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New Haven Celebrates New Montessori School


City leaders will gather in New Haven on Wednesday to celebrate the inaugural year of the Elm City Montessori School on Quinnipiac Avenue, which currently serves students ages three to five.

The federally-funded magnet school focuses on individualized learning, student independence and strong family engagement, according to a release from the school system. Newly renovated classrooms feature hands-on learning materials that encourage exploration through the Montessori method.

Ninety percent of the students hail from New Haven, while 10 percent come from neighboring towns through the regional magnet program. The school’s inaugural class includes 70 of its 600 applicants. Over time, it will grow to serve 300 students in Pre-K through eighth grade.

“Our program is designed to promote lifelong learning through a developmental approach to education that integrates math, science, language arts, music and the outdoors in an academically stimulating environment,” Principal Alissa Levi said in a statement Monday.

Although the school year began in August, the New Haven superintendent and education commissioner will join parents, students and staff for a grand opening ceremony Wednesday, Oct. 8 at 9 a.m.

2 Boys Dead in Queens House Fire: Police


Two boys found in cardiac arrest inside a burning Queens home later died at the hospital, authorities say.

The Tioga Drive home in St. Albans was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived at around 7 p.m., officials said. The fire appeared to have started on the first floor, then extended to the second floor.

The boys, ages 6 and 11, were found in cardiac arrest on the second floor. Paramedics performed CPR and transported them to Queens General Hospital, where they were pronounced dead.

A neighbor said he saw emergency responders taking a little boy out of the home and his face appeared to be badly burned.

"It seemed like he wasn't even breathing at all," he said, identifying himself only as Junior. "They pumped his chest and they kept on going."

A 33-year-old man who was also inside the house at the time had jumped from a third-floor window and had minor injuries, officials said.  He was taken to the hospital.

The fire was brought under control within about 45 minutes. A cause wasn't immediately clear.

Fire officials on the scene said three firefighters were hurt battling the blaze, but their injuries were considered minor. 

But the death of children "always adds another dimension that makes it a little more emotional for our firefighters to deal with," said FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief James Leonard.

More Local Stories: 

Girl Brings Heroin to Daycare: PD


A Delaware mother was arrested after her 4-year-old daughter brought over 200 bags of heroin to school and passed them out to other children at a local daycare, thinking they were candy, police say.

Delaware State Troopers and medics were called to the Hickory Tree Child Care Center on Hickory Tree Lane in Selbyville Monday around 11:45 a.m. Staff at the daycare told police they spotted some children with small bags of an unknown substance.

The white powdery substance inside the bags was removed by the teachers and taken to the Selbyville Police Department. Investigators determined the substance was heroin.

According to investigators, a 4-year-old girl unknowingly brought the bags of heroin to the daycare inside a backpack that her mother, identified as 30-year-old Ashley Tull, gave her. Police said Tull gave her daughter the bag after her other backpack was ruined by a family pet.

The girl passed the packets of heroin to her classmates, believing they were candy, according to investigators. Police said 249 bags of heroin weighing 3.735 grams were found inside the backpack.

Several children who came in contact with the unopened bags were taken to local hospitals as a precaution. They were later released.

Tull was apprehended by state troopers after she arrived at the daycare. She was then taken into custody after being interviewed.

She is charged with maintaining a drug property and endangering the welfare of a child. She was arraigned and released after posting $6,000 bail.

The 4-year-old girl as well as Tull’s 9-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter were placed in the custody of a relative. Tull was ordered to not have any contact with her children. 

Police continue to investigate the incident and said more charges could be filed.

Photo Credit: Delaware State Police
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Irate Residents Want Sex Offenders Out and Away From Kids


Angry residents flocked to a Monday night meeting in Manchester to demand that convicted sex offenders be moved out of their neighborhood and away from their children.

The offenders moved into a group home on Clinton Street over the summer. Town officials said they were not notified, although the Department of Corrections isn’t required to let them know ahead of time.

Tonight more than 100 neighbors packed into the meeting room to face the DOC commissioner and implore him to take action.

“Really, you sicken me. I don’t care how long you’ve been doing this. They don’t live in your neighborhood; they live in ours,” one resident jeered.

DOC Interim Commissioner Scott Semple tried to put things in perspective.

“If they’re not here, they’re going somewhere,” he explained.

But residents said their safety has been compromised, arguing that schools, parks and bus stops in the area provide too many potential victims.

“They don’t need to have a home in a neighborhood full of families, children, full of single woman,” one resident said.

“They need to be placed somewhere away from children. There’s a bus stop right there. Who’s protecting the children? Not you,” another added.

Even the mayor spoke up, urging the DOC to reconsider.

Semple attempted to quiet the crowd by explaining that the offenders are being closely monitored and statistically speaking are unlikely to commit a repeat offense, but it fell on deaf ears Monday night.

“Everybody is here to get them out. That’s all they want to know,” one resident said, and was met with applause.

Semple acknowledged the concern and said he would take it into consideration.

“At this juncture, I think it’s better to take the concerns back to our office and evaluate before we make any further decisions,” he said.

The DOC plans to sit down with town officials to debrief after tonight’s meeting and is considering a change in protocol for notifying communities in the future.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

28K Pounds of Cocaine Seized


Coast Guard crews unloaded more than 28,000 pounds of cocaine in San Diego Monday after completing an operation that officials call a significant blow to drug smuggling networks.

Over the past 90 days, Coast Guard and Navy service members have patrolled the coasts of Central and South America as part of Operation Martillo. The efforts aimed to disrupt smuggling of not only drugs, but weapons, cash and people as well.

In 18 busts, crews hauled in over 14 tons of cocaine, estimated to have a $423 million wholesale value.

A Coast Guard ship brought the results of their labor to Naval Base San Diego Monday morning, offloading the massive amount of drugs to be turned over to the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Pacific Area Commander Vice. Adm. Charles W. Ray welcomed the service members back to land and honored them with an award.

“You're work also went a long ways to demonstrating our resolve as a service to secure the borders of our nation and ensure that free commerce comes and goes and those that would do us ill will are kept away,” said Ray.

Several people were detained through the operation, and the DEA will now take over the investigation.

According to the Coast Guard, transnational organized crime presents increased threats throughout the Western Hemisphere. Officials hope taking this cocaine out of the equation will put a big dent in illegal trafficking.

Photo Credit: Matt Rascon/NBC 7

CDC to Set Up Quarantine Stations


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working to set up 20 quarantine stations at airports across the United States, including Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, as concern grows for travelers coming from Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa.

This comes after Texas Gov. Rick Perry called on the federal government to do more to protect Texans from infectious diseases from coming overseas.

"Customs officials and Border Patrol agents at all points of entry should immediately be directed to conduct enhanced screening procedures," said Perry.

NBC News reports the White House wants to add CDC personnel at some major ports of entry that likely include airports in New York City, Chicago and Washington D.C.

Air travelers in North Texas have mixed opinions about adding additional measures.

"I think it's OK the way it is," said Louis Garcia, who was traveling from DFW Airport to Brownsville.

"We're from California, and we were coming here [to Dallas-Fort Worth]," said traveler Edgar Apodaca. "I heard it [Ebola] was in Dallas, it concerns me."

The latest measure will most likely target passengers traveling from West African countries where Ebola is widespread.

"It's [Ebola] something you ought to keep an eye on," said Grant Abrams, who is traveling to Chile. "It would be best to catch it before it starts spreading."

There is no time line set on when additional measures will be put into place or how it will affect travelers at DFW Airport. A senior White House official told NBC News they are still working on those details.

Man Arrested After Off-Duty Officer Interrupts Robbery


A 34-year-old Bridgeport man is behind bars after an off-duty officer caught him assaulting and robbing a man early Sunday morning, according to police.

Police said an officer who had finished his shift spotted Ransey Medina attacking the victim and taking his wallet.

The officer got out of his cruiser and ordered Medina to put his hands up, but Medina ignored him and began taking off the victim's shoes, according to police.

Medina was arrested and charged with third-degree robbery and third-degree assault.

His bond was set at $10,000.

Photo Credit: Bridgeport Police Department

Woman Called Police 162 Times Over Non-Emergencies: Cops


Don’t call 911 unless there’s a real emergency.

That’s the message authorities are sending to 43-year-old Shaila Hegde, who they say has called Glastonbury police 162 times since 2007, including 24 times this year alone.

According to the police department, Hegde’s calls were mostly “unfounded complaints.” Once, she called to complain that her CDs were scratched, and another time she alleged her phone was being monitored.

Police said they warned her multiple times to stop calling about non-emergencies – but that she didn’t listen.

Hegde was arrested and charged with misuse of 911 and falsely reporting an incident.

She appeared in court late last month and is due back before a judge Oct. 10, according to online court records.

It's not clear if Hegde has an attorney.

Photo Credit: Glastonbury Police Department

Utah Jazz "Signs" 5-Year-Old Fan With Leukemia


JP Gibson, a 5-year-old basketball lover, had his dream come true when he got a one-day contract to play for the Utah Jazz on Monday.

To give something back to their little but loyal fan who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2012, the Jazz also let Gibson join them during their open scrimmage at EnergySolutions Arena Monday night.

His parents Josh and Megan, along with his 2-year-old-sister Elsie, accompanied free agent guard JP as he stood up on the table holding his official Utah Jazz jersey for photographs after signing his deal with Jazz president Randy Rigby.

“When he was just over a year old, he would sit with my husband Josh watching games," JP's mother Megan Gibson told NBA.com. "He started insisting on shooting hoops for an hour each night before bedtime when he was just 15 months old. He knows he has to be six before he can play Junior Jazz, and he reminds us all the time that he can't wait until he's six.”

And he didn’t. Wearing a No.1 jersey, Gibson went straight to the Utah Jazz to dribble and dodge NBA pros. He even dunked the ball, with a little help from center Rudy Gobert.

The Gibson family, who reside in Layton, Utah, was hosted by the Jazz team and “Anything Can Be.” The project is part of the Millie’s Princess Foundation that provides financial support, awareness and hope to families affected by childhood cancer. For the project, photographer Jon Diaz asks children suffering from cancer what their dream is and makes it a reality through a photographic storybook. JP Gibson's Utah Jazz dream is one of them.

Photo Credit: AP
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Warrant Details Child Sex Claims Against Ex-DMV Official


The former deputy commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles pleaded not guilty today to sexually assaulting a young girl over a period of several years and the arrest warrant has been unsealed.

Victor Diaz, 36, of Collins Street in Waterbury, was arrested last month in Westport, according to Waterbury police, and is accused of sexually assaulting a girl from the time she was around 11 years old.

Police started investigating after the girl opened up to a friend and said an uncle was sexually abusing her and touching her inappropriately, according to the arrest warrant application.

She later said the man was not really an uncle, identified Diaz as the man responsible and said was afraid she would get him in trouble.

After police received an anonymous tip, they interviewed the victim and she said that Diaz was a family friend and he touched her while her mother was in the shower or out of the house and would only stop when he heard her mother.

The abuse happened weekly, she told police, and she tried to fight him off, according to statements made to police.

She told police that Diaz bought her a phone and set up a Snapchat account, which deletes messages automatically, then asked for nude photos of her private parts.

She refused, but eventually did send the nude photos just so he'd stop asking, she said. 

After receiving photos of the pre-teen, he'd send messages back, like "your (sic) beautiful and "your (sic) all mine," according to police.

Diaz denied touching the girl, admitted she was the only person he communicated with through Snapchat, but said he never received photos of the girl without clothes on, according to police. 

Investigators were able to retrieve about 10 images that matched the girl's description of the photos Diaz asked her to send, but they have not been able to find them on Diaz's phone, police said. A forensic exam is pending.

The girl went on to tell police that Diaz bought her thong and lace underwear and used sex toys on her. He denied buying the underwear

When police asked Diaz about the allegations, he denied touching the girl, commented about his career, as well as his "six-figure salary" and said his life is over, according to the arrest warrant application.  

Diaz has been charged with first-degree sexual assault, four counts of fourth-degree sexual assault, criminal attempt at first-degree sexual assault, second-degree unlawful restraint, two counts of second-degree sexual assault, criminal attempt at second-degree sexual assault, two counts of risk of injury to a minor and employing a minor in an obscene performance.

Diaz was held on $1 million bond, which was later lowered to $750,000. He has been released and is due in court on Nov. 7.

DMV Commissioner Melody A. Currey, who appointed Diaz as deputy commissioner in 2011 and accepted his resignation, said in a statement after Diaz's arrest that the "allegations are extremely disturbing."

Photo Credit: Waterbury Police Department

$1,200 in Bras and Underwear Stolen From Victoria's Secret


Police are searching for three people who stole nearly $1,200 worth of bras and underwear from a Victoria’s Secret store in Fairfield.

According to police, two women and a man ran into the store at 1499 Post Road while employees were changing shifts around 4 p.m. Oct. 3. The suspect filled two large shopping bags with $1,184 in stolen merchandise and fled the store.

They were last seen running southbound on Reef Road. An employee working at the time told police the suspects cleared out an entire shelf and drawer and got away with 20 bras and 50 pairs of underwear. She wasn’t sure if the suspects got into a car.

Police said there are no security cameras in the store. The employee told officers all bras are tagged with security sensors, but no alarms went off in the store. Authorities believe the shopping bags used during the theft were lined with foil or a “sensor defeating material.”

The suspects are described as two slender black women and a black man all standing about 5 feet 7 inches tall. The employee said she had never seen them before.

Anyone with information is urged to call Fairfield police at 203-254-4800.

Photo Credit: Steve Rhodes/Flickr

No Credible Threat to Bridgeport School: Police


The report that prompted a Bridgeport school evacuation Tuesday morning did not contain a credible threat, according to police.

Students were briefly evacuated from Roosevelt School on Iranistan Avenue in Bridgeport after police received a 911 call around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday. Police said children in Kindergarten through eighth grade were brought to a nearby building at the University of Bridgeport while authorities investigated.

Police gave the all clear and students returned to class about 20 minutes later.

Assistant Police Chief James Nardozzi said the students were never in any danger.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Threat Reported at Enfield High School


Police are investigating after a student reported a threat at Enfield High School on Tuesday morning.

According to police, a student overheard a peer make a comment about committing an incident similar to the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The student told a friend, who reported it to school officials.

"From what I heard, he's going to shoot up the school sixth period, and he's in my class sixth period," said Enfield student Giuseppe Burgio, who erred on the safe side and left school with his mother.

Authorities identified and questioned the student accused of making the threat, but said there was not enough evidence to make an arrest.

While school officials initially reported the school was on lockdown, the Enfield superintendent's office and Enfield Police Chief Carl Sferrazza said that wasn't the case.

Police said they don't believe the students were ever in danger but take all threats seriously. Fifteen parents arrived at school pick up their children.

"Nowadays, people are just crazy. They're gun happy, and I don't take a chance when it comes to my boy," said Diane Burgio, Giuseppe's mom.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Officer Shoots Dog After Unprovoked Attack: Police


A dog is recovering at the animal hospital after he was shot while attacking an officer unprovoked in his East Haven neighborhood Tuesday morning, according to police.

The officer was on patrol near Oceanview Towing on Coe Avenue in the Momauguin section of East Haven just before 3 a.m. when he spotted a pit-bull mix named Tucker roaming around the neighborhood.

The dog's owner later said Tucker had gone outside to use the bathroom. Video from the officer's body camera shows him leave his cruiser and approach the dog, who was standing along the curb.

"Where did you come from?" the officer asked him.

In an instant, the dog charged the officer with teeth bared, according to the video.. The officer pulled out his gun and fired.

"In this case, it was pretty clear that the dog was acting aggressively and attacked the officer," said East Haven police spokesman Lt. David Emerman. "It was totally unprovoked."

The officer was not hurt. Tucker's owner, who asked not to be identified by name, said her dog bolted back into the house bleeding.

"He ran in the back door and just stopped in teh middle of the ktichen," she explained. "I could see the two holes in his chest and blood was just pouring everywhere."

Tucker survived and is expected to be OK. He's being treated at Central Hospital for Veterinary Medicine in North Haven and Animal Control is covering his $800 medical bill, which his owner could not afford.

Vets said the bullet caused some damage but missed Tucker's heart.

"So far, he's showing great response to the care he's getting," said Dr. Kimberly MacDonald of the Central Hospital for Veterinary Medicine. "He doesn't need to much intervention. Actually, some of what he sustained should self-resolve with time. There's always some concern that things could turn toward the worse, but he's not showing any signs of that."

Tucker's owner admitted that her dog's behavior was aggressive but called it uncharacteristic.

"Everyone says, 'Oh no, mine would never do that,'" said Tucker's owner, who ask not to be identified by name. "But I can't believe it."

She wonders why the officer didn't use a stun gun instead.

An internal affairs officer is investigating and the Department of Justice and the Joint Compliance Expert was notified, according to department policy.

Photo Credit: East Haven Police
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Ex-DMV Official Pleads Not Guilty to Child Sex Assault


The former deputy commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting a young victim over a period of several years.

Victor Diaz, 36, of Collins Street in Waterbury, was arrested last month in Westport, according to Waterbury police, and is accused of sexually assaulting a minor under the age of 16.

Diaz has been charged with first-degree sexual assault, four counts of fourth-degree sexual assault, criminal attempt at first-degree sexual assault, second-degree unlawful restraint, two counts of second-degree sexual assault, criminal attempt at second-degree sexual assault, two counts of risk of injury to a minor and employing a minor in an obscene performance.

He is out on $750.000 bond and is due in court on Nov. 7.

DMV Commissioner Melody A. Currey, who appointed Diaz as deputy commissioner in 2011 and accepted his resignation, said in a statement after Diaz's arrest that the "allegations are extremely disturbing."

He resigned last month citing "personal reasons."

"If proven to be true, this is intolerable conduct," Currey said in the statement. "I accepted his resignation two weeks ago and this now remains a personal matter for Mr. Diaz."

Police have not released further information because the case file is sealed, but said they do not expect to file additional charges.

The warrant is set to be unsealed today.

Diaz was held on $1 million bond, which was later lowered to $750,000.  

Photo Credit: Waterbury Police Department

Prayer Vigil for Ebola Patient


The Rev. Jesse Jackson held a prayer vigil with the family of Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan at the Dallas hospital where he is being treated for the potentially deadly virus Tuesday.

The civil rights leader spoke alongside Duncan's mother, son and other relatives and called on the public to show compassion to Duncan and his family, not to ostracize them.

Jackson joined the family as they met with doctors and hoped to see Duncan, who is in critical but stable condition at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. Duncan has been in isolation there since he became the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States last week.

"There was a sense of urgency here, and there were signs today that were hopeful," said Jackson.

Both Jackson and Duncan's family have been critical of the way the Liberian man was first treated by the hospital.

"He came here explaining that he came from Liberia and he had all off the symptoms that would indicate he might have had Ebola, and they sent him home," said Duncan's nephew Josephus Weeks.

Duncan was given the experimental drug brincidofovir on Saturday, and the hospital said his liver function, which had declined over the weekend, had improved Tuesday.

"We're happy with the care he's getting now. He should have got this care a week ago," said Weeks. "That's my point."

Weeks said Duncan's blood pressure, heart rate and temperature had returned to normal Tuesday, but he's still receiving kidney dialysis.

"Until the lung and kidney signs get better and he can create his own urine flow, they will not say anything yet. But I left hopeful," said Jackson.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

Domestic Violence Survivors Speak Out in New Haven


Domestic violence survivors spoke out to raise awareness at New Haven City Hall on Tuesday, sharing their stories and struggles.

“Dishes would be thrown at me if food wasn't properly made,” said Cheryl Dargento, who says she stayed in an abusive relationship for 11 years and was not allowed to receive phone calls or have people over until she gathered enough courage to leave with her son.

“I did leave, and I was broken. I didn't know where to turn, and I made it over to Clifford Beers,” said Dargento, referencing a city housing clinic serving children and families in need.

Dargento says she, like many other domestic violence victims, has had a long road to recovery.

“You lose a piece of yourself, a whole piece, and to have to put those pieces of the puzzle back together, is not overnight, and it takes a while,” she said.

New Haven Mayor Toni Harp says state laws have been enacted to stop domestic violence, and many communities like New Haven have added shelters, centers and other social services to assist victims.

“We think of the crime when folks are actually murdered in our streets, but more families are impacted by domestic violence than are folks who are killed in our streets, and often those who are killed are killed because of domestic violence,” said Harp.

But advocates say even more needs to be done.

“Everyone deserves to feel safe, to feel security and to feel encouraged and supported,” said Dr. Martha Okafor, Community Services Administrator for New Haven.

10-Year-Old Missing From New Haven Found Safe


UPDATE: Adonis Johnson has been found safe and the Silver Alert has been canceled.

Police have issued a Silver Alert for a 10-year-old boy who ran away from his home in New Haven on Tuesday.

Adonis Johnson is considered an endangered runaway. He was last seen wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt with a white T-shirt underneath and navy blue sweatpants. Police said he was carrying a black packpack with neon green stitching.

Police said Adonis has black skin, black hair and brown eyes. He stands 4 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 60 pounds.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is urged to call New Haven police at 203-946-6316.

Photo Credit: New Haven Police Department

Treasurer Nappier Withdraws From Candidate Forum


Democratic state Treasurer Denise Nappier abruptly cancelled a scheduled appearance at a candidate forum Tuesday night citing "personal reasons," according to a campaign spokesperson.

The event at the Hartford Public Library had been scheduled for several weeks.

Her challenger, Republican Tim Herbst, says Nappier has been avoiding the press for months and even if she has personal business to attend to, she has to be open with Connecticut residents.

“I find it incredibly troubling that a sole fiduciary who’s in control of $26 billion in assets and has been in office for 16 years doesn’t think she has to answer for her record and continues to ignore the public and the media at every turn," Herbst said during an interview Tuesday.

Nappier has held her current position since 1998.

NBC Connecticut has made numerous requests to sit down with Denise Nappier for interviews over the past month and she is scheduled to appear on NBC Connecticut's "Decision 2014" this Sunday at 10 a.m.

Nappier's campaign has confirmed that despite her cancellation Tuesday night, she will appear on Decision 2014.

Dead Bear Cub in NYC Hit by Car


A black bear cub found dead in Central Park Monday appears to have been hit and killed by a vehicle, officials say.

The 6-month-old female cub died of blunt force trauma consistent with a motor vehicle collision, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which conducted the necropsy in an Albany lab. 

The DEC says it's continuing to investigate. Potential environmental law violations include illegal possession, transport and disposal of an untagged bear, officials said.

A dog walker found the dead bruin in the brush near West 69th Street and West Drive shortly before 10 a.m. and notified a Central Park Conservancy worker, who called police.

"Whenever any wildlife is hurt or harmed we are upset about it," said Elizabeth Kaledin, a spokeswoman for Central Park Conservancy. 

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York
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