Police: Discovery gunman shot; 3 hostages safe

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SILVER SPRING, MD. (AP) - Police say the gunman who took three people hostage at the Discovery Channel network’s programming has died after they shot him.

All three hostages escaped safely.

Police spent several hours negotiating with him after he burst into the suburban Washington building about 1 p.m. waving a handgun and with canisters strapped to his body.

Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger says an explosive device may have detonated, and the suspect may have brought other devices into the building. He said as far as he knows, the 1,900 people who work in the building were able to get out safely.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) _ Police shot a man upset with the Discovery Channel network’s programming who took three people hostage at the company’s headquarters Wednesday, officials said. All three hostages escaped safely.

Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger said he did not know whether police killed the gunman, who was upset about the network’s programming. Police spent several hours negotiating with him after he burst into the suburban Washington building about 1 p.m. waving a handgun and with canisters strapped to his body.

Manger said an explosive device may have detonated, and the suspect may have brought other devices into the building. He said as far as he knows, the 1,900 people who work in the building were able to get out safely.

A law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing said authorities had identified James J. Lee as the likely suspect.

A different official, who spoke on condition of anonymity for the same reason, said Lee previously protested outside the building, where he was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct in February 2008, according to court records.

Police reports indicate he paid homeless people to join his protest and carry signs outside the building. He gave one individual $1,000 for what he considered a prize winning essay.

At one point, a crowd of more than 100 people gathered around Lee, 43, who referred to money as “just trash” and began throwing fistfuls of it into the air.

At the trial, The Gazette of Montgomery County reported, 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.”

A lengthy posting which could be seen Wednesday on a website registered to Lee expressed anger against the Discovery Channel and said it promoted overpopulation.

He said it and its affiliates should stop “encouraging the birth of any more parasitic human infants.” Instead, he said, the network should air “programs encouraging human sterilization and infertility.”

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