tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC June 17, 2016 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
developing news tonight. a major fire emergency now scorching ten states, fueled by a blistering heat wave. tonight 911 calls, new evacuations, and a wall of flames shutting down a major highway. red flags, tracing the killer's money trail leading up to the attack, cashing out of a home, running up big bills. was he preparing for the end. and what did his family know. banned from the olympics. a punishment without precedent. the entire russian track and field team banished over a bombshell doping scandal. a world power knocked out of rio. putin vowing to fight. critical mission. iraqi forces retake much of the isis stronghold of fallujah where so many americans died. and changes after tragedy. what's being done tonight at disney. is it enough. "nightly news" begins right now.
>> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. good evening. wildfires are exploding coast to coast right now, an early and destructive start to the fire season due in part to a blistering heat wave gripping much of the country. one of the biggest fires burning right now is in southern california, near santa barbara, where drivers on a major freeway had a close call, coming face to face with a virtual wall of flame. nearly a dozen states from california to florida are battling wildfires. nbc's gadi schwartz is on the front lines and has late developments. >> reporter: an orange glow over california's pacific coast highway. >> bad news here. >> reporter: plumes of smoke darkening the sky. >> that fire's moving really, really quick. >> reporter: forcing this major artery to shut down as flames move closer. you see this wall of flame coming down the hill. when people saw that
on the 101 freeway, they stopped. up ahead, nobody can go any further because there's zero visibility. firefighters held back the flames, at one point a helicopter dousing the freeway. hundreds evacuated like the key family who had to sleep in their car. >> we were wondering is it going to consume us? this is pretty close. >> reporter: in new mexico, the doghead fire has destroyed dozens of homes, torched 16,000 rural acres. and is prompting the evacuations of several mountain communities. >> we're trying to fight the fire. the border line around the town right now. just to control it. >> reporter: the governor declaring a disaster and calling in the national guard. there are now fires burning in ten states. so far this year, nearly 2 million acres burned, compared to only half a million this time last year. fueled by five years of drought and now
fanned by an enormous heat wave stretching from georgia to california. >> everything's coming together to be a worst case scenario. >> reporter: but the concerns over heat extend well beyond wildfire. two deaths in two days in texas, one where a child climbed inside a hot car. some 60 million people under heat watches and advisories. while the temperatures continue to climb, the worst of the heat expected this weekend. meanwhile, air operations continue out here with these drops being made around the clock. and there are very serious concerns tonight about air quality issues in this area. people with respiratory issues are being asked to stay inside. lester? >> gadi schwartz in the thick of it tonight, thank you, gadi. we're learning new information about the possible warning flags raised by the orlando nightclub gunman in the months before his attack, and about his relationship with his wife. as chilling new accounts emerge of that night from survivors who took refuge in a restroom during the massacre. nbc's miguel almaguer has late details. >> oh, my god. >> reporter: much of the massacre that left 49 dead was captured on multiple cameras. law enforcement
officials say the video likely shows dozens hit by gunfire. this as we learn more about the gunman's wife, salman. after the shooting, a source close to salman said she turned over an ipad, laptops and cell phones. a family member tells nbc news she was beaten and battered though she never told investigators she was abused. salman did not deny her husband was mentally unstable and would snap. investigators say prior to the shooting, mateen made more purchases on his credit card, as if he wasn't worried about paying them back. and also transferred his share of a home to his sister for $10. two and a half months before the shooting, his wife a witness. the fbi showed salman pictures of the couple shopping at walmart, where mateen bought ammunition, which we now know was not used in the shootings. >> i just remember him laughing -- >> reporter: miguel was inside this bathroom as mateen pumps round after round into his
victims. 30 people were trapped inside. six made it out alive. >> you can hear him, like in different rooms, dropping the clips to the guns and putting in a new one and shooting people again. you know he was shooting at people when you heard the screaming and people begging for their lives. >> reporter: tonight the heartbreaking memorials for those who didn't survive. funerals across the region are under way. so much unimaginable grief. so many unanswered questions. a senior law enforcement official tells nbc news, so far no gay dating apps have been found on the gunman's phone, despite earlier claims. tonight we also know documents reveal that in 2007, the gunman who was taking a correctional officers class talked to another student about bringing a gun to campus. lester? >> so much continuing to unravel. miguel, thank you. now the race to the white house and now gop anxiety tonight over donald trump. and his shaky poll numbers, and what his candidacy could mean for republicans running all across the
country. trump having none of it, telling party leaders to toughen up. now the top republican in washington is raising eyebrows with what he's telling nbc news. our hallie jackson has details. >> reporter: in texas today, where everything's bigger, so is donald trump's gap nationwide with hillary clinton. a trump slump starting to show in his sinking poll numbers. with today, the most powerful republican in congress telling nbc's chuck todd his house members don't have to back trump. >> the last thing i would do is tell anybody to do something that's contrary to their conscience. of course i wouldn't do that. this is a very strange situation. it's a very unique nominee. i feel as a responsibility institutionally as the speaker of the house that i should not leave a chasm in the middle of the party. that would definitely knock us out of the white house. >> reporter: donald trump with his own advice to party leaders -- >> either stick together or let me just do it by myself. >> reporter: he might have to, eventually, abandoned by more
high-profile republicans, with some concerned trump will be a down ballot drag. it's why former president george w. bush is now hitting the campaign trail, not for the top of the ticket, but for vulnerable senators, to help the gop keep its majority in case trump implodes. and today, nbc news has learned from gop delegates in colorado they're moving forward with plans for a convention coup in cleveland. hoping to oust trump. donald trump in a phone conversation late tonight is responding to speaker ryan, saying vote your conscience advice, says president bush helping those vulnerable senators, can't be thrilled trump beat jeb bush. trump told me he's not worried about the polling, insisting
he's not really started his campaign yet. he's been a nominee since early may. now to an olympic stunner. russia's track and field team told there will be no change of heart. the team is banned from competing in the rio summer games because of a massive doping conspiracy. russian president vladimir putin is calling the ruling unfair. but the international association of athletics federation says russia's doping program went too deep for the team to be allowed back on the world stage. nbc's keir simmons has details. >> reporter: unprecedented ban. russia's track and field team told not to travel to rio. >> russian athletes could not credibly return to international competition without undermining the confidence of their competitors and the public. >> reporter: after an avalanche of doping allegations -- >> the deep-seated culture of tolerance, or worse, for doping that got rousseff suspended in the first place appears not to have been changed materially to date. >> reporter: russia's head of athletics -- >> i think the main feeling is a bit disappointing. >> reporter: even after acknowledging weeks ago russia has a doping problem. do you accept doping has been widespread in
russia? >> also -- mainly, yes. i think mainly, yes. >> reporter: he says russia has been cleaning up. president putin's last-minute lobbying today, calling it a mistake to mix politics with sports, failed. for seven months, russia fought to get its track and field ban lifted in time for rio. nbc news given rare access to a top moscow training facility. hundreds of russian athletes train here in 32 different sports. the entire elite facility, a symbol of russia's determination to win. world champion high jumper maria is unlikely to compete. have you ever doped? >> no. >> never? >> never. >> reporter: russia says clean athletes' dreams are being destroyed. but after allegations of russian broken promises and even
bribes, today the world track and field ran out of patience. the decision today left the door open for some russian athletes training abroad to try to compete as neutral athletes. tonight president putin called the ban unjust, and says he'll seek the intervention of the ioc, and the world's anti-doping agency. lester? >> keir simmons, thank you. now to major developments tonight in the fight against isis. iraqi forces looking to retake one of the largest cities in the country controlled by isis, fallujah. a name familiar to a lot of americans, because so many american troops died there fighting. our chief foreign correspondent richard engel has the latest on this critical mission. >> reporter: the liberation today for some desperate iraqis trapped in the city of fallujah. they ran for help when iraqi counterterrorism forces moved in. they claim isis was holding them as human shields. we lived in fear, and in starvation, one woman said. fallujah, where 100 u.s. troops died fighting extremists 12 years ago, has been the target of a drawn-out iraqi assault.
until suddenly today, isis resistance in the center of the city seemed to collapse. although isis continues to hold pockets in the city, it's still the first successful operation against isis in iraq in months. a major boost for the iraqi government. across the border, in syria, another government is making advances, too. president assad, a man president obama said should go, has been on a devastating campaign, taking land, killing civilians, while the white house has remained mostly silent. and now that inaction has triggered more than 50 state department officials to break ranks. launching a sharp internal complaint calling for air strikes, saying washington should do more to pressure assad. secretary kerry responded tonight. >> i think it's an important statement, and i respect the process very, very much. >> reporter: analysts say the white house is unlikely to change its policy of focusing on
isis while critics say turning a blind eye to assad's forces responsible for the vast majority of the 400,000 deaths in syria over the past five years. lester? >> all right, richard, thank you. disturbing new allegations about the man accused of killing a rising lawmaker in great britain. police now looking into possible ties between the suspect and neo nazis. all of it coming before a crucial vote that will impact the u.s. and the world. here's nbc's kelly cobiella. >> reporter: possible new clues behind the deadly ambush of jo cox. police now investigating whether the reported suspect, 52-year-old tommy mair, had links to right-wing extremists. these documents uncovered allegedly tying mair to the neo nazi organization the national alliance. >> we have documentary proof of his connections with the national alliance between 1999 and 2003.
>> reporter: like this receipt for books, including one on how to make a gun. in a country where gun laws are strict, and gun violence rare, witnesses said the weapon could have been homemade. >> probably a homemade gun. >> reporter: new clues to the suspect's motives may tie into a historic vote next week about whether britain will break away from euro. the suspect reportedly yelled, britain first, a rallying cry for the anti immigrant groups who want to leave the eu. cox wanted to stay. >> our communities have been deeply enhanced by integration. >> reporter: the high stakes vote critical for the u.s., too. if britain leaves, a domino effect could send american 401(k)s plunging. >> the stock market impact will be immediate and significant, much more so than an economic one. >> reporter: tonight both sides here are suspending their campaigns while a stunned nation mourns. kelly cobiella, nbc news, london. back here at home, police discovered an apparent house of horrors in bucks
county, pennsylvania. 12 girls ranging from 6 months to 18 years old were found in the home of a 51-year-old man who is under arrest on statutory sexual assault charges. police say he also fathered two of the children with the oldest girl, and they're looking into claims that she was sold to the suspect by her parents. they are also in police custody. there's more to tell you about here tonight as disney world remains under fire for a fatal gator attack. what the theme park is doing to prevent more tragedies. while yet another family comes forward with claims of a dangerous encounter there. also, the on-court meltdown from the nba's mvp. the finals of dramatic winner take all moment.
disney world is now adding more protective barriers and warning signs following a deadly alligator attack earlier this week. taking action after that awful tragedy. but as more people come forward, claiming disney should have seen this coming, new questions are being raised. nbc's gabe gutierrez has more. >> reporter: facing a barrage of criticism for allowing alligators near its guests, today disney world started building temporary barriers and adding these signs around the seven seas lagoon. where 2-year-old lane graves was attacked. katy said it's about time. >> they should have put up signs and barriers a long time ago. >> reporter: four years ago her three young children and niece were playing on
a resort beach with buckets and shovels provided by disney workers. when a gator suddenly appeared. no one was hurt. >> wild alligators are living on the disney property, on these lakes, on these beaches that they encourage people to go to. >> reporter: disney said today it's working on long-term solutions for its beaches, reinforcing the training of its employees when dealing with wildlife and expanding its communication to guests. state officials say there are 1 million gators in florida. but disney world has a particular challenge. its mammoth 43 square miles built on a swamp. the attractions are connected by canals, that feed into lakes and lagoons, easy for wildlife to navigate. at another park universal orlando, owned by the sister company of nbc news, most of the bodies of water are separated by busy streets and parking. still, universal says out of abundance of caution, we've begun an audit of all our water bodies and signage.
today the me national oceanic and atmospheric administration hometown of the gray family came together over blue ribbons and lemonade. >> heartbreaking. >> i don't think words can describe it. >> reporter: the death of a little boy now prompting changes for millions of families at one of the world's largest tourist destinations. gabe gutierrez, nbc news, lake buena vista, florida. we'll take a short break. when we come back, a scary sight caught on camera as a famous rock star collapses on stage.
a rock star said to be on the mend this evening after a scary moment on stage caught on camera. fans were terrified when singer meat loaf collapsed near the end of his concert last night in canada. a spokesman said the 68-year-old was suffering severe dehydration. he was rushed to the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery. now to the high drama on the hardwood. a superstar's meltdown
and ejection last night as the topsy-turvy series is headed for a conclusive seventh game. fans can't get enough. and here's one of them, nbc's kevin tibbles. >> reporter: mouth guard meltdown. in the crucial fourth quarter of the crucial game six, golden state golden boy steph curry hurled his mouthpiece into the crowd. nailing this unsuspecting guy in the blue shirt. curry ejected for the first time ever apologized to the fan, the son of a cavs owner and the warriors went on to lose. curry's wife even tweeted the game was rigged for money or ratings. she deleted that. later tweeting, it was a heat of the moment thing. afterwards curry readily admitted he was a repeat offender. >> i usually aim at the scorer's table. i was off aim. >> reporter: curry apparently had enough of the needling from arch-nemesis lebron james, the prodigal son who returned home to unmake the
cavaliers mistakes on the lake and win their first championship. now a sunday showdown looms. >> greatest words in the world, gram seven. >> who's going to be the face of the league, steph curry, lebron james. everything gets settled in game seven. >> reporter: today the nba fined curry $25,000 for a mouth guard tantrum that might have included some double dribbling. kevin tibbles, nbc news, chicago. up next here tonight, the incredible moment in orlando. terror survivor rises to his feet again, as the city tries to do the same. announcement out of oakland.
==garvin/vo== another police chi o. details on his deparrand who's taking over. ===peggy/vo=== we uncover racists texts sent to officers. exclusive details. ===peggy/next close=== next. finally tonight, this week in orlando may have been the toughest in the city's history. but in the aftermath of tragedy, upon tragedy there, we've also seen the goodness in people. and now signs of healing, too. here's nbc's joe fryer. >> reporter: we've been here before, yet we still struggle to make sense of it all. how does one respond to the murders of so many innocent people? greg answered by hand delivering 49 white crosses to orlando, driving from chicago. >> my message today is love your neighbor, talk to them, love your brother. >> reporter: the human rights campaign reacted by turning its headquarters into a massive memorial to the victims, while utah's conservative
lieutenant governor spencer cox offered a public apology for how he acted toward the gay community when he was young. >> i regret not treating them with the kindness, dignity and respect, the love that they deserve. for that, i sincerely and humbly apologize. >> reporter: those who survived the shooting are moving forward, too. tony is now walking, his family briefly recording the moment like he's a kid taking his first steps. and angel cologne is giving thanks. >> i'm one of the ones that helped you get out of harm's way. >> reporter: uniting with the officer who pulled him out of the nightclub. just blocks away, in bloom florist is leading an effort helped by donations to provide free flowers, creating arrangements for at least 34 of the funerals. >> it's hard for me to wrap my head around that. >> reporter: their flowers a reminder this world is designed to make beautiful things.
let us remember the beauty that was lost and cherish all that remains. joe fryer, nbc news. that will do it for us on this friday. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, thank you for sorces tell us ting chiefpaul fn breaking news -- that breaking news in oakland. another chief out. at opd. sources tell us, acting chief paul figaroa has stepped down days after taking the job. tonight the city add stray tornadoes running the department. thank you very much for joining us this evening. i'm garvin thomas. >> i'm peggy bunker. and just named the acting interim chief wednesday. now that happened after city's mayor removed acting chief
replacing resigning chief sean went. now as this unfolds. another controversy is also brewing. this one involving racist text messages sent by oakland police commanders to several officers. jodi hernandez obtained some of the messages. jodi, the last thing the oakland police department needs. >> another bombshell. we got exclusive access to some disturbing and racially charged text messages allegedly sent by a commander to several officers on the department. tonight, civil rights attorneys say, if true, it is another big black eye for the department. as the oakland police department grapples waite growing sex scandal and a homicide investigator is accused of misconduct. racially charged text messages allegedly sent by police commander tony jones toou