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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  April 26, 2019 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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>> that's country club weather. >> we just need to join a country club. >> thanks for joining us. >> see you at 6:00. tonight, horror on the highway. authorities say a semi truck triggered this massive inferno, a driver capturing the moments just before the crash. >> oh, my god! we almost [ bleep ] died! >> tonight, the semi truck driver under arrest. a growing quarantine on campus in los angeles. at least 9 the00 students and faculty ordered to stay isolated. officials fear they've been exposed to the measles. officials on alert as violent storms take aim, snarling traffic from d.c. nboston. a deadly path of destruction across the south. chilling new video
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of a terrorist about to strike. a bomb hidden in his backpack as he walks through a luxury hotel in sri lanka and the moment the bomb explodes, blowing through a restaurant. an nfl star barred by his team after audio surfaces of him apparently threatening his fiance. a major new recall alert for a lot of baby sleepers. first, fisher-price, now another company warning parents don't put your child in it. the danger every parent should hear. >> announcer: this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt. >> good evening. the images are horrifying, a massive ball of fire on a highway when a semi truck crashed into a traffic jam. the highway outside denver remains shut down. the driver of the runaway semi is facing four counts of vehicular homicide as questions grow about what may have caused him to lose control
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and trigger that pileup. morgan chesky starts us off tonight with the latest from denver. >> reporter: tonight investigators poring over a horrific crash scene after a collision on thursday exploded into an inferno. >> all you hear is this big huge boom and then the big smoke just kind of went off all over. >> reporter: burning vehicles scattered across interstate 70. some drivers still inside. >> multiple injuries, entrance ramp to i-70 eastbound. need lots of paramedics. >> the carnage was significant. just unbelievable. >> reporter: rush hour traffic at a standstill. >> we just cured anxiety. oh, my god! >> reporter: this driver capturing a shocking moment just before the crash. a tractor trailer barreling down the shoulder. >> we almost [ bleep ] died. >> reporter: caught in the aftermath, 24 cars and 4 semi trucks, one of them a flatbed carrying lumber driven by the man police say started the deadly chain reaction. >> he loses control of the vehicle. he can't stop, doesn't
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stop and ends up colliding with several cars. >> there is part of the semi truck. >> reporter: the driver, 23-year-old rogel aguilera-mederos, suffering minor injuries. detectives confirming he was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol but tonight he's in custody facing four counts of vehicular homicide and assault. and tonight police tell me they do plan to examine the brakes of that truck in question but say they gathered enough evidence here at the scene to show that that suspect was driving recklessly. he'll be formally charged tomorrow. lester. >> all right, morgan chesky in colorado, thank you. in california over 900 students and staffers quarantined, far more than initially reported after they may have been exposed to as the latest. >> reporter: the order to immediately quarantine over 900 people at two high-profile universities sent shock waves through ucla and cal state los angeles. >> we were like, measles?
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i was like, what, where did that come from? >> reporter: at ucla, a contagious student attended classes exposing up to 127 people after some were quarantined on campus, tonight nearly everyone is self-isolated at home. >> it's really kind of jarring when you hear about it happening kind of in your own backyard. >> reporter: at cal state l.a., 787 people may have been exposed at the library. all also ordered to stay home. now the president who doctors say previously incorrectly suggested a link between autism and vaccinations is urging americans to get immunized. >> they have to get the shot. the vaccinations are so important. >> reporter: with a soaring 695 cases reported in 22 states, health officials are scrambling to stop the historic spread. the original two carriers in southern california infected at least three other people but could have exposed thousands as they passed through l.a.x., two restaurants and two universities.
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tonight on college campuses and well beyond, the fear of measles is spreading as quickly as the virus can. lester. >> miguel almaguer in los angeles, thank you. now that rough night ahead for up to 4 hmillion people living in the past of several storms tonight, all from the same weather system blamed for at least five deaths across the south. gabe gutierrez has the latest. >> reporter: tonight violent storms are marching up the east coast with torrential rain, wind, hail, and thunder. already more than 800 canceled flights in the u.s. and more than 4,000 delays. meanwhile, the south is cleaning up after a series of tornadoes. what's different about this year's season is that so-called tornado alley has been unusually quiet. instead the south has seen the brunt of the damage. in louisiana, the hard-hit town of ruston struggled with
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the loss, much more than just buildings. the winds here were at least 136 miles an hour, ripping this massive tree off its roots and tossing it into that home. inside, kendra butler and her son remington were killed. monday would have been his 15th birthday. >> he won't be here but we'll still celebrate his birthday. >> reporter: cathy jackson lost her grandson and daughter. how are you getting through this? >> god. keep the family praying. i'm praying. we take it one day at a time. >> reporter: this was one of at least eight confirmed tornadoes that slammed into louisiana, carving a path of destruction and stretched about 150 miles, lester. >> gabe, thank you. strong numbers tonight on the u.s. economy growing at a he y3.r. that's far better than most economists expected. no the battle lines being drawn tonight between president trump and his newest challenger, former vice president joe biden. the two taking swings at each other today, and biden also trying
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to answer questions about controversies arising from his past. we get it all now from nbc's andrea mitchell. >> reporter: tonight joe biden announced raising $6.3 million in the first 24 hours of his campaign, more than any of the other democrats. but on the second day he also hit some speed bumps, hesitating before greeting the women on "the view." >> i actually thought in my head when i walked out here, i mean, do i -- >> i know. >> we're friends. >> it's tricky. >> no, but i have to be aware of it. >> reporter: pressed on why he hasn't apologized to some women who accuse him of unwanted contact, although not sexual -- peli wa you to say, i'm sorry i invaded your space. >> i'm sorry i invaded your space. i am. i'm sorry this happened. >> reporter: no apology for anita hill for the way he chaired the clarence thomas confirmation hearings. hill saying biden's recent phone call expressing regret
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wasn't enough telling "the new york times," i cannot be satisfied by simply saying i'm sorry for what happened to you. >> you know, i think what she wants you to say is i'm sorry for the way i treated you, not for the way you were treated. i think that would be closer. >> i'm sorry the way she got treated. if you go back and look at what i said and didn't say, i don't think i treated her badly. >> reporter: back then democratic congresswomen criticized biden for cutting off the hearings before hill could introduce three of her witnesses, a promise they say biden made to thomas' chief sponsor, republican senator john danforth in the senate men's gym. the president has been mocking biden at "sleepy joe" and "not smart." >> i think we'd beat him easily. >> reporter: asked about the age factor, the president is 72, biden is 76. >> i am a young, vibrant man. i look at joe. ou and vibrant compared to me, i should probably go home. >> and andrea joins us now. andrea, there was also an unusual scene during the president's appearance at the nra convention. someone throwing a phone toward him.
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let's take a look at that video as we look at it. what is the secret service saying about it? >> it is startling. you can see the phone tossed toward the stage just as the president was approaching the podium. indiana sheriff's deputies detained a 31-year-old man for a mental health evaluation and the secret service tells us the president was never in any danger, lester. >> all right, andrea, thank you for that. also today the russian who formed ties with the nra in an illegal effort to infiltrate conservative political circles was sentenced to 18 months in prison. maria butina pleaded guilty in december to conspiring to act as a foreign agent under the direction of a russian official in a deal with prosecutors. tonight an nfl star has been banned from team activities by the kansas city chiefs after the leak of an audiotape in which he appears to threaten his fiancee after she accuses him of abusing their son. nbc's stephanie gosk has the disturbing recording. >> reporter: kansas city chiefs player tyreek hill was on his way to becoming the highest paid wide receiver in nfl
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history until an 11-minute audio recording apparently of the nfl star and his fiancee, crystal espinal surfaced on kctv on thursday. the couple discussing their 3-year-old son. >> he is terrified of you. >> you need to be terrified of me too, dumb [ bleep ]. >> reporter: hill then denies breaking his 3-year-old's arm. >> why does [ muted ] say daddy did it? >> i don't know. he says daddy does a lot of things. >> reporter: espinal accuses hill of punching the boy as well. >> [ muted ] kept saying daddy punches me which you do when he starts crying. what do you do? you make him open up his arms and you punch y confirmed the authenticity of the audio. both hill and espinal had been under investigation for alleged child abuse. but on wednesday the d.a.'s office outside of kansas city announced it would not press charges. >> we believe that a crime has occurred, however, the evidence in this case does not
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conclusively establish who committed this crime. >> reporter: hill said he's innocent adding, my son's health and happiness is my number one priority. neither he nor espinal responded to requests for comment today. last year the chiefs fired kareem hunt after video surfaced of the running back apparently pushing and kicking a woman in a hotel. today the chiefs held a press conference with frank clark, their newly signed defensive end, who was kicked off university of michigan's team in 2014 for hitting his girlfriend. >> it's just something i have to learn and grow from. it's something i'll continue to learn and grow from. >> reporter: meanwhile, tyreek hill waits to find out his own future. >> we're going to continue to gather the information, evaluate the information then as i said yesterday, i mean, we'll make the right decision. >> reporter: until then, hill has been told not to come back to practice. stephanie gosk, nbc news, new york. all right, let's turn to new developments now. an nbc news investigation about facilities where troubled teens are sent to get help.
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there are 22 states sending kids to clarinda academy in iowa. and after our report with thre from more former students and a nurse who says she wishes she had spoken up sooner. here is kate snow. >> reporter: jesus lopez still struggles to talk about what happened to him one night at clarinda academy. >> i told them, you know, whatever you do right here, right then, i forgive you guys. you don't have to do this. i told them, i'm not going to tell on you. >> reporter: he went there voluntarily at 17 from washington state after being in and out of more than two dozen foster homes since he was 4. he had been at the facility in rural iowaless tha he tried to run away. staff caught him and took him to his room. >> i said i want to go. wasocial worker. and they said, no, you're not calling nobody. >> reporter: jesus harsh physical restraints repeatedly even though he says he wasn't posing a
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threat. >> and what they did was really painful, and they just kept slamming my butt against the floor, and my head was hitting the floor. >> everything that jesus says is true. >> and how do you know it's true? >> because i was there and i saw it. >> reporter: acelynn johnson worked as a a nurse at clarinda and decided to speak out after seeing our first report. >> tonight we reported a school in iowa in most students were sent from other states. >> it's a routine practice to do restraints that are more painful than what they should be. >> reporter: johnson says every time jesus refused to go to bed that night, staff pulled him to his feet. >> with his arms behind his back, lift him up and throw his butt on the ground and then push him forward. >> his forehead is hitting the ground. >> it is, and it hit the ground more than once. >> why are they dropping him? why are they forcing him down to the
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ground over and over? >> they're abusing him. >> reporter: jesus gave us photos. >> i had bruises on my forehead, my legs, both my legs. my arms and my back. when i woke up i didn't want to look at myself. >> reporter: johnson reported the incident to her superiors and to the state of iowa. in a statement, clarinda academy's parent company, sequel, said the staff did not use proper restraint technique and that all employees involved received disciplinary action. each are still sequel employees. a month after the incident, johnson lost her job. sequel says she had allowed a student to use her personal cell phone, which she denies, and had more serious professional infractions. why do you think you were fired? >> i was fired because sequel's reputation. >> why? >> because they knew that i wouldn't keep my mouth shut. >> reporter: johnson says there are many caring people working at clarinda, that the training is thorough but then can be
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discarded in practice. the state of iowa investigating jesus' incident found staff had been working double shifts, 16 hours or more. one of the employees had been reprimanded for improper restraints three times before. >> i relate the staff at clarinda academy much to like a gang, and there becomes a code of silence is essentially what happens. >> reporter: sequel notes the incident with jesus occurred more than 3 1/2 years ago and says its residential facilities are now adopting a new program minimizing physical restraints. >> hopefully when i wake up one day i can know my brothers and sisters are safe. >> reporter: jesus is working now and giving talks about foster care. acelynn johnson wants him to know she's sorry she didn't speak up sooner. broken kid that needed some care, some love, somebody to sit down with him when he doesn't want to go to bed at night and talk through what's going on, not shut the door in his room and physically abuse him and make what's already happened in
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his life worse. >> reporter: iowa is now reviewing whether to renew sequel's kate snow, nbc news. we've got a lot more to tell you about as we continue tonight. just ahead, terrifying new video of the blast inside one of the hotels in the sri lanka attacks and new images of the suspected bomber moments before. then the new safety recall on yet another rocking sleeper linked to infant deaths. what you need to know if you have one. stay with us.
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we are back now with that disturbing disturbing new video of a terrorist about to strike in sri lanka caught on camera lurking in a luxury hotel before setting off a bomb hidden in his backpack. here is matt bradley. >> reporter: the video shown on sri lankan tv tonight appears to show the path of a killer. a red van dropping off one of the bombers outside the kingsbury hotel in sri lanka. the suspect walking in wearing a large backpack. he's also carrying another bag as he goes
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to the reception desk to get his room key. then waits to get on the elevator. unsuspecting hotel guests passing him before going into his room. move than 12 hours later he leaves with that same backpack before finally walking into the hotel restaurant detonating the device. it was just one of eight coordinated suicide bombings that killed more than 250 people in churches and hotels in sri lanka on easter sunday. authorities blame a local militant group with ties to isis. tonight, sri lankan police are still on the hunt for more suspects. the archbishop says all sunday masses are canceled until further notice. lester. >> matt bradley tonight, thank you. coming up, the urgent recall on another popular baby
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tonight an alert for parents, the second major recall involving certain rocking sleepers for babies just this month. anne thompson has details.
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>> reporter: these are 2 of the 36 rocking sleeper models being recalled all made by kids ii. nearly 700,000 products in all. a popular item the consumer product safety commission says poses a deadly risk. >> i know some parents want to continue using these rocking sleepers. don't. >> reporter: the cpsc says there have been five infant deaths as babies roll from their backs to their stomachs unrestrained.a simila reported with fisher-price's rock 'n play sleeper earlier this month, 4.7 recalled after pressure from pediatricians and consumer advocates. 32 deaths are associated with that product. what makes incline sleepers so dangerous? >> the american academy of pediatrics states that babies should not sleep at an incline. they should be sleeping flat on their back free of bedding and not restrained. >> reporter: kids ii says it is devastated by the loss of any child and safety is its number one priority. the company is
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offering refunds or vouchers to those who have these sleepers. once thought to help parents, now a danger to the children they love. anne thompson, nbc news, new york. up next for us tonight, the young self-taught piano prodigy whose talent is inspiring america. a new tur
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story we )ve been telling you about. the five-hour standoff in fremont is coming to an end.. and a racially insensitive postcard. why the alameda county fire department -- is taking a lot of heat. next. in tonight's "inspiring america," the young piano prodigy who beat the odds and become a viral sensation. here's kristen dahlgren. ♪ for me for me >> reporter: it doesn't take long to know 7-year-old avett maness is special. >> i taught myself how to play piano. >> reporter: he was just 11 months old when mom sara watched in awe.
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>> he pulled himself up and started playing this melody. he just heard it and played it. >> reporter: even more incredible because avett can barely see. >> i'm blind in this eye and visually impaired in this eye. >> reporter: sara remembers when doctors told her he was born blind. >> it felt like i was being told he didn't have a future. ♪ >> reporter: but avett soon showed her how wrong that was. what do you want to be when you grow up? >> a rock star. >> this is nothing that came from me. this is a gift. >> reporter: a gift he's now sharing. his videos on youtube have gone viral. ♪ for all my life >> reporter: is playing piano easy? ut easy for me b else. >> his calling i world. >> reporter: a little boy with an incredible talent for playing piano and spreading joy. ♪ carry on carry on >> reporter: kristen
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dahlgren, nbc news, dayton, ohio. >> what a bundle of talent and personality. that's "nbc nightly news" for this friday. i'm lester holt. i'll see you later on "dateline." for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching and good night. year greeting card was sent out by firefighters in this shouldn't be happening to anyone. >> this chinese new year greeting card was sent out by firefighters in the east bay. tonight the chief is responding. a man accused of intentionally running over people fes> first the manhunt f gunman accused of two deadly shootings in the past 12 hours. we are live with the latest. the news at 6:00 starts right now. thanks for being with us on this friday. >> we have been tracking this breaking story on air and online
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for the past few hours. this is 43-year-old stephen jefferson. police departments are looking for him for two separate homicides. >> jean elle has the late breaking details. >> reporter: officers here are at the latest shooting scene processing evidence. police believe he shot and killed a man in the street on the 2600 block of walker drive at 2:30 this afternoon. police say witnesses told them they heard a pop and saw a man lying in the street shot. they just released surveillance pictures of the suspect. they say this is wha jefferson ike wearing dark clothing with a bright nike shirt. they say he drove off from the san francisco shooting scene in a black four door

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