tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC September 9, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
king george vi. >> she's still very active in the public. >> people love her there. >> thank for joining us at 5:00. lester holt is next with nightly news. tonight, fireball on the runway. an engine bursts into flames just before takeoff, leaving passengers just seconds to escape. tonight we hear from the captain whose actions saved lives as fire consumed part of that plane. moving targets. terror on the freeway as bullets pierce through cars. a possible tenth shooting just today sparking fears of a serial sniper. world outrage. the camerawoman caught kicking and tripping families of migrants running for freedom. now she's paying a price. and two massacre survivors from the church in charleston, for the first time describing the moment shots rang out, the shooter's chilling words before he fled, and a grandmother's act of love that saved a little girl's life. "nightly news" begins right now.
>> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news with lester holt." good evening. late today for the first time we heard from the captain of the british airways jet involved in a fiery aborted takeoff from las vegas. the london-bound 777 was thundering down the runway yesterday afternoon when at the first sign of trouble the pilot slammed on the brakes, bringing the jet to a safe stop. but it was the decision to evacuate before flames began eating away at the wing and fuselage that is earning high praise today for the crew whose actions may have saved lives. nbc's hallie jackson picks up the story from las vegas. >> speedbird, mayday, mayday. >> reporter: the mayday, using british airways' call sign speedbird, came just before takeoff. >> we are evacuating on the runway. we have a fire. i repeat, we are evacuating. >> reporter: that calm voice captain chris henkey, a pilot with 42 years of experience. talking to nbc news late today.
>> there was a loud bang and the aircraft sort of veered to the left. because we had a third pilot, he actually opened the door and went down into the cabin, saw how serious it was. >> reporter: at the airport people watching in horror. >> we need more people to get out of there. >> reporter: as emergency crews raced toward the jet, passengers slide down on chutes, sprinting for safety, including lisa dunn. >> i looked behind me and there's this engine the size of a house, and it is -- the flames are just hundreds of feet into the air. >> reporter: dunn, one of 170 people on board the boeing 777 as it accelerated down a vegas runway just after 4:00 p.m. tuesday, carrying enough fuel for the ten-hour flight to london. that's when the left engine failed. licking the windows but not entering the cabin. thick black smoke swallowing the belly of the jet. today, with the charred plane still sitting on the tarmac, four ntsb investigators are on the ground. most interested in why the suppression system, intended to
extinguish an engine fire, apparently didn't work. a terrifying end to one of captain henkey's last flights. he'd been set to retire in a matter of days. >> i was supposed to go to barbados on saturday and then come back next tuesday and that would be it. >> reporter: many now crediting henkey with a fast response that may have helped save lives. and i know the papers are saying now he's a hero, but we have to remember there are other-two other pilots and cabin crew who all behaved very, very well. >> reporter: containing what could have been a disaster, leaving passengers in vegas feeling lucky. >> i mean, i realize it's a little weird to feel lucky that you've just been in a flaming plane, but i was in a flaming plane and i walked away. >> reporter: aviation officials say engine parts were strewn down the runway here for some 2,000 feet. they're trying to figure out why that engine failed in the first place, but the investigation can take up to a year. in the meantime, lester, captain henkey is still here in vegas waiting to arrive home back in england.
>> a remarkable story, hallie, thank you. in arizona fears are growing that a sniper could be on the loose, taking aim at drivers on the highway. the tenth incident in 12 days today, and authorities say at least half of the vehicles targeted were hit by gunfire. state police calling it a case of domestic terrorism. and our national correspondent miguel almaguer has the latest from phoenix. >> reporter: tonight many drivers are asking, is this the most dangerous roadway in the nation? the i-10 through phoenix, arizona. where vehicles have been targeted by gunfire or projectiles. this rear window shattered this afternoon. the driver not injured but rattled. >> somebody will get hurt, or somebody will get killed if this continues. >> reporter: the director of transportation is warning the public be vigilant. >> anytime that you have multiple shootings against american citizens on a highway, that's terrorism. they're trying to frighten or kill somebody. >> reporter: the rash
of shootings in phoenix began august 29th. seven incidents along interstate 10. three others in the area, though one location hasn't been disclosed. >> the involved parties advising their window was possibly shot at. >> reporter: at least five vehicles were hit by gunfire, shattering windows and headlights. one lodged into the bus robert mcdonald was driving. >> i came literally 24 to 36 inches from losing my life. >> reporter: mcdonald alone on the road when he heard the single gunshot. >> when they found the bullet in the seat like right behind me, yeah, i almost fainted. >> reporter: hundreds of thousands pass through this stretch of urban roadway every day. drivers here are on edge. >> it's cowardly. it's not right. >> reporter: even our camera crew questioned as they stopped to record video along the interstate. >> reporter: janelle braddock remembers the beltway sniper from when she lived in maryland 13 years ago. today she won't drive the i-10. >> i changed my route to work. i drive a little bit
further now. but i feel a little bit safer. >> reporter: tonight, police have more than doubled their presence here along the i-10. federal agents as well as local police are in the air, on side roads as well as in undercover vehicles on the interstate behind me. federal officials say while a 13-year-old girl was injured by glass after it was shot out they're concerned the next victim could be killed. lester? >> all right. miguel almaguer, thank you. the world is struggling to respond to the refugee crisis, but talk in europe of taking in tens of thousands or here in the u.s. of an additional 5,000 falls far short of the need. hundreds of thousands are on the move, fleeing war, desperate for safety in hungary. the suffering has been made even worse by a kick seen around the world. our chief foreign correspondent richard engel is there. >> reporter: they are being rounded up and sent to detention camps. hungary is showing these refugees little compassion. we watched one family try to escape.
they didn't get very far before police were in hot pursuit. lots of police. they caught jumana and her 9-year-old son, who escaped the war in syria. one female officer tries to console the boy. but he screams in english, "please." >> please, please. >> reporter: dozens of police march them back to the pack. the boy still crying out, "please." >> please! >> reporter: he's terrified of men in uniform, his mother tells us. "all we want to do is relax. we've been sleeping in the streets," she says, "in the cold." hungary's cold reception was obvious for the world to see yesterday. a camerawoman actually kicking refugees running past her and deliberately tripping a man carrying a small child. they fall to the ground, angry but unhurt. she worked for a far right television station and was fired on the spot. many hungarians are disgusted by what she
did. balaz salai accuses the government of whipping up anti-government anger. >> the government want everybody concentrate to this problem and don't want to care about the economic problems. >> reporter: so this problem is a convenient distraction for the government from other domestic issues? >> yeah. yeah. absolutely. >> reporter: scapegoating vulnerable people has a long dark history in this part of the world. yet they are still pouring in. forced out by war, unwelcome when they arrive. richard engel, nbc news, roszke, hungary. the showdown over the iran nuclear agreement dominated the campaign trail today. it is all but a done deal now that president obama has the votes he needs to keep congress from disapproving it. but a pair of gop candidates including front-runner donald trump teamed up and continued the charge
to tear it down. nbc's andrea mitchell has the story. >> reporter: donald trump took the hill today, capitol hill, at a tea party rally against the iran deal. >> never, ever, ever in my life have i seen any transaction so incompetently negotiated as our deal with iran. >> reporter: trump, who claims to know a lot about dealmaking if not diplomacy, attacked president obama head on. >> we are led by very, very stupid people. very, very stupid people. >> reporter: the tea party rally had a little bit of everything. presidential candidates. >> this iranian nuclear deal is catastrophic. >> reporter: conservative icons. >> it's betrayal of america. he has strengthened our enemy. >> reporter: even phil robertson of "duck dynasty." >> they call me in as a last resort. >> reporter: ignoring the crowd outside, john kerry now has one more vote than he needs to stop congress from blocking the deal.
>> that's the count that matters right now. and if donald trump. and ted cruz and dick cheney want to be the face of the opposition that's their choice. >> reporter: across town hillary clinton backed the agreement but with a threat to use force if iran cheats. >> i will not hesitate to take military action if iran attempts to obtain a nuclear weapon. >> reporter: and on a day when iran's supreme leader again threatened israel's survival, clinton borrowed a tactic from her republican opponents, channeling ronald reagan. >> you remember president reagan's line about the soviets. trust but verify. my approach will be distrust and verify. >> reporter: clinton today also started distancing herself from some of president obama's foreign policy decisions. suggesting she would not be as public about criticizing israel as he and that the u.s. paid a price for not using force against syria's regime when it used chemical weapons. lester? >> andrea mitchell in washington, thank you. record-breaking
heat waves on both coasts are proving summer isn't done with us yet. temperatures are scorching on the west coast, reaching up into the triple digits, and also in the northeast, where many are struggling to stay cool. it's so hot many schools decided to release students early. for the northeast relief is coming with rain and cooler weather on the way. but the west won't be as lucky. post-labor day it was the first day of school in many cities across the country, but in seattle class was not in session as teachers took to the picket lines, striking amid a breakdown in contract negotiations over pay increases and other issues. that left parents scrambling to find child care in a district that covers some 53,000 students. when we come back, a powerful nbc news exclusive. for the first time, the survivors of the church massacre in charleston recount those moments of terror. how a gunman opened fire when their eyes were closed in prayer. how they survived as their loved ones and friends lay dying.
now to an nbc news exclusive. we won't forget the charleston nine, the members of a church bible study group killed one by one in a racist rampage last june. but there were 12 people in that room, not just 9, three survivors who were not shot but who are forever burdened with horrific memories and the question of why they lived and so many others didn't.
today in charleston i sat down with the two adult survivors of the shooting, who after almost three months are breaking their public silence. it was an emotional and i can tell you difficult conversation but at times it was inspiring. felicia sanders keeps her faith close to her heart. >> i can't help but notice the bible in your lap. >> yes. >> that's the bible you had? >> yeah. it's blood stains. this is the blood. this is the blood. >> reporter: it was faith that brought these two women to the mother emanuel a.m.e. church that fateful night in june, and it is now faith sustaining them after witnessing such horror at the hands of 21-year-old dylann roof, who turned on them, prosecutors say, driven by racist hatred. >> we were just about to say the prayers to be released. and he caught us with our eyes closed. i never told nobody this. >> eyes were closed? >> our eyes closed. shots rang out. >> reporter: sanders was at the bible study with her aunt, susie jackson, her
11-year-old granddaughter, and 26-year-old son tywanza. >> i remember my son saying, "mama, he shot me in the head." and i was telling my son, just lay here. just lay here. and my granddaughter was hollering, saying she was so afraid. it hurts me so bad. because i struggle with what could i have done differently than i did, because i tried my best. to save all of them. >> you saved your granddaughter. you held her? >> yes. >> what did you -- >> i nuzzled her so hard.
i'm surprised i didn't suffocate her. i tried to hold her as tight as i could so she wouldn't make a sound. and i just heard -- i heard every shot. i heard every single shot. >> reporter: despite being hit multiple times, her son tried to protect the others, including his aunt susie. >> tywanza saying where's aunt susie? i've got to get to aunt susie. and he didn't stop till he got to aunt susie. >> he had been wounded several times. >> yes. >> he was still trying to crawl to -- >> he got there. i said "i love you, tywanza." he said, "mama, i love you. i love you." and i watched him take his last breath. >> reporter: before leaving the bible study room, the shooter stopped right in front of polly sheppard, who was hiding under a table. >> when he got to me he could hear me praying.
he said shut up. did i shoot you yet? and i said no. and he said, "i'm not going to. i'm going to leave you here to tell the story." >> were you ready to die? >> i was ready. i said lord, if this is the way i'm supposed to go, this is the way i'll go. >> reporter: nine of the people in that room did lose their lives that night. killed by a man they welcomed with open arms into their bible study. just two days after the massacre the nation marveled when family members of the victims including felicia sanders offered their forgiveness to dylann roof. >> i told him, may god have mercy on your soul. and i honestly hope god has mercy on his soul. >> there was a young man that shot a tv reporter and a camera person. >> yeah. >> recently. and he said the charleston church shooting was the breaking point. >> you can't equate the two. you can't. >> that made me so sad
because i never wanted any one parent to feel what i felt. it numbs you. it just numbs you. >> reporter: etched in their memories is the traditional benediction they were just about to utter when the shots rang out. >> -- one from the other. amen. >> what was your impression of the way the whole country embraced emanuel church? >> it's amazing. amazing to see all of them loving and sharing. just amazing to see everybody together as one nation. ♪ ♪ we shall overcome >> felicia sanders' granddaughter who she held during the attack is the other survivor. felicia continues to protect her now, from the public and media attention. as she explained to me, she's trying to keep her busy and make her life as normal as possible. we're back with more of the day's news right after this.
blake, in town for the u.s. open. blake says he was standing outside a hotel, waiting for a car, when suddenly undercover police officers charged at him, slamming him to the ground in handcuffs. he says the officers mistook him for a suspect in an identity theft ring. cutting his elbow and bruising his leg with that rough takedown. >> it shouldn't have happened, and it's something that we'll deal with with the police and we'll find out what they have to say internally. you know, hopefully there's video of it and people can see what happened. >> reporter: nypd sources say blake was released as soon as the officers realized they had the wrong person. it's the moment apple fans have been waiting for. the company unveiling a slew of new products at its event today including the iphone 6s and the iphone 6s plus which have upgraded cameras and a new feature called 3-d touch. they're available september 25th. also a new version of apple tv and the ipad pro with something steve jobs once mocked, a stylus which is called what else, the apple pencil.
next. finally, the enduring reign of queen elizabeth. 63 years, seven months, and two days as of tonight. that's longer than even queen victoria, her great, great grandmother. which makes elizabeth the longest-reigning monarch in british history. how has she done it? here's keir simmons in london. >> reporter: she's a little old-fashioned, this 89-year-old queen. today on a steam train in scotland, encouraging folks not to make a fuss. >> inevitably, a long life can pass by many milestones. my own is no exception. >> reporter: but long ago elizabeth made a pledge. >> my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service. >> reporter: duty and service. she has stuck by those values, victorian values, longer now than queen victoria herself. >> reporter: elizabeth's cousin margaret has known her since they were 6.
>> you give up a hell of a lot. you can never be spontaneous anymore really. >> reporter: her father's death in 1952 made her queen. the coronation a year later. since then it seems like so much of the world has changed. but the queen has remained the same. through it all, including 12 presidents, she's been there, telling america after 9/11 "grief is the price we pay for love." grief has touched her. three children divorced. the death of diana. an event that forced her to change. >> it is not easy to express the sense of loss. >> reporter: she does have a lighter side. >> balloons are still stuck in the tree there. >> reporter: relaxed, joking. >> they hit the trees and exploded and the garden is absolutely full of dead balloons. very disagreeable. >> reporter: andrew festing has painted her several times. >> she has a very,
very good sense of humor. >> reporter: a sense of humor and that sense of duty. perhaps the secret of her survival. or maybe it's simply the notion of serving her country. how old-fashioned. keir simmons, nbc news, london. that's going to do it for us on this wednesday night. i'm lester holt. for all of u==raj//take con't t now at 6. a call for dr it's very serious. i think we're at a critical time. >> right now 6:00 a call for drastic change in the way california treats inmates who are mentally ill. good evening, thanks for being with us. i'm raj mathai. death in the treatment of an inmate. he died while in a correctional jail. three corrections officers are in jail facing murder charges for beating tyree to death in his own cell.
tonight a judge who sentenced the officers to six years in jail si jail. >> steve mathou would not talk specifically about michael tyree's specific case, but the long-time judge who has presided over mental health and veterans' courts for over 20 years did tell us that the current system must change. he said that inmates like tyree must be treated, not warehoused in jails because there's no room for them in mental health facilities. >> it's very serious. i think we're at a critical time. >> reporter: the honorable judge stephen manley has presided over inmates who are mentally ill here in santa clara for over 20
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