tv ABC World News With Diane Sawyer ABC December 24, 2012 5:30pm-6:00pm PST
100 years old now. strangers answering the notes from needy children. what these every day heroes heard this year that surprised them. 0 good evening. a holiday season already blighted by gun violence has now culminated in this. a group of firefighters ambushed on christmas eve. the men were responding to this fire at dawn. it turned out, though, to be a trap. as soon as they got there, they were picked off one at a time by a lone gunman. two firefighters were killed on the spot. two others seriously wounded. the suspect then shot and killed himself. this all went down in the tiny town of webster, new york, on the shores of lake ontario. and so we begin tonight with abc's paula faris.
>> reporter: the fire broke out just before sunrise. the 9-1-1 call at 5:35 a.m., in sleepy webster, new york. two firefighters sped to the scene in their engine, two others drove their own cars. but when they moved in to battle the blaze, gunfire. >> reporting three firefighters injured. one taking cover in a crashed fire truck. two have been down in the street and they're serious. >> reporter: police now say it was all a trap. that a gunman was laying in wait for the first responders to arrive. all four firefighters were shot. >> fireman mike chiapperini, who is also a lieutenant with the webster police department, was deceased at the scene. >> reporter: 43-year-old chiapperini was named the webster fire department's firefighter of the year just two weeks ago. also slain, tomasz kaczowka. the department calls him a tremendous young man.
>> these people get up in the middle of the night to go put out fires. they don't expect to be shot and killed. >> reporter: webster police have identified the gunman as 62-year-old william spengler, whose home burned today. he had a lengthy criminal history, serving 17 years for killing his grandmother with a hammer back in 1980. no word about what his motive was today or where he got his guns. >> spengler was a convicted felon. he's not allowed to possess weapons. >> reporter: tonight, two firefighters are in stable condition in the hospital. 33 people were evacuated after the fire engulfed seven homes. >> it's a shock. that something like this would happen but for some reason, violence is rearing its ugly head in this community. and everywhere. >> reporter: paula faris, abc news, new york. >> let's get it out now to alexis arnold, a reporter at our abc affiliate in rochester, new york. alexis, we were so struck by the
emotion in the voices of the people holding the news conferences today. when they talk about the people who died today, they're talking about their friends, aren't they? >> reporter: well, that's right. and here you have a situation, they're going to work. they're going to do their jobs. fight a fire. and on christmas eve, they get shot, just simply doing their jobs. many of the law enforcement officials we spoke to today, they worked with a lot of these men who are being considered heroes. >> every time we cover a shooting and we cover way too many shooting incidents, you hear the same thing. people saying, i never thought it would happen here. but in tiny webster, new york, on christmas eve, that has most definitely got to be the case. so, what are you hearing from the people who live there? >> reporter: the neighborhood this took place in is a very nice, safe, quiet neighborhood. so, very shocking to hear that events like this would unfold. of course, in light of what happened in sandy hook, here we are dealing with a situation of guns and that gun control issue
is coming up. hearts very heavy in this community. >> alexis arnold, we really appreciate your reporting tonight. thank you. >> reporter: thank you. and now to the other big story we're following tonight. a series of storms set to barrel across america, possibly producing christmas day tornadoes in the south and then a huge mess in the northeast. just as people are trying to get home after the holiday. in parts of the country, the action has already begun, and here's abc's alex perez. >> reporter: it's the nightmare before christmas travelers were hoping to avoid. blankets of snow from central new york to northern california creating christmas chaos for some parts of the country. >> we're hoping we don't sit on the runway. we did that last time and it's not fun. >> reporter: in chicago, paula gagerman and her three daughters arrived early for their christmas eve flight. they are among the millions taking to the crowded skies today. what's that stress like when you got to get somewhere and you're traveling with family and it's not -- mother nature is not cooperating?
>> extremely stressful. >> we're like, come on, come on, come on. we just want to get there. come on, we're going to be late, we're going to be late, come on. it's really annoying. >> reporter: in northern california, a huge storm caused a big wrench in weekend travelers' plans. >> after i found out my flight had been canceled after four hours of waiting in the airport, i had to wait in another three-hour customer service line. >> reporter: and it's not just in the air. on the roads, holiday travel is up 1.6% this year. some 84.4 million americans getting behind the wheel. and another 5.6 million traveling by plane. >> it's actually the most people traveling for the holiday in six years. this means that any bad weather that we might be seeing in the coming days could result in serious disruptions. >> reporter: expect to see those disruptions wednesday, the day after christmas, one of the busiest travel days of the season. bad weather leading to major airport delays in cities like cleveland, detroit, st. louis and chicago's o'hare. where santa arrived early today, hoping to give travelers big and small the gift of patience. >> ho, ho, ho!
>> thank you, merry christmas! >> merry christmas! >> reporter: and tonight here at o'hare, things are moving smoothly for the last minute travelers trying to make it home on time for christmas. the big question remains, what will they face on the way back? dan? >> alex, thank you. joining me now, meteorologist lee goldberg of our new york city station, wabc. thanks for coming in. so, you've got actually three storms you're looking at right now. >> a real mine field for the next week or so. the first storm on the map is a weak storm coming up the coast right now. that's going to be rain for the coast. there could be some one to three-inch amounts along i-90, i-84 in the northeast. maybe a coating, outside of new york city for a white christmas. more likely the northwest suburbs. number two is the big problem. >> so, really big, this problem. and it starts down south. >> yes, we know about the big snow it produced out west. now, if you look at tuesday, in the midday, you see the severe line going through louisiana and mississippi. that could cause tornadoes there. and by wednesday, it's up through parts of the carolinas. there's also snow on this side, that's christmas eve into christmas morning, there could be six inches of snow in places like oklahoma city, by
the time you get to late week, that's coming up the northeast. >> so, the northeast hit by snow by this same system. and then, storm number three, more snow? >> hasn't come on the pacific coast yet. that arrives in the northeast, probably a nor'easter saturday into sunday. that could be big snows, interior northeast. >> so, potentially a big mess for a lot of people trying to get home after christmas and also potentially a busy week for guys like you. >> lots of snags. i think we're in a pattern like this into early january. >> all right, lee, thank you. >> you bet. and tonight, we have late word on the passing of one of hollywood's most talented and beloved actors, jack klugman. he was in the business for 60 years, but was perhaps best known as oscar in "the odd couple" and quincy in "quincy m.e." abc's neal karlinsky tonight on an american original. >> reporter: for an entire generation, he'll always be oscar madison. >> you in this game or not? >> yeah, i'm in. >> oscar presents his new tomato surprise.
>> reporter: that sloppy roommate to felix in "the odd couple" about two divorced men living together. a neat freak and a slob. >> keep your hands off there. >> reporter: the show, which ran from 1970 to 1975 was defined by jack klugman's perfectly disheveled character. the clash of opposites made the show irresistible to tv audiences. >> here, drink this. oh, oscar, even animals -- >> reporter: klugman won two emmys for the role. not bad for a man whose first drama teacher told him he was better suited to be a truck driver. >> gentlemen, you are about to enter the most fascinating sphere of police work. >> reporter: later, he redefined himself with a second iconic tv character. >> let me give you a lesson in anatomy. >> reporter: as quincy, klugman was a convincing and persistent los angeles medical examiner with a knack for solving crimes.
quincy was the "csi" of its time and then some. >> yeah, how you going to justify pumping that kid full of led if it turns out he wasn't the one that killed that girl, and i don't think he is. >> reporter: klugman made a few films, starring opposite jack lemmon in "days of wine and roses" and with an all-star cast in "12 angry men." >> wait a minute. >> please, i played in backyards that were filled with garbage. maybe you can still smell it on me. >> reporter: jack klugman died peacefully at his home in northridge, california, with his wife, peggy, by his side. he was 90. neal karlinsky, abc news, seattle. >> a towering figure. and now, to the extraordinary national outpouring on this christmas eve directed at newtown, connecticut, site, of course, of the tragedy at sandy hook. the overwhelming response summed up by one local who said, quote, there were nine minutes of evil and an infinity of goodness after that. here's abc's linsey davis. >> reporter: a town in need of
christmas cheer got it from across the country. in sparta, wisconsin, we saw these 26 snow angels, each for the innocent lives lost in newtown, each with a name and an age. from kalamazoo, michigan, 700 bracelets from a local business and from students, headed to newtown. flower seeds inside each of those smiley faces for the community to wear and plant. and for the newtown police department? officers around connecticut banding together, volunteering to work on christmas day so every newtown officer can have the day off with their family. and at their town hall, mountains of donated toys from all corners of the country, even hurricane sandy victims sending comfort and kindness from what little they have left. >> we had so much help, we wanted to pay it forward and try to help somebody else. >> reporter: nearly two months since sandy and many still live without power. volunteers going door to door. one family said they just wanted a christmas tree for their children.
so, volunteers from maryland got to work. in one of the most devastated neighborhoods, we spotted a secret santa, known as sandy claus, making special deliveries. >> it was just amazing. i couldn't stop smiling. i just love to see the look on the kids' faces and just see them glow and finally be happy after all this devastation they've gone through. >> reporter: 8-year-old patricia, whose family is still without power, lit up. >> i was so surprised! >> reporter: so, you had no idea? >> i had no idea. >> reporter: back in newtown, connecticut, the community is shining bright with these. tens of thousands of luminaries. each home placing 26 lights out front so santa can find his way. linsey davis, abc news, new york. and coming up here on the broadcast, we're going to take you to the front lines on this christmas eve, with the last of the last-minute shoppers. there are huge deals tonight, but wait until you hear what's coming on the day after christmas. how does 75% off sound?
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tonight, retailers are going all out. they are staying open late, slashing prices. however, if you really want a deal, check out what's coming on the day after christmas. here's abc's john schriffen. >> reporter: with just hours before santa comes down the chimney, shoppers spent the day in a mad dash to pick up those last few items on their list. >> still shopping. >> reporter: what do you want for christmas? >> a lot of things. >> reporter: a lot? you hear that? we spent the day with some of those 17 million americans who consumer reports say hit the stores today. what has it been like dealing with the crowds? >> busy. >> a little bit overwhelming. >> reporter: stores have been selling nonstop. toys "r" us in times square open more than 500 consecutive hours. macy's for two days straight. but experts say, if you really want the best deals, shop the day after christmas. already, we were finding stores rolling out the big deals. from amazon, a 46-inch tv,
marked down 55% off, for $338. from best buy, a nikon digital camera, 50% off for $129.99. from bloomingdale's, this cashmere sweater was $170, now $89.99. >> we've seen up to 50% on selected categories. and on key items, look for 75% to even 80% off on some of these items. >> reporter: so, you're okay not getting the gift on christmas? >> yes. >> reporter: in fact, because retailers will be so desperate to get rid of excess merchandise after the holiday, some shoppers are now making a tradition out of shopping on december 26th. >> return the things that we didn't like, from relatives, and then go buy what we want. >> reporter: if you are planning on shopping the day after christmas, experts say the most discounted items, electronics and winter clothing. but if you're trying to do your homework, most retailers won't release their specific deals until tomorrow. dan?
>> john schriffen on the front lines, once again tonight. john, thank you. and coming up, in the "instant index," the police officer who somehow swam in his bulletproof vest, saving a woman's life. and then, the twist that got him in a little bit of trouble with his wife. treatment as prilose now with a fancy coating that gives you a burst of wildberry flavor. now why make a flavored heartburn pill? because this is america. and we don't just make things you want, we make things you didn't even know you wanted. like a spoon fork. spray cheese. and jeans made out of sweatpants. so grab yourself some new prilosec otc wildberry. [ male announcer ] one pill each morning. 24 hours. zero heartburn. satisfaction guaranteed or your money back. a body at rest tends to stay at rest... while a body in motion tends to stay in motion. staying active can actually ease arthritis symptoms. but if you have arthritis, staying active can be difficult.
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officer edward norton jumping into freezing waters after he spotted a woman who had somehow fallen in. as you look at this, bear in mind, the officer was weighed down the whole time by his bulletproof vest. >> she kept saying stuff like, you know, i can't hold on, i can't hold on. >> she did hold on and they got out of there safely. there is an interesting postscript for the officer. after getting out of the cold water, he got into some hot water with his wife. he lost his wedding ring during the rescue. now, to a moment that one family is calling the best christmas present ever. it happened at the airport in phoenix, arizona, and it's our video of the day. you are looking at a family reuniting with their dog, kane, who had been missing for nine months. they had pretty much given up hope, but then, out of nowhere, they got a call this weekend that kane was found walking along a road in oregon, more than 1,000 miles from his home. he was identified by a microchip that had been implanted and set back home.
and finally, our number, as we track santa's your gee across the planet tonight. the number is 1.7 billion. that's how many presents are loaded onto santa's sleigh. the team at norad has been tracking santa since his sleigh took off from the north pole earlier today. they are using radar, satellites, fighter jets, even santa cams. google is tracking santa, as well, this year. they say santa generally arrives in most countries between 9:00 p.m. and midnight, but the kids have to be asleep or he will leave and come back later. we're always looking for cool stuff with the index. if you see something you like, hit me on twitter, @danbharris. coming up next, the post office collecting letters to santa from little kids. what they are hearing this year that truly surprised them. let's give thanks - for an idea. a grand idea called america.
the idea that if you work hard, if you have a dream, if you work with your neighbors... you can do most anything. this led to other ideas like liberty and rock 'n' roll. to free markets, free enterprise, and free refills. it put a man on the moon and a phone in your pocket. our country's gone through a lot over the centuries and a half. but this idea isn't fragile. when times get tough, it rallies us as one. every day, more people believe in the american idea and when they do, the dream comes true. we're grateful to be a part of it. i have a cold, and i took nyquil, but i'm still "stubbed" up. [ male announcer ] truth is, nyquil doesn't unstuff your nose. what? [ male announcer ] it doesn't have a decongestant. no way.
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so for a great vacation this year, come to the gulf. its all fabulous but i give florida the edge. right after mississippi. you mean alabama. say louisiana or there's no dessert. this invitation is brought to you by bp and all of us who call the gulf home. ♪ on this christmas eve, you're looking at american soldiers lighting candles in afghanistan. and one final story from us tonight. even in the age of e-mail, kids are still composing thousands of hand-written letters to santa. for the past century, the post office has been collecting notes
from needy children and matching them with donors. as abc's sharyn alfonsi learned, this year, kids are asking for a lot more than toys. ♪ we wish you a merry christmas ♪ >> reporter: nothing captures the hopefulness of christmas like those "dear santa" letters. but this year, at new york's main post office, the people who sorted through those letters to santa noticed something else -- a change in mood. >> it's pretty desperate. >> reporter: peter fontana is the head elf here. >> i'm a 9-year-old and i live in a shelter. >> reporter: fortunately, this brooklyn-born elf believes in miracles. >> this letter asked for a queen-sized bed because the kids were sleeping on the floor in the basement. when i put that letter down, my phone rang and it was a bed company asking how they can help. >> reporter: for all those 100 years, the post office has been matching donors with needy children. >> i need your help this year, santa. >> reporter: these two pitched in to help three kids who lost their father to cancer. >> got her a baby doll that she wanted. >> reporter: and there are thousands more. >> i am 8 years old.
i love toys too, but i really need a bookbag for school. >> reporter: each letter filled with so much faith. >> please help me by sending some clothes and a pair of shoes. >> reporter: sure that somehow, their letters will reach santa. >> sometimes it's really hard because the mailman can't really walk through the snow. because sometimes there's polar bears. >> reporter: and somehow, santa will find them. how does santa get into your apartment? >> the little hole for the dryer. >> reporter: he gets in through the hole for the dryer? belief, very much alive. that santa and all his elves can somehow fill the gaps. >> can you get me some new teeth? my front teeth. >> reporter: and there will be plenty of smiling children tomorrow. ♪ good tidings for christmas and a happy new year ♪ >> reporter: sharyn alfonsi, abc news, new york. >> and we are wishing all of those children a merry christmas. that's going to do it for "world news" on this christmas eve. we leave you tonight with this christmas postcard from downtown
oklahoma city, illuminated with more than 4 million christmas lights. our thanks to affiliate koco for this great picture. for diane sawyer and everybody at abc news, thank you for watching and please have a merry and safe christmas. >> dan: coming up "abc 7 news" is there as crews rescued from the rain swollen napa river. some serious problems remain. >> carolyn: problems like a
landslide. trouble spots where saturated soil is giving away. >> i'm trying to figure out what to give. >> dan: trying to beat the clock. it's getting down to the wire as last minute holiday shoppers crowd bay area stores. >> carolyn: thin firefighters ambushed in new york, two are shot and killed and tonight local crews show their solidarity. >> dan: too much water is causing flooding and landslides across the bay area. tonight many roads are still closed and guess what? we're expecting more rain tomorrow. good evening, i'm dan ashley. >> carolyn: i'm carolyn john son. we have live coverage. we begin with heather ishimaru in east palo alto where neighbors are mopping up after a creek flooded there. >> reporter: it's hard to imagine but last night the creek
here was all the way up to street level to this bridge spilling off to the east bayshore and further on to highway 101. it was closed for a time. homes that were evacuated are in the other direction but it's where the compromised levee sits. they said the california conservation corps was on their way to help with sandbagging and repairs of that levee. they had wanted to take advantage of the break between storms. >> the creek picks up speed and altitude as it banks around this bend. that is why there is a levee here, only during last night's down pour, it was neither high enough on nor strong enough leaking through the middle. >> there was some seepage by the cones over here. >> seven homes were under mandatory evacuation last night and residents spent today cleaning up. experienced residents knew to get out