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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Man Takes Hostages in Discovery Channel Building Headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland
Aired September 1, 2010 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: My colleague Rick Sanchez is going to take over the coverage from this point in.
And, Rick, we are -- we are -- we have got sort of a collection of details. I know you are going to bring our viewers up to speed on it. But what we -- what we do know now is that they -- they have got contact with this -- this hostage-taker. They still think he may have -- there's a possibility that he may have explosives on him.
They apparently have visual contact with him. They have some kind of contact with him that they're -- where they're speaking to him. And we do not know that everybody is out of that building. We know a stretcher went in. We don't know why.
Rick, more questions and answers on this one at the moment.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Where is this guy, Ali?
VELSHI: We -- we know he's in the building. We don't -- we don't know where he is.
SANCHEZ: Just we -- we -- no one's been able to pinpoint his location?
VELSHI: Well, I think they --
VELSHI: Police know where he is. They know where he is because they are watching him on closed-circuit television.
SANCHEZ: I heard someone say that he was somewhere near a window at one point.
VELSHI: Well, the -- the -- there were reports out from the police that he was in the lobby. The lobby is a windowed area. It's the bottom right corner of the building that you can see on the screen. It's shadowed to us.
VELSHI: We can't see it, but that's a windowed area. That's the entrance -- entrance. That's what we -- that's what somebody initially said, law enforcement originally said. But what we now understand is that they can see him using closed-circuit TV, as opposed to just a visual through the lobby, because that -- that did strike me as unusual. That would be unusual, for a gunman to be right there in a windowed area.
SANCHEZ: Well, you know what's interesting about this, Ali, is the -- you know, from all my experiences working with police officers in situations like this, being a cop beat reporter for many years, and also some of the sources that I have checked with so far, as we have been following this, they say the first thing you have got to do in a situation like this is isolate.
SANCHEZ: Number two is contain and then number three is negotiate.
The reason I ask you those questions is because it sounds like they have been able to isolate this guy. The process of containment is obviously ongoing, since we don't know exactly how many other people are in the building, where they might be, whether there might be some people still, you know, for all we know, hiding under their desks there.
And the negotiation process sounds like it's really just in its infancy here, right?
VELSHI: Yes. But according to Aaron Cohen, who's on -- and he's trained SWAT teams, Rick -- the fact that there is a negotiation, that's more than we knew 45 minutes ago. And that at least shows us some hope.
That there is a conversation going on means that there might be something that can be done to get this guy to put his arms down or not do whatever he was intending to do, and walk out of there with no loss of life to anybody.
SANCHEZ: All right, Ali.
Hey, you know what? We got Brianna Keilar. She is standing by now. And I want to -- I want to see if she has got some information, because, you know, folks, there have been some reports as -- by the way, let me just catch you up as we go to Brianna.
Those are you who are now joining us, it's the top of the hour, and it appears we have got a very serious situation that's taking place right now in Montgomery County, Maryland. These are the shots that you're going to be seeing from time to time.
We're going to show you one angle, then another angle. We're obviously going to be very careful not to use pictures that could in any way affect the investigation that police are conducting here.
But what they have on their hands is a man who apparently has a weapon and, more importantly, may have some type of explosive device, either in the form of a package, as was described by the police chief, Scott Graham, just moments ago, Montgomery County's Chief Scott Graham, who was talking to Ali, or as another officer who was discussing this situation earlier on and gave a news conference seemed to intimate, the possibility that he may have some kind of explosive that is a part of his body somehow, and either tied to his body or something of the sort.
So, we're working our way through this. Obviously, it's very tenuous at this point.
Let me bring in Brianna Keilar, because she has information on what police are doing about some of the other people in the area, including maybe schoolchildren in this community.
What do you know, Brianna?
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rick, actually, one of the concerns we heard from some employees, there was a day care in the building
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you able to get that picture of the bomb truck to Atlanta? I'm on hold with the control room.
SANCHEZ: We have got -- sorry about that, guys. Obviously, we're going to do --
SANCHEZ: We have got somebody else on the air who's talking to us as Brianna is talking to us. And that's just part of our own housekeeping here. We have got so many people working this story that from time to time you might hear some different voices.
But, Brianna, go ahead. Give it a go again, if you would.
KEILAR: Well, what we have learned from a Discovery spokesperson is that the kids in the day care had been moved. They have been evacuated to a nearby McDonald's.
I'm actually staring at it. I'm just across the street from it. I can't see what's going on inside. But we understand from this spokesperson that, because of the chaos of the evacuation that, obviously, parents who worked in the building had to get out and weren't able to unite with their children in the building, that this was serving as a point for at least one parent to be able to unite with their kids. So, obviously, that's very good news.
SANCHEZ: Let me -- let me -- let me just -- because -- because so many things are happening at once and there's so much new information coming in on this story, and for those of you just watching us now, you will see the pictures change from time to time. I will bring to your attention exactly what those shots represent as we go.
But Brianna Keilar is joining us now on the phone and she's taking us through a very important part of this story that we have all been wanting to try and nail down. And Brianna being the correspondent that she is has already worked on some of these details.
So, it sounds like the kids, just for starters here, are safe, right? They're away from this gunman?
KEILAR: Yes, that's exactly right. And having spoken with some other Discovery employees, they believe that everyone has been evacuated, except for security and maybe some administrative people.
KEILAR: We are standing about a block away from the Discovery building. And there were a number of employees who were unable to get to their cars. And, right now, from what it sounds like, their cars are inside the perimeter.
So, they kind of just had to be out on the outskirts of this perimeter along with us. They said it was pretty chaotic when they had to leave the building.
SANCHEZ: I can only -- as far as you know, Brianna, because you're close to it, and you have probably spoken to some of the people who may have been in the building at the time, is -- is -- are most people out of the building? Are all of the people out of the building? Are half the people out of the building? How would you -- how would you characterize this?
KEILAR: What we have heard from employees is that most -- they believe most people are out of the building --
KEILAR: -- that there are some people remaining for security and possibly some administrative staff.
SANCHEZ: Well, that's an interesting question.
SANCHEZ: Let me bring Paul Courson into this, because now I'm curious.
If -- if -- if the man is, as suspected by some, still in the lobby area of the building, how were they able to get everybody out of the building with then -- without them at some point confronting this man? Did they use a back exit of some -- of some form?
Paul Courson, CNN producer, standing by for us as well.
Paul, do you know the answer to that question?
Michelle Forman is standing by as well, Michelle also following this story.
Do we have Michelle?
MICHELLE FORMAN, SENIOR MEDIA SPECIALIST, ASSOCIATION OF PUBLIC HEALTH LABORATORIES: Yes, I'm here.
SANCHEZ: Hey, Michelle, do you know how they were able to evacuate the building? I'm just wondering, because, if the guy is still in the building, and if he's in an adjacent area to the lobby, you would think that there may have been some kind of confrontation. But as far -- as far as we know, there wasn't, right?
FORMAN: I -- I don't -- I don't know how specifically how they were able to evacuate the building.
However, I know the -- the layout of the area and the layout of the building a bit. The -- the lobby where the -- the gunman allegedly is, is sort of on the very opposite corner of that McDonald's that was just referenced.
FORMAN: So, I -- I would suspect that they were able to evacuate from the opposite end of the building.
SANCHEZ: Michelle, hold on.
SANCHEZ: Michelle -- Michelle, hold on just a minute. We have got somebody in fact who was in the building and was evacuated. I'm going to come back to you. And I understand we have got Tom Fuentes standing by as well. You know, Tom, former deputy FBI, has a lot of experience with this.
And there we see one of the vehicles that is often used by SWAT teams as they come into these negotiation procedures. They will obviously -- or SRTs, special response units, as they're called, special response teams. Usually, every metropolitan area has one of these. They're highly trained police officers, selected from their staffs, handpicked to represent the department in situations like this.
Julienne Gage is standing by with us now.
And, Julienne, I understand that you were inside the building at the time it was evacuated. Could you please take our viewers through this?
JULIENNE GAGE, EVACUATED FROM DISCOVERY HEADQUARTERS: Sure.
Well, in -- from my experience, what happened was, I was in the -- there's two buildings connected to each other. I was in the back building. I came out the elevator to go out the lobby for lunch and was told to quickly go back upstairs because there was an incident.
SANCHEZ: So, you -- that's interesting --
SANCHEZ: -- because you just answered the question that I was -- my own curiosity. After learning that this guy was in the lobby, I was wondering, how did the employees get out without going by or confronting this guy?
SANCHEZ: You say you were told to avoid the lobby?
GAGE: Yes, of course. We were told to go straight back upstairs.
And -- and then, when they realized that this was going to continue, they had us get into some closed offices with -- and lock the doors. So, we were all kind of camped out on the floor in different offices.
The way we evacuated actually was that there was a back staircase, and we went through that.
SANCHEZ: There is a back staircase. I'm so glad you were able to --
GAGE: Yes. There's more than one entrance. But, mostly, people come through the lobby to get in.
SANCHEZ: No, right. That -- that makes a lot of sense.
I'm just wondering, when you were told that you had to go to your offices and kind of hunker down, that must have been a heck of a feeling for you. What was going on through your head?
GAGE: Yes. I mean, at the beginning, it was -- we saw right away that there were a lot of police officers out there and they had their guns ready. So, there was a real sense that this might get taken care of pretty quickly.
So, the first time we were put in there, it felt more like a precaution.
GAGE: But then, as another 20 minutes went by and voices started coming down the hall telling us to get out and go up to upper floors and get into offices up there, that was when I think a lot of us really started getting shaky and nervous, because there's a realization that somebody could potentially, you know, go through, although it's a very safe building. There's good security. There are cameras everywhere.
But it was more the sense of vulnerability when we realized that somebody potentially be coming up on our floor.
SANCHEZ: I'm wonder -- I'm wondering how you communicate with all employees in a building of this size. Is there an intercom system?
SANCHEZ: How were they able to organize this exist, this mass exit?
GAGE: There was an intercom system. So, at the very beginning, they did make an announcement and did say there was an incident, a security incident in the lobby, and that, please, everybody stay upstairs and -- and get to a safe place.
SANCHEZ: So --
GAGE: And, so, after that, it was just some employees -- I'm not sure what authority role they had, but some people took the initiative and were going down the halls and just kind of escorting people and telling them what to do.
Everybody was really calm, I would say, in terms of their attitude. Nobody was running. They weren't screaming. People tried to keep quiet.
GAGE: So, I think it was -- it was pretty orderly in terms of how people reacted and how the people that were escorting handled it.
SANCHEZ: I'm -- I -- I have to ask you, because I heard the police chief say moments ago that there may have been shots fired, but it's unconfirmed, did you hear any shots fired? What did you hear?
GAGE: I did not. I heard rumors of shots fired. But I think I probably had gotten down there within about five minutes of this happening. I never heard any shots.
But I did hear right away that two people were down on the floor, and, you know, there -- and some people said that some -- some shots had been fired. I don't know if that happened right away or if that happened later.
GAGE: But, you know, one of the biggest concerns is the security guard that works down there and the receptionist. We all know them very well and just really adore them. And we're just really -- everybody was really concerned about them, because they would have been the first people --
SANCHEZ: Did -- did --
GAGE: -- in the line of fire.
SANCHEZ: Hey, Julienne -- Julienne, did you see the suspect?
GAGE: I did not, no. I never got close enough to the lobby. I just got down to that main floor, but didn't get to the lobby.
SANCHEZ: Do you know who the suspect is?
GAGE: I do not.
SANCHEZ: Do you have any idea if there's still someone in that building, one of your co-workers or -- or perhaps someone in some other office? Given the way you explained the evacuation, is there a chance that someone was missed?
GAGE: I think it would be pretty unlikely.
We were all -- there was a mass of us that came out. And I think that there were voices and people could hear no matter where they were. They went down the halls and said, you know, please come out now. And people started, you know, moving.
So, I would doubt that anybody's still trapped in there.
Julienne, thanks so much for taking us through this story.
And, as we understand it, by the way, I'm going to -- I'm going to ask you one more question, just -- just to check your notes with our notes as we move forward here on what is a still developing story. It's a breaking news story taking place in Montgomery County, just outside of the D.C. area. It's a very suburban area, but highly populated. This is the Discovery Channel building.
And we're -- we're trying to get a sense as we move forward here as to whether or not this man actually is as big a threat as police perceive.
Were you told, Julienne, that this man has some kind of explosive on him?
GAGE: I did hear that. I have been trying to get over to the public information officer. It's taken me a long time to get around the building because the entire downtown area is blocked off. But I was told by a fireman that he did appear to have explosives on his body.
My thanks to you for being so good about taking us through this story. I know it's been a difficult day for you. And we thank you for catching all our CNN viewers up on this information.
We have got Paul Courson, Michelle Forman, and Tom Fuentes standing by. We also have Brianna Keilar. And I think we can now confirm what the suspect looks like. Let's do it. At this hour, exactly 13 minutes after the hour of 3:00, CNN can go with this now.
This is, according to police, James Lee. This is the suspect that we are talking about. And there has been, again, some intimation that James Lee has some kind of qualms with the Discovery Channel itself or this building or its bosses there.
We -- we don't know, frankly, what the specifics are of his beef. But we understand that he did have some kind of beef.
As we move forward, let me bring in some of our correspondents and some of our producers who have been working this story, because I -- you know, I -- I raised that question as to what was his motive.
And Michelle Forman, Paul Courson, either one of you who have been working this story, what do you know? What can you add for our viewers?
FORMAN: No, I'm -- this is Michelle. I'm -- I'm -- I don't know much about the -- about the -- the suspect. I don't -- we -- we received an e-mail that had what was thought to be his list of demands, although it was unconfirmed.
FORMAN: The demands seemed to indicate that -- you know, that this was something, you know, personal against the Discovery Channel. It was not a coincidence that he ran into this building. But -- but, otherwise, I don't know much about this person.
SANCHEZ: Tom Fuentes is joining us now as well. Tom, as you know, is a CNN analyst for us, usually deals with situations like this, has many years of experience with the FBI.
Tom, just in broad terms, what's your take on what's going on here right now?
TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think, Rick, from what I have heard, it sounds like he does have a complaint against the Discovery network for some reason.
You don't know if maybe he applied for a job and was rejected or maybe --
SANCHEZ: Oh. Hey, Tom -- Tom, let me --
FUENTES: -- complaint about --
SANCHEZ: Tom, I'm going to stop you for just a moment because the police are about to talk to us. (JOINED IN PROGRESS)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- Montgomery County Police Department. With me is Chief Richard Bowers from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service.
At 1:00 p.m. today, a man entered the Discovery building through the main entrance at Wayne and Georgia. He came in. He was wearing what appeared to be metallic canister devices on his -- on his front and back.
He also pulled a handgun out and was waving a handgun. We originally had a report that there was a shot fired. We have not confirmed that that, in fact, is the case.
The -- the man told everyone to just stay still. And he has remained in the -- in -- on the first floor area of the Discovery building, and that's where he is at this point.
We have an ongoing hostage situation that we're dealing with. There are approximately just under 1,900 employees that work in that building. We believe that most of them are out. We still have not confirmed that there may be a few employees still on the upper floors.
But, right now, we have an unconfirmed number of hostages, small number of hostages that are with the suspect at this point. We are in negotiations with him currently. And those negotiations are ongoing. We -- we have the same reports that you do about the identity of the individual.
I can tell you right now, I cannot confirm his identity. We're not going to be able to confirm his identity until we get a chance to -- to speak with him face to face.
QUESTION: Is he engaging with the police?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The --
QUESTION: Is he engaging with the police?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're -- we're, at the -- this point, still negotiating with him, trying to get him to release the hostages and -- and surrender peacefully.
At this point, the negotiations have been going on for nearly an hour, and we will -- we will continue that for as long as -- as long as we can.
QUESTION: Has he made any demands?
QUESTION: What does he want?
QUESTION: What does he want? FORMAN: All right. The -- there is a day care facility on the first floor of the Discovery building. As far as we can determine, every -- all the children were safely evacuated and we believe have been reunited with their parents.
We have no reports of any injuries at this point. We have no reports of -- of any of the children not accounted for.
And -- but, again, we have not been able to get into some areas where the -- nearby the suspect, so we don't know if there's anyone down there that we're -- that we're unaware of.
QUESTION: Chief, is he making claims about what's in the canisters?
QUESTION: What about the reports that --
QUESTION: -- on the ground?
QUESTION: Is he making claims about what's in those metallic devices?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm -- I can't talk about any of that right now. We -- to my knowledge, we're -- we're assuming and we're going on the assumption that they could be explosive devices. That's the only way we can proceed.
QUESTION: Chief, what --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry.
QUESTION: But what does he want?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to talk about the -- the -- the nature of the negotiations.
QUESTION: A Discovery employee described to me a vest with what looked to be two pipe bombs and canisters. Is that consistent with what you're seeing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's -- that's consistent with what we have seen.
QUESTION: My follow-up question is that there have been eyewitness reports of four people on the ground in the lobby. Is that correct?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't confirm the number of hostages. QUESTION: So, you're saying that some of the -- are you saying some of the hostages are injured?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did not say that. There's no confirmed -- I have not confirmed any injuries.
QUESTION: So, what about the people -- what about these reports that people are lying on the ground? Is that just incorrect eyewitness testimony?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I -- I can't confirm if they're injured or if they're standing up or lying down. I mean, they're -- but they're in -- in the same room as our suspect.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't know. We don't know.
QUESTION: Can you talk about the identity of the --
QUESTION: -- hostages?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't have the -- I don't have -- I don't have their identities.
QUESTION: Are they part of security --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I -- I haven't confirmed that either.
QUESTION: He's concerned about programs that they run, or --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I -- I'm not going to discuss the nature of -- of our discussions with him at this point.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to -- the police chief needs to go back for tactical operations right now. We're going to go back to the command post.
Thank you all very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
QUESTION: So, there's definitely more than one hostage?
QUESTION: Yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. It's 3:20. About another half-hour or so, we will come back. I will try to be here whether there's anything to say or not, and we will let you know about -- SANCHEZ: You hear reporters there trying to work every -- every -- squeeze every piece of information that they can from the police officers.
But, obviously, for those of you who heard it for yourselves or for those of you who are coming in late, there's a good news/bad news scenario here.
I'm Rick Sanchez. It's now 20 minutes after the hour of 3:00, and we're working this developing and tenuous story in Montgomery County, just outside of Washington, D.C. Police now confirm the man seemed to be waving a handgun. They also confirm that he has some kind of metallic device.
They didn't -- they weren't specific as to whether the metallic device is tied to his body or whether he's holding it. They did say that they're going on the assumption that this metallic device is some form of explosive. He appears to be making some kind of threats.
They are beginning to communicate with him. And here's the worst part of this story. There are other people there with him. They are being considered hostages. Police described them as a small number of people. Nonetheless, police are dealing with this as a very volatile hostage situation inside the Discovery building there in Montgomery County.
Brianna Keilar joining us once again.
Brianna, you were updating us earlier about those children that were in this day care that happens to be on the same floor where this is all taking place. I can only imagine how concerned many of their parents who work in the area must have been.
KEILAR: No, that's exactly right, Rick.
And what we heard the police chief of Montgomery County say there was that they believe that all children have been evacuated. And I'm actually sitting across the street from a McDonald's where a Discovery spokesperson told us the children had been evacuated, so that they could be reunited with their parents.
But the police chief there is saying there were no reports of any injuries. But the issue is this, Rick. Because the -- the suspect is in a certain area there of the first floor, there are certain parts of the building that police have not been able to get into.
That's where there remains a question about whether evacuations are complete, if perhaps there are some employees who may still be inside. So, at this point, they are continuing to talk, have negotiations with the suspect. And they believe evacuations are pretty much complete. But they can't be certain, because, again, they -- they are certainly restricted from the area where the suspect is.
Tom Fuentes standing by. And, by the way, Josh Levs is going to be joining us here in just a moment. I'm interested in Josh giving us a sense of where this area is and what other parts of this community are affected and what police are doing to contain this situation.
But let's go to Tom and use his FBI experience to try and get a handle on what's going on here right now.
Tom, they say they have every reason to believe that this man has explosives on him. The man has made threats. They're apparently trying to talk him out of whatever it is he's threatening to do.
Where are we now? As an -- as an experienced FBI guy, where are we now in this investigation? Take us through it.
FUENTES: Well, I think the key thing that was just mentioned by the police spokesperson is that they have been negotiating with this person, in discussions with him for more than an hour.
That's a key factor. That means that, during this past hour, the negotiators would be trying to calm him down emotionally, to try to de-escalate the -- the potential for violence, to try to convince him that there's a way to resolve this with nobody else being hurt or nobody being hurt at all, and -- and to end this peacefully.
But the fact that they have talked for an hour and that there hasn't been a violent reaction on his part or anybody else hurt up until now is actually a very good sign in a case like this.
SANCHEZ: Well, let -- let me ask you this, Tom. Without getting into specifics, because we at CNN are going to hold off on some of the specifics, but we have already been working diligently to find out who James Lee is.
And it sounds to us, just in a -- a exam -- a cursory examination of this man, that he's a -- an activist. And you know what I mean by an activist. In other words, he's -- he's for certain causes that he wants to see dealt with, manifested.
Does this sound to you like someone who would be more or less dangerous? Or do you even qualify them in a situation like this?
FUENTES: Well, that's hard to speculate. He's dangerous enough, if he went in there with a gun and what appears to be and what he wants everyone to believe is in fact an explosive device.
FUENTES: So, whether or not it actually is doesn't matter at this point. The fact is that the police have to treat it as such. And -- and that causes it to be a much more dangerous situation by itself.
SANCHEZ: But let me -- let me -- let me share --
FUENTES: So, as far as his background -- SANCHEZ: Let me -- let me share with you some of this. OK?
And I'm -- I -- I think we can go a little --
SANCHEZ: -- into a little -- you know, you -- now, you -- when you're -- when you're CNN, you have got to be a little careful about stuff like this. We don't want to allow a person who is doing what he is doing to use our network as a way of -- as a mouthpiece, so to speak. So, we're being real careful.
But, at the same time, we already know, because I'm -- I'm tweeting with people all over the world. They're all telling me what they're reading on the Internet. So, the information's already out there. And this is the age we live in.
So, I'm going to share with you now from a distance -- and let's -- Matt, let's not get too tight on this. I mean, there's no reason to get into specifics of what he wants.
But this is his manifesto. OK? This is what this James Lee has put out as his cause, so to speak, what -- what he wants. He apparently wants the Discovery Channel. They -- he uses the word "must." They must broadcast certain commitments to save the planet.
And then he goes on with one and two and three, specifically telling them about what they have to do, what they should air, their own stupidity. He's apparently anti-war. He's more for the exploration of certain areas. He's concerned about global warming, talks about Malthusian sciences, continues to come back to saving the planet.
So, he's really -- if you get my drift, Tom, he's -- he's -- he's very concerned. He's an activist, may be very well-meaning, but he's now put himself in a situation where he, the police officers and his hostages' lives are endangered.
What do you do?
Well, what the negotiators will be telling him is: Congratulations. Your complaints about Discovery Channel programming are now going out worldwide on the Internet and on cable news. Everybody will know everything that you're complaining about.
FUENTES: You have accomplished what you intended to accomplish. You have your 15 minutes of fame and -- and everything going with that. Now please surrender before anybody gets hurt, including you.
So, that's -- that will be the effort now, that -- that what his demands were are now aired, or will be aired even after the conclusion of this, whether he survives or not. What he was requesting or demanding of network programming will be out there. It will be made public. And, so, he got -- he got that accomplished.
SANCHEZ: So, that's interesting.
FUENTES: Now, just surrender. Save your -- save yourself.
SANCHEZ: That's interesting, what you're saying, Tom, because, you know, short of giving the guy $1 billion, you know, and a -- you know, and a van and a -- and a plane out or whatever you -- we see in movies, et cetera, et cetera, if someone makes a -- a request like this, where all I want people to do is broadcast more of these, as a police officer, you could say, look, we will work with you, we will talk to these people, and we will -- we will let them know what you want and, hopefully, you will be able to get this done. Now, can we stop this?
SANCHEZ: So -- so, you can go -- I mean, you -- you can play their game, so to speak, is what it sounds like you're saying.
FUENTES: Well, exactly.
And the negotiators and the on-scene commanders will be -- will be addressing it just that way. And -- and the good news so far in the situation, is unlike some of the situations that we have seen in recent times, where someone goes into a workplace and immediately starts killing co-workers because he has a complaint against the company or against the workers themselves, you know, that -- that's very difficult. It's already happened. People are already dead before the police even arrive.
So, in this situation, he wants to get his message out. That's the purpose of the exercise. He didn't go in that building with the idea, it doesn't appear anyway, to kill anybody or to hurt anybody or to -- to bring the building down. He went in there to get attention to his cause. And he's done so.
SANCHEZ: We have got a former FBI negotiator who's joining us now on the beeper line.
This is Chris Voss.
Chris, you agree with Tom? In a situation like this, you have got a guy who appears to be an activist, very tied to his causes, whatever they may be -- he has a right to believe in whatever causes he wants to. Do you -- do you, to a certain extent, indulge him?
Chris, are you there?
CHRIS VOSS, FORMER FBI NEGOTIATOR: I'm here, yes.
SANCHEZ: I'm sorry, Chris.
Chris Voss, did you hear my question?
VOSS: I did not. SANCHEZ: When you have someone like this who appears to be an activist, who wants certain causes met -- he's for saving the planet, for example -- he wants to make sure this particular company broadcasts more programs of that type -- do you, as a negotiator indulge him, indulge him in those needs?
VOSS: Well, it's not that you indulge him.
It's that you listen to him and you make sure that you understand what's driving him. I mean, you want to give him a chance to get it all out, to express what it is that he -- that he has to say. I mean, this has all been orchestrated because he's so determined to have something to say. He has a point he's so determined to make.
And if you can help get that out of him, then maybe you can defuse the situation enough where he will see that he's made his point and he will come out alive, and -- and he won't take anybody -- take anybody's life.
SANCHEZ: The difference in this case is, it's -- he's not a man with a gun pointed at another person's head. He's a man who apparently has explosives that could go off at any moment.
How do you deal with that differently? And -- and, again, I don't know if you have been watching, but the last report we have got from the police chief is the following. The police chief said that he had a metallic device on him, and the police are going on the assumption that that metallic device is explosive.
What -- what is your take on that?
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: -- from the police chief is the following. The police chief said he had a metallic device on him and the police are going on the assumption that that metallic device is explosive. What is your take on that?
CHRIS VOSS, FORMER FBI NEGOTIATOR (via telephone): You have to assume that it's an explosive. You have to assume that he's trying to make his point. You wouldn't really talk to him any differently than a man with a gun. You've got to get in sync with him. You've got to resonate with him and you've got to hear what's deeply driving him.
You have to find out what the latest trigger was, what it is that brought him here, what's this all about. And then how is this helping you, if you're really trying to make this point, how does this help you?
SANCHEZ: But if you have a guy with his finger on the trigger to what could be an explosive and so many people's lives at bay, at what point, a very direct question to you, very difficult question, I'll admit, at what point do you reach the threshold where you as a negotiator say to your guys, we've got to take him out?
VOSS: Well, it's an accumulation of things. And it's a turning point and it's not a straw that breaks the camel's back. There's a little bit of difference.
They've been accumulating information on everything he's said and done from the very beginning. I mean, the mere fact that he orchestrated this event in such a public fashion tells you an awful lot. The fact that he's let people go -- it appears that people have left the building, that he's allowed some people to leave.
If he had the ability to make that decision, you take a hard look at the people that have come out and the people that have not come out. You take every scrap of information, and then you weigh it on a scale and you try to decide which way he's leaning.
He's giving any indication that he sees anything in the future that he wants to see, if he's got a vision or a goal that he wants to see, then that's an indicator that he might want to come out.
SANCHEZ: That's interesting. You're moving the conversation forward and part of that is being real careful to listen to what he's saying.
We have a new picture we may be able to share with you. Let me get some consent on this from my own people in the control room, because we want to be as responsible as we can. Yes, we can go with this picture. Here we go.
This picture, well, kind of tells its own story, doesn't it? There it is. That is a picture of James Lee holding that placard as a seeming sign of protest. "Save the Planet," it says, "Discovery Channel." If you look closely, it has all the different pictures of images of different animals, et cetera, everything from gorillas to a shot of the planet to a panda bear to a wolf.
This seems to be very important to this man. And as they communicate with him and you'll hear this from Chris Voss, you'll hear this from Tom Fuentes. The police officers and negotiators will make sure that he knows that they understand that this is important to him. They will not short-shrift it, so to speak.
Let me go to one of my producers now. This is Paul Corson. He's been standing by as well not far from the scene. Paul, do we have any indication yet as to whether police are nailing down what kind of explosive this guy has on him?
PAUL CORSON, CNN PRODUCER, (via telephone): We're still seeing an assembling of resources on the southwest side of the Discovery building. In front of me, it looks like a miniature cement mixer to give you an idea of what a bomb containment truck looks like. That came in from U.S. capital police in D.C.
We also saw Maryland state troopers dressed in military fatigue. We've seen some federal police and authorities, including the Federal Protective Service. We've even seen metro transit police who have brought in a robot behind this truck. If you can see the white trailer that's right behind the navy blue truck, right behind that is a robot camera device.
SANCHEZ: It's hard to see. If you could have your engineers just see if they can maybe work with that picture a little bit. That's fine. I'm still interested in what you have to say, I don't want to lose you. There you go. That's better.
CORSON: There we go. Right in front of me is one of these wheeled, radio-controlled devices that allows manipulation of something, an object that's in front of it. It has a camera on it and other undetermined sensors that I can see from here, that came in from metro transit police, metro being the local mass transit area that serves the D.C./Maryland area.
There is a transit subway location near the Discovery building. Security was put in place there very quickly as well.
I don't know if the picture is better than it was before.
SANCHEZ: I think the key -- my experience when we used to take these cameras and bring pictures like this, the key is not to move it. Just leave it in one place. Don't move it. Let's try it now, guys.
CORSON: This is the bomb truck that came in from U.S. capital police.
SANCHEZ: You want to try it, Roger? There you go, there you go. Perfect.
CORSON: Now, the police are making me move because I'm too close to it. But you get the idea that a lot of resources have been arrayed for a spans to that and to try to contain this with a minimum number of injuries and damage to anything.
We don't have any guidance from the police on this side of the building, Rick, as to what type of explosives they may be responding to. But clearly you can see the assets are here to deal with a wide range of thing.
SANCHEZ: I'll tell you, your description was apt. It looks like a cement mixer, a royal blue cement mixer, which apparently is used as some type of bomb-catching apparatus --
SANCHEZ: Containment, better word choice. What a scene.
All right, folks, here's what we have right now. We are going to go to break. And as we go to break, here is the newest picture we have of the suspect, once again. This picture's not that old. It's just from 2008. You can see he's quite an activist. He's also a very dangerous man right now. He's a man who is holding hostages.
Police officers from all over the D.C. area have now converged on this Discovery building, Discovery Channel building where he has a small group of people in the lobby area. He has a handgun, according to police. And he also has something which police are assuming are explosives. We are all over this story.
SANCHEZ: Welcome back. It's a breaking news story that we're following for you. And as we develop this story for you, a lot more information continues to come in.
We've just been given information that in fact one of the hostages that is being held by the gunman in the lobby of the Discovery Channel building is in fact a security guard. So at least one has been described as one of the security officials that may have met this gunman in the lobby when he first tried to come into the building.
We should also tell you as far as the Discovery Channel itself is concerned, that they are still broadcasting. Their signal is still broadcasting.
Let's go back to Paul Corson. Paul, what's the scene around that area? And as we do that, I'm going to get one of my own colleagues to show us a different angle of exactly what we're doing over here. That's Josh Levs. Hey, Josh, are you ready to go?
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm ready to go, yes.
SANCHEZ: Do us a favor, a lot of our viewers are just now joining us -- it's now 39 minutes after the hour, 3:00 on the east coast. And there is a very dangerous situation at the Discovery building outside in one of the suburbs of Washington, D.C. And that is that the man is apparently making some threats. He apparently has what is being treated like explosives by police and he has a handgun.
Where is this area? Here's Josh. He's going to take you through it.
LEVS: I've been looking at the maps. I want all of you to understand that this is just outside our nation's capital and it is in and of itself a city.
Right now, we are able to tell you the story of one event involving one suspect in one building. But at the time when it was breaking, clearly streets were closed off. People throughout the area were really concerned.
I want to zoom you in to the building. One thing we now know as we zoom in, Rick, is the entrance that this suspect used to get in, the actual corners of the building.
And what you're seeing there, those yellow lines are marking out Washington, D.C. Silver spring is literally just outside Washington, D.C. It's pretty much at the edge about seven miles from the White House, but it's just at the edge of Washington D.C. itself.
We're looking at the building there. I think we can zoom in pretty close to where the entrance is that this gunman apparently took, according to authorities. That's in the center of your screen right there.
Let's zoom out a little bit and show everyone perspective throughout the area. There are hotels in this area, other businesses, and it's right outside the capital. So clearly as you're hearing about a hostage situation and any day, and it's a busy weekday here and a lot of people are being impacted.
Also Rick, I'll tell you, the more people learn about some of the concerns they have about this specific suspect, some things that are out there, one of the first things everyone wanted to know is that the children are safe. You were mentioned this alleged manifesto. We know the children are safe.
There's a day care center inside this building. And they were taken out. We learned that very early on. All the children were taken out safely, brought to a nearby restaurant.
So this is the section of Silver Spring where it happened. It's a very busy area. It's got a lot of businesses around it. What you have at any given moment, a lot of people who are going to be outside. When there's a hostage situation, one of the first things you want to know is did something else happen at another building. Fortunately, they were able to knock that one out, too.
SANCHEZ: Let's just say this guy is a true paradox. If you think true it, the definition of a paradox is contradictory but true (ph). How can a man claim to be for saving the planet, apparently a peace activist, so to speak, while at the same time be threatening to blow himself and other people up and carrying a handgun?
LEVS: And Malthusian theories and people shouldn't have babies --
SANCHEZ: It's a heck of a situation, and because it's so different, we want to bring in our own experts. Tom Fuentes and Chris Voss will take us through it in just a moment. But let me get back to Paul Corson. Paul, are you still there?
CORSON: Yes, I am, Rick. Can you hear me?
SANCHEZ: I can. And you know what's interesting about this story. Of all the places for this to happen, Washington, D.C. -- talk about a place that's lousy with police officers, federal agents, you name it, and probably every conceivable piece of equipment that could be used in this kind of scenario that you may not find, with all due respect to Topeka, in a place like Topeka, Kansas.
CORSON: As your analysts have pointed out, though, this fellow may not be entirely logic-driven if he were looking for a weak point in the infrastructure to make a statement of some kind. It's not necessarily what kind of resources might be arrayed against him when he reaches his trigger point.
SANCHEZ: I'll tell you, just from what you were describing there, it sounds like every agency and every county is sending their guys and whatever it is that they have, and they're throwing it at this situation. And there's a lot, right?
CORSON: When you first came on, they were just moving us back from what was a vantage point into the front lobby of the discovery building. You were talking about whether the fellow was in that lobby looking out the glass.
But what we were told by police is if that guy is in the lobby, and they use the word "if," he can see you and he can shoot you. That's what the police told the media when we first gathered across the street from the Discovery building. In the two hours since then, you've seen all these resources congregating at the scene, including as I said earlier, the cement mixer-looking bomb containment truck that came in that U.S. capital at D.C.
SANCHEZ: There we see SWAT getting into position. This is tape, right? We would, by the way, we would not show -- in case James Lee is hearing me now, which there's a possibility that he could be, and I'll assume that he is -- whatever you see on CNN of tactical work on the part of police officers like these SWAT guys, these SRT guys that you just saw there, we would not show that live, OK? We at CNN will simply not show any tactical effort on the part of police live, because the last thing we want to do is let the perpetrator, in this case, Mr. Lee, know what's going on around him or give away what it is that the police want to do.
So whenever we show you pictures like those, those are tape. They would have happened earlier. Just want to be on the record for that.
By the way, Chris Voss still with us. Chris, as far your sources go -- and Tom Fuentes, you, too, I know you're both with us at this point -- if either one of you have gotten a source that has given a sense of what the strategy is, let us know. Let's begin with you, Chris.
VOSS: I know what the strategy is from having trained with -- in a hostage negotiation community here in Washington, D.C. And they're going to try to get in sync with him, they're going to try to resonate with him, and try help him get out whatever it is that's driving him, talk to him deeply and figure out what it is that he's trying accomplish, and then try to separate the point he's trying to make from the actions that he's taking.
If they can help him see the actions he's taking may, in fact, be counterproductive to the point he's trying to make, that may be a way to get him out alive and to get everybody else in there out alive.
SANCHEZ: What about -- and Tom, I'll throw this at you and I'll come back to you, Chris, what about this point that I made moments ago about this man being a real paradox? I mean, he believes in peace and saving the planet, et cetera, et cetera, while at the same time he seems to be jeopardizing, endangering the lives of so many people. How can you be both? TOM FUENTES, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: You can be both. Many of these cases have shown that the behavior does not match the stated objectives or what a person says he believes in. So that's common and that's not going to be unusual for the negotiators to encounter that kind of a paradox and deal with it.
And again, Chris is exactly right. They're going to try to figure out exactly what motivated him to do this and try to gain enough of a rapport with him to convince him to deescalate and give it up and surrender peacefully before anything gets worse.
He's made his point. His manifesto is going to be out there for everybody to see. And if that was his main objective to get publicity for his cause, he's done it. Therefore, there's no need to hurt anybody now, including himself, or including police officers or hostages or anybody. He can walk away from this knowing that the whole world will see his demands.
SANCHEZ: Tom Fuentes, hang tight. We'll come back to you in just a little bit. We're also being told that the police officers are going to be holding a news conference again. There may be some new information coming out of this. As you can see, we've got it covered from several angles. I want to thank our affiliates there who are doing a fantastic job, affiliates as usual, like WJLA.
As we get more information, we're going to be sharing it with you. We'll sneak this break in now. Maybe on the backside of this break, you'll be seeing the police officers coming before the cameras one more time. This is "RICK'S LIST." We're covering breaking news, and we're going to be right back.
SANCHEZ: Welcome back. We're working our way through all this information.
See that man right there on the corner of the screen? That is James Lee, and police are saying that he is at this time involved in a hostage situation with several people in the lobby of the Discovery Channel building where he may have worked. We haven't confirmed that. But he certainly has some type of association with the Discovery Channel.
He's been an activist for saving the planet, and there you see the picture we have of him in 2008. He believes in this cause and he's put out a manifesto, which we're going through now, parsing it to be able to bring you different parts of it without having to reveal his entire invasion plan here. We don't want to create a soapbox for him either.
At the same time, this is a very dangerous situation. Let me show you the building once again where this is all taking place. It's in Montgomery County, a suburb just outside of Washington, D.C.
He walked into the lobby of the building, and as far as police are concerned, he has some type of handgun and some metallic object which is being considered a explosive device. Exactly what kind of explosive it is, we don't know yet, nor have police told us. But we are expecting to get a news conference from them here in just a little bit.
Chris Voss is a former FBI negotiator. We also have Tom Fuentes, who's also former FBI deputy director. Joining us as well, our own correspondents and producers who are now on the scene.
Let me start off with Chris Voss. Chris, how long does this negotiating processing on for? Are there any limits that are set? Are there thresholds that you set? Do you want to be able to reach this point before you do such and such?
VOSS: Well, cases like this have certain earmarks. This is probably going to last more than two to four hours. It's probably not going to last much more than 14 or 16. There's only so long that a person by themselves outside of their own home can sustain this effort. He is going to run out of energy unless he sleeps, unless he eats. He is not in an environment where he is really able to do that. So if they're patient there is a limit to how long he can stay inside.
SANCHEZ: Maybe we need to know more about who James Lee is. The question here is, who is James Lee? And we here at CNN have been making phone calls to try and parse through both his manifesto, his intentions, and who may have known him in the past.
I think we've come across a guest who is going to be able to shed some light on this for us. Aaron Morrissey is joining us now. He's a writer/editor for "The D.C.-ist." I understand you've done some work with Mr. Lee. Mr. Morrissey, are you there, sir?
AARON MORRISSEY, EDITOR IN CHIEF, "DC-IST" (via telephone): Yes, I am.
SANCHEZ: Hey, take us through what you know about James Lee, would you?
MORRISSEY: Sure thing, Rick.
So back in 2008, in the winter time, we came across this manifesto which had been surfaced earlier this morning again, and we kind of saw that Mr. Lee was planning a protest against the Discovery Channel. He had some kind of off-the-wall ideas in that manifesto.
And it turns out that that protest was, you know, not that well attended, but then about a month or so later he was actually arrested in Silver Spring around the Discovery Channel headquarters where this incident is taking place, and he was arrested on some littering charges, disorderly conduct charges. Apparently the littering charges actually stemmed from him throwing money in the air at people that, you know, were just walking around the headquarters there.
SANCHEZ: But nothing violent? At that point it was nothing like what we're seeing today, correct?
MORRISSEY: Oh, absolutely not. This was the last we had heard of him, in 2008. And so today, you know, we actually had to go back through our archives and said this guy has a lot of similarities. Of course we couldn't confirm anything at that point, but nothing to this extent, no.
SANCHEZ: Well, you had a nose for news then and I'm glad we got you now. Do you know if he ever worked for the Discovery Channel?
MORRISSEY: I can't confirm anything like that, whether he worked for the Discovery Channel. All we can confirm at this point is that he obviously had some long standing grudges. And his manifesto, though, it's difficult to parse, he definitely had some issues with some -- something with the Discovery Channel.
SANCHEZ: Did you or your guys ever talk with him or get him on the phone or meet with him?
MORRISSEY: No, Rick. We never did an interview with Mr. Lee. Frankly we saw he was arrested on these minor charges and we thought the story had run its course at that point, but obviously that was not the case.
SANCHEZ: Can you explain to me and to our viewers why he would have a beef with the one channel that does stories about saving the planet? I mean, I can think of a lot of other, you know, whatever businesses, institutions, even news stations out there that you would have a beef with. If you want to save the planet, why Discovery Channel?
MORRISSEY: You know, your guess is as good as mine at this point, Rick. I mean, when something like this happens, I think it's not the best idea to kind of, you know, try and guess what's going through the mind of the individual.
You know, all we know at this point is he obviously had some gripes and obviously felt the need to redress those in this fashion, which is incredibly unfortunate.
SANCHEZ: Look, we haven't put the manifesto up yet so everybody can see it. We want to go, you know -- it's pretty long and it looks like it ram rambles a little bit. I see Josh Levs on the other side of the room now. He'll be working this part of the story. I think as a news organization you guys were careful, too, not to just throw everything this guy thinks out there.
But what is the gist? I know you've read his manifesto probably many times. As you perceive it, what is the gist of what he wants?
MORRISSEY: You know, I think that he was very upset at the so- called hypocrisy that the station had these programs. They purported to be an organization that wanted to make things green, et cetera, et cetera, but he was very upset that someone, you know, the programs that were on the Discovery Channel, perhaps, weren't, you know, fitting that image. They were glorifying fishermen, you know. It's a lot of rambling and a lot to parse through.
SANCHEZ: That's interesting. MORRISSEY: That's the gist of it, yes.
SANCHEZ: Aaron, you've been very helpful. Thanks for joining us on the air here on CNN and taking us through what you discovered several years ago about Mr. Lee and his activism, his devotion to saving the planet, which he seems to have taken a bit too far today by holding people hostage at the Discovery Channel building just outside of Washington, D.C.
This is a really dangerous situation, folks. We're on top of it because, well, not just because it's a gunman, but because it's a gunman with potential explosives. And we don't know what kind of explosives he has.
And, look, let me just ask. We've got experts here who can answer some of these questions. Tom Fuentes and Chris Voss, I know, Chris, you're still with us.
Let us suppose that he's wearing some kind of vest and that vest is metallic and that vest has some kind of explosives on it. I'm assuming this is what police are assuming. In fact, that's what they've told us they're going on. They can't confirm they're explosives but they have reason to believe.
How much explosives and what kind of explosives can you pack on to yourself in that small area that could cause what type of harm, if you get my drift?
VOSS: Well, you can -- you don't need that much because, first of all, if he's inside a building that contains the explosion, it makes it far more lethal inside than it would be outside. So to start with, because he is inside, it's a much more dangerous situation.
And then depending upon what the explosive is made out of, there are a lot of readily available simple components. You don't have to have very many pounds of gun powder taken from shotgun shells and put inside a pipe bomb which then creates shrapnel. It becomes pretty lethal when you're talking about a contained area with folks in close proximity.
SANCHEZ: Is there any way of knowing what kind of explosive he has just by looking at it?
VOSS: No, there's not. And he may have designed it with deceiving people in mind if they are trying to find out what it is by looking at it. It looks like he put a great deal of thought into what he was going to do today so the way he constructed the items he is carrying on his body, he probably put just as much thought into.
SANCHEZ: Is there any kind of equipment that's available to you without, again, giving away the Normandy plans here? Is there any kind of equipment that police can use to surmise what kind of explosive he has either from a distance or by being able to touch it or look at it?
VOSS: No. There really isn't. They're just going to have to treat it -- they can make pretty good guesses based upon the components they see as to what would likely work well with it. They're going to have a good idea of probably four or five different types of explosives that might work. And then the velocity of the explosives, whether a higher speed or lower speed --
VOSS: -- they'll be able to guess on that. And they'll be able to make some rough parameter guesses on maybe what he is carrying.
SANCHEZ: Chris, hold on. We're going to bring you back in just a little bit. We're going to take a short break.
And just for those of you catching up with us now, there is a dangerous, volatile situation just outside of D.C., a gunman and a hostage situation. We'll be right back.