September 1, 2010

Police: Suspect in Discovery standoff shot; hostages safe

Posted: 05:35 PM ET
By the CNN Wire Staff

CNN) - Three hostages were rescued from the headquarters of the Discovery Channel in Silver Spring, Maryland, Wednesday afternoon after police shot the man who was holding them, Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger told reporters Wednesday.

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

A device being carried by the man emitted smoke after the man was shot, Manger said.

"The device appeared to go off," he said. "We haven't confirmed that as of this time. We saw some smoke, may have heard a pop."

A number of other devices in backpacks believed to belong to the man have to be rendered safe, he added. It was unclear whether the devices were explosive, he added.

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

Hostages were being held at the headquarters of the Discovery Channel in Silver Spring, Maryland, officials said.

The suspect, identified by a law enforcement official as James Lee, was earlier believed to be holding only one hostage.

For awhile Wednesday afternoon, the situation was very tense as events unfolded:

Authorities were negotiating with Lee and will "continue that for as long as we can," Manger said about 3:20 p.m. ET, adding that negotiations had been under way for about an hour.

According to a police spokesman, the suspect entered the building's main entrance "wearing what appeared to be metallic canister devices on his front and back. He also pulled a handgun out and was waving a handgun."

Lee has been linked to a manifesto that was posted on the internet, a source close to the investigation told CNN.

The angry manifesto 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.

Police Capt. Paul Starks said Lee was making some demands, and that the suspect had "concerns" with the Discovery Corporation.

A person at One Discovery Place, the channel's headquarters, called police about 1 p.m. to report a man with a gun and possible explosives, said Angela Cruz, a police spokeswoman.

The area has been evacuated, she said.

Most of the 1,900 employees of the building had been evacuated, but "a few" may remain on the upper floors, Manger said.

Lee was linked to the online screed, which said in part, "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."

The writer 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 the writer'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.

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.

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 charge stemmed from Lee's throwing money in to the air, he said.

According to court records, a man with the same name and age as the suspect was found guilty in 2008 of disorderly conduct.

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

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

Authorities sent a SWAT team and other resources, said Cpl. Dan Friz of Montgomery County police. The gunman was in the lobby area, Friz said.

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

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.

A day care inside One Discovery Place was successfully evacuated, and the children were moved to a McDonald's restaurant, authorities said.

At one point, a stretcher was carried into the building. The ambulance that the stretcher was taken from subsequently left the scene with nobody in it, according to WJLA.

Renard Jenkins, who works across from the Discovery Channel headquarters, said he saw 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 could not see into the lobby where the hostage-taking is apparently under way, but could see the activity immediately outside.

Bomb technicians from the FBI and ATF agents also responded to the scene, spokesmen from both agencies said.

The Discovery Channel told employees in an e-mail Wednesday that the company has "reason to believe there is an armed gunman at One Discovery Place." The company said "all employees should seek protection in a locked office on their respective floors immediately."

Lori Rorke told CNN that she was on the second floor when she and her co-workers heard about the man.

"When we first heard the news, we heard that the gunman was mobile and we were told to go into locked offices," she said. "We were really panicking, then trying to keep it under control."

But, she said, fellow workers carrying BlackBerry devices seemed to know what to do, and led her out of the building via a route that avoided the lobby.

CNN's Carol Cratty and Brianna Keiler contributed to this report.

Filed under: Discovery Channel Standof

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