James Lee, Discovery Channel Gunman's Protest Past

James Lee seen at an anti-war rally in front of the White House the day before the Obama Inauguration in 2009. On September 1, 2010, Lee held three people hostage at the Discovery Channel in Silver Spring, Md.
Shepherd Johnson
He was the most vocal protester at an anti-war rally that marched from Washington D.C.'s DuPont Circle on the last day of the Bush administration, January 19, 2009. But James J. Lee's message that day seemed a little bit off.

Amid the signs for anti-war groups like Veterans for Peace and Code Pink, he held aloft a sign that seemed a little off-message and covered with human skulls. It read: "The Hell with the Troops. Disarm them and make them CLEAN UP DEPLETED URANIUM."

"People thought that he was strange. Or that he was a plant, someone to make it look like the anti-war people were anti-troop protesters," said Shepherd Johnson, a Virginia native who was also marching that day. Johnson snapped  pictures of Lee because, "he had a weird sign and had a loud bullhorn."

Johnson did a double take last Wednesday when news reports identified Lee as the man who had taken hostage three employees at the Discovery Channel at gunpoint and threatened to detonate explosive devices inside the company's headquarters in Silver Spring, MD.

Lee was shot and killed by a Maryland SWAT team and the hostages escaped unharmed. Several explosive devices were disarmed at the Discovery building and later at Lee's home. Local law enforcement officials announced the day after the incident that Lee had been brandishing a non-lethal starter pistol.

When Johnson shot the photos back in 2009, Lee was marching alone and shouting loudly into his megaphone. "People who were with Veterans for Peace were telling bystanders, 'he's not with us.'" Johnson said he felt a little uneasy when he realized it was the same guy because the protest that day ended up in front of the White House. In the photos you can clearly see the viewing stand on Pennsylvania Avenue where President Obama and his family stood the next day to watch the inaugural parade.

See James Lee in the YouTube Video Below.
  • Michael Rey

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