The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

February 6, 2013

Military tactics, arms, helped rescue hostage

— Within hours after an armed, angry man shot a school bus driver and kidnapped a 5-year-old boy, workers contracted by the FBI were feverishly unloading boxes packed with percussive grenades, military C-4 explosives and an array of guns from a windowless DC-9 that had landed just miles from the suspect's isolated compound.

Helmeted officers decked out in tan fatigues, camouflage and body armor, many carrying long guns, rumbled in rented cargo trucks to and from the property where 65-year-old Jim Lee Dykes and his young captive were hunkered down in a roughly 6-by-8-foot hand-dug bunker with only one small hatch for an entryway.

Two Humvees belonging to the Dale County Sheriff's Department and a tan, military-style personnel carrier were parked in a field beside the bunker throughout much of the ordeal, along with sport-utility vehicles. Officers dressed in combat-style gear could be seen watching the bunker from an opening in the roof of the tan personnel vehicle.

And as the standoff stretched into days, drones flew large, lazy circles high above the scene at night.

In many ways, the scene resembled more of a war-time situation than a domestic crime scene as civilian law enforcement relied heavily on military tactics and equipment to end the six-day ordeal.

As it turned out, authorities' decision to rely on every tool at their disposal was a wise one: Dykes had planted an explosive device in a ventilation pipe he'd told negotiators to use to communicate with him on his property in the rural Alabama community of Midland City, and also placed another explosive device inside the bunker, the FBI said in a statement late Tuesday.

Dykes appears to have "reinforced the bunker against any attempted entry by law enforcement," FBI agent Jason Pack said in the statement.

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