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Thieves Use Pay Loader to Steal ATM in Glastonbury


Thieves used a stolen pay loader and a stolen dump truck to steal an ATM from a TD Bank in Glastonbury.

Police responded to the bank at 730 Hebron Avenue just before 1 a.m. on Sunday and found the ATM had been ripped away and stolen. Investigators determined the suspects stole a dump truck from a business up the road and a pay loader from a construction site near the bank.

They used the pay loader to rip out the ATM and drove away with it in the dump truck, leaving the pay loader behind, according to police.

The ATM was found at the Hartford landfill on Liebert Road on Monday. The ATM was smashed open and the cash removed, according to police.

Anyone who may have witnessed suspicious activity near the bank on Saturday night or Sunday morning is asked to call Glastonbury Police Sgt. Michael Furlong at 860-633-8301.

Photo Credit: Glastonbury Police

Colt Works Rally as Lawmakers Debate Gun Bills


While gun policy and gun control issues are always controversial, the debate has become increasingly heated since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School and that has brought people on both sides to Hartford to ensure that lawmakers hear their thoughts.

The Public Safety and Security Committee is meeting in Hartford today to discuss several bills that will affect gun policy in the state.

Hundreds of Colt Manufacturing workers arrived at the Legislative Office Building carrying signs that read "Save Our Jobs."  They are there urging lawmakers to avoid passing laws that they said would affect hundreds of small businesses and families.

One bill on the agenda for Thursday is wide-sweeping legislation aimed at reducing gun violence and defines “assault weapon,” requires a rifle permit for the purchase of a long gun, requires registration of firearms, establishes a gun offender registry, regulates the sale of ammunition and eliminates the bulk purchase of firearms.

One bill would set the minimum age to buy a rifle or other long gun at 21.

Another would require criminal background checks for all private firearms sales.

One bill prohibits anyone from carrying a loaded firearm when under the influence with a blood alcohol level is .08 or higher.

Additional legislation affects permits required for gun shows.

One bill would restrict gun permits for people who have committed serious offenses, has been found not guilty of a crime due to mental disease or has been hospitalized for psychiatric reasons.

One would prohibit firing a gun within 500 feet of private residences without consent.

Another permits peace officers to have firearms on school grounds, even when they are off

Another bill up for debate today focuses on shootings in which there are several victims.

The legislation calls upon the Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection to use the statewide police emergency radio network to notify all local police departments in the state of the incident and any information the commissioner deems appropriate to disseminate.

An additional bill would direct taxes from firearm manufacturers and firearm importers for the sale of each firearm manufactured in or imported into the state to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund.

Man Groped Teens on CT Transit Buses: Cops


Hartford police are looking for a 58-year-old East Hartford man suspected of groping teenage girls on CT Transit buses.

Hartford police said Jesus Ayala is wanted in connection with two sexual assaults of teenagers on various CT Transit bus routes in December and January.

Ayala approached the teens subtly by bumping into them, then became more aggressive, according to police.

He was wearing a bright blue winter coat, blue jeans and sneakers during both incidents.

Ayala is also suspected in a similar case in Manchester, which was not reported to police.

Police are working with CT Transit to help find Ayala.

Bond will be set at $35,000 when police find Ayala, who was living in East Hartford, but might have fled to New York City.

If you see Ayala or have information on his whereabouts, please call Detective Otero at 860-757-4232 or Detective Lewis at 860-757-4186. 

A Peek at Peeps


Pennsylvania-based Just Born, Inc. plans to produce more than 1 billion marshmallow chicks and bunnies this Easter season as Peeps celebrates 60 years. Co-CEO Ross Born gives us an inside look at the factory.

Photo Credit: AP

Fox Exec May Have Been Killed Soon After Disappearing


The discovery of a Mercedes driven by a missing Fox executive when he disappeared 10 months ago has led police to reclassify the case as a homicide and link it to a drug dealer previously identified as a person of interest.

A black Mercedes Benz 420E registered to Gavin Smith was recovered at a storage facility in Simi Valley on Feb. 21, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department announced Thursday.

Smith, 57, was last seen driving the car from a friend's home in the Oak Park area at the western end of Los Angeles on May 1 between 9 and 10 p.m.

Investigators believe Smith was murdered within a week of his disappearance. His body has not been recovered.

"The family of Gavin Smith is grateful to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department for its unending work on his disappearance," said Smith's widow Lisa in a statement. "We are both saddened and heartened by the discovery of this crucial evidence, and know that the sheriff's department will help us acquire a measure of justice."

The storage facility has been linked to John Creech, who is currently in custody at Men's Central Jail on an unrelated narcotics conviction, detectives said.

Creech was previously named a person of interest in the case, and his home was searched on June 8, 2012. Creech has not been charged in Smith's disappearance.

A member of a championship UCLA basketball team in 1975, Smith worked in media distribution for Fox. He also struggled with substance abuse.

Smith met Creech's wife, Chandrika, in rehab, authorities said.

Anyone with information about the case was asked to call homicide detectives.

"They specifically want to know if anybody saw this Mercedes Benz go from Porter Ranch to Simi Valley around May 8, May 9," department spokesman Steve Whitmore said.

Hondas Being Stolen Throughout New Haven


Police in New Haven have seen an increase in the theft of Hondas around the city.

Lisandra Granados knows all too well that Hondas are a hot pick among car thieves.  Her Honda was stolen from in front of her house on Chapel Street.

“When I wake up in the morning to go to work, I'm looking and my car is gone,” said Granados.

Fortunately for her, authorities were able to find her Honda and return it to her in pretty good condition.

“Lot of scratches, but thank God they don't steal the motor, transmission, nothing like that,” said Granados.

In the past month, ten Hondas have been stolen across New Haven.  Some of the thefts happened in downtown, over on Long Wharf and in the city's Hill section.

Former police chief and University of New Haven Professor John DeCarlo says for years, Hondas have been the most popular stolen cars.  He says there are a few reasons for that.  First, there are simply more Hondas on the road.

“Secondly, they're good cars, they last longer, and that puts older cars without the benefit of the technology that we put in cars in the 2000's on the road, and more prone to being stolen because they're easier to steal,” said DeCarlo.

The 1997 Accord and 1998 Civic top the National Insurance Crime Bureau's list for Connecticut.  Honda parts also have a good resale value, which makes them enticing for thieves to steal and take apart. 

There are things the NICB says you can do to make your car less enticing, like removing your keys, locking your doors and parking in a well-lit area.  Also, you can invest in warning devices like car alarms, immobilizing devices like a steering wheel club, or install tracking devices inside your vehicle to help track it down if it's taken.  All good tips that drivers like Granados now listen to.

“What I do is I put my car alarm and I put a full coverage just in case something happens again like that,” said Granados.

Border Patrol Sees 70 Percent Spike in Assaults


Activity and assaults against federal agents patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border have increased. Now, one field agent tells NBC 7 San Diego that agents from other parts of the country are being called in to help patrol.

Jerry Conlin with U.S. Border Patrol said the agency saw a 70 percent increase in assaults against U.S. Border Patrol agents last year over the previous year.

"In 2011, we actually recorded 77 assaults against our agents," Conlin said. "Last year we had 133."

There have been another two assaults this week on agents patrolling in the San Diego, Calif., region alone.

On Monday, a U.S. Border Patrol agent was struck twice in the face by a man intercepted near Otay Mountain. The suspect was eventually taken into custody and faces charges of assault on a federal agent.

Then Tuesday, about a mile west of the San Ysidro crossing, an agent spotted four people jump the fence. When the agent arrested one of the men, the other three jumped back over the fence.

“As he was placing this individual under arrest, the three individuals started throwing rocks from south of the fence," Conlin said.

"Rock throwing is probably the most common form of assaults," he said.

While rocks are the most common weapon, agents need only remember back to 2009, when Agent Robert Rosas was ambushed and shot to death by a group trying to steal his night vision goggles.

Conlin says a week with two separate assaults on agents is a reminder to all of them.

"Anytime we see assaults go up, it's just a reminder of how dangerous it is and how we always have to be aware of our surroundings and protect our fellow agents," Conlin said.

NBC 7 San Diego spoke with one field agent working near the border Wednesday night who said there has been a lot of activity near the San Ysidro border crossing lately.

So much so, he said, that they're calling in agents from other parts of the county to patrol here.

Hazmat Crews Respond to Ellington Home


A hazmat situation forced the evacuation of a home in Ellington Thursday evening, according to officials.

Three people, inside the home on Middle Butcher Road, reported feeling sick after a bottle containing a household solvent or cleaner spilled.

According to a next door neighbor, the homeowner collects several antique bottles.

A spokesman from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said no one was transported to the hospital and the incident appears to be minor.






4 Injured After LED Display Fell at Ultra Site


Four people were injured, two critically, after a LED display that hung from a stage fell at the site of the Ultra Music Festival Thursday night, Miami Fire-Rescue said.

Two workers were trapped after the lighting display fell in Bayfront Park, while debris hit another person, Miami Fire-Rescue spokesman Lt. Ignatius Carroll said.

Firefighters were able to free the trapped people and rushed them to Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center, where they are in critical condition, Carroll said.

Ultra Music Festival Road Changes

He said the LED display crashed at about 7:50 p.m. on the stage at the south end of the park. It is one of two main stages for the festival, which is scheduled to begin Friday.

One witness described the display as an approximately 30-foot-long rectangular video monitor that was suspended under the red “U” above the stage.

Authorities initially reported that a stage collapsed.

Ultra Music Festival Expanding to 2 Weekends

Construction was almost complete on the stage where the incident occurred, but all operations were halted there Thursday night.

“And right now we’re going to suspend any of the building on that stage until daylight, where we can be out here with structural engineers, OSHA as well, and then the fire marshal’s staff, to make sure that this stage and all the other stages are going to be safe for the Ultra Fest," Carroll said.

One person who was injured refused treatment on the scene, Capt. Bill Christopher, a dispatcher with Miami Fire-Rescue, told NBC News.

PHOTOS: An Ultra Weekend

The 2013 festival is due to begin Friday, with its first weekend running through Sunday, to be followed by a second weekend Friday, March 22 through Sunday, March 24.

More Local Stories:


New Canaan School Under Heightened Security


A school in New Canaan was under heightened security Thursday afternoon after an unknown threat, according to police.

Police responded to Saxe Middle School at around 1:30 p.m.

According to Mary Kolek,  the superintendent for the New Canaan Public Schools, a staff member at the school found information inside the building that was considered potentially threatening in nature.

The New Canaan police conducted an investigation and the school was placed on precautionary lockdown, said Kolek.

After a thorough search, police deemed the school to be safe and secure. Classes will resume Friday.



Women Will Get $40,000 for Truck Shot by Police


The Los Angeles City Attorney's office has reached an agreement to pay two newspaper delivery women $40,000 for the loss of their truck, which was shot up by police in a case of mistaken identity during the search for ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner.

The Los Angeles Police Department had said it planned to replace the mother-daughter pair's truck, which was shot at more than 100 times while they delivered newspapers in Torrance, according to the women's attorney.

But the women were told they would need to pay income taxes on the value of the truck after a private donor got an involved — and 71-year-old Emma Hernandez and daughter Margie Carranza refused that offer.

Details on the "property agreement" with Hernandez and Carranza to compensate them for the truck were announced at a 3 p.m. press conference by LA City Attorney Carmen Trutanich's office. Both Trutanich and the women's attorney, Glen Jonas, were at the event at LA City Hall.

The attorneys said the women will get a check for $40,000 for the value of the truck, and they will not have to pay attorney's fees or income taxes on the amount. Jonas will not be compensated for his work related to the truck.

The agreement releases both sides from liability for the property loss, and it allows the truck to be used by the city as evidence until it's no longer needed. Then the seriously damaged truck will be returned to the women.

The money will come out of the city's general fund.

Trutanich said he believed the agreement was a "fair resolution." Earlier in the week, he had said he wanted to find a way to compensate them for the truck, calling it a "no-brainer."

"It's going to be handled competently, it's going to be handled appropriately and in the best interests of the city of Los Angeles," said Trutanich, who faces reelection on May 21, on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Trutanich's office is examining a demand letter over the shooting sent by Jonas. The letter asks for compensation related to the shooting beyond to the value of the truck.

"I don't understand how they survived," Jonas said last month. "They're grappling with a lot of issues — the fact that they were almost killed by the police."

On Thursday, he said he's hopeful that the city and his clients can come to an agreement — based on the ease with which compensation for the truck was worked out.

"I'm pleased to have it done; my clients are pleased to have it done. Everybody gets to move forward, put this incident as far as the donation was concerned, behind us, and get down to business," Jonas said.

"If we don't, we do what lawyers do. We go to trial," Jonas said during the news conference.

The women were shot at Feb. 7 when they drove their blue Toyota Tacoma in the dark, early morning hours toward the Torrance home of one of the police officials who was under protection because of threats in an angry manifesto posted online by Dorner, who was later killed after an extensive manhunt.

Hernandez was shot in the back and still suffers from nerve pain, Jonas said.

Photo Credit: AP

Crooks Steal ATM from Glastonbury Bank


Glastonbury Police are looking for the crooks who stole an ATM from a bank on Sunday morning.

According to investigators, the ATM was yanked from the back of TD Bank on Hebron Avenue. It had since been replaced.

“It's a little violating, I would say,” said Steve Harrington, who owns the property. 

The culprits showed up at the bank at 1 a.m.on  Sunday, when no one was around. 

“You would like to think you live in a nice town and that kind of stuff doesn’t happen,” Harrington said.

Authorities said the group had a plan. 

They stole a pay loader from a construction site nearby and used it to pry the machine away from the wall, police said.

The crooks then hauled it off in a dump truck that was stolen from a nearby business owner, who happens to be friend of Steve Harrington’s. 

“You think, 'God, what do I gotta do to protect my stuff from being stolen?'” Harrington said.

Police found the ATM at a landfill in Hartford the next day and said the thieves used some heavy equipment at the site to smash it open and steal the cash.

“I don’t know how much money they got away with, but I hope it was worth it,” Harrington said. 

Surveillance cameras by the bank caught the crime.  On Thursday it was a matter of figuring out who was responsible.

“The evidence is mounting against them. I think they would be wise to fess up and turn themselves in,” Harrington said.

If you have any information about the incident or saw anything suspicious on Hebron Avenue early Sunday morning, call Glastonbury Police at 860-633-8301.

Town Leader Asks for Boy Scout Ban


The Boy Scouts nearly ran into a roadblock when they asked the board of selectmen in Orange to use fairgrounds for a camp-out in June.  One member asked for a ban because of the Scouts' national policy of excluding gay Scout members and leaders.

"We're not against the Boy Scouts, we're against what's being said to them from their national leaders," said Mitch Goldblatt, who said he wanted to make a point that he's against the policy.

"And if we don't stand up, if we don't start at some level and say, 'This is wrong,' the message won't get through," Goldblatt, a former Cub Scout himself, said. 

He was impassioned enough to make a motion to deny the Boy Scouts access to the town fairgrounds for their June prep event.

"Our children are taught diversity in the school, yet when they walk out of the school and they go to the Scouts, they're taught anything but diversity with this kind of policy," Goldblatt said.

James Zeoli, first selectman for the town of Orange, said the Boy Scouts have used the fields before as well as a community center and they've never had problems.

"While I understand Selectman Goldblatt's position, you're penalizing the children who participate in a program who are not the corporate leaders of the scouting association," Zeoli said. 

NBC Connecticut reached out to the Connecticut Yankee Council. but no one got back to us.

"It's really great to be able to provide a location for the kids that is safe," Zeoli said.

This controversy comes two months before the Boy Scout's national board meeting, where leadership is polling its members on the possibility of reversing its policy to exclude gay scouts. A recent Quinnipiac poll shows 55 percent of Americans say they should drop the ban.

"But I still felt it was time to stand up on principle and that principle was very important," Goldblatt said.

The measure passed 5-1 on Wednesday night, allowing the Scouts to continue to use the fairgrounds.

Goldblatt said he's hoping this won't become an issue again once the vote comes back in May.

Photo Credit: AP

Father of Slain Baby to Cooperate With Police, Pastor Says


A 28-year-old father injured in a Monday shooting in Chicago that killed his daughter was released from the hospital Thursday evening and went directly to a police station.

Jonathan Watkins stood silently as Pastor Corey Brooks, who has been acting as the family's spokesman, spoke to reporters outside the 5th District police station shortly after 9:30 p.m. Brooks said Watkins wished to "fully" cooperate with authorities and dispel misinformation that's been reported this week. He didn't offer specifics.

"His wounds haven't even healed yet and he's in a lot of pain and so we're going to go in and whatever the police need to know that he may know, we want to make sure that he fully commits himself to letting them know that," said Brooks.

Police said Jonathan Watkins told them he was changing the diaper on his 6-month-old daughter, Jonylah Watkins, on Monday when someone came up behind him and started shooting. Sources told NBC Chicago on Wednesday police had their doubts about that story.

The girl suffered multiple injuries to her little body and died the morning after the shooting. A medical examiner source told NBC Chicago the damage to her thigh, shoulder, lung live and bowels may have been caused by a single bullet.

Jonathan Watkins, police said, has ties to the Gangster Disciples and has an extensive criminal record. Police records show he's been arrested 39 times and was likely the shooter's intended target. Numerous weapons violations and an attempt to steal his car back from police after it was impounded are among the previous charges against the father.

"He paid for his crime. He's fine with that. We're not trying to hide from that. We're not ducking and dodging from that," Brooks said Thursday night. "But that's not the issue. The issue is a baby got shot and killed and we need everybody to stay on point and stay on focus on what happened."

Jonylah Watkins' funeral has been scheduled for March 19. Brooks said basketball star Derrick Rose has offered to pay for the services.

An $11,000 reward stands for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the shooter.

Pastor: Father Wants to "Fully" Cooperate


Man Accused of Assaulting Teen Due in Court


A man charged with a kidnapping and attempted assault of a teenage girl in Hartford in February is due in court on Friday. 

Hartford police said Shawn Jarrett, 37, of Gillette Street in Hartford, approached a 17-year-old girl who was walking to school around 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 27 and tried to talk with her.

When the girl refused to talk with Jarrett, he grabbed her and dragged her into the laundry room of his residence and tried to assault her, according to police.
The teen struggled with Jarrett and was able to get away when a witness walked into the laundry room, police said.

Police found the victim at Hartford Public High School and she was able to identify Jarrett as the suspect, police said.

Jarett was charged with second-degree kidnapping, second-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree breach of peace.

When he appeared in court on Thursday, he said he was trying to smoke marijuana with the girl and asked to be admitted to a drug detoxification program. 

The judge granted the request and bond was set at $750,000.

Other charges are pending.

Police said Jarrett is a sex offender, but he is not listed on the online Sex Offender Registry for Connecticut or the National Sex Offender Registry.

In December 1995, at the age of 19, he was arrested in Hartford and charged with first-degree sexual assault and unlawful restraint, police said. He was convicted on a lesser sex charge.

News reports from the time said he was accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl in a home in the North End of Hartford.

Attorney William Gerace said defendants typically plead to be on the sex offender registry for only 10 years, as opposed to life, in their negotiations. 

Since Jarrett is not listed on the state or national sex offender registries,there are no apparent restrictions on how close to a school he can be.

Court records also show that he was charged with second-degree unlawful restraint in Windsor in 2010. He was convicted on the charge in 2011 and sentenced to six months in prison.

Skeletal Remains Found in Vernon


Police are investigating the discovery of what appear to be human remains in Vernon.

The skeletal remains were found on Wednesday in the area of 126 West Street on land that once served as the Rockville landfill.  Police said they believe the remains are human.

Adam Viens, of Vernon, was walking through the woods near his home looking for scrap metal when he found what he believes was a human skull.

"I was tracking through the woods to get some materials for a sculpture and happened to go down to where the brook was --look over and see --it seemed fake at first so not thinking much of it, I picked it up," Viens said.  "It had fillings in the teeth.  Pretty scary."

State police cadaver dogs were being used Thursday to search the area of West Street near South Street, according to police. 

"They had me show where that happened and they sort of marked it off and had someone sit and watch and make sure nothing got tampered with overnight," Viens said.

Investigators are still trying to determine if there is a criminal aspect to their investigation, police said. 

They have not released any information on how long the remains have been there.

"I have three kids and it just kind of freaks me out," said Derrah Nelson, who lives across the street from where the remains were discovered.

People in the area fear the remains could be one of three girls who disappeared in the 1960's and 1970's and have never been found.

Lisa White, from Vernon, lived near the scene and disappeared in November 1974, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Janice Pockett, of Tolland, was last seen in July 1973, according to the N.C.M.E.C.

Deborah Spickler disappeared in Vernon back in July 1968, according to the N.C.M.E.C.

"It's really too early to speculate about anything at this time so it's just an active and ongoing investigation," said Lt. William Meier, of the Vernon Police Department.

Authorities expect to be on the scene for a few days collecting evidence in the case.

"It's unbelievable.  We used to go down there all the time and play as kids," said Ashley Viens, who's brother discovered the remains.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut/Debra Bogstie

5 Injured in Ceiling Collapse at UConn Health Center


Five workers were injured after a ceiling on the fourth floor of a lab building on the UConn Health Center campus in Farmington collapsed Thursday.

The workers were doing demolition as part of a renovation project when the ceiling came down on them, according to a UConn Health Center spokesperson.

UConn police and fire crews and a Farmington fire crew responded to the scene.

"There were no patients, no researchers, no UConn Health Center employees were here," said Chris DeFrancesco.

The injured workers were taken to the emergency room at the John Dempsey Hospital at the UConn Health Center.  The injuries appear to be non life-threatening, officials said.  Four of the workers were released from the hospital Wednesday evening. 

Researchers on lower floors were not affected by the accident.

"The floors below are lab work.  Those are active spaces.  That's all continuing.  There will be no more construction or demolition work until further notice," DeFrancesco said.

Wiese Construction is the contractor performing the demolition work at the site.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut/Liz Dahlem

Car Fire Slows Traffic on Route 5, Orange


Traffic is backing up on Route 15 South in Orange because of a car fire between exits 57 and 58.

Traffic is backed up to the West Rock Tunnel.

Pope Stumbles in Front of Cardinals


The new elected Pope Francis held an audience in Rome's St. Peter's Basilica on Friday morning, paying tribute to his predecessor Benedict XVI. As he stepped off the alter to greet the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Francis had a slight misstep and stumbled. He immediately recovered. Francis is set to be installed as pope on Tuesday.

Firefighters Respond to Commercial Building in Rocky Hill


The Rocky Hill Fire Department responded to 400 Capitol Boulevard to investigate smoke in the building Friday morning.

The commercial building houses several businesses.

According to fire officials, there was a light smoke condition in the building and the odor of something burning.  Firefighters were still trying to determine the cause of the smoke and people were being kept out of the building as a precaution.

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