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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Hostage Situation at Discovery Channel Headquarters in Maryland; Suspect Shot, Hostages Safe
Aired September 1, 2010 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, welcome back, everyone. I'm Rick Sanchez.
It is now 4:00 out East. This is usually the time where we welcome our troops who are watching us all over the world in Afghanistan and in Iraq on the Armed Forces Network. We're glad you guys are there.
And we have a situation that will remind many of you watching from overseas of what you see and deal with on a daily basis. This is a dangerous situation outside just our nation's capital, where a gunman, police say a man with a handgun who potentially has some explosives strapped to him as well, a metallic device as they describe it, which they assume are explosives, is holed up in the lobby of the Discovery Channel building in Montgomery County.
With him there are many other people. The area, as you might expect, is now lousy with police officers. They are coming from all over the area to try and secure this situation. They have been negotiating with him.
First, they isolated him. Then they contained the area. Then they evacuated the building. They got the employees out. They got children out of a day care which is adjacent to the lobby where he is. Yes, you can imagine just how concerned those parents were. But they got them all out.
And now they are in the business of negotiating with him. And that business, that process has begun. Exactly where they are in that negotiation, we don't know. We do know a little bit -- we do know a little bit about -- about what the man wants.
Here now, the police.
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PAUL STARKS, SPOKESMAN, MONTGOMERY COUNTY POLICE: -- p.m. or sooner if there is some sort of resolution, we will come back and provide you with the information we have now at this time.
Since Chief Manger spoke about 45 minutes ago, there is no new information. We're just continuing to talk with the man and we're hoping that this brings about a safe and successful resolution. OK?
QUESTION: Is he in the lobby? QUESTION: How can I spell your name?
QUESTION: Have you got the FBI involved talking to him?
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) a hostage negotiation team?
STARKS: Montgomery County Police are speaking to him, to my knowledge. We're the lead agency here.
QUESTION: Stand in front of the mikes. We're live, sir.
QUESTION: Can you repeat the top of it?
QUESTION: Is it the FBI that's talking to him (OFF-MIKE) talking to him?
STARKS: Right now, we're being helped by various agencies. It's my understanding that Montgomery County police officers are talking with him and that has been continuing for well over an hour, closing in on two hours now.
QUESTION: Is ATF involved?
STARKS: I don't know.
QUESTION: How many hostages (OFF-MIKE)
STARKS: Chief Manger said 45 minutes ago a small number. That has not changed.
QUESTION: Do you have any update on the name of the suspect?
STARKS: No, we don't.
QUESTION: Is this telephone communication or face to face in some way?
STARKS: I believe it's telephone.
QUESTION: Do you have his cell phone number or is it a Discovery phone? Do you happen to know?
QUESTION: Is he in the lobby?
QUESTION: Paul, we missed the top of what you said. The announcement you made at the top, could you repeat that? STARKS: Oh.
Tom, what I said was we don't have any new information since Chief Manger spoke about 45 minutes ago. What we do plan to do, with fire rescue and possibly others involved in this, is at 5:00, or maybe sooner if there's some sort of resolution where we can, is come down here and speak and provide you the information we have at that time.
QUESTION: Can you confirm that the entire building is evacuated now?
STARKS: No, I can't.
QUESTION: Can you tell us where the suspect is?
QUESTION: When you say a small number, does that mean under five? Can you give us any more specifics, rather than a full number?
STARKS: No. I can't answer that.
QUESTION: Are there any injuries that you know of at this point?
STARKS: There are still no confirmed injuries, no reports of any injuries that have been brought to my attention.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) won't tell us things basically because you are afraid he will hear about it and it will disturb the negotiations?
STARKS: There's a couple different categories here as far as this information. Some parts of this information, we just don't know. Some parts, we don't want to release because it may affect how we're treating this situation.
STARKS: Thank you.
SANCHEZ: Well, there you go, one of the officers, Starks, coming out and speaking on behalf of his police chief who came out about 40 minutes ago, and saying that the situation has essentially not changed. Questions being asked of him about whether the building has been entirely evacuated.
He said no. Exactly how many people still left in the building? By the way, we don't know. We have been trying to work on finding that out. Whether the incident is still taking place in the lobby, he wouldn't confirm, although that was the last place that we were told by the chief that it was taking place.
He says he is hoping to have this thing resolved by 5:00, which is about an hour from now, or sooner. And he said that he would come out right away and tell us what's going on.
One quick -- do we have Fuentes, by the way? Do we have Tom? Hey, Tom, I have a very important question for you.
TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, sir.
SANCHEZ: Because it was the very first question that was asked there.
In a situation like this, who takes the lead? He was very adamant about saying Montgomery County is still taking the lead on this, but, you know, you got Quantico down the street. You got many of the FBI offices in that area because of the federal jurisdiction. Wouldn't you want the FBI to be involved in this, closely monitoring it, if not leading it?
FUENTES: No, not necessarily, Rick. The negotiator community is very tight-knit, very well trained, as Chris knows, at the federal state, local, city, county level.
The fact that Montgomery County negotiators would have been on have been on site first and apparently have started a rapport, have started the process of talking to him, there is no need to bring anybody else in to upset the continuity.
SANCHEZ: What do your -- what the feds, what do the FBI guys, what do your guys do?
FUENTES: Well, there is a lot that can be done just standing by to assist in terms of negotiation or tactical assistance.
And the other thing that is going on behind the scenes that you're not noticing is that there's probably several hundred investigators who are feverishly working right now to try to find out more about the individual.
What's his background? Who is he related to? Has he ever had explosives training? Has he ever been in the military? Has he ever been in a discussion with people where he talked about he knew how to make a bomb or he read how to make a bomb on the Internet or had access to certain chemicals?
FUENTES: So, all of -- a tremendous amount of investigation is going on that really requires all the agencies, not just Montgomery County and the Maryland State Police, but ATF, the FBI. Many agencies are involved in providing assistance in a case like this.
SANCHEZ: And then I would imagine -- just one more thing -- I would imagine then that that information would be funneled to the actual negotiator, right, because he needs to know how adept this guy is and how serious he is and how dangerous he is.
FUENTES: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.
The negotiation team that's working on that are in constant communication with the on-scene commander, who has the leaders of each of the tactical components and investigative components in the command post with him. So, you have the SWAT team leaders, the negotiator team leaders, the bomb techs, the hazmat people, the fire department people, the investigative units.
There is a wide array of experts working their specialty right now. All that information is being funneled to the commanders in the command post and that of course is being funneled back to the team leaders and to the tactical units who would have to respond if required.
SANCHEZ: Tom Fuentes, you're good. Appreciate your explanation on this. Stand by.
I want to go now to Brianna Keilar. She's made her way to the scene and is standing in front of a camera as we speak to take us through what is going on down there on the ground.
Brianna, bring us up to date, if you would.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And, Rick, I really want to orient you, because, as you know, we just heard from the authorities here that not a lot has changed because negotiations continue at this hour with this suspect.
But you see the Discovery building behind me. It's actually shaped a bit like an L. I know we have talked about that. And over to the right side, where you can see Discovery Communications written on the actual building, it's sort of below there, which is the main entrance, as I understand it.
And what we know is that this suspect at about 1:00 p.m. Eastern walked in through the main entrance, had canisters on the front of his body and on the back of his body, according to police, was waving a handgun and asked people to stay still.
And at this point, we do know according to police that there are a small number of hostages. We don't know exactly how many. We don't know the identity of these hostages, but at this moment in time authorities are negotiating with this suspect who law enforcement officials tell CNN is James Lee, this environmental protester.
So -- and you just heard, Rick, what we're waiting for is any update because these negotiations are ongoing and we're told that as soon as something changes or come 5:00 p.m., we are going to be getting more word from police officials here.
SANCHEZ: Good stuff, Brianna. Thanks so much. We're going to be checking back with you in just a little bit.
We also have -- we have got Brooke Baldwin and we're also going to check in with Josh Levs, both of whom are working. I have told you -- and for those of you just now joining us, we have got a pretty good bead on who this guy is. We understand what his concerns have been for some time. He's a bit of an activist, a guy who truly believes seemingly in his heart that he needs to do all he can to save the planet.
Most watching this would argue he may have taken it way too far on this day by endangering the lives of people in this building, as he seems to be doing right now. Police are treating this as a hostage situation. They believe he's both armed and may very well have explosives either on him or carrying them or tied to him and they are worried about the repercussions of what that may be.
This picture was taken in 2008 when he was holding that protest placard there.
Josh Levs standing by as well.
Hey, Josh and Brooke, have you guys -- I haven't had a chance to stop this and read the manifesto, although I have kind of looked through it a little bit. How would you characterize it? What's his beef in this thing?
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, you have been asking and a lot of us have been wondering why this building, right? Why Discovery Communications? Why would he be looking at that specifically?
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right.
LEVS: And I want to say at the top that we're certainly not trying to -- we're not going to be reading his whole manifesto.
BALDWIN: We're not his voice.
LEVS: And this is what they want in some situations like this. They want to have all the words out there.
That said, we're reporting and the fact is people want to know what is going on in this guy's mind. So, one of the reasons is his theories are based on this idea that people need to stop having kids, right? And he writes in his manifesto --
SANCHEZ: Did you just say that people need stop having kids?
LEVS: Yes. He writes a lot about Malthus and Darwin.
And his own belief is that the way to save the planet is for humans to stop procreating at anywhere near the rate that we are right now. He says all programs on Discovery Health, TLC must stop encouraging the birth of any more parasitic human infants and the false heroics behind those actions and instead he wants programming that pushes different theories that tell people to go sterile.
I mean, this is the kind of thing that you are actually reading, a book you have been reading similar.
BALDWIN: Yes. So, I have been sitting back there. I mean, it's like point one through nine on this manifesto.
But, also, Rick, just simply you were asking like why Discovery specifically? And when you watch Discovery there's a bunch programs --
BALDWIN: -- green, right?
BALDWIN: "Dirty Jobs."
And so one line I found where he is just irked that Discovery is asking people, buy green products. And he says as part of his manifesto, not just a show. He doesn't want a show about them telling us what light bulb to use, but show us where solutions are brought to the new shows from people all over with good ideas.
So, it gets down to the minutia of how to produce some of these green shows. Also, interestingly, when you go to his Web site, which, by the way, has more or less crashed because so many people are trying to get on it, there is actually a contact to him and it traces back to this part of British Columbia.
I don't know if he is Canadian. I picked up the phone, tried dialing the number, and the mailbox is full. So obviously other journalists trying to do the same thing. So, we're trying to make contact with him. I don't know if he has family. But that's just the little bits and pieces we're parsing through.
LEVS: And let me mention since we were talking about this, some people have just joined us in the last few minutes. I want everyone to know that because Brooke and I and others who are reading this, one of the very first things we wanted to know is, are the children safe?
And they are. The kids were taken out of this building very early on. There's a day care center. They're all -- we're told there are absolutely no kids in this building.
But this is -- it's filled with anger. It's filled with fury. That part doesn't surprise you. But it is also filled with his own very unique perspective on what it would be to save the Earth and that means that people need to stop having kids. That is a big part of the reason why you're seeing his concerns about Discovery and the kind of programming they have there.
SANCHEZ: There are some of the pictures now, by the way, of the kids. God bless them. Look at that.
LEVS: They're safe. They're fine.
BALDWIN: Look at that.
SANCHEZ: He's a real cutie patootie, that one there.
BALDWIN: He's like, get me out of here.
SANCHEZ: They literally are taking the children out in some of their playpens and cribs --
SANCHEZ: -- for their own safety to keep them in that same environment. It looks like they're very small children that they're taking out there as well.
But we're glad we were able to bring you that picture.
And as Josh just said -- let me just underscore that -- Brianna Keilar was among the first to report, yes, all the children are accounted for. They're perfectly safe. They got them out of the area.
And, by the way, that was a volatile area. The children were in the area that was closest to where this gunman with the explosives was, because that day care center was right there in that vicinity. So, it was a good thing that they were able to get them right away and get them out.
In the meantime, we watch this situation. We try and figure out with the rest of America exactly why this man has gone as far as he has. And as police try and negotiate with him, we will keep our cameras going and if anything happens you will see it here first on CNN.
This is RICK'S LIST. We are going to take a short break and then we're going to be right back.
SANCHEZ: Welcome back.
This is the picture that we've been looking at for the better part of the last hour and a half or so. We want to thank WJLA, one of our affiliates there in the Washington, D.C. area.
This thing about 1:00 Eastern began when a gunman walked into a building, the Discovery Channel Building, and took it upon himself to make threats, demands, and according to police, has now taken hostages.
He is said to have a gun, small handgun. Here is how police described it. The chief there, Scott Graham, who also said that he has every reason to believe he has some kind of explosive tied to him, some type of metallic device. He also said, by the way, that he was waving the handgun so what we have is a very dangerous situation.
We're trying to get a handle on who James Lee really is and we've shared some information with you. I want to bring in Aaron Morrissey now. Aaron Morrissey is the editor of "The DCist" a publication in the Washington, D.C. area, obviously enough, and he was onto Mr. James -- pardon me, Mr. Lee before just about anybody else was. Did a story on him some years ago when he first read his manifesto.
From what you've seen so far -- from what you've seen so far, Aaron, through our coverage since we last spoke, is there anything that brings you back to what you were originally reporting on this guy? What's your take?
AARON MORRISSEY, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "DCIST" (via telephone): Well, Rick, I just want to make one quick clarification there. I'm editor- in-chief of the sight, Summer Mathis (ph) who used to write for the site came up with that story so should get the full credit for breaking this back in 2008.
But nothing that we saw in 2008 would give us any kind of indication that Lee was going to do this. I mean, sure, he had some crazy off-the-wall ideas but especially in Washington, D.C., you know, this kind of thing happens a lot. There are a lot of protests, there's a lot of people who have a lot of ideas that come to Washington area and then kind of protest and stuff like that. But --
SANCHEZ: Hey, Aaron? Aaron -- Aaron, I'm going to stop you for a moment. And I really don't want to do that, but I understand we've just gotten some video in where we can see for ourselves part of the protest that you've described to us. You covered this protest -- and there we go. There we see a little bit of it.
Rerack this, Rog. Let's take a look at this once again. That's him, I guess, getting picked up. You see him walking there.
Loop it, Rog and as we watch it we'll get Aaron to describe what the scenario was.
What happened on this day, Aaron? What was the deal with this arrest, Aaron?
MORRISSEY: Well, he was arrested back in February of 2008. I see here on the video that he is being take away by police. He was littering and they say also they also arrested him on some disorderly conduct charges. Apparently, he had been throwing money into the air. Why, you know, I'm not really sure, but that's what the police came and arrested him for on that day.
SANCHEZ: Did you know that he was this Malthusian-type character? That he wants us as human beings to stop, I guess, procreating so that the animals can take over the planet, et cetera, et cetera? And I'm not sure if I got that right, but that seems to be part of his gist.
Did you know about that back then?
MORRISSEY: Certainly, his manifesto was available back in 2008 and, you know, we parsed it several times. And you know, there was a lot of crazy off-the-wall ideas but nothing, you know -- he obviously has a lot of issues with the Discovery Channel and how he chose to show those were in this very strange kind of way, but nothing that we would have assumed he would have --
SANCHEZ: No, no. I mean, you have a right to believe whatever it is you want to believe no matter how strange. There are people who say they believe there is all kinds of stuff going on out there that may not be true, that doesn't lead one to believe that on any given day they're going to take a gun or explosives and walk into a building and threaten the lives of people.
Although, I guess you must admit that even back then you must have been taken aback. I mean, those theories seem -- I'll just say it -- weird.
MORRISSEY: They are certainly weird and, I mean, like I said before, in Washington, D.C. and the surrounding areas, we get a lot of this. There are a lot of suspicious packages, there's a lot of things that kind of don't always pan out. And so sometimes we, you know, see these things and have a tendency to write them off, but obviously, there was something a little bit more there.
SANCHEZ: Yes, it's interesting.
And do we still have our FBI guys? Have we got Chris Voss? Do we have Tom Fuentes?
CHRIS VOSS, : Yes, Chris. Chris is still here.
SANCHEZ: You know -- I'm looking at this guy's face -- I'm sorry, this is his My Space page.
Have we got somebody out there? Hey, Matt, shoot this page over here that I'm looking at. It's up on the green screen there, Rog.
Look what it says, cause, you know, it's one thing to be a peace activist or a save the planet kind of guy, but look up there in that little box, Matt. See where it says, Lee says? Go to your right, Matt, just next to his picture -- "Lee says, It's time for revolution."
When people start using heated language like "revolution" do you become more concerned, former FBI guy Tom Fuentes?
FUENTES: Well, absolutely. But we're hearing talk like that just from the normal political discourse lately, so the fact that a citizen out there uses language like that. I mean, we have public officials using language just as bad.
SANCHEZ: Anything about the fact that he's not just an activist but had been arrested before, he has websites like this?
I mean, who follows people like this in our country? The guys who are just out there who are totally committed to whatever it is they believe in. I mean whether they're on the left, the right, the middle, the green, whatever color they represent, all colors of the rainbow I imagine, who follows these people? Who's on top of these guys? That's Secret Service, isn't it?
FUENTES: No, nobody is following them in this situation.
If you have somebody expressing their political rights, their freedom of speech, unless they're crossing a line and specifically advocating violence or making a threat against someone or somebody calls in to the police or to the FBI and says, I think this person is going to cross the line and commit a violent act, if you don't have that just merely expressing weird views on the Internet is not going to be enough to trigger being followed.
And certainly the FBI, the police in this country, there aren't enough agents and police officers to follow everybody who expresses views that are out of the mainstream.
SANCHEZ: So I guess the short answer is not until they cross a line and I guess my answer --
FUENTES: Yes. This guy didn't cross the line. He crossed the line today when he walked in there with a gun and a device strapped on his back.
And sometimes, as in this case, that may be the first time that somebody comes up on law enforcement radar if no one else has made a report and said that I think this person is about ready to do something extreme like that.
SANCHEZ: Chris Voss is a former negotiator who is certainly understanding what these negotiators are going through now who are dealing with James Lee.
Chris, how many of them do this? Do you use just one person or do you use several people?
CHRIS VOSS, FORMER FBI NEGOTIATOR (via telephone): Well, negotiation is a team sport and Tom alluded to that a little bit earlier today. The hostage negotiation community in Washington, D.C. area works and trains together quite a bit. By this time every negotiation team in the area is aware of this, it has probably offered help. The primary negotiator is probably a Montgomery County police officer and probably being coached by a Montgomery County police officer and the team is probably being run also by the same department. But there's a lot of support roles and there is so much communication to be managed back and forth from the negotiation team that it's hard to have too many negotiators at a siege.
You can find a job for almost everybody to do, help analyze the communication, get all the information to the primary negotiator, to break it down, to help them really gain insight into this person. So it's a team sport and you can easily have 10 or 12 negotiators on a given team.
SANCHEZ: I tell you what, what a story. Chris Voss is following it for us. So is Tom Fuentes. So are our producers on the ground -- Michelle Foreman, Paul Courson. Brianna Keilar has made her way down to the road there now, as we look at some of the pictures of not only the FBI officials but other agencies coming on the scene now to try and help and see if they can bring this story to a conclusion.
Police seem to be hopeful they'll be getting this done in the next half hour, although there are obviously no guarantees as the negotiations continue with this gunman who says he has explosives on him, some type of metallic devices described by police, and he is holding hostages.
This is RICK'S LIST. We are coming right back. Stay right there, folks.
SANCHEZ: It is 26 minutes after the hour of 4:00. Welcome back. This is RICK'S LIST and I'm Rick Sanchez.
And normally at this time we're taking you through a series of different stories, but on this day we're all focused on this building just outside of Washington, D.C., it's in Montgomery County. The place is now just lousy with police officers, federal agents, specialists, negotiators, everything that you could imagine in terms of personnel and equipment to try and deal with this dire situation of a man who has holed himself up in the lobby of this building, the Discovery Channel building, with apparently some kind of metallic device being described as explosives by police or certainly being considered to be explosives by police as well as a handgun that police say he was said to be waving earlier.
The problem is he is not by himself. The problem is that he is taking hostages, and there are a small number of people in the lobby of that building who are surrounding him. And police are trying to talk the guy out of the building by negotiating with him, by trying to reach some conclusion with him that he's achieved his goal of letting the world know what his concerns are about saving the planet, which are his concerns, albeit extreme, but those are his concerns and he appears to want to make sure that those concerns are heard.
Among the people joining us are two FBI guys, one a former negotiator, the other one a deputy; Tom Fuentes, Chris Voss, both with us. Brianna Keilar has made her way down to street level there where she is reporting on what is going on in the community.
I would imagine -- do we still have Brianna, by the way? We're trying to get Brianna. When we get Brianna back up, I'm just interested, because every picture we've shown so far seems to show police officials and negotiators and coming to the scene, et cetera, et cetera. I know all types of both municipal, state, and federal agency have now or are making their way to the scene.
I'm wondering how many of the civilians are still in the area aside from reporters who is left there? Paul Courson, one of our producers, is not far from the scene himself. Paul, what do you know?
PAUL COURSON, CNN PRODUCER (via telephone): About a block and a half from the front lobby of the Discovery Building is my location right now, Rick. Quite a few people from the local area, not necessarily from the Discovery Office Complex, but from the local area have congregated on all four street corners where police are still allowing folks, on this side of the police tape in other words.
And they're milling around, they're sharing stories about what did you see, when did you see it, that sort of thing. And there isn't too much first-hand knowledge here at the curb about what went on and how long ago all of this happened.
What we got, of course, was from the police briefing, the Montgomery County police chief telling us what we're able to piece together here. The Prince George's County Bomb Squad has joined us in the time since I last talked to you, Rick. They've joined U.S. Capitol Police's bomb containment truck.
Capitol Police also sent a remote controlled robot that has the camera and the articulated arm that can be used to move a package or do whatever needs to be done by remote control. It has not yet been deployed. It's still here near the police line where I'm located right now.
SANCHEZ: I'm just curious. I still haven't gotten a straight answer on this question, but this so-called explosive device that Mr. Lee has on him, is this a -- something he's carrying? Is it describable? He wearing it? Do we know? I seem to have heard a lot of different versions of this throughout the day.
COURSON: Well, from the reported descriptions we've had, it sounds like it is something transportable, something that you could carry. I have not heard anything about it being strapped to this person. You, yourself, have heard the description of it being metallic looking in nature. That could be anything from an aluminum briefcase - one of those aluminum briefcases -- or something more elaborate. Who knows?
But the response at this end, the law enforcement end, is to prepare for the worst. That includes a large bomb containment truck that should be able to handle anything that you would think someone would be able to carry. SANCHEZ: Well, you know, we cross our fingers and hope they're able to bring this thing to an end without --
COURSON: That they don't need it.
SANCHEZ: Yes. Obviously. How big an area have they cordoned off? How wide is the potential area of impact for this explosive, at least according to how police are dealing with civilians and media in the area?
COURSON: Those are two different questions, Rick, because the explosive force you'd have to know what he's got --
COURSON: We don't know that. We also know he has firearms and the projectile that could be shot by an unknown type of weapon could go pretty far. That's why we've been pushed back at least a block- and-a-half.
The area cordoned off encircles the Discovery Building which itself is a fairly large, high-rise building in the middle of a metropolitan area. It's very densely developed down here with a number of high rise building. We can see sharp shooters, police -- law enforcement sharp shooters on the roofs of the other high rise buildings near the Discovery building. We ourselves are shielded by a building on the way to being able to see the Discovery building itself, but on the top of the building, I can se a sharp shooter right now watching carefully.
SANCHEZ: Yes, and I imagine some of those sharp shooters -- trained snipers, many of them, would be able to use -- if the decision is made, to just take him out because the negotiations aren't progressing.
What a story. Brianna Keilar has gotten her way to - in front of a camera now. She's there at the scene following this as well. Brianna, what are you hearing from sources there?
KEILAR: Here we go!
SANCHEZ: Brianna Keilar standing by. You hear her now getting in front of the camera. Brianna, Rick Sanchez. You're on here on RICK'S LIST. What are you hearing from your sources there about how these negotiations and this operation is progressing?
KELIAR: At this point, police aren't talking about the specifics of the negotiations, Rick. What we understand from one of the police officials here is that they have been communicating with the gunman via telephone. But when it comes down to specifics, they are holding it very close to the vest, not talking about it, obviously because they feel it wouldn't be prudent to disclose any of those specifics about the negotiations.
Let me just give you a sense of where we are. We're about a block away from the Discovery building. It is an L-shaped building, so even though I know it may look like two buildings, it is one here. As you look off into the distance there, you can see the words Discovery on the building. That area is where the main entrance is located on the ground floor.
And this, according to police officials on the scene, is where this man walked in about 1:00 p.m. Eastern with canisters strapped to the front of him, to the back of him, metallic canisters is how they've been described, waving a handgun and telling people they needed to stay still.
At this point there are 1,900 employees inside the building. They went through a different process of kind of sheltering in place and ultimately evacuating. But what we know right now, and you've been reporting, Rick, is there are a small number of hostages. So obviously more than one. We don't know exactly how many hostages. We don't know what their identities are.
We've been told that, you know, so far there are no injuries. And one of the main concerns, Rick, was this is all going on on the first floor. There is a daycare on the first floor. It has been evacuated. Police authorities -- police officials tell us they believe they were able to get all of the children out. But obviously that was a huge concern for a lot of parents and just anyone who's watching and realizing what a sensitive situation that would be, Rick.
SANCHEZ: Do you feel safe there, given that the man has some kind of explosive? What is being -- I mean, I know as reporters we put ourselves in these situations and we have to cover these stories. But --there you see him by the way, taking the children out of the daycare center. Cute children being taken out in their little cribs and playpens.
But what are police telling you? What are they telling reporters that are coming to the scene, given the fact that they're dealing with a situation with some kind of explosives, and we don't know the impact of the power of those explosives might be?
KEILAR: No, they haven't been able to tell us the specifics other than that they are canisters strapped to this -- to the front and back of this man. So, they say there are some of these details they're not telling us because they just don't know the facts. You know, they are still finding out some information themselves. And also that they are not telling us some information because they don't want to disclose all of it for the purposes of their investigation.
SANCHEZ: We were told that they're going to have a news conference that might be coming up hopefully before 5:00 -- 5:00 at the latest. It almost sounded -- it almost sounded -- when I believe -- you tell me -- I think that officer, that deputy's name was Starkel, when he came out and said we hope to have this thing concluded by 5:00. You wonder what he meant by that, right? But you heard him say that too, didn't you?
KEILAR: Yes, that was captain Paul Starks with Montgomery County -
KEILAR: -- Police. I don't remember exactly what he said about that, but it sounded like what he was saying was they're going to be giving -- I don't know how much we can read into that, Rick. Because it sounded to me like they were saying, look, we're going to be giving you regular updates, and the next one is going to be at 5:00 p.m. We don't have much new information.
If there is new information we will come and tell it to you before 5:00 p.m. But otherwise, that's when you're going to be hearing from us.
SANCHEZ: I see. I see. Yes.
KEILAR: I don't know how much you can read into that that they were hoping they'd be able to wrap things up. They're not commenting on the exact status of the negotiations and whether they're going well or even anything general like that.
SANCHEZ: Well, hey. Thanks, Brianna. Thanks so much. I think your interpretation of it is probably closer to what he probably was saying than what I had taken from it. We're going to get right back you to.
Let me bring Tom Fuentes back into the picture here. Tom, what do you make of these sharp shooters surrounding this building now? What does that mean? What are they there for? How are they used?
FUENTES: Right. That's standard practice. What they're doing -- actually their primary role is as observers. They're looking through those scopes. They work as teams. And they put themselves in a position to obtain the best observation post to observe the crisis site from all angles.
And what their job is to be reporting back into the command post exactly what they see. If they can determine where the subject is at, what he's wearing, what those devices do look like and how he is carrying them around, does he have a gun? Does he have others with him? Are there -- how many hostages? Where are they? Are they on the floor? Is he right next to them? All of that type of information if they can see it. If they can se his whereabouts, will be going in. And also they're observing the building from all angles just in case, you know, someone else evacuates.
You know, one of the things that comes up in a situation like this is that people get scared and there may be still people upstairs hiding under desks or in closets or in, you know, air ducts. Who knows, who have been afraid to move and afraid to come out, and maybe somebody decides they're going to come out. So, they're also in a position to observe that and get that information back to the commanders, everything that they see.
SANCHEZ: We should mention to our viewers, especially those that may be joining us just now getting home from work, that the Discovery Channel building, itself, has been evacuated, according to police. However, there is a caveat to this, and it's a rather important caveat. Police are also telling us they cannot confirm that everybody has gotten out of the building. So, to Tom's point, they can't actually confirm at this point that the building is actually empty with the exception of the police officials surrounding the building, the gunman himself, and the hostages he has taken down in the lobby. So, we'll work our way through some of this information as well.
Tom Fuentes, you should know, has plenty of experience with what he is talking about. He is former FBI and now serves as one of our most able contributors and analysts as we deal with stories like this on an ongoing basis here at CNN.
We'll stay on it. We'll take a quick break and come back in a couple minutes. Stay with us. You're watching RICK'S LIST here on CNN.
SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez. Here we go.
Try to get the latest on what's going on with this situation. This is the Discovery building in -- just outside of Washington, D.C. It's in Montgomery County, Maryland. And in that building, about 1:00 p.m. Eastern time today, a man walked in. The man's name is James Lee. And he threatened with waving a handgun, according to police, while at the same time exhibiting what seems to be metallic objects that police are treating as if they are explosives.
This is now a full-blown hostage situation, and police are certainly treating it as such. They have agencies that are cooperating now coming in from all parts of the D.C. area as well as state and federal agents who have now come in to assist in what is being described as the negotiation process.
The first thing they did was try to isolate the man. Unfortunately, he is isolated in an area where there are other people, hostages in this case. Then they tried to contain the building and surrounding area, which they did by evacuating the building itself.
Now they have established communication with this man, James Lee, and they are negotiating with him. They've been negotiating with him now for the better part of almost two hours. To what avail, we don't know. Police have been very careful about what to say about those negotiations, but we have some experts here with us ourselves. Chris Voss for example who is a former hostage negotiator who is joining us now to bring us up to date on how that process may be going.
Chris, at what point do you start to tire, if at all, when you are the person who has to have the constant communication with this fellow?
VOSS: Well, you can stay pretty focused for -- and stay on the line for a good four to six hours with him. They're getting a lot of support from the other negotiators there helping him, and quite frankly, this is what a negotiator is trained for. He is prepared to rise to this occasion. They've had a lot of practice in the past and are ready to stay on the line and really get to what is bothering someone and get him to let you know what it takes to get him to come out. Every negotiator accepts the fact that it is going to take hours to get there.
SANCHEZ: That's interesting the way you just phrased that. Get him to let you know what it's going to take to get him out of there. What do you mean by that?
VOSS: Well, we've always had the saying you have to question what's it going to take to get him out? He's going to tell you, but it's between the lines. It's reading the -- when he hesitates, when he answers a question, or when he answers a question more quickly. Changing the tone of his voice. The specific wording he might choose.
Which is why it's a team sport as you will. It's a team endeavor. Because there are so many things that a person says to themselves by their word choice that it probably takes four or five people to listen to it just to hear everything and get it all right.
SANCHEZ: Really? So, the people monitoring as well will then come back to you and say, you know, "He just said such and such. Go back on that because we may be able to work him there. Is that what you're saying?
VOSS: Yes. They'll hand the negotiator (AUDIO GAP). Certain people in the negotiation team will be listening for certain types of things. And when they hear those things they'll write them down. And a picture begins to emerge, if you listen to everything, of what is really driving this person and what they're really after. And hopefully, ultimately, what it's going to take to get him to come out.
SANCHEZ: Given what you've heard so far -- I don't know if you've been privy to our reports or read part of his manifesto -- the things he seems to believe in. For example that, you know, the Malthusian (ph) plan, we need to stop procreating so much. We need to stop having babies and allow the planet to have more animals in it, etcetera, etcetera. Does he sound to you like someone you've ever dealt with before? And if so, how do you deal with people with ideas like this?
VOSS: Well, this is a guy who feels isolated and misunderstood. And that's where a negotiator can really make a connection. Because his focus is on something other than people, so he feels that he's been left out.
He's probably been disappointed. Things haven't worked out the way in his life he'd like to. May have picked the Discovery Channel because he wanted to help them and contribute to what they were doing, and that didn't work out for him. So, it's a guy that really feels alone and isolated. And he's hurt and he's angry.
SANCHEZ: So you say to a guy like this, what?
VOSS: Well, you know, you start out by saying, what's this all about? Why are we here today? What happened that caused this to be necessary?
And then you really listen to him. There is a pretty good chance -- he's obviously, with his protest and his manifesto, he has been telling people and nobody has been listening. What he's done up to now has caused him to take this step because he can't get anybody to listen to him. So the negotiators are there to lend that ear to make a difference.
SANCHEZ: So he's finally got someone to listen to him, albeit at the point of a gun or explosives. So now it's up to that listener, in this case you in the past, or a negotiator, to literally hear him out and give what, credence to some of his arguments so he doesn't fly off the handle?
VOSS: No, at different times while you're listening you want to hear what he's actually saying. And part of the negotiator's job is to be a sounding board. And so when you hear things that don't add up, you say to the person you're talking to -- you say, listen, you said this, but you also said this, and these are contradictions. You're going to have to help me understand that.
So as a sounding board you help them see what it is they're really saying. And when you get to the point that they can't explain, ideally those are the tipping points to help bring somebody out.
SANCHEZ: That's fascinating, Chris. A fascinating job that you've held. I can only imagine how careful you have to be with your choice of words.
Are you thinking through the possibility that you don't want to say something that's going to set this guy off and amplify the situation?
VOSS: Yes, absolutely. And that's why you practice it.
The more hours spent in practice, the better you are when you're actually doing the job. So the negotiators practice and work together quite a lot. They spend an awful lot of time being careful of word choice.
And so there's probably 10 or 15 words that negotiators are never going to use on the phone, and that's another thing that the rest of the negotiation team listens for when you're talking with him, is what are the things that get a really negative response for him? And you add to that list and you add to those ideas when you're talking with him on the phone.
SANCHEZ: Chris, thanks so much.
As we go to break, I want to show you one thing, because as we have this conversation with Chris Voss -- and by the way, isn't it interesting to listen to somebody describe exactly what the process is like from the inside out, someone like Chris Voss, who has actually been a negotiator -- let me just show you these ominous words that are written by James Lee on his Facebook page. He has his picture there, wearing what looks like some kind of Maoist uniform. I'm not sure what it is. But it looks like a uniform, the dark cap and the exact uniform-like shirt.
And then look what he writes to the right of that. This is Lee saying as we go to break, "It's time for revolution."
SANCHEZ: Part of what makes this story so -- welcome back, by the way, everyone. I'm Rick Sanchez here, doing RICK'S LIST for you, which tonight has changed, obviously. We're very focused on this situation involving this gunman who seems to have explosives on him and is in the lobby of the Discovery Channel building.
And one of the most fascinating parts of the story is that this is a man who seems to have a real cause that he is very much tied to. In fact, has been tied to for many years.
You hear of a lot of people who have causes. This particular person's cause is saving the planet. But it's how he goes about it, in a very unique way, even beyond what he's doing here today, by endangering the lives of people stuck in a building with explosives, waving a handgun with hostages. But what he actually says in his writings, in his manifesto that have certainly perked our curiosity and yours as well -- I've been reading a lot a lot of your tweets about this, and let me go to my colleagues now, Brooke Baldwin and Josh Levs, who have been reading through this manifesto and trying to kind of make sense of it.
Guys, take it away. Take our viewers, if you would, through what this James Lee seems to want or stand for.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I've actually been reading an old newspaper article. You hit the manifesto --
BALDWIN: -- on the fly on the air, Rick. And then I'll hit on something else.
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK. That's good. So here is the thing.
I'm going to tell everyone, in case you haven't heard us talk about it yet, we understand that we definitely do not want to be out here giving you his entire manifesto. When someone does something, you don't want to use that as an excuse to have all their words out there.
That said, we're reporters. We are looking at what's in the mentality of this person. And it is striking, and there's some information you should know about the way that he thinks.
So, this manifesto that is online, very long and very wordy, it gives some insight into why he would choose Discovery Channel. I'm going to read you one part of it right here.
He says, "All programs on Discovery Health TLC must stop encouraging the birth of any more parasitic human infants and the false heroics behind those actions. And those programs places (ph) programs encouraging human sterilization and infertility must be pushed."
And what he has a really extensive layout. It is a manifesto of his own. It's his way of explaining his view of the world.
He refers a lot to Darwin, to Malthus, who you might not be familiar with, Thomas Malthus, a thinker, whom I haven't read but is a thinker who wrote about challenges that the Earth could face if there's too many people and the Earth can't support it. So this guy, Lee, has then taken Darwin and Malthus and developed his own theories about the world and decided that people having babies is going to destroy the universe, and people should be sterilized and stop doing it.
And it's that thinking that seems to be the passion that drives throughout all of this. There is a lot of hate, a lot of anger, a lot of fury. And this is why as soon as I saw it, the first thing I wanted to know is that all of the kids in that building are safe, and they are.
So that's my look at the manifesto. But Brooke, I know you've been looking at other things as well.
BALDWIN: So I found this newspaper article, Rick Sanchez, that I thought was interesting. It was from "The Gazette, which is a Maryland newspaper, and it was from a month after that big rally that this guy held in front of the Discovery Channel headquarters.
And so at this rally, he, according to this report, was handing out all of this money, this cash. And he was handing it to homeless people to kind of throw it up in the air. And he was arrested for doing that.
And apparently, according to that judge -- he was told by the judge at the time he would be thrown in jail for up to 60 days if he came within 500 feet of the building. And further down in this article, if you read it, there is actually a security officer from the building who said, "Every day the rally seemed to be getting more crazy. I was disturbed. I was concerned about public safety."
One final note, according to this article in "The Gazette," according to District court records, Lee was released March 5th of 2008. He says he has since been living at a homeless shelter run by Progress Place in Silver Spring.
I picked up the phone. I called Progress Place. They said they had no recollection of him, no record of him staying there. Just perhaps some record of him signing up to receive mail, but no one knows -- I keep trying -- no one knows who this guy is.
LEVS: I will tell you this, and this is very clear in what Brooke is saying and clear in the manifesto, and in what we're hearing from experts, which is this is not someone who kind of seems to randomly want to go out and do some sort of act of violence. What we are seeing here is someone with a theory and believes that what his theory is, is something that would be good for the Earth.
And it's that that we're hearing, Rick, authorities trying to plug into to understand, to understand what the thought process is to try to build that communication and bring this to an end.
SANCHEZ: A paradoxical theory, while it may be, and certainly on this night a dangerous one as well.
The situation is ongoing. We're watching it. I want to thank Josh and Brooke for bringing us up to date on that.
It's really beyond interesting what this man seems to believe in and to what lengths he has now taken it by being in this standoff with police, state agents, federal agents at the Discovery Channel building. They are just outside Washington, D.C., with a bomb -- at least what police suspect is a bomb or some type of explosive -- and as one police officer said, waving a handgun.
When we come back, not only this, but the very latest. There's an advisory, an update now on what is going on with Hurricane Earl. I know many of you have been asking me to share that with you, and Chad Myers is standing by, and he's going to diligently do just that.
I'm Rick Sanchez. This is RICK'S LIST. We're going to be right back.
SANCHEZ: Two big stories that we're following for you right now.
Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez, here on RICK'S LIST.
Obviously the situation as it's ongoing now, just outside of Washington, D.C., with a gunman holed up in that building you see right there. He apparently has explosives, ,or police are presuming that he has explosives, say he was waving a gun. He has hostages.
Citizens have been told to back off. The building has been evacuated. Reporters are at about a good block away.
As this develops, we'll keep it in a box for you.
Roger, we'll keep an eye on this, but I want to bring Chad back in, because I understand our friends down at the National Hurricane Center have just put out another advisory on what's going on with Earl which could affect the East Coast of the United States.
SANCHEZ: We understand we've got a news conference coming up now. Police are walking back to the mikes as they've been doing throughout the day. It seems they're getting ready for another press conference.
Here we go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How you doing? In just a few seconds, Chief Manger of the Montgomery County Police Department will make a statement. With him is the chief from Montgomery County Fire and Rescue, Richard Bowers. And also with him is the Montgomery County state's attorney, John McCarthy.
This will be Chief Manger.
CHIEF THOMAS MANGER, MONTGOMERY COUNTY: At approximately 1:00 this afternoon, an Asian male entered the Discovery building in Silver Spring. He had what we believe to be explosive devices strapped to his front and back. He also had a handgun.
There are reports that we've not confirmed yet that he did fire a shot when he came in. He took three people hostage near the lobby area of the entrance to the building.
Over the past several hours, we have been in negotiations with the man. Approximately 10 minutes ago, the suspect was shot by police officers. A device appeared to go off. We haven't confirmed that as of this time. We saw some smoke, ,may have heard a pop, but we haven't confirmed all of that information yet.
The hostages -- there were three hostages. All the hostages are safe and are out of the building.
At this point we are still -- it's still an operation, a joint operation between the police and fire rescue, because there are other suspected devices in the building that have not been rendered safe. And at this point we are -- the operation at this point is to make sure that those devices are rendered safe and removed.
Again, all the hostages were -- got out safely.