WFSB - Eyewitness News

Somers student posts picture portraying black face on social mediaSOMERS, CT (WFSB) – A picture posted on social media of a Somers student portraying black face is under investigation. The superintendent, Brian Czapla, released a statement on Monday saying the picture was posted over the weekend by a high school student. “We do not condone any type of racism, bigotry, or hateful actions towards individuals or groups. This is not the type of behavior or beliefs we expect from our students,” Czapla said in the statement. The girl had on black face in the post along with the ""n" word. "You knew what you were doing, you're not five, your 17-years-old. You knew what you were doing when you put that on your face. You knew what you were doing when you took a picture of it, and you definitely knew what you were doing when you posted it for everyone to see," said Ashanti Brown. Ashanti Brown is a junior at Somers High School. As an African American, she's greatly offended by the post that was made Friday, along with a video posted by the same student that showed her and other students wearing black face. "When I saw it, I was like, 'here we go again,'" Brown said. Two years ago, Somers High School was rocked by another racial scandal after a white student referred to Brown's friend, 2017 Somers graduate, Zamani Simpson, as an "n word" in a text. Simpson said these kinds of incidents are leaving lasting scars. "When I was around people I was angry, but behind closed doors I would cry, I would be upset, but there't not much I can do about it," Simpson said. Simpson said the student who used that slur two years ago only received a three-day suspension, which further inflamed racial tensions at the school. "They'll never understand what it feels like to be a minority in a school with not a bunch of people, but a specific group of people that hate you for absolutely no reason other than the color of your skin. That's hurtful," said Brown. Brown hopes this incident will served as a wake-up call, especially because she has a little brother who also attends the school. "It would break my heart if they had to go through half of the stuff that I went through. My brother's a freshman. He shouldn't worry about being called the n-word or be scared to go to school just because he's black," Brown said. The name of the student has not been released. Stay tuned to Ch. 3 for updates on this story.
Teen injured in Wethersfield officer-involved shooting died, police saidWETHERSFIELD, CT (WFSB) - The teen injured in a Wethersfield police officer-involved shooting on Saturday evening has died on Monday evening, according to state police. A call for answers continues to get louder after a Wethersfield teenager was killed in a police-involved shooting over the weekend. Family, friends and activists said they'll be at the Wethersfield Police Department on Monday afternoon to send a strong message to police. State police are looking into what happened. They're asking anyone with information to give them a call. The late teen was identified as 18-year-old Anthony Jose Vega Cruz. According to family members, Cruz is fought for his life at Hartford Hospital following the shooting. Troopers said two Wethersfield police officers were trying to stop a car driven by Cruz on Saturday night. According to state police, Cruz was driving down the Silas Deane Highway when he collided with a cruiser. A Channel 3 viewer sent in video of what they said was part of Saturday night's incident. In it, local police officers appear to carefully approach the car when it was stopped. Troopers said that's when Cruz started to drive at one of the officers. That officer fired his gun and injured the teen. Officers are then seen carefully approaching the car with their guns drawn, and tell a woman to get out of the car. Cruz was taken to Hartford Hospital where he remained in critical condition as of Monday morning. "He's on life support," said Davon Colon. Cruz's family said he was shot twice in the head. Colon, Cruz's nephew, said his mother told him what happened. "First thing in my head was I didn't believe it. She said he was shot in the head. I thought he was at the wrong place, at the wrong time and when she told me it was a police shooting it just switched. Chulo is the most kind, awesome, amazing person," Colon said. A female passenger, identified as 18-year-old Stephanie Santiago, was not hurt. Investigators said Cruz crashed into the cruiser when he drove toward and officer, that's when police started shooting. Wethersfield police said the officers suspected the car was stolen, but state police are looking to confirm that information. His family said the car he was driving was his, but it wasn't registered. They also said he moved to Wetherfeild to get a safer life. "I said, 'Chulo, do you like Wethersfield?' He's like, 'so happy I got out of Hartford, this is a new chance for me.' But, I guess not," Colon said. In the wake of the incident, family, friends and activists said <a href="" target="_blank">they are demanding justice and hoping for a miracle</a>. “We want justice," said Myrna Alicea, a friend of the teens. "We want it to stop.” On Monday during the rally, protesters demanded the chief of police in Wethersfield. Moments later, Chief James Cetran emerged from the police department and was peppered with questions. Any meaningful dialogue got lost in the chaos, but the chief did recognize the heartbreak from the shooting. "This is a tragedy, all the way around. I feel sorry for the family," Cetran said. Channel 3 learned there is no body camera footage from the shooting, but there is dashcam video and that could be released in the coming days. It's protocol for the State's Attorney's Office to handle these types of investigations. The names of the officers involved in the shooting have not yet been released, and their status with the department is still unknown. Stay with Channel 3 for continuing coverage.
Local 90-year-old crosses skydiving off bucket listCHESHIRE, CT (WFSB) - She may be 90 years old, but one local grandmother is still soaring to new heights, literally and figuratively. “Welcome to Miami Skydiving Center.” On Monday, a Cheshire grandmother was looking for a fun adventure at 90-years-old, so she decided to take a leap of faith. “I’m ready,” said Lorraine Johnson. While visiting her family in Miami, Lorraine Johnson decided to go skydiving for the very first time. After her big jump from 10,000 feet, Channel 3 caught up with Johnson on facetime. “It seemed like you’re just floating along, absolutely gorgeous, so exciting,” Johnson said. She says skydiving is something she always wanted to cross off her bucket list. “I said, ‘hey you know I’d like to do that. I might as well do it while I still can,’ so I did,” Johnson said. And that she did, definitely proving age is just a number. Johnson’s advice is if you’re thinking about skydiving, go for it, you won’t regret it.
Clergy, community awaits release of body cam footage of officer-involved shootingNEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) -- Members of New Haven’s clergy spent Monday morning meeting with the state’s attorney’s office, looking for answers surrounding last week’s officer-involved shooting. The shooting <a href="" target="_blank">happened early last Tuesday morning</a> in the area of Argyle Street and Dixwell Avenue. A Hamden and a Yale police officer <a href="" target="_blank">were both involved in the shooting</a> that happened. Hamden police crossed into New Haven, looking for a car allegedly involved in an attempted armed robbery. Since the shooting happened, members of the community have been <a href="" target="_blank">holding rallies and protests</a>, and even shutting down the streets. Video sent to Channel 3 by a viewer shows Hamden Officer Devon Eaton <a href="" target="_blank">firing his gun at a car</a> matching the description. Eyewitness News has obtained a <a href="" target="_blank">new version of surveillance video from Believe In Me Empowerment Corporation</a>, showing a better perspective of when the driver got out of the car. Police said before shots were fired, the driver, Paul Witherspoon, of the car got out of the car in an aggressive manner. Another video, shows Yale police Officer Terrance Pollack also firing. Both are now on administrative leave. Clergy members said the meeting on Monday was a productive one. “We thought that the meeting was a very good and informative meeting and he’s assured us and this community that we can look for justice to prevail,” said First Calvary Baptist Church Rev. Boise Kimber. They said they’re looking forward to the police body camera footage, that is expected to be released sometime this week. "We’re hoping to recover the audio and video recordings that have been retrieved by law enforcement," said Attorney Michael Dolan, who is representing Witherspoon. On Monday, a judge signed off on a search warrant of the red Honda involved, which will allow detectives to look for any potential evidence. A woman named Stephanie Washington was a passenger and was injured in the shooting, suffering non-life threatening injuries. Kimber and other New Haven pastors said they believe justice will be served. “We believe that this office here is going to be honest and true with this community,” Kimber said. Rodney Williams, Witherspoon's uncle, reacted to the shooting as well. “I wouldn’t be putting nobody on administrative nothing, I would be, give me your guns, you put us in a bad spot, you don’t need to be doing this, I would let them go,” Williams said. Kimber said they’re satisfied with the conversation, and while he couldn’t get into specifics, he did say surveillance video is being sent to the state lab to get a clearer picture. “The family should know, that we’re out here, working on their behalf and trying to keep people honest about what took place and that we’re being a voice for this community and being a voice of justice and reason,” Kimber said. Dolan said they're conducting their own investigation, adding a lawsuit against the Hamden and Yale police departments is likely. “Based on the evidence that we’ve reviewed, I would expect that if not a lawsuit, I’d imagine we’d be bringing a claim against those entities," Dolan said.
Man arrested in West Hartford shootingWEST HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - Police in West Hartford responded to a shooting on Monday afternoon. According to police, it happened at Prospect Avenue and West Beacon Street. Police said the initial call came over as one man armed with a gun and another man armed with an ax. The incident began as an argument between the two men outside. Police found a victim, the man who had was determined to be a hatchet, suffering from a gunshot wound to the arm. He was brought to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Police determined the suspect was 35-year-old Daniel Davis of West Hartford. He was taken into custody and charged with first-degree assault, criminal possession of a pistol, breach of peace and several other charges. "As we started responding to the area we got a call back saying there was an actual gunshot and that somebody was hit, so officers got to the area very quickly, we were able to find the injured party who is now at the hospital," said West Hartford Police Capt. Mike Perruccio. Davis is currently being held on a $500,000 bond. The incident is still under investigation.
Bear euthanized after entering home in SimsburySIMSBURY, CT (WFSB) -- A bear was euthanized over the weekend after it entered a home in Simsbury Saturday morning. A man came home Saturday to find the bear inside his house on Pine Glen Road. Thankfully nobody was inside at the time, and the homeowner called 911 right away. Investigators said the bear smashed through a screen door. State EnCon police euthanized the bear, which had entered multiple homes last year. They were able to identify the bear by its ear tag. A <a href="" target="_blank">meeting was held last year</a> regarding the increase in bear activity in the area. Environmental police often deal with bears in Simsbury. Last year, the Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection took reports of 8,622 bear sightings around the state. The top three towns for sightings are all in the Farmington valley area. Folks living in Simsbury reported 611 sightings, Farmington had 513, and Avon had 434.
Rain overnight comes to an end before dawnHARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - Steadier rain moved into the state on Monday afternoon, and periods of rain will last throughout the night. Chief Meteorologist Bruce DePrest said periods of rain will last Monday evening and overnight, bringing a few downpours. There could be a rumble of thunder in some communities too. Track it with Early Warning Pinpoint Doppler <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>. The heaviest and steadiest rain will be in eastern Connecticut, closer to the storm’s center, which is located east of Nantucket and Cape Cod. Temperatures will fall back through the 50s Monday evening. The rain will come to an end around dawn. A few showers could linger very early in the morning, but most of Tuesday should be partly sunny. Temperatures could warm into the mid-70s inland and into the upper 60s along the shoreline. Scattered showers may dampen the early part of Wednesday, but the sun is expected to return later in the day. Temps could reach the upper 60s. Thursday looks like it will be a nice day, with temperatures between 70-75. Read the complete technical discussion <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>. For weather updates on smartphones and tablets, head <a href="" target="_blank">here</a> or text "WFSB" to 23765 to download the Channel 3 app.
Teens accused in Stratford theater arson charged in Silver Sands fireMILFORD, CT (WFSB) -- Two teenagers accused in the Shakespeare theater fire are now facing charges in connection to a fire at Silver Sands State Park in Milford. On Monday, police charged Chris Sakowicz and Vincent Keller, both 18 and of Stratford, with criminal trespass, criminal mischief, and larceny. Police said they are connected to the vandalism and fires that happened on March 24 at Silver Sands State Park, where <a href="" target="_blank">two metal storage containers caught fire</a>. An earlier fire that destroyed three buildings under construction at the park on March 19 remains under investigation. Police said at this time there is no information concerning a connection between the two incidents. Both Sakowicz and Keller are facing charges, accused of <a href="" target="_blank">setting fire to the Shakespeare Theatre fire</a> in Stratford. Another teen is facing charges in the Stratford fire as well.
Stop & Shop workers return to work following 11-day strike(WFSB) - Stop &amp; Shop workers were back on the job Monday across New England, including in Connecticut. Workers of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union went on strike for 11 days to protest what they called unfair wages and benefits. Channel 3 was the first to alert viewers about the strike. <a href="" target="_blank">An agreement was announced</a> Sunday evening. Workers Channel 3 spoke with said they haven't seen the details. All they have is an overview of what's being offered. However, they said they'll ratify the new contract. They said it may be a few days before that happens. “We had to put our foot down and everybody wanted us to, you know, some people are saying ‘oh just go get another job, go back to work!’ I’m like ‘we’re standing for our rights here’,” said Stop &amp; Shop grocery receiver Rose Flanders. Andrew Royce said he works at the Stop &amp; Shop in Manchester. He's relieved to go back to work. "I’m really excited and tired working 8 to 8 everyday on the picket line," Royce said. The union agreed. It released a statement Sunday that read "today is a powerful victory for the 31,000 hardworking men and women of Stop &amp; Shop who courageously stood up to fight for what all New Englanders want." The tentative 3-year deal is subject to confirmation through ratification votes by members of each of the local unions. On Monday, Gov. Ned Lamont took to Twitter saying "Proud of the women &amp; men who fought for what they deserve. Now they can get back to doing what they love - serving their customers and communities. This is a win for everyone." Workers said they're looking forward to serving customers and getting things back in order. "Cleaning. I’m sure it’s cleaning because there was no seafood, no meat, no deli," Royce said. "There was no service at all during the strike." They said they get to keep the benefits they already have. According to the union, the agreement includes preserved healthcare, retirement benefits, wage increases and keeps the time-and-a-half pay on Sundays for current members. Customers who refused to cross the picket line said they're glad they can return to their community stores. "It’s good, so I can start shopping again," said Shannon Desmarais of Glastonbury. "I’ve been having to go to other places and it’s been kind of crazy." Stop &amp; Shop said it will be open its normal hours on Monday. It had been operating on an 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. schedule due to the strike. It also released a statement directed to its customers. "You may have heard about, or been affected by the strike that occurred in our Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island stores," said Mark McGowan, president, Stop &amp; Shop. "We’ve reached a tentative agreement with the unions, and the strike is over. This strike was hard for all of us. But we got to a resolution that does right by our associates and our business, so we can all keep serving our customers and communities."
Congressman hopes to ease federal restrictions on medical marijuanaUNCASVILLE, CT (WFSB) -- Tens of thousands of people are getting relief through medical marijuana in Connecticut. In the state, users must have a doctor’s prescription and be registered to visit one of the medical marijuana dispensaries. CT Congressman Joe Courtney took a tour of a dispensary on Monday, and said he’s hoping to ease federal restrictions. “There’s a bill in Washington called the Safe Act, which would basically take marijuana off schedule, one for the purposes of financial services, period,” Courtney said. The Thames Valley Relief Medical Marijuana dispensary in Uncasville has 5,200 clients, and many said they’re grateful for the natural relief that the prescription brings. There are 300-400 customers or registered clients who visit that dispensary per day. It’s one of nine dispensaries running statewide with nine more hoping to open. They provide various forms of medical marijuana relief to the 34,000 people already registered statewide. “A lot of pain conditions are people with MS, post laminectomy syndrome, people who have had back surgeries, basically,” said Laurie Zendan, dispensary manager. Congressman Courtney said he hopes to make dispensaries like this legal for the banking industry to be able to handle money from what is an illegal industry in the eyes of the federal government. A bill now before Congress would “eliminate the regulatory controls and administrative, civil and criminal penalties under the controlled substances act for producing, processing, distributing, dispensing, administering, testing, recommending or delivering medical marijuana in compliance with state law.” The proposed bill would also “Establishes a new separate registration process to facilitate medical marijuana research and authorizes health care providers employed by the department of veterans affairs to make recommendations to veterans regarding participation in state marijuana programs.” “In my opinion I think it would be better for people to be able to have the marijuana to sooth their pain,” said Crystal Wright, of Norwich. Courtney also spoke with clients and others about making medical marijuana legal nationwide, helping the 7 million veterans and more. “This makes me feel like I can be a productive member of society,” said Shane Divita, of Old Lyme.