Hostage Standoff Continues After Man Kills Bus Driver and Kidnaps Child

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Police and FBI negotiators are still in a standoff with a man who murdered a school bus driver before kidnapping a six-year-old child and holing up in an underground shelter. The trouble began on Tuesday afternoon, when the suspect boarded a bus in Midland City, in southeastern Alabama, and attempted to remove two children. When the driver intervened, the man shot him several times before taking one child and escaping to his home, where he hid in a "homemade bomb shelter" on his property. The bus driver died later from gunshot wounds.

Officials have provided few details about the suspect and his relationship to the child, but CNN reports that the child may have special needs (possibly autism) and is on medication. They also report that the suspect has a history of mental problems and run-ins with the law. A local newspaper, The Dothan Eagle, identified the man as 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes. He was reportedly facing a court hearing today on a charge of a "menacing" after an arrest last month.

The other unknown issue is the nature of the shelter, which has been variously described as a bunker, a storm shelter, or a bomb shelter. One of the man's neighbors, Michael Creel, told The Eagle that, "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)." The neighbors also say the suspect had working on the shelter for more than two years, and may have even stocked it with enough provision to last for months. Creel said Dykes is a Vietnam veteran who is "the type that thinks the government’s out to get him. He’s not right in the head.” 

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Police are only able to communicate with Dykes through a PVC pipe, but were able to send the child's medication to him and they say that the boy is otherwise unharmed. 

While the identity of the bus driver has not been revealed, whoever it is, is sure to emerge as the one hero of this story. All indications are that the driver was only shot after refusing to allow the child to be taken off the bus. All schools in Dale County and Ozark City will be closed on Wednesday because of the incident.

As of 7:00 a.m. Eastern, the standoff had been going on for more than 12 hours with no signs of progress.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.