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Eco-Activist Shot Wanted To Do A TV Show On Discovery Channel

James Jay Lee, the gunman who was shot dead by police after taking a number of hostages at the Discovery Channel headquarters in Maryland,  was angry that his  idea for a television show was rejected.
PTI September 02, 2010 14:13 IST
James Jay Lee, the gunman who was shot dead by police after taking a number of hostages at the Discovery Channel headquarters in Maryland,  was angry that his  idea for a television show was rejected.  

All three of James Jay Lee's hostages managed to escape safely. At least one device appeared to explode as he was gunned down.  

Lee walked into the main entrance of the building at 1pm on Wednesday waving a gun and wearing what appeared to be metallic canisters strapped to his front and back.

James Jay Lee is shown in a February 2008 photograph protesting outside the headquarters of the Discovery Channel in Maryland. Today he was shot after taking hostages in the same building.

An unidentified woman runs past police cars as the hostage crisis unfolds. It is not clear if she was an employee in the building, a hostage, or working with police  

Police have not yet confirmed if he was carrying a bomb. Three bomb technicians were rushed to the scene in Silver Springs, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, DC.Most of the 1,900 people who work in the building were able to escape safely.  

Children were also rushed to safety from the company's daycare facility, including four cribs full of babies. They were reunited with their frantic parents in a nearby McDonald's.

Earlier, police said they were negotiating with Lee and watching him on CCTV. It is not yet clear what he wanted - but it is believed that he became enraged after Discovery rejected his ideas for a television show.

Police in bullet-proof vests cautiously approach the Discovery Channel HQ during the stand-off on Wednesday afternoon

Armoured police walk surround the building during the stand-off. The FBI and ATF were also involved.

'Only we, the people, can demand change. Only we can demand from the world that they start making positive changes starting with Discovery Channel's programming.

'If there is ANY network whose responsibility it is to save the planet, it's the Discovery Channel.'

A website registered under the name of James Lee contained demands that Discovery air programming urging people to stop having babies.He said that was leading to the overpopulation of the planet.

'Civilization must be exposed for the filth it is,' says the site, http://savetheplanetprotest.com.  

'Saving the Planet means saving what's left of the non-human Wildlife by decreasing the Human population. That means stopping the human race from breeding any more disgusting human babies!' it says.

'Vibrant': A grab of Lee's MySpace page today in which he said it was time for revolution - adding that the idea to save the planet was here. He had not updated the page since 2008, three weeks before he was arrested for throwing cash into the air outside the same Discovery Channel building.

In another image from Lee's MySpace page, he warns he is 'ready to do something'

The channel's parent company, Discovery Communications, operates several other cable networks in the U.S. including TLC and Animal Planet.Discovery shows include 'Cash Cab' and 'Man vs. Wild,' and TLC airs 'American Chopper' and "Kate Plus Eight'.Animal Planet also airs the controversial series 'Whale Wars,' about attempts by environmentalists to disrupt the Japanese whaling industry.

It is not the first time Lee has run into trouble with the Discovery Channel.

He was arrested outside the building in 2008 after a protest there in which he threw thousands of dollars in the air.

Lee said he planned the protest because Discovery's programming had little to do with saving the planet.

He was identified then as being from San Diego, California, although he gave a local address of a homeless shelter.

At the trial, he said he began working to save the planet after being laid off from his job in San Diego.

He said he was inspired by 'Ishmael', a novel by environmentalist Daniel Quinn and by former Vice President Al Gore's documentary 'An Inconvenient Truth'.

Adam Dolan, a sales director in Discovery's education division, told The Associated Press that he was heading to lunch with a co-worker when he heard about the gunman.

He was told to go back up to the top floor, lock the door and turn off the lights. 

Eventually the workers were herded down a stairwell and told to go home.