tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC June 14, 2017 7:00pm-7:30pm EDT
breaking news tonight, 10 minutes of horror on a baseball field here in virginia. [ gunshots ]. >> a gunman opens fire on members of congress. a house republican leader among those shot in critical condition, and capital police officers wounded and returning fire being hailed as heroes, risking their lives in a terrifying gun battle caught on camera. tonight, new clues to what may have motivated a killer to target republican lawmakers. also tonight, towering inferno, a raising toll as a high rise goes up in flames, residents trapped and parents dropping children out of windows. to safety below.
what sparked this enormous fire. love of the game that brings republicans and democrats together united. "nightly news" begins right now. >> announcer: this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt reporting tonight from alexandria, virginia. good evening and thank you for being with us tonight. the manicured suburban ball field behind me belies the violence and bloodshed that shattered this alexandria, virginia park merely 12 hours ago. a gunman with possibly political acts to grind unleashed a vicious republican attack on members of congress not engaged in politics but practicing for a charity baseball game against democrats. witnesses describe an assault that lasted around ten minutes. the shooter with dozens of rounds before being wounded by police. you can imagine the evidence left behind and we can show you right li
evidence team lined up together looking for pieces of evidence that may help explain how this all played out this morning. we want to begin our coverage with tom costello. [ gunshots ]. >> reporter: captured on cell phone video, the chilling moment, the rapid gunfire broke out in alexandria this morning. >> shots being fired and people running. victims involved. >> reporter: an all-out gun battle as capitol hill police and alexandria officers engaged a lone gunman, 66-year-old james hodgkinson targeting republican members of congress practicing for a charity baseball game. >> get down! we need medics. we got a suspect shooting. we're at the baseball field. >> reporter: among the first to be hit, republican steve scalise. >> he drug himself to the
trail of blood. we can't help him. we have bats versus a rifle. >> scalise's security detail and police immediately began to return fire. >> reporter: the gunman armed with a semiautomatic assault weapon and a handgun. >> he was crouched behind a wooden piece of stands and he had a ak-47 in his hands. he was exchanging fire with police officers who were crouched behind a black suv. >> reporter: the six people injured include congressman scalise, capitol hill police officers david bailee and crystal griner, and zackery barth a congressional staffer and roger williams. >> one staffer dove into the dugout with a leg wound and we got
somebody's belt and put it around there to stop the bleeding so we were tending to him as well as trying to keep down away from the shooter. >> reporter: members of congress said the gunman knew who was on the field. >> an individual walked up and said are those republicans or democrats. jeff said they are republicans. the guy turned around and started walking towards the field. it was a little odd but i didn't see any indication of violence or anything. >> big, fat guy, probably 5'8", 5'10" with a t-shirt and shorts with a long gun and pistol. >> reporter: after an intense gunfight that shot out the windows of the next door ymca, hodgkinson was shot and wounded. he died a few hours later at the hospital. meanwhile, all five victims were rushed to area hospitals. representative scalise taken off the field by medics and a police officer taken out by chopper. >> i never thought i would come to baseball practice for a game for charity, for local d.c. charities and have to dodge bullets. >> reporter:
security details grateful for capitol hill police who might not had been there had gop scalise not been on the field. >> they probably saved our lives and the lives of a lot of people because we were all sitting ducks in the dugout. >> reporter: tonight, the fbi is handing out this flier to people in the neighborhood. it is of the suspect, james hodgkinson asking for any information to phone in tips. in the meantime, it would certainly appear this was a targeted assassination attempt on members of congress and goes to the very heart of the democracy, back to you. >> tom costello nearby here in alexandria, thank you. the fbi is probing into the gunman's past trying to answer the question keys what motivated him to target this field and these players? our justice correspondent pete williams has been working his sources all day and brings us late details. >> reporter: police and federal agents descended on the suburban st. louis home of james hodgkinson looking for clues about what led him to carry out the shooting, ng
he was carrying. age 66, a home inspector in bellville, illinois who allowed his license to lapse last fall. his social media profile reveals someone who strong ly disliked republican policies and bit early opposed president trump. in march he wrote on facebook, trump destroyed our democracy, time to destroy trump and company. two days ago he used obscenities to describe this week's white house cabinet meeting and he said i hate republicans and everything they stand for. a family member says hodgkinson was distraught over last year's election and worked as a volunteer for the bernie sanders campaign. >> i am saddened by this despicable act and let me be as clear as i can be, violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society. >> reporter:
prolific letter writer to his local paper. in 2011 he said republicans are quote full of hate. during 2011 occupy wall street demonstration he talked to the st. louis fox affiliate. >> 99% are getting pushed around and the 1 % are just not giving a damn. >> reporter: the congressman from hodgkinson's district said he wrote or called the office ten times but never threatened. >> they were disagreeing in their -- with my position but they were not any threats or any red flags that were sent up. >> reporter: in late march, sheriff's deputies responded to calls from resident whose said he was shooting in the woods near his bellville house. >> we went over and talked to him. he was very nice and said hey, i'll take you to a range somewhere safer and that was the end of it. >> reporter: officials said he had actually been in suburban washington d.c. for the past six weeks and frequented an alexandria virginia ymca directly across the street from the ballpark. >> probably been at least more than a
month and a half, probably less than two months when i first met him. i would see him down in the locker room. >> reporter: back in illinois, long-time friends were shocked to hear about today's shooting. >> he's always happy go lucky. it just took me by surprise when i saw it on the news today that he did what he did. >> tonight investigators believe hodgkinson was living out of his car, a white cargo van since late march on the same street the ballpark is on but they are trying to figure out why he came to washington in the first place and when and where he got the assault rifle that he used today. lester? >> all right. pete williams in washington, thank you. and on capitol hill, a somber surreal atmosphere in the hallways of the congressional offices. it was there i caught up with rand paul who was in the batting cage when the first shots rang out. you were in the batting cage at the time? >> yeah, i had just batted at home plate. i heard the rapid gunshots. there's a big, lar
oak tree right next to the batting cage so i got behind the oak tree as the guy is shooting because that's the difficult choice you don't think you'll have to make. do i say or do i go? do i stay and miss me or think i'm dead or ultimately will they walk around shooting people. >> did you actually see him? >> i seen a blur of a blue shirt. i couldn't identify him from where i was but the shots were landing next to us and we knew he could shoot a long way from where he was. as we felt like he was changing position, it is sort of like well, who is going to bring him down? at that point we started hearing the capitol hill police return fire and i truly believe if the capitol hill police had not been there, most people would have been killed. >> and there wouldn't had been there had there not been leadership. >> sort of the irony is, you know, congressman scalise suffered but had he not been there and his detail team, it would have been a disaster. >> how much now do you worry about your safety but the other members of both
[000:09:58;00] attitude changed a long time ago. it changed when gabby gifford was shot. i'm a believer in detouring. uniformed ddetouring does help. >> how long did the shooting go on? >> it's one of those things when you're in the middle of it it feels like hours but it might have been under ten minutes. >> how do members of congress go about business? you talk about deterrence but acting with people and being accessible? >> it is. i think for the most part, people are well-meaning and people come up to me all the time and say i don't agree with you on a lot of things but i'm glad you did this. i hope the game goes on tomorrow and the game is one of the best bipartisan things we do in downown.town. >> not many bipartisan -- >> my dad said the best thing. we joke around and
give each other a hard time. the game is mock [000:10:58;00] we really want to beat them but there is a lot of it. >> senator rand paul reflecting on today's tragedy. as you heard, the great divisions that permeate political life in washington were put on hold today from the president to politicians on both sides of the isle. official washington came together in shock over the attack and praise for those who responded, and now questions are beginning to emerge about whether the intense political climate played a role in the climb. white house correspondent kristen welker has more. >> reporter: with the nation so deeply divided, today rare unity. >> we are strongest when we are unified. >> reporter: the president is abandoning partisan rhetoric as he faces his first domestic crisis. >> we may have our differences but we do well in times like these to remember everyone who serves in
our nation's capital is here because above all, they love our country. congress, a bipartisan show of force. >> one nation under god indivisible. >> reporter: and an emotional rallying cry. >> we will use this occasion as one that brings us together. >> we are united in our shock. we are united in our anguish, an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. [ applause ] >> but after one of the most violent presidential campaigns in recent history, questions tonight about whether the entire country bears some responsibility for an atmosphere that's become increasing ly heated. >> this rhetoric in society over policy differences has got to stop. >> reporter: new w aow a mass shooting once again hitting close to home for america's lawmakers. the last time a member
of congress was shot, six years ago, former congresswoman gabby giffords targeted while in doesn't matter if you're democrat or republican, the shooting is an attack on all who serve. >> this is is not what today is about but there are too many guns on the street. >> reporter: it's another flash point with clear dividing lines but today those fractures forgotten. while it's expected many will attend tomorrow's congressional baseball game out of support, an administration official says the president won't attend. the white house hasn't given a reason but likely playing a role, it is very difficult to get the proper presidential security in place in such a short time. lester? >> all right. kristen welker at the white house, thank you. as we were reporting on this story across the country, there was another shooting today. this one a deadly attack at a ups package delivery facility in san francisco. authorities say a ups employee with an assault pistol opened fire in that facility
and killed three employees before killing himself. we get more tonight fr schwartz. >> looks like he's in a ups uniform. >> reporter: in san francisco, swat teams swarming behind ups trucks. >> shooter in the building. two people are down. unknown direction of the shooter. >> reporter: inside, an active shooter identified as jimmy lamb. >> he's inside the ups store. he still has his gun. >> reporter: investigators say lamb showed up with two guns for a company meeting and opened fire killing three, injuring two before being confronted by
police and committing suicide. >> this was a terrible tragedy. we recognize the impact the shooting is [000:14:59;00] >> reporter: a flood of employees dress in brown escorted to safety. others on the roof hands raised. >> i heard seven or eight shots fired. really quickly like bang, bang, bang, bang. >> reporter: neighbors like raymond dang had been watching news coverage of the shooting in virginia when he heard gunfire. >> news of one shooting interrupts news of another shooting. it's ridiculous. >> reporter: ups releasing statements saying their thoughts and prayers are with the victims. 350 employees work here. one of them maria hernandez' daughter. >> it's a place full of activity just like any other job and it could happen anywhere. it happened here. >> reporter: families trying to shake the feeling of being so close to violence on a day of mass shootings on both sides of the nation. gadi schwartz, nbc news. still ahead tonight, a deadly inferno consumes a high-rise apartment building. residents demanding to know how it spread so quickly. we'll be right back. but maybe not for people with rheumatoid arthritis. because there are options. like an "unjection™". xeljanz xr. a once daily pill for adults with moderate to severe ra for whom methotrexate did not work well.
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toll is rising in london. 12 people are now r dead. 74 others injured including 18 critically after a high-rise apartment building was engulfed in flames. unbelievable images from the scene where investigators are trying to figure out what sparked the fire that trapped so many people inside. nbc's bill neely has the latest from london. >> a nighttime inferno. hundreds trapped inside as a 24-story apartment building desen grates. they signal for help. most were asleep when the fire began at 1:00 in the morning. >> signaling help, help. >> reporter: they pleaded from the upper floors but for many, help never arrived. >> the fire just went and just took them.
there is no way they would go out. >> reporter: a nightmare caught on one neighbor's cell phone. one resident used a flashlight, another tied sheets from a [000:18:58;00] firefighter closed in. and from inside one woman filmed her terrifying ordeal. a child was saved and a baby thrown from a woman on a ninth floor window. >> the baby dropped in a straight line and the guy ran forward and the baby fell into his arms. >> reporter: the building was recently renovated, badly say residents by a company that's defending its work. firefighters are still inside recovering casualties but then they will investigate residents' claims there was no central fire alarm or sprinkler system. this was a tragedy waiting to happen. the cause still
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>> reporter: where it happened couldn't have been more all american, a fall fieall fieldbd filled with those elected to serve when that beautiful day for baseball turned grim. so striking hours after the horror, all those lawmakers back at work, s i >> true heroes of this event are the two capital police that were part of steve scalise's detail. >> reporter: texas republican joe barten had been there this morning, not just as a manager but as a dad. >> my son jack got under an suv and was very brad. my other son was in the batting cage and also was brave. >> reporter: for all the images, the memories we want to forget from today, one speaker paul ryan said the house should keep. >> our democratic colleagues gather in prayer this morning after hearing the news. >> reporter: tomorrow they will suit up again and play ball like they were practicing for, like congressman scalise has loved doing for years. >> we decided we're not going to let incidents like this change our life or
washington. we appreciate you spending part of your evening with us. that is nightly news. for this wednesday night. i'm lester holt reporting from alexandria. from all of us at nbc news, thank you for all right. we're out of answers. >> ryan's "idol" drama. this is "access hollywood." why the words insulted, shock, and anger are being used to