tv NBC Nightly News NBC June 23, 2015 7:00pm-7:15pm EDT
tonight, a major turning point in the fight over the confederate flag. walmart, ebay and amazon say they won't sell it. and a major flag maker now says it won't even make it anymore amid growing calls in more states to remove a symbol so painful for so many. a massive tornado outbreak barreling across the country. several towns take direct hits. right now 70 million people major cities in the high-risk zone. nbc news exclusive. as we learn stunning new details about how those killers escaped prison. the husband of the woman accused of helping them speaks to matt lauer about his wife and the alleged plot to kill him. and toxic fumes. how safe is the air you breathe on airplanes? an alarming new lawsuit.
flight attendants who say dangerous air did serious harm to their health. "nightly news" begins right now. >> announcer: this is "nbc nightly news with lester holt," reporting tonight from washington. good evening. in the wake of the charleston church massacre an old symbol is generating new and growing controversy tonight now far beyond south carolina. that effort to remove the confederate battle flag that flies above the south carolina state capitol grounds has quickly transformed into a broader nationwide movement against the flag image itself as major retailers began pulling confederate flag-themed merchandise from shelves. but what some see as a symbol of hate others see as an important piece of southern history. ron allen takes us into the center of the fight. >> reporter: today one of the nation's largest flag makers valley forge flag said it would stop producing the confederate banner "in light of the tragic and devastating events
in charleston." >> we wanted to make sure that we stood up and took a firm stance. >> reporter: as major retailers like walmart, target and sears and ebay etsy google online drop "we never want to offend anyone with the products that we offe" said walmart. >> i seebravery. i see honor. i see country. >> reporter: in south carolina's capital jeff o'kane has a barn full of confederate flags and even one on the grave of a rebel soldier in his back yard. >> private henry robinson. >> reporter: a former sxharnd of the sons of confederate veterans who says the flag should forever fly over south carolina. >> it's a war memorial to honor 25,000 men, a quarter of the men in south carolina died to protect this state. >> so many other people in this state and the country see slavery.
they see racism. they see the klan in that flag. >> they stole it! they dishonored that flag! that flag never had anything to do about slavery. >> reporter: passion to keep the flag up as protesters at the state house again today demanded the legislature bring it down. >> let's pray together. >> reporter: after a moment of silence for the nine massacred in mother emanuel church both the house and senate took steps to debate the flag issue later this summer. a 2/3 vote required to move it. this as plans are under way for the body of the reverend clementa pinckney a state senator killed in the church to be honored at the capitol thursday. south carolina senator lindsey graham now running for president has resisted efforts to move the flag. you'd like. i was where most people in my state were. but i'm in a different place now. >> reporter: now bipartisan calls across the south for states to eliminate
confederate symbolism like the emblem in the corner of the mississippi state flag and on the state flag of georgia. flags on virginia and tennessee license plates. defenders say that won't happen without a fight. the flag is such a contentious and emotional issue many observers are saying expect more intense protests and politics as the confederate flag continues to fly. >> all right, ron. now to the accused killer whose apparently racist motives reignited this flag debate. we are getting our first look at the exact moment dylann roof's run from the law came to an end. officials released this dash cam video of roof's arrest over 13 hours after he allegedly killed nine people inside a charleston church. officials also tell nbc news that roof did in fact buy the semi-automatic handgun used in the massacre from a store 25 miles from his home. at this hour fully half the united states 25 states from maine to montana, are under the threat of violent storms. there are tornado warnings right now in
several states part of a massive outbreak of tornadoes, hailstorms and flash floods that have already made direct hits in the middle of the country and 71 million people are bracing for impact in the east. al roker is monitoring a very active situation on the radar. al what are you focused on right now? >> right now the northeast, lester. philadelphia just had a wind gust of 69 miles per hour. and we've got a pretty good line pushing on in. right now new york dulles airport, d.c. and baltimore washington airports are all at a ground stop as these storm systems push in. it's all part of a line part of a cold front that is going to push through. the enhanced risk area 44 million people from boston to new york philadelphia washington, d.c. on into parts of eastern west virginia are under the risk of dangerous lightning, hail two-inch in diameter 40 to 70-mile-per-hour winds and the possibility of tornadoes. but it moves through pretty quickly tonight, lester.
>> all right, al. thanks. and as we said, this is part of a very dangerous system that has already done severe damage. nbc's anne thompson reports. >> reporter: nature's fireworks. severe thunderstorms and funnel clouds rattling residents from the midwest to the east. >> power lines are going down. >> reporter: power poles no match last night for the powerful super cell spawning six tornadoes in illinois. cole city 60 miles west of chicago, took a zrektdirect hit from an ef3 tornado. >> i heard cracking because i have posts, a screened-in porch in the back. and those posts, three of them broke off. >> reporter: the damage revealed today. hopes wiped from their foundations by peak winds of 160 miles per hour. my colleague kevin tibbles. >> people here in cole city saw the ominous skies overhead heard the warnings and head for the basement. the authorities here are saying that is undoubtedly what saved lives. >> reporter: patricia
clemens hid in her bathroom. >> it seemed like it lasted forever. the wind and everything. >> reporter: in portland michigan -- >> 911, where's your emergency? >> we're at the goodwill in portland and the store just fully got destroyed. >> reporter: five people including a mother and two children rescued after a tornado tore through the town trapping them in a goodwill for. the roof of this church crumbling. in just ten minutes the twister ruined what took years to build. >> it happened so fast. it was just raining hard and then all of a sudden that wind picked up. >> reporter: more than 70 homes and a dozen businesses damaged. in other parts of the country it's the heat. 29 million americans in cities like philadelphia and charlotte under a heat advisory today as summer gets off to a dangerous and explosive start. anne thompson nbc news new york. tonight an nbc news xluft. the husband of joyce mitchell the prison worker accused of helping two prisoners escape is giving his side of the story
right here. but first, day 18 of the manhunt in upstate new york for those escapees, and we're learning more about how mitchell allegedly smuggled tools inside the prison and about the new evidence that convinced authorities they are hot on the trail again. here's nbc's stephanie gosk. >> reporter: in this remote new york town police hope they're closing in. every tip could be the one that leads to david sweat and richard matt. >> it's difficult terrain. you certainly couldn't travel very fast in a given day or time frame. >> reporter: sources close to the investigation tell nbc news the convicts were caught by surprise in a remote hunting cabin leaving food and even underwear behind. today more detail about the escape. the d.a. says prison worker joyce mitchell said she smuggled the convicts' tools, hidden in ground beef. corrections officer gene palmer, who has been put on zrintdive leave but not charged then delivered the packages to sweat and matt. palmer passed a polygraph test saying
he didn't know he was handing over tools. >> a former inmate who knew sweat and matt isn't surprised by the plan. >> after a certain amount of time they don't search you like that anymore. they don't really care. you're a familiar face. so they just let you through. >> reporter: this man is worried they may anybody his back yard. his hunting club is just five miles from the cabin where sweat and matt were holed up. >> it's unnerving to say the least. >> reporter: the camp is typical. good shelter, plenty of food 37 hunting season is in the fall. this time of year the cabins are mostly empty. >> my question is how did they ever find out about a place like this? >> reporter: so far there's no indication sweat and matt are still getting help. now discovered and on the run surviving in these woods just got much more difficult. the weather here has been giving searchers some difficulties as well. must a couple of hours ago there was a tip from a campground down the street. it triggered a rapid and significant response but it turned out to be a false
lead. right now any tip in this immediate vicinity is being treated with extra urgency. lester? >> thanks stephanie. now to that exclusive and frankly eye-opening interview with lyle mitchell who with his lawyer sat down with the "today" show's matt lauer to open up for the first time about his heartbreak over the allegations against his wife and his shock over learning of a plot to kill him. >> the instant you and your wife heard that richard matt and david sweat had escaped from clinton, what was her reaction and what was your reaction? >> i just couldn't believe it. her reaction she said "they really escaped?" and i left it at that. >> so at that point, lyle you had no reason to ask your wife do you know anything about this escape? >> no. no. no. and then the next morning she said the state police called. i said for what? they wanted to know something about a what are you talking about? she said i need to talk to the troopers.
and an investigator come out and said mr. mitchell your wife has been more involved than she's letting on. what? and that's when she said that she brought apparently two hacksaw blades a philips and a chisel. oh my god. >> when did you finally ask her point blank, face to face? >> that night going home. she was scared. she said i have something else to tell you. i said what's that? she said their plan was they wanted to kill you. i said what? they wanted her to come pick them up. but she said she was neve going through with it. that's what she told me. that she really loved me but she was in too deep. >> one of the other headlines that came out, lyle was your wife joyce had had a sexual relationship with one or both of these inmates. >> absolutely not. she swore on her son's life, and her son is everything "never have i had sex." >> when you stop and think about it now, lyle isn't it very
likely that had you been in the back of that car and had she shown up in that getaway car, that both of you would be dead right now? >> absolutely. 100%. she was the getaway, they were going to kill her and they just wanted that rec. >> so let me ask you bluntly, did you have anything to do with the escape of these two convicts? >> absolutely nothing. my main concern is catching these people. >> your wife is facing several charges. >> yes. >> she could end up in jail or prison herself for quite a while. >> yes. >> would you stick with her through that or might you testify against your wife? >> right now i do not know. there are so many thoughts running through my head. do i still love her? yes. am i mad? yes. how could she do this? how could she do this to our kids? >> lyle mitchell speaking out for the first time today with matt layer. the white house is on the verge of a major change to u.s. hostage policies and it will have a big impact on families
waiting and hoping for the safety of their loved ones trapped in enemy hands far from home. nbc news has learned what the president will reveal tomorrow. our white house correspondent peter alexander is on the north lawn with details. peter, good evening. >> reporter: lester good evening to you. this policy shift comes in response to fierce criticism from those families who lost loved ones held captive by terrorist groups like isis and al qaeda. a senior administration official tells me that tomorrow president obama will announce that hostages' families can privately pay ransom money. basically, the government's going to look the other way and will not threaten to prosecute families that pay. the white house is also going to announce it's creating what it's calling a hostage recovery fusion center. it will be based at the fbi. they're also creating a mechanism to keep families better informed. but the government will not pay ransom and the white house has no plans to appoint a high-level hostage czar. a lot of families and lawmakers had recommended that.
>> poort alexander tonight. thank you. still ahead tonight, how safe is the air we all breathe on airplanes? alarming new accusations from flight attendants about toxic fumes on board and serious health damage. also remembering a hollywood legend. an oscar winner who brought to life some of the most famous scenes in movie history. guess what: your insurance company will only give you 37-thousand to replace it. "depreciation" they claim. "how can my car depreciate before it's first oil change?" you ask. maybe the better question is why do you have that insurance company? with liberty mutual new car replacement, we'll replace the full value of your car. see car insurance in a whole new light. liberty mutual insurance.