Alabama Hostage Standoff: Alleged Kidnapper Has Stayed in Bunker for 8 Days
(MIDLAND CITY, Ala.) — The 5-year-old boy being held hostage by a retired man who allegedly abducted him at gunpoint is in a 6-by-8-foot bunker, where his captor has been known to hold up for eight days, police said.
School bus driver Charles Albert Poland Jr., 66, tried to prevent the kidnapping Tuesday, but was allegedly shot to death on his bus by Jimmy Lee Dykes, a 65-year-old former truck driver.
Police Chief James Arrington of Pinckard, Ala., said the bunker, which Dykes built in his backyard, is 4 feet underground and has a 60-foot plastic pipe coming out of it. Dykes has been communicating with police through the pipe.
“He will have to give up sooner or later because [authorities] are not leaving,” Arrington said. “It’s pretty small, but he’s been known to stay in there eight days.”
Dykes is known to hold anti-government views, Arrington said. “He’s against the government, starting with Obama on down,” he said.
Dykes’ property is in Pinckard’s police jurisdiction in Dale County. Arrington said that authorities have had trouble with Dykes in the past.
“I never had any problem with him before,” he said.”The county has, but not me.”
Dykes boarded the bus Tuesday, allegedly shot Poland four times, then grabbed the child at random and fled.
Now all attention in the community near Midland City, Ala., is on the boy’s safety. The police have not identified the boy, whom Dykes has allowed to watch TV and receive medication sent from home, according to state Rep. Steve Clouse.
The boy’s mother is secluded at the scene with law enforcement, according to ABC-affiliated station WDHN-TV.
Police say Dykes likely has enough food and supplies to remain underground for weeks. It is unclear whether he has made any demands from the bunker-style shelter on his property.
The young hostage is a child with autism.
Multiple agencies have responded to the hostage situation, Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson said. The FBI has assumed the lead in the investigation, and SWAT teams were surrounding the bunker as of Tuesday night.
Former FBI lead hostage negotiator Chris Voss said authorities must proceed with caution.
“You make contact as quickly as you can, but also as gently as you can,” he said. “You don’t try to be assertive; you don’t try to be aggressive.”
Voss said patience is important in delicate situations such as this.
“The more patient approach they take, the less likely they are to make mistakes,” he said. “They need to move slowly to get it right, to communicate properly and slowly and gently unravel this.”
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