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Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manager said officers have been negotiating with a man in the building.
Manager said there are no injuries reported. He declined to name the suspect, but the Associated Press reported that he was James Lee, citing a law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
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“Around 1 p.m. today, a man entered the Discovery building through the main entrance at Wayne and Georgia,” Manager said. “He was wearing what appeared to be metallic canister devices on his front and back. He also pulled a handgun out and was waving a handgun.”
Manager said he cannot confirm reports that a shot or shots were fired. He said he could not confirm the number of hostages but it was “a small number.”
“We have an ongoing hostage situation that we are dealing with,” he said. “There are just under 1,900 employees that work in that building. We believe most of them are out.”
He said a day-care facility on the first floor of the building was evacuated and all children are accounted for.
“We’re at this point still negotiating with him, trying to get him to release the hostages and surrender peacefully,” Manager said.
Hundreds of people were outside the building, and police had placed crime scene tape around a wide perimeter. Police gave an evacuation order for the building after a phone call tip that came in at 1 p.m. ET indicating that a man with a weapon and possibly explosives was inside, county police spokeswoman Angela Cruz said
Jennifer Manvilla, 28, a royalty and contracts management specialist with Discovery’s finance division, said she was working on the fifth floor when employees came through the office with instructions to move to offices with locked doors
She said she and two other employees moved to a senior vice president’s office when an announcement came on the speaker system instructing them to get into rooms with locked doors and turn off the lights
Manvilla said she and the two others stayed in the room for about 20 minutes until instructed again on the speaker system to take designated stairways outside.
Neha Shah, a senior accountant for Discovery’s education division, said she was warming her lunch on the fifth floor when everything happened.
“First, we weren’t taking it seriously,” said Shah, 26. “But then, we realized when they told us to get into the locked rooms, something was going on. It’s a relief to be outside the building. I hope it ends well and no one gets hurt. It’s pretty scary.”
Shah said she called her parents to tell them she was OK. She said employees were told they would not be allowed back into the building today.
Contributing: Doug Stanglin and Melanie Eversley in McLean, Va.; Associated Press.