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Gunman dead after being shot at Discovery HQ

[This blog post has been updated]

James J. Lee, longtime critic of Discovery Communications, has died after being shot by police and the device he had with him detonated, Montgomery County Police said Wednesday evening.

Police are now searching for additional explosive devices they think might be in the building. Three hostages have been released without injury. Police declined to discuss Lee's condition.

Discovery Communications's Silver Spring-Md. headquarters was evacuated at lunchtime Wednesday when Lee, a frequent protester of the company and aspiring environmental TV show producer walked into the lobby with what was believed to be an explosive device and a gun.

Montgomery County Police report they received a call around 1 p.m. of shots fired in the lobby.

Employees were evacuated from the 9-story building, which is the workplace of more than 1,000.

In 2008, Lee was arrested while protesting outside Discovery headquarters. He believed Discovery Communications, whose cable channels include Discovery network, TLC, Animal Planet, Planet Green, Science Channel and the soon-to-be launched Oprah Winfrey Network, among others -- was not, as it claimed, telecasting environmentally conscious programming and was instead glorifying couples that have large numbers of children, etc.

"The Discovery Channel produces a lot of shows about saving the planet that all have one thing in common: They don't work. Why don't they have REAL shows about SAVING THE PLANET?" Lee wrote in a cached 2008 Save the Planet Protest web site.

"The Discovery Channel is actually not about saving the planet, they are just another 'green' corporation whose real interests lies in MONEY! Products! Junk! Trash!" Lee wrote.

After his 2008 protest and arrest, Lee tried to develop an environmental TV show, and posted a Save The Planet Protest Essay Contest for ideas.

Lee said he would give the person who submitted the best TV show idea some property in Hawaii and a cash prize.

Lee, who is from San Diego, was arrested for disorderly conduct on Feb. 21, 2008 while leading a demonstration outside Discovery Communications HQ, after he'd spent several hours throwing money into the air to gather a crowd, the Silver Spring Gazette reported at the time.

Ironically, he was also charged with littering, in re the thousands of dollars worth of dollar bills he tossed.

Lee spent nearly two weeks in jail following his arrest and several days being evaluated by state psychiatrists. He was found guilty of disorderly conduct, but was found not guilty of the lesser charge of littering. Silver Spring District Court Associate Judge Stephen P. Johnson gave Lee six months of probation, fined $500 and told he would be tossed in jail for up to 60 days if he came within 500 feet of the Discovery building.

Lee said he began his crusade to save the planet after being laid off from his job in San Diego and reading ''My Ishmael," Daniel Quinn's novel about a gorilla that tells a man what it is like to live in captivity in a world where humans exploit natural resources, the Silver Spring Gazette reported at that time.

Lee said he felt an ''awakening," watching former Vice President Al Gore's documentary ''An Inconvenient Truth" (which was release in May of 2006) and decided he had not done enough to protect the environment, the paper reported.

By Lisa de Moraes  |  September 1, 2010; 5:42 PM ET
Categories:  Local TV  
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I am sure the Washington Pravda, er, Post will blame it on the Tea Partiers. Apparently, we have this from the his website: …For every human born, ACRES of wildlife forests must be turned into farmland in order to feed that new addition over the course of 60 to 100 YEARS of that new human’s lifespan! THIS IS AT THE EXPENSE OF THE FOREST CREATURES!!!! All human procreation and farming must cease!"

Save the three toed sloth...starve people!

Posted by: GiveMeThat | September 1, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I am in the area right now and I just want to let everybody know that it is going to be all-right.

Bear Grylls has just arrived and will be using this as an opportunity to film the latest installment of his 'Worst-Case Scenario' show.

Posted by: williamwj | September 1, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

I found the following blog post that has a video Lee made for a TV show he wanted depicting the destruction of Earth.. Wow!

Posted by: ole5anddimer | September 1, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

RIP James Lee. I was paying attention, in between the network coverage that only regurgitated the same amount of misinformation and speculation for nearly four hours. This planet does demand our attention and she will get it. BTW there's no more reality in reality TV than there is in the media's chase for the next big disaster.

Posted by: mattdmarcello | September 1, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Lee was unbalanced - obsessed with the Discovery Channel as if it held the answers to our environmental debacle. BUT, that does not mean the millions of Americans dedicated to recycling and reducing our carbon footprints are wrong. It is important that we to support reasonable environmentalism. One of the things we currently need to do is keep the pressure on BP. It will not do its share to reclaim the Gulf Coast if it is given wiggle room.

Posted by: query0 | September 1, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

The man is a terrorist. A leftist terrorist. Please WAPO, I know it is hard for you, but call a spade a spade. This article leaves the reader with "but his intentions were good!".

Posted by: kungfoochimp | September 2, 2010 12:28 AM | Report abuse

A 'leftist terrorist' who hates 'anchor baby filth'? Can we please not turn this into another pathetic argument over which end of the political spectrum this guy is on? He obviously has some psychological problems and mixed all kinds of political ideas together in his syphyllitic brain. Nothing he said or did tells us anything about far-left individuals or far-right individuals generally.

Posted by: simian | September 2, 2010 12:47 AM | Report abuse

I used to watch a lot of network television until I realized it was utter pap. Then, I moved on to the cable networks. But like network TV, cable networks started cranking out pap as well (Discovery Channel is a good example). I then took refuge in talk radio - until honest reporting turned into heavy opinionizing. Now, I'm left with only the Internet and books for entertainment (and the Internet is beginning to irk me more and more).

So, while I can sympathize with TV viewers concerned over the crapola being spread around on public (free) and private (pay) networks, the best way to show consternation with it is NOT physical violence. Simply take your money, your time, and your attention to another venue.

It has been over a year since I "watched" television (beyond the rare "special" program). And I can honestly say I'm a better person for it.

Posted by: JAlecWest | September 2, 2010 5:52 AM | Report abuse

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