The suspect is being described as an Asian male.
According to an official with Montgomery County Police Department, the man has some sort of explosive device and is holding at least one person hostage in the lobby of the building. Employees have been evacuated, and so far, there are no reports of injuries.
UPDATE: Some media outlets are identifying the gunman as James Jay Lee, who has had issues with the cable network for years over its programming on various global issues:
A note posted online July 18 issues a list of demands to the Discovery Channel, saying the station "MUST broadcast to the world their commitment to save the planet." It lists 11 demands about airing shows that would promote curbing the plant's population growth, finding solutions for global warming and dismantling "the dangerous US world economy."In 2008, Lee was arrested for disorderly conduct after a lengthy protest outside the company's headquarters. Lee was upset by what he perceived as a "pro-capitalist, anti-environmental agenda" in Discovery's shows. More here: James Jay Lee: Discovery Channel Alleged Hostage-Taker.
"All programs on Discovery Health-TLC must stop encouraging the birth of any more parasitic human infants and the false heroics behind those actions," it reads. "In those programs' places, programs encouraging human sterilization and infertility must be pushed. All former pro-birth programs must now push in the direction of stopping human birth, not encouraging it."
The manifesto was published on savetheplanetprotest.com. The site is registered to James Lee, who gave a post office box in Canada as his address. There is no confirmation from authorities that the Web site has anything to do with the current situation at Discovery.
UPDATE: Federal law enforcement sources have confirmed the suspect is James Jay Lee. Police say he's holding a "small number of hostages." The building, as well as surrounding businesses and schools, have been evacuated.
UPDATE: Montgomery County Police officials have described suspected gunman James Jay Lee as "an Asian male wearing vest with what appeared to be two pipebombs and two canisters strapped to it." He was also seen waving a gun. Negotiations have been going on for an hour.
They're referring to him as an "environmental activist": Environmental Militant Takes Hostages at Discovery Channel Headquarters.
UPDATE: Reports are coming in that police have shot James Jay Lee. No information on his condition yet, but he is currently in custody. All of the hostages are safe and accounted for: Official: Discovery Channel suspect shot, hostages safe.
UPDATE: James Jay Lee was shot and killed by police. At least one explosive device went off when he was shot, and other explosive devices could still be in the building, but the three hostages are safe: Police kill Discovery building gunman.
UPDATE: I'm glad this situation was resolved without any innocent hostages getting hurt. Now, the news cycle turns to figuring it all out -- who the hell James J. Lee, and what drove him to such deadly actions?
Most reports are painting Lee as some sort of environmental militant hell bent on saving the earth, who took serious issue with Discovery Channel's programming. Too many shows about sharks and babies, apparently.
While damning pundits try to attribute, affiliate and/or blame Lee with one political viewpoint or another, there are those who will inevitably make some kind of Asian connection between him and Virginia Tech shooter Seung-hui Cho. It's just too easy, and it's happened before.
I'll be honest. When I started hearing news of an Asian shooter this morning, my first thought was "Dammit, not again." Because from here on out, he's not just some crazy guy on the news, he's the Asian Guy who took the Discovery Channel building hostage.
But dude, the Discovery Channel? Really? I can think of a dozen other networks whose dumbass programming is working overtime to destroy the earth.