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Restaurant Worker Shot in Stomach During Robbery Attempt


Police are searching for three masked men who tried to rob a New Haven restaurant and shot a female employee in the stomach.

According to police, the men walked into the Smokin' Wings Restaurant on Congress Avenue around 11 p.m. Saturday.

One pointed a gun at restaurant employees, who stepped in front of him when he tried to go around the counter. The man fired three shots before running off with the other two would-be robbers, according to police.

Police said one of the bullets struck a female employee sitting in the kitchen. She was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital for treatment of a gunshot wound to the stomach and was listed in stable condition.

The perpetrators ran down Daggett Street. Police said they found a black revolver in a trash can outside 72 Daggett Street.

Authorities are looking for the gunman and his two accomplices. Police said the gunman stands about 5 feet 6 inches tall and was wearing a black mask, gray sweatshirt and black pants.

The other two men stand about 5 feet 5 inches tall and have medium builds. One was wearing black jeans and a black jacket. Police said the other has long blond hair and was wearing a black jacket and black sweatpants.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call New Haven police.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Similar Cars Seen at Bridgeport, New Haven Homicide Scenes


Police are not saying that recent homicides in Bridgeport and New Haven are connected, but the descriptions of cars near both scenes are similar, according to a news release from New Haven police. 
Police are looking for a 2008 to 2011 mint-green or yellow four-door Ford Focus sedan with a sunroof and black side view mirrors in connection with the shooting death of a store owner in Bridgeport on Saturday afternoon. 
It’s similar in description to a car seen leaving a New Haven gas station where a clerk was killed last Monday night
Sanjay Patel, 39, was working at the Pay Rite food mart at the gas station on Forbes Avenue near the Fulton Street when he shot three times in the chest and once in the hand. Patel was taken to Yale-New Haven hospital, where he died an hour later, police said.
The perpetrators left on foot, but a surveillance image recorded around the time of the homicide shows a similar car traveling from an area near the Forbes Avenue crime scene.
Police are asking anyone who sees a car matching the description to use extreme caution when approaching because the occupants should be considered armed and dangerous.
Neither the New Haven Police Department or Bridgeport Police are considering the crimes connected, but detectives from the two departments are in contact with one another regarding their respective investigations. 
No suspects have been identified in either case.

Photo Credit: New Haven Police

New Haven Pizza Delivery Driver Robbed at Gunpoint


Police are searching for the men who robbed a pizza delivery driver at gunpoint in New Haven.

According to police, one of the perpetrators placed an order from Brick Oven Pizza around 3 a.m. Sunday and directed the driver to a dead-end street.

The driver got out and approached two people who appeared to waiting for a delivery, at which point they held him at gunpoint and stole his pizza, cigarettes and cellphone, according to police.

Police said one of the robbers is a dark-complexioned man standing about 6 feet tall and weighing 200 pounds. He wore a black beanie, dark sweatpants and a black track jacket with reflective stripes on the sleeves.

The other robber is also dark skinned and stand about 5 feet 9 inches tall. Police said he is heavyset and wore dark clothing.

The perpetrators got away on Goffee Street.

Police said the delivery driver was not hurt.

Men Stole Clothes From Donation Bin in Shelton: Cops


Police have arrested two men accused of stealing donated clothing from a charity bin in Shelton on Saturday evening.

According to police, Joaquin Gonzales, 39, and Mardo Pineda, 23, both New York state residents, drove a van to the Kiducation donation bin at 898 Bridgeport Avenue in Shelton and began loading clothing into the back.

It was one of several thefts from the donation bin over the past few months.

A witness tipped off police around 8 p.m. Saturday. Officers arrived to find the van stuffed with donated clothing, according to police.

Police said Gonzales, the driver, did not have a valid license or insurance card for the van. He was arrested and charged with sixth-degree larceny, driving without insurance and driving without a license.

Pineda, the passenger, was charged with sixth-degree larceny.

Police said neither man is affiliated with the charity.

They were each released on a promise to appear and are due in court April 27.

Photo Credit: Shelton Police Department

Man Charged in Hamden Burglary


Police have arrested a man suspected in a burglary at Cheap Auto Rental in Hamden last summer.

A Hamden police officer responded to the business at 1110 Dixwell Avenue on Aug. 10, 2014 after hearing the alarm go off and saw a man running from the scene. The officer chased him, but the burglar eluded police.

As police investigated, they determined that the burglar forced his way through a garage window and stole money from a cash box, police said.

Police have since obtained an arrest warrant for Marion Mershon, 39, of Canterbury. He has been charged with third-degree burglary, third-degree criminal mischief and sixth-degree larceny.

He was held on a $25,000 court-ordered bond and was arraigned later in the day.

Men Torched Car Because of Expense Repair Costs: Cops


Hamden police have arrested two people on arson charges and said they worked together to destroy a car and obtain insurance money rather than pay thousands of dollars in repairs.

On Feb. 23, the Hamden Fire Department responded to Wintergreen Avenue and Carbonella Drive on Feb. 23 and extinguished the fire, police said. Police also responded and Detective Donald Remillard, of the Hamden Police Department Major Crimes Division, took on the case.

As the investigation continued, authorities determined that a family member of Cecil Sims, 57, of New Haven, had learned the vehicle need thousands of dollars in work, so Sims advised his long-time friend Valdez Caldwell, 58, of New Haven to destroy the vehicle, police said.

Caldwell drove the vehicle to Wintergreen Avenue and Carbonella Drive, where he lit it on fire, according to police, and Sims allegedly instructed his family member to file a false insurance claim, police said.

Remillard obtained arrest warrants and both men turned themselves in to police on April 8.

Sims was charged with aiding and abetting arson in the third degree and Caldwell was charged with third-degree arson. Both were detained on a $50,000 and are due to appear in court in Meriden on April 22.

Wind Spreads Embers From East Windsor Bonfire


Wind carried embers from a bonfire on an East Windsor farm on Monday afternoon, spreading flames to a nearby brush pile, according to the fire department.

Firefighters said they arrived at the farm at 55 Kreysigg Road around 2:25 p.m. The farmer was able to put out the flames, but firefighters doused them with water to make sure all hot spots were out and the fire wouldn't reignite.

No one was hurt.

Teens Set Fire That Caused $100K in Damage: Cops


Police have arrested two teens accused of setting fire to New Haven trash bins, causing more than $100,000 in damage to a building on Chapel Street.

According to police, a witness spotted a 16- and 17-year-old boy lighting a trash receptacle on fire at 746 Chapel Street on Sunday morning. The witness tried to chase the teens but they got away.

Police said fire spread to an adjacent building.

Officers found the teens at Chapel and Franklin streets. When questioned, the 17-year-old admitted to setting two fires, only one of which police knew about at the time, authorities said.

Police said the second fire, which was already out, had been set in a trash bin at 180 York Street.

The 17-year-old was charged with third-degree arson, first-degree criminal mischief and first-degree reckless endangerment.

The 16-year-old was charged with conspiracy to commit arson, criminal mischief and reckless endangerment.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

3 Acres Burned in Bridgeport Brush Fire


Three acres burned in Bridgeport on Monday afternoon in one of at least three brush fires reported across the state.

According to the Bridgeport Fire Department, crews responded to Oakwood Street shortly after 5 p.m. Photos from the scene show leaves and twigs burning in a wooded area.

Firefighters said about three acres have burned. Most of the fire has been snuffed out, but crews are still working on hotspots.

Brush fires are also burning in Ellington and East Windsor.

No additional information was immediately available.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: Bridgeport Fire Department

Man Beaten by Deputies Feared Death


A man beaten by sheriff's deputies during an arrest after a horseback pursuit in the high desert northeast of Los Angeles said he feared for his life and struggled for air as deputies repeatedly stunned him with Tasers and delivered a barrage of kicks and punches.

Francis Jared Pusok, 30, of Apple Valley, spoke on Monday to NBC4 about his arrest that prompted an internal investigation into San Bernardino County deputies' actions and a federal civil rights probe. Ten deputies have been placed on paid administrative leave after the arrest, captured on camera Thursday by NewsChopper4.

"I thought I was being beaten to death," said Pusok, who suffered wounds to his head, ribs, back, face, neck and legs. "I was wondering, 'When is it going to stop?'"

Deputies beat Pusok after he led deputies on a nearly three-hour pursuit that began when authorities were trying to serve a warrant in connection with an identity theft investigation that his attorney said he had nothing to do with.

Pusok said he complied with deputies' orders to put his hands behind his back after he fell off the horse. He said deputies cuffed both his hands and ankles. He then expected to be questioned, he said, but "they just beat me" instead.

He said he was stunned several times with Tasers and deputies pressed his head into the sand as he fought for air.

"They tased me again after they hit me for awhile," he said.

Afterward, he said one of the deputies who beat him walked up and whispered in his ear, "This isn't over."

Sheriff's officials declined to comment about Pusok's allegations, citing the ongoing investigation, but earlier Sheriff John McMahon said the video of the arrest appeared excessive.

"I assure you that if there's any criminal wrongdoing on the part of any of our deputy sheriffs or any policy violations, we will take action," he said.

Pusok was hospitalized and jailed on charges of felony evading, theft of a horse, and possession of stolen property. He was released from custody on Sunday after posting bail.

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.

Native American Lenders Sollicit Illegal Loans: Malloy


Lenders from Native American tribes have been illegally soliciting Connecticut residents for loans, according to officials with the Connecticut Department of Banking.

In addition to the solicitation, state leaders contend that the interest rates at which customers can borrow far exceed those allowed under state law.

"Any entity that does business in the state of Connecticut doesn’t have the right to charge our citizens 448 percent interest rates," Gov. Dannel Malloy said at a press conference Monday. "We wouldn’t allow the Swiss to do it. We wouldn’t all the French to do it. We wouldn’t allow the Germans to do it. We shouldn't allow anyone else to do it."

Great Plains Lending is one lender under fire from state regulators. The company is owned and operated by the Missouria-Otoe tribe in Oklahoma and recently sent letters offering rates in excess of 200 percent to Connecticut residents.

Representatives from Connecticut's two federally recognized tribes joined state leaders at Monday's press conference to make it clear that they do not support the activity of out-of-state tribes trying to skirt state law.

"We're here to show that we don't support their efforts," said Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot tribe.

Kevin Brown, chairman of the Mohegan tribe, said tribal leaders aim "to ensure that Connecticut residents don’t mistake the fliers that they’re seeing and the billboards that they’re seeing with these two tribes from the state of Connecticut, who are very engaged, as all of you know, in finding the right way forward for the Connecticut consumer."

The Connecticut Department of Banking fined the Missouria-Otoe tribe $700,000 for improper practices.

Tribal chairman John Shotton called the fine "unprecedented, unwarranted, unconstitutional and unjustified."

Heather Payne, spokesperson for the Otoe-Missouria tribe, defended the tribe's actions in a statement Monday afternoon.

"In recent weeks, Otoe-Missouria tribal enterprises and the sovereignty of our tribal government have been attacked by the State of Connecticut. They are attempting to assert jurisdiction over our tribally chartered, licensed, regulated lending businesses by assessing fines against us for violating their lending laws. They have also attempted to assess a fine against the elected Chairman of the Otoe-Missouria Tribe, in an act of intimidation toward our leadership," Payne said.

She added that the tribe "operates under sovereign tribal law and federal law" and that tribal businesses "do not engage in predatory lending of any kind."

Malloy pledged Monday to sign into law any bills that would make any payday loan that doesn't meet state law requirements on interest rates, null, void, and unenforceable in Connecticut.

Teen Killed in Danbury Crash


A 17-year-old Danbury boy is dead after crashing into a tree on Sunday morning, according to police.

Police identified the teen as Fausto Delossantos and said he was killed in a crash on Crows Nest Lane, just south of Birchwood Condominiums, early Sunday morning.

A driver who was passing by at 7:56 a.m. noticed a black Chevy Cobalt off the road, according to police.

Police said the car Delossantos was driving went off the road, hit the curb, went airborne, then hit a tree and wrapped around it.

When emergency crews responded, they found Delossantos inside the badly crushed car and medical personnel pronounced him dead at the scene.

Police are asking anyone with information about the crash to call the Danbury Police Department Traffic Investigation Division at 203-797-2156.

The medical examiner will conduct an autopsy.

Groton Police Nab Suspected Serial Robber


The man arrested for allegedly robbing a Groton bank branch last week is also accused of holding up four convenience stores and attempting to rob a fifth.

Timothy J. Foye, 26, of Groton, was charged on Monday morning in connection with the April 9 robbery of the People's United Bank at the Super Stop and Shop on Route 12.

Police said he stole an undisclosed amount of money and got away in a gray-colored sedan.

Investigators found a vehicle matching the description on Friday, which led them to identify Foye as a suspect, according to police.

"A lot of times, crimes are solved with little pieces of information connecting to other little pieces, which gives us the bigger picture," said Groton town police spokesman Lt. John Varone.

He has been charged with second-degree robbery, third-degree larceny and breach of peace.

Foye was being held at the Groton Town Police Department Headquarters on unrelated charges. His bond was set at $200,000 ahead of his court appearance Monday.

Police are still investigating and said they expect to file more charges against Foye.

He's also suspected of robbing Henny Penny convenience stores in Stonington, Waterford and Ledyard and trying to rob a store in New London.

"It's always aggravating to try to get out and stop these people before they commit a second crime and a third crime," Varone said.

Photo Credit: Groton Town Police

Dog Flu Outbreak in Chicago


Researchers say a recent canine influenza outbreak that has sickened more than 1,000 dogs in the Chicago area is a strain of the virus that has never been seen before in the United States.

According to laboratory scientists at Cornell University and the University of Wisconsin, the outbreak creating an epidemic in the Chicago area is caused by a strain closely related to Asian strains of the influenza A H3N2 viruses.

“This virus has only been seen in Korea and China and our cases in Chicago are the first of its kind on our soil," Kimberly Cerny, the practice manager at Blum Animal Hospital in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, said in a statement.

According to researchers, officials initially believed the Midwest outbreak was caused by the H3N8 strain of the virus, which was first identified in the U.S. in 2004.

Veterinarians say the new strain of the virus is more virulent than previous strains, allowing animals to develop the disease faster.

Both strains of the virus can cause high fever, loss of appetite, coughing, nasal discharge and lethargy. Symptoms could be more severe in cases caused by the H3N2 virus.

Officials have said the recent outbreak has killed at least five dogs and sickened more than 1,000 others. The virus can live on fabrics and hard surfaces and can be transmitted from person dog if the person has been in contact with a dog carrying the virus.

While researchers say there’s no evidence the virus can be transmitted to human, veterinarians warn the new strain can also affect cats, causing them to contract a similar respiratory disease.

Donna Alexander, the administrator for the Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control, said dogs experiencing any of the symptoms should be seen by vet. Alexander also recommended avoiding dog-to-dog contact, group training, dog parks and boarding facilities.

Photo Credit: NBC Chicago

Knife-Wielding Intruder Dances in New Haven Home: Cops


A 49-year-old man let himself into a New Haven home over the weekend, danced with a curtain wrapped around his waist and held a switchblade over his head when the resident confronted him, according to police.

Police said a resident was raking leaves Sunday evening in his yard on the 600 block of Dixwell Avenue in New Haven when he heard his basement door slam. He went inside to investigate and came face to face with Terry Pollard, 49, who was dancing with a curtain around his waist.

When the resident told Pollard to leave, the intruder said, "This is your house," and waved a switchblade over his head, according to police. He then went upstairs while the resident called 911.

Police said the resident watched Pollard leave through the front gate while he was on the phone with dispatchers. When officers confronted Pollard, he admitted to drinking one beer prior to the incident, according to police.

Pollard was arrested and charged with home invasion, second-degree threatening and second-degree breach of peace.

Photo Credit: New Haven Police Department

Avon High School Students Shared Inappropriate Photos: Officials


Police are investigating reports of "inappropriate pictures" circulating among the student body at Avon High School, according to school administrators.

Supt. Gary S. Mala wrote in an email to parents on Monday that police are looking into allegations that students shared the photos on their cellphones.

"As with any police investigation, district and school officials are not involved in or aware of any of the details of this investigation," Mala wrote. "Once verified information is made available to us by police officials, the school and district will respond appropriately."

Mala is urging parents to talk to their children about using their cellphones responsibly and remind them of how to report inappropriate activity.

Electrocuted Puppy Dies After Being Abandoned in Norwich


Veterinarians made every effort to save her, but a 7- or 8-week-old puppy called Belle died Monday after she was found electrocuted and abandoned under a bush in Norwich over the weekend, according to animal control.

Norwich Animal Control wrote on Facebook that a resident called to report strange noises coming from under her bushes. Those noises turned out to be Belle, who was rushed to the vet and given a 50-50 chance of survival.

"She was very thin and her breathing was extremely labored. After seeing the Emergency Vet in Bolton, the best guess is that Belle either chewed on an electrical cord and was dumped after she sustained injuries, or something far more sinister," the CT Animal House posted on Facebook on Saturday.

The CT Animal House took the puppy to the Bolton Veterinary Hospital for 24-hour care, and animal control solicited donations to help cover the cost of Belle's medical expenses.

Unfortunately, Belle didn't make it.

"Poor little Belle passed away this afternoon after having multiple seizures and coult not be brought back," the CT Animal House posted Monday afternoon.

Animal control is still looking for donations to help pay for Belle's care. Donations can be made online to the CT Animal House or mailed to Norwich Animal Control at the following address:

The Sunny Fund
Attn: ACO Michele
70 Thames Street
Norwich, CT 06360

Photo Credit: Norwich Animal Control

Transgender Actress Laverne Cox to Speak at UConn


Attention, "Orange is the New Black" fans: Emmy-nominated actress Laverne Cox, otherwise known as Sophia, is coming to Connecticut.

The transgender advocate will speak at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts in Storrs on April 22.

Cox is best known for her role as transgender inmate Sophia Burset in the HBO series "Orange is the New Black," based on the life of a woman who spent a year at the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury.

Cox is the first transgender woman to earn an Emmy nomination, produce and star in her own television show and appear on the cover of TIME Magazine, according to a news release from the university.

"Laverne Cox has an empowering message for all LGBTQIA people and allies to live authentically," said Fluerette King, executive director of the UConn Rainbow Center, in a statement Monday.

The Rainbow Center is one of several organizations sponsoring Cox's trip to UConn, along with the Student Union Board of Governors, UConn Student Activities, the Jorgensen Center, Puerto Rican and Latin American Cultural Center, the Women's Center, the Asian American Cultural Center and the African American Cultural Center.

Tickets are free for undergraduate students and cost $25 each for members of the general public. Learn more and buy tickets online.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Mountain Lion Stuck Under L.A. Home


Home security technicians encountered a whiskered intruder while installing equipment at a home in Los Angeles on Monday, the home's owner said.

They found famous mountain lion P-22 stuck in the home's crawl space, said Jason Archinaco, the owner of the home in the Los Feliz hills.

"It's got to be at least 150 pounds!" Archinaco said, looking at the giant cat lodged in the small space of his home.

He said the city's animal control officers couldn't remove the wildcat because it's too large. California Fish and Wildlife had attempted to coax him out with a tennis ball launcher in the hope he would run back to the mountains, however it failed to work. They even tried shooting a few beanbag rounds into the area in an attempt to get him out.

As of 1 a.m. the animal remained under the house, the homeowner said. The area has been cleared in an attempt to let him come out on his own free from distractions.

The home security technicians caught the mountain lion on video, Archinaco said.

The home, in the 2700 block of Glendower Avenue, is close to Griffith Park, where P-22 lives. He was treated for poisoning and mange last year but appeared OK after treatment.

P-22 made Griffith Park his home three years ago after crossing two freeways from the Santa Monica mountains.

Robert Kovacik contributed to this article

Feds Probe Chicago Police Shooting


Federal authorities confirmed Monday they're conducting a criminal investigating into the death of a Chicago teen who was shot numerous times by police last fall. The announcement comes as the Chicago City Council prepares to mull a $5 million payout to settle the case.

Laquan McDonald allegedly lunged at an officer after slashing the tire of at least one squad car during a confrontation with police on Oct. 20, 2014. Police said they wanted to talk to the 17-year-old about attempted car break-ins near 40th Street and Karlov Avenue.

A spokesman for the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office said the autopsy found that McDonald was shot 16 times to the chest, neck, back, arms and right leg. He was pronounced dead at Mount Sinai Hospital about an hour after the shooting on Chicago's Southwest Side.

Just one officer of the several who responded fired the shots. That officer, who has not been publicly named, was stripped of his police powers and put on administrative duty pending the outcome of an investigation by the Independent Police Review Authority. 

United States Attorney Zachary T. Fardon confirmed the criminal investigation along with FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert J. Holley and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.

The City Council's Finance Committee on Monday agreed to pay $5 million to slain teen's family. The entire council will vote on the settlement Wednesday. In recommending the settlement, Chicago Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton said dashboard camera footage of the shooting prompted the city's decision to settle with the family before a federal lawsuit was filed.

Patton noted several officers followed McDonald for blocks and didn't fire their weapons. He said the shooter was late to the scene. 

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