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Golfer Points Gun at Group in Course Etiquette Dispute


A man is facing threatening and breach of peace charges, after police say he pulled out a gun at Stanley Golf Course in New Britain over a golf etiquette dispute.

Alejandro Baeza, 22, of Wethersfield, was arrested after course management said he grew agitated when the group of golfers behind him complained about the pace his group was playing their game. They said he went to his golf cart, grabbed a gun and flashed it at the complaining group.

His permit and his firearm were taken as a result. Players said golf etiquette is an ongoing issue, but that confrontations should not be tolerated.

“It's a sport where you respect each other. You typically wouldn't get into an argument on the course,” Andrew Row, of New Britain, said. “You would take your frustration out elsewhere.”

The Parks and Recreation director in New Britain said officials are waiting for the police investigation to play out, but that it is not likely Baeza will be allowed to play at Stanley Golf Course again.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Rt. 4 Reopens After Torrington Crash


Route 4 in Torrington has reopened after a car hit a pole, closing the road for a couple hours near Migeon Avenue earlier Wednesday morning.

The crash happened at 721 Migeon Ave. and Eversource, formerly known as Connecticut Light & Power, responded.

Police said the driver involved in the crash was not hurt and no ambulance was called to respond.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Ex-House Speaker Jim Wright Dies


Former House Speaker Jim Wright, who served more than three decades in the U.S. House of Representatives, has died at the age of 92, NBC News has learned.

Wright died Wednesday morning after a lengthy illness, NBC News reports.

Wright was first elected in 1954 and left Washington in 1989 amid an ethics investigation, a move he later said may have been a "gross misjudgment."

The former speaker is best known for the Wright Amendment, the law he sponsored that restricted air travel out of Dallas Love Field from 1979 to 2014. The law was designed to protect and encourage growth at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, which opened in 1973.

After leaving Washington, Wright taught political science for three years at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.

In retirement, Wright remained in Fort Worth until his death Wednesday morning.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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Police Step Up Amid Complaints of Cars Passing School Buses


New Haven police are adding patrols outside one of the city’s middle schools to keep children safe after receiving complaints of drivers passing school buses as they are stopped to drop off or pick up students.

The school at the center of the issue is Sheriden-Mauro Middle School and police are increasing enforcement on Fountain Street to target people who are putting students at risk.

Police said Ward 27 Alder Richard Furlow alerted police of the problem.

“We must take a proactive role to ensure the safety of children and pedestrians with a particular focus on heavy traffic areas like Fountain Street,” Furlow said, according to police.

West Sector Police Captain Jeff Hoffman said people who don’t stop for school buses when the
warning lights are on will be ticketed and the fine is $465.

Drivers are not allowed to pass stopped buses when the lights are flashing unless directed to do so by a police officer.

Some cities and towns in the state have invested bus-mounted cameras that help police nab drivers who pass them. http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/Cameras-Help-Police-Nab-Drivers-Who-Pass-School-Buses-279846042.html

Learn more about the legislation here. http://cga.ct.gov/2011/pub/chap248.htm#Sec14-279.htm

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Ex-Mayor Imprisoned for Corruption Enters Race


A former Bridgeport mayor who spent at least seven years in federal prison after being convicted of 16 counts of corruption, announced Wednesday that he will be running for mayor again.

Joseph Ganim has filed papers to enter into the race against incumbent mayor Bill Finch.

"My campaign will be about building a Bridgeport that works for every citizen and every neighborhood," Ganim said in a statement. “This election is about how we give every Bridgeport resident a chance for a better life. I believe Bridgeport deserves a Mayor focused on creating jobs, lowering taxes, improving schools, revitalizing neighborhoods, and creating a Bridgeport that works for everyone."

Ganim will formally launch his campaign on May 14, according to a news release.

“Now some may want this election to be about the past --- but I know the people of Bridgeport want this election to be about them — their future — and about electing the candidate with the vision and ideas to build a stronger and better Bridgeport,” Ganim said, "After listening to residents throughout the city, I am humbled by the overwhelming favorable reaction. I will work tirelessly to make our streets safer and cleaner and find ways to reduce the tax burden on homeowners. I will drive the dramatic reform necessary for government to work better for every neighborhood.”

Ganim served as Bridgeport's mayor from 1991 until 2003, when he was convicted of 16 counts of corruption, causing him to lose his license to practice law in Connecticut that year. He was convicted of steering city contracts in exchange for money. Ganim is apologizing to voters about what he calls "serious errors of judgment" during his time in office.

“I love the people of Bridgeport. We have been through a lot together — both highs and lows," Ganim said. "I have learned some very tough lessons. But because of these experiences, I will be a better person and will be a better Mayor."

He is also focusing on his self-proclaimed accomplishments as mayor. His campaign credits him with getting Bridgeport out of bankruptcy, balancing city finances and taxes, bringing in economic development like Harbor Yard, reducing crime, spearheading projects to rebuild schools and having a part in the creation of new parks.

"Bridgeport has such great potential," Ganim said. "Let’s create a stronger, more inclusive Bridgeport. Let’s find solutions to tough problems together. This is why I now ask our residents for their vote for Mayor this summer.”

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

4 Charged in Connection With K2 ODs


Willimantic police have arrested four people in connection with tainted K2, or synthetic marijuana, believed to have caused psychotic behavior and sent 12 people to the hospital. 

Police said they responded to 12 cases on Monday of Willimantic residents ingesting the drug, which they believe was laced with another substance, and received a tip that identified Thomas Gasper Jr., 39, as a suspect, according to a news release from police.

The tip was that the drugs were sold from the residence at 28 Arnolds Lane in Willimantic, so police set up surveillance and saw Gasper hand over drugs to someone on a porch, police said.

Authorities also stopped a vehicle in connection to the case, arrested the three people inside and seized K2, police said.

When police searched 28 Arnolds Lane, they found several brands of K2, money, scales, packaging material and a large drain pan with K2 residue that police said was used as a mixing bowl. 

Some of the K2 was packaged to sell, while some was still in the original brand packaging, police said. 

In all, it is believed to be worth $500.  

Gasper Jr. has been previously convicted for a narcotics offense and his bond was set at $250,000.

He is due in court today to face charges, including possession of narcotics, possession of narcotics with intent to sell, possession of drug paraphernalia in a drug factory and operation of a drug factory.

Police said they also arrested Vanessa Torruella, 22, of Willimantic, Jessica Klein, 31, of Willimantic, and Justin Blantz, of Willimantic. They are due in court on May 14.

The patients who took the K2, all adults, showed symptoms including body temperatures as high as 106 degrees and blood pressure as high as 240, police said, and needed to be hospitalized.

Many of the people who used the synthetic drug have exhibited psychotic behaviors, like running around scantily clad on city streets in Willimantic, police said.

"We have seen psychotic behavior by these personnel. We've seen people running around loosely dressed, or without shirts, running down main thoroughfares within the city. They're looking for assistance," Cpl. Stan Parizo, of the Willimantic Police Department, said.

Police are having the synthetic marijuana tested to see if it is laced and they are warning of the dangers of drug use, particularly because it's not clear what it is being mixed with the drug.

Police urge residents to call 911 if you see anyone behaving unusually or in need of medical attention.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Drug Suspect Drags Officer, Leads Police on Chase: Cops


An East Hartford officer was dragged several feet while trying to arrest a drug suspect who led police on a chase from Route 2 to Interstate 384 on Wednesday afternoon, according to police.

Police said it started around 1 p.m. when they got a tip about drug use in the area of 441 Main Street in East Hartford. Officers arrived to find a woman who flagged them down and pointed them to a truck believed to be involved in illegal drug activity.

Officers approached the truck to find a male driver and female passenger. They asked the two to show their hands and only the woman did, according to police, who said they suspected she may have been in the truck against her will.

Police tried to get the man out of the truck, but he hit the gas and drove forward, dragging an officer several feet, according to police. The officer was not hurt.

Officers followed the truck onto Route 2, Interstate 84 and finally onto I-384 in Manchester. Police said officers watched the suspects throw heroin out of the truck in the area of the Trinity Boat Launch, which investigators later recovered.

NBC Connecticut cameras were rolling as the pursuit ended on I-384 in Manchester. Police said they recovered more drugs from the truck after it stopped.

Both the man, identified as 48-year-old Canterbury resident Daniel Carpenter, and woman, 28-year-old Amy Lapointe of Pomfret, were taken into custody.

Carpenter was charged with possession of heroin, possession of drug paraphernalia, interfering with an officer, intent to assault an officer, reckless endangerment, driving under the influence and several motor vehicle violations, according to police.

Lapointe was charged with possession of heroin and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Reward Offered for Information on Hartford Arsons


The Hartford Fire Department is offering a $2,500 reward in exchange for information about arson incidents in the city.

Emergency officials have responded to two instances of arson over the past couple weeks: one at a vacant building on Cleveland Avenue and the other at an apartment complex on Sigourney Street. The latter sent three people to the hospital, including a blind man, mother and her infant.

Investigators said at the time they don't believe the two cases are connected. The arsons have raised concerns among residents, though, and officials are actively working to catch the people reponsible and prevent another case of arson.

The fire department is offering a reward of up to $2,500 through the Connecticut Fair Plan for information leading to the arrest or conviction of an arsonist or the prevention of a future arson.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Connecticut Arson Hot Line at 800-84ARSON.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Widow of Danbury Man Killed in Metro-North Crash to Sue


The widow of a Danbury man killed when a Metro-North train slammed into an SUV on the tracks in Valhalla, New York, is planning to sue the railroad, town and county for $25 million.

Aditya Tomar, 41, was one of six people killed in the fiery crash Feb. 3. According to the claim filed on behalf of his wife and estate, Tomar suffered burns, fractures to his skull, ribs and extremities and lacerations to his brain, heart and lungs. The notice of intent alleges he suffered mental and physical pain prior to this death.

The notice, filed April 29, claims negligence on the part of the railroad, town and county.

The claim alleges that Metro-North failed to:

  • Install proper lighting and safe crossing gates
  • Properly inspect and install the third rail, which was ripped up during the crash
  • Follow state recommendations to redesign the crossing following a similar crash in 1984
  • Prioritize safety over timeliness
  • Install adequate brakes
  • Make sure the train engineer was well rested, alert and properly certified

Westchester County and the town of Mount Pleasant are accused of failing to:

  • Diligently monitor the safety of people traveling through the area
  • Make sure the proper safety systems were in place
  • Reconstruct the railroad crossing and change traffic patterns
  • Make sure Metro-North followed all stipulations of the Railroad Safety Act of 2008 and corrected problems that contributed to previous derailments

"This was an unprecedented accident in terms of the third rail being ripped up from the ground and being basically ingested by the train," says attorney Paul Edwards.

Tomar’s widow, Reshma Persaud, plans to sue for damages pertaining to her husband’s injuries, medical and funeral expenses and loss of income and support.

The attorney representing Persaud said the lawsuit will likely come toward the end of the summer or after the National Transportation Safety Board releases its next round of findings.

It’s the second claim filed in connection with the crash. The family of the Ellen Brody, the driver whose SUV became trapped on the railroad crossing,also intends to the railroad.

Photo Credit: Family Photo
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East Haven Florist Back in Business After Fire


An East Haven florist is back in business after fire ripped through the shop and damaged the interior right before one of the busiest weeks of the year.

"It basically destroyed all my product, completely. I do still have my cooler, which I'm very grateful for," said Lisa Piasecki, who owns Flowers by Lisa on Hemmingway Avenue in East Haven.

Thankfully, that cooler is once again stocked with flowers, and Piasecki is back in business after moving into her landlord's warehouse next door. She's setting up shop there during the month it will take her to renovate her place.

"We have our computer system getting up and running now, so hopefully we'll be able to get some incoming orders from our wire services, and we have our phone running, so our local customers, which we are very grateful for, I'm sure are going to support us," said Piasecki.

Piasecki is also getting creative with how she'll provide flowers for the busy Mother's Day weekend.

"We have a tent being set up on Friday through Sunday, so I'm going to continue running my business that way, and I'm looking forward to a productive holiday," she said.

Piasecki said she won't let this fire get her down.

"I love my business and I love what I do, and I think that gave me the motivation to just keep going," she said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Furniture Store to be Newest Long Wharf Attraction


It looks like a construction site now, but come fall 2015, the former New Haven Register building will be home to Jordan's Furniture, and the store has big plans for the space.

"Connecticut doesn't know what's coming," said Jordan's Furniture President and CEO Eliot Tatelman.

Company officials said the showrooms will be filled with quality furniture, but the store actually considers itself to be an "entertainment shopping mecca," so it will also include an entertainment center that it says will be second to none.

"Every kid within 150 miles of here is going to want to have their birthday party here," said Tatelman.

The store will be the only Jordan's Furniture in Connecticut and expects to bring in customers not only from Connecticut but also from New York. It also plans to employ about 200 people and is looking for employees from the New Haven area.

"We are going to do everything in our power to give the jobs locally as best we can," said Tatelman.

The city of New Haven hopes Jordan's will be an anchor on Long Wharf and an introduction to the city for those who travel for the Jordan's experience.

"Our job now is to take these hundreds, millions of people and make sure they experience the rest of New Haven," said New Haven Economic Development Director Matthew Nemerson.

Fire Breaks Out on Ragged Mountain in Southington


Firefighters are responding to a fire on Ragged Mountain in Southington, according to the police department.

It's not clear how much land is burning or what sparked the fire.

No additional information was immediately available.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

WATCH: Soldiers Cheer on Captain in Grueling Army Run


A video of an Army captain finishing the final 50 feet of a brutal 12-mile run at a New Jersey base as her fellow soldiers cheer her on has gone viral. 

Capt. Sarah Cudd, from the Public Health Command, weighed down by a 35-pound backpack and rifle, nearly collapsed but became one of the few to earn the Army’s Expert Field Medical Badge when she completed the run April 27 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, urged on by her peers.

The video shows Cudd struggling to get to the finish line and falling twice before finally getting up as other soldiers erupted in applause. She crosses the finish line just before the clock hits 2 hours and 47 minutes of the three-hour-long march.

"My legs just turned to gelatin and my back said, 'Nope, I'm not going to stand up straight anymore,'" Cudd told NBC 4 New York Wednesday.

She said one sergeant in particular helped her get back to her feet. 

"As soon as I got up to my knees he told me, 'Now, take a breath, you have time. Take your time, get to the finish line,'" Cudd said. 

She crossed that finish line, though she said she needed an IV to re-hydrate after the grueling run, which is only part of the regimen for servicemembers seeking to earn the Expert Field Medical Badge.  An academy trainer who saw the video said the run looked like a hazing ritual.

Cudd, who is into endurance sports, says she doesn't think she pushed herself too far.

"I never lost consciousness; I was just very weak. I don't think I quite reached the limit, but I was very close," Cudd said, adding that she would wait a few days before resuming her training. 

The video of Cudd's heroic effort has been viewed more than 1.2 million times on Facebook, where a fellow soldier says Cudd was one of only 46 who earned their EFMD.

“This EFMB candidate wanted it, and she got it. It took heart, guts, determination, falling down and getting up, and a little motivation from the crowd to get across the finish line,” says Lloyd A. Mason on the Facebook post.

The Washington Post reports less than 25 percent of those who attempt the course typically pass and Cudd’s command confirmed she earned her badge.

Photo Credit: Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst
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Lawmakers Push Standards to Keep Sleeping Babies Safe


Members on both sides of the aisle said Wednesday that Connecticut hospital need to implement uniform guidelines to make sure infants sleep safely when they go home with their parents for the first time.

The Connecticut Senate voted 34-0 Wednesday, with two senators absent, to pass the Safe Sleep bill. The legislation now goes to the the House for further consideration.

"We all know that when a baby is born, they don’t come with an instruction manual, and as much as we may wish there was one, especially for the first child, there isn’t," said State Sen. Bob Duff, a Democrat from Norwalk.

Medical professionals say providing new parents with information as to how their babies should sleep is crucial.

Elizabeth Carey, a nurse manager at Hartford Hospital, says parents have to be careful.

"One of the most important things is that the baby be always placed on its back sleeping," Carey said.

While Hartford Hospital and many others have provided the information to families for years, lawmakers say it makes sense to approve a law that requires all state hospitals to disseminate the same information.

"The issue is that we want it to be that standards are uniform, that parents and guardians are getting the same information at the hospital as they leave with their newborns," said Sen. Martin Looney, a Democrat from New Haven who serves as president pro tempore of the Connecticut Senate.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Dry Cleaning Bills Could Go Up in New State Budget


Spending and revenue proposals from Democrats in the General Assembly call for new sales tax hikes and changes to exemptions for some industries, including Connecticut's dry cleaners.

"I think they were looking for other revenue sources to make up for other mistakes that have been made with the budget being so not healthy right now for the state of Connecticut," said Gail Reiner, whose family has owned Mayflower Laundry and Dry Cleaning since the 1920s.

Under the proposal, the exemption on sales taxes at the dry cleaner would be lifted, raising revenues in order to fill a more-than-$1 billion budget hole for the next fiscal year and for FY2017 as well.

Customers would be charged a new tax at the dry cleaner, which Reiner says is unfair considering other sales taxes were applied when an item was bought.

"It really penalizes the public when you buy that garment you already pay a tax on it then," Reiner said at her Hartford store. "Now the state wants you to pay tax every time you clean that garment that you already paid when you purchased it? That’s redundant taxation.”

Gov. Dannel Malloy and Republicans in the General Assembly have criticized the new budget ideas put forth by Democrats. Last week, Malloy said the tax hikes worth $1.8 billion "went too far."

Republicans proposed cutting spending in their own budget plan by negotiating concessions on overtime from unions that represent state employees as a way to balance the budget.

State Sen. Martin Looney, the top member of the Connecticut Senate, countered today by saying his property tax reform would provide additional relief that would offset hikes elsewhere.

"The tax that people find the most burdensome in Connecticut is the property tax and for the first time this year we’re really finding a way to address that and the motor vehicle tax is historically the most objectionable and most burdensome part of the property tax and we’re addressing that as well," said Looney, a Democrat from New Haven.

Ridgefield High Coach, Dean Charged With DUI: School


A coach, physical education teacher and dean of students at Ridgefield High School was arrested over the weekend and charged with driving under the influence, according to a statement from the superintendent of schools in Ridgefield.

Kevin Callahan was arrested in Fairfield on Sunday and charged with driving under the influence, operating a motor vehicle with a handheld device, failure to drive right and failure to carry an insurance card, according to Supt. Deborah Low.

“The charges are concerning because Mr. Callahan is an educator and role model for Ridgefield High School students,” Low said in a statement. “Mr. Callahan has worked in Ridgefield for 16-years and currently is Senior Teacher of the Physical Education Department, Dean of Students and Coach. Mr. Callahan is recognized as a valued member of the RHS faculty.”

The school department learned of the arrested from news reports, according to the statement Low provided NBC Connecticut.

She said the alleged events did not occur on school property, at a school event, in the presence of students or in conjunction with Callahan’s professional responsibilities.

Ridgefield Public School district is not involved in the police investigation or court proceedings and Callahan has been placed on administrative leave from the high school “without prejudice,” pending an administrative review, according to the superintendent.

Whether the school district takes additional action will depend on administrative review, discussions with Callahan and court proceedings.

Body Wrapped in 9 Bags: ME Report


The body of a 28-year-old paraplegic woman found dead in her mother's San Diego-area apartment was wrapped in at least nine trash bags in a suitcase and weighed only 40 pounds, laying in a fetal position, according to an autopsy report obtained Wednesday by NBC7.

The remains of Brooke MacBeth, 28, were found on March 3 in Lakeside. San Diego County Sheriff’s deputies arrived at Bonnie MacBeth's apartment to serve an eviction notice, according to a report from the Medical Examiner’s office obtained by NBC 7.

Editor's Note: The details that follow from the newly obtained report may be disturbing to some readers.

When deputies knocked on the door of the apartment on the 11600 block of Woodside Avenue, according to the report, Brooke’s mother Bonnie answered and told deputies she had something to show them. When they entered, they immediately noticed a foul odor.

“My daughter is dead in the bedroom,” she told deputies.

When deputies walked into the bedroom but could not find the daughter, they asked where she was.

“In a suitcase,” she told them, according to the report. Her mother reportedly told officials she had found her daughter dead in the bedroom.

Under a pile of clothes and blankets, deputies found a black duffle bag with black duct tape around it. A deputy used his duty knife to cut into the duffle bag and found a second bag under it, which he also cut open. Under that second duffle bag sat a pink and brown suitcase with silver duct tape around the zipper.

In that suitcase, they found a black trash bag. Under seven or eight layers of the trash bag, they found a purple towel or blanket. It was then officials contacted the medical examiner. In the blanket, the medical examiner found evidence of bones, including ribs.

Brooke’s mother was taken to the hospital and placed on psychiatric hold, the report said. She reportedly told officials she tried to hang herself the evening before they arrived and had tried to commit suicide previously. She also told deputies she had been on a “vodka binge” for three days, the report said, because she knew someone would be coming to evict her.

Her mother told them her daughter had died six months ago, 18 months ago and two years ago when questioned and told them she “felt guilty” since she passed. She was reportedly seen alive by her sister one year ago, who said she had been losing weight. Medical examiners said they later weighed her body and found it weighed 40 pounds.

The autopsy report obtained by NBC 7 reported no evidence of trauma or obvious natural disease. 

Brooke may have died of natural causes, the autopsy report said, but found the cause and manner of her death undetermined. The medical examiner could also not arrive at an exact date of death, but determined based off the Sheriff’s investigation that Brooke was likely dead for several months before she was found.

When officials called her younger sister, they learned she had last seen her before Christmas in 2014, when she appeared to have lost some weight, according to the report, and her sister believed it was from having difficulty eating. Her sister said she had been diagnosed with temporomandibular joint dysfunction.

Macbeth, whose intellectual and physical disabilities prevented her from forming words, engaged the world through a variety of expressions, her former teachers said back in March. 

Photo Credit: Steven Luke

2 Killed by Cop Car in NJ


Two people were hit and killed by a police car early Wednesday as they were walking along the New Jersey Turnpike after their SUV broke down, according to the New Jersey State Police. 

Jason Champion of Brooklyn and Nuwanah Laroche of Queens were both hit by a Washington Township Police car while they were walking in the left lanes of the turnpike's eastern spur near a service plaza in Ridgefield at about 1 a.m., the state police say. Both were pronounced dead about three hours later.

Police say that Champion, 41, and Laroche, 34, were on the soutbound side of the highway in a 2001 Cadillac Escalade when they vehicle broke down. They crossed five lanes of the road to the northbound side and began walking in the left lane. They had walked to mile marker 115 when they were hit by the police car, which was driven by 46-year-old Arsenio Pecora. 

State police say that Pecora was returning from a training exercise at Fort Dix when he hit the two pedestrians. He sustained minor injuries and hasn't been charged with any crimes.

Chopper 4 was over the scene as his squad car was towed away; the front bumper appeared heavily damaged and the windshield was smashed.

Laroche was a secretary for AIG. A relative at her Queens home asked for privacy for the grieving family. 

Police chaplain Father Thomas Norton, who was visiting the officer's home Wednesday, said Pecora was traumatized. 

"He's very dedicated not only to his work but he's PBA president, and he's a very popular and very talented young man, highly regarded by the other officers. So it's sad," said Norton. 

The crash shut down all northbound lanes, causing major delays throughout the early morning hours. All lanes reopened later.

-- Tracie Strahan and Pat Battle contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBCNewYork

Cops Probe Brutal Chair Attack


Police are investigating after video was posted online showing a man bash two others over their heads with a wooden chair at a Manhattan barbecue restaurant Tuesday.

Video posted to YouTube and Instagram on Wednesday shows a large scuffle inside the Dallas BBQ on Eighth Avenue in Chelsea. The person who put the video on YouTube told NBC 4 New York he was horrified watching the attack. 

"I don't think anybody can watch the video and not be outraged by how horrible this was," said Isaam Sharef of Newark. 

The video shows one man flinging at least one other person to the ground and kicking them repeatedly. Several people can be heard yelling “Stop! Stop!” as the attack progresses.

"He was in a rage. It didn't even seem like he was present," Sharef said of the attacker. 

Sharef said the fight started before he began recording the attack. He said a couple and the attacker had been "screaming and yelling at each other, cursing each other out."

Things seemed to calm down, and the restaurant staff and other diners appeared to have the heated argument under control. The two men can be seen heading over toward a front window as the attacker approaches them with a wooden chair. He then flings the chair over his head, and a loud crack and screams can be heard as he smashes it on the victims' skulls.

After the hit, one of the men lands in a seat and appears to be dazed by the impact; the other man appears to fall to the floor. The assailant, meanwhile, can be seen walking out of the restaurant.

The attack was so brutal that bystanders were afraid to confront the assailant. 

"He had just stomped on someone's head and hitsomeone on the head with a hard chair," said Sharef. "The last thing anyone wanted to do was get involved." 

John Snipes, one of the men hit with the chair, told DNAinfo he was attacked after two men hurled anti-gay slurs at him and his boyfriend after they spilled a drink. Snipes' tooth was knocked loose and the cartilage in his ear was torn during what he called a bias attack, according to the website.

"These guys attacked us specifically because they knew we weren't their type of people," Snipes told DNAinfo.

Snipes told DNAInfo he confronted the men after he heard the slurs, and that the man later seen hitting him with the chair stood up and knocked him to the ground. He said the man started kicking him in the face and back, then hit him with the chair as he tried to get away.

On his Facebook page Wednesday, Snipes thanked friends for their support and said in part, "We are in better spirits and believe that our assailants will be found and brought to justice." 

The victims did not seek medical attention. Police sources said they monitored themselves for a concussion and are now cooperating with police to help find the attacker. 

The sources said the NYPD is gathering information on the case and investigating it as a possible hate crime. 

Corey Johnson, the Democratic councilmember who represents Chelsea, among several other Manhattan neighborhoods, called the attack intolerable.

"The fact that this attack took place in the neighborhood of Chelsea, a place known around the world for its acceptance of all people, is particularly outrageous," Johnson, who announced he was gay when he was the captain of his high school football team more than a decade ago.

Photo Credit: @isaamsharef / Instagram

Fire Displaces 2 Hartford Families


About a dozen people in two families were forced from their homes Wednesday evening when flames broke out at their three-story house on Adelaide Street in Hartford, according to fire officials at the scene.

The deputy fire chief said crews were called to the burning building at 31 Adelaide Street around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and arrived to find heavy flames on the third floor.

Everyone made it out safely, but a family of eight people living on the first floor and a family of five on the third floor will need to sleep elsewhere tonight. Residents said the second floor is vacant and that the tenant moved out just yesterday.

The flames are now under control and crews are working to put out hot spots. Officials said fire damage was confined mostly to the third floor, but water damage is likely to affect the entire structure.

It's not clear what sparked the blaze. A fire marshal is investigating to determine the cause.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

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