Standoff Over Child Hostage in Alabama Enters 5th Day

Ethan, the 5-year-old boy held hostage for several by a gunman, identified by neighbors as Jimmy Lee Dykes, in the underground bunker. Authorities hold tense negotiations with the man and they are delivering medicine to the boy.

Negotiators with the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team have been talking with Jimmy Lee Dykes through a 60-foot PVC air tube. Photo: AP

As an armed standoff entered its fifth day Saturday, authorities negotiated through a ventilation pipe with a man accused of barricading himself and a 5-year-old hostage in an underground bunker in southeastern Alabama, says CNN.

Due to the ventilation pipe to the underground bunker managed to talk to the man and deliver the boy medication for his emotional disorders, but they have not revealed how often they are in touch or what the conversations have been about.

On Friday, the Dale County sheriff did confirm what neighbors have been saying and news outlets around Midland City have been reporting since the standoff began – the suspected gunman’s identity.

He is a 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes, a Vietnam-era veteran who was known to neighbors as a menacing figure, accused of killing a 66-year-old school bus driver, Charles Albert Poland Jr., and abducting the boy Tuesday.

Dykes, 65, had boarded the bus carrying a shotgun and demanded that two boys, ages 6 and 8, come with him.

In the ensuing chaos, 20 of the 21 children were able to escape, but Dykes was able to grab Ethan and take him to a 6’-by-8’ underground room, similar to a tornado shelter, located on his property just outside of Midland City.

Jimmy Lee Dykes is menacing person who has been preparing for this standoff for a while and has threatened to shoot anyone who came near his property.

Ethan, the 5-year-old boy held hostage for several days in a deranged Alabama man’s underground bunker, just wants to go home.

“He’s crying for his parents,” Midland City Mayor Virgil Skipper said of the kindergartener who was pulled off a school bus on Tuesday afternoon by Jimmy Lee Dykes.

The sheriff’s department released a photo of a gray-bearded, unsmiling Dykes and brief physical description: white male, 6 feet tall, weighing 170 pounds with brown eyes and gray hair.

It’s unclear whether the gunman was after a specific child on the bus. Police have said there is no connection between the suspect and the abducted boy.

Still, neither the FBI, nor local law enforcement have stated what possible motive the retired truck driver had for plucking Ethan off the bus and taking him captive.

“I cannot even fathom the whys or anything like that,” Ronda Wilbur, who lives just across a dirt road from Dykes told “I know that he has totally and completely no regard for human life, or any sort of life.”

“He was very verbal that he hates all animals, and he didn’t want any animals or people anywhere near his land,” she said. “He told us flat out he would shoot any dogs that came onto his property.”

Last year Dykes, who Wilbur refers to as “Mean Man,” beat her 120-pound dog Max with a lead pipe when it entered what he perceived as “his side of the road,” she said. Max died a week later.

Residents of Midland City, Ala., continue to hold vigils and offer prayers for a boy. Prayers have also been offered for the slain driver and his family. Former hostage negotiators say authorities must be cautious and patient and that’s how police are handling things so far, reports Alabama’s 13.

Police say Dykes may have enough supplies to last him weeks.

Midland City Mayor Virgil Skipper pleaded Thursday for Dykes to release the boy.

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