tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC August 26, 2015 7:00pm-7:31pm EDT
tonight, the horror on live tv. a reporter and photographer gunned down with viewers watching from home. and shock waves as the killer, while on the run, posts videos of the moment he pulled the trigger. tonight the young victims, the survivor, and the shooter's turbulent history. millions trying to come to grips with what they saw. also surging back. one of the biggest gains ever on wall street. as this roller coaster ride snaps in a positive direction. the confrontation. donald trump's new fight as a high-profile anchor is tossed out of his event while trying to challenge him. also tonight, hullry clinton weighs in on a possible challenge from vice president biden. and the gathering storm barreling across the caribbean, forecast to become a hurricane with florida maybe in its sights.
"nightly news" begins right now. >> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news with lester holt." good evening. we have reported so many senseless acts of violence but never have we seen tun fold on live television as we did in roanoke virginia this morning. two young journalists murdered and a woman they were interviewing injured in a hail of bullets by a man with a gun in one hand and a rolling video camera in the other. anyone who saw it live or later on the internet has been left shaken to the core. and yes, it hits close to home. we're going to be very careful about what images we show you tonight as we take you through what happened, describe the killer's twisted social media postings and tell you about the lives he took or left shattered. let's begin with nbc's hallie jackson. >> reporter: a live television interview that started like any other ended in horror.
gunshots, screams, then silence. the broadcast quickly cutting to a stunned anchor. >> okay. not sure what happened there. we will of course let you know as soon as we find out what those sounds were from. >> reporter: hurt in the shooting, vicki gardner. she survived. 24-year-old alison parker, the reporter, and her photographer, 27-year-old adam ward, did not. >> we're all in a state of shock here. you can hear people behind us in the newsroom crying. >> reporter: ward's camera capturing this final image of the shooter, gun in hand. >> my fellow employee said that's it, that's him, that's vester. >> reporter: vester flanagan, a former reporter at the tv station, wbdj 7, known on air as bryce williams. >> the suspect is believed to be armed and dangerous. use caution. >> reporter: in the hours that followed a chaotic manhunt to find flanagan. police first tracking his ford mustang to the roanoke regional airport, then using a license plate tracker spotting him in a chevy sonic in northern virginia. as officers pursue flanagan he appears to post messages and even
videos of the shooting to his social media pages showing how close he got to the journalists. nbc news is not airing his videos. by 11:30, with police closing in he drives off the road and shoots himself. first responders take him to a d.c.-area hospital where he's pronounced dead at 1:30. >> sheriff, why do you think the suspect did this? what was the motive for this shooting? >> i'm not sure. we're looking into that. it's obvious that there was this gentleman disturbed in some way of the way things had transpired at some point in his life. it would appear things were spiraling out of control. >> reporter: now abc news is reporting it received a 23-page fax from someone claiming to be flanagan two hours after the shooting complaining of racism and bullying, referencing shoot athz columbine, virginia tech, and in charleston. the church shooting was the tipping point, he writes, "but my anger has been building steadily. i've been a human powder keg for a while, just waiting to go boom." flanagan had been
fired from wbdj 7 two years ago taking the news so badly police had to be called. >> he was sort of looking out for people to say things that he could take offense to. and eventually, after many incidents of his anger coming to the fore, we dismissed him. >> reporter: nbc news has obtained court documents showing adam ward, one of the victims, videotaped part of flanagan's violent outburst the day he was fired. for investigators here this hits home. the local sheriff had been watching this morning's broadcast when the shooting happened and had just been interviewed by alison and adam a few weeks ago. lester? >> hallie jackson tonight, thanks. we are learning a lot more about these two young victims killed. many of the details coming from their co-workers, friends, and loved ones who watched in horror, then somehow found the strength to report on a tragedy involving their own. nbc's stephanie gosk has that story.
>> reporter: alison parker and adam ward were a team, working together every morning. >> if i walked into the office in the morning and the first person i saw was either adam or alison, i got a smile on my face because they were always that way. >> hey, everyone. i'm alison parker. >> reporter: they were both virginia natives, both former interns at wbdj 7, and both found love at work. alison's boyfriend of nine months, chris hurst, is an anchor at the station. they had just moved into this apartment together. >> she wanted to do journalism that mattered, journalism that made people stand up and take notice, and she had already done that in her short time at channel 7. >> reporter: in a facebook post he said he's numb and called alison "the most radiant woman i ever met, and for some reason she loved me back." alison had just turned 24. a rising star at the station who loved the outdoors and theater. >> when i was younger, i wanted to either become a doctor or become a pharmacist. but as a journalist i get to cover those
types of fields. so it's close enough. >> reporter: she joined wbdj 7 in 2014. this was her first broadcast. >> thank you so much for waking up with me in advance. >> reporter: adam ward was 27. a virginia tech grad and huge hokies fan. >> in salem, adam ward, news 7 sports. >> reporter: he was engaged to the station's morning producer, melissa ott, who was watching at the station live. >> she's of course trying to text him, trying to get through to him. everybody trying to reach adam, trying to reach adam. >> reporter: today was supposed to be a celebration. it was his fiance's last day of work at the station. she'd taken a new job in charlotte, and adam planned to follow soon. >> we're in shock, we're devastated, we've been crying, we've been hugging. >> reporter: the third victim, 61-year-old chamber of commerce member vicki gardner, is in stable condition tonight at the hospital. a community leader who is passionate about her job. >> if there is a glimmer of good news, it looks like vicki is going to be out of the woods. >> reporter: a growing
memorial at this station in shock remembering two of their own. wbdj went live tonight at 5:00 like it always does. the general manager says they will tell their story the best. but inside the newsroom they are struggling to understand how they went from the ones who normally cover tragic events to suddenly becoming the victims of one themselves. lester? >> all right, stephanie, thank you. what happened today was unlike anything so many of us can remember. a murder on live tv. the video almost immediately surfacing online and then compounded by shocking videos of the incident from the killer himself, posted on social media while he was on the run. so many people now trying to come to grips with what they saw and where we as a society draw the line. nbc's anne thompson on a shared national trauma. >> reporter: as shocking as this angle was of today's shooting, it is this perspective, the shooter's perspective, that horrified social media. we're only showing you a freeze frame.
vester flanagan wore a camera when he shot his former colleagues and posted the video on twitter and facebook. >> it was just utterly terr terrorizing, paralyzing, chilling. >> reporter: one of the many who watched it, "washington post" media critic eric wemple. >> as twisted as tt sounds, social media savvy on the part of this killer. that is a terrible, terrible thing to consider. >> reporter: instantly on twitter users demanded the video be taken down. stephanie haberman writing, "do not retweet. do not touch. go hug someone you love instead." >> is that e best way to police this? >> no. we constantly struggle with the reality of something that's been posted. unfortunately, this video was true. >> reporter: twitter and other platforms pulled the video down. facebook saying the page and profile violated its community standards, which prohibits celebrating any crimes posters have committed. >> social media is a reflection of who we are. and sometimes that's not a very flattering
picture. >> reporter: magnified by technology, this is the latest workplace homicide. between 1997 and 2010 there were almost 900 committed by a co-worker or former co-worker. the difference this time is we could see it. anne thompson, nbc news, new york. there is a lot of other news to tell you about tonight, including a major surge on wall street. stocks bounced back in a big way after wildly plunging for several days. the dow finished up 619 points. the third biggest point gain ever. nasdaq and the s&p up as well. cnbc's sue herea joins us now. sue, a different day, a very different outcome. but it'm struck by the fact not much changed with what caused this volatility. why the turnaround today? >> i think the only thing that's changed, lester, is wall street feels a little more reassured that china is more concerned about its stock market plunge and its slowing economy. they made some moves
overnight to lower interest rates and give the bankz little bit more money, and that really reassured wall street that they're taking the situation in their country seriously. the buying came in. it was still volatile today. but i get the sense that they feel a little bit better about the global economy at this point. >> all right. sue herera. thank you. believe it or not, a hurricane hasn't hit the state of florida in nearly ten years, but tonight we are monitoring a gathering storm in the caribbean. tropical storm erika with the sunshine state in its sights. dylan dreyer is tracking erika. what are we looking at here? >> it is a bigger storm, so it is going to hold together as it remains in tropical storm force as it moves through the caribbean over the weekend. but it is forecast to strengthen into at least a category 1 hurricane by the time it approaches florida on monday. now, keep in mind the computer models are still all over the place. if it aches a more southerly track this is a much bigger story for puerto rico, but we're learning toward a more central track, which takes it toward florida and could produce hurricane-force winds
and as much as seven inches of rain to the east coast of florida. it's also possible it could take this more mothererly track that would sit this storm over the warm waters of the atlantic ocean for a longer period of time, meaning it could strengthen into an even stronger storm. so the entire southeast coast from north carolina to florida needs to monitor this storm. lester? >> all right, dylan, thank you. to politics now, and donald trump defending himself after tensions between the republican front-runner and spanish-language media exploded during an appearance in iowa. the heated confrontation leaving trump defiant in an interview with nbc news. our katy tur has the story. >> reporter: donald trump against the world, again. defending this -- >> sit down. sit down. >> reporter: -- this morning on "today." >> do you embrace the term bully, donald, when it comes to your dealings with the press? >> i'm not a bully. in fact, i think it's just the opposite way. i'm not a bully. you saw that last night. this man gets up and starts ranting and raving. >> reporter: the latest man to draw the donald's anger,
univision's jorge ramos, who tried to force trump to engage him on immigration. >> go back to univision. >> reporter: a trump security man escorted the spanish language anchor from the news conference as trump painted himself as the victim. >> he's obviously a very emotional person. >> reporter: it was another instance of combative trump, provoked and provoking. from mexico and undocumented immigrants to john mccain, lindsey graham, megyn kelly, and jeb bush. and in between re-engaging his adversaries on twitter. >> what is the strategy behind the twitter fights? why not -- >> the which? >> the twitter fights. the late-night tweeting about megyn kelly or lindsey graham. >> takes two seconds. you do a couple of tweets. because when people treat me unfairly i don't let them forget it. and maybe we should have more of that in this country. >> reporter: his constant attacks are a dilemma for candidates trying to figure out how to respond effectively. one conservative writer at redstate.com put it this way -- "watching donald trump speak and answer questions is like
watching a billion targets appear in the sky all at once. it becomes impossible to know which target to lock on to." >> how do you go at him? very difficult. it's hard to grab somebody who's all over the place all the time. >> reporter: ramos was ultimately let back into that press conference and asked donald trump what he would do, or how he would deport all those 11 million undocumented immigrants. a question that trump avoided answering for a solid five minutes. tomorrow he's going to be here in south carolina, a state that's potentially going to keep him off the primary ballot if he doesn't promise to not run as a third-party candidate. lester? >> all right, katy. hillary clinton took today the possibility of vice president joe biden jumping in the race for president. clinton cut her vacation short to get back on the trail in iowa. she faces slipping poll numbers as well as persistent questions about her use of private e-mail, a private e-mail server while secretary of state. and now potentially a new opponent in biden. >> i think he has to
make what is a very difficult decision for himself and his family and he should have the space and the opportunity to decide what he wants to do. i'm going to be running for president regardless. >> clinton also said that she takes responsibility for the decision to use a single private e-mail saying that she should have had separate accounts. an emotional day in court in colorado as james holmes was formally sentenced to life in prison without parole for that movie theater massacre in 2012. a camera capturing what may be the last time holmes is ever seen in public. nbc's jacob rascon reports. >> reporter: judgment day for james holmes finally arrived. the maximum penalty possible. >> 3,318 years in the department of corrections. >> reporter: the shooter hardly moved a muscle. the judge rebuked him sharply. >> it is the court's intention that the defendant never set
foot in free society again. >> reporter: the judge commented that we'll never know what the shooting victims, as young as 6 years old, might have accomplished if they hadn't been slaughtered. >> we're very happy with the sentence. we think it's our best chance to see the defendant die in our lifetime. >> reporter: the gunman silent. his mother offered an apology. >> we are very sorry this tragedy happened and sorry that everyone has suffered so much." >> reporter: defense attorneys will not appeal. >> sheriff, get the defendant out of my courtroom, please. thank you. [ applause ] >> reporter: the sound of closure, or the next best thing. and a mass murderer gone forever. jacob rascon, nbc news. still ahead tonight, stuck in traffic? if you think it's getting worse where you live, chances are you're right. staggering new numbers about how much time americans waste in gridlock. we'll tell you where it is the worst.
also, going home. the inspiring little boy who won the hearts of so many "nightly news" viewers. we've got an amazing update you have to see. we'll be back. i was out for a bike ride. i didn't think i'd have a heart attack. but i did. i'm mike, and i'm very much alive. now my doctor recommends a bayer aspirin regimen to help prevent another heart attack. be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen. aspirin regimen. to a mouthwash had to burn.ink then i went pro with crest pro-health mouthwash. go pro with crest pro-health. it's formulated to target and kill 99% of germs
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biggest cities, go ahead and double that number. here's nbc's tom costello. >> northbound at the 5 three-car crash block the number one lane. >> reporter: it's a story of good news bad news on the nationtion roads. while the great recession is over, so is the congestion recession. more jobs mean more people, more cars and trucks, fueled by cheap gas round the clock. in suburban washington, d.c. realtor david giles has learned he has to take a deep breath at the start of his daily commute. the drive is 26 miles each way. what should take 40 minutes instead takes an hour each way. >> is there a time of day when the traffic dies down or has this become the norm? >> this is the norm. >> reporter: no surprise the washington, d.c. metro area tops the list of the worst commutes. the average commuter spends 82 hours each year in delays here. los angeles follows close behind with commuters spending 80 hours in delays. then san francisco, the new york tri-state area, san jose, boston, seattle,
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finally, what do you say we end on a story of hope on a day we could certainly use it. an 8-year-old boy who connected with so many of you as he made a brave journey that most of us couldn't even imagine. tonight with his whole life in front of him he's embarking on the next chapter. and here's joe fryer. >> okay. try to open that thumb up. >> reporter: just a month after making history, zion harvey is taking big steps with his hands. >> oh, good squeeze. >> reporter: he's the first child to ever receive a double hand transplant. a complex procedure that took nearly 11 hours. >> i hope for somebody
to ask me do i want a handshake. and it came true. >> okay. now, squeeze. whoa. >> reporter: doctors say right now his brain is probably trying to catch up with his hands. >> all right. pretty soon it's going to be one-hand pass, right? >> reporter: but slowly he's gaining enough movement and strength to do what most 8-year-olds take for granted. >> he comes down, punching -- >> oh! >> reporter: it all started when he was just a toddler. diagnosed with an infection, doctors took his hands and feet in order to spare his life. but not a disease in the world could steal zion's infectious spirit. between the new hands and the prosthetics on his feet, there are now no limits. >> oh! >> reporter: so today zion is heading home. ♪ good-bye, good-bye, good-bye ♪ but don't think of it as a good-bye. just hello to a new life for the inspiring boy who has us all in his grip. joe fryer, nbc news.