day after a gunman terrorized employees at Discovery Communications headquarters
in Silver Spring, MD, staffers were welcomed back to work Thursday morning by
Discovery president and CEO David Zaslav, COO Peter Ligouri and founder and
chairman John Hendricks. The executives were on hand to greet employees as they
entered the glass-walled lobby, the very place where a gunman, explosives
strapped to his body, held three employees hostage for nearly four hours until
police shot and killed the man.
On Thursday morning, there was coffee, juice and muffins in the lobby. Executives presided over a town hall meeting before sending employees home at about 1 p.m. to get an early start on the long Labor
a sweep of the building for additional explosives Wednesday night. And David
Leavy, Discovery Communications executive VP of communications and corporate
affairs, said the company is reviewing security procedures. But he noted that in
this case "security worked" since the gunman did not make it past
security, but took his hostages - three men, including one security guard
- in the building's lobby, which is open to the public.
One of the
hostages, Jim McNulty, posted a blog on the company's web site thanking
Montgomery County Police for "helping to get me and my fellow hostages
especially want to thank Discovery for their support," he wrote, adding
that he would not talk about his ordeal in detail as the police investigation
Leavy said the
company followed very specific evacuation procedures and worked with
authorities to ensure that employees and the children at the day care center in
the building were quickly and safely evacuated.
"This is a
very organized and disciplined company," he said. "And in this
situation that discipline saved lives."
County police identified the gunman as James J. Lee, a radical
environmentalist who had staged at least one demonstration outside Discovery
headquarters in 2008 for what he believed was the network's dearth of
programming about environmental dangers including global warming and
over-population. During that protest, he paid homeless people to carry signs
and threw wads of cash into the air. News footage of that event -
replayed by ABC Silver Spring affiliate WJLA - shows throngs of people
scrambling for the money. Lee was charged with disorderly conduct and ordered to
stay 500 feet away from Discovery headquarters as part of his probation, which
ended two weeks before the incident.
In court and on his website, Save the Planet Protest, Lee inveighed against
Discovery content including multiple-birth programs Kate Plus 8 and 19
Kids and Counting, which air on TLC. Lee said the network should air
"programs encouraging human sterilization and infertility."
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