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3 More People Charged in Violent Bar Brawl


Police have charged three women in connection with a violent brawl at the Red Door bar in Watertown that sent three people to the hospital over the weekend, bringing the total number of arrests to seven.

Watertown police said they are still searching for an eighth person involved in the melee.

Tichelle Teasley, 26, Chyann Stevenson, 29, and Kelly Hernandez, 31, all from Watertown, turned themselves in to police Wednesday. They were each charged with third-degree assault and second-degree breach of peace.

Police said the women were among nine people involved in a fight at the Red Door bar on Main Street in Watertown early Sunday morning. Police said the situation turned violent after security guards kicked them out.

One man was stabbed in the chest and another man was hit over the head with a beer bottle, police said. A group of people assaulted a woman, bruising her face and body after throwing her to the ground and hitting and kicking her.

Jamar "Styles" Smith, 31, of Waterbury, is facing multiple charges including criminal attempt at murder. Franklin "Frankie" Damon Jr., 33, Frederick "Freddie" Bonds, 27, of Waterbury, and Kelly Hernandez, 31, of Waterbury, are facing numerous assault charges.

Police are still searching for Jamar "Styles" Smith, 31, of Waterbury. He will face charges of criminal attempt at murder, first-degree assault, third-degree assault, first-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree breach of peace.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is urged to call the Watertown Police Department at 860-945-5200 or the Crimestoppers tip line at 860-945-9940.

Police are asking for information only. Residents should not contact or approach Smith.

Photo Credit: Watertown Police Department

Stranger Offers Granby Middle Schooler a Ride to School


School officials in Granby are alerting parents after a middle school student was confronted twice by a strange woman and offered a ride to school Thursday morning.

Granby superintendent Dr. Alan Addley wrote in a letter to parents Thursday afternoon that a woman, about 30 years old, pulled up next to the boy in a white car and urged him to get in. He refused and continued walking, and the woman confronted him again.

Addley said the student walked to Granby Memorial Middle School and was not hurt. School officials are encouraging parents to talk with their kids and remind them never to accept rides from strangers.

School administrators and teachers will be "particularly vigilant" during drop-off and pickup times over the next few days, according to Addley.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Teen Charged in Hamden School Bomb Threat


Police have arrested a teen accused of reporting a bomb threat at Whitney High North in Hamden that turned out to be fake.

The juvenile is accused of making the false claim on Feb. 27, hours after a bomb threat was reported at Hamden High School. Investigators searched the school at 205 Skiff Street and found nothing of concern, according to police.

Hamden police would not say whether the teen is a student at Whitney High North.

The teen was arrested March 19 and charged with first-degree threatening and falsely reporting an incident. Police said the juvenile is due in court April 2.

Woman Charged in String of Bank Robberies


The woman suspected of holding up banks across Connecticut has been arrested after more than a month on the run.

Jennifer Labbe, 27, who police say robbed five banks in a two-week period after escaping from prison, faced a judge on robbery and larceny charges Thursday afternoon.

Labbe, a convicted felon, was imprisoned for committing a home invasion. She was released from the York Correctional Institution in Niantic on Jan. 20 after serving a three-year sentence and disappeared days later from a Hartford residential facility.

Her robbery spree began in early February, according to police.

Hartford police and the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force tracked Labbe down and took her into custody late Wednesday night after getting a tip that she was on Blue Hills Avenue in Hartford.

Labbe was turned over to Cromwell police, where she was charged with first-degree robbery and fifth-degree larceny.

She's suspected of robbing banks in Wallingford, East Hartford, Vernon, Wethersfield and Cromwell over a two-week stretch last month.

Police said they linked Labbe to the crimes after finding her fingerprints on a pair of gloves she left behind and a bag of stolen cash.

"The bag that she had the money in – the dye pack exploded and she dropped it," said Cromwell police Capt. Denise Lamontagne.

She's been in the criminal justice system for nearly 10 years, starting with a larceny conviction, followed by one for prostitution.

Labbe is being held on $10 million bail and is likely to face charges in connection with the other four robberies.

50-Year Toll Collector


Many New Yorkers are likely to cross paths with hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people on any given day. But most would be hard pressed to top the 12 million or so that Liz Branch has met at work in the last half-century.

Branch, of Bergen, New Jersey, recently celebrated her golden anniversary as a toll collector for the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. It's a milestone few others working on the crossings between the Garden and Empire states have hit.

“I never dreamed I’d make it 50 years but I made it,' she said with a smile.

Branch, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, collects tolls overnight at the Holland Tunnel, and had been taking change from commuters since March 1965, when she was one of a handful of women to land the job.

Since then, she's worked through lane changes, plaza redesigns, the start of E-Z Pass and even the blizzard of 1978, which shut down the region.

"A lot has changed since then," she said. "An awful lot."

But there’s one constant in Branch's career --  the never-ending stream of drivers. The Port Authority says she has taken tolls from 12 million drivers -- more than half the population of the entire tri-state area -- in her 50 years. And in that time she’s learned a trick for bringing the rudest drivers down a peg.

"You hold it just enough to keep it from blowing away and when they snatch it they pretty much hit themselves," she said.

Still, she says she has good interactions with most drivers. Her sunny disposition has even gotten her some loyal followers. The Holland Tunnel's general manager, Tony Carvagno, says that some drivers will search for Branch’s toll lanes.

"She gets to know her customers,” he said. “They get to know her. They purposely look for her in the lane at night and drive through her lane."

Branch doesn't plan to hang up her toll collector's jacket any time soon. She said as long as she can make a difference in drivers' days, she’ll be ready to welcome millions more to the Big Apple.

3 Charged in Massive Meriden Drug Bust


Three people are facing charges after police raided a home on Springdale Avenue in Meriden and found heroin, morphine, cocaine, hydrocodone, suboxone, marijuana and more than $900 cash.

Investigators searched the residence at 159 Springdale Avenue on March 18 after neighbors complained about drug dealing in the area, according to police.

Authorities confiscated 113 grams of heroin, 2.8 grams of marijuana and small amounts of the other drugs, along with about $930 in cash.

Police arrested Angel Reyes, 29, and Noel Adorno, 24, both residents of a third-floor unit at the Springdale Avenue address, along with Luis Acevedo, 35, of Linsley Avenue in Meriden.

Reyes and Adorno were each charged with possession of narcotics, possession with intent to sell, possession with intent to sell in a school zone, possession of drug paraphernalia, operating a drug factory, sale of a controlled substance and possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana.

Their bonds were set at $250,000 apiece.

Acevedo was charged with possession of narcotics. His bond was set at $2,500.

All three are due in court April 1.

Photo Credit: Meriden Police Department

Fla. Toddler Reported Missing


Hollywood, Florida, police are searching for a 3-year-old boy who was last seen at 10 a.m. on Thursday.

Police say the toddler, Ahizya Osceola, was last seen in the area of 54th Avenue and Johnson Street. He is three-and-a-half feet tall and weighs 40 pounds and was last seen wearing a Florida State University sweatshirt and burgundy sweatpants.

At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Osceola's mother, Karen Cypress, pleaded for help from the public to bring her son back.

"Please call the police department so I can have my baby back," Cypress said. "I just want him back, he's my heart, he's my life. I just want him home."

Cypress said her son is very friendly and adventurous.

"He'll talk to anybody, I just don't want him harmed," she said. "He's very adventurous so I'm just hoping he's going to magically appear somewhere."

Cypress said the boy had been with his father and stepmother Thursday morning. The child was reported missing from a home located at 5420 Johnson Street in Hollywood around 10 a.m.

Police said the boy is of Native-American descent and has dark brown hair and dark brown eyes.

Chopper 6 aerials showed a heavy police presence at the house, with the perimeter of the home sectioned off with police tape.

Hollywood Police are leading the search, with assistance from the Seminole Police Department and the Broward County Sheriff's Office.

Chief Frank Fernandez said the search was being conducted on foot and in the air with the assistance of a BSO helicopter. He said officers were going door-to-door and were using tracking dogs.

"This is an all hands on deck approach," Fernandez said. "We are not leaving anything to chance so we're following every opportunity, every lead that we can find."

Anyone with information is asked to call the Hollywood Police Department at 954-764-HELP.

This is a developing story. Stay with NBC 6 South Florida for updates.

Warrant: Missing Cop Fled to Texas


A rookie Los Angeles police officer accused of murder fled to Texas with the help of his father, according to a federal warrant issued Thursday.

Henry Solis, 27, is accused of murder in the fatal shooting of 23-year-old Salome Rodriguez Jr. in Pomona last Friday. Solis had been with the LAPD since June 2014 and was terminated from the department on Tuesday.

The warrant alleges Solis got into a physical altercation in downtown Pomona, then "pursued Rodriguez on foot and shot him multiple times, killing him."

Solis is accused in the warrant of calling his father, Victor Solis, the day of the shooting.

"Shortly after these phone calls, Victor Solis left his Lancaster home in a hurry," the warrant states.

FBI agents interviewed Victor Solis in El Paso, Texas, on Monday after he, his dog and his truck were spotted, according to the warrant. Victor Solis allegedly told agents that he drove his son to El Paso on March 13 and dropped him off at a bus station, but that he does not know where his son is.

A warrant issued March 17 by the California Superior Court charged Henry Solis with one count of murder.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck on Tuesday condemned the officer, saying he "dishonored this police department, your country and your service to the country and your family."

"You should turn yourself in and face the consequences for your action," said Beck, who officially terminated Henry Solis from the LAPD later that day.

The mere fact that he is not cooperating with the Pomona Police Department and he has not shown up for work is sufficient to terminate," Beck said.

Hundreds have been mourning Rodriguez Jr.'s death, with some 200 people attending a Wednesday night vigil.

"God took the backbone of our family," Rodriguez Jr.'s mother Lidia Rodriguez told the crowd.

Eight-year-old brother JJ was in tears as he appealed for justice at the vigil.

"I would like Henry Solis to turn himself in. We just want answers," another family member said.

Police asked anyone with information to call 909-620-2085.

Andrew Blankstein contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Pomona Police Department

Sewer Main Collapses in Westport


Emergency crews will work through the night to repair a sewer main collapse on Post Road East in Westport, according to the police department.

Police said the main collapsed Thursday evening in the area of 468 Post Road. Only lane is open in each direction while crews repair the broken pipe. Police expect workers to continue through the night and into Friday afternoon.

Authorities are warning drivers to expect delays until the project is completed.

Police expect the road to fully reopen around mid-afternoon Friday and are urging drivers to take a different route during the morning commute.

Photo Credit: NBCPhiladelphia.com

Pilot Program for Police Body Cameras Clears Committee


State legislators have approved a proposal that would give state money to three Connecticut municipalities to purchase body cameras for their police departments.

If the measure becomes law, three communities – one large, one mid-sized, and one small – would be selected to participate in a pilot program that would provide data to the state.

There wasn’t much opposition to the program itself when the General Assembly's Public Safety Committee met Thursday. The main concerns had to do with what gets done with the data and video from cameras.

"I guess my thought is providing some sort of an exemption for images that might constitute an invasion of personal privacy," said State Sen. Eric Coleman, a Democrat representing Bloomfield.

Republicans agreed. State Rep. Lezlye Zupkus represents Prospect, one of eight communities in Connecticut that already utilizes body cameras. Officers can turn them off under certain circumstances.

"I actually had one of my friends have a baby in the driveway and I know if that was me I would want the camera off," said Zupkus. "So I think we need to talk about when the camera is on and off."

It's not yet clear what taxpayers may pay for the program. A spokesman for State Sen. Martin Looney, the bill's sponsor and top member of the Connecticut Senate, said the cost of the cameras could depend on which towns or cities are selected.

One member of the committee said he thinks that after the pilot program is in place and data on best practices makes its way to lawmakers, the day won’t be far off when all police departments will have to follow suit.

"I would think the next step would be to require all departments to wear body cameras," said Rep. Charles Ferraro, a Republican Orange. "Isn’t that probably a natural progression of this?"

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Mother: 5-Year-Old Put on Wrong Bus


A White Settlement, North Texas, mother is upset her 5-year-old son was put on a school bus at North Elementary School, a White Settlement ISD school in Fort Worth, when he was supposed to remain at the school for an independent after-school daycare program Wednesday.

Ashley Holder told NBC 5 her son, Gabriel Muntu, told a substitute teacher he was not supposed to ride the bus, but he was put on the bus anyway. The driver dropped him off nearly a mile from their apartment, and Gabriel walked home alone.

“He had told his substitute teacher that he was not a bus rider, and they still put him on the bus,” Holder said.

Her son crisscrossed Saddle Road before making his way across Clifford Street, a busy four-lane road, which his mom says her son told her he crossed more than once.

“He dodged cars to try to get home and I asked him, I was like, 'Were there cars, did you see them?' And he was like, 'Oh, they stopped for me,'” Holder said. “If they wouldn’t have stopped, that could have been my son’s life and that’s the only reason why I’m saying something.”

Holder said she was shocked when she found out what happened.

“I felt sick and I cried because that’s my baby, you know. He could have been hit by a car. He could have been kidnapped. Anything could have happened,” Holder said.

White Settlement ISD officials say there was a lapse in procedure at the school, and a substitute teacher was involved. The school has apologized to the family and is now reviewing current procedures to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“I asked him to show me where they dropped him off, thinking it was just around the neighborhood. No, they dropped him off over a mile away,” Holder said. “He’s supposed to have surgery on his feet and he walked over a mile with bad feet.”

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

Crash Stalls Traffic on Route 15 in Hamden


All lanes of travel have reopened on Route 15 in Hamden following a crash that stalled traffic during rush hour Thursday night, according to the Department of Transportation.

State police said multiple cars collided on the southbound side of the highway between exits 60 and 59 shortly before 6 p.m. Thursday. The Hamden firefighters' union said three cars were involved, one of which rolled over.

There has been no word on injuries.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Haddam Firefighters Help Rescue Dog From Stream


Firefighters in Haddam helped rescued a dog from a stream after it wandered away from home Wednesday afternoon and fell in, according to the Haddam Volunteer Fire Company.

The dog's owners set out searching for their pet after noticing it had strayed from their home on Geronim Drive in the Higganum section of town around 1 p.m. Wednesday. They found the pup struggling in a nearby stream and called 911, firefighters posted on the department Facebook page.

Fire officials said the dog's owners managed to get the dog out of the water on their own. Firefighters Jeff Harke and Mike Mancuso lifted the pooch onto a plastic sled and carried it 400 yards out of the woods.

Firefighters covered the dog with a blanket and encouraged the owners to the pup to a vet for treatment.

The fire company said Firefighter Tony Lafo also helped with the rescue.

Photo Credit: Haddam Volunteer Fire Company

Tolland DPW Truck Hits, Kills Worker Patching Potholes: Cops


A veteran Tolland Department of Public Works employee died after being hit by one of his own trucks while patching potholes in town late Thursday morning, according to state police.

Police said David L. Ridzon, 50, of Willington, was fixing potholes in the area of 60 Anderson Road  when a town dump track backed into him just after 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

LifeStar airlifted Ridzon to Hartford Hospital, where he was pronounced dead around 12:45 p.m.

"There was a tragic accident this morning resulting in the fatality of a town employee. We are all shocked and are grieving the loss of a dedicated employee," Town Manager Steve Werbner said in a statement Thursday.

Residents are reeling in the wake of Ridzon's death. Residents described Ridzon and the truck driver, a longtime colleague, as kind people and hard workers.

"It was just shocking. I'm a contractor, and it's one of these things that everyone's had a close call like this and you just... it makes you think sometimes," said Tolland resident Dave Busch. "My heart goes out to the families and the guys at work... and everybody involved."

An accident reconstruction team is investigating the crash. Anyone with information is urged to call Connecticut State Police Troop C at 860-896-3200.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com/Facebook
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Face of Connecticut State Police Says Goodbye


During his 16 years as Connecticut State Police spokesman, Lt. J. Paul Vance has been the face of the department during severe weather events, criminal investigations and some of the state's darkest days, like those of the brutal Cheshire home invasion and Sandy Hook school massacre.

Thursday was his last in this role. The department announced last month that Vance has been reassigned to head up the state police traffic division.

"I'm extremely proud and I think we're the best police department in the entire country when I speak for the Connecticut police," Vance said. "Quite frankly, I was honored every time I stood in front of the camera because it wasn't me doing whatever heroic efforts that were placed out there. It was the men and women of this department."

He’s served the Connecticut State Police for 41 years altogether.

Vance said the nature of his job as public information officer changed as social media became mainstream and morphed into a go-to news source. The advent of Facebook, Twitter and blogs made his job a 24/7 responsibility.

"I'm not going to miss the 3 in the morning phone calls. I'm not going to miss driving out in the snow to talk to reporters, but I will miss the media. There's no question. I've made some good friends in all different places in the media," he said.

His reassignment to the traffic division came as a surprise, but Vance said it’s not his place to advertise his opinion.

"I’m a soldier," Vance said. "I do what I’m told."

Vance said he doesn’t deserve any praise for his years on the job. He said the true joy of his position was being able to explain and convey the work of his colleagues.

"There are times when people would acknowledge me and say, 'You're the guy.' And I would say, 'No, I'm not the guy. I'm a talking head.' The men and women of this department are the people. They're the ones that get it done," he said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Shot to Death in Hartford's 5th Homicide of 2015


Hartford homicide detectives are investigating after a 31-year-old man was shot and killed at the intersection of Blue Hills Avenue and Burnham Street on Thursday night, according to police.

Police have not released the name of the victim, a Hartford resident who was shot in the forehead shortly before 10 p.m. His death marks the city's fifth homicide of 2015.

Detectives are investigating the deadly shooting and working to identify suspects. Police expect to spend the night on scene investigating.

Anyone with information is urged to call Hartford police.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Spring to Start With Snow


Spring begins Friday, but the weather has other plans. More snow is on the way and could cause problems on the roads during the evening commute.

Expect temperatures in the teens overnight, with snow starting up around mid-afternoon Friday. The storm will peak during the afternoon rush and could bring 2-4 inches to most of the state.

North-central and northeastern Connecticut will see an inch or two of fresh accumulation, according to Chief First Alert Meteorologist Brad Field. We'll see temperatures in the low 30s Friday afternoon.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory from 6 a.m. on Friday until 2 a.m. on Saturday for Middlesex, New Haven, New London and Fairfield counties.

We'll see a bit of a warmup over the weekend, with highs in the lower 40s on Saturday and upper 30s on Sunday. Temperatures will dip back down into the mid-30s on Monday before climbing again.

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Suspect in Manchester Church Copper Theft Arrested


After months of investigating, police have arrested a man accused of stealing copper from St. Mary’s Episcopal Church on Park Street in Manchester around Christmas last year.

Ryan Cottrill, 30, was arrested on three warrants Thursday and is suspected of stealing copper flashing and downsports, causing around $21,000 in damage.

Before identifying a suspect, police said a crook climbed on the church roof several times and stole the metal.

Now police said Cottrill is suspected of pilfering from the church on three occasions in December and January.

“Apparently it was a crime of opportunity,” Manchester police Capt. Christopher Davis said in January. “He saw there was value in the materials.”

According to Rev. Paul Briggs, the damage allowed a wave or water to pour from the ceiling during a church service. Although the service continued, members of the congregation had to grab buckets and mops to clean the mess.

“It was like someone turned a hose on,” Briggs said.

In the week that followed, Manchester police were able to track down some of the copper at an East Hartford scrap metal dealer. Through receipts, they learned the thief made off with metal valued at $1,200.

Cottrill was arrested outside the East Hartford Police Department on Thursday and brought to the Manchester police department, where he was charged with first-degree failure to appear, third-degree larceny, first-degree criminal mischief, third-degree larceny, third-degree burglary, sixth-degree larceny and second-degree larceny.

Bond was set at $157,500 and Cottrill is due in court in Manchester today.

Photo Credit: Manchester Police and NBCConnecticut.com
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Shelton Police Make Prostitution, Drug Arrest


Shelton police have arrested a 40-year-old Roxbury woman on prostitution and drug charges.

Local police, along with help from state police, started investigating after receiving complaints about prostitution at local hotels and online prostitution ads. After answering one of the ads, they set up a meeting with Tammra Emmons, of Roxbury, police said.

At the hotel, Emmons and the undercover officer agreed on a fee in exchange for a sexual act, police said. Emmons was arrested and police said they found crack cocaine and drug paraphernalia in the room.

Emmons was charged with prostitution, illegal possession of crack cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

She was released on a $1,000 bond and is scheduled to appear at Derby Court on April 2.

The Connecticut State Police Statewide Organized Crime Investigative Taskforce assisted in the investigation.

Photo Credit: Shelton Police

Parents Left Kids for Wine Tasting


Parents in Washington D.C. charged with leaving their toddlers locked in a freezing car for an hour while they went to a wine tasting at a bar pleaded guilty Thursday.

Christophe Lucas and his wife, Jennie Chang, were both charged with two counts each of attempted second degree cruelty to children.

As a condition of their plea deal, both must take parenting classes and comply with other probation conditions.

Last month, a pedestrian called 911 after she heard a little girl crying hysterically as she walked by a vehicle in Foggy Bottom, according to police. Upon arrival, police found a 2-year-old and a 1-year-old strapped into their car seats in the locked car, with the windows all the way up.

The parents told police they left an iPhone in the car to monitor the children while they attended a wine tasting at Ris, located at L and 23rd streets. According to police, the restaurant manager said the couple was inside for more than an hour. 

If Lucas and Chang follow all the conditions of their probation over a nine-month period, the government will not oppose a defense motion to withdraw the plea and will move to dismiss the case. 

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