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Looking Back At 2016: Fairfield County's Top Stories Of The Year

Actor and Stamford resident Gene Wilder, 83, passed away this year.
Actor and Stamford resident Gene Wilder, 83, passed away this year. Photo Credit: Wikipedia.org

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- The news in Fairfield County in 2016 mirrored what was going on throughout the rest of the country.

Over the year, Connecticut became a battleground in the contentious presidential election. There were celebrity deaths, shocking crimes, and scary clown sightings. Residents discussed national issues such as gun control and immigration, worried about big businesses closing down, and hunted for Pokemon on their cellphones.

Here are some of the top stories from Fairfield County in 2016.

After years of looking, General Electric announced it would move its corporate headquarters from Fairfield to Boston along with 200 of its 800 workers. GE’s decision raised concerns about the impact on the local and state economy, with officials worrying that the relocation would have heavy repercussions in both the labor and real estate markets from Greenwich to Trumbull. Experts say the company’s decision to move was fueled by its desire to have access to younger, tech-savvy talent. GE opened its new headquarters in Boston in August, and in November, Sacred Heart University agreed to purchase the Fairfield property .

Gov. Dannel Malloy delivered a grim State of the State Address as the legislature returned to work back in February. He warned of new budget practices, spending cuts and layoffs. He later proposed a budget aimed at reducing the state's budget, which included cuts to education, transportation and state parks.

The town of Fairfield was stunned when a man was shot and killed by a police officer in a confrontation after a domestic violence incident at his home on Mountain Laurel Road in February. The man's 15-year-old son wrestled a baseball bat from his father’s hands in the attack as his injured 13-year-old sister ran from their house and called 911. The wife and a 12-year-old son were hospitalized with stabbing and blunt-force trauma injuries. State prosecutors determined later that the officer who fatally shot Christopher Andrews, 51, was justified in his actions.

A Weston High graduate who survived the Boston Marathon bombing was killed in a fiery crash of a speeding Ferrari in Dubai.

Two hawk vs. people attacks were reported in Fairfield.

A Bethel neighborhood was shocked when two people were killed and one was injured in what police called a murder-suicide in a home on Good Friday. A man fired killed his 76-year-old brother-in-law and injured his sister before turning the gun on himself. He died days later at Danbury Hospital.

Jason Adams, 46, a science teacher at Newtown Middle School, was arrested with a loaded gun inside the school . He was placed on administrative leave and later resigned . He eventually received probation in the case after claiming he purchased the gun after receiving threats from Sandy Hook School shooting conspiracy theorists.

Donald Trump's and Hillary Clinton's presidential campaigns rolled into Bridgeport in April, drawing large crowds as they sought to drum up support for the primary. Trump returned to Fairfield in August after becoming the Republican nominee. Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Republican hopeful John Kasich also made campaign stops in Fairfield County.

After more than 48 years on the run, a Georgia prison escapee was arrested by U.S. Marshals in Sherman this May. Bob Stackowitz escaped from prison after serving two years of a 17-year robbery sentence and lived in plain sight for nearly 50 years . His case was eventually dismissed when it was revealed he suffered from a number of health issues and could not be extradited to Georgia. He died in early December after gaining his freedom.

After the deadliest shooting in U.S. history in Orlando this June, U.S. Rep. Jim Himes walked out of the House Chamber during a moment of silence to protest a lack of action on gun control. And U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said politicians were "complicit" in the shooting due to inaction. Murphy then grabbed national attention as he led a 15-hour filibuster on the Senate floor , demanding a vote on two gun control amendments while putting the spotlight on deadly shootings from Newtown to Charleston to Orlando and beyond.

Brien McMahon High School valedictorian Laura Veira, an undocumented Norwalk resident from Colombia , shared her story as she headed to Harvard University.

Police searched for a man who photo-bombed a teenager's selfie and then inappropriately touched her at the Fourth of July fireworks at Jennings Beach in Fairfield. About a month later, the man was identified as 54-year-old Harry Metz of Redding , who was arrested and charged with fourth-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor. It was later reported that Metz had faced similar accusations in the past.

A Michigan tractor-trailer driver was accused of pushing a Bridgeport man out of the cab of his truck and running over him during a dispute over drug money. After the victim died, the driver was arrested at an airport in Maryland and extradited back to Connecticut, where he was charged with manslaughter.

Pokemon Go was all the rage in Fairfield County, with libraries and other organizations getting in on the fun. Two young men playing the game came upon a naked woman believed to be in her 20s and described as "beautiful" who was on a vandalism spree at a Westport church in July.

Thirteen people were wounded in an early morning ambush at a large Plymouth Street in Bridgeport house party in August, including one woman who was shot in the face. Police said that two shooters fired at the party through a hedge. Police said they would pursue every lead, but no suspects have been arrested in the incident.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy walked a total of 126 miles as he hoofed it from one end of Connecticut to the other in early September. He crossed through 22 towns, with local stops at the Sterling House Community Center in Stratford , a town hall-style meeting at a church in Bridgeport , and a lunch with a Fairfield family . He made his final push from Darien and hit the finish line at a park in Greenwich.

Actor Gene Wilder, beloved star of "Willy Wonka" and "Blazing Saddles," died at the age of 83 at his Stamford home.

Weston police responding to reports of a foul odor at a home on Newtown Turnpike found a menagerie of hundreds of exotic birds and snakes — both alive and dead. They called in animal experts to rescue the animals, many of which were in poor health. Police said the property owner had moved to his home after a problem at his New York State-based pet store. The owner was later charged with cruelty to animals.

Lockheed Martin agreed to keep its Sikorsky Aircraft headquarters in Stratford at least until 2032 in exchange for financial incentives of up to $220 million from the state. The pact was approved by the state legislature and also calls for Sikorsky to double its spending to in-state suppliers and for the local factory to build 200 CH-53K King Stallion helicopters for the U.S. Navy.

Scary clown sightings across Fairfield County in October proved to be hoaxes, but they caused alarmed on campus at Fairfield University , at an elementary school in Stamford (where police blamed a child's imagination), and at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury . State Police warned residents that clown pranks can be illegal if the intent is to cause panic. Police and other officials in Wilton and Westport said there was nothing to fear.

Donald Trump won the election to become the 45th president. But in Fairfield County, only seven of the 23 towns had a majority of voters cast ballots for the Republican winner.

Three men were arrested in connection with the gruesome stabbing death of a 26-year-old man from Stamford who was killed during a late-night party in a luxury New York City apartment, police said. The body of Joseph Comunale, who was stabbed 15 times and set partially on fire, was found in a shallow grave in New Jersey. The suspects were not formally charged with murder, and have pleaded not guilty to all charges in the case.

A 32-year-old man wanted in connection with the murder of his wife in their Stamford apartment was apprehended in New York City four days after her death and after abandoning their daughter in the Port Authority Bus Terminal, police said. The 5-year-old girl led police to their apartment, where her mother was found dead. Elmer Gomez Ruano was brought back to Stamford and formally charged with her murder.

Brandon Dupee, a 33-year-old from Bridgeport, crashed a car off I-95 in Fairfield in December, killing himself and his sister, Lindsay, 31, of Stratford, police said. He had been arrested hours earlier on impaired driving charges in Norwalk. He had been spotted by a Maine police chief who was taking part in a Wreaths Across America convoy to deliver greens to place on veterans' graves. In 2011, Brandon Dupee had split a $1 million lottery jackpot win with a 90-year-old neighbor in Norwalk.

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