tv NBC Nightly News NBC July 10, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
days. >> thank you for joining us. hope to see you at 6:00. tonight the confederate flag falls in south carolina. history and high emotion as a symbol that has divided so many finally comes down. also, the stunning admission from the fbi. the accused charleston killer should not have been allowed to buy the gun used in the attack. but a series of shocking errors failed to stop him. judgment day for a cancer doctor who poisoned hundreds of patients, giving a false diagnosis and chemo treatments they didn't need for diseases they didn't have. a legendary movie star is gone. from dr. zhivago to lawrence of arabia, we remember the great omar sharif. and making history in the canyon of heroes. why today's big celebration was unlike anything we've ever seen before. "nightly news" begins right now.
>> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. good evening. today in the shadow of the south carolina state house it took an honor guard just 36 seconds to lower a symbol that has divided this nation for a century and a half. the applause was thunderous and sustained. look at the crowd. after 54 years the confederate battle flag was brought down from the site for the very last time. it was a swift and dramatic turn in history. born of the racist murders of nine members of a black church in charleston less than a month ago by a man who embraced that flag. tonight we have two reports. ron allen starts us off from columbia. ron, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, lester. all that remains of the confederate flag here now is the concrete slab behind that monument on the ground that the flag pole used to stand in. a flag that for more than 50 years as one editorial writer
put it signaled to about a third of the state's population, the black population, that they did not matter and that there was absolutely nothing they could do about it. now today largely because of the massacre at mother emanuel church in charleston south carolina took that flag down. [ cheers and applause ] >> reporter: a massive outburst of emotion as south carolina brought down one of the most divisive symbols in the nation. as many as 10,000 jamming the streets around the state house for a dignified six-minute ceremony, there to bear witness. >> finally! >> a new chapter in south carolina's history. >> reporter: many wiped away tears, including governor nikki haley. an epic moment that happened many believe because nine innocent souls were massacred in their church and their relatives have shown grace and forgiveness. >> it's hard to put closure to what has happened to my sister. but i'm making it. i'm making it.
>> reporter: watkins lost her sister, myra thompson. >> i'll tell you, myra will be in heaven smiling on what's being done down here on earth. i know she is. >> reporter: members of the honor guard, perhaps ironically, the same men who carried the body of slain state senator and pastor clementa pinckney, lieutenant derek gamble carried the banner away. >> what did you feel when you were doing that? >> like i said, just a sense of honor. knowing that the people of south carolina come together to make this happen. >> reporter: the flag was taken to a military museum that houses confederate and other military memorabilia. 25,000 visitors a year. a multimillion-dollar display will be built for the flag. part of the deal lawmakers made to bring it down. later workers took down the flagpole. and the fence around it, too. >> it was heartbreaking. >> reporter: megan and brighton lester say they came to honor ancestors who died in the civil war. >> it's not about hate. it's not.
i'm like this. if you erase our history, we're bound to repeat our history. >> reporter: anger and resentment flared. >> you're the reason it's going to stay down. >> because you're a hater. >> thank you. >> reporter: evidence of the deep differences that still divide. as on this occasion that no one would have predicted until the mother emanuel murders, south carolina celebrated what many are calling the dawn of a new day. >> usa! usa! >> reporter: ron allen, nbc news, columbia, south carolina. >> reporter: i'm rehema ellis. at mother emanuel church the mourning continues. >> i hope we never, ever see this happen anyplace in the world again. >> reporter: each day new flowers, new mementos, new messages of remembrance. >> i want to remember the nine people that gave their lives. >> reporter: what started as a makeshift memorial to those who died has grown in these past weeks, and it's here that a small group of strangers gathered around a single cell phone and watched together as the flag came down. [ cheers ]
this week people have come from as far away as california to bear witness here. 13-year-old drew came with his dad and cousin from kentucky. >> rest in peace. >> the civil war was a very, very bad time. so i'm really excited to see that coming down. so it shows that we're all a united nation no matter what. >> reporter: when the flag was down and the ceremony over, the group prayed silently and ended their spontaneous fellowship. >> hallelujah. >> hopefully, this is a sign of better things to come. >> reporter: a moment shared by strangers, forever bonded by history. rehema ellis, nbc news. meantime, there is a stunning new twist in the events leading up to the church massacre in charleston. the fbi now says the accused killer should not have been allowed to buy the gun used in the attack. but a series of errors in the background check system failed to stop him. we get details from our justice correspondent, pete williams.
>> reporter: the fbi calls it a heartbreaking series of missed opportunities that failed to block the sale of the gun that police say dylann roof used to kill nine people last month in charleston. here's what happened. roof was arrested february 28th at a shopping mall in columbia, south carolina. a police report said he admitted illegally carrying a drug called suboxone. the fbi says if it had known that it would have blocked roof as an illegal drug user from buying a gun. he applied for a handgun in mid-april at this south carolina gun store which submitted his information to the fbi for a background check. roof's criminal history rap sheet showed he was arrested in lexington county where the sheriff's office told the fbi to contact the columbia police. but the fbi's databases showed no such department in lexington county, only a different one, the west columbia police department, which had no record of any arrest. the fbi says the examiner called the lexington county prosecutor but never heard back. so the background check was
still under way after the three-day waiting period expired. roof got his gun because federal law allows a gun sale to go ahead if the fbi hasn't blocked it. we are all sick this happened, fbi director james comey said today, "we wish we could turn back time." fbi agents met today with family members of the shooting victims including the husband of myra thompson. >> when i found this out today, it made me angry. you know, and i wasn't angry at dylann. i was angry at the system. >> reporter: some states that do their own background checks have longer waiting periods. and a former atf official says that would help nationwide. >> sometimes three days you just can't determine a person's absolute legal status to purchase a gun. >> reporter: and some big firearms dealers including walmart will not sell a gun even after the three-day waiting period if the background check isn't done. tonight the fbi director says this kind of failure because of a mistake in the database is extremely rare but has
ordered an immediate review to find out what changes should be made. lester? >> pete, thank you. there's new fallout tonight in the massive hacking attack that compromised data on over 21 million americans. heads are rolling at the top of the federal office of personnel management just a day after a breach at the agency turned out to be drastically worse than we were originally told. nbc's chris jansing has more on that. >> reporter: less than 24 hours after insisting she would not step down, catherine archuleta came to the white house and resigned under pressure. >> given the urgent challenges that they're facing right now, it's clear that a manager with a specialized set of skills and experiences is needed. >> reporter: under archuleta, highly personal information of nearly 22 million americans who had federal background checks got into the hands of hackers. the question remains, will this resignation fix what's wrong? >> one of the fundamental problems is they're still feeding the beast. they're still putting really sensitive information into a system that we know is not secure.
>> reporter: right now opm plans to offer victims three years identity theft insurance. but democratic members of congress say only lifetime protection from cyber criminals is enough. >> they may do nothing now, but they may do something years from now. and we think the government owes our federal employees and retirees at least that. >> reporter: an acting director has already been named to replace archuleta, and she has got a huge job ahead of her. federal officials aren't sure yet how long it will take to track down everyone affected, when they might be notified or how much any of these proposed fixes will cost. lester? >> chris jansing at the white house. thank you. an absolutely gut-wrenching story out of detroit tonight. a disgraced cancer doctor sentenced to 45 years in prison accused of bilking tens of millions of dollars from the federal government for unnecessary cancer treatments. those treatments given to hundreds of patients, many told they had cancer when they really didn't. our senior legal correspondent cynthia mcfadden tells us more. >> reporter: you may
wonder why all these people are wearing yellow. it's because they want to send a message to a federal judge. they wish that the doctor who betrayed them will never see the sun again. prosecutors asked the judge to sentence dr. farid fata to 175 years, while defense lawyers asked for 25. >> this we believe to be the most serious fraud case in the history of the country. >> reporter: the judge decided on 45 years. guilty of giving more than 550 patients cancer treatments they didn't need while lining his own pockets with as much as $20 million. >> this is seemingly a very light sentence for the magnitude of this crime and how many people it's affected. >> reporter: monica flagg is another of dr. fata's victims. treated with potent cancer drugs for a year. eventually he sent her for chemotherapy. but she never had cancer. >> i received my first chemo on july 1st, 2013.
and the day was horrible. it was a lot of stress, a lot of emotional -- just a really bad day. >> reporter: it got worse when that night she fell and broke her leg. >> i knew that my leg had been broken in half. i screamed for help. >> ironically, the accident may have saved her life and that of hundreds of others. dr. soe maunglay was covering for dr. fata. >> the patient underwent multiple blood, urine and radiologic testing. none of them indicated that patient ever had any active cancer. >> reporter: the doctor told her the good news. she did not have cancer. >> it was awesome. you know, it was one of the happiest days of my life. >> reporter: but the joy was complicated by the misdiagnosis. so much suffering for nothing. monica's case spurred dr. maunglay to investigate further. he discovered monica wasn't the only one. but it was dr. fata's
office manager george karadsheh who alerted federal authorities. the victims' reactions today were mixed. >> i feel some closure with it. i mean, it will never -- no one wins today. >> reporter: people who trusted their doctor and were betrayed. >> i'm glad he will spend the rest of his life behind bars. he won't be able to hurt anyone anymore. >> dr. fata broke down in court today, sobbing, telling the judge that power and greed had motivated him. now, there is no probation in the federal system, and since dr. fata is 50 years old the 45-year sentence is effectively for life. even with time off for good behavior, there are numerous civil suits still pending. lester? >> really leaves you speechless. >> it really does. >> just horrible. cynthia, thank you. one of the great men of the big screen has died. omar sharif suffered a heart attack in his native cairo at age 83 ending a distinguished decades-long film career that included several of the most
memorable roles in movie history. think "lawrence of arabia" and "dr. zhivago." here's nbc's anne thompson. >> reporter: on screen omar sharif personified romance. >> you're an extraordinary dance partner. >> i know. >> reporter: riding to international fame in one of the most dramatic entrances in movie history. from a speck on the horizon -- >> who is he? >> reporter: -- to a dashing exotic presence. >> this is my well. >> reporter: earning an oscar nomination for his role in "lawrence of arabia." stealing hearts as the physician poet in "dr. zhivago." >> if we had children, yuri, would you like a boy or a girl? >> i think we may go mad if we think about all that. >> reporter: then as barbra streisand's leading man in "funny girl." ♪ you are woman, i am man ♪ ♪ let's kiss ♪ the egyptian-born sharif said after his early success he took parts in bad movies
just to pay his gambling debts. >> i was leading what i call a dissolute life, which means a useless life. >> reporter: he finally quit gambling but kept acting, making 92 films over his career. >> i think there's an element of luck involved which is very important in an actor's career. >> reporter: three key roles that will keep omar sharif eternally romantic. anne thompson, nbc news, new york. we've got a lot more still ahead tonight. our series "burning up," the air war against unrelenting fire storms. we'll meet the rapid response teams on high alert amidst scorching conditions. the fastest line of defense. also the story behind a fast food run for the pope. his holiness and a whopper of a pit stop.
in the west tonight conditions are prime for what's quickly becoming a mean fire season. incendiary conditions exacerbated by a crippling drought and fighting fire in these conditions is not only dangerous but incredibly difficult. the air attack is often the fastest if not the only way to snuff out some of the flames. our national correspondent miguel almaguer has a look at some of the advances in the air and an aging fleet. >> reporter: it's often the first choice for first responders. the air attack, capable of snuffing out a wildfire before it really begins. for the orange county
aerial assault team, minutes matter. >> we'll just make our drop inside that canyon. >> reporter: the squadron of four helicopters operating at a cost of $2 million a year may be the most valuable asset in this southern california tinderbox. >> these helicopters are worth their weight in gold because they can get up quickly and they can suppress the fire within minutes. >> reporter: nimble and agile, much of the air attack across the country is also aging. some of the refurbished planes date back to the korean war. high-profile accidents like this c-130 that killed three in 2002 and this plane in yosemite that went down last year can ground an entire fleet during the peak of fire season. >> for every minute that piece of equipment sits on the ground and is not airborne it gives that fire the opportunity to grow larger and cause more damage. >> reporter: dc-10s are used to drop retardant. the 19 contracted air tankers move like chess pieces across the country.
the aerial ballet even using the military for reinforcement. it's often helicopters that reach flames crews can't, providing rescues, putting boots on the ground, even spotting fires ahead of time. from 1,000 feet up you can see just how dry this area is. one small flame in the topography below and a fire could blow out of control. >> on the other side of the fire. >> reporter: they're now even using nightvision to fight fire around the clock. in a battle where time and precision matter, the air attack has to be right on target. miguel almaguer, nbc news, los angeles. we're back in a moment with some other brave firefighters entering a burning home seconds before a giant explosion.
attic, when suddenly an explosion blew the installation out of the house. it's what's known as a backdraft, when a fire gets a sudden infusion of oxygen. amazingly, no one was seriously hurt. and a firefighter from fresno, california emerged from the hospital with a smile. over three months since his brush with death captain pete dern fell through a roof and into the inferno of a house fire in march. you'll likely remember this awful scene. he suffered second and third degree burns over most of his body. but today after extensive treatment dern walked out in public for the first time since his accident. >> i'm feeling pretty good. we've had firefighters around me since the beginning, and it's just very comforting to know that someone's there all the time. >> reporter: doctors say captain dern has undergone 19 surgeries and still has a few more to go. a brave man. we wish him all the best. and here's something you don't see every day. the pope pulling over for a pit stop at a fast food joint.
it happened yesterday before a mass in bolivia. pope francis needed a place to make a quick change of clothes, and a burger king which was closed for the day near the site of the mass was an ideal location. when we come back, how team usa made history again today in the streets of new york after their amazing world cup victory.
finally tonight, a hero's welcome here in new york for the u.s. women's soccer team. they've already made history with their dominant win in the world cup. and now they've done it again with an honor that no women's team before them could ever claim. here's nbc's stephanie gosk. >> reporter: look at the faces. >> a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. >> usa! usa! >> reporter: listen to the cheers. >> usa! >> usa! >> we have the best fans in all of america. we're world champs, baby! >> reporter: there really is very little doubt, the u.s. women's soccer team deserved this parade today in manhattan's canyon of heroes. the first for a women's sports team. >> amazing for them to have this experience and these girls to witness this. it's just fantastic. >> reporter: this is the team's third world cup victory. a tournament record.
the cup itself was held high along the 20-block parade route. a sea of red, white and blue. there have been a lot of heroes that have walked down this canyon. astronauts, the military, sports teams. but never a team quite like this. the women's soccer team. what an incredible day. >> it's the high point of olympic day in new york city. >> reporter: the last time a ticker tape parade was held here solely for a women's achievement was 55 years ago honoring figure skating medalist carol heiss jenkins. today at city hall -- >> all of this for us started when we were very little and we had a dream. >> reporter: star forward abby wambach credited the women's victory to a shared childhood goal. >> none of us ever stopped believing, and neither should you guys. >> reporter: from this stage their message was heard loud and clear. stephanie gosk, nbc news, new york. that will do it for us on a friday night. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, thank
you for watching. have a great night and a good weekend. rolling a safe out a san jose burger shop overnight. it's the second te thieves caught on camera rolling a safe out of a san jose burger shop overnight. is it the second time this restaurant has been targeted by criminals this week. the owner says the city deserves some of the blame. >> the own over that south bay burger shop says he feels safer incosis costa rica than he does in
the city. . >> reporter: that's right. the owner says that something has to give. twice in one week and he doesn't believe that police can do anything about it. the owner says that this morning's burglary was brazen and planned. >> came in let his buddy in the backdoor and came in here with crowbars and other equipment and were able -- it was bolted in. >> reporter: this is where mojo burger kept its safe bolted to the ground. >> one of the burglars getting ready with the crowbar. >> reporter: harold says a few thrusts with the crowbar was enough for two men to make off with the safe and thousands of dollars in cash. it's the second hit for mojo burger this week and not an officer in sight. >> we're at the end of our rope. you know what happens.