September 1st, 2010
05:05 PM ET

Official: Discovery Channel suspect shot, hostages safe

Authorities have identified the man holding hostages in the Discovery Channel headquarters as James Lee.

[Updated at 5:03 p.m.] Police officers shot the suspect at about 4:50 p.m., Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger told reporters. All three hostages are safe and out of the building.

"The suspect is in custody," he said. Manger said he had no information about the suspect's condition.

A number of devices in backpacks have to be rendered safe, he added.

During negotiations, "he had a wide range of emotions," he said.

[Updated at 4:44 p.m.] Follow CNN's continuing coverage of the hostage situation at the Discovery Channel headquarters here.

[Updated at 4:14 p.m.] Montgomery County Police spokesman Paul Starks told reporters there remained no reports of injuries, but he could not confirm whether everyone had been evacuated from the building, nor would he say how many hostages were being held.

"We're just continuing to talk to the man and we're hoping to bring about a safe and successful resolution," Montgomery County Police spokesman Paul Starks told reporters.

"It's my understanding that Montgomery County police officers are speaking with him," he said, adding that he believed the conversation was being held by phone. "That has been continuing with him for well over an hour, closing in on two hours now."

Street view: Hostage situation site

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WJLA: Discovery headquarters evacuated

[Updated at 4:04 p.m.] Aaron Morrissey, the editor in chief of the web publication DCist, said he came across James Lee's anti-Discovery Channel manifesto in 2008, when Lee was planning to hold a protest against the channel.

Lee has been identified by law enforcement sources as the man holding hostages at the Discovery Channel headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Lee, Morrissey said, "had some kind of off-the-wall ideas in that manifesto."

The 2008 protest, he said, "was not that well attended."

A month or so later, Lee was arrested near the building on littering and disorderly conduct charges, Morrissey said. The littering stemmed from Lee's throwing money in to the air, he said.

[Updated at 3:41 p.m.] A man with the same name and age as the suspect in a hostage situation at the Discovery Channel headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, was found guilty in 2008 of disorderly conduct, according to court documents.

James Lee, 43, was acquitted of littering in the same case, according to Montgomery County, Maryland, Circuit Court records, according to Eric Nee, a senior assistant state's attorney.

Lee's two-year supervised probation ended August 18, records show.

[Updated at 3:31 p.m.] Montgomery County, Maryland, Police Chief J. Thomas Mangersaid the gunman at the Discovery Channel's headquarters is holding hostage more than one person.

Manger said about 3:20 p.m. that negotiations have been going on for nearly an hour, "and we will continue that for as long as we can."

[Updated at 3:17 p.m.] The man suspected of taking at least one hostage at the Discovery Channel's headquarters entered the building's main entrance "wearing what appeared to be metallic canister devices on his front and back," a police spokesman said Wednesday. "He also pulled a handgun out and was waving a handgun."

Silver Spring Police Chief. Chief J. Thomas Manger said police haven't confirmed whether any shots were fired inside the building.

Manger said Lee has remained in first floor area of the Discovery building, where 1,900 employees work.

"We believe that most of them are out," Manger said. "There are a small number of hostages with him."

[Updated at 3:10 p.m.]

James Lee, the man suspected of taking a hostage at the Discovery Channel headquarters, is an environmental protester who has been publishing criticisms of the network, according to a senior law enforcement official close to the investigation.

An angry manifesto posted on a website called repeatedly refers to humans as "filth" and demands that the Discovery Channel
"stop encouraging the birth of any more parasitic human infants."

"Civilization must be exposed for the filth it is," the 1,149-word statement says.

"Humans are the most destructive, filthy, pollutive creatures around and are wrecking what's left of the planet with their false morals and breeding culture," it continues.

Lee also blasts immigration, farming, weapons of mass destruction, automotive pollution, "and the whole blasted human economy."

He demands that the Discovery Channel broadcast daily prime-time shows devoted to "solutions to save the planet," perhaps in a game-show format, insisting "Make it interesting so people watch and apply solutions!!!!"

Many of Lee's comments are directed at "the media," saying "You can reach enough people. It's your responsibility because you reach so many minds!!!"

"The world needs TV shows that DEVELOP solutions to the problems that humans are causing, not stupify the people into destroying the world. Not
encouraging them to breed more environmentally harmful humans," the manifesto says.

"These are the demands and sayings of Lee," the manifesto concludes.

[Updated at 2:51 p.m.] The man believed to be holding at least one hostage at the Discovery Channel headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, has been identified as James Lee, a law enforcement source tells CNN.

"We can confirm that he is armed and he does have some sort of package with him," said Scott Graham of the Montgomery County, Maryland, Fire Department. Asked if that means Lee has as bomb, Graham said he could not say.

Police remain in contact with him, Graham said.

He said there have been unconfirmed reports of a shot fired, but there have been no reports of injuries. "It would be premature to speculate on any exact causes as to why this is occurring," he added.

He added that some people may remain in the building.

[Updated at 2:46 p.m.] Capt. Paul Starks said that police were in communication with the gunman, and that he was making some demands. The suspect had "concerns" with the Discovery Corporation, he said.

[Updated at 2:37 p.m.] CNN affiliate WJLA is reporting there was an ambulance on scene and a stretcher was seen being taken into the lobby.

[Updated at 2:34 p.m.] Lorie Rorae, an evacuated employee who worked on second floor, said security said to leave the building.

Rorae said the security officer said two colleagues were being held hostage.

Rorae said there was an announcement telling employees what to do and where to go.

"It was orderly," Rorae said.

[Updated at 2:31 p.m.] Montgomery County Police said they are speaking with a man who has taken a hostage. Police described the man's grudge the following way: "His beef is with Discovery."

"We are speaking with him now," police said.

[Updated at 2:31 p.m.] A witness, Lisa Lucas, told CNN affiliate WJLA that she and others outside of the building heard at least one gunshot from One Discovery Place. Friz said that to the best of his knowledge no shots had been fired by police.

[Updated at 2:19 p.m.] The Discovery Channel day care has been evacuated to a nearby area, according to CNN affiliate WJLA. The day care had about 100 kids, WJLA reported.

[Updated at 2:18 p.m.] The FBI's bomb techicians and ATF agents have been sent to the scene of the hostage situation in a Washington suburb, spokesmen from both agencies said.

[Updated at 2:17 p.m.] Renard Jenkins, who works across from the Discovery Channel headquarters where the hostage drama is unfolding, said he sees the mobilization of a bomb squad and a large armored vehicle pulling a trailer.

"Police are on high alert, positioning themselves behind columns, cars, anything that gives cover. All have their weapons drawn," Jenkins said. "From what we're seeing, everyone seems to be calm."

He said he cannot see into the lobby where the hostage-taking is apparently under way, but can see the activity immediately outside.

[Updated at 2:07 p.m.] CNN affiliate WJLA is reporting that police told them a man entered the lobby and may have fired a weapon and declared, "Nobody is going anywhere."

[Updated at 1:52 p.m.] A SWAT team and additional resources are responding, said Montgomery County police Cpl. Dan Friz. Authorities were trying to get in touch with the man believed to have taken a hostage.

It appears the man has some kind of explosive device on his person, Friz said. Fire marshals with explosives experience were assisting.

[Updated at 1:44 p.m.] The Discovery Channel sent an e-mail to all employees in the building at 1:21 p.m. telling them they "have reason to believe there is an armed gunman at One Discovery Place."

[Updated at 1:39 p.m.] At least one hostage is confirmed at the headquarters of the Discovery Channel in Silver Spring, Maryland, police said.

[Posted at 1:34 p.m.] A police emergency response team was responding to reports of a man with a gun and possible explosives at the headquarters of the Discovery Channel in Silver Spring, Maryland, a police spokeswoman said.

Montgomery County police received the call at about 1 p.m., said Angela Cruz. The call came from One Discovery Place, the channel's headquarters.

The area has been evacuated, Cruz said. No further information was immediately available.

soundoff (520 Responses)
  1. Emily

    As usual...everyone is far too concerned with the implications and not concerned enough with the actual events. Granted, it may prove very valuable for the police authorities to have information on Lee's background, giving them insight into how best to defuse this dangerous situation....but what does it matter for our purposes? There are people being held hostage...people who are our neighbors, or friends, or family...What else is there to consider in times such as these?Why argue of left wing ambitions and liberal gun control issues? Who cares, to be honest? It's just not that complicated...

    September 1, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Chris

    Why doesn't someone tell Rick Sanchez to shut up and quit interviewing people who are revealing police tactics to resolve the issue over the air? Hasn't anyone considered that the gunman is listening to the news on a television at a company that has a channel of their own?

    September 1, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Oodoodanoo

    I'm so thankful that he spared Nickelodeon.

    September 1, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. AltASkier

    It's George Bush's fault! ....but seriously, this guy should do us all a favor and off himself first.

    September 1, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. The Dark

    Can someone shut Rick Sanchez up? If the gunman has access to a TV, he's given away the location of at least one police sniper already.

    September 1, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Myoia


    September 1, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Fred Franken

    Hopefully this will end in tragedy which is captured on video as a Discovery special.

    September 1, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Drill

    The sad thing is...he is right on many counts. Anyone who does not believe we have got to make some serious changes LIKE population control probably evolved from a chimpanzee. Now lets see who who catches on to that one. No I do not agree with his method..lets all pray he only gets our attention.

    September 1, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. dan

    I just saw on your television station thatthe gunman had a facebook page that said "it was time for a REVOLUTION!!!!!"

    What you were rying to blur out though right underneath that statement had the date. it said January 10, 2008!!!!!! seriously report the news!!! your show makes me ill....

    September 1, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jtiii

    Lee, don't do this! There are people out there who feel the way you do! If you resolve this peacefully, you can become a hero for your movement. Don't be a martyr instead! In today's media and internet environment, martyrs become dismissed as nutjobs. Keep fighting your real fight! Think of how you can do the most good with the rest of your life, and do it.

    September 1, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Steve

    Why do you keep showing his MySpace page's current status? Did any of the network geniuses notice that status is from 2008?

    September 1, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Lea

    After reading his manifesto it would seem that the children were lucky to get out at all.

    September 1, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Alejo

    Never is it okay to threaten the lives of other people. But let's psychoanalyze this guy. Not to rationalize his actions but in order to prevent these types of situations through interpersonal relations. People like Timothy McVeigh and this guy are not alone in their ideas and have most likely never spoken to an intellectual that has been able to convince them of why their beliefs are wrong. Here are my observations:

    1) From his manifesto and news reports it seems he has supported these ideas and has planned this out for a long time because he was arrested for protesting in 2008. This is not a case of somebody spontaneously expressing erratic behavior because he didn't take his medication, lost his job, or got dumped by a girlfriend.

    2) He is most likely neither communist nor capitalist because he is probably angry at how both western and eastern societies are run. I assume this because he comes from an oriental background but has obviously lived and grown up in American society for some time. He is angry at how human greed and corruption pervades both of these societies by exploiting resources in the name of money instead of for the well being of the poor.

    3) Why the Discovery Network? This is a very good question because we would all think that a person who wants to end ignorance would have targeted a building that broadcasts nonsense such as MTV or certain news networks (that shall not be named but rhyme with box). The most logical reason I can come up with for why he chose Discovery is because of his motive: to begin a "green revolution". To make people realize that material goods are temporary and that our main duty as humans should be to create technologies that not only benefit ourselves, but the environment as well. Which, when you think about it, isn't that the purpose of the Discovery Channel?

    Anyways, eventually this guy will eventually end up dead or in jail for trying to get a point across while we will go about our day. I guess his true motive is to wake us up! The answer to our crisis (The Great Recession) is neither Democrat or Republican. It is not Glenn Beck. It is not President Obama. It is the intelligence of the American people. Let us stop throwing around trivial issues and yelling 'wolf' and begin to offer solutions.

    September 1, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Michael

    Someone's off his rocker...

    September 1, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  15. KMM

    Regardless of religion. Regardless of mental stability. SWAT needs to kill him before he kills someone. Why waste time and tax dollars.

    September 1, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
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