February 1, 2013

Alabama hostage standoff stretches into third day

Jay Reeves and Melissa Nelson-Gabriel / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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.

The school bus remained parked on the dirt road, and trooper spokesman Kevin Cook said investigators were in it collecting evidence Friday morning.

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 rural town near the Georgia and Florida borders, 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 often saw him digging in his yard, as if he was preparing to lay down a driveway or building foundation. He lived in a small camping trailer there and patrolled his lawn at night, walking from corner to corner with a flashlight and an assault rifle.

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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