SILVER SPRING, Md. —A man who railed against the Discovery Channel's environmental programming for years burst into the company's headquarters with at least one explosive device strapped to his body Wednesday and took three people hostage at gunpoint before police shot him to death, officials said.
The hostages — two Discovery Communications employees and a security guard — were unhurt after the four-hour standoff. Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger said tactical officers moved in after officers monitoring Lee on building security cameras saw him pull out a handgun and point it at a hostage.
An explosive device on the gunman's body detonated when police shot him, Manger said. Police were trying to determine whether two boxes and two backpacks the gunman had also contained explosives.
A law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing said authorities had identified James J. Lee as the likely suspect.
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Authorities sent in a robot to disarm the explosive on the gunman's body.
NBC News reported that after its producers called Discovery's general number, a man identifying himself as James J. Lee got on the phone and said he had a gun and several bombs.
He said he built the bombs in about three weeks. "I did a lot of research. I had to experiment," he said.
Lee was convicted of disorderly conduct for a protest he organized outside Discovery's offices in February 2008.
Lee served two weeks in jail. County State's Attorney John McCarthy said Lee was ordered to stay 500 feet away from Discovery headquarters as part of his probation, which ended two weeks ago.
"The Discovery Channel produces many so-called 'Environmental Programs' supposedly there to save the planet," Lee said in an ad he took out in a Washington newspaper to promote the protest. "But the truth is things are getting WORSE! Their programs are causing more harm than good."