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Newington Schools Step Up Security After Threats


Officials have increased security at Newington schools for Halloween after the district received threats from extremists groups following a decision to cancel costume parades at two elementary schools.

The Newington Board of Education convened a special meeting on Wednesday night, the night after receiving threats from "national extremist groups" after deciding to cancel Halloween parades at Ruth Chaffee and Anna Reynolds elementary schools, according to superintendent Dr. William Collins.

Collins wrote a letter to families clarifying that Halloween celebrations at school were never canceled altogether and that costumes will be permitted at after-school activities, but not during school hours.

Board members in favor of no costumes and no parades cited the time it takes away from learning.

“It’s not just about a half hour parade,” said Beth McDonald. “It’s about the anticipation and distraction leading up to it.”

Those opposed argued in favor of tradition and lobbied to let kids just be kids.

The decision to ban costumes during the school day has sparked controversy around the country.

Collins said he has received threatening calls from as far away as Washington state, prompting the request to beef up police security on Friday.

Collins said extra patrols will keep an eye on the town's four elementary schools.

"The threats I received are in no way meant to harm any of our children," Collins said.

The board apologized on Wednesday for its timing and the way the ban was communicated to parents. Board members promised improved communication going forward.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

I-95 South Congested from Bridgeport to Stratford


Only the center lane of Interstate 95 South in Bridgeport is getting by after a multi-vehicle crash at exit 27A.

Traffic is already backed up to Stratford.

State police said troopers just arrived at the scene and it’s not clear how long the highway will remain closed.

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: Connecticut DOT Traffic Cameras

Car Hits School Bus at School in Ellington


A school bus was rear ended while pulling up on Maple Street  this morning and the school nurses is evaluating the students as a precaution.

The superintendent said the students and the driver of the car were not injured.

Police said an ambulance was called.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Tries to Attack Officer With Ax


In a brazen attack, a man wielding an ax tried to hurt a D.C. police officer early Friday morning, striking his vehicle and getting into a struggle with the officer.

The officer wasn't struck by the ax, but he was injured in the altercation that followed as he tried to tackle the assailant.

The suspect got away, said D.C. police.

It happened shortly before 3:20 a.m. Friday, as an officer with the city's Fifth District was patrolling in a marked squad car in the 3800 block of 13th Street NE. The officer noticed what police called a suspicious person, who avoided the officer by entering an alley. The officer followed in his car, where he was ambushed by the man with the ax, police said.

The ax shattered the car's window, and the officer got out of his car and chased the man.

In a brief struggle that followed, the officer suffered a dislocated shoulder and injured knee. He was not injured by the ax.

The officer was taken to a local hospital and is expected to recover.

Police K-9 units tracked a suspect to the 1000 block of Perry Street NE, near Michigan Avenue, but have not found him.

Neighbors who usually describe the area as pretty quiet are horrified.

"Yeah, I did hear a yell. I heard a scream," said nearby resident Christopher Niosi. "I have a seven-car garage back year. I'm wondering if they tried to get in."

Niosi's backyard stretches to the alley where the officer got out of the cruiser and struggled with the suspect.

"Sadly, it's a comment on society today, you know?" Niosi said. "You're in the city, you know? Sad to hear it."

A motive in the attack remains unknown, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said. She said in a release that authorities have been urging members of the police force to remain vigilant at all times.

"While we do not have any information at this point on the motivation surrounding today's attack, this situation underscores the need to always maintain a very high level of situational awareness while we are working," Lanier said in a release. "Recent incidents targeting uniformed law enforcement officers in Quebec, New York City, and now to one our own here in Washington, D.C. are reminders that we must always be ready for any eventuality."

Officers were going door- to-door in the area, searching for the suspect. The assailant will face felony assault charges once apprehended.

The incident comes just days after two NYPD officers were injured in an attack by a man with a hatchet in Queens, reported NBCNewYork.com.

A $10,000 reward is being given for information that leads to an arrest in the D.C. incident.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of a law enforcement source
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Police Ask for Help to ID Man in Credit Card Fraud


Watertown police are trying to identify a man who they said used stolen credit card information at several stores in Waterbury and Southington.

He has short brown hair, appears to be 25 to 30 years old and was driving a small silver four-door sedan, possibly a Chevrolet.

Police said he was wearing jeans and a gray sweatshirt with Adidas written vertically on the side, police said.

If you have information on who the man is, call the Watertown Police Department at 860-945-5200 or Crimestoppers at 860-945-9940.

Police said they are asking for information only and urge people not to make contact with the man.

Photo Credit: Watertown Police

Police Investigate Milford Bank Robbery


Milford Police are investigating a bank robbery at the Webster located at 314 Merwin Avenue in Milford and searching for the man responsible.

Police said a man robbed the bank at 2:17 p.m. on Wednesday and fled after demanding money.

The robber was 5-feet-10 and had a medium build.

He was wearing a navy blue hooded sweatshirt with a white draw string, light cargo-style pants, black sneakers, yellow latex gloves and a dark open-faced knit mask. He was carrying a yellow plastic bag.

Investigators are comparing similarities to a bank robbery at the same bank on Oct. 16.

Anyone with information about the robbery should call Milford Police Detective Chris Cacchillo at (203) 783-4729 or submit a tip online. http://www.ci.milford.ct.us/police-department/webforms/crime-tips

Photo Credit: Milford Police

Jets-Chiefs: It's Not a (Complete) Waste of Time


Yes, there actually are a few reasons to watch Sunday’s Jets-Chiefs game. Well… it could get you out of weekend chores, if you can somehow convince the other members of your household that it’s a meaningful game (Good luck with that one!). Plus, there are many, many worse things to do that sit in your recliner watching football -- any football -- while stuffing your face with leftover Halloween candy.

Then again, there’s also the chance to see if Michael Vick actually has anything left in the tank as a starting QB, or if he’s become as bad as his play this year has indicated, as well as an opportunity to check out the Chiefs, who two potential candidates for Jets GM John Idzik’s job have helped build into a decent team.

Idzik’s imminent departure may not be a done deal -- unlike Rex Ryan’s -- but it’s pretty hard to believe that owner Woody Johnson will bring him back for another season after the disastrous campaign that’s occurred on Idzik’s watch. Scott Pioli, who was general manager of the Chiefs for four seasons before being canned amid Andy Reid’s 2013 arrival, is thought to be a contender for the Jets GM job, as is Chris Ballard, who’s currently Kansas City’s director of player personnel after having spent a decade as a Chicago Bears scout.

Pioli is now assistant GM with the Falcons, who may face a front office shakeup of their own after wining just six of their last 24 games. His Atlanta bio boasts of his having drafted such Pro Bowl talents as Eric Berry, Justin Houston, Dontari Poe and Dexter McCluster while at the Chiefs’ helm. That is an impressive run, and to those who would question how hard it is to select good players with really high draft picks (Berry and Poe were both chosen among the top dozen picks in their respective drafts), I’d say -- and I’m sorry to sound like a broken record -- Vernon Gholston and Dewayne Robertson. And, for those yearning for the good old days, let’s throw in Lam Jones and Blair Thomas for good measure.

My biggest issue with Pioli is that he had two chances to choose head coaches with the Chiefs, and his picks -- Todd Haley and Romeo Crennel -- made uninspired look inspiring. Considering anyone who’s ever watched Haley on the sideline inevitably wants to strangle him after 30 seconds, I can only imagine what his players felt. As for Crennel, I’ll simply say that his career record is significantly worse than Rich Kotite’s. My biggest issue with Ballard is that the definitive accomplishments he can list on a resume pale in comparison with that of my 10-year-old son.

Whoever is chosen to run the Jets will likely be choosing a QB with a very high draft pick in 2015. And whichever QB is selected will probably either sit behind (at least for a short while) or be shadowed by a veteran signal caller. Might that be Vick, who’ll be a very spry 35 next season? Stranger things have happened, especially for Gang Green.

Photo Credit: AP

"Grim Reaper" Stabs Woman: Deputies


A woman was stabbed multiple times early Halloween morning by someone dressed as the Grim Reaper, San Diego County officials said.

It was just before 2 a.m. Friday in a home on Thibido Road in Vista when deputies say the person dressed in costume attacked the woman while she was in the bathroom.

The attacker ran out of the home.

Deputies found the woman alive and searched the area with deputies and police dogs but did not find the assailant.

The victim was rushed to Palomar Hospital with what’s described as non-life threatening wounds.

She told deputies she could not identify her attacker's face but did hear the person's voice and described it as female.

It's not known how the suspect gained entry into the woman's home, officials said.

Check back for more on this developing story.

Turning Clocks Back Doesn’t Mean Extended Liquor Sales


We turn the clocks back an hour come 2 a.m. on Sunday, be don’t expect to spend an extra hour at the bar.

They will not be able to continue serving alcohol until 2 a.m. comes around again, according to the state Department of Consumer Protection.    

Patrons and owners of cafes, bars and restaurants that sell liquor are not allowed a “do-over” of that last hour, state officials said in a news release.

“Although we turn the clock back to 1:00 a.m., the law does not allow liquor sales to restart or continue,” Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein said in a statement. “On Sunday, once 2:00 a.m. is reached -- the first time -- all liquor sales and consumption must stop.”

Farmington School Officials Say They Addressed Food Complaints


Farmington school officials say they have addressed student complaints about school lunches and are making some changes to cafeteria procedures. 

Chartwells has run the school's cafeteria services for about three years, according to administrators and students expressed concerns about the food quality, portion size and price, along with a policy that included throwing out food.

Bill Silva, principal of Farmington High School, said in a statement on Friday that he met with students on Tuesday and held another meeting on Thursday with five students, representatives of Chartwells and members of the high school administration. 

They agreed to make some changes, revised the charge procedure in the cafeteria and will be sending the information to all families. The school will also be establishing a Cafeteria Advisory Committee, which will include students, to ensure an ongoing dialogue; and arranging for any complaints about the cafeteria to be immediately communicated to the Director of Dining Services.

Local produce will continue to be delivered twice a week and fresh bread deliveries will continue to be made daily, school officials said. The Farmington Valley Health District will continue regular inspections of the FHS cafeteria.

School officials said Chartwells "will maintain its current standard of 100% of the FHS cafeteria workers trained and certified in food handling" and a Chartwells on-staff dietitian will continue weekly visits to the Farmington Public Schools.

The policy also calls for Chartwells' regional chef to visit Farmington High School in early November and every month thereafter for special demonstrations, training and in-service.

Earlier this week, student Sarah White said she found one Chartwells policy humiliating and it was the last straw in students' frustration.

“I was told I didn't have enough money left in my account to charge it and they threw it out in front of me," White said.

Silva said in a statement on Friday that students who had unpaid lunch balances brought food to purchase at the register. 

"They were offered a complimentary alternative meal.  Unfortunately, the food that was brought to the register had been handled and in some cases partially eaten, thus per health code, the food was discarded," Silva said.  

Farmington Superintendent Kathleen Greider said in a statement that district officials "deeply respect our students' opinions and honor the dignity of every student that attends the Farmington Schools."

"The Farmington school district works closely with Chartwells to provide healthy, nutritious and appealing meals to students that meet national dietary guidelines," Greider said. "These guidelines changed the year that Chartwells joined the Farmington school district. Even with these changes, we are currently experiencing very favorable participation levels in our lunch program, especially at the high school level. Students are provided a significant number of food options at the high school level and Chartwells strives to continuously enhance these options. In fact, Chartwells sends out periodic surveys to determine strengths, needs and to determine ways to deliver food options that are locally grown, fresh and nutritious."

Greider said that administrators at the district values feedback from students and that the Farmington district "serves as a leader in ensuring student voice is a centerpiece of our continuous improvement efforts across all schools."

"Again, we deeply respect our students’ opinions and honor the dignity of every student in our schools," Greider told NBC Connecticut. "In turn, FHS administration and Chartwells are working closely with the group of students that expressed concern and we are investigating the issue highlighted in your broadcast on the procedure followed by Chartwells at FHS when unpaid lunch balances exceeded the district’s established level."

The Farmington Valley Health District issued a statement, saying they had not received any complaints about food safety or reports of food-borne illness.

"As required by the CT Public Health Code, the food service operations located in the Farmington Public Schools are inspected by the Farmington Valley Health District. Unannounced inspections are conducted three times a school year.  The most recent inspection was conducted on September 11, 2014.  Routine inspections include assessment of wholesome and unadulterated food products, proper heating and cooling as well as food handling. The facility at the high school has consistently received satisfactory inspection results. The Farmington Valley Health District has not received any complaints regarding food safety nor has it received any confirmed reports of food-borne illness," the statement said.

Chartwells released a statement saying the company is dedicated to the health and wellness of the students of Farmington.

"We have a good relationship with students and have remained open to discussions, including regular surveys and a forum today with the concerned students. Since the start of our partnership, we have worked with the district to bring a team of registered dietitians, culinary professionals and skilled operators to deliver a great food program while adhering to USDA requirements. We continue to enhance our options, including the recent introduction of a grab-n-go salad bar, yogurt and granola bar, hand-pressed turkey burgers and a once-weekly brunch, all the while expanding the use of fresh ingredients. As an example, we have sourced over $85,000 of produce from local farms. We are committed to an open and productive dialogue, and will continue to work with the Farmington school community to ensure the best quality meal program," the statement says.

1 Treated for Smoke Inhalation After Stratford Condo Fire


One person was treated for smoke inhalation after fire broke out at a condo complex in Stratford on Friday.

Fire officials said a resident called 911 around 9 a.m. to report smoke coming from a unit in the Oronoque Condo Complex at 144 Balbone Lane.

The residents made it out safely and none of the 24 responding firefighters was hurt, but the fire department said one person was taken to Bridgeport Hospital for an evaluation after suffering smoke inhalation.

Firefighters said the whole building sustained heavy smoke and heat damage but the fire was contained to the room in Unit A where it broke out.

The neighboring resident was allowed to return home but Unit A is uninhabitable, according to the fire department.

Firefighters have not released the cause of the fire but said it is not considered suspicious.

Photo Credit: Monica Garske

Drivers Scoop up Armored Truck Cash


An armored truck lost an unknown amount of money on a Maryland interstate Friday morning -- and numerous drivers quickly scooped up the money, police said.

Maryland State Police are now "reminding" the drivers to that they are "welcome to turn in the money at the local barrack."

The incident happened shortly before 8 a.m. in the northbound lanes of I-270 near Route 80.

According to a preliminary investigation, a door lock on the armored truck malfunctioned, causing a side door to open. A bag of cash fell into the left lane of I-270, scattering cash into the air and across the highway, police said.

The truck driver pulled over to the shoulder and saw multiple vehicles had also stopped, with drivers picking up the cash. When a fire department official arrived at the scene, the drivers quickly left.

Maryland State Police, assisted by a K-9 team, recovered just over $200 from the scene.

Authorities have issued a warning to the drivers who grabbed the cash, telling them they can turn in the money at Maryland State Police's Frederick barrack. Those who don't return the cash could face theft charges if police learn their identities, authorities said.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Police Stop Traffic for Bear on Berlin Turnpike


A black bear is back in the wild after a stroll through Newington today.

A bear was spotted this morning in the area of Robbins and Maple Hill Avenues before making its way up to the area of Sequin and Walnut streets, snacking from bird feeders along the way, according to police.

The animal, which had tags in both ears, made its way across to the area of Theodore Street, Homecrest Street and Partridge Drive before disappearing into the woods, police said.

Later in the afternoon, the bear re-emerged and was seen near the Berlin Turnpike, across from the state Department of Transportation, so police responded to get the bear out of the busy dangerous area.

Officers stopped traffic and the bear eventually crossed the Berlin Turnpike and went into the woods on the east side of town.

Police watched as the animal wandered the area of Barn Hill Lane, Lamplighter Lane and Candlewick Drive before wandering into the unpopulated wooded area bordering Rocky Hill.

No additional sightings were reported.

Four black bears have been reported in Newington in the last year.


Photo Credit: AP
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15-Year-Old Brings BB Gun to Hamden High School


A 15-year-old freshman at Hamden High School is facing charges after bring a BB gun to school Friday morning, according to police.

Police said the school resource officer was notified around 10:30 a.m. Friday and found the teen in possession of a Colt Defender CO2-powered BB gun in his backpack.

School security took the student out of class and turned him over to police.

The teen was arrested and charged with carrying a dangerous weapon and breach of peace.

He was released to his mother and will face a judge at juvenile court in New Haven, according to police.

It comes two days after another teen was caught with two BB guns at Eli Whitney Techical School in Hamden and a week after a bomb threat at Hamden High.

Photo Credit: Hamden Police Department

Teens Arrested, Accused of Totaling Watertown Cruiser


Watertown police have arrested four teens accused of ramming a police cruiser with a stolen car and running off around 11:30 p.m. on Oct. 20.

Officers were responding to reports of car break-ins on Georgetown Drive in Watertown when two people ran off and four others got into a BMW that had been stolen from Waterbury, police said.

The teens sped off on Bunker Hill Road, went through a red light and slammed the BMW into a police cruiser in the area of 535 Straits Turnpike, knocking off the back tire, according to Watertown police Lt. Tim Gavallas.

Sgt. David Ciarleglio, an 11-year veteran of the department, was hit, hospitalized for a brief time and was out of work for a few days, authorities said.

Police were able to obtain forensic evidence from the car, submitted it to the state lab and identified a 17-year-old boy. Waterbury police were able to identify another suspect and Watertown police were able to identified two other. 

All four teens are in juvenile detention and police said another person might have been in the car.

A 14-year-old, a 15-year-old and a 17-year-old were charged with larceny in the first degree and interfering with a police officer.

Another 17-year-old was charged with larceny first degree, interfering with an police officer, assault on a police officer, criminal trover, risk of injury to a minor and reckless endangerment in the first degree.

"It's miraculous, once you see the damage to the cruiser, that our sergeant made it out alive," Deputy Chief Robert Desena, of the Watertown Police Department, said."Fortunately our sergeant made it through; unfortunately, we didn't find out who is responsible."

Police are continuing to investigate.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Student's Small Deed Makes Big Difference


A senior at Kingswood Oxford High School is in the habit of making other people's day through a project she calls "Petal Power," taking discarded flowers from the grocery store and putting them to good use.

“It’s fantastic, there’s nothing like seeing someone who hasn’t smiled all day, smile for the first time. Just because you gave them flowers,” said senior Sydney Legagneur.

Whole Foods said it only keeps the freshest flowers on the floor. Flowers only last a few days, so instead of composting them, the grocery store calls Legagneur and donates them to Petal Power.

Legagneur brings the flowers to "My Sister's Place," a shelter for women and children in Hartford, and as soon as she walks into the room, the mood changes. People start to smile.

Jessilyn Cabassa, a mother who said she’s fallen on hard times, explained that Legagneur's small gesture is a big deal to her.

“I’ve had a really rough morning, so having these, really brightened up my day,” Cabassa said. “Just getting flowers, making their day was the best part of my day so whatever I can do to help.”

Legagneur has also started a club at school, which has grown to more than 40 members.

“I think its inspiring to all students,” said Kingswood Oxford’s college admission adviser, Zaira Santiago.

And even after Legagneur graduates, Petal Power will live on. Legagneur said she aims to create her own nonprofit organization.

“Taking flowers nobody was going to use and turn it into something great was just the best part of it,” Legagneur said.

Man Slashes Acquaintance During Argument: Cops


A 49-year-old man is facing charges after slashing an acquaintance during an argument in a Naugatuck parking lot early Friday morning.

Police said Richard Ancefsky was involved in an argument that turned physical outside Stop and Shop at 1277 Rubber Avenue around 1:20 a.m. Friday.

He slashed the other person across the face with a folding knife, according to police.

Ancefsky was arrested and charged with first-degree assault, reckless endangerment and breach of peace. He spent the night in police custody and appeared in court this morning.

Police have not released any information on the victim's injuries.

Photo Credit: Naugatuck Police Department

Hash Oil Lab Behind Building Blast?


A powerful blast and two-alarm blaze that tore through a Walnut Creek apartment building Friday morning, critically burning two people and causing its roof to collapse, resulted from a marijuana and
hash oil drug extraction manufacturing process, police said.

"It was an incredible explosion, one I've never seen before," said Bob Grossman, who lives a block away from the six-unit building at 1564 Sunnyvale Avenue. "It shook our windows, and knocked over our windows."

The blast was reported just after 10 a.m. and sent two male burn victims to the hospital with critical burns, Contra Costa County Fire Protection Service Capt. Kent Kirby said.

Initially, Kirby said one person might be unaccounted, but he said later a search turned up nothing.

Officials said during the initial investigation after the blaze they found burned and exploded butane canisters, which clued them to a possible hash oil lab.

"We have strong evidence that what resulted in the fire, the injuries and the explosion was a butane hash oil extraction process," fire investigator Vic Massenkoff said. The volatile process uses butane as a solvent to "take out THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, into a very concentrated form."

“The serious danger is that, as they’re using this butane, raw butane vapors are spewing out into the room they’re in,” Massenkoff said. “Butane vapors are like gasoline vapors. They’re heavier than air; they sink to the ground and look for an ignition source. Something as simple as a spark of static electricity can ignite butane vapors.”

Less than 45 minutes after the powerful blast, the two-alarm fire was out, but Kirby said the two-story building was unstable and could collapse. Glass was shattered along the sidewalk for blocks.

Grossman told NBC Bay Area he helped rescue an older woman from a pile of debris.

"I saw the two burn victims and elderly woman yelling to get out of the lower apartment," Grossman said.

He and two others said they lifted away shattered wood and windows to get to her door with the fire right above her head before fire crews arrived.

"We were able to get her out of there," he said.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Jodi Hernandez

Malloy Designates Another $22M to School Security


Gov. Dan Malloy has announced an additional $22 million in state funding to improve school safety.

Money will be divvied up among 380 public schools and 65 private and religious schools as part of the School Security Grant Program

Reimbursement for security improvements

State has now designated a total of $43 million for school security improvements

“With this latest expansion, we’re also including state-run schools that were not previously funded as well as private and religious schools,” Malloy said in a statement Friday. “We want our schools – both private and public – to make their institutions as safe as possible.”

The program was created in 2013 in response to the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and was expanded this year to include all public and private schools.

Gov. Dan Malloy has announced an additional $22 million in state funding to improve school safety around the state, bringing the total amount to $43 million since the program was launched in 2013.

The money will be divvied up among 380 public schools and 65 private and religious schools to reimburse them for security improvements as part of the School Security Grant Program, according to Malloy’s office.

“With this latest expansion, we’re also including state-run schools that were not previously funded as well as private and religious schools,” the governor said in a statement Friday. “We want our schools – both private and public – to make their institutions as safe as possible.”

Tighter school security regulations took effect July 1.

3 Brothers Charged in Bridgeport Murder


Bridgeport police have arrested three brothers in connection with a fatal stabbing earlier this month.

Jesus “BeBe” Ortiz, 23, Jhonathan “Scarfice Ortiz-LaPorte, 25, and Jose Ortiz, 26, were charged Friday morning in the stabbing death of 51-year-old Ivan Rodriguez Mendez on Oct. 18.

The brothers are accused of fatally stabbing Rodriguez outside the multi-family home they share on Seeley Street in Bridgeport, according to police.

Rodriguez Mendez was pronounced dead at the scene in Bridgeport’s 10th homicide of 2014. An autopsy revealed he died of blood loss from a stab wound to the leg, according to police.

Witnesses told police Rodriguez Mendez was involved in a fight with the suspects during which several shots were fired. Police said the brothers showed up at the home looking for Mendez and found him outside the house.

Police said detectives Jose Ortiz’s cellphone at the scene, which helped police identify the brothers as suspects.

The Ortiz brothers were each charged with murder, conspiracy and other related offenses.

Photo Credit: Bridgeport Police Department
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