By Jueseppi B.
Jimmy Lee Dykes (Source: Dale Co. Sheriff’s Dept.)
CBS/AP) MIDLAND CITY, Ala. – A U.S. official tells CBS News that a nearly week-long hostage standoff in which a 5-year-old was being held captive in southeast Alabama has ended in the kidnapper’s death. The child is said to be okay.
Authorities said 65-year-old Jimmy Dykes gunned down a school bus driver Tuesday and abducted a 5-year-old boy from the bus before taking him to an underground bunker on his rural property. The driver, 66-year-old Charles Poland Jr., was buried Sunday.
Dykes, a decorated Vietnam-era veteran described as a loner who railed against the government, lived up a dirt road just off the main road north to the state capital of Montgomery, about 80 miles away.
Authorities say growing speculation on the mental state of Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, was the main concern and reasoning for the invasion of the bunker at this time today.
Jim Lee Dykes, 65 — a decorated Vietnam-era veteran known as Jimmy to neighbors — gunned down a school bus driver and abducted a 5-year-old boy from the bus, taking him to an underground bunker on his rural property. The driver, 66-year-old Charles Albert Poland Jr., was buried Sunday.
Dykes, described as a loner who railed against the government, lives up a dirt road outside this tiny hamlet north of Dothan in the southeastern corner of the state. His home is just off the main road north to the state capital of Montgomery, about 80 miles away.
Dykes grew up in the Dothan area. Mel Adams, a Midland City Council member who owns the lot where reporters are gathered, said he has known Dykes since they were ages 3 and 4.
He said Dykes has a sister and a brother, but that he is estranged from his family.
Adams said he didn’t know what caused the falling-out, but that he knew Dykes “had told part of his family to go to hell.”
Government records and interviews with neighbors indicate that Dykes joined the Navy in Midland City, serving on active duty from 1964 to 1969. His record shows several awards, including the Vietnam Service Medal and the Good Conduct Medal. Dykes was trained in aviation maintenance and at one point was based in Japan. It was unclear if he saw combat in Vietnam.
At some point after his time in the Navy, Dykes lived in Florida, where he worked as a surveyor and a long-haul truck driver. It’s unclear how long he stayed there.
He had some scrapes with the law in Florida, including a 1995 arrest for improper exhibition of a weapon. The misdemeanor was dismissed. He also was arrested for marijuana possession in 2000.
He returned to Alabama about two years ago, moving onto the rural tract about 100 yards from his nearest neighbors, Michael Creel and his father, Greg.
Neighbors described Dykes as a man who 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. Michael Creel said Dykes had an adult daughter, but the two lost touch years ago.
Here’s how the siege was ended:
At 3:12 PM State FBI along with assistance from State police, ended the hostage situation. Fearing emanate danger, after observing Dykes with a weapon, the FBI entered the underground bunker on his rural property and shot dead Jimmy Lee Dykes and rescued little Ethan. This move by the Alabama State FBI was orchestrated after negotiations deteriorated.
All praise and thanks to all who worked tirelessly to resolve this situation with the desired results of saving the life of little Ethan who has Asperger’s syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Our prayers, hearts and gratitude go out to the family of hero bus driver, 66-year-old Mr. Charles Albert Poland Jr., who gave his life to protect the other children on that bus. Mr. Charles Albert Poland Jr., was buried Sunday.
In the nearby community of Ozark on Sunday, more than 500 people filed into the Civic Center to pay a final tribute to Poland, who was being hailed as a hero for protecting the other children on the school bus before he was shot Tuesday.
Poland is now “an angel who is watching over” the little boy, said Dale County School Superintendent Donny Bynum, who read letters written by three students who had ridden on Poland’s bus. “You didn’t deserve to die but you died knowing you kept everyone safe,” one child wrote.
Outside the funeral, school buses from several counties lined the funeral procession route. The buses had black ribbons tied to their side mirrors.
Charles Albert Poland Jr., 66, has been identified as the bus driver who was shot after refusing to hand over children from his school bus. The ongoing crisis continues in Alabama; but one must not forget Poland, who died while defending 21 children.
When the gunman came onto the bus, he said he “wanted two boys 6 to 8 years old,” as reported by CBS News. He started down the aisle and the children “scrambled” toward the back of the bus. That is when Poland “put his arm out to grab a pole near the front steps of the vehicle, trying to block the suspect.” He was shot four times at that point and the gunman randomly grabbed a five-year-old boy and fled.
Thank you Mr. Poland, for giving your life so 21 children could live.