The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

February 1, 2013

Negotiators talking to Midland City captor through pipe



MIDLAND CITY, Ala. (AP) — More than three days after he allegedly shot a school bus driver dead, grabbed a kindergartner and slipped into an underground bunker, Jimmy Lee Dykes was showing no signs Friday of turning himself over to police.

Speaking into a 4-inch-wide ventilation pipe leading to the bunker, hostage negotiators have tried to talk the 65-year-old retired truck driver into freeing the 5-year-old boy. One local official said the child had been crying for his parents.

Dykes is accused of pulling the boy from a school bus Tuesday and killing the driver who tried to protect the 21 youngsters aboard. The gunman and the boy were holed up in a small room on his property that authorities likened to a tornado shelter, something common to this area of the South.

"The three past days have not been easy on anybody," Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson said at a news briefing late Thursday. He said authorities were communicating with the suspect, and their primary goal was to get the boy home safely.

"There's no reason to believe the child has been harmed," he added.

There were signs that the standoff could continue for some time.

James Arrington, police chief of the neighboring town of Pinckard, said the shelter was about 4 feet underground, with about 6-by-8 feet of floor space and a PVC pipe that negotiators were speaking through.

A state legislator said the shelter has electricity, food and TV. The police chief said the captor has been sleeping and told negotiators that he has spent long periods in the shelter before.

"He will have to give up sooner or later because (authorities) are not leaving," Arrington said. "It's pretty small, but he's been known to stay in there eight days."

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