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Officer Arrested Amid Assault, Racism Accusations


A police officer in Worcester, Massachusetts, has been arrested amid accusations of racism and physical assault.

Worcester Police confirmed Thursday that 50-year-old officer Michael Motyka, a 17-year veteran with the department, had been charged after an internal investigation into an incident that took place on Dec. 1, 2014.

The victim, who had been arrested, was handcuffed and shackled while awaiting transfer from a holding cell at the police department to the courthouse for arraignment when Motyka allegedly forced him against a wall, punched him, threw him to the floor and kicked him while he was down.

Police say a witness supported the victim's claims of assault and racism.

"The complaint and witness alleged that during the prisoner release process, the officer made a disparaging remark with respect to the complainant's 'black' [sic] skin," Worcester Police said in a statement.

"I want to thank Chief [Gary] Gemme and the Worcester Police Department for taking this matter seriously and investigating it quickly," said City Manager Edward Augustus in a statement. "Worcester will not tolerate this type of allegd behavior."

Motyka was arrested Thursday and charged with assault and faces charges including assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and a civil rights violation.

The officer is on paid administrative leave after his arrest.

Photo Credit: Worcester Police

FEMA Funds Coming to Connecticut Cities and Towns


The Obama administration has approved a Federal Disaster Declaration for Connecticut municipalities affected by January's blizzard and subsequent snow events that hampered snow removal efforts.

Mayors and town managers in the state were thrilled to get the news.

"This is tremendous for our city," said New London Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio.

He said the city tore through its snow removal budget quickly with the number of serious snow events.

"We don’t budget for 20 plowable events," Finizio said. "I think the city in better budget times, at its height nine or 10 years ago they budgeted for nine or 10 storms. That was cut down to six in recent years even before I became mayor."

FEMA will reimburse up to 75 percent of snow removal funds to towns and cities, but there's no guarantee that all funds will qualify for that reimbursement threshold.

Gov. Dannel Malloy announced the president's decision yesterday and applauded the move.

"We had extraordinary weather this winter – and through smart decisions, we got through it. We’re pleased that we were successful in our application. This declaration will provide much needed financial assistance to the state and to the municipalities hardest hit by the January blizzard," Malloy said in a statement.

The town of Tolland budgeted $300,000 for snow removal and even has an emergency fund set aside. By the end of the winter, the town had about $75,000 left after spending more than $450,000 on snow removal.

"The snow started mid-January and up until then, we thought we were having a mild winter, and then it never stopped past that point," said Tolland Town Manager Steven Werbner.

He said if another weather emergency had happened over the summer or fall, Tolland would have faced "significant shortfalls" by his estimation.

"FEMA help is certainly something we welcome because it will enable us to replenish our coffers somewhat," he said.

City and towns are hopeful that they receive FEMA funds in June to coincide with the fiscal year, but there's no guarantee when federal officials will release cash to cities and towns.

Shooting at U.S. Census Bureau


A guard at the headquarters of the U.S. Census Bureau in Suitland, Maryland, has died after being shot in the chest Thursday evening -- and the gunman was shot by police in D.C. after a wild police chase.

The guard was identified late Thursday as Lawrence Buckner, 59. He died at Prince George's Hospital Center at 7:19 p.m.

The gunman, described by police Thursday only as a man in his 30s or 40s, left a trail of violence in his wake.

The chaos started when the gunman kidnapped his wife in the 300 block of T Street NE Thursday afternoon, police said. The gunman is also suspected in a shooting on Bruce Place in southeast D.C.

As police were getting word of the kidnapping, the gunman drove to the headquarters of the U.S. Census Bureau in Suitland.

Buckner spotted him arguing with someone in his car. D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said when Buckner approached the car, he was shot.

Later, D.C. police spotted the gunman's car. He shot at pursuing police at 3rd and K streets in Northeast, Lanier said. In the area of 11th and H streets, a busy section of northeast D.C., police were able to block the gunman's path with their cruisers, causing a collision with the gunman's dark green Honda.

In an exchange of gunfire with police, the gunman was shot multiple times. There was conflicting information about his condition Thursday night.

A D.C. police officer was shot in the leg during the confrontation at 11th and H, and brought into a nearby restaurant for triage. Two other police officers were injured. All the officers have suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Police say H Street will be closed between 10th and 11th streets until further notice.

The gunman's wife has been located, safe.

Meanwhile, the Census Bureau has reopened for business after what the bureau said was an "incident" at the campus. The Census Bureau headquarters, which opened in 2006, houses about 5,000 permanent employees.

"There has been an incident at the Suitland Federal Center and there is an ongoing investigation," the tweet read. "We are committed to the safety of all staff who work at the Census Bureau and are currently making sure that everyone is safe and secure. We will provide more details as they become available."

Buckner worked for Hunt Valley, Maryland-based Masters Security for 15 years, according to another employee of the security company. He was stationed at the Census Bureau for about 5 years.

The FBI is investigating the shooting at the Census, which is federal property.

Stay with us for more on this developing story.

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More Than 60 Cases of Tax Fraud Reported in West Hartford


Police in West Hartford are investigating more than 60 reports of tax fraud and identity theft in town, according to department spokesperson Lt. Ted Stoneburner.

Stoneburner said the incidents stem from the 2014 tax year, when someone stole residents' personal information and used it to file fraudulent tax returns.

If you believe you are the victim of tax fraud at the state level, call the Department of Revenue Services Refund Protection Group at 855-842-1441.

Anyone who has fallen victim to fraud on the federal level should report it to the IRS by calling 1-800-829-1040. You can learn more about fraud reports online.

West Hartford rsidents who have been victimized should call the local police department.

Man Beaten After Stealing Horse


San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon ordered an immediate internal investigation Thursday into an arrest by deputies after a horse pursuit caught on camera by NewsChopper4.

Deputies appeared to use Tasers to stun a man and then beat him after the pursuit in San Bernardino County Thursday afternoon.

Aerial footage showed the man falling off the horse, and then being stunned with a Taser by a sheriff's deputy.

The man appeared to fall to the ground with his arms outstretched. Two deputies immediately descended on him and began punching him in the head and kneeing him in the groin.

The group surrounding the man grew to 11 sheriff's deputies.

In the two minutes after the man was stunned with a Taser, it appeared deputies kicked him 17 times, punched him 37 times and struck him with batons four times. Thirteen blows appeared to be to the head. The allegedly stolen horse stood idly nearby.

The man did not appear to move from his position lying on the ground for more than 45 minutes. He did not appear to receive medical attention while deputies stood around him during that time.

The man, identified as Francis Jared Pusok, 30, of Apple Valley, was hospitalized with unknown injuries, authorities said.

His girlfriend, Jolene Bindner, said she hasn't been able to get answers from the Sheriff's Department about Pusok's condition, let alone what hospital he's at.

"They have not told me a thing," she said. "How can you be tased and still feel it's necessary to beat him like that? I don't understand.

Three deputies were injured during the search. Two suffered dehydration and a third was injured when kicked by the horse. All three were taken to a hospital for treatment.

McMahon told NBC4 he was launching an internal investigation into the actions of the deputies.

"I'm not sure if there was a struggle with the suspect," McMahon said. "It appears there was in the early parts of the video. What happens afterwards, I'm not sure of but we will investigate it thoroughly."

The series of events started when deputies from the Victor Valley station went to a home on Zuni Road to serve a search warrant in an identity theft investigation, authorities said in a news release.

The suspect took off in a vehicle and deputies initiated a pursuit through unincorporated Apple Valley, the town of Apple Valley and unincorporated Hesperia. The area is more than 80 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles.

Pusok allegedly abandoned the vehicle 40 miles away from Hesperia in a place called Bowen Ranch where he took off running.

During a search on foot, with off-road vehicles and by helicopter, deputies learned the suspect had stolen a horse and rode it on dirt trails through rugged, steep terrain, causing numerous injuries to the horse.

A sheriff's helicopter inserted a team of deputies to take the suspect into custody. As deputies made contact with Pusok, the horse threw him off.

Deputies said the Taser was ineffective due to his loose clothing and a use of force occurred.

"I can certainly understand the concerns in the community based on what they saw on the video," McMahon said. "I'm disturbed by what I see in the video. But I don't need to jump to conclusions at this point, until we do a complete and thorough investigation. If our deputy sheriff's did something wrong, they'll be put off work and they'll be dealt with appropriately, all in accordance with the law as well as our department policy."

San Bernardino Superior Court records show Pusok has convictions for resisting arrest, animal cruelty, disturbing the peace, attempted robbery and failure to provide evidence of financial responsibility.

The American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement that while they understand police officers are authorized to use force, they "are deeply troubled by the video images that appear to show San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies beating a man after he surrendered."

Gadi Schwartz, Asher Klein and Nyree Arabian contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV

TX Executes Man for Police Officer's 2002 Shooting Death


Texas prison officials on Thursday executed a man convicted in the slaying of a Dallas-area police officer during a 2002 shootout that followed the killing of a customer outside a convenience store.

Kent Sprouse, 42, became the fifth convicted killer put to death this year in Texas, the nation's most active death penalty state. He was pronounced dead at 6:33 p.m. CDT.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review Sprouse's case in November, and no last-day appeals were filed for him in the courts.

Sprouse was sentenced to death for the October 2002 killing of 28-year-old Harry Marvin "Marty" Steinfeldt III, a police officer in Ferris, about 20 miles south of Dallas.

Witnesses said Sprouse carried a shotgun into the Ferris Food Mart store while he made a purchase and then walked outside and fired toward two men at a pay phone. He went to his car and appeared to have some trouble with it, then shot and killed 38-year-old Pedro Moreno, a customer who was pumping gas near him.

Steinfeldt responded to a 911 call about a customer shot at the store and came under gunfire. He was struck twice under the arm where his protective vest did not cover him. He managed to fire 17 shots, reloading his gun once, and wounded Sprouse in the chest, leg and hand.

Court records indicate Sprouse told an officer who accompanied him in an ambulance to a hospital that he believed Moreno was an undercover officer, so he shot him.

"And I shot the other officer that was in uniform," Sprouse said, according to the records.

Sprouse was charged in Moreno's killing, but wasn't tried for it.

Relatives of both Steinfeldt and Moreno declined to speak with reporters after Sprouse's execution. Michelle Steinfeldt released a statement saying the execution was "the emotional end of a long, excruciating journey."

Tests showed that Sprouse, a Boone County, Missouri, native, had taken methamphetamine and other illegal drugs within 48 hours of the killings.

Jim Jenkins, who was Sprouse's lead lawyer at his trial in Steinfeldt's death, said Sprouse suffered from the effects of methamphetamine addiction.

"It's very addictive and easy to get and sort of melts your brain after a while," Jenkins said last week, recalling the case.

"He just didn't know what he was doing, but the jury has to buy that. It's sort of like being drunk and killing somebody. That's really not a defense, not a legal defense. ... The whole thing is extremely sad."

Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials said a recent purchase of pentobarbital means they have enough of the sedative to carry out three other executions set for this month, including one next week. But at least three more are set for May and June, meaning they would have to find a new supply or switch to a different drug to carry out those executions on schedule.

Death penalty states have found it increasingly difficult to acquire execution drugs because traditional manufacturers now refuse to sell their drugs for use in executions. States now rely on compounding pharmacies for their made-to-order execution drugs.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News/Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Police Seek Groton Bank Robber


Police are searching for the man who robbed a bank branch in a Groton supermarket Thursday evening.

According to police, the suspect entered the People's United Bank at the Super Stop and Shop on Route 12 in Groton around 6:50 p.m. Thursday.

He stole an undisclosed amount of money and got away in a gray-colored sedan. Police have described the suspect as a stocky man in his 20s standing between 5-foot-5 and 5-foot-8.

He was wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt with a flame pattern on the sleeves, a large logo on the back and a smaller logo on the front. Police said the suspect also wore a light-colored baseball cap with a design on the front, sunglasses, black-and-yellow gloves, jeans and work boots.

Anyone with information is asked to call Groton Town Police at 860-441-6712.

Photo Credit: Groton Town Police

Lady Gaga Joins Yale to Survey High School Students


Superstar Lady Gaga is teaming up with Yale University to draw attention to the importance of emotional expression inside the classroom.

The Mother Monster’s Born This Way Foundation has worked with the Yale Center for Educational Intelligence to create the Emotion Revolution, a project that will survey high school students on their emotional experiences in school and what they would like to see changed.

The survey can be found online, along with an application to attend the inaugural Emotional Revolution Summit in New Haven, where the survey results will be announced.

According to the Born This Way Foundation website, the summit will give students from around the country “the opportunity to meet with Lady Gaga, educators, academics, and policymakers to learn ways they can accelerate positive changes in their schools and communities.”

The summit will take place in New Haven on Oct. 15.

Photo Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

WATCH: Pregnant Mom of 6 Boys Has Adorable Reaction at Baby Gender Reveal Party


Cher and Stephan Lair, of North Carolina, already have six boys. Watch the mom's reaction when she learns the gender of her seventh child on the way.

Hartford Fire Department Cited for Safety Violations After Deadly Blaze


State labor leaders have handed the city of Hartford citations for five serious violations in connection with the first line-of-duty death in the capital city in 40 years.

All violations listed in the state Department of Labor's Occupational Health and Safety Administration's report pertain to safety issues within the Hartford Fire Department.

Firefighter Kevin Bell's death during the October 2014 fire on Blue Hills Avenue triggered multiple state local and federal investigations, including one by CONN-OSHA.

Director Kenneth Tucker III told the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters the agency did not hesitate to categorize each one as "serious."

"Something that, if violated, could lead potentially to death or serious physical harm," he said.

The violations include a lack of medical evaluations of firefighters on the line, failure to ensure firefighters wore helmets properly with chin straps, failure to "fit test" members for their breathing apparatus, failure to properly test air bottles that enable firefighters to breathe at a fire scene and failure to require all firefighters to wear protective fire-resistant hoods.

Tucker told the Troubleshooters that only firefighters hired within the past three years were issued protective hoods. As a result, the majority of the members of the Hartford Fire Department do not have them.

He said the violations cited in the report came to light as a result of the deadly fire, but don't relate directly to Bell's death.

The fire department said it takes exception to some of the OSHA citations.

"We know that some of the things in this report will be refuted and challenged. I think each and every firefighter in the city of Hartford knows they are protected," said department spokesperson Captain Helene Lynch.

OSHA has fined the city $1,000 for each violation, the maximum allowable under state law.

The news of the citations comes days after a meeting of the Hartford Fire Task Force, made up of several former fire chiefs. The task force focused its inquiry on training, specifically relating to Bell and the months leading up to the night he died.

"This report is disturbing and raises serious questions about management and allocation of resources within the fire department, issues that the Hartford Fire Department Task Force and others are looking into," Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra said in a statement Thursday. "For our fire department to continue to be effective to the community it serves, the safety of our men and women on the ground must be our number one priority at all times."

The city requested a conference with OSHA to review the violations and fines, which has been set for Thursday, April 23 at the state Department of Labor facility in Wethersfield.

City officials also have three weeks to formally appeal or contest the citations.

The report indicates each violation must be abated by May 9, otherwise the city could be subject to additional fines.

Marathon Bombing Anniversary Moment of Silence


Boston Mayor Marty Walsh will lead a moment of silence on April 15, two years after the marathon bombing.

The remembrance will be held at 2:49 p.m., with church bells ringing across the city afterward.

The blasts went off near the finish line of the 2013 race, killing three people and badly injuring many more.

"Mayor Walsh is encouraging people outside of the city, and around the world, to join Bostonians in the moment of silence," said the city in a statement. "Mayor Walsh has previously announced that April 15 will be known as 'One Boston Day,' a new tradition to honor the resiliency, generosity and strength of the City of Boston."

Wednesday, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found guilty of all 30 counts against him in the bombings and subsequent manhunt. The next phase of the trial will determine whether he receives the death penalty or is sentenced to life in prison.


New Haven Marine Hit and Killed at South Carolina Gas Station


A 53-year-old former marine from New Haven was run over twice by a tractor-trailer and died in the parking lot of a South Carolina gas station, according to NBC affiliate WYFF.

WYFF reports that Garvin Libert, 53, of New Haven, had just left a gas station store in Anderson County and was walking through a dark area of the parking lot when he was struck early Thursday morning.

The tractor-trailer driver, who had previously been sleeping in his truck, was driving to a gas pump and didn’t see Libert.

He told police he hit something, then backed up and struck it a second time, WYFF reports. The driver got out and found Libert under his truck, holding postcards he had purchased for his mother and niece.

Authorities used Libert’s Marine tags to identify him, according to WYFF.

Photo Credit: WYFF

Local Airman Killed in Afghanistan to Receive Military Honor


A 22-year-old Sherman resident and New Fairfield High School graduate killed while serving in Afghanistan with the New York Air National Guard will receive one of the military's highest honors.

Staff Sgt. Todd "T.J." Lobraico died in Afghanistan in September 2013 when enemy forces attacked his unit. He was a member of the 105th Airlift Wing.

"With total disregard for his own safety he placed himself directly between his fire team and the insurgents who unleashed a hellish barrage of rocket, grenade, and small arms fire," the New York State Division of Military & Naval Affairs wrote in a press release Thursday. "Sergeant Lobraico took immediate and decisive actions while braving this intense enemy fire, and was mortally wounded while directing the maneuver of his fire team to covered positions from which they could effectively defend themselves and return fire on the enemy positions."

For that reason, Lobraico will receive a posthumous Bronze Star Medal with Valor, the military's fourth-highest individual honor and ninth-highest by order of precedence. He'll be honored Saturday at the Stewart Air National Guard Base in New York.

The Bronze Star Medal is awarded for "acts of heroism, acts of merit, or meritorious service in a combat zone," according to the New York State Division of Military & Naval Affairs.

"Sergeant Lobraico's remarkable heroism, valorous actions and selfless commitment to his fellow Defenders resulted in the removal of numerous insurgents from the battle field at the cost of his own life," military officials said in the news release.

Lobraico graduated from New Fairfield High School in 2008 and was a four-year member of the Future Business Leaders of America.

His stepmother worked as assistant tax collector in New Fairfield and his father is an officer with the Stamford Police Department, according to New Fairfield town officials.

Family members said Lobraico's mother is a lieutenant colonel with the Air Force and his stepfather is a doctor with Physician One Urgent Care.

Milford Residents Want Town to Demolish Storm-Ravaged Home


Neighbors are upset about what remains of 17 Ann Street in Milford, a property that was hit hard by both Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy.

"I’m fairly concerned. It’s been sitting here for nearly two years now," said Milford resident Mike Stephens.

Even a fence around the partially demolished home was damaged a year ago, leaving the property open.

Now neighbors worry it’s a public safety risk.

"There are only a couple of supports holding this house, you know, from falling down in the center," said Tony Merola. "So one of the biggest concerns that I have along with the other neighbors in the town is that the house is going to fall and some kids are playing over here."

Then there's the fire danger.

"I’m only three houses up. So, you know, if we get an on-shore breeze and it gets a fire going, it’s going to move up the street," said Stephens.

Neighbors say they want the city to demolish the home, or at least make sure it’s completely fenced off.

But they say they've been passed from department to department, with few answers and the home has become more dangerous with each storm.

"The town needs to do something about it and take action before someone gets hurt or worse," said Merola.

NBC Connecticut reached out to city staff and leaders for answers on Thursday.

Those who did respond said they could not answer our questions Thursday and promised more information on Friday.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Purple Hearts For Fort Hood Victims


Purple Hearts will be awarded Friday to victims of the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, that left 13 people dead and more than two dozen wounded.

Forty-seven medals will be presented during the 9 a.m. ceremony that will be carried live on NBCDFW.com.

The honor is bestowed on troops wounded in battle, but it also means that combat-related services and increased retirement benefits will be available to victims. Many people wounded in the attack at the sprawling Texas military base have lingering injuries and have struggled to find work after leaving the military.

The Department of Defense had previously denied the award to Fort Hood shooting victims, calling the November 2009 attack an act of workplace violence, not terrorism.

The initial denial angered victims who noted that the convicted gunman, then-Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Hasan, said he was inspired by al-Qaida and an anti-American cleric. Hasan has said he attacked unarmed soldiers preparing for deployment to protect Muslim insurgents from American attacks abroad.

Survivors and relatives of those who died in the 2009 attack on the Texas Army post filed a formal petition in December 2014 to receive Purple Hearts and other benefits they argued were long overdue.

In February, in a letter addressed to Congress, the Army said the circumstances of the mass shooting meet new criteria for the award.

New criteria outlined in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act include attacks on service members by foreign terrorist organizations. The legislation requires that an event be considered an attack by a foreign terrorist organization if the perpetrator was in communication with such a group ahead of the attack or if it was motivated by an allegiance to the group.

Federal officials have called Hasan a homegrown violent extremist, and the FBI released emails Hasan exchanged with an anti-American cleric who was later killed by an American drone strike in Yemen.

Hasan is currently on death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

New Britain Police Probe Death of 2-Month-Old


Police are investigating the death of a 2-month-old baby girl on Connerton Street in New Britain.

"The parents called us this morning, 911, saying that their child and stopped breathing," said New Britain police spokesman Capt. Thomas Steck. "Medical services were summoned. The child was pronounced dead here."

Neighbors said the family lives in a third-floor unit of the multi-family house and that police have been called to the home before. Authorities couldn't confirm those reports Thursday night.

"The mother came in and I guess what she walked into made her scream," said neighbor Roxy Rodriguez. "My brother was the one who heard it, and he said he had never heard someone scream like that."

Police removed several items from the home Thursday, including a crib. They've characterized the death as untimely and said it's too soon to tell whether criminal activity was involved.

"Nobody really knows what happened," said Delores Barriera, who lives downstairs. "They're trying to figure out what happened."

While investigators piece together the events that led up to the baby's death, neighbors are just trying to process the tragedy.

"I'm a mom myself, and just to hear something hit so close to home, that's on the third, that's right above me," said Barriera. "So to hear something like that, that could have been my son, that could have been anyone's kid here. So yeah, it touches home, big time."

Authorities continue to investigate. No charges have been filed.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Cop Taped Pocketing Cash: Owner


The NYPD has suspended one detective and reassigned after the owner of a Brooklyn deli said surveillance video from a raid on a Brooklyn deli showed one of the officers pocketing over $2,500 in cash. 

Police had gone into the deli in Bedford-Stuyvesant to look for untaxed cigarettes, and officers put two men in handcuffs and searched behind the counter, video shows. A detective, wearing a dark coat with a gray hood, apparently finds something, looks at the surveillance camera, then tries repeatedly to put the item in his left pocket. 

Store owner Ali Abdullah said the officer was taking $2,650 in cash. 

"It was crazy, honestly," he told NBC 4 New York Thursday. "I was thinking he should give that money to the sergeant, not to his pocket." 

Abdullah, who's owned the store for two years, said he's never been in trouble with the law, and when his employees were arrested, he took inventory. He said police showed him a receipt for other money seized during the raid, but then the store owner noticed his rent money was gone.

Abdullah assumed at first it was a co-worker but he watched the surveillance video and saw the plainclothes detective take the money, he said. 

"I see this guy stealing the money. He was stealing the money and putting it in his pocket," he said. 

The NYPD said in a statement: "Based on the nature of the allegations in this incident, in addition to the video provided to us, the NYPD has placed one detective on suspension and one supervisor on modified assignment status pending further investigation into the matter."

Michael J. Palladino, president of the detectives union, said "because the investigation is ongoing, it is inappropriate to make a statement at this time."  

A woman living at the address listed for the detective told NBC 4 New York Thursday night he had nothing to say. 

Abdullah maintains nothing illegal was happening inside his store. He said he just wants his money back and justice to be served.

Tornado Levels Ill. Suburb, 2 Dead


A deadly and devastating tornado tore through a northwest Chicago suburb Thursday evening, killing at least two people and leaving behind a trail of damage across several counties.

The twister leveled the small town of Fairdale in DeKalb County, killing 67-year-old Geradine M. Schultz and destroying about a quarter of the town's homes, fire officials confirmed. 

A second fatality was confirmed by Gov. Bruce Rauner Friday.

DeKalb County Coroner Dennis Miller said the second victim found in the wreckage was identified as 69-year-old Jacklyn Klosa.

Miller said Klosa was found in a bathroom around 10 a.m. Friday by rescue workers. She had last spoken to her sister, telling her she was going into the shower to take cover because she didn't have a basement. 

Miller said Schultz, who lives next door to Klosa, was found in the upstairs of her home by family members Thursday.

"She was removed from the home by family members and I took her from there," Miller said. 

An official on Friday morning said one person in the community was unaccounted for. Kirkland Community Fire District Chief Chad Connell said roughly 11 people were taken to hospitals. None had life-threatening injuries.

"The whole town was gone," said Daniel Prothero, who arrived at the scene shortly after the storm. "It was one of the worst things I’ve ever seen in my life. It was heartbreaking."

Of about 75 homes in the village of about 150 people, 17 were completely leveled. Roughly every structure in the town was damaged, Rockford Fire Department division chief Matthew Knott added.

"This town is absolutely devastated by the tornado," Knott said.

Sycamore Fire Chief Peter Polarek said there were lots of safety issues to consider and that crews began using heavy equipment to move debris. By Friday morning, crews had twice searched buildings. A third search was planned.

"We hope that our search will be fruitless in the sense that we won't find anybody, but we're going to go through all the spaces," he said. 

In Rochelle, about 20 miles to the southwest of Fairdale, several people were rescued from the basement of a restaurant buried by debris. Fire officials said no fatalities were reported during the rescue at Grubsteakers, but some suffered minor injuries.

Ogle County Sheriff Brian Van Vickle said there was an "outstanding response" from first response entities across Northern Illinois. 

Van Vickle said the storm left about 30 homes in the community uninhabitable or completely destroyed, including his own, and that access to the area would be limited only to credentialed residents until further notice.

The Summerfield Zoo in Belvidere, in Boone County, said it was also hit by a tornado, and two animals were killed. The zoo said no employees were hurt, and the remaining animals were accounted for and noted that the facility was severely damaged. 

"We are heart broken at the devastation," the zoo posted on Facebook Thursday night.

A tornado was first located moving northeast at 40 miles per hour over Cherry Valley near Rockford just before 7 p.m., the National Weather Service announced, and by 7:20 p.m. the tornado was spotted on the ground in DeKalb County. By 7:30 p.m. it had moved toward the Ogle, McHenry and Monroe Counties.

Tornadoes were reported in Marengo, Harvard, Belvidere, Kirkland, Hillcrest, Cherry Valley, Ashton and Franklin Grove. 

Hail the size of golf balls and wind gusts of up to 70 mph were reported in the Chicago-area storms after 7 p.m.

The Red Cross said it planned to deploy crews to help those impacted by the tornadoes. 

Patricia Kemp with the Red Cross said teams planned to assist residents of Rochelle and Kirkland and provide disaster relief to the many areas damaged. 

The storms canceled nearly 900 flights in the Chicago area with 850 flights canceled at O'Hare International Airport and 45 flights canceled at Midway International Airport. 

Tornado watches and warnings were issued across Illinois Thursday afternoon ahead of the storms as severe weather lingered through the late evening hours. 

Photo Credit: Paul Nagaro
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Fire Spreads Through Hartford Home


Firefighters battled a two-alarm fire at a multifamily home on Westbourne Parkway in Hartford this morning and investigators are trying to determine the cause.

The fire started just after 3 a.m. in the basement of 66 and 68 Westbourne Parkway and spread through the walls to all levels of this house before firefighters got it under control. At one point, firefighters thought the fire was out, but determined there was fire in the walls.

Three adults who were home made it out safely before firefighters arrived and pets were rescued from the second floor.

None of the residents were injured, but one firefighter injured his foot during the fire and is expected to be OK.

The gas line was shut down after the odor of gas was reported, but officials said it this was not related to the fire.

The road was closed this morning, but has since reopened and fire vehicles have left the scene.

Officials said the residents are displaced and will receive some relocation assistance.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Ballpark Construction Prompts Road Closures in Hartford


Hartford is alerting drivers of road closures in the city during construction on the new Downtown North development and ballpark.

Pleasant Street has four lanes during construction, two westbound n and two eastbound. One lane was recently closed to allow for construction of the north end of the ballpark.

Trumbull Street will be closed between Main Street and Market Street from the end of the day on April 17 until about Sept. 4 to realign it, according to city officials. That section of Trumbull Street will be redesigned to accommodate the new baseball stadium.

Windsor Street will close permanently between Pleasant and Trumbull streets. It will be used first as a construction staging area and will then be turned into the "Windsor Walk," which will include pedestrian and bicycle lanes.

Windsor Street, between Trumbull and Pleasant streets, will be closed to through traffic, but it will be accessible for emegency vehicles and public transportation through construction. 

The dates are subject to change because of weather.

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