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Unanswered "Mayday" Call a Focus of Fatal Fire Probe


Investigators probing the line-of-duty death of a Hartford firefighter on Oct. 7 are taking a close look at the “mayday” call that went unanswered and the fact that fallen firefighter Kevin Bell was low on air before he went down, sources told the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters.

Recordings of the radio transmissions reveal that firefighters with Engine 16 worked for nearly 10 minutes to access the second floor of the burning building at 598 Blue Hills Avenue, where the fire broke out.

Sources within the city of Hartford told the Troubleshooters that both Bell and Lt. John Moree received alerts indicating their air supplies were low, despite the fact the air bottles they carried are meant to last an average of 30 minutes and they were sheltered from smoke and flames while trying to get inside the second-floor unit.

Within minutes of entering the second floor, Bell’s lieutenant stopped responding to the incident commander’s requests, the recordings reveal.

Then – a faint mayday call from Moree.

Seconds later, a radio transmission directed all firefighters to evacuate the building. Sources said the emergency bailout came after critically injured firefighter Jason Martinez jumped from a second-story window around the time of the mayday call.

“Command to all units. Command to all units. Bail out,” said the commander, who multiple sources with the city of Hartford have identified as Deputy Chief James McLaughlin. “All units come out of the building now!”

Hartford fire investigators are asking tough questions, including why Bell and Moree ran out of air so quickly and why Martinez was forced to leap from a window to escape, according to sources close to the investigation.

Sources said investigators are examining McLaughlin's decisions, including the call to send a fire hose in the rear of the building, where the flames were heaviest. It was McLaughlin's first time in charge of a fire scene since his recent promotion, multiple city sources told the Troubleshooters.

Fire experts not involved in the investigation said fighting a fire with opposing hand lines, from the front and the back, is unusual and potentially dangerous.

Hartford Fire Chief Carlos Huertas has not returned a request for comment.

Treasurer Candidates Trade Jabs in Only Debate of Election


Tempers flared at the only debate between the four-term Democratic state treasurer and her Republican challenger, who each accused the other of making false claims and lying to the public.

Incumbent Treasurer Denise Nappier squared off Wednesday night against GOP candidate and Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst at the NBC Connecticut studios Wednesday night.

"My job is all about the money, about maximizing investment return while minimizing risk. It's about reducing the cost of government," Nappier explained at the beginning of the debate, when asked why voters should care about this race. "Every dollar saved by the treasurer's office is a dollar the state does not have to collect from taxpayers."

Herbst brought up the question of retirement savings and said Standard & Poors has rated Connecticut as having the "second most underfunded pension fund in the country." He added that the state has also been ranked in the bottom 50th percentile of return on investments.

"Here in Connecticut, we have an obligation to honor the commitments we've made to our retirees while at the same time reducing the burden to the taxpayer," Herbst said. "We're clearly not performing where we should be."

Nappier defended her record and said her administration has "done that well," citing the more than $19 billion generated since she took office in 1999.

"We are now at an all-time high. The market value of our assets is $30 billion; that is the largest ever in history," she said. Nappier added that "the treasurer can only invest what she receives" and that Herbst has been blaming her for things beyond her control.

It wasn't long before the debate got personal.

"Tim likes to repeat untruths. But it doesn't make it true. The fact remains that he wants to blame me for things that I have nothing to do with whatsoever," Nappier explained. "To the extent that I have had those funds and could invest them, we’re doing extremely well."

Herbst challenged that statement, alleging that the pension fund was stable Nappier took office and has declined over the years during her administration.

"We're not getting it done and the proof is in the numbers," Herbst said. "This treasurer has not met her own benchmarks and when you're not meeting your own benchmarks, we have a problem. .. Independent economists, financial experts have said we are sitting on a ticking time bomb."

The incumbent said she has met those benchmarks and reiterated the claim that Herbst is blaming her for things that aren't her fault.

Nappier said her administration has saved taxpayers $944 million in city-issued bonds and that the pension fund for the 2014 fiscal year experienced a net increase of $3 billion.

"Our system of pension fund governance is sound," she said. "Those things that I do command, we are doing well, and the reason why he likes to steer the conversation to things that I have no control over is because he knows that we are performing extremely well."

When asked about government transparency, Nappier emphasized the importance of being honest with the public but said she would "absolutely not" sign a petition against a law that makes it harder for the public to access government information. Herbst has already signed that petition.

The candidates' heated exchange lasted beyond the 25 minutes allowed in the debate. The contenders continued their policy disagreements after the cameras stopped rolling.

The two had previously scheduled a debate, but Nappier canceled her appearance due to what her campaign said were personal reasons.

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Cigarette Thief Strikes at Vernon Mobil: Police


A man forced his way into a Vernon gas station early this morning and stole what police described as a “large amount of cigarettes.”

Vernon Police responded to a burglary alarm at the Vernon Mobil, located at 447 Hartford Turnpike, at 3:50 a.m. and said the man forced his way into the building.

Police believe this is not the first time he struck here. They believe he burglarized this same business on Tuesday as well.

The burglar was described as thin to average build and was wearing a distinctive black and white motorcycle helmet, eye glasses, a light colored coat, dark pants and dark sneakers with light laces. He also wore a dark glove on his right hand and a light glove on his left hand.

Police said a sport-style motorcycle with a driver matching the description of the burglar was seen traveling north on West Street in Vernon at the time of the burglary.

If you recognize the man, call Officer Michael Anthony at (860)872-9126, extension 253.

Photo Credit: Vernon Police

Texas School Bans Football T-Shirt


The Arlington Independent School District has banned a high school football team T-shirt with the slogan "Shhhhhhh just let it happen" after the school newspaper's editorial staff questioned whether the message were a rape innuendo.

Martin High School's bi-monthly newspaper The Warrior Post raised concerns about the shirt, designed by senior football team members and printed by the football booster club, in a staff editorial headlined "Out of Bounds" in its most recent edition.

"Can this saying be easily misunderstood? Yes. Though it certainly was not the goal of the shirt, its slogan connotes rape culture. This is not what we want to display as a slogan for our Varsity football program," the editorial read in part.

The shirt reads "Martin Football" in big gray letters above an image of a Native American man that represents the school's Warrior mascot. To the left of the man is a pirate flag, with a skull and crossbones, along with the words "We take what we want," and below the flag is the phrase "Shhhhhhh just let it happen."

The Warrior Post's editor-in-chief Jerred Osterman, 18, a Martin senior, told NBC 5 that the paper's staff was motivated to write its editorial after a female student approached a news staff member with concerns over the T-shirt.

Osterman said neither he nor his staff questions the motivation of the players or their message of team unity behind the shirt — only the wording of the message and how it might be perceived.

"It's inappropriate, and it's not something that you want to represent Martin with," Osterman said.

Both Martin coach Bob Wager and booster club president Kevin White told NBC 5 they never considered the message on the shirt to be potentially inappropriate, saying that if they had, they would have never allowed it to be made or worn. Wager said the shirt's pirate theme denotes the team's mentality of trying to force turnovers.

"Certainly the booster club and the coaches, nobody construed it in that manner," said Leslie Johnston, director of communications for Arlington ISD, who estimates that around 50 of the shirts were printed. "They just thought it was a football shirt. And when that was pointed out, that it could be taken in that way the students have, they are no longer wearing them.

"They would never want to condone any kind of behavior like that," Johnston added.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

Changes Coming to Coliseum Site in New Haven


Changes are coming to the former New Haven Coliseum site and officials announced $21.5 million in state funding for the second phase of the Downtown Crossing project.

The funds will go to infrastructure improvements necessary for the $395 million redevelopment, according to the governor's office.

“The Coliseum site redevelopment is a vital component of the Downtown Crossing project and is a once in a generation opportunity to rebuild 5.5 acres of prime land in the heart of New Haven,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said in a statement. “We have worked hard to establish Connecticut as a world-renowned life sciences hub.  New Haven has had that foresight to plan and provide support for this growing workforce.  As a result, the city has a prominent global presence in these expanding fields and is front and center in creating quality, high-paying jobs for its residents.”

Phase II of the Downtown Crossing project will remove a highway and replace it with urban boulevards. 

The state funding will rejoin South Orange Street across the current Route 34 toward Union Station and allow Union Station, the Medical District and the Hill neighborhood to connect with Downtown New Haven.

New Haven Mayor Toni Harp said the old Coliseum site off Orange Street will be made more walkable by shifting blocks from the corner of the downtown area into the middle of it.

The project is expected to bring in 35 to 40 new small to mid-sized year-round businesses and up to 25 seasonal incubator businesses. It will also bring a mix of housing, ranging from market rate, low, moderate, workforce and affordable housing, according to the governor's office. 

This will be a major change along the 34 corridor, but business owners said they welcome the new development.

"It's going to create a density back into the area that's going to be fabulous for all the business people here," Robert Greenberg, of ACME Furniture, said.

The announcement will be made at 11:30 a.m.

Photo Credit: Gov. Dannel Malloy's Office

Car Fire Caused Backups on I-84


There were heavy backups on Interstate 84 East in Plainville and Southington after a car fire this morning, but the scene has cleared.

The car caught fire near exit 34 in Plainville and traffic was backed up to exit 30 in Southington.

The driver is OK, according to state police.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation

Apple CEO Tim Cook: "I'm Proud to Be Gay"


Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke out publicly about his sexuality in an op-ed for Bloomberg Businessweek, saying, "I'm proud to be gay" and that he hoped to inspire others.

"While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now," Cook said in the article, entitled "Tim Cook Speaks Up" published on Thursday. "So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me."

Cook, who was named CEO in August 2011, has never publicly acknowledged his sexual orientation, but he said many of his colleagues at Apple already knew. He said the choice to come out wasn’t easy as privacy is important to him, but he hopes his public declaration helps others.

“I don’t consider myself an activist, but I realize how much I’ve benefited from the sacrifice of others,” Cook wrote. “So if hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy.”

Although Cook had never acknowledged he is a gay man, he spoke out against discrimination against the LGBT community in the past.

In June, he tweeted his support for the White House’s decision prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, calling it “a matter of basic human dignity." And in February, he applauded a coach of his hometown college football team for saying he would welcome a gay player on the team.

Photo Credit: Getty

Fire Damages House in Windsor


A family is safe, but will likely not be able to stay in their home tonight after fire broke out at 62 Seymour St. in Windsor this morning.

Three children were home when fire started out in their two-story home, according to Assistant Fire Chief Steve Bianchi, and one of them said the mother's sheets were on fire.

The fire is now out, but it caused heavy damage to a second-floor bedroom.

The fire department will remain at the scene to check for hotspots and the fire marshal will be investigating the cause of the blaze.

The two-story, three-bedroom 1,600 square-foot home was built in 1930, according to assessor's records.

Casey Coughlin noticed the flames and took this photo this morning.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Hartford Student Brought Airsoft Pistol to School


Police are investigating after a seventh grader showed up at Thomas J. McDonough Elementary School in Hartford with an Airsoft pellet pistol in his backpack this morning, police said.

Administrators learned Thursday morning that a seventh grade boy might have had a gun, so they called school security and Hartford police. Officers opened his bag and found the pellet pistol, police said.

The student was referred to juvenile court and suspended. Police said the student did not make any overt threats.

It's not clear what the student was plan on doing with the pistol.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Arrested After Firing Gun in Middletown: Police


Middletown police have arrested a convicted felon who is accused of firing a gunshot during a domestic incident on Wednesday.

Police responded to 17 Wall Street just before 9:30 p.m. after someone called to report hearing a gunshot. As officers looked into the report, a neighbor said Curtis Thigpen, 23, was beating on a family member soon after the shot was heard, police said.

As police continued to investigate, they determined there were outstanding arrest warrants for Thigpen as well as the victim, who has not been publicly identified.

Police believed both people involved were in the home, so they searched and found Thigpen hiding with a gun, police said. He had no permits for the weapon and tests revealed that he’d shot it, police said.

Thigpen has prior convictions, including for first-degree burglary and second-degree assault with a weapon, and there are also arrests warrant for probation violation, police said.

Thigpen denied firing the gun and was uncooperative, police said. When asked about the weapon, he said he “didn’t remember” where he got it, according to the arrest warrant application.

He was charged with carrying a pistol without a permit, unlawful discharge of a weapon, carrying a dangerous weapon, interfering with an officer, breach of peach, criminal possession of a pistol or revolver and reckless endangerment.

Thigpen was held on $500,000 bond and is due in court today.

The victim was nowhere to be found and a family member said there person was OK, but would not provide police with a location, according to police.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Bear at SoCal Pet Grooming Shop


A bear visited a Lancaster business district early Thursday in an early morning search for food in trash bins at a pet grooming store before using storm drains to head back toward the wilderness.

The black bear was reported near 15th Street West and West Avenue K in the northern Los Angeles County community in the Antelope Valley. A security guard patrolling the area responded to a report of someone knocking on the business' back door.

"I heard the noise so I know something's out there, but I don't want to meet it face to face," said Lupe Telles, who works in the area.

The security guard arrived to find the bear, which appeared to have a scratch by its eye, going through trash. Deputies arrived before the bear ran down a street and into a storm drain channel.

At about 5:45, the NBC4's crew in Lancaster caught the bear on video as it climbed an embankment above the channel.

Witnesses told NBC4 they think the bear has probably made previous visits. The bear has been seen searching for food at a homeless encampment.

One lifelong Lancaster resident said bears do not usually come "this far down" from nearby mountains.

California's black bear population is at about 25,000 to 30,000, with most living in mountain areas above 3,000 feet, according to what the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife calls conservative estimates. In 1982, the statewide bear population was estimated at between 10,000 and 15,000.

Less than 10 percent of the state's black bear population lives in the central western and southwestern California region, according to agency estimates. About half of the population resides in an area north and west of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Increased bear sightings -- and other wildlife -- might be partially attributed in recent years to the state's ongoing drought as animals are forced to search for food in areas outside their usual habitat, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. California has just finished its third-consecutive dry year with no end in sight to the dry spell.

Photo Credit: RMG

Route 6 Reopens in Farmington After Crew Hits Gas Main


Route 6 was closed between New Britain Avenue and Hyde Road in Farmington after a construction crew hit a gas main by mistake, according to police, but it has reopened.

There were no evacuations and no injuries are reported.

City's Site Hacked After Dog Shot


The FBI is investigating a cyber attack on the city of Cleburne, Texas, that shut down the city’s website and appears to be motivated by a police officer’s controversial shooting of a dog, the mayor said Wednesday.

"We're under attack as we speak,” said Cleburne Mayor Scott Cain. "We consider an attack on the city an attack on the residents, and we're not going to put up with it."

Video showing a police officer shooting a dog has been viewed more than 200,000 times on YouTube. The officer was dispatched to a report of three vicious pit bulls and shot one of them.

The officer is on paid leave while an investigation is underway.

Hackers are using a “denial of service” attack to overwhelm the city’s servers, slowing emails and all but shutting down the city’s website, which residents use for everything from paying utility bills to reporting potholes.

"Our IT guys are working on it around the clock,” Cain said.

Cain promised a transparent investigation into the dog shooting.

"When the review is completed we are going to let the chips fall where they may,” he said.

Regardless of what happens with that, he said whoever is behind the hacking is picking on the wrong city.

"If somebody thinks that they are going to send a message to an officer or the city of Cleburne, don't mess with Cleburne, Texas,” he said. “We will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law. And we're not going to put up with it."

Katherine Chaumont, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Dallas office, confirmed the bureau is assisting Cleburne with the cyber-crime investigation.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

A Homecoming Fit for a King


Out in Cleveland they’re talking 70 wins and a championship for the Cavaliers.

Quick reminder I: Only one NBA team has ever won 70 games in a season, and the 1996-97 Chicago Bulls had a guy named Michael Jordan leading the way to a record 72 wins.

Quick reminder II: The Cavs are 0-for-44 in their all-time quest for an NBA championship.

But it’s easy to see why expectations are through the Quickens Loan Arena roof, just off the shores of Lake Erie: On Thursday night, LeBron James will put on a Cleveland uniform in a regular-season game for the first time since 2009-10. 

“This is my first home game,’’ he says in a new Sprite commercial, trumpeting his return to his hometown team.

The ad shows him getting a hero’s welcome as he walks into Akron’s Patterson Park, where he played as a youth. It’s as if he never left Cleveland back in July, 2010, to take “my talents to South Beach.’’ That night he became Public Enemy No. 1, with his once-adoring fans burning his wine-and gold No. 23 jersey and the Cavs’ owner, Dan Gilbert, emasculating the franchise’s all-time greatest player in a venomous email seen ‘round the world.

Now he’s back and the NBA has never seen a homecoming like this one.

The Cavs open the season Thursday at the New York Knicks at 8 p.m. He returns with a new baby in tow, having welcomed daughter Zhuri Nova with his wife last week. James also has two sons.

“They all hated him for leaving, but now it’s a great story because he’s the hero again,’’ NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal said on Monday. “Villain one day, hero the next. Now all is forgiven. That just shows you how fickle fans can be.’’

O’Neal, who played two seasons in Cleveland with James, had an idea that James would be headed back home. It’s not just that LeBron always had it in the back of his mind to return to where he first became a legend, playing for St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. Shaq also saw some basketball logic in James’ decision to leave Miami Heat as a free agent, even after leading the Heat to two titles, in 2012 and 2013, and helping the Heat become only the third franchise in league history to go to four straight Finals.

“When a guy goes to four straight Finals, like LeBron did, you figure everything is good and he’ll be staying,’’ O’Neal said. “But what nobody is talking about is what happened to the Heat.’’

In last June’s Finals the Heat’s vaunted “Big Three’’ was reduced to James trying to go one-on-five and getting obliterated in five games by the San Antonio Spurs. With one-time Finals MVP Dwyane Wade looking calcified, and their top big man Chris Bosh largely ineffective, James found himself trying to outduel the Spurs by himself.

Turns out, he had every reason to head back to Northeast Ohio. But first, he had to hear a very big “I’m sorry’’ from Gilbert, the long-time meddling owner. The two met in secret in Florida before he decided to make the move. Gilbert apologized and James proved to be one forgiving soul.

“You hash it out and move on,’’ the four-time MVP said.

James signed a two-year deal for $42.1 million, with an option to rework his contract next summer. What he went back to was a far cry from what the Cavs have now, as they prepare to take the court for their season-opener against the New York Knicks.

“I didn't envision our team being like this right off the bat," James said during pre-season. “I felt like me coming, we could hopefully add some pieces. Obviously it happened quicker than I thought."

The Cavs have the makings of a championship contender. Kyrie Irving, who was once intent on returning home to the New York area to play for his beloved Knicks, opted to stay when the Cavs gave him the $90 million maximum salary, just before James announced his return. Then the Cavs used their third No. 1 overall pick in the draft in the last four years, Kansas prodigy Andrew Wiggins, and traded him to Minnesota for the Timberwolves' disgruntled All-Star power forward, Kevin Love.

Irving and Love have zero playoff appearances between them and have never had to perform under such lofty expectations, which is probably the reason James refuses to call his new set-up “the Big Three.’’ But they’re bound to benefit from playing with James, who will be seeking his sixth trip to the Finals since 2007 and his third ring. With the King back on his throne, the Cavs had an easy time adding the necessary fill-in pieces for a strong supporting cast. Players with championship pedigree like Shawn Marion, Mike Miller and James Jones ran to play with James. They might be shaky defensively, lacking a big man to protect the rim, but the Cavs should be an offensive juggernaut.

“I don’t see anybody in the East giving them problems,’’ O’Neal said. “Chicago needs to find another scorer to help Derrick Rose. He can’t do it by himself and he’s undersized. The only concern I have about Cleveland is their coach.’’

A veteran of coaching in Russia and Israel, David Blatt, a former Princeton player under legendary coach Pete Carril, has never coached a second in the NBA, not even as an assistant. But he now has the best player on the planet, who still doesn’t turn 30 until December, meaning this is a learning curve that should be relatively easy to negotiate.

Of course, there hasn’t been a champion in Cleveland since the Browns in 1964.

“For LeBron, winning one championship in Cleveland will be the equivalent of winning five titles in Miami,’’ said O’Neal’s TNT teammate, Charles Barkley. “Even if he doesn’t win it this season, you just have to love the fact that LeBron went back home. That’s what I was rooting for and what a lot of people were rooting for.’’

Nowhere more than out in LeBron’s old stomping grounds. He might not win 70 games this season, but no one will be surprised if sometime in June he’s out in front, leading a championship parade.

Longtime New York columnist Mitch Lawrence continues to write about pro basketball, as he’s done for the last 21 years. His columns for NBCNewYork.com on the Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and the NBA, along with other major sports, will appear twice weekly. Follow him on Twitter @Mitch _ Lawrence.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

81-Year-Old Woman Struck, Killed in New Haven


Police are investigating after an 81-year-old woman was struck and killed on Olive Street near the intersection of Greene Street in New Haven on Thursday.

Authorities said the elderly woman was crossing the street when she was hit. The offending driver stayed at the scene, and police are working to determine who is at fault.

No charges have been filed.

Police have not publicly identified the victim. Neighbors said she had lived in a nearby apartment for decades.

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

LifeStar Responds After Fall at Construction Site


LifeStar is responding to Dog Lane in Mansfield after someone fell from staging at the site of new

Officials from Tolland County Dispatch said the person fell 25 feet and the Mansfield Fire Department is responding.

No information is available on injuries.

Check back for updates.

Firefighters Rescue 1 of 3 Cats From Milford Fire


Firefighters in Milford managed to rescue one of three cats trapped in a burning condo Thursday morning, according to the fire department.

Authorities said a homeowner living at 52 Greenview Lane suffered smoke inhalation and was taken to Bridgeport Hospital for treatment. No one else was hurt, but two cats are missing.

Flames were heaviest in the laundry and furnace room, according to the fire department. Firefighters were called to the scene around 10:20 a.m. and quickly extinguished the blaze.

Firefighters said the affected condo suffered serious fire and heat damage. A common stairwell was also damaged.

Crews used ventilation fans to clear smoke and carbon monoxide from adjoining units.

The Milford Fire Marshal's office is investigating the cause.

Photo Credit: Monica Garske

10 Years in Prison for Man Who Planted Bombs in Ex's Car


A 53-year-old Florida man will spend 10 years in prison after stalking an ex-girlfriend who lives in Stamford and planting bombs filled with hydrochloric acid in her car, severely burning her, prosecutors say.

"I don't know what possessed me to do what I did," Frank Mendoza wrote in a letter to the court just before he was sentenced Thursday, apologizing and saying he had intended only to "scare" his victim.

Mendoza was sentenced to 10 years followed by three years of supervised release, after he pleaded guilty to one count of interstate stalking in June. His plea deal had stipulated a sentence ranging from seven to 10 years.

Mendoza, formerly of Jacksonville, Florida, was arrested in Jacksonville on Aug. 17, 2012, almost two years after he is accused of having planted the bombs that left his ex-girlferiend with severe burns.

Prosecutors said Mendoza began dating the victim in 2008 and “became emotionally and psychologically abusive” toward her. The victim told authorities Mendoza had a lengthy criminal background and claimed to be part of a gang, and that she also noticed him carrying a gun.

The victim tried to break off the relationship and told Mendoza she was moving to Rhode Island for work-related training in September 2010, prosecutors said. In reality, she moved to Stamford.

A month later, Mendoza discovered her real address and began making harassing phone calls to the victim and her friends and colleagues, according to prosecutors. He allegedly traveled to Connecticut in November and showed up at her home and workplace, then returned home to Florida.

Mendoza returned on Dec. 8, 2010, when he flew into New York City and rented a car to drive to Connecticut, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. He drove to the victim’s home in Stamford and planted two bottle bombs in her car containing hydrochloric acid and aluminum foil wicks, according to prosecutors.

The victim went out to her car around 11 p.m. and noticed the interior was wet. She opened the driver’s side door and noticed a bottle on the floor, which began to “smoke and fizz” when she picked it up, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors said the victim put it down, and the bottle exploded behind her as she ran away. Investigators learned that the first bottle had blown up before she arrived at her car. As a result, the victim “nearly suffered a horrible, disfiguring injury at [Mendoza’s] hands,” prosecutors said.

Photo Credit: YouTube

Suspect Arrested in Road Rage Death


Police have arrested the man they say gunned down an Oakland mother of four in a road rage shooting as she and her husband returned from grocery shopping Sunday.

Carlos Stephen Dubose, 20, of Oakland, was arrested Wednesday in Elk Grove on a murder charge, Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent said at a Thursday news conference.

"Perla's life mattered," Whent said. "All life matters in Oakland."

Not many details were released on why police suspect Dubose of being linked to the shooting death of Perla Avina, 30. She was shot on 98th Avenue as she and husband Mando Lopez had just bought breakfast ingredients near their home about 12:30 p.m. She died of her wounds shortly afterward.

Lead investigator Leo Sanchez said he was limited in what he wanted to release about the "road rage" death, which is "still unfolding." Dubose was arrested in connection with a murder, but as of Thursday morning, he was not formally charged.

Sanchez said there are no other known suspects and would not comment on how many other people may or may not have been in Dubose's car at the time.

Police did confiscate a silver four-door Volvo and a firearm from Dubose. He added there was some type of "confrontation" involving Dubose, though he wasn't specific. Police credited "a significant amount" of surveillance video and community tips for the arrest.

Since Sunday, police had been looking for who fired bullets into Lopez's 1998 Toyota Camry in what police spokeswoman Johnna Watson said was likely related to some type of road rage.

Earlier this week, Lopez, whose full name is Luis Armando, told sister station Telemundo that he remembers 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."

Avina and Lopez have four children, ages 1 to 14. She was a medical receptionist and, according to neighbor Dwyane Jackson, who performed CPR on Avina before she died, "the heart of the family."

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Hedge Fund Controller Accused of Embezzling Millions


A former controller of a Greenwich hedge fund has been arrested on federal charges, accused of embezzling millions of dollars.

Lawrence J. Herzing, 45, of Greenwich, was arrested on Thursday.

Federal authorities said he used his position at Greenwich-based Contrarian Capital Management, L.L.C to wire funds from the hedge fund to accounts that he controlled, federal authorities said.

He is accused of wiring money on 32 occasions between 2004 and 2013, with a total amount of $2.4 million.

Herzing was charged with wire fraud, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge William I. Garfinkel in Bridgeport today and was released on a $5.6 million bond.

Of the bond amount, $2.6 million will be secured by Herzing’s Greenwich home, according to federal authorities.

Information on an attorney for Herzing was not immediately available.

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