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Wolcott Police Collect Donations for Fire Victims


A Wolcott family was in for a sweet surprise after losing everything in a fire earlier this week.

"Please accept this on behalf of the police union: a Target gift card of $1,000," said union representative Rich Hamel, as he presented the victims with the gift Friday. "And also, the dispatchers and the civilian workers of the Wolcott Police Department took up collection and they put it in a card here for you guys, and they want you guys to have it also."

"Thank you so much," fire victim Katie O'Brien said through tears.

Her brother, Colin, shook Hamel's hand.

The money was a total surprise for the O'Brien siblings, who are struggling to move forward after flames engulfed their home on Garrigus Court earlier this week. The brother and sister were able to escape on their own, but their mother was trapped on the second floor and needed to be rescued.

"You saved my mom's life," Katie O'Brien told the officers who rescued her.

She said her mother is doing well and was expected to be out of the hospital by the end of the Friday.

"The mother starts coming out of the second-floor window, and we were able to get on a Billco door and climb up and grab onto her," described Officer Peter Garguillo, one of the woman's rescuers.

Now, being able to stand inside the police department alive and safe gives the O'Brien family a new perspective.

"This just shows me that now I need to work even harder for what I want because you don't know when it's going to end," Katie O'Brien explained. "And you want to make life as great as possible."

The family plans to use the gift card and donations to buy a bed and clothes for their mother, and to pay for a hotel room until they find a permanent place to live.

If you’d like to donate to the family, contact the Wolcott Police Department at 203-879-1414.

Man Kills Self Outside Courthouse


A man awaiting a verdict in his sexual assault trial shot and killed himself outside the courthouse on Friday.

John Goodwin, 75, a longtime piano teacher from Atkinson, New Hampshire, went on trial this week for allegedly sexually assaulting a former student between 2002 and 2005. Prosecutors said the abuse began when the boy was 11 years old.

While jurors were deliberating around 11 a.m. in the Rockingham County Superior Court in Brentwood, Goodwin went outside and shot himself in the chest with a handgun.

Goodwin was critically injured and transported to a Massachusetts hospital. The sheriff's office was later notified that he had died.

"I felt bad for him, I felt bad for his wife," said Chris Neville, who works at the courthouse.

The jury in the case reached a mistrial later Friday afternoon, and did not know about the shooting.

Photo Credit: James A. Kimble

Trial in Decade-Long Abduction Case


A California man accused of kidnapping and raping a girl he later lived with for years was ordered Friday to stand trial.

An Orange County Superior Court judge made the decision Friday after hearing preliminary evidence against 41-year-old Isidro Garcia, who has pleaded not guilty.

Garcia allegedly drugged a then 15-year-old girl in 2004 and initially took her from her home in Santa Ana to a home in Compton, where he held her captive, according to authorities. Garcia was the boyfriend of the girl's mother at the time.

The girl arrived in the United States from Mexico in February 2004 to be with her mother and sister in Santa Ana, according to the Santa Ana Police Department's investigation. The abduction occurred in August of that year, according to police.

The suspect then convinced her that her family no longer wanted her and threatened her with deportation, according to prosecutors. She was later forced to marry Garcia, police said.

Authorities said Garcia fathered a daughter with her.

The two most recently lived in a Bell Gardens apartment, but police said they moved several times during the decade-long disappearance. The woman tried to escape twice, but was beaten after being caught, according to police.

The case came to light last year when the woman went to a police station to report a domestic violence incident and was connected to a missing-persons report filed by her mother in 2004.

Garcia was dating the victim's mother and all three of them shared this santa ana apartment when garcia allegedly started sexually assaulting the victim when she was only 14 years old. Investigators say garcia drugged the teenager, moved her to different locations and used fake documents to change both of their identities.

Garcia's lawyer has said the allegations were lies and were fabricated because the couple were separating.

He is scheduled to be arraigned May 5.

Men Arrested After Fight With Gun and Machete


Derby police have arrested two men accused of getting into a fight with a machete and a gun.

A report of a man with a machete sent police to the area of the Derby Green around 3:15 p.m. on Thursday and officers subdued the man, identified as Esteban Gonzalez, 37, of Derby.

As police investigated, they determined that Gonzalez and Lamar Copeland, 19, also of Derby, had gotten into an argument on Anson Street and Copeland threatened that he had a gun, so Gonzalez went home, grabbed a machete, and went back to Anson Street to confront Copeland, police said.

On his way, Gonzalez saw Copeland coming toward him with a gun, police said.

When officers responded to Anson Street, they detained Copeland. He did not have a gun, but witnesses reported seeing him run into his nearby apartment just before police arrived, so they searched the home and found a .9mm handgun, police said.

Copeland was charged with possession of a dangerous weapon, carrying a pistol without a permit, breach of peace, threatening, reckless endangerment, assault in the third degree, criminal mischief and risk of injury.

He was held on a $100,000 bond and will appear at Derby Court today.

When police searched Copeland’s apartment, they seized drug paraphernalia and cash were seized and plan to ask for a warrant.

Gonzalez was charged with possession of a dangerous weapon, breach of peace, threatening, and reckless endangerment. He was held on a $50,000 bond and will also appear at Derby Court today.

Photo Credit: Derby Police

Historic Oyster Barge Heads From CT to NY


A piece of history from the Northeast’s oyster industry is leaving New Haven, Connecticut and heading to New York, where it will get a new life.

Earlier this month, work began to deconstruct a more than 100-year-old oyster barge. What was once used in New York in the 1800s as a floating sales room for oysters from Connecticut.

The barge, which has been on the Quinnipiac River Marina in New Haven for the last few decades, was once part of a large group of oyster barges between the East River and the Hudson River, Robert Greenberg, a historian, said.

“It’s the last remaining example of its type that we know survives,” John Herzan, of the New Haven Preservation Trust, said.

The boat fell into disrepair after the bar it housed closed in the 1980s.

“It was land-bound and it was used for all these different things in the city of New Haven, Fair Haven, from bars, to speakeasies, to garage storage,” Lisa Fitch, owner of the Quinnipiac River Marina, said.

Now, two brothers from New York plan to restore the barge and reopen it.

“Put it back onto the water and hopefully put it back near the Brooklyn Bridge, where it came from originally,” Fitch said. “It’s going to be saved and that it will be, it will have its part as a museum piece. Because that’s what it is. It’s a museum piece. It has a lot to offer historically and tell a nice story.”

Reopening the barge will be an expensive and time-consuming project, but those who have watched it languish for years are excited about the possibility of new life for the historic vessel. 

“Going back to New York City will be able to educate the public as to this fabulous industry, about the oyster industry that used to exist,” Greenberg said.

The deconstuction is expected to be complete by early May.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Groton City Wants Independence From Groton Town


Groton Town Hall, where all the property tax money goes, is just a two-mile drive from City Hall in the city of Groton, but officials in the two buildings are not getting along.

In fact, Monday night, the city council passed a resolution to seek "financial independence," with some councilmembers calling for outright secession.

Mayor Marian Galbraith, head of the city government, is exploring the city's options after the town council cut her request for funding by $830,000. She'll certainly take the matter to mediation, as she did two years ago, but said she wants a longer-term solution.

"There are so many things that the town and city should be working on jointly that it makes it very difficult to move ahead with those things, when there's this issue between us," Galbraith said.

Groton Town's population of more than 40,000 includes the city, as well as Noank, Groton Long Point and Mystic west of the river.

But the city has nearly 10,000 residents. They depend on the town government for funding for roads and police under the legislature's special act of 1904, which establishes the dependent city government.

"The city always seems to get cut back all the time. The city does have Pfizer's and EB, which are two of the biggest taxpayers, so you would think the city should have more," said Groton City resident Linda Landry.

"Where it's gonna go will depend on politics, and who's in charge," said Groton Town resident Nelson Harris said.

Frozen Veggies, Smoothie Kits Recalled Over Listeria Concerns


Inventure Foods, Inc. is recalling certain varieties of its Fresh Frozen line of vegetables and select varieties of its Jamba “At Home” line of smoothie kits, after finding listeria in its Jefferson, Georgia, facility.

The Phoenix-based company said there have been no reported illnesses linked to the products included in the voluntary recall.

Listeria is an organism that can cause infections mostly in young children, elderly people, and those with weakened immune systems, causing symptoms ranging from nausea and high fevers, to abdominal pain and miscarriages among pregnant women.

The Jamba “At Home” smoothies’ products being recalled are distributed to retail outlets, including mass merchandise stores and supermarkets east of the Mississippi River. Only specific Jamba “At Home” branded products are involved in this recalled. Click here for a full list of the products.

The Fresh Frozen products being recalled are distributed in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Inventure Foods, Inc. is urging customers who bought one of the affected products not to consume it and return it for a full refund. Customers can call 866-890-1004 or email the company at info@inventurefoods.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images-Media for Medical University Images Group

Hartford Firefighters, Paramedics Save Choking 2-Year-Old


Hartford firefighters are being credited with saving a 2-year-old who was choking on Thursday.

The fire department posted a letter from Aetna Ambulance on its Facebook page, thanking responding firefighters for their quick thinking.

According to the letter, EMTs and firefighters were called to the city's South End around noon Thursday. They found the toddler unresponsive with a "complete airway obstruction." Firefighters performed chest compressions and the Heimlich maneuver.

Medical personnel worked with firefighters to remove the food from the child's airway and give the toddler oxygen.

Aetna Ambulance director of operations Mark Hannegan said the emergency responders' teamwork kept the child alive.

"There is no doubt that without quick, calm and professional actions by all on scene, the child would have died," Hannegan said in a letter to the fire chief thanking the firefighters of Engine 10. "The attending physician called and said that prehospital care 'legitimately saved this kid's life.' He said that the child is doing well."

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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Teacher Says School Forced Him Out Over His Safety Concerns


A former wood shop teacher at Norwich Free Academy is suing the school for wrongful termination, claiming he was forced to resign after bringing up safety violations in the school’s woodworking room.

According to a lawsuit filed in Hartford Superior Court, Pomfret resident Keegan Day was hired as a technology education teacher for the 2014-2015 school year and was assigned to teach woodworking.

Right away, Day “noticed that the [woodworking] room was deficient in safety systems and that its use presented safety and zoning violations/hazards that put the Plaintiff and students at a serious risk of injury,” the lawsuit alleges.

According to the suit, the wood shop lacked a proper ventilation system, did not have enough space for the students or machines, had broken or missing safety mechanisms and inadequate sanitation for eyeglasses.

Day brought his concerns to the department head in September 2014, who “seemed dumbfounded” to hear about the issues and said she was unsure of the regulations, the lawsuit claims.

He met several more times with school faculty, and in October, the academy hired a consultant to perform a mock OSHA audit. The consultant returned an 18-page report detailing the wood shop’s safety violations and, according to the suit, characterized the room as “an extremely unsafe working/learning environment with a number of very serious safety compliance hazards for both students and employees.”

The consultant recommended students stop working in the shop until safety problems were corrected because the violations “put the students and the employees at serious risk,” the lawsuit alleges. The school superintendent allegedly told Day those upgrades would cost at least $200,000.

Day said the next month, the principal sat him down to review “performance deficiencies” even though he had only received positive feedback up until that point.

The principal allegedly told Day he would be terminated and gave him a resignation letter to sign, saying he would “never work as a teacher again” if he didn't step down.

The lawsuit claims Day was “frightened and intimidated” into resigning. He is now suing the academy for more than $15,000.

The school contested Day’s claims in a statement released Friday.

“Norwich Free Academy provides a healthy and safe place to learn and work for all students and employees. The health and safety of students and employees are among the Academy’s highest priorities, so no student or employee learns or works in an unsafe environment. All issues relating to health and safety are addressed, not ignored. NFA’s wood shop classroom, including equipment, meets all safety standards for its intended use,” the statement says.

The school added that “the Academy does not comment on personnel matters or pending litigation.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Developer Wants to Build Casino in East Hartford


A developer wants to build a new casino at the former Showcase Cinemas off of Silver Lane in East Hartford.

Right now, the state is weighing whether to allow Connecticut’s two Native American tribes to open three additional casinos to help fight off the financial threat from Massachusetts, where a casino is under construction in Springfield.

"There’s an opportunity here in terms of speed to market, moving this project along very quickly. I think it’s important for Connecticut to get up and running fast. We certainly have the place, location to do that," said Tony Ravosa Jr., president of the Vince Group, which has put in a bid to develop the casino.

The casino would cost $140 million and include 1,000 gaming machines, along with several restaurants and bars. The site is close to Rentschler Field and several highways, including Interstate 84.

"I think we have an opportunity in East Hartford to do what I consider the most transformative opportunity for a gaming and entertainment destination in the Greater Hartford area," said Ravosa.

He said the casino would create about 240 jobs with a payroll of about $10 million.

While it’s presently just an idea, East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc said she’s remaining neutral, though sees some benefits from a casino in her town.

"We have significant stretches of properties on, along Silver Lane that have gone and lived their usefulness and we’re ripe for redevelopment," said Leclerc.

The state legislature is currently working on a bill to allow for the three additional casinos.

State Sen. Tim Larson, the Senate majority whip, said committee work on the bill should be wrapped up next week. He expects about another month of meetings before the bill can be voted on by the full legislature.

Patty McQueen, a spokesperson for the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes, said the two councils met for a joint meeting Thursday to discuss the development of a casino.

McQueen said they "are encouraged by the increasing number of towns that are expressing interest in developing an alternative gaming facility."

"The tribes believe that votes like the one taken by East Windsor selectmen this week, and proposals like the one from East Hartford, show an increasing understanding from businesses and municipalities that the potential for job loss from competition over the state border is real, and protecting them will be good for the state and the region," said McQueen.

Armenian Genocide March


Tens of thousands of people attended Friday's "March for Justice" through Los Angeles on the anniversary of the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915.

The six-mile march was set to travel to the Turkish Consulate on Wilshire Boulevard from Sunset Boulevard and Western Avenue, in Little Armenia. Los Angeles has America's largest Armenian population and the city's march was expected to be the largest in the western U.S.

Marchers hoped to bring awareness of the Armenian genocide, a term that's rejected by the Turkish government despite evidence of mass killings, which began with 300 Armenian leaders who were rounded up and deported or killed on April 24, 1915. About 5,000 poor Armenians were killed in and around Istanbul that day as well.

On the eve of the centennial, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted that his nation's ancestors never committed genocide, and the U.S. government has never recognized the massacres as a genocide.

But Los Angeles leaders spoke in support of referring to the massacres as a genocide.

"The mass extermination of Armenians was a genocide. We need to call it what it was," City Attorney Mike Feuer said Friday.

"Turkey is the only country where its own state-sponsored historians try to fight the truth, try to revise history, but there's no revising this dark chapter in the history of the world," U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff said.

Before the march stepped off, LA City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, joined by Feuer and other politicians, unveiled the Armenian Genocide Memorial Square, meant to "show that the city of Los Angeles recognizes the history of the Armenian Genocide, as well as the impact the event had on the Armenian community," O'Farrell said.

The Turkish Consulate in LA said in a statement that it commemorates and grieves the Armenians who died in the massacres but said using the term "genocide" is "historically wrong and politically misused."

Firing back at the call for recognition of a genocide by the Armenians, Dr. Metin Mangir, from the Committee of Turkish Americans, said, "That's a very big tragedy but Armenians also killed half a million non-Armenians prior to 1915, they never mention this.'

City News contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Khallid Shabazz

Madison Turns Out for Food Trucks


Friday was Food Truck Appreciation Day in Madison, where up to five lunch wagons serve food on School Street in the face of some critics who find it unbecoming for the town.

Lines were long at most of the trucks around lunch time. The organizer of the event said it's a show of support to prove the accuracy of a town government survey the critics disputed.

"I said OK, let's get the people down here, tangible evidence of the people wanting this," said Rik Lammers.

Even in the unseasonable wintry weather, some families had a picnic with food from the trucks.

"We actually ate at Taco Pacifico. It was very good," said Lynsey Eno, of Westbrook.

It's not just the food that makes the trucks so popular in Madison. Some regulars have real relationships with the people behind the counters.

"The people that work here are so friendly and so nice. It's something different than what I make at home," laughed Lauren Bova.

Senate Staffer Arrested


An aide to Republican Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi has been charged with possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine after federal agents raided his home.

An office administrator for Cochran, Fred W. Pagan, 49, was arrested Thursday. Court documents say that Pagan allegedly said he planned to distribute the drugs "in exchange for sexual favors."

On April 9, a package from China addressed to Pagan's home in the 5700 block of Colorado Avenue NW was intercepted in Cincinnati with the controlled substance GBL, according to court documents.

GBL has similar effects to alcohol, but also can used in a compound commonly known as a date rape drug.

D.C. police and Homeland Security raided the home Thursday and found more than 180 grams of methamphetamine, according to police.

Pagan told authorities he ordered the GBL from China and knew it was illegal, according to court documents. He also said he received three prior shipments of GBL.

Pagan said he received the methamphetamine from California, according to court documents. He said he intended to exchange the GBL and methamphetamine for sexual favors.

Pagan was released on his own recognizance after an initial court appearance Friday.

“Senator Cochran is disturbed and deeply saddened by the arrest of his long-time aide Fred Pagan and is suspending him of all duties pending the outcome of this case,” a statement from the senator's office read.

The office is contacting Senate legal counsel.

Photo Credit: NBCWashington.com

Register Outage at Starbucks


A nationwide outage of Starbucks' point-of-sale system got some customers a free jolt of espresso.

The coffee chain confirmed the outage to store staff around 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday via a tweet on the company's Twitter account for employees. Starbucks later said in a statement, "the outage was caused by a failure during a daily system refresh."

"We are aware of the point of sale register outage at company-operated Starbucks stores in the U.S. and Canada," the company said in the statement. "We are actively working to resolve the outage and our stores will remain open and continue to serve our customers."

News of the outage lit up social networks as some stores offered customers free drinks of their choosing.

 But not all locations were being as generous, customers shared.

Starbucks said in the statement the outage was also affecting their Evolution Fresh and Teavana stores.

UPDATE: Starbucks said it had resolved the outage in all U.S. and Canadian stores, according to press release posted on their website early Saturday morning. The company apologized to customers for the inconvenience and said it expected to open for business as usual on Saturday, April 25.

Photo Credit: AP
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Hundreds Pay Respects to Slain New Haven Teen


As detectives continue searching for answers, hundreds gathered Friday night to pay their respects to a 16-year-old who was shot and killed near his New Haven home last weekend.

Long lines formed outside the Ebenezer Chapel as community members waited to say goodbye to slain Wilbur Cross High School student and star baseball player Jericho Scott.

"Not only my family, but the city is mourning," said Scott’s uncle, Jason Jacobs, moments after leaving his nephew’s wake. "A lot of love and lot of sorrow but a lot of people came and supported us."

Police have not identified any suspects and said they lack solid leads. They believe someone likely saw what happened and are urging witnesses to come forward with information.

Scott's parents said the teen was leaning into a car outside his Exchange Street home when someone who was driving or running by opened fire. Two other people were struck by bullets but survived.

Many in the crowd Friday night were his peers.

"He’s very special to us so we want to show everyone we are here for him," said Jasaira Perez, who was among Scott's fellow students who made T-shirts and pins as small tributes to their fallen friend.

Police were highly visible at the wake and plan to maintain a strong presence at Saturday's funeral as well.

"I know that the police officers are working diligently to solve this crime, but it was just a senseless, senseless act," said Scott’s uncle.

Parents Thank Officer for Helping Special Needs Son


Parents of a special needs man are thanking a New Haven police officer for his kindness toward their son after he was robbed and their help in tracking down his stolen wallet.

Last month, the son of Pennsylavnia residents Fran and Mitch Dolan had his wallet taken while waiting for a bus in New Haven on March 26. The victim called his parents and put the phone by his side while an officer took his statement.

"It wasn't far into your conversation when you realized [he] had some special needs and was a member of the Chapel Haven community," the Dolans wrote to Officer Suchy. "At that point, you went above the call of duty by bringing [him] back to Chapel Haven and speaking with staff."

The Dolans were very pleased with the conversation they overheard touched by the way Suchy handled the situation. They said his "kindness continued" when he called their son the next day to check up on him and see how he was doing.

"That phone call helped John feel safe again," they wrote. "It was a very caring, thoughtful gesture and we are grateful for your efforts."

Police were able to recover and return the wallet.

"Some may think that is the best part of the story. We disagree," they wrote. "[Our son] meeting you at a very difficult time was a blessing."

The Dolans expressed their gratitude – especially as worried, out-of-state parents. The letter highlighted the kindness, understanding and respect Suchy showed their son during a time of need.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Life Sentence for Men in Thrill Killing


Two men found guilty in the random 2011 thrill killing of a developmentally disabled man were sentenced to life in prison without parole Friday in a San Diego courtroom.

Humberto Galvez, 22, and Juan Ignacio Gomez, 24, were each convicted of first-degree murder in the slaying of Jordan Hickey, 21.

At their sentencing, one defense attorney asked the judge for a new trial and to consider second-degree murder convictions for the defendants instead of first-degree. The judge denied both requests.

With Galvez and Gomez both in shackles facing toward the judge, Hickey’s family members spoke in court asking that the men be put behind bars forever.

A video was played in court before family members spoke. It was a photo montage of Hickey’s life set to the song “I’ll Be Missing You.”

The video included quotes of what Hickey may have been thinking in the moments leading up to his fatal shooting.

Those quotes read, in part: “Why me? I just want to go home! What do you want? Take my bike. Take my backpack. Take my necklace. Please don’t shoot!”

Hickey's cousin, Taylor, spoke first. At one point, she held an urn containing Hickey's ashes.

"This is what my cousin is. He is not a body. He is in an urn, burnt," said Taylor, overwhelmed with emotion.

Another cousin, Stephanie, then stepped forward, saying the decision Galvez and Gomez made was senseless.

“Both Gomez and Galvez went hunting for the thrill almost four years ago to the date – wanting to know how it felt to kill someone, to watch someone die. Jordan’s last moment on Earth was lying on cold concrete, in his blood, trying to stay alive until help could arrive,” she said.

She too held Hickey's ashes as she spoke.

"Did you get the thrill?" Stephanie asked, looking straight at Galvez and Gomez.

On April 29, 2011, the men fatally shot Hickey as he rode his bike home along Grove Street in the Lincoln Acres area near National City. Prosecutors argued the pair were driving around looking for someone to shoot and called the murder a thrill killing.

For nearly a year, no suspects were arrested in the murder as Hickey’s family members and detectives asked for the public’s help in solving the cold case. In March 2012, both Gomez and Galvez were arrested in Chula Vista in connection with the deadly shooting.

Galvez changed his plea to guilty on April 2. Gomez was found guilty of the murder on March 25. Their fates were decided almost exactly four years after the murder.

Hickey’s mother, Jeannine Hickey, spoke with NBC 7 after Gomez was convicted in March.

"They knew what the consequences were when they went out hunting, and that's what they did," said Jeannine. "They hunted and massacred my son for nothing. So yes, they deserve to stay where they are for the rest of their lives."

Jeannine said though he was 21 years old, Hickey – who was diagnosed with a developmental disability – could not handle the 4th of July because of the loud noises.

The mother said it pains her to think of how scared her son must have been during the shooting.

"He would scream if a balloon popped, so I can't even imagine the screams that came from my son when the gun was going off," she said.

Hickey's uncle, James, also made a statement in court Friday saying his family is constantly in pain knowing Hickey will never get to live out his life or his dreams.

“Jordan’s life was prematurely robbed from him. At the hands of two complete strangers for a reason I cannot and will never comprehend,” he said.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego

Community Plans Perfect Prom Night for Special Needs Student


Prom season is a rite of passage for most high schoolers, but East Hartford High School junior Christian Ramos has has to fight for his rite – and for his life.

"Christian wasn't supposed to live past the age of 3," his mother Maritza told NBC Connecticut on Friday, "and he's 18 now."

Indeed, Christian has been besieged from birth by a plethora of health challenges, including scoliosis, cardiology issues, asthma, muscular disease and chronic respiratory failure.

Once able to sit in a wheelchair, now Christian is confined to a bed and dependent on a respirator. But this oldest of five siblings wasn't about to let that keep him off the dance floor.

"I think the love he gets every single day is what sustains him," his home special education teacher Denise Beaulieu explained.

Beaulieu has known Christian since he was in first grade and says he's worked just as hard to learn as any of his peers.

"We do research projects, we do PowerPoint, we do a lot of typing on the computer," she described.

Some of that typing has recently included authoring a brochure that helped generate donations to make Christian's prom night a complete success: a tuxedo from J.T. Ghamo, flowers courtesy of Buettner Florists, tickets from East Hartford High School principal Matt Ryan, photographs by Lifetouch and even a "limo" ride from EMTs at American Medical Response.

Beaulieu says Christian also typed a formal invitation to his date, East Hartford High School student Shaneece Jack, who also has faced many mobility challenges since a car accident when she was just a toddler.

Although his speech is compromised, Christian and Shaneece both exclaimed "excited!" when asked how they felt about the upcoming evening with their classmates at the club level of Rentschler Field.

And as dinner gave way to dancing, the two fit right in with their peers, not quite able to dance the same way, but all smiles and dressed to the nines.

A night Christian and his family might not have dared dream of is now a dream-come-true, according to his mother.

"I don't even know what words I can say, to say how I feel," she said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Police Make Arrest in Teen's Balcony Fall


Police have arrested a 21-year-old man in connection with a teen's three-story fall from a Middletown balcony earlier this week.

James Brown Jr. has been charged with third-degree assault, risk of injury to a minor, second-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree breach of peace.

Police haven't said how Brown is linked to the case but that he was somehow involved when a 15-year-old boy fell from a third-floor balcony at 70 Ferry Street the night of April 20.

The teen was taken to Hartford Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

Brown was released after posting $75,000 bond.

Silver Alert Issued for Missing 74-Year-Old Woman


A Silver Alert has been issued for a 74-year-old New Haven woman who has been missing since the beginning of the week.

Joan Cuomo was last seen on April 21 in New Haven. Police said she has white hair and blue eyes, and wears glasses. Cuomo is 5-foot-2 and weighs about 180 pounds.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the New Haven Police Department at 203-946-6316.

Photo Credit: New Haven Police Department
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