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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  March 18, 2019 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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that's a little good underlying news. >> and wednesday cenis the firs day of spring. >> yes, it is. >> lester holt is next and then we'll be back at 6:00. see you then. tonight a pair of disasters raging out of control. a massive inferno exploding near houston and a plume of thick, black smoke billowing for miles near one of the biggest cities in america. officials warning it could keep burning for days. to the north, states of emergency from a record-shattering flood disaster. cities and towns overwhelmed by water, and cut off. meghan mccain firing back after president trump goes on a tirade, attacking her father, over six months after his death. >> he spends his weekend obsessing over great men because he knows it and i know it and all of you know it, he will never be a great man. an accused killer in court. the man authorities say murdered
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a mob boss in front of his home. the messages he scrawled on his hands flashing them for the cameras to see. a big reversal from doctors about that daily dose of aspirin in preventing heart attacks. what everyone watching should hear. a stunning new turn in the case of a violent shove caught on camera. the teenager seen pushing her friend off a bridge, plunging 60 feet below. a police officer dragged down the street in a swarm of atvs. tonight, the hunt for the driver amid a growing nuisance in cities around the country. the young chess champ beating the odds and inspiring america. tonight, has one of the world's most infamous mysteries finally been solved?:his is "nb nightly news" with lester holt. good evening and welcome to our viewers in the west. we're following two dangerous situations developing as we come on the air tonight. a raging inferno in houston, and the massive flooding in nebraska that has left entire communities cut off. we'll go there in a moment. but unfolding, as we say, that pet rowchemical fire
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just outside houston now in its second day, spewing a dangerous tower of black smoke tonight visible for miles. more than a half dozen storage tanks have caught fire and authorities are monitoring air quality. our gabe gutierrez is there with the latest. >> i've seen nothing like this for this long. ever. >> reporter: tonight, this massive fire at a petrochemical plant near houston is still raging after spreading to seven storage tanks. thick, black smoke billowing for miles. >> this is the worst i've seen in the last 12 years. >> reporter: the blaze started sunday morning, then it spread overnight. the tanks were filled with chemicals used in gasoline, paint thinners, and glues that problems, and skin irritation. authorities now saying it could take two more days to douse the flames. >>rg to work with foam and water to control and prevent the fire from spreading. >> reporter: still, they lifted a shelter in place order for the town of deer park, texas, and say it's safe.
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>> we continue monitoring the air quality in and around the areas in several locations. as of this time, they're still within normal range. >> reporter: it's not clear how the fire started. no injuries have been reported. as a precaution, schools in the area were closed today. residents like michael comber are on high alert. >> everything out there is under pressure. it's got gasoline and, along with it, other chemicals. >> reporter: public health officials say the plume is high enough off the ground so that it's not affecting us here, but local authorities say they are monitoring wind conditions very carefully and are on standby in case this smoke descends. lester? >> dangerous and dramatic background there, gabe, thank you. another emergency we're following tonight, the historic flood disaster in the midwest and plains. at least three people are dead, 10 million are under flood warnings and advisories. nbc's kathy park is in hard-hit fremont, nebraska, northwest of omaha. >> reporter: record-high rivers turn small, midwest towns into
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islands. offutt air force base near omaha under feet of water. entire parking lots submerged. in nebraska, extreme flooding cut off communities across the state as the water raced in. some homeowners have been stranded for days. >> i can't believe how much water came in. it's insane. >> reporter: heavy rain and significant snow melt fueled this disaster. the worst the region has seen in decades. minnesota, wisconsin, iowa, and illinois also hit hard. river gauges there near or above flood stage. national guard soldiers are pulling people and pets to safety. strangers also pitching in. >> this is what nebraskans do. we pull up our britches and help each other. >> reporter: russ zime says the lake is now in his home and the water could take days to recede. >> the sad thing is the personal memorabilia and family heirlooms and stuff like that. they're priceless and can't be replaced. >> reporter: historic flooding quick to move in, now slow to
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move out. as the waters here slowly start to recede, states south of the region could be next. river flooding is likely in the coming weeks as the floodwaters head downstream toward the gulf of mexico. lester? >> all right, kathy park in nebraska tonight, thank you. this evening nbc news has confirmed a federal investigation is looking at boeing 737 max jet and how it was approved for flight. the max had been the best-selling plane in the world, but as we've been reporting, it was grounded last week after two crashes in five months killed more than 300 people. the question this evening, did the plane get the proper oversight before it was certified to fly? with more on that, here's nbc's tom costello. >> reporter: with the world's 737 max fleet grounded, a federal grand jury is investigating the development of the boeing max and how the faa certified it. understaffed and underfunded, the faa has delegated much of that process to boeing itself under a plan approved by
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congress. >> there is always a risk of delegating some of your direct certification authority over the aircraft design. but you need the manufacturer's expertise. they know their product better than anyone. >> reporter: online, the faa says the goal of the program is to identify best practices and develop strategies to streamline certification and oversight. i asked the acting faa chief last week about the interaction with boeing. did your close relationship with boeing and with the airlines in any way lead you to delay the decision to ground these planes? >> absolutely not. >> reporter: meanwhile, french investigators analyzing the black boxes from the ethiopian crash said today clear similarities were noted between the ethiopian and indonesian planes before they crashed. bad sensors on the plane or a software glitch, and a new anti-stall system called mcas, is suspected of forcing the indonesian plane down. and possibly the ethiopian airliner too. but pilots weren't told about mcas until after the indonesian crash. then given an ipad course to follow.
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before they were grounded, american airlines pilots stood by the plane, now they want simulator time. >> we don't want to see another 10 or 15-minute ipad course to tell us, here's the differences, now move along and fly. it doesn't work that way. we take this much too seriously. >> lester, late this evening, the ceo of boeing released a video statement. >> safety is at the core of who we are at boeing. soon, we'll release a software update for the 737 max that will address concerns discovered if the aftermath of the lion air 610 accident. >> meanwhile, can day says they will not rely on the faa to certify pl. firing back after president trump unleashed a days-long tirade against her father, the late senator john mccain. the president continuing to attack him more than six months after he died. we get more from nbc's kristen welker.
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>> reporter: tonight, meghan mccain's blistering rebuke. >> that tells you everything you need to know about his pathetic life right now. >> reporter: going after president trump for his new twitter attacks against her father this weekend. >> he spends his weekend obsessing over great men because he knows it and i know it and all of you know it, he will never be a great man. my father was his kryptonite in life, his kryptonite in death. >> reporter: the president's tweets come nearly seven months after senator john mccain's death from brain cancer. in one tweet, the president citing former independent counsel ken starr, who blamed a mccain ally for leaking a copy of that unverified steele dossier about mr. trump and russia. >> this is unfortunately a very tweeting mccain had r tonight, democrats blasting the tweets. >> well, it's despicable. john mccain is a hero. >> repulsive, repulsive. >> reporter: the white house on defense. >> so i will always respect and applaud senator mccain's service. i think what the president wants folks to focus on there is just
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the origins of the dossier. >> reporter: and another focus for the president? joe biden and this slip of the tongue. >> i have the most progressive record of anybody running for the united -- anybody who would run. >> reporter: the president tweeting, biden was unable to properly deliver a very simple line about his decision to run for president. get used to it, another low iq individual. biden has been hinting publicly about a possible presidential run for weeks, and telling friends that he's all but certain to launch a third presidential bid. he's expected to make a final decision by next month. lester? >> all right, kristen, thank you. there's a new twist this evening in the killing of a reputed mob boss.een a mafia hit after all. police now believe the suspect, who was in court today, may have wanted revenge over a relationship with the victim's niece. here's nbc's anne thompson. >> reporter: in court today, 24-year-old anthony comello, the man police say put 10 bullets into alleged new york mob boss
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francesco "franky boy" cali. scribbled on comello's left hand, "maga forever," "united we stand." comello nabbed in new jersey along with police say the blue pickup truck used in the crime. >> is it true you're waiving your right to extradition? >> yes, sir. >> reporter: waiving extradition to staten island where cali was gunned down in front of his home last week. >> we do not believe this was a random act. >> reporter: but is it connected to cali's role as a leader in the gambino crime family? tonight, law enforcement sources say comello was angry he was told by cali to stop seeing his niece. what ended in cali's death began with comello ramming his truck into cali's parked, >> was he acting alone? was he acting for other people? are there others involved? what is the motive? i simply, standing here, do not have all those answers for you. >> reporter: comello's attorney says his family has no answers either, promising in a statement, there is something very wrong here, and we will get
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to the bottom of it. a young man perhaps trying to end one problem now facing so many more. anne thompson, nbc news, new york. let's turn overseas now to a deadly attack today in the netherlands. investigators are trying to determine whether a suspect had an international terror motive when he opened fire on a tram, killing three people and injuring five. the suspect's family in turkey says it was part of a domestic dispute. the suspect was captured after a massive manhunt. new fallout from the deadly terror attacks in new zealand. the prime minister vowing to reform that country's gun laws in just ten days after a gunman killed 50 people at two mosques. our miguel almaguer is there with new details for us tonight. >> reporter: tonight, new accounts of heroism during 36 minutes of terror. ali adib says his father took a bullet for him. >> all he said was, take care of your mom and your brother and sister. >> reporter: abdul aziz came face to face with the shooter,
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scaring him away after grabbing one of his unloaded guns and chasing him out of the second mosque. >> i just wanted to take his focus out from the mosque. >> reporter: but already 50 lives had been taken. the suspect, brenton tarrant, in court, smiling, flashing a white power sign, his face blurred. while shootings of this magnitude in the u.s., from parkland to las vegas to sandy hook, have sparked debates over what to do about gun violence, tonight new zealand's prime minister has given a deadline to change gun laws here. >> within ten days of this horrific act of terrorism, we will have announced reforms which will, i believe, make our community safer. >> reporter: it's unclear how this country, where many people own guns, will react. meanwhile, tonight, dozens are still hospitalized. wasim and his 4-year-old daughter are suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. >> please pray for myself, for me and for my daughter.
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>> reporter: among the victims killed, refugees from syria who survived the civil war. tonight, nine people remain in critical condition. lester? >> all right, miguel almaguer outside that memorial, thank you. back home, nashville police are asking for the public's help to find an atv driver caught on camera, dragging a police sergeant down the street. officials warn swarms like these are a growing problem across the country. let's get more from kerry sanders. >> oh my god! >> reporter: a nashville police officer dragged by an atv along a downtown street. the cop tumbles violently. police say offroad dirt bikes and atvs swarmed the area with little warning whe john borque, trying to stop one driver, was entangled. >> then he just accelerated into him. >> reporter: from miami, to new york, to philadelphia and now nashville, detectives believe the throngs of offroad riders
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organize these mob takeovers of urban streets on social media. in nashville, another offroad biker in that horde slammed into a car. >> there's a place for atvs and it's not the city highways. it's not in front of my church. >> reporter: tonight, one nashville police officer is lucky he wasn't seriously injured. as investigators now try to determine who is this man? kerry sanders, nbc news. there is important news tonight about aspirin and heart health. a big reversal from doctors about who should be taking a daily aspirin after new evidence shows the daily pill could actually cause more harm than good. here's nbc news medical correspondent dr. john torres. >> reporter: it's long-standing advice followed by millions of americans, an aspirin a day can prevent a first heart attack. but now a major about-face. new guidelines from the american heart association now say adults over 70 should not be taking the drug. >> aspirin isn't harmless. >> reporter: the new recommendation comes after three large studies found that aspirin did not prevent heart attacks and strokes in older adults.
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in fact, taking it every day raised the risk of serious harm like stomach and brain bleeding. those who should not take aspirin include people over 70, anyone who does not have heart disease, anyone at risk for bleeding. for someone taking aspirin right now, what should they do? >> people taking aspirin should not just stop. they should have a conversation with their physician and really determine their individual risk versus benefit. >> dr. torres, who should still be on aspirin? >> people who have already had a heart attack or stroke, for them daily aspirin can be life saving. people at high risk of their first heart attack or stroke should consider the pros and cons of taking aspirin with their doctor, though, before they start taking it. >> dr. torres, thank you. just ahead, a major reversal this evening in the case of a teen seen on camera, violently shoving a friend off a bridge. then who was jack the ripper? has the 130-year-old mystery finally been solved? the 8-year-old chess champ whose inspiring story you have to see. stay with us. stay with us.
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next tonight, the dramatic reversal in court today for a young woman seen on video pushing a friend off a bridge and causing serious injuries. our gadi schwartz has the latest. >> ready? >> ooh! >> reporter: a violent shove caught on camera, set to be played in court in the case against then 18-year-old taylor smith, seen pushing her friend jordan helgerson off a 60-foot bridge. this morning, the teen changing her plea to guilty on the day her trial was supposed to begin, admitting to reckless f house arrest, community service, and work crew detail. jordan says it should have come >> if she would have pled guilty in the beginning of all of this, it kind of would have showed responsibility. >> reporter: back in august the video going viral, jordan hospitalized for a punctured lung and broken ribs. it was what happened prior to the shove that was expected to play prominently in the prosecution's case.
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taylor heard saying she was going to push jordan. >> jordan, i'm going to push you. >> no. >> reporter: video showing jordan shaking with fear. >> i'm so scared right now. >> jordan? go. go. >> reporter: at times, others saying jordan didn't want to jump. >> well, she's saying no. >> no. >> ready? >> ooh! >> reporter: jordan says she still has anxiety attacks and hopes, despite the plea deal, the judge sentences her former friend to jail. >> for the jail time i've spent sitting in a bed in the hospital. that she put me in. >> reporter: gadi schwartz, nbc news. >> it always remains hard to see.
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now that you know that hpv can lead to certain cancers, don't wait. talk to your child's doctor today. back now with the back now with the question, has one of the world's most infamous mysteries finally been solved? a cold case more than a century old that may have been cracked by modern technology. bill neely has details from london. >> that's not my name, i'm >> reporter: jack the ripper,
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serial killer, never caught. a murder mystery 130 years old that has fascinated moviemakers -- >> altogether a different breed of killer. >> reporter: -- and now scientists. they've published new evidence taken from a shawl belonging to catherine eddowes, one of five women jack the ripper killed. at the time of the killing spree on these streets, the bloodstained silk shawl found here offered no clues. now scientists say new dna tests link jack the ripper's fourth victim clearly to one man.-o barber, once a prime suspect. his dna taken from living relatives. scientists began analyzing it four years ago. other scientists are skeptical, saying the dna could match many suspects. tonight, ripper tours are out on the streets. >> you see the glint, the evil glint of his eyes. >> reporter: but the mystery of
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many days. what they have in common and how police plan to keep drivers safe. plus loud horns from passing trains are waking south bay neighbors before dawn. the plan from one city leader to keep them quiet. that )s next. tonight, inspiring america, the 8-year-old overcoming so many obstacles to become a chess master. here's harry smith. repter: i c? >> no. >> reporter: tanitoluwa adewumi is tenacious and smart, and like other good chess players, he simply sees things on the board his opponents do not. >> what i like most about chess is deep thinking. >> reporter: deep thinking? >> yeah. really deep. >> reporter: he handily won the new york state chess tournament
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in his age group this year, not bad for an 8-year-old who only learned to play the game a year ago. his family came to america from nigeria two years ago. christians fleeing persecution, his dad works two jobs and his mother just passed a home health care course. where do you live? >> we live in shelter. >> reporter: yes, they're homeless. so one of his coaches started a gofundme page to help out. and as tani's story spread, the money started pouring in. >> people are good. people want to support them. >> reporter: the family is overwhelmed, proud of their son who is heading to nationals in may, and stunned by the generosity of a city and country where they prayed to find refuge. >> i'm so proud of him. >> reporter: like in chess, making the right move can make all the difference. harry smith, nbc news, new york. >> here's some more good news. we've just learned the gofundme page raised over $100,000, and tani's family is moving into an apartment tomorrow.
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that's "nightly news" for this monday. i'm lester holt. for all of us, thank you for watching and good night. right n fed up with the train noise. the neighborhood in the south bay that )s fighting back against late night service. plus: three shootings in three days along our freeways. with the train noise. the neighborhood in the south bay fighting back against late night service. three shootings in three days along our freeways. s doin gun men. but first -- >> a march set to start any minute marking one day since police shot and killed an unarmed black man. the message family and friends want everyone to hear. the news at 6:00 starts right now. thank you so much for joining us. >> and i'm jessica aguirre.
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marchers are set to take to the streets of sacramento tonight to remember the death of stephon clark. clark died a year ago exactly today. tonight though there is a new push for action. taking center stage civil rights leader reverend al sharpton. that march is supposed to take off in just a little bit. >> reporter: it looks like it has just started. i want to show you what is happening right now. you can see supporters of the clark family primarily members of the local chapter of the black lives matter are startin they plan to march through the neighborhood where stephon clark was shot and killed one year ago. the clark family breathes new life into the movement. >> this case is a national disgrace. >> reporter: where he goes cameras typically follow.

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