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Prison for Deadly LA Club Beating


Two women convicted of voluntary manslaughter were sentenced to six years in prison Friday for what a judge called a senseless brawl that left a 23-year-old woman dead outside a Santa Ana nightclub.

Vanesa Tapia Zavala, 26, and Candace Marie Brito, 27, both apologized at their sentencing hearing in Superior Court in Santa Ana.

The women had been found guilty in July of assault with force to produce great bodily injury in Annie Hung "Kim" Pham's fatal beating, but were acquitted of felony second-degree murder. They each faced up to 11 years in prison.

Zavala and Brito were accused of killing Pham, a Chapman University student, by kicking her in the head as she was on the ground fighting their friend outside the Crosby Restaurant and Nightclub on Jan. 19, officials said.

Both women addressed the court and Pham's family members.

"My heart goes out to all of you. Again, I am deeply sorry," Zavala said. "As a parent, I can only imagine your loss."

The judge told the defendants he watched cell phone video of the confrontation about 40 times. He described the violence as a real-time nightmare, noting that onlookers pulled out cell phone cameras to record instead of stopping the fight. The judge also questioned why the victim stayed in the fight even as her friends were pulling her away.

"I am so sorry for your loss," Brito told Pham's family in court. "In no way did I intend for this to happen.

"I will live with this for the rest of my life."

Friends of Pham told police that three women attacked her without provocation after the two groups bumped into each other outside the nightclub. Another witness said Pham instigated the fight by shouting obscenities and throwing the first punch after she and her friends bumped into another group exiting the bar.

Portions of the attack were captured on cellphone video as the victim's friends and a security guard unsuccessfully tried to intervene, officials said. Emergency 911 recordings also provided descriptions of the beating and aftermath.

One caller said the attackers "just ran off" and described Pham as having difficulty breathing.

Orange County Superior Court Thomas Goethals decried the senselessness of the crime and wondered why all of the combatants did not just "walk away" from the scrum.

"These were all funny, smart, bright young women," Goethals said of the victim and defendants. "Why didn't they walk away?"

Pham was hospitalized after the attack and taken off life support Jan. 21. A coroner's report said she died from blunt force trauma to the head.

Editor's Note: Audio recordings were not allowed in the courtroom during sentencing.

Access Health CT Open Enrollment Kicks Off Saturday


Open enrollment in the state's health insurance marketplace begins Saturday, and state officials announced goals for the enrollment period during a press conference Friday.

The state's call centers and in-person locations will be open through Feb. 15.

"This is a very big day," said Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, who chairs the board of the Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange. "We're ready for a second successful year."

Last year, the state cut its uninsured rate nearly in half from 7.9 percent to 4 percent. During the 2014-2015 cycle, officials with Access Health CT hope to enroll 70,000 people and once again cut the uninsured rate in half.

"It'll be a challenge," cautioned Wyman.

Locating the people who haven't signed up is the most important piece, according to state officials.

“From a statistics perspective, we know who they are, we know where they reside, we know the zip codes that they are in, we generally know the age bands that they fall into, and that has allowed us to do a very pointed media campaign into those locations," explained Access Health CT CEO Jim Wadleigh.

The Connecticut marketplace was widely considered to be perhaps the most effective state-based exchange in the country when open enrollment began in 2013.

It was so successful that just three months ago, the federal Department of Health and Human Services tapped Connecticut's first marketplace CEO, Kevin Counihan, to run the federal exchange that most states utilize.

"We really have become the national model," Wadleigh told reporters. "Maryland is using our technology for this open enrollment."

He also said several other states are testing Connecticut's technology for future use.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

NFLer's Parents Slam Cops on Arrest


The parents of 49ers football player Ray McDonald spoke publicly for the first time since prosecutors decided not to charge the defensive end with felony domestic violence, criticizing the police for the information they released, saying it caused their 30-year-old son to get "slaughtered by the lynch mob."

Speaking to NBC Bay Area by phone on Friday, LaBrina McDonald said she and her husband, Ray McDonald Sr., were tired of keeping quiet. McDonald Sr. said the police released information in "bits and pieces" to make everyone think that his son "attacked" his pregnant girlfriend when "that was totally wrong." He chastised the police, saying they didn't have the "full facts."

"We are a very close family and we come from a close knit community," added LaBrina McDonald. "And we know our son. To hear and read all those things that folks are saying and prejudging — it's heart-breaking. We had to grit our teeth and bite our tongues until this was all done and over."

The San Jose police responded to media requests for a response to the criticism Friday by issuing a three-paragraph statement citing the mandatory disclosure of the California Public Records Act, which include police reports.

"Based on the overwhelming request by various media outlets for police records regarding the Ray McDonald case, the San Jose Police Department complied with state law," police said.

The statement also added that police are "very cautious and sensitive about the information we provide to the media and the public because we do not want to interfere with an active and ongoing investigation. Many times we are precluded from sharing very intimate details about an investigation because we must allow the investigators to conduct their followup investigations."

The McDonalds decided to speak out after the Santa Clara County district attorney's office announced Monday that it wouldn't prosecute the 49er, who was arrested Aug. 31 after a birthday party he threw himself at his San Jose home.

The police news release at the time cited "visible injuries" to a woman officers accused McDonald of harming, but an internal DA memo released this week showed there was "insufficient evidence" and conflicting testimony to charge him with any crime.

There was indeed a fight, the prosecutors noted, where McDonald told his then 10-weeks-pregnant girlfriend she was an "unfit mother." But when the punch flew, both McDonald and the woman said she threw it, according to the document.

McDonald "grabbed her neck" to remove her from the house, which "resulted in a visible injury," the memo says. The action was used to restrain her, according to the documents. She told police that she was "fighting back." The prosecutor's memo describes the injuries as "seemingly minor" and characterizes the fight as a scuffle, "rather than an attack."

"He only restrained her," Ray McDonald Sr. said. "That was it."

Neither parent would not comment on their son's relationship with the woman at the center of the fight. They would not identify her, and would not answer whether she and their son still intended to get married. "You'll have to ask Ray," LaBrina McDonald said.

Ray McDonald told CSNBayArea that he was "doing stuff to try to better our relationship... because we do care about each other, love each other."

It was the "visible injuries" line that irks the McDonald parents, who own an insurance company in Florida and have one other child, a 32-year-old daughter.

"This basically led the public to believe that he hit or attacked her," the family said in a statement first issued to the Mercury News. "The fact that no additional information was given in this press release, in our opinion was very irresponsible and leads us to question the integrity of the ranking individuals that approved this press release."

READ: Ray McDonald Parents Statement on San Jose Police

NBC Bay Area was the second news outlet to obtain that statement and also an exclusive video interview with both parents from the airport on Friday as the couple was heading to Jamaica to celebrate their 33rd wedding anniversary.

LaBrina McDonald said that it was hard as a mother to watch her son's name be tarnished — a son she described as laidback, a "big teddy bear," a "Mama's boy," and a talented piano player. 

Since she's a "big talker," LaBrina McDonald said it was especially hard for her not to tell her friends what happened from her son's point of view that night. Ray McDonald Sr. said it was his son who counseled them "to be patient," saying that soon, "the truth will come out."

For the McDonald parents, they are only too happy that there were no charges filed against their son.

"He's a loving person," LaBrina McDonald said. "Just because he makes a lot of money and is a defensive lineman doesn't mean he's a bad person." 

Photo Credit: Courtesy of LaBrina McDonald
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State Faces $59 Million Budget Gap


The governor's budget chief told state agencies earlier in the week that they would have to watch their spending and face increased scrutiny over hiring in light of a $59-million shortfall.

“I see these as one-time problems that we will resolve in the coming year," said Benjamin Barnes, who oversees the Office of Policy and Management.

Republicans accused the governor and his administration of playing politics with budget figures. Barnes, on the other hand, said the report on the deficit only came to light Nov. 10, six days after the election.

"We tried to treat this in the most transparent way possible," Barnes said during an interview Friday.

He sent a memo to state department heads and financial officers Thursday, informing them of the report that was returned to him on Monday providing the bleak financial news.

"I'm not buying it," said Sen. Rob Kane, of Watertown. "We have to let the public know how the budget gets crafted."

Kane said he's not sure this kind of report could have swung the election in favor of Republican Tom Foley, but did say the public had a right to know before they cast their ballots.

The missing $59 million was supposed to come from Washington in the form of Medicaid grants.

When asked whether there was a way to work around the cuts without hurting other agencies, Barnes said Medicaid is an entitlement program "and the state only has so much control over where we can make changes" that would have a major financial impact.

State agencies will have to justify all future hires for the time being and explain why the department must hire or fill a position.

Kane said such new requirements shouldn't be necessary.

He said the state had more than enough information ahead of time to avoid scrambling during the beginning stages of the fiscal year.

“We did see this coming. We recognized that there are always deficiencies in state agencies. Right now, there’s $80 million in deficiencies, 40 of which is in DSS and most of that is in Medicaid," Kane said. "So you can see that coming. The writing is on the wall.”

The missing Medicaid dollars comprise a very small portion of Connecticut’s overall spending picture. The $59 million figure makes up one tenth of one percent of the state’s overall spending plan.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Holiday Shopping Deals Aren't Just for Black Friday


Black Friday is coming. Or is it Black Thursday? Monday? Did these sales start already?

If you're asking yourself any of these questions, you're not alone. A quick search online shows you Home Depot’s sales have already begun. Sears is starting Nov. 20 and Amazon is offering bargains “all day, every day.”

Experts say all this confusion could actually cost you.

“Retailers are banking on the fact that we just don’t have the time to be tracking prices month by month, week by week. We're busy especially around the holidays,” said Barnoosh Torabi, of NerdWallet.com.

Despite popular opinion, Black Friday is really only one day, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's the best day for deals. A new study by Adobe finds that the largest single-day price drop is expected the Sunday to Monday before Thanksgiving.

All Thanksgiving week, most items will be discounted 20 percent, but the best online deals are on Thanksgiving Day itself. That’s when you can expect an average discount of 24 percent.

“People are very conscious about saving money and they are looking for sales,” said Dede Pilpel, of Avon. “The thing you have to remember is there is always a sale.”

For that reason, Pilpel says she will not be waiting in the wee hours for the early bird specials. Others, like retail worker Donna Dudanowicz of New Britain, say they don’t have a choice.

“My opinion it is the customers fault. If there was no customers, all the stores would be closed,” said Dudanowicz.

It seems those days are long gone and the sales continue to creep up earlier each year.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Hartford Committee Begins Probe into Problems at Polls


Hartford’s newly appointed Committee of Inquiry held its first meeting Friday to probe Election Day problems that turned some voters away from city polls and caused major delays at others.

The committee is charged with the difficult task of sorting through what went wrong – namely, why voter registration lists were delivered late to nearly a dozen polling places around the city.

“Clearly, something went very wrong, so we want to get to the bottom of that and move swiftly to address it,” explained Hartford City Council President Shawn Wooden.

At the center of the probe is the Office of the Registrar of Voters and the three women who run it. While the registrars are a key component of the investigation, Wooden said that for now, the council’s current focus is on completing the investigation, not what will happen next.

The mayor, on the other hand, is calling on Democratic Registrar of Voters Olga Vasquez to resign.

"The Mayor feels she should resign, as there have been many issues within the Registrar of Voters office in the past that he has tried to correct but he also believes that replacing one individual will not fix the problem and that the entire system requires an overhaul," a spokesperson for Mayor Pedro Segarra's office said Friday.

Segarra's office did not offer specific comments with regards to the other two registrars.

"I continue to apologize to the voters It was a challenge we encountered. As this is under investigation, I have no further comments," Vasquez said in response.

Earlier this week, Working Families Party Registrar Urania Petit, also apologized for the snafu during an exclusive interview with NBC Connecticut.

"I feel like the people of Hartford deserve an apology and the people in the office have actually done something wrong," said Petit, who has served as city registrar since 1999. "It was an administrative error."

Wooden acknowledged the apology and commended her honesty Friday.

“To the extent someone is willing to be candid and forthright, and truly apologetic, I appreciate that,” said Wooden.

Wooden will serve as a non-voting member of the committee, which includes City Council Majority Leader Alex Aponte, Minority Leader Joel Cruz, Jr. and members Raul de Jesus, Cynthia Jennings and David McDonald.

Day Pitney, LLP and Shipman & Goodwin, LLP are also providing pro-bono legal counsel to the committee.

The committee is expected to complete its report by the end of December.

Home Invasion Suspects Rob Residents at Gunpoint


Police in Manchester are searching for two men who entered a home on Diane Drive and robbed the residents at gunpoint late Friday afternoon.

Authorities said the robbery happened around 4 p.m. One of the men was armed with a handgun, and the pair of intruders stole from the homeowners before fleeing the scene.

No one was hurt and a resident called 911 after the encounter. Police said they believe the attack was targeted.

The suspects are on the run. Police said one was wearing a black ski mask, gray sweatshirts, blue jeans and work boots.

Anyone with information is urged to call Manchester police at 860-645-5510.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Breaks Into Neighbor's Condo, Leaves License Behind: Cops


A West Haven man left his driver's license behind after breaking into his neighbor’s home Friday morning, providing police with the clue they needed to track him down and arrest him.

Police said a condo owner at 330 Savin Avenue in West Haven reported a strange man in the house around 10 a.m. Friday. According to police, that man turned out to be her neighbor.

Kyle Hejner, 29, originally of Pennsylvania, left his license behind and authorities used it to track him down. Police said a community resource officer spotted Hejner driving a car with Pennsylvania plates and pulled him over.

Hejner was arrested and charged with third-degree burglary, possession of burglar tools and third-degree criminal trespass.

He was held on $15,000 bond.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com/West Haven Police

New Victims of Anorexia: Young Girls and 40 Somethings


Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia are on the rise, and doctors who treat them here in Connecticut are seeing a dangerous trend.

“Girls in grades one to three are on diets, restricting their eating, thinking they’re fat. Even some are binging and purging,” said psychiatrist Dr. Sarah Niego, medical director of Hartford Hospital Institute of Living’s Eating Disorders Program.

Niego believes some young girls feel self-conscious about their weight in part because they hear what she calls “fat talk,” which, unfortunately can be everywhere, she said.

“If they’re female, a lot of it is other females, so the teacher in school or someone in the grocery store, or mom or an older sister,” said Niego.

On the other end of the spectrum is the increasing number of women over 40 seeking treatment for eating disorders. Pam DeFelippo, 52, suffered from anorexia last year and lost 18 pounds.

“I simply developed a habit of not eating and as we know the brain, the body needs nutrients in order to function,” said DeFilippo, who weighed just 93 pounds when she arrived at the Institute of Living for an out-patient program.

DeFilippo is part of a growing number of women over 40 who suffer from eating disorders over two decades.

"The percentage of women admitted to inpatient eating disorder programs over the age of 50 has increased 119 percent,” Niego said.

She attributes that to the expression that “50 is the new 30” and the pressure that comes with that to continue to look youthful.

And, Niego said, stereotypes that eating disorders affect only wealthy white teens and women  are not true. She says eating disorders do not discriminate.

DeFilippo had success at the Institute of Living’s program, where patients are medically stabilized and possibly medicated, then put on a personalized food plan. They spend hours each day in individual and group therapy.

Contact information for the Institute of Living is available on its website. The National Eating Disorder Association is another place to turn to find help in your area.

Photo Credit: clipart.com

Boy Gets 7 Years for Burning Teen


An Oakland boy who set a gender non-conforming high school student's skirt on fire on an AC Transit bus last year has been sentenced to seven years at a California juvenile facility.

Authorities said Richard Thomas, 17, told investigators he was homophobic, and he was initially charged as an adult with hate crimes.

He was sentenced Friday after reaching a plea deal on an assault charge. The hate crime and aggravated mayhem charges, which carried a sentence of up to life in prison, were dropped.

Sasha Fleischman, who identifies as agender rather than as male or female, suffered second- and third-degree burns when the skirt the teen was wearing was set on fire in November 2013.

"This is horrible what you did, but we don't hate you," Fleischman's mother, Debbie Crandall, told Thomas in court on Friday.

Thomas listened quietly as Crandall described Fleischman's injuries just before a judge sentenced the teen.

Thomas had set Fleischman's skirt, and subsequently legs, on fire while riding AC Transit bus No. 57 in Oakland on Nov. 4, 2013.

Fleischman, who identifies as agender rather than as male or female, suffered second- and third-degree leg burns and spent nearly three weeks in the hospital.

Surveillance video from the bus led to Thomas' arrest a few days after the attack.

Many in the Bay Area rallied around the agender teen, lining the streets with rainbows and wearing skirts to school, to show their support for Fleischman and the spectrum of gender identities.

Fleischman's parents previously said they had "mixed emotions" about the prison sentence. They have long fought to have Thomas tried in juvenile court, not as an adult.

On Friday, the parents said they feel the sentence is too hard -- they had hoped the teen would be treated as a juvenile, not as an adult.

"The thing that struck me when he walk in was, my God, he's just a kid," father Karl Fleischman said of Thomas. "He's still a young kid."

Thomas declined to speak in court. His family and attorney said the teen is sorry for what they describe as a prank gone bad.

"I can see it in his eyes," said Angelia Staten, Thomas' cousin. "He's genuinely sorry for what he's done."

NBC Bay Area's Jodi Hernandez and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

Va. May Charge Kids for School Bus


The Loudoun County School Board is considering charging for school bus rides, after years of budget shortfalls.

The school board will appeal to the state legislature about charging a fare. Under current Virginia law, school systems are not required to provide bus transportation, but if they do, the rides must be free. 

Budget shortfalls varying between $30 million and $40 million during recent years have left administrators between a rock and a hard place.

"It's hard for us to keep up, so we're just trying to find every way we can to ensure we're offering our students educational items rather than the transportation," Loudoun County School Board Vice Chair Jill Turgeon. "We have to choose between one or the other ... and we want to focus on education."

Parents are shocked at the idea of a free ride suddenly becoming costly.

"I don't like the idea. We've had years where they've been riding, they can cut the budget in other places. It doesn't have to be towards the school," one parent said.

Officials haven't yet announced what the fares would be if the school system is allowed to implement it.

Father of Danbury Hit-and-Run Victim Speaks Out


The father of a Bethel woman killed in a hit-and-run accident father is making a desperate plea to the driver who killed his daughter.

Rachel Sack was struck on South Street in Danbury one week ago. Police are still searching for her killer.

"My daughter did fantastic things when she was on this earth," said Gerard Sack, who on Friday visited the scene where his daughter was killed. "Time is running out. There are people around the world looking for you."

The best clue so far is the video of a white van seen in the area of Great Pasture Road and South Street just before midnight last Friday.

"This particular van in subject had split doors on the passenger side and on these doors which makes it more unique is they had glass windows," Sack added, describing the van investigators are searching for.

He also pleaded to the community to say something if they've seen a white van of any kind.

"We would think by now that this person with this white van could remember they drove by the area. They just have to go in and clear their name if they're totally innocent," Sack said.

Family members said Rachel was leaving Michael's Cafe and heading home to Bethel when someone struck here near this Danbury intersection. Now her parents are left to care for her son, 9 week old Jackson.

"All I have is nothing but pride for her," Gerard said, proud to know his daughter was best suited for her job as a nurse's assistant. "She may have even helped out your mother or your father. She was there and she was a loving, loving girl doing that."

Now this living father just wants his heart-wrenching wait to end.

"I'm not going to forgive somebody who just turns their back on my little girl," Sack added.

There's also a $1,000 reward for any information that would help police in this case.

Anyone with information should call Danbury police.

Gas Station Accidentally Fills Pumps With Home Heating Oil


A gas station in Somers, Connecticut, accidentally filled the pumps with home heating oil instead of gasoline, and at least a few drivers filled their tanks before the problem was caught, according to the owner.

Eddie Jamal, who owns the Mobil Station at 580 Main Street in Somers, said United Transportation delivered heating oil instead of gasoline last Wednesday. The heating oil made it into gas pumps and a handful of cars filled up before employees realized what had happened.

Jamal said gas station workers caught the problem within hours and emptied out the pumps.

One driver reported car trouble to NBC Connecticut as a result. She said her mechanic pointed out the problem and that her car is now out of commission.

United Transportation is covering the cost of repairs. Jamal said anyone experiencing problems should call the gas station for more information.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/OJO Images

8-Year-Old Girl Pulled From Burning Home in Hartford


Firefighters pulled an 8-year-old girl from a burning home in the South End of Hartford on Friday evening and said a police officer and firefighter also suffered smoke inhalation.

Footage from the scene shows flames pouring from the roof of the three-story apartment building at 22-24 Hamilton Street, near the corner of Zion Street.

The blaze forced 12 families from their homes, including six families from the building that burned and six from an adjacent home, according to fire department spokesperson Captain Helene Lynch.

"It was really bad, reaching all the way through here," said David Rodriguez, who watched the building burn. "[There were] a lot of little ashes everywhere."

Lt. Raul Ortiz of the Hartford Fire Department said firefighters rescued an 8-year-old girl who was trapped in the burning home. The child was taken to the hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries, police said.

A firefighter and police officer were also hospitalized after suffering smoke inhalation. Police said no one was seriously hurt.

Firefighters launched a defensive attack in an effort to keep the flames from spreading, according to Ortiz. Nonetheless, four cars were destroyed and the duplex at 18-20 Hamilton Avenue suffered heavy damage, Lynch said.

"The building was in flames and the breeze started to blow it to the next building," explained witness Tara Beckford.

Connecticut Light & Power responded to cut electricity to the neighborhood for safety purposes. Crews also faced possible water problems and said runoff from the hydrants began freezing over, and the Metropolitan District Commission was called to the scene.

Authorities are investigating the cause of the blaze. The extent of the damage is not yet clear.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Pedestrian Struck in Hit-and-Run


Police are investigating a Friday night hit-and-run involving a pedestrian in East Windsor.

A vehicle struck the pedestrian near the CT Trolley Museum on North Road (Route 140) while he was walking and pushing a bicycle, police said. Officers responded at 9:46 p.m.

The driver fled the scene.

An ambulance transported the pedestrian to Hartford Hospital.

Police ask anyone with information on the identity of the driver to contact the East Windsor Police Department at 860-292-8240, extension 338.

Westport Police Identify Man in Suspicious Death Case


Westport police have identified a man who a jogger found lying unresponsive on Patrick Road Saturday morning in an investigation into the suspicious death.

The runner flagged down a passing driver for help after spotting  39-year-old Sandokan Kayan Harrell's body on the shoulder of the road near 47 Patrick Road at 9:07 a.m. The motorist called police.

The driver and the jogger tried revive Harrell, of Bridgeport, by performing CPR. Emergency personnel treated him at the scene and Westport EMS took him to Norwalk Hospital, according to police. Medical staff also tried to resuscitate the man to no avail and he was pronounced dead at 9:56 a.m.

Police are investigating the death as suspicious and said that they found "no visible signs of trauma," police said in a news release.

Police described him as a black male who was found wearing a white tank top, jeans and brown shoes.

Wesport police ask anyone who saw anything "suspicious or unusual" near 47 Patrick Road or who had contact with Harrell in the last 24 hours to contact the department at 203-341-6000.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Flickr RF

Silver Alert Canceled for Missing 10-Month-Old


Police have canceled a Silver Alert for a missing Hamden boy who is just under 1 year old.

Desohn Wilson, nearly 11 months old, was reported missing on Saturday morning and located just before 2:30 p.m.

Earlier, police sent out a Silver Alert notification.

"The child was last seen wrapped in a blanket being carried in a car seat by the father," Hamden police had said in the Silver Alert release.

Police described the child as a black male with black hair and brown eyes who weighs about 24 pounds and stands 2 feet tall.

No photo was provided.

No Threat to Trinity College After Possible Shooting: Cops


After Trinity College alerted its students about a possible shooting near campus Friday night, the college updated students late evening that there was no danger to the campus and that no one in the Trinity community was involved.

"The Hartford Police Department has completed their investigation along Crescent Street and the area is clear. No members of the Trinity community were involved and there is no threat to our campus. Thank you for your cooperation," Francisco Ortiz Jr., director of campus safety, wrote to student in an email at 11:35 p.m. on Friday.

Earlier in the evening the college notified students of a crime scene investigation near campus involving possible shots fired.

"The Hartford Police Department is actively engaged in investigation on Crescent Street. The incident stems from a report of shots fired in the area of Broad street New Britain avenue [sic]," the alert said.

Police took several people into custody in connection with the incident, the original alert from Ortiz Jr. stated.

Trinity College Campus Safety worked with Hartford police to investigate.

It's not clear if anyone was hurt.

New Reward Fund for Missing Kids


The father of two Maryland toddlers missing since September is hoping a new reward fund will help bring his kids home.

Jacob Hoggle, 2, was last seen Sept. 7 and his sister Sarah Hoggle, 3, was last seen the following day. Police have said they are building a homicide case against their mother, Catherine Hoggle, who has diagnosed paranoid schizophrenia. For the majority of her time in police custody, Catherine refused to tell police where the kids were, only remaining adamant they were OK.

Last week, she told her mother and husband she wanted to take police to see the kids.

"She said that she wanted to show the police where the kids were," Catherine Hoggle's husband Troy Turner said. "I asked her how come she doesn't show me, I'm their father, I could pick them up, and then she said that it wouldn't do anything for her to show me, that she needed to show the police herself."

The judge in the hearing said he doesn't think Catherine Hoggle is competent and would not sign an emergency order to let her go with the police to look for the missing children.

Throughout the grueling ordeal, Turner has tried to remain positive.

"My job as their father is to believe in my kids, believe in myself and go find them. Period. That's what we're going to do," he said.

The reward fund has been set up in conjunction with the non-profit Victims' Rights Foundation (VRF).

"It gives us more organization and a greater base to pull volunteers from," Turner said.

Meanwhile, Montgomery County Police have recharged their search for the missing toddlers.

"With the colder weather, the leaves have fallen off the trees," Cpt. Darren Franke said. "It's changed the terrain out there in areas we've already searched. We're going to be searching those areas again."

Sarah's 4th birthday is a week from Thursday -- Turner said that day could be the hardest yet.

Man Illegally Rented Homes: PD


A former New Jersey firefighter and son of a councilwoman and another man have been charged with illegally renting out homes under foreclosure through Craigslist.

Terrence Ward and Adam Kull were arrested and charged this week in the alleged scheme by Winslow Township Police.

Investigators said the men would advertise Winslow Township, New Jersey homes for rent on Craigslist, show prospective renters the property and then collect security deposits and first months rent and allow them to move in.

Ward, 35, and Kull, 34, didn't own or manage the properties, however.

The men would find vacant homes that were in the final stages of foreclosure to rent out, police said.

Ward would handle communication with the potential tenants and both men would show off properties, according to police.

Police said they've been investigating the scam since it was reported to them in July when a homeowner found strangers living in their vacant home. Since then, police received several more complaints from residents.

Detectives had been searching for Ward for several days. A warrant was issued for his arrest on Wednesday. His mother, Judy Ward, is a councilwoman in Pleasantville declined to comment at the time, but said she didn't believe the charges were true "because of his integrity."

Both men are charged with burglary, theft and conspiracy and are being held on bail in the county prison.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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