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West Haven police have arrested two men and two juveniles in on drug and larceny charges after spotting something suspicious on surveillance cameras at a supermarket parking lot.
Officers who were conducting surveillance in the parking lot of Shop Rite at 1131 Campbell Avenue saw four males drop off a Honda that had been stolen from Hamden and leave in a second stolen vehicle, police said.
Police recovered the car left in the parking lot and the suspects fled to New Haven, where they got out of the car and started running, police said.
Officers captured Wilbert Johnson age 19, of West Haven, and Kerry Blash, 19, of New Haven.
Johnson was arrested and charged with larceny, conspiracy and motor vehicle charges. He’s due in court on Feb. 17.
Blash was charged with larceny, conspiracy and possession of narcotics.
The two other occupants were juveniles and information cannot be released. Both were held on bond.
The Tolland Fire Department is responding to reports of a partial barn collapse at Johnson and Cook roads in Tolland, according to state police.
The collapse was reported around 8:45 a.m.
No additional information was immediately available.
Check back for updates.
Sensors installed at a Connecticut railroad crossing more than a decade ago can signal to approaching trains if a car is on the tracks — a technology that could attract new interest after a commuter train smashed into an SUV outside New York City, killing six people.
The technology, a four-quadrant gate with a warning capability, was first used at a street-level crossing on Amtrak’s Northeast corridor when the high speed Acela Express trains went into use in the late 1990s.
The quad gates system uses metal-detecting sensors installed in the pavement to detect a car on the tracks and alert an approaching train in time to stop, said Stephen R. Szegedy, a retired engineer who designed the system while working for the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
It's not clear, though, how extensively the quad gates are used. Six of the 11 street-level crossings on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor are smart crossings, according to Amtrak, but the railroad did not say if they include the sensor system.
Questions about how to make street level railroad crossings safer follow Tuesday’s deadly Metro-North Railroad in the New York City suburb of Valhalla. A crowded commuter train smashed into an SUV stuck on the tracks, dislodging the third rail. Five people plus the driver of the SUV were killed in the resulting fireball, making it Metro-North's deadliest accident, and about 15 people were injured.
That first quad gate — which uses four gates to seal off the crossing — was installed at School Street in West Mystic, Connecticut, in July 1998, at a time when officials were discussing closing some street-level crossings due to safety concerns. School Street provided the only access to a commercial and residential area called Willow Point.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation had been awarded an $800,000 grant from the Federal Railroad Administration for the project, and it contributed another $200,000 of its own money. The alternative would have been to re-engineer the intersection to avoid a street-level crossing -- a project that would have cost $4 million.
Before the gate went into service, Szegedy made sure that it worked with a test train and his own Audi.
“The car was detected and the test train came to a stop 400 feet before that,” he said. “And we proved that it did work. And it went into service.”
In September 1999, Szegedy told the Harford Courant that School Street quad gate had alerted train engineers to vehicles on the tracks three times: twice when pickup truck drivers were caught on the tracks trying to beat the train and once when there were people sitting on the tracks as a train approached.
If a driver raises a gate and tries to cross the track, it could be too late for a train to stop, he warned.
A 2007 report by the Federal Railroad Administration's Office of Research and Development found that the School Street four-quadrant gate performed as designed. Initial indications were that the technologies — the quad gates, the obstruction detection and the railroad cab signaling, which transmits data to the train — would be a valuable way to make crossings on high-speed rail corridors safer, the report said.
It also said that the more restrictive gate decreased risky behavior among motorists. And if a vehicle becomes trapped, the exit gates raise to the up position to allow the motorist to escape.
The Metro North Railroad did not immediately respond to a question about whether it had considered installing the technology.
Installing the technology in all street-level crossings would be expensive. Szegedy estimated in 2011 that the system would cost $1.2 million to $1.5 million per crossing. Connecticut alone has 53 street-level crossings on Metro-North tracks.
“We don’t put enough money in our railroads,” Szegedy said. “It’s an infrastructure system that needs to be brought into the 21st century.”
There are 228,000 street crossings in the country, about 140,000 of them on publicly owned roads, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. About 53 percent of the public ones are equipped with active warning devices, but the administration said it could not say how many had quad gates. An active warning device could include a wide range of measures, from flashing lights or bells to warn drivers of a coming train to the high-tech quad gate system.
Collisions at the crossings have dropped by 85 percent from a high of more than 13,500 in 1978 to just over 2,000 in 2011, according to the administration. It attributes the dramatic decrease to engineering improvements, better enforcement of traffic safety laws and education of motorists. The administration estimates that 94 percent of collisions and 87 percent of fatalities are the result of risky behavior by drivers or poor judgment.
Connecticut's Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Tuesday that the crash showed that there was a need for continued progress on safety and reliability.
“This kind of horrific, terrible crash was preventable,” he said.
New York's Sen. Chuck Schumer called for a thorough investigation and answers as quickly as possible so that any needed corrective action could be taken.
Metro-North Railroad was criticized in a report by the National Transportation Safety Board after a 2013 deadly derailment plus four other accidents. The report found common safety management problems in all of the accidents.
Metro-North Railroad responded then that it was working to improve safety.
–Additional reporting by Khorri Atkinson.
A Danbury resident was one of six people killed when a Metro-North train crashed into an SUV on the tracks in Valhalla, New York, on Tuesday evening.
Aditya Tomar, 41, of Danbury died in the deadly crash, Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton confirmed. The driver of the SUV and five train passengers were also killed.
While Danbury resident Fred George was not on the train that crashed because he took an earlier train home, he said earlier on Wednesday that he feared he knew some of the people killed.
Another Connecticut resident was aboard and escaped the fiery train. Fred Buonocore, of Ridgefield, normally sits in the front car that got the brunt of the impact in the collision with the car on the tracks, but he didn't on Tuesday because he had to run to catch the train and hurried into a middle car.
More information will be provided when it becomes available.
West Hartford police arrested a man who they said left two young children alone on the side of the road in freezing cold temperatures so he could trade a phone for marijuana in Hartford.
Police said Kirk Wilson, 35, of East Windsor, had been waiting for his girlfriend to finish a job interview at 29 South Main Street on Jan. 30 but became impatient because she was taking too long and he wanted to buy marijuana.
He made their two young daughters, ages 7 and 12, get out of the girlfriend’s car in 30-degree weather and drove to Holcomb Street in Hartford, leaving the girls with no phone to call anyone for help, police said.
Wilson had 1 cent with him when arrested and police said he was planning to trade the phone, which was not his, for the marijuana.
A New Haven man is accused of stealing a 95-year-old North Haven woman’s identity and racking up $20,000 in debt in her name.
Police said the victim found out something was wrong in in 2014 when a collection company contacted her because a credit card account in her name was delinquent.
After investigating, North Haven police identified Thomas Anastasio, of New Haven, as the suspect and said he’d opened nine credit accounts in the victim’s name and charged more than $20,000 on those cards.
Anastasio who was taken into custody on Jan. 31 and charged with first-degree larceny and first-degree identity theft.
He is due in Meriden Superior Court on Feb. 19.
A Bridgeport man has been arrested, accused of stealing electronics, jewelry and sports memorabilia from a home in Monroe.
Police said the burglary happened on Dec. 10 on Stonecroft Way. After police investigated, they found DNA evidence that identified Walter Gonzalez, 43, of Bridgeport.
Police arrested Gonzalez at his place of business on Columbus Place in Bridgeport on Wednesday and charged him with third-degree burglary, second-degree criminal trespass, second-degree criminal mischief and third-degree larceny.
Gonzalez was released after posting a $100,000 bond and is due in court on Feb. 12.
As two former administrators are embroiled in controversy for allegedly failing to report a student-teacher relationship, Stamford High School has named an interim principal to take over day-to-day operations.
Stamford Public Schools announced Thursday that Tony Pavia will serve as interim principal at Stamford High School while the search is underway for a permanent replacement. Pavia is taking over for Rodney Bass, who has been heading up the school since October.
According to a news release from the Stamford superintendent's office, Pavia's tenure at Stamford High School – effective Feb. 23 – is a homecoming of sorts.
Before accepting his most recent position as president of Trinity Catholic High School, Pavia served as principal of Stamford High from 1996-2002 and assistant principal from 1992-1994. He previously worked as a social studies teacher at Stamford High.
“Stamford High School holds a special place in my heart and has been an integral part of my life and my career. I welcome the opportunity to work with the students, faculty and staff and will work hard to serve the school and the community with integrity and purpose," Pavia said in a statement Thursday.
Stamford superintendent Dr. Winifred Hamilton publicly thanked Bass in Thursday's news release.
“I’d also like to recognize and thank Rodney for his leadership during this difficult time,” she said.
Former school principal Donna Valentine and assistant principal Roth Nordin are accused of violating a law that requires them to report any suspected relationship between a student and adult at the school.
English teacher Danielle Watkins, 32, was charged with sexual assault in July and authorities said Valentine and Nordin knew about her sexual relationship with an 18-year-old student but did nothing to stop it.
The former administrators were granted accelerated rehabilitation in November.
Officers arrested the man accused of holding up a Norwalk gas station early Thursday morning and shot him with a stun gun while taking him into custody, according to police.
According to police, Jose Rodriguez, 65, of Stamford, robbed the Shorehaven Mobil station at 291 East Avenue around 2:40 a.m. Feb. 5. He pulled out a pellet gun and got away with cash, cigarettes, lottery tickets and lighters.
Police said officers were called to the scene by a silent hold-up alarm and arrived to find Rodriguez leaving the building through the front door.
Officers drew their guns and ordered Rodriguez to stop, but he picked up his pace and kept walking with a hand tucked into his waistband, according to police. He jerked his hand up and threw the pellet gun into the snow.
Police said "Rodriguez actively fought and resisted the officers" who tried to take him into custody, prompting police to shoot him with a stun gun.
Rodriguez was taken to Norwalk Hospital for treatment and has been charged with first-degree robbery, possession of a facsimile firearm, assault on a police officer, interfering with a police officer and sixth-degree larceny.
Police said they found him in possession of items stolen from the gas station.
He was held on $250,000 bond and is due in court Feb. 13.
Thirty-three-year-old Matt Eacott considers himself lucky to be alive. He’s a former addict who put his family through turmoil over the years until finding a Monroe-based program that treats him in his own environment -- his home.
Eacott was a teen when the downward spiral started.
“If you were to ask my parents, it would probably be around 13, when I started experimenting with alcohol and marijuana,” he said.
By the time Matt was in high school, he wasn’t like most students who could focus on school during the week. Instead, he was obsessed with what drug he wanted to try the next weekend.
Then, his parents decided to send Matt to a private school.
“They thought if they changed the environment, I would adapt and change my behaviors” Matt recalls.
It didn’t work. He was expelled during his junior year.
A few years later, he was expelled from college. Drugs were ruling Matt’s life.
There were family vacations, but Matt could not stop thinking about drugs.
“A quote normal person would be thinking about, ‘Did I pack the right clothes?’ I was thinking about how I can smuggle heroin through the airport” he recalls.
Matt’s addiction had gone from prescription painkillers to heroin.
“When I went from oxycontin to heroin, I was snorting five bags of heroin a day and by the end of that year, my tolerance had increased from five to eight-five bags,” he said.
Matt would also snort cocaine every 15 minutes and he was constantly missing from his job because he was either using drugs or going to buy them.
Matt admits to scamming loved ones and friends because drugs were never enough to satisfy him and he dreaded the withdrawal symptoms.
When his father would bail him out of jail, he would ask if that was Matt’s low point. But not even an almost deadly incident on angel dust in his parent’s house struck him as a low point at the time.
Matt went away to more than a dozen rehab facilities and would do well, but when he returned home, it was like nothing had changed.
“I would say, ‘I think I can use one last time’,” he said. “My identity was really drug use. That’s what I thought I was for the rest of my life.”
Two years ago, Matt’s life changed when a professional who was treating him told him about a program based in Madison called Aware Recovery Care, which brings alcohol and drug addiction treatment into the patient’s home.
A doctor, counselor and nurse were soon sitting around the Eacott’s kitchen table with Matt and his parents, discussing the treatment plan.
“I was able to go to work. I was able to confide in someone and trust someone,” Matt said.
The program involves sometimes daily home visits, drug testing, counseling, medical and mental health treatment and voluntary GPS tracking.
Yale Psychiatrist Ellen Edens, who has completed a fellowship in addiction treatment, studied the results of Aware Recovery Care’s first year with five patients and was impressed.
“Four of five patients had continued abstinence over the course of the year and one patient had some relapses in the beginning,” Dr. Edens said.
Even though there were only a few clients, the success rate of sobriety after one year was more than 70 percent, higher than typical in-patient rehab, she said.
The pilot results by Edens and two colleagues were published by the Connecticut State Medical Society.
“In all my years of training and specializing in addiction, this seemed to have a component that was missing,” Edens said.
She believes this new model of addiction treatment could be the future and she likes the fact that since treatment is in the home, people learn to better handle cues and triggers for relapse.
Dr. Edens said addiction is a chronic disease, like diabetes, which needs long-term care.
“When you go away for treatment or when you only have three weeks or six weeks of treatment, it really doesn’t fit a chronic disease model,” she said. The hope now is for funding for more studies.
Matt completed the year-long treatment and signed on for an additional six months. After that, he decided to commit himself to helping others and is now on staff at Aware Recovery Care.
“I talk to the parents of our clients and I get to relive how my parents must have felt and it’s extremely powerful for me,” he said.
Matt has been sober for two years, which is the longest he has been clean since his early teen years, he said.
He is also engaged to be married in September.
Matt says he now enjoys what he does so much that he goes to work early and leaves late many days. Most of all, he’s happy to be welcomed once again at homes of friends and his parents.
Thieves stole sleds from three children between the ages of 10 and 16, including a 12-year-old girl whom they punched in the face, in Central Park earlier this week, police say.
Police say the teenage thieves approached the kids in the park near West 86th Street around 5 p.m. Monday and asked to use their sleds. The kids agreed, and the suspects took the sleds and walked away.
When they tried to get the sleds back, one of the suspects punched the 12-year-old girl in the head. The suspects then fled the park with the sleds.
No arrests have been made in the robbery, which was first reported by the Central Park NYC Park Advocates.
Police are looking into whether the sled theft is connected to another robbery in the same area of the park about three and a half hours later. In that case, a 38-year-old man was robbed by a masked man.
The man, who asked not to be identified, told NBC 4 New York he was walking near the 86th Street transverse when two masked men approached him.
"They punched me in my mouth twice, I felt one of my teeth fall out and another one broken," he said. "I still didn't know what they wanted and after that, they punched me again and I fell down into the snow."
The assailants kicked the man, emptied his pockets and showed two knives as they robbed him, the victim said.
-- Roseanne Colletti contributed to this report.
Two Bridgeport police officers caught on video using "unreasonable force" by kicking a suspect and shooting him with a Taser while he was on the ground in 2011 have been sentenced to three months in prison and six months of supervised release, according to federal prosecutors.
Elson Morales, 43, and Joseph Lawlor, 41, received their sentences in federal court Thursday. The former officers pleaded guilty last June to deprivation of rights under color of law.
Video posted on YouTube allegedly shows the officers kicking and stomping Orlando Lopez-Soto while arresting him in Beardsley Park after a high-speed chase on May 20, 2011.
"Despite the fact that the individual was on the ground and effectively incapacitated by the initial use of the Taser, Morales deployed the Taser a second time and Lawlor kicked the individual several times," a spokesperson for the U.S. attorney's office wrote in a news release Thursday.
Bridgeport police Chief Joseph Gaudett Jr. said in a statement after the officers' guilty pleas that his department had cooperated with the federal investigation and that he was "satisfied" that the two officers would no longer work for the department.
Bristol police have arrested the man accused of shooting a Meriden resident during a dispute in May.
Jahquan Tutein, 20, of Bristol, was arrested Thursday in connection with the shooting of Kenneth Slaughter, 23, of Meriden, on May 31, 2014. Slaughter was shot in the left arm at the Cambridge Housing Project on Davis Drive, according to police.
Tutein has been charged with first-degree assault, criminal possession of a pistol, carrying a pistol without a permit, first-degree reckless endangerment and third-degree criminal mischief.
He's being held on $250,000 bond.
Small businesses in New Haven are struggling to recover from back-to-back storms that snowed them out and are bracing for more winter weather on the way.
When Al Gordon has to close Chick-Lets Organic Grille during a snow storm, he loses money.
“As a small business person down here in New Haven, it trickles down. It actually trickles into my employees' pockets. I'm a restaurant, so I have to watch my food costs and the bills keep on coming,” said Gordon.
Claire's Corner Copay sees a similar problem. Owner Claire Crisco still has to pay the the rent, staff and utility bills even when the snow comes in – and the customers don't.
“When you have it snow and it's relentless and it's measurable, it makes it difficult because, let's face it, you tend to stay in,” said Crisco.
On top of that, downtown parking bans keep people off the streets even after the snow stops.
“All of a sudden, the on-street parking is no longer an option for customers, and then you get a rush to the off-street facilities, they'll fill up rather quickly, and then people are out of luck coming downtown, so the customer base dries up,” explained Win Davis, executive director of the Town Green Special Services District in New Haven.
The Town Green District and the city of New Haven have been working together to help out businesses by cleaning up the snow and making the parking spaces more accessible.
Thursday night into Friday morning, parking restrictions will take effect in downtown New Haven to allow crews to remove excess snow on the roadsides.
The downtown shops appreciate the effort, but said there's nothing they can do about the weather.
“The snow's coming fast and furious and with more snow on the way," said Gordon. "I expect more of the same going forward.”
Next week, the city of Hartford could be one step closer to requiring its police officers to wear body cameras.
The cameras are a relatively new technology that police forces across the country have used to document the activities of officers and their interactions with the people in their communities.
“We have great officers out there and this is good for showing the decrease in complaints against police,” said Hartford City Council President Shawn Wooden, who sponsors the resolution that will be on next week’s meeting agenda.
If approved, the resolution would require Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra and Chief of Police James Rovella to craft a road map of sorts on how to implement the cameras and policies governing them. The plan would be due to the city council by March 15.
Hartford police don’t oppose the cameras and concede that they’ve heard Hartford residents support the idea. They are, however, cautious about the logistics of how and when they’re used and how to handle the data and footage.
“It’s not the initial cost of the body cameras, it’s the storage,” said Deputy Chief Brian Foley, explaining that the cameras cost between $300 and $1,000 apiece. “Let’s say we put out 150 body cameras, max – 150 cops walking around with them, 150 cameras that need to be maintained and each day, the data needs to be stored and processed.”
Foley also said there are questions around the country regarding the use of the cameras and how they’re handled when Freedom of Information requests are submitted.
“These are all things that we would have to discuss with our union,” Foley said.
Calls to the Hartford Police Union were not returned.
Wooden said the cameras on their own will help to restore trust when residents know their interactions with law enforcement are being recorded.
“We want people to believe in our police officers. We want people in the community to trust that everything is on the up and up,” Wooden said.
Foley agrees with Wooden but described the cameras as a “two-way street.” He said in one sense, there are no secrets about police activity and interactions; however, Foley said he sees some issues with obtaining information.
“There’s going to be instances where informants, neighborhood contacts, they’re going to say, "Hey, there’s bad stuff going on or they’re dealing drugs out of that house.' People aren’t going to tell you that if they know they’re being recorded,” he explained.
Poor student performance at Crosby High School in the East End of Waterbury sent city government officials to the State Board of Education yesterday, offering reforms in return for more state money.
Incoming freshmen such as Emil Cecunjanin, now an eighth grader, would go to Crosby for four weeks this summer to learn the ropes at high school.
"It would help me out with my grades and get ready for next year," he said. "It's a good school, good sport teams, organized well."
Crosby would be reorganized into divisions, each with its own theme and faculty, all with more advising and more hours in the classroom.
Waterbury will need help from its teachers' union to make the longer class days happen.
One Crosby graduate from 1970, Tom Carmody, said just being on a hillside outside of town is an improvement.
"It used to be downtown," he said. "The downtown one now is a police station. But up here in the East End, I think it's a lot better."
A 40-year-old woman from Vernon is facing assault charges after attacking her ex-boyfriend on a street corner, following him home and pouring liquid bleach over him, according to police.
Police said Tanya Person was angry with her ex-boyfriend, who is also the father of her child, and confronted him at the intersection of Ward and Union streets in the Rockville section of Vernon around 1:15 p.m. Thursday.
Person allegedly slapped and punched the man, pushing him down into the snow, then kicked him while he was on the ground. Police said she followed him back to her apartment on Village Street and doused him in bleach.
The victim, identified only as a 30-year-old man from New York, suffered minor injuries and refused medical treatment, according to police.
Person was arrested and charged with second- and third-degree assault, first-degree reckless endangerment, third-degree criminal mischief and second-degree breach of peace.
She’s being held on $20,000 bond and is due in court Friday.
Burglars used a torch to break into a Southington Target store before dawn on Wednesday, and police said this burglary was quite similar to burglaries at 13 other Target stores along the East Coast, as far south as Florida, as well as in Texas, according to Southington police.
Target has lost a combined $240,000 in merchandise in all 14 burglaries and Southington police arersted three suspects.
At 12:38 a.m. on Wednesday, police responded to the Target store at 600 Executive Boulevard to investigate a burglary in progress.
On surveillance, two people were spotted inside the store, police said. Then officers noticed a hole in the back door and determined that the people involved had run to the back of the store.
Hoping the catch the burglars, police set up a perimeter, brought in K-9 Arno and started to search, which led south along the 8 Mile River, where the suspected burglars managed to cross the river and flee into the area of Beal Drive and Beverly Drive, police said.
After a two-hour search, police found two of the men.
Elijah Aiken, 31 of Easton, Pennsylvania, and Denzel Holmes, 21, of Allentown, Pennsylvania were in a wooded area and AMR Ambulance was called to the scene to evaluate the two men because of the extreme cold.
Holmes was taken into custody and charged with third-degree burglary, third-degree conspiracy to commit burglary, third-degree criminal mischief and second-degree criminal attempt to commit larceny.
Elijah Aiken was taken into custody and charged with third-degree burglary, third-degree conspiracy to commit burglary, third-degree criminal mischief and second-degree criminal attempt to commit larceny. Police said there are felony , extraditable arrest warrants for him out of Texas and New Jersey.
As the police dog continued to follow the trail, officers found a suspicious vehicle near Beal Drive and police believe the driver, Akbar Aiken, 34, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, was also involved the burglary.
He too was taken into custody and charged with third-degree conspiracy to commit burglary, third-degree conspiracy to commit criminal mischief and second-degree conspiracy to commit larceny.
All three suspects were held in lieu of $250,000 bond and are scheduled to appear in the Bristol Court today.
Detectives from the Southington Police Department are investigating.
As more snow and extreme cold move into the state, experts are urging residents to weatherproof their homes to help safeguard against damage.
Ken Carney, who owns Baybrook Remodelers, said residents should inspect their roofs now before problems develop.
“Go out there and look at that roof carefully, and if it needs to be repaired, call a professional, let's get that done before the snow and ice comes,” said Carney.
He also suggested taking precautions to prevent frozen pipes.
“Turn off your spigots. Lot of frozen spigot calls we get. A lot of people call up, a pipe froze, burst, get those spigots turned off. If you have an irrigation system, make sure that's drained, that's taken care of. Divert water from the house,” Carney said.
To prevent ice dams from forming, make sure to properly insulate your attic.
“The heat gets to the underside of the roof, all it has to do is heat that roof line up to 33 degrees, snow starts to melt, comes into your gutters, turns to ice, and when we have 8-9 inches of snow, you're going to have a problem,” said Carney.