A 6-year-old boy has been held hostage for nearly 24 hours after a gunman shot and killed a bus driver and took the child to a bunker in the south eastern town of Midland City, Alabama. Witnesses say the assailant wanted to take two children hostage.
The hostage situation has been developing since Tuesday afternoon. Authorities have been communicating with the suspect via a PVC pipe connected to his bunker. The captor reportedly told police that he will not hurt the child.
FBI agents, a swat team, State troopers and neighboring police departments have all descended on the scene to aid the local sheriff’s office to aid in the hostage crisis. The FBI took charge of the case early Wednesday morning.
A bomb squad was also deployed as a “precautionary measure” although there is no evidence that any type of explosive device is at the scene.
The Dale County Sherriff’s told the local WBMA-TV that the suspect, identified by a report on DothanEagle.com as 67-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes, shot the driver after he refused to allow the six-year-old child off of the bus.
The driver, who was later identified as 66-year-old Charles Albert Poland, Jr, died from multiple gunshot wounds. Neighbors said the assailant did not appear to know the child he snatched from the bus and reportedly has no children of his own.
Witnesses and neighbors said the assailant then fled into a homemade bunker located on his property. A local resident, Michael Creel, told local NBC affiliate WSFA 12 News that he and his sister went outside after hearing gunshots.
“Me and her started running down the road,” Creel said. “That’s when I realized the bus had its siren going off. Kids were filing out, running down the hill toward the church.” Creel then attempted to chase the suspect down before he reached the bunker.
“He’s 67 years old, so I figured I could catch him,” Creel said. “Apparently he didn’t go through the field like I thought. He’s got a four-foot-wide, about six-foot-long, eight-foot-deep homemade bomb shelter. It’s got about three to four feet of sand on top of it. If you didn’t know it was there, you wouldn’t (notice it).”