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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  October 29, 2018 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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right now not that bad. >> thanks for joining us here at 5:00. lester holt is next. >> have a good night. tonight, the synagogue massacre and the accused mass murderer out of a hospital and wheeled into court as prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty. an emotional outpouring in pittsburgh for the victims. the oldest, 97. and tonight, harrowing survival stories just emerging, including a man who hid in a closet as the carnage unfolded. >> i hear the shots, then quiet, and then more shots, and then quiet. ro ng anti-semitism in america fueled by conspiracy theories. plus, the president's response, declaring it pure evil, but also seeming to blame the synagogue security, joking about his hair, tweeting taunts about the world series, and again calling the media the true enemy of the people at a moment of national
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tragedy. another deadly shooting in an american school. a student opening fire. a growing mystery after a horrific air disaster. a brand-new plane suddenly plunges into the sea, likely killing all 189 people on board. pentagon sending over 5,000 active-duty troops to the border. another mail bomb found as authorities scramble to warn dozens who were on the accused bomber's list of potential targets. a school bus swept away when police say the driver ignored the warnings. a frantic rescue and that driver now facing charges. and our remarkable spotlight on a remarkable woman who made a radical change to chase her dreams. now she's defying gravity. >> announcer: this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. >> good evening, everyone. the man accused of killing 11 jewish worshippers out of pure hate faced justice today, softly answering routine questions during his first court appearance. while amid the wave of
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sadness engulfing communities of faith from pittsburgh to across this country and beyond, there were stirring demonstrations of solidarity. the story of the tree of life synagogue vividly told through the life stories of those who couldn't escape saturday's withering attack. their deaths the result of an evil and motivation so many of us are struggling to understand. we've got it all covered tonight, starting with nbc's pete williams. >> shots fired! >> reporter: two days after the shooting rampage, the first court appearance for 46-year-old robert bowers of pittsburgh, just out of the hospital, treated for wounds he received during a gun battle with police that left four officers injured. wheeled into court, he said he understood the bowers faces 29 counts, the most serious, killing people engaged in federally protected religious worship. that carries a maximum penalty of death upon conviction, and the u.s. attorney says he will recommend seeking it. >> rest assured, we have a team of prosecutors working hard to ensure that
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justice is done. >> reporter: according to investigators, while bowers was firing inside the tree of life synagogue and again after he was arrested, he said he wanted to kill jews. the fbi says he was armed with an ar-15 assault-style rifle and three handguns like these, and used them all during the rampage. his social media posts seethe with anti-semitic hatred, including hias, a group that helps refugees, which bowers called haters. gab says it's been cooperating with the fbi. his post suggests that he knew that a congregation meeting at the pittsburgh synagogue saturday was helping in that refugee effort. he also said he did not support or vote for donald trump. and unlike package bomb defendant cesar sayoc, who plastered political views on his van, neighbors said bowers did not spout hate to them. >> nothing that would stand out, like the most terrifying thing is just how normal he seemed. >> reporter: a loner who the fbi says was
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unknown to law enforcement before saturday. pete williams, nbc news, washington. ♪ >> reporter: i'm miguel almaguer in pittsburgh. near the tree of life synagogue, a tribute to the victims. but as clear as the hymns is the haunting sound of gunfire for barry werber, who was hiding in a closet. >> back, bang, bang! afraid that the next shot i hear will be a bullet in my back. >> reporter: rabbi jeffrey myers also escaped with his life but cannot outrun survivor's guilt. >> i'm in pain because i wonder what more could i have done? i left them, my congregants, and i have to live with that the rest of my life. >> reporter: the 11 lost, pillars of the close-knit jewish community. rose mallinger young at heart. her granddaughter survived. daniel stein just became a grandfather.
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most survivors say richard gottfried was the heart of the synagogue. >> it's just unbelievable that someone so full of life is gone in an instant. >> reporter: his sisters, debbie and bonnie are stunned. their other sister, carol, was inside the synagogue and survived, a blessing and a tragedy for the same family. >> i'm devastated. i mean, he was my baby brother. >> reporter: lives lost and saved, forever intertwined, a community in need of its faith now more than ever before. as this community tries to heal, many are divided as the president is coming to pittsburgh tomorrow. many jewish leaders say the president must denounce white nationalism, but the rabbi here at the tree of life says he is welcome at any time. lester? >> all right, miguel almaguer, thank you. the synagogue massacre is the most extreme example of a disturbing increase in anti-semitic incidents across the country
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recently. for more on that, we turn to nbc's stephanie gosk. stephanie, how much of a threat are jewish institutions across the country facing? >> reporter: well, lester, security's beefed up at this synagogue in new york, like others around the country. the reality is that anti-semitism is on the rise with dramatic spikes in just the last couple of years. robert bowers' anti-semitic rants as he gunned down the faithful in pittsburgh were fueled online, in chat rooms and on social media, where like-minded hate thrives. for an increasing number of american jews, the holocaust references and celebration of genocide found on the internet are not just aberrations, but a fact of everyday life. >> the problem that we have today is not that anti-semitism is here. it has always existed. but now the extremists seem to have a license to operate. >> reporter: the anti-defamation league reports that after years of steady decreases, there has dramaticcidents, up nearly
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60% between 2016 and 2017 including assaults, harassment, and vandalism. jewish community centers faced a nationwide string of bomb threats. jewish cemeteries were desecrated. perhaps the most dramatic example before this weekend was the rally of white supremacists in charlottesville. [ crowd chanting ] chants of "jews will not replace us" amid the torches. >> i think what we need are people in positions of authority to speak out quickly, firmly, and forcefully with anti-semitism and any other form of intolerance emerges. >> reporter: now many hope what's believed to be the deadliest attack on american jews in u.s. history is the wake-up call the country needs. stephanie gosk, nbc news, new york. >> when the president visits pittsburgh tomorrow, he'll once again find himself viewed through the lens of consoler in chief, a role critics
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say he's failed to fill in the wake of tragedies. while this massacre also brings increased attention to the gun control debate. here's nbc's andrea mitchell. >> reporter: at times of national tragedy, americans look to their leaders for comfort. >> this wicked act of mass murder is pure evil. >> reporter: but shortly after the massacre, president trump seemed to be blaming the synagogue for not having an armed guard. >> if they had protection inside, the results would have been far better. >> reporter: joking that he should have canceled his appearances not because the nation was in mourning, but because of his hair. >> i said, maybe i should cancel this arrangement because i have a bad hair day. >> reporter: and while promising restraint -- >> i'm going to tone it down just a little bit. is that okay? [ audience reacts ] no? >> reporter: he still went on the attack. >> if the press was fair, i'd have a much different tone all the time, but i'm fighting the media. >> reporter: and just before media, trolled the dodgers' manager on twitter for an ill-fated pitching change. in the past,
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presidents have tried to unify the country. >> we know of your anguish. we share it. >> we will stand with you. for as many tomorrows as it takes. >> our unity is a kinship of grief and a steadfast resolve to prevail against our enemies. ♪ amazing grace >> reporter: vice president pence rejected linking the president's rhetoric to acts of violence. >> everyone has their own style. and frankly, people on both sides of the aisle use strong language. >> reporter: but is it a matr unite the nation at a time of crisis. i have never seen a president in history who has worked so hard to pit group against group and benefit from it politically. >> reporter: a president challenged to be consoler in chief. andrea mitchell, nbc news. >> reporter: this is hallie jackson at the white house. to prevent another pittsburgh, president
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trump's floating an idea he's brought up before -- more guns in the hands of good guys to stop a bad guy. >> if there was an armed guard inside the temple, they would have been able to stop him. maybe there would have been nobody killed, except for him, frankly. >> reporter: still, the president says he hates to think of filling places of worship with armed guards. on that, he finds common ground with local faith leaders. >> if we were to simply arm more of us, if that were the solution, simply misunderstands the responsibility each of us has, and the president in particular to lead us in the direction of peaceful co-existence. >> reporter: while the national conversation centers more around toxic political rhetoric than guns, gun control has become an animating issue in some midterm races, like in georgia. democratic candidate lucy mcbath talks openly about the death of her son, killed by a man complaining about loud rap music in his car. >> when my son was murdered, i vowed to make a difference. >> reporter: now her grief fuels her candidacy. she and others, like
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democrat chrissie houlihan, running for congress outside philadelphia, are making gun control a central part of their campaigns. but so are many republicans fighting against it. >> i own guns that no one's taking away. >> reporter: a familiar message, and they believe a winning one. still, recent polls show the issue of guns is not one of the top motivating factors for most voters ahead of the midterms. >> as this plays out, tell us about this new announcement by the trump administration regarding the southern border. >> reporter: lester, 1,500 active-duty armed troops loaded with things like barbed wire will be deployed to the southwest border by the end of the week. 2,000 national guard members are already there, so this roughly puts the same number of troops on the border as in syria and iraq combined. the president in a new interview says deployment is the response to the caravan of central american migrants and refugees still 1,000 miles away. president trump's focus on that caravan has been blasted by his critics, who say it's an alarmist tactic meant to
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provoke fear and mobilize his base ahead of election day. lester? >> hallie jackson at the white house, thank you. tonight there's word of another deadly burst of gunfire in an american school, this time a high school in matthews, north carolina, near charlotte, where police say one 16-year-old student fatally shot another. the confrontation caught on camera. a fight in the hallway just before the gunfire. now to that growing air disaster mystery. a boeing passenger plane, the company's most recent design, suddenly plunging into the sea, likely killing all 189 people on board. it happened off the coast of indonesia. the black boxes still not found, and the question is, what caused a brand-new plane to go down in clear skies? our chief foreign correspondent, richard engel, has late details. >> reporter: it's still a mystery tonight what this brand-new plane to crash into the ocean. passengers' cell phones and baggage floating in the water, but search teams haven't found any survivors. and the families of
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189 passengers, crew, and pilots are now facing the heartbreaking possibility -- they're likely all gone. lion air jt-610 departed jakarta at 6:20 a.m. for the one-hour, ten-minute flight to pangkal pinang. it was level around 5,000 feet when the crew suddenly asked to return to jakarta. flight radar data shows the aircraft descending normally, until the last 20 seconds, when it started to descend very rapidly. >> i think the people on board knew there was something terribly wrong, but the exact severity, it's hard to say. >> reporter: the plane was a n uate of the 737, the most popular jet in history. it's the first time the newer 737 max has crashed. no indication of terrorism. the aircraft, according to the airline, had an unspecified mechanical problem the day before, which lion air executives insist was
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corrected before it took off. lion air has a spotty safety record, along with several indonesian carriers. the low-cost airline was banned from flying into the united states and europe, but improved in recent years. lester? >> richard engel tonight, thanks. tonight, investigators say they found another apparent mail bomb again directed to cnn, and officials are scrambling to warn dozens of people on the accused serial bomber's list of potential targets. the suspect, cesar sayoc, choosing to remain silent. investigators still don't know how many package bombs may be out there. here's nbc's kerry sanders. >> reporter: package bomb number 15 discovered today in an atlanta post office. in an image shared by cnn, it's similar to the 14 other devices the fbi says. in miami federal court today, 56-year-old suspect caesar sayoc was surrounded by his three defense attorneys. he charges, including mailing explosives, but his defense tea him
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was preliminary, and the other evidence just possible dna association. >> nothing else in that complaint ties mr. sayoc to anything else in these allegations. >> reporter: federal law enforcement officials tell nbc news they've uncovered a list of more than 100 people researched by sayoc. each person on that list now being contacted by the fbi. lester? >> all right, kerry sanders. thanks. also ahead, mr. rogers' real-life neighborhood. his link and message to the pittsburgh community touched by tragedy. but first, dash cam video, a school bus swept away by floods. then, celebrating 15 years on by "wicked" good time. behind the scenes with its remarkable star. ♪
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we are back now with dramatic, new dash cam video that shows terrifying moments inside a school bus suddenly swept away by floodwaters. a frantic mission to rescue those on board. and as gabe gutierrez tells us, that bus driver is now facing charges.
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>> reporter: it was a dangerous decision caught on camera. in leander, texas, a school bus driver blows past a barricade heading down a closed road. dash cam video shows the murky floodwaters ahim, but he doesn't stop, despite having a 12-year-old child inside. the bus begins to tip over, then floats, finally wedging itself amongst some trees. >> there's really not any words because there's just -- i was -- i had so much anxiety. i was shaking. >> reporter: ashley ringstaff's 12-year-old son, jason, was on board the bus and called her in a panic as it floated away. somehow, he survived. >> so i got in the ambulance with them and i was just -- we were just crying and holding each other. >> reporter: the bus driver, nathan deyou deyoung, is now out of a job and charged with endangerment of a child and failure to obey warning signs. >> i didn't think that someone could be that stupid, especially a bus driver. that's a parent's worst nightmare. >> reporter: she wants this video to serve as a reminder to anyone who mistakenly thinks it's a smart idea to
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take a chance. gabe gutierrez, nbc news. coming up, the tragedy in his neighborhood. what we can still learn from mr. rogers.
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many were struck to learn the pittsburgh community where the synagogue shooting unfolded is literally ""mister rogers' neighborhood,"" where fred rogers really lived. now many are finding comfort in his words of kindness. here's harry smith. >> reporter: there was a two-hour wait to give blood in pittsburgh today. it's what neighbors do. we couldn't help but mr. rogers, had lived just blocks from the synagogue. he had a message about tragedy for the children who watched his show. >> my mother would try to find out who was helping the person who got hurt. always look for the people who are helping, she'd tell us. you'll always find somebody who's trying to help. >> reporter: the helpers didn't hesitate saturday. scores of first responders rushed to
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the emergency, selflessly facing danger head on. already inside was jerry rabinowitz, trying to help people while already wounded. and then the jewish family brothers and sisters. they've already raised a significant amount of money for the victims but want to do more. >> we just want to know what you need, you know? if it's more money, let us know. if it's people outside your next service protecting you, let us know, we'll be there. [ applause ] >> reporter: the people of pittsburgh are making it clear that hate won't win, not here, not in their neighborhood. harry smith, nbc news. up next, celebrating 15 years of "wicked" with a star who left a successful career behind to chase her dreams. >> announcer: "nbc nightly news" is
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brought to you by pacific life, protecting generations of families for 150 years. that's the power of pacific. nobody wants to walk a
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the big cat sighting triggering police escorts in the when a mountain lion is in the neighborhood, nobody wants to walk alone. triggering police escorts in the bay right now. pull the plug -- the community bracing for a possible power outage next. i realiz been a fair amount of grim news today, so let's leave you on an up note and tell you about the musical "wicked," celebrating 15 years on broadway. tonight, an nbc special goes inside ♪ jessica journey to broadway was more unusual than most. >> it's pretty surreal. this is the theater that "wicked" opened in 15 years ago. >> like her character, elphaba in "wicked," she's being true to herself, walking away from a lucrative finance career ten years ago. >> it was really
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lucrative. my parents were thrilled because it was something that had stability. i would have a feeling of, did i just ruin my life? >> now you're sitting, working on the stage of the most successful broadway show out there. in the 15 years since it opened, "wicked" has been seen by more than 55 million people worldwide. for the show's original stars, idina menzel and kristin chenoweth, roles of a lifetime that continue to inspire. ♪ >> it just means that "wicked" lives on, the message lives on. that is the best feeling that an artist can have. >> reporter: now, jessica vosk embodying that message, defying gravity and expectations. >> if you had told me this was going to happen even five or six years ago, i would have laughed. >> i want to remember this moment always. nobody's staring. nobody's pointing for the first time, i am somewhere where i
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belong. >> you can hear more of the witches of "wicked" past and present tonight on nbc. right now at 6: we have new developments tonight in the case of an off- duty paramedic -- shot and everything in your life is on hold. new developments in the case of an off-duty paramedic shot and killed in the oakland hills. plus, microclimate weather alert. this is a live look in san rafael where high winds are expected to whip up fire danger. test moments in pleasanton. the search happening now for a mountain liolion. the news at 6:00 starts right now. good evening, thanks for being with us on this monday. i'm raj mathai. i'm jessica aguirre. we brought you live pictures at 5:00. this is pleasanton. a major development in the past few moments. police say the mountain lion, they may have it surrounded in a tree somewhere. you can see it on the right side of your screen. that's where police are focusing
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their attention. this was initially around 4:30. the tree hur looking at faces a strip mall across from a lucky's. sky ranger is over that area right now. this is not far from the dmv. also, this is right near the pleasanton sports park. we spoke with employees of the businesses. they were escorted by police to their cars. fish and wildlife officers are asking people to stay away from the area until they confirm that the area is safe. live sky range erk, police are focusing the attention, seem to be looking at one of the trees. at this point, we're presuming that they think the mountain lion may be in that tree. again, this is facing a little strip mall o

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