The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

January 31, 2013

Child hostage standoff in 2nd day at bunker



MIDLAND CITY, Ala. (AP) — A standoff in rural Alabama went into a second full day Thursday as police surrounded an underground bunker where a retired truck driver was holding a 5-year-old hostage he grabbed off a school bus after shooting the driver dead.

A normally quiet dirt road was teeming with activity around the siege that began late Tuesday. At least a dozen police cars and trucks, a fire truck, a helicopter, officers from multiple agencies, media and at least one ambulance crowded the stretch where the dead-end residential road branches off a U.S. highway near Midland City, population 2,300. A staging area for law enforcement was lit by bright lights overnight.

The boy being held was watching TV and getting medication sent from home, according to state Rep. Steve Clouse, who met with authorities and visited the boy's family. Clouse said the bunker had food and electricity.

Authorities lowered medicine into the bunker for the boy after his captor agreed to it, Clouse said.

The gunman, identified by neighbors as Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, was known around the neighborhood as a menacing figure who once beat a dog to death with a lead pipe, threatened to shoot children for setting foot on his property and patrolled his yard at night with a flashlight and a shotgun.

Authorities say the gunman boarded a stopped school bus Tuesday afternoon and demanded two boys between 6 and 8 years old. When the driver tried to block his way, the gunman shot him several times and took a 5-year-old boy off the bus.

Dykes had been scheduled to appear in court Wednesday to face a charge of menacing some neighbors with a gun as they drove by his house weeks ago.

Homes on the road had been evacuated earlier after authorities found what they believed to be a bomb on the property. SWAT teams took up positions around the gunman's property and police negotiators tried to win the kindergartener's safe release.

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