James Lee, Discovery Channel Gunman, was Human Smuggler, Says Report

James Lee (Personal Photo)

NEW YORK (CBS) James Lee, the gunman police shot to death after he took hostages at Discovery Channel's headquarters in Maryland, was a convicted human trafficker and was imprisoned after trying to smuggle illegal immigrants from Mexico to the U.S.

PICTURES: Who Was James Lee?

According to court documents obtained by ABC News, Lee was arrested in 2003 trying to smuggle a woman in a hidden compartment of his car through the San Ysidro border into southern California.

In a written confession detailed in the documents, Lee claims he was forced to become a human trafficker after being choked and robbed in a Tijuana, Mexico hotel.

"There I was in a Tijuana hotel being further subjected to more of life's brutality," the 43-year-old wrote to a judge in August 2003, reports ABC News, "[T]hen they offered me work. I had nothing left so I tried it. I started to smuggle people for them."

On Wednesday afternoon, police say Lee burst into the Discovery Channel's headquarters in Silver Spring, Md and took hostages in the lobby on the first floor. A gun wasn't his only weapon, as an explosive device on his body detonated when police shot him. Authorities later sent in a robot to disarm a device on the gunman's body.

Police say Lee hated several Discovery Channel programming shows such as "Kate Plus 8" because they promote population growth and its environmental programming because it did little to save the planet.

Three hostages - two Discovery Communications employees and a security guard - escaped unhurt after the four-hour standoff in Silver Spring, just outside Washington, D.C.

Complete Coverage of James Lee at Crimesider