Discovery hostage on 'Oprah': gunman asked why he had kids
This has post has been updated throughout:
A Discovery Communications employee who was held hostage by an at company headquarters earlier this month by an armed man told Oprah Winfrey Thursday the gunman asked him why he chose to have children and demanded they be sterilized.
Jim McNulty told Oprah on her syndicated show that when he walked into the lobby and saw James Jay Lee holding a gun to the security guard behind the desk, "I started thinking, 'Are we doing a [TV] production here? Why would somebody be showing a gun?'." Then Lee ordered McNulty to lie down on the floor.
Even then, McNulty said, he did not fully realize what was happening:
"At first I'm thinking, 'Why is somebody wanting to rob the lobby of Discovery? We don't keep any money here!' Then [Lee] starts going off about all [Discovery] had to do was save the world and you start realizing, 'Oh, okay'..."
"This is a crazy person," Oprah said, finishing his thought.
McNulty, appearing on the show with co-worker and fellow hostage Chris Wood, said he decided that, if asked, he had to lie to Lee about what he did for a living. Oprah wondered why.
"As a producer for TLC, just the way he was talking about the networks, I just decided it would be safer if...I wasn't a factor. So I told him I was in scheduling," McNulty said.
Lee was angry with the company over its programming, and had been arrested in 2008 at the same headquarters while protesting that programming.
Among his complaints, he wanted Discovery to stop "encouraging the birth of any more parasitic human infants" and instead run programs encouraging "human sterilization," according to a rant on Web site attributed to him, on which was also posted: "NO MORE BABIES! Population growth is a real crisis."
Discovery's TLC cable network has enjoyed ratings success cloning the big-family genre. Among its programs: "Jon & Kate Plus 8" (now "Kate Plus 8"), as well as the Duggar family's "19 Kids and Counting," and "Table for 12." More recently, TLC has launched "Quints by Surprise" and "Sextuplets Take New York."
According to McNulty, upon learning he had two children, Lee began to shout at him: "Who told you to have children?....Nobody loved you? You had to make somebody to love you?... What's so good about your filthy children?...You're gonna have them sterilized, right?"
After nearly four hours, Wood said, a "mixture of signals" caused him to get up and run for the doors.
Police have been reported as saying Lee was shot dead by officers as the three hostages were about to make a run for it. Lee had entered the building around 1 p.m. on Sept. 1, with a gun and wearing what was believed to be an explosive device.
Lisa de Moraes
September 16, 2010; 5:38 PM ET
Categories: Local TV
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