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File:Discovery Communications headquarters.jpg

Discovery Communications headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland.

The 2010 Discovery Communications headquarters hostage crisis occurred on September 1, 2010. It began at 1 PM Eastern Standard Time, when 43-year-old James Jay Lee entered the Discovery Communications headquarters building in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, with a handgun and fired at least one shot.[1][2] The Montgomery County Police Department confirmed that Lee had an explosive device and was holding a small number of people hostage in the lobby.[1][3] The building was placed on lockdown and most of the 1,900 employees were evacuated.[3] Children from a day care center inside were safely removed to a nearby restaurant.[1] The police began to communicate with Lee soon after the incident began.[1] The Montgomery County police chief, J. Thomas Manger, said that the police were "trying to get him to release the hostages and surrender peacefully".[3]

Lee was shot by policemen at 4:48 pm.[4] The remaining hostages were immediately freed.[5]


James Jay Lee (1967 – September 1, 2010) was born to a Korean-American father and a Japanese mother, in LA and raised in Hawaii,[6] was an environmental protester who, in 2008, was given six months of supervised probation and fined $500 after he was arrested during a protest outside the Discovery Communications headquarters. He published criticisms of the network in an online manifesto at[2] among which was a demand for the company to cease the broadcasting of television series displaying or encouraging the birth of "parasitic human infants and the false heroics behind those actions".[7]

His manifesto also railed against "immigration pollution and anchor baby filth", leading commentators such as Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center to decry Lee as an "eco-fascist".[8]

Lee was inspired in his opinions by the works of Daniel Quinn and former US Vice President Al Gore's documentary An Inconvenient Truth[9].


The Washington Post credits the Twitter community for initially breaking this story.[10] Around the start of the incident, Twitter users were posting information and photos, and it was these posts that set the mainstream media in motion.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Armed Man With Bomb Takes at Least One Hostage in Discovery Channel Building". Fox. September 1, 2010. Retrieved September 1, 2010. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Suspect in Maryland hostage situation published angry online manifesto". CNN. September 1, 2010. Retrieved September 1, 2010. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Robbins, Liz; Stelter, Brian (September 1, 2010). "Gunman Takes Hostage in Maryland". The New York Times. Retrieved September 1, 2010. 
  4. Morse, Dan (September 1, 2010). "Environmental militant slain at Silver Spring building after taking hostages". Washington Post. Retrieved September 1, 2010. 
  5. "Hostages Safe as Police Shoot Maryland Gunman". The New York Times. 1 September 2010. Retrieved 1 September 2010. 
  6. "[An interview with the gunman's family : the Gunman was born to a Korean-American father and a Japanese mother]" (in Korean). American Joongang Ilbo. September 2, 2010.  (Translation)
  7. Theresa Vargas (September 1, 2010; 3:54 PM). "James J. Lee is suspect in Discovery hostage case, officials say". Washington Post. 
  8. Mark Potok (September 1, 2010). "Apparent Eco-Terrorist Holding Hostages at TV Building". Hatewatch (blog), Southern Poverty Law Center. 
  10. Paul Farhi (September 1, 2010). "Twitter breaks story on Discovery Channel gunman". Washington Post. 

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