tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC January 6, 2017 7:00pm-7:30pm EST
breaking news tonight -- a deadly mass shooting at the airport. gunman opens fire at baggage claim in ft. lauderdale. witnesses describing scenes of sheer horror. a silent killer shooting people in the head as they tried to run and hide. tonight, a storm of questions. why did he do it? the suspect, a passenger with a firearm in his checked bag. new concerns about airport security before the checkpoi. also breaking tonight -- the new report from u.s. intelligence, vladimir putin himself ordered the effort to influence the election. aimed at hurting clinton and helping trump win. what the president-elect is saying after his top-secret briefing. and states of emergency -- millions from coast to coast paralyzed by a massive winter storm. "nightly news" begins right now.
>> announcer: from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news," with lester holt. >> good evening, airport baggage claim became a scene of carnage and blood shed when a gunman began firing into a crowd of passengers today at florida's ft. lauderdale hollywood international airport. 13 people were shot, five killed before the 26-year-old suspect was finally subdued. the shooting touched off a panic that sent passengers and airport workers fleeing onto the tarmac. s.w.a.t. teams descended on the airport amid concerns there might be other attackers. but tonight, police say the gunman operated alone and had himself just arrived off a flight and used a weapon that had apparently been in his checked luggage. our team is in place for coverage of the attack and investigation. let's begin with nbc's kerry sanders who has been at the scene all afternoon. what's the latest? >> well good evening, lester. the airport remains shut down,
there are tens of thousands of passengers who are being told to still remain here and shelter in place. many of them are panicked and anxious, even now. after witnessing the horrific deaths here. just before 1:00 p.m. as passengers gathered in baggage claim in terminal 2, shots fire, a chaotic and horrific scene. bags scattered, frightened passengers and airport workers streaming out, gathering on the tarmac. officials responding within minutes. >> attention all units, be advised critical incident being worked on at this time. all on tactical channel 1. 100 terminal drive, mass casualty incident? >> one witness told us the shooter was relentless. >> he continued firing and at one point he stopped and reloaded and continued firing again. >> the wexler family were headed home to denver. >> we looked at the terminal, saw people running. figured it might be a i
>> when it was over, eight wounded, five dead. >> broward county s.w.a.t. teams and the fbi swarmed the area immediately. apprehending him shortly after. 26-year-old esteban santiago. his route, he flew on delta airlines from anchorage to minneapolis and on it ft. lauderdale. nine hours in the air. the weapon he used in the attack was in his checked luggage. according to witnesses after he got his luggage, he got the gun. loaded it in a bathroom and began shooting without saying a word. he allegedly reloaded several times. once he ran out of bullets, he allegedly put the gun down and got down on the floor waiting for authorities. >> we have the shooter in custody. he's unharmed. no law enforcement fired any shots. the subject is being interviewed by a team of fbi agents. >> and around 2:30, more chaos. panic in anoer
terminal 1, as passengers there thought they heard more shots. authorities telling them to evacuate. also to evacuate terminal 2. people ran outside. falling in the rush to get away. others like callie hazelgrove hiding as best as she could. >> there was another shooting, we hid behind something like this in the airport for a while and then we realized everyone else was gone. so we ran outside. >> those outside, running and crouching, taking cover behind cars. around the same time reports of suspicious person in a parking garage nearby. it would later turn out nothing was going on in the garage and there were no shots fired in terminal 1. meanwhile, a complete ground stop am on all flights in and out of ft. lauderdale hollywood international airport. broward county homicide detectives and the fbi are right now interviewing the suspect. it's unclear if he's answering any of their questions. the leading question of course -- why. lester?
thank you. we want you to hear from an eye witness. mark lee was standing in baggage claim when, with his wife when the gunman suddenly opened fire. we spoke with him earlier by telephone. and here he describes the horror he witnessed in his own words. >> he didn't say anything. he was just, he was quiet the whole time. he didn't yell at people. did nothing. he just started shooting. went up and down kind of the carousels of the baggage claim. shooting through luggage to get to people that were hiding. one woman from council bluffs, iowa, took a shot through and through. and her husband was shot in the head. instantly killed. she watched her husband basically three feet from her dead, and they were getting ready to leave on a cruise. a lady at the information counter was shot in the shoulder. ran around to the people just to see who was hurt. and who needed some consoling or help from there. once we knew the shooter was down and out of ammunition. >> mark lee in his own words. there are obviously a lot of questions this
our justice correspondent pete williams has been working his sources all day and joins us from washington with new details. pete, what can you tell us? >> well lester, law enforcement officials say tonight that they do not consider this an act of terrorism. they say the suspect was struggling with serious mental health issues. officials say esteban santiago was undergoing treatment for mental health problems, complaining that he was hearing voices. they say a few months ago he walked into the fbi's office in anchorage complaining that the c.i.a. was forcing him to join isis. officials say local police were called and he went voluntarily to a mental health facility for treatment. his aunt and uncle in union city, new jersey near where officials say santiago was born, say they believe he developed problems after a military deployment overseas. military records show he signed up for the national guard in 2007, while he was living in puerto rico, where the family is from.
as a combat engineer for ten months in iraq, returning five years ago. he was discharged last august. family members say he went to alaska looking for work where he had a son. and was receiving psychological counseling there. investigators say they've heard from witnesses that who say he got into an altercation on board one of the flights. but whatever that was, it wasn't serious enough for the airline to call the police. so tonight it's still unanswered why he opened fire. and why in the ft. lauderdale airport. lester? >> pete williams, thank you. word that the alleged gunman had apparently retrieved a checked firearm from his checked baggage before starting fire. is shining a spotlight on concerns. among them, what are the restrictions on checking a weapon on board a flight and what about security beyond the checkpoint? nbc's tom costello has more. >> at airports nationwide. weapons are a constant threat in 2015 alone, more than 2600 firearms were confiscated at checkpoints.
the tsa allows passengers to check unloaded firearms, in a locked, hard-sided container. even offering an online video on how to do it. >> notify the airline during the ticket counter check-in process that your baggage contain as properly secured firearm. >> the airlines don't keep track of how many weapons they carry each year, but plenty of hunters, law enforcement and gun owners check their guns. the question, did the suspect check the weapon legally? and does that add a new security challenge at baggage carousels. >> once the individual gets off the plane and retrieves his baggage, if he intends to use that weapon in an airport environment, then the weapon is immediately available to him or her. as was the case in this incident. >> among the recent shootings at airports, november 2013, a suspect opened fire at l.a.x. killing a tsa officer. the suspect wounded and arrested by police. march, 2015, a suspect with molotov cocktails attacked a tsa
police. and november 2016, a suspect killed a southwest airlines employee in oklahoma city. the tsa chief says securing public areas of the airports has become a new security priority. >> what we learned from places things like brussels and istanbul, paris attacks, nice, even the orlando shooting is that public areas by definition can be targets. >> the challenge for police, creating the deterrent layers of security before passengers ever approach the tsa checkpoint. and once they get off a plane. before lawmakers enter florida right now, a bill that would allow people in florida to carry weapons on college campuses and inside airport terminals. it's up for a vote next week. lester? >> tom costello, thank you. the shooting in florida has led to heightened security at airports all across the nation as flight cancellations and delays also mount. for more, let's go to nbc's miguel almaguer who is hat one of the cou's
airports, l.a.x. miguel, good evening. >> lester, good evening. there's no credible threat at this airport or any others in the wake of that shooting. still, it triggered an immediate and massive response. here at l.a.x., just minutes after that shooting in florida, a clear stepped-up police presence in and outside of the terminals, heavily armed officers have been sweeping through the airport, a noticeable change from your typical friday evening. it's a similar scene all across the country at airports like boston logan, jfk and newark. just outside of new york. armored vehicles and canine detection teams are deployed. show of force, a highly visible law enforcement presence to keep passengers at ease. and tonight there is another ripple effect from that shooting. at airports from coast to coast, more than 350 flight delays and cancellations into florida. those flight delays and cancellations will likely continue. so airport officials say expect delays at the airport, it is
resume back to normal. lester? >> miguel almaguer, thank you. president-elect donald trump reacted on social media offering thoughts and prayers for the victims in florida. the remarks came after the nation's top intelligence officials briefed him on their top-secret report about russia's hacks during the election. following weeks of dismissals from mr. trump. a declassified version of that report is now out, it claims vladimir putin himself ordered the hack in part to help mr. trump win. nbc's kristen welker has the response from the president-elect. >> a two-hour showdown at trump tower. the president-elect coming face to face with the nation's top intelligence officials. whom he spent weeks disparaging. trump calling the meeting constructive. just as the explosive details of their report made public late this afternoon. their key findings? russian president vladimir putin ordered an influence campaign in
preference for president-elect trump. putin and the russian government aspired to help president-elect trump's election chances when possible, by discrediting secretary clinton. but the russian hacking didn't affect vote tallying. trump has for weeks questioned the conclusion russia was responsible. >> it could be somebody sitting in his bed. >> and today, still refusing to single out russia. instead, mr. trump saying in a statement, russia, china, and other countries are engaged in cyber attacks and insisted there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election. late tonight, top democrats firing back. >> it is beyond time for the president-elect to accept the obvious. everyone else has. and if this report and presentation wasn't enough to convince him, nothing will be. >> the meeting capped a week of escalating tensions. just hours before the briefing started, trump telling "the new york times" the focus on russian hack something a witch hunt by his political adversaries. still in their report tonight, the nation's top intelligence officials, the fbi, c.i.a., nsa
intelligence say they're all in agreement -- concluding with high confidence russia's efforts including hacking, propaganda and fake news mark a significant escalation in the country's efforts to undermine american democracy. a democracy mr. trump will soon lead. late tonight, vice president-elect mike pence vowed the administration will take aggressive action, a point echoed by mr. trump, who said he will appoint a team to devise a plan to better fight cyber attacks within 90 days of his inauguration. >> kristen welker, thank you. still ahead, dangerous winter blast. the massive storm threatening to paralyze the south, more than 60 million under advisories, al roker joins us with storm track. and a judge is outraged with the suspects in a horrifying beating streamed over facebook live appear in her courtroom.
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plowing into oklahoma. causing hundreds of accidents in a matter of hours in tennessee. >> please don't hit the buses. >> stranded school buses get no help after the snowplow coming to rescue them loses control. amanda was watching it all from her front porch. >> snowplow, oh, my god. >> heavy snow pummelling the northeast in connecticut two students and their driver okay after their school bus flipped on an icy road. winter storm watches and warnings in effect from texas to the southeast, and into new england. states of emergency declared in georgia and north carolina. >> it looks more and more as if this will be a significant snow event. >> shovels out of stock at this raleigh store where they've also sold more than 1,000 pounds of ice melt. >> you get the ice build-up afterwards. so it's the nature of the beast of what comes. >> atlanta bracing for a winter's worth of snow in one day.
a last-minute rush to the grocery store. >> i definitely learned from snowpocalypse last time. so trying to make sure we're prepared. >> it happened, the big snowfall we're getting. so now everybody is listening. >> most atlanta schools dismissed early. hoping to avoid another 2014 when a snowstorm trapped many students at school overnight. >> reason why we're doing this is so that we don't have an accident. like what happened last time. >> here in atlanta, we're even very small amounts of snow can cause significant problems, rain that's been falling most of the afternoon will soon turn to sleet and then heavy snow. officials have told people here, to be ready to stay in their homes for a few days. lester? >> jacob rascon. al roker tracking the system tonight. take us through it. >> we're looking at frozen precipitation from louisiana up to washington, d.c. this weekend tonight and tomorrow, heaviest snow will be toward the morning hours, and then it moves quickly up into new england with the heavy s
the snowfall amounts, upwards of a foot around norfolk where they have blizzard warnings, two to four inches in atlanta, in the northeast, nantucket, ten and one to three in new york city. out west, we're talking about a real flood threat with significant flooding possible. we expect to see snow melt and heavy rain combining to create heaviest amounts before 15 inches of rain, flooding is going to be a big problem, lester. >> thank you. when we come back, a deadly epidemic, a warning from the cdc about this year's flu season.
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in a chicago courtroom today, the suspects in a shocking torture, livestreamed on facebook were ordered held without bond. four african-american suspects are accused of beating a white teen with schizophrenia on camera. an additional hate crime charge was added for all four due to the victim's race as well as mental disability. before denying bond, the judge asked the accused, quote, where was your sense of decency? a warning about the flu. the cdc said this season is worst than last. 10,000 cases reported nationwide. hitting especially hard on the coast and reaching epidemic levels in washington state where at least ten people have died. doctors do say the flu shot is a good match for this year's dominant strain and it's not too late to get one. when we come back, the first lady says her farewells as she prepares to leave the white house.
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nbc's andrea mitchell has look at the legacy the first lady built. >> michelle obama's last speech, one of hope and empowerment for the young people she has championed for eight years. >> know that this country belongs to you. to all of you. from every background and walk of life. >> her unique voice rejecting the racial overtones of 2016. >> diversity of faiths and colors and creeds, that is not a threat to who we are, it makes us who we are. >> a once reluctant political wife fighting an early caricature as an angry black woman. at first avoiding controversy. >> at the end of the day, my most important title is still mom in chief. >> raising her girls before our eyes. opening up about the painful moments. >> our motto is -- when they go low, we go high. >> and getting personal after that "access hollywood" tape. >> the belief that you can do anything you want to a woman?
it's frightening. and the truth is, it hurts. >> now a political order in a class of her own. >> i want our young people to know that they matter. that they belong. don't be afraid, be focused, be determined. be hopeful. be empowered. >> an emotional farewell with the next chapter still unwritten. >> being your first lady has been the greatest honor of my life and i hope i've made you proud. >> andrea mitchell, nbc news, washington. and that's going to do it for us on this friday night. jose diaz balart will be here tomorrow night. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching and good night.