The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

January 31, 2013

Negotiators talking to Ala. 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 said the FBI, which was leading the standoff, had reason to believe that the bus driver's shooting was a hate crime.

"He doesn't like law enforcement or the government telling him what to do," Arrington 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 a 5-year-old boy off the bus.

"As far as we know there is no relation at all. He just wanted a child for a hostage situation," said Michael Senn, a pastor who helped comfort other traumatized children after the attack.

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.

The bus driver, Charles Albert Poland Jr., 66, was hailed by locals as a hero who gave his life to protect the 21 students aboard the bus. Authorities say most of the students scrambled to the back of the bus when the gunman boarded.

Neighbors described a number of run-ins with Dykes in the time since he moved to this small town near the Georgia and Florida borders, in a region known for peanut farming. Dykes had been scheduled to appear in court to answer charges he shot at his neighbors in a dispute last month over a speed bump.

In that dispute, 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.

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