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Windsor Burglary Suspect May be Linked to Newington Case


Police have arrested the man accused of breaking into storage units in the basement of an apartment building in Windsor and authorities have linked the case to similar burglaries in Newington.

According to police, Jason Epps, 47, was one of two people to target storage units at the Garden Apartments on Windsor Avenue shortly after midnight Monday.

Police said residents caught the culprits in the act. One suspect drove off but Epps ran from the scene on foot. Residents chased him until Windsor police arrived and took him into custody.

Epps has been charged with third-degree burglary, fourth-degree larceny, criminal mischief, possession of burglar's tools and conspiracy to commit fourth-degree larceny.

Police in Newington are investigating similar burglaries and said they have obtained an arrest warrant for a suspect linked to the Windsor case.

Photo Credit: Winsdor Police Department

Catholic Church Says Ashford "Monastery" is a Fake


Up above Seckar Road in Ashford, just north of where the dirt turns back into pavement, sits a spread of buildings complete with Christian cross and religious statue.

Signs at the bottom of the driveway says Our Lady of Mount Caritas is a monastery built "in the rule and spirit of St. Benedict" and "affiliated with the old Roman Catholic Church."

But the Catholic church says Mount Caritas is not a monastery and never was.

Nearly four years ago, the Bishop of Norwich told his Roman Catholic parishioners in eastern Connecticut that Mount Caritas was not sanctioned by the Catholic church and the women who live there aren't really nuns.

Tomorrow, Mount Caritas has an appointment in Appellate Court, seeking to overturn a $270,000 judgment against it.

The winner, Janet Wagner, had donated $200,000 to Caritas just before the bishop's letter. The lower court found Mount Caritas had swindled Wagner by pretending to be a legitimate Catholic establishment.

Most people in Ashford know Mount Caritas only by its signs, although though according to the town government's tax collector, the facility pays no property tax because it has been deemed a religious institution.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Mall Fights in Meriden Prompt Higher Police Presence


Police are stepping up patrols at the Westfield Shopping Center in Meriden in light of three recent fights that have shoppers in edge.

According to Meriden councilman Kevin Scarpati, police met with city officials and mall representatives Wednesday to address neighbors' concerns.

Since Dec. 20, police have dealt with three bouts of violence involving both teens and adults.

Scarpati said data from the past three years indicates no significant uptick in mall fights but officials are fighting the perception that the shopping center is unsafe.

Westfield already hires an officer to work four hours Friday nights, the busiest time of the week, and will commission two more policemen from the Neighborhood Initiative Unit to spend 15 percent of their shifts at the mall, Scarpati said.

The extra officers will spend two months on the job, at which point officials will reassess to see if their presence is making a difference.

They could start as early as next week and come at no additional cost to the city, according to Scarpati.

Officials will address mall safety at a public safety meeting next month.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Pilot Program Aimed at Trimming College Debt


Some Democratic lawmakers are backing a new program designed to help recent college find jobs, provide incentives to employers who hire them and offer student loan debt relief.

“Lots of other state programs have failed and this is an attempt to do something different” said State Sen. Steve Cassano, a Democrat representing Glastonbury.

The pilot program called Serve Here Connecticut would start with a pot of $300,000, half of which would come from the state and the other half from matching donations. Fifteen participants would be selected from a pool of applicants to work in state government, local government or non-profit jobs.

Each recent college graduate would then receive $10,000 toward student loan debt, or toward furthering their education in the form of a scholarship. Participating employers would each receive $10,000 to offset the program participants' salaries.

"We wanted to create a program that would offer jobs to unemployed and under-employed millennials and would also offer assistance to the employers who are hiring them,” explained Alva Greenberg, one of the creators of Serve Here Connecticut.

Lawmakers have already filed legislation to create the program. Despite concerns that $150,000 might be tough to secure in light of projected shortfalls for the next two fiscal years, Democrats remain optimistic.

"We're not asking for a lot of money here. I obviously know we have a big deficit with this budget. I know it's not really hard and really solid with what we're dealing with but this is not that much money," said State Rep. David Alexander, of Enfield.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Dashcam Captures NJ Police Shooting


A dashcam video released Tuesday shows the moments leading up to and following a deadly police-involved shooting of 36-year-old Jerame Reid in Bridgeton, New Jersey.

In the video, captured the around 9:20 p.m. on Dec. 30, 2014 police officers in Bridgeton, New Jersey can be seen opening fire on Reid after they pulled over a Jaguar at South Avenue and Henry Street.

Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae said Bridgeton police officers Braheme Days and Roger Worley both shot one of two people who were in the stopped Jaguar.

On Tuesday, the South Jersey Times obtained dashcam video that shows the shooting and the events leading up to it. In the profanity-laced encounter, police tell Reid to show them his hands and not move.

"If you reach for something you're going to be dead," an officer can be heard saying.

The 5-minute dashcam video video shows officers Worley and Days pulling Reid and the driver, identified as Leroy Tutt, over. Days walks up to the passenger side of the vehicle, where Reid is sitting, and informs the two men they were pulled over because Tutt ran through a stop sign on South Pine Street. Days then asks to see a driver's license.

Suddenly Days pulls out his weapon, points it at Reid and repeatedly screams, "Show me your hands" and "don't move."

Worley runs toward the driver's side of the vehicle with his own weapon raised. Tutt can be seen raising his hands out of the vehicle. It's unclear from the video if Reid is raising his hands as well.

"Get him out the car, Rog," Days tells his partner. "We've got a gun in his glove compartment." 

Days once again tells Reid not to move, opens the door and takes a silver object, which appears to be a gun, out of the car. Days then again repeatedly tells Reid not to move and to show him his hands.

"I'm gonna shoot ya!" Days screams. "You're gonna be f****** dead! I'm telling you! if you reach for something you're gonna be f****** dead! I'm telling you! I'm telling you! Keep your f****** hands right there! Eh, eh, Jerome, if you reach for something you're gonna be f****** dead! He's reaching! He's reaching! Show me your f****** hands!

Reid responds to Days though it's unclear from the video what he's saying.

"No, you're not!" Days responds. "No, you're not! No, you're not! Don't f****** move!" 

Days then backs away with his gun still raised. Reid then gets out of the car and appears to have at least one of his hands raised. He takes a step toward Days, who then opens fire. Worley opens fire as well. At least six shots are heard in the video.

After Reid drops to the ground, the officers tell Tutt to get out of the car and drop to the ground which Tutt does. Several people are then heard shouting in the background as police handcuff Tutt. He was questioned in connection with the deadly altercation but was not charged, authorities said.

Webb-McRae said a handgun "was revealed and later recovered" from the Jaguar. Her office did not return a call or email seeking more details on the shooting.

The officers have since been placed on paid leave, said Bridgeton Police Chief Mark Ott.

The Bridgeton Police Department said Wednesday that it routinely doesn't release dashcam video like this but in this case did because they were legally compelled to due to public records standards.

Before the dashcam video surfaced, witnesses had told NBC10 the scene was chaotic.

"They were telling him, 'Get out the car,'" said one witness. "They was like 'Stop!' and they started shooting."

Tahli Dawkins, who was taking out his recycling at the time of the shooting, told NBC10 he witnessed the altercation and saw nothing in Reid's hands.

"He had his hands up trying to get out of the car, one on the door was getting out like this and he just started shooting him," Dawkins said. 

Reid's friend Shiquera Sierra told NBC10 Days had a reputation in the community before the shooting as a bit of a rogue cop.

"Everybody around here in this community can tell you Braheme Days, one of the cops that shot him, has harassed people and has kicked in people's doors," she said. "We have a video of him macing a man when he was in cuffs."

All complaints against Days were thrown out in court, however.

Reid's widow, Lawanda Reid, hired a law firm in hopes of finding out exactly what transpired the night of her husband's death. She said she planned to have an independent autopsy conducted on her husband as well. 

"We just want answers why this happened," she said. "No one deserves to die like that."

Jerame Reid had a 3-month-old son, according to his cousin Keesha Springs. He was incarcerated last summer for possession of heroin, cocaine, contempt of court and resisting arrest. Days was one of the officers who arrested Reid on the drug charges, according to the South Jersey Times.

The South Jersey Times also reports Reid spent 13 years in state prison for shooting at three New Jersey State Police troopers when he was a teenager.

Springs told NBC10 he was trying to turn his life around. 

"He was a good kid," Springs said. "He had a troubled past, but after that he became a good person. I love my cousin. Everybody has their bad times and he had his bad times. But he was very lovable." 

Photo Credit: NJ.com
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Malloy on Projected Deficit: "We'll Address It"


The Office of Policy and Management projects a fiscal year shortfall of more than $120 million, according to a memo sent from OPM Secretary Benjamin Barnes to Comptroller Kevin Lembo.

When asked about the possible deficit, Gov. Dannel Malloy said he wasn’t concerned about such a small amount inside a much larger budget.

"With the current numbers, we're talking about $121 million out of $20,000 million dollars,” Malloy told reporters. “So we'll manage this just as we've managed other challenges in the past."

The governor and OPM ordered $54 million in cuts toward the end of 2013, but according to the most recent budget estimates, they weren’t enough.

"One, I'm thinking this is not a shocker, two they should have seen this coming,” said State Sen. Len Fasano, Minority Leader of the Connecticut Senate.

Fasano said he wants to sit down with the governor’s staff and Democratic members of the General Assembly to craft a long-term budgeting solution. He said there have to be ways to cut spending that haven’t yet been identified.

"We haven't had a lot of snow. Maybe there's some... some snow removal money we can move over or sand that we can move over that we're not going to spend," he said. "I don't know that. That's what conversations are about."

The governor said he's interested in hearing from the GOP.

"What they should do is you know, sit down and on the back of an envelope tell us what they would cut out of the budget," Malloy said. "I would invite them to do that. That would be wonderful.”

He then added, “I'd love to hear their suggestions. It's not so long ago that they considered eliminating children's vaccinations."

Fasano said with the General Assembly weeks away from hearing the governor’s budget proposals, “it’s time to set partisan politics aside.”

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Boston Bakery Selling "Deflategate" Cookies


A Boston bakery is making light of the New England Patriots' "Deflategate" with deflated football cookies.

The Boston Common Coffee Company baked up batches of the treats after ESPN reported that 11 of the 12 balls the Patriots used in the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts were underinflated.

"Looks like our pastry chef let a little too much air out of these cookies to make them regulation cookies. But come on down and get them before Roger Goodell," it wrote on its Facebook page.

The company's co-owner, Peter Femino, says he had originally conjured up the plan prior to Wednesday's news from the NFL.

"They were made, and I said, 'Let's put them out.' Just like anything else, customers can decide — we aren't forcing people to buy them. We are just making light of a bad situation. It's a sport; it's a game," Femino told Boston Magazine. "I've never been one to brush something under the couch or under the rug."

The company later said it had initially sent a limited supply to each store but was baking more for all its locations after they ran out.

Photo Credit: Brian Messenger

More Jurors Excused From Hernandez Trial


A Judge excused more jurors from the pool in Massachusetts court on Wednesday for the murder trial of former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez.

For Mark Lavita of Attleboro, Massachusetts, seeing Aaron Hernandez Wednesday made him realize the next few months of his life could be this- a Fall River courtroom.

"And then coming here and having him walk into the room, the light went on and said, you know, I could be here for a while," Lavita began.

Lavita is just one of many questioned by the Judge in the high profile murder case, as she continues to find jurors. The Patriots fan says he also took note of how the former New England Patriot looked.

"He's a lot smaller than I thought," Lavita said. "A lot smaller."

Lavita says he's served on a total of six juries in his lifetime, but was dismissed from this one for one reason.

"I'm a single dad, I got two kids, both are in school. Like I said, I just got off a four and a half month layoff, so getting back into work, it's nice to have the check," he explained.

Another juror off the case ironically lives directly across from the Fall River Court House.

"When I actually seen him, he was so big I was like, 'wow,'" said Gail Martins.

And while her impression of Hernandez was much different, the reason she was dismissed, also different.

"I've got a lot of medical problems," Martins explained.

Neither juror says they noticed victim Odin Lloyd's family sitting in the courtroom. Lloyd's mother and family have made their presence known for every day of jury selection.

While Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to Lloyd's murder, Lavita believes most jurors already have an opinion on what happened. He has his opinion- which he won't share- but says if chosen, he could have remained fair.

"I respect the system and I would hope that someone like myself would be on a jury if I did do something like this," he said.

According to the Judge, the last of the jurors will be brought in Thursday and Friday. It is likely the trial will begin next week.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Worker Buried in NYC Rubble Rescued


Firefighters rescued a construction worker who was buried up to his chest in soil when a trench collapsed at a site in downtown Manhattan Wednesday evening, the FDNY said.

The worker was in a pit at a Grand Street site on the Lower East Side when the trench was hit with a pipe and it collapsed, burying the worker up to the chest in soil and rocks, according to FDNY Assistant Chief James Daly. 

He had been down in the pit about 10 to 12 feet for about an hour when the side wall collapsed, Daly said. Colleagues were able to get his head and torso out before rescuers arrived. 

Special command units trained for trench rescue were brought in, said Daly. Pneumatic jacks were used to stabilize the trench, and a compressor truck broke up the soil as a vacuum truck sucked up the dirt. 

Medics hooked up the worker to an IV while he was inside the trench, and gave him pain medication as he waited to be pulled up, according to Daly. 

Chopper 4 over the scene showed dozens of firefighters with a ladder unit retrieving the worker from the soil pit. He was put on a flatbed stretcher, then put on an FDNY ambulance.

He was in critical but stable condition, Daly said. 

A crew had been working on an underground pipe leak at the site, Daly said. 

-- Michael George contributed to this report. 

9th Note Served Fourth Eviction Notice


The show will go on at the 9th Note in New Haven Wednesday night, even after the jazz restaurant was served its fourth eviction notice since Nov. 1.

Owner Christian O'Dowd said the notices cite noise complaints.

“Prior to Nov. 1, I was told by the property management that there were no noise complaints at all, then all of sudden, the police are here every single night. The health department was coming down and doing random meter readings outside. We passed every one,” said O’Dowd.

The eviction notice also alleges the establishment failed to pay rent, a claim O'Dowd disputes.

“I paid the rent. They mailed the check back to me uncashed, and then the next day I got served an eviction notice for non-payment,” he said.

O'Dowd admitted he was late paying some of the rent but said he was trying to work it out with property management. He said he had planned to pay two months in December before he was served with another eviction notice.

The restaurant owner said he thinks something else must be behind the evictions.

“There were four restaurants here before us that failed. And Friday and Saturday of last week, we didn't have a seat open in this place," O'Dowd said. "We're bringing in world-class talent – tonight, the Steve Davis Quintet.”

Fashion designer Neville Wisdom has a shop across the street and frequents 9th Note. He said O'Dowd has put a lot of work into the place, and it would be a major disappointment to see him go.

“It's really become a place where you can really go sit down, have a decent meal – a really good [meal] as a matter of fact – and watch jazz,” said Wisdom.

The restaurant's property manager, The Related Companies, it was looking into the eviction.

Late DC Mayor's Son Turns Self In


The son of the late Marion Barry turned himself in Wednesday to face charges stemming from an angry outburst at a local bank.

Marion Christopher Barry turned himself in at 6 a.m. He was detained for several hours and released Wednesday afternoon.

Barry, who is a candidate in the special election to fill his father's unexpired term, faces three misdemeanor charges: assault, destruction of property and making threats to do bodily harm, according to court documents.

Barry also apologized for the incident Wednesday, saying he is "committed to rise up and carry the torch" of his father's legacy.

"I know that I have a great responsibility as a leader in Ward 8," the apology went on to say.

Last week, Barry cursed a PNC bank teller on 7th Street downtown, after she refused to let him withdraw $20,000 from a bank account that was already overdrafted by $2,000. 

According to court documents, Barry said he would "have somebody waiting for you when you get off work," according to a police report.

Barry then threw a trash can over the security glass, destroying a security camera valued at $1,000, documents said. The incident was captured on security cameras.

Drone with Meth Crashes in Mexico


A drone carrying methamphetamine crashed in Mexico near the San Ysidro Port of Entry on Tuesday night.

The unmanned aircraft hauling more than 6 pounds of crystal meth in six packages fell from the sky into the parking lot of a supermarket in Tijuana just before 10 p.m., according to Vicente Calderon, a Tijuana-based freelance journalist for NBC 7.

Tijuana police said an anonymous citizen reported finding the drone in the parking lot.

The packages of drugs were attached to the drone using plastic webbing and strips of black tape, police said.

The aircraft itself had six propellers and a lithium battery.

The drone and the drugs were handed over to Mexican authorities to look into who's responsible for the attempted smuggling.

While smugglers have long used a variety of tactics to shuffle drugs across the border, Calderon said Tijuana police reported that this is the first time smugglers have attempted using drones to pass drugs through the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

Drug trafficking organizations in Mexico have increasingly used drones to transport drugs over the past several years, according to published reports.

Milford Divers Train for Ice Rescue


In training they hope they'll never have to use, the Milford Fire Department is making sure its divers are prepared to go under the ice in case someone falls in.

“We all know as kids growing up that as soon as there was ice on any pond, or any body of water, we'd be out there playing hockey and skating. This being kind of new, having ice, isn't safe, so the probability of someone falling in increases substantially,” said Milford Fire Capt. Greg Carman.

As part of their monthly training, divers geared for a search-and-rescue exercise.

“We have a lot of new divers, and this is the first time they've experienced being on the ice, let alone under the ice, and we want to make sure they have the skills to perform safely,” said Carman.

The drill is done in real time and takes about 10-15 minutes to complete. Firefighters first have to cut a hole in the ice around the area where the victim fell, then head underwater themselves.

“When you're under the ice, you have no sense of direction, and when you're getting to the hole where the victim fell through, you're actually spidering; you're upside down and using ice picks until you get to the hole where the victim fell through,” explained firefighter Michael Dunn.

The diver is led by his counterpart above the ice, who watches the diver and gives direction.

“It's up to him, with tugs on the rope, codes that we have, how many tugs indicate what we have to do, whether I go right, left, stop, I'm OK, I found something,” said Dunn.

Police Investigate Southington Bank Robbery


Police are investigating after the TD Bank on Queen Street in Southington was robbed Wednesday evening.

It's not clear how much money was taken. Police have not released any information on the details of the robbery or a possible suspect.

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com

Fire Engulfs NJ Apartment Complex


A massive fire that swept through a luxury New Jersey apartment complex Wednesday afternoon continued to burn 12 hours after it began, causing nearby schools and roads to close Thursday.

Firefighters struggled for hours to quench the flames at Avalon on the Hudson on Russell Avenue in Edgewater, 15 years after an earlier blaze burned the same complex to the ground as it was being built.

"We left in what we had," displaced resident Tamara Talbott said. "We got the kids and the dogs. Our cars are all underneath. There's nothing left.” 

The New York Post reports Yankees announcer John Sterling was among those displaced by the fire.

The fire was mostly contained by Wednesday night, with no loss of life or major injuries reported, according to Edgewater Mayor Michael McPartland.

McPartland declared a local state of emergency Wednesday night, announcing schools will be closed Thursday and roads will be restricted. 

The fire broke out around 4:30 p.m., and the 408-unit building was quickly evacuated. After firefighters first responded, the fire appeared under control for some time, but it escalated in the back part of the complex, which responders had a hard time accessing. 

The blaze then spread to the northern section of the building, engulfing multiple units. Flames and smoke could be seen from the top of Rockefeller Center, across the Hudson River. Thick plumes of smoke from the fire sent Chopper 4 over the scene to double its normal altitude -- from about 1,500 feet to 3,000 feet.

The fire drew massive emergency response, with departments from Hudson, Bergen and Union counties working the fire. The FDNY and Jersey City's fire department also responded with fireboats, helping to draw water from the Hudson River, officials said. 

Tankers and engines attempted to fight the blaze from the exterior, and collapse zones were set up around the complex as the blaze tore down roofs. 

The hillside communities surrounding Edgewater were also being watched, as embers from the blaze were whipped into the air. 

Around 160 people are being sheltered at a local community center with the help of the Office of Emergency Management and Red Cross, according to the mayor. 

Residents walked around River Road in shock as they wondered how a fire could spread so quickly. 

"For all the fire doors and things we have in the building, I'm shocked that it would go from something small to something like this," resident Talbott said. 

One responding fire chief told NBC 4 New York he thought lightweight wood construction was a factor in how quickly the fire spread. 

"It collapses very easily, and the fire spreads very easily throughout," he said.

The large Avalon on the Hudson apartment complex, located by the Hudson River across from Manhattan, is across the street from the Edgewater post office, and is located across a shopping complex that contains a Trader Joe's supermarket. 

The same apartment complex burned to the ground while under constructed in 2000. It was rebuilt featuring one-, two- and three-bedroom units designed to appeal to New York City commuters. 

McPartland said the building had sprinklers inside. 

Power and gas were shut off to the area as firefighters responded; some streets and buildings were still without power Wednesday night, and officials were expected to assess safety before allowing utilities to restore electricity. 

Mom Speaks Out on Surprise Birth


A Massachusetts woman who recently gave birth to a 10-pound healthy baby girl an hour after discovering she was pregnant spoke out on "The Meredith Vieira Show" about the criticism she's faced.

Twenty-three-year-old Katie Kropas of Weymouth told Meredith Vieira that some of the criticism she's received since giving birth to baby Ellie has been cruel.

"I'd like to say they don't bother me at all, but some of them are a little bit worse than others. I think being called a liar, saying I don't have a motherly instinct, is scary to hear, you know, being a new mom," she said.

Her mother, Karen, told Vieira she's been offended by what's been said online about her daughter and granddaughter, but added, "I would say for every one or two negative comments, there were probably eight to 10 positives, celebrate the miracle that it is."

Kropas told necn she didn't experience morning sickness or other clues to her pregnancy with the exception of swollen feet, which she attributed to working more than 50 hours a week during the holiday season as a caterer. 

Photo Credit: Kropas Family
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Car Slams Into Hartford Building


Police are investigating after a car slammed into the back of an apartment building at 2570 Main Street in Hartford on Wednesday afternoon and the driver left the scene.

Emergency responders arrived to find an empty car that had driven through the wall of the apartment building and ended up in a stairwell. No one appeared to be hurt in the incident, and the driver was nowhere to be found.

The circumstances surrounding the crash are unclear.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Hartford Official Files Resolution to Remove Registrars


The president of the Hartford City Council has filed a resolution seeking "to begin the process for removal of the three registrars of voters," he said.

City Council President Shawn Wooden's clerical filing came in response to a newly released report that identified "multiple, serious errors" at city polling places on Election Day, as well as a dysfunctional working relationship among the city's registrars.

Councilmembers met Tuesday night to review the report and discuss the prospect of stripping the registrars of their titles. The trio – Democrat Olga Vazquez, Republican Sheila Hall and Urania Petit of the Working Families Party – is at the center of the investigation into what went wrong on Nov. 4.

Wooden's resolution calls for the City Council to vote Monday on whether to hire a lawyer who would draft charges against all three registrars. He said those charges may constitute dereliction of duty and incompetence.

"The registrars will then have the ability to have a hearing where they can, on an individual basis, defend themselves," Wooden explained.

Following the hearing, the council would vote to remove one registrar or all three, with a vote of 7-2 required to pull them from their posts, he said.

The council will also consider a recommendation to restructure the registrars office altogether, replacing three positions with one, non-partisan election official, according to Wooden.

"On so many levels, this will help elections run much smoother," he said.

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra declined to offer an opinion on the situation Tuesday but said he has faith in the committee and its findings.

"I have made my position on this subject pretty clear. I support any decision that prevents our citizens right to vote from being further compromised in any way," Segarra said in a statement. "I applaud City Council for taking swift action on this issue."

Reward Offered in Waterbury Hit-and-Run Case


Authorities are offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the driver involved in a hit-and-run crash that left two teens with serious injuries in Waterbury over the weekend.

Police said a dark-colored Honda or similar vehicle ran a read light around 6:30 p.m. Saturday on Brass Mill Way near East Main Street in Waterbury, hitting the two teens as they crossed the street.

A $1,000 cash reward is being offered for information leading the arrest and conviction of the driver, according to police.

Authorities have identified the victims as Jerry Goodman, 18, and a 16-year-old girl. Both are listed in stable conditions.

Anyone with information is urged to call Waterbury police Officer Chris Gagnon at 203-574-6901 or the Waterbury Police Detective Division at 203-574-6941.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Officials Meet With Parents Over School Air Quality Problems


The Hartford City Council met with state officials and parents of Clark Elementary School students Wednesday night to address air quality concerns that have prompted an indefinite shutdown of the school.

Air samples taken over winter break revealed levels of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, not recommended for children ages five and under. The toxic chemical has been classified as a human carcinogen and exposure could adversely affect the human immune and nervous systems, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Authorities have yet to identify a source of the PCBs, and officials say it’s unclear when students will be allowed back in the school building. For the time being, Clark School students are attending classes at one of three neighboring schools.

Experts attending Wednesday's meeting at the Wish School assured families that students and staff at the Clark School are safe.

"Are children going to have health effects? Is there a current health risk? We don't think so," said Brian Toal with the Connecticut Department of Public Health. "We're almost 200 times below [the PCB level] where we would see a risk."

School officials hope another round of test results to be returned Friday will give them enough information to identify the source of the chemicals and come up with a plan to remove them.

On Wednesday night the school district held an open house at Wish School, one of the schools Clark students are now attending.

Mille Soto, who has two children who attend the Clark School, said at Wednesday night’s meeting that she’s frustrated her kids are confined to a single classroom all day every day at their temporary location.

"All they don't do in that room is use the bathroom and eat. I don't think it's fair,” she said. “I think every child has the right to take gym, has the right to take art, come out of the room, walk, do exercise. It's not right. They're not in a prison. They're in a school."

School officials said they're working to remedy that, but their top priority has been making sure students have a place to learn in the interim.

Another open house is scheduled for next Wednesday at the Wish School.

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