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Willimantic Resident Holds Would-Be Car Thief at Gunpoint: Cops


A Willimantic resident helped catch a would-be car thief by holding him at gunpoint until officers arrived, and police said it's not the culprit's first run-in with the law.

According to police, the resident noticed a strange man around his car in the area of 300 Walnut Street on Monday afternoon. He confronted the stranger, later identified as Tye Wiegel, 39, of Willimantic, but the man showed no signs of stopping.

"He was in his yard. The car was out in front of his house. Obviously, it's not the subject's vehicle. He told him to stop. The gentleman didn't," said Willimantic police spokesman Cpl. Stanley Parizo Jr. "He was now within the vehicle. That's when he went and got the pistol and detained the subject, who was still in the vehicle."

Police said the resident legally owned his handgun. Officers took over and arrested Wiegel on charges of sixth-degree larceny, criminal attempt to commit the crime and second-degree breach of peace.

According to Parizo, Wiegel is no stranger to the police department.

"This is not our first time dealing with him with car break-ins. He was just arrested not too long ago. He was also a suspect in a car break-in earlier today," Parizo explained.

Police said the homeowner was not hurt but cautioned other residents against confronting criminals.

"I understand people have the right to carry a firearm. We're all for it," Parizo said. "We just want residents to be careful when they're using that discretion to start chasing people down that are breaking into cars."

Wiegel is being held on a $5,000 bond and is due in court Tuesday.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Route 9 North Reopens in Middletown


Route 9 northbound has reopened in Middletown after a crash, according to state police.

The highway was shut down briefly between exits 12 and 15. No injuries were reported following the two-car crash, but police said the vehicles came to rest in the left lane and will need to be towed.

The crash caused traffic delays in the area.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Crews Respond to Fire in Enfield Neighborhood


Crews are responding to a house fire on Roosevelt Boulevard in Enfield, according to the fire department.

No further information was immediately available.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: Viewer Photo

Motorcycle Crashes on Route 15 Near I-91 in Meriden


State police are responding to Route 15 northbound in Meriden where traffic merges onto Interstates 91 and 691 after a motorcycle crashed Monday afternoon.

According to NBC Connecticut crews at the scene, the motorcyclist is lying in the road and appears to be wearing a helmet. Other drivers pulled over and got out of their cars to help before emergency responders arrived.

Police said the crash happened at exit 68W. Route 15 northbound was briefly closed between exits 68N and 68W while authorities respond, according to the Department of Transportation.

The motorcycle has been moved over to the shoulder and all lanes of traffic are moving, according to state police.

There has been no word on injuries.

No additional information was immediately available.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Bears Release Ray McDonald


The Chicago Bears rolled the dice on signing defensive end Ray McDonald after a history of domestic abuse accusations and arrests, and on Monday their gamble didn't pay off as the team released McDonald following a domestic violence arrest

"We believe in second chances, but when we signed Ray we were very clear what our expectations were if he was to remain a Bear," Bears G.M. Ryan Pace said in a statement. "He was not able to meet the standard and the decision was made to release him."

McDonald, who played for the San Francisco 49'ers under Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, was released by the team last season after he was arrested for assault in California. 

That arrest (the charges were eventually dropped because of insufficent evidence) was one of several brushes with the law that McDonald has had over the past few years. He also was accused of sexual assault last year, and he was also arrested for DUI and charged with failing to appear in court on the charges. 

When the Bears signed McDonald, team chairman George McCaskey said that McDonald's case was one of "bad judgment" and that he believed that the lineman was a changed man. 

Memorial Day in Connecticut


People across Connecticut paid tribute on Monday to the loved ones who served our country who lost their lives at numerous Memorial Day parades and services. 

Avon, Danbury, East Hartford, East Lyme, Fairfield, Farmington, Hamden, Madison, Mansfield, Middletown, North Stonington, Norwalk, Old Saybrook, Shelton, Suffield, West Hartford, West Haven and Westport were just some of the towns who had parades on Monday and several others like Wethersfield and Newington had theirs over the weekend.

Bridgeport also had three Memorial Day services Monday including one on Pleasure Beach.

As bands made their way down Main Street in Middletown, our nation's color's led the way, as thousands lined the street.

“To honor the veterans, I think it’s very important for all of us to pay respect to all of the people who are serving in the military," Dan Musinski, of Middletown, said.

It's a sight that Marylou Racik and her husband look forward to every year.

"Actually my grandparents used to own the theater across the street so I actually like to be across from there, it’s not there anymore but you know, so we’ve done this for years," Racik said.

She said seeing children march in the parade brings a smile to her face and that they're learning the importance of the parades and what the symbols stand for.

“It really does because it’s encouraging and it’s nice to see and they’re excited about it and they get the feeling for what it means, so it’s very nice, very nice," she said.

Ashley Walsh, whose husband served in the Navy  said she makes it a point for her two children, Abigail and Mason to know that members of the military gave their lives for families like theirs.

“You want your kids to know that it’s not just a nice day off to kick off summer, there’s a lot more behind it.  Exactly. It’s about what all of the service people have done for our country and how important, and what they’ve sacrificed for all of us," Walsh said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Guilford Adds Soldiers' Names to Civil War Memorial


The names of eight fallen soldiers from Guilford have been added to the town's Civil War memorial.

Of the eight, only one was killed in action during what the monument calls the "War for the Union." The rest died from disease or mishaps. Two were just 14 years old.

"It's nice that they still recognize," said Blake Donovan, who just moved to town from Vermont. "Even as they find out more people they continue to recognize them.

Many of the soldiers whose names were added were substitutes, hired by Guilford citizens who didn't want to go to war.

Local historian Tracy Tomaselli's accounts of the soldiers' stories are posted around the monument, which was re-dedicated in the morning of Memorial Day.

Thousands Crowd Rocky Neck State Park on Memorial Day


It's still spring at Rocky Neck State Park in Niantic, so more people were on the sand on the afternoon of Memorial Day than in the water.

"It's pretty cold," said Sabrina Gomez, after taking her daughter Savannah into the calm salt water. "It"s not that bad once you get in. You kind of get used to it."

Even though the water temperature was below 60 degrees, the sun was warm enough for a lot of people.

"It's beautiful after this winter. I had enough of the shoveling and the plowing, so we're enjoying the day," said Gonzalo Morillo.

For him, it was hour after hour under the sun. Beach chairs and umbrellas were everywhere. So were people sprawled on towels.

There was a line for ice cream under a tent, and families picnicked in the sand.

"Well we've got real big hamburgers, waiting to cook it, and then we're going to eat it, then we're going to the beach," Mariser Cruz said.

VA Hospitals Improving But Not There Yet: Blumenthal


After marching in the Stratford Memorial Day Parade, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Veterans' Affairs hospitals still need to take major strides a years after the scandal that cost the agency's secretary his job.

“We are still falling way short of providing the care that our veterans need to keep pace with our veterans," said Blumenthal. "Particularly in mental health care, we lose 22 veterans a day to post-traumatic stress and the invisible wounds of war."

Early last year, the Arizona Republican reported on long wait lines for VA beneficiaries to see doctors and said online tracking records had been falsified to make it look as if the wait times had in fact decreased.

The scandal eventually cost then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki his job. Congress then acted on several reforms meant to improve services and outcomes for VA patients, such as cutting down wait times and even allowing some patients to see private doctors if they meet certain criteria.

Blumenthal said there have been efforts to take funds from Connecticut Hospitals in efforts to shore up resources in places where VA facilities have significantly lagged like Arizona, Alabama and Colorado.

"I will not allow that to happen," Blumenthal said. "I will fight any effort to short change our veterans in health care, particularly mental health care, to compensate for the shortcomings in other states."

Bob Johnson, a Vietnam veteran and current Veterans of Foreign Wars commander in Stratford who marched with Blumenthal, said he was in awe of the show of support at the Stratford parade those who lost their lives in combat.

"I was taken aback," he said.

Johnson has volunteered at the West Haven VA Hospital in recent years working with the blind unit as they use kayaks and rowing to help the disabled.

He said programs like that have improved outcomes and other veterans have told him the same in general about conditions at the VA.

"The care is getting better, yes it is. The people, the government who have made the changes, the care at the VA hospitals is much better it was a year ago," he said.

Two Bears Spotted in Greenwich Memorial Day Weekend


Greenwich police are advising residents of some safety tips after there were two bear sightings in town on Memorial Day weekend.

The first bear was spotted in a Birch Lane backyard late on May 24 and the second one was on the Burning Tree Country Club property early morning on Memorial Day. The people who reported the bear sightings saw them at a distance and the bears didn't make any contact with people or pets, police said.

Bear sightings are rare in Greenwich police said, but they are returning to the area due to "the regrowth of forestland throughout the region following the abandonment of farms during the late 1800s."

"Black bears travel and feed primarily at night, but can be active any time of the day," Greenwich police said in a news release. "Black bears are generally shy and secretive and usually fearful of humans. However, if they regularly find food near houses and areas of human activity, they can lose their fear of humans. Unlike grizzly bears, black bears are seldom aggressive toward humans."

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection gives the following safety tips about what to do if you see a bear:

  • View it from a distance.
  • Shout and wave your arms to make your presence known or walk away slowly.
  • Don't try to feed or lure bears near you.
  • Report bear sightings to DEEP's Wildlife Division at 860-675-8130.

You can find more information on DEEP's website.

Photo Credit: Greenwich Police Department

2 Graveside Flags Burned on Higganum Green


State police are investigating after two graveside flags on the Higganum Green in Haddam were set on fire.

A person called police after finding two desecrated flags near a monument on the town green at about 6:43 a.m. on Friday. Police said the flags were burned sometime overnight into Friday.

Police ask anyone with information to call the Haddam Resident Trooper's Office.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

1 Hurt in Rollover Crash in Wolcott Neighborhood


A driver was taken to the hospital Monday evening after his car rolled over on a cul-de-sac in Wolcott, according to the fire captain.

Fire officials said the car went off the road, flipped over onto its hood and struck a line of trees near the property at 13 Hunters Ridge.

The driver managed to crawl out the back window and was taken to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

No additional information was immediately available.

Couple Survived on Rainwater: PD


A couple that went missing after a Mother's Day trip may have tried to survive by drinking rainwater and eating pie while they were stranded in a remote desert area east of San Diego.

"It looks like they were surviving on rain water," said Chief Sossaman with the Los Coyotes Police. "There was cups around, they were drinking rain water as it rained...they'd been out there for all indications since around May 10."

On Sunday, multiple law enforcement agencies responded to a rescue call where one person was reported dead and another dehydrated. Later that evening, Sheriff's officials confirmed the dead body belonged to Cecil "Paul" Knutson, 79, and his girlfriend Dianna Bedwell, 67, who was airlifted to a nearby hospital. Bedwell remains in serious condition at Palomar Hospital. 

The Fullerton, California, residents were last seen leaving Valley View Casino in north San Diego on May 10 at around 2 p.m. in their white 2014 Hyundai Sonata. 

After leaving the casino, the couple headed to their son's house in La Quinta and tried to take a shortcut several miles from the main road, San Diego Sheriff Department Lt. Ken Nelson said at a news conference. The couple ended up stuck on boulders in rugged terrain, Nelson added.

Officials said they did not suspect foul play and they believe the couple went the wrong way and got lost. 

Cups placed around the car indicated the couple collected rain water to drink and survived a part of the time on oranges and pie, Nelson said.

Their Sonata was found by a man four wheeling in a remote and rocky area near Warner Springs along Highway 79, approximately 47 miles from the casino where they were last seen.

The couple had not been heard from in two weeks, despite the efforts of family members, a search-and-rescue crew and San Diego County Sheriff’s Department investigators. Dozens of volunteers and a sheriff's search-and-rescue crew scoured several areas between north San Diego and Riverside counties to no avail.

The man that found the couple said Bedwell was singing praises of her companion, telling him Knutson fought to get them out of there while working to keep her comfortable. He was the one that put cups for water around the car. 

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No TV For Pope Francis Since 1990


One of the most famous figures in the world hasn’t vegged out in front of the television in 25 years.

In a recent interview with Argentinian news source La Voz Del Pueblo, Pope Francis admitted he hasn’t tuned into TV since 1990.

Francis told the Spanish-language news source that he doesn't hold anything against TV, just “it's not for me” and that he gave it up in July of 1990.

The Pontiff hasn’t even seen his beloved San Lorenzo soccer team play, he told the paper. But Argetinian does keep up on the Buenos Aries-based team thanks to a Swiss Guard bodyguard who updates him on how the team Francis has loved his whole life is doing.

The Pope is headed to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families in September. No word yet if he will break his rule and watch TV while in town.

Photo Credit: AP

Route 8 South Reopens in Shelton Following Crash


Route 8 southbound has reopened in Shelton after a crash shut down the highway between exits 14 and 13 on Monday night.

State police said three cars collided about a mile past exit 14.

There has been no word on injuries.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Drowns Trying to Save Cat


A 46-year-old man died while canoeing in Loon Lake in the northern suburbs of Illinois Memorial Day weekend after he jumped in the water to try and save a cat.

Officials with the Lake County Sheriff's office were called to the scene a little after 7:30 p.m. in the 2300 block of Lake Shore Drive in Antioch. The man was in a canoe with another man and woman on Loon Lake when a cat, also in the canoe, jumped into the water, police said. 

The man tried to save the cat but went under the water, according to authorities. His body was recovered shortly after midnight Monday.

The identification of the man, who police say is from Ingleside, had not been released as of Monday morning.

Police said alcohol is believed to have been a factor in the incident. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is investigating the death. 

Photo Credit: Captured News/NBCChicago

Several People Hurt in Waterbury Crash


Half a dozen people were hurt in a crash on Prospect Road in Waterbury early Monday evening, according to the fire department.

Two cars collided, and fire officials said one overturned in the area of 581 Prospect Road. According to emergency dispatchers, six people appear to have been hurt.

Firefighters and medical personnel are at the scene.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Local Farmers, Vendors Brace for Bird Flu


Local farmers and vendors bracing themselves as the nation deals with its largest-ever outbreak of the bird flu.

Chickens at Flamig Farm in Simsbury so far are healthy, but that’s not the case for other farms in the U.S. So far, 40 million birds have been culled because of the virus, which has been confirmed on 16 farms in the U.S. and Canada.

But if a chicken is sick, officials at Flamig Farm said it would be easy to tell because of the "pecking order." Chickens tend to peck at the weakest bird in the flock.

While the New England area has not been affected by the recent outbreak, Nevin Christensen said they take precautions on Flamig Farm.

"We’re signed up with UConn. The USDA comes out, a couple individuals come out sporadically, every so often. I don’t think it’s a set schedule and they actually swab the chickens' throats and look for viruses, things and whatever," Christensen said.

That’s why his egg prices haven’t gone up. Neither have those at Harvest Country Store. But with the possibility of prices on the rise, manager Mark Kania, said he’ll be watching what happens next.

"Now that it’s the summertime, business is starting to pick up so any sort of trouble from the supply would be nowhere near a devastating blow, but a shot to the gut for our businesses," said Kania, whose store getts eggs from New London.

Farmers and vendors in Connecticut hope the virus doesn’t cross the state border.

"We’re with all of our animals everyday so we just have to keep an eye on them," said Christensen.

1 Killed in Crash Involving Cop Responding to Emergency Call


One person was killed in a crash involving a female police officer on the Berlin Turnpike in Newington on Monday morning, according to police.

The highway was closed for several hours while authorities responded to the scene.

Police said the officer was responding to an emergency call around 7 a.m. Monday with her flashing lights activated when the police cruiser T-boned a blue sedan in front of Bob's Discount Furniture at 3203 Berlin Turnpike. A witness told NBC Connecticut the blue sedan drove through a red light.

The driver of the sedan was pronounced dead at the scene and the officer was taken to a local hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries, according to police. Their identities have not been released.

Sources told NBC Connecticut the emergency call pertained to a domestic incident and was unrelated to the person in the sedan.

Newington resident Jennifer Lacoste was sleeping in her home more than a quarter-mile away when she heard the crash.

"You just heard the crash. Just a crunch," she said.

She, along with others, looked on as members of the Mid-State Accident Reconstruction Squad investigated.

"Such an unfortunate situation..someone losing their life early in the morning," said New Britain resident Luis Santana, of New Britain.

The crash remains under investigation. Witnesses are urged to call Newington police at 860-666-8445.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

4 Teen Girls Arrested, 1 Hurt in Fight at Beach


Four teenage girls were arrested and a fifth was taken to the hospital following a fight at Norwalk's Calf Pasture Beach on Memorial Day, according to police.

Police said they were called to the beach around 3:30 p.m. Monday when a fight broke out among a group of girls between the ages of 14 and 16. Officers arrested four of the teens and broke up a large crowd that had gathered around them.

A fifth teen, who had been punched in the face, was taken to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries, including swelling, according to police.

Authorities have not identified the people involved due to their ages.

Photo Credit: Flickr/WalkingGeek
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