Former Bladeemployee givesharrowing account oour-hour standof
By LOU CHIBBARO JR.firstname.lastname@example.org
A gay man who was one othree hostages held at the Dis-covery Channel headquartersin Silver Spring, Md., on Sept. 1used hand signals to initiate hisand a ellow hostage’s escapeseconds beore police shot andkilled a gunman who threatenedto blow up the building.Christopher B. Wood, 25, aormer Washington Blade em-ployee who works as a marketingspecialist with Discovery Com-munications, gave a harrowingaccount o his our-hour ordealin captivity at the hands o a dis-turbed gunman that has attract-ed national media coverage.Seconds ater Wood and Dis-covery Channel producer JimMcNulty ran or the exit door in aplan orchestrated by hand sig-nals between Wood, McNulty,and a security guard who wasalso held hostage, memberso a police swat team shot andkilled the gunman, James Lee.Authorities described Lee as adisturbed “environmental extrem-ist” who believed the DiscoveryChannel was broadcasting harm-ul programs that would worsenglobal warming and other envi-ronmental problems.In an interview with the Blade,Wood explained how he wasable to clandestinely respond toa text message that a co-workersent him rom outside the build-ing. Wood said the text messagecame at a time when he be-lieved he would likely die at thehands o the gunman, who hadexplosives strapped to his body.“Please tell Mark I love him,”Wood told co-worker CarlosGutierrez in a text message re-erring to Wood’s partner.About two hours later, whilethinking o his partner Mark andother loved ones while beingorced to lie ace down on a mar-ble oor in the Discovery building’slobby, Wood said his right andanxiety began to change to anger.“I started to think in myhead…no, this is not the waythis is going to end,” he toldthe Blade in discussing histhoughts o a plan to escape.“I’m not going to die here on theoor. I’m not going to let some-body take over my lie and tellme when I’m going to die.”According to Wood and ac-counts by authorities, both Woodand ellow hostage McNulty walkedinto the Discovery building lobbyshortly ater returning rom theirlunch break about 1 p.m. on Sept.1. McNulty said he saw Lee point-ing his gun at the building’s lobbysecurity guard and initially thoughtthe two were actors participatingin the flming o a movie until Leepointed the gun at him and orderedhim to lie ace down on the oor.Wood said he frst noticedMcNulty lying on the oor whenhe entered the lobby minuteslater and thought McNulty wasill and wondered why some-one wasn’t helping him. Beorehe could take more than a ewsteps, Wood said Lee pointedthe gun at him and ordered himto lie on the oor.During their our hours in cap-tivity, Lee orced Wood and Mc-Nulty to remain on the oor ex-cept or times when he orderedthem to stand and answer hisquestions about the plight o theearth, Wood said. Wood saidthe security guard remainedat a desk where there was aphone that police hostage ne-gotiators used to talk to Lee onand o throughout his stay inthe building’s lobby.Wood said he sized up Lee’sstate o mind ater hearing himtalk to the negotiators through aspeakerphone, where both par-ties could be heard.“[T]he negotiator was askinghow the hostages were,” saidWood. “And he kept saying, ‘Idon’t care about these hostag-es. I don’t care i they die. I don’tcare about them. I just careabout what I want…I I blow upit will take all o them with me.”Wood said that Lee “ranted”at McNulty ater asking McNultyi he had kids. When McNultytold him he had two children Leeshouted that having children con-tributes to overpopulation, whichis destroying the natural environ-ment, according to an accountby McNulty in media interviews.When Lee called Wood overto the guard’s desk to questionhim, Wood said he had deter-mined he would try to say aslittle as possible to avoid an-tagonizing Lee.“So the gunman [said], ‘Standup, you stand up. Put your hands onthe desk,’” Wood said. “I walked upover to the desk, put my hands onthe desk. And he [said], ‘He looksfne. Look at him, young, healthy.’”From that point on, Wood said,Lee allowed him and McNulty toremain standing. It was at thattime that Wood noticed the guardmaking subtle gestures thatWood thought suggested that heand McNulty should attempt to“make a run or it.”“I looked at the guard,” saidWood. “I fnally got his attentionand I mouthed the word ‘run.’And he shook his head yes.And so I then turned my bodytrying to get Jim’s attention.”Ater what seemed like an eter-nity, Wood said, McNulty looked to-ward him “and I mouthed the word‘run.’ He shook his head yes.”Wood said he then begancounting down with his fngersto McNulty with his body turnedso that Lee could not see his fn-gers counting down rom threeto one, when the two would boltor the door.“And as soon as the gunmanlooked down toward the nego-tiator [on a speaker phone] Idropped my arms and ran tothe same door that I came in,”he said, noting that he heard thesound o a “pop.”Although he did not witness it,Wood learned later the sound heheard was the frst o several shotsfred by the Montgomery Countypolice swat team. Police said mem-bers o the swat team, who enteredthe building earlier and were readyto rush into the lobby, shot Lee sev-eral times, killing him instantly.“I’m not sure what the nextchapter holds,” Wood said. ButI will say that I have a wholenew perspective on lie. I wentrom dying and thinking I wasdead to making a decision tolive, making the decision to bethe one that got us out o theresaely and ran and made the ini-tial stand. And my lie will neverbe the same.”
Caretaker, animal rescue groupcall or police investigation
By LOU CHIBBARO JR.email@example.com
A gay D.C. police ofcer and a gay caretakero a dog named Parrot have become involved ina highly emotional dispute ollowing the ofcer’sdecision to shoot the dog beore dozens o by-standers at D.C.’s annual Adams Morgan Dayestival on Sept. 12.Dale Edwin Sanders, an attorney represent-ing Ofcer Scott Fike, said extensive mediacoverage o the incident has ailed to report thatFike is a dog lover assigned to the department’scanine unit and takes home each night one othe unit’s German Shepherds.“He’s being portrayed as a monster by blog-gers and it’s totally unair,” Sanders said. “He’sthe last person in the world to shoot a dog i itwasn’t absolutely necessary.”But Dupont Circle resident Aaron Block, 25,who was caring or Parrot through a dog ostercare program run by the local volunteer groupLucky Dog Animal Rescue, told the Blade thatFike shot and killed the dog without justifcationater Parrot and a poodle being walked by awoman got into a fght on the street.Fike said he isn’t authorized to speak to themedia and reerred a reporter to Sanders orcomment. The owner o the poodle, Adams Mor-gan resident Sheila Martins-Silva, could not bereached.John Valentine, an attorney representing Lucky
This screen capture shows the text messages that Chris Wood was able to send duringthe time he was held hostage at Discovery’s headquarters earlier this month. Mark ishis partner.
2 washingtonblade.com • september 24, 2010
Gay hostage initiated escape at Discovery
Continues on page 16
was held hostage or our hours with two other men on Sept. 1 by JamesLee, who was killed in the stando.
Photo courtesy of Chris Wood
Gay cop says shooting dog was necessary
Visit washingtonblade.comfor a full transcript of ourinterview with Chris Wood.