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Man Had Stolen Groton Gun in New London Home: Police


Police found a stolen gun and some hidden ammunition in a New London man's home when they went to serve two outstanding warrants for felonies.

Paul Pierce, 34, of New London, was entering his home on Maple Avenue when police went to serve the warrants and a woman who answered the door said she wasn't sure if he was there but invited them in to check, police said. They found him hiding in his bedroom closet and took him into custody without an issue, according to police.

Police found a Ruger model 77/17 .17 HMR caliber rifle and ammunition hidden in his closet, police said. The gun was stolen in 2007 from the town of Groton, according to police.

Police charged Pierce with two counts of violation of probation, first-degree failure to appear, second-degree failure to appear, possession of drug paraphernalia, interfering with police, criminal possession of a firearm and possession of a stolen firearm.

Photo Credit: New London Police Department

2 Arrested After Fatal Drug Deal Scuffle


A man, 35, died Saturday after falling from a fleeing pickup truck in Waterbury during a crack cocaine deal dispute and now two men are under arrest, according to police.

Carl Brown, 35, of Waterbury, died of head injuries after falling during a fight with truck passenger Nicholas Henry, 23, of Bethel, as driver Steven Vlash, 22, of New Milford, sped off during a drug deal, police said.

Vlash had driven Henry in his white 2005 Chevy Colorado pickup truck to the corner of Grove and Bishop streets on Saturday afternoon so the two men could buy crack cocaine from Brown, police said. He tried to drive off during an argument over money, but Brown clung to the truck as he fought with Henry, police said. He hung on as Vlash sped off, but fell to the pavement a fifth of a mile away in the area of 70 Linden Street, police said. The incident happened at about 1:30 p.m.

An ambulance transported Brown to Saint Mary's Hospital in Waterbury, but he died a half hour after arriving, police said.

Officers located the pickup truck parked in New Milford near Vlash's home at 86 Belair Drive and seized it, police said.

Police charged Vlash with evading responsibility at the felony level and criminal attempt at the possession of narcotics, police said. The department held him on a $750,000 bond and he is due in Waterbury Superior Court on Monday.

Henry was charged with criminal attempt at possession of narcotics. Police released him from custody and he is scheduled to appear in court later this month.

Photo Credit: Waterbury Police Department

Woman Arrested After Going to Her Child's Birthday Party: Cops


A mother was arrested after attending her child's birthday party at a South Windsor gaming and adventure business because of a restraining order, police said.

The child's father called police during an argument with Kincaita Smith, 33, of East Hartford, when she showed up their child's birthday party at Nomads AdventureQuest on Bidwell Road, police said. Smith is under a restraining order that forbids her from being near the child, according to police.

Police charged her with criminal violation of a restraining order and released her on a $5,000 surety bond.

She appeared at Manchester Superior Court on Monday.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Serious Crash Closes Route 44 in New Hartford


Route 44 remains closed in New Hartford while crews work to repair a utility pole that snapped during a serious car crash earlier Monday, according to state police.

Emergency dispatchers said a car struck the pole in the area of 440 Main Street/Route 44 in the Pine Meadow section of New Hartford around 1 p.m. First responders worked to extricate the driver, who was trapped, and LifeStar was called to the scene.

There is no information on the extent of any injuries and the name of the individual hasn't been released. The cause of the crash is unknown.

Route 44 remains closed in the area near the incident and it's unclear how long it will remain shut down.

Woman Charged With Prostitution at Milford Motel


Police have arrested a Florida woman accused of bringing drugs into a Milford motel and exchanging sex for money.

Sarah Hughes, 31, of Apopka, Florida, was arrested April 3 after detectives spotted her acting suspiciously in the parking lot of the Howard Johnson Hotel at 1052 Boston Post Road, according to police.

Police K-9 "Cedar" searched Hughes' motel room and found cocaine. Police said Hughes also admitted to "performing prostitution activities" in the rented room.

She was arrested and charged with possession of narcotics and prostitution.

Bond was set at $5,000. Hughes is due in court April 28.

Drunk Woman Kicks Out Cruiser Window: Police


A New Haven woman is facing charges after charging at officers while she was drunk, then kicking out the window of a police cruiser, prompting officers to pepper spray her, according to police.

Police said they were called to 223 Ferry Street early Monday morning after someone reported a dispute at the house.

The callers told officers they had driven 22-year-old Salina Nunez home from a night out at the Van Dome Nightclub because she was too drunk to drive herself, according to police.

Officers arrived to find Salina Nunez, 22, kicking and pounding on the basement door. She said her father lived there, but no one was answering.

Police said Nunez's yelling awoke neighbors, who came outside to see what was going on. When an officer asked if she had another place to stay, she shoved him, cursed and lunged at him, according to police.

Officers handcuffed Nunez and put her in the back of a cruiser, where she kicked the window until it shattered and kicked an officer in the thigh, police said.

Police pepper-sprayed Nunez and took her out of the squad car so EMTs could put water on her eyes, according to police.

Nunez was charged with second-degree criminal mischief, interfering with officers and disorderly conduct.

Photo Credit: New Haven Police Department

New Bulletproof Vest for Plainfield K-9


Plainfield police K-9 "Vader" is getting a new ballistic vest thanks to a Danielson resident and Massachusetts charity organization, which also outfitted a Milford K-9 last week.

Police said Robert Truken, of Danielson, donated $950 for Vader's new bulletproof and stab-proof vest, which was sent over by Vested Interest in K9s, Inc., a nonprofit organization based in East Taunton, Massachusetts.

The charity also provided a ballistic vest to Milford K-9 Zeus, a 2-year-old German Shepherd and recent graduate of the state police K-9 training program.

Vested Interest in K9s has outfitted more than 1,320 police K-9s in 49 states since 2009.

Photo Credit: Plainfield Police Department

Bob Anthony to Run for Hamden Mayor


Republican Bob Anthony will run for mayor of Hamden in light of Scott Jackson's resignation, his spokesperson said in a press release Monday afternoon.

Jackson will be resigning to take a position with Gov. Dannel Malloy's administration, prompting a special election. Jackson has said he will resign from his post on April 16.

According to spokesperson Nick Antonucci, Anthony plans to officially announce his candidacy April 8 at Odie's Place on Whitney Avenue in Hamden.

It will be his second time on the campaign trail, as Anthony also ran for mayor in 2013.

He's a former Hamden firefighter and EMT and was elected president of the local Hamden firefighters union in 1992, Antonucci said.

Anthony also served on the Hamden Employees Retirement Board from 1980 to 2000. He was elected treasurer of the Uniformed Professional Firefighters' Association of Connecticut in 2011.

Photo Credit: Facebook

UConn Students "Speak OUT" Against Hate Speech After Vandalism


Hundreds of UConn students plan to hold a rally on campus Tuesday in response to hateful vandalism found on an art exhibit featuring the faces and voices of young people in the LGBTQ community last month, according to students organizing an event to stand against discrimination and hate speech and promote acceptance.

"The University of Connecticut is ready to speak OUT. The vandalism that took place nearly a month ago was the final straw for close to 500 students on campus and we will be heard," Michelle Ma, a representative for UConn Speak OUT wrote to NBC Connecticut. "Despite being listed time and time again among the top 100 gay-friendly universities, discrimination is still a harsh reality for students of many different gender alignments and sexuality. Every day, small acts of hate threaten their safety and silence them from being open about their experiences."

UConn police received reports March 6 of vandalism found on an art exhibit by non-student Philadelphia artist Rachelle Lee Smith, according to the UConn Daily Campus. Drawings, some phallic, were scrawled on the exhibit photos featuring queer individuals speaking out about their experiences and a vandal wrote in the guest book, "god hates the gays," as shown in photos from the artist published in phillymag.com.

Smith's project, "Speaking OUT: Queer Youth In Focus" is a "collaboration photographic essay" between her as a photographer and activist and "a diverse group of LGBTQ youth to share experiences" with the hope of highlighting "the myriad differences and commonalities of queer identity" to "spread knowledge and understanding," according to Smith's Facebook page about the project.

"To the untrained eye, this seems like an isolated incident and went largely unpublicized," Ma said. "However for students who saw themselves reflected in the art, this was just another blow for acceptance."

UConn Speak OUT organizers launched a social media photo campaign with the social media hashtag #UConnSpeakOUT to raise awareness about the rally and at least 500 people have replied they are coming so far on their Facebook page. The students seek to give the UConn community and its LGBT individuals a safe space to "inspire others to fight hate speech."

The students will occupy the theater room, room 331, in the student union starting at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday to hear poets, speakers and campus authority figures speak about related subjects.

"This institution claims to be 'friendly' and yet so many students feel threatened here," Ma said. "Even worse, hate speech is not a phenomenon that is limited to Storrs. This is an injustice and we are going to speak OUT about it."

UConn learned of the incident on March 6, according to school spokesperson Stephanie Reitz.

"The police investigation remains active, and we’re encouraging anyone with information to report it to UConn Police. It’s very important to us that everyone at the University, particularly in the LGBTQ community, know that we are taking this incident extremely seriously," Reitz said.

"We’re committed to campuses that are free of this kind of intolerance and bias, and hope people will come forward with any information that can help us locate the person or people responsible and hold them accountable."

Teen Gets Into 8 Ivy League Schools


A multi-lingual Long Island high school senior who moved to New York from Nigeria when he was 8 and wrote his primary college essay about the tribulations of adjusting to American life has earned the prestigious honor of being accepted to all eight Ivy League schools, according to published reports.

Harold Ekeh, a 17-year-old aspiring neurosurgeon who plays the drums, directs a church youth choir and founded a college mentoring program at his Elmont Memorial High School, where he was the salutatorian, has a 100.5 percent grade point average and scored a 2270 on his SATs. According to CNN Money, Ekeh was a semifinalist in the national Intel Science Talent Search earlier this year for his research on how the supplement DHA can decelerate the advancement of Alzheimer's disease.

Ekeh's grandmother was diagnosed with the disease when he was 11.

"When other kids would say, 'I want to be a superhero or police officer,' I would say, 'I want to know what is on the inside of us,'" Ekeh told CNN Money. 

Ekeh credits his parents, former employees at a Target store in Queens, according to The New York Post, with cultivating his drive for success and ultimately helping him achieve it.

The teenager, who speaks Spanish and his native Nigerian language, Igbo, told CNN Money he had trouble adjusting to U.S. culture and customs when he first arrived in the country; U.S. history classes were particularly challenging. 

"We had a fairly comfortable life in Nigeria, but they told me we moved to America for the opportunities like the educational opportunities," Ekeh told the website. "I'm very humbled by this. It's not just for me, but for my school and community. We can accomplish great things here." 

Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, Yale and the University of Pennsylvania all sent acceptance letters to Ekeh's home. Few students even apply to all eight ultra-selective universities, college counselors say, because each school looks for different qualities in their freshman classes. Each college accepts fewer than 15 percent of applicants.

Ekeh told the Post he never expected to get into all eight of the Ivy League schools -- or the five other colleges that accepted him, including MIT, NYU, Vanderbilt University, Johns Hopkins University and Stony Brook University.  Ekeh found out he got into all of them Tuesday -- and went to Chipotle -- after Bible class -- to celebrate, the Post reported. 

He told CNN Money he is leaning toward Yale, where he competed in a Model UN event and met people offered him college application advice -- and fueled his desire to give back to others. Yale is also the school chosen by Long Island's Kwasi Enin, the former William Floyd High School student who accomplished the Ivy League sweep last year.

Students, Legislators Push to Save Meriden Branch of MxCC


Students trying to save the Meriden branch of Middlesex Community College from closing down are receiving support from the people who could keep it open by law: their state legislators.

State Sen. Dante Bartolomeo told a rally outside the Meriden Center that 647 students take classes in Meriden, and keeping them there is a priority for her.

"If I had the opportunity to go to Middletown I would, but I'm not able to," said student Genesis Robles. "It really puts a strain on all of us – a lot of parents as well because they have kids."

Bartolomeo asked students at the rally how many worked full time and how many have to take care of family at home, to underscore how crucial it is to keep classes in Meriden.

"We're not giving up," said the student body president, Tony Washington. "Whatever I have to do, whatever it takes, I plan on doing it."

Earlier, college president Anna Wasecha told a forum, "These are lousy choices but these are the least lousy choices that we can make."

She said the system Gov. Dannel Malloy created in 2011 by merging the community colleges and state universities "hasn't had the public support it needed in order to operate."

His first appointees to run the system had to resign after trying to give themselves raises.

Since then, the state government has held down subsidies and tuition has increased each year.

Wasecha is pushing for funding from the legislature that Malloy proposes cutting. She said she would also be following common practice among the colleges and state universities to save money by keeping vacant positions unfilled.

"The building is still leased. The lease is not up magically June 30, so we're trying to figure out how much cost savings there would be. We think it's minimal," said State Rep. Buddy Altobello, a Democrat from Meriden.

He said the legislature could mandate keeping the Meriden center open, although, he said, "We haven't rattled that saber yet."

With two more months to come up with a budget, legislators are hearing from supporters of all kinds of programs facing Malloy's proposals.

Altobello predicted the legislature would take even more time, not finishing work, he said, until Aug. 22.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

State Police Respond to Crash on Route 8 in Thomaston


State police are responding to a crash involving multiple vehicles on Route 8 in Thomaston.

Police said one northbound lane is closed in the area of exit 39.

LifeStar was called but canceled, according to dispatchers with the medical helicopter service.

No additional information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Rutgers Bans Fraternity, Sorority Parties


Rutgers University is banning all fraternity and sorority parties for the remaining three weeks of the semester.

The university said in a statement the decision came "in light of a number of alcohol-related incidents this year involving Greek organizations." 

The 86 recognized fraternities and sororities are still allowed to host formals and other events where a licensed third-party vendor is used to serve alcohol, the university said, but they won't be allowed to host parties in their houses. 

The presidents of the fraternities and sororities learned about the decision during a meeting with university officials in New Brunswick, NJ Advance Media reported.

Most of them seemed to be on board with the ban because they wanted to avoid risking further negative publicity that's surrounded Greek organizations on campus and across the country this year.

"We haven't run the parties nearly as well as we should, so I can understand that," said senior Jacob Dominy, a fraternity member.

Freshman Darek Rola said "there have been many cases of poor decisions made."

Sophomore Caitlyn Kovacs died of alcohol poisoning last fall after attending a fraternity house party. Last month, the Rutgers chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon was shut down because of an underage drinking incident. 

The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs "will use this time to continue and reinforce its dialogue with the leadership of the university's 86 recognized fraternities and sororities about greek life at Rutgers and their responsibilities to the campus community at large," the university said in the statement. 

But freshman Sristi Rai said the conversation could still happen without the extreme measure of shutting down house parties.  

"I don't think it's necessary," said Rai. "I think the issue is more of educating students not just about Greek life but about how to be more responsible." 

Rola said there are other aspects to Greek life that he plans to enjoy the rest of the semester.

"We still have our community serve, we still have intramurals. We still have everything else," he said. 

-- Brynn Gingras contributed to this report. 

Man Robs Torrington Gas Station at Knifepoint


Police have arrested the 24-year-old man accused of holding up a Torrington gas station at knifepoint late Monday morning.

According to police, Corey Marra, 24, entered Johnson's Gas Station at 294 South Main Street in Torrington around 11:25 a.m.

Police said Marra was brandishing a knife and took money from the cash register. He got away on foot.

Investigators quickly identified Marra as the suspect and arrested him Monday afternoon. He was charged with first-degree robbery and was held on $200,000 bond.

Repairs Continue After Underground Fire in Hartford


Repairs continue after an electrical problem sparked an underground fire and explosion, leaving as many as 13,000 homes in the dark in Hartford and West Hartford on Sunday and causing many restaurants to close and cancel Easter reservations.

Eversource Energy spokesman Mitch Gross said about 200 homes are still using generators Monday afternoon. Gross said the priority now is get those customers back onto the electrical grid.

Work continues primarily along Farmington Avenue, where an underground explosion sparked a fire at an underground utility vault around midnight Sunday, according to Hartford Deputy Fire Chief Peter Towey.

Thick, dark smoke could be seen billowing out Sunday morning as flames melted several underground cables near the intersection of Sherman Street. 

Fire crews put out the flames and Eversource cut power to surrounding neighborhoods in Hartford and West Hartford, which affected a number of restaurants in West Hartford Center. Some customers remained without power for the rest of the day.

Traffic lights were out at the intersections of Farmington Avenue and North Main Street and North Main and Brace Road near West Hartford Center. Crews put up temporary stop signs to manage traffic at the West Hartford Center intersection until the traffic lights came back on around 10 p.m.

Man Stabbed, Charged With Strangling Companion


Four children were in a Woodmont Road motel room when a man was stabbed while strangling a companion early Monday morning, police said.

Milford police responded at about 12:43 a.m. to a domestic disturbance at the motel room of Matthew Andrews, 33, who lives there at 219 Woodmont Road, room 118.

As he was strangling his "companion" in his home, another person in the room cut his leg with a knife, injuring him, police said. Four children were present at the time of the altercation and it's unknown whether anyone else was in the room, but police declined to comment on whether the kids were involved.

Andrews was treated for a minor knife wound and released.

Milford police charged him with third-degree strangulation, third-degree assault, disorderly conduct and four counts of risk of injury. Officers also charged him with violating a court-issued protective order due to the incident.

Police held him on a $100,000 bond and he is scheduled to be arraigned in Milford Superior Court on Monday.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Firefighters Push for Increased Health Coverage


For professional firefighters, a small controlled blaze on the second floor of a training house isn’t a big deal at all.

"This is very, very controlled because we have to keep it safe to operate, while at the same time giving the appearance of an actual structure fire with the smoke and the heat," explained Waterbury Deputy Fire Chief Rick Hart, who is also director of government relations for the Uniformed Professional Firefighters Association of Connecticut.

Several members of the media, lobbyists, and members of the General Assembly were invited to participate in FireOps 101, a training course that provides a snapshot of what firefighters do on a regular basis.

"We simulate cutting a hole in a roof to doing search and rescue, forcible entry to get into the building, stretching a hose line and actually putting the fire out," Hart said.

The fire inside the house was around 500 degrees – not too hot, according to firefighters from Hartford, Waterbury and New London, just three of the departments represented at the Hartford Fire Department Training Academy on Monday.

The event was part of the UPFAC’s effort to raise awareness of cancer in firefighters. The group also wanted to call attention to legislation that would provide additional cancer coverage for firefighters.

“We have increased risk for skin, tesiticular, colon and all other types of cancers purely because of the job we do every day," Hart said.

During fires, carcinogens burn in the air and come from chemicals embedded in common household items, like appliances and pieces of furniture.

Firefighters wear hoods that block carcinogens from getting on to their skin, but it’s not a silver bullet to protect against exposure.

Critics of the legislation have said potentially millions more in health coverage for firefighters could cripple local town and city budgets. In addition, concerns have been raised about potential for fraud in the system.

To Hart, who’s met with lawmakers for weeks on the issue, the peace of mind that additional coverage would bring firefighters would be without measure.

"That we have the protection, that yes, we're going to get treatment, yes, we're going to have coverage for our families, so that we do not go without a paycheck if we're out of work for two, three, four months, not collecting a paycheck if we do not have the time," he explained.

The Labor Committee already approved the legislation, which is expected to reach the House floor during the legislative session.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Pastor Charged With Sex Assault Faces Judge


The Clinton pastor accused of sexually assaulting two female parishioners and threatening to deport them has been ordered to have no contact with either victim.

Francisco Moran, 57, was arraigned in Middletown Superior Court on Monday afternoon, where a judge issued the no-contact orders.

The two arrest warrants in the cases against him remain sealed, but police have described one victim as a teenage girl and the other as an adult woman.

Moran is a pastor at the Good Samaritan Church in Old Lyme, which rents space from another church, according to police.

He was arrested last week in Clinton and charged with luring two female parishioners to a private residence on separate occasions last summer. That's where police say he touched both of the victims inappropriately.

Moran is charged with fourth-degree sexual assault and other offenses. He's due back in court May 5.

Photo Credit: Clinton Police Department

Former Navy Sailor Blackmailed Minors Into Online Sex: Feds


A former Navy sailor stationed in New London has been indicted on federal charges after downloading a cache of child porn onto his computer and convincing minors to perform sex acts on video chat, which he recorded and shared with other people, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Federal prosecutors said Adam M. Simpson, 28, video chatted with underage victims betwen January and November 2013, while he was stationed at the naval base in New London.

He coerced them into performing sex acts on camera, which he recorded, saved and shared, the U.S. attorneys office said. Simpson sometimes posed as a young boy and blackmailed the victims so they would continue chatting with him.

Prosecutors said Simpson also downloaded a number of child pornography files onto his computer. He was arrested on state charges in January 2014 and has been in custody ever since.

A federal grand jury indicted Simpson with enticing mionor to perform sexually explicit acts during online video chats, along with receipt and possession of child pornography, on March 24. He was arraigned in federal court April 6.

Simpson could face life in prison if convicted.

It's not clear if Simpson has an attorney.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Governor Calls for New I-84 Viaduct in Hartford


With rust visible on the girders and joints of the busy roadway above his head, Gov. Dannel Malloy pointed to the I-84 viaduct in Hartford and vowed to start designing a replacement before the end of his current term.

The project would cost between $4 billion and $10 billion, according to the governor.

"You could wait until it falls down, but I don't think that's the best way to deal with it," Malloy told reporters during a tour on Monday.

"Let me say this: We've been walking on water," the goveror said before breaking into laughter.

He explained there's an underground conduit beneath the viaduct, a conduit containing a buried river. That would have to be moved if the replacement was a tunnel.

"Tunneling - very expensive," he said.

But it is an option for experts to consider, along with rebuilding the elevated roadway or running the highway slightly below ground.

"I think a sunken roadway is probably the more likely option and I think it's highly unlikely anybody would build this thing now," Malloy said, looking up at the viaduct.

He also said the Hartford-New Haven railway would have to be involved and perhaps straightened as part of any realignment of the highway.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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