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Police Search for Suspect in Sex Assault


State police are investigating the sexual assaulting a juvenile female in Baltic and searching for a 44-year-old man in connection with the case.

Police said the sexual assault was reported on March 28 and the Eastern District Major Crime Squad Detectives out of Troop E in Montville is looking for Greg Butts, 44, of Baltic.

They have an arrest warrant charging him with two counts of first-degree sexual assault and two counts of risk of injury to a minor.

Butts is 5-feet-10 and, 160 pounds and has brown hair and blue eyes.

Anyone with information on where Butts is should call State Police at (860) 896-3208 or (860) 848-6548 and reference case number CFS15-170027.

All calls will be kept confidential.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

West Hartford Man Charged With Child Porn Possession


State police have arrested a West Hartford man suspected in a child pornography case.

State Police said they received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children indicating that images of suspected child pornography were uploaded to cloud storage and investigators traced the activity to a home in West Hartford.

On March 25, police went to the home of Michael Thomas, 51, at 9 Hawthorne Road, with a search and seizure warrant and seized computers and computer related equipment. As the evidence was examined, police said they found files of suspected child pornography.

Thomas was arrested on Friday on an outstanding arrest warrant and charged with possession of child pornography in the first degree.

Bond was set at $750,000 and he was due in court today.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Car Hits Tree on Merritt Parkway in New Canaan


Traffic was backed up for miles on the northbound side of the Merritt Parkway on Friday afternoon after a car struck a tree on the highway in New Canaan.

State police said the car crashed into a tree on the side of the highway just before 1 p.m. in the area of exit 35.

Despite the tree falling on top of the vehicle, the driver, who was alone in the car, was not hurt, police said.

No additional information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

President Obama Coming to Coast Guard Academy Commencement


President Barack Obama will be coming to Connecticut next month for the United States Coast Guard Academy commencement, according to a statement from the White House.

President Obama will be in Connecticut on Wednesday, May 20 to participate in the 134th commencement exercises. The last time he delivered the keynote address at the academy's graduation was in 2011.

“The President is honored to deliver the commencement address to this year’s class of graduating first class cadets. Further details about the President’s travel to Connecticut will be available in the coming days,” the White House said in a statement.

U.S. presidents traditionally address the graduating class at one of the federal service academies on a rotating basis.

Vice President Joseph Biden spoke at the Coast Guard commencement in 2013.

Photo Credit: AP

Ansonia Woman Wakes Up to Intruder on Bed


An Ansonia woman woke up and screamed for her roommates early Thursday when an inturder climbed onto her bed and stole her cellphone.

"She had screamed out at us about 1:30 in the morning. She had screamed out my girlfriend's name but I woke up," recalled Alexander DeLuca, who lives with the 22-year-old victim and his girlfriend on Platt Street in Ansonia. "She yelled back that someone was in the apartment."

DeLuca said he woke up his girlfriend and called 911 to report the break-in. They searched the house and found an open window in the living room, where they suspect the intruder got in. Police said the window was unlocked.

"They had gone into the other girl's bedroom and what woke her up was he was actually on her bed reaching for her cellphone and did get her cellphone," DeLuca said. "Her cellphone is gone, along with some of the medication she was on."

The victim told police she had covered her head until the intruder left. Police said the perpetrator got away with two cellphones and some prescription pills.

"It's an unbelievable situation, a situation you just think you're never going to be in," DeLuca said. "With the police station up the road, when we came into this neighborhood we said, 'That's a good idea, a good situation to have.' We thought we were going to be safe."

He added that he and his roommates are now double checking the doors and windows to make sure everything is locked and have stayed with family members over the past couple days.

"Everyone is a little shaken up with the situation," he said.

If you have information or see something suspicious, call the police department at 203-735-1885.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Found Dead in Plainville Died of Blunt Trauma: Police


Police said the 42-year-old man whose body was found near a hiking trail in Plainville on Thursday died of blunt trauma injuries consistent with a fall.

The death of West Hartford resident Robert Raymond has been classified as untimely. Police said Raymond walked out of his group home in West Hartford on April 8 and was reported missing that evening.

State police issued a Silver Alert for Raymond that was canceled Friday morning.

Police said the hikers were walking on a trail on Pinnacle Mountain at 10:30 a.m. when they came across Raymond's body.

A medical examiner performed an autopsy Friday. Police said Raymond's cause of death remains undetermined.

Authorities are investigating to determine how he died.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com/Connecticut State Police

Uber Offers Free Rides for UConn Victory Parade


Heading to downtown Hartford for the UConn victory parade on Sunday? Uber is offering free rides to get you there and back.

“We know many Connecticut fans will be sure to attend and support their favorite team, so we’ve decided to help make transportation to and from downtown Hartford as seamless as possible,” Uber said in a news release on Friday.

Uber is running the promotion only in Hartford County between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Sunday. It will be valid for two trips for up to $25 each, beginning or ending in downtown Hartford.

On Sunday, enter the promotional code CONNCHAMPS to unlock the two free rides.

The parade will begin at 3:00 p.m. at the State Capitol building, on the corner of Trinity Street and Elm Street, and proceed down Elm Street moving alongside Bushnell Park, turn north up Trumbull Street, and end at the XL Center, where the rally will be held.

A victory rally on Trumbull Street, directly in front of the XL Center, will begin at approximately 3:30 p.m.

If you are traveling with fellow fans, split the fare with friends. Get the details here.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Water Company Warns of Impostor


The Metropolitan District Commission is warning customers of a suspected impostor who showed up at a Hartford home Friday and tried to collect payment.

According to the MDC, the impostor told residents their previous payments had been returned and their bill was outstanding. The person said without immediate payment, the resident's water service would be shut off.

The MDC is reminding residents that company employees will never show up unsolicited and do not accept payments at customers' homes.

All MDC employees wear company clothing and drive vehicles marked with the MDC logo.

If someone purporting to be from the water company shows up at your house without a scheduled appointment, do not allow him or her into your home. Call the MDC Command Center at 860-278-7850 ext. 3600 to verify the employee's identity.

If you're suspicious about the person's intentions, call police.

Photo Credit: Tim Graham

Power Out in Part of Middletown After Crash


Power is out for more than 250 customers in Middletown after a car hit a pole.

Police said the crash happened on High Street, near Church Street, and power is out for 251 customers in the area, which is about 1 percent of customers in Middletown.

Traffic being re-routed off High Street and utility crews are on scene.

No injuries are reported.

3-Car Crash in Meriden Leaves Driver in Critical Condition


Two drivers are in the hospital, one in critical condition, after three cars collided late Friday morning in Meriden.

Police said Eileen Jenkins was driving her Prius eastbound on Liberty Street "at a high rate of speed" around 11:10 a.m. Friday.

She passed two cars stopped at a stop sign at the intersection of Liberty and Murray streets and was struck by a black Toyota Camry traveling northbound on Murray Street, according to police.

Jenkins' Prius then collided with a parked car on Liberty Street, police said.

Firefighters extricated Jenkins from her car. Police said she was taken to Hartford Hospital in critical condition. The driver of the Camry, identified as Marie Rivers, was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital.

An accident reconstruction team is investigating the crash.

Anyone who witnessed the collision is asked to call Officer Christian Rodriguez at 203-630-6215 or Lt. Thomas Cossette at 203-630-6256.

Photo Credit: Meriden Fire Department

Woman Sold Stolen Jewelry at Pawn Shop: Cops


Police have arrested a 22-year-old woman accused of breaking into a home in Westport and stealing a large amount of jewelry last July, then selling it to a pawn shop.

According to police, Raisa Santos, of Bridgeport, burglarized a home on Riverfield Drive in Westport in July 2014. She stole jewelry and stole it to a local pawn shop.

Santos was arrested Wednesday, April 8 and charged with first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny.

She was held on $10,000 bond and is due in court April 17.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com

Sheriff: Arrest Beating "Excessive"


An arrest at the end of a horseback pursuit in the high desert northeast of Los Angeles appeared be an "excessive" use of force by deputies who punched and kicked the suspect as he was sprawled out on the ground, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff.

San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said during a Friday news conference that he is "disturbed" by what he saw in the video obtained by NewsChopper4 Thursday at the conclusion of a chase in the rugged terrain about 90 miles northeast of Los Angeles. Teams are "working around the clock" as part of the criminal and internal investigations into the arrest and 10 deputies involved are on paid administrative leave, McMahon said.

The pursuit began after deputies attempted to serve a warrant at an Apple Valley home as part of an identity theft investigation. The subject left the home and led deputies on a pursuit in a vehicle through the Victor Valley before he abandoned the vehicle and stole a horse that he rode on dirt trails, according to authorities.

The suspect, later identified as 30-year-old Apple Valley resident Francis Jared Pusok, was thrown from the horse and aerial video appeared to show a deputy use stun gun on him. Deputies said the stun gun was ineffective due to his loose clothing.

Pusok then fell to the ground with his arms outstretched as the horse stood nearby. Two deputies immediately descended on him and appeared to punch him in the head and knee him, according to aerial video reviewed several times by NBC4.

"At the end of the day, it appears to be excessive," McMahon said Friday.

Attorneys for the suspect said they met with Pusok for a couple of hours at the West Valley Detention Center. He suffered several injuries to his face, possibly a concussion and a bruised eye, according to the attorneys.

"He remembers being beat, and he remembers that he wasn't resisting -- that he was laying still," said attorney Sharon Brunner. "He complied immediately. He says that he didn't even move a muscle because he didn't want to be continuously beat."

Pusok also claimed at least one deputy verbally threatened him.

"After the whole beating, he finally thinks it's over, and an officer goes over to his ear and whispers, 'This isn't over,'" said attorney Jim Terrell. "That's why he's scared to death for himself and his family."

The group surrounding the man grew to 11 sheriff's deputies. Pusok appeared to have been kicked 17 times, punched 37 times and struck with batons four times, a review of the video showed, and 13 blows appeared to be to the head.

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

Three deputies were injured during the search -- two suffered dehydration and another was injured when kicked by the horse.

Pusok was hospitalized with unknown injuries, authorities said. He was released from the hospital and booked on suspicion of felony evading a law enforcement officer, theft of horse and possession of stolen property.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV

2 Baby Goats Born During Tornado


Two animals at the Summerfield Zoo in Belvidere, Illinois, were killed in Thursday's severe weather, just as two "miracle" baby goats were birthed, zoo officials said. 

Officials at the facility said that while an emu and a black swan were killed during the storm, two healthy baby goats were also born.

"We have a small barn we keep all of our bottle fed baby goats and there was disaster all the way around it," said Summerfield Zoo Owner Rick Anderson. "Their building just stood in the middle of it."

Roughly 200 other animals at the zoo, including a mother swan who sat on a nest of eggs during the severe weather, were uninjured, the zoo said. 

The facility lost hundreds of yards of fencing and three barn shelters and suffered about $200,000 in damages. 

"We are heart broken at the devastation," read a late night Facebook message.

The organization said insurance will help cover some of the damage to buildings but not the cost to repair or replace fencing or outside structures.

"We had buildings that were completely gone, they are not on the property anymore," said Anderson. "They just disappeared."

An account on the fundraising site GoFundMe.com was created on behalf of the zoo, which was set to open for the season later this month.

As of 2 p.m. Friday, supporters of the zoo had donated more than $46,000. 

"I do believe miracles and just the fact that we've had so many people come out and help us has been a big one," said volunteer Christopher Foster.

Anderson said he hopes to stil open the zoo April 25, despite the damage. 

"We won't have things perfect but we'll work on it," he said. 

Photo Credit: NBCChicago

Social Media "Helped" Tornado Watch


There were no tornado sirens in the small town of Fairdale, Illinois, which was leveled by a devastating tornado that killed at least two people and left nearly a dozen others injured.

Kirkdale Fire Chief Chad Connell said Friday that residents received warning from media outlets and county warnings and credited social media with notifying many in the area. Officials noted the area is unincorporated.

“Municipalities are not regulated at this time to have [sirens],” Connell said. “In this day and age with social media it’s, in this case, I really think that it helped more than anything so I don’t want to get wrapped up in a tornado siren in a town and think that’s really going to save lives over anything else.”

Officials said the two people killed in the storm were in the hardest hit area of the town and at least one of them had sought cover in a bathroom because she didn’t have a basement.

The two neighbors, 67-year-old Geradine M. Schultz and 69-year-old Jacklyn Klosa, were identified Friday as crews continued to search through debris for any other victims.

“Those victims that were in the areas were the most devastating spots in this town,” Connell said. “There were 17 homes leveled and debris piles that are just unbelievable up there.”

DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott said as of 2:30 p.m., 11 people had been transported to area hospitals, one in critical condition, but no known residents were left unaccounted for.

Canine cadaver dogs were searching the areas Friday, police said.

First responders said several people were rescued from basements Thursday night.

“My level of confidence is that we have everyone out of the area,” Connell said.

Recovery efforts were expected to continue into the evening hours. 

Photo Credit: Paul Nagaro

Police Corner Stolen Taxi Cab


A man who led police on a two-hour, slow-speed pursuit through South Los Angeles on Friday surrendered when a police SUV spun out the green Toyota Prius taxi the man was driving.

The pursuit began at 1:30 p.m. in the Inglewood area in connection with an alleged carjacking in South Los Angeles, authorities said.

It ended before 3:30 p.m. when police in armored SUVs cornered the tax and the man surrendered.

He was believed to have been armed with a handgun and was suspected of stealing a Bell taxi cab, according to a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman. 

About an hour into the chase, groups of people stood on street corners when the taxi passed, appearing to cheer the driver on. The driver occasionally stopped in the street to speak with pedestrians and other drivers.

He appeared to throw money out of the car at 92nd Street and Compton Avenue, just after driving onto train tracks as a Metro train passed. The taxi avoided hitting the train, which stopped in front of the cab.

The gunman initially got into the cab as a client, said Bell Cab Co. spokesman Simon Momennasab.

He showed the driver the gun, then took the car after the driver got out.

The driver led police around Inglewood, Hyde Park and other areas in South LA. Police tweeted for motorists to avoid a stretch of road in Inglewood while the pursuit was in progress.

Harford Names Interim Assistant Fire Chief


Retired Hartford firefighter Scott M. Brady has been selected to serve as the city's interim assistant fire chief, according to the fire department.

Brady retired from the department in 2012 after 25 years of service.

He has served as department deputy chief and shift commander, executive vice president and secretary/treasurer of the Hartford Firefighters Association and employee representative on the Hartford Municipal Retirement Fund Pension Committee, fire officials said.

Brady's tenure as interim assistant chief begins Monday.

"I am honored to be once again working with the men and women of the Hartford Fire Department in providing exceptional service to the citizens of the City of Hartford," Brady said in a statement Friday.

His appointment comes three months after then-interim assistant fire chief Terry Waller returned to his prior role as deputy chief.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Cash Scattered on Interstate


Police say a "substantial" amount of cash was scattered along a seven-mile stretch of Interstate 20 in North Texas on Friday after falling out the open door of an armored truck.

Weatherford police said they started getting calls just before 3 p.m. regarding drivers stopping on westbound I-20 between mile markers 403 and 410 and collecting the money that fell from a Brinks truck that was driving to Abilene.

“I saw people all over the ground picking things up, and I thought maybe it was wreckage,” explained witness Joel Aldridge, who recorded the mad dash for cash. “And as they started walking toward me the first guy I saw had a big wad of cash with money sticking out.”

Aldridge told NBC 5 the scene appeared to be chaotic, with at least two dozen people grabbing as much money as they could while their vehicles sat abandoned, doors ajar along the side of the interstate.

“Everybody else was picking up handfuls and running around, kinda like an Easter egg hunt,” Aldridge said.

Police said the money is property of Brinks, and anyone who picked up loose money and didn't return it to Brinks or the police department could be prosecuted.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

Case Continued for Suspect in Southington Fatal Fire


A man arrested in connection with a Southington fire that killed 19-year-old last summer is due in court next month after his case was continued on Friday to work out a plea deal.

Eric Morelli has been charged with first-degree manslaughter, three counts of first-degree reckless endangerment and third-degree arson in connection with the death of Kristen Milano, 19, who died in a fire last June. He entered a not guilty plea and his case has been continued until May 1.

Officials said Morelli, a friend of Kristen’s brother, threw a lit firecracker through the window of Milano’ s Southington apartment, then fire broke out. 

Milano died of smoke inhalation.

According to the affidavit, Morelli drank beer and vodka at a party in New Britain near Central Connecticut State University, then drove to the Darling Street apartment on his motorized scooter around 4:30 a.m. June 22.

He told police he could see Jason Milano sleeping on the couch, but called his name and couldn't wake him, so he grabbed fireworks from his moped and began throwing them at the apartment, the affidavit says. The first two bounced off the window, but the third landed inside.

Investigators later found fireworks near the apartment window, the affidavit says, and at least one of which appeared to have gone off.

The Milanos’ aunt, Diane Goodrich, told police she woke up when the fire alarm went off, saw flames on a pillow in Jason Milano’s second-story bedroom and doused the flames, to no avail, the affidavit says, so she woke her nephew and ran outside.

Jason Milano told police he tried to get back in to see if anyone else was inside, but the smoke was too thick and he turned around.

Goodrich told authorities everyone was out of the building, according to the affidavit, but she was wrong.

Kristen Milano had been sleeping on the second floor and firefighters found her body while searching the apartment. She was identified by her tattoos, the affidavit says.

When police spoke with Morelli, he said he went home after failing to wake his friend and didn’t know Kristen Milano had died in the blaze. When police told him, he started to cry, according to the affidavit.

Ray Hassett, Morelli's attorney, said the affidavit is one of many documents providing insight into what happened that night, and "there are other critical reports which will supplement the facts of this case," including the official report of the fire investigator.

"The entire situation is tragic considering all the facts known to date," Hassett said in a statement in August. "There appear to be a number of extenuating circumstances which caused this catastrophic outcome."

Senator Calls for Ban on Powdered Alcohol


A powdered form of freeze-dried alcohol could be on shelves in Connecticut this summer and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal is calling for a federal ban on it.

The product, Palcohol, is a powdered version of vodka, rum, and three cocktails -- cosmopolitan, lemon drop and their own version of a margarita, called a Powderita, according to the company’s Web site. It’s designed to be mixed with something, like soda or juice or water and made into an alcoholic drink, the Web site says, but Blumenthal said it could be used in far more dangerous ways.

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved Palcohol last month, and Blumenthal said it should not have received federal approval.

The manufacturer, Lipsmark, had suggested in the past that the product could be snorted to get drunk “almost instantly,” and that it could be added to foods, including guacamole, eggs and sandwiches, and even snuck into events, according to a news release from Blumenthal’s office, which said the suggestions have since been scrubbed from the company’s website.

“Without further safety testing, Palcohol is a tragedy waiting to happen. It is simply inconceivable that the product received federal approval in the first place, without rigorous assessments of the product’s safety,” Blumenthal said in a statement. “Powdered alcohol that can be snorted, or surreptitiously snuck into school cafeterias, punchbowls and breakfast foods is simply a terrible idea. If federal regulators cannot or will not do the right thing to properly evaluate this product’s potential threat to public safety, legislators must take action to ban Palcohol and prevent this dangerous product from hitting store shelves this summer.”

Palcohol’s Web site now says criticisms of Palcohol are just speculation because no one has tried it yet.

“Listen, people can snort black pepper....so do we ban it? No, just because a few goofballs use a product irresponsibly doesn't mean you ban it. But even the goofballs won't snort Palcohol due to the pain the alcohol would cause. It really burns. Imagine sniffing liquid vodka. Second, it's impractical. It takes approximately 60 minutes to snort the equivalent of one shot of vodka. Why would anyone do that when they can do a shot of liquid vodka in two seconds?,” the Palcohol Web site says.

Blumenthal will hold a news conference at 12:30 p.m. at Hartford Hospital.

Hartford Roads to Close for UConn Victory Parade


Hartford police are closing city streets Sunday as Connecticut celebrates the UConn women's third consecutive and tenth overall NCAA national championship.

Road closures in downtown Hartford will take effect Sunday morning ahead of the 3 p.m. parade and 3:30 p.m. rally.

The southbound lanes of Trumbull Street will be close at 10 a.m. Sunday and the northbound lanes will close at 11 a.m. between Church Street and Asylum Street. This is where the rally will take place. Trumbull Street is expected to reopen around 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

Trinity Street will close between Capitol and Elm streets from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Police said this will be the staging area for the marchers.

The parade route, which starts at the intersection of Trinity Street and Elm Street in Bushnell Park and continues down Elm to Jewell Street and onto Trumbull, will be closed from about 2:40 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

The parade ends at the XL Center, where the rally will be held.

See a map of the parade route here.

Photo Credit: Hartford Police Department
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