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.
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