tv NBC Nightly News NBC April 15, 2015 6:30pm-7:01pm EDT
ands on the lawn of the u.s. capitol. we'll see you back here at 11:00. until then, have a great evening. on this wednesday night panic on the hill. a postal worker forcing a lockdown by landing a small copter on the capitol lawn. how did he get into restricted airspace? especially since he made no secret of his outlandish plan. life in prison. aaron hernandez, the ex-nfl star who had it all now convicted and sentenced for a cold-blooded forward. tonight, what the jury is saying about the verdict. is it the end of spring break? the ugly moment a woman assaulted on a crowded beach. tonight, the popular destination saying they have had it with spring breakers. and space invaders. many airlines looking to squish passengers even closer together. it might get awfully uncomfortable, but is it hazardous hazardtoo? "nightly new
♪ good evening, a small gyro-copter piloted by a florida postman caused a scare when it flew apparently unchallenged into highly restricted airspace in the center of washington, d.c. and landed on the lawn of the u.s. capitol. the capitol went into immediate lockdown as police searched the aircraft for explosives. and now once again questions are being raised about how well the nation's capitol is secured against aerial threats. tonight the pilot is in custody, and we now know his bizarre landing wasn't exactly a surprise. peter alexander expl. >> reporter: they say things never move fast on capitol hill. today was an exception. >> this is not good, people. >> reporter: coming in for a landing of the lawn of the u.s. capitol, doug hughes on board what's called a gyro-copter. >> everyone was shouting "move, get down, move!"
>> reporter: the 61-year-old mailman from ruskin florida, was looking to deliver a message to washington demanding an end to big government and corruption. carrying 535 letters, one for each member of congress. it was a daring act of civil disobedience that also happened to be a federal crime. hughes made no secret of his plan, alerting the "tampa bay times" last year. >> i'm going violate the no-fly zone nonviolently i intend for nobody to get hurt. >> reporter: he acknowledged the risk to his safety. >> i don't believe that the authorities are going to shoot down a 60-year-old mailman in a flying bicycle. >> reporter: he insisted he was not a terrorist. >> terrorists don't broadcast their flight path. terrorists don't invite an escort to go along with them. >> reporter: hughes told the paper he took off from gettysburg pennsylvania an hour away rounding the washington monument. giving him a clear view of the white house before landing at the capitol. >> i had no idea he would make it this far. i thought for sure he'd be brought down or forced down
before this. >> reporter: it's the latest in a string of security breaches including a drone that landed at the white house earlier this year. after arresting hughes, authority found nothing hazardous on board. >> the capitol police are going to have to regroup, and the airspace in the district everybody who's in charge of that has to regroup. police helicopters should have been forcing this guy down before he ever reached the capitol. >> reporter: right now you see capitol police are ready to haul away the gyro-copter, but not until after the capitol grounds were locked down and the area was evacuated. after blogging about his plans a year ago, the secret service interviewed hughes in florida. today he live-streamed his flight. but it's not clear whether law enforcement of aware of it before he got here. doug hughes is expected to make his first court appearance here in washington tomorrow. and late tonight, police are converging on the airport in gettysburg pennsylvania, where it's believed that hughes took off on this unprecedented stunt. lester?
>> all right, peter alexander, thank you. we turn to an emotional day in a massachusetts courtroom. former new england patriots player aaron hernandez learned his fate. convict of a 2013 murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole. a stunning fall for someone who was once a superstar on the football field. nbc's ron mott takes us inside the courtr what say you, madam foreperson? >> reporter: after a two-month trial and seven days of deliberations, a dramatic end to the future of one of the nfl's most promising stars, aaron hernandez. >> guilty of murder in the first degree. >> reporter: audible gasps, hernandez appearing to say "wrong" while staring at the jury. >> so say all members -- >> reporter: his mother and fiancee wiped away tears as did the family of the man he murdered. 27-year-old odin lloyd a friend and semi pro football player found shot in a field a half mile from hernandez' million-dollar home. >> i forgive the hands of the
people who had a hand in my son's murder. either before or after. and i pray and hope that someday everyone will forgive them also. >> reporter: the case against him was largely circumstantial. the murder weapon never recovered, a clear motive never established by the state. prosecutors had video that appeared to show hernandez holding a gun the night lloyd was killed as well as dna and physical evidence putting him at the scene. >> the jury found he was just a man who committed a brutal murder. the fact that he was a professional athlete meant nothing in the end. >> reporter: jurors heard from more than 130 witnesses. >> we followed the court's orders assumed the man sitting in that seat is isn't until the prosecution -- is innocent until the prosecution proves he's guilty. that's what happened today. >> reporter: on the field, hernandez' career was looking up when he was arrested. a $4 million contract in hand -- $40 million contract in hand a super bowl touchdown on his
resume. off the field troubles. >> he lived a secret double life. he was a very good football player. when he went home for the day, he lived a very secret duplicitous life. >> reporter: hernandez was immediately transported to his new home -- a milwaukee security prison a mile and a half -- maximum security prison a mile and a half from the stadium where he was once cheered. this is not the last courtroom aaron hernandez will see. later this year it's expected he will stand trial for double murder up in boston. this stems from a drive-by shooting there in the summer of 2012. he has pleaded not guilty in that case. he's also been sued in civil court by a man who says aaron hernandez shot him in the face. lester? >> ron, thank you. we turn to arizona now. on the heels of several recent incidents raising alarm about the use of police force, shocking video has surfaced of an officer taking down an armed suspect by hitting him with his car. but there's a lot more to the story which is why the police department says it's something that had to be done. nbc national correspondent miguel almaguer has the story. i got him a male --
>> reporter: as police pursued the armed suspect, dach camera captured the violent collision. >> oh -- [ bleep ] [ bleep ] >> man down. >> reporter: this is a graphic view from officer michael rapiejko's car as he slams into the suspect at 40 miles an hour. >> outside of the box, it's unusual. but if he doesn't take that action i believe we'll probably answer questions to a much more horrific tragedy. >> reporter: mario valencia was hospitalized but survived the crash. booked for holding up a convenience store trying to burn down this church robbing a home hijacking a car, then driving to a walmart where police say he stole a rifle. marana police officer dan rowan spots the suspect holding the rifle to his chin. >> the gun to his neck. [ gunshot ] >> reporter: a single shot is fired into the air by valencia.
>> one round just went out. >> a unit -- stand off, stand off! the gun is loaded! >> reporter: moments later, the officer rams the suspect. >> oh! >> reporter: valencia's attorney outraged by the use of force. >> i do believe the intent was to kill my client. it's a miracle that he's not dead. >> reporter: with officer rapiejko cleared of all criminal charges, tonight there's public debate whether the action saved lives or displayed excessive force. while the officer behind the wheel has been cleared of any criminal charges, he does face an internal conduct probe here at police headquarters. the police chief telling us he stands by his officer's side. as for the suspect, he's been released from the hospital. he faces 11 felony charges and has not yet entered a plea. lester? >> miguel, thank you. we turn to politics tonight. and some provocative comments by new jersey governor chris christie who hasn't said if he's planning to run for president but says if he does he will beat hillary clinton. at a town hall meeting in new
hampshire, christie defended his new proposals to cut social security for upper income seniors, to raise the retirement age to 69 and to increase premiums for medicare. in an exclusive interview this afternoon, matt lauer sat down with christie and asked him about cutting entitlements. what some are calling good policy but bad politics. >> this country needs more good policy and less good politics. and the fact is that if you want to start a national conversation you should talk about the thing that consumes 71% of the federal budget. and if you don't then you have no right to talk about the other 29% because you won't have any money to pay for it. so for me if you want to start a national conversation, i start it with entitlements intentionally because it is the single-most important issue when it consumes 71% of all the money we consume in the federal government -- >> even if it doesn't make you a lot of friends? >> listen, you know i hope if it doesn't bring me friends, it brings people who respect me. >> there was a time when people
talked about 2016 all of the buzz on the republican side was about you. >> yeah. >> is it possible that while you were dealing -- and i don't want to call them distractions because that makes them sound trivial -- with these serious issues of bridgegate back in new jersey that your most passed? >> i don't know. and neither do you. we'll see. i'll tell you this much -- i've been the front-runner before. it's a place where the bull's eye's on your back and everybody's shooting at you. that's okay. i'm fine with exactly where i am now because i haven't changed. and when we start to talk if we run about really serious issues that face this country, i have an opportunity to be able to convince people the say way i would have had to convince them otherwise, matt. all that other stuff is artificial until the game really begins. the game has come close to beginning. >> you can watch more of the interview with governor christie rr morning on "today." another issue that's already making its way to the presidential campaign -- higher wages for hourly employees. around the country today workers took to the streets demanding better pay as the
income gap is growing. our report on this tonight from nbc's stephanie gosk. what do we want? >> reporter: on street corners around the country today, an organized cry for more money. >> i work two jobs to make ends meet. >> i would rather buy my daughter's diapers than buy food for ourselves. >> reporter: labor unions and workers are demanding $15 an hour -- more than double the federal minimum wage. the movement comes as americans face the biggest wealth gap recorded in 30 years. in 2013 the median worth of upper income families was seven times more than middle-income families. and a full 70 times more than lower-income families. these protesters believe a higher minimum wage can be part of the seclusion. more than 20 states have already raised the minimum wage in 2014 or will do so in 2015. private companies have announced wage increases as well like mcdonald's walmart, and gap. last night we introduced you to dan price, ceo of a credit card
payment company. our cameras were there when he announced he was giving his entire staff a salary of at least $70,000. [ applause ] >> reporter: we caught up with him at a protest in new york today. this comes a couple of days after you made your announcement. how are they connected? >> you know, it seems that there's a major conversation about inequality brewing. the rich are getting richer. sometimes kind of the little guy, the normal, average worker is not keeping up. >> reporter: for generations, part of the american dream has meant your kids will do better than you do. now that they may not -- >> we'll never be defeated! >> reporter: -- there are loud voices demanding something be done to defeat it. stephanie gosk nbc news, new york. a moment of silence today marked the two-year anniversary of the boston marathon bombing. survivors were on hand to watch the unveiling of commemorative banners at the site of the two blasts near the finish line. mayor marty walsh has declared this one boston day. a celebration of the resilience of the city and its people. three people died in the terror
attack and one officer was killed during the ensuing manhunt. in florida today, a third suspect was arrested in the alleged gang rape of a woman last month on a beach in panama city. the popular spring break destination has seen a string of violent incidents and is now considering whether to end the party for good. we get more from gabe gutierrez. resign it's a spring break -- >> reporter: it's a spring break hot spot. officials in panama city beach, florida, say the party is getting out of control after video surfaced of a gang rape. an unconscious 19-year-old woman was sexually assaulted on a beach in broad daylight. >> what's so disgusting and repulsive and sickening about this is this is happening in broad daylight within ten feet wherever this is happening there's hundreds, hundreds of people standing there, watching looking, seeing hearing what's
going on. >> reporter: today a third man was arrested in the case. two men were charged last week. this year police have seen a dramatic increase in criminal behavior. a gunman shot seven people at a house party last month. there have been almost 1,100 arrests, triple last year's total. reported sexual assaults have almost doubled from six to 11. police have set up so-called spring break jails, mobile booking cages to keep control. now the city council is considering whether to ban drinking on the beach altogether driving many of these spring breakers and their spending power elsewhere. >> we will do what it takes to take the beach back and get it under control. it didn't happen overnight, and it's going to take us a while it work through it. >> reporter: the city has tried to crack down before beefing up i.d. checks and forcing bars to close at 2:00 a.m. the mayor now says other options are on the table to keep this beach safe. and the city council could vote on them next month. lester? >> gabe gutierrez thanks.
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your next flight might be even more cramped than you remember because airlines are adding seats and cutting leg restroom squeeze in as many customers as possible on board. with the cabin even more packed concerns are being raise good whether all those people can be easily evacuated if there's an emergency. here's nbc's tom costello. tower, you copy? car 100, run way 13 is closed. >> reporter: march 5th in new york, everyone on board a delta commuter flight escapes a crash landing. march 20th nova scotia. same story as an airplane crash in halifax. [ shouting ] >> reporter: since 1957 the faa has required aircraft manufacturers to prove everyone can get out in 90 seconds with half the exits blocked.
but as today's test -- but is today's test an accurate reflection of the restrictions? the faa reports there's 31 inches between each row of seats. today this often far less leg room 30 29 even 28 inches all to cram more passengers board. the flight attendants say it's time for a full review. >> we're concerned that the flight attendants charged with passengers' safety on board the aircraft will not be able to safely evacuate everyone on the plane. >> reporter: part of the concern -- airline passengers are older and bigger than they were 20 to 30 years ago. most of them have more carry-on luggage. stuff they're supposed to leave behind in an emergency, but many of them don't. meanwhile, passenger rights groups say seating people too close together is leading to an increase in air rage cases. >> start to fly, people throw coffee on each other, children start crying flight attendants get upset. >> reporter: the airline industry says there's no need for the government to set new seat spacing standards, telling nbc news "each individual
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finally tonight in this era of big league, multimillion dollar deals for athletes the san diego padres may have made one of the best deals in baseball. doesn't get a lot of attention, but the value, priceless. here's nbc's joe fryer. let's go! >> reporter: even on grainy vhs footage, you can see what the san diego padres saw in pitcher matt lachappa. sizzling fastball and wicked curve. >> he had a lot of talent. he was a great pitcher. he could have gone a long ways, in my opinion. >> reporter: priscilla oppenheimer oversaw minor league operations when the team signed
lachappa in 1993 and remembers the request from the southpaw's mom. >> you watch out for him and i said i'll take good care of him. >> reporter: good care even when life throws the curve. >> hello. how are you? >> reporter: lachappa's big league dreams were deroyaled in 1996 by a heart attack that caused a brain injury. >> how we doing? okay? >> reporter: yet the team refused to let him go. >> how's everything? >> we just decided that matt was going to be a part of it for life. >> thanks for coming out. >> reporter: every year, the franchise has renewed his minor league contract so he can maintain quality health insurance. >> the padres said that he'd be a family member for life and they've stuck to that bargain. >> reporter: even though it can be hard to communicate lachappa's love for the team is unquestionable. do you notice anything in him when he's watching the padres play? >> yep. we have to all be quiet. basically stay out of his way. >> it's so good to see you. >> reporter: and every now and then he actually visits the
field where he's still part of the time. >> awesome. awesome. >> reporter: a promise kept at the ballpark where matt lachappa truly found home. >> i'm very proud of you. >> reporter: joe fryer, nbc news, san diego. that will do it for us on a wednesday bruce jenner for the first time in his own words about his sex change. >> before a sit-down with diane sawyer, the clues to his new name and what he's been secretly doing for a year, now on "extra."
bruce jenner finally speaks. as the first video from his tell-all interview emerges. who's been counseling jenner for a year? his new female name starting with a "k." plus, kim's book of selfies. it was a prank after all. dennis quaid in cahoots with funny or die. >> a.j. you actually talked with dennis right before the secret got out. what did he tell you? karissa gives michael douglas a blast from the past. why michael and catherine are both behaving badly. >> it's good to be bad. plus russell crowe's surprise connection to the king of pop? >> michael jackson used to prank call you? this is "extra" at universal studios hollywood, the entertainment capital of l.a. >> hey, everyone. welcome to "extra." i'm mario lopez.