The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

February 8, 2013

DA: Motive for Ala. bunker standoff still unclear

— MIDLAND CITY, Ala. (AP) — Authorities may never know why a south Alabama man killed a school bus driver and held a little boy hostage for six days in an underground bunker, a prosecutor said Friday.

Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, wanted to go on live television to make a statement, said District Attorney Kirke Adams, but he never told negotiators exactly what he wanted to say.

"He never let on what his message was going to be," Adams said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Dykes never clearly stated a motive for his actions, Adams said, but the man was due in court the day after the standoff began for a hearing on a menacing case filed in December after he allegedly fired a gun at neighbors.

Still, Adams said, officials aren't sure even the menacing charge was the reason for the standoff.

"We had no contact with him since his arrest before this happened," Adams said.

Neighbors said Dykes often went on rants against the government. A longtime acquaintance, Roger Arnold, said Dykes believed the government used electronic shocks to control the racing dogs at a track he frequented.

Authorities said Dykes fatally shot bus driver Charles Albert Poland Jr., 66, and grabbed a boy identified only as Ethan off the bus, retreating to a handmade underground bunker where he held the child for six days.

Dykes died of what the coroner said were multiple gunshot wounds during an exchange of gunfire with FBI hostage rescuers on Monday. The now-6-year-old boy is safe and back with his family after the ordeal.

Authorities still on the scene of the standoff Friday were digging around Dykes' rural bunker, located at the edge of a farm field. Aerial photos taken by The Associated Press showed workers had partially excavated the small shelter, which neighbors said was made of plywood and lumber lined with masonry blocks.

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