January 31, 2013

Negotiators talking to Ala. hostage-taker through pipe

65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes is accused of killing a school-bus driver and taking a 6-year-old boy hostage.

The Associated Press

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Law enforcement personnel work at check point Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, in Midland City, Ala., near the home where the Tuesday's school bus shooting suspect is barricaded in a bunker with a young child as hostage. Police, SWAT teams and negotiators were at a rural property where a man was believed to be holed up in a homemade bunker Wednesday after fatally shooting the driver of a school bus and fleeing with a 6-year-old child passenger, authorities said. (AP Photo/The Dothan Eagle, Jay Hare)

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Law officers stand beside the Alabama State trooper mobile command post at the Dale County hostage scene in Midland City, Ala. on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. A gunman holed up in a bunker with a 6-year-old 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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No motive has been discussed by investigators, but the police chief said the FBI had evidence suggesting it could be considered a hate crime. Federal authorities have not released any details about the standoff or the investigation. The mayor said he hasn't seen anything tying together Dykes' anti-government views and the allegations against him.

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, her son and her baby grandson over damage Dykes claimed their pickup truck did to a makeshift speed bump in the dirt road. No one was hurt.

The son, James Davis Jr., believes 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."

Neighbors described a number of other run-ins with Dykes in the time since he moved to this small town near the Georgia and Florida borders, in a region known for peanut farming.

A neighbor directly across the street, Brock Parrish, said Dykes usually wore overalls and glasses and his posture was hunched-over. He said Dykes usually drove a run-down "creeper" van with some of the windows covered in aluminum foil.

Parrish saw him often digging in his yard, as if he was preparing a spot to lay down a driveway or a building foundation. He lived in a small camping trailer on the site. He patrolled his lawn at night, walking from corner to corner with a flashlight and an assault rifle.

Mike and Patricia Smith, who also live across the street from Dykes and whose two children were on the bus, said their youngsters had a run-in with him about 10 months ago.

"My bulldogs got loose and went over there," Patricia Smith said. "The children went to get them. He threatened to shoot them if they came back."

Another neighbor, Ronda Wilbur, said Dykes beat her 120-pound dog with a lead pipe for coming onto his side of the dirt road. The dog died a week later.

"He said his only regret was he didn't beat him to death all the way," Wilbur said. "If a man can kill a dog, and beat it with a lead pipe and brag about it, it's nothing until it's going to be people."

Court records showed Dykes was arrested in Florida in 1995 for improper exhibition of a weapon, but the misdemeanor was dismissed. The circumstances of the arrest were not detailed in his criminal record. He was also arrested for marijuana possession in 2000.

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Additional Photos

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In this Tuesday, Jan 29, 2013 photo, residents look over the school bus where a shooting occurred near Destiny Church along U.S. 231, just north of Midland City, Ala. on Tuesday. Police, SWAT teams and negotiators were at a rural property where a man was believed to be holed up in a homemade bunker Wednesday, HAN 30, 2013 after fatally shooting the driver of a school bus and fleeing with a 6-year-old child passenger, authorities said. The man boarded the stopped school bus in the town of Midland City on Tuesday afternoon and shot the driver when he refused to let the child off the bus. The bus driver died. (AP Photo/The Dothan Eagle, Danny Tindell)

  


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