REGULARLY UPDATED; SCROLL DOWN FOR LATEST…
Washington, D.C. TV station WJLA reports that the gunman has at least one hostage and may have explosives on him. WJLA says that according to reports on police scanners, the gunman fired one shot and yelled out, “No one’s going anywhere.” The building is on lockdown, although some employees managed to escape (and children in Discovery’s daycare were safely evacuated):
Montgomery County police have confirmed the Discovery Communications headquarters on Georgia Avenue in downtown Silver Spring has been evacuated after the report of a man possibly with explosives inside the building.
A man entered the lobby and may have fired a weapon and declared, Nobody is going anywhere, Montgomery County police told ABC 7’s Brad Bell.
In a phone interview on ABC 7 News and TBD TV, Discovery Communication employee Lisa Lucas said the building is in lockdown, with an unknown number of employees sheltering in offices. Police have established a cordon around the building.
She said that about 1:20 p.m., “we heard, Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop..”
Police have not confirmed that multiple shots were fired.
Reports are surfacing that this may be an ex-employee. Watch live coverage of the situation via WJLA/Newschannel 8/TBD.com here.
And WUSA has live coverage here. WUSA’s video player has embed codes, so here you go:
UPDATE: After 45 minutes of lockdown, staffers are telling WUSA that the building has been evacuated. But the hostage situation in the Discovery lobby continues.
UPDATE: While reports suggested that the gunman was an ex-employee, there are also rumors flowing that this may be the work of an individual protesting Discovery programming (such as “Whale Wars”). WUSA is linking to this manifesto.
WJLA says that according to officials, the gunman has “tanks or explosives” strapped to his back.
UPDATE: “There is some movement toward the building,” WJLA says. Gurney brought into building. “Scene has been secured enough for medical personnel to come in.”
UPDATE: Montgomery County Capt. Paul Starks said they’re speaking to the gunman, he’s making some demands, has an explosive device attached to him that “could be a bomb.” Asian male who “has some concerns with the Discovery corporation.”
UPDATE: WUSA anchor talking to his wife, a Discovery employee who had been evacuated. “I don’t have a car, you need to pick me up” she tells her husband on air. C’mon, people!
UPDATE: Word is leaking that the gunman is James Jay Lee, who was arrested in the past for protesting Discovery. Read this 2008 DCist report on Lee’s past arrests and protests against the company.
UPDATE: Now comes the portion of the gunman/hostage situation where there’s no new news… and anchors have RUN OUT OF THINGS TO SAY. Just heard a reporter on WJLA reminisce about Discovery Channel’s past headquarters locations around the D.C. area.
UPDATE: Montgomery County Capt. Paul Starks on WUSA: “Right now, we’re talkign to him and hope we can bring this to a successful resolution once we figure out what he wants.” No confirmation of anyone injured. “That’s something that would have been reported in our initial report at 1 p.m.,” Starks said.
UPDATE: Crawling the web for more on James Lee, check out this MySpace page about his “Save the Planet Protest.” Here’s his web page in the 2008 protest he organized against Discovery, which even includes a phone number for Lee. And here’s the website for “Ishmael” and author Daniel Quinn, which Lee cites heavily for inspiration.
UPDATE: NBC-owned WRC (streaming on MSNBC’s site) has had a lot of good info. Here’s the stream here:
UPDATE: 3:15 ET press conference. News from Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger:
At 1 p.m. today a man entered the Discovery building; he came in and was wearing metallic canister devices. Also pulled a handgun out. Not confirmed that there was a shot fired. Man told everyone to stay still and has remained on 1st floor area. Ongoing hostage situation we’re dealing with. There are 1,900 employees work in that building; most of them are out. Still not confirmed, but there may be a few employees on upper floors. There are a small number of hostages with the suspect at this point. We’re in negotiations, which are ongoing. We have the same reports on identity (as the news media), but we cannot confirm his identity until we can talk to him face-to-face. At this point still negotiating with him and get him to release the hostages. Negotiations have been going on for nearly an hour and we’ll continue that for as long as we can.
Another police conference is set for 3:50 p.m. ET.
UPDATE: Lee wrote in 2008: “They aren’t even attempting to save the planet in my opinion, they just want to make it SEEM that way to fool people and to enhance their reputation as so-called ‘environmentalists’. They are monsters and are practically arms-dealers. What the hell do you want me to wait for? More friggen’ lies and double-talk. I don’t believe for a second that Planet Green is out there to save the planet. In fact, one person here who claims to work for Discovery said that saving the planet was NOT the responsibility of Discovery. This attitude proves to me that it’s all lies.”
UPDATE: Here’s a pic of Lee protesting Discovery in 2008:
After his attempts to protest Discovery attracted few, if any, supporters, Lee paid homeless people to join him, and was later arrested after throwing money in the street to cause a stir and attract people to his cause. Watch a YouTube video of it right here:
Here’s what Lee wrote on this message board after being arrested:
Yeah, I guess the world did not get saved that week as I had hoped. Was that a failure? Probably. Imagine the police holding me for 2 whole weeks!!! They threw me in the nuthouse for 4 days without bond and then continued to hold me for 2 weeks total until they could ‘verify’ my address and threw me in a homeless shelter. It was total bullshit.
UPDATE: Tweet from Discovery’s PR department (many of whom were out of town when this went down today):
4 p.m. ET UPDATE: Montgomery County police says there’s no new news.
UPDATE: Here’s a video that Lee had put together and uploaded to YouTube, a treatment for his idea of what Discovery’s TV shows should look like. He called it “Race to Save the Planet” (title card above):
UPDATE 5 p.m. ET Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger’s briefing with media: Three people were held hostage near the lobby of the building. Over the past several hours, police had been in negotiations with the man. Ten minutes ago, the suspect was shot by police officers.
The hostages are now safe. Other suspected devices in the building have not been rendered safe. The operations is to make sure those devices are “rendered safe and removed.”
An explosion that he was wearing went off. Police not commenting on whether the suspect has died. “We do not know the condition of the suspect. I do not believe we’ve removed him from the building. The building is not safe.” Investigators are looking at backpacks scattered around the lobby, they suspect those bags were brought in by the gunman.
WJLA: Suspect Lee at some point went outside the building, which is when he was shot. No one has gone to the suspect yet, perhaps because of explosives on him.
UPDATE: NBC News reporting that gunman James Lee is dead.
UPDATE: An interesting side note to James Lee’s message board: As he planned his 2008 protest against Discovery, Lee got into quite a few online battles with other users on the site. After Lee was arrested, several of those users confessed to be Discovery employees (or so they claimed).
UPDATE: 5:49 p.m. Montgomery Police Chief Major: Lee may have fired a round when he came in, we’re trying to confirm that. Told people to stop moving; several ran out of lobby. In the end had three hostages, all male: One security guard and two others. Over the course of next several hours our trained negotiators spoke with this man. He had a number of issues with Discovery, he’s had a hisotry of conflict with Discovery. As we were negotiating with him our tactical officers able to get into position, close to him, watching him by camera, close enough to see what he was doing via camera. At one point the suspect reported that he pulled out handgun he came in with, pointed it at one of the hostages, unconfirmed whether he fired; at that point our tactical units moved in. They shot the suspect, the suspect is deceased. At this point, still have four devices — two boxes, two backpacks, have to determine whether they are explosive devices. The building is still a crime scene. We still have work to do. To our knowledge, no one besides from suspect has been injured.
Discovery Communications corporate communications exec David Leavy: On behalf of the company, thank you to law enforcement, it was an incredibly professional operation. We’re relieved it ended without any harm to our employees. All of our employees are accounted for. We executed our emergency evacuation plan flawlessly. Everyone is safe and sound and were very thankful for that.
We were familiar with this gentleman. He has protested Discovery in the past. We have a competent security team 24/7. The staff handled themselves really brilliantly. The success of today, a lot goes to Montgomery County fire and rescue and FBI but also the Discovery security team. I don’t want to characterize the motivations of the perpetrator, if you follow his writings online, I don’t think it was rational. We did not take his writings or demands seriously.
Major: We will clear the whole building. We believe we have him tracked the entire time from the time he entered the building. But we will clear that entire building.
He has very public information out there… I know generally that he had issues.
One device detonated, don’t think it detonated the way he wanted it to. (Won’t confirm if Lee was already dead when device went off.)
There were employees in the building on the upper floor
Leavy: Less than 10 staffers stayed a while to help law enforcement navigate the building. Our hope and expectation is tomorrow we’ll be back open for business.
Major: (Lee) had been in touch with a news operation in New York.
Leavy: We want to be cautious and prudent in the statement that we make. Priority will be nurturing and responding to employee needs over the coming days. This is a scary event. It really is. I’m proud of the Discovery family. It’s a loyal, comprehensive, cooperative, fun place to work. That strength came out today.
More: Lee was convicted in 2008 and spent 10 days in jail. Ordered to stay at least 500 feet away from the Discovery building. His probation ended two weeks ago. Also: The Discovery security guard taken hostage was unarmed.
Leavy: Hope that we can get back to work tomorrow, but it is an active crime scene and we’ll take our lead from law enforcement.