× The Vanderbilt Television News Archive is currently closed to in-person research, but is still fulfilling loan requests. For the latest information about COVID-19 (coronavirus disease), visit vu.edu/coronavirus.
Search the Archive

Guyana Incident #496719

NBC Evening News for Monday, Nov 20, 1978
View other clips in this broadcast →

Material supplied by VTNA may be used for educational analysis or research only. Any editing, reproduction, publication, rebroadcast, public showing or public display may be prohibited by copyright laws. For any such use, please visit NBC NEWS Archives XPRESS.

(Studio) Guyana authorities' report on mass murder/suicide of members of Peoples Temple religious cult at Jonestown, Guyana, noted. Among those who died reported to be cult leader, Reverend Jim Jones, and members of his family. Guyana authorities' statement that cult members who didn't die are in jungle mentioned. Cultists' earlier ambush of visiting Americans, in which Congman., 2 NBC newsmen and 2 others were killed, detailed.
REPORTER: John Chancellor

(Georgetown, Guyana) (Audio report) Guyana officials' report that many of dead cultists had bullet wounds, but others had no marks, noted. Statements of attorney Mark Lane about his witnessing of cultists' gathering, led by Jones, and their discussion of death given. [LANE - recalls gathering and remarks made by Jones and other group members Says at end of meeting Jones made other remarks and gunshots could be heard as well as people running through brush, screaming.] Examination of scene by American mil. experts in preparation for removal of bodies reported.
REPORTER: Fred Francis

(Studio) Death of NBC News reporter Don Harris in airport ambush by Jones cultists noted. His interview of former cultist, in Los Angeles prior to Guyana trip, mentioned. Film shown. [Former Jones follower Debbie BLAKEY - describes Jones' commands to Peoples Temple members to drink poison. Says drink given them tasted like unsweetened Kool-Aid.] Report on further details about airport ambush, in which Representative Leo Ryan, NBC newsmen Don Harris and Robert Brown and "San Francisco Examiner" photographer Greg Robinson were killed.
REPORTER: David Brinkley

(No location given) Film taken before his death by cameraman Brown shown. Details about Port Kaituma ambush given. Mentioned are Ryan, Harris, Brown, NBC soundman Steve Sung and producer Robert Flick and United States embassy official Richard Dwyer.
REPORTER: Richard Hunt

(Studio) Steve Sung's wounding in ambush and survival of it noted; he's reported to be in Andrews Air Force Base hospital for treatment. Film shown. [SUNG - describes experience, include deaths of Ryan, Harris and Brown. Says own life was probably saved because wounded arm was near head, he didn't move after being shot and attackers apparently thought him dead.]
REPORTER: David Brinkley

(Studio) Contd. uncertainty about events at cult camp on Saturday noted. Reports of cult discussions of mass suicide if group threatened by outside forces recalled. Jones' recent depression and talk of suicide reported; his feeling of conspiracy against cult stated. Apparent triggering of mass murder/suicide by Ryan and party's arrival to check on situation there mentioned. Reconstruction of Ryan's visit said prepared with help of NBC prod. Bob Flick, who escaped ambush.
REPORTER: John Chancellor

(No location given) Film shown. [RYAN - states who he is and reason for being here.] Mtg. of Ryan and party with attys. Mark Lane and Charles Garry, after presenting credential to Guyana officials, noted. Lane and Garry reported to be attys. for Peoples Temple. [GARRY - will try to do it today or tomorrow.] Details given of party's visit to Jonestown, commune established by Jim Jones. Apparent happiness of people in initial hrs. of visit stated. [Marie KATSARIS - isn't being held here against will and doesn't plan to return.] [RYAN - reports people have indicated happiness here.] Party's later feeling that show was being staged reported Reporter Harris' receipt of note from cult member Bern Gosley, saying Gosley wanted to leave Jonestown, mentioned. [HARRIS - mentions note to Jones.] [JONES - says this man wants to leave son here.] [HARRIS - asks if this attitude doesn't concern Jones.] [JONES - says people play games and lie. Begs American party to leave. Says anyone who wants to leave compound can do so.] Jones' mood change and comments reported Attempted murder of Ryan by knife-wielding man in compound cited. [RYAN - describes attempted knifing of self.] These events noted to have happened just moments before ambush began.
REPORTER: Gerald Harrington

(Studio) President Carter's statement of his and Mrs. Carter's reaction to newsmen's deaths quoted. Mrs. Carter's visit to Jones church in San Francisco during 1976 presidential campaign mentioned.
REPORTER: John Chancellor

(Studio) United States sending of planes and supplies to Guyana noted. Investigation by FBI into possibility that Ryan's murder was plotted in US, which would give United States jurisdiction over situation, mentioned. Refusal of those at Peoples Temple in San Francisco to answer questions reported.
REPORTER: David Brinkley

(San Francisco, California) Attempts by relatives to find out from members of church in San Francisco fate of family members in Guyana noted. [MAN - hasn't found out anything.] Details given about church's aid to and treatment of believers; information said gained from talking to those waiting outside church grounds. [2nd MAN - says Jones took money from people and took their hses. and sold them. Also says Jones used to beat believers.] Jones' dealings with pols. in city hall described. Mayor George Moscone's appointed of Jones to be president of hsing. authority reported [MOSCONE - responds to criticism of that appointed Comments on deaths.] Cleo Jones' statements of belief about mother's faithful following of Jones given. [Ms. JONES - thinks mother would commit suicide for Jones, that mother would do anything Jones told her to do.J Reverend Jones' reasons for taking people to Guyana cited.
REPORTER: Rick Davis

(Studio) Comment about insane element in leadership of cult, made by one of Jim Jones's sons who arrived in Guyana, quoted. Omission of Segment 3 report due to nature of news noted.
REPORTER: John Chancellor

Brinkley, David;
Chancellor, John;
Davis, Rick;
Francis, Fred;
Harrington, Gerald;
Hunt, Richard

Note to sponsor members: The Vanderbilt Television News Archive video player requires a modern operating system and browser to work properly. If you are experiencing playback problems, check the minimum requirements and adjust your setup accordingly. After adjustments, if you continue to experience problems, please contact us.

Welcome! Above is the abstract of the item that you're interested in viewing from the Vanderbilt Television News Archive's collection. You have three options if you'd like to view this item:

  • You may request a loan of this video by registering on our website and placing an order.
  • You may visit the Television News Archive on the Vanderbilt campus to view on-site from the Archive's collection.
  • If you are associated with a college or university, you may ask your library if they would like to become a sponsor, which would give students and faculty at your institution the ability to view items from our collection.

If you believe that you are associated with a sponsoring college or university and have received this message in error, please let us know.