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Discovery Channel Gunman Shot By Police, 3 Hostages Freed

Updated at 6:02 pm ET — At a news conference at the 6 pm hour, law enforcement officials said the James Jay Lee who took hostages at the headquarters of the Discovery cable channel outside Washington, D.C. was shot after he aimed a handgun at one of the hostages.

A Montgomery Police Department SWAT team had taken up position and its members watched Lee and the hostages — three men, one of whom was a security guard — via a television camera, Police Chief Tom Manger said.

When they saw Lee raise his weapon in an apparently threatening manner, a tactical officer shot Lee to protect the hostages. It was unclear if Lee died from the gunshot or the detonation after he was shot of an explosive device he had on his person. The final determination would be up to the medical examiner, Manger said.

A Montgomery County prosecutor said Lee had been on probation for a 2008 arrest related to a protest at the Discovery building. That probation required Lee to stay at least 500 feet from the building. His probation ended ten days ago, the prosecutor said.

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James Jay Lee

hide captionJames Jay Lee, suspected Discovery channel gunman/hostage taker.

anonymous/James Jay Lee MySpace page

Updated at 5:24 pm ET — Washington D.C.'s NBC TV affiliate, Channel 4 is reporting that police have confirmed the death of James Jay Lee, identified as the hostage taker at the Discovery Corp. headquarters.

Update at 5:13 pm ET — The Discovery Channel hostage crisis appears to be over although the condition of James Jay Lee, the man identified as the hostage taker, is unclear. Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger appeared somewhat shaken, and clearly wasn't upbeat, when he delivered the news that Lee had been shot by police and "went down" and that the three hostages were freed.

He did not say the suspect was still alive or that he was in custody. There have been no reports of an ambulance racing from the scene which one would expect if a wounded hostage taker was rushed to the hospital.

Manger indicated that there were backpacks the suspect presumably brought into the building with him and that those backpacks were being investigated by bomb experts.

Update at 5:00 pm ET — Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger said the James Jay Lee was shot by a police officer and the three hostages are safe. An explosive device went off with a pop and smoke.

Update at 4:17 pm ET — A police spokesman spoke with reporters around 4 pm to say there was nothing new to report, that police continued to talk with James Jay Lee who authorities have identified as the gunman at the Discovery headquarters building in Silver Spring, Md.

Lee has taken a small group of people hostage at the headquarters of the Discovery Corp. which operates the cable channel of the same name. Lee and the hostages are on the first floor of the building, police said.

Most the 1,900 employees are out of the building, police said. A daycare center on the first floor but at the other end of the building from Lee and the hostages was completely evacuated, according to police.

Update at 3:50 pm ET — The Associated Press has a video report on the Discovery channel hostage situation:

Update at 3:23 pm ET — Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger just held a news briefing. He said police have had discussions with James Jay Lee, the suspected gunman and hostage taker.

Manger said Lee had a small group of hostages although he didn't provide a number.

Manger said Lee entered the building at about 1 pm with a gun and wearing canisters that appeared to be metallic. Police are acting as though Lee could have explosives.

There was very little information beyond that. The police said they will brief again at 3:50 pm ET.

Update at 3:15 pm ET — Thanks to NPRers Andy Carvin, Andrew Prince and Scott Hensley for sending my way info they've been finding online. Scott pointed me to the blog Silver Spring Singular which followed James Jay Lee's 2008 protest against the Discovery Channel.

Update at 3:00 pm ET — Several news outlets are reporting that they have confirmed with law enforcement sources that James Jay Lee is the suspected gunman inside the building. He has a MySpace page.

Lee has protested against Discovery in the past and was arrested at a protest.

There is also a "manifesto" on the web associated with Lee. I just tried to access it without success. A colleague just sent me Google's cached page for the manifesto.

Update at 2:50 pm ET — I'm aware of that the name of an individual who has protested at the Discovery building in the past is swirling around the Web, as is a manifesto.

Here's where professional journalism differs from so-called citizen journalism.

Since I have no idea of knowing if the gunman is the same person as the one who has protested at the building in the past, I can't ethically publish his name or assume it's the same man. I also can't do it because of the laws of libel. But as soon as I have more solid information from authorities, I will post it.

Update at 2:40 pm ET — Discovery employees who work at the headquarters building in Silver Spring, Md where a gunman has taken reportedly taken a hostage or hostages, have been told by e-mail to head home for the remainder of the day.

Meanwhile, they've also been told the children from the Discovery Kids Place daycare center are safe and told where their parents should meet them.

I neglected to mention in my earlier update that Montgomery County Police Captain Paul Starks said that his officers have been in contact with the gunman and has made demands although Starks wouldn't disclose details.

Update at 2:30 pm — Capt. Paul Starks of the Montgomery County police just spoke with reporters and said the suspect  is an Asian male who has "concerns" with the Discovery Channel.

Starks said there is an unconfirmed report that a shot was fired at the start of the incident. Also unconfirmed, he said, is that the man has an explosive device or devices. He wouldn't discuss whether there were any injuries.

All told, he didn't provide much new information.

Update at 2:26 pm ET — There's a photo making the rounds on Twitter that purports to be the gunman who at last report was holding a hostage or hostages at the Discovery channel in Silver Spring, Md just outside Washington, D.C.

Someone familiar with the Discovery building tells me that the photo does indeed appear to have been taken just outside the building.

— original post below —

The suburban Washington, D.C. headquarters of the well-known Discovery cable channel is on lockdown right now after a gunman reportedly entered the building and according to news reports to a hostage or hostages.

Montgomery police spokesman Cpl. Dan Friz told WUSA-TV that a report came in about 1 pm of a gunman who entered the building in Silver Spring, Md. The 911 call reported that shots had been fired, according to the Washington Post.

There are some reports that the gunman may have an explosive device but the police spokesman said that hadn't been confirmed.

Some workers from the building have been evacuated. A daycare in the building has also been evacuated according to reports.

In situations like this, initial details are often murky and wrong. Also, since there is at least one hostage and the gunman could be monitoring the media, police often don't provide all the details they know.

We will continue to update this story with more details.

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