Police in Alabama are engaged in a tense stand-off with a deranged man who shot and killed a school bus driver before snatching a 5-or 6-year-old boy off the bus.
Police say Jimmy Lee Dykes, 67, boarded the bus Tuesday afternoon and told the other children to get off. The bus driver, Charles Albert Poland Jr., 66, was shot several times as he attempted to stop Dykes from taking the boy, according to police. Poland was pronounced dead at the scene.
Children who escaped from the bus told a local minister that the kidnapped boy fainted before he was taken off the bus.
The incident occurred in Midland City, a town with a population of 2,300 near the Alabama-Florida state line.
Dykes is holding the child captive in an underground bunker in rural Dale County. A neighbor told WSFA 12 News that Dykes is “like a time bomb waiting to go off.”
Rhonda Wilbur, a neighbor of Dykes, told WSFA 12 News, “The neighbor has been for a long time a source of concern. He killed one of my dogs and I had animal cruelty people out then, and he has been a source of interest for a long time.”
Witnesses tell local NBC affiliate WFSA TV that police are communicating with Dykes through a PVC pipe buried about 8 feet underground.
A neighbor, Michael Creel, told The Dothan Eagle newspaper that the bunker was a “homemade bomb shelter,” roughly 4 feet wide, 6 feet long and 8 feet deep and covered by several feet of sand.
Creel told the newspaper that Dykes was the paranoid type “that thinks the government’s out to get them.”
Another neighbor, Danny Dean, told NBC News that Dykes was always outside his shack digging and moving dirt at all hours of the night.
“He’s always got a shovel,” Dean said. “You would be amazed at the dirt he’s moved with a shovel by hand.”
School officials told the assembled media that schools in Dale County are closed for the rest of the week.
Photo: The Dothan Eagle via AP