February 1, 2013

Authorities release photo of Ala. hostage-taker

Police say Jimmy Lee Dykes killed a bus driver, grabbed a 5-year-old boy off the bus and slipped into an underground bunker, where he's been holed up four days.

The Associated Press

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Authorities gather at the Dale County hostage scene in Midland City, Ala. on Thursday morning, Jan. 31, 2013. A gunman holed up in a bunker with a young hostage has kept law officers at bay since the standoff began when he killed a school bus driver and dragged the boy away, authorities said. (AP Photo/Montgomery Advertiser, Mickey Welsh)

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This photograph released by the Alabama Department of Public Safety shows Jimmy Lee Dykes, a 65-year-old retired truck driver officials identify as the suspect in a fatal shooting and hostage standoff in Midland City, Ala. (AP Photo/Alabama Department of Public Safety)

"He was bragging about it. He said, 'Come check it out," Creel said.

He said he believes Dykes' goal with the standoff is a chance to publicize his political beliefs.

"I believe he wants to rant and rave about politics and government," Creel said. "He's very concerned about his property. He doesn't want his stuff messed with."

Midland City Mayor Virgil Skipper said he has been briefed by law enforcement agents and has visited with the boy's parents.

"He's crying for his parents," he said. "They are holding up good. They are praying and asking all of us to pray with them."

State Rep. Steve Clouse, who represents the Midland City area, said he visited the boy's mother and she is "hanging on by a thread." Clouse said the mother told him that the boy has Asperger's syndrome as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.

Dr. Nadine Kaslow, a family therapist and psychiatry professor at Emory University in Atlanta, said the boy's emotional troubles might make things even more difficult for him.

"They have less way to make sense of things," she said of children with Asperger's and ADHD. "He may be less able to even interact with the person who's holding him hostage than another child might be, and he's less able, for example, to imagine friends that might be there waiting for him, to remember the good things, positive times. Also, he may be more likely to be frightened and overwhelmed and confused by the situation."

The normally quiet red-clay road leading to the bunker was busy Friday with more than a dozen police cars and trucks, a fire truck, a helicopter, officers from multiple agencies and news media near Midland City, a town with a population of 2,300 that's about 100 miles southeast of Montgomery.

Police vehicles have come and gone steadily for hours from the command post, a small church nearby.

Dykes was known around the neighborhood as a menacing figure who neighbors said once beat a dog to death with a lead pipe, threatened to shoot children for setting foot on his property and patrolled his yard at night with a flashlight and a firearm.

He was in the Navy from 1964 to 1969 and served some time in Japan, according to military records.

Authorities said Dykes boarded a stopped school bus filled with children on Tuesday afternoon and demanded two boys between 6 and 8 years old. When the driver tried to block his way, the gunman shot him several times and took the 5-year-old boy.

The bus driver, Charles Albert Poland Jr., 66, was hailed by locals as a hero who gave his life to protect the pupils on his bus.

Dykes had been scheduled to appear in court Wednesday to answer charges he shot at his neighbors in a dispute last month over a speed bump. Neighbor Claudia Davis said he yelled and fired shots at her and her family over damage Dykes claimed their pickup truck did to a makeshift speed bump in the dirt road. No one was hurt.

Davis' son, James Davis Jr., believed Tuesday's shooting was connected to the court date. "I believe he thought I was going to be in court and he was going to get more charges than the menacing, which he deserved, and he had a bunch of stuff to hide and that's why he did it."

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