The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

January 30, 2013

UPDATE: Police still in standoff with man who took boy from bus

— MIDLAND CITY, Ala. (AP) — Police SWAT teams and hostage negotiators were locked in a standoff Wednesday with a gunman authorities say intercepted a school bus, killed the driver, snatched a 6-year-old boy and retreated into a bunker at his home with the kindergartener.

The gunman, identified by neighbors as Jimmy Lee Dykes, a 65-year-old retired truck driver, was known 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.

He had been scheduled to appear in court Wednesday morning to answer charges he shot at his neighbors in a dispute last month over a speed bump.

The standoff dragged on through the night and into the afternoon Wednesday after the gunman boarded a stopped school bus filled with children in the small town of Midland City, population 2,300, on Tuesday afternoon, authorities said.

Sheriff Wally Olsen said the man shot the bus driver when he refused to hand over a 6-year-old child. The gunman then took the kindergartener away.

Dykes was believed to be holed up with the boy in an underground bunker of the sort used to take shelter from a tornado.

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

The bus driver, Charles Albert Poland Jr., 66, was hailed by locals as a hero who gave his life to protect 21 students.

About 50 vehicles from federal, state and local agencies were clustered Wednesday at the end of a dirt road near Dykes' home. Authorities gave no details on the standoff, and it was unclear whether they were in contact with Dykes or he had made any demands.

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