The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

February 5, 2013

Despite horror, Ala. child hostage seems OK

(Continued)

"I never went through anything so horrible," she said.

On Monday, authorities said Dykes had a gun and appeared increasingly agitated, though it's unclear exactly how his behavior changed. Negotiations — the details of which have not been made public — were deteriorating. Agents stormed the bunker, whisking the boy to safety and leaving Dykes dead.

Neighbors said they heard what sounded like explosions and gunshots, though the FBI and local authorities would not confirm if shots were fired or explosives detonated.

A law enforcement official in Midland City, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Dykes was killed by law enforcement agents. The official requested anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation.

However, Dale County Coroner Woodrow Hilboldt said Tuesday that he had not been able to confirm exactly how Dykes died because the man's body remained in the bunker. An autopsy was to be conducted in Montgomery once the body is taken away.

It also wasn't clear how authorities knew Dykes was armed, or what kind of surveillance they used to track his behavior and movement.

At the request of law enforcement authorities, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta had approved the provision of certain equipment that could be employed to assist in the hostage situation, according to a U.S. official who requested anonymity to discuss a pending law enforcement matter. It is not clear whether the equipment was actually used.

In Midland City, a town of about 2,400 nestled among peanut and cotton fields, residents were relieved that the boy was safely rescued from Dykes, a man neighbors described as an unstable menace who beat a dog to death and threatened to shoot trespassers.

Children and teachers were trying to get back to normal, though some children who were on the bus where Dykes killed the driver have not yet returned to school, said Donny Bynum, superintendent of Midland City schools. Counselors and clergy are at the school to help any distraught students.

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