tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC December 24, 2015 6:30pm-7:01pm EST
it's going to be warm, santa. see you back here at 11:00 tonight. developing news tonight. a state of emergency after a ferocious tornado outbreak tears through several states. at least 11 people are dead, including a 7-year-old boy. entire neighborhoods destroyed. panic at the mall. gun fire erupts on christmas eve. a police officer shoots and kills a gunman inside a store as frightened shoppers run in fear. winter summerland. late december and temperatures in the 60s and 70s across much of the country. the warmest christmas ever. shorts and t-shirts, a day in the park instead of by the fire. and holy night. celebrations in bethlehem, at the vatican and around the world. "nightly news" begins right now.
good evening, i'm thomas roberts. lester has the night off. on this christmas eve, officials in the south confirm the death toll has risen to 11 after a series of spring-like tornados ravaged the region. the unusual december system hit mississippi the hardest with parts under a state of emergency. tonight, search and rescue teams there continue to look for storm survivors, which may take them well through the christmas holiday. we begin with nbc's mark potter in clar clarksdale, mississippi. >> reporter: a devastating scene just before christmas after deadly storms and twisters curve through a midsection of the country. at least 11 killed and more than 40 injured. preliminary reports of at least two dozen tornados, including a possible ef-3, believed to have traveled more than 100 miles. >> a total loss, everything. >> reporter: mississippi was the hardest hit, seven lives lost including a
7-year-old boy. who died not far from where these twin tornados were spotted. >> oh, wow. >> reporter: powerful winds flipped this semi. >> i already knew it was bad. i could tell from outside. >> reporter: 22-year-old haley hid under a mattress with her mother, grandmother and dogs. >> everybody house just about round us is gone. it's still standing, but it's not going to make it. >> reporter: search teams worked night and day going house to house looking for victims. >> we are trying to go through the mangled up mess of the trees and it's just a disaster. >> reporter: mississippi governor declared a state of emergency in seven counties. >> families lost loved ones. funerals will be planned. this should be a joyous holiday season. >> reporter: in tennessee, three people died. >> it's heartbreaking. >> reporter: including a couple ages 69 and 70, their home was among those demolished. >> everything they owned and worked for all their life is
scattered down the hill. >> reporter: in arkansas, high winds pushed a tree on to a house and killed 18-year-old michaela miles. we learned today she was shielding her 18-month-old sister who is expected to be okay. the same storm system has been battering georgia and alabama with heavy rain. water cascading over this collapsed road. so many in the path of yesterday's destruction now spending this holiday rebuilding homes and coping with heartbreaking loss. and this house where haley hid under the mattress, they are already cleaning up the debris, grateful this christmas eve, despite a very close call, everyone in her family survived. thomas. >> close call indeed. mark potter in mississippi, thank you. one of the ingredients fueling those twisters is this record-shattering temperatures across much of the eastern half of the country where it looked like spring today than late december.
stephanie gosk has our report. >> reporter: the weather in new york is balmy. >> feels like the weather in hawaii. >> reporter: instead of getting snow, these visitors from san diego are in a sweat. >> came here to see snow. >> we did. >> reporter: no you're still in short sleeves. >> yeah. i didn't bring any shorts. >> reporter: in chicago, more of the same. >> this crazy warm weather is nuts. >> reporter: east of the rockies, temperature records weren't just broken today, they were crushed. here are just a few examples. boston 69. new york city 71. norfolk, virginia, a sizzling 82. some are basking in the warmth, like the flowers in bloom in boston and the jet skiing grinch in d.c. others just think it is strange. >> it doesn't feel like the holidays because it's not cold. >> reporter: there are places in the country coping with a dose of real winter weather. the latest snow totals in washington's cascade mountains are being counted in feet, not inches. major highways are
shut down and avalanche warnings are in place. >> that there is not a ski run. that's interstate 80 >> reporter: the snow pack is what drought-stricken california needs. the great weather divide between east and west is being created in part by el nino. the high temps being pulled up directly from the tlropics. >> i can't take my pants off. that's a problem. >> reporter: all just right for a lovely rainbow, even if it makes no sense on christmas eve. i'm at rockefeller pladsa. it's a packed crowd tonight to check out the tree and go ice skating. it's hard to believe on christmas eve, i'm not the only person out here in short sleeves. >> most people enjoying themselves tonight. thanks so much. we bring in our friend nbc meteorologist janice huff. do we have more of these warm temperatures in store? >> they're still out there right now. we are looking at temperatures in the 60s and 70s from texas all the way up to the northeast. new york city right now is right at 70.
the clash of these two air masses combined with a very powerful subtropical jet stream putting spin in the atmosphere yesterday helped to create those tornados. this is more of a spring-time event, of course. record highs across the area 65 in worcester, massachusetts. 72 in new york city. even down to sarasota, florida, in the mid 80s. we've got thunderstorms along the gulf coast, but they are not nearly the intensity we've seen over the past 24 hours. these storms are a lot less intense right now. travel weather. there will be a few isolated storms tomorrow. we aren't expecting severe weather like we've just seen with the outbreak. memphis, delays there. atlanta with a high of 75. houston at 80. snow in the west around salt lake city into the rockies expecting quite a bit of snow and winter storm warnings in effect on christmas day there. >> janice huff in the weather center for us tonight. merry christmas. thank you. we move on to a story out of charlotte. gun fire erupting in a mall packed with last-minute shoppers
on this christmas eve a police officer shooting and killing a man with a gun as people ran for their lives. >> reporter: gun fire on christmas eve causing chaos at the upscale northlake mall in charlotte, north carolina. >> i heard six gun shots and it sounded like firecrackers to me. and then i saw people turning around, running towards me and trampling each other. >> reporter: police say it started with an argument with two groups of people inside the mall around 2:00. an officer working offduty heard gun shots and intervened. when he encounter one of the men with a gun he opened fire. this woman was at children's place with her twins and became separated from them in the chaos. >> people went running. they ran through the store. they actually rushed right through the twins, grabbed the twins and were gone. >> reporter: her kids are okay. a terrifying ordeal
these shoppered hadn't bargained for. nbc news. new protests in the streets of chicago today. demonstrators angry over the death of a teen shot 16 times by a police officer. an incident caught on that gut-wrenching video that sparked an uproar. now we are hearing for the first time the police dispatch calls as a taser was repeat lid requested. minutes later laquan mcdonald was dead. kevin tibbles reports on these new details. >> reporter: they marched in the heart of chicago. calling for the resignation of mayor rahm emanuel over the city's handling of the police shooting death of 17-year-old laquan mcdonald. >> it hurts my heart to see this. i couldn't stay at home wrapping dpifts. >> reporter: the protesters blocked streets and also targeted an apple store trying to prevent shoppers from entering. on christmas eve, one of the busiest shopping days of the year, chicago's popular michigan
avenue shut down. laquan mcdonald who was carrying a knife was shot 16 times last year by chicago cop jason van dyke. van dyke's attorney has said he feared for his life. through a freedom of information act request, nbc chicago station obtained audio recordings from the night mcdonald was shot revealing a taser was requested. >> reporter: the dispatcher repeatedly asked for a taser. four minutes after the initial request for a taser, gun shots. whether an officer with a taser arrived at the scene before mcdonald was shot is unclear. mcdonald later died. officer van dyke is scheduled to be
arraigned next week on first degree murder charges. kevin tibbles, nbc news, chicago. just because it's the holidays does not mean the candidates running for president are taking much of a break. they are even getting in some last-minute jabs at each other before taking maybe 24 hours off for christmas to spend time with family and friends. nbc's hallie jackson reports on the latest political war of words. >> reporter: don't feel guilty about your last-minute christmas shopping. even presidential candidates are procrastinating. >> normally, i'm much better organized. >> reporter: jeb bush browsing board games. >> unlike donald trump, i didn't try to have a monopoly of real estate. >> reporter: taking shots at donald trump who is focused on his own feud with hillary clinton in a not so silent night before christmas eve. >> i haven't gone after hillary yet and there is a lot to go after. she is very susceptible -- look, the job she's done is horrible. >> reporter: trump's attacks just getting started, he warned. cautioning clinton to
be careful after she said this to the "des moines register." >> it's not the first time he's demonstrated potential for sexism. >> reporter: trump is under fire for what is called the lie of the year after examining his controversial comments and determining 3/4 of them are not true. that's not hurting. >> donald trump is the only candidate i've seen in i don't know how many cycles able to get away with what he gets away with. the electorate constantly forgives him for the things he says. >> reporter: trump making plenty of noise, but on christmas, quiet on the campaign trail. candidates spending time with families. >> merry christmas. >> reporter: sending greetsings to supporters. >> hoppy holidays, happy new year and here's to a great 2016. >> reporter: and in rand paul's case, airing his annual grievances. light-hearted swipes at his rivals, at least most of them. i have no grievances
against my fellow doc ben carson because i have not heard a word he has said in any debate. carson may be soft spoken, but many are looking closely for a word of a campaign shake-up after christmas as he is slipping in recent polls. carson insists his season aides aren't going anywhere and neither is he. still ahead -- midnight mass with the hope at the vatican. uneasy christmas eve hope at the vatican. uneasy christmas eve amid tight security in this bale of hay cannot be controlled. when a wildfire raged through elkhorn ranch, the sudden loss of pasture became a serious problem for a family business. faced with horses that needed feeding and a texas drought that sent hay prices soaring, the owners had to act fast. thankfully, mary miller banks with chase for business. and with greater financial clarity and a relationship built for the unexpected, she could control her cash flow, and keep the ranch running. chase for business. so you can own it.
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♪ >> midnight mass at the vatican tonight. pope francis celebrating the birth of jesus and calling on christians around the world to practice what he preached, a message of peace needed nowhere more this christmas eve than the holy land itself, the believed birth place of jesus. bill neely reports on christmas in bethlehem. >> reporter: they are celebrating christmas in bethlehem, but not like they used to. there is still powerful emotion at the grotto where it's believed jesus was born. >> so exciting. >> reporter: but fear has meant tens of thousands of christians are staying
away because this center of faith is also now a cradle of violence. palestinian youths confront israeli troops in regular battles here. the city of peace, anything but. >> bethlehem is the capital of christmas, the capital of nativity. the city of peace. this city is besieged. that means there is no peace. >> reporter: palestinians join a wave of stoppings of attacks on israelis, two more today that have seen dozens killed. an israeli man buried today after he was stabbed in jerusalem. so there is lots of room at bethlehem's inns. tourism struggling in a city that depends on it. >> a little bit sad christmas. we are trying our best to be happy. >> reporter: americans, too, are here in much smaller
numbers. >> less visitors, less people enjoying christmas. >> reporter: wise men here appeal for peace, but it's elusive this christmas eve where tonight, mass at the churches and nativity celebrates the birth amid much death and trouble in bethlehem. bill neely, nbc news. when we come back, last-second shoppers racing to beat the clock. even at this late hour, some stores are packed. we are also tracking a lot of special deliveries on the way. we'll tell you where deliveries on the way. we'll tell you where deliveries on the way. we'll tell you where i use what's already inside me to reach my goals. so i liked when my doctor told me i may reach my blood sugar and a1c goals by activating what's within me. with once-weekly trulicity. trulicity is not insulin. it helps activate my body to do what it's supposed to do release its own insulin.
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right now. so hop in those pjs, get to bed when mom and dad said so so santa can make those special deliveries while you are fast asleep. santa is on time but shoppers are not. many still in stores right now looking for last-second gifts. while they're there, they are likely finding major bargains thanks to those unseasonably warm temperatures. nbc's olivia sterns explains. >> reporter: the race was on today. retailers hoping last-minute shoppers would finally come to their stores. >> i have to do it now or it won't get done. >> reporter: after a season where more and more americans are choosing to buy online. about 2 million americans estimated to be picking up at least one last present on christmas eve. 17% of americans had not even started holiday shopping a week ago. the procrastination paid off. >> we are seeing huge
retailers, gap, old navy, ann taylor putting 50% off signs in their windows and really attracting customers using black fridayesque promotions. >> reporter: tonight some of the country's biggest retailers are staying open extra late. walmart will be open until 8:00 p.m. toys "r" us until 9:00 p.m. and some target locations will be open until 11:00 p.m. if you can't get to a store, it's still not too late to find that perfect gift from your couch. more than 200 of the season's hottest products online are now selling up to 40% below their black friday prices. and amazon prime now is offering delivery to your door in 20 cities tonight if you place your order by 9:45. >> so if i suddenly realized i had forgotten to get somebody a gift, how quickly can i get one? >> we usually deliver in less than an hour. >> reporter: if worse comes to worst, there is always the gift card. you can have it delivered via e-mail
before anybody knows you forgot. and thomas, those gift cards could come in handy after christmas when most retailers slash their prices even further, and many stores offer their very best deals of the entire year. >> the best bargains to come. olivia sterns, thank you. when we come back this christmas eve, the man of the hour. the story you probably haven't heard about old st. nick. the flu virus hits big. with aches, chills, and fever, there's no such thing as a little flu. and it needs a big solution: an antiviral. so when the flu hits, call your doctor right away and up the ante with antiviral tamiflu. prescription tamiflu is an antiviral that attacks the flu virus at its source and helps stop it from spreading in the body. tamiflu is fda approved to treat the flu in people two weeks of age and older whose flu symptoms started within the last two days. before taking tamiflu, tell your doctor if you're
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finally, on this special night, with millions around the world taking time off to celebrate christmas, one man is just going to work. you know him as santa claus. kriss kringle, father christmas and good old st. nick. in fact, st. nicholas was santa's inspiration. since he was a true man of the world, we asked our chief foreign correspondent richard engel to bring thus christmas story. >> merry christmas! >> reporter: everybody knows santa's real name is st. nick, but you may be surprised to learn the real st. nicholas was born here in what is now a town in southern turkey almost 1,800 years ago. his statue still stands in the center of town, where he
served as bishop and acted like a saint. his present-day successor is revered here, too. once a year, he holds mass in the church where his famous predecessor was buried. and there is an icon of st. nicholas in every greek orthodox church? >> yes. >> reporter: old st. nick is nothing like the santa we know. those stories are fun, the bishop says, and they would be even more fun if i was a child and had gifts coming highway. so how did st. nicholas go from a real-life christian saint to a fairy tale figure from a greek orthodox bishop to a toy make were a staff of elves and a team of flying reindeer? well, much of that happened in america. the 19th century poem "'twas the night before christmas" describes st. nick as jolly as plump, flying
in a sleigh pulled by reindeer. cartoonist thomas nast came up with the familiar santa image and ads like this helped block it in. coca-cola has a bigger advertising budget than the greek orthodox church. do you try and tell people when you see all of these little santas, that's not the guy. that has nothing to do with st. nick. >> exactly, he says. i've been doing that for 30 years now, but without much success. it seems people like santa just the way he is now. richard engel, nbc news, istanbul. we like santa and now we like st. nick. thank you, richard. that's going to do it for us this thursday night. i'm thomas roberts in tonight for lester. for all of us here at nbc news, thank you for watching. have a merry christmas and good night.
domestic crisis, daughter tiffany dating a man on hillary's team? from his family's secrets to his upcoming rematch with megyn kelly. new alert, nick cannon dating michael strahan's ex nicole and nick's ex mariah's christmas gift to herself, dropping 45 pounds. >> what have you been doing? plus, the secret a.j. is digging to uncover. >> you can google it. want more star wars? it's coming. breaking news on the next sequel. >> get your take. >> yes. >> eva longoria rocking big hair and a tight gown. what's with the bear trap? now on "extra," from universal studios hollywood, the entertainment capital of l.a. >> he, everyone. welcome to extra." passion, betrayal and a lot of drama.