Discovery Channel hostage update: James J. Lee's rented room; 911 calls released (Photos, Audio)



(Photo: Jay Westcott/TBD) (Photo: TBD Staff)

UPDATE SEPT. 1, 10:19 PM: Officials have confirmed the three pops heard about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday were EOD personnel disrupting the gunman's "devices."

UPDATE 9:47 PM:  ABC 7's Brad Bell reports hearing three booms in the area of the Discovery Communications headquarters. The source of the booms could not immediately be confirmed, but would be consistent with explosive ordinance disposal team's practice of 'disrupting' or neutralizing potentially explosive devices.

UPDATE 7:27 PM: The Washington Blade, citing multiple sources, reports one of its former staffers, Christopher Wood, was one of the hostages at the Discovery Channel.

"Christopher Wood, a former Blade marketing manager, was freed after
police shot and killed the suspect," the Blade wrote.

UPDATE 6:44 PM:  A woman who said she was acting as a family spokesman but declined to give her name confirmed that Jim McNulty, a Discovery employee, was among the three hostages.

"The only comment I can give you would be that Jim, who was (a) hostage, was able to talk to his wife briefly and confirm that he is OK," she said.

TBD and ABC 7 News are working on getting an interview with McNulty. Check back for updates.

UPDATE 6:06 PM: A man who wanted the Discovery Channel to discourage human beings from reproducing walked into the company's Silver Spring headquarters on Wednesday, reportedly fired a shot, and took three people hostage, Montgomery County police and sources said.

Four hours later, the gunman -- identified by law enforcement sources as James Jay Lee -- was dead, shot by a police tactical officer, according to Montgomery County police Chief Tom Manger.

During the four-hour standoff, as trained negotiators spoke with Lee, Montgomery County police tactical officers moved into position around the building. They were able to watch the gunman and listen to what he was saying, Manger said.

"At one point, the suspect, it was reported that he pulled out the handgun that he came in with, and pointed it at one of the hostages," Manger said. "It's unconfirmed now whether he actually fired the weapon or not, but at that point, our tactical units moved in. They shot the suspect. The suspect is deceased."

Manger added that, "The hostages were all able to safely get out of the building."

One hostage was a security guard; the other two were Discovery employees, Manger said. Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Chief Richie Bowers said all three hostages were being evaluated, but non appeared to be hurt.

Manger said the suspect had strapped what appeared to be explosive devices to his body, and also brought two boxes and two backpacks with him. Police suspected the objects may contain explosive devices, and were still working to safely remove them.

Law enforcement sources identified the gunman as James Jay Lee, 43, a frequent protester outside Discovery Channel.

"He obviously had a number of issues with Discovery," Manger said.

David Leavy, Discovery's executive vice president for corporate affairs, added: "We are familiar with this gentleman. He has protested here in the past."

Leavy said: "All employees are accounted for" and "we executed our emergency evacuation plan flawlessly. We're very thankful for that."

Lee had argued that the Discovery Channel should spend more time discouraging humans from reproducing, because humans have destroyed the Earth and caused wars, and that Discovery should dedicate programming to discouraging humans from reproducing.


UPDATE 5:39: Sources are reporting that police have killed a gunman who stormed into the Discovery Channel headquarters in downtown Silver Spring this afternoon and took three hostages.

Police say the hostages are safe. The gunman was earlier identified as James Jay Lee, a longtime Discovery Channel protester.

UPDATE 5:34: ABC 7 News is confirming the suspect, James Jay Lee, is dead. 

UPDATE 5:30 p.m. NBC News is reporting the suspect is dead.

UPDATE 5:00 PM: Police shot the suspect. His condition is not known. The three hostages are safe.

Officers shot the suspect at 4:48 p.m., Chief Tom Manger said. The gunman's condition was not immediately known. He hasn't been removed from the building.

Manger said the gunman had a device or devices strapped to his body, and the "device appeared to go off," Manger said.


REVIEW 4:33: Police are negotiating with a suspected gunman who police say is holding "a small number of hostages" in the Discovery Channel headquarters building in downtown Silver Spring.

They have identified the gunman as longtime Discovery Channel protester James Jay Lee, who was arrested in 2008.

Lee apparently opened fire in the lobby, said "Nobody is going anywhere."

Watch continuing coverage of the story on TBD TV.

UPDATE 4:03: MoCo police are having a briefing, and said little except that they will have another update by 5 p.m. Police said some details "may affect how we're treating this situation."

LONG LIST OF BUSES NOT RUNNING FROM METRO: F4, J2, J3, J4, J5, J7, J9, Q2, S2, S4, Y5, Y7, Y8, Y9, Z2, Z6, Z8, Z9 - Due to Police Activity near Silver Spring Station, 70's, S, Q, and Y Lines will board and alight at Colesville RD & East West Hwy. Z Line will board and alight at Colesville RD & Spring Street. F4 will board and alight at Fenton St. & Philadelphia Ave.

UPDATE 3:41 P.M.: The St. Michael School at 824 Wayne Avenue has been placed on lockdown, ABC 7 News has confirmed.

MoCo POLICE UPDATE 3:20 p.m.: Montgomery County police chief Tom Manger said negotiations with the gunman are ongoing, and that there are a "small number of hostages" but an exact number had not been established. Manger said there had been no reports of injuries as of yet.

He also declined to say whether the gunman had made any demands.

"I'm not going to discuss the nature of our conservations with him," Manger said.

As for reports that the gunman may have a bomb, Manger said, "We're going with the assumption they could be explosive devices."

Manger declined to identify the gunman publicly, saying police would have to meet with him face to face first. Sources have identified him as James Jay Lee.

Capt. Paul Starks said police would have another update before 4 p.m.

UPDATES ON SUSPECT: Lee was arrested outside the Discovery Channel headquarters on Feb. 21, 2008. The arrest was captured in a story by ABC 7 News. During his arrest, Lee listed a homeless shelter in Silver Spring as his address. A case manager at the shelter told TBD on Wednesday that they did not have a James Lee on file, but added that many people list them as an address.

UPDATE 2:52: Justice Department correspondent for NBC News, Pete Williams, confirms names of suspect as James Jay Lee, a longtime protester of Discovery. ABC News is also confirming. Here's an old DCist post on Lee.

UPDATE 2:33 p.m. This was an e-mail sent to Discovery employees

Subject: URGENT: Employees Should Go Home - Don't Return to 1DP Until Further Notice Employees at 1DP should go home for the remainder of the day. No employee should return to 1DP for any reason. Employees with cars at 1DP should not return to the office, but instead use an alternate mode of transportation.

The children from Discovery Kids Place are safe and with their teachers at the McDonald's at the intersection of Colesville and Second Aves. Parents should meet their children there and go home for the remainder of the day.

UPDATE 2:25 All workers in building were evacuated. Many told to go home though they left personal items in the building. 

UPDATE 2:21: Police are saying there is at least one hostage.

UPDATE 2:15 p.m. Angela Gates, a Metro spokeswoman, said the Silver Spring Metro station remains open, though the south entrance is closed. Buses that service the Silver Spring Transit Center are being detoured around closed streets, she said. Colesville Road is blocked off.

UPDATE: 2:02 p.m.: The Discovery Channel day care has been evacuated to the nearby McDonald's. The day care had about 100 kids. They are reported to be safe.

UPDATE: 1:50 p.m.: According to Cpl. Dan Friz, a Montgomery County police spokesman, a tactical team is trying to get in touch with the gunman, who is being monitored on closed circuit TV.

The "tactical team has put together a plan for dealing with this individual," Friz told ABC 7 News.

Friz was unable to confirm reports that multiple shots have been fired, but he said no shots had been fired by police as of 1:40 p.m.

Police were initially dispatched to the building for the report of shots fired at about 1 p.m. Police are reporting the suspect is an Asian male.

"Some sort of device on him that may be explosive in nature..." Friz said.


Montgomery County police have confirmed the Discovery Communications headquarters on Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring has been evacuated after the report of a man possibly with explosives inside the building.

A man entered the lobby and may have fired a weapon and declared, "Nobody is going anywhere," Montgomery County police said.

In a phone interview on ABC 7 News and TBD TV, Discovery Communication employee Lisa Lucas said the building is in lockdown, with an unknown number of employees sheltering in offices. Police have established a cordon around the building.

She said that about 1:20 p.m., "we heard, Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop."

Police have not confirmed that multiple shots were fired.

Montgomery County police say the SWAT on scene; and the Emergency Response Team is en route.

The suspect is an Asian male, police said.

ABC 7 News has crews en route the scene.

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