Gunman attacks Discovery Channel headquarters

By: Lauren Harper

Armed with a gun and four explosive devices, James L. Lee entered the Discovery Channel headquarters and took three people hostage. Photo courtesy Google images

The Discovery Channel is known for its incredible shows that deal with everything from animals to the human body. Most people, being curious, enjoy these shows that the channel airs, but there are some who are opposed to them and resort to unruly actions to show how they feel. This was exactly the case on September 1, when a man entered the Discovery Channel headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland and took some of the employees hostage.

            The man, identified as James J. Lee, 43, went into the building at around 1 p.m. on the Wednesday afternoon and proceeded to take hostages in the lobby. Along with his gun, Lee had four explosive devices strapped to his body. When producers called the headquarters, Lee answered the phone and told them that he had “several bombs strapped to his body ready to go off.” The bombs, which were home-made explosives that took Lee about three weeks to make, consisted of two propane cylinders with pipes and two pipe bombs. The three hostages he took have not been identified, but they are known to have been two Discovery Communications employees and a security guard. The standoff ended when officers went in to subdue Lee after he pointed the gun at one of the hostages. Lee was finally shot and killed, and the four-hour ordeal was then ended.

            This was not the first time that Lee had been in trouble with the law, either. According to reports, Lee staged a “save the planet” protest in February 2008 at the Discovery Channel headquarters, and was charged with disorderly conduct after he threw thousands of dollars worth of cash into the air and bribed homeless people to help his cause by carrying his signs. There was also an order to stay at least 500 feet away from the building issued to Lee after that protest.

            Why exactly was Lee so opposed to the television channel? According to the man’s website, Lee believed that those of the human race are “the most destructive, filthy, pollutive creatures around and are wrecking what’s left of the planet with their false morals and breeding cultures,” and for the Discovery Channel to  host shows like “Kate Plus 8” and “19 and Counting” is encouraging the reproduction of the earth. Lee strongly believed that the channel should encourage sterilization and infertility instead. The man also believed that shows like “Planet Green” are too “money”-oriented and do not offer good enough solutions to save the earth.

            Most people do not quite understand this man’s motives for what he did that day, and they possibly never will. One thing that is for sure is that Lee believed strongly in his cause and felt the need to take action in his own way. Thankfully, no one was hurt during the standoff, and things can now return to normal.  So don’t worry about shows being disrupted; Shark Week and “Man vs. Wild” will continue as planned.


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