tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC December 31, 2018 5:30pm-6:01pm PST
year a lot richer. >> i was wondering what my new year's resolution was going to be. i'm going to win the lottery. >> hey, that's a good one. >> done and done. >> and done. thank you so much for joining us tonight. "nightly news" is next. tonight, urgent manhunt. a 7-year-old girl killed when a gunman opens fire on a family out to get coffee. her injured mother speaking out from her hospital bed. >> he took away an innocent child that did not deserve this. she did not deserve this at all. >> to the, the gunman ill on the loose. ready to deal? the government shutdown set to enter the new year. but both sides signaling they're open to finally ending it, while a top democrat and trump adversary kicks off the battle for 2020. looking for answers after a lion kills a 22-year-old intern at a wildlife park. how did it escape? massive apartment
building explosion. several dead, dozens feared trapped in the rubble. tonight, the desperate search for survivors. the new twist in california's deadly wildfires. why a major power company could face murder charges. new outrage at louis c.k., the controversial comedian caught on tape mocking school shooting survivors. and celebrating new year's around the world. but here at home, powerful storms on the move. 70 million under advisories from the southwest to boston. security on high alert. al roker is here with the very latest. >> announcer: this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. good evening, i'm kristen welker in for lester tonight. we begin on this new year's eve with the desperate manhunt under way in texas after a 7-year-old girl was shot and killed while riding in a car with her mother on an early morning coffee run. her mother is still in the hospital but tonight she is speaking out through grief and tears with a
powerful message to the public, a plea to help find her daughter's killer. nbc's gabe gutierrez has the very latest. >> reporter: the gunshot wound in laporsha washington's left arm only begins to tell the horrifying story. >> i turned around and my 7-year-old was shot in the head. >> reporter: 7-year-old jazmine barnes was among her four daughters in the car around 7:00 a.m. sunday. from a hospital bed in houston, her mother tells us she was going to get coffee when a red pickup truck pulled up next to her near this walmart and a man she says she did not know started shooting. >> i told everybody to get down in the car and i reached over to take my daughter because she was right next to me. the shots came through my window. it came through the glass. i don't even know how my baby got shot. >> reporter: somehow she survived. but jazmine did not. >> jazmine is an outgoing, fun loving child. we was going to get
coffee. coffee. and my baby lost her life. >> reporter: now a desperate manhunt. late today sheriff's deputies released surveillance images of this mysterious red pickup truck. they're looking for possibly a man with a beard in his 40s. >> it was our believe that it was totally unprovoked. we're going to leave every motive out there as a possibility. >> reporter: tonight laporsha washington is pleading for the killer to turn himself in. >> you should step forward and take full responsibility for what you did to my child. i can't imagine living life without my baby. >> reporter: a mother in agony, wondering who would open fire on someone so innocent. gabe gutierrez, nbc news. >> just devastating. we turn now to the drama in washington. the new year set to begin with the government still in a partial shutdown. but today, new signs president trump and democrats may be ready to bring it to an end. we'll get the details
now from nbc's garrett haake. >> reporter: 2018 will end with the federal government still partially shut down. ten days in, the parties still divided over funding for the president's border wall, still not talking. >> the house will be in order. >> reporter: the house and senate in for just minutes with most lawmakers still out of town. service the senate stands adjourned until january 2nd, 2019. >> reporter: late tonight the president telling fox news. >> i'm here. i'm ready to go. it's very important. a lot of people are looking to get their paycheck. so i'm ready to go any time they want. we are not giving up. we have to have border security and the wall is a big part of border security, the biggest part. >> reporter: but what does the president actually want? mr. trump has shifted from a concrete wall that mexico would pay for to discussing steel slats or fencing. on sunday, chief of staff john kelly called the wall not actually a water.
incoming house speaker nancy pelosi plans to vote for a budget with $1.3 billion for border security, none of it for a wall, daring the senate republicans and the president to keep the government closed. >> this stark path doesn't have to be our future. we can make democracy work for all of us. >> reporter: opposition to the wall could become a theme for democrats challenging the president on the campaign trail. massachusetts senator elizabeth warren today becoming the most prominent democrat yet saying she's taking on mr. trump in 2020. >> we want government that works not just for the rich and powerful. we want a government that works for everyone. >> reporter: on fox news, the president welcoming warren to the race in typical trump style. >> do you really think she believes she can win? >> well, that i don't know. you would have to ask her psychiatrist. >> reporter: and tonight the nation's largest union of federal employees announced it's suing the government over
the shutdown on behalf of all of those essential workers who have had to work the last ten days without pay, often in dangerous conditions, kristen. >> the stalemate continues. all right, garrett haake, thank you for that report. and president trump also spent part of his new year's eve taking aim at some of america's top military minds as two more retired generals, john kelly and james mattis, serve out their final days in his administration. nbc's geoff bennett has that story. >> reporter: tonight the commander in chief locked in a war of words with his generals. president trump lashing out at those questioning his decision to withdraw u.s. troops from syria. >> if you pull american influence out, you're likely to have greater instability. >> reporter: mr. trump tweeting, some failed generals who were unable to do the job before i arrived like to complain about me and my tactics. retired four-star general stanley mcchrystal among those slamming trump's syria shift, while going a step further.
>> do you think he's a liar? >> i don't think he tells the truth. >> is trump immoral in your view? >> i think he is. >> reporter: that's as two of the men trump calls his generals exit the administration, john kelly out as chief of staff and defense secretary jim mattis resigning in protest over mr. trump's world view. >> i see my generals, the generals are going to keep us so safe. these are central casting. if i'm doing a movie, i would pick you, general. >> reporter: they're the latest in a string of former high ranging military officers who have been fired, pushed out, or quit the administration. >> there's only two civilians who can give instructions to the u.s. armed forces and that's the president of the united states and the secretary of defense. minus mattis, we ought to be concerned about that process. >> reporter: the break marks a turning point for mr. trump who has appointed more generals to senior positions than any other modern president, kristen. >> geoff, thank you. authorities in north carolina are looking for answers after a lion escaped
its locked enclosure at a wildlife park and killed a 22-year-old intern. nbc's catie beck has more. >> reporter: instead of celebration, a new year will begin in grief for family and friends of 22-year-old alexandra black. >> she loved everybody that she met and loved all the animals she came across. >> reporter: tonight, the north carolina sanctuary where she was killed by a lion remains closed to the public. investigators trying to understand how the animal was able to get out and kill black, an intern who had started just ten days ago. >> the person that was attacked, how bad are they hurt? >> they're incapacita incapacitated. >> reporter: the lion seen in this video was shot and killed by deputies. now animal rights group piete peta urges the center's closure, calling it a roadside zoo. it passed two recent inspections by the
usda and has no reported safety complaints. black's former co-worker at an indiana wildlife park says she died for a cause she loved. >> the world has lost a person who really was able to speak one on one and understanding their connection with animals. >> reporter: and tonight, black's family remembering her as a beautiful young woman who died following her passion. catie beck, nbc news. and now to the new backlash against a controversial comedian, louis c.k., who was accused last year of sexual misconduct, has sparked yet another outrage over leaked audiotape of him mocking school shooting survivors. here is nbc's stephanie gosk. >> i bet none of you had the same year i had. >> reporter: sexual misconduct allegations left louis c.k.'s career in tatters, all fodder for this recent stand-up act at a new
york comedy club that was leaked on line. >> i lost so much [ bleep ] in a day. >> reporter: but it was what louis c.k. had to say about school shooting survivors that is triggering an angry backlash. >> why does that mean i have to listen to you? how does that make you interesting? you didn't get shot. you pushed some fat kid in the way and now i've got to listen to you talking? >> reporter: last year, multiple women accused the 51-year-old of exposing himself without their consent. at the time the comedian admitted to misconduct, saying he acted irresponsibly. but added he felt the incidents were consensual and that he would step back and take a long time to listen. today a father whose children were victims of the shooting wrote to the comic. my daughter was killed in the parkland shooting. my son ran from the bullets. my wife and i deal with loss every day. why don't you come to my house and try out your new pathetic jokes? louis c.k., who has always pushed comedy's
boundaries, has not responded to a request for comment, while the club owner called the comedian a genius. the show, he says, got a standing ovation. stephanie gosk, nbc news, new york. we head overseas where search crews are scrambling to find survivors after a massive explosion rocked an apartment building on new year's eve in russia. at least four people were killed. nbc's lucy kafanov has the story. >> reporter: tonight rescue workers are racing through the clock to find survivors. dozens still unaccounted for after a gas explosion ripped through this nine-story apartment building. entire families believed trapped. "we don't know anything," this woman says. her family lived on the third floor. this video aired on russian state television, purportedly showings the moment of the blast which took place before dawn, while many slept in their beds. "we were sleeping and i woke up feeling like i was falling down," the survivor says. "the wall was gone.
my mother and son were screaming." with temperatures dropping to minus 11, authorities have deployed powerful heaters to help anyone trapped benooeeath the rubble. this new year's eve, it's a race against time and the elements. kristen? >> lucy, thank you. back home, just a few hours left in 2018. but on this new year's eve, 70 million people are under threat of severe weather. in times square, it's a wet night as people gather to watch the ball drop. security on high alert there and all around the globe as we ring in 2019. here is nbc's matt bradley. >> reporter: celebrations in sydney, blowouts in beijing, and bangkok. a party even in pyongyang, north korea. for more than half the world's population, it's already 2019. having literally running in the new year amid tight security, particularly new york's times square, where more than 7,000 police
officers are keeping watch along with sniffer dogs and surveillance cameras. >> we have thousands of cops working throughout the city, making sure no matter where you celebrate the new year, you're going to have a safe night. >> reporter: but the weather will be miserable. several northeastern cities already canceled their fireworks. still, the hardest of the hard core party people are gathering early in times square, braving rain, crowds, and a shortage of bathrooms. >> is that going to be fun? >> yes. >> it depends if our diapers fill up or not. >> are you wearing diapers? >> yes. >> 100%. >> reporter: for many, times square on new year's is a dream come true. >> it's new york city. the city never sleeps. look at the smiles, it's worth it. >> reporter: many travel from far and wide all to give 2019 an extra special start. >> we're getting married in 2019 and we wanted to start the new year off right. >> so you're celebrating your wedding by standing in the rain for 14 hours? >> it's true love. >> exactly.
>> reporter: everybody out here has been standing for hours, drenched in rain, without any umbrellas, which aren't allowed for security reasons. but i can tell you, kristen, everybody here is so psyched. i'm not even sure they noticed. kristen? >> i bet they are, matt, thank you for that report. lester will be out there in the weather tonight among the group invited to push the button for the ball drop in honor of press freedom. be sure to tune in. so how will that nasty weather impact your new year's plans? al roker is tracking it all for us. good evening, al. >> hey, good evening, kristen, and happy new year. and as we look at the radar, you can see we've got a pretty good line of showers and thunderstorms, especially down through the south and on into the southeast. and then as we move into the northeast, you can see heavy rain still pushing in. so it looks like it's going to be a soggy ball drop. snow making its way into northern new england. here is the forecast. we are looking for periods of rain, at least it's going to be warm. 40 degrees warmer than last year at this time. it was 9 degrees.
the first time it's rained in 24 years. and tomorrow, for the rose parade out here in pasadena, the sun is going to be out but it's going to be windy with wind gusts of up to 35 miles per hour thanks to santa anas and plenty of sunshine. kristen, it's looking like a pretty nice start to the new year, at least out west here. >> all right, we'll take it, and we won't miss that, thank you, al. and ahead, that new twist in the wildfire that killed 88 people. who could be facing murder charges? then miracle discovery. the surprise a woman found inside her christmas gift.
we're back now with possible criminal charges in the wildfires that devastated california. the state attorney general warning a major utility company could face charges including murder over it. nbc's miguel almaguer explains. >> reporter: the most destructive wildfire in california history incinerated nearly 14,000 homes and
claimed at least 88 lives. now two months later, in the ruins of paradise, the california attorney general says public utility pg&e could face murder charges if found criminally liable for the inferno. >> there was so much debris on fire. >> reporter: joe allen, who drove through a gauntlet of flames with his daughter, lost his home. >> we're not going to catch on fire, okay? >> if they are found responsible, it will be just the beginning of closure for people. >> reporter: after charring 240 square miles in just hours, fire investigators have still not determined the cause of the camp fire. multiple lawsuits blame pg&e for failing to maintain its equipment. in a statement, pg&e says its most important responsibility is public and workforce safety. the company adding, they are committed to protecting all of its customers from the ever-increasing threat of wildfires. if found liable, the utility company could face massive fines.
christmas might be over, but we have 94 gift for you. the story of two strangers who by luck found each other and something precious this holiday season. a christmas miracle in washington state. >> reporter: on christmas day, joanne johnson overjoyed, picking up a precious gift from a total stranger. the wedding ring she lost shopping in obtain. >> i was convinced after the first couple of days that i would never see it again. >> reporter: that stranger, shiloa avery, posted on facebook she found a ring in her brand-new insta-pot that morning. the emotional moment caught on cellphone.
>> you were such an honest person, thank you! >> reporter: for johnson, this christmas was already a miracle. four years ago she was diagnosed with stage iv lung cancer. >> instead of only having six to 18 months to live, i'm now four years living with cancer. to find my ring, that's frosting on the cake. >> reporter: johnson, who once didn't think she would live to see this christmas, has one more reason to celebrate the magic of this season. >> merry christmas to you too! >> i'm so excited. >> golly, gee wiz. >> what an awesome christmas. >> just warms your heart. the two women say they are bonded for life. johnson calling avery her christmas angel. and you can see why. and up next, call her iron mom. the woman teaming up with her daughter to accomplish something amazing. to the ground.
party to celebrate the football championship. one day locals can check it out for free, next. it's almost time to ring in the new year. so have you made your resolution yet? well, if you're looking to get more fit in 2019, we've got just the story to motivate you. lester has tonight's "inspiring america." >> reporter: this has always been beth and liza james' special mother-daughter time. >> when she was an infant, i would take her out in a jogged care. >> reporter: but when liza was 6, the family was in a horrific car accident, leaving her unable to speak and walk. >> i'm thankful that she's with me and i'm determined to give her the most beautiful life. >> reporter: she began taking her out for runs, like before. liza loved it. they did 5-ks, 10-ks,
triathlons. beth felt she could do anything, even the iron man, 112-mile bike ride, and 26.2-mile run, a formidable challenge for any athlete. but 53-year-old beth also has to pull liza and her adaptive equipment. for months, beth tirelessly trained for this, race day. >> we're so ready for today. >> reporter: the swim starts before 7:00 a.m. two hours later, they're out of the water and on to the next leg. their biggest challenge, nine hours to finish the steep bike course. beth pushes uphill after hill, barely finishing in time. and there's still a full marathon to go. exhausted, they log five miles, then ten. as night falls, beth's husband joins for the final push. then as midnight approaches, the crowd
roars. they've done it. >> i want to do it again! >> reporter: and it would be worth it just to see liza's face at the finish line again. >> surreal indeed. and they're already training for another iron man next summer. that's "nightly news." i'm kristenthe rush before the the reason tesla showrooms are staying open later tonight. right now at 6:00, the rush, why with tesla is staying open tonight. plus too cold to stay outside. the approach the bay area cities are taking to help the homeless. >> but first, ringing in the new year? more like blowing in the new year. how long the winds will stick around. the news at 6:00 starts right now. thank you for joining us.
we begin with a micro climate weather alert. you see it there. this is what it looked like this afternoon. the winds responsible for this streak, down the middle of the busy road. one of many reports across the bay area. >> and we have a team of reporters covering the windy and cold conditions. let's begin with jeff ranieri. >> let's take a look now at our 24-hour wind gusts. this illustrates what a lot of us have been dealing with. up to 2,000, 3,000 feet. we've had between 40 and 72 miles an hour. napa, 38, redwood city up to 26. it looks like the wind will hang around into tomorrow, about 10:00 a.m. from right now through 10:00 a.m. tomorrow, the wind advisory, east bay, south bay and peninsula.