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Swastika Etched Into Locker at Wilton High School


School officials are taking action after a swastika was found etched into the locker of a student at Wilton High School, according to a letter from the principal posted to the school’s Web site.

Principal Robert William O’Donnell said the “school community was deeply troubled and saddened” to discover the vandalism on Monday and that the affected locker panel was replaced immediately.

“We identified the responsible party and assessed the impact on those immediately affected,” O’Donnell wrote. “We also consulted with the Wilton Police Department, through our school resource officer.”

It’s not clear if the person suspected in the vandalism is a student. O’Donnell did not elaborate on the repercussions, but said the school will enforce “consequences for behavior that violates [its] discipline code” and will open a dialogue about tolerance and respect.

“Working in concert with our student government, we will assess the tenor of and impact on the student body and seek proactive solutions to prevent such incidents from recurring in the future,” O’Donnell said.

Photo Credit: News 12 Connecticut

Newington Strikes Down Plan to Build Up Town Park


In a town-wide referendum Tuesday, Newington residents voted 5 to 1 against plans to build a new town hall and community center on the site of two soccer fields at Mill Pond Park, unofficial results show.

According to unofficial numbers posted to the town Web site, 5,805 residents voted against construction, while 1,050 vote in favor of the $30-million project. Some but not all absentee ballots are included in those numbers.

Polls closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday, and the numbers listed online show the “no” voters led by a sweeping margin in each of the town’s seven districts.

Residents protested plans to build on the open space, rallying at the park Monday ahead of the referendum. Demonstrators carried signs bearing messages such as, “Vote NO! Sept. 9” and “Save Mill Pond Park, Vote No.”

Others, however, saw it as the town’s “cost-effective solution” to expand the town hall and construct a new community center.

Newington Building Committee Chairman Clarke Castelle said ahead of the referendum that, of all the town-own properties, it made the most sense to build at this location “because it is currently and under-utilized section of the park.”

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

7 Teens, 1 Adult Charged in Fatal Ridgefield Crash


Seven teens and a 21-year-old man have been charged in connection with the crash that killed a 15-year-old Ridgefield High School student this past spring.

Emma Sandhu, a sophomore in high school, was walking in the area of 570 Ridgebury Road in March when she was struck by a car and killed.

Now six 17-year-old boys and one 16-year-old girl are facing charges after attending an underage party on Ridgebury Road just prior to the crash, according to police.

Police said the teens have each been charged with possession of alcohol by a minor.

Another 17-year-old boy, who police say hosted the party, has been charged with the delivery of an intoxicating liquor to minors.

Michael Peckham, 21, of Ridgefield, is accused of providing alcohol to the teens and has been charged with the delivery of an intoxicating liquor to minors. Police said Peckham did not attend the party.

The driver of the car that struck Sadnhu has been identified as a 24-year-old Ridgefield resident but has not been charged, according to police.

1 Dead, 1 Injured in Waterbury Shooting


Authorities are investigating after two people were shot, one fatally, while walking out of a liquor store at 309 Walnut Street in Waterbury Tuesday evening, according to police.

Police said a 25-year-old man was shot in the chest around 5:15 p.m. and taken to St. Mary's Hospital. He was pronounced dead about an hour later.

A second victim, who has been identified as a 31-year-old man, was shot in the cheek and sustained non-life threatening injuries, according to police. He was transferred to Hartford Hospital for treatment.

Police said investigators are following significant leads and that the suspect knew the victim who was killed. The shooting came in the wake of a confrontation between the two, according to police.

It happened a block away from the scene of a shooting in August that left a 49-year-old man dead and just across the street from a community learning center that hosts after-school programs for local children.

"This is not good. This is making it bad for their reputation," said James Monroe, president of the Skoville Homes Association, a nearby apartment complex. "We're trying to grow this center, to do things for the kids."

It's not clear whether children were there at the time at the time of the shooting.

"The drug traffic on this street from Wood to East Farms Street over here is outrageous," Monroe said. "We need to come together as a community and say, 'No more.'"

The victims' names have not been released.

Police ask anyone with information to call the Waterbury Police Department at 203-574-6911 or 203-574-6941.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Republican Lawmakers Scrutinize Hapgood's Criminal History


Republican lawmakers are discussing the criminal past of a Waterbury man Wednesday who stabbed a 1-year-old baby girl to death in Bristol last month and who was let out of jail early through the state's early release program.

Arthur Hapgood, 36,  is accused of stabbing Zaniyah Calloway, 1, to death in the torso last month. He suddenly grew angry while his mother was caring for Zaniya at her Park Street home in Bristol and grabbed a knife, according to family members. He admitted to police that he took illegal drugs before stabbing the baby.

Hapgood appeared in court on Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to a murder charge.

Republican lawmakers say that Hapgood's past was filled with warning signs before the crime. He was arrested more than two dozen times in the last couple decades on charges ranging from drug-related incidents to robbery and got out of jail early through the early release program.

The program allows prisoners to take measures, such as going through counseling, to get time off their sentence.

However, if Hapgood's prison sentence hadn't been reduced, he still would have gotten out of prison before the murder he is accused of in Bristol.

Republican politicians are holding a press conference in Bristol later Wednesday morning to discuss his criminal record.

Hapgood remains in custody on a $2.5 million bond.

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 today 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

Mom Accused of Leaving 3-Year-Old in Car Due in Court


A Shelton mother accused of leaving her 3-year-old child in the car on a hot day while she went grocery shopping in Orange will appear in court today.

Police responded to Trader Joe’s, at 550 Boston Post Road, at 11:17 a.m. on Thursday, July 3 after receiving a 911 call from someone who said a woman walked away from what she believed to be a young child alone in a car the parking lot. 

When police arrived, they found a 3-year-old child alone in the car, police said.

The mother, Nathalie Stonier, came out of the store when she saw police arrive and told authorities she was going grocery shopping and left the child in the car, police said. 

Police noted that temperatures were high, but said the child was not hurt and credited this to the person who called police quickly.

The child's father now has the child, police said.

Stonier was charged with risk of injury to a minor and leaving a child under 12 unsupervised in a motor vehicle.

She was released on a written promise to appear and the case has been continued to Sept. 10.

Police said the state Department of Children and Families was notified and would be following up.  

Photo Credit: Orange Police Department

"Bumps and Bruises" Reported in School Van Crash


Four middle schools students and a driver are being transported to the hospital to be evaluated for minor injuries after a school van heading to Windham Middle School hit a pole on Quarry Street in Willimantic, according to officials from the Willimantic Fire Department.

The Eastconn van crashed at 90 Quarry Street and Windham Middle School is located at 123 Quarry Street.

The pole and wires are down and Quarry Street is closed between Mansfield and Holbrook avenues. Officials expect the road to remain closed for an extended period of time.

The bus route to the school is being affected, according to the fire department, and detours are being set up so students can get to school.

An NBC Connecticut crew is heading to the scene. Check back for updates.

The Willimantic Fire Department has been Tweeting updates from the department account.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Firefighters Sent Home for Refusing to Remove Patriotic Decals


Four suburban Chicago firefighters say they were suspended after refusing to remove patriotic stickers posted on their helmets and lockers.

The Maywood firefighters say they were ordered to go home for refusing to remove stickers of American flags after their fire chief implemented a ban on all stickers.

"I'm floored that he would even consider this two days before 9/11," said firefighter Dan McDowell. "It's ridiculous."

Some said the stickers were sentimental.

"My dad served here for 26 years, an ex-marine, ex-Vietnam vet," said Dave Flowers, Jr. "I took his locker."

Flowers said he was ordered to take a sticker off his locker or he would face discipline.

"We are the first African-American father and son on the Maywood Fire Department," Flowers said. "It has sentimental value."

Don Albanese agreed to remove several stickers, including a memorial flag from his helmet, but kept an American flag on his locker.

"I said, 'You know what? The one thing I won't do is I'm not going to remove the flag on my locker,'" he said. "No one sees it but us. We're all brothers here."

The firefighters said they were shocked to hear they couldn't keep their patriotic stickers.

"You'd be hard-pressed to find a firefighter who doesn't have strong feelings about 9/11," McDowell said.

Evergito Herrera came to America from Cuba and said he's been with the department for 25 years. He said American pride is something he cherishes.

"I come from a country where I couldn't do that," he said. "The government would tell me what to do and that's why my parents took me out of Cuba."

The Maywood fire chief did not respond to NBC Chicago's request for comment Tuesday. The firefighters say they plan to meet with the chief Wednesday.

North Pole Express Tickets Go on Sale


Summer will hang on for another week and a half, but it’s time for parents across Connecticut to start thinking about the holidays. 

More than 2,500 orders for tickets were placed this morning and tickets for the North Pole Express went on sale on Tuesday and Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in December are already sold out, according to a post on the Essex Steam Train Facebook page.


The North Pole Express is an annual tradition in for families to take children on a magical journey.

If you have not yet had the experience, every coach becomes the stage for a live musical performance of “The Night Before Christmas.”

Children can wear pajamas and spend time with Santa and Mrs. Claus, take part in sing-a-longs and enjoy hot chocolate and sugar cookies.

You can buy tickets online here.

Man With Gun Robs Bristol Store Clerk


Bristol police are looking for an armed man who robbed a clerk outside of a convenience store on Lake Avenue on Tuesday evening.

When officers responded to Timer Saver Convenience Store at 350 Lake Ave. at 8:52 p.m. to investigate an armed robbery, a clerk told them that he was getting into his car after closing the convenience store when a man with a handgun threatened him and demanded his bag.

The clerk gave the robber his bag, which contained personal belongings and some cash, and the robber ran from the scene, police said.

The robber was wearing gray baggy clothes and a ski mask, the clerk told police.

No one was injured in the robbery.

Police ask anyone with information to call the Bristol Police Department Criminal Investigation Division at 860-314-4561.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

iPad Leads Police to Suspected Car Thief


New Haven police have found a stolen car and arrested a suspect with a little help from an iPad left in the car.

A resident of Fairfield Street in New Haven called police at 8:14 p.m. on Monday when she got home to find her back door open and noticed that her car keys and car were missing, according to police.

Using “location based technology,” police determined that the car was in the Hill neighborhood and police spotted someone driving it on Howe Street at North Frontage Road, police said.

Brock Bacote, 22, of New Haven, was the only person in the car and sped off when he saw officers, police said.

Police chased him until they got to York Street because they felt it was too dangerous.

When another officer saw the car at Crown and Howe streets, Bacote was no longer in it, but people in the area told officers that they saw a man run from the vehicle and led them right to him.

Police said Bacote was hiding on the roof at 395 Crown Street.

Police took Bacote into custody and they confiscated a BB gun that was in his car.

He was charged with criminal and motor violations including larceny in the second degree, carrying a weapon in a motor vehicle, engaging officers in pursuit, reckless driving and trespass.

Photo Credit: New Haven Police

East Hartford Man Dies After Shooting in Springfield


A 38-year-old East Hartford man has died after he was shot in Springfield, Massachusetts, on Sunday, according to police.

Police said Demarcus Johnson, 38, of Deborah Drive in East Hartford, died of his injuries Tuesday.

He was shot at the intersection of Overlook Drive and Island Pond Road in Springfield early Sunday morning. Police arrived to find him lying on the ground next to a tan 2006 Cadillac sedan with Connecticut plates.

Johnson was rushed to the intensive care unit of a local hospital and later died, according to police.

A bystander called 911 after spotting Johnson and told police he initially thought Johnson had pulled over to fix his car, according to police.

Detectives are working to retrace the victim's steps before the shooting and continue to investigate the incident.

Police said they do not consider the shooting a random crime.

Springfield police ask anyone with information about the shooting to contact the Detective Bureau at 413-787-6355.

NYPD Chief Talks Sharpton, "Devil"


Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said he'd "shake hands with the devil" to keep the city safe when asked about the Rev. Al Sharpton's influence in the mayor's administration at a Manhattan event Wednesday morning.

Bratton later categorically denied that his reference to the devil had anything to do with Sharpton.

Specifically, Bratton was asked if he felt undermined when Sharpton called out the NYPD at a reform talk last month organized by the mayor in the wake of the death of Eric Garner. Garner, 43, died after being put in a chokehold by police while being taken into custody; his death was ruled a homicide.

At that meeting, Sharpton openly criticized Bratton as well as the mayor. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani said at the time the mayor's decision to hand one of the most vocal critics of the NYPD a microphone undermined the police commissioner. Bratton didn't directly say whether he felt undermined or not when probed Wednesday during the Crain's New York Business event at the Roosevelt Hotel.

He quipped, "We live in very interesting times," and noted the good Sharpton has done for the community.

"You might not like him, you might not like his history ... but the reality is over time he has emerged as a very significant leader, a voice for people who feel that they don't have a voice and are disenfranchised," Bratton said.

Bratton went on to talk about the record-low number of August shootings in the city. He also mentioned the lack of problems at the Garner rally Sharpton organized, when thousands of people drove in caravans over the Verrazano Bridge to protest the NYPD.

He said it shows the city's maturity that people are able to freely express their views without rioting in the street, a soft allusion to the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, that erupted after a police officer fatally shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

"I'll shake hands with the devil if necessary to keep this city calm, safe and secure," Bratton said. "I will meet with whoever is necessary to hear their perspective, their viewpoints. It's what's expected of me as a public official."

"Do I have personal issues with some of the people I meet with? Certainly," he added. "But my obligation to you and the other 8.5 million people in the city is to hear all the voices."

Asked about his comments outside the Roosevelt Hotel after the event, Bratton said he was glad for the opportunity to clarify his statement.

"Let's not go there," Bratton said. "I've met with Mr. Sharpton frequently over the last 20 years and we continue to meet, so that reference of meeting with the devil was not an implication of that term being applied to him."

Sharpton told NBC 4 New York Bratton called him shortly after the event to give him a heads up about the comments. The civil rights advocate went on to say that "if he thinks I'm the devil, I'll wear devil horns to meetings -- I don't care as long as we get better police policy."

The Staten Island district attorney is convening a grand jury this month to consider whether to file charges in Garner's death.

Sharpton runs the National Action Network and is a talk show host on MSNBC, which is owned by WNBC's parent company, NBCUniversal.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Avon Bank Overhang Collapses After Truck Crash


A truck crashed at an Avon bank on Wednesday causing an overhang to collapse.

The truck crash happened at Northwest Community Bank's Avon branch, located at 101 Simsbury Road.

Just after 1 p.m., the area around the overhang was cordoned off.

No information was immediately available on what caused the truck to crash and there is no word on whether the collapse affected bank operations.

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Wesleyan Closes Fraternity House Where Student Fell


Wesleyan University has closed the Beta Theta Pi house days after a sophomore fell from a third-story window during a party at the Middletown, Connecticut, fraternity over the weekend.
The students who have been living in the house will be provided alternative university housing, according to the statement from Wesleyan University President Michael Roth and Vice President for Student Affairs Michael Whaley.

“We have lost confidence in the ability of the fraternity members to manage social and residential activities at the house and abide by university policies,” Roth and Whaley said in the statement. “Wesleyan has an obligation to do what it reasonably can to ensure the safety of every member of the community, including the Beta fraternity members and their guests.”

An attempted sexual assault was reported at the house in April 2013.

Another Wesleyan student previously sued the Mu Epsilon chapter, the university, landlord, house manager and the Raymond Duy Baird Memorial Association, which is listed as the owner of the house, after claiming she was sexually assaulted there, according to a Courthouse News Services article from 2012.

“The decision to prohibit students from using the Beta house is based on the long history of incidents there,” Roth and Whaley said in a statement.

The fraternity's national Administrative Secretary Jud Horras said the Wesleyan chapter, which has been on probation, was suspended as a result of the incident.

Horras said the chapter is "in the midst of an extensive period of self-renewal and organization following several years of challenging behavior."

The student who fell over the weekend remains hospitalized and is in stable condition, Middletown police said on Tuesday.

School officials said the Beta house will “remain off-limits to all Wesleyan students for the rest of the academic year at least.”

“Down the road we are open to seeing from the fraternity a considered plan for the house and social activities there that satisfies our expectations for residential life at our university,” the statement says. 

Beta's national headquarters in Ohio responded to the university's decision in a statement Wednesday evening.

“As difficult as it may be at the beginning of the academic year for all of our undergraduate members to be moved by Wesleyan University out of the chapter house into alternative university housing, Beta Theta Pi undergraduates and alumni remain focused first and foremost on the recovery of the young woman who attempted to climb onto the roof of our chapter house this past weekend,” Horras said in the statement.

“She is a close friend to many undergraduate Betas and they are spending time in the hospital supporting her and her family. Initial accounts indicate this appears to have been a simple accident,” he added.

Horras said the fraternity will fully cooperate with Wesleyan and that the chapter's suspension "will provide an opportunity for appropriate measures of collaboration to be acted upon as a result of examining the broader context of the chapter's culture and its short- and long-term future."

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Missing 11-Year-Old Hartford Boy Found


Eleven-year-old Jermaine Armstrong, Jr. has been found hours after he was reported missing from Hartford on Wednesday, according to police.

Police have not released any information on the circumstances of his disappearance or said how he was found, but did say he was located in Hartford.

Jermaine has black hair and brown eyes. Police said he stands 4 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 92 pounds.

He was wearing a purple polo shirt reading "Achievement Academy First," black pants and multi-colored sneakers when he went missing. according to police.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Hartford police at 860-757-4000.

Photo Credit: Hartford Police Department

School Custodian Left Notes, Gifts for Girl: Police


Police in Milford, Connecticut, have arrested a 55-year-old elementary school custodian who is accused of leaving gifts and inappropriate notes on a 10-year-old girl’s school desk in an attempt to develop a relationship with her.

The Orchard Hills Elementary student went to the Milford Board of Education on Tuesday to complain that an adult was leaving notes and gifts on her desk, despite her requests that he stop.

Police identified the person behind the notes and gifts as the school custodian, Robert Rua, 55, of Milford, police said.

The student told her parents about the gifts, which started showing up at the beginning of the school year, then she left a note on her desk, telling the anonymous individual "no more gifts" because she thought it was strange, police said.

Despite the request to stop, the notes and gifts continued to come, police said.

According to the arrest warrant, Rua left a small drum on the girl's desk the first day of school with a blue sticky note saying, "I found you."

Later, she found a wind-up bumblebee toy inside her desk and told the school social worker she suspected the custodian was behind it, the warrant says.

On Tuesday, seven puzzle boxes containing 48 pieces were left on desks in one class and a student approached the teacher to report that a puzzle and another note had been left for her. 

"HI-U-LOL Wasn't shore u could read my writing was trying to disguise it in case some one found my note," the letter said. The note went on to describe Rua's favorite colors and musicians, according to police.

"Remember I want to keep this just between us. Don't want anyone to ruin it 4 us. Don't want to loose [sic] my job. Be in big trouble Just remember when u hold that drum between the palms of ur hand [sic] and rub them together the sound you will hear is the beating of my heart," the note continued.

The girl's teacher went to the principal for help.

Police obtained a search warrant for Rua’s home. When they searched it on Tuesday, they found the same puzzle box as the one left on the desks at school, police said.

Rua told police the puzzle belonged to his mother, who lives with him.

Police said they compared Rua's handwriting to the penmanship on the notes and determined they were one and the same.

Officers arrested Rua, took him into custody and charged him with risk of injury to a minor, second-degree harassment and disorderly conduct.

Rua has been placed on administrative leave, according to a statement from Milford Public Schools. He never approached the student, according to the school.

It was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer.

A judge issued a protective order for Rua to have no contact with the victim or Orchard Hills.

He was original held on $50,000 bond, but was lowered to $35,000.

He is due in court on Sept. 24.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Colorado Man Accused of Kidnapping Missing Hartford Teen


A Colorado man has been arrested, accused of kidnapping a Hartford teen who was missing for more than two weeks, according to Longmont, Colorado police.

Police said Jillian Burgos, 14, she was found on Wednesday inside an apartment in Longmont, Colorado and Timothy Wind, 53, of Longmont, has been arrested.

Burgos disappeared from her Hartford home on Monday, Aug. 25.

Police said Wind traveled to Connecticut and returned to Colorado with Jillian.

Investigators believe the teen has been with Wind since her disappearance.

Wind has been charged with second-degree kidnapping and Internet exploitation.

The Boulder County Housing and Human Services Department is caring for Burgos and working to reunite her with her family.

Photo Credit: Longmont Police Department

Case of Whooping Cough Reported at Wallingford School


Wallingford officials are urging parents and students to be on the alert after a middle school student came down with whooping cough and was pulled from school, according to a spokesperson for the town health department.

A student at Moran Middle School developed pertussis, otherwise known as whooping cough, at the start of the academic year and was taken out of school as soon as he was diagnosed, said Wallingford Health Department spokesperson Eloise Hazelwood.

The student has been treated with antibiotics and has fully recovered, but the health department sent a precautionary letter to parents on Wednesday to inform them of the signs and symptoms of whooping cough, the school district said.

"There is minimal risk to you if you are current in your vaccinations for pertussis," the letter says.

Hazelwood said the letter includes information on how to obtain low-cost vaccines and encourages parents and students to check their immunization statuses.

According to Hazelwood, the infected student has been on antibiotics for at least seven days and has passed the incubation period. Hazelwood said that by now, school officials would know if other cases had developed.

The school system also distributed a fact sheet containing basic information on the disease and how to protect against an infection.

Pertussis is a very contagious bacterial infection that affects the upper respiratory system, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The disease is spread by direct contact when an infected person coughs and sneezes.

Symptoms typically develop between five and 10 days of infection, but may not show up for as long as three weeks, according to the CDC. Cold-like symptoms, including sneezing, a fever and a runny nose, can develop into a severe cough and vomiting.

The name “whooping cough” derives from a high-pitched sound that sometimes accompanies coughing fits. Whooping cough is most dangerous to babies, who can experience apnea and stop breathing, the CDC says.

According to the CDC's 2013 surveillance report, 57 cases of whooping cough were reported in Connecticut last year.

Vaccines are the most effective means of preventing infection.

Parents are invited to raise questions and concerns at an open forum tomorrow night. The meeting will take in the Moran auditorium at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, according to the letter.

Wallingford Public Schools medical consultant Dr. Carlos Valentin and nursing coordinator Kathleen Neelon will be present alongside Hazelwood.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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