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Route 3 Reopens After Gas Line Break


Route 3 (Newfield Street) has reopened in Middletown after construction crews hit a gas line, police said.

Crews were replacing a gas line and struck the old line. The supply was shut off.

Police briefly closed Route 3 at the Stoneycrest Drive intersection, but traffic was being allowed through as of 10:35 a.m.

No one was evacuated from the area.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Boston Bombing Suspect's Friend Found Guilty of Lying


The jury has found Robel Phillipos, a friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, guilty on both counts of lying to investigators. 

Phillipos has also been found guilty of impeding a terrorist investigation by making false statements. 

The jury deliberated for 34.5 hours before reaching a decision. 

With this verdict, Phillipos faces a maximum of 16 years in prison. Sentencing has been set for Jan. 29. 

Phillipos was charged with lying about being in Tsarnaev's dorm room at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth when two other friends removed a backpack and other potential evidence several days after the April 2013 attack.

Phillipos attended high school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with Tsarnaev and later attended college with him.

A defense lawyer had argued that Phillipos, now 21, was a frightened 19-year-old who couldn't remember certain details because he had smoked marijuana for at least 12 hours straight.

Prosecutors say Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, planted two pressure-cooker bombs near the Boston Marathon finish line on April 15, 2013.

Three people were killed and more than 260 others were injured. An MIT officer was later killed as he sat in his car. Police say he was also a victim of the Tsarnaev brothers.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev died following a shootout with police several days after the bombings.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges and is scheduled to go on trial in January. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

Photo Credit: NECN

CL&P Responds to Accusations of Manipulating Evidence to Secure Rate Hikes


Connecticut Light and Power is expected to file a response Tuesday to accusations that it manipulated evidence in order to win a rate increase.

The state's consumer counsel Elin Katz claims that the power company gave dishonest testimony to utility regulators over its controversial $221 million increase.

Katz filed a motion asking regulators not to allow CL&P to recoup costs for the case and to strike the testimony because of the findings of her office.

CL&P maintains that the claims are false.

Photo Credit: Flickr user: spanginator

CCSU Basketball Star Suspended After Hitting Girlfriend: Cops


Central Connecticut State University basketball star Kyle Vinales has been suspended indefinitely from the team after he was arrested for allegedly hitting his girlfriend.

A university spokesperson said Vinales, a senior, is "not currently participating in any men's basketball activities" and has been suspended from the team indefinitely.

According to the incident report, Vinales was in the car with his girlfriend on Oct. 23 driving home from dinner at Plan B when an argument turned physical.

His girlfriend, also a CCSU student, told police that Vinales "punched her on the forehead" and "squeezed hard, causing her pain." Police said Vinales admitted to shoving her head against the driver's side window, then getting out on Ella Grasso Boulevard to walk back to campus.

Vinales' girlfriend called police to her apartment on East Street around 11:30 that night. Officers found Vinales walking south on East Street near the intersection of Biltmore Avenue and confronted him about the incident, police said.

He told police his girlfriend was complaining about losing her job, so he asked her, "Why are you blaming everyone else?" Vinales said his girlfriend then snatched his phone because she was annoyed when he started playing music, and that he kept the music on when she gave it back to him, according to the report.

Vinales said his girlfriend then pulled the car over on Ella Grasso Boulevard and hit him in the chest and the left side of his face, telling him, "You are so disrespectful," the incident report says.

Officers, however, said they did not see any marks on Vinales' body, and his girlfriend denied hitting him, according to police. 

Vinales was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and third-degree assault. His girlfriend was not charged.

According to his bio on the CCSU basketball roster, Vinales played at the Phelps School and Farmington Hills High School in Michigan before heading to college.

In the 2012-2013 season, Vinales "became the quickest player in CCSU history to reach 1,000 career points," his bio says. He led the conference in scoring and finished seventh in the country.

Vinales was released on a promise to appear and is due back in court Dec. 5.

Photo Credit: CCSU/New Britain Police Department

Report Details Causes of 5 Metro-North Crashes


The National Transportation Safety Board released reports Tuesday detailing the causes of five major Metro-North crashes over the past 18 months, including a derailment in Bridgeport and a collision that killed a worker in West Haven.

Investigators with the NTSB determined that a "broken pair of compromise joint bars" on the track likely caused the May 17, 2013 derailment in an area undergoing maintenance near the Bridgeport-Fairfield town line.

It happened moments after an engineer saw "an unusual condition on the track," according to a preliminary safety board report from last year.

At least 65 people were injured in the crash involving about 250 passengers, according to the report.

The safety board advised increased inspections of the tracks in response to the derailment.

Just over a week later, a 52-year-old foreman was killed when a Metro-North train hit him on a section of track in West Haven that was supposed to be out of service.

A student being trained on railroad controls misunderstood information about which tracks were clear and routed a train onto the track the foreman was on, according to the report.

As a result of the West Haven fatality, the safety board recommended that Metro-North implement signaling procedures known as "shunting" to better alert trains where to stop on tracks and protect workers, according to the report.

Metro-North also designated a manager to approve all "blocking device application and removals" to make it clearer which tracks should be out of service.

Workers in the field can now use software to adjust signaling identifying which tracks should be out of service for their safety by entering a code specific to them. Training practices were also improved, now forbidding students from routing or blocking trains from tracks, according to the report. Students are now evaluated on a daily basis.

Another crash detailed in the report is the derailment of a New York train that resulted in the death of Metro-North electrician James Romansoff in Harlem, according to a news release from U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who joined U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, Rep. Jim Himes and Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch for a press conference Tuesday afternoon at the Bridgeport Metro-North station. 

The full report is available here.

Man Gets Head Stuck in Sewage Drain: Police


Police were called to Bartholemew Road in Middletown on Tuesday afternoon after receiving the report that a man had gotten his head stuck in a sewage drain.

Authorities arrived at the scene just after 2 p.m. and have not released any additional information about the incident or the person involved.

Check back for updates.

WATCH: Woman Catcalled 108 Times


A woman walking on the streets of Manhattan for a full day stands to get catcalled more than 100 times, according to a nonprofit group trying to end street harassment. 

The group, Hollaback!, said volunteer Shoshana Roberts was catcalled by men 108 times over the course of a day as she walked around Manhattan earlier this year.

A video of the day, captured on a hidden camera embedded in a videographer's bookbag, shows dozens of men asking for her phone number, telling her to smile and calling her beautiful. Hollaback! said that the 108 cases of harassment don't include dozens of whistles and winks.

“I’m harassed when I smile and I’m harassed when I don’t,” Roberts said. “Not a day goes by when I don’t experience this.”

Two of the men in the feature are particularly aggressive. One says, “Hello, good morning,” and then proceeds to walk beside Roberts for five minutes. Another walks beside her for several blocks, asking Roberts if she thinks he is ugly and berating her for not talking to him.

Rob Bliss, the man who walked in front of Roberts throughout the day with a camera hidden in his book bag, said he volunteered to shoot the video because he doesn’t think men see the cumulative effects of catcalling.

“They see it as just an innocent compliment but are missing the forest for the trees,” he said. “I intentionally left out any messaging and just laid bare what it's like, so that everyone could objectively see the reality of this problem.”

According to Hollaback!, between 70 and 99 percent of women are catcalled or harassed while walking down the street at some point in their lives.  

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Slain Mom's Child: "Where's Mommy?"


Mando Lopez can't sleep or eat.

And when his 5-year-old daughter padded out into the hallway on Monday — asking, "Daddy, Daddy, where's Mommy?" — the Oakland father of four and recent widower couldn't answer her. The only thing he could do was break down into tears.

That's because his wife, Perla Avina was shot Sunday afternoon — church day, as neighbors noted —as the couple was returning from the grocery store near their home. They had gone out about 12:30 p.m. to get ingredients for breakfast as their children, ages 1 to 14, stayed at home with Grandma.

Investigators have not yet figured out who fired bullets into Lopez's 1998 Toyota Camry as they traveled south on 98th Avenue in a rough section of the city near their home on Rossmoor Avenue, Oakland police spokeswoman Johnna Watson said. But she did say it was likely related to some type of road rage.

Lopez, whose full name is Luis Armando, told sister station Telemundo that everything happened so fast that he isn't sure what happened.

What he does remember is that a car tried to veer in front of him on the way back from the market, and "I guess I didn't let him go."

The seemingly random act of cruelty now has Lopez wondering how he'll continue. He said Avina, a medical receptionist originally from Los Angeles, was his life. She cooked, she cleaned, she took care of the kids, she was his partner in life, he said.

His children aren't doing all that well, either.

His 1-year-old daughter cried all night. His 10-year-old daughter couldn't sleep at home; she went to Avina's mother's house to sleep. His 14-year-old son has barely spoken.

The family has already suffered a loss. In 2005, Lopez said Avina's brother was stabbed to death in their neighborhood.

The children and Lopez live with his parents. As his mother, Erlinda Aviña, lay on the couch with her husband at her side, she tried the best she could to express her grief and her vow to help her son.

“I will take care of them,” Aviña said of her grandchildren. “She was a good mother that worked for her kids.”

For now, the family is hoping that a $30,000 reward offered by police and Crime Stoppers will help lead to information to find the shooter. It's all they can think about.

A tangible symbol of the tragedy looms over them all. The car Lopez was driving when his wife was shot is parked outside his home, where candles adorned with images of Jesus line the sidewalk. The windshield is pierced by a bullet hole, the front passenger seat stained with blood.

Lopez could barely bring himself to pull the car into the driveway. But eventually he did, late Monday, to bring it closer to home.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.

SF Tour Guide Sorry for Racist Rant


One week after spewing racist insults about San Francisco's Chinatown and its people, a former tour guide is offering an apology and an explanation.

Declining to give her name or show her face, she explained to news media that she was not drunk. "I intended to do it as a satirical comedic portion of the tour," she said.

A video recording of the woman’s rant quickly went viral after it was posted to YouTube last week, garnering nearly a million views as of Tuesday morning.

“[Expletive] your pre-schools … making all that noise at 6 a.m. … [Expletive] your salons ... [expletive] your seafood markets, with your little turtles and frogs inside — OK? Here in America, we don’t eat turtles and frogs,” the guide told tour-goers during her 2 1/2-minute-long rant on her last day working for the tour company, City Sightseeing San Francisco.

The now-ex-tour guide is calling the diatribe an act, saying that it was supposed to be a satirical comedic portion of the tour. The woman would not give her name, but she said she called San Francisco Supervisor David Chiu, admitting that she went way too far.

Chiu said that the woman told him she would call back Tuesday to discuss how she can start making amends to the Chinatown community and all of San Francisco.

Get More at NBC News.

[Warning: Some viewers may find the language used in the video disturbing.]

Photo Credit: CW O via YouTube
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Driver Offered Gifts to Child Waiting for Mom in Fairfield


Police are investigating after a strange man approached a child waiting outside a Rite Aid pharmacy in Fairfield and "made inappropriate comments" while the child's mother shopped at the pharmacy.

According to police, the chlid was standing in the parking lot of Rite Aid at 1619 Post Road on Oct. 24 when a man drove up and offered the child a gift.

Police said the child refused and backed away from the man's car, described as an older model brown or tan minivan. The van then drove off through the rear driveway of the parking lot.

The suspect is described as a dark-skinned heavy set man with a thick Spanish accident and dark slicked-back hair. Police said he was wearing dark clothing.

Anyone with information is urged to call Fairfield police detectives at 203-254-4840.

Photo Credit: Fairfield Police Department

Police Seek East Hartford Bank Robber


Police are searching for the man who robbed a First Niagara Bank in East Hartford on Tuesday afternoon.

According to police, the suspect entered the bank at 950 Silver Lane around 1 p.m. and handed the teller a note demanding money.

He left with an unknown amount of cash and was last seen running westbound on Silver Lane, police said.

Police said the suspect is between 25 and 35 years old and stands 5 feet 9 inches tall. He has a stocky build, a short beard and short hair.

The suspect was wearing a light gray hooded sweatshirt, sweatpants, black sunglasses and dark sneakers, according to police.

Anyone with information is urged to call East Hartford police Det. Jason Smola at 860-291-7541 or contact dispatchers at 860-528-4401.

Photo Credit: East Hartford Police Department

Vest-a-Dog Cover Pup


Meet Tuco!

Just nine weeks old at the time this photo was taken in July, this German Shepherd is a prospective K-9 officer with Boston police.

Massachusetts Vest-a-Dog provides equipment such as bulletproof vests to protect the dogs that keep us safe.

Boston police have received 26 K-9 vests from the organization since 2000 and are seeking donations to help keep the program alive.

Anyone who would like to help Massachusetts Vest-a-Dog protect animals like Tuco can buy calendars to support the organization. Find out more here.

Click here to learn more about the organization's events.

Photo Credit: Massachusetts Vest-a-Dog
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Shelton Student Hospitalized With Enterovirus


A student at a Shelton elementary school has been hospitalized with Enterovirus-D68.

School officials alerted parents and community members with a post on the Shelton Public Schools Web site on Tuesday.

According to the school system, the affected student, who attends Sunnyside Elementary School on River Road, is under observation at a local hospital.

School classrooms have been sanitized and officials are monitoring students in the event of any other possible outbreaks, according to the site.

The school shared links from the Centers for Disease Control about Enterovirus-D68 and prevention and treatment of the virus.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Truck Carrying Butter Crashes on Merritt Parkway


A tractor-trailer hauling butter hit a bridge on the Greenwich-New York state line, shutting down the Merritt Parkway/Route 15 in the northbound direction for hours on Tuesday.

The truck was traveling northbound on the Hutchinson River Parkway into Connecticut on the Merritt Parkway when it struck the King Street overpass near exit 27 on the Greenwich-New York line and then caught on fire, according to state police.

There were no hazardous materials in the truck, which was only carrying butter, according to Greenwich police.

The Merritt Parkway was closed until about 7 p.m., according to police. Traffic on King Street was also backed up from Westchester County into Connecticut following the crash.

No one was hurt in the crash, police said.

Photo Credit: Greenwich Police Department

Student Brings BB Gun to Eli Whitney Tech in Hamden


State police responded to the Eli Whitney Technical School early Tuesday afternoon after a student brought a BB gun to school, according to a spokesperson for the department.

Police arrived at the school around 12:30 p.m. to investigate. Authorities took the student into custody but have not released any information on the charges he or she faces.

State police said someone else at school reported the gun and that the student did not make any threats.

Although other teens said rumors were circulating that the student in question had two BB guns and a knife, police and school officials have not verified those reports.

A spokesperson for the state Department of Education could not comment on specifics but said all students are safe.

Firefighter Resigns After Refusing Breath Test: Sources


The Hartford firefighter suspended in the spring after a drunken encounter at a local business has resigned after refusing to take a breathalyzer test at the fire station on Sunday, according to sources within the Hartford Fire Department.

Doug Caldwell had been assigned to work at Engine 16, the station where fallen firefighter Kevin Bell was employed, instead of his usual assignment at Engine 2.

Fire department sources said other firefighters suspected Caldwell of drinking on the job and called Employee Assistance Program officers to conduct a breath test. In order to keep his job, Caldwell was required to submit to random drug and alcohol testing but routinely called in sick during the week in an apparent effort to skirt testing.

After learning that officers had been called, Caldwell claimed he had a family emergency and needed to leave immediately. The firefighter in charge called the district chief to let him know, while a deputy chief on the job prevented Caldwell from driving off.

Chief Carlos Huertas arrived at the station and told Caldwell he would have to take a drug test, but the firefighter once again refused, walking off and shouting an expletive at the chief, sources told the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters.

That night, Huertas told members of every Hartford firehouse that Caldwell would no longer be allowed on the premises, according to sources within the fire department.

Caldwell formally resigned on Tuesday after 16 years with the department. Hartford fire Capt. Helene Lynch announced Caldwell's resignation in a press release issued Tuesday afternoon.

"The Hartford Fire Department wishes Mr. Caldwell success in his future endeavors," Lynch wrote.

Caldwell was placed on paid administrative leave in April for allegedly breaking a supermarket counter during a drunken outburst, then threatening the store owner and screaming profanities at him, the owner said.

The Hartford Fire Department also launched an internal investigation into Caldwell’s conduct following the incident.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Critically Injured Firefighter On the Road to Recovery


A Hartford firefighter who was critically hurt in the blaze that killed his colleague is making "great progress" in his recovery, according to the firefighters union.

Union President Vincent Fusco said in a letter to Hartford firefighters on Tuesday that 29-year-old Jason Martinez is "up and able to move around" and is working hard to get better.

"He is very determined to make a complete recovery and is focused on his therapies," Fusco wrote.

Martinez suffered burns over 10 percent of his body in a deadly two-alarm fire on Blue Hills Avenue earlier this month. He remained in critical condition at the Bridgeport Hospital Burn Unit in the days following the fire.

Fellow firefighter Kevin Bell died in the blaze, and Colin McWeeny and Kevin Burke received treatment for minor injuries. Both McWeeny and Burke were treated and released from Saint Francis Hospital.

"We continue showing our support for Firefighter Jason Martinez and his Family [sic] as he works toward recovering from his injuries in the Bridgeport Burn Center," Fusco wrote. "They are and will continue to be in our thoughts and prayers."

You can send well wishes to Martinez and his family by navigating to the "CheerGram" page on the Bridgeport Hospital Web site.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com/Hartford Fire Department

Teacher Resigns Amid Reports of Relationship With Graduate


A math teacher at West Haven High School has been placed on paid administrative leave until his resignation takes effect Dec. 31 in light of reports that he has been dating a recent high school graduate.

Michael Golinski was placed on paid leave in September. School officials have not released any details of the situation but reports have circulated that Golinksi began dating a recent graduate.

West Haven police said detectives investigated the complaint but found that the relationship began after the student graduated, that the student was at least 18 years old and the relationship was consensual, so Golinski did not break any laws.

West Haven school Supt. Neil Cavallaro declined to elaborate on the situation, citing a "personnel issue."

Golinski could not be reached for comment.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com/West Haven High School

SWAT Officer Shot Serving Warrant


A Pomona police SWAT officer was shot while serving a search warrant in San Gabriel Tuesday and remained hospitalized in "extremely critical condition," while the alleged shooter was unhurt and taken into custody.

The officer was identified as 45-year-old Shaun Diamond, Pomona Police Chief Paul J. Capraro said at a news conference Tuesday. He remained in the hospital Tuesday evening with family members by his side.

The shooting occurred just after 4 a.m. in the 100 block of San Marino Avenue, where several agencies were serving a warrant as part of a multiple-location motorcycle gang investigation, according to Pomona police. The officer was shot as he was "making entry" to the residence, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Diamond was shot in the back of the neck or head, above his vest, and taken to Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena in critical condition, police said. His family was by his side.

"The best indication right now is that he was possibly hit in the back of the head, although he was wearing a Kevlar helmet," said Eddie Hernandez of the Sheriff's Homicide Bureau.

He was described by colleagues as a "top-notch guy" who has served eight years with the Pomona Police Department.

"Right now, we just don't know how he's going to hold up," said Pomona Police Lt. Mike Keltner. "We're hoping for the best.

"He's just a wonderful human being. All of Pomona PD is pulling for him."

The shooting suspect was identified as David Martinez, 36, of San Gabriel, officials said. Martinez was the target of the warrant.

Other occupants were inside the home when the shooting happened, and Martinez's father may have been struck by gunfire  from Martinez's shotgun above his left elbow, Hernandez said. Pomona officers did not shoot back because the father was in the line of fire.

Martinez was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder on a peace officer and was being held in lieu of $4 million bail.

Martinez was previously arrested for assault with a deadly weapon and domestic violence.

The SWAT operation and investigation involved "outlaw motorcycle gangs," Keltner said. 

Neighbors said they were awakened by the violence early Tuesday.

"We heard all this commotion," said neighbor Marco Polanco. "We just all took cover, that's all we could do."

Photo Credit: Pomona Police Department

Happily Ever After for Marine and Daughter


U.S. Marine Robert Vardaro got the surprise of his life Tuesday when he received his very first house in the town of Brooklyn, and it comes with a special bonus – his daughter.

The recently returned Private First Class has been in a custody battle over his little girl since his return to the United States. Now he has full custody of his daughter.

“I fought and won full custody of my daughter,” said Vardaro. “I’m truly blessed that this happened, so [the home] is the second best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

Vardaro has been hoping to raise his daughter closer to his parents, who live in Massachusetts.

“It’s just so amazing,” said Anthony Vardaro, Robert’s father. “I can see the change it’s made in Robert.”

Robert Vardaro said he's thankful but remains mindful of other veterans in need.

“I’d never be able to afford a home, so this is amazing to me, but I know a lot of my friends are still suffering,” said Vardaro. “A lot of wounded warriors are still out there.”

Bank of America, which partnered with the Military Warriors Support Foundation to set Vardaro up at his new home, has donated more than 1,500 homes nationwide to military veteran-support charities and other non-profit organizations.

“When Robert Vardaro walked through that door, I had goose bumps all over knowing that he served our country, and now has an opportunity to have this house,” said Dean Andrews, of Bank of America.

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