Discovery Standoff a Life-Changing Experience for Hostages

Hostages escaped as negotiations appeared to break down

Two men held hostage for almost four hours by an armed man at the Discovery channel headquarters in Silver Spring, Md., earlier this month said they'll never look at their lives the same way.

"I've never appreciated the sunrise so much than I have in the last two weeks," 25-year-old strategic marketing analyst Christopher Wood told News4's Pat Collins.

"I knew I was very blessed, very fortunate," said 36-year-old Jim McNulty, a senior writer for TLC. "I had a good job, a beautiful wife who loves me, two wonderful children, but I think I took that for granted, and since that moment, I have not taken anything for granted."

Entering the lobby of the building, McNulty's first impression upon seeing a man with a gun was what kind of production were they shooting in the lobby? Then the gun was pointed at him, and gunman James Jae Lee ordered him down on the floor.

A short time later, Wood entered the lobby and saw McNulty on the ground. Lee ordered Wood to get down as well.

Lee had rigged himself like a human bomb. A lengthy posting on a website registered to Lee said Discovery and its affiliates should stop "encouraging the birth of any more parasitic human infants," the Associated Press reported. On his site and in court papers, he demanded an end to shows such as TLC's "Kate Plus 8" and "19 Kids and Counting."

"Do you have kids?" Lee asked McNulty.

"Yes, I have two," McNulty replied.

"Who the ---- told you to have kids?"

"No one, sir."

Lee continued along that line.

"No one! You just went and did it. What? No one loved you? You had to make someone to love. Why did you have two, one wasn't good enough? What's so good about your filthy children?"

"And I looked him in the eye and said, 'They're very kind, sir,'" McNulty told Collins.

Wood and McNulty, who were being held along with a security guard, are convinced Lee was not afraid to die and wouldn't have hesitated to take them with him. Lee was saying things like "I'll blow us all up" and "Today's a good day to die."

"It was pretty obvious that he was there to die either at his hands or the police's," McNulty said.

"I thought this was the end, this was how I was going to die," Wood said. "I was very upset. I had not given up at that point but I didn't see any other option. When I got to that point of not having another option I became angry and mad and upset that this individual was taking away from me what was not his to take."

When it appeared negotiations were breaking down, the hostages made their move. Wood saw the security guard making hand motions that he couldn't quite decipher. Finally, Wood just mouthed "run" to the guard and the guard nodded.

McNulty got the same message and then Wood counted down from three with his fingers. After putting down one finger, Wood got nervous with Lee looking at him, so he put it back out. Then he started the countdown again.

When no fingers were left, Wood bolted for the door through which he'd entered. McNulty first hid behind a pillar, then followed Wood out the door.

Outside, police instructed McNulty and Wood to get back on the ground. They were handcuffed until police could determine they were the victims.

"I had never been in cuffs before and I didn't mind one bit," McNulty said. "I knew I was safe. I knew I was out of there."

All three hostages made it out of the building unhurt. Gunman James Jae Lee was shot dead by police.

"The more I think about it, just the idea that my children could have lost their dad that day really makes me pause, because they are the most important thing in my life, and I can't even imagine that," McNulty said. "And thank God I don't have to."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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