A harrowing hostage-taking at Discovery Communications HQ in Silver Spring, Maryland yesterday ended at approximately 5pm EST with the death of the gunman and the safe release of his three hostages.
During a press briefing shortly after the resolution, Montgomery County Police chief Tom Manger told reporters that James Jay Lee, the gunman who had entered the building at approximately 1pm, was dead. The suspect was shot by police during the standoff, after he had pointed his handgun at one of the hostages. Two of the hostages were Discovery Communications employees, and one was a security guard.
Manger confirmed that Lee ‘had a history of conflict’ with Discovery Communications, resulting in an arrest in 2008 during a protest outside the premises. Lee also posted assorted online tirades against the company and its assorted channels’ programming, imploring Discovery Communications in one manifesto to ‘stop encouraging the birth of any more parasitic human infants.’ The Wrap has posted a reality show treatment reportedly submitted by Lee to Discovery for a program he had titled Race to Save the Planet. A MySpace account that Lee had maintained under the name ‘WorldGuardian’ has, as of today, been deleted.
Manger said that during the four-hour standoff, ‘A device did detonate on [Lee's] person.’ It was earlier reported that Lee had entered the building with a handgun and what appeared to be canisters strapped to his back. The Washington Post today reports that the building was given the ‘all clear’ this morning, but that police are still gathering evidence there.
Discovery Communications’ EVP of global communications David Leavy issued a statement following the events of the day to general media. Here is that statement in full:
‘First and foremost, Discovery Communications wants to express how relieved and grateful we are that all employees and the children from the Discovery Kids Place daycare center are safe. Employees in Silver Spring demonstrated courage, compassion and cooperation throughout the situation, which aided law enforcement efforts — for which we are thankful and proud.
‘In coordination with Montgomery County, Md., Police, an evacuation procedure was executed for all persons in the building. The evacuation procedures were handled with professionalism and with safety as Discovery’s primary concern. Discovery thanks the Montgomery County Police and Fire & Rescue and other state and federal safety personnel whose quick thinking and fast action ensured the safety of the employees and children in the building as well as the Silver Spring, Md., community.
‘The events of today showed the strong heart of the Discovery family.’