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Murder Suspect Tried to Make Shooting Look Like Suicide: Cops


The Hartford man charged with murder in the city's fourth homicide of 2015 told police he had been smoking PCP with the 30-year-old victim before shooting her in the head, and admitted to putting the gun in her hand to make it look like a suicide, according to the warrant for his arrest.

Anthony Pernell, 38, was arrested following the St. Patrick's Day shooting. He's accused of shooting Wetherfield resident Lilliana Restrepo at close range in his apartment on Congress Street in Hartford.

Pernell told police he had been smoking PCP with Restrepo, who was depressed because the Department of Children and Families had taken away her child, according to the warrant. He initially claimed Restrepo shot herself in the head, but his younger brother told a different tale.

Christopher Grant, 25, who shares the apartment with Pernell, said he awoke that night to a loud bang coming from the adjacent bedroom. His brother ran into Grant's room in a panic and said, "I f*** up" and "I shot her, I shot her," Grant allegedly told police.

Grant told police he watched as Pernell putt he gun in Restrepo's hand and refused when his older brother asked him to get rid of the revolver, according to the arrest warrant. Grant called his mother, who contacted police in Shelton, and his uncle, who called Hartford dispatchers.

After police challenged Pernell's story, he admitted to shooting Restrepo and putting the gun in her hand, according to the warrant for his arrest. He told police it was an accident.

Pernell later tried to change his story a second time, saying he had gone outside to do a drug deal and returned to find Restrepo shot and bleeding, police said.

Authorities responding to the crime scene found suspected drug money and narcotics, including crack cocaine and PCP, on Pernell's person, according to the warrant for his arrest.

Pernell was charged with murder, possession of narcotics, possession with intent to sell, possession of a hallucinogen, criminal possession of a firearm and possession of an assault weapon.

He was arraigned in court Wednesday and is being held on $2 million bond until his next court appearance April 8.

Fairfield Man Shoots Pit Bull That Attacked His Dogs


Police are investigating after a Fairfield resident shot a pit bull that attacked his two dogs while they were out for a walk Tuesday night.

Fairfield police said the resident, who lives on Jennings Road and has not been publicly identified, was walking his beagle and Pekingese on Prince Street in Fairfield just before 8 p.m. Tuesday when a pit bull rushed out from a nearby yard and attacked.

The man was carrying a registered handgun and fired one shot at the pit bull, which was hurt but survived the incident. He told officers he managed to get his two dogs away from the attacker but said the pit bull then came after him, according to police.

Fairfield police said the man acted out of fear and will not face criminal charges, although police continue to investigate.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

2 Firefighters Hurt While Battling Blaze in New London


Two firefighters suffered minor injuries while battling a blaze on Riverview Avenue in New London on Wednesday night, according to the fire department.

Fire officials arrived at 73 Riverview Avenue to find fire on the second and third floors of the multi-family home. Firefighters worked from the roof and managed to get the flames under control.

Nine adults and three children have been displaced. No residents were hurt, but two firefighters were taken to Lawrence + Memorial hospital, one of whom suffered a back injury, according to the fire department.

Both injured firefighters are expected to be OK.

Authorities are investigating to determine the origin and cause of the fire.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

2 Treated for Smoke Inhalation in Southington Fire


Two people were taken to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation after fire broke out a home in the Plantsville section of Southington on Wednesday night, according to the fire department.

Fire officials at the scene said crews were called to the duplex at 20-22 Church Street after flames broke out in a second-floor bedroom and spread into the attic.

Four residents are displaced. Firefighters said two are being treated for smoke inhalation.

Some pets remain unaccounted for, but fire officials said they're optimistic about finding them. Southington Social Services has been called in to help the affected families.

Footage from the scene shows flames emanating from the roof of the house.

No additional information was immediately available.

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

New Haven Police Probe Forceful Arrest at St. Patrick's Day Parade


New Haven police have launched an internal investigation into the conduct of an officer who was captured on camera knocking a 15-year-old girl to the ground during the annual St. Patrick's Day parade on Sunday, according to a spokesperson for the mayor's office.

Video posted on YouTube shows the officer holding the teen up against an SUV, then pushing her to the ground and holding her hands behind her back. The girl appears to hit her head on the pavement.

Two or three other officers quickly intervene, dispersing bystanders and helping to hold the girl down so she can be handcuffed, the footage shows.

The video cuts off while she's still on the ground.

New Haven officials have not provided details of the incident but said Wednesday night the department is investigating.

The New Haven St. Patrick's Day parade is the largest spectator event in Connecticut and draws tens, if not hundreds, of thousands to the city.

Photo Credit: YouTube
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New Britain Rock Cats to Become Hartford Yard Goats


The former New Britain Rock Cats will become the Hartford Yard Goats when they move to the capital city next year.

Team leadership announced the winning name at a news conference at the Wilson-Gray YMCA Youth & Family Center on Albany Avenue in Hartford on Wednesday afternoon.

They emphasized the importance of selecting a name that bore reference to Hartford and its history. A yard goat is a locomotive that moves cars from track to track in the rail yard.

"A Minor League Baseball player is like that humble Yard Goat, not a glamorous job but working hard day in and day out away from the big city lights to assure that the Major League affiliate is kept on track," team officials said in a news release Wednesday afternoon.

The name was chosen from among five finalists. A naming contest brought in 6,000 submissions, and residents cast more than 35,000 online votes to select the top contenders.

The four runners up are as follows:

  • Hedgehogs, a tribute to the insurance industry submitted by Ashley Picard
  • Praying Mantis, after the Connecticut state insect, submitted by Jackson Grady
  • River Hogs, a tribute to the Hog River that flows under the city of Hartford, submitted by Julio Concepcion
  • Whirlybirds, celebrating helicopter manufacturing, submitted by Keith Timme

Anthony Castora, the brains behind the Yard Goats name, will receive lifetime tickets for his winning submission. The runners-up will receive season tickets.

The team's new label will be launched in April 2016 after the completion of Hartford's Downtown North development, which includes a new minor league baseball stadium.

The Yard Goats will play 142 games during the 2016 season, 71 of which will be held at the city's new ballpark situated between Interstates 84 and 91.

The team will unveil its new uniforms, mascot, colors and logo later on.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Wind Topples Gas Station Canopy in Middletown


Wild winds toppled a gas station canopy in Middletown early Wednesday evening, and officials say the owner's quick thinking kept everyone safe.

Hafeez Mirza, owner of the Citgo station at 572 Washington Street, said an employee saw the canopy start to sway around 1:30 p.m. as winds of up to 50 mph whipped the state.

"When I got here, I saw it swinging a little bit, so I said, 'Shut the place down,'" Mirza described. "I was worried, but what can you do? The wind was so bad. The good thing was nobody was around."

It turned out to be a fortuitous call. About two hours later, around 4:30 p.m., the canopy came crashing down. Surveillance cameras mounted above the gas pumps captured the collapse.

Fortunately, no one was hurt, and officials say the damage could have been much worse.

"The owner was fantastic. He shut it down – as soon as he saw it swaying, he shut everything right down, the electric and everything, so there was a never a chance of explosion or anything," explained Middletown Asst. Building Official Bill Lardi.

Crews are securing the canopy to prevent damage to two gas pumps that were spared this afternoon.

"Right now we are just making it as safe as we can for the night," Lardi said.

He added that severe weather is likely to blame for the collapse.

"We're looking at metal fatigue. You see where it broke over there, and this column broke over here, and just a combination of the heavy snow and the wind, it just weakens everything up," he said.

It's not clear how long it will take to fix the damage or how much it will cost.

Photo Credit: William Mierz

Contents of Tsarnaev's Computer


Thursday, jurors got a never-before-seen look at the devastation left behind after the gun battle and explosions on Laurel Street in Watertown, Massachusetts, during the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombing suspects.

FBI Special Agent Brian Corcoran testified the pressure cooker bomb that was hurled at police as they took cover behind a tree, blew shrapnel in people's yards, on roofs, embedded in houses and ended up as far as a block away.

The majority of the mangled pressure cooker was found embedded in a car parked in a driveway near 62 Laurel Street

Corcoran testified the Fagor pressure cooker was the same brand as the pressure cooker bombs that exploded near the marathon finish line.

Jurors also saw the lid of the pressure cooker that was blown into a hockey net in a yard four houses down and across the street.

And the locking mechanism for the pressure cooker lid, which was found imbedded in a home at 55 Laurel St.

The government also showed jurors the items found in this computer bag removed from the Tsarnaevs' green Honda Civic left behind on Laurel Street.

It included a "modified piece of electronics" Corcoran called a transmitter, along with a hard drive and cell phone.

Prosecutors spent several hours questioning FBI forensic examiner SSA Kevin Swindon about data found on those items as well as other laptops, cell phones and thumb drives belonging to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, allegedly showing that he downloaded several issues of Inspire magazine, published by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and several audio files and lectures from now deceased Islamic militant Anwar Al Awlaki.

Photo Credit: Alysha Palumbo
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Windham Middle School Evacuated


Windham Middle School has been evacuated because of the odor of gas and students have been taken to the W.B. Sweeney Elementary School as a precuation to stay warm.

Eversource, formerly known as Connecticut Light & Power, has responded.

The elementary school is right behind the middle school.

No additional information was immediately available.

Check back for updates.

Light Pole Down on Silas Deane Highway in Rocky Hill


A light pole is down on Silas Deane Highway in Rocky Hill near the ramp to Interstate 91 North because of a two-car crash.

No information was available on whether anyone was injured. No lanes are closed.

Firefighters Investigating at Backus Hospital


Firefighters from Norwich and Yantic have responded to William W. Backus Hospital to investigate some sort of chemical mixture.

Hospital spokesman Shawn Mawhiney said employees were moved from the lab affected, no one was injured and patients are not affected.

"Eavesdropping" Allegations at Zoo


The union representing scores of workers at the San Francisco Zoo says management is spying on employees' private conversations — but the zoo says its radio monitoring system was put in place for medical emergencies and denied the eavesdropping claims. Still, the executive director vowed to swiftly investigate the spying allegations.

The controversy traces back to 2007, when the zoo was thrust into the international spotlight after a deadly Christmas tiger mauling. That tragedy led the zoo eventually to the CommUSA radios under scrutiny, the union says.

After the Teamsters local accused the zoo of eavesdropping on worker conversations, the zoo issued a statement late Wednesday saying that the monitoring technology was disabled. California has a two-party consent law that makes it illegal to record or eavesdrop on private conversations without the consent of all parties.

Tim Jenkins, a spokesman for the Teamsters 856 in San Bruno, acknowledged in an interview with NBC Bay Area Thursday morning that his union's discovery is "really odd." His union represents about 100 workers at the zoo, including zookeepers, maintenance workers, custodians, tree trimmers and guest services workers.

"Our members are outraged," he said. "They've been thinking back about every conversation they've had with their co-workers about heath, spouses. We feel this is a huge invasion of privacy."

Jenkins laid out these allegations: Some time in the recent past, a zoo employee heard the zoo's vice president of operations Robert Icard eavesdropping on a manager and laughing about him with others in his office. "They were making fun, poking fun at him, laughing at him," Jenkins said. "And this manager was so offended he reached out to one of our union stewards and said, 'You need to know what's going on.' We were shocked and a little surprised."

Both he and the zoo's executive director have this radio technology installed on their devices turning them, essentially, into "bugs," Jenkins said. He said union members went to the zoo's management representative to confront zoo leaders about this last week.

Executive Director Tanya Peterson acknowledged the radios have these listening capabilities. But she called the union’s “eavesdropping” suggestion “false,” in a statement the zoo sent out late Wednesday.

"Zoo management has no interest in monitoring conversations of its employees,” Peterson said in her statement. “Safety is a top priority for the zoo, and this new radio system was installed to ensure zoo employees are working in the safest possible environment. Emergency monitoring on the zoo's new radio system was a vendor feature designed to assist with medical and safety emergencies. When I was made aware of the radio's capabilities, this feature was disabled."

In a followup interview with Peterson on Thursday morning, she said that with the Teamsters' "blessing and urging," the zoo bought the "best radio system it could," which has GPS tracking to locate injured employees quickly. She added she cautioned the employees that there were privacy tradeoffs. She said she disabled her remote monitoring capability in January.

She said after she was made aware of the allegations, she had the zoo's attorney begin examining the facts and interviewing people involved and taking the spying claims seriously. "I hope this is just a misunderstanding," she said. 

The union also has hired an attorney.

The radios in question were bought as a result of the highly publicized 2007 tiger attack on Christmas, where Tatiana the tiger jumped out of her grotto, injured two brothers and killed 17-year-old Carlos Eduardo Sousa Jr. of San Jose.

Not only was the zoo criticized for not having a high enough enclosure, but employees complained the panic buttons at the zoo didn't work properly.

That led to the purchase of the new radios in question, put in place in May or June of 2014, Jenkins said.

There is one thing the zoo management and employees can agree on. As Peterson put it, the "complicated relationship" is "strained at the moment."

Jenkins described the relations as "horrible," and that the union's eavesdropping claim is not likely to mend any rift between the two sides.

But he insisted the troubles aren't over money, as the union and management have just signed a 4-year contract and are not in negotiations. He said the divide is over the "culture" at the zoo.

"It's almost a paramilitary culture there," Jenkins said. "All decisions come from the top. If you question them, you're on the outs."

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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Man Threatened Utility Workers, Fired Gunshots: Cops


An East Hampton man is accused of threatening utility workers who were working on restoring power, then firing gunshots.

Police responded to 501 Moodus Road at 11:19 p.m. on Wednesday after receiving a complaint about a drunken man with a gun and spoke with two contractors, working for the utility company, Eversource, to restore power in the area, police said.

They said Jeremy J. Hackling, a 44-year-old resident of the home, was drunk when he approached them, said he had a gun and told them he didn’t want them on his property, police said.

The contractors for the company, formerly known as Connecticut Light & Power, left the property and soon after saw Hackling with a flashlight and a rifle, then they heard three or four shots, police said.

The two workers said they weren’t sure whether the shots were fired in their direction.

Officers from the East Hampton Police Department searched the property and found Hackling, who was not armed, but they did find a loaded Springfield Arms M1 Rifle and seized it.

Hackling was taken into custody and charged with threatening, interfering with an officer, criminal use of a firearm, criminal possession of a firearm, possession of a large capacity magazine, breach of peace in the second degree, unlawful discharge of a firearm, carrying a firearm while under the influence of liquor or drugs and reckless endangerment in the first degree.

Hackling posted $25,000 bail and is due in court April 9.

Photo Credit: East Hampton Police Department

Megabus Catches Fire on I-84 in Danbury


A Megabus traveling from Boston to New York caught fire while traveling on Interstate 84 West in Danbury on Thursday afternoon.

Eddie Murphy, a passenger on the bus, said he and other passengers heard a loud bang or pop on the left side of the bus and thought the tire blew or the bus was hit, then they smelled burning rubber and saw fire.

Police said they received the first report of fire in the area of exit 4 at 12:11 p.m. When they arrived, the passengers were already out of the bus.

The firefighters arrived quickly, Murphy said, and he and other people on the bus were outside for around an hour until three small buses arrived and brought them to a McDonald's unil two bigger buses arrived to bring the group to New York City.

Sean Hughes, associate director of corporate affairs, Megabus North America, said the bus was involved in "an incident" around noon and the company is cooperating fully with local officials. 

"Safety is Megabus.com's number one priority," Huges said in a statement.

No one was injured.

Photo Credit: Connectticut Department of Transportation

3rd Victim Accuses Cop of Assault


A Washington, D.C., police officer charged with sexual assaulting two teen girls, one of them at police headquarters and the other at his church, now faces accusations from a third victim, prosecutors said Thursday.

Officer Darrell Best, 45, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, was in court Thursday for a preliminary hearing when prosecutors revealed that a third victim had come forward and more victims are expected. 

Best is facing multiple charges in connection with the sexual assault of a 17-year-old girl at police headquarters and a 16-year-old girl at the church where he serves as pastor.

No charges have been filed in connection with the third alleged victim.

During Thursday's hearing, prosecutors also revealed that Best sexually harassed a female cadet he supervised in 2007. He was demoted from sergeant to police officer for an incident of sexual misconduct while on duty in 2008, prosecutors added.

Best waived his right to a preliminary hearing, acknowledging that the prosecution has enough probable cause to go to trial. He also asked to be released, but was denied.

A 16-year-old girl told police Saturday Best sexually abused her three times at the church beginning in December. He was off-duty during the incidents, police said. According to charging documents, Best was in uniform on one occasion when he raped the girl inside the church.

The second victim, who is now 18 but was 17 at the time of the alleged incident, says she was sexually assaulted in Best's office on the fifth floor of police headquarters after he took her out to dinner Dec. 3, according to charging documents. He was wearing his badge and gun at the time.

When investigators took her to headquarters to identify the location, they initially took her to another office on another floor and she was able to tell them that wasn't where it happened. When they took her to Best's office, she cried as she entered and said that's where the assault took place, according to charging documents.

Police said they have video of Best and the victim at headquarters together. They also have access key records placing Best there.

Both girls said they pleaded with Best to stop.

Best’s attorney did not dispute any of the evidence the prosecution laid out while in court, News4's Mark Segraves reported.  

Best's police authority was revoked and his gun taken when the 16-year-old came forward Saturday.

His next court date will be April 29.

Photo Credit: NBCWashington.com

Report of Armed Person at Norwich School Was False: Cops


Norwich police responded to Stanton Elementary School in Norwich on Thursday morning after receiving a call reporting an armed person in the school and said it was a false report.

Police said they received a report at 11:46 a.m. that an armed person was in the school at 386 New London Turnpike, determined it was a false report and confirmed there was no threat after searching the school.

The school was placed is in lockdown and there was conflicting information about whether students were sent home at 12:45 p.m. for a pre-scheduled early dismissal or kept later, but school officials said on Thursday afternoon that students were sent home on the early-dismissal schedule.

No one was injured.

Norwich police are investigating the threat and ask anyone with information to call the Norwich Police Department at 860-886-5561 or to call the anonymous tip line at 860-886-5561, extension 500.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man With Box Cutter Robbed Thompson Xtra-Mart


A man with a box cutter robbed an Xtra-Mart in Thompson early Thursday morning and police are looking for him.

Police responded to Xtra-Mart, at 9 Woodstock Ave., in Thompson at 1:51 a.m. to investigate the report of an active robbery and went through surveillance video.

The man with a box cutter, wearing a dark mask, a green hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans and white sneakers went into the store, asked for the money in the drawer and followed the clerk behind the counter, police said.

The robber took the cash the clerk removed from the register and placed on the counter, along with three packs of Marlboro cigarettes from the display shelf behind the counter, left the store and got into a car waiting on Senexet Road, police said.

He is described as 5-feet-2 and 5-feet-5, with a small build and blue eyes.

State police detectives from Troop D are investigating.

Anyone with information should call Detective Bavosi of EDMC Troop D at 860-779-4900.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

Couple Tried to Steal Cash Register: Cops


West Haven police have arrested a couple accused of trying to steal a cash register from a market last night.

Police responded to Krauszer’s, at 911 Campbell Avenue, at 9:10 p.m. to investigate an armed robbery and store employees said a man with a knife and a woman tried to take a cash register, but failed and ran off.

Responding officers, Chris Nolan, and Mark D’Amico, stopped two people on Spring Street who matched the descriptions of the robbers and employees said the two people stopped were the robbers.

Gary Donnell Climpson, 60, and Syreeta Greene, 30, both of 93 Clark Street in West Haven, were charged with criminal attempt to commit robbery and first-degree robbery. Both were held on bond.

Photo Credit: West Haven Police

9/11 Remains Identified as 26-Year-Old Man


More than 13 years after the twin towers fell, medical examiners have been able to identify another one of the 2,753 people who died in the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

The city identified Matthew David Yarnell, 26, by retesting DNA reference samples of remains found during original recovery efforts at ground zero between 2001 and 2002.

Yarnell, of Jersey City, is remembered as a good friend and prankser who carried around a phony $1 million bill and asked strangers if they could “break a million,” according to a New York Times portait published on Dec. 18, 2001.

According to the Times, Yarnell grew up in Kinnelon and graduated from Kinnelon High School before going to Carnegie Mellon. He worked on the 97th floor of the south tower for Fiduciary Trust Co. and was in a training session when the building was hit by United Airlines Flight 175.

The identification brings the total number of positively identified victims in the attack to 1,640.

The medical examiner's office has been retesting human remains recovered during the original recovery at ground zero, collected before May 2002.

In 2013, authorities sifted through truckloads of debris unearthed by construction crews working on the rebuilding. Possible remains of more than 20 victims were recovered.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Man Tries to Stab and Kill Elderly Parents in Seymour: Cops


A 36-year-old Seymour resident is facing assault charges after trying to stab and kill his elderly parents during a fight over damage to the family property, according to police.

Police said Christopher Nevers became "enraged" during an argument with his parents at their home on Skokorat Street in Seymour on Wednesday night and tried to attack them with a kitchen knife.

Officers were called to the house around 9:30 p.m. and arrived to find Nevers running from the property. He ignored their commands to stop and continued fleeing through neighboring yards. Officers lost sight of him and a K-9 team failed to track him down, according to police.

Police said Nevers' parents managed to escape unharmed and were standing in the driveway when emergency responders got the scene. Medical personnel checked them out as a precuation.

Officers went back to the house at 10:30 a.m. the next morning and found Nevers in the basement.

He was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree assault, two counts of criminal attempt at first-degree assault on an elderly person, one count of third-degree criminal mischief, one count of second-degree threatening and one count of interfering with an officer.

Nevers was held on $75,000 bond prior to his arraignment in Derby Superior Court.

Photo Credit: Seymour Police Department
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