The Alabama hostage situation, in which a man held a boy in a bunker for seven days, ended with the suspect dead and the 5-year-old safely rescued.
Reports of an explosion at Jimmy Lee Dykes’ Midland City property came first on Monday afternoon, followed shortly by media reports of his death.
At a hastily organized roadside press conference near the crime scene, FBI agent Steve Richardson said negotiations had deteriorated over the last 24 hours.
He said they entered the bunker shortly after 3 p.m. fearing the child was “in imminent danger,” because they’d seen Dykes, 65, carrying a firearm.
The boy, identified only as Ethan, was transported to a hospital, state Rep. Steve Clouse told CNN. He appeared physically unharmed, remarkably.
Witnesses said they heard a boom and gunfire. Ambulances arrived soon afterward.
The crisis began last Tuesday, January 29, when authorities say Dykes boarded a school bus and demanded that he take two boys between six and eight.
The bus driver, Charles Albert Poland, Jr., is hailed as a hero for putting himself between Dykes and the children. His valor cost him his life.
Dykes shot Poland several times before taking the 5-year-old from the bus.
“You didn’t deserve to die but you died knowing you kept everyone safe,” said a letter from a student that was read aloud at the bus driver’s funeral.
The bunker in which Jimmy Lee Dykes holed up was four feet underground. He equipped it with electricity and was said to have weeks of supplies stored.
Negotiators communicated to him through a ventilation pipe. Because of the risk of tornadoes in Alabama, bunkers are a relative fixture on the landscape.
Authorities sent Ethan’s prescription medicine into the property as well as items the boy requested like Cheez-Its snacks and a red Hot Wheels toy car.
There was open communication with Dykes, according to authorities, but he’d made few demands, making it unclear what he hoped to accomplish.
Some neighbors believed that Dykes may have timed the abduction to nearly coincide with a court appearance scheduled for the day after he shot Poland.
In December, Dykes was arrested for shooting a gun to frighten a neighbor.
For that incident and others, people who lived near Jimmy Lee Dykes were leery of him long before he became a hostage-taker who made national news.
They said he once beat a dog to death with a pipe, warned children they’d be shot for crossing onto his land and guarded his property with a flashlight and gun.
He was reportedly an anti-government loner who allegedly lost contact with an adult daughter years ago, according to people who lived near him.
Jimmy Lee Dykes Dead; Alabama Hostage Standoff Ends