A 5-year-old Alabama boy was rescued Monday afternoon when FBI agents
stormed an underground bunker where a 65-year-old retired trucker had
held him hostage since gunning down a school bus driver six days ago.
The kidnapper, Jimmy Lee Dykes, was killed, though the FBI did not say how he died.
agents entered Dykes' homemade bunker in Midland City, Ala., at 3:12
p.m. CT (4:12 p.m. ET) after deciding the autistic boy was in imminent
danger, FBI Special Agent in Charge Steve Richardson said at a news
"Over the past 24 hours, negotiations deteriorated and Mr. Dykes was observed holding a gun," Richardson said.
boy, identified so far only as Ethan, was "physically unharmed" and
taken a hospital in nearby Dothan. He reportedly suffers from Asperger's syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
CBS News reported that Wednesday will be the boy's sixth birthday.
FBI bomb technicians were "clearing the scene," said agency spokesman Jason Pack.
Dykes, a Vietnam-era Navy veteran whom neighbors described
as an anti-social loner, had held the boy six days in his homemade
bunker since abducting him from the bus after gunning down the
66-year-old driver, Charles Poland Jr.
There were reports
of one or two loud bangs on the property, and a neighbor who lives
about a quarter-mile from where Dykes was holed up told the Associated
Press that he heard a boom followed by a gunshot.
A federal law
enforcement official told USA TODAY that authorities took action after
growing increasingly concerned about Dykes' deteriorating mental state
during the past 24 hours.
"They were not going to risk anything,
but it was becoming clear that things were not going in the right
direction,'' said the official, who was briefed on the matter but was
not authorized to comment publicly.
"During the first few days he
was agreeable and was taking care of the kid," the official said. "Maybe
it was just the increasing realization that this was not going to end
well for him."
Authorities had continued to communicate
with Dykes through a ventilation pipe and to supply the boy with
medicine and treats, including coloring books, crayons, potato chips,
cheese crackers and a toy car. Agents also had gain limited visibility
into the 8-foot-by-6-foot bunker.
Dykes had been linked to anti-government survivalists.
a brief news conference earlier Monday afternoon, Dale County Sheriff
Wally Olson said authorities had been "engaged" with Dykes "around the
Olson said Dykes wanted to share "a story that's important
to him, although it's very complex. We're trying to make a safe
In an interview with ABC News, 14-year-old Tarrica
Singletary, one of 21 students aboard the bus, described what happened
last Tuesday afternoon aboard the bus in rural Midland City, tucked in
the red-dirt hills of southeastern Alabama near the Florida Panhandle.
said he was going to kill us, going to kill us all," she said. "The bus
driver kept saying, 'Just please get off the bus,' and (Dykes) said,
'Ah, all right, I'll get off the bus.'"
She said the driver "tried to back up and reverse and (Dykes) pulled out the gun and he just shot him, and he just took Ethan."
Surveillance drones had been flown over Dykes' property, officials said.
gives them more time to study this bunker," said former FBI profiler
Brad Garrett, who is an ABC News consultant. "Does Mr. Dykes have any
explosives? Has he booby trapped the doors if ever they tried to get
"less visible activity" around the command center along Highway 231
than in previous days. The FBI also restricted what images photographers
could take Monday before the bunker was stormed.
State Rep. Steve Clouse, who was in contact with his mother and had provided updated, declared the "nightmare is finally over."
"We're very thankful Ethan is safe and back in the arms of his family," he told The Dothan Eagle."
We must still remember the family of Charles Poland. Because of his
actions, more than 20 people on that bus are still alive."
Poland, who had driven a school bus since 2009, was buried Sunday.
In a statement,
Gov. Robert Bentley called Poland "a true hero who was willing to give
up his life so others might live. We are all inspired by his courage and
"I ask everyone across the state - and the nation - to
continue to lift up these families and the entire Midland City community
in your prayers."