The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

February 1, 2013

Negotiators talking to Midland City captor through pipe

(Continued)

The chief confirmed that Dykes held anti-government views, as described by multiple neighbors: "He's against the government — starting with Obama on down."

"He doesn't like law enforcement or the government telling him what to do," he said. "He's just a loner."

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 the 5-year-old boy off the bus.

The bus driver, Charles Albert Poland Jr., 66, was hailed by locals as a hero who gave his life to protect the pupils on his bus.

No motive has been discussed by investigators, but the police chief said the FBI had evidence suggesting it could be considered a hate crime. Federal authorities have not released any details about the standoff or the investigation. The mayor said he hasn't seen anything tying together Dykes' anti-government views and the allegations against him.

Dykes had been scheduled to appear in court Wednesday to answer charges he shot at his neighbors in a dispute last month over a speed bump. Neighbor Claudia Davis said he yelled and fired shots at her, her son and her baby grandson over damage Dykes claimed their pickup truck did to a makeshift speed bump in the dirt road. No one was hurt.

The son, James Davis Jr., believes Tuesday's shooting was connected to the court date. "I believe he thought I was going to be in court and he was going to get more charges than the menacing, which he deserved, and he had a bunch of stuff to hide and that's why he did it."

Neighbors described a number of other run-ins with Dykes in the time since he moved to this small rural town near the Georgia and Florida borders, a region known for peanut farming.

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