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Hartford Police Offer Safe Zone for Craigslist Transactions


The Hartford Police Department is now making its public parking lot available as an option for a location to meet for Craigslist transactions to help make it safer for residents utilizing the website and reduce related crimes.

Police will make the parking lot available 24 hours a day, seven days a week as a "safe zone" for Craigslist transactions in seeing success nationwide and wanting to ensure the safety of Hartford citizens, Deputy Chief Brian Foley said.

"Craigslist transactions that have turned into robberies and/or violent encounters have become a nationwide trend and a problem for police departments across the country," Foley said in a news release. "Often, one of the consenting parties on either side of these transactions is robbed of their money and/or belongings. Certainly, the greater Hartford region has experienced this trend first hand. As we have painfully seen here in Hartford, these types of incidents have had great potential for violence."

The police department's front desk is staffed 24/7, he said.

"Our public parking lots and main lobby are literally 'Public,'" Foley said. "While our lot is not very large, it is a strain we are willing to deal with to ensure these potentially violent encounters do not occur. Our police department is always willing to open our doors for our citizens. We are constantly looking for ways to encourage our community to feel welcome and safe."

"Safe zones" are also a national trend due to a string of Craigslist-related crimes, The Today Show reported.

Manchester police made another arrest on Wednesday and another days before in a laptop robbery that happened at a McDonald's during a Craigslist transaction.

In December in Hartford, a victim of an armed robbery told police that he had a "bad feeling" before men he thought he was selling tires to through Craigslist pulled a gun on him and robbed him.

Last month, West hartford police arrested a local man suspected of robbing another man trying to sell him his iPhone through Craigslist.

In New York, a man impersonated after receiving a massage from a woman who advertised 30-minute massages on Craigslist and then raped her.

Foley offered the following tips for safety when it comes to "social media transactions.":

  1. Arrange to meet at a public place like the Hartford Police Department.
  2. Bring someone with you and don't go by yourself.
  3. "Trust your instincts."
  4. Meet in a public place rather than a secluded area.
  5. Don't meet with a stranger at your home or theirs.
  6. Take particular caution if you're buying or selling something that's highly valuable.
  7. Conduct the transaction during the day.
  8. Something is normally too good to be true if it seems like it is.
  9. Let you're family or a friend know about your plans
  10. Bring your cell phone with you.

Photo Credit: Hartford Police Department

Crews Respond to Fire in Durham


Firefighters responded to a house fire on Little Lane in Durham.

No additional information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

2 Arrested in Manchester Craigslist Robbery


A person who was trying to sell a laptop through Craigslist was badly injured when the sale turned into a robbery, police said, and they have arrested two suspects.

Just before 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 7, police received a report of a strong-armed robbery at McDonald’s, at 144 Deming Street in Manchester, so they responded and met with the victim.

The victim told police he was selling a Macbook Pro laptop on Craigslist and received a text message from someone claiming interest in buying the laptop, so they made arrangements to meet at for the prospective buyers to see it, police said.

He said he sat down at a table with one of the suspects, passed over the laptop for the man to look at it, and the suspect pretended to look at it for a minute, but then ran off with it.

The victim chased after the man and soon realized the thief had an accomplice, because the other man tripped the victim and put him in a chokehold, police said, then the two suspects then ran off.

The victim sustained several injuries during the incident including a separated shoulder and some minor facial injuries, police said.

Officers investigated and arrested Lyman Depriest, 18, of West Haven, and charged him with second-degree robbery, third-degree conspiracy to commit robbery, fourth-degree larceny, fourth-degree conspiracy to commit larceny and third-degree conspiracy to commit assault.

On Feb. 25, he turned himself in to police and was held on a $10,000 cash-only bond. He will appear in court this morning.

Pentecost Asoh, 19, of New Haven, was charged with second-degree conspiracy to commit robbery, third-degree conspiracy to commit assault, fourth-degree conspiracy to commit larceny and third-degree assault, second-degree robbery and fourth-degree larceny.

Central Connecticut State University arrested him on Feb. 2 and turned him over to Manchester Police.

He was held on a $125,000 court-set bond and is due in court on March 5.

Police made the arrests at a time when law enforcement authorities in some towns are creating "safe zones" at police stations, where people can safely conduct Craigslist transactions. 

The Hartford police department is also working on making their parking lot available as a "safe zone." 

Photo Credit: Manchester Police

Monroe Man Arrested in Connection With Fatal ATV Crash


Monroe police have arrested a 36-year-old Monroe man in connection with an ATV crash that killed a man and injured two children who were riding on the vehicle without helmets.

Police said Randall Pippa, 36, of Monroe, owned the all-terrain vehicle that John Compton, 29, of Bridgeport, was driving on the night of Dec. 27, 2014.

Compton, who had an elevated blood alcohol level, hit a curb in the 200 block of Turkey Roost Road and the ATV flipped, throwing Compton, a 2-year-old girl and a 6-year-old girl, from the vehicle.

One of the girls injured was Pippa's daughter, police said.

When police responded at 6:01 p.m. on that Saturday night, they found Compton unresponsive in the road and performed CPR until he and the two girls were rushed to Bridgeport Hospital.

Compton later died at St. Vincent's Hospital in Bridgeport.

Pippa has been charged with two counts of risk of injury to a minor and three counts of first-degree reckless endangerment.

He turned himself in to Monroe police on Feb. 19, was released on a promise to appear and will appear in court on March 4.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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Pratt & Whitney Unveils Renovated Engine Center


Pratt & Whitney unveiled its renovated engine center and test stand in Middletown Wednesday morning.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy visited the 400 Aircraft Road facilty for a tour. Pratt & Whitney assembles military aircrafts there.

"To see this level of investment here in Connecticut, in your home, in your 90th year is exceptional," Malloy said.

The company also showcased its "new horizontal assembly line to produce PurePower® PW1100G-JM engines for the Airbus A320neo" at the grand opening ceremony, according to the governor's office. The engines will be tested at the Middletown facility, according to Pratt & Whitney. The system can be programmed to run automatically to meet "customer demand" accordingly, the company said.

Pratt & Whitney expects its production to "more than double by 2020," the company said.

"Advanced technological and structural improvements in the test cells will reduce the time it takes to set up and complete testing on an engine, and will enable a safer and more efficient testing process during engine product tests," Pratt & Whitney said in a statement.

The company is also upgrading its "F135 production line" to "streamline the production flow" to assemble more of the engines while maintaining high quality, the company said.

Pratt & Whitney is transforming its global operations,” Joe Sylvestro, Pratt & Whitney vice president of manufacturing operations, said in a statement. “We’re investing more than $1 billion worldwide to prepare for production increase for the F135 engine and PurePower engine family, including significant investments in our East Hartford and Middletown facilities and our new horizontal engine assembly system. Our Connecticut operations continue to be an important part of Pratt & Whitney's bright future. Advanced technology development and production, like the PW1100G-JM, F135 and V2500 lines, build on our legacy of success and position our company as a leader in advanced manufacturing.”

Malloy, Marcus Jadotte, U.S. assistant secretary of commerce for Industry & Analysis, UTC President and CEO Greg Hayes and Pratt & Whitney President Paul Adams spoke at the grand opening ceremony for the engine center.

More information on the upgrades is available on the Pratt & Whitney website.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Teens Threatened Kids at Branford Wal-Mart: Cops


Two Guilford teens are accused of crawling around, military style in a Branford Wal-Mart, and scaring children while pointing toy guns at them and yelling things including “headshot” and “bang.”

Police responded to Wal-Mart, at 120 Commercial Parkway, around 7 p.m. on Tuesday after a store employee reported that a customer was saying he was going to “snap” and was pointing a toy gun at little children while yelling, “headshot, headshot,” according to police.

Police arrived and detained Joseph O’Buck, 19, of Guilford, as well as a 17-year-old boy who are suspected of several threatening acts that were captured on one of their cell phone cameras, including military-type crawling through the store, sneaking up behind customers, tapping on the floor and yelling “bang” when the customer looked, police said.

They were also spotted climbing on store racks, pretending to “pick people off” and yelling, “headshot,” policed said.

O’Buck was arrested and charged with first-degree threatening, breach of peace and risk of injury to a minor. He was released on a written promise to appear in New Haven Court at 9 a.m. on March 10.

The 17-year-old Guilford boy was charged with first-degree threatening and breach of peace. He was released to his parents and referred to juvenile court.

Photo Credit: Branford Police

Homeless Man Arrested in Soup Kitchen Knife Attack: PD


A homeless man accused of slashing a 27-year-old man's face with a knife in a Willimantic soup kitchen led police on a foot chase before he was ultimately arrested, police said.

Jose Vega, 29, ran from police when officers responded to a disturbance involving a man with a knife at a soup kitchen operated by St. Paul's church at 220 Valley Street on Feb. 25 at 8:35 a.m., police said.

Police learned from witnesses that Vega was involved in an assault  at the soup kitchen, according to police. The victim of the attack was transported to Windham Hospital's emergency room to be treated for a face laceration, police said.

Willimantic police arrested Vega and charged him with second degree assault, second-degree breach of peace, possession of narcotics and possession of drug paraphernalia. 

Police are holding Vega on a $200,000 cash/surety bond until his scheduled appearance at Danielson Superior Court on Feb. 26.

Photo Credit: Willimantic Police Department

Dad Charged With Abducting Daughter Held on $25K Bail


A father arrested Tuesday for abducting his 3-year-old daughter from Delaware appeared in a Massachusetts courtroom on Wednesday morning.

Michael Trotta, 43, appeared in East Brookfield District Court to face a fugitive from justice charge. Local and state police, along with federal agents, tracked Trotta to Spencer, Massachusetts, after he allegedly took off with his 3-year-old daughter Elinor on Monday night.

The alleged kidnapping prompted an Amber Alert and multi-state search to find the pair.

According to court documents, New Castle, Delaware, Police alerted Spencer Police that they had information indicating that Trotta might be headed to a residence at 12 Lincoln St. Police arrested Trotta without incident on Tuesday afternoon.

Court documents describe Trotta as crouching in the back seat of the car they stopped, and also say that while talking to police, he allegedly told them he was going to kill himself but said he wouldn't have harmed his daughter.

Elinor was also with Trotta when police took him into custody and was unharmed. The FBI said Elinor and her mother were reunited Tuesday night and are now on their way back to Delaware together.

During Trotta's arraignment on Wednesday, the judge set bail at $25,000 cash and set his next Massachusetts court appearance for March 26. Trotta later waived his extradition rights and will be held until he is returned to Delaware to face charges there.

Photo Credit: Delaware State Police

Suspect in 2011 Murder of Norwich Mom Due in Court


A suspect in the December 2011 Norwich murder of a 26-year-old mother of two and the man is being held on $2 million bond and is due in court on Thursday.

Lashawn R. Cecil, 33, of Norwich, has been charged with the murder of Jaclyn Wirth, who was shot in her Norwich apartment and died at the hospital.

Police responded to Mohegan Park Apartments at 88 Mohegan Park Road in Norwich just before 2 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011 after Wirth called 911 and said she’d been shot.

Her two young sons, then 2 and 7 years old, were home during the shooting, police said, and the older boy was a witness to the crime.

At the time, police said only that they were looking for a male shooter.

On Wednesday, Feb. 4, police arrested Cecil, who has been charged with murder, felony murder, criminal possession of a firearm and first-degree criminal attempted burglary.

He is being held on a $2 million court-set bond and is due back in court in New London on Feb. 26.

Officials said the arrest warrant for Cecil is sealed until the end of March.

The arrest came after a reward was offered and the Wirth murder case was placed on cold case playing cards that were sold to inmates in Connecticut prisons.

In 2013, billboards offering a $25,000 reward were put up in Norwich in the hopes that it would generate leads.

The ad featured a photo of Jaclyn and her family, said “Who Shot Our Mommy?” and included a phone number to call Norwich Detectives.

Police said they expect to make more arrests in the case.

The court appearance Thursday will be the second for Cecil,

Photo Credit: Norwich Police

Weeks-Old Baby Missing in Calif.


A weeks-old baby was found dead Wednesday morning in a Northern California body of water, according to Yolo County sheriff's officials, who suspect it is that of missing Justice Rees.

No more information was immediately available. Sheriff's Capt. Larry Cecchettini did not positively identify the baby found just before 10 a.m., but crews from across the state had been searching for Justice along in the Ridge Cut Slough, a wetlands area found along an ocean bay, at the junction of the Sacramento River in Knight's Landing. Justice had been reported missing since Monday.

In an interview with the Sacramento Bee, Cecchettini said "it's too early to tell if there was foul play."

Police from all over California had been searching for Justice in Knight’s Landing, according to Woodland Police Capt. Dale Johnson, after the baby's mother called 911 in a panic about 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Johnson told NBC Bay Area Wednesday that the baby's mother, 23-year-old Samantha Green, was also considered missing for a time. She turned up late Tuesday afternoon in the town of Knight's Landing, on a levee road near the Sycamore Slough along the Sacramento River.

Johnson said she was "distraught and disheveled consistent with someone that had come from the slough." She also had some injuries, and she was taken to the hospital for treatment and evaluation, Johnson said.

He said authorities don't know why she appeared without the baby, or what brought her to Knight's Landing — a Northern California town with a population of about 995 people. As far as he knows, she has no known links to that town, although she has family nearby in Woodland, which is about 10 miles away.

Green's sister, Aissa Green, asked for privacy on her Facebook page around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday. 

"I have seen some very upsetting comments circulating as well as many assumptions," she wrote. "And it's only making things harder."

Right now, she wrote, "we are focused on the search for Baby Justice."

The baby's age is in question. At first, Justin was said to have been 2-weeks-old. Other officials said the baby might be 27-days-old.

Various police agencies are helping to look for the boy, including search and rescue crews from Marin County, according to Sheriff's Lt. Doug Pittman.

The Yolo County Sheriff asked the California Office of Emergency Services for help, and authorities in Contra Costa, Alameda, Sonoma and Napa counties were also asked to assist, mostly to send search dogs.

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Neuroscience Students Charged in Wesleyan OD Case


Three of the four Wesleyan University students arrested in connection with MDMA, or "Molly," overdoses that sent 11 off their peers to the hospital over the weekend were studying neuroscience, according to statements in court.

Wesleyan students Eric Lonergan, 21; Andrew Olson, 20; Zachary Kramer, 21; and Rama Agha Al Nakib, 20, were arrested on Tuesday on drug charges and immediately suspended from the school pending a formal hearing. Police said none of the students arrested were among those hospitalized.

Lonergan, Kramer and Nakib appeared in court on Wednesday and their cases were transferred to part A. Olson posted bond and is due back in court next month.

Of the people hospitalized over the weekend, two are still receiving treatment at Hartford Hospital. School officials declined to comment on their conditions, citing privacy concerns.

"The University takes allegations of the distribution of drugs seriously and is cooperating with state and local officials," Wesleyan University President Michael Roth said in a statement on Tuesday night. "We will do everything we can to make our community as safe as possible."

The charges are as follows:

  • Lonergan has been charged with possession of a controlled substance and 16 counts of illegally obtaining or supplying drugs. His bond was set at $100,000, but was reduced to $50,000.
  • Olson was charged with two counts of possession of a hallucinogen, sale of a hallucinogen, possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia. Olson's bond was oiginally set at a total of $175,000. He posted bond and is due in court on March 3.
  • Kramer was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a regulated substance and possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana. Bond was originally set at $75,000, but was reduced to $5,000,
  • Al Nakib has been charged with three counts of possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia. Her bond was originally set at $100,000, but was reduced to $50,000.

Middletown Police Chief William McKenna said all four students were in custody by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, adding that police searched "certain locations in and around the campus" to collect evidence.

In the cases of Lonergan, Kramer and Nakib, no Molly was found, but different drugs were found, according to information released in court,

Investigators are also working to identify chemicals included in the MDMA that sickened students on Sunday. Police have been investigating how the drug got to campus and believe they've identified the source of the "Molly," which they said is information that could help the ill students recover.  

A spokesperson for the university said Wesleyan is taking steps to keep students both informed and safe.

"The drug ‘Molly’ is widespread and becoming increasingly more prevalent on college campuses nationwide. Following the student hospitalizations in September, Wesleyan's Health Services Department emailed information to all students warning about the dangers of the drug," Lauren Rubenstein, Associate Manager of Public Relations at Wesleyan, said in a statement Tuesday.

Doctors call "Molly" a designer amphetamine that drug users take to feel euphoric.

Photo Credit: Middletown Police Department
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Snowy Roof Collapse Risks: What You Should Know


A month of relentless storms packing dense snow and heavy winds has left homeowners scrambling to stave off the risk of a roof collapse and prompted warnings on how to avoid one.

Yet more snow Wednesday morning pushed Boston past the 100-inch mark for the season, putting it within 8 inches of becoming the snowiest winter on record. And as the snow piled up this February, already the snowiest month in Boston history, so did the dangers to buildings.

More than 160 roofs have collapsed or faced imminent collapse since Feb. 9 in Massachusetts alone, the epicenter of this season's roof collapse epidemic, Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency spokesman Peter Judge told NECN Wednesday. Most years see none.

It's not just the amount of snow this month that's proven such a danger to roofs during this month's storms, experts say. It's the fierce winds that have piled it in drifts on roofs, along with the density of this particular snow — and the fact that it still hasn't had a chance to begin to melt.

"The snow has drifted in incredible amounts," explained structural engineer Tony Coviello, the principal at Summit Engineering in Portsmouth.

Those drifts can make it tough for homeowners to see how much snow has accumulated, and can create uneven snow loads on roofs, which can prove a problem for older homes. "Only new buildings are really designed for drifting snow," Coviello added.

The snow that has been dumped on the region this month is particularly dense snow, too, he added. He said that in Portsmouth, one foot of snow from the recent storms weighs as much as 20 pounds per square foot (PSF) — far heavier than typical snow, which can weigh as little as a third of that.

The snow isn't going away, either. "We've had no melt-off," Judge explained. "In a given year, you're going to have a couple of days. We haven't even had many sunny days, let alone warm days."

That stubborn, drifting, heavy snow poses a number of risks to roofs, a collapse being by far the most serious. But short of a collapse, heavy snow on a home's sloped roof can cause ice dams and leaks, and on a building with a flat roof, it can block heating units and cause their motors to burn out.

Here's what you need to know about the risk of a roof collapse, and what you can do about it.


Homeowners should inspect their roofs from all sides for snow — not just the front, Coviello said, since the front could be clear while the back might be covered in snow drifts.

"If you look at your roof and one side looks clear, go around and check the other side. See if it's different over there," he advised.

Renters concerned about heavy snow on their roofs should ask their property managers if they've had anybody come to inspect the roof, and otherwise they should contact building inspectors, he said.


Look for visual cues that your roof might be straining under the weight of the snow — like new cracks in walls or beams, sagging roof steel and bends in metal supports, MEMA advises.

New or severe roof leaks could be red flags, also, and be sure to listen for creaking, cracking or popping sounds or for doors that pop open on their own.

If your building's sprinkler heads are suddenly pushed down below the ceiling tiles or pipes along the ceiling appear bowed, those could signal the possibility of a collapse, too. So can doors or windows that are suddenly tough to open.


"In general, what I tell my friends is that if you have over 2 feet of snow on your roof, remove it," Coviello advised, though he cautioned that his tip was a rule of thumb and that the amount of snow a roof can handle varies.

Homeowners should remove snow from their sloped roofs from the safety of the ground — not only to avoid adding weight to an already strained roof, but also to avoid the risk of a potentially deadly fall.

In Massachusetts this week, one man died after he fell through a skylight while clearing a roof in Canton, and a teen was seriously injured in Westwood in a similar accident. Numerous other people have died or been hurt in other snow-related falls from roofs across the region this season.

"Don't go up there yourself," Coviello stressed. "Get a roof rake; hire a general contractor."


Use a snow rake to remove heavy snow from a pitched roof, starting from the edge of the roof and working their way in, MEMA advises. Snow rakes are generally available from most hardware stores.

It's best to shave the snow down to just a few inches, instead of scraping it completely clean and risking damage to roof shingles. While you're at it, clear your gutters and drains, and remove large icicles hanging over doorways and walkways.

Be sure to wear goggles and proper protective gear while you clear your roof, and be sure to keep any ladders, shovels and roof rakes away from utility wires so you don't electrocute yourself.

There's also always the option of hiring professionals to do the job — a wise decision for many homeowners. Clearing a snow-laden roof is one of the most dangerous household chores, MEMA warns, with its combination of heights plus ice.


If you think your roof may be about to collapse, leave the building and contact your local building inspector and a professional engineer immediately, Coviello says.

If you aren't in fear of an imminent collapse, you can also contact your local building or fire department with general questions about your roof, MEMA adds.

Boston residents can also contact the city's Inspectional Services Department with questions about snow removal at 617-635-5300, or call the mayor's 24-hour hotline at 617-635-4500.

Be discriminating if you're hiring a roofing contractor to repair your roof. Massachusetts residents should beware of roofing scams and look to hire licensed contractors with local references, roofing credentials, insurance and written manufacturer and labor warranties, officials say; New Hampshire residents should insist on recent references in lieu of licenses, Coviello adds.


For homeowners, the need for vigilance doesn't end once the snow has been removed. After clearing the snow off the roof, Coviello advises homeowners to check their attics for cracks or broken rafters and, if necessary, to hire somebody to fix them or reinforce the roof.

Barring that, he said, a home's roof might be in the clear.

"If you think you've escaped any problems and you've removed the snow, then count your blessings — and let's hope spring comes soon."

Photo Credit: AP

Police Commission Approves $460,000 Settlement for Koistinen


The police commission in Windsor Locks has voted in favor of paying a $460,000 settlement to a police sergeant who was acquitted of hindering the investigation into a fatal crash his son is serving prison time for.

On Tuesday night, the Windsor Locks Police Commission voted 5-0 to send a settlement agreement between Robert Koistinen and the town of board of finance.

The board of finance will review it during a meeting tonight. Should they approve it, the Board of Selectmen would vote and set a town meeting for residents to then vote, according to a news release from the police commission.

Sgt. Robert Koistinen’s son, Michael Koistinen, who was also a police officer, was off-duty on a night in October 2010 and had been drinking when he struck and killed Henry Dang, a 15-year-old boy who was riding a bicycle, according to police.

Michael Koistinen is now serving a five-year prison sentence.

Robert Koistinen was fired from the department in January 2012 and charged with hindering prosecution in the investigation into that crash, but was found not guilty of the hindering charges in October 2012.

The case then went to the state Labor Board, which decided that Koistinen should get his job back.

“This settlement has been years in the making and is the result of many hours of negotiation. The Police Commission unsuccessfully litigated the termination of Robert Koistinen before the State Labor Board and the state had also unsuccessfully tried Robert Koistinen for hindering prosecution and interfering with police,” a news release from the police commission states. “In December 2014 the state Supreme Court overturned an Appellate Court in “LoShiavo vs. Stratford” that forced the Town of Stratford to rehire the officer a case that dampens our chances of appeal.”

The proposed settlement includes paying Robert Koistinen $265,000 in back pay from January 2013 to April 1, 2015, and $195,000 to waive all claims, past and future, including in accrued vacation time and sick time.

“It is time to put this sad and tragic event behind us and move on as a department and town,” the statement says.

Should Windsor Locks residents vote yes on the settlement, Koistinen would resign, according to the board. A “no” would reinstate Koistinen to active duty, making him the fourth ranking member of the department.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Truck Crashes Into School Bus


A pickup truck collided head-on with a Dattco school bus that transports students to Plainfield schools on Wednesday morning.

Plainfield police and American Legion Ambulance responded to the crash at Valley View Road at 6:29 a.m.

James V. Rossman, 45, of Sterling, the driver of a Ford F350 told police that he hit a patch of ice while traveling in the westbound direction and veered into the on-coming lane, hitting a school bus stopping to pick up a student, police said. Jose Antonio Cardona, 33, of West Hartford, was driving the school bus at the time and told police he couldn't move out of the way to avoid the Ford from hitting the front of the bus.

There was one female student under 18 on the bus at the time. No one was injured.

Police continue to investigate the crash.

Arsonist in Triple Fatal Fire Sentenced to Life in Prison


A man convicted in 2013 of starting a triple fatal fire a few years ago that killed a family in New Haven has been sentenced to several life sentences.

Hector Natal was sentenced for starting the fire at the multi-family house on Wolcott Street in 2011 that killed three family members, including Wanda Roberson, 42, her son, Quayshawn Roberson, 8, and her niece, Jaquetta Roberson, 21.

Authorities said Natal and his father, Hector Morales,51, were part of a narcotics distribution business, which ultimately led to the arson. Morales was found guilty of trying to help his son cover up the arson and is serving a 14-year prison sentence.

After Natal was found guilty, Lynn Roberson, the sister of the mother killed, previous said the family was pleased with the guilty verdict.

"We can't get them back, but we're just happy that they're found guilty," Roberson said.

Natal was sentenced in the federal court in New Haven Wednesday afternoon.

Photo Credit: Family Photos

Teacher to Serve 2 Years in Prison for Sex Assault of Students


A Ledyard High School teacher has been sentenced to 10 years in prison, suspended after two years for sexually assaulting a student.

William C. Friskey, 36, of East Lyme, was accused of having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a female student for about a year, including some encounters at school. He was arrested June 30, charged with two counts of second-degree sexual assault and sentenced on one count.

The Ledyard High School Web site listed Friskey as a teacher of independent studies, journalism and English and police said he began working at the school in August 2007.

According to the warrant for Friskey's arrest, the student was a high school senior who was in Friskey's English class her junior year and the two began emailing back and forth after school hours.

By the end of the year, "they began sharing feelings and personal secrets," according to the arrest warrant.

The student started visiting him during her lunch breaks senior year and the two would perform sexual acts on one another in his classroom, the warrant says.

She also started going to his house on Pattagansett Court in the Niantic section of East Lyme, sometimes while Friskey's son was home, according to the warrant. They went on dates, and Friskey once reportedly wrote an email to the student asking why she considered him her lover and not her boyfriend.

"On several occasions, she attempted to end the relationship because she knew it was wrong," the warrant explains. "Mr. Friskey would always pull her back in by threatening to harm himself or telling her he couldn't live without her."

According to the arrest warrant, the student broke off the relationship "because she wasn't happy with their situation."

School administrators learned of the relationship when the technology coordinator found a letter from Friskey to the student in the recycling bin of Friskey's school-issued laptop, the warrant says.

In the letter, Friskey allegedly apologized for the sexual nature of their relationship and mourned the loss of their friendship, according to the warrant.

"The other thing is the thought of you seeing me as your abuser or even your rapist," the warrant quotes Friskey as saying in the letter. "I can't stand that thought. I deserve to feel that pain. I hope you don't see me like that."

Friskey was placed on administrative leave and must register as a sex offender.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com/Ledyard High School Yearbook

2-Year-Old Son of NFL Long Snapper Sings National Anthem


Forget football! The 2-year-old son of Cincinnati Bengals' long snapper showed he is ready for the stage when he belted out the National Anthem at a high school basketball game.

The NFL player, Clark Harris, held son Trent's hand as he led him to the court for the tot's performance.

Decked out in a blazer and with hair reminiscent of his father's mane, Trent sang in front of a packed gym ahead of a matchup between the Southern Regional High School and Pinelands Regional High School boys' basketball teams.

Clark's wife and proud mom, Jessica, posted Trent's rendition to YouTube, captioning the video: "My sons first performance!! ... I'm so proud!!!" 

Watch the full video below.

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65-Year-Old Man Harassed Darien Teen on the Phone: Cops


Authorities have arrested a 65-year-old New York man accused of calling a 17-year-old girl from Darien about 60 times from a blocked number, asking inappropriate questions and suggesting the two meet face to face, according to police.

Police said the teen began receiving calls in September 2013. The caller, later identified as Keith Jamie Reimer, 65, of New York City, would sometimes call multiple times a day and implied that he knew her.

He would ask inappropriate things, and at one point asked to meet her, according to police.

Reimer turned himself in to Darien police on Feb. 25 after learning there was a warrant for his arrest.

He was charged with two counts of second-degree harassment and was held on $125,000 bond ahead of his arraignment Wednesday.

Photo Credit: Darien Police Department

NH Man Rescued After Buried by Snow


A man survived after being buried alive for more than three hours by 2 feet of snow, New Hampshire authorities tell the Keene Sentinel.

Authorities told the Sentinel that the Peterborough man was trying to clear off his metal roof Sunday afternoon when the snow came crashing down on him.

He was reportedly trapped for more than three hours, and when firefighters arrived at his Old Street Road home, it took about 20 minutes to free him to take him to the hospital for evaluation.

"It was a very bizarre call. It was like getting someone out of an avalanche," Peterborough Fire Chief Edmund Walker told the Sentinel.

The man's name and his condition have not been released.

Do you need to clear off your roof? Find out the right way to do it here

Photo Credit: FILE - AP

3 Men Charged in Plot to Join ISIS


Three Brooklyn men who allegedly plotted to travel to Syria to join ISIS and posted online messages about planting a bomb on Coney Island and shooting police officers were taken into custody during FBI and NYPD terror raids Wednesday, law enforcement officials tell NBC 4 New York.

The men, 24- and 30-year-old Uzbekistan citizens and a 19-year-old Kazakhstan citizen who all lived in Brooklyn, allegedly planned to return to New York to commit a domestic act of terror if they failed to join the group overseas, law enforcement officials said.

The youngest man, identified in a criminal complaint as Akhror Saidakhmetov, allegedly posted on an Uzbek-language website in the last six months that he would buy a machine gun and shoot police officers and FBI agents if his plan to join ISIS was thwarted. In August, 24-year-old suspect Abdurasul Hasanofvich Juraboev posted on the board that he would kill President Obama if ISIS asked him to and asked for help getting weapons, according to the complaint.

He also said he would plant a bomb on Coney Island if the terror group asked, the complaint said. 

Law enforcement officials say any potential homegrown threat was aspirational, not operational, but authorities moved in because they believed the suspects' plans to travel abroad were imminent and their alleged intent to join ISIS real. Agents had been tracking the men for about 18 months.

In a recorded conversation in January, Saidakhmetov told an FBI informant he would "just go and buy a machine gun, AK-47, go out and shoot all police," if he could not get travel documents to Syria, according to the complaint.

"We will go and purchase one handgun ... then go and shoot one police officer. Boom ... Then, we will take his gun, bullets and a bulletproof vest ... then, we will do the same with a couple of others. Then we will go to the FBI headquarters, kill the FBI people," Saidakhmetov said, according to the complaint. 

Saidakhmetov was arrested early Wednesday at John F. Kennedy International Airport, where he was attempting to board a flight to Istanbul. Juraboev had already bought a plane ticket to Istanbul from New York and was scheduled to leave March 29. According to the complaint, the 30-year-old suspect Abror Habibov, operated a domestic support network that helped fund Saidakhmetov's efforts to join ISIS abroad. Habibov operates kiosks that sell kitchenware and repair mobile phones in retail malls in several states; he employed Saidakhmetov last fall and winter.

Last week, Saidakhmetov called his mother to ask for his passport, and when she asked him where he was going, he said, "If a person has a chance to join Islamic State and does not go there, on judgment day he will be asked why, and that it is a sin to live in the land of infidels," according to the complaint. Around the same time, federal agents observed Saidakhmetov and Habibov arrive at a Coney Island Avenue travel agency. That was when Saidakhmetov bought the ticket to Istanbul. 

Frank Cakir, the travel agent who sold Saidakhmetov the ticket, said the 19-year-old seemed young, "like a kid, not even an adult." Cakir said the suspect spoke English well and seemed calm. He only spent five to 10 minutes in the travel agency and bought a ticket to Istanbul on Ukraine Airlines. Federal officials say Habibov waited outside for Saidakhmetov and the two left in a car together. 

Cakir said there was "nothing unusual about him." He said he was shocked to learn the young man was allegedly trying to join ISIS, and that his hands hadn't stopped shaking. 

All three suspects have been charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a terror group, officials said. Juraboev and Saidakhmetov are expected to appear in Brooklyn court later Wednesday; Habibov had an additional court appearance in Florida. If convicted, each man faces up to 15 years in prison. Information on attorneys for the suspects wasn't immediately available. 

"We all take the threat of ISIS very seriously The vigilance levels that we maintain every day are our best shield," Mayor de Blasio said. "We are going to continue to deepen our anti-terrorism capacity. A lot of what we are trying to do is not only making sure we have the number of officers on anti-terror duty that we need, the training, the equipment, but that we are constantly deepening our relationship with communities all over the city so that there is a flow of information."

The mayor referred questions about the Brooklyn investigation to the FBI.

“The defendants looked to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, by flying to Turkey in a vain attempt to evade detection. And several of the defendants planned to commit acts of terror here—in America—if they could not travel, to include killing FBI agents," FBI Assistant Director in Charge Diego Rodriguez said in a statement. " The defendants violated the true tenants of their faith in pursuit of their radical, violent agenda. We rely on help from the community, the public and religious leaders to be mindful of those who could be radicalized. We cannot do this alone.”

The Brooklyn arrests come about a month after an audio recording purportedly released by ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani urged supporters to carry out lone wolf attacks. The message was posted on Twitter and jihadi forums. Intelligence analysts said the recording, which praised recent attacks in France, Australia, Canada and Belgium, appeared to be authentic, NBC News reported.

In September, members of online ISIS message boards encouraged similar "lone wolf" attacks on Times Square and other high-profile locations around the U.S. using homemade explosives. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said at the time there was no credible information pointing to any terror plot against the city, though security was stepped up as a precautionary measure.

The NYPD routinely enhances security based on threats or terror acts overseas, but the additional measures are in line with standard police procedure and not a response to a specific threat.

Such potential "lone wolf" threats as the ones mentioned in the purported January ISIS recording were a particular focus of a November NYPD counterterrorism conference, and Bratton said the department is investing more time and resources in monitoring extremist-influenced websites and social media.

In September, federal authorities in upstate New York charged a Rochester-area man with terror-related charges after they say he alleged tried to buy guns to support ISIS and boasted about wanting to kill American soldiers.

ISIS is notorious for using message boards and social media to lure recruits. Authorities are continuing to look for three missing London schoolgirls believed to have left home to join the terror group; authorities believe they have already crossed into Syria.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for killing several American hostages, including journalists Scott Foley, Steven Sotloff and aid worker Peter Kassig. Another captive American, 26-year-old aid worker Kayla Mueller, was confirmed dead on Feb. 10, four days after ISIS claimed she had been killed in an airstrike in Syria. 

-Pete Williams and Michael George contributed to this report

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York
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