Map of hostage situation/AP
By Bruce Smith and Melissa Nelson-Gabriel, Associated Press
MIDLAND CITY, Ala. (AP) -- The rural town of Midland City, Ala., has long relied on a strong Christian faith to get by. Now those beliefs have been strongly evidence in the days since a gunman killed a school bus driver, nabbed a 5-year-old boy off the bus and fled with his hostage to an underground bunker.
Police say Jim Dykes killed Charles Albert Poland J. before escaping with the kindergartener. On Sunday, more than 500 people paid final tribute to Poland, hailing him as a hero for protecting the other children on the bus.
Fliers imploring people to pray for the little boy have been put up along with ribbons outside the boy's elementary school. And residents have gathered for candlelight vigils each night to pray for the child in the close-knit Alabama community.