Alleged Discovery Gunman Had Extremist Background

By Kriston Capps
|  Thursday, Sep 2, 2010  |  Updated 1:22 PM EDT
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<a title=Darcy Spencer reports some of the activities that led up to James Lee's standoff at the Discovery Channel headquarters." />

Darcy Spencer reports some of the activities that led up to James Lee's standoff at the Discovery Channel headquarters.

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NBC News has confirmed that the alleged gunman who invaded the Discovery Building in Silver Spring, Md., was James Jay Lee, a man with a history of environmental extremism targeting the Discovery Channel.

In 2008, Lee was arrested for littering and disorderly conduct at the Discovery headquarters. He advertised his campaign online and in publications, including the Washington Post Express, and hired homeless people to increase the numbers of people at his protest, according to a DCist report at the time.

Lee, 43, organized the 2008 protest to decry what he perceives to be irresponsible editorial and environmental attitudes at Discovery. He intended for the protest to stand from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. the week of Febrary 15-23, 2008. He was arrested by Montgomery County Police on February 21, 2008.

Video taken by a Youtube user that day reveals an individual throwing money to gleeful crowds in Silver Spring. That individual in the video may be Lee -- who was arrested that day in Silver Spring for littering and disorderly conduct after he threw thousands of dollars to people. ABC 7 News released video of Lee's arrest after police determined that he was creating an unsafe environment. He served a 10-day sentence.

Following his arrest, Lee was identified as hailing from San Diego, Calif., though he provided a local homeless shelter's address as his own. Later, during his trial, he said that he began his environmental campaign after losing his job in San Diego.

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."

On a forum said to be maintained by Lee in 2008, an individual allegedly posting as Lee writes at length about his plans for the protest. The forum poster allegedly posting as Lee focuses singlemindedly on the Discovery network and its headquarters. On January 25, 2008, the forum poster wrote, "[I]f it wasn't for Discovery, maybe the Silver Spring area would have less 'development' where the whole area grows into a city at the expense of other creatures."

Posts on a MySpace page that may have been maintained by Lee discussed environmentalism and secretive plans for action as early as 2006.

As his website read in 2008, Lee endorsed the views of Turner Tomorrow Fellowship Award-winning author Daniel Quinn. Quinn's 1998 novel, "My Ishmael," which follows a psychic gorilla named Ishmael who relates his philosophy on society to a young girl. The novel inspired controversy over its claims about population growth and global food supply -- claims endorsed by Lee.

A website maintained by Lee in 2008 that advertised his protest plans listed a phone number associated with the Friends of Ishmael -- an activist network for adherents of Quinn's ideas. Quinn has no relationship with the organization.

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