tv ABC World News Tonight With David Muir ABC March 31, 2022 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
tonight, as we come on the air in the west, with gas prices at a 40-year high, president biden taking steps, hoping to slow inflation and lower energy costs. the president under pressure to bring down gas prices, averaging nearly $6 a gallon in california. today, announcing he's tapping into the nation's strategic oil reserve with the largest ever release, up to 180 million barrels over the next six months. how long will it take to see gas prices drop? rebecca jarvis standing by. overseas tonight, russian forces leaving chernobyl, leaving control of the nuclear power plant waback to ukraine, russian soldiers reportedly get sick. amid new images of fighting,
president biden today suggesting vladimir putin is now self-isolating, saying there is no clear evidence he's pulling troops from kyiv. james longman in the capital, when a missile strike hits a residential neighborhood behind him. breaking news tonight. details coming in about a deadly middle school shooting in south carolina. a 12-year-old student shot and killed. other children told to hide under their desks. the abc news exclusive. for the first time, we're hearing from the oscars producer about the moment he says police were ready to arrest will smith for assaulting chris rock on stage. how chris rock responded and reports tonight academy officials have now spoken to will smith. tornado watches and severe storms from florida to new york. sirens blaring in the south with at least 35 reported tornadoes in ten states. a deadly tornado touching down in florida. at least two people killed. widespread damage reported across the south. homes destroyed. and dangerous thunderstorms tonight from d.c. to philadelphia to new york city. winds gusting up to 70 miles per
hour. at least 50 million people in the storm zone. ginger zee tracking it all. former president trump's son-in-law jared kushner appearing before the january 6th committee today. kushner becoming the first trump family member and highest ranking former official from the trump white house to testify before the panel. jonathan karl standing by. and america strong. the surprise in the elementary school hallway for a beloved custodian from ukraine. good evening as we come on the air in the west. it's great to have you with us on this thursday night, i'm whit johnson, in for david. and we begin with that major announcement from president biden, with gas prices soaring at the highest levels since 2008. american families are feeling the pinch. the president ordering the release of 180 million barrels of oil from the nation's emergency supply. a record 1 million barrels per
day for six months. predicting the painful price of the pump will go down fairly significantly. but still, there are questions about how soon struggling americans could feel some relief. abc's chief business and economics correspondent rebecca jarvis leads us off. >> reporter: tonight, >> reporter: tonight, with gasoline near record highs, president biden promising to lower prices with the largest ever release of oil from the nation's strategic petroleum reserve. 1 million barrels a day for the next six months, up to 180 million barrels total. >> there isn't enough supply. and the bottom line is, if we want lower gas prices, we need to have more oil supply right now. >> reporter: the additional supplies accounting for about 5% of america's daily consumption. analysts blame forces like the pandemic and political uncertainty for a drop in u.s. oil production in recent years. >> i'm calling for a "use it or lose it" policy. congress should make companies pay fees on wells on federal
leases they haven't used in years. >> reporter: the national average now $4.23, the price of a gallon of gas up $1.36 from a year ago, and up more than 60 cents in just the last month since russia invaded ukraine. >> we have seen some measure of relief in the last couple of weeks. oil prices have backed off of the high. as a result of the spr announcement today, the downturn could accelerate and the national average could fall back under $4 a gallon, as long as nothing changes over the next three weeks. >> reporter: in california, where gas is now $5.90 a gallon, the most expensive in the nation, relief can't come soon enough. >> this is insane. what do they think we are, all rockefellers? >> reporter: sergio says it's getting difficult to fill up his company's trucks. >> you look at $600 to fill up that truck. it's all going up and up. when is it going to stop? >> and that's exactly what people want to know. let's bring in rebecca jarvis. and rebecca, give us a sense how long it could take for americans to feel some relief at the pump,
and how much could prices fall? >> reporter: well, whit, we should start to see this fairly quickly, as oil prices, which are the main driver of what you pay at the pump, have also been falling on this news. but analysts warn that prices might not get much farther below $4 a gallon, that this measure was really intended and will really help to keep prices from getting to that $5 a gallon level. whit? >> all right, rebecca, thank you. now to those new developments in the war in ukraine, and tonight, russian forces are leaving chernobyl, returning control of the nuclear power plant back to ukraine. some of their soldiers reportedly getting sick. russia focusing its brutal assault on mariupol. this video from russian state media, a tank firing randomly into a neighborhood. and though russia said they were pulling back from kyiv, abc's james longman was there when the city came under fire. >> reporter: tonight, russia abandoning control of chernobyl. ukraine's state nuclear company confirming that troops have left, and also saying the
russians have dug trenches in the most contaminated parts of the exclusion zone, receiving significant doses of radiation. there are even unconfirmed reports of russian troops being treated for radiation sickness in belarus. and as they pull back, more strikes come in. as i was reporting live from kyiv this morning, the sound of an incoming missile -- and then it hit. smoke rising from the capital. we just heard an enormous explosion here towards the north of where we're standing. and you can see there, deep, dark smoke rising into the -- into the sky. now, we're not sure what's been hit. later in the evening, another strike on the same area. no word yet on what the target was, but this was very close to the city center. another strike near kharkiv, this time on a gas pipeline, leaving multiple fires burning. this verified video circulating online shows a crater in the ground ablaze. russians seen here firing
indiscriminately into building in a mariupol neighborhood. verified video circulated online by a journalist embedded with the russian military show the intense fighting. this village outside chernihiv now back under ukrainian control. residents forced to leave. signs of russian defeat everywhere. and this is what it leaves behind. in a recently liberated area north of kyiv, graphic video shows the bodies of fallen soldiers on the ground and in the brush. and look at this damage. the village decimated. but the ground invasion largely in disarray. the white house believes putin has been misinformed and misled by his own generals. >> not saying this with a certainty. he seems to be self-isolating and there's some indication that he has fired or put under house arrest some of his advisers. >> reporter: a top british spy chief with this devastating assessment. >> we've seen russian soldiers, short of weapons and morale, refusing to carry out orders, sabotaging their own equipment,
and even accidentally shooting down their own aircraft. >> reporter: it's estimated that some 10,000 russian soldiers have been killed so far, but russia hides the truth of this war from its own people. so, a hotline at a secret location in kyiv has been set up so russian families can get news of their loved ones. what it's like for you though? how must you feel having to deliver this very, very serious news to your enemy? it must be difficult for you to kind of reconcile that, right? "you know, at first, it was hard," she tells me. "even now, when i speak about it, tears come." i can see she's getting emotional about it. but she says she knows she's doing important work. >> amazing, those russian families just trying to get the truth. james longman with us again from kyiv tonight. and james, russian president vladimir putin signed a decree
to add 134,000 conscripts to the russian military today. that's getting a lot of attention. but the kremlin insists the callup has nothing to do with the war in ukraine? >> reporter: well, whit, the draft does happen twice a year where men aged between 18 and 27 get called up to serve in the russian military for a year. there is no official mention of ukraine this time, but we do know conscripts are fighting here and a lot of young men have been leaving russia to avoid joining them. whit? >> james longman, our thanks to you tonight. also tonight, the ukrainian refugee crisis is reaching america's shores. more and more people fleeing the violence are arriving at border crossings in mexico. whole families camping out at the port of entry in tijuana, asking for asylum. some are being allowed to cross under an exemption in the law. abc's will carr is at the border tonight. >> reporter: tonight, ukrainian families flooding the border of the united states. kids, bags, and fatigued faces all packing in tight on this block in tijuana. some wedged into this bus
station. others camping in cold, rainy conditions. >> every day, it's more and more and more. there's so many babies, pregnant woman, babies who need medicine. >> reporter: with president biden pledging to allow up to 100,000 ukrainians into the u.s., the numbers in tijuana growing exponentially. wednesday, there were roughly 200 ukrainians here. today, more than 600. all hoping to hear their names called off this list. alena zhutnyk's family arriving two days ago. her kids drawing ukrainian flags on the mexican sidewalk while they wait. how hard has this been on you? "emotionally, it's very hard," she tells me. "we haven't been bathing. it's a very hard situation." ukrainians have been able to enter the u.s. under an exemption to title 42, a federal policy that's put a halt to asylum requests at the border because of the pandemic. now, there are more people showing up than can be processed.
tonight, with this bus station and block packed with ukrainians, there are still far more migrants from other countries here in tijuana. and because of title 42, the city's shelters are jam-packed, and that's a big concern, because everybody believes that this camp is only going to get bigger. whit? >> the war in ukraine now a global crisis. clear to see there. will, thank you. now, to that abc news exclusive. the producer of the oscars, will packer, speaking out for the first time about what happened after that infamous slap. and tonight, what comedian chris rock told an emotional crowd at his first performance since the incident. here's abc's kayna whitworth. >> oh, wow! >> reporter: tonight, one of the producers of the oscars revealing exclusively to abc news exactly what happened behind the scenes moments after will smith slapped chris rock on stage for making a joke about his wife, jada. will packer, who lead the show's first all-black production team that night, speaking exclusively to t.j. holmes, saying the lapd came to his office and spoke to
rock. >> they were saying, you know, this is battery, was a word they used in that moment. they said, we will go get him. we are prepared. we're prepared to get him right now. you can press charges, we can arrest him. you have -- they were laying out the options. and as they were talking, chris was -- he was being very dismissive of those options. he was like, no, i'm fine. he was like, no, no, no. and even to the point where i said, "rock, let them finish." the lapd officers finished laying out what his options were and they said, you know, would you like us to take any action? and he said no. he said no. >> reporter: packer telling abc news he did not speak to will smith directly at all the night of the oscars. in boston last night, rock addressing the incident publicly for the first time before a soldout audience. fans giving him a standing ovation.
>> how was your weekend? >> reporter: in video shot from the upper balcony, the comedian telling the crowd he has not prepared any jokes about the slap. >> i don't have, like, a bunch of [ bleep ] about what happened. i'm still kind of processing what happened. so -- at some point i'll talk about this [ bleep ]? >> reporter: and whit, abc news now is working to confirm some reporting from "variety" that will smith had a meeting earlier this week with key members from the academy in which he apologized again. what we do know is that will smith will receive a 15 days notice before an official vote is taken on his violation. whit? >> kayna, thank you. and be sure to tune into gm in the morning for much more of t.j.'s exclusive interview with will packer and that stunning oscar moment. next, to the severe weather threat as we come on the air. 50 million people under weather alerts from the mid-atlantic to the northeast. damaging winds up to 70 miles
per hour and tornado watches for multiple states. deadly storms bringing 35 reported tornadoes across ten states in the past 24 hours. west of tallahassee, a reported pre-dawn tornado killing at least two people here, injuring three more. daybreak revealing a trail of destruction. near lafayette, louisiana, body camera video showing an officer racing to rescue drivers from a multicar accident. mississippi hammered overnight. search and rescue teams checking for victims near hattiesburg after reports of an elderly woman trapped inside. and the storm blowing across penn state this afternoon. those giant cranes spinning in the wind. abc's chief meteorologist ginger zee was in jackson, mississippi, when the storm hit there. she now joins us us from outside nw york city. what can we expect throughout the night? >> reporter: yes, that long line of storms is crossing scranton right now. it has imbedded severe thunderstorm warnings in it and we should see it here across the
i-95 corridor between two to three hours are now. so, let's look at the maps. we've got severe thunderstorm watches from albany back to washington, d.c., virginia, maryland, and north carolina have existing tornado watches e hn spups in both north carolina and virginia, so take that seriously yet tonight. a watch means prepare now. when you get a warning, you have to take shelter immediately to get out of that path of that storm. so, it will cross over queens and long island into the 10:00 hour and by the time this thing all moves on, whit, we say hello again to winter. those are snow squalls developing and enhanced by lake effect. >> and as you noted, important for people in the storm zone to stay inside. jing ore, thank you. to washington now, and new developments in the investigation of the capitol riot. jared kushner testifying before the house committee, the first trump family member to be questioned. and it comes as we're learning the justice department is expanding its own investigation, now looking into the planning and the efforts to interfere with certification of the election for joe biden. here's abc's chief washington
correspondent jonathan karl. >> reporter: today, jared kushner became the first member of the trump family to be questioned by the january 6th committee. kushner was a top trump adviser, but on january 6th, he was traveling from saudi arabia and didn't even go to the white house when he landed in d.c. that afternoon, telling one republican congressman back then, according to a source, "we'll just get in a fight if i go over there." >> if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore. >> reporter: the organizers of the rally before the attack on the capitol are now part of an expanding investigation being conducted by the justice department. abc news has learned federal prosecutors are now looking beyond the rioters who stormed the capitol, seeking information, according to a subpoena reviewed by abc, quote, relating to the participation and/or coordination of any member, employee, or agent of the executive branch or the legislative branch, in the planning or execution of any rally or any attempt to delay or influence the certification of electors.
thatcould include people in trump's inner circle and the former president himself. jared kushner's deposition today lasted most of the day. one member of the january 6th committee described it as really helpful. of course, the committee hopes soon speak to ivanka trump who, unlike kushner, was actually at the white house with her father on january 6th. whit? jon karl, thanks. when we come back tonight, late details about a deadly school shooting. a 12-year-old student shot and killed. what authorities are now saying about the suspect. and the popular food being recalled in 18 states. we'll tell you why. maybe it's another refill at your favorite diner... or waiting for the 7:12 bus... or sunday afternoon in the produce aisle. these moments may not seem remarkable. but at pfizer, protecting the regular routine, and everyday drives us to reach for exceptional. working to impact hundreds of millions of lives... young and old.
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they're all about to surprise mrs. lana, their beloved custodian from ukraine. she's worked there for 21 years. and when the teachers, students and parents heard mrs. lana has dozens of family members back in ukraine, they got an idea. lining the school hallways with drawings of sunflowers, the national flower of ukraine. the messages -- "peace for ukraine," "hope for ukraine," "we love you, mrs. lana." and then the surprise. >> good morning, mrs. lana. >> reporter: walking in, she sees it. the ukrainian flag. >> thank you, thank you. >> reporter: the sunflowers. >> thank you, thank you. i really do appreciate. >> reporter: down the hall -- it keeps going. >> wow, this is so nice. thank you, thank you, thank you. >> so many people stayed after school -- >> i really do appreciate it. >> and the just in support -- of course, of course. but we just want to -- we
support you, lana. we love you. >> thank you. >> reporter: tonight, mrs. lana on that moment. >> i feel was really, really forced speechless. i don't know what to say. hugs, prayers from everybody. i've really, really appreciate for everybody what they done for me. >> reporter: and her school with a special message for her. >> we love you, mrs. lana. >> we love you, mrs. lana. >> way to go, oak hill elementary. touching all of us tonight. thanks so much for watching. i'm whit johnson in new york. have a great night
>> hear from the man who was carjacked on the bay bridge. >> it is a mess and it is in the official report on how this actually happened. millions of dollars of taxpayer money in the rain. experts tell the i-team this report is actually terrible. >> california lawmakers extended the affection -- the eviction been while some bay area tenants say that is not enough to pay rent. >> building a better bay area, moving forward, finding solutions. this is abc seven news. >> we are hearing exclusively from a man at the center of a dramatic carjacking on the bay bridge. a crime that cripples traffic for hours.
>> look at drivers headed to and from, heavy traffic, especially on this side but at least it is moving a little bit. a little story. >> this is gridlock that thousands were stuck in. an armed suspect carjacked a san francisco man's truck after an accident in between san francisco here and the island. >> i think that is my last day. he just took the car and he left. >> he feared he would die after coming face-to-face with an armed man in the bay bridge. >> could you believe it was happening? >> i have never seen something like that. because it began when the ford suv started weaving in traffic. >> it hit my car.