicago, Hoboken, Jersey City and Washington, D.C.

The site says Ultra will soon be serving up drinks to residents of Boston and Los Angeles.

The Hartford Business Journal reports that it will also soon be available in West Hartford and Farmington and hopes to partner with a second liquor store in Avon.


Man Shot in Willimantic


Half a dozen people are in police custody for questioning after a man was shot in the arm or leg in a Willimantic alley Tuesday afternoon.

Main Street/Route 66 was closed in the area of Riverside Drive for a few hours while police responded to the scene.

Police said the man was shot in an alley off Main Street between North and Bank streets.

Witnesses said the victim was bleeding from the wrist and was lying on the sidewalk on Main Street. According to police, the victim may have run from the scene.

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

Officers have taken 5-6 people into custody for questioning. No charges have been filed.

Police said they don't believe the shooting was random.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

76-Year-Old Missing From Stratford


Police have issued a Silver Alert for 76-year-old Ben Gatto, who went missing from Stratford on Tuesday.

Gatto is described as a bald white male with brown eyes. Police said he stands 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 130 pounds.

He was last seen driving a white 2012 Vokswagen Jetta with Connecticut license plates 756-ZLA.

Police have not released a photo or any information on what he was wearing.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is urged to cal lStratford police at 203-385-4100.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

11 Dogs Die in NJ Fire: Sources


A large fire ripped through a New Jersey home containing several animals, sending up a ball of fire and heavy black smoke before part of it collapsed under the heat, killing 11 dogs inside, officials say. 

It's not clear what sparked the devastating fire in Clifton Monday afternoon, though authorities don't consider it suspicious. 

"It seemed to progress pretty quickly, seemed to be happening in the back of the house," said neighbor Jenna Ricciardi. 

It appeared to start as smoke coming from an annex to the house, but the fire quickly took over, officials said. The roof later collapsed under the heat.

No people were inside at the time, but there were numerous animals in the house. Sources close to the investigation say the bodies of the 11 dogs wered recovered from the fire, and two are still missing but presumed dead. Two cats are still missing. 

Two dogs made it out of the home safely. 

Investigators believe the owners were running a pet day care out of the home, according to sources.

Fire investigators, the ASPCA and police were on the scene. Three firefighters were taken to the hospital for minor injuries, mainly heat exhaustion, officials said. 

Man Struck, Killed on Naugatuck Train Tracks


Police are investigating after a man was struck by a train and killed near the Naugatuck train station on the Metro-North Waterbury Branch, according to a spokesperson for the MTA.

The accident happened around 6:45 p.m. Tuesday about 800 feet from the station, on the overpass south of Maple Street, according to MTA spokesperson Aaron Donovan and Naugatuck police.

Donovan said the victim was pronounced dead on the scene.

It's not clear how he ended up on the tracks.

He was struck by a train bound from Bridgeport to Waterbury. The train was due to arrive around 7 p.m., Donovan said.

Commuters on that train are now being bussed to Waterbury.

Metro-North sent out an email alert Tuesday evening warning passengers of delays on the Waterbury Branch of the New Haven Line.

MTA police are actively investigating.

Photo Credit: Jamie Scognamillo

Mom Begs For Son Missing in Israel


In a voice that trembles, then breaks, Chulda Sofer pleads for help finding her son, Aaron, who went missing during a hike in the Jerusalem Forest – a long way from the home he shares with nine siblings in Lakewood, New Jersey.

“I want to thank everyone for all their help, but I ask you please, please, please — I beg of you, I beg you, please — if anyone sees any whereabouts of Aaron, please call the police immediately,” Chulda says, holding up a “missing” poster that shows her 23-year-old son, smiling in his traditional Orthodox Jewish clothing and black hat.

Aaron Sofer is an ultra-Orthodox yeshiva student pursuing his religious studies in Israel. He disappeared while hiking Friday in the Jerusalem Forest. He was there with a friend, and the two became separated while navigating a steep incline, the friend told police when he reported Aaron missing six hours later.

Sofer’s parents flew from New Jersey to Israel over the weekend to join the ongoing search, which has included hundreds of volunteers, K9s on the ground and helicopters overhead. Jerusalem Post reporter Daniel K. Eisenbud videotaped the emotional pleas from Sofer’s parents at Mount Herzl, which is the site of Israel’s national cemetery and also adjacent to the Jerusalem Forest.

Sofer's family fears he may have been kidnapped or attacked by Palestinian militants.The area where he disappeared is the same forest where Israeli extremists are accused of killing a Palestinian teenager in retaliation for the murders of three Israeli teens in June.

In the videotaped message, Aaron’s father, Moshe, thanks law enforcement agencies in both countries, including the FBI and Israeli police, for their help. “The police are working tirelessly on all fronts and all options are being strongly investigated," he says.

Back home in the Ocean County, New Jersey, town where Aaron grew up, two of his younger brothers made brief appeals today before attending a community prayer service.

“Just please bring back our brother. I’m talking on behalf of the whole family that’s in America. He’s my brother right over me. I just have one message: Please bring back my brother,” said Yaakov Sofer.

Aaron’s brother-in-law Yehuda Wicentowsky described the missing man as a very kind and nice person and asked the public to keep pressure on the governments involved in his search. The sentiment from a seasoned New York politician was not as diplomatic.

“There’s a sense that not enough was done from the very, very beginning,” said Dov Hikind, a New York City assemblyman. He called for the Israeli government to ramp up their efforts and treat the search for Sofer the same as they would for an Israeli soldier.

“Because we know what the Israeli government does when an Israeli soldier goes missing. Every resource in the world is put into it. And Aaron is a soldier," he said.

The Sofer family is offering 100,000 shekels, which is equivalent to about $28,000, for information that leads to Aaron’s whereabouts. They’ve launched a website – Search for Sofer – to help fund the search and reward.

Photo Credit: Daniel K. Eisenbud | Jerusalem Post

Oldest Library in Danger of Closing


For more than two centuries, the Darby Free Library has remained both a vital part of its community as well as a historical landmark. Built in 1743 by Quakers, it remains the oldest public library in the nation. But a financial crisis has left it in danger of shutting down by the end of the year.

Currently 60 percent of Darby residents and 1,500 people a month regularly use the library’s services.

“I use the computer,” said Kiarra Powell. “If I need any books, they help me find my books.”

Yet despite the community support, the library is in the midst of a financial crisis. Recent state cuts wiped out $50,000 in the library’s operating budget.

“Money is scarce here,” said Darby library board president Jay McCalla. “We’ve been able to stay afloat and keep our doors open by doing things we didn’t want to do: cutting back on the benefits to our employees, and cutting back on books that we were ordering.”

While the budget cuts keep coming, the bills continue to add up, including a $7,000 electric bill employees at the library say they’re unable to pay. Many local families who rely on the library for resources are concerned about the possible closure.

“I grew up here, to be honest,” Powell said. “This is kind of like family. Hearing that it could be getting shut down, it really affects me and my son.”

McCalla is hoping that doesn’t happen.

“It would be a crime to lose this unique resource that’s not just unique to Darby,” McCalla said. “No other community in America has this library, the oldest in the nation.”

McCalla says they may have to make a decision on whether or not to close the library sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

According to McCalla, state and federal officials can’t give them money to keep the library open. Instead, the money must come from the Darby Borough or those willing to lend a helping hand.

If you would like to donate or volunteer, visit the Darby Free Library website.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut

Photo Credit: NBC10.com

Handguns Found Hidden Near Hamden Playground


Police are investigating after two handguns were found hidden near a playground in Hamden over the weekend.

Officers headed to the Keefe Center Playground at 11 Pine Street in Hamden on Sunday after receiving a tip that someone had concealed guns in the area, according to police.

They found a .22-caliber and 9mm handgun hidden near the playground, which is operated by a childcare center, police said.

Authorities are actively investigating.

Earlier that day, police arrested a 24-year-old convicted felon from New Haven, who had hidden a handgun in the engine compartment of his car. It's not clear whether police believe the incidents are related.

Anyone with information is urged to call Hamden police.

Water Main Break Closes Park Avenue in Bloomfield


A large water main break has shut down part of Park Avenue in Bloomfield near the Carmen Arace Intermediate School.

The 12-inch water main broke near the Carmen Arace School just before 5 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Metropolitan District Commission.

A break of this size could cause the road to buckle or collapse, the MDC said.

Crews are at the scene working to shut off the water and excavate the area of the main.

The road is closed between Tyler Avenue and the west entrance of the school, which is located at 390 Park Avenue.

Firefighters at the scene said the road could remain closed throughout the night.

It's not clear how many homes will lose water, but MDC workers said they will need to shut down water to a larger area than originally anticipated.

The Bloomfield Health Care Center at 355 Park Avenue will be affected. It's not clear how long the water outage will last. MDC said the nursing home may need to move its residents in the interim.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Police Arrest Second Suspect in Beating Outside Liquor Store


Police arrested a second suspect in a brutal attack on a 50-year-old man robbed outside a Bristol liquor store that happened in late July.

Bristol police took Nikolas Avallone, 23, of Bristol, into custody at 9:21 p.m. on Tuesday as was leaving a School Street apartment and charged him with first-degree assault. He is suspected of being one of two men who punched and kicked the victim in the face while he was on the ground after being robbed on the way to his car at K & S Liquors at 191 Park Street.

Police previously arrested Kevin Whittingham, 22, of Bristol on robbery, assault and larceny charges. He is due in court again on Aug. 28, according to the state jusicial website.

Police responded to the liquor store on July 22 at about 8:06 p.m. and found the victim unconscious. An ambulance transported the victim to Bristol Hospital to be treated for several facial fracturs, a broken upper jaw and a broken nose.

Avallone could not post his $200,000 bond, so he is still in police custody and is due in Bristol Superior court on Wednesday.

He is also scheduled to appear in court Sept. 11 for a possession of narcotics charge in a separate case in West Hartford, according to the state judicial website. He hasn't pleaded yet in that case.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Man Survives Being Stabbed, Robbed, Bound, Dumped in River: Police


A soaking wet man, bound and suffering from stab wounds, crawled from Philadelphia's Schuylkill River after he and two other men were abducted, attacked, robbed and dumped into the water, police said.

The other two victims never made it out of the river.

Philadelphia Police rushed to the water along Kelly Drive near Hunting Park Avenue in Fairmount Park around 4 a.m. Wednesday after someone called 911 to report a partially-dressed injured man screaming along the roadway.

When authorities arrived on the scene, they found the man, identified by NBC10 sources as 23-year-old Thanh Voong, soaking wet and suffering from multiple stab wounds to his stomach and legs. His arms and legs were partially bound and he had duct tape on his face.

Police rushed Voong to Hahnemann University Hospital, where he underwent surgery for seven stab wounds while listed in stable condition, according to officials.

Investigators found two bodies submerged in the water -- both bound with tape and tied or tethered to some sort of anchor.

Police using flashlights taped off an area along the river and searched for clues about what happened. Police dive teams finally recovered the bodies, which could be seen in about 5 to 10 feet of water, around 8:30 a.m.

Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small said the victim told investigators that four or five men abducted him near 62nd Street and Woodland Avenue in Southwest Philly and threw him into the back of van around 1 a.m.

"While in the back of the van he was blindfolded, he was stabbed numerous times, he was robbed of an undisclosed amount of money," said Small. "He says that while in the back of the van he then realized that there were two other males in the back of the van... they were duct taped and they appeared to have been stabbed numerous times."

Voong was unsure whether the two men with him in the vehicle were alive or dead, according to investigators.

Detectives are reviewing surveillance video that captured the area near where the abduction took place in hopes of finding the van and the suspects.

Voong somehow climbed out of the water, said Small.

An initial investigation showed that the men were dragged across the concrete and grass before being dumped in the river, according to police on the scene.

Small said that robbery was the motive. They are also investigating whether or not the incident was drug-related.

Police responded to the victim's Northern Liberties home to collect evidence.

"There were original reports of blood evidence," said Philadelphia Police Captain James Clark. "That is not the case. Through the investigation we found out the surviving victim lived there so we went to that residence. But the crime did not happen there."

Police continue to investigate.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com

American Held in Syria Back in U.S.


An American writer who was held hostage by an al Qaeda affiliated group in Syria for 22 months and then freed over the weekend has been reunited with his mother in Boston, his family said.

Forty-five-year-old Peter Theo Curtis arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport late Tuesday afternoon, and then was reunited his with his mother Nancy Curtis at Boston Logan after a connecting flight that evening.

Curtis' family is asking the media for privacy as he readjusts to life back in the United States.

In a statement, Curtis said he's thankful for government officials in the U.S. and Qatar for working to get him back home.

"I have been so touched and moved, beyond all words, by the family who have come up to me today - strangers on the airplane, the flight attendants and, most of all, my family to say welcome home," the statement said.

His mother said while she's relieved by her son's release, she's also grieving with the family of Jim Foley, the American Journalist beheaded by ISIS in a gruesome video that surfaced last week.

"It was a great relief to know that he (Theo) was safe finally after such a long time, but the events of the past week have left me really numb, so it's hard to feel elation when you are also feeling terrible pain," Nancy Curtis said.

Photo Credit: NECN

Miami Street Closed Due to Gas Leak in East Haven


A portion of Miami Street in East Haven is closed after a construction crew struck a gas main, causing a leak on Wednesday morning.

East Haven Fire Department received a call about the gas leak and reported it to Southern Connecticut gas at about 8:45 a.m.

The gas company sent technical crews to the scene and the leak has been stopped. Crews are working to repair Miami Street and the road is closed near Gene Street. Police don't expect major traffic delays.

More information will be provided when it becomes available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

RHAM Changes Traffic Flow After Fatal Crash


As RHAM students headed back to school on Wednesday, there were changes in the parking lot after a teacher died last spring when she was hit by a car.

Math teacher Dawn Mallory was walking outside RHAM Middle School in March when a parent accidentally drove into the bus lane and ran into her, according to police. Police said that the driver, Elizabeth Everett had been drinking.

Now, the parking lot has signs, speed bumps and concrete barriers to make the drop-off area safer and improve traffic patterns.

Buses will now drop students off behind the high school, located on the same campus, and parents and teachers will take other entrances in order to ease congestion and confusion.

Cars can access the middle school from State Highway 316 and Rham Road and the high school from the State Highway 316 entrance closer to Wall Street.

The new traffic pattern maps are located on the RHAM high school and middle school websites.

Everett is due back in court on Thursday, facing a felony charge of misconduct with a motor vehicle. She was also cited with unsafe backing. 

Everett was released from custody on a $100,000 bond. She has not pleaded yet in the case, according to the state judicial website.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Police Issue Coyote Warning in Wolcott


Wolcott police are issuing a warning to pet owners after receiving a report of a coyote taking a cat over the weekend.

Police said a coyote took away a domestic cat on Steele Avenue and they received the report around 4 a.m. on Sunday.

The dog warden is investigating and trying to find the coyote.

Police are urging residents not to leave animals out at night and ask anyone who sees a coyote to call police.


Photo Credit: Lisa Allamian

16-Year-Old Pedestrian Severely Injured in East Lyme Crash


A car struck and injured a pedestrian on Boston Post Road in East Lyme on Tuesday afternoon.

East Lyme police responded to the road at the Heritage Driver intersection at about 11:50 a.m. on Tuesday to investigate the crash.

Police said that the pedestrian, Brennan S. Cantwell, 16, of Boston Post Road in East Lyme, sustained severe injuries.

Neither the 73-year-old driver and his 67-year-old female passenger, who live together on Boston Post Road in Old Lyme, were injured.

No charges have been filed at this time.

The Flanders Fire Department also responded and provided treatment at the scene before transporting the pedestrian to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital in New London.

Boston Post Road was closed for about an hour while police investigated.

The case remains under investigation.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Clerks Fight Back at Armed Robbers in Bridgeport


Detectives in Bridgeport need help from the public to identify two men who committed an armed robbery at the Campus Package Store at 378 Park Ave. on Tuesday.

Police released video on Wednesday morning that shows what employees did to fight back.

The video shows one of the robbers going behind the counter and confronting what appear to be two employees.

During the robbery, a clerk hits the two men in the head with an object while another throws an entire a display at the robbers.

Anyone with information about their identities should call Detective Mike Fiumidinisi at 203-581-5246 or Detective Art. Calvao at 203-581-5240. 

Photo Credit: Bridgeport Police

Teen Quake Vic: "I Could Have Died"


Nicholas Dillon has a broken pelvis and won’t play soccer again for months.

But the bed-ridden 13-year-old Napa boy still counts himself lucky. He was one of the most seriously injured among the 208 people hospitalized after Sunday’s 6.0-magnitude earthquake rattled the Bay Area.

"That day I could have died” he said.

A fireplace fell on top of Dillon's lower body when the quake hit at 3:20 a.m. He believes if he hadn't moved, he could have been crushed to death by the bricks.

Instead, the freckle-faced teen was giving interviews from his hospital bed at the University of California at Davis Children's Hospital in Sacramento Tuesday night, retelling the harrowing story of what happened when he first felt the earth move and the house shake.

"I started crawling trying to get to the door," he said, "and just as I was about to put my knee on the floor the chimney collapsed on my lower back."

Nicholas and his friend, Imanol Villanueva, were sleeping in the living room after a friend's birthday party Saturday night. Nicholas was sleeping on a mattress on the floor, directly under the brick fireplace. He had given Imanol the couch.

"He started yelling my name," Imanol said, still teary remembering what happened when the earth shook. "And then I yelled his and then I saw the bricks coming down on him."

The bricks ended up crushing Dillon's pelvis, but thankfully, his family says, not his spine.

"I didn't know what to think," Nicholas said. "For the first 30 seconds, I thought I was paralyzed. I didn't think I was going to be able to walk anymore. I was scared."

His mother called 911, but couldn't get an answer. His grandfather drove him to the nearest fire station, where he was taken to the hospital. He was airlifted to UC Davis, where he underwent a 10-hour surgery, his family said. Of the 208 patients first admitted to Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa, he was one of two critical cases.

Doctors say it will be at least four or five months before he can put pressure on his legs.

As a soccer player, that news is especially disappointing for the 9th grader at New Technology High.

"I'm hanging in there for the most part," he said.

Nicholas Dillon's family set up an account to help with medical costs. To help, contact Bank of America and reference an account in the name of Nicholas M. Dillon, No. 1641-0344-2511.

NBC News and NBC Bay Area's Ian Cull contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: AP

Pilot Missing in Fighter Jet Crash


The pilot of a Massachusetts Air National Guard F-15C fighter that crashed Wednesday morning in Deerfield, Virginia, is still unaccounted for, a military official said Wednesday afternoon. It's still not known why the plane, which was en route from Massachusetts to New Orleans, went down.

"There is an ongoing rescue mission," said Col. James Keefe, 104th Fighter Wing commander. "At this time we have not had contact with our pilot. The rescue mission is ongoing. Until we know the status of the pilot, we can't release more information." 

The name of the pilot was not released, but Keefe said "he or she" is very experienced and is a full-time member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard. Virginia State Police say witnesses have shown authorities photos and videos of the crash, which is helping them focus their search efforts.

A woman who lives about two miles from the crash site said she heard it about 9 a.m. ET.

“I was laying in bed and I felt a jolt. It shook my house. I heard a big boom and a roar afterward,” Lisa Dula told NBC News. “You could see the smoke going up in the air."

The Augusta County, Virginia, Sheriff's Office said the plane crashed near Deerfield Valley Road in George Washington National Park. The pilot was the only person on board. 

No one on the ground was hurt, as the plane crashed in a remote area. But the pilot has not been accounted for.

Keefe said the crash site is in a remote, wooded, mountainous region, so cell phone use is extremely limited, making it difficult to communicate with the rescue officials on scene.

He said the Air National Guard is supporting the pilot's family, and sent people to talk with them earlier in the day.

"It's a traumatic event for everyone here," Keefe said. "We're thinking about the family."

He said the F-15C was a 1986 model and was slated to receive a radar upgrade. He said it is very unusual for these jets to crash, since they don't drop bombs and are typically used for air-to-air missions.

Garrett Beck, who works on a farm a mile from the crash site, said he heard two big booms and went outside, thinking a tractor-trailer had blown a tire.

"I turned around and there was a mushroom cloud," he said. "It looked like something you see in a movie after they dropped a bomb."

The fighter jet left Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield, Massachusetts, on Wednesday morning. The 104th Fighter Wing said it lost radio contact with the jet around 9:05 a.m. during its cross country mission over the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. The pilot reported an inflight emergency prior to radio contact being lost. Subsequently, there were reports of dark smoke being seen around the jet's last known location.

Virginia State Police said earlier Wednesday that the crash site has been visually located due to heavy smoke coming from the side of a nearby mountain, but the exact site has not been identified. The terrain is described as "very rugged." The sheriff's office is setting up a command center in Deerfield, Virginia.

Photo Credit: NECN

Freed American Hostage Speaks


Freed American hostage Peter Theo Curtis said Wednesday he's "overwhelmed by emotion" after learning that hundreds of people worked to secure his release.

"In the days following my release on Sunday, I have learned bit by bit that there have been literally hundreds of people working for my release," Curtis said, speaking from outside his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "They've been working for two years on this. I had no idea when I was in prison that so much effort was being expended on my behalf."

The American writer, who was held hostage by an al Qaeda-affiliated group in Syria for 22 months, was freed over the weekend and returned home to Massachusetts on Tuesday night, where he was reunited with his mother.

"I'm overwhelmed by emotion. I'm also overwhelmed by total strangers saying, 'We're just glad you're home. Welcome home,'" he said. "I suddenly remember how good the American people are and what good they have in their hearts. To those people, a huge thank you from the bottom of my heart."

Curtis spoke for only about a minute or so on Wednesday. He did not take any questions or address the details of his captivity. He said needs time to bond with his mother and family and promised to speak with the media at a later date.

"I'm one of you and I know what you guys are going through," he said. "But I can't do it now."

Photo Credit: NECN
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