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

iReport: Are you there? Send photos, video

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. Mitch

    Extremists -no matter what kind- are horrible. This guy is the same thing as a Jihadist, as an Inquisitioner, as a Nazi. It doesn't matter what you believe in, the second that your idealogy becomes more important to you than the suffering of others is the second you stop being human.

    I love the environment with a passion and think that we humans are doing a very poor job of stewarding our mother Earth. But there can be no justification for putting innocents in harms way. Not in the name of nature, or God, or politics or money. This man has to be mentally ill if he thinks his actions will have any effect other than putting him in prison.

    Let's all hope that this situation ends as peacefully as possible. Let's hope that he gets the punishment and help that he deserves. And -above all- let's hope that nobody gets hurt.

    September 1, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      true words, my friend, true words.

      September 1, 2010 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Scott

    It's strange why this guy targeted this place. He should really know that the Discovery building cannot do anything about his demands because they only send the information as in articles and episodes. I wonder what he expects to get done by doing this? Very odd.

    September 1, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. TONG


    September 1, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Surely you are not refereing to the psuedoscience Phrenology or "craniology" are you? I hope you are being sarcastic. If so, while inappropiate at this time, that is funny in a satirical way.

      September 1, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Greg Gilbert

    Wild! Turns out this guy is a crazy liberal! I'm sure CNN will be having stories about the dangers of the radical left like they did about the radical right. Oh wait, they have their political agenda to sell.

    September 1, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Josh

    haha, someone already is making fun of this

    September 1, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  6. theysaidwhat???

    LOL Peter. No kidding.

    September 1, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JAF


    September 1, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. I dont get it

    As a Canadian, I just don't understand Americans. Reading through the posts here – why is it that you think if every citizen carried a gun, situations like what is occuring would not and could not occur. Wouldn't it be more prudent to have some sort of registry, requirements, or so forth in place so that people who are mentally unstable would not be able to access a gun.

    Also, to those people on here who say "I would just shoot him". Have you in fact killed a human being before? Or are you just blustering. Taking a life, even if it is a burgler or criminal, is a dramatic and emotionally damaging event. I wonder how many people can really do it.

    September 1, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chad

      No, it wouldn't be more prudent to have a registry- because criminals don't give much thought to making sure they register their guns. Mental stability is something a person can have till they lose it. Your assuming someone else should have been able to "catch" this guy's dangerous mentality and try to focus on keeping him from getting a gun. Interviews with felons have proven very conclusively that if they want to find a gun, they can and will find one, whether we have a registry or not.

      It's just like the gun free zones, what I like to call, "free fire zones", where the criminals, just like this Lee guy, know there aren't any lawfully armed private citizens who might, at the moment he decides to make his mark in history, take out their own handgun and put 2 to the back of his head. yes, they MIGHT have set off the bomb, if he really had one, but, he might just decide to set it off anyways, you don't know. If he decided to do it anyways, what then? I'd rather take my chances with my own fate then leave it up to someone else's decision about my chances of living through something like that.

      Police will admit, if you ask them, that it isn't their job to protect you, that's your job. They only come AFTER something bad happens, not before. Think about that before you roll over on your 2nd amendment rights and allow "the government" to protect you. I'm sure they got there really fast, I heard it took almost 30 mins after they got the call of "shots fired".

      September 1, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. JAF


    September 1, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. AcE

    What you do show can be used later for stats. How fast and what we use to solve problems.

    September 1, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Matt

    When was the last time a christian killed some one because they didn't agree with them? HM. I DUNNO.

    May 31, 2009: Dr. George Tiller was shot and killed as he served as an usher at his church in Wichita, Kansas.

    January 29, 1998: Robert Sanderson, an off-duty police officer who worked as a security guard at an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, was killed when his workplace was bombed. Eric Robert Rudolph, who was also responsible for the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing, was charged with the crime and received two life sentences as a result.
    Hutaree was a Christian militia group based in Adrian, Michigan. In 2010, after an FBI agent infiltrated the group, nine of its members were indicted by a federal grand jury in Detroit on charges of seditious conspiracy to use of improvised explosive devices, teaching the use of explosive materials, and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence

    During the twentieth century, members of extremist groups such as the Army of God began executing attacks against abortion clinics and doctors across the United States.

    This is a fraction of the actual amount of recorded cases of christian terrorism. Don't pretend just because you think you're a good person that everyone affiliated with you and your religion is following the same bible you are.

    September 1, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Yeah, but when this week? That's what i thought.

      September 1, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Veritas

    This can not be happening, Maryland has very strict gun laws and as we all now that prevents criminals from using them. Oh wait no that just makes all law abiding citizens into helpless victims, Yay! The blood is on your hands liberals!

    September 1, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. dang dang

    lets just kill all crazy or put em in stray jackets to keep ourselves safe!

    September 1, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. John

    Good job posting excerpts of his manifesto. I'm sure that won't encourage other people to take similar actions in order to get their message out there.

    September 1, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Well, as long as you're sure....

      September 1, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Maven

    you are a religious zelot

    September 1, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
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