Nightly News   |  October 20, 2011

Former Libyan dictator Gadhafi dies 

Disturbing images of a blood-stained Moammar Gadhafi circulated around the world after the man who ran Libya for 42 years met a violent end near his home town of Sirte. NBC’s Richard Engel has more.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

WILLIAMS: Good evening.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Moammar Gadhafi is dead. In the end, the man who ran Libya for 42 years met a violent end;and like Saddam Hussein in Iraq before him, in the end he was found cowering, was stripped of most of his clothing and what remained of his dignity. The pictures showing his last moments alive, fair warning, are disturbing. There are also graphic pictures showing him after death. The Libyan revolution is now over. It's the middle of the night there, but the streets are alive. An explosion of celebration erupted when word went out that Gadhafi was dead. It's more change for our world, and we have it all covered here tonight, beginning with our chief foreign correspondent, a veteran of the battlefield in Libya , Richard Engel , here with us in studio. And, Richard , for most of our adult life, really, an era is over now.

RICHARD ENGEL reporting: Most Libyans never knew another leader. And these are shocking images that

will resonate not only around the Middle East but around the world: an Arab dictator killed by his own people. Gadhafi 's final moments, injured, dazed, manhandled and dying, captured by rebels who prop him up on the hood of a car to take pictures, proof of life, but he wouldn't live much longer. News of Gadhafi 's death triggered wild celebrations across Libya . He was killed in Sirte , his hometown, in a neighborhood called District 2 . Fighting there has been intense for weeks. The reason is now obvious. The rebel assault devastated District 2 , so today Moammar Gadhafi tried to escape. In a convoy with bodyguards, he attempted to slip out of Sirte , but the convoy was spotted and US officials say targeted by a NATO airstrike. Gadhafi survived the strike. Witnesses say he managed to crawl to a nearby drainpipe under a bridge. It was there, in a pipe, that the former dictator was found by rebels . Rebels quickly covered it in graffiti. It reads ' Gadhafi was here.' The rebels also arrested his bodyguards and seized a gold pistol they say Gadhafi was carrying. Gadhafi asked rebels who they were and said, 'Don't shoot. I'm like your father.' But these rebels say they did shoot him, at least once in the lower stomach.

Unidentified Man: We shot him. Somebody shot him by gun, 9 mm.

ENGEL: They also hit him with their shoes before loading him into an ambulance. Gadhafi died in transit. Later, pictures show what appears to be a gunshot to the head, execution style. Gadhafi had been on the run since Tripoli fell two months ago. As his palace was overrun, he escaped, reportedly through a network of tunnels. Gadhafi returned to his hometown, issuing defiant radio addresses promising victory and vengeance. Tactically, Sirte was a poor choice, but at least in Sirte Gadhafi felt safe among loyalists. In the end, Gadhafi died surrounded by rebels he once called "rats," who pulled the wounded dictator from a drainpipe, shot him and watched him die. Tripoli fell in late August, Brian , but the war against Gadhafi wasn't really over until today.

WILLIAMS: As we say, the end of an era . Richard Engel , who was there to cover so much of it. Richard , thanks.