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Terrifying ordeal of Alabama boy held hostage in underground bunker by Jimmy Lee Dykes
More from UK
- Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, allegedly stormed a school bus when it stopped to let off students and said he had to take two children hostage
- When driver Charles Poland Jr, 66, tried to stop Dykes, the gunman allegedly opened fire and killed him
- Dykes took an autistic boy, 5, with him and retreated to a makeshift bunker he dug in the ground
- Boy is watching TV and has received medications through a PVC pipe that sticks out of the ground and runs into the fortified hovel
By Michael Zennie and Rachel Quigley
PUBLISHED: 10:15 EST, 31 January 2013 | UPDATED: 17:59 EST, 1 February 2013
Mugshot: Police source confirms to NBC News that Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, is suspect in Alabama standoff
The 'survivalist killer' who allegedly shot dead a bus driver, kidnapped a five-year-old boy and is holding him hostage in an underground bunker has 'absolutely no regard for human life', a neighbor said today.
Jimmy Lee Dykes, a retired Alabama trucker, is known in Midland City for being a violent and paranoid man.
Neighbor Ronda Wilbur told ABCNews: 'I cannot even fathom the whys or anything like that.
'I know that he has totally and completely no regard for human life, or any sort of life.
'I think that he was obviously been
planning something for a long time.
'I had always figured he was more or less a wacko survivalist, but it's obvious that he had this very well thought out and arranged, and it explains as to why he did so much work in the dark.'
Dykes has been holed up in the six by eight foot bunker since Tuesday, when he allegedly got on a school bus and shot and killed driver Charles Poland before snatching Ethan and taking him to the hideaway four feet underground.
Wilbur said that she would often see with a gun patrolling his property when she would return home from work. He would threaten to shoot anyone who came close.
'He was very verbal that he hates all animals, and he didn't want any animals or people anywhere near his land,' she told ABC. 'He told us flat out he would shoot any dogs that came onto his property.'
Wilbur said Dykes beat her 120-pound dog Max with a lead pipe and left him to die at the side of the road. He died a week later.
Five-year-old Ethan has been crying for his mother as police continue to plead with Dykes after it emerged today he may have enough supplies to last for months.
Scroll down to hear the negotiations
Long wait: Police say Jimmy Lee Dykes likely has supplies in his shelter to last weeks or months. He has previously spent eight days in the bunker
Hero: Murdered bus driver Charles Poland Jr, 66, was hailed as a hero for trying to stop the abduction of the children from his school bus. His wife said he loved all of the students he drove
A candlelight vigil honors the memory of bus driver Charles Poland and pleads for the release of a five-year-old boy held hostage in a bunker by Poland's alleged killer
Stand-off: Police are communicating with Dykes through a pipe into his bunker
Police have settled in to Midland City, Alabama, for the long haul as they continue to negotiate with the 'survivalist' and plead with him to let five-year-old Ethan go without harm.
Last night hundreds of people gathered in the city - which has a population of around 2,300 - to say prayers for the boy's safe return.
The crowd also honored Charles Poland, who was allegedly killed by Dykes as he tried to prevent the gunman from hurting any children when he stormed the 66-year-old's bus on Tuesday.
It was revealed today the bus driver was planning on giving Dykes a gift of marmalade and yard eggs the same day he was shot dead to thank him for smoothing out the sand and dirt on a part of the road on the bus route.
Dykes has previously stayed in the bunker for eight days straight and police believe he has enough supplies stored inside to last him several months.
The shelter is about four feet underground, with about six-by-eight feet of floor space
Police say the kindergartener, whose mother calls him 'Love Bug,' is unhurt and is watching TV in the bunker, which has electricity.
He asked for crayons and a coloring book, which Dykes allowed police to pass to him through a four-foot-wide, 60-feet-long PVC pipe that runs into the bunker.
Dkyes has also let police pass the boy medication. Ethan suffers from Asperger's syndrome and ADHD.
The boy's mother has been staying at the command center police established near bunker.
It seems now, though, that police are settling in for the long haul.
'He will have to give up sooner or later because we are not leaving,' Pickard police Chief James Arrington told ABC News. 'It's pretty small, but he's been known to stay in there eight days.'
Prepared: Heavily-armed SWAT officers stood by, ready to act on a moment's notice, as police negotiations with alleged gunman Jimmy Lee Dykes entered their third day
Standing watch: Dykes is allegedly holding a 6-year-old autistic boy hostage in his homemade bunker on his property behind Destiny Church in Midland City, Alabama
Over a hundred people gathered at City Hall for the candlelight vigil in Midland City, Alabama
Aaron Poland and Lydia Hancock, son and daughter of murdered bus driver Charles Poland, react as they talk about him during an interview
'This isn't going to end itself. You need to come out and talk to us...We are not going away,' an officer shouted.
WFSA-TV was able to capture some of the communication.
'Give up! You need to exit the shelter, put down any weapons you have and approach police,' an officer can be heard saying.
Neighbors say Dykes is a 'paranoid survivalist' with 'anti-American views,' who often patrolled his property at night armed with a flashlight and a shotgun and threatened to kill any children who came on his property.
He had been scheduled to appear in court on 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.
Court records showed Dykes was arrested in Florida in 1995 for improper exhibition of a weapon, but the misdemeanor was dismissed.
The circumstances of the arrest were not detailed in his criminal record. He was also arrested for marijuana possession in 2000.
Law officers patrol the Dale County hostage scene on Thursday morning
Panic: A suspect, identified as Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, allegedly held up a school bus Tuesday in Midland City, Alabama, shooting dead the bus driver and taking a boy hostage
Packed: The Alabama State Police, the FBI and the ATF have joined Dale County sheriff's deputies on the scene
National attention: The hostage standoff has turned the nation's focus to the tiny town in rural southeast Alabama - though police are still releasing only minimal information
Witnesses say Dykes may have allegedly kidnapped the boy, thinking he could use a young hostage as leverage against his legal troubles.
The bus driver, Charles Poland, 66, was hailed as a hero at a memorial service on Wednesday - and remembered as a man who loved the children he drove home.
Witnesses said he tried to stop Dykes when he boarded his school bus about 3.30pm as he was dropping students off from school. Dykes allegedly demanded two children.
When Mr Poland intervened, Dykes shot him four times, killing him, witnesses told police.
Little Ethan is said to have fainted after seeing his bus driver shot and that is how Dykes was able to kidnap him.
Jan Poland, the bus driver's wife of 44 years, said she was not surprised her husband gave his life protecting the students on the bus.
'He loved them. He loved everybody and he was loved,' she told the Dothan Eagle.
Day three: Police on Thursday continued their vigil over the area where a young autistic boy is being held hostage in a bunker by a man who allegedly killed the child's bus driver
Out in force: Dozens of local police officers, Alabama State Police troopers and federal agents from the ATF and FBI swarmed the area where the boy was being held captive
Gearing up: A bomb squad unit is also on hand to deal with any possible explosive devices in the bunker
Dykes was supposed to appear in court on Wednesday for a bench trial over a menacing charge.
Dykes’ neighbor, James Edward Davis Jr told the paper that the man pointed a gun at him and his daughter in December, saying that they had driven into his yard.
Another 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.
A girl who was on the school bus when Dykes allegedly stormed it said he referred to his upcoming court case.
'He started talking about how he needed a kid because something about the law coming after him,' she told ABC News.
A sign and crosses honoring the memory of bus driver Charles Poland is erected
Dykes' neighbors described him a violent, paranoid man.
Ronda Wilbur, who lived across the road from Dykes, said he beat her 120-pound dog with a lead pipe for coming onto his side of the dirt road. The dog died a week later.
'He said his only regret was he didn't beat him to death all the way,' Wilbur said. She called animal control, who came out and talked to Dykes, but nothing else happened.
'If a man can kill a dog, and beat it with a lead pipe and brag about it, it's nothing until it's going to be people.'
Neighbors say the bunker is about four feet wide, six feet long and eight feet deep and it's covered by several feet of sand. It was intended to be a bomb shelter.
Dykes, a Vietnam veteran, built it by hand.
Heavily armed: These members of the State Police special operations team are geared up with body armor and assault weapons
Rural: The standoff is taking place outside Midland City, Alabama, which is a rural town in the deep southeast of the state, near the Florida border
Cordoned off: Police set up check points and closed off roads all around the scene of the crime and the site where the boy was being held hostage
'It’s the craziest thing. He will be outside in his yard digging dirt at 2.30 in the morning,' Mr Davis told the Eagle.
He cut down all of the trees on his property, so he could see anyone who approached his house. He also ringed the boarder of his land in barbed wire.
Added Mr Creel: 'He’s the type that thinks the government’s out to get him. He’s not right in the head.'
The boy taken hostage had reportedly fainted on the bus - which is how Dykes was able to carry him away.
'I talked to a girl that was riding the bus, and she told me that he came on the bus and said, "I need two kids between the ages of 6 and 8,"' Michael Creel, Dykes' neighbor, told the Eagle. 'The driver told him, "I can’t do that." (The driver) tried to get away from the guy.'
Witness: This student said the gunman ranted about needing a 'child' to 'get the law off his back' - likely a reference to his court appearance that was scheduled for today
Safe: Parents hugged their children tightly after the ordeal on the bus. Witnesses say the gunman was looking for a hostage because of his legal trouble
Children on the bus said that the man who boarded the bus told most of the students to get off. They then said that the man shot the bus driver several times.
Authorities say the shooter took the child to an area behind nearby Destiny Church. WSFA reported that bomb squads were called to the scene, though there was no sign of explosive devices.
Residents in the immediate area were also evacuated as a precaution.
Midland City police would not comment, and a call to the Dale City Sheriff's office was not answered Tuesday.
However, it was reported that members of a SWAT team are communicating with the suspect in his bunker via a PVC pipe.
The shooting comes as the nation is on edge about gun violence, especially in schools, after a gunman shot dead 20 students and six staff members at a Connecticut elementary school last month, stoking a national debate on gun control.
WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.