Man slain after taking hostages Man slain after taking hostages

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By Dan Morse,Theresa Vargas and Michael E. Ruane
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, September 2, 2010

James J. Lee divided the world into good and bad. According to his writings on a Web site he created, people were bad, especially "parasitic" babies.

Animals and bugs were good, Lee wrote. But war was bad, along with global warming, pollution and international trade.

As for civilization?

The environmental militant who was killed Wednesday at the end of a tense hostage standoff at Discovery Communications headquarters in downtown Silver Spring, termed it "filth."

Lee, 43, who once threw money to bystanders as a protest along a Silver Spring street and who believed that the world would be better off without people, was shot by police after the almost four-hour standoff. Police have not publicly named Lee, but several local and federal law enforcement sources identified him as the gunman.

Lee held a grudge against Discovery, viewing the network as a purveyor of ideas he considered environmentally destructive and staging protests outside its headquarters, according to authorities and court records. Yet he got little farther than the lobby of the vast complex while the company alerted its thousands of employees and urged them to stay in locked offices and then evacuate using a designated stairwell.

Lee, whose environmental creed was spread across the Internet in manifestoes and blog posts, was killed at 4:48 p.m. after he stalked into the building with a handgun, took three hostages and later pointed his gun at one of them, said Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger.

The incident, in the headquarters of the global television corporation just outside Washington, sent hundreds of employees streaming for safety into the afternoon heat without their purses, wallets and other personal items. It snarled traffic and riveted media audiences, as Lee had a gun and a bomb on his chest when he entered the building about 1 p.m. About 1,900 people work at the Discovery building.

Manger said that when Lee walked into the building, at Colesville Road and Georgia Avenue, he ordered people to freeze, but many fled.

Manger said Lee held three men hostage - a security guard and two other employees - and forced them to lie on the floor facedown.

The chief said police negotiated with Lee over several hours while a tactical team worked its way into a position where it could see and hear the gunman. "They were watching him via camera, and they were close enough to hear what he was saying and see what he was doing," Manger said.

Police took action, Manger said, because the gunman became more agitated. "At one point, the suspect . . . pulled out the handgun that he came in with and pointed it at one of the hostages," Manger said. "At that point, our tactical units moved in and shot the suspect."


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