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Matthew Charged With Capital Murder


The man charged in the abduction and killing of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham is now charged with capital murder in the case.

If convicted, Jesse Leroy Matthew Jr. could now face the death penalty in the death of 18-year-old Graham, who went missing last fall following a night out with friends. Her remains were found five weeks later.

A prosecutor said new forensic evidence led to the additional capital murder charge and prosecutors will seek the death penalty if Matthew, 33, goes to trial.

Matthew was previously charged with first-degree murder, a charge which carries up to a life sentence. He is also charged with abduction with intent to defile and two counts of reckless driving for incidents that occurred early in the investigation.

His jury trial had been scheduled to begin June 29, but in March, an Albemarle County circuit judge granted a request to postpone the trial. Tuesday's hearing had initially been scheduled to set that new trial date.


Matthew was the last person seen with Graham, authorities say.

The second-year U.Va. student met friends for dinner at a restaurant on the night of Sept. 12, a Friday, before stopping by two off-campus parties. Officials said she left the second party alone, later texting a friend that she was lost.

Surveillance videos showed her walking unsteadily, and at some points running, past a pub and a gas station and then onto Charlottesville's downtown mall very early that Saturday. She was also shown with a man whom police say is Matthew. In the video, the man is shown wrapping his arm around Graham.

Matthew was also accused of buying her alcohol.

Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo said police have no reason to believe the two knew each other before that night.

Over the days and weeks that followed Graham's disappearance, search teams fanned out over Charlottesville and Albemarle County, and authorities asked property owners to check their land.

Graham's remains were found in a rural area Oct. 18, 2014, just miles from where she was last seen.


At the time of Graham's disappearance, Matthew was an operating room patient technician at the University of Virginia Medical Center, according to the university.

He attended Liberty University in Lynchburg from 2000 to 2002, said officials from the school founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell. In October 2002, Matthew was accused of a sexual assault at Liberty, but charges were never filed, said Lynchburg's deputy commonwealth's attorney.

More recently, Matthew was a volunteer for a football team at a Christian school in Charlottesville. Officials said he underwent normal background and reference checks.

Online court records show Matthew was convicted of trespassing in 2010 but provided no details about the incident. Details also were unavailable for two other charges of assault and attempted grand larceny relating to a 2009 incident. Those charges were not prosecuted.

In late September 2014, Matthew was arrested on a beach in Galveston, Texas, and extradited to Virginia on a charge of abduction with intent to defile Graham. "Defile," in a legal context, means "sexually molest." Matthew was later charged with her murder.

LINKS TO 2005, 2009 CASES

Authorities say DNA evidence has also linked Matthew to a 2005 sexual assault and the 2009 disappearance and death of Virginia Tech student Morgan Harrington, whose remains were found in early 2010.

Matthew was already in custody in connection with the Graham case when he charged with attempted murder and sexual assault in the 2005 case. In that case, the 26-year-old victim was attacked while walking home from a grocery store in the city of Fairfax. She was dragged into a wooded area and sexually assaulted. Her attacker was interrupted by a passerby and then ran off.

Matthew pleaded not guilty in that case. His trial in Fairfax is scheduled to begin June 8.

Before Matthew was identified as a suspect, authorities said they had linked the 2005 Fairfax attack to the disappearance of Harrington, who went missing after attending a concert at U.Va. and getting separated from her friends.

Harrington had planned to find her own way home that night. Her remains were found in early 2010.

Authorities have said that DNA under a fingernail of the Fairfax victim provided a link to Matthew.

According to a search warrant obtained by NBC29, Charlottesville police found a "wooden tip from a cigar butt" inside Matthew's wallet; the document states that the DNA from that tip provides matches to both the Harrington case and the 2005 Fairfax case.

Matthew has not been charged in Harrington's death.

Her mother, Gil Harrington, was in court Tuesday afternoon to show support for the Graham family. Before entering the courthouse, she said she hoped for justice.


Graham was a second-year student at U.Va. and had graduated from West Potomac High School in the Fairfax County section of Alexandria.

She intended to pursue a career in global public health and wanted to help others, her parents said. They have said their hearts were broken that she would never get to pursue her dream.

On Oct. 24, 2014, Albemarle County authorities announced that the remains found on an abandoned property a week earlier belonged to Graham.

That day, her parents, John and Sue Graham, released a statement that read in part, "Put simply, Hannah lit up our lives, the lives of our family and the lives of her friends and others who knew her. Although we have lost our precious Hannah, the light she radiated can never be extinguished. We will hold it in our hearts forever and it will help sustain us as we face a painful future without her."

U.Va. President Teresa Sullivan also released a statement that day, saying Graham "brought immense energy and delight to her learning at the university, [where] she was a source of friendship and joy for so many people."

Car Bursts Into Flames at Glastonbury Gas Station


Fire officials were called to the Citgo station on Hebron Avenue in Glastonbury after a car parked at a gas pump went up in flames Tuesday evening.

Glastonbury police said the car broke down near the gas station at 592 Hebron Avenue. The driver pushed it to the gas station, where the car caught fire.

Police said no one was hurt and the fire was quickly put out. The car has been towed from the scene.

Photo Credit: Char Durham

JetBlue to Offer Flights From NYC to Cuba


JetBlue has announced it will begin offering roundtrip flights to Cuba out of New York's Kennedy Airport each week.

The Queens-based airline becomes the first major carrier to announce a new flight to Cuba from New York since travel restrictions were recently eased. The flights will begin July 3. 

The flight to Havana will leave JFK at noon each Friday, with a scheduled landing time of 3:30 p.m. at Havana's Jose Marti International Airport. A return flight each Friday departs Havana at 4:30 p.m. and lands in New York at 8 p.m. 

While operated by JetBlue, the flight is being offered by Cuba Travel Services, and travelers should make arrangements directly with the carrier service provider at cubatravelservices.com. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his recent trade mission to Cuba was aimed to developing new economic opportunities, and "JetBlue's exciting announcement today is proof that our approach is delivering results for New York businesses." 

Thet JetBlue charter flight to Cuba will be on an Airbus 150-seat A320.

Drug Policy Change for Mass. Town


Police in Gloucester, Massachusetts, are shifting their approach in how to battle the growing abuse of opioids and other substances in their community.

Beginning in June, addicts who surrender their drugs or drug paraphernalia and ask for help will not be charged, The Gloucester Police Department said.

"Instead we will walk them through the system toward detox and recovery," Gloucester Police Chief Leonard Campanello said in a Facebook post annoucing the new policy. "We will assign them an 'angel' who will be their guide through the process. Not in hours or days, but on the spot."

Addicts will be offered treatment in partnership with Lahey Hospital and Medical Center and Addison Gilbert Hospital.

“I’ve never arrested a tobacco addict, nor have I ever seen one turned down for help when they develop lung cancer, whether or not they have insurance,” Campanello said. “The reasons for the difference in care between a tobacco addict and an opiate addict is stigma and money. Petty reasons to lose a life.”

Nasal Narcan, an antidote for an opiate overdose, has also just been made available at local pharmacies without a prescription. Police have entered into an agreement with Conley's Drug Store and are working on one with CVS.

"We are poised to make revolutionary changes in the way we treat this disease," Campanello said.

Campanello will travel to Washington, D.C., on May 12 and 13 where he will meet with Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey and Congressman Seth Moulton.

"I will bring the idea of how far Gloucester is willing to go to fight this disease and will ask them to hold federal agencies, insurance companies and businesses accountable for building a support system that can eradicate opiate addiction and provide long term, sustainable support to reduce recidivism," says Campanello.

Last year, more than 1,000 people died from overdoses of heroin and other opioids in Massachusetts, according to state health officials.

Photo Credit: NECN

Hiker Recounts Nepal Quake


A San Diego hiker who survived the devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Nepal followed by an avalanche thought she was going to die in the disaster and was in disbelief when she came up for air.

“I thought, ‘This is where I die,’” said Kathleen “Kat” Heldman, recounting her harrowing experience for reporters in San Diego on Tuesday.

“Going through the earthquake and the avalanche was terrifying. It was horribly devastating to see what happened to people there and all the people who lost their loved ones,” she added.

The still-rising death toll from the quake has reached more than 7,500.

Heldman traveled to Nepal last month with her husband, Kevin Krough, and their friends Oscar Olea and Brigida Martinez, setting out on the hiking trek of a lifetime.

The quartet was in the small Nepalese area of Kyanjing Gompa when the quake hit changing the course of their trip – and their lives – forever.

The friends were in a tea room waiting to have lunch when the earthquake struck, Olea told NBC 7 Monday night.

What happened next is something Heldman said she will never, ever forget.

“The whole earth started shaking. The whole building was rumbling. There was this loud, deafening noise and I looked at our guide and his eyes were bugged out and white and he screamed, ‘Earthquake! Run!’” Heldman recalled.

Heldman said everyone began running out of the building as the earth shook uncontrollably beneath their feet. She realized Martinez was still inside the building and she ran back inside the crumbling structure to get her friend. After they came out safely, Heldman said they were in utter disbelief.

The group captured some of the earthquake and its aftermath on video.

“We were standing around stunned. We were all in shock,” she said. “I’m from California; we have earthquakes – but nothing like this. I’ve never experienced or seen anything like this. [It was] terrifying.”

Heldman and her friends, however, did not have much time to make sense of the quake that had moved the earth. Moments later, they had to run for their lives again as an avalanche struck.

“I looked over the mountain ridge and saw a giant cloud of white and gray. It was an avalanche,” Heldman explained. “It was really fast – ice, snow, rocks – that’s what was hurling down the mountain towards us. We started running for our lives, blindly, as fast as we could away from it.”

Seconds later, Heldman felt the ice and snow plowing against her body.

“I felt it hit me and I felt like I was doomed,” she said.

Heldman quickly dove behind a rock wall and tried to protect her head as the avalanche continued to barrel down on her. She said that’s the moment she thought she for sure wouldn’t make it out alive.

“I was praying to God to save us. After, when we came up for air, I couldn’t believe I was alive,” she said. “I’m super grateful.”

A few minutes after the avalanche, Heldman and her group dug themselves out of the snow.

The scene unfolding before their eyes was the stuff nightmares are made of.

“All you could hear was the whaling of people screaming and crying. There was blood all over the snow,” Heldman said. “It was surreal.”

The hiker said she’ll never forget the image of people carrying others to safety: her small-framed guide hoisting a full-grown, unconscious man on his back as he walked up a hill; a man carrying a baby who was somehow still alive.

“The rest of the day was in a daze. All we did was try to find missing people,” said Heldman.

She and her group spent the next few days stranded in the area, trying to help the injured and find food and shelter. She said Martinez is a nurse and used her skills to tend to earthquake victims.

When her group was finally able to fly home days later, Heldman said she couldn’t help but feel a huge sense of guilt.

“Leaving Nepal, I feel guilty. I feel really fortunate to be alive, but I also feel really sad to leave the people there in the state that they’re in,” she lamented. “To be back in the U.S. – it feels totally surreal. The contrast between what we have here and what they have there – it’s incredible.”

Heldman said she and her husband and friends had left a tiny village that was completely destroyed by the earthquake just hours before the quake hit.

“Our lives were saved by three-and-a-half hours,” she added.

Heldman feels so fortunate to be alive, she’s now dedicated to helping other survivors in Nepal.

She has started a GoFundMe page to raise money for residents of rural Nepalese villages who lost everything in the disaster. She said the money will help survivors rebuild.

As she counts her blessings, Heldman is also planning a trip back to Nepal next year on the same date as the earthquake.

“It would be a memorial trip," she said. "Maybe we will try to climb that mountain we were trying to climb."

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego

Still No Sign of Missing Teen Kayaker Nearly 48 Hours Later


As daylight fades, officials have again called off the search for a Norwich teen who disappeared into the water while kayaking on the Shetucket River nearly 48 hours ago.

Karl Joseph, 17, a junior at Norwich Free Academy, has been missing since Sunday night, when a witness saw him fall from his overturned kayak about 30 feet from shore and called police. Bystanders tried to rescue Joseph but couldn't find him.

Loved ones are trying to stay optimistic as time wears on.

"I desperately hope he's all right," said Joseph's close friend John Ahrens. "I don't even know how to explain it. I just feel empty."

Norwich Free Academy released a statement Tuesday morning saying "the entire NFA community holds him, his friends and family in their thoughts and prayers" and that support services are available to students and staff members.

"A lot of people have been crying, leaving their classrooms, just really emotional," explained sophomore student Grace Delucia. "Several people haven't come to school because they're so upset."

Joseph's empty kayak turned up 100 yards north of the Greenville Dam, but there's still no sign of the missing teen.

"I've just not wanted to believe it for such a long time now," said Ahrens. "Been getting a lack of sleep and stuff."

Ahrens described his friend as one of the nicest people he knows. He said the incident is uncharacteristic because Joseph is typically very careful.

Police said Joseph weighs about 200 pounds and stands 5 feet 11 inches tall. He has black hair and brown eyes.

State police are assisting Norwich officers with the search, along with the Norwich Fire Department, Norwich Public Utilities and dive teams from Norwich, Yantic and Taftville.

Anyone with information on Joseph's whereabouts is asked to call Norwich police at 860-886-5561.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com/Family Photo

Former Middletown Officer Gets Prison Time on Child Porn Charges


A former Middletown police officer has been sentenced to seven years in prison on child pornography charges.

Samuel DiProto, 63, of Cromwell, was arrested in May 2013 after investigators found between 20 and 40 files depicting child pornography on his computers and hard drives, according to court documents.

Federal prosecutors in Massachusetts said he downloaded the explicit photos and videos from a public file sharing network between 2009 and 2013.

He pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography in September 2014 and was sentenced Tuesday to 84 months in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release, the U.S. attorney's office said in a news release.

Weeks after his initial arrest, DiProto was charged with risk of injury to a minor and cruelty to a minor after police said he had inappropriate contact with a child.

Online court records show DiProto has pleaded not guilty to risk of injury. No plea has been entered with regards to the second charge. His next court date is set for May 21.

Probe Into Stamford School Sex Case Was Flawed: Board


The Stamford Board of Education said the school district has mishandled the investigation into a student-teacher relationship and the high school administrators who failed to report it.

Investigators say it all began with former Stamford High School English teacher Danielle Watkins, who is now serving a five-year prison sentence for having sex with one of her teenage students and supplying him and another student with marijuana.

The school principal and vice principal were placed on leave for allegedly having knowledge of the relationship but failing to report it to authorities.

Parents and community members attending Tuesday night's board meeting hoped to find out if and when those administrators would lose their jobs, but the process has been stalled.

A review of how the district handled the case cites failures at every level, from administration to the central office to the district's own attorneys – Shipman & Goodwin – a firm specifically named in the 136 report released last week.

Now those attorneys are stepping away from the case citing potential ethical issues. That move slows the entire process down and causes frustration among members of the board and in the community.

"Decisions have to be made so we have to be confident that this will not go on forever," said Stamford Board of Education Vice President Lorraine Olson. "We are now $200,000 into legal fees and we are no more ahead than we were then."

The board is now tasked with finding new legal representation before any administrator linked to the Watkins case can be terminated.

"Our budget can’t handle it. Our taxpayers can’t handle it," said Olson. "Above all our students – we forgot about them – our students can’t handle it."

The board plans to meet next Tuesday evening at 7:30 in hopes of finding new legal representation before the employment of these two administrators in question can be dealt with.

The board president said it could be months of meetings and hearings before the situation is fully resolved.

"The citizens don’t deserve this, said a Stamford resident who asked only to be identified as Chris. "The students don’t deserve this and it’s really just another roadblock."

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Stalked Teen, Hit Young Man With Car Outside School: Cops


A 27-year-old man is facing charges after police say he stalked a 14-year-old outside a high school in Naugatuck and got into a fight with a group of teens who confronted him, threatening them with a baseball bat and hitting one of them with his car.

Police said it started when Brendan Burns, 27, of Seymour, followed a 14-year-old girl and wouldn't leave her alone after school on Tuesday afternoon.

She said Burns drove up to her while she was walking with a friend and asked if they needed a ride, police said.

Just a little while later, when the teen was walking alone, Burns again approached her.

He asked if she needed a ride, if she had boyfriend, if he could have her phone number and if she smoked, then turned his car around because he wanted to give her his phone number, police said.

That's when the teen ran and alerted a group of people she knew playing basketball at Salem School that Burns was following her.

The group then approached Burns and got into an argument with him in the parking lot of Hill Side School in Naugatuck, just above the Salem School, police said.

Police said Burns threatened the group with a baseball bat, then got into his car and struck an 18-year-old as he sped away. The victim suffered minor injuries.

After he drove off, Burns rear-ended another car at Meadow Street and Rubber Avenue and fled that scene too, according to police.

Authorities tracked Burns to his home on Fawn Hollow Drive and took him into custody after a short chase through the woods near his home, according to police.

Burns was charged with threatening, second-degree reckless endangerment, third-degree stalking, loitering on school grounds and two counts of breach of peace, in addition to motor vehicle charges in connection with the crash.

He was released on a $25,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in Waterbury Superior Court on May 13.

Photo Credit: Naugatuck Police Department

Car Windows Shot Out With BB Pellets in New Britain


New Britain police are looking for the vandals who they believe shot BB pellets through more than a dozen car windows late Monday night into early Tuesday morning.

Residents of Susan Road, Lewis Road, Alexander Road and Country Club Road said their cars are among the vehicles targeted. Police said Tuesday night they suspect the perpetrators vandalized at least 20 cars.

Susan Road resident Jose Rivera said he and his wife both fell victim to the attacks.

"My wife says, 'Yours got hit too.' So, I looked at it and then the neighbor up the street came down and he said he got hit too," Rivera explained. "Right now we’re trying to get it fixed. That’s time consuming and everything else. But as minute as it might seem to that person that did it, we’re going to end up spending a lot of time dealing with it."

It's not the only case of vandalism in recent days. Over the weekend, someone used chunks of pavement or rocks to smash car windows on Russwin Road.

"I woke up in the middle of the night. The dogs were barking. We just heard hollering on the street. I didn’t think anything of it. I just went right back to bed," said Russwin Road resident Darryline Irizarry.

When Juan Lopez discovered at 3 a.m. Tuesday that his truck had been hit too, he had to just cover the glass and head out.

"I can’t miss a day of work and I don’t have another car," said Lopez. "I just scratch my fingers a little trying to clean it up a little but I’m fine. I just, I don’t know why someone did something like that. I hope they catch them because that’s ridiculous."

At this point, police are not sure if the cases are connected. They have not identified any suspects or filed any charges.

Anyone with information is asked to call police.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Main Street in South Windsor Closed Up to a Week


Part of Main Street in South Windsor could be closed for a week or more while crews work to repair a sewer main problem that police are calling a "significant event."

Officials believe a cracked culvert 25 feet under ground is responsible for crumbling curbs and a massive sinkhole on Main Street and have spent the past week looking into the issue.

South Windsor police said a sewer main ruptured beneath the asphalt on the 1700 block of Main Street. The road is shut down between Oxbow Lane and Sullivan Avenue for the second time in a week and could remain closed for days.

Police said public works crews set up a sewer bypass to isolate the problem and begin fixing the damage. Crews will need to dig a hole that's at least 25 feet deep, 32 feet wide and about 80 feet long, according to the public works department.

"It looks like the problem could be right under our sanitary sewer so we had no choice but to actually remove that section of pipe," said South Windsor Public Works Director Michael Gantick. "It did begin to settle a little bit. It's still intact."

Gantick added that the sewer pipe may have shifted slightly due to last week's sinkhole.

"We realized there's some additional settling occurring in the road," Gantick explained. "At this time, what we've determined to do is actually go down to find the culvert in question, some 25 feet down."

Town officials hoped to stabilize the pipe and make repairs before the metal gave way, but Gantick said the problem turned out to be much worse than they initially thought.

"The existing culvert, for all we know, could be 70, 80 years old, and from what we've seen today, with some TV work, it's some old pipe construction," he said. "Hopefully we can make a temporary patch and basically get the road back in shape."

Gantick said he has personally explained the situation to residents of the area and is thanking them for their patience. The problem could take several days to fix.

"We have gotten good info from the dpw which we’re very happy about they’ve been very responsive," South Windsor resident Jessica Glass said.

Gantick said some school buses will need to be rerouted around the area.

"We may have to do future replacement of the culvert," Gantick said. "We may not be able to fully take care of the situation here, but we won't know until we get down there and take a look at it."

Officials had tried to patch the culvert for a quick fix, but that didn't work.

"We’re going to have to bypass the sanitary sewer because the sanitary sewer is some 10-12 feet above this culvert," Gantick said.

Police said residents should still be able to access their driveways.

It could be a week or more before Main Street reopens in the area.

The project could cost millions of dollars.

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Crews Battle Small Brush Fire in Torrington


Firefighters are battling a small brush fire in the area of 70 Quail Road in Torrington this morning that involves about an acre of land.

No injuries are reported.

The fire danger for Wednesday is listed as high, according to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

The cause of the Torrington fire is under investigation.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Route 7 Closes in Wilton After Mulch Truck Knocks Down Wires


Route 7 is closed in Wilton after a truck delivering mulch hit wires, bringing them down on the vehicle, police said.

The state road is closed between Powder Horn Hill and School Road. A tri-axle truck was making a mulch delivery to Pimpewaug Road when it hit and knocked down high tension wires on Route 7, police said.

No one was injured.

Wilton police are diverting traffic onto local roads in the area as crews work to secure the wires and clear the truck from the scene.

No further information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

Serial Stowaway Arrested at Chicago Airports Twice in Less Than 2 Weeks: Police


A woman known as a serial stowaway for her many attempts at sneaking onto airplanes was arrested at two Chicago airports in less than two weeks, officials said.

Chicago Police said Marilyn Hartman was arrested at O'Hare International Airport on April 24 for misdemeanor criminal trespassing on state land. She was arrested again on Sunday, a little more than a week later, at Midway Airport and was charged with criminal trespassing on state land and violation of bail bond, both misdemeanors.

Police said Hartman was arrested after she was found in a restricted area at O'Hare Airport without proper documentation.

Then, a week later, TSA reported she was "loitering near a checkpoint" at Midway Airport police said. Officers said Hartman did not have a boarding pass and "had no official business being there."

Hartman appeared in bond court Monday and her bail was set at $2,500. She is scheduled to appear in court again Thursday.

Hartman, 63, has previously made headlines for numerous attempts at sneaking onto planes.

In February, she was ordered into custody in Florida where she faced two felony fraud charges and a misdemeanor count of trespassing for sneaking onto a flight from Minnesota to Florida.

Hartman, who has claimed she has an unrecognized illness called "whistleblower trauma syndrome," has previously said she was forced by the FBI to flee her house, rendering her homeless. Authorities tried to get her help at a San Mateo County treatment center in the Bay Area, but she was reportedly uncooperative and left the program.

On Aug. 4, she was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport after police said she got through security at Mineta San Jose International Airport and boarded an LA-bound flight.

Hartman was arrested last year for breaching security at San Francisco International Airport for the fourth time. She was banned from SFO after somehow sneaking past security and boarding a Hawaii-bound plane in Feb. 15, 2014.

Less than two weeks after she was released from jail for violating her probation at LAX last year, Hartman was arrested at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix after being spotted loitering in the baggage claim area.

Photo Credit: Cook County Sheriff's Office

Man Fired Gunshots Into Children’s Bedroom: Cops


Manchester police have arrested a man who they said fired gunshots into the bedroom of two children on Monday afternoon.

Manchester Police responded to an apartment on Esquire Drive on Tuesday after a resident found a bullet hole in the bedroom her 12- and 8-year-old children share. Fortunately, the children were not home when the gunshots were fired, according to police.

Investigators were able to determine that the gunshot came from unit 12B and they began searching for the resident, Nicholas Ibsen, 35, who they said is a convicted felon.

They later found him driving on Lydall Street near Ambassador Drive, stopped him and found him with suspected marijuana, 10 wax paper folds of suspected heroin and two clear baggies of suspected PCP, police said.

Police said they also found a .380-caliber handgun that had been stolen from Bristol in 2011 and bullets in Ibsen’s bedroom and he admitted to accidently shooting the gun around 1:30 p.m. on Monday.

Ibsen was charged with criminal possession of a firearm, two counts of unlawful discharge of a firearm, first-degree reckless endangerment, third-degree criminal mischief, second-degree breach of peace, possession of marijuana, possession of heroin, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of drug paraphernalia within 1,500 feet of a school and possession of drugs within 1500 feet of a school.

He was held on a $250,000 bond and will be arraigned today.

Photo Credit: Manchester Police

Film Released About CT Man Who Played Big Bird


A documentary about the Woodstock, Connecticut puppeteer behind the characters of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on "Sesame Street" became available on iTunes and OnDemand on Cinco de Mayo and was released in New York theaters on Wednesday, Tribecca Film and production company Copper Pot Pictures announced.

Caroll Spinney, 81, has brought the characters of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch to life since the show launched 45 years ago. The documentary, "I Am Big Bird" tells his story and highlights his career and characters.

The Today Show aired an interview with Spinney on Wednesday, a day after the movie's digital release date, addressing his 46-year career and the story of how he almost went on the Challenger spaceshuttle that exploded.

"'I Am Big Bird' captures how the love radiating from Caroll has created a worldwide cultural icon and answers why he can't say goodbye to the characters he cherishes," Copper Pot Pictures said in a news release.

He "handpicked a successor," Matt Vogel, "who has waited, quite literally, in the wings, as his understudy for almost 20 years," but Spinney has held on with no intention of retiring," according to the news release.

"Yielding the Bird would mean saying goodbye to characters that are a true expression of his
soul, characters that he loves and cherishes like his own children," Copper Pot Pictures said.

The production company describes Spinney as a man who has "pure love" filling his life, from his relationship with his mother, who "handcrafted his first puppets" and "sacrificed her own body to protect Caroll from a savage beating from his father" to finding his true love, Debra after his first wife divorced him because she was "embarrassed" by his puppetry career.

He was also very close friends with his boss, Jim Henson. A YouTube video shows him singing Kermit the Frog's "Bein' Green" as Big Bird at Henson's memorial.

"The unconditional love that envelops Caroll’s life—and which is captured in the hours of home video culled for I AM BIG BIRD — is the true secret to Big Bird’s popularity," Copper Pot Pictures said.

Spinney was also originally supposed to be on the Challenger space shuttle in 1986, but NASA ultimately decided not to go forward with that plan, according to the production company.

"Instead of boarding the shuttle, he watched from the studio as the astronauts, including his
replacement, Christa McAuliffe, perished in the disaster," Copper Pot Pictures said.

Big Bird's popularity has faded as new writers explored other characters like Elmo, but Spinney's legacy as the yellow bird is historical in American pop culture, according to the production company.

"He’s dined with heads of state, won Emmys and been named a living legend by the Library of Congress," Copper Pot Pictures said.

The documentary explores Spinney's creative process and what inspired him. It shows Spinney today and videos from his personal library "to illustrate how he became the man that became the Bird," according to the production company. The film also includes footage of Jim Henson with Kermit the Frog and interviews with Jane Henson, Vogel, Frank Oz (Cookie Monster, Bert) and Jerry Nelson (The Count).

And, as the yellow feathers give way to grey hair, it is the man, not the Muppet, who will teach us the greatest lesson of all: how to love unconditionally," Copper Pot Pictures said.

Other nationwide will start showing the documentary May 15, according to Tribecca Film.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Police Investigate Vandalism to Newington Softball Field


Police are investigating damage done to a softball field in Newington.

Someone drove in circles in both the infield and outfield at Churchill Park on Main Street and the groundskeeper said the same thing happened two weeks ago as well.

The damage does not appear significant, but police are investigating.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Homes in Somers Evacuated After Propane Leak


Some homes on Bridle Path Drive in Somers have been evacuated because of a propane leak, according to state police.

The homes that have been evacuated are off Valley View Drive, police said.

The propane company is at the scene, assessing the leak and the road is closed.

An NBC Connecticut crew is on the way to the scene.

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

No One Injured in Old Saybrook Gas Leak


There were some evacuations in Old Saybrook after a major gas leak at Main and Elm streets according to the fire department, but the scene is now clear.

An excavator digging a hole for a construction company working on a new retail building accidentally ruptured an underground pipe, prompting the fire department to urge people to stay away from Main Street.

Service to the building has been turned off while crews work on repairs to the line.

The intersection of Elm and Main streets was closed for about 40 minutes but has since reopened.

The evacuations are over. No one was injured.

Firefighters and police responded.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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FAA Annnounces New Drone Initiatives


Federal regulators announced a new initative to research drone safety at the nation's largest drone convention in Atlanta Wednesday, as they work to implement new regulations on the burgeoning technology.

Federal Aviation Administration chief Michael Huerta said the agency is partnering with three leading U.S. research companies to figure out how to expand drone operations in the U.S.

He made his remarks at the Unmanned Systems 2015 conference in Atlanta, held by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.

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