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Barefoot Yale Student Chases Burglar Who Struck While He Slept


When a 21-year-old Yale University student woke up to find a strange man at his desk, unplugging his laptop, he did the only thing that came to mind: chased him.

It didn't matter that William Genova was barefoot. He followed the intruder through backyards and an alleyway, over two fences and finally into the parking lot of the Marriott Hotel on Dwight Street in New Haven, where he came face-to-face with the alleged intruder.

"I immediately jumped out of my bed saying, 'What are you doing here? You're robbing me,'" Genova said during an exclusive interview with NBC Connecticut. "I was just angry that someone was in my room trying to take my laptop that I have invested so much work in."

Genova found the strange man in his home when his alarm went off at 9 a.m. on Monday and demanded to know what was going on.

"The guy immediately became apologetic, saying, 'Sorry, oh, nothing's wrong,'" Genova said.

When Genova pressed him for details, the intruder, who police later identified as Eleam Djamal, 31, denied stealing anything and told Genova to leave his Elm Street apartment "or face violent consequences," according to police.

"I didn't want to get physically hurt, so I let him go and he starts darting out," Genova said.

So Genova followed him.

"If you pass that building over there, there's a driveway with a brick fence, so he jumped over that," Genova said, gesturing toward the area. "We wind up going down Whalley (Avenue) until he makes a left on Dwight (Street)."

The pursuit ended outside the Marriott, where Genova yelled for someone to call the police. Djamal stopped running and showed him a duffel bag. A laptop was inside – not Genova's, but one Djamal had previously stolen from another apartment in Genova's building, authorities said.

An off-duty New Haven officer, who was heading home from work and still in uniform, noticed the commotion and approached, according to police. Djamal took off again and struggled with the officer, who pepper sprayed him and took him into custody.

Police said Djamal, a convicted felon from Pennsylvania and a fugitive from justice, has a history of committing burglaries and robberies across the country. Djamal told investigators he moved to New Haven on Friday to sell magazine subscriptions for a company that then “abandoned him” in the city.

Djamal admitted to checking the apartment building for unlocked doors and burglarizing another unit on Saturday because he knew students lived there, stealing a laptop and $40 cash, police said.

He was arrested and charged with second-degree burglary, criminal attempt to commit fourth-degree larceny, sixth-degree larceny, threatening and assault on an officer.

"Now I could laugh at it because I'm perfectly fine. My feet hurt a little, but that's all good," Genova joked.

Yale University Police and New Haven police are investigating to determine whether Djamal could be connected to other crimes in the city.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Fashion Taunt Prompts Subway Brawl


Four people were arrested after cellphone video captured on a subway surfaced that shows a woman getting slapped after taunting a man about his coat, prompting an all-out brawl on the uptown F train over the weekend.

Another person, the one shooting the cellphone video or someone behind him, appears to tease one of the women taunting the man in the coat about her shoes, saying Steve Maddens are out of style. The woman gets in the face of the person videotaping the fracas, then her friend smacks him.

The woman then goes back to the man mocked earlier for his coat, calls him stupid and makes fun of his speech. He trades verbal insults and the woman hits him in the face with a high-heeled shoe; then the man in the coat slaps her -- hard. A full-blown brawl then erupts between the group of women, a man they were with and the coat-wearing man as the other riders in the car flee to opposite ends for safety.

"She got smacked, and that echoed through the entire subway," David Ratliff, the man who shot the cellphone video, told NBC 4 New York. "I heard it. Everybody on the train heard it. Everybody in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx heard it."

The video of the altercation around 5 a.m. Saturday on an F train bound for Washington Square was posted on YouTube. As of Monday afternoon, it had been viewed about 1 million times.

The four suspects, who range in age from 20 to 25 and include the man in the coat, were arrested at the West Fourth Street station after the fight. A woman who allegedly hit the man in the coat with the shoe was charged with felony assault.

The others were charged with misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct.

Ratliff, who lives in Chicago, was visiting New York City for the first time to celebrate his friend Sammy Lorenzo's birthday.

"This is crazy, insanity," Ratliff said. "It's mind-blowing. We were just out here for the weekend."

Senators Tackle Mental Health Care for Veterans


Connecting available mental health services with the veterans who need them can provide challenges, which providers and politicians tackled at a roundtable discussion Monday afternoon.

Held in the college’s Veterans’ Oasis at Tunxis Community College, where veterans can meet peer to peer, the forum brought U.S. senators together with people who focus on helping veterans deal with what Sen. Richard Blumenthal called “invisible wounds of war.”

“They want to be able to talk to other veterans,” said Sen. Chris Murphy. “The best therapy that a veteran can get is talking to another veteran so that’s the capacity that we need to build, more funding for these peer-to-peer groups, so that veterans don’t feel alone.”

They’re not joining the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars, the senators were told, but the veterans back from Iraq or Afghanistan need that contact with each other just the same.

Murphy said he hopes to introduce mental health reforms in the Senate next year.

School Visited Abused Boys' Home


EDITOR'S NOTE: The details of this case are graphic and may be upsetting for some readers.

While 3-year-old Scotty McMillan was allegedly being tortured to death inside his own home, his older brother — also a victim of abuse — did not show up for kindergarten.

Coatesville Area School District Superintendent Dr. Cathy Taschner said no one at the school was aware of abuse in the home but the school did go to the 6-year-old's home after he was absent for two full weeks.

"We are devastated by the horrors these boys endured,” Taschner said.

McMillan died last week from what investigators said was abuse at the hand of his mother, Jillian Tait and her boyfriend, Gary Fellenbaum, inside a West Caln Township trailer home that Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan called an “American horror.”

The abuse occurred over a two-week period dating back to October in the Hope Lane home located about 35 miles west of Philadelphia, according to investigators.

"We are confident our staff was not aware of the abuse, which has been reported to have primarily occurred over a two-week period during which the kindergartner was not in school,” said Taschner. “Whenever a child is absent, our staff tries to make contact with the parents to determine the reason for the absence, through phone calls, written communication, and eventually a home visit to the residence we have on record. All of those procedures were followed.”

That visit occurred before Scotty was found dead inside the home, district spokeswoman Beth Trapani told NBC10. No one answered the door and the school investigators left a letter for Tait. News then later broke about Scotty’s death.

"Employees of the district are trained to recognize signs of abuse,” said Taschner.

Police said that Fellenbaum met Tait at a local Wal-Mart where they worked together. Tait and her two sons — Scotty and the 6-year-old — moved in with Fellenbaum in mid-October and the abuse began shortly thereafter, said investigators.

Hogan said Fellenbaum used a makeshift whip, a curtain rod, an aluminum strip and the home's wall to beat Scotty and his brother while Tait admittedly sometimes watched and laughed.

NBC10 is not naming this surviving boy since authorities said he is a victim of child abuse.

On Thursday, Hogan announced first- and third-degree murder charges, homicide, endangering the welfare of a child, assault and reckless endangerment charges against both Fellenbaum and Tait. A judge denied bail to both.

Fellenbaum expressed remorse that "his physical assaults caused another's death," according to a criminal complaint obtained by NBC10.

Fellenbaum's estranged wife, Amber Fellenbaum, was charged with child endangerment and sent to county jail unable to post $500,000 bail. The 21-year-old told investigators that she first became aware of the alleged abuse about two weeks ago when she saw Fellenbaum spank Scotty after the boy didn’t respond to Fellenbaum. She also said she saw Fellenbaum and Tait beat the boy with a green frying pan on another occasion and saw Fellenbaum tape Scotty to a chair and severely pummel the boy’s face and stomach.

The county took the older brother and the Fellenbaums' 11-month-old daughter into protective custody.

Scotty’s death was part of a difficult week in the Chester County community.

“Our community is reeling from this tragedy as well as the murder of one of our parents last week at the Brandywine YMCA,” said Taschner.

Taschner asked for “the space we need to come to terms with these awful events so we can focus on helping our students to grieve and to heal.”

Photo Credit: Family Photo
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Silver Alert Issued for 10-Year-Old From New Haven


Police have issued a Silver Alert for 10-year-old Angel Galindo, who was reported missing from New Haven on Monday.

Galindo is described as a white or Hispanic boy standing 4 feet 10 inches tall. Police said he weighs 80 pounds and has black hair and brown eyes.

He was last seen wearing his school uniform: a blue polo shirt embroidered with the "Amistad Academy" logo and khaki pants, according to police.

Authorities have not released the details of his disappearance but said Angel is considered an endangered runaway.

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

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

Accused Doc Faced Similar Claims Decades Ago: DA


A San Diego doctor accused of taking hundreds of nude images of patients, including an 8-year-old girl, was investigated on similar allegations two decades ago, prosecutors revealed Monday. 

Jeffrey Abrams, 67, pleaded not guilty to 15 felony counts of sexual penetration of an unconscious victim, eight counts of sexual battery of an unconscious victim and one count of possession of child pornography.

The only act involving a minor was the child pornography, prosecutor Kerry Conway said. She said the count involves a young girl who went to the clinic suffering from bronchitis.

There were eight alleged victims who were seen by Dr. Abrams at the Volunteers in San Diego free clinic in El Cajon between June 1, 2010, and June 2014, prosecutors said.

Abrams was arrested Friday in connection with photos of women’s vaginas, breasts and buttocks that were allegedly found on his work phone. There was also a video of a patient touching herself in the exam room with Abrams, a search warrant alleges.

Conway told the court Abrams once faced similar allegations in the early 1990s, but there was no disciplinary action taken.

Abrams was ordered held on $1.5 million bail and ordered to surrender his passport.

Defense attorney Alex Landon argued for lower bail, saying the physician suffers several medical issues, has lived in the same home for 35 years and has been married for 45 years.

If convicted, Abrams could be sentenced to 40 years behind bars.

Abrams has had his license suspended by the State Medical Board.

Volunteers in Medicine issued a statement calling the allegations "very troubling" and said the allegations are not a reflection on the staff at the health care center, the only free medical clinic in the East County.

Sick Girl's Special Pizza Delivery


A 10-year-old girl battling congenital heart disease celebrated her birthday Saturday night by surprising firefighters in Canoga Park with a special pizza delivery as a token of her gratitude for their continued support.

Noah Michaelis sells lemonade in front of her house, just around the corner from Fire Station 72. The firefighters are regular customers.

"Thank you guys for everything that you've done for me and for our cause," she told them. "Thank you for coming to our lemonade stands. Thank you for supporting us."

All of the proceeds from Noah's lemonade stands go to Hopeful Hearts, an organization that helps families coping with similar health issues.

Reward Offered for Info in Hit-and-Run That Killed New Mom


Friends and family of a young mother who died in a hit-and-run crash over the weekend are offering a reward for information leading to the driver’s arrest.

Rachel Sack, 23, was struck near the intersection of South Street and Green Pasture Road in Danbury just before midnight on Saturday. Family members said she was leaving Michael’s Cafe and heading home to Bethel, where her 9-week-old son was waiting.

Sack, a nurse's assistant at Regional Hospice and Home Care in Danbury, was pronounced dead at Danbury Hospital.

"The loss of Rachel to this entire community is huge,” Robin Viklund, director of nursing at Regional Hospice and Home Care, said. “She was such an amazing soul and angel, truly an angel here on Earth.”

As Sack’s loved ones come to terms with their loss, police are still working to track down the driver who hit her. Family, friends and coworkers are collecting money for a reward and have set up a scholarship fund for baby Jackson.

"We hope her son grows up knowing she was very loved and supported and that we can try to raise money for an educational scholarship fund for him so he can go to college," said Cynthia Roy, president of Regional Hospice and Home Care.

A funeral has been set for Thursday, and Sack’s parents plan to dedicate the service to health care workers everywhere.

“[Rachel’s dad said,] ‘It was a nurse that first handed me my baby girl the day she was born and it was a nurse that arrived on scene the night she was killed,’” Sack’s godmother, Sarah Ewud, said. “She was the first on scene to try to save her life.”

Donations to the Rachel Sack Reward Fund and Jackson Scholarship Fund can be sent to:

Union Savings Bank
Attn: Main Office
226 Main Street
Danbury, CT 06810

Anyone with information about the crash is asked to call Sgt. Rory DeRocco from Danbury Police Department's Traffic Division at 203-797-2157.

Photo Credit: Danbury Police Department/NBCConnecticut.com

NYC Doc Free of Ebola: Sources


Dr. Craig Spencer, the physician being treated for Ebola at Bellevue Hospital, is now free of the virus and will be released from the hospital on Tuesday, city health officials said Monday.

Spencer's expected release comes a little more than a week after health officials upgraded his condition from "serious but stable" to "stable."

Mayor Bill de Blasio told a reporter following an event Monday that he was "thrilled" Spencer will be released and that he was "looking forward" to shaking Spencer's hand. 

"I have said many times he's a real hero," de Blasio said. "He's a guy who went toward danger, went to where the need was greatest in the whole world. He suffered a lot these past few weeks but he's come back really strong."

The doctor has been upbeat and positive during his treatment, de Blasio said, adding Spencer has a "great sense of humor."

He added that Spencer has told him repeatedly that "everyone at Bellevue was just extraordinary. They were willing to take some risks themselves to make sure he was well, and they did an amazing job." 

De Blasio and city officials will discuss Spencer's discharge during a press conference scheduled for 10:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Neighors at Spencer's Hamilton Heights apartment building said they were happy to hear he was being released.

"We're very glad to have them around here, people who sacrifice the self for the humanity," said Jose Baez. "This is a great pride for the community." 

Authorities said last week that Spencer was awake, communicating and undergoing plasma and antiviral therapies, treatments that have been used to treat Ebola patients at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta and at the Nebraska Medical Center.

He received a plasma transfusion from the second American Ebola patient, Nancy Writebol, on Oct. 25, according to SIM, the Christian organization that Writebol worked with before she was admitted to Emory University Hospital in August.

Spencer's fiancee, Morgan Dixon, was released from the hospital two weeks ago and returned to the couple's Hamilton Heights apartment. She had not developed any sign of the illness, and she was to remain under quarantine at home.

The number of people under "active monitoring" for Ebola symptoms tripled last week from 117 cases on Monday to 357 people on Wednesday, health officials said last week.

The vast majority of those being monitored arrived in New York City within the past 21 days from the three Ebola-affected countries

Others being monitored include the staff caring for Spencer, the physician being treated for Ebola at Bellevue Hospital, the lab workers who conducted his blood tests and the FDNY EMTs who transported the doctor.

All of those being monitored showed no symptoms but are being checked on out of "an abundance of caution," officials said. 

Spencer is currently the last person known to have had the disease in the U.S.

Family Mourns Hartford Domestic Violence Victim


Friends and family gathered in Hartford tonight to mourn the loss of a woman who police say died at the hands of her ex-boyfriend earlier this month.

Luz Nieves, 45, was stabbed to death in her Hanmer Street apartment on Nov. 1 and her ex-boyfriend, 40-year-old Alex Baez-Franqui, has been charged with murder. Police said Baez-Franqui smoked crack cocaine and drank alcohol before brutally attacking Nieves, who accused him of being unfaithful.

Family members are reeling. They lit candles Monday evening at 251 Saybrooke Street in Hartford and made no effort to hide their tears.

“I think people need to realize domestic violence is real,” said Nieves’ brother, Juan Ortega, Jr. “We know it’s real, we know there are the signs, but we need to realize that everybody has a role to play in this, and it’s neighbors, family members, coworkers.”

Nieves leaves behind a daughter and 3-year-old grandchild.

“For me to stand here, it feels like a dream. The amount of pain and suffering I’m going through right now, there are no words,” said her daughter, Ashley Trochez. “I never want anybody – any woman, any child, any grandchild – to feel the amount of pain I feel today.”

In an effort to make peace with the memories, family members opted to hold the vigil on Saybrooke Street rather than at the scene of the crime.

“What she went through in that apartment, how is it that no one heard anything, no one knocked on the door, no one called the police?” Ortega wondered. “I don’t understand that. She may have had a chance.”

Family members remembered Nieves as kind and funny. They implored domestic violence victims to speak up and said no one else should have to go through the trauma they’re enduring.

“Take action. Say something,” said Nieves’ mother, Juanita Ortega. “Don’t let those monsters get away with it. Please say something. Don’t go through that by yourself.”

Baez-Franqui was arraigned in court last week. He's being held on $2 million bond and is due back before a judge Nov. 21.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com/Family Photo

Police Nab Suspected Seafood Thief


West Haven Police have arrested a suspected seafood thief and said the man might also be wanted in several other towns.

Dino Francis, 52, of East Haven, was arrested on Nov. 4 and charged with third-degree burglary, third-degree criminal mischief and sixth-degree larceny.

Police identified him last week, released surveillance photos, and said he is suspected of stealing food and "expensive seafood" from Stowe's Seafood on Beach Street and Savin Rock Roasting Company on Captain Thomas Boulevard in West Haven.

Police said Francis, a painter, is accused of committing several burglaries in West Haven and added that he might also be wanted in similar incidents in surrounding towns.

Francis was arraigned yesterday and bond was set at $100,000.

Photo Credit: West Haven Police

Bristol to Redevelop Old Bristol Center Mall


Bristol is moving forward with plans to redevelop the old Bristol Center Mall site.

City council members approved a plan including apartments and commercial space along Main Street at a meeting Monday night.

The 17-acres site has been empty since the mall was torn down six years ago.

Photo Credit: NBCSanDiego

Highway Bridge Inspections to Cause Delays


Expect some lane closures and delays on some highways statewide Tuesday morning and afternoon due to bridge inspections.

The inspections are taking place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the following areas:

  • East Hartford: I-84, exit 58
  • Manchester: I-84, exit 63-64
  • Wethersfield: I-91 south, exit 28 to 26
  • Waterbury: Route 8 south, exits 34 to 30
  • Middletown: Rt. 9, exit 12 to 13

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation

Light Fixture Catches Fire at Home


A fire broke out at a three-family home early Tuesday morning, possibly displacing at least one family.

The blaze happened at about 1:20 a.m. at a 13 Webster Street home after a light fixture caught on fire on the third floor.

Firefighters contained the fire and put the flames out quickly and opened up the roof to let out heat.

The fire marshal is investigating the fire.

State Officials Launch Initiative to Help Veteran-Owned Businesses


State officials are launching a proactive initiative on Veterans Day to connect veteran-owned businesses with federal and state assistance.

The Secretary of State's Office plans on calling more than 120,000 registered businesses in the state starting Tuesday to find out which ones are owned by veterans to help make their businesses thrive.

New Britain's Winslow Automatics is one of many veteran-owned businesses that could benefit.

Officials will make the announcement Tuesday at 10 a.m. at the business.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Man Bit Ex-Wife: Police


Naugatuck police have arrested a man who is accused of biting his ex-wife and touching her inappropriately.

Police responded to a domestic violence complaint just before 4 a.m. on Saturday and met with the victim, police said.

Juan Rosado, 27, of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, is accused of inappropriately touching his ex-wife and biting her during an argument, police said.

Children were present during the fight, police said.

Rosado was charged with fourth-degree sexual assault, disorderly conduct and risk of injury to a child.

He was released on a $50,000 surety bond and is due back in court on Dec. 16, according to online court records.

Photo Credit: Naugatuck Police

Speeder Shot Stun Gun at Man and Dog: Cops


A North Haven man is accused of shooting a stun gun at a pedestrian out walking his dog who yelled at him to slow down, police said.

The man was out walking his dog on Millbrook Road Monday morning when a driver sped by, so the pedestrian called out to the driver, police said.

The driver, later identified as Anthony Buemi, 30, of North Haven, turned around, got into an argument with the pedestrian and proceeded to grab a stun gun and point it at the man, police said.

Buemi “sparked” the stun gun, according to police, then drove off.

Buemi was arrested and charged with carrying a dangerous weapon, criminal use of an electronic defense weapon and possessing a weapon in a motor vehicle.

Buemi was released after posting a $5,000 bond. It’s not clear if he has an attorney.

Man Punched Pregnant Girlfriend, Threatened to Kill Her: Cops


Police are searching for a man who they said pistol whipped his pregnant girlfriend, punched her in the stomach and threatened to kill her.

The assault happened on New Britain Avenue just after 2 a.m. on Sunday, but the victim was somehow able to get away and called police from the fire station at 7 Fairfield Avenue, police said.

The victim told police that her boyfriend accused her of seeing another man, hit her with a handgun, grabbed her by the throat and put the gun in her mouth, then choked her, police said.

The assailant also punched the woman in the stomach and face and told her he wanted to kill her and himself, police said.

The woman was able to get away, but it’s not clear how she got to the fire station.

Police are still looking for the assailant and said they applied for an arrest warrant.

The suspect’s name has not been released.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Scene Clear After Crash on Merritt Parkway in Fairfield


State police responded to a crash involving several cars on the southbound side of the Merritt Parkway in Fairfield, but the scene is now clear.

State police said four cars were involved in a crash between exits 46 and 44, just over the Trumbull line, police said.

No injuries are reported.

Traffic was backed up to exit 48 as of 6:39 a.m., but has since cleared.

Intruder Touched Victim During Drunken Burglary: Cops


Naugatuck police have arrested a local man who is accused of inappropriately touching a neighbor during a drunken burglary.

Police responded to a burglary report on School Street just before 5:30 a.m. on Friday and arrested Brian Hofman, 37, of 43 School Street in Naugatuck, who is accused of going into an aquaintance's apartment without permission while he was drunk and touching the victim.

Hofman was charged with fourth-degree sexual assault and first-degree burglary.

He was held on a $20,000 surety bond and was due in court yesterday.

It’s not clear if he has an attorney.

Photo Credit: Naugatuck Police
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