Local News Stories

Easton resident sustains serious burns in house fire

An Easton residents sustained serious burns in a house fire yesterday.  Easton firefighters responded to a Hayes Street house shortly after 7:30am on a report of a fire with people still in the house.  Firefighters found a member of the family inside attempting to extinguish the flames on the second floor of the home. This person exited under his own power but sustained serious burn and smoke injuries and was transported to the Bridgeport Hospital Burn Center by Easton EMS.  All other members of the household exited the home without injury.  Newtown, Monroe, Redding and Weston fire companies provided mutual aid.  The fire is under investigation by the Easton Fire Marshal's Office and no cause has been determined at this time.

Putnam County Sheriff Deputy completes statewide training program

A Putnam County Sheriff Deputy has completed a statewide training program.  68 deputy sheriffs and civilian staff from New York, including Deputy William Verrastro, attended the two week training program.  All Sheriffs have civil law enforcement functions, including the service of process and enforcement of judgments and other court orders and mandates. The school provides participants with training in the latest advances in civil law enforcement and a forum to discuss best practices.

Southbury Police attempting to ID larceny suspect

The Southbury Police Department is attempting to identify an individual involved in a larceny from Old Navy, on Main Street North.  The incident happened on the afternoon of Saturday the 14th.  Southbury Police posted a photo from store surveillance on their Facebook page yesterday. Anyone with information about the man's identity is asked to contact Southbury Police.

Police step up presence at area schools

The Bridgewater/Roxbury Resident Trooper's Office posted officers at all Region 12 schools today following the shooting at a Texas elementary school yesterday.  The move was done out of an abundance of caution and reassurance.

The New Fairfield Resident Trooper's Office says they are unpleasantly reminded of violence in the Nation by the elementary school shooting in Texas. State and local Police Officers will remain vigilant at all New Fairfield schools.  Troopers say the administrators, faculty, staff, parents and students are often their eyes and ears and asked that anyone who sees or hears anything suspicious, to report it to police immediately.

New Milford Police added extra patrols at the schools today to reassure students, parents, staff, and the community.  Mayor Pete Bass says his .prayers go out to the victims of the tragic shooting and all those impacted by it.

The Brookfield Police Department is offering its condolences to those who have been affected by the shooting at Robb Elementary School.  Department officials say safety and the comfort of Brookfield students are a top priority so they increased their presence at all Brookfield Schools, both inside and out.  Officials say this action is not a result of any threats to the schools but simply a community engagement measure in response to what occurred in Texas.

Photronics: Fiscal Q2 Earnings Snapshot

BROOKFIELD, Conn. (AP) _ Photronics Inc. (PLAB) on Wednesday reported fiscal second-quarter net income of $29.8 million.

The Brookfield, Connecticut-based company said it had profit of 49 cents per share.

The results exceeded Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of three analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 35 cents per share.

The electronics imaging company posted revenue of $204.5 million in the period.

For the current quarter ending in August, Photronics said it expects revenue in the range of $205 million to $215 million.

After Texas shooting, Conn. senator begs for gun compromise

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A U.S. senator who came to Congress representing the Connecticut community where 26 elementary school students and educators were killed nearly a decade ago begged his colleagues Tuesday, as the latest school shooting unfolded, to pass legislation addressing the nation’s gun violence problem.

The mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, nearly 2,000 miles (3,200 km) away from Newtown, Connecticut, felt all too familiar to residents and officials who saw many similarities to the attack by a lone gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

A gutted Sen. Chris Murphy took to the Senate floor Tuesday and demanded that lawmakers accomplish what they failed to do after 20 children, mostly 6 or 7 years old, and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut died on Dec. 14, 2012. Congress has been unable to pass substantial gun violence legislation since the collapse of a bipartisan Senate effort in the aftermath of that massacre.

“What are we doing?” Murphy asked. The Democrat, who represented Newtown during his time as a U.S. congressman, urged his colleagues to find a compromise.

“I’m here on this floor to beg — to literally get down on my hands and knees — to beg my colleagues. Find a path forward here. Work with us to find a way to pass laws that make this less likely,” he said.

“I just don’t understand why people here think we’re powerless,” Murphy told reporters later. “We aren’t.”

He said he was working with colleagues — and reaching out in particular to Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas — to see if they could muster any bipartisan support for gun violence legislation.

Though the party of Democratic President Joe Biden has slim control of Congress, bills on gun violence have been stymied in the face of Republican opposition in the Senate.

Last year, the House passed two bills to expand background checks on firearms purchases. One would have closed a loophole for private and online sales; the other would have extended the background check review period. Both languished in the 50-50 Senate, where Democrats need at least 10 Republican votes to overcome objections from a filibuster.

Tuesday’s tragedy in Texas appeared similar to the Sandy Hook shooting, where a 20-year-old man shot his way into the locked school on Dec. 14, 2012, then killed 20 first graders and six adults with an AR-15-type rifle purchased legally by his mother. He killed himself as police arrived. Before going to the school, he fatally shot his mother at their Newtown home.

“My son never came home from Sandy Hook. My heart bleeds for Texas as I relive Dylan’s murder,” Sandy Hook parent Nicole Hockley wrote in an op-ed for USA Today.

In February, the families of nine Sandy Hook victims reached a $73 million settlement in a lawsuit against the maker of the rifle used in the shooting. The case against Remington, filed in 2015, was closely watched by gun control advocates, gun rights supporters and manufacturers because of its potential to provide a road map for victims of other shootings to sue firearm makers.

The families and a survivor argued the company should have never sold such a dangerous weapon to the public. They’ve said their focus is on preventing future mass shootings by forcing gun companies to be more responsible with their products and how they market them.

“I hope that more people stand up and demand action and demand change and stop just accepting the tweets of thoughts and prayers. That’s not going to save lives. It’s not going to bring people back,” said Erica Lafferty, daughter of Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, the slain principal of Sandy Hook.

“It’s really just a gun lobby talking point and something that people feel that they need to say in lieu of action,” she told The Associated Press.

Lafferty, program manager at Everytown for Gun Safety and an advocate for universal background checks, said she decided a couple years ago to step back from talking to the media following what became a succession of mass shootings.

On Tuesday, struck by the familiarity of the aerial news shots of an elementary school and the fact the victims included children as young as second grade and educators like her mother, Lafferty thought she’d try to digest what had happened in Texas privately as well.

It didn’t work.

“I think that lasted maybe five minutes before I hear my mom’s voice in my head: `Get off your butt, kid. This is definitely your time,’” Lafferty said.

Advocacy groups that formed after Sandy Hook also expressed dismay as news of the shooting spread.

“For the past decade, we have warned all Americans, including elected politicians across the nation, that if a mass shooting can happen in Sandy Hook then it can happen anywhere,” Po Murray, chair of the Newtown Action Alliance, said in a written statement.

Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, tweeted how the “senseless violence will stop only when Congress matches thoughts & prayers with action.”

Murphy acknowledged the problem of gun violence won’t be solved overnight. But, he said, it can be addressed.

“I understand my Republican colleagues will not agree to everything that I may support, but there is a common denominator that we can find,” Murphy said. “But by doing something, we at least stop sending this quiet message of endorsement to these killers whose brains are breaking, who see the highest levels of government doing nothing, shooting after shooting.”

Counseling teams available in Newtown for students following TX shooting

Newtown Schools Superintendent Lorrie Rodrigue said in an email to staff and families that counseling teams are prepared to offer assistance to students today in the wake of the elementary school shooting in Texas.  She noted that these resources would be available at Newtown High School where survivors of the shooting at Sandy Hook School now attend school.  This December will mark 10 years since the gunman killed 20 children and 6 educators.  Rodrigue says in Newtown, this news resonates with students, staff, and families in ways many communities might not understand — and hopefully never will.  Newtown Police will have an enhanced presence at district schools.

Bethel Police to step up presence at schools in wake of TX shooting

The Bethel Police Department says safety has always been their priority, and additional Officers will be present throughout the school complex for the near future in response to the shooting at a school in Texas. 

Superintendent Christine Carver says the school district will have Pupil Personnel Staff--school counselors, psychologists, and social workers--available should any student need to process this event with someone at school.  Carver noted that it's important to provide an opportunity for students to discuss matters openly with a trusted adult. She also shared several resources in a letter to parents that may have developmentally appropriate discussions with children around this topic.

National Association of School Psychologists, Talking to Children about Violence. 
Sesame Street, Talking to Young Children about Violence in the Community. 
Common Sense Media, How to Talk to Your Children About School Shootings. 

The District is also offering its assistance and support to Newtown.  Carver says she can not imagine the trauma that has resurfaced because of this horrific tragedy.  This December will mark 10 years since the shooting at Sandy Hook School. 

Bethel school officials plan to continue to review the District's All-Hazards School Security and Safety Plan and Carver notes that they regularly practice drills with staff and students so they understand what to do in serious situations such as this.

Brookfield meeting go remote amid COVID-19 outbreak

Meetings in Brookfield will be held remotely until June 3rd due to an outbreak of COVID-19 among Town Hall employees.  The decision was based on the advice of the town's health director.  First Selectman Tara Carr says 10 employees, one from outside Town Hall and two from the police department have tested positive recently.  Town Hall remains open for business, but residents are being encouraged to use online resources.  Masks are encouraged, but not being mandated.  Carr said she wears a mask and follows COVID protocols, under the guidance of the health director.  Brookfield latest daily case rate per 100,000 population in the last two weeks is 34.5.  Test positivity was 16.9 percent. Rapid at home tests are not counted in positivity rates.

Eversource to present Resiliency Program plans to Redding

Eversource officials are planning to make a presentation to Redding residents about their Eversource Resiliency Program for the town.  The presentation is at the Redding Community Center at 7:30pm.  To improve day-to-day service reliability for customers and system resiliency during storms, Eversource is using a data-driven approach to address the issue. Eversource will perform additional tree work beyond normal maintenance, in areas that have been hard hit in previous storm events.  The Resiliency Program will expand typical clearances around power lines and remove tall-growing tree species capable of falling onto overhead electric lines, including trees across the street and trees further into private property. Eversource will be visiting neighborhoods to determine the tree work required and will contact property owners to provide information about the extent of the tree work required. The utility's goal is to work closely with the town and help customers understand what work is being done and why.

New Fairfield man pleads not guilty to manslaughter charge

A New Fairfield man has pleaded not guilty to a charge stemming from a fatal stabbing earlier this month.  59-year old Patrick Griffin was charged with manslaughter and entered the plea at a pre-trial hearing on Monday. He remains held on bond for his next hearing, July 11th. Griffin allegedly stabbed a Sandy Hook man in the chest during an assault at his Hillview Drive East home.  65-year-old James Knapp was rushed to Danbury Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.  Knapp was the father of Newtown Legislative Councilman Ryan Knapp.

Connecticut to step up investigation of hate crime probes

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut officials hope timely, stepped-up reporting of hate crime investigations by local police to a new State Police investigative unit will help lead to the prevention and detection of such crimes before something violent happens.

A new law requires all local and tribal police departments, resident state troopers, and constables with law enforcement duties to notify the new Hate Crimes Investigative Unit of a broader list of crimes involving bigotry and bias within 14 days, using a new standardized system, beginning Jan. 1. They must continue to share information about their local investigations with the State Police unit.

“Pretty much every week, every month we get a new national report about the extent of the increase in hate crimes,” said Kent Rep. Maria Horn, co-chair of the General Assembly’s Public Safety Committee. “These crimes are among the most corrosive ones we have because they go after the bonds that ties together as communities and as a state. And so I think the need is is obvious.”

The new law, which was signed on March 10 by Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont and highlighted during a ceremonial signing Tuesday, comes days before the State Bond Commission is scheduled to release a second $5 million allocation for security grants for houses of worship and eligible nonprofit organizations at risk of being the target of a hate crime or violent act.

FBI statistics show there were 101 hate crimes reported in 2020 in Connecticut, the most recent year for available data. Sixty-one of those crimes targeted an individual’s race, ethnicity or ancestry; 17 involved a person’s religion; 15 involved someone’s sexual orientation; and eight involved a person’s disability for multiple biases, Lamont’s office said in a statement.

While the new law officially creates the Hate Crimes Investigative Unit within the Connecticut State Police, Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner James Rovella said he already formed the group in October.

The unit, which includes a sergeant and a couple of detectives, has already been working with other State Police units, local police and the FBI, investigating various complaints, including racist fliers recently distributed on several West Hartford streets by a white supremacist organization.

Car fire spreads to Newtown home

A fire spread from a car to a home in Newtown early this morning.  All five Newtown fire companies were dispatched to Main Street shortly before 5:30am.  All residents were out of the house when firefighters arrived. The incident originally started as a car fire but quickly spread to the home and an outbuilding. The blaze was contained to the room above the garage as well as the attic above that. All companies were placed back into service about two hours later.

Bridgewater, Roxbury Troopers warn of phone scams

The Bridgewater/Roxbury Resident Trooper's Office is getting reports of phone scams.  State Police are reminding people to never give out personal information, to always ask who's calling and then research legitimate phone numbers. Anyone with questions is urged to contact the Resident Trooper's Office.

Lake Zoar channel closed for Rochambeau Bridge work

The channel on Lake Zoar is again being closed through Friday as the Department of Transportation continues work on the Rochambeau Bridge.  Demolition operations will remove the concrete bridge deck during this time.  If operations are completed before Friday, the channel will reopen early.  Additional closure signage was installed prior to the closure, and the DEEP Boating Division was also notified. The second closure for the girder removal will be submitted under a separate cover when dates are confirmed.

Frontier installing fiber optic cable for broadband internet throughout Monroe

Frontier is in the process of installing fiber optic cable for broadband internet service throughout Monroe.  First Selectman Ken Kellogg and other town officials recently met with company representatives, who said about a half dozen crews may be in Monroe each day through July.  Frontier will be installing cable both overhead and underground.  Residents in neighborhoods with underground utilities will receive a door hanger from Frontier that explains the process, including restoration of lawns.  Other residents may receive a letter from Frontier advising that an aerial fiber distribution hub is being installed near their property.  These distribution boxes are attached to a nearby utility pole.  The letter will explain how to contact Frontier with any concerns. 

Former counselor to join Danbury Board of Education

The Danbury Democratic Town Committee has unanimously endorsed Juanita Harris to fill a vacancy on the Board of Education.  Joe DaSilva Jr resigned from the board earlier this month as he seeks his party's nomination for election as Danbury Probate Court Judge.  Harris was born and raised in Danbury and worked in the school system for 44 years as an educator and counselor.  She retired in June 2021. 

Kittens abandoned outside Housatonic Valley Regional High School

State Police Troopers responded to Housatonic Valley Regional High School last week after a report of a cardboard box containing 2 adult cats and 3 kittens. Falls Village Animal Control Officer Lindsay Burr took custody of the cats. During the investigation Burr identified an individual believed to be responsible for abandoning the cats and they have been charged with 5 counts of Cruelty to Animals.

Danbury man caught trespassing at Wilton school gave police fake name

A man caught trespassing at a Wilton school allegedly gave police a fake name and led officers on a chase. Wilton Police charged 26-year old Charlton Anthony White of Danbury with multiple offenses for the incident last Thursday.  According to court records, White was charged with breach of peace, interfering with officers, and several counts of trespassing.  He was held on $2,500 bond.  White's next court date is set for August 17th.  News 12 Connecticut reports that White entered the Gensis School in Wilton while class was in session and was asked by staff to leave.  Police reportedly found White outside the building, where he gave them a fake name and ran.  Officers chased him through a stretch of railroad and was caught. 

Longtime Newtown Police Department member terminated

A longtime Newtown Police Department member has been terminated by the town’s Police Commission based on disability.  51-year old Lt Aaron Bahamonde, who also served as the Department's spokesman and was one of the first to respond to Sandy Hook School on 12/14, had been on the force for 32 years. 

He said in a statement that it was unfortunate he was denied contractual sick time benefits for his disability, which occurred while out on medical leave. 

Union Attorney Eric Brown told Hearst Connecticut Media that the union had filed a grievance with the town “about whether or not he is eligible for disability insurance benefits” because Bahamonde is eligible for full retirement benefits. 

The closed door discussion came during the Police Commission's meeting last Wednesday.  After the 90-minute executive session, members returned to the public forum and voted unanimously to terminate the employee immediately.  A written decision is expected soon.