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Middletown Dance Team Wins National Championship


A Connecticut hip hop dance team won That's Entertainment's national dance competition in early August at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Middletown's Caffery's Dance and Gymnastics School earned the high score in the "all-senior group, line and production routines" and had the highest overall score with 299.5 out of a possible 300, according to a letter confirming the title from That's Entertainment Director RoseMary Pontuck.

The team competed as Caffery's Dance Crew and is made up of 16-to19-year-old students from Portland, East Hampton, Middletown and Higganum.

The dance crew did their routine to the song, "Bring Em Out."

"We rocked this dance competition," Kaitlyn Charton, Caffery's dance student, said. "Receiving the highest score of the entire competition was an indescribable feeling!"

The national championship-winning team includes Charton, Vanessa Lastrina, Adrianna Aresco, Lauren Billings, Megan Barnett, Kaitlyn Charton, Calvin Dempsy, Krysten Nye,Desiree Owens, Gina Palmieri, Kaitlyn Tomer, Gabby Varela and Chelsea Winborne. Lindsay Almquist choreographed the routine.

Caffery's dance director Maureen Aresco said that she's never before seen "a whole panel of judges jumped to their feet clapping and cheering" in her career as a dance teacher.

Nationals ran from Aug. 4 to 6. Before that Caffery's won the regional level competition in April in Windsor against about 1,000 competitors.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Caffery's Dance and Gymnastics School

Man Charged in Theft of Construction Equipment


Police have arrested a 22-year-old man accused of stealing construction equipment and batteries from commercial vehicles from several Plainfield businesses last month and said he’s also suspected of stealing storm grates from a Plainfield neighborhood last September.

Donald Malboeuf III, of Sterling, was arrested Tuesday following an investigation by Plainfield police and authorities over the state border in Rhode Island. He’s charged with several counts of larceny and conspiracy to commit larceny.

Police said Malbouef was also identified as a suspect in the thefts of storm drain grates in the Huntington Drive area in September 2013.

He was charged with two counts of fourth-degree larceny, one count of fifth-degree larceny, one count of conspiracy to commit fourth-degree larceny and one count of conspiracy to commit fifth-degree larceny and appeared in court today.

The investigation is ongoing and police said they expect to make additional arrests.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com

Box Truck Rollover Closes I-95 North in Waterford


Interstate 95 northbound is closed in Waterford after a box truck rolled over on the highway, according to state police.

Police said the truck driver suffered minor injuries. The crash happened around 2 p.m. and scattered debris across the highway. Authorities have shut down the area while they work to clear the road.

The Department of Transportation is sending dump trucks to help with cleanup.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation

Shelton Police Dog Retires


 Jager, a police dog that has been working with the Shelton Police Department since 2008, has retired.

K-9 Jager was paired up with Officer Christopher Nugent and helped several local, state, and federal agencies during his career. He was also a familiar face at schools and community functions and programs, police said. 

Jager assisted in approximately 75 successful tracks and apprehended as many as 15 suspects.

The Shelton Police Department is planning on getting another K-9 soon, but the dog will not be working with Nugent, who was promoted to detective.

The new police dog will have a new handler.

If you would like to donate to the police K-9 program, send a check to the Shelton Police Department, at 85 Wheeler St. in Shelton.

Checks should be made out to “City of Shelton Special K-9 account.”

Photo Credit: Shelton Police

WATCH: Ebola Survivor Speaks


Dr. Kent Brantly, the Fort Worth doctor who was cured of Ebola after contracting the deadly virus while working with a charity in Liberia, is speaking Tuesday afternoon before a Senate panel hearing.

The hearing is on the public health threat of Ebola in West Africa.

Watch video from the hearing in the player above.

Earlier Tuesday, President Barack Obama met with Dr. Brantly and his wife, Amber, in the Oval Office.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

Wynn Resorts Wins Boston Casino License


Wynn Resorts has won the sole Boston-area gambling license with a $1.6 billion plan for a waterfront casino in Everett, Massachusetts.

The Everett proposal beat out Mohegan Sun's plan for a casino at Suffolk Downs in Revere, worth $1.1 billion.

Four Massachusetts Gaming Commission officials first gave their opinions in a non-binding poll Tuesday afternoon. Three of the commissioners said they leaned in favor of the Wynn proposal because they believed it would lead to more jobs and economic development for the state.

After the commissioners explained their thoughts, they voted to ratify the decision.

Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria issued a statement thanking supporters of the proposed casino.

"I want to thank the people of Everett for their continued support throughout the last two years as we made the journey to this point together," the statement read.

DeMaria went on to thank the people of Revere and Mayor Dan Rizzo for their work and energy during the process, saying that that city should be proud of its mayor.

Suffolk Downs COO Chip Tuttle expressed his displeasure with the decision.

"We are extraordinarily disappointed as this action is likely to cost the Commonwealth thousands of jobs," said Tuttle in a statement. "We will be meeting with employees and horsemen over the next several days to talk about how we wind down racing operations as a 79-year legacy of thoroughbred racing in Massachusetts will be coming to an end, resulting in unemployment and uncertainty for many hard-working people."

Mohegan Sun's CEO also voiced his organization's disappointment

"[We] believe we are the best choice for the Commonwealth's flagship casino," wrote Mitchell Etess. "We want to thank our supporters, Suffolk Downs, Mayor Rizzo, the city of Revere and all of our partners for their tireless efforts to bring jobs and economic growth to this region."

During the poll, Commissioners Gayle Cameron, Bruce Stebbins and Enrique Zuniga voted in favor of Wynn, while Acting Chairman James McHugh held out because he had doubts about whether the resort would open on time.

NECN will have more as this story develops.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Police Want to ID Woman Who Fired Gun in Video


Bridgeport police are trying to identify a woman who is seen firing a gun in a Facebook video.

The woman fired a semiautomatic handgun, according to police. They said they do not know if the incident happened in Bridgeport or another local city or town.

If you know the woman or where the gun was shot, call Detective John Pribesh at 203-581-5212.

Photo Credit: Bridgeport Police

Woman Caught on Camera Stealing Statue From Gravesite


The family of a deceased person whose headstone was vandalized set up a camera to catch the culprit, and footage from this weekend shows a woman stealing a statue from the Middletown grave.

Camera footage shows a blonde woman driving a white SUV to the Calvary Cemetery at 307 Bow Lane in Middletown on Saturday, Sept. 13. Police said family members set up the camera after their loved one’s gravesite was recently defaced.

The suspect has shoulder-length blonde hair with bangs and is seen wearing light-colored zip-up sweatshirt or sweater, blue jeans and white sneakers. Video shows her stopping at the gravesite, picking up the statue and driving off with it, according to police.

Although the statue is valued at $100, police said “the sentimental value is priceless.”

Middletown police are asking for the public’s help in identifying the suspect.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Officer Robert Kraeger at 860-638-4000 ext. 310 or rkraeger@middletownctpolice.com.

Photo Credit: Middletown Police Department

Search Resumes for U.Va. Freshman


Police are studying new video of a missing University of Virginia student, hoping that the sighting outside a pub in Charlottesville will help them narrow their search.

Hannah Elizabeth Graham, 18, who is from Fairfax County, has been missing since Saturday.

The recently released video shows her outside McGrady's Irish Pub, then walking east along Preston Avenue in Charlottesville at 12:46 a.m. Saturday.

"Hannah is not the kind of kid that would just go on a road trip and disappear," said Stephen Rice, the band director at Graham's alma mater, West Potomac High School. "She was always very diligent with everything she did, and always did everything exactly by the book."

Her family released the following statement in part Tuesday afternoon:

"Those of us who know and love Hannah know that she would not disappear without contacting family or friends. She is highly responsible and organized. She embraces life with energy and enthusiasm and has enriched the lives of many. Her empathy is evident in her daily interactions with us and her friends."

Police have started searching in the area of Grady and Preston avenues in Charlottesville. Previously, they had used a bloodhound to search a large area northeast of the university on Monday and found no trace of Graham. The FBI has confirmed their involvement in the search, saying only they're providing investigative resources to local police.

Graham, who is originally from England, is 5 feet 11 inches tall with blue eyes, light brown hair and freckles, according to university officials. She was last seen wearing black pants and a gold crop top with black mesh cutouts, surveillance photos released by police show. 

Police said Graham's friends reported her missing Sunday after realizing nobody had seen or heard from her since early Saturday morning, when she sent a text message to a friend after leaving a party.

University President Teresa A. Sullivan issued a statement saying the community is "united in our deep concern'' for the Fairfax County freshman.

Graham graduated from West Potomac High School in Fairfax County last year. Her parents have left their home in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County to go to Charlottesville to help look for her.

"I just want her home safe. I'm scared for her," said Karen Blunk, who lives next door to Graham's parents. "Just from the standpoint of, you hear horrible things."

In October 2009, Morgan Harrington, a 20-year-old Virginia Tech student, went missing after leaving the University of Virginia's John Paul Jones Arena while attending a rock concert. Her remains were found three months later in a rural area. No arrests have been made.

At least two other young women, both 19 years old, have also disappeared in the area in recent years. Samantha Ann Clarke vanished after leaving her Orange County townhouse in September 2010. DaShad Laquinn Smith disappeared in Charlottesville in November 2012. Neither have been found.

A "Help Find Hannah Graham"' page was established on Facebook.

Anyone with information regarding Graham's whereabouts is asked to call police at 434-970-3280 or Crimestoppers at 434-977-4000.

Former Bank Teller Steals $35K From Customers: Officials


A former bank teller is facing charges after stealing more than $35,000 from the accounts of nine customers, according to the state Division of Criminal Justice.

Susan Holm, 40, of Milford, was arrested Tuesday morning and charged with first-degree larceny and first-degree computer crime, both felony offenses.

She’s accused of embezzling $35,258 from nine customers’ accounts between November 2012 and July 2013 while working as a teller at the Municipal Federal Credit Union in New Haven, according to the DCJ.

Holm posted $35,000 bond and is due in New Haven Superior Court on Sept. 25. She could face up to 40 years in prison if convicted.

Photo Credit: flickr/401(K) 2013

Student in Military Jacket Prompts Southington Lockdown: Police


JFK Middle School in Southington was on lockdown Tuesday after a student in a military-style jacket prompted concerns from staff members, who called police to report a suspicious person at the school.

The middle school, located at 1071 South Main Street, was placed on lockdown around 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Police said a school employee spotted a suspicious man in the hallway and described him as standing 5 feet 7 inches tall and wearing a green military-type jacket.

The school sent an alert to parents informing them of the incident as officers canvassed the area and searched the school grounds.

According to police, a student matching the staff member's description was found in a classroom and identified as the person in question.

The student did not pose a threat and, after completing a secondary search, police gave the all clear. The lockdown was lifted shortly before 1 p.m.

A second alert from Southington schools said police did not find anything that was cause for concern but conducted a thorough search for the buildings and grounds.

Just two weeks ago,  the school was on lockdown while police investigated a nearby bank robbery.

About 800 students are enrolled at the school

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Baby Born to Boston Marathon Couple


A Dallas couple who wed just after running the Boston Marathon last year, soon after a pair of bombs tore through its finish line, are celebrating the birth of a baby girl Tuesday.

Robert and Kelli Watling welcomed their daughter Alexandra Copley Watling, whose middle name commemorates Copley Square — the site of the Boston Marathon finish line, and of the 2013 twin bombings.

Alexandra was born at 10:26 a.m. Tuesday, weighing in at 5 pounds, 6 ounces.

The Watlings are a couple with a deep love of running, and a tradition of linking their milestones to marathons.

Their love story began with a first date at a 5K, progressed to a proposal after the Chicago Marathon and culminated in a wedding after the finish of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, just after the bombs exploded.

Their Boston Common nuptials had just begun last year when the bombs exploded, but with the support of their families, they went ahead with the wedding anyway amid the confusion.

"At that time, we still weren't sure who did this or why," Kelli told NECN earlier this year. "If it was a terrorist act, we certainly weren't going to let them derail our plans."

The couple raced the Boston Marathon again this past year knowing their daughter was on her way, in a triumphant move Robert said at the time marked "a perfect ending for us."

Photo Credit: Courtesy

Tea Party Calls on Visconti to Drop Out of Race


Connecticut Tea Party leader Tanya Bachand has written an open letter to unaffiliated candidate for governor Joe Visconti, a Republican, calling on him to vacate the race.

She sent a first draft of her letter to a few of her fellow Tea Party activists and she said the reaction was universal.

“Everybody was thinking the same thing and I put it down to paper,” Bachand said during an interview.

Bachand says the consensus among her fellow Tea Partiers is that Visconti's candidacy could spell doom for the Foley campaign by stealing right-leaning votes.

“This is not so much about being pro-Foley as it is making sure, two fold, one that Malloy does not get reelected and Foley’s our best shot at that and two that the Tea Party principles and ideals survive past this election,” Bachand said.

Visconti said when he received the letter that he refused to read it.

“I don’t read anything that starts with, ‘You can’t win,’” Visconti said.

In response, Visconti released a web video that displayed photos of him with several of the Tea Party leaders who signed the letter, along with photos of him at political rallies.

The unaffiliated candidate actively participated in the Tea Party movement in Connecticut and said he feels that leaders across the state are turning their backs on their core beliefs.

“They basically surrendered their principles. This is what they’ve done,” Visconti said Tuesday. “Tom Foley is not a conservative. He will not repeal Common Core. He will not repeal SB1170. He won’t even seek to repeal these. That’s what the big argument is.”

Tea Party groups concede that Tom Foley is not the ideal candidate.

Bachand even said, “Foley isn’t a panacea,” and added that the effort to get Visconti off the ballot has more to do with maintain the momentum of the movement.

“This is not about surrendering our principles. This is about making sure that our principles survive to fight another day,” Bachand said.

Chris Christie Coming to Connecticut


New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will travel to Connecticut next Tuesday to stump for Republicans running for office, sources close to Tom Foley's campaign told NBC Connecticut.

Right now, it's not clear where the event will take place, but Christie is expected to headline a fundraiser as well.

Christie visited Connecticut in July for a fundraiser in Greenwich alongside GOP candidate for governor Tom Foley.

Christie is the chairman of the Republican Governors Association and is rumored to be a potential 2016 presidential candidate.

Photo Credit: EFE

Cancer Alliance Moves Forward in Connecticut


The Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute is now the first certified member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance, which means patients here in Connecticut will have an option to get cutting-edge care close to home.

The new development was announced on the Hartford Hospital campus Tuesday morning. The certification was granted after Hartford HealthCare aligned its standards of care with Memorial Sloan Kettering’s standards, and comes about a year after plans for the partnership were initially announced.

Under the partnership, doctors from the New York-based cancer center will train physicians from Hartford HealthCare’s five cancer centers on the latest surgical and treatment advancements.

Hartford HealthCare patients will also be able to participate in Memorial Sloan Kettering clinical trials over the next couple of months, said Dr. Andrew Salner, the medical director of the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute.

“We want to provide the absolute best cancer care in the world close to home,” said Salner.

Bloomfield resident Cynthia Gordon has already benefitted from the partnership.

Gordon was diagnosed with a rare abdominal cancer last year. She underwent surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering and returned to Hartford for her chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

“To know that right here in Hartford you can walk in and have access to the newest trials, the newest research, the newest surgeries, how fabulous is that? It just takes the weight of worry of am I getting the best care? Yes, you are,” Gordon said.

Berlin Police Push for New Headquarters


Berlin police hope to break ground on a new headquarters next year, but opposition to the project is growing.

The $21-million facility would go up on Farmington Avenue and would take up about 30,000 square feet, about three times the size of the department’s current building, which sits next to the town hall.

“We’re looking for the community to support the police department. My officers are out there serving 24 hours a day, seven days a week and we’d like the community to back us up with the project,” said Chief Paul Fitzgerald of the Berlin Police Department.

The project has become controversial, with a group called the Berlin Property Owners Association raising concerns about its cost.

The department moved into its current space 40 years ago. At the time, they had one-third of the manpower that they currently have, said Fitzgerald.

Voters will decide on the project’s fate at the polls in November.

If it’s approved, the project will break ground in 2015. Officers hope to occupy the new space in 2017, Fitzgerald said.

Man Pays With Fake $100 Bill in Bridgeport: Police


A 26-year-old Brooklyn man is facing forgery charges after trying to use a fake $100 bill at a store in Bridgeport earlier this week.

Police said Charles Rowe tried to pay with counterfeit cash at a shop on Maplewood Avenue on Monday. Detectives searched his car and found eight more fake bills, along with $298 in actual currency.

Authorities believe Rowe was using the fake bills to make purchases and receiving real money as change.

He told detectives he was visiting his sick grandmother in Bridgeport, but couldn’t provide a name or address, police said.

Rowe was arrested Monday and charged with two counts of forgery. He was held on $25,000 bond.

Bridgeport police detectives and the U.S. Secret Service are investigating.

Photo Credit: Bridgeport Police Department

Killingly to Reconsider Mascot in Light of National Controversy


The use of Native American references in team mascots isn't just a national debate – a number of local high schools are also joining the discussion, including the one in Killingly.

Sports teams in Killingly have been known as "the Redmen" for more than a century, but some students say it may be time for a change.

"It's a little racy, a little controversial in my opinion," said Killingly High School senior Steven Dellabaiea. "I think it should be looked at."

Killingly upt. Kevin Farr says a parent recently contacted him with concerns, and now school officials are taking a look at what they can do about it.

There are currently no immediate plans to change the mascot, but Farr says he expects the Board of Education to tackle the issue this year.

"We're actually taking a proactive approach to it, having student groups have a conversation about it," Farr explained.

It comes amid mounting pressure on the Washington Redskins to change their name. A campaign called "Change the Mascot" sent letters to 31 other NFL teams asking them to use their authority and take action against Redskins owner Dan Snyder.

Tribal leaders held a news conference on Capitol Hill on Tuesday.

"The Washington R-word is a dictionary-defined racial term. THere is no way it can be used to honor a people," said Ray Halbritter of the United Indian Nation, during the press conference in Washington.

NY Man Charged in ISIS Plot: FBI


A Rochester-area man has been charged on terror-related counts after the FBI said he allegedly tried to buy guns to support the terror group ISIS and talked about wanting to kill American soldiers in the U.S.

Investigators said Mufid Elfgeeh also allegedly boasted that he wanted to kill Shiite Muslim residents in his city and find others who would travel to join ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria.

Elfgeeh was first arrested in May, and the firearms charges were made public in June. The recruitment charges were contained in a grand jury indictment handed up Tuesday.

The Justice Department said in addition to posting tweets with photographs and captions like "fighting the American invasion," they said he tried to buy two handguns and silencers to carry out an attack. But the FBI had been watching him for months and said it was unlikely that he could have carried out his alleged plans.

Officials said they arrested Elfgeeh after he allegedly began seeking financial help to carry out an attack. In a sting, they said he tried to buy the weapons from undercover agents.

Elfgeeh came on the radar after an informant who was paid $21,000 for information tipped them off. A second undercover agent was paid $4,000 for his assistance as well, officials said.

Federal officials said they have Elfgeeh on tape boasting that he hoped to kill 10 to 15 soldiers or former soldiers before releasing a video claiming responsibility.

In one online posting, Elfgeeh allegedly said,”Every Iraqi Sunni jihadist is defined as a terrorist in international society; what they don’t know is that the State of Iraq and Sham (ISIL) will one day rule the world with the will of Allah.”

“We will remain aggressive in identifying and disrupting those who seek to provide support to ISIL and other terrorist groups that are bent on inflicting harm upon Americans,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.

Elfgeeh, 30, is a naturalized American citizen of Yemeni descent. In addition to allegedly contacting the informants for help buying guns, they say he also sent $600 to a Yemeni man to help him get to Syria to join ISIS fighters there.

Elfgeeh is currently being held behind bars without bail. Phone calls and emails to his attorney, with a Rochester public defender's office, were not returned Tuesday evening. 

Follow Jonathan Dienst on Twitter @jonathan4NY

Meningitis Kills Georgetown Student


A Georgetown University student died Tuesday after apparently battling a bout of meningitis, school officials say. 

Andrea Jaime, a sophomore at the School of Nursing and Health Studies, passed away at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. 

Several days ago, Jaime tweeted she had a fever of 105 degrees.

According to a letter shared by university officials, students and teachers at the school do not need to take additional action. Tests are underway to confirm the 19-year-old's cause of death.

"This is difficult news for the many members of the Georgetown community who know Andrea," officials said in a letter sent to students Tuesday. "Georgetown officials have been in touch with Andrea’s family and will continue to provide support and assistance to them. Please join us in remembering Andrea’s family and friends in your thoughts and prayers during this time."

Jaime, who is originally from Bogota, Columbia, graduated from Coral Gables Senior High School in Miami, Florida, according to the school's newspaper.

"I know she was in a sorority, she was a really nice girl. I don't know her personally, but everyone's going to remember her," one student said.

Students gathered with heavy hearts Tuesday night for a prayer service in Jaime's honor.

"It's just sad," another student added. "Being a college student you don't expect someone to pass away like that. It's surreal."

If you are a student at Georgetown and concerned about your health, you're asked to call the student health center at 202-687-2200 or 202-44-7243.

Photo Credit: Facebook
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