tv NBC Nightly News NBC April 15, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
san francisco. >> sounds nice. thanks for joining us at 5:00. lester holt joins us next with nightly news. on this wednesday night, panic on the hill. a postal worker forcing a lockdown by landing a small copter on the capitol lawn. how did he get into restricted airspace, especially since he made no secret of his outlandish plan. life in prison. aaron hernandez, the ex-nfl star who had it all, now convicted and sentenced for a cold-blooded murder. tonight, what the jury is saying about the verdict. is it the end of spring break? the ugly moment, a woman assaulted on a crowded beach. tonight, the popular destination saying they have had it with spring breakers. and space invaders. many airlines looking to squish passengers even closer together. it might get awfully uncomfortable, but is it hazardous, too? "nightly news" begins now. ♪
good evening. a small gyro-copter piloted by a florida postman caused quite a scare when it flew apparently unchallenged into highly respected airspace in the center of washington, d.c. and landed on the lawn of the u.s. capitol. the capitol went into immediate lockdown as police searched the aircraft for explosives. and now once again questions are being raised about how well the nation's capitol is secured against aerial threats. tonight the pilot is in custody, and we now know his bizarre landing wasn't exactly a surprise. peter alexander explains. >> reporter: they say things never move fast on capitol hill. today was an exception. >> this is not good, people. >> reporter: coming in for a landing of the lawn of the u.s. capitol, doug hughes on board what's called a gyro-copter. >> everyone was shouting, "move, get down, move!" >> reporter: the
61-year-old mailman from ruskin, florida, was looking to deliver a message to washington, demanding an end to big money and politics and government corruption. carrying 535 letters, one for each member of congress. it was a daring act of civil disobedience that also happened to be a federal crime. hughes made no secret of his plan, alerting the "tampa bay times" last year. >> i'm going violate the no-fly zone, nonviolently, i intend for nobody to get hurt. >> reporter: he acknowledged the risk to his safety. >> i don't believe that the authorities are going to shoot down a 60-year-old mailman in a flying bicycle. >> reporter: and insisted he was not a terrorist. >> terrorists don't broadcast their flight path. terrorists don't invite an escort to go along with them. >> reporter: hughes told the paper he took off from gettysburg, pennsylvania, an hour away, rounding the washington monument. giving him a clear view of the white house before landing at the capitol. >> i had no idea he would make it this far. i thought for sure he'd be brought down or forced down
somewhere before this. >> reporter: it's the latest in a string of security breaches including a drone that landed at the white house earlier this year. after arresting hughes, authorities found nothing hazardous on board. >> the capitol police are going to have to regroup, and the airspace in the district, everybody who's in charge of that has to regroup. police helicopters should have been forcing this guy down before he ever reached the capitol. >> reporter: right now you see capitol police are ready to haul away the gyro-copter, but not until after the capitol grounds were locked down and the area was evacuated. after blogging about his plans a year ago, the secret service reportedly interviewed hughes in florida. today he live streamed his flight, but it's not clear whether law enforcement of aware of it before he got here. doug hughes is expected to make his first court appearance here in washington tomorrow. and late tonight, police are converging on the airport in gettysburg, pennsylvania, where it's believed that hughes took off on this unprecedented stunt. lester? >> all right, peter alexander,
thank you. we turn to an emotional day in a massachusetts courtroom. former new england patriots player aaron hernandez learned his fate. convicted of a 2013 murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole. a stunning fall for someone who was once a superstar on the football field. nbc's ron mott takes us inside the courtroom. what say you, madam foreperson? >> reporter: after a two-month trial and seven days of deliberations, a dramatic end to the future of one of the nfl's most promising stars, aaron hernandez. >> guilty of murder in the first degree. >> reporter: audible gasps, hernandez appearing to say "wrong" while staring at the jury. >> so say all members of the jury? >> yes. >> reporter: his mother and fiancee wiped away tears, as did the family of the man he murdered. 27-year-old odin lloyd, a friend and semi pro football player found shot six times in a field a half mile from hernandez's million massachusetts home. >> i forgive the hands of the
people who had a hand in my son's murder. either before or after. and i pray and hope that someday everyone out there will forgive them also. >> reporter: the case against him was largely circumstantial. the murder weapon never recovered, a clear motive never established by the state. prosecutors had surveillance video that appeared to show hernandez holding a gun the night lloyd was killed, as well as dna and physical evidence putting him at the scene. >> the jury found he was just a man who committed a brutal murder. the fact that he was a professional athlete meant nothing in the end. >> reporter: jurors heard from more than 130 witnesses. >> we followed the court's orders, assumed the man sitting in that seat is innocent until the prosecution proves he's guilty. that's what happened today. >> reporter: on the field, hernandez's career was looking up when he was arrested. a $40 million contract in hand, a super bowl touchdown on his resume.
but off the field, troubles. >> a lived a very secret double life. he was a very good football player. when he went home for the day, he lived a very secret, duplicitous life. >> reporter: hernandez was immediately transported to his new home -- a maximum security prison a mile and a half from the stadium where he was once cheered. this is not the last courtroom aaron hernandez will see. later this year, it's expected he will stand trial for double murder up in boston. this stems from a drive-by shooting there in the summer of 2012. he has pleaded not guilty in that case. he's also being sued in civil court by a man who says aaron hernandez shot him in the face. lester? >> ron, thank you. we turn to arizona now. on the heels of several recent incidents raising alarm about the use of police force, shocking video has surfaced of an officer taking down an armed suspect by hitting him with his car. but there's a lot more to the story which is why the police department says it's something that had to be done. nbc national correspondent miguel almaguer has the story. i got a male -- >> reporter: as police
pursued the armed suspect, dash camera captured the violent collision. >> oh -- [ bleep ] [ bleep ] man down. >> reporter: this is a graphic view from officer michael rapiejko's car as he slams into the suspect at 40 miles an hour. >> it's outside the box, and it's unusual. but if he doesn't take that action, i believe we'll probably answer questions to a much more horrific tragedy. >> reporter: mario valencia was hospitalized but survived the crash. booked for holding up a convenience store, trying to burn down this church, robbing a home hijacking a car, then driving to a walmart where police say he stole a rifle. marana police officer dan rowan spots the suspect holding the rifle to his chin. >> the gun to his neck. [ gunshot ] >> reporter: a single shot is fired into the air by valencia. >> one round just went
out. >> a unit -- stand off, stand off! the gun is loaded! >> reporter: moments later, officer rapiejko rams the suspect. >> oh! >> reporter: valencia's attorney outraged by the use of force. >> i do believe the intent was to kill my client. it's a miracle that he's not dead. >> reporter: with officer rapiejko cleared of all criminal charges, tonight there's public debate whether the action saved lives or displayed excessive force. while the officer behind the wheel has been cleared of any criminal charges, he does face an internal conduct probe here at police headquarters. the police chief telling us he stands by his officer's side. as for the suspect, he's been released from the hospital. he faces 11 felony charges and has not yet entered a plea. lester? >> miguel, thank you. we turn to politics tonight. and some provocative comments by new jersey governor chris christie who hasn't said if he's planning to run for president but says if he does he will beat
hillary clinton. at a town hall meeting in new hampshire, christie defended his new proposals to cut social security for upper income seniors, to raise the retirement age to 69, and to increase premiums for medicare. in an exclusive interview this afternoon, matt lauer sat down with christie and asked him about cutting entitlements. what some are calling good policy but bad politics. >> this country needs more good policy and less good politics. and the fact is that if you want to start a national conversation, you should talk about the thing that consumes 71% of the federal budget. and if you don't, then you have no right to talk about the other 29% because you won't have any money to pay for it. so for me, if you want to start a national conversation, i start it with entitlements intentionally because it is the single-most important issue when it consumes 71% of all the money we spend in the federal government -- >> even if it doesn't make you a whole lot of friends? >> listen, you know, i hope if it doesn't bring me friends, it brings people who respect me. >> there was a time
when people talked about 2016 all of the buzz on the republican side was about you. >> yeah. >> is it possible that while you were dealing -- and i don't want to call them distractions because that makes them sound trivial -- with these serious issues of bridgegate back in new jersey, that your moment passed? >> i don't know. and neither do you. we'll see. i'll tell you this much -- i've been the front-runner before. it's a place where the bull's eye's on your back and everybody's shooting at you. that's okay. i'm fine with exactly where i am now because i haven't changed. and when we start to talk if we run about really serious issues that face this country, i have an opportunity to be able to convince people the same way i would have had to convince them otherwise, matt. all that other stuff is artificial until the game really begins. the game hasn't come close to beginning. >> you can watch more of the interview with governor christie tomorrow morning on "today." another issue that's already making its way to the presidential campaign -- higher wages for hourly employees. around the country today, workers took to the streets demanding better pay as the income gap is growing.
our report on this tonight from nbc's stephanie gosk. what do we want? >> reporter: on street corners around the country today, an organized cry for more money. >> i work two jobs to make ends meet. >> i would rather buy my daughter's diapers than buy food for ourselves. >> reporter: labor unions and workers are demanding $15 an hour -- more than double the federal minimum wage. the movement comes as americans face the biggest wealth gap recorded in 30 years. in 2013, the median worth of upper income families was seven times more than middle-income families. and a full 70 times more than lower income families. these protesters believe a higher minimum wage can be part of the solution. more than 20 states have already raised the minimum wage in 2014 or will do so in 2015. private companies have announced wage increases as well, like mcdonald's, walmart, and gap. last night we introduced you to dan price, ceo of a credit card payment company. our cameras were there
when he announced he was giving his entire staff a salary of at least $70,000. [ applause ] >> reporter: we caught up with him at a protest in new york today. this comes a couple of days after you made your announcement. how are they connected? >> you know, it seems that there's a major conversation about inequality brewing. the rich are getting richer. sometimes kind of the little guy, the normal, average worker is not really keeping up. >> reporter: for generations, part of the american dream has meant your kids will do better than you do. now that they may not -- >> we'll never be defeated! >> reporter: -- there are loud voices demanding something be done to fix it. stephanie gosk, nbc news, new york. a moment of silence today marked the two-year anniversary of the boston marathon bombing. survivors were on hand to watch the unveiling of commemorative banners at the site of the two blasts near the finish line. mayor marty walsh has declared this one boston day. a celebration of the resilience of the city and its people. three people died in the terror attack, and one
officer was killed during the ensuing manhunt. in florida today, a third suspect was arrested in the alleged gang rape of a woman last month on a beach in panama city. the popular spring break destination has seen a string of violent incidents, and is now considering whether to end the party for good. we get more from gabe gutierrez. >> reporter: it's a spring break hot spot. but officials in panama city beach, florida, say the party is getting out of control after this video surfaced of what police call a gang rape. police say an unconscious 19-year-old woman was sexually assaulted on a beach in broad daylight. >> what's so disgusting and repulsive and sickening about this is this is happening in broad daylight within ten feet of where this is happening, there's hundreds, hundreds of people standing there, watching, looking, seeing, hearing what's going on. >> reporter: today a third man
was arrested in the case. two men were charged last week. this year, police have seen a dramatic increase in criminal behavior. a gunman shot seven people at a house party last month. there have been almost 1,100 arrests, triple last year's total. reported sexual assaults have almost doubled from six to 11. police have set up so-called spring break jails, mobile booking cages to keep control. now the city council is considering whether to ban drinking on the beach altogether, driving many of these spring breakers and their spending power elsewhere. >> we will do what it takes to take the beach back and get it under control. it didn't happen overnight, and it's going to take us a while it work through it. >> reporter: the city has tried to crack down before, beefing up i.d. checks and forcing bars to close at 2:00 a.m. the mayor now says other options are on the table to keep this beach safe. and the city council could vote on them next month. lester? >> gabe gutierrez, thanks.
a popular snack brand has been ordered to change some of its labels because the fda says they're not as good for you as the company claims. kind snacks must stop calling at least four variety of its bars healthy because the fda says they have too much fat in them. kind says it will change the labels, but the recipes will stay the same. we've listed the specific bars on our website. still ahead tonight, the airlines reducing seat room to pack in as many passengers as possible. uncomfortable? yes. dangerous? questions about getting out quickly if there's an emergency. also, the baseball player struck down in his prime and the team that refused to give up on him.
your next flight might be even more cramped than you remember because airlines are adding seats and cutting leg restroom squeeze in as many customers as possible on board. with the cabin even more packed, concerns are being raised about whether all those people can be easily evacuated if there's an emergency. here's nbc's tom costello. tower, you copy? car 100, run way 13 is closed. >> reporter: march 5th in new york, everyone on board a delta commuter flight escapes a crash landing at la guardia. march 20th, nova scotia. same story as an air canada plane crashes in halifax. [ shouting ] >> reporter: since 1967 the faa has required aircraft manufacturers to prove everyone can get out in 90 seconds with
half the exits blocked. but is today's test an accurate reflection of the restrictions? in the faa test there is 31 inches between each row of seats. today there's often far less leg room, 30, 29, even 28 inches, all to cram more passengers on board. the nation's flight attendants say it's time for a full review. >> we're concerned that the flight attendants charged with passengers' safety on board the aircraft will not be able to safely evacuate everyone on the plane. >> reporter: part of the concern -- airline passengers are older and bigger than they were 20 to 30 years ago. most of them have more carry-on luggage. stuff they're supposed to leave behind in an emergency, but many of them don't. meanwhile, passenger rights groups say seating people too close together is leading to an increase in air rage cases. >> fists start to fly. people throw coffee on each other children start crying, flight attendants get upset. >> reporter: the airline industry says there's no need for the government to set new seat spacing standards, telling nbc news "each individual
airline should continue to determine which products and service offerings best meet the needs of their customers." the question tonight -- when does too close for comfort become too close for safety. tom costello, nbc news, washington. we're back in a moment with a story you might like. a pretty convincing argument that age 60 is the new 40.
time for good news explaining why many of us feel younger than our age. researchers say with our health improving and life expectancy increasing, many people will hit middle age later in life. they predict by the middle of the century, middle age will start when people reach their 60s. validation for those who already think that 60 is the new 40. a prestigious gathering in the nation's capital today. all the women who ever served in the supreme court past and present together in the same place at the same time. current justices elena kagan, ruth bader ginsburg, and sonia sotomayor were on hand for an
event honoring retired justice sandra day o'connor. on this day 150 years ago, the nation endured one of its darkest moments -- the death of president abraham lincoln. hundreds gathered for a vigil outside ford's theater in washington, d.c., where president lincoln was shot and outside the former boardinghouse across the street where he later died in the final days of the civil war. when we come back, team loyalty and a player that was never turned away.
finally tonight, in this era of big league, multimillion dollar deals for athletes, the san diego padres may have made one of the best deals in baseball. doesn't get a lot of attention, but the value, priceless. here's nbc's joe fryer. let's go! >> reporter: even on grainy vhs footage, you can see what the san diego padres saw in pitcher matt lachappa. a sizzling fastball and wicked curve. >> he had a lot of talent. he was a great pitcher. he could have gone a long ways, in my opinion. >> reporter: priscilla oppenheimer oversaw minor league operations when the team signed lachappa in 1993 and remembers
this request from the southpaw's mom. >> you watch out for him, and i said, i'll take good care of him. >> reporter: good care, even when life throws the curve. >> hello. how are you? >> reporter: lachappa's big league dreams were derailed in 1996 by a heart attack that caused a brain injury. >> how we doing? doing okay? >> reporter: yet the team refused to let him go. >> how's everything? >> we just decided that matt was going to be a padre for life. >> thanks for coming out. >> reporter: every year, the franchise has renewed his minor league contract so he can maintain quality health insurance. >> the padres said that he'd be a family member for life, and they've stuck to that bargain. >> reporter: even though it can be hard to communicate, lachappa's love for the team is unquestionable. do you notice anything in him when he's watching the padres play? >> yep. we have to all be quiet. basically stay out of his way. >> it's so good to see you. >> reporter: and every now and then, he actually visits the field where he's still
part of the team. >> awesome. awesome. >> reporter: a promise kept at the ballpark where matt lachappa truly found home. >> i'm very proud of you. >> reporter: joe fryer, nbc news, san diego. that will do it for us on a wednesday night. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc we have no desire to be training hayward's finest. >> barely sworn into the police force and already walking away from san jose. good evening. thanks for being with us. i'm raj mathai. >> and i'm jessica aguirre. a san jose police cadet left for another bay area city just one after graduation. we first broke the news on twitter this weekend. now the city is speaking up.
damian joins us live from police headquarters with a story you'll only see on nbc bay area. >> reporter: i can tell you the brass upstairs is not happy. they trained a cadet who graduated on friday and by saturday he's on his way to hayward. >> raise your right hand and repeat after me please. >> reporter: they took an oath to protect and defend on friday. 19 san jose police cadets. but one of the 19 apparently were focused on protecting the citizens of a different city. hayward. >> we have no desire to be treating hayward's finest. >> reporter: the mayor said he was disappointed when he heard what we first reported on saturday. >> and you're choosing to serve in san jose. >> reporter: that one of the cadets was planning to move. chief urban confirmed the new hire to nbc bay area. >> it's simply not fair for our residents to be paying taxes to support the e