By Calvin Palmer
An armed man claiming to have an explosive device has taken at least one person hostage at the headquarters of the Discovery Channel in suburban Washington.
Montgomery County Police responded to a 911 call at 1:00 p.m.
Tactical and bomb squad officers were on the scene and developing a plan for the situation, Montgomery County Police spokesman Dan Fritz said.
The suspect James J.Lee had some issues with the Discovery Corporation.
Fritz said the tactical team was trying to get in touch with the gunman, who was being monitored on closed circuit TV.
Some employees were evacuated from the building in downtown Silver Spring and nearby streets have been cordoned off.
One evacuated employee said he was told a gunman had come into lobby, and grabbed a security guard as a hostage.
County government spokesman Patrick Lacefield said the hostage-taker was armed and claiming to have an explosive device.
At 4:48 p.m., law enforcement officers opened fire because police “believed the hostages’ lives were in danger,” said Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger. All three hostages were found safe.
Police had been negotiating with Lee for several hours, and spoke to him minutes before firing.
Manger said Lee displayed ” a wide range of emotions” during the talks.
One of the explosive devices the suspect had in his possession appeared to go off. Police are working to clear suspicious devices in the building.
A note posted on a Web site in July listed demands to the Discovery Channel, saying the station “MUST broadcast to the world their commitment to save the planet”.
The note, on savetheplanetprotest.com, calls for the channel to air shows that would promote curbing the planet’s population growth, finding solutions for global warming and dismantling “the dangerous US world economy”.
The Web site is registered to James Lee, who uses a post office box in Canada as his address.
Law enforcement sources said they believe the site was operated by the same person who is inside the building. Lee has lived in Hawaii, California and the D.C. area.