tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC November 12, 2015 5:30pm-6:01pm PST
yes. >> great weather for that tonight, too. >> thanks for joining us alts 5:00. lester holt joins us next with "nightly news." developing news tonight. danger in the sky. 20 aircraft struck by lasers in the past 24 hours. one of the suspects arrested on camera. tonight we'll show you how these lasers can blind pilots and cripple the cockpit. deadly bombings. isis claims responsibility for attacks that left dozens dead. less than two weeks after it took credit for taking down a passenger plane. goodfella's verdict. a reputed mobster learns his fate in the trial for the biggest heist in u.s. history, immortalized in a mafia movie classic. botched birth control? more than 100 woman who use the pill say a packaging error led to pregnancy. now these moms say the company should pay. "nightly news" begins right now.
good evening. we start with a growing danger in the sky which threatened nearly two dozen flights last night alone across the country. the fbi is looking for potentially dozens of suspects who lit up planes and helicopters with potentially blinding laser pointers in at least 16 cities. one targeted the helicopter of our nbc station here in new york city which aimed its camera lens at the source catching the alleged culprit in the act. tom costello now with a rare pilot's view of this alarming threat from the ground. >> reporter: it happened 1500 feet over brooklyn. a bright green laser light suddenly lit up the nbc 4 helicopter cockpit. >> don't look, george. >> reporter: the reporter and his pilot nearly blinded as they hovered above the city. on the ground, a man who appeared to be targeting not only the nbc chopper but nypd
chopper, too. >> we can see him standing outside the building in the back with the laser in his hand shooting at us. >> there's another arrest. >> reporter: police quickly moved in making at least one arrest. at the same time in dallas -- three aircraft were targeted near love field. faa reports last night alone more than 20 aircraft were struck by lasers nationwide, from upstate new york to detroit, cincinnati to salt lake, san juan, puerto rico to los angeles. a number of attacks is growing. as of mid october, more than 5,300 t number of ats growing. as of mid october, more than 5,30h number of atta is growing. as of mid october, more than 5,300 strikes this year compared to 3,900 last year. at u.s. park police headquarters today where the s.w.a.t. team practiced repelling, they showed how a green laser light can overtake a cockpit blinding the pilot. the biggest risk is from lasers that are five milawatts or
more, the eye damage can be irreversible. >> as we are coming in for a landing, the whole pock pit illuminates in almost like a green haze. >> reporter: no suspect was identified. pointing a laser at a plane is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 fine. so far, at least 50 people have been convicted. their sentences ranging from probation to five years. the suspect in last night's case in new york pleading not guilty. bail set at $20,000. by the way, the fbi says it's typically a male in his teens or 20s who is behind this. they generally don't know what they're doing. but as you know, 5 milawatt lasers are illegal, but you can still buy them online. >> thank you. no one is immediately dismissing a claim by isis thought was behind twin terrorist bombings that killed 48 people in lebanon.
coming two weeks after the suspected bombing of a russian jetliner over egypt possibly by isis operatives. today's attacks raising fears isis may be expanding its reach. our chief foreign correspondent richard engel has late details. >> reporter: the bomb exploded in the lebanese capital beirut with devastating effects. more than 40 dead, at least 200 injured. the explosions were at a shopping area with cafes in the southern neighborhood. it's also a strong hold of the shiia militia hezbollah. and hezbollah is fighting against isis in syria. so it surprised no one when isis claimed responsibility for this atrocity which lebanese officials say involved at least two suicide bombers and possibly two more. it means isis is now at war internationally, bombing those who are fighting the group wherever it can find them. >> isis is expanding.
and today, tonight's attacks in beirut if really carried out by isis, this would reinforce its narrative at invincibility. >> reporter: u.s. officials suspect isis bombed the russian plane in egypt two weeks ago in response to air strikes by russian jets in syria. isis specifically called for attacks on russia just this morning in a new video. and now isis apparently brought carnage to lebanon to take revenge against hezbollah. there are other countries attacking isis, as well. including the united states. but there's little common ground on how to deal with the group. >> this internal religious civil war is broadening and getting more cruel and dangerous to all of us. >> reporter: lebanese officials warn the country may be entering a new phase of violence. in the past, similar bombings in lebanon were the work of al qaeda. now it could be isis. the group's target list seems to be widening.
>> thanks. there is late word of another black eye for the u.s. secret service. an employee assigned to the white house has been arrested, accused of sending sexual messages to someone he thought was an underage girl. our justice correspondent pete williams is in our d.c. newsroom with details. what can you tell us? >> these charges were filed against a member of the secret service uniformed division. an officer assigned to check the i.d.s of people with appointments to visit the white house. prosecutors say the officer, 37-year-old lee robert moore of churchill, maryland, began sending sexually explicit text messages in august to someone he thought was a 14-year-old girl but who was actually an undercover police officer. in one message he said he was, quote, sitting at box office style booth checking i.d.s for entrance into a building. court documents say he sent a sexually explicit photo of himself. he was relieved of duty last week and put on leave. prosecutors say after
he was arrested, he admitted sending some explicit messages while he was on duty at the white house. >> pete, thank you. a stunning verdict late today in the sensational trial of an aging mobster accused of playing a part in one of the most infamous heists in history, one that became the basis for the hollywood classic "goodfellas." after weeks of testimony revealed details about the heist we never knew until now. the jury says he's not guilty. rehema ellis has the courtroom drama. >> it looks like a big one. >> reporter: it was a heist so big, so bold they made a movie out of it. "goodfellas" told the tale of the daring 1978 heist at the lufthansa airline terminal at kennedy airport that netted $6 million in cash and jewels. it was then the biggest cash robbery in u.s. history. for almost 40 years, no one was ever convicted of the crime, and today that remains the case.
late this afternoon, the man charged with helping to plan it, 80-year-old reputed mobster vincent asaro walked out of federal court in brooklyn a free man, not guilty of all charges, including racketeering and extortion. >> i'd like to thank my two lawyers. without them i wouldn't be here now. i'd like to thank u.s. marshal service for treating me great. >> reporter: it was a stunning defeat for the government and its star witness, asaro's own cousin who turned on him and wore a wire to gather evidence against asaro. today when asked about his cousin, asaro said -- >> you don't want to know. >> it's probably beyond mob betrayal. it's a blood betrayal. >> reporter: asaro had never been linked to the heist until his arrest last year. based on those secret recordings in which he complained he never got his fair share of the loot. little of the money was ever recovered, and tonight, still no justice almost four decades later. rehema ellis, nbc
news, new york. turmoil at the university of missouri has now led to a major shift in power. days after the school's president resigned following protests over his handling of racial incidents, an african-american has been named as his interim replacement. as jacob rascon reports, the student movement is spreading far beyond that campus. >> reporter: it was time for new leadership at the university of missouri and they chose michael middleton. >> i completely understand the frustration of our students, faculty, staff and community. >> reporter: the former deputy chancellor, now the interim president. >> it is imperative that we hear all of our students and do everything we can to make them comfortable and safe. >> reporter: also today, 19-year-old hunter park faced his charges. >> we believe he is a danger. >> reporter: court documents revealing he admitted to having deep interest in an active shooter incident which left
nine students dead, an apparent reference to last month's rampage at umpqua community college at oregon. at northwest missouri state university, police arrested another student for threats against blacks. and today the fbi began looking into threats against black students at howard university. but missouri has ignited a movement from ithaca college to yale. >> the presidents of universities are looking at now. it's reactionary when students have been trying to tell them to be proactive. but they haven't been paying attention. >> reporter: from virginia commonwealth to vanderbilt, university of iowa to the university of southern california. thousands are standing with mizzou. >> this shows the power that engaged students can have in creating change on their college campuses. >> reporter: the dean of students resigned at claremont mckenna college, as protesters demanded better treatment for
hispanics. back in missouri, many see the interim president as a perfect fit, a former civil rights attorney and student activist who fought similar issues on the same campus 50 years ago. now he says it's time for missouri to step forward and be a leader. lester? >> jacob rascon, thanks. ben carson is facing new questions about his friendship with a convicted felon. carson has taken a hard line on health care fraud, yet as chris jansing explains, he fought to keep his friend from going to prison for that very same offense. >> reporter: ben carson calls alfonso costa his very best friend. he is a driving force behind carson's charity, owner of a resort where carson vacations, but also a convicted felon. working out of this office as an oral surgeon, costa pled guilty in 2008 scamming more than $40,000 from insurance companies. nbc spoke exclusively
to the prosecutor today. >> he caused the insurance companies to finance the expansion of his business. >> reporter: as first reported by the associated press, in a bid for leniency, ben carson wrote a letter to the judge saying next to my wife of 32 years, there is no one on this planet i trust more. he testified at costa's sentencing. they became friends because our value systems were almost identical, adding, i love him. >> fraud is fraud. dr. costa pleaded guilty to fraud. >> reporter: costa avoided prison, getting three years of probation, including a year under house arrest in this mansion outside of pittsburgh. even that sentence was reduced by a year because of his work with carson's charity. but four years after carson appealed for leniency for his friend he argued the opposite for everyone else. calling for a saudi arabian solution for
fraud, not advocating chopping off people's limbs, but stiff penalties. no less than ten years in prison and loss of all of one's personal possessions. costa and his lawyer declined comment. no comment from carson, arriving at a fund-raiser tonight. in a statement today said of costa, i know his heart. i am proud to call him my friend. i have always and will continue to stand by him. that is what real friends do. it's been a lucrative friendship. when ben carson filed papers to run for president, they show he and his wife earned between $200,000 and $2 million a year from his business association with costa. lester? >> chris jansing, thank you. there is new hope on the way for american women unable to conceive a child because they don't have a uterus or theirs is damaged. moving to a new frontier in modern medicine, the cleveland clinic will perform the first womb transplant in america. eight women are taking part in the screening process. such transplants have been done previously with donated uteruses on nine women in sweden. four successfully have given birth. a pastor's
authorities believe it was a home invasion robbery. as nbc ron mott reports, a church and close community are left devastated. >> reporter: she was a young wife and mother settling into a new life in indianapolis with her pastor husband to start a new church. but on tuesday morning, police say 28-year-old amanda blackburn was shot in the head and later died, the victim of a home invasion and robbery. two weeks ago pastor davie blackburn posted this video to his blog. >> your wife is your best friend, someone you should be willing to lay your life down for. >> reporter: tuesday he discovered his wounded wife after coming home from a workout. >> we found an adult victim inside the home unconscious with head trauma. and she was transported to methodist hospital in critical condition. >> reporter: the couple have a toddler son who was home at the time and unharmed and amanda was pregnant with their second child. they moved to indianapolis from south carolina three years ago and founded
resonate church who offers bible studies and blogs. amanda's killing rattled the neighborhood. police say there was a separate burglary hours before she was found. >> for something like that, such a brazen attack, they had a weapon and shot somebody, it makes you scared. you don't want to live in fear, but you can't be paralyzed by that. >> reporter: police released no further details. tonight there are no arrests. ron mott, nbc news, chicago. we are back in a moment with the birth control mix-up that more than 100 women found out about after it was too late.
finally, before tonight, only nine living veterans of our nation's longest war received the medal of honor. that number rose to ten today in a moving ceremony at the white house. nbc's jim miklazewski has the harrowing tale of an american hero awarded the nation's highest military honor. >> reporter: it was three years ago first lieutenant florent groberg led his team on a deadly mission that changed their lives forever. >> always would be the worst day of my life. >> reporter: it was supposed to be a routine operation in afghanistan. he and his six-man security team guarding a group of high-ranking u.s. and afghan commanders. suddenly two men on motorcycles come speeding around a corner, a clear diversion. out of nowhere a third man walked backwards toward the formation. >> he's a threat and i can't shoot him because i can't see a weapon him. >> reporter: sergeant andrew mahoney and groberg knew instinctively this was a suicide bomber. >> he wasn't looking at us.
>> reporter: the two americans rush the bomber pushing him away from the other americans. >> reporter: this was a walking bomb and both of you confronted him. >> i hit him, grabbed him, start pushing him and threw him. mahoney comes and pushes him down and then he just detonated at my feet. >> reporter: miraculously both survived the blast. three american soldiers and a foreign service officer were killed. groberg was seriously wounded. after three years of rehab and 33 surgeries, he's back on his feet. today a visibly emotional groberg was at the white house where he received the medal of honor from president obama. >> on his very worst day he managed to summon his very best. >> reporter: long after afghanistan, he still wears a bracelet with the four who died. >> we do the best we could as a team and it's combat. that's the reality of
it. >> reporter: jim miklazewski, nbc news, the pentagon. >> that will do it for us on this thursday night. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching and good night. standoff in san francisco. newly released surveillance video shows the shooter at st. holdup in san bruno before a standoff in san francisco. newly released surveillance video shows the shooter at st. luke's hospital stealing the rifle he used to terrorize the mission district. what police say he said to that clerk explained why he ended at the top of a construction site. >> i'm raj mathai. step by step, crime by crime, police are piecing together this bizarre chain of events that unfolded last night during our
6:00 newscast. tonight there's new information. this is what we saw from our nbc chopper. police confronts the man who climbed atop that building and started shooting towards st. luke's hospital. it's right across the street there. about an hour before police say he stole that gun in san bruno. what does that surveillance video reveal? >> police say he entered holding what looked like a paper advertisement. but managers found out. surveillance video shows 25-year-old javier lopez garcia holding a handgun by his waist telling the manager of this big five sporting goods store in san bruno to hand over the shotgun. this same shotgun investigators say he pointed from a rooftop at st. luke's hospital and then at officers before he was shot and killed by police. >> it was strange because he