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School Assistant Barricaded Student


An after-school assistant in California was arrested after some bizarre behavior, including barricading several students into a classroom, taking off her clothes and upending desks, according San Diego County Sheriff's officials.

At about 4 p.m. Wednesday, Linda Lira, 31, started acting strangely at Lemon Grove Academy and shut herself into a room with students.

After several minutes, the children became scared by her behavior, so they used her campus radio to call for help and alert other teachers.

Staff fought Lira to get inside the classroom and get the children out, sheriff's officials say.

They told authorities Lira showed signs of being on narcotics or a hallucinogen. As she struggled with staff, she took off her clothes.

By the time deputies arrived, Lira had barricaded herself in the classroom again. Deputies say she was throwing things, toppling over desks and putting on and removing her clothes over and over again.

Law enforcement was eventually able to take her into custody, and she was first transported to the hospital for evaluation.

On Thursday, investigators returned to the school and interviewed students to count her offenses. Lira was taken to Las Colinas Woman's Detention Facility on 14 felony counts of child endangerment and 14 felony counts of false imprisonment.

The suspect could not be reached for comment Thursday evening.

The Lemon Grove School District had social workers and therapists at the campus for those affected by the incident. Lemon Grove Academy is a seventh and eighth grade school located at 7885 Golden Avenue.

Photo Credit: Google Maps

Teen Mom, Infant Son Missing From Bridgeport


Police are searching for a 17-year-old mom and her infant son after the two went missing earlier this month.

Taylor Rodriguez, 17, and her 1-month-old son Josiah were last seen March 15 in Bridgeport and may be in New York or elsewhere in Connecticut, according to police. Authorities issued a joint Silver Alert for the two on Thursday.

State police are considering Rodriguez an endangered runaway.

She was last seen wearing a black jacket, blue jeans and beige moccasins. Rodriguez stands 5 feet 4 inches tall, weighs 100 pounds and has blonde hair and brown eyes. She was carrying a Mickey Mouse baby bag and had her son in tow.

Josiah has brown hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a blue winter coat, white shirt with a blue star on it and royal blue pants.

Anyone with information on their whereabouts is urged to call Bridgeport police at 203-576-7671.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Police Department

NY Building Collapses, Sparks Fire After Explosion


Construction workers inside a sushi restaurant in the East Village accidentally hit a gas line, causing an explosion that injured 19 people, sparked a massive fire and caused three buildings to collapse, law enforcement sources tell NBC 4 New York.

The explosion inside 121 Second Ave., between East 7th Street and St. Marks Place, caused the buildings at 121, 123 and 119 to collapse after they became engulfed in flames, according to city officials. No. 125 was still burning Thursday evening.

The approximately 250 firefighters on the scene have managed to contain the 7-alarm fire to those four buildings, and are expected to stay "for a very long night," said Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro. 

"The initial impact appears to have been caused by plumbing and gas work that was occurring inside 121 Second Avenue," said Mayor de Blasio at a news conference Thursday evening detailing the explosion that injured at least 14 civilians and five emergency responders. 

Officials say four of the civilians were critically injured, and seven others had minor to non-life threatening injuries. Three others were evaluated on the scene and didn't need medical attention. 

The most critical patients have respiratory burn, according to officials, which is different from smoke inhalation and is caused by the inhalation of hot gas or burning particles that result in tissue damage to the respiratory system. 

Four firefighters and an EMS responder had minor injuries, officials said. 

All firefighters were accounted for after the explosion, the FDNY said. De Blasio said there have been no reports of additional missing persons, but urged concerned relatives or friends to call 311.

There were no calls to either 911 or Con Ed reporting any type of gas leak or concerns before the explosion, de Blasio said.

However, shortly before the blast, Con Ed inspectors were at the site to evaluate work the building plumbers was doing in connection with a gas service upgrade, according to Con Ed President John McAvoy.

Con Ed said the restaurant was swapping a single gas meter for multiple gas meters as part of a renovation, but the work failed the inspection, partly because there was insufficient spacing for a new gas meter in the basement. The inspectors gave instructions on what changes were needed, then left. 

About an hour later, a worker who opened a door to a closed area of the kitchen smelled gas and tried to start an evacuation, according to a source close to the investigation. That's when the explosion occurred.

Huge flames were shooting out of the front of the buildings at the height of the blaze, and thick plumes of white smoke could be seen billowing from the structures in the tightly packed, business-heavy neighborhood.

The flames and smoke could be seen from at least 20 blocks north, and the smell of smoke was detected as far north as midtown, including at the NBC offices at Rockefeller Center.

People were seen laying on the ground in front of the restaurant, apparently unconscious, immediately following the explosion, multiple witnesses told NBC 4 New York.

A neighbor who lives on Second Avenue and East 7th Street told NBC 4 New York he was home when he heard a loud explosion that "shook everything."

"When I went outside, I saw people running and broken glass everywhere," said the neighbor, David Hollands. 

Others described hearing something like a bomb or a car crashing through a store. 

Hollands said the storefront at 121 Second Ave. was entirely blown out, with glass strewn over 200 feet. He said within two minutes, at least 20 fire trucks rushed to the scene.

Hollands' building and others nearby were evacuated, and firefighters continued to push back residents further away as the collapse danger zone expanded. 

Another witness, Lorne Colon, said he saw the "entire building explode" and that there were "definitely people inside the restaurant." 

"Within minutes, there were hundreds of people on the street," said Colon. 

A resident at 124 Second Ave. across the street, Larry Gregory, said he saw several people laying on the sidewalk in front the restaurant after the "loudest explosion I've ever heard in my life" and that others "were running around in a panic." 

Several people rushed to the buildings to help trapped or distressed residents, multiple witnesses said. One neighbor on the block and the manager of nearby Dallas BBQ restaurant separately recounted watching a civilian help a woman down from a fire escape on one of the collapsed buildings before firefighters arrived. One Twitter user also captured the rescue:

Gregory, the neighbor across the street, said acrid smoke was permeating the neighborhood in the aftermath of the explosion. 

Fire radio transmissions captured by Broadcastify.com reveal the collapse threat firefighters faced as they "made extremely dangerous searches" for people possibly trapped inside, according to Nigro. 

One radio dispatch could be heard: "All incoming units are advised not to enter the building at all. We're going to pull them out of the building and off the rooftop. All units responding to Box 436, remain outside the building. Do not respond." 

"The first two floors of 121 are totally collapsed. It's a five-story, non-fireproof building. We're totally involved with fire at this time," another dispatch stated minutes later. 

Con Edison were shutting down gas service in the area as a precaution. 

During the restaurant renovation at 121 Second Ave., gas service was supposed to be cut off, according to Con Ed officials, so investigators are now looking into what fueled the explosion. The utility said it was looking into whether gas complaints were filed there recently. 

The private contractors doing the work inside the restaurant have not been identified.

The Red Cross has set up a relief center for affected neighbors at PS 63, at 121 E. 23rd St. 

Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Joe Esposito said a crew will be working to get rid of as much debris from the explosion -- like the splintered wood, bricks and glass -- as quickly as possible. 

Esposito urged neighbors to keep their windows closed and to limit their time outside as much as possible. Those with respiratory or heart conditions should remain especially alert to conditions and seek medical attention immediately if they feel discomfort. 

An NYPD unit was seen setting up an air quality monitor at the scene. 

The explosion comes a week after the one-year anniversary of the East Harlem explosion that leveled two buildings and killed eight people. The blast also injured dozens of people and left many homeless for months. 

Since the 2014 explosion, the FDNY has been given a much greater role in responding to reports of possible gas leaks and New Yorkers are now encouraged to call 911 about gas leaks and odors rather than 311. 

The city will open a resident service center at the Tompkins Square Branch Library at 331 East 10th Street at 8 a.m. Friday.

Gas Line Eyed in Explosion: Sources


Authorities are investigating whether the gas line in a basement below a sushi restaurant was rigged in a possible gas-theft scheme, causing the leak that may have set off Thursday's fiery explosion in the East Village. Two dozen people were injured and two still are missing after the blast that leveled three buildings.

"There is a possibility here that the gas line was inappropriately accessed internally by people in the building," but officials need to get access to the wreckage to explore it further, Mayor de Blasio said during a press conference Friday. He wouldn't say more about why officials believe that's a possibility.

Sources familiar with the investigation tell NBC 4 New York that in August inspectors found the gas line in the basement rigged with a rubber hose to circumvent the Con Edison gas meter. Safety violations were registered and an immediate shut down was ordered until the problem was corrected, the sources said.

No one was charged with any wrongdoing at that time and the case was treated as a safety violation by inspectors, the sources said.  Investigators now want to know if a similar gas-theft scheme was being employed again. The investigation is in its beginning stages and nothing has been ruled out, the sources said. 

The contractors working on the Sushi Park restaurant did not have permits for gas work, the mayor said Friday.

The Manhattan District Attorney's office has joined the NYPD, fire marshals and building inspectors in the probe into the cause of the explosion that sparked a fire that could smolder for days in the rubble of three buildings that once occupied Second Avenue and E. 7th Street.

Firefighters were still working to put out hot spots Friday, Chopper 4 video over the scene shows, and rescue workers with K9 units were on the scene searching for the two missing people. Con Ed has shut off gas to 187 residential customers and 32 commercial customers in the area as the FDNY continues its recovery work. 

Inspectors with Con Ed had been to the East Village building to check on ongoing work to upgrade gas service. The utility said the work didn't pass inspection, so gas wasn't introduced to the line, and inspectors gave instructions and left at around 2:45 p.m. Con Ed said inspectors didn't smell any gas.

But at around 3 p.m., the sushi restaurant owner smelled gas and called the landlord, who then called a general contractor, Boyce said. No one called 911 or Con Ed, however, de Blasio said.

The contractor, Dilber Kukic, and the owner's son went into the basement and opened a door, and then the explosion happened, burning their faces, NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said.

"The whole area was shaking," said Moishe Perl, who works next door. "We couldn't imagine what was going on." 

The building had an existing gas line intended to serve the sushi restaurant; the work underway was to put in a bigger line to serve the entire building, Con Ed President Craig Ivey said. As for whether the apartments were getting gas from the existing line, "That's a great question," he said.

"We'll have to find out, through the investigation, what's going on there," he said.

Con Edison later added in a statement: "As we do in all cases when a customer is upgrading to a new gas service, we conducted careful inspections at 121 2nd Avenue. Our records show the work of the building's plumber failed two inspections, including the inspection our personnel conducted yesterday afternoon. At no time was use of the new service line authorized by Con Edison. That service was locked to ensure that it would not be used. The ground-floor restaurant was being served by its current, smaller gas service line."

Calls to the building owner were unanswered. The owner's son reached by phone in his hospital room declined to comment. The listed contractor did not return messages. A subcontractor hired to handle gas lines did not return calls for comment. 

City records show the contractor, Dilber Kukic, got a permit last June for plumbing, flooring, removing partition walls and other work at the building.

Kukic had tried to help people escape the explosion and had been helpful to authorities, Boyce said.

The contractor -- who's facing unrelated charges of bribing an undercover investigator posing as a housing inspector -- was injured in the blast declined through his lawyer to comment on the circumstances surrounding the explosion.

Kukic is a relatively minor player in a 50-person bribery case that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. and other authorities unveiled last month. They said city inspectors, landlords and contractors formed a network of graft that exchanged $450,000 in payoffs to get safety violations dismissed, procure phony eviction orders and get fast, favorable and sometimes nonexistent inspections.

Kukic is accused of paying $600 in cash to try to get housing violations dismissed at two upper Manhattan properties he owned. He has pleaded not guilty. 

Twenty-two people were injured in the blast, four critically, city officials said Friday. Among the injured were six firefighters. Patients with non-life threatening injuries were continuing to be treated and released from local hospitals.

Meanwhile, businesses and residents who occupied the three buildings that were destroyed are trying to pick up the pieces. Dozens of people and businesses were displaced at least temporarily by the blast. Eleven buildings were evacuated following the explosion, though NYPD officers allowed some residents to return briefly to their apartments Friday to grab a few items. 

Chelsea Blampied, who lived in one of the leveled buildings, said she'd stopped home to get a work file from her third-floor apartment when she heard and felt the blast. 

"I thought a plane crashed into my building. Glass was blown everywhere, and it was just so surreal," she said. 

"I just heard a really loud boom," recounted neighbor Justine Miller. "I could feel it in my chest." 

Neighbor Troy Hinson was walking to the sushi restaurant when it "literally blew up in front of my face," and said "it really felt like my internal organs were reverberating. It just feels like everything was shaking, including my teeth."

"You just don't know what hit you, it just feels like a sonic boom, there's no real other way to describe it," he said. 

Blampied left behind all her belongings and ran through smoke and debris down the stairs to safety as her building began to crumble. She's now staying with friends and is grateful she made it out alive. 

"It's so overwhelming. Everyone lost everything," she said. 

Gregory Dohdanowycz was in his top-floor apartment in the building next to where the blast happened. 

"I look out the window, and I see two buildings south of me, there's smoke rising from the windows and their roof windows," he said.

He only had time to grab his dog before running outside, and was overwhelmed by the horrific sights and sounds when he got outside. 

Neighbor Miller said: "There was blood on the ground. There were people laying up against buildings and other people trying to help them."

Actress Drea de Matteo is among the residents who lost her home and belongings in the explosion. She took to Instagram Thursday to share two dramatic photos of firefighters battling smoke and flames. "A hole where my NYC home of the last 22 years once stood," she wrote in one caption. "RIP 123 2nd Avenue." The photos appeared to be taken from a rooftop across the street.

Naya Jones, who spent the night at the YMCA after being told to leave her building near the blast site, went to the Tompkins Square Library Friday, where the Red Cross and other relief groups were offering financial assistance, food, vouchers and advocacy help. 

The Red Cross said it has helped more than 80 people since the blast and gave housing assistance to 30. The Standard Hotel is giving anyone displaced by the blaze three free nights of lodging. Sprint has also donated 25 cellphones. 

The ASPCA is also providing pet supplies for owners in the affected area.

"It's a small community," said Bohdanowycz. "I think everyone is trying to help out when something bad happens." 

Hinson, who's lived in the neighborhood four years, said, "I love the sense of community, and everybody comes together and helps each other out and is here for each other." 

Several long-standing businesses were also affected by the destruction. Pommes Frites, a favorite spot for fries, was destroyed by the blast, and the nearby Orpheum Theater had to cancel performances of the off-Broadway production of "Stomp."

Robert Seniuk, the chef at Stage restaurant across the street, is determined to get back to work.

"We open, we don't give up. This city is 24 hours," he said. 

Nevertheless, the frightening explosion has taken a toll on the psyche of New Yorkers everywhere.

"Yesterday was a very scary day. Now all I can do is think about the people who lost their homes and people who've been living here for decades," said neighbor Adam Mashaal. 

Hinson said he had stopped on the corner to say goodbye to his friend just before the sushi restaurant exploded.

"The fact that I was literally -- if I didn't stop and talk to my friend, I would possibly be in that building," he said. "That's kind of what's messing me up... All these crazy thoughts are going through your head after this happens, like, why me? Why am I safe, why is something again happening to me? It's just crazy. I'm having just a hard time processing it." 

Health officials say the air quality in the area has returned to normal levels and that short-term exposure to elevated particulate levels Thursday didn't pose a significant risk to the public. They say the smoke odor may linger, but isn't harmful. Still, those with respiratory or heart problems should remain extra vigilant. 

The explosion comes a week after the one-year anniversary of the East Harlem explosion that leveled two buildings and killed eight people. The blast also injured dozens of people and left many homeless for months.

Since the 2014 explosion, the FDNY has been given a much greater role in responding to reports of possible gas leaks and New Yorkers are now encouraged to call 911 about gas leaks and odors rather than 311.

Photo Credit: @The_Last_View/Twitter

Suspect Dragged State Trooper 60 Feet: Police


Two state troopers were hurt, one dragged by a car, while working undercover during a drug investigation in Griswold on Thursday.

Around 4 p.m., the troopers approached a man believed to have heroin while he was returning to his home on Norman Road.

The suspect, identified as 29-year-old Ryan Johnson, tried to get away. Police said Johnson put his car in reverse and started backing up with the driver's side door open.

According to the prosecutor’s report, Trooper Michael O’Hara was dragged 20-30 feet by the force of the car moving backward.

That's when O'Hara lodged a bullet into the front driver's side door of Johnson's car.

"I was cooking dinner, heard a loud pop," neighbor Jenifer St. Denis said. "I said, 'Oh My God' where were the shots fired? Where were they aimed?'"

Johnson's car continued another 40 feet before finally stopping, according to the report. O'Hara was hospitalized for treatment of cuts on his leg and elbow. His partner was also treated for minor injuries.

Many neighbors complained of past problems at Johnson's home, and prosecutors noted his history of drug arrests in court documents.

"They think they're slick. They'll have people pull up to the mailboxes and he'll jump out his back door and over the fence, like it's not obvious what's going on,” said St. Denis.

Johnson, a father of two who was already on probation for a 2013 burglary, was arrested in two separate incidents this year, accused of drug possession and driving with a suspended license.

In this case, prosecutors charged Johnson with assault of public safety personnel, interfering with an officer, assault and heroin possession.

"We've had cops raid their house God knows how many times now. It's about time it's ended,” said St. Denis.

Johnson's bail was set at $500,000 bond. He’s due back in court in April.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Accused of Killing Worker After Asking for Job Hospitalized


A man accused of shooting and killing a worker at a Bridgeport construction site was scheduled to be arraigned on Friday, but he has been taken to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation and his court has been postponed.

Police said Jose Araujo, 30, was working with Burns Construction Company in the area of Chopsey Hill Road and Pond Street when Gregory Weathers, 33, shot him to death. The two men had never before met, authorities said.

According to police, Weathers asked the foreman for a job, then left when he was directed to the company office. He returned minutes later with a gun and targeted Araujo for what police said was "no apparent reason."

Two officers who were directing traffic at the construction site chased Weathers and called for backup. They found him hiding behind a house on Saunders Avenue, across the street from where he lives, police said.

Investigators recovered a handgun and said Weathers admitted to the shooting. He was taken into custody and charged with murder and weapons violations.

Police said Weathers has been taken to Bridgeport Hospital and it's not clear when he will appear in court.

Araujo's friend, John Gomes, described his late friend as "loved by everyone."

Gomes said Araujo, like himself, immigrated from Cape Verde in search of a better life and worked hard to provide for his family.

During a news conference on Thursday, Police Chief Joseph Gaudett was at a loss for words and said investigators are baffled by the "senseless tragedy" that took the life of an innocent man.

Investigators are looking into Weathers' history and will search his home for clues.

The Cape Verde Association is accepting donations on behalf of Araujo's family. You can send a check to:

235 Linen Avenue
Bridgeport, CT 06604

Photo Credit: Bridgeport Police

Truck Rollover Snarls Traffic on I-691 East


Commuters had a slow ride to work on Friday morning after a Tropicana truck hydroplaned and rolled over on Interstate 691 East before exit 10 in Meriden.

The truck rolled over around 5 a.m. and parts of the highway were closed during the morning commute.

Brian Ventura, of Meriden, was stuck in the backup and called the ride to work this morning "terrible."

Mike Cresta, of Farmington, said he used GPS to find a detour when he realized what was going on.

"It was backed up about a mile and there were signs flashing, saying there were going to be delays, so I knew it was coming," he said.

One popular detour was East Main Street to Interstate 91 South, so that too was congested.

The road issues not only made Cresta late, but they also used up a lot of gas.

"(M)y gas light came on, so I had to stop for gas. When it rains, it pours, literally," he said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Music Teacher Accused of Sexually Abusing Children


A school music instructor from Kent, Connecticut has been charged with sexually assaulting two children during private lessons in New York.

The Special Victims Squad of the Nassau County Police Department in New York arrested Kenton Burt, 62 of Kent, on Thursday afternoon at his place of employment, Burt Music School in Hicksville, New York.

Burt was employed as a music instructor at the school and is accused of sexually abusing two female students between the ages of 9 and 14 several times during private lessons between January 2012 and March 2015, police said.

He has been charged with two counts of first-degree sexual abuse and will be arraigned on Friday at First District Court in Hempstead.

Detectives ask anyone who was a victim of Burt to call the Special Victims Squad at 516-573-4022.

Photo Credit: Nassau County Police Department, New York

West Hartford Man Accused of Sexual Assaulting Juvenile


Danbury police have arrested a West Hartford man who is accused of sexually assaulting a juvenile.

Special Victims Unit Detectives from the Danbury Police Department went to West Hartford on Friday to serve a warrant on Pedro Souza, 52, of West Hartford.

He was taken into custody and charged with two counts of first-degree sexual assault, two counts first-degree sexual assault, four counts of risk of injury and four counts of risk of injury.

He was held on a $200,000 bond. Police said no further information is available.

Photo Credit: Danbury Police

Colchester Homicide Victim Was Stabbed: Police


State police have identified the woman found stabbed to death in Colchester earlier this week as Nicole Kummer, 28, of Hartford.

Police are investigating her death as a homicide and they are asking anyone who has information about Kummer's death to come forward.

Troopers were called to the intersection of Cato Corner Road and Pine Street around 5 p.m. on Wednesday after a woman's body was found and reached out to the public because they were trying to identify the woman.

They released a description, saying she was between 25 and 35 years old. with dark hair that has been dyed red. She had several facial piercings, a tattoo on her left bicep that read "Jayden" and a tattoo on her right bicep that read "Nicole," according to state police.

On Friday morning, police said they had a tentatively identified the woman and released her name on Friday afternoon.

Anyone with information to help police identify her or that will help police determine the circumstances of her death are asked to call State Police Eastern District Major Crimes at 860-896-3230 or the Connecticut State Police Message Center at 860-685-8190.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Autistic Boy Forced to Remove His Letter Jacket


A mother is outraged after her son's school forces him to remove a varsity letter jacket because special-needs athletes aren't allowed to wear the letters.

CEO Stabbed Wife, Killed Self


A high-profile South Jersey hospital CEO stabbed his wife to death and then set fire to their bedroom in a bizarre murder-suicide, according to a report released Friday by investigators in Somerset County, New Jersey, nearly six months after their deaths.

The determination brought no closure to the couple's family, though, who called prosecutors' investigative work flawed and vowed to sue.

Firefighters found Cooper University Health System CEO John Sheridan Jr, 72, and his wife, Joyce, 69, in the burning master bedroom of their Montgomery Township, New Jersey home on Sept. 28, 2014.

The revered top executive stabbed his wife multiple times in the face and once in the chest, perforating her aorta, which ultimately caused her death, according to the investigation results released on Friday.

He then turned a knife on himself, doused the room with gasoline and set it ablaze, trapping them inside, police said.

"Somebody's tapping on the window," said a neighbor in a chilling call to 911 that morning. "Somebody's trying to get out." That person very well have been Sheridan's wife of 47 years.

Initially, it was reported that Joyce Sheridan was alive when she was found by firefighters inside the couple's bedroom, but following the six monthlong investigation, it was determined that the retired schoolteacher was dead before her husband set fire to the room.

The coroner ruled John Sheridan died of "sharp force injuries" to the neck and torso and smoke inhalation. His body was found underneath a heavy, burning wooden armoire which fell on him, breaking five of his ribs, according to investigators. A large carving knife, covered in Joyce's blood, and serrated bread knife were found near the bodies.

Investigators conducted 180 interviews during their probe. Some colleagues of John Sheridan said he seemed "withdrawn," "very upset" and "out of character" because of work-related issues in the days leading up to the deaths.

The Sheridans' sudden and violent deaths shocked colleagues, family and friends who regarded the couple as liked and seemingly happy.

Sheridan joined Cooper in 2005 and is credited with helping transform the health care system, including adding a cancer center and medical school. Mrs. Sheridan was a teacher at South Brunswick High School who had a passion for helping students in need. They were friends of governors and other politicians.

"The death of our parents has left a hole in our hearts and family that can never be filled," the family said in a statement following the discovery.

But Friday, the couple's four sons — Mark, Matt, Dan and Tim Sheridan — angrily blasted prosecutors' ruling calling it an "embarrassing bungling" of a murder investigation.

“From the outset we have said that no one wants answers about our parents’ deaths more than we do. The conclusion announced today fails to provide those answers," they said in a statement.

The men questioned several aspects of the investigation including how their father wound up under the heavy furniture after stabbing himself, why there was no motive for the suicide and why investigators failed to find the knife used to carry out the self-inflicted wounds.

Prosecutors admitted they could not locate the weapon, but did test a melted piece of metal on the bedroom floor. They couldn't, however, say if it was a knife that that melted in the fire.

The children went on to say county prosecutor Geoffrey Soriano told them he had "no idea what happened in that room." They also question the ruling out of foul play by an intruder.

"This conclusion seeks to convict our father based on little more than rank speculation," the men said. "We will be filing a lawsuit challenging the conclusion announced by investigators."

"We will not allow our father to be convicted based on guesswork resulting from an inadequate and incomplete investigation simply because he is not here to defend himself," they went on to say.

In a statement, Soriano called the family's loss unfathomable, but defended the ruling saying, "we stand confidently behind the results of this investigation which was completed in a very methodical and comprehensive fashion by a number enforcement agencies, including our State Medical Examiner's Office."

Photo Credit: Courier-Post Online

State Officials Consider “Yes Means Yes” Bill


The Connecticut state legislature is considering the so-called “Yes Means Yes” bill to set a standard on college campuses on what it means to consent to sex.

The purpose of the bill is to help curb sexual assault and intimate partner violence at schools and universities.

The bill defines affirmative consent and makes it each student’s responsibility to ensure that the other consented to sexual activity.

Lawmakers have also defined affirmative consent as “active, informed, unambiguous and voluntary agreement by a person to engage in sexual activity with another person that is sustained throughout the sexual activity and may be revoked at any time by any person.”

It takes into effect whether the students are intoxicated, unconscious, asleep, unable to communicate, incapacitated and more.

Senator Mae Flexer, a Democrat from Killingly, and State Rep. Gregory Haddad, a Democrat from Mansfield, held a news conference on Friday about the bill, Senate Bill 636, which passed the Higher Education Committee on Wednesday with a vote of 14-to-3 vote and now heads to the state Senate.

The Permanent Commission on the Status of Women said they love the bill, but raised objections to committee discussion on parts of the bill, specifically the notion that women frequently lie about being victims of unwanted sexual activity, they said.

They also objected to any implication that “mild” forms of unwanted sexual activity might be permissible and that prior consent could be a greenlight for future sexual advances, even if unwanted.

“While not wishing to cast any doubt on the sincerity of our elected officials in crafting public policy for the good of all, the PCSW believes that the tone of this publically broadcast committee meeting indicates we need a better framework for discussing sexual violence against women, an issue which has direct, severe, and long-term implications for our educational, social and public safety climates,” the commission said in a news release.

3rd Car Found With Bullet Hole in Ridgefield


Police are stepping up patrols in a Ridgefield neighborhood after bullet holes were found in three cars parked outside.

According to police, two vehicles were struck by a single bullet on Bennetts Farm Road during the early morning hours of March 23.

Authorities believe a third car at a separate address was also shot that day, but no one noticed or reported it until Thursday.

Police have increased their presence in the neighborhood since the first report and are asking residents to call the department if they notice suspicious activity.

Anyone with information or who lives in the area and has outside surveillance cameras is urged to call Ridgefield police detectives at 203-431-2794 or submit an anonymous tip by calling 203-431-2345.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Missing From Milford Considered Endangered


A 57-year-old man missing from Milford for nearly a week has an extensive medical history and may need medication, according to police.

Police said Donald Antoniak was last seen March 231 at the Shoreline Motel on Boston Post Road in Milford. He was wearing blue hospital-type scrubs at the time of his disappearance.

Antoniak stands 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs between 300 and 350 pounds. He has gray hear, a beard and hazel eyes. Police said Antoniak has a medical history and may need medication.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is urged to call Milford police at 203-878-6551 or contact Det. William Haas at 203-783-4771 or email whaas@ci.milford.ct.us.

Photo Credit: Milford Police Department

Massive Gator Spotted Again


The giant alligator spotted at an Englewood, Florida, golf course is back -- and this time, he's hungry.

The Myakka Pines Golf Course posted a new photo to Facebook Thursday of their famous resident -- a giant alligator affectionately known as "Goliath."

This time, Goliath is chowing down on a giant turtle.

"Sorta nasty to see, but it's the reality of wild animals," the club says on their Facebook page.

Mickie Zada, manager of the club, estimates that Goliath is at least 12 to 13 feet long.

The reptile earned his name after the club polled fans on Facebook on what they should name him.

The other choices were "Viral" and "Myakka Mike."

Photo Credit: Myakka Pines Golf Club

19-Year-Old With Mild Autism Missing From Plainville


Police are searching for a 19-year-old who suffers from a mild form of autism and went missing from his home in Plainville on Thursday morning.

Investigators believe Leoule "Leo" Kassahun left his house on foot March 26. He does not have a driver's license and has not been known to drive a car, according to police.

Police said Kassahun is 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 130 pounds. He has brown eyes and black afro about 4 inches long.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is urged to call Plainville police at 860-747-1616.

Photo Credit: Plainville Police Department

Elderly Driver Hits ECSU Student Crossing Street in Willimantic


A 19-year-old student at Eastern Connecticut State University was taken to the hospital Friday morning after an elderly driver struck her while she was crossing the street in Willimantic, according to police.

Police said the student was hit around 7:30 a.m. at the intersection of Windham Road and Prospect Avenue in Willimantic. She was taken to Windham Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries and has since been released.

The elderly driver, a woman, stayed at the scene and was issued a written warning.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Verdict in Silicon Valley Lawsuit


A jury decided Friday that a prestigious venture capital firm did not discriminate or retaliate against a female employee in a case that debated gender imbalance and working conditions for women in Silicon Valley.

The jury in San Francisco reached the verdict after three days of deliberations in a lawsuit filed by Ellen Pao against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

The lawsuit claimed Pao was fired when she complained about discrimination at the firm.

Pao waved quickly to the jury as she left the courtroom after the verdict was announced.

"I have told my story and thousands of people have heard it. If I helped to level the playing field for women and minorities in venture capital, then the battle was worth it,'' she said, adding that she will return to her career, family and friends.

The verdict came after a judge ordered the panel to resume deliberations when a discrepancy was found in the initial vote count.

Jurors heard conflicting portraits of Pao during closing arguments. Her attorneys said she was an accomplished junior partner who was passed over for a promotion and fired because the firm used different standards to judge men and women.

Kleiner Perkins' attorney, Lynne Hermle, countered that Pao failed as an investor at the company and sued to get a big payout as she was being shown the door.

"It never occurred to me for a second that a careful and attentive jury like this would find either discrimination or retaliation and I'm glad to have been proven right about that,'' Hermle said.

Juror Steve Sammut said jurors thought Pao was driven and ambitious.

"We felt that she was someone who probably wouldn't take no for an answer and was pushing for her agenda,'' Sammut said.

In making their case during the five-week trial, Pao's attorneys said she was excluded from an all-male dinner at the home of Vice President Al Gore; received a book of erotic poetry from a partner; was asked to take notes like a secretary at a meeting; and subjected to talk about pornography aboard a private plane.

Juror Marshalette Ramsey, 41, said she believed Kleiner Perkins had discriminated and retaliated against Pao.

"We're all tasked to a certain standard of conduct, and in a case like this it brings to the forefront that something innocent isn't really innocent'' in the workplace, said Ramsey, a manager for the Bay Area Rapid Transit system. "I think Ellen Pao, if nothing else, opens all of our eyes to that.''

A study introduced as evidence during the trial showed that women are grossly underrepresented as partners in the venture capital sector. Industry consultants say the case has already sparked some technology and venture companies to re-examine their cultures and practices for potential gender bias.

During her testimony, Pao told jurors that her lawsuit was intended in part to create equal opportunities for women in the venture capital sector.

Hermle, however, accused Pao of having less altrusitic motives.

"The complaints of Ellen Pao were made for only one purpose: a huge payout for team Ellen,'' Hermle said in her closing argument.

Kleiner Perkins officials also said Pao was a chronic complainer who twisted facts and circumstances in her lawsuit and had a history of conflicts with colleagues that contributed to the decision to let her go.

The case included salacious testimony about Pao's affair with a male colleague that was intended to bolster her allegations of gender bias. Pao said the colleague pursued her relentlessly before the affair began, and that she broke it off when she learned he had lied about his wife leaving him.

Pao told jurors the colleague later retaliated by shutting her out of key emails and meetings, and Kleiner Perkins did nothing to stop him when she complained.

Testimony showed the colleague was later found to have harassed another female employee.

Hermle, however, showed the jury emails and text messages that seemed to contradict Pao's claims that the colleague hounded her into a relationship. In one email from 2006, after the affair began, Pao wrote that she was always looking out for the colleague _ "never stopped, never will.''

Jurors were asked to determine whether Kleiner Perkins discriminated against Pao because she is a woman; failed to take reasonable steps to prevent that discrimination; and retaliated against her after she complained about gender bias by failing to promote her and then firing her.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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Woman Stabs Boyfriend During Argument: Cops


Police in Hamden have arrested a 34-year-old woman accused of stabbing her boyfriend with a knife during an argument earlier this month.

Authorities said the alleged assault took place March 4 at 1008 Dixwell Avenue, but police weren't called to the home until three days later.

The 36-year-old victim told investigators his girlfriend, Alexis Goodman, had stabbed him repeatedly with a knife during a confrontation that turned physical. The man suffered wounds to the chest, neck, shoulders and arm but declined medical treatment, according to police.

Goodman was arrested March 26 and charged with second-degree assault with a deadly weapon and criminal attempt to commit first-degree assault. She was held on $50,000 bond at police headquarters and was due in court in Meriden on Friday.

Photo Credit: Hamden Police Department
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