tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC December 31, 2019 2:07am-2:36am PST
and new year's day. with the dramatic rise of measles cases, the new ultimatum in one big city no vaccine, no school. the mystery in the sky. why are dozens of drones swarming over colorado and our moving tribute to some of the legends we lost this past year. >> announcer: this is "nbc nightly news" with lester holt good evening i'm peter alexander in for lester tonight we're learning new details about what may have motivated armed men in two separate attacks to invade places of worship over the holidays in texas the hero who stopped a gunman inside the church is speaking out about that terrifying confrontation. and in new york, federal prosecutors now filing hate crime charges against the man accused of bursting into a rabbi's home and stabbing five people during a hanukkah celebration. tonight authorities revealed the suspect's anti-semitic messages. and that's where we begin with nbc's kathy park. >> reporter: tonight a chilling look at the moment police say
thomas launched an attack at a jewish congregation celebrating hanukkah today court documents allege he said "no one is leaving" as he charged through a packed rabbi's home in a suburb of new york josef gluck used his table to fight off the attack. >> i saw he's looking at me. i smashed it in his face. >> reporter: hours later police found thomas in manhattan in his car smelling of bleach authorities say he had a machete and a knife. both had traces of dried blood. in his home, the fbi said they found handwritten journals which included references to hitler and nazi culture and drawings of a swastika and star of david. authorities say his phone shows thomas had been searching for nearby temples. >> we'll have patrols of different ethnic backgrounds working together to send a message hate won't be tolerated. >> reporter: local officials promised increased security amid fears of rising anti-semitism like the deadly attack on a jersey city deli
nationwide, there were more than 1,800 anti-semitic incidents last year. but today thomas' mother and attorney says he suffers from mental illness >> my impression speaking with him he needs serious psychiatric evaluation. >> reporter: of the five hasidic men injured in the attack, one is still in critical condition and thomas pleaded not guilty to all five counts of attempted murder his attorney asked that his client undergo a mental health evaluation. peter? >> kathy park, thank you. tonight the gunman in the church -- in the deadly church shooting in ft. worth, texas, has been identified as we hear for the first time from the hero security guard that stopped the shooter and likely prevented more violence nbc's blayne alexander is there tonight >> reporter: it took less than six seconds to shatter the peace at west freeway church police say
34-year-old keith thomas walked into the sanctuary and sat among the congregation rds seth someonen an fire twice. just seconds later, he is fatally shot by armed members of the church's volunteer security team. >> i fired one round the subject went down. >> reporter: jack wilson trains that team here at his home gun range. he says the shooter immediately raised a red flag. >> the wig, the fake beard, and he kept trying to adjust it. there was concern there was a possible threat. >> reporter: from the moment he walked in. >> from the moment he walked in, yes. >> reporter: officials are not yet releasing a motive and tonight, we're learning more about those in his path 67-year-old richard white, a member of the volunteer security team from his grieving family, god placed you where you were needed. evil and sacrificed your life. and 64-year-old tony wallace, a grandfather serving communion when he was shot his daughter says.
>> he didn't have to take an innocent life. my dad was a great man. >> reporter: it comes two years after 26 people were killed at first baptist church in sutherland springs, texas. soon after members here started their own security team, a controversial concept with some critics, but wilson says he has no doubt his team saved lives. >> i don't feel like i killed a human i killed an evil and that's how i'm coping with the situation. >> reporter: and tonight, members are starting to gather here at the church for a closed prayer service this evening as one member told me, peter, here they are family and this is a place of healing peter? >> blayne alexander in texas tonight, thank you. also tonight, 26 million people are under winter weather alerts ahead of the new year's holiday as a massive storm moves through the midwest to ice are bad st an enough, but add a whipping wind and life quickly comes to aandsll, whics exactly what happened to millions from the upper midwest to the east coast
in the dakotas, a blizzard sent cars skidding off the roads. forcing officials there to actually shut down parts of the interstate in minnesota, icy conditions led to a head-on collision between a car and a garbage truck. the danger of downed power lines on display just outside of detroit. high winds in ohio left tens of thousands without power. in some places gusts surging to 70 miles per hour while in the northeast, the rain hit freezing temperatures on the ground, turning to a thick coating of ice. combined with the wind, tree branches and power lines didn't stand a chance a driving rain in new to preparations for new year's eve the annual test of the times square ball went off without a hitch. i have some good news for the estimated 1.5 million people expected out here in times square for new year's eve, this rain is going to clear out and the temperatures
should be above freezing peter? >> stephanie gosk picking out a prime spot tonight, thank you. we want to bring in meteorologist dylan dreyer tonight what can we expect as the storm moves east >> good evening, peter. it has been a messy day for so many. the storm system will try to pull away but we'll see the storm continue across the great lakes. across central and northern new england on the backside of it, winds will increase a bit so it is going to be a bit gusty tomorrow and those gusty winds could create more lake effect snow across the eastern great lakes. for your new year's eve day forecast, we're looking for chilly air and a bit messy in the northwest with mountain snow and lingering snow showers and for midnight on new year's eve, clear skies in new york city for the big ball drop. it cools off in the northern plains and messy in the northwest. peter? >> dylan, thanks so much tonight a round of punishing air strikes is raising the stakes in the stand off between the u.s. and iran it comes as president trump ahead of an impeachment trial is
facing questions about the lengths he was reportedly willing to go to pressure ukraine to carry out his agenda nbc's kristen welker has the story. >> reporter: tonight, new video of bombed out weapons storage sites after the united states launched air strikes against five targets in iraq and syria belonging to an iranian-backed militia that took aim at american forces. >> president trump has been patient and made clear at the same time when americans' lives were at risk, we would respond. >> reporter: it comes as president trump is intensifying his battle back at home over impeachment and today, new details about the central issue, the president's decision to withhold militaexchange for investigations to the 2016 election and the bidens "the new york times" reportin the president's demands dated back to june, earlier than his july 25th call with the president of chief of staff mick mulvaney played a key role, and the threat
sent shock waves with one white house adviser warning, "the times" reports on an oval office meeting in august where mark esper, secretary of state mike pompeo, and former national security adviser john bolton tried but failed to convince the president to release the aid. the white house declined to comment. the senate's top democrat, chuck schumer, says it underscores the need for those officials to testify in a senate trial. peter? >> kristen welker with the president in florida tonight. kristen, thank you messages of support are pouring in this evening for the civil rights pioneer and long-time congressman john lewis who revealed he's battling an aggressive form of cancer nbc's jeff bennett reports. >> reporter: an outpouring of support for john lewis, anlineof the civil rights movement facing a foe like none before, stage iv pancreatic cancer.
former president barack obama tweeting, if there's one thing i love about john lewis, his will to fight.lewis in a st saying i have been in some kind of fight for freedom, equality, basic human rights for nearly my entire life. i have never faced a fight quite like the one i have now the 79-year-old vowing to fight the disease with the same tenacity with which he fought for racial equality, joining sit-ins, challenging jim crow laws, organizing and speaking at the march on washington alongside the reverend dr. martin luther king jr. and being brutally beaten by alabama state troopers in 1965 while peacefully demonstrating for voting rights. lewis, now serving his 17th term, often of congress. the prognosis for his form of cancer igr undeterred congressman lewis saysent. peter? >> we share good wishes as well thank you. just ahead how the threat measles is prompting one city to crack down on families
we're back with a crackdown to stop the record-setting spread of measles starting next week seattle students not vaccinated cannot go back to school we get more from nbc's joe fryer. >> reporter: schools in seattle are closed for winter break . >> for me, vaccinations is very important. >> reporter: the school district is hosting free immunization clinics because starting january 8th students without up-to-date vaccination records can't go to class. right now that's about 2,000 kids. >> if a student arrives and they are not up to date, they will, of course, have to be kept out of class. >> reporter: this year saw the most measles
cases in the u.s. in 27 years with nearly 1,300 cases in 31 states in washington state, two outbreaks prompted lawmakers to remove personal and philosophical exemptions for the mmr vaccine. the goal, get more kids immunized the threat of measles was most recently felt in samoa where an epidemic left at least 81 dead, mostly children more american schools are taking action hoping to stop a preventable disease. joe fryer, nbc news. next, that mystery in the sky, the swarms of giant drones lighting up the night and leaving authorities stumped.
back now with the strange sightings in the night sky that are unnerving homeowners mysterious swarms of giant drones flying in formation and no one seems to know why. gadi schwartz reports. >> reporter: tonight, a growing mystery in the night sky over colorado fleets of unidentified drones reportedly
flying in grid patterns even spotted by law enforcement. >> i had what i believe to be a drone pass over me headed east towards yuma. >> reporter: some residents giving chase. >> we got close to one, and it descended, i swear it got closer to us and then the lights shut off. >> reporter: so far this video they shot is the best evidence to emerge. the sightings reported across five counties in colorado as many as 30 drones flying in formation some with wingspans estimated at six feet with the faa saying they don't have any concrete information to act on. on facebook, some residents asking, can we shoot them down if over our property? but authorities warn shooting at them is dangerous and unlawful. and at this point, while the drones may be mysterious, they don't appear malicious. gadi schwartz, nbc news coming up right here, our tribute to some of the best and brightest.
finally tonight, they are unforgettable. the people who had an impact on our culture and on our lives they were in entertainment, business, politics, sports and beyond. tonight our tribute to some of those who left us this year ♪ paradise, man. welcome to your dream come true. >> i'm going to snap you like a twig. >> oh! ♪ >> hi. >> hi, how are ya? >> there is something i don't understand here come here a minute [ laughter ] >> chewy
♪ get your motor running ♪ ♪ head out on the highway ♪ ♪ looking for adventure ♪ ♪ in whatever comes our way ♪ ♪ born to be wild ♪ born to be wild ♪ when i was just a little girl, i asked be ♪ ♪ will i be prey will i be ri ♪ here's what she sai to me ♪ ♪ ♪ whatever will be will be ♪ ♪ the future's not ours to see ♪
♪ who is the leader o the club made for you and me ♪ >> mouseketeers roll call count off now ♪ this is the way we get a mouse cart for you and me ♪ ♪ ♪ i'm pop eye the sailor man ♪ ♪ i'm popeye the sailor man ♪ >> you're turning violet, violet >> what are you talking about? ♪ ♪ of the blue bird as she sings ♪ ♪ the 6:00 alarm woul never ring ♪ ♪ i rise wipe the sleep out of my eyes ♪
life ♪ ♪ before the parade passes by i'm going to get some life back into my life ♪ ♪ with the rest of them with the best of them ♪ ♪ i can hold my head up high ♪ heart coming alive again ♪ ♪ i'm going to feel m ♪ before the parade passes by ♪ >> jerry, marty. >> how are you doing >> want to hear a joke >> there's a poem and a very simple poem but one i live by. says i only have a minute, 60 seconds forced upon me i did not choose it but i know that i must use it, give account if i abuse it
suffer if i lose it. only a tiny little minute, but eternity is in it. >> take care big bird. >> take care big bird. bye, big bird. >> don't forget, big our thanks to our ucer katie ad editor barry silverman for that moving tribute. that is nightly news for this monday. i'm peter alexander. we thank you for watching and have a good night ♪
almost new year's, y'all, your ready for an intimate hour, coming to close, taking a stroll touching moments of being on the show so far. and welcome looking back the biggest thing that happened to me in 2019 was starting my own k show. because that is fair. they gave me a show. i was not exactly sure what to expect. i never have done a talk show before. i do like to talk a lot, but one thing that came as a bit of a surprise was how often guests make me cry. even for me it was shocking. sometimes straight out bawling, just watch. i am crying, it's fine. ♪
it is good. i am crying with you, i don't even know them. i it is beautiful, i can't stop crying. is fine. everything is fine. it is so beautiful. this was better in the space. i'm trying so hard to stop crying and get you out of here, but i could not. okay. i just need a minute. i'm not rachel mcadams. [laughter] once i connect with people, there is no fighting back the tears for me. and all our you will probably be fighting them back as well. a moment that totally caught me off guard. i was getting my first reading from teresa caputo, though long island medium, connecting with people in the room, none directed to me. standing behind the camera, was