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Man Suspected in Stratford Burglaries


Stratford police have arrested a man accused of breaking into cars at a local business in July after an officer spotted him committed another car break-in, police said.

Police arrested James Graziani, 34, of Stratford, on a warrant on Saturday. They said he broke into three cars at 528 Honeyspot Road on July 19 and stole stereo equipment.

He was charged with third-degree burglary and third-degree criminal mischief.

Police said an officer identified Graziani as a suspect after seeing him breaking into a vehicle at another business at 585 Honeyspot Road.

In this incident, he was charged with third-degree burglary .

Police said he was identified as the suspect in the earlier case through surveillance footage.

Photo Credit: Stratford Police

State Offers $50K Reward in Cold Case


The state of Connecticut is offering a $50,000 reward in a cold case from 2009.

Timothy Coleman, 38, was shot dead in Hartford on Sept. 2, 2009. Police responding to the area of 102 Edgewood Street in Hartford to investigate a reported shooting found Coleman with multple gunshot wounds. He later died of his injuries and the case was ruled a homicide.

Police have not found the shooter who killed Coleman, so Hartford State's Attorney Gail P. Hardy asked Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to sign off on a state-funded reward to help find Coleman's killer. The governor authorized the $50,000 reward for anyone who can provide information leading to the arrest or conviction of the man who killed him.

Hartford police ask anyone with information to contact Det. Christopher May at 860-757-4145 or leave an anonymous tip at 860-722-8477 or www.hartford.gov/police.

Photo Credit: State of Connecticut Division of Criminal Justice

Dramatic Photos: 2014 Year in Review


More from 2014 and looking ahead to 2015:

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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Charter Bus Provided to NYPD Officer Funeral


Hartford's police union will offer a charter bus to take officers to the funeral of a New York police officer shot and killed in Brooklyn.

The funeral of fallen New York Police Department Officer Rafael Ramos is scheduled to be held on Saturday at Christ Tabernacle Church at 6434 Myrtle Avenue in Glendale New York on Saturday at 10 a.m.

The bus will begin boarding at the Hartford Police Department on High Street at 6 a.m. and leave at 7 a.m.

After the funeral, the bus will take officers to the reception that follows.

The bus is scheduled to leave New York at 5:30 p.m. and get back to Hartford at about 8 p.m.

Officers can sign up on a sheet in the patrol cruiser lock box outside of the roll call room.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Men Scam Macy's in Milford Out of $12,400: Police


Two men are facing charges after using fake credit cards to buy $12,400 worth of gift cards at Macy’s in Milford, then fighting with employees who became suspicious, police.

According to police, Charles Hamilton and Akeem Henry, both 26, showed up at the Macy’s store at 1201 Boston Post Road in Milford on Dec. 22 and purchased 31 Macy’s gift cards.

Store workers suspected the suspects of using fraudulent credit cards and called the police, at which point one suspect grew “combative” and bit an employee on the hand, police said.

Officers arrived at the store and took both suspects into custody. They were each charged with second-degree larceny, conspiracy to commit second-degree larceny, illegal use of a credit card, credit card theft, credit card fraud and unlawful reproduction of a credit card.

Hamilton, of Tampa, Florida, was also charged with four counts of third-degree forgery and one count of third-degree robbery.

Henry, of New York City, was charged with seven counts of third-degree forgery.

Both men were held on $250,000 bond and were due in court Tuesday.

Photo Credit: Milford Police Department

Man Charged With Murder in Fatal Highway Stabbing


State police have charged a suspect in the stabbing death of a Bridgeport man on the exit 5 off-ramp from Route 8 last week.

Anthony Espinal, 36, of Bridgeport, was arrested and charged in the murder of Bryant Kelly, 26, of Bridgeport.

Kelly was stabbed to death when a fight broke out following a crash on the exit ramp the night of Thursday, Dec. 18, according to state police.

Police said a witness called 911 at 11:20 p.m. to say two people were outside their cars and walking toward each other "in an aggressive manner."

Authorities then received another 911 call, this time from one of the people involved in the fight, who asked for state police to respond. Police said the call dropped after sounds of a scuffle could be heard over the line.

When the man called back, he told authorities that he had run to the corner of Lindley and Capitol avenues in Bridgeport a short distance away.

Police met him there, and troopers also responded to the off-ramp, where they found Kelly seriously hurt. State police said Kelly had been stabbed.

Troopers provided emergency care at this scene while waiting for an ambulance to bring him to Saint Vincent’s Hospital. Police said Kelly was pronounced dead shortly after being admitted. 

Autopsy results showed that Kelley died of a stab wound.

Espinal is being held on $250,000 bond and is due in court in Bridgeport on Dec. 24.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Penn. Killer Died of Drug Overdose


The Montgomery County, Pennsylvania man who went on a rampage last week killing his ex-wife and her family died from an overdose of drugs often used to treat people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, according to a final autopsy by the county's medical examiner.

Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman released the medical examiner’s report Tuesday afternoon that revealed how Bradley Stone and the six people authorities said he killed died.

Bradley Stone died from a "combined drug intoxication" after ingesting Trazodone, Risperidone and mCPP, blood tests conducted by Forensic Pathologist Dr. Isadore Mihalikas found. The 35-year-old's death was ruled suicide.

Stone's body was discovered in a wooded area of Upper Hanover Township, just a half a mile from his home in Pennsburg, on Dec. 16 -- a day after police said he carried out the three town killing spree.

Next to him were blood-coated knives, a large machete and double-bladed black ax, that are believed to have been used in the murders. Two medicine bottles, including one with crushed up powder inside, were found on Stone's person as well as an energy drink container that had powder around the lip, the ME said.

Trazodone is used to treat depression and also "commonly used in the treatment of insomnia and nightmares in patients with PTSD," according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Risperidone is an antipsychotic medication used to treat both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder symptoms but also been used to improve psychiatric symptoms of PTSD. The other substance found in Stone's system, mCPP is an ecstasy-like recreational drug taken orally or snorted.

The Department of Veterans Affairs confirmed last week that Stone had post-traumatic stress disorder.

Stone’s body had a three of superficial cut wounds as well as a seven-centimeter deep wound to his upper thigh. He had 10 scratches to his face and neck as well, the report stated.

In an initial examination last week, Montgomery County Coroner Dr. Walter Hoffman said Stone suffered no trauma to his body, then clarified that although Stone did have a cut to his leg, it was not something that caused his death.

Stone brutally attacked his ex-wife, Nicole Hill Stone, and six members of her family with knives and a gun over a 90 minute period in the early in the morning on Dec. 15. Six members of the family died.

Hill Stone's 17-year-old nephew Anthony Flick is the lone survivor. He suffered a gaping head wound and serious cuts to his arm. Flick left the hospital Monday.

The autopsy report also outlined the injuries the victims suffered.

Stone's first stop on the killing spree brought him to the Souderton home of Hill Stone's sister, Trisha Flick.

The 36-year-old was shot in the head and also suffered gunshot wounds to her arm and had a gaping "chop" wound to her head. Her husband Aaron "A.J." Flick had "chopping" injuries to his hands and head and was shot in the hand. Tricia and A.J.'s 14-year-old daughter, Nina, died from 12 chopping wounds to her head and one to the back of her neck. Anthony Flick was also left to die in the home for hours until police could come in and retrieve him.

Moving to the Lansdale home of Hill Stone's mother and grandmother, Stone killed both of them in a second floor bedroom. The mother, 57-year-old Joanne Gilbert, was shot in the face and had her throat slashed. Grandmother Patricia Hill, 75, was shot in the face and cuts to her arm.

Hill Stone was the last to be killed. The 33-year-old was shot multiple times, just feet away from the couple's two daughters, aged 8 and 5, in her Lower Salford apartment. The children were not hurt.

Detectives recovered the handgun used in the murders inside Hill Stone's apartment, prosecutors said. Though, he was not allowed to own them since he had been found guilty of driving under the influence in April 2013.

Prosecutors said Stone hid the gun, which was purchased in 2011, and two others from probation officers during 17 home visits over the past year. Seven were unscheduled and the most recent was on Dec. 8.

That day, officials said, Stone met with a military psychologist and did not have any suicidal or homicidal thoughts.

One of the guns remains missing. Officials have notified the FBI about the missing weapon.

Photo Credit: NBC10

New Connecticut Casino Not a Hot Topic in 2015


With a new casino being built just north in Springfield, Massachusetts, and revenues from Connecticut’s casinos lagging, the likelihood of a new casino in the state is slim.

“There hasn’t been a lot of serious talk about it and without a proposal the topic lacks the momentum” said State Sen. Martin Looney, soon to be president pro tem of the Connecticut State Senate.

MGM is building a new facility in Springfield that’s set to open in 2017, with a groundbreaking slated for early next year. It’s one of three casinos that have been approved in Massachusetts.

Mohegan tribal leaders, who operate the Mohegan Sun facility in Uncasville, they view the increased competition in neighboring states as a direct threat to the entire industry in Connecticut.

In a statement, the Kevin Brown, tribe’s chairman said, “those states recognize that gaming resorts create revenue streams both for the business and the state in which they operate."

Brown continued and said the tribe would figure out ways to maintain its business model with competition from all directions.

“If we in Connecticut do not honor our partnership and take steps to protect business here, and customers travel to surrounding states, we will find operational efficiencies that allow us to provide for our people, while meeting the new smaller market demand.”

Looney said he expects decreased revenues from gaming as a result of the new casino in Springfield when it opens.

“The novelty of a new facility openly will potentially exacerbate the loss of revenues in Connecticut,” he said.

Even though he recognizes that there has been talk about a new casino, Looney said he’s yet to see an actual proposal which puts the project behind, at least for now.

"Until there is a concrete proposal with some idea of specifics and momentum behind it anything short of that is just speculation at this point."

Drunken Man Crashed Into Buildings: Cops


A family is displaced from a Farmington Avenue apartment a day before Christmas Eve after a truck driver under the influence crashed into several buildings and cars in West Hartford following a Hartford hit-and-run.

Adam Puzon, 40, of Enfield, was fleeing the scene of a crash in Hartford when he slammed into the east side of 755 Farmington Avenue in a 2008 Hino flatbed, backed up, caused minor damage to two other buildings, hit the building again and ripped the front end off a parked 2009 Honda Accord just before 6 a.m. Tuesday, police said.

Fluid trailed from the truck as it fled and the right front tire fell off on Farmington Avenue.

Hartford police had alerted West Hartford law enforcement to be on the lookout for a truck that fled the scene of a crash. Puzon's truck hit a fire hydrant and two utility poles before West Hartford police received an emergency call at about 6 a.m. reporting a truck damaged multiple buildings, police said.

Then an American Medical Response paramedic spotted Puzon's truck headed south on Arnoldale Road and notified West Hartford police. Police saw a truck with a lot of front-end damage and a missing front right tire on Park Road and pursued it north on Trout Brook Drive until Puzon pulled into the entrance driveway at Kingswood-Oxford.

Puzon also ran two red lights.

Police arrested him on multiple charges including driving under the influence and several other motor vehicle violations. Puzon was cooperative with police from there on out.

Puzon was driving his work vehicle, owned by Advance Scaffold Services in Hartford, but it's unclear where he was headed.

Sheila Bezrucik woke up to the sound of the flatbed truck smashing into her Farmington Avenue apartment, caving in the brick veneer and rendering her home uninhabitable. Now she's forced out a day before Christmas Eve and her property managers are putting her up in another apartment for the time being during repairs on her unit.

"They have to take the whole structure, the whole wall down to repair everything. The windows, the heating, and everything. They have to repair it so I can’t stay in there," Bezrucik said.

This all unfolded as the truck driver for a scaffolding company in Hartford tried to turn around after driving in the wrong direction on a one-way driveway at the apartment complex.

"The whole building shook and then he backed up again and hit it again," Bezrucik said.

The interior walls of another apartment were also cracked.

Another resident, Matt Horan, looked out his window and saw a 40-foot flatbed truck "take out" a red Honda Accord and hit a building.

"The driver took a right and peeled down Arnoldale and was gone," Horan said.

Catherine Gay, who lives on the third floor of one of the buildings hit woke up to her pictures crashing down from the walls.

"I just looked out the window and saw him crashing into the next building, and then trying to turn the corner, unable to and crashed into a car and just demolished it," she said.

Police said Puzon fled the scene, but police stopped him at the entrance to Kingswood Oxford on Trout Brook Drive and arrested him. Fire and police responded and an investigation is underway.

No one was injured.

Puzon was also charged with two counts of failure to obey a control signal, failure to drive right, two counts of failure to maintain a lane,reckless driving, six counts of evading responsibility, failure to yield to emergency vehicles,  four counts of first-degree criminal mischief and two counts of fourth-degree criminal mischief.

Police are holding him on a $50,000 bond and he's likely due in court on Wednesday.

Photo Credit: West Hartford Police and NBCConnecticut.com

Hartford Fire Task Force Members Hold Impromptu Meeting: City


A week after the city of Hartford organized a task force to review fire department policies and protocol, three of the task force's five members got together for an initial meeting, but didn't notify the public, according to the mayor's office.

"Although their intent was to get started as quickly as possible, some members of the task force were not notified of the meeting," Maribel La Luz, spokesperson for Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, wrote in an email to NBC Connecticut on Tuesday.

Segarra established the task force, which comprises five former fire chiefs, to review department policies and lead the investigation into the on-duty death of firefighter Kevin Bell.

He also put together a six-member committee to develop a new fire department code of conduct in light of recent arrests and suspensions of firefighters both on and off the job.

"The Mayor appreciates their eagerness and willingness to help, however there is a process to be followed for public meetings," La Luz wrote. "The process may be new for some of the members. Tomorrow Corporation Counsel will notify them of the aprpopriate protocols and procedures."

La Luz said that going forward, the public will be notified of all task force meetings.

"It's important for these meetings to be transparent," she said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Teen Arrested in Southington High School Bomb Threat


Police have arrested the teen accused of making a bomb threat to Southington High School on social media Monday afternoon.

Benjamin Egan, 18, was arrested Tuesday, according to police. Police said Egan is not a student at Southington High.

He's accused of using the anonymous social media app "Yik Yak" to threaten the school around 8:30 a.m. Monday, prompting an evacuation and early dismissal of the school.

According to police the message, threatened to set off bombs on Monday and half the day on Tuesday.

All after-school activities were canceled as investigators searched the school, and police stepped up patrols on campus Tuesday morning.

No explosives were found during the search. At one point, investigators found a bag considered suspicious in the Agricultural Science building in room A106, but later said it just contained clothing.

Police have not released any additional information about Egan or the charges he faces.

Photo Credit: Southington Police Department/NBCConnecticut.com

Lights Out for Popular Southington Display


Fifty thousand twinkling lights in Southington went dark on Tuesday after the surging popularity of "Lights on Lovely" caused "too much stress and sleepless nights," according to the homeowner behind the striking display.

“We are sad to say that we have decided that last night was the last night for LightsOnLovley this year, going forward the lights will be dark," the homeowners wrote on Facebook.

"We delivered the last of the donations to Community Services this morning," they added, referencing the canned goods they had asked visitors to bring along.

The Burke family began crafting the display in 2008 and worked every year to outdo themselves. This winter, 50,000 flashing lights adorned their home on Lovely Drive, twinkling along to a musical medley from the popular movie "Frozen."

As the display drew more and more admirers, police asked drivers not to stop in front of the house and implemented an emergency parking ban in the area.

“It’s good to hear the reaction, but it’s also a little stressful with the traffic and inconvenience it causes the neighbors,” Howard Burke, one of the organizers, said on Monday. “We definitely appreciate the support of the neighbors still with us on this.”

It was meant to last through New Year's Eve, but on Tuesday, Burke said the display is done.

“It was not one thing, not the angry voicemail, not the posts or comments on line, not the veiled threats of legal action, not the belittling of the donations or the media circus this has created,” the family wrote on Facebook. “It has just become too much stress and sleepless nights to continue on.”

The homeowners are apologizing for shutting down early.

“At this point we do not know what this means for 2015. While we suspect that the Frozen song and resulting media coverage was a one time thing, its hard to predict what would happen next year. We would happily work with the town or other organizations on potential ideas for a better location, but the logistics of setting this up is not trivial,” they wrote.

Anyone who planned to go and still wants to make a donation can bring canned goods directly to Community Services on Norton Street in Southington.

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Man in Pajamas Chokes Officer, Pees on Floor: Cops


A 53-year-old man who found himself on the side of the road in Orange wearing only pajamas tried to choke an officer who arrested him, then urinated on the floor of his holding cell, according to police.

Police in Orange said Harry Peters, of Derby, got into a physical fight with the driver of the car in which he was riding. They took the fight outside until the driver got back in and sped off, leaving Peters in the street.

Officers took Peters into custody and brought him to police headquarters, where he tried to choke one of them and later relieved himself on the floor of his cell, according to police.

Peters was charged with second-degree breach of peace, assault of an officer, interfering with an officer and third-degree criminal mischief.

He was held on $50,000 and was due in court Tuesday.

Photo Credit: Orange Police Department

Dollar Store in Barkhamsted Evacuated Over Gas Leak


Emergency reseponders have evacuated the Dollar Store on New Hartford Road in Barkhamsted while they work to repair a gas leak in the area, according to the fire department.

Fire officials described the leak as small and said the evacuation is precuationary.

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: Monica Garske

Report Calls for Increased Funding for Road Repairs


A new report calling attention to ongoing problems with our state's roads and bridges is pushing for a substantial increase in local, state and federal funding to make improvements.

According to transportation research group TRIP, funding for Connecticut roads could reduce congestion, improve safety, and fuel economic growth.

The report focused on Connecticut's largest cities, including Hartford and New Haven, and found that deficient roads are costing drivers an extra $4.2 billion per year in added vehicle operating costs, congestion delays, and crashes.

The report also found that 35 percent of Connecticut bridges need repairs, improvement or replacement and that 41 percent of major roads in the state have pavements in poor condition.

Businesses are also taking a hit as a result of deteriorated roads, according to the report.

"Making sure our transportation infrastructure is as modern and as efficient as possible is really a critical issue for economic growth," said Joe Brennan, president of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association.

The report says the average driver in the Bridgeport and Stamford area is spending 42 hours per year stuck in traffic, the average driver in the Hartford area is losing 38 hours per year and the average driver in New Haven is losing 35 hours.

"Obviously, we want to get employees in and out of the workplace as efficiently and as safely as possible," said Brennan. "But also, for companies like manufacturers, they need to get their materials into their plants and their finished products out of their plants and do that in a cost effective and efficient manner."

A state Department of Transportation spokesman declined to comment on the report.

Social Media Helps Lost Dogs Find Their Way Home


When two pups got away from their owners near Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, employees of the race track took to social media to help the pooches find their way home.

According to the track’s Facebook page, which appear to be a beagle and shepherd mix, were found wandering on Lime Rock Road on Tuesday. The dogs were brought to Sand Road Animal Hospital while Lime Rock Park worked to track down their owners.

Just an hour later, the track posted a “pupdate” on Facebook to say the dogs had made it home safely.

Photo Credit: Lime Rock Park

1 Arrested After Car Crashes Into Southington Home


One person was arrested after a car drove into a house in Southington and ended up in the living room Tuesday night, according to police at the scene.

Police said a person in the home at 55 Paul Heights was involved in a domestic dispute with the driver prior to the crash. Authorities have not identified the person facing charges or released any additional information about the incident.

Only one person was inside the house and no one was hurt, but the home suffered serious damage, according to police. A building inspector has been called out to check the home and figure out if it's in danger of collapsing.

Authorities are investigating.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Wet and Windy Christmas Ahead


We'll have to wait another year for that white Christmas.

Although no snow is in store, a storm cell will bring rain as the holiday approaches.

A drizzle overnight will become heavier on Christmas Eve, picking up around mid-afternoon Wednesday.

According to Chief Meteorologist Brad Field, rain will continue to intensify Wednesday evening and throughout Wednesday night into Christmas morning.

Rain could be accompanied be gusty winds Wednesday night into Thursday, especially in southern and eastern Connecticut. Scattered power outages are possible around the state.

Strong winds could also impact holiday air travel. If you're flying this week, check with your air carrier for updates on your flight status.

Temperatures are expected to drop next week, and we could see some snow on Monday afternoon into the evening, as well as on New Year's Eve.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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Operation SANTA Puts Safety First This Holiday Season


Law enforcement across the state has extra eyes on the roads this holiday season.

With the help of a federal grant program called Operation Stop Another Needless Traffic Accident, or SANTA, officers cruising the streets are watching out for drunk driving, distracted driving and seatbelt violations.

"Whether you're in Groton, Willimantic, Ridgefield, the police departments are stepping up efforts to make sure that everyone has a safe holiday, and that starts with that drunk driver who can ruin not only his holiday but the holiday of someone else," said Willimantic Police Corporal Stan Parizo, Jr.

Over the last decade, Willimantic has seen a dramatic decrease in drunk driving arrests thanks to enforcement and education. Parizo said that in 2004, police made 361 of those arrests, but this year, the number is well below half that.

With the rainy weather expected over the next several days, police are also advising drivers to slow down and keep their distance from other vehicles.

Young Cancer Patient Brings Holiday Cheer to the Hospital


A senior at Enfield High School may be struggling of an illness of her own, but she's turning the tables and paying it forward.

Kyla Pokorny, 17, who put her college plans on hold to finish her latest round of chemotherapy, wanted to lighten the load for other young people spending the holidays in the hospital.

Pokorny set up a fundraising page and has collected thousands of dollars in donations to benefit oncology patients at Connecticut Children's Medical Center, where she's currently a patient.

"My goal is to get money together in order to buy Christmas presents and grocery store gift cards for pediatric cancer patients and their families who are struggling financially," she wrote on the GoFundMe page.

Pokorny, who is battling brain cancer and first got sick years ago, said it's a cause that's near and dear to her heart. She's been on the receiving end of the kindness of strangers and said it made all the difference.

"[Donors] adopted my family for Christmas and got us a lot of gifts, and it was probably the best Christmas ever," she explained. "I knew someday when I have enough money to do something like that, I really want to be able to do that."

She doesn't have any of her own money, but that didn't stop Pokorny from finding a way to give back. It's especially personal because Pokorny dreams of becoming a nurse.

After raising $3,250 – and far exceeding her goal of $2,800 – Pokorny hand delivered some of the gifts.

"She started crying," Pokorny said, of the mother of a sick little boy. "She was like, 'I really wanted to get him all this stuff, but I couldn't afford it,' and it was probably the best thing ever. That was my Christmas present, that I could provide that for them."

Pokorny's social studies teacher, Cindy Kelleher, said she's never had a student like Pokorny.

"Not only is she battling her own health issues, but she maintains an A average and she's so generous in what she does," Kelleher said.

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