tv NBC Nightly News NBC June 18, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
d night. tonight, heartbreak and shock in charleston. the stunning massacre in one of this city's most sacred places. why did a young man walk into a historic black church with praying parishioners and shoot them in cold blood? nine lives lost in an instant. >> this is pure evil. >> tonight the 13-hour manhunt and the hate crime investigation now under way. the photos of the suspect wearing racist symbols, his troubled history and the gun he had just gotten as a birthday present and the victim, a coach, librarian, recent college graduate, their stories as our special coverage from charleston starts now. >> announcer: charleston church massacre.
this is "nbc nightly news." reporting tonight from charleston south carolina, savannah guthrie. good evening from this beautiful city where what unfolded just a few steps from here last night is almost too much to bear. it happened at the emanuel episcopal church mother emanuel, as everyone calls it wednesday night prayer service and bible study, all welcome, no questions asked. a young man walked in, took a seat and waited for up to an hour and then police say dylann roof stood up and started shooting. there were nine dead, one injured and countless broken hearts here. a stunning act of mass murder in a predominantly african-american house of worship and tonight it's being investigated as a hate crime. tonight, what we know about the man in custody after an all-night manhunt, the stories of quiet and good lives cut tragically short. but first, what happened when the peace was shattered here last night? our team is in place,
and tonight we begin with chris jansing. >> the surveillance photos of dylann storm roof were crucial in his arrest for one worst mass killings in south carolina history. >> that awful person who would go into a place of worship where people were praying and kill them is now in custody where he will always remain. >> police say roof walked into the emanuel ame church last night during a bible study and sat for an hour before drawing a gun. >> i spoke with one of the survivors and she said that he had loaded, reloaded five different times. he just said i have to do it. he said, you rape our women and you taking over our country, and you have to go. >> when the shooting stopped, nine people were dead, six women and three men including the church's beloved pastor clementa
pinkney. >> have you allowed yourself time to think about what you've lost? >> yeah but i still hadn't digested it. one minute i'm fine. >> reporter: it's hard. >> yeah. >> reporter: fbi, state and local police stormed the region. dylann roof was on the run. >> i've never seen or experienced what i would consider pure evil in my career, and this is pure evil. >> roof would drive 250 miles to north carolina. >> once we got the surveillance photos out and the 1-800 number up we started to receive tips. >> reporter: the decisive tip came late this morning when a local florist recognized the black hyundai from the news and the distinctive haircut of the driver. minutes later, the 13-hour manhunt ended when roof was arrested during a traffic stop. >> why did you do it? >> reporter: but the
night took an emotional toll. >> we woke up today and the heart and soul of south carolina was broken. ♪ >> reporter: a community in mourning but in prayer determined to come together again. community leaders tell me they refuse to answer violence with violence and so tonight, there is a vigil at a local presbyterian church and they will walk here to mother emanuel. meantime, investigators are looking forward to asking questions of dylann roof for one, which frankly, there is no good answer, why? >> chris jansing been here since late last night. there is word they took the suspect aboard a plane in shelby, north carolina to fly him back here to charleston. we're continuing to learn about him, his background his previous run-ins with the law and about the hate authorities believe he was carrying in his heart. our mark potter has that part of the story. >> reporter:
21-year-old dylann storm roof was raised in south carolina. earlier this year he had some run-ins with the law. in march at a mall, he was arrested on illegally possessing a prescription narcotic after he was asking suspicious questions about their operations. a month later at that same mall, he was arrested on a misdemeanor trespass charge and was then banned from the mall for three years. his facebook page showed roof posing in a jacket bearing patches of flags from the former white-controlled row edled rodesia and from apartheid south of africa. south carolina senator and presidential candidate lindsey graham told abc's "the view" his niece went to school with roof. >> she saw him at a local restaurant. >> he had different eyes. we'd leave him alone. we knew something was bad.
>> reporter: he wept to school in lexington and repeated the ninth grade, no indication of whether he graduated. this afternoon state agents were at the home in columbia they say belongs to his father and told nbc station wis they were there several hours searching the home. when we went there later this afternoon to ask questions, no one inside was willing to talk. >> we're not talking to any reporters. >> are you mr. roof? >> i'll call the police. >> reporter: you don't need to. i'm leaving. >> reporter: law enforcement officials say the gun used in the shooting was a gift from roof's father and that erch is searches of roof's computer have not turned up anything to suggest that others were involved. and behind me is the house near columbia that roof gave us his address when he was arrested a few months ago. meantime at a court hearing today, he waived counsel and agreed to come back to south carolina. it's not decided if he'll be tried by the state or federal government. both have the death penalty. savannah? >> all right, mark potter thank you so much. tonight the community of
charleston is only just beginning to measure the toll. the aching loss of nine of their best nine people living lives both ordinary and extraordinary gathered together in prayer and now gone much too soon. nbc's craig melvin tonight with their stories. >> reporter: charleston is a city in mourning. nine are dead, six women and three men. among those killed, the church's pastor, clementa pickney. a 41-year-old married father of two who peached at emanuel since he was a teenager. >> god, we welcome and invite you into this place, your house. we thank you for the spirit that dwells here. >> reporter: pickney was also a longtime member of the state senate where a black cloth was draped on his desk. >> senator pinckney was a giant. >> he was the moral compass of the general assembly. >> reporter: several people who worked at the church are dead including a 49-year-old church minister that retired in 2005.
she was the mother of four. sharonda coleman-singleton, 45 was a rev rant, mom of three, speech therapist and high school track and field coach. tywanza sanders, a 26-year-old barber and cynthia hurd was a 54-year-old branch manager at st. andrew's library in charleston which will now be renamed in her honor. her brother says the last 24 hours have been devastating. >> we all were agonizing knowing that she left home to go to church and not hearing from her for so many hours. >> reporter: also confirmed dead 87-year-old susie jackson, 70-year-old ethel lance, 50-year-old myra thompson and 74-year-old daniel simmons who died after being taken to the hospital. tonight, a community is coming together to remember nine lives tragically taken in their place of worship. >> craig melvin joins me now. you grew up not far from here. you know this church well. >> reporter: mother emanuel, the folks
here love that church and elementary field trip was my first trip there. we went to fort sumter the other air market here in charleston and that was the final stop. it is that significant to the people of charleston, the people of south carolina. >> the fabric of this place. thank you so much for sharing those stories. among those who new pastor clementa pickney, president obama. and today the president spoke to express the grief of a nation. >> there is something particularly heartbreaking about a death happening in a place in which we seek solace and we seek peace. in a place of worship. i've had to make statements like this too many times, once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun. at some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in
other advanced country countriy countriys, and it is in our power to do something about it. the fact that this took place in a black church, obviously, also raises questions about a dark part of our history, and we know that hatred across races and faiths pose a particular threat to our democracy and our ideals. >> president obama earlier today more than a dozen times he's had to speak after a mass shooting since he took office. as we mentioned, the steeple you see behind me stands for so much steeped in history, in struggle and most of all, faith. ron allen with that part of the story. >> it is affectionately known as mother emanuel, since its founding 200 years ago. house of worship that's a pillar in the struggle for freedom and equality. reverend steven singleton is a former pastor. >> when i was here, it was not unusual for us to have visitors from around the world. >> reporter: why did they come? >> because they heard
about it. >> reporter: in the church's storied history, several chapters like now written in blood. one of its earliest members, the leader of a massive slave rebellion, the plot exposed, dozens executed the church burned to the ground. reverend pinkney killed spoke about the spirit of the church for an upcoming documentary. >> the church has a very proud history, a spirit of defiance and standing up for what is right and what is true. >> reporter: icons of the civil rights movement have worshipped here. martin luther king junior in 1962, a speech about voting rights. this photo posted today. later king's wife, lead a hospital workers to the steps of the church. now the church still on the forefront of a fight for social justice. and despite the attack a congregation determined to carry on. >> it's this kind of thing that drives people to god. >> reporter: mother emanuel was also known
as a very open and welcoming church so it's not unusual to see strangers. one reason many say the attacker did not attract a lot of attention when he joined the prayer service. savannah? >> thank you, ron allen. we're joined by a man who loves this city and state. himself the son of a minister and he's spent many years working on the cause of civil rights. congressman james clyburn, it's good to see you under terrible circumstances. >> absolutely. >> how can you put into words how aching the community is right now. >> that's true. but i think from what i've been hearing today, these people are so appreciative of the way the mayor conducted himself, the way the police chief last night did not hesitate to label this crime with what it should be labeled and the way they went about apprehending the perpetrator. i think that that started us on the road of healing and the service at noon i thought was a very uplifting service. i've been in those
kinds of services since the '60s. but as the bishop said i don't think i've ever seen an audience with so much diversity in it and the way they were sitting today, not in clusters but people were sitting with each other next to each other, holding on to each other, praying with each other. i felt real good coming out of that service and i do believe that in spite of all that's bad about this, some good will come out of it. >> and you knew many of these victims. >> i knew them personally. clementa i've known since he was a student. at allen university. he was a very strong supporter of mine. politically. his sister i knew very well and there are two other victims that were very good friends both personally and politically, and they are going to be losses for all of but we are going to use this as a way to move forward constructively. >> the words we need to hear. congressman clyburn, thank you
for being here, sir. >> thank you for having me. our coverage continues from charleston in a moment including stepped-up security at churches across the country as this massacre brings to light just how many violent incidents are occurring in america's places of worship. targets for people looking to do harm. and also, stunning words from the pope today, why he says the earth is beginning to look like his words, an immense pile of filth.
charleston, the scene of this awful massacre and what is so horrifying about this rampage is just how easy it was for a gunman to gain access to the church, as other public places have increased security in recent decades, churches and other places of worship have not making them vulnerable targets. our national correspondent kate snow reports. >> reporter: at noon in st. louis, the giant bell at the christ church cathedral cathedral, tolling, and moments later, l.a.'s police chief announcing to beef up security across churches in that city. >> we're more concerns this may keep people from following their faith and worshipping. >> reporter: and in newark, new jersey, a similar discussion. >> this church that you're standing in spends thousands of dollars a year for armed security so that persons that come to worship can feel safe and feel protected. >> reporter: but sadly, statistics show
houses of worship are too frequently also the site of violent acts. >> as i came into the lobby, i could see a man with a firearm in his hand. >> reporter: carl chen was held hostage at a christian organization now a security consultant he estimates just last year there were 176 violent incidents at places of worship. since the bombing at the 16th street baptist church in birmingham back in 1963 there have been 13 mass murders at or around places of worship. chumps in texas, louisiana, wisconsin, pennsylvania colorado and california a buddhist temple in arizona, a sikh temple in wisconsin. he says most churches don't need armed security. they need people to know when to call the authorities. >> the most essential part of security is simply an awareness, having one or two people who are focused on things that we call a dlr, don't look right. >> reporter: given what happened last night, many religious leaders are taking no chances. kate snow, nbc news, new york.
we want to turn to some of the other stories we're following for you. it's day 13 of the manhunt for the two escaped convicts in upstate new york. the attorney for lyle mitchell, husband of accused accomplice joyce mitchell told nbc news exclusively today that lyle knew of his wife's relationship with an inmate and when he was visiting his wife in jail this week his lawyer said he wanted answers about how she could have done all of this. his attorney adds, lyle cannot stand by his wife through this. after months of speculation pope francis released his call to action and did not sugar-coat it. it was a call to action on climate change. the pope warning that the earth is becoming quote an
immense pile of filth. and saying we must reduce what he calls compulsive consumerism. he also says rich nations must reduce fossil fuel use to poor quote an ecological debt to poor and developing nations. the $10 bill is getting a makeover and for the first time in a century, a woman's face will appear on u.s. paper currency. beginning in 2020 a woman will replace alexander hamilton on the $10. the woman has not been chosen but earlier this year a vote was held as part of a grass-roots campaign and harriet tubman was the favorite. and we have some news of our own you may have heard about today. nbc news announced that starting monday lester holt will officially take over as the anchor of this broadcast. brian williams is staying with the nbc family. he'll be covering breaking news with our colleagues at msnbc when his suspension ends in august. there has obviously been a lot of speculation about brian. and tomorrow he will address it all for the first time publicly in an interview with my colleague, matt lauer, on "today." and we will hear that interview here on
finally tonight, through the grief here in charleston we're once again confronted with the troubling state of race relations in this country. we have witnessed so much recently and now this attack on one of america's most historic black chump churches sanctuaries becoming targets. here's harry smith. >> reporter: if you're old enough to remember when four young girls were killed on a sunday morning in birmingham alabama, you thought you'd seen the worst. if you remember that the beatings on a bridge in selma, alabama, then you knew you witnessed evil. 50 years ago it seemed racism had met its match. >> free at last, free at last, thank god almighty we are free at last! >> reporter: and it did to a point. a martyr fell and laws were changed, and some hearts were changed, too. but whatever happened to that affirmation of equality? perhaps the virus of racism never died. it just laid dormant,
only to flare up again in new ways. a man dies in police custody in baltimore, pushing people to the streets. in lots of places in our land there is unease. there is distrust. aren't all men created equal? stephen adams is a student at the citadel. >> i think it's something that is a common occurrence in our society and people are becoming more and more numb to those things. >> reporter: numb to the value of another person's life. what harms our neighbor harms us. why is that so hard to understand? harry smith, nbc news, charleston. and that will do it for us on this thursday night. i'm savannah guthrie reporting from charleston, south carolina. i'll see you from here tomorrow morning on "today." for all of us at nbc news, have a good evening.
our breaking news is in union city where an apartment fire has taken a life. ==jess/2shot== i'm jessica aguirre. ==raj/2shot== and i'm raj mathai. ==raj/live== these are live pictures from our chopper. firefighters are still on the scene in this union city neighborhood. ==take vo== this fire started about an hour ago, in a nearby carport. the apartment complex is near the intersection of alvarado- niles and hartnell street, not far from james logan high. no word yet on how this fire
started. we'll continue to follow the story and bring you updates as we get them. ==raj/cu== we're also following a developing story in antioch. 34 people, many of them children we'll continue to follow the story as we get them into the newsroom. also following a developing story in antioch. 34 people many children are sick after spending the afternoon at a popular water park. this is at the antioch water park. you see it down below from our nbc chopper late this afternoon. several dhirn were being wheeled out on stretchers. the park is on lone tree way off of highway 4. we're told that too much chlorine leaking into the pool may be the cause of the problem here. however, no file report has been released. 17 people taken to a local hospital. all of the injuries are considered minor. building inspectors were back at the site of the balcony collapse that killed six young people collecting
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