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Pat Haden Refuses to Head to Indy


USC athletic director Pat Haden says he won’t be heading to Indianapolis this week for the College Football Playoff selection committee meeting in response to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s decision to sign the widely-protested “Religious Freedom” bill.

“I am the proud father of a gay son,” Haden wrote to his 17,000 followers on Twitter Tuesday. “In his honor, I will not be attending the CFP committee meeting in Indy this week. #EmbraceDiversity”

The law sparked outrage from many in Indiana's business community and others with ties -- established and planned -- to the Hoosier state.

The public-employee union known as AFSCME announced Monday it was canceling a planned women's conference in Indianapolis this year because of the law. The band Wilco said it was canceling a May performance.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe issued an open letter to Indiana corporations saying Virginia is a business-friendly state that does "not discriminate against our friends and neighbors," while Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel sent letters to more than a dozen Indiana businesses, urging them to relocate to a "welcoming place to people of all races, faiths and countries of origin."

Pence, on the other hand, says the bill he signed into law week has been "grossly mischaracterized" and subjected to "shoddy reporting," but on Tuesday announced that he and legislators have been working around the clock to draft new legislation to clarify its intent.

"We've got a perception problem here ... and we intend to correct that," Pence told reporters.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Experts Push for Body Cameras Among Yale Police


A panel of criminal justice experts is encouraging Yale University to require all police officers to wear body cameras.

In a newly issued report, the panel says, "In addition to documenting all incidents, the obtained videos could be useful training tools."

"I don't see what would be the downside of that. I mean, it would definitely provide more evidence," said Yale senior Yusu Liu.

The panel was formed to review the university's response to a controversial incident that occurred in January between an officer and a student.

During that incident, reports show the officer pulled his gun and ordered the student to the ground before realizing he was not the burglary suspect police were looking for.

An internal affairs investigation found the officer acted appropriately and did not engage in racial profiling.

The panel reviewed that decision and the police department's use-of-force policy before issuing several recommendations, including the use of body cameras.

Police body cameras are a topic of conversation around the country in light of incidents ranging from the take-down of a handcuffed teenage girl in New Haven earlier this month to deadly encounters like the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri last year.

"I don't see any negatives to it. I mean, we'd have hard evidence as to exactly what happened rather than different stories from the student and police," said Ali Stephens-Pickeral, a junior at Yale.

"I think that the problem has more to do with a systemic issue of racism than whether or not body cameras can prove what happened, because we have video proof of other incidents happening with police officers and that doesn't really clear up the issue anymore," said Yale graduate student Carolyn Rolleston.

Just one supervisor per shift at Yale is currently required to wear a body camera as part of a trial program the university has implemented.

It's not clear if the recommendation to require all officers to use body cameras will become a reality.

The university declined an interview and the university's police chief did not respond to our request for comment.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Cyclists Finish 400-Mile Annual Sandy Hook Ride


A team of cyclists arrived in Washington, DC on Tuesday after making the 400-mile trip from Newtown, Connecticut through the cold and the snow over the weekend to honor the victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 and lobby for legislation to curb gun violence.

The group, called Team 26, left Newtown on Saturday and held rallies along the route. Along the way, their thoughts were with the families who have lost loved ones to gun violence.

Team 26 Leader Monte Frank said the group has received messages along the way from Newtown families, his friends who lost their children, and that kept him going. 

"As miserable as Saturday was on the bike, with snow and the cold, and if it wasn't for them, I don't know that I would continue. They inspire us everyday," Frank said.

Omar Samaha, whose sister, Reema, was killed in the shooting at Virginia Tech, also made the trip.

"We're driving home the message to Washington that we still haven't had the changes we need with our gun laws to keep Americans safe, and we're reminding Washington -- we're going to keep reminding them every year with this ride, that we need change. We need it now for all Americans so we can be safe." he said.

Dr. Bill Begg, of Newtown, also made the journey and said it was one of the most special things he's done in his life. 

"Being at my hospital on that day when the tragedy happened and seeing what I saw, I said I have to do better. I can't stand by and just keep my mouth closed. I have to work on prevention," he said.

Frank said small towns and big cities are all working together to fight gun violence and he called for "sensible, common sense measures" like universal background checks.

"We're all united in combating gun violence. We're going to come together. This movement is in its infancy. It's going to take awhile, but where not giving up. We're going to keep pedaling until it's done," Frank said.

This was the third annual Sandy Hook Ride and Frank said now is the time for Congress to act.

"As long as Congress doesn't act, it remains complicit in these tragedies and the tragedies will keep occurring," he said.

Photo Credit: Office of U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty

Dog Ready for Adoption After Surgery to Remove Tumor


After animal control raised money to remove a tumor from the face of a roaming dog, the pup is out of surgery and ready for adoption.

Waterford-East Lyme Animal Control picked up "Mooky" last week. No one came forward to claim her, so animal control solicited donations over social media to fund the dog's surgery.

Animal control wrote on Facebook Tuesday that Mooky "came through her multiple surgeries with flying colors." In addition to having the tumor taken off, the pup was spayed, received a rabies shot and had her teeth cleaned.

She's ready to start meeting families April 1.

"If you are interested in adopting this sweet girl, please come to the animal shelter IN PERSON to meet the dog, the ACO and complete and adoption application," animal control wrote on Facebook. "For the lucky family who gets to adopt her, the adoption fee will be whatever you would like to make for a donation."

Animal control urged prospective new owners to also bring their family members to meet Mooky. Families can stop by the animal shelter at 41 Avery Lane in Waterford weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Anyone with questions about Mooky or the adoption process is urged to contact the animal control officer at aco@waterfordct.org.

Photo Credit: Waterford-East Lyme Animal Control
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Southern Pine Beetle Threatens Connecticut Trees


State officials are concerned about the future of Connecticut's pine trees as a destructive beetle from the south makes its first appearance in the state.

The Southern Pine Beetle was found in Wallingford on March 17 and subsequently identified in four locations around New Haven County, one in Hartford County and another in Litchfield County, according to the Connecticut Agricultural Experimentation Station.

It's the first time the beetle, with originates in the southeastern part of the country, has been spotted in Connecticut.

The Southern Pine Beetle can wreak havoc on trees. The 2-mm insect attacks pine trees and lays eggs under the bark, killing the infested trees within two years, according to the CAES.

It's not clear when or how the beetle arrived in Connecticut, but state officials said it's been making its way north. Southern Pine Beetles invaded eastern Long Island in October 2014 and have decimated pine trees in parts of New Jersey.

“It is disappointing to have yet another forest insect pest introduced into the state, but as this is a beetle native to the U.S., there will be no Federal or State regulation on movement or disposal of infested trees or wood,” State Entomologist Dr. Kirby C. Stafford said in a statement Tuesday.

The beetle is likely to attack the Red Pine, Scotch Pine and Austrian Pine in Connecticut, but officials are most concerned about the native Pitch Pine, whose numbers have dwindled over the years.

“Although pitch pine contributes little to the overall make up of Connecticut’s forests, its potential loss is of grave concern primarily due to the unique and highly valued habitat it provides for rare and endangered species dependent upon pine-oak sandy barrens,” said Christopher Martin, director of Forestry for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Environmental officials are currently surveying the state to see how far the beetle infestation has spread. They'll begin trapping beetles in mid-April to see how well they survived the winter.

Trees try to fend off the beetle by secreting popcorn-shaped globs of sap. If you see these, call the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station at 203-974-8474 or email ctstateentomologist@ct.gov.

Black Ice Possible Tonight


Rain and snow showers that moved through the state Tuesday could lead to patches of black ice overnight as the temperature drops.

Cold will linger through the morning commute, when we'll see temperatures between 25 and 30 degrees statewide. Puddles on the roads could potentially become black ice.

There will be a bit of warming during the day, with mixed clouds and sun and temperatures in the 40s.

Temperatures will average in the 50s on Thursday. It could get as warm as the mid-60s on Friday as we head into Easter weekend, depending on whether the storm system stays on course or sweeps further south.

Kevin Ollie to Boycott Final Four in Light of Indiana Travel Ban


UConn men's basketball coach Kevin Ollie is boycotting the Final Four in Indianapolis in light of an executive order banning all state-sponsored travel to Indiana.

Gov. Dannel Malloy's decision came after Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed into law a measure that critics say makes discrimination legal on the grounds of religious protection.

Ollie, who last year led his team to a national title, and other top staff members were slated to attend the conference of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, which coincides with the Final Four in Indianapolis.

But UConn President Susan Herbst said in a news release Tuesday evening those plans have changed.

"In support of Governor Malloy's travel ban to the state of Indiana, Kevin Ollie and other members of the UConn men's basketball staff will not travel to Indianapolis for the NCAA Final Four and events surrounding it," Herbst said in a statement. "UConn is a community that values all of our members and treats each person with the same degree of respect, regardless of their background and beliefs and we will not tolerate any other behavior."

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal encouraged UConn coaches to send a loud message to Indiana by declining to attend the NABC conference.

"I wouldn’t presume to give advice but if I were in their shoes I would stay away," said Blumenthal, a Democrat. "I think they can send a very powerful message as all of us can."

Malloy said during a press conference Tuesday the decision was ultimately up to UConn.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Project to Widen I-84 in Waterbury Kicks Off Wednesday


Crews will break ground Wednesday on a project to widen Interstate 84 in Waterbury, where traffic is often congested.

Gov. Dannel Malloy will join Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker and Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary for a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday afternoon at the Park and Ride lot off exit 23.

The $300 million project will create a third lane in each direction on the section of I-84 between Washington Street and Pierpont Road in Waterbury. It will take five years to complete.

DOT officials said they will try to minimize the effects of construction by keeping all lanes open during rush hour.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Doctors Warn Parents About Giving Melatonin to Kids


Getting children to sleep can be the toughest part of parenting for some, and sleep deprivation of kids and their parents can make early years challenging.

"As a newborn, he had his days and nights flip flopped, so that was tough for a while," Killingworth mom Laura Wing said of her now 1-year-old son James.

Wing and her husband caught a break when at 4 months, James began sleeping through the night, but other parents are not so lucky.

Some turn to melatonin for help getting kids to get to sleep and stay asleep. Melatonin is produced naturally in the brain to regulate sleep cycles and is also manufactured and available in pill form.

Dr. Vasanth Kainkaryam, a pediatrician with Iora Health at Hartford Healthcare, warns against this. Melatonin is not a drug, but rather a supplement.

"The problem we see with a lot of these supplements is they don’t go through the same rigorous trialing and data collection that we do with the drugs, so we don’t know what happens long term," said Kainkaryam.

He said some data shows success with melatonin in very specific cases.

"Like for instance, autism spectrum disorder children who really struggle with sleep, that melatonin can be beneficial in regulating some of that," Kainkaryam explained.

The pediatrician advises parents to look at a child’s behaviors and routine to see what could be causing sleep problems. He recommends physical activity right after school and says children thrive on routine, especially bedtime routines, which should involve reading.

Kainkaryam said he sees a growing problem with electronics being used too late in the day.

"There’s a lot of information out there that screen light can actually reset some of that sleep cycle, so if kids are playing on a computer or iPads or phones before they go to bed, that can actually affect their sleep," he said.

And if a routine doesn't work, doctors can refer children to sleep specialists. With the growing obesity problem in children, sleep apnea could also be a factor.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Couple Found With Chainsaw Wounds


A community is in mourning after a teen boy discovered his parents dead with wounds from a chainsaw inside a Montgomery County, Pennsylvania home Tuesday.

"It strikes home," said Eric Shallcross, a family friend. "It's unbelievable."

The 14-year-old boy told police he found his parents unresponsive inside their home on the 1100 block of Country Lane in Lower Moreland around 12:50 p.m. Investigators said the victims, a 48-year-old man and his 43-year-old wife, had lacerations from a chainsaw that was found lying nearby. 

Prosecutors confirmed one of the deaths was a homicide while the other is under investigation. Officials also say they are not searching for any suspects in the case.

Police are not identifying the couple pending the notification of all family members.

Aside from their 14-year-old son, the couple had two other children who were not in the home when they were found dead. Eric Carswell, the pastor of Bryn Athyn Church, was teaching religion class to one of the children when the school learned about the incident.

"This is not what we would wish for anybody," Carswell said. "I'm very grateful for a sense that the boys have an extended family that is really taking good care of them."

Friends of the victims gathered at Bryn Athyn Cathedral Tuesday night for a prayer vigil.

Friends also told NBC10 there were problems in the couple's marriage.

"I knew they had some complications with their marriage," Shallcross said. "But a lot of marriages do. Most marriages do I'm sure."

An autopsy on the couple is scheduled for Wednesday.

Traffic Getting by on Route 8 South in Naugatuck


Route 8 southbound has reopened in Naugatuck following a crash that prompted police to shut down the highway Tuesday night.

The highway was closed between exits 30 and 29 while crews responded to a minor collision, according to state police.

Traffic is now getting by.

No additional information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Transportation

Man Dies in Police Custody


Officials are investigating the death of a New Jersey man who died while in police custody Tuesday.

"As many of you have already heard, earlier today a tragedy occurred involving Officers and a citizen," said Vineland Police Chief Timothy Codispoti. "Sadly, this call for service resulted in an “in–custody, non-shooting death” which is being investigated by the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s office"

The man, identified as Phillip White, was arrested at a home on the 100 block of Grape Street in Vineland, New Jersey around 11 a.m. Tuesday. He died shortly after while in custody.

Witnesses told NBC10 officers were extremely physical with White after he was already restrained and unconscious on the street.

"They punched him, stomped him, kicked him and then they let the dog out of the car," said Ricardo Garcia. "The dog bit him on his face and around his body. There's no call for that. Once a man is handcuffed and unconscious, you should have stuck him in the patrol car and take him to the police station. Instead they decided to beat him right here." 

A dog is heard barking on a police dispatch recording of the incident.

"118 West Grape," the dispatcher says in the recording. "Subject...hyperventilating. Officers out."

An officer is also heard on the recording.

"Slow all units down," the officer says. "Subject under...tried disarming me." 

The Cumberland County Prosecutor's Office is currently investigating the incident. A spokesperson for the office told NBC10 White was being arrested but they haven't revealed why.

White's aunt, Valerie White, told NBC10 she is desperate for answers.

"Why, what he was doing, I don't know," she said. "I'm trying to get answers and closure now. He lived a street life but he was a human being. Bottom line." 

While police have not yet released information regarding what led to the arrest or how White died,  Chief Codispoti expressed his condolences for his family.

"Our sincere thoughts and prayers are with the family of the deceased and with the Officers involved," he said. " I ask that everyone allow time for our justice system to now investigate this matter to its truthful conclusion. The Vineland Police Department is cooperating with the prosecutor’s office and I urge anyone with information regarding this incident to contact the prosecutor’s office with your information. At this time updates regarding the progress of this investigation are being released through the prosecutor’s office."

Bristol Plans to Redesign Busy Intersection


Plans are underway to redesign a Bristol intersection that's been deemed unsafe, but it would mean knocking down buildings and forcing out homeowners.

Community members discussed the possibility at a public meeting Tuesday night, where town officials displayed renderings of the new intersection where Route 69 meets Route 72.

The plan is to take out buildings along West Street and run Route 72 straight through.

"I own property down the street here and I want to see it all get cleaned up, get this town going again," said Bristol resident Gary Grezeika.

Neighbors said the forked intersection of Route 72 and Divinity Street poses problems for more than just traffic.

A man was shot in the area several times late one night in January, and those who work in the area said they hope the city does away with the buildings and bars across the street.

"Blame it on the alcohol," said Bristol resident Bilal Qatabi. "Hopefully they get the 72 straight. People will go to work and come home."

The state Department of Transportation estimates the project would carry an $8 million price tag.

Homeowners whose houses are affected would be paid market value and officials said the city would fund the cost of relocation.

Pair Accused of Stealing Car in Bridgeport


Police in Hamden have arrested a man and woman accused of stealing a car over the weekend in Bridgeport.

Whitney Moss, 27, of New Haven, and Kyameesha Williams, 32, of New York, were arrested the evening of March 28 after police spotted them driving in the stolen car on Leeder Hill Drive in Hamden, authorities said.

Police pulled over the car and a K-9 team took the women into custody around 6:45 p.m. Saturday, according to police.

Moss was charged with third-degree larceny and first-degree criminal trover. Williams was charged with conspiracy to commit third-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree criminal trover.

They were each held on $5,000 bond and are due in court April 8.

Woodbury Dad Accused of Assaulting 11-Week-Old Girl


The long-term brain function of a baby girl who police say was assaulted by her father in Woodbury is "still uncertain," according to court paperwork.

Benjamin Marshall, 21, appeared in court Monday on charges of first-degree assault and risk of injury to a minor. He posted $50,000 bond and was released from custody.

Last June, Marshall and the baby's mother took the girl, then 11 weeks old, to Saint Mary's Hospital in Waterbury. The doctor found a skull fracture and possible bleeding on the brain, but both Marshall and the child's mother at first denied the baby had fallen.

After medics flew the baby to Yale-New Haven Hospital, Marshall told police he had caught the baby in mid-air but she hit her head after falling from the changing table.

According to the arrest warrant affidavit, "Marshall noticed he had received a snapchat on his cell phone and admitted he sometimes 'gets distracted' and may have looked at the phone for two to three minutes, while the baby remained unattended."

Police checked his cellphone and determined Marshall was on Snapchat at the time. They also found he had run four Google searches on the phone for "shaken baby syndrome."

"These injuries are extremely concerning for serious and life-threatening child abuse," said Dr. John Leventhal of Yale-New Haven Hospital, according to the affidavit.

But Dr. Ronald Uscinski of Maryland told police, "The events in this case are within the realm of possibility explaining the child's skull fracture and subdural hematoma."

The baby's name and home are secret by court order.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Danbury High School Science Teacher Charged With Sex Assault


A 24-year-old science teacher at Danbury High School has been charged with sexual assault and providing alcohol to a minor.

Kayla Mooney turned herself in to police around 5 p.m. Tuesday. Police said they began investigating her conduct when high school administrators contacted them last month.

Authorities haven't elaborated on the allegations against Mooney, but school officials said they contacted the Department of Children and Families on Feb. 10 to report "inappropriate conduct" between a student and teacher.

Danbury police said the school system notified them the same day.

"We want to alert you that we were informed this afternoon that one of our high school teachers has been arrested for inappropriate actions with a student," school officials said in a voicemail to parents Tuesday. "We wish to assure that we are taking every action to maintain a safe environment for all of our students."

According to the Hearst Connecticut Media Group, Mooney had sexual contact with a male student.

"As a parent, it is something we need to be concerned about," said Danbury mom Gail Williams. "But I have confidence in the school that they will handle it, that they will behave appropriately, that they will keep parents informed and I hope they will put measures in place to make sure this doesn't happen going forward."

Mooney was arrested and charged with second-degree sexual assault and distributing alcohol to a minor. She was released on a promise to appear and is due in court the morning of April 14.

"It shows a lapse in judgment, and that is the part that concerns me the most, because adults are supposed to lead by example," Williams said.

Mooney has been on paid administrative leave since last month. The Danbury Board of Education said Mooney is a science teacher at the high school but declined to comment on the investigation.

Photo Credit: Danbury Police Department

2-Alarm Fire Spreads Smoke Over Downtown Hartford


A two-alarm fire on Bellevue Street in Hartford spread a thick cloud of smoke over parts of the city Tuesday night.

Emergency crews rushed to the burning brick building in the city's North End just before 11 p.m. Tuesday. Heavy smoke has been pouring from the three-story structure at the intersection of Loomis Street, and flames are visible on the third floor.

It's not clear if anyone was inside when the fire broke out. A resident said the building contains several apartments.

Ambulances are parked at the scene, but authorities haven't said whether anyone was hurt.

Streets are blocked off in the area.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Police Probe Untimely Death in Southington


Authorities are investigating an untimely death at the intersection of Woodruff Street and Berlin Avenue in Southington, according to police.

Neighbors said they spotted a number of police cruisers, detectives and a forensics team.

Police have not identified the person whose body was found or released any information on the circumstances of the death.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Darien Water Main Break Causing Delays


Police are responding to a water main break in Darien that could cause delays on the morning commute.

The water main break happened on Noroton Avenue near Middlesex Road.

Police said drivers can expect delays in the area.

You can take West Avenue or Interstate 95 as a detour.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Scene of Minor Crash in New Britain Clear


The Arch and Wallace streets intersection in New Britain was closed for a brief time on Wednesday morning after a minor crash.

No serious injuries and the intersection has reopened.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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