* Police shoot and kill suspect; hostages safe
* Suspect had protested against Discovery Channel
(Updates with suspect dead, police, company quotes)
By Maggie Fox
SILVER SPRING, Md., Sept 1 U.S. police shot and
killed a man who took three people hostage, waving a gun and
apparently fitted out with explosives, in the headquarters of
the Discovery Channel near Washington on Wednesday.
Officers who had been watching the hostage drama on a
building security camera crept in while police negotiated with
the emotional gunman and shot him when he pointed his pistol at
one of the three men he held hostage.
"A hostage moved, he pulled his gun, and a shot was taken,"
Montgomery County police chief Tom Manger told reporters. He
said the suspect was killed and the hostages were safe.
The man, named by a U.S. law enforcement official as James
Lee, had been arrested before for protesting against Discovery
Channel over environmental issues.
"He had a history ... of conflict with Discovery," Manger
The incident caused chaos in Silver Spring, Maryland, a
shopping and office district and commuter hub on the edge of
the U.S. capital.
Police sealed off the area around the building and SWAT
teams deployed shortly after the suspect entered the building
carrying a handgun at about 1 p.m. Manger said county and state
police, FBI and Homeland Security agents joined the operation.
The building, where nearly 1,900 employees work, was
evacuated and children were rushed from a day-care center.
Police said they were still trying to determine whether two
boxes and two backpacks that the hostage-taker had were
explosive devices. Bomb-sniffing dogs checked the area before
workers were allowed to leave neighboring buildings.
PROTEST AGAINST POPULATION
A James Lee of San Diego was arrested in February 2008
after throwing money into the air in a protest outside the
Discovery building, the Montgomery County Gazette reported that
A website registered under the name of James Lee contained
demands that Discovery air programming urging people to stop
having babies, which he says is leading to the overpopulation
of the planet.
"Civilization must be exposed for the filth it is," reads
the site, savetheplanetprotest.com. "Saving the Planet
means saving what's left of the non-human Wildlife by
decreasing the Human population. That means stopping the human
race from breeding any more disgusting human babies!" it says.
"If you follow what he said publicly online, I don't think
it's rational. We certainly were cognizant, aware of him but
did not take his threats or demands seriously," said David
Leavy, a Discovery Channel spokesman.
Police kept the gunman talking by telephone almost the
whole time. "He went from being agitated to being calm," said
Manger. The hostages, two Discovery employees and a security
guard, just happened to have been in the lobby and were kept
lying on the floor by the gunman, he said.
More than an hour after the gunman was shot, streets and
alleyways around the sprawling glass and silver Discovery
building were clogged with dozens of police vehicles, bomb
disposal trucks and canine units.
Pedestrians stared silently as snipers unloaded their
rifles and stripped, sweating, out of bulletproof vests.
Discovery Communications says it reaches 1.5 billion
subscribers in more than 180 countries with the Discovery
Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Science Channel and Planet Green
(Additional reporting by Jackie Frank, Bill Trott, Diane
Bartz, Xavier Briand, David Storey, Andy Sullivan and Jeremy
Pelofsky; writing by Tabassum Zakaria and Alistair Bell;
editing by Mohammad Zargham)