tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC March 28, 2016 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
2030. doors are open for you. >> don't think we will be here. congratulations, janelle we miss you. and "nightly news" is next. >> good night. break news tonight. bannic at the capitol. police open fire on a man with a gun. chaos has thousands scramble to safety. it's not the first time this suspect has triggered a major scare. stunning setback. the only person charged in the brussels bombings is set free amid a new plea for help about the mysterious man and wife. playground massacre. a horrific rising toll as the taliban targets children celebrating easter. autism movie up roar. under fire, robert de niro pulls an anti-vaccine doc from his famed film festival. a new firestorm over a widely debunked link. and keyless car dangers. deadly mistakes happening at homes across america and one mother's chilling warning how it could easily happen to you.
"nightly news" begins right now. >> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. good evening. much of the nation held its breath this afternoon at first word of gunfire ringing out at the u.s. capitol, wounding two people, sending tourists scurrying to safety and forcing government buildings into lockdown. it happened according to police after a tennessee man pulled out a weapon in the capitol visitor center, drawing fire from capitol police officers. nbc's peter alexander has late details. >> reporter: terrifying moments at the capitol, inside the visitor center, panic. capitol police with guns drawn as tourists flee. >> this way. >> get out of here! >> they said, run. they told everybody to run. >> reporter: at the white house, entrances closed as a precaution in the middle of the annual easter egg roll. police say the shooting happened
shortly after 2:30 p.m. here at the entrance to the visitor center on the east front of the u.s. capitol when a man approached the screening checkpoint, a requirement for all visitors. >> the original drew what appeared to be a weapon and pointed it at officers. an officer fired and struck the suspect. >> reporter: officials identified the man as larry dawson, age 66, from antioch, tennessee. well known to authorities. he was under a court order to stay away from the capitol. dawson was arrested last october after this outburst in the gallery overlooking the floor of the house of representatives. >> i am a prophet of god. >> reporter: a website for a community church in tennessee lists dawson as its pastor, seen here advocating for a raise in the minimum wage. >> we believe that this is an act of a single person who has frequented the capitol grounds before, and there is no reason to believe that this is anything more than a criminal act. >> reporter: a woman in the visitor center was also injured. the suspect was rushed to the hospital for surgery. the visitor center was built in part in
response to another shooting here in 1998, where a mentally ill man shot and killed two capitol police officers. tonight law enforcement officials tell nbc news the suspect's weapon was a realistic-looking pellet gun. today's scare came just hours after an active shooting drill here at the capitol. the chief of the capitol police says his system worked. lester. >> all right, peter alexander. thanks. we turn now to the urgent manhunt overseas for the brussels terror suspect known as the man in white. we're getting a new look at him on security video just released today by police, and they are pleading again with the public for help in finding this individual. this as a man identified as the suspect by local media goes free. nbc's keir simmons has the latest. >> reporter: tonight a stunning setback for investigators. the only suspect accused of terrorist assassinations, murder in connection with the brussels attacks, freed. belgian media had reported police believed faycal chef
fou was the man in white seen in this newly released security video. now prosecutors say the evidence against him is not there. more questions for belgian investigators with the clock ticking. >> the belgian authorities are beleaguered. >> reporter: and tonight the manhunt for this suspect goes on. >> they're going to have to make a greater effort, but it's going to be have to be a european-wide effort. it's not just one country. >> he looks like he's in disguise. >> reporter: we showed the video to a belgian analyst and isis expert who told us the man in white with his hat and glasses may have intended to escape. >> maybe this guy is just too important to get killed in the attacks. >> reporter: authorities conducting terror raids across europe over the weekend. meanwhile, the official number of americans who lost their lives, including justin and stephanie shults, rose to four today. >> they loved their families. they loved their friends. they were just so special, and they were so cute together. >> reporter: and today a special service for the victims of the attacks. among the congregation, first
responders who treated the injured. ♪ >> reporter: prayers but few answers for families increasingly angry. jim cain's daughter lost her husband, alexander pinczowski, at the airport. the former u.s. ambassador questioning europe's ability to stop the attacks. >> we all know that this attack could have been prevented. her husband could still be alive. there was information, intelligence that we knew these murderers were connected with isis. we know who the enemy is. >> reporter: authorities here acknowledge there was some indication that someone was coming but did not have enough specifics to head it off. meanwhile, plans to reopen the airport tomorrow have been delayed again. tomorrow morning, lester, will mark a week since the attacks. >> all right, keir. brussels not alone in its grief. the death toll rising in another unthinkable massacre overseas. at least 72 people are dead. half of them are children, and at least 320 others injured after a taliban suicide bomber blew himself up at a busy
park right near a playground, targeting christians as they celebrated easter in pakistan. nbc's bill neely is there. >> reporter: tonight the unbearable mourning has begun. a 16-year-old laid to rest, and she is far from even the youngest victim of the easter sunday horror. the bomb was felt by thousands. packed with shrapnel, it tore through a crowded park, killing scores. most of them and young children. they were taking rides when the bomb exploded, he says. tiny shoes were blown off. tiny bodies shattered. 10-year-old sahad ali was badly injured, but he's lost his parents, sister, cousins, ten from his family. what can be more painful, asks his uncle, than this? the park has always been popular, packed during holidays. it would have been just like this.
the swuicide bomber's target was deliberate, families lining up for tickets for a train ride and christians celebrating easter. the bomber killed around 40 children, many christian, but most were their muslim friends. so many children dead, and among the hundreds injured. hospitals overwhelmed, wounded parents in one, children in others. mohammed amin's wife is now in critical condition. his daughter still traumatized. she keeps screaming, bang, bang, and crying for her mother, he says. a splinter group from the taliban did this. it once pledged allegiance to isis but now murders independently. the park is now desserted. the rides abandoned. the carnage here haunting a troubled country. tonight pakistan's prime minister vowed to avenge this bombing.
so an army crackdown is likely. but that's happened before, and it hasn't stopped these attacks. this is one of the worst in a country that feels itself in a long war. >> painful images. thank you. back in this country, there's growing backlash over what some call religious freedom laws and others call anti-lgbt discrimination. in georgia, the governor says he will veto a bill that has generated a backlash. in north carolina, the governor has already signed a similar bill there. and as nbc's janet shamlian reports, he says he's not budging. >> reporter: the stakes were high. with georgia's economic viability on the line, governor nathan deal announced he'd veto a controversial religious rights bill. >> i do not think that we have to d discriminate against anyone to protect the faith based community in georgia. >> the legislation would have given businesses the right to deny service based
on religious beliefs. deal argued the bill went too far. for weeks, major companies like coke, apple, and hilton criticized the bill, and hollywood heavyweights, which generate more than $6 billion in georgia, threatened to boycott. comcast and nbc universal, our parent companies, also urged a veto. tonight disney among those cheering the decision, saying we applaud governor deal and look forward to continuing ourilm production in georgia. but some lawmakers have threatened to challenge the decision. >> the clear will of the people of georgia is in support of this legislation. >> reporter: a similar battle playing out in north carolina. >> governor mcrory, you have made a mess of our state. >> reporter: today a federal lawsuit filed over north carolina's new law limiting protections for gay and transgender people. like in georgia, major organizations like paypal and the nba have led the backlash, threatening to pull business. >> i don't agree
with -- >> reporter: now it's north carolina's governor on the hot seat. he says he's not backing down. >> the common sense is not to have a government regulation telling business who they allow in what restroom. >> reporter: the battle over gay rights and religious freedom tonight being fought one state at a time. janet shamlian, nbc news, raleigh, north carolina. and another big battle appears to be over. there's late word of a major development in apple's battle with the fbi. the justice department is now withdrawing its legal action that was intended to force apple to unlock an iphone used by one of the san bernardino attackers. nbc's pete williams joins us right now. pete, why the turnabout? >> because, lester, the justice department says tonight it has unlocked sigh he's farook's iphone and extracted the data. farook left it behind in a car. just a week ago, the fbi said an outside party suggested a way to disable the phone's security features so it could be unlocked by repeatedly guessing the pass code. now there's no need to
force apple to write software that would do the same thing, something apple vigorously opposed, saying that would jeopardy the security of all iphones. the fbi wants to know if others were involved in the shooting. officials say the data they extracted from the phone will take some time to decode. now the fbi faces a dilemma. the government generally tells the tech community when it finds a vulnerability like this, but doing that could blunts its fusful. republican front-runner donald trump continues to fire shots at ted cruz in the feud over their wives. but cruz today taking a new approach has tried to move beyond that nasty battle. let's get more from nbc's hallie jackson. >> reporter: new week, same rivalry. now playing out on the radio. >> joining me on the line -- >> reporter: donald trump versus ted cruz. >> he started it. if he didn't start it, would have never happened. nothing like this would have ever happened. >> reporter: trump, upset about that racy ad featuring a photo
of his wife. >> he knew about it. somebody even said he's the one that bought the copyrights from "gq." >> the cruz team denies that and filings show no payments from his campaign to british "gq." the super pac calls trump comments a weird conspiracy theory. ignoring the back and forth, cruz now refusing to engage. >> who cares? who cares what donald is tweeting late at night? we need real solutions for the real problems in this country. >> reporter: he's taking on trump not personally but on policy. >> he has no idea how to keep america safe from radical islamic terrorists. so instead he yells and screams and curses and attacks people and threatens lawsuits and attacks their wives and attacks their families. >> reporter: campaigning through wisconsin, cruz is talking national security, and so is trump with "the washington post," still raising eyebrows after this last week. >> this was about isis. >> by the way, could i do one thing?
this is a very good looking grun of people. could i just go around so i know who the hell i'm talking to? >> reporter: for these rivals, the battleground now, wisconsin, where governor scott walker is set to make an endorsement announcement tomorrow. the state's pivotal primary just over a week away. hallie jackson, nbc news. actor robert de niro has reversed course on a highly controversial documentary film. his privilege tribeca film festival will no longer feature a film which makes the debunked claim that vaccines cause autism. nbc's kate snow explains the rare change of heart. >> reporter: after fierce criticism from the scientific community, acting legend robert de niro made the unprecedented decision to pull the film. >> we were delighted because this was a film that purported a discredited concept. >> reporter: de niro, who has a child with autism, said after conversations with experts, they concluded we do not believe it contributes
to or furthers the discussion i had hoped for. the film, vaxxed, makes the strong allegation that the centers for disease control, quote, knew that vaccines were actually causing autism. >> everything i've been telling my patients for the last ten years has been based on a lie and a cover-up. >> reporter: it was directed by andrew wakefield, the widely discredited researcher whose 1998 study in the british medical jurn "the lancet" fueled fears about vaccines. the study was later completely retracted, and wakefield lost his medical license. in a statement about the film, wakefield said, we have just witnessed yet another example of power of corporate interests censoring free speech, art, and truth. but at least 15 studies, including an analysis of more than 1.25 million children revealed no relationship between vaccination and autism. >> vaccines are a distraction. they divert energy, time, and scientists' attention away from things that are more
valuable to helping children and families affected by autism. >> reporter: tonight, autism experts say they're relieved to see wakefield's film pulled but frustrated he's still promotiing debunked theories, misleading families desperate for answers. kate snow, nbc news, new york. there's a lot more to tell you about tonight, including a deadly mistake. a type of car system so many use to make life easier is also leading to life-threatening situations. also the major announcement today from one of the biggest names in nascar. we'll be back.
we're often reminded about the need for every home in america to have a working carbon monoxide alarm, but we rarely think the danger could come from our own garage. now a warning from safety experts that keyless ignition systems, so common in new cars today, are leading to an increasing number of drivers who accidentally leave their cars running, filling their homes with deadly fumes. here's nbc's tom costello. >> reporter: by her own admission, it was a careless, almost deadly mistake. >> to see my son in my arms, passed out from the lack of oxygen, was a moment that i would never wish on anyone. >> reporter: constance had just returned home, still dialed into a conference call from work. distracted enough that when she pulled into the garage, she forgot to push the button to shut down the car engine. over the next five hours, as they slept, carbon monoxide filled their apartment above
the garage. thankfully, at 1:00 a.m., her son parker awoke screaming from an intense headache. dizzy and sick, constance decided to drive them both to the hospital. >> when i opened the garage door, that's when i got hit with the wave of e halftime. >> reporter: a close call. firefighters said another 20 minutes could have been fatal. kidsandcars.org report at least 21 deaths and 39 nonfatal poisonings. outside chicago, the bodies of a husband and wife found by their son, a firefighter. >> it's not just older drivers that are making the mistake. we're finding that younger drivers are also making those mistakes. >> reporter: it's an easy mistake to make, especially if you have a key to be and there's no place to plug it in. you forget there's one more button you've got to push and that is the engine stop button. i've got to say i've done it myself. safety advocates want an alarm or software patch to shut down unattended cars. >> what needs to happen is an automatic shutoff device. >> reporter: government safety regulators are
studying the issue while the auto industry facing several lawsuits insists safety is a top priority and is working to further develop best practices. though some carmakers have already added a fix. constance is just glad that she and parker lived to warn others. tom costello, nbc news, washington. we're back in a moment with awe inspiring images and why a flight warning has been issued over them.
highlighting the risks of concussions in sports far beyond the football field, nascar superstar dale earnhardt jr. says he will donate his brain to science after he dies. he made the announcement on twitter after reposting a story about football players committing to do the same. as doctors study the effects of concussions on brain disease. a flight warning is in effect over the enormous volcano eruption in alaska's aleutian islands. the plume of ash began rising yesterday and is now as high as 37,000 feet. it stretches at least 400 miles.
finally tonight, a retired navy s.e.a.l. who has broken skydiving records is flying high once again for an important cause. his extreme jumps have raised more than $100,000, but his sights are set on $1 million. nbc's miguel almaguer explains why the mission is so close to him in tonight's "making a difference" report. >> reporter: andy stumpf, a retired navy s.e.a.l. feels closest to these he lost as he soars through the heavens. he's here for them. it's why he jumps. >> it's so hard to describe the loss of somebody that's that close to you but not your family. as far as i'm concerned, he was my fami. >> reporter: in 2007, stumpf lost his best friend, jason lewis, in the line of duty. the pair trained together, became s.e.a.l.s, then fought together and stood side by side in happy times. >> one of the things that i made a promise to jason is that i would always be around to take care of his family. >> reporter: the navy
s.e.a.l. foundation helps jason's family, though stumpf wanted to help the organization. his goal, raise $1 million on gofundme. the challenge, set a world record for the furthest distance flown in a wing suit. at 36,000 feet, where the temperature is freezing and you need oxygen. stumpf took the daring leap, soaring to 18 miles and the record, thinking of jason and other families like special ops chief brad caveners. >> my brother was my best friend. >> andrea lost her brother two years ago. the navy s.e.a.l. foundation provides counseling, community, and so much more. >> they promised that no one will ever be forgotten. >> reporter: stumpf is determined to keep raising money to honor other families like jason's. >> i'm just going to keep going until we get the $1 million. >> in three, two, one, see ya. >> reporter: flying through the heavens, remembering those
lost, helping the families left behind. miguel almaguer, nbc news, san diego. >> we wish him many happy landings. that will do it for us on a monday night. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching and good on t peniu. whieflameburni near right now at 6:00, wind whipped flames burning near facebook headquarters. this is on the peninsula. crews are trying to get an upper hand on the brush fire as major roads are shut down. good evening and thanks for being with us. i'm raj mathai. >> i'm jessica augeri. this is what we know. a 10 to 20 acre brush fire. this is the view from a traffic cameras about an hour ago you can see the smoke billowing unfolding near the intersection of university avenue and bay
front expressway. it is right near facebook headquarters. traffic in the area normally heavy at this time of day and only making things worse, you're looking at the traffic cameras right now. let's show you a live picture on 101. on the right part of your screen there, southbound direction it's going slow. northbound moving pretty well. police are advising drivers to avoid the area at least for the next hour because all that smoke has people just slowing down. meteorologist jeff ranieri joins us now and the crews are having a tough time because of the wind today. we have bluls rblustery conditi. where is it coming from? >> the north and west and sustained in terms of strength going ten to 20 miles per hour. you can see in aloe alto at 17. san francisco 22 and this will likely be the case over the next one to three hours. we'll continue to see these gusty winds in place here right across facebook and also the peninsula. now we did have a