tv NBC Nightly News NBC July 22, 2012 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT
lennon and how she is now paying it forward. this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt reporting from london. >> the 2012 summer olympic games are just five days away. amid the last minute frenzy of getting ready to host the world a lot of hearts and minds here american and british are focused on the shocking tragedy still unfolding at aurora, colorado. president obama arrived there late today to express his sorrow and concern for victims, their families and a shaken community. the president will speak from aurora later tonight. kate snowe has been on the scene since friday and she joins us to lead our coverage of the theater shooting. good evening. >> reporter: good evening to you lester from aurora, colorado where the investigation into the suspect james holmes has taken several new turns but tonight
this focus here in this field behind me where a vigil is being held is on the victims of this senseless tragedy. 12 people killed, 58 more wounded. at this hour 24 remain in the hospital, nine of them in critical condition. tonight the president is mourning along with the families who suffered overwhelming loss. miguel, good evening. >> the president has arrived here in aurora to meet with first responders and the victims. the vigils here are growing larger as the community comes together. ♪ >> reporter: on a day of prayer and reflection a community torn apart by violence comes together. >> lots of us, maybe all of us, keep asking why. >> reporter: today they remember the victims. >> john larimer. >> eventually you get the spirit
to go on but we'll never forget. >> reporter: the sorrow has spread across the nation. in texas jessica ghawi's parents are grieving. no parent should go through that. >> reporter: as families mourn survivors struggle to make sense of the blood shed. air force reservist was trained for war. >> there was nowhere to hide. >> reporter: nothing prepared her for this. she lost her friend staff sergeant jesse childress. >> him dying has been the hardest thing because you know i ended up with some buck shot in my hand but his life is gone. >> reporter: aurora was just ranked the ninth safest city in the country. at rosie's diner the busy sunday breakfast crowd is still in shock. >> this is our theater. you would never guess something weird like that was going to happen in your backyard. >> reporter: cheryl groner has
three daughters. reyna is six years old the same age as the youngest victim, veronica moser. >> i tried to explain it as much as i can so they can understand without going into details. >> reporter: three days have passed since the shooting. the emotion and tears here are still fresh as is the pain. tonight hundreds if not thousands are expected for a memorial behind us. kate, the governor and several of the victims will be here tonight. >> people already starting to gather. thank you so much. we are learning tonight much more about the 12 people who died from their wounds here. we are hearing from family and friends about what they were like. we are seeing some of the faces of some for the very first time including that six-year-old girl who was at the movies with her mom. we get their stories tonight. >> reporter: 12 people killed in a simple act of going to the movies.
sometimes the real super heroes aren't on the big screen. 26 year old john blunk wanted to become a navy seal but his life ended in the line of fire right at home. >> what a great hero he is. he provided me the opportunity to survive. >> reporter: matthew mcquinn took a bullet shielding his girlfriend and a brother. 24-year-old alexander teves was hit. as he pushed his girlfriend out of the way. jesse childress died trying to save a female air force colleague. friday was alex sullivan's 27th birthday. today would have been his one-year wedding anniversary. veronica moser's mother was still in critical condition when she was told she will never again see the six year old who loved to play dress up. alexander boik was secretly engaged to his girlfriend. last night was honored at his high school. >> played on the baseball team. he had more friends than anybody i had known. >> reporter: jessica ghawi was
well loved, too, an aspiring sports reporter. 23-year-old micayla medek, an avid green bay packers fan. rebecca wingo was a working mom pursuing a degree. and 27-year-old john larimer a petty officer in the navy, the youngest of five siblings. >> he was an outstanding ship mate, a valued member of our navy team and an extremely dedicated sailor. >> reporter: the oldest victim 51-year-old gordon cowden was a devoted father at the movie with his two teenagers. 12 lives lost to their loved ones and the world. this is a special report from nbc news. >> i'm chris jansing in aurora,
colorado. we are waiting for president obama to speak at the university of colorado hospital. the president has been meeting with the families of the victims of friday morning's mass shooting at the local movie theater. 12 people were killed. 58 were wounded. here now is the president of the united states. we are still waiting for the president. let me bring in miguel almagear. we are learning people are still in the icu. >> we have been hearing stories of all of the victims that lost their lives. the youngest just 6 years old and the oldest, 51. they all had different stories. they were at the theater friday morning when the gunshots rang out. it has been a tough day for the community and victims of the families. the president has been hearing their concerns and now this
community gathers about 5,000 people have come to the memorial to share their grief together with the large memorial. >> this is a prayer vigil. it looks like 5,000 people. even more with an overflow crowd. >> it certainly is a huge audience out here. it will be a very moving tribute. >> in the background as we hear this joyful music that is coming from a local church group from the baptist church here, we are waiting for the president of the united states, who has surely had an emotional couple of hours spending time with families and hearing their deeply personal stories. just giving them the comfort. now, with his message to the nation, from the university of colorado hospital, let's go to the president of the united states who is approaching the
podium to give some words after spending several hours on the ground meeting with these families and meeting with these victims. 12 people who were killed and 58 who were injured. 24 still in the hospital. nine of them still in intensive care. and word that we got, sadly, from the mayor, just a little earlier today, that some of them are still facing a life threatening condition. it is so against that back drop of shock of the violence of what happened inside that movie theater of the absolute chaos that happened. of the word that the youngest victim was just 6 years old. the single mother among those who died. a 51-year-old father who had come with his two teenage daughters. he was a victim there. there were at least three men who literally stood in front of
bullets and protected in two cases their girlfriends, and in another case, a member of the military who was there with a friend of his from buckley air force base. she tells the story how she saved her life by protecting her. 24-year-old alex teves just earned his degree at the university of denver. 26-year-old alex sullivan, celebrated his birthday. miguel was talking to some of the families. >> we expected to hear from the president earlier today. he was delayed because he spent so much time with the families. he wanted to get to know them and hear their stories and be part of their lives. he was delayed a bit there. the other folks that were not able to meet with the president, but so affected by the stories
have joined us for the memorial. we expected a couple of thousand people, but we have 5,000 people here. they are hearing the stories of not just the victims, but survivors. they are rallying together. aurora, the third largest city in colorado. >> we saw someone who was able to meet with the president who was the brother of jessica ghawi. she grew up in texas. a big football state. she was known to be a hockey fan. she was a sportscaster. he was the first family member to come out and said i want people to know about my sister. i want people to know what was lost. he tweeted about how great it was for him to meet with the president and how he was so happy because the president had agreed not to mention the name of the shooter. we did get confirmation from the campaign that the president has
agreed not to do that. miguel, you spent a lot of time in the community together. we see, obviously, the tremendous response here with more than 5,000 people. in churches and diners. a local sandwich shop where they are collecting money. here now, after meeting with the families, the president of the united states. >> good afternoon, everybody. i want to begin by just thanking all the state, local and federal officials who have responded magnificently to this tragedy. governor hickenlooper, who has already been dealing with a range of natural disasters here in the state, has been an extraordinary example of strength. the mayor, who has only been on
the job seven months, and obviously, has responded with great strength and leadership. the police chief, who we had an opportunity to speak over the phone. chief oates has been dealing with as difficult a set of circumstances as any law enforcement officer deals with and he and his officers have done everything right and by the book with great courage and determination. we are very proud of them. i think i speak for the entire congressional delegation who is here as well. you know, scripture says that he will wipe away every tear from their eyes. and death shall be no more. neither shall there be mourning,
nor crying, nor pain anymore for the former things have passed away. and when you have an opportunity to visit with families who have lost their loved ones, as i described to them, i come to them not so much as president, as i do as a father and as a husband. i think that the recent stories like this have such an impact on us is because we can all understand what it would be to have somebody that we love taken from us in this fashion. what it would be like and how it would impact us. i had a chance to visit with each family and most of the conversation was filled with memory. it was an opportunity for families to describe how wonderful their brother or their son or daughter was.
and the lives that they had touched and the dreams they held for the future. i confessed to them that words are always inadequate in these situations, but my main task was to serve as a representative of the entire country and let them know that we are thinking about them at this moment and we'll continue to think about them each and every day. and that the -- that the awareness that not only all of america, but much of the world is thinking about them might serve as some comfort. i also tried to assure them that although the perpetrator of this evil act has received a lot of attention over the last couple of days, that attention will
fade away. and in the end, after he has felt the full force of our justice system, what will be remembered are the good people. the good people who were impacted by this tragedy. and i also had a chance to give folks some hugs and to shed some tears, but also to share some laughs as they remembered the wonderful lives that these men and women represented. i also had a chance, fortunately, to visit folks who are going to be okay thanks to the extraordinary efforts of the staff of this hospital. i just want to thank everybody who has worked tirelessly here to deal with this tragedy. some of the stories are
remarkable. you see young people who have come in and just two days ago or 36 hours ago or even 24 hours ago, it wasn't certain whether they would make it. now, suddenly, their eyes are open and they're alert and they're talking and it reminds you that even in the darkest of days, you know, life continues. and people are strong and people bounce back and people are resilient. particularly given the fact that so many of the victims were young. it is a great blessing to see how rapidly they are able to recover from some pretty devastating injuries. there's one particular story i want to tell because this was the last visit that i had. and i think it is representative of everything that i saw and
heard today. i had a chance just now about five minutes ago to visit with ally young. ally is 19 years old. i also had a chance to visit with ali's best friend, stephanie davis who is 21. stephanie was downstairs with ali and ali's parents when i walked into the room. i don't think this story has been heard. at least i hadn't read it yet. i wanted to share it with you. when the gunman initially came in and threw the canisters, he threw them only a few feet away from ali and stephanie, who were sitting there watching the film. ali stood up saying that she might need to do something or at least warn the other people who were there. and she was immediately shot.
she was shot in the neck and it punctured a vein and immediately she started spurting blood. and apparently, as she dropped down on the floor, stephanie, 21 years old, had the presence of mind to drop down on the ground with her, pull her out of the aisle, place her fingers over where ali had been wounded and applied pressure the entire time while the gunman was still shooting. ali told stephanie she needed to run. stephanie refused to go. instead, actually, with her other hand, called 911 on her cell phone. once the s.w.a.t. team came in,
they were still trying to clear the theater. stephanie then with the help of several others, carries ali across two parking lots to where the ambulance is waiting. because of stephanie's timely actions, i just had a conversation with ali downstairs and she is going to be fine. i don't know how many people at any age would have the presence of mind that stephanie did or the courage that ali showed. and so, as tragic as the circumstances of what we have seen today are and as heart breaking as it is for the families, it's worth us spending most of our time reflecting on young americans like ali and stephanie.
because they represent what's best in us and they assure us that out of this darkness a brighter day is going to come. to the entire community of aurora, the country is thinking of you. i know that there will be a vigil and an opportunity for everybody to come together. and i hope that all those who are in attendance understand that the entire country will be there in prayer and reflection today. so, thank you. god bless you. god bless all who helped to respond to this tragedy and i hope that over the next several days and weeks and several months, we all reflect on how we can do something about some of the senseless violence that ends up marring this country.
but also reflect on all the wonderful people who make this the greatest country on earth. thank you very much, everybody. >> the president also a father and husband recounting a remarkable story of heroism at the university of colorado hospital with the families and spent so much time with them. a message that out of the darkness will come a brighter day. also the vigil continues for tonight's victims. we will have continuing coverage on msnbc. we now return viewers on nbc stations to regularly scheduled programming in progress. i'm chris ogramming in progress this has been an nbc news special report.
making it the deadliest week since the uprising began. tonight we have news about the crippling drought across the country. it's not good. our friends at the weather channel say temperatures will be scorching from the great lakes to the plains this week. 100 degree heat and not enough rain to make an impact. tonight we are learning what really happened after a day long mystery involving michael jackson's mother, katherine. it started this morning when one of her nephews reported her missing to police. paris jackson tweeted today that she hadn't spoken to her grandmother in a week. katherine jackson is safe and sound. sources tell us mrs. jackson suffered a mini stroke and is resting with family members under the care of a doctor in arizona. bottom line, she is not missing. when we come back here tonight london calling for yoko ono. our conversation on love, loss and the power of a smile.
exhibit here in london. we are all invited to be a part of. it is the work of a woman you likely know well who after suddenly losing her husband found the answer to healing her pain was written across her face. >> reporter: there is more than just the olympics and a break from the rain that has londoners smiling these days. the whole world is smiling this light hearted project on display at the serpentine gallery, the hope of artist yoko ono when she mused on the idea. >> i envisioned the whole world smiling together. >> reporter: the idea that a smile had the power to heal really took hold for ono in the days and months after the murder of her husband back when it seemed there could never be anything to smile about. >> every day in the morning when i see the mirror i try to smile. it is very hard. in the beginning it was so phony.
i don't want to see that one. but then i started to really smile. >> reporter: she calls the project hashtag smiles film. there was no public internet or twitter back when she started thinking about it. technology has caught up and ono is asking people to snap a picture and smile. tlz theirs, someone else's via an iphone app. >> if we all start to smile in the world something will happen. i think that it will be better for the world maybe. >> reporter: featured in the gallery exhibit a slow motion film of lennon breaking into a smile. >> i bet you liked to smile together. >> he was always laughing. >> over the years ono has
dedicated herself to peace, a message she shared with her husband. the two famously staged a vetting for peace in 1969. in 2011 she created the imagine peace tower in iceland. a monument to lennon. she said she likes to think john is smiling about smiles but it is not hard to. >> you think john is smiling with us now? >> he would love it. it is the kind of thing he liked. >> reporter: ready? >> okay. i like this. >> reporter: maybe it is true. when you smile the whole world really does smile with you. we have put more information on the smiles film project on our website, nbcnightlynews.com. that's "nbc nightly news" for this sunday. we will be on the air with live coverage of the president's remarks from aurora, colorado when they happen. i'm lester holt reporting. for all of us here at nbc news, i'm lester holt reporting. for all of us here at nbc news, good night. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com