(Midland City, Ala.) — A retired Alabama truck driver is making his 5-year-old hostage “as comfortable as possible” in an underground bunker, authorities said, as they enter the sixth day of negotiations.
Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, has allowed negotiators to send medicine for the boy, who has only been identified by his first name, Ethan.
Other comfort items, including potato chips, coloring books and toys, have been sent into the bunker for Ethan through a ventilation pipe that leads into the 6-by-8-foot subterranean hideout four feet underground.
“I want to thank him for taking care of our child, that is very important,” Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson said at a news conference on Saturday.
The incident began on Tuesday when Dykes boarded a school bus and demanded two boys between 6 and 8 years old. Bus driver Charles Albert Poland Jr., 66, was shot dead when he tried to block Dykes, who then abducted 5-year-old Ethan.
“The bus driver kept saying, ‘Just please get off the bus,’ and [Dykes] said, ‘Ah, all right, I’ll get off the bus,” said witness Terrica Singletary, 14. “He just tried to back up and reverse and [Dykes] pulled out the gun and he just shot him, and he just took Ethan.”
Neighbors told ABCNews.com that Dykes has been known to retreat underground for up to eight days.
Cindy Steiner, who lives next door to the 5-year-old boy, Ethan, said his mother is worried and just wants her “loving little boy” home safe.
“Because Ethan being autistic, he has behavior problems, and she doesn’t want him to get in one of those moods where he’s uncontrollable,” Steiner told ABC News. “She’s scared what would happen.”
While the community is praying for a peaceful resolution, Steiner said she had a message for 5-year-old Ethan.
“Hang tough, little man,” she said. “We love you. We are praying for you.”
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