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Shots Fired at Central Florida Mall: Police


Authorities in Florida are responding to reports of gunfire Saturday morning at a mall in Melbourne, police said.

Witnesses said the shooting happened in the food court, where at least two people were injured, NBC affiliate WESH reported.

Melbourne Police confirmed in a Tweet that there was a shooting inside Melbourne Square mall after 9 a.m. ET.

Police said in a tweet before 10:40 a.m. ET  the shooter was contained and that they are clearing the mall store by store.

Cathy Wright, who works at the Starbucks in the food court, told NBC News that she heard "about three or four gunshots" in "rapid succession." Mall security told her, another employee, and two customers to stay in the store, Wright said.

This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: Jeff Gross

Preventing Fires in Hartford


Fire is the most imminent disaster threatening American families, according to the American Red Cross.

So, the organization is teaming up with Hartford firefighters and HOPE Worldwide on Saturday to canvas Hartford neighborhoods and share information with residents about fire safety.

"Home fires are a common and deadly threat because they happen so quickly," American Red Cross Connecticut Chapter Senior Director of Community Preparedness Stacey Hafen said in a statement. "We urge everyone to become aware of what they should do to prevent a fire in their home."

One way to prevent fatalities or injuries in the event of a fire is to have a working smoke detector. Only about 77 percent of homes nationwide have a smoke alarm installed, according to the Red Cross.

Hafen recommends being careful when using candles and space heaters, which are common items that can be fire hazards.

Volunteers will be walking door to door in the Asylum Hill neighborhood to talk to residents about preventing fires and safety tips, as well as installing free smoke detectors that don't have a functioning smoke alarm.

The Red Cross gives the following fire safety tips:

  • Keep possible flammable items at least three feet from sources of heat like stoves or heaters.
  • Don't smoke in bed.
  • If you have a portable heater, turn it off before you go to bed or leave the room.
  • Install a smoke detector in every bedroom and change the batteries every year.
  • Make an escape plan and choose a safe meeting place outside.

Man Had Pot in Driver's Seat in DUI Checkpoint: PD


A 29-year-old East Hartford man passing through a DUI check point in Hartford was arrested when police found a gift bag containing marijuana resting in between his legs, police said.

Hartford police officers saw a red and white gift bag in Michael Lawrence's lap when he went through the DUI checkpoint at Garden Street and Capen Street and discovered plastic bags inside of green plant-like substances, police said. The plant tested positive for having a presence of marijuana.

The total weight of the marijuana seized weighed 1 pound, 8 ounces and 3.5 grams, police said. Police also found $1,620 in his black Infiniti Q50.

The DUI checkpoint was highly publicized, police said.

Police charged Lawrence with possession of more than four ounces of marijuana and possession within 1,500 feet of a school zone.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

1 Arrested, 1 At Large in Heroin Bust


Hartford police have one person in custody after seizing thousands of bags of heroin in a recent drug factory bust and are searching for another party involved.

After executing a search warrant, Hartford police seized 4,500 bags of heroin, more than 28 grams of raw heroin, more than $10,000 in cash and three guns.

Police arrested one individual on heroin and drug factory charges and another person involved is at large, police said.

The name of the person arrested hasn't been released at this time.

More information will be provided when it becomes available.

Photo Credit: Hartford Police Department

Scotland Firefighter Suspended After Arrest


A Scotland, Connecticut volunteer firefighter has been suspended following his recent arrest.

Firefighter David Trudeau was "suspended in full" effective Jan. 14 and will remain on suspension until a state police criminal investigation is completed.

"Mr. Trudeau is not permitted to respond to emergency calls, attend department events, or represent the Scotland Volunteer Fire Department during this suspension," according to the Scotland Volunteer Fire Department.

More information was not immediately available on the nature of his arrest. Check back for updates.

Man Shot in Hartford


A man was hospitalized after he was shot in Hartford early Saturday morning.

Hartford police responded to reports of shots fired at 1166 Albany Ave. at about 12:48 a.m. on Saturday and found a man with a gunshot wound in his right torso, police said.

The victim told police he was shot during a robbery.

An ambulance transported him to St. Francis Hospital to treat him for a non-life-threatening injury.

Major crimes and crime scene detectives responded and the case remains under investigation.

No arrests have been made at this time.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

New Haven Firefighter to Be Laid to Rest


A longtime New Haven firefighter will be laid to rest on Saturday after she was unresponsive on the ground near her home.

Dozens of firefighters and police are expected at Beluah Heights church in New Haven to pay their respects for Linda Cohens, 50, who was a dedicated firefighter and friend to many. She had been with the New Haven Fire Department for 17 years.

A neighbor found Cohens unresponsive outside of her Hamden home last weekend, police said. Cohens died later at the hospital of a head injury.

Firefighters said she'll be deeply missed as a friend and mentor.

"I just said to myself, why her, why anybody, but particularly, why her?" New Haven Fire Chief Allyn Wright said. "She was a loving, caring spirit, who would give the shirt off her back and help anybody."

Her wake is scheduled for 8 a.m., followed by the funeral service at 9:30 a.m.

Cop Rocks Out to Taylor Swift


At least one Delaware police officer knows how to shake off the stress of the job! A patrol car dashcam caught a nearly 20-year veteran of the force lip-syncing and head bopping to Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off."

The video, posted by the Dover Police Department to YouTube, shows Master Cpl. Jeff Davis enthusiastically singing along to the pop star's hit single -- his performance punctuated by eye rolls and sassy hand gestures.

"My ex-man brought his new girlfriend... But I'm just gonna shake and to the fella over there with the hella good hair, won't you come on over baby we could shake, shake," mouthed clean-shaven Davis as he fluffed his imaginary locks.

The department made the video, which police leaders said is meant to humanize officers, live Friday and it has already been viewed more than 150,000 times.

Watch the full sing-along below. 

Photo Credit: Dover Police Department

Young Golf Whiz a Viral Video Star


Matty Du Plessis, 11, of Quechee, Vermont, hopes to develop his fame as both a serious golfer and a creator of golf-related viral videos.

"My best round is whatever I shoot tomorrow, but my lowest round was 64 so far," Du Plessis told New England Cable News, adding he'd like to one day be a PGA pro.

The homeschooler said he first picked up a club at 2 years old. Today, he said he plays with his dad, Lee, whenever he can, practicing as many as eight hours a day in the summer. Du Plessis said he once played 108 holes of golf in one day.

"I think about what I want to do behind the ball and then hit," he added, describing his approach to each swing.

On the side, Du Plessis puts together golf videos and photos, sharing them on YouTube, Vine, and Instagram, using the handle "MD_18undapar." They include a putt in which he sinks two balls with a single stroke, and another putt in which he makes a stroke between his feet while casually walking across the green.

In a rap video called "Stop, Drop, and Make a 12 Foota," the 11-year-old tells the camera about how he crisscrosses the world making 12-foot putts, even down the aisle of an airplane. "I try to make stuff that'll entertain people, but it's still golf," Du Plessis said.

The young golfer, who practices in the winter at a friend's indoor hitting area in Claremont, New Hampshire, told NECN he is now focusing on one really specific number: 18 under par. He explained he wants to birdie each hole on a course, in order, in a single round of play.

"I don't want to just shoot 18-under-par on one course, one time--shoot it once and then you're done," Du Plessis said. "No. Shoot it many times on all the best courses in the world."

While Du Plessis was demonstrating his drive for NECN, a TrackMan golf device estimated many of his drives at nearly 200 yards. Many were hit straight, or several feet off-center, according to the device's estimates witnessed by NECN.

Even when he makes a bad stroke, which of course does happen, Du Plessis said he tries his best to remain positive about the game that can be frustrating. "You hit a bad shot? Fine," Du Plessis said. "But the more positive you are, the less your misses will become."

Asked if he has ever heard of a PGA pro scoring 18-under-par in a single round of golf, Du Plessis said, "I don't think so; not yet."

And asked if he will be the first, the 11-year-old beamed, "Sure hope so!" 

Photo Credit: NECN

House Fire in Ellington


Crews are responding to a house fire in Ellington

The blaze broke out at a home on Webster Road.

No further information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Fire at Linen Business


A fire broke out at a linen service company in Stratford late Friday night.

Stratford firefighters responded to General Linen Service at 895 Woodend Road just after 10 p.m. Friday to investigate a reported fire alarm activating.

Firefighters observed smoke when they arrived and discovered a fire engulfing large bins of linens that were recently cleaned, according to Stratford Deputy Chief Brian Lampart, who is also Stratford's fire marshal.

Crews put out the blaze and kept it contained to the building before it could spread to the structure, he said.

No one was injured.

This is not the first fire at General Linen Service. There have been multiple fires at the business, including one in 2000 that destroyed the building, Lampart said.

The Stratford fire marshal's office is investigating.

Child's Body Found in Freezer


A child's dead body was found in a freezer inside a home on the Barona Indian Reservation in California that was the scene of a SWAT standoff Friday.

Deputies discovered the child's body buried beneath frozen food in a freezer inside the garage, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

Just after noon Friday, deputies received a 911 call from a woman who said her child was dead at a home in the 1500 block of Quincy Canyon Road. Not long after that, a Barona Tribal Enforcement officer received a call to the same address for an attempted suicide.

Once he arrived at the home, the officer found a 32-year-old man, who walked back inside the home after speaking with the officer.

That's when a gunshot rang out, investigators say.

The man's girlfriend soon came out of the house, carrying a shotgun. She dropped the gun as she walked along the dirt road nearby and then hid in some bushes.

A SWAT standoff ensued, with armored SWAT vehicles, fire engines and medical crews lining up on the street outside a home at Dump Road and Quincy Canyon. Canine units were also on the scene.

When deputies finally entered the home, they found the woman's boyfriend dead with a gunshot wound to his chest.

Officials arrested 32-year-old Elaina Rose Welch on two counts of murder. She was booked into the Las Colinas Detention Facility. 

'It appears at this time she did shoot him. It's just a matter of determining what caused that or if there was any circumstances behind that," said Sheriff's Lt. John Maryon.

The woman's aunt confirmed her niece does have a 3-year-old son.

"It's tragic, and if what we believe happened actually happened, it's going to be absolutely devastating," Maryon said.

The San Diego County Medical Examiner has not released either victims' identities or their causes of death.

Barona Charter School was locked down at 1:20 p.m. and students were released to their parents at 2:30 p.m., an hour after normal Friday dismissal time, sheriff's officials said. One student said they were locked down inside their classrooms for 10 minutes before being moved to the gym.

Wildcat Canyon Road was reportedly closed at Founders Way, and another closure was reported at San Vicente Road. Dump Road was also closed at Wildcat Canyon Road.

Homicide detectives continue to investigate. Welch is scheduled to appear in court Thursday.

Baby Set on Fire Dies, Mom Charged


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

A New Jersey mother is accused of burning her newborn baby to death.

Hyphernkemberly Dorvilier, 22, of Pemberton Township, New Jersey, is charged with one count of murder after she allegedly doused her newborn daughter with an accelerant and then set the child on fire.

Pemberton Township Police officers were called to Simontown Road just before 11 p.m. Friday after a resident reported a fire in the roadway. When they arrived, they found the baby girl on fire and quickly doused the flames.

Davis Joseph said he saw Dorvilier set her baby girl on fire.

"She said it was poop," Joseph said. "She said her dog pooped in her car and she was burning the poop on the side of the road."

Joseph told NBC10 he realized moments later however that what was on fire was actually an infant with the umbilical cord still attached.

"My wife heard the baby scream," Joseph said. "And then I slammed the door shut. She tried to run for it. Then I put her to the ground. That's when we saw it was a baby." 

Dorvilier denied the child was hers, according to Joseph.

"It's disheartening, like a nightmare what I saw out there," Joseph said.

The baby was airlifted to Saint Christopher's Hospital in Philadelphia around 11:15 p.m. and was still alive and breathing. She died from her injuries two hours later however.

After investigators determined Dorvilier was responsible for her child's death, she was taken into custody at the scene of the crime. She was lodged in the Burlington County Corrections and Work Release Center in Pemberton Township on $500,000 bail.

"It's a tragedy," said Robert Cannon, a Pemberton resident. "I'm a parent, [to] a newborn too, actually. I can't imagine doing that to a newborn or an adult." 

Authorities say Dorvilier could have dropped the infant off at a police station or hospital anonymously as part of New Jersey's safe haven law.

"It's a crazy world," said Mount Holly Fire Company Lieutenant Nick Allen. "I wish she would have taken better action on it, dropped her off at a hospital or fire company, called the state or police department to take care of the baby." 

Strangers created a memorial for the unnamed baby girl with flowers and teddy bears.

An autopsy on the baby will be performed by the Burlington County Medical Examiner. The details on the girl's birth are under investigation.

Photo Credit: Burlington County Prosecutor's Office

Natural Gas Leak Reported in Bloomfield


Bloomfield firefighters are at the site of a possible gas leak.

A natural gas leak was reported at 20 Wedgewood Drive in Bloomfield on Saturday at about 4 p.m., according to the fire department.

No one has been reported injured.

Goats Seized From Farm, Over 30 Found Dead


Half a herd of goats was already dead at a Cornwall farm when Department of Agriculture official arrived Friday to take them away in an investigation about them being mistreated.

The other half of surviving goats in a herd of 74 at Butterfield Farm Co. have been taken to an animal rehabilitation facility at York Correctional in Niantic, according to Raymond Connors, supervisor of the Animal Control Division of the state Department of Agriculture.

That was after a search and seizure warrant naming West Suffield resident Tara Bryson, 40, who operates the farm, was executed, the Republican-American reported. The warrant stems from an investigation into reports that the goats were mistreated, the newspaper reported.

It's unclear whether any charges have been filed at this time.

The state judicial website lists a Tara Ann Bryson, 40, with a 2011 conviction out of Danbury Superior Court for possession of a controlled substance or under four ounces of marijuana and use of drug paraphernalia. That stems from an arrest in July 2010 by the statewide narcotics task force. The state Department of Agriculture could not confirm whether it's the same person named in the search and seizure warrant on the farm.

NYPD Chief Dead After Cancer Battle


A deputy police chief who worked at Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks died Saturday from a rare form of blood cancer, the NYPD said.

Deputy Chief Steven Bonano was diagnosed with cancer after serving as one of the first responders to the 9/11 site. The NYPD declined to say whether his cancer was linked to the site.

Bonano, 53, was a 30-year veteran of the force and was awarded the Police Combat Cross, the department's second-highest honor.

Bonano was born in the Bronx and had earned a master's degree at Harvard.

Thousands Protest Muslim Conference


Thousands of protesters and counter-protesters held American flags and signs outside of a Muslim conference in Garland, Texas on Saturday night.

"We're here to stand up for the American way of life from a faction of people who are trying to destroy us," a man protesting the conference said.

The demonstrations began hours before the start of the program at the Curtis Culwell Center, which is operated by the Garland Independent School District.

The conference is titled “Stand With the Prophet Against Terror and Hate” and bills itself as a fundraiser to build a center dedicated to teaching Muslims how to combat negative depictions of their faith.

"They want for people to see that we are kind, peaceful people," a Muslim woman at the conference said. "We're not here to fight, we're not here to argue. We're just here to show that we're Americans too."

Because of safety and protest concerns, the organizers asked for extra security.

“This is one of several cultural and religious-based groups and events that we have there at the center,” Chris Moore, Garland ISD spokesperson told NBC DFW on Friday. “And we’re going to keep that open to them. This is a non-discriminatory facility.”

The conference and protests come a little over a week after Islamic militants stormed the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people, including the magazine's top editor.

Photo Credit: Catherine Ross, NBC 5 News

Volleyball Tournament Draws Thousands to Hartford


 The 2015 Mizuno New England Winterfest Volleyball Tournament is taking place this weekend in Hartford and organizers say it will pump more than $3-million into the area economy.

It’s taking place Friday through Monday at the Connecticut Convention Center.

The event is for girls ages 12 to 18 and they come from clubs all over the region.

“We chose Hartford because we thought it really suited us location wise,” says Alex Temkin, Tournament Director.

Coaches, friends, and families come too and they all add up to big numbers of visitors to Harford.

“10,000 visitors, 2,000 players, roughly 200 teams here all through the Northeast,” says Bob Murdock, Director of Sports Marketing at the Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau.

Murdock says the tournament-goers spend a lot of money, more than three-million dollars, whether at vendors or in the community.

“Out staying in hotels, spending money in restaurants, using services throughout the capitol region,” says Murdock.

The event is so popular it filled up on opening day for registration and organizers opened up a second location.

The tournament plans to be back for at least a couple more years.

“Hartford has been an incredible, incredible host,” says Temkin.

If you want to watch, best of all, it’s free for spectators.

100+ Animals Die in Pet Store Fire


Firefighters evacuated animals from a smoking pet store at the base of a Koreatown apartment building Saturday morning, but couldn't save all of them, officials said.

One dog, about 20 birds and 100 fish died amid heavy smoke at Western Pets at 6th Street and Western Avenue, according to Los Angeles Fire Department officials.

Finches, cockatiels, parakeets, parrots and one English bulldog were lost in the fire, Battalion Chief Jamie Moore said.

The 8:20 a.m. fire was confined to the store, the Los Angeles Fire Department tweeted. No injuries to people living above the store were reported in the three-story apartment building, which was being flooded with smoke.

Animals were evacuated by firefighters, according to the tweet.

The fire was put out just before 9 a.m., 36 minutes after it was reported, the department tweeed, but a spokeswoman said animals were still being taken out of the store after the flames were extinguished. Forty-one firefighters battled the blaze.

Fire officials requested animal control workers come help shelter the animals.

Photo Credit: Jorge Diaz

Murder Suspect Arrested Overseas


A suspect in a 2012 Boston murder has arrived in New York after being arrested in the Dominican Republic, officials confirmed Saturday.

Peter Castillo, 26, formerly of Salem, Massachusetts, was indicted in June of 2012 for the fatal shooting of 22-year-old Stephen Perez, an Army veteran from Revere, in the city's Theater District.

Castillo was included in the U.S. Marshals' 15 Most Wanted list late in 2014. According to the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, Boston Police and local authorities helped U.S. Marshals find and arrest him.

In 2012, Castillo was charged with first-degree murder and illegal possession of a firearm.

Two others, 30-year-old Luis Sepleveda and 24-year-old Janice Hardy, were charged with perjury and misleading investigators. They were also indicted in connection to the death. All three are expected to return to court this month, with Castillo expected to be arraigned within a week of his arrival on U.S. soil.

Photo Credit: U.S. Marshals/NECN
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