Update: The alleged hostage taker James J. Lee, who barricaded himself at the Discovery Channel's Maryland headquarters, has been shot dead. Three hostages reportedly have been released.
More details to follow . . .
The gunman identified as the suspect in an unfolding hostage situation at the Discovery Channel offices in Silver Spring, Maryland, uses a Burnaby-based company to host his website.
The suspect, identified in media reports as James Jay Lee, has a website named savetheplanetprotest.com. A Whois.com search shows the website is registered to a man by the same name and lists a Burnaby P.O. box as is address.
Doteasy.com, located in the 3600-block Gilmore way, hosts the domain name but told The Province it had no comment.
On the website, Lee has posted several demands that Discovery Channel must broadcast its commitment to save the planet.
Lee’s bizarre ramblings include demands that Discovery Channel broadcast television shows based on environmentalist and author Daniel Quinn’s book, Ishmael, that the channel cease broadcasting any programs “promoting war and the technology behind [them].”
Lee’s Myspace page says he’s 43, lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, and cites Hawaii as his hometown.
He likes ‘70s, ‘80s and Spanish music and counts Family Guy, the Simpsons, South Park and the Discovery Channel among the television shows/channel he’s most interested in. In addition to Quinn, he lists James T. Kirk as his “hero.”
Police would not confirm the gunman was Lee, who has a history of protest against the Discovery Channel, according to AFP.
Montgomery County Police spokesman Paul Starks said “his concerns are with the Discovery Corporation right now.”
The gunman fired several shots and took at least one person hostage Wednesday at the Discovery Channel headquarters near Washington, media reports said, quoting police who feared the assailant might have a bomb.
Police could be seen in live television pictures, cordoning off the building and evacuating the area in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring, Maryland.
Local media reports quoted police as saying the man entered the lobby of the building and fired a weapon before declaring: “Nobody is going anywhere.”
“Right now we can confirm that it’s an Asian male” gunman, Montgomery County police spokeswoman Angela Cruz told AFP, adding that police have opened communications with the suspect.
“There appears to be a device that may be an explosive device,” she added. “There is an unconfirmed report of one shot fired. There are no injuries that we are aware of and police are talking to him.”
Cruz said she could not confirm that any hostages had been taken.
Discovery employee Lisa Lucas told TBD TV the building was in lockdown and an unknown number of employees were sheltering in their offices.
NBC reported that in March 2008, Lee was convicted of disorderly conduct, given six months of supervised probation, and fined $500 after being arrested for throwing money outside of the Discovery Channel offices that February.
Local news reports say police and SWAT snipers were posted around the building.
Video images showed a large portion of normally busy downtown Silver Spring barricaded off, and people conducting orderly evacuations from the complex, including employees of a daycare centre wheeling an infant across an intersection in a crib.
Montgomery County Fire Department chief Scott Graham said it was “premature to speculate” on whether the gunman’s package was a bomb, but that county and federal bomb disposal experts had been dispatched and were coordinating at the scene.
WUSA television reported that the assailant posted a list of demands to the Discovery Channel, including that the cable station “broadcast to the world their commitment to save the planet.”
— with files from a staff reporter
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