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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  June 19, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT

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community. >> you can watch it again on our website if you want >> thanks for joining us. >> good night, folks. tonight, facing the victims. the 21-year-old accused charleston shooter in court as families of the fallen bare their grief. >> i will never be able to hold her again. but i forgive you. >> extraordinary words from the heartbroken. and we learn why the gunman almost didn't go through with it. also the flag fury. why is the confederate flag flying high in south carolina when all others are lowered? the ocean mystery coming ashore. what in the world is causing a red sea to cover california's beaches? and opening up, brian williams speaks publicly for the first time since his suspension about what happened and the way forward. "nightly news" begins right now.
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>> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is nbc "nightly news." reporting tonight, savannah guthrie. and good evening. their words rang out in a courtroom in charleston today. words more powerful and resonant than any act of hate. victims' families addressing directly the man accused of opening fire inside the mother emanuel church, telling of pain, loss, and most remarkably of forgiveness. today the judge held 21-year-old dylann roof without bail. investigators telling nbc news he confessed almost immediately to taking those nine lives and this chilling detail -- that their kindness to him at that wednesday prayer service almost convinced him to abandon his plan. tonight a vigil honoring those lives lost at charleston's 5,000-seat arena. but we will start with today's extraordinary moments in court, including some surprising and controversial remarks from the judge. nbc's chris jansing leads us off. >> reporter: dylann roof stood in a small jailhouse
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room flanked by armed guards, showing no emotion. >> what is your age? >> 21. >> you're 21 years old. are you employed? >> no, sir. >> reporter: the courtroom packed with victims' families for an emotional bond hearing that started with an unexpected statement by the judge. >> we have victims, nine of them. but we also have victims on the other side. there are victims on this young man's side of the family. >> reporter: the magistrate stunning some onlookers by mentioning the shooter's family. victims' families spoke directly to dylann roof over video conference. the daughter of 70-year-old ethel lance. >> you took something very precious away from me. i will never talk to her ever again. i will never be able to hold her again. but i forgive you. >> reporter: alana simmons spoke of her grandfather reverend daniel simmons.
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>> i love my grandfather and the other victims died at the hands of hate. this is proof, and their legacies will live and learn. so hate won't win. >> reporter: tywanza sanders pleaded with the gunman to shoot him and his aunt. >> we welcomed you wednesday night in our bible study with open arms. you have killed some of the most beautiful people that i know. tywanza sanders is my son. but tywanza was my hero. tywanza was my hero. but as we say in bible study, we enjoyed you, but may god have mercy on you. >> reporter: and the grandmother of a 5-year-old girl saved her life by telling her to play dead. >> i'm assuming that
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that precious little angel, she just -- she just -- she just knew she had to do this. in order to survive. >> reporter: in many states it's unusual for families to speak at a bond hearing. but south carolina law allows it. today with their losses still so fresh, one by one families honored those they lost with mercy for the man accused of taking them. but tonight south carolina governor nikki haley is calling for the death penalty, and a man who spoke to nbc news whose sister died said this -- "i would say god forgives, but i want the state to expedite the meeting between him and god." tonight this community comes together once again. the defendant is back in court in october. savannah? >> chris jansing for us in charleston tonight. there are so many new details emerging tonight, ranging from the harrowing accounts of the terrifying events inside that church to the confession that investigators say the suspect gave after they hunted him down. we get that report
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from nbc's craig melvin. >> reporter: the memorial outside emanuel a.m.e. church today has been steadily growing, showing the support of a community in mourning. >> when we got that guy in custody, a audible gasp of relief was heard in our community and in people's hearts. >> reporter: among the nine victims, the church's beloved pastor, clementa pinckney. law enforcement sources telling nbc news his wife jennifer and his youngest daughter were in his office during the shooting, hiding under a desk. jennifer called 911, and while on the phone the shooter knocked on the door. the operator told her not to unlock or open it. according to court documents, roof shot each victim multiple times, and before he left the church he uttered a racially inflammatory statement to an unnamed witness, who survived the attack. >> i've been talking with investigators as they were going through the interviews. they said they looked pure evil in the eye yesterday. without question this is hate. >> reporter: less than
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24 hours after roof left charleston in his black hyundai, he was arrested in north carolina. >> why did you do it? >> reporter: and flown back to charleston, where law enforcement sources say he spoke freely with police admitting his guilt. officials say the 21-year-old showed no remorse but did say he almost didn't want to go through with it because everyone was being so nice to him and chose the site of his crime, mother emanuel church, because of its historic significance to the black community here. >> at mother emanuel we call it mother because it's the oldest church in the african-american episcopal connection in the south. it's the mother of the civil rights movement in this community. >> reporter: roof is being kept in protective custody in a cell near michael slager, the police officer charged with killing walter scott after a traffic stop earlier this year. christian serbian is a friend of roof and has told nbc's mark potter
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the suspect hinted of his plans last week. >> and he said he was going to the college to shoot the college up. and i think because that college campus is so hard to get onto maybe he couldn't get into that school and he settled for that church. >> reporter: and now information tonight on the gun that was used in the massacre. law enforcement sources now say it was roof who bought that gun himself and not his father as originally believed. and late this afternoon a statement from the roof family. they offered their condolences to the victims' families. savannah? >> craig melvin at the church for us. thank you. this horrific shooting has reignited the highly sensitive debate over the confederate flag in south carolina. the suspect displayed images of it on his car. and the flag remains flying high on the grounds of the state house. tonight there is sharp disagreement over whether it should come down. nbc's ron allen with that part of the story. >> reporter: atop south carolina's capitol the u.s. and state flags respectfully fly at half staff, while also on the capitol grounds flies the confederate battle flag at its full height. deeply offensive to some.
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>> the flag is a symbol of hate. it's a symbol of the past. >> reporter: and it's right there on the license plates of the alleged killer's car, renewing a raw debate over what others say is a symbol of southern pride. >> it's a symbol to those men who fought and died to the war. >> reporter: first hoisted to the capitol dome in 1962. massive protests in 2000 brought the flag down. a law placed it in front of the capitol, exactly ten feet south of the civil war memorial and 30 feet high. congressman jim clyburn has been fighting to have the confederate colors moved to a much less prominent place. >> do you think it should be at half mast or taken down? >> it should be taken down. >> not even at half mast? >> no. that is -- would give it the appearance of sovereignty. >> reporter: moving or lowering the flag requires the approval of both houses of the state legislature. now is not the time, some say. >> and it's just very unfortunate that there are those who are attempting to exploit this great tragedy that we've had here in south
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carolina and make some connection to the soldier's flag on a soldier's confederate -- confederate soldier's monument. >> reporter: the uproar rages on social media. hashtags like take that flag down. in a recent nbc news poll, equal numbers of people said the flag was a symbol of hatred or pride. flying today in a state full of mourning and grief. ron allen, nbc news, columbia, south carolina. we move now to the dangerous weather extremes across the country tonight. in the west it's bone-dry conditions that are allowing wildfires to consume thousands of acres. but it is quite the opposite threat in the midwest, where the remnants of tropical depression bill are dumping buckets of rain and causing widespread flooding. we get more now from our jacob rascon. >> reporter: high in the southern california mountains, the state's largest wildfire is burning out of control. flames up to 100 feet devouring the san bernardino national forest. this is the front line. crews fighting to protect dozens of homes just down the road in terrain that hasn't burned in
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decades. hundreds of people have been forced to evacuate cabins and campgrounds in the parched rugged terrain including dozens of children. summer camp cut short. >> it's like the perfect storm when you have the drought and the hot weather and build-up of fuels in the area. >> reporter: a full scale evacuation near fresno. across the west large wildfires that destroyed dozens of homes in five states. thousands of firefighters attacking the threats on the ground and from the air. in willow, alaska, home of the iditarod sled dog race, 50 structures have been lost. the wildfires expected to rage on for days. while in the midwest repeated heavy waves of rain have pummeled texas and missouri where the governor declared a state of emergency and families like the hulls woke up surrounded by rising water. >> i don't know what we're going to -- >> we don't know what we're going to do. we've lost everything. >> reporter: and along a country
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road in oklahoma roho hartman's truck stuck in flood waters when a familiar face came to his rescue. >> my wife called me, said blake shelton pulled me out and he's going to go ahead and bring me on home. i said you better slick up and, you know, we'll be there in just a minute. >> reporter: dangerous and destructive weather with no letup in the forecast. those in the flood zone are looking at a long weekend of waters expected to just continue to rise, and in the fire zone, as you might expect with all of this smoke, the air quality is very poor and tomorrow we'll be hot, dry, and windy yet again. savannah? >> all right. jacob rascon, thank you so much. also in california, experts are baffled by a mystery from the ocean. incredible images showing beaches there turned crimson. now, look closer and you'll realize those are crabs. thousands and thousands of them washing up by the ton on the shoreline. and as our joe friar explains, no one is quite sure why it's happening. >> reporter: not a grain of sand
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is visible in these images of california's balboa island, where the shoreline is covered in red tuna crabs. >> we occasionally see a bird that got caught by a cat or something, but i've never seen anything like this before. >> reporter: at times the layer of crabs has measured seven inches thick. >> what did it look like? >> red. >> reporter: they look like crayfish, only one to three inches long. to tourists it's a fascinating sight and pungent smell. >> it's neat to see it, but it was fun for a day, and now we're done with it. >> reporter: each day crews now spend about eight hours clearing the beaches. most of the crabs are dead or dying. >> this is quite the cleanup project, isn't it? >> yeah. it's a little different than we normally do. each morning we've had to hand rake and shovel the red crabs that have washed up overnight. >> reporter: typically these crabs should be in mexico but experts say warmer waters off the california coast may have played a role in
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luring them north. >> they are littering the beaches, but other than that they're not a cause for ecological disaster. >> reporter: scientists aboard this noaa research ship also want to know if warm waters are responsible for a large toxic algae bloom impacting the west coast. this year there's a lot of unusual activity in these coastal waters and this blanket of red crabs is just the latest eye-catching attraction. joe friar, nbc news, balboa island, california. and when we come back, you'll hear from brian williams opening up publicly for the first time since his suspension.
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we know a lot of viewers of this broadcast, many of you who tune in to us each night with your families, have been eager to hear from brian williams, who was suspended earlier this year because of inaccurate statements has made about some of his experiences in the field. well, now he's speaking out for the first time about what happened in an interview with our colleague matt lauer, and we should note they both agreed there would be no question off limits. >> you're a family man. personally, what have these five months be like? >> it has been a time of realization. trying to find out in me what changed. you know, in our work i have always treated words very carefully. that's the coin of our realm. it's our tool.
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it's the key to our credibility, our integrity, but, matt it is clear after work when i got out of the building when i got out of that realm i used a double standard. something changed. and i was sloppier and i said things that weren't true. looking back that's plain. >> so you say sloppy. did you not deal with the reality that when you walked away from nbc, whether it was to appear on a late-night talk show or some other venue, some other interview show that the title and the responsibilities of anchor/managing he had store of "nightly news" traveled with you? >> i think that's exactly it. looking back it had to be ego that made me feel that i had to be sharper, funnier,
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quicker than anybody else. put myself closer to the action. having been at the action in the beginning. >> but was it conscious, brian? because let's go back to january when you went on "nightly news" and you recounted a story about a military veteran that played a role in a harrowing ride in a chopper in the iraqi war. you told this story. you had told some versions of it in the past in other venues. did you know it was not true? >> i told the story correctly for years before i told it incorrectly. i was not trying to mislead people. that to me is a huge difference here. after that incident i tried and failed as others have tried and failed and why is it when we're trying to say, i'm sorry, that we can't come out and say, i'm sorry. >> but we live in a world right now, brian, where people are not going to let
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this rest and so there are other things and other situations that you didn't tell the whole truth. would you like the chance to set the record straight. >> what has happened in the past has identified. it has been dealt with. i know why people feel the way they do. i get this. i am responsible for this. i am sorry for what happened here. i am different as a result and i expect to be held to a different standard. >> well brian is staying with the nbc family. he'll be covering breaking news on msnbc when his suspension ends in august. lester holt will officially take over as anchor of "nightly
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news" on monday. we're back with the latest news including the manhunt for the two escaped murderers.
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those two convicted killers that escaped from the new york prison are on the u.s. marshall's most wanted list. they have been on the run for two weeks. state police said they are refocusing the search and the potential escape route and warn that capturing them could be a long haul. tonight we are mourning the loss of a giant in the history of television. ralph roberts, a pioneer who founded a small cable company in the '60s and grew it into comcast, the largest cable and internet provider in america and the parent company of nbc universal. known for his warm demeanor and signature bow tie, his family said today he will always be remembered for his generosity integrity, honesty, kindness and respect for everyone around him. he is survived by his
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wife of 72 years, susan, and four of their five children including brian roberts, comcast chair and ceo. he passed away in his home in philadelphia last night. he was 95 years old. when we come back striking a chord. the heartfelt letter that's starting a movement after the church shootings in charleston.
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next at 6: a car careens into a bay area bus stop. ===take vo=== one person has died. several more are injured.. we'll have a live report from the scene. ===take vo jess=== plus, the most memorable moments from the warriors victory parade. ===next
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close=== the news is next. and finally tonight, it can be so hard to find the right thing to say after a tragedy like the one we saw in charleston. but something one colorado lawmaker did in the middle of a sleepless night is going viral and inspiring others all over the country to put their compassion into words. here's harry smith. >> reporter: at a prayer service in charleston last night the preacher declared what happens to one of us happens to all of us, black and white. in the churches of charleston what you won't hear is rancor. charles watkins is the pastor at morris brown a.m.e. church. >> evil is sensational many times. so we're not surprised by it. we're not discouraged by it. we're emboldened because we come together through it. >> reporter: there is faith here. a peace that passeth understanding.
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and it has not gone unnoticed. in denver two men each spent a sleepless night. a white state senator was compelled to write down his feelings. and i want you to know i stand arm in arm with you in your grief. >> reporter: mike johnston brought his letter to the local a.m.e. church. >> these lost loved ones you will not grieve alone. >> this hollow hatred you will not face lien and this righteous justice you will not seek alone. >> reporter: pastor timothy tyler embraced the message. >> to read senator johnson's words it was relief. it was relief there are still good people in the community. >> reporter: the senator also posted his letter to facebook. a movement begun. spreading to nashville and new orleans and beyond. >> i am at your service to show that love can drive out hate. >> i hope that a message of love, sincere and true, will override the message of hate. >> reporter: more than one person in charleston has suggested that something good might come from this tragedy. you hear that a lot in situations like this.
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maybe this time it's true. harry smith, nbc news, charleston. and that will do it for us on this friday night. i'm savannah guthrie. lester holt will be here on monday. and for all of us at nbc news, have a good night and good weekend.that breaking news -- in vallejo. >> announcer: "nbc bay area news" begins with breaking news. that breaking news in vallejo. a car plowed through a bus stop. i'm raj mathai. >> and i'm jessica aguirre. we're learning one person is dead and several others have been injured. the accident happened just after 3:00 on sonoma boulevard near redwood street. right now that area is blocked off as police try to sort out what exactly happened. >> nbc bay area's christie smith is at the scene of this horrible crash. do we know how this happened? >> reporter: we did just get an update from vallejo police, and they're telling us this began
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with a 65-year-old man, a driver out of bassoon city. they say for some reason he lost control in his car going up sonoma boulevard earlier this afternoon. i want to show you what the scene looks like right now. they say that in his car he jumped the curb nearby a bus stop. a woman is dead, six people injured, including the driver according to vallejo police who tell us that that driver jumped a curb hit a shopping cart a telephone pole and five people including two children. we're told that the injuries range from serious to critical this evening and that this is kind of the incredible part in this story that is already pretty amazing. a tow truck driver was in the right place, they say, at the right time and able to help two adults who were hit and in the street. >> the tow truck driver was traveling southbound didn't see the collision but saw a lot of people around the car, made a u-turn, came across the center median, used a strap to lift up the front of the car off of the