Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Hostage (And Bomb??) Situation at Discovery HQ



In case you haven't heard, a gunman has taken a hostage at Discovery headquarters. He reportedly has "tanks" on his back which may or may not be a bomb. Hopefully not. On the news they are saying the gunman, an Asian male (Lee???), may be an ex-employee. The daycare has been evacuated but a lot of employees are still in the building.

The newscasters are saying it could be related to threats over Whale Wars somehow, but I would be quite surprised if that was the case. The disgruntled ex-employee scenario seems more plausible.

UPDATE: WUSA Channel 9 is saying it IS Lee!! (Though on what claim this is based, I have no idea.)

UPDATE @2:30: Employees going home now.

UPDATE @2:44: Now NBC is saying Lee is the suspect.

UPDATE @2:55: Here's some old posts on Lee and his protest.

UPDATE @4:24: Lee is still going strong. He may have more than one hostage.

UPDATE @5:04: Well, it's over. The cops shot Lee when he came out of the building and whatever 'device' he had on his back went off at that time. The three hostages are safe and out of the building.

The police claim they "don't know" if Lee was alive or dead (how do they not?). A reporter actually asked in the press conference, "Is he in once piece?"

Let's hope he's not dead. He is/was clearly a very disturbed person but doesn't/didn't deserve to die, no matter how bad my evening commute ends up being.

UPDATE @5:27: By far the best phrase uttered by reporters in this whole thing: "the robot just went down the street".

UPDATE @5:29: Lee is dead. FATALITY.



50 comments:

socoblogboy said...

You are SS Singular! Stay on the story man. Forget watching the news, I'll just stay tuned here!!

Anonymous said...

It appears to be Lee (according to the realtime updates I'm getting from DCist.

Meanwhile, my mother just called me from Illinois to tell me not to take the Metro home from work.

aims said...

this is crazy seeing our neighborhood on national news!

socoblogboy said...

OMG - Lee? I can't access his website, but the cached version shows all his demands. Wow!

Anonymous said...

Whewww... Glad it wasn't Bruce Lee getting crazy on Seth from IMP for trying to block the Fillmore...

Walker said...

The cached version of his site is at: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache%3Asavetheplanetprotest.com
( or http://tinyurl.com/2fetkgm )

In a nutshell:
* Humans are filth
* People should stop having babies
* War should stop "not because it's morally wrong, but because of the catastrophic environmental damage"
* Discovery must show programs about saving the planet, including promoting the above.

Chris said...

DCist just linked to you Sligo!

http://dcist.com/2010/09/developing_police_situation_at_disc.php

Thomas Hardman said...

This just in from CNN: "this suspect may not be logic driven..."

Lee's screen can be got by searcihng google for "savetheplanetprotest.com" and selecting cache.

Except for the part about being batshit crazy and taking hostages, etc., there is something to be said for the notion of saving the planet by stabilizing population. But this particular approach is about as wrong as you could go about achieving such a goal.

Hope everything turns out okay...

Hmm, I wonder if Piratz is still open, a buddy of mine might be trapped in there...

Anonymous said...

I think that Piratz Tavern would be an excellent place to hang out during this whole episode. Surreal piratz singing sea shanties, surreal batshit Korean guys holding hostages a block away... it somehow all seems to come together.

Anonymous said...

You said no more blog posts about this. :(

Anonymous said...

Has closing off all the major streets in DTSS had any affect on the traffic? My guess is yes, it probably has.

Thomas Hardman said...

Wow. Good art criticism (life imitating art imitating life imitating...) from anonymous there. Yikes.

Morrissey from DCist was just live interviewed on CNN, he pretty much gave them word-for-word from Sligo's history of Lee. Sligo, expect a phone call soon, e-mail Morrissey with your cell number if he hasn't already got it. Your 15 minutes is here.

CNN's commentators asked Morrissey "why Discovery channel, they're the most save-the-planet broadcaster there is?"

Great question.

Anonymous said...

Suddenly this is the most relevant blog on the planet.
Not that I don't think it's relevant most of the time, just that the rest of the world doesn't always share that feeling.

Anonymous said...

I was relieved to hear they'd evacuated the children from the daycare . . . until I saw that they were evacuated to the "safety" of THE MCDONALD'S ACROSS THE STREET.

Sligo said...

Re: McDonald's

LOL yes was thinking something similar!

Giulia said...

I just got home...c'est moi again SSS (OK, about what you said re: elevators on library, btw). It sure looked like Lee. He was hanging around there the last 3 days again--across the street--when I walked to the market, office depot, etc. Bleep.

Tim said...

Having followed your posts about Lee back in 2008, my first thought was that this was probably him.

Thomas Hardman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Lee has been shot

Anti dealth penalty said...

What's with the police? Do they not ever think of resorting to anything but violence to solve situations? As misguided as this man was, he did NOT deserve to die. Surely, time and earnest negotiation could have brought this to a better end. It looks like they just found their opportunity and offed him.

Anonymous said...

C'mon. You really think the cops wanted to kill him? I can assure you that none of the officers involved will enjoy this day. Have pity on them for having to make the tough choices that we are oblivious to.

Anonymous said...

since any of your loved ones weren't held hostage, I can understand your point.

Anonymous said...

Christ on a cracker, Anti-death penalty...the guy had hostages. Damn right they found their opportunity and offed him.

That is not a "death penalty." That is protecting innocent lives caught in a highly volatile and dangerous situation.

Jill said...

I was in the airport in Huntsville, AL, seconds from getting on a plane back to National, and I happened to glance up at the TV--and Headline News was showing the Discovery Building, swarming with cops. Talk about surreal!
I had to wait until we landed to get the whole scoop. But it's OK, because I had the whole hour-and-a-half trek home to listen to WTOP and catch up.

Terry in Silver Spring said...

I was away from TV and the internet all day and just got a glance at a set this evening over a bar. It was a shock to see a place in DTSS. I'm thankful the hostages are ok.

Ryan said...

@AntiDeathPenalty --This guy was asking to be "offed." He wasn't Joe-Shmoe walking down the street, killed by police. He absolutely brought this upon himself. He was off parole only 2 weeks and got himself set up on this prank. Poor fool. I have great respect for USA's fine officers who have to take on "this side" of America--many people were at great risk today.

WashingtonGardener said...

Anon who asked about street closures: uh, yeah, and STILL shut down as of 10pm.

TH/CNN who said Discovery programming is "save the Earth channel": Hello?! Jon and Kate plus 8? American CHopper? Swamp Loggers? I could go on and on...

~Rupe said...

The police mentioned in their press conference around 5pm that hours were spent negotiating without any progress - he remained in a highly agitated and emotional state, repeating his talking points from his demands webpage, and *he pointed his gun at a hostage.* It was at that point the order to fire was given, before he could act on his intentions.

That sounds like an entirely reasonable use of force to me. Don't forget about the explosives allegedly on his person and brought with him to the scene.

ADP, I realize you're taking this opportunity to share your point of view, but your comments come across as uninformed and piss-poorly timed to those of us who had friends, family and colleagues in and around Silver Spring today.

This was the work of a disturbed individual. He chose his fate as soon as he walked in the door locked, loaded and intending to do harm to others. It's an amazing occurrence that there seem to be no injuries to anyone except the perpetrator, and for that I am extremely thankful. We should all be.

Thank you to SSS for keeping us informed today, we are glad you & yours are safe as well.

Big Bubba said...

I was heartened to see, mostly, positive statments from people here. For those of you who stay in tune with the ongoings of SS I'm sure many of us had a soft spot for Lee. Sure, he was out there, but, he didn't seem violent to me until today. Even then, when this all unfolded I was hopeful it would end peacefully. I can find no fault with the police in this story.

Thomas Hardman said...

It's so sad that it had to end like this. The police department's hostage negotiators are all very well trained and one reasonably presumes that they did their best before giving the go-ahead to the marksman who took the shot.

The thing to understand here is that this was a misguided individual who invested too much emotion into a well-founded cause that is widely supported by a great many rational and educated people who would never stoop to violence.

Yet over at the Post they're really grasping at straws, effectively blaming Lee's insanity to a widely-read work of fiction. The author, of course, denies that his intention was to promote any such violence or outrages.

Just write this off as the rampage of someone who went off of the deep end, and insanely believed that Discovery Channel was to blame. This couldn't have been reasonably predicted because it's just not reasonable. Lee wanted the population reduced and he got his wish, though the population was reduced only by one person, that being himself.

Thank goodness that all of the hostages are safe.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't in SS for this (I work downtown), but I have to say I was extremely impressed with the professionalism of Montgomery County police officers. This was not an easy situation, yet they responded quickly and efficiently, and were able to safeguard all innocent life.

Also, on a much less weighty level, from my own experience on my walk back from the Metro (I live on Colesville north of downtown and thus was diverted from my usual route), the cops were courteous and helpful. They clearly communicated which streets were open and which weren't, and offered suggestions on how people could get home.

When I compare the Montgomery County officers to those just south of us in DC, it's night and day. I'm so glad I live in MoCo.

Anonymous said...

So I was listening to gawdawful WMAL630 for a short time during this whole thing and the intrepid on-the-spot DC reporters were quite puzzled by this strange new land called 'Silver Spring'.

(paraphrasing)

"It used to be a pretty bad area Skip."

"You're right Biff, it's certainly been gentrified. There look to be lots of places to eat around here."

They must be from Virginia.

Anonymous said...

IHATEYUPPIES SAID...

James Lee was executed by the MCPD yesterday. Yeah, it happens. Cops will murder people because it saves the hassle of a trial down the road. The victims tend to be persons of color and those with radical political views.

Lee should have never threatened people with a gun and explosives and then take hostages. He should be punished for that. But the cops decided to make a death sentence on the spot.

Anyway, if you read his "Manifesto", many of his points make perfect sense to me:

The world is overpopulated.

Carbon emissions caused by industrialization and over-population in high-carbon emitting countries is a problem.

Animal extinctions is a severe problem around the planet.

He rails against the Ponzi-scheme style capitalism.

He opposes the proliferation of weapons and the appliance of war.

Lee loses me on two points:

1. He spewed racist garbage about immigrants.

2. He is against human reproduction, period. Sorry but I think having babies is fine with me as long as there are limits. Having one or two kids is acceptable.

Furthermore, he should have spent more his energy fighting against polluters in the oil industry or timber logging corporations.

Discovery is a private corporate media entity that has the right to control its own programming. If Discovery wants to program garbage and NOT provide educational material, that's their right. Lee didn't understand this too well.

-IHY-

~Rupe said...

/sarcasm mode on/
If an immediate death sentence is what the police had in mind, then why did that take 4 hours to accomplish? Surely if that was what the MoCo police are up to any given day, all this would've been ended much more quickly, sparing a horrible rush hour commute?
/sarcasm off/

The accusations of an execution are unfounded.

His actions required the use of deadly force to preserve innocent life. His death did not come about because of the color of his skin, his race or anything else but his own raging actions.

Lee could've continued his protests and idea contests in a non-violent fashion - even after the restraining order and his parole. Instead but he chose a path of violence and was met with the same.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, living in Virginia sucks. Old Town Alexandria is just so historical and boring compared to DTSS. And the thrill ride on the Red line (fatal accidents, people trapped on trains for hours) is so much more worth the money than those relatively sedate Yellow and Blue lines. And jeeze I miss driving on Georgia Avenue, etc. The George W. Parkway is so less interesting with all those views of the river and the trees south of Old Town. And boy did I miss the incessant roar of the News Choppers that I know must have been buzzing around DTSS yesterday, when all I could hear were cicadas. Yeah, Virginia just sucks...

Walker said...

A member of MoCo SWAT said a few years ago that they were "proud of how many people they'd killed: zero." These aren't trigger-happy goons; they're very professional.

Did you know that anytime a MoCo officer kills someone, there's automatically a grand jury investigation? No matter how justified it might have appeared to be.

It's hard to tell what this nutjob might have done. We found him amusing when he was just ranting and throwing money, but this time he had a gun, alleged (and, according to the most recent reports, genuine) explosives, and 3 hostages. I don't support the death penalty, but the lives of the hostages take priority.

Sligo said...

You can't just cherry pick the best parts of Virginia. I could say how great the Clara Barton Parkway in Maryland is, too. And it's unfair to somehow blame this incident on Maryland. That's like saying "In Maryland, no one flew a jet airliner into one of our buildings"...

~Rupe said...

It came out today that it took another *4 hours* to disable just the explosive devices he had strapped to his person. Even if he'd only been wounded by a shot, said devices certainly would've been a detriment to anyone attempting medical care.

That info comes from WTOP's story here.

Walker said...

Anonymous said:

When I compare the Montgomery County officers to those just south of us in DC, it's night and day. I'm so glad I live in MoCo.

Better DC than PG. Remember, PG SWAT burst into the home of the Mayor of Berwyn Heights and shot his dogs -- even though at least one was running away from them -- on suspicion that he was selling pot. (Which he wasn't.) They were so overboard that one Berwyn Heights officer who arrived afterward said he stayed with the Mayor just to make sure something didn't happen to him.

Then there was the recent beating of a UMCP student, caught on video. PG has a long, long history of abuse. DC has bad apples, but it isn't bad for a big-city police force (for what that's worth).

Anonymous said...

Sligo, First, you've got a great blog here, thanks for all you do.

But I'm not "cherry picking" my comments on Virginia... My comments are baased on my actual day to day reality in Virginia, compared to my former day to day reality in SoMOCo. I grew up in SoMoCo (close to the Clara Barton Parkway, BTW) and have lived most of my adult life on the edge of DTSS (over 20 years), but I now live a bit south of Old Town in a mid-centry modern house (I know you know where I'm talking about Sligo) and do take the GW Parkway to points north of home. And when I go to my local town center, it is Old Town. Sorry, but it is my opinion that, other than the right wing extemists currently running VA, life is better here - for me.

Now that is not to say Silver Spring is not nice and doesn't have some great things going for it, it just reminds me, when I read about all the issues in DTSS, what trade offs I've made. Like most Dyed-in-the Blue Wool Marylanders I struggled with the idea of moving into Virginia, but in retrospect I wonder why.


On another note, R.I.P. Mr. Lee.

Sligo said...

Hey, Old Town had a couple hundred year head start over Silver Spring.

Sligo said...

Oh, and I would consider living in VA if it were in that neighborhood, though we do have something similar in Rock Creek Woods.

Big Bubba said...

I love Old Town Alexandria. But, it has plenty of bad areas, too. Just go a couple of blocks north of King Street. Maybe the area has cleaned itself up but I do recall an open air drug market there and, also, a police officer being killed there ages ago.

Anonymous said...

All genuflect before architect Charles M. Goodman!

Anonymous said...

Hey, Old Town had a couple hundred year head start over Silver Spring.

Back then it was just 'Town'.

Terry in Silver Spring said...

Anonymous,

Why don't you use your name or at least a recognizable nick name?

kristy said...

In other local news...
http://www.gazette.net/stories/09022010/montnew155954_32559.php

kristy said...

My link got cut off:
http://tiny.cc/pdfgj

Bowie Mike said...

I happened to catch the Fox 5 News at 10 Wednesday night, and there on the screen was the familiar logo of Silver Spring, Singular. They mentioned the blog and the 2008 coverage of Lee.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, it appears that Discovery has decided to take no chances on any future situations of a similar variety. I walked by yesterday and the main lobby and exhibits are now accessible only to Discovery employees. The public will have to settle for looking through the windows. :( The guard now sits at a podium just inside the doors instead of back at the desk. Hoping this is only temporary but who knows.