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Bristol Woman Launches Program to Help Feral Cats


As Bristol leaders hold a public meeting to address the city's feral cat problem, one city housing complex has launched a program to trap, neuter and return the strays.

"Who else is going to do it?" said Lisa Cyr, digging into a bag of donated cat food to fill the bowls.

Cyr said she's seen body prints inside shelters she built on the edge of Bonny Acres, a public housing project, and thinks feral cats are sleeping in them.

"A couple of the ones I've trapped already – one has a bite wound in the neck, another one had a bite on the butt, and another one has a respiratory infection," she explained.

Once the cats are neutered, they'll be returned to Bonny Acres, where Cyr will feed them. She volunteers her time and uses vouchers from the Bristol Housing Authority to care for about a dozen cats.

A resident named Claire said the cats are not a problem for her. She explained that only kittens can be removed and placed in homes, not adult strays.

"They're feral cats – you can't take feral cats and do that," Claire said. "They'd scratch and run away."

Program Helps Combat Noise Around Tweed Airport


A dozen homes situated near Tweed New Haven Airport have been selected to participate in a federally funded pilot program to soundproof the houses.

Vinny Guglietti has lived for about 20 years on Dodge Avenue, where the decibel level is above what's recommended.

“They sent over a company to pick out doors and windows that are soundproofed and they still have more to go through and look, but it's a starting point, and it's going to be ongoing until August or September before they start doing any work,” said Guglietti.

Guglietti said he's thankful Tweed is taking the steps to make a difference at his home.

“I'm just happy that they're willing to try to help out, period. They're showing that they care. That's nice,” said Guglietti.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Hamden Construction Accident Prompts Railroad Shutdown


Amtrak is shutting down one track in the area of State Street in Hamden after three construction workers fell nearly 30 feet while on the job Thursday afternoon, according to the fire department.

According to police, the workers were climbing off the roof of a building under construction and onto an aerial lift shortly after 2 p.m. Thursday when the machine shifted and the workers tumbled down.

They were taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital for treatment of serious but non-life threatening injuries, police and fire officials said.

Police and firefighters are responding to the scene and have notified the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is sending a crew to investigate, according to the fire department.

Amtrak police were also called to the scene. Firefighters said Amtrak service should not be affected by the track closure.

More information will be posted once it becomes available.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

State Senator Pitches New Kind of Car Tax


The top Democrat in the Connecticut says it’s time for a change in the way the state and municipalities charge their residents for their cars.

State Sen. Martin Looney is crafting a proposal that could do one of several things, such as create a median rate at which certain property would be taxed and allow municipalities room to meet their revenue needs. The proposal could also provide some kind of tax break up to a certain level.

“There has to be some progressivity in it by exempting part of the value of the car, let's say $4,000,” Looney said Thursday. “So someone who, let's say, has a car that's only worth $5,000, they might only pay $1,000 on that with a $4,000 exemption, whereas someone whose car is assessed at $40,000 would get taxed at $36,000."

Individual towns and cities set their own mill rates at which property is taxed. Such a system leads to automobiles with the same assessed value having drastically different tax bills depending on the municipality.

According to the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management, the same $20,000 car carries a tax bill of $1,486 in Hartford, $831 in New Haven and just $219 in Greenwich.

Looney says it’s time to stop penalizing Connecticut residents based on where they live.

"I think the system, such that I've suggested here, I think, would build much more fairness into a system that's just grossly unfair now," Looney said.

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities estimates that $800 million in annual revenue goes to cities and towns as a direct result of the car tax.

“CCM’s concerns focus around the ability of the state to establish and maintain a lock box to ensure the revenues are returned to towns in the short and long-term; and that all towns are held-harmless and maintain at least the same level of revenues,” CCM spokesperson Kevin Maloney said in a statement.

Maloney added that a change to the way cars are taxed could lead to tax hikes on other property likes homes and businesses.

Officials with the Connecticut Business and Industry Association also say they could see some issues with changes to the car tax.

"Let's say you have a large fleet of automobiles so if you're in a town where that mill rate is going to go up, that can be a significant cost increase for you and the alternative is that if you're in a town where the mill rate is going to go down, it could be a cost savings. So it really depends town by town and what the plan is," said Joe Brennan, the group’s President and CEO.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Bridgeport Mom Used Kids to Hide Stolen Clothes: Police


A Bridgeport mom is facing charges after police say she shoplifted with her children and used them to hide stolen clothes.

Trumbull police said Kishana Laidley brought her two children, ages 5 and 12, to the Westfield Trumbull shopping center on Jan. 19. Laidley, who is “known to security,” used her kids to hide merchandise stolen from Target and Forever 21, police said.

She was spotted putting clothing into a shopping bag one of the kids was carrying, then left the store without paying, according to police.

Laidley and her two children were caught with 28 stolen articles of clothing, including women’s underwear from Target and apparel from Forever 21, police said. One child had a pair of sweatpants stuffed under his jacket.

Laidley was charged with three counts of sixth-degree larceny and two counts of risk of injury to a minor. She was held on $5,000 bond.

The Department of Children and Families was contacted and the kids were sent home with their father, according to police.

Photo Credit: AP

Self-Proclaimed Monastery Says Donor Knew It Was Phony


No one in court Thursday disputed the claim that Our Lady of Mount Caritas is not an actual monastery. The source of contention is whether a woman who donated $200,000 to the institution knew it was a fake when she wrote the check.

Janet Wagner said she made the donation in 2011 under the guise that Mount Caritas was a Benedictine monastery, as written on a sign outside the Ashford estate.

But the Norwich diocese said the two women who live there are not nuns and the facility is not sanctioned by the Catholic church.

A jury ruled in 2013 that Mount Caritas should return Wagner’s money – and it did, along with $70,000 in damages. But now Mount Caritas is appealing the decision, claiming it was honest with Wagner all along.

“Our position is that Janet always knew, that the plaintiff always knew from day one that Mount Caritas was on the wrong side of the diocese of Norwich, was not properly affiliated with it and had been instructed by the diocese not to conduct these activities,” Mount Caritas' attorney Edward Muska explained in appellate court Thursday.

Wagner’s lawyers, however, characterized the Mount Caritas women as deceitful and said their client was duped.

“The jury was there, the jury saw the evidence, the jury decided first that there were misrepresentations made, that the Wagners relied on these misrepresentation in donating the money, and for those reasons I’m asking the court to affirm the judgment of the trial court,” Wagner's attorney, Jeremy Donnelly, said during the proceedings.

Outside the courthouse Thursday, Wagner said she regards Mount Caritas as a good thing that went bad.

“I think they started out with good intentions but something broke,” she said. “I put my faith in God, I always have, and I put that faith into my attorneys, into the legal system, that God will work through this to bring us justice.”

Neither woman from Mount Caritas attended the proceedings Thursday. The institution has not returned a request for comment.

Cop: DC Fire Rejected Help in Metro


A top Metro Transit Police officer said when he tried to offer help to D.C. Fire crews during a deadly smoke incident on Metro last week, he had a window rolled up in his face.

This senior Metro Transit Police official, who spoke to News4 on the condition of anonymity, said the proper unified command structure was not followed Jan. 12, and the D.C. Fire & EMS Department was unwilling to participate in that unified mode.

"It was almost as if we were a bother to the fire department," said the official.

Meanwhile, smoke filled an underground Metro tunnel and a Yellow Line train within it, leading to scores of injuries and the death of 61-year-old Carol Glover of Alexandria.

In a normal unified command structure, all first responders are supposed to gather at a designated command center. It is usually marked by a green light on top of a vehicle.

The transit officer said when he showed up at that vehicle and told the D.C. Fire incident commander that evacuations needed to take place, he was told that D.C. Fire had to assess the situation before anything could be done.

"There was no discussion. He left us standing out in the rain," said the transit officer.

When contacted Thursday, a D.C. Fire spokesperson did not know immediately who the incident commander was at L'Enfant Plaza.

According to the NTSB, thick, heavy smoke began flowing into the Yellow Line tunnel shortly after 3 p.m. The transit officer, who said he first arrived on the scene at 3:28 p.m., said it took time to "chase down" the D.C. Fire incident commander who was moving in a vehicle from block to block.

In addition, when it became clear that D.C. Fire radios were not working in the L'Enfant Plaza station and tunnel, this transit officer said he offered to link up Transit Police officers who had working radios with firefighters, so that communication could be seamless. But he said that offer was never accepted.

"Had we played this one the way we are trained to do, the outcome may have been different," the transit officer said.

A D.C. Fire official who also asked not to be named disputes these claims, saying he was on the scene that night and there was plenty of "face to face" contact between D.C. Fire officials and Metro Transit Police officers.

Man Beats Girl Who Bumped Into Him


A 17-year-old girl is recovering after she was beaten by a man on a SEPTA trolley after bumping into him with her bag while traveling to school on Wednesday morning.

The girl, who asked to be identified only as Shay for fear of retribution, was on the Route 15 trolley heading eastbound along Girard Avenue around 7:30 a.m. when the altercation happened.

She tells NBC10 her backpack bumped into the man several times during the ride. He complained, but she ignored him. Upset, the man then pulled Shay's hat from her head, she said.

When she went down to pick up the hat, the man had made a fist and cocked his arm, she said. The teen went to defend herself and was beaten, according to the girl and police.

Another passenger caught the entire altercation on video with their smartphone. In the video, you can see the man punch the teen at least twice in the face. Police said they're also reviewing surveillance video from onboard the trolley.

The man got off the trolley at 7th Street and Girard Avenue and fled. Detectives with Philadelphia Police's East Detective division are now searching for him.

Shay's eye was swollen shut, she suffered bruising and she may have had her nose broken in the assault.

Anyone with information is asked to call Philadelphia Police at 215.686.TIPS.

Photo Credit: NBC10
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Man Dead in Sauna Had Heart Attack


A man whose badly burned body was found in the sauna of his North Miami Beach condominium died from a heart attack, the Miami-Dade medical examiner said Thursday.

The official cause of death for 68-year-old Dennis Antiporek is acute mild cardio infarction, due to hyperintensive and atherosclerosis heart disease, the medical examiner's office said.

Antiporek had gone to the sauna at the Eden Isles Condos late Sunday, but when he didn't return, his wife and daughter found his burned body on Monday.

Family members said it was a gruesome scene.

"I found someone that was so burnt beyond recognition, his skin felt worse than a dried piece of beef jerky," daughter Lara Antiporek said.

Attorneys for the family are accusing the condo of negligence, claiming the timer switch malfunctioned.

"We believe that the heart attack was heat induced. The heating coils on the sauna are required to have a thermostat and the timer should have worked. Under no circumstances whatsoever should the heat have gotten to a level where he cooked," attorney Joseph Madalon said. "He was a regular user of the sauna, so his body was used to it. He would go multiple times a week, so we know his body was capable of handling a sauna when it was properly functioning. Our assumption has been that it was a heat-induced stroke, heat-induced heart attack, or heat-induced dehydration."

Messages left with Elite Management, the property managers, weren't immediately returned Thursday afternoon.

Madalon said Antiporek had passed a stress test less than a month before he died and said his heart was in good shape. He added that the condo association has rules regarding the timing and usage of the sauna and that if they were enforced, Antiporek's death could have been prevented.

Photo Credit: NBC 6

Cassandra C. Will Continue Chemotherapy as Outpatient


The teenager undergoing forced chemotherapy will be discharged from the hospital soon, but it won't be the end of her treatment, according to the Department of Children and Families.

In a statement to NBC Connecticut, DCF officials said they are exploring options for Cassandra C. to live in a specialized group home.

“Cassandra is able to leave the hospital because her next chemotherapy treatment will not occur for several weeks. However, there are other medical treatments that are required for Cassandra to continue her progress toward recovery. The group home we are considering has the medical staff available to provide those treatments,” DCF said.

Court documents show DCF took custody of the 17-year-old when she ran away from home after two days of chemotherapy and missed medical appointments. Her mother, Jackie Fortin, plans to fight those claims.

“We never blew off appointments,” said Fortin. “Did we have to reschedule some because of our work schedule? Absolutely.”

Fortin believes she can provide the best treatment for her daughter, who should continue chemotherapy where she’s most comfortable.

“And I had expressed this to DCF,” said Fortin. “If she has to continue doing treatment while we’re proceeding with legal procedures going forward, she should be home.”

Still, DCF stands firm on its decision to keep custody of Cassandra. In the department documents presented to the State Supreme Court, DCF nurse Kimberly Kanatis sheds light on several situations in which Cassandra and her mother delayed treatment despite the diagnosis.

“The Pet Scan was originally scheduled for 10/21/14,” Kanatis wrote. “Ms. [Fortin] cancelled this. Ms. [Fortin] did not attend the scheduled CT Scan appointment on 10/20/14. It should be noted these appointments were made by Dr. Richardson because Ms. [Fortin] did not follow through scheduling them.”

Photo Credit: Jackie Fortin

Concern Building Over Closure of Meriden Parking Lot


Many people and businesses that rely on the Colony Street parking lot in Meriden are worried about its imminent closure.

The 95-space lot is across the street from several businesses, including Authentic Cuts & Design. The owner, Hector Salgado, said he and many of his customers take advantage of the free lot, which is slated to shut down Feb. 3.

“I’m actually kind of concerned about it,” said Salgado.

Those who work in the area said the lot is busy during the day.

“Everyone in our office was talking about it [Thursday], asking, 'Where we are going to park after Feb. 3?' And none of us know where we are going to park,” said Nicole Biolo.

The property will serve as the site of the city's first new private development project in nearly 40 years.

City officials point to the $32-million project’s many benefits, including affordable housing, commercial space and a parking garage.

Until the garage opens, officials suggest people park in other lots nearby. Some of those lots are not free, and also require patrons and employees to walk several minutes to get to the strip of businesses across from the Colony Street lot.

City leaders said the project will take up to two years to complete and will include a garage with 273 spots: 200 for train passengers, 48 for residents and 25 reserved for the city.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Runaway Tire Hits Windshield, Hurts Driver on Mass Pike


A man was seriously injured when a tire struck his windshield while he was driving on the Massachusetts Turnpike on Thursday evening, according to Massachusetts State Police.

Police said a 23-year-old Canadian resident was driving eastbound on the Mass Pike in the town of Wayland when his left rear tire and rim popped off, flew across the median and hit the windshield of another car in the westbound lane.

The other driver, Paul Robbilard, 36, of Dudley, Massachusetts, was taken to Beth Israel Hospital for treatment of serious injuries, according to police.

The crash remains under investigation.  

Photo Credit: Massachusetts State Police

Fire Captain Burned "Horrific" Photos of 1944 Circus Fire Victim: Sources


A retiring fire captain removed decades-old photos of a young 1944 fire victim from the walls of Hartford’s Engine 14 and burned them in his fireplace at home because he disagreed with having the deceased girl’s image “publicly displaced in this horrific manner,” according to sources within the department.

The images in question are of an 8-year-old, identified as Eleanor Cook, one of more than 167 people who died in the massive tent fire at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in July 1944.

Eleanor’s case was shrouded in mystery as investigators worked for decades to match the little girl’s name to her face.

In an email obtained by the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters, Capt. William Pond explained his actions to Hartford Fire Chief Carlos Huertas.

“When originally assigned to engine 14 in the summer of 1990 I objected to the naked deceased pictures of Eleanor Cook displayed in the hallway. I objected verbally to every house Captain through my career where my efforts proved fruitless. My first order of business as house Captain was to remove them from display,” he allegedly wrote in the email.

Pond went on to say he worried that someone would hang the photos back up after he retired, “where this poor girls [sic] soul would never rest,” according to the email.

“I removed them today and at my home prayed for peace for Eleanor and burned them in my fireplace. I hope you understand and also the Cook family had no knowledge that there [sic] loved one was publicly displayed in this horrific manor,” Pond allegedly wrote.

Huertas addressed the situation in a statement on Thursday, saying Pond “exercised poor judgment in removing the photos.”

“He has demonstrated a lack of professionalism in his decision to take matters in to his own hands and circumvented the process put forth to better handle the situation,” Huertas wrote.

He added that the photos turned out to be copies with “no intrinsic value,” but said an investigation is ongoing.

Seven hundred people were also injured in the fire, which is remembered as one of the worst fires in United States history.

Photo Credit: AP

Texas Could OK Guns Sans Licenses


A Texas lawmaker has introduced a bill that does away with the need for Texans to have licenses to carry guns.

Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, said he thinks his bill, which can be read here, has a good chance of passing.

“It’s our version of open carry, and it goes a step further and we say it restores our Second Amendment to what our constitutional fathers intended it for it to be,” said Stickland.

There are still exceptions that would prevent guns at school events and places like amusement parks, but in most cases the bill would make open carry without a permit legal.

Some Texans on Thursday said while they agree with Stickland on the right to own a gun, they were still concerned about gun owners having no training or permit.

"To be able to drive a 2,000- to 3,000-pound vehicle, you have to be able to show you have the ability to drive, that you have passed a written test understanding the laws of the road. And I feel like having a gun is the same thing,” said David Prince, owner of Eagle Gun Range Inc.

“I believe the average person off the street should be trained on how to shoot their gun,” said Paul Harris, of Coppell.

Gov. Greg Abbott said throughout his campaign he was in favor of open carry. When asked about Stickland’s legislation, since he can decide whether it reaches his desk, Abbott had the following to say.

“The most important thing for people to understand is, some are concerned, 'Gosh, what is going to happen of we have open carry come to Texas?' We have seen the same thing happen across the entire country, where you have open carry laws in places like Massachusetts and Vermont. You don’t have people breaking out guns and shooting each other. The same concerns were raised at the time when Texas adopted the concealed handgun law here in the state of Texas. We didn’t have the breaking out of the O.K. Corral. I think it’s going to work out fine whichever way the law passes,” said Abbott.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

Patriots' Blount Went From Unemployed to Starring Role


On Nov. 18, LeGarrette Blount was out of a job. The running back had just been released by the Pittsburgh Steelers, and his career was in doubt.

Blount had left the field the night before while the Steelers-Titans Monday night game was in progress, upset that he hadn’t had a single carry. One source with the Steelers told the NFL Network that the reason for his release was “selfish behavior.”

So, just over two months ago, Blount seemed like the most unlikely of potential Super Bowl difference-makers.

But after he re-signed with the New England Patriots just two days after his release, Blount is heading nto Super Bowl XLIX as one of his team’s biggest offensive stars and a factor in the team’s run to the AFC championship.

Blount carried the ball 30 times for 148 yards in this past Sunday’s AFC Championship Game victory over the Colts. And in the five regular-season games he played with New England late in the season, Blount averaged 4.7 yards per carry, with 281 yards on 60 carries for three touchdowns.

At 6 feet and 250 pounds, the former standout from Oregon has plugged right back into the New England offensive scheme he had been a part of in 2013. That season, he averaged 5.0 yards per carry, collecting 772 yards on the ground and scoring seven touchdowns for Bill Belichick’s team.

When Blount became available, Belichick didn’t hesitate. He re-signed Blount and immediately gave him the ball.

Now the Patriots have a physical, hard-to-bring-down back almost in the mold of Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch. Both defenses in the Feb. 1 Super Bowl in Arizona will have to stop the big backs early to set the tone.

Belichick isn’t usually effusive with his praise, but he’s very happy he has Blount again. Blount had left the Patriots as a free agent after the 2013 season to sign with Pittsburgh.

“You don’t see a lot of guys like him,” Belichick told reporters this week. You just don’t. I thought a couple of cuts he made (against the Colts), the way he can stop, start, accelerate, change directions – for a 250-pound guy or whatever he is, he’s got great vision and athleticism. At times he looks like a small back, but he’s not. He’s a big guy and he’s a hard guy to tackle.”

The way Blount has played with the Patriots led to some criticism of the Steelers’ decision to release him, based on the fact that Pittsburgh could have used him when No. 1 back Le’Veon Bell was unavailable for its playoff game against the Ravens.

But this week, Steelers president Art Rooney II said he has no regrets.

“I think we made the decision for the right reasons,” Rooney told ESPN.com. “Not going to worry about it too much. We just have to make sure that we make a better decision this year and fill that position with someone we’re comfortable with and who will be a good fit.”

Now Blount has a chance to win a Super Bowl ring. He’s gone from unemployed to a potential Super Bowl star. Like Belichick, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is grateful Blount is on their side again.

“He’s tough to bring down and has the ability to make people miss in the hole, which I think is a unique trait for a bigger back,” said McDaniels this week. “Obviously he played well (vs. the Colts), really carried a big load for us and made a huge impact. … We’re very happy to have him here with us.”


Photo Credit: Getty Images

Murder Suspect Released From Jail


A woman suspected of killing her boyfriend and 3-year-old son, who was found in a freezer on a Southern California Indian reservation, has been released from jail, detention center officials told NBC 7.

Elaina Welch, 32, walked from the Las Colinas Detention Facility Thursday after the San Diego County District Attorney’s office did not file charges against her. Law enforcement and prosecutors can only hold suspects for up to 72 hours without charging them.

Welch was booked into jail on two counts of first-degree murder after a SWAT standoff played out at her home in the 1500 block of Quincy Canyon Road last Friday. It started after a woman called 911 to say her child was dead.

Deputies say at the home, they discovered Welch’s boyfriend Julio Ricardo Monggiotti dead from a gunshot wound to the chest. Emerging from the house with a shotgun, Welch went to hide in the bushes. She was taken into custody a short time later.

Investigators, who obtained a search warrant for the property, later discovered Welch’s 3-year-old son Roland’s body buried beneath frozen food inside a freezer, sheriff’s officials say.

Although Welch was booked into jail on Friday, the district attorney’s office had until Thursday to file charges against her because of the three-day holiday weekend. It’s unclear why Welch was not arraigned.

The DA's office said the investigation is on-going and the case is still under review.

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Bristol Searches for Solution to Stray Cat Situation


Bristol city leaders said there could be thousands of stray and feral cats running the streets, and they're working to get the population under control.

Officials said pockets of feral cat colonies live throughout the city, including at the Bonnie Acres public housing complex.

To address the growing issue of strays, city councilmember Ellen Zoppo-Sassu held a meeting Thursday night asking concerned citizens for ideas, even offering to put together a committee of volunteers if needed.

"I'd like to coordinate everybody, create a resource list, create an information list, and most importantly educate the community," said Zoppo-Sassu.

Among the ideas is to trap, neuter and release the animals, which is already being done in places like Bonnie Acres, where housing authority volunteers are feeding and sheltering the cats.

Some residents said the city needs to enact a neuter and spay ordinance, while others said officials should get rid of the feral cats altogether.

City leaders said they're not considering eliminating the cats right now but would consider augmenting ordinances.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Route 9 North Reopened in Berlin


Route 9 North was closed at exit 22 in Berlin because of two crashes, but has since reopened, according to state police.

One crash involved a vehicle rollover down an embankment, and there were heavy backups.

No additional information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Suspicious Package Prompts Evacuation of Enfield Courthouse


The Enfield Courthouse is still evacuated after a suspicious package was found outside the building at 7:52 a.m. on Friday.

The courthouse is located at 111 Phoenix Avenue and the bomb squad is at the scene.

Check back for updates.

Three-Car Crash on I-395 South in Norwich


There is a three-car crash on Interstate 395 South in Norwich at exit 28.

The road is open. It’s not clear if there are any injuries.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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