- Associated Press - Thursday, September 2, 2010

SILVER SPRING, MD. (AP) - A gunman police shot to death after he took hostages at Discovery Channel’s headquarters said he hated the company’s shows such as “Kate Plus 8” because they promote population growth and its environmental programming because it did little to save the planet.

Three hostages _ two Discovery Communications employees and a security guard _ escaped unhurt after the four-hour standoff Wednesday in Silver Spring, just outside the nation’s capital. After several hours negotiating with the gunman, tactical officers moved in when authorities monitoring him on building security cameras saw him pull out a handgun and point it at a hostage, Montgomery County Police Chief Thomas Manger said.

Capt. Paul Starks, a county police spokesman, identified James J. Lee on Thursday as the suspect.

Manger said and officer shot and killed Lee after hostages began moving and police heard a “pop” they believed to be either a gunshot or an explosive device detonating.

Lee repeatedly said he was “ready to die,” according to Manger.

It wasn’t the first time Lee, a homeless former Californian, had targeted Discovery’s headquarters. In February 2008, he was charged with disorderly conduct for staging a “Save the Planet Protest.” In court and online, he had demanded an end to Discovery Communications LLC’s shows such as TLC’s “Kate Plus 8” and “19 Kids and Counting.”

Instead, he said, the network should air “programs encouraging human sterilization and infertility.”

“Humans are the most destructive, filthy, pollutive creatures around and are wrecking what’s left of the planet with their false morals and breeding cultures,” Lee wrote in a bitter manifesto on his website.

Lee, 43, also objected to Discovery’s environmental programming. He wrote in 2008 that a show he called “Planet Green” was “about more PRODUCTS to make MONEY, not actual solutions.”

Police say the gunman burst into the building about 1 p.m. and took hostages in the lobby on the first floor. A gun wasn’t his only weapon, as an explosive device on his body detonated when police shot him, Manger said. Authorities later sent in a robot to disarm a device on the gunman’s body.

Manger told CBS News on Thursday that the hostages were very courageous. He said the gunman “repeatedly said that he was ready to die.” Manger said the hostages “had to be terrified.”

Starks said Thursday that the gunman had four crude explosive devices strapped to him. He described two of them as green propane cylinders with pipes attached that contained shotgun shells. The other two were pipe bombs. He said Lee also had what appeared to be a remote radio frequency or a remote switch with an antenna on it. Starks said that had officers concerned that Lee could use remote control to set off bombs. Police also discovered batteries, two handguns and two ski masks at the scene.

The building was to reopen briefly Thursday for employees to return, although the lobby remained closed as police investigate. Counselors were offering assistance to Discovery Channel employees, said Catherine Frymark a company spokeswoman.

NBC News reported that after its producers called Discovery’s general number, a man identifying himself as Lee got on the phone and said he had a gun and several bombs.

“I have several bombs strapped to my body ready to go off. I have a device that if I drop it, if I drop it, it will … explode,” the man told NBC.

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